Tuesday, May 30, 2023

a prayer for my kids

Dear God,

This world is crazier by the minute. It seems like every day there are new reports of all the ways people are turning away from You and against everything You have declared as good. It isn’t surprising—You warned us about just how bad things would get as the return of Christ draws closer. You told us about the selfishness, about how easily offended people would be, about betrayal and lawlessness and a lack of love for people.

But like so many, I’ve been caught off guard by this being the world I’m preparing to send my kids out into. It’s so much different than the world I knew at their age, and in so many ways I feel completely inadequate when it comes to preparing them. They are facing so many challenges I never even thought possible. They are growing up in a world that calls evil good, truth a lie, love hate, and mutilation affirmation. They are told that the only way to be loving is to go along with someone’s confusion and delusion. “Boy” and “girl” are just meaningless words. Being white in the United States makes you an oppressor by default. “Love” can be defined however you want—unless, of course, you want to use the biblical definition that says love has to be in line with God.

It’s so easy for me to be overwhelmed because it seems like such an impossible task to raise kids who will be able to stand against the unimaginable pressures of such an ungodly world. But God, I know Your promises are true. I know You have determined where and when my kids should live. I know that You have had plans for their lives since the beginning of time—that they “are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10) I know that I’m not enough to prepare them for what’s ahead of them—but You are. You’ve known what they would face since You knit them together (Psalm 139:13-16), and You know exactly what challenges and struggles and victories and tears are necessary to refine their souls.

God, I pray You will draw my kids to You. I pray You will make their hearts desperate for You alone and that You will praise them up to be mighty warriors for You. Please give them the strength to stand when those around them crumble. Give them the integrity to do what’s right no matter the consequence. Give them Your wisdom so they can discern Your will for their lives, then the courage to go against this world in order to follow You.

I wish my kids could face a future full of daisies and butterflies, a future with easy decisions and nothing but peace and happiness. The reality, though, is that life on this earth is hard. My kids have tears and pain and trials ahead of them, probably things I can’t even begin to imagine. In the midst of the bad, though, I hope they will see You. It’s been in my hardest times that I look back and can see You at work on me. My prayer is that my kids will be wiser than I am and will learn the hard lessons without the hard times—that it won’t take a 2x4 to get it through their skulls—but if they are anything like their mother… well, I pray You will pull them through the hard lessons without too much damage done!

Asking You to make my kids warriors for You is hard. Warriors have to be trained; a warrior in the spiritual battle has to learn to fight against the schemes of a desperate enemy, one who wants nothing more than to see them fall. And just like that physical training requires sacrifice and discomfort, spiritual training requires the same. And that spiritual training? It carries much higher risks. But I know You love my kids more than I ever could. You know them better than I ever could. You’ll train them better than I ever could. So I ask You to give me the strength, perseverance, and wisdom to love my kids and to train them to the best of my ability—and then to let them go and to trust them to You.

Isaiah 43:1-3a
Eternal One: Remember who created you, O Jacob?
        Who shaped you, O Israel?
    See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back.
        I have chosen you, named you as My own.
    When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm;
        you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
    If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs,
        keep going; you won’t be burned.
    Because I, the Eternal One, am your God.
        I am the Holy One of Israel, and I will save you.

Friday, May 19, 2023

mama bear

As parents, we want what's best for our kids. Most of us would do anything in our power to give our kids a great life. It cuts us to our core when we see our kids hurt or struggling with something, and we would love to be able to make everything work out perfectly in their lives. We love to see them smile and would be willing to go to war if something makes them cry--and these things seem even more true for moms.

The thing is, our kids don't need us to constantly fight their battles.

As moms, our job is to raise these little people who have been entrusted to us and teach them to be capable, productive adults who chase after God. Perhaps the largest part of that is teaching them how to deal with when things in life don't go the way they want. I don't know about you, but I think it's safe to say that in my life, I can point to a lot more times when things went wrong than when they went exactly how I wanted or planned for them to. It would be illogical for me to think that life will be different for my kids in the future. When they go out into the world, they are going to be facing hard things. And out there? I won't be there to keep people from saying mean things or from treating them in a way I don't like.

It seems more and more moms are proudly adopting the "mama bear" persona: ready to rush in at the first glimpse of any perceived threat, loud and growling and ready to fight. They wear it as a badge of honor:

Mama Bear Cub Quotes - Quotes The Day 

In our society today, it's almost like people think that loudly defending our kids is what defines a good mom, and that we are somehow failing our kids if that's not what we do.

What if the opposite is true? What if always rushing to our child's defense, roaring onto the scene with our fur standing on end and teeth bared isn't what's best for our kids?

That's not to say that we should never defend our kids. If there's a true threat to any one of my kids, you can bet I'll step in. But when the teacher gives my kids a zero because they didn't turn in an assignment? That's on my kid. If my kid failed a test because they didn't think there was a need to study? Again, you won't see me rushing to the school.

Choices have consequences. As important as I believe education to be, a bad grade isn't the end of the world (don't tell my kids I said that!). The bigger deal, though? I want my kids to learn responsibility while they are young and living under my roof. When one of our kids earns a C on a report card, they lose all screen privileges until that grade has been improved and proof comes in the form of the next grade report... meaning the 5-week progress report. Definitely not a fun thing, but what happens if my kids don't take responsibility for their actions in the future? If they don't live up to expectations at work, they lose a lot more than screen privileges. If they don't step up and meet requirements as a parent, the consequences are life shattering.

But what if it's something my kid isn't responsible for? What if, for example, they are left out and not invited to something when everybody else is? Guess what? Even then, we moms need to take a step back. As much as we love our kids and see all their wonderful qualities, not everybody in this world is going to like them. And as hard as that lesson is to learn, I would much rather they learn it while they are at home, loved.

Kids are resilient, and they are a lot more capable than we, as moms, often give them credit for. Our job is to love our kids, but love doesn't mean just making things easy for them. Sometimes love means taking a step back and letting our kids learn hard lessons. It means letting them deal with the consequences of a uniform left at home, or an assignment not turned it. It means being the "bad guy" who takes away their devices when they don't demonstrate responsibility. It means teaching them that this world isn't always going to be nice--but that they are strong enough to deal with it.

So mom, don't always rush to the rescue. Don't give your kids the impression that the world revolves around them. Instead, raise them up to be strong. Teach them they can do hard things. Show them that you believe they are capable by letting them make decisions, mess up, and fix their own mistakes. Teach them to be self-reliant. Give them the confidence to stand on their own two feet, even when there are things trying to push them down.

Love them--by being willing to let go and let them grow.

Parents, step up

  Like every generation before us, we bemoan the current state of the younger generation. And like every generation before us, it's our ...

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