raising kids

The Toughest Job I Have Ever Loved

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I just spent the weekend at our senior high youth group retreat. All I can say is it was fun,
awesome and hard. It was hard for me me physically, emotionally, and especially spiritually.It’s easy for me to tell you why it was hard physically and emotionally. It was hard because I’m 40 and acted like a teenager. My body is still reminding me days later of that.

But spiritually is harder to explain.

I spent the weekend with these incredible young people. They are funny, witty, talented, gifted, smart, and they never cease to amaze me. I feel privileged to be one of their youth group leaders. And even though I’m old enough to be their mom, (my three teens are in the group)they always make me feel welcome. That is one of the many traits that shows their true character. The other thing that amazes me is their hunger for God and their willingness to seek after the answers to how to feed that hunger. The camp was awesome, but what was really awesome is how God showed up.

These young men and women praise God and welcome his presence and are chasing after Him more and more each week. But I do find my self asking the question of why are these
teenagers, as well as most teenagers and young people so often overlooked?

I have three teens. No matter what they tell you, or how many books you read nothing prepares you for raising teens. It’s hard! There is so much pressure as a parent to do the right thing. But I think we, as parents, as teachers, and grown ups forget that the teens feel just as much pressure, if not more, than we do. It is, after all, their life too.

It’s hard as a parent to recognize that your child is no longer a kid. The years go so fast, it’s just hard to see it sometimes. Yet we expect so much for our teens.

So here’s the part that that affected me so profoundly this weekend. We expect so much from our teens. And most of the time we focus on their grades, on whether they have done their chores, are they getting along with their siblings and friends, are they focused too much on the opposite sex, will they get into college, and what are they going to do with the rest of their lives?

But we forget to ask the really important questions. Do they have character? Are they well
rounded? Are they happy and comfortable in their skin? Do they still love to learn like they did when they were little? And the most importance question. Do they have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Now I don’t mean are they saved, but do they have relationship? These kids need a relationship with Christ to face the world. Let’s face it, life is hard even when you have a great relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship, we have nothing, and all else is in vain.

Sometimes I think we as grow ups get in Gods way. He wants to lead our teens and meet them where they are, but we as adults, get in His way. We don’t meet them where they are. We don’t listen. I sometimes think we even look at them as less because they are still children. What we need to do is ask God for guidance during this critical time in their lives.

When my kids were still young, I was having an awful day. I went in my room and cried. I asked God to help me with my kids. He simply told me to stop trying to be everything they needed and do everything right for them. He said “you are not their savior, I am”. Point them to me. Now I’m not saying that the academics, the grades, the chores, the obedience, and all are not important. They are important. But what I’m saying is a person’s character and their relationship with Christ is more important. The most important. In fact, with a great relationship with Jesus Christ and great character the other things will take care of themselves.

So many of our teens are broken and hurting. They are confused and stressed out. We put so much pressure on them to have it all figured out by the time they graduate, that we, sometimes, miss the easy answer. More time and more of God in their life and the understanding that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

One thing we have to remember is that our kids don’t really belong to us. They belong to God. He created them with a purpose. We, as parents, must seek after God and ask how to raise our kids. We must ask who he designed them to be. We must encourage them in their God given gifts and help them be who he has called them to be and not just who we think they should be.

I know it’s hard, but we can do it. If you, yourself don’t have a relationship with Christ that’s the place to start. Then we also must understand that we are going to fail and get things wrong as parents and leaders in children’s lives. So, we must forgive ourselves and start each day new. We must open our minds and know that Gods ways are not our ways. We need to seek God and ask him to lead us and then follow that direction. We must use discernment for the seasons of our kids lives. We must give them the chance to grow, test things out, to fail, to succeed, and to be themselves, knowing that we love them no matter what. And that they will make mistakes.

The teen years are hard for both teens and parents. But it is training ground for adulthood. A time when kids become adults and learn how to stand on their own two feet. And hopefully a time when they are developing their own personal relationship with Christ.

I will leave you with this thought. I look at the teen years as a time that it is safe for my kids to try things and fail. And I don’t mean trying out sinful things, though that does happen too. But I mean new and different ways of doing things and learning along the way. Yes, they still need boundaries, but much bigger boundaries than when they were ten, they need room to grow. I love analogies. God speaks to me in pictures. God showed me a picture of parenthood being like rock climbing. I’m anchored in and my kids are tied around my waist. I would rather they fall off the edge now, while anchored to me, than to fall off once they are on their own, because it can be a long way down. While anchored to me they have a safety net so to speak. A place to come back to and talk about their mistakes. A place to be loved and hopefully a place where we point them back to the only one with all the answers. Our savior, Jesus Christ.

So if you are struggling as a parent, or even as a teen reading this. Have hope. It won’t always be this way and you will get through the tough teenage years. Look to God, because he is the only one who knows all. He will get you through. And if you mess up, as a parent or a teen, know that we all make mistakes and that failing down is part of life, but you can’t stay there. So, pick yourself up, dust your self off, thank God he’s always with us and move on down the road, knowing that there are better days ahead.

Ephesians 6
Malachi 4:6
Isaiah 54:13

The Waiting Room

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I have four kids, and have been in waiting rooms too many times to count. Even in today’s waiting room with the TVs and endless stack of magazines, it is still not a place you want to be. In reality, I don’t think there is anyone who enjoys just waiting. Whether it is at a red light, waiting for that microwave lunch dinner, or waiting for Friday’s paycheck, most of us are impatient and waiting just is not our strong suit.

I am currently in a season of waiting. Waiting on God’s timing for several things in my life and in my opinion waiting is hard! The thought of waiting of God’s timing is a simple thought, but just because something is simple, does not make it easy. Most of the time when we are waiting it is because God is getting us ready. Ready for what He has for us, and so we will be the person He needs us to be to handle what he has. In this type of season, a season of transition, there are several things we need to be careful of. We need to make sure we don’t run ahead of God. We need to make sure we don’t take God’s plans for us into our own hands. And we need to remind ourselves that God’s ways are not our ways. God’s plans for us are often bigger than we can see for ourselves. So if you are in a season of waiting, be encouraged! God’s will win out and in His timing all things will come together. In the meantime, enjoy the moments for they will never come again and know that you are protected and given the strength to wait.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

Eagle’s Flight

The eagle soars on the mountain high

You too can soar and learn to fly

All that is within you, let it be free

They’re no restrictions, not even the ones you think you see

Your spirit flies high above on the wind

Your pride stays grounded, not knowing how to bend

The choice is yours, to fail to succeed,

It is up to you, either way you will bleed

Goals are set forth for some to achieve,

It is for you, if only you believe

Some people wait to follow not wanting to lead,

They wait endlessly and never succeed

But you that is not, for you that will never be,

Your spirit will lead you, for it has always been free

Though days may pass, have no fear

Your spirit flies high on the mountain and there is no fear here

Your day is coming, just around the bend

Victory is waiting, that is the stories’ end

Here is the answer, here is the way

Trust God and talk to him each and every day

And be all you can be, soar to great heights

Become an eagle and join the eagle’s flight

Leah Jacobsen

© 2000

A little mud makes things better

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I really can be an “indoor” kind of girl, though that has not always been the case. I grew up until the age of 14 in the Appalachian Mountains and spent many a day outside doing whatever. Even though that was a long time ago, that country girl comes out sometimes, accent and all. If there is one thing I truly miss about my childhood and the mountains, it is the lifestyle of spending sunny days digging in the dirt and playing in the streams. I have so many wonderful memories of those things.
So today, with the plentiful sunshine and a warm breeze I ask my 8 year old if he wanted to take a walk. He replied in a less enthusiastic manner, but off we went out the back door. We have a large amount of woods behind our home, and years ago we carved out a trail. I always love walking on a trail so much better than on a street. Well, we head off on our trail and in the back of our trail there is a large clearing where the land has been lumbered. In this clearing were several large puddles of water. Inspiration hit me, and being a home school mom I knew there was something to be learned.

I thought of all the times I loved playing in the streams and mud. So I told my son, let’s make a river and see how big we can make this one puddle. Well, now he replied with an enthusiastic “ yes”. We headed back to get a hoe and shovel as I explained how irrigation worked years ago. Well an hour later we had us a nice little river flowing from one puddle to the next and my son was super excited. We continued to play, splash, and build dams to make the water go from one place to another. At one point we built a dam and pooled a large amount of water before breaking the dam and watching the large stream flood into our small pond (now much too large to be called a puddle). It all felt so wonderful, the digging and work, the warm sun beating down on us, and most of all , the laughter from my child as he would slip in the mud or splash in our homemade stream. I enjoyed it as much as he did, as I basked in my memories of days gone by, and knew we were making new memories right in this moment. As he continued to come up with new ideas of how to make the water go in new directions and continued to have great fun playing in the mud, I stood there and just took in the moment. I am grateful for today. I am grateful for these moments that will become memories. I am grateful for my son. I am grateful for this time to spend with him. It made me think of how ungrateful I can be some days when life is pressing in on me and I am caught up in the hustle and bustle. It reminded me to be thankful for all the moments and small things in my life as well as the big things. I have much to be thankful for, and today I was so thankful for the sunshine, my kid and for mud.

At the end of all this as we were picking up our tools, my eight year old said “Mom, this was fun, we should do it more often. I said “you’re right”. I smiled as we headed back up our trail and thought how wonderful it is to be called “Mom” and how a little mud can make everything better.