Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hardly an Expert

Friday evening I am to present, or orchestrate rather, an evening of family worship time that is instructive and inspirational and though I've had more than two months to prepare, I'm two days away from said event and still have little clue of what will occur. Now I want to be hopeful and say the Holy Spirit will lead us and everything will be awesome but let's be realistic on my role of being prepared. I've felt very lost when it comes to the planning stages and though I've attempted to make an outline dozens of times I'm no closer to figuring it out, YIKES!

Let's take this back just a bit, just in case there are some new readers out there. My husband and I love Jesus with all of our beings. We strive to honor him in every aspect of our life (though we readily admit there are many aspects in which we struggle and do not yet honor Our Father). Almost 3 years ago we sat in our mansion, slaves to our bills with two tiny wild boys and the most perfect baby girl in the world and said, "...this doesn't feel right." Sure we were living the American dream and we've impacted people's lives, but we felt like our life was for SO much more. So we prayed and read and with great counsel we decided to be radical. We sold our dream home and moved into a diverse, working class neighborhood where we live as missionaries to our community. We've created several outreach ministries and facilitate several weekly gatherings in which people are encouraged, allowed and pushed to see Jesus in a whole new way. So far it is going very well (most days!) but I still feel like I'm not doing it right. 

See, my heart is for children. My children specifically, but all children I come into contact with as well. I have always loved children. As a teenager I loved teaching swim lessons, working as an after school counselor, a lifeguard and coaching. Whatever it was that allowed me to share my passions of activities with children was where I belonged. Of course I planned to be a teacher but when it came down to it, I wanted my own children to hold and mold. So we started our family instead of me pursuing a teaching career... how funny that I am now pursuing that teaching position in our home!

All this background to talk for a minute about what happens when I share my heart with others. Often we talk about our family's desire and willingness to obey God in all aspects of life. This doesn't just include parenting but especially parenting and I usually get responses of interest. Occasionally responses of excitement and always nods that agree our role as parents is confusing and therefore a very grey area of life that no one gets right. But I look around and see young adults (and some older ones too) and I think to myself... "no, some parents get it right."

 I inquire the parents about how they parented, I inquire the grown children about what they thought and perceived of their parents' parenting that makes them so different from the world. Of course we know the answer is Jesus, but it's not just Jesus. There is something different that makes these individuals stand out. I think to myself, I want my child (and those God has allowed me to reach) to have those qualities and not just a few of them but all of them! I desire for the fullness of Christ to be in their lives very much real and even tangible, for them to be open, artistic, expressive, confident, adventurous, skillful, intelligent, curious, courageous, honest and in short, GREAT!!

But I fear when we muddle the black and white that exists (and I believe greatly in black and white) and take comfort in the greyness of it all we forfeit those dreams.  I look at it all and think man, this is what I want to figure out. And sometimes other people are really excited and say, "Yeah!!! That's a great idea, let me know what you come up with!" Then I'm left feeling alone and unsure.

Yes this is important, yes this is my passion, but no I don't have a clue about what to do. I'm hardly an expert!

Monday, October 29, 2012

growing into adulthood

     Something you tend to figure out when you become a parent is that you had NO idea what you were talking about when you spoke to a parent whose children were going through a phase, giving them your advice or opinion. Parenting is a full time commitment. On top of your duties to provide for these small humans, you now are responsible for helping shape them into a productive, helpful, self-sufficient, God-loving adult. True we have years to do this so it's not necessarily as overwhelming as it seems. But really, this is a huge deal!

     As a child of God, that has been given the gift of children, I am responsible to teach these children how to learn, how to grow and how to mature in ways that God wants us to. This is a big task and sometimes makes me cry when I know I'm failing in a particular area or moment. These are the times I read Proverbs. The parents handbook!

     I learn SO much and gain a clarity that simplifies my role or lessens my importance when I read Proverbs. After all, I have given my children back to God. He is responsible for growing them into wonderful, Godly, mature adults. My biggest job is to help them find their way without getting too much in the way and teaching them what I know, encouraging them to learn more as they go.

     Over the years I've seen myself in many different lights and discovered huge holes in my own maturity or adultness that I had no clue was there. I look at myself and think, "Wow! How did I not learn that before I was 30??" Sometimes it's disturbing and other times it's embarrassing and still other times it's so, ... well, I don't have words to describe it. I wonder what I'll be learning when I'm 50 or 80??

    Then I wonder, "Who is responsible for teaching me if I didn't learn it while growing up? Where will my children learn to be adults if I, for some reason or other, fail to help them mature properly? Are they going to be 30 year old teenagers? Are they going to be drains on society? And more importantly, are they going to be surrounded by love and accountability to encourage the growth and maturity versus the enablement of childhood??"

    All these things I try not to worry about, even when they cross my mind =D