Monday, December 15, 2014

Parenting: My Apples, His Basket

Happy Almost Christmas Break!  Counting down the days over here.  I started this post LAST week and well, you know, it’s December.  I put it aside to feed my family or something important like that, I am sure.  I am SO enjoying getting all the cards in the mail, seeing everyone’s photos, how the children have grown and the creative ways we are wished a Merry Christmas!  The mailbox is NEVER as much fun as it is during the month of December.  I got mine out over the weekend— a homemade job with a tripod and a remote control.  I really TRIED to have a bonafide photographer to “make” our picture {that was for you, House Full of Boys}, but I really just waited too late.  I debated on the letter but that argument in my head will probably happen every year just like it has happened every year before this one.  As the kids get older, the harder the letter is to write.  There is a fine line between “Read how incredibly awesome my kids are” and “Read this completely boring update on my family”.  Maybe the line is not so fine— but it’s hard to fall somewhere between “sleep aid” and “informative, not braggy and worth the read”.  Anyway, it’s out there and of course, after I’ve sent out “x” number, I begin to second guess even the smallest lines in the letter.

I’ve had this conversation with a handful of friends over the last few months and I was thinking of those when I put in my letter that as Julia reaches being a teenager, we are blazing new trails in parenting.  Not that parents have never raised teenagers before- duh— but that as parents in 2014, the smart phone era, high heels in the children’s department {thongs (!!!!!!!??!!} among other things}, the ever-expanding social media creature, Wifi access everywhere we turn and on and on and on— I FEEL like we ARE blazing trails never trod before— and NEXT year will look different from THIS year.  I’ve spoken with parents not much farther along than we are who really can’t speak to the decisions we have to make regarding JUST social media.  Even Instagram isn’t what it was just a year ago.  Obviously, different parents will make different choices for their kids — that will always be— but I can’t even seem to find a small consistency among my favorite parents, like a pattern or a trusty formula.  {Formulas are so comforting but SO NOT good in parenting.}  So this post is not about “8 things to consider before giving your kids a smart phone or high heels, or wear makeup or play popular video games, or have an Instagram account, or have Wifi in their rooms or watch a certain show or read a certain book series— and a gajillion other things ” because, you know what?  That wears me out and my energy needs to be spent elsewhere.

Their hearts.  That’s where.  That wellspring of life King Solomon talks about.  {“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” Proverbs 4:23}  What springs up from that well today and 5, 10, 30 years from now is a REALLY big deal.  I don’t know about you but it’s so much easier to just tell them to stop— because it’s annoying- or just say “No” to whatever it is they want— because it’s, well, annoying  —rather than engaging their hearts to find out what is really going on and from where the desire is coming or from what does the disobedience stem?  Who has time for that during the school morning rush, or between afternoon activities— or who has the energy for that after dinner is cooked and the kitchen is clean or after the game or practice or at bedtime?  But that’s the work of parenting, yes?  It’s those moments- when I know it’s a heart issue- that I have to “self preach” and remind myself that I signed up for this and investing the time in conversations that make a bee line for the heart COULD be a game changer.  Every time I stop and do MORE THAN just put an end to a behavior, more than just dole out a consequence for disobedience or more than attempt to suppress an unhealthy desire will NOT make difference, but some stops will.  The ones that touch the heart will.  {Just a little pressure to always be on our A-game, right?}  How about, instead, a little encouragement for dependency on Christ 24/7?  And that’s where I am today— trusting in my Savior to do His work.  I can’t make them see how the gospel intersects their lives EVERYDAY.  I can’t change the heart.  I can’t form repentance.  Oh, but He can and I am counting on Him.  All my apples are going into His basket.  {I am self preaching, here, in case you were wondering.}

I remember moving out of the rental house on Clover and being MOR.TI.FIED at the amount of stuff under Julia’s trundle bed.  Oh, yes, there were onlookers.  Mounds, I tell you.  I am not sure how it all was under there but in the midst of the plunder/trash, I saw my handwriting— lots of it on a couple of sheets of paper.  It was a letter I had written to her in response to something hard she had shared with me.  Friends— this letter was a spectacular parenting moment— I mean, right up there with the likes of James Dobson or Vicki Courtney.  I nailed it. Thought so anyway.  And that day, it was trash under the bed, most likely, never to be read, or thought of, again.

It reminds me of HOW dependent I am on the Holy Spirit’s work in my kids’ lives.  I blur the lines so often— trying to BE the Spirit for them, attempting to change outward behavior, pushing them towards the Word—not that we can’t, as parents, encourage our kids to read God’s Word, but one day, I trust I will see them HUNGER and THIRST for His Word from their own soul.  Not mine. All on their own.  His Word can do the work we, their parents, cannot even fathom.  Greater.  Higher.  More profound.  Gentler.  Kinder.  Stronger.  More beautiful.  Bolder.  More fruit than we could ever ask for or imagine.  To HIM be the glory and honor.  He is good.

My apples.  His basket.  Absolutely.

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