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March 2016

Letting Go – Trusting God in Parenting Young Adults

I’m well aware his God loves him way more than I do and that He’s “got this.”  The kid’s studied for years.  He is fiercely determined and his heart has longed for the mountains and the trees since long before he was old enough to articulate that longing.  I gave him his name because every man I knew who had it was strong and courageous and gentlemanly and determined.  He is those things, and more.  But I can’t seem to stop crying every time I think of my second son’s leaving on this first big journey of his lifetime, off to hike the Appalachian Trail.  I’m trusting God in parenting, but that doesn’t make this moment one. bit. easier.  Truthfully, I’m fighting images of his having to pry me off, because I don’t want to let go.

 

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I promised I’d be honest;  I wouldn’t trade one moment of it for all the giddy laughter in the world.  But truthfully speaking, parenting a strong-willed adventurer has not been easy.  He’s needed to go against the grain since birth, although a big-sister-in-faith called it long before my young mama-eyes saw it.  “He’s your strong willed one,” she said.  “Him?  Nooooo…”  My smallest baby at birth, the funny guy, the one we thought would have his own comedy show, he couldn’t be that.  But he has always known the way he would go (even if it was just NOT the way he was expected to), and he has determined to take step after step in that direction, regardless of anyone’s mere opinion, and whether or not those in charge could tell if his heart was in the right place.

 

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As a home-schooling mom, I admit with sadness that I threatened to send him away to learn, because I found it so difficult to teach this boy.  But can I tell you?  My heart broke when I realized the not-just-pointlessness of my threats, but the damage they might cause, because really, I couldn’t have done it, and really, he was teaching me along the way.  Or for sure God was, because sometimes moms need their little ones to show them Truth where they might not otherwise see it.

 

 

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The truth is, when I felt a failure as a mom, when I’ve felt ill-equipped or unable, those are the times I needed to hit my knees and beg help from my God.  And those times rang familiar when my boy also found it impossible to do what was hard, but good.  And together, we’ve had to cling to our Hope in the One who did what was impossible, so that we could keep going.

 

 

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Those conversations I talk about?  There have been plenty with my boy.  Far too many that went round-and-round as two determined people circled a given issue, and many that required the at-times-unwanted intervention of a dad who wisely said, “STOP,” and often, “PRAY.”  Sometimes there weren’t easy answers to our parenting or his child questions.  Sometimes answers meant revising everything we thought we should do as parents.  Sometimes we had to come to verbal blows to break through to a truth that needed to be understood.  But always, always, underlying our journey as parents-and-son, as a family with lots of moving people-parts, there has been the flavor of Love.  The knowledge that God made us for each other, and He made us each for a higher calling, too, that really ultimately only points to His glory, for our good, that has held us aloft.

 

 

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Can I tell you?  Parenting isn’t what I expected.  When the kids were tiny and there were several of them, well-meaning onlookers would say, “wait till they’re teenagers.”  It was said with what, as a young mom, I saw as a sneer.  An all-knowing lilt of doom colored their words, ripe with expectation of dark times when hormones hit.  The truth I fought for, though, is that God doesn’t create beings that lose their humanity when their age reaches double digits.  They’re broken, yes, and they’ve got certain traits that make work necessary, but so do we all.  And can I tell you?  I still fight that ridiculous notion that all teenagers must hate their parents and rebel hopelessly against them.  Still, there are tough times that call for greatest attention in those years, and most of all they call for us to plunge into the deep end, to fearlessly pursue when sometimes we want to run, because if we look closely we’ll find a sort of looking-glass, a mirror of our own brokenness, our own fears, and our own desperate need for a Savior to rescue us from our own stupidity.

 

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So young mama, look that stranger in they eyes when they speak “knowingly,” boding hardship for your future.  Dare them to respond to a calm, measured reply like, “Isn’t God awesome?”  Because their foreboding is unbiased.  God promises us He will work for His glory and their good, when our children love Him.  He promises us that His word will never return void.  As my friend Tami told me time and again over the years, if I fail everything but to point my kids to Jesus on a given day, I have not failed at all.  J, my son, I’m letting you go (just a little bit) today… but I’m pointing you to Jesus.  He’s your only life, and He’s your only reason.  He is your strength to live that life and that reason.

 

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Our second sets out to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail this week, the week he’s turned 18, man-years by our country’s measurement.  But God measures a man by far higher standards.  And I’m a mom who’s spoiled enough to see those standards coming to fruition.  Imperfectly, with stumbles along the way, but by God’s grace, step by step, he’s walking forward in Grace.

 

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What are your hardest parenting moments?  The ones where you know you can’t take one more step without desperately needed help?

 

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Courage. {New Adventures and an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike}

Last year, I wrote a series I called “Undaunted.” I wrote about a period in my life when God broke down everything familiar to me, every single thing I considered a “strength,” and worked through my own brokenness to show me just how “God” He is.  This week, I watch Him working in a new way, as once again He removes what is familiar and “safe” from my perspective, and dares me into a new place of trusting and courage.  He’s got better views, harder climbs, and deeper love to introduce me to.

 

My second son begins a tru-hike of the Appalachian Trail next week.  After three years of study, preparation, and straining against the “yoke” of still being a child while becoming a man, he sets off on half a year of adventure and agony, of hard work and infinite reward.  He and a friend, with whom he made a pact shortly after they met as boys to take this journey together, will set off on a walk that may transform everything they knew about hard work, and sacrifice, and loyalty, and hearing from their Creator through the magical artwork He’s placed all around us, if we only open our eyes to see.  Practically speaking, he’s throwing off the expectations of those who love him and even of his own mind, to dive into an experience of a lifetime.  It’s the culmination of an early education in which we tried to instill a sense of value for learning, of attention to the Truth as expressed first through God’s word and then through His creation, and of being willing to go against the grain for a higher calling.  When we named our boy, I prayed and hoped for a man of courage to grow from that baby, and he is taking steps to flesh out that prayer in a way I couldn’t have imagined.  He will have the opportunity himself to yield to the shaping of His Papa, to listen and learn what He has to say through this walk.

 

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When I wrote about our journey to the east coast, I dug into the story of “Sarah, Abraham’s wife, as retold in 1 Peter 3.  Most telling to me was the mention, as it applauds her honor of her husband, that we will also be lauded if we “do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3:6).”  I thought, “How the writer must have known that desperate, raging desire that simmers ever, to either control our circumstances to our standards, or else give up and run and hide.”  I still struggle with that desire, as I suspect we all do, to either take matters into our own hands, or to duck and run when things seem too hard.

 

As our second-born stretches his wings and prepares to leap from the proverbial nest, I’m feeling dared, too, to do some stretching.  I’ve long sensed an urge to write harder things, with more boldness.  To address thoughts and conversations both in our family and in the world itself, the faith-world in particular, in a way that comes from the deepest place in my heart that wrestles with them.  I’m inviting you, if you’re reading, to come with me on an adventure, where we’ll traverse hard roads that have twists and turns, steep pitches and deep caverns.  It’s my desire always to continue that “dancing with my Father…” to seek His wisdom in understanding hard questions.  I’m painfully aware that I’m the girl who will often get it wrong, so I’m hoping for a conversation (with my Papa and with you, friend!) that challenges me when I do, and for humility to admit it and to go deeper for more answers along the way!  But I’m longing to make the conversation bigger, and braver, and in so doing, inspire others to be brave, too.

 

So if you notice a turn to more daring things, will you come along with me?  Will you answer back and ask more questions; will you dare me to go deeper as hopefully, I will dare you?  I’d love for you to share thoughts you’ve had, questions that make your brain spin, and issues that make your blood boil.  I’d love to still giggle together at the wild and wonderful moments that make up this life, and the small celebrations that give it light.  To that end, I’m also starting a second blog called Sal et Lux, where I’m planning to share recipes, home-making, and ideas for creative hospitality.  I’ll still do that some here, but I’m going to listen to what I think is a call to the next phase in being undaunted.

 

And if you pray, would you lift up my second son, as he does so in an even more tangible way?  His Papa loves Him more than I do, so I know He will only allow what is best for his good and His own glory.  But still, this mama-heart aches in a good-hard way to open my arms and cheer for my boy as he runs, in the way we’ve always prayed he would, to what is hard and wild and bravely-wonderful.

 

Much love, friend!  (And please do share your thoughts below!)

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