Friday, June 15, 2012

"Escaping the Rat Race"

Courtney in "Escaping the Rat Race" (found at Women Living Well) quotes Francis Chan: "Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."

As we build our own bravehearts who have the courage to face fears such as the fear of failure, it is probably good to know that instilling some fears is healthy: fear to cross a busy road and fear to drive while texting are healthy fears.

Chan and Courtney uncover another fear we should help our children have.

The fear of living a busy life that misses what is really important.

Here are some of Courtney's words:

"So often we fear failure. We fear that our children won’t make the ball team or get good enough grades.  We fear wrinkles, grey hairs or missing out on the latest and greatest new gadget for our kids. But do we ever fear being successful at things that – at the end of the day when we stand before God’s throne –  don’t really matter at all?"

"Today I had big plans for our day – it was supposed to be a family day (daddy was off work) and my daughter got a belly ache right in the middle of the day and messed up all of our fun plans.  I was on a mission to make a great day for the kids –  but all she really needed was a mama who loved her and cared about her belly.  My plans faded into the distance – and I was the one disappointed – cause this mama gets sucked into the rat race sometimes!  What mattered to her was not the long list of plans I had but that her mommy would sit quietly on her bed rubbing her hair while she cried.  And this forced pause in our day – reminded me of what really matters in life."

Remember Martha and Mary.  Martha was so busy, serving, that Jesus told her:  "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."  Mary was sitting, listening to Jesus.

What really matters?

Let's help our children know what is important.
And, fear a life consumed by the trivial and busy.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tired of Parenting?

You read books about parenting. You listen to sermons. You read the Bible. You get advice from friends. You talk to teachers, youth pastors, and family.  You even read blogs, like this one.

You go to bed late, finishing the dishes after the kids are in bed. You get up. You hurry.  You drive. You pray. You worry.  You pack and unpack. You go to games and lessons and classes. You help with homework. You cook, eat, clean.  You go to work. You go to church. You make Christmas and birthdays happen. You drive some more. You tuck in little ones and you talk late to teens. You read to them and hold them. You tell them it hurts you more than them, and it is true.

All because you are committed to being the best parent you can be.

All because you want your children to grow well.

Sometimes it seems like there is so much to learn and so much to do.  To do it right.

Fred Rogers said that "life is simple and deep, but we have made it complicated and shallow." This is true for parenting. There is no long list for doing it right. What are the simple and deep things, that bring joy and freedom and refreshment in parenting?  Here are three suggestions:

1. God causes the growth, not you or me. Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God causes the growth." Even as parents, we are planters and waterers in the lives of our children.  We can't make them grow.  God does that.  And, He cares more about them than we do. We can't hurry growth or demand it.  Let go of this burden.  It is God's part.

2. Trust God. Philippians 4:6 and 7 say, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  I love what comes right before this in verse 5:  "The Lord is near."  Be at peace.  He is right here taking care of you and your children.  He knows, He cares, and He is strong. He is near.

3. Keep it simple. Love God. Love people. Love them unconditionally; there is no cost or burden or list of activities to do that. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." "Bring them up" requires being there and knowing them and caring, very relational, love. Teach and talk and hold them for Him. Let them know you care about them and care about Jesus. They will forgive your mistakes if they know you care. Just be there. Most other things don't really matter so much.

We can get lost in good advice and good things to do. And, get tired.

So much really isn't important.

If you get tired, consider what is important.  Consider what you can do and can't do. Consider God's grace and deep love for you and your children. Let Him love them and you. Let Him work.

May God carry you along and take away the burdens you don't need to carry.  May you be able to freshly love.  And, be loved.

You are in good hands.

And, maybe you have other ideas that will help, that you can share below.

Friday, June 8, 2012

"The Go-Nowhere Generation"

In a New York Times article, "The Go-Nowhere Generation," Todd Bucholz and Victoria Bucholz describe a situation addressed in "Out of Sight." The Times article gives compelling reasons to make sure our children have the courage to try. The entire NYT article from March 10 can be found at "The Go-Nowhere Generation." 

Here is the beginning of "The Go-Nowhere Generation."

"Americans are supposed to be mobile and even pushy. Saul Bellow’s Augie March declares, 'I am an American ... first to knock, first admitted.' In 'The Grapes of Wrath,' young Tom Joad loads up his jalopy with pork snacks and relatives, and the family flees the Oklahoma dust bowl for sun-kissed California. Along the way, Granma dies, but the Joads keep going."

"But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse and sedentary. The timing is terrible. With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a foreclosure rate that would grab the attention of the Joads, young Americans are less inclined to pack up and move to sunnier economic climes."

"The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees. According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere. This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about."

Young people (or anyone!) who are "risk-averse and sedentary" will not grow, use their gifts, or fulfill the best God has for them.

"The Go-Nowhere Generation" ends by saying that we must do "whatever it takes to get our kids back on the road."  They are right.

While home should be a secure place and maybe a retreat, it should give courage to launch, not stay.  How do we make home comfortable and safe, but at the same time make sure our children have the courage to leave, grow, and make a difference?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Out of Sight

Sarah is in Israel for the summer, interning at Nazareth Village.

Nazareth Village (
Dana and I noticed an interesting phenomena. The further Sarah got from home, the less we worried. Now, don't get me wrong, we still care. But, we have peace knowing the family she is living with, that good plans have been made, and that she is with two great friends.  And, we pray, get emails, and expect to Skype some.

We have found that we get more worried about our children driving from our home to the grocery than we do when they are in other countries. When they get in the car here, we want so much to say "Go slow," "There are crazy drivers," or what has become a standard line that expresses our angst, "Be careful, it is slippery out there." Said even in dry weather.

It seems that one of the best steps we can take to help our older children be bravehearts is to get them out of our sight.

That doesn't mean that we don't love them and care and want them to be safe and succeed. It means that there comes a time when some distance helps them know we trust them, that they are capable, and that what happens depends on their choices.

Courage does not happen when we are comfortable. Without taking risks that need courage, growth slows and impact is hindered.

Jesus found difficulty in being accepted in his hometown and said "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."  There is something about making a difference that does not happen as well close to home.  It is hard for family to let go of the past and, perhaps, their continued desire to care and worry. When in the close circle of being known, we often have a hard time being free to become a person who is using gifts and opportunities boldly.

How do we help growing and older children to get out sight so they can boldly use their gifts with courage?
And, hopefully we can relax more! Here are three ideas:

1. As they grow, increasingly give them times when you are not there to watch and intervene.  If separation anxiety exists, make sure it isn't yours! Drop them off and go.Don't watch recess from behind a tree or soccer practice from the bleachers. Let them grow and learn to trust God without you, in progressively larger steps.
2. Keep building your own life. God is God, children aren't gods to absorb all of our attention. Build memories with your spouse. Find expanding ways to use your time for others as your children grow. Develop your own gifts and impact so that you can let go and they know you have a life without them. Help them learn they aren't the center of the world and that you won't always rescue them, even though you care deeply.
3. Help children learn to manage risk and approve their plans, asking all of the questions you need to ask. Our son, Luke, and friends wanted to go to Florida for spring break during their senior year of high school. We said no. Until they developed a plan to be on the west coast, away from some big beaches. And, to stay with the grandmother of one of the young men!

I won't say that we haven't been watching the weather in Israel and reading maps and books about the area now. We have. And, we love getting email updates. But, I don't worry about the detail, partly because I don't know them. That isn't bad. That is healthy.

Sometimes helping children be brave is harder on parents than on the child. Maybe it will help to get them out of sight a bit, we can learn to trust better and they can grow.

God bless you in this hard parenting work!