Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I was reading a book on parenting and wanted to share some of it with you. I’ve italicized the things from the book; the other statements are my own thoughts.


“Becoming a parent means your heart is never your own again. Becoming a Mother will leave you with an emotional wound so raw that you will be forever vulnerable.” Dale Hanson Bourke


God gives us the gift of family. As parents we are constantly working ourselves out of a job. We raise our children to leave us. We take care of them while we’re teaching them to take care of themselves. We transfer freedom and responsibility from our shoulders to theirs in a slow and orderly process as they grow up. Then we let them go. God does not take family away. He merely changes its shape. And in the changes, we have a choice. We can resist, clinging to the past and moaning over our losses. Or we can turn our faces toward this new season with hopeful expectations.


Anticipation is worse than reality. When our children are young and desperately in need of our constant love and protection, we dread the thought of their leaving home one day. “They won’t be ready, and I won’t be ready,” we tell ourselves passionately and rationally. Experience has shown that dread and worry are the paralyzing emotions one conjures up while standing in the present and fretting about the possibilities of the future. God gives us what we need at just the right time we need it. When the day comes for children to leave home, we’re given the strength to cope—just in time.


Transitions are tough. When we love passionately, we can hurt deeply. The exit of a child, especially a first or last child, forever altars the structure of a family and the definitions of individuals. The child’s physical absence leaves a gaping hole in our lives for a time and often catches us by surprise, as if we never saw it coming. Our grief is real and a necessary part of a family’s journey through transition. Some of us respond to losses more deeply than others. Transitions are tough for us; we grieve greatly, but the feelings are temporary. They do pass.


God’s plan is perfect. Our Creator, who divided the year into seasons and the days into mornings and nights, also divided people into families. Families are the safe haven where children are born and raised, a place where the tender shoots are nurtured until their roots grow strong and deep. God willing, I’m apt to spend twice as many years with my adult children in other seasons as I spent actively parenting them in the child-rearing season. That motivates me to let go of the parent-child mode and move toward a mutually satisfying adult-to-adult relationship. God’s timing and plan are perfect, even if I don’t feel that way in the midst of a tough transition, I have to let go of the old and make way for the new.


God promises new beginnings. Something is ending but something new is beginning. As my children have married and embarked on a life with a family of their own, I miss them, their laughter, their voices and their touch. I’m excited for them and happy for their new babies and for the families they have started. I am grateful to God to be included in this new season of their lives. It also brings a new beginning for me and a new season for me, full of potential and opportunity and a chance to grow ever closer to Him.


Each of life’s seasons has its challenges. One is dealing with the unrealistic expectation that when the children are gone we won’t worry about them anymore. The truth is we never cross the goal line. It goes on forever. Though our children are out of sight they are never out of our mind. Once a parent, always a parent. No matter how many miles separate us, we’re forever connected by invisible but powerful bonds, and their concerns are still our concerns.


Father's Day is a day of commemoration and celebration of Dad. It is a day to not only honor your father but all men who have acted as a father figure in your life - whether as Stepfathers, Uncles, Grandfathers, or "Big Brothers."


My dad grew up dirt poor in the Piney Woods of east Texas. He really did walk to school in the snow up hill both ways and had one pair of shoes. He lied about his age so he could join the Coast Guard during WWII. He served as a Gunners Mate on an escort ship. He, like so many other WWII Veterans, never talked too much about his time in the war. My daddy was bigger than life and everyone respected him and all the boys were scared to death of him. The ones that chose to brave asking me or my sister out on a date had to suffer the silence of M.L. while they waited for us to get ready, and we were never ready. Having grown up so poor, I think his heart’s desire was for his children to have everything he never had. We weren’t spoiled by any means, at least in our opinion, but we did have more than some we grew up with. My daddy taught us a strong work ethic and he wasn’t afraid of a good hard days work. When my sister and I were about fourteen and fifteen, he got us a job hoeing (chopping) cotton. We were up and in the field before the sun came up and we left just before the sun went down. Let me tell you, that’s a hard way to earn a living, but we had great tans. My dad loved to watch my brother play football and my sister and me play basketball. He tried to make most every game. He was a man of few words but when he spoke it was with authority and you better listen. The rare times when he would let his guard down and be funny were priceless, and we savored those times.


I remember my dad walking the aisle of the church as well as when I accepted Christ myself. I remember exactly what I was wearing and where we were sitting. I didn’t pay much attention to the sermon that day, as most eleven and twelve year olds, but when my daddy started walking down the aisle to the Pastor, I was paying attention. I guess I never thought about whether or not he was even a Christian. My mom had taken us to church most of our lives and he rarely came. But we had a new Pastor that had been there a few years and he had made it his mission to work on my dad, and God used him to reach that West Texas farmer. The preacher actually left our church not too long after that because he said he felt like he had done what God had sent him there for.


My Father died when I was twenty five years old. I had never lost anyone that was that close to me other than a Great Grandmother and a Grand Dad. I had just started going back to church a few months before my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I was a single mom three hundred miles from family and I felt totally alone. When my dad became ill and we knew he was dying, I was really mad at God, but quickly saw if I gave up on God then I really had nothing. The three month journey I took from my dad’s surgery to his funeral was when God drew me closer than ever to Him and it was a major turning point in my life. I began to have a relationship with Christ that was much more meaningful and I desired to grow closer to Him. There were people in the church I had just begun attending that took me under their wings and I consider them mentors who had a powerful influence in my life. They were instrumental in Gary and me remarrying. I miss my dad so much and wish he could be around to know that our marriage was restored and to see the wonderful young woman Cassandra has become and introduce him to his other grandchildren and now great grandchildren.


I don’t always understand what God is doing in my life and all around me. I sometimes even question some of the things that happen but know that God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. I am grateful that one day I will see my earthly father again and we will spend eternity together because of what my Heavenly Father did for both of us.