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Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

Sean and David 1

Parenting is hard.

In fact, the actual act of giving birth is the easiest part. Once those big brown (or green or blue) eyes look into your soul and those little fingers get a grip around your heart, you are toast. And the pressure to be everything they need is overwhelming. It’s really the hardest and longest battle of any parent’s life ~ the battle to let them go.

It starts around age two. Some call it the “terrible 2s” – not sure why – just because my beautiful compliant baby has now learned the word “no” and refuses to wear clothes in public?

We work so hard to help our kids learn right from wrong. We teach them colors and numbers and letters…we listen and love…doing fractions homework and science fair projects…agonizing together through middle school, watching them struggle, succeed, struggle, succeed, over and over and over.

This parenting gig is gut-wrenching.

High school – late nights listening for the garage door to open or the text to ping. Meeting new friends… people of both genders passing through your living room. You pray the lessons on purity and kindness and integrity are being lived out away from your watchful eyes. Attending the “last” of anything brings out the waterworks – last band concert, last baseball game, last youth group, last family vacation, last Christmas together in one house.

That empty nest feels like a staycation…for about a week. Then the house is too quiet, the bedroom too picked up, the laundry basket and kitchen sink too empty.

It is not easy…releasing the chick to fly on his own. And now I know – releasing would be easier if you absolutely knew they would never encounter any obstacles.

So I sit and pray…listen and love…give advice only when asked but trusting always in the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give…to me and to him.

He must face life now, somehow without the seat belt we buckled him in 20+ years ago. The pressure on him is intense…pressure that I know can crush. If I didn’t trust in the only One who loves him more than I do, I would be lost. He faces struggles unknown – financial, emotional, mental – as all of us do in this life journey. The adventure which was once exhilarating is now lonely and dark and fraught with danger and shadows. Fear of failure threatens him – broken dreams and battered promises line his path. He must now rely on his own faith journey, without me or his dad as a buffer.

Parenting never gets easier. A pattern never develops. There is no book that has all the answers (even the Bible couldn’t help me with the “why won’t he wear clothes?” question).

I’ve gone from parent to teacher to coach to cheerleader with stints as referee here and there. Just when you think you’ve got it, you either have another kid who is the polar opposite or the first one changes personality and temperament overnight.

My husband and I pray every morning that our kids make good choices, that doors will open and doors will close, that they would be salt and light wherever they go, that they would have favor and financial provision and wisdom. Always wisdom. May they have the courage they need to fight each battle with bravery and conviction. And that they would never give up on themselves or their dreams.

I’ll pray the same for you today…as you parent your children. We love these little bundles of joy and heartache ~ may you be armed with strength and courage, love and kindness, hope and long-suffering. May the Holy Spirit guard your mind from doubt and give you wisdom for the darkest nights and brightest days ahead.

jeremiah_hands

 

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Willie Robertson

My husband and I had the opportunity to attend this morning’s Good Friday Prayer Breakfast in downtown Cedar Rapids. It was held in the newly-renovated DoubleTree Hotel in their very large convention center…and it was packed. I’d like to think it was because the people of Cedar Rapids recognize the importance of prayer, or the significance of this day in the life of Christians, or that we love to get together with one another to seek the Presence of God. And maybe all those things are true, but I really think that today, that huge convention center was filled because the special speaker was Willie Robertson.

Unless you have lived under a rock for the last few years, most of you know Willie Robertson as the star of the cable TV reality show “Duck Dynasty.” He says he’s known more as Sadie’s dad. Sadie Robertson is his teenage daughter who competed on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” throughout the competition standing firm in her belief in modesty and purity. She seems to be a very sweet girl and I’m sure Willie and his wife Korie are very proud of her. The various members of the Robertson family are admittedly redneck, quirky, and entertaining. I first heard about their TV show from the woman who cuts my husband’s hair. My sons started watching and soon after, we did too. It’s a scripted reality show, meaning there is a definite plot to each episode though the family members don’t consider themselves actors and most notably, each episode ends with the family sitting around a large table with patriarch Phil saying grace before they eat together. Each show has a moral and it’s usually Willie who serves as narrator. Each member of the Robertson family is an outspoken follower of Jesus and has never apologized for their show or their stance on moral issues.

The other main speaker this morning was Willie’s friend, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Gov. Jindal is another strong believer in Jesus Christ and freely gives his testimony. He’s a pretty smart guy too, having completed a Rhodes Scholarship from Oxford University, specializing in health care systems. Though he has not announced a run for the presidential race in 2016, he visits Iowa a lot.

I could say a bit about Willie’s and Bobby’s remarks from this morning. And though both had great messages to the assembled Christians, I was most encouraged by something they never really said. I was encouraged to listen to two men who have gone against the established precedent and are scaling mountains formerly held only by non-believers in Jesus. You see, often we, as Christians, are told to concentrate our efforts on the church, on ministry. We esteem pastors, missionaries and evangelists for speaking out about Christ but we never acknowledge the day-to-day efforts of Joe and Janet, Rick and Laurie, Susie and Adam…those people who head out the door to work in hospitals, businesses, government buildings, or schools, or those moms who stay home every day to raise up godly sons and daughters. We’ve given up ground to our culture in past years by not encouraging our kids to reach beyond religious ministry and embrace who God made them to be – actors, congressmen, judges, scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs, musicians. People like Willie Robertson and his family will reach people for Jesus who will never enter a church or listen to a televangelist. Government leaders like Bobby Jindal have people who watch him closely…what better way to live for God than in that microscope called a presidential campaign.

I’m mostly encouraged because I can freely exhort my own two sons to pursue their dreams, no matter what they may be. Maybe it won’t be as a full time pastor, like their dad. But maybe it’ll be as a journalist who travels the globe, living for God and reaching people his mom and dad never would. Maybe it’ll be as a musician who writes songs and performs for audiences who would never listen to a spoken sermon. Push your kids to live their dreams while living for Jesus. Let’s be salt and light in a world that needs the flavoring influence of Christ.

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Give_Up_1

Ever had one of those days? You know what I mean – When you feel forgotten and alone? When you can’t seem to get anything right? When your dreams look as far away as ever? Yeah. Me too. Let’s give up.

When I first started running last spring I had a lot of ‘Let’s give up’ moments. Pretty minor in the whole big picture of life, but I knew it was a small test I wanted to pass. I wasn’t going to give up on my goals even though it was difficult. My parents, especially my dad, always told me I could do whatever I put my mind to. I’m not sure that is always true but his affirmation of me helped shaped my mindset about what I can and cannot accomplish. As parents, my husband and I have always tried to instill a “don’t give up” mentality in our boys. When we signed up for a sport, we made them stick it out, even if they didn’t like it. And not just because “we paid for it, you’ll do it.” It’s important to develop perseverance – a character trait sometimes lacking in our culture today.

I came across a lot of quotes about giving up. Here’s a small sampling:

“You cry and you scream and you stomp your feet and you shout. You say, ‘You know what? I’m giving up, I don’t care.’ And then you go to bed and you wake up and it’s a brand new day, and you pick yourself back up again.” Nicole Scherzinger

“A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.” George M. Moore Jr. Member of US House of Representatives

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb

“Fall seven times and stand up eight.” Japanese proverb

“Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself. There is no failure, remember, except in no longer trying. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Chris Bradford, “The Way of the Sword”

Winston Churchill gave a commencement speech at his alma mater, Harrow School, in October 1941. Great Britain was embroiled in war with Germany. The British people were facing shortages of food, munitions and oil. The war was escalating and people were growing frightened of the uncertainty their nation faced. As Prime Minister, Churchill had attempted to negotiate with other world leaders, but without much success. The most memorable portion of this speech has been immortalized, but I would recommend reading the whole thing at some point in your life.

Never-Give-In

Of course, the best example of never giving up was Jesus. He faced what he knew would be an agonizing death by crucifixion, betrayed by someone he had lived with for three years, left alone to face these trials without his friends, seemingly cast aside by his Father God. Yet he didn’t give up. Though he had legions of angels at his command, he didn’t give up. Why? Because he loved me. If it had been only me, Jesus would still have gone to the cross. Just for me. And you.

Don’t give up. God hasn’t given up on you.

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