Chapter Two: The Hardest Hurt of All

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Gary Thomas recounts a story from David McCullough’s book, John Adams, about Abigail Adams letting her son, John Quincy, who was nine years old at the time, accompany his father overseas on a diplomatic mission knowing it would be years before she saw him again.

Nine?! Overseas?! Years?!

These words jumped out at me and caused a great deal of heart pounding as I imagined myself in her shoes.

He goes on to share how on “one such trip”, John Quincy was having “second thoughts”.

—Let’s stop right there for a second: ONE such trip?  ONE SUCH TRIP?!  Meaning, there was more than one?  Okay.—

Abigail could have gotten caught up in his fears and concerns, as well as her own, and kept him from experiencing what I have no doubt was a life-changing adventure.  (After all, he became our sixth president and successfully defended the freedom of slaves, among many other accomplishments.)  However, she encouraged him and wrote a difficult farewell letter.  Here is a portion of that letter:

“It is not in the still calm of life…that great characters are formed.  The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties.  Great necessities call out great virtues.”

How many of us could do that today?  How many of us think that way regarding our children and their life experiences?  I know I couldn’t and I don’t.

I am indeed experiencing some of “the hardest hurt” as my teens get closer to attending public high school in the fall, and as I realize just how close they are to attending college.  Of course, that’s nothing like letting them sail across the ocean at nine years of age.

But then, in some ways, sailing the ocean may be safer than sending my daughter alone to college.  If all the episodes of CSI and Criminal Minds hold some modicum of truth, then I’ll just keep her in the bubble of our home for the rest of her life.  You know, I should probably stop watching those shows.  I’ve had an active imagination for as long as I can remember; I don’t need any help thinking of all the “what-ifs”.

My fears, both real and imagined, leave me tempted to give my kids stress-free lives rather than help them through those experiences that develop character.  Yet, I desire for them to experience all God has purposed for them.

Also, most of us want better for our kids than we had.  Today, there is no shortage of ways we can make that happen, and plenty of us have.  But if we give them everything they want and spare them from the harsh realities of life, we end up raising self-important, entitled-mentality whiners.

No doubt you’ve already experienced these kinds of people.  They are the product of parents who couldn’t bring themselves to say “No” to their kids and “Yes” to the hurt necessary to making them into well-rounded, respectable, mature individuals.

Thomas writes:  “Our hardest hurt may be their most important hurt.  As much as I adore my children, as crazy as I feel about them, I betray them if I put their happiness and comfort over God’s overall purpose in their lives and in our world.”

What is your greatest hope for your children—to experience a pain-free life or to develop Godly character that serves them, and more importantly God and others, well in this life?

Read, Read, Read…

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I know, I am very far behind in posts and chapters. Let’s not do the math. It depresses me to think about it.

Plus, I hate when I don’t stick to a goal or plan.  I had good intentions.  Really.

But dealing with chronic fatigue while working a part-time job cleaning houses (not to mention my own), homeschooling two teenagers and doing all my other wifely, motherly, familial duties got the best of me.

So I gave up.

Now that I’m back to being a work-at-home mom, I have renewed my efforts.  Because yes, I am still reading.  Yes, I’m reading several different books as usual. Though, not all the books you see in the photo.  Not yet, anyway.

And I still like sharing what I learn and enjoy.  Just like when I try a new restaurant, find a great blog or see something on Pinterest that sparks my creativity.

I may skip around a bit, ’cause I’m ADD like that.  I promise to attempt to keep from confusing you.

Happy Reading!

Mel

Sacred Parenting – Chapter One: Papa God

My best friend gave me this book for Christmas 2010.  She read it and told me I just had to read it, too.  “It’s different from every other parenting book you’ve read,” she told me.  I fully intended to begin it right away.

It only took me a year.

The premise of the book is that God uses our children to shape us; that “parenting is a school for spiritual formation and our children are our teachers.”  Wow!

Reading the first page was emotion-filled and thought-provoking for me.  Thomas shares when his daughter was two she called him Papa God.  Realizing how our children first see us as “God” is nothing less than humbling!  It also causes me to regret my inadequate parenting skills when my children were toddlers and preschoolers, and wonder how I’ve affected their faith.

And their psyche.  I can hear the therapy bills cha-chinging.

One of Thomas’ observations profoundly resonated with me:  we help shape our children’s passion and hunger for God.  He recounts how he realized the more time he spent with his toddlers, then preteens, then teens, “the more open they seemed to God’s presence in their lives.” And the converse also seemed true.

This inspires me to remain faithful in reading my Bible and spending time in prayer.  When I do this, it is easier for me to parent my children more lovingly, patiently and with respect for them as people.  They have value and worth and deserve my respect. They need me to parent them out of reverence for God.

Parenting my precious kids, now teens, is not about me; it’s about Him.  I must purify myself from “everything that contaminates body and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1).  And that covers a whole lot!

I’ve read many how-to parenting books and they have helped me see where I need to make changes in myself.  But most of those books do not discuss the why of parenting.  Parenting my children for the glory of God never occurred to me, yet it’s so simple to understand.

So, how about you?  How do you view your role as a parent?

{365} Chapters

*Note:  this post was originally published at The Eclectic Woman on January 1, 2012.

In 2011, WordPress challenged bloggers to post daily or weekly. I started out thinking I could do it daily, but life got in the way and I had to switch to posting weekly. That eventually turned into once-a-month and then once in a while and then not at all.

This year, the challenge, Project 365, is to pick a topic and blog about it for an entire year.  I was intrigued and excited to have a new year to start over with my blogging goals.

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to do more of what I’m passionate about doing.  Reading and writing are two of those passions.  I enjoy reading for pleasure and self-improvement.  I guess I can say the same about writing.  I like writing for fun and journaling for myself.  Whether reading a book or magazine, or writing a blog post or journal entry, I am committed to taking time for myself.

I have stacks and shelves of books that I am partly working through or have yet to begin reading.  Most of my books are non-fiction and don’t have me devouring them in one sitting like some of my favorite fiction.  I’ve always thought if I just read one chapter a day, I could finish many of my half-finished books.

Project 365 is the perfect motivator for that endeavor.  So, every day I will post my thoughts on one chapter from a book I’m reading.  I do not intend for these to be in order of any one particular book, but they might.  I don’t like to be boxed in that way.  And I’m just too ADD for that.

I hope you enjoy reading about what I will be reading about and maybe you’ll be inspired to read more too.

Blessings,

Mel

P.S. Since there are 366 days in 2012, I will start posting tomorrow.