Often life is hard, but God is always good

Archive for the ‘Parenting Teens’ Category

Are You My Mother?

Are you my Mother? bluebird

Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman

“He shielded and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The Lord alone led him;” Deuteronomy 32:10-11 NIV

Are you familiar with P.D. Eastman’s classic children’s book, “Are You My Mother?”: The newly hatched bird emerges to an empty nest and begins a prolonged search for his mother, asking extremely unlikely candidates, “Are you my mother?”, until his own mom returns to his nest with a worm and his heart is filled with a rush of recognition and affection.

I want to point out the parallel between mother love and God’s heart for us. He is like a mother in his protective, compassionate, and intense emotionally-connected nature. When his protective nature is described using the analogy of a mother eagle who “stirs up its nest” and pushes the fledglings out to fly, we are not shown a God who leaves and flies away as the babies tumble earthward. Instead, in this Scripture, the mother eagle spreads her wings and carries the young eagles on them. Our motherly instinct is to allow our kids to grow and be stretched, but we do not leave them. Our hearts, our prayers, and our help remain entirely present for them.

When my son married, my mom’s heart expanded to include his new wife and stretched, with acute pain, to accept his independence, yet at the same time, I am intensely connected to his well-being, and that of his new family.

In addition, we, as moms, feel for our kids when they have physical or emotional pain: injuries, sickness, heartbreaks, or disappointments, God feels for us as well. “Jesus wept” (John 11:23), often used as an example of the shortest verse in the Bible, represents the loving sympathy of God for those two sisters who lost their beloved brother Lazarus.

Our Heavenly Father is depicted as a mother who wants to gather us up under his wings like a mother hen (Matthew 23:37). The Lord is “compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8 NIV) This truth is echoed in Psalm 145, and 86. We can trust this warm, protective love of God and “like a weaned child” can rest upon his breast in trust and contentment. (Psalm 131:2 NIV) Let’s open our hearts to be mothered by God.

Why Wear Rose-Colored Glasses?

Photo credit: Derek Gavey

Photo credit: Derek Gavey

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116: 7, 12, 13 (NIV)

Twenty-five years of marriage feels more like a gift than an accomplishment.  God had to work with some difficult raw material (me)! So much support came from friends, counselors, family, Bible truth, and marriage books and seminars.

But one of the best ingredients in our many years of marriage are the “rose-colored glasses”.  When I place them over my vision I can see my circumstances, my husband, my past, and my future with a perfect mixture of gratitude and honesty.

I look back with chagrin at the newlywed young girl… who hid under the covers when faced with an argument.

“Hey! Where’d you go?” My new husband’s voice floated up the stairs, muffled by the comforter that I had dragged over my head. I didn’t answer him from my refuge under the covers. I felt silly, but I stayed in that suffocating space hoping he would leave me alone.

I thank God that my embarrassing behavior during our arguments drove me to the counselor’s office and that my husband was patient with me as I grew up.

I look back with compassion at the heart-sick young wife…who couldn’t conceive a child.

I truly believed I controlled things like having a baby – “Let’s just start trying and I’ll get pregnant on my timetable”, but even infertility testing and treatment didn’t go according to plan.

I thank God that He was there to catch me when during my free fall into reality and that my husband stuck with me when I was impatient and untrusting of God.

I look back with humor at the young mother…who juggled three children under the age of five (I got what I prayed for!).

It’s a wonder what we moms can do. Once I walked with my kindergarten boy down to the school bus stop while pushing the stroller with my toddler and nursing my newborn baby in the crook of my arm.

I thank God that He buoyed up my parenting insecurities and gave me a husband who was a good father.

I look back with pain at the woman married many years…who criticized everything her husband did.

I kept up a barrage of criticism in my mind and often with my words. He irritated me and I spent all my time looking at all his flaws and being defensive about my own.

I thank God that He patiently showed me my shortcomings and that my husband persevered despite my critical spirit.

I look with pride at the mother of teens…who spent years nurturing, homeschooling, and “being there” for them.

What would I have done without my husband’s willingness to work such long hours while I home schooled the kids?

I thank God that He helps me give them room to grow when I would keep them in an emotional stranglehold and that my husband continues to offer his stability and wisdom while we navigate these years.

 I look with wonder at the woman married twenty-five years… who often wears her “rose-colored glasses”.

I know full well that the man I married isn’t perfect, but I believe in true love that sees with eyes of honesty and gratitude.

God provides these “rose-colored glasses” to us as a gift.  We may humbly receive them when we arrive at that moment of need.  Reach out for them and they will appear on your palm.

Then put them on and take a look around!

Can I Let My Kids Fly?

“Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” (I Samuel 3: 7-9, NIV)

I am a mother… after waiting, hoping and praying for years.  So maybe that explains the intensity of my love for my three kids, but it gives me no excuse to hold them back.

I try to restrain them from growing up.  I want to keep them near, always.  I confess this right now.

Yet, God reminds me over and over to let them go because they have a purpose and must fly free.

He clearly told me: “I love your children more than you do, so loosen your clenched grip.”  This firm yet tender admonishment doubled me over with shuddering sobs, but I listened.

Loosen the grip. Trust God.

High school graduation approached for my oldest.  The search for his destiny looked like it would lead him far away.

I shed tears.

So many tears – it seemed like I filled buckets.  This time, God reminded me that my children are like Samuel of the Bible who heard the voice of God directly, but ran to Eli, his priest-guardian, and received this response: “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” (I Samuel 3:8)

Direct them to God.

My nineteen-year-old was baptized this summer while on a youth retreat, without his father or me present.  He had always wanted to take this profound step in “real” water.  How could we hold him back when he’s destined to live with God in the ocean waves of life without our supervision?

We saw the video of Luke’s baptism.  He was laughing with joy.

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Photo credit: Amelia Yoder

Keep the babies close, nurture the little ones.

Train them as they grow, then let them fly.

Be there for them, always, no matter what.

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