Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raising Children


Just a few days ago, I heard someone talking about how horrible children are in the world today.  The other person replied, “The problem isn’t the children.  It’s the parents.”   
Nine years ago when my husband walked in the door after work, I handed him a newborn baby and said, “Here.  I am going to Curly’s on the corner.”  Now, this was an act of desperation, because Curly’s is a shady place. 
I didn’t have a clue what to do with a baby.   My mom had passed away years earlier.  I was cold, snowed in for three days with no electricity, trying to nurse a screaming baby, and with a busted water pipe.  My husband was at work, and I didn't even know how to turn off the water.  Later that evening and thankful that Rob had chains on his tires, I headed out…sans baby.
Rob and I had been married for eight years before having a child.  I worked for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the industry.  I wore nice suits and pretty shoes.  I travelled.  I couldn’t wait for my maternity leave to end, so I could return to work. 
God had other plans.
Not long after returning to work, I got pregnant again.  Soon after that, we moved my grandparents to our small town, so that I could care for them.  My mom had been an only child and her parents, almost 90 years of age couldn’t live alone anymore.   Years later, I would count all the blessings of moving them here, but at the time, it felt like having two more children…and remember, I didn’t know what to do with the one child I had.
My son was born six weeks early and stayed in the hospital the first 8 days of his life.  Midway through the pregnancy, we thought we had lost him.  He was less than 5 pounds when we finally brought him home.  Going back to work meant leaving an 18 month old daughter, a preemie baby, and two aging grandparents.   For me, going back to work was the easier choice.  Staying home was unfamiliar.  It was difficult.  It wasn't what I wanted. 
Often the plans God has for us aren’t the plans we have for ourselves.  I realized at some point, that I simply couldn’t manage it all.  My professional career had to go.  I traded in going to doctors' offices to meet with physicians professionally, to waiting in doctors' offices and hospitals for appointments with a premature baby and two elderly grandparents. 
Almost ten years have passed, and I have been a stay at home mom for all these years.  My sweet grandparents have since passed away and were reunited with their Maker and their only daughter.  We had another child. 
Now may the God of peace, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. ~ Hebrews 13:20-21
Parenting seems so easy for some.  In God's great mercy, He has provided...He has equipped me every step of the way for a task that, at times, seems so daunting.  He has given instructions through His Word, through other credible parenting books, through strong families and mentors…and through prayer.  I didn’t have a clue what to do with a baby, and certainly the issues we face today as parents are shocking.   My deepest desire is for my children's hearts...for their hearts to know the Lord; for their hearts to desire His Truth; to be respectful of authority; to be kind people.  I desire for them to see God’s beauty in this world…in this world that offers so much darkness.  My kids are sinners.  They have a great big ol’ sinner for a mom.  I apologize to my kids at least once a day.  I pray that despite my failures, they will be able to look past me and see His face.
I don’t claim to have any parental wisdom, but I sure have learned a lot of things along the way.  Here are some things we are learning and are working on... 
Seek out the truth in a world that would tell you otherwise.    Stay connected with your children and their friends.  Don’t try to be their friend.  They need you to set boundaries.  They need you to be their parent.  Be concerned about what is on TV.  Limit electronic use or make a choice to not allow them.  Spend as much time with them as you can.  In a blink…they will be gone.  Don’t tolerate or make excuses for bad behavior...when they grow up, no one else will.   Do not give 'warnings' over and over.  Address the issue.  Teach your children to do as much by themselves as they can, with your guidance.  Prepare them for this world, so that it will not devour them.  Teach them to do things with their hands…sew, build, farm, cook.  Teach them where to turn the water off should a pipe burst!  Limit extracurricular/sports activities.  Pray before you commit.  Is this God's best for my family?  Remember, when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.  Seek to reach their hearts.  Don't be as concerned about how the behavior looks, as much as, you are concerned about the nature of their hearts.  Enjoy your children.  Seek.
The Lord took me out of a work force that I wasn’t willing to leave.  Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.~  Proverbs 19:21.  He gave me this tremendous job of raising two daughters and a son.  These children are my 'career' right now.  I crave success in my career.  Not a success for me, but a success for them.  It is a success that seeks Truth above all else.  What an awesome job!  I look at my children and think, “Wow, God has a lot of faith in me to raise three of His children.  I sure don’t want to let Him down!”  He will equip me every step of the way.  
We are all different and God equips us differently.  Some of you have full plates working outside and inside the home.  God knows what each of us can or cannot manage.   He also knows our hearts.  He knew mine was (is) stubborn and selfish, and he knew exactly what it would take to teach me.  He has a great plan for all of us!  I welcome your opinions and feedback!
Blessings on this 'Life Lessons' Sunday!   

I am linking this to Spiritual Sundays.


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38 comments :

Gail @ Faithfulness Farm said...

Christie...what a wonderful and encouraging post!

Blessings!
Gail

Cat said...

I'm a new reader and I love this post. Thanks for speaking so frankly and sharing your story!

ck said...

By chance I stumbled across your blog - and I think it was Gods way of talking to me. Thank you

poindextr said...

Your story is wonderfully thought provoking and clearly comes from a place of deep faith and love. It sounds as if you did a lot of praying to determine on which path God's light shone the brightest.

The first sentence offers an interesting jumping off point for discussion, but I'm not sure if that's what you intended.

I'm not a parent, but have a sincere admiration for the members of my own family (and people in general) who are meeting the daily challenges of bringing up their children. The challenges are not particularly easy to navigate. And the burden, the sense of failure is far far greater than I can comprehend.

Finally, I like what you said about saying "yes." In many cases it truly does mean closing the door on other options. That is such a good lesson. From my humble and uninformed point of view on parenting, it may be one of the most important lessons where parents (in general) fall short.

Wonderful thoughts for the day. Thanks for sharing.

Heather at Willow Cottage said...

What a lovely post. As a parent so often I feel that I need to plan the meals, organize the schedules, make sure Mom's taxi service is on time, and be as in control as possible so that the kids can have a safe, healthy and happy life. That is such a fallacy.

The best I can do for my children in any circumstance is to teach them of God's love, word and salvation, lead by example and to be the very best (not most popular) parent I can be to my child.

Seeking the truth in a world that would tell you otherwise is so very important. That in itself is a huge lesson for our children. We cannot look to society for our guidance, but yet we must prepare our children with life lessons to help them survive in our society.

All in all, a focus on God's Word and His promises is what we rely on to get us through our time on earth.

Again, thank you for this well thought out post. It is so uplifting to be encouraged in this way.

Pine Tree Home said...

What an inspiring story. I like how you pointed out that we are each different and if we just trust in the Lord, amazing things will happen.

At The Picket Fence said...

Amen and Amen again! Christie you have put into words so much of my own heart and struggles at times. Parenting in this world today is harder than ever and yet so much of the struggle we bring on ourselves by allowing these outside influences to take over (busyness, tv, internet) and not being able to say "no" whether it is to a new activity or even just saying 'no' to our children. I told my husband the other day that it seems like people are kind of afraid of their kids at times! My kids would live outside if I let them and I'm grateful that they enjoy climbing trees and making leaf boats to float in the fountain. I so love hearing from your heart and getting to know you better and it only makes me like you even more! :-) You are honest and transparent and a blessing to me! I wish more women/moms would talk about just how hard those early weeks of motherhood can be and not paint such a rosy picture of it. I think it sets us up to think that we are failing if everything isn't this "circle of life, now I'm fulfilled" feeling. You know? We are so sleep deprived that it is a miracle we feel anything at all in those days! Anyway, I could go on and on but just know that as I sit here early in the morning before church, you have blessed me! Thank you my friend,
Vanessa

Andrea said...

A beautifully written post, and I agree with every word. Have a wonderful day.

While My Sailors Aweigh said...

This post has really spoken to me this morning. Thank you!

Ellie said...

Beautiful post, Christie. Thank you for real and vulnerable and for sharing from your heart. Blessings to you and your family!

sarah@homeismore said...

Thank you for posting this. I loved reading anothers perspective on raising a godly child. I too stay at home with our child and though I was hesitant to take it on, it is the best experience of my life. Thanks for lifting me up!

At The Picket Fence said...

Okay..I truly was getting on here to type...amen and amen. Until, I saw Vanessa said that. lol There's something a little weird about that...

So, I'll just say..."preach it sister!" Not quite as elegant but still fitting.

As the mom of an almost adult..gasp! yikes! Your words could not be truer. I have many regrets in my life...but parenting my children with love, grace, mercy, toughness, and fully being in the moment with them..has never been one of them.

Thank you for sharing your heart.

Heather @At The Picket Fence

CalypsoInTheCountry said...

Today was a perfect day to come across your blog. My grandfather passed away yesterday and in addition to that, one of my sons has bronchitis and the other a fever today. Things can be so overwhelming at times. I am a stay at home mom too so I end up taking care of everyone. I have never regretting the decision to stay home with my kids though. They are already growing up way too fast. It made me feel good to read your post. I always question the decisions I make for my kids and try my best to be the best mom I can be. Thank you. It was nice to be reminded of how we are meant to learn from events in our lives.
Shelley

Antiques & Uniques said...

Wow, what a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your innermost fears and thanksgivings!!
Carol in GA

UtahMillers said...

I'm new to your blog. I love this message. We have had a LONG cold winter and have spent much of it indoors. My husband and I have been repeating this message to each other for weeks. Our children will be gone before we know it. We take time daily to slow down and just be in the moment. Thanks for reaffirming this!

Chandra Chinnis said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I agree that we aren't here to be our children's friends. As a mom to three children 7,5 and 2 I worry everyday if I am being the mom God has intended for me to be. I pray that I am teaching them the way they should go. I have just purchased the book Shepherding a Child's Heart. I have heard many great things about it and hope that it will give me some further insight into training them.

Finding Home said...

This was so well timed and confirming, thank you!

Busy as a Bee in Paris said...

Christie, that was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Thank you for sharing and for pulling on so many of my heart strings at the same time! This is truly what parenting is all about, and I'm grateful for your sweet reminder.

Curtis said...

This post is so very heart felt. You are so right, it is not our job to be our children's friend when they are growing up. Our two sons are grown and on their own at ages 24, and 26. I always told my boys when they were growing up that is was NOT my job to be their friend when they were growing up, I had a job and that was to be their parent. I assured them that we would have a life time after they were grown to become friends. And as I write this we are becoming friends. But so many times I see parents who do not know how to be a parent and make the hard decisions, so they become their child's friend. We went to every sporting event, game, even if they were not playing and just wanted to be their with their freinds. Why did we go??? Because as I told my boys if anyone ever asks you to do something that you know is not good or right, and you need someone to have your back, I will be there, just tell them your dad is right there and point to me, and I will tell them NO, I will make the hard decision, I will take the fall for being the strict parent. Our sons made some decisions that were not the best, but they have always known that we were there for them. We also did not allow electronic devices to be in our home, and oh how we were labelled the horrible parents. But you know what? those horrible parents were always good enough to go on vacation with, go camping with, go canoeing with, and there were standards when other children were with us, and they all lived up to those expectations. So I agree that it is not the child's fault that they are displaying bad behavior, it is the parents, they need to step up to the plate and be the PARENT, it is our responsibility, given to us by GOD. Again thank you for this post, and for you who are in the parenting game, no matter where you are at in it, BE the ADULT, BE the PARENT, BE the EXAMPLE, for they are watching and longing for YOU to say NO,to set limits, and they will love you because you cared.
Blessings to you and yours
Curtis & Sherrie

Mrs.B said...

Amen~thanks for sharing your thoughts. I needed this and I'm sure others did as well. It really IS ok to do what God wants , even if you don't plan it...EVEN if other people don't get it.
~At HOME too...13 years now...and staying here unless God says to do something else. :)

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

Hi Christie~ Goodness... I want to say thank you so much for sharing this. I am so thankful to find this and to be reading it- I so appreciate you taking the time to write and share your story and to reach out to everyone. It really has touched me so much...
Thank you.
Hugs, Courtney

Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

Beautiful post. Really.

And I agree with everything you said in your "advice" paragraph.

Karen said...

Christie, it was obvious your heart was shared in this post. The one sentence that struck up the "amen" corner for me was "don't try to be their friend, they need boundaries". So true! That's why God gave them to us! We need to stick up for them, because no one else will - but, we must let them realize their are boundaries & consequences! Your plate sounds to have been full, but your cup is running over with joy from your devotion.

Whidbey Woman said...

Thank you for sharing something so personal with us. Through this time in your life, you grew not only "older and wiser" -- you grew spiritually.
Your post really brings the truth of that Proverbs scripture forward.
Bless you!

Charlotte said...

Wow, Christie, I still have a lump in my throat after reading this post. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom learned from years of experiences. Your children are blessed to have you for a mother. I agree with you that if children today are awful, it isn't their fault. It is the fault of the parents. I will admit though that it must be much harder to raise children today than it was for me back in the 60s and 70s.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Sandy said...

I read this, but am going to have to come back to read it again. My children are 17, 21 and 24, and I also have a dil and a 4 yr. old granddaughter and 4 mo. old grandson, but really enjoyed this post. I'll be back.

Virginia said...

I appreciate your honesty so very much...
A beautifully written post.
Much Blessings,
Virginia

Pamela said...

I love your stack of books. Many of them got me though raising my own children (youngest 18). Others are newer that have found their way to my daugher's (mother of 4) stack. It's a blessing to be able to gain wisdom from men and women of God.

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

What a great post! I read this post earlier this week, but I am glad you linked up with Spiritual Sunday. I too did not know what to do with a baby. But the Lord blessed us with three of them. In the blink of an eye, they are grown. My baby graduated from HS last spring, and is now in his first year of college. Being a parent has been the biggest job I have ever had. Having homeschooled all three of them, I am now really missing the time with them. It certainly is not easy to raise children who walk with the Lord, but it is my greatest prayer and desire. May the Lord bless you on this path as well. Thanks for sharing.

Jocelyn
http://justalittlesouthernhospitality.blogspot.com

MTJ said...

Hi Christie,

Thank you for sharing from the heart the path God leads you on. I never looked at parenting as easy, and I must admit, it was always easier to pursue my career (being a husband and father); leaving the details of family to my wonderful wife. Career prevented me from really benefitting from spending time with my children. As you say, "In a blink…they will be gone."

I like this scripture you quote: "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." -- Despite my personal failures and shortcomings, the Lord's purpose prevails in the lives of my sons and daughters. I believe this with all my heart.

Blessings and peace.

MTJ

Donnie said...

Such a beautiful post.

Mollye said...

Oh honey I think you are right on with your advice and hints. God is directing you and your husband mightily. You are both awesome parents. Mollye

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

I wish I could of been a stay at home mom, but maybe the Lord new something that I didn't. I hope that my grandchildren would do for me like you did your your grandparents.
God Bless,
Ginger

Clif said...

What a good,practical and much needed post. This post is full of wisdom that will bless all who read it. Thank you.

OnlineParentingClass said...

I find your post so inspiring. Parenting indeed isn't that easy, it requires quality time and hard work. Well we'd say parents are surely the ones' responsible for his/her child's success in the future. It is how a parent guides a child.

Online Parenting Class

Crystal @ Ordinary Days said...

Such a beautiful and touching post. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom and I teach preschool. I think as much as I would love to stay at home, God has always had other plans for me. Your scriptures were so fitting and I found them comforting this morning. :)

Karen said...

stumbled across this....how very true. When I was in my early twenties I had very grand plans....although my life hasn't come very close to my "well made plans" I wouldn't change a thing! God had far greater purposes and plans for my life. Because of this I truly understand Romans 8:28---God works out everything for the good for those who love him. (even life's "valleys")
Despite losing both my parents to illnesses in the past several years among just some of life's trials.....I see how he's used it mold and shape my life and that of my families'. He does work in mysterious ways....instead of telling him how to solve our problems/challenges we should trust he's ON it and ask him to use us for his purposes in any way He can. When it comes to parenting a good does of wisdom is needed daily...or no-should I saw HOURLY!

Brambleberry Cottage said...

I have been a director of children's ministries, off and on, since the late 80s, and I substitute teach in the public school arena. Let me tell you; there is A WORLD of difference in the behavior of children today, as compared to twenty years ago - and not for the better, I'm sorry to say. But, I agree with the earlier statement in your post; it IS the fault of the parents, to a great degree.

Another book I would add to the arsenal you've shown, Christie, is "What the Bible Says About Child Training" by J. Richard Fugate. I have put that particular book in the hands of hundreds of parents over the years. It's fantastic!

Parents are making so many mistakes in child rearing these days. But I truly believe it is because they often do not know any better. The world has shrouded Truth with darkness. God has all the answers, however - if we will but seek His way!

Blessings,
Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage
http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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