This fall, I hit an uncomfortable, inevitable milestone: for the first time in our marriage (barring the gap of our own making), our baby is two and a half years old, and there’s no little brother or sister already in my arms or waiting to make an appearance.
I know that as parents we’re not ultimately responsible for whether our children choose to follow Christ. I know that as they grow up, their relationship with God is just that—it’s theirs.
But I do believe that as parents, we are called to create an environment that makes the choice of following the Lord so much easier.
All those clichès? They’re true.
I have no idea where the time went.
It was too fast.
And no, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Just this past weekend, my 15-year-old son and I spent a night and day searching for a little white box in the woods during an ongoing downpour.
I can think of about a million more things that might have been more comfortable — even at moments more enjoyable — than getting soaking wet, but, as members of the Civil Air Patrol, we were training for search-and-rescue missions in the wild woods of Tennessee.
I remember the moment I realized that parenting wasn’t something that came with guaranteed results. My husband had just returned to work, leaving me alone for the first time with our week-old daughter. I had bathed her, fed her, and, in a flurry of optimism, placed her in her crib so that I might shower.
Within ten minutes, the entire exercise culminated with me crying, covered in delightfully fluid newborn poo, and my baby screaming as if someone was holding her finger in an electric socket.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. —Francis of Assisi
Recently, I shared a blog piece to Facebook. It wasn’t anything I had written, and honestly, the topic doesn’t matter. In the course of the ensuing discussion, however, an interesting (to me) theme developed that was finally succinctly summed up in a single phrase by a friend— the cult of family.
The idea, as I began to understand it, is that it’s a bad thing to be too family centered. (I’m not entirely sure who gets to define “too family centered.”) Apparently, large families are among the worst offenders. I’m guessing that the whole idea springs from the abuses of the Quiverfull movement, which are many, but I truly can’t be sure.
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Every once in a while, someone says something so profound within earshot that your soul can’t help but nod in agreement, highlighting the words, drawing your attention to the truth with an intellectual vigor akin to being grabbed by the cheeks, forced to gaze into serious eyes and demanding, “Are you listening?” I had this experience recently at the Charlotte Mason Institute East National Conference, where Dick Keyes of L’Abri Fellowship spoke on the importance of giving our children a deep well of hero culture from which to drink.
We are living, right now, this moment, in a brave new world. No, it’s not the literary nightmare Huxley imagined in 1932. It’s a different kind of new world; an ongoing experiment for which we’ve all complicity signed on. If a scientist were to sit down and formulate a hypothesis, this starting point for his wonderings would be this:
What is the outcome when parents are physically present but chronically distracted, engaged elsewhere for large portions of the day and unable/unwilling to participate in what was once considered normal family life?
I recently stopped to watch my 17-year-old and 15-year-old sons strip apart some bikes to fix brake and sprocket issues.
Ball bearings were rolling across the floor as one leaned down to grab them. And later, inside, the other told me how some of the work had to be redone because, well, when they had finished, there were a few extra parts that shouldn’t have been extra. Continue reading