Monthly Archives: February 2014

Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?

Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?
Everyone relates to the Prodigal Son…What about the Dad?

I read plenty of blogs and books about forgiveness and grace and how the Father’s arms are open wide.  I also read posts about hope for children as they grow and how everything will be ok. Really?

But what if you are in the position of the Dad in that story.  (Luke 15:11-23) What if your child is still out there in the pig pen, even though you did the best you could. How do you get to the place of daily living and being ready to open those arms when and IF they return?

I love that picture of love, grace and forgiveness for the returning son.  I am a true recipient of it.  I was in the mud and the muck and my heavenly father lifted me right out of it.  (Ps 40:2) I don’t even remember running to Him – He was just there, pulling me to himself, washing the grime and shame right off my face.  He beckoned me and I went.  Without that daily grace and love in my life I just know I would curl up in a ball and never function.

It’s that unconditional love that I have been given that stirs the desire in me to share it with everyone, especially my children.  I want to be that person, patiently waiting with open arms, filled with love and grace.  But what if that child doesn’t want it and what if they never come?  And what about those times I just don’t think I can?

Nothing in life guarantees that the sweet toddler you can’t get enough of will grow into the adult you have envisioned.  The reality is, they will grow up and be the person they want to be, and God will allow trials and consequences to grow and shape them.  (James 1:2-4) You can love them till it hurts and it might not make a difference for a very long time or seemingly never at all.  How then do you have hope and patience?  How do you get through those times of blaming yourself, fear or regret?

One of my favorite verses is Phil 4:13. “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” We can do all things. We can love when it seems undeserved. We can bite our tongues when all we want to do is scream.  (Col 3:12-13) We can pray continually and feel the flood of God’s peace fill our hearts and minds when all seems lost. (Phil 4:6-7) We can rest in the real hope that God is sovereign, and He can and will take care of everything, either in this world or the next. (Rom 8:28) We can cast our burdens on Him, and He will take it. (Ps 55:22) We can be that person, with open arms, without judgment, when the prodigal returns.  Even if that child doesn’t return, we can cry out in the stillness of pain, and know that God is God and that can still be enough.

Find your peace and hope in the eternal Abba Father that is worthy of it. Love your children and enjoy the moments you have with mother prayingthem. It’s the closest example we have of how God loves us. Just never forget they belong to Him first, last and forever.   We can do our humanly best

, and even our worst, and God is still in control.  I believe that’s how the Prodigal Son’s father did it.  His hope was always in the sovereign One who made us all.

One of my favorite quotes is this: “Everything will be ok in the end.  If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” Fernando Sabino

Sometimes the end takes a very long time to get here and sometimes it’s here in a flash. Either way, it’s never quite what we expected.  But, if we’ve spent time dwelling in the awareness of the ever-present God, and we’ve learned to acknowledge Him in all our ways, when that end finally does arrive, we will be ok… And what a celebration it will be!…Really.

 

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

my gangAfter parenting 4 amazing kids, for almost 30 years, I thought I would share some of the toughest things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) through the process…

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

  1. LISTEN and ASK questionsChill questions. Casual. Don’t act like Sherlock. The point is to ask questions that usually require something more than a grunt, and hopefully you’ve been listening and can come up with one that they will want to answer. A great place to attempt this, is at the dinner table or while they are trapped in the car with you. (This is tricky, and requires much effort and patience on your part.  Don’t get discouraged, it will get easier)
  2. Set guardrails a/k/a boundaries and rules with set consequences.  Rules or, as I like to call them, non-negotiables; such as lying, cheating, disrespecting you, getting a zero on a report card… I don’t know what yours would be, but I’m talking about the issues you will fight to the death for.  Those are in stone and set your family’s standards.  Everything else is a guardrail, which you discuss, explain and can possibly  alter under circumstances.  If these are in place, then you are parenting  proactively instead of reactively. (much easier for day to day drama) Really.
  3. Hang out with them.  Have a date night. A shopping trip or, a breakfast out.  Something my gangthat you regularly do with your kid – that’s different than the daily grind.  Be intentional.
  4.  Know your Social Media.  No excuses.  If your young person has any kind of an internet identity, then you better know what it is and how it works.  Period.  Take a class if you have to, but it’s the INTERNET. The ENTIRE world in the palm of their hands.
  5.  Know your kids internet passwords.  They don’t have a right to internet privacy. Seriously.  If the government and all the interfaces they are using, know their passwords, and activity, so should you – you, the parent and the person that is supplying all of that electricity, wifi and phone service.  If you both understand the internet, this point is valid.  Check their social media. Now that you know it, and have the passwords, every now and then, do a check.  Kids need parents and accountability.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be kids.  Man up and just do it.  It’s not invading their privacy.  Now reading their diary/journal is a completely different story. Leave that alone.
  6.  Make your home a place they want to be… and their friends.  Find a used ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.  Always have snacks in the pantry and something to drink in the fridge other than milk and water.  (Please don’t think I mean you should have all the latest video games, and let them do whatever they want)
  7.  Say, “I’m Sorry.”  Be an example of learning from your mistakes.  Especially when you lose your temper with them! Even if they have pushed you over the edge, freaking out is never a good idea. So, when you do freak out, (assuming you’re like me) be sure to tell them you’re sorry.
  8.  Encourage them.  They need it. A lot.  Encourage without sounding like you are babying them. Avoid pinching the cheeks and telling them how cute they are… especially in front of their friends.
  9.  When (not if) they mess up, and come to you, or even if they don’t come to you, never motmobsay, “I told you so.” Don’t even say, “I was afraid that would happen.” Consequences will be hard enough when they hit the wall.  Having you there to listen and love will be much better, and will set the foundations for the impending friendship that you just might have with them someday.  I’m not saying save them from consequences – Don’t do that.  That’s how they learn and grow. I’m saying to love them through it.  They already know they messed up. They don’t need us pointing that out again and again, or telling them what they should’ve done.  This would be a great time to implement #1 …
  10.  Pray with them. Pray for them. Share the Word of God with them in a real way.  It’s not the Churches job to train your kids up in the Lord.  It’s yours.  You can’t be too busy.  You can’t put busyness before that.  If you do, don’t be surprised when they grow up and are too busy for the things of God.  What you make priorities in your life, will probably be theirs.  I know… Ouch.

Parenting teens is hard.  They are emotionally driven, hormonal, men/women children under our stewardship! Thank God we have all of those sweet memories of their first steps and loose teeth to remind us how much we love them!  They are not always going to like us, and will most likely even tell us that they hate us.  (which usually means you’re doing something right) They are full of passion, ideas, hope and energy.  God help us.

This list is far from complete.  I could have made this a “Top 100”.  These are just the ones that were the hardest for me to learn.   I didn’t even address dating! That’s a blog post all unto itself. Really.

What would you add to this list?