...an amazing blog post on what it means to be a good parent.
And I immediately thought of how my perfect heavenly Father gifts me with opportunities to parent well - and how I often don't even see them until they've already happened. In those moments, those accidental-on-my-part-parenting-more-totally-a-grace-from-God-blessing, my kids have a chance to learn something, live something, I would have never thought of, imagined or dreamed up on my own - because I'd have been too afraid to watch them risk hurt or failure.
Do you ever wonder about the "risks" God entrusts to us?
Those things that would be so much simpler if He just did them?
Why He does, why He allows,
experiences like this... what you see in these photos...?
Just over a week ago,
He gave our children an incredible, life opening - life-changing, really - opportunity I'd probably have been too afraid to entrust to them, if it had been left
just up to me...
A quote from that blog post has hung with me ever since I read it:
"...he says it softly.'This is good.'
I raise an eyebrow. 'What’s good?'
'This. All of it. The discipline. The competition. But especially this.'
'Learning to fail?'
'Yes,' he says. Learning how to keep going. How to cope. How to live...' "
As a parent, I hurt when my kids hurt.
It is often easy to consider myself a failure when they hurt, or when my kids fail...
It is scarier to let them risk failure
than to risk it myself
because I've got this idea that
supposed to protect them from all bad.
But I'm not I AM...
and He doesn't.
As Rebekah agonized over the menu... grocery list and budget... staying up way too late on a school night to make chili so it would have time to freeze before they left... and totally stressed saying over and over again how
she never wanted to do something like this again...
As I worried and wondered:
What happens if the dust aggravates asthma,
if my often allergic and very reactive to so very many things one
who carries an epi-pen,
gets stung or bitten by something -
and she does react...
...so far from what medical care we do have here
and so far from me?
As he collected money, distributed money, kept accounts and lists, translated skits and words to be presented through yet another translator to excited village children,
all during a week already totally full with day to day schoolwork and projects...
As I worried and wondered:
What if it happens again - he pushes too hard,
gets too tired,
malaria, always opportunistic, attacks an already tired body,
and then he's the one who runs around barefoot in the dark
way more often than I'd prefer... ?
What happens if their skits, songs, crafts and plans don't go well?
Or they run into the antagonistic,
more militant variety of the predominant religion of this land?
And there is always the reality of driving on these roads, in this place...
I heard some commenting that too much of the burden was put on their shoulders,
more adults should have been involved in the planning,
something bad was bound to happen because they were too young to consider
all of the possibilities and implications of their choices and decisions.
I wondered if those complaints were valid.
Nothing too bad happened,
at least nothing of which I'm aware.
What did happen?
God, in His grace, let this present day "Zaccheus" hear Words of Life
shared by teens, my teens,
as teens spent the weekend in his village.
lots of giggles, snuggles, sticky lollipop hands and faces,
singing, smiling, sharing,
stepping outside the comfortable known,
those domains of confidence that require little stretching and growing,
investing and learning,
impacting, by God's grace, eternity.
People are thirsty,
thirsty for relationship with God -
to meet Him,
to learn to trust Him,
to know Him ever more profoundly once they've met Him...
And it isn't just women seeking the well by an African village
somewhere out in the Sahel region of the continent...
although it certainly includes them.
Isn't it amazing how many women encountered God at a well?
Isn't it amazing that it still happens like that today?
Encounters with God result in change...
including those teens (see them in the background?) who went to serve,
who encountered the One they served ~
the ones they served ~
and each other as they ministered together and to each other ~
so that it surpassed what they expected.
They came back changed.
Somewhere in the midst of all that,
this parent also had her own encounter with the Lord,
as He helped me, for at least that one brief moment,
a parent who seeks to imitate
her perfect Heavenly Father
the good parent
"...who knows the value of pain, because... [I've] chosen to receive its good gifts in... [my] own life..... I wonder what the world would look like if every parent valued character over winning. Virtue over popularity. Honor over honors. If we let the applause of men fall on deaf ears and kept our eyes on the real prize." (Jeanne Damoff)
I hope I've changed, too.
this week's gratitude list:
(#s 1703 - 1726)
opportunity for change
learning from mistakes and failures
loving through failures
teens on outreach trips
coffee (with pumpkin spice syrup and REAL creme) and prayer with a friend on Thursday morning
new friends visiting for dinner
3 year old birthday parties
tissues for runny noses
Vicks Vapor rub and hot, steamy showers
almost teen mastering the art of pita bread - and teaching me how to best roll those pitas out
rising early to make birthday treats for my brand new 11 year old
Christmas carols at church
hearing the flute
foxtrots, jitterbugs, waltzes and cha chas
big band music
2nd place in a dessert contest
peanut butter ice cream for breakfast
cold forcing me to slow down
one more week of classes and then it is final exams!
dreaming of Christmas - thinking about Jesus, time off from school, time with my kids, time with favorite people, a trip to Parc W, always returning to thoughts of that babe in the manger