Thursday, July 9, 2015

Parenting Is Hard. Anyone?

We're dreaming crazy big around here. Perhaps that's what led me to my bed at 6:45 last night, overcome by mental and physical fatigue... why I barely remember my head touching the pillow. Ten and a half hours later, I awoke with my heart racing and my mind spinning. Oh God, I'm scared was my first thought as I lay there willing myself out from between the sheets this morning. 

Perhaps I could blame it on these four young adults being raised in our home. They're on fire. They're fearless. Innovative, creative, passionate... I'm trying desperately to keep up with them.

And regarding these four people, I have YOU to thank. I remember the day they sent us home from the hospital, our firstborn wrapped up and secured in his car seat. I recall the way the hospital personnel were sticklers about making sure we had a car seat that met regulations. That's it? I was horrified. Didn't they want to see what qualified me to train up a whole human being? Granted, would they have allowed me to leave the hospital with him if they knew how woefully unqualified I was?

Two of the most powerful words in the Bible: But God

He makes a way.  

I remember my mother-in-love telling me that parenting is one of those deeply personal subjects that most people aren't willing to let others speak into. Yet, I don't know where we'd be right now if an entire village had not come alongside us, educating my husband and I with grace and Truth and unconditional love, speaking knowledge and wisdom over our family.

I prayed for a tribe to help me raise our children. I knew the ancient African Proverb, It takes a village to raise a child. I believed it. Even Mary and Joseph had a community helping them raise the God-child. So connected and intimate were they with their community that on the return trip from Jerusalem they didn't realize Jesus was missing...

Thinking he was in their company [this is where I insert at least a thousand possible names in our community over the last 20 years], they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. ~ Luke 2:44

Here, let me give you an example of a compliment I received recently that I'd like to forward to you

"You know, my husband and I didn't want kids until we met your family. Now we want kids, but we want them to be like yours." 

Thank you... let me assure you that compliment goes to an incredibly large community. My friend continued, you'll have to let us know what you did to get the kind of kids you have. 

That's easy. I'll just introduce her to the tribe that has parented our children alongside us. To say that you've been our lifeline is a huge understatement. I'll tell her that it's critical that her and her husband allow people into their circle. No, that they invite people into their circle. And sometimes, (especially this), when she sees someone a stage or two ahead of them who has healthy, whole relationships with their children and others around them, that they passionately pursue a relationship with them. 

Take them to coffee. Invite them to dinner. Ask them questions. Listen to their counsel

And then take it a step further. Train your children to invite them over, ask questions, and listen to their counsel

On Tuesday, at Israel's [Mastermind] Book Study Group, we were on holy ground. These gals, ages 12 to 18 are a group of world changers. Israel started this group a month ago out of her passion to see her peers live with a sense of purpose and destiny. To grow in their leadership and influence. To make Jesus famous through their love to others. 

Together, they are spurring one another on in love and good works. I wish you could be a fly on the wall during their conversation. To witness their giggles of relief when they realize they all have insecurities... and then to hear them share vulnerable, their hearts laid open. To listen to their lists of what's not okay in the world and their passion to bring healing to the broken. It's a profound privilege to be able to soak in their inspiration.

And the parents of these gals... I haven't met most of them yet, but when I do... yeah, I'm inviting them over for dinner. I need to connect with other parents of world changers. With other families who are dreaming crazy big. I need to ask questions. I need to listen to their counsel. 

You know, we've been in the launch stage for the last couple of years with a 20-year old and an 18-year old (who moved back to the States three months before his 18th birthday). We're not very elegant in this season. Did I say very? I'm trying to make myself feel better by understating the mess. 

However, we're seeing massive vision and opportunity in this mess. Which is why we're excited. And scared. And we're beyond grateful for you. Thank you for dreaming with us. For speaking love and grace and Truth over us. For being our lifeline. For parenting alongside us.

Parents, and any children still living at home, we need to link arms. Let's go make Jesus famous together.

*Please hear my heart if you're a parent going through a messy season with your young adult (or young child)... it sucks. We've had some soul-crushing moments and heart-wrenching days. Weeks. Probably months, too, but I blocked them out because of the trauma. 

I'll say what you've most likely said to me at some point: Hang in there. This too shall pass. 

These relationships are worth it. And these servant-leaders growing up in our homes? They're counting on us to believe in them. To call out the greatness in them. And when we get stuck, when we can't "see the forest for the trees," let your community pour love and grace -- and vision -- into the moments.

God makes a way. You've got this, Mama. You have this, Dad.

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