I admire the man leading me through the woods.
He knows how to find his way, pick the best path and stay the course. He knows the difference between foolishness and fun. He humbly admits what he doesn't yet know and humbly adds value with what he does. He cares. He's a good companion in the woods and in life; he always gives more than he takes.
The man in the picture is my son. We shared a big wilderness adventure last week and during those days my appreciation for Sheila went through-the-roof. In fact, my appreciation for all parents skyrocketed.
Raising children to know what's right, choose what's right and do right is wildly difficult.
Those of you with children at home may feel like you're riding a runaway train, sometimes wondering if you'll derail before you get those kids to their destination and, at other other times, feeling so much pressure that you find yourself thinking, "We can't arrive at the Station soon enough. I just want this leg of the journey to end."
I get it. Sheila and I have three children and five grandchildren.
Parenting is really exhausting.
Once you have children, you may not have a good night's rest for five or ten years.
Parenting really challenging.
One kid changes everything in your life. Two kids, not so much; you've got two hands so grab a kid with each hand and move along. Three kids? Everything changes again, only this time you have to raise a kid with no hands. Good luck with that.
Then, before you know it, just like 'THAT,' your kids will be all grown up and this leg of the journey will be over. You kids will get off the train and you'll switch tracks. Oh sure, you'll still experience the simultaneous joys and sorrows of life; you'll still have mountaintop experiences in one area of your life at precisely the same time you'll experience dark difficult valleys in another, but those experiences will not be shared with your little dependent children. If those experiences are shared at all, they'll be shared with adult children who make their own choices and choose their own paths."
Cherish the days GOD gives you for parenting. Cherish them all.
If the squeals and cries of little children fill your home, if parenting is difficult and it seems like the only thing you say is, "No," and you're saying, "No," a thousand-times-an-hour, don't let up. Lean in. Train them today so they can navigate tomorrow.
If teenagers are challenging everything you say and do, or it seems they're ignoring you completely, don't stop being the parent. Remember, there are many reasons that 15 year-old-kids can't sign legal contracts; mostly because they don't know which way is up. Oh, they know how to do things with their phones that will blow your mind, but what they don't know is the stuff GOD intends for parents to teach them: how to know and serve GOD, how to find peace for their souls, how to reject sin and keep their hearts pure, how stay faithful when they're tempted, what integrity looks like and where to turn when they've fallen and they can't get up. Teenagers need parents for all that stuff. Don't be intimidated because they have Google at their fingertips. They don't need you for information; they need your love, training in righteousness, discipline, wisdom and guidance; they need you to train them for success in friendship, marriage and family, and if you don't mentor them before they get off your train, they're headed for a life of hurt and heartache. Don't let 'em off the train until you arrive at the depot. Don't get derailed. Your kids need you to stay on track. Don't fail them just because they're talking and acting like teenagers; especially when they are teenagers.
Before you know it your kids will grow up, switch tracks and go their way. And just like "that" you'll go from driving them everywhere to praying they drive home to see you for the Holidays.
Cherish every minute GOD gives you with your children my friends.
These days will end before we know it.
Don't waste them.
Proverbs 22:6 - Train children to live the right way, in God's path, and when they are old, they will not stray or depart from it.