The insanely busy summer of 2022 has come to an end. When I say it has flown by, that’s not an exaggeration or understatement. Three(ish) months never passed so fast. I have one that goes back to school tomorrow (Wednesday) and one that starts next Monday, and so yesterday, Monday morning, I declared summer officially over. We’re back at it. The regular routine. The early mornings. All the things that come with school being back in session.
This year I have a third grader and a freshman in high school. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how we got here. How have my babies grown up so quickly? And I give myself a moment to pause, to feel the bittersweetness that comes with your kiddos growing up. I look back at those early, first day photos with chubby little cheeks and pudgy little hands . . . it’s sometimes hard to remember those days. They seem so long ago, and like most parents, I feel that pang of “where has the time gone???”.
But then I look at my long legged nine-year-old, and my almost 15-year-old man child, and I like what I see, not just physically, because they keep growing out of their shoes and their clothes, and that’s expensive! But I like the people they are and are becoming. I like being the parent of older kids. Even more than that, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the immense privilege and responsibility of watching them grow into the people God created them to be. It’s not that every day is easy. I mean teenagers y’all . . . and a nine year that struggles emotionally . . . it can make for some hard days, but when I step back and take a thousand-foot view, I see these two, amazing people that God is molding. I, with my far from perfect parenting, with all its mistakes and mess ups, inconsistencies and imperfections, get to be a part of that. And one day, I pray, we get the even more immense privilege of launching our kids out into this world. I’m not sure exactly how an “empty nest” will look for us, but however, it ends up looking, I’m looking forward to it.
My prayer for my kids going into this year is relatively simple. “First and foremost, before anything else, let them have hearts that follow hard after you, Lord. Let them be leaders that show others Your light in a world that is hurting and struggling, Jesus. Let them be kind, hardworking, and honest. Help them to learn and grow and understand what is taught to them. Help them to make wise and mature choices even when it’s hard. Heal their hearts and their hurts no matter how deeply they run. Protect them physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. May your “truth” be their “shield and their buckler”. Give your “angels guard over them”. Bring friends adults and teachers into their lives that will draw them closer to you and that are good for them. Give them peace and freedom from fear. Let them know how much they are loved.”
And for good measure, I want to share some of the scriptures I try to pray over my children regularly. Anna is so used to hearing them, that although she sometimes mixes them up, she knows these mostly by heart. That’s nothing special I’ve done. As I’ve already said, I get a lot wrong when it comes to parenting, but if I don’t do anything else, I want to get the word of God in them, and I want them to know, as much as is humanly possible, how much He loves them. I believe in praying scripture. Not as some magical words or incantations but because the word of God is active and living:
- You have the fruit of the spirit . . . “love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
- God has not given you a “spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (self control).” 2 Timothy 1:7
- “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me, Says the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17
- “All your (my) children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your (my) children. In righteousness you (we) shall be established; You (we) shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you (us).” Isaiah 54:13
- Paraphrased from Daniel 1:4 . . . “My children are a young lady and young gentleman in whom there is no blemish (because of what Christ has done for them), good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand.”
- All of Psalm 91 . . . “He (we . . . Courtney, Patrick, Andrew, and Anna) who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty . . . His truth shall be your (our) shield and buckler. You (we) shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness . . . No evil shall befall you (us) nor any plague come near your (our) dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge of you (us), to keep you (us) in all your (our) ways . . . with long life I will satisfy Him (He will satisfy us) And show him (us) My (His . . .God’s) salvation.” I just hit on a few verses throughout the chapter, but seriously every word of Psalm 91 matters to me.
Whether your children are just starting their first day of daycare or preschool or getting read to fly the nest, embrace the moment. Be thankful for what lies behind and look forward to what’s ahead. I pray for blessings and protection for you and for them. May this be the best year yet!
Because I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least touch on it, here’s my PSA for today: As always, I’ll take a minute to emphasize this – don’t neglect your marriage while you’re raising your kids. As Jimmy Evans always says, “Your kids are a temporary assignment”. With obvious exceptions for special needs, they aren’t meant to be your everything and forever, and even with kiddos with special needs, maybe even more so, at least in our case, you have to work to make your marriage a priority when you have a child that, by virtue of their needs and through no fault of their own, demands so much attention. The order of things, if you’re married, should always and forever be – 1. God 2. Spouse 3. Kids . . . followed by everything else (church, extended family, friends, work . . .). But too many people sacrifice their marriages on the altar of “raising” their kids, activities, etc. Our children should grow into adults that we no longer need to parent. That leave home and have their own lives. That no longer obey and look to us for constant guidance, provision, and direction (yes, they may seek wisdom and advice from time to time, but that’s their choice not a commandment) but instead walk alongside us as friends and equals. So as challenging as it can be, build your friendship and relationship with your spouse while your kids are home so that one day, when they leave, while there will most likely be some tears and sadness (I mean I get it . . . our kids are loud and fun and exhausting so when they’re not here, it’s quiet and weird), you won’t be at a loss as to how function without them, and you won’t look at your spouse and realize you have no idea who you are married to because you’ve spent the last 18+ years ignoring the most important thing, next to God, in your life. PSA over!