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Monday, April 20, 2009
Outside the Box
Jim and I were going to take a walk last night, when Gregg put his shoes on and announced, "I'm going with you." Of course, this would have been expected by our little 7 year old Elijah ... but, now, this was our almost 25 year old, Gregg. Jim and I actually tried to discourage him, as we enjoy our one-on-one time during our walks. However, Gregg was not to be dissuaded.
The 3 of us set out for a walk, and were enjoying our talk time so much that we thought we'd walk over to the local coffee shop. As we neared the shop, we realized that they were closing in 3 minutes, but that their other location was open for another hour. We sent Jim off on a jog to go home and get a car, while Gregg and I continued to walk and chat. Then, we enjoyed an hour at the coffee shop before heading home. (Some of the kids were a bit concerned about us, thinking that we had been out walking for 2 hours, and it now had been dark for quite awhile. Oops.)
We talked about a LOT of stuff ... but the part I want to share this evening is the conversation we had about our family being "outside the box". A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about being outside the "Christian box" when I talked about Cookie Cutter Christians. But, last night we just talked about being "outside the box" that society would put us in.
At nearly 25, Gregg isn't married and he isn't in a career. (After 4.5 years in the military, he knew that wasn't going to be his life-long career.) He struggles with not "fitting in" with others his age. He really doesn't know what the next step is for him. However ... he is seeking God and seeking advice, wisdom, and encouragement from Mama and Papa. We KNOW that the Lord will direct, in His time. Right now ... we are enjoying having Gregg home. We are enjoying the crazy times with him (he can be a complete Goofball), and we are enjoying the adult discussions. We are not discouraged, nor disappointed at all in where Gregg is at in life. As I told him last night, our hopes and dreams for our children were that they would grow up to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. And ... our 6 young adults are all doing just that.
I pointed out that Jeremiah (22, and studying Arabic in Jordan) hasn't followed the path of his peers either. He finished 2 years of college by age 18. Then he managed a coffee shop for a year. Then he went to Liberty University for a year. Then he taught school for a year. Then he went to the Middle East. And, now, he is considering where he should go to complete his B.A. degree, and then ... probably a Masters degree ... and, ultimately, probably a Phd. He has a passion for politics ... and a passion for ministry. He doesn't yet know which will be his career, or if the Lord will find a creative way to combine the two.
Then there's Cassie (23). She completed her 2 years of college by age 18. Traveled to Africa with YWAM. Worked in full-time ministry for 2 years. (Traveled to India with her church ministry.) Moved out of state, thinking that she would get another full-time ministry job, and find the man of her dreams. However, 2 years later, she is very involved in volunteer ministry ... but is working as a full-time nanny. Who would have guessed? At 23, we all thought she would be married and having babies by now ... but God chose to give her a little baby or two to love, before He brought her His intended life partner. This is not what any of us would have envisioned ... but it is God's very BEST for Cassie. (And ... we pray that the life partner will come along soon.)
No, our "big kids" don't fit the box that society laid out for them. None of our 6 young adults went to high school and then to the university. None of them know, exactly, what their life calling is. But, each and every one of them is actively seeking the Lord for His plan for their lives. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Last night, I also pointed out to Gregg that Mama and Papa never "fit the box" either. We still struggle with wanting a peer group to "hang out with". But, we just don't "fit". We're either "too radical" or "too conservative" or we just plain have "too many kids". However, even though life can be lonely sometimes, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can't become less "radical" in my desire to follow Christ. I wouldn't trade any one of my kids for all the dinner-dates, with friends, in the world. I won't start watching R rated movies just to "fit in". I KNOW that our family was called by God ... to be different. Sometimes I think I need to apologize to my kids for raising them "outside the box" ... but I can't. I cannot apologize for doing what Christ has called us to do.
I know that a lot of young single gals read my blog ... and quite a few young mommies too. I often hear the comments, "I hope my children grow up to love and serve the Lord like yours do." Well, I hope they do too (along with my next 7). Tonight, I would like to encourage you in a few areas of parenting that were important to us ...
#1 Be PASSIONATE yourself ...
about serving the Lord.
(Lead by example.)
#2 Parent OUTSIDE THE BOX.
Seek the Lord for His specific
will for your individual family.
#3 Be involved in MINISTRY with
your kids. (Our family mission
trips were some of our best "vacations".)
#4 Encourage (require?) your kids to
READ about other "ordinary people"
doing extraordinary things for God.
(Missionary biographies were a large
part of our homeschooling history classes.)
#5 Study God's WORD and PRAY with
your children, and for your children.
#6 Help your children to be FAMILY-oriented,
rather than peer-directed. (Set boundaries
as to how much time is spent with peers vs.
how much time is spent with family.)
#7 Make the HOME a place that not only your
children want to be, but a place that they
want to invite their peers to, also. (I LOVE
that the Lord has given our family so many
"adopted big kids" because we have a family
that welcomes them in and includes them.)
#8 Be excited when your children make God-led
choices that are OUTSIDE THE BOX. Don't
be embarrassed that others might not
#9 Help your children to understand that the need
to PLEASE GOD, is much more important than
the need to be accepted by their peers. (And,
make sure you live by that TRUTH also.)
#10 CELEBRATE with your children, the fact that
God has called you all to be DIFFERENT! Be
excited about those differences!