Parenting REnewed. When You're Little Girl Isn't Little

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This past weekend we launched a new series at Granger Community Church: The Power of RE. I know it’s not a word, but it gives a second chance to dozens of other words. Words like…

  • REview
  • REimagine
  • REnew
  • Recharge
  • REboot
  • REfuel

It’s important to pause occasionally to REconsider where we are, and based on that, where we’re headed. When our schedule does the driving, or we passively surrender to “life as we know it”, we can sometimes be surprised by where we end up. So, I’m REconsidering, REflecting, and REviewing.

Dr. Bob Laurent and his son, Chris launched our series, challenging us to REnew our purpose and responsibility in parenting. They gave me a lot to think about.

Our daughter, Liv, just graduated from art school with a fine arts degree in painting. She’s 22 and engaged to be married in late 2016. It’s a new day for my wife, Laura, and me.

What I do, what I say, how I behave as a parent has been changing slowly for the past two decades. Although I love her fiancé, Jacob, and want that bond to be tighter than anything Liv and I ever experienced (how is that possible?), she’ll always be my baby girl. And yet, she’s not; she’s an amazing young woman.

 What follows are my ramblings around the three (in bold) practical challenges Dr, Bob and Chris shared so engagingly: 

  • Start your children at the Mission level (that is… don’t wait ‘til they’re “mature” to help them understand what it is to serve others)
    • First, a REflection. When Liv was young, Laura and I took her nearly everywhere we went. So in the student ministry I led years ago, she was with us when possible in our camps and mission experiences. She was part of GCC's Food Drop every year. She actively served through Granger Student Ministries mission trips.
    • Secondly, Liv watched us throughout her childhood and teen years respond to opportunities to help others. No program. No organized ministry. Just caring how and when we could. And over the years we often heard Liv's stories of her kindness to those “left out” at school.
    • Finally, this note. At GCC we’re committed to families. It takes the Church to raise our children. So, this week dozens of GCC parents and kids are in Nicaragua, serving on a family mission experience. (Follow along here.) Our #4Michiana events take us into our local neighborhoods to serve in diverse ways – with lots of family opportunities (Learn more and sign up here.)
  • Love Fiercely
    • Laura and I have learned that loving our child fiercely has certainly been about teaching biblical values, training in what’s true, and leading faithfully. BUT...
    • Loving fiercely is accepting unconditionally. Not blindly. Not irresponsibly. It means listening intently. It requires creating opportunities for trust to be established – and celebrated. It requires forgiveness - and apologies. 
    • Of course, what she watches in my relationship with her mom will continue to demonstrate what fierce love looks like. You press through; you forgive; you grow; you accept… unconditionally.
  • Pray for your kids daily
    • We started praying before Liv was born… and every day since she changed our world.
      • We prayed for wisdom to be good parents.
      • And for a safe pregnancy.
      • We prayed we’d help her know Jesus.
      • We asked God to help us understand her gifts and call them out.
      • We prayed she’d be protected… in every way.
      • And we told God: She’s Yours.
      • We prayed for the boy she’d one day decide to say “yes” to as her husband.
      • And we begged for protection from every other ill-intended, heart-breaking, self-centered low-life boy.
      • And we prayed I wouldn’t hurt them too badly.
    • When Jacob asked Laura and I for our blessing to ask Liv to be his wife, it was a joyful response to be able to say: “Jacob, we’ve prayed for you since we held Liv in our arms. For over two decades we prayed. You are that answer to our prayers.”
    • We used to pray for Liv as we took her to school, tucked her in, and shared meals.
    • Still today, Laura and I journal prayers to God for Liv. We text prayers to her, so she knows exactly what we’re praying.

I'll always have this parent's heart that God has birthed within me. I want to Renew that perspective, so I love my daughter and future son-in-law well. I want to bless any grandkids that may follow. And with Laura, I want to encourage other parents because we really do need each other. 

How are you REnewing your commitment to the purpose and privilege of parenting?