Parenting: Looking For the Prodigal Seeds

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It’s been a while since I blogged about my personal story. In some ways, I’ve been avoiding it because I’ve reached a point in the story where things began to fall apart for my younger daughter. I’ve blogged about her teen pregnancy, and I’ve posted several blogs about the prodigal, hoping to discover wisdom for myself as I share the current situation.

I haven’t talked about the years between the teen pregnancy and her current situation.  She’s almost 37 years old, so that pregnancy was some time ago.

So, what happened?

I can’t point to one thing. It’s a series of events and choices.

From the time she was three, she started doting on younger kids. She was great with them. You could see she adored children. I watched and realized that some day she would be a wonderful mother. But events changed that part of her. After she gave up her son for adoption, her interest in younger children evaporated. I’m not surprised by that, but I am saddened by it.

Instead, she focused on her studies, on activities with church and the school chorus and band, and on spending time with friends. I recall one Friday night, she and her friends showed up at our house shortly before her curfew, seeking shelter from a bad storm. I suggested the girls call their parents to let them know they were safe and at our home. Their response shocked me: they didn’t have a curfew, and their parents wouldn’t worry. Only one girl made a phone call.

What!?

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

My children always had a curfew. I expected them to let me know where they were and who they were with. These 16-year-old girls didn’t have any boundaries. As I dug deeper into the situation, I discovered that most of my daughters’ classmates did not have rules about where they were or when they came home.

At the time, my daughter expressed thanks that we cared enough to know she was safe. It wasn’t long before she pushed for the same freedoms her friends had, though.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3

As our children grow older, the choices made for them become a two-way street. We eventually lose control over what they are doing. The teen years is not the time to lose that control, but that’s what happened with her friends. Either the parents wanted to be “friends” with their children or chose to not fight with their kids in order to enforce rules.

I stuck to my rules, but that’s when things began to fall apart.

Come To Serve, Not Be Served

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

This week I flew to Orlando. No, I didn’t go in search of the fun most people think of when they think of Orlando, Florida: no Disney World, no Universal Studios.

Instead, I went to serve.

One of the truths of serving others is we gain more than if we’d gone in search of being served.

My class was fantastic. They were fun. They listened, engaged with me, and embraced the training I provided.

I haven’t had much opportunity to travel in the past two years. Being the guardian of two young children tends to rein in the ability to leave town for several days week after week.

My grandchildren’s counselor got excited when I told her I had been away for three days. “Did you read? Did you relax? Did you get some peace and quiet?”

Nope. I got less sleep than I would at home. I worked right up until bedtime preparing for the next day. I spent as much time as I could with the other trainers when I wasn’t in the classroom.

But I found joy in this.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus found times of peace and solitude, but he came to serve, not to be served. And in so doing, I believe he found joy. If he’d grumped around tired and worn out, no one would have followed him. Just a few verses later, Paul alludes to this:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

So serving is where it’s at.  I served and through that service I received:

  • Time with old friends
  • A new friend whom I hope will become a great friend
  • Conversations with people about what matters to them and seeing their eyes light up
  • Laughter, lots of it
  • Heartfelt thanks for helping people do their jobs well
  • The camaraderie of 45 trainees I will probably never see again, but who touched my life in a very positive way
  • A change of pace for a few days
  • Service from those hired to make sure I had everything I needed to do my job well, including:
    • Waiters who brought me non-dairy milk
    • Food servers who replenished the buffet just as I reached the empty dishes
    • Meeting event people who made sure I had everything I needed and did so without complaint
    • Trainers who jumped in with tips and tricks
    • Several assistant “trainers” who made sure my classroom kept moving forward
    • Managers (internal and external) who checked with me on time and needs
  • Safe trips there and back
  • A husband who stepped up to care for the grandchildren by himself while I was gone (I know how hard this is)

Where do you serve?

 

Joyful Praise

Today is a beautiful day.

I feel wonderful, too. It took me awhile to figure out why I felt so good. This is one of those rare days when my fibromyalgia is very quiet. They are few and far between.

It takes a pain-free day for me to realize the level of pain I’ve become accustomed to. The absence of that pain makes me feel buoyant and happy.

It’s a day worth rejoicing!

So, here are some scriptures to lift you up.

Psalms 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalms 96:11-13 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

And my personal favorite:
Psalms 118:24  Today is the day the Lord has made; rejoice and be glad in it.
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I pray you find beauty and joy in your day.