As a mom, I have felt the joy and the pain of watching my children succeed, fail, love, mourn, laugh and cry. I gave birth to and reared G & Z. We’ve been through so much together: great successes in school sports and music, spiritual awakening and growth, & the death of their father. I’m also privileged to have three “gift with purchase” kids (K, R & J) that came with my second marriage. I have known these three most of their lives, so I have seen them cope with many of life’s challenges as well. I also have a beautiful daughter-in-love (L) as well as a handsome grandson (JT). I’ve had the privilege of “mothering” a “daughter-in-my-heart” (KM) that I have loved as my own for many years as she dealt with growing up after the death of her mom. And, soon, we add another to the family as K & A are wed this fall.
One of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn through the years, is I can’t control everything that happens to my kids. The good or the bad, it’s coming regardless of what I do. I can warn and encourage, but ultimately, the decisions are their own. These are the things I pray for my children:
- Have the courage to be yourself. You don’t have to remake yourself to fit someone else’s ideals and you don’t need to bully your way through life. You are special just the way you are. Be confident in the abilities that God has given you and use them to build relationships, both professional and personal. You don’t need to be part of a couple to be complete. Value your independence and develop your whole being.
- Be content where God has you, but prepared to move forward in His timing. It’s hard to be patient and wait for the right relationship or the best job to open up for you. Do your best in all things. Never stop working and improving yourself. But, don’t try to handle things all on your own. Remember that God has a plan for you and it’s all in his timing.
- If you commit yourself to another in marriage, remember you are in this for life. Relationships are difficult at best. It’s easy to take short-cuts and our world excuses and often encourages the failure of marriage. Love your partner completely. And by that I mean, always look out for whats best for him/her. Your own wants should come in second. Marriage is not about control. It’s a partnership. Loving someone doesn’t give you the authority to order them around. Nor does love allow you to scream and call names to get your own way. There will be disagreements in any relationship. Don’t allow arguments to escalate into screaming matches. Love fully and completely without selfish manipulation.
- Protect the intimacy that was designed to be shared with your spouse. Beware of society’s bad advice. Love is NOT just about sex and desire. Sex should not be an automatic part of dating. Sex should remain special not common place. Girls, learn to protect the men in your life by dressing with modesty. Boys, look out for the women you love and don’t promise love when you just desire the physical. Love yourself enough to protect yourself, body & soul.
- Build lasting relationships. Friends are important in life. Find and cultivate relationships that challenge you to grow and mature. In a marriage, friendship is essential. The fires of passion may have spurred you into marriage. Be assured that those fires will cool. But, as you develop your relationship in other ways, the flames of true and lasting love will be stoked and burn even more brightly.
- If you choose to marry, don’t settle. Many of those “cute” characteristics that you find so endearing and attractive today, will drive you crazy later. You may try to overlook irritants and decide you can change them later. Please hear me: THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN! You do not marry someone to change them. You adjust to and for the person you marry. Marry the person you can’t imagine living without, not the one you think you can live with.
- Be aware of everything you say and do. Learn to filter what you say so you don’t offend. And then FORGIVE, FORGIVE, FORGIVE. Practiving “forgive and forget” is incredibly hard. Make forgiveness a part of your everyday life. Don’t hesitate to ask for it or to give it.
- Never stop building your relationship with God. When you are at peace with God, you will be a better friend and/or spouse. Make the effort to spend time with other believers. If Sunday’s are your only day to sleep late and you just CANNOT give that up, there are other opportunities to grow your faith. Cultivate time with God. If you would get up early to go tail-gating, there’s not excuse for not getting up for church. Don’t fall into the habit of “saying a little prayer and crossing your fingers” to get what you want. God is not an awesome “Santa Claus” that provides whatever you want, He is, however, the authority on all the things that occur in our lives. The low times are much easier to confront and navigate when we’ve included God in the good times.
Life can be wonderful and awful. Do your best to be the best influence on everyone you meet. Be the brightest part of the day.