My Wandering Heart

It has been said that to have children is to have your heart walking around outside your body.  This applies to all children but it is especially true of teenagers because they can go off and leave you.  They go around in cars with their friends, on trips with their church, and eventually on dates with boyfriends or girlfriends. Now that summer is here, kids go to camps or on trips for long stretches.

I am grateful for the people who I trust to take my older kids on trips and to camps. We are in no position right now to take them to the beach or to music festivals, but they have raised the money to go with friends and have been having a great time. I have a had a great chance to miss them. When you homeschool, that is hard to come by.

My oldest daughter, 21,  lives at home but is rarely here for long. She is in love and engaged! So, not only is my heart running around outside my body, her heart is often wandering around with his. And that means that my heart is now tangled up with a sweet, handsome youth pastor who rides four-wheelers and goes hunting and does other things that make my heart feel just a bit unsafe. Her happiness is tied up with his now, so mine is too. It is a strange feeling, but totally worth the joy it has brought her.

I have a 14-year-old who went to Child Evangelism Fellowship training camp for ten days. She learned new ways of delivering an old message to kids. They will be taking the Gospel message to the sidewalks of apartment complexes this summer. They will play games with the kids and just be there for them during the summer. In the school year, they hold after school clubs in every school in this county. Rewarding, if somewhat ironic, work for a homeschooler. I have literally seen my 14-year-old run through rain and snow and deal with southern summer heat to be with a room full of rambunctious children. This is a grace that God has given her that I can’t really imagine. My heart swells with some pride, although I take no credit for the qualities that enable her to do this because they are supernatural. CEF is the best thing that ever happened to her.

my 14yo making bracelets with kids for CEF

My 17-year-old just graduated and is working at a wedding venue. She will be going to college in the fall and hopes to one day go to Africa for missions. This has been her goal for many years. I believe that my heart can stretch that far but it is hard to imagine. For now, at least, she is going to college nearby and will live at home, giving my heart a reprieve. She too has a boyfriend that I have grown to love, thus extending the amount of love I have to share in a way I had only heard about up to now.

No kidding, while I was typing up this draft my oldest texted me to say that she misses me. Aww! We texted back and forth for a while and can’t seem to make a time to even eat breakfast together for now. I miss her too of course and probably will to some extent for the rest of my life. People with fewer children do not understand that I can miss one child when I have  five others. If you are a parent of many kids, you understand that they are not interchangeable to any degree. The love of the others is soothing, but it can’t take the place of the one who is away. This is true of our Heavenly Father who told of His love for us through this parable in Luke 15:

3 Then Jesus told them this parable:  4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

As a child from a family of seven children, I have a hard time realizing that God loves me as an individual. He does not view me as one of those Frazee kids or as the mom of all those Blantons. His heart wanders around with me. When I am wandering away, He misses me. When we struggle to understand how one child out of sooo many could matter, He shows us how… by making us parents.

Soothing our Fears with Blame

A young man of 17 died a few days ago at our local State Park. He crossed a barrier he shouldn’t have and ended up being swept down the falls. This is a heartbreak for his family and for the church group he was with. I can not imagine what his family and his church are going through right now.

 My family goes to this park frequently and my daughter was just there with our youth group. These common factors are scary to me and they are usually soothed in a terrible but common way. I quickly tell myself, “I am not them, my daughter is not this boy. She would never do what he did. We would never take our eyes off her.” These are the things make me feel safe again and that is just plain wrong. Very wrong.
I have seen others resort to this coping mechanism in the comments on news stories when children are hurt. People are quick to fuss and judge and be outraged at the adults involved. This is not only because there are evil, heartless people in this world. It is because we are soothed from our initial fears by analyzing and criticizing. This is an attempt to remove ourselves from the group of people that tragedy can happen to. Since the beginning of time, blame has made us feel better.
Of course it is only God’s sovereignty that separates the victims from the blamers. Most of us would not dare rage against Him so we rage elsewhere, hurting people who are in need of our support. We can not even say, “But for the grace of God…” because so many of those who have suffered this kind of loss will tell you, God’s grace is still somehow, beyond reason, at work.

Who sinned?

While discussing this, my younger, but often wiser sister reminded me of the disciples doing this. In  John 9:2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They too wanted to believe that something or someone was to blame for this tragedy. Jesus responds to them that the man was born blind so that God may be glorified. Then the healing of the blind man takes place.

I don’t understand why some people get divine intervention that stops tragedy and some don’t. I have been the grateful receiver of many interventions that have saved those I love from harm. This is one of life’s great questions and it most definitely will not be solved by me. I do hope, however, that I will be able to stop trying to assign blame or separate myself from these hurting people and start praying for their healing and God’s will.

There is a delicate balance between being a responsible parent and letting your child go into God’s care. The more tragic stories you know, the harder it can be to relax in His care. Since we know better than to take credit for the blessing of safe and healthy children, let’s be sure  to withhold blame from mere humans when they are trying , like all of us, to be stewards of His child.

12 things I would love for other adults to stop doing

someone just asked her #11

So far, I have tried to avoid blogging lists or gripes or pet peeves. I have a reputation for being less than patient with small things, like Wal-Mart carts with bad wheels or people doused in perfume. These are pet peeves, but they only make me look petty and they are not related to the Raising His Child message. So, here are a few of the things I would love for others to stop doing that do relate to my child-rearing opinions. See if any of these are on your list. Continue reading