Monday, February 27, 2012

Parenting a College Student

Being a parent to a teenager while you are still in your 20's can bring it's own intense learning curves, but being a parent to a college student while still in your 20's (well, I technically turned 30 three weeks ago, but I'm in denial) is a whole different level. Now, let me throw in the fact that we adopted our son when he was 17. There are no parenting books that talk about what to do. There are hardly any parents we can go to asking advice. The only thing that has been a source of constant wisdom is The Bible and the still small voice within from The Spirit that guides and directs our actions.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

How do you train up a child in the way of the Lord when he comes to you at the age of 17 with his mind made up about who he is (not wanting to ever change)? How do you try and teach things that were supposed to be learned before the age of 5 to a 19 year old? How do you teach them to show "gratitude, respect, and how to ask" when you have modeled it time after time and they are still struggling? How do help someone heal from trauma that doesn't ever want to let their guard down? How do you know when the behavior is rooted in just being a teenager verses an adoption related issue??? 

Deep breaths, prayer, compassion, prayer, do-overs and more prayer!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
1 John 3:16

I think adoption gives a whole new perspective on Christ's love. Parenting can be hard enough when that child came from your blood at birth. But when they come to you with scars that you can't heal, baggage that you can't help matter how hard you try!...parenting becomes a deeper kind of love. When Christ laid down His life for us, He did it even though He knew we were and would still be sinners! He did it even though He knew we would have moments of turning away from Him. 

We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

God adopted us as His children with all of our flaws, scars, baggage and hurt. As adoptive parents, we have to remember the sacrificial love that Christ showed us...before we ever did anything! Being a parent is not about what you get out of it, but what you put into it, expecting nothing in return! If I don't see the harvest at first, I know that God only calls me to plant the seed and to continue trying to show His love. He will water and He will nurture that seed. As a parent I am called to follow Him first and He will take care of the rest. 

Somehow, the burden becomes lighter knowing God is in control!

And we know that all things work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are the called
according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Call to Suffer isn't a popular subject! About three years ago I did an in depth Bible study because I wanted to know what God said about suffering. Was it Biblical? Was it good? Does it come because of something I did that was good? Does it come because of something I did that was wrong? Are all believers supposed to suffer? If I am not suffering is there something wrong with me?

These are all questions I was on a quest to find the answers to. And just as God always does, He used His Word to answer every last one. The following are things I learned straight from His Word...

- - - - -

2 Corinthians 4:18 says that suffering takes our eyes off of worldly things.

Romans 8:28 speaks to the message that suffering makes us stronger.

Peter says in 1 Peter 3:14 that you are blessed if you suffer for Christ.

Matthew 5:11-12 says "Great is our reward in Heaven" for suffering

Acts 5:41 says that we should be "counted worthy in God's name" if we suffer for Him

James 1:2 says that suffering "develops perseverance"

1 Peter 4:14 says that "The Spirit of glory & God rests on you"

Romans 8:28 states that 
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

James 5:10 says that we should be "an example of patience in the face of sufferings"

Philippians 2:8 tells us that we should suffer for Christ because He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins!

Philippians 3:20 goes on to say that since our citizenship is in heaven, our suffering is only temporary.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13 where Paul tells us that 
"Christ will give us the strength to face all challenges, all sufferings."

- - - - -

I could go on and on and on...but these are just the highlights.

This morning, our pastor spoke with authority from Acts chapter 5 and it brought back up reminders of when I studied this, but also some new revelations. One thing I think we forget because we live in a country that does not know what it truly means to suffer for Christ is that a lot of times we choose NOT to suffer for Him even when the opportunity presents itself. 

Let me put that another way...
There are plenty of opportunities to take up the Cross and follow Him, but we say no. How selfish, stubborn, prideful, immature in our faith, and ignorant we are to do so. And I think because we are not as in tune as we should be with The Spirit working through us that sometimes we don't even realize it. I was personally convicted this morning that I do not suffer enough. And when I do, that I do not call it a blessing!

On another note, if we call ourselves followers of Christ, doesn't that mean in all aspects/roles we have in life? As a wife, mother, teacher, leader in church, etc. How have I suffered for Christ in my roles? How have I died to my desires for His will?

The verse that resonates most with me is from James 1:2 where he says
 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." 

I honestly think that if we are going to show Christ's love and be able to change the heart of an unbeliever, we are going to have to start living up to this verse! So what does that mean to you? What do you need to say yes (or no possibly) so that you can suffer for Christ? What is the Lord calling you to do?

For me personally, it is dying to the idea of ever having a biological child. It is suffering the fact that we won't ever look like other families or be treated like other families even within our Church. It is knowing that God had a different plan for my life than I ever had and being able to leave my pride behind me to follow Him. It is giving up my selfish nature in order to be a mom of an adoptive teenage child that requires a lot more attention, money and resources. It is making Biblical decisions for our family that close friends and family don't necessarily agree with. It is being a submissive wife when the world doesn't understand. It is following God wherever He says to go whenever He says to go!

I don't know what "suffering" looks like for you, but I challenge you to say yes to whatever the Lord puts in your path. Because it is PURE JOY when you entrust every step of your life to Him! I can assure you that He never makes mistakes...even in times of suffering.