Tag Archives: family

getting ready to let go

Becky BennettAbout the author: Becky Bennett is the wife of a bearded-hipster-worship-leader and is the mother of three small children, Ava (5), Avianna (3), and Jack (1). Becky was diagnosed with a life-altering nerve disorder called CRPS in October of 2014 and is determined to choose joy in suffering. Originally from Maine, Becky now lives in Webster, NY, where she and her family love being a part of Northridge Church. Becky is a writer, a dancer, a singer, an artist, and a dreamer. Her greatest passion is Jesus. You can follow her journey at ToChooseJoy.blogspot.com.

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Becky Bennett - AvaThis week, my dear little first-born is heading off to kindergarten. Like so many mommas who have gone before me, I’m transitioning into the place where I have to let go. As she sets her little light-up-sneakered foot onto the soil of her new school, she is stepping into the beginning of a lifetime of choices that will happen outside of my home, outside of my reach. The questions she will have to answer are about to get much more serious than, “Would you like grilled cheese or peanut butter?”

It is in these first few steps that I have to release from my arms the baby who taught me what it meant to labor and to ache but to keep my eyes on hope and on the prize of my pain. In the same way that I had to breathe deeply and walk away from her crib at night, wondering if she would keep on breathing when I did, I have to let go of the fear of what might happen to her when my eyes aren’t on her. I would suffer anything if it meant that she didn’t have to experience pain. But I can’t do that for her. I cannot choose the trials that she will have to face.

Becky BennettIt’s been three decades since my own mom set out on this journey with me — the journey of letting go. I wonder what was it like for my mom when she stood on the other end of the phone line while my husband told her, from the hospital, that our life was going to change forever because I had just been diagnosed with a disease with no cure. In that very moment, she was in another hospital hundreds of miles away, where my dad was having surgery for cancer. I wonder how many times her stomach turned I wonder what her grief must have felt like.  A mom — having to let go.

wheelchair-2For all of the years that she spent lovingly preparing me for possible decisions and potential scenarios, my mom couldn’t choose my next steps for me as I faced loss after debilitating loss. She couldn’t give me back my legs when they were pulled out from underneath me, and my dancer-mobility was replaced with a wheelchair and a hopeful pair of crutches. She couldn’t be close enough in proximity, because of my dad’s condition at the time, to help care for her three small grandchildren whose momma had just been bound to a bed. She couldn’t be there to try to coax my youngest into taking a bottle — my baby, who, at the time, was only nine months old and had just lost his only-known food supply because of the medications I now had to take. She couldn’t be there to make us dinner. She couldn’t be there to tie my shoes. She couldn’t wish away my tears. She couldn’t take away my pain.She was helpless to help me, her little girl, in any way other than to pray. And pray, she did. She cast me into the arms of the One who cares for me more deeply than even she. And care, He did.

Becky BennettAnd I was ready for it. I was up for the challenge, resolved not to give in or to let it get me down. I chose joy in the suffering. I chose hope underneath heavy despair. In large part, I was able to make those choices because my mom had spent her life modeling the strength and mercy and joy and hope of Jesus for me.

When I think about letting go, when I think about releasing my daughter into a world of choices and inevitable suffering, I have another choice of my own to make. Will I trust God with her life? Will I believe Him, not just for myself, but for my child, when He says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” (James 1:2-3)?

I pray for good friends, kind teachers, and strong mentors to fill the years that are to come for my daughter. I pray that they would draw her towards Christ, rather than away from Him. I am reminded, however, that so often it has been through the least friendly “friends,” through the most difficult teachers, and through the greatest weaknesses in my mentors that I have learned the most about what God’s faithfulness and never-ending love and true wisdom really look like. I pray for a smooth journey and for success for my daughter. I know, though, that it has been on the bumpiest terrain and in some of the most devastating failures that the darkest places in my own heart have been revealed and that I have been healed. Trying times have been the very instruments of my maturity and my ability to press on through further trials. And those trials have been the very influences that cause me to cling more tightly to my Savior.

So, I will cast my cares on Him. I will entrust my child to the tenderhearted God of the most intimate and gracious and life-giving love. To the One who is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and binds up their wounds. As my mind reels with urgency, wondering if I’ve missed something in these years that flew by so quickly, I’m comforted in knowing that my five-year-old does not have to be prepared, right now, for everything she will ever face. She only needs to be ready for today. I will pray her through each moment that I cannot be a part of, and I will be waiting with open arms when she comes running back home at the end of the day.

Beck BennettI will rest knowing that no matter what choices or challenges lie ahead for this little girl, she has already made the most important one that she will ever make: to give her life to Jesus. He will always be with her. He will carry her. He will never let her go. “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day,” (Psalm 46:5).

This beautiful little person didn’t come into the world just to fill my arms. She came to fulfill a destiny. She’s walking out the door. She’s ready. And I think that now I’m ready, too.

 

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Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by nick.amoscato http://flickr.com/photos/namoscato/8297366194 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

what the prodigal’s father did right

Colette @ awriteheart.comI got on my knees in front of her.  I had never in my life seen such grief.  I prayed outloud what she could not.  She couldn’t form the words because her heart was broken.  I entered in to another woman’s sorrow that day and we prayed in unison of heart for her son.

The Bible says (3 John 1:4) that there is no greater joy than to hear that your children walk in truth.  Which means, there is no greater heartache when they do not.  I have cried, prayed and counseled with many Christian parents whose older children have become prodigals; who wastefully or extravagantly live in sin.  Heartbroken and confused parents who begged God for years to keep their precious children from sin; parents who dedicated their little ones to God and His service.  In Luke 15:11-32 we see where the father of the prodigal son did many things right and parents can learn so much from him.

He didn’t withhold anything from his son.

Luke 15:12 He didn’t say things like “if you live like this you are out of the will!” Instead, he treated him as his child whether or not his son was in sin or whether he was living right. When his son decided to leave, his father did not demand that he return the inherited money.  The father gave him his inheritance, he gave him his time, and he gave him his love.

He didn’t disown him.

He never said “if you choose to live like this you are not my son!” Instead, the door to his home and to relationship stayed open.

He welcomed him with open arms.

Luke 15:20 He never said “You are only welcome back when you clean yourself up”. Instead, he welcomed him before he knew that his son was out of sin and home to stay. He saw him from afar and he rejoiced that his son was coming home.  The Bible says that when he saw his son coming home, he ran to him!  This shows such love on this fathers part. He was just happy to be with his son and that his son was home.  The Bible says that the father rejoiced and killed the fatted calf and had a party for his sons return “because he hath received him safe and sound”.  I can almost feel his relief through the pages of the story.

He waited.

He didn’t plan and figure out how and when he was going to preach truth to his son. Instead, he waited for God to work in his sons’ life. Many parents want to instruct their wayward children at every turn and remind them of all that they are doing wrong. This wise man was still and waited for God to work in his sons’ life. It says in Scripture that the Prodigal Son came to himself, came to his senses, when he was eating with the pigs. Not when his father was preaching to him about his sin. This wise father let God do a work in his sons’ heart. And God did it in the pigpen among the dirt and the slop.

He didn’t let his emotions rule his actions.

He didn’t yell at his son when he chose to leave and live in sin.  He didn’t chase after him and remind him over and over of his sin. Instead, he controlled his emotions and his actions. I believe this is one of the hardest things to do.  Good parents strive to keep their young ones from sin.  It is heartbreaking to watch a child, the one that you love, go down a destructive path. But I see where this wise father did not allow his sons actions to rule his emotions. He didn’t go after his son with strong emotion.  In fact, he didn’t go after him at all.   It is evident that he felt strong emotion by the way that he rejoiced when his son came home. But, he used his emotions for rejoicing instead of negative, out of control, or manipulative behavior.

He rested in the fact that he had trained him in the ways of the Lord.

He didn’t keep instructing, instead he rested in the fact that he had already done that. When a child is wayward the only thing he may accept from a parent at this time is unconditional love. He won’t hear reprimands, warnings, Bible verses or instruction. Those things are all good but a backslidden son or daughter is not open to them when they have chosen sin. Love covers a multitude of sins and unconditional love must cover a child who is in sin.

I spoke with a young man who had been raised in church, who had accepted Christ as his Savior, he knew the Bible stories and was raised by Godly parents.  Even so, he became a prodigal.  After living for a long season in sin he came back to the Lord.  He told me that he was at a Lady Gaga concert, of all places, when the Holy Spirit began to work in his heart.  Lady Gaga said something about there not being a God.  That statement stuck in his heart.  He kept thinking “who is she to say that?  Am I going to take her word for whether there is a God or not???”  Eventually those thoughts turned to “There is a God and what in the world am I doing?”  Just like the prodigal son, he came to the end of himself.  He is now a changed man living his life for Jehovah God.  But in the pig trough is where God got ahold of this young man’s heart.

Many times God allows a prodigal to go down their destrictive path so that God becomes real to him.  So that God becomes their God and not just the God of thier parents.  God creates a testimony in all of his children.  In the story of the prodigal son, this son had so much blessing and didn’t realize what he had until he had nothing but God.

Don’t give up in despair, parents!  God loves your child even more than you do.  His children, Adam and Eve, had everything they ever needed.  God had given them perfection and they ended up choosing sin. God the Father loved them unconditionally!  He also loves your child unconditionally.  Keep praying and believing!  I know that as long as there is breath, there is hope. Prayer achieves the miraculous…I have seen it over and over again!

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six awesome things we can learn from little kids

Melissa @ awriteheart.comWhen each of my three children were toddlers, there were so many moments when I thought to myself, “I need to be more like them!” In Matthew 18:1-4 Jesus even drew attention to the attributes of children, and told us to be humble and teachable like they are! Here are six things about little kids that we as adults can learn from.

They’re IN THE MOMENT.

My husband and I went to P.F.Changs restaurant a while back and we had to wait to be seated. There were probably twenty adults and a handful of teens in the waiting area, and every single face reflected the blue glow of a phone screen. Once we were in the dining room I even saw people on their phones while eating. These people were AT the restaurant, but they weren’t really THERE…Their minds were somewhere else.

six awesome thing we can learn from little kidsKids are where they are…When they play, they’re so involved that they forget to go to the bathroom. When they eat food they love, they enjoy it so much that they don’t think about how much of the food is all over their faces. When they sing, they sing with all the volume their little bodies can muster. Maybe every so often we should do the same thing and just be where we are – no phones, no multi-tasking, no planning ahead. Maybe we should just enjoy what’s right in front of us instead of worrying about what we’re missing or what’s coming next.

They remember everything.

I’m always amazed at how my kids remember who gave them each and every toy that they have…They remember who took them for ice cream, which kid was sick yesterday at school, and the vacation we took four years ago. It makes me feel special when they remember things about our experiences that even I have forgotten. Remembering is a discipline for adults, and our brains aren’t soaking up information like those of little people, but we should make a point to remember what is important to us and to others. It makes those around us feel special.

They forgive AND forget.

There are days when I really believe that my kids are going to hate me. There are those impatient, short-tempered, pull-my-hair-out, just-yelled-at-daddy days when I’m pretty sure they’ll think differently of me. But they never do. They forgive me immediately! They never act as though I owe them anything, and the next morning they see a new day ahead of them instead of an awful day behind them. It’s hard to forget, but be generous with your forgiveness – just like Christ is with you.

They love like crazy.

Whether it’s a stuffed toy that they adore or a person they see every day, small children love with every fiber of themselves. They don’t consider the risks, and they don’t ever think about whether a person is doing “their part” in the relationship. You KNOW they love you – they make it obvious to you and to everyone around them. They give big huge hugs. They seek your attention. They are excited to see you, and sad when you leave. They talk about you. They imitate you. They ask about you. There is NO QUESTION that you’re in their little hearts. I think if we loved like a little kid for seven days, our whole life would change.

They don’t compare.

six awesome things we can learn from little kidsMy kids have a multi-racial extended family, as well as friends with physical disabilities. They rarely mention differences between themselves and these other individuals. They’ve asked for explanations here and there, but otherwise they don’t see it as something important enough to discuss all that much. Physically, racially, and economically, kids just see people as people. No better or worse. They find value in people not because of how they perform, what they look like, or how much they own, but because of who they really are. We, too, should see people first as people, instead of categorizing, comparing, and labeling.

They are who they are.

My daughter used to go to the grocery store with me wearing an IronMan costume. Every time. People loved it – they waved and she waved, and she thought it was just the best thing ever. No one else in the store was wearing a costume, but she wanted to wear it anyways. No regrets, no apologies, no embarrassment.  Psalm 139:13-16 says that God saw us and knew us before we were born, and formed us to be who we are . There ARE things that we shouldn’t be proud of – sinful things that don’t please Him. But He made us to be unique people, and sometimes I think we’re more apt to conform and change who we are so that we fit in to the group around us. Be proud of the person you were made to be, just like my little girl was proud to be IronMan.

Most of the time we think of kids as just what they are – kids! After all, they’re the ones who are learning to be more mature, and rarely do we consider them role models. But maybe we should learn a thing or two from the simplicity and authenticity of little children, and be just like them!

Matthew 18:2-4 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

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