steady in the struggles .....

My son is having a hard day and I want to be there with him but I can't because we are separated by a large body of water called the Pacific Ocean and we remain connected only over FaceTime. I hang up my phone and feel the weight.

Another son struggles over the homework load of high school and his first year in "outside school". The struggle to belong and be known is exhausting.

My daughter tears up as she works through life questions, also asking tough questions on identity, and why life sometimes doesn't work out the way we would like. 

My youngest curls up on the couch and it takes great patience to wait for him to tell us what he is thinking. He is burdened by all the hard things that are happening, friends who are hurting, the Syrian refugee crisis, and refugees in our city. How a youngest child learns to carry such heavy burdens continues to surprise me. 

All this happens within a week and by Friday, my heart is tired. Oh, so tired. 

I can't rescue my kids from the burdens they carry. I can't fix them with wise words or even a 
listening ear. How do I walk with my kids as they grow up? 

At this point I remember the early years of parenting with a longing that has forgotten how exhausting those years were. When they were young and emotions less complicated, I felt more in control. 

And now it's clear, I'm not and probably never was. 

What's the way forward when my kids struggle?

Memorizing Scripture has been a powerful tool for me this past year, remembering and hiding God's Word in my heart has helped guard my heart. Full on anxiety is a mere half-second away and I can easily work myself into a near panic attack if I allow my mind to wander. 

Are they safe? 
Are they making good choices? 
Who are their friends? 
What are they doing when no one is looking? 
Who do they turn to when things are hard? 
He was driving somewhere over the weekend and I haven't heard from him since Friday and it's now Sunday! 

Paul assures the Philippian believers in Philippians 1:6, "and I am sure of this, that He began a good work in you, will bring it to completion in Christ Jesus." Confident and sure of this. 

Though these words are familiar, they bring deep comfort. Paul longed for the believers and he, too was separated by distance. He longed to be with them as he says in chapter 2, but he works to send Timothy and Epaphroditus instead. He is anxious for them, (2:28) and he longs for them with deep affection (1: 8)  Paul challenges them, "so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are  with one mind striving side by side together for the faith of the gospel." He calls them to a greater vision, and challenges them to keep on pressing on. (ch 3)

I can't control the decisions my kids make, especially as they are getting older. I can't tell  them what to think. But I can call them to the high vision and the goal of pressing onward to Christ. I can love them with deep affection and release them to the One who loves them even more. 

Trusting God when I have no control over the outcome is just a little harder when it relates to my kids. But today He steadies my heart in the struggle. I am learning to keep my mind steadfast on Him. I must remember the ways He has cared for us as a family and cared for each of them. I recount a few stories and the Lord puts my heart at ease for this moment. I'll wake up tomorrow and recount again. I have a feeling that this part of parenting won't ever stop.  

What questions jar your soul? 
What thought makes your heart stop for a minute? 
How are you learning to trust God for your kids today? 
What are you doing that helps you when your kids struggle? 


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