I watch my children play in the sun-bathed yard. - It's an idyllic scene.
I walk by their pictures on the wall, and pause...contemplating what their future holds.
Life is unpredictable. I've heard it all my life, and have put the rhetoric into practice.
I know that I can't predict what will happen next year, next month, or even in the next minute.
It has always been my preference to keep a controlled hand on the unfolding pages of my story.
I wrote the "Once upon a time," and "They lived happily ever after" stories as a young girl.
Every girl got her guy. Every sunset was glorious, and every character was the picture of perfection.
If I could edit those childish stories now, I would add a whole layer of realistic drama to the story lines.
Isn't it funny how life works?
My husband and I are raising 4 unpredictable human beings, who will undoubtedly have their own versions of the family story we are creating.
We don't know who they will end up becoming, what they will end up creating, or how they will end up living.
It occurred to me the other day that my children will most likely have some type of "smart device" in their possession in the near future. I realized that even if I tried to protect them from these limitless investigators into the internet, they will at some point be exposed to the vastness of the world-wide-web.
I don't mind telling you the momentary feeling of terror that gripped me right then.
I found myself asking questions in my mind...
"How will I keep them from the evil out there?"
"How will I convince them that there are beneficial paths to walk upon?"
"How can I control the outcome of their lives?"
You see, I realize that no matter how many boundaries I put around them, no matter how many filters or safeguards I put in place, there will come a day when the choice will become their own.
I've read statistics about the psychological harm that comes with exposure to explicit content.
I've read about the torment they have to endure replaying all the things they have seen, read, or listened to.
And I look at my children's generation, many of whom are in possession of unlimited internet access late at night or the ability to watch TV from the comfort of their bedroom, and I wonder...
What baggage will this generation be dealing with?
What images will they be unable to force out of their tortured minds?
Which lyrics will play over and over in their heads as they attempt to sleep?
And, then, how many of them will believe that behavior like that is some version of normal?
The truth is, I'm something of an idealist.
I am a firm believer that just because there is potential for failure, does not mean it has to turn into a reality.
I've seen enough parents raise outstanding children when the odds were not in their favor.
I've seen young men who were written off as societal failures turn into men of integrity and faithfulness.
I've seen young women who were plagued by painful memories of destructive behavior, transformed into delightful emissaries of grace, who are desperate to rescue anyone from the possibility of their past.
Because redemption is a reality.
Change is possible.
Breaking generational curses is something I know is within reach.
That is why I have hope.
I was there when my parents raised me.
I know what I was capable of.
I saw the person I could have turned out to be (and still could if I made wrong choices).
I know what happened in my mind when their control over me loosened.
I have no trouble recalling the time when it occurred to me that I was free to make my own choices.
Suddenly I had the ability to go anywhere I felt like, watch and listen to anything I wanted, and become the person I decided I should be.
How liberating, you might say...
And yet, I could not get my parent's voices out of my head!
Every snippet of wisdom, every instruction, every purposeful discipline was with me forever.
It still is...more than a decade after leaving home.
And, truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Because you see, I know what I am capable of.
I am aware of the temptations that come my way daily.
And I am also very much aware of the consequences of any poor choices I may contemplate.
Because of the faithful instruction of loving parents, I know that the things I choose to dwell on will determine the trajectory of my life.
And while I can't control who my children end up becoming, any more than my parents could with me, I can follow in their footsteps.
There are no guarantees with parenting.
Discipline, instruction, boundaries...all are needed, but don't guarantee a promising future.
But, there is one method of parenting that I believe our children can never ignore.
That is, the consistent declaration of God's will and purpose over their lives.
They may choose to follow unhealthy patterns of living, but when they come to the end of their proverbial rope, one strand of hope will endure.
"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."
(James 5:16 NLT)
I am choosing to hold on to the promises that my parents held on to, and are still trusting in.
Prayer will be the foundation of my parenting.
Guidance and instruction will be lovingly encircled with the fervent prayer of this Mommy.
I don't know what I'm going to think of our parenting skills when I look back.
But, one thing I am sure of... I will do my best to pray with expectancy, knowing that the same God that answered my parent's prayers, is the One who will hear my cry.
I pray with fervent hope...and I trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to "equip [them] with all [they] need for doing his will. [That] he produce in [them], through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen." (from Hebrews 13:21).
I leave you with the prayer that I pray almost every night over our children:
"May the LORD bless you and keep you.
May He make His face to shine upon you
and give you peace.
May you walk in the straight paths all
the days of your life.
May you love the LORD your God
with all your heart, soul, mind and
strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
May you be a mighty man/woman of God.
Photo by Jamie Taylor