Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our last payday...

This is it...our last check comes in as a pension check...okay, breath...that would be in and out Mair. Okay, that's right, I forgot for a minute there. Hang on while I go send in our tithe...
I am did that breathing thing go again? Mom told me to marry a civil this will all be okay, right?

Truth is I am okay with it. It is just all so new. I am excited to be honest with you. It is all starting to feel real for the first time. Come October we will throw John a family reunion/retirement party and all will be well. How did that breathing thing start? Oh, yes, in and out, in and out...

I suppose all change has it's moments of panic.

Change...our dear little friend Belle got to come home a couple of weeks ago...Being home was a huge change, but her being sick has not changed. So we keep praying as the change to home care becomes somehow normal.

Change...I will be home alone for the first time in fifteen years this fall. I am convinced that change will turn me into Donna Reed. Let me make believe okay? Where are my pearls?

Change...after decades of writing in a notebook, I now write online. I have to remember I now have people reading what I am writing. I have learned that some of my thoughts need to be kept in that notebook!


One of the changes I love is in my girls. No, no rant today or letter from the champ of bratyness. This one sings to my heart.

In the last year my girls have not attended youth group at all in our church. The politics of that change are not at issue here. That part can stay in my notebook.

Liz, who will be 15 on the same day that John retires, has attended youth group (here and there) at our old church, Caity has attended a school~year long bible study. The little two have attended AWANA (google if you must) and Brennan, well there has not been anything that has attracted her thus far. All of them have VBS plans for the summer.

Liz and I were talking through some of the politics of the change (see notebook...or rather, oh never mind!) and while some of them matter it was the result of those changes that took me by surprise.

She told me that while she has always wanted to be a part of a youth group in our church, in the end, not being a part of it made her love Jesus more. This past year as she has spoken out in school with both teachers and students, she never quoted our youth pastor. She quoted her daddy and I. It was the things we talked over in our kitchen/car/walking that came out of her mouth in school.


I never had a youth pastor. It was not a part of my experience as a kid. I had a great group of believers that I spent my time with. Some of them I even tried hard to break commandments know that is another post for another day right? Okay. Except for a brief time in my late teens when we had a young adults prayer meeting, we believers were all lumped together. It was a glimpse of what Heaven may be like to my young heart.

There has been a shift or a change, if you will in the Youth pastor world. I have had more then one conversation with youth pastors who has reminded me that they are trained professionals.


Okay, I have no doubt that you don't have to be a parent in order to have a heart for the youth. My own mom had that heart for teaching other people's children about Jesus, just as she shared Him with me. I know that a good youth pastor can be life and breath to a kid. A great youth group can make a huge difference in a kids life...

But what if we don't have that, ever. What if my kids don't get to have a youth group like that?

90~something percent of evangelical believers walk away from their faith in college. That is a statistic that should strike fear into the heart of believers everywhere. All the time and money we spend on great youth programs and VBS and missions trips for our teens in middle school and high school...and we are watching them just up and walk away.

We could do a whole study on how it is the public school systems fault...yeah, they get taught some whoppers in school today and I would have been the first one to point a pointer at that only a short while ago. Except that I have friends who homeschooled and their kids have also walked away from the faith in college. So much for the formula I was going to use!

One study showed that kids who sit with their folks during Sunday church are far less likely to turn away from their faith by like a 70% margin...guess where my kids sit now. When I asked if they missed going to Sunday school, all three girls said yes...they miss the donuts. Okay, I can make those at home, so sit your bony butts in the pew, next to me, thank you very much.

I have mentioned before that my expert parenting skills only go as far as almost 15. That still holds true until July 8, 2010 and then I get to say it goes all the way to 15, but not beyond yet.
What I have learned thus far, is that Liz's faith is now her own...She has her own bible and her own calling and she may or may not follow hard after Him. I can no longer demand verses recited at the kitchen table, well I could, but why?

Yes, under my roof, she will attend church every Sunday or she will not eat, eventually drive the car, have a cell phone or a social life. Yes, all of that is true. There is no choice about getting out of bed for church on Sunday morning.

She will hear Third Day on my iPod in the kitchen and no, she will not spend my money on Lady gag-a...No more so then I was allowed to buy "Only the good die young." She will also be bored to tears with Glenn Beck on TV in my living room at 5:00pm each day and Rush on the radio from 12-3pm. She will be surrounded by truth, convenient or not.

We will speak Truth in our home and God forgive John and I, she will have a first hand glimpse of our own compromises and sin. She will know when we talk through her latest heart ache with her that John and I are speaking through the screen of The Word. She knows that we are actively praying for her and her siblings...and that is as important as the fantastic food we put on the table.

But ultimately, I already know that I cannot put a gun to her head and make her have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Her time in the Word, her prayer time, her desire or not, to memorize His Word and to "hide it" in her heart is her decision. Oh, how I hate that I cannot make my apron strings pull in a little tighter like a noose around her heart. But I can't because if I yank those strings to tight she will cut them herself and leave us both reeling.

It won't much matter if she goes to Bob Jones or Evangel or some small Baptist college or even Fordham or God help me, Yale. It won't matter because unless her faith is her own, and SHE is following hard after Him, she will not know Him. She can let dust settle on her bible, forget to pray, and still go to the best youth group every week and miss the whole darn thing.

Change is hard as a mommy. I think Yates or Tennyson wrote that "Naught lasts forever, except change." The only constant in the lives of Liz and her siblings is that God is still on His throne. I can't give them any other assurance. The waves of life, lived in a fallen world, will sweep them away, unless they have the solid Rock of Christ to stand on. And so I will be busy in prayer through all of the changes.


Stacey said...

I can identify with so much of this. (Not the retirement part though.) I have an almost 16 yo son (September), and I know how you feel. The other day when I was changing his sheets I found his Bible and a hymnal in his covers, so I guess I know what he reads at bedtime. That made me so happy. We can give them the tools but we can't always guarantee what they'll do when they make their own choices. I pray that my children will continue to grow in their relationship with God. I also laughed when I read what you wrote about trained professionals...because I have a piece of paper that says I am one, but I think it's my own faith not the coursework that allow me to be a light in this world.

Prayers and peace in this transition.

Maryellen said...

I am glad you didn't take offense! LOL! I guess I see youth pastors as ones who should come along side us as parents. Not take our place. But...

Stacey said...

I haven't had that happen. Most of the pastors we know (or that we worship with would be more accurate) affirm parents as the main spiritual guides of their children and work to equip them in the best and most effective ways they can.

Maryellen said...

I hear you. I don't mean any of this as a personal grip. Having that youth pastor relationship has simply been absent from our lives this year, thats all. I pray you continue to be affirmed in your parenting! We all need that!