The fall season has been spectacular here in Michigan and as usual I wonder how the branches can already be bare and the leaves returned to earth. In a blink we are two months into the new school year and while everyone finally seems adjusted I am just beginning to play catch up. The fall season is so interesting as the kids all return to school with great anticipation and renewed enthusiasm for learning. With five kids in five schools both Bob and I find ourselves being stretched in new ways to keep up. It’s a bit like running a marathon. We start out hyped and ready and within a short time we realize we need to be fully prepared to go the distance and it’s gonna take all we have. So we settle in and we pace ourselves. The pace is not for the weary and some days leaves us with little time outside of helping with math equations, rehearsing middle school play lines, attending soccer games and just spending time knowing each of our children and where they are on their journey.
So as the season changed and fall set in our workload was increasing. While one son made his way out of the nest and off to college the next was beginning high school where so many activities and friends would be pulling him in a variety of directions. Then our middle son courageously fought to attend a smaller Christian school where we would be challenged to say yes, thinking of all that it would take to enter a new scene and a totally new community. Then there is the fifth grader entering a new school complete with challenges of not wanting to read and typically wanting someone by his side as he completes homework. We wrap up the list with our little one attending a new preschool program at a school new to us. It is all good stuff yet complicated as each opportunity brings more to the to do list of the party. There is just so much to learn and young lives that need direction and guidance. There are communities to get to know with days where time feels so limited. There are parents and friends we long to connect with and numerous parents and children struggling to know how they fit together and are they doing what it takes for their children to stay connected to the vine. This workload before me the past eight weeks has often looked daunting, literally frightening some days. So what do we do? So many of us parents, farmers in our own homes, working the soil and praying each year that the right conditions of water, light and nurturing deliver abundant sustenance. Will we see the reaping of all we have sown? Perhaps we will but will we be ready to accept it when it does not look like what we were expecting? This week I have found myself using the metaphor of the harvest to allow me to look up and to see the divine and more than ever I want to trust God with my children and accept the outcome. I cannot possibly do it all and believe more each day that we are not supposed to. We parents are not meant to have all the answers. Instead we are meant to show up with open arms willing to do the careful work put before us, picking, cleaning, listening, sharing, investing, sorting, changing, packing, accepting, delivering. Harvesting the territory we have been given through Christ who delivers strength. We need to nurture the beautiful moments right where they are and stop waiting for every vine to bear fruit. Some will and frankly some won’t. Be grateful for the vines that do and be ready to reset when the opposite is true.
There is a story that God is writing in and through each of my children and the more I allow my lens to be fixed on Him the more peace is gleaned. In the moments where I can give more grace and worry less, I find more strength. So as I feel myself running faster on this crazy train of life, again I look up. I settle myself for a moment and I ask for direction. I ask for a new attitude or a stillness that will allow me to refocus. I ask for a pace that will take away the idea that it all will look and feel perfect. Afterall nothing on the road of parenting children of all ages and abilities equals perfection. Nothing. I ask for ways to connect with other parents feeling the same way and I ask to be used to nurture others with similar fears on this imperfect parenting road. I just want to know how to more deeply surrender and to teach my children to surrender to all that God can do in and through us as a family and as individuals if we allow Him to have his way. Can you hear God directing you to run your race with a renewed spirit or a more confident pace? We need those cues. We need less of our own understanding and more of Jesus. We need our children to know He is beside them in all words and deeds willing to carry them when the race is too long. He will carry them and He will carry you too.
I love this from Elisa Morgan in her book The Beauty of Broken:
“And God knows you. He will not try you beyond what you are able to bear. There is no “off” ramp in parenting. Instead of looking for it, take courage and parent with an attitude that yields to the seemingly impossible. You may be shocked by the realities you face, but parenting calls you to continue. And in the continuing you will likely discover as I did, that God will grow more of you, more for you and more in you. ”And now, God, do it again- bring rains to our drought stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing. Psalm 126: 4-6 MSG
Here’s to peace on the journey… Melanie