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Allowing our Kids to take up their Cross

Allowing our kids to take up their own cross. To take on the hard.

  This is something I’ve been so passionate about in my parenting.  If you know me in real life you know that I am not a helicopter parent.  I am not under the illusion that I can shield my children from this world nor do I put that pressure on myself as a mother. 

Do I value keeping my children safe and work to make sure they aren’t in danger? Of course.  But there is a difference in fighting off a bear that’s charging at them and fighting a bumblebee that flies next to them because GOD forbid they ever experience or fathom the pain of a bee sting.

If there is a real life-threatening danger to our babies, then fine.  Momma bear up and let’s go.  I will protect my babies so fiercely from grave danger.  But coming in with that kind of mama bear protectant nature for an unkind word from another child, when they want to hop from one rock to another in a creek, when they want to jump with their skateboard for the first time, or they want to hang upside down on a tree branch, is just uncalled for and frankly unhelpful.

Steven Furtick wrote Sun Stand Still and in his book, he says this, “

Audacity plays to win. I don't want to raise good boys. I want to raise great men that will do great things for a great God. I once heard a preacher say in a sermon, "I'm not raising my kids to survive the world. I'm raising my kids to change it."

You guys when we yell, "CAREFUL!", every time they do something that’s risky or find themselves in a situation where they actually need to think to get out of it safely, what are we teaching our kids? What mindest are we instilling in our kids when we don't let them take a risk?

My Mindset Change

My 7-year-old right now loves to climb trees and it makes my heart drop sometimes.  You know when you look up and they are out of your comfort zone for what you would prefer.  When I see this my initial response is to want to freak out and tell him to get down.  But what I've begun to train myself to do is the opposite of that. 

When I see him high in the tree and think of all the awful things that could happen if he fell.

I have to bring myself back to the reality that my kid is capable of.  He is confident sitting up there enjoying the view. 

He is almost 8. He understands that it would not be good if he fell too. Maybe not the same level I realize it, but he’s knows there is a risk.

  So, instead of yelling at him and freaking out about how dangerous it is, I will just say, “Hey buddy, Great job climbing but that’s pretty high can you start to make a plan to come back down?” 

I remind him to test out branches before putting his weight fully on one.  He slowly starts to make his way back down and I will finally be able to breathe once my baby is down and safe.

The beauty in responding this way is, as far as he knows I am proud of him and am projecting the fact that I am confident that he can make choices to get down safely. 

This allows his mind is problem-solving the whole way down.   If he truly gets stuck, I will prompt some questions like, “Ok, great job...you need to find a strong branch for your right foot next." Then I  step back and let him figure it out. 

Even though to him, I'm calm, in the inside I'm still freaking out.   I’m thinking about the dead branches that he doesn’t really understand won’t hold him.  I’m scared that one misgrab and he could fall down, I’m scared of a broken bone or worse.  But those are all WORST case scenarios.  I refuse to live my motherhood in that space. 

So, I go back to coaching him through it. 

If he slips a little and feels that stomach-dropping feeling that freaks him out and gets a little scratch on his shin and arm then that’s okay with me because 9/10 times he can make it down out of that tree on his own and when his feet hit the grass I will act like I was as confident as can be in him.

Because the last thing he needs when he’s 15-20 feet in the air is a lack of confidence in himself or his decisions, especially coming from his mama. 

If he somehow gets stuck and can't figure it out, you better believe, I climb up and help him out of that situation. Once he's unstuck then expect him to figure it out the rest of the way down.  

Now, I use this tree example because I think it’s easy for everyone to relate to.  We can all recognize that feeling of fear for our children over just about everything 

 

I want to raise World Changers

It’s your responsibility as their mother to not transfer that fear onto them. 

We want to raise kids who have courage who step into the unknown, to the scary, to the hard, and to be confident.  At least that's what we say we want.

I don’t think any of us want to raise children who are too afraid to leave the house or too afraid to live because they can only imagine the danger of something or the worst-case scenario for every single thing in life.  

And if you are new here...just a disclaimer that I am always talking outside the realm of diagnosed anxiety/depression or some kind of medical diagnosis.  I’m talking to moms that are not dealing with a medical condition but are projecting their fear of life onto their kids. 

God, we love our kids.  We can’t imagine a worse pain than our kids being hurt.  It’s excruciating to even go there. We want to shelter our kids from pain and darkness the world can hold. 

But the problem is that we can’t raise world changers in that space. 

  • I don’t want my boys to be skittish every time something hard, or unknown is in front of them. 
  • I don’t want them to run away from a person in need because they have a really dark and hard past.
  • I don’t want them to have to close their eyes and cover their ears as they grow up,  figuratively speaking,  when someone brings up something hard like sex trafficking, or over-doses, or foster care and abuse.
  • I don’t want them to be so far removed from all the evil that their mind literally can’t even comprehend that this kind of stuff is real.
  • I don’t want my boys to meet someone that has come from a really hard place and not be able to relate on any level because they've never had to experience any kind of hard.
  • I don’t want my kids to be in a bubble so thick that they are so dag on fragile that they aren’t helpful at all.

Does this mean I go out and intentionally look for ways for my kids, for my babies, my 7, 5, 4, and almost 2 years old to experience the not-so-great parts of this world?

Yes. Yes, it does.  

The hard my kids are learning to Carry

I just spent about 30 minutes the other day holding my 7 year old who was curled up in my lap crying because I had just told him that our foster daughter, who we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to, wasn’t coming back home to us.

It was decided that she would stay with the family who had her for a respite visit, indefinitely.  This was GOOD news because this family is planning to adopt her. That doesn’t make the emotions of loving her for almost 5 months go away.  We were supposed to go pick her up this past Friday afternoon to come back home and I had found out Thursday what was going on.

I had my own good cry and heartbreak, then the next day my boys had asked about 5-6 times, “When are we going to get baby J?” “Is it time to go get J yet?” and I knew I had to sit down to tell them it wasn’t going to happen. 

My momma heart knew that I was about to break their heart and that is so hard.  I know how much they loved her.  I know that they expected her to be back.  

 I gathered them all and explained the best I could the REALITY of what was happening.  I did not say that baby J was going home. 

And let me side step really quickly and let you know how we explain foster care to our children.  We basically say when a child(ren) have a mom and dad who are not making good or safe choices then those kids need a safe space to go.  As a foster home we are their safe place where they get to stay and play while their mommy and daddy are learning to make better and safer decisions.  Then when their mommy/daddy start making those decisions these kids will go back home forever.  I then continue to say….if the mommy/daddy decide to not make good or safe decisions then it’s possible that we could become a child’s forever family because we always want kids to be safe and sometimes, sadly, that isn’t always the case.  But we will love on them for as long as they are in our home.

So this is the frame of reference our kids have on foster care.  We have had 4 kids in our home that have gone back home after they came to us.  So, the conversation had always looked like, “Their mommy/daddy started making good decisions and they get to go home forever!” This is still a hard time for the kids to process but it’s all in celebration.

The conversation about J was different.  It was different because she wasn’t going home.  This broke my Wesley Reid’s heart. He is 5  years old and this is what hurt his little heart the most.  He just kept saying, “I can’t believe she will never go back to her “real” mommy and daddy ever again.” His little mind can’t even comprehend this because it’s not his personal perspective, but through his sweet tears I can see his heart and mind open to and accept that life happens differently for different people. 

My Noah, he is broken-hearted because he doesn’t understand why we couldn’t be our forever family. He is a little older so the finality of her being gone I think hit a little harder. 

I showed them a picture of the family who will keep her and explained how this is so sad for us, and rightfully so, but also so good for J and that she is better because of how much they loved her. 

I re-explained our purpose of being this safe holding spot for kids.  I used the words, this is hard but it’s good. 

I let Noah see the video on my community group where I cried LIVE to you all right after getting the news because I just want to share the rawness of fostering.

 

I could tell he wanted to just cry hard but was holding back and so I wanted to show him that it’s okay to cry and feel deep sadness and happiness at the same time.

 

This is God’s work and this is such a good thing but it’s so hard.  He just laid on the floor with his hand over his face and tears streamed down his cheeks.

 

I wish I could articulate my feeling of watching him during this moment. 

 

I wish I could articulate the feeling of watching him be totally immersed in all of this sadness, immersed in all of this confusion, immersed in this mess.  

 

If I had to choose one word that described how I felt it would be, Peace

 

I mean I had tears running down my cheeks at this moment watching Noah because my heart hurt for so many reasons. 

 

But as I sat there, letting him have the space to feel what he felt, I just felt this peace well up within me. 

Isaiah 26:3 says,

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

 

This was only the type of peace that could come from God.  Only God could pull that emotion to the top or the forefront and silence all the others while my heart and my babies' hearts were hurting. 

As I sat with Noah I just felt peace and I feel like I could feel God’s presence in that room with us. 

 

I felt the tension. 

 

I felt the heartbreak but also the good God was working to redeem in J’s story. 

I felt the intense grief from my sons but heard them also ask in the same breath - when we would get our next kid to love on.  

Psalm 34:17-20 says, " When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

 

When the emotion calmed down, I said to my boys, “Listen, foster care is really hard, huh? We love these little ones that come in our home, and most of the time they are only meant to be with us for a little while which means most of the time we will have to love them and say goodbye to them just like we did with the 5 we did this with already".

I explained the reason why we step into this place again and continually pointed them to Jesus and his character. 

Then I said, "Even though this is hard, would you guys like to take a break or would you guys like to have another kid come to live with us for a little while?"

 

It was a unanimous vote, YES!

 

In the midst of the hardest part of this journey in my mind, the goodbye, they were ready for more.  They wanted to jump right back in.

 They felt the cost but recognized the need.  THIS is the place I want my boys to live in

I want them to dive headfirst into hard situations and then come up for a breather and recognize how dang on hard this is, but also realize how big the need is and just dive right back in throwing caution to the wind. 

Why? 

Because there is an upper story that is bigger than our physical world and physical bodies.  

I genuinely think we can go through life and God can use us no matter what.  But I think He is searching, like ferociously searching, for those who are willing to do the hard jobs, the tough jobs, and the day in and day out messy jobs for his glory.

And listen, it doesn’t have to be foster care. 

There is:

  • Addiction. 
  • Trafficking
  • Homelessness
  • Fatherless 
  • Poverty
  • Sickness
  • Social Injustice
  • Murder
  • Your own home
  • Your own family

Shoot, some of you are first generation______fill in the blank.  First-generation of your family to have a successful marriage.  First-generation to not be in some kind of financial devastation, first generation in your family to work on your mindset, your health, your whatever you want to call it and that is enough. 

This isn’t a challenge about what ministry is better.  This is more of a gut check of whether or not you are putting your kids in a situation to bear their own cross appropriately

OR are you carrying it for them?

 

God has entrusted you with the children in your home and if you are a believer then you know that your children are God’s not your own.

We are entrusted with them but they are ultimately God’s.

So what a disservice we are doing when we shield them from the brokenness in the world that God needs them to be a part of fixing? 

God needs them to be aware of what is going on.

God needs them to be able to call out injustice.

God needs them to call out brokenness.

God needs them to step into that mess.

God needs them to not be scared of that mess because it’s dangerous or hard.

Our children need to have eyes to see it and the confidence and the grit to not only identify it but to willingly step into it. 

 What better way to have confident God-Fearing adults who know God’s story is worth the risk than to teach them those ways as a child.  

 

What can you do to move God’s kingdom forward?

What can you do to take the baton from someone that may not be able to run right now and continue God’s mission? 

 

The time when my family is healthy, financially and emotionally stable is the time for my family to run...not rest.

In Hebrews 12 it says, "...Let us run the race that was set before us with endurance." 

We all have a time where we can run.  We all have a time when we are just trying to survive.  We all have a time when we just need to rest. 

So if you are where you are right now on purpose...great. 

 

But if you are resting in a season your family should be running...

 

Girl, I challenge you to start picking up speed because there will come a day when our race is over or when you cannot continue and I pray there is someone who is starting to pick up speed to continue the race as you fade out. 

Let us not be women who valued an easy life over a messy and poured-out-for-Christ life. 

Let us not carry our kids crosses and shield them from the good works they can do in this world. 

Let us instead show them what it looks like to love and to fear God in this world and appropriately let them carry their own cross all while teaching them that we are in the palm of God’s hands anyway.

 

 

I am so excited to walk with you and help you find your grit while completely covering you in grace.

 Follow me on Instagram at legacy_through_motherhood and Facebook for daily encouragement!

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About the author, Stephanie

My name is Stephanie and I am a mom of 4 boys (ages 8, 6, 5, 2 + one on the way). My husband, Justin, and I met when I was 16 years old and have been together for 16 years now. We are also foster parents so we welcome the chaos! I have been a Special Education teacher for 7 years and still love to teach but I have chosen to pivot and focus on raising my boys and pouring my heart into this business now!

I'm so honored you are here and I promise to serve you by being prepared and present during this process together of learning to leave the legacy we want to leave through our motherhood.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9

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