A New Tradition

Fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago, when I was smack-dab in the middle of raising our three kids, I didn't look ahead to when I'd be 'done'. Not slowing down enough to catch my breath and come up with a game plan, instead I woke up too early with too little sleep under my belt, and slid into the day. Hoped to make it through, and maybe, just maybe we'd get something of eternal consequence done. If not, then my second goal was to keep everyone alive.

Sometimes that involved keeping a few feet between us all. There are rumors of a frazzled mother, on her way to church with them in tow, rolling down the car window and throwing out a Bible, screeching that she hoped somebody who wouldn't fight over it would find it. I can't say for sure.

I did have the sense to pray for them when they were little; that they'd keep breathing and not be snatched away off the busy street we lived on - where truckers zoomed by every day; that they'd be healthy, not stray off the path I wanted them to be on (and I was convinced God agreed). I prayed they'd have friends, do well in school, make good choices, graduate in good form. They'd find a career path, and meet someone to spend their life with, have healthy kids, and so on and so on and so on. I literally prayed for their future spouses from when they were about two years old since I figured it was likely their spouse was alive and growing up in a family somewhere.

When they went away to college I prayed someone would hug them once in awhile; that professors would spark a fire, point directions, that roommates would help them learn how to live in a house with a spouse someday. That they'd be safe on highways and byways, learn to live within their budgets, and be safe in dark parking lots late at night.

Sure enough, they learned to get along, or part ways, with roommates. To plead cases to professors and traffic cops, make their money stretch when they'd spent the entire month's allowance at Walmart the first week on cute shower curtains with matching towels and rugs. They figured out career paths, even when it took more than one try and a few core classes that became electives. They stayed safe. We only ended up with one tiny body piercing and one holy tattoo. I've since grown up enough to realize how much I needed to grown up, thinking they were a big deal at the time. They all married the spouses we'd been praying for, who had indeed been born by the time they were out of diapers.

They've now got seven kids between them, and 32 years of marriage when you add it all up together; they've got careers and friends and loans and appliances and deadlines and overflowing toilets and too many diapers and reports of future braces and friends and moves and in-laws and all that a grown up life includes.

I don't have a clue why it didn't occur to me before - to routinely ask how I could best pray for them. I've been praying for them their entire lives and more than half of mine. Sometimes God gives me such a good idea, I have to wonder if He hasn't been suggesting it for awhile, and when I finally get it He shakes His holy head and says, 'mercy, but that took long enough!'

This past week I texted them each, separately, and asked how I could specifically pray for them and their family. Their spouses, their children, their appliances, their budgets and loans, their classes (one is still at it!). And I got the best replies back. I took those three replies and wrote them down on a sticky index card, stuck it in my Bible, and Monday morning, as I was driving into Dallas I spent the entire first hour praying for them. Specifically. All week long, as I've prayed for them, I've felt more connected to them, knowing what is on their hearts and their plates.

I'm probably not unusual in that none of my kids will ever be anything but that to me - my kid. Sometimes I look at my daughters, busy with the tasks of motherhood, or my son changing a diaper or wrestling on the floor with a little one, and I see them when they were small - ponytails and shirts untucked and teeth missing and wobbly bicycle wheels. How did it go so fast? How did they grow up? How is she not still that little girl running down the hill, heading for home? How is he not that little boy who still held hands with me in the mall?

Parenting adult 'children' has a learning curve. I don't always get it right, I'm not always fast on the uptake, but it has such rich rewards. The issues I prayed for twenty years ago - for a frog to jump back into a plastic swimming pool (God did it!), or a date for the prom, or a spanish test - they were issues that seemed monumental back then. Now they're all grown up and their issues have too. They have kids they're trying to keep alive, separated in minivans, safe from predators on the road, budgets that need stretching, and permanent roommates they said 'I do' to.

I'm feeling pretty privileged to still be bringing them to the One who provides all we need and then some. Linking up today with...


Becky said…
Wow! Sooooo beautiful! Love hearing this perspective. (I'm the mom of four teens)
Deidre said…
I could not love this post more! Even though I do pray for my girls (now 11 and 7), I need to ask them WHAT they need me to pray as well. Honestly, there are a few people I need to text right now and ask the same. Love this, Bev!
Lori said…
Bev, Thank you for your post! Even through our children are 11, 9 & 2.5 (bonus round!), my husband and I are already praying about being treasured blessings to our children (and their future spouses) in their adult years. I think I'll put together a notebook of wisdom from those who are ahead of me on the path, and your post will be the first item in it!
Hugs from Seattle :)
Momma said…
This is beautiful. I have no such relationship with my parents. It makes me sad, but I know my heavenly Father has our backs and perhaps in generations to come, this will be my family's story.
Bev said…
Momma, I heard Rosie O'Donnell say, years ago, 'the cycle stops with me.' She was referring to abuse, but it resonated with me. The generation of MY family can be the start of something new, as it can with yours. He does indeed 'have our backs'.
Kelly said…
OK, so I just needed this today so much. I'm sitting here laughing at the story of a Mom possibly tossing a Bible out the window, and crying at the same tale. I may have been a Mom yesterday who was completely fed up with selfishness in children and expressed it in more of a screech than a loving tone. Feeling the weight of self condemnation and so thankful for the reminder that we all sometimes lose it, even on Sunday:-)
I love this idea of specific prayer, and actually have noticed it is one way my 14 year old will open up to me, if I ask for her requests at our bedtime prayers, instead of pouring out my own for her.
As always, thanks for encouragement through your love of your kids. I always leave her feeling blessed and encouraged.

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