I am beginning on Monday to finish with the kids school year in our Cincinnati home. I was starting to notice that Sami was pronouncing her “H’s” like “Haychis” (phonetically, of course) because of living in Jos. Cute, but I am excited for her to pronounce them the way I was raised to pronounce them. That is a minor example of what we are constantly working through raising them to be "third culture kids".
We JUST don’t like change, do we? (I am sure by now, you all are tired of me talking about transition… I cannot help it, it is the reality of where I am… and what if we stay this way FOREVER!!! Okay, I am getting ahead of myself… Where was I?) We tend to resist anything that pushes, prods or pulls us from a place of the comfortable recognized to the uncomfortable unknown. My mind was drawn to the present struggles of our present state of transition. We are used to being the foreigners (that is the majority of my kids life), not the stay at home Americans.
One of the reasons this transition has been more challenging is that we are being allowed to stay in friend’s home’s for a bit… someone else’s home, someone else’s furniture, someone else’s circle of life. I’m not trying to complain, for we are so thankful for both of these provisions, yet this is our reality. So it feels like home, but it isn’t quite… Without a doubt, it is emotionally harder to move back and forth with secondary school children ~ tweens. They’d just found where they belonged and we uproot them to return to a place that isn’t what they left before. So, they are back to figuring out where they belong once again when they’d anticipated coming "home." But people leave; others grow, looking and sounding different; still others change and have new priorities or a different direction – nothing remains static and so it just isn’t the same.
As I’ve pondered and prayed – then realized that I should first pray and then ponder: How are we to shepherd our children through this time, the Holy Spirit brought my thoughts to perhaps the most well known words in the Bible about what it looks like to be a good shepherd.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
Psalm 23:1 (NLT)
When God blessed us with children, He gave us the privilege of becoming shepherds… one more way we can learn to imitate our God and our Savior. So I read these words, words first stamped onto my heart over 20 years ago, gentle words reminding me how the Good Shepherd cares for me and see a very practical example of how I can shepherd my children.
I came across another blog site that helped me put some of my “overwhelmed thoughts” into more practical steps to consider:
“· I can let them rest, making sure our home is a place of security, fun and respite from the stresses in their worlds all around them.
· I can lead – with my words, my actions, my attitudes, my life. Do I approach the challenges with a gentle spirit, accepting and welcoming God’s sovereignty and excited to see what He will do because I know He will work?
· I can renew: revamping harried schedules, repairing wrong attitudes and beliefs, restoring tired hearts, making good on promises and things I’ve said, renovating to salvage the bad and hard days.
· I can guide, showing them again and again that we run to Jesus with our celebrations, challenges and sorrows.
· I can protect through disciplining, both myself and my children as necessary.
· I can comfort, often just by caring about the hard, seemingly little things.
· I can prepare a feast… healthy, nutritious snacks and meals that I know will delight my family… and that time of preparation is a wonderful time to pray for them… or to encourage them to work alongside me and share about/pray through their days.
· I can honor them: respecting their feelings, attitudes and perceptions even when they need repair, admiring their accomplishments and the person God is growing them to be, giving credit where credit is due, protecting their reputations, remembering that they, too, are heirs of the King.
· I can pursue them with goodness and unfailing love, whose source is, of course, the Good Shepherd.”
Good stuff, huh? Sounds easy, right? Hah, I think that is why I like that first verse of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.”
I guess that is my take home. I might mess up and not do what I should be doing to care for them, but I can come back to the idea that Jesus is all that I need. I can trust that in following the example of my Shepherd, He will open the eyes of my children so that they see their cup, too, overflowing with blessings from heaven.
I know this one was long! Thanks for staying with me.