Rebecca Duvall

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Parenting Adults

parenting-adultsA few years ago my oldest child graduated from High School and I entered into a new season of parenting. I don’t know about others who have already entered into this season, but I think this is the most challenging season in regards to parenting.

What do you do when your adult child says “I’m thinking about having sex with ___ (her boyfriend) and I want your opinion.”?  Did your mouth just hit the floor? Well that’s what mine did. As I took a deep breath and quietly prayed for God’s words, I calmly began asking questions, listening and giving her my honest thoughts and why I thought that way. At one point she asked me to leave God out of it, which I told her I didn’t know how to do that. I could tell she was seeking my approval, which I couldn’t give. I did make sure she understood it was her decision to make, not mine. She was the one who had to live with the consequences of her actions, not me. I also made sure she knew I would always love and respect her  regardless of what she decided to do. I may not agree with her choices, but I will never stop being there for her. I thanked her for coming to me and told her how proud I was of her.

When I first became a parent, and with each child I had, I was instantly expected to do everything for this little fragile person, because they couldn’t. I dressed them, feed them, helped them with their bathroom situations, entertained and educated them. I took them where they needed to go and supplied them with everything they needed. I even spoke for them.

As they grew and matured they slowly starting doing things for themselves. They even started to speak for themselves. Not long after this, they began telling me what they needed, when they needed it and why they needed it. As they continued to grow, these needs changed, often, without notice.

With each child, I have three, I noticed that their needs were different and their expectations of how these needs were to be met was different. For example, one was perfectly fine with what was served for dinner but preferred to eat later when it was more convenient for them. The other was fine with eating whenever dinner was ready, but they wanted to have a say about what they ate, because they might not be in the mood for what was being served. The other had no opinion of the time they ate or what they ate, as long as we never forgot to feed them.

With each child, I am always expected to have the answer, no matter what the question. If for some bizarre reason I don’t have the answer they need, I am expected to get it, right away.

Being a parent is an absolutely crazy, beautiful, insane yet fulfilling job. There’s always something to be done or needed. I’m running around, both physically and mentally, twenty-four hours a day. Each day I have no idea what to expect. There is basically no way to prepare for what may come, except believing whatever does come, you will get through it, some how.

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Then, before you know it, the child is an adult. They don’t need you to get them anything, help with anything, take them anywhere, think for them or even speak for them. All they want is for you to let them be.

How do you go from speeding down the runway with them to sitting back in the bleachers watching them in, what seems like, the blink of an eye?

I wish someone had told me, when I had my first child, the importance of letting them grow up. By grow up, I mean, do and think for themselves. I thought being a parent meant taking care of, which in my mind means providing for or doing things for. Now that I look back, it seems obvious that we are to help them so they can eventually do things for themselves. But when in the midst of day-to-day life, it’s easy to get caught up in the doing and simply telling, not giving them an actual chance to try. Then some day we suddenly expect them to know how, by only watching and hearing, not doing.

Once your child has grown up and is no longer in need of your daily assistance, what do you do? This doesn’t change the fact that you are, and always will be, their parent.

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I do a lot of listening. I offer encouragement. I offer advice when asked for. Sometimes I do offer advice when it’s not asked for, but carefully listen for their reaction. When I do give advice, I try my best to explain my reasoning. I don’t want them to feel I’m pushing my ideas onto them. My desire is for them to make a decision that best fits them, not me. Then I try, if possible, to support them.

I pray a lot and seek the prayers of others when things get overwhelming. Giving my concerns and lifting my hearts desires for my children to God brings me peace and helps me let go. My worries only get in the way of my relationship with my children, so I give them to God and trust He knows how best to deal with them.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. ~ Matthew 6:34

For me, the hardest part about parenting an adult is watching them fall flat on their face. Especially when you see it coming. As hard as it is, sometimes watching them fall is the best thing we can do for them. It helps them mature in many ways. Being there to encourage them as they pick themselves up is a great way to support them.

Once our children become adults, our job is no longer to tell them what to do. They are now adults and we need to love and respect them and their decisions. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with them. We are to treat them the same way we would treat any other adult.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

I don’t think being the parent of an adult gives us the right to tell them what to do or the right to have extra expectations of them; although the temptation is always there. I think it gives us the added responsibility to love, respect and encourage them. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time acting like an adult myself, so I seek God’s wisdom and encouragement when it comes to parenting quite often.

As a parent, we always have eyes watching and learning by our example, no matter what our children’s age.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be our example. I pray Your wisdom and patience would help us be the parents you created us to be. May we teach our children about You and Your love for them, Amen.

Teachers

27 teachersI’m thankful for those who teach. I’m thankful for those who teach children in preschool all the way up to college. They dedicate their lives to helping others better themselves. They are encouragers and motivators. When we struggle with understanding, they remind us we can do it. They are creative and inspiring. When the typical way of learning doesn’t work for us, they come up with new exciting ways to teach.

As things change, they continue to improve their teaching skills to better teach others. They seek to continue their education so their students are being taught the latest and greatest. Teachers can have an amazing impact on our lives, if we let them pour out their knowledge without resistance.

I’m thankful for the patience of a teacher and how they go above and beyond to help us understand what they are teaching. They give of their time, talents and money to better those put in their care as a student.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;” ~ Romans 12:6-7

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for those you enable with the ability to pass on wisdom and knowledge. I pray we would always treat them with respect and show our gratitude for the ways they are teaching us, Amen.

 

 

Children

4 parentingWhile I was growing up, I always thought kids younger than me were weird, gross and had a funny odor. This stuck with me as I became a young adult. I was never the one to offer to hold a baby, and if you asked me to, I would look at you as if you were crazy, as I said ‘No’. I didn’t even want to be near a baby, or anyone much younger than me. I just couldn’t relate.

The first fulltime job I had while I was studying Accounting was as a Bookkeeper for a daycare center. I thought, ‘no big deal, I’ll be back in an office. I won’t even notice the little smelly people with runny noses’. That didn’t work out very well for me. You see, my desk was in the front lobby so the parents could check in with me as they dropped their kids off. I was able to see every screaming kid as they walked in. Lucky me!

For the first month or so I didn’t seem to notice the little monsters as they arrived. I was busy learning the routine of my job and putting names to faces, parent’s faces that is. I had no desire to get to know the strange little people being carried in.

4 Mat 19-14

Then it happened. One of the little monsters walked over and handed me something. My heart melted! I don’t remember what I was handed, probably because I was hypnotized by the adorable little voice. In that moment my heart changed. I suddenly had a strong desire to know more about the little people who spent their days there with me. After that day, you could always find me on my breaks in the toddler room. Actually, I think I spent more time in that room than at my desk.

I’m thankful God changed my heart toward children. I’m thankful God gave me the gift of three beautiful children (2 daughters and 1 son). I love how each of my children are completely different from each other and I get to be at center stage watching them grow and change as they experience life. They each help me see the world in different ways and I am incredibly thankful for that.

Sure, there are some extremely difficult things to go through as a parent, but the joy, laughter and fun far out ways those times. I simply need to trust that God gave me these 3 to raise because I have what they need. I also need to remember that God will enable me to be what they need when they need it.

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My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of children and the way You allow us to teach them. I pray we would courageously raise them in a way pleasing and honoring to You, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

I Know!

candy basketFor those of you who have children, I’m sure you will agree with me in saying that each of them is different in many ways. We have three kids. Our oldest daughter is in her Sophomore year in college and our younger daughter is a Sophomore in High School. We also have a son, who’s in 6th grade.

One loves chocolate, another sour gummy candy and the other any kind of candy. One is extremely active, while the other two, well, not so much. They each do very well in school, not that they always enjoy it, but they do work hard and take pride in their work. However, they each enjoy different subjects. Two of them are very creative and two of them are very good with a computer. One likes to read and another prefers to write. The other, well, they prefer neither.

The one commonality I’ve noticed all three of them have is their psychic ability. Yes, my children are psychic! How do I know they’re psychic? Every time I tell them something to do, like empty the trash, come down for dinner, brush your teeth, their answer is ALWAYS ‘I know!’

I think this psychic ability is fairly new. They might have received these abilities sometime this school year. At first it was annoying to always hear ‘I know!’ My response was always ‘Then why are you not doing it?’ Now I think it’s kind of funny. Recently I started saying things like ‘hon, call the press, our kids are psychic.’ Or ‘shhhh, don’t let anyone find out you kids are psychic.’

Sometimes I just stand in their doorway or open the door to their room and they’ll say it, ‘I know!’ I usually laugh first and then walk away asking them when they planned on getting it done.

When I first noticed their psychic ability, I thought it would be neat to know what was going to happen before it actually happened. Then, as I thought about it, it would mean I would always be expected to be doing something. The something I knew that needed to get done. Always knowing what was going to happen would also take the excitement out of waiting to find out. Yes, sometimes waiting is annoying, but usually, it’s stimulating. I think it causes your creative mind to explore the many possibilities, and that helps us grow. Exploring possibilities is healthy and it stimulates our senses.

Now that I know my children are psychic, the trick is getting them to act on this new wonderful knowledge they have. How do I get them to actually get up and do what they know they need to do?!

After I noticed my children’s response to most of the things I asked them to do was ‘I know!’ I wondered why this was their response. Maybe what I’m doing is nagging them to do the things they need to do. Maybe, I need to back off and give them time to show me they do indeed know, and will do it, in their time. They each have their own way of doing things and organizing their tasks. Maybe I need to let them be the individuals they are.

I run the house a certain way and in a certain order. It’s difficult, at times, for me to let them each become their own accountable individuals. I have to be flexible and learn to accept things being done differently. This is easier said than done. When something isn’t done when I want or need it to be done, I get frustrated and start nagging. I guess I need to work on my patience. Well, maybe just a little.

Everyday, being a parent is a new challenge. It’s always exciting (not always in a good way) and always changing (thank goodness, because I get bored easily). Each morning brings a brand new adventure with so many possibilities. As hard and frustrating as it can be at times, I wouldn’t trade it for anything or go back and do it differently.

I trust God gave us these three wonderfully crazy kids because my husband and I have what they need. He will enable us to do for our kids what they need us to do. We will not only teach them as we raise them into adulthood, but they will each teach us along the way as well.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of children and their honest way of interpreting the world around them. Lord, I pray you open our hearts to receive the knowledge you have given them and help us to respond to it in a way that is pleasing to You, Amen.

 

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Challenging Our Youth

servants heartNow that my son, Michael, is in the sixth grade he has moved from the Children’s Ministry at church to the Student Ministry. He’s participated in the Children’s program since 1st grade, so he’s become very comfortable with what to expect. He was looking forward to moving up with the ‘big kids’ but nervous at the same time. The new unknown can make anyone feel anxious.

He’s now been to a few Sunday night youth group meetings. The first one he insisted I walk him up. Now he gets out and runs up the second the car stops. I barely have time to tell him to have fun.

Once a month the youth participate in helping out at a local soup kitchen. The adults cook, the youth help prepare the food, set up and serve. Both of my daughters have helped at the soup kitchen, but it wasn’t cool to be seen with mom, so I didn’t get to go. Fortunately, Michael still enjoys my company and help, so he let me go too.

Every Sunday afternoon a different group shows up to prepare, serve and clean up. I think they serve about 200 each Sunday. There’s a lot to get done in a short amount of time, but it always gets done. The meal prepared always depends on what food has been donated that week. It’s pretty awesome to see the adults and youth working side by side to serve.

This particular Sunday, which was Michael’s first experience with the soup kitchen, the Student Director decided to challenge the students. Usually, the students take turns serving during the two hours while people are coming in to eat. This time, when not serving, they were asked to sit at a table, without other friends, and be a servant to those at the table. You could tell they were all nervous and trying to wrap their heads around what being a servant was suppose to look like. Many of them had questions, wanting to know what exactly they were suppose to do.

The greatest among you shall be your servant ~ Matthew 23:11

At first I didn’t realize what they had been challenged to do, because the Youth Director had taken them outside to go over the plan for the afternoon and I was helping in the kitchen. Then as soon as the students came back inside, Michael made a beeline for me and asked if I would sit at a table with him. Of course I said yes, but I hadn’t heard about the challenge yet. I figured it out quickly though, because everyone was talking about it and making a plan of action. It didn’t sound like the adults were a part of this plan, so I checked in with one of the leaders who confirmed this. The adults either worked on cleaning and putting things away or supervised the students while they served.

Michael had a look of panic on his face when he realized I would not be there to help him and he was going to be on his own. I immediately reassured him of his ability to serve those who were coming. I also let him know how confident I was he would do a great job.

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It was time for everyone to take his or her place. I went back into the kitchen. I thought it would be best to be out of sight so he wouldn’t be tempted to look to me for guidance. I knew he was capable of meeting this challenge and didn’t want to be a distraction. It was so hard though. I wanted to watch and cheer him on.

A couple of times I did peek out to see how things were going. Once I saw him getting drinks for those at his table and another time he was taking a turn serving those in line for food. Then a little later, I took a break from cleaning in the kitchen and went out to watch the flow of things. This was my first time there, so I wanted to see everyone in action. I did a scan of the room looking for Michael. I found him sitting at a table talking with the other people there. I smiled as my eyes quickly began to tear up. My ‘little man’ had conquered the fear of the unknown and met the challenge. I was so proud of him, and all of the other students there. They were being the hands and feet of Christ, serving those with less than them.

For even the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ~ Mark 10:45

I was impressed how the Student Director challenged the students. From what I saw, he encouraged and motivated them and then stepped back so they could step outside of their comfort zone. I was also impressed by the students and their willingness to step out and try something new. They trusted someone would be there if they got in a tough situation and then went full speed ahead. They embraced the challenge and once they realized how easy it was to be a servant to someone, I think most of them enjoyed it. I know Michael did.

I think we need to challenge our youth more often. I believe they’re braver, stronger and smarter than we give them credit for. I think they’re capable of more than we expect of them. Why don’t we expect more from our youth? Maybe because then more would be expected of us. We would need, should want, to be the example for them to follow.

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. ~ Ephesians 6:7

Where has God challenged you? Have you taken the step of faith and accepted the challenge or are you waiting for God to challenge you to do something you’re more comfortable doing?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the youth and their willingness to step out in faith and the example they are to the adults around them. Lord I pray you give us the heart of a child, so we wont be held back by fear to serve others, Amen.

Child Like Love

VBS Weird AnimalsI had the pleasure of spending each morning last week with over 140 kids. It was a week filled with laughter, sharing, singing, dancing and love. Love for God. It was VBS (Vacation Bible School) week at our church.  It was an amazing site, hearing and seeing all the children singing, dancing and celebrating the love of God!

The theme this year was weird animals and the theme song was All Around the World. I think I fit in perfectly, because I consider myself to be quite weird at times. Actually, we are all a little weird at times. Right? But I think that’s a wonderful thing. It helps keep things from being boring and dull.

Weird can be such a harsh word sometimes though. Maybe a better word to use would be silly, creative, fun, spontaneous or different. I always thought that if you were weird or different you were unwanted by people. Through my childhood and most of my adulthood I thought you had to fit in with everyone else. Being different meant you weren’t included because it made others feel uncomfortable.

Each day of VBS last week the message reminded us that Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us even though we’re different, when we’re left out, when we’re afraid and even when we do something wrong. This is such a beautiful message to be teaching the kids, or anyone.

Ephesians 2:10

My favorite day of the week was Friday, because I got to hang out at the snack station, yum, where each group talked about their God sightings for the day. I was able to hear how God revealed Himself to the children. It was so encouraging to hear their child like love for God. Some saw God in the parents who were there to help or the beautiful flowers growing outside. Others witnessed God when a friend helped out another friend. One child witnessed God by hearing someone say ‘Thank you’.

As an adult, I sometimes have a difficult time seeing God in what I do, like laundry, chauffeuring my kids around, paying bills or vacuuming. I wish I had child like love for God like the children of VBS, so I can see God in everything I do. I believe God is there with me always, but sometimes I have a hard time seeing or sensing His presence. I get distracted by the chores of the day, and I forget I am exactly where God wants, doing exactly what He wishes. If by chance I have strayed from the path, and have chosen the wrong task, God still loves me, and has His hand out waiting for me to look to Him so He can guide me back to the path meant for me.

Do you feel like you’ve strayed from the path God has for you? Did you know that it’s never to late to get back to the path God has planned for you? God loves you and wants only what’s best for you. Are you feeling lost or confused about what you’re doing in your life? I know I often do. To help get me back to where I’m meant to be, I spend time alone with God. I explain to Him how I’m feeling and ask for guidance and/or reassurance. Doing this causes my eyes to open to the ‘God sightings’ around me. God is everywhere and always directing us, but we need to make sure we can see, hear and feel this guidance.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for child like love. I pray for the adults of the world to have the heart of a child, who’s loving, slow to judge and quick to forgive, Amen

 

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