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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is This Fair to My Kids?

Yesterday, thanks to a precious friend's willingness to babysit my crazy crew, Dan and I took our biggest girl out to breakfast for her 8th birthday, all by herself. It was a truly blessed time for just the three of us:

I honestly cannot remember the last time that Dan and I both went somewhere with Madeline, alone. The last time she had both her Daddy and her Mommy all to herself was probably years ago. These days, those precious moments are few and far between.

Our family has grown and changed by leaps and bounds over the last two years. As our oldest, Madeline has felt the impact of those changes more than any of our other children.

Two years ago, Madeline was just an average kid in Atlanta. She attended kindergarten at a private school. She had a little brother and a baby sister on the way. During the day, she and Davis basically had my complete and undivided attention.

Today, Madeline shares me with four other siblings and an Africa-based ministry. Instead of private school, we’re homeschooling. During the day, I often need her help with the younger children. It's not that life is bad. In a lot of ways it's really good -- but it is different.

I’ve encountered many people over the last few years who have shied away from making the hard, tough choices for their families, because they worry about what those decisions “might do” to their children. They feel a nudge to adopt or go into full time ministry or serve on an overseas mission trip – but they don’t. Because you know…the kids.

I should know -- my kids used to be my own excuse. I used to struggle and stress and convince myself that we couldn’t take any real risks for the Kingdom and I couldn’t dedicate any real time to ministry work (certainly not something outrageous, like spending an entire week in Africa at a time!) – without stopping to consider that these things might actually be good for my children.

So back to Madeline.

I don't know if the changes Madeline has experienced over the last two years are “fair.” But the Bible doesn’t promise us fair. At least not according to our idea of what fair should be. We’re also not promised easy, safe or comfortable.

What we are promised is this: A life spent pursuing Christ and His plans for your family will be a life well spent. That's the legacy I want for my children. I want it far more than their comfort, their leisure time, their extra-curricular activities and their academic success.

Dan and I have purposed not to go through life protecting our children from the wrong things. We won’t arrange their lives in a way that prevent them from practicing humility, patience, love and service – as a lifestyle, and not as a “once in a while” thing. We won’t shelter them from knowing the depths of injustice and despair in this broken world. And we won’t shield them from growing a desire to get up and do something about it.

I could teach my children these truths by saying them over and over. Or by pointing them to certain pages in the Bible. Or by sending them to Sunday school every week… Or I could just provide them with opportunities to live it out.

"While it may break the heart of a wise parent, they realize that it is not love to shelter a child from every adversity and all hardship. It is through occasional adversity and the winds of life blowing against us that we develop the muscles to stand strong and steady, gaining our moral balance. "

-- Katherine Walden, I Lift My Eyes Ministries


Shannon Evans said...

loved it, Shelly. thanks. blessings on Madeline!

We Are Family said...

I love this!
And Happy Birthday pretty girl!

Lara said...

Amen. I've seen bigger developments in the character of my eldest child since A's homecoming than I ever would've imagined. It's hard for him in a very, very good way. Kids weren't meant to be coddled

Julie said...

Great post Shelly!

Chasity said...

Amen! Love ya, as always!

Christy said...

I think that's one of the biggest things American children need to learn - that life is not all about them. She is going to stand out from the crowds in amazing ways as an adult because of what you are doing. And I have to say, from meeting her, that she seems quite the leader and mature little girl who is ready to take on a challenge all because of you guys!

love said...

i love you.

the end.

Anonymous said...

Amen!!!!!!!! Those things did not hurt my son, and he is now 27 years old.........
To all of you I say Happy Thanksgiving.......

Naomi said...

I could not agree more! I know the enemy is right there to whisper those lies to us daily but a quick look into the eyes of Jesus and we know we are in His will!

Lorri said...

Thank you for this perspective. As someone who is just on the beginning end of things, it's good to read this and the other comments.

Sophie said...

well said sister! You are one wise lady!

Anonymous said...

powerful. well wrote. we are number 11 on the waitlist. our homestudy is wrote for two children, but our agency and orphange are telling us we won't be able to adopt two children unless they are biological, and unfortunately, bio sibs aren't come by too often in our orphanage. we wait. we are relying on God and praying that He will provide two bio sibs to be apart of our family. your post is a blessing. i needed this. i'm so worried about our simple little life. how all this will/what it will do to our little boys. . .but just like you wrote. we are living it out! To God Be The Glory. You are precious. I can't wait to meet you at Created 4 Care, and I would love to do ministry work in Uganda before our children (crossing my fingers and praying God has children waiting, instead of one) are living with us in the place we will be staying. Anyways. Happy Thanksgiving. Again, this is a blessing of a post. jessicaleighblog.blogspot.com

Katie said...

Hello, I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now. I really enjoy it and I'm challenged by it.
Today your blog reminded me of something I heard years ago..."Hard is good. Easy rots the soul."
It sure doesn't sound pretty, but I find that in my own life it has been true.
Thank you for making the time to write about your life and ministry.