Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From "Parents of Teens" to "One Foot In", and beyond - it's a short trip!

POTs and POGs eating together before our discussion
Sunday evening my POGs small group met in joint session with the POTs small group that shares our 5:30-7:30 time-slot.

POTs - in explanation for those who don't know - stands for Parents of Teens. Rebekah and I started POTs as a support and encouragement group when we first came to Brandon over 14 years ago. Essentially, we guarded our mutual sanity, prayed together, and held one-another accountable as we negotiated the long decade of teen-dom. We met at one end of the church while the youth met at the other.

Eventually we noticed that our teens had become young-adults. So we recruited new leaders for the POTs group and started Parents of Grads. Before long we'll be running a dynamic OFI ministry (One Foot In) from our rocking chairs, and then it'll be our highly popular ASW* class via video up-link from the nursing home (* try to figure it out, I'll spell out the definition after my signature!)

Back to Sunday.... Anyway, the reason we met together this weekend was fourfold:
  1. To help the current crop of POTs realize that they are not alone
  2. To share some of our own stories of hope and redemption from recent history
  3. To field a few questions and concerns
  4. To reassure the younger parents that we all struggle, constantly, and that the point of faith is not a free pass from trouble, but the presence of God on the journey. 
Our time passed quickly - it always does, because there is so much to share. There were 30 of us in a big circle, and as I looked around the room I realized how much we had all been through together, and how overwhelming the task of raising a family seems at times.

As the clock started to run down I threw out one final question. What - for you as a parent - is indispensable? Here are just a few of the responses:
  • "Your children have to know that you love them. You have to tell them, every day, no matter what." 
  • "Family time is critical. And I don't mean racing around in the car together to some game or event. Our decision to eat dinner together (no television), as a family, 4-5 times a week, paid off big time."
  • "The marriage comes first. The best gift we can give our children is a mom and dad who are crazy about one another."
  • "In a similar vein, we need to be the kind of rock the children can tie up to. We have to be solid first."
  • "Pray for your children every day. Sometimes we'd go into their rooms after they fell asleep, put a hand on their head, and pray for them. Even when they were 16, 17, 18 years old.... Especially when they were 16, 17, 18 years old."
  • "It sounds corny, but GO TO CHURCH. The decision to worship with our faith community - every week - as a family commitment, faithfully, even when we didn't really feel like it, was one of the best decisions we have ever made."
  • "Never give up. Hold the course. Always believe."
A common thread in all the encouragement boiled down to two words. The first word was "decision". We're grown ups now, and most of what works for us - especially as parents - has to be conceived and implemented in the decision realm; just do it. The other word is "faith". Not just having faith but being faithful. Hmmm, another decision-oriented concept... how about that?

Peace and blessings - DEREK

* In case you're still wondering, the "ASW" class we'll be running from that nursing home in the not-too-distant future stands for "All She Wrote"............. 

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