Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. (Psalm 127:3-4)
Raising children is a huge undertaking. Guiding one, two, three or more offspring from birth to independence is a commitment that completely defines life for parents, and it can last anywhere from two to three decades or more.
But then – just like that – they’re gone, and the challenge shifts from “How do we equip our children to do well on their own?” to, “How can we stay connected in meaningful ways?”
GOOD FOOD & GREAT CONVERSATION: Well, one answer is to talk about them at a dinner out that they paid for! Seriously; no kidding. One of the best things Rebekah and I did as parents was to teach Andrew and Naomi the joy of being generous. It’s a lesson they learned well.
So for my birthday this year, Andrew, Naomi, and Craig teamed up to get me not one but two gift cards for my favorite restaurants. On my actual birthday Rebekah and I went to Carrabba’s on the kids. Then yesterday evening we enjoyed amazing food at Bonefish Grill, once again, “Thanks” to the young people.
Of course we did more than talk about the children. I kind of stood outside of ourselves and observed some of the conversation and it was fascinating. “I wonder,” I said to Rebekah at one point, “if other people have dinner conversations like this. I sure hope so.”
“The Tea Room”
PRAYER: It actually started when Rebekah arrived home from work. We’d both been involved in some fairly deep interactions with people in crisis during the afternoon, so I made us a cup of tea and we sat down in “the tea room” to debrief.
We ended up focusing on the spiritual resources we had utilized in our respective work situations, and our own dialogue ended up turning on the same truths. God was very much a partner in our conversation and it overflowed into our car ride to Bonefish and our talk about our children over dinner.
We only prayed, formally, during grace, but God was such an intimate participant in the evening that we were, in a sense, engaged in “prayer without ceasing.”
FAMILY DEVOTIONS: What happened reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend last week about family devotions. “Do you and Rebekah have a regular devotional time together? We’re planning on starting, once a week.”
Here’s how I responded (it was email, so this is exact): Regarding devotional time. We’re informal. We have our formal devotional times alone, but we often tend to talk about the devotional experience together, later. Which makes the reflection together an informal devotional experience. That makes me think that, for a once a week devotion, you could both take notes during the week and then “report back” to one-another for your time together. Kind of a “This is what God has been up to with me,” conversation. Hmmm.. I like it!
our awesome children, Jan 2013
NATURAL: What I’m saying is that it’s probably a mistake to get all formal and preachy. Instead, consider scheduling a time where you share “What God has been up to with me,” with one-another.
Make the God-conversation the most natural thing in the world. When you do that, you’re already praying together.
So, no, the kids aren’t really “off and gone.” Andrew – and Alicia, and Naomi – and Craig, are also our brothers and sisters in faith. We pray for them every day…
… And even more often when they take us out to dinner!