Friday, June 7, 2013

An Arrow From Our Quiver

This week we took Cate to Dallas Baptist University to register for college.  Soon she’ll head off and transition into life as an adult, with all the challenges and responsibilities that brings.  Our parenting with her, while not over, now consists more of “finishing touches” than major overhauls.

If a daddy can brag on his daughter for a moment…Cate is an awesome young lady! She is beautiful, fun-loving, talented, smart and industrious.  Most of all, she seeks God with both discipline and heart-felt passion.

Sarah and I can’t claim credit for much of this.  She is gifted by the Lord and personally motivated to live as she does.  There are some priorities we set in our family early on, however, that we believe helped build a solid foundation for her to build a life upon.  We’ve not been perfect in these, by any means, but here are a few things we’ve prioritized.

1.  Family – before she ever knew about God, she felt loved and protected at home.  Once we had kids, Sarah stayed home, and I stayed available.  This didn’t happen easily or without sacrifice, but it did happen purposefully.  We decided we would share meals together around our kitchen table, not around the TV.  We limited media and prioritized reading.  No video game systems.  Our motto is:  “Walkers love each other,” (which is an especially great motto to have when you’re fighting and no one likes anyone else.)  Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are a huge source of wisdom and fun.

2.  Faith – We began praying for our kids before they were here.  We prayed for protection, for blessing, and for their future spouses.  We prayed with them at bedtime and at other times.  We’ve expressed our love for and reliance on God.

We prioritized church.  If we weren’t out on a major vacation or sick with something communicable, we were there.  We did this long before I was ever on a church staff, so it wasn't required.  Cate was often one of the only one of her friends at church after a Prom or homecoming event.  ("Yes you can stay out until two for this special occasion.  Be ready for church in the morning.")  We didn’t participate in or sign up for activities that would interfere with worship or Bible study. We didn’t do this with an attitude of legalism, but with the strong belief that her faith community should be central throughout her life, and shouldn’t ever fall behind birthday parties or dates, athletics or chores on the priority list.  How awesome it was to hear her considering her church home options this week as she prepares for college!

On a related note, she went to church camp.  Every year.  Sometimes twice.  She also made the occasional volleyball camp or cheer camp, but our ultimate goal wasn’t that she become a great cheerleader, and you have to pick your priorities.  We knew from experience that, similar to cheerleading, if 80% of the team goes to camp and you miss, you fall behind.  It’s hard to make that up.  Some church camps were great, and some less so, but every one was important.

There were other important faith steps, of course, such as mission trips and discipleship groups and learning to lead worship.  Through all of these, our hope has been that she would develop a heart for Christ, not just follow a list of do’s and don’ts.

3.  Leadership – In preparing her for life beyond our home, we’ve tried to instill keys to wise living that will serve her well in life.  How to have a firm handshake and look a person in the eyes when you’re speaking with them.  To say yes ma’am and no sir and please and thank you.  To have manners at the table.  To show interest in the other person and not dominate a conversation.  To work hard, save money, and give faithfully and generously.  To do your best in whatever you undertake.  To expect and wait for a boy who demonstrates respect and who follows Christ.  To help that boy out by demonstrating modesty (but being really cute too!)

Again, these have been our ideals.  We’ve fallen short as parents, and, despite what we’d all love to believe, there are no perfect kids.  As I shared with a group of younger couples in our Life Group last night, every child is different, every family has a distinct background, and unique circumstances will arise that present new challenges to the test of parenting.  Caroline and Cole are also awesome kids on a path to becoming responsible, mature Christ-followers, but our hope for them, as it is with Cate, comes from reliance on Christ, not on our parenting skills.

Psalm 127:3-4 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.

As we prepare to release the first “arrow from our quiver,” we pray she will find her mark in impacting the Kingdom of God, and build well upon the foundation of her faith.  Thank you to all who have worked alongside us from the nursery, through children’s ministry and student ministry to help shape and train her as a Godly young lady!

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