It is VERY rare that I can say, "I'm reading this book..." because let's face it, if it's NOT My Utmost for His Highest, my Bible, or the endless line of books in the girls' homeschool curriculum (I swear, right now I am reading out-loud like three hours a day about Pilgrims, Puritans, Indians, Ocean Life, Ancient Egypt, or Animals of Europe...I swear I never learned this stuff before)...then I'm not reading anything at all.
But a few weeks ago, just this tiny hint of something pre-teenish started to emerge in our home. Something about how I could never understand, because I was old, and that NO one understands, and then a whole lot of big feelings.
And then last week, hours of drama about never wanting to go to school again, because it is awful, and she is, and I quote with heartbreak, "the ugly white bird in a sea of beautiful brown pigeons", and all she ever wants to do is homeschool, because it is wonderful...and then LITERALLY five hours later (after school, during homeschool), the exact same passionate drama because she HATES homeschool and it's almost like true torture and it is SO boring and all she wants to do is go to school EVERY day with her FRIENDS.
It was getting a little roller coaster down here, a roller coaster I was quick to add my own roller-coaster parenting emotions to. And adding parental emotions to pre-pre-pre-teen emotions NEVER helps (in my grand two weeks of experience.)
I called my best friend and begged counsel, I played through millions of scenarios in my head, I drove Matt nuts (Matt is NOT a 'let's talk about ALL our feelings and concerns now that we're in bed and I'm exhausted' kind of a guy') and finally I got online and I read about 500 different parenting help books.
And there was one that everyone kept saying you couldn't afford NOT to read.
When Francis Chan said it was the most meaningful book he has read, I was sold.
And they were right. "Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family" by Paul David Tripp is the book I couldn't afford not to read. 8 years ago, 5 years ago, 1 year ago, and right this second.
Tripp doesn't care who I am and nobody gave me some discount to review this book (anybody else out there HATE how 99% of reviews on Amazon now finish with, 'I received a discount for my honest opinion'? Anybody?)
But it's exceptional.
Are you weary or worried today, and does it have something to do with you age 0-55 year old kids?
The whole basis of Parenting is that we tend to be ownership parents...raising up our kids the best we can, trying to get them to turn out the best we can. It's motivated by what we want for and from our children. It seems right, it feels right, and it does many good things, but it is foundationally misguided and misdirected and will not produce what God intends in the lives that he has entrusted to our care.
Children are God's possession, for His purpose. That means that his plan for parents is that we would be his agents, his ambassadors, in the lives of these ones that have been formed into his image and entrusted to our care.
The only thing an ambassador does is faithfully represent the message, methods, and character of the leader who has sent him. He is not free to think, speak, or act independently. Everything he does, every decision he makes, and every interaction he has must be shaped by this one question: "What is the will and plan of the one who sent me?"
Parenting is ambassadorial work from beginning to end.
So, I'm reading that...and it is not only overwhelming to me what a precious responsibility, but also, WHAT FREEDOM! Isn't being His ambassador, representing His message and methods and character, SO. MUCH. EASIER. than trying to come up with the right things and do the right things ourselves?
And we don't have to do it alone!! The mighty God that my precious fallen girlies belong to is ALIVE AND WELL IN ME! I am both the ambassador and the temple of He who has the plan for my children.
Your work as a parent is a thing of extreme value because God has designed that you would be a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in his hands for the purpose of creating God-conciousness and God-submission in your children.
God has opened your eyes to his presence and glory so you could help open the eyes of your children. So capture the opportunities around you to point to him. Don't let a day pass without doing it and don't feel that it's weird to talk about God all the time...your teenagers need this as much as the toddler does.
This is basically turning into me typing you this book. I'll stop.
If you're needing a fresh perspective, if parenthood has exhausted you and you're simply surviving, if you have ever dealt with 10% of the parenting guilt this perspective is actually freeing me from , if you're trying to raise good, Godly children and worry that you're missing something, if you're just totally clueless about what to do with this stage of parenting, if you know He's got something BETTER...please find this book.
It's also possible I'm already sending it to you.