New Chapters of a Favorite Book

It’s been eight years since I wrote these words about our first one leaving the nest for college. It’s that time of year for many of you so I thought I’d drop these words here today. I’d LOVE to hear about your experience of leaving your son or daughter at college ~ leave a comment to share ❤

Original post August 31, 2010
It’s time to report that everything did not change on August 14, 2010.

If I felt everything changed the day she left for kindergarten, then surely everything really would change the day Courtney, our first born, left for college. The sadness I discovered when she climbed onto the bus for elementary school surely would not compare to the grief I would walk into as she left for college.

I remember the first time the new feelings hit me. It was the spring break of her junior year; she and I were at the college for a visit. The day was sunny and exciting, how fun it was to be doing this with her! My parents had not taken me on any college visits, so this was new territory and I felt so blessed to offer her this experience. Then I glanced at her walking beside me and my chest suddenly felt tight and slightly crushed. It came out of nowhere; my throat constricted, my eyes welled up and the first wave of a grief-like feeling crashed into me.

Those feelings hit at random times over the sixteen months, but waves came more frequently those last few weeks before the move. One day while on the patio by myself a big one hit out of nowhere, it  felt like my heart skipped a few beats and I had a sharp intake of breath, tears sprang to my eyes and I felt deep sadness wash over me. Not sure what to do with these new feelings, I intentionally spent little time thinking of the upcoming moving day. But the calendar kept moving toward it.

The day we moved Courtney was beautiful and the college had the whole freshman moving day thing figured out. There was an unmistakable air of excitement. We got almost everything up in one trip, laughed so hard as she and I tried to figure out how to make the lofted bed! Even as I helped, I tried to stand back as she figured out where to put her items in her tiny space (so hard for a mom who loves to organize). It came to be time for lunch, then we met her lovely roommate, went off for a Target run, back to the dorm for last touches and then the good-byes. She was excited, comfortable, and confident. She had dinner plans with Katie, her friend since second grade, and I was feeling stronger than expected.


Then her baby sister wrapped her arms around her neck and about broke in two. Oh, oh, oh, ohhhhh…tears sprang to my eyes. . .but unexpectedly grief stayed at bay. Her big 6’2″ little brother wrapped his arms around her – practically engulfing her. I felt such a pride swelling within me at these sibling relationships; we did it, we helped this trio cultivate strong love and deep bonds. And grief stayed at bay.

Even when her dad pulled her in for a hug I was okay. When I wrapped myself around her I just knew in my deepest parts that she would be fine. I was not saying good-bye, as I wiped tears I understood I was saying hello to this amazingly, wonderful young adult daughter of mine, and new chapters were about to unfold.

I credit God with granting me strength for those moments and the ones that followed. The drive home was quiet as Erin & Zach took in the new dynamic that would unfold at home as the three musketeers became the two amigos. It was good for me to be one who was strong and confident in the knowledge that we would all be not just okay, but indeed we would all be good.
To be sure…I miss her in this house. I miss her in my daily life.I wonder about her more times than I could count in a day. And in all of that, it’s still good. We parented toward this. She is making friends, being responsible, becoming independent. Everything did not change, but many things did and will. But it’s rather like discovering your favorite book didn’t end, there were many more chapters captured in volume two. . .and you just discovered volume two. . .and you can’t wait to see where the story goes.
(August 31, 2018…this one who blazed the trail graduated, got her first job and 401K. She moved to Naperville, IL and is currently living and working New Orleans, LA. Being a mom is an incredible adventure and we are more resilient, elastic and brave than we think we might be, so be encouraged moms (and dads) everywhere – we can do this!)

The Baby is at College and I’m on the Couch

Zach and Erin Aug 2015We took the baby to college.
The baby.
To college.

Curiously it was not as hard as I had expected. Maybe it was because I’ve done it twice before, or because she’s attending the university from which her sister just graduated, or because when it came down to goodbye she had a hard time, which propelled me into “strong” mode. Whatever the reason, I was caught off guard by the relative ease of the day and the absence of tears on the drive home.

Then ‘the day after’ happened and I was caught off guard again. The quiet of the house, the knowledge that she wouldn’t come bursting through the door with lots to talk about, the new reality that she wouldn’t snuggle up to me at the end of the day left me feeling empty.

Though the ‘To Do’ list is longer than ever with our move just around the corner, by mid afternoon I cleared my evening calendar and by six o’clock I was the couch with a blanket and pillow and stayed there until it was time to climb into my bed.

This sending to college causes emotional confusion. I’m over the moon to receive the texts that include “having a blast”, “happy!” & “making connections!” I’m so proud of her and confident she is ready, and believe it’s going to be a fantastic year. AND at the same time it’s difficult to take in the emptiness that weighs down my heart, the change is so abrupt. So for the second night I found myself climbing onto the couch, and sinking into the quiet and comfort it offers. My internal GPS is whispering that I’m off course and it’s trying to find it’s way. I suspect I am recalibrating to this new season, and the couch has offered a place to park and wait.

I read the article I was the sun, and the kids were my planets. Beverly Beckham described exactly what I am feeling. Exactly. If you have sent a child to college then read that article. Seriously. I felt less alone and less confused. I sent it to my husband, giving him the words I could not string together.

When I was first pregnant I spent incredible amounts of time on the couch, my body had a really hard time with the pregnancies, so when I read these lines — To grow a child, a body changes. It needs more sleep. It rejects food it used to like. It expands and it adapts. To let go of a child, a body changes, too. It sighs and it cries and it feels weightless and heavy at the same time.

When I read those words I understood; my body, that holds my mind, my soul and my heart needs a little recovery time. This is just part of the process. And it’s all going to be OK.

I find that each phase my kids enter becomes my favorite – I’m confident that is the direction I am heading.

We’ll get there, fellow momma’s traveling this road…we’ll get there.

Leaving Them at College

Zach college 6On August 31, 2014 we left Zach at college. Ten hours away. Lots of people do it every single year. Many of you have done it, survived, and are no worse for the wear.

I’m in process…

Zach - U of MThere are few circumstances in life in which we can so acutely feel opposite  feelings simultaneously; this is one of them. I could not be more excited for Zach. This is the university he has wanted to attend for so long, delivering him to this campus was exciting!

But then hugging him one last time Sunday morning was one of the hardest things I’d done in a very long time. Ten hours is a long way away.

Family Support :)
Family Support :)

When he stayed at home his freshman year and attended Indiana-Purdue University near home I had to get used to him suddenly being around some of the days – in my space. It was different after years of a quiet house while they all went to school, but I adjusted and we found a comfortable rhythm. Now it’s very quiet once more and I’m adjusting again. I’m confident I’ll be comfortable in short order, that’s not exactly the hard part. The hard part is waiting for him to feel comfortable and connected all those miles away. He will. I know he will. But this is the hard part.

Zach - family shotSo it’s both ~ happy and hard. When I feel sad, I promise you it’s not that I want him here, he was ready, prepared and eager for his next phase.  It’s just that launching your kids out of the nest leaves most of us feeling empty inside for a spell. My sister called the morning of Day 1, before she called I had assessed how I was doing and the verdict was well. The sun was shining (a guaranteed spirit lifter) and I was ready to move through the day, but then she asked how I was doing and I burst into tears. Oh my goodness, that took even me by surprise.

Courtney joined the road trip to Minnesota
Courtney joined the road trip to Minnesota

There does exist a bit of a grieving period. I will never again be in this particular mothering phase with this particular child ~ the door is closing. The little guy who needed so much from me his first four years, who endeared himself to me with his adorable voice, scuffed cowboy boots, blue eyes, white-blond hair, whose love of a night-time song in the rocking chair, and whose miniature hand disappeared in mine, well…he’s growing up and suddenly one day my hand felt small in his.

I do realize he’s been growing all along, but trekking 600 miles across the midwest caused it to hit me in a new way. There have been so many “lasts” along this mothering journey ~ and there are times you become keenly aware that you didn’t even notice many of them as they came to pass. When did the last tea party happen with his sisters? Where are those cowboy boots, and when was the last time he held my hand as we walked to get ice-cream?

U of M with Minneapolis Skyline
U of M with Minneapolis skyline

Happy and hard. When the hard part washes over me, I tell myself this is part of the process, so step in and feel it. The happy, content, and proud part exists underneath all of what I am experiencing. We invested much into raising future adults after all, not children, and he keeps taking the next steps in that process. This does my heart good.

Saying good-bye to Emma was hard too.
Saying good-bye to Emma was hard too.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11
May the Lord bless and keep you Zach.

When Your House is Under Your Dorm Room – A Different Perspective

Zach guest blogs today to tell his perspective of living at home while going to college ~

When I decided to stay home for my first year of college my parents worked hard to make sure that it didn’t feel like another year of high school. This took a lot of changing, but the main thing for me was realizing that I needed to accept both sides, that I was now a college student, but also living at home. So I knew that my freedoms would expand, but I also lived in my parent’s house.

The first thing was changing my room. I had originally decorated my room in elementary school, so it was ready to do some maturing. It was important to pack up all the small stuff that I wouldn’t have taken to college with me anyways, because I didn’t want to feel like I was living in the same environment that I had since I was a child. A new room allowed me to feel like I was actually transitioning from high school to college, even if it was the same room I had had since I was four.

Another important thing for me to do as a commuting student was to get involved at school. Although IPFW was not my first choice I knew I had to make the most of my time to make sure I didn’t have a bad experience. I made sure that I lifted in the weight room on campus, I joined the wrestling club, I played intramural flag football, and I attended each and every free food event provided by the school. Every one of them. Even if that meant being late to class. Free food is that important. This helped me to feel like I was a part of the college atmosphere, so that every minute not spent in the classroom wasn’t spent at home.

The rules around the house were good too. They allowed me to have even more freedom, with the understanding that I still lived at home. I was able to have friends over at any time; this helped for those night that I was up late studying, as well as those nights where I hosted Madden tournaments because class didn’t start until 11 on Thursdays. My parents allowed me to have the freedoms of being a college kid. There were nights where I told them that I didn’t know if I was going to come home or if I would spend the night at a friend’s house, and all they asked was that I let them know. There were nights where I was out longboarding with friends downtown until 3am without any questions about what I was doing, because there wouldn’t be if I went away to school. These were freedoms that I did truly enjoy, because I could feel like I was away at school, even if I still lived at home.

A few things didn’t go as planned, but they were things I had to adjust to because I was still living at home. There were days that I was asked to get up early to take Erin somewhere, and I knew that if I was off at school that wouldn’t have happened, so why did it now? But it was because I did still live at home, and I still had to contribute. Or where the “letting us know where you are going” turned into “please put your schedule on the calendar” and that wasn’t a problem, it just wasn’t what being away at school would be like, but then again, I didn’t go away to school.

Overall the year went really smoothly. I had a lot of fun, made a lot of new friends, and enjoyed living at home for one last year. It was a perfect transition phase, and that was because my parents were willing to change how they treated me so that I could truly feel like a college student.

Read the original post, When Their College Dorm Room is Upstairs…in Your House, here.

When Their College Dorm Room is Upstairs…in Your House

When our son, Zach,  turned down his first choice of universities to accept a scholarship from a college in town, I considered how to help him still have the college experience while still living at home…sleeping in the bedroom he had been sleeping in since he was four years old. Here is what I came up with to give him a little feel of dorm living while still living under our roof.

Zach's Room 2011

The first thing I suggested was that Zach go through his room and remove ANYTHING he would not have taken to college. That adorable picture of him and me when he was two – box it up. The dresser knickknacks accumulated over the years, and the books on the bookshelf from younger years – box those up too. I provided him a plastic tub so he didn’t have to get rid of anything, just box it up now and go through down the road.

We gave him some funds to purchase new bedding, and then we sent him to Lowes to pick out paint for his “dorm room”. We had him paint his own room – giving valuable experience in wall prep, taping, painting, cleaning brushes ~ as well cleaning paint from the carpet! He received a mini-fridge for graduation, so that came up from the basement storage area and went in his room as well – which he kept stocked all year with an abundance of chocolate milk, Gatorade, and Coke! He and I picked up a small corner desk to give him a study space. He decided he wanted his own TV, so off he went with some of his graduation money and purchased one. Slowly but surely the space was transformed, looking less like his old room and feeling a more like a dorm room.

Lastly his dad and I sat down one evening with Zach and went over the Dorm Perks & Rules. Here they are:

  • We offer free Wi-Fi!
  • We offer free printing!
  • Quiet hours after 11:00 PM on weekdays.
  • All friends are welcome to come over anytime – may have to work with your sister on reserving the basement.
  • You don’t have to ask us if you can go anywhere or do anything – but letting us know would be respectful.
  • When you come in late, come in quietly.
  • We are not a co-ed dorm  :)
  • We are an alcohol free dorm – except for the RA  :)
  • We are a drug-free dorm – no exceptions  :)
  • Unlike other dorms, we are open over winter, spring and summer break – you are welcome to stay over these breaks!
  • We do not have a healthcare facility on site, but we do offer free healthcare!
  • We will offer you a $20 weekly gas stipend – if you had gone away and lived on campus you would not have the added financial cost of driving to and from campus each day.
  • We offer an all inclusive meal plan, with options available 24 hours a day – totally free to you!
  • You will be expected to voluntarily contribute to a minimal level of house chores weekly. This includes bringing the garbage to the curb.
  • On occasion, (but not often) you will be expected to pick up or drop off your sister.
  • In the winter, you will be expected to sometimes help shovel snow.
  • We will expect you to communicate to us if we are not being respectful of your need to have study hours.

Most of this was tongue in cheek as you can see, but it seemed important to lay out what was in our heads so no one was guessing about what was expected. Since we had never done this before, we said we would schedule an assessment of the Perks & Rules in 6 to 8 weeks. Scheduling it was important so that if things weren’t going so well we already had a plan to address it, and if things were going well, it would be a quick meeting.

Zach’s freshman year has come to and end – I believe it went pretty well, but I have invited him to be a guest writer here on this topic later this week so you can hear his perspective as well. I am sure there are things he experienced that we could have done better, and because  I love sharing things that go well as well as learning through things that don’t go well, I have asked him to share openly and honestly.

I admit there were times I had to intentionally remind myself that he wouldn’t have to answer to us if he lived away at college, so I made efforts not to ask a lot of questions. I wasn’t concerned about him making crazy choices that were going to derail him so I tried to change my verbiage from ‘What time will you be home?’, to ‘Have fun!’ He had to experience more freedom if he was going to feel good about living here, so I had to shift what I expected of him.  It wasn’t natural to let go so swiftly, but it was important to the process so I worked at it.

Univeristy-of-MinnesotaDuring his freshman year, Zach applied for and was accepted into a program that has given him the opportunity to transfer (on that scholarship!) to his number one university. In 10 short days we will get in the car and drive him to his next dorm room – 10 hours away. I have a feeling I’ll have to intentionally work at a lot of new things very shortly.

Summer 2014
Summer 2014


The Hard, Good Choice

To understand the decision our 18-year-old son made, there needs to be a little background. All his life, Zach has loved Minnesota and has hopes of living there someday. He supports each of their professional sports teams, has purchased more jerseys than I could count, and early on knew he wanted to attend the University of Minnesota. Kevin and I were both born and raised in Minnesota, so this passion for our home state has been endearing to us.

He applied to several colleges but we all understood the University of Minnesota was his number one pick. When we went on our college visit he noticed, walked over to, introduced himself, and had a conversation with Rodney Williams, Maurice Walker and Andre Hollins, all Minnesota Gopher basketball players, whom he had just watched play in the NIT basketball tournament! The deal was sealed in his mind. This is where he wanted to spend four years, and thousands upon thousands of dollars…both ours and his.

He was beyond thrilled with this arrived:

But the boy is smart. He used his math skills to figure out how much tuition (out-of-state) would cost for four years. He then sat down with his dad and went over the college funds that will be available to him from the Bank of Mom and Dad (we’re actually less like a bank and more of a pre-loaded debit card – when it’s gone, it’s gone. And it won’t fully fund four years.)

One of the colleges he applied to, and was accepted at, was Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne, otherwise known as IPFW. As he began to look at the data he had gathered, he began to wonder about staying at home for 1-2 years to begin his college education in town at IPFW. The many saved dollars on the front end would allow him to transfer to the University of Minnesota and likely leave college debt free.

Then this arrived:

Yep. A scholarship from IPFW.

The boy is also wise. Simple math led to a difficult choice ~ the numbers were just too favorable for him to pass up. He had two goals, one to graduate from the University of Minnesota, the other to graduate debt free. So Zach accepted the scholarship from IPFW, got in touch with the University of Minnesota to make sure each class he registers for now will indeed transfer later. We went to orientation, he registered for classes, and he begins college in the morning. He made a hard, but good choice, but in the end it will pay off as he is on track to graduate both debt-free and from Minnesota.

I’m proud of you.
Love, Mom

Later this week I will write about how we helped him move into his dorm room – which happens to be upstairs in the room he has been sleeping in since he was four.

Crisis – I Lost My Phone!!

Guest Blogging today is my daughter Courtney. She sent this post to me months ago and it kept getting lost within my in-box…today it has been found. (The post, not the phone.)

On my first day back on campus for my junior year at Purdue, the unthinkable happened… I lost my phone. I had met up with a friend to catch up and drink some bubble tea by the clock tower, and at some point had received a text asking what I was doing later that night. I responded, set my phone down, finished up tea, and walked back to my apartment. Halfway back, I realized that the miniature computer I had only had since last October was not in my purse… or my pockets… and when I walked back to the bench we had been sitting on, I found that it wasn’t there either. I tried to text the friend I had been hanging out with, only to remember that was nearly impossible without a phone.

I traced my steps a few times and said a silent prayer of thanks that I already had dinner plans, so when I arrived at the restaurant I had my friends call my phone and leave a voicemail. “Wait… you need my password to get into my voicemail. WAIT… you need my tracer passcode to get into my phone.” I remotely installed apps for lost phones, set a screen telling anyone who found my phone to call my mom at her number, forced my phone to send me pictures and sound bytes of its location, tried to use GPS (the radius of its potential location was 1856 meters. Thanks, phone), and went on several recon missions until the battery’s inevitable death. For days after I frequented the campus’s lost and found locations and checked the activity online, but all my efforts were fruitless, and remained fruitless for the next two weeks, until I got a SIM card for my high school flip phone. But during those two long weeks, something crazy happened.

I survived the experience.

The thing I was most worried about was becoming a social recluse. How do you make plans without a phone? But I found something encouraging – when my friends wanted to see me or were making group plans, they made the effort to reach me on Facebook or texted the people they thought I would be with to make sure I was still getting included. After a two-day-long withdrawal period, it was even kind of nice not having a phone in my pocket all the time, and I found I was able to focus for longer periods of time on a single thing. The drawback was I did get a little Facebook addicted, but when I wasn’t around a computer that wasn’t really a problem.

Thanks to my incredible parents (who dealt with two weeks of intermittent online chatting, as my computer mic was also broken, taking Skype convos out of the picture) I do have a functioning phone now, and I would absolutely choose having a phone over not having a phone (just being honest). But it was nice to get a little taste of a life unwired; it allowed me to see that I didn’t need to be constantly connected, and the friendships I had were meaningful enough that my friends put a little bit of extra effort into including me. I do feel as though phones and iPads and all this social connecting all the time has driven us a little up the wall, and the confirmation that I could survive without it all was good, as I really do sometimes wonder. It’s something good to keep in mind as we go through our lives in this culture – you can survive without a constant connection!

Leaving the Nest

A mother, looking for a safe place to birth and raise her young ones, chose my front porch. She chose well, it was out of the rain, and as a fellow mom, I was careful to not soak her nest when I watered this plant, which suddenly also served as a home.

Then one day, and for four days, the mother laid an egg; four beautiful, small, vulnerable lives, contained in precious, fragile shells. The day the babies were making their way out of their eggs, our family did our best to come and go through the garage, ensuring that the mother could just sit on the nest to keep her little ones warm (moms look out for each other like that).

We adored watching them, they were so ugly that they were cute. There came a day when we began to hear their teeny-tiny tweets, clamoring for their food each time their mother returned to the nest. It made me think of our little ones when we have been gone for awhile. My little ones would come running to the door ready to see if I had something for them, or to tell me of some adventure (or some perceived injustice) while I was away!

Quickly the little uglies were trading their wrinkly, downy skin for real feathers. They filled out and seemed more crowded in the nest. Before we knew it, they began perching on the edge of their home. I’ll never forget watching that first one leave the nest…

Courtney was all packed up and we were loading the car to make the return trip to college for her junior year when it happened. We had just walked outside and I was locking the door when we saw one of the baby birds perched on the edge of the nest. We stopped and watched as it just sat there, and then suddenly ~ it flew away!

“Ohhhhh wait! Are you ready? Don’t fall! Where are you going?!” All things that went through my mind and even were uttered from my lips as my daughter, ready to go herself, and I, watched this bird leave the nest. We looked at each other taking in what we just saw – the obvious significance of the moment not lost on either of us.

We watched the little one fly higher and higher and eventually find a tree. We saw and heard the mom calling to it from the roof next door. I imagine the mom was tweeting “Good job! Look how strong and beautiful you are! I’m so proud of you!”

It’s funny…several years ago, when my friend Barb’s oldest daughter, Alexandria, left the nest, I sent Barb a little bird and enclosed a letter. In the letter I told my friend what a great mom she was and how she (and her husband) had provided such a strong and stable nest for her little ones, that she could be confident as Alexandria left. I was indeed confident that Alexandria would be secure and strong and ready to enter the world, taking with her all the tools, values, lessons and love that had been given her while in the nest. When Courtney left for college two years ago, I received a similar letter from Barb with a different little bird in a nest.

Now on the sidewalk, Courtney and I stood and watched together, with awe and a little anxiousness, as a real bird, left a real nest to make its own way in the real world. Then ~ I drove her to her new apartment at college. As my own little one has left the nest for another year of school, I will be confident (as I told Barb to be) that we have taught her what she needs to know to fly and find her way – and I say to her even now ~ “Good job, Courtney! Look how strong and beautiful you are! I’m so proud of you!”

Coming Home for the Summer

Believe it or not, it’s finals week for Courtney. In many ways it seems as if we were just delivering her back to campus for her sophomore year, and now it’s just about over. Lightening speed for me – the one who did not attend all those classes, endure endless lectures and labs, as well as grueling assignments, papers and exams.

I am feeling blessed beyond expectation because she is coming home once again for the summer. We had thought it likely that she would be elsewhere for an internship, but she received an internship, within her field, right here in our town. I get the opportunity to spend another summer with my daughter!! It’s amazing how happy this makes me.

This parenting thing is funny ~ it’s ever changing. Obviously we are in transition in our parenting of her. We do not now, nor will we next week, parent her in the same manner in which we parent Zach (17) or Erin (14). But we do, and will, still parent her during this phase.

What does that look like now? Not a rhetorical question. I’m really wondering. She will be twenty next month. She is smarter than me to be sure (seriously, she’s studying to be a Biological Engineer, I failed 10th grade math). She knows more than me in several arenas, and certainly is more “relevant” than me when it comes to current culture.

One thing I do have is more wisdom gained from more life experience. But this will only mean something if we continue to grow our more adult, parent-child relationship. I believe it is within the continued & growing relationship where opportunities to impart some of that life wisdom can take place.

I wrote here about her coming home for the summer last year and what I did to prepare. And now I am keenly aware that she has had the better part of yet another year to live “independently” (I put it like that because the truth is we mostly fund this independence). The point that matters is that she has been making her own decisions about daily life – without a parent holding her accountable or telling her to get more sleep. Which is part of the growing up process – which is good and keeps her on track to actually grow up and be an adult that contributes to society. Remember, I am not raising kids, I’m raising future adults. I believe she is exactly on track…and the truth is, I’ve not been down this stretch of track before.

It’s constantly new terrain with our oldest children. Poor them…and quite honestly, poor us. So what I will do in these next few days before she comes home is pick up my copy of “You’re Wearing That?” by Deborah Tannen.  I will go straight to Chapter 9 Blending Intimacy and Independence: New Ways of Talking. I will look for some of that wisdom and life experience that I don’t yet have. I will seek out women whose core and family values are similar to mine and I will ask them to meet me for coffee. I will wash her sheets, tuck a welcome home note under her pillow, brace myself for the piles of stuff that will cover my living room for days, draw close to her and give her room. I will be overjoyed to simply look at her across the room. I will be happy for this time with my oldest child, who sits perched on the edge of the nest, trying her wings.

Last year Courtney and I wrote a five part series called Home for the Summer – you can read that here.

Going to Church

I want my kids to go to church. Although “going to church” really isn’t the goal.

I wrote here about Zach and Erin going to spend the weekend with Courtney recently. At the end of the article I mentioned that they even went to a church service while together…without parents. Meaning no one told them to go to church. I love this. But even as I write that – I know it isn’t the act of going to church that I desire. I don’t long for obedience, I hope for them to have their own desire to take time out for God.

Lots of people go to church. There was a time (actually there were years) where I “went to church”. It’s what Kevin and I did on a Sunday morning. Then we came home, read the Sunday paper, got groceries, maybe took a nap and then prepared for the work week. I was able to check the box, “Went to church”, but it didn’t carry over into the other parts of my week.

But I do value my kids to going to church because I believe when they go to church, they have an opportunity to focus on, consider, learn more about, and take time to worship God. The hope is that they are taking in teachings, using their minds and their hearts to consider positions, feeling challenged in areas of weaknesses and convicted in areas where they are off track. I hope they use this dedicated time to block out the distractions and worship the one who created and calls them.

The world is constantly crashing in on them. They don’t need to put any effort into being influenced and challenged by culture, but we all need to put effort into holding the world at bay to consider what we believe and what we will do about what we believe.

I don’t long for obedience, I hope for them to have their own desire to take time out for God. When my kids choose church for themselves, my heart feels not pride, but gratitude. I believe one of my “jobs” as a Christian mother is to lead my children to Jesus, introduce them, hope that they take His hand, and then allow Him to lead them in this world.

They will leave my home, I will lose my “majority stake” in influencing them, but if through our partnership with the local church they have their eyes on Jesus then I will be more confident in letting them go.

These Sibling Relationships – read it here.