Parenting…Not for Cowards


There are many ways we come to parenting. For some of us it is a dream we have had since we played with dolls as little girls. For others it came at a season we would not have chosen. For others of us it was delayed, postponed, or upended by various reasons.


When the day arrives despite what we may have expected, we are overwhelmed with a love we could not have imagined. But we also feel more inadequacy than we might have guessed as we recognize the responsibility in our arms and how much we do not know about this new role.


adult-baby-bed-225744In the midst of those early weeks of exhaustion, we are grateful for our own mothers, aunts, and friends who have walked this journey before us as they offer their stories, insight, and support. We glory in each new thing and our dreams for this little one blossom and grow as we consider who they might become and be. And though it feels as though this “never enough sleep” phase will last forever, it passes and soon we are on to the milestones of crawling, first steps, and more.


Each season of parenting brings fresh challenges and fresh insights and we are on a continual journey of learning about this wondrous creation God planted inside us. Along the way we discover there is much to learn about ourselves as well, no matter how well we thought we knew ourselves.


Whatever challenges the child may have or provide for us, we hold our breath when school begins. Now there will be other standards for them to meet beyond our own action-activity-boy-296301dreams, desires, and demands.


How will others see this one we have already poured so much of ourselves into?  Will this child be as smart and able as we believe or hope they will be?


Peers and outside activities slowly get added to our daily family life. Maybe it’s music lessons, concerts, and recitals or maybe it is beginning sports where skills are taught and the “rules of the game” are learned. Each one stretches that child to nudge their interests, skills, and gifts to another level and with that our own expectations, dreams, and hopes sometimes hang on bated breath to see what happens.


When the teen years roll around, we hear the stories of others about the ups and downs of hormones, peers, and challenges in every direction. In the midst of this season (even at its best), we pray for more wisdom than ever and if we glance in the rearview mirror, we start to realize that life was simpler back there when they were little. It was tiring and frustrating, but we could protect them and when they didn’t meet our expectations or desires the issues were smaller.


academy-celebrate-celebration-267885When we finally near the finish line at the end of our child’s high school, we take a deep breath and pray that somehow we taught them enough and that grace covered our mistakes. When they walk across the stage to receive their diploma, we feel grateful and hope for the next season for them (whether that is college, tech school, learning a trade, or getting a job).


What we discover is that the season of parenting adult children is the hardest of the parenting seasons. It’s worth noting that less is written about this season to alert and guide us than earlier parenting seasons.


We can’t protect them from the adult challenges they face, nor can we prevent them from the disappointments that will come. Whatever character deficits remain in them is now out of our capacity to intervene as we once did. These will be between them and the Lord.


As all of these come their way, our hearts will be saddened and sometimes broken by their choices and their heartaches and challenges. They couldn’t have understood (even if we told them) how adult life would come at them from so many directions testing them because even though they chafed at our discipline they somehow thought it was easier (or would be) for them.


It is then that our prayers grow in fervency and we have a new understanding of the adult-beautiful-bride-1676133disappointment and anguish felt by another parent … our Father.


We can begin to see more clearly the pain we caused Him. He was cheering for us, hoping for us from the beginning even though He knew where we would slip and fall. He was interceding for us at every step and hoping when we realized an error that we would not make that same choice again while knowing we would.


That kind of parenting, that kind of divine love, led Him to the cross. He couldn’t bear to be separated from us and He knew we would continue to falter, weaken, succumb, and stray from the truth He exposed us to (even after knowing Him).


backlit-black-cross-161089And that…that models for us the challenge of parenting when things don’t go as we hope or wish at any season, that sets the example of love we are called to draw from Him as we parent our own children. That reminds us of the boundaries He sets in the midst of grace and mercy.


That buoys our prayers that our hope in Him can never be disappointed and He loves our children more than we do.


He brought each one of us through many of those same mistakes, our repeated poor choices (no matter what reason), and we yet found Him in the midst and his grace for parenting extends to us as parents.


“Prayers are answered in ways we don’t choose. The river of grace bubbles up in unexpected places.”

Lisa Wingate


Bow River, Alberta, Canada
Bow River, Alberta, Canada




Consider This

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Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada


When challenges come our way and obstacles rise like an impassable mountain range, it can be easy to feel we cannot possibly consider ascending through the mountains and seeking passes to the other side. Mountains can be places of great beauty as well as formidable sentinels obstructing where we would most like to go.


Over the years of vacation travel, our family has been blessed to see a variety of landscapes, historical sites, spectacular cities and events, but we are always drawn to the mountains. Something about their beauty and strength pulls us toward their location whenever we look ahead to our next time away.


IMG_0611Perhaps it is our enjoyment of trekking on the trails and discovering the wild flowers tucked into crevices or high meadows not accessible from a roadway. It could be the conversation my husband and I have as we make our way along the path that adds to the treasure trove of memories of other mountain paths.


One reason is undoubtedly the view that comes from climbing above the plain where we live. It can alter perspectives on the daily grind or the unsolved issue plaguing us as well as inspire us and remind us of our Creator.

Forest, Walland, TN


A climb through the mountains requires a heightening of senses as well. The trail can take unexpected twists and turns or be clogged with a fallen tree. The mountains are also home to many animals we do not find on the plains below. These paths go through their home, their habitat, and they are not sure we are safe.


Wildlife both small and large can be closer than we think in rocky caves we do not see or heavy forested areas filled with shadows. I will never forget one mountain hike where we came upon a slightly muddy area with a clear fresh paw print in the mud. Whether it was a bear or a mountain lion, we do not know but it gave us pause and a reminder that it is better to make noise on the trail rather than to surprise a creature that was not expecting company.


To travel into the mountains requires consideration of the food and water you will need on the trip (even if it is only an hour or two). You won’t find a Starbucks, hamburger shop, or ice cream stands to provide refreshment.


If all of these things are true about actual mountains, why do we forget these very truths apply to other mountains we face as well?


PPP 011Challenges (a.k.a. mountains) can tempt us to believe we are blocked from movement. We can be persuaded to believe they are impassable and so powerful they will undo us and we sit at the bottom feeling hopeless.


Other times we can decide to charge right up the path without adequate preparation for the trek. Do we have proper shoes, clothing, water, food, a compass, rain gear, and more?


We are not called to cower on the mountains nor to be confined to the plains.British Columbia, Canada


Mountains have much to offer, much to teach us about them, God, and ourselves. They can seem as though nothing is stronger nor impregnable than they are, but that points to what we don’t know about mountains.


“Where there’s a mountain, there’s always a river flowing nearby. Ultimately the river is the more powerful of the two.”

Lisa Wingate



Don’t Be Stingy


There are many ways we can be stingy beyond whether or not we are giving financially or being generous. Those other ways are less obvious to us, but not less important.


Who can you name who has believed in you even when you may not have seen the possible in yourself?  I hope you don’t need to think a long time to answer, but many cannot answer that easily. Others cannot name anyone since childhood perhaps.


What does it cost us to invest in, hope for, and believe in someone else and demonstrate that to them?


close-up-cultivation-dig-169523First of all we must see them and see into them much as Jesus did with others over and over again in his earthly ministry. That requires ridding ourselves of our self-absorption to notice and observe someone else. It also necessitates letting go of our own tendency to compare ourselves with someone else that can result in being stingy with our affirmation.


Believing in someone and offering affirmation about the possibility you see in them is not about flattering them or even perhaps complimenting them. It’s allowing the Lord in you to get a glimpse of his unique design in the other person, see the raw material with its own characteristics, recognize the hidden gems, and then speak life into that possibility in the other person. It is definitely not creating an image of them of our own design.


It gets conveyed in varied ways and with fewer words that are well placed and offered from the Lord’s lens and love in us to that other person. It is poured out because it is an act of love and not held back for fear it will create pride in the other person. (Flattery is what feeds pride, not truly seeing into and affirming the possibility within another person.)


If we are honest with ourselves (if not each other), we all experience doubts about close-up-focus-grow-127713ourselves. Even with maturity some doubts hide in the shadows waiting to pop up and stop us in our tracks or slow us from moving forward.


If you think about that person who believed in you, what happened within you as a result?


“The funny thing about having people believe good things about you is that, without even realizing it, you want to make those things happen.”   

Lisa Wingate


Often their faith in us, their belief in us is something we need to be able to walk on until our own is developed.


The messages of those who believed in me seemed sparse during my childhood, but when they came to me later they were etched in my heart, mind, and spirit with indelible ink.


A little white-haired lady spoke the words, “You’re going to have victory over this today,” when the challenges of the day were so high I could not see over them. It made ALL the difference. I believed and saw her faith when my own was wavering.


action-astronomy-constellation-1274260That was more than 40 years ago, but I remember it in vivid detail because she was speaking life into me through a faith and vision beyond her own faith or desire for me. Her words sparkled with a light that pointed the way to the One who believed in what He had purposed uniquely for me.


It would be a significant thing to be able to tell you there was a long list of others I could name; but even though there are some, there are not nearly so many as could have been. You see it is not common for someone to be a conduit of this gift, this belief and faith, but I cannot help but think that it should be something all of us experience multiple times over the course of our lives (no matter what our age).


Even though such persons may be few in any of our lives, they have the power to change everything. Offering such words of hope and belief do cost us something, but the dividends are multiplied many times over.


Those who see the possible in us plant within us seeds to see the possible to believe in someone else.


“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)





















It Has Happened As He Said




And so, it all came true, just as He said.


He was betrayed, mocked, beaten, taunted, humiliated and crucified. Even though many had heard Him say this would happen, I suspect there were more than a few who were still shocked at the happenings they had witnessed.


How many of them felt anguish at what they had seen?


How many of them had felt sorrow over their response to Him?


Then, just as He said, in the early morning of the first day of the week, He was missing from the tomb and alive once more. He was back and yet not the same and not permanently. Even those closest to Him did not immediately recognize Him.


For forty days He will walk the earth and be seen by those who will then bear witness that He is indeed alive. Then, He ascends into heaven. How they must have longed for Him to stay.


Those who had followed Him were not leaders, not scholars. They were common people. He had taught them so much, but how much had they understood? How much had been woven into the fabric of their hearts?


Despite all that He had said, it would have been easy for some to think this was the end of it all. For some, He had again not met their expectations or hopes.


I think so often how much you and I are like them. When our expectations and hopes in Him are disappointed, it can be so easy to doubt, to turn away, to give in to our self-pity, and to give up on trusting Him no matter what.


He had promised them He was sending them a Helper, but I cannot help but think they could not have known what that meant. What would happen in the Upper Room had never happened before. They had no frame of reference, but from this ragtag group of followers, one hundred twenty would obey in this and wait in that room for what would come next.


They would discover that what they had witnessed was not the end. It was not even the beginning of the end. It was the beginning of the power of His life and ministry that would fill each of them in such a way that His message would spread across the entire world. Despite persecution, despite all obstacles, it would continue to spread and go on living to the present moment.


You and I are still a part of that “going on” in this present hour.


 We have celebrated Easter, but what now?


Do we recognize that He has placed the path before us and entrusted that we would continue to spread the Good News?


It can be easy for any one of us to listen or read the story and think of it as a scene from “back there” and fail to realize it is still ongoing and if you and I are alive today, each of us who call Him Lord has been given a role to play.


Yes, He could do it without us, but He has chosen to invite us to participate with Him.


Each of His disciples had a different path. We, His current disciples each have a different path.


Are we listening?


Have we responded and if so, how?


They walked with Him, but we live by and through Him. They saw Him ascend to His Father. We may yet see Him return to the same Mount of Olives from which He ascended.



God’s Darkest Hours

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Photo by Elise Finch

As the sun began to set, those who had followed the Lord could not let go of the events of the day. He had clearly told them, but what they had witnessed was beyond their imagination despite His words.


What would it have been like to be one of His disciples on that long, wrenching day at the end of such an incredible week?


I wonder.


Would I have steeled myself against the horror unfolding and clung to His words while still standing at the foot of the cross or would I have been one of those who were not present?


Would I have been overcome by grief and fear of what would happen next or would I have fallen prey to doubt?


So much had happened during this week…


The triumph of Palm Sunday had filled so many with hope and celebration! Then on Monday Jesus had entered the temple courts zealously overturning the tables of the moneychangers who were buying and selling. He was reminding them this place was to be a place of prayer and not one of robbers. A noisy melee broke out in the chaos of doves and money flying everywhere, people scrambling, and reeling at the scene. They had never seen Jesus this way.


Then on Tuesday as the disciples were walking along with Him, He had cursed the fig tree that was not producing fruit. How puzzled they seemed to be at how quickly the tree had withered before their very eyes! Once more He exhorted them if they had faith and believed as they prayed, what they prayed would be done.


How astonishing were those things the disciples witnessed, but now to think He was saying they could do such things was more than they could take in.


From there they went on to the temple courts that He had just cleared the day before and He was confronted by the chief priests and elders about where He had received authority to do what He had done. It was a trap they were setting for Him and He knew it. His wise answer rebuffed them and left them stymied as Jesus then refused to answer them and expose their unbelief.


Then came the Olivet Discourse where He warned the disciples through another story. This time He spoke of the foolish and wise virgins charging them to keep watch. To think this admonition came prior to that long night in the Garden of Gethsemane and yet they had not taken in the meaning for either the future or the present.


How Jesus loved them and longed for His disciples to hear and understand!


I think He does for us as well. How can I possibly judge their behavior when I am not always listening and hesitating to follow if I don’t understand what He has asked of me?


It was on Wednesday that Judas slipped away from the others and made his bargain with the chief priests to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Did his fellow disciples have any clue he might be tempted to do such a thing?


It reminds me that in the “now” those I share the journey of faith with are also tempted even as I can be. How deeply and openly I share my doubts, fears, and temptations may well determine my ability or their ability to withstand it and make all the difference in this walk with Him. That means that I need to be purposeful in my times with those closest to me to help guard their hearts and allow them to guard mine as well.


Thursday was a feast day, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Jesus directed His disciples where to go in the city and whom to speak with about preparing a place at his house for Jesus and His disciples to celebrate the feast.


When they were gathered there, Jesus broke bread and served wine giving thanks and once more giving them information few could likely grasp. He plainly told them they would not share this meal with Him again until they were together again in His Father’s kingdom.


They sang a hymn and then left for the Mount of Olives to the garden in Gethsemane. As they walked along in the moonlight, what was their conversation? Did they wonder at the interaction between Jesus and Judas? Did they question Judas abruptly leaving them?


Jesus wanted them to be with Him, to watch with Him, and to pray.


He knew and understood what lay before Him and despite His willingness to be obedient to His Father, His heart was in anguish and He asked His Father if there was any other way while still being willing to endure what lay ahead.


As the disciples looked back on that last sweet time with Jesus in the upper room and then their failure to watch with Him as he asked, were their own hearts burdened with guilt and shame for their failure?


The ugly scene of Judas arriving with soldiers to arrest Him angered them. How could he have done such a thing? Yet their own fear caused them to flee the scene. Peter’s curiosity brought him to the courtyard where early in the morning the prophecy Jesus had spoken about his betrayal would come to pass.


It was 6 AM on that Friday that Jesus would stand before Pilate. It had been a long night. He had already suffered much, but within an hour He was sent on to Herod for a decision on what to do with Him. Pilate must have hoped Herod would handle things, but instead he was returned to Pilate where Pilate looked for a way out and offered to release one of the prisoners. The priests had spurred on the crowd and elders who had arranged the betrayal by Judas to choose Barabbas rather than Jesus.


So in the end, as Old Testament prophets had foretold, Jesus was sentenced to death and by 8AM had been led away to Calvary. An hour later the grisly crucifixion had begun with only a handful of those He loved standing nearby to testify to the events. They were the ones who watched the soldiers casting lots for his clothing and heard the insults and mocking railed at Him.


These few would bear witness to the exchange Jesus had with the criminal crucified to one side of Him who was promised paradise. They also heard His words to His mother and the admonition to John to care for her as a son.


By noon that day, darkness covered the scene and at 1PM Jesus cried out to His Father and spoke of His thirst. By 2PM they would hear His final words “It is finished”. At the end of the ninth hour, the soldiers would thrust a spear in His side to assure He was dead. An earthquake would occur and then as sunset approached He was taken from the cross and Joseph of Arimathea offered his own tomb as a burial place.


The sun sank further and further and I might think the disciples’ hearts weighed heavy as it dipped below the horizon.


Was it all over?


What would become of them?


It was God’s darkest hour as He set aside His Son’s life for me, for you, for any who believe in Him.


Good Friday?


Perhaps we for whom He died can say it was good because He gave us the best gift we could have ever received.


 He gave us life with Him.


Photo by Elise Finch