I’m signing off for a while. I’ll miss you, but I’m grateful to hit pause this summer. And I have to tell you, the Lord’s timing couldn’t be more perfect. Once every 7 years, Highpoint Church gives us the opportunity to be away for the summer on sabbatical. It’s a season to have some uninterrupted rest, make memories, and be poured into and filled back up so we can come back and pour into others. True to form, God’s divine timing means this sabbatical falls over the summer before our first-born heads to college.
Before I shut down my laptop, I couldn’t help but pass on one more reflection from our parenting journey. When I look back over the last 18 years, the one decision we made as parents that made the biggest, most unexpected, positive impact on our children can be encapsulated in two words: an invitation.
Little did I know how much an invitation would encourage, challenge, strengthen, protect, and bless my children. If you have children in middle school, I would encourage you to invite 2 groups of people into your world. If your children are younger, it’s never too soon to start. As we opened the doors of our home this past Sunday for an open house for our son’s graduation, I was able to see the impact of these 2 groups. Some of these people knew each other, some didn’t… but all of them were used by the Lord in our children’s lives.
The first group consists of about 10 men who, over the course of Mark’s middle school and high school years, took an interest in him, spent time with him, and believed in him. Yes, there were a couple of formal times when we gathered all these men together with Mark, but much of it was informal. None of the informal opportunities would’ve happened, however, if we hadn’t specifically asked these men to pour into our son’s life. Parenting is a tricky thing and most of us don’t invest in other people’s children without being invited to do so. I’d encourage you to give a select group of people that freedom with your children. And here’s one bonus tidbit: Ask friends who you respect and who have personalities that mesh well with your child.
The second group of equally vital people whom I invited was my praying friends. Over the years, about 10 different women have prayed for Mark through the highs and lows of growing up. They didn’t hang out with Mark and rarely did he know… but when I sensed the enemy lurking, saw danger ahead, or smelled stupidity coming, I would send out an S.O.S. to women who knew how to pray.
I’ve had a few parents comment that they don’t have those types of friends to invite into their son’s or daughter’s life. If that’s the case, get busy making friends! I don’t say that sarcastically; I’m dead serious. Your children need you to have friendships with healthy, God-loving men and women. It’s so easy to put your kids first and say you don’t have time for a small group or a Sunday class, but the reality is you need to prioritize building friendships for your sake and for your children’s.
If you’re one of the 20, you know who you are. I’m grateful you’re not done loving on or praying for Mark or Annika. You’ll never know the gratitude of this mom’s heart for the ways in which you love on and pray for our children. They need you and we need you. Eternally grateful.