I don't want to imagine my life without Michael in it. I know it was a close call. He makes our family so much better. Each child is such a unique and precious gift. They all add something so dynamic and wonderful to the entire family and to the world they touch.
This morning as we prayed together around the family table, we prayed for Michael's precious life. We asked God to reveal to this young man why God raised him from the dead and what is his purpose. Why are we all here? Each day we wake up, God is raising us up for another day to live. Do we live? Some people just exist and they never experience a full and joyous life due to circumstances or bad choices. Do we choose joy even when life seems disappointing? There are dozens, if not millions of things to thank God for.
My children are all at the precipice of adulthood, walking through the teen years. I have so enjoyed this season. It is a bit busier than other seasons thus far. I think I have been enjoying it more than I thought I would. It actually feels like yesterday that I was a teenager. I remember being in high school with all the activities, the classes, the peers, the skills you realize that come easy, and the bad influences rolled into one moment of a lifetime. I remember making choices. I had all the bad influences surrounding at all times and I had to choose every day what things I wanted to do for my life. I did some things I wish I could forget, yet some of my worst mistakes became my best teaching moments of what I wanted to stand for. I had a desire to make a difference and not to be just a normal, go with the flow, type of person. In that, I may have raised my children totally different than most people. We all make choices on what kind of life we want. We chose to homeschool our children. Life for them as teenagers is totally different than what my life was, but I never wanted to take opportunity away from them in this choice. I wanted to make sure they had all the same opportunities to have a social life, learn, and be all that they are created to be. The neat thing is that we are one by one realizing the skills and talents that each of them have. We can still have them in sports and with other homeschool children that are a good influence. They still have fun and get to know other teens in a safe environment. It is a gift to have found this fellowship for them.
These teen years do look a bit different for us. Most activities involve entire families. If we have a party, it is all the families participating in games and dancing. The more I live, the more I believe community is key. Since the very beginning of time, families worked and lived in close knit communities. They depended on each other. It is in this present age that people have become more removed from this beautiful picture. We are not created to be islands. Every human being needs value, purpose, and ultimately acceptance.
There are a few very important things to consider when raising your precious young adults...
- RELATIONSHIPS. The trouble is, unless your grown children never leave your home, they will find the bad morals out in the society when they are released to live among it. The key is to arm them with first good communication and relationship in the home. Parents need to bond with each child and build a strong connection. It is not good if we bring these children up in an environment where they have to always measure up to a standard and if they do not, that you will forever be critical and disappointed with them. They will never thrive in that type of environment. They need to see joy in your life. If they feel connected at home, they will feel valued and will not look for their value in other ways. Spend time around the meal table a couple times each day and pray together. This is very important to bonding with their siblings and parents. Take time to teach them from God's word as well as it helps them to find meaning in their life and know the greater picture of life and eternity. There is no-one better equipped to teach this to them than by their own parents.
- COMMUNITY LIFE. The second is community. Surround your children with people that are kind, merciful, and long suffering. It can be a cold world out there if you connect with people who are forever judging you and your children and are unkind. What I have found is that Love is the key. If you can find a loving group of people that will love you through your differences, you have found a rare treasure. Lets just face it, we all will have many differences. Sometimes you can be with people who are so different, the only thing you have in common is the love of Christ, and it takes a measure of being mature enough to agree to disagree. It is okay to disagree on certain things that do not matter in eternity. When you find people who are willing to accept you and love you for who you are, then you can find fun things to do together. You can plan outings together with your children and other families. There can be pot luck dinners where everyone brings a dish to pass and you will all enjoy socializing while eating. Anytime you gather a group of children together, a game can soon be brought in. During the warmer months, children can race around outside playing soccer, or any other field games. Right now, in the cold of the winter, our children are having a great time playing table tennis with their friends. I even get in there and play a game or two. It is just fun to gather with other families.
- INTERESTS. Finding their interests is the third important thing. Get to know your teen and find out what their interests are and how you can help them build on their skills. If they have an interest in music, you can find a music instructor, or find an online program that will help them learn so they can become proficient in their music ability. If they enjoy art, work towards saving money or using birthday money for a special set of art supplies. Give them the tools and support they need to be creative and excel. One of my children had expressed an interest in photography and graphic arts, so I have given some of my older professional equipment to them as well as some lessons to train them in this area of skill.