You raise them, form them, and then fire them out into the world. What’s next? Plenty!
We’ve arrived in Canada. It’s such a blessing to have a family, and a such generous one at that. My parent’s house is large, the food is plenty, we even have an extra car here to use. We can take for granted the trickle down effect of marriages sticking it out, hanging in there. I’m thankful to God for His grace in my parents marriage – it’s been far from perfect, they’ve come close to calling it quits on several occasions over the years.
As Deb and I grow older, we identify increasingly how difficult marriage really can be and have a lot more sympathy for those who don’t make it. In the valley, we fail to recognize the vast implications, the countless ways remaining together will impact those we love. Beyond the immediate, the number of souls a united family can influence and bring hope to is staggering to me as well.
We simply have to swim upstream you marriages out there. Remain united in our families, offering our culture a taste of something out of this world as we too enjoy the reciprocating benefits of God’s best of community.
A united family is like a garden, rich with an abundance of ripe fruit.
My parents remaining committed to one another have provided such emotional and tangible resources for not only their children, but also their grandchildren and even their first great grandchild. I think we discount the spiritual influence of this family thing. Even while we are here visiting North America, our houses in Ukraine are being used to encourage, provide a haven of rest, and bless several friends. Our ‘big house’, the guest house which was a blessing from Deb’s parents, has been deeply blessing many in need of a quite retreat to work through some difficult times. We families, no matter the size, open the garden of our lives and allow hungry souls to eat from the fruit. We give vision for the world, what we’re designed for and a hope that seems to be evaporating in our day. We Christ followers can get so sidetracked with what we ‘think’ is spiritual, when the most obvious spiritual realities are right in front of us – self sacrifice & love towards those living alongside us.
Healthy souls = healthy marriages = healthy families = healthy churches = healing to the nations.
Our family lives on a farm. We harvest wheat, corn, The farm over the years has provided summer work and a place for growing a work ethic for budding young adults. The longer we have lived in Ukraine in a very broken economy, the more thankful I’ve become for this place. It’s not only a place for earning some money, but growing character, learning self discipline, failing, and learning about oneself in the context of committed relationships. It don’t write to boast, but to highlight the importance of staying united, building as family units – the gifts just keep giving and trickling down to our heritage which Jesus can abide in and bring His kingdom through. When we seek our individual needs in an attitude of independence from God and others, the system simply breaks. Instead of winning the sense of hoped happiness, we are duped into more striving.
We were so happy to see our two oldest for a few days, Broderic (and his girlfriend Kristen) from Florida flew up, and Bronwyn our daughter who is now working and going to college in Pennsylvania. This parenting thing just keeps surprising us. The oldest kids become adults, and you go through that initial letting go, flinging the arrow into the world. You’re done. You think.
Once the arrow is flung, the parenting role doesn’t end, it just changes.
No longer needed for daily operations, the departed young adults are still in need of wisdom and encouragement. The guide on the side! Some of them still need emergency funding too 🙂 Andy Crouch wrote something I really appreciated concerning surrounding ourselves with healthy relationships, “We need those in our lives who will champion our dreams, but also puncture our illusions.” A parent, when in trusted, honest, transparent relationship with their adult children, I think, are the best ones suited to do this. We love to see them building their lives, struggling through difficult decisions, but we also walk alongside to keep them focused on reality.
The greatest gift, the best friend, is one who speaks the truth in love. We love that our arrows are embracing this gift because its been our aim to make them confident in our love.
Our love must be affirmed as something detached from performance or their doing.
They are deeply loved by who they are, as image bearers of God, intrinsically valuable. We can give them this love when we ourselves are receiving love’s gift too.
I didn’t intend to write about parenting. I simply intended to update my blog, and post some photos! There are, I know, some friends and family that read and follow along that have reached out and thanked us in the past for our notes on parenting. You are journeying along with us as parents, some of you have younger kids, some of you older and identify with the changing seasons. The main thing I wanted to highlight was how incredibly important it is for us to stay united in our marriages, because this blessing of walking alongside the flung arrow is one that is so powerful, so essential I think to this next stage of parenting. The continued blessing of families that stick together, and grow together in learning Jesus and their own formation must not be underestimated.
For our young adults, to have the balanced united support from both a mom & dad is essential when everything in their new life seems, to them, to be incredibly shaky – it’s our gift to our kids to come alongside as a heritage & union. Everything from advice on a car purchase to the healthy pacing of budding romantic relationships – this involvement can’t be forced, it must be earned through the earlier years. Our goal has been to move from the positional relationship as authoritative parent to sojourning friend as they leave the nest. That migration from coercion to influence takes a self knowing, resting into the grace of God yourself. To do this, your identity can’t be in being a parent, but a child of God. It’s a freeing place, resting in our individual weakness and finding Christ our ultimate strength. This allows us to come alongside our young adult kids in the reality that we too are still trying to figure out life – we’re just a few miles ahead on this thing and here to help.
“Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards” – Kierkegaard.
As an a man now in his 40’s, I continue to receive blessing, assurance, grace, encouragement from the united commitment of my own parents. As I receive that gift, in its many facets, I have vision to intentionally develop this now for my own young adults & their future families. This, I believe is the beauty of God’s intended design – an union of fellowship, displayed and enjoyed by our heritage, but also as a conduit of grace for the world. This interdependence, this offering of imperfect beauty in an increasing independent and lonely culture.
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Thanks for reading and your support!
Bruce & Deb live in central Ukraine and serve as directors of Mir Ministries (www.mirministries.org)