The Author of Our Kids’ Stories

I have a foster world HERO who has become a dear friend. Her name is Pam Parish. Recently we were having lunch and talking about our fostering journeys—her’s being MUCH more extensive than mine. Pam shared an insight with which I could immediately identify! It’s such a powerful parenting insight, I knew you’d benefit from it too.  Here’s Pam!

“What makes you think you get to write her story?” That still small voice whispered within me and interrupted my world–class pity party.  Our 16-year-old daughter had run away for the second time. The police had just left my house, and my husband was on his way to her last known location.

I chose to use my moment alone to make my case before God. You know the one, “But I’ve done so much.” “How could she do this to me?” “It’s not supposed to be like this!” My ideas of what parenting would be like were coming face-to-face with the reality of my daughter’s journey, and I didn’t like it. I wanted God to swoop in and deliver me from the trial. He wanted me to see His purposes in the trial.

Even as my mind protested, my spirit began to quietly bear witness to the truth behind the question. The truth is simple. It’s not my job to write my children’s stories. That job belongs only to God. I simply get to play a role.

From the moment a child enters our lives, we desire the best for them. Our prayers are for their happiness, health, success and good behavior. We want those outcomes because we love our kids more than anything, and we take our role as parents very seriously. So, when a child wanders off course, it’s hard. We blame ourselves, we blame the child, we blame our spouse, and we even blame God.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” This is God’s promise to us, and He does keep His promises. What this verse doesn’t promise, however, is that our kids’ stories will be perfectly smooth and free of wandering.

As I worked through my worry, grief, and anxiety in prayer, I began to shift my request. I stopped asking God to deliver her and make her safe. Instead, I asked him to be with her wherever she may be. I asked him to use every ounce of our brokenness for His glory in His time.

Although her situation had not miraculously changed, my heart had. God didn’t share with me His plan for her life. He didn’t tell me the outcome of her story. He just quietly asked me to trust Him and love her, no matter what.

I must remind myself daily that Jesus is the author and finisher of my kids’ faith (Hebrews 12:2), just as He is the author and finisher of mine. And while I’m not promised that everything will work out the way I think it should, I am promised that just as Jesus began a good work in our family – He will be faithful to finish it. In the meantime, he’s writing my daughter’s story and I know it’ll be an amazing one.

Check out pamparish.com for extraordinary posts, wisdom, and resources for foster and adoptive families! On Twitter: @pamparish.

 

Do You Know Him?

Today is Palm Sunday—the day Jesus entered Jerusalem

to begin the final week leading up to His death and resurrection.

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

‘Hosanna!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Blessed is the King of Israel!’”

John 12:12-13

Do you know Him?

“President!”

iStock_000015237130SmallRemember back in your school days when you’d hear that a substitute teacher was coming the next day? Or you’d arrive at school and while making your way to class, you’d hear that Mrs. Whoever was absent, and a sub had come instead?

For me, that announcement brought forth simultaneous giddiness and dread. Giddiness, because it was likely we’d play a game, skip a test, or just simply get some homework done. But the dread came when I thought about two particular boys in my grade. I knew that any substitute teacher would be viewed as fresh meat and a new target for their antics. My sixth-grade mind and soul were pre-terrorized on the sub’s behalf.

Now, in my adult mind and soul, I totally get that Mrs. Sub might not have been bothered by it. She probably even expected it. There is a slight possibility she was privately entertained by it. Nevertheless, I felt the dread to my play-by-the-rules core.

The day would invariably begin with roll call. Britt and Tim (names changed, but if you went to Hillcrest Elementary in Dublin, GA, when I did, you know who I’m talking about) would, of course, answer when their names were called by loudly, and with fake manly voices (since they were sure that would speed up their voices actually changing) proclaim, “President!”  Usually, it was downhill from there, but I can’t help but think back to that when I think about “being present.”

There is a big difference between being somewhere and actually “being present.” I know this firsthand because I have the innate ability to be somewhere and not really be present. I can hyper-focus at my computer or on a project and not even be aware that someone else is in the room. In fact, I’ve been accused of having a “conversation” while doing something else and later not even realizing that I had spoken to someone. Crazy . . . I know you can’t relate.

What I’ve learned, the hard way, obviously, is that being truly present brings richness to life that simple project accomplishment never does. Hearing about a family member’s day, engaging with his humor, or having an opportunity to speak life-giving words is a far better return on my time investment than checking some meaningless things off my “to do” list.

So, for my progress-loving, task-accomplishing, “to do” list-managing brain, I’m constantly retraining my tendencies: stop, make eye contact, and engage. I’m ever renewing my mind to the fact that the days are furiously fleeting, and these relationships are far worthier of my tending than some list that will soon be forgotten. Sandra Stanley? “Present!” or “President!” Hahahaha . . .

Spring Pesto Pasta

I love spring. I love seeing green start to peek out from the brown of winter. I love the weather warming up. I love opening my back doors and just letting fresh air blow through (until the Georgia pollen begins to kick in, that is!).

I also love to find ways to make veggies taste great. So, in celebration of the amazing warmer weather, here is a Stanley favorite. It originally came from my dear friend Lou Barnhardt. Special thanks to our small group who came over for dinner after the photos were taken. They are so thoughtful, aren’t they?

Spring Pesto Pasta

Spring Pesto Pasta  (Serves 6–8)

  • 1 package Angel Hair pasta (large)
  • 3 or 4 cups of various sliced vegetables (yellow peppers, red peppers, asparagus, broccoli, squash, sugar snap peas, carrots), not too small
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned sweet corn—drained
  • 6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, but not too small
  • 1/2 cup (or more) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted nuts (pecans, almonds, pine nuts)
  • 1 or 2 packages pesto sauce (prepared) I used two jars. See picture!

Spring Pasta Ingred.jpg

1. Place all veggies (washed and chopped) into a large colander.

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2. Prepare pasta. When pasta is finished boiling, pour boiling water and pasta over the veggies in the colander. Allow water to drain. This cooks the veggies perfectly!

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3. Leave the pasta on top of the veggies in the colander until ready to toss everything together.
4. Pour pasta and veggies into a large serving bowl that retains the heat well. Pour pesto sauce over all and stir in nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese.
5. Toss everything together and add a little more Parmesan cheese on top.
6. Serve immediately.
7. Let me know what you think!

What’s in Your Cup?

Cups.jpgHave you ever admired and appreciated someone from afar, and then you got to know that person—the “real and up-close” person—and your admiration skyrocketed? That’s the way it was for me with Regina Williams. The first few times I was around her, I thought to myself, I’d love to get to know her better. She seemed mature, wise, and just together.

Regina is a stage or two ahead of me as a mom and wife. While I was in the heavy-duty mom years, she made some time in her busy schedule to have several lunches with me and to share her insights on being a mom to boys.

Regina has a tremendous heart for mentoring. A few years ago, she launched a mentoring ministry that has taken off and become a model for women all over the country. But what I didn’t know about Regina until recently is how her own personal story launched her desire to pour what’s in her cup into the cups of younger ladies. I’m a strong believer in the power of one person’s story and experiences impacting someone coming along behind.

Hear from Regina, and ask yourself the compelling question at the end of her story.

Our Story in God’s Grand Story

Everyone has a story, and perhaps your story is similar to mine. My story is one of growing up in a family that did not know Christ. My parents sought to fill the void through alcohol and gambling . . . which led to financial troubles and addiction . . . which led to abuse, violence, and abandonment.

I heard the gospel at a church camp when I was nine years old and accepted Jesus as my Savior. But because I did not experience God’s love through my family, I struggled with insecurity, often feeling unloved and deserted by God. I based God’s love on my circumstances and not on His Truth. I diligently sought to please Him with my life, thinking if I could just please Him, He would change my circumstances. As a result, my life became performance-based versus grace-based.

I married my high school sweetheart at nineteen; and even though we were both Christians, we had a lot of baggage to work through in our marriage. At the age of twenty-two, God brought an older woman into my life who opened her life up to me and invited me in. She was raised in a strong Christian family. Even though she could not relate to my circumstances, she listened to my struggles, prayed for me, and took time to invest in my life. I watched her as she modeled loving her husband and children and making their home a place where Christ was at the center of everything. We studied God’s Word together and prayed together. She modeled everything I desired to have in my family.

Just as this woman displayed the love of God to me, so I desire to make my life available to other women, extending His love and grace to each of them. It is a huge blessing to be a small part of another woman’s story that God is writing. This is one way we can bring “His Kingdom here on earth.”

Who is God inviting you to invest in as He is writing her unique story?

For His glory and the next generation,

Regina

www.titus2mentoringwomen.com