Thursday, January 25, 2007

Young Adult or Old Child?

My children are young adults.
It took me, and it took them a while to realize it.
But, I am very gratified to see them grow/grown, and I do enjoy their increasing maturity.

My friend Carla and I talk fairly often about our growing children.
Often, moms are the last to know that their children have grown up.
We remember the baby days and toddler years and tree climbing as if it were yesterday. It might even have been yesterday. Our lives have been wrapped up in our little ones' lives all these years. so naturally we're reluctant to let go.

Being the parent of adult children takes some adjustments. It takes acceptance and it means releasing them into God's hands. Young adults still require mentoring, but they cannot be treated as children. As one wise mom said: "God and I have a deal: I won't take all the credit and I won't take all the blame."

Of course, the young person has some responsibility to make this a smooth transition.
First, they must decide that they're really not a kid anymore, and be willing to embrace the new weight of responsibility and accountability. They must realize that their parents have been raising them from an egg, and that parents need understanding, too.

But, I think the most essential change is that both parent and child need to go to God with each other. In other words, both need to trust God more. An adult child feels affection and gratitude towards his parents, if all has gone right. But, at times will feel challenged trying to honor and respect them. At those times, they need to remember that they are treating their parents gently, out of love for God; and that God is pleased with that sacrifice of pride.

Conversely, parents need to still mentor, but go from being their child's external conscience to being their prayer warrior and sideline coach/cheerleader. When both parent and offspring understand the unique challenges inherent to the other in this transition, then it becomes easier to help things along and give grace where needed.

Both parent and offspring need to conclude: my child is no longer a child, but an adult or "I am not an old child. I am a young adult." Once that is established in the heart and the mind, the new phase has begun!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Growing in Freedom, part 1

I'm going to take the next few days to share some thoughts on adulthood and freedom with some of my younger readers. Older readers are free to read as well, and I welcome comments. But, I do moderate them, so they won't appear immediately after you post them.

I'm going to share a little from my life.

At 19 I went to Boston University, right after my stint in the Army.
At that time in my life, I was revelling in my freedom and loving the fact that I was free to make my own choices. Perhaps it was the military service, or maybe it was my early degree from the School of Hard Knocks and Bad Choices, but I had reached a point where I only wanted God's plan for my life. He must had given me the discernment or wisdom to realize that His was the path to true freedom.

I'm going to keep this short and then expound a little in the next few days. But, I knew I had entered adulthood at that time. I knew because of what I did and didn't want out of life. I knew because of the deeper questions of choices and destiny with which I was wrestling. I tend to be a bit of a noncomformist, naturally. I was probably born that way. But this was different. Like never before, I had absolutely no interest in running with the herd and following the crowd. I was perfectly content to swim upstream and stay focused on my goals. The herd was just peropheral scenery. I had learned to want what God wanted for me and I knew it was what was best. I certainly wasn't being contrary, just focused.

In those days, I filled my journal with thoughts and tomes about freedom. I don't think I wrote anything earth-shatterlingly profound or noteworthy, but I was taken with the concept. I was tasting true freedom and I knew that "free" was something I always wanted to be. I also knew that freedom wasn't cheap. Staying free had to be a deliberate choice. Bad choices impeded freedom, and so did any lies or misconceptions I was laboring under.

It was a dynamic time of learning truth and clinging to it. I thought it was fun because I knew it would lead to a great life.

One thing I love/loved about God was that He was absolutely willing to lead me into freedom. People think God is all about rules and taking our freedom. But that's totally wrong. He's all about freedom: getting us out of all sorts of bondage and giving us the truth. The Word says, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free".

That's it for now. Keep checking in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pink Tuesday and blooming crocus.

I'm so glad yesterday is over! Some yesterdays are like that. One thing I love about God is that His mercies are new every morning! I love it that He allows U-turns, and that He's perfect. . . but not perfectionistic. How happy and blessed I am to be His daughter.

Speaking of daughters, I just had a wonderful conversation with a daughter in the faith. She is quite a mature and lovely young woman. I don't think she'll wrestle long with the question, "Am I a woman or a girl?" because I think I'm beginning to see the beginnings of a truly wonderful work that God is doing in her life. It's a work that will require maturity. As someone who has known her most of her life, I feel joyous and excited.

Some in this next generation of young adult believers will be called upon to live lives that are essentially and radically different than what the world lives. Last year, the census bureau discovered that there are now more unmarried adults than there are married adults in the US. Also, I've heard older adults sternly counsel the younger ones to wait until they are 26 to marry. That definitely has it's pros and cons, but it can said, in all fairness, that readiness for marriage has much more to do with maturity than with chronological age.

This gal is bright, intelligent and promising, and beautiful. And she's God's. She will hear, and has heard many divergent voices of how to spend her life, her youth, and her many different expressions of beauty. We all know the options : career, school, military service, missions, an active dating life, marriage. But, in her case --and I'm so proud of her for this-- she wants what God wants. Whatever that may be.

That's great. A lot of people say that. But, in some cases it can be quite costly. Take Mary, when she was a young virgin. She said "Be it unto me as thou hast said" and behold! She was left to explain to her parent's and relatives that she was pregnant, via divine overshadowing, with a holy child.

Other girls around her were, no doubt, also sold out to God, and wanted his plan for their lives. But her calling was radically different, and came a little sooner than she expected. Still, after one or two questions to the angel, she consented.

Now, my children, and my young friend may not have a calling as radical as a virgin birth. But, going counter-culture at a young age can be about as daunting. One thing that helped my daughter in the faith was a talk bolstering her up as a young woman vs. an old child. Too many young people have this struggle: 'When am I an adult?'

She has long reached the age of reasoning and accountability. She might find herself in a courtship in the near future as she has captured the imagination and notice of a remarkable young, godly, twenty- something man. Courtship at her age is counter culture. But this seems very right and very peacable to her.

What an interesting prospect. I do counsel young people who are considering a relationship with the member of the opposite sex to look, look, look and pray before they leap. But sometimes, like a crocus as a heralder of Spring, we get to see a wonderful early work of the Lord that was hidden, but bloomed early.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Most Depressing Day of the Year

Well, it's Blue Monday, what experts have termed the third Monday in January because they figured that this was the most depressing day of the year. By the third week in January, we will have faced up to our credit card debts accrued over the holidays, and we will have come face to face with our failure to carry out our New Year Resolutions. (I don't do those normally.)

It's a little strange to live out the year's most depressing day. Ironically, it's grey and overcast and drizzling rain here in Central Florida. How does one commemorate a "holiday" such as Blue Monday? Should we be sad? Reach out to a depressed person? (Not a bad idea.) Fight the blues? Embrace them?

I guess we could have some fun with it and do up a blue table, with blue plates, salad with blue cheese, play the blues, and have blue jello for dessert. (I think I will.) I'll even do place cards on blue paper, written with a blue marker.

Why not?
Red, White and Blue is for Independence Day
Red and Pink is for Valentines Day.
Green is for St. Patricks Day.
Red and Green is traditional for Christmas.
Blue alone doesn't have a holiday to grace.

Should this be?
Is this fair?

I, for one, will do my part in granting this poor color equal time.
It might lead to a prayer time for someone we know who needs a boost.
Maybe God will give us an idea of who to invite for dinner.
Who knows?

The good news is that we get 2007's most depressing day out of the way early. The other remaining 343 days are bound to be better -- according to the experts.
The day is almost half done!

Here's to a happier tommorow!

By the way, one of our goldfish died. It turns out that he wasn't cute and chubby like we thought when we purchased him, but bloated and very ill.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hello 2007!

Dear Readers,
THANK YOU for not giving up on me while I was busy being a holiday hostess! I'm still at it and I'm going to miss my crowd. We're having such fun. The holidays, to me, are what tax season is to a CPA. It's my 'high season'. I'll have to be careful not to fall into a slump of despondency once it's all over. Fortunately, I have a friend who wants to fly out to see me in mid-January.

One thing I have enjoyed most is the interaction between generations. I kept thinking, "One generation serves the other." (I know this is biblical. . . a concordance will give you the reference.)
We cooked for each other, cleaned for each other. We stopped and listened and spoke to each other and our lives are all the richer for these interaction.

A snapshot memory I have is the younger generation's first act of the New Year. They sat around our little fire pit by the pool, talking in a circle. We'd peek out at them every so often, because they made such a nice picture. At midnight, they led out the happiest, most robust cheer and held up their champagne glasses of sparkling grape juice. But, before they did that. They opened the New Year asking God for His blessing. What an encouragement those seven young people are to us. We love them so dearly. . .

I feel that I have been surrounded by all sorts of love in this past week. There is thoughtfulness and fellowship all around me; the last two remaning slices of my friend, Susan's, apple cake, dishes on the drying rack that I didn't wash, games waiting to be played once again, the dustpan (not put away after the last use). Our kitchen now boasts two new goldfish in a one gallon aquarium that our daughter gave her Daddy for Christmas. He loves it. There's so much to be thankful for.

In a few moments, they will all return from their errands. They're travelling en masse.

But, I promised a cyber friend a recipe. He ordinarily hates spinach, but is willing to give this hors d'eurve recipe a try.

(Jim U, I got this recipe from a friend I made when my husband was stationed in Okinawa, Japan with the USMC. They were a hit at the get-togethers)

Patrice's Spinach Puff
(this recipe can be halved, but I've never done it, because they freeze so well.)

2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, cooked in microwave, and squeezed dry.
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 8oz pkg Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing
1 C of melted butter (2 sticks)
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 T garlic salt
1 T black pepper
1/2 t thyme
6 eggs, beaten

Mix all ingredients together (you'll probably have to use your hands to work all of the ingredients together evenly).
Shape into 1" balls.
Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

*to freeze:
Do not bake.
Lay wax paper on baking sheet.
Roll balls and space evenly.
Put tray in freezer and freeze.
Transfer into a gallon freezer zip lock bag.

To bake:
Take desired amount out of freezer, placed on ungreased cookie sheet and allow to thaw a little.
Bake according to instructions.

Bon appetit, jim U!

More later.
Love to all.