We’re on the verge of a new year. The long summer days have looked a bit different this year, not all beaches and lazy days but packing up and moving countries and figuring out how to live and breathe and just be here in this new place.
It hasn’t been easy, I know. Living out of suitcases for a time, not having normal groceries in the cupboard and a general state of upheaval was looming wherever you looked. But we’ve come so far in 4 weeks. Your clothes have a home, you have your very own sheets on your beds and the quick snacks that make anywhere feel like home have been stocked and restocked.
You aren’t heading back to school this year but no matter, the last long weekend of the summer is fading to black and that means a new season begins. One that will involve online logins and classes taught by teachers so many miles away but in the same way we do every year we’ll sit and we’ll set goals and we’ll dream and hope for the year to come.
My dreams for you this year involve so much more than what you’ll learn in those classes though. My hopes for you won’t involve letter grade achievements or making the sports teams of choice. No, this year my heart is yearning for something different.
The thing about moving, be it across provincial lines or country borders or vast oceans is you take all of you right along with you. We take the very best parts of who we are, we carry our insecurities and fears and we take the hidden places of our hearts that we want to hide away. We take our weaknesses, our idols, our bents towards ease and we package those right up with our luggage and they arrive exactly wherever we do, front and center.
It’s easy to think just because we’ve moved countries so much will change but the truer part is we can be exactly who we were before in any country. If we don’t stop to think about it we can wake up next year, or ten years from now, in the exact same heart space with the exact same mind set.
But I’m your mom and I will never stop fighting for you in every way. This year I’m fighting for you to have eyes that see things you’ve never seen before. I’m praying for hearts to crack open and soften a smidge more than they were this time last year. I’m praying you’ll learn what it means to be right where you are without the pull of distraction because let me tell you, distraction is our greatest enemy to living a full and beautiful life.
For some strange reason I thought parenting would be different at this stage of the game. Easier, maybe. Like it would take less time, less intention, less – well, everything. But this is my lie, my distraction, my bent towards the selfishness of my time. Because you’re older now and the things we’re tackling on a daily basis have so much higher stakes. This isn’t about making it to the potty on time or cleaning up your toys (though sometimes there’s still a bit of that!)
This time of life is about discovering who you are and who you want to be, even when Dad and I aren’t around. It’s about learning where your own convictions lie when no one is watching. It’s figuring out the sort of life you want to pursue and where on the globe you might want to do that. It’s learning to nurture the hearts of those you’re in relationship with. The stakes are higher because when we mess these things up it’s so much bigger than when you stole a toy from that other kid before he was done with it.
But also – not really. The things you learned in those moments are the same today. Pay attention. Treat others with respect. Hold fast to what you believe. Be quick to say you’re sorry. These will still get you far.
This year I pray we’ll push the boundaries. I pray the things we’ve talked endlessly about late into the night, we’ll be able to put into action. I pray your idea of ‘needs’ would be challenged. I pray your contentment would grow. I pray the borders around your heart defining family would spread wider. I pray your eyes would see temptation coming from so far away and you would have strength to turn and run. I pray the word compassion would not just be a word but a deep understanding. I pray your eyes would see needs and your hands would be swift to fill them. I pray your hearts wouldn’t know an us and them but deep relationships where we serve each other because that’s what friends do.
Boys, we didn’t move countries to stare at phones in a new location. We didn’t bring you here because the internet connection is stronger so you can get a faster game of fort nite. We didn’t pack everything up so we could stay the exact same people.
We packed up because we believe in obedience and we believe it for you, too. We packed up because we think the Lord has big things for you here if you have the courage to keep walking forward in what he calls you to. We packed up because sometimes God calls us to see things from a new perspective and to be challenged in big ways for our faith to grow. Trust isn’t something that just happens but something built over time. For our family, from our comfy couches and stable jobs it was harder to build. We needed to step out into unfamiliar waters. In these waters we can continue to trust in ourselves or come to a deeper reliance on Him. I’m praying for the latter.
It was right before we visited this place for the first time just over one year ago God laid a prayer on my heart.
Bring us closer to the end of ourselves so we can see more of you.
That’s my continual prayer for this next year for you, boys, and for me too. That God would continue to grow you, to shape you, to mould you into His own. That He would lavish his grace upon you, that you would know His love in deep and profound ways. That your hearts would become tethered to Him because to whom else will you turn?
This has always been my prayer for you, but often coupled with extras. This year I’m coming in with no extras. I pray to your faith would be added goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, affection; and to affection, love.
I pray you would have minds that are alert and that your hope would be set on the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
These are my prayers for you this year, kiddos.
Always praying, forever advocating, and continually laughing at your nonsense,