Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Words

A blog carnival is happening today over on Bridget Chumley's blog. She selects a word and anyone who is interested is invited to write a post that relates in some way to the word she's selected. Click on the link if you'd like to add your own post or read more. Experts say one way to keep your brain young is to try something new and this is definitely new for me so here goes...today's word is trust.

Had I been writing this post six years ago I think it would look very different than the post I'll write today. Six years ago I had young teenagers living at home. Teenagers by their very nature bring the question of trust to the forefront on a regular basis. As a parent of young teens my thoughts generally ran along the lines of can I trust them? Can I trust them to do the right thing...to make good decisions...to stand firm in the face of peer pressure...to be honest...compassionate... responsible? The qualities you hope and pray you are cultivating in your children as they grow up are put to the test in the teenage years. I've poured so much love, discipline and prayer into these two little people... has it been enough? Can I trust them?

Today my daughters are in college and when I think of the word trust these days what comes to mind most of the time is not can I trust them but rather how much do I trust the One who made them? If you read here regularly you may have picked up on the fact that I am not really a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl. I follow the rules and I like order and I especially like to think I have everything under control. Its fairly easy to tell ourselves when our children are young and living under our roof that we are in control but that isn't quite so convincing when they hit the young adult years. There is nothing like leaving a child at a university in one country while you get back on a plane and return to your home in another that lets you know you are so not in control. Thankfully, this is where I can look back and see just how God's hand has been in the details of my life. At the age of 43 He got my attention with two words- Trust Me.

When we moved to England my oldest daughter was 15 years old. Europeans in general view their teens as adults at a much earlier age than we Americans do and we'd been in the country only a few short months when my daughter was invited to participate in an International Schools Theatre festival with a group from her highschool. My husband was traveling the night they were to leave so I had to make the drive to Heathrow to meet up with the group. I wasn't comfortable driving in England yet, especially at night and especially in a snowstorm. It very rarely snowed in our corner of the UK but for some reason this particular night it was snowing so hard they were threatening to close the airport and I was secretly happy. I prayed all the way there that the flight would be cancelled but on that strangely snowy evening in February of 2004 my 15 year old child and some classmates got the very last flight of the night out of Heathrow and flew to Warsaw Poland. My daughter spent four days living with a family of complete strangers and to say that I was out of my comfort zone would be an understatement of gigantic proportions (think Siberia). Of course in time we learned that this is the way school trips worked over there...kids traveled for sports or theatre or academic purposes to countries all over Europe and were housed by families whose children attended the International School there. When your child got on the plane/train/bus/ferry you most often didn't even have a host family name. If that wasn't enough to stress me out there was all that travel to worry about too...teenagers on planes, trains, buses, ferries...just the travel could make my heart pound in those early days. I haven't even mentioned the trips that didn't involve a host family at all but rather a few nights in a hostel or hotel. There would obviously be some structured time for the kids on these trips but they had free time to fill too which was typically spent exploring the city with a couple of their friends who were also traveling......no chaperone following you around...no group bus taking you out to sightsee...no head counting every half hour....none of what we were used to at home...just check in periodically with the teacher and be back in your host family home/hostel/hotel by something o'clock.

I think God knew that when it came to my children I might be a tough nut to crack in the area of trust and I'm not talking about me and them, I'm talking about me and Him. I can't say for sure how I would have handled the whole 'taking a child to college' event had I not lived overseas. I do know that before moving overseas I held tightly to my children in a way that might have become a cause for resentment in them had we stayed in our home town. As my husband pointed out the first time a 14 year old girl called and asked my daughter to go shopping in London, 'We barely allowed our kids to go to the mall on their own in a town we'd lived in for 9 years and now suddenly they're jumping on trains and subways and running all over one of the worlds biggest cities with just friends?' Strictly speaking they weren't 'running all over the city' but throughout our years living abroad they did navigate a whole lot on their own in many a foreign city.

Gradually in this environment it felt natural to allow my children to flex their muscle of independence....there were boundaries of course but they were wide...after all many English schoolchildren get themselves on and off the subway every day as a means of getting to school...if a ten year old can do it surely my 13 year old can too. The school itself had very high expectations when it came to safety and behavior and the teenagers, on the whole, lived up to that high standard. Every trip was a baby step for me and a rung in the ladder towards adulthood for them. Moving overseas removed my safety net...no more familiar places, friends whose parents had been our friends for years, whose beliefs/values/rules were pretty much like ours....all things I'd put my trust in to some degree when making decisions as a parent up to now. Suddenly everything was new, unfamiliar, and foreign in every sense of the word. I had to face my fears, live outside of my parental comfort zone and let go of the reigns, not to the point of risking their personal or emotional safety of course but in allowing them to move slowly into their adult selves with a mother who guides and assists instead of a mother who frets. Either God was in control or He wasn't...there would be no more sitting safely on the fence when it came to completely trusting Him with my children.

Today my girls are happily ensconced in university life. They are confident, independent compassionate souls who love the Lord and bring joy and happiness into my life in a way that defies description. Are they perfect? No. Are there lessons yet to be learned as they move through life? Of course. My hope is that they have seen in me, not a mother who was ruled by fear and worry but rather a mother who placed her trust in Christ and went where He led. A mother who heard God whisper two words- Trust Me...a mother who listened and got out of the way and saw God do amazingly more than anything she could have asked or imagined.


  1. You have SO much more trust than I could right now! When it comes to me, I'm fearless. When we discuss my kids ... not this much (despite what I commented on Kevin's blog "Shooting the Breeze").

    My daughter plays in an orchestra that has visited Paris. Since we can't afford that, I don't have to worry about sending kids off to foreign countries. Yet.

    (Oh Lord, help me trust you for the future!)

  2. Whew. I'm right in the middle of this. My 4 year old goes to school all day? She's too young! They are taking them on a class trip, all day, on a big bus?!?! I'm not good at trusting.

  3. Wow! It seems that we have a lot in common, Joyce. I am so in need of this lesson:

    "My hope is that they have seen in me, not a mother who was ruled by fear and worry but rather a mother who placed her trust in Christ and went where He led."

    Thank you for posting on the carnival!!

  4. I have moved from that season of college trust (I had very little) to the young adult trusting. It's different, but not easier. These are beautiful words - we know where our trust is the safest.

  5. That's the key:trusting in Him first before we can overcome all these fears that the enemy instill in a way...He just likes to rob our joy...So, thank you for reminding us to trust in the Lord...God bless.

  6. "My hope is that they have seen in me, not a mother who was ruled by fear and worry but rather a mother who placed her trust in Christ and went where He led." Amen! This is my hope as a dad for my three girls. Thanks for sharing your "trust" journey!

  7. I know so perfectly what you went through!! And that last paragraph is so well said, I wish the same for my girls! Thanks for this post, makes me feel so good, that there are other people out there that went through the same think I did/do!

  8. You obviously found a good balance between holding them close and letting go.

  9. What a great post Joyce.

    I would have been so fearful & would have prayed for a cancelled flight too. It's so good though that your family has had these wonderful life experiences.

    In my early 40's I began to have a much different relationship with the Lord. I began to trust in in ways I never had before. I know that came because I chose to spend time with Him and have intimacy with Him in a way I hadn't ever done before.

    Trust is the subject Beth Moore taught on at the conference in Oklahoma City I attended a few years ago. That very day the company my husband worked for had been sold and we weren't sure what was going to happen. I had such a peace as God spoke those very same words to me...."Trust me." God worked everything out for good.

    I'm still working on trust. I have a tendency to worry, but have to say trusting Him is much easier these days because I know He is in control. Rom. 8:28 says He works all things out for good.

    Thanks again. This was good!

  10. I don't have kids, but I can imagine this was a difficult experience.

  11. Another huge fan of this:

    ".......not a mother who was ruled by fear and worry but rather a mother who placed her trust in Christ and went where He led"

    I am approaching the years that you talk about with my two oldest boys. Both are starting to drive and will be heading off to college soon enough. When I start to let my heart/mind wander into the worry zone, I have to reel myself back and remember that the enemy loves to insert doubt. It's getting his foot in the door to convince us that God cannot be trusted in His promise(s).

    This post really is encouraging to me.....I might be seeking evne more of your wisdom and comfort soon enough!


    edited to add: How ironic (or God-ronic) is that my veri-word was "relying"?

  12. So glad I popped over here this morning. This echoes a prayer I breathed at 4:45 this morning when lack of trust drove me from my bed.

  13. Joyce, what a challenging post! I'm having so much trouble letting go, even with my college age children. Especially when I see them make choices that aren't necessarily wrong, but aren't all that wise either. Thank you so much for the reminder that they are His children as well as mine. And that I can trust Him.

  14. what a great post!! I came over from Big mama, and i have such a hard time trusting God with my lil ones protection, i get so overwhelmed with the scaryness of today!! thanks for reminding me who is really in control!! have a great day!

  15. Joyce,

    I think God knows that moms have a bigger issue with trusting their kids than most! It's hard to let go when we raised them from before they met their outside world. It's a slow and painful process and one I believe never truly goes away completely.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  16. I was going to point out the exact same thing Bridget did. OH HOW I HOPE FOR THAT TOO. Not ruled by fear...but trust.

    Great post. Thank you!

  17. Oh Joyce,

    This is something I definitely have a problem with. It's hard for me to admit, which I think is a pride issue, but I am admitting it. I want to trust God fully. Prime example in our lives: We are talking about and praying about sending our oldest to public high school when we move back to Michigan. Do you know how much that scares me? I just need to listen to that still small voice, trust, and obey.

    Though God challenged you in the area of trust with your children, I think you and your husband did great!

  18. beautifully said... what an example of a mother you are!