5 Questions About…Parenting Teens

Ok, so I know many of you don’t have teens, but you interact with teens, or you’ll raise teens someday or you’ve already raised teens and can add to this post in the comments section!  I’m super excited for you to hear from my wise, authentic, fun, friend, Molly Dykstra sharing on our “5 Questions About…” series.  You might recognize her from Wednesday’s post too :).

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1.  You are a parent I admire so much!  Can you tell us a little about your kids and their personalities?

Admire?!! I have three “kids” although they are really all young adults now (need to keep reminding myself of that.)

Mackenzie is 18, just graduated from High school.  She is articulate, insightful, outgoing, an organizer and initiator, can be impatient, has learned to love time on her own to recharge her batteries, loves photography and creating beautiful spaces.  

Clara is 16, going in to her junior year of HS.  She is open, adventuresome, empathetic (intensely), laser focused about things she is excited about, passionate, daring, can be indecisive, loves being at the cabin, and caring for kids on the margins.

Bennett is 12, heading into 7th grade.  He is charming, witty (funny!), thoughtful, talkative, prone to forget to pick up after himself, caring, gregarious, smart, loves lacrosse, skiing, and drumming up fun with his friends.  

2.  People look at your family and see an ideal, but I know parenting hasn’t been without its challenges (just like for anyone).  What have been the dynamics that have been most challenging to you as a mom?

Not so sure about people seeing an ideal in our family, maybe a collection of craziness!! Oh the challenging dynamics…. Lots and lots of personality/opinion/need to voice that opinion–not a quiet one among us which makes for many heated dinner table ‘conversations’ (when we are able to corral the troops), slammed doors, raised (?!!) voices clamoring to be heard; having two girls close in age–tons of comparison/feeling they ‘fall short’ vs. the other who ‘has it all’; having a home with tight quarters that can feed the intensity.

3.  What are the resources that have been most helpful?

Partnership. Being married to someone (Jeff :)) who ‘gets it’ (the emotional dynamics) and is willing and wants to talk things through, be intentional, roll up his sleeves and do it together.  

Friends. Spending time with/sharing in a vulnerable, authentic way with friends who are in the same life stage–getting past our well kept homes and conversation about our jobs and kids’ schedules and into the nitty gritty…gives us the sense (Truth) that we are not alone. 

Spiritual Disciplines. Being willing to do the hard work of taking care of myself (therapy, forced rest, time alone, capturing early morning as my Sacred time.)

Most “parenting” books have been the WORST thing for me (Ahhcckk!  We aren’t doing allowance/chore chart/family devotions/serving together/fill-in-the-blank well/consistently/at all!!)

Like Dew Your Youth: Growing up with Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson is the only book resource specifically about parenting that I would stand firmly behind.  I picked this book up off a shelf at a house where we were staying a few years ago because I didn’t get the title (it’s a reference to a psalm-something about how dew is fleeting, so is adolescence, etc.) and have read it over and over.  The premise is that going through the stage of having adolescents is about something WE, as parents, need in order to refine us and humble us and bring us back to a place of dependence on God.  Seriously.

4.  What have you learned about yourself and God in the process of walking alongside your kids through hard circumstances?

About myself: I am vulnerable to self-condemnation; I am prone to panic and try to do rather then pause and pray for strength and wisdom; I need my support crew–they don’t just need me; I am good at listening to my kids; I do not have answers/solutions/programs that work or stick or last, so it’s best to not put too much stock in those.

About God: He is near-even in the middle of the night when the overwhelm can be most intense-especially in His Words in the Psalms; He is shaping all 5 of us all the time–we are all in process; light does come again after dark, spring after winter– He carries us THROUGH things.

5.  What advice would you give parents of teens?

Trust that God is at work and will finish what He has started.  And know that, at the end of the day, you are loved and that doing the best you can (which is often not that great) is enough–He fills in the gaps.

5 Questions About…Infertility

IMG_0002Happy 4th of July!  As you read this, chances are I’ll be with my friend Cathy Wood, watching the parade, or fireworks or laughing about how we both could have been great spies.  There is so much I admire about Cathy.  Her ability to forgive hard things.  Her indomitable positive spirit. Her kindness, and listening ear.  We’ve been in a couples small group for about 25 years and she’s also one of the “7” girls, so I’ve been privileged to walk through a lot of life with her!  All of us either know someone or are someone who has wrestled with a dream to have kids, but an inability to make it happen.  I always benefit from her wisdom, so I’m thankful she agreed to share today!

1. What has been your experience with infertility?
We struggled with infertility and trying to create a family over about a decade.  Although this time is in the rearview mirror of my life, I can readily recall the cycle of doctor appointments, shots, temperature taking and miscarriages…periods of great hope and equally great despair. Thankfully, by the grace of God He brought us thru it all.  He has graciously put our family together thru primary/secondary infertility, adoption and natural birth.

2. What was the hardest thing for you while you struggled with infertility?
I think for me the hardest thing was believing that God was trustworthy and that I could trust him with the outcome. I could pray “ah yes this is a light and momentary trouble” but my heart was breaking. My borders defining God needed to be blown wide open. What did it mean to follow him? My current view wasn’t holding up. I kept thinking that God wanted me to do that “one thing” and then I’d get pregnant. Not sure what that one thing was but I kept trying to guess.

I spent lots of time staring at what I thought was a road block with blinking lights, razor wire and a sign that said ”keep out”. I could see others beyond the gate with children but I couldn’t get there. A turn away from this road to another path was dark and unknown. I had no idea what it would mean or require. I DIDN’T WANT TO GO! The decision really became do I go alone or with God? Slowly and gently (as I am stubborn), God turned my heart towards Him and then the road He had for us.

3. You have had children now, but what would you say to women who maybe are never able to conceive?                                                                                                  “I am so sorry” feels like the only one for me because no feeble attempt by me could make sense this side of heaven. God needs to handle that one. My sincere hope for them would be that they come to know and believe that God loves them and has not lost sight of them.

4. What advice would you give to those who are walking alongside women experiencing infertility?                                                                                                   It is a privilege and holy ground to be let into a person’s life at any time but especially when it is a painful season. Being a safe place to share deep emotions and process is a gift to another. I think it’s a way God redeems our own experiences. Pray, trust God and show up. He’ll do the rest.

5. What did you learn about God and yourself during your season of infertility?
Ha!  Well I would love to say I never doubted… that I have the gift of unshakeable faith but I don’t want to be struck by lightning! I tend to be a bit more of a rebel. What I learned was that God is gracious and merciful. When I began to seek Him, stumble after him and look for Him in the everyday, not just answering this big prayer, I discovered He was there and had been there all the time with small surprises of Himself, the love of friends, reminders of His grace and answered prayer in his time.

Additional Resources Cathy found helpful:

Disappointment With God by Phillip Yancey

If you liked this post, you might also like The Spiritual Discipline of Plan B.

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One Other Woman and Her One Word

I’m soooo excited to bring you a guest post today from Helen Jenkins!  We have become good friends because we are both heart-deep in World Vision – her from Windsor, UK, and me from Minneapolis.  I love her passion, her authenticity and her wit.  Today she shares her One Word experience.DSC00021

It all started when I began to live vicariously through Laura’s word from last year – FEAR or rather, FEARLESS. Brilliant idea I thought. I loved Fearless Friday where she blogged how her word had impacted how she had interacted with life that week. There were sometimes guest bloggers sharing THEIR word and how it was helping them grow and meet challenges that crossed their paths. Very inspiring!

I never came up  with my own word but I did begin to feel like one of the men in the Muppets – the ones that sat in the balcony enjoying the show, occasionally throwing in their two bits worth. Kind of felt like somehow I was participating … kind of … sort of …

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 Well, I couldn’t believe it when early on in her word challenge, if Laura didn’t up and step way out of her comfort zone and sign up for a half marathon – and she is/was NOT A RUNNER!! Whoa, I thought, from my armchair, this should be interesting! To top it off, she wasn’t even doing it for herself, but to help raise money for a clean water project for World Vision!!! Sure enough she huffed and she puffed and she trained for months and SHE DID IT!! Maybe I should get a word or maybe not … somebody might ask ME to run a half marathon.

Truth is, three years ago I moved to a new country, away from family, friends and my entire community. It was somewhat of a shock to my system and it has taken a while to recuperate but (did I mention it was three years ago?!) it is definitely time to get a move on. Perhaps this could be one of my steps to getting back in the swing of things. Continue reading

One Word and Clark Griswold

Back in January, (yep, it’s been a long time) we talked about choosing One Word for 2013 – a word that God might desire to expand in our life…grow us into.

 My word was Fearless, which gave birth to Fearless Fridays, because even if that wasn’t your word, we all deal with Fear in various forms.  

In January I also posted some thoughts from my brother, David, on this.  So the other day I asked him for an update.

I’d love to hear from you too!  What has your experience been with your One Word (if you identified one)?  If you didn’t, looking back now, what is one word that would summarize your 2013?  Post your thoughts in the comment section!

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Diving in on Fearless Friday

It’s Fearless Friday and I’m excited to share a post written by Carrie Gleeson, an awesome young leader who is developing disciples and mentoring student leaders on staff at our church.  I’m privileged to call her a friend!

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What does it look like to be fearless?

Well in my mind that’s somehow always equated with the high dive at Shady Oak Beach. I’m not even sure if the high dive still exists, but for me, as a kid spending her summers on Minnesota lakes, that was the Mount Everest of feats.

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Back in the day, there were 2 docks out in the deep of Shady Oak Lake (yes, it was that dramatic . . . for a 10 year old at least). Both docks stood about 20 feet above the water. One of the docks had a normal diving board. Perched on top of the 2nd dock was the high dive (insert scary, forbidding music here).. This diving board was another 10-15 feet in the air toppling over the surface of this cool Minnesota lake. Continue reading

Fearless Leaps and Little Steps

It’s Fearless Friday and we have a guest post.  I’m excited to let you hear from my intrepid, amazingly mature, thoughtful and articulate friend, Mackenzie Dykstra!  She’s a senior at Edina High School and is already shaking up her part of the world.  Enjoy!
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The word fearlessness has the connotation of something extraordinary; where one battles impossible tasks with incredible courage and bravery.  When I think of fearlessness I see a soldier on the front lines, or a young child fighting against cancer that’s wracking her body. I see people that have great challenges to overcome and that are brilliant through their darkest moments. In this past year I have realized that fearlessness is represented by all those things but it can also be the smaller acts that are done in the shadows that require as much courage and delight God just the same.

To be fearless is to take a blind leap of faith. Continue reading

Fear, Seasons, and Your Legacy

It’s Fearless Friday, and I’m so excited to introduce another guest writer to you!  John and I have had the privilege of walking alongside Kari and Matt Norman for several (10??) years now.  They are a remarkable young couple who lead authentic, examined lives of faith in Jesus.  You’ll see that from Kari’s words today!

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Last Wednesday my husband and I watched our twin boys climb up the school bus stairs, smile and wave through the window, and head off for their first day of kindergarten.  It was a marking moment, and one I’d envisioned in my mind’s eye many times.

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I had been holding it together so well!  Until the day before… when despite best efforts, I cried at the parent teacher conference when asked if this was my first child entering kindergarten.  I said, “Yes, my first, and my second.”  Pause.  “And my last, all at once.”  Cue the tears.  The teacher reached across the table, held my hand, gave me a look that conveyed genuine care, as well as a nod that seemed to say, “You can hold it together.  Really, you can!  Um, please…  can you?”

She didn’t know that I’d had six miscarriages along the way.  Continue reading