Practicing Parents



~by Christine Gough

Have you felt it? Has it threatened to take you “out back” and knock you down? Have your cheeks flushed red? The “this CAN’T be happening too me” moment? Weary? Faint? Overwhelmed?

Lately I have found myself at odds between my own expectations and the realities of daily life. I had a parenting vision of sunshine and roses and instead, sit with an obstinate, non-cooperative preschooler, wanting to make a scene myself. Battles wage as I negotiate behavior choices and opposing desires with my eldest. Weary? Check. Faint? Absolutely. Overwhelmed? Daily.

What moments add up to lead us to these places?

The Israelites seemed to come to a similar crossroads. They felt “far from home,” lacking hope, as if God had broken the covenant. In the past God had promised, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Yet they feel alone, forgotten and punished. The Lord proclaims that God will build them up again. That AGAIN, they will dance with joy and AGAIN, plant vineyards. That the Lord will come and give rest. That God will lead them beside streams of water on a level path. They will find comfort, joy and gladness, not sorrow and mourning.

In Jeremiah, the prophet wrote, “The LORD will create a new thing on earth—“. In hard moments, the promise remains….we, too, are on a journey. God promises to do a new thing. Restoration and hope are on the horizon, a new covenant. A continual cycle of forgiveness, renewal and reformation.

This process is a road sign, a guidepost for us as parents too (vs. 31: 21). Jeremiah says, “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take.” Sometimes these roads feel like uncharted territory. Like we took a wrong turn and are headed to an unknown, undesired destination. We long for a road map to Paradise. Google directions to Replenishment.


In my mind, it is a call to remember that we are on a continual cycle, an ongoing journey. Each year, from September to June, I see this unfold time and time again. As a teacher, we welcome new students on the first day of school, everyone a bit nervous, but usually filled with a big dose of excitement and anticipation too. The learning and hard work begin, the fixed mindsets threaten to take hold. Assessments and projects push the bonds and trust to the brink. Some days feel dark and never-ending, and others stand as guideposts and mile markers not soon forgotten. Somehow May rolls around and a quick descent into June’s report cards and end-of-the-year rituals. The cycle rotates again and again, a little reformation moment going deeper and deeper each year.


We were at the coast last week, and nothing feels quite as restorative as a winter whipped ocean. We braved a nasty storm, weaving our way to the ocean amidst strong wind gusts and cranky back seat travelers. Replenishment was to come in the morning, though. It didn’t arrive due to hours of deep, weekend restorative sleep, but rather, the ocean. After a morning swim in the pool, we took off for town, stopping along the way to check out the lighthouse. Our oldest pushed us to go all the way down to the shore to get a closer look. The tide was in close, waves crashing, rocks making music all their own. The enormity of the boys’ energy was dwarfed by the force and sound of the ocean. It’s power filled us too.

A friend of mine recently wrote of a similar experience, “I look out….upon the vast and mighty Pacific Ocean. The weather is stormy, the waves churning. I am captivated by this power because it causes me to consider afresh the One who set all of creation into motion and continues to be Lord of the wind and waves.”

The power of the One to keep creation in motion. Replenishing. Reforming. Renewing. A promise to pull us from moments of weariness to rest and restoration. Sometimes we need the eyes of the very ones that threaten to pull us under to see what is before us.


{Youngest, clearly captivated by the children’s sermon…Pastor’s Kids…}

Those same two that can leave me growling in frustration or red-cheeked with embarrassment can also point out the renewal that lies before my eyes. The harbor seal just beneath the surface, buffeted by the waves. The shell buried at my feet. The imagination waiting to let lose.




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