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i can’t save them.

this parenting thing!!!
it’s the most bizarre challenge!
we want our kids to succeed and we try to help them but they don’t want our help.
except when they do… so you can’t quit offering.
you tell them everything you think they need to know and they don’t have to listen.
you can bring them to church their whole lives and they still don’t have to believe what you do.
you can tell them over and over how wonderful they are and they can still hear something else in their head.

why did God give ALL of us free will?  why not just the grown ups?!

we can’t compare our kids to anyone else’s because every family is different.
and we know that no family is perfect – no matter how it may look on the outside.
but sometimes... doesn’t that seem not true for some people?
like that some families are the exception and they ARE doing everything right?
it’s as if they have a secret way to raising kids that always works.

when our kids are little the problems we face are usually pretty fixable.
potty training… picky eaters… poor sleeping… tantrums… sassy talk.
there’s a solution or ways to make it better.
you get to control where they go, what they do and how they do it for almost a decade.
it feels manageable, safe and even measurable – maybe not at the time but looking back those are the words i think of.
then they get older and often it feels like there is no longer anything that is fixable!
the issues are so big!
and potentially life altering on nearly a daily basis!
with teenagers the things you deal with on any given day could include: driving, snap-chatting, dating, faith, sex, drugs, alcohol, suicide, curfews, clothing choices, hormones, depression, anxiety, friendships – to name just a few.
it is a completely different ball game!

there are times when i have no clue what i am doing!
times where craig and i will just stare at each other saying “what should we do?”
i pray “help us guide these kids Lord” over and over.
i need to give God the reins.
i don’t want to be consumed with worry.
i want to trust that God is big enough to handle it all.
and in my heart i know that He is but i definitely struggle with worry and guilt and doubt.
i have to give it over to Him every day.
or at least every day that i remember to give it over and don’t keep it – because i am too busy worrying!

it’s hard to truly grasp that i can’t keep them from messing up.
i cannot save them.
(of course i can’t – i can’t even save myself! thank you jesus for saving me!)
i have to remember that a huge part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them!
how can they know how failing feels if we never let them fail?
how can they trust themselves if we make every decision for them?
how can they learn to get back up if they never get knocked down?
the struggles they face, the things they wrestle with, the choices they make – the good and the bad – are all part of their story.
through those experiences my hope is they learn that God loves them no matter what.

if i have all the answers then i don’t need Jesus.
so i have got to let go and rejoice that I DO need Him and that He’s with me as a mama!
He is with my kids through all the ups and downs they go through whether they realize it or not.
i can’t forget that yes they are my kids but not really – they are God’s!
i have the privilege of being their mom.
but He created them and loves them more than i ever could so seriously i have GOT TO STOP worrying!
my job is point them to jesus.
i have failed so many times at that but thankfully there always seems to be another opportunity to try again.

I’ve been reading this scripture on repeat and praying it over my kids:

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.  I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit – not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength  – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.  And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.  Reach out and experience the breadth!  Test its length!  Plumb the depths!  Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 
God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working with in us, his Spirit deeply and gently with in us.”  Ephesians 3:14-20 The Message

this is helping my heart as i parent five teenagers/young adults.

what i want the most for my kids is a relationship with Jesus.
i can trust that no matter where they go they can find Him.
it doesn’t have to be in the way i think it should be or in my timing – god knows everything about them!
they don’t have to be in a certain occupation or youth group or college or church.
those things are not barriers for God.
He makes himself seen absolutely everywhere so i can rest in the fact that He is there with them – everywhere and anywhere!

and i will keep praying for them to open the door and invite Him in.

D - <3 U

jo - Meg, Timely post with a lot of young people heading off to college at the time of year. Sometimes we think we’ve given them all the tools and foundation and yet they will still will make wrong choices. We have to make sure we stay connected to them and let them know how much we love them. Thanks for the reminder that we can’t take it all on our shoulders….

Stephanie Johnson - Thank you so much for this post. This momma’s heart really needed to hear it right now. I struggle with these same things SO much! And this summer seems to have been harder than ever. Thank you for the reminder that God is in control & there is no barrier that He can not overcome

Liz - Hi! What’s funny about this post is that I often see your family as the one that is “doing it all right”; that is “perfect”!! I have 5 and 6 year-old boys, and I hope and pray every day that I am raising them to be able to successfully navigate the challenges they will face. I know it won’t be perfect, but one can hope 🙂

jennibell - “how can they know how failing feels if we never let them fail?
how can they trust themselves if we make every decision for them?
how can they learn to get back up if they never get knocked down?” Ugh. THANK YOU for this. I know you’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to write about your kids and “teenager” things because it’s so personal. I get it. My oldest is younger than your oldest and my youngest is older than your youngest so I’m right there in with you (minus one). Thank you for sharing and showing me that I’m NOT alone and pointing me to MY Father who created them, loves them (and me), and for some unfathomable reason gave them to US to raise in His love. It’s overwhelming. And such a privilege. And I worry so much that I’m not doing it “right”. And then I see that others have the same insecurity and know that we need to bond together, pray together and never stop. You and your blog are a blessing to me Meg.

Danielle Flaming - TRUTH! Wow! Loved your words! May we all keep our eyes on Him!

Jennifer Greeley - What a wonderful scripture to read. I’m saving it. I’m on the verge of the teenage years and I can so see how this is going to help.

shelly - Yes. Yes. Yes!!! This momma to 3 teenage boys feels the same way but couldn’t have expressed it as so eloquently as you did. Thank you!!!

Se7en's Fabulous Fun Post #352 - se7en | se7enSe7en's Fabulous Fun Post #352 - se7en - […] Parenting teens… Oh Meg Duerksen on Whatever has a way with words: I Can’t Save Them. […]

Kellie - So much this! We are preparing to send our only child off to college next week and I am worried about ALL of the things. I pray she makes good choices, I pray she hears all of my warnings about safety, I pray that she wakes up for class on time! Parenting big kids is so hard. Change is so hard.

Kristen Kerwin - Been following you for-like-ever…and your parenting posts are some of my favorites. Because you say that things that I can only whimper out…and you encourage me always! (And I love your heart / home / rainbows / and so much more) Thank you for this incredibly timely reminder (well, I need this DAILY!) that God holds our kiddos close, and us as well. But I’m with you on that ‘free will’ thing…can’t it kinda be more of a “25 and up” thang? 😉 Praying over both of our mommy hearts!

Cheri - Great thoughts, Meg! You know what they say…little kids, little problems…big kids, big problems. I’m in what they call the sandwich generation:). We have 4 adult kids, 6 grandchildren, and ailing parents. We are always taking care of someone:). Life was sailing along beautifully…all 4 kids were making great decisions. College, good jobs, great husband choices, adorable grand babies. Then our son got addicted to pornography, and our youngest daughter decided to close up her bible and walk away from Jesus! I felt like I’d fallen off a cliff. Really hard stuff. We have learned so much these past 10 years…yes, it’s been a long journey! I remember my son’s counselor telling us that it was going to take a long time to get him where he needs to be…I remember telling my husband that this whole nightmare may take up to a year to fix!!! Im glad now I didn’t realize that it would take more like 10 years!!!Thanks to Jesus and Pure Life ministries, our son is leading an overcoming life, but we still have a prodigal on our hands! Keeps us on our knees:). My husband and I have made it through some very tough years only because of Jesus. One day when I was stewing and worrying and trying to manipulate a situation, God whispered to me, “you’re not trusting me”! It’s quite freeing when you realize that God’s got this and He loves your kids more than you do! I’ve read your blog for some time now…your going to make it!

Ingrid - You have no idea how much I needed this post. Just now I am struggling with parenting a teen. I worry, yell, fret, love, and try to get it right. Often I forget to hand it and him over to God. Parenting, it’s not for cowards.

Christine - Dear Meg, as a fellow saved by grace mama of six kids ranging from ages 21-5. I completely feel you in your heartfelt post. Our oldest was a hard young child and a pretty easy teen who is married and serving God today. Our 2nd is a whole other story. This boy put us through it for 3 long years. He is living for God now, a real blessing and makes us beyond proud. A couple of take-aways from our experience with that whole experience was: 1. God’s grace on us as we felt so alone and like such failures. On our son to bring him back and forgive him. 2. To see other parents differently. No one is perfect and even the best of us can have wayward children. Like you said even if we do our best, they still have free will. 3. My commitment to my savior. Nothing makes you look at your own heart and walk with God than adversity. Do I believe what I say? Why do I believe that? Is it worth the fight? The time on my knees?
I see now that all of those nights of being woken from sleep to lay a hold of God for our son were very well worth it. The stands I made no matter how it may have affected my relationship with our son (at that time), worth it. The…you get the picture.
Hang in there, my fellow mama. You and your hubby are doing the right thing. Stay on your knees for your babies no matter how old they are. God hears your prayers. He wants them saved more than you. He has a way of getting the attention of our kids. Don’t give up or compromise. They are watching, seeing if it (your relationship with God) is worth it…something they can give their lives for.
I will be praying for you and your babies. Can’t wait to one day read your testimonies of answered prayers.
Golly, this ended up being a long comment…sorry.

Sara - I like this…I like you. I like that you are willing to type out what most moms are going through. Trust and prayer are what we have. We just have to remember how powerful both are. Prayers for your heart.

Tina - Oh my. What a perfect post. We are having some hard times with our teens right now and it only seems HARD and I have to constantly remind myself to not compare ourselves to other families who seem to be doing everything right and enjoying their teens and relishing the “joy” of their big kids while we’re over here STRUGGLING. Several months ago, I commented on another post you had written about mom things and how lonely it was parenting a teenager with difficulties. You sent me a private email that I saved and have referred to it many times. Thanks for your wise words yet again. Sure I’ll save this post too;-)

Jen - Boy, if this isn’t the truth as a mother of 4 boys (3 already adults) I often tell my husband THIS is the hardest part of parenting!! I wasn’t prepared for them to be adults, I long for the days of feetie pjs, pb&j, and cartoons!

Ruth - After a rough parenting Monday, (Children ages: 17, 15, 12 and 1) this was exactly what I needed to remember. Thank you Meg. May God bless us all in this journey…

patti-rae redekopp - AMEN!!!! Praying for your and your family. Thank you for being transparent and real. May God meet you right IN this .. Lean IN.. Just Be Held. Trust. HE ALWAYS HAS YOU. In the chaos..HE IS CALM.

Lauren - Long-time reader…thanks for being honest and sharing your thoughts and your heart here.

Kelly - So much yes!!! Great post! ❤️

Kathy Leach - A post for every parent….no matter how old our “kids” are. It never ends and the worry is constant. Thank you for this!

Lisa - Meg – one more thing. I just went of Chuck Swindoll’s daily devotion for 08-07-2017 and he ALSO quoted the Ephesians Bible verse! On the same day…check it out! 🙂

Andrea - Timely words! Raising teenagers is so hard and I needed to be reminded to keep turning them over to God. Thank you!

Lisa - Oh boy …… I’m so thankful to have found your blog. ( years ago!) You speak right to the heart of the teen-rearing mom! Thank you for being open and reminding us to follow the Lord – the creator of our children!

Praise | Chica Chick - […] a quiet moment this morning I read this blog post. By the time I made it to the bottom of the post my heart was in prayer. Thanking God for the […]

Elisa - I should also add that it’s hard to look back on old blog posts- to days when life was more simple but also a lot more work with younger kids. I miss those days.

Elisa - I skated through the teenage years pretty easily with my first one but my 2nd one is giving me a run for my money. I worry, I cry, I drink wine….
and wonder how I will make it through 3 and 4.

No words of wisdom, just wanted to let you know I am right there with ya.

Hugs mama!

Kate S. - Respect your kids’ decisions. Just because YOU need faith in your life to sustain yourself, doesn’t mean any of them ever will. Some people do just fine on their own. If I were your child and I read this post, beseeching “the lord” to help me, I would feel unheard, misunderstood, and as though my mother didn’t respect my life choices.

Sabrina - My kids are so little right now and there are days we wish they would be potty trained, not throw tantrums, eat all their food, play nice… But then my husband and I tell each other, With Big Kids come Big Problems! So we are trying to not wish these days away either. I know the problems and worries teens today face and I know they will be there in 10 years and maybe worse. I just keep praying the Lord will guide me as a mom and watch over my children as they grow. Thanks for your words!

Alice H - You hit the nail on the head! I think what frustrates me most is people with their dumb advice when they try to act like it is the parents fault for what their kids are doing or that a good ol’ butt whooping is what will do the trick. I made lots of mistakes as a young teen. It was hard but I got through them. Even as an adult, I have my mess ups. Sorry for whatever you are going through at this time.

Hannah Warren - oh my! i so needed this right now! i worry about my teen all day every day and probably lecture her way more than i should because i am so scared of her making wrong choices! AHH! teens are so fun but sometimes i miss the days of no naps and sippy cups. i thought i was stressed then! HA! thank you for keeping it real!!

Lorri - Oh, that pesky free will! You are so very right, Meg. One of the hardest things we can do as parents is let our kids make their own decisions and do their own thing – and reap the natural consequences of their actions. Sure, it’s great when it’s great. But when it’s not, and it leads to setbacks, disappointments, fractured relationships … ug. Those ups and downs can bring us closer to God, and that is where we belong. Best to you and yours, Meg.

Lori H - Meg, I have followed your blog forever…you were one of the first blogs I followed! And it never fails that you have interesting, relevant and also fun things to impart. But today..TODAY you have posted exactly what this mama needed to hear. And also to hear that you are going through some of the same things I am. Thank you!! I plan to read this post again soon (and again) and to print out that scripture from The Message to remind me.

Kimberly Dial - Meg, this post was so on point with a decision that was made in my family just today that I know it’s not a coincindence that I acutally decided to get on Blogger today to read a few of the blogs I follow (yours being one of them)something I hadn’t done in forever. That you for sharing this. You’re right, worry is not the answer (but oh so hard to avoid) but point them to Jesus is the answer. I’ve followed you for years and have enjoyed your blog but today, the Lord used you to bless me and provoke me to thought. Thank you 🙂

Kelly Krause - Right there with you! Every day I feel like a failure. Like I am not doing this job well enough. Like other Moms and families are doing so much better. That a Christian family should only look one way. That maybe it’s too late to influence my big ones…but I know better. I get compliments about my kids’ character all of the time. They are making godly decisions. I often fail to see the positives. But oh, #givemeallthepreschoolers!

Dena - Really great post. Thank you

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