Our last week of Elementary school

I knew this week was coming. It’s been coming for eight years, and it is still hard for me to wrap my mind around this fact: It is my family’s last week of elementary school.

First day of Kindergarten 2009

My oldest child started elementary school eight years ago, and my youngest graduates from that same school this week. I can still remember that first day of school eight years ago. I can see clear as day my daughter sitting outside to be picked up that afternoon. My heart was so full seeing my baby sitting among all those big kids. It didn’t seem real. My youngest child was just a baby in the backseat then, and now she’s one of those big kids. That also doesn’t seem real. That school has been a huge part of our lives for 8 of the 11 years that we have lived here. It has been a huge part of my children’s growing up and also of my husband and I growing as parents.

It’s hard to realize that this stage of our life is gone.

A Mere Breath

The words from Psalm 39:4-5 echo in my head.

“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.”

We are but a mere breath.

So many years I sat in afternoon car line just counting down the years. Only six more years left to do this, four more years, two more years … and just like that, the breath is gone.

“The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.” Psalm 94:11

The days of those long afternoon car lines will now be just a memory. Many memories come with us as this chapter of our life closes – memories of sweet friendships, field trips, nights spent making valentines and costumes, presents made from hand prints, teachers that went the extra mile. 

Realizing that those beginning days are gone, realizing that my oldest child will graduate high school in only five years, realizing that these days with my children will surely end, makes TODAY all the more important.

These milestones remind us that our time with our children is but a mere breath.

“Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4

What Remains

Yes, these elementary years are gone for us now. 

But even though the years are gone, the results of those years remain.

The results are more than the memories and the first day of school pictures. The results are more than the report cards and art projects stored safely in drawers or scrapbooks.

The most important result of those elementary years are the children who stand before me today. 

Those years served to form their character, build their knowledge, and prepare them for the next stage in their lives. The years may be gone, but the result of how we spent those years remains.

An Example of Warning

Do you remember the Israelites in the Old Testament? When you read why God caused them to be taken into captivity, we see it’s because they did not use their years to follow God nor to teach their children to follow Him. Instead, they taught their children to follow after vain and useless things – things of the world around them. They did not prepare their children.

“They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.” 2 Kings 17:15

The Israelites lost God’s favor because they used their years with their children to follow vanity. In so doing, they themselves became vain…empty…a mere breath.

What remains after the breath is gone? What will be the result of the way we are using our years with our children? Will our results look like those of the Israelites?

We have the example of the Israelites as a warning not to waste these years with our children. When the years are gone, the results of the years will remain. Will the results be emptiness or will the results make us smile as we reminisce about all the years that got us there?

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17

Moving Forward

This week will be tough. I’m not going to lie – I will cry a lot.

The tears will come as I reminisce about the elementary years, remembering and being thankful for all the good. They will flow as I soak up every last memory.

Then I’m going to move on.

I still have a job to do. My job is to keep my children seeking God. My job is to make sure we don’t waste our years following things that won’t last.

We are but a mere breath.

This milestone in my family’s life is a reminder to make the most of today. The years will certainly pass by. What will remain when the years are gone?

 It all depends on what we do with them.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16


Mama Bear

 My children love to ask questions like If you were an animal, what would you be? Recently one of my children asked the others “What animal would Mom be?” Without hesitation my oldest child answered that Mom would be a bear. “What? A Bear?” I asked her. “Yes,” she said, “you know, like Mama Bear who doesn’t let anyone mess with her cubs.” I had never thought of myself as a bear, but a Mama Bear? Ok, yes, I’m ok with that. That describes how I feel about my children and my life, and I’m glad they know I will take care of them. But you know what?

Mama Bears get tired.

Changing Seasons

Some seasons are more tiring than others. Defending my cubs this year has been exhausting.

I hear Satan knocking at our door all the time. When we don’t open the door, He tries to sneak in through various means – media, friends, school. Sometimes we unintentionally bring him in ourselves.

I knew this year would be tough. My children are in three different schools and the oldest started middle school, but I didn’t realize just how challenging that would be. I am emotionally drained from trying to keep my children performing to their potential academically while still keeping them healthy physically and spiritually.

My oldest child went from receiving the top honor at her school in 6th grade to absolutely hating school in 7th grade. The words “I hate school” were uttered for the first time at my house – often by Mama Bear along with her weakened cub.

I have questioned whether this lifestyle is what God intended for us. It has been a struggle.

A Daily Fight

We lost our morning Bible time together due to the pull of getting three children to three different schools on time. This Mama Bear has fought all year for spiritual time with her cubs. Between working nights and various activities, it has been hard. I have tried several ideas which have failed. It is still a daily struggle.

I have began most days by praying that God would help me to see if this is the life He intends for us.

I’m still not sure.

My children have some amazing gifts. I struggle with how to help them best use those gifts.

My daughter took the ACT and scored only one point less than I did when I went to college. She’s twelve years old.

I don’t even know what to do with that.

I look at all the material and options that come her way, and I want to make sure she has chances to grow. The pride of life is a struggle (1 John 2:16). I fight Satan in my own self when I seek the safety of my daughter’s future in her academic abilities. That’s what Satan wants me to do. He wants me to focus on what this world can give her instead of making sure that she knows the One who created her and gave her those abilities. That’s how he sneaks in.

The school year is almost over, and I’m so thankful for a break. I want to reel my cubs in and spend some time nurturing and loving them in the safety of our home. We’ve had a lot of good in our year as well, but right now I’m just so tired of fighting off Satan.

I know it’s not over. Satan never takes a break – not even in summer. Another school year will loom ahead of us before we know it. What I will do with it, I don’t know yet. I have lots of praying to do.

Don’t Give Up

But Mama Bears don’t give up. We don’t lie down and let the predator have our cubs. We do what we have to do to protect our children. We make changes and adjustments as the needs of each season dictate. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I am tired, but I’m not giving up. And I’m not alone. My husband is with me, of course, but we both rely on the larger power of God to get us through.

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:7-10

I trust in God and His promises. He loves my children and wants them to know and love Him, too. He has done so much for us, and I know that He cares.

I have turned to God so many times during this year. I have humbled myself and shed many, many tears. Mostly I just pray “Please help me.” He promises to lift me up. He will help this Mama Bear defend her cubs. I know that He wants them safe as much as I do. Keeping my children out of Satan’s influence is an exhausting job, but it’s mine and my husband’s to do. I wouldn’t trust it to anyone else. And I would never, ever attempt it without God behind us.

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Psalm 127:1


When I feel defeated in my parenting…

I recently went on a band field trip with my 7th grade daughter. I was looking forward to supporting her and spending the day with her. Middle school girls, however, are complex creatures. There’s a whole lot going on in that 12-year old body, with thoughts and feelings that she doesn’t understand. I knew my daughter wasn’t thrilled that I was going with her, but it wasn’t until I was stuck on the bus with her that I realized how much she really didn’t want me there. Her actions clearly said that she was not comfortable with my presence. She just wasn’t herself. She was distant and impolite, not just to me, but to another mother and daughter as well. My child was a stranger, and as a parent I just felt defeated.

I felt like everything she had been taught was gone. The child that I generally have a great relationship with was gone. She had been replaced by this person who didn’t act the way she’d been taught to act. She had been replaced by someone who didn’t want anything to do with me.

After the trip I cried and prayed, and by the time my daughter came home from school I was almost ready to talk to her. She walked in the door and started chatting just like her usual self. And just like that she was back – the child that I know. She didn’t understand why I was crying. “What’s wrong, Mom?” she asked.

What’s wrong is that I feel like a failure. I don’t understand how my daughter could push me away all day and then think everything is fine. I just want our usual relationship back. I’m tired and overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do, and I feel defeated.

Choosing to Love

And then I remember how much I love this child.

I look at her and remember how God has loved me through my own growing and changing. He loved me even when I didn’t understand what I was doing. He showed me grace even when my actions said  “I don’t want You here.”

I choose to love my daughter the way that God has loved me. I put aside my hurt and disappointment…and I forgive.

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15

I remind my daughter of who God created her to be. I remind her of what her actions should be. Settling for less is not an option, and I will not give up on her. I love her too much.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I let her know that while her actions disappointed me, I still love her and always will. For that is exactly what God has done for me. He has shown His love to me again and again, even when I ignored Him and pushed Him away.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 The Perfect Example

My children will never be perfect, and I will never be a perfect parent. It’s not my job to be perfect. It’s my job to love and guide my children even when they don’t want my presence and guidance. My job is to constantly remind them of who God created them to be – with the same grace and patience that’s been shown to me.

When I feel defeated as a parent, I will not give up. I will follow the perfect example set by my heavenly Father.

I will love my children anyway.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10