Chris and I had the chance to attend the Catalyst Conference in Dallas last week. It is always a breath of fresh air to get away with Chris, but the conference was so good too. All the speakers were fantastic and I am sure I’ll be talking more about what was shared over the next few weeks. Reggie Joiner spoke on how time is limited, our time with kids is so short. He said something about giving new dads a suitcase to place in their baby’s nursery reminding them that one day that suitcase will be packed and gone. That tiny baby will be moving out.
Later that night Chris and I talked over dinner about luggage and the days ahead when we will watch our kids move out. I really don’t care about the physical stuff that they will pack. What kind of jeans they’ll shove in a suitcase. What the thread count of their sheets for the dorm room will be. None of that stuff really matters to me. What I do care a great deal about is the intangibles I hope they will take with them. I don’t care to raise kids that know what is ‘cool’ when they leave my house. I do care about raising kids that leave my house as men and women of character and substance.
Intangibles are a hard thing to narrow down. I could list a million little things I hope for, like the lyrics of a country song. And yet, I know there are only a few things that I can really focus on…can really work on instilling in them. Right now my kids are young and they are looking out at their future like it is a long distant road. But all to soon, they will look back at me, pick up their suitcases and begin down a road that is marked just for them.
Chris and I are still working through our list of things we hope they pack in those suitcases, but we have some nailed down…
To love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength
To love others as themselves
To choose courage over comfort
To be hospitable, gracious
To be confident in their identities
To value wisdom over smarts
To be brave, knowing that some of life’s greatest gifts involve the risk of pain
To embrace the bittersweet
To laugh and laugh often
That is just a snippet of our list. Making a list is the easy part…putting in the time and attention to actually make it possible for our kids leave our home with these things…that is a whole lot harder. Ultimately they will make their own decisions, their own choices, choose their own paths. Nonetheless, if we don’t work to model and teach certain things to them we leave it up to chance that they will gain those things elsewhere. The greatest things in life require work though. This is the stuff that makes parenting exciting and scary at the same time. Wisdom. Intention. Patience. Time. Hope. And letting go.
And on a lighter now, FireCracker saw us taking pictures and she wanted to pose for some. I hope her spirit is nurtured in our home and when she leaves she still has that strong spunk and sweetness that oozes from her.
I have a feeling when she leaves, she’ll make this exact face again…ready and excited for an adventure.