Wow! Over 700 of you entered a comment to win either my book or the one-year subscription to P31 Woman Magazine! I wish I could give each one of you a prize! The drawing was tough! We put numbers in a bowl, drew one out, and counted down through the comments.
The winners for An Untroubled Heart are:
Alicia Figueroa email@example.com
Tara craig firstname.lastname@example.org
Winner of the One-year subscription is: Melissa Scott email@example.com Congratulations girls!!!
I also realized from many of your comments that my magazine article was not yet posted on the Proverbs 31 site. My apologies. I’ve added it below for your convenience. Enjoy!
An Open Heart
When my children were born, I knew that their relationships, choices, successes and failures would shape their lives. What I didn’t realize is how ordinary childhood experiences would create such extraordinary dreams—dreams that grip so tightly they ruin a child for anything less.
God plants dreams in the heart to guide children toward their purpose in life. Look at this promise. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will guide you with mine eye” (Psalm 32:8). As a parent, it’s my job to support and encourage my child’s dream no matter how scary, strange or impossible it may seem. The Bible instructs, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6b). Training a child involves teaching them what pleases the Lord, and helping them identify their strengths, passions and talents that point them in the way they should go. Training a child in this manner takes a both an open heart and mind.
When my daughter, Peyton announced at the age of four that she wanted to live in China after learning about the culture in church, I was surprised. “When I grow up, I’m going far, far, away and tell people about Jesus,” she stated with confidence.
Knowing that Peyton wants to share Jesus with others brought me great joy. In fact, my “proud parent- meter” hit an all time high that day. Still, as good as that is, the thought of Peyton living on the other side of the world pulled at my heartstrings. Her desire to serve God was terrific. I just rather she do it closer to home. Thinking about her living so far away filled me with a sense of loss. Then, all at once, I had a comforting thought. Surely, this is just a childhood phase she’ll soon grow out of.
I’ve never been more wrong. Over the years, God broadened Peyton’s love not only for China, but for the entire Asian culture. At the age of eighteen, she cooks Asian food, eats with chopsticks, is learning the language and owns her own kimono. Walking into her room is like entering another country without the hassle of customs, a passport or jet lag. It’s clear. My daughter’s all-consuming passion isn’t going away. There is only one thing to do—support her dream with an open heart. That means her dad and I have to invest in her interest even if it doesn’t interest us.
An Open Home
Having an open heart led to opening our home to a Japanese exchange student this year. It all happened quickly. One evening, Peyton told us about an organization that matches American families with a foreign student. Three nights later, a Youth For Understanding agent sat in our home explaining the process. Before we knew it, we agreed to host a student from Japan for an entire year.
It may sound drastic, but for me it was no different than supporting our eldest son’s love of drums or our youngest son’s love of baseball. Besides, we pray diligently about our children’s futures and find comfort in God’s Word: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3: 5-6). Who knows best the path for our children other than their Creator?
The question my husband and I had to ask ourselves was, “What do we believe?” If we believe God directs our children by planting dreams in their hearts, then we have to let go and allow them to follow their passions. Not doing so is like telling God I believe He has a purpose for my own life, but not yielding my will to His. Since my greatest desire is for my family to follow God’s plan, I have to lead by example. I have to yield my will and dreams for my child in order for God to accomplish His.
A Closer Family
I’m glad we invested in Peyton’s dream. Otherwise, we would have missed knowing a special Japanese girl named Hitomi, and a whole lot more. Everything about America and the American family is new to Hitomi. Her first go-cart ride, her first day of school in America, her first Thanksgiving and Christmas, her first snowfall—it is all brand new! Our family has had tremendous fun sharing these experiences with her. In fact, Hitomi has refreshed life for us as we witness it through new eyes. That’s not all. Her curiosities about our traditions and faith have brought us back to the dinner table where conversation and laughter continues long after the meal is gone. We have grown closer as a family and gained a new family member too!
Best of all, I’ve seen my daughter in a new light. I see a more confident young woman with a clearer purpose in life. I see a caring and sacrificial heart, a willingness to bridge the gaps between cultures, and a desire to follow her God-given dreams wherever they may lead. Peyton has also gained a sense of value that often comes from the gifts of trust and support, and is now more open with us about her life than ever before.
When parents support their children’s God-given dreams, you get what you’ve always wanted – a strong, loving and healthy relationship with your child.