Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Get Ready to Launch

Get Ready to Launch
By Brenda Black

On Mother's Day, I was lavished with dark chocolates and pink roses and two deeply emotional cards from my sons. I used to get hand made treasures and crayon scribbled notes that melted my heart. Then, the presents shifted to gifts of necessity rather than sentimentality – I got things like a fry pan or salad spinner. So this Mother's Day I was quite enamored with the bearers of such adoring gifts. First, that they remembered and got them without any prompting. Secondly, how sincere and mature their gestures seemed. Then again, I am now the mother of men, not boys.

While the sweet smell of flowers fills my home, another sensation overwhelms my faculties. It's more like a cold, cream pie – not awakening my taste buds, rather hitting me square in the face! One son has but a single year of college to attend and the other is presently graduating high school. This Mother's Day, there's not just a switch in the gifts, there's a paradigm shift in my life – from boys at home to an empty nest.

As I face a future void of smelly socks, I focus on more important items like whether I've succeeded at truly launching my children into the next phase of life. Did I L-A-U-N-C-H ( Love, Articulate, Understand, Nourish, Connect, and Hug) intentionally so that they are equipped to sail under red-sky evenings with pleasure and overcome any crashes due to red-sky mornings on their journeys?

Loving is easy, right? Certainly when they are new and cuddly and soft and cooey. Sure, I have loved when they made me laugh with innocent antics and silly songs and games. I loved when they were afraid or had a bad day and needed some encouragement. Loving came easy when they were sick or hurting. But did I love when they misbehaved or defied my authority? Was love on my mind when they caused me worry? Yes! Just as Paul addressed his brothers in Christ in Corinth, my love has often taken many forms as a parent. Sometimes love was a painful admonition. “I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4)

State, vent, utter, voice, enunciate, sometimes pontificate, but always articulate. As parents, we teach, preach, praise and scold with words. But the most important sound my sons needed to hear rang with perfect truth -- “...the words of the Lord are flawless.” When they were little, I challenged them to memorize Scripture. As they grew, we talked about application for every day occurrences. And now they hunger for more! In the midst of teaching them history, grammar, science and arithmetic, they also had appetites whetted for the Word that instructs and gives life. Yes, I articulated the Word that is eternal (Psalm 119:89), the Word that is a lamp and a light for their paths (Ps. 119:105), the Word that provides instruction and wisdom (Ps. 119:97). Now I articulate prayers that my sons will claim for themselves: “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” (Ps. 119:111-112)

Why do boys make funny noise? Why do they not see clutter? Why must boys wrestle next to the China cabinet? I never quite figured out the answers to all their masculine mysteries, but I tried my best to understand their need for activity and their blindness to neat and tidy. More importantly, I studied their individual personalities and learned to appreciate their differences and embrace their unique gifts and interests. I can now quickly decipher whether they are excited or nervous, scared or angry. I also learned how important it was to each of them that I understand what they were feeling.

The last half of the launch expresses ongoing love which carries great influence on our children and moves them beyond just the launch to keeping them afloat. Nourish their passions by encouraging pursuit. Connect at every opportunity as they grow and so do you. And Hug with great exuberance every time you meet or part! “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Ps. 127:3-4a)

When the nest is empty, my heart will still be full – full of wonderful memories, filled with God's promises spoken over my children, brimming with new understanding for all their uniqueness. I'll be fed with new excitement as I encourage their interests and blessed to keep the lines of communication open, especially when I get to embrace them each time they visit. God knows where their ships will sail. And I'll be here on the shore praying over their journeys and will keep the light burning just in case they ever hit rough waters.

May you find joy as your children mature. I pray you can look back with peace knowing you did your best by loving, articulating, understanding, nourishing, connecting, and hugging, so that you can look forward with confidence. If your greatest treasures are safe in the Lord, have no fear. Those you are launching will be prepared to go the distance and you will as well.

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