I have been absent from blogging for several months as the rest of my life has been quite busy. Since the beginning of February, I have been juggling home schooling a secondary student (high school) and a primary student, normal life, a fortnight’s mission trip to Cambodia, leading workshops on how to hear God’s voice and what to do with your prophetic word, turning 50, having a film crew film in our house for 2 days, having another child filmed for the 6 o’clock national news, having the local newspaper journalist and photographer visit several times to conduct interviews about home schooling and ‘2 Pairs Each’ (Matey’s sock project collecting 50,000 pairs of brand new socks for the homeless in Victoria), mentoring several women, Princess involved every day for a week in a production called ‘Broadway in a Week’, a massive de-junking/cleaning of our home and enjoying family life. Thus, things have been a bit chaotic in our household.
The film crew was from a production company that are filming 5 minute documentaries for a new series on ABC3 TV called “This is Me”. Princess (12) and Matey (10) were selected, along with about 30 other children from around Australia, to feature in these 5 minute segments about Australian children living different lives. One the film crew arrived at our home, they then decided to solely focus on Princess. It was a very interesting experience that brings its own challenges and delights and I am so glad to have our home back to normal now. Then last week, the channel 9 national news crew came and filmed Matey about his sock project he commenced last July. In less than 9 months, he has collected and given away 3,200 pairs of brand new socks to the homeless plus 1,221 items of warm clothing. A massive achievement (if I say so myself) for a then 9 year old boy, who turned 10 at Christmas.
The mission trip to Cambodia was a special time for Princess and I. When I was asked to go, I replied that I would only go if Princess could come to as I believe that one of the major roles in my life at the moment is the intentional mentoring of her. It was an amazing experience for us both. We had been to Cambodia before but for an entirely different ministry focus. This time, the rest of the team consisted of professionals from their mid 20’s to mid 30’s – doctors, accountant, engineer, etc. Princess coped amazingly well and fitted in perfectly. I loved seeing her lead workshops for about 18 people each time on self-esteem and identity and also to see her share her testimony and share the gospel on the University campus with university students and a translator. Princess loved building friendships with the Khmer university students and I am sure that it won’t be our last visit there.
I am definitely in a new season of my life. Even just having a (nearly) teenager in the house changes things. Long gone are the early years that are so full on and physically demanding with babies totally reliant on you for every single thing to survive. Now, things are still full on but not as physically demanding. Sure, our kids – Princess aged 12 (nearly 13) and Matey aged 10 are very self-caring physically and could virtually run a household. Emotionally they still very much need their parents around inputting emotionally and spiritually into their lives. Plus, they seem to be more active now and are requiring many car trips to transport them to their many sports and church activities.
I am constantly reminded of a friend years ago who used to share with us how we needed to be ready to drop everything and listen when our children are ready to speak, not when we are ready to listen. He would be in his office pouring over medical journals and one of his kids would meander in. He would ask them if they were alright and needed anything, to which they always replied no. After awhile he realised that if he stopped what he was doing and focused on them, they would pour out their heart and he just needed to give them his undivided attention.
I still remember as a teenager alighting from the school bus and hurrying inside to grab a snack. If mum was in the kitchen and asked how my day was, I would give her a lengthy reply of all the ins & outs of what happened during the day. Mostly the kitchen was empty when we entered it after school and by the time I had changed out of my school clothes and commenced the seemingly endless chores, I would wander to the cowshed where mum would greet me whilst milking the cows and enquire after my day. I can distinctly remember replying that “oh it was alright, nothing much happened”. Reflecting back on those days, I didn’t mean to tell mum all or nothing. It was purely whether or not she was in the right place at the right time for me to ‘unload’ all my thoughts and my processing the occurrences of my day on to her.
I feel like that stage is occurring currently in our home. I no longer seem to have the time to do all the extras that I want to fit in. So much currently revolves around the kids and when they need someone to listen. I savour those moments in the car when I have one of them on their own and they chat away about their thoughts, endless questions and desires, whether that is at 5.30am on the way to swimming squad training or a short trip to the shops or at 10pm at night on the drive home from Youth Group.
I am trying to be more intentional about stopping for them and really listening to them when they are ready to talk. They don’t necessarily operate on my time frequency when I am ready to sit and listen to them. If I want to be the one who hears their thoughts, desires, dreams, hurts, processing of their day and thoughts, then I am the one in the relationship who needs to adjust and be willing to give of myself when they are wanting to express themselves.
Are you in this season of your life? Are there any changes you need to make to be more available and adjust to your children’s emotional time clock than dictating what you want and need? When are your children indicating non verbally that they are wanting to talk? How do you draw the best out of your children and really listen to their heart?
I would love to hear any ideas or methods you employ so as to enable you to really hear what’s on your teenager/tweens heart and mind. Please feel free to share. Thanks.