Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
Mark 4:36 (NIV)
As she reads Mark 4:36-19, I listen intently. At first, the first word lingers: “Leaving…” Jesus is leaving the crowd behind.
She reads the passage again. I move with her this time.With Jesus.
I feel the wind, the cold air blowing on the disciples, as they leave safety behind, heading into a storm, one not of their own making.
Where is Jesus? Asleep? Of all things. In the back of the boat.
Anger arises. Doesn’t he know—or worse—doesn’t he care? They are in danger! Their very lives hang on the mercy of wind and water.
Or on Jesus.
Jesus. Don’t you care? I’ve left the crowds for you. Am I in danger now? Are you really sleeping?
I’ve heard the story before. So many times. I know what happens next.
But I listen again. A third reading. This time takes me beyond. It’s no longer just a story of historical facts, of Jesus’ commanding power over nature.
Now it’s an invitation.
To me from him. I take it personally.
The winds and the waves may splash, soaking me in an angry torrent. But is there a safer place to be than traveling with Jesus?
Even when I’m not sure where we’re going.
Even when I think he’s sleeping.
He’s still in control. Of me.
Peace, O soul. Be still.
I shiver again, this time in awe at his supremacy, appreciating the authority behind his words, imagining what they meant to his followers on that journey, knowing what they mean to this follower on mine.
Oh, the grace. Oh, the freedom.
If Jesus is with me, I’ll leave behind my comfort.
If Jesus is with me, no tempest can shake my grip.
If Jesus is with me, calling peace, I’ll be still and receive.
I yield to his command.
My soul settles into the quiet, the stillness, on this peaceful side of leaving.Regardless of my new destination, my passage is secure—I’m journeying in the boat with Jesus.
I’ll stay the course.
Instead of rereading the words of the story that changed lives then—“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”—and changes lives now, she invites us to talk of them. To keep the conversation going between Father and child, between brothers and sisters.
I pray for her, my new friend. Another new friend prays for me. He whispers words in silence for my journey of leaving, yet traveling in safety with Jesus, for staying the course.
In such stillness, there is peace.
I am still. He is my peace.
* * *
The Bible story is an invitation. Don’t just read it. Take it personally. Keep the conversation going.
When I dreamed of marrying Jeff, I practiced writing what my new name would look like: Mrs. Lisa Burgess. When a bride takes on her husband’s name, it’s symbolic of a oneness like no other.
What about when the church, the bride of Christ, takes on His name?
Are we wearing His name well?
Don’t take a poll. You’ll be disappointed. Our ratings as Christians are poor. For too long we’ve been a bad taste in the mouth of the world. Many may like our Christ, but not everybody likes His followers.
We ran into each other again at Manna House a few Wednesdays ago. It’s where we usually see each other these days.
Cowboy and I first met in his homeless camp. From first glance and first conversation, I knew Cowboy was rich in life stories.
When I couldn’t believe he was as old as he said—he didn’t look his age—he volunteered his ID to prove it. But as the stories added up, I knew he had lived many years. How else can you squeeze so much living into one lifetime?
The past several months he’s been promising me a book. One that he’s been writing. It’s about his life.
I definitely want to read Cowboy’s book.
But Cowboy doesn’t always get to the library to type up his tales on the computers there. His health isn’t as great as it used to be. And his years continue to add up.
Will I ever get to read his book?
I’ve read a lot of books in my life. But I haven’t read enough yet. There are more books I have yet to read.
Because there are more sides of God I have yet to see.
Each life tells a story. Each life shows a different side of God. Cowboy’s life shows a side I didn’t grow up with. Perhaps more troubled. Rougher around the edges. Yet protective and gentle, also in unique ways.
If Cowboy never gets his book finished, I hope I’ll continue running into him at Manna House or the library or occasionally at a mutual friend’s funeral.
I can listen, even if I can’t read. He can talk, even when he can’t write.
On the last Wednesday we talked, Cowboy and Susan needed a ride back to their homeless camp (they’ve since moved into an apartment of their own again!). We dropped them off at the edge of their woods.
As they walked deeper into the woods, deeper than we could see, I thought again about Cowboy’s future book full of his past stories.
Even if I never get to read them, Cowboy’s stories have already enriched my stories. His life has enriched mine.
• How to Make Time Go Slower
Sometimes I wish we could actually make time go slower. But at least we can help it feel slower. Sort of. (Hint: Do something new today.)
• Where Do You Park Your Car at Church?
Jeff likes to park in the most distant spot. (He’s a parking lot attendant at church, so that partially explains it). Here are some suggestions for making church more welcoming.
• People Who Read More Are Nicer?
That’s what they’re saying here. “According to research, people who read more—specifically fiction—tend to display more sociable behaviors and are more empathetic.” Maybe I need to read more novels.
My kids do grownup things. They have jobs. They have husbands. One already has a child.
Why would they need their mama now?
My parents have been gone for nine years. I still wish they were here. We would always like to have good parents with us, yes?
Yet as adults, we don’t need our parents in the same way that we needed them when we were children. That’s where it gets sticky.
I read lots of books on child-rearing when my girls were small. I wanted to do things the best way, the right way, God’s way.
As they grew older, the books I read changed. No longer about parenting babies, but about parenting elementary kids. Then about teenagers.
But now that the last one has graduated from high school and college and married, do I still need a parenting book?
Parenting Adult Children
Actually, the years of parenting adult children will likely surpass the number of years we parented small children. It’s just very different. It has to be from a distance. And loose. And non-judgmental.
Here are the nine principles Burns shares in the book. Is there one you need the most?
Your role as the parent must change.
Unsolicited advice is usually taken as criticism.
You can’t ignore your child’s culture.
They will never know how far the town is if you carry them on your back.
Your job is to move them from dependence to independence.
You can’t want it more than they want it.
Financial independence and responsibility is the goal.
Wear beige and keep your mouth shut.
Being a grandparent may be your greatest legacy.
This book is full of wisdom, some of which I’ve already learned (often the hard way, such as, don’t argue about holidays), and some of which I’ve yet to experience.
My daughters don’t need me like they did when they were younger, but I can still play an important role in their lives, and they in mine.
I want to do this stage of parenting well, too.
Quotes from Doing Life with Your Adult Children
“Most parents I’ve talked with have told me they lost sleep worrying about their kids when the kids were younger, but I’ve been surprised to discover how many parents of adult children tell me the same thing.”
“It’s important to acknowledge your old job description as a parent so that you can set it aside. That’s the only way to make room for your new job description.”
“This transition of moving from daily involvement and hands-on parenting to a more intermittent involvement will likely be an easier move for your kids than it is for you.”
“There is absolutely nothing more important in life than a right relationship with God and a right relationship with family. Ultimately, that’s what defines the legacy you leave your children.”
“Many parents of adult children tell me that the most difficult part of their new job description is abstaining from giving advice when they know they’re correct.”
“Trust that experience is a better teacher than advice….If we keep our mouths shut and keep the welcome mat out, we increase the odds that our children will come to us for guidance on their own.”
“Parents who continue to take care of their adult sons and daughters out of their own need to be needed do so at the expense of their adult children’s maturity.”
“Your child’s choices don’t have to break you. Your child’s regrettable decisions do not make you a bad parent. Even good parents have children who make poor choices.”
I highly recommend this book to parents of adult children. This line from it makes me laugh the most: “The first forty years of parenting are always the hardest.”
My adult children are worth it all.
* * *
Are you parenting an adult child? Has anything been difficult? Surprising? Do you have a favorite parenting book? Please share in the comments.
My thanks to BookLook Bloggers
for the review copy of this book
(and to Beth for the real thing!)
I’m stingy with my personal list of 5-star ratings.
But for books #1-5 below, I easily give 5-stars. So, so good.
(#6 and 7 are also very good.)
Books I Recommend
1. Atomic Habits An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
by James Clear
If you care about making good habits in your life, this is a must-read. I’d been hearing it was good; it lives up to the hype. I’m already applying several little tricks to my own life to improve habits.
“Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
2. Never Split the Difference Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It
by Chris Voss
This book is also SO good. Author Chris Voss is a former hostage negotiator for the FBI. He uses his experience (such fascinating stories!) to explain nine strategies we can use to make our lives better (not just for negotiations, but for relationships).
“Your most powerful tool in any verbal communication is your voice. . . .You can be very direct and to the point as long as you create safety by a tone of voice that says I’m okay, you’re okay, let’s figure things out.”
3.Off the Clock Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done
by Laura Vanderkam
This is yet another game-changing book. Too often I catch myself saying, “I just don’t have enough time.” This book helped me realize mistakes I’m making with time and how to correct them.
Off the Clock is not just a time-management book though (although it is partially that), but also a philosophy of living.
Be warned: Laura Vanderkam strongly encourages you to track your time for two weeks to see where it’s actually going. It’s painful. But enlightening. (I’m using the free version of Toggl to track my time; if you want a digital tool to track your time, I highly recommend Toggl.)
“I repeat a two-part mantra: Plan it in. Do it anyway. If my anticipating self wanted to do something, my remembering self will be glad to have done it. Indeed, my experiencing self may even enjoy parts of it. I am tired now, but I will always be tired, and we draw energy from meaningful things.”
4.Dreyer’s English An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
by Benjamin Dreyer
If you write anything (blogs, books, emails, etc.), this book is a wonderful resource. But beyond that, it is very entertaining. Author Benjamin Dreyer (copy chief at Random House) is an expert at using words. Who knew a grammar book could be so funny? I had to read excerpts out loud again and again to Jeff because they were so witty.
Here’s some writing advice:
“Here’s your first challenge: Go a week without writing very, rather, really, quite, in fact. And you can toss in—or, that is, toss out—’just’ (not in the sense of ‘righteous’ but in the sense of ‘merely’) and ‘so’ (in the ‘extremely’ sense, though as conjunctions go it’s pretty disposable too).
“Oh yes: ‘pretty.’..And ‘of course.’ That’s right out. And ‘surely.’ And ‘that said.’
“And ‘actually’? Feel free to go the rest of your life without another ‘actually.'”
5.Doing Life with Your Adult Children Keep Your Mouth Shut and the Welcome Mat Out
by Jim Burns
There are thousands of books on parenting young children. But parenting adult children? Not many. This book is excellent. Written from a Christian perspective, Jim Burns answers questions like:
When is it okay to give advice to our adult children?
What do we do if they’re about to make a big mistake?
How do we relate to our child’s spouse?
Where’s the line between enabling and helping?
“There is relatively little available about the challenges of parenting an adult child. Yet we will spend more time as a parent of an adult child than we will as the parent of a young child and adolescent.”
6. The Lost City of the Monkey God
by Douglas Preston
This is a 4-star book for me, only because it had more historical detail than I needed. But if lots of background information is your thing, you might give it 5 stars. It’s the true story of discovering a lost city in the jungles of Honduras. It’s not for the squeamish. The journey was dangerous, snake-filled, and disease-ridden. But fascinating.
7. The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver
This novel is about a traditional, evangelical Baptist missionary, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1959. The female characters take turns narrating the chapters. Living in Africa turns out to be much more difficult than they had imagined or prepared for.
Barbara Kingsolver does an excellent job switching voices for each character and keeping the plot rolling along over three decades. It’s a long book (546 pages), but the length felt necessary to fully hear the story.
I’d Rather Be Reading The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
by Anne Bogel
Glorious Weakness Discovering God in All We Lack by Alia Joy
Outliers The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Almost Everything Notes on Hope
by Anne Lamott
In the Shadow of Statues A White Southerner Confronts History
by Mitch Landrieu
The Highly Sensitive Person How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
by Elaine N. Aron