Monday, January 22, 2018

Slingshot


April Estes was raised in middle Tennessee and is wife to one (Jay), Mom to four (16, 14, 10 & 7). Her life mantras are currently "Embrace the Crazy" and "Good enough is good enough."  She is the author of two books (Seeing the Father Through a Dad and The Pearl of Great Price, 2017) and enjoys writing country songs and christian articles while waiting in carpool.

“You can’t raise any two kids the same,” I’ve always heard, and I had always attributed it to the fact that each child is different, and the same tactics will not necessarily be successful due to the personality differences of the children. But now, in my forties versus my twenties, I mother my last two children a lot differently than I did my first two – not just due to how they are different from their siblings, but how I am different.

With our first child, I had a VISION of what I wanted my little girl to become. I planned long and hard to figure out how I could maneuver the universe to help me mold my little girl into the young lady I wanted. I’m happy to report she turned out wonderfully, despite my well-meaning but very skewed “mission.” Four kids and twenty years later, I am happy to report they (and old age) have broken me of that habit. I no longer try to “sculpt” a child, but instead try to evaluate & ask, “What is (this) child’s strengths? How is (this) child inclined? And what sports/careers/etc suit that?”

I would like to say child rearing has gone a lot smoother since that transition. Largely, it has, but then came our ADD, learning “dis” ability kid. The kind of kid you have to tell 5 times to put his shoes on, who still puts his shorts on backward, and has to struggle so much to write a sentence it is literally painful (to do and watch). But he’s also the kid who cries at the heart-wrenching part of the movie, breaks into an English accent at random, and can tell you anything you ever want to know about any animal. Like, seriously.

However, in a few weak moments, I worried about my child. In a world where college is “King,” I wondered what would become of my boy? “Would he ever be able to hold down a job if he can’t hear half the time? Would he ever find a woman who could put up with his kawinkidinks?” I wondered. I’d prayed for God to show me any strengths he might have that we could harness and divert into greatness. Due to physical limitations, football was out, and even though he had the aim of Alvin C. York, his attention span wouldn’t allow him to do baseball just yet. I wondered these things again as at the doctor’s office as I watched him make face after face after face in the mirror. I thought, “He has to have rehearsed that surprised face at least twelve times…”

And that’s when it hit me: “making faces (acting) just might be his slingshot.” I had just read the story (AGAIN) of David and Goliath the night before to my littles, and laughed when I imagined how it might have been to raise young David. He was the runt, and not even considered “important enough” to be called among the seven sons when the prophet Samuel went to his father Jessie’s house to anoint the next King. He was tending sheep, which was considered one of the lowliest of jobs. I pictured his father standing at the door one day, watching his son from afar, and shaking his head and wondering what would ever become of his scrawny youngest – too lean and small to ever even think of becoming a strong farmer, much less a mighty warrior. I can picture him saying to his wife, “Just look at him, honey, all little and unskilled! And all he ever does is play with that blasted slingshot!”

Slingshot.

The very thing that his father found little use for – maybe even annoyed him – was the very thing through which God would bring victory to his people.

As parents, we dream of what our kids can be. We plan. We scheme. We try to get them in the “right” college. And high school. And preschool, even. But we forget: God also has plans for them. Prov. 16:9 says, “A man heart plans his ways[for his life], but the Lord directs his steps.” Prov. 19:21 says, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purposes will prevail.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the “visions” we have for our children, and could have a tendency to get upset when our vision doesn’t look like it is going to come to fruition. But the good news is God is also a good Father. He has a future filled with peace and hope planned for each and every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11)

There is a wonderful quote I have above the kitchen sink that I copied from a waiting room magazine (so I don’t know the author): “One of our jobs as mamas is to sweep the world’s [and our] expectations out of our homes and lock the door behind them. Inside our homes, our children should be able to grow up into who God made them to be, not something the world has said they should become.”
Amen, Amen, Amen.

Interestingly, one of our son’s worst traits (no fear of saying anything to anybody) became his best trait when directed a different way: performing. He now acts in plays and does Magic shows. He would have made a terrible pitcher or quarterback, but he is an amazing magician! He has already brought more joy to children than I can count. I can’t wait to see what God does with his “slingshot.”

Keep your eyes open for your child’s “slingshot”. It may just be his salvation.




April Estes lives in Knoxville and discovered her son’s 
slingshot was performing: magic, acting, singing…despite the dyslexia

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