Just saying that word gives most of us that are parents a slight shudder. Well, those of us that are just entering that phase anyway…if you’re a seasoned parent, past the pre-teen stage perhaps you sigh with relief knowing you don’t have to repeat those years.

Honestly these were the years I was most looking forward to…getting to see my child being shaped into the person they will spend their life being! It sounds silly, I realize, but in all truthfulness that period of time holds some of the best memories I have of my growing up years and I long to provide that same type of experience for my children.

What I couldn’t have possibly accounted for is the change that our world has experienced and the impact it would have on my own child-rearing years. Namely the explosion of connectedness. I’m very slowly reading a book I picked up at the local bookstore a few weeks ago…”Tough Guys and Drama Queens”. The first chapter is dedicated to addressing what is so different in the culture today than in the early 20th century. One fact stood out to me beyond all other…

     “In the 1930s, written information doubled every thirty years. In the 1970s and 1980s, that amount
    of information doubled every eleven years. Today, codified information doubles every eleven hours.
    That means that you can end your workday being half as wise as you were when you woke up that

That’s insane, and in some ways makes our children smarter than us because they, more often than not, know how to access that information far quicker than the average parent.

How scary is that to have to navigate as a parent already feeling slightly inadequate. My mom has often said that she doesn’t envy our generation, having to raise children in the fast-pace, connected world that we live in.

In truth I feel even more honoured in a way, that I was entrusted with the four children I have during this period in history. Does it raise the standard in terms of being more involved as a parent? Absolutely! Recently James attended a seminar hosted by an RCMP officer that specializes in social media, the internet and youth. Although my husband is quite savvy when it comes to such things I suggested he go instead of myself as he would be more likely to understand half the jargon AND when it comes to implementing techniques in relation to the “inter-web” and other connected devices he would probably be better at it. He came home, first and foremost, with a deeper sense of assurance that we were actually doing a pretty good job introducing our children to these different ways of connecting with the world BUT also a greater sense of urgency to openly communicate with our children what they already knew, not because we’d shared it, but because they’d encountered it at school, with their friends, stumbled across it, etc. Also a pressing desire to engage in constant discussion in regards to how to navigate these waters cautiously and together.

One of the things I have valued as a parent is openness. It means addressing the issue even if it’s uncomfortable. It gives kids the opportunity to ask the questions of me, as a parent, rather than their friends who don’t have all the information or maybe none yet. An example of my most recent experience was the first discussion I had with Sam regarding certain aspects of sexuality. While we hadn’t purposely avoided it, in all honesty, it just hadn’t entered our realm of discussion. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk with him had been on my mind and he hadn’t asked any questions yet so I felt the need to broach the subject with him. At first it was awkward, I wasn’t sure where to start, he wasn’t really excited to share what he already knew, but once we began the discussion it led to some great dialogue and I felt better that he knew I was approachable even with topics he wasn’t quite sure about. It wasn’t a long, drawn out discussion but I think he walked away with some things to think about.

Being willing to be open doesn’t just involve discussions related to sexuality…it has to overflow into every aspect of life related to your child’s growing experiences. For us open discussion has been key in helping us delay the introduction of a cellphones or any other personal device of that sort. It hasn’t been because we wanted to isolate or shelter them but discussing with them our reasoning, our desire to see them become more responsible, to understand the reasons for having said devices and how they will be used in our home has allowed us the luxury of introducing in the timing we feel appropriate for our children rather than what their peers deem appropriate. It isn’t always easy and sometimes we’ve been perceived as the bad guys but in the end it hasn’t been a battle.
I think one of the main lessons I’m learning during this stage is that the more open, up front and honest you are with your pre-teen/teenager, the more likely you will be to have the privilege of walking with them through the tumultuous years that have the greatest impact on shaping their character and values for the rest of their life.

The last few weeks I have been pondering an idea that is far from new! It is a truth I have held dear since before I can even remember consciously embracing it. Followers of Christ accept a basic principle the moment they recognize the authority of the Holy Spirit in their lives…it’s the knowledge that Christ came to die for our sins and wash us clean.

A verse that I looked up before I even started this post was 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ” The main reason that I began thinking on this truth afresh is because of a beautiful song that I love to listen to. It’s called “Washed by the Water” by Needtobreath.

The thing I love about this song is that it reminds us that life is filled with difficult situations but through these times we find redemption. I think part of it for me is also looking at this idea with a new perspective because of where I live. I know that might sound a bit odd but living in this area we see A LOT of rain. Sometimes I get frustrated by the dreariness it brings but thinking about it from the perspective this song encourages I see how rain also cleanses us. Rain can be horrible, devastating, terrifying but it can also be pure, clean, and refreshing. The funny thing is that I have been thinking about this off and on over the last month as we all patiently wait for Spring to arrive in all its glory. But on the days that rain seems the weather forecast for the whole day, I do take a moment to celebrate all it does for us…then I started reading this great book by Francine Rivers, “Her Daughter’s Dream” (c. 2010).

A part of this rings true to my own life but what struck me was one particular exchange:

“They walked along the beach together, not saying anything. Boots didn’t seem worried about the blanket. When they turned back, she bent and scooped up a stick, twirling it in her hand like a baton. ‘You’re eating yourself up with guilt and worry, Carolyn, and it’s got to stop.’ She stopped and jabbed the stick into the moist sand. ‘Write down every sin you’ve committed right here in the sand. Let it all out.’ She walked up the beach onto dry sand, spread the blanket and sat. ‘Take your time!’ she called out. She lay back, arms beneath her head, and crossed her ankles.

Carolyn barely managed to write a few words before a wave came and washed them away. She wrote more, and the waves came in again, erasing her words. She wrote and wrote, and each time the sea came and swept away her confession. She didn’t know how long she bent to the task before she finished. Her feet were numb from the cold water. She tossed the stick into the surf and watched it carried out. For the first time in weeks, her chest didn’t feel like someone was sitting on it.

‘Finished?’ Boots called.

‘For now.'”

The picture to the left reminds me of this exchange. Having read it I was reminded of the many times I struggle with understanding how to let go of the wrongs in my life. Either done because of my sinful nature or against me. Either way my human nature instinctively clings to remembering each incident as if to disallow God’s redeeming grace to cover and cleanse these wrongs.

As I reflected on this amazing new visual I envisioned myself in the shoes of this character. Stepping onto a beautiful, perfect scene created with such unique talent and power being marred by the imperfection of my words scratched deep into the earth. The ugliness it creates, such a tragedy to gaze upon. But the water comes to return this pristine panorama to its original beauty. The water is healing and redemptive in nature. It actually does wash away the words and the sand returns to the way it was.

I was so struck by the reality of this analogy. Then I thought more about the last few words. I realized that each day brings its challenges and each day I will likely be at the edge of this water writing the sins I’ve committed and each day the waves will wash them away. BUT…what I can find complete and utter safety in…is the words spoken on the cross…the words that have new meaning for me as I realize that although I know each day is test in my faith I no longer need to question whether or not I will find redemption…”IT IS FINISHED”…spoken by the man who gave His life to secure my cleansing and give me a life eternal.

I realize water is a metaphor for the blood of Christ but what I LOVE about this world we live in, is that our Creator has made ALL things to bring us back to Him…to remind us of the relationship we need.

The next time you feel yourself down in the dumps during a rain storm, play that song and spend a few minutes worshiping. You’ll find your spirit uplifted and your perspective renewed.