Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Our son stood up last week as the North Dakota State Champion in the FFA Creed to compete at the National FFA in Louisville, KY. And the words didn’t come out just right. That had been our prayer for weeks, for his words to come out just right. But God doesn’t always answer our prayers we have learned right when we ask. Hunter was crushed with disappointment. And even I cried alone at home after he called me with the news. I didn’t cry because of the contest. I cried because Hunter had never been so prepared for anything in his life and somehow as a mom felt like I had let him down in not doing something more to help him succeed. Yet, I also knew it wasn’t his time to win this time. It was someone else’s turn. It was a lesson for me.
He wanted to win. He wanted to at least advance out of the first round and he didn’t. He had a set a goal that he didn’t reach. He was disappointed but came home to share lessons he had already learned from the experience and how to be even more prepared next time, for another contest he hopes to compete in at local, state or even national level in the future.
But what is the lesson I learned? It came through an email exchange with my friend Chris Chinn as Hunter was flying back from National FFA to get home in time for his confirmation of faith at church. I hashed out my thoughts and Chris was a sounding board, offering me insightful motherly advice with a solid Christian perspective.
The FFA Creed contest, the practice, the preparation, the competition locally, at districts, at state and at a national level, all prepared Hunter to be a more bold speaker, more confident in the words he shares, how he delivers them and to connect with his audience. He learned to answer questions with passion to fully understand what it is that he believes in for agriculture and its future.
He returned home late Friday and on Sunday morning he stood in church and shared his statement of faith, boldly and with confidence. His faith is his own. He knows Jesus. And believes in Him with his whole heart. It’s not his dad or I that are making him follow our faith now as a teenager.
That’s the most important job of parenting for me and that was the lesson I learned. Games and contests will come and go, fading as our son becomes an adult. But his faith and where he goes after this earthly life matters most to my husband and me.
We have two more little ones to instill a deep faith in at our house. Yes, Miss A brought her baby covered in a blanket to the front of the church during the children’s message on Sunday. Nathan and I also help teach Sunday School at our local church to build a young love and understanding in our faith.
Because it’s not just a church. It’s not a religion to us. It’s a relationship. A personal one.
And that relationship can be developed through teaching, commitment, deep love and faith no matter who you are, where you live or how much is in your bank account.
Our son knows that relationship, believes it and lives it. Through much prayer, guidance and definitely some hard times along the way, Nathan and I are the proud parents of the boy who is now nearly a man, confirmed in his faith and thankfully getting A’s in math. I specifically prayed when I was pregnant with Hunter to have him gifted in math with my outgoing personality. I never got an A in math but I sure can talk. Hunter can do math AND can deliver a speech with confidence. Thank you, God!
Hunter has many mentors along his journey and many joined us for a celebration at our house after the Confirmation church service.
My parents. There are not enough words for me to explain the impact and difference my parents have made for Hunter and our entire family. My parents are two of Hunter’s heroes. (And mine, too.)
My grandparents, Nola and Oscar aka Sonny, Hunter’s great-grandparents. Loyal and loving. We are so blessed to have them as examples for Hunter.
Grandpa Eldon and Grandma Carol “Nana” came into Hunter’s life when he in second grade. They took him as their own grandson. There is a special bond and connection. Hunter is around them almost daily and there is rarely a game-day that Nana doesn’t make a big meal for Hunter.
Together, we are a family, firmly planted in faith.
Hunter’s verse he chose for his Confirmation of Faith was Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
And she even put on a “show” for the celebration.
I am thankful for family that came together to celebrate our son, his confirmation of faith and the future that lies ahead for him. And I am grateful to be reminded of the most important job I have as a parent: to instill faith, their own faith, in our children, through teaching, example, love and commitment.