Thursday, February 7, 2013

When It's Hard to Trust God with Your Kids

When I saw my minutes-old son kicking and screaming in the delivery room 15 years ago, I had no idea how much joy and heartbreak being a mother would involve. I had no idea that he’d go from speaking Spanish to English before learning Turkish and that he’d learn to navigate anywhere alone by bus, metro or ferry in our Middle Eastern city.  I had no idea that my biggest challenge living overseas would be agonizing over whether we’re messing up our kids by raising them here.

Years ago when I shared my worries with a seasoned cross-cultural worker, she told me, “God has called you here, so you can trust Him to bless your kids.” I wasn’t sure I believed her, but over the years I’ve seen it’s true. Last week, I learned once again:

I can trust God with my kids.

My children have grown up happy here, but now that they’re teenagers, it’s a bit harder because our city has no high school for TCK’s, so most families with adolescent kids either move to other cities or go back home. Their circle of fellow TCK friends has dwindled a bit, and they don’t know many believing Turkish teenagers either since the church is small. Sometimes my kids feel lonely.

Several of Marc’s friends left Izmir last September to attend Black Forest Academy in Germany, and when they came home for Christmas, he was excited to see them.  So when these friends returned to school in January and yet another friend left for the US to pursue college, Marc, who is normally a happy, upbeat person, hit a low point. In fact, I’d never seen him so discouraged. My husband and I were so concerned that in my last e-mail ministry update I asked friends to pray for him.

I was amazed at how quickly God responded.

The very next day at our home fellowship, I saw my son worshipping with raised hands, and I knew God was telling me, “Trust me. My hand is on him.” Within two days Marc’s outlook had totally changed! He was excited because his kung fu teacher came back from furlough. He got a once a week tutoring job. The worship leader of our old church asked him to play bass for one of their worship teams.

Then our team went on a retreat, and the unplanned highlight of the weekend was a time focused on encouraging our teenaged TCK’s.  A week later Marc and his sister led worship by themselves for the first time at our fellowship, and I’d never seen him so motivated to lead (without me!).

God came through for him and opened up all these opportunities at just the right time, when he needed encouragement. I knew it was because people back home had prayed for him.

Do you struggle with raising your kids overseas?  What are your challenges and how has God come through for you?

You might also enjoy:
How to Handle Kids Who’d Rather Eat Cac─▒k than Captain Crunch
Messing Up My Kids?


Choate Family said...

Your posts always seem so close to my heart! Our kids are a few years behind yours (in fact, I'm learning a lot from you and those like you!). So far, our kids are adjusting well, and we're so thankful for God's hand at work in their lives. We're always adjusting and asking Him for wisdom as our children grow and situations change. So excited to watch Him work in your lives as well!

Nancy said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I too was afraid I would "mess up" my kids by bringing them overseas. And they do have their struggles, especially with loneliness and friends leaving. I find it even harder though, to trust God with my oldest who has gone back to the states. When it comes to our children, "out of sight, out of mind" is just not true. I did not realize how much I still relied on my own strength to care for my children until one was no longer within my reach or vision.

OliveTree said...

Thanks for your encouragement, "Choate Family." Keep forging on ahead with your kids. I'm sure God WILL continue blessing them.

And Nancy, I can imagine how hard it must be to send your oldest back to the States. We are looking at that two years down the road and praying now about how to handle it.

Columba Lisa said...

They are growing up into such beautiful young people, Olive! I noticed in college that the most mature and godly students were the children of parents who had put God first, whether as missionaries, or whatever their call. So don't worry - you've done a wonderful thing for your kids! I think we moms agonize so much over how we might be messing them up. I do, too!