Monday, May 20, 2013


From Susan:
As kids grow, what we do with them changes! Like this week for example, as I took off several days to hang out with my college-age boys, home for a few days before heading out to participate in Campus Outreach Summer Leadership Program at the beach. These are times when loving them more means seeing them less. Back to the story-- so I asked, "Hey guys, what would you like to do together on my 2 days off?" The answer was clear, "Mom, we would LOVE to take you golfing - you will enjoy riding in the cart and relaxing in the beauty of God's creation and you can try to golf too if you want...." Now THAT was amazingly humorous, as I did in fact golf, under their tutelage, for the second time ever, and actually impressed them with being able to make contact with the ball!

Susan with two of her sons, Vasya and Trevor

The other fun activity they proposed was fishing -  we have spent a lot of time every day at the lake near our house, fishing 'catch and release.' And those released fish just scurry off with splashing vigor when dropped to their freedom in that life-giving water!!! Every time we caught a fish - which was multiple times every evening, we would "catch and release," and I would remember the message from Christy Nockels at Passion City this past Sunday. Let me tell you about it.

Best Message on Parenting!
Of all the books, articles, talks, sermons, messages and conversations I have ever had about parenting, the absolute hands-down BEST was the one I heard from Christy Nockels at Passion City Church, Mother's Day evening. All I could long for is that God would open a way for her to broadcast this message to the world!!!!! Yes, I do mean it -- the WORLD! If anyone reading this knows her, please pass along this encouragement to her!!! 

For those who may not have time to listen, here is a brief summary of the talk, with a few added thoughts along the way.

Catch and Release Parenting; Catch and Release Life
To be a parent or a mother, or honestly, to be involved in any relationship or work or ministry or service, we need to have a "catch and release" approach. Just like fishing. We catch, but then we release back to God. 
Trevor-- catch and release!

Particularly, we release our failures, as well as our successes.  

We have to remember that even when we fail, or when others think we fail, that does NOT mean we are failures. In fact and in truth and in deed, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, treasures and image-bearers, with beautiful purpose in the hand of the Master. And all of this is just as true for us when it appears we succeed. We are bearing fruit as a consequence of abiding in God's love, as Jesus teaches in John 15. As Christy sings, "with my roots deep in You, I'll grow the branch that bears the fruit."

For me, the most important line of her entire talk was the part where she explains that because of this "catch and release" approach, we tell our kids this: 

My identity is not wrapped up in who you are; the Lord has you. 

Parenting that Transforms Us
That simple statement, lived fully and daily, transforms us into people of peace and joy and hope. If my identify is NOT wrapped up in how my kids or work or house or ministry or appearance turn out, then my identity IS wrapped up in the Lord's love and purpose and compassion for me and for the world.

Christy Nockels closed her talk with a description of sitting before the piano and the Lord giving her a song. I scribbled trying to copy it down as she sang it with that gloriously anointed voice - and here are the excerpts of her lyrics that I pass on, urging you to go listen for yourself. The lyrics are true for me and for you and for our spouses and for our children!!!

I see you,

Even thougth
You think I don't see you; 
I see all your hard work.
I love you,
More than you know;
I see every sigh in the morning; 
I hear every cry in the night.
I'm holding you together
Like glue and like mortar;
Every seam, every corner,
My love covers you." 
by Christy Nockels, Passion City Church, Atlanta, Mother's Day, 2013

So, dearly beloved treasures, as we close we pray,
Today may we would walk in the full joy and peace and hope of those who know our own identity before You, Lord, as Your beloved children; and from that place, may we experience unbridled freedom to let that very love You have for us flow through us in all its fullness to all those we love and see and connect with, today and every day.  Amen and amen.

A Bit More from Beth:
I just want to add a story that Susan shared with me. Susan and I are all about being copy cats when it comes to good parenting ideas! I am thinking you and I may want to copy this example of seizing the moment to share a truth with our children that God is teaching us without giving a sermon. Here is Susan's story: 

As we are gingerly removing the hook from the mouth of the decent sized bass, I say, "Hey...did you know catch and release is the best way to live a good life before God?"
Trevor asks, "What do you mean, mom?"
"I mean, the world will often reject you for your failures or inflate you for your successes. But in faith we know we are fully loved and accepted in the Lord in spite of our failures and equipped and enabled by God's love and wisdom and strength in any success. It was what was shared in our sermon Sunday night. I LOOVVVEEDD IT!!!  I urge you, buddy, to live a catch and release life!"

Trevor's catch and release fish.
If I had been talking with my kids at younger ages I would have told the same story in simple words...daring them to always remember this when they are fishing. I would also add a new question, "What happens to that little fish if we don't release it?" Of course the answer for me is that it would not be what God made it to be.

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