An Empty Suitcase

 Day 25 Project 365

It starts with an empty suitcase.

I couldn’t wait for each of my children to be born.  I waited in anticipation each time.  I would fold the little clothes and re-fold.  I would tidy the nursery and straighten the little toys.  I would read everything I coud get my hands on because I wanted to be the best mommy I could be.  I watched the how to videos and made baby food.  I even gave cloth diapers a whirl ( yeah, lasted a day).  I nursed them and loved them and took lots of pictures.  I wondered what they would be when they grew up.  Who would they marry?  I would sneak in their rooms every night and pray over them, praying for who they were and who they would become.  Praying for health and wellbeing and their future soul mates.  I baked cookies, sang songs, played games, dressed dolls.  I learned to shoot a Nerf gun and collect bugs.  I bandaged knees and prayed away monsters from under the bed.  I colored and slide down the slide.  I cherished every moment of every day and I lived to be their mom.  I still do to this day.

The moment our children are born they come to us as a beautiful bundle of love.  Woven into them is all that God created and intends them to be.  Down to every pinpoint of DNA He created them and knows them by name.  Their days are written for them just as ours are.  He hands them to us with great care and great responsibility.  They come with an empty suitcase.  A suitcase that we must fill to prepare them to be the men and women that He designed them to be.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a few things not intended for me to see.  As I read them my heart became heavy.  I knew that I would have to address what I had just read and I wanted to be sure that I did so with much prayer and tenderness.  I am not too old to remember what it felt like to be a teenager.  I remember what the world was like when you didn’t look like, dress like, act like everyone else.  I remember what rejection felt like.  What it was like to not be the prettiest or the most popular. I know times have changed and the problems that our children face are far greater than the ones we did.  I have 5 children between 21 and 11- I KNOW!  I know the temptations of a drug, sex, alcohol, instant gratification world with no limits.  We live in a world that will be more than happy to tell our children who they are and who they are not, who they should become and what they are worth.  A world that would just as soon pick them up, rob them of their potential, use them and spit them back out.  A world where bullies walk the halls of our schools and gangs recruit kids just looking for someone to love them.

I have never taken lightly my role as a mother.  I have at times however failed and made mistakes, after all I am human.  I have been hurt and I have been healed.  I no longer live under that shame and guilt. I am free!  I have faced my mistakes, made amends and now I have to resume the task of packing my children’s suitcases.  I have to be busy about the task of making sure my children know who they are and what they are worth.  That they understand the value of honesty, integrity, purity.  That being faithful and loving and kind are not just words but actions.  I have to be sure that they are grounded in faith.  That they understand their creator and they have the tools to decided today whom they will serve.  I have to give them opportunities to be in fellowship with like-minded believers.  To be in church and learn and to stand for something so they won’t fall for anything.  I need to find a youth ministry that will walk through life with them, for in community we find strength.  I have to make sure they learn to be givers and not takers but are strong enough to know boundaries.  I have to be sure to pack a sense of right from wrong and teach them to be a person of their word.  I have to make sure that I speak what I live and live what I speak so hypocrisy isn’t packed along with faith, hope and love.  I have to make sure that they know what hard work is and the value of a dollar.  I have to be sure they know to treat a lady as the princess God created her to be and to treat a man like the prince God created him to be.  I have to be sure they realize that you can not buy love nor happiness.  The sex doesn’t mean love and that true love waits.   I have to not be afraid to pull some things out that shouldn’t be in their suitcase.  I have to not be afraid to talk and listen and understand why they think somethings should be in there.  I have to give them the tools to think freely for themselves and to figure out they whys.  I have to teach them so they will believe because it is the right thing to do not because I am making them believe.  I have to teach them about the mustard seed and make sure they see the answers to prayers when they come.  I have to teach them to engage this world with their eyes wide open.  I have to not be afraid to monitor their social media sites like Facebook and twitter and know what is happening.  I can use these to show them what good and bad character really looks like and that is my job.  I have to know who their freinds are, where they are going and who is speaking into their lives.  I have to teach them to be a good judge of character and not change to become something they are not.  I have to let them know it is ok to stand up for themselves and for someone else.  It is a job I do not take lightly.  I need to teach them to live life out loud with boldness, passion and purpose.

I had a great talk with my kids last night.  I shared with them and we cried.  We talked about whys and how comes.  I reminded them of their inheritance.  They are set apart for a purpose and a plan.  We talked about their value and the importance of not settling.  We talked about boundaries and how, like fences we place around our yards to define our property, they are important in our lives too.  We talked about character and how one misplaced step or word or action can have life altering consequences.  We talked about choices and freedoms and legacy.  We talked and we listened.  I really listened.  I heard their hearts and their hurts.

I have already sent one child off into this world with a full suitcase.  There is so much more I wish I would have packed for him.  He is an amazing young man and the honor of being his mother is one that I will always cherish.  I have 4 more suitcases in my home that I have the task of tending too.  I have been given a responsibility and I will be held accountable.  HE gave me my children on loan and with a manual, the word of God and an army, my family, friends and body of believers.   In the Word are promises and plans and directions.  I am to write them on my children’s hearts, over my door posts and tie them around our necks.  I am to instill them into every moment of every day.  I am to learn from my mistakes and grow.  I am to take the hurts of my childhood, heal and break the ties that have bound me and use them to boldly change my generation.  With prayer I bind the enemy and stand against generational junk.  I walk boldly and I claim my family, my children and my children’s children in the name of the Lord.  For as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

A word to the world that is listening you don’t get to teach my children who they are, what they are worth or what they deserve.  You don’t get to use them, hurt them, prostitute them.  And p.s.- I know the end of the story – GOD WINS!

Deuteronomy 11:19

The Message (MSG)

18-21 Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

 Joshua 24:15

New Living Translation (NLT)

15 But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”

Psalm 18:20 God made my life complete  when I placed all the pieces before him.  When I got my act together,  he gave me a fresh start.  Now I’m alert to God’s ways;  I don’t take God for granted.  Every day I review the ways he works;  I try not to miss a trick.  I feel put back together,  and I’m watching my step.  God rewrote the text of my life  when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. Psalm 18:19-21 (in Context)The Message


7 thoughts on “An Empty Suitcase

  1. Leslie, you are packing their suitcases exactly as God asks you to do. Pack them well, my daughter, pack them well. Your father often speaks to us, and our grandchildren, about the legacy being passed down through our family. We are doing our part to pack them well also, we stand with you. Love you all, Mom

  2. To my amazing parents- yes you do walk beside me and pack into my childrens lives love, value, memories, morals, love and the LORD! Thank you for your faithfulness and for living your lives with purpose passion and to create a legacy! I love you more than words can ever express. Thank you for being the hands and feet of JESUS to your family!

  3. Wonderful post! I too do not take my responsibility lightly and I love how you mapped it all out. This is so true and relevant. If only every parent would take their responsibility to heart in the manner God wants. Leslie, thank you for your words, your passion, your diligence and example. You are a shining light in this world.

  4. We have such a huge responsibility, and with all the joys come sorrows, but I am blessed that I can take peace in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should, and when he is old he will not depart in it.” Though of course my prayer is that none of my children would chose to stray off the path, but I can only arm them with the Truth, if they choose to remove that armor, I can only pray they remember to put in on again.

    Great post thank you!

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