“What do you do when you smell smoke?” This was just one of many routine questions our Pediatrician asked our children during their annual check up appointment. He just wanted our children to understand basic safety as part of his care. So, along with questions like “what do you do if your clothes catch on fire?” and “what do you do first when you get in the car?” he asked about what do you do when you smell smoke in the house?
Our 13 yr old son in his sarcastic state answered, “Look for chicken!” Sarcastic but true. It’s not a secret in our home that I tend to
put things in the oven and walk away in effort to multi task- leaving many frozen dinners, bacon, open-faced sandwiches and. . .oh yeah. . .chicken subject to be burned. I do believe my children have never had pizza from the freezer without it being slightly burnt. “Maybe they’ll think that’s just the way freezer food tastes?” I use to think to myself. But, clearly at this doctor’s visit. . .I was
made aware that my children were very aware that food should not be burned. They were missin’ out.
I just smiled and internally rolled my eyes at our son’s response. He’s sarcastic and painfully honest. That’s Jacob. That’s how the good Lord made this sweet child of mine. And after waiting for him for almost four years. . .I’m thankful for every little sarcastic breath. Well, almost. There are times I’ll say, “not now, Jake.” He knows when to back off. He is unlike our other four children. I
think people. . .most importantly, parents, forget this key feature in God’s creations. God created you individually. . .YOU! In families we tend resemble each other in both actions and looks, however, there is only one you. And there is no one like you.
There is only one Jacob Lamgo. . .and he is not like my husband or myself or even my other children. And that is what puts me in awe of our Heavenly Father. He places each of these little people in my life and although I did not expect what I got, I admit I got much more than I could have ever dreamed.
I am raising five children with five very different purposes in life. All uniquely designed by God to further His Kingdom. This purpose differs greatly from one child to the other. I think this design and purpose sometimes gets detoured in our minds when a child turns out different than the picture we created in our minds well before their birth.
That moment for me started early on in my parenting. About 10 seconds to be exact. It was a warm July evening in Colorado- in the hallway of a hospital during a tornado when God let me know that my life and the lives of my children were His and my plans didn’t always match up with His plans. Our oldest was born that night premature, blue and not breathing. His little face was lifted up to mine just before they rushed him off to the NICU. He looked like a tiny little bird that had fallen from the nest. Skinny, blue, and barely alive he differed greatly from the expected chubby, pink cheeked bundle I had envisioned. He was Andrew. . .and there is none like him.
I tried to mold that little man into what I desired him to be. He became more than I could have possibly imagined and for that, I am truly grateful the Lord had His way and my vision faded. I think we try so hard to create the children we want and not the children they were born to be. . .so much in fact that we are faced with labels, depression, and even suicide because society and even parents state that they are not what we expected or envisioned.
Today is our son, Matthew’s 12th birthday. He is precious and I cannot wait to see the journey God has for him. It took our own journey to understand just how precious these little ones would be and how loving them means leading them back to God and letting them go. Letting go of the future we had in mind, the personality we envisioned, and embracing their natural talents and gifts from God instead of trying to live or relive our own childhoods in a matter we wished but never lived.
Not every child must be a ballerina, soccer player, or straight A student. Why does this bother so many parents? I think it’s their own set of ideals they battle within that makes them force the life they deem ideal for their children.
For me, as I stood at the casket of our second child, William, my eyes were forced open into a new reality of “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” Words from my Heavenly father reminding me that the children given to me while on this earth are His. . .not mine. . .and He does whatever He pleases. Who am I to stand in His way? Who am I to argue with His design?
Embrace the individuality in your littles. Embrace their talents, gifts and even those things we translate as a challenge but God created as His perfect design. When the fork in the road changes your course, your dreams, your desires…your way…you get to release your grip, open your eyes and thank God that you have been given this job for a little while and let His will direct you. It is the best parenting tool I have been handed over the years. It is the only tool you’ll need.
I don’t measure our children’s success against other children or even my own ideals. Because there is none like them. They are five separate individual lives walking a path laid by God and on a journey to their eternal Home.
So when one child answer’s the question, “what do you do when you smell smoke in the house?” You understand that there is not just one correct answer, but perspective. For us. . .we look for the burnt chicken.