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Joy in Intentional Parenting

A group smiling together

Parenting – not for the faint of heart and definitely not a microwaveable experience. Alice encourages us to set our navigation by what is true, and she reminds us how to sail the waters of parenting with joy. Happy Thanksgiving!


For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11


I spent my college summers at a camp in Missouri.  I instructed sailing.  Two afternoons of training earned me my Skipper’s hat, and I faked my way through the first day with campers by using nautical terms like starboard, port, trimming, and mast.  Campers thought I was the real deal!

Sailing that summer proved to be a daily challenge.   I didn’t realize how much practice I would need before the sailing got smooth.  Believe it or not, I look back on that experience and see truths connected to parenting. 

  1. Parenting takes daily discipline.  There are rules to sailing.  You need to know your equipment, you need to understand the basic principles of the wind, AND you need to take off and sail!  But it gets scary when the wind fills the mainsheet and speed increases rapidly.  My natural tendency was to tighten up the mainsail to gain control.  Like holding tightly to a rope, disciplining our children can produce good fruit.   “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”  -Proverbs 6:23 But when I held on too tightly for too long, I created new problems.
  2. Parenting takes lots of grace.   Jesus is full of truth AND grace (John 1:114).  Without grace the tight rein of discipline can take the wind right out of a child’s sail.  To move forward in sailing you need to learn the fine art of trimming.  It’s the art of letting out the mainsheet until it begins to flap and then you pull it in just until it stops flapping.  Children learn by doing and sometimes that means letting out the sail and then giving lots of grace as you pull the reins back in … over and over again.
  3. Parenting takes time.  I spent ten weeks that summer sailing five days a week, but I can’t really say I perfected the art of sailing.  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18 As believers we are called to be transformed, not overnight, but from glory to glory … and that takes time.          

Are you training your children to know God and His commandments?

Are you showing God’s loving kindness by parenting with an abundance of grace?

Are you allowing time to grow your children one experience at a time?

Be encouraged.  In 25 years of “trimming” with our children, I see the joy in their lives as they navigate the new waters of young adulthood.  Yes there are waves … yes there momentary capsizes… but their hearts are full of truth and grace and together we look to our Heavenly Captain to steer us onward.

Camper Corner

Kids, where do you see your parents extending grace to you right now?  If you don’t know the answer maybe ask your mom or dad to go sailing with you!

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