Years ago at a home school mom’s night out, our speaker, a librarian and home school mom herself, told us that God instills in each of our children at least one special something that they are or will be extra interested in—something that stands out above other things. It could be anything from music, art, writing, or video making to sports or an interest in helping and encouraging others—the list could continue on and on. This particular mom also related that she felt we should have an understanding of what this specific passion or interest was in each of our children by the time they were twelve or thirteen years old and that as parents it was our duty to find out what it was and support and enable our children to pursue it.
I found there was a lot of truth in what she was teaching that night. As our daughter graduated and left home to pursue her special something, we knew without a doubt she was headed in a direction that followed her God-given passions and giftings. Next in line was our oldest son. Since the speaker had included that “twelve or thirteen” age limit in her teaching that night, I took that in hook, line, and sinker. As a result, I struggled for years with “my job” to locate our son’s special interests that I knew he would need on the path God had for him. I even began to worry a little because I could not pinpoint what it was. I was failing as a parent . . . or so I thought.
This past year we decided to give a birthday surprise to our thirteen- and eighteen-year-old sons, who had never flown on an airplane before: tickets to fly. After searching the Internet for cheap flights to wherever (we are on a budget, you know), we were blessed with ninety-nine dollar tickets to Little Rock, Arkansas. It was an amazing trip. We flew out to Little Rock on a beautiful morning and spent several days there sightseeing. Of course, being home school parents, we had to make it educational. Therefore, to enhance our sightseeing adventures, my husband thought it would be a great idea to purchase bus passes instead of renting a car so that the boys could plan out the routes we would need to take and which buses to hop on at exactly the right times. It was “educational,” to say the least!
As our trip came to a close, we found ourselves back at the airport for the flight home. Because the plane was crowded—and I assume because my eighteen-year-old Jordan wanted some independence, which did not involve sitting next to his mother on the plane ride home—my oldest son sat at the very back of the plane. It was a peaceful ride home and a soft landing, but before I could retrieve our carry-on bags to exit the plane, I was introduced to a man and his family who were seated next to Jordan. Apparently the man was a pilot who had jumped into one of the last seats left—hence, the back of the plane. This man and my son talked the entire flight back about being a pilot and all of the particulars and pros and cons that went along with that occupation. Because of Jordan’s interest, the pilot spoke with the flight personnel and got Jordan into the cockpit.
I stood back and watched as God gave me a glimpse into my son’s special interest. What I thought I had to search out and locate in Jordan, what had made me worry and feel like a failure, this job as a parent that I had to take on and make happen—it was all just a spark that happened right there in that short plane ride home. My son is now a high school graduate, and—you guessed it—that spark has turned into a brush fire that has brought on a desire and a plan to attend LeTourneau University to pursue an air traffic control degree and pilot’s license. As I write this, I do not know where God’s path will take Jordan exactly, but I have a peace knowing that he is headed in a direction that is not of my prompting but from a desire placed in him by the Creator.
This journey with our older children has taught me to approach parenting in a slightly different way. I have come to realize that I do not need to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) but just walk out each day asking God to direct the teaching of these beautiful, amazing children, watching instead of seeking out that “special something.”
As their interests are brought to my attention, it is my goal to support and enable them to follow those interests. Our thirteen-year-old Wyatt has had an interest in falconry. He has read books on the subject but has never even seen a live birding demonstration. Earlier in our home schooling years I probably would have blown off falconry as an “I want to be a (fill-in-the-blank) when I grow up” interest that would change. Instead, now I am approaching his interest with a belief and trust that God may have falconry in His plan for Wyatt. I do not know why or what that might look like in the future, but I realize my job is not to know the whole story but to believe in and encourage my children where they are.
We helped Wyatt establish what his first goal should be in order to be successful in this area. This past year he saved up his money and joined the Texas Hawking Association and has located and read books on falconry. Then we helped him establish his second goal. He has now been in contact with a falconer in our area and will finally have the opportunity to see a live birding demonstration and hunting event.
You see? We do not need to have the entire high school and college plan figured out when our children are young, which is something that could raise the blood pressure of any home schooling parent. We just need to seek the Lord on a daily basis for each of our children, be obedient to whatever He calls us, and then keep our eyes open to catch a glimpse of another “brush fire” of excitement when God opens those doors and allows our children to walk through them.