| from Courtney Critz |

I believe one of the greatest lies of our culture is that parenting teenagers is a stage we should merely dread and survive rather than anticipate with excitement and great hope for the future. 

If you’re a parent still waiting to be in this place, with my whole heart I long for you to see a completely different picture. Imagine this:

After all of your hard work meeting his basic physical needs in an exhausting environment, you see your child’s skills emerging. He can cook, take care of his own hygiene, clean up his messes, wash his clothes, and get himself to the places he needs to go.

After countless days of telling him to be kind, think of others, use uplifting words, and choose gentle and respectful responses you see him without any prompting saying “yes, sir,” treating the elderly with respect, being on time, loving difficult people, and wanting to be trustworthy.

After picking him up, tending his wounds, and wiping his tears, you find him standing beside you and holding you up, laying his head on your shoulder when he can tell you are struggling, and finding ways to give you rest.

After years of pouring in truth when he was standing on his head during reading times or devotionals, you hear him giving truth to his siblings when they’re unsure what to do, breaking up fights, and giving his friends wisdom.

After teaching him Bible verses, reading him the stories, and telling him daily of Jesus, you see him cultivating his own relationship with the One who created him, has filled him with purpose, and will guide him whether you are present or not. 

It’s not a perfect picture. There are hard moments and hurts and the letting go is a whole new thing. But friends, the lie that this cannot be a tremendous season of harvest and joy needs to be thrown out. 

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:4-5 ESV

You may be exhausted, may be struggling to see where the return will come. You may not have a clear vision for the road ahead based on your past and your experiences. Sow those heart seeds. It’s not the behaviors. It’s not the appearances. It’s not the achievements. Stay strong and focus on the hearts. For out them grow the fruits that are beautiful. I cry a lot of tears as the mom of a teen and 99% of them are a deeper joy and pride in this man Jesus has let me steward than I could have ever imagined. Fight for this because it’s worth it all.

**  You may want to read Dr. Kathy’s book, Start with the Heart. There you’ll learn much about capturing children’s hearts. 

Courtney Critz and her husband, John, raise and homeschool their eight kids, relying on Jesus every moment for the wisdom and grace to direct these precious treasures to the throne of God. Both John and Courtney were homeschooled and given a heritage of faith, and Courtney has worked with children and families teaching and writing since she was twelve years old. Now in their forties, they have a ministry working with hundreds of thousands of families through a business where they help others pursue freedom spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and financially. They are excited to partner with the ministry of Celebrate Kids believing that the children are the heart of where culture change begins.