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Jon and I used to watch Locked Up Abroad, a documentary on Westerners who have been incarcerated in another country. (I don't necessarily recommend the show; I seem to remember some pretty gruesome details at times.) Most of the stories were about men who had decided to do drug runs once or twice to earn extra income and who had been caught in the process. Without fail, what they all regretted most was having hurt their mothers by their poor choices.
And it made me realize something important: we as mothers have a profound influence over their children, even when we don't feel like we do.
So when I came across this post about another mama who has to give her daughter injections every day and how she's choosing to influence her daughter toward a Biblical perspective, my heart went out to her. I love how this mother is using the example of a teacup to teach her little girl amazing truths about life, God's Word, and our response to suffering. By reminding her daughter that true inner beauty is borne through hardship, this mom was giving her little one an invaluable gift.
When I shared this post on our Facebook page, one of our readers (who also has a diabetic son) asked an excellent question. "How would you adapt this concept for a nearly-grown son? I love the idea, but I'm not sure my son would want to have a tea party with me!" At the time, I didn't have an answer, but because my own boys are nearing adolescence, I gave it considerable thought.
Today, I want to share my idea.
My mother-in-law once taught me the art of the pour-over coffee brewer. Since I'm not a coffee drinker myself, everything she showed me was very new. Apparently, after you put your filter and coffee grounds into the pour-over, you don't simply dump in a cup's worth of boiling water (which is what I would have done, since that's what old-school percolator brewers do). You add just enough of the water to soak the grounds, then let it sit for 30 seconds. After this short waiting period, add the remaining water, beginning in the middle of the grounds and working outward in a circular motion.
The end result is said to be a richer, sweeter cup of coffee than you'd get if you'd dumped in all the hot water at once. It's really that second pouring that produces this extra-beautiful deliciousness.
Isn't that also true of hardships in life? When the hits keep coming - when that second dose of hot water follows the first - that's often when Christ really begins to fashion us after His own likeness. It's where He removes our bitterness and where His sweetness comes through. While one adverse circumstance can help us become more Christlike, it's often the hardship on top of hardship that truly polishes and refines our faith. If we can help our struggling kids understand this, it can make all the difference in helping them grow instead of wilt when adversity hits.
But that wasn't all that I learned about coffee making. When I tried to add boiling water to a cup at home - my favorite mug, no less - it cracked under the heat. Hot water seeped down and spilled all over the counter. The mug was completely ruined by that water. I had to throw it away.
So this is what I plan to do with my sons: I'll sit them down and teach them the art of the pour-over. I'll explain how the second blast of boiling water is needed to produce a beautiful, rich cuppa Joe. And we'll discuss how this really applies to life as well as to java.
We'll compare how the extra dose of hot water created a delicious drink but how it also shattered my own mug with its intensity. I'll ask them which example they want to follow when life gets difficult for them. Which example pleases the Lord, and which one will bring them to ruin? Do they want to be a rich example of Christ at work in them during times of testing, or will they shatter and lose heart when life is hard?
I want to lovingly challenge them to decide which example they've been following and whether or not it's the best way to respond to hardship. And then I'll ask if they'd like to start a new coffee tradition with me, where we can discuss the difficulties we face each week.
I can't pretend I know what it's like to parent a struggling teenage son. And I also can't predict whether or not this coffee tradition idea will open up conversations with your child. But I do know that we as mothers have a beautiful gift from God in our ability to influence our children, and our desire to impart Biblical wisdom to them pleases the Lord.
So pray over your children. Ask the Lord for wisdom as you seek to help them through their difficulties.
And put some water on to boil.