“Anna, there’s a duck out.”  That was my observation as I looked out the living room window the other morning. Her reply revealed that this was NOT the first time one of our ducks had escaped. “Again??”, she said. What followed was the normal procedure of Bethany distracting Mocha, the dog, while Anna corralled the curious duck back to safety. As usual, it was not without the loss of a few feathers. Fortunately, for the duck, the loss was not greater. Will these ducks ever learn??  I doubt it. It seems to be “duck nature” to always want the greener grass on the other side of their fence of protection.

Around our house lately, there has been a whole lot of preparation going on for an upcoming graduation cook-out! Along with this busy-ness comes times of reflection as our fifth child, Bethany, sees a chapter close in her life. As with any parents of older children, the times of looking back include thoughts of “I wish I had done this a little differently” or “If I had known then what I know now, I would have…”. But, along with those thoughts come the assurance of, “If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing!”  I am thankful for the grace that God has shown my husband and I through the years, but I am also thankful for the grace our own children have shown these imperfect parents as they have had to be on the receiving end of some “trial and error” parenting while their Daddy and I have grown in the Lord.

Reading the following verse this morning was a reminder of some things we would not change if we were able to go back and do it again:

“Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?” Psalm 80:12

Through the years, my husband and I, by God’s grace, have attempted to build a hedge of protection in our home…a hedge built of standards that were based on Biblical convictions. The hedge was not as tall, not as dense when our children were small. But, as our children got older and as we – “the Hedge-Builders” – grew in knowledge of what God’s Word said, the hedge got a little taller…a little thicker. Over the years, there have been times when it was necessary for the hedge to be reinforced or even repaired when a break was revealed by inspecting it in the light of Scripture.

One aspect of our hedge-building involved my husband’s decision to homeschool our children and oh, how thankful I am for this decision! God had already been working in his heart for a couple years but he knew he must wait for the Lord to show me as well. I will always remember the verses God used to show me His will for our family, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”  Deuteronomy 6:6,7

Since that time, the Lord has used other Scripture to confirm this decision, such as –

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  Proverbs 4:23  (All of our decisions come from what is in our hearts. If we, as parents, hope to influence our children in their important decision-making, we must have their hearts.)

“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…”  Malachi 4:6

“My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:” Proverbs 6:20-23

Hedge-building will not take place without challenges from within. Just as that curious duck of ours, there will be times in our parenting years when curious children/teens desire to escape or at least stick their neck out to be able to reach the “greener grass”. Their desire is human nature, partly due to the inability to understand the hedge is for their protection. It is when their natural curiosity turns to challenging instead of trusting the wisdom of the hedge-builders, that a heart problem is revealed. The child’s heart has been lost. And, sadly, the loss of a heart could result in further loss if not retrieved quickly.

Hedge-building will also be met with ridicule from without. As with any parents who choose to go against the grain by submitting to God’s will for their family, we have had our share of opposition. Just recently, I found myself in the middle of a conversation that was somewhat of a challenge to a choice that had been made…a questioning of a decision in the repairing of the hedge. Because of God’s Word, I was able to confidently say that if we had to make the decision all over again, we wouldn’t change a thing. A break had been discovered and, in light of the Scripture, a repair had been made. My husband and I both knew that the decision had resulted in the retrieving and/or keeping of children’s hearts. Again, how important to build the hedge with Biblical principles. As Christians, God’s Word should always, always be our final authority!

If we could, would we go back and make some adjustments to the hedge, or maybe repairs that we failed to see? Absolutely! What parent hasn’t said or at least thought, “If I only knew then what I know now…” Thank the Lord for His mercy and longsuffering in each of our lives! But, there are some areas in which I know that we would not change a thing and one of those areas is my husband’s decision almost 24 years ago. Perhaps I am feeling a little sentimental these days, as I witness yet another child complete her high school education. With five of our six now graduated, where have the years gone? I truly thank God for His faithfulness to us – faithfulness to provide our every need  in the education of the children He has blessed us with – faithfulness to provide strength and wisdom from His Word in this area of hedge-building.

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap…”  Ezekiel 22:30

~ Rachel ~

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