by Michele Latham
I made gifts for my children for Nativity this year. Altoid tins, paper icons, paint, embellishments and lots of glue. Voilà! A miniature shrine for each patron saint. Did I mention that my five kids are practically grown? Ages range from 19 to 25? No matter, the idea would have been the same if they were toddlers or adults. It’s always been my job to pray for them and encourage them to pray.
If you’re a parent in the middle of raising youngsters right now, it may be hard to imagine them grown up. But it happens. So fast! I remember thinking I had plenty of time to prepare my children (and myself) for the day they left home. My husband and I talked with them about finances, auto maintenance, and other practical matters to top off the years of parental guidance we had already administered. And now I think about those sons and daughters daily and pray for God’s mercy and guidance as they live their grown up lives.
Sometimes, I picture the kids going about their daily activities and my imagination kicks in. Random, disturbing thoughts occur to me. Did I warn them of the dangers? Did I tell the children to be cautious about certain things? Things like using credit cards too much, slamming the brakes on wet pavement, trusting the wrong person… swimming in the ocean?
And then I wonder if I reminded them to watch for beauty when they’re out on their own. Did I advise them to embrace the good things they’ll find? Things like independence, health, new friendships and… swimming in the ocean?
These thoughts pass quickly though, and I don’t worry too much. I pray for my grown children and give my opinion if they ask. But mostly, I trust God. I may not have covered all the dos and don’ts of adult life with my kids, but I’m sure they know to love God and love others.
My confidence doesn’t come from the great job I did teaching them. Nor did I set a perfect example. But, our family did attend Divine Liturgy throughout those formative years, the children received Holy Communion and listened to the words of our loving pastor.
It gives me joy to see the icon corners in their new homes and apartments and to know that they are praying. But all of this is not to say that the road for them will be smooth or that they won’t forget what they know from time to time. That is why I made the shrines. I want them to remember that they have help available when they pray these words to their saints:
“Pray unto God for me, O Holy (N.), well-pleasing to God: for I turn unto you, who are the speedy helper and intercessor for my soul.”
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