Yesterday we accompanied our oldest son, Christian to move into his college dorm at Cincinnati Christian University. It isn't his first time leaving home for college, but it is a new start....for both of us.
Parenting is hard and challenging at all stages but the transition from high school to college has been the hardest for me. Trying to figure out when to share advice and when to just listen. Knowing when to give warnings and when to keep silent and pray. Your child is now an adult but they still need your guidance, acceptance and love. It's not easy finding that balance.
When Christian left for college for the first time in the fall of 2014, our relationship was very strained. Every conversation became an argument. He was making some bad choices but he was also making some good ones. I couldn't see the good. I focused solely on the bad. He didn't want to talk about the bad, so he became defensive. There was no peace in our relationship. He is my firstborn and we have a very special bond. So the pain of our severely strained relationship was so very hard.
I began taking my hurts and confusion to God. I prayed daily for Christian to see the error in his choices and for God to help mend our relationship. Some days those prayers were just tears because I couldn't find the words.
After his first year of college, Christian came home but didn't live at home. I continued to pray and little by little I began reaching out to him. We would do breakfast a couple times a month. He would come for family dinner a couple times a month. I asked him questions about his life and was very careful about giving too much motherly advice. We talked about what God was teaching each of us from His Word.
Our relationship was slowly mending. God was showing me that my job as a mother was changing. I had to let go of this child and give him completely into God's hands. He will always need me to be his mom but he's not 12 years old anymore. Christian needed me to listen and share wisdom but not in the lecturing way that I had been doing. I could not be his Holy Spirit. He had to listen for God's voice in his life and follow that.
I didn't do things perfectly. It was very easy to revert back to the "I'm your mom, do what I say" mode. We were rebuilding trust with each other and that takes time. Every time I would mess up, I would ask God to help me be a better listener and to give me discernment on when to speak. Every chance I got, I let him know that I loved him and that he was welcome to return home when he was ready. Every day I prayed that God would speak to Christian and that Christian would listen.
I was so excited when Christian shared with us that he would be heading to Cincinnati Christian to continue his education and to play football. Then in November, another huge prayer was answered when Christian moved back home. I was so excited to have him home but I was more overjoyed by the fact that our relationship had been healed.
The tension and strain in our relationship was gone. There was peace again. Now we still didn't see eye to eye on everything and I didn't always agree with some of his choices, but God had done a work in me too.
I learned that I'm not in control of every aspect of my children's lives. That's God's job and He's perfect at it. My job is to love God and to teach my children how to love God.
So as I look at this picture, I see the power of a mother's prayer and the amazing love of a God who hears her. I see a new and fresh start. I see that with God anything is possible.
In just a few weeks Christian will be celebrating his 19th birthday. It will be his first birthday celebrated away from home. I would love for all of his friends and family to send him a card or small package in the mail. I think it would be great for him to have his mailbox full everyday for at least a week.
Facebook & email birthday wishes are great but there is nothing like cards, letters and packages filling up your mailbox on your birthday!!
So mark you calendars and show Christian some love. His birthday is Monday September 8th. So help me fill his mailbox that day and for the rest of that week.
Here's his mailing address:
Malone University Box 648
2600 Cleveland Avenue
Canton, OH 44709-3897
Six thousand nine hundred and thirteen days ago I became a mom for the first time. Today I became a college mom for the first time.
Six thousand nine hundred and eleven days ago I left the hospital with a 10 lb baby boy and no clue how motherhood would change my life. Today that baby boy began a new adventure as a young man preparing for his future.
As a young parent you spend many days wondering if you'll ever sleep through the night again or get an uninterrupted shower. You feel like a broken record repeating the same commands day in and day out, "Clean your room", Don't hit your brother", "Take out the trash", "Do your homework", "No cellphones after 9:30".
Many times you think the long days will never end and they will never grow up. But they will. Before you know it, six thousand nine hundred thirteen days will be gone. You will look into the face of your child and instead see the face of an adult.
You will realize that the day that you've been preparing and working towards has arrived. Your parenting journey is about to change in a huge way. Your baby is all grown up and eager to begin the next chapter. You know this is the next step in God's plan but it's a difficult one....especially for a mom.
You carried this child in your body for 9 months. You felt their kick for the first time. You spent many long nights rocking them and singing to them. You've cared for them when they were sick. Listened to them when they needed to talk. Prayed for them through the good times and the rough times. You've been their cheerleader, taxi driver and teacher.
But now you must let them go. You must hold back the tears and put away the feelings of sadness. This is a time to celebrate the learning and growing that has taken place over the past six thousand nine hundred thirteen days. Celebrate the blessing of being an integral part of the training and upbringing of a passionate, dedicated follower of Christ.
I never knew that six thousand nine hundred plus days would feel like such a blur. When you're in the midst of the trenches of parenting, it can be very difficult to see past the moment. I want to encourage you to make the most of every one of the days with your children.
Ask God to give you the strength to keep going when you get exhausted and discouraged. Make time to teach them how to be godly young men and women. Because you will blink and the child that you are rocking will be spending their first night in a college dorm a few hours away. And you will be excited for them yet missing them at the same time.
Another August is upon us. It's that conflicted time of year for me. I'm not ready to say goodbye to warm weather, sleeping in and late night movies. However, I am ready for the big hits, the touchdowns and the lights of Friday night football.
This year August brings a huge milestone for the Carlson family....our firstborn heads off to college. He begins a new chapter in his life and gets to fulfill his dream of playing college football. A dream that will take him to a school about 3 hours away from home.
A dream that seemed so far away just last week when he was 2 years old running around the yard with the nerf football. Or the other day when he put on shoulder pads for his very first peewee game. Or yesterday when he played his first Friday night game under the lights.
I can't believe that the time has arrived for us to send him off to start such an exciting chapter of his life. We have spent many hours training and preparing. We've navigated setbacks and surviced injuries. We've practiced the game plan over and over and over. Now it's time for him to take the field and give it all he's got.
Being victorious is all up to him and how he executes the game plan. We can't join him on the field to tell him what to do next. We must rely on the training and preparation. We must trust God's hand upon his life.
We know that God loves Him more than we do and has plans much bigger than we could ever imagine. We know that our son will face new challenges as well as battle old habits. The time has arrived for us to let go and watch him fly.
In just over a month, we'll be dropping out firstborn off for his freshman year of college at Malone University. As I look back over our journey, I can see so many things that God has done to confirm for us that this is HIS plan for Christian.
One of Christian's fears of leaving for college was not finding a church near campus that he could get plugged into. He had really been praying about that over the past few months and so had I. And this week, God answered that prayer.
This past week Christian was a part of Super Summer. If you're not familiar with it, it's a week long intense Bible study for youth who want to be leaders in their youth groups. They spend time with other youth their age digging into Scripture during the day and then everyone comes together each night for worship and preaching.
One of the leaders of the group that Christian was in is a pastor at a church plant just north of Canton, about 15 minutes from Malone. He told Christian that he would love for him to come be a part of their church and even offered him the opportunity to serve in the church. The pastor told Christian that he even had a ride for him to get to the church.
Christian's exact words to me when he shared the great news, "I'm more excited about getting to serve with this church than I am about playing football".
I'm thanking God tonight for how he orchestrates circumstances in our lives to answer prayer and to once again show us that he is always working. We just have to keep praying and asking and believing.
After a long journey of college visits and camps, Christian has decided that he will be attending Malone University in the fall of 2014. When we visited the campus, he knew almost immediately that it was where he would spend the next four years.
He is excited to be continuing his football career at the next level. I'm excited that I will still have the opportunity to watch him play for a few more years. I'm also very thankful for an amazing coaching staff that focuses on his spiritual maturity and academic progress as much as his athletic performance.
Christian will be majoring in Pastoral Studies and minoring in Missions/Cross-Cultural Ministries. He will have several opportunities to go on missions trips all over the world as well as serve throughout the local area while he's at Malone. There will be Bible studies, chapels & worship sessions each week.
There's something else that I'm so excited for him to be able to experience......Christian professors. He has spent the past 4 years in a public high school being taught by just a couple of Christian teachers. Many of the teachers are atheists or agnostics. He has had to constantly defend his faith and belief in God with his teachers and his classmates.
I'm excited for him to be in classes taught from a Christian worldview. I think it's really going to blow his mind and help him grow even deeper in his knowledge of God and the Bible.
Many people have asked me, "Aren't you going to miss him?" I will definitely miss him and our great conversations about God, life and relationships. But more than that I'm excited for him to get the opportunity to answer the calling that God has placed on his life.
I consider my job as a mother to be a success when my children recognize their purpose here on earth and pursue doing whatever is necessary to fulfill it.
Win in the classroom! Win in the community! Win on the field! Operation Win! That is the motto for the University of Kentucky Wildcats football program.
Today was our first D1 college camp and I was very impressed with the way things were run. Coach Joker Phillips started the day by speaking to the athletes and their parents to welcome them to the UK Sunday Showcase Football Camp.
Coach Phillips expects a lot from his athletes. He expects them to excel in the classroom. This year marks the highest grades for football players ever at the university. He wants athletes to serve in their communities and the world. Coach
Phillips just returned yesterday from a trip to Ethiopia with 3 other UK football players. He said those players have been forever changed by that trip.
And of course Coach Phillips wants to win on the field. He wants athletes who have a passion and hunger in their eyes for not just playing the game but winning the game. He also wants players who are coachable and always hustling. This was clearly evident during the position drills on the field
I was really impressed with Coach Phillips and his methods of motivating players. He encourages the relationship of the team to be like that of a family. Each player is motivated by that relationship to be there for each other and not do anything that will disappoint a coach or a teammate on or off the field. He spoke very negatively about athletes who commit then de-commit to a college. He said it was a bunch of crap. He also told parents that if they allowed their sons to do that, it was a bunch of crap. He said that he wants the relationship between his coaching staff and a recruit to be so solid that no one can come between them. I want that kind of relationship for Christian when he makes his college choice.
If you have a Sophomore, Junior or Senior, I highly recommend the Sunday Showcase. The fee is only $30 and that includes combine testing, position specific drills run by UK coaching staff, a box lunch, and a t-shirt. Plus you get a tour of the indoor training facility, locker room and the stadium. I’m not sure how other colleges run their camps, but UK has set the bar of expectations extremely high for future camps. We will definitely be attending this camp again next summer.
Next up for us is the Martin Bayless Football Camp at Welcome Stadium in Dayton on June 3rd. Then we take a break from college visits and football camps to attend kid's kamp, leadership camp and serve on missons trips.
I'm excited to see the opportunities that God will open up for Christian through his football abilities. Thankful that God is not just walking this journey with us, He's leading us every step of the way.
We officially began our college search yesterday by taking a tour of the University of Kentucky campus. It is a very large and beautiful campus. And of course it gets bonus points for being in the SEC!!
We were given lots of great information about the college application process and everything that UK offers its students. After the information session, Rich was ready to enroll himself. Especially when he saw the list of restaraunts on campus (including 4 Starbucks) and found out that the dorm rooms have cable & wi-fi. We finish out our visit to the University of Kentucky tomorrow with the Sunday Showcase Football Camp. This will give Christian an inside look at the UK coaching staff and football program.
I'm excited and nervous about this chapter of our lives. We have a lot of work to do over the next year as we evaluate schools, athletic programs and scholarship options. However, I know that as we seek God's guidance, he will give us the wisdom needed to make the right choice for our family.
At this point we don't know if that will be a secular or Christian college, D1 2 or 3, in-state or across the country. There are so many options that it can easily become overwhelming. We're trusting God to lead us in His direction for Christian's future.
We want to be sure that our choices reflect our desire to glorify Him and not ourselves. We each have our own ideas for what we think would be the ideal place for Christian to continue his education, but noone knows God's plan like He does. I'm excited to walk this journey discovering God's plan along the way.
No matter which college he ends up attending, it will not change how I feel about the SEC. It will always be superior to every other conference.
Wasn't it just last week that we were bringing him home from the hospital? And wasn't it just yesterday he was learning to walk? Can he really be 16 years old already? Can it really be time to begin visiting colleges? My heart tells me, "No, it's too soon". Then I look and see how much he has grown and the young man he is becoming. I hear him talk about his future and what God is calling him to do. And my head says, "Yes, it's almost time". He is learning to be a great leader in the locker room, on the football field and in the youth group. He has
great mentors in his life who pour their knowledge and love for God into him. He is striving daily to use his talents and gifts to glorify God.
I fear that the next two years are going to go way too fast. Sometimes I wonder if we've taught him enough. Will he be ready to face the world? A world full of temptations for college athletes. A world that will throw ots of things at him to draw him away from God.
As I look back, I see opportunities that we missed to train him in the Lord. Should we have been more strict? Should we have let him have more freedom? Have we given him a firm foundation in God's Word? Most importantly, has he made his faith his own? Does he know what he believes and why according to God's Word? I think that foundation is the key to his personal success away from home. Later this month, he will get his first glimpse of what college life is like. He will be attending College for a Weekend at my alma mater, Liberty University. He will stay in the dorms, go to class, eat in the dining hall and visit the athletic complex. We have joined NCSA to help get his info out to college recruiters. We're currently editing game film so that it can be uploaded to his profile and distributed to thousands of colleges nationwide. It's gonna be a crazy couple of years. Let the journey begin.