Every 4thof July morning, our ordinary collection of middle-class houses becomes an extraordinary celebration of family and freedom with our neighborhood parade. (Note: We were even featured in Family Fun magazine as one of the Most Fun Neighborhoods in the USA several years ago! That’s how fun our neighbors are!) To prepare for Independence Day, we simply invite our community Fire Station and Police Department. Parents decorate strollers, wagons (and their toddlers). Kiddos jazz up their bikes, their scooters…and their favorite pets. Some years even an occasional riding lawn mower joins the ranks. Our three beloved veterans serve as our Grand Marshals. Each house brings a treat ready to share at the parade’s ending point. Yep. It may not be fancy, but it sure is good ole All-American fun!
The secret for a memory-making Independence Day? We’ve learned how to prepare. So now is it all smiles and no sweat? Well, there are the occasional surprises. Plus, there is usually still some sweat involved because it’s so hot and humid in Kentucky mid-summer. Nevertheless, year after year we anticipate Independence Day with collective joy! Without a doubt, our neighborhood families look forward to the 4thof July, but how excited are we for our own children’s Independence Days to roll around?
In the Wigginton family, those kinds of Independence Days are represented by the morning we placed our 6-week old in the church nursery for the first time, paid our first babysitter for a long overdue date night, or walked our kindergartener to the bus stop for her first day of school. Don’t even get me started on the first time each daughter began driving alone, putting our 16 year old on a plane heading to Africa as a summer intern, or moving each daughter off to college. Yes ma’am, those are the Independence Days that require far different preparation than a 4thof July parade, right?
We may not have a specific date on the calendar for these “Independence Days.” However, like our annual neighborhood celebration, we know these days are coming. And like the 4thof July festivities, our preparation can increase the joy of the day. So this summer let’s be mommas who ask God to prepare us for these all-important Independence Days. Then as proactive parents, when it’s time for our chicks to take their steps toward independence, we can enjoy them as celebrations of both family and freedom!
Preparing our Girls for Independence Days:
At each stage of life, God calls moms to balance roles of both protection and preparation. Like a momma bird building a nest and sitting on her eggs, the protective stages of parenting are essential and grow more important with each generation born into this increasingly depraved world. So protect them we must. As a mom I sought to teach our girls to be careful without being fearful. Wow, that’s a lesson this momma has to personally review often for my own heart, especially in preparation for Independence Days!
As a parent, protection must be partnered with intentional preparation. Each momma bird who actively guards her nest of baby birds is the same one who actively feeds them. She doesn’t pass off the responsibility to the “nest” next door. She lives as a Proverbs 31:15 kinda bird, she daily “provides food for her family…and assigns tasks to her maidens.” God’s Word is true, we can learn a lot from looking at the birds of the air.
Here’s to calling for a flock of momma birds that both faithfully provide plus prepare our maidens for their God-destined assignments. (The Heart of Womanhood Portraits Bible Studies are specifically designed to support you in this active preparation role as you teach your baby birds to fly independently; developing life skills, relational strengths and spiritual disciplines while drawing your hearts closer to Jesus and each other.)
As they grow, momma birds encourage their babies to do new things, hard things. Remember how momma birds teach babies to fly by pushing them out of the nest while staying close enough to rescue them until they are fully independent? It’s hard to watch our youngins struggle to learn life lessons, isn’t it? This momma prays often to resist the urge to “do it for them” or “make it easier” for them. Instead let’s become mommas that are“pushy” in a good way, a holy way, encouraging our daughters to try the new things God desires that are beyond their ability and comfort, for this will require greater dependence on Jesus. And He will be found faithful.
Preparing our own Souls for their Independence Days:
As we prepare for our girls’ Independence Days we will also be wise to let God prepare our own hearts as well. In Matthew 14:22, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side.” Following the example of Jesus, we can see how He actively prepared (and pushed) His disciples while making His own strength of soul an uncompromised priority. Spending time with the Father always took priority over His time with His “kids.”
Like Jesus, the picture He draws in these verses is also one of Him “sending” His children, not them leaving. In John 20:21, “Jesus said again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” His mission was God’s great commission. Ours too. We are given children with the goal of sending them out. We prepare our girls for such times as these. With this mindset, each Independence Day becomes a time of celebration as another goal is achieved!
For me, I ask God in advance of Independence Days to set my mind (and keep it set) on the following truths:
– I am God’s girl before I am our little girl’s mom. The reverse is also true: our girl is God’s before she is mine! (And I can certainly trust Him with her!) My identity (and hers) are complete in Christ alone and always. It is difficult not to tether them to you (or you to them) but instead stay anchored to Christ, right? But when you both have Jesus as the anchor for your soul (Heb. 16:9), then you can both cruise into the unchartered waters of the next Independence Day with joyful anticipation!
– God has incredible plans for me outside of “mommy-hood.” I frequently ask God for new dreams, new visions, new interests, new friendships, new opportunities. (Who knows God may even give you a new golden doodle puppy to care for like me!) Sharing these new visions and passions with your girls will model healthy mom independence plus release them to fully engage in their own next season of independence.
– In Christ, the greatest days are always before us. Always. Whether it is new stages of marriage, or parenting, or empty nest, we can always look forward to the AWESOME God has in store for us as we depend on Him. By faith we can prayerfully picture our families thriving in our new seasons of life confident that with Jesus, the next Independence Day will always be the greatest…especially when that final step takes us into eternity with Him!
Yes. The preparations for the annual Independence Day celebration have been made. And yes, there probably will be a few surprises that come along the way. But with our hearts set on Jesus, our ordinary families will become extraordinary as we truly enjoy this celebration of family and freedom as a gift from God.
Kim Wigginton is a Christ follower. Married to Steve for over 30 years, they live blessed by their three grown daughters. With a heart for encouraging other moms and their girls, Kim is author of the Portraits Bible Study Series and founder of Heart of Womanhood Ministry. An uplifting writer and speaker, Kim enjoys creative arts and athletics, sunshine and smiles, God’s Word and God’s girls! She lives in Louisville, Kentucky and serves at Southeast Christian Church.