Friday, March 18, 2011

Cruise report #1: embarking

“Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side” - Mark 8:13

The cruise with Jeanie was awesome! We left out of Galveston on March 6th and spent a week sailing through the Western Caribbean. We visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico and the other days just had fun on the ship. It’s amazing how much a cruise is like the journey we take when we become parents. The key components of a cruise are embarking, sailing, taking excursions, and debarking. Parenting goes through stages too.

Every cruise has an “embarkation.” It’s a big word that means, “leaving the port.” In other words, every cruise has a beginning and so much of how the trip starts has everything to do with how it goes. Carnival cruise lines went to great lengths to make sure we at least felt like we were educated on when and how we were leaving. Signage, literature, announcements, and videos were all intended to prepare us for the big voyage.

Parenting has a beginning too. Before we have kids, we are given all kinds of literature and are required to attend classes on the basics of parenting. NOT! Someone said, “Our kids have to be the most important items we own that have no owners manual.” Most of us get married and plan to have kids after we’ve bought a big house, saved thousands of dollars and figured it all out. Nearly all of us are surprised at God’s timing in sending us our beautiful kids. But we know He knows when we’re ready.

So the parenting ship “embarks” and the journey begins. I know we were always thankful for God’s grace in giving us 9 months “pre-embarkation” time to prepare to be a mom and dad. Be thankful you’re not a pigeon, most of which have an 11-day gestation period. Can you imagine finding out you’re pregnant and then 2 weeks later, you have a child? Or you could be an elephant, of which some breeds have a 2-year gap between conception and delivery. 2 years!

Whether 2 weeks or 2 years, the journey eventually begins and though the preparation doesn't include a written manual, God does promise to never leave us alone to do all the sailing by ourselves. He designed the two parenting system to man the ship. Now let me say that single parenting can be 100% effective in raising healthy kids too. I know so many single moms and dads who do a tremendous job in difficult situations raising awesome kids. But most would say they’d love to have a partner sailing with them.

On the cruise, the captain introduced himself to us that first day and explained his “purpose” for the cruise: for us to relax and have fun. And he assured us of his role in keeping us safe. It’s important for us to remember that the Lord is the captain of this journey we call parenting. Though we may feel unprepared and fearful as we begin the parenting journey, Jesus promises He will give us the strength we need to raise our sweet children.

We can begin the journey confident in our love and care for our kids. There is no greater opportunity to practice true love as we die to ourselves and love our child. We choose to surrender our world for theirs and the boat leaves the port and the journey begins.

We can rest assured that the journey will be fine because someone wiser, smarter and more experienced is at the helm. So the journey will be fine, even without an owner’s manual.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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