Just Do the Best You Can

Grant's Farm, St. Louis, MO

When I was younger, life seemed rather straightforward. You grow up, you go to college, you find a job, you get married, you have kids, you live happily ever after. As a woman I see that this is more or less life, but there are lots of hills, valleys, and bumps in the road.

As a mom, I see it to be much more complicated. I feel a responsibility to help my kids be on the right road. While I’m not ancient, I do know that in my 40 years of life, the world has changed tremendously.

The internet didn’t exist when I was a child and was not quite up to speed when I was in graduate school. A Commodore 64 was my dream computer at age 10. When my husband and I first met, cell phones were for doctors and drug dealers, well, for drug dealers, either way. Media consisted of TV, radio, and print. And college was a given. You just went. If you ever hoped to be somebody, you went to college.

Yes, the world has changed, indeed, dramatically so in the years since I timidly set foot on a college campus as a freshman.

I asked FishPapa this week on date night, “Where do you see FishBoy 15 in 2 years?”

FishFam in Sierras

We both get the deer in the headlights look over that. Our first born will be “on his own” in two very short years. And we have no idea what that looks like. Is college the end-all, be-all for our kids? Have we prepped them for the world? How do we guide them into this ever-changing future?

Have we done it right?

Neither of us has the answers. Without a college degree, my husband has supported our family for close to 20 years, despite the changes in the world. I, on the other hand, have a graduate degree that I’m technically “not using”. Does college really matter? We don’t know.

My husband said, “We raise them to be polite, kind, and responsible. We give them good food and a loving home, a stable environment. We can’t do it perfectly because we don’t know what perfect it. I think we just do the best we can and be okay with that. We love them. God is bigger than whatever we could plan to do.”

In that moment, I felt an enormous sense of peace. Just do the best we can.

That’s all we can ever really do, isn’t it? We can plan and hope and dream. But, ultimately, in spite of us or our failings, God leads the path. He can right our wrongs and catch our fumbles. The best laid plans are no match for God’s hopes for our futures. And that of our children.

Just do the best you can.

 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
 I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
 I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.

Psalm 119:58-60 

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  1. My own 12 year old boy was asking me questions about college this week too… I thought about his big brothers, who are now BOTH in the military (different branches), and we never could have foreseen that. Thank God that He is in control and we are not. ;)

  2. thank you for sharing your thoughts and the verses from Psalm 119. trust in God and do the best we can. thankful for the peace He provides.

  3. What a beautiful encouraging post. Thank you.
    God bless you & your family.
    All we can ever do it our best. God will do the rest !

  4. Tis so true, just do the best you can. Our oldest who is very handy and hands on thinks he has found his niche (at 37). I hope so. It hasn’t been an easy road. Prodigal son (child #2) went down a very ugly path in his 20’s. We prayed, were supportive, but did not enable him. Finally HE made the decision to change his path and in the past year finished his graduate degree and got a teaching job that he loves right out of the gate. He and his wife have a beautfiul baby girl. Child #3 (our only girl) went straight to college, graduated in 4 years and then got her graduate degree. She has been unable to find full time employment the past 4 years but is able to get enough sub jobs. She married her college sweetheart right after graduation. They are good stewards of what they have. Different paths for all three. We felt it was our job to teach them to do the right thing, support each as needed in an appropriate way according to the need. Be supportive but not interfere. They all love the Lord. God is good!

  5. This post came at a perfect time as we have been painstakingly trying to find the best fit preschool wise for our soon to be 3 year old for the fall who is now reading. Thank you for the reminder that God has this handled already!

  6. Jeanine Woods says:

    Such a helpful post. I am 8 months pregnant and have not been feeling like I’ve been at my best for my two and four year old. I am worried about what it will be like for them when I am a postpartum mess. You’re right, I have to just do the best I can and God will help me to be there for everyone who needs me. :)

  7. Becky Mason says:

    Thanks for this post. I have been struggling with this with my children. I didn’t have the best role model from my mom and I am afraid of making mistakes and ruining them. The Lord has been telling me that I don’t have to be perfect just do the best I can. I pray for wisdom and need to release it to Him. He will guide them in the direction and I will make mistakes! Thanks again-

  8. Thank you for this post, Jessica. I constantly wonder if I’m doing things right, and I wonder if I’m being the mom I need to be for my children. I heard this phrase a few months ago, and it keeps coming back to me, “You are not your child’s Holy Spirit.” God works in the lives of my little ones, and he knows their hearts more than I do. Yes, I have a huge responsibility to them, but I also know that someone a whole heckofalot bigger than I am is in charge of their souls. And that’s a huge comfort to me.

  9. Christine A says:

    That FishPapa is so darn smart!!! I love what he said! It is so true, so simple, and so insightful! I printed it out and put up in my office as a reminder!

  10. Jessica:
    I so hear your heart and thought I might share from some of my own experience having homeschooled my children for over 23 years. My husband and I did not encourage or send our children to college. Our oldest son did an internship with a Christian company at the age of 19 and continued to work for them for 9 years before becoming self-employed with a friend doing web marketing. He has equipped himself well with personal study and hands on experience. He now supports his family and works from home. Our daughter has always been a very motivated student and is an incredible wife, homemaker and mother. Our youngest son,at the age of 18, still in the home, has a full time job and has had two of his novels published and is working on his third. I have a degree in education and my husband practiced law for twenty-five years but neither of us use our college degrees at this time. Each family has to make their own decisions regarding the college experience but I just want to encourage those who think that just because society seems to deem college as a necessity, it does not need to be. My children have experienced success because they learned how to work hard, be responsible for their own learning and have always made their walk with God a first priority.

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