Just Do the Best You Can

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This post was originally published on March 2, 2013. It still works for me. Just do the best you can with the tools and information God has given you.

Just Do the Best You Can - Just do the best you can with the tools and information God has given you.

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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?”

Just Do the Best You Can - Just do the best you can with the tools and information God has given you.

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. Hold tightly to a man who will speak words of encouragement when it is needed. What a great example to this children.

  2. I graduated from college and then stayed home for 10 years to be a stay at home mom. I kind of apologized to my parents for not using my degree. My dad said he didn’t feel like it was a waste because he was glad to know his grandchildren had an educated mother. You use what you learned in college. You use how to research, you use stuff about education. You learned how to think. You probably use what you learned more than you realize. You are a better teacher to your children because you have that. It’s not a bad thing to have a degree and not use it. It’s also not a bad thing to not have a degree. I now have a Master’s degree–and am actually using it and loving it. My husband (no degree) has had a job for 14 years–and I have had mine for about 5–and we are making the same pay. He has a lot of experience and common sense and problem solving skills–none of which you can really learn in school. I like the theme of this. Just do the best you can… Our son (15) will probably not go to college. He is more technically minded. Our daughter (12) already knows where she wants to go to college and what she wants to be. I figure that may change a bit in the next 10 years, but she probably will go to and graduate from college. Different things work for different people! Use the gifts God gave you and do the best you can with them! 🙂

  3. Makes me think of song. I have a destiny!

    Hmmmm, a graduate degree not using, have one of those too.
    Hmmm, do the best you can. Now that is a very profound thought for me, I regularly think, not doing right, not doing enough, hmmm, who am I really listening too??? Clearly, not my Father God, Adonai.

    A breath of fresh air for me today.

  4. Thank you for this post. It is comforting to know that no matter what, God has wonderful plans for our children, in spite of us.

  5. Sometimes one post can just ease your mind….this is one of them. With a daughter in college & a junior in high school looking at colleges this post hit home. And your right Ive raised them right doing the best I can and now it is up to them with Gods help to keep going on the right path. thanks for you nblog!!!

  6. wow, what a wonderful post. thank you. i find myself in a similar place right now. i drive myself crazy thinking about all the things i should be doing to prepare my kids for an unknown future. but as you said, when in comes right down to it, God is in control. he knows what my children need far more than i do — if i could just get it into my head that my job is to do the best i can and know that he will take care of the rest, i’m sure there would be much more peace in our home. thanks again.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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-

  11. 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. 🙂

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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 !

  15. 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.

  16. 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. 😉