Being a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs any woman can have, but it is not an easy one. In fact, it is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love ~ kind of like the army. Most people assume I am talking about the early stages of parenting that involve late-night feedings, diaper changes, potty training, etc. However, I mean ALL of it. Even as they start walking, talking, and driving, I have found, especially as my children get ready to celebrate their 20th and 18th birthdays, that the motherly roles and responsibilities become even more challenging and increasingly complex as they get older. One example that comes to mind is the process of steering and advising them during the mine fields of college selections/admissions, narrowing down a major, and ultimately choosing a career path. Phew! And I thought potty-training was hard! Truth be told, it has nothing on helping your children make the decisions that will forever shape their futures. Plans for The Future Mothers, and fathers, have the awesome responsibility of molding, shaping and influencing the futures of the young people God has entrusted us with, but we are not without help. In fact, God’s Word tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). Also, these plans began well before the doctors ever placed these bundles of joy into our excited arms as God said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV). That takes a lot of pressure off, but we are not off the hook. As mothers, we are put here to serve and protect our families ~ kind of like the police (definitely good cops though). This means we have to get on the same page with God where our children and their futures are concerned. As our children grow, we must prayerfully ask God for guidance as to what He has in mind for them. Even if we can not clearly see it, we must carefully observe and consider the gifts He has placed in each one of them. Then, we have to do our best to nurture and preserve those gifts even if we don’t see how they might earn a living or how their gifts might ultimately fit into God’s plan for their futures. A Tale of Two Sons My oldest son is a sophomore in college, and as he advanced through high school I noticed his growing attachment to laptops ~ mine, his dad’s, and finally his own. I eventually enrolled him in a technology summer camp to see how he liked it. I was really excited to see the computer game he wound up developing and the sense of pride it generated. Since, he excelled in math and science, I had no hesitation in suggesting a major for him when he confessed, “I have no idea what I should major in for college.” The answer seemed very simple – computer information systems (it was my major too, and we have similar personalities, so I thought, why not?). As it turns out, I was close, but after one semester, he realized it was too business-oriented (he has an interest in video game development). He switched to computer science and seems happy with his choice. One son covered, and one to go! Of course two siblings can never be the same. My second son is now a senior in high school, and of course he has NO interest in computers. He is more enamored with his iPhone (i.e., apps, Twitter, Instagram, music videos, etc.). Unlike my other son, he isn’t thrilled with math or science. He is mesmerized by crime shows and is a football jock to the nth degree, as evidenced by the full football scholarship offer he received from West Point. When he signed up for a criminal justice class last year, I scratched my head and asked the Lord for help because I knew he had no desire to go to law school. Eventually, I asked him about some of his other interests. He started talking about sports science, which led to kinesiology (the scientific study of human movement, which relates to strength and conditioning, as well as methods of rehabilitation such as physical and occupational therapy and sports/exercise among other things – I think). A Much Needed Mother-Son Heart-to-Heart After a football practice got cut short, he surprised me by agreeing to go to lunch and to a movie with me. I jumped at the chance to spend the afternoon with him. During lunch, he mentioned a dream he had of being an athletic trainer at the college or NFL-level. I was excited to retell a story I felt God inspired me to share with him. When I was growing up in the projects of Augusta, Georgia, back in the early 80’s, I wanted to major in journalism, but my counselors advised me to major in a technical field that paid better (i.e., reporters made about $10k/year; whereas, engineers supposedly made about $38k/year). With an internship offer from DuPont, I picked an engineering discipline. However, I hated and struggled through the majority of my courses (except for English and courses where lots of writing was required). I even changed my major during my senior year to computer information systems (a lesser evil) when I didn’t have the grades to transfer to another school in journalism. I was trapped – I chose money instead of passion and purpose, and I paid and am still paying the price (to hear more, check out a video I did on this topic recently: http://youtu.be/UBVoRQgQL68). With all of that said, I told him that he should pursue his passion and purpose first, and trust the pay will come. I also gave him examples of people who pursued their passion and purpose that are doing quite well ~ people who majored in journalism, history, English, etc. without regard to hopes of high pay, just based on their God-given interests and abilities. Why else would God have placed the dreams and gifts within us, before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs, if he just wanted us to follow a paycheck? If a young person comes to you looking for guidance, be sure to encourage them to protect their dreams.