Family

Weariness – A Symptom of Not Abiding

As I mentioned in my post the other day (you can find it HERE), life has been very busy lately. It’s kind of ironic since this year I really wanted to slow down and get off the whole busy train, but other people’s schedules and events have kind of taken over my life. That happens when your son is about ready to graduate and your husband is turning 50, all within a few weeks of each other. In fact, the things that have made life busy are good things and they are things that really can’t be taken off my list.

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But,  lately, I’ve been dragging through my days. My joy and energy has felt kind of sucked away, and I have found myself putting off lunches and get togethers with friends because I have one more thing to do, and the idea of stopping or slowing down makes my chest feel tight with anxiety – because how will I get ALL THE THINGS DONE?

As a result, my soul has felt a bit shriveled. As Anne Shirley would say, “I feel rather rumpled in spirit.” In fact, writing on here has been a struggle because usually I just write about what God is showing me and things have been a bit quiet. Ironically, the reason things have been quiet on God’s end is because I am having trouble being still and quiet to listen.

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Or – true confessions here – when I get quiet, I fall asleep. I can’t tell you how many times lately I’ve closed my eyes to pray and woken with a start 30 minutes later, the time I’ve allotted for prayer completely gone and edging into my work hours.

Mostly, though, I find my mind refusing to focus when I pray or even when I’m reading my Bible. Instead, it races through all the things I need to get done and how I am going to fit them in and oh, I should write that down so I don’t forget and…. suddenly it’s past time I need to get to work.

So, yes, while I’m busy with good things, they have sort of invaded and taken over my spirit pushing aside the Spirit. The noise of my to dos drowning out God’s still small voice.

The result is that I feel empty. Without the fullness of God, that’s really not a surprise, but it’s so easy to get on the merry-go-round of busy and in the dizziness of doing forget how to get off once in a while. 

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Despite my lack of focus, God always has a way of getting my attention and it usually involves something I read. That was true in this case too.

In her post,  “The One Thing,”  on her blog Together for Good, Erin Kilmer wrote about how busy can become the focus rather than Jesus. I honestly felt like she was living my life. She’s busy too and with things she feels like she is called to do, but she writes that when her focus slips to the doing and off of Jesus, things kind of fall apart.

I asked God what is the one thing I am supposed to pursue? And He answered. One thing: I press on toward the goal. What is the goal? I think the answer is found in Hebrews 12. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith . . .

The goal is Jesus. We look at Him; we press on toward Him. He is the source of our endurance and our inspiration to keep on running.

And as I looked up the verses that Wiersbe quoted in his chapter, I found that really, this was the counsel of Scripture– that Jesus Himself is the One Thing I am supposed to pursue. ~ Erin Kilmer

And the truth is, I can’t do any of this without Jesus. I AM weak and it is only through HIS strength that I an accomplish anything at all. I’ve been trying to be the little engine that could only to find out I really can’t.

The second post was found over at Arabah Joy where guest poster, Meredith talked about this very subject – Intimacy with God in Seasons of Busyness.

But intimacy with God is different from surface actions. Intimacy with God comes from a relationship that is life defining and moment changing. It comes from what Jesus called in John 15, “abiding,” and with it comes a joy that He calls “full.” ~ Meredith from the Wicket Gate

It’s funny because for the last week or so, as I sling my legs over the side of my bed in the morning and my body and spirit resists the start of another day, my weariness has made me want to curl back up under the covers. I’ve spent more time in prayer saying, “I’m sorry, Lord; I don’t know what my problem is, but I’m just so tired,” all while my mind races to this, that and the other.

As usual, God has been faithful to meet me where I am at and to point me, gently, to an answer. “Come to me and abide.”

I currently have a number of plants hanging out on a table on my porch (no time to plant them, alas). While I am keeping them alive, these plants are not in anyway thriving. Why? Because they are not abiding in the soil. They can stay alive, but staying alive is far different than growing and blooming. Without the soil and the sun and the nutrients, those plants will be stunted and eventually wither no matter how much water I put on their roots.

Like those plants, I can survive but I can’t thrive unless I am planted in the presence of my Father. Unless I choose to abide there, I am merely surviving.

tree-1180517But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

~ Psalms 1:2-3

 

Blessings, Rosanne

6 Things to Do When Crazy is Your Everday

My life, at the moment, is crazy. I’m not sure how it happened, but I am in the process of planning two fairly large events within a couple weeks of each other – and event planning is really NOT my thing. I feel like I’ve been spinning on a merry-go-round for months now.

6 Things To Do When Crazy is Your Everyday

It started back in February and it seems like very single month has something big in it – from a good friend’s large baby shower to speaking at a teen conference to planning a surprise birthday party to planning a graduation party.

And I’m so tired.

But I still have three weeks before I can cross the last event off my list and sigh with relief. I’d love to say I’m handling this well, but I’m not. It’s made me a bit panicky and, well, grumpy. It’s hard to relax and I had a small panic attack and started hyperventilating in my car last week when I started to realize everything that has to get done between now and June 4th (which is my oldest son’s graduation party).

That’s when I knew that I needed to stop and take a deep breath because even though my schedule is a bit crazy right now, that doesn’t mean I have to be.

Here are four things I did to keep the crazy of my schedule from becoming crazy myself.

  1. Get some perspective. While my son’s graduation party is important, all the details probably mean far more to me than they do to him. Besides requesting that we have fried chicken at the party, I don’t think Brock really cares much about anything else. In our crazy Pinterest-obsessed world, it’s easy to get caught up in all the shoulds and coulds, but that sort of misses the point. The point is to gather together to celebrate a milestone -not to have the best decorations or even the best food. If things aren’t perfect, nobody will probably even notice or care.
  2. Make a plan. I don’t know about you but when I have a lot on my plate, my brain can drive me crazy with all the stuff buzzing around up there. So, I did a brain dump and wrote down everything that I felt I needed to do on a piece of paper. Then, I looked at all that stuff and made a conscious decision to let go of the thing that didn’t really matter. Then I prioritized things – what things needed to happen first? After that, I tried to put the things I still needed to do in bite-sized chunks in the remaining weeks. By breaking things down into weekly, doable tasks, things don’t seem quite so overwhelming.
  3. Ask for help. I am planning a surprise birthday party that will be this week. I had several people offer to help, and I decided to take those people up on their offer. Sometimes, when I get really busy, it seems easier to just do it myself, but many hands make light work is a saying for a reason. If you have a lot on your plate and someone offers to help you, accept that help. It doesn’t make you weak or somehow less. Not to mention, you are giving those people the gift of being a blessing. It makes people feel good to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people will be happy to lend a hand, and if they aren’t, they can always say no.
  4. Let some things go. If you are in a season where you are extremely busy (like I am), it’s okay to let a few things go. Maybe the house won’t look perfect. So what? Maybe you won’t be able to make all your dinners from scratch? That’s okay, too. Look at what you can let go in the short term until things calm down, so you can breathe a little. Don’t start anything new, either. For instance, at this moment in my life now isn’t really the time to start a new fiction project. That can wait until after the next few weeks are over.
  5. Take care of your physical self. When I am super stressed out, the first thing to go is exercise and eating well. the problem though, is then I feel worse and have way less energy. In fact, when your plate is piled high and you are stressed, it’s even MORE important to get enough rest, get some exercise and fuel your body well. You aren’t doing anyone any favors if you collapse from stress overload.
  6. Take care of your spiritual self. It might be tempting to hit the snooze and skip your prayer time, or to push Bible reading to later and later ends up never rolling around. But for me, the only way I can handle stress and lots of demands is if my spirit is filled up. And it needs to be filled up with God. In my own strength, I would get mean and snappy and whiny. I would lose sight of the big picture and small stresses would fill my field of vision. It’s only God that keeps me sane in the middle of crazy. When I skip my time with God, I find myself running on empty.

What things do you do when your life is in crazy mode? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

Part 5: The 7 Secrets to Raising Kids Whose Faith Lasts

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I will start out by saying, this is NOT a guarantee. Every kid is different, and as I’ve said before, there are no guarantees in parenting. You can do everything “right,” and your kid can still walk away from his or her faith. However, I think you can exponentially raise the odds of your child not falling away from their faith when they move away from home with these 4 secrets.

#1 Pray for your children. You are probably thinking, “Well, duh, Rosanne. I know I am supposed to be doing this. I thought you were going to tell me something NEW!” But I was recently reading a series of posts on prayer that was written by my good friend Erin Cobb (you can check out that post HERE), and she mentioned something that really caught my attention. She said that she had noticed that in the New Testament, the prayers that were written down are all about other people’s spiritual growth. They weren’t about an upcoming test or an illness or anything like that. Nope, Paul, who was in essence the father figure to the churches he had planted, prayed for specific types of spiritual growth.

Now, it’s not wrong to pray for people’s more tangible needs. In James 5, James talks about prayer being the answer to whatever state you find yourself in, and he specifically instructs people to ask for prayer and anointing when they are sick. But I think we miss a huge opportunity when we neglect to pray for specific spiritual growth in our children. Prayer is a battle, and to truly be effective, it can’t always be done on the fly or in tiny time pockets. It involves some sweat and tears.

To give you a starting point, I’ve  put together a set of prayer cards with the six verses I regularly pray over my kids’ lives. You can either click HERE or on the graphic below to get your set. Feel free to expand from here. I find as I pray for the people in my life, God often brings a verse or verses to mind that I can pray over them. 🙂

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#2 Make Sure They Know Faith is About Relationship, Not a Bunch of Rules. In our rush to, “train up our child in the way he should go,” it can become easy to fall into making our faith seem like a bunch of dos and don’ts. We can easily fall into the trap of emphasizing our outward behavior and not about the inward transformation made possible by God’s grace. The thing is, though,  it’s crucial that our kids know that what we do and don’t do is BECAUSE OF our relationship with Christ. Every single “don’t” in the Bible is given because God loves us. It is not to prevent us from having fun or keep us restricted. It is because God wants what is best for us and is FOR us. A relationship with Jesus means a life of joy and freedom – not a life of rules and restrictions.

The better you know God personally and intimately, the easier that is to believe. After all, religion without a relationship is just a bunch of meaningless rules and rituals. If that key piece of relationship is missing in your child’s faith walk, when they get out into the world, it will be so easy to believe what the unbelieving world tells them – that their religion is causing them to miss out or that their religion is narrow and old-fashioned and irrelevant to their every day lives.

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#3 Bring God Into the Every Day. This brings me to my third secret – make God part of your every day life. It’s all too easy to compartmentalize our relationship to God into the spiritual box. This is often an outgrowth of a faith that is more religion than relationship. It’s pretty easy to relegate God to Sundays and maybe Wednesday nights when we aren’t experiencing a passionate, intimate relationship with Jesus. If He is just a distant figure who hands out that list of dos and don’ts, bringing Him into our every day seems a bit over the top.

But if you are in a relationship, then God becomes a part of the fabric of your very life – not something you do one or two days of the week. I’m going to tell you the hard truth – if God isn’t a part of YOUR everyday life, don’t expect Him to be a part of your child’s either. While what our kids do with Jesus is their choice, what they observe in the daily, one-foot-in-front-of-another walking out of the Christian life is also your choice. What kind of faith are you showing them?

#4 Tell Them the Why Behind the Rule. I know – it’s so tempting when your child is being stubborn or rebellious or you are just beyond tired, to tell them they have to do what you say, “Because I said so!” Again, just throwing out a bunch of rules without any reason behind them, is a recipe for a kid to rebel – especially when he is no longer under your roof and direct reach. I think it was Josh McDowell who said that rules without a relationship leads to rebellion.

Especially as our kids get older, it isn’t realistic to expect them to blindly follow rules without knowing why you have them in the first place. And honestly, isn’t it better that your children develop the ability to think critically about things, rather than just blindly following people because they happen to be an authority figure?

While I want my boys to respect authority, that doesn’t necessarily mean I want them to never question authority. That is just a recipe for disaster. The filter for their life should be the Word of God, not the words of men.

 

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#5 Listen. I mean REALLY listen, not the pseudo listening a lot of parents do where they don’t say anything, but they have already made up their minds about what their child is talking about (not that I’ve ever done that, of course). Listening means truly hearing what the other person is saying – not thinking up your response while the other person is talking. (been there, done that!). A child who feels heard will feel loved. It’s all too easy to react, particularly if your child comes to you with something that is shocking or hard to hear. Try to take a deep breath, listen, clarify what they are saying by repeating it back and then ask questions.

#6 Be Real. I don’t know about you but I do NOT have it all together. I’ll also let you in on a little secret – my kids know that probably better than anyone. Trying to act like something I am not just makes me seem like a hypocrite to my children. I have to be willing to talk truthfully about my own struggles, doubts and difficulties (within age appropriate boundaries, of course). I have to be willing to humble myself and apologize when I mess up or if I didn’t handle something well. Your child will not think less of you because you are real. Instead, he will trust you because you trust him with the truth. 

Being real with our children has the added benefit of letting them know that there is no such thing as perfection. Instead, our own realness about our failures gives our kids permission to fail too. It’s not failing that keeps you from living out your faith. It’s failing to get back up afterwards. We have the unique privilege of modeling how that works.

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#7 Don’t Expect Your Kid to Be More Spiritually Mature Than You Are. We can be all about our children holding onto their faith, especially as they get ready to leave our homes to go to college or start in the work force, but if you never pick up your own Bible or spend any time in prayer, why do you expect your child will be any different? If your faith seems to have little, if any, impact on your own daily life; if you show no desire to spend time with the God you claim to love and follow, why would you expect your child to hold fast to her own faith when the voices around her are shouting that, at best, her faith is  irrelevant and at worst, it’s destructive?

Kids have this amazing ability to spot a phoney a mile away. They don’t listen to what you say, as much as they watch what you do. If you say it’s important to have integrity and never show any yourself, don’t expect your child to do the right thing when it goes against his own self interests.

Faith is a personal thing. You can’t believe for someone or hold onto their faith for them. What you can do, as a parent, is pray for your children and model for them this life of faith with all its inherent struggles and joys.

How are you instilling a faith that will last in your children? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

If you are just joining us, this is Part 5 of the Purposeful Parenting Series, Start at Part 1 HERE.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my book give away! Just click on the graphic below and it will take you to the give away post. The give away is at the end of the post. 

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Part 4: 5 Parenting Books I Love – Plus One

Top Parenting Books

While I do think you can read too many parenting books, there are also a lot of great resources out there. Out of the many, many books I have read on the subject of parenting, these five were my top picks in no particular order. Today through March 31st, I will be holding a give away for the book Triggers. You’ll find the sign-up for the give away at the bottom of this post. I hope you find these books as helpful as I did! 

Cynthia Tobias BookYou Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded), Revised and Updated Edition: Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child by Cynthia Tobias

My second son, Brody, was the definition of a strong-willed child. To say I found his toddler and preschool years challenging would be a bit of an understatement. Part of the problem is that I am NOT strong-willed, and I just didn’t get what motivated him.

To me, his penchant for fighting me about Every. Little. Thing. left me baffled. I couldn’t understand what the point was to make a big issue over what color spoon you used for your breakfast. I mean, honestly, who cared?

It wasn’t until I read this book that I really started to understand my strong-willed child. Cynthia Tobias (who was a strong-willed child herself) wrote this book with her adult strong-willed son. If you have a “powerful” child, I strongly suggest reading this book. James Dobson has a book called The Strong-willed Child, and it is also good. But as far as making a difference in my parenting, this one was, hands-down, the winner for me.

 

 

The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Arebirth order book by Kevin Leman

I love books that explain why people do what they do. The Birth Order Book offers a unique look at how birth order influences the behavior of your children (and yourself, too!).  I not only found this book fascinating because of the subject matter, but it helped me to navigate my children’s behavior and my reactions to it. Turns out, the birth order of both children and their parents can really influence how we interact with each other.

Since I have read this book, I’ve also had a lot of fun guessing (usually in my head and not out loud) what birth order someone falls under. The information Leman offers is amazingly accurate, too, and I can usually tell when meeting someone if they are a first born or last born or something in-between (you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean!). 😉

So, if you want a deeper of understanding of why your kid does what he does, get a copy of this book. While I found it helpful for my parenting, I also found it helpful in understanding why I do some of the things I do, too.

 

 

Strong-Willed Child or Dreamer?dreamer child by Dana Spears and Ron Braund

When my oldest son Brock was a toddler and preschooler, his behavior was a bit puzzling to me. On the one hand, he seemed eager to please, but at other times, he could dig his heels in like a mule (still does, come to think of it!). I often referred to him as strong-willed, even though I never felt as though that completely fit the bill.

When my second son, Brody, was born I realized exactly what a strong-willed child really was, and my first born definitely was not it!

It wasn’t until a friend of mine suggested this book that I realized my first born was a dreamer. I really should have recognized the signs sooner since I am a classic dreamer myself.

This is an excellent book for parents to read to understand the dreamer child personality – especially if you are not a dreamer because they really do think differently than non-dreamers. It’s also a great read for anyone who works with children because dreamers tend to do most things differently – including learning.

Now that my oldest is ready to graduate, he still thinks outside the box, but again, not too surprising. My mom has always said I march to the beat of my own drum, too.

 

Triggers: : Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responsestriggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake

This is that book I wished I had when my kids were little, but I still found it relevant and helpful, even at this stage of my life (I know you are shocked that my teens can sometimes still push my buttons!). I received a copy of of this book to review and you can find that more in-depth review of this book HERE.

In a nutshell, this book talks about the external and internal triggers that cause us to react in anger to our children.

Each chapter highlights a trigger and how to deal with it Biblically. The authors offer grace to the burnt out mom, but still don’t excuse the behavior. And let’s be honest, we live in a pretty angry culture. Maybe it’s because we are so busy and burnt out ourselves, but a lot of moms I know struggle with this issue of anger toward their children.

What I love about this book is it doesn’t just identify a problem, but it offers real solutions to address that problem. If you struggle with reacting to your children in anger, this is a must-read. While some of the triggers very obviously apply only to parents, there is a lot to be gleaned from this book on managing anger no matter who it is directed at.

 

What Every Mom Needsmom needs by Elise Morgan and Carol Kuykendall

This was one of those books that was a life saver when I was a new mom. I had almost made it through the first year of my baby’s life. As I came up for air, I realized that my life had changed irrevocably, and it was never returning to what it was like pre-baby. I know – kind of obvious – but I was so taken up in feeding cycles and getting the baby to sleep through the night, it came as a bit of a shock that things were never going to “get back to normal,” or at least what was normal before kids.

It’s interesting how God works because at the time, I was suffering from a horrible case of post-partum depression. This did not endear me to my husband who couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to be with the baby 24/7 or why I still wanted to realize some of my non-baby-related dreams.

The Coach actually heard about this book on a Focus on the Family radio show, and went out to buy it. He read it and then gave it to me. If you know my husband at all, you will know that this was definitely a God-thing.

This book gave me permission to admit that I still had a few needs of my own, even as a mom, and it made my husband realize that, too. If you need a bit of encouragement, check this book out, and if your husband doesn’t get it, this is a great read to help him understand parenting from a mom’s perspective. It has been updated since I first read it.

 

Disclaimer – I only have boys, so I have never read a book about parenting girls. There may be some wonderful books on that topic, but since I have two sons, I’ve never read them. This is the “plus one” book since I knew it wouldn’t apply to everyone.

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Menboys adrift 2 by Leonard Sax

I actually read this book as a teacher. I had a English classroom that had a much higher percentage of boys than girls, and I was having trouble getting the boys to engage in books we were supposed to be reading and discussing. Ever ask a teenage boy how he feels about Ethan Frome?

This book gave me a much deeper look into the teenage male psyche, and while I read it to help me be a better teacher, it has also helped me parent two boys who are now teenagers themselves.

If you can’t seem to motivate your son, or you can’t quite figure out why his primary goal in life seems to be to reach the highest level in Halo, this book will give you a fresh perspective.

I think this book should be passed out at the hospital to every mom of a boy. It really is an enlightening read. If you have girls, but you work with boys at all, it’s also worthwhile to check out.

 

There are other parenting books that I have loved, as well, but I wanted to keep this list to books that made the biggest impact in my parenting, and also not overwhelm you with a huge, long list.

What are some of your favorite parenting books? I’d love to hear about them!

Blessings, Rosanne

 

P.S. If you are just catching up with us, here are the links to the other posts in this series, along with a couple more you might also enjoy.

Part 1: Parenting Has Changed Me More Than Any Ministry

Part 2: 9 Principles of Parenting That Transcend Parenting Style

Part 3: 10 Myths of Parenting

Is God Enough for Your Kids, Too?

There Are No Guarantees in Parenting

P.S.S. Don’t forget: sign up to win Triggers: Exchanging Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses! Don’t you just love give aways?? 🙂

 

Part 3: 10 Myths of Parenting

I remember when I brought my son home from the hospital, and how terrified yet determined I was about this whole parenting business. While I have had my share of guilt moments over the years, I have noticed with some of my friends who are younger moms that there seems to be SO MUCH MORE pressure today on them than I ever felt when my kids were younger.

Maybe it is the advent of Pinterest or blogs or social media, but it seems like most young moms I know perpetually feel like they are not enough and that they are ruining their kids’ lives because of some thing they should or should not be doing but aren’t. So, I thought I’d share the 10 parenting myths that need busting, and I hope that they encourage you to cut yourself a little slack! Believe it or not, God actually chose YOU as the parent your child needs.

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1. There is One Right Way to Parent
Of course, there are things all parents need to do like meeting their children’s physical, mental and emotional needs, but parenting is definitely NOT a one size fits all proposition. I’m sure you’ve noticed if you have more than one child that what worked for one is not guaranteed to work for another. There are a lot of great ways to parent, but the Bible actually has very little to say about parenting. It points more towards overarching principles rather than concrete, specifics. So, give yourself a break if you don’t parent exactly like Susie down the street.

2. Some Lucky Moms Have it All Together
This brings me to my second myth – nobody has it all together, all the time. Yes, there are some women who seemed more blessed in the areas of organization and household management, but trust me, there are things they struggle with, too. Maybe their house looks great all the time, but they struggle with cutting loose and having fun with their kids – which is something you excel at. With the advent of social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, it can sometimes feel like everyone else has this parenting thing down except you. Here’s a little secret though – all moms feel like they don’t have it all together. They just take better pictures, so it doesn’t look that way. As Lysa Tuerkhurst says, “Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides.”

3. Your Child’s Behavior Is All Your Fault
While I do believe it is part of our jobs as parents to train our children up to be responsible adults, you can’t actually completely control another person’s behavior – even if they are small and sticky. (I wrote in more detail about there not being any guarantees in parenting HERE.)  I distinctly remember taking my youngest son Brody to the store when he was about 3 years old. On the way into the store, he happened to see one of those big bins of bouncy balls and he wanted one. Since we had approximately 362 of them already at home, I told him no. He then proceeded to scream through the entire store for the next 22.6 minutes it took me to pick up what I needed. I know all the parenting experts say you should leave the store at this point, but I  couldn’t leave and come back later. I HAD to get the stuff that day, and that was the only time I had to do it.

I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was, and what a failure I felt like as I pushed my cart with my screeching child through Kmart. I was sure the people looking on probably thought I was the world’s worst mom. The reality was whether they thought that or not really didn’t matter. Why? Because his behavior was a direct result of me holding firm to my no. That’s actually good parenting, right? His reaction to that was up to him, and besides making clear the consequences of continuing his tantrum, I really couldn’t control that reaction. (Although, I’m sure that elderly lady right behind me in line who got a full blast of my kid’s lungs right in her face probably felt differently).

Here’s the deal- at one time or another, your kid is going to disobey and/or act embarrassingly bad in public. His choice to disobey is not necessarily on your shoulders. Just like that moment when he succeeds and does well is not necessarily your doing either. As parents, we sometimes think we have more control than we do. Yes, we have a responsibility to parent our children, but we also have to realize we can’t own every choice and action they take because, in the end, they are a separate person with their own sin nature to deal with.

 

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4. Children Must Have Educational Playtimes
Seriously, you can just play stuffed animals without trying to teach colors, the ABC’s or numbers. Every tea party does not have to be a primer on manners or the fruit of the Spirit. Playing in and of itself is a learning experience for children. As adults, we tend to over complicate the concept of playing, and make it work, complete with achievement goals. Playing is not supposed to be work. It’s supposed to be fun.

5. Children Need You to Entertain Them
When I was a kid, there was never any question in my mind that my parents loved me. There also was never any question that my mom was going to get on the floor and play Barbies with me for hours. That was just not something she did. I’m not sure when the shift happened, but parents today seem to feel they have to oversee and be involved in every area of their child’s life – from making friends to playing to being entertained. Considering that moms for thousands of years had zero time to entertain their children because they had to work very hard just to do the basics like washing clothing, cooking and keeping the house clean, I think it is safe to say that your child doesn’t actually need you to take on the role of activities director in their lives. Seriously, let it go. Please don’t read this to mean that you should never spend time or have fun with your kids. I’m just saying that a little boredom never killed anyone. It actually encourages creativity and imagination.

6. If Your Child Eats Processed Foods They Will Die.
This really has become a biggie. Allergies not withstanding, a few chicken nuggets in your child’s life s are not going to set him up for early death. While you probably shouldn’t feed your child a steady diet of McDonald’s every day, a few Happy Meals will not make you a recipient for World’s Worst Mom. I think there is a lot of pressure on moms these days to make everything from scratch from organic ingredients, preferably grown in their backyard. If you enjoy gardening and making things from scratch fulfills you, then go for it. But if you are like many moms, don’t add to the “shoulds” in your life. Three meals a day for 18 years is a lot of guilt to heap on anyone’s plate!

 

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7. Every Child Needs the Latest Technology or They Will Fall Behind.
No small child actually needs the latest technology. For thousands of years, young children played with things like sticks or leaves or bugs. I know the elementary set (and even the preschool set) seem to all have iPhones, but they really don’t have to have them. I promise! Not only are they expensive, but excessive use of digital screens can actually change the wiring in a child’s brain reducing their attention span. Preschool and kindergarten teachers everywhere will thank you if you refrain from giving your little one constant access to technology.  Not only does it affect your child’s learning, but letting your kids roam around the digital landscape isn’t very safe either, and you will avoid a ton of drama if you just don’t go there to begin with. My sons are 17 and 14. Neither of them owns an iPhone. Brock has a one of those flip phones because he drives, but he was easy because techie stuff doesn’t interest him at all. My youngest son has begged for a phone with all the bells and whistles (or at least an iPod so he can Snapchat), but as I talk to other parents and see all the angst and drama those bells and whistles cause, it makes it pretty easy for me to tell him no.

8. You Must Be Really Strict with Your Teenagers
This might sound a bit strange coming after my last myth, but bear with me. It’s always been kind of strange to me that the myth persists that you need MORE rules with your teens than with your younger children. I see this a lot – elementary aged kids have few rules and little structure, and then the kid goes through puberty and BAM! Suddenly, their whole world is made up of rules and regulations, and not surprisingly, that child pushes back. The thing is, we are supposed to be working ourselves out of a job. The older our children get, the more freedom they should have to make their own choices (and mistakes). I think this is one way parents really exasperate their kids. They come down heavy on teens who have given them no reason to distrust them besides the fact that they are teenagers. I know, hormones are scary, and I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any house rules for your teenager. The thing is, though, most of the training should be done by this point- not just starting.

9. If You Just Parent Right, Your Child Will Never Be Unhappy, Make Bad Choices or Struggle
I’m not sure where this idea came from really (it’s certainly not Biblical), but there is this idea that if you just find the right formula for parenting, your child will be happy, will never make bad choices and will never struggle. I’m here to tell you that there is no secret parenting formula. Our end goal should be to introduce our kids to Jesus and model how to love and live for Him.  Just like with you or me, learning to do that is riddled with embarrassing mistakes and epic fails. As parents, our job is to help our kids along that path, to offer a hand when they fall down and guidance to get them going in the right direction again. It’s not to guarantee their path is perfectly smooth. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to insulate your children from the disappointments, failures and mistakes in life, and it is a lack of faith on our part that makes us believe that God can’t use even the really hard stuff in our children’s lives. Think of it this way – God is the perfect parent, and His kids mess up all the time!

 

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10. Every Child is Exceptional and Destined for Greatness
I believe this myth started with good intentions and even some truth. God DID create all of us to be special and unique.  That is truth – just read Psalms 139.  It’s also true that God gave each of us our own unique talents and abilities, and He wants us to use them. I think where we got off track and twisted this truth is when we started equating that special uniqueness and God’s plans for our children’s lives with performance.

It seems, if a child shows a talent or even interest for anything, parents instantly make it into a quest for greatness. A kid can’t just enjoy playing baseball anymore. Nope – he has to take batting lessons and be signed up for a travel team and be trotted out to perform and be compared to his peers. At 8 years old, we critique his performance and make intricate plans to better his game when all he really wants to do is play ball. His being special is weighed in the balance of his performance. We’ve taken childhood and turned it into one big competition to see whose kid can be the most exceptional and the greatest. We’ve taken the joy of childhood and sucked it away to be replaced by the pressure of performing.

It’s not really surprising we have fallen for this myth of parenting because we have also fallen for the lie that we need to be great, too. (that’s a whole other post though!) My friend Kayse Pratt talked about this message that is popular in Christian circles HERE. Check it out because she has some really good stuff to say.

Yes, God made our children special, but He made everyone special and unique. We need to stop burdening our children with the expectation that they must perform in extraordinary ways to prove they are God’s master pieces because not only is it a lie, it’s a lot of pressure. If you look in the Bible, the people God used were pretty ordinary by the world’s standards, but it wasn’t their extraordinary performance that caused God to use them.

My favorite person in the Hebrews 11 faith hall of fame is Enoch. Why? Because it says simply that Enoch walked with God. That was his sole claim to fame in a chapter that listed people like Abraham and Noah and David. Enoch didn’t do anything huge – he just walked with God.  And in the end, that’s the best thing my kids can do – walk with God, even if that means they lead “ordinary” lives.

What are some parenting myths that you think need busting? I’d love to hear about them!

Blessings, Rosanne

P.S. If you are just joining us, the links to the other parts of this series on parenting are below. I’ve also included a couple other posts that you might enjoy, too.

Part 1: Parenting Has Changed Me More Than Any Ministry

Part 2: 9 Principles of Parenting That Transcend Parenting Style

Part 3: 10 Myths of Parenting

Part 4: 5 Parenting Books I Love, Plus One

Is God Enough for Your Kids, Too?

There Are No Guarantees in Parenting

 

P.S.S. If  you want to react differently to your children, join The Parenting Challenge.

Join Me

 

 

Part 2: 9 Parenting Principles that Transcend Parenting Style

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In a few short months, my oldest son Brock will graduate from high school. I know everyone says this, but it truly does seem like just yesterday that I nervously dropped him off for his very first day of preschool. I remember how his backpack seemed to be bigger than he was, and how excited he was to spend all morning with his friends and his beloved “Teacher.”

In an interesting twist of fate, one of my closest friends is just starting her parenting journey. She and her husband were able to bring home their son at the end of January after several years of going through the adoption process.

Add to this another good friend just finished writing a wonderful book on parenting called Triggers. It’s one of those books I wish I had when my kids were little. You can read my review of the book here,. Stay tuned on that front because I am going to do a giveaway of Triggers because I really feel it should be in as many moms’ hands as possible

Because of these three things kind of converging together, it has made me think back to my own first years as a parent. Not surprisingly, as an expectant mom, I did what I always do when confronted with something new: I read a ton of books. Books have always been my go to for trying to navigate new experiences. I read the What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Babywise and umpteen millions James’ Dobson and Focus on the Family books.

One thing that I found interesting, though, was that in the Bible, there weren’t all that many instructions for parents on parenting. I mean, there were a few verses on teaching them about God as you go about your day, not exasperating them and training them up, but really, for such an important topic, the Bible is surprisingly tight-lipped when it comes to parenting advice.

And since the Bible offered so little in specific parenting advice, I found it kind of hard to navigate all the varied parenting advice out there. Not only did some of it seem kind of unrealistic, but it often was conflicting advice. One source would say do x, while another source would say never do x – only do y.

I also found other parents were a bit, um, militaristic about their chosen parenting style, and I soon learned that asking other moms about seemingly innocent topics like potty train or dealing with nightmares could lead to impassioned arguments that had a way of prematurely ending play dates.

So, I decided that what I needed were some guiding principles for my parenting. Like the bumpers you put up in the bowling alley to keep the ball from going in the gutter every time, I needed some borders to keep my parenting heading toward the target. I’ll be honest here, my main target in the first few years was just to keep everyone alive – mothering has never come naturally to me.  After all my reading, scouring the Scriptures and quite a bit of praying, I came up with the following eight principles that have served me well over the years. Below are the eight principles as I wrote them out as a young mom with a toddler and preschooler. I have found that even though my children have grown and their needs have changed, these principles have weathered the test of time for our family.

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1. Consistency Rules
If it is wrong one day, it is wrong the next. I really think before I lay down a law. Is it worth making a huge battle over this every time? If it is, the rule is explained, consequences are laid out and that is the end.

2. Explain what you want and how you want it.
Children don’t come pre-programmed. Toddler and preschool years are intense training times. I often give warnings such as, “Please do not play with the VCR (yes, I really am that old!). Do not touch any part of it. If you do so again, xyz will happen. This also includes any sassy talk or angry outbursts. Sometimes, kids hear an adult (me in all likelihood) react in a certain way, so they imitate that without really understanding that it is wrong.

3. Love unconditionally.
Make sure your child knows you don’t like the behavior – not him as a person. Relationship is always more important than rules. While not having any boundaries or rules is definitely NOT in your child’s best interests, swinging all the way to the other side of always being super rigid about rules isn’t in his best interests either. God extends grace to us when we don’t deserve it on a regular basis (daily for me!), so I don’t think it is such a stretch for us to extend grace to our kids, too.

4. Try to be as fair as possible.
Yes, I know. Life is not always fair and that is a life lesson kids do need to learn. However, our homes should be a safety zone, and we should be the most trustworthy people in our children’s lives. So, being as fair as possible is important. Fairness really matters to kids, and if a child often feels like they are being treated unfairly by their parents, it can plant a seed of bitterness and the harvest of that is a damaged child/parent relationship.

5. Become a student of your child.
My dreamer takes a lot of study. I thought he was being deliberately disobedient utnil I realized that he was so much in his own little world he was actually not even hearing me. This should not have come as a surprise because I, too, am a dreamer, and I was the exact same way as a child. Add to the fact that I had hearing issues as a kid, and I’m sure my mother was pretty exasperated with me at times. So, now, instead of calling to him from another room or even across the room, I walk right up to him and look him in the eye. My other son gets incredibly cranky and uncooperative when he hasn’t eaten in a while. I had to learn that if we were going anywhere after school, bringing a small snack made everyone’s afternoon much more pleasant. It really doesn’t matter what the child rearing books say – know YOUR child. You are the leading expert on him or her.

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6. Don’t discipline in anger. Your authority means a lot more when you are in control of yourself. Even if it means postponing or ditching the punishment because you need to get a hold of yourself, that is more important than damaging your relationship with your child. I am NOT saying that anger is not sometimes an appropriate emotion in the face of a child’s defiant behavior, but what I AM saying is that the anger should not be in the driver’s seat when you deal with your child over whatever transgression. Also, for a strong-willed child, watching you become completely unglued is usually worth the punishment. Ask me how I know this!

7. Model and encourage repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Kids need to understand how to ask for forgiveness and how to reconcile with others. Also, modeling respectful behaviors is one way to help your children use them. If you never say please and thank you, it seems a bit much to expect your child to. Kids don’t only listen to what you say, they watch what you do. If I blow it and lose my temper with my kids or am blatantly unfair because of my own out of control emotions, I go apologize and ask for forgiveness. Kids are often much more forgiving than adults can be. Plus, it teaches them that we all make mistakes, and we can make that right and get back on the right track.

8. Leave the obedience up to them .
Don’t try to obey for them. I’ve always hated for my kids to suffer the consequences, so I would often find myself telling them over and over to do or not do this or that. This only frustrated us both, and I usually ended up losing it. I learned that just telling them the rule, explaining the consequences and leaving it up to them was the best way to go. It was then up to them if they obeyed or disobeyed. Being consistent and immediate with the consequences was actually a much more grace-filled way to handle it than continually nagging them to obey.

The best example I have ever heard of this is to think about a policeman. How do you feel if he pulls you over? You probably feel some trepidation and are upset. However, does the policeman start screaming at you because you went over the speed limit? Does he start crying and asking you, “Why, why do you speed? What have I done to deserve you speeding?” Does he say, Well, today it is okay to go 85 but the next day you are busted? Nope – he very calmly hands you a ticket – the consequences of speeding. I bet the next time you will drive a bit slower (at least for a while).

9. Follow through.
Whether you are making promising or threatening consequences, make sure you follow through. Kids are smart, and they will call your bluff, so make sure you never threaten something you aren’t willing to follow through on. Likewise, it can make kids bitter if you regularly fail to follow through on promises you’ve made them. Yes, life happens and there will be times when you can’t, but I have found if that is exception rather than the rule, your kids will take a broken promise a lot better than if you never seem to follow through.

So, what about you? Do you have some principles by which you parent? I’d love to hear about them!
Blessings, Rosanne

P.S. If you just found this post and would like to read the other posts in this series, the links are below. I’ve also added a few posts you might also enjoy.

Part 1: Parenting Has Changed Me More Than Any Ministry

Part 2: 9 Principles of Parenting That Transcend Parenting Style

Part 3: 10 Myths of Parenting

Part 4: 5 Parenting Books I Love, Plus One

Is God Enough for Your Kids, Too?

There Are No Guarantees in Parenting

 

p.s. Do you struggle like I did as a young parent, with anger? If so, I’d love for you to sign up for the Parenting Challenge.

Join Me

Part 1: Parenting Has Changed Me More Than Any Ministry

Parenting with PurposeA good friend of mine just adopted a new baby boy. Looking at his tiny face has brought back a flood of memories from when I started my own parenting journey almost 18 years ago. What makes it especially bittersweet is the fact that my oldest will be graduating from high school in a few short months.

As I watch my friend navigate going from a wife to a mom, I am reminded of how different I am since I started my own parenting journey so long ago.

Unlike many young women, I never dreamed of motherhood, and I am not terribly maternal by nature. I love my boys fiercely, but at the same time, motherhood was never my ultimate dream. I wanted adventures and travel and excitement and fame. Yes, I admit it – I daydreamed about being interviewed on Oprah for my bestselling novel and about speaking in front of vast audiences to thunderous applause.

Instead, what I got was a small town, diapers and something way harder yet more beautiful than becoming famous – being a mom. The thing is, I’m glad God didn’t hand me the dreams that I fantasized over because I needed the refining that came with motherhood.

God had a lot of work to do in my heart and mind. He had to rub away the pride and the selfishness and the idea that the world revolved around me and what I wanted and needed. (not that I don’t still struggle with those things sometimes).

So, He made me a mother.

Maybe this isn’t true for you, but I feel like my kids have taught me way more than I have taught them. (well, besides the whole potty thing).

Children have a way of exposing all of our rough spots and the areas where self reigns supreme. They have a way of pushing you way outside your comfort zone  (cleaning up vomit anyone?).They have a way of taking you down to the raw and the real in a way nothing else does.

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I’ve been attending church since my own parents brought me home at a month old. I’ve gone to a Christian school and then a Christian college. I’ve served in church from the nursery to AWANA to a women’s Sunday School class to the women’s ministry committee. I’ve attended numerous conferences and read, quite literally, hundreds of books on the Christian life and faith.

But with the exception of the times spent one-on-one with Jesus, nothing has changed me more than being a parent.

Want to learn about selflessness? Parent a newborn.

Want to learn about humility and self-control? Parent a toddler.

Want to learn about patience? Parent a preschooler with their endless questions.

Want to learn about joy and contentment in the mundane? Parent a grade-schooler.

Want to learn about trusting God more? Parent a teenager.

In every phase of my children’s lives, God has taught me something about myself (usually something I really didn’t want to know), and He has continued to rub those rough edges off.

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In the past, I haven’t really written much about parenting. Sure, I’ve shared some milestones my kids have hit or something deeply meaningful that God has taught me, but overall, on this subject I’ve been pretty quiet. The reason for that is mostly I wanted to respect my kids’ privacy. After all, this is my blog and just because I want to share my life with the world, that doesn’t mean they necessarily do, too.

But as a new season is now within sight (just three short years until my youngest graduates), I feel the time is right to do a write a little more about parenting. I also have a good friend who just wrote a book I think should be in the hands of every new (and not so new) mom, called Triggers: Exchanging Angry Responses for Gentle Biblical Responses.

So, in honor of these two big things, I am writing this series on parenting. I’m also inviting you to join me for The Parenting Challenge, because I can always use a little more accountability in my parenting. How about you? You can check out The Parenting Challenge here.

Join Me

And stay tuned because I plan on having a give away for a few of my favorite parenting books – including Triggers.

I’d love to hear how parenting has changed you!
Blessings, Rosanne

p.s. This is the first post in my parenting series. Below are the links to parts 2 through 4 and to a few other posts I’ve written in the past about parenting that I thought you might enjoy.

Part 2: 9 Principles of Parenting That Transcend Parenting Style

Part 3: 10 Myths of Parenting

Part 4: 5 Parenting Books I Love, Plus One

Is God Enough for Your Kids, Too?

There Are No Guarantees in Parenting

Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links mean that if you click on the link and purchase something, I get a small percentage of the purchase price. It does not add to your cost at all. 🙂

Is God Enough for Your Kids, Too?

Today I a over at Arabah Joy for her weekly Grace & Truth link up. Come check it out!

In our house, basketball season is a big deal.The rest of the year seems to be in anticipation of the months between November and March.

But this year, basketball season was an even bigger deal than normal. My oldest, Brock is a senior and my youngest Brody is a freshman.  They would get to play together while my husband coached them both. You could almost taste the anticipation of heightened expectations as the season got underway.

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Although, I am not normally a big sports fan (you won’t find me glued to a TV to watch any game), when the three people you love most in the world are out on the court, you find yourself a whole lot more interested.

The year started off with a bang, and we had some great wins. But then something happened after Christmas. We hit a slump. We weren’t shooting well. Brock came home many nights defeated and discouraged.

As a mom, that was hard to watch. After all, I had watched my son struggle with his physical limitations. He is only 5’6″. In basketball, that is tough to overcome, but Brock put in hours and hours of hard work to get as good as he possibly could. There are some things you can’t overcome. After all, no matter how hard he worked, he couldn’t add inches to his frame or make his hands bigger, but the boy did add six inches to his vertical jump.

I had also watched Brock come to terms with giving up his dream of playing at the next level. So, as the season wound down and Brock’s shooting slump continued and the team lost more than they won, it made me angry.

I had many conversations with God that went something like, “You made him short when he loves basketball. He’s given up his dreams of playing ball at the next level. Couldn’t you at least let him end his senior year on a high note?”

To be really honest, I went back and forth with feeling sad for my son and angry with God for putting him through this. It didn’t make sense to me, and as his mom, I couldn’t fix it. I’d think I was at peace with it, and then we’d have another bad game and I’d watch his shoulders slump and that look in his eyes. It just killed me.

During the week, at practice, he’d hit his shots. One week, he hit 39 out of 42 three-point shots. Yet, during the games, he was consistently in single digits. And it wasn’t just him. Nobody on the team was shooting well. It was like the entire team had been jinxed or gremlins had taken up residence in the basketball hoops.

I know – sports are just a game. It’s not life or death and there are many things way more important going on in this world. But for a teenage boy who breathes, eats and sleeps basketball, it feels like the whole world.

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The last game, the tournament game, didn’t turn out any better. In fact, Brock jumped to block a ball and someone undercut him. He slammed down onto the court and hit his head so hard, I didn’t know if he’d be getting up under his own steam.  He did end up back into the game, but only after the trainer had staunched the bleeding and an goose egg-sized bump had swelled onto his forehead.

While Brock did end up in double digits scoring that night, we lost that game. As I drove home, I could barely keep my anger in check. It felt so unfair. Brock had worked so hard and I knew that my whole family was bitterly disappointed with the game  and how the season turned out. It’s one thing to lose to a better team; it’s another to lose to a team you know you can beat if you had played better.

Regret and if only leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I almost didn’t want to pray, I was so upset. I guess that probably sounds extreme, especially if you are not a sports family or if sports are not such an integral part of your life, like they are ours.

I went grudgingly into my quiet time. I wanted to be okay with whatever God was doing in my son’s life, but I also struggled with how God appeared to be doing that. I WAS thankful that Brock hadn’t been hurt worse in that last game. He, quite literally, could have broken his neck if he had hit a bit differently. He could have also come away with a severe concussion or a broken bone. The fact that he didn’t even have a headache and only had some aches and pains was a testament to God watching over him.

Still, I hurt for my son and his dashed hopes of a great senior season. Worse, I couldn’t make it better. There was nothing I could do to change things or make him feel better. I felt helpless. Is there a worse feeling as a parent?

As I did my Bible study that morning, God quietly spoke to my heart. “Your word I gave you this year is enough. You want to share that message, that I am enough because of your own experience. How can I be enough when you walked through a deep valley of grief and still not be enough to walk your son through disappointment?”

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You guys. It was like I had been in a dark room, standing next to a lamp, and I had finally thought to turn it on.

It is so much easier to trust God with yourself and your own hurts and disappointments, than it is to trust Him with your children’s.

But He is still enough. In fact, He is more than enough to meet every need our children have.

In many ways, parenting older children is so much more difficult than when they were little.  Yes, they can dress and feed themselves, and it is a rare night that I am up with them now. I also just really enjoy my kids and the conversations we have.

But as our kids get older, their issues become more complex. We can’t fix it with a Spiderman bandaid and a juice box. Often, when our kids fall, it isn’t physically, and we can no longer pick them up, dust them off and set them on their feet. They have to do that for themselves.

It takes more trust to step back and not intervene when they hurt or go through hard things. Yes, we can offer our support, but often there is nothing we can tangibly do or should do, anyway. And that’s hard as a mom.

But as my son reaches the next stage and walks into young adulthood, I can rest in the fact that just as God is more than enough for me, He is also enough for my son.

So, what’s part of parenting are you struggling to trust God with? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

 

What Are Your Triggers: The Book Every Parent Needs

I distinctly remember the day when my oldest son, then about 3 years old, protectively put his arm around his younger 1-yea-old brother, and looked up at me with fear in his eyes. I, you know the person who was supposed to be the adult, was completely out of control. I’m sure if I had had a mirror it would have shown a screaming, red-face, wild-eyed woman who was, well, scary – especially if you were 3 years old.

Seeing my oldest son trying to protect his brother from my anger, I knew things had to change. Honestly, nobody was more stunned than I was that I had an anger problem. If you would have asked people who knew me at the time, they would have described me as easy-going and laid back.

So, imagine my surprise when the very little people who I loved more than life could push every button I never knew I had.

After that realization, I did make the effort to change, but I still messed up and I had to back and apologize so many times. It’s humbling how forgiving a child can be. I had to learn the hard way about the things that triggered that volcanic anger that had the ability to bruise and hurt my children’s hearts.

That’s why I wish I had this book when my kids were little. Written by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake, Triggers: Exchanging Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses  is the parenting manual to understanding your own triggers and how to replace them with better, Biblical responses.

** Disclaimer – I did receive a copy of this book to review, but I would never recommend a book if I didn’t find it valuable to my readers.**

This book is a great resource for moms who who want to model Biblical behavior but struggle with controlling their own responses.

I mean, we’ve all been there right? For whatever reason, our child is getting on very last nerve. Triggers addresses both external and internal triggers by highlighting 31 different behaviors and circumstances. These triggers include everything from backtalk and whining (can I get an amen?) to exhaustion and depression.

Each trigger has its own chapter that discusses the triggers and what God has to say about them, and then offers suggestions to help exchange the old, angry response with something that is gentler and more Biblically based. Each chapter ends with a prayer for moms to overcome that first, often angry, response.

While Amber and Wendy offer lots of empathy for overwhelmed moms, they also don’t pull punches about the long-term consequences of out-of-control parenting.

You can purchase this book here as a pdf, Kindle book or paperback. Just so you know, I am an affiliate for this book which means I get a percentage of the purchase price (it doesn’t cost you anything though!).

If we are honest, even though we would probably give our very lives for our children, we’ve all had days when our reactions were anything but loving. But the good news is that we don’t have to live in bondage to just reacting and the fallout of shame and guilt that brings.  Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses is a great first step to getting intentional in the way we parent.

Blessings, Rosanne

P.S. Stay tuned for my upcoming series on parenting, a challenge and a giveaway! Sign up to get new posts right in your inbox so you don’t miss out! 🙂

Celebrating Christmas When You Are Grieving

Christmas is different this year. While I have celebrated past Christmases without my brother present (he did live out of state of many years, after all),this year is different. I know I’ll never see him blow into my parents’ house, a bit late with his presents not quite wrapped, wearing that leopard trimmed Santa hat.

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During this month, it seems every time I turned around, I was reminded of my brother. I blinked back tears when I hung that little plaque he made me in the bathroom.

Wrapping gifts reminded me how much care he took with finding just the right wrapping paper for each person – down to what he used for tissue paper.

His name was glaringly absent from my Christmas list, and I had to remind myself not to visit the pet store to buy something for his dogs.

I cried while I made fudge because my brother loved chocolate.

Going through this first Christmas, knowing that he is no longer here – not just somewhere else but no longer anywhere on this earth – has been hard. I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy.

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Yet, there have been moments of joy this Christmas season, too. Because as much as I enjoy spending time with family, and as much as this holiday has become synonymous with gatherings and family and friends, that’s not really what it is all about.

I was reminded of this when I went to a memorial service that was held at the funeral home that handled my brother’s service. This particular funeral home has a memorial service every year at Christmastime for families that have lost a loved one that year.

As I sat waiting for the service to start, I looked around and was struck by how many other people had suffered loss that year. The room was packed and overflowing. I wondered how I would make it through this Christmas season, how I was going to make it special for my family when I really didn’t feel like celebrating at all.  Not celebrating really wasn’t an option for me though. My oldest son is a senior in high school. This is the last year before our family changes, and I was determined not to flake out for it, but I knew it would be difficult.

Then the speaker got up and he shared how when he was younger, his dad had shared the news of his parents’ divorce with him on Christmas Eve. It had shattered him and ruined the holiday for him.

From that time on, he hated Christmas – wouldn’t celebrate it. Until one day, his college roommate told him, “Christmas isn’t about you.” Those words sort of echoed over and over in my mind as I drove home.

Because here’s the thing, as much as I enjoy the outward festivities of Christmas – the baking, the visiting, the gifts, the time with family – Christmas isn’t really about that at all.

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It’s about a young teenage girl giving birth in a cave while her equally young, scared husband looked on helplessly, hoping he could deliver this baby that was supposed to be the Messiah.

It’s about lowly shepherds hearing the news of the Messiah’s birth from a choir of heavenly angels.

It’s about a God, who in all His goodness and His love, stepped into this world – not as a king or some powerful figure – but as a helpless baby born to a teenage girl and a poor man.

 

It’s about Emmanuel – God with us.

I can have joy with my tears because God has truly been with me in these past few months. God could have just offered us salvation and that would have been an indescribable gift we don’t in any way deserve.

But He offered so much more. He offered to dwell within us. Does that give you goosebumps, like it does me?

I can celebrate Christmas because it is a time to remember that God didn’t just step into this world as that tiny, helpless baby so long ago. He still continues to bend near to us, still does not flinch away from all the messiness of our lives.

He is truly Emmanuel. He is God with us. And that is something I want to celebrate because, in this time of grief, I have never felt His presence in my life more.

God may call us to the hard road, but He never asks us to walk it alone. That, in itself, is why I can celebrate Christmas while grieving, why my tears can mingle with joy.

I hope that, even if you are experiencing hard things – the loss of a loved one, an illness, a broken marriage or some other type of suffering in your life – you can still allow yourself to celebrate the wonder of a God who came down to us, not just to save us, but to have an intimate relationship with us. A God who is Emmanuel – God with us.

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Merry Christmas, Rosanne

 

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