5 Minute Fridays – COMFORT

Today is Friday (how did that happen??), and it’s time for 5 Minute Fridays. What is 5 Minute Fridays? I’m so glad you asked! It is when women from all over the globe come together – on Fridays-  and write for 5 minutes on a topic. You can hop over HERE and check it out!

 

This Friday’s word is COMFORT

 

I have always had a big imagination. As a writer and a creative, this is a great thing. When you are little and it is the middle of the night, not so much!

As a child, I was so afraid of the dark. I would pray that I wouldn’t wake up until morning. Nothing my parents did or said really helped. We prayed. They told me all the comforting things you say to a child who is afraid of the dark: Jesus is here. He is watching over you. You are safe.

But when I woke up at 2 a.m. with my room swathed in shadows, everything just looked scary. Did that shadow suddenly move? What was that noise? Were those – gulp – footsteps?

I had one comfort during those long, dark nights when there really did seem to be things that went bump in the night: my Granny.

When I was 5 years old, my mom’s mom, my Granny, came to live with us. And suddenly, instead of feeling all alone in the dark, miraculously, I wasn’t.

Those nights when my eyes would pop open, I would lay in my bed for a few minutes, but I never lasted very long. I would slide out of my bed and tiptoe down the hall.

I’d call softly, “Gram?”

She always pull the cover back a bit and answer me with, “Come in here, you.” I would slide into her bed and snuggle up to her warmth. Comforted by her presence, I’d drift back to sleep.

Even though it was the same night and it was just as dark, I wasn’t scared anymore. Because I wasn’t alone.

Of course, I hadn’t been alone all along. My parents, my brother – they had all been just down the hall. But there is something about actually feeling and hearing another person that makes your fears recede.

My grandmother passed away in 2007. She was in her 90s at that point, and in a nursing home due to a fall which fractured her back. Then it was my turn to comfort her. I’d visit her each week to let her know she wasn’t alone.

Of course, she wasn’t. But there is just something about seeing someone in person to drive the loneliness away. Comfort will always bring to my mind, my grandmother who didn’t mind sharing her bed with a small, scared girl.

Blessings, Rosanne

A Review of Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

On a scale of 1 to 10, this book was about a 6 for me. I was pretty excited to read this book as I had heard some great things. It was on sale through Bookbub, so I jumped on it.

Let’s Start With the Good Stuff

First of all,  I want to share the good stuff. I appreciate Shauna’s story, and I do think the book has some good seeds of truth in it.

One of the things I took away from the book was how important it is to know WHY you are doing something – even when you are serving others. It’s really easy to get tangled up in filling our own needs even when we outwardly appear to be serving others.

Another great takeaway from this book is the idea of being still and quiet – even if it makes you super uncomfortable. Personally, being an introvert, I find I need to have time by myself in order to recharge. My quiet time with Jesus every morning is not a luxury but a necessity for me. So, I love that the author really stresses how important it was for her to get still even though she personally found it very hard and uncomfortable.

I also liked how she very honestly shared her struggles of putting aside opportunities and the feeling that she would somehow miss out if she wasn’t connected 24/7. As someone who is a creative, I get how challenging it can be to feel like you might miss a big opportunity if you aren’t always plugged in and available all the time. It’s not easy to say that you were putting opportunity over your family. The truth is though, I think that probably happens in different ways for all of us way more than we’d like to admit.

What Didn’t Work for Me

So, there were some good things in the book, but for me, it wasn’t earth shattering or life changing really. For one thing, I’m not sure how many people can just take off for a month to hang out at a lake house. That would be wonderful, but it isn’t something most people can do.  Shauna had the flexibility to change her work life to make more time for her family. There are a lot of women for whom that is impossible. So, I can see where this book might feel a bit frustrating for them.

I also felt that while Shauna shared her own story, she didn’t really expand that to principles we can all use. I mean, there is value in reading someone else’s story, and we can definitely learn from what others have gone through. But, I kind of expected to actually learn how to move from trying to be perfect to being present.

The book was also very thin on how Jesus figured into all of this change. Yes,  the author was obviously burnt out because she was striving to be all things and do all things for all the wrong reasons. But, the truth is, sometimes God calls us to hard stuff. I don’t know that the Apostle Paul got a month off or could change his work hours to be less stressful.

My friend Erin is a case in point. As a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mom of three, she is busy. Yet, she feels called not just to those things, but also to write. To do that, she has to squeeze writing into the margins of her life. The woman gets up regularly at like 4:30 a.m. (as a non-morning person, this leaves me in awe!). She has shared with me (and on her blog), about how she feels stretched very thin, but doesn’t feel God is telling her to give anything up.

There are just going to be seasons where we are busier than others. This book kind of leaves the impression that if you are busy, then you must be doing something wrong. That life should be peaceful and well, easy in many ways. I’m not sure how Biblically accurate that is.

My Final Thoughts

So, overall, I’m not sure I can recommend Present Over Perfect. While it definitely has some good ideas in it and I applaud Shauna for honestly sharing her own journey, I feel like others have done it better. Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes is a more useful book on this topic, in my opinion.

Have you read either book? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Christianity’s Not a Competition

You’ve Probably Never Heard of This Guy

If you know anything about church history, the name Charles Finney probably rings a bell. He was the most famous evangelist during the Second Great Awakening.

However, you’ve probably never heard of Daniel Nash because his name was never part of the headlines that included Charles Finney.

But Charles Finney would probably never have made any headlines without Daniel Nash. You see, Nash quit his pastorate at the age of 48 to intercede for Finney full time. Before Finney would go to a place to preach for revival, Nash had already been there. He would find two or three other intercessors and they would rent a room and start praying for revival.

When Finney started the public meetings, Nash was rarely in attendance. Instead, he could be found praying for the Holy Spirit to convict those in the crowd and bring them to salvation.

Christianity Isn’t a Competition But We Sometimes Treat It Like One

Although it’s not really talked about in Christian circles much, Nash’s response to Finney is unusual. Many times, instead of praying for and interceding for fellow laborers, there is a sense of competition.

Whose church had more attendees on Sunday morning?

Whose revival meetings had a greater number of responses?

Who was the better preacher or teacher?

Competition Between Believers Isn’t Something New

This morning I was reading in Mark 9. This is the passage where Jesus takes John, James and Peter up on the mountain and transfigures in front of them (terrifying them in the process). When they return from this amazing experience, they find the rest of the disciples arguing with some scribes and a crowd has gathered.

When Jesus asks what’s going on, a man tells him he brought his demon-possessed son, but Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast it out. Of course, Jesus speaks and the demon leaves.

The disciples and Jesus leave the area. As they are walking, the disciples are in a huddle, talking intently with each other. When Jesus asks them what they are talking about, they clam up. Why? Because they are discussing who amongst them is the greatest.

The passage doesn’t explicitly say this, but knowing human nature and reading through to the end of the chapter, my guess is that there was some jealousy and competition going on among the disciples.

Jesus took three of them to see something amazing. The rest got left behind and then came up short in the whole casting out demons thing.

Everyone has a desire to feel special and chosen by someone.

Everyone wants to feel like they are in the inner circle.

Everyone wants to feel like they are, at the very least, not failing.

At least I do – please tell me I’m not alone in those feelings.

How Being Salty Figures Into It All

To be honest, in my first reading of chapter 9, I was a little confused about how it all worked together.  There is a lot going on and then the chapter ends with what appears to be these random teachings by Jesus. First, He talks about doing good in His name and then He talks about not being a stumbling block to children. Then He starts talking about cutting off your hands and feet or pulling out your eye if it causes you to stumble.

He winds it all up by talking about salt and being at peace. As I was reading this, I wondered what in the world salt had to do with being at peace with people. His last words in chapter 9 are, “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

As always, when I am confused I ask questions (my inner journalist coming out, I suppose – also, I’m nosey!). So, I asked God what in the world all this apparently random teaching meant, specifically in my own life.

I went back and looked the chapter over again, and then it hit me – Jesus was talking about serving Him how HE has called you to serve instead of comparing your role with others.

Believers are called to be salt to an unbelieving world. To us 21st century believers, that sounds a little weird right? I mean, salt is nice and all, but why not pepper or better yet, cinnamon? Well, salt in the ancient world was incredibly important.

It was used  in many cultures not just as a seasoning, but also as a preservative which was pretty important in an era without refrigeration! It was also used as a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and often as a form of money.

Salt had great value.

Make Sure Your Own Saltshaker is Filled Up

Jesus was saying, in several different ways, make sure YOU are salty because when you are filled up with what God has for YOU, then it’s a whole lot easier to be at peace with other believers.

Being human, we can miss the whole point if we start getting all caught up in competing with other believers about our roles, or comparing our apparent importance in the Kingdom.

We can also seriously turn others off, with all that competition and rivalry, especially children who watch not just what we say but what we do.

And all that stuff about cutting off your foot or hand or plucking out your own eyeball (eww!!), in this area we are our own worst enemies, aren’t we. The thoughts we allow to take up inventory on the shelves of our minds directly relate to how we view the world and those around us (you can read more about our mind’s inventory HERE).

I closed my Bible and opened my Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge for the day’s reading. And low and behold, the author was talking about how he was convicted to pray for the churches right around his own, and to start viewing them as part of the same team – not his competition. That’s where I saw the story of Daniel Nash.

Isn’t it so cool how God ties everything together like that?

Our culture is so wrapped up in individual’s successes, and I believe that has bled into the Church. We aren’t in competition with each other. We are all working for the Kingdom, and another church’s or organization’s or teacher’s or pastor’s or even fellow church member’s spiritual success doesn’t take away from what God has for YOU to do.

God’s blessings and plans aren’t finite. They don’t run out – ever. 

Is there someone you have a hard time rejoicing for? Do ever find yourself comparing your own success or growth or spiritualness to others? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Five Minute Friday – STEADY

It’s been a little while since I’ve done 5 Minute Fridays, and I’ve missed them. If you are unaware, Five Minute Fridays are when women from all over the world write for 5 minutes on a single word. If you haven’t stop over and check it out HERE.

The word this week is STEADY.

The word steady has always been synonymous with the word reliable. Something that is steady is something I can trust.

My first instinct when I sat down to write about this word was to talk about the steadiness of God. After all, how many words that describe God represent the word steady: rock, strong tower, a large place.

And God has certainly been my steady place when times got rocky and things felt totally off balance – anything BUT steady. During those times, God has proven that He is more than reliable and faithful, and that He never leaves me or forsakes me.

But what He has been teaching me about lately is being a source of steadiness for others. When my brother died in 2015, God showed up in such a tender and personal way. He was the one thing I could cling to in those first dark days when I felt like nothing made sense and I felt like I was walking on jello.

One of the things I begged God to do was to bring good out of my brother’s death and to show that to me. God is so awesome because He answered my prayers, and one of the ways is that my own grieving process has completely changed how I view others losses and difficulties. It’s made me aware that as wonderful as God is in the midst of the storm, it’s also a good thing to offer a human hand to steady another.

It’s not that I didn’t care before, but I was busy. Aren’t we all? And I let that busyness push my good intentions out of sight and out of mind. After walking through my own loss, I can’t do that anymore.  I can’t NOT see.

God, in His great mercy, gave me His hand during my own storm, and now, He’s asking me to offer my hand to others who feel battered by their own storms – not to help in my own strength, but to be the one who guides that person’s hand into the Father’s, so they too can find shelter from their storms.

 

What Are You Filling Your Mind With?

Kipper is a Great Teacher (in more ways than one!)

This is my dog Kipper. Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that I am pretty attached to my dog. He’s not just a pet. He’s part of the family.

When we brought Kipper into our home when he was just 12 weeks old, my goal was that he would be able to go everywhere with us. To do that, though, he had to be well-behaved and well-trained. So, I started right to work.

One of the first things I taught Kipper was to get into the car. After all, car rides were a vital part of going wherever we went. It wasn’t until a few weeks into the training that I realized my puppy was training me and not the other way around!

You see, Kipper just LOVES food, so, when I was working with him on the command “up” so he’d jump into the car (or really any elevated surface – within reason), he stealthily taught me to give him the treat (or more than one) first. When it finally dawned on me that I was being played by a 5-month-old puppy, I changed things up. (As you can see, that face was kind of hard to say no to!)

Anxiety Isn’t Always Obvious

I’ve found that anxiety can be just as stealth as Kipper trying to get a treat. Fear tends to come at you head-on, but anxiety is a sneakier beast. It seems to creep up and settle in without me even being aware. Just like Kipper, anxiety can start to get me to follow its lead without me even realizing it.

Today I was reading in Psalms 27 (when I am in between studies,  I pick a Psalm that corresponds with the date). Psalms 27 is all about overcoming fear. Not surprisingly, it’s one of my favorite Psalms, and I have verses underlined and notes jotted in the margins.

One such note stood out to me today – God’s presence combats fear.

And it’s true. Shining the truth of God’s Word can expose the fears and anxieties that have started training your mind into certain ways of thinking and believing.

It’s Not Surprising When We Struggle With Our Calling

As many of you know, I am a writer. I’ve struggled with what that calling means and how to go about it and even if it is a “real” calling. This year, my word has been contend, and one of the things I have been contending for is what it really means to be a daughter of God Almighty.

As I’ve stepped into this fight (because, make no mistake, that is what it is – a fight), I’ve realized that the enemy has zero desire for me or anyone else to fully realize their identity in Christ! I’ve had to repent and mourn wasted time. I’ve become bold in my prayers about fulfilling my calling to write. I’ve also asked God to show me where and how I am being blocked or sidetracked.

God is always faithful to answer our prayers, and HE showed me how much anxiety had crept in regards to my calling. From the anxiety of trying to learn marketing to the anxiety of finding the time (I swear, if I spent half the time writing that I did worrying about finding the time to write, I’d probably have a whole series of books done by now!), worry had blanketed nearly everything to do with my writing.

In my mind, writing and anxiety had become linked. Instead of the joy I’ve always felt when creating new worlds with words, I found it had become something heavy and burdensome.

What Is Your Mind Stocked With?

As I read Psalms 27 this morning, I found myself heading over to a few other favorite verses that deal with anxiety. One is Psalms 34:4 which says, “I sought the Lord and HE answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  There was the theme of seeking out God’s presence to combat fear.

Then I flipped over to my life verses (and yes, I get the irony!) in Philippians 4:6-8. Again, we are told to seek God in prayer and supplication with every anxious thought we have. We are also told what to focus on our minds on too: things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute; things that are excellent and praiseworthy. That’s what we are supposed to dwell on.

Being the nerd that I am, I looked up the original meaning of dwell, and it wasn’t what I thought it would be . It actually means to number or take inventory. It has this idea of very deliberate recounting.

I realized, as I prayed and meditated on these Scriptures, that I had allowed so much anxiety to creep into my mind and set up residence over my writing. And the battle had nothing to do with how much time I had or how busy I was or anything else. It had everything to do with what I was inventorying in my mind – which were all the obstacles and challenges.

Once again, I had allowed the “I can’ts” to stock my mental shelves. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll be praying that God reveals all the ways I can’t is inadvertently training me. I have a feeling I might be surprised at how often I dance it its tune.

What anxieties creep into your life if you’re not careful? I’d love to hear about them!

Surprising Lessons I Learned This Spring

Today, I am linking up over at Emily P. Freeman’s blog, Chatting at the Sky, to share what I’ve learned this spring. Stop over and see the lessons have sprouted! Or share your own lessons harvested during this last season. Looking back is a great way thing to practice before moving forward. You can share the silly, the serious or the just plain practical. All are welcome!

What I Learned

 

Prayer is vital.

I know, you are probably thinking, well, duh! I’ve always known prayer was important, but during this season, God has been planting the importance of prayer deep in my heart. Without prayer, I can’t fully walk as His daughter. And prayer takes time, time that is sometimes hard to carve out. But it is SO worth it!

Praying for Other is Hard Work

And the enemy will definitely try to distract you and keep you from this work. It’s interesting that as God has pressed the importance of prayer into my heart, I’ve become more and more aware of the needs of others. I’ve realized the importance of fighting for people’s hearts and minds on my knees and wielding God’s Word as my sword.

Anxiety and Worry Can Be Sneaky

In many ways, God has done an incredible work in me in regards to my tendency to get anxious and worried over things (there are downsides to an active imagination!). But, as I was praying about some things (see a pattern here?), God showed me that anxiety had crept into my perception of my calling to write. Instead of something joyful (because truly creating with words takes me to my happy place), there had crept in a sort of anxious burdensome feeling when I thought of my writing. Instead of a gift and privilege, it had started to feel (at least when I was thinking about it and not doing it) like a duty and heavy burden. I had become way more concerned with finding the time to write rather than just writing. Weird right? But the enemy will distract us any way that works!

My Son Can Sing

On a lighter note (see what I did there?), my son was one of the leads in the musical Hello, Dolly! this spring. While he sang around the house quite a bit and was on key and all that, I had no idea he could sing. I know he’s my kid and I might be a bit biased, but I was delightfully surprised by his portrayal of Horace Vandergelder.

I Enjoy the Arts So Much More than Sports

Which brings me to my next point…. I married the Coach 24 years ago, and my life started to revolve around the sporting seasons. Then I had 2 boys who were also sports junkies, and soon my entire life seemed to orbit around practice and game schedules. I have to be honest, I get super nervous before every single game. It’s like going into battle. I wonder if we’ll play well as a team. I wonder if my child will have a great night or if he’ll come home with a list of things he could have done better or shaking his head over a shot that just wouldn’t fall. Arts are not like that. Opening night of the play, I was simply excited. I went each night with a sense of delightful anticipation. I think I’ll be having a conversation with my future grandchildren, encouraging them to be in the arts, so grandma doesn’t have a heart attack!

It’s Much Better to Embrace a Busy Season

Spring is a busy time of year for us. There is the annual teen conference I speak at and the school play and all the end of year things like awards and banquets. Not to mention, there is baseball season, too. This year, I decided to just embrace the busyness and to stop feeling guilty that I couldn’t get more done. It made the spring much less stressful which just goes to show – much of the stress and pressure I experience is because of my own unrealistic expectations!

The Crock Pot Is My Friend

We have entered a new season this year with my oldest son attending college locally. Between his school and work schedule, and everyone else’s busy schedules, I have given up on making a dinner to serve at a specific time. Instead, I’ve turned to my crock pot. Not only do I not have to worry about preparing something at the dreaded dinner hour, but dinner is warm and ready for whoever happens to be coming into the kitchen for dinner! Add a crock pot liner and clean up is even easy! On a side note, New Leaf Wellness has some wonderful make ahead crock pot recipes. You just assemble them in large freezer bags, and then you can thaw them and pop them in your crock pot. SO EASY!!!!

So, there you have it, what I have learned this spring. What have you learned this past season? I’d love to hear about it!

Review of Storm by Jim Cymbala

Is the light of Jesus that we shine before people growing dark?

Has a storm cut us off from our power source?

Is the church of Christ disappearing into a dark night?

Those three questions on the back cover of Storm by Jim Cymbala caught my eye. Our local Christian bookstore was going out of business, and as I perused the shelves, looking for ways to spend a gift card I had, those words caught my eye.

I’ve read other books by Jim Cymbala, so I knew this one would probably be just as good. I wasn’t disappointed. The truth is, in recent times, the Church’s light seems to have grown dim in our culture and society.

Storm points out the warning signs that the Church is in trouble, the current problems within the church, and things both church leaders and members can be doing to fix or reverse those problems.

Throughout the book, Cymbala shares personal stories of members of his own Church who have seen God work in and through them. While I enjoyed the entire book, the stories were some of my favorite parts.

Out of all the chapters, I found the list of warning signs to be some of the most alarming. Cymbala points out three warning signs. The first is dwindling numbers. While some statistics list almost 80% of Americans as being “Christian,” the real data doesn’t back that up. In fact, the real percentage of true believers in America is shockingly between 7 and 8.9%.

The second warning sign Cymbala mentions is that personal transformation is rare. A recent Barna Group survey found that 46% of regular churchgoers said that their life had not changed at all as a result of attending church. Yikes.

Finally, the third warning sign Cymbala shares is that Biblical literacy is declining. Americans who are hostile to the Bible rose from 10% in 2011 to 17% in 2013. Those numbers continue to grow.  While lack of Biblical knowledge or even hostility is understandable for non-believers, only 1 in 5 self-proclaimed Christians actively read their own Bibles.

The two other chapters in the book that really resonated with me were “Tempest Within,” which discusses the failure of church fads and trends, and “Storming Heaven,” which talks about the power of prayer.

In “Tempest Within,” Cymbala touches on some of the most popular trends of the church. He also points out something very interesting. “In the last twenty years there have been more conferences and more books published on church growth than in all the prior history of our country. As new models of how to grow your church have increased in popularity, we have actually witnessed a precipitous decline of Christianity in America.” Makes you think doesn’t it?

“Storming Heaven” was a chapter that reaffirms a message God has been teaching me all year – the importance and power of prayer. One of my goals this year was to fully realize and live out what it means to be a daughter of the Living God. The one thing God keeps bringing me back to again and again is prayer. It is something that is conspicuously absent in many churches.

If the vast changes you are seeing, not just in the culture around us, but also inside the Church have you feeling bewildered and anxious, Storm is an anchor in the swirling waters of change we now find ourselves in.

What book have you read this year that has really made you stop and think? I’d love to hear about it!

How to Truly Celebrate Mother’s Day

Best Laid Plans

I had an entire blog post written out. It was all about how lately I’ve been feeling a tad underappreciated as a mom. It was about the need to ask for help and how important the word no is – even when that no is to your family. It was a pretty good post. I was all ready to do a little editing and then post it today.

But then I read this post from Kristen Welch from We Are That Family. She was guest posting on Ann Voskamp’s blog.

If you don’t know who Kristen Welch is, she founded and runs Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya. Their website explains them this way. Mercy House exists to engage, empower and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name through partnerships and sustainable fair trade product development.

A New Perspective

Reading Kristen’s heartfelt words about a mom who lives in the worst slums in Kenya, I realized something. No matter what any of our Mother’s Days looked like, it was still miles better than about 75% of the world’s.

It’s hard to fathom the grinding poverty that exists elsewhere in the world.

It’s hard to understand the desperate and heartbreaking choices mothers around the world have to make just to keep their children alive.

It’s impossible to wrap our minds around handing our child over to forms of slavery just so they can have enough food to live.

Yet, this is how a huge percentage of the world’s women live their lives – in poverty, in fear, in desperation. 

How You Can Make a Difference

It’s overwhelming to think about, and yet, there are ways we can help.

Today is the She is Priceless campaign. There are 8 non-profit organizations, all designed to help the most vulnerable of women and children in some of the most difficult places in the world.

When I think of the mother Kristen writes about, who has had to allow her young teen daughter to sell her body to provide food and whose son is owned by a neighbor who works him night and day just for a small amount of sustenance, I’m ashamed. Ashamed that I was whining about feeling taken advantage of because I had to pick up extra socks. Ashamed that I complain about anything in my very blessed and abundant life.

So, are you ready to truly celebrate mothers?

Review of Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Remembering the Early Days

It’s been a long time since I had a baby. My youngest will be 16 in a few weeks (and just got his driving permit today – yikes!). So why I decided to pick up a book my son Brock was reading to complete an assignment in one of his education classes is beyond me. But for some reason, Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing up Bebe: One American Woman Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, called to me

The bigger mystery  is why I proceeded to read the entire thing rather than just flip through it, but read it, I did.

 

My Guilty Secret

The funny thing is, as I read about the French way of parenting, I recognized a lot of my own parenting in it. Maybe that was why I read the whole thing – sort of confirmation that I didn’t completely stink as a mother.

As I said, I’m long past the days of diapers and sippy cups and toddler tantrums. But here’s my guilty little secret – when I look around at everything mothers do with and for their kids now I feel a tiny bit guilty. Like maybe I wasn’t engaged enough or intentional enough.

The truth is, I’m a whole lot more like the French mothers described in Bringing Up Bebe than many of the American moms I see and ready about today.

Mothering Has Changed In Recent Years

I hang out a lot in the blogosphere. I blog. I have friends that blog. I read blogs. And one thing I’ve noticed is that motherhood has become sort of a competing sport.

The pressure on moms is enormous and the guilt that goes along with it is also pretty huge. From throwing the perfectly, pinterest-worthy birthday party, to cooking organically from scratch, to bubble wrapping their child’s apparently fragile esteem, it’s no wonder exhaustion is rampant.

In fact, it’s become kind of a badge of honor to say how exhausted you are, how few hours you’ve slept and what a complete wreck your house is. Why? Because by not focusing on anything but your kids, you’re winning at this whole motherhood competition. 

The French Are Doing It Differently

It’s not like French parents aren’t into reading their kids books or giving them lessons or letting them play sports. But French parents have kids who eat normal foods, sleep through the night by 3 or 4 months and seem relatively well-behaved in public. French parents have actual lives. They sleep and have sex and do fun, adult activities without children tagging along. (On a sidenote – for YEARS I tried to have a New Year’s Eve party with just adults, and never once managed it in about a 10 year span. I finally gave up and just invited families instead).

While I can’t say either of my boys are foodies, I also have never been a short order cook. The other things, I can say WERE true about my kids (well, besides that unfortunate year when Brody decided to assert his desire to rule the world. He took a bit of convincing that he actually wasn’t the next Mussolini).

Bringing Up Bebe is about American Pamela Druckerman’s own experience having and a daughter and then twin boys in Paris where she lived with her British husband. It didn’t come easily, but the book is both informative and entertaining as she shares her fumbling attempts to figure out what the French were doing differently. And then her more fumbling attempts to imitate them. This is not a Christian book, but it is so full of commonsense wisdom, I had to review it!

My 5 Top Takeaways From the Book

  1. Babies aren’t just blobs. The French believe babies are sentient humans from birth. They believe babies are rational and can communicate (sort of) what they are thinking and feeling. Suggestion: Talk to your baby in a normal tone, and be polite. Let the baby know what you are doing and why. It will probably feel a bit silly. On a funny sidenote, the book describes the French’s penchant for giving a new baby a tour of their new to them home. I have an actual recording (on an ancient VHS tape) of me taking Brock around our tiny apartment and “showing” it to him. True story.
  2. Babies can sleep through the night at a relatively early age (or permanent sleep deprivation isn’t a badge of being a good parent). The French call it “doing his nights.” They believe that a baby has to learn how to connect his or her sleep cycles. So, when a baby wakes up and starts to fuss a bit, they pause for about 5 minutes to see if the baby will go back to sleep. Babies are notoriously restless sleepers, sometimes thrashing all over the crib, but often, they aren’t really awake. Sleeping like a baby is a very misleading cliche! If left to themselves, they will often transition into the next sleep cycle. The French also tell their babies why they need to sleep and how confident they are in the baby’s ability to do just that. (see above)
  3. Kids don’t actually need kid foods. Yes, the French use pureed foods, but they start with flavorful veggies, not bland cereal. They see it as their job to cultivate a wide palette in their children. They also do not allow their children to snack continually throughout the day. Go to any American playground, and baggies of puffs and yogurt dips and all manner of food is on display, but at French playgrounds, they are conspicuously absent. The French also get their baby on a eating schedule that closely mirrors the family’s eating schedule pretty quickly. This means 3 meals plus one snack each day.
  4. Children have the ability to be patient. The French believe coping with frustration and delaying gratification (see above on snacks) is something that every child has the ability to learn. Patience is expected and calm is desired. French parents teach their children accordingly. French parents have a philosophy of very firm boundaries but then giving their children a lot of freedom within those boundaries.
  5. Children are encouraged to be independent. In France, children often go on week-long overnight field trips away from home at young ages like 6 or 7. Parents also place their children in public daycares as  infants. They are called the creche and are staffed by highly trained professionals.
  6. In France, there isn’t a smorgasboard of parenting styles and philosophies. Everyone generally sticks to the same formula, including the daycares, preschools and schools. They do this because it works. Children know what is expected and usually live up to that expectation.

After reading Bringing Up Bebe, instead of guilty, now I feel a tiny bit like I was ahead of the trend. What is your favorite parenting book? I’d love to hear about it!

Praying God’s Word Over Our Kids

It’s Okay If You Haven’t Been Stellar At Praying

I’ll be honest. I have not always been consistent in my prayer life, particularly when my children were tiny. There were times when I would forget to pray for them for days at a time.

Often, I wasn’t sure exactly WHAT to pray for them either. So many of my natural inclinations of what to pray – to keep them safe, to prevent failure, to keep them from getting hurt – aren’t really in my kids’ best interests. While I hate to see my children fail or get hurt or be in danger, I also know that those things help them to forge character and grow and learn.

But, let’s be real here, who wants to pray that for their kids?

Prayer Isn’t a Warranty Against the Tough Stuff

Prayer is also not a guarantee against bad stuff happening or a child straying from their faith, either. We can pray faithfully from the day our child is born until we take our last breath, but that doesn’t mean our child won’t make wrong choices or endure difficult or unfair things in his or her life.

About the time my kids were starting school, I came across a book by Beth Moore about praying the Scriptures. I decided to pick out some key Scriptures to pray over my boys on a regular basis.

Pick Out a Few Key Verses To Pray Over Your Children

I knew I wanted my kids to love Jesus, and that their relationship with Him was foundational for everything else in their life. So, one of the first verses I started praying for my kids was found in Luke 10:27.

The second verse I picked out to pray over my kids was about God’s love for us. For me, truly believing that God loved me was life transforming. When you grow up in church, it’s so easy to take God’s love for granted and not really think about what it truly means that God loves us.

It’s also easy when you grow up in church to start equating God’s love with our performance. I don’t know that anyone ever comes out and says that. However, when you hear Bible lessons about obedience and all the things you aren’t supposed to do, that message can inadvertently come across. So, the next verses I prayed for my kids came from Ephesians.

 

Finally, I really wanted my kids to understand what it meant to be in Christ. I wanted them to grow in their own relationship with God. Instead of relying on my faith and their dad’s faith, I wanted them to stand independently and firmly on the foundation of who they were in Christ.

Coming from a Christian home and being raised in church can be a huge blessing. But it can also sometimes make the sheer grace of the gospel seem a bit muffled.

The other verse I prayed regularly for my boys also is found in Ephesians. Paul is praying for the Ephesian Christians to fully understand just who they are in Christ. I decided to steal a page from Paul’s book.

Of course, over the years, these are not the only verses I’ve prayed over my kids, but they have been the constant ones. They were the verses that formed the backbone of contending for my children in the spiritual realm.

Because, let’s be honest, we are in a daily fight for our kids aren’t we? The enemy, the world and their own flesh natures continually want to get them off track.

Do you have some favorite verses you pray over your kids? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

 

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