When Everything Changes And You Can’t Catch Up

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t written much in this space over the last few months. In fact, I’ve been pretty quiet, even though I used to post about two to three times a week. Maybe that didn’t even register for you, or maybe you’ve wondered, in passing, why you weren’t getting that many emails from Divine Ordinary anymore.

Today, I am over at Grace & Truth Linkup on Arabah Joy’s blog. It seemed like a good time to jump back in to blogging. I hope you’ll join us over there!


My lack of posts started when my dad was in the hospital for a month both locally and in Columbus (which is about a hour and a half drive from me). He was hospitalized on July 28th and didn’t come home until about a week before school started.

Which brings me to the reason my life has changed drastically in the past few months. After years of working from home, I started teaching again – middle school English to be exact. And even though I only teach half a day, it’s still a lot of work. A lot. More than I remembered or expected. Turns out, things have changed a lot since I taught six years ago!


Not only that, but my oldest son started college this fall. Even though he is going to school locally and is still living at home, it is very different. It’s not really High School 2.0. We share a car, so that is also different – and sometimes challenging. I used to have the day to myself from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Now, that isn’t the case. He has two jobs, so he is rarely home in the evenings, either. When he is home, his time is spent surrounded by books and papers at the kitchen table.

When my husband approached me about teaching again (he’s the superintendent/principal at a Christian school), I thought it over and said yes. I had enjoyed teaching before, and I thought a change would be nice. Sometimes, working at home can get lonely. Not to mention, sometimes it’s hard to get people to understand that while yes, you are home, you are also WORKING, not eating bon bons and watching daytime television.

I’m going to be really honest. While I thought I was ready for some change, I haven’t been doing so well with it. First, I had forgotten how much work the first year of teaching new classes could be. There is so much prep work and now, with all the testing, there is an added layer of urgency and pressure to get everything in. You can’t really meander down any old learning trail anymore. You have to stay on the path and get it done.

At least the whole teaching English thing was somewhat familiar to me. The one thing that took me by complete surprise, though, was how much I have mourned my lost identity. For six years, I was a working writer. No, I didn’t make very much money, and yes, working for the newspaper came with hassles of its own. I thought I was more than ready to ditch the weekly deadlines. But I was an “official” writer. I made an income doing it. I worked for myself. I made a difference in my community with the words I wrote.


Becoming an employee felt, in many ways, like going backwards. When I let go of writing as a job, it felt like I had let go of an anchor. Since then, I have felt a bit lost and adrift because my identity as a writer was tied up way more than I thought in where I worked.

I don’t know if you can relate to this idea of what you do equals what you are, but it was tangled much deeper into the roots of my soul than I realized.

The truth is, I’m still a writer. I’m working on several writing projects, and I do a newsletter for a local teen ministry. So, it’s not that I am not writing. It’s more that my title has changed.

In July, I went to my 25th year high school reunion. Yes, that makes me feel pretty ancient. We played this game and one of the questions was what we wanted to do in high school and what we were doing now. I was doing BOTH the things I wanted to do – not quite in the ways I had envisioned (my visions including something much bigger and grander, to be honest).

I was living my dream.

And then I wasn’t.

And it was hard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my students. I have always enjoyed teaching, and I still enjoy it. But things have changed and I find myself in a very different season of life and mindset than the last time I taught.

The last time I taught, writing was just a dream – out there. Sure, I had a little blog (if you’ve been with me long enough, you might remember my blog Free Indeed over at blogspot).

The thing is, I felt like I was supposed to take the teaching job, that God needed me to invest in the lives of the students He would bring through my classroom door.

It’s hard when you do what you think God wants you to do, and then feel like it is a mistake for so many reasons. It’s hard because then you start to second guess what you thought you knew. After all, God doesn’t send emails or write in the sky.

Instead, He holds out His hand and asks us to take the next step in faith. He asks us to trust Him, even when He leads us to what surely looks like a mistake.


Remember the Israelites, having just gained their freedom from slavery from Egypt? They found themselves at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army approaching in the distance. They stood on the banks of the Red Sea, probably terrified as they felt the rumble beneath their feet that telegraphed the encroaching army and certain doom. They had no way to defend themselves. They couldn’t run – there were thousands of them with women, children and babies. They had livestock and supplies. Not exactly a group that could make a quick get away.

I heard that story growing up in church, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that the Isrealites didn’t end up on the banks of the Red Sea because they took a wrong turn or because their version of a GPS failed them.

God led them between the proverbial rock and a hard place – or in this case, between the sea and the army.

And it was there – in that seemingly impossible place and situation – that God delivered them in a big and miraculous way.

It doesn’t say, but I think God did that because He could see the future. He knew they would need a miracle that was so big and so spectacular to hang on to as they made their long way to the Promised Land.

God has led me to a seemingly impossible place – teaching and all the hours that entails and writing and all the work and focus and time that entails. I’ve spent a lot of time telling God I can’t see how it will all work. He’s continued to say, “Trust me.”

How about you? What is your Red Sea moment of faith? Do you trust God enough to hang with Him long enough to see the miracle?

Blessings, Rosanne



The 5 Things Death Taught Me

Just a forewarning – this is going to be a pretty raw post. If you want pretty ideas tied up in pleasing bows, you might want to stop reading now.

Okay, now that you know that, I also want you to know that this is a hard post for me to write because I’m sort of hanging out a lot of my own shortcomings and mistakes. What I hope, though, is that by sharing my mistakes, you can avoid them. Regret can leave a pretty nasty taste in your mouth. Take it from someone who knows.

It’s interesting how death has a way of exposing what you really believe – not just in your head, but deep down at the daily difference level. When my brother died last summer, God used his death to expose those things I talked about and said I believed, yet I didn’t really do. He showed me, in the loving, yet exquisitely painful way that only God can, that I was a hypocrite.

Here are the five things God taught me since my brother’s death. My hope is that you won’t just read this, but that you’ll take action in the areas that call to you.

5 ThingsDeath Taught Me graphic


  • Don’t put things off. About a month before my brother’s death, I had this prompting that I should go see him -not just try to call him – but actually get in my car and drive over to visit him face to face. It was just after school ended, and I was kind of busy. So, I kept putting it off. I thought, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow or next week.” To be completely honest, I was really just putting off being uncomfortable. There were times when my brother would get upset for one reason or another and would pull away from our entire family. This was one of those times, and I hadn’t talked to him in a while. I had tried calling, but he never returned my calls. I wasn’t 100% sure how happy he’d be to see me, and even if he was, I knew the initial conversation might be awkward. And awkward makes me so uncomfortable. So, it was easy to make excuses to put it off for another day.Until, of course, there were no more days. During the first days after my brother’s death, that regret of not going to see him was like a knife twisting in my heart. “If only” played over and over in my head. So, if you get that feeling you should call someone or stop by, please just do it. Most regret isn’t over something you did, but over what you didn’t do.


  • Don’t let busyness keep you from important relationships. As a wife and a mom with two sons who were always in sports, my evenings were (and are) often busy. While I made the effort to give my brother my kids’ game schedules, after he died, I found myself wishing I had invited him over more often. I found myself wishing back evenings he could have joined us for a quick dinner, afternoons watching football on television. It is so easy to get caught up in our never ending daily to dos, but when we let our tasks trump the people in our lives, we waste the time we have with them. While I’ve always known in my head that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, I certainly did not live that way.  Your to do list will always be there, but that person won’t, necessarily. Take time for the people in your life and you won’t regret it.


  • Say the important things. When my brother died, I spent a lot of time wondering if he knew. Did he know how much I enjoyed the fact that he worked so hard to find the perfect gift even during the times when he didn’t have a lot of money to spend? Did he know what a kick I got out how he tried to match the  wrapping paper and tissue paper to that person’s gift? Did he know that I admired the way he volunteered to help other people even when he was struggling himself? Did he know that I would always be there for him and he could call me anytime for help or support? I knew I felt that way, but did he know I felt that way? I hope he did, but I don’t know for sure. That’s a tough pill to swallow now. Take the time to tell the people in your life you love them and what you love about them. Your words will never be wasted.


  • Don’t give up on people. When someone you love has a mental illness, it can be hard sometimes. Relationships aren’t always all sunshine and kittens. My brother was a great guy in so many ways, but he did have his issues. There were times over the years, when I felt like nothing would change. There were times when I stopped praying for him because it felt hopeless. Here’s the thing – nobody is ever a lost cause with Jesus. If He can offer salvation to a thief dying on a cross next to Him, He has a hope and a future and a plan for whoever that person is in your life who it seems will never change or get back on the path. You will never regret praying more for someone or continuing to believe God has a plan for their life.


  • Be present. Want to completely ruin the vibe in any gathering? Tell them your brother killed himself. An immediate pall will fall over the group. Nobody will look you in the eye, and nobody will know what to say. I get it. Standing in the face of someone else’s grief is hard and awkward and painful. We don’t know what to say and we can’t fix it, so we just don’t show up. Well, sure we go to the funeral. We walk through the line and shake their hand or hug them, maybe murmur, “Sorry for your loss.” But then we disappear, and we tell ourselves the comforting lie that the person looks and acts like they are okay, so they must be just fine. That if they needed something, they would ask. I’m not pointing fingers because I’ve done it too. But let’s at least stop lying to ourselves. The person is NOT okay. They don’t have the emotional or mental capacity to ask for what they need. Heck, they probably don’t even know what they need. I know I certainly didn’t. They are grieving and grieving is hard, but it’s infinitely harder when you feel like you are doing it alone. All that person really needs is your presence. No fancy words or miraculous solutions. Just you sitting with them in their grief. I learned how powerful presence – even if the presence comes in the form of a card or phone call – can be when you are hurting, and I’ll never think of it as doing nothing again. Don’t let awkwardness keep you from offering your presence to someone who is hurting.

It isn’t really feasible to live our lives like it is our last day on earth. If I did that my house would be declared a disaster area, and I’d probably weigh about 300 pounds. But we can live our lives so we don’t have regrets.

What do you need to change so you can live a life of no regrets? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne


Moving Forward in Grief

As the one year anniversary of my brother’s death approaches, I’ve found myself getting hit by waves of grief again. Like after a storm that had passed, those initial waves of grief had been much smaller and manageable over the past few months. So, I was kind of surprised when  bigger waves suddenly knocked me off my feet.


It shouldn’t be a surprise really, but it was. See, grief is cyclical. We talk about the stages of grief like they are bus stops and once you are past them, you are done with that stage, but the truth is grief tends to cycle around. Sometimes, as you cycle through, you even hit a stage you missed the last time around.

It’s also not surprising really because our family is going through a major milestone. My oldest, Brock, graduated from high school. Things are changing, yet my brother is forever in the past. He is not part of this new present.

Another reason – at least I think this is a reason – is that over the past few months I’ve been crazy busy. (You can read about 6 Tips When Your Everyday Is Crazy HERE) And now that I’ve had a moment to slow down and to take a deep breath from all the happy busy of birthday parties and graduation and graduation parties, the reality of the permanence of brother’s death has hit me hard.


The thing is, grief is not one big good-bye but a series of small ones. Each new milestone that your loved one isn’t present for is a small grief. The more milestones that pile up, the more final their death feels. You might wonder, well of course death is final – what in the world?

Well, after that first year, I can no longer say, “This time last year….”  I am making new memories of which my brother has no part. That’s how life is, of course, the living constantly move forward. But I am finding it hard to move forward because that means I leave my brother forever behind.


In my mind’s eye, I picture it like we’ve all been in this meadow, and now my family and I are walking down the path, continuing our little hike.  But my brother stays in that meadow. I keep looking back over my shoulder, lingering, walking slowly, but my family, my friends, my life keeps moving forward on our path. I’m getting to that bend in the road, and I have to decide if I’m going to continue to move forward and lose sight of my brother. He’s still in the meadow, where he will forever stay.  Or am I going to stop, forever stuck between what was and what will be.

I think the healthy decision is to keep moving forward, but understanding the finality of death hurts. It doesn’t mean I can never visit the meadow, but I can’t stay there. I have to move forward. And that’s another form of good-bye.



Have you dealt with grief? What are some things that have surprised you as you’ve worked through it? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne


When Your Kids Are ALMOST Out of the Nest

Today, I am over at Arabah Joy for her link-up, Grace & Truth. Hop on over and check it out HERE!


Maybe it’s my season of life, but this year when the robin couple built their nest in our down spouting, I paid closer attention than I normally do. What hit me was how very quickly those baby birds went from pretty blue eggs to perched on the edge of the nest, ready to fly. There are so many lessons to learn from that.


However, what I also found interesting was how the baby birds had a period of time where they flew back and forth to the nest. They would fly to our porch railing or to the nearby tree, but they always returned to the nest -for shelter, for food, maybe for flying advice. I guess I always kind of thought baby birds learned to fly and they were gone – off on their own little avian adventures. However, these half grown birds, while they did fly away from the nest, came back regularly. In fact, that nest was looking a bit crowded and the Mama Bird was looking a bit harried as she tried to hang onto her perilous perch and feed her overgrown babies, now all squashed in the once roomy space.

And I realized there are a lot of lessons to be learned from half grown birds too.


See, it wasn’t a clear cut moment in time where the baby bird took flight and then was gone. Instead, those half grown birds tested their wings. They flew a little ways away, but then came back to the nest – for shelter, for sustenance, maybe for more flying lessons. There was still more to teach even though those birds could technically fly.

Right now, we are entering a new season with our oldest son. On May 27, I watched as my son marched with his classmates down to the front of our auditorium. I watched as he stood up and calmly gave his valedictorian speech without so much as a tremor. I watched at his grad party as my normally quiet and reserved son mingled and greeted guests with the aplomb of a seasoned diplomat.

It would seem like he doesn’t need me or his dad anymore, like he is ready to fly the nest. But, that isn’t really true. As I watched the saga of the birds, I realized that those birds are like my son – just because he can now fly doesn’t mean he is supposed to fly away from the nest for good just yet. There are still things he needs to learn before he is totally independent.


He still needs the shelter of the nest – not constantly like when he was young. Like those young birds, he can take longer and wider forays out into the world, knowing he has a safe place to land still.

He still needs the sustenance of the nest – not constantly like when he was young, but he has the ability to provide and find some of that sustenance himself. While that mama bird still brought worms to her young, she also allowed them to forage for themselves. Sometimes, they were successful and sometimes they were not, but failure was part of a learning process. The nest provided a bit of a safety net, but not completely anymore.

Robin mama


He still needs a bit of flying advice – not the constant, daily instruction like when he was young, but he now has the freedom to try his wings and fly, too. One of the little birds liked to fly and hang out on our porch railing. Amateur photographer that I am, I kept trying to get pictures of the birds and the nest, but I couldn’t get close to the mama bird at all. The least little movement sent her winging away, scolding me as she went (and sometimes dive bombing my head). The little guy though – I could get very close to him on the railing. He wasn’t nearly as cautious as the mama bird which was both a good thing (for my photography purposes) and a bad thing (lots of stray cats around here). He was more willing to take chances, but he still had a lot to learn about the dangers of this world.


I’ve heard it said that parenting a college-age student is one of the most challenging seasons because your child is no longer a child, but they also aren’t a full-fledged, independent adult either. It’s a time when they fly to and from the nest – sometimes leaving you to wonder if they are coming back at all and at other times making the nest feel a bit overcrowded.


What I noticed is that the little birds flew further and further away, coming less and less frequently to the nest. The mama bird provided less and less food, until one day, I noticed the nest was standing empty. Everyone had moved on, including the parents.


I suppose that is what will happen with Brock too – eventually, he’ll spread his wings on the side of our nest for the last time, and when he returns, it won’t be for shelter or sustenance or guidance but for the relationship built during all the years spent in the nest.

I just hope we can navigate this in-between season as gracefully as the robins did.

Blessings, Rosanne

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.


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.


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. 


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


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. 🙂

Luke 10-27

#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.


#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.



#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.


#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. 


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.

tips forimprovinGyour blog

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.




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!




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!




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.

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Part 2: 9 Parenting Principles that Transcend Parenting Style (2)

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.


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.


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

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