parenting

Because Parenting Is Hard

Being a parent is hard.

It is fun. It is thrilling. It is rewarding. But it is hard, heartbreakingly hard.

Both my boys started back to school just a few weeks ago. My oldest son began 8th grade and my youngest son began Kindergarten.

And my Mommy heart was breaking. My hands wanted to wrap around both of them for dear life and not let go.

And so I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

It was still hard.

My youngest son came home his first day and absolutely loved it. He could hardly wait to go back the next day!

But as the days pass, his excitement has dwindled. At times he feels lonely. He knew nobody going in and most of the other kids already had friends.

Every day when he comes home I ask him who he played with at recess. So far he has responded that nobody wanted to play with him.

I fight back tears.

I want to run to school and ask – no, beg – those kids to please not be so mean. Pease don’t be exclusive.

He is such a nice boy. Why on earth don’t they want to play with him?

Parenting is just plain hard.

At the same time, my older son announced to me that he has decided to run for student council president.

“Do you need help making your poster?” I ask.

No, he’s already done that.

As the time nears for the candidates to give speeches and the students to vote, he warns me that he doesn’t have much of a chance:

“So-and-so is running and he is much more popular than I am.”

“So-and-so is running and she is the only girl. All the girls will vote for her.”

Again, my heart breaks because I know how much he wants it and I can’t get it for him. There is absolutely nothing I can do.

He would be excellent at it, I know.

I ask if he needs help with his speech. I ask if he needs help with his campaign. But he informs me that he’s got it.

I cringe.

Not because I don’t believe him. I believe that he thinks he’s got it, but I’ve also seen him comb his hair in the morning. And he tells me that he’s got it when it’s sticking straight up right on top.

“It doesn’t matter anyhow. Nobody’s going to vote for me” he says.

And I want to cry.

I look at him and all I can see is my sweet toddler with blonde hair and chubby cheeks holding on to his blankie. I don’t care if he’s nearly a foot taller than I am. He’s still my baby and I hurt because he’s hurting.

He, too, feels alone.

I want to hold him on my lap and love on him.

I want to pick out a band-aid to cover the hole in his heart.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

If only parenting weren’t so stinkin’ hard!

But here’s the problem, folks…  God is still in control. As much as I love my kids, He loves them more.

It’s true that I want to hold them, care for them, and never let anything bad happen to them. What parent doesn’t?

But my children are people too.

God is just as much in control of their life as he is in mine. To think that I am in control of any of this is just plain pride on my part.

Sometimes I need reminders to peel my death-clinching-grip off of them and to place them safely in God’s hands.

All I can do is to point them to Christ.

And what if I was always able to fix things for them? Well, they would never know their need for Him. They would never have a desire or hunger for His Word. For His saving grace. They would never get to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding or the great depth of His love. They would never know Him.

And if I, as their parents, never showed them their need for Christ, if I never pointed them to Him, reminded them of His sovereignty, then I would have failed as a parent.

And so I pray. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray.

And I work on trusting Him with my children and rest in knowing they are securely in His hands. He is there all the time. I am not. I cannot.

And I find peace and comfort in that.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior” – 2 Samuel 22:2-3

And, in case you’re wondering, my son did get voted in as president. But I was reminded to trust Him again when a teacher sent me a text saying, “Your son just gave an awesome speech!”

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Everything Else Can Wait

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight as I lay down to snuggle with my son we visit for a few minutes before sleepiness comes sneaking in around him. I can see it in his eyes and feel it in him as I notice his body relaxing.

But my mind has jumped ahead. I’m wondering how much longer I need to lay here. Because if I try to get up too quickly, he’ll wake up. And there is a list a mile long of things I need to do:

Clean the windows.

Wash the dishes.

Wipe the counter.

Clear off the table.

Scrub the sink.

Pack my sons lunch for tomorrow.

Fold the blankets on the couch.

Put toys away.

Sweep and mop the floors.

Do the dusting.

The list goes on and on.

And when all that is done I need write another post for this blog, send a few emails, find a pair of pants that are long enough for my husband and order them, and send a couple thank you notes.

Without even thinking about it, I suddenly realize that I am becoming overwhelmed and I am still laying here with my son. My sweet, sweet, precious son. This is supposed to be a special time. A beloved time. A time just between the two of us and I’m not enjoying it at all because I’m too anxiously anticipating all that my evening will hold.

He is sleeping soundly by now.

I prop myself up on my elbow so I can watch him more closely. I love the way the dim light falls on his face. He really is a beautiful child. He lies there so peacefully, so calmly. I look at his long, dark eyelashes, his chubby cheeks, and his small hands. I watch his chest rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall.

And then, all of a sudden, it hit me…  It will not be like this forever.

There will be a time when his cheeks are no longer chubby and his hands aren’t quite so small. He won’t beg for me to stay just a little bit longer because he won’t desire that anymore. He will only be little for a little while.

There will be a time when the hours will no longer run quite so quickly out in the day. When I no longer struggle to find time to clean my house. When the house is quiet enough during the day that I can write all the blog posts that I need to. When I read a book during the day free of distractions and interruptions.

Yes, my house will probably be a little cleaner in a few years. The content of my blogs will be put together much better and more thought out. And I’ll be able to attend a few more Bible studies.

But my home will be empty of children.

And then I am reminded of Psalms 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Just moments before I had not been doing this. I was not rejoicing but allowing sin and selfish desires to overwhelm me. I had neglected to treasure this fleeting time with my son that was ordained by God. I had fallen into the temptation to trade it in for worry, anxiety, and anticipation.

No more!

I will cherish this time.

Big deal if the dusting doesn’t get done. Who really cares anyhow?

This blog can wait another hour or day to be written.

So I decide to take the time to rejoice in my day, in my moment. I stay a little longer, hold him a little tighter, and love a little longer. I choose to treasure the child that God has entrusted to me.

Everything else can wait.

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Because It’s A Special Time

 

“Mommy, are you ready to snuggle?”

Those are some of the sweetest words I will ever hear spoken. Since the time that each of my boys were very little, I’ve worked to establish the habit of taking time to snuggle with them, individually, as the go to bed for the night.

And it’s my favorite time of the day!

It’s the time when the secrets of the day are shared. It is the time when I get to hear about what is REALLY going on in their lives. This is a place where my boys feel safe enough to openly tell of their insecurities and concerns. There is a closeness and intimacy there that cannot be duplicated.

And I love this time.

But it’s better than that because they do too! That’s why they ask for it night after night.

And while I’m snuggling with my older son, my husband is reading books with our younger son. This is a special time just between the two of them. They cuddle together in their special spot, reading a pile of favorite books while they wait for me to come back up the stairs.

Because when I do, their time will be over and ours will be beginning.

Our son will give his daddy a good-night hug, and then I will lift him up and carry him into his room. We will spend some special moments together there, talking, laughing, crying, or whatever he needs. After a while, I will get up, kiss his forehead, and give him a final hug for the night.

I won’t come back until he’s asleep.

We have this routine for several reasons. First, I just like it and they do to. It is a special time just between us. It is not selfish to want to spend time with your children. They are a gift entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father. They are meant to be treasured and enjoyed.

Secondly, I want to spend time with them, individually. They, too, desire time alone with each of us. And as my older son grows and becomes involved in more activities, it is a reality that our time together is less and less.

And that brings me to my next reason, they will not always want me to snuggle with them. They are only little once. They are only little for a little while. And my oldest son is thirteen. I am dangerously close to being cut off from snuggle time. A time when he feels that he is too big to snuggle with his mommy every night. A time when he no longer desires it anymore. And also a time when we can’t do it simply because he is no longer living at home.

But the main reason I do this is because I want to hear about their day. I have an interest in their lives. I love them and care very, very deeply about them. I want to know what is going on with them. And not only because I care, but because I need to know how to pray for them.

So after they are asleep, I tip toe into their rooms. I am careful to not make a sound and wake them as I watch them sleep. They look so peaceful, so serene. I could watch them for hours. But that’s not why I go into their rooms. I go into their rooms, watch them sleep for a few moments before I place a hand on them, close my eyes, and begin to pray for each of them.

This is where I say my most intimate prayers. This is where I plead with the Lord for the salvation of my children. This is where I lift them and all their concerns up in prayer. This is where I praise Him for allowing me the awesome privilege of raising these two special boys. This is where I plead for wisdom that can only come from Him. This is where my lack of strength and His sovereignty is shown to me over and over again. This is where I place them in His hands.

I am not telling you this just to let you know of a routine in my house. For you to say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and go on with your day. I’m telling you this because I believe there is great value in interceding for our children. We ought to plead with the Lord for them. You love your child more than anyone else on earth. So if you don’t do it than who will?

As parents, it is our responsibility to shepherd our children. While it is true that we cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, that is open their heart to Christ, we must teach them, illustrate for them, and show them Who He is. We must also plead with the Lord on their behalf. None of our children were born with a guaranteed entrance into heaven. This is when I trust in His goodness and trust in His mercy. This is when I ask for His peace that passes all understanding. This is when I am reminded of my dependence upon Him. This is where I place my most precious gifts in His hands and remember that ONLY HE can save them.

Thank you, Dear Lord, that their salvation is not up to me or dependent upon my obedience. Because I would mess it up. Thank you for being the sovereign Lord that You are. Thank you for You love shown to us on the cross. Let me trust in You.

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Confessions of a Picky Eater

 

“I don’t like that!” Do you hear that sentence often at your house? If you have children, know children, have even heard only one child speak ever in your life, chances are that you have heard them make that statement.

Just this morning I heard a woman on the radio discussing the fact that her son won’t eat green beans. As a parent, you probably sympathize with her. Maybe it’s not green beans, but there are probably countless other things your child won’t touch. So you think “Most of them are not even that bad. There are a lot worse things that I could ask my child to eat rather than green beans.”

When I was a child, I was the one who was making those statements. I was the picky one of the family. The absolutely worst thing was onions. No way was I eating one! You could try to sneak one in all you want but I would find it. I didn’t want it touching my food, my plate, fork, spoon, cup, or anything else that I would have to touch. I didn’t even want to look at one. Yuck!

I distinctly remember a time when my dad had enough of my “fits” and decided I was going to eat one. He told me to eat it but I would not. He got up from the table, went outside and broke a limb off the tree. I knew what that meant: A hard and severe spanking was coming. As he walked in the door, I quickly picked up the onion, put it in my mouth and swallowed. I no more got it down when it came back up along with everything else I’d just eaten.  And it was all over the table! Now that is yuck!!!

Another time my mother had prepared something I did not like. The rule at my house was that if you took it, you ate it. Well, I was fine with not taking anything but my parents insisted that I must take something. But they did not leave me any choices; it was just that yucky thing my mom had made. I did take it because they told me I had to but I had no intention of eating it.  They told me I must sit at the table until I finished. I sat there the rest of the evening. Finally, it was time to go to bed. “Okay,” they said, “We are letting you get up so you can go to bed but you must eat this before you eat anything else.” The next day the same plate of food was placed in front of me but I would not eat. This went on for three more days before my parents finally gave up. I think they thought if I got hungry enough I would eat it.

Recently I was telling a friend about this and she said, “Gerri, are you that stubborn?” To me, it was not a question of who was more strongly willed. It was more the fact that in my eyes, if I did not like it I could not eat it. Period. End of story. It was like asking someone who is lactose intolerant to drink a gallon of milk. They cannot do it. I did not understand why my parent would even ask me to do such a thing. I really thought they were being extremely mean and cruel. I could not do it and they knew it!

It did not even dawn on me that maybe I still could eat things even if I didn’t like them until my early twenties. I was with a group of friends and we were going to order a pizza. I said, “I don’t like onions, olives, mushrooms, anchovies, or peppers.” And one of them replied, “You know, you might have to eat something that you don’t like once in a while.” Wow!  What a profound thought! The more I thought about it, the more I knew she was right. I could still eat things even if I didn’t like them. Did you catch, by the way, that I was in my early twenties?

As someone who is/was a picky eater, I can tell you that you probably are not going to change their minds and suddenly they are going to like it. Your child does not want to be picky. He/she does not enjoy being called “picky” or watching people roll their eyes at them.

Instead, try to understand why they do not want to eat something. Is it because of the taste, smell, texture, or the way it looks? Some of these things can be helped while some cannot. Some might just take maturity on the part of the child.

I still cannot manage to eat onions, lettuce, mushrooms, or olives without gagging. It is the texture of them that I just cannot stand. However, sometimes children don’t want to eat things because of the way they look. I recall not liking stuffing until I was a teenager and helping my mother prepare a meal. “That stuffing smells so good,” I thought. I tried to think of the last time I’d tried stuffing but my mind drew a blank. I just thought I didn’t like it because I thought it looked gross. Once I tasted it I realized what I had been missing out on all those years.

A friend of mine helped her child with this by keeping sprinkles on the table, just like salt and pepper, while her children were small. They would eat anything as long as it didn’t look gross.  Therefore, cover it up with sprinkles! My older son would eat green beans but only if he could dip them in ketchup first.

This is what I want you to know:  Your children are still children and reason as children. If you make them eat something they don’t like, they may mistakenly misinterpret it as you taking pleasure in watching them suffer.

Is your child healthy? Is he/she getting enough nutrition?  If the answer is no, then please consult your doctor. There may be more going on there than just a picky eater. But if the answer is yes, then please don’t force it. Your child does not want to be picky. Your child would love to eat everything sat before him without question. So why do you want to make him feel bad? That is not going to help him or you. So what if he won’t eat green beans? As long as he is growing and healthy, is it really a problem worth fighting? Chances are that if you give him a few years to mature and don’t constantly remind him that he doesn’t like it, he might actually forget that he doesn’t like it and try it one day.

You may be wondering if I got payback with my children.  And the answer is yes. My oldest son is like his father and will eat anything put before him whether he likes it or not. But unfortunately the younger is like me.

So how do I deal with it? At my house the rule is that you must try it. If you don’t like it then you don’t have to eat it. That’s not too bad is it? Just one bite? I would have even done that as a child if I knew my parents wouldn’t hound me about it anymore.

Last night we had bacon for supper. Our youngest son said, “I don’t like that,” pointing to the bacon. I broke off a small corner and asked him to try it. Once it was in his mouth, he looked up at me and smiled, “I like it! It’s so good!” He just thought he didn’t like it because of the way it looks.

But there are other times he will spit it out because it is so bad. “That’s okay. Thank you for trying it,” I say.

I don’t want to make him feel like he is somehow a “bad child” because of something his taste buds don’t like. The Lord has provided plenty of other foods that he does like, he is not malnourished, so I don’t see that it’s a problem that he does not eat the lima beans that we had for supper tonight. He did eat the meatloaf, corn, macaroni and cheese, and the apple sauce.  He’s healthy, he’s alright.  He’s just a child.

“But”, you may object, “It seems so ungrateful.” I completely understand. I’ve had to deal with this also and come to terms with it. Are you or your child in danger of starvation? Unless you answered positively to that question, you probably have other things within your house that your child does like to eat. Why not give him something he does like? He can still be thankful and grateful for the time you took to prepare it and the funds spent to supply it even if he doesn’t like it. Is someone else going to receive nourishment from it? Well thank and praise the Lord then!

 

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What Is The Best Gift To Give Your Child?

 

Five years ago I ate lunch at school with my then-seven year old son. All the boys sitting around us were talking about games they play on their Wii, short cuts, how to do this or how to do that. And my son and I sat and listened. Because we did not have a Wii.

It’s not that we couldn’t afford one, it’s just that I am not thrilled with the idea of video games. I have known too many kids who have become couch potatoes. Bound and determined that that was not going to happen to my son, we were not going to have any gaming system. Ever.

But as I sat listening, my heart broke for him. Socially, he was an outcast. He had no idea what all those kids were talking about because he had never played those games. He hadn’t even asked for a Wii because he knew how strongly I felt about them. And that broke my heart too.

That year for Christmas he and my husband received a Wii. And I was a hero. For a little while.  And life was great.

But a couple years later, a Wii was no longer cool. It was a PS3. And then the Xbox Kinect. And then something else. And then something else. And I just cannot keep up.

I cannot give him everything.

So what is a parent to do?

I have thought about this over and over and over again. Trends change. Desires change. What is cool today will not be cool tomorrow. What my son likes today he will no longer be interested in tomorrow. And I do not have an unlimited supply of funds.

So what is the best gift I can give him? What gift can I give him that will not become stale? Well, there is one thing I want my son to receive from his father and me, to know who Christ is. To understand the love poured out for him on the cross. To know his Creator. To understand the gift that money cannot buy.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about anyhow? One day my son, just like the rest of us, will perish. Two minutes after he dies, do you really think he will care one bit if he had a PS3 or not?

Suppose my husband and I were millionaires. Our children would want for nothing. We would be able to provide for them the best education at the most elite school. They would wear only the finest clothes and enjoy the finest dining known to man. We would go on very luxurious vacations all over the world. When our children turned sixteen, they would get to pick out their own car. Any one that they wanted. But if we did not share the gospel with them we would have neglected to give them the most vital gift to possibly receive. We would have failed as parents.

The Scriptures speak of this very thing. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36)

I grew up fairly poor, especially the first ten years of my life. I know there were things that my parents wanted to give us children that they just couldn’t afford. It had to have broken their heart. But that’s okay. Now, I really don’t care that I never received a Barbie Doll Dream House. My parents gave me something much more valuable: they introduced me to Christ. They talked about Him. We read Scripture together. We sang praises together. We worshipped together. They showed us how to live a Christian life. That is a gift that I will have through eternity. And the seed was planted by my parents.

I’m thankful that my parents did not just give me physical gifts. Gifts that can be stolen. Gifts that can rot. Gifts that mice will chew through. Gifts that will pass away.

My parents were not/are not perfect. They have made mistakes. If you know them, ask them. They will be the first to tell you that they fall way short. Yet, I cannot remember a time that I did not know who Christ was. As parents, I believe they did a marvelous job.

My parents are 100% stellar!

So I’m not going to worry about giving my son every single thing that he wants. True, I want to provide the best life possible to him. But the best life possible is not measured with dollar bills. It cannot be measured at all. And it’s not up to me anyhow. It’s up to the Lord. But there are a few things I can do to help…  Spend time in prayer for them. Plead with the Lord to do a work in their heart. Demonstrate grace, love, faithfulness, patience, forgiveness, and correction when necessary. Model Christ, always!

 

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Rules For Dating My Son

 

Have you noticed that girls seem to be chasing boys these days? Just this evening a girl asked my twelve year old son to be her boyfriend. Hello, he’s twelve years old! No twelve year old needs a boyfriend or girlfriend. But I do realize that some of these girls may make a fine wife for my son in some twenty or thirty years. So to help these girls out, I have compiled a list of rules for dating my son.

  1. My son does not have his own cell phone. Feel free to call him on mine. I should warn you that a customer service representative will be listening.
  2. You may talk with him at church. Bring your Bible.
  3. Do not touch my son. Do not even pick lint off his shirt. He can do that himself. You may only touch him if you are standing on the edge of a cliff, have lost your balance, are about to fall off, and he is the only person around. But I would prefer you to grab a tree instead.
  4. He cannot borrow my car for your date. He is only twelve. He has a bike. If you have a wagon and can attach it to his bike then you can ride in that.
  5. Here is a list of all the places approved for your date:
  6. I realize that it is popular to wear “Rihanna” styled clothing. My husband and I want to be open minded and fair about this. So you are free to show up in such clothing. Just please know that I may use a hot glue gun to properly affix it to your body. I may also attach more fabric to you.
  7. His uncle is the principal at school. If you pass him a note, his uncle will read it – for grammatical purposes of course.

Please know that my husband and I have been praying for this boy since before God gave him breath. We pray that if the Lord wills him to marry, that it is a Godly woman. So please chase Jesus first. Search His Word for direction in your life. Study it to learn how to be a Godly wife and what type of man to look for. Pray that the Lord brings a Godly man into your life. Seek out Godly women to watch, study from, and to be discipled by.

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What About Joseph?

 

I have been reading through the gospels recently and noticed something I’ve failed to see before. Isn’t it strange that Jesus would be put on trial, beaten until he no longer looks human, and crucified and there is no record of Joseph, His earthly father, being present? The Scriptures speak of Mary being there (John 19:25-27) but never Joseph. This strikes me as very odd. What parent would not be there to defend, protect, care for, and grieve for their child? But after a search in the Scriptures, the last time I can find Joseph’s presence mentioned is when Jesus is twelve years old. Their family makes a trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. On the way back His parents realize that Jesus is not with them, they were traveling as a group with several families, and make the trek back to Jerusalem for Him. When they find Him, He is teaching in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). After this incident, Joseph is never mentioned again.  Does this seem strange to anyone else? All the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, speak of Mary being active throughout the Jesus’ adult life, but none speak of Joseph past this point.

We know that Joseph was a righteous man because…

  1. God chose him to be Jesus’ earthly father.
  2. When he found out Mary was pregnant he could have divorced her and he had planned to do so. But when the Lord told him not to, he obeyed (Matt 1:18-25).

We also know that Joseph was a protector because…

  1. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him of Herod’s plan to kill baby Jesus, immediately their small family fled to Egypt (Matt 2:13-15). They stayed in Egypt until after Herod died (Matt 2:19-21).
  2. When they were on their way back from Egypt, Joseph found out that Herod’s son had taken his father’s place. Joseph took his family to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, instead (Matt 2:22-23).

With all that said, I don’t believe that one could draw the conclusion that Joseph was a poor father or had possibly abandoned them. It appears that he was a wonderful and devoted father.

All this leads me to one conclusion…  Sometime after Jesus was twelve years old, but before He began His ministry, Joseph passed away. This means that for at least part of His life Jesus was raised in a single parent household. This also means He probably had many more responsibilities, including caring for His younger brothers and sisters.

If you have been raised for at least part of your life in a single parent home, as I was, this should be of great comfort to you. He truly understands the loneliness. He understands the tear you feel inside of you. He understands the desire for the other parent. All the times you want to see them, touch them, hear their voice, receive their instruction, but you can’t. He understands that kind of hurt and pain.

While Jesus Himself never had children, He did have younger brothers and sisters that He most definitely helped care for. And by the time Joseph would have passed, Jesus would have been old enough to have some fatherly instincts kick in. Imagine the huge responsibility He must have felt for them. He must have helped wipe tears away (remember they had lost their father too) and comfort them in the night. He probably helped clean up a few scraped knees and elbows and took care of them when they were sick. Maybe even walked them to school and home again. We know that Joseph was a carpenter, he taught Jesus, and Jesus probably taught his brothers what Joseph had taught Him. I do believe that Jesus understands what it is like to be a parent. I believe He understands that deep love, sense of protection, and self sacrifice that a parent has for their child.

If you have experienced a loss, Jesus experienced a deep loss too. We know that Jesus mourned because the Scriptures record Him weeping at the tomb of his good friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). But undoubtedly the loss of a father would be more severe than the loss of a friend, especially at a younger and tenderer age. Although it is true that Jesus must have had much more of a realization that either you or I ever will about where His loved one was or the unity that they would experience again, He still must have grieved. He had to have mourned. He must have had many sleepless nights. He must have hurt very much and not just for Himself, but for His mother, brothers, and sisters as well.

If you are a single parent, take heart, this is of great encouragement! He understands the daily struggles and challenges that you go through. He watched his own mother go through them too. Do you ever worry if your child is going to be okay with only one parent in the home? The greatest man of all times lived part of His life with only one parent. There is no better example of a man than Him. He is what we all want our children to imitate. Can we even begin to list all His great qualities? How about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22), just to name a few!

To me, this has changed part of my view of Christ. Somehow, he seems even more human, more realistic. And isn’t this just like the Father? If Jesus is our intercessor, He needs to understand all our needs and all our trials. This is why it is so important that Christ came as a man. So He understands our need for nourishment, our limitations with energy and the need for rest, and the daily trials we go through. We go through losses. We feel extreme pressure.  We struggle and face challenge daily. With removing Joseph from Jesus’ life, He was made more aware of more struggles that we face. He knew what it was like to lose someone you love very much. He knew what it was like to have parental love and to miss it too. He knew, from watching his own mother, what it was like to raise children as a single parent. Wow! I am never ceased to be amazed at the thoroughness of our Lord.

 

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Please Don’t Judge My Parenting, Part 2: The Sisterhood We Can Have In Christ

Generally speaking, women are not kind to one another. I know that sounds judgmental, but it is true. Women are mean. We are gossips. We are spiteful. We compete with one another. Anyone who has ever spoken to a woman about another woman knows this to be true. But what grieves me is when I see this type of behavior making its way into the church.

Often times we divide ourselves over petty differences, like parenting styles or lifestyle choices. It seems that we would rather throw a dirty look across a room rather than walk over to our sister in Christ and humbly share God’s wisdom with her. For some reason we like our divisions. We feel comfortable in them. And it makes us feel powerful if we are able to influence another woman’s choices.

Yet, we are called to bear with one another, love one another, and forgive one another just as God has forgiven us (Colossians 3:12-13). This is what it looks like to love one another with the distinct love that marks us as followers of Jesus (John 13:35).  Remember, that Jesus died to save our sisters too. When we treasure them, just as Christ does, it honors Him.

Our hearts have been knit together through the pouring of Christ’s blood (Colossians 2:2). We share a bond that can run much deeper than any denomination, ethnicities, shared interest, or political views.  We share a type of fellowship that is unique to us. What other group of sisters share a Father that sacrificed His Son for them? I believe that is a bond that makes all other differences fail in comparison.

Take a moment to think about Christian ideals and virtues. What woman doesn’t want to have more patience? Or to be more compassionate? The truth is that we need other women in our lives to teach us and remind us of the great depths of the love of Christ. Taking our spiritual life away from other Christian ladies is unhelpful and can even be spiritually damaging. When we would rather visit with our friends about worldly concerns and completely avoid the horizons of eternity, we are not doing them or ourselves any favors.

I am saying that we ought to seek advice from other women. I do feel that God has given them to us as a gift and we ought to utilize their wisdom. But if that is all we do, then we are missing out on some great blessings and wisdom. Our relationships can be so much more than that. We are knit together with the deepest level of community that is possible here on earth, thanks to Christ. We are all seeking to grow in Christ. We need to encourage, teach, love, and gently rebuke when necessary so we each may learn from one another.

We share in one God, being unified with the same heart, serving and loving one another, praying for each other’s needs, and together we are discipling our children to love Christ. All of us desire to be the best helpmates possible for our husbands. By God’s grace, we are able to put off the old self, which makes us want to be a know-it-all over other women, and move us towards holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24). This is when we put away our pride and speak truth to one another, because we are members of the same body. We don’t hold grudges against one another. That is Satan’s wrecking ball, loving to cause division. Instead, let us speak words to one another that are good for giving grace and the building up of the saints. Let’s be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving just as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:25-32).  And in all situations, grant grace!

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Please Don’t Judge My Parenting

 

 

When my oldest son was just a couple months old we found out he had an abnormality with his skull. Thankfully, it was completely correctable. But to be corrected, we had to be very diligent with exercises. We also had to make sure his head tilted a certain way when he slept. The only way to do this was to have him sleep with us.

I kept him in the crook of my arm as all three of us, my husband, our baby, and I shared a bed together. No, it was not very comfortable for me to sleep with my arm straight out, have a ten pound weight resting on it, and not to be able to move it but there was no other choice. I cannot just sit and watch him sleep all the time and readjust his head every time he moved. If he slept on my arm and moved in the night, his movement would wake me so that I could make the adjustment right then and there. And I could get some sleep too!

However, this opened the door to co-sleeping (which can be safely done, by the way). To be completely honest I wanted him to sleep with us from the time he was born. I just enjoyed the closeness that it provided.

Once he began sleeping with us, the trend continued. I heard from family, friends, people I went to church with and even pediatricians, “It sets a bad precedent. They’ll never sleep well.  It doesn’t set boundaries. It will spoil them.”

Yet, this was one of our favorite times of the day. I did not want to give it up and neither did my husband or son. We enjoyed beginning and ending our day together as a family. So I had to wonder, is cuddling with your children until they fall asleep such a bad thing?

We had listened to all the advice others had to give us and thought there must be something to it. We got our son’s bed all ready to go and got him in it. But it was miserable. None of us were happy. Our son cried for us. We missed him. So after a few nights we decided to bring him back in with us. And it was lovely!

The reason I’m telling you this is because I do not believe there is one perfect parenting solution on any subject. Go to a book store and check out the parenting books. There are thousands of them written on every situation you possibly think of. Still, I don’t know that there is one parenting book out there that is perfect for every family in every circumstance.

I’m not saying that all parenting books are bad. Quite the contrary. I think there is a lot of wisdom that has been recorded by those who have gone before us. Those can be a wonderful tool. However, I am very leery of advice that gives an “If… then…” statement.

According to those we had talked with, we would all sleep better and be much happier in the long run if our son slept in his own bed. We did not find this to be true. Why? Most of the people who gave us that advice were going off of their own experiences. And there is nothing wrong with that. But my family is not like theirs. God created us each as individuals. We are each unique. I am a different mother, my husband is a different father, and our son is a different child. He is now twelve years old and I STILL do not see anything wrong with the fact that he slept with us when he was small. And guess what? He even falls asleep on his own, in his own bed, and sleeps well.

While I certainly enjoyed co-sleeping and feel that there were many positives to it (which I am not going to write about right now), no way would I recommend this for everyone. My own mother could never sleep well if her children were in bed with her. Does that make her a bad mother? Of course not! It just means that she is a different person or different type of mother than me. So if I write a blog or book stating that this is the best way to sleep and if you just sleep like this then you’ll have the perfect relationship with your child, how would that make a mother like her feel? She may try it. Night after night she goes to bed with husband and children yet cannot sleep. She feels crowded. She feels like she is suffocating. She is more tired during the day. She now has less patience. She misses the intimacy with her husband. And for what? Because she felt like if she didn’t do it like this then she would be a bad mom?

I have some friends who homeschool and could write a book on how wonderful it is. I have other friends who private school and believe it is the best option. And still, I have other friends who public school and could go on and on about how great it is.

One mother may have home birthed and felt so positive about it that she feels like it is the best option. But another woman may not want to. She may feel more secure in a hospital where doctors and nurses will be close at hand for the next couple of days.

And we could go on and on with this list. But is one option really better than another? Well, yes. One may be the right choice for one family while alternative may be the better option a different family. So why do we judge others and make them feel bad if they don’t do something just like us? We each want the best for our families and make choices that we feel are the best fit for them.

This is my point: God is so creative that no two people are just alike. You can drive yourself crazy researching what parenting style you want to practice for this or that and weighing out the projected outcomes of each. But I don’t know that you really need to do that. The best option is to simply pray for wisdom from the Lord (1 Cor 2:13, James 1:5). Consider what is it that you want to do and what is the best fit for your family? Ultimately, it is YOUR decision how YOU want to parent. But after you decide, it may be wise to receive council from others or perhaps a book on how to proceed.  But please do not let others decide what is best for you!

However, I do feel that I should extend a warning here. Even though you have your heart set on parenting a certain way, it may not work for you or your family. I have talked with many different mothers who desperately wanted to nurse their children. But for whatever reason, they were not producing enough milk and their babies were suffering. Sometimes supplementing with formula was necessary and sometimes a complete switch was required. And with these changes, the mother often feels like she has failed as a mother.  Maybe this came from pressure/judgment from other mothers. But often we put this pressure on ourselves. We get our hearts set on “I really want to do this!” And when it doesn’t work out, we’re crushed. But to keep nursing when your baby is hungry may not be a wise choice for your family.

As I’m sure you can tell, I am all for you making the decision for yourself of how you want to parent. But please remain flexible enough that if for some reason it isn’t working out that you are willing to try something else. Whatever choice you make, it is important to make the best decision for your family. It is not up to your sister, mother-in-law, pediatrician, or anyone else. While they may be able to offer good advice, nobody knows your family dynamics like you. You are the expert here!

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Faithful Sacraficing Fathers

 

A lot of people dote on mothers for the sacrifices they make. And truly, they do. I know because I am a mother. I gave up a career to stay home with my children. I give up things I want and time to myself for the sake of my children. And that’s okay. That is what I feel I need to do to be the mother that God has called me to be.

But what about Fathers? Don’t they make sacrifices too?

Absolutely!

When I first met my husband, I was astounded by the volumes of sports one person could fit into his life. Nearly every day he would be watching a game somewhere and then that night he would watch another game somewhere else. And that one game he would be at would not be enough. Oh no! He would also have to take a long a small radio so he could listen to an addition game(s) taking place at another location. He has even been known to drive two hours away just to be in range of a radio station that would be broadcasting a high school game that he was interested in. And I have not even mentioned the time he spent playing sports. To me, this was unbelievable! I thought sports ruled too much of his life. And maybe they did. But he enjoyed them and did not have any other commitments. So is this really that much different than me spending all that time reading, shopping, or wasting time surfing the net?

My husband still enjoys sports a great deal but they no longer consume his life. Why? What changed? The answer is simple, yet can be complex — he got married, had children, came to know Christ, and desired to be an imitator of our Heavenly Father.

Because he loves the children and me he may have given up some sports. But we were not responsible for the change in his life. That would be God our Father. And God is a perfect Father. He disciplines as needed. He loves and shows grace when needed. His timing is always perfect. He always has patience. He always supplies for our needs. And so Fathers, who is it that you should look at to learn how to be a good Father? That’s right, our Heavenly Father.

And does that mean that you must put away selfish desires? Does that mean that you must make some sacrifices for your family? Well, yes it does. To learn how to be a good Father, you must study the Father. This means studying His Word, maybe learning catechisms, and perhaps spending time studying together with a brother in Christ. This might mean that you are spending time preparing for a family study. This might also mean that you are spending more time on your knees praying for guidance, wisdom, and mercy.

Men, you have been called to be leaders of the family. That is no small thing. And behalf of women everywhere, I want to say, “Thank you for doing this.” I am glad it is not my job! Your significance as head of the family is enormous. And I know that you must feel the weight of this calling. But again, look to our Heavenly Father. Look at how He faithfully led the children of Israel even through their rebelling and idol worship. Look at how He continues to lead us even today. After all, we still go through times of rebellion and idol worship (because let’s face it, our hearts are idol factories).

I understand the burden of this tall order. But men, there are some things that God just created you to be able to handle better than women. And why is this? Because we, ladies,  are the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7). We draw strength from you. We also feel very cared for and loved when we see you handling situations that seem overwhelming to us.

There will be times that you will fail. There will be times you won’t want to lead. You won’t always make the perfect decision. And that’s okay. You will not be perfect on this side of grace.  We don’t expect you to be perfect. It only makes you human, just like us. That reminds us that you need grace too.

As the case with my husband, he still enjoys sports. And I still think he is a sports nut. But the way he enjoys them has changed quite bit. Right now, he enjoys watching and coaching our older son in baseball, basketball, and soccer. He enjoys playing football with both of them in the yard. He takes pleasure in taking them to watch the local baseball team’s home games. A few years ago, he was asked to be the announcer for our local high school football games. He gladly accepted. And he takes our son with him.

And I love, yes love, watching all these things. I love the way he shares his passion of sports with our children. I love that he does not put sports ahead of our family. If our family cannot participate in it, he doesn’t do it. This is the man that God has called him to be, and I love it!

 

To Fathers everywhere, Happy Father’s Day. And thank you for being faithful to God’s Word and the sacrifices that you make daily!

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