Top 10 Tips for Parents of Teen Boys!

15304392_10154486145241130_4933238415767947997_oHow many times have you heard “Oh, you have teenagers! I’m so sorry” or “The teenage years are so hard—I’ll be praying!” I’m sure you could give many examples of comments and advice you’ve received from those who have gone before.

We currently have two teenagers in our home and two kids fast approaching the teen years. In looking back and remembering some of the things I read and heard about teenagers, I guess I always expected my kids to go to bed on their twelfth birthdays the sweet, loving, carefree children I had known to that point and wake up on their thirteenth birthdays acne-filled, moody, rebellious semi-adults I didn’t know anymore.

So for all of you naysayers and fearful parents of preteens, let me lay down some truth: I love the teenage years! In fact, I think this is my favorite stage of raising kids so far. Yes, my teenagers can be a little unpredictable, moody, spacey, and a little sassy at times, but I love it all.

What I am witnessing before me is God growing my boys into the men He has called them to be. The mood swings, unpredictability, and sass does not compare to the fun, laughs, deep life conversations, and growth that are taking place in our family. It also doesn’t hurt to have big muscles developing and practical help around the house!

People often ask me our secret to raising well-mannered, sweet teens who love God. My first answer is, “We are very blessed!” We gave our children to the Lord when they were born, and we understand that they do not belong to us but are gifts given to us for a time. What a huge responsibility God has entrusted us with. Because of that, my husband and I pray individually with our children every night. There are two things we want our kids fall asleep with: first, the knowledge that God hears their requests, and second, that their parents love them and are concerned with their thoughts and needs. I believe God is blessing our investment. He promised He would.

But on a practical note, there are some things we have learned along the way to help us and our kids navigate the teen years. Here are my top ten!

1. Never forget, you are the parent, they are the child! We need to behave like parents, not children! The teen years come with a number of frustrations. As parents, we are pushed and challenged on a regular basis. Oftentimes we are met with grumpiness, sour moods, and silence. It is easy to take these things personally and react rather than respond. Reacting is quick, sharp, and defensive. Reacting typically results in a negative exchange, which in turn causes a teen to shut down and walk away angry. Instead, respond. Take a second, pray, then speak. Now, we cannot give our teens a pass for a bad attitude or a disrespectful tone. Teens have to learn to control their emotions, even when it’s difficult. That’s life. Our job is to teach them how. The most effective way is through our example. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” is not and should never be a part of the conversation, ever! If we don’t respond in a godly, respectful, and reasonable way, how can we expect the same of our kids?

2. Don’t nag! This is a lot easier said than done. However, if we can back off on the little things that really don’t matter and pick our battles, so to speak, our teens will learn to relax, let down their guards, and be more willing to open up. If they know they won’t get barraged with advice every time they speak to us, they will be a lot more willing to not just listen but actually hear what we say when it really matters. Let your teens know what your expectations are, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

3. Never stop telling them you love them! Even on the bad days. Even when it seems awkward. The last thing all my kids hear before they close their eyes at the end of the day is “I love you.” Our love is not conditional. It does not depend on performance or behavior. Our children should know without a shadow of a doubt that they may not always have our approval, but they will always have our love.

4. Never give them space and hug them often! This is so important in the teen years and something I think we get so wrong most of the time. Yes, our teens need to accept responsibility. Yes, they need to learn independence. Yes, they need room to grow into adults. However, our job is to help them, shape them, support them, and keep them accountable—not move away from them so they can figure it out alone. I make it a point to ask my boys what’s going on in their hearts and minds. I monitor what they watch and look at online. I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to be able to pray for them where they are and help them make wise and godly decisions. My goal is to point them to Jesus in all things.

5. Be their parent, not their friend! Sometimes our teens aren’t going to like this. Sometimes they will see us as the enemy. That’s okay. Scripture calls parents to provide, to discipline, to teach their children. Proverbs 22:15 tells us that foolishness is bound up in the hearts of children. We have a great responsibility before God to shepherd our children, to teach them by using our wisdom and God’s Word. As parents, we will stand before God one day to give an account for how we stewarded that which He gave us. May He say, “Well done.”

6. Teach them to work hard, and teach them to serve. “When we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, NIV). Our children’s generation is quickly becoming the laziest and most entitled generation of our time. Hard work has been replaced by device time. Learning practical life skills in school has been replaced by meaningless busy work. If our children do not grab the concept of work for reward, the future of our society will not look good. Work together as a family. A family is a team. Accomplishment is a great reward for teens, and our appreciation and recognition of them shows that we value their time and efforts. In our selfish world it is so hard to teach “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, NIV). Our teens can be pretty self-focused, and at times it seems that they believe the whole world revolves around them. However, if they are taught to give, to serve with their time, to help at home, then that will naturally translate to the outside world. Once they understand that the family doesn’t work as well without their participation, they will be able to understand it in the bigger picture of their community, church, school, and world.

7. Talk to them. Put down the device, and make them do the same. Gather around the table for dinner—no phones allowed. Contrary to popular belief, teens really do like to

talk, and they want to know that we are interested in what they have to say. Give them an opportunity to have a voice, to offer their thoughts and opinions about various subjects. You will be surprised at their insight and blessed by the time spent with your teens.

8. Give them responsibilities, and allow them to follow through. Do not come behind to fix what they’ve done. Accept the imperfect. What we are building in our teens is so much more valuable than the results we may prefer. Give them a chance to get things done. Trust them to follow through with what you’ve asked of them.

9. Let them be kids! For the most part, teens like to be considered adults. I find that my oldest would often rather sit and chat with the adults than be outside playing. Unless it playing involves basketball! However, there will be times when our teens will be silly, goofy, playful, and extremely immature. I am delighted when I see this side of my teens. It’s fun to watch them throw caution to the wind and not be bothered by the opinions of others or feel the need to be cool. They are still kids. We would do well to join them in their silliness on occasion. Too much adulting is unhealthy for anybody!

10. Never be too proud to say you are sorry! I know it’s not fun to admit, but as parents we often blow it. Apologizing and asking forgiveness does not just apply to the adults in our lives. Apologizing to our children does not mean we lose our parental position. It shows them that we are human, sinners, in need of grace, just like they are. Humbling ourselves is part of life, and admitting we’re wrong is part of life. Get over yourself, and do it!

My husband and I are not done raising our teens yet. We have a ways to go. However, I am thankful that God has given us everything we need in His Word to raise them well. He is willing and able to pour out wisdom and grace when we need it if we take the time to ask Him. On the days when I feel inadequate, I ask God for strength. And the times when I am out of patience, I ask for an increased measure of grace. For those occasions when I mess up and fail, I humble myself, ask forgiveness, and move on.

I leave you with this: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20–21, NASB).

Dear Christian Parents…..

Dear Christian Parents,

I am writing to you today as someone who was raised by Christian parents. I actually grew up a Preachers Kid or PK as we are often affectionately called. My home life was loving, adventurous, strict, but kind. I was in church whenever the doors were open, and I was introduced to some of the best people on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being in church, the people became family, and for that I am truely grateful. I am now a Christian parent myself, and I feel compelled to address some things that we may have never considered, purely because we are ‘Christian Parents’.

One of the greatest tragedies in the church today is that parents make way too many assumptions about their children. You assume that because you have raised them in church; because you taught them Bible verses, and how to sing Jesus Loves Me; because you taught them right from wrong, that somehow they are all good. “They are Christians, they are going to heaven.” “Of course they love Jesus!” you say. But are they? Do they?

So, while I do give you credit for doing the right thing, for raising your children in the knowledge of God and His Word, I’m sorry to tell you that all you may have accomplished, is successfully Christianizing your children.

This all sounds a little harsh you say. Well, yes, it is. However, I come to you from a place of experience. You see I was a ‘Christianized’ kid. I knew all the right things to say and do. I knew how to act in church. My parents did all the right things. Even so, I was exactly the person the Lord addressed in Isaiah 29:13 “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” It wasn’t until I was confronted with the fact that I wasn’t going to heaven on my parents coat tails, and was faced with the truth of being a sinner who needed a Savior, that I finally reached out to the Lord for myself, and started to grow my OWN relationship with Christ. You see if your child’s relationship is not his or her own, it has no value.

Unfortunately, kids that were raised in church are leaving at an alarming rate when they reach their teen years and into adulthood. Young people are engaging in ungodly behavior and living like the world. Why? Because their relationship with God is just a bunch of head knowledge. As parents it is imperative that we see our children as lost souls. Souls that need Jesus. Please do not assume that because you have ‘good’ kids that they are ‘saved’ kids.

I pray for my children every day. I disciple them, I teach them, I speak into them the truth from God’s Word. However, I understand that the choice to follow Christ has to come from their own decision, and their walk has to belong to them. That is out of our control.

As the culture seeks to pull at our kids, WE have to make the choice as parents to live a called out life. To have families that are different from the norm. Our children need to see us as ‘set apart’. They will follow our example more than our instruction.

It starts with YOU, with ME. Do our own hearts line up with the words we speak? Are we speaking truth into our children, and living that truth out before them? As a ‘Christian parent’ I pray that I would be able to live in reality. No longer assuming that all is well. That we would raise world changers, not lukewarm pew warmers. That we would see the revival we so desperately need in our churches and in the lives of the people in them. May it start with me and my family.

“Lord, help us as parents to see our children as lives needing you. Not just as heads to fill with knowledge, but hearts to speak into and lives to shape. Help us to be honest with them about their need for You. I pray we would be examples of people that desire You in every area of our lives. Thank you for blessing us with children. May we raise them well.” – Amen

 

 

Beware…This is Coming For Your Family!

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3,564,591,201 Can you guess what this number might be?

This number, is the number of internet searches for pornography since the beginning of 2015. As I put the digits into this post, the numbers continued to climb on my phone beside me, I can’t keep up.

Over the years we have seen many prominent members of the Christian Community exposed for their involvement in pornography and adultery. Lives lived in darkness brought out into the light. Many of us were truly saddened, we were disappointed, disgusted. Unfortunately, many stood in pious judgment, almost enjoying being a spectator of someone else’s demise.

It has been a reminder to me, that Satan really does prowl around like a lion seeking whom he may devour.  Even so, I also know that God will not be mocked. He will not allow His people, to on one hand proclaim Him, while on the other live in sin. It’s time to face it! Pornography is no longer the dirty little secret that hangs out in the back room of a seedy store. It is no longer just subject matter for the frat house, or boys locker room. It is HERE. In OUR homes, in our PURSES, at our DESKS, in our SCHOOLS, in our BACK POCKETS. It is as easy to access as our favorite recipe blog. It’s free, available and it’s not going away. The statistics are staggering.

  • 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch pornography at least once a month.
  • 51% of pastors say internet pornography is a temptation
  • 1 in 5 mobile internet searches are for pornography.
  • 24% of smart phone owners admit to having pornographic material on their device
  • 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before they are 18. Most are exposed by age 12. Many are exposed at church youth group.

I could go on. The statistics only get more heartbreaking. So, as Christians, what do we do?

It’s an easy thing to push aside uncomfortable subjects within the church. We hope to keep inappropriate things outside of our four walls. However, as the church becomes more compromised, and Christians become weaker in their faith, these issues have to be addressed. To be completely honest, I am tired of the devil gaining ground and God’s people not engaging in battle. I am over sin being called addiction or a sickness. It’s SIN, people!!

But there is good news! God has given us everything we need in His word,  to defeat the schemes of the enemy. There is nothing that we can be tempted by, that Jesus did not endure. “Well, He was God!” you say. Yes, He was. But He was God in the flesh, a man. He was open and vulnerable to everything that we are faced with today. He provided a way for us to flee temptation and overcome sin. It’s our CHOICE as to whether we take the way out or not.

So, you may be reading this and be thinking to yourself. “It’s easy for HER to say! She’s never dealt with this.” “People get sucked in by accident!” “It’s the devil’s fault!” “It’s an addiction!” “She doesn’t understand how hard it is!”

No, I’ve never had to deal with this issue personally. But I’ve walked with many that have. As God’s people, we need to STOP putting the blame for sin on others. We each have a CHOICE, a free will.

To the MEN:

It is a CHOICE to type those words into the Google search bar. It is a CHOICE to open that email. It is a CHOICE to click on those pictures. It is a CHOICE to look with lust at the woman walking by you on the street. It is a CHOICE to flirt with the co-worker in the office. It is a CHOICE to watch an inappropriate TV show or movie. I could go on. In all of this, there is a common thread. CHOICE.

The amazing thing is, is that God gives us the greatest CHOICE. His Word. When Jesus was confronted with temptation. He used scripture to fight. God’s promises are for us TODAY! Ephesians 6:17 gives us clear instruction to put on the helmet of salvation. Guys, a helmet is not attractive, or fashionable! We use a helmet for a practical reason. The helmet protects the mind from wicked and corrupt thoughts and schemes. Once again, it is a CHOICE to pick it up and put it on. God has provided. You have to do your part. Once your helmet is securely in place. DO WHAT SCRIPTURE TELLS YOU TO DO!!! FLEE!! We are never instructed to fight temptation. We are to RUN!

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

2 Timothy 2:22 “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Men, for the sake of your wives, children or future wives and children. Do not let the devil steal your future. Put on the helmet and FLEE!

To the Ladies:

Yes, I’m addressing you too! Even though we tend to think that this is a ‘male problem’ we as women are not off the hook. I am not out to purposefully offend or ruffle feathers, but if I do that in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Before I get attacked for blaming women for men’s failings, I want to say this. We are not responsible for the sin of others. Men and women make their own individual choices. Their sin is their own. HOWEVER! We are called to be responsible to each other as believers.

Galatians 6:1-3 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

We are to bear one another’s burdens, not just physically, but spiritually. So, while we aren’t directly responsible for the choices of others, we are responsible to help in bearing their struggles. We are to do everything in our power to not aide in the falling of our brothers and sisters.

1Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

This doesn’t only apply to food and drink. It applies to anything that may cause someone else to stumble.

So, ladies. In short, this is what I ask. Please keep your short skirts, and low hanging tops at home for your husband. The only boobs and backside my husband should be seeing are mine!

Secondly, I find it quite alarming how many women within the church, are exposing themselves to what the world sees as reality when it comes to marriage. We are bombarded by Fifty Shades of Gray style books, Bad Mom movies, and we seldom blink an eye. We enjoy the escape from our boring, humdrum lives. For a moment we are able to leave to demands of house and home and be transported into someone else’s world. We are allowed for a short time to let our hair down, and laugh at those things we’ve been feeling or wanting to say for years. The problem is, (other than the fact that they are completely wrong, distorted and against what God created marriage and motherhood to be), they are leading women into a sense of dissolution with their own families. Visions of ‘life on the edge’, cloud our minds and fills them with falsehoods. Husbands are no longer enough, we long for something daring and freeing. Eventually women find themselves in a place of detachment and discontent. Stop buying in to the fantasy.

Ladies, fix your eyes on things above! Be thankful for the call that God has placed on you as wives and mothers. Find your contentment in HIM! Ultimately, God is the only one able to squash the desires for things outside of your marriage that are not good. Once again, we have a CHOICE. A choice, that even when we don’t fell like it we LOVE our husbands anyway. Even when we don’t want to, we are patient and nurturing to our children anyway. Please ladies, fall in love with God’s plan for you. It is good and right and will result in blessing.

To the Parents:

I want to finish this post by addressing parents.

Our children are in the middle of a battle. A battle for their souls. As their parents, we are responsible for them! That’s HUGE. We can no longer stand back from our teenagers and give them their space. They need you now more than ever.

If you want children that serve God, you have to spend the time teaching them how. You can not give them a phone, laptop, tablet or any other device, and not expect them to discover pornography. Whether intentionally or by accident, it is a click away. They will find it, and it will pull them in. Please take the time to check your children’s devices. My children know not to expect any privacy when it comes to their online activity. I check their texts, their  device history, and question them often on their viewing habits. We TALK! My kids know they can trust my me and my husband as their parents. Do not let anger with behavior cloud the bigger picture. If your children think you are angry, they will hide. Hide their activities, and their hearts. Ask the Lord how you are to respond. Go to scripture with your children, show them what God says. Pray with them. Hold them accountable. Love them.

It has taken me an hour to write this post. The pornography hit counter is now at 3,565,319,907 and counting. It’s time to step up, stop making excuses for sin, cast aside those things that hinder us, and be the Christian (Christ Ones) God has called us to be.

Lord, help us to be your followers. To be blameless in Your site. Strengthen us for the fight ahead. Help us to stand on truth and not believe the lies fed to us by the enemy. We are YOURS, help us to live like we believe it! – AMEN

Cease Striving, Precious Mom

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Motherhood is the greatest job on the planet. It is also the hardest. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining. Filled with sadness, joy, triumphs, losses, anger, frustration, laughter and wonder. Even with all of the great emotions motherhood brings, we, as mothers, still find ourselves feeling unworthy, like failures, and sometimes without purpose.  Motherhood is the most varied, exciting job, it can also be the most boring, I guess it just depends on the day! Motherhood is full of  REALLY crazy days, dealing with  tantrums, attitudes, dirty diapers, fingerprinted walls and messy floors. Feeling fat, frumpy and ugly. 

The reality is this; motherhood is a journey. A long journey that takes you up mountains, through valleys, down the rapids, and sometimes, very occasionally let’s you relax on life’s beach. Regardless of where it takes us, it is one of the most rewarding and gratifying journeys you could take.

You have to experience motherhood before you can truly understand the God given, deep, protective instinct that is within each of us. The mother bear awakens and she will never go back to sleep. We are strong, brave and will do anything to shield our babies. But even so, we still feel like we are not enough. But listen up Mom! I have great news! NOBODY has it all together all of the time. In fact NOBODY has it together MOST of the time. We will NEVER be enough. Doesn’t that kinda take the pressure off?!

Society has placed us under so much pressure to succeed in the career of motherhood, that we often set the bar too high and then have a hard time forgiving ourselves when we fail to reach it. If we work outside of the home, we try to justify why it’s necessary. If we stay home we have to prove that we are perfect and get everything on the list done so we can justify our not financially contributing to the family. Here’s the real problem! We ALLOW society to decide what a ‘good mother’ looks like. We try to meet the requirements our culture has set, in order for us to feel good about our motherhood, when really we should be looking to JESUS. What does He require of us? It’s pretty basic.

He requires this:

  • That we love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • Teach our children His ways. Deuteronomy 6:5-11 
  • That we commit our ways to Him. Proverbs 16:3

In return He promises this:

  • He will give us rest, peace and wisdom & satisfaction
  • We will succeed.

What else do we really need? We need rest when times are crazy, we need peace when our nerves are shot, we need wisdom when our children are driving us crazy, and we need to feel satisfied that we are doing well. Why do we put ourselves under so much pressure to be perfect?

I know many of you may relate to the things written here. Outwardly you are successful in keeping up the appearance of togetherness and perfection, but inwardly you are crying out for someone to rescue you from the constant demands of your children and families. You constantly fail to live up to the expectations you have set for yourself. This is for those of you who are afraid to make your struggle known.  The Lord is saying to you, precious mom, “CEASE STRIVING! You are NOT alone.” God’s Word is full of wisdom and guidance, of knowledge and instruction. If we could only learn to cling to and hold on to His promises. His requirements are few, and His rewards are many.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all you (precious moms) who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

“Lord, help us as mothers, to come to You daily. Help us to look upon our children, not as projects or pests, but as souls given to us to raise in the knowledge of You. Help us to rest in your promise that you are there to carry our burdens and struggles. May we look to You for our value, and not allow society to steal the joy we should have in our children” – Amen

Whatever!

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My heart is stirred by these words. As I sit and consider the things I spend my time thinking about, pondering, dwelling on.  Is God pleased? Is He comfortable in my thoughts?

As I examine my own heart, I also have to question myself regarding my children. What do I allow and encourage THEM to dwell on? What do I permit them to listen to or to watch?

Matthew 6:22 says “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

As a mother I have to ask the question, am I being the covering for their minds that God has called me to be? Am I being a blinder for their eyes when it’s necessary? The minds of our children can either be a place where the Holy Spirit resides, or they can be a play ground for the devil and his schemes. What they see, hear and ponder as children will take root and grow with them into adulthood. What type of seeds are being planted?

We hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about shaping our children’s hearts, their characters, their wills. How often do we talk about protecting their minds? You see, what goes into the mind will ultimately affect their hearts, which in turn will affect their wills, which leads to the shaping of their characters.

When are we going to fully grasp that the culture of our day seeks to steal our children, not only from us, but from God.

My heart is saddened by what is being allowed and invited into Christian homes all over our nation. The movies we watch, the music we allow, the internet access that’s given so freely. Parents now decide if their children should watch a movie based on how many curse words it has. “It only has 3 or 4 bad words.” they say “It’s not TOO bad!!” – Are you kidding me?

What offends God should offend us! When His most precious name is cursed and taken in vain, it should repulse us. It should cause us to become angry. It should affect us so deeply that we are unable to watch, listen to, or look at those things.

Remember, the eyes are the lamp of the body! When light enters, light dwells. When darkness enters, darkness dwells. What fellowship can light have with darkness? NONE! With each curse word, inappropriate picture and act of violence our children are exposed to, pieces of their hearts are being torn away, and a new seeds are being planted.

Moms, I beg of you. Do not be complacent. Be a guard for the hearts and minds of your children. Just as Noah built an ark to shield his family from judgment, we should also be making a safe place out of our homes; an ‘ark’ so to speak. If we are not willing to step up, be proactive and be a shield for their eyes and minds, then we should not be surprised when our child walks away from the God we raised them to serve. It doesn’t happen overnight. The seeds that are planted in childhood will grow into weeds, and eventually choke out their faith, right under your nose.

As mothers we can show our children the value of dwelling on righteous things. Things that are true, lovely, noble, right, praiseworthy and excellent. Those good seeds planted in our own, and our children’s hearts will produce good fruit, sweet fruit, fruit that will last.

“Lord, help us to use wisdom when influencing our children. Help us to be a guard for their minds and a protector for their souls. Amen.”

Chicken Drumsticks, Peas & Choosing Joy!

Sometimes it’s good to look back and remember lessons that God has taught us. I recently found this journal entry from 2008. We were moving from Alaska to Tennessee. Jasen stayed in Alaska for a couple of months to wrap up his business, while the kids and I went to Florida to be with my parents. The children were young. Really young!

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“Today I woke up and almost immediately asked the question “who took my children?” I was convinced from very early on that Curious George and his friends from the zoo had come in sometime during the night and replaced my dear ones. It just seemed like from the moment they stepped out of bed things went downhill.

They were so loud! Jaden and Adam fought continuously. Leah was having intestinal problems, which resulted in a funny dance type move and trips to the potty every 5 to 7 minutes. There was bouncing from bed to bed, couch gymnastics, yelling, screaming, arguing, and general horrid behavior. For most of the day I felt like I was going to pull my hair out, and on more than one occasion I just had to walk away.

We are in transition. Grandpa has been gone for a few days and they are still adjusting to being away from their daddy, life is confusing right now for our little ones; I have to be understanding. So many things going on I am starting to wonder if I am going to get through it with my sanity.

Leah was tough today, whined and cried all day. Not sure if it was because of her bathroom issues or what, but you never quite know with little Leah. I love her dearly though, she is my girl.

Then dinnertime rolled around and things were looking up a little. We had made it through the majority of the day without an ER visit and without me checking myself into that ‘special place’ people go to ‘rest’ and ‘get better’. I had a healthy meal prepared, oven-fried chicken, broccoli, peas, potatoes, and some kind of fruit. They all seemed pleased when it came to the table, “good” I thought, “maybe things are turning around”. We said grace, and all seemed well. With the kids settled at the table I left for a few minutes to tend to something else and upon my return found a sight that made me laugh so hard I had to leave the room. The twins were playing baseball with their chicken legs and peas! They were so intense and so encouraging of one another “good one Leah Lou!” Evan said as Leah hit a home run across the table. It was one of those moments when as a mom you have a choice. I ‘should’ have done something, handed out some form of discipline for bad table manners but I couldn’t, I just didn’t have the words. It’s times like this that I have to relish the gift of motherhood, the bad and the good, and determine to enjoy every moment. To realize that sometimes laughter is the best medicine”

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I can look back on this fondly and be thankful. My children, who had been the source of my frustration all day, were actually the ones that turned my heart toward the Lord. I find that discouragement is always around the corner waiting to pounce. He is teaching me that very often my response to things determines the behavior of the people around us; our husbands and children, the lady in the grocery store, the difficult customer service rep on the phone

My continued prayer, even years on is that when faced with a situation, no matter how frustrating, I am able to CHOOSE JOY!

 

Thanking God in the Chaos!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22 NLT

One of the greatest gifts that God has given us as mothers is the ability to find joy in the midst of chaos. If you think about it, we have many opportunities throughout the day where we could choose joy and laughter over frustration, irritation and anger. We can laugh with our kids, many times at them. We can laugh at our husbands taking care of our kids. We should also take the opportunity to laugh at ourselves and the ludicrous things that motherhood can sometimes make us do! It is not only uplifting and healing to laugh, but sometimes it is all we can do in a certain situation. There are days that are so overwhelming, the last thing you feel is joyful. On days such as this, I encourage you, laughter truly is the best medicine, and our children seem to instinctively know that! Like I said earlier; God presents us with many opportunities to choose joy, and most of those come through our children. The question is do we see them, and do we choose well?

God promises that we will go through trials, we will faces challenges, however they are balanced and outweighed by His tremendous blessings, encouragement and love.

As a Christian family, going to church on Sunday has always been a priority for us. As parents we have instilled in our children the importance of giving our Sundays to God, and being together as a family. This being said it doesn’t change that fact that when Sunday rolls around, I am never excited about the prospect of getting everyone up and ready for church in the morning. I’ve often wondered if it’s just us, or if there are other families that experience something similar to World War III on Sunday mornings. You are fighting to get breakfast eaten quickly, trying to explain to a three-year-old why he cannot wear his Cars swimming shorts or Incredible Hulk pajamas to church, and scrambling to find a pair of shoes that match.

I am always the last one in the shower, which gives me approximately six minutes to somehow make myself look somewhat presentable.  Then there is my husband struggling to put on little girl tights, (on our daughter, not himself!) When we finally manage to corral everyone into the van we are met by pushing and shoving and daughter pulling her ponytail out.

We eventually arrive at church, always a few minutes late. We are hot, sweaty and more often than not, annoyed. However, somehow a truly miraculous transformation takes place as we step out of the car and walk into the church building. We are now the Cleaver Family; happy, all smiles, put together, not a trouble in the world!  Often times I smile to myself as we find our seats. I wonder how many of the other ‘happy’ looking couples walking into church with their families drove there in complete silence, because of the big fight that occurred over little Johnny’s shoes moments before leaving the house. Let me tell you about one of those particular Sundays.

…….’It was Sunday morning in 2008. I had four children ages, 7, 5 & 3 year old twins. We were visiting my parents in Florida. Unfortunately my husband was not with us on the trip, but I figured I could handle things! We could do church! Right?!

I had just come out of the shower after enjoying a fairly relaxing fifteen minutes void of anyone banging on the door with a near 911 emergency. Daring to pat myself on the back in satisfaction, I reached for my hairdryer. Alas, my peace was short lived. I heard commotion outside the door. “Oh dear”, I had ‘atta boyed; myself a little too soon. “Mama!” Came a little voice through the door, “Evan pooped on the floor!” “Great” I said under my breath, “I just sat him on the potty minutes before my shower.” I quickly wrapped my hair and headed out to survey the damage.

As I approached the bedroom I hung my head; there standing in the middle of the room surrounded by poo was my sweet Evan. “Went poopy Mommy” he says with a panicked look on his face. “Oh Evan! It was truly all I could say! Thank goodness for my oldest, Jaden, who jumped in and grabbed the wipes, the Resolve, and wet rag.  I wiped down Evan’s foot, then my own. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we both stepped in a pile!

 

After the Operation Poo clean-up, the rest of the morning went pretty smoothly. We actually arrived at church  on time. We enjoyed about 10 minutes of the service and then decided I should either head to the nursery or risk being thrown out for disturbing the peace. Snacks, plastic animals and crayons spread everywhere, our pew closely resembled a daycare floor. The deciding factor was when the offering plate was passed and one of the children knocked it on the floor spilling pennies, nickels & dimes everywhere; leaving my mom and a very irritated parishioner on their hands and knees retrieving the coins!

As I sat in the nursery alone that day watching my kids play, a realization came to me.  You could call it an “aha moment” I prefer to see it as God speaking clearly into my cluttered, overwhelmed heart. Rather than sitting there feeling like I was missing out on ‘me time’ at church, and seeing my nursery duty as an inconvenience, I started to see it as a blessing. I started to choose joy!

Observing Leah conquer a new shape sorter.  Watching Evan take complete delight in Homer Simpson plowing down The Beast with a cool red sports car, then in the next breath seeing him tenderly tuck in a baby rabbit into bed, “nite, nite, cute bunny” he says. My heart melts. As he looked at me with a sweet smile, “I love nursery Mama” said a contented Evan, who then immediately runs off to find something else to satisfy his need for activity. It struck me that day more than ever before, life is all play and fun for my little ones, that’s all they care about right now, and let’s face it, that is all they should have to care about.’

How many times do we miss out on cherished moments because we are so focused on our own wants, needs and desires. We choose to wallow in our ‘poor me’ pity party and fail to see what God is trying to teach us. I realized that day that I have the rest of my life to sit in church, but only a small window of opportunity to watch my children grow. A window that once closed, will never reopen. May we look for, recognize and gather those many blessings and be thankful. May we laugh and choose JOY!

God’s word promises us everything we need to live joyfully and succeed in what He has called us to do, in your case it’s being a mother to those he specifically chose to bless you with.

Psalm 121v1-8

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.3 He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Precious Mama, as you are faced with the day to day, seemingly mundane tasks that seem to fill your life remember to look to Jesus. He has promised not to let you fall. He does not sleep and is in complete control. He will not allow harm to come to you, He loves you. We will often times have to make the conscious choice to look to Him, just as we have to make the choice to be thankful. Remember that your children are sponges, everything you pour over them they will soak in. Cover them in joy and thankfulness and watch the fruits of you motherly labor grow and flourish.