What I Want to Teach My Daughter About Her Right to Choose

what-i-want-to-teach-my-daughter

I teared up when the sonogram tech said the words.

“It’s a girl.”

What I’d dared to name in my prayers was now real. She had a name: Elise.

I looked over at my husband and saw tears in his eyes too. Our two boys sat on the floor, staring at the screen a couple of minutes longer until their attention turned to their video games.

For the rest of the day, I was on an emotional high. We went to Babies R’ Us and I immersed myself in all things girl- the bows, the pink, the dresses and frillies. I didn’t think I’d be so enamored with it all, but I was.

Our first girl was coming, and I couldn’t wait. But I also knew.

I knew there would be challenges we wouldn’t face with our boys. Hormones and drama and cycles and the need to be loved.

I also knew there would be the temptation to look for love in all the wrong places. And while the conversation about sex was one we would have with our boys too, it would be different. Because we are made differently.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about women’s rights lately. Social media is filled with articles about a woman’s right to her body, to not be pregnant, and to safe contraception.

Some of the conversation is needed and good. And some of it is disturbing on many levels.

Until this point I’ve stayed out of it. My goal with this blog will always be to love and encourage, and I honestly couldn’t think of anything encouraging to say on the topic.

But then I asked myself, what is at the heart of all this? A woman can claim she has the right to an abortion. She can say denial of access is a violation of that right. But where does the issue start?

Why do so many women need an abortion?

right-to-choose

I looked back on my life and the decisions I made. I spent years of my life looking for love.

I’d heard Bible stories and songs about how God loved me, but it wasn’t tangible to me. I’d never felt it or experienced it, so I assumed it wasn’t real.

I remember the first time a boy told me I was beautiful. I liked it. It meant something to me. I wanted to be seen and heard so desperately I was willing to do anything.

So now, when I type this and I think about the decisions I made, I want my daughter to know: You are worth so much more than your sexuality.

Yes, God can redeem even the most broken story. He can turn ashes into beauty and a mess into a miracle.

But it affects me even now. It affects the relationship I have with my husband. It affects the way I look at other men.

I hear all this talk about a woman’s right to choose but here’s what baffles me. Here’s what’s missing from the conversation.

A woman’s right to choose will always begin with her decision of whether or not to exploit her body. We can say it’s consensual and it’s good and natural, and all that may be true.

But when a woman uses her body to gain something she thinks she lacks- love, it is an exploitation.

Yes, sex is good. Of course it is. God created it.

When sex is misconstrued for love, we have a serious problem. And friends, women can’t separate sex from love. They can’t separate sex from their emotions. And if they can, I would argue that they’ve been hardened by the muck of life to get them to that point.

So yes, we have a right to choose. But I would argue that right begins long before the baby is in the womb. It begins with the decision to love ourselves. It begins with the knowledge of a Creator who values us more than we could ever imagine.

When I look at my daughter, I want her to know this:

  • You have the right to choose a man who will love you more than he will lust after your body.
  • You have the right to love yourself and to believe you are a priceless creation, loved by a Creator who gave himself for you.
  • You have the right to choose to say “no” to anything less than what God has for you. A God who created sex to be enjoyed within the boundaries of marriage. Not as a punishment, but because he knew this is where it would be enjoyed as it was made to be.

It may sound old fashioned. It may sound unreasonable. But as a woman who has experienced sex both inside and outside the confines of marriage, I can say I believe the God who created it got it right.

My daughter has the right to choose. And I pray she chooses to love herself.

 

Linking up here: #ChasingCommunity

Giving Your Kids the World When You’re Running on Empty

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Sometimes the things we do to bless our kids end up blessing us even more. We serve a God who shows up in unexpected ways.

A few months ago, my firstborn started taking piano lessons. He has an amazing musical instinct and was playing songs in no time, filling our house with Christmas carols in December.

Since we welcomed our third child around Thanksgiving it’s been increasingly difficult for me to get him to his lessons on time. Most days I sit in the car and nurse our newborn while little brother sits in the back watching DVDs, popping his head between the front seats every now and then to tell me about the scene in a movie.

One afternoon I was feeling defeated and overly tired. I almost forgot about firstborn boy’s lesson altogether.

When it was over I debated whether I should walk in and chat with his teacher. Baby girl was sitting in her car seat, happily fed, so went to the front door and found my son there, putting on his shoes.

His teacher told me they’d been learning movie theme songs. Superman was a big hit.

My son had explained to her how there were some movies his dad and I wouldn’t let him watch yet.

“You’re really smart for doing that,” his teacher said. “They’re so vulnerable at this age.”

It was a small affirmation, but in that moment it was huge. Even in the struggle and transition, she gave me confidence we were doing something right.

And each week she continued giving me little nuggets of encouragement.

It reminded me how whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always planting seeds. And the good seeds we plant in our kids will always yield a harvest, whether it’s immediate or years down the road.

That same week, I began reading a beautiful children’s introductory bible called Bible Basics to our baby girl. She fussed a few minutes after I started and I admit I wondered why I even bothered.

bible-basics-review

But even through my discouragement, I know I’m planting seeds.

She may not understand the words yet, but her little mind is expanding like a wet sponge. If some of the first truths she hears are about a Creator who adores her, I know I’m doing something good.

Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is filled with colorful, vibrant illustrations and staple verses for children to learn as they grow. It is perfect for a baby or toddler-aged child. It teaches kids the core tenets of Christianity in a way that is easy for them to understand. I am confident that the more I continue reading it to my daughter, the more she will enjoy it.

I know there will still be days when I wonder if I’m doing anything right. I will forget to sign homework and lose my patience with the kids. But when I doubt, I’ll continue planting seeds.

I’ll keep telling them about the amazing God who created the universe, but is still compassionate enough to care about each hair on their heads. I’ll keep looking for ways to make faith part of their everyday lives.

If you’re looking for a way to introduce faith to your kids in a simple, easy-to-understand way, I highly recommend Bible Basics. It is a great resource for parents of young children, and the illustrations are captivating.

Let’s keep sowing those good seeds. You never know when God will show you the fruit of your harvest.

Sometimes it’s in ways you least expect it.


GIVEWAY:
bible-basics-coverHey friends, I’m giving away a copy of Bible Basics to one of you lovely readers! To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment below. You can be entered multiple times by sharing this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Make sure to let me know you shared the post in your comment.

I will announce the winner next Thursday, January 26th.

 

*Two copies of Bible Basics were provided to me by The Blythe Daniel Agency in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to provide a positive review.

 

 

Stop the Cycle of Mom Guilt: What Our Kids Crave the Most

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My kids never cease to amaze me. I love how even at a young age, they can pinpoint what’s important.

The other day I was taking my oldest son to piano and as we stopped at a red light, he piped up from the back seat.

“You know, Mama. When little Elise gets here, I’m going to hold her, and hug her, and kiss her…. And… well, that’s about it.”

I laughed out loud, knowing what he meant but utterly enjoying his cuteness. He told me about the various stages his sister would go through and how one day she will be able to chase him and his brother through the house.

He knows during the first few months of her life, cuddles and plenty of love will be the main things baby sister needs. Play will come later. Fights over toys, hopefully much later.

Aside from feeding, diaper changes, and plenty of rest, he had Elise’s needs pinned down to a tee.

It made me wonder. At what stage as parents do we forget the basics and start shaming ourselves?

The other day, I had a near panic attack because baby girl’s room wasn’t ready. I was still seven weeks from my due date, but my nesting instinct was in high gear. I scoured quilts and wall decals on Etsy, trying to find the perfect combination to create a warm, welcoming environment.

When I couldn’t match up shades of turquoise I was irritable. Then, God reminded me of scene from a few nights ago. I was getting ready for bed, and as I walked by the nursery I saw my son helping his dad convert the toddler bed back into a crib.

She will have a place to sleep. She will have food to eat and arms to hold her and comfort her when she cries. Will she care if her room isn’t perfect?

I think our guilt often stems from a misconception that our kids should have trouble-free, pain-free lives with little to no boredom and a schedule filled with activities. If we’re not carting them from one place to another and living vicariously through every victory, win and trophy, we feel empty.

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But as Jen Hatmaker so aptly states in her book, For the Love, our kids’ lives are not a Nickelodeon set. Nor should they be.

There comes a point where we have to stop the cycle of shame and settle for good enough. Because when it comes to parenting, perfect doesn’t exist.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a Christian radio station and during a Focus on the Family segment, they talked about the things kids remember about growing up. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t the mistakes their parents make, the times we lose our cool or the boo-boos they got when they were two.

They remembered the bedtime stories. The time spent cuddling on the couch. The prayers and the moments just being together.

My eyes were wet with tears at the sheer simplicity of it. When did I forget?

Friends, our kids know what’s important. So when today is over and you’re sitting on the couch, shaming yourself because you were late to the practice, ask yourself this: Did I love my kid today?

It’s time we stop worrying about perfection and give them what they crave the most: ourselves.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup

Do My Kids See Jesus in Me?

do my kids see Jesus in me

Screams outside the bathroom door interrupted thoughts of our beach trip that was coming up in a few short weeks. At first, I thought the boys were just fighting again but then I heard the word “blood.”

I didn’t hear the calm, take-charge voice of my oldest son who was comforting his brother. All I knew was that little one was hurting, and mama had to fix it.

I shifted my speed into high gear and rushed out the door to see my four-year-old standing there with tears running down his face. He held his hurt finger carefully and lifted it up for me to see. I could tell he’d poked himself with something sharp but had no idea what had happened.

That is, until my oldest son brought the weapon of destruction to me. His Epi-Pen, fully ejected and empty. The sight of it sent me into full panic mode.

The next couple of hours raced by in a blur of the car ride to the ER and the patient room where they examined my son. I felt calm slowly creep back into my frame when I realized he was okay. But it wasn’t until later, when the kids were in bed and quiet filled our home, that God brought the words of our firstborn to mind.

In the wake of panic, I’d ignored them, but He knew I needed to remember.

do my kids see jesus

“Don’t worry, Gabe. It will be okay. Here, I’ll get you a band-aid.”

It was only a few sentences uttered outside our bathroom door, but they showed me what I desperately needed to see. They showed love.

In the weeks leading up to this traumatic event, I was on my knees with the fatigues of motherhood. I wondered if my two boys would ever get along, and news of third baby coming left me feeling both elated and worried at the same time.

Would we be able to handle a third child? I wondered if anything we taught our boys was sinking in to their little hearts and minds, and now our attention would be pulled elsewhere. I tried to trust in the strength I knew God would provide, but I needed reassurance. And in an instant, God provided it.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! 

Psalm 127:4 ESV

As I recalled the words of big brother, they were like arrows, firing against the worries filling my head. They shot down the lies of the enemy and reminded me of God’s faithfulness.

Sometimes it’s in those moments of chaos and panic when we see what people are truly made of. They either crumble under the pressure or rise. They run away or with God’s help, they will rise like arrows.

Though I hope the event will never repeat itself, God used this moment of panic to show me the strength of my children. He used it to show me the answer to many prayers, and the answer to hours spent wondering if they saw his love in us.

The answer was “yes.” Our labor was not in vain. Our arrows were sharp, and getting sharper each day.

Why It’s Okay to Let Your Child Lose

proverbs 20-11

“Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” -Unknown

I spent the first five years of my oldest son’s life cleaning up all his toys. He’d dump out the Legos, the trains and tracks, and I’d clean up the mess as son as he moved on to the next thing of interest.

I could blame my OCD nature. He didn’t clean up the “right” way. I could say it was too much of a hassle or that it took too long for him to do it.

But the truth was, I knew better.

One day my husband said matter-of-factly, “You have to let him start doing this,” and my mind flashed forward fifteen years. I could see myself hunched over, still picking those God-forsaken Legos off the floor.

I knew something had to change.

Is Winning Worth the Cost?

 “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” Proverbs 20:11 NIV

 A few days ago, my now seven-year-old entered his second pinewood derby race. With the exception of cutting the car, which he was too young to do, he made the entire vehicle himself.

Now, the rules for this race explicitly state for the kids to do “the majority of the work.” But as my husband and I have discovered, this rule is mostly overlooked. One glance down the row of cars with perfect paint jobs and precisely placed weights is a dead giveaway.

Needless to say, my son hasn’t won a trophy. And I am perfectly okay with that.

Sometimes, my competitive nature tries to get the better of me.

“Other parents are doing it,” I tell myself. “What’s the harm?”

As these questions play inside my head, I remind myself of the values I try to instill into my boys each day. This raising of kids isn’t for the faint of heart, and as much as I like winning, it just isn’t worth it.

When it comes to winning, losing, and all of the ground in-between, here are a few things my husband and I have learned along the way:

  1. Doing the work for your kid doesn’t teach them anything. Often, I want to swoop in and kick the ball, make the goal, read the book, or tell the other kid he has to befriend my son because of how great he is. But this type of behavior isn’t doing him any favors. Instead, it screams, “You aren’t capable of doing it yourself.”
  1. When they complete the task themselves, it instills confidence. Our son may not have won the race, but it was his car, his design, and his He designed his vehicle to look like Pap Pap’s truck. And he enjoyed every minute of it.
  1. When your kid does the work, winning is so much sweeter. I’ve seen my son win awards and accolades for work he’s done on his own. And the pride and confidence beaming from his entire body far exceeds anything I’ve seen when we do the work for him.
  1. If we break the rules, why should they follow them? Saying, “It’s just one rule,” or “Everyone else is doing it,” sets a precedent. Our kids are watching how we act closely. If we don’t want them to fall into the pattern of thinking the rules don’t apply to them, we have to model this behavior ourselves.

Raising kids is hard, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve failed more times than I can count. But I pick myself up, vow to learn from my mistakes and try again.

By God’s grace, I’m teaching my kids to do the same. But I can’t teach them to do something when I don’t allow them to try.

After the race, Daddy gave our little engineer some pointers on how to advance his car-building skills next year. And I have a feeling he won’t stay at the bottom for long.

 

Linking up with these communities: #IntentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #CoffeeForYourHeart

Will My Kids Turn Out Okay?

Will My Kids Be Okay

During my first few years of motherhood, I had this horrible fear that I was going to mess up my kid. I questioned everything from his diet to the laundry detergent we used to make sure we made the perfect decision.

Crazy, I know. Then he went through a phase where all he wanted to eat was noodles. Much to my horror, I was forced to reevaluate.

It wasn’t long before we had another boy and my oldest reached the age of “why.” Instead of me questioning everything, he did. We’d laid a foundation of Christ’s teachings in our home and taught him about kindness, forgiveness and helping others, but I worried he would soon question the things that mattered most.

I avoided talking about certain topics or biblical principles because I didn’t think I could explain it in a way he would understand. I tried to plan out conversations and make sure I knew all the answers, but we all know life doesn’t follow a script, right?

When my youngest son reached the toddler age, I realized we were dealing with a whole new set of challenges. He was headstrong and fearless, and although he hadn’t reached the age of “why” yet, he brought out behavior in my firstborn that I’d never seen before.

My normally gentle, calm-spirited kid became aggressive and mischievous.

As I watched other calm, well-mannered children at story time, I’d try to keep mine seated and swat their hands when they moved the felt characters on the storyboard.

One day when I was feeling particularly inadequate we were shopping for Christmas decorations. It also happened to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year: Black Friday. My husband and I explained how the stores might be crazy because people were shopping for gifts and told the boys to stay close.

Then, out of the blue, my husband asked our oldest if he thought gifts were the meaning of Christmas.

“No, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday,” he said without hesitation.

Now, I realize what you might be thinking. You may think he was reciting what he’d heard or saying what he thought we wanted to hear. I know because I had the same doubts.

But what I’ve realized in this journey called motherhood is in the middle the doubt, the frustration the fear of the unknown, one of the best things we can do for our kids is show up.

Instead of going on autopilot or avoiding the hard conversation, I can be present. Instead of giving in to make life easier, I can stand firm in the decisions my husband and I make together.

And when we do these things, I can listen to my son tell us the true meaning of Christmas and know he’s speaking from the heart. I can have confidence that the Spirit of the living God is working in him and through me to form the man he will one day become.

Sometimes all it takes is showing up to show my kids what matters most.

And despite all my mistakes and wondering if we’re doing it all right, they surprise me when I least expect it.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday, #RaRaLinkup

Are We Forgetting the Most Powerful Counselor We Have?

let's not underestimate

I have a confession to make.

Several times a year when I gather up the boys’ toys to donate to the Salvation Army and Social Services, I make sure they are either at school or asleep. Doing otherwise results in the inevitable cries of, “Oh, I forgot about this!” or “Oh, my favorite toy!” even though they haven’t played with it for a year.

Until my oldest son surprised me. And in an instant, I realized I should never underestimate the power of the Spirit to work in a child.

My husband and I were in the family room going through toy chests when I heard the pitter-patter of little feet.

“What are you doing?” my firstborn asked. My heart dropped and I told him a half-truth. I was organizing the toys. Which, technically, I was. But when I looked across the room at my husband, I could tell we were both thinking the same thing.

We needed to be honest. He was old enough, and he could help. I held my breath as my husband explained we were gathering toys to give away.

“We want to make sure other kids who less fortunate have a good Christmas too,” Daddy said.

I explained that we wanted to give our best so we could honor the families who would receive these gifts. As I looked at the amount of stuff lying on the floor, I knew we had been blessed with much. But did my son? I waited to see how he would react.

Then, he amazed me.

He began gathering things and placing them in the bag, which was nearly full already. Not just thoughtless items but items he and his brother played with and loved. And what surprised me most? He didn’t want to stop.

As I watched me son in awe, all I could say repeatedly was, “Thank you.” To my son, yes. I told him how proud I was and how grateful we were for his giving attitude. But inwardly I thanked God.

Often, I think my husband and I are doing this parenting gig alone. I feel inadequate on a daily basis and I second-guess decisions more often than I’d like to admit. I forget there is a third party involved, which although invisible, is the most important influence in my child’s life.

I forget about the Holy Spirit.

When I pray, asking God to help me be an example for these kids he’s entrusted into my care, he listens. When I ask him to fill in the spaces where I am lacking, he hears me.

Even when I don’t know what to ask for or how to pray, he sees.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Romans 8:27 NIV

Let’s not underestimate the power of the Counselor who lives in us.

The same power which arose Jesus from the grave is accessible to us everyday, if we are in Him. We simply have to believe. We have to ask. We abide in him and seek even those answers we may not like.

And when he moves and stirs hearts in those moments we least expect it, we fall on our knees, we give thanks, and we know with new certainty: our help comes from him.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday, #TellHisStory

When You Second-Guess Yourself As A Mom

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My mastery of second-guessing myself didn’t end when I became a mom. If anything, it became worse.

I second-guess what the kids ate for lunch. I wonder if my three-year-old should be writing his name by now, like some other children his age. When the endless sibling rivalry turns physical I think, “Didn’t I teach them better than this? Will they ever get along?”

Sometimes the worst critics are the ones running on repeat inside our heads.

We teach our kids to share, to love their neighbor and show respect. But when we don’t see the fruits of our labor we question whether anything we say is sinking in. We’re told in Proverbs to “train up a child in the way he should go” but when we don’t see visible results, we wonder what we’re doing wrong.

Instead of living in the present, we second-guess the past.

A couple of weeks ago, God gave me a push of encouragement along with a wake-up call. My husband and I had tucked the kids in for the night and were settled into our comfy spots in the family room. With the soft orange glow from the table lamp we read our devotional app and talked about its subject, prayer.

The teaching gave a blueprint. Begin with thanks and repentance, then present your requests to God in Jesus’ name.

As we sat there talking my mind went to our kids. Were we teaching them enough about prayer? My husband, as if reading my inner thoughts, said,

“Do you know what our son did tonight?”

“No.” And I secretly wondered if I wanted to.

“He thanked God for a good day at school and time playing at home. Then he asked God to place his hand on Coco and heal her.”

Coco, our dog, had been struggling to walk for last couple of days. At fourteen years and counting, she wasn’t as limber as she used to be.

Listening to my husband describe our son’s prayer, eyes welled up with tears. Here was our seven-year-old, modeling the exact form of prayer Jesus used with his disciples. And he wasn’t thinking of himself. He wasn’t asking for a new Lego set or a video game.

He was petitioning on behalf of our dog.

Even through all my doubt and questioning, God was working in the heart of our son. We were doing what we could do, but God was moving this little seven-year-old’s heart in ways only he could.

When we second-guess the past, we often miss what God is doing in the present.

Parenting is a tough road. There are days when we wonder if anything we are saying or doing is making a difference. In moments of frustration it’s easy to play the past on repeat.

That night, God gave me an invitation to live in the now. To be present with my son as he prayed and grew and loved.

No matter what the future held, I didn’t want to miss it.

 

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday and Grace & Truth. Come join us and be inspired.

Why Can’t They Just Be Grateful?

desire

“Why is this taking so long?”

My six-year-old’s words caught me off guard. I was working feverishly to get dinner on the table and my two sons were already sitting down, waiting.

Almost instantly, I could feel my blood pressure rising. Who did this kid think he was? I had spent the past half hour assembling this meal and he wasn’t showing an inkling of gratitude. Did he know how hard I worked each and every day for this family?

Of course he didn’t. He was six.

Fortunately, before a torrent of anger came spewing out of my mouth, my husband addressed the situation. He told our son to apologize. Over dinner, we had conversation about being thankful and informed him he would be helping with the dishes, a chore usually done by an adult. But I couldn’t get my son’s words out of my mind.

My heart’s desire is to raise children who have grateful hearts, not children who think they are entitled to everything without having to work for it. We could delegate more work around the house, but what that it? I sensed I was missing something.

Out of curiosity, I conducted a survey asking some of my readers how they instilled gratitude in their children. I received a single response: Be grateful. The reply left me asking myself the question: Am I thankful?

There are certainly some days when I grumble. A lot. Like the other day when I lost my temper while trying to get the kids out the door in time for school. Often, my body language is enough to do all of my talking for me. It says, “I’m tired and irritable so leave me alone.”

When I take stock of my attitude toward life, I know I am grateful, but do my kids? Our children model what they see, so the best teacher on gratitude is their parents.

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Whenever I see that word “all” in the Bible, I have to admit it makes me cringe a little bit. After all, who can search for missing socks and clean up endless messes to the name of Jesus, all while giving thanks? 

No one. Not without the help of the Spirit living in us.

When my desire is to become more like Jesus, the best place to start is at the foot of the cross.

Fully aware of my need for guidance, I went before the Lord in prayer. I bared my soul to him and admitted my weaknesses. And right there in the midst of my shortcomings, I found his strength.

As I awoke the next morning, I knew the day was brimming with possibilities. My kids and I made it out the door on time and as we pulled out of the driveway, I saw hint of rainbow in the middle of a huge, dark cloud.

It was getting more vivid with each moment.

Excitedly, I pointed it out to my son.

“Do you see it, buddy, do you see it?” I asked.

“Yes, Mama! And look, it’s following us!” he said with a grin.

As we made our way down the road, I felt giddy with anticipation of what the day held in store. And I thanked God for providing us with a step in the right direction.

 

*Linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth

When Raising Them is Hard and You Feel Alone

Derek + Diane Photography, LLC (65)

It was an ordinary Tuesday afternoon when I opened my email to find a Groupon ad for a cruise on the Caribbean. I desperately wanted to hit “buy” and wondered if it would be possible for my husband and I to leave the next day.

I imagined myself in my straw Panama Jack hat and my bermuda shorts, sailing off into the sunset with my camera in one hand and my other draped around my man. Certainly the grandparents could come up for a week to watch the kids, right?

Screams of, “I’m telling Mama!” echoed from the next room as I buried my face and tried to pretend I didn’t hear them. Then came the pitter patter of small feet looking for the referee who would surely give little brother a time-out for not playing nice.

“Mama, Gabe hit me on the head with the toy and I told him to say he was sorry but he did not.”

Nope. Of course he didn’t.

Two minutes. That was all the time it took after I left the room for brothers to go from getting along to bickering. I pulled myself away from my island fantasy to be peacemaker. My mind searched for a solution that would be permanent but couldn’t find one.

How many times would I have to punish him for the same actions? Everything I tried felt like putting a band-aid over the situation rather than fixing it.

Sometimes in the long road of parenting, it’s easy to wonder whether anything we do makes a difference.

I once heard a friend say she often felt like monkeys could do a better job of raising her children than she did, and sometimes I think the same thing.

We reiterate the same lessons over and over, but wonder whether our children really get it. We model the type of behavior we want them to practice, but there’s that one child who is violent in spite of it all.

So what do we do? Let the monkeys take over? No, friend. We turn to God and each other. 

Derek + Diane Photography, LLC (53)

When parenting gets hard, one of the worst things we can do is retreat.

For me, a hug often goes further than a round of advice. And a pumpkin spiced latte may not hold all of the answers to my problems, but it will give me the boost I need to go another round.

Friend, if you’re weary with the war wounds of mothering, can I encourage you to reach out to someone? You will be amazed at how much an adult conversation can revive a weary soul.

You may not leave the coffee shop or play date with a list of solutions, but you will know that you are not alone. 

Several days after my Caribbean daydream, I spent the morning recharging with some other moms and their kids. After my oldest came home from school, he and his brother played for an entire hour without any fighting. That is a new record. Somehow, even when I didn’t think all of my discipline and correction was making a difference, it did. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Keep pressing on, dear one. You will see the fruits of your labor. Sometimes when you least expect it.

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. Come join us and be inspired.

*Pictures courtesy of Derek + Diane Photography, LLC.