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Posts from the ‘Parenting’ Category

Know What Keeps Me Up At Night?

Porn.

When I was in 5th grade, I went to a friend’s house. She pulled a hardback book off the shelf, showed me pictures I had never seen and said words I had never heard. She proceeded to take me out back to her dad’s shed and reveal more shocking photographs from magazines. Occurring somewhere around 28 years ago, I can still see some of those images and hear some of those words.

I don’t have to tell you WE ARE IN A BATTLE WITH AND FOR OUR CHILDREN! 

In this battle, admittedly, we’ve been too lenient around our house. My kids are familiar with the above story. We have ongoing conversations about pornography in our home, safeguards on our equipment (that are still allowing pop-ups). But free time on the computer is, well, just a little too free.

So last week, we created a “tech table.”

You can about guess what that means. We keep all technical devices in one place: computers, iPods, IPad (even the Kindle is here, but I think it’s just for looks).

mail-2 mail-1

Do I expect my kids’ eyes and ears to be forever protected because technical devices are not allowed in their bedrooms? Nope.

Are we being overly protective? I sure hope so.

Two articles that may interest you:

The New Narcotic        I Hate Porn

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

We are equipped for the battle (and not because of a tech table — but the table is giving me a little more sleep).

On A Journey With Dyslexia

Dyslexia is difficult, so I’m gathering. I don’t know this to be true personally. As a matter of fact, my degree is in English Education. I’m decent with reading and spelling — exactly where those struggling with dyslexia suffer. What I’ve learned is that saying to my 10-year-old, “You spell it exactly the way it sounds,” means nothing to her. She hears sounds differently.

We’ve been on a journey since kindergarten to find out why Abby learns differently. If you’re a parent, you may have said, “I know something is wrong; I just can’t put my finger on it.” That’s exactly how I felt. Every year, her teachers told us everything was fine — until 3rd grade.

And, then, Mr. Carmichael.

(He gets his own line. You should also envision rays of light around his name.)

To make a long story short (and I will fill in the gaps later on why we decided to home school), we decided to home school in January. We have continued this fall and added a dyslexia tutoring program.

This is a big ol’ roller-coaster, people. We have GREAT days and HARD days. But, I am beginning to see a glimmer of hope, AND IT’S NOT BECAUSE OF THE GREAT DAYS!

Yesterday, my 10-year-old had a tough time spelling out a 3 letter word and had a headache by the time we finished 30 minutes of work. This work is hard on her brain! And, it’s hard on my heart! But because of the hard, I know it’s working. I can see the benefit of what this program is going to do because God is gracious in giving us glimpses of good through our pain.

We have a long road.

Abby has had to make a lot of adjustments. I have faced quite a bit of sadness, despair, guilt and loneliness. I have good friends who have helped a lot and listened to way too many complaints. I feel sure those days are not dead and gone, but…

God is faithful.

He is conquering the complaints, loneliness, guilt, despair and sadness. He is providing help, answers and direction. With every trial, my heart is being strengthened, and with every skill, Abby’s brain is being strengthened. He is giving hope.

Dyslexia may continue to be difficult, but it has been, is being and will be redeemed.

Why am I sharing?

1. 2 Corinthians 1:4 — I’m not the only one in this situation. There are other families who need support, comfort.

2. I have permission. I asked Abby if I could share. Hopefully, she will be able to pass on the same comfort in the future.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

What We’re Up To

My kids are very different. I could tell in utero. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. The older our children have grown, the more we have seen their personalities develop. The more we have seen their personalities develop, the more we have tried to tailor our parenting styles to fit each personality. Some of you may be laughing, now, because you realize how comical this is; Chris and I are exhausting ourselves just trying to remember who hates mayonnaise and who prefers an encouraging word over a hug. But, the real strain comes in dealing with discipline, emotions, education and the like.

For now, let’s focus on education. In “researching” our children, we’ve learned they need to be educated differently. Starting in January, I’m going to home school Abby. We’ve spent months, even years, watching and praying to reach this decision. Friends and family have engaged us in these conversations. They have prayed for us, suggested resources, shared curriculum, even helped beautify our “classroom.” The Lord verifying each step has been our encouragement.

We are excited and think Abby will thrive in her new setting. I look forward to sharing more details about our adventure and what led to our decision. Please be watching for pictures of our classroom, what we’re studying, our good days, our bad days, perhaps, and more.

Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking

It never fails! When I have had a child entering kindergarten, I am scrambling at the last minute to complete something on the list for registration. So, yesterday, Cooper and I landed in Dr. Fesmire’s office. While we were waiting, I found myself in a predicament (an embarrassing blue mouth from a lollipop). In our own minds, Coop and I were discovering ways to solve the blue-tooth problem before I had to talk to the doctor. Then, the 6-year-old looked across the room with his handsome face and a sly smile and said, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

If you remember, from the start of the summer, I have a been on a quest to “learn my kids.” My biggest frustration as a parent is that I’m pretty sure I’m never even close to thinking what they’re thinking. I cannot stop laughing inside at his question!

I have found myself in knots a couple of times over the fact that I can’t connect with my children. I can’t seem to find what makes them tick or I can’t find the right words to communicate with them. And, what has continued to rise above those fears and inadequacies is the overarching theme of my need for a Savior. I, in and of myself, am not sufficient as a mother. I can’t know their hearts, needs and thoughts…

But God, who weaved their hearts and minds together can give the insight into them that I need, and he has when I’ve needed it.

Just an example: I have a child who has struggled with being corrected. She is very discouraged when corrected by us or others. A couple of weeks ago, her swim coach pulled her out of the pool and had her work on a stroke. She was upset, and we tried to explain how the coach was helping her improve. I racked my brain for a week trying to figure out why she was so bothered, and in praying, God revealed something to me that I shared with her.

The definition of criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. The definition of correction is a change that rectifies an error or inaccuracy. We’ve all heard this about marriage, but it’s good to know for parenting, too — we hear words differently. My child has been hearing disapproval based on fault when she’s just being corrected. Hopefully, knowing these two words will rectify that for her.

But, this is my point — I’m not smart enough to figure this out about her! I need the One who created her to reveal these details to me. My quest this summer to know my kids really leads to someone far greater – the Savior! He, in turn, helps us to know our kids.

As for Coop’s idea? His plan was for me to wash my mouth out with soap and water. I’m sure Dr. Fesmire would have found that completely normal when he entered the room.

Learning My Kiddos

In roughly 12 1/2 years of marriage, Chris and I have run across times that are “new” to us. People change. What is not characteristic of us, in marriage, is to brush off those times as unimportant, sweeping them under the rug. Marriage is hard work. We spend a lot of time learning one another. It would be irresponsible and uncaring to not give attention to our marriage, to not give attention to the changing times, doing all that we can to listen and watch.

As I’ve expressed in an earlier post, we have been in a major transition in parenting. We now have kids rather than babies. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking toward summer, how I want to spend our days, what I want to put in and what I need to give up. Something major has occurred to me:  I need to learn kids. I need to learn my kids.

I just don’t “get” kids. I don’t understand what’s so funny. I don’t like lengthy, detailed stories. Answering 500 questions a day makes me nuts. I don’t understand the need to have friends around when we have already graciously provided siblings as playmates. BUT, parenting cannot be different from marriage in this regard — tough phases cannot be swept under the rug. Parenting is hard work. If I’m willing to take time to know my spouse, I must also be willing to know my kids. They need that from me, and it’s my job as their mother.

Yesterday, I was taking Cooper to school. It’s his last week, and he has loved every day. In trying to communicate his feelings about it he said, “If you could be little like I’m little, you would love my school. There is nothing unfun.” It helped put words to what I’ve been thinking. I was thinking I wish I could see through your eyes, too.

I’m not expecting anything magical to happen this summer, but I am praying God will help me to see and hear more clearly. I believe he will grant those desires. I love the time of discipline/training I have with the kids in the summer, and I look forward to a lot of that mixed with a lot of play time with their friends and our friends. I am unplugging technologically, so there will be little to no Facebook and Twitter and less blogging.

Parenting Transition Take 1

I used to be very judgmental of older women for not knowing answers about their husbands. I would ask questions about something simple, like their schedule, and would be shocked when the wife would answer, I don’t know. I’ll have to find out. Chris and I used to know every detail about each other’s day down to what we ate for lunch. Now, it’s no surprise for us to miss a detail much greater than that.

I thought babies were going to be the most difficult stage. Somehow, I was under the misconception that once bottles, diapers, projectile vomit and sleepless nights were removed from my life, it would be easier. Our kids are getting older. They’re getting bigger. They take up more space. Their mouths take up more time. They can’t be stuck in a bed or put behind a gate. They have opinions, lots of homework, schedules of their own and problems that need resolve. They take a lot of time and care and not the kind that a pat on the bottom or burp of the back will fix. They need to be discipled, trained and not with the songs, prayers or books I used to put them to sleep. I feel the need to be a lot more creative because I see them drifting away with the same old stories, and on occasion, their eyes “involuntarily” roll.

Honestly, I felt like being a baby mom was pretty easy. I’m freaking out a little with having three kids. I’ve never been good with kids. I don’t really even like kids. (Of course, I like mine… And, yours.) I’ve gone to bed many nights thinking I’ve done a terrible job, but I’ve come to the realization that we’re in transition. Sidenote: Transition often provokes grief in me. Moving from babies to kids is not easy.

So, I’m taking some deep breaths. I’m gearing up in this major transition. I’m learning. I’m listening a lot.

One of God’s greatest gifts is life stages. If we just look one step ahead of us, there is someone who has already gone before and taken a few blows we may not have to take. Not only that, they are listening to those ahead of them, gleaning wisdom for what’s coming. Living in Christian community, we learn this parenting thing should not be done in a silo. We need each other. We must have help to survive.

Those who are one step ahead are whispering back to me start letting go a little, always keep snacks in your house, you have to quit worrying about your house… This advice may seem insignificant to you, but it is slowly setting me free.

As I stand on the other side of Chris’s shower catching him up on all of the details we’ve missed, I no longer judge those women who didn’t know their husband’s schedules. And, as I look ahead, I will not judge those with teenagers because it is a guarantee the results will be bitter.

Overwhelmed and Forgetful

“I used to have a handle on life but it broke.”

At 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, I looked across the dinner table at my 10-year-old, searching her sweet face as I often do and made my way to her braces realizing she had a dentist appointment AT 2:40 p.m. THAT DAY! I just shook my head and dropped it down because this has been the story of my life for quite some time now.

This is not only the story of my life but the story of most women in my life. Try as we may to hide it, we cannot do it all! I hear it from moms all of the time — I forgot to turn to in my child’s science project. My child has been sick, and I totally missed the signs. I can’t be there to help at my child’s school. These statements are laced with guilt and shame, but they are mostly hidden until we feel safe enough to share.

In light of this, I’ve been asked two questions lately that I’d like to share:

Weekly, I meet with Katie. She is a newlywed. She has asked the question How do you do it all? And, because I am pouring buckets of wisdom into Katie, my response to her is (drumroll) I don’t. I know. Very anti-climatic.

My laundry piles up so high that my closet stinks. We eat frozen pizza at least once a week. I forget dentist appointments unless my kids remind me. My preschooler only takes show-n-tell if he remembers. I can’t recall everyday, common words at least once a day. All of my children have already had cavities. I forget to take medicine, drink water, turn off the oven and pray.

The truth is, I never really had a handle on life. It was only a figment of my imagination.

The other question has been asked by a few: I am so overwhelmed; what is God trying to teach me? Again, I have a mind-blowing answer, I don’t know. Tweetable, right?

I do know that we must, in every circumstance, big or small, realize our deep need for our Savior. Whatever drives us to God is not wasted. And, maybe it’s just me, but believing that God will not give us more than we can handle seems to be contrary to what we’re called to. Why wouldn’t he give us more than we can handle when he is the source everything? Everything. We must have him to handle anything. Anything. The circumstance you’re in may be more than you can handle, but it will not exceed His grace.

So, be overwhelmed. Be forgetful. Let it drive you down.

Then, be overwhelmed by the kindness of the Savior who is always is control, never-forgetting and abounding in grace.

Love Through Discipline – part 2

Continuing Monday’s post on Love Through Discipline, I would like to add some background and means of carrying out expectations scripture has for us with parenting.

For most of my Christian walk, I saw God as a Father who only had words for me when I needed to be corrected or rebuked. I believed discipline was only a response to my behavior. This is very important because what the author of Hebrews is saying is that discipline is also training. It isn’t merely correction and rebuke. It is also training and instruction, meaning it can precede behavior.

Discipline plays out much the same way in our homes:

Bad behavior + Child = Discipline (Nothing wrong here)

But, what if more times than not, it looked like this:

(Parents + Child) + Discipline (Discipleship) = Behavior

I am not pretending that formulas work, and I am not suggesting we control the heart or the behavior of our children. What I am suggesting is that we are responsible for the discipleship of our children. We aren’t capable of predicting behavior, but Christ through discipleship can pierce heart issues if training is the natural rhythm of our homes. Perhaps if discipleship is at the forefront rather than only discipline at the back-end, we would have more effective parenting.

Scripture instructs:

Train [discipline/disciple] up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4b

How do we carry out these instructions practically?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise [any and every time, place and activity].You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-10

The Lord has been teaching me much about his discipline over the last several years. He is only beginning to teach me about the discipline of my children. I will be learning of both until the day I die. But, one thing is certain, neither can fall into correct order until the beginning of this Deuteronomy passage melts into the marrow of my being —

love the Lord your God

with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your might.

Do your children only hear from you when they need to be corrected?

Or, are they disciplined by you on the forefront of issues as well?

Do you recognize the Lord’s love through his discipline?

Are your children able to recognize your love through your discipline?

Love Through Discipline – part 1

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrew 12:3-11)

The Lord’s discipline can bring about a wide range of emotions in me. When I am not submitting to his discipline, I am easily angered and frustrated, but it should be no surprise that discipline brings tension and pressure even when welcomed. If we keep our eyes fixed on the fruit of discipline, acceptance will be much more our attitude.

Discipline and punishment are not the same word. Discipline is training (instruction and correction). Punishment is an inflicted penalty. We often confuse the two and even use the terms interchangeably.

We cloud God’s treatment of us and take his discipline as punishment. There may be no better way to enrage a son than for his identity to be warped into thinking he is being punished rather than disciplined. How great is the love of the Father that he would discipline us!

Parenting should change dramatically in light of this.

-Not that our training of them will bring comfort, but the point of discipline is to be built up and brought near.

-We are not to provoke them to anger but bring them up in the discipline of the Lord — discipleship is our highest order as parents (Ephesians 6:4).

-“Discipline is not revenge,” as pastor Cole Huffman recently pointed out when viewing the video of the father putting bullets in his daughter’s computer.

I am not always disciplining my children for their good. It is often for my own good or convenience. And, I often push them to discouragement. I can tell when their heads and shoulders drop from having not met my expectations. Not so with God. He not only disciplines for our good — that we might share in his holiness — but he also provides the encouragement for us to endure because the expectations have already been met in Christ.

Do not be discouraged in your discipline. The fact that God disciplines us because he loves us should provoke perseverance, transferring that same discipline through love to our children, aggravating that same endurance in them.

Do you view God’s discipline as punishment? Would you receive it differently if you saw it as instruction, training, correction?

Treasure The One — A Guest Post

You cannot be in the presence of Diane Butler without shedding many tears — some from laughing — some from crying.  But mostly, you will not leave her company without first hearing the impact Jesus has had on her life.  Diane is sharing a powerful story today of anger, control, forgiveness, mercy and redemption. I hope many are set free as we continue to address the fear of coming clean.

Here is her story:

There is a memory that continues to remind me of the power of forgiveness and the power God gives us to overcome sin in our lives — my precious little two-year-old (now 12) sitting on the toilet.  We were in the middle of potty training, and she would not “go potty.”  My heart breaks as I share this because it is not a proud moment.  I just wanted her to go potty; I just remember “losing it.”  I can see her little face looking at me as I screamed at her to “just go potty!”  I began to rant and rave at this little innocent bystander to my lack of control.  This pattern of anger continued for many years.  When I couldn’t get the response I wanted, no one wanted to be in my path.

How do we hurt someone we treasure so much?  The object of our heart must be Christ. If we don’t treasure the One who teaches us to love, the one we substitute in His place will take the wrath of our disappointment.

I loved my children so much, but they were having to do God’s job.  They were having to make me feel loved, valued, accepted, respected, and when they didn’t, I let them know.  It breaks my heart to think about it now. But what allows me to share is that I’m different; I have changed the object of my treasure.  My treasure is Jesus!  He has set me free from depending on my children to complete me, and I can’t even begin to explain how my home has changed.  No one walks on eggshells anymore.  My home is different, not because of something I did but because God poured out his great mercy and forgiveness through his Son, Jesus Christ.  I am different because someone else had been transformed by Jesus, shared their story and through it, God revealed my sin to me.

I had known Jesus my whole life, but I refused to give him everything.  I was enslaved to what I wanted, and they were good things, but they were not the prize of Jesus Himself.  Because I was a slave to my lifestyle and my “stuff,” everyone else paid when life wasn’t going well for me.  At the center of my story was ME, and what I finally understood was that God had to be the center of my story.  Now, when my children disappoint me, I remember it’s not about me.  When they make a bad choice, I remember it’s not about me.  When they bring home a bad grade, I remember it’s not about me.  I am free to love them, teach them, train them, but it is not my job to control.

I have a long way to go, and God has had to heal a lot of wounds in my children and me, but he is faithful.

The sin was easy to hide; it didn’t happen in public.

It was something I often wrote off as this is just who I am.

That was a lie.

I am so thankful God never gives up on us.  Don’t hide in the shame of your sin.  Bring it into the light so you can be who God says you are.

What lie is your sin holding you to?

Who/What is taking the wrath of your disappointment?