Are We There Yet?

The Ride

“Are we there yet,” especially when spoken in a whiny, impatient voice, often gets on a parent’s very last nerve.  We all want to be there already, right?!?  If it was up to me, I’d be able to snap my fingers and we’d magically be teleported to whatever our destination might be.  No traffic.  No long car rides.  No messy car snacks.  I don’t want to be sitting in a car with my children any more than they do.  But if we want to get to our destination, we have to buckle up and enjoy the ride the best we can.

I’ve noticed that I often ask myself, “are we there yet?” when trying to navigate through a particular season.  More often than not, it’s in regards to wondering when a difficult phase one of my boys is going through will be over.  When will we finally move past this?  When will he finally learn to do that on his own?  At what age can I expect him to…?  I’m always looking ahead to when things might be a little easier.

Changing Seasons

But what I’ve come to realize is that as soon as one phase is ending, another one begins.  It makes sense knowing that there’s not a break in between Spring and Summer and more often than not, one season does not just abruptly stop for a new season to  begin (unless you live somewhere like Wisconsin where winter seems to slap you in the face before you even see it coming).  Seasons flow into each other.  Temperatures gradually increase or decrease, flowers slowly bloom in Spring, leaves slowly change colors in fall, and suddenly the look of everything around you is different.

When our five year-old started kindergarten last month, we found ourselves in a new season with our 3 ½ year-old son now being the oldest at home every morning.  I had been so focused on sending our oldest to kindergarten that I forgot about how this change would affect the other boys at home.  It’s changed the way our sons play together while big brother is gone, it’s changed their responsibilities, and it’s changed the sibling dynamics.

It’s been wonderful in so many ways to watch the younger ones step-up in the absence of their brother!  But there have also been some challenges.  I’ve been recognizing new aspects of their personalities come out and trying to adjust how I parent to each of them.  I’ve had to ease up some of my expectations because they aren’t able to help me in the same ways my oldest was able to when he was home.

Becoming the Student

Personally, I find myself in a new season as well.  I’m trying to intentionally be a student of each of my children.  I’m constantly trying to find what makes each of them feel encouraged and empowered.  I’m learning what frustrates them and trying to avoid the things that exasperate them.  I’m working to find ways to help them overcome their obstacles and find solutions to their problems.  But wow, this is tough work!  It takes intentionality, patience, and desire.  Some days I’m lacking in those areas and find it easier to just parent them how I want to parent them.  And those days are rough because I quickly learn that my way is not what they need.

God’s Design

It’s a beautiful thing that God designed each of my boys so differently.  And I’m humbled that he chose me to be their mommy.  But He doesn’t reveal to me their unique personalities just to impress me.  He allows me to see what makes each of them tick and then equips me to love on each of them the way they best receive it.  And in the moments when I choose to listen, He tells me just what each of my boys needs to hear throughout the day.  These are the days I live for!  These are the days when I choose to not be lazy or wish away a particular season.  Instead, I embrace where we are in the moment and be the mommy God designed me to be for my boys. These days are so worth it, easy or not!

So while it’d be nice to have a break in between challenging seasons of life, maybe it’s better to breathe through it and cultivate a growth mindset in the areas God is calling us to mature.  Maybe it’s better to find ways to make the ride fun by singing, dancing, and playing through it so that our, “are we there yet?” turns into “we’re already there?”  Because before we know it, we’re going to stop and look around only to realize that everything looks a little different.

Let’s raise His Mighty Warriors TOGETHER!

Covering Our Students in Prayer

Back to school season is upon us.  For some parents, this has been a long time coming, while for others like myself, the thought of a new school year makes us feel sick to our stomach.

School started for us last Monday. My husband has been back full-time at the high school and my oldest began Kindergarten.  While it’s been nice getting back into a routine, it’s sad that summer seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye!

So how did Kindergarten drop-off go?  Well, the first day was perfect.  We went as a family to see our oldest off.  He was excited and didn’t shed a tear (I can’t say the same was true of myself).  When I went to pick him up that day, he ran over to me and shouted, “school is fun!”  This was music to my ears, but was it too good to be true?  Well, kind of.  The days since then have, overall, gone well.  He’s shed some tears at drop-off but later tells me that he stops crying after “one minute.”  I’ve asked him who or what  makes him feel better after my husband or I say goodbye.  Some days, he tells me Jesus makes him feel better and it melts my heart!  Other days, he tells me he feels better when he starts singing “Uptown Funk” to himself.  Whatever works, right?!

It’s been tough on me sending him to new school this year, but I’ve found so much peace in prayer.  Each morning, my husband and I pray with our son.  I pray with him before he leaves, and my husband prays with him in the car as they drive to school.  I also pray for him throughout the day and have shared with our son that whenever I think about him during the day, I say a prayer that he’s having fun and learning new things.  He loves hearing this!

As we dive into this new school year, I wanted to share some of the prayers I pray over my son:

  • I pray for his safety and the safety of all those who work at and attend the school.
  • I pray for peace among the students.
  • I pray for him to have confidence to make new friends.
  • I pray he has the courage to try new things and learn from his mistakes.
  • I pray he experiences joy in learning.
  • I pray he is diligent in his work and has the desire to focus.
  • I pray he is obedient to his teacher and others in authority.
  • I pray he is able to discern what is of the Lord and what is not of the Lord and that he has the will to choose what is right.
  • I pray that he glorifies the Lord in his words, actions, and thoughts.
  • I pray that he sees those who are scared, lonely, or sad and encourages them.
  • I pray that he is kind to others and that others are kind to him.
  • I pray that he knows his identity in the Lord and is not concerned about what others think of him.
  • I pray he stands up for those who are being bullied.
  • I pray he respects and appreciates others and their cultures, beliefs, and traditions.
  • I pray that he remains enthusiastic in his faith and that his belief never wavers.
  • I pray that he senses the presence of the Lord with him throughout the day.
  • I pray that he puts on the full Armor of God each morning: the belt of truth, the chest plate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit (from Ephesians 6:10-20).

In addition to these prayers for my son, I pray daily for the school, for the other students, and for the administration and staff.  I don’t have a specific prayer memorized and there are mornings when I forget to include a couple of these in my prayer.  However, I know that it gives me peace to have these words in my heart throughout the morning as my son is at school.  And I trust that these words will be imprinted on my son’s heart as he hears them repeatedly.

There are so many other things we can be specifically praying over our children for.  Let me know if there’s a prayer you include for your children.

For all of you who will be sending your children back to school in the coming days and weeks, please know my prayers are with you and your kids.  No matter if your children attend private, public, or homeschool, let’s cover them and those around them throughout the year!  They may not be in our hands during the school day, but we can take heart knowing that they are always in the precious hands of our Father!

Let’s raise His mighty warriors TOGETHER!

Practicing Contentment

It’s currently naptime and I was really debating whether or not I should take a nap myself.  Unfortunately, the days of all four boys napping at the same time are becoming fewer.  And while I love to get a quick catnap in to refresh myself for the rest of the day, I also enjoy the peace and quiet of a still house.  So today I’m choosing to unwind by writing.

It’s a Discipline

In different seasons, I have attempted to teach my boys what it means to be content. I’ve learned that this is a difficult concept for the boys to understand.  We’ve talked about being grateful for what we have and not always wanting more.  I’ve tried to teach them to slow down and not always wonder what we’re going to do next.  And we’ve discussed not being jealous about what others have.  It seems simple enough, but the discipline of contentment is tough for all of us and it’s one that needs to be practiced.

I think contentment is often confused with complacency or settling for less than what we desire or deserve.  But this thinking is so flawed.  Settling for something brings bitterness and disappointment, while contentment brings joy and peace.  Instead of drowning ourselves in despair because we are never going to have as much as this person or look as good as that person, we can have peace knowing that God is constantly working in us and through us.  Even, and especially, in those moments when He asks us to be still, the Lord is at work.  We can be confident in knowing that God has our best interest in mind even when we don’t see prosperity in our future.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

The Secular Influence

We live in a society where we always want the latest and greatest technology.  We want to go on vacations right now.  We compare what we have to what others have and become jealous and greedy.  It’s that ugly part inside all of us.  I think a lot of times it comes out in our insecurities and the desire to make up for what we lack.

But contentment is not about “playing a part” to make it look like we have everything together.  It’s not about giving up or quitting because we’ll never have what others have.  It’s quite the opposite!  Contentment is about realizing that this is what’s best for us RIGHT NOW.  It’s not about changing our dreams, but about adjusting our expectations.  It’s about realizing our purpose in this season.

Just Be Content

By teaching my sons to have the right attitude and perspective of what it means to be content, they can experience freedom to look forward to what’s next without being consumed by it. At 3 and 5 years-old, this means being content with the lunch they were given instead of asking for more.  It means that the moment we step in the door from playing outside, they resist the urge to ask what we’re going to do next.  It means accepting a “no” or a “not right now” for an answer without becoming upset or disappointed.  This is not an easy concept to teach them, but it’s one I choose to work on with them while they’re young because I know how much it will help them as they grow up.

Another way that I’ve found helps my boys understand contentment is by being intentional with the words and phrases I use around them.  When my oldest asks to go outside but it’s not a good time responding, “that’s a great idea and I’d love to take you outside, but right now I need to put the baby down for a nap,” is better accepted than, “no.”  Validating kid’s requests and desires is important as it teaches them how God values every one of our thoughts and desires.  It lets them know that they are being heard even if their request isn’t met.

Practice

Personally, I’ve gone through plenty of seasons of discontentment.  Some were shorter than others.  Coming out of those seasons is tough.  It ALWAYS happens not when all my desires were met, but when I change my attitude and allow myself to be still and trust God.  It’s when I choose joy and hope instead of despair.  It’s when I choose to live instead of sulk.  It’s when I pray and seek to find my purpose in the present.  And it’s when I choose to wipe off the smudges on my glasses that are clouding my view to experience life more vividly!  These are the lessons I hope to teach and model for my sons now.  By planting these seeds, my prayer is that they’ll practice this discipline daily and find freedom and joy in being content in the Lord.

Let’s raise His mighty warriors TOGETHER!

Parenting from the Deep End

I love summer!  I love that my husband has a few weeks off so we get to spend more time together as a family.  I love all the seasonal fruits and vegetables.  I love lounging by the pool, going to parks, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and wearing flip flops (although living in California, I get to wear flip flops year-round)!  And swimming has always been one of my favorite summer activities.

I grew up going to our family cottage as well as other beaches and spending all day in the water.  But now that I have kids, gone are the days of mindlessly floating in the middle of the lake for hours. Instead, I usually have one baby in my arms and I’m close by the others who are still learning how to swim. Pool days are a little less relaxing and a lot more splashing!

The Deep End

It’s actually the very picture that sums up my life these days.  As a mom, I’ve traded in my personal time and space for being called on at all hours of the day (and night) and being followed around by my littles.  My time has become their time, and that’s a tough inner-battle to fight.  I naturally want to give all of me to my husband and my children, but I also want to have enough left for myself.  And it’s not a selfish thing to desire, but often guilt creeps in and makes it feel as if it is!  If you’re like me, you know what I’m talking about.

But I can’t keep parenting from the deep end.  I can’t allow myself to constantly feel as though I’m treading water as I attempt to keep up with our busy schedule.

You know the feeling?  It’s exhausting having all your energy depleted as you make meals, do the dishes, grocery shop, keep up with laundry, make deadlines at work, schedule doctor appointments, plan birthday parties, respond to emails, return phone calls, save time to bathe the kids before bed, and so much more!  And yet, what joy, if any, are we experiencing if that’s what our days have become?  And even more, what joy are we sharing with our kids if all they see is the mom who has a strict agenda to keep?

I’m over here raising my hand right now because I know I am so guilty of this. I’m guilty of telling my son I’m looking at what he drew only to have my eyes on my phone.  I’m guilty of standing in the kitchen triple-checking my to-do list instead of spending time on the floor with my baby.  I’m guilty of turning the TV on for the boys so I can fold a load of laundry without little hands unfolding what I just finished folding.  I’m guilty of yelling more times than I’d like to admit in a day because I’m taking my feelings of being overwhelmed out on my sons.

I’m sure we all go through seasons like this.  And it’s so difficult to keep the guilt from turning to shame.  But we can’t let ourselves go there.  Allow yourself to have an off day, week, or season.  Recognize it for what it is, give yourself some grace, and move on.  But don’t let yourself get stuck in that place!  Lean on your mom, sisters, or friends to help you through those times so that you don’t allow those seasons to define who you are as a mother.

Plans Change

When we returned from vacation a few weeks ago, I found myself in one of those seasons.  I was trying to play catch up after being away for a few weeks, and my to-do list was growing by the second with grocery shopping, paying bills, and cleaning.  Emotionally, I was down after leaving family and I found myself being very short with my boys.  Unfortunately for them, my frustration was coming without much warning or explanation. At the end of the days, I was frustrated with myself for yelling throughout the day and not showing them much patience.

After sharing my frustrations with my husband, I decided I’d plan a fun day with them and not worry about my to-do list.  Originally, I had planned to take them to the mall for Build-A-Bear’s “Pay Your Age Day,” but because that was a bust (luckily a woman in the mall parking lot told me not to even bother going in because of the long lines), I let them pick out a park to go to instead.  Everyone was having fun at the park until I heard my two year-old crying going down the slide.  I picked him up and held him until he started to relax.  But when I went to set him down, he started crying even harder and wouldn’t put any weight on his injured leg.  I knew immediately something wasn’t right.  Long story short, the x-rays showed a spiral fracture in his leg and into a cast he went.

While having a toddler with a broken leg has created many challenges for our family, it’s also slowed us down.  And frankly, we needed that right now.  My husband is back at work, my oldest is about to start kindergarten, and we just needed to relax for a bit together and have fun!  I’m not celebrating the injury, but I am celebrating the opportunity to slow our lives down and refocus our priorities.  In these last 10 days, I’ve been able to snuggle with my two year-old so much!  I’ve been able to help the older two boys be creative in finding games and activities to play with their injured brother.  We’ve gone on more walks which is something I had been wanting to get back into.

Taking Hold of Him

Luckily it doesn’t always take something traumatic to pull us out of a rough season.  Sometimes it’s something we read or a conversation we have.  Other times it’s a song we hear or an event we experience.  But in each circumstance I am confident that God is the orchestrator.  He sees us in the seasons we are proud of as well as the seasons we feel guilty about.  He sees us losing energy, treading water in the deep end as we try to do it all alone.  And He throws us a float.  God gracefully offers us a way out so that we can stand on firm ground, confident in who we are as a mother.

When we allow God room to work in our heart, we can fully experience the joy that comes from resting in Him.  What better gift can we give our children than the gift of sharing the joy of the Lord with them?  This comes by giving them our full attention when we say we’re listening, by having a good attitude about playing with them even when the timing is not ideal, by using a kind tone when we speak to them, and by loving them through their own daily battles.

I find that on the days when I choose to seek the Lord’s joy throughout the day, my sons are better behaved, I feel more energized, and everything else falls into place.  It doesn’t mean the day is perfect or that my sons do no wrong.  But it helps me see everything through a new lens and, therefore, find the beauty and good in each circumstance.  I’m able to laugh more and love better.

A few years ago, someone shared this quote with me, “Let go of the day you planned and embrace the one you’ve been given.”  What a wonderful change in perspective not only for a particular day, but also for particular seasons of life that aren’t going quite as we envisioned! My prayer is that we can all recognize where we are in this season and make necessary changes to allow God’s joy to overflow in us and radiate to others!

Let’s raise His Mighty Warriors TOGETHER!

When I Grow Up

I’m Back

After taking a break from blogging while traveling with my family, I’m back! We returned last week, but it took me a while to settle back in and help the boys readjust as well. Remember those tantrums we talked about a few weeks ago?  Well after returning from a long vacation, they are at a high!  The whining, the bickering, and the tantrums have all led me to hand over the boys to my husband for a few minutes and find a quiet place (my bedroom) to steal away and write.

Every summer, we are blessed to be able to travel home to see my family in Wisconsin. We spend a few weeks at my parent’s house and catch up with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. These are some of my favorite weeks of the year, and I think my husband and sons would agree!

As lucky number 7 of 8 kids, I’ve always enjoyed being a part of a big family. I enjoy it even more now than I did when I was growing up, probably because I no longer live in the same house as my siblings. As an adult, I love watching my brothers as dads, I look forward to spending time with my sisters, I adore my in-laws, and I love catching up and playing with my nieces and nephews. Watching my sons interact with their cousins is amazing and priceless! I long for the day when we live closer to family so that they can spend more time with their cousins throughout the year!

But my favorite thing about going home, is being able to spend time with my parents and for the boys to have time with their Nana and Papa. It’s the best! They spoil us rotten and ensure we have the best vacation every single year. I could brag about my parents for days because they are some of the most generous and kind individuals I know.  They are generous with their time, their talents, and their resources. I cannot remember a time in my life when they weren’t intentionally seeking opportunities to serve others.

My Mom

After this most recent trip, I’ve decided that when I grow up, I want to be just like my mom. My dad is incredible too so this is not to say I don’t want to be like him. As my mom would say, “her compliment is not his insult!” And actually, growing up I remember telling people that I wanted to be my dad’s secretary some day so that I could work with him. But now as a mom, I want nothing more than to be just like my mom.

I call my mom almost every day, sometimes more than once in a day, and she never sounds annoyed or bothered. She listens to me complain and grumble about things, she counsels me when I need advice, she encourages me when I’m frustrated, she cheers me on when I’m doing something right, and most importantly, she prays for me! I didn’t realize how much I needed those prayers until I was an adult. I appreciate every single one of our phone calls and love that she’s willing to be my sounding board.

Not only do I want to be just like my mom as a mother, but I also hope to be just like my mom as a grandma someday! My mom goes out of her way to make countless special memories with her 17 and counting grandchildren. She takes them on fun “adventures,” lets them make messes they don’t have to clean, gives them Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast every morning, and takes them on night walks. They think she’s the coolest and I’d have a agree with her!

A Tradition of Values

It’s no secret where my mom gets these qualities from. She got it from her momma of course 😉 My grandma is equally as amazing as my mom and I’m so blessed to continue to spend time with her loving, witty self each summer. I feel so grateful that my grandma passed these values down to my mom and that her mom passed them down to her.  I’m grateful that I grew up with so many godly female role models in my life including these women as well as my other grandmother, my aunts, and my older sisters, sister-in-laws, and cousins.

The focus of my blog is to discuss ways to raise our sons and daughters to be mighty warriors.  Part of my passion for this topic comes from the gratitude I feel for the home I was raised in.  While I may or may not someday have a daughter to pass these lessons down to, I have four sons who I pray seek wives with these qualities.

So why do I want to be like my mom, my grandmas, my aunts, my sisters, and my cousins when I grow up? Because I want to share the love of Jesus in a kind, compassionate way. I want to pray for and encourage others, meeting them where they are in that moment. I want to be accepting of everyone and seek out opportunities to get to know others who aren’t like me. I want to be intentional in generously serving those around me. I want to listen intently to those who come to me to be heard. I want to put everything else aside to be in the moment with my family and love them fiercely. I want others who haven’t had the same experience as me as a daughter/granddaughter/niece/sister/cousin to know what it’s like to have a loving, caring cheerleader in every season of life.

Going Forward

My prayer is that I become more like these women every day.  I pray that my sons place value on these qualities as they (in the very far-off future) begin to date.  I pray that girls who do not have a female role model in their own home are able to find one in their community to lead them in His ways.  And I pray that I NEVER take for granted the beautiful women I’m surrounded by who have prepared me in my role as a wife and mother, especially my own mom!

And now, I’ll wait for a call from my mom saying how embarrassed she is that I posted all of this about her, because did I mention that she’s also incredibly humble?!? I love you, Mom!

Let’s raise His Mighty Warriors TOGETHER!

When the Nest is Attacked

The Story

A few weeks ago, I noticed a mother and a father bird building a nest in our pergola.  I had a front row seat to their cooperative effort as I watched from our kitchen window whenever I was doing the dishes.

Let me interrupt this story for a second to let you know that I prefer an empty sink after each meal.  This means that I either load the dishes into the dishwasher or hand-wash the non dishwasher-safe items (which I try to limit these days) after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It’s just my routine and I prefer not to step out of it.  I note this to relay that I spend a lot of time at the sink throughout my day.

Back to my story…

I found it endearing to watch the mother and father “nest” and couldn’t help but think about each time we prepared to welcome one of our sons into our family.  So much time is spent making sure our hearts and our home are prepped for a little one.

Once the nest was completed, the mother rested and laid the eggs and the father came and went to check in.  In the meantime, my sons and I affectionately named the birds.  I chose Harriet for the mommy and they picked T’Challa (after the superhero Black Panther) for the daddy.

Like a dream, the eggs hatched on Mother’s Day.  I’ll be honest and say that I was somewhat obsessed with checking in on the family at this point without bothering them.  Other than my husband grilling a few times, we stayed out of the backyard to give them their space.  Cute, right?!

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve watched Harriet care for her babies so gently.  She only left to find food to bring back to the nest, allowed her babies to nuzzle under her wings, and kept a watchful eye on anyone or anything that she saw as a threat.  Again, this scene consumed me a little more than I’d like to admit considering I’m not especially an animal person and usually don’t like to be too close in proximity to birds.  I even went as far as Googling questions I had about birds in general.  Ask my husband, I love to Google, but even this was a little extreme for me.

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Meet Harriet and her babies (who are camouflaged in there). Please excuse the poor quality of the photo. I didn’t want to get too close to the nest so I zoomed in quite a bit.

This morning as I was washing the breakfast dishes, I gazed and daydreamed about watching the mother release these little birds to fly off.  I wondered if she would ever see them again and if the siblings would stick together.  (Yes, I know I’m crazy at this point). It was all so sweet….

Until it wasn’t.  This evening when I was making dinner, I realized that the birds were gone and the nest didn’t seem intact.  And there was a stray cat in our backyard next to some feathers.  I didn’t shed a tear, but I was pretty angry with the cat, who we can all assume is the suspect in this disaster.

I no longer would be able to witness the baby birds learn how to fly or see their happily ever after. We gently told the boys what we think might have happened (they seemed more intrigued than sad), and went on with our night.

But I can’t stop thinking about it!

Attacks to our nest

So where am I going with this depressing story?  Well, unfortunately, we all experience attacks on our nests.  The focus of these attacks are on our marriages, on our parenting, and on our relationships with others.  The attacks come in the form of comparisons on social media, bullying, and insecurities.  They come from our discontentment in a world where the Jones’ always seem to be doing something bigger and better.  They come from advertisements and media that desensitize us to sex and violence.

Before we even bring our babies home from the hospital, we dream.  We dream about what it’s going to be like to have a new son or daughter.  We dream about who they are going to be friends with, where they will go to school, and what hobbies they will enjoy.  We dream about taking them on their first trip and introducing them to our favorite places.

When we finally bring them home, we realize that these dreams seem so distant.  Because in the present, we receive opinions from everyone and their best friend, spoken and unspoken.  We see what other parents are doing as we scroll through Facebook and Instagram and begin to feel inferior about the choices we are making.  Are we doing too much?  Are we not doing enough?  Are we becoming THAT mom?

My kids are still young, but already I have the fears of when they begin to be more influenced by their friends from school.  And don’t even talk to me about when they get to the age of having their own phone or social media accounts!  There is so much yuck out there for them to be exposed to!  (I already have lots of conversations with God about these concerns of mine so that He can be prepared for my crazy when these days arrive…and so that I can work on laying my worries at His feet in the meantime.)

And, like I mentioned, it’s not just our parent-child relationships being attacked.  It’s our marriages because we no longer make time for each other.  It’s our families because we spend so much time passing each other by on our way to and from activities.  Our priorities slowly shift over time and before we know it, we’re all just roommates!

Self-Defense

So how do we fight these pervasive battles?  How do we prevent our nests from being torn apart?

We begin by tuning out the opinions of the world and focusing on the opinion of One.  The One that matters.  The One who sees us trying our best on the little sleep we’re getting.  The One who knows the child we are dealing with because He created that child and chose us to be the parents.  The One who equips us with everything we need to care for our children.  And the One who gives us grace in every moment to reset.

We do this by surrounding ourselves with other parents who we respect.  We find and rely on our mom tribe for care and support.  We turn off the TV and put our phones down to enjoy a family game night.  We find a babysitter and schedule a date night, or have a date night at home after the kids go to bed.  We monitor what our children are watching.  We intentionally seek out relationships with people who will encourage us in our walk.  We equip ourselves with Scripture to intentionally fight the attacks.  And we pray…a lot!

It’s worth fighting for

Our homes are sacred.  Our marriages are sacred.  And this is exactly why they are being attacked.  Can we make a pact to fight together for our homes, our marriages, our families, and our relationships?   Instead of focusing on the agendas of the media, opinions of others, and the expectations of the world, can we promise to focus on what’s best for us and our families, seeking first His will for our lives?

Poor Harriet didn’t have a fighting chance once her nest was attacked because she was alone.  She did the best she could to care for her babies.  But luckily for us, we are not in this battle alone.  We have a sovereign Father who is with us every step of the way.  And we have others around us who want to help us protect our nests.  Take heart knowing that when we look to the Lord and do the best we can do with what we have, we’ll be just fine.

I’d love to hear from you on how you protect your nest.  I enjoy hearing your experiences and trying out new things in our home.

Let’s raise His Mighty Warriors TOGETHER!

A word on social media:

I love social media for many reasons.  Living so far from my extended family, it’s a great way to “stay in touch” with relatives and friends, sharing pictures and stories.

But I also try to be aware of when it’s affecting me negatively.  When I notice I’m starting to compare myself to others and discontentment is creeping in, I take a break.  I highly recommend doing the same if you notice those feelings in yourself.

Who, Me?

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Tantrums

Tantrums.  Can we talk about tantrums for a second? That moment when you say no to a snack ten minutes after your child finished eating their breakfast, and now their world is falling apart?  It’s literally crumbling before your eyes as your toddlers throws himself on the floor and begins the most pathetic scene, screaming and crying and making every weird noise known to man.

I’m very familiar with this drama.  I’d love to say I only see it from my almost two year-old, but I’d be lying.  More often than not, my three year-old and five year-old throw these fits and it’s just too much for me.

I’ll be honest

Now I am NOT a parenting expert, nor do I claim to be!  I do have a masters degree in psychology, but if I’m being honest, a lot of the theories I learned in my schooling get thrown out the window when I’m in the midst of a parenting battle.  Like many of you, I’m a mom who is trying to do my best to, along with my husband, to raise our boys to be men after God’s own heart.

Easy, right?!? Bring them to church, pray with them, read them stories from the Bible, and that’s that.  I wish!  Those things, while still important, are relatively easy to check off the list.  What I’ve found to be the hardest part, is teaching them through my own actions.

Sometimes, my kids hear me yell at them.  It’s not my best example of kindness.  Sometimes, they see me roll my eyes at my husband.  That’s not the way I want them to treat their future spouse.  It’s not uncommon for me to be “busy” doing something and only half-listening to something they are trying to tell me.  I definitely don’t want them to respond that way when God is speaking to them.  I could go on and on.

My point is, so often we look at how we can change our kids.  We seek to find the problem in them and search for a way to fix it.  I do it too.  I’ve spent hours reading parenting books and Googling answers on how to combat whining.  But what God always points me back to, is myself and my own heart.

Wait, what?

Ouch, that’s a tough one to swallow.  It’s tough because I need to be reminded of my own attitude and character every day.  Actually, many times each day!  How I respond to my children, how I speak to my husband, and how I interact with strangers all set the stage for how my sons are going to respond in situations.  I have little eyes and ears on me at all times and trust me, they are watching and absorbing everything!

Every once in a while, I’ll hear my oldest son say something in a tone that I know he heard from me.  It stings!  But, it’s a learning opportunity for both of us.

So where’s the hope?

The hope in all of this?  God’s grace.  Knowing that He will use all of my mistakes for His good gives me peace at night.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have to give my fair share of apologies to my boys throughout the day, but it does mean I can have peace knowing that God is with me through it all and directing my paths as well as my sons’ paths.

I recently read a prayer for parents in this book that not only asked God for grace when we fall short as a parent, but also that our children forget our harshness in those moments.  I loved this prayer because kids seem to remember EVERYTHING!

“I often find myself on my knees in my kids’ room after they’ve fallen asleep on a “yelling day.”  Not only do I ask forgiveness from God for mistreating the beautiful gifts He has given me, but I also pray that my kids will forget my harshness.  I know that it’s only by God’s grace that I’m a parent, and I have to rely on that grace every day” (Mary in Turansky and Miller, 2017).

Bringing it back to the kids

Some of you might be wondering about those tantrums and other difficult behavior kids demonstrate.  Does this make it all okay?  Absolutely not!  It doesn’t let them off the hook for their misbehavior or excuse their disobedience.  That’s not at all my point.  We most definitely need to address our children’s heart issues and disobedience.  But we also need to look at where they might be learning it from and make some changes.

Again, I’m not an expert on this topic.  I’m only five years into this parenting role.  But I enjoy sharing my experiences and what God continues to show me through it.  I’d love to hear from you on what lessons God has taught you through your kids!

As always, let’s raise His mighty warriors TOGETHER!

NOTE: I would highly recommend “Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…In You and Your Kids” by Scott Turansky, D. MIN and Joanne Miller, R.N., B.S.N..  The book is incredible and gives practical advice for changing bad habits in you and your kids. Check out the book here.

Turansky, S & Miller, J. (2017). Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…In you and Your Kids. New York: Waterbrook Press.