When Your Child Tells You He Wants To Be In Control Of His Life

“Mom, I have a very important question for you.”

I climbed in the bed, sitting as close as possible. Bedtime. The time they open up and want to talk about all the things.

“You know how I like freedom and independence right?”

I nodded. He continued, “Well, I wondered. Can I make all my own choices for my life from now on? Can I make my own decisions without you guys choosing for me?”

Because he was completely serious, I knew not to laugh or even chuckle. Anyway, I never want to belittle his ponderings.

“Well, Andrew, making choices and decisions for your life comes with great responsibility. It takes much practice and failure to learn.”

His question actually sparked an important conversation I hope he tucks away.

Andrew began to question why his 15 year old brother stays up so much later than him. Why he can’t choose his own bedtime. I explained that Jacob has established trust with us over the course of 15 years. He’s not perfect. He’s made mistakes. But he’s begun the habit of making wise choices. With wise choices comes greater freedom. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility.

“Andrew, you aren’t prepared to carry the load of responsibility that will come with so much freedom. Not yet. I believe one day you will. But we need some practice in smaller areas first.”

He nodded with a heavy sigh.

The following day, I shared the conversation with the older boys. I explained that Jacob has proven we don’t need to dictate a bedtime. He doesn’t misuse the freedom. I explained that when trust is built, it’s a beautiful thing. Freedom in the hands of someone who guards and protects how they walk that freedom out is lovely.

I believe it’s Dr. Kevin Lehman who never gave his kids curfews. He let them choose what they thought was acceptable and found they always came home earlier than he would have even required.

We all long for some breathing room.

Andrew was quiet for a moment. A moment is about as long as he can remain silent.

“Well, are there some choices I can make on my own at least?”

“Yes, I think we can come up with a few. Let’s spend some time thinking about it and discuss in a few days.”

Now I need to shift gears on you a bit. I can’t leave this post here and allow you to walk away thinking it’s merely parenting advice and a sweet story. God has been doing a very deep work in my heart lately. I can’t say I’ve handled it so well either.

But God in His kindness has allowed enough circumstances to press in on me to force me into a place of dealing with what’s easier to stuff in the the dark closets of my soul.

Shame lives in the dark. And it’s time I allowed His light to bring out areas I’ve never surrendered to Him.

Do you remember at the beginning of the year I shared how I didn’t want a word for the year but God gave me one anyway? It was surrender.

You see, Andrew asked a question that if I’m honest, I hold in my heart as well. And maybe you do too? I can resist God when I fight to maintain control. When I have to have my way. When I want to essentially be in control of my own life.

It’s pride. And the thing about pride is that is has so many faces.

I did something that was harder than I realized it would be. I made an appointment with a christian counselor. It is something I’ve felt God nudging me to do for a very long time. But I’ve become a master at telling myself everything’s good and I’m fine. To make that call, I had to admit that I’m actually not fine. I’m not ok.

But maybe it’s ok to not be ok? I’ve spent my life being dictated by an inner perfectionist, even as a child of God. I’ve felt a need to have everything right. And when it’s not right the controller inside me kicks in to make it all right. And then I leave no room for the Holy Spirit because I’m elbowing Him out of the way.

Man. What a gracious God we serve! So good beyond what we fathom. So patient. So kind.

The very day Andrew posed this question, I found out Steve and I would be teaching a lesson on pride vs humility to the kindergarten thru 5th graders at church. I laughed. This is so like God. The very thing He has been trying to refine from my heart is the very thing I’m going to have to teach on?

God didn’t place me in the role of teaching because I’ve figured out how to walk in humility. Nope. It’s so I can lower myself to student and learn. Surrender. Let Him teach me.

Lastly, He told me to get down. Literally, physically lower my physical body. On my knees, on my belly. Get low.

Humble myself before Him. Surrender fully to Him.

Lord, thank you that you love us too much to leave us in our selfish pride and arrogance. Thank you that you will go to extreme measures to shape and mold us into the vessel You desire. We open our hands to You in surrender. We love you, Lord.

 

Scrolling through life – Are we living distracted by screens or focused on life?

Living distracted by screens?

I sat behind this family. A pre-teenish aged girl, head down except for brief moments coming up for air, or rather, back into real life. Head back down.

Scroll.

Scroll.

Scroll.

I struggled to disengage following her phone habits. Her distraction from life around us was totally distracting me. The thing is, this is the norm for many teens today. But let’s be fair. The struggle is real for us adults as well.

When she engaged in real life, she complained to her parents about being bored. When she was bored, she picked up her phone.

Scroll.

She bounced from one social media platform to the next.

This isn’t unique to this girl. It’s all of us. It’s me too.

How often do I reach for my phone out of boredom, looking for that next hit of entertainment or distraction?

How often do I reach for my phone for the high of escape?

When I don’t feel like listening to one more complaint or argument, I pick it up.

Scroll.

When I feel awkward waiting for a friend to meet me, I pick it up.

Scroll.

We watched an entire family sitting at a table at a restaurant never looking up until the food arrived. 2 parents, 4 kids – scrolling through life. Missing the life of each other right before their eyes.

What stories went untold? What laughs never broke free? What impact or influence never passed one to another?

Real life vs fake offering

So much life missed trying to stay up on the fake life a screen offers.

We are missing the best and accepting the counterfeit.

This is nothing new.

‘When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”’

Exodus 32:1

They were tired of waiting, so they reached for the counterfeit.

They chose fake over real. They chose immediate gratification over lifelong satisfaction.

The very next verse shocks me.

‘Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’

Exodus 32:2-5

Aaron so quickly went along with the people and not only joined the masses but led them in their rebellious desires.

We do too.

We know we are trading real life, real connection for the false idol. Yet, we follow. We accept what never satisfies.

As we scroll through life, we are indulging our flesh. We indulge our desire to be entertained. We’ve created our modern day golden calf. We worship at the altar of our screens.

We have a choice to make.

These screens we scroll through will never give us what we truly crave. It’s like eating a diet of candy. Over time we will become sick.

I believe at various times God brings us enlightenment and we have a choice in what to do. We can continue down a path or make corrections.

When we find our scroll is invading our life, maybe a break is what is needed.  A fast in order to refocus our attention and reclaim the moments we’ve been missing.

Focused on Life?

There have been moments that happened I’ve looked back on and thought, “If I’d been buried in a screen, I would’ve miss that completely.” At the same time, I know for a fact I’ve missed countless moments as I’ve lived distracted by the scroll of my phone. I’ll never know what I missed. But I have a choice in each moment to claim it or let it pass.

I want to live a life full of beautiful moments. I want to have relationships that can stand the test of time and life. I want to create memories we can talk about around the table in 20 years.

Living an intentional life means looking ahead at what we desire and choosing today the steps we need to take in order to arrive.

It’s looking ahead and deciding what we want our Thanksgiving table in 20 years to look like and realizing it takes action today to achieve that. Meaningful relationships and moments take nurturing.

Intentional living is living life on purpose rather than scrolling through life mindlessly.

What are we nurturing today?

If you’ve followed along here for some time you know I’m passionate about guarding our families from screen intrusions. When I started writing online my goal was to encourage others to live an intentional life. Ironically, this was before screens were at play. It didn’t take long for screens to begin to dominate in homes and I’m determined to keep preaching this message.

The first post I wrote on this subject circulated into millions of homes. I received messages from parents who felt alone in their desire to raise children who could live with heads up and eyes ahead focused on life. They realized they aren’t alone. If you’d like to read that post you can find it here A Letter to My Sons – The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics.

You can can find other posts I’ve written on this topic by clicking here.

And if you aren’t subscribed to receive posts via email, click here. I rarely post more than once a week and promise never to spam you. I count it a privilege to encourage and inspire you to live an intentional life.

 

 

 

 

 

How to control screens in your home so they don’t control your family

When I began writing about limiting screens in our family, I was surprised to discover I wasn’t alone. It seemed many of us felt the encroachment of electronics in our homes and were searching for ways to protect our time and our hearts.

One common comment I heard, and still hear, is along these lines.

I wish my kids played outside more.

I wish my kids liked to read.

I wish I could get my kids off the screen more.

I wish…..

What do you wish for your family regarding screens?

The parents who make these comments genuinely mean what they said. I hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes. They truly feel at a loss and in need of ideas, help, or direction.

Over the years, I’ve spent much time talking, reading, and listening to families on this topic.

Two things to consider in taking control of the screen issue:

  • It starts with the culture we create in our homes.
  • It starts with starting with the end in mind.

Set the Home Culture

When we moved to Nebraska and visited our church for the first time, we immediately sensed the unique culture. Over the next several weeks, we saw it was a church that had a deeply established culture of servanthood and self-feeders. The congregation didn’t show up to be served and spoon fed the Word. They showed up eager to jump in and serve. And they showed up with their Bibles having spent the week studying the Word on their own and in groups.

It started with the leadership of the church. These were values important to the leaders. They modeled and lived out the culture they wanted to create.

In a similar way, we as parents are leaders in our homes and have the unique opportunity to create a family culture. In order to do this effectively, we can’t be concerned with what “everyone else” is doing. We have to keep our eyes in our own lane. Where do we want to drive our family?

How to limit screen time

In our home we never had the tv on in the background, and we never allowed our kids to simply turn on the tv whenever they felt like it. The same holds true for gaming devices or any screen for that matter.

We have a time and place for screens. We control screens so they don’t control our family.

When our kids were small, we had dedicated tv time. From the beginning screens functioned within boundaries set by us, the parents. As the parent, this is our role to set and monitor these boundaries. We didn’t hand this over to the children because children don’t know what is best for them. Two hours on a device is like 5 minutes to a child.

As our kids grew older, those boundaries remained. They earned more time and greater freedom with age and responsibility, but our family culture remains today the way we created it all those years ago.

Start with the end in mind.

It was highly important to me to have teenagers who wanted to hang around us, who were respectful and kind, and who didn’t live in their own selfish worlds. It’s impossible to one day mold a teenager when they are 13 into what we hope they will be. Instead we begin the day they are born. We spend time with them, we pour love into them, we teach, mold, and develop for years.

With screens, because they can be so invasive in the home, we begin with the end in mind.

If I want a teenager who lives connected to our family more than a device, then I’m careful when he’s a baby or toddler not to put a screen in his hand as a babysitter. What we do in the beginning sets patterns for later.

At the same time, it’s never too late to start again. To create new boundaries and communicate your love and commitment to your family.

If I want a teenager who isn’t completely selfish, I don’t as a baby give him a screen to calm him down or get him to do what I want as we go through our day. I don’t give him a screen so I can do what I want.

It’s hard, it’s sacrificial. It’s a long haul view for sure. But it is so very worth the time and energy it requires of us as parents.

Now when parents tell me the greatest struggle is getting their kids off the screens, I ask them if they allow screens to be turned on without parent permission. I know that if from the beginning we had allowed our kids to turn on the tv or play a gaming device whenever they felt like it, that is all they would want to do to this day. They would have never chosen to play outside or read a book. But screens weren’t an option to turn on whenever they felt like it.

We grow what we feed our appetites.

If our kids feed on screens, their appetites for screens grows. Same for us as adults.

Screens must live within the family’s boundaries. If not, screens will attempt a takeover of the family, and before long, it will feel like screens are in charge.

There is hope. There really is!

Over the years I’ve received my fair share of ugly emails from people telling me how my kids will end up hating me one day. How they will feel excluded and left out. I believe this is a fear many parents have. Often we cave to our fears and begin to allow screens to rule.

When kids understand the why and the heart behind the why, they get it.

From the beginning we discussed the issues and dangers of allowing screens to dominate our lives. We discussed the heart issues. Most importantly, we focused on building the relationship. As Josh McDowell wisely says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” Build the relationship.

Our kids understand we are for them not against them. As a family, we are on the same team. We are Team Robinson.

The issue runs deeper than many parents have yet to consider. It’s deeply spiritual. When we place screens within protective boundaries, we are training our kids to master the cravings of the flesh rather than live slave to their flesh.

One argument is to give the kids all the screen time they want so they can learn to handle it.

Well, they can’t. Instead they will often find themselves bound to it.

We don’t place before a toddler a bounty of vegetables and candy and say, “They need to know how to handle this on their own.” No, we know what they would choose.

Over time, they would lose all taste for vegetables and find themselves highly sugar addicted. And we all know the spiral of the sugar crash in a child.

Screens are addictive. When our children are in their growing and forming years, it’s our job to protect their hearts and their minds. To teach them what is best for them.

My middle son leans more toward being a spender over a saver. When he was much younger, if he had $5 for 5 minutes that was a miracle. Money in his hand didn’t remain long. He was very impulsive too. We’d go into a store, and if he had money, he’d suddenly find something he thought he had to have.

For awhile I let him try to control his own spending. I told myself it was his money and the best way to learn is the hard way. But I began to see something quite sad take shape. He couldn’t control himself. No matter how many hard lessons, he didn’t seem to learn. In fact, the struggle only became more difficult for him.

He would feel guilt and shame over his choices. He’d be filled with sadness and regret. He saw all the lessons, but he felt powerless in the moment of decision to make the right choice.

Parents, this is so often what happens to our kids when we let them control their screen time. What takes form in their hearts is damaging over time.

So Zachary and I worked together on his spending. We discussed the heart issues. We discussed how this is a small issue now but at 20, it would be a bigger issue. He trusted me and knew I wanted to help him.

So when we went to stores, even though it was “his money”, I no longer allowed him to spend the money impulsively. If we hadn’t planned for it, we didn’t purchase it. He would leave without spending the money and spend a week thinking about it.

You know what happened? When the chemical rush wore off, he never went back to the store for those purchases.

We’ve spent years doing this with him now. He is gaining greater control by allowing us to help him by placing boundaries around his spending.

This applies to screens with our kids. They often simply can’t see what is best for them. They may not know they need us to place those boundaries, but they do.

They will never choose today based on what’s best for them in 20 years. They can’t possibly because they don’t have an adult brain yet.

This is our role as parents. It is loving and kind to place screens within our limits. When kids understand the why behind what we do, they may not love it initially, but they respect it. And over time, you may be surprised when they thank you for placing those limits around them.

I have written for the last 5 years on this topic. It’s a passion of mine because I want to see deeply connected families thriving. If you want to read more, simply choose Categories, Electronics from the Blog page or click here.

If you’d like to receive posts via email, simply click here. Bonus – you will receive some fun free downloads that will help you connect with your kids!

How to Help Your Kids Screen Less and Read More – A Free Gift!

If you are already a blog subscriber, you have read what I’m sharing today. Share this with your friends you think would love it too!

For those of you who don’t receive my emails, I have a free gift for you today I think you will love!

Read ‘em & Reap – the rewards that is

A free gift for you to encourage summer reading in your kids

Take this little quiz

  1. Would you love to walk into the room and find your kids reading? Without being asked??
  2. Do you want to limit screens without constantly telling them to put the screens down?
  3. Do you dread hearing “Mom, I’m bored!”
  4. Are you wondering how you will fill all the live-long summer hours?
  5. Would you love your child to become more compassionate, empathetic, and kind?
  6. Do you want to sneak in some learning that will actually be fun?
  7. Do you want to watch your kids have fun doing something that is incredibly good and enriching for them?
  8. Do you want some peace and quiet in your home?

Ok, if you answered yes to most of these questions, I have something we are doing in our home that is a ton of fun.

Our library summer reading program began a bit early for us and the prizes were so good my kids began reading for hours at a time. I’m not kidding.

This happens for us every single summer. School’s out, they read, they earn the prize at the library, then the reading tapers off.

My middle son, Zachary, gave me a great idea. “Mom, what if you make us prize packs for every 10 hours we read beyond the library time. I’m loving this and it will keep me reading all summer long.”

I thought it was a fabulous idea. So I did just that. I created what I called a ‘Big 10 Prize Pack.’

Within 2 weeks, Zachary logged in 20 hours of reading. (BTW audiobooks count too!) So I had to get to work fast. What I came up with had him so excited I realized I had to share it with you.

I’ve created a pdf download for you to create your own Big 10 Prize Pack. Keep it simple. Use them all in one pack or just a couple at a time.

Here’s a little video.

 

Grab your free download now by entering your email address here!

 

 

 

Happy summer reading! Here’s to many quiet hours in your home this summer!!

Grab your free download before leaving!

And if you are in need of a little bag for your books, check out the shop!

Create an intentional summer the easy way – some of my favorite summer posts on life, memories, traditions, and experiences

Summer time is my favorite time. Summer is easy if we let it be easy. Spend much time on Pinterest and you will feel like you must create amazing systems, schedules, and creative experiences. But just let all that roll by you and embrace the beauty of a simple summer.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite summer posts over the last several years. Here’s links for a few of them.

We Only Have 18 Summers

“I’ve said it before – Lord willing, we only get 18 summers with our children. That’s it. 18 summers.

I do believe that living intentionally allows us to move from stage to stage with a deeper sense of satisfaction. There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing we chose to live fully in the moments. Doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but we can at least look back with fewer regrets over how we spent our time.”

Summer is for simple moments

Summer doesn’t have to be complicated with filled with expensive bucket list items.

Summer is for taking back time.
Summer is for championing for our families and friends. For cheering and celebrating life.
Summer is for friends. Summer is for simply investing in life-giving relationships.
Summer is for simple moments.
Summer is for slowing down and simply being.
Like all of life, summer is a gift.

Mission Mondays – A Summer Tradition

Sometimes summer can turn into a time of “all about us”. We become so focused on creating a summer to remember for our kids, we fail to remember one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is create hearts of compassion that care more about others than themselves.

Blackberry Moments (P.S. This was one of my very first blog posts when my blog turned from simply a family yearbook to an intentional ministry. While the writing has changed over time, the heart of this post remains one of my all time favorites.)

“To grab the moments, we must be available. Life needs to be a little less complicated, a little less distracted, a little less busy. Buffers of time must exist in order to capture the moments that sometimes crop up unexpectedly, without warning.

We have one chance to paint a beautiful life. Lord willing, the day will come when we have more time on our hands than we know how to fill. Our houses will be quieted. Our homes will look the same way at 7 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm. Because there will be no block towers built, no army scenes created, no pillow forts constructed, and no sword fights fought.”

Don’t Blink, Then I Blinked

#dontblink – a common hashtag when celebrating graduations, birthdays, a new school year, or a life change.

#theniblinked -it’s like a sudden realization that time actually does move at a pace that is frighteningly slow in real time yet megafast in the replay.

One day we are wiping smashed peas off chubby cheeks, then we seem to blink as we watch that same child wiping milk from our new grandbaby’s mouth.

Each blink is a gift full of opportunity. How do we blink through life without missing a moment?

What if we never stopped playing?

I have to work to play. Work comes easy. Play – not so much.

My kids want me in the pool with them. On the basketball court. Not on the sidelines.

I’ve come to a new conclusion on play. Play is important no matter our age. In fact, maybe play is even more important for grown ups than it is for kids.

Maybe if we played more, we’d snap less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d grumble less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d let the little things go with ease.

Maybe if we played more, we’d sleep sounder.

Maybe if we played more, we’d laugh harder and linger longer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d listen closer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d love more intensely.

Maybe if we played more, we’d rekindle what’s dwindled.

How Not To Waste A Life

I’m living my life fully spent. I’m not saving an ounce for the future because I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Each day I’m falling into bed exhausted with nothing left to give, yet sleeping with complete peace knowing I’m exerting every ounce exactly where He has me right now.

It’s a different kind of exhaustion, the kind that comes not from overcommitting or trying to do everything placed before me. It’s the kind of exhaustion from living fully right here.

I’m trading in being a saver of life so I can savor life.

 

Ok- so creating this post for you today was more for me than I realized. That is typically how God works in me through my writing. I sit down wanting to minister to you and serve you. But when I’m done, I feel God has given me an incredible gift. I stopped after 7 posts.

I don’t intend you to sit and read them all in one sitting. Save today’s post and read one or two a day. Let the Lord move you in the direction of intentional simplicity. Living life to the fullest. Life is a beautiful journey. Each moment is unique and will never exist again in the same exact way. Embrace and live.

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve created a tool to help you simply sit with Jesus. There’s a sweet joy in letting go of the frantic pace of life for 10 sweet minutes to sit at His feet. I tend to be more like Martha than Mary, working more than sitting. Jesus loved Mary’s offering.God is inviting you to simply sit at His feet. You don’t need a book, or a group, or an extra night carved out of your schedule. You simply need an email address.

When you order Illuminate, it will arrive quietly into your inbox. It will patiently wait on you. And when you listen, God will speak to you. I’ve prayed for your time with Him as you allow Illuminate to help you to focus your heart and mind simply on God, the lover of your soul.

It’s $10. It’s yours forever. It would make a sweet gift to someone the Lord brings to your mind who could use some encouragement and reminders of who loves them with a reckless love. Click the picture for more information.

audio devotional

 

 

 

 

13 Ways We Can Protect Our Families Online Beyond Filters and Privacy Settings

Several years ago I received an email from a blog reader in response to a post I’d written regarding technology and our children.

Turns out she is a writer too. Both of us had a passion for our faith, families, and intentional living. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Eryn’s heart shared through her blog. And now her debut book releases to the world. You will want to grab a copy.

I’m honored to have Eryn sharing her words and heart with us here today.

 

Guest post by Eryn Lynum for Renee Robinson

 

“Mom, she has a phone.” My six-year-old’s words gingerly broke into our dinner conversation. Although phones and technology are not a big discussion point in our home yet, with four children under the age of seven, he seemed to know that the topic holds weight. He continued carefully, “When will I be old enough to have a phone? When I’m ten?”

He was gazing out our back window to the next yard over, where the neighbor girl sat with her face aglow in the light of her cellphone.

“Well, Bud, it won’t be for quite a while, and not until Dad and I can teach you how to use it right. Phones can be dangerous.”

After offering him a light, two-minute spiel on how we can easily use a phone too much, including the confession that Daddy and I often fall into that trap ourselves, we moved on, but his question lingered in my mind.

Lately I have been thinking on a broader spectrum when it comes to my family’s safety regarding technology. My thoughts have welled over from concerns over my kids eventually holding smartphones in their own hands, to how I can protect them right now, through being intentional with what I myself post online. These concerns stem from a question I am asked on occasion: “Do you feel safe with posting photos and stories of your kids online?”

As a blogger and author, I share my family’s everyday antics with my readers, and by default the broader internet world. But when I hit “Publish”, it is not by default at all. Never do I hit publish without careful hesitation. It began at a writers’ conference a few years ago, while I was sitting under the teaching of one of my favorite authors as she spoke on the topic of memoir writing. One of her points struck me deeply, and it was this:

We must honor those in our story.

This is not only true for writers, of course. We are all living out our own stories, and sharing much of them with the online world. The characters in our stories happen to be those very dear to us.

In my case, my children can, in twenty years from now, pick my book up off the shelf and read very real stories of themselves as children. And so I must ask myself now, do I honor them? Do I respect them? Do I give them a good name? Do I protect them?

If we want to be intentional with our use of technology and in our families, then we all must ask these same questions as we share our photos, thoughts, every day antics, and stories on social media. We are not only telling our story, we are telling our family’s story. Won’t it be wonderful one day when our grown children respect us because we chose first to respect and protect them?

Here are three areas, above and beyond internet filters and privacy settings, where I believe we need to protect our children when it comes to technology.

Protecting their safety by:

  • Not posting photos of children in underwear or diapers (no matter how young)
  • Not posting bathtub photos, even if everything is covered up
  • Not posting photos that give away specific location details (we go so far as no house numbers, or places we visit or attend regularly)
  • We can also protect and respect other families by asking friends’ permission before we post photos that include their children, say, at a play date or birthday party.

Respecting our family and honoring our children by:

  • Not sharing stories that disrespect our child, or paint them in a distasteful light
  • Not sharing stories of their misbehavior without any redeeming qualities (I.E. Just to talk about how bad they are being…)
  • Not writing unkindly of someone in our family, near or far
  • Watching sarcasm. There is always a bit of truth in what is said (or written) with a sarcastic tone.

Modeling that tech is a tool, not a master

  • Modeling to them when to set the phone down. People in front of you are ALWAYS more important.
  • Teaching them that in the often dark online world, it can be good to share the beautiful pieces of life—but only to the extent that we don’t begin missing those beautiful moments themselves because our face is buried in a device.
  • Asking our child’s forgiveness now whenever we find ourselves too preoccupied with our technology
  • Helping them understand that giving technology its proper place in life will always be a struggle, but one worth fighting for.
  • Helping our children to fall in love with nature and the beautiful things of life that technology, in many ways, will never be able to replace.

Although it feels quite far away, before I know it, my son will hold his own smartphone for the first time. I pray that in that moment, my heart will not constrict with fear. Rather, I pray that I will stand confident in the lessons we prepared him with for that responsibility.

I pray that years from now looking back, I will know that we protected our family through small, intentional decisions. Tiny shifts in our own behavior, attitudes, and words hold magnificent power. This battle begins in our own hands, and what we choose to fill, or not fill them with. Let’s choose well today, for the sake of our child’s tomorrow.

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Eryn Lynum is author of the book 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and four children, where they spend their time hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches, and writers’ groups. But every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family, and sharing the journey at www.936Pennies.com

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How to solve impossible problems and situations

“I can’t do it. I’m so frustrated. I’m not good at this.”

“You can do it. Just take a deep breath.”

“Every time I try to solve it, I get it wrong.”

I can relate.

I sat on the edge of my son’s bed, peering over his shoulder at the math lesson on the screen.

He had worked and re-worked the problem only to come up with wrong answer after wrong answer.

I know the feeling. I bet you do too. How often have you faced a situation you have attempted to solve to no avail.  You begin to hear the taunting whispers that you’ll never get it, clothing your soul with fear and frustration.

I looked at the problem facing my son from a different viewpoint. I stood at the top of the hill looking down into the valley. I spotted the cleared trails and paths leading to the place he needed to go.

He stood down in that valley, right in the cluster of tall, tangled weeds. He couldn’t see the path because he was on the same level ground of the path he sought.

“Ok, listen. I see exactly what you need to do. I need you to start by taking a deep breath. Then take a step back. You need a new viewpoint.”

He shot a quick, questioning glance my way.

I watched his shoulders release the clutches of fear and frustration. I heard the held air leave his lungs.

“Ok, now step back. You need a wider view. Ask yourself this question – what is this problem asking me to do? You see, you are jumping to trying to solve, but you are missing the big picture. What is it even asking you to do from a big picture view? What is the logical path to get there?”

When I realized I had his attention, I continued.

“It’s actually easier than you realize. You approached it with a negative attitude, assuming the problem was out to get you and you would never get it right. But if you approach with a different attitude and a broader mindset, you might be surprised to find the answer was right in front of you the entire time.”

I tossed out a question. He answered. I tossed another. He answered. Each question served as the stakes tossed to mark his trail.

He arrived at the answer with no fighting or clawing. It was there in all its simple glory.

The next day a similar problem awaited him. It was the same type of problem, only it was asked with a slight variation. I watched as he began to march into the tangled weeds. It’s the way most familiar to him. He called out to me. I stood by his side.

“Remember, take that wide angle view. Switch lenses. Step back.”

He followed my guidance. I watched him climb out of the choking weeds and make his way to to the top of the hill.

I never said another word. I simply reminded him to choose the right view first.

He solved the problem.

For the next several days, I watched him reminded of the days he took his first tottering steps, unsure of his newfound skill. I remember those steps clearly. With each step, his smile grew. He’d glance back for reassurance. I’d smile back. You can do it, my smile prompted him. I’m right here to catch you when you fall.

Don’t fear the fall. I’ll help you up. Each fall brings you one step closer to your next steady step. I love you. I love you. I love you.

After a few days of my son calling out to me to guide him through these types of math problems, he realized he actually could do it. It took practice. Each one became easier. The answer was always right in front of him. He only needed to look through a wide angle lens rather than a zoom lens.

“Mom, can you come here. I think I need help.”

“I think you’ve got it, buddy.”

He got to work. I watched him take it step by step.

“It’s weird. Sometimes you don’t even need to say anything, but just your presence helps me. I wish I could do all my math problems with you by my side. I feel like I’d get them all right.”

His words hit my soul in the most healing of ways. God’s Presence is my good. His Presence is sometimes the only thing I need.

But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.

Psalm 73:28

When we stand in our impossible problems, we forget God stands high above us, yet right beside us at the same time. He has the wider view.

To solve my impossible situations and problems, I simply need to call out to Him. I need to seek Him. Sometimes He will guide me step by step and show me paths I couldn’t see on my own. But sometimes His Presence is the only thing I truly need. I just need the reminder that He sees me, He loves me, He is for me not against me. He is my everything.

He calmly caresses my back as He whispers, “Daughter, I’m here. I’m your refuge. All you need is me. I’ll guide you. I’ll care for you. When you fall on the path, don’t be afraid of the fall. I’ll be here to lift you up. I’ll wipe the dirt from your knees. I’ll bandage your wounds. Let me care for you, for I’m tender and gentle. Let your tears fall. I collect them in a bottle. I have numbered the very hairs on your head. You are my great treasure. Just seek my Presence, and together we will walk.”