Let Your Kids Be Disappointed – It’s Real Life

How do any of us grow? By walking through circumstances that require it. As a young mom, I lacked patience with my kids. I was quick to snap. After praying for patience, God called me to homeschool. Years of day in and day out trying my patience, and I see growth in that area. It’s been H.A.R.D.

Growth is a process filled with growing pains. As parents we have a role to help our kids grow. This is the opposite of setting them up for an amazing, success-filled, perfect, Disney World like life. I fear many parents in today’s culture are trying to create an amazing life for their kids rather than prepare kids who can function in a harsh and often cruel world.

Raising strong kids

As parents we want to raise strong kids. We want them to be able to withstand the storms life will bring them. We’ve heard the saying, “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.” Are we doing that?

There’s a trend in parenting of cleaning the road of all obstacles so the child doesn’t trip, and when they do, mom and dad swoop in to make it all right.

When we hear of a kid being mean to our kid, we jump in and work out the problem for them. When a teacher gives a low grade on a paper, mom and dad email the teacher wanting answers. When the teen didn’t get the job, mom and dad call the employer. When our kid is cut from the team, we demand answers and work to fix it.

Yes, we should advocate for our kids, but at the same time, there are times we need to step back and see how they move forward. We can advise and guide them. We don’t want to raise victims who look at life as always being against them. We want to raise adults who realize life is hard, but with the grace of God we can manage hard things well.

As a parent, when our child faces disappointment, we have an opportunity to empathize, while pointing them to Jesus.

We are raising adults

We have a job to raise adults. As adults we face losses, unfair circumstances, disappointments, and failures. This is life. What’s important is how we handle them when they come. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

In 2010 Steve and I vacationed in Hawaii to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Awakened at 5:00am by the report of an earthquake in Chile, which would result in a Tsunami in Hawaii, I went into full melt down mode. The message I received was one of imminent death by drowning. I’ll never forget the words of the news anchor, “It’s not a matter of if, but one of when and how bad.” I’m embarrassed to say, I did not handle our situation well at all.

As a mom, I want my kids to grow into adults who understand that life brings hard moments. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how bad. I want them prepared to handle it by the grace of God.

We are not their Savior

A few weeks ago Andrew texted me from school. He was having some difficult interactions, which led to him feeling sad and wanting to leave school. We’d talked through these issues before. As the texts increased I realized he was looking to me to be his rescuer.

Our role is not to be our child’s Rescuer or Savior, but to point them to the One who is.

My mama instinct was to swoop in, bring him home, comfort him, and make it all right. But this would only help him in the short term. One day mama won’t be there to make it all better. However, there is One who will always be with us and will never ever leave or forsake us.

I responded to his text, “You can’t leave school. Pray. God will help you. I will pray too.” And I did. I prayed and prayed. His text later let me know he felt much better.

Our children need God more than they need a mom and dad to solve all their problems. Yes, we have a high calling to comfort, protect, nurture, advocate, and help. But we are not their end all answer, or at least we shouldn’t be.

Children and teens need to learn to have their own faith, not an extension of our faith. My faith can’t hold my kids up. It has to be their own. It has to be real and genuine. Real faith usually develops out of necessity. I’ve decided I’m ok with my kids experiencing hard times so they can learn to grow in their faith.

When Disappointment Comes

I took a trip to Florida recently. I wanted to take Andrew with me, but he had his first baseball game. The day of the game the weather called for rain. I began praying it wouldn’t rain. I mean PRAYING. The thought of Andrew’s disappointment over not going to Florida with me because of a game that wasn’t played bothered me more than it should have.

I took a step back. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Plain and simple. I wanted him to have everything go the way it “should” go. But that is not reality. That is not real life.

Rather than praying away possible disappointments, I should pray my child has a strong enough faith to turn those disappointments over to Jesus, the one who cares about every hurt we face and comforts us when no one else is there.

The real role of parents

The pressure of culture today in our see all social media world is to present a picture perfect picture of our kids and our family. If our kids fail, what does it say about me as a mom? Did I fail too? If they make bad grades, does it mean I am a failure because I didn’t support them enough? If they don’t make the team, did I fail to get them the help they needed?

I believe one of the reasons we try so hard to create a smooth road for our kids is because we fear what it reflects on us. What will people think of us?

One of my more embarrassing parenting moments happened when my kids made their own volcano for a science project. It felt as if my kids were the only ones who brought in a project that looked like a kid made it. I was embarrassed wondering if all the parents thought I was a slack mom who doesn’t spend enough time helping her kids out.

But I got over it. I realized it was ok if my kids were embarrassed because they didn’t put in more effort. If they care enough, then next time they will. And if they don’t care enough, well that is ok too. It’s ok to not be amazing at everything. It’s ok to do the best we can without pushing ourselves to be the absolute best.

Our role as parents is to love, support, nurture, guide, discipline, and more than anything point them to Jesus.

Our role is not to make sure they have a smooth road to travel. It’s to be there when they fall, tell them we love them. It’s to be there when they are disappointed and empathize while reminding them there is only One who doesn’t disappoint. It’s to support them on their journey without pressuring them to be more than God created them to be, which is simply a human loved by Him.


If you want to read more on this topic, I wrote a post years ago about letting our kids fail. Dear Son, Why I Want You To Fail


Looking for a special gift for Easter? Add Scripture pillowcases to their Easter basket to remind them of the One who never fails!

 

Your Silent Competitor

Here’s what I know about me, in the face of competition I know I can’t win, I draw back. I’m not the competitive type who digs deep and goes all in if I don’t think I have a chance to win. Now, I will push hard until the moment I realize there is no winning chance. At that point, I tend to wonder why I’d exert so much energy for 2nd place or worse. I’m not saying this is a good thing or the right thing. It’s just how I operate.

I believe this explains why I have a strong dislike for Monopoly. I can try so hard and play so long and still end up never finding the strategy that wins the game.

Smartphones, screens, and devices are playing silently against us. They have been for many years, and they’ve decided they are in for the long game.

I want to win this game.

Try this experiment

Next time you are in a checkout line, decide ahead of time you will not pull out your phone to pass the time. Look around and count how many people have their heads up. Chances are, you won’t count many. Watch how the clerk interacts with you compared to someone who comes through with their eyes fixed on their phone. I’ve watched this play out, and it’s fascinating. To the ones who are available and ready to engage in conversation, the clerk usually converses. But to the ones who are so engrossed in the world of their screen, the world not right there in front of them, the clerk will often only engage to the extent of, “Hi, how are you today.”

Knowing the competition

The smart phone is a feisty competitor; it nearly always wins. What exactly is it trying to win? Ultimately, our heart, but it starts with our attention. Once it has our attention enough, it will hook us in with its fake offerings of laughter, entertainment, escape, information, newest trends, and world happenings that ding throughout the day and night.

If it keeps our attention long enough, it’s winning. And then it only takes the slightest ding to bring us back to it. The body reacts with hits of dopamine. We feel we need it more and more. All the while, real life, real entertainment, real laughter, real people are wanting our attention.

Who wins this game against the smartphone?

How Can We Compete

It’s the most silent competitor vying for the attention of people. Often it’s not worth the effort to compete against it. So, we go silent rather than try to win against our silent competitor.

When I’m in the company of someone captivated by their phone, I tend to draw inward. It’s hard to compete against the stream of constant entertainment of a phone. While screens feed us news reports 24/7, I have only a few new happenings to offer. Screens provide us a hit of dopamine hundreds of times a day. That’s a hard competitor.

Which Side Are We On?

If we are honest we’ve played on both sides of this game. We’ve been the one held prisoner by our phone. And we’ve been the one on the other side hoping the other person would look up eventually.

While we can’t make people around us put down their phones, we can make a personal choice to be the ones who live free of our devices.

What Winning Looks Like

First, we need to form a picture of what winning looks like.

I love watching Steve and Andrew wrestle. Steve will have total control over Andrew’s arms and legs and pin him firmly. Andrew will call out, “Look, Mom, I’m winning. I’m dominating Dad!” Clearly, he is not winning. Steve has total control over all his possible moves, yet Andrew believes he’s winning. Likely, he knows the truth and doesn’t want to admit it.

This is a picture of our relationship with our phones if we don’t decide to win this game. We can think it doesn’t control us, but our actions tell a different story.

Signs our phone dominates us:

  • We pick up our phone at every ding.
  • Sitting in a room with someone, we find ourselves scrolling or reading online rather than engaging in conversation
  • We pick up our phone without having an actual reason. We feel compelled to check.
  • We check our phones at red lights, in checkout lines, and in any spaces of downtime.
  • Boredom is uncomfortable, and we pick up our phone to solve the boredom.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” 2 Corinthians 6:12

This World Needs More Winners

Our world needs more winners. We need more people to decide they want to live the most abundantly alive, full, and vibrant lives imaginable. This world needs people captivated by simple wonders and able to handle boredom. Some of the greatest inventions known to man came when a human was bored. Ideas are given space to develop when the brain isn’t overstimulated.

Empathy grows when we are connecting with real humans. Screens decrease our capacity for empathy and compassion. They attempt to grow cynicism where God desires empathy.

We must decide to win.

Let’s Call It What It Really Is

Let’s be real. It’s not a game. It’s war. We are in a spiritual battle. Choose to stand and fight. Win against the smart devices that is after your attention, your heart, and your real life. Come back to the place where simple pleasures brought delight, where we paused to take in the beautiful landscape, where we didn’t want to rush away from a conversation, and where a child’s joke brings a genuine chuckle.

Life is good. Real life is worth fighting for. The enemy knows if he gets your attention, he can capture your affections and heart. And because he’s so deceptive, he will let you think you are winning. He will whisper to you that you are dominating, you are in control. The way to overpower him starts with recognizing the enemy and turning his tactics back on him. The name of Jesus is a strong tower. We pray for power and we make choices that over time replace our habits.

It’ll be a fight, but this world needs more winners. We have a Kingdom to run. We can’t run it distracted.

Be Ready So You Don’t Have To Get Ready

I heard a story last year on a podcast that made a lasting impact on me. Not only have I shared it with my boys, but I find I continue to apply the overall lesson to my own life.

Who Are You Becoming?

A mom shared how her daughter left for college, and as many do, began turning to wilder ways. She enjoyed the partying life college offered, the freedom, and the boys. Even though she was raised in a christian home and knew right from wrong, she continued choosing wrong. It was a season of her life marked by heavy alcohol use and multiple sexual partners.

Then one day she called her mom from college, “Mom! I met a boy who is everything I would want in a man. He is the kind of man I want to marry.” She went on to describe this dream guy. He was attractive, heavily involved in the campus ministry, served in the local church, and he was an incredibly nice and genuine guy.

After she shared all about him with her mom, her mom responded, “Honey, that kind of guy is not looking for a girl like you.”

Truth in Love

Ouch. The stinging truth struck her daughter’s heart. She’d been living for the present, satisfying the cravings of her sin nature. The words of her mom felt like the icy bucket of water to the face awakening her to the reality of her life, choices, and who she was becoming. Who she was in that season isn’t who she wanted to be forever, and it certainly wasn’t who the man of her dreams would be searching for.

She decided that day to turn her life back to Christ and follow Him.

Practice Being Today Who You Want to be Tomorrow

I shared this story with my boys recently in the context of looking towards what they wanted for their future and practicing toward those ends.

If they envision themselves in their dream job, what disciplines are they putting into place today to prepare for that?

One day they will have an apartment or home of their own, practice today for how they will care and manage their own home. Start in the small areas the Lord has entrusted. Manage your own bedroom and bathroom well. Complete chores fully. Become faithful with the small.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:23

What kind of husband do you want to be? Do you want to be thoughtful, gentle, considerate, selfless? Practice today for the kind of man you want to be. Pray, ask the Lord for help.

Be Ready So You Don’t Have to Get Ready.

Do you dream of that big break, that dream opportunity? Do everything today to build the skills necessary. That way when the opportunity comes, you will already be ready.

One of my son’s has aspirations of building his own business. He has particular areas of focus. I advised him to prepare today by learning the skills, reading the books, listening to the podcasts. In a sense we are preparing our fields for the rain. We are planting the seeds and doing all the work we can in the time of waiting.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

I heard another story of a college football player who didn’t have much chance of seeing any playing time. He made a decision to practice and prepare as if he were in the starting lineup. When several injuries took out the 1st and 2nd strings, he didn’t have to get ready. He was already ready to step out onto the field. He prepared ahead of time for his opportunity.

God’s Timing

God’s timing is perfect in every way. We have no control over when our opportunities arrive, but we do have control over who we become and what we build as we wait.

Let’s decide today what dreams we have for our future in order that we can wisely decide today what action steps to take to prepare.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Favorite Lasagna

Cooking is not my favorite thing. I often find myself procrastinating starting dinner so it takes me much longer than it should to make a meal. I get tired of the same meals, yet I have little time to scour the internet or cookbooks.

Lasagna is a meal I rarely make because in my mind it takes way too long to prepare and far too many ingredients. However, several nights ago I found myself craving lasagna and decided to simply go for it without a recipe, combining what I’ve used in various recipes we’ve enjoyed.

Pioneer Woman and Joanna Gaines make amazing lasagna recipes, which I’ve used for the last several years. But when I made lasagna recently my family requested that I never make any other lasagna than this one.

When I realized how much they enjoyed it, I quickly wrote down a recipe because I knew I’d never remember what I did.

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 TBS Italian seasoning

1 TBS garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp pepper

4-5 garlic cloves minced

3 cans Italian diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 block cream cheese

8 oz cottage cheese

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 eggs

Fresh mozzerella cut into small pieces

lasagna noodles

Brown meat, add spices, garlic, tomatoes.

In a large bowl mix cream cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, and 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.

In a cast iron dutch oven (I’m convinced this makes the best lasagna) layer meat, noodles, cheese mixture, fresh mozzarella cheese. Repeat for 3 layers. Top with 2 cups shredded cheese.

Cover and bake 350 for 1 and 1/2 hours. Uncover 10-15 minutes until browned. Let sit to firm up at least 30 minutes.

Even better as leftovers. Cast iron is the only way to cook. And did you know you don’t need to boil lasagna noodles? Simply throw those babies in and they will cook up perfectly!! I wish I had known this the last 20 years I’ve made lasagna. You don’t even need to buy “no bake” noodles.

A Safe Smart Watch For Kids

We’ve been a happy Gabb Wireless family for a couple of years now. Two of our three sons had/has a Gabb phone. When our middle son was nearly 16, we allowed him to transition to an iPhone. Honestly, I miss the Gabb for him as much as I knew I would.

Andrew lost his phone a few months ago. He has to use his own money for a phone and decided he could live without one. What we found is that we missed knowing where he was, that he arrived somewhere safely, or simply being able to send him quick messages.

So we bought him a Gabb watch. And I am in love with this watch. I’ve never liked smart watches because they were too connected. The Gabb watch is only what they need and nothing more.

The ease of use is perfect for a kid on the move. He can voice record his text to us. The sound and clarity of the voice calls is exceptional. And the best part, it stays on his wrist.

Through the month of October, you can buy any Gabb devices for 30% off. Use promo code RENEEROBINSON.

It would be a great Christmas gift and you can go ahead and beat the rush and check that baby off the list!

Family Movies in the Teen Years

One of our favorite family activities are movie nights. When we bought our home in Nebraska, the room that sealed the deal was the theater room.

When they were younger, they’d watch anything we put on. We did lots of christian movies, the really cheesy ones even, and they loved them. However, once they are teens, those movies don’t fly. It’s so hard to find movies the entire family can enjoy equally.

Recently, we’ve watched 5 movies as a family that we all really liked. Definitely these suggestions are not intended if you have young children. Our youngest is a month away from 13, and all these movies are PG-13. Also there may be some language, so be aware of that. I can’t tolerate much language, but it’s almost impossible to find movies with zero.

Each of the movies I’m sharing were suggested by our teens that already watched them with friends.

5 Movies to watch with teens on family movie night

  • Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio

“A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O., but his tragic past may doom the project and his team to disaster.”

This was a really great movie. My family followed it better than I did. It’s super confusing. I can’t follow the Bourne movies, and this had that feel to me with lots of complication and fast paced action. I don’t typically like Sci-Fi but enjoyed this one.

  • Knives Out

“A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.”

Definitely kept you trying to solve. No humor, but not scary. Just a classic mystery, which I totally appreciate. Also very little language. Just a few words.

  • Murder Mystery with Jennifer Anniston and Adam Sandler

“New York cop and his wife go on a European vacation to reinvigorate the spark in their marriage, but end up getting framed and on the run for the death of an elderly billionaire.”

What an underrated movie. A big cast, a fun plot, some definite laughs. And obviously a murder to solve.

  • A Quiet Place with John Krazinski and Emily Blunt

“In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.”

I never watch scary movies. And anything in the horror genre I’m out on. While this is classified as horror, it is no more horror than Gremlins, but without the cheesy humor. It’s incredibly suspenseful and a few jump scares. No bad language. Actually not much language of any kind as they are mostly silent.

I can’t give anything away in this movie, but if you follow me on IG or FB, you saw my spoiler alert. I made a very strong Jesus correlation in this movie that brought me to tears.

  • A Quiet Place 2

“Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.”

We enjoyed part 1 so much, we watched part 2 the following night. Again very suspenseful and not realistic, but well done and easy to enjoy with our teens.

Go make some popcorn, grab some candy, and cozy up with your teens! Happy watching!

 

When your teenager sees the power of prayer

Backstory: Zachary is doing high school through Liberty University Online Academy. To say it’s an adjustment is an understatement. High school math online is crazy hard. He’s been struggling through it, several weeks behind, secured a tutor for one week to get unstuck. And then I basically gave him permission to fail the test and quiz so he could move to the next modules, which looking ahead I realized were concepts he’d easily understand.

Why did I give him permission to fail? Because he was trying as hard as he possibly could. I don’t want performance based kids. I want my kids to work as if unto the Lord, yet realizing sometimes the results aren’t always what we want. Did he give his best attitude and effort? That’s all that matters.

“Zachary, just take the test and fail it. You’ve worked with the tutor. We can’t lose anymore time.”

He seemed relieved as he picked up his computer to take the test.

“Wait! Let’s pray first.”

I sat next to him on the sofa and prayed, “Lord, thank you that you are always with us. You care about what we care about. Please help Zachary to have understanding he doesn’t have on his own. Give him answers only You can give him. Give him clarity of thought and a calm heart. And Jesus, please give Zachary a C on this test.”

Zachary laughed, “Mom, a C is impossible. The practice test and the quiz were Fs.” Side note, I high-fived him for a 48 quiz grade because I fully expected a 10 on that module.

He took the test on the family room sofa while I worked at the kitchen table. 20 minutes later I heard his laughter.

“What’s so funny?”

“Mom, I got a 70.”

Exactly what we’d prayed for, a C.

I squealed and blurted, “Shoot!!! We should’ve asked for an A!”

I knew it was God’s direct answer to our prayer.

Fast forward a week, Zachary began making 100s on his lessons. He totally understood the next concepts as I knew he would. Then he reached a lesson prior to the quiz that stumped him. Again his lesson grade was an F. The concept was a stinker to understand. But we don’t have much time to spare. So I encouraged him to do the best he could and take the quiz.

This time when we prayed we asked God for an A. 20 minutes later I see him emerge from test taking. With a smirk on his face, he said, “Mom, I got a 91.”

“Shut up!!!!!!” Yes, what a godly response. But, I can’t even contain myself when I see my kids experiencing the power of prayer.

Zachary did the work to the best of his ability and he asked God for what only God could give. The results. And it exceeded our expectations.

I want my kids to see the reality of Christ in their everyday life. He’s not some faraway God. He is right here. He cares about every detail of our lives.

While the Lord gives me these kids in this home, I will do everything I can to counteract culture in their lives. God is real. God is love. God is the God of the impossible. They need to see their deep need for Him. Life is better when surrendered to Him.

And God answers our prayers!! Not always how we ask or expect, but always in ways that are what we need over what we want. Thank you, Jesus!


If you want visual reminders for your kids of God’s great love and mercy over their lives, then give them God’s Word to rest their heads on. Scripture pillowcases are a tool in your parenting toolbox to get more of God’s Word into their minds and hearts. It’s one way to counteract the lies of the world.