The 5 Crucial Things A Parent Can Do In The Life Of Their Child

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I rested on the edge of his bed and listened to the confusion in his voice. When his narrowed eyes dared move towards mine, they darted away with stealthy speed.

“I’m tired of being good. I don’t want to be sweet anymore.” Silence fell over the room. I thought back to the previous weeks, the previous hours. This up and down swing of emotions, this moving to and from the ones he loves most, the acting out in obvious cries for attention, the pushing away when others drew near.

“I don’t feel like myself anymore. I don’t even know who I am.” He couldn’t articulate all he felt. How could he? He didn’t even understand it.

The words my son began to share nudged a slumbering fear in my soul. The fear began to stretch its arms and mumble its good mornings. Give up. It’s over. His problems are bigger than you can possibly handle or imagine. His faith in God isn’t strong enough for the battles waged against him. Just wait til he’s older. You have no idea. 

The unknowns, the uncertainties, the what-ifs – these are the food fear enjoys most. Right here is where fear tempts me to feast.

I inhaled sharply. These voices of fear needed to stop, but they began to speak louder with each passing second, so loud I could only hear my son’s words in the distance. “I don’t know who I am.”

What I heard was a silent cry. “Do you really love me?” He needed to know if the words we tell him are true. If I act mean, do you love me? If I disobey, do you love me? If I act irrational, do you love me? If I don’t meet the expectations placed on me, do you still love me? If I don’t even know who I am, do you still love me? 

Is unconditional love true or false? This is what our children are desperate to know.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that our children must know they are loved. Unconditionally. There are no bargains on love in this home. You can’t earn more love by being the “good” kid. You can’t force my love to stop when you are too much to handle.

Love is a choice in this home. To my son, I say, “Love is a choice. I choose to love you because of the place in my life the Lord placed you. He chose to love you, and His love is so great, He gave His one and only Son for you.”

When our children find themselves out of control on the slopes of life, it’s the knowledge that no matter what happens, what bumps they hit, what trees they crash, what damage they cause, they are loved. Fully loved.

I looked into his eyes. “You know who you are. You are a child of God. Because of that you know exactly who you are even when you don’t feel you do. You are chosen, redeemed, righteous, known, loved, holy. You are God’s workmanship, you are complete in Christ, you are forgiven, you are a saint.”

“Rarely will you feel like you are the person God says you are.”

God tells us who we are. We don’t need the world to affirm us, we don’t need the world to tell us that we don’t measure up. Because we don’t, we couldn’t, but He could, and He did, and therefore, we live. Praise God.

When our kids hit the hard bumps, what they really want to know is “Am I really loved?” To know they are always loved, they must know who they really are because we rarely act like who God says we are. Our kids must be reminded of truth. Constantly.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

 

The 5 most important things we can do to help our children when life is rough and confusing:

 

  1. Thank God. Thank God for the gift of our child. Thank God for wisdom, discernment, and insight. Thank God when He is gracious to reveal those inner struggles of the heart. Thank Him for everything. Always.
  2. Pray. Pray always, pray about everything. Pray they will always know they are known and loved. Pray in the deepest corners of their soul, they know they are unconditionally loved, even in the ugliest of moments. Pray against the attacks of the enemy who seeks to destroy. Pray over them while they sleep. Pray in their room when they are away. Pray as you fold their clothes and clean their toothpaste mess from the sink. Pray without ceasing. No one is praying for your child like you can. God has placed you in the position of strongest advocate for their protection and well-being.
  3. Fight. Don’t lose hope. Don’t fear. Fight fear with trust. Trust God that He uses all things for good for those who love Him. Trust Him that the hard, ugly moments will be used for His glory. Trust Him to love your children more than you do. Fight fear with faith.
  4. Rest. When you pray and when you fight fear with faith, sit back and rest in His loving embrace. Rest in Him. Rest in knowing He will never leave you, He will never forsake you. Rest in Him as you pray and fight fear with faith.
  5. Love. Love and never stop loving. Tell your kids all the time. Don’t assume they know it because you feel it. Tell them that love is more than a feeling, it’s a choice. Tell them there is not a single thing on this earth they could ever do to make you stop loving them. Tell them that every single night when you kiss their cheeks. Hold their faces in your gentle hands, look with fierce intensity deep into their eyes and tell them, “I love you. I will never stop. You can’t make me.” When they are older and have moved on, don’t stop telling them you love them.

Our children will face struggles that make us shudder and want to run away and hide. While we will feel life can be out of control for our kids, there is one thing we can control. We can choose to love them. We can love them right through any wave that tries to take them under. When they come up for air, we are right there. Loving them. Reminding them of truth. The waves that roll them will lie, but when they resurface, we are a constant source of truth and love. Pointing them back always to the One who loves them and knows them in ways we will never understand.

Today, thank, pray, fight, rest, and love.

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When Your Child Acts Unloveable, When No One Understands

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I peeked open his door and gazed at his peaceful slumber. I think he is beautiful when he sleeps. His body is in constant motion when awake, so I love to watch him at complete rest.

Then I did what I can only do with him, what would cause my other boys to wake in fight mode. With no warning at all, no gentle back rubs, no sweet good morning whispers, I rolled him fast on his back and dug my chin in hard into the soft of his back, laughing and tickling him with no mercy.

How one can go from the deepest slumber to the deepest of belly laughs, I will never understand. I stopped, and he said, “Again!” We hit the repeat button on this moment each morning. It’s the best way to assure a happy mood from Andrew.

Occasionally, he turns to what we call the “dark side”. It’s a turning of little Anakin Andrew. The good dwells there, but sin lurks and lures with fierce boldness. The good is in constant battle with the dark. It’s there for all of us. We all have a little Anakin in us. Kids just live with their guards down most of the time. We’ve learned to keep our masks on. We all know the good prevails. We must remember good wins in the end.

On my end I had done everything “right” according to all parenting books and best blogs. We had prepared what costume he would wear to school for spirit day. We had it laid out and prepared. We had discussed how the morning would go. I started the morning the way he likes. I gave him plenty of choices so he felt he maintained some control and wasn’t being bossed around. I did everything “they” say to do.

No matter how hard we try, sometimes our best intentions fail us. When a perfect parent day aligns with a perfect kid day, the stars shine bright, the birds sing joyous songs, all looks well in our world. We smile more. We laugh more. The world looks grand. We post it on Facebook. We see the good in the world around us.

There are days one of us brings our A game and the other doesn’t. We meet at the corner of I’m trying and Why Aren’t You. This is the intersection where collisions are common. In my home anyway. That is where I was this morning. Full on collision though I had followed all precautionary rules and road signs.

I heard no birds singing joyous songs. Nothing about this moment would make it on my Facebook page. It was too ugly, and I don’t want to be a whiner. Barking replaced laughing. Scowl replaced smile. The world looked grim, and a 6-year-old looked back at me with defiant eyes that said, “See if you can make me why don’t you.”

Sometimes God gives us what we need the most to need Him the most.

My heavy footsteps marched hard to the whisper, “Lord, help. Lord, help. Please, Lord, help. I can’t parent his personality well.”

A difficult child is a high calling. We must rise up to the challenge. We can’t wallow in defeat. We can’t focus on the difficult task. We must focus on the calling.

Love this child who acts unloveable, which means he needs love that much more. Show this child unconditional love when you feel like pulling back.

This is so hard for me to remember in the heat of battle. My first thoughts are always shameful. My first thoughts are usually the ones that I dare not admit. Therefore, I will confess all the more.

If I don’t take captive my thoughts, they will lead me to despair, self-pity, resentment, and bitterness. I will convince myself that no one understands the challenges I face, the difficult moments I battle. I will say under my breath, or to my poor husband who is forced to listen, “No one understands how hard this is! No one sees how hard I try to understand him and parent him well.”

This is the moment the Holy Spirit intercedes into my negative and sinful thoughts. Yes, there is someone who understands full well. The same one who created you. The same one who created him. The same one who matched you up for my purposes to bring glory to my name. Yes, someone understands.

This is the moment He reminds me that we all face difficult battles and that none of us completely understands the challenges that any of us face. Truly we don’t. But that is what He is there for. He is there to take my burdens and frustrations. He is there to listen to my venting. No one understands our lives fully, do they? But He does.

I release the world from the pressure of understanding me when I realize they don’t need to fully know me because there is One who does fully know me. And He loves me anyway. Despite knowing me full well, He loves me. A mask can’t hide me from Him. My naked heart is laid bare and vulnerable. And that very thought catches the breath in my throat.

In the most difficult moments with my strong-willed child, it’s my own sinful pride that battles hard inside me. It’s that part of me that wants things to be easier, wants things to look a certain way. The part that whispers through clenched teeth to God, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, why isn’t this going the way I want it to?” It’s ugly. So very ugly.

There is no ugly, He can’t wipe clean. There are no words or emotions He can’t redeem.

It’s in the quiet that I understand this all. I rarely see this clearly in the moment. It’s when emotions settle down, when the world begins to resemble calm, when I step back. When I get out of God’s way, I’m able to see.

Filing out of our house, we scrambled late into the car. The trash needed to be moved to the curb, the dog needed to be put up, Zachary couldn’t find his glasses, Andrew forgot his coat. My jaw ached as it had not released its grip just yet.

“Mommy, mommy!” I kept right on moving. Rolling trash cans with Jacob, helping gather missing items. Andrew wouldn’t stop. “Mommy! Mommy! Look, fast!”

With less love in my voice than I care to admit, I snapped, “What Andrew?!?”

“Look, there!”

I looked up, and there it was. A spectacular sunrise. The thing about sunrises, they last but a moment. We must catch a glimpse of the moment and hold tight to the beauty. Faster than I could run to grab my phone, the sun had risen, and the stunning display was gone. I hold onto the beauty I know was there, is there, and will be there again.

Such is this life. Life as mommy. Life as a friend. Life as a wife. Life as a co-worker. Life as anything. The moments come, the moments go, the beauty seems to ebb and flow. It’s an illusion. The beauty is always here because He is always here. We just need eyes to see through the haze. For me it’s usually in hindsight. So I pray each time, Lord, help me see clearer right there in those hazy, crazy moments. Amen.

(Thank you to my sweet, friend, Angela, who let me use the sunrise photo she beautifully captured this morning.)

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A Letter To My Boys – The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics

[box] While I’m taking a blogging break, I will be posting some of my favorite posts from 2014. Happy New Years![/box]

This is a repost of the most popular post of 2014. I posted in January and again in May.

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Dear Boys,

Do you remember the day we went to the drugstore and the lady said, “Wow, you are the first kids I’ve seen all day with nothing in your hands.” Remember how she marveled at how you didn’t need an electronic device to carry through the store? I know how her words made you feel. I know how it reminded you that you are different because your mom limits your electronic usage. I know it was yet another reminder.

The same reminder you receive when we are out to eat and you notice all the kids playing their phones and iPads instead of talking to their parents. I know it was a reminder of all the sporting events where you feel you are the only kids whose parents are making them cheer on their siblings rather than burying themselves in a phone. I know it was another reminder to you that you feel different in this electronic age we live in.

Well, boys, it’s not you. It’s me. Me being selfish maybe. You see I can’t bear to miss a moment with you. Let me explain.

I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.
I could give you all the statistics about how damaging it is to your development, your attention span, your ability to learn. While all of those are valid reasons to keep electronics away, that is not my primary reason why I say no to you so much. It’s more than that. Much more. I need you to understand this.

When we are together, I want all of you. The fullness of you. I want to experience you. Truly experience you. And I can’t do that with you when there is an electronic device between us. You see it acts as a barrier. I want to see what brings life to those eyes. I want to watch the wonder and magic dance across your face as you discover the wonders of this world. I want to watch you as you figure things out. I want to watch you process life, develop your thoughts. I want to know you. I want to know your passions. I want to watch you as you discover your God-given talents and gifts. And when you hide behind a screen, I miss out on all of that. And my time with you….well it will be over in the blink of an eye.

I want to guide you into an understanding of life and who you are. Boys, kids today are starved for attention, true connection and relationship. I don’t want you to feel starved. That is why I say no. I know that feeding the desire to play in your device is like giving you candy. It satisfies for a moment but provides no long term nutrition. It does more harm than good.

I don’t want to look back when I’m out of the trenches of child training and regret a second I had with you. I don’t want to merely survive. I want to thrive in this life with you. We are in it together. We are a family.

Yes, when we are waiting at a doctor’s office for an hour, it would be easier to quiet you with my phone. But if I did that, I fear I would send you a message that says I’d rather hush you than hear those precious words falling from your lips.

I can’t bear the thought of allowing you to miss out on the wonders and mysteries of this world. When you are transfixed on a screen, the beauty of this world will be lost to you. In every moment beauty is waiting to be discovered. I don’t want you to miss it.

I want you to be comfortable with yourself. I want you not to feel a constant need to be entertained and distracted. If you stay behind a screen, you never have to experience just being you, alone with your thoughts. I want you to learn to think, to ponder life, to make discoveries, to create. You have been gifted by God in unique ways. I want those to bloom. They can’t bloom in the glow of a screen. They need life, real life, to bring them to light.

I want you to be confident in who you are. I want you to be able to look people in the eyes and speak life into them. If I allow you to live behind a screen, you get little practice relating eye to eye. To truly know someone you have to look into their eyes. It’s a window into their heart. You see what can’t be seen in cyberspace.

When I tell you no to devices, I’m giving you a gift. And I’m giving me a gift. It’s a gift of relationship. True human connection. It’s precious and a treasure. And you mean so much to me that I don’t want to miss a second of it.

I love how God created your mind. I love to hear the way you think and process life. I love to see what makes you laugh. I love to watch those eyes widen when a new discovery is made. And when your head is behind a screen, I miss all of that. And so do you.
In this life we have few cheerleaders. In this family we will cheer each other on. I know it is boring to sit at swim lessons and watch your brother learn to swim. I know it is boring to sit through a 2 hour baseball practice. And in all honesty, it would be easy for me to give you the iPad and keep you quiet and occupied. But we all lose out when we do that. You will miss out on watching your brother’s new accomplishments. You will deprive him of the joy of his moment to shine for you. You will miss out on what it means to encourage each other.

I want you to grow up knowing the world doesn’t revolve around you. (One day your wife will thank me) I want you to learn to give selflessly of yourself….to give away your time, your talents, your treasures. If I distract you with electronics when you should be cheering for your brother, well, I’m simply telling you that your happiness is more important than giving your time to someone other than yourself.

This world needs more selflessness. This world needs more connection. This world needs more love. We can’t learn these behind a screen.

I want to raise sons that know how to look deeply into the eyes of the ones they love. I want my future daughters in law to know what it’s like to have a husband that looks deeply into her eyes because he knows the value of human relationships and the treasure of love. And that is best communicated eye to eye.

I want to watch your face illuminated by the majesty of life – not the glow of a screen. I want all of you. Because I only have you for a short while. When you pack up and leave for college, I want to look back with no regrets over the time I spent with you. I want to look back and remember how your eyes sparkled when we talked. I want to look back and remember how I actually knew those little quirky details of your life because we had time enough to be bored together.

It’s ok to be bored. We can be bored together. And we can discover new things together.

I love you. I love you too much to quiet you with an iPhone or an iPad or a DS. And I can’t even apologize, because I’m really not sorry. I’m doing this so that I won’t be sorry one day.

With all my love,
Mom

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The Unexpected Secret to Parenting We Are Searching For

[box] When I “met” Jeannie Cunnion via email for the first time, I knew we would be fast friends. Her authentically sweet spirit testifies to the grace she writes about. When I opened her book and began to read, the highlighting and underlining began. I felt she was living my life. Her book is a gift to parents to let go of the expectations of perfect parenting and embrace grace instead. I’m so thrilled Jeannie is sharing with us here today! [/box]

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by Jeannie Cunnion

With three young boys who would rather play tackle football in the kitchen than get ready for school, mornings can get a bit challenging in our house.

And from the moment my boys woke up, I could already tell this particular morning would be harder than most.

I’ve heard it said that the average woman speaks about 20,000 words in any given day, but I can assure you I came close to hitting that number before 8 a.m. – mostly with words of training and correction. And I was quickly running out of patience and grace.

When it was finally time to leave for school we huddled together for our morning prayer, which, on this difficult day, was mostly about how much we need Jesus and how thankful we are for His forgiveness, and we headed out the door.

But things only deteriorated during our five-minute walk to school.

Brennan, my middle son, who is usually a bundle of joy and wonder, began to downward spiral. (I know you know about the downward spiral!) His list of complaints was long – He didn’t have a play date scheduled after school, he didn’t like what I’d packed him for snack, and he definitely didn’t want to go to T-ball practice that evening. It was one of those mornings when he felt like the world was his enemy.

When we arrived at school, I gave my oldest son, Cal, a big hug, whispered “I love you, God bless you” in his ear and sent him on his way.

And apparently, Brennan saw this moment as a fine opportunity to kick me (albeit gently) in the ankle.

I turned to Brennan, shocked, as he’d never done anything like that before.

I was fully prepared to address his actions with corrective words, but before I opened my mouth, the unexpected happened.

Grace found me.

And different words, words that were not my own, began to flow from my mouth.

I got down on my knees, looked Brennan in the eyes and I said, “Honey, you have to go to school now. There isn’t time for us to talk about what’s happening in your heart that’s causing you to complain and show such disrespect to Mommy, but before I send you into the building, I want you to know this very important thing: I have a feeling that when you get into your classroom, and you sit down at your desk, you are going to be sad and feel bad about the way you just treated Mommy. I know this because I know your beautiful heart and I know you love me and don’t want to treat me this way. So when that sadness hits you, I want you to remember that I love you and I have already forgiven you.”

Then I prayed in his ear, “Jesus, please bless my beautiful son today, whom I know you love even more than I do.”

And when I was done praying, my son immediately melted into my arms.

Grace found him too.

His hard heart was broken with grace, and no more words were spoken.

I held him for a moment while tears streamed down his cheeks, and then he walked into the building, but before he turned the corner, he turned to show me his face. We smiled at one another. My heart was full. We were both thankful for forgiveness and restored relationship.

As I walked home, hand in hand with my three-year-old son, Owen, I was overwhelmed with the goodness of God. With His faithfulness. He’d answered the prayer that we just prayed at our front door for more of His heart of grace and forgiveness.

Please trust me when I tell you that more often than not, my sinful and fallen nature wins. This was only Jesus in me, allowing me to be a reflection of His heart for His glory.

I stumble through parenthood, and make mistakes daily. But then there are these precious moments. These moments where God reminds me that He is still at work in me and He is not finished with me, with us, just yet. (Phil 1:6) These moments where grace breaks in and surprises me.

And what I’m learning, what God is teaching me, is that the more I reflect on my own brokenness, the more compassionate I am toward the brokenness of my children.

Brennan Manning says, “To be alive is to be broken and to be broken is to be in need of grace.”

We are all in need of the extravagant grace of God – His love that has no limits and no breaking points.

And showing one another this kind of love and forgiveness is only possible when we reflect on our own need for grace and the great mercy we’ve been shown through Christ. (Romans 3:22-24)

The more honest I am about my own flaws and imperfection, the more amazing God’s grace becomes to me, and the more able I become to give it to my precious kids.

His grace is more than enough for both of us!

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Jeannie Cunnion is the author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work, and her background combines counseling, writing, and speaking about parenting and adoption for organizations such as Bethany Christian Services and the National Council for Adoption. Jeannie also serves as the Council Co-Chairman at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT, where she enjoys leading parenting groups and Bible studies when she isn’t cheering on her boys at one of their sporting events!

You can find Jeannie at www.JeannieCunnion.com
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Answered Prayers, Unexpected Gifts, and Lyme Disease

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If you have been reading along our health journey with my 9-year-old, you know that we have had 3 instances of unexplained knee swelling over the course of 2 1/2 years. Each swelling worse than the one before. He showed no other symptoms. He is a healthy boy, very active and bright. The most recent knee swelling proved to be the toughest we’ve faced. At the worst point, he was unable to walk.

Each trip to the doctor left us still searching for answers. What was causing this knee swelling? The doctors were genuinely puzzled. So we prayed. And we enlisted an army of believers to lift Zachary up to our Heavenly Father. Our prayers have been answered.

12 days ago Zachary and I spent all day at the Rheumatologist and the Orthopedic. Ten vials of blood and 2 bags of knee fluid later, we left with more questions. MRI, X-Ray, blood work, labs on fluids. Everything continued to show a healthy child.

But we were praying. And we had an army of believers placing requests on Zachary’s behalf at the Father’s feet. Specifically, we were praying God would grant wisdom to the doctors treating Zachary, that God would grant healing, that God would bring us the answer to the root cause of the swelling.

Four days after blood was drawn by the Rheumatologist, she called and asked if Zachary had been exposed to a tick bite. It was possible. I mean he is a boy, he lives outside, he loves the woods. I’ve never seen a tick on him, but anything is possible. Answered prayer #1- wisdom to the doctor. She had no good reason to test for Lyme because he showed no symptoms and we live in North Carolina. She didn’t know we lived in Virginia for 2.5 years. She could have fit him into a type of arthritis and treated him. But God heard our prayers, and He granted wisdom to that doctor.

Sometimes God is answering our prayers in stages, yet we move about life unaware of Him.

Lord, let me never become unaware of your constant provision.

Yesterday afternoon the rheumatologist’s nurse called. “Great news! Zachary’s blood work looks beautiful. He is one healthy boy.” I hung up with feelings of relief mixed with more questions. Thirty minutes later the doctor herself called to let me know Zachary tested positive for Lyme Disease. “I’m shocked,” she told me.

Answered prayer #2 – Answers. We can move forward with treatment.

Answered prayers #3 – God has been protecting Zachary’s body from some of the more severe symptoms of Lyme for the 3 years he has had this disease unknown to us. Praise God!

We are thankful for the multitude of people who have been praying for us, and we continue to ask for your prayers. Lyme can be a long road.

People continue to ask me how Zachary is handling this. On the drive to school, he said, “Mom, I think God allowed me to have Lyme so I can help the world.” Amen, sweet boy, amen. This child is tender to the Holy Spirit. He has a heart for Jesus like I aspire to have. He sees the hand of God at every turn along his journey of life. I’m confident that God will use Zachary to bring comfort or encouragement to someone else with Lyme. Or he may just use Zachary to shine a light for Christ to someone who needs to see beyond the illness and pain that plagues our world.

In the midst of all this, a friend contacted me Sunday and offered to volunteer several hours a week for the next 4 weeks to help me with my ministry. Friends! God provided for me before He brought me this news of Lyme. He is always taking care of us. He is always at work in our lives. When she contacted me, I sat at my kitchen table with no words. Why would she offer to help me during the busiest time of the year? She doesn’t even really know me. Why? Because we serve a compassionate God who loves us more than we can fathom. He placed on her heart to help me, and she followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Last night I researched online about Lyme. The more I read, the more fear began to speak into my heart. Fear is not welcome here. Fear and faith are at odds with each other. The best way to fight fear is with the Word of God.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

We head into Thanksgiving, and our hearts of full. Thursday we celebrate our youngest turning 6. Not possible!  We have much to give thanks for.

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Dear Son, Why I Want You To Fail

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Dear Son,

When you left for school today, I saw the anger in your eyes aimed at me. I saw your frustration. I understand you felt treated unfairly. Your anger was directed at me because you were casting the blame for your mistakes onto me, and I wouldn’t accept the blame. I wouldn’t allow you to throw your mistakes and failures into my lap. I tossed them back into your lap. And that made you angry.

Beneath your anger I saw sadness. I know how sad it made you feel to feel so angry towards someone you love. So I want to talk a little about the situation.

It’s hard to explain to you what I feel when you are so upset, which is why I’m writing you this letter. Keep it and refer back to it over the next few years. Sometimes we can’t hear the other person’s heart when our own heart is full of frustration and anger. Sometimes it’s better to assess a situation when our tempers have cooled down so we can think more clearly.

Part of getting older is becoming more responsible. As a parent, one of my roles is to guide you towards independence. I need to encourage you to take responsibility for yourself and your choices. At your age, one of the ways we do this is by letting you be in charge of when and how you do your homework. You know what is due and when it is due. You know the time available, and you know our schedules. We give you guidelines and timeframes to work within, but we give you the freedom to choose how you use that time. The same for your chores and your free time activities. We are trying to teach you how to organize and prioritize your life.

Here’s a secret you might not know yet. We don’t expect you to do this perfectly. In fact, we expect you to fail more than you succeed. Pause for a moment and read that again then hear this: We expect you to fail, not because you aren’t capable of success, but because you haven’t had much practice. Practice makes us better. Failure teaches us lessons.

Failure is as important as success. Failure at times might be more valuable than success. When we fail at something, we learn what didn’t work and can make adjustments for next time. When we fail, we develop a drive to work harder. We give a task more of us than if success came easily. We value the accomplishment more when we succeed if we have first failed at it.

Failure is ok. Perfection is not ok. We would rather see failure over perfection any day. But. But. But.

Failure is only ok when we are able to take ownership for the part we played in the failure. Can you look at a situation and say, “I messed up there. I made a mistake. I’m sorry.” Those all are hard words to say. Our culture today is struggling at this. I see it in myself, which is why I want to help you now.

Ownership of our failures is the secret key that unlocks us from the chains that keep us from being all we were created to be. 

Part of your frustration comes from the pressure you place on yourself to please us or do things the way you think we expect them to be done. But you are a pre-teen, on the brink of adolescence and adulthood. We don’t expect you to succeed at everything. And guess what, this doesn’t change as an adult. I fail everyday. Multiple times a day.

The most important thing I want you to walk away with now is failure is ok, and owning up to your mistakes is golden. In the culture we live in, we struggle to accept personal responsibility. Don’t follow the way of our culture. Be different. Be able to say, “I made a mistake. My fault. My bad. I’m sorry. I will try harder next time.” It’s ok to mess up. We just have to learn to see that we messed up and clean up our mess.

Be able to say, “I should have….Next time I will…..”

Here’s another secret I want to share with you: I didn’t have this figured out at your age. In fact, at 38 years old, I’m only just now beginning to see the magnitude of this in my own life.

As a parent, my job is not to be your friend, though I cherish our relationship and adore being with you. My primary role is not to make life fun or a trip to the amusement park for you. My role is to love you unconditionally. To love you unconditionally means I have to do hard things like allowing you to fail. I could’ve gathered your homework for you. I could’ve reminded you countless times of your responsibilities. But when you are an adult, no one will be coming behind you cleaning up your messes and clearing a path so you don’t fall. You will fall. I want you to fall as much now as possible so I can be here to lift you back up, dust you off, encourage you, and guide you. We will fall together. A lot. And that is ok.

Many of the roads we travel as we age will feel hard and bumpy, but if we stay the course, we will enter the even bumpier roads ahead prepared. We will have had practice navigating tough terrain- it won’t shock us as much. We will be tougher and stronger for it. The roads don’t become easier as you get older. However, the more practice we give you navigating tough roads while you are living with us, the better you will navigate tougher roads when you are on your own.

Sometimes we won’t feel like friends. And that is ok. It’s part of the growing up we are doing together. It makes for a richer and fuller relationship down the road. Tough days are ok when we are each able to look at the part we played, own up to our mistakes, say I’m sorry, and move forward.

I need as much work in this area as you do, so let’s work on this together.

With all my love,

Mom

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God Bless Our Christmas

 

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I must start right out by telling you that Hannah Hall is my friend. Because of that, you may think my review below is biased, but really it’s not biased because…well, it’s just not, and you have to trust me. We’ve built that by now, haven’t we?

In May I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I felt like a kid going to summer camp, both the day I arrived, and the day I left. I wrote about it here if you care to read it. Day 1 I stood in line with trembling hands and half-hearted smile. I didn’t know a soul and felt very much out of my league. Day 5 I strolled around the bookstore feeling like a kid leaving camp. Friendships formed in a short span of time orchestrated by our sweet God. Hannah is one of those friends.

Here’s the thing about Hannah. She has the best sense of humor, and you simply don’t see it coming. So when she is funny, it just takes you by surprise. That is how her writing is as well. Please do check out her blog. Your heart will go from tugging, to warming, to chuckling in the span of 3 short sentences.

Hannah’s third childrens book has just released in time for Christmas, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In our home, we keep a box of books that only appear at Christmas. We spend hours reading these stories each season. Sweet memories created while curled on our sofa, snuggling each other with blankets and words.

GodBlessOurChristmas

 

God Bless Our Christmas is a beautiful story that I wish so badly I’d had when my boys were smaller. This book is intended for ages 1-4, but my 5-year-old enjoys it and asks for it nightly.

This rhyming story is a beautiful picture of friends, family, traditions, and memories. See why I love it so much? And at the end, it all points back to Christ, the greatest gift ever given or received. It’s a story of togetherness with family and friends through traditions and fun activities with reminders of God’s blessings throughout.

Even if Hannah weren’t my friend, I would write this post and strongly recommend you add this book to your Christmas bookshelf. But knowing Hannah makes me want to share it even more.

We are giving away a copy! Leave a comment below about something you love about the Christmas season before Thursday November 13th at 11:59 pm. Winner will be announced Friday.

May God bless your Christmas!

headshothannah

Hannah C. Hall is a blogger, speaker and children’s book author. She blogs weekly about snotty noses, marital moments (the good and the bad), and seeing God’s incredible character in the chaos at HannahCHall.com. Her first book, God Bless You and Goodnight, has been on the ECPA juvenile bestseller list for six consecutive months, and she has released two more books this year, God Bless Our Easter and God Bless Our Christmas.

Hannah, her worship-pastor husband and three children live and make a lot of noise in an otherwise quiet town in Arkansas.

 

 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”