Don’t Withhold Your Love

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my conscience instructs me. Psalm 16:7

The water ran steadily from the faucet, cascading over piles of dishes. I stood there waiting. Waiting for the hot water to kick in, forgetting our hot water heater died on us. Mesmerized by the steadiness of the water, I stayed. Still. Quiet. These are typically the moments I hear His voice.

The moments the world around me is quieted, pushed aside.

Don’t withhold your love from him.

I snapped out of my daze. Where did that thought come from? I dared not move. Waiting for more. The explanation.

In the next moment a forgotten dream from the previous night played in my head. It was a snapshot, the briefest of scenes. Can you even call this a dream? It happened in my sleep. Forgotten until the moment at the sink.

In the dream the setting was Andrew misbehaving and me “advising” my husband not to withhold his love from Andrew when he disciplined his behavior. That was it. Just the instruction.

Prior to the standing at the kitchen sink waiting for water to warm that would never warm, the morning had been a reversal for Andrew and me in regards to our homeschool reading lessons. One of the reasons we started homeschooling was the realization that a school setting for a child who struggles to read created for him anxiety causing a shut down to learning. Last year we made miraculous progress and this year has surpassed my hopes. Until that morning.

He was back to his old ways. Fighting against me to do his lessons. A total shut down to learning.

I closed the lesson and sent him to his room where he could remain until he got himself together, cooled down, whatever needed to happen.

Each time he would come out of his room, my responses to him were short and distant. I was tired, frustrated, and wanted him to see that I wasn’t simply happy and smiles when he acted this way and school days took this path.

In college I loved learning how to build spreadsheets. Especially creating cells with “if, then” formulas. If this plus this equals this then this. To me it was life captured in blocks that made sense. Natural consequences at play in math.

At times I build spreadsheets in life. I begin to create if then statements in my surroundings. Because they make sense to me.

As the day marched forward, I began to see a change happening in him. A change in his attitude. An acceptance of the situation turned to a desire to get back in my good graces. A change in tone. A change in everything. But each time I ushered him back to his room making sure he knew that the lesson we didn’t complete would eventually get done. He’d nod fully accepting. And there was a sadness.

The kitchen sink. When God brought that thought into my mind and the remembrance of that dream, I got it. Andrew would interpret my response to him as a withholding of love. He’s always struggled to interpret well. He often sees things not at all how they were intended. And this is the dangerous ground I walked.

If I withdraw from him, He would interpret it as a withdrawal of my love. He has always gauged facial expressions to determine where he stands with someone. He studies more intently than he ought. And I’d forgotten that he looks too closely at facial and bodily expressions in an effort to determine how someone feels about him.

God is so good. So incredibly amazing. I find myself speechless. There are no words. That God would instruct me while I sleep in preparation for what I would face and how I would react. And His gentleness. His kindness.

Romans 2:4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

I thank God for His tolerance. His patience and kindness. At times His goodness is too much for me to handle. He doesn’t treat me as I deserve. He doesn’t treat me how I treat others. He is purely good. Good always.

What I deserved is God to grab me by my shoulders and shake me. To rail at me, “I don’t treat you this way. When you act up do I pull back from you?”

But He doesn’t. Instead, He speaks to me according to my natural bents. He lets me trace a trail, connecting dots along that path. He knows me. He knows if I learn this way, I’ll never forget it.

Then God did this. Sent my little boy to me asking this, “Mom, can I have a hug? I need a big hug.” I reached down and squeezed him hard, not letting go first. He squeezed back, allowed me to kiss his cheek. And I said, “I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

Redemption is around every corner with the Lord.

Grow them into men who love you with their whole heart. Give them a heart like David’s, one after God’s own heart. Give them a spirit like Caleb that follows you wholeheartedly. Make them strike fear in the eyes of the enemy. Instruct their hearts with truth, even as they sleep.

These are a few lines I pray with or over my boys every single night. But the one I hold dearly is instruct their hearts with truth, even as they sleep.

I want my kids to seek hard after truth. To be protected from lies and deceptions. To be saved from chasing a false reality.

But as I’ve prayed these for my boys, God’s been answering them for me too. He speaks always. He knows I’m a ‘squeeze the most out of every moment’ kind of gal. The kind that wants even the sleeping hours to produce or reveal in some way. So He does. And on this day He did.

And all I can say is. Wow. Wow, God. The God who listens and speaks. The God who loves and cares. We praise you. We thank you. Make our hearts crave you above all things. Draw us into you, make us ultra-sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We love you.

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


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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Love, Affirm, Pray

The more we show our children how valued and loved they are, the greater our opportunities for creating rich experiences with them will be.  When they know they are loved unconditionally, they will trust us.  When they trust us, they will allow us into their lives.

Our children are bombarded by the world daily.  They hear false messages, they are made to think their value is based on what they do or don’t do, their self-image is often created from fashion magazines and pop culture.  To be a kid or a teenager today is so hard.

When our children are with us, they should feel loved and accepted simply for being themselves, based on nothing they do or don’t do, how they look or don’t look.  They need our love.  The world will not love them like we do.  We can grow strong, confident children by pouring our love into them.   Pouring our hearts into their hearts.

We can tell them repeatedly, “I love you no matter what.  No matter what you do, my love for you doesn’t change.”  We can model to them the love Christ has for us.  Unconditional love.  Start a tradition of letting the last words from your mouth every night be, “I love you no matter what.”

When our kids have the opportunity to hear someone other than their parents speaking their praises, it can make a big impact.  How many of you had an influential teacher in your life?  Teachers spend more hours of the day with our children than we do oftentimes.  When a teacher is able to point out a strength in a child, it has the ability to encourage that child to try much harder in that area.

Our school year wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.  Awards Day left my husband and I in tears as we listened to the teachers speak about each of the children they were able to influence.  Our older two boys were completing kindergarten and second grade.  As we listened to the awards each of them received, and the words spoken about them, we were unable to hold back our tears.  They said things about our boys that we thought only we had seen in them.  Of course, we recorded each of them receiving their awards, and I have replayed them at least 10 times.  Each time wondering if it penetrated the hearts of my boys like it did mine.  Did they hear what others noticed about them?  Did they understand that the good was noticed and it did matter.  Did they hear?

The words spoken about them were so special I wanted them to be remembered forever.  I wanted the boys to have access to those words anytime they needed a little bit of encouragement.  So I spent one evening playing back the awards over and over in order to write down the speeches exactly as they were delivered.  I printed them onto cardstock and gave them to the boys.  I have a special binder for each child to hold special letters and cards they have received.

Have you captured a memory or a moment in time that you want to write down as a reminder?  Maybe it wasn’t an award, but another parent commenting on a character trait they observed.  What if we wrote down these compliments and stored them in a journal for our kids?  They could flip through them whenever they needed to be encouraged.  We can take these special moments and preserve them for our children.

We all need to be affirmed.  Though we want our children to be humble, we also want to provide encouraging reminders of the good they hold inside them.  We can love them, we can affirm them, we can preserve other’s affirmations for them, and we can pray, pray, pray.

We can pray that the positive traits that are being recognized will continue to develop and mature.  Then we can watch God’s workmanship as He molds and shapes our children.