Tenacious Tuesday: We Have ALL the Answers

I once spoke to a woman in her late 30s about her wavering faith in God. She was raised in a Christian home, and even though things were rough in her life, when it came right down to it what she had learned was carved on her heart. With every statement she said against the faith she grew up with, she was very quick to remember how real what she had learned was.

Was she brainwashed by her parents? Was the Word of God ingrained in her brain?
Brainwashed? No, but she was taught! And she was taught with such consistency that should could no longer deny the truth behind what she was taught. (per definition, you could say she was “ingrained”).

We teach our kids the Word of God on a daily basis. We read it, we point out how it applies to our lives, and we use it as a guide to parent.

But, to be honest there are times when these tenacious kiddos push every button and make us doubt everything we’re doing. To be completely and totally honest, even as a pastor’s wife… There are moments I tell God, “I’m not seeing this scriptures come to life!” However, without doubt, it’s because I’m not looking or because I’m not actually being consistent in living that scripture out.

The truth of the matter is that when you train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it. The reality is that we’re supposed to teach the Word of God to our kids. Jesus specifically tells us to let the children come to Him. And as these kids’ parents, it’s our responsibility to introduce our kids to Him.

First, let me tell you how NOT to do this. DO NOT look at your tenacious child moments after the peak of their fit and say yell, “The BIBLE SAYS…” and then fill the blank with some mortal sin your kid has committed. The Bible is not a weapon. The Bible isn’t a tool for shaming your child. When the Holy Spirit convicts us with the Word of God, He does it gently, loving us into correction. And He never forces it upon us. We can not beat our kids up, using guilt, shame, and condemnation and think we’re teaching the Bible. Remember parents can guide, but they can not convict!

So HOW do you use the Bible for teaching the correct behavior?

1. Deuteronomy 4:9-10 tells us to pass what we know down to our children. Share testimony of what God is doing in your life, and what He’s done throughout your life. Share how you got saved, and what an impact the Bible has been on your kids.

It may look like this: “When I’ve been very angry before, I’ve noticed that if I sit quietly and pray that God helps me calm down. Once I asked Jesus to be the leader of my life, I started turning to Him to calm me. I may be calm now, but I wasn’t always.” Share stories of when God helped you through times of stress and anxiety. Focus on what God has done in YOU… not what you are currently seeing in your child.

2. 1 Timothy 4:10-11 Reminds us that we labor and strive because we’ve put our hope in THE Living God, who is the Savior of all people. And that we are to teach this. Be disciplined to read your Bible with your child every day. There are children’s Bibles, and children’s devotionals, and there is nothing wrong with those, but might I suggest reading strictly from the Bible. The NLT is very easy to understand, and you can pause and explain as you go along.

3. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and 11:19 tells us to Teach the Word to your children. Talk about it wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about it from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Basically look for teachable moments where you can apply the Bible to life. You can use your own experiences or even things you see on TV, the news, or things you see in the lives of friends. Talk about it as often as you can. Remember what I said NOT to do. We aren’t using the Bible to condemn. We aren’t pointing out sins in their friends and shaming their friends. But we can show what the Bible says about certain topics that come up.

Although I do not own these products, I’ve heard amazing things about them. These products help find scripture that would line up with topics of everyday life. Check out Parenting with Scripture  by Kara Durbin or head over to www.virtuetrainingbible.com and build your own topical Bible. And of course you can always Google “What does the Bible say about ________”. (or ask Siri, or Alexa, or whatever electronic that answers your random questions). I teach this tool to my kids and now they can find scripture for whatever they are looking for.

4. Lastly, Scriptural instruction isn’t enough. Galatians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God. Role modeling the Christian life, and your willingness to read and DO what the Bible says will go a long way! We all make mistakes, and we all know that God forgives, redirects, and guides us time and time again. Be real with that Tenacious Child of yours, be patient as God is patient (and even remind them of that). You can model this with simple scripts “I’m trying really hard to glorify God today, so I’m going to leave you to your fit while I go cool down.” or When things are stressful for you and good for them, you can say, “Will you please pray for Mama? I’m really struggling using my fruit of the Spirit. Will you pray that I can be strong in Jesus and use self-control during this stressful moment I’m having?”

If you do not already have a personal Bible Reading practice, now is the time to start. It’s powerful. I’m not a morning person, but I’ve been getting up early and getting into the Word more and more lately and it’s doing wonders in my life. Waiting until things are in full swing then reaching for my Bible hasn’t been working! But getting up just 30 minutes early was a great thing in my life. Search for plans on the app Youversion… or on Bible.com (they are the same!). But ultimately, just READ the Word. For more in-depth study, I HIGHLY suggest David Guzik’s commentary on Enduringword.com.   The Word of God is a living breathing lifeline! I challenge you to start reading today. Please email if you need help getting started! And let someone know you’re starting! Accountability is an amazing thing!

thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

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Tenacious Tuesday: Who Do You Listen To?

Recently, I had to send my tenacious child to her room to finish cleaning up (one day I’ll have to do an entire post on “bedroom cleaning”… but that’s not today!). She just did not want to do this. And so, of course, a fit manifested. Things were being thrown (and taken away), things were kicked (and removed from her room). And eventually, I just shut the door and sat at the top of the stairs about 5 feet from her room.

To be completely honest, sometimes remaining calm and methodical as we deal with these outbursts is SO exhausting. It breaks my heart, it forces me to keep my anger in check, and it makes me disappointed that my calmness didn’t “work”. She is STILL raging.

So I sat at the top of the stairs and cried, and prayed. And I listened to what she was saying.

“No one cares about me!”
“I’m NEVER going to get this room clean enough!”
“I’m stupid! I’m a horrible girl!”
“I don’t want to live here anymore!”
“I don’t think I even want to LIVE at ALL!!!”

**Now, it’s possible with kids like this that they are doing everything they can to hurt someone. She feels so big, and is such a loving child… but that also means with the huge capacity to love, she knows how to hurt. So it’s possible that when she says these things, she’s aware that I’m listening, and knows that it’ll hurt me to the core to hear her talk this way. We tell her we love her and care for her all the time. We never treat her as if she’s stupid, or horrible. I oftentimes say, “You’re an amazing girl. God created you to be that awesome! NOW act like it! Let your behavior reflect who you are… AMAZING!”

Also, many kids this age do not understand “suicidal thoughts” and they may say things for the shock value… however, I do not take these things lightly… So I called my husband up and told him what I had heard and we went in to talk to her and pray over her.

We told her that what we were hearing her say did not sound like things God would say to her.

And here’s the thing… I think this truth is not just for these kids like ours. This is for all of us. It’s easy to get down on ourselves. It’s the words we say to ourselves (either aloud or in our heads) that are so destructive.

“I’m such an idiot!”
“I’ll never get this down, I’m such a failure.”
“What’s the point? Why do I even care!?”
“Life is so horrible for me! No one cares, I’m all alone”
“I don’t want to do this anymore! I don’t even want to live….”

We think these thoughts, we mull over the words, until we feel so bad we just want to give up.

Is this the voice you’re listening to?

These things do not sound like things God would say to you. They are not things God would EVER say to you! And so you must choose to listen to the right voice. Just as we told our tenacious child, I am telling you, today. Things are not always easy. Emotions can flood our hearts and minds, but we are NOT slaves to them! We do NOT have to listen to them. Instead, we CHOOSE to listen to God’s voice.

God’s voice says,
“Do not be dismayed, for I am with you.”
“I have a purpose for you, a prosperous purpose.”
“I care, give me your burdens.”
“You may be a sinner, but I LOVE YOU!”
“You were worth dying for!”

We can get so discouraged by the actions of our children. We can carry that burden for too long, and take every fit, act of disobedience, or disrespectful tone to heart. We can see our children as our report card instead of our blessings. And we can beat ourselves up. But each time we do this, we are doing no better than that little 7-year-old girl sitting in her room listening to the wrong voice!

2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about taking every thought captive and bringing it into submission to God. It’s a discipline we must take seriously, and change right away. When those negative thoughts come across, stop them in their tracks. Do NOT linger on them. Do NOT agree with them, and DO NOT add to them. Correct your thinking. Search the Word of God and find the TRUTH.

You are not an idiot… you are learning as fast as you can. You are Jesus’ disciple, and you are learning.

You are NOT a failure. You are making progress everyday. Not every tiny step is noticed… but sooner or later you’ll begin to see the difference. Learn to rejoice in the journey.

The point is, this is your child, (s)he matters. God gave her/him to you, and He will equip you to raise this gift He gave you.

You are not alone! God will never leave you or forsake you. He sees the trial, and is already working with you to solve it.

Dear Mommas and Pappas,  when troubles of these kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Let God speak loud and clear in your life. If you begin to listen to yourself, or the enemy, you won’t hear the TRUTH that God is speaking to you. His desire is for you to have life, and life more abundantly.

Ask yourself, “Whose voice am I listening to?” If the voice isn’t saying what God would say, you know you’re listening to the wrong voice. Help your child to recognize when that voice isn’t God… be the example.

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Whatever you want…

It doesn’t take much research to find that the Bible encourages us that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name we will receive.

Matthew 18:19- Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Matthew 21:22-And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24-Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13- Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 15:17- If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23-24-In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

1 John 3:22- and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 John 5:14-15- And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have

And that’s just a quick google search of the words “Ask anything you want in my name”. I’m sure there is a longer list and deeper research that can be done. But as easy as it is to search for it, it’s just as hard to have the faith it takes to do the asking. As you can see in these verses there is nothing that suggests you can ask God for unlimited monetary wealth and he will just “poof” place it in your hands. There is a limit to what we ask. As we see in 1 John 5:14-15, He shows us that we ask according to His will. And so, our faith comes in when we aren’t sure what that will is. 1john-5_15-15

We are all human, and we’ll have human “wants” that aren’t always part of God’s will. That doesn’t mean we don’t ask, it means we start out trying to discern what that will is. And although we still may not always get that part right, as we do the searching, we draw close enough to God to be content with the answers (even when it’s “no” or “wait”) God gives.

I’m slipping from my intended purpose here… but consider that an “intro” to what I’m about to say… PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! As we draw close to God, as we seek to do His will and not just our own, our prayers begin to take on a shape that changes the way we live, the way we see life, and the way we handle the life we’re given.

It’s so fitting that I’m writing this and that it will fall on my blog history right after “Mothering, the struggle is real”. The struggle is always there, but in the last 6 or so weeks since writing that (man, I need to write more!), God has done some really great things in my life.

You see, I have 4 children. As wonderful as they all are, 2 of them are pretty strong-willed. My first strong-willed child has grown out of most of the issues we had when he was younger, and is proving to be a quite the young man. But it seemed the same things I used on him are not working on the other strong  Iron-willed child. And I’m struggling, 6 weeks ago, struggling wasn’t a strong enough word… I was drowning.

Then a friend asked some advice on Facebook about how to parent a child whose heart is not changing. And I immediately remembered what worked on my 1st child that I had neglected in my current parenting struggle. And here is where I’d like to really start this blog post…

When my first-born, who was such an obedient wild child, would show these massive fits of rage when we simply asked him to pick up his books nothing we did taught him to control his outbursts. We tried giving him ways to express his frustrations… but nothing seemed to work. At my wit’s end (and at this point I had only 2 children, and was not nearly as stressed out), I began sneaking into his room at night while he slept and laying hands on him and praying. I would spend 30 minutes or more some nights, 10 min other nights. But I begged God to change his heart. To speak to the heart of my little boy when I could not reach it. Within days, his behavior changed.

The problem is, as he got better, I got worse at spending that time in his bedroom at night. Don’t get me wrong, I always pray for my children,  WITH them and in my own personal time… but I wasn’t spending that concentrated time in prayer on a consistent basis.

So fast forward to what brought me to write that last post. My poor little girl is struggling hard with BIG emotions, and small coping mechanisms. And her drained momma is running out of ideas. Until I was reminded by a friend’s search for answers, that I had the answer. Well, GOD has the answer… PRAYER! This Iron-willed child of mine can be relentless at times. And now, with 4 children, all doing school, and having activities, and needing different things at different stages… I’m tired! And I need answers. And God reminds me… “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Oh how I need that joy… that FULL JOY! So I began that journey. I sneak into her room at night, and I cuddle up next to her. I rub her back, I kiss her face, I stroke her hair, and I pray over her heart.

“God, I’m failing! But you love her even more than I can ever love. Change her heart. Take away her rage and replace it with peace. Take away her triggers and replace it with happiness. Take away her frustrations and replace them with dependence on YOU!” I go on to pray for me as a mother. “Lord, I’ll mess up! Help my patience. Expand my heart to see where she’s struggling, and give me compassion for her during the process.” I continue to pray many things over this child.

And here’s the thing… Let’s be real. Sometimes when our children are consistently a struggle, although obviously our love for them never ceases, our “like” level starts to drop. Cuddling your sweet blessing from God when they are calm and peaceful increases your compassion and the child’s likability. And in that moment, when that peaceful little angel is sweetly sleeping, you can fight the biggest battles for her that you’ve never be able to fight in the midst of the chaos of the day.

Although it took some time of suffering before I remembered this gem of information,  I eventually began the process of praying over my sweet baby girl. And now… today… I feel I have my real child back! We’ve had our bad moments, but there is such a tangible change.

You see, I’ve tried it all. I’ve tried more sleep (her and me). I’ve tried being strict. I’ve tried letting up. I’ve tried letting her choose, complimenting more, hugging more, begging, pleading, and crying. But I had asked not, so I received not. It sounds superstitious to say, but superstition has nothing on prayer! Not only has her behavior changed, but so has mine. I’m calmer, I’m more likely to see the issues, more in tuned to how God wants me to handle said issues, and I completely see her in a new light.

God is in the business of changing hearts. And only HE can do it. We can teach our children, we can lead our children, but we can not change their hearts. And once we begin to pray for our children’s hearts to follow after God, God listens and answers.

In the midst of busy days, I’d crawl into bed finally get cozy and then realize that I had not gone up and laid hands on my child like I had in the days before. “But I’m already tucked in. God doesn’t care if I lay hands on her as long as I just pray.” I thought. So I’d pray in my warm cozy bed. Then the next night I’d do the same… slowly getting out of the habit. And just as before, her behavior began to slip. We were going right back into the Iron-will. What was happening? I mean, is it mandatory for us to have a specific formula to how we pray over our kids? A certain posture? A specific time of the night? Are our prayers dependent upon our rituals? NO! They are not. But, God was teaching ME something through this exercise and I was not in direct obedience to that. I do not understand it all. I don’t claim any top secrets when it comes to prayer. But what I do know is that God asked me to have this particular discipline and when I do, I see results, when I don’t… I see those results, too.

I asked Pastor if he thought it was possible God was using this exercise to show me something specific to the method, or was there something Biblical behind this kind of prayer and the changes we are seeing because of it. The Bible does talk about laying hands on the sick. It talks about how when the apostles laid their hands on people the Holy Spirit would come upon them. The Word of God mentions Moses laying his hands on Joshua to commission him into service to the people of Israel. There is something wonderful about laying on of hands. But also, there is something about your child waking from a deep sleep and seeing their mama praying over them. She smiles at me, cuddles up tight, and plays with my hair. She is no longer lost in the shuffle of her siblings. She no longer is a middle child who struggles to find her place in the family. She is no longer a rambunctious character who can’t  won’t sit still long enough to read a simple book. She’s the apple of my eye. Just me and her… and God!

Whatever the reason behind doing it, God is doing it. Now, multiple weeks later just as she begins having her big emotions, (and although she even lets them out for a split second) she is showing that she DOES actually have self-control. Imagine that! A fruit of the Spirit. Not only have I increased my prayer time with her, but she’s following suit and has been praying on her own. She is SIX! And she’s extraordinary!

Each child is going to teach their parents something. I could go on and on explaining all the unique things the other three have taught me. But right now, I’m learning to pray. And I’m gleaning all the benefits of God’s mighty answers to my prayers.

Prayer changes things. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, according to His will, and He WILL do it! I challenge you to try it! And please let me know the results.

pastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

Mothering… The Struggle is Real

I’m not in a good place today. It hasn’t been a positive mothering day, and I’m currently locked in my bedroom with the left over ice cream (I didn’t even put it in a bowl!) bawling my eyes out. Why? Oh for many reasons. One, however, is that I feel alone. Even though I have a very supportive husband. He isn’t here when the kids are at their worst. And so although I may send frantic text messages to him during the day threatening to run away, he doesn’t see what happens on these bad days. So I sit… all alone… unable to reach out.

Why is it so hard for mothers to reach out? Why is it so hard to admit that we are struggling? Why can’t we call up our friends, or maybe even our family members and vent about our disobedient child and our mothering struggles? Maybe you have your own reasons, but I don’t because I feel judged. I’m aware that this feeling could totally be me, that my friends and family are not judging me at all. But I don’t see enough support for mothers to have that hope that I can venture out and describe how completely lonely I am, or how I feel like I’m a complete failure as a mother. I don’t always see enough love for mothers who struggle, so when I do, I fear the same judgment they receive.

Something about how fast our fingers can type on an anonymous internet and how slow our minds are to censor creates  a very threatening atmosphere. If you’ve ever read an article about a parent being raw with their struggles, you’ve probably read the comments that follow. Sure there are many that are encouraging and loving, but there are just as many who bash and beat down. They judge a person based on 5 paragraphs of her life. They say wicked things going as far as to say they don’t deserve to be parents. As if the parent themselves haven’t already beat themselves up over and over again because of the struggle. These people are ruthless. ***I have my comments on moderation only. No bashing allowed here.

What would happen if mothers felt comfortable and felt they could go to their online life and seek support for the struggles they are having? What if a mother did lose it and hit their child, then come looking for help immediately after**… and what if we actually helped? What if she found the courage to seek forgiveness, to get professional help, and became the mother she always wanted to be by receiving love from fellow struggling parents? Unfortunately many are met with criticisms, generalizations, hate, and judgment. They are told that they aren’t good mothers because they aren’t perfect.

Sadly it doesn’t always have to be from strangers on social media. Sometimes the reason we sit alone in our struggle is because we’ve heard our friends, and probably even joined in the bashing of another mom. We’ve heard our friends talk about the boy with the bad behavior and how the mom should have done this or that. We’ve heard the judgment in their voices as they give the reasons why the child is so ill-behaved. We may have even been the instigator of the conversation… until we realize we have a kid just like that. But then who can you go to? The friends who saw fault in the other boy’s mom? Nope, we sit in silence… all alone… and continue to struggle.

We hear a friend rant about the behaviors of all those imperfect children and we think in our minds, “What if they knew about MY child!?” And we instantly close ourselves off even further.

Whether it be online or face to face, it’s hard to find rest within a mom’s struggle. It’s sad that our ice cream is a more warming environment and brings more comfort than a friend’s shoulder to cry on.

But can I offer some repose? You are NOT alone. Moms struggle on every block. Kids misbehave. Kids can be rotten for entire days at a time. And God loves your child more than you can even comprehend. I know it’s hard to believe. In the midst of the biggest fit you’ve ever seen, God still loves. (and I’m talking about Mom’s fit, too).

I found myself sitting with the ice cream carton in one hand, a spoon in another, and tears pouring down my face as I cried out to God asking, “Why isn’t my love for her enough!?” Feeling lost and alone, God was right there. As I prayed, He comforted. Don’t you know God says the same to us? We all mess up, we all throw fits, we all go in a direction God never intended for us to go. If only we understood His love for us. So, since God won’t give up on me, I won’t ever give up on my child. And I’m not giving up on trusting there’s support out there.

If you’re struggling, and “Strong willed” doesn’t even come close to describing your lovely child… come sit by me! If your non-judgmental friends suggest the “glitter calm down jar” and you immediately envision your child throwing said jar… come sit by me! If you are getting ready to down your 3rd pint of ice cream this week all alone in the corner of your bedroom… hiding from your children… come sit by me. You’ll find no judgment here!

Just remember, just as not every child is the same, no mother is either. Some children don’t sit still, or calm down with a mother’s hug. Some children don’t feel love as easily as their sibling, throwing mama for a massive loop… and some moms can’t handle as much as others. Some moms are laid back and able to handle their iron-willed child (seriously, what is stronger than strong willed??), and some moms crumble in stressful situations. We don’t need your condescension. We need someone to hold us up; to push us along when we grow weary; to carry our burdens when things have gotten too heavy. So, come sit by me. I promise to be careful when talking to my friends. I promise to add one more comment in the encouraging column. And I promise to keep praying!

If you need someone in your corner, email me. I’d rather you have some support than reach for the ice cream! (Save the ice cream for making it another day!) I’m saving you a seat by me! Email me @ thePastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

**Before comments come pouring in, please know that I personally do not hit my children. However, if you have, or you’ve come close… I’d rather you reach out than do something that would harm your children, or add to your struggle. Take a deep breath, and contact someone for help.