You know the moment it happened to you…the day you opened your mouth and your mother came out. The things you promised you wouldn’t say to your children because you didn’t like hearing them as a kid, are the very words that rolled over your lips. You may have been on the playground, at the grocery store, or in the middle of the doctors office, but most of us have had the experience where we have uttered the words we heard as children from our parents. We are the products of our parents. Good or bad. Right or wrong. They have shaped our lives and left a lasting impression.
As a mom of young children, my life is constant discipline. I will admit there are moments that my mother has come out of my mouth. When my youngest son is whining, questioning my reasons for saying no and asking “why”, I have answered in haste, “I am the mom, that’s why”. My answers of “because I said so” did very little to “encourage, comfort, and urge them to live lives worthy of God” (I Thess 2:12) but rather demanded respect and absolute submission.
In her excerpt, Model Parenting, Carla Barnhill explains “that is not the way God parents us. True, our Heavenly Father asks for obedience to his commands – and he punishes those who persist in rebelling against him – but He is also compassionate, slow to anger and faithful to forgive. He doesn’t demand our respect; He wins it by His loving care and mercy. God doesn’t push us into obedience; He invites us to follow Jesus”
In reflecting on parents and children, I have realized that we are really not that different. We fuss. We complain. We lose patience. We get frustrated. We whine. Not once has The Lord stood over me and said, “because I am God, that’s why” or “because I said so”. Instead, He offers me grace and guidance when I make mistakes. He loves me, affirms me – He definitely disciplines me – but offers forgiveness and complete acceptance.
Every day He shows me how to be more like Him. Each day I am learning to parent more like Him. I pray every day, that when I open my mouth…my Heavenly Father comes out.
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, so The Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” Psalm 103:13
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
Fear. It is a commonality among humanity. What we are afraid of may vary, but the emotion is the same. I have heard many moms express fear of sending their child to school for the first time. Most parents fear middle school. Others express fears of rejection from a team, club, or group. We fear that we aren’t doing enough to train them up in the early years, or fear we are doing too much and not letting them be kids. We fear they won’t fit in, or we fear our children will make the wrong choices. Fear is a common emotion. What we do with the fear and our response to it, makes all the difference.
While away at a recent conference for my jewelry business, I heard Elizabeth Draper, Diamond Executive Director in Premier Designs say that whatever it is you fear, you need to “do it afraid.” So if we ask the question, “What are you afraid of?”, everyone has an answer. Jesus however did not ask His followers the question, “What are you afraid of?” Instead He asked, “Why are you afraid?” As He was crossing the Sea of Galilee in a small fishing boat, a life-threatening storm started to swamp the boat. The Disciples feared for their lives. What did Jesus say? He didn’t say, “What are you afraid of?” He said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:23-26)
For Jesus, the question is, “How in light of my presence can you be afraid when you should have faith?” In Scripture, doubt is not the opposite of faith. Fear is the opposite of faith. So in a world of fears, God’s answer for us is not courage – God’s answer for us is faith! He asks us to trust Him. He asks us to do it afraid.
I am sure that Moses was afraid as he led the Israelites towards the Red Sea not sure exactly how they would get across, but he trusted God. He did it afraid. Abraham was certainly afraid when he led his only son Isaac up Mount Moriah to be sacrificed, trusting that he had heard The Lord; unsure of the outcome. He did it afraid. Mary, mother of Jesus, expressed fear when the Angel of The Lord appeared and told her that she would have a child and her son would be the Messiah. She did it afraid. Then in Matthew 14:29-31 we read, “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. He did it afraid. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith.”
We fear because we do not trust the Lord. Have faith in what He is calling you to do. Of what are you afraid? What do you fear?
Have you been afraid to quit your job and fulfill your dream to be a stay at home mom because the numbers don’t add up and you are not sure how you could afford it, but you know God has called you to it. Do it Afraid.
Are you struggling with your marriage, parenting, and feelings of “am I the only one who is dealing with this?” but you are afraid to talk to someone about it. Do it Afraid.
Do you fear going on a mission trip to a third world country and leaving the comforts of home? Do it Afraid.
Do you fear telling the truth about your past because it may make people uncomfortable or reject you or your children? Do it Afraid.
Do you fear telling the neighbors down the street that you actually cannot afford the lavish vacations they continue to invite you on because you are up to your neck in debt? Do it Afraid.
Are you afraid of fostering or adopting a child God has laid on your heart of a different race because of what your extended family will think, say, or do? Do it Afraid.
What God calls you to do may not be easy, but trust Him
and Do it Afraid.
“I can do this.” “We’ve got this.” “I’ve got these kids under control.” Ever heard any of those? Ever said any of those? I am always amazed at the moms I run into that say those very things; thinking they themselves can do this whole parenting thing alone. Parenting in total isolation.
I learned very early on, through the counsel of my very wise mentor, that Todd and I cannot do this parenting thing “alone.” We need a village, a mom posse, or what I’ve come to call my “12.”
In Matthew 4 we see the story unfold as Jesus calls his disciples. His 12.
One definition of disciple I found was one who embraces or assists. He was looking for men who would embrace and assist him on his earthly ministry.
Now, I’m sure we would all agree that he didn’t “need” his 12. He could have fulfilled all God called him to do on this earth by himself. Yet, he called out 12 men to help assist him, to learn from him, to continue his mission, and to pray for him. He didn’t do it alone.
There are many pictures of this throughout scripture. In Genesis 12, we see Abraham leaving to go to Canaan WITH his family. In Acts 13, we see Paul, Barnabas and John Mark sent by the Holy Spirit to Cypruss.
And then there is my favorite example of this value for “12″ which is found in Exodus chapter 17. Moses has commanded Joshua to go fight the army of Amalek. Moses, Aaron, and Hur would go and pray. Moses would hold the rod of God up. When he held the rod up, God gave them victory. As you could imagine Moses’ hands became tired, so Aaron and Hur would hold his hands up for him. What a beautiful example of the importance of surrounding yourself with “12.”
Now maybe your saying, “I don’t have a 12″. I bet if you look around you could spot a few that could be part of your team. Maybe it’s a grandmother. Maybe your church body, a pastor’s wife, or a mom who is a little farther ahead in her mothering journey. They are out there. Prayerfully seek them out. 12 people who won’t always tell you what you want to hear, but be willing to speak the truth in love if necessary.
One of my 12 has a son that has been battling her on this whole Instagram thing. She feels very strongly as to why she won’t allow him to have an account. She has reached out to her 12 to help hold her hands up during this long battle.
Part of my 12 is a group of moms who meet around my table every Thursday to walk through this motherhood journey together. Another portion is a library full of Christ centered books. And my church is a huge part of my 12.
The bible says in Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.”
We need counsel in our motherhood journey. I don’t think any of us can say “we got this!” Find you a mom posse. Find your very own “12″.
My daughter recently has had to be on antibiotics. She had to take them 3x’s a day. That would mean taking a pill at school. Luckily in her 5 years in school, we have never had to take medicine. Little did I know about the hoops you have to jump through to allow your child to take medicine while at school.
Well I sent her off with the pill and a little note. I quickly realized that was not the protocol. I received an email and a call from the nurse stating the proper procedure for taking medicines at school. Sheesh. Let’s just say its a lengthy process.
In the process of filling out and dealing with the forms, a thought popped in my head- Why not just send the pill with her in her lunch and she can take it without anyone knowing it? Forget all these forms, right!! Before the thought even left my brain I was convicted. That would be dishonest! I would be asking this child that I’m trying to plant character and conviction into to LIE! Yikes! In that moment I was willing to trade CHARACTER for CONVENIENCE.
I love how parenting reveals the sinful caverns in our hearts. I saw mine that day.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young person keep his life pure? [He can do it] by holding on to your word. The Amplified version says “conforming his life to it.”
His Word, I must conform my life to it. Everything must line up with his Word; my thoughts, words, actions, motives, everything. Even when its not convenient. How can I hold a standard up to my child that I myself do not live by. Telling them one thing and yet I do another. I want my mom motto to be “do as I say, AND as I do.” A lofty standard for sure.
Found an article on building character in your kids. It said, “Building Christian character is activity motivated by a desire to pursue holiness, and to be conformed to God’s standards. It chooses the smile of the immortal God over the smiles of mortals, and works to win that smile.”
I’m asking my kids to “pursue holiness.” To pursue “the smile of God.” I love that.
Knowing there will be failures and grace along the way, but a pursuit nonetheless. I want to pursue holiness, but its those little things that stump us. Those “little white lies” that jeopardize our example to our kids. I almost blew it, and thankfully that time, conviction came before I followed through with my plan. A straight and narrow path. A path that stretches and challenges me. Holiness.
Easton’s bible dictionary says this about it. “Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance.” Pursue it, run after it. It is the standard!
Psalm 119:9-16 How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.
I do not like to be told what to do. A lot of the time, I think I know best. Unfortunately, everyone in my house thinks that they know best, which at times can create a little friction. Thank goodness God has given us a couple of guidelines to live by as a family unit- a hierarchy- that calls us each to submit to a certain authority. We are all called to be obedient to someone.
Children are called to be obedient to us as parents. We are the authority in our homes. (Sometimes it may not seem like that as a stubborn three year old stares you down in utter defiance. Believe me, I have been there. Just remember that you are bigger than they are!)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
We want our children to be heed our instruction because we know better. We see the end result at the beginning and therefore know which decision leads to the best outcome. For example, I know that even though my son wants to stay up until midnight, that will NOT lead to a happy child come six o’clock the next morning. And I know that even though he wants to blow off his homework to play outside, that kind of choice will not benefit him in the end. Or when he wants candy for dinner, that his body will not feel great without the nutrients it needs.
In our house, these rules are not up for discussion or negotiation. They do not change based on what the other kids are doing or on what my son thinks they ought to be. And if he does not obey, there are consequences.
My son may not understand the choices that we make or rules that we establish. Many times, he thinks that we are just being mean. But we make those rules for his best interest. We make those guidelines so that the end result is a good one. We set certain standards because we LOVE him.
In much the same way and for the same reasons, we are called to be obedient to God and the rules that He has established. The Father wants the best for us and He calls us to trust that He knows better.
We have truly been adopted into God’s family! He has CHOSEN us to be His children!
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)
How awesome it is that we serve a God, a Father, that knows the end and can direct us down the best path.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.. (Psalm 32:8)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
So, I may not understand why He always wants me to forgive those who have hurt me or why I should pray for my enemies. I may not understand why I am called to submit to my husband. I may not see the reason behind dying to self and putting me last. But He does. And He has called me to be obedient. He sees the end result.
We must set the example of obedience for our kids. We must show our children just how great it is to serve a God that loves us so much that His rules and guidance lead us to our best ending.
As the school year comes to a close and summer is within reach, I’m sure we all say yippee! The pool is beckoning us. We are ready to leave behind, schedules, agendas, homework, and car line. Some of us love the summers; others are more apprehensive about how to fill the time. The days can at times get very long. I would like to offer a challenge to us moms- a goal of sorts.
Summer, for most of us is approximately 8 short weeks. I remember when I was in school we had at least 12 weeks. Summers are definitely shorter now. Not a lot of time. Add camps, VBS and vacations, and the time is gone. My challenge to you is to not fill up your days only with the pool, play dates and sleeping in. Let us purpose in our hearts to seize some part of the day to intentionally pour something eternal into our kids. Taking a little bit more time to till and plow their hearts. Taking advantage of not having to rush out the door or rush to bed.
Now, there are so many fantastic tools that can help you do this. Just visit your local Christian bookstore to find shelves stocked full. You can be creative. Have your kid/kids go through a Proverb a day and have some discussion time. Maybe you make the focus this summer on the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). My kids have spent the summer learning the various names of God. I made each one do a creative poster board at the end. Last summer with we walked through the 23rd Psalm and put it to memory. There are so many ideas. I’m sure most of you are way more creative than me. The point is not WHAT you do, but that you DO something. Even if you work outside the home, you can take advantage of the nighttime. Remember God is in the business of making MUCH of our LITTLE.
In his book Revolutionary Parenting, George Barna says “There will never come a time when I can satisfy God by saying, ‘Look, my church community did a great job leading my kids to embrace You and Your principles.’ As we have seen both the scriptures and experience of successful parents show that this is the job of the parents. Not that this is something I’d shy away from-I welcome the privilege- but it does require intentionality that has not been central on my calendar or my mind.”
The definition for intentional is ~done ON PURPOSE, intended.
The summer is a perfect time to be ON PURPOSE in shepherding your child’s heart. An exercise in futility some days for sure, but a promise to bring forth eternal fruit!
So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (Galatians 6:9)
Moms our mission field is not OUT THERE, it is those little ones under our feet, and tugging on our pants. Don’t grow weary. Seize the summer!!!!!!! Your “tan” can wait:)
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech. Horrific, senseless tragedies. Innocent children slain at the hands of evil. Hundreds of parents receiving the call we pray we NEVER have to answer. All forming the simple question on their lips, why?
Now I dare not speak as if I know anything about the unexplainable loss of a child. I cannot fathom the depth of a loss that deep. I want to speak on a hope I have found in the midst of these despicable crimes. A nugget of truth in the midst of the sadness.
I’m sure like me, after any tragedy you tend to turn to “over protect” mode. You scoop them up, lock your doors and keep them in. You take a little more time tucking them in at night, you steal a few more kisses, you aren’t so “put off” by the spilt milk or the 2 am feedings. You cling. You lay claim on those little lives entrusted to you. Holding them a bit tighter. Its just what we mothers do. “We must protect our children.” Yet, I believe when tragedies like these happen ; God is asking us not to tighten our grip, but to actually let go.
1 Samuel chapter 1 is a beautiful, yet challenging view of motherhood. Hannah wanted a child, a son. Day after day she would go to the tabernacle and pour her complaint out before The Lord. She made a vow in verse 11, that if The Lord would look down on her and give her a son, she would give him back to The Lord. On down in verse 22, The Lord indeed answered her prayer and gave her a son, and when he was weaned she took him to the temple and gave him back to The Lord. Gave him back. Walked away from.
I have to believe she cherished every moment she was given with him. She savored everyone of her today’s she had with him. In chapter 2, she prays a prayer of PRAISE, then in chap 2:11, it says she returned home WITHOUT Samuel. She relinquished her hold. Gave him back to the God who had given him to her.
Our little ones, our sons, our daughters are not for US. They are for Him. For His greater purpose.
We too must release them, and trust that he is able to keep them far better than we ever could. He wants us to send them out, not shut them in. As they go we can stand on Psalm 139:5 “You are all around me-in front of me and in back of me. You lay your hand on me.” One version says “you hem me in.” Oh I love that. He’s got them. The great I Am is with them. Too often, especially in tragedy, we stand paralyzed in fear of tomorrow, and miss the reality of the NOW, the MOMENT,the TODAY. Cherishing, grateful, living for TODAY. Praying for their protection….yes, praying for their safe return…yes, but releasing them to him. Loosening when we want to grip, sending out when we want to hold tight. Resting in his always watchful eye. Hannah knew to whom she was releasing Samuel to. Her prayer of praise in 1 Samuel chapter 2, speaks of her God who is trustworthy! Verse 2:”No one is holy like The Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God”
Tragedies happen everyday. We mothers send them on their way and breathe a prayer of “God protect them.” Let us live in the today we’ve been given. Every moment we are granted the gift to be their mother. Making every game of hide n seek count, every ~the wheels on the bus~ song count, every letter you help them trace, every bible story you plant in their heart-make it count for TODAY.
God is in our today, trust him with their tomorrows.
If only I had a larger house…
If only I could be a stay at home mom…
If only we had a basement or playroom…
If only my children were closer in age…
If only my children weren’t so close in age…
If only my husband made more money…
If only my husband didn’t have to travel…
If only my children obeyed me…
In Lies Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, “At one point or another, we have all believed that if our circumstances were different, then we would be different. The truth is that if we are not content within our present circumstances, then we are not likely to be happy in any other set of circumstances.”
The truth is that we know “all things work together for our good” Romans 8:28. I have always thought of this verse like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Our Heavenly Father sees the entire picture while we see only one piece or one section at a time.
I too have believed the “if only” about my children. My oldest son is a brilliant and creative child, full of energy, animation, and adventure. He is quick witted and very loving. He is generous and genuinely concerned for others. He is also impulsive, emotional, and stubborn. My oldest is my most challenging to discipline and parent. I have often said to my husband, “if only he were more calm and obedient, things would be easier.”
After a long, difficult day with our children, I was particularly frustrated with my oldest’s behavior. Some days seem hopeless as a parent, as if nothing you are doing in terms of discipline and love are working. None of the pieces of the puzzle are fitting together. My husband, Justin, and I were discussing our son’s behavior and my feeling of hopelessness when God spoke through him and straight to me. My husband asked me, “even if he never changes, if his behavior never get better, would I be able to accept WHO he is and move forward.” I was struck by this question. The answer was obvious – of course! Of course I would accept him as he is currently. Of course I would love him, even if he never changes. In that moment, I realized, WOW – that is how God, our Heavenly Father feels about us! He parents us, corrects us, and disciplines us and has given us Jesus as our example to become more like Him. He desires for us to be Christ-like and yet He accepts us exactly as we are with all of our faults and difficulties. God has given us His son to teach us that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our attitude, and not on our circumstance.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Paul understood that we may not be able to control our circumstances, but we do not have to let our circumstances control us. We believe that our circumstances make us who we are. I believed that my son made me frustrated. I believed that ordinarily I was a calm, quiet, peaceful mom filled with love, patience, and self-control until my son changed the circumstance. I was saying that HE made me angry, that a five year old controlled my emotions. Nothing was further from the truth. He didn’t make me angry or frustrated. I allowed myself to become frustrated by the circumstance. It controlled me. Only through Christ living in me will I learn to be content in my circumstances and not allow them to control me. John 3:30 says “He must become greater, I must become less.” When I am in communication with Him, I become more like Him. It’s like our parents told us, we are who we hang around. When we hang out with Christ we become more like Him and we see His personality in our own lives – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control” Gal 5:22-23.
I am not there yet. My life is still being put together like those pieces of the puzzle.
Puzzles grow piece by piece, section by section, until you get to the end and are staring at a beautiful masterpiece. It’s satisfying. It’s exquisite. It’s complete. I believe this is also true of parenting. So I will choose to be content in my present circumstances, knowing each day the pieces of this puzzle are coming together and when it is complete, it will be a beautiful masterpiece!
Prideful, selfish, angry, controlling, dishonest….these are words I think none of us would want said of us. Words that we don’t like to see IN us, and yet at times are true OF us.
Those words are hard to see in ourselves, but what about your children, your precious babies. Do you see them in your child? Let me ask it a different way. Do you WANT to see them in your child? I believe whether we want to or not, WE MUST!
Our children, just like us,are sinners. A newborn doesn’t have to be taught, if I cry I will get fed or picked up; it’s natural for them to want their way. A 2 year old doesn’t have to be taught what the word “MINE” is. They just know anything and everything they want is THEIRS! It progresses from there.
Now my husband and I are pretty strict. We have a very short rope, as we like to say. From the time our first born was little we adapted the “3 D’s”; disrespect, dishonesty and disobedience. These are immediate grounds for swift consequences. As I’ve been parenting longer; I would say that God has shown me, if I only get at the behavior I am missing the mark; I must get to the heart that is behind the behavior. That’s where it gets tricky. It’s much easier to look at the behavior and dismiss it as “age”, “hormones”, or “that’s just the way he/she is”. If I have to look at the motive behind the behavior,that calls for a much deeper action and FORCES me to see the “ugly” places of my “precious” child’s heart. Tedd Tripp says in his book Instructing A Childs Heart, “Without the vision for heart change, your instruction, correction, motivation and consequences will become a desperate attempt to get your children in line. You will be satisfied with external change in behavior rather than training the hearts of your children.”
I know firsthand this is a hard task. A demanding task. I don’t like to recognize those “ugly words” when they rise up in ME, let alone my child. wholeheartedly believe the heart drives the behavior, so I’m called to act. Lord help me to not be a Pharisaical parent. Making sure the exterior of my child is dressed well, good mannered, well rounded, says all the right things, and yet their neglected heart is full of jealousy, malice, discontentment, anger and pride.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Moms; we MUST go after the HEART. I want to share a very personal story that the Lord used to confirm his word to me about the heart.
Last summer we were at the beach. Our oldest daughter is a very intense, competitive fast pitch travel softball player. We LOVE softball in our house. Our team was playing in Florida. (Softball is the only thing that could get us to the beach. My husband and I are the weird people that do not like the beach. Nothing about it appeals to us.) I must admit; it was a very fun trip and I found out that all 3 of my children, despite my feelings, love the beach and the ocean!! Hello.. Shark week?!?!?
While on this trip I had a mom on our team approach me and tell me something Sydney had told her daughter. The information she shared wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was enough to have me in full on “defense of my child” mode. Any mom knows what I’m talking about. Not my Sydney! I couldn’t believe that she would have shared with her daughter what she told me she had shared. No way. I thanked this mom for telling me ( in my head I’m still thinking NO WAY) and assured her I would talk to Todd and Sydney about it. I explained the situation to Todd and he agreed with me, Sydney?? No! At dinner that night we knew we needed to get to the bottom of it. We started asking Sydney lots of questions. She was very adamant that she didn’t share this information with her friend, and we were very satisfied in believing her.
Through the course of dinner the story started changing. Guilt and the conviction of the Holy Spirit finally overtook her and she remorsefully admitted that she did indeed share that information with her friend. Todd and I were in complete shock. Not only did we wholeheartedly believe she would never have shared the information, but we were both very adamant in defending her to this mom. No way!!! Sydney had sinned and we were in utter shock.
Needless to say huge consequences followed, and a very humble apology was made by me to my friend. I began to grasp, that God had allowed me the gift to see my sweet, blonde headed, beautiful child’s…..sinful heart. Not only her heart, but mine as well. A revelation that my daughters heart, like mine, must at times receive the pruning shears. Mark 7:21-23 “And then he added, ‘It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
From within. It had come from within. I had to be willing to see and tend to those “ugly” things in her heart in order to give her the tools to find a way of escape. I seized my moment. Applying the truth of God’s Word and watching it transform the ugliness into beauty. Offering her the cup of grace to wash those areas. Assuring her that we all sin and fall short, but have a God who is for us and wants to transform us from the inside out.
Equipping Sydney that in those moments of weakness, and failure, to run to Jesus who is able to forgive and cleanse. 1John 1:9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
Mommas…our goal is an internal change. Our God is concerned with the heart. We must be willing to tend it.
The “self-fulfilling prophecy” is an expectation about the future that ensures its own validity. The 20th century sociologist Robert Merton is credited with coining the expression in which the expectation directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, due to the connection between belief and behavior.
I have experienced this in my own life. I distinctly remember being in sixth grade and sitting in my classroom while the teacher handed out report cards at the end of the day. As she walked around the room handing out the envelopes, she waved an envelope in the air and announced with delight to the entire room that “the person who receives this report card has earned straight A’s!” then she walked over and laid it on my desk. I sat in disbelief. Staring at the report card, I remember feeling every eye on me. I had not set out to earn straight A’s, nor was I naturally gifted in any way. But in that moment, my life changed. Every classmate knew me as the “smart” girl. They believed that I was the “straight A student” and I began to believe it myself. I became the straight A student. I had an expectation to fulfill. I had a standard to achieve. The bar had been raised and I was going to do everything possible to reach it every time. And I did. Every report card. Every year.
Over the five years I have been a mother, I have heard God speak through other mom’s directly to me regarding this very topic. Let’s face it – motherhood is no easy task. It can be very trying at times. While working one day, I met a woman and mother of six for the first time and she was asking about how long I had been teaching, if I had children, and making small talk. I told her I had three children within eighteen months and explained that at the time, my oldest was four and my twins were two and a half. Most people respond with, “you sure have your hands full.” To which I always reply, “oh yes, they can make me crazy!” Then we usually chuckle and walk away. But not this day. And not so with this woman.
As I began to laugh she looked at me very seriously and said, “do not speak those words about you or your children.” Then she gracefully spoke God’s word over me in encouragement and said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) She told me that God gave me a sound mind and that I am not crazy and neither are my children, for crazy is NOT of God. It was a powerful message delivered straight from The Lord through an absolute stranger and I have never forgotten it.
A month ago I was at another work event with Premier Designs, my jewelry business, and I was positioned next to a husband and wife team who represented their own business. As it always happens, small talk began and we started getting to know one another. Through our conversation, the wife began talking about her nearly grown up children and reminiscing about the days when they were little, like mine are now. She told me that she and her husband decided when their children were young, they would only speak positively about their children, even if, in the midst of their circumstances they felt differently. For example, she said they always told people, “we have great kids!” or “our children are amazing!” She mentioned that she never spoke aloud the phrase “terrible two’s” or “troubling teens”. She explained that whatever they were told about themselves, they would believe. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Wow! Once again, a message God spoke to me through a stranger.
This is as valid for me today as a mother as it was many years ago as a student. After hearing this message repeated from these seasoned mothers, I began to realize that my children just might be fulfilling the expectations I have spoken over them. Could this be the reason they are running around and acting so…crazy!?! I have set that standard. I have spoken those words over them. I have set the bar and they are reaching for it. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” If we tell our children they are “wild”, then they believe they are wild and will become a wild child. If we tell our children they are “wonderful”, then they believe they are wonderful and will become wonderful.
A friend and I recently spoke about her son, Liam. She was expressing her frustration regarding his laziness. She couldn’t get him to do anything around the house because he was so lazy. He never puts away his clothes, he never does his homework, and he never helps do chores. She mentioned that he had a nick-name in their family, and that everyone calls him “Lazy Liam.” I guarantee you Liam is only fulfilling the expectations of the words spoken to him. The bar has been set for Liam to be lazy and he is fulfilling it.
Our words and our expectations greatly influence our children.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)