Posts tagged Parenting
Parenting: Roots of Sin

As I was puling weeds on the gorgeous sunny clear morning, the cool 70 degree breeze made the job a little more bearable. With the hardened and dry ground, pulling each weed and overgrown grass was a struggle. I came across a root that was buried just below the surface, but extended several inches into the grass. As I bent over to pull the root seeing just how far it would extend, I was able to bend it just enough to begin breaking it.

But then…

It wasn’t easy to twist in order to fully break and destroy. Rather, what once bent a little, was now a wrestling match twisting round and round but the root too strong and deep from growth that it would not easily be broken. It was then instantly God gave me a picture of how the sin in our lives, when given a place to grow (in darkness) has the opportunity to grow and thrive growing stronger buried in the ground of our lives. I thought of the many parents that I know who are struggling watching sin in the lives of their children taking root and growing deeper and deeper. In secret, what began as small choices and mental decisions now taking root and becoming stronger and deeper having more control over other life choices.

As I wrestled, with every twist in hopes the root would break, my heart began to break for the mothers whose hearts are broken, whose eyes can no longer shed another tear, who hides in fear of being exposed, who pleads to God for her child.

When we give place for sin to take root in our lives, Satan has access into our lives. We must confess and repent of our sin daily recognizing our need for Jesus, our Savior.

As sin is given a place to grow, often in secret and darkness, it becomes stronger and can take over all areas of our lives mentally, physically, emotionally, making life choices based on sin and not on God’s Truth.

I sat there thinking about how I weep for the broken hearts and how I long to come alongside each weeping mother fighting for her child. There is power in prayer. As I pulled with all my might the root that would not fully give, I thought about the power of fighting together…if only I had a friend here to pull and fight this root with me!

As mothers, when we come alongside those who are hurting, we don’t need the details…we just need to commit to pray. Details quickly turn to judgement and gossip. As we fight for our children, committing to storm the gates of Heaven on our knees, this is the best gift of friendship that can be shared.

I began to think about this root now exposed. There is safety when it was still buried and it could not be seen. But now, in the shadows of strong beautiful budding trees full of flowers and fresh blooms, the exposure of a root that is being fought to be destroyed can be embarrassing. When we fight the sins of our lives, we see those who may be in a strong season and place of thriving in their relationship with our Lord and we want to hide. We don’t want to be exposed.

And yet…that big tree that is flourishing once began small, once struggled, once had battles of its own before it could thrive and blossom.

To every parent who is fighting and pleading for their child’s heart to be changed and turned to repentance, don’t give up. Our battles are not of flesh and blood, they are not of this world. Satan and the demonic are active and alive deceiving the hearts and minds of many. We are in warfare—there is a Spiritual battle being fought daily. Our battle is on our knees in prayer and by the power and blood of Jesus.

  1. Fight for your children with the power of prayer. Pray Scripture over them daily. Douse them with the Word as you pray over their mind, heart, eyes, ears, actions.

  2. Allow others to commit to pray with you and for you. Anyone who really cares to pray doesn’t need details.

  3. Humility-remember with every tree (life) that is strong, they have had their own struggles that have made them stronger. Choosing to not be intimated by strength around you, but allowing those who are stronger to pull you up is a gift—not a sign of weakness.

  4. Confess your sin and repent daily, not giving access or entry to the enemy. Unconfessed sin can take root and grow. But when we confess our sin, our good good Father is faithful to forgive us…every.single.day!

We can’t help fight the roots of sin in our children’s lives, if we are bound by the roots of sin in our own lives.

As Easter is upon us and we reflect upon the sacrifice of the cross, let’s not forget the POWER of the resurrection. We don’t just celebrate and rejoice that Jesus, our Savior, sacrificed and gave His life for our salvation, we rejoice in the resurrection. Because of the resurrection, there is power in the blood of Jesus. Sin is defeated. As children of God, we have authority in the name of Jesus!

Celebrating our Children's Spiritual Birthdays

It’s no secret that I like to have fun (always). I love to celebrate life, creating a space for making memories regardless of life circumstances or challenges. As a living life-to-the-fullest kind of gal, life is short and yet such a beautiful gift from God, our Creator, that making each day count is really important to me. Celebrating our spiritual life as well as our physical life is a gift we can give to our children.

Today is Reagan and Jordan’s spiritual birthday…13 years old!! They are 13 year old teenagers as daughters of the King! Monday is Riley’s spiritual birthday when she will turn 10…double digits!! January is a big month of celebrating God’s incredible gift of salvation, our redemption, and being reminded of who and whose we are in Him!

Why is it really important to celebrate our children’s spiritual birthdays? Personally, I think it reminds them of who they are in Christ. It reminds us all that this is not our home and that the things of this world pale in comparison of our eternal home. Our days are numbered and one day we will all spend eternity…somewhere. Being able to remind our children of their eternal home and that our days on earth are for God’s glory not our own, is really important to me. We celebrate our daughters physical birthdays in a variety of traditions we have created (I’ll share those another another post), but every January I want my 3 Princesses to be reminded they are royalty! They are daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They are created in the image of God-image bearers. They have been created to bring God glory and reflect Him in their words and actions…not just when they are adults but NOW as children and teens! When we remember who we are and whose name we bear and represent, it reminds us that our words matter, our actions, and behaviors mean something. I could not be more proud of my double digit (on Monday) Riley, and my two teenager daughters Reagan and Jordan and how they shine Jesus well!

Here are 3 practical ways you can celebrate your children’s spiritual birth:

  1. Remember! It seems easy, but just remembering to write down the date they ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their lives is a big deal. The Bible is full of reminders and admonitions to His people to WRITE things down, TELL them to your children, CREATE stones of remembrance so that you will not forget! Every year, for us January 17 and January 21 we tell our girls Happy Birthday and celebrate their new life in Jesus. (If you or your child does not remember the actual date they asked Jesus into their lives, pick a date close to the time of year it was within the year it occurred, and celebrate that date each year.)

  2. Encourage! Find ways throughout the year to encourage your children spiritual. Make sure you are creating a time and space for them to have Jesus time. For my daughters, they do their own Jesus time independently, but sometimes I like to ask them what they are reading and learning. Make your home a place of continual conversation about Truth (Jesus), life from a Biblical worldview, and a peaceful place of worship with worship music as we point our children to Jesus in our 24/7.

  3. Memorize! Hiding God’s Word in your heart as a child is essential. The verses we know best as adults are the ones we memorized as children. Knowing God’s Word in our hearts will help convict and remind us of His truth in tough and challenging situations.

Proverbs 31-ing

I read this blog post recently and it really resonated with me.

The limitlessness of our modern culture often leaves us either paralyzed by too many choices or continuously burning the candle at both ends trying to do it all, be it all, know it all.
Neither is healthy nor really productive.

I’ve certainly found myself at odds with the image of the Proverbs 31 woman — but the reality is, girl had PURPOSE. She did *specific* things, not all things. She was FOCUSED.

How often do we side track from our calling trying to make sure we’re not missing out on something that “could be it”?
Refuse to move because we haven’t fully analyzed all possible outcomes and balanced how we would react to them?

What if we missed something??

I know I personally struggle with fear rooted in a perfectionist mindset and with wanting to try everything out there instead of honing in on a few things I’m already passionate about and building margin into my life to *be* rather than just *do*… virtue may express itself through our actions but not all action is virtuous… if God Himself took time to rest and enjoy His creation, why do I tend to think I’m above that?

I simply cannot possibly be everything to everyone at all times — and I’m learning to be thankful for that rather than trying to ‘overcome’ it.

His power is made perfect in my weakness. His grace is sufficient for me.

“God has given us enough time in each day to be who He created us to be and do what He wants us to do.” He has equipped me for His calling. I need only embrace His presence. I don’t know about you, but for me, that requires some stillness. And I believe that in that stillness, as I quiet my heart before Him, He will continue to reveal to me my calling and to call me to the actions that most honor what He has created me for and bring Him the greatest glory.

I was designed with intention. And if I will allow myself to clear the clutter and connect to that, then I will be empowered to be much more intentional with how I spend the time that the good Lord has given me.

Wow. Talk about a lesson in time management.
Thank you, Father, for that sweet revelation.

Guest Contributor:

Andie Fair.jpg

Andie Fair is the starry-eyed wife of her high school sweetheart, Executive Creative Director of Chaos to their kiddos, a quirky, open-door homemaker with a soul wired to explore the unknown, a heart crafted to lead with love, and a second mug of coffee forever in the microwave. She’s a certified health coach, aiming to make healthy living easier for families and a volunteer disciple maker who gets her thrills guiding others to engage in an active relationship with their Redeemer. She writes randomly and strives to live intentionally. 

Miracle Red Cowboy Boots

When the Lord first moved our family to Dallas we lived on my husband’s military pension while he looked for the job that would launch his second career.  We were so blessed to have the resources that permitted us to move, plant ourselves in a wonderful neighborhood close to family, and provide our kids with a private school that accommodates their different learning styles.  Our needs were fully met, but we had to watch our pennies.  We had to put little luxuries on hold, just for a season.  Our discretionary abilities were on restriction.  Life became smaller, and in some ways sweeter. 

In my daily prayers for my husband, one of the things I would ask for was peace and confidence in his provision of our family.   Looking for a job is hard on a man and I didn’t want to knowingly add stress to his burden to provide.  So I prayed, and God helped me imperfectly live out my intensions.  This season was hard for me.  My friends who know me well could tell you why.  I want stuff.  I know, we all want stuff, but some of us are better at putting our desires on the back burner.  I’m not so good at it.  We had a new home and I’m one of those who loves to fuss – a little coat of paint, a few new light fixtures, maybe a rug here, maybe a lamp there.  Curtailed, for a season.  In prayer the Lord said, “this phase seems like a test for your husband but it is also a discipline for you, to prune away unnecessary desires that won’t satisfy you…can’t satisfy you.”  

The words of 1 Timothy 6 reverberated in my spirit, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

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And so we set our minds on contentment.  Our kids had to grow in this area too.  I have a tween daughter.  She’s a very tweeny tween.  She has had a very nice life.  And because she is a child, she has no idea how nice it has been.  So when we chose to curtail expenditures, well, it was a bummer for her.  One afternoon we were playing tourists in our own town during a “staycation” Spring Break.  It was a Western sort of day at the Fort Worth Stockyards.  I don’t know why I did this, but I let my daughter amble into a cowboy boot store.  Real cowboy boots, not the ones from Target.  Beautifully stitched, butter soft leather, expensive cowboy boots.  And, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I let her try some on.  I have to admit they were cool - red, with elaborate stitching.  She looked cool, she felt cool…and then she looked at me in anticipation.  “No, not today.”  The answer was predictable of course.  But it didn’t sit well with her.  She proceeded to have what we lovingly call “a hissy fit” in our family.  And it was a loud one.   She was hoping to embarrass me into buying boots that were too expensive for most of us, including me.  What she actually did was embarrass herself.  I took her outside as fast as I could get those pretty boots off her feet and we had a little talk.   She was so certain those boots were vital to her happiness.  And here I was denying her the key that would unlock the answer to all her fashion problems.  

“Look,” I said, “you are not the first young woman who decided the only thing she needed was the one thing she lacked.  Eve with her apple was the first.  We will let these boots go and you will survive the disappointment…be better for it.”  But the lesson couldn’t stop there.  I told her about my prayer for her daddy, who was working hard daily, building his network, and searching out a new way to provide for us.  I told her my prayer was peace and confidence for her daddy.  Was her ingratitude fostering that?  Was she helping?   “Oh no, mom.  I didn’t think about that.  I don’t need those boots.  Never mind…”  

My girl and I love garage sales, thrift stores, and antique barns.  We love the hunt.  God is so faithful. Wouldn’t you know the very next day we were passing one of our favorite resale shops and decided to stop.  Can you guess what was right up front, displayed and waiting for her?  Yep, an almost new pair of butter soft red leather cowboy boots…in her size…at a small fraction of the price of the originals!   At first I wasn’t sure why the Lord had decided to answer my daughter’s “hissy fit” with the very thing she was longing for, but I do not pretend to understand all His ways.  His sweetness in response to our sourness continues to astound me.  I can’t be sure, but I think He was showing my daughter that God meets our needs…and sometimes our wants…if we open our hands and bend our will to His choices.  I think He was showing all of us…

Read with me in First John Chapter 2: 

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

This sounds like an order or a command, and a tough one at that.  How do I not love the world?  The lust of the flesh, our physical cravings.  The lust of the eyes, our longing for things.  The pride of life, our confidence in earthly resources.  These things seem to rule me. How to I resist?  

The answer is simple and complex all at once.  I think maybe this isn’t a command at all.  Maybe it’s really it’s an explanation.  Do not love the world…because the world will not satisfy. It cannot satisfy.  Sure we can buy the new boots and we can over-extend our finances to do so.  But you know what that leaves us with?  Fancy feet and the same old sick soul.  Nothing changes.  Boots wear out.  But when we trust the Lord for our salvation, our provision, our direction on this journey, then everything changes. 

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  This, friends, is the secret to a happy life.  It’s like a code.  That thing you want, that thing you can’t live without? Eve’s apple, my daughter’s boots, or my new lamps…it’s not the fix we’re hoping for.  Jesus is the fix.  Only Jesus. 

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

*Miracle Red Cowboy Boots first appeared on Daughters of the Deep

Guest Contributor:

Julianna Mathers.jpg

Julianna Mathers is a writer, speaker and ladies Bible study teacher who is passionate about encouraging women.  She has instructed little girls, teens, and adult women for the past 20 years through discipleship, Sunday school, and in-depth ladies Bible study. Along with her husband, she has co-taught couples and hosted a life group in her home for years. She's had the privilege of sharing her miracle adoption and mothering stories with hundreds of women through speaking events. 

With her relatable, poignant and funny style, she loves to challenge, dream with and draw women into a deeper knowledge of scripture and a more intimate relationship with the Lord.   

Julianna graduated from the University of Virginia and spent 11 years working in corporate America before becoming a wife and mom.  She is married to Dwight Mathers, a retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain and is the mother of two wonderful adopted children.  In her free time she loves decorating and re-decorating her home, cooking big messy meals, writing about God’s lavish grace, and exploring blogging.  Julianna and her family have recently relocated to Dallas, TX from the Northern Virginia area.  They are members of Prestonwood Baptist Church.  Julianna and her husband Dwight are both active in Bible studies with Riverstone Ministries, a ministry centered in her neighborhood.   

Bringing Our Fish and Loaves to Jesus

Do you ever feel overwhelmed as a mom?  Oh, that is an understatement, right?!  Do you ever wonder how you are going to be enough for your kids who need so much from you?  From the first moment we meet our precious little one face to face we fall in love and instinctively want the very best for him or her.  We desire to nurture our little one physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We begin to feel the weight of the responsibility of leading this child into its future.  All these emotions can happen to us in a matter of moments.  I shouldn’t speak this way for all moms, but those were exactly my feelings when I met each of my three babies.  The love that welled up in me and poured out was immeasurable, but along with those loving feelings came the feeling of inadequacy.  Will I be able to be enough, know enough and do enough to always provide exactly what my children will need? 

Maybe you too can relate?  Let’s look at a passage in Scripture that may help us with these feelings.  Check out John 6:1-14.  Take a moment to get out your Bible and read the passage.  It’s the well-known story when Jesus feeds the five thousand.  Picture the scene in your mind.  There were thousands of men, women and children gathering around Jesus that day.  He was meeting their needs spiritually with His words and His presence, but they also needed to be fed physically.  How could they even begin to feed thousands of people?  So, what did Jesus do?  He asked one of his disciples, Philip, to come up with a plan.  Another disciple, Andrew, chimed in and said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” (v 9)  Then the disciples went to retrieve the small portion of food available, all the boy had, and put it in the hands of Jesus.  We know the rest of the story…after giving thanks Jesus was able to feed the five thousand, with food left over.  Jesus met the physical needs of thousands of people with just two fish and five loaves of barley.  Amazing!

You might be thinking, yes that was one of Jesus’ great miracles, so how does this passage relate to an overwhelmed mom holding her newborn in her arms thinking about the future?  Or to a mom raising multiple children who is pondering if she is doing enough to pour into them physically, emotionally, and spiritually?  Or even to a mom who is in the thick of the teenage years doing her best, but questioning if her best is enough to prepare them for the real world?

Let’s address those thoughts.  There are many truths to take away from this passage, but there is one I have come to love and find rest in as a mom.  Let’s look at the boy with the obedient heart who was willing to give what he had to Jesus.  Then, what did Jesus do?  Jesus Himself filled in the gap between what was given and what was needed.  We, as moms, can learn a great deal from this passage.  God asks us to have an obedient heart, be willing to give what we have to our role as a mom and trust He will fill in the gap.  None of us can parent perfectly, do it all, be it all and ensure our kids will receive enough from us.  BUT, we can give our fish and loaves, what little we have, and watch Jesus make what we give, BIGGER, in His hands.  Bottom line, we need to parent WITH JESUS.  

God invites us as moms to parent with Jesus; to rely on Him, trust Him, walk with Him, day by day.  We can rest in God’s sovereign plan, take our daily marching orders from Jesus, and He will take what we give and make it enough for our kids for His plan and His glory.  He chose YOU before time began to be the mother of your specific children. He knew in advance they would need someone like YOU. (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139:13-16) And when you parent with Jesus with an obedient heart, He works through you to grow your children and you each day to be more like Him.  (Philippians 1:6) In the hands of Jesus, you are enough for your kids because you are a child of God, created with a godly purpose as a mother.  Let’s not allow the feelings of being overwhelmed to take over our minds and cripple us from taking what little we do have and putting it in the hands of the Almighty God. (Philippians 4:13,19) Invite Jesus into your mothering, give Him your fish and loaves, and rest in Him to make it into enough…with leftovers.

A Mother’s Sabbath Rest

Don't you just love your kids?  Aren't they one of the very best gifts God has ever given you? As much as we love our kids, they do wear us out.  Now let me ask you this, how is your energy level?  When was the last time you stopped to take some time of rest for you?  No, I'm not talking about a nap, or asking your husband or friend to watch/carpool around your kids so you could get a break, but a true rest, a sabbath?  If you can’t remember, read on.

One of the best things I did as a young mom was to begin taking a Sabbath rest.  Did I have time for it?  No.  Was it a necessity?  I learned the answer to that question was YES!  When my third child was about 12 months, I was overwhelmed.  This wasn’t the first time I was overwhelmed as a mom, but this time I was about ready to give up.  My temper was getting short, my patience low and my energy level was below zero! Have you ever been there?  Don't get me wrong, I loved being a stay at home mom, but I was EXHAUSTED.  What could I do?  I couldn’t see an end in sight where I could refuel.

Guess who had the answer?  My sweet and thoughtful husband.  He said to me one night when he could see my desperation, "Hon, why don't I book you a hotel room next weekend?  I'll set it all up, watch the kids and you go take a break."  My immediate response was ”What? Really?  Oh, that sounds like heaven, but I can't do that." My husband said, “Why not? I'm booking it for you right now.  You need this.  Let me do it for you.”

So, after praying and getting over the guilty feelings I had for leaving my kids and husband for the weekend, I was out the door and off on my very first two day/two-night mommy Sabbath rest.  It was a bit of a strange feeling at first walking into the hotel room, alone.  How would I spend all this free time?  Free time had now become foreign to me, but here is a glimpse into my weekend.  I got to sleep (uninterrupted), eat (uninterrupted), shower (uninterrupted), enjoy a TV show (uninterrupted), shop (uninterrupted), go to the bathroom…are you starting to see a pattern here? It was amazing!  All the simple things I used to take for granted before kids now felt like heaven. Can you sense my spirit changing from exhausted, impatient, and short tempered to peaceful, restful, and thankful?

Without a doubt, the most meaningful part of my weekend was the sweet (uninterrupted) time with my Savior.  I was in the middle of a Bible study called Captivating with my close girlfriends. Being away from the kids, I could spend as much time as I wanted working on this study which led me into reading my Bible, singing praise songs, praying, and just hanging out with Jesus.  It was AWESOME!  While using the Captivating study to direct my God Time that weekend, the Lord met me right in my current struggles of motherhood of exhaustion and feeling like I was not enough for this overwhelming role as a mom and wife.  Jesus encouraged my soul in the most personal ways.  My homework for Captivating that week was to ask God why He thinks I am beautiful.  As I asked God that one question and began to journal, the result was page after page of encouragement to my soul from what I sensed was the Holy Spirit putting thoughts in my heart and mind.  He spoke loud and clear to me (not audibly of course) through His Word, my prayers and my journaling.  He told me ‘Laurel, you are enough just as you are.  You’re beautiful.  You’re Mine.  You’re enough.”  The truths He taught me that weekend have been a source of strength for me in my role as a mom ever since.

A Sabbath is not a set of rules to keep, but it is a reminder of our dependence on God.  We need Him, and we can find rest in Christ amidst the chaos that our world can bring.  Jesus even gave us a personal invitation in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  Sabbath is a reminder to abide daily in His rest and His Spirit.  Jesus Himself IS our Sabbath rest.  Sabbath is not only when you take extended times of rest, but can also be the intentional act of pausing in your day to rest, to spend time with Jesus whether in prayer, reading the Bible or worship.  The Hebrew word sabat means “to rest or stop or cease from work”.  God even modeled this rest for us. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2)   Remember, we are made in His image.  God knew we would need a time of rest as He did, and commanded us to build it into our lives not only for physical needs, but also for spiritual needs.

My Sabbath rest at the hotel renewed me, refreshed me, gave me physical rest, lifted my spirit of perseverance, and gave me a longing to be back with my family when my rest was over.  Ultimately though, this time reminded me that Jesus Himself is my source for rest.  Have you made time to stop, get alone for a few days and rest?  Maybe this would give God another opportunity to encourage your soul right where you are at in your current stage of motherhood and get some much-needed physical rest?  Why not? 

Several thoughts might be running through your head right now:  *I don't have the time?  Be intentional in making time for rest, it will almost never just appear.  *I have no one to watch my kids?  Pray and ask God to provide a way for a mother’s Sabbath rest for you.  Ask your husband if he will watch the kids or swap kids with a friend, each providing an extended rest for the other.  *We don't have the money to go to a hotel.  You do not have to go to a hotel.  Be creative, you can spend the day at a park, a lake, Starbucks, the library, your church, shopping, meeting a friend, etc. and return after the kids are in bed and then repeat the next day.  Or better yet, ask a friend if you can stay in her guest bedroom and tell her to pretend you are not there! I know you are creative and you'll think of some great alternatives.  Ask God to show you.  He will!

Ever since my first mother’s Sabbath rest I have taken many more.  They have all looked a little different.  Some were alone, just Jesus and I all weekend.  Some were taken with special girlfriends.  Sometimes I didn't feel like I really needed it, but my husband encouraged me to do it anyway, and I was glad I listened.  God has used these extended Sabbath rests to speak truth into my life, touch my heart in personal and unforgettable ways to strengthen my faith, and refresh my spirit and attitude.  This reminds me, I'm ready for another one!

So, are you ready?  What are you waiting for?