Friday, July 24, 2015

Parenting with God

"I'm mad at you because I want my daddy to come home!"

Those were the hardest words I've ever had to hear my son say to me and my husband. We knew he was hurting emotionally. As parents we never want our children to feel any pain and as mothers we want to make it all better. Children are innocent and pure of heart, free from the scars life can give us. Being a blended family has brought many challenges and issues we have been forced to face but it is our reality daily. 

When I divorced, my son was only 3 years old and at the time I had no idea my son would suffer emotionally from my choice years later. As parents we never intend to hurt our children but in our selfishness and frustration we indeed hurt them even if the signs aren't visible until years later. Divorce is hard on everyone in a family but in my experience it's our children who suffer most. 

Sitting in the middle of our living room Monday night, I watched  my 6 year old with tears streaming down his face express his anger and resentment towards me and my husband. We were hurt but immediately validated his feelings. We explained it was okay for him to feel angry and explained expressing them was healthy and God knew his hurt and that God would bring healing. I apologized to my son for the pain I had caused him and reassured him how much mommy loved him. In that moment I asked my son to forgive me and explained we must forgive those who have hurt us. 

  • Colossians 3:13, make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so we must forgive others. 
  • Ephesians 4:32, instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 

I had to take responsibility for the pain I'd caused him but also recognized if I didn't address forgiveness with him, anger and unforgiveness would take root in his little heart. Eventually it would create an unhealthy relationship between myself and his step dad. As we continued to discuss his hurt my heart just broke over and over. I thought to myself, "how can I fix this? It's my fault he feels this way." In that moment God reminded me I'd been forgiven and that he loved my son more than me and He was and is more than "ABLE" to comfort him.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:2, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. God offers comfort to all. 

We serve an awesome God, He is all knowing of our fears and failures but still loves us unconditionally. Parenting our children is more than just depending on our own wisdom, it must include dependence on God daily for guidance. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes, but just like a child looks to a parent for love, comfort and support, we look to God for those same needs. God parents us and we parent them!! We were created in His image to be a reflection of His love for all mankind. Our children are our greatest blessing and what a great responsibility He has entrusted us with. 

Some personal advice for helping your children emotionally in a blended family:

  1. Let your children express their feelings because they are REAL
  2. Offer as much emotional support necessary and lots of love and reassurance
  3. Prayer, lots of prayer - both with them and for them (prayer changes things)
  4. Seek counseling (every child's emotional needs are different)
  5. Talk to them as much as they are willing to talk to you about their feelings 

I hope you are encouraged and I am praying for you! This is a difficult journey, but we are not alone in it, praise God!

Friday, July 17, 2015

You are Worthy!

In order to move forward from your past, you must first understand that you serve a forgiving and gracious God. Only the devil has interest in focusing on your failures no matter how big or small because he knows it keeps you in bondage and makes you feel unworthy of Gods grace. I'm here to tell you that God wants you to live a life free of condemnation. 

Romans 8: 1-2, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the spirit who gives life, has set you free from the law of sin and death. 

Each of us have our own story or circumstance which has probably left us feeling God could never forgive us. For me it was my divorce. God's word says that he dislikes divorce, yet we still know he loves the sinner. He hates divorce because he knows the deep wounds it causes His children, who He cares for more deeply than we could ever imagine. God knows your individual circumstances and your heart. You can't allow yourself to live with the shame, regret, embarrassment and failure if you are going to succeed in your new marriage. The enemy wants you to believe those awful things about yourself and he is the author of all lies! In my experience, two areas which have helped me to thrive in my new blended marriage are forgiveness and taking every thought captive, let me explain. 

Forgiveness of Self and Others 

Forgiveness is one of the hardest areas to tackle. It takes prayer, remembering you're not perfect because God isn't looking for perfection instead he's waiting for you to go to him in your brokenness with a humble and open heart allowing him to renew your soul. 

When you find yourself struggling to accept Gods forgiveness, ask the holy spirit to lead you in truth and acknowledge your need for healing. God will meet you right where you are with open arms ready and willing to help you put your past behind you once and for all. The most important piece to this is actually "believing" God has forgiven you. There is nothing so terrible Gods grace can't forgive. He wipes the slate clean making you white as snow. Forgive yourself because God already has!

1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faith and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   

You must also forgive those who have brought you pain (previous spouse) and let any bitterness, anger, resentment, or negative feelings you continue to harbor go. If not, you only delay the emotional healing your soul is seeking. Unforgiveness is like a bad habit...the more you feed it, the stronger it grows. Dealing with these issues if you truly want to move forward, is essential to being successful in your new blended marriage. 

Take Every Thought Captive 

If you allow the voice of the enemy to speak louder than Gods truth in your life about the past you give the enemy a foothold into your mind and emotions. 

Taking every thought captive is vital to your emotional and mental healing. I have found it so important to know the word of God. I can't tell you how many times the enemy has attacked me but for every negative thought I'm ready with scripture and Gods truth to fight back. Fighting the enemy is a spiritual war and because you are Gods child you have been given authority over the enemy to break and defeat his strongholds in your life. 

Colossians 2:10, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.  

As long as you listen to his lies you remain a prisoner to your past. You see, Satan's mission is to tear you down right from the beginning of your new marriage causing confusion and turmoil. The word of God is your weapon and necessary in order to quiet the enemy's whispers. In the book Blending Families by Jimmy Evans and Frank Martin they explain, 

"That's how Satan works to tear couples apart. Whenever he sees conflict or stress in a relationship, he capitalizes on it by whispering into our spirit. You just married the wrong person. You'd be happier if you'd never met them. You were better off before. He uses the memories of our past ties and relationships to destroy our present ones. And he does it because he knows it works. Satan understands the emotional ties created by previous relationships, even if we don't. And Satan will use any tool at his disposal when trying to destroy what God has joined together. This is perhaps one of the most damaging and prevalent "day one" dynamics facing almost all blended marriages. In just about every blended family, there are remnants of past relationships, and if those memories haven't been healthily resolved, Satan will use them to tear the family apart."

Put your trust in God and allow him to silence the enemy. Having a blended marriage and family is a challenge but the joy you'll find with God on your side is a blessing. He will walk with you, guiding your every step. So relax, sit back, and give God the wheel. He's got this. Don't ever think you are not worthy of Gods love and grace because your past does not dictate your future. You are valuable to God and with each day he's refining you. We are a reflection of his image, pure and whole...YOU ARE WORTHY!!!! 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Heart of the Matter

Communication is the most important part to any relationship whether in your marriage, with your children, friends, family, etc. Without it, we are unable to convey our thoughts, feelings and emotions which are all directly connected to the heart. 

As I tucked my son in for bed, he said "mommy I love spending time with you." In that moment my heart overflowed with joy with those few simple words.

With so many things pulling at us for our attention, it's easy to forget each moment with our children matters. As I laid there while he drifted off to sleep, I asked myself, "what is the one thing I want my son to remember when he's grown and leaves our home?" The answer, my LOVE! Communication is more than just talking, it's making a heart to heart connection investing in their lives daily. I know for me, connecting with my son can be as simple as enjoying a day at the park, sharing a bowl of ice cream, listening to him practice his reading, or just simply direct eye contact. Each example communicates love and attention which brings value to our parent child relationship. I believe our relationships with our children are a lot like our relationship with Jesus. As parents we want our children to know our love is unconditional and they are priceless. With Jesus it's the same. Our ultimate responsibility is to imitate the unconditional love of Jesus to our children. 

Author Danny Silk in Loving your Kids on Purpose explains it best: 

"As parents, our goal is really to introduce our children to a relationship with God by doing our best to relate to them like God does. More specifically, God has entrusted us with the task of recognizing the unique qualities in our children that connect to his calling on their lives and helping them to develop those things on purpose."

Next to God, I want to be the biggest influence in my son's life and the only way to do that is to know his heart. It's takes lots of time, attention, wisdom, and guidance from God but know I'm doing what's required as a parent, 
  • Proverbs 22:6, Raise a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
With so many distractions from day to day, I have to be intentional with my son just as God is intentional with us. Each moment and opportunity we have to pour into our children are what I like to call, "fruitful moments". These are moments I'm sowing into the heart of my son and will one day see the fruit that grows.
  • Deuteronomy 33:14, Month by month your fruit will ripen in sunshine
  • Psalms 92:14, They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old.
  • Matthew 12:33, A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces.
The moments we have with our children are precious. Each minute, hour, day, and year is time you'll never get back. Once it's gone it's gone forever. I know we've all been there with a long list of to-do's, a long day at work, busy schedules, housework, laundry, and  all we want is to sit down and unwind, but don't miss the opportunity to communicate with your children. The dishes, that phone call you need to make, the e-mail you need to check, it can all wait. Put the world on hold and make the heart of the matter your priority!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Remove the Busyness & Connect to Life

Do you ever feel like things are so out of control and you just can’t get a handle on life?  You go through your daily routine feeling unaccomplished and frustrated seeing the negative in every part of the day. I know I do and yesterday was it for me.

Being a mom is one of the greatest blessings yet challenging tasks God has given me. There are days I ask myself what was God thinking when he made me a mom? At times I feel so unequipped to be a parent, especially when I lose my patience, discipline in anger instead of love, and allow my emotions to get the best of me. With so many things needing our attention it's easy to get disconnected from our true source of life and that's Jesus! We have to stay connected to the giver of life and ask him daily to fill us with his grace and love because apart from him we can do nothing, which leads me to my story.

So we have a rule in our home, no more than 2 hours of TV time a week and my son does not have a TV in his room, yes it’s true! My husband and I prayed about this before implementing it and felt strongly TV was interfering with my son’s development of character. We had noticed the talking back, being disrespectful towards us, disobeying, temper tantrums, among others were severely disrupting our our home. My son, age 6, is well aware of the TV rule but like any child his age he pushes the limits. Last night, after watching his 30 minute allotted TV time he absolutely threw a fit with all the dramatics, crocodile tears, screaming “it’s not fair”, y’all are mean, etc. After a long exhausting day I was in no mood to make this a debate. I reacted by yelling at him and telling him I was the boss and informed him he had lost the remainder of his TV time this week.

After I’d tucked him into bed and sat down beside him I thought to myself, “what if God reacted to our behaviors or temper tantrums in the same way?” I had never been more thankful in that moment of God’s unconditional love for us. We fail him daily yet he always responds in truth, mercy grace and love. He listens to our prayers, comforts us, and guides us with gentleness, yet a firm hand, (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres).

Yesterday God reminded me I’d been trying to do everything in my own strength, not his. I’d forgotten to focus on him and spend time with the one who brings life and allowed my busyness to overwhelm me instead of allowing God’s presence to overwhelm me. God is with us every second of the day waiting for us to reach out to him but we are so preoccupied checking off our to-do list we neglect the one “TO-DO” that matters most. Is Jesus on your to-do list today?