Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Parenting”

Let Me Love Without Brakes With No Breaks

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 The Message

I came across this scripture this morning.  I giggled at the first half and then quickly sobered up and leaned in to grasp the admonishment contained in the last sentence.  As I did, I thought of my husband and kids…those closest to me.  The ones who get to see all of me, the real me…the ones who get the full monty…the good, the bad and yes, the ugly me.  I got so checked…and then I became so grateful.

Grateful that God so loves me that He checks, then redirects me.  It’s so easy to step out of our houses and enter the world wearing our “faith” face, our “everything is peachy in my world” face, our “I love everyone” face and then return home tired and dusty, remove the mask and take for granted the very blessings God has given us.  The family hand picked by the Master.

Lately I’ve noticed how rapidly my children have grown, how in a blink they have matured and how I am “seconds” away, it seems, to being an empty nester.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!!!????

I have questioned myself, doubted myself and cried out to God asking Him to slow down the process….let me squeeze every minute that I have left with my babies; let me have a few do-overs. Let them remember all the good and forget all those forgettable moments.  The ones reserved only for the ones I “love!!!”  :/

Let me not be so busy and overwhelmed that I miss connecting with my husband.

Let me not sweat the small stuff…those things that look large at the time, but with time fade to nothingness.  Let me love them deeply, lavishly, unashamedly.  Let me focus on each of them individually and not focus on what is wrong, but on everything that is so right.

Let me live generously and graciously toward them, Lord, the way you live toward me.  Let me be slow in anger and quick in forgiveness; let my words be uplifting, encouraging, healing; let me show them mercy and kindness; let my love not be conditional…let me love without brakes and with no breaks.

Just the way You love me.

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Being a Mom is Tough

shoppingBeing a Mom is Tough!!!  Ha!!  Ain’t that the truth!!!  I am doing an online bible study and each week a topic is featured and an invitation extended for bloggers to blog and so here I am throwing my hat in, not so much to enlighten anyone — since we all know how tough, trying, treacherous, taxing, traumatizing parenting can be, (I’m pretty dramatic, I know) —  but I need some enlightening up in here!

I am mama to my only begotten son, Joshua, 15 (almost 16) and my girl Mariah, 14.  I have always anticipated each stage of development, bought the book and waited as they caught up to me.  I helicoptered  my way through the early years and had a few “special” moments along the way, but all in all nothing too traumatizing, I hope.

And so here we are smack dab in the middle of teenage years and OY!!!  I thought I was pretty well prepared and prayed up since my only begotten son has been a joy to parent…well, you know, he’s just like me (insert smirk and a back pat here) — but the problem I’m having is that my girl, bless her precious heart, is a little more of a challenge because…well, you know, she’s just like me (pre-Jesus) — help me Jesus!!  She’s a little more argumentative (she calls it debating); a little more headstrong (she says she’s an independent thinker) and a bit stubborn (um…me)!!  She took that turn in 6th grade and we’ve been riding this wave ever since — having some good days and some not so good days.

I recently shared with my goddaughter’s mom that in the process of parenting her daughter, she will be healed of some of her struggles.  This week the Lord, brought that conversation back to my remembrance and I embraced it.  I recognize that to be the case in my relationship with my daughter because the hotter it becomes, the more “my stuff” comes up and I am trying with every bit of my strength not to project.  Did I say OY!!!  After our last misunderstanding blow-up I heard myself say “I cannot wait for this ‘season’ to pass…I’d like to fast forward right through it.”  I immediately took it back because I realize that if I were to get my “wish” I would fast forward through some amazing times of growth and training with my girl and my only begotten son:)

So here’s what I will do instead….not in my strength, but in His:

I will not project “my stuff” on her as she “heals” me;

I will control less and trust Him more;

I will be quick to listen, slow to speak (a miracle in itself);

I will be open and expect to be stretched (some more)…(did she not absolutely stretch me to my limit during pregnancy?)

I will not take anything she says personally (Jesus take the wheel for real!!)

I will acknowledge that bad moments do not make a bad mom or a bad relationship!

I will remind myself that God chose me to parent my girl!

I am so looking forward to this bible study and all that I will glean from the other warrior mamas.  May we all be strengthened, empowered and encouraged knowing that we were called for such a time as this to influence a generation and may our legacy be a lasting one…one that bears fruit that remains.

“He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness (uprightness and right standing with Him – not for my earning it, but) for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

Watch, Record, Repeat

When our son was dedicated as a baby, one thing our Pastor said has really stuck with us as we raise our children.  As he held our son, he turned to my husband and said, “He’s gonna be just like you.”  Truer words were never spoken, for they are both watching every step and recording every word, every moment…

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Me and my girl circa 2010

Recently, my girl and I ended our full day of errands and busyness with a trip to Target.  My intent was to scoop up some paper products and hand soap.  There is no way I can get in and out of Target with my girl by my side so we lingered a bit, just about every stinkin’ aisle receiving a visit and we ended up with a cart load.  As we were loading up the truck, I noticed my hand soap wedged between the side of the cart and the seat where I had my purse.  Right away I knew I hadn’t paid for it and I was immediately reminded of my daddy and the times he would return change to the store clerk, or merchandise that hadn’t been paid for.  I was wiped and the thought of trudging back to the store and standing in line for a measly $2.99 was most irritating; however, there was no way I was going to allow a bottle of hand soap to haunt me and most importantly, I didn’t want to grieve the Lord.  I figured this would be a good lesson to teach my girl, who was watching and recording my reaction.  She was impressed by my honesty and as we stood in line asked me whether I was going to tell the clerk.  “No, “I replied….”you don’t have to trumpet your honesty or your good works.  The One whose opinion of you matters most knows and that’s good enough.”  As we walked back to the car, I shared Matthew 6:1 with her “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “  Your announcement of your “goodness” is your reward, and it doesn’t match the reward we receive from the Lord.

Well, yesterday my son and I were driving and he was talking about the movie he and my daughter and their friends saw recently and he stopped midway to compliment his sister.  You see, as he saved the seats, she and her girlfriends went to the concession stand and returned with arms laden with treats, popcorn and drinks.  As she distributed the goods, she realized that she hadn’t paid for a box of candy and without skipping a beat, she returned to the concession stand to pay for it.

The best part of the story?  She never told me.

Yes, Pastor…our kids are watching and they will be just like us.  Thanks daddy!!

Perfectly Patient…Uh Oh

We recently added another dog to the mix.  Mocha, a chocolate lab, joined our family last Sunday and I could tell already that there are going to be a whole lot of lessons exchanged between us.  Adam the mailman, Bruce the UPS guy, her breeder, friends on Facebook  have all said she’s going to be big….”look at those paws, that head.”  Gulp!!!  She’s sweet and busy and nippy and vocal and stubborn and smart and teachable.  I’m all those things too so I’m up for the challenge.  Today I glanced over at her as she was sleeping and twitching away and as I marveled at how big she was already at 9 weeks, I heard the Lord say, “don’t let the outside fool you, she’s just a baby…be patient.”

That comment resonated in my spirit.   Outward appearances can fool us.  That person who seemingly has it all together, is altogether wrecked and no one seems toIMG_3651 notice and the ones who get close enough to know the deal, don’t want to know the details…be patient.  That daughter, whose outside screams that she’s a woman is still a child becoming a woman, subject to the same disappointments and feelings, but lacking the experience and knowledge to navigate her world…be patient; that church member, newly saved and knowing everything…uh, yeah…still a baby…be patient!  Even though Mocha is pretty big for her age…GULP; even though at 6 months…maybe even at 3 months, she’ll be strong enough to take me down, I can’t be moved (well I can, but not in that way)…I need to remember that she’s still a baby and while I must be firm and unbending where her training is concerned, I must also be patient.

The one thing I have learned about patience is that you don’t ask for it, unless you are prepared for  every devil in hell posing as your boss, your neighbor and your loved one to be unleashed against you to test it and, well, you just have to pass!!  You should also expect to be tested in traffic, at the grocery store…even your appliances and – ahem, your computer will play a role in your testing.  You can’t pass a test unless you’re tested, right?  I’ve been a pretty good student of patience.  I say student because I have witnessed the fruit of it, but can confidently say that I will always be minding that garden.  I’ve been able to clip the lip, but you should see what’s going on in my head…those “murderous thoughts,” (not really murder, maybe just inflicting injury); the toe tapping (yes, in my head); the white knuckling, lip biting, deep breathing, counting…1, 2, 3…you feel me?  James 1:4 says “But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.”  So, if I give patience permission to do its thing, I can expect to be perfectly developed, with no defects and lacking nothing and those around me from my puppy to that baby in church will greatly benefit and I will maintain my perfect peace because I’m perfectly patient!.

Lord, perfect my patience…Uh oh!

I just have to say…this the second time I wrote this blog.  The first one…”error message…deleted unretrievable.”  You see what I mean?  OY!!!!

Be Humble or Be Humbled!

ImageThrough every season of our lives as parents, the one thing my husband and I have remained consistent with has been our love and loyalty to Jesus…a vow I made to the Lord when I got born again and began believing Him for a child – promising Him that we would raise our child in the Word, by the Word.  At times during this journey, we’ve been accused of being no earthly good due to our heavenly mindedness, and we’ve also been accused of being everything from boring to fanatics, as well as crazy and in need of a crutch.  We’ve never blinked or waivered in our beliefs or in our decision to raise our children in a crazy, crutch infested, fanatic filled glory cloud …hehehe

This morning my husband and I were encouraging one another for the choices we have made as a couple and as parents.  We talked about the sacrifices we’ve made and are making and during that exchange he complimented me on how recently he’s been tuning in to various conversations I have been having with our kids.  I listened as he gave God the glory for his wife and family as he recounted the difficulty a family we know is having with their children.  With all my heart I know he was not comparing our families or the way we have chosen to raise our children; however, my mind went to the story in Luke 18 where Jesus spoke of the two men (a Pharisee and a tax collector) whose prayers were heard in the temple…the Pharisee thanking God that he (the Pharisee) was not like “others”…the robbers, evildoers, adulterers and even the other man in the temple, the tax collector.  He placed himself over these people judging himself by all the good works he commits.  (Sound familiar?) The tax collector (a “sinner” in a category all by himself); on the other hand, prayed and asked God to have mercy on him, a sinner.

I quickly reminded my husband that every good decision we have made has never been our own, but one led by the Spirit of God.  He has been the One who has led the way in our household as we have yielded to Him.  He has been the One giving us parenting tips and tipping us off to situations that have needed our attention.  The times we have tripped or slipped have been times that we have disconnected from our power source.  “Don’t get it twisted,” I said…”apart from Him we can do nothing.”  And here is where I inserted a warning, lest we think ourselves untouchable.

We all have heard of those families who have provided a wonderful, Christian example in their households; who have cared for, provided for, entertained, schooled, trained and equipped their children in such a way that would seemingly point to a bright future, only to have their child lift their leg on all that is good and instead choose their own way.  That’s reality folks.

I am not so out of touch that I do not realize that each time my children leave this house they are bombarded with all of the tantalizing things that this world has to offer them.  I’m not dumb enough to think that they are not influenced by their peers or by media.  I’ve not been blind during the times that they have attempted to pull a fast one, quickly reminding them that I was born at night, but not LAST NIGHT!

Where am I going with this?  Let’s pray for one another, for our children, for our children’s friends.  Let’s remain vigilant, steadfast and wide awake.  Let’s be merciful with one another, for at some point we might need a little mercy! Let’s remember that if not for the grace of God, that one who is suffering could just be one of us.  Let’s not get so comfortable that we find ourselves praying like the Pharisee, thinking that just because we are good little Christians, trouble won’t find us!  Let’s remember to be humble by choice so that we are not humbled by force.

Lord, that Your grace not be lifted; that we remain attached to the Vine, in tune with Your voice, our steps ordered and directed by You.  We pray a hedge of protection around our children and declare that no weapon shall be formed against them that would prosper; that their appetite for that which the world offers decreases while their desire for that which pleases You increases.  We pray that they would be that light that would draw those in darkness to You, Lord.  I pray for Your peace, Your wisdom, discernment and insight into Your ways as we train up this next generation.

If I Ruled the World…

ruled the worldToday as I was shopping for a movie and video games for my son, I was stopped in my tracks by the movie titles and the video games which promote violence, that have become a source of entertainment for our children.  I’m blown away at how dark the titles and content are and I felt myself getting sick to my stomach as I surveyed them.  As I sit typing this, I hear in the background a piece on guns and how this particular store cannot keep their high powered rifles in stock.  I am shocked at how we have become desensitized to human suffering and sickened at the thought that adults are plying our children with this garbage.  It’s incredibly ironic how mindful we are to feed our children organically, strengthening their bodies while we pay to fill their minds with junk, systematically altering who they are and placing them in a position to harm themselves and those around them.   When a kid can pump 11 bullets into a six year old it’s not a stretch to guess that video games have done a number on the desensitizing of our kids.  I was reminded of my son who last summer purchased his first video game only to bring it home, play it for a couple of levels and then eject it and bring it to me saying that he felt it was something that he shouldn’t be exposed to.  It blessed me to know that in all of the “fun” he was having, he noticed the language being used and was turned off enough to give it to me to trash.

And so on my way to my car I once again remembered my childhood.  How the worst thing that could happen to a kid was getting “jumped” by the public school kids who were let out a few minutes after us. I recalled how free we were; how we spent our days “in the street” until it began to get dark outside or until we heard mommy call us in for dinner.  I remember the neighbors being friendly…I remember knowing our neighbors, respecting our neighbors, playing with neighborhood kids and having sleepovers unafraid of lurking relatives, my parents unconcerned that we would be unsupervised and tempted by the internet.  I do recall coming home from a sleepover and telling my mom how I was spooked by my friend’s mom and her friend who got drunk and happy until a fight broke out and my friend’s mom was knocked out when she stumbled and bumped her head on the table.  Ummm…that was the last sleepover at that house.  My mom was doing what moms do….she was protecting me!

It got me to thinking about the world that we live in now and I thought to myself…

If I ruled the world:

  • I would implore husbands and wives to work out their differences instead of exchanging the old for the new, sometimes having a spare on lay-away somewhere!  We are showing our children that it is easy to quit and start over.  There is no value in marriage.  Loyalty is so yesterday.
  • I would bring back something that has become old school…Communication!  We have replaced family time and face to face interaction with Apple and all things electronic and have allowed those “things” to baby sit and occupy the space in our childrens’ lives which we once occupied.  We’ve also fallen into the electronics trance and then wonder why our kids don’t write and speak in full sentences.  k? ttyl! LOL!
  • I would do away with fast food…nothing that is fast is ever that good!  Families would once again meet at the dinner table without their cell phones buzzing.
  • I would insist that parents discipline their children.  I’d let them know that their permissive attitudes are hurting, not helping their kids; that their kids don’t need a friend in you, they need a boundary setter; a rule instituter; someone who loves them enough to value them, teach them compassion, love, generosity, loyalty; show them how to be resilient; tell them the truth…that things will not always go their way, but they are strong enough to endure whatever challenge; that they are not alone in the fight because we will always be their support and God will never leave nor forsake them.  – We don’t discipline our kids because it “hurts their self-esteem.”  I recall standing in front of youth during a time of sharing and making the remark that I am teaching my son how to win and how to lose gracefully.  I teach him how to lose by letting him taste defeat and react in a healthy fashion.  I heard countless objections to my approach…I was accused of “child abuse.”  They were kidding, but their hearts spoke on the matter.

If I ruled the world:

  • I would insist that kids obey those in positions of authority.
  • I would bring back prayer in school.
  • I would teach our children to love and respect themselves and each other.
  • I would influence my neighbors to tear down their fences and open their gates and get to know those around them.  We don’t know our neighbors save the few glimpses we get as we pull our trash cans back in or run into them at the mailbox.  We have no idea what goes on behind their doors nor do we care to find out since our own lives are so out of control.
  • I would reinstate  love and compassion for our fellow man.  We run away from those who are struggling or suffering.  We don’t want to “get involved” because it’s none of our business or it’s their problem.   How sad, when their problem spills out of their homes and into ours!!  That long ago asked question needs to be revived and then implemented….”Am I my brother’s keeper?” — Yes, we would be just that.  We would notice odd behavior.  We would speak up; we would inquire; we would pray; we would check on that neighbor from time to time; we would bring by a meal just because we have extra.

If I ruled the world:

  • I would convince the retailers that violent video games, movies and books laced with filth just won’t sell, putting that media out of work.
  • I would not make available assault weapons to the public…period!

If I ruled the world, everyone would agree and then begin to change…then heal…then effect a change in their families and neighborhoods…and ultimately the world.  If I ruled the world…I would have some great ideas; some healing ideas, but the fact remains that if I ruled the world, there would still be choice because that is how God would want it…and sometimes our choices hurt!

My Boy’s Big Day!

I’ve been a bit on the mopey side lately…wanting to spend as much time with my son as possible.  “Mom, can I play on your computer?”  “Yes,” I say, knowing that he’ll be close enough for me to sneak glances at from time to time without being so obvious.  “Mom, do you wanna watch our favorite show now.”  “Yep, I’d love to,” as he settles in next to me on the couch.   Today marks a new chapter in my son’s life.  Today my boy is officially a high school freshman and I’m blown away!  Where did that time go?  I recall being told when he was a baby to enjoy the time with him because it goes by so fast.  How true!

It was quite clear to me that parenting entailed a series of separations and I anticipated the possibility of pain.  That separation began in the delivery room and I have been “painfully” aware of it ever since.  I was surprised at how sad I was when I brought him home from the hospital.  For nine months we had shared a secret while he grew inside of me and now that we had become separated, I had to share him.  Then came the time when he was around 10 months old when he decided that he no longer wanted to be trapped beneath my shirt for a drink.  He traded me in for plastic.  I was broken hearted when I dropped him off at preschool because the arms that comforted him throughout the day would no longer be mine.  I’ve watched him slowly become independent and while I celebrate his budding independence, I’m missing my little boy.

My boy…my miracle child, has been the sweetest, most tender gift from God.   I fell in love the day it was announced, after my first ultrasound,  that “this pregnancy is happening.”  From day one, I’ve been super aware that I would be raising someone’s husband, so I’ve been diligent about teaching him what girls like…be a gentleman; ladies first; open doors for them; smell nice; dress sharp; r.e.s.p.e.c.t.; leave room for the Holy Ghost when you dance (hehe);  honor your parents; love and serve the Lord…oh, and “the girls love the curls, son!”  I’ve also told him that “everyone starts dating at around 25.  That’s the cool thing to do!!” 🙂  On his school field trips, he always thinks of me in the gift shop and brings me home a trinket (and one for his sissy too); he compliments me constantly (for free…doesn’t cost me a thing:); he still holds my hand in public; makes a perfect cup of coffee and assumes the role of the man of the house when my honey goes out of town.  Recently, I’ve started teaching him how to cook and he has expressed an interest in learning how to wash clothes.  During those times that I’m stealing glances, I think about his wife (the one I’m praying for all the time) and I think about how blessed she will be.

And so the separation continues and as he begins this next chapter…. high school….that hormonal cesspool, I’m anticipating the dating thing and I REALLY need to get before the Lord since I’m thinking the dating at 25 deal ain’t gonna fly.  Long ago I heard a great answer to the dating question given by the oldest child of that Duggar family…the one with 20 kids.  When asked why he chose not to date, he felt that when one dates, they give a little piece of their heart to each person and he wanted to give his entire heart to one.  I’ve passed that little dittie on to my kids.  Another time, we were stopped at a light coming home from elementary school and we saw a couple of kids making out and my kids’ eyes were locked on them.  I said, “you see those kids there…chances are they will not be together long enough to marry.  He is kissing and caressing someone else’s wife and she’s making out with someone else’s husband.”  I’ve encouraged them to respect themselves…save themselves for their husband/wife.  I’ve pointed out that they can always be like “the crowd,” and dabble in marriage-type behavior; however, if they choose to remain pure, the “crowd” that has chosen that behavior can’t be like them.  Whew…what a tightrope we walk in this area..trying to walk the line, make the right choices, trying not to blend in in a world where everything is permissible.  The challenge for me remains in the angst felt by my kids when they are not allowed to run with the crowd…and so I remain prayerful that their appetites will be for those things that are pleasing to the Lord and beneficial to them; that they remain rooted and grounded in the Word; that they not be tossed and turned by the philosophies and doctrine of man, as dad and I keep watch over them as best we could, teaching them as much as we are able and trusting God to cover them better than we could ever cover them.

Today I released my boy into the next part of his journey into manhood.  He left this morning fed and watered with expectation written all over him.  Dad and I prayed over him, and with a kiss and a wave he was off.  I did good…Dad, not so much.  He called me from the drop off area sounding pretty weepy, blown away at how fast time has gone…

I Like Me

I can’t help it…I like me.  I like everything about me.  Everything that is right and wrong about me.  Everything in and out about me.  I just do…and if you got a chance to know me, I think you’d like me too.  I didn’t mean to sound so Dr. Seuss about it all.  I spend time evaluating myself every so often.  Some gals spend time primping and poking, injecting, plucking and painting and all that is great and necessary most times…no judgment — I just tend to look in cause for me if I’m right on the inside, it transfers to the outside…at least that’s the truth for me.

I’ve prayed with and for women who do not feel valued or valuable, validated or viable; who are led astray by their emotions believing whatever lies have been fed to them; women who have not been affirmed; have compared themselves to and competed with the lies shown on the cover and in the pages of magazines; women who have not been what I call loved from the inside out and as a result don’t love themselves; don’t feel worthy of any good and their choices in life sometimes expose their misguided “truths.”  I’ve often wished that I could open these women up somehow and pour into them all that I know about how much He loves them, how He has great plans for them, but none of that would stick, I know, until they learn to like themselves first!!

It’s a wonder that I never fell into any of those traps.  For how supportive and comforting my mother was as I was growing up, I never once recall her encouraging me in any way other than to tell me how pretty she thought I was.  After my first major heartbreak (I was 22) she tried comforting me the best she knew how by telling me to eat because I was too skinny, even though I still was beautiful and would find someone else, of course. I’m not slamming her.  I don’t hold that against her at all.  When you know better, you do better.  She didn’t know any better, having been raised with a stable of beautiful sisters, I’m thinking her mother probably comforted them in that same manner.  In fact I clearly recall, for instance, when my mom would ask one of her siblings how “so and so” was, the response always began with how “so and so” looked, usually followed by some sort of tragedy.  My sisters and I joke about that.  That’s my mommy!  I love her and from her I did learn how to demand respect!!  She was tough!  My mama didn’t play!!

I made a conscious decision when my daughter was a baby that I would minor on the outside and major on the inside, meaning that I wouldn’t focus on her looks…I figured the world would tell her how cute she was in due time.  Instead, I would focus on the real her.  Her spirit, who she really was.  She had to learn to love herself first, to be content with who she was and how God made her.  During one of our recent walks, I spent a great deal of time telling her the amazing young woman I saw her becoming.  I praised her by telling her how kind and generous she was, how thoughtful and encouraging she was, how trustworthy and genuine she was; how creative and talented she was.  I tell you, I thought she would float away by the time I finished encouraging her.  Her head was held high and she was so gonna keep up with me in order to hear every word.

I’m determined to build her up from the inside to the outer…to love herself well enough to eventually like herself… and everything about her..the right and wrong about her; everything in and out her!

“What matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition.  Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.” 1Peter 3:3-4 The Message Bible

Discipline…to spank or not to spank! That is the question.

Recently I noticed a trending article on a newsfeed about that touchy subject (taboo for some)…spanking.  I took a quick, and I mean really quick, glance at it and read that spanking a child can lead to mental illness (wait, was that for the spanker or the spankee)…I suspect I should have opened up the article and read it in its entirety.  Discipline, as I refer to it, was and remains the most challenging part of parenting and it’s the most necessary, I believe.  I’ve often remarked that parenting didn’t happen to me, I happened to it, meaning stages didn’t creep up on me.  I anticipated “those years” and read up and prayed about my response and the answer for our family was discipline.

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15 (AMP)

The thought of disciplining my son, the one I had prayed for and believed for for so many years seemed absolutely foreign and unimaginable to me.  This sweet, adorable, high spirited, miracle child was what I called “busy” because I refused to label him “bad” or any other name he was called by my well meaning, but brutally honest friends.  By the time he was around 13 months old, I sensed the inevitable coming on.  God bless the angel who approached me at the check out line in the grocery store who had been witnessing my busy son being busy 🙂 and gently placed her hand on my tired shoulder and said, “He’s all boy, mom. Hang in there.”  What a cold glass of water that was for me.  I wanted to cry, then I wanted to go home with her (without my kids) and then I wanted to cry for feeling that way.  Instead, I simply exhaled.

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family notoriety said that by the time a child is 15 months old, their misbehavior can be regarded as willful disobedience since by then they are well aware of their actions and that disciplining can and should begin at that age.  Yes!!!  He said it and I believed it and began counting down the days until I could brandish “Rod” as we called him.  Back then it was “the spoon” and the sound of the spoon drawer being opened would send my son running for the hills.

As time went on, adding to our family a second child, my now 21 month old was “on fire” with busyness.  I had been “disciplining” him now for a few months, but I noticed with increasing frustration that the only one changing was me.  I was feeling irritated, then angry, then guilty, then sad with the whole parenting a toddler thing.  The turning point for me came at 3 a.m. one morning when I was awakened (after having just wrestled with my colicky infant) to find my son in the kitchen rearranging the fridge in order to find a juice box.  The memory of this still pains me but what a lesson it taught me.  As I walked into the kitchen all wide eyed and crazy he looked up and said “I’m thirsty.”  I spanked him.  I wasn’t training him!!!  I was frustrated, tired and he was going to pay for waking me up.  We both went back to bed crying that night.  I’m still hurt by the memory of it all.

The following morning I prepared his breakfast and as I placed it before him, I reached for his hands so that we could pray and he actually flinched.  Oh how that hurt me.  I was stunned and saddened that my son feared me.  Oh God, how can I get him to respect and honor me and not be scared of me?  Later that day, I went before the Lord with that question and He ministered to me.  He showed me first of all that each of my children was different and that one rule or way for both would not work; that I would have to be led by His Spirit with respect to how and when I should discipline the children. He showed me to never discipline when I was angry or frustrated.  Never use my hands to discipline (hands are for praying, praising, healing, loving). He showed me that in those times when I must discipline my son, that I must at some point explain why he was being disciplined and explain to him that I love him too much not to discipline him.  He showed me that spanking was not changing my son’s behavior.  It was changing our relationship, though.  He instructed me to find out what my son’s “currency” was and use that as a form of discipline and that I should reserve “Rod” for those non-negotiables….willful disobedience, disrespecting authority, lying, stealing.

When my son woke up from his nap, I took him in my arms and apologized for “hitting” him.  I told him that I was tired, sleepy and wrong and that I’d never do that again.  I did explain that certain behaviors would not be tolerated and that it was my responsibility as his parent to discipline him.  He probably didn’t understand everything I said, but he sure understood I meant business when I determined that videos were his currency.  I would hold them hostage, shelving them high enough so that he couldn’t reach them but close enough for him to see them.  Did Rod get put to sleep.  No chance.  Rod made many an appearance.

When Josh was around four, he and I witnessed a child having a full blown tantrum at Target.  This kid was swinging, screaming and carrying on in the candy aisle.  My instinct was to hustle my kid out of that line of fire, but instead we lingered as he watched and I “shopped.”  As it turned out, we were parked next to this family and as I was backing out of my space and Josh was looking out the window at them he said “That mommy must hate her child.”  I asked him why he would say that and his response was “She doesn’t discipline him.”   Those were his exact words…I promise!

My daughter had one tantrum, remarkably at Target.  She wanted to snack on some fishies I hadn’t paid for yet.  I explained that we pay first and then partake.  Oh, she just laid down in the center aisle and I did what any respectable mom would do.  I stepped right over her and left her there howling (I stayed close but she couldn’t see me:)  She promptly got up and scurried after me….and she didn’t get her fishies (even after we paid for them).  (Hold your tomatoes!!:)  Consequences…she learned about them quickly.

Years later, I paid it forward, becoming an angel to that woman whose child was having an F.I.T. at F.A.O. Schwartz before God and man.  She did the whole “going limp” deal and even dad couldn’t scoop her up.  He gave up and went down the escalator, leaving mom to deal with the situation.  This kid was screeching, mom was horrified and the crowd was gathering.  I felt so bad for mom.  I had to help, but what if she told me to back off?  I took a chance and crossed my fingers hoping that my advice wouldn’t blow up in my face…hey, it had worked for me!!  I approached her slowly and told her to step over her out of control daughter and leave…I would stay behind with her.  This woman was willing to trust a stranger, or perhaps she was just wanting to get out of dodge and she took my advice.  Sure enough her screaming meemie promptly picked her little self up and went charging after her mom…screaming of course.  I received a rousing applause from all of the satisfied customers and my ears were ringing for quite a while thereafter.

If I had to give advice about disciplining I’d say to choose your battles wisely and when you do, you better not lose!!  It takes discipline to effectively discipline your children.  I’ve been firm and consistent through the years and have found that the more consistent I was the less and less discipline was required.  We do a lot of talking and shelving around here and things appear to be pretty peaceful.  My kids are now 13 and 12 and I see no signs of mental illness…in any of us! hehehe

P.S. Happy Fourth of July!!!  Sure hope this blog does not create any fireworks!! 🙂

“He who spares his rod (of discipline) hates his son, but he who loves him diligently disciplines and punishes him early.” Proverbs 13:24 (AMP)

“Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not (indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and) set yourself to his ruin.” Proverbs 19:18 (AMP) 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

“Withhold not discipline from the child, for if you strike and punish him with the rod, he will not die.” Proverbs 23:13 

“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left undisciplined brings his mother to shame.
  Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:15 &17 (AMP)

“Children, obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you.  Honor your father and mother.  This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.  And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.  And now a word to you parents.  Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful.  Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves, with suggestions and Godly advice.” Ephesians 6:1-4 (TLB)

Speak Up…I wish they would!!!

Yesterday in the news we saw a 68 year old bus monitor being bullied by a group of 13 olds.  It absolutely pained me to hear the verbal assault and watch as she turned her face away, wiped her tears and even tried to cover her mid section with her purse.  I was appalled that these kids obviously thought it was okay to verbally abuse anyone, much less an adult, much less this woman who quite obviously could have been their grandmother; it sickened me that they could care less about her feelings, even getting up close to menace her.  Most of all it irritated me and then saddened me that not one person on that bus spoke up on her behalf.  Made me say to myself as I watched it…I wish they would…

I wish they would treat me that way and try to get away with it!

I wish they would have treated anyone around me that way and tried to get away with it!

I WISH THEY WOULD try that mess on one of my kids and try to get away with it!

You know this deal got me to go down memory lane to two years ago when my son passed on winter camp after being so excited about going.  When I pressed him about it, he said he didn’t want “Clyde” (not his real name) to ruin his time.  My son had joined the list of Clyde’s targets and this bit of information was not news to me.  It was too late for my son to go on the trip; however, I did reach out to one of his teachers who acknowledged that Clyde was a problem; he had no idea my son was being provoked; was sorry my son was not going on the trip; and he would talk to Clyde.  Never heard back on the issue although my bully antenna were up.  Clyde issues kept coming up and I had my eye on my son and he appeared unaffected.  You know the tough part is that my son is as strong as an ox and I do believe if pressed, he could have put a hurting on Clyde, but I’ve never been one to encourage my son to settle his grievances with his fists.  Instead, I have told him not to allow anyone to disrespect him by laying hands on him.  So far, so good!!  Anyway, this past year, I received a text from my daughter saying that Clyde had thrown a basketball at my son (excuse me, it was a pass….a hard pass) and my son was doubled over holding his hand.  Uh, I saw red and then envisioned another trip to the emergency room (my son had broken the thumb on that hand the year before).  As I was reading the text I was putting my shoes on and  grabbing my car keys.  My very in-tune-to-me husband, held me back saying he wanted to join me. Oh, how he knows that mama bear in me!!

I arrived at the playground and stepped out of the car and stood close to the fence “watching the kids practice.”  Right!!!   I was really watching only one kid, and it wasn’t mine.  As soon as I had Clyde’s attention I leaned in and quietly but firmly reintroduced myself (it wasn’t my first talk with him) and told him in my Clint Eastwood “go ahead make my day” voice, that if he singled out my kid one more time, I was comin’ hard to deal with the situation.  That’s all I said and as he looked into my eyes, as his lip quivered, I realized that dear Clyde had heard me loud and clear.  Funny how I met Clyde’s mom a few weeks later and she was the nicest woman.  We talked about our husbands, our churches, what we do for family time, etc.  After a nice chat we even exchanged phone numbers and I had to wonder how in the world such a nice family could breed a bully.  I thought they came from troubled homes. Hmm…

I said earlier I was saddened that no one had spoken up on behalf of the bus monitor.  I suspect folks would be embarrassed to speak up, huh? Perhaps one would feel intimidated to confront a bully for fear of reprisal, or maybe we’re unphased by ugly; maybe we don’t think one voice can make a difference, right?   Umm…Not me!  You know I have a story right? 🙂  And so I found myself at Toys R Us around Christmastime during the lunch hour thinking I’d beat the crowd only to find myself in a long line behind a super impatient, very vocal woman.  The kid at the register was having a difficult time on his first day at work and this woman was absolutely going off on him and looking around for some support.  I had to say something when I saw this boy’s hands shaking.  “Me:  You know that’s someone’s child, right?”  She looked at me and explained (in a not so nice way) that she was in a rush and he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  I “encouraged” her to settle down so that he would settle down.   She snatched the gift card out of his hand and grabbed her purchases and went to customer service.  The young man, all red faced, quietly said “thank you, ma’am” to me, rang me up and I proceeded over to customer service to check in with the young man’s supervisor.  I wanted to speak up for that young man. His supervisor was appreciative.  I spoke up…twice!

How about the time the cashier at Sears tossed my mom’s change at her not realizing that I was with her and I spoke up!!  🙂

We need to teach our kids to speak up for those who are being abused.  We need to speak up so that those abusers will know they are being watched and not tolerated!

Here’s a promise from me…if you or your child or loved one ever finds themselves at the receiving end of an abuser in my presence, I will speak up.  Please do the same for me…I wish you would!!!

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