Parenting Well With No Blueprint

Are you a mom whose childhood is filled with heartache and disappointment due to your parents’ choices? Maybe your childhood was plagued with abuse, neglect, legalism, divorce, abandonment, a dysfunctional home or anger etc. Do you desire a different family environment for your own children than the one you grew up in? Is there a deep longing in your heart to break the generational sins and strongholds of your family?

I know all too well that coming from a background immersed in pain and brokenness can leave you feeling less than qualified to be able to parent your children well. How are you supposed to know how to be a good mom and point your children to Christ when it was never modeled to you? Hear me when I say this–your parents’ mistakes, bad choices, lack of love–their story does not have to be yours. Let Him redeem your story. Let Him use you to break the cycle.

If you want real change in your home and in your families the change needs to start with you.

Parent Well With No Model

photo credit

Does God reign in your heart? You cannot make these changes on your own strength and wisdom. You must be a follower of Jesus Christ. You must be a woman who studies his word, who communes with Him through prayer, and who seeks His kingdom first.

Seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33)

If you are a follower of Christ as I stated above your parents’ mistakes, your pain filled childhood and even your own mistakes do not define you. You are new creation in Christ. Since you are a new creation press forward and don’t dwell on the past.

                  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

It’s so easy to tether ourselves to past hurts and pain. It’s easy to drop anchor there and harbor grudges and resentment. Some of us may feel if we forgive, the pain is somehow no longer real or maybe we feel that by not forgiving we are punishing those that hurt us. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. The enemy doesn’t want you to forgive, but God tells us to forgive as Christ forgave you. Refusing to offer forgiveness is destructive and can cause bitterness. Bitterness in your heart then spills over into your parenting.

Christ is your model

When you have only seen something done one way it is hard to imagine it being done a different way. Although you may not have had an earthly parent that modeled God’s design for families, God himself modeled it to you. This is why it is so important that you have a viable prayer life and that you draw from the living well of His word. You can’t read His word and not be changed. It breathes life to the soul and softens the hardest of hearts. Press into the one who can give peace and teach you how to love. He demonstrates love, patience, self-control, grace, compassion, discipline and is slow to anger with all of His children.

Parenting choices need to be rooted in Godly wisdom, not fear

Those of us who have this type of past, who so desperately desire to parent differently can have a bent towards making choices for our family that are rooted in fear or even legalism. The moment you begin make parenting choices rooted in fear is the moment you say you trust yourself more than you trust the Lord. You are saying He is not enough. But God says He will give us wisdom if we only ask. (James 1:5)

Heart to heart

There is not enough allotted space to be able to write everything I want to write. If you are a woman whose heart is still tender from the pain you experienced growing up. I wish I could say this to you while looking you in the eyes. Sister, I’ve been there. I know the longing of wanting to hear your parent say “I love you” only to be met with silence. I grew up with abuse, lack of love, a home filled with anger, divorce, and watched one of my parents abandon our family for their own selfish venture.

Our parents are sinners. Forgive them anyways.  Our parents are also not our savior, nor can our joy be rooted in their choices and love. Plant your feet on firm foundation, which can only be found in your Savior, the one who is a father to the fatherless. He loves you with an unconditional love that we cannot possibly comprehend.

Prayer

Father,

Give us the wisdom to parent our children well. Break the cycles of generational sins and strongholds. Give us patience. Fill our homes with peace. Let love be overflowing in our homes. Lord reign in our hearts. Thank you for the love you demonstrate to us. Amen

Resources

Parenting resource- Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick

How to study the bible – Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

 

The Only Real Requirement

Is it just me, or do you think we women have a tendency to complicate things?

Love God Love Others M. Swanson

photo credit

God’s Word is rich and full and it speaks to so many things,but really our calling, His “greatest commandment” is quite simple:

We are to love God with all of our hearts and with all of our souls, and with all of our minds

AND

we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39)

I have a tendency to complicate many things, including my spiritual calling. I put burdens on myself that become more of a curse than a blessing. If I am not careful, I can become a modern day pharisee, doing, and working, and following my own made-up rules while forgetting the only real requirement of LOVING GOD, and LOVING OTHERS.

Maybe it’s easier to “do devotions” and then scratch that off my list, than it is to patiently love my family…
ALL. DAY. LONG.

Maybe it’s more satisfying to show up for Bible study than it is to sit quietly in my prayer closet, listening for God’s voice.

Maybe it is more convenient to allot a set time, or place, to my “religious” activity than it is to be completely available to whatever God calls me to.

When I consider the life of Jesus, I see how He walked through His days always abiding in His Father. As far as I can tell He didn’t have a huge agenda, or a very booked calendar. He was free.

There is such a freedom in a life fully surrendered to the the Lord through the Holy Spirit. At first thought, the idea of this can bring on some anxiety in me.  What if surrendering to God’s plan means I won’t get my stuff done? What if it takes time from my family, or my chores, or my workout? What if I He asks me to do something that is uncomfortable?

But in response to those questions, I simply must ask–has the Lord ever called me to something that does not end up being a blessing to me? Have I ever regretted saying “yes” to something He has called me to?

Being fully available to Him will never ever let us down.

QUESTIONS to ask ourselves:
Am I too busy “doing” to hear God if He asks me to be available?
Can I take one step closer to surrendering the details of my day to the Lord to be used however He wants to use me?
What is my biggest fear when I consider letting go of my agenda and instead following God moment by moment?

ACTIONS
Start our day with our Bible, and a journal, and even our calendar–in front of us.
Read the Bible, pray, and then lay our calendar out before the Lord in a physical act of surrender to the Lord. Invite Him to lead us throughout our day, and trust Him with it. As we face the things that come up throughout the day, we can get in the habit of turning to the Lord and asking Him how He wants to use us, or what He is trying to teach us through each situation. Begin to see “inconveniences” or surprises as opportunities to see God’s hand at work!

PRAYERS
Thank you Lord for today! Please forgive me for complicating things so much! Thank you for my simple calling to Love you, and to Love others. Help me to show my love for you by being fully surrendered to you, and available to be used however you choose to use me. I commit my day and my life to you anew!

With Aloha,
Monica

Monica and her husband Dave are raising four boys on the North Shore of Oahu. They raise tropical fruits, homeschool, and surf their days away. Monica blogs about all of this and more at her blog, thegrommom.com.

Titus Two Saturday! (My Six Year Old Has Discovered Porn!)

Welcome to Titus Two Saturdays (TTS) at the MOB Society!

Titus-2-Refreshment-for-Real-Moms-600.jpg-1-1

We know so many of you are desperately in need of an older mama to come alongside you and help you figure out how to love your husband well, serve your children, and take care of the responsibilities that come along with being a woman. Doesn’t there seem to be a shortage of godly women stepping up to this role?  Well, we have brought  together a team of amazing women willing to share their lives with those of us in the throes of young motherhood.

This weeks Question: “I’m a mom of 2 boys, 4 & 6. Yesterday my heart was heavy as I found my 6 year old did a search on his iPad of “naked girls”. It was a realization that he is no longer my little guy, but a boy growing up in a world where temptation is everywhere. We had a good discussion  about why he did it & I tried to find out what he was wanting to know. I have put into place more strict regulations on the iPad, but more importantly I realized I need to prepare myself for these questions and situations. I am looking for advice on how to talk to him about “life” in a way that is age appropriate. I would appreciate any books or resources for parenting boys addressing these things as well as books for kids about bodies/sex/life.”

Julie Sanders:
It’s never been so easy for our boys to follow curiosity to temptation.  The age of exposure to pornography has dropped as fast as access to technology has risen. Parents can no longer afford to give kids privileges on technology, unless we are prepared to inform ourselves, shepherd our children, and monitor use. Technology without engaged parenting is a gateway to temptation.

You already practice some really healthy habits other moms can learn from:

  • You practice open communication.  You will reap the benefits of this!
  • You ask questions to understand how he thinks.  This nurtures his openness.
  • You engage with the technology you own.  You are more likely to be aware.
  • You think about having age appropriate conversations. He will learn valuable lessons.

It’s tempting to freak out when our boys express interest in sexuality, especially before we expect it. I haven’t always had victory over this, and I see damage from when I didn’t let the Lord control my emotions. To avoid communicating that interest in male/female physical differences is weird, unnatural, or bad, focus on what God’s word says about our sexual nature.

  • God made boys and girls differently and called it good.
  • God designed us to fit together and that’s good too.
  • God’s design is creative and awesome and His plan results in children
  • God is happy for a man and woman to enjoy each other and be close when they are married.

It is a privilege to have conversations about sexuality with our boys. We have the opportunity to shape their perspectives on intimacy, trust, and faithfulness. Should he marry one day, your son’s wife will thank you for planting a healthy understanding of physical affection in the heart and mind of your boy.

My favorite resource to help you as you have these conversations (That is plural on purpose, because talks will continue to unfold as your boy grows.) is Vicki Courtney’s 5 Conversations to Have with Your Son. It’s the perfect time for you to read this guide, and you will be so helped and encouraged by what Vicki shares.  I also recommend Plugged-In Parenting by Bob Waliszewski.

Finally, instead of grieving this early encounter with “naked girls” and the unexpected interest, I want to encourage you to be grateful. Give thanks that you found out now and that God prompted you to ask questions and listen. Give thanks there are technical safeguards to help us manage the devices in our lives. Give thanks that when you are not with your boy, because you can’t be every moment and every place, God is there. Ask God to make you aware of any interaction with other children or adults that may be a cause or a result of the early exposure to pornographic images. Ask Him to expose any future sin your boy may act on, as a result of seed thoughts in his mind. God will be watching and moving in your boy’s heart and mind, working for his good in a world that promises to satisfy his curiosity, but only gives emptiness where he should be full.

I’m giving thanks with you that while your boy is still young, you are making the decision to be a warrior mom for the mind and heart of your son.

Laura Lee Groves:
Mom, realize first that you are not alone. Jen Ferguson, the author of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography, told me that statistics show that by the time a boy is 18 years old, he has only a 3% chance of not seeing pornography.

 That fact alone should be enough to make ALL moms sit up and listen. Jen had some valuable insights that all of us could benefit from.

  1.  There is a good news side to this: You’ve opened a dialogue with your son about something that many parents never choose to address. You have an opportunity to show him that talking to you about these things is a safe, good thing to do. He has learned that the Internet is not a safe place—the first step to learning discernment.
  2. Pray. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” God has given us incredible tools to protect ourselves from evil, and we must learn to use them effectively. Not only do we need to be praying for protection for our children, but we need to teach them how to pray for themselves, even when they are 6 years old. And when a question comes up we don’t feel prepared to answer, we can pray and the Holy Spirit will give us the words our children need to hear.
  3. Create a shame-free zone. Accusations like “I can’t believe you did this!” or “Why would you ever think this was a good idea?” shut our kids down (just like they shut us down) and make them want to hide future mistakes. It is in the darkness that pornography takes root and desires for unhealthy sexual outlets fester. We want our kids to know their curiosity isn’t bad — God made us this way!  We can tell them, though, that there are people who want to give us answers to our questions that aren’t true or helpful, and those answers don’t satisfy for the long run. But God can help us find answers, and He has placed parents in authority to help kids. Our sons can see that, in Genesis 3, when Eve ate the apple, she wasn’t satisfied in the way she thought she would be. Instead, her heart and mind were filled with more than she could handle, which is why God had given her instructions not to eat from that tree. Eve was curious, but instead of taking her curiosity to God, she chose to strike out on her own, which had major consequences. When we seek answers from the wrong places, we experience negative consequences, too. Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed, God still talked with them, forgave them, and blessed them. We can always ask forgiveness and receive God’s grace. Our children need to be able to expect that same level of grace and forgiveness from us, too.
  4.  Gather resources. Spend some time learning about sex and marriage from a biblical point of view. The Fergusons’ book has a chapter that discusses why God gave us sex and why He designed it to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage. This can help you personally and it will also prepare you for questions your child will have, providing a firm foundation for discussing things like modesty, lust, the purpose of sex, and how to deal with temptations. A child-friendly discussion of this can be found in God’s Design for Sex, a 4 book series, each targeted for a different age range.
  5. Focus on Jesus. The best defense is a great offense. Helping your child grow in his relationship with Jesus will produce great fruit. Use everyday opportunities to point out how you see God working. Share your own stories of overcoming or succumbing to different types of temptations. Express often how much God loves us and how much He desires to speak to us and hear our voices.

 Jen Ferguson has daughters, but her wisdom in this area is so helpful for boy moms. As moms, we deal with all kinds of disobedience. It’s so important to remember this:  Even though Adam and Eve disobeyed, God still talked with them, forgave them, and blessed them. We can always ask forgiveness and receive God’s grace. Our children need to be able to expect that same level of grace and forgiveness from us, too.” Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography by Jen and Craig Ferguson (Discovery House Publishers) is available for pre-order on Amazon. You can connect with Jen on her blog, Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.

When We Lift Our Hands and Accept His Grace

My memories of high school are a mix of the horrible, the not-as-horrible, and unwanted realizations.  The day I got accepted into the student government and elected in charge of the homecoming parade was the day I thought “I’ve made it. I’m finally part of the it crowd.

Alaina Frederick Lift Hands Accept Grace

photo credit

Not so much.

Fears of still not being accepted by everyone – the punks, the skaters, the hippies, the cheerleaders, the debate team, the bug nerds – I wanted to belong so badly I tried to fit myself into every group. To this day I don’t think anyone from my high school knows the real me and I, myself am still discovering her.

There was a girl in my high school that had a grace unlike anyone I knew. She was soft-spoken, a unique soul and well liked. She carried her Bible with her to every class, reading it anytime we had to sit and wait for a teacher to arrive. I still think about how amazing it must have been to be so free and possess a faith so convicting as to carry a Bible in a public school. This was back in the late 90′s. Kids today have it even harder, yet some still find a way to inspire.

At our little church there is a teenager that Sunday after Sunday brings me to tears. When the music plays and the worship begins she is there whole heartedly. She isn’t off thinking about boys, quietly playing on her cell phone, or even yawning. Not even close! She stands there swaying her body to the music, lifting her hands high to heaven and last Sunday, was even down on her knees with her head bowed and hands raised high. I’ve shared with her before how her openness is a true blessing.

As a mother I’m always worried about the four boys, laundry, homework, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, sunscreen, bundling up, bullies, and the list goes on and on. Often I completely neglect to eat or find I’m doing the potty dance because I have been so busy I haven’t even used the little girls room all day. I know you’ve been there too! Stomach growling you retreat to the bathroom for a moment of quiet and it doesn’t come because someone has followed you to tell you about who hit whom or to ask about the next meal of the day even though they just got done eating thirty seconds prior.

A few weeks ago I focused on those raised hands of inspiration. I closed my eyes as we sang song after beautiful song. Then it happened. I felt my arm being pulled upward. Palms outstretched, my hand was now raised to heaven. In that moment it was about two people – myself and my Heavenly Father. There were no endless piles of laundry. The thoughts on what should I make for lunch were gone. Even the fidgets of the boys were stilled in the moment. Unmistakable amazing grace bathed me completely from the inside out.

In the car on the way home the boys asked why I raised my hand during church. It was a great opportunity to share with them how people worship differently and how I was allowing God to take all of my worries and scared feelings away and give me only happy thoughts. It was more then a raised hand. It was an opening to my boys hearts.

It was that evening as I was sitting and thinking about all that I place before what we are called to do that it hit me. How can I be a witness to my boys when I don’t even make time to allow God in? How can I teach the boys to allow God to guide their lives when I sit here worried and fretting over so many mundane things?

God has called us to do two things in life 1) to know Him 2) to tell others about Him.

How can I do the second when I haven’t even fully grasped the first? It’s like putting laundry away and skipping the washing machine. I’m dirty and broken and I need to know Him before I can let others know Him, as they’ll know Him through me. The words from my tongue, my reactions and even the little praises like a raised hand–those are what will truly allow others to see Him.

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” John 5:44 ESV

Mom, I hear you.

I am walking with you and I feel the heavy weight upon your shoulders. The day slips by and suddenly night has fallen and our eyes burn with exhaustion. We need our Lord and Savior. We need to prepare ourselves with His Word and Truth. We need to commit His Word to memory and call upon it in times of desperation. There is no greater need than this. His Word is our oxygen – without which we cannot live. Just like on the airplane where you are directed to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others – we need His Word. It’s when we make it a want that amazing things begin to happen.

“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.” Psalm 119: 9-16 The Message

My challenge to you – and myself – is to want to fill your heart and soul with His Word and amazing Truth. To want Him just like a need – stronger than the need for oxygen; to be free and raise your hand to heaven and allow Him to cover you with His everlasting love. For when we do this we are ready to share God’s love with our children. We are ready to meet their spiritual needs just as we tend to their physical ones.

Alaina-FrederickAlaina Frederick is a mother of four boys. She is a woman on a journey to be fully consumed by God. Afflicted with an illness called Trichotillomania, Alaina is learning the true beauty of what God can do with the ashes of life. Alaina’s ministry, Amazingly Broken, creates a safe place where the broken and scarred can join together in their grief, and rejoice in the wholeness that only God provides.

What is an Extraordinary Life? #BitsOfBrooke

(My #BitsOfBrooke post is a tad longer today, because…well…it’s important, and I wanted to make the whole point. Stick with me? I think you’ll be glad you did!)

*******

What does it take to go from ordinary to extraordinary? How does a life go from boring to beautiful? What does it require to live a life in passionate pursuit of God, His plan, His purpose?

I’ve been pondering these questions for quite some time now, and I think the answers might surprise you.

When did we start believing that there had to be something more, something bigger, something more important to qualify us for the extraordinary?  Motherhood IS extraordinary…

There seems to be a push among Christians to “do something big” for the Kingdom of God. Rightfully so—with children starving, women being raped, babies being forcefully aborted, and families drinking sludge instead of clean water.

Clearly, there is much work—good work—to be done, and I’m not against any of it. My family is passionate about supporting our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, the MOB Society is gearing up to support a missionary through Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I give my time and words as often as I can to those without the Bible in their own heart language as a support to the Seed Company. I love the work of Freeset Global, and I kind of help run this group for mothers of boys (wink).

All of these are good, necessary, worthwhile things.

They’re real. The people they serve are real. The needs are real. Some of the situations are desperate—life and death—and require deep personal sacrifice to make even the smallest of changes.

I admit, as I’ve read the stories of the people whose very lives are changed through these ministries—some coming to know Christ for the first time—I’ve been moved to action. I’ve watched as women I admire travel abroad, bringing attention to those who need our care and love and money so very much, and thought, “that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!” Traveling, seeing, spreading the word so that others can get involved.

I’ve listened as Christian writers and speakers passionately share the Word of God in front of thousands, changing the lives of countless people for the better, and thought, “that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!” Studying, training, offering pure hearts so that others can know the truth.

I’ve watched from afar as millions of women gathered together because “what if?” What if they could change the world and make all those bad things go away in Jesus’ Name? And I’ve thought to myself, “that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!” Thinking, brainstorming, creating ways to help others get involved and think outside of the boxes of our individual expressions of faith.

I’ve read stories about women whose words light up the screen with passion for freeing women to serve in the church, lead, grow, and be everything Jesus died for them to be and thought, “that must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life!” 

A life that really matters. A life that’s truly beautiful. A life spent for God’s glory. Those things…they must be what it looks like to live an extraordinary life.

And yet…

And yet as a mom—just a simple, stay-at-home mama—who works from her office that doubles as a homeschool room, and who has to move that plastic globe (the one she uses most weeks to teach her boys that the world is much bigger than what they can see) hanging from the window out of the way so you can’t see it on a home grown video—I sometimes look at these world changers and am tempted to think my own efforts fall sadly short of the extraordinary.

I'm reclaiming the word "extraordinary" for simple, every day, run of the mill motherhood. You with me?

The mom who says, “love others more than you love yourself” for the 100th time in one day…

Who does the dishwasher for the second time in 24 hours…

Who struggles just to find a second to wash her hair…

Who puts the work that means the world to her on hold because that little one needs to hear he’s loved one more time…

Who prays and prays and begs God to move in something so very small, and notices He seems to be interested in bigger things…

Who asks God daily to give her joy in the mundane, to keep her from losing her mind as siblings fight over nothing AGAIN…

Her life can feel a little like that plastic globe hanging from the window—with a glimpse of the most extraordinary things so far away—the things yet to be seen, yet to be fixed—and the ordinary staring her in the face, leaving her feeling like her contribution to the world isn’t all that important.

And I wonder when motherhood lost its extraordinary.

Not that the people in foreign lands, or even right down the street, don’t need someone to come to them in Jesus’ Name, but that the people right under our noses, and all the sacrifice required to love them well, need us just as much.

When did encouraging women to “love their husbands and children, be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands…” become passe’? When did we stop believing that a call to motherhood, loving one man, service in our homes, and sacrifice for the sake of raising godly children was truly extraordinary? When did we start believing that there had to be something more, something bigger, something more important to qualify us for the extraordinary?

Motherhood IS extraordinary…

But it’s often unseen. Unnoticed. And the change it evokes in the lives of generations upon generations—while having the potential to impact the Kingdom in untold deep and profound ways—is slow, tedious, and requires diligence and patience and sacrifice…day, after day, after day.

There aren’t blog posts written about the reality of life in the motherhood intended to raise money for those feeling helpless in its trenches. And there’s no glory in the calling to bring forth life until that child rises up and calls us blessed…IF that child rises up and calls us blessed.

But I say it requires an even greater degree of faith to stare down deep into the eyes of the ordinary and call it extraordinary. 

I'm reclaiming the word "extraordinary" for simple, every day, run of the mill motherhood. You with me?

Not that our command to “go therefore, and preach the Gospel to all nations” shouldn’t cause some of us to physically go. It should, and it will, and there will be big sacrifices required of some to obey the call. Not that we shouldn’t go if we get the call, just that those of us not called to go there should be deemed extraordinary here, and that going to the nations should include the little heathens at home.

I'm reclaiming the word "extraordinary" for simple, every day, run of the mill motherhood. You with me?

Here, in the throes of dirty diapers, runny noses, selfish hearts, bratty brothers, and sinful, slothful, needy, sometimes unloving children. Here, in the throes of sometimes thankless marriages. Here, in the throes of important callings that play second fiddle to that which is even more important—loving our families well. Extraordinary here, regardless of what’s happening there.

Mama, your life—with all it’s ups and downs, starts and stops, victories and defeats, praises and heartbreaks—is extraordinary. You don’t need to add anything else to your to-do list to be beautiful. You can passionately pursue God, His plan, and His purpose right where you are with the people group who need to hear the Gospel from you most.

All the little ways you serve, sacrifice, believe, pray, share, and love…all added up together make you extraordinary. You are nothing short of extraordinary, and God says that’s enough.

I’m reclaiming the word “extraordinary” for simple, every day, run of the mill motherhood. You with me? (<—Tweet that!).

*Note: Please don’t think this blog post is intended to make fun of or downplay foreign missions, or the important work of ministries seeking to help those in great need. It’s not. It’s simply meant to remind moms that their work is just as important, albeit overlooked—and that most of the time, loving their families well is the biggest thing of all.