How to Trust God in the Hard Times #BitsOfBrooke

The world feels like it’s crashing in all around me. My oldest son has turned away from the Lord and is living a life we never dreamed possible for him. My husband and I are distant from each other, and I’m struggling to keep it together at work. I can’t lose my job or we’ll go under. The bills just keep adding up, and the house is a wreck all the time. I can’t even think in there, much less pray. What in the world am I supposed to do?

Over the last few days, I’ve gotten emails from a lot of boy moms that when put all together, sound something like the paragraph above. They’re hard to read. They make me cry and cause me to get down on my knees and beg the Lord to move for you, for me, and for every mom in the world who is struggling to understand a life that hasn’t turned out the way she thought it would.

Life has a way of doing that…of making us see our future through rose colored glasses, and then turning gray once we get there.

I’m dealing with something in my own life right now that isn’t going the way I hoped it would, and God is using it to teach me more about who He is and how I can trust Him in the hard times. Maybe it will help you, too?

When I know down deep in my knower that God is always going to act in His own best interest, I can trust that it will be in my best interest, too

Lessons From the Hard Times

1. God isn’t really that interested in our happiness

Now according to Victoria O’Steen, His ultimate goal is for you to be happy and serve yourself. But obviously—at least to anyone who reads the Bible—this isn’t true. I’m not saying God isn’t happy when we’re happy. I think it brings Him joy to see His creation at peace, laughing, loving well, and living life to the fullest. We reflect Him when we’re enjoying Him…I just don’t think happiness is His highest goal for our lives.

Sometimes (let’s just be honest now), that feels cruel. Why would God create the world and then not want to do everything in His power to make the people in it happy? That’s how I would do it if I were God…You too, right?

Know why we would arrange things that way? Because we’re selfish human beings, who at the deepest levels of the heart really just want what’s best for ourselves. It takes some serious effort for most of us to find the place where we want what God wants more than we want what we want. And the reason for this is because we can’t see the bigger picture.

2. It’s hard for us to let go of the way we think things should be and embrace the way God thinks things should be.

We can’t see everything He can see, and we don’t know the end of our own personal stories. And that means, if we truly love God and want to serve Him well with our lives, we have to just trust.

That’s the hardest thing, you know, just trusting. It is for me, anyway. I’m much more comfortable when I feel in control, know what to expect, and see things turn out like I thought they should. Unfortunately for me, God is the only one who has the right to play that all-mighty, all-knowing, all-powerful role with His creation, so I’m left needing to submit my desires to Him over and over and over again (and all that could happen in just one day…).

3. God is most interested in making HIS name great.

It’s hard to understand, because God’s nature is so contrary to our own, but God does everything to bring glory to Himself. All of creation screams of His majesty, and the people that are part of that creation—their blessings, joys, heartaches, and disappointments—bring attention to Him. That’s why our response to the things of life—even and especially the surprises of life—are so important…they reflect Him, and tell others the story of God through our lives.

When I know that God is always going to act in His own best interest, I can trust that whatever He does will be in mine (<<<—-Tweet that!) That changes my entire perspective, and has the potential to change how I respond to the things that aren’t going the way I want them to.

God will make a way, because it’s His nature to bring glory to His name. My friend, He wants to work in whatever situation you’re in that looks bleak and gray and make it into something beautiful so that others will “sing for joy at the work of His hands” (Psalm 92:4). You and me? We’re the vehicle He’s chosen to display to the world how good He is, and His goodness to us has nothing to do with our circumstances. Our response to the circumstances of life, however, has the potential to whisper His greatness, or scream our ingratitude so all the world can see.

How to trust God through the hard times

Because God loves us, we can trust everything He does, everything He allows, and every prayer He doesn’t answer the way we thought He should have. Because we trust Him to make His own name great, we can trust Him to work in whatever situation we find ourselves because He wants to get the glory.

I know it’s a hard truth. But when life feels out of control, there has to be something we cling to…some truth that transcends how we feel or what we can see. This is it, and when we really get it, it changes everything.

Lord, please make a way for the precious mama reading this today. Would you come right now? Comfort her, strengthen her, and make her aware of your presence with her like never before? Help her to see that your heart for her is always good, because when you get the glory, she gets the best. In Jesus’ big, strong, mighty name, amen.

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Emotions Cover 300

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This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all.

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Eight Simple Things that Connect You With Your Teen Boy

I played the air guitar to an amazing 80’s song in the car last night.

My teen son, the middle one, sat in the seat next to me.  You would have thought I was Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande, the way he was looking at me, with eyes that smiled and said you’re awesome.

It is among my favorite things in life, when my teen boys look at me this way.

Eight Simple Things

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Of course, I’m not always the cool mom.  Sometimes they notice my meddling and breathe that heavy sigh and say an exasperated “Wow, thanks, mom,” when I tell them “No you can’t go to that movie with those teens whose parents I don’t know.”

But we are close.  Really close.  The kind of close that you hope and pray for, but aren’t sure sixteen and thirteen will allow and then are gloriously surprised when it does.

I’m grateful, every day, that among the millions of things I did wrong, the way I have purposed to stay connected to my boys has, indeed, worked.  Mostly, I’m convinced that God has just been gracious and made up for my lack.

And yes, I’ve read them the Bible at night.  And I pray over their bed.  And I’ve had long conversations with them (longer than they prefer, trust me) to speak destiny and love into their heart and all the other good stuff moms do that is important.  But you know what I’ve found?

It’s not that hard for teen boys to stay connected to their moms.  A lot of simple, everyday things help a lot, with that, too.

And so, if I may, my humble offering of the fun, crazy, hard and most rewarding things I have done and continue to do as my boys grow up.

Lisa Whittle Connecting with Son

~Let them be silly, sometimes.  Boys will eventually be men that have jobs and bills and families they are responsible for and lots of other heavy things on their backs.  For now, let them think standing in the snow in a bathing suit flexing for a picture is awesome and grossing you out by giving you sweaty hugs after ball practice is a-ok with you. (Protest, even, for a little extra dramatic measure, which they will love.) Let them get by with some boy bathroom humor that grosses you out. They are born with this innate male need to express, for whatever crazy reason.  It’s simple: just, for a few minutes in the car or wherever you are when it comes up, pretend to lose your hearing.

~Care about their interests, which means attentiveness not endurance.  Trust me, they can tell the difference.  When they tell you about how sick a pair of shoes is? Know that sick means amazing and nod your head in agreement.  They will love you for it.  When they have a ball game? Move heaven and earth to be there, even if you can’t stand baseball and don’t understand the sport.  Your job is to become an expert on your child and what they love, you love too, just because they do.

~Force them to take ridiculous selfies with you.  They will moan and complain, but they will secretly love you for wanting a picture with them.  Also? It will prepare them for all the selfies their girlfriend will make them do in the future. :)

~Let them have the last bite.  Like, that last bite of your favorite cheesecake in all the world–the one with the strawberry sauce dripping gloriously all over it.  The last taste of heaven before you start that diet.  Yep, that one.  They won’t forget that mom did that for them.  Their wife, should they have one in the future, will love them, but even she may not give them that last bite.

~Tuck them into bed at night, even when they are huge and tower over you.  They will act like it’s unnecessary at the time, but when they ask you unexpectedly if you are going to that one night you almost forget, you will know it’s more important to them than they think.

~Have special nicknames for them that are playful and silly.  Call them by those names like crazy when you are at home, but never say them in front of their friends.  This is the unspoken rule of boys and moms that, when respected, helps cute mommy nicknames live on forever.

~Remind them of moments of awesome they did when they were little.  Pull out a picture and tell them the coordinating story.  Boys are just miniature men that need to be complimented and appreciated in order to feel fulfilled.

~Let their dad be the hero.  Learn to love them in the background and seize moments but not need to be #1. Yes, even though you changed the diapers.  Even though you wash the smelly clothes and wipe more noses and give more kisses and run their cleats up to the ball field numerous times when they leave them.  Even though.  You will win when their dad is more important.

Staying connected to our boys is a sign we have endured the mommy challenge of being different in almost every way, but understanding of the great needs and loves of their young male heart.

What both of us want.

Lisa Whittle Head shot

 

 

These things Lisa Whittle loves most: her husband, her children (3, including 2 boys), her fluffy dog who sits faithfully under her desk while she writes, and her Jesus who has made her life well. She’s authored 3 books, including her latest, {w}hole, and will release her 4th in August 2014. You can find her at www.lisawhittle.com, where she blogs less than she should, but when she does, hopes to start honest conversation.

 

This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all.

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Locker Room Lessons: Teachable Moments from the World of Sports

Even as an upper elementary age girl, I was a fan of Sportscenter. Yep, I’m a girl who loves her Sportscenter. Whether it’s early morning or late night, I count on getting my sports news fix each day and Sportscenter is just the best place for that. Plus, they’re usually pretty funny.

Football is my favorite, but I’ve always been drawn to the world of sports in general. While most people are idolizing sports stars, I love the stories. I love the human interest. I love the lessons we can learn from the very public stage of college and professional sports.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that God put this love of sports in me and then gave me three boys. I know not all boys are interested in sports, but mine are, and we’ve had many great life and faith discussions that began with watching a football game or tennis match together.

And that’s led me to this. I haven’t written much here at The MOB Society because I wasn’t quite sure what to say, honestly. I’m still in the early years of raising boys – they are 8, 6, and 2 – and I don’t have a whole lot of wisdom to share at this point. The MOB Society is a place I come to learn and grown in my role as a boy mom.

He’s calling me now to share what’s on my heart – lessons on life and faith inspired by the world of sports. Locker Room Lessons.

LockerRoomLessons

Maybe your boy is crazy about sports and you are not. Maybe you both love sports but you’re not sure how to connect this love with God. I just know I love connecting sports and faith and I want to share those connections with you. It may seem trivial. I almost said to God, “Nobody will care about this.” But He reminded me of this verse…

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

Who am I to say that God can’t use sports to help us raise godly men? I’m learning that wild obedience is what God asks of me, and sometimes that means taking that spark He has put in you and letting it burn bright whether anybody else needs that fire or not.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be talking about God and life and sports right here in the Locker Room Lessons series. I’m praying it will be a connecting point for you and your son. And I’m praying He will draw you both closer to Him through it.

What sports does your son enjoy watching?

Erin-MohringErin finds joy in her life as a Jesus-follower, doctor’s wife, mama to three handsome guys, writer at Home with the Boys, and co-founder of The MOB Society. She has a passion for healthy living, fashion, and encouraging families to form strong bonds based on faith!

Have you seen our series this month?  It’s on building a relationship with your teen son.  If you liked this post, head on over here for more quality content.

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10 Things Your Teen Son Wants You to Know

We sit at lunch, just me and my teen son.  Right after we order I just say it, I ask him…

“Can I have your advice?”

“Sure,” he says, drowning his bread in the balsamic, and shoving the quarter-loaf in his mouth.

“If a mom wants to build a close relationship with her teen, what would you tell her to do?”

I sit and hope he doesn’t see how badly I want to know and the silence that follows almost smothers me. For a moment I wonder if I should have asked at all.

Ten Things Your Teen Son Wants You To Know

 

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He’s almost 17 and our relationship is strong–stronger than I ever expected it might be considering all we’ve been through.  I’m so thankful.

But having a teen son is particularly hard. Ten short years ago he was my little guy, lovingly gazing into my eyes and crawling up on my lap. I was the only woman he loved and the first one who held his heart, but it won’t be long before all that changes.

My heart simultaneously aches and bursts.  This stage is hard, even with a strong relationship, and I’m certainly open to tips to make it better.

And then, he answers. The words pour out like a river, like I’ve just breached a dam waiting to be opened. He has so much to say. And I am glad to listen and brainstorm so I can let you all in on what my teen told me.

10 things Your Teenager Wants You to Know

1. Be cool

Be laid back but engaged, classy but fashionable–stylish and aware of the latest trends. Be a hospitable host who welcomes his teen friends. And provide food, LOTS of food, whenever possible!

2. Let conversation happen naturally

As much as we long to know how our teen is doing, do not force conversation through repetitive interrogation. Allow conversation to happen spontaneously while engaged in an activity together–driving in the car, cooking dinner, or even shopping. It’s possible that the more time spent in each other’s space will foster more conversation.

3. Own your mistakes and refuse to be a hypocrite

If teens are blessed with any sixth sense, it’s their ability to detect hypocrisy. For that very reason, it’s so important for us to admit when we’re wrong and offer an apology with a humble heart. It’s also important to share our failures with our sons at appropriate moments–moments when it helps him with whatever he’s facing. If our teens see us as real people, they’re more likely to respect us and learn from us as well.

4. Refuse to micromanage

Even though this involves trust and letting go, it is so important that we give our teen sons incremental freedom and allow them to practice making decisions. Until their choices require a removal of that freedom, let’s refuse to micromanage the details of the things that are their responsibility. This will make them feel respected and convey your belief that they are both capable and trustworthy.

5. Fill our emotional needs elsewhere

We must not look to our teen sons to meet our emotional needs. They were our babies, it’s true, and we desire them to reciprocate that love, but behaving in a way that obligates them to reciprocate, makes them feel forced, and may drive our teens away. Our needs should be met by our time with God, by the strengthening of our marriages, and spending time with our friends.  Being cognizant to loosen and eventually cut those apron-strings allows them to develop into the independent adults they need to become.

6. Be the kind person you’d like him to marry

It’s no surprise that often our sons end up choosing a spouse similar to the woman who raised them.   If we care about the quality of our sons’ future spouse, we need to focus on growing our own character and embodying the characteristics of the kind of spouse we would want our sons to one day marry.

7. Don’t nag

Let’s refuse to be the dripping faucet that irritates and annoys our teens. If their behavior must change, natural consequences tend to be the best motivators.   This not only conveys our respect and confidence in their ability to make a different choice next time, but also puts the responsibility where it belongs–on them.

8. Have interests other than just our teens

We need to resist making our life, as a mom, solely revolve around our teens. It makes them feel like you can’t do life on your own two feet, which leads them to lose respect for you. Having some independent interests will help our sons grow healthier relationships, with us and with others. So please, find hobbies, discover new interests, or invest in friendship and service to others–all of which will serve as a good model for how they should do life as an adult.

9. Ask their opinion

As a teen, our sons long to feel important. They want to be heard and know their opinion truly matters. So ask them what they think and be ready to listen!

10. Be prepared to give them advice

Our teen sons are going to have questions–big ones–about God, our society, and our world. And when our teens ask, it is so important for us to be prepared to give them an answer. So please, study. We must research the issues and know where we stand. That way when they ask, we’ll have a great answer.

What do you think is important for the parent of a teen to know?

What advice would you give?

Jacque-Watkins

 

 Jacque Watkins is a mercy lover, podcaster of Mud Stories, and champion of second chances, who knows God’s mercy can find you too.

 

This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons. Click here to read them all!

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How to Build Relationship with Your Teen Son

How does it feel to raise teen sons? You recently told us on our MOB Society Facebook page:

Invisible

Not needed

Powerless

Helpless

Exhausted

Exhilarated

Frustration

Bewilderment

Fear

Hard work, right?

I sat through a parenting class before I was even a mom, and heard a seasoned grandmother say these words, “Go after their hearts. Whatever you do, however you discipline them, whatever you teach them, keep their hearts with you. Do everything in your power to keep their hearts trusting in you and your battle will be so much easier.”

It’s about relationship.

Those words have stuck with me for years, and as I’ve raised my boys I’ve kept it at the forefront of my mind. We must commit to build relationship with our boys so that when troubles come they’ll have a safe place to land, turning to us instead of the world (<<—-tweet that).

We must commit to building relationship with our boys so that when troubles come they'll have a safe place to land.

 

How to Build Relationship With Your Teen Son

Because this is so important, we’re going to devote the entire month of September to the fine art of building relationship with teen boys. You’ll hear from veteran boy moms like Tricia Goyer, Laura Groves, Gina Smith, Melanie Young, Lisa Whittle, Julie Sanders, Monica Swanson, Jacque Watkins, Tracey Eyster, Becky Barnfather, and from Nathan Clarkson (who isn’t a boy mom, but whose story gives so many of us hope that our hard work will pay off in the end).

We’ll keep a running list of posts here, so you can refer to them over and over, and in the end, we might just make this little series available as a fun download. Make sure you don’t miss anything by signing up to get our blog feed in your email right now, and we’ll see you with post #1 on Monday.

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 Ten Things Your Teen Son Wants You to Know

 Eight Simple Things You Can Do to Stay Connected to Your Teen Son

How to Trust God in the Hard Times