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

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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

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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.

Teaching our Boys to be Honest

One of my sons came home from school (he was in the 5th grade at the time) and I stood in the kitchen, holding a letter from the school.  The envelope contained a copy of a disciplinary note that he was supposed to bring me a copy of two weeks earlier.

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It is in how we handle those moments, and all of the moments in between, that teach our sons how important it is to be honest.

It makes a mama mad to know her son is being anything less than honest with her.  In a world that beckons boys to say what they think others want to hear, how can we help them become honest men of integrity?

O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. Psalm 15: 1-2

Here are a few key areas to focus on when teaching sons to be honest:

  • Model honesty in your everyday life.  Our boys are watching us.  They hear us whisper to our spouse to tell the person on the other line that we aren’t home to take their call.  They see us paste a fake smile on our faces as we walk into church, after arguing with our spouse the whole way there.  They watch us tell the panhandler that we don’t have any cash, when we just left the ATM.   If we think your sons are too young to notice the nuances of dishonesty that cloud our lives, we are lying to ourselves.
  • Reward honesty.  Teach your boys that the consequences of lying will be more severe then if they come clean when questioned.  Let them tell you hard things without fear of your reaction.
  • Give Biblical examples.  The Bible is full of stories that teach the importance of being honest.  Show your child what happens when the truth is not priority.  Stories like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) are great places to start.

The world needs more honest men. Let’s do our best to raise them.

Lord, we humbly ask that you provide us the strength to be women of honesty. Show us how to lead our boys in your ways and how to help them live lives of truth.  Give us patience, wisdom and grace for our boys, the same that You have for us.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Teenage Triple Whammy: Shaving, Braces, and Muscles

This month, our oldest son graduates from 8th grade which means he’s headed to high school lickety-split. The transition from middle school to high school is a game changer.

While he certainly has bigger challenges ahead of him, right now our teenager is increasingly aware of his appearance. He went from couldn’t care less to self-conscious almost overnight. His awareness of girls and the desire to play high school football motivate this new emphasis on grooming and physical stature.

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Boys hit puberty at different rates. As they head into high school, many boys outweigh their mamas and some are taller than their fathers. Voices are dropping right and left and chubby, youthful faces are morphing into more mature visages.

In our house, physical appearance challenges can be narrowed down to the teenage boy triple whammy—shaving, braces, and muscles.

Tips for Teenagers on Shaving, Braces, and Muscles

Shaving

Shaving is a rite of passage. However, talking about facial hair, shaving, and basic grooming can be awkward for your teenage son.

  • Don’t turn a “first shave” into a “first baby steps” moment. We failed at this. Making a video of your son’s first shave for future rehearsal dinner material will not go over well with your teenager. Trust me on this one.
  • Help keep his medicine cabinet and gym bag stocked. Make sure all your son’s grooming needs are in full supply and accessible. If it’s not in plain sight, my son won’t use it so, I help by making sure items like shaving cream, a clean razor, hair gel, deodorant, and, yes, toothpaste are all within arms reach.

Braces

Despite the fact that most teens spend time in braces, they feel as if they are the only brace-face that ever lived. Closed-mouth smiles, larger mouth guards for sports, and the annoying broken bracket syndrome are all side effects of wearing braces. Our biggest challenge is keeping a growing teenage boy with braces fed. We’ve upped our game by getting creative in the kitchen and adding a variety of whole food snacks that are soft and healthy.

Our favorite “Braces Friendly” recipes:

Muscles

For teenage boys who still haven’t had the inevitable growth spurt, telling them it’s coming will fall on deaf ears. While I would love to have the problem of being too skinny, for a teenage boy it’s an epic discouragement. We encourage healthy ways to beef up his muscles by providing balanced snacks and meals with lots of good protein.

Our son’s favorite protein packed meals:

What advice do you have to offer on guiding our sons through these teenage years?

 

When He’s Pulling Away…

 

I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve taken, or how many images I’ve captured of my son throughout the years. But this shot–this picture right here–this one grabs me.

This one hurts.

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The sweet boy pictured here has his whole life before him; plenty of dreams, hopes, and all the desires of his precious heart wrapped-up within his small, tweenage frame. They’re right there, just beneath the surface…

And I wish I knew what they were.

I know that sounds strange–odd even–but this kid of mine? This amazing boy God’s given me to raise…he’s pulling away. I feel it. I see it. I hear it in the way he talks, in the alone time he seeks, and the nature of our conversations.

He’s growing up…and I don’t know how to handle it.

I can’t tell you how hard that is to admit, or how much I struggle with this newfound reality, but I am struggling. The mama he used to run towards for hugs and kisses, Band-Aids and bedtime stories is slowly being pushed aside. He’s becoming more independent. He’s forming his own ideas and opinions. My son’s got a voice all his own and everything about him is indeed, changing.

Oh, how I used to know this kid inside and out—his likes and dislikes. This was the child who never left my side…the baby who always snuggled, and always smiled. This young man was once the little boy who’d planned on becoming a fireman, loved the color blue, and whose favorite pastime included anything (and everything) having to do with cars…and trains…and dirt.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago.

But those cars are gone. The trains have all been donated. And the stuffed animals that once graced his bed, held firmly within his toddler grip, are no longer.

You know, I can’t quite pinpoint when this transition took place or why it’s hit me especially hard this summer, but it has. God’s preparing my son for what lies ahead.

And He’s working on me too.

I’ve realized that I’ve got to adapt. I’ve got to begin to let go–to let him fly–little by little. I have to encourage my son’s independence and relinquish my attempts for the control I so desperately want to possess. I need to give him more space, just as I need to speak (a little bit) less and listen more.

It’s true. My son is pulling away. He’s desiring more freedom. He’s right smack in the middle of finding himself and his place in this world.

And I have to let him–whether I want to or not.

 Are you struggling with this too, friend? Has your son started pulling away…transforming into the young man God’s created him to be? Here’s what you can do:

Breathe. Our boys are changing into young men and it’s not an easy process for any of us. It’s a delicate balance. There’s a lot of emotion involved. Understand their need for more space. Listen to their hearts (when they choose to share). Allow them to breathe.

Adapt. I wasn’t informed how heart-wrenching this would be or how much I’d long for the days of old, but it is, and we must adapt. We need to embrace this new stage; try and relate to what they’re going through, and be there for them throughout this phase and beyond.

Trust. This metamorphosis (of sorts) is just the beginning. I know there’s a lot more to come and I know it’s going to be a struggle. This mama heart of mine may just break (in half) along the way. Even so, I’m going to ask God for help. I’m going to seek His counsel, pray (a lot), and trust in Him. Always.

 

Jenny-SulpizioJenny Lee Sulpizio is a wife to one, mom of three, and daughter of the most-high King, who tends to share (and possibly overshare) all things mama-related. To learn more about Jenny or to visit her blog, Mom on a Mission, head over to www.jennyleesulpizio.com