Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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31 Days: Fear of the Future, Part 1

{art: Léon-Augustin L’hermitte}

During my scared-to-death days, one of my greatest fears was fear of the future.

In fact, I can safely say that I missed most of my teen years because my obsession was with what might happen later.  Yep, it was that bad.

This fear came from a combination of things.  I came from a religious, cultural, and even family background that emphasized “what’s coming,” predictions of political and social disaster, an emphasis on historical tragedies like the Holocaust, the Great Depression, past and current tales of Christian persecution, and apprehension about an uncertain future.  These emphases combined to create a perfect storm of terror in my heart.

It’s true, terrible things have happened historically, terrible things are happening now to people around the world, and my future is not guaranteed.  I don’t know what I’ll see in my lifetime.  It won’t all be good, I know that much.  9-11 stands out as one of the key tragedies of my generation, and I know there will be more.  I may find myself front and center in one of these tragedies.  So I’m not hiding my head in the sand and pretending that bad things won’t happen.

But I believe that there are two areas where I went wrong.

The first is that I did not trust God.

We don’t know the future. 

A popular, mainstream Christian author wrote a book years ago that predicted that the economy would collapse by 1996 at the latest.  Never happened.

Another Christian “prophet,” revered by many evangelical Christians, sent out a “word from God” that described how to prepare for Y2K.  Which, as we know, never happened.

The bottom line is that we just don’t know.  I believe it’s likely that the tragedies of our lifetimes will blindside us.  The ones we anticipate may not happen, and the ones we experience will probably be things we never expected.  Just my opinion.

In light of this, I have to trust God.  I get to trust God.  How foolish to sit around dwelling on what might happen when there is a beautiful life to be lived!

My life has challenges.  Pretty big ones that I don’t talk about on my blog.  But that doesn’t mean that God has not given me an amazing life to enjoy.  He’s given me a calling.  An obsession with the what-ifs of the future would paralyze me and prevent me from doing what he wants me to do right now.

I lost far too many years that way.  I won’t do it again.

We often see not trusting God as no big deal.

 It is a big deal. 

Fear kills our joy, our potential, and our faith.

It’s wrong.  And it’s huge.

How about you?  What is your greatest fear of the future?  How do you combat that fear?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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31 Days: How Fear Can Make us Over-Shelter our Kids

{art: Léon-Augustin L’hermitte}

Years ago I attended a conference by a man who traveled all over the nation claiming to teach about fearless parenting.

He didn’t use the word fearless.  He used a synonym, one that means dauntless, valiant, audacious.

He proposed some radical means of parenting “fearlessly,” which mostly amounted to cloistering your children from any bad influences and hiding from the culture at large, setting lots of extreme rules and controlling your children’s every move.

Furthermore, he had an extensive list of plans and rules for his children’s future spouses, such as that they must live in close proximity to his family and have a habit of eating healthy foods.

The funny thing is that it’s hard to parent this way unless you are very scared.  Scared of society, scared of bad influences, scared of other Christians, scared of your kids and even yourself and your ability to disciple them in a hostile culture.

So this parenting method is not audacious at all. 

I believe that it’s a reactionary method rooted in fear and disbelief.

Dauntless, valiant, audacious parents trust God.  

They view their parenting through a greater framework of their total relationship with God and understanding of his Word.

They practice wisdom and protect their children from evil with the knowledge that our world is broken and bad things are going to happen—but God is able to either protect us from them or help us through them.

They let their children wrestle through questions and struggles to come out the other side stronger.

They disciple their children to live courageously in the culture,but not of it. 

They are OK with making mistakes as parents, because they understand that we are dust and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and he can fill the gaps we lack. 

They expect their children to fail, as fellow sinners, and they do not hold them to higher standards of perfect obedience than they hold themselves.

Parents should use wisdom.  A certain amount of sheltering is appropriate, I believe.  Each family and each child is different and we want to be wise about what we expose them to and when.  There are no rules for this.

But what a fallacy to believe that we can protect them from everything forever!

I’ve heard it said that if your children are never aware of sin and perversion, then when they’re confronted by it, they’ll recognize it immediately and be repulsed.  This isn’t true.

Even as we shield our children from the worst of the world when they are small, we also have to realize that in an increasingly decadent culture, the worst of the world will quickly find them.  We should act sooner rather than later.

It’s our job to proactively help them recognize evil, how to think wisely about it, and how to protect themselves from it.  If you’ve waited until your children are teens, I guarantee that the world has beaten you to it.  We worry that if our children know about darkness, that we are somehow throwing them to the wolves.  But I believe that by not walking and talking with them through it, we are leaving them open and vulnerable to a very loud, aggressive society.  That’s truly throwing your children to the wolves.

We don’t want to talk to our kids about the tough stuff in a way that dumps too much sordid detail on them.  Not in a way that tries to scare them silly.  Not in a superstitious way.  But with wisdom, grace, and common sense—all the while, trusting God through it.

This is fearless parenting.

A little disclaimer: I’ve lived most aspects of this post at one time or another, but I also haven’t finished raising my kids.  I’m finding my way too, and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes.  But these are my thoughts as they stand right now.

What about you?  Are you tempted to over-shelter or avoid talking to your children about sensitive, hard topics?  How to you talk to your children about these things?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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31 Days: Ann Voskamp on Overcoming Fear

In this interview, Ann discusses her journey out of fear.  It’s an hour long.  Put it on while you wash dishes or fold laundry…well worth it.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

In my upcoming ebook, Fearless Mothering, I tell about how God helped me to overcome a lifestyle of debilitating fear.  Look for it in November!


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31 Days: Raise Brave Kids

“Scared moms raise scared kids.  Brave moms raise brave kids.” 

Jen Hatmaker, 2012 dotMom conference, Dallas 

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

In my upcoming ebook, Fearless Mothering, I tell about how God helped me to overcome a lifestyle of debilitating fear.  Look for it in November!


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31 Days: Do You Believe Christian Superstitions?

Scientifically we know that superstitions are silly.

That doesn’t stop a lot of us from believing them, though.

Does it make you twitch when a black cat crosses your path?

When you break a mirror?

Do you knock on wood?

A lot of people don’t believe in those kinds of superstitions.  But what about Christian superstitions?

You might believe that if we pray a certain prayer—the Prayer of Jabez or the Lord’s Prayer, or for some, the Hail Mary—it becomes some sort of protective mantra in and of itself.  You might think that the words have power.  Or perhaps you even trust in the “salvation prayer” mantra to get you into heaven.   You think that if we walk an aisle and pray with a preacher, that somehow automatically secures your eternal soul no matter what was going on in your heart.

You might wear a cross or a medal in hopes that it will protect you like a talisman.

Or maybe you are scared that God will be mad at you because you throw away a tattered Bible, as if somehow the leather and paper and ink hold magical powers.

You might believe that there is just one way to raise kids and struggle with fear because you are so afraid of failing at the formula, the magical method that will ensure that your kids turn out perfectly.

And if you have a child that rebels or makes poor choices or rejects God?  It must have been that you didn’t follow the formula quite right, like a chemist who mis-measured and caused an explosion.

Legalistic rules are really just superstitions.  At one point I thought going to a movie theater was sin in and of itself.  And the first time I went I waited for lightning to strike.  There was no rhyme or reason to why I feared this, other than that I’d believed a religious superstition I had been taught.

Under the guise of spiritual warfare, you may see demons around every corner.  Car won’t start?  Satan is attacking!  Drought?  The devil has it in for you personally.  Got the sniffles?  Must be a spiritual attack from the scary, scary pits of hell!  (And if you say the right mantra, it will go away.)

That’s not to say that there isn’t real spiritual warfare, because there certainly is—but I know many Christians who live in fear of Satan and turn everything into warfare, when sometimes it’s just that we live in a broken world.

What about naming and claiming God’s blessings or planting financial seeds in a ministry so God will return a huge harvest to you?  Or the belief that God will always heal you if you have enough faith? Here we go with the mantra theme again!  This can cause so much spiritual and emotional distress when what you claim doesn’t come to pass.  Guilt and fear take over as you might believe that the reason God is not granting you your request is because you don’t have enough faith.

Belief in superstitions—cultural or religious—are a way we try to make sense of the world.  But the way we should make sense of the world is through Jesus and his Gospel—the good news of grace.

There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more, and nothing we can do to make him love us less.  He leads each Christian by the Holy Spirit.  He is not waiting to drop a hammer on you because you got the mantra or the formula wrong.

Stop living in bondage to superstitions!  Find freedom in the only all-powerful person—God!

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

In my upcoming ebook, Fearless Mothering, I tell about how God helped me to overcome a lifestyle of debilitating fear.  Look for it in November!


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31 Days: Fearing the News

{art: Elizabeth Nourse}

We live in terrifying times.  What kind of world are we leaving to our children? 

It’s made even scarier because of the at-our-fingertips information we can get today.  When women kept their homes on the frontier, they might be frightened of the threat of Indian attacks or a wolf after their livestock, but news of that was sporadic.

Today, not only are we kept abreast of the scary things in our neighborhoods, but we hear of genocidal generals in Africa, mass murder in Norway, and brutality toward Christians in the Middle East.

We hear about our country’s enemies all around the world and what they might do tomorrow.  This news comes to us by way of sensationalist reporters.

If you’re the type to listen to conspiracy theorists, you may think that it looks pretty certain that we are doomed.

In addition, we are bombarded day and night with inflammatory, mean-spirited political news and commentary, with each side demonizing the other.  If we listen to either side, soon we are convinced that whoever doesn’t believe as we do are bloodthirsty goons who wish for our personal destruction and the destruction of our nation.

There is no end to the frightening news we can get if we want to.

It’s easy to adopt a bunker mentality and decide to hunker down and protect our families from all the scary stuff that’s out there or that might be coming. 

Some families do this by political and social action.  They believe that our hope lies in the change that comes with activism.

A few respond to this fear by going to radical extremes.  They stockpile food and weapons with the notion that they can somehow set themselves up to survive an apocalyptic eventuality.

Some just feel helpless but just worry all the time.

However you cut it, this kind of fear is a failure to trust God.

We must look to what he says.

He has determined the times and places we will live.  (Acts 17:26)

Like Queen Esther, we and our children were born for such a time as this.

The hearts of national leaders are in God’s hand.  He turns them whichever way he wants. (Prov. 21:1)

We aren’t to put our trust in political leaders.  (Psalm 146:3)

We are to pray for our leaders.  The way to live a quiet, dignified life is to pray for government authorities. (I Timothy 2:1-2)

Our hope is in Jesus and his Gospel, not in politics.  (Jesus had an interesting way of living in a scary culture.)

It’s my personal belief that the good we can do by activism is negligible in the grand scheme of things.  (The Right has been fighting the culture war for over 30 years now—and losing profoundly.)

hat’s not to say that God might not call us to political or social action.  However, we must realize that in the face of the monumental problems—real problems—what we can do humanly is very limited.  It’s easy to become discouraged and disillusioned by this.

 Unless we realize that our hope does not lie in our own efforts.

 When people change, nations change.

And in my belief, Jesus makes the best possible kind of changes.

How revolutionary is that?

If we call ourselves Christians, our kingdom is not of this world.  We’re citizens of a better, heavenly country.  Do we spend as much time and energy building that kingdom as we do promoting our earthly political agendas?  Do we look forward with hope to the day when all things will be set right?  Or are we obsessed with current events that simply reflect a sin-broken world?

So instead of frantic, fearful, negligible activism, yes–act as God leads–

but mostly pray and reach out with the love of Christ? 

Your politically opposite neighbor, your Muslim co-worker, the kid you fear may be the next theater murderer?

Show them Jesus.  Love them.  Befriend them.

Sometimes we say with resignation, “All we can do is pray.”  All we can do?  We have the ear of the all-powerful God of the universe and yet we see prayer as our last resort?

All the oppositional activism in the world will not change their hearts.  In fact, it might even alienate them.

But loving people unconditionally  and praying for them will reach hearts, and it may lead them to Christ.

And when Christ changes people, the world becomes better.

Don’t be pushy, just loving.

This is where real transformation happens—on your street and around the globe.

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

Linking:

Thought Provoking Thursday
Thoughtful Thursday
Thankful Thursday
Life in Bloom
Thrive at Home Thursday