Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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31 Days: When Your Children are Afraid

{art:Robert Gemmell Hutchison}

Kids get scared.

Often these fears are childish—fear of the dark or fear of being alone.

When I was little I was afraid the three bears lived in my mom’s shower.  Later, I was convinced that there was a skeleton in there.  And I thought there were scary angels in my brother’s walk-in closet.

Hardly rational.

But what do you do when the fears are real, when what they fear might really happen?

This is our opportunity to disciple our children to trust God.

First, we must model faith ourselves.  Our children will mimic what they see.

Second, we must continuously reassure them of God’s love, care, and faithfulness even when bad things happen.

Third, we should pray with them and for them and encourage them to pray themselves.

Fourth, we can provide scripture for them to meditate on when they are frightened.  For years my brother kept a tiny plaque in his room with 2 Timothy 1:7 engraved on it: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  This reinforces truth to our children.

Finally, if possible, we should present them with a plan to use in case their fear comes to pass.  “If you forget your song during the recital, just smile and start over.  Remember, the audience is on your side!”  Sometimes having a plan in place makes all the difference.

A firm foundation of faith will help our children grow into fearless people who trust Jesus.  We have the precious opportunity to set them on that journey now—even when their fears are well-founded.

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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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One Way to Beat the Blues

Many years ago during a very dark time in my life, I kept a tiny journal next to my bed.

Each night before sleep, I wrote 5 things I was thankful for.

I attribute that one small habit with bringing light and hope and making the circumstantial depression bearable: a simple daily reflection on God’s goodness.

This week’s challenge: Keep a gratitude journal.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a place where you can jot down what you’re thankful for that day.  Three to five things seems to be a good number.

Help your children do this as well.  Gratitude helps turn their minds away from their own frustrations to a positive direction.

Here is another post where I wrote about this in relation to getting your day started right!

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Each month I am looking at one of 5 positive disciplines mentioned by Michael Hyatt in this podcast to re-order our family lives so we can use the internet for good and avoid its destructive impact.  The discipline for the month of September is Reflection.

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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, this fall!

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Linking:

WIP Wednesday

Women Living Well Wednesday

Works for Me Wednesday

Encourage One Another


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2 Questions That Will Change the Way You Mother

I don’t know about you, but even though I am home with my children all day, I sometimes get so busy with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and basic physical care that I forget to come up for air and connect with my kids the way I should.

Lately I have tried to ask myself two questions at the end of the day.

“How have I fed my children’s souls today?”

Did I pray with them?  Did we read a Bible story?  Did we have a spiritually meaningful conversation?  Better yet, were these things sprinkled through my day as a lifestyle of discipleship?  It’s not about a checklist.  Every day will look different.  But was I intentional in some way about nurturing their spiritual lives?

“How have I reached my children’s hearts today?”

Have I connected with each of them in a way that makes them feel loved and strengthens our bond?  Did I give enough hugs and snuggles?  Did I take time to listen to them?  Did I say “yes” to their requests for a game or a tea party?  Did I speak gently and with understanding?  Did I discipline with grace, mercy, and kindness?  Did we read together?  Did I laugh with them?

Again, each day will look different.  But I don’t want the days to slip away with so many mundane activities that I neglect my relationship with my children, and their relationship with God.

Asking these questions has been good self-accountability.  Day by day it may not seem like much, but it adds up to a years of little connections that build a solid foundation.

What is one thing you do to feed your child’s soul or win their hearts?

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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, this fall!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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How to Convince Your Kids You are a Hypocrite

Years ago as a new mom, I embraced a child training philosophy that emphasized first-time obedience.

You might have heard it put this way: “Obey right away, all the way, with a happy heart.”

I believe obedience is important.

One place where I think this philosophy breaks down, though, is when we have higher expectations of our kids than we have of ourselves.  And not just a little higher.

Astronomically higher.

We want our kids to obey perfectly 100% of the time.  OK, 99.999%.  Some parenting gurus say that their very souls depend on it, and that if we don’t follow a certain model of discipline for every single infraction, we disobey God.

Yet Father God does not punish his kids instantly for every infraction—

Oh wait, we commit infractions?

We disobey?

Aren’t children supposed to obey “right away, all the way, with a happy heart?”

WHAT?  Christian moms don’t obey our Father God like this?

The thing is, we should.  And our kids should obey us.  But we don’t.  And they don’t.  Like our children, we are sinners who disobey our Father.

When we follow this philosophy, we operate with a huge double standard.  If we’re Christians, we expect more from our children in their relationship with us than we expect of ourselves in our relationship with God.  And when we mess up, we expect God to forgive us instead of dropping the hammer—but we can be so quick to mete out punishment to our kids for the smallest things.

Or maybe we do expect God to drop a hammer.  Maybe we believe that He is always ashamed of us or waiting to punish us.  Maybe we think that His love or favor depends on our performance, and that He withdraws when we mess up.  So it seems logical to do the same to our children.

Here’s the thing.  Jesus didn’t come to drop a hammer on you.  He came to offer forgiveness.

We do mess up, all of us.  We need someone to rescue us.  We deserve punishment.  I look at my sins and heck yeah, I think someone needs to knock some sense into me sometimes.

But the Jesus way is so much more gentle.  He just wants us to come to him and tell him how sorry we are, so that he can say, “I already paid for that.  I forgive you.”

Is that how we approach our children?  When they sin and mess up, do we drop the hammer?  Or do we understand their weakness and guide them toward truth?

I’m not saying that there should be no boundaries or consequences.  But what’s our heart toward them?  Retribution?  Anger?  Rigid expectations of perfection?

Are we surprised when they mess up?  Do we feel that we deserve better behavior from them?

Or do we get that we mess up too? 

Do our children know that we will quickly offer grace and forgiveness?

I don’t have this down pat.  Just as once upon a time I was too hard, maybe I am sometimes a little too lenient now.  Sometimes I fall back into old patterns.  I’m finding my way.

But I know this.  I don’t want to raise my kids with a double standard.  If I do, when they look at me they will see one thing: hypocrite.  That’s not what I want my kids to see, and I bet it’s not what you want yours to see either.

So how about it?  Instead of focusing on outward behavior, let’s guide our kids toward the great Heart-Changer, shall we?  Let’s give them grace!

How do you see God?  How does this influence the way you raise your children?

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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, this fall.


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Mentor Monday: Mrs. Ferre

“My training to serve God began in the school of prayer, which is the strongest power on earth. 

As my mind wanders back into my childhood days, and memories unfold as pages in a book, I remember how Mama brought us eight children up on prayer.  She served it both as a full-course meal and snacks in between.  There was no escaping from this order.  It was the only contact between heaven and earth, so when one wanted to commune with God, one must pray…

Mama was impatient in her praying.  She was never willing to wait for things, but expected an immediate answer…

To Mama, prayer came as easy as breathing.  Even if she knew people termed her prayer method strange and naïve, it never seemed to bother her.  She kept on praying that the cake she had placed in the oven would not fall and that the food would stretch a long way because there were so many to feed at the table. 

And there was the long line of people who depended on her help and came to ask her to take their problems to God for them.  Those people surely believe that God would answer them through Mama.  They felt that in some strange way she was “in” with God and that He would grant her what He would refuse them.  So prayers would be sent out for a quick sale of their house, for a husband to be kinder to his wife, and children to recover from their colds. 

I often heard her prayers and saw the people coming, and I never remember one who went away disappointed.  Things did change when Mama talked with God.”

~Mama’s Way by Thyra Ferre Bjorn

The example of Thyra’s mother influenced her children to follow God.  Mama’s Way is a little book about prayer that tells about the fruit that was borne in her life because of her mother’s example.

It challenged me to set a better example to my children in the area of prayer.

Do you pray in front of your children?  How do you set an example that will inspire them spiritually?

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Linking to Better Mom Mondays

On My Heart

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!  Also, look for my e-book, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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How to Reach Your Child’s Heart Part 2 (Parenting Lessons from Inc Magazine)

I’m looking at parallel thoughts inspired by Inc Magazines article 10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People.  Find part 1 here.

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Remember that your kids are valuable because they are made in the image of God, not because of their performance.

In our families, we can become so consumed with good grades, proper behavior, or how our kids reflect on us, that we can fail to love and accept our children just as they are.  They are far more important than straight A’s or making the football team.  Do they know this?

Praise.

Do we praise our children when they do right?  Do we share their success with others?  I don’t mean we should brag obnoxiously, but our children should know we are proud of them.

Use positive words.

Do our kids hear us complain about what it’s like to be a mom?  Do we constantly talk about the sleepless nights and discipline troubles?  Or do they hear us talk with joy about what we do?  Yes, it can be hard.  But it is also one of the most amazing and rewarding jobs in the world.  Do we talk this way around our children?

Don’t be critical.

Don’t have a critical spirit toward other people.  If your children hear you constantly criticizing others, they will lose trust in you as they realize that it’s just a matter of time before that criticism is turned on them.

Be quick to make things right.

Tell your kids when you mess up.  They already know.  Seek their forgiveness.  Nothing is more attractive than humility.

When it comes right down to it, becoming “charismatic” in the context of our families this is simply following the golden rule: treating our children the way we want to be treated.

How are you treating your kids today?

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How to Win Your Child’s Heart Part 1 (Parenting Lessons from Inc Magazine)

Our kids want to feel valued and accepted.

They want to know they are some of the most important people in our lives.

Do we always communicate this in a way they understand?

Inc Magazine recently published a great article called 10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People, which basically outlined how to make others feel valued.

Charismatic people are just people who make others feel significant, special, wanted, loved.  That’s attractive.  Some people might use these principles selfishly (faking an interest in others so they’ll be liked or gain a business edge), but as moms, we can genuinely employ this universal wisdom to help our children feel loved, and in turn to open their hearts to us as we become attractive to them.

I thought about these 10 principles and realized that there are similar ones that apply to parenting. Here’s what I came up with.

Listen, don’t lecture.

Having a conversation with a kid takes a lot of time.  It is so tempting to cut them off and just give advice, but this won’t win them over.  I find that when my girls are upset, sometimes I have to hold them, let them cry, and listen to their hearts for about half an hour before they actually find the words to express the real problem.  I would miss that if I jumped right into into fix-it mode or advice mode.

Don’t just hear what you want to hear.

Moms, we need to truly listen to our children and seek to relate to them.  Don’t brush off their thoughts and feelings even if they seem silly to you.  Remember what it was like when you were a kid?  Share that!  Let your children know that you “get” them!

Give them your full attention.

Turn off the computer, put away your phone, stop scanning while you half-listen.  Look them in the eye and focus on them.

Serve selflessly even if you don’t feel rewarded or appreciated.

Mothering can feel like a thankless task sometimes.  I confess, I have been guilty at times of saying something like, “I went to all the effort of (repainting your room, cooking your favorite food, throwing you a party)—and this is the thanks I get?”  I know, not my finest mom moments.  But true sacrificial mothering doesn’t look for something in return.  It just serves like Jesus.

Don’t lord your position over your children.

“Because I’m the mom, that’s why!”  Who hasn’t said that—or at least thought it?  We mamas shouldn’t lord our authority over our children.  There was a time in my life when I thought good mothering was strict and adversarial.  That authoritarian attitude drove a huge wedge in my relationship with my children.  When I started exercising my parental authority in a gentle, sacrificial way, I saw my children’s hearts open to me.

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Look for Part 2 tomorrow.

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