Another Peak Behind the Scenes of our Teens’ Selfie Society

IMG_2898If the title of this blog sounds vaguely familiar you may remember reading my post in which I initially shared the teen survey link that I have used as foundational research for a manuscript I am currently working on. Today I have the privelege of sharing some of the information cultivated from these surveys in a guest blog post for Rooted Ministry.  

Rooted seeks to transform youth groups by focusing on grace-driven and Christ-centered teaching. They believe, as do I, the solution to preventing the mass exodus of students involved in youth ministry from leaving the church once they move on to college and adulthood is prioritizing the preaching of Christ’s work and worth. Hearing about who He is for them, as opposed to a focus on law-driven, morality-based teaching, is the life-giving message they must hear to be firmly rooted in Him.

I encourage you to read more on the Rooted site after picking up my post there today. You can read it by clicking here.

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Two Things To Instill into Our Kids Before College

UnknownTypically I embrace summer with a slowed-down schedule, but the first two weeks of it have been anything but slow. Even with my kids leaving for camp in a couple of days, there will be no true respite this season since my second manuscript is due in August and plans for our church-plant’s particularization service need to be underway!

Finally though after a long-weekend out of town I have had time to at least sit and process some very significant events I have been a part of over the last few days: an adoption, a graduation, a wedding and a meeting with a university president.  There is much I could say about any one of the first three events as they were sweet reminders of God’s faithfulness and the blessing of family and dear friends. But with my daughter nearing college  it is the meeting with Baylor’s president, who also happens to be a famous Judge (think Clinton-era), that is at the forefront of my mind. 

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Specifically, it was his answer to the question my daughter asked him:

What makes a successful student?

While many things could characterize a successful student, what he said, without missing a beat, sounds more descriptive of a student from a bygone generation than it does today. And to be honest, I think it’s more telling of our parenting than anything else.

The two things he listed:

  1. Determination
  2. Service

What followed was a conversation reflecting on today’s world of “iPhones, iPads and selfies” as indicitive of our me-mentality and self-first mindset.

While we do service projects they are often done to boost resumes or to help us feel good about ourselves. Though there are genuine acts of service, for most students and parents alike our overall concern is for Self. We do not love others as we ought and we care way more about ourselves being first, getting ahead, receiving recognition and achieving what we want than we do about diving in, rolling up our sleeves and walking alongside someone else.

When it is convenient, sure, we will do something nice for another. But, if it encroaches upon our time, not so much. If it costs us little, okay, but how often we bail when it requires major sacrifice of our time, money and emotional well-being – Self!

Along those same lines is a sense of self-entitlement. A belief that we deserve something – not because we have worked hard – but because of who we are. In today’s world our kids are accustomed to getting what they want, when they want. Whether it be the newest fashion, constant entertainment, special exceptions to the rules, extentions on projects or extra opportunitites, they know how to manipulate for the betterment of themselves.

I am not saying there are not kids who work extremely hard against all odds to acheive goals. There definitely are, but by in large we as parents do everything in our power to shield our kids from disappointment, hardship and consequences by coming to their rescue or doing things for them.

But how is this preparing them for college and beyond when we know the real world does not always give us what we want? What is going to happen when for the first-time they experience rejection, can’t talk their way into something or lack the funds to do what they want?  Will they sink into a self pity-party or be able to rise above?

From the president’s assessment of what a truly successful student looks like, I am reminded of something my husband often tell my sons in regard to their sports. That is most coaches would hands-down take a kid who is a hard worker and a team player over the one with most talent because hard work beats talent every time. And someone who works to make others great knows what it means to be great.

So how about instead of leading our kids to believe success comes from being the best, making it to the top, earning the most money, receiving the most accolades, getting the wins or what they want, we reorient them to these Biblical truths:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” Colossians 3:23

… love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

To see these things in my kids is what will make them Valedictorians in my book!

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The Power in Our Words

When my son walked in the door on the last day of school he immediately pulled out his yearbook to show me what one of his fifth grade teachers had written. All year she has praised him for his journal writing and commented on how many journals he filled. He never was without a story to tell, which even surprised me, as a writer, knowing there are just some days that I’ve got nothing!

When I opened his yearbook to see her note I knew exactly why he was smiling and so eager to show me this…FullSizeRender Because she thinks he will be a famous sports writer, he believes he will!  

All year he has said this is what he wants to be when he grows up (after his professional baseball career ends, of course 🙂 ) But, it wasn’t until the next morning when she texted me that I realized the extent to which the power of her encouraging words have impacted him. IMG_7975

“YOU ARE THE REASON I WANT TO BE A SPORTS WRITER!”

Of course! She is the one who has fostered this dream! Her encouragement has given him the confidence to believe he is a good writer and just having that belief is enough to motivate him to keep writing and to not be afraid to put his thoughts down. What a gift that is to him whether becoming a sports writer is ultimately what he pursues or not!

Simple words of encouragement can change our kids (and anyone else), just as simply as negative feedback changes them too. Our words are either a gift or a curse, but too often we forget to consider the real power of our words. Too often we only see what needs correction or change and neglect to give the life-giving words of praise.

I am so guilty of this. I see it in the faces of my kids when the first words out of my mouth communicate they have fallen short of my expectations. Just as I see the satisfying smile when they know I am proud of them.

The truth is my love is not tied to their performance and neither is God’s. But I see how they could think otherwise. 

By God’s grace I will speak more words of encouragement and affirmation instead of words that sink them into thinking they are not good enough and stifle their self-assurance. Words like-

  • “You look beautiful!” instead of “Is that what you’re wearing?”
  • “You make me laugh!” instead of “I’m trying to do something and you are so loud.”
  • “I’m proud of you for working so hard” instead of “Why didn’t you get an A?”
  • “You are so thoughtful!” when they treat their siblings special or help around the house instead of just remarking on where they fail.

Words like-

  • Thank you for being so patient when I was not.
  • I love how compassionate you are toward those who are hurting.
  • I love how your eyes light up when you smile.
  • I love that you aren’t afraid to try something new.
  • I love that you acted as your “brother’s keeper!”
  • I love you!

Words that breathe confidence and life. Words we should also be speaking to our spouses, friends, neighbors, kids’ teachers, pastor, the woman checking us out at the grocery store, the man in line next to us at the post office and the young mom with the crying baby on the plane.

You get the point – we all need to be encouraged and we all have the ability through our words to bring light and encouragement. So, thank you to my teacher/friend who reminded me of the power of words by the way she communicated to my son that he is a great writer. Perhaps someday you really will see him on ESPN 🙂 !

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Growing Up Along with our Kids

IMG_7905After twelve consecutive years in an elementary school, the curtain is closing on this chapter of our lives. When my first two moved on to middle school it felt like such big steps, but this time around my youngest and I are more than ready. 

Watching him transform into a teen-in-the-making this year has reminded me of how he was back in half-day kindergarten– just chomping at the bit to move up with the big kids. So though my baby will bid goodbye to a place he has called home for six years and to teachers whom we adore, there will be no tears.

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Thank goodness, no tears, considering how often I’ve cried lately over my oldest who is sailing into her senior year.  Makes me wonder based on our readiness for the youngest’s next stage, if by the time he is graduating high school that will be different too. Is that even possible to be ready for empty-nester-hood?!

I can’t imagine that now. It sounds so sad to have them all grown up and out of the house, but I am guessing just like now, he will be more than ready to spread his wings. And, maybe (just maybe) seeing him ready and having watched the older two go through it, I’ll be ready too. 

We’ll see… But I have noticed typically when we are in a certain life stage looking to what’s ahead seems scary, sometimes causing us to want to cling tightly to where we are.  

Just think about prior to becoming a parent and feeling unprepared to raise a child.  Then upon having one, God instantly gave just what was needed to care for the baby only now you are already looking in fear to what’s next.  Again, God gave you the ability and wisdom and before you know it you are onto the next stage that had also seemed overwhelming in the past.

I remember dreading when we would no longer have quiet evenings at home with the kids in bed at 8pm. Just the thought of having to be out of the house every night for all the kid activities sounded exhausting. And while it can be and an unexpected night at home is nice, the thrill of watching my kids play ball and do what they love while also socializing with the parents of their  teammates is something I love. In fact, with all the rain lately forcing our games to be cancelled I have felt sad stuck in the house and not out on the ball field!

Today I would never trade our life with teenagers to go back in time. Although easier emotionally back then, the joy in seeing my people mature and the conversations we now have is amazing. Six years ago though when my oldest was headed into the middle school years it was scary. 

Something wonderful I’ve discovered along the way is God is growing us alongside our kids! He makes us ready and gives us the grace to walk in what He has put before us. He grants us wisdom, experience, the ability to endure and to persevere through it all.

Knowing this has been true gives me hope for tomorrow (or rather next year) that even with college looming it too will be a stage to fully embrace and love as much as every other. Until then – you’ll find me clinging to where we are, wishing I could stop the clock!IMG_7947

A Thousand Words Not Told In A Picture

Have you ever tried describing a spectacular sight, perhaps a place you visited or maybe just the sunset, and your words just couldn’t get across the beauty in what you saw?

Exactly why it has been said “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

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Marvao, Portugal at sunset

But in a world where we no longer go develop film and then pick through the batch of often blurry, red-eyed or off-centered shots, our now cropped, edited and filtered pictures aren’t always true to the thousands words they seem to say. 

The problem is we still think they are.

We think in viewing the social media feeds of our “friends” that life is great for them. They are smiling, skinny, fit and fashionable often surrounded by friends in fun settings. Their little ones – all dressed darling and perfectly epitomize sibling love; the older ones – look to be the most perfect teen based on their string of successes and friends.  When we get a sneak peak into these friends’ homes, we see fabulous tablescapes, decor and gourmet meals.  And, we assume these picture tell it like it is, everyday, all the time in their worlds.

The irony is we post our own versions of our best self with similar scenerios though we know the truths behind the facade. We know we only post picture that have been carefully edited to camoflouge the wrinkles, the grey hair and the extra pounds. And the cute outfit and Kendras we have on, we know isn’t our norm. In fact, many days we don’t even get around to putting make-up on.

We also know about the on-going struggles and heartaches at home, the bickering kids  and the spouse we contantly nag, but the thousand words of our beautiful family picture say otherwise. Others see it and wonder why they can’t be like us. Ha!  If the only knew what happens behind closed doors. But too often we refuse to let others in and by the stories our curated photos tell no one would ever suspect life is not a bed of roses.

  • If this is all true about us, why are we so sure everyone else is perfect?  
  • Why do continue comparing ourselves and our lives to the facade?
  • Why can’t we be okay with the mess of who we are and see that everyone else is too?!

I like the way author Kay Wyma asks the question in her new book, I’m Happy for You {Sort Of… Not Really}:

“Has comparison-living hijacked your life?”

This issue of comparison is causing us to feel less-than and robbing our joy. Sadly it’s as true for teenagers as it is for adults. But, if we adults don’t get outside of ourselves to see it for what it is, we are only going to add to the unrealistic pressure our kids already feel. From the teen survey I’ve been conducting their level of stress is already averaging at a 7-8 on a scale of 1-10. The cases of depression and the ways in which they are dealing with it are devastating.

So what do we do? Where do we start?

Answer: Our own hearts.

We must ask the Lord to help us admit our struggles and to see where we are buying into the lie. If our own hearts are discontent and distracted we won’t be able to see where and how are kids are falling prey to comparison too.  We must taste and see what the Word says is true about where “life” is found and not be deceived by the so-called perfect lives behind the pictures we see.

Very practically to undo the lies, let’s focus on the joys. As Ann Voskamp advocates, let’s instead count the One Thousand Gifts of joy and thanksgiving and blessing. We are trying to do this more in our own house by deliberately looking for the daily graces He gives and the little reminders in our days that He is near and that He is good and that in Him there is life – true “life.” 

Looking to the One who was perfect for us is where we must go to reboot our minds and be filled with what His words say about us. It is in Him we are fully loved, accepted, declared righteous and made perfect. The thousands words of the cross is the only picture we need and must see as truth!IMG_7884

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The Indelible Mark of a Mom

Earlier this week as I thought about today being my mom’s first Mothers’ Day without her mom – my grandmother.  I wanted to know how my mom was feeling, what she misses, the memories she holds close and some of the shaping influences of her mom.

For that matter, I wanted to hear from my Dad, too. His mother passed more than thirty years ago. But no matter how much time goes by, the indelible mark of our mothers (and fathers) remain.

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My dad and his mom.

My paternal grandmother liked to play games with my dad and his siblings and she took them on camping trips despite not particularly loving to do that herself. She desired for my dad to have good friends, to get a good education, to go to church, to play the piano, to eat what was on his plate and to do his chores. She worried about him when he took the car out.

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My mom with her mother and brothers.

My maternal grandmother enjoyed cooking – especially making special treats tailored to the exact preference of each person she was serving. She taught my mom to tell the truth, to be dependable and to use good manners. In her quiet yet strong demeanor, she led by example by always making the best of difficult situations, not complaining, putting others first and loving Jesus.

In reflecting on the lists my parents wrote about their mothers, what stuck out to me was their recollection of simple, daily life, kind of things.  But it was through those on-going, ordinary ways of daily nurturing that made them extraordinary moms. The same being true of my mom in the ways she still continues to love and care for us. 

For those of us though in the throws of raising children we are often exhausted (if not physically, emotionally), maybe we feel discontent or become distracted by comparing ourselves to those around us thinking we need to do or be more.  Perhaps we think something other than parenting will be more stimulating, so we give our most focused attention to other work or projects. Maybe we think in order to be the best mom we must give our kids every opportunity or thing they desire.  In other words, a keeping up with the Joneses’ mindset. Maybe we feel like we are failing as moms if we can’t pull of the perfect Pinterest projects that others are always photographing. Or perhaps we base our parenting decisions on trying to be our child’s best friend and not the parent they need.  Whatever it is we easily become fixated on the wrong things and undervalue the ordinary, unspectacular moments.

But it is in our presence, sacrifice, nurture, instruction, discipline and unconditional love, not tied to our kids’ performance or our expectations, that is the true gift of being a mom.  

This made me wonder,  “What is it my kids might one day recall to their children or grandchildren about me?”

I hope it won’t be – “she was on her laptop all the time!”  What I want them to know is my undevoted love for each of them and for their dad. And for them to recall a mom who showed them grace and pointed them to Jesus. I don’t do it perfectly by any means, but I hope over the long haul in the things I say and do and in how I invest my time they will see extraordinary significance in the ordinary daily ways of a mom.

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My mom and dad with all their grand babies.

Parenting Upstream Stinks!

Parenting is an exhaustive job, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of the ages of your kids. Though the physical demand dissipates as they grow, the emotional and mental energy only intensifies.  As our pre-teens and teens face a range of issues, we become increasingly burdened with tough decisions requiring much guidance, thought and prayer.  At least we should. But over the years what I’ve discovered in various situations is parents tend to respond by either-

  1. Abdicating their authority and allowing their teen to run with whatever plans they wish.
  2. Abstaining from speaking out against/changing plans they don’t agree with so as not to be the “party pooper” or for their teen to miss out.
  3. Aiding their kids with the plans but failing to prevent or address red flags out of naiveté.

Now I know this post runs the risk of sounding judgmental or stepping on toes, but to be honest, I am tired of feeling judged and dismissed for putting my foot down. Some may presume because my husband is a minister we are stricter, though I don’t think so.  As we’ve told our daughter countless times, “This has nothing to do with Daddy being a pastor, our decisions come from our core convictions as Believers!”

Thankfully, even when she hasn’t initially seen eye to eye with us, she has accepted our stance without too much argument. It hurts me though that she often feels alone in having restrictions and it angers me to feel as if we are swimming upstream alone in an increasingly permissive “Christian” culture.

imagesHaving ministered to college students for nearly eight years my eyes were opened wide to the effects of hidden sin and struggles in the world of teens. And still today being behind-the-scenes in ministry exposes us daily to the reality of the sinful, brokenness that is in all of us. So, while my daughter has never given us reason not to trust her, why would I hand her over to opportunities of extra temptation and lack of protection?

The truth is none of us are above doing things we never thought we would do. We can have pure intentions and absolute resolve yet still fall to temptation. The deceitfulness of our own hearts and Satan’s relentless pursuit make us easy prey. Don’t you know this to be true from your own heart and experience? Whether we love Jesus or not, we are all prone to wander and at any given moment something other than Christ becomes more desirable.

The answer, however, is not to shelter our kids from everything of the world since sin comes from within us and not outside of us. Instead, allowing our teens to learn through things like experiencing formals or navigating social media can lead to opportunities for deeper dialogue, growth and learning while under our roof… and with the loving protection of boundaries.

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Though boundaries restrict they are designed for our flourishing by providing and protecting. Author Paul Tripp in his devotional New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel DevotionalNew Morning Mercies describes boundaries well by saying, “It may seem constricting that the train always has to ride on those track, but try driving it in a meadow and all motion stops.” 

We, too, are most free when we are within the boundaries of God’s grace and provision! Anything outside of that (appealing as the freedom of doing whatever we want seems) will actually enslave us to our own desires and expose us to Satan’s snares.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Let’s prepare kids who can swim upstream by shephering them in awareness and wisdom of the lurking evil – not just in the world – but in their hearts, while simultaneously setting perimeters to help them remain pure. To do so, we must also be willing to swim upstream from popular opinion, new cultural norms and fear of man.

Having to parent upstream stinks, but by God’s grace I intend to keep going that direction. Will you join me in swimming against the tide?

The Blur Between a Well-meaning Mom and a Nag

What is it about being female that makes us nag? I’m sure there must be some men who do it, too, but they aren’t the ones the Bible compares to “a continual dripping on a rainy day” and as more difficult “to restrain than the wind.” As if that isn’t bad enough, we also read in Proverbs that men would be better off living in a desert or on the corner of the roof than sharing a house with a nag!

In the early years of our marriage I think my husband may have agreed :). Of course, I put it back on him, fully believing that if he would just pick up his clothes and put bascially everything else back in its “home” after use, I wouldn’t have to nag. The problem is: things left out not only don’t bother him, but he actually likes it so he can always see where things are.

No matter there are empty drawers and cabinet space, if he can't see it plainly it might as well not even be there!

You’ld never know he has empty drawers and cabinet space in his office! But, even with the clutter he knows exactly where everything is.

I finally realized I could either be the constant “dripping,” or for the betterment of our marriage, adapt.  So, I’ve learned to make convenient easy-to-use “homes” for his commonly left-out items or to just pick up for him when I get tired of items sprawling across the countertop.  There is no point in nagging or drawing attention to what I’ve done to “help” him because honestly it’s all God’s grace to me.

This antique copper plate is perfect for his keys, phone, wallet and other misc smalls. And, the canister? Perfect for hiding phone chargers and cords:)

This antique copper plate is perfect for his keys, phone, wallet and other misc smalls. While the canister hides phone chargers and cords:)

This cute little box from Anthro? Great for his eye glasses, pens and other need-to-be-near the couch items.

The cute little box from Anthro? Great for his eye glasses, pens and other need-to-be-near the couch items. Love pretty solutions!

But now I need that grace as a mom because somewhere along the way I redirected my nagging toward my daughter! 

Like with my husband, I didn’t think nagging is what I was doing. I thought I had well-meaning motives and was just trying to help. But in trying to help, I have been trying to control and in trying to control, it just may be this is my area of helocopter hovering.

At some point (a point rather soon considering she is almost a senior) she will have to take full responsibility for herself. I won’t be there to remind her of deadlines, to help her plan ahead, to make things easier, to manage her time, to put her clothes away or to clean her tub!

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But while she is still here under my roof and since her life is full with many demands (as it will forever more be) and I just happen to be organized and a good time-manager :), I have made it my mission to “help” her.  And so the lines have become blurred between well-meaning and nag!

After a recent honest conversation, I see how my nagging has contributed to her feeling like she doesn’t measure up not just to my expectations, but to me. And by me trying to “better” prepare her for college and beyond, it has actually led her to feel like I think she is incapable, a failure even.

Wow- how’s that for a wake-up call to the drip-drip!

The only thing I want to be dripping is grace and compassion and love. So even though I considered myself to be “loving” her by “helping” her get things done or turned in, what I have really been doing is trying to control and keep her from failing. Perhaps I can better love her by trusting God’s control over her, even if this means something doesn’t get done according to my timetable. In fact, maybe that is loving her by allowing her to learn on her own?!

So, Moms…

  • What if we asked God to show us where we are failing to love because what we love better is our own way?
  • What would happen if we held our tongue and just accepted those we love as they are?
  • Do you think the lack of control would kill us or might we actually find more peace in letting go?

If Helicopter Parents Switched Gears…

Unknown-2By now we’ve all heard about the negative effects of “helicopter parenting” though it sure hasn’t it stopped it from happening. Probably because the driving force behind it is control and one thing is for sure: giving up control and trusting God with our kids is one of the hardest things.

But for a majority of helicopter parents the control is about doing everything in their power to ensure their kids get into the best college and the brightest future of opportunities. To secure this end-all be-all of ultimate parenting success, parents relentlessly go to bat to help their kids secure straight A’s, a spot on the most competitive teams and involved in as many resume-building, extra-curricular activities and charitable organizations, even at the expense of the family. But it doesn’t stop there.

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Parents also want to control their kids’ social status because somehow, like their college acceptances and future careers, we think their popularity is a reflection on us.  So if they hang out with the right people, get invited to the right parties and make the right choices than we must be “good” parents.

Really? Is that what quantifies doing a “good” job? Certainly, if we are basing it on the world’s standards. 

But, what about in parenting the things that really matter – our kids’ hearts, character and love for others?  What if we turned our helicopter tendencies to shaping their core, who they are on the inside, instead of trying to make them stand out on the outside?

I write this post quite simply out of sadness in thinking about a few stories I’ve heard just this week. Situations that may have gone differently if parents were more involved in this aspect of kids’ lives instead of leading them to entitlement and self-focus.

Take just these three samplings to see what I mean…

  1. Teenagers being asked by the teacher to read a paragraph out loud in class refused to do so because they didn’t feel like it. The same class in which they chose not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. What does this communicate to the teacher? To the other students in class, perhaps even some who have family members serving our country?                                                                                                                  
  2. Then there is the teen who was deleted out of a group text as a supposed joke without any friend standing up to add them back in for days. Though it may seem trivial, how is being “kicked out” of a group text any different from other types of bullying? For the ones who are still in the group – not a thought, but for the one left out – devastating.                                                          
  3. And there was a student feeling down after losing an election.  Only the seeming rejection was intensified when only one person even reached out to her via text. Everyone else ignored it. Probably because they didn’t know what to say, but quite possibly because it didn’t happen to them so it was just a blip on their radar screen with no further care.

Things like this happen everyday, everywhere. At some point your kid is likely being hurt in this way and in other situations they may be the ones disprespecting, dismissing and ignoring. But largely these things pass, even the helicopter parents, right on by. 

Unfortanetly I’m afraid the lack of concern our kids have for others is because we as helicopter parents have inadvertantly taugh them to think the world revolves around them. 

Well, what if helicopter parents switched gears?

  • What if we focused as much energy as we have on the external on shepherding their hearts?
  • What if they understood manners to be a sign of respect to those they are with?
  • What if they turned off their cell phones when they were hanging out with a friend?
  • What if they were taught to extend grace instead of spreading gossip?
  • What if they worked to build others up instead of doing whatever it takes to make themselves great?

(What if we did this too?)images

How would school and community environments change? How would our kids’ self-worth and security be affected? How would relationships benefit? How better prepared for the world would they be?

Seems like they would be set up for success no matter where they go to college or what they pursue, because they would’ve learned to put others above themselves instead of only seeking things to the benefit of self.images-1

Would love to hear your thoughts on how switching gears would change our kids and maybe change you too:)

 

Grace Admist the Noise

While there has been silence in my writing from the house of hatton this week, our true House of Hatton has been anything but silent. It hasn’t been “noisy” like households with younger children, but the noise of chaotic activity and emotional frittering has kept me from processing. And for me writing helps process. That is why I continue blogging. It’s like my own therapy.

So this week while we had two “snow days” my husband has been on the sunny beaches of Cabo which meant I was the one primarily in charge of our 4 1/2 month puppy. This extra responsibility alone, mointoring where he is and what he is grabbing or chewing on, consumes way more time than this non-dog lover want to give. 

How cool is this Sea Lion that came up on my husband's fishing boat?!

How cool is this Sea Lion that came up on my husband’s fishing boat?!

This picture was taken about 20 lbs ago. At not even 5 mos. he is now about 50 lbs!

This picture was taken about 20 lbs ago. At not even 5 mos. he is now about 50 lbs!

I also got to shovel my driveway so we wouldn’t be too iced in to make an appointment on the second snow day. And, I (the one who can barely keep her eyes open until 9:30pm) had to stay awake until my daughter got home at night. Never mind that twice, I accidentally locked up the backdoor and didn’t hear her banging on it 🙂

If only my husband had a picture as evidence of me shuffling the driveway!

If only my husband had a picture as evidence of me shoveling the driveway!

But there was grace this week, too. First, because of the snow days my boys’ sports were cancelled on the night I was most stressed about how to get them both to where they needed to be. There was grace in my kids helping extra with household chores. Grace in having slowed-down time at home with them. And even more grace as I’ve been faced with and thinking about the issues my daughter has been struggling through.

If you are a parent, isn’t the hardest thing when your child hurts or is struggling and you not being able to change it?

That’s where I am. I want to control what I can’t. I want to fix what is broke. I want to make right what is wrong. I want to speed a slow process of change. And the reality is, I can’t do any of it.

But this is where the grace comes in. As hard and as hopeless as things feel sometimes, I praise God for some personal experiences enabling me to identify with my daughter and know first-hand there is hope. I also praise God, as hard and as mixed up as it sounds, for her struggles (even though they make me cry). 

He is making the broken, beautiful.

I am watching it happen before my very eyes. He is growing and transforming her to see her great need and dependence on Him and there is nothing better. This is exactly what I want for all of my children – for them to know they are weak, but He is strong. And with only 1 1/2 years to go before she goes from us, I am confident what she is learning now about herself and about who God is for her will help her abide and help me to trust Him when she is even more outside of anything I can control.

Grace, He is giving her through the trials and grace He is giving me.

Grace is what I needed most this week. Actually what we all need most all the time! But sometimes with all the noise we don’t see where God enters in. We stay focused on what we lack instead of what He gives.  In our obsession with ourselves and the here and now, we too often miss seeing how He is at work for our good and His glory – all the time.