Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Tiah Lewis. Devotional Diva Moms, do you ever relate to that feeling of not getting enough done in a day? I certainly do! Be encouraged today.
“It’s Bigger Than Your Accomplishments”-Balancing Motherhood
Many of times I would find myself asking, what have I accomplished today? Sound familiar? Have you ever felt that way? Often we are moving so fast in our lives with daily schedules, kid drop offs, meetings, kids sports, the list goes on, only to feel at the end of the day that we have not accomplished anything and are still holding the same list of To Do Items we started with at the beginning of the week!
For me, this was a frustrating and daunting feeling, until I experienced a shift in my mindset. I want to share how my perspective changed on how I now define accomplishments in my day to day life.
I too myself had an exhausting list of to do’s when I would start my week. It included my normal school/daycare drop offs, laundry, cleaning house, preparing meals, running errands, practice drop offs, doctor visits, you name it. Many days felt like a blur and included the same mundane activities day in day out. Then I began asking myself to define accomplishments. Well of course the standard definition is: something that has been achieved successfully and that’s when it hit me! I was accomplishing great things every day! I was spending quality time with my daughters, making memories, and listening to their gibberish unclear chatter, realizing I was there in the moment watching their vocabulary increase by the minute. I accomplished talking with my oldest daughter about how she felt about going into middle school, and any fears or worries she may have, and we know how it can be difficult to pull information out of a middle schooler. I was there to pray with her, ease her worries and anxieties and to provide comfort. And I managed to sneak in lunch dates with my husband when forcing him to break away from his work computer so that we could just catch up and chat about our ever-changing lives, just he and I. Now ask yourself whose measure of accomplishments are we attempting to live up to? Could it be the false expectations of others of a mother, especially one blessed to stay at home with her children? Yes the expectations are false! One’s work day isn’t an 8-hour shift and all our tasks will not get completed during this time.We work countless “overtime” hours late into the evenings and even early morning hours. Now go ahead, give yourself credit, I’ll wait! You are accomplishing many great things every day. I am very thankful that in these moments I was able to stop and smell the roses. I realized that I was living in my accomplishments right where I was supposed to be without worry about the day or weeks to come. Here are some encouraging words about worrying.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34) NIV.”
Be blessed and go out and accomplish great things today!
Tiah Lewis is a stay at home mom and author. She enjoys being a wife and mom to her four beautiful girls. The recommitment of her life to Jesus Christ began four years ago and she hasn’t stopped being in awe by the power of the living word and her desire to share it with the world. Follow Tiah: @Tiahlewisauthor
Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Monica Braun. Love this mom life devotional! Thanks, Monica!
Life is chaos.
I am a working mother to a 15-month-old, my son named Danny. I am pregnant, and expecting in July. Let’s just say that our lives are a little, um, messy.
The kitchen is usually disheveled. Dishes and sippy cups are consistently piled in the sink. The dishwasher is full on most days from making dinner and cleaning it up and doing it all over again the next evening.
The leftovers from my grandma’s pasta recipe that I made are dripping all over the oven and the delicious red sauce is oozing all over little Danny’s face.
There are permanent crumbs on the floor, which resemble dried pasta. They seem to be painted on the carpet under the highchair where Danny eats.
When he is not in his high chair, he is crawling on the floor trying to eat his leftover dinner.
He must have really liked that pasta.
As such, sweeping and vacuuming have been added to the never-ending to-do list.
And the pacifier. As soon as I give it to him to appease him, he swiftly throws it on the floor, forcing me to make several trips to the sink every day to sanitize it. It seems as though what is ‘pacifying’ him is making a game out of his ‘pacifier.’
I remind myself that he is not trying to make me run laps around my house on purpose.
Not to mention the new baby gear scattered all around the house
as we prepare and welcome home another little bundle of joy. The new baby bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump parts are scattered on the counter, waiting to be washed and used for baby number two.
And then there is the laundry that needs to be washed. All. The. Time.
The list of chores makes me want to throw in my dishtowel, crawl upstairs in bed, and forget the chaos that ensues around me.
I feel helpless, overwhelmed, frustrated.
And that friend who texted me last week? I forgot to call her back because I was so busy.
How I miss the long conversations over wine that we used to have.
It seems like no matter how much we clean the house or try to check off our never-ending to-do lists, we just cannot catch up. Ever.
Is this a cruel cycle of events? Like a video game determined for us to fail at the end?
And are we supposed to win this game?
Life is messy. Relationships are messy. We are inherently flawed.
Before I throw in my dishtowel, I consider that we are not supposed to do it all or have it all together. If that were the case, would we need God?
Jesus said, “Come to me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.
Jesus is our refuge and our rock. He wants to take all of the burdens from us, big and small. So, instead of trying to control our messy lives, we should try to surrender it to Him.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should sit lazily on the couch as the leftover pasta dinner dries on the floor, but it does take the pressure off of having to be perfect.
Jesus doesn’t want us to be perfect. He doesn’t want our lives to be wrapped up in a tidy little box with a bow on top. He wants us to embrace the chaos of life: the joys, the sorrows, the unpredictable turn of events. He wants us to be present in these moments as we trust in Him. Because this is life, and life is messy. Along with our house.
As we embrace the chaos, joy abounds.
So when I have an urge to clean sporadically or feel guilty about an unanswered text from a friend, I try to shrug it off, embrace the chaos, and hold on during this wild ride called life.
No matter where the ride leads us next, Jesus will be there to help us land safely. We cannot lose the game with Him by our side. Victory has already been won for us.
Monica Braun has a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s in education from Aquinas College. She teaches High School English in Racine, Wisconsin, and is an aspiring writer. She has one son and is expecting another! She is a follower of Jesus Christ. (picture is attached below).Facebook: @embracingjesus Twitter: @monicambraun
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Sarah Dethier. Wooh, as a mama, I totally relate to this mom life devotional today! I hope it encourages you as well.]
Cheers to Whoever Declared: ‘The Days are Long but the Years are Short’
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
I’m sitting at the dining room table, basking in a few precious moments of silence before the “storm” ensues. In the middle of my blissful solitude, I hear it: footsteps that sound as though they belong to someone much larger than a 34-pound four-year-old.
Subsequently, I hear those footsteps inch closer and closer to the stairwell and look up to see my sleepy-eyed eldest descend the stairs, in anticipation of what the day will bring. As soon as his eyes meet mine, he picks up speed and runs to me, grin a mile wide, and sinks into my lap. Any thoughts I had of my morning being “interrupted” melt away and are replaced with the realization that I am blissfully and undeservedly blessed. “Morning, baby,” I say. “Let’s go make your breakfast.”
As he sits and eats his breakfast, I return to my now lukewarm cup of coffee and sit for what I know will be just a few, short moments of quasi-solitude. Sure enough, within seconds of my eldest’s descent of the stairs, his younger brother starts to announce his readiness to face the day, in the form of made-up songs that only a two-year-old could concoct: “The duck on the farm goes quack, quack, quack, all through the bus…”.
I giggle to myself and think, I like your version better, kiddo.
I know, in that moment, that the day will include the craziness that defines toddlerhood, peppered with moments of sweet and downright hilarious antics. They will drive me crazy, only to punctuate that craziness with such sweet notions as, “You’re such a pretty princess, mama.” Boys! There will be bumps and bruises, despite warnings from mama against “climbing on the table”, as well as tears and whines when mama says “no” to “just one more pack of (sugar-laden) gummies”. But…there will also be love and laughter and moments of wondering what I could have possibly done to deserve these two incredible boys. The answer, of course, is nothing. The Lord chose me to be their mama and has offered them to my husband and I as undeserved gifts. They belong to Him first.
However crazy, I know my days as a SAHM (i.e., Stay-at-Home Mom) are to be treasured, for they will quickly morph into farewells at the front door as our boys venture off to “parts unknown”, for conquests that no longer include Mom and Dad.
My prayer, first and foremost, is that my husband and I will have done all we could to impart the truth of the Gospel to them in a way that will prepare them to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and to “love others as Christ loves us” (John 15:21).
While I do not believe that motherhood should be lived within these moments of imagining our babies as grown and gone, they are, nonetheless, thoughts I occasionally allow myself to have. Why? Because they serve as sobering reminders of the sanctity of motherhood. It is such a gift, and I am humbled to know that I do in fact require fairly regular reminders of the truth of that statement. Like nothing else, motherhood will bring you to your knees in surrender to the only One who can pull you up from under the weight of it all.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with this “mom gig”, take another sip of that lukewarm coffee, followed by another deep breath, and know that you’re not alone.Seek like-minded mamas with a knack for “keepin’ it real” and for encouraging and praying for you throughout this journey. I promise that those women will become some of the best friends for whom you could ever ask or imagine. Happy “momming” to you. Be blessed!
My name is Sarah Dethier. I have been married to my wonderful husband for eight years, and together we have two precious little boys, ages two and four. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and then with a Master of Arts in Behavior Analysis from the University of South Florida in 2008. I am a Behavior Analyst by trade, working mainly with children with disabilities and their families. Though I enjoy what I do and absolutely love my clients, I have always had a passion for writing and all things literary. I enjoy researching and learning more in the areas of nutrition and fitness, as well as in the areas of parenting and child development. No matter my career status or pastime pursuits, however, my position as “wife” and “mother” take priority over all else.
[This is a guest story by contributor Ann Grace. Ann’s post last month was “Longing for Loneliness” and this post gives more insight into Ann’s spiritual journey after the death of her first husband.]
This week has been filled with tears, laughter and exhaustion. It’s been 4 years to the month that my late husband, Shane, and I took our children to Colorado on a ski trip. For years I wanted to go again, but the fears of traveling alone after my husband died, kept me from ever embarking on this adventure.
Traveling with 5 children is A LOT.
Not to mention going back to the same place that we went with Shane. Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Sigh. To think of the emotional journey alone was just overwhelming!
But we finally did it! After 3 days on the road, the kids and I arrived in Colorado safe and tired. Well, take that back… I’m was tired. Kids seem to have regained a massive amount of energy and were ready to play in the snow! Haha.
At first, I just figured that the kids could go outside and play with each other as I rested on the couch. But then, reality hit me. I realized that they don’t have their father to play with them anymore.
They needed me. Tired and worn out Mom.
So with a quiet prayer asking for some strength from the Lord, I picked myself up and we headed to the snow covered hills to sled and have a great snowball fight! It was SO much FUN!!! It’s been years since I’ve just been able to act like a “kid” with my kids. For years, it was Shane who was the “fun” one while I took the “Martha role” of our family.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ ” Luke 10:38-40 ESV
Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe that my role as a wife and mother was to be that “Proverbs 31 wife/mom” for my family but NOT in the way I believed of having to be “PERFECT“.
I forgot the high calling of just being “MOM” and enjoying my babies.
Did that mean sometimes sacrificing the dishes being washed or the house NOT being spotless?
YEP! But in my quest for perfection, I just couldn’t let “playtime” with the kids interfere with my plans. And now…
Everything in my old world has faded away.
I was talking to a friend today over the phone and as he was telling me about church today. Our conversation led to my desire to be “perfect”. Then, in pure love, he reminded me of Christ’s love and how I needed to let the Lord take complete control of my life. I needed to accept His grace in my imperfections and believe that I am NOT a failure because the kids have mismatching socks! I needed to enjoy life to the fullest! I spend so much time trying to be a “perfect” mom, that I miss out on playing with my kids.
The idea of being a “perfect wife/mother” has now vanished.
The Lord just wants the imperfect me! He wants me to be “a Mary” and just sit at HIS feet and bask in HIS grace. The desire to control my world was just keeping me in bondage. I want to rest in Jesus’ arms as tears flood my eyes every-time I feel my life is out of control.
This vacation was our new journey of healing and restoration. It’s exactly where the Lord wanted our family to be.
Broken and Imperfect.
“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’ ” Luke 10:41-42 ESV
Lord, As perfection drifts away, may I find Your love and grace in my life until the day You take me home and make me PERFECT.
Ann Grace married her first husband, a Marine and Firefighter in 2002 and they were blessed with five beautiful children. She was widowed in 2015 and re-married in 2017. She had a stillbirth in 2017 and now seeks to share her passion of how Christ rescued her with other grieving women and children.
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Dana Hemminger. It’s for all those frazzled moms out there!]
Changing the Atmosphere
While busily loading my two youngest children into the van one morning, my three-year-old daughter began the all-too-familiar power play.
“Joelle, please get in your car seat,” I repeated multiple times.
Meanwhile, she was successfully distracting herself with every little thing she could find, ignoring my request as I buckled her little brother into his seat. I moved to her side of the van, repeating my request.
“Joelle, Mommy asked you to get into your car seat. You need to obey.”At this point, she resorted to plain old defiance.
Scowling at me, she planted herself in front of her car seat and refused to move.
Here we go again! The next few minutes that followed included a warning, a spanking, cries of protest, and finally a frazzled mommy physically placing my strong-willed child in her seat and strapping her in. We were already running a few minutes late, and my nerves were completely raw.
As we pulled out of the driveway and headed down the road, her screaming continued as my frustration was steadily rising.
“Joelle, that’s enough!” I blurted out as her cries only escalated.
The tension in the van upset my one-year-old, and soon his cries filled the air as well, causing my daughter to holler at him to stop. I raised my voice once again but quickly realized that I was only adding fuel to the fire by allowing my emotions to control my response instead of the Holy Spirit within me. At this point I felt Him gently prompting me to pray aloud for my daughter. At first she angrily protested,
“No, Mommy! Don’t pray!” Knowing full well that our battle is not against flesh and blood, I persisted.
“Jesus, I thank You that You love Joelle so much. She is so special to You. I thank You, Holy Spirit that You work in her heart. Please help her to obey Mommy and Daddy; it makes You so happy when she obeys. Please make Yourself real to her. Thank you for my beautiful little girl. She is such a gift to Daddy and me, and we love her so much. Thank you that You have such good plans for her.”
Within a few moments the atmosphere in our van had completely changed. I was calm, and so were my children. With a quiver in her voice Joelle then asked to pray, and I knew the Holy Spirit was moving in her little heart. I led her in prayer to ask Jesus to forgive her for not obeying, asking Him to help her, and thanking Him for His love. Soon Joelle’s normally cheerful demeanor returned, and we continued happily on our way.
My heart overflowed with gratitude as I was reminded of the simple power of prayer and the promise of Jesus,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” (Matthew 19:14, NIV). Once more my faith was bolstered knowing that I can trust the Great Shepherd to draw the hearts of my little lambs to Himself. Once more I was reminded that I do not have to mother my children in my own strength for His Word promises me, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young,” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).
His Presence changes the atmosphere every time!
Dana Hemminger lives in Northeast Oklahoma with her husband Shawn and their three little treasures, Benjamin, Joelle, and Josiah. They serve on the leadership team for The International House of Prayer-Bartlesville, a ministry they helped to plant. Dana has authored two books, Reflections from Holland: A New Mother’s Journey with Down Syndrome, and A Covenant Kiss, both available on Amazon. She blogs at www.reflectionsfromholland.blogspot.com.
This is the last installment of “Tips for Traveling with Kids.” I hope you enjoyed this lifestyle/travel series! I just really wanted to do a travel series this summer with some of my tips for traveling with kids.
If you didn’t know, my husband is in the US Navy and we have traveled a lot to move, we have traveled a lot to visit family, and we have traveled a lot because we live in Europe and we want to take advantage of it! We’ve traveled to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Seven countries not counting international travel back to the states 🙂
Tips for Traveling with Kids Part 3 — Having Fun
Look up walking tours of the city you’re visiting: If you’ve got children that they will either A. sit in their stroller or B. want to walk around with you and burn off their energy, this might be a good option for you. We do both with Little O depending on his mood. I think this could work for a variety of ages depending on the type of child. O needs to get out and walk sometimes. We LOVE doing the walking tours, because we can see so much of a city!
Take time to relax at your hotel/house if needed: Don’t be afraid of “wasting” time if your kids need a break. Or you need a break! Man, sometimes I am just so tired. Sometimes O is just a little overwhelmed! So we take some time off traveling and go “home.” Just relax. Rest.
Get take out: On the note of rest, if you are done, wiped for the day, or just don’t want to deal with kids in a restaurant, get take out! Or, what about room service? That could be fun. We’ve done that before when it was surprisingly reasonably-priced. If you are traveling in a car, you could bring food along, but we’ve never done that in Europe.
Pack light: I’ll say again, like in part 1, pack as light as you can! If you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures, you might want to bring a big camera, but I still don’t. I just bring my iPhone and keep it a pocket. When you’re chasing kids, it’s just a lot easier.
Let them do their thing: We try to go with the flow with O. When we find a park, we let him go to it (unless we are really trying to get somewhere). We let him play as we walk to our next destination. We just try to make everything relaxing for him.
I know many of us are traveling right now, and one question I get asked a lot is “How do you travel with a 2 year old?!” I thought I’d put together a travel series this summer with some of my tips for traveling with kids.
There is one affiliate link in this article — Devotional Diva’s affiliate policy is at the bottom of every page of Devotional Diva in hot pink font. Thank you for your support of Devotional Diva!
My husband is in the US Navy and so we have traveled a lot to move, we have traveled a lot to visit family, and we have traveled a lot because we live in Europe and we want to take advantage of it! I probably cannot count the number of flights my 2 year old has been on because so many of them are short little ones between countries! I can tell you how many countries he has been to – Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. 7!
He hasn’t been to as many US states unless you count the cross-country road trip we took when I was pregnant!
But, he is well-travelled and my husband and I are well-seasoned travellin’ parents. We’ve gone back to the states twice now to visit and let me tell you, preparation is needed to get a toddler through a 10-hour flight.
But you will get through it!
Tips for Traveling with Kids Part 1 – Getting There
Bassinet: If your child is small enough (under 22 lbs or 10 kg) and you have a long flight, try to book a bassinet! These are only available on certain airlines and certain planes (big ones for the long haul flights), but it was awesome for our first trip back to the states with little O. You need to call to book these, and there are only a few per plane. Beware that if there is a lot of turbulence or your pilot is extra careful about putting on the “fasten seatbelt” light, the flight attendants will make you take your child out.
Travel with a backpack carry on: A lot of flights I travel alone. I did the last international flight alone and my only carry-on was a big backpack. I baby-wore little O in my Lillebaby* (affiliate link, thank you for your support!) carrier in the airport and wore my backpack. I do this most flights to be hands-free.
Instead of a car seat, try Kids Fly Safe Harness: In the same vein of traveling light, I bought this Kids Fly Safe harness (not sponsored or an affiliate link, seriously just wanted to travel light and I wanted to provide the link) for little O on the most recent international flight in March. He was not sure about it. He sat in it kind of sometimes? And then wriggled out of it other times. He fell asleep in it once but was woken up by the captain. Then couldn’t fall asleep in it again. It wasn’t his normal car seat seatbelts, it was a strange place, he wasn’t happy. I may have to try it again when we go back to Europe though. I know many people have had success with it, but O wasn’t
entirely sure. But it helps you travel light, and for take off and landing it’s very safe.
Bring little packets of powdered Toddler Drink to help them sleep: Some kids like to have milk to go to sleep, but on long haul flights, how will you have milk for them? (I couldn’t find a reliable link for these, sorry.) Flight attendants aren’t always able or willing to give it. I discovered small packets of Toddler drink for our first long haul flight last year, and it seemed to relax O and help him sleep. It was kind of a treat. If you have a child that still needs that, or even if they don’t, Toddler drink might be a good option. If you need real formula, I know they sell little packets of formula too, just not everywhere. This is good, too, because if you’re on a plane, when it takes off and lands it helps with their ears popping.
In a car or plane — a variety of small toys: Try to look through their toys and bring a variety of different ones, that do different things. Bring a stuffed friend, bring something that their little hands need to work on, bring something that lights up, bring something to chew on (if teething).
For road trips — Get out of the car for a little while: We do drive with O a lot, actually. He does pretty well. We set him up with a movie usually and have toys back there for him. We try to drive for a while and then get out of the car at a gas station for a bit for some food. European gas stations usually have pretty good restaurants in them! A break seems to reinvigorate O if he is getting restless.
Bring as many snacks as you can regardless of your travel method. Always have them. One little pretzel stick may just do the trick!
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Paige Magee. Welcome back, Paige! Now that my son is two, I am learning more and more from him! Paige is spot-on in her post today about life lessons from children.]
“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”
– Paulo Coelho
Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love children. I always have. I cannot wait for when I become a mother. Well of course I can wait, seeing I’m single and
should probably start my collection of cats, but you get the point. From the day I turned 15 years old and received my work permit, I have always worked with children – swim lesson instructor, early childhood education teacher’s assistant, ice skating instructor, nanny and babysitter. Even to this day, I still occasionally babysit for a family who I absolutely adore and feel privileged to have the opportunity to watch the children grow and develop their individual personalities.
Through the 10 years I have worked with children, I have come to know that children have the best hearts and are wiser than we realize. Children are inspiring when it comes to their confidence, courage and ability to enjoy life far more intensely than adults. So is it possible that their innocence and enthusiasm for life gives them a perspective that we world-weary adults may have lost? I say absolutely yes!
Below are the three most important lessons I’ve learned from these beautiful little souls:
1. Enjoy Yourself & Enjoy Life
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)
As adults, one of the most harmful attachments we can make is our attachment to the past and future. From time to time, I find myself dwelling in negative thoughts and emotions, while exciting things are happening around me and passing me by. Children embrace life and all it has to offer with open arms. They have the beautiful ability to find joy all around them. Children enjoy being themselves and live enjoying the present moment because they don’t have much past experience nor a concept of the future.
Their happiness is contagious. They know how to enjoy life…period. No ifs, ands or buts about it. They laugh often, are silly and don’t worry what others might think or say about them. Children remind me to sprinkle my daily routine with enthusiasm, and not take the joys of everyday life for granted. As Robert Brault explains: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
2. Wear Your Scars Proudly
“ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
I remember in elementary school, my best friend broke her arm. She came to school sporting a baby blue cast and practically everyone and their mother signed it. She became almost like a superstar in our classroom – the survivor. You see, when children fall down and hurt themselves, everyone wants to see the scar. Children wear it proudly. As adults, we cover our scars, and our wounds become our secrets. We tell no one where it hurts. We do this because we don’t want to be seen as weak or pitied. What we can learn from children is that our scars aren’t signs of weakness. Rather, they are signs of courage, strength and perseverance. They are our stories to be told.
3. Be Honest & Call It Like It Is
“ For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Corinthians 8:21)
I think everyone has experienced a time when a child expressed themselves with no regard, no filter. It can sometimes take us by surprise. Children can be brutally honest. They don’t understand the concept of sugar coating or lying for the sake of self-benefit. If they see something, they say something or ask about it. When children are arguing, they tell it like it is and scream it out before becoming best friends again.
We as adults can learn from this. We don’t always have to pretend were fine with the decisions and actions of those around us. I know it is cliché, but honest is key. Sometimes we just need to talk it out and maybe even scream it out. While I am all for being careful when it comes to other people’s feelings, children have taught me that a painful truth is more desirable than a comfortable lie.
So next time you’re frustrated or a child is challenging you, take the time to teach them because they have so much to teach you.
You want to know the truth about the world? Ask a child.
I’m a 24 year old from the Chicago suburbs. First things first, I’m on fire for Jesus and am constantly in awe of the grace that has been bestowed in my life. I’m still figuring things out and learning how to navigate this beautiful life God has given me.
Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. Awed by their perfection. Humbled by the powerful emotions they bring out in me. Honored to be given the chance to be part of their life, to be in a position to influence and teach and guide.
But at the same time, I’m weary. It’s hard to be a parent, to make decisions that aren’t easy and won’t make me popular. It’s difficult to enforce the rules, day after day, to monitor behavior and ask them to pick things up and remind them to do homework and to not take it personally every time they resist. To not be hurt by disrespect and disagreement and rebellion, whether large or small.
It’s exhausting, constantly fighting to get my kids to see reason. It’s challenging to know that I can’t make all their choices for them. I can’t protect them from bad decisions, I can’t ensure they never face harsh consequences, and I can’t do everything for them.
And really, I don’t want to. I offered them to You when they were born, and I trust You to lead them and take care of them. I want them to learn from their experiences and I believe they are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to succeed (in all the different kinds of ways we measure success). I don’t want to overstep my bounds. As my friend Lisa told me once, our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job. To teach our kids what they need to know to live. To love. To respect and honor and obey and be productive.
And to lean on You. Because if there is one thing I do know, it is that life is hard. Even when it looks like we have it all together. The only way to get through is to turn towards You, to allow You to teach us individually, personally, in whatever ways we each learn best.
So, Lord, help me lean on You today. Let my kids see that even though I’m not perfect, my mistakes are made out of a desire to protect them, which stems from the amazing depths of the love a parent feels for a child. Let them see that, no matter what they face, it’s better to go through it with You than without You. You can lift the burdens which are too heavy, and enrich the good moments beyond measure. You will shine light into the darkness that they will inevitably face. You will reveal that which is a mystery in the right time. You will endure that which seems too hard to bear. And You will emerge victorious, with them by Your side.
While I wait, while I watch them develop into the people You knew they would become, let me be gracious. Let me cheer them on and not drag them down. Let me hold my tongue when they need to listen instead for You. Let me be a safe place for them to return, an unending source of love to come home to. Restore my weary soul, physically and emotionally. Remind me that You are in control so I don’t have to be. Show me how to relinquish my grasp on their lives and live in faith, how to turn my worrying into prayer.
As You help them grow, do the same for me. Because if anyone understands the turmoil of a parent’s love for a child, it is You. If anyone knows what it means to watch our kids go through hard things and not step in, it is You. If anyone understands the unending, deep and passionate and desperate love we feel, it is You.
The enormity of that takes my breath away, and I know once again the complete truth: We could not be in better hands. Thank You, Jesus. I love You.
Kelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray (August 2016). She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends. Download free monthly prayer prompt calendars at prayingupsidedown.com.
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