Category Archives: Parenting

Grace For the Middle Schooler

middle school

I’ve dreaded the middle school days forever. Probably since the moment my first son was born.

Because I hated middle school. Hated every single second of it.

It didn’t help that I moved twice and went to three different middle schools on opposite sides of the country during those three years from 6-8th grades, but even if I’d stayed put in one school, it probably wouldn’t have been any different.

Middle school is rough.

It’s been that way since the invention of junior high.

So, I’ve dreaded it for my son.

But he hasn’t. He’s looked forward to it for some time—excited about the prospect of a new school where he’s a “big kid,” (albeit on the bottom of the totem pole again), where he’s proving that he’s growing up and can handle a little more responsibility.

But can he?

Hormones, attitudes, smart mouth, dropping the ball on things he knows he’s supposed to do—it’s happened, just as I suspected it would. My boy is becoming a man, and it’s awkward. It’s hard.

And we’ve reacted to each event in turn, doling out the appropriate punishments or reminders or rewards.

I walked into his bedroom the other day to find his bed unmade, clothes covering his floor…lack of responsibility glaring at me everywhere.

I felt the burn of anger and frustration starting to build in that middle spot in my chest.

“How many times have I told him?” I asked aloud to his room. I answered myself. About a zillion. A zillion times I’ve said, “make your bed,” or “put your dirty clothes in the hamper,” or “please pick up your karate gear.”

A zillion times.

I glanced up to his window which overlooks our street, and also, by blessing, his middle school. It’s close enough for him to walk each day, close enough that I can look outside and see the windows to his classrooms.

And as I beheld at those windows, grumbling to myself, the Holy Spirit whispered softly.

Grace.

Grace.

Grace.

I sighed and moved to pick up his clothes and make his bed.

Not because he deserved my help for ignoring what I’d asked him to do. Not because he’d been an angel lately or because I’m a slave to what needs to be done.

No. Because grace. Because sometimes our sons and daughters need a little less nagging and a little more grace.

Because as hard as it is on us for them to go through these awkward middle school years, it’s hard on them, too.

Because when I think back on my experience in those years, I don’t remember all the lectures and groundings and punishments for the bad choices I made. I’m sure they helped to change and mold me, but I don’t recall them vividly.

What I do recall are the moments of grace my parents showed me. Times when I’d come home to a perfectly made bed. Or folded laundry. Or a surprise small gift. Or the time when I was having a particularly rough go of it with some “friends” and my mom let me stay home from school for a day just because.

So grace.

Grace is a gift from God. We praise him for it. And so we should look for ways to gift it to our middle school children who so desperately need both grace and guidance to get through these difficult years and discover just exactly who God wants them to be.

Discipline. Guidance. Grace.

They need it and so do we.

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Share with me: What’s the best way you show grace to your middle schooler or can you remember a time your parents showed you grace during those years?

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Should My Son Choose the Military

Son military

To my precious boy—

I look at you now, playing on the floor, surrounded by trains and cars and millions and millions of Legos and tiny green soldiers, and my heart wants to burst as I watch you.

Can I freeze this moment? Can I keep you little forever?

You still think I’m one of the smartest people you’ve ever met. Your little mind is still innocent—you don’t quite grasp the horrors that mankind is known to inflict. Your world is tiny and you giggle at silly things like cartoons and mud and bugs.

You are little.

But one day you will be a man.

When that day comes, I’m certain I’ll think back to these moments—the ones we are living now, and I’ll wonder how they went by so quickly.

And if you should tell me that you want to serve our country in the military, I know for certain that my heart will move in a thousand different directions in a single second.

Will I be proud of you for your choice, my son?

Absolutely. I will be proud that you’ve chosen to continue a family tradition of military service. I will be proud that the patriotism I pray we are instilling in you now has led you to make a decision to want to protect the great freedoms this country allows for its inhabitants. I will be enormously proud that you understand that military service is something to be respected and honored, and that you want to be counted among the many who have served in honor of the tenets on which this nation was founded.

toy soliderI will be proud that you’ve chosen the practical applications of military service—funding for your education and skills that will benefit you should you choose a career in the private sector later on or a career in the military–skills like leadership and self-discipline.

I will be proud that you are educated enough to understand the state of the world. Although I can only imagine what the world will be like by the time your tiny feet are able to fill man-sized combat boots, I pray that between now and then you will live outside of the American Bubble and develop an understanding of world affairs—enough to know that serving the USA often means helping and serving those across the world.

Will my heart burn with fear?

Most certainly. While you may never understand the reasons, I’ve prayed over you since before you were you were born. I’ve prayed for your future, and although I do not know what it holds, I know that my God does. And so I will struggle with the fear of knowing that you might be in danger because of the path you’ve chosen, and I will have to cling to the belief that my God knows you and loves you even more than I do. He will protect you, he will sustain you, and should I ever have to face a dreadful day when you might not be with me anymore, although I can’t imagine it, He will sustain me, too.

I will love you, my son, for your courageous choice. I will love you, respect you, and appreciate you for your willingness to put your life on the line for our country.

I will love you because you’ve chosen the military, even if for a short time, as your mission field. For I pray, my son, that your life will be a reflection of Christ, and your willingness to serve will come from the Ultimate Sacrifice given by Christ our Savior.

And so I pray now, while you are little, for your future. You must know that I will be proud of any future choice you make for your life, so I pray that you will seek the direction of God and that you will remember that you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength. 

To my precious boy who will one day be a man—no matter what your future holds, know that should you tell me you’ve chosen military service, you’ll have the respect, honor and love of not just your mama, but many grateful hearts around the world.

 

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The Mommy Wars: Who’s Really Winning

Holding Hands

Stay-at-home moms v. Working moms. It’s an ugly battle. It rages in the media, across Facebook pages and in articles written by women who accuse each other of being less-than-women because of their personal choices. It’s a battle filled with venom-laced words, accusatory tones and emotional tirades.

I’ve been the victim before. I’m sure you have, too.

Moms. Stop it.

Stop it right now.

This “Mommy War” business has to end. Mostly because no one is winning and no one ever will. Satan is winning.

For too long now we’ve pitted our sides against each other, ignoring the sisterhood of mothering that binds us, strutting around with our “to do” lists hanging out of our over-sized bags, judging each other based on who can accomplish the most tasks.

Well accomplishing tasks has nothing to do with mothering.

Nothing at all.

Working moms can be terrible mothers. Stay-at-home moms can be terrible mothers.

Working moms can be amazing mothers. Stay-at-home moms can be amazing mothers.

So why are we intent on abusing each other verbally and emotionally because of what we DO?

Why not instead lift each other up because of who we ARE?

Because we are too busy listening to The Deceiver who tells us that in order to be fulfilled we must find happiness.

So he robs us of the joy that we have in our family, our situations, our lives in the moment. Instead this Deceiver forces us to acknowledge what we don’t have instead of what we do. He tells us that the focus of our lives is perfection that can be attained—we can have it all and that getting it will bring us happiness. He tells us that our lives are not for living, instead they are for achieving. We must do more, accomplish more, make more.

But what if we could just be more?  Woman Walking

What if, no matter our “profession,” our time, talents, and energies went into glorifying God in every moment of every day?

What if we stopped looking at the “to do” list of another woman, judging her based on her accomplishments, and focused on ourselves and how we could be more for God?

Who would benefit? Those around us. Our husbands. Our children. Our families. Our co-workers.

Too many times we burn our candle at both ends because we’re too busy trying to please everyone but the One who matters.

What if our candle was lit at both ends to shine a brilliant light for the Only One who has ever lived Perfection?
What if, instead of judging each other because we have a career or stay at home, we held each other accountable for our glorification of God?

The Deceiver would have us believe that we can have it all. That desire is the under-running current of the Mommy Wars.  It’s draining.

What we need, moms, is to be filled. Filled with joy. Filled with love, compassion, and sisterhood. Filled with success and encouragement, filled with desire and motivation.

Want to be fulfilled as a mom? Turn to the Only One who can fill you.

Then share that joy with another woman. Lace your words with encouragement and delight. Motivate another mom today with the happiness that comes from joy in the Lord.

Share with me: What is the most encouraging piece of advice another mom or woman has given you?

 

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