Raising a Teenager in a Culture of Self-Help and Life Hacks

By the time our teenagers are 16 to 17 years old, they should have a dependence on God in regard to their choices and their future. I believe our job as parents is to point them to Christ from day one. However, the teenage years may be difficult because some of their choices make us scream from the top of our lungs, “Stupid!” 

But it’s when they come to our rooms at night asking questions or seeking advice that we most need to remember our jobs. Because, yes, we want them to come to us, but 'Did they go to God first?' should be the first thing that comes out of our mouths.

This is a generation that is dependent on self-help books. They tell us what to do, how to do it, and how doing those things will make us feel better and get what we want.

And now it’s life hacks.  Hacks that make us get to the end result sooner rather than through a longer process.

What if instead we taught this generation, who are currently teenagers and under our watch, that if they trust God with the end result, no matter how long it takes to get there, the finish line will be so much greater and well worth it?  And, guess what Mom and Dad, their faith will grow because of the journey.  Isn't that kinda what we want anyway?

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (Rom 4:20-21, NIV)

Generation X Parents Aren't Latchkey Kids Anymore

So many of us Generation Xers are raising Generation Z kids.  Our oldest is heading off to college next year. Yeah, time does fly and it's crazy how much there is to do their Senior year - and expensive it all is!

Why is it that, as parents, it seems that we have this clock attached to us, especially around this season of life when our kids are getting ready to head off to college?

The questions begin to flood our minds:

Did we raise them right?

Do they know the difference between right and wrong?

Can they make their bed, wash their clothes, or clean a toilet?

These are just some questions I know a few of you ask yourself.

If you were born between 1966 and 1976, you are part of the Generation X generation, in which our parents were less focused on us and more focused on being an adult. Heck, I can remember being dropped off at Grandma’s house as my parents went to Las Vegas every other weekend.

Latchkey Kids

We were “latchkey” kids. Kids whose parents worked and didn’t come home until 5 or 6 at night, meaning we were left at home alone for 3 to 4 hours a day. God-forbid we sat and watched MTV during those hours.

We were known (and still are today) as the hardest working generation since World War II.  And now, we wonder why our own high school kids don’t have jobs because we tell them every day how “I got at job as soon as I turned 16.”

Divorce

Generation X has the highest divorce rate. There are tons of reasons as to why, but growing up in the 70’s only 9 states allowed joint custody.  Seems like our parents knew how to work things out, but we have forgotten how to do that and instead tell ourselves “for the sake of the children.”

So, now, I get to the reason these questions are drawing my attention. The previous Generation Y is being told they are lazy and have no work ethic.  Generation X started the “self-employment” movement therefore, maybe, became narcissistic along the way.  Generation X took God out of schools and Generation Y may put it back, but are not quite sure if they want to do the work it would take to do it.  Generation X wants the Heisman Trophy and Generation Y wants to give a trophy to everyone. But, Generation Y is the most tech-savvy and marketed to.  They know a sales pitch and have heard every reason as why they should “buy now.”  They are looking for a mission, validity, and a purpose for why they are here on this earth.

But, us Generation Xers are raising a group of kids that are part of a new Generation -  Z’s or iGen.  There is something amazing about that. Z to me is final, finished.  I mean, it’s the last letter of the alphabet. There is just something that says “we have crossed the finish line”.

Make a Difference

Parents, now is the time to instill some incredible things into our children. It’s not too late. Compassion, love, hope, a good work ethic, or that nothing comes freely unless you work for it. Teach them how to forgive, how to offer grace, and how to see the light at the end of the tunnel and what it really means.  Teach them disappointment. Teach them how to encourage one another, how to not just love Christ, but to have a relationship with Him.  Teach them to never have regrets but only to learn from them.  Teach them to trust Him more and themselves less.  Teach them to find the good in others. Teach them how to put money away for that rainy day.  Teach your sons how to change the oil in their cars and your daughters to change a tire.  Teach her to laugh more with them instead of at them.  Teach him how to open doors and respect his parents.

Let’s take what we’ve learned and use it.  Remember those times when our parents weren’t around as much. Let’s be around for our kids.

For some, you are on your second or third marriage.  Let’s take today as the first day until forever to give our kids the example they need for a lasting marriage of their own.

Raising kids is one the toughest but one of the most rewarding things you will face in life.  Questions of 'did we do everything we could while they were under our roof?' will always arise, I am convinced. And you know what, that is ok.

It's time to be present, to be purposeful, to be loving as we get ready to cross our finish lines.

What would happen...

I’m a planner. I like to know what we are doing, when we are doing it, and how we are going to do it. I want to know what the next 5 years, 10 years, or the next 40 years of my life will look like.

I’m built that way and you know what, that’s ok.

I’m learning that I may not know what is ahead. That we can have it all planned out, but if we don’t allow space for things to move or for God to come in and make changes to our plans, then we never can be at peace with ourselves.  We will always be chasing, always be wondering if we did this or that right.

What would happen if we just begin to tell ourselves - that’s the way it was suppose to happen.

BY FAITH...IT'S HERE!!!

byfaithpost

Aaahhh!! Yep, that’s a scream. I’m nervous. I’m scared. But, most of all I’m excited. Praise hands emoji.

So, what Is It?

Friends...it’s my first book, By Faith, and it releases on April 4th...but pre-sales start TODAY!

By Faith is my first book about the exchange of a known journey to one that says, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I trust you, God”. In our own way each of us is on an unknown journey. A journey where only God gives us turn by turn directions on His time.

But, let’s get honest, how many of us struggle with obedience or following directions?  Uh, hands lifted emoji inserted here. Don’t you ever wish sometimes you could get a LIFE road map showing you where to go and a GPS telling you how long before you get there? This girl, too!

Then By Faith was created for you!

By Faith looks at the journey of Abraham and how we, too, can live a life of obedience that requires loving our enemies (yeah, that), sharing the gospel, forgiving those who hurt us (oh, we are so going there), and battling that ugly word, sin.

My goal with By Faith is to have you follow wherever God leads you. Believe whatever God promises you. Trust wherever God tests you and share however God blesses you.  If I don’t do that, then I fail, that’s how much I believe in this book!

Ready to pre-order?

We have it ALL on one fantastic page! What do you mean, Michelle, ALL?

Well, we are a going out of the box and offering five different levels of pre-order goodies (like, I’m talking stuff that goes above and beyond fun!).

It’s explained better on the one page we created for you at:

byfaithbook.com

Three and ten are my favorite, but whoa!, one hundred, come on somebody!

Can I tell my friends?

I would be honored.

You can use this graphic if you want to help us spread the word.  Link it to byfaithbook.com and use the hashtag #byfaithbook when you share on social media.

by faith instagram
by faith instagram

My heart

Y’all, I sure would love your prayers. Pray that it gets into the hands that God has it written for.  Pray for lives to be impacted through these words and that every person would follow, believe, and trust Him in the journey.

blow kiss emoji.

by faith book
by faith book

I Need You! Launch Friends (Only 10 Spots Left!)

launchteam
launchteam

It's almost here! ONE MORE WEEK and we will be able to preorder my first book!

AND...we will begin registration for my online devotional on Facebook and YouTube, too! Nervous....

But I couldn't do any of this without an incredible team of 100 friends (ONLY 10 SPOTS LEFT!!) to help spread the word. Here are the kind of friends I'm looking for:

  • Someone who loves the WORD.
  • Someone who loves the internet and may be a tad addicted to social media.
  • Someone who can write a review on the By Faith book page and Goodreads.com.
  • Someone that has never done a book launch or has done 99 of them.

Here's what doesn't matter:

  • Your age! I don't care if you are 18 or 80, we all need the Word.
  • Your numbers! Those pesky social media followers. You don't need to have 100,000 Facebook followers.
  • Your location! The beauty is doing this from the comfort of your home.

As a By Faith Launch Friend you will get:

  1. A free, electronic copy of the book in advance of the launch date, April 4th. (PDF)
  2. A private Facebook group with me and 100 of our closest friends and get access to behind the scenes surprises and gifts.
  3. A free online bible study of By Faith. For 20 days you’ll receive a short video of me teaching through this study series (dare I say, scared and nervous about this one!)
  4. Other fun things because it just wouldn't be a party without friends!

I can't wait to share my heart with you about this book. Telling you how hard this was wouldn't do justice. Writing it was tough, but walking through it was probably one of the hardest things I've done.  It makes me hopeful of the lives and circumstances that will change through it!

10 SPOTS LEFT!! Hurry and fill out the application now until March 14th.

APPLY HERE

Dear Cam Newton

Dear Cam, I wish you never walked off that stage.  I wished you would have shown strength and endurance, letting kids know not only how to win with class, but to lose with grace.

I’ve been there, definitely not at that level, but I’ve lost some big championships in my softball career.  I understand the sting that happens afterwards that doesn’t seem to go away. When all you can think about is, what if I did this instead or what would’ve happened if we did it this way.  It’s a roller coaster of emotions.  Yet, when they put that giant C on your uniform, you become a leader. You become someone that everyone, on and off the field, looks up to.

So, can you do me, other mom’s, and coaches a favor, take this time off and find a way to come back better and stronger than before. Learn from this experience.  Because, God has big plans for you.

This mom of two boys who play high school football watched you closely.  The week before the game, every night, NFL network was on our TV.  Those boys hung on every word, listened to everything you  had to say.  They saw the pride, the gloating, the dabbing, and never once saw humility and grace.

The coach in me wanted to tell you as you walked off that stage, “Get your butt back in the chair and be the leader that you need to be!” giving you the meanest look along with a pointed finger back at the chair.  Your winning performance has spoken for itself, so there is no need to gloat or rub it in.  That is why we shake hands and tell each other good game, because inevitably someday you will be in their shoes.

This family of six gives you grace.  We want you to become the leader God wants you to be.  Let Him show you what that looks like.  Set race, money, and, even, football aside and let Him show you how to truly lead (with love).  Let Him show you how to use your platform that He has blessed you with. I know you’ve lost games before and, sure, losing the Super Bowl is a tough one to lose, but dang it be the better person than what you gave us Sunday in that interview.

I don’t know if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but He’s pretty cool. He helps you rise above the circumstances and gives you incredible freedom from ourselves. Because, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

So, I’m going to return to being a mom to my four teenagers and as a coach to 13 middle school girls that play softball.  My hope is that when my family returns to watching football next season, we not see Cam Newton with the C on his uniform becoming a leader, but Cam Newton THE leader.

Praying for you as you enjoy this time off.

Michelle

Make Yourself Dangerous

It’s been awhile.  God really put on my heart to just write those things that He gives me and not just for the sake of writing anymore. I want to start by asking two questions:

Do you see you as God sees you?

Do you know who you are in Christ?

Maybe it is time to realize the strength and power we have in our words.

God keeps reminding me of His verse, let this mind be in You.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus - Philippians 2:5

At times I see those walking in uncertainty; walking in fear and doubt.  When I hear these things, I just want to shout:

We are the head and not the tale. - Deuteronomy 28:13

Above only and not beneath. - Deuteronomy 28:13

Greater is He that is in me then he that is in the world. - 1 John 4:4

That He shall supply all my need. -  Philippians 4:19

You are the peace that passes all understanding - Philippians 4:7

But, you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. - 1 Peter 2:9

Reminding myself, also.

When a question is asked, “Can you believe God wants abundance in your life?”  Without a shadow of a doubt, I know He does because his Word says so.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worth in us. - Ephesians 3:20

Do I doubt sometimes when maybe something bad happens or doubt creeps in, Yes. I’m flesh. But then God reminds me

O, you of little faith - Matthew 14:31

No weapon formed against me shall prosper. - Isaiah 54:17

Its time to stop quietly just saying, “Yeah, I know” as we gently nod our head.

Its time to rise up as He so boldly told Joshua, Jeremiah, and David.  We need to rise up and take captive our thoughts.  Use what God has given us as a Sword to fight. Fight what our flesh wants us to believe in.  Its time to slice our flesh up and throw it down the garbage disposal.  Because, that’s what it is, garbage!

For some it may not be that easy.  I ask you, why not?  You believe God and His Word don’t you?  Yes, but sometimes the problem seems more than I can handle.

Well, two things:

Give it to God and trust Him with the outcome.

Maybe you’ve been hurt and you can’t move past where you are.  Then its time to overcome.  Its time to give the hurt to God.  Watch him show you how to pray for those that have hurt you; those that have said mean and ugly things.  Those that took innocence away from you.  Maybe you were divorced or someone left you, then its time to overcome so that you can go forward. Maybe you have experienced rejection, abandonment or abuse from childhood forming the attitude of "I am no value," "I don't measure up," "I am unlovable." It is time to move from  believing those words to believing the True Word and what He says about you.

Get your heart healed. Get your wounds restored.  Get a mentor or a friend that you trust to pray with you, and for you.  The important thing is to work on you — first.

You can’t move forward until you have been set free.  You can’t sweep things under the rug, as maybe the ones that made those of us victims want, but we can build ourselves up with His Word.

We must understand He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We may see the book of our lives, and wow, we have some ugly chapters written, but God isn’t finished with you.  As long as you have breath, you must get to a place, that what the enemy meant for evil God will turn it over for good (Genesis 50:20).

Make yourself dangerous!  

God is not done with you.  Maybe you are at the “turnover” phase. It’s uncomfortable, it makes you feel ashamed or upset.  Maybe your turnover is the uncertainty of tomorrow because health has you down.  No matter what your turnover is; your turnover is that place to overcome.  Your turnover is what separates you from moving beyond so that you can move forward.  Your turnover is a place of, wherever that is, laying it down at the altar.

So, three things:

  1. Lay it down
  2. Pray the Word
  3. Realize the power in you of His word

Maybe it won’t take me this long  to write again. Ha! (Eyes looking up)

The Star of the Show

It’s the middle of a school week, and I’m getting ready to head out to the school for a little “musical” in which my fifth grade son, Aiden, is going to appear.  But I have a little secret...I don’t really want to go.  Before you turn me in to the Bad Mom Police, let me explain. I go to a great number of these things.  Musicals, plays, poetry readings, and Heaven help us all, recorder concerts.  I make it to all of them, but because we have no family nearby, I usually end up taking all my littlest kids with me.  Sometimes these things are during the school day.  Other times, like tonight, they are around our dinner time.  I must have all the homework done for the other kids before I go and get all the kids fed.  I must load them all up in their car seats and be sure the stroller is in the van.  I have to take something for the baby and the toddler to do.  Then we head out the door.

When we get to the school, I get out the double stroller and must weave in and out of the crowd of finely dressed moms and dads with my crew of about six or seven kids.  All of my people, are slightly less than finely dressed.  Then guess what we get to do.  We get to cram on the bleachers with all the other parents.  To keep any pre-k aged kid still and quiet for any amount of time at something like this is difficult, but bleachers add a whole other dimension.  My two year old is kicking the man in front of us.  The baby is starting to fuss.  My four year old is so, so, so thirsty, and someone has to pee.  It could be me that has to pee.  I don’t really remember.  I’m looking at the backpack I have to use in place of a purse and notice the fancy handbag of the mom in front of me.  Her nails are done and her pants are white.  I retired any possibility of white pants about four kids ago.  Everything is stressful and loud and parents keep standing up  in front of me with cameras so big, I have to wonder if they freelance forTMZ or the US Weekly between soccer games and hair appointments.  I’ll be happy to get a fuzzy video on my iPhone to show my husband when he gets off work.  All of this is for a 20 minute play where I can’t hear anything or see anything.  I’m wore out and begin wondering what I’m even doing here.

I look around a very large man for Aiden, and I finally spot him.  He is looking all over in the crowd for me.  He’s getting a tad frantic.  He just wants to know I see him.  We make eye contact and he smiles.  He is so happy.  He just wants to know I’m watching and that I’m there.  It doesn’t matter to him that he’s not the star of the show or that I have to look around the large man in front of me.  He doesn’t care about my clothes or my hair or fussing babies or my substitute purse.  He knows at that moment he is the star of my show.  And that is all that matters to him.  And that is all that matters to me.  I’m suddenly able to ignore and forget about all the other stuff.  I watch him.  I mean, really, really watch him.  I’m not watching because of all the great things he is doing right on stage.  I’m watching because I love him.  I don’t care what he’s doing, really.  For just a few precious minutes, he is my only child.

At that moment, I didn’t particularly feel like the star of the show.  Beyond the obvious distraction a crew like ours can cause, I don’t really stand out or look polished.  I tie a sweater around my waist as I leave the house to keep my stretch pants on legally, throw my hair in a ponytail, and head out the door.  How is it even possible that I could be the star of the show?  But I think I am.  I’m the star of God’s show.  Zechariah 2:8 even says I am the apple of His eye.  Little old me.  When will it be so that if only God is pleased with me, than that is enough? When will it be so that if He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and loves me, than that is enough?  I’m getting there.  I understand more all the time and am beginning to understand that if He is for me, than who can be against me?  I am special and precious.  It’s time I start beaming at that thought, like Aiden did, when he knew I was simply there watching him and was proud.

I, too, should be beaming, radiating, and completely fulfilled by this.

The show is over.  We all get back in the van, and when I look at Aiden he is grinning from ear to ear.  He is content.  He is full of joy.  I asked if he was smiling because he had fun.  He said he had fun, but that he was happy I got to see him doing something he worked so hard at.  Now I am content.  And full of joy.  Because I know God is watching me doing something I’m working so hard at.  I don’t always get it right, but I’m still the star.  Don’t ask for my autograph quite yet, though.  I still have some work to do.  My show is far from over.

His Masterpiece

The other day I received a text message from one of my best friends. Her oldest graduated from high school and over the summer will be getting ready to move to Chattanooga where her daughter will attend college. I texted her back how excited I was, but I knew deep down she was sad to see her go. Then my cell phone rang.

No more texting. We needed our voices. We cried together and I made her promise that she would walk this very same road with me too, very soon.

It’s moments like these that you remember everything is for a season.

Paints and brushes
When our children are born we receive a blank canvas. Nothing on it. No color, no landscape, nothing. As a mother we are the paint brush and God is the Painter. As our children grow, the paint brush (us) begin to add the colors and with each brush stroke the Painter guides each direction the paint colors move.

Some colors are bright and vivid, others are calm and cool.

It’s in the moment when the canvas is complete the Painter gently let’s go of the paint brush and with His hands takes the painting to the place He knows everyone will enjoy.

Let’s get honest moms, it’s hard to let go. We have parented these kids for 18 years. We have changed their diapers and wiped their tears. We have put Band-Aids on scratches and played tag with them in the backyard. Oh, and those teenage years. We silently wept tears and screamed in our pillows. We have pounded our prayer closets and prayed protection over them as they drive by themselves for the first time.

Then it happens. We let go and let God take the canvas.

I’ve learned as a mom that parenting is for a season, but being a mom is forever. Our season of parenting is using everything God put in us to parent our children. He knew our children before we did. He knew exactly what our children needed and trusted us to parent them as the Painter. Every brush stroke we trusted Him with brought out every detail in our children.

When parenting becomes hard, trust the Painter.

When letting go seems difficult, trust the Painter.

When fear and doubt of your child’s future comes in, trust the Painter.

Thankful I was there for my friend. What she didn’t know is she was there for me, too.

So, when August gets here and the tears begin to flow, she knows God sees each one she cries as her paint brush is gently let go. No more paint left, she watches the Painters hands take hold of her finished painting.

His masterpiece is displayed for all to enjoy.

Thankful we were given the opportunity to add the color.

Interview with Nicole Unice

When you hear Nicole Unice speak you will feel her passion for women, especially moms. She is truly a gift to the body of Christ with her love for teaching, helping all kinds of people connect with God and with one another. Today, she shares with us about fear, freedom, and how we are a gift to others when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

So grab a cup of coffee and tune in. We promise you will leave here feeling encouraged as you look at your day, today, differently.

It’ll be worth every minute, I promise!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • How scripture can resonate with us as we nurture children
  • As we get closer to the heart of God, we get free from our fear of rejection
  • The more we belong to Christ the less fear we have of belonging somewhere else
  • The gift of vulnerability
  • How much influence women have
  • Ask this question after reading your Social Media for a month
  • How to look at the day in front of you differently
  • Talks with us about her new book – Brave Enough

PERSPECTIVE

Be vulnerable enough to show your moments that you fail and how God continues to meet you.

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

NicoleUnice.com

GetBraveEnough.com

Brave Enough: Getting Over Our Fears, Flaws, and Failures to Live Bold and Free - Available on Amazon Now!

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

FAVORITE TAKE AWAYS

"If we focus on what we don’t have and what we think we deserve, we will miss the great creative ways that God is reaching out to us every day."

Boldly pray, “God, I give you all of me. Will you give me all of You? My eyes are open to see your work.”

Interview with Joanne Kraft

My guest today is a woman who knows what she’s talking about when it comes to mean moms. Joanne Kraft is a phenomenal writer and speaker – but she didn’t get there overnight.  She is a mom of four incredible kids and has spent most of her time learning from them on how to be a mean mom.

She is the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her recent book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, Thriving Family, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits.

I can’t wait for you to hear the wisdom Joanne has brought with her today. Let’s do it!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • What a mean-mom looks like.
  • Your child’s independence.
  • How to teach your kids to lean on the Lord.
  • The legacy you want to leave
  • The role dad plays
  • How to rock your husband’s world.
  • How to deal with regret.
  • Why God gives us our children specifically to us.
  • How to forgive ourselves.

PERSPECTIVE

For the mom who wants to throw in the towel.

Joanne shares a story she has never told anyone before.

WEBSITE LINKS

www.joannekraft.com This is Joanne’s website where you will find links to her books, articles, and inspiration.

On Facebook

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

James 1:2-5 “Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with disciplining your child? Why/why not?  Do you carry guilt with you for long periods after the discipline was given days, weeks, months ago? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Interview with Jennifer Deshler

We met through mutual friends and since then she has been a blessing to my life. Jennifer Deshler is an encourager. She loves seeing other women succeed in life and flourish in their career.

I know you will love her story.  She is a single mom to a teenager and has been for 14 years.  She talks with us about leaving the corporate world to become an entrepreneur. How God has done some work on her own heart and the faith she has in Him.

You will love this strong, beautiful, Jesus-loving mom.

Get ready because she is going to preach!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Teaching her daughter life experiences
  • How her choices resulted in opinions from others
  • Single parents rely on God a little differently
  • Being enough
  • Married moms help by speaking life into that single mom
  • The hardest part of being a single parent
  • The rewards in parenting
  • Watching your child thrive
  • How to stand on God’s Word
  • Be vulnerable in the hard moments

PERSPECTIVE

There are 10 million single parents. 80% of those are single moms.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Romans 8:28

Jeremiah 29:11

Deuteronomy 31:8

Jennifer’s Website

On Facebook

On Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

2 Corinthians 6:18 “and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

No matter how unsure the future looks, God’s got it all mapped out – Jennifer Deshler

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Are you a single parent with a story? We would love to hear from you. Share with us what are the highs and lows?

Interview with Tami Heim

Seven years ago, we met over coffee and, as they say, the rest is history. Tami Heim has not only been a friend, but a huge influence in my life. She is the CEO and President of Christian Leadership Alliance. She is a mom to Zoe and grandma to two. But, God wasn’t finished.

Her and her husband, Dale, just recently adopted a little girl from Haiti. I have had the privilege of meeting Sania and she is one of the sweetest little girls you’ll ever meet.

In this interview, we talked about the adoption process, the perseverance it took, and the joy it brings.

I can’t wait for you to hear her heart today!

Join us.

IN THIS EPISODE

  • How her Pastors tweets kept her captivated with Haiti
  • How a church leader asked a question that would change their life forever.
  • From being in the delivery room with her first grandbaby to filling out adoption papers at the same time.
  • The hard process of adoption
  • How the No’s became Yes’s
  • How a prophetic word changed the course of the why
  • What brought Tami to tears
  • How parenting is different the second time around

PERSPECTIVE

Parenting in the NOW moments

WEBSITE LINKS

Christian Leadership Alliance

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY(S)

If we try to say why we couldn’t do what God’s invited us into, we would be so selfish.

God showed us what it is to go to the very edge of impossible.

Even in our inadequacy, God makes up the difference. - Tami Heim

CONVERSATION:

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? What if God wants you to pursue adoption?  We would love to hear your story.

Interview with Lisa Whittle

One minute you are watching your toddler walking and the next, they are teenagers.  Some say its overwhelming and some think it’s the best part of being a mom.  It’s all a matter of perspective. My friend, Lisa Whittle and I talk about parenting our 7 teenagers and share with you our experience.  We talk about the highs and lows, the good and the ugly not just from our kids, but within ourselves.

Lisa is an incredible author and an amazing speaker. When you first hear her you know she is a natural leader and bold thinker. Her refreshing, bottom-line approach appeals to audiences across the nation as she points them to a passionate pursuit of God.

Don’t miss her latest book, I Want God.

Hearing our conversation, I think, will leave you encouraged and inspired to continue being the mom that God has called you to be.

You will not be disappointed!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • The three hardest things with raising teenagers
  • Knowing your kids weaknesses and helping them to build it as a strength
  • Lisa’s light bulb moments
  • Four things you need within yourself while you are raising teenagers
  • How standards are important
  • What you need to have when parenting gets intense

PERSPECTIVE

What to do when you want to throw in the towel and feel like you are not “doing this” right.

LINKS AND RESOURCES

Lisa’s Website

Book: I Want God

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Instagram

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Romans 5:5  “and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

"Have a stubborn resolve to parent until the end" - Lisa Whittle

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Do you struggle with keeping a balanced life? Share with us what changes you might make after hearing Linda. I’d love to hear your perspective on ministry, marriage, and family.

Free Hugs

Guest Post by Gabby Shumate My 8 month old impeccable example of a son threw a tantrum yesterday. It started as a slow, whiny fake-cough that I have literally no idea where he could have picked it up from. Lately he’s been using this instant fake cough in various situations – to get attention, express disgust, laugh in agreement, you get the picture. Yesterday, it was to loudly complain that his body would not do what his mind had already surmised. See, he’s the best sitter-upper that ever did live. He’s been doing it for months, something his basically walking twin brother has never done correctly. His body just won’t move the way he wants it to. Instead, he results to rolling around on the floor like some partially-drunk piglet practicing the barrel rolls more dramatically than a Real Housewife when the somersaults were a little too challenging in P.E. class (come on, we all did it).

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I looked to my husband, eyes gawking, and asked if it was really starting this early. See, I’ve seen it happen in grocery stores, on playgrounds, in restaurants, and in the homes of my family members and friends. I never know how to react when I see it. I didn’t know how to react when it happened to me. Do I tell him “No” in a stern voice? Do I pick him up? Do I move him into the position he so much desires? Do I leave the room and let the children fight it out in a weird Lord of the Flies meets Hunger Games scenario?? (Never. If I remember correctly, Piggy dies, and Harry’s thighs touch, so they’re practically the same person). I tried something new, probably futile, but I find in uncomfortable situations, doing something productive or keeping busy lightens the tension. I got on my hands and knees like a crazy person and crawled around him, loudly narrating the alternating patterns of my arms and legs while I happily explained “Look! Mommy can crawl to whatever toy she wants! I’m so mobile and independent! Look at me!!”

Harry stared at me like I was an idiot – it happens often. I can’t fault him. He’s incredibly witty and sarcastic. He knows when I’m being ironic. But, he stopped whining. He laughed, and he went on to play with a different toy. The next day, he crawled two feet. He’s not exactly winning the Olympics, but he’s making progress, and that, my friends, is a celebration. Did Harry learn to crawl just from watching me one time? No. I crawl with my boys all the time. I stand with my boys all the time. I walk with my boys all the time. Every day, I sit them in the high chairs while we eat our dinner in the hopes that one day we can go to a restaurant without fear or anxiety. Every day, I give them a bath, brush any existing teeth, and put them in bed. Every day, I change their clothes. Every day, I pull the athletic one, Davis, off of Harry and explain to Harry that his brother isn’t being mean, but he just loves him so much and finds him so interesting that he has to have physical contact. Then I explain to Davis that Harry doesn’t like it when he lays on him like Hulk Hogan, but prefers to hold hands instead. He’s a lover, not a fighter. I tell him about personal space.

Sometimes, I get crazily lost in the routine of twins. Wake up. Change Clothes. Play. Drink a bottle. Take a Nap. Play. Eat Food. Change Diapers. Play. Clean the bathroom because Davis thinks he’s Shamu giving a show in Seaworld stadium and the world is his splash zone (That’s a terrible example. Watch Blackfish. Down with SeaWorld).  There’s so many tasks to complete that sometimes I forget that their childhood is meant for setting examples. It’s meant for practicing. We’re practicing how to have friends. I’m setting an example for appropriate table behavior. We’re gaining valuable life skills that will make us happy and productive human beings! See, I don’t say it like that because, man, is that a lot of pressure. But it’s true.We are called to be imitators of God. It is only natural that our children are imitators of us. Most of what they learn, they learn from me. So, the things that I’m bad at, I practice more. The things that I’m good at, I freely give. Unconditional love, I got that. Laughter, I got that. Grace, I use it every day. Using a toilet, yep, I’ve been doing that one for years. I’m trying to give them the best parts of me. My husband will give them the best parts of him. Maybe, all that good stuff, all that practice, and the incredible strengths and individual talents and personalities that God has blessed them with will all melt together in this incredible masterpiece who is not just capable of great things, but will one day reach full potential.

Making Lanterns

Guest Post from Mary Kelso I stepped outside the church on a Monday afternoon after getting some papers signed for my kids to go to church camp.  We were under the awning, waiting for the rain to let up so we could run to the car.  A woman was standing there; she had attended a funeral in the building earlier in the day and was trying her best to hide the cigarette in her hand so my boys wouldn’t see her.  I said hello and she immediately explained how bad she felt smoking… at a church… in front of kids… “I’m just so ashamed.”

We talked for a little while, and though I wasn’t concerned about her hiding her cigarette, I was grateful to her for caring what my kids saw.

That doesn’t happen very often.

I am never so tempted to go all “mama bear” on people, as when I see them blatantly and carelessly displaying their filth in front of my kids.  Bumper stickers with obscene profanity, t-shirts with course jokes and gestures, commercials with unsavory and distasteful messages, angry outbursts or frustrated diatribes of strangers in a store littered with words no one should have to hear, let alone kids.  Yet, somehow the shame that the woman with the cigarette was feeling, is nowhere.  I feel angry and helpless at times.

I think I’m not alone.

lanterns
You know what makes me feel better?  Letting my kids know that God loves those people. Teaching my kids that they should pray for the angry girl in the beat up car with the “anti-Christian” bumper sticker, does more for my soul than putting a bigger “fish sticker” on my own vehicle.  It really does.

See this world isn’t getting any healthier to live in.  Even in the sweetest, quietest, towns there are people full of darkness, there always has been, but when I was a kid, more people were ashamed of the darkness, and tried to hide it.  Today we live in a world where darkness is called light and light is more and more considered the bully on the playground.  My kids are growing up in that world and as a parent, it’s my job to give them the right eyes to see with.

I can’t hide them from it, but I can prepare them for it.  I sent them to private school for a while, not because I was shielding them from the world, but because I was filling them with the Word.  I plan to homeschool them this fall, not because I’m hiding, but because private school is expensive and my best subject is their best offense in a world against truth.  The Word.  Prayer.  It’s what we will study first every day.

I have no intention of keeping my kids from being exposed to the darkness; it’s the darkness that should be hiding from what we are producing in our home.  We are making light.  The light is a sign of welcome, of comfort, of escape from the unknown.  I’m making lanterns, not molding hermits.  I am flavoring their character with salt, and brightening their countenance with truth.  I’m not educating them on how the darkness works, because when the true Light comes, it has to flee anyway.

Yes, they will have to navigate some dark paths, among mean spirited people, but they won’t have to fight the people, their battle, and mine, is not in shushing the people.  I have to put my “mama bear” away, silence my roar, and let the Light speak for Himself.  I don’t want to silence the people, I want to shut out the darkness and bring the people into the Light.

I can’t teach my children to be followers of Christ and leaders of men, by out-shouting the opposing view.  I must out-shine it.

My boys love Jesus, that’s the start.  They recognize right and wrong, that’s a step.  They must be FULL of the gospel, FULL of the Holy Spirit, FULL of the Light of Christ, and then they will be able to stand at the edge of a hurting world and with confidence speak the words of welcome to those who desire to come out of the darkness.

The advantage of a world in darkness is the obvious presence of the Light.

I do not have to arm them with arguments, I simply hand them the Word.

I do not have to shield them with law and judgment, I simply educate them with grace.

I do not have to mark them with slogans and symbols, I simply fill them with Light.

We truly do not wrestle with flesh and blood, that’s an unfair battle because we are using a sword on someone who is already broken and bleeding.  We must focus our battle on the darkness that imprisons them.

My kids need my example, more than they need my “mama bear” façade.  They need to see that I am afraid of nothing, and that every darkness is under my feet.  They need to see that I am not leading them from my opinion of right and wrong, but I am completely reliant on the Word made flesh, the Light of Life.

We are encountering a vicious enemy, but that enemy fights in chains and a leash.  Our Lord told us that we would face tribulation, but that He has already overcome the world. The darkness is simply hiding that from those who have not met Christ.  I refuse to hide my children.  I am preparing them to speak the truth, live Christ’s love to all those they meet and speak His truth fearlessly to all the world.

Chaos & Peace

Guest Post from Mindy Evans Leaving the house is not a simple task any more.  It hasn’t been for quite awhile.  I watch my parents leave the house.  My dad gets his keys.  My mom gets her purse.  They put their shoes on.  And they leave.  It seems so, I don’t know, simple.  When we leave the house there is so much involved, it’s almost as if I should hire an events coordinator.

We begin by determining when we need to leave.  Even this is tricky.  For example, if we have to be somewhere at 6:30, and it takes 20 minutes to get there, normal people can leave at 6:10, or 6:00 if they’d like to be a bit early.  In order for us to leave at 6:10, we have to leave at 5:55.  I need to calculate when we need to leave in order to leave when we need to leave.  Are you confused yet?  Because you should be.

chaos

After determining the time to leave, I call all the kids down from the family room.  This is when things really start to get unstable.  Little kids run to our cubby hole area.  You know, the area we had specially made so that the coats and shoes and backpacks of each kid would have their own special space and the area would remain neat and organized.  (Feel free to stop now with me in my story so that we can all laugh together.  Let us find the amusement in these unfulfilled dreams parents sometimes have when we get really good ideas for managing our family but forget to factor in that the people we are managing still use their shirts as napkins, eat food off the floor, and wear the same underwear at camp all week.)

Things are suddenly loud and chaotic.  Kids can’t find shoes.  Kids that can find shoes are sitting on the shoes of the kids who can’t find their shoes.  Other kids say they found their shoes but upon further examination, they have on sandals and its 20 degrees outside or they have on boots and 90.  I stop to call for the teenagers.  They yell, “Coming!”  Someone is tattling and someone is crying.  I notice the TV and the lights are still on upstairs.  So, I send up a kid to turn them off.  I help tie shoes and find shoes and reassign weather appropriate shoes.  The baby is crawling now and tries to make a break for the door every time someone leaves to go out to the van.  He must be closely monitored.  As all the littler kids head out the door, I call for the teenagers.  They say, “Coming!”  (Let’s all stop to laugh together again.  We know they probably are not, in fact, “coming.”)

As we actually head out the door, the baby spits up on my shirt and someone says, “Sullivan pooped!”  Back in we go.  My shirt is salvageable with a wet cloth and the diaper gets changed.  I call for the teenagers.  They say, “Coming!”  (It’s not funny anymore.)  When I get back out to the van, the kids are getting in, but someone has tripped and needs a band aid.  Back in I go.  I come back out, and we all load in.  The teenagers have surfaced and are getting in the van.  Time for a head count.  We’re missing one.  Channing (5).  She is the one I sent upstairs to turn off the lights and the TV.  Back in I go.  She’s sitting quietly on the floor watching the TV she was supposed to be turning off.  I just have to smile.  And part of me really just wants to join her.  I’ve just been smacked in the heart with that feeling of how blessed I really am.

But I wasn’t always this way.  Years ago, as a younger mom, the word “smack” would have shown up in my story in a much different way.

When I had my fifth baby, it was a difficult time.  He was a very needy little fella and I was beginning to question my abilities as a parent to many children.  This is not to say that I didn’t have moments at four, or three, or two, or even one, when I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.  But, when we had our fifth, it was the beginning of a big decision for my husband and I to have a large family.  I was standing in the kitchen, trying to console the inconsolable eight week old and praying, “I just don‘t think I can do this. Please, please give me more patience and strength to deal with all this.”  I was overwhelmed and tired and questioning whether God really knew what He was doing when He spoke to my heart and then to my husband’s heart about growing our family.  And then, I sat back and waited for God to reach down out of the sky and bop me on the head with his magic Strength and Patience Wand.  And, so I waited.  And waited.  But, it didn’t exactly happen that way.

God spoke to my heart over the next few weeks as I continued to whine and groan.  He reminded me that He has already given me all I need to do all the things He has called me to do.  I’ve heard the fruit of the spirit described in a way such that you are given a seed, or an amount, as soon as you are saved.  After that, you must cultivate it to get it to grow. Good fruit doesn’t just pop up on a tree or vine the day after it’s planted.  I needed to start accessing and taking care of what I was already given before He would give me more.

I needed to start behaving like the parent God already saw me to be.  

In the parable of the talents, the man gave his servants a certain amount.  They had to show themselves worthy of that amount before he gave them more.  But, this is my favorite part.  In Matthew 25: 15, it says that the master gave each one, “according to his own ability.”  POW!  Guess what.  I am able.  The almighty God of the entire universe already believes I am able, and He has given to me accordingly.

Now, please understand, no part of me believes I am able on my own.  Every ounce of ability that I have to do anything at all comes from Him, and I am in constant need of His resources.  I just need do my part.  I must partner with Him to get anything worthwhile done. Philippians 2:13 reminds me of this.  It is God who works in me.

So, while I still have my moments of feeling overwhelmed and tired and unworthy and let’s face it, slightly unhinged, I wasn’t always able to smile and have peace in the middle of chaos.  I’ve grown tremendously.  The bop on the head never came.  I believe God can bop you on the head.  (There are times I wish He would bop people on the head.  But not necessarily in a holy way.  And for this, I ask forgiveness.)  But, He usually doesn’t work that way.  Spiritual matters take time, and along the road mistakes are made.  Returning to the parable of the talents, we should consider the possibility that the servants who came back to their master with a return, may also have messed up and been discouraged along the way.  Maybe the one with five took a chance with three, lost them, but was wise with the last two and ended up with ten.  Maybe he learned lessons and prayed to be a good steward and it all worked out in the end.  Who knows.  But, I’d sure like to think it.

Luke 12:48 says that because I’ve been given much, much is required of me.  I think we can agree, if you’ve been given many kids, you’ve been given much.  But, listen good to me when I say, if you’ve been given just one, one little image bearer, one little precious gift, you, too, have been given much.  Much is required, but partnered with Him, I promise, you are able.

Making Memories

Guest post from Jennifer Deshler. I was planning to write a post about Proverbs 14:1 today.  But I’m not feeling much like a wise woman at the moment. Parenting is hard, ya’ll. #justkeepingitreal

Knowing I’m not the only mama who probably needs to shake it off today instead of reading about how to build the perfect home, let’s talk about having FUN.

memories

I didn’t grow up in a fun home—it was loud, but not a fun kind of loud. In my early elementary years, I remember daydreaming about things I’d do with my kids when I was a parent. Experiences that would tell my little ones I loved them in fun ways.

Have you noticed that humor and levity are often traits we most enjoy in our friends? When we think about the people we want to spend time with, it’s the ones who are easy to get along with. They smile, they laugh, and they have adventurous spirits.

Often we have to fight to make space for fun in our homes.  We’re nursing babies, changing dirty diapers, separating siblings when they fight, navigating the choppy waters of teen hormones, and being a rock when hearts get broken. And there are lunches to pack and dinners to make, laundry to wash, and stories to be read. My muscles tense just thinking about it all.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength- Nehemiah 8:10

Our kids won’t remember the dishes or the laundry or the errands we run. But they will remember that we made them laugh. They’ll hold tight to every late night Dairy Queen run and each spontaneous game of Go Fish, and those after-dinner contests to catch the most fireflies. Because, no doubt, in every one of those memories, we’re smiling. And more concerned with creating a special moment than cleaning the house.

A happy heart is like good medicine. But a broken spirit drains your strength. Prov. 17:22

The best part about making space for laughter and joy in our homes? We all reap the benefits. There’s less tension. We’re willing to offer more grace to each other. And those giggles and smiles raise our serotonin levels (how awesome is God that He created a chemical reaction inside us that makes us feel better when we smile?!) Fun offsets the hard work of parenting.

If you’re having a tough time with motherhood, just leave the dishes and ignore the to-do list, and go have some fun with your family. Listen for deep, happy belly laughs from your kids—tuck those away for the tough days. Pause at a stoplight and cherish the fact that every kid in the car is asleep after long hours of playing together. Let your family see the silly side of you, and remind yourself she’s still in there.

Here are some of our favorite ideas for making fun memories:

Having a hooky day from school for no reason. Eating ice cream for dinner. Announcing surprise vacations upon arrival at the airport. Using an accent at the grocery store to see how people react when they walk by.

What about you? Share your ideas in the comments below!

He Believes

Guest Post from Mary Kelso A couple of years ago, there was a busy morning of getting two of my boys ready for school and my pre-schooler, Aron, dressed to ride along.   I laid Aron's clothes out for him in the living room. He was still eating breakfast in the kitchen and we were running late.  Instead of making him run upstairs to find clothes I decided to bring them down and let him dress in a corner behind the couch (they all love to do this) once he was finished.

In the process of disrobing he suddenly felt the urgent need to go to the bathroom so he ran for it. I didn't see him take off, as my back was turned, but I did see him return. In my peripheral vision I saw a little flesh colored streak jump through the air and land beside the pile of clothes he still needed to put on.

He was trying to be sneaky, so I wouldn't see him running around nearly naked. Sneaky and fast. He shouted to me, "mom, did you see me?"

I knew he wanted to hear that I didn't. I couldn't lie, but I could exaggerate a bit.

"Barely" I said. "All I saw was a flash and then boom, there you were. You were SO fast."

He smiled proudly and finished getting ready to leave.

Later that afternoon he was talking to his big brother and said, "Ivan, guess what? I ran to the bathroom in my underwear and I didn't want mom to see me. I was so fast all she could see was a flash when I ran back!"

He believed it. He believed he was fast, like a flash of lightning. He believed it because that's what I said.

Which made me feel responsible. And careful.

Because wouldn't it stand to reason that he would believe other things I could say about him?

My mother warned me about this, about names and words we call people, especially children, and though I heeded her warning I didn't see how important it was until I saw how easily he took my words to be his. To be him.

What if I had told him he's an idiot?

What if I had told him I didn't care?

What if I had told him to SHUT-UP?

What if I had called him a little jerk? A little brat? A nuisance? What about Stupid? Fool? Devil?

What would he believe about himself then?

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear...maybe your mommy doesn't mean it.

How important are they? The little nouns and adjectives we use?

When he dumps his cereal for the third time that week.

When she gets into your make-up again.

When he pees down the side of the toilet.

When she uses your scissors and can’t seem to find them.

When he leaves his dirty socks between the cushions of the couch for the third afternoon in a row.

When you don't have time or energy to answer her question for the 10th, 11th, or 12th time.

Every time you find yourself placed between him and what his actions make you feel, remember, no matter what you say...He believes.

Interview with Amy Carroll

I am excited for you to meet Amy Carroll.  First meeting her you knew she was amazing gal.  Her smile is contagious and her passion for women is honest and true. Amy Carroll is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries’, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services.  She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund.  You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Today, we talk about what the world says versus what God says motherhood is to look like.  How many of us are just exhausted pursuing perfection? We talk a little about that too.

**You don’t want to miss the incredible offer that Amy gives to all our listeners at the end of the message!!

So grab a cup a coffee, your favorite chair and lean into this encouraging word from Amy!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Her brand new book – Breaking Up with Perfect
  • Lessons learned from failures
  • The world vs. God about motherhood
  • God created us to reflect His image
  • Living in God’s image
  • Pursuing perfection is exhausting
  • Seeking a mentor mom
  • Where are you turning?

PERSPECTIVE

We have a creative God that loves diversity - Amy Carroll

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Proverbs 31 Ministries

Next Step Speaker Services

Breaking Up with Perfect book

Amy Carroll website

On Facebook

On Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

Psalm 18:32 “the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”