Challenging Children

Parenting challenging children grows my compassion toward others parenting challenging children

If you parent a challenging child, you’ve likely smiled through unrequested advice, bit your tongue when publicly corrected, and pinched back tears against feelings of failure. You know what it means to give endlessly, sacrificially, and entirely to a child and STILL know your best efforts are inadequate.

This grows your compassion. You have less judgment and more patience than your pre-child self. You have less advice and more empathy. You offer less correction and more grace because you know how desperately you need to hear that grace spoken to you. You do not deceive yourself. You know you need the Lord to parent every day, and you shamelessly share this with other moms, praying they will also turn to Him for their strength.

You learn to celebrate the small victories and know they belong to the Lord

I am not up to the task of parenting a challenging child. Perhaps, that is exactly why God gifted me with one. Every milestone is a victory because that milestone once felt impossible. I’ve learned the important lesson that prayer doesn’t always change my circumstances or change my child, but it will always change me. I’ve accepted this struggle is just as much about my sanctification as it is about rearing my child in the ways of the Lord. I know God desires to do a work in me as I pray for His work in my child.

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There is a blessing inside the struggle.

There is a great blessing in the stripping off of independence and the putting on of dependence. Parenting a challenging child is a humbling reminder that all my talents and capabilities are nothing without God. Struggles turn my eyes toward Him, recognizing my complete dependence upon Him to do what only He can replace stubborn hearts with obedient ones—in my children and in me.

  • from the archives, May 12, 2016

You Were Not a Mistake

In utero, your heartbeat sang a song of praise to God, joining the orchestra resounding his name.

This was all before I felt your first note flutter.

The Creator, Composer, and Redeemer of souls tuned your purpose and composed your score into a song only you can sing. Your days—notes on life’s concerto—are part of a larger symphony playing a song for His pleasure.

With great precision, he shaped you into a delicate image bearer of the mighty God, destined to reflect his glory in a masterpiece of great worship. No matter the instrument or length of the score, the resounding harmony rises to the ears of the Lord and fills the heavens.

He made you to praise him. Whether you play an instrument great or small, play boldly in the opus of the Creator, the maker of all things.

*from Unexpected Love, published 2016, Vine Images.

 

Unexpected Love

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The Slow Burn

His pinched lips and jerky movements caught her eye. Her brother struggled. With forced restraint, he bemoaned the impossibility of his task.

She gently opened his clenched fist and removed the pieces of his project. Then, she slowly and methodically began the job of piecing it back together.

He left the project in her more capable hands and skipped away with an upturned face. He hummed a happy a tune.

She worked away. Her face reddened. She avoided my gaze, looking intently at the object of her frustration.

I frowned. She appeared to be successful in her task. Why the excessive throat clearing and narrowed eyes? I slipped down beside her. What’s wrong?

“It’s like I’m invisible. I’m working hard at doing something nice and he doesn’t appreciate it. Why doesn’t he appreciate me?”

Every person longs for appreciation. We long to be noticed. We want our good deeds recognized and praised. I nod as she speaks because I’ve felt that same slow burn. I want my family to notice and admire the small sacrifices that I make for them. I want to hear more thank yous, more compliments, more acknowledgments.

But like motherhood, life is full of opportunities to selflessly give yourself to others, and many of those actions will not be recognized or praised. Certain circumstances burn that reality deeper into our souls. My toddlers never thanked me for a diaper change. Our youngster never thanked the doctor for the needle that will make him feel better. Perhaps we need to rephrase the question. Instead of, “Why am I not appreciated?” ask, “Can I do this for the Lord knowing His pleasure is thanks enough?”

I lean in closer to her. “If God asked you to do this for your brother, would you?”

Of course! Her head nods emphatically.

“If God is the only one who ever notices this kind act, is his pleasure enough?”

Yes!

“Then do it for the Lord. He sees. He knows. And he is pleased.”

A tiny smile tugs the corner of her lips upward. She bends over the project and begins again in earnest.

What we need to remember when our foundation is shaken

 

With words, God created the world. Then the Living Word became flesh.

Through inspired words, God promised protection. Not protection from all hurt or heartbreak, but protection from His justifiable wrath through Jesus for all who believe.

He promises to work out all things for the good of His children. Not always the way that I want, but He will take what the enemy meant to destroy me and redeem it for my good. He’ll finish what he started.

He provides comfort in our trials when we seek Him, which is not a promise to remove the trial, but a promise of His presence through it.

He will supply all our needs, and we need saving faith in Christ most of all.

He will return for us. It is the hope that we cling to. He is coming back. His Word is true.

The Survivor, the Sufferer, Guilt, and the Gospel

Ministry opportunities have carried me from tragic circumstances to tragedy. I’ve walked alongside desperate parents and grieving hearts. I’ve watched the healthy fall ill, and I’ve seen the worst of humanity and the horror of accidents. I’ve returned to my family to battle confusing feelings of guilt and shame. Some call it survivor’s guilt. It’s when a person feels guilty for surviving a tragic event. I believe it is present in the less recognized setting of ministry.

Thankfulness and guilt collide
Survivors have questions: Why has the Lord blessed/protected/healed them but not others? The survivor knows they are no better than the sufferer. Why did God, in His wisdom, decide for today that the survivor’s health would be intact or their family would be whole? Survivors are not afflicted in the same way or to the same capacity as the sufferer, but they nonetheless stagger under the weight of their questions. READ MORE

 

When reconciliation​ is not possible

Sticks and stones might break my bones, but name calling hurts too. Whoever penned the old rhyme that claims verbal abuse packs a smaller punch likely wasn’t called too many names.

Forgive and forget is another phrase perhaps spoken by some well-intentioned person. It all sounds good on paper but is so much harder in practice. What if the offender isn’t sorry, or worse, refuses to stop? What if the perpetrator is stuck in a pattern of sin that continues to hurt you? What if the culprit is dead and can’t be sorry?

No one wrote a rhyme about this.

These thoughts stir my soul and bring anger to a boil. It’s harder to forgive an unrepentant person. It’s harder to forgive when the world tells you that your anger is justified. It’s harder to forgive when it costs you so much. But forgiveness always comes at great cost.

Forgiveness isn’t free

“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, than it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.”

~ Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the heart of the Christian faith.

Christ freely extends forgiveness, but it cost Him much. It wasn’t fair. It physically hurt, but he loved us too much to withhold it. He died for us while we continued to sin. Someone always pays for forgiveness.

This time that someone is me.

God has called me to set aside my rights and seek Him. He has asked me to do the hard work of cultivating a heart that forgives those who don’t know, appreciate, or understand how their actions have affected the people I love and me.

The beautiful truth

I can forgive someone who isn’t sorry because Christ forgave me. I didn’t deserve it back then when He died for all mankind, and I certainly don’t deserve it now. Yet, I’m forgiven.

The good news that brought me to a saving knowledge of Christ requires me to apply that good news to every moment of life. God can and will provide for my needs and answer my heart cry as I seek His face. Christ died for the sinner who wronged me and died for the sinner that is me. He loves us both.

We must work out our salvation in moments like these. We must turn toward God and repent of our bitter hearts and trust that He is all we need. As we do that, the anger, disbelief, and rage—yes rage—will lessen.

The kind of surrender God asks of His children isn’t a one time, say it right, get it right, never have to do it again deal. Trust me. I wrote a book about it. It’s ongoing. It’s a daily dying to self. It is a choice we make because we love Him because He first loved usThat makes today a good day to die to self for the glory of God. There is no right that I can surrender on earth that I will regret in glory.

Lord, may it be so.

 

 

When the wrong kind of excitement fills your summer

All the wrong kinds of excitement filled our July.

A child in distress. A young woman with a life-altering diagnosis. A virus spun out of control with the power to steal life. July brought everything into question.

But not the sovereignty of God or the certainty of His love.

Steadfast

Did you know the words “steadfast love” are found 191 times in the Hebrew Bible and 123 of those times occurs in Psalms?[i]

Jason Soroski, writer and worship leader, writes about steadfast love.

“Steadfast love is a unique covenant love that only God can give. It is a love that never changes, never fails. Always promised, always true… God not only practices steadfast love, but God IS steadfast love… It is a covenant promise that is only valid because it is a promise based on God’s character and faithfulness to keep His promises.”[ii] ~ Soroski

This is the love that we clung to throughout July.

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“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43: 1b-3a

When tragedy strikes, it can feel like your drowning in fear and grief. When the illness flares the waters can feel overwhelming. When the virus is winning, the fire burns.

God never said there wouldn’t be trials. The waters will be deep. The river will swell, and we will walk through trials, BUT the children of the Lord will not be burned or consumed. Why? Because even if what you experience is more than you can handle, it is never more than God can handle. God’s steadfast love sustains you.

Great is His Faithfulness!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His love does not stop when tragedy strikes. His mercies don’t end when the diagnosis is grim. They are new every morning, including the mornings when the waters swell, the fire burns, and the pain is deep.

Great is His faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23)

 

 

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[i] http://psalmreflections.blogspot.ca/2009/11/steadfast-love-of-lord.html
[ii] http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/jason-soroski/what-is-steadfast-love.html