When I feel defeated in my parenting…

I recently went on a band field trip with my 7th grade daughter. I was looking forward to supporting her and spending the day with her. Middle school girls, however, are complex creatures. There’s a whole lot going on in that 12-year old body, with thoughts and feelings that she doesn’t understand. I knew my daughter wasn’t thrilled that I was going with her, but it wasn’t until I was stuck on the bus with her that I realized how much she really didn’t want me there. Her actions clearly said that she was not comfortable with my presence. She just wasn’t herself. She was distant and impolite, not just to me, but to another mother and daughter as well. My child was a stranger, and as a parent I just felt defeated.

I felt like everything she had been taught was gone. The child that I generally have a great relationship with was gone. She had been replaced by this person who didn’t act the way she’d been taught to act. She had been replaced by someone who didn’t want anything to do with me.

After the trip I cried and prayed, and by the time my daughter came home from school I was almost ready to talk to her. She walked in the door and started chatting just like her usual self. And just like that she was back – the child that I know. She didn’t understand why I was crying. “What’s wrong, Mom?” she asked.

What’s wrong is that I feel like a failure. I don’t understand how my daughter could push me away all day and then think everything is fine. I just want our usual relationship back. I’m tired and overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do, and I feel defeated.

Choosing to Love

And then I remember how much I love this child.

I look at her and remember how God has loved me through my own growing and changing. He loved me even when I didn’t understand what I was doing. He showed me grace even when my actions said  “I don’t want You here.”

I choose to love my daughter the way that God has loved me. I put aside my hurt and disappointment…and I forgive.

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15

I remind my daughter of who God created her to be. I remind her of what her actions should be. Settling for less is not an option, and I will not give up on her. I love her too much.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I let her know that while her actions disappointed me, I still love her and always will. For that is exactly what God has done for me. He has shown His love to me again and again, even when I ignored Him and pushed Him away.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 The Perfect Example

My children will never be perfect, and I will never be a perfect parent. It’s not my job to be perfect. It’s my job to love and guide my children even when they don’t want my presence and guidance. My job is to constantly remind them of who God created them to be – with the same grace and patience that’s been shown to me.

When I feel defeated as a parent, I will not give up. I will follow the perfect example set by my heavenly Father.

I will love my children anyway.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

Bible Study with Kids: Esther

We’ve been studying the book of Esther with our children for the past six months as part of getting ready for Bible Bowl at Lads to Leaders convention this year. We have read through and discussed the book three times. Each of my children could tell you the story with all of its gory details, but we were still getting confused with all of the names and dates. This weekend we decided to come up with a visual way to review the book that you might find helpful as well.


We decided it would help to be able to see everything at once. Each child picked out a piece of poster board. (Their favorite colors, of course!) We made three headings across the top: WHEN – WHAT – WHO. For each chapter, we would identify when the chapter took place, what happened in that chapter, and who the main characters were. Esther has only 10 chapters, so they drew 10 rows under the headings, one for each chapter. You may notice in the pictures some rows were drawn more precisely than others!

Each child had the choice to draw or write out what happened. (This led to some interesting pictures.) Under the “WHO” section, they
could add character details as needed. So, each child’s poster board was as unique as the child who created it.

Creating these was fun. It was interesting to see all of the names on the same page, and to notice that sometimes years passed from one chapter to the next. We found it to be a great way to get a better picture of the book of Esther. If you’re looking for a different way to study the book of Esther, I recommend giving this a try.
It’s good for us grown-ups, too!




Not why I gave her the phone

This weekend I rode in the car with my oldest daughter for about twenty minutes in silence. It felt like I was completely alone. That child was glued to her phone the whole time. I could have asked her to put it down, and she would have with no argument. In situations like this I usually do remind her that the person she is with is more important that whatever is on her phone.  However, this time I was curious to see what would happen if I didn’t say anything.

She never even looked up. In my optimism I thought that if we rode and I said nothing, that would give her a chance to talk about anything that might be on her mind. I was looking for conversation – but received silence instead.

The irony, of course, is that I’m the one who gave her the phone. She has the phone to be able to communicate with her parents when we’re not with her. She had it with her that day because we had been running, and she uses an app that helps her log her runs. It comes in handy, but the very thing that I gave her because I love her and want to be able to communicate with her was currently having the opposite result. The two of us riding in silence was not my plan. That is not why I gave her the phone.

So we drove along side by side, with my daughter absorbed in the phone that I gave her, and me just waiting for her to put it down and talk to me.

My own blessings

I thought of my own heavenly Father who has given me so much, and I wonder if He sees me often distracted by His blessings and thinks That’s not why I gave you that. I didn’t give you that so you could ignore Me.

God gives me the choice as to how I use His blessings, just as I did with my daughter. I can use them with God’s purpose in mind, or I can use them for my own enjoyment and ignore the very one who gave them to me.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

If I find that something is keeping me from my relationship with God, I can be sure that either it did not come from God, or that I am not using it the way He intended. God wants us to be near Him, communicating with Him. He wanted that so much that He sent Jesus to die for us – just so we could be near Him.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  Ephesians 2:13

God has blessed me with so much. It is easy to become so absorbed in enjoying His blessings that I begin to think of them as mine. Those blessings are not mine any more than that phone is my daughter’s. I need to remember the source and the purpose of all that God has given me. God wants us to enjoy His blessings, but He also wants us to remember Him. He wants us to talk to Him. More than that, He wants us to abide in Him.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:4

We can choose to abide in Jesus. We can choose to use God’s blessings for His purpose instead of letting them distract us from Him.

Putting down the phone

Let’s not ride through life too distracted to see God. He sits there right beside us just waiting for us to remember Him. He sits waiting patiently for us to put down our phones, turn our faces to Him, converse with Him, and abide in His presence. 

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 1 John 2:28