Mama Bear

 My children love to ask questions like If you were an animal, what would you be? Recently one of my children asked the others “What animal would Mom be?” Without hesitation my oldest child answered that Mom would be a bear. “What? A Bear?” I asked her. “Yes,” she said, “you know, like Mama Bear who doesn’t let anyone mess with her cubs.” I had never thought of myself as a bear, but a Mama Bear? Ok, yes, I’m ok with that. That describes how I feel about my children and my life, and I’m glad they know I will take care of them. But you know what?

Mama Bears get tired.

Changing Seasons

Some seasons are more tiring than others. Defending my cubs this year has been exhausting.

I hear Satan knocking at our door all the time. When we don’t open the door, He tries to sneak in through various means – media, friends, school. Sometimes we unintentionally bring him in ourselves.

I knew this year would be tough. My children are in three different schools and the oldest started middle school, but I didn’t realize just how challenging that would be. I am emotionally drained from trying to keep my children performing to their potential academically while still keeping them healthy physically and spiritually.

My oldest child went from receiving the top honor at her school in 6th grade to absolutely hating school in 7th grade. The words “I hate school” were uttered for the first time at my house – often by Mama Bear along with her weakened cub.

I have questioned whether this lifestyle is what God intended for us. It has been a struggle.

A Daily Fight

We lost our morning Bible time together due to the pull of getting three children to three different schools on time. This Mama Bear has fought all year for spiritual time with her cubs. Between working nights and various activities, it has been hard. I have tried several ideas which have failed. It is still a daily struggle.

I have began most days by praying that God would help me to see if this is the life He intends for us.

I’m still not sure.

My children have some amazing gifts. I struggle with how to help them best use those gifts.

My daughter took the ACT and scored only one point less than I did when I went to college. She’s twelve years old.

I don’t even know what to do with that.

I look at all the material and options that come her way, and I want to make sure she has chances to grow. The pride of life is a struggle (1 John 2:16). I fight Satan in my own self when I seek the safety of my daughter’s future in her academic abilities. That’s what Satan wants me to do. He wants me to focus on what this world can give her instead of making sure that she knows the One who created her and gave her those abilities. That’s how he sneaks in.

The school year is almost over, and I’m so thankful for a break. I want to reel my cubs in and spend some time nurturing and loving them in the safety of our home. We’ve had a lot of good in our year as well, but right now I’m just so tired of fighting off Satan.

I know it’s not over. Satan never takes a break – not even in summer. Another school year will loom ahead of us before we know it. What I will do with it, I don’t know yet. I have lots of praying to do.

Don’t Give Up

But Mama Bears don’t give up. We don’t lie down and let the predator have our cubs. We do what we have to do to protect our children. We make changes and adjustments as the needs of each season dictate. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I am tired, but I’m not giving up. And I’m not alone. My husband is with me, of course, but we both rely on the larger power of God to get us through.

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:7-10

I trust in God and His promises. He loves my children and wants them to know and love Him, too. He has done so much for us, and I know that He cares.

I have turned to God so many times during this year. I have humbled myself and shed many, many tears. Mostly I just pray “Please help me.” He promises to lift me up. He will help this Mama Bear defend her cubs. I know that He wants them safe as much as I do. Keeping my children out of Satan’s influence is an exhausting job, but it’s mine and my husband’s to do. I wouldn’t trust it to anyone else. And I would never, ever attempt it without God behind us.

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Psalm 127:1


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


Dealing with Disappointment

runningOk, Lord, what can I learn from this? A dear friend taught me to ask that question when things don’t go the way I expect them to. Disappointment led me to ask that question earlier this week. It had nothing to do with the election and everything to do with my oldest child who just finished her first cross country season.

While only a 7th grader, she ran this season with the high school varsity team, a team that just qualified for the state tournament. She has been blessed with an encouraging coach and team, and the season was just overall a good experience. I’m so proud of how fast and strong she’s become, but I’m even more proud of her determination. She’s one tough girl. She has run in the heat and the rain. She’s fallen flat in the mud and gotten up and finished a race. Through everything she never complains. Never. She has been a joy to watch.

With all the good, though, the end of the season left me with a feeling of disappointment.

You see, for the state tournament, her coach only takes the girls on the team with the seven fastest times for the year. My daughter’s was the eighth – by 8 seconds. That means her season’s over, and I honestly wasn’t ready for that.

My mind knows that this is fair. My mind knows that she is young, and that this disappointment will likely make her stronger in the future. My heart, however, is not yet convinced. It hurts to watch your child work hard for something, to be so close, and then be disappointed. While my mind says everything is fine, my heart is sad, and I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of disappointment all weekend.

Ok, Lord, what can I learn from this?

1. We have a hope that does not disappoint.

Just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 9:33

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 10:11

For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 1 Peter 2:6

I love the promise in these verses that we will not be disappointed. I have to experience disappointment to truly appreciate this promise of not being disappointed. In life, there will be things that just don’t go the way I planned. This is a struggle, especially when there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome. It’s hard to hope and plan for something, only to have it not come to fruition. How wonderful that we don’t have to worry about that when we hope in Jesus! I can hope and plan with all my heart knowing that I will not be disappointed.

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

2. I should not set all of my hopes on things on this earth. 

I will hope and work for many things in this life. The same is true for my children. While these goals are good, walking with God must be my first priority. That is the only hope that will not disappoint. Why spend so much time and energy on less worthy goals?

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17

3. Disappointment is part of life.

It’s painful, but sometimes disappointment is necessary to spur us on to greater things. I have no doubt that even though my daughter is disappointed to not go to state with her team, this disappointment will fuel her on to stronger running in the future. Sometimes the disappointments in life spur us on spiritually as well. They remind us that this life is not perfect. There is only one hope that will not disappoint, and we should pursue that goal with everything we’ve got.

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 1 Timothy 4:10

4. I need to teach my children that setting all of their hopes on earthly things is foolish.

God’s promises are the only things to strive for that we can depend on 100%. Everything else is temporary. We can put our whole hearts into knowing and serving God without worry of how things will turn out. We will not be disappointed. What a beautiful promise that is!

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast. Hebrews 6:19