With soccer season in full swing, Ben stayed in denial. The pain would surely go away if he just walked it off or maybe if he iced it or maybe if he stretched it some more. He didn’t even mention it to me or his dad for several weeks as it grew worse and worse. His play on the field led his team to an almost perfect record. He never left the field, often playing the whole game and usually scoring at least one goal and assisting on others. So, after the most recent victory when he should have been all smiles and energy, tears gently joined the sweat on his jersey.
“What is it Ben?”
“It just hurts so bad. I thought it would get better. I thought I could work through it, but it hurt to even walk.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“A couple of weeks,” he replied.
“I think we need to check into it then,” I said as we slowly walked to the car. He was limping now with each step. Everyone who passed asked if he was okay. The coach expressed his concern about his star player. I said I’d keep him in the loop.
A painful silence rode home with us. Ben cried and I prayed. I didn’t know what was wrong with Ben’s heel, but I prayed for the doctor we would see and the diagnosis we would receive. And I prayed for Ben, for his heart and attitude. And I prayed for healing.
Soccer games are usually on Saturday for us, so Ben didn’t do much that weekend. Finally I secured an appointment for Monday afternoon. The doctor embodied experience and wisdom. The date on his diploma reflected maturity. Ben liked him immediately. Gentleness and kindness exuded as he spoke with Ben about his injury and his pain. He listened to Ben tell about how the pain had increased and how he had though it would go away.
After some x-rays the doctor returned. He said that Ben had calcaneal apophysitis or Sever’s Disease. It is actually quite common in young athletes because of the repetitive stress and sometimes trauma they put on their feet. So, Ben’s pain had a name. But then the doctor told Ben what it would take for him to heal: 10-14 days of no activity. No running. No jumping. No track. No soccer. Ben’s interpretation: no fun.
The doctor spoke firmly, telling Ben that he had to rest to heal his heel. He said that Ben needed to take care of his body and that failing to do so could result not only in more pain, but more severe damage to his foot. Ben was fit for custom heel supports to put inside his shoes. These he would wear in all of his shoes until he outgrew them. The doctor’s words began to discourage Ben. Frustration and even anger began to grow in his heart.
Again a painful silence hovered in the car as we drove home. Tears fell on Ben’s t-shirt as he stared out of the window. And again I prayed. Finally Ben said, “Why did this have to happen? This means that I can’t play the game on Saturday.”
I had already thought through all of the implications of his injury. These next 10-14 days had the potential to be long and hard. I didn’t rush to answer his question, but let it hang in the air. As it did so, a list of my own hurts and pains rushed through my head. Loneliness and betrayal, misunderstandings and lies—none of it physical, but all of it painful. My own wounds had sidelined me too. Why did that have to happen?
We both wrestled with the same question as we drew nearer and nearer home.
He is faithful
God is always in the process of doing two things: glorifying Himself and growing us. This I know to be true. My issues, my pains I have wrestled through many times. I have called out to Him begging for the pain to stop, pleading with Him to heal and restore. And although I know He is able, eliminating the hurt isn’t always what’s best. He often uses the hurts and pains and losses to draw me nearer to Himself, to teach me, to grow me, to prove Himself faithful.
Now, with both of our faces wet with tears, I began, “Well Ben, this I know. God doesn’t waste anything. I’m so sorry about this. The doctor said that there is probably nothing we could have done to prevent it. So here we are with at least 10 days stretched out before us. I know that it’s hard and frustrating to consider all that you can’t do, but what if instead you focus on all that God might do? I don’t mean that it will be easy, but I’m betting God wants to show you something amazing.”
My words were met with more tears and, “Oh, mom!” My heart was breaking for him. Ben just wanted to run and jump. He just wanted to go to practice and play his game on Saturday. Ben didn’t want to be still for 10-14 days. At 12, he knew God and His love, but this was a level of intimacy with which he was unfamiliar. He moped into the house and I followed, praying.
With each day, Ben grew grumpier and grumpier. The tension in the house built to a crescendo one morning at breakfast. Frustration erupted onto an innocent sibling. I had seen it coming and I understood it too well. I had done that too. I took him aside into another room. Tears again. Not angry, not furious. Broken. His tears were familiar to me too. Those same tears had run down my cheeks many times. Tears of hard fought surrender. He yielded and we hugged. He saw clearly what his unchecked anger had done to his brother and he sincerely apologized.
“So Ben, how can I help you? There are still at least seven more days. What can I do to help you trust God with this?”
“I don’t know. It’s really hard.”
“Yes it is. It’s hard to watch. That’s why it’s so important to remember what we know, that God loves you and that He doesn’t waste anything.” And even as I spoke these words to him they washed over the tender places in my heart, bringing comfort and peace.
As the days wore on, Ben’s attitude improved. He relaxed and even accepted his restrictions. We went to his soccer game to cheer on his team. His presence surprised them and they won their game. Now we marched toward the follow up appointment peacefully. The doctor commended Ben with his progress. Although he would be required to continue wearing the heel supports consistently, the doctor released Ben to resume his regular physical activities. He could run and jump again. And he could join his team to play their next game.
On our ride home Ben’s anticipation filled the car. He could hardly wait for practice and the game. We agreed he had never looked forward to running and jumping like this before. In fact, he realized that there were activities he’d taken for granted. Not any more. The week finished with yet another soccer game victory and smiles all around.
That Saturday night as I prepared for bed, Ben knocked on my door and asked to come in. “Of course,” I said.
“Mom,” he began, “I wanted to tell you what God showed me through this whole thing.” I paused folding towels. In my own relief of his healing, I’d forgotten to ask what God had shown him, what he’d learned.
I turned around and looked at his bright blue eyes as he said, “Mom, God taught me that I can trust Him. He really does care for me.” Joyful, thankful tears now wet his hair as we hugged in celebration of His goodness. Ben felt so personally touched. We had grown in faith together and God was glorified.
What hurts or wounds or pains is God allowing because of His love for you? In what areas are you holding on to the hurt instead of leaning into His faithfulness and love? Surrender to His faithfulness. Worship His Goodness. Trust His will. Have faith. He knows. He cares. And He loves you.
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy,
Down in my heart!
Down in my hear,
Down in my heart!”
Singing this song at the top of my lungs was the high point of every summer. Summer meant vacation Bible school. Vacation Bible School meant friends and games and cookies and Bible stories and lots of singing. I loved the singing.
Throughout my childhood, into my teens, twenties, thirties, and forties, through school, moving, dating, studying, marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, sleepless nights, toddlers, potty training, “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart!”
Only sometimes I haven’t felt it.
For the purpose of this discussion, I’m defining joy as a peaceful, calm, deep, profound, settled contentment in God’s glory and goodness. It is the confident knowledge that God’s got it. Whatever ‘it’ is. Joy doesn’t allow the circumstance to define the attitude. It doesn’t allow the loss or the frustration or the misunderstanding to cloud our focus or understanding of Him.
Joy doesn’t mean we’re always happy, smiling or laughing. It’s deeper than that, It’s a peacefulness, an inner centeredness that stabilizes us. It’s founded on a high view of God, an acknowledgement of man’s depravity. We acknowledge who God is and who we’re not. We stop trying to dictate to Him, manipulate Him or bargain with Him. Instead we recognize Him as the King of kings, the Lord of lords as Master, Creator, Sovereign of the universe. And as such we yield to His perfect plan, His will and way.
This recognition, this acknowledgement, allows us trust Him. Joy doesn’t demand complete understanding or special insight into what God is doing. It doesn’t mean that we don’t wrestle or question. Both of those are legitimate aspects of our relationship with God. It means that we wrestle it through and don’t give up. We begin and end the wrestle with God seated on the throne. That isn’t the issue. That is established.
We grapple with life as it gets crazy and complicated, full of conflict and completion. In Psalm 46.10 we are encouraged to ‘cease striving and know He is God’. We don’t have to contend with His position, though we battle our enemy and the realities of living in the world. Through it all He offers us opportunity after opportunity to choose joy. He offers us shelter from the storms of life as our Tower and our Refuge.
Joy is found when we rest in Him and stop struggling, stop worrying, stop stressing about our life circumstances. It means that we stop focusing on how something will work out and trusting that He works all things for His glory and our good. It means we sing His praises when we don’t understand, when we are tired, lonely and overwhelmed.
In Jeremiah 8.10 the prophet declared to the people, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. This is the key: We find the strength we need to live each day based on the joy of the Lord. We often think that we could obtain joy if we understood how things would work out or if we could have some assurance that everything would be okay. We think that knowledge would give us strength. Instead, God asks us to find our joy and subsequent strength in Him.
Remember the definition? Joy is a peaceful, calm, deep, profound, settled contentment in God’s glory and goodness. Joy is in fact, ‘down in my heart’ and yours. Joy isn’t shallow; it’s deep. Circumstances are often surface, the little things that frustrate and throw us off. And when life’s issues cut deeper, they intersect with the deep joy
And then we get broadsided with life. It’s at those moments I don’t want to sing. I don’t want what that down deep joy offers. I don’t want to sing about it much less allow it to affect me. No, want to cross my arms and pout. I want to throw a pity party for myself. I don’t want to think about God. I want to think about me and my rights and how hurt and offended I am. It’s a pretty ugly picture.
That brings me to another aspect of joy. It’s chosen. There are joyous occasions in life that overwhelm our senses, moments when our ability to revel in God’s goodness and grace are easy. Those are the times we rejoice without even really thinking about it. We laugh and smile and sigh.
Most of the time joy doesn’t just happen but the good news is that it is always available. We must choose it. We must choose to rest in Him, to sing through the storms, to dance in the rain, to trust Him through it all.
Joy remembers the assurance we have of eternal life with Him. As believers in Christ Jesus, as we put our faith in His death on the cross, we have the hope of heaven. This is the “joy of my salvation” that the psalmist writes about. This is the joy that focuses not on the here and now, but the eternal. This is not all there is. Joy, a peaceful, calm, deep, profound, settled contentment in God’s glory and goodness grants us strength for the day, the ability to smile, to rejoice in Him.
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy,
Down in my heart!
Down in my hear,
Down in my heart!”
A dried up glue stick
A used band aid
Half of an eraser
An empty chocolate wrapper
An unused tea bag
An unsharpened pencil
A small spring
Lots of crumbs
Several pieces of chalk
A package of ketchup
A plastic fork
A ball of twine
An empty Chapstick
Two small tubes of lotion, both empty
The official Carman Family junk drawer is in the kitchen. It is supposed to have handy writing utensils, a post-it pad, some scissors-yeah, right-some tape, maybe a Sharpie, you get it, miscellaneous stuff. But those things are not usually in there.
It’s supposed to be a place we can go to quickly to grab some essential tool to complete a task. It’s not supposed to be hard to open. It is. It’s not supposed to be filled with trash. It is. It’s not supposed to constantly be disorganized. But it is.
It’s supposed to be neat, clean and handy.
Instead in our junk drawer contains things that should be in the trash. Why do we even bother to open the drawer and put these things in? The trash can is right beside it. Why do we stuff the drawer full? Why do we avoid cleaning it out? Why do we put it off till we can’t close it out anymore?? Why do we hope someone else will do it and we won’t have to?
Our family junk drawer is like my heart, my mind. It’s supposed to be a place where useful and helpful truths are stored. It’s supposed to be neat and clean. It’s supposed to be full of God’s love and His praise. It’s supposed to be easily opened not jammed shut. But it isn’t.
Often my heart and my mind are full of trash, things that are polluting my thoughts and attitudes and actions. I have stuff there, I put stuff there that contaminates me. Instead of being pure in word and deed, my thoughts and my heart become trashed.
This happens when I don’t practice discernment about what I put in. When I just allow whatever to enter into my mind–whatever music, whatever television show, whatever movie, whatever book, whatever whatever. When “whatever” sets my standard, I’ve chosen to passively poison my heart and mind with junk, useless, broken, worthless junk that needs to be in the trash.
Capitol One currently has a successful advertising campaign featuring Samuel L Jackson who simply asks, “What’s in your wallet?” For many, bank accounts, credit limits and other financial assets are what’s most important. But Scripture tells us, it’s a heart issue.
God asks, “What’s in your heart?”
Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. My junk hinders me. Junk does that. It gets in the way of our ability to function. It inhibits our focus and often frustrates us too. I can’t find a sharpened pencil in the drawer for all of the broken ones there, can’t find a clean piece of paper for all of the wadded ones, can’t find a piece of tape for all of the empty rolls.
The last time I cleaned out the kitchen junk drawer, I determined to pause before I put anything it. I decided to resist the urge to just stuff something in, to avoid thinking it doesn’t matter, to throw away trash. So far, so much better.
Now, about my heart. Scripture admonishes me to “guard my heart”. To store up for myself “treasures in Heaven”, to “love the Lord with all of my heart”, and in doing these things, there’s not any room left for junk.
The best way to guard my heart is to be intentional about what I allow in it, to actively resist allowing junk in. Storing up treasures in Heaven is best achieved by filling my heart with His truth and serving others. And loving the Lord starts with how we live each day, acknowledging and worshiping Him in all we say and do.
Do you have a junk drawer or closet or garage that you are putting off cleaning out? Why are you avoiding the task? Make an appointment with yourself to get it done. What about your heart? Is it overflowing with the love of God or is it crammed with junk? Make of list of things that need to be cleaned out.
Take some time now to pray and praise Him, this is the first step to cleaning out your heart.
We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…make a plan for actively guarding your heart and keeping the junk out.
What a powerful way to start off the year by praising God! Take a moment to read through all of Psalm 145 and then dare to go deeper with the study questions below. Remember you can download and print out the passage and these study questions so that you can mark it all up and take notes.
The LORD is
List all of “Your” or “His” phrases. What do you learn from this list?
Given this list, who is this about?
The Psalmist lists some actions he is going to take. They begin with “I will”.
List the actions that both “men” and the next generation will do.
Three times in this passage, verses 8-9, and 17-18, the Psalmist write, “The Lord is…” List the characteristics . (There are 4 in verse 8 alone.)
What does the Lord do for all who fall down in verse 14?
What does the Lord do for those who love Him, verse 20? What does this verse say He will do to the wicked?
Verse 21 concludes by reiterating a commitment to praise the Lord. Who else will praise the Lord? How does Philippians 2.9-11 relate?
Which one of the following causes you to praise the Lord?
His mighty acts
Take some time to praise Him now!
I found myself reflecting, recently, on the immeasurable depths of God’s love. In 2006 I penned these thoughts in my journal. With a tender heart I gained new appreciation for the beautiful love the Father has for us, His wayward children. I hope these thoughts bless you as we begin our month-long look at this precious love.
It’s happening again.
I had just changed Ben. It had been a doozie. And with it packaged and disposed of, I just wanted to hold my little boy. I just wanted to remember back to when he was just a little wad, less than ten pounds. Back to when we would snuggle and nurse. Back to when sleep was elusive, but the midnight feeding was more precious even than rest. Back to when he lived on my breast or hip, when he totally depended on me, when I was his world.
That is no longer true. No, now he weighs twenty-five pounds and gaining. He loves to run and jump and play. He drinks from a cup, feeds himself and sleeps through the night. And I miss his dependency on me.
So as strange as it might sound, I am not too anxious for him to be out of diapers. I mean I am but I’m not. I am for the obvious reasons, but I’m not because I love talking with him in the process and hug that follows.
Just a couple of days ago, when I had finished changing him, I picked him up and turned out the light in the laundry room. I wanted to hug him, just to snuggle with him for a minute.
But he was squirming. “I want some orange juice,” he said.
“Okay,” I replied, “Lets just cuddle for a moment.” And I pulled him close.
But he wasn’t interested. He put both hands on my chest and said, “I want some orange juice!”
“In a minute, let’s just be quiet for a moment.”
Reluctantly, he put his head on my shoulder and then popped it back up. Thoughtfully he told me, “It’s in the ‘frigerator,” as if I did not know.
“I know,” I said as I slowly rocked him back and forth to the Mozart in the background. But he wasn’t falling for it. He was singularly focused on orange juice. He did not want to snuggle, didn’t appreciate my memories of his infancy, and couldn’t imagine the depth of my love for him. He just couldn’t. He didn’t even try.
Do You Get it?
As I stood there hurt by this realization, that my moment with my little boy, inhaling his scent, rubbing his head, enveloping his little body in my arms, was going to be interrupted by something as trivial as physical thirst and a desire for orange juice over a hug with me, I got it. Do you see it?
I am baby Benjamin. I want God to take care of my stinkies, but then I want to run off and play. I want Him to get me some OJ, without the hug. I want to tell Him exactly what I want and where He can find it, and I want Him to get it for me now. I don’t want to wait, not even to pause. I am not particularly interested in waiting even a little bit for Him to fulfill my request.
Snuggle? In the darkness? Couldn’t we do that later, like after He gets me the OJ? And the part about being quiet together…why? Listen to what? The dryer run? The birds sing? The train in the distance? His heart beat?
Yes, His heart beat.
I am convinced that far too often we know what we want, where it is and we know Who can get it for us. And we are more interested in getting it, than getting Him. We even sometimes rudely tell Him what He can do for us, as if He hasn’t already done enough. I mean after all, wasn’t the sacrifice of His Son enough? Forgiveness of sin, debt paid, mercy extended enough? But there’s so much more.
The gift of heaven.
Forever with Him.
And here is where we miss it. At least where I miss it. We want to put off those hugs with our heavenly Father until eternity. He wants to start now. But why wait? He wants to hold us in His arms and rock, just the two of us, He wants us to be so quiet that we can hear His heart beat as our head rests on His chest. But we put Him off, content for someday when He wants to get started today.
I had to sit Benjamin down on the island of the kitchen to retrieve his juice from the refrigerator, right where he said it was. And He was grateful- complete with a juicy ‘thank you’. But I had wanted to give Ben more than something, I had wanted to linger with him, just to be with him, unencumbered by any thing.
And so does my heavenly Father. He wants more from our relationship than to merely act as my personal cosmic genie, who grants my every wish or whim. He wants for me to be satisfied with just being with Him, resting in Him, trusting Him completely.
He wants me to be more interested in the love in His eyes than the gift in His hand.
He wants me to listen for and hear the beat of His heart and ultimately for our hearts to beat as one.
Does this all mean that He is uninterested in hearing about what I want or need? No, of course not. Just like I appreciate it when Benjamin, or any of my kids, makes me aware of their desires, God likes to hear from me too. That is the kind of relationship He wants, the kind of relationship where we are in constant communication about everything.
But just like I don’t mind knowing or even fulfilling (as appropriate) Benjamin’s desire for some OJ, I would hope that as he grows up and matures, he would come to appreciate our relationship more than stuff. So does my heavenly Father. All too often I am asking Him for things that I should have out grown, the “stuff”, instead of requesting the character qualities first exemplified in His Son, the One to whom I am to be conformed.
Still He Loves
Right now my husband Davis needs a job. We have bills to pay like everyone else. We need health insurance. We need to be putting money away for college. And the good news is that our heavenly Father knows all of that, even before we ask. He knows. In fact He knew all of this would go down and we would be here.
That we would bring our needs to Him is not calling His attention to them, but rather submitting them to His good and perfect will.
I know that what He wants from us now is that we would linger in His arms, head on His chest, listening for His heart. He wants us to relax and not panic knowing that He knows, cares and is in control. He wants us to focus on getting to know Him more intimately, to gaze into His eyes. Just love.
The orange juice will keep….
We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to dwell on the truth that what He wants, truly and verily, is that you would simply linger in His arms and listen for His heart. Be blessed!
Let’s talk about all those repeating New Year’s resolutions. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Every year I get to the New Year, excited to make a new start and then look at the list from last year and just sigh. So many of the things I put on my list remain undone.
It’s really important to take an honest look at this whole New Year’s resolution thing. For some of us it’s exciting and we’re just thrilled and motivated to have a new blank sheet of paper or a new blank calendar so we can try again with a clean slate. But some of us lean into discouragement, and we’re like “Ugh, I don’t want to do that again, I failed, I failed, I failed, I failed, I failed.”
Before we go any further, I just want to affirm one thing: all of us are failures.
All of us have put things on our New Year’s resolutions that we haven’t gotten done. Anyone who tells you that they got all of it done exactly how they wanted is really not being honest. I have never known anyone who got done everything they wanted to do.
So I think we need to give each other a really big hug and embrace the fact that we’re all not getting it all done.
That’s not the point
Writing all. the. things. on a New Year’s resolution list just to go and do them all is REALLY not the point. Instead I want to suggest to you, and I really want to encourage you today that the point, of doing the New Year’s resolutions is to set a focus so that we can aim at something.
I happen to travel a fair amount, God offers me different opportunities to speak across the country or around the world and I have children and extended family that are pretty scattered across the country so I get to go visit. When I get on an airplane, I know that pilot has a a flight plan. I know he is going to follow that plan to deliver me from point A to point B. You can rest assured that I would not get on a plane with a pilot that’s just going to go for a fly that day and was hoping that I would come along for the ride… No. I wouldn’t do that, I want to get on a plane with a pilot that not only knows where he’s going, but has a plan to arrive there.
Like a pilot, I realize that in life it’s important to have that plan, and to be headed in a direction.
The primary direction that we should be headed in is to honor God in all that we say and do.
We need to make sure that we’re focusing on Him. And it would behoove us to plan a few steps along the way that will help us achieve this.
I want you to realize that I’m not coming at this as someone who does it perfectly AT ALL. I’m not coming at this as someone who accomplishes it all, in fact some years are much better than others. Some years, I can look at my list and think “Wow, I’ve really gotten a lot done” and other years I look at the list and go “I didn’t do any of that” and the reasons I don’t get them done are the same reasons you don’t get them done.
Sometimes life interrupts the best laid plans, or we get distracted and allow other things to come in and shift our focus. But in either instance I want to encourage you to not take those momentary failures as an excuse not to sit and make your list of New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I want you to take a fresh approach.
This year, prayerfully seek God as you lay out what you will focus on.
I thought this list from Neilson was interesting and I want to share it because I think you’ll probably relate to these top ten resolutions for New Year’s.
- Stay fit and be healthy
Most everyone wants to put something like this on their New Year’s resolutions. We want to do better than last year. I find it funny that we write New Year’s resolutions right after the holidays and get tempted by all of those sweets that are still hanging around the house. Of course I’m going to put eat healthy on the top of my list! For the last month I have not been doing that. So that’s at the top of 30% of people’s New Year’s resolutions lists.
- Lose weight
Of course we want to look better and stay fit and trim. But I would suggest that it’s not always the physical weight we need to lose, but the stuff of life, I think we all have those responsibilities that we’ve taken on that God would not ordain but we went ahead of him and took it on anyway. Or maybe it’s the stuff that clutters our minds and our houses that’s the weight that we need to lose this year. Take an honest look at your own life, is there something you need to shed?
- Enjoy life to the fullest
This one really resonated with me even though I had already written my New Year’s resolutions for this year. Because so many of us, myself included, get caught up in the doing, that we miss simply being and enjoying those moments that God puts out in front of us every day.
- Spend less, save more
I would have added at the side of this one to Give more. Not just financially, but give more of ourselves to the people around us and not give as much to the computer or our digital lives.
- Spend more time with family and friends
Oh how I would encourage you to do this. This is actually one of the things that I want to do more. This year I have resolved to spend more actual face time with my people. I really hope that in this new year that you and I will take time to be with real people in real time including our husband, children, and friends.
- Get organized
Well my good friend Kristi Clover can help you with this one because this is not my forte. I really do strive to be more organized and file more, my file pile is about 3 inches tall and I’m hoping to get it down to nothing. We can do this!
- Learn something new or have a new hobby
This year I have resolved that I want to become more in touch with my artistic side. I have a son that’s in art school and I just love what he is able to create and I have another one who’s an artist and my daughters write beautifully and I just really want to take time to slow down to take some time to step away from the computer screen and be a little more artistic this year.
- Travel more
I just want to enjoy staying and being around town here in Charlotte. I travel a lot to the airport and I love to be home but we’re actually going to be doing some fun things in our area this year and I’m really looking forward to that.
- Read more
If you’ve been around here for a while you know I am passionate about reading. I recently read some statistics on the amount of people that read and I was actually really disappointed that so very few people actually read after they graduate high school and even less after they graduate from college. That’s so sad to me to know that so few of us are growing our minds by reading. I’m working on a post to share soon that’s my reading list for this year and I really want to encourage you to be growing your mind through reading. One of the books on my list is Love God with All Your Mind by J.P Morlin. He advocates the importance of Christians to be reading across the disciplines to become better people and better advocates for the faith.
There’s more to it
That was a great look at the popular resolutions, and there are really are some important things on that list. But I want to challenge you to take it a little further. I have another list for you.
I want to encourage you to dare to dream.
Sometimes resolutions feel like just a dream that we dare to put on a list. But really, that’s exactly what a resolution is.
What could we dare to dream what we could accomplish by the end of this year with the strength of God.
“The world is yet to see what God can do with a man or a woman fully consecrated to him.” – D.L. Moody
That takes dreaming, friends! What has the Lord put on your mind this year? To change, or to be, or to start. Spend some time listening for a word or two from Him in this area of resolutions.
I also want you to dare to attempt.
It’s really easy for us to want our kids to do great things for God. But mom, what about you? What amazing things are you going to attempt?
For my fiftieth birthday this last October I actually went and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. And while that’s not for everybody, one of the reasons that I did it is that I want to do hard and daring things so that I can continue to inspire and motivate my children to do hard and challenging things.
We need to attempt because it’s in the attempting and in the dreaming is where we find that we’re daring to fail.
There’s a really great movie called “Meet the Robinsons”, it’s a very unique view on how a family deals with failure. Believe it or not, in this movie the family actually celebrated failure. If we’re going to dare to dream this year and if we’re going to risk and attempt we’re probably going to fail, and how we model failure to our children is going to be really important.
I think often we start cutting back on the things that we want to risk, but I really believe that we have an amazing opportunity to continue to risk, to attempt, to dream, and yes fail. And in all of that, we have the blessed opportunity to navigate failure in a beautiful, God honoring way.
I want to dare you to grow.
Grow in the spiritual roots that are laid out Galatians five. Dare to grow in the fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. Look at that list! Where are your strengths where are your weaknesses? Would you dare with me this year to grow your weaknesses and your strengths?
I know all this talk of lists and change and growing and daring can be overwhelming. But trust me friends, it’s not meant to be.
Scripture is heavily laden with pointing us to living intentionally.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who believe in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
If you are feeling down and discouraged and even under condemnation from the enemy because of your past failures, scripture clearly says that is not of God. Rather, His grace is sufficient in our weakness. You are free.
It’s hard for me, a recovering perfectionist, to admit that I didn’t get it all done last year. But by the strength of God alone I can face 2017 and write some of the same things I wrote last year and go forward with the strength that comes from God alone. that is what he calls us to.
“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed” Joshua 1:4
Go forward in God’s strength and look forward to what He’s going to do through you as you submit to Him and live intentionally.
Write it down one more time, and let’s trust Him to work through the list this year.
Praise Him in the middle of the night when the moon shines in the darkness and the crickets sing. In the morning before the sun peaks over the horizon, as the birds begin their chirping. At lunch time when hunger rumbles. In the afternoon when the yawns begin and eyes droop. At dinner alone or around a table, in prayer, in conversation, in reflections about the day.
When it’s sunny or cloudy, or raining or storming. When it’s clear outside or foggy, hot or frosty, humid or dry, lush or not. When the seeds sprout, or the buds bloom, or the seeds fall, and the plants die. As the winds blows, the leaves fall, the snow piles.
Praise Him when love is new, when love is broken, when love is lost. When birth is anticipated, new life arrives, and first steps pitter-patter. When imagination asks, seeks, and knocks. When curiosity wonders, when midnight awakes.
Praise Him in the stillness, in the chaos, during the in-between. When interviews happen, when job offers come, when bonuses grow, when bosses recognize, when bosses don’t. When jobs are lost, savings are depleted, when doubt crouches. When bills pile up, when community supports, when miracles happen.
Praise Him when questions come, yet silence lingers. When time passes, but nothing changes, when hope diminishes, and discouragement settles. When opportunity knocks, challenges surmount, and solutions surprise.
Praise Him in waiting rooms at the vet, during oil changes at the repair shop. In hospitals, emergency rooms, doctor’s offices. Waiting on reports, on return calls, on a prognosis, diagnosis, and treatment options. When tests return inconclusive, benign, malignant. When in remission or in hospice.
Praise Him when you can’t stop shaking, can’t stop the tears, can’t get off the floor, when you wish you could just run away, when you’re out of options, when you’re out of money, when there’s no one to call, no strength to dial, no words to say anything. Praise Him.
Praise Him in peace and in confusion, in understanding and in frustration, in clarity and in distraction. Praise Him when it makes sense and when it doesn’t. On the mountain top and in the valley, when it’s fair and when it isn’t. In betrayal and pain and abuse. In misunderstandings, missteps, misrepresentations, and mistakes.
In joy and excitement with dancing, with wet faces and hands lifted, hope raises. Praise Him!
Praise Him for He is Worthy!
Welcome to the Rooted Devotions! I am so excited to be partnering with a bunch of great Christian writers – mamas like you who love the Lord and are passionate about growing a deeper faith. This month we’re taking a close look at praise. I love, love, love when women band together and unite in something meaningful to benefit the Kingdom and I’m so excited about this project! This month we’ll all be talking about praise – join us every week day for a new devotional thought, join the conversation and let us know what’s speaking to your heart.
As we look ahead to 2017 with all of its known activities and schedules.
As we write in our new calendars and planners with new markers and heightened anticipation.
As we rewrite some of the same resolutions we wrote last year, the year before, and the year before that.
As we set priorities.
Let us resolve to praise Him all year long.
Not just the first few days of January, but all year long. May the praise of Him who alone is worthy characterize our quiet moments, our conversations, our comments, our prayers, our lives.
We don’t have to wait to see what happens to praise Him. We don’t have to worry; we can praise Him. We need not wonder, but rather rejoice in Him.
He is worthy of our praise no matter what. And our focus on Him makes all of the difference. It grants us confidence when we feel weak, hope when we feel depressed, courage when we feel doubt, joy when we feel sad. Praising Him reminds us that He is in control, that He has a plan, that He is victorious, that He is coming back to take us home.
Are you up to a challenge? How about this one: Praise Him every day—every single day. Choose to praise Him for who He is. Choose to begin each day with acknowledging His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His love. Choose to worship Him and sing His praises.
Now, dare to imagine with me what a difference that would make in 2017.
How we submit to our spouse? How we respond to our kids? How we engage with our friends? The culture?
How would praising Him (as we begin each day and through each day) affect how we go about our responsibilities, how we fulfill our roles, how we approach conflict, how we celebrate? I bet we would smile more. I bet we would love better. I bet we would let go of the unimportant. I bet we would serve selflessly. I bet we would be more kind and less judgmental. I bet we would change from the inside out. And I bet we could change those around us, pointing them to Him, praising Him all the time.
You see, when we start making it our mission to praise Him, our perspective changes. We think about Him more, the wonder of the Eternal God, the glory of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, the gift of the Spirit. Our lives become less about us and more about Him. Our focus changes from ourselves to His glory.
Yes, let’s praise Him.
May 2017 be the year when we encourage each other to praise Him on the mountain top and in the valley, in our celebrations and in our disappointments, in our gains and in our losses. May He be our focus: the Unchanging, Almighty, Blessed, Sovereign God of the universe. Holy is His Name.
Will you commit to praising Him along with me? Leave a comment with an idea or two, let’s inspire each other!
I am so excited to announce a great new project for 2017. Rooted at the Throne – Daily Devotions is full of inspiration and renewal. God has brought together an amazing group of writers to bring a series of devotions to the blog. I love speaking to women, inspiring and equipping women, and bringing women together for the glory of our Lord. This project is a beautiful blend of all those passions – I am confident you’ll be blessed if you come along on this journey with us.
Each week day we’ll bring you a devotional thought designed to deepen your faith and inspire your walk with the Lord. Our team is gathered from across the web and I know they’ll bless you.
Here’s one of my favorite parts of the whole project: we are meeting each month to pray for you, dear readers! Please join the conversation in the comments or on Facebook to let us know how the words are speaking to you and how we can pray for you.
Won’t you come along and grow in your faith along with us?
We’ll have a new theme each month where we’ll be looking at a different aspect of our faith, from praise to love, joy, peace, and contentment. Join us as we grow together in our motherhood and our love for the Father.
Meet the Team
I am so blessed by this team. I’m in awe of the words they’ve brought to the project so far and can’t wait to see how each new post unfolds. These devotions are easy to read in just a few minutes whether you’re snuggled into your quiet space, or waiting in a line in the midst of your busy day. The really beautiful thing is they’re handy, you can return again and again to dwell on the inspiring words. I’m sure you’ll be blessed by this amazing team.
Rachael CarmanHost & Writer
I’ve been married to my beloved, Davis, since 1986; our life has been a roller-coaster ride, with God at the controls. We have seven kids and let me tell you our family loves to laugh! I’m an author and speaker and I am passionate about helping moms not only survive motherhood, but draw near to the Father and thrive in motherhood. I love encouraging and inspiring moms to grow deeper in their walk and relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I am passionate about my faith in Christ, my family, and home education. I married Rachael in 1986 and God has blessed us with seven children (two boys on the front end, two boys on the back end, and three girls tucked safely in the middle). We enjoy the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime. I write on home education, training your children, working closely with your spouse, family discipleship, curriculum, living by faith, relying on God for the results, and family life (homeschool edition). My goal is to create affirming, encouraging, challenging, and inspiring content that you can put to work in your family and homeschool.
I’m a homeschooling, blogging, adventuring Momma. My life is definitely busy, but I work hard to be intentional in spite of the craziness that is Motherhood. I love to share things I’ve learned along the way during this Motherhood journey- including being a mom-of-many, homeschooling, single motherhood.
Durenda Wilson has been married for 27years. She is the mom of eight children and nana to four. After more than twenty years of homeschooling, Durenda knows that home educating is an incredible blessing—but only if you don't let it hold you hostage to unnecessary expectations and notions of what it "should" look like. One of her favorite things is helping parents think simply and outside the box so they can homeschool confidently and in a lifestyle that works for their family.
Heidi St. JohnWriter
Heidi St.John has been married to her best friend for 25 years and is the mother of seven children and grandmother of two! She is the author of two books and co-author of a Bible study designed for families called Firmly Planted.
Renaissance Woman Jen Reyneri and her husband Luis often live life on the road with their two home-schooled sons. Popular author and speaker, Jen is founder of WordTraveling.com. Spirited and spirit filled, she savors life, poetic words, sabbaticals and strong coffee. Her best-selling (he)art-filled book, Reset, a Poetic Manifesto for the Digital Age is available on Amazon.
Hi! I'm Jo and the author of Lasting Thumbprints, a blog dedicated to building strong families, encouraging family fun, and joyful homeschooling. Welcome!
Karen DeBeus is an author and homeschooling mom who shares about living simply over at Simply Living for Him. She also speaks at homeschool conventions and events and loves sharing her journey with others- she is all about keeping it real and authentic! She recently founded the Simply Living for Him Retreat as a way for women to gather and seek Jesus together while eliminating distractions of everyday life.
I am my Daddy's (Abba) girl. I have a major crush on my awesome husband. Mom of 6, Mother in Law and "K" (grandma)! Enjoying life in South Carolina with Sword and Coffee. My desire is to daily to worship God and pursue excellence in every area of my life. I write about Faith, Marriage, and Relationships
I am an Oklahoman by birth and current living situation, but claim the world as my playground. I love to travel and hope someday soon to take our family on adventures to far off lands where we can share Jesus with others and experience all the wonders He has created. I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeshooling children ages 7 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of a King! I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, exploring, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills. One day, I hope to run again, but until then I am learning patience.
LaToya Edwards is a Christian Life Coach with a passion for equipping women to grow spiritually through prayer during life's trials. She is also a recovering perfectionist and control freak that loves old movies, good books and strawberry Häagen-Dazs® ice cream. LaToya believes that you can come through any trial stronger in your faith, closer to God and with joy and peace that cannot be shaken!
Laura Prater is a homeschooling mom to three boys. She is married to the love of her life and soul mate, Clay. Clay just retired this past year from the Army after 20+ years of active duty. Laura has had articles published on many websites including National Military Family Association and Military One Click. She currently serves as an area coordinator for National Military Family Association in the south region. Clay, her husband is diagnosed with PTSD, combat induced anxiety and multiple other combat related injuries. It has became a mission for them to share openly about the ups and downs of PTSD with the public. In the Spring they will begin teaching courses for Combat Boot Recovery in their home state of Tennessee. You can find them speaking at various speaking events around the country and sharing about military life, parenting, faith, homeschooling and homemaking over at www.awefilledhomemaker.com
Laura Zielke is a deep thinker and Bible scholar. She is not afraid to question tradition and challenges people to evaluate their beliefs according to the Scriptures. Laura earned her M-Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis on Biblical Studies, Archaeology, and Languages. She has been blessed to serve as a lay leader in local churches for more than thirty years. Having been recognized as an outstanding leader, teacher, and entrepreneur, Laura currently serves on the boards of two non-profit organizations: Triad Ladder of Hope (fighting human trafficking) and Shield Your Faith (an apologetics ministry). She and her husband of 20 years have one 14-year old son who is in the 9th grade and homeschooled. Laura is an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, and enjoys helping people discover more about themselves, the Lord, and their purpose in life. For more information and pictures of cute penguins, visit LauraZielke.com.
Lynn H MosherWriter
Lynn Mosher lives with her hubby (since 1966) in their Kentucky nest, emptied now of three chicklets and embracing two giggly grand-chicklets. Lynn is the keeper of a secret recipe for barbecue sauce, which she may share if you bribe her with enough chocolate. She also hunts for God’s treasures on the road Home, though she does get muddy sometimes. After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000, the Lord whispered to her heart to write for Him. Now, her greatest passion is to fulfill God’s call on her life to encourage others and glorify the Lord with her devotionals and inspirational stories. She writes for several sites and bi-weekly on her site, Heading Home. For more from Lynn, visit LynnMosher.com
Mary Jo TateWriter
Mary Jo Tate is blessed with four wonderful sons and has been educating them at home since 1997; three of them are now in college. Mary Jo is the author of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms and the host of the “Flourish at Home” radio show for the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. She loves teaching moms how to balance their busy lives and how to find peace in the space between the ideal and reality. Connect with Mary Jo at FlourishAtHome.com.
I’ve been married to my amazing husband for almost 18 years. We have 4 young sons who definitely keep us busy and going! Our oldest is 9, next one is 7, then 5 and our youngest is 3. We’ve been homeschooling them since day one and love them all to pieces. You’ll find me writing about all kinds of things. But my heart behind Devotional Motherhood is to write about and share the real kind of life-living that happens in the everyday moments of motherhood.
Melissa Langford is a homeschooling mom of 6 amazing children. She has been married to the love of her life, Stacy, for 20 years. They live in East Tennessee in the renovated home of her great grandparents on land that has been in her family for 4 generations. Melissa is passionate adoption and works to raise awareness about the need for adoptive parents for special needs and medically fragile children. Melissa blogs regularly about the joyful abundance to be found in simple living on her blog BlessedSimpliciy.com
Mom of 4 (one in Heaven) and wife to the one God chose for her. She enjoys her time at home with family and time at activities with her children. She is an author speaker and encourager to Moms who love being at home, but are also on the go with work, activities, sports and friends of all nationalities and religions. She loves sharing Jesus' love and grace in a fast-paced world.
Sherri Seligson is a 21-year homeschool mom and marine biologist. She has authored Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Marine Biology, Interning for High School Credit, instructional DVDs for Exploring Creation with Biology, Chemistry, and The Human Body, and other publications. An international conference speaker, Sherri encourages moms and teaches families the value of studying God’s creation. You can connect with Sherri at www.sherriseligson.com.
Sherryl Wilson is a homeschooling mom to seven & granma to 11. Their family has homeschooled since the early 80's when it wasn't as popular (or legal) as it is today. She and her family have a non profit that helps families in need in the Northern Kentucky area. She can usually be found speaking at a ladies event on being the woman of faith that God calls you to be and writing on her sites, SimplySherryl and TheHomeschoolVillage.
Tauna is a Jesus follower, wife, mom, [domestically challenged] homemaker, homeschooler, and writer. Her passion is to help women pursue God's call on their lives (no matter the learning curve) and rely on Him to equip us for the task! You'll find her at ProverbialHomemaker.com, bringing you encouragement and tools for your journey.
Tricia resides in Virginia with her husband of 20 years, two daughters and their dog. She enjoys reading, glamping (it's like camping sans the dirt) and she's a self-professed coffee addict. Before answering the call to motherhood, she managed large-scale projects and worked on programs for major corporations. She is really a recovering Postmodernist Feminist who seeks to teach and equip peers and the up and coming generations with a Biblical Worldview and doing so with love, respect, chocolate, coffee and at times a side of snark.
Trudie is a daughter of the King, wife, mommy, homeschool teacher, and writer. Her hubby, Ethan and she have been married almost 11 years and together have 4 girls. Trudie loves to read a good book, sip a yummy hot cocoa, and spend a cozy evening laughing with her family. She loves to write! Any free-time Trudie has finds her adding words to paper and creating something new for women to read! She loves to learn, and share what she’s learned to help others. Trudie has a passion for women stuck in their faith and a passion for young moms; as she has been in both these desperate places before. Trudie started a Bible study website called Girls In God’s Word this past year to help busy moms, wives, and women to dig into the Bible! You can find reading plans and resources at GirlsinGodsWord.com. You can find Trudie and the books she’s authored on her blog at Little Learning Lessons.
Wendy Bilbo HiltonWriter
Wendy lives in the South with her husband, Scott, and 3 children. She is a Christian, homeschooling, work-from-home mom. She is involved in her local church, is co-owner of the Hip Homeschool Moms website, and she teaches Training for Warriors classes at her local gym, Everwine Fitness. She and Scott were high school sweethearts and have been married for 25 years. Her oldest child, Hannah, is now age 20, she has autism, and Wendy began homeschooling her at age 2. Her son, Noah, is now age 19 and is the second homeschool graduate in the family. Her youngest child is Mary Grace, age 13, who is a social butterfly and ballerina. Wendy loves reading, eating gluten free, and working out.
I want to take a little break from all the serious talk about That Child. Don’t worry, I still have more insight to share about raising That Child, but I think it’s important for us to keep laughing and understanding that God has a sense of humor even in the midst of all the hard stuff. At the end of the day He’s always trying to do two things glorify himself, and grow us. It’s really good for us to use the gift of laughter that He’s given us, to create a little levity in what can be very overwhelming circumstances with “That” Child.
So I just want to go through this little list, I actually have eleven items, and i’m hoping that at the end of this you will be able to add your own items in the comments below. I’m sure there’s a lot of other ideas that we could all add to this list, let’s start with these:
You might have a “That” Child if…
#1: You might have a “That” Child if they demand all of your attention.
Can I get an amen?! If you have “That” Child, they demand all of you, they demand parts of you that you didn’t even know you had, they demand the exhausted and the tired and the overwhelmed parts of you. The spent parts of you, the parts of you you don’t know what to do with. They demand it all, and they demand it all the time. Yes they do.
I’m here to tell you that when my oldest “That” Child was still at home, I used to go in at night and just watch him sleep, cause he was so still and he looked so innocent. Laying in there in the bed he wasn’t demanding anything of me. And then I would just go cry.
If you have a “That” Child you know exactly what I mean. They demand parts of you, and so much of you, and the glorious part of them demanding so much of you is it means you need that much more of God. See, the blessing of God sending me “That” Child, more than once was that it caused me to have to lean into Him. I knew that I needed Him, because of how much my “That” Child needed me. And when I ran out of me, I needed God. That was the blessing of it.
#2: You might have a “That” Child if their mood is completely unpredictable, moment to moment.
If you have “That” Child, you don’t always know who’s gonna wake up in their room in the morning. They might be totally agreeable and joyful and cooperative and you will want to know who woke up in their room. And they might be that way to breakfast…but after breakfast, you don’t even know what happens, it completely changes. “That” Child’s mood is all over the map, as are their interests, and their curiosity, and their attention, it’s all over everywhere.
“That” Child they can change, and turn around on a dime, and you keep trying to figure out “What did we do to get the cooperative, and what did we do to get the not cooperative”.
Here’s one thing I’m going to tell you over and over about “That” Child for all those times we’re thinking “I don’t know how to do this, this is so hard, this is so tiring” I want us to take the opportunity to pause, and consider what might it be like to be “That” child.
I’m going to propose this: it is hard to be “That” Child. It’s hard for their emotions to be all over the map. It’s hard for them to not know what they’re interested in, or how to pay attention, or how to focus, or how did they get on this, that, or the other thing? They’re wondering all that too.
It’s not just us.
And they deserve more than a little bit of our compassion as they navigate the intersection in those pre-teen and teen years of not just their “That” Child wiring but also those hormones when they kick in. They don’t know themselves – so we could stand to be compassionate and more caring with them.
#3: You might have a “That” Child if you cannot hear them, you know you must find them.
I had two boys before I had any daughters, and I had friends who had girls first and I remember going over to one of my friend’s house who just had daughters and I was like “Uhm, where are the girls?” And she said “Oh they’re in their room playing” And I thought to myself, Wow, what must that be like? My boys, If I couldn’t hear them I needed to find them, and I needed to find them quickly because you know what? They were probably doing something, that they shouldn’t be doing, and that’s how it is!
Not necessarily sneaky, not necessarily deceptive, although that was certainly true, but I’m talking about doing things because they were just so curious. Things they shouldn’t have been messing with. It’s truly what they needed to do. They needed to chase their curiosity but I needed to be around them when they did, giving them permission to be curious.
“That” Child is very curious, “That” Child wants to know things and investigate things, and if we can give them permission to do those things when we’re with them it cuts down on their need to do those in a sneaky way. But you know what I mean, “That” Child is not generally quiet, so if they are, ya need to find them!
#4: You might have a “That” Child if their thinking rarely precedes their actions.
Yes, you know what it’s like. You’ve told them a thousand times, you know you’ve told them, you’ve trained them, you’ve intentionally interjected truth in their lives, and guess what they do? Not what you say.
But it’s not because you haven’t said it, it’s because they aren’t thinking.
Many many many times I would say to mine: “Wait, think. Were you thinking? You need to pause and think. Make sure you’re thinking.” See, they just rush into action. But the good news is, they’re home with us and we can teach them!
If we can have the patience of the holy spirit over and over again we can teach them the power and the importance of thinking before they act.
#5: You might have a “That” Child if graduation seems really far away.
On The heels of one of our most difficult years with “That” Child as a homeschooling family, we went to our state conference in May. We had just been through 9 months of really challenging character issues and self control issues. I’m not even sure how much we actually accomplished in school that year because we were constantly dealing with these issues. Anyway, it got to May and we went to our state homeschool conference. Our state conference offers a senior graduation and I went in to watch it because I felt like I’ve just gotta get some inspiration, it just seems impossible that we are ever gonna make it to graduation with “That” Child.
So I’m sitting there, by myself, and there was this woman behind me and I began to cry and in her compassion she put her arm around me and she said “Which one’s yours?” She asked this as they filed across the stage and I said “none of them, my oldest one is twelve!”
But as I was looking at those graduates I was like “Oh please God, can we get to that? Can we make it to that? Would you give us what we need to make it to that?” On that day, that graduation seemed really far off.
If that’s you today I wanna encourage you to hold on, God’s got this. You’re on a journey, He’s got a plan, hold His hand, and take one day at a time.
#6: You might have a “That” Child if nothing seems to work.
Yes, it’s difficult with “That” Child. I went through all the books, I read The Strong Willed Child, The Sensory Sensitive Child…I mean I read everything I could get my hands on. I was looking for something that I could actually do to help. If they gave me any indication of time out, or putting them over here or doing a chart or whatever they said I was like “Ok we’re gonna try this”
And I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but nothing seemed to work.
And I felt like “My goodness, what am I gonna do?” But again, I wanna tell you, the fact that nothing worked made me again, lean into God, made me go to God. The numbers of times I was on my face just trying to call out to God and say “What do you want me to do? I don’t know how to do this, I don’t know how to train him, I don’t know what to say.” And I would go and God always provided. He always gave me some creative Idea of something to try, He always gave me discernment and the wisdom I need as he dried my tears, and he bonded our hearts together as I leaned into God for that.
So even though it felt like nothing worked from what the world was offering, it gave me an opportunity to go to God and ask God “What do I do for “That” Child? For this specific “That” Child, what do you want me to do?” And He always answered.
#7: You might have a “That” Child if you worry about the effect they’re having on your other children.
This is one of the more serious ones on the list, and I had this in spades when we were going through this really intense time with our oldest, who was “That” Child. I remember just crying out to God and saying “I don’t understand, you sent me 6 more after him, how is it possible? He needs everything! I don’t even know how to do this and I don’t even know if I talked to this child today, I don’t even know if I hugged this other child today and I know I didn’t read to this other child today.”
And I would just cry and cry and cry.
I want to tell you, all of these years later one of the things that we would say to the kids when our “That” Child was having so many problems and one of the other kids would come up and say “What’s wrong? I don’t understand. Why does he have to get so angry? Why does he have to argue with everything? Why does he get so mad?” And we would talk to the other children about this and I would always encourage them to pray for him and we would always pause and pray for him and obviously we prayed with him many many times. Today I can tell you that my kids don’t resent it, that’s not how they remember it because you know what?All of my kids have had issues and we’ve had to pray them all through different things, that just happened to be his thing.
Look, I’ve said this before and it’s very valuable, I wish I knew who to credit with this saying because it is so poignant: “What defines you as a person, is what you believe about God.” And everybody will know that by the way you live, how you give, what you do, and what you don’t do, what you watch and what you don’t read, ok?
What defines you as a family is how you deal with your weakest link, whether that link is a behavior problem today, or some sort of a physical issue, or a mental disability, or an illness, you know like, at your house when somebody is sick at your house it doesn’t mean that you carry on as usual, you tend to the needs of the ones thats sick. And if someone has a learning issue, you tend to the needs of that learning issue.
So, as you’re dealing with “That” Child the rest of your kids are watching and they’re seeing how you deal with that kid, and it is ministering to them, you’re giving them an example of how to deal with their weakest link when they grow up and get married and it’s all about compassion and patience and love, and love, and love, and grace, and grace, and grace.
So the effect it’s having on your children is they’re getting to see God intercede in your family and in you, and do something amazing, as long as you keep pointing everyone to God. The effect on your other kids can be amazingly positive.
#8: You might have a “That” Child if you’ve cried yourself to sleep.
Night after night after night I remember my pillow being just soaking wet cause I just kept feeling like a failure. And you know what? My enemy wanted to keep me in the place where I felt like a failure, he wanted to keep me under condemnation for the days I lost it, for the days I did not allow the Holy Spirit to come and fill me with patience, for the days when I was frustrated and I let him know it, for the days that I didn’t handle it well in a God-honoring way, for the days, you know what, I didn’t wanna ask God, because I knew God was gonna ask me to be patient and I didn’t wanna be.
I would cry myself to sleep, and cry myself to sleep, and ask for forgiveness, and ask for a fresh new day, and you know what? God always gave it.
I wanna tell you, God, in our brokenness that is where He meets us. Over and over, and over in scripture it’s in our brokenness and our desperate need that He meets us, and He comes and does something glorious.
As long as we think we’ve got it, we don’t need Him. But when we know we don’t got it, that we need Him, that He is glorified and we get to grow in our dependency on Him.
#9: Yes, you Might have a “That” Child if you know they know all of your buttons, and they know how to push them all at the same time, regularly.
Yes, My “That” Child was able to find buttons that I did not know that I had, and he was able to consistently push all of them at the worst possible moment. Again, I really believe that the God of the universe, sovereign over all things, has blessed you with “That” Child. This is not a burden, it’s not payback, it’s not a curse, it’s a blessing that God has given you “That” Child To show you your need for God and the opportunity he’s granted you to grow this child into somebody that will glorify his name.
Pushing all your buttons is a blessing!
It’s a blessing to find weaknesses, and failures, and faults that you didn’t know you had, or in my case, I had covered up so well I had learned to ignore. I’m glad that I’ve had that child to point out the issues in myself that I really needed to work on. And that was again when God came and began to heal.
#10: You might have a “That” Child if discipline dominates every day.
Now, I used to have a thing with my “That” Child and when he would disobey during the day I would take away his favorite toy for that day. So let’s say that it was this little train, But, I wouldn’t just take it away from him and put it away, I would take it away and put it somewhere where he could see it and want it, but not be able to get it. And so my husband could walk in, and within five minutes of being in the door he could look at the mantle, and assess how the day had been.
I was looking for creative ways to get this child’s attention all the time. Whether it was putting him in time out, taking away things that he wanted, not allowing him to go and participate in things that he wanted to do, I had charts and graphs going, I was constantly trying to discipline him. Because with these kids what I know is they thrive in consistency but I fail at consistency.
So the discipline was not just disciplining him, but it was learning to discipline myself. The discipline of spending time with God every morning, of praying, of choosing to glorify and focus on God, even in the midst of a really lousy day, just going “Ok God, I’ve blown it. But I Praise you. Thank you for sending me this kid. I thank you, and I praise your holy name for the plan that you have, even though I don’t know what it is right now.”
That’s what it means, everyone of these issues gives us an opportunity to lean into God, or, we can choose to continue to lean into ourselves.
#11: You might have a “That” Child if giving up is really tempting.
I want to encourage you with every ounce of my being, don’t. give. up. Don’t give up on you and your ability to allow the Holy Spirit to work through you and to bless “That” Child, and don’t give up on “That” Child. Too many people already have.
When I started doing this presentation a couple of years ago, I actually called and talked to my “That” Child who is now a college graduate, married with my first grandchild, and pursuing a master’s degree. I called him and asked his permission to continue telling our story, and he said “You know what mom? Tell our story, and tell the moms this: don’t give up on us.”
That is the message from my “That” Child to you as the mom of “That” Child. Now, your “That” Child may not be able to say it to you right now, and it may seem like they’re screaming at you right now to give up on them. But I am begging you, don’t. give. up.
Determine that you are going to trust that God has a plan, and that God has in them a mighty warrior for His kingdom, that He’s given you an opportunity to raise for His glory, and yes, to grow through your junk.
God has a plan.
Remember this mamas: you might have a “That” Child if God has blessed you abundantly, and I pray that you will hug “That” Child, and you will seek God, and you will lean into Him.
In His Grace-
If you would like to read more of my “That Child” series, click here.