• Family,  Family Relationships,  Watercolor

    The Seasons of Marriage

    I remember being a little girl and dreaming of my prince charming. Playing with makeup and fluffy dresses, I pretended to be a princess. Back then life was a fairytale.

    When I grew up, I still thought life was a fairytale. I met Josh and thought he was the one. My prince. The man that would complete me, fulfill me, and be everything that I needed.

    I married him.

    My fairytale shattered.

    Less than a year into our marriage, I lay on our overstuffed green striped chair in the living room crying. Was this going to be my life forever? Would he ever understand me?

    If I could write to my younger self-to the girl crying in the chair, this is what I’d tell her.

    Walk with Jesus.

    I know it sounds cliché. But he is your anchor. More than anything, you need Jesus.

    When your husband doesn’t see things from your perspective, walk with Jesus. Ask Jesus to open your eyes to see life from His perspective.

    When you are tempted to cast blame, and point out all of your husband’s short comings, walk with Jesus. Replace the blame with kind encouraging words.

    Marriage is made up of seasons.

    Some seasons are sad. Some are full of unspeakable joy. And most of the time, seasons are not forever. But no matter the season in your marriage, keep walking with Jesus.

    I know. The theme is redundant-this always walking with Jesus. But there is no hope apart from him. Your problems are often God’s furnace…he’s making you and your husband into gold-burning away the dross. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Let the brokenness fall away and give yourself over to Jesus completely.

    So, sit up in that chair. Wipe your eyes. I’m going to tell you something that will make your head spin. You ready?

    Jesus rescues you. He’s the real prince. He lived and died to prove how much he loves you. The day you make your marriage about Jesus is the day your marriage becomes a beautiful portrait of the Gospel.

    And surprisingly, I still see that life is sort of like a fairytale. My fairytale version of marriage shattered, but Jesus picked up those pieces, melted away the dross (he’s still melting some of the dross away), and he’s making our marriage a picture of the Gospel. Jesus came and loved me in my darkest moments. He died in my place. But he didn’t stop there, he gave me more.

    In fact, one of the greatest gifts he’s given me is Josh. My husband. My best friend. Josh forgives me for my darkest moments; and I forgive him for his darkest moments. He loves me no matter what; I love him no matter what.

    And now that I think about it, that sounds like an incredible fairytale to me-Forgiveness and Unconditional love.

    So remember- walk with Jesus.


  • Family,  Family Relationships,  Watercolor

    Loving Unlovable Children

    I started a blog post about this early last week. It was almost finished, then I deleted it.

    Here’s the truth about loving your kids when they’re unlovable.

    It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes there are lots of tears. Sometimes there’s anger at yourself-your kids. Love doesn’t come naturally. When do we ever want to hug the person who rolls their eyes at us? When do we ever want to chase after the heart of a person who consistently reminds us of our mistakes? Does it ever become easy to love your child when they throw that temper tantrum in the middle of Target?

    I’m not having a light conversation here, this is real stuff.

    The stuff of motherhood often makes us want to run to our bed and cry. Cry because we’re lost and we have no idea what we’re doing. How do you do this? How do you love them when you don’t even know if your doing this mom thing right?

    Well, I could give you a list of how-to’s to deal with them. In fact, my first draft was just that. It was a how to guide-but seriously, how can you write a how-to guide for every mother in the universe. We all have our stories. We’re inside our lives struggling through things like the terrible twos, depression, wondering if we’re enough- all while trying to raise these tiny humans.

    We have our stories. You have your story.

    Maybe you’re at the end. Maybe you don’t know what’s next. You read your story and feel hopeless because motherhood is hard. You’re wondering what in the world to do. How do you do this mom thing? How do you love these kids when they aren’t lovable? And even when they are lovable, how do you do it? How?

    As I write the question, I’m screaming it out in my soul. “God, write it on the sky!? Please, God I beg you. I can’t do this alone.”

    Then a quietness suddenly fills me, and I realize something.

    The inaudible voice says something like a whisper in my heart, he says, ” It’s impossible to know how to love your children unless you first experience God’s love for you.”

    Have you ever experienced God’s love? This isn’t a touchy feely kind of love. It’s the real thing. Tangible. Life-changing. Turn your world upside down kind of love.

    Recently, I’ve been reminded of his love.

    There’s this story in the Bible-it’s one of my favorites. It’s about a woman caught in adultery. Yeah, that’s right. She’s caught having sex. And she’s brought out in front of the people-the people who have been judging her for her whole life -and they all pick up their stones. They snarl at her. Look at her like she’s worth less than the dirt they’re standing on. Disgust. Loathing. Condemnation fills them. And there she is in the middle. Maybe she has a sheet wrapped around her body. She’s shaking. Her shame evident to the entire world.

    And the people look at Jesus and they ask him, “What are you going to do with this sinner?!”

    As if Jesus should be taking up his stone. But he bends down and randomly starts writing in the sand. The Bible doesn’t say what he wrote. But finally, Jesus looked up into the eyes of the people who surrounded this woman and said, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Can you imagine the woman? Her head down in shame afraid to look at anyone. But then suddenly she hears something drop to the ground. She glances carefully over to the sound and sees a rock. One by one, the stones fall to the ground and finally no one is left but Jesus. He is the only one who can throw the stone. But he didn’t.

    He doesn’t throw stones at you either.

    No, Mama, you aren’t perfect. And sometimes it feels like everyone is throwing stones at you. But take heart, the One who matters doesn’t throw the stone. He looks at you and says, “I forgive you. Now go and sin no more.” He forgives you. He loves you more completely than anyone else in the world.

    Instead of crying on your bed at night wondering what to do, go to the One who never throws stones.

    When you are in rapture over His love, you’ll be more ready to love your children.

    When you understand God’s love, you see your child’s hunger for sin as a longing to fill himself with something other than God. You’ll begin to see them as searching souls who desperately want to fill themselves up with emptiness.

    But here comes the most beautiful part of motherhood.

    Mama, you get to show your children how much God’s love has changed you.

    You get to tell them why you do right. You get to show them how beautiful it is to be forgiven and loved no matter what you do.

    So, Mama, if I could tell you how to love an unlovable child? This is what I’d say-

    Fall in love with Jesus everyday. We can’t do this without him. And no matter what your story is, He’ll lead you to love them just the way they need you to.

  • Family Relationships

    How I Taught My Tween Daughter About Sex

    Okay. Okay. Deep breath, you guys. The “sex talk” doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation. I promise. In fact, it can be the talk that draws you closer to your children. Say what? No really, it can. Here are a few things I did before I began teaching my tween daughter about sex.

    Build A Relationship

    Have you ever had someone give you advice without first showing that they care about you? Yeah, I have. It’s no fun. I rarely listen to someone who hasn’t first built a relationship with me. Before you ever talk to your tween about purity and sex, build a relationship with them. And never stop.

    Building a relationship with your child is crucial. Without a good relationship, your child won’t care what you teach them about anything-especially sex.

    I tell my children often, “You can talk to me about anything? Boys you like. What you’re feeling. What’s right or wrong in a certain situation. Anything at all-you never have to be afraid of asking me anything-even if you’ve done the wrong thing. I love you no matter what. Don’t ask your friends. I know more than your friends. You’re friends are learning just like you. So if you have questions, come and ask. I’m always here.”

    Be Approachable

    So many friends of mine have told me that their parents never taught them about sex. They just “figured” it out-whether from a porn magazine or a tv show. One friend even said that it wasn’t proper to talk about sex in their Christian home -so they didn’t talk about it. Ever.

    Being an approachable parent is important. I want my kids to come to me before they go to anyone else. I want to be their safe place. When they’re scared, I want them to share their fears with me. When they have a crush on a boy or girl, I want to know. When they have questions about sex, I want them to ask me. Be your child’s safe place.

    Set the Limits

    We talk openly about our body parts around here-long before having “the sex talk”. I have two girls and two boys, so words like boobs, period, and penis are used out loud. I don’t shy away from using the correct terms for the correct body parts. I treat the subjects respectfully, teaching them boundaries. The home is a place you should be able to talk about anything. But the home is the limit. Just because you say those words at home doesn’t mean you should say them else where. Our children shouting the word PENIS in the grocery store aisle is something we want to avoid. I also let my children know that they shouldn’t teach their friends about these specific things. We leave that stuff for moms and dads because it’s their job to teach their kids.

    Evaluate Yourself

    So before teaching your daughter about sex, ask yourself what kind of relationship you have with her? Does she know you are a safe place? Does she know you love her? Do you show it? Are you approachable? Are you making her aware of the correct terms for her body? This isn’t about sex yet-it’s about educating. Assume your children doesn’t know these things. Tell them. Also, remind them every day you love them, and be open about telling them about their body.

    Notice Your Daughter

    While your kids grow, there will come a point when it’s time for the “sex talk.” I think this time is different for every child. Some kids mature faster than others. But as a parent, it’s our job to notice when that time is here. Maybe it’s when your daughter hears something at school that you wish she didn’t hear. Maybe it’s when you notice her body is changing, and she’s starting to talk about boys. Either way, it’s our job to look for the signs. Ask God for wisdom to know when to approach your child. We have to be aware of what’s happening in their lives. And we need to do it intentionally.

    I recently noticed that time was here for my daughter. I’m going to be honest here-at first I was terrified. But I faked it. Ha. Yes, I faked it. I asked for advice. I prayed. I made mistakes along the way, and I prayed some more. Ha! A lot of the time, I wondered if I was doing it right.

    Talk to Your Daughter

    Then a woman, who has grown children, shared a book with me, Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle. This was the book I used as a guide to have conversations with my daughter. We went through it slowly-we haven’t finished it yet. The book is written in two parts. The first part is directed toward the parent, and the second part is directed toward the child. What I love most about the book is that it mentions important topics like the body changing, sex, molestation, pornography, modesty, and homosexuality. Some of these topics may need you as the parent to give more of an explanation. If your child is anything like mine, sometimes it takes more than one conversation for them to comprehend what your teaching them.

    Books

    Ask Your Daughter Questions

    As I was teaching my daughter, we’d stop often. I’d ask her questions like, “What do you think about that?” “Explain sex in your own words.” “What does God’s Word say about modesty?” “Why do we want to be pure?”

    I tried my best to address her heart. We, as parents, can give a list of rules to our children; but rules often fail to reach the heart. I long to see my children desire to live a pure life because they’ve experienced the Lord Jesus working in their lives. I don’t what them to do it because I said so. I want them to do it because Jesus is crazy in love with them.

    Chase your child’s heart. Love them like Jesus has loved you. Unconditionally. With abandon. Relentlessly pursue them.

    No one ever told me chasing my child’s heart meant choosing bravery over timidity. But it does. I asked my daughter recently, “Did you ever feel awkward talking about sex and all that stuff?” Her answer: “No, I love talking to you.”

    You never know the difference you make as a mom. I know I didn’t.