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Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

Dads, Hang in There Through Christmas Chaos.


Christmas gifts

Does your family take a Christmas photo every year? Oh the memories!

And sometimes, oh the headache.

Last year, we managed to get all our kids and grandkids together in the same location, dressed just right for the perfect portrait. But you know how kids are …

Most of our grandkids are toddlers and preschoolers, so if I said it was chaos, that might be putting it mildly. What I remember was kids melting down, running off in the wrong direction, or just about falling asleep. Then, a diaper change and a mess on a sweater.

I mean, is it even worth the hassle for a photo?

Those thoughts did go through my mind that day. And I might be overstating it a bit, but for a while it was not fun. And as a granddad, I wasn’t even involved in most of it.

But when I saw the photo, I never would have known there were all those challenges. Everyone looked great! And 10 or 20 years from now when I look at that photo, I’m sure I won’t even remember what that day was like. I’ll just be thinking about my amazing grandkids and how they’ve grown and changed, and I’ll be wondering where those precious years went.

If your family is anything like mine, there are a lot of holiday events and activities like that. You anticipate the “perfect” meal or evening or outing, but things go wrong. The kids argue and fight. Or there’s a blizzard. Or you can’t get in to see the Christmas play. One thing builds on the last, and pretty soon you wonder if it’s even worth it.

Well, I’m here to tell you, it is.

In many ways, I think our kids’ memories are like that photo. What they remember in the years ahead is going to be better than what you may feel at the time as the dad. It might be hard for you to get past today’s challenges, but I urge you to “see the bigger picture” … so to speak.

So expect a little chaos. But also expect a great family time this Christmas. Invest yourself 100 percent in connecting with family members and bringing home genuine joy for them.

When things go wrong—and they will—you don’t have to worry so much or get stressed out. Just smile, keep rolling with it, and look forward to the next thing on your schedule.

Action Points for Dads on the Journey

  • Think proactively during the next week. How can you help your kids—and their mom—be well-rested, calm, and content during your family events?
  • Whether or not you take a formal family photo, get lots of candids. Have a contest with your kids for the silliest holiday-related shots.
  • Spend an evening going through old photos and/or videos—and talking about the memories—as a family.

Guys, please share your experiences. What’s the most stressful family event for you? And how do you make the best of it? Give your feedback either below or on below.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

CAREY CASEY

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers to make the Championship Fathering Commitment.

For the original article, visit fathers.com.

God’s Grace for the Struggling Single Mom.


single mom with daughter
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

Sometimes it’s easier to apply God’s truths to my life than to the lives of my children. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I feel like I should be able to fix things for them because I’m their mom.

If I just love them enough, they won’t feel the void their Dad’s departure left. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

If I just spend enough time with them, they won’t miss their father so much. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

If I just do enough for them, they’ll know that they are valuable and loved. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

If I make life easier for them, the pain won’t be as acute. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

What I’ve done in my feverish attempt to fill the hole left by their father is become completely exhausted and a bit ineffective as a parent. It might have served a purpose to a degree at the beginning, but now I have children who are selfish about my time, demanding of my resources, thoughtless of the dynamics of our family and a bit entitled in their mentality.

Lest it sound like I have the rottenest kids on the East Coast, let me say they are all wonderful. They all have lovely, sweet moments and kind words often. My teenage daughter still calls me “Mommy” sometimes, which absolutely melts my heart. My tweenage son still enjoys reading with me each night while we snuggle. My 6-year-old loves to draw pictures to encourage me. And at the most surprising and sweetest times, my 5-year-old will flash me the sign for “I love you.” They all bless me; they just don’t really help me!

I’ve noticed recently that they don’t seem to be getting some pretty obvious house rules. You know, the knock-before-entering thing. The don’t-help-yourself-to-mom’s-things-without-asking thing. The pick-up-after-yourself thing. The whole obey thing.

I’ve made myself entirely too available for them, so now they expect me to always be available for them. I’ve allowed them to enter my space freely and, boy, am I paying for that now! There are always people in my room messing with my stuff, making a mess.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

Letting Go of the Bully in You.


child crying in mother's arms
(© szefei iStockphoto.com)
During two years of an overly distracted life, I communicated more to a screen than to the people in my family. My schedule was so tightly packed that I constantly found myself saying, “We don’t have time for that.” And because there wasn’t a minute to spare, that meant no time to relax, be silly or marvel at interesting wonders along our path. I was so focused on my agenda that I lost sight of what really mattered.
Calling all the shots was a mean voice in my head. My internal drill sergeant was continually pushing me to make everything sound better, look better and taste better. My body, my house and my achievements were never good enough. Holding myself to such unattainable standards weighed heavily on my soul, and my inner turmoil eventually spilled out at people I loved the most.
Sadly, there was one person in particular who bore the brunt of my discontent: my firstborn daughter.
She could not make mess without me shaking my head in disappointment.
She could not forget her homework, her jacket or her lunchbox without me making a big deal about it.
She could not spill, stain, break or misplace without being made to feel like she’d made the worst mistake in the world.
Although it pains me to write this, I remember sighing heavily in annoyance when she fell down and hurt herself because it threw me off my “master schedule.” My daughter was not allowed to be a child who learned by trying and, yes, sometimes failing.
The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the person and parent I want to be.
Every time I came down hard on my daughter, I justified my behavior by telling myself I was doing it to help her—help her become more responsible, capable and efficient and preparing her for the real world. I told myself I was building her up. But in reality, I was tearing her down.
I vividly remember the day my mother was visiting from out of town. The children were playing alone in the basement. My younger daughter began crying hysterically. I ran downstairs, fearing she was seriously hurt.
The first question out of my mouth was directed at my older daughter. “What did you do?” I asked angrily.
My child didn’t bother to explain that her little sister had slipped on the library book that was sitting on the bottom step. There really was no point. My beautiful child with humongous brown eyes that once held so much optimism looked defeated. Silent tears of a broken spirit slid down her face. My daughter knew it didn’t matter what she said, she’d still be wrong; it would still be her fault.
And there was my mother standing beside her, a silent witness to the whole ugly scene.
As my older daughter ran off to the sanctity of her bedroom, an unexpected question came out of my mouth. “You think I am too hard on her, don’t you?” I snapped.
My mom, who’d experienced her own difficult parenting moments and struggles, held no judgment in her eyes, only sadness. Her simple response of “yes” only confirmed what I knew in my heart.
I mustered up the courage to find the words that needed to be said. Apologizing didn’t come easily for someone who strived to make everything look perfect all the time, but I knew what needed to be said.
I found my child crumpled up like a dejected rag doll on top of her bed—her face puffy and red from crying.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.
My daughter didn’t move.
I sat down on the edge of her bed and began saying things I’d never said to another human being—not even myself. “I feel mad inside a lot. I often speak badly about myself in my head. I bully myself. And when I bully myself, it makes me unhappy, and then I treat others badly—especially you. It is not right, and I am going to stop. I am not sure how, but I will stop. I am so very sorry,” I vowed, trying not to cry.
My daughter looked unsure as to what to do with this confession, this unusual offering from her mother who rarely admitted any wrongdoing. I didn’t blame her for the skeptical look she gave me. I understood why she didn’t say anything back, but somewhere in those eyes I saw hope—hope that things could be different.
I desperately wanted things to be different too. It was time to stop being so hard on my child; it was time to stop being so hard on myself. I prayed I could stand up to the inner bully. I knew I needed an easy first step. I decided to use one simple word: Stop.
Within the hour, I had a chance to try it. The first critical thought that popped into my head arose as I was preparing to leave the house: I looked at my reflection and thought, “You look fat. You can’t go out looking like that.”
Stop!” I assertively thought to myself, shutting down any further criticisms. Then I quickly turned away from the mirror and recited these words: “Only love today. Only love today.”
I used the same strategy when interacting with my child a few minutes later. Before any harsh words came out of my mouth about the way she was sloppily packing her bag of things, I cut off my inner critic by saying, “Stop! Only love today.” Then I swallowed the hurtful words and relaxed my disapproving face.
Within mere days of using the “stop” technique, I noticed a change. With a more positive thought process, it was easier to let go of the need to control, dictate and criticize. In response, my daughter began taking more chances and began revealing her true passions.
She started movie-making and website design on the computer. She made doll furniture and clothing to sell in the neighborhood. She began baking new recipes without any help.
Nothing she did was perfect. Nor was it mess-free or mistake-free, but the moment I said something positive, I saw her blossom a little more. That is when I began to clearly see beyond the mistakes and messes to what was truly important.
I began noticing my child’s inner beauty rather than looking for perfection on the outside.
I began paying more attention to the person she was rather than the successes she achieved.
I began letting her be who she was meant to be instead of some idealistic version I had in my head.
When I stopped being a bully to my child and myself, opportunities for growth and connection opened up. Over time, significant progress was made. In a little less than two years on my journey to let go of perfection and distraction, I received the confirmation I never thought I would receive.
My daughter was outside before school, tending to a garden she created smack dab in the middle of the yard. I watched from the kitchen window as she lovingly tended to her miniature plot. I was captivated by the utter joy on her face. She was clearly at peace.
Since my dad loves to garden and had taught my daughter a few things, I took a picture and sent it to my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the gift I would receive in return.
My parents wrote, “Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”
My friends, I have the following message to offer anyone who wants to believe today can be different than yesterday:
If you think that criticizing, belittling or critiquing yourself will make you smarter, fitter or more valuable, please reconsider.
If you think badgering, bullying or constantly correcting your child will make him or her more likable, more confident or more successful, please reconsider.
Because the truth is this:
It’s hard to love yourself with a bully breathing down your neck.
It’s hard to love yourself when the one person who’s supposed to love you unconditionally doesn’t.
It’s hard to become the person you’re supposed to be when you aren’t allowed to fall down and get back up.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

A Great Holiday Idea for Fathers.


images/articles/Blogs/New_Man/Dad-Christmas.jpg
Christmas Dad

Joshua is an active Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) dad at his child’s school who came up with a great idea for the holiday season.

Like in many other families—especially those that put emphasis on their faith during the holidays—he and his wife use an Advent calendar to help them and their young sons count down the days in anticipation of Christmas. Maybe you do something similar—and there are all kinds of great resources to help if you wanted to start this.

Well, a few years back, Joshua was working long hours and couldn’t always be there with his wife and his boys to go through the daily Advent readings and activities. So he started his own special calendar for the holidays. And you know what he called it?

DADvent—of course.

His DADvent calendar was all about simply having fun with his sons, holiday style. He used it as a reminder to do something special for his sons every day leading up to Christmas.

With his schedule, many times that meant doing things while the boys slept. One night he decorated their rooms with paper snowflakes that they saw first thing in the morning. Another night he strung lights from corner to corner. Then there was the night he put up a Christmas tree in each bedroom without waking them up.

Joshua knew it was worth all the late nights and lack of sleep when he heard his 11-year-old say that DADvent activities were a “great memory” and a tradition he looks forward to every year.

And Joshua found that once he was in the habit, these special things spread into other parts of the year. And he started doing similar things for his bride as well.

If you wanted to really follow the Advent calendar, we’ve already missed the first couple of weeks or so. But there’s no reason you can’t start right now. Joshua doesn’t mind if you use his idea. Go ahead and call it “DADvent.”

But whatever you call it, the important part is your attitude and your commitment to make the holidays fun for your kids this year. How cool would it be for them if every day between now and December 25th, you came up with some kind of surprise or small gift or even just spent a few minutes doing something they enjoy?

Maybe you can bake cookies, do a crazy craft project, make some paper angels or whatever. You can find all kinds of ideas online. And the cost would likely be almost nothing.

Here’s an idea: On the way home from work today or sometime tomorrow, pick up four boxes of candy canes and hang them on every hook, ledge or doorknob in your home. Announce the official beginning of DADvent, and watch the expressions on your kids’ faces.

So, dad, how do you make the holidays special for your children? Share your ideas with other dads either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Fathering Journey

  • Tell your kids about a holiday tradition that was special for you as a child. Maybe surprise them by doing something similar this year.
  • Be purposeful this year about finding ways to have fun as a family—and avoid the common holiday stressors. Consider relaxing a household rule for a few weeks to give your kids the impression that it’s a “special” time.
  • Lead your family in spreading the true spirit of the holidays this season by helping someone else who has a need. And prepare to learn something! Often kids can be more sensitive to people’s needs than we are.
  • Buy a gift for the whole family that everyone can enjoy together, or invest in an activity you can all do together.
  • As you decide on gifts for your kids, start thinking about gifts of time that you can also give—like redeemable coupons or a commitment to enjoy a new toy or game with him or her.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS / NEW MAN.

CAREY CASEY

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “YesI want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.”

Taking off the training wheels…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
-Psalm 119:17

I remember when my dad was teaching me how to ride my bike once I got the training wheels off. So, I’m riding my bike as he steadies me. I was riding along, thinking he was holding on, and then I looked back and he wasn’t there! I got scared, started to wobble, and then I ate it all over the asphalt. Was it okay that my dad let go? Let me ask you. Was that all right? Was it a good thing that my dad did that?

I had skinned my knee, so I cried. My dad came up to me, picked me up, and said, “Are you okay?”

I said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.”

He said, “Are you crying?”

I said, “I’m not crying! Leave me alone.” You may have experienced this kind of a thing. Nevertheless, despite my initial injury, Dad put me back on the bike, he pushed me again, and finally I got it.

Would it have been better for my dad to leave the training wheels on, and for the rest of my life, even now at the age of 31, to be always there every time I want to ride my bike? Should I give my dad a phone call? “Hey, Dad, I want to go for a bike ride with my wife and I need some help.” He’d be there with the training wheels, walking alongside us as Hannah and I enjoyed the view, having an intimate conversation, ignoring him. No, I don’t think so.

God has made you the incredible person you are with intelligence, and a mind, and choice, and ability. But, to be our best, we must learn and grow through experience. Life without suffering isn’t life at all.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for teaching me through my trials. When I stumble or make a mistake, sharpen me, grow me, and mold me so that I become all that you have designed me to be. Amen.

Reflection: When did you grow the most through a trial in your life? What did you learn from that trial that helps you today?

One Way Love and The Phone Store.


When it comes to the raising of children, one-way love is both the easiest thing in the world and the hardest. How many of us have responded to the experience of becoming a parent for the first time by saying, “I finally understand how powerful and profound of a thing it is that God considers us His children!” The relationship we have with a baby, after all, is about as one-way as it gets. They need and we give, period. They have no illusions about their own power. The very idea that a baby might do something to deserve our love–other than exist–is laughable. It’s no coincidence that Jesus speaks so highly of children; he praises their ability to receive love.

It’s once our kids grow up that understanding the difference between law and grace becomes so difficult—but also so urgent. I’ll give you an example.

My wife and I had a rough year last year with one of our sons. His hardheartedness and willful defiance was not only affecting the rest of the family (sound familiar?), it was breaking our hearts because he was enslaving himself and he didn’t know it. Needless to say, he was not as convinced of the gravity of his misbehavior as Kim and I were. His unrepentant attitude was driving us crazy, so it was decided that he would be put on social lock-down. No car, no phone, no nothing. If he wasn’t at school, he was to be at home. No exceptions. The law had to do its crushing work. He needed to realize the seriousness of what he had been getting involved in. Being the social butterfly that he is, social lock-down was his worst fear, so that was what we chose. To make things even worse, we sold his smartphone.

He wasn’t happy about any of this, and it wasn’t a walk in the park for Kim, me, or the other kids either. It actually made things harder. Without his phone and his friends, he haunted the house like a drug addict going through detox. He couldn’t help out by giving his brother and sister rides, so Kim and I had to go back to serving as chauffeurs.

A month or so after the clampdown had gone into effect, I was traveling back from speaking at a conference. Before I left, I had told my son, in my most earnest, authoritative-father voice, that there was only one thing he needed to do while I was gone and that was to not give his mother a hard time. If he didn’t give her any unnecessary headaches, when I got back, we might revisit the phone issue. Midway through my 48 hour trip, I received a call from Kim, who told me that my request was not, shall we say, being respected. I couldn’t believe it. One thing. 48 hours. He couldn’t do it. I was furious.

I spent the plane ride home battling with God. I mean, really going back and forth with Him about what I should do. I knew I had to deal with the situation as soon as I returned. I was angry with my son for putting me in this situation, and I was tired of dealing with his ingratitude. Clearly my son had not learned his lesson. As far as I was concerned, more law was needed. Yet as I prayed about it, I had this haunting sense that God was telling me it was time to relent. Time to, at least, give the boy his phone back. What? No way, God. Every fiber of my being was resistant to that idea. Not only did the law afford me control over my son (a boy who had proved that he didn’t know how to handle his freedom), he didn’t deserve to get his phone back. The one thing I had asked him to do, he hadn’t done. He’d understood the condition before I left: be good, and you’ll get a phone. Well, he hadn’t been good. So no phone. Very reasonable to me. I was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to keep the handcuffs on. That I was flying back from a conference where I had spoken about one-way love was not lost on me.

Well, I got home, called my son out of his room, and told him we needed to talk. I reminded him of everything I’d said before I left—the conditions under which he would get a phone. He looked at me very sheepishly, knowing he was guilty—again! I talked to him for a while about life and choices and sin and how much we loved him. He listened intently–really listened. In fact, it was the first time he had looked at me in the eyes and really paid attention to what I was telling him. I could tell that what I was saying was finally making sense to him. After we were done talking, we prayed together. First me, then him. When we finished praying, I looked at him and said, “Now go put your shoes on, and let’s go to the phone store and get you a new phone.” He was completely shocked. His lip started to quiver, and he finally burst into tears. In the months since we first caught him doing the stuff that originally got him in trouble, he had shown no remorse, no sorrow. This was the first time I had seen tears. Real tears. I asked him what was wrong. With tears streaming down his face, he looked at me and said, “But, Dad, I don’t deserve a phone.” He was right. He didn’t deserve a phone. He didn’t deserve a pad of paper and a stamp. His words revealed that God knew a lot better how to handle my son than I did. The contrition was genuine. The law had leveled him. It had shown him who he was in a way that left no doubt about his need. It was time for a word of grace.

Notice that his humility did not precede the invitation. The chronology is crucial. His admission was not a condition for mercy; it was its fruit! I looked at him and said, “Listen, son. God takes me to the phone store ten thousand times a day, and I have never ever deserved one…so go get your shoes on and let’s get you a phone.”

It was a happy day.

Now, before you line up to give me the father-of-the-year award, know that the reason I tell the story is because it was such a surprise to me too. My son had come by his rebelliousness honestly, after all. One of the main reasons his behavior bugged me so much was that he reminded me so much of myself when I was his age! I only tell the story for three reasons: One, it illustrates that the law is useful. Grace could not have done it’s curing work if the law had not first done its crushing work. But two, it illustrates how resistant we are to grace. We feel much safer with our hands on the wheel. I was so afraid that he would go nuts, that he would prove himself to be his father’s son once again. It was as hard for me to give up the sense of manageability the law provided as it was for him to lose his phone. It had to be taken from me. And three, the emotional response at being let off the hook was a powerful reminder that only grace can inspire what the law demands. The law was able to accuse him, but only grace could acquit him. The law was able to expose him, but only grace could exonerate him. The law was able to diagnose him, but only grace was able to deliver him.

God showed me one more time that, when it’s all said and done, love (not law) is the essence of any lasting transformation that takes place in human experience.

[Excerpted from One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.]

Tullian Tchividjian
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Visit his website at www.liberatenet.org. and follow him on Twitter @PastorTullian

6 Ways to Keep Your Kids Honest.


Children sharing secret
How do you encourage your children to tell the truth? (Phaitoon/Free Digital Photos)

Our world, in big ways and small, gives a wink and a nod to dishonesty. This makes it difficult to bring up children who are fully committed to truthfulness.

So, how do we teach our children to tell the truth even when it’s hard? There are lots of ways, and they all start early:

1. It’s never cute. There’s a great temptation to overlook the dishonesty of preschoolers because we’re a little charmed and amused by it. But it lays a foundation that will be hard to undo down the road. Save yourself the extra work by catching the lies of little tykes and correcting them immediately.

2. Watch the back door. Often, dishonesty in our children doesn’t come barreling in the front door with a big whopper of a lie. It starts small, with a little fudging of the facts or an omission of key information. But it’s intentionally deceptive—and they know it. When you’re talking with your children, listen intently. It’s the only way you’ll pick up on the telltale signs of a misleading story and be able to blow the whistle and correct the habit.

3. Practice what you preach. The only way to teach a life of honesty and integrity is to live one in front of your children. They hear every word you say on the phone and to your spouse, and they’re as able to spot deception as you are. If your children find you rationalizing how your dishonesty is OK, they’ll do the same. So before you say, “Tell them I’m not home,” think again.

4. Explain the impact it has on relationships. Honesty is important not just because it’s the officially sanctioned right thing to do. God’s laws always have our best interest at heart. It’s important because good relationships are built on trust, and trust can’t exist without honesty. If you catch your children lying on Monday, how can you trust them on Tuesday? Help them understand the long-term consequences of dishonesty by letting them suffer some of those consequences now.

5. Stop them when you see it coming. You know those situations where your child will be tempted to play with the facts: when they’re explaining their actions or faced with the possibility of being disciplined. Before you even ask for the explanation, remind your child what the standard of honesty is in your home and that they will only create a greater problem by lying now.

6. Don’t let the details dictate whether the lack of honesty is important. Parenting is hard work, and sometimes we’re tempted to overlook dishonesty in our children if the lie doesn’t involve something of obvious importance. But a total commitment to honesty in all things only comes about when there are no small lies. Take the time to correct your child, even when the deception seems immaterial.

What are some ways you teach honesty to your kids? Please share them below.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

MARK MERRILL/FAMILY FIRST

Mark Merrill is the president of Family FirstFor the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

7 Things a Girl Needs from her Mom.


Cindi McMenamin

This is Part 2 in a 3-Part Series on inspiring your daughter. Read Part 1 here.

Our daughters watch us, look to us for what they need, and often imitate both our weaknesses and our strengths. So being aware of what they most need can help us focus on getting them through their teen and young adult years.

As I surveyed daughters, ages 15-45 for my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I found that, overall, our daughters don’t need more money, leniency, opportunities, structure, extra-curricular involvement, or music lessons as much as we might think. Instead, what they all indicated that they needed – and still need – is their mother’s “love and support.”

My daughter, Dana, now 21, says: “I needed my mother’s love and support in everything I did. No matter if I did something completely wrong, I needed her to love me anyway and to let me know it was going to be okay.”

I asked my survey respondents to further define the phrase “love and support” so moms could get an idea of what it would tangibly look like to show that to their daughters. See if these sound like something your daughter might need, too.

1. She Needs to Know She is Your Priority

As a 19-year-old college student who has never doubted her mother’s love for her, Annie says: “My mom made me her center. I don’t think that spoiled me. Rather, it made me secure in the fact that she loved me and would do what it took to provide for all I needed.”

Another daughter said: “Not to sound selfish, but I needed my mom to choose me first over a lot of things, to let me know that I was a priority in her life over work and finances.”

Because we tend to live such over-scheduled lives, it can be challenging to let our daughters know they are more important to us than the job or the tasks at hand. (For some practical ways to show your daughter she is a priority, see the upcoming Part 3: Giving Your Daughter the Gift of Your Time.)

2. She Needs to Know She Is Accepted   

A young woman needs to know she is accepted by her mom, no matter how old she is. She needs to feel accepted as she is recognizing her uniqueness, in the ways she feels “odd” or out of place in a crowd, and on the days she feels she didn’t measure up to others around her.

3. She Needs to Feel a Connection with You

Karen said she never really felt a deep emotional connection with her mom.

“My mom was a single parent raising me and my siblings. She worked outside of the home through most of my adolescent years. I didn’t feel a connection with her because she had a “hard shell” around her heart. While I always knew she loved me, it was very difficult to approach her.

“Even as I matured and became a wife and mother, I did not feel I could share with her the secret places of my heart. I never really felt like I could share intimately with her. Only a few times can I remember really opening up and sharing deep thoughts with her.”

Be the one who initiates an emotional connection with your daughter. Even if she’s acting like she doesn’t want that, she will know that you are the one who is reaching out.

4. She Needs a Spiritual Foundation

Katie, who was raised in a committed Christian home, says that although she might not have appreciated it at the time, her mother’s insistence that she attend church every Sunday and learn strong biblical values is one of the best things her mother could’ve done for her. It is something Katie intends to imitate with her own children.

Krystle, who is raising a teen and pre-teen daughter, said she wishes her mom had made more of an effort to bring her up, spiritually.

“My mother was a loving, devoted Christian stay-at-home mom up until my parents divorced when I was around 7 years old. Our lifestyle changed dramatically after my parents divorced. My mother struggled to support and raise four children on her own. She became discouraged and left her church for a while. She worked a lot, turned to friends and partying. She became more focused on her life and her needs and didn’t encourage her children enough. I feel that my mom should have drawn closer to the Lord during these times.”

Our daughters need us to have a strong dependence on the Lord so they can imitate that walk and develop a dependence on the Lord, as well.

5. She Needs to be Allowed to Fail

One young woman who was raised with a strong spiritual foundation said she wishes her parents had realized she was human and she would, indeed, fail.

“I felt very lucky in that both my parents were great examples who showed me love my entire life. The downside for me was that I never felt I could be completely open and honest because the lines of right and wrong were so clearly drawn I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted for the mistakes I did make. I wish at ages 14-16, I had been given permission to make mistakes without judgment. That’s not to say I would have made better choices than I already did, but when I messed up, I didn’t feel like my mom was as approachable.”

When our daughters are young, there are times we want to step in and do something for them, rather than risk their disappointment or having to watch them fail. But it is crucial to their development as young women to learn how to pick themselves up after they fail and move on. Your daughter needs to be okay with the fact that it’s perfectly normal and human — to make mistakes. She needs to know it isn’t the end of the world if she fails to do something right. And she needs to know that coming in second or third or not placing at all, is often a part of life.

Guiding your daughter through disappointment and failure is just as important as guiding her through victory and success. Let her make mistakes. Let her feel badly. Let her live out what it’s like to be imperfect. And love her through it. Could anything show her more of the way God loves us?

6. She Needs You to be a Woman of Integrity
I can’t help but think that is my daughter’s greatest need from her mother, as well. I can raise her according to biblical principles, and talk to her about the importance of living frugally, being Christ-like, loving others and having a pure heart. But the bottom line is, if I am not modeling any of it myself, then my words are merely words. She needs to see the Christ-like life lived out in me every day of my life and know it is real before she will know how or even have a desire to live it herself.  She needs an example to follow in making life’s choices and being the woman she knows I want her to be.

7. She Needs Your Stability

I will venture to say that your stability is even more important than hers. Our daughters can’t be the ones who hold us up, emotionally. That’s our job. Sure, it’s nice to have a relationship with our daughters in which we can share with them what’s on our hearts. But be discerning. Your daughter does not want to hear about your marital struggles, your loneliness, or your depression with how things are going in your life.  It is our job, as moms, to bear their burdens when they need emotional support and nurturing.

If we’re not careful, we can reverse the situation and cause our daughters to feel the weight of having to emotionally carry us. I know many college-aged girls who feel guilty about going away to school because of how difficult it is on their moms to be away from them. Our daughters need us to be a rock because we look to Christ, our Rock, in times of trouble and adversity. Our daughters need us to be women of integrity who show them how to be in the midst of a compromising world. And our daughters need us to be women who can keep it together when life around us falls apart. If we are the ones with the emotional issues, we can lead our daughters toward depression, a sense of hopelessness, or a desire to distance themselves from us.

Because our daughters model our behavior in so many ways, they end up imitating both the positive and the negative in us. So, if you are constantly searching for your own identity, struggling for a sense of purpose, or dealing with insecurities, chances are she will be, too.

In short, be the woman you want your daughter to become. And chances are that she will, in time, follow suit.

Cindi McMenamin is a national women’s conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When a Woman inspires Her Husband, and When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, upon which this article is based. For more on her books and ministry, or to download her free article “Suggestions for Mother-Daughter Memory-Making” see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Publication date: September 3, 2013

6 Ways to Adore Your Husband.


African American couple
(stockfreeimages.com)

Let’s face it: Who doesn’t want to be adored? Men especially crave that potent combination of respect and admiration; it’s just the way they’re wired. And when your husband feels your adoration, he’ll want to be around you and please you more.

Even if you don’t feel like adoring your husband, try some of these six ways below and see if your adoration doesn’t inspire him to adore you a little bit more too.

1. Adore Him as He Is

Don’t wait to adore him until he’s nicer, makes more money or is more affectionate with you. The key is to love him as he is right now. Even if he’s not 100 percent adorable, accept him as he is and adore him.

2. Adore Him for What He Accomplishes

Sure, you may love and appreciate your husband, but he won’t know unless you tell him. So tell him in specifics: “It’s amazing the way you handle all of your responsibilities. How do you do it?” “You really are such a great dad. Our kids just love you.” “You did an awesome job fixing the garage door. I didn’t even know you knew how to do that!”

3. Adore Him by Listening

The next time you’re around a husband and wife, listen. Does she finish his sentences? Does she interrupt him while he’s telling a story? Does she give him order after order before he can even get a word in? Men process communication differently. It usually takes them more time to formulate their thoughts and get them out. When they do, they take more pauses and speak more slowly. So adore him by listening to him instead of interrupting.

4. Adore Him by Putting Him First

When your kids need you, they need you. You can’t tell your 3-year-old to wait while you give your husband a back massage. But you can make the effort to let your husband know he’s still a priority. For example, one husband I know told his wife about an upcoming business trip he had in New England. He was excited to take her because he knew how much she loved that area. But instead of zeroing in on her husband’s intent, she started thinking of things they could do if they brought the kids on the trip. He later told her he was crushed.

5. Adore Him by Not Giving Advice

When your husband opens up to you about challenges he’s having with his business, with his co-workers or with anything else, try not to jump in and give advice. You know how we do; we jump in with a solution just to help. Unfortunately, what you intend as advice, he hears as “She doesn’t think I can handle it.”

6. Adore Him So Others Can See It and Hear It

A compliment given at home is one thing; a compliment given in front of others is magnified big time. So the next time you’re out with your husband with friends or family, or even when you’re at the hardware store together, let him hear you complimenting him to others. He’ll try even harder to live up to your adoration of him.

© 2012 Family Minute. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

MARK MERRILL

Yes, You Can Change:


sad woman
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

My husband’s parents were coming for a visit—reason enough to paint the basement, let alone clean the refrigerator, as any woman knows. When company comes, we put our best foot forward, especially when the company coming is the in-laws. We color our hair, buy a new top, hide the nail holes in the wall with toothpaste; we make one more pass at teaching the dog to sit and our children to read, sit up straight and chew with their mouths closed—all within a period of about 48 hours.

A few days before their arrival, John’s mother mentioned that she wanted to take me to get a massage during their stay.

Yikes.

I had never had a massage before, and the thought of some stranger touching my body was not an appealing one to me. My mother-in-law assured me I would love it. I hoped I would. But I didn’t think so. You see, I didn’t love my body. Far to the contrary—I was embarrassed by it. I didn’t exactly relish the thought of exposing it to the hands of some strange masseuse. How does one lose 10 pounds in four days? I Googled it. It involves lemon juice and cayenne pepper. I couldn’t do it. But I had to go. It was her gift to me. She was excited to give it. I needed to be grateful to receive it. Or at least appear to be.

After checking in at the spa, we were both given soft, luxurious bathrobes and a pair of plastic slippers. We were shown to the changing area with lockers for our clothes, purses and jewelry. I looked at Mom and asked with dread, “All our clothes?”

Yes, all your clothes.” Seeing the look on my face, she graciously added, “You can keep your underwear on if you’d be more comfortable.”

Ummmm … yes.

The time came for me to try to discreetly undress and put on the bathrobe while not exposing an inch of skin to any woman who might happen to glance my way. That was difficult, but I was determined. I was also uncomfortable. Then I was mortified. The one-size-fits-all bathrobe didn’t fit all. I was too large for it.

Securing my nonemotional, matter-of-fact face, I put my clothes back on and headed out front to speak the dreaded words: “This doesn’t fit me. Do you have anything larger?”
They did have a larger robe. They had a man’s robe. An extra large man’s robe. In a much different color from the women’s robes.

Here we were at this spa, sitting in the waiting room, surrounded by lots of other women wearing matching bathrobes, and I was wearing one that might as well have been flashing an orange neon glow-in-the-dark sign that read “obese.”

I went into the bathroom and cried. I vowed never to be in that situation again.

But 1 years later, 100 pounds down and 90 back up, I was. Different gift. Different spa. Different robe. But no larger size available.

Why don’t I have victory here? Why haven’t I been able to maintain lasting change? What is wrong with me? Have you ever felt that? Maybe not with your weight, but with some area of your life?

Why Here and Not There?

I remember well the laughter of an older friend over my inability to lose weight. It wasn’t cruel laughter; it was lighthearted. With delight in her eyes and a deep sense of knowing, she asked me how hard did I think it would be for God to take care of that struggle for me? With a snap of her fingers, she demonstrated how quickly He could remove all compulsion to use food to comfort myself, numb my pain or simply escape.

Well, then, if it would be so easy for Him, why wasn’t He doing it? I certainly had asked Him, pleaded with Him, cried out to Him for help here. So it’s His fault, really. That’s how I felt.

The thing is, I have experienced change—miraculous change. Shortly before becoming a Christian in my early 20s, I had wanted to clean up my act. I’d become acutely aware of my dependence on drugs and alcohol, how I was using them every single day in order to endure my life or at least keep the pain at bay. I decided that I would quit cold turkey. I wouldn’t smoke pot, do any drugs or drink alcohol, and while I was at it, I’d stop eating sugar too. I didn’t make it 24 hours. On any front.

Dang.

One night, in desperation and hope, I gave up trying to fix my life and collapsed into the waiting arms of Jesus, responding to His invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. … For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). I had finished reading the verses and fallen on the floor.

I was weary beyond words. My life was a shambles. My heart was shattered, and I had done much of the shattering myself. I confessed my deep need to God and asked Him to come for me, if He would have me. I gave my life to Jesus, mess that it was, mess that I was, and He did come for me. My little salvation prayer worked.

Two weeks later, I realized that I had not smoked any pot, taken any drugs or drunk any alcohol since my prayer. Two weeks. This broke all records from the previous 10 years. This was a true blue, bona fide miracle. God delivered me from even the desire to use anything. I didn’t want to, and I didn’t need to. I was awakened to my soul and to the presence of God and to hope. And yeah, baby, there were hard days in that season, but the myriad of stories I have of God’s miraculous coming for me in the nick of time are glorious.

Back then, food wasn’t a huge issue. I wasn’t overweight, and I wasn’t inclined to binge. That came later. But when it came, it came with an unyielding power that all my prayer and efforts, repentance, determination and willpower could not budge.

God delivered me once. Why wouldn’t He snap his fingers and do it again?

Many women feel like a failure as a woman. I know that oftentimes I do. A failure as a human being, really. It has affected just about everything I have done and everything I have been kept from doing. But I am not a failure as a human being or as a woman. In some core place deep within, I know this. I fail, yes. But I am not a failure. I disappoint. But I am not a disappointment. Yet when I find myself again in this place—losing the battle for my beauty, my body, my heart—I can sure feel like a failure in every way. And isn’t that true for every woman? Don’t we all have secret places where we are not living in the victory we long for, places that color how we see ourselves? Doesn’t it go on to become a barrier between us and the people in our lives? A wall separating us from the love of God?.

Or is it just me?

I didn’t think so.

Sometimes we feel hopeless to ever change simply because our personal history is filled with our failed attempts to change. Where was that angel who was supposed to be guarding our tongue and preventing those harsh words from lashing out at our children? What happened to that fruit of the Spirit that was empowering us to be self-controlled and pass by the doughnut section? God has not given me a spirit of fear, so why am I so consumed with worry over my children, my finances, my future? If the fear of man is a snare, why do I still find I am terrified of exposing my true self and then being rejected? My bondage to food has been revealed as a liar and a thief, and yet in the moment of pain, too often I still turn to it.

God knows.

God knows.

He has not turned His face away. The very fact that we long for the change we do is a sign that we are meant to have it. Our very dissatisfaction with our weaknesses and struggles points to the reality that continuing to live in them is not our destiny.

Read those two sentences again. Let hope rise. Why are you struggling with the things you do? There is a reason. It is found in the life you have lived, the wounds you have received, what you have come to believe about yourself because of them, and not having a clue how to bear your sorrow. It is also because of who you are meant to be.

It is not too late. It is not too hard. You are not too much. God’s mercies are new every morning. There is mercy in His eyes even now.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ Spiritled Woman:

STASI ELDREDGE

Copyright 2013 by Stasi Eldredge. Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

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