Declarations of Independence: Learning to Loosen the Grasp in Parenting

Declarations of Independence: Learning to Loosen the Grasp in Parenting

I'm a recovering helicopter parent.

I'll admit, I once was that mother who wanted to fix everything, make sure my kid was never hurt and manage all affairs. But once your kids grow up (or you have more than one kid), you realize that tactic just ain't gonna cut it.

I felt like I've spent most of my mothering years pushing independence and carefully watching every step. As my oldest son is moving into the teen years, the more I have to let the reigns go. The more I let go, I see that he's actually able to handle himself in the world without my constant navigation. Liberating for him. Scary for me.

Recently, my son auditioned for the lead role in the school musical. Instead of being excited, I was scared out of my wits for him because lead roles normally got to upperclassmen, not middle schoolers. So I prepared him by telling him not to be disappointed when he didn't land the role and to expect that students who are older and graduating will be chosen to star. He didn't let my warnings sway him.

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How a Little Loss Taught Us a Big Lesson


Our family suffered a loss this weekend.

Gubbles the family fish passed away. 

Things started going downhill when he was sent to my mother-in-law's house for a week while we went to the Bay Area for a family visit during the Christmas break. He wasn't his normal self when he returned. And weeks later, he got worse.  This weekend, the downhill trend continued with erratic behavior: him diving to the bottom of the fish bowl and then swimming furiously to the top until he finally just stopped swimming. 

My oldest son won him as a prize at summer camp almost two years ago. I was so against the idea of a fish. But he stepped up and took great care of him. He fed him on schedule and cleaned his bowl regularly. I was impressed.

My son had grown attached to the fish, almost like he was the family puppy. So when he started declining he took it hard.....even broke down at church two weekends ago while requesting prayer for the fish. Sounds crazy, I know, but that's how attached he was. Even family members urged me to buy a new fish to swap out for Gubbles. But there was no way I was going to do that. And if I did, how many times would I have to do it so he would't have to face loss?

My son is 11 and that's old enough to know that loss happens. It's a part of the cycle of life. 

Sure, I wanted to protect him from the pain, but it is inevitable. And protecting him from the pain of life is not my job as a parent--preparing him for it is.

So we talked about the average life span of a fish, which is two years maximum. We discussed how he'd taken great care of the fish and grew into a responsible pet owner. We talked about losing something (or someone) we have become attached to while holding on to the memories. We talked about what it would look like when the fish did eventually die.

When it happened, he was prepared. Heartbroken, but prepared. As a parent, I want to protect my kids from so many things: the mean kid who speaks the truth with harsh words, being chosen last for a game or broken hearts from love that isn't returned. But I know doing that will only handicap them. Of course, there are things I absolutely want to protect them from: pornography, child predators, drug use. The key is knowing where to draw the line.

The older they get, the more of life my little ones are exposed to and it's downright scary as a parent. But what would be even scarier is sending them out into the world without being equipped to handle the hard edges that are part of living in this world.

My prayer lately has been for wisdom to guide them and equip them with knowledge and the sense enough to back up when I need to. This parenting gig is a constant balance of holding close when necessary and letting go when it's time.

Surprised By A 6 Year Old's Faith: How My Son's Prayer Turned a Profit


A few days ago, my six-year-old son asked if he could set up an art stand (think lemonade stand) featuring his Charlie Brown drawings. I was hesitant. I mean, who is going to stop on our street and buy drawings from a kid they don't know?

He kept asking, so I finally relented. The first afternoon nothing happened since it was late and getting dark. I thought he'd forget about it. But today, he kept asking, so again he set up shop. I made sure to give him a pep talk so he wouldn't be let down. I let him know it's Sunday and most of our neighbors are at church. Plus, we live on a quiet street that doesn't see much traffic. Even with all that, he was convinced he was going to sell a drawing. He even asked if he could go door to door. 

He got his older brother in on the action yelling, "Charlie Brown pictures! Get your Charlie Brown pictures! $2." A few cars drove by with only one passenger turning to see what my son was doing. My heart sank.

After about 30 minutes of sitting out in the hot sun, I told the boys they'd have to come in for lunch. Just as they were about to pack up, a guy in Mustang drove by and waved. Then, he slowed down and backed up.

He asked my son, "what are you selling?"

"Charlie Brown drawings," my son replied.

The man got out of the car and asked how much.

"$2 for one and $4 for 2," my son announced.

"Do you have change for a ten?" the man asked.

"Aw man, we are not prepared," my 10-year-old son said. "We don't have change."

"I'll take three drawings," the man said as he handed my son a $10 bill.

I wish someone could have captured the looks on all of our faces.

"You have to sign each one of the pictures for me though, okay?" the man said.

My son happily obliged.

The man waved at me and said, "This is how dreams start." He took his drawings, shook my son's hand, told him to keep up the good work and drove off.


With just one customer, my son sold more than half of his inventory of Charlie Brown drawings.

When we got inside I asked him if he was shocked. He saId, "well, last night I prayed for a customer to come. I told God I would be patient and just do whatever He wanted me to do." His bedtime prayer turned into today's profit.

He had faith when I didn't. And I felt just plain bad about it.

Looking at it logically, it probably was unlikely that anyone would stop on our street and buy from him. But in the world of "with God all things are possible" this was definitely in the realm of possibility. 

I had to apologize to my son for not having faith in his endeavor. It's definitely a lesson that I'll be carrying with me for the rest of my mothering years. No matter how unlikely I think their dreams are or how it doesn't make sense to me, the least I can do is stand in faith with them. I'm amazed at how these children challenge me to up my faith at every turn.


Navigating Life in Two Seasons: Help for the Waiting Soul

The temps in Southern California today will reach 80+. The calendar says autumn, but the weather says summer….sort of.

This is typical fall weather here: warm, sunny days, but the mornings are chilly with cool evenings. I had to turn on the heater for the first time this week to knock the chill out of the house. But when I got dressed, I had to take into account that while chilly in the morning the sweater I’d layered over my chambray shirt would need to be taken off before mid-day. I might also add that I’m wearing sandals…in November.

Living in two seasons is like that. And it’s just something that comes with the territory when living in sunny Southern California.

But what about when you are in between seasons in your soul? There’s no bringing an extra sweater when it’s get chilly or removing a layer when the trials of life get too hot.

So what is one to do when you’re stuck between “waiting for” and “not having”?

I’m currently in between seasons so I know it well. Prayers have been uttered on bended knee before a great big God. Still no manifestation of what was uttered in faith. Maybe that’s you too today?

Praying for the plus sign on the pregnancy test.

Going before God’s throne for the salvation of a loved one.

Requesting God to help you through the fog of depression.

Prayers spoken but answers not seen yet. The land of in-between is a hard place to be. I think of road trips from Southern to Northern California. I’ve driven the route more times than I can count. Six hours of open roads, most of it through Central California on the 5 freeway where farm lands stretches far and wide. No scenery, just dirt for miles. Most of the drive looks like a no-man’s land. But if you look close enough, there are crops in the ground being formed into sustenance.

Most of our in-between time is like that: prayers planted in faith with no results in sight. I think of my oldest son. His 3DS broke a few months back. He’s been asking for a one and praying every night for God to replace the broken game console with a new one.  Just two weeks ago, my husband came into some extra money and was able to purchase it for him. Thing is, our son doesn’t know that a new 3DS XL is already purchased and waiting to be given to him on his birthday in less than two weeks on November 16. (He's getting more than what he even asked for with the XL version).

In the early days of the 3DS breaking, he cried, whined and complained. We had a talk about the best results for getting what you want. I told him prayers to God in faith would be more productive than all the whining. So he changed his attitude and did something surprising: he cleared a place on his dresser for his new 3DS and said nothing would go there until he got what he was praying for. Then every night instead of praying for the 3DS, he started thanking God that He already had what he’d asked for.

Such great lessons for surviving life in two seasons.

-          Stop whining and complaining.

-          Change your attitude

-          Expect what you’ve asked for

-          Change petitions to thanksgiving.

Faith in God is the bridge over the land of in-between. Walking over that bridge may look like laying out your interview clothes for the job interview that hasn’t even happened yet like my friend Tondra did when she closed down her in-home daycare and ventured back into the workplace. Walking over the bridge may look like buying baby clothes after the doctor tells you that you will never have children due to complications, which is a what another friend of mine did. Today she is the mother of a beautiful daughter.

Don’t wallow in the waiting. Put your faith to work for you and watch the season change.

Parenthood: A Lesson in Continual Sacrifice


It never fails. When I get myself something to drink or eat, there are two out of my three who are right there waiting for a sip, a taste and a piece.

Sometimes I just don't want to share! There are days I just want to sit down and eat in peace. But these little people usually win out and I end up sharing the last of my favorite drink or snack. It feels like I'm continually doling out pieces of my food, my time, my self.

That all comes with parenthood. I just realize I don't want to sacrifice to the point of depletion.

That's where the wisdom of God comes in. He helps us to pour into our children while being filled by Him. When I feel like I've given all I can to the kids, there seems to a reservoir of energy, time and knowledge to continue giving them. It's miraculous really how it works.

Ephesians 3:14-19The Message (MSG)

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

I love this prayer that Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus: that they be full in the fullness of God. Everything that God has is available to be poured into me.

So just when I think I'm empty, He's waiting to fill me up.

Feeling depleted my parenthood, work, marriage?  Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. Swing that door open wide for Him today, He's got extravagant reservoirs available to you.

I Don't Want to be That Mom Who Stands on the Sidelines

Aging is a crazy thing. Lately, I've been finding myself saying, "I don't do that anymore" to a myriad of things like: riding roller coasters, wearing shorts & bathing suits, and other ridiculous things.

Yesterday, we spent the day at Newport Beach. I usually wear a casual summer dress or a tank top and capri-like pants...but I stepped out of my fear box and wore a bathing suit (one that I've had for years with the tags still on it). And tried my hand at boogie boarding. I had set up in my mind that I was too old, too pudgy, too (fill in the blank) to do such things. I'm trying to figure out when I put myself in a box. I guess that doesn't matter much. What's most important is that I work on getting out.

I never really thought I'd be like this at my age. When I was younger, I was more apt to take risks and just do things afraid. I was the girl who went to college clear across the country, then packed up my bags and moved to Los Angeles. The girl who would attend movie premieres alone without fear or insecurity. The girl who would jump in her car and drive until I got lost and then explore the city (and this all without GPS).

Somewhere along the way I fell into this mommy mode. I found myself sitting on the sidelines watching my kids do things and rooting them on instead of participating. Yesterday, was a good example for me that age and mommyhood and a bigger waistline don't have to make me feel like I'm just relegated to the sidelines. No, I'm not a size 6 anymore and no I don't have the desire to ride the scariest roller coasters all day, but that doesn't mean every falls into the  "I can't category." It felt good to put on my I-will-try-it hat. My kids weren't concerned that their mom didn't look like a supermodel. Instead, they'll remember me running along the beach with them, throwing a frisbee and just being involved with them. 

Maybe you have put yourself (or parts of yourself) in an altogether different box. Perhaps you're in a geographic box or a financial box or a cultural box. It's never to let to break out....even if it's a small step like getting on that boogie board and at least trying. 


Impressing God's Word on Little Hearts


As mommas, we are careful to teach our kids while they're young.

We teach them to brush their teeth. Wash behind their ears. Ties their shoes. Chew with their mouths closed. We teach them to say please and thank you. We do our best to equip for the world.

I realized I was going to great lengths to teach them all I could about how to navigate this big world they'll soon be facing on their own, but I was neglecting the most necessary thing: the Word of God.

Before baby girl was born, I would spend time in the Bible with the boys. But three kids + a tired momma soon squeezed out any extra energy I had for walking with them through the Bible. That is until I got a quiet nudging from the Holy Spirit recently.

Deuteronomy 6: 4-9: 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

My kids go to a Christian school, but it's not the school's responsibility to teach MY children about the Word. We got to church every week, but it's not on the church to be the primary teacher of my children about God. Our role as parents is to impress God's word upon our children's heart.

Sure, we can wait until they get older and let them decide for themselves, but that's not what the Bible requires. Waiting means the impressionable years would have since passed and getting that Word on their hearts is not such an easy task then.

I believe we are to impress the Word on our children's hearts when they're young because that's when it will make its mark best. I think about all the Play Doh that the boys have played with down through the years. New Play Doh is so lovely. It's soft and moldable in your hands. A joy to play with. They would mold the clay in their hands and then stamp it with designs or carve smiles on Play Doh people. Down the line, the new Play Doh would get left out, the tops not put on tightly resulting in dry, hard balls of clay. Hard to mold and carve Play Doh when it's old. It's mostly just a crumbly mess that has to be tossed. 

I see my kids hearts like that new Play Doh: pliable and totally ready for the Word of God.  This is is why I'm taking every effort to impress it upon their little hearts right now.

So every night before bed, this tired momma pulls out the Bible, gathers the little people and we walk through the Scriptures as they are read aloud. And last night, wouldn't you know what our Bible verses were? Deuteronomy 6: 4-9. Just a little confirmation that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

And as I asked the boys what this verse meant to them, my oldest recited word for word a New Testament verse that supported what we were studying.

My making an impression is not in vain. And our time together has become a welcome part of their day.

I'm making it my business to walk and talk the Word of God not just during our evening Bible study but also when we're sitting at home and when we are riding in the car. When we wake up and as we get ready for bed. I want their roots to run deep and for them to have a genuine love for God's Word....not just on Sundays (or Saturday nights which is when we go to church). I want the Bible to be woven into their every day lives. 



Motherhood as Ministry: Seeing the Mundane as Holy

When you have little kids, it's easy for motherhood to feel like one continuous chore. There's laundry, cooking, cleaning, helping with hygiene, training, discipline and the list never ends. I'll admit last week, I was so stir crazy with fatigue that I mumbled to myself: "I can't wait til these kids grow up so I won't have to do all this."

Ugh. What a horrible attitude....that was quickly checked. I only have a few short years to mother these three kids. Right now this is my ministry and I don't want to do it begrudgingly.

My main ministry: these three little people

My main ministry: these three little people

My former pastor used to always teach that as women our first ministry is our home. Preaching to the nations and traveling the world is fine, but if our homes are neglected then our priorities are out of order. He even went as far to say that if you are preaching and your family is left at home, then you need to come off the road or take your family with you. Hard pill to swallow, but truth nonetheless.

Every thing I do in the home is ministry. From fixing meals to putting fresh linens on the beds. I didn't always think this thought. I used to put to women who preached on a pedastal thinking that was the ultimate ministry: to be behind a podium.

Now that I'm a mother, I realize the work, tears and turmoil that goes into building up little lives. Titus 2:4 says "These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children." Loving children when they're babies is gets hard when they get older and talk back, throw tantrums and make messes. I'm convinced this is why women need to be trained and encouraged to love their kids.

I admit that sometimes mothering can feel like slave labor with few rewards. But it's through this work that mothering becomes ministry. Every moment is precious and teachable. Every task is building upon the foundation of who they will be in life. My home is the place where I'm called to love these children.  And I'm the only mother these kids will have.

My ministry includes providing a safe, clean peaceful place for them to come to after a day out in the world. The clean clothes I wash, fold and put away help them to put their best foot forward each day. Every meal I shop for and prepare is an act of love. Praying for them and with them, recounting the same Bible story over and over and even playing video games WITH them is part of my ministry. Loving them comes in many forms. 

I know I'll have to remind myself of this when I'm scrubbing yet another toilet or discipling a child gone wild. This time of ministry with my children in the home is just a season that will soon fade into another. There are no re-do's or second chances when it comes to raising children, so I want to devote myself wholeheartedly to this ministry of motherhood.

As I head to check on my little ones who are now sound asleep, and on pull on blankets they've kicked off as well as straighten up toys they have left behind, I take comfort in these words: “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).


What's In a Name? More than We Think (On Mastering the Art of Naming Our World)

Copyright 2011 The Zondervan Corporation

Copyright 2011 The Zondervan Corporation

God gave Adam the authority to name His creation.

"Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him."

God gave Adam the authority to name.

This means as a descendant of Adam, I also have the authority to name that which is set before me. I can name the circumstances I face. I can call them negative or I can name them according to what God says. 

"And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name."

That's how powerful the naming authority is.

God gave Adam a great example when He named creation.

Gen. 1:5, "And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night."

Gen. 1:8, "And God called the expanse heaven."

Gen. 1:10, "And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas."

He named it and so it was.

I think of all the things I've named dead, bad, impossible, too far gone....that should be named good, possible, within reach. Instead of naming my doubts and fears. I've got to start naming God's promises over every single thing in my life.

The naming process is important to God. Abram the fatherless at age 99 becomes Abraham (father of many nations); Jacob the manipulator becomes Israel (a prince of God), and Simon, known for his instability, becomes Peter (rock). God looks at what is to be and name's according to that (not what is seen with the eye). 

It's so easy to name what my eye sees and not according to faith. That's not how the authority that God gave me works.

So many times I carelessly name things only to become frustrated when circumstances become that which I've named it. There's lots that needs to be named (and re-named) in my life. Let me get to it.