Spirit-Led Parenting

I’ve been reading Megan’s blog Sorta Crunchy since before I became a parent and was excited when she released a book — Spirit-Led Parenting. But, since the subtitle of the book is “From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year,” I figured I’d wait to read it until we have another baby someday. But, as I heard more and more about the book, I felt like I should really read this book now.

I am so glad I did. This book is, without a doubt, one of my favorite parenting books to date.

spirit led parenting book review

A great summary of Spirit-Led Parenting comes from near the end of the book: “May our hearts and minds be ever-focused on the movement of the Spirit. And may our days be directed not by our children, not by ourselves, but by Him alone.”

While most parenting books I’ve read have included undertones of “do this or you’ll mess up your baby for life” and “don’t do this or you’ll mess up your baby for life” (sometimes even with exact opposite instructions in different books!), this book was a breath of fresh air and spoke immense amounts of grace into my life as mom. Rather than focusing on specific methodologies and rules for how to parent during baby’s first year, Megan and Laura focused on the fact that parenting may – and often, should – look different for each family and even for each baby within a family.

The most important aspect of parenting during baby’s first year is not breast or bottle, baby-wearing or not; instead, it’s following the quiet, gentle stirring of the Holy Spirit in a parent’s heart.  “The right way for each mother and father to approach parenting is to seek His direction and guidance…. He extends to us the freedom to stop striving in vain to make our own plans work and to confidently follow the leading of His Spirit instead.”

And, as we follow these gentle stirrings, the authors point to the most amazing transformation of baby’s first year – “[W]hat if, as that first year of babyhood winds down and a toddler stands where your baby once lay, what if you looked in the mirror and realized that the one who has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year is you?”

To be fair, if you’re firmly in the “cry it out” camp and not interested in considering other options, the sleep chapter of this book may not be for you, as both authors entertained/experimented with the method and found it to strongly violate their mom intuitions and they’re pretty clear about that in the chapter on “As They Sleep.” But, even if you’ve practiced CIO methods and have found yourself wondering if there might be a better way, I think this book might encourage and strengthen you. I found their insights on the method – as well as every other methodology behind parenting in the first year – to be incredibly gracious, freedom-giving, and inspiring.

As I read about the authors’ struggles to find their own way and to parent in the ways they felt God leading them – even when it went against conventional wisdom and advice from church friends and family members – I nodded my head in agreement, cried a little, and hugged my girls a lot more.  Even though this book specifically addresses the first year of a baby’s life and I’m currently in Beach Baby’s second year and Beach Girl’s fourth year, I felt encouraged and inspired in my parenting right here and now.

Dare I say – I found myself hoping one of my girls would wake up, so I could go in and snuggle her a little longer (yep, I never thought I’d say that!).  I’m certain I’ll read this book over and over again, and it will be my go-to gift for expecting and new moms. And, I’m seriously hoping that they’ll write a book about bigger kids too!

You can find this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or your local bookstore. If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Not Alone

Some days, I feel like something must be wrong with me. Being a mom really shouldn’t be this hard. Occasionally, people (without kids) tell me that it’s not hard to be a parent, especially a stay at home one. With statements like “I wish I could stay at home and not work like you do” or “I just don’t see what could be hard about being a mom” and questions like “What do you do all day?” I sometimes start to doubt myself. Is it really that hard to be a stay at home mom? Maybe I’m just a wimp.

Being a mom is my dream job. I’ve dreamed of being a mom my whole life. I babysat any spare moment I could; I taught Sunday School to preschoolers; and I learned all I could about child development and education. When I grew up, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I absolutely love my children and often feel like my heart is going to burst from so much love as I watch these wonderful children.

But being a mom is hard.  It’s a constant call to die to self, to give just a little bit more when I feel like I have nothing left to give. It’s a constant struggle to jump in when I don’t want to and to not jump in when I do want to. It’s working all day – and sometimes all night – to love and pour myself empty for other people who can’t give much in return.  It’s persistent guilt that I’m too involved or not involved enough; too protective or not protective enough; too lenient or not lenient enough. Someday, it’s going to be driving away, hoping and trusting that I have sufficiently worked myself out of a job.

Ultimately, it’s constant surrender to trusting God and resting in Him because – no matter how great or terrible of a parent I am – ultimately, my children’s safety, education, salvation, and overall well-being are in his hands.

It’s this weird balance between being called to do my best, but knowing that my best is entirely insufficient.

So many days, I feel like I’m going it alone.  As I look around mom’s groups and church, it seems like most moms have their act together. Sure, there’s another harried mom in the grocery store sometimes, or every once in awhile someone besides me will carry their screaming child out of the sanctuary.  But, a lot of times, when I talk to other moms, it seems like they’re doing just fine. They seem to know what they’re doing, to not mind the never-ending demands, and to be able to give of themselves endlessly.

But, for some reason, Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson wrote a book for moms called Desperate. Did they write a book just for me?  Nope, it’s in the top 50 books on Amazonsince it came out… so I must not be the only one.

Knowing that – despite how it appears – I’m not alone in my thinking, I’ve been a bit bolder in my conversations with other moms.  And, slowly, we’ve started to share reality.  Other moms – some who I’ve known awhile and others who were practically strangers two weeks ago –  and I have shared how we love our children deeply and count them among our most wonderful blessings.  That each of our children is a miracle and we are so thankful.  That we each desire to eventually have more children, but often wonder if we’re insane because we can barely handle what we’ve got.

This journey is so much harder than we had expected and than anyone else seems to think it is.  And, usually, we feel completely alone.  Most days, it’s nearly impossible to finish a sentence, let alone a conversation, with a friend. We’re never alone, but we still feel so lonely.

Sometimes we don’t want to answer that we’re “fine” when someone asks how we’re doing.  But if we tell how we’re really doing, we might come across as needy or weak… We might be rejected.

Often, we don’t know what we’re doing, but feel like we have to pretend we do.

We look around and see moms who are patient, creative, gracious, productive, and balanced and we feel inferior.

We’d love mentorship of older women, but we look around our churches and aren’t even sure who to ask. We’re afraid we’d burden them, but if someone younger asked us to mentor them, we’d be honored and thrilled… and terrified because we don’t know what we’re doing.

We each struggle to embrace the beautiful truth that we are the moms God chose for each of our children.

And, most amazing and surprising to me of all is that recently, I sat in a group of moms who barely know each other as we all confessed just how much we compare ourselves. It turns out we each have looked at every other mom in the room and thought “She has it all together. Look how she ____.” We’ve even mentioned the other moms’ awesomeness to our husbands.

And each of us feels like I do – “how could anyone ever possibly think that about me?”

Through these authentic moments in conversation, these moms and I didn’t break-through in our parenting. We didn’t solve the un-solvable riddles for sleep, food, or obedience dilemmas. We don’t know what we’re doing any better than we did yesterday. But today, we know we’re not alone.  And, today, if you’re feeling alone in your mothering, I pray that you also will know that you are not inadequate and alone.  There are other moms out there who feel just like you… and I’m one of them.

 

I’m linking up to: Five Days Five Ways & Consider the Lilies.

Desperate

This morning, I woke up feeling defeated by the day before it even began. I stayed in bed as long as possible and as Beach Dad left for work, I whispered to him, “I just don’t think I can be a mom today.” It wasn’t that anything big had happened; my girls had been perfectly sweet all morning and it was just something within me that was making me want to pull the covers back over my head. I guess I just had enjoyed the weekend so much I wasn’t ready to jump right into Monday, especially on our first full week of “normal” since Christmas. Plus, over the weekend, I reached out to invite other moms to do a book study with me and I felt really overwhelmed and panicked about the idea of leading it. So, Beach Dad hugged me and prayed with me before he left and I entered the day feeling hesitant, but slightly renewed and ready to at least give it a shot.

God was gracious and we had a wonderful morning. I felt like I had supernatural patience and truly delighted in being around my kids. In fact, I’d say that my morning that started out so hopeless-seeming was one of the best mornings we’ve had in awhile.

I felt so encouraged and so reminded of the power of prayer. I don’t think that my prayer was a magic fix-all or that, if I just prayed more often, I could suddenly become a perfect mom. But starting my day off realizing that I am entirely dependent on God for strength and patience was exactly where I need to start everyday. And, I was reminded of a quote from Paul Miller’s A Praying Life that also came up in yesterday’s sermon – “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.” Consider me convicted.

Later in the day, as I reflected on our morning and how thankful I was that God had given me grace to turn it around, I started to look into more information for that book study I was so freaked out about. I went to the website and this quote popped up as a “pre-written tweet” — “For those who have ever whispered, ‘I just can’t be a mom today.'” For real?!

So, apparently, it’s good that I’m going to read this book.

The book is Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe and it’s Sally Clarkson & Sarah Mae’s new book (Sally also wrote Mission of Motherhood & Ministry of Motherhood, if you’ve read those… which I haven’t yet). I love Sally Clarkson’s blog and her heart for motherhood, and I’ve been excited about this book coming out for awhile now.

It just came out today and over the weekend, in a fit of insanity/feeling like I needed to just stop being so scared and do what I’d wanted to do for a month, I posted on my MOPS group’s Facebook page about gathering a group to read through the book together. I’ve gotten some interest and it seems like it’s going to actually happen, which is totally awesome! The book sounds great and it’s written with the intention that moms would read it together (it even includes discussion questions and there’s a free small group study guide). I’m excited to get to know some other moms and to read through this book together. I’m praying it will be an encouragement to all of us and a good opportunity to form authentic friendships with other moms.

But, I’m also totally freaked out about it. I was worried no one would be interested and I’d feel rejected, but – yay! – that’s not happening! And now I’m worried about the logistics and the leading and the whole being-authentic-in-person thing. It’s a lot easier to type out authentic words on a semi-anonymous blog than it is to sit in a room full of women and share my heart. I truly want to be an authentic person, though, and I have a passion for loving other moms. I crave real fellowship and am so excited for the opportunity to pursue it as we read Sally Clarkson & Sarah Mae’s encouraging words to us.

I’ll be posting here as I read, so if you want to read along, I’d love to discuss the book with you too. Or, if you want to lead your own small group that’d be awesome! If you buy 5 or more books this week, you’ll get a DVD Companion study and a couple fun art prints like the one above (just order through Amazon or wherever and then send a copy of your receipt and your mailing address to desperatebook@thomasnelson.com and they’ll mail you your goodies. As far as gathering a group, I just emailed a few friends and posted on my mom’s group page with a suggestion of day and time, and then hoped someone answered. You can do it, too! 🙂

Are you in?

 

[If you purchase through the Amazon link, I’ll receive a small amount as an advertising fee.  Otherwise, I’m not compensated for posting about this – I’m just really excited about this book!]

I’m linking up to Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk.

On Being Grateful

There’s someone in my house who is really ungrateful. She looks around at what she has and complains it’s not enough. She whines that other people won’t stop whining. She often doesn’t act grateful for a refrigerator full of food and instead complains it’s not already on the table.  She even forgets how good she has it to be surrounded by family who loves her.

Sadly, it’s me. I spend so much of my day trying to teach my children to be grateful, saying things like “You have plenty. Let’s try to think about what you do have rather than what you don’t have.” or “Let’s pray and thank God for our blessings.”

But with all I talk about gratitude with my children, the truth is this: Sometimes, I sound like a whiney toddler myself, stomping my feet impatiently and demanding more, more, more. I overlook the blessings that are coming at me from all sides and instead think about how hard things are.

Motherhood certainly is hard. But, it’s also one of the most beautiful blessings imaginable. I’m so fortunate that I get to raise my children, that I get to stay home with them, to be their primary teacher, and to be there for all the wonderful, little moments that come unexpectedly over the course of each day.

At the end of the day, after my kids are asleep, I often recount our day to Beach Dad. As I share our stories, I delight in the snuggles, the jokes, the fact that I get to be the one to answer their challenging and foundational questions (like this week’s million dollar question – “what happens when we die?”).  When the kids are asleep and the house is quiet, it’s a lot easier to look back on my day and feel grateful. Each night, I resolve: Tomorrow, I will delight in my children again. And this time, I will do it where they can see it.

Then, we all wake up and mouths need to be fed, diapers changed, spills cleaned up, discipline doled out, laundry done, questions answered, errands run, and on and on. It feels like the demands on my time, energy, and attention never end.  And, I get short-tempered. I get frustrated that everyone is crying when I’m trying to do something fun with them. I get frustrated that we can’t even make it out the door to do something fun because I keep stepping on all the toys they pull off the shelves every time I turn around.

I’m afraid that the message I send to my kids sounds something like “We’re in a hurry. I need to get things done. You’re in my way.”

Obviously, that’s not the message I want to be sending. I want my kids to know how grateful I am for them. To know that I delight in them and am proud of them. I want them to hear me say thank you – to God and to them.

As I started to think about how to start talking about Thanksgiving and teaching them about gratefulness, I was struck by the fact that the best way I can teach them is by modeling it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing too well at that lately.  So, as we lead up to Thanksgiving, I’m going to spend the next few weeks thinking about what I’m grateful for. And I’m going to do it during the day. Not just at night after they’ve gone to bed, when they miss the chance to see my rejoicing in them. But, right in the middle of the day, when I’m cleaning up another spill or holding another crying child. thanksgiving

Last month at MOPS, we made these jars to fill with memories and funny quotes. I already have a journal where I do that, so the jar and slips of paper have just been sitting on my counter, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. This month, I’m going to fill it with what I’m grateful for and I’m going to tell my children what I’m writing. Maybe it will help us all to start thinking about what we’re grateful for right now rather than what we want to happen next.

Care to join me?

Linked to Sundae Scoop.

Life-Changing

Four years ago, I read a Bible verse that changed my life.

It was the Spring of 2008 and I was a college student at William & Mary. I’d been married for just over a year and was struggling to balance my roles as student and wife.  At school, I felt weird because I was married.  At women’s events at church, I felt weird because I was still in college and I didn’t have kids yet. At church, I felt weird because I was married to the youth minister and felt like I was living under a microscope. Anything I said or did was being watched and I often got to hear commentary on any choices we made.  It felt like, everywhere I turned, I didn’t fit in.  I felt discouraged and alone, like I’d never find the connection and friendships I so desperately craved.

One night, my husband was out late, leading a high school guys’ small group and, while I waited for him to come home, I decided to prepare for the next morning’s Bible study.  As I sat down, I wondered why I was even bothering.  I probably wouldn’t even make it because it started at 7am and I didn’t like mornings.  And, if I did, I’d probably just sit alone and quiet in the corner again, listening to them talk about their lives with children and jobs… a life I didn’t know yet.  I knew that if I said anything vaguely authentic, I’d spend the rest of the day worrying if it was okay I said it or if it would get around the church that “the youth minster’s wife struggles.”  Maybe someone would even make another snide comment to me about how my husband was “just now” getting to work when he came in the doors to the church at 8:30.

But, the title of the book we were reading was Peacemaking Women and I figured if anyone needed to read that, it was me.  I didn’t feel at peace with my friendships at school, my relationships at church, and definitely not with my husband or with myself… so, a study on Peacemaking Women was probably just what I needed.  Maybe I’d figure out how I needed to act to make myself feel accepted somewhere.

As I sat on the couch and read, I came across Zephaniah 3:16-17 –

“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”

As I read, I felt my eyes welling up with tears. And, suddenly, I couldn’t hold it back anymore.  All my loneliness, all my anxiety, all my sadness came pouring out as I sat on the couch and cried.

How could it possibly be true that God would rejoice over me with gladness? Could he really exult over me with loud singing? Is this even in the Bible? Does this actually apply to me?

Not much later, Beach Dad came home to find me sitting on the couch crying.  He asked what was wrong and I held up my book to him.  I read him the verses and asked between tears, is this really true? Does God really feel this way about me?

I’d been going to church for a few years, I’d even gone to Christian college for a year, and I’d spent the past year married to someone in ministry.  I’d definitely heard the good news of the Gospel before, but this verse – this good news – felt entirely new to me.  It felt life changing.

In the midst of feeling weird everywhere I turned, feeling like I didn’t have value at school or at church or in any of my relationships, the news that the God of the universe would rejoice in me felt too good to be true.

I’d love to tell you that, since then, I’ve never felt alone or like nobody cared about me again. But, that wasn’t the way that verse changed my life.  If anything, since becoming a mom, I struggle with these feelings even more as I’m giving more of myself than I ever have to two little people who, while I know they love me, don’t usually act like they delight in me.

This side of heaven, we’re always going to have those feelings and I certainly have my fair share of feeling like I don’t matter, like anyone exulting over me with loud singing (let alone God!) is crazy talk.

But, four years later, still in the midst of my insecurities and my imperfect relationships, that verse still brings me to my knees. It still makes me wonder at how much God loves me.  It still encourages me that, no matter how alone or insignificant I feel, in God’s grace, I truly am deeply loved and delighted in. And, it gives me hope, that even when I feel alone and insignificant to the world, I matter to God.

If you’re like me, as a mom, it can feel like so little of our lives gets noticed or appreciated.  Day in and day out, we make meals, change diapers, clean up toys… just to return to the dishes, diapers, and disarray all over again.  Day in and day out, we plan fun special projects and trips to the park, just to carry our children out of the park kicking and screaming or to hear them say things like “I did not have fun. I wish Daddy were here instead.”

At the end of the day, it often feels like we haven’t accomplished anything but to keep our children fed, clothed, uninjured, and entertained… and mommy guilt whispers in the back of our minds that we didn’t even do a good job at that.

But, looking at Zephaniah 3, we can feel encouraged.

As I read these words, I’m reminded that God loves me… not because I am a great friend, wife, or mom. Not because I clean my house really well or plan perfectly beautiful crafts for my daughters to do. But, just as I am – lonely, insecure, and sometimes angry – God rejoices over me, he exults over me with loud singing, he quiets me with his love.  And, because I’m already loved, I can continue to love my family… to pour myself out, when I feel like I have nothing left to give.

When You Walk Through the Bugs…

It’s been a challenging week. The above picture about sums it up. We were trying to take first day of school photos and this was the most accurate one.  Both my girls have been in a funk and I’ve often felt like my parenting isn’t making a difference. Like my words of encouragement and discipline aren’t having much of an effect. Like the words I’m saying aren’t the words I wish I were saying. Like, if only I were a better mom

I’ve struggled to keep my cool as Beach Girl threw her geometric solids during “school time“. (I’ve never read about that happening on a homeschool blog… Maybe we’re the only ones with flying homeschool work?). I’ve held back tears while trying to figure out why Beach Baby’s entire body was covered in hives (Likely cause: almonds. Or, the medicine she was on for last week’s ear infection. Either way, she’s mostly better now, thankfully). And, the low point of it all, a few nights ago, I woke up with a roach crawling on my face.

Yes, on my face. No, it wasn’t just a nightmare.

Obviously, I had a hard time getting back to sleep that night and have felt a bit anxious going to sleep every night since.

This week, I’ve been singing “Isaiah 43” in my mind repeatedly through my exhaustion and anxieties –

“When you walk through the waters, I will be with you.
And the waves they will not overcome you.
Do not fear.
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name.
You are mine.”

It’s my go-to song. I sing it to my girls almost nightly, I encourage Beach Girl to sing it to herself if she’s scared or lonely, and I recite it to myself anytime I’m sad or anxious. And, at points this week, the truths in that song have encouraged me immensely. Singing it to myself has helped me to keep serving my family when I just want to collapse on the couch in defeat and it’s helped me to fall asleep at night when I just want to turn the lights on and watch out for roaches.

But, other times, I’ve felt doubtful and like maybe we’d all be better off if I just threw in the towel on this whole parenting thing. I’ve felt like maybe things really will overwhelm and defeat me.

Like Wednesday morning, when I was in my bedroom getting a sweatshirt and I turned around to see another huge roach scampering across the floor next to my side of the bed. I screamed, smooshed it with a shoe, and then just broke down crying.

I tried to hold it together when the girls came in the room. To pretend that humongous bugs don’t bother me. To not mention the fact that I had one on my face recently. To not let them see how defeated and discouraged I feel this week.

Then, in God’s amazing timing, my two year old told me just the words I needed to hear. Words that encouraged me and spoke truth to my heart. Words that helped me know she is indeed listening to me (at least occasionally!). Words that reminded me God is working in my life and heart just as much as in hers, while we live life together.

Beach Girl walked up to me and said, ever so sweetly, “Mommy, what’s wrong? Was you scared of that bug? It’s okay. You can just sing to yourself (to the tune of Isaiah 43): ‘When you walk through the bugs, you’ll not be scared.'”

Train Up A Child… To Say “No”

One thing I’ve struggled with in my parenting lately is how to encourage my children to obey without breaking their spirits.  Beach Girl (and I’m starting to think Beach Baby, as well) can be quite the independent thinkers, unafraid to (sometimes loudly and with great intensity) let us know what they want.  As a parent, I know I need to reign that in and teach them how to obey me.  But, I also want to encourage their independent thinking, in hopes that they will use the minds God has given them to love other people well and to follow Him.

I just finished reading Tim Challies’ review of Michael and Debi Pearl’s book “To Train Up A Child”. I haven’t read the book and I don’t intend to, but in the interest of giving you some context, the authors’ system of child “training” often includes presenting children as young as 12 months old with “teachable” moments such as putting an appealing but forbidden object in front of them and then telling them “no”.  Then, when the child (inevitably) reaches for the object, the Pearls encourage parents to switch their children in increasing increments until the child learns the meaning of “no” and stops trying to touch the object. Challies points out a number of issues with this book’s method of child “training”, all of which I agree with and encourage you to read.  But, one main issue I have with this approach is that it teaches our children blind obedience.  They are forbidden from telling their parents “no” no matter what.

I want my children to say no.  As a parent of a toddler, that feels weird to say.  I spend so much of my day encouraging obedience.  But, when I think of parenting with the long-view, I remember that, as a parent, I am called to disciple my children’s hearts in many more ways than simply to teach them how to obey.

Here’s why I actually want my children to say “no” to me sometimes:

First, I am sinful and limited in my thinking.  I need to leave space for the fact that my children could sometimes know better than I do.  One time, before I became a parent, I was hanging out with my friend and her 3 year old.  The 3 year old desperately wanted to wear socks with her dress-up shoes, even though her mom had told her that she might slip so needed to take her socks off.  In fact, if she didn’t take her socks off, she’d have to take the shoes off too.  Her daughter started to pitch a fit, then took a deep breath and calmly told her mom: “I’m worried that my feet will be cold if I am not wearing socks too.”

I’m all about sticking with what you say (and so was my friend), so I was blown away when my friend responded: “That’s a very reasonable thought.  Thank you for explaining that to me. Just walk carefully in them then.”  I realized at that point — sometimes 3 year olds do know better than we do and have reasonable requests if we just listen to what they are saying.  They are not mindless animals who we need to force into compliance, but are instead people with whom we want to pursue relationship.

I want my children to come to me. My children are guaranteed to screw up.  If one of them makes a bad choice and ends up at a party she shouldn’t be at, I want her to call me for a ride home.  I’d much prefer my children come to me when they’ve made mistakes than struggle through it on their own or go to a bad influence for help.

Obedience isn’t necessarily good. While I completely agree that God calls children to obey their parents, I don’t believe that He calls us to blindly obey any authority.  We are to obey God above all, so when another authority conflicts with God’s commands, I want my children to feel comfortable following Him instead.  History gives us many examples of society following a misguided authority.  I would much prefer my children be the ones who stand up against an injustice like slavery than the ones who blindly follow the status quo. Sometimes, following the Lord will mean not submitting to another person.

Practice is much easier now than later.  There are many times down the road when my children will need to say “no”.  Sexual predators rely on the fact that children are taught to obey adult authority in their lives.  I want my children to confidently tell them (and their peers) “no” when they need to. If my parenting has been geared toward teaching them that it is never okay to say “no” to me (especially at risk of physical punishment every single time), how can I expect them to say “no” to another authority or friend?

My parents were pretty strict when I was growing up.  There were many things they forced me to do and many circumstances in which I had to obey, even though I didn’t want to.  But, my parents did a great job listening to me.  They showed me dignity in that my opinion mattered.  Rather than acting as totalitarian authorities, they validated me and my opinions and, in non-essentials, sometimes even went along with my ideas.  Often, I still had to do what they initially had said, but they at least heard me out.

The practice they gave me at speaking my mind throughout my childhood – and the assurance that my saying “no” actually had value – prepared me to expect the same from others later in life.

When I was 16, I went to a friend’s birthday party.  This was by no means a crazy, unsupervised bash, and I was by no means a wild, party girl.  While one of my closest guy friends and I were alone in the backyard getting sodas, he started getting flirty. It started innocently enough, but pretty quickly, I felt like he was trying to pin me to the ground and kiss me.  I started protesting and when it seemed like he wasn’t listening, told him more forcefully that he needed to stop.  Then, I showed him he needed to stop when I threw him to the ground and marched back up to the party alone.  (One of the things my parents forced me to do against my wishes was take karate lessons.  Ha.)

I hope that my parenting will teach my children to expect that someone should listen to them when they are being coerced into something that they know is wrong.  I’m still working out how that plays out in how I parent and I sometimes wish I could stop listening to “no’s” from my toddler.  But, more than wanting them to stop saying “no” to me, I want my children to say “yes” to God, to His love for them, and to His call for them to stand up and follow Him, even when someone else is saying not to.