Questioning What is True?

Have you ever been in a situation with one of your kids where you questioned what is true?  I’m actually in that situation like that right now and I’ll admit it’s a struggle.  I spin daily trying to see the situation from every angle, trying to understand what could have really happened to get us here, and the butterflies in my stomach and feelings of disbelief keep me from accomplishing little except replaying circumstances in my head.  My daily to-do list is slow to materialize and, thankfully, my husband is willing to pick up the slack.

If you are like me, you hurt deeply when there is something you can’t fix with your child.  You can’t change a thing, the damage is done, and all you can do is accept that it-is-what-it-is.

I meditate on scripture knowing that God is somewhere in the circumstance; yet, I question why he would allow this to happen.  I find myself constantly on the brink of tears yet holding them back so I can be strong.

I know in the past I would have questioned what I did wrong as a parent, but I learned years ago that God allows what He allows and my job sometimes is to just learn to walk through it without fear.

Easier said than done.

We think we know our kids by the time they reach their teen years and suddenly we are thrust into circumstances where we question if we really do know them.  They break our heart, do something stupid, make a choice that is against our value system, and even make a decision that we think is against anything we think they are capable of doing.

And then others, usually adults, interject their version of the circumstances and it has us questioning all over again.

What really happened?  What is true?  And how can I  be the adult in the room when I can hardly think?  How can I best put calm to the situation when I’m not even calm?

So what do you do when your world seems tilted sideways and you have no idea what the truth really is in a situation?

  1. Breathe.  Deep breaths bring oxygen to the brain which quiets the mind.  It brings about a state of calmness.
  2. Journal.  What are your fears?  What is keeping you from having peace in the situation?  Take inventory of what is going on within you and put words to your feelings.  Allow yourself to grieve the situation if needed.
  3. Pray and Listen.  Asking for wisdom and discernment in a situation allows the Holy Spirit to speak to you.   Ask Him if there is someone with whom you can share your burden.
  4. Get perspective. Share with a few trusted friends, counselor, or coach.  Others can sometimes see something in the situation that you can’t see because you’re too emotionally attached.  It will at least give you different views and help take bring a clarity that you might not have seen.

God showed up in my personal dilemma yesterday with a phone call.  A person I have never met wanted me to make a decision on a situation real-time in the moment.  I couldn’t do it.  And suddenly with the perspective they shared, I knew what God was calling me to do.

I love it when God does that.

This morning I shared bits and pieces with three trusted friends seeking input.  They all said the same thing confirming my decision.  They put words to their view of the situation that I hadn’t yet discerned.  Now I have clarity to act.  And I have more peace.

I’m so glad God gives us connection with others to help us on the journey when we can’t fully see.

A dear friend sent me some scriptures recently that I’ve been meditating on as I’ve been in this fog-brained state of consciousness filled with disbelief.  If you are in the place where I am, I hope they will renew your strength as you persevere.

Psalm 42:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your HOPE in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Isaiah 40:31

But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, HOPE.  And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

I’m so grateful for those who have been praying for me and our family.  Your texts of encouragement and scriptures have been a God-send when I find myself in the pit.  Please know that I read them over and over.  My journal is filled with the scriptures you’ve sent me and I feel blessed to call you friend.

If you too are having difficulty discerning what is true and could use prayer or a shoulder to dump your bucket on so that you can get perspective, just respond in the comments and I’ll be sure to pray or get in contact.

Thank you for joining me on the journey.

“Let go…and Let God”,







A Different Way to Communicate When Our Teens Disrespect Our Time

A friend and I used to joke about our spiritual gift of driving when our kids were teen.  Hauling kids from school or activities can be a great opportunity to connect with them.  However, sometimes our teens can take advantage of our generosity.   Several years ago, I had a mother share with me her dilemma.  She wanted to be there for her kids but she didn’t know how to set boundaries.

“I just lost it!” she admitted.

Sitting outside the school, Marcia’s anger began brewing as her thoughts began to surface, “How dare she expect me to pick her up after school and then not be out here waiting for me.

She punched in the speed dial number on her phone to reach her daughter only to have it roll to voicemail. “Mom, there is no cell phone service in the school. Do you want me to go find her?” offered Elizabeth. “I’d like to get home too. I have a lot of homework tonight.”

As Elizabeth went to go find her sister, Marcia pulled the car into a parking space. Thinking of all the things she could be doing with her time instead of waiting for her 15 year old yet again, she caught her emotion spinning out of control. Nothing seemed to work in getting Sara’s attention.

As she sat there trying to calm herself, she remembered:

Philippians 2:14

Do everything without complaining or arguing.

“Okay, God, I get it. But does that really mean I’m supposed to sit her and not complain about her continual disrespect of my time?”

As two minutes turned to ten, Marcia tried to reflect on her situation with Sara. There had to be an alternative to this scenario. She didn’t want to continue to play this game on a daily basis. “God, I know I’m not to complain or argue with her, but what do I do?”

Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Alright, Lord. So when Sara gets in the car, I’m not going to complain about her being late. I’m going to be calm. I’m not going to show her how upset I am. But I do need to build her up in a way that she will listen to my needs as well. I obviously don’t need an audience with Elizabeth in the car. This conversation needs to just take place between Sara and me. Give me the ability to keep my mouth in check when she gets here.”

The two sisters finally emerged from the building with another friend in tow. “Mom, you don’t mind giving Ted a ride home do you? He lives about a mile from here. His mom had to take his sister to the dentist this afternoon and couldn’t pick him up.”

Later that evening Marcia found her daughter in her room studying. “Sara, can we talk for a few minutes?”

“Sure, Mom, what’s up?”

“I liked your friend, Ted. He seems real nice.”

“Yeah, he’s cool. He’s in my Spanish class. He’s kind of a nerd, but still cool.”

“You know, I like it that you are my social butterfly. You’ll always have an impact on other people with your ability to connect. I really think God will be able to use you because of your outgoing personality.”

“Thanks, Mom. I really do like to be part of people’s lives.”

“I’d like to talk about that. You see, I’m noticing a pattern that is starting to be a frustration for me. While I love it that you want to connect with people and talk after school, it is forcing me to have to wait longer and longer for you. I love you dearly and want you to have friends, but there are times when I have a lot of things to do in the afternoon and it frustrates me to have to sit in the car for 20-30 minutes waiting. I agreed to pick you up after school so that you wouldn’t have to be on the bus for 40 minutes and it’s not a big deal since I pick up Elizabeth anyway. But I’m feeling like we swapped your 40 minutes for my 40 minutes. I’m wondering if we might be able to work out a solution so that you still have time after school to connect, but Elizabeth and I don’t have to be sitting in the parking lot waiting every day.”

“Mom, I could try to be out there earlier. It’s just that sometimes I get stopped in the hall by one of my friends and I lose track of time.”

“I understand. Those things happen sometimes. It happens to me on Sunday mornings after church when the rest of you are ready to leave.”

“Here is a thought I had. What if on Monday and Friday, I give you extra time after school. I’ll pick up Elizabeth and then go run errands. I’ll plan on picking you up 45 minutes after school is out. You can set your alarm on your phone and meet me outside when it goes off. On the other days, you can stay 5 minutes and no more. Again, set your alarm and meet me outside.”

“Can I change the days or does it have to be Monday and Friday?”

“I can probably be flexible on the days, but we need to clear it with Elizabeth as well because it affects her schedule. I’m also open to any other suggestions you might have. Think about it and we can talk about it tomorrow. Just know that I need you to set your phone alarm for 5 minutes after school is out tomorrow. I don’t want to have to wait like I did today.”

“Okay, Mom. I’m sorry about today. I’ll think about it.”

“We’ll work it out, I’m sure. Just know that I love you and I love how you connect with people. I want you to understand, too, how important it is to be respectful of other people’s time.”

Too many times as parents, how we communicate to our tweens and teens speaks volumes. While conversations like this take time to cultivate, grumbling and complaining about how our kids treat us won’t get us very far in the relationship department or most likely solve the problem long term.

So what are the communication steps?

  1. Start on a positive note.  What is a positive character trait you can encourage your teen with as a result of the situation?
  2. State the problem.  Be honest and keep the emotion out of it.
  3. Have a win/win solution to offer and be open to possible adjustments.
  4. Let your teen know that you love them and that you want to work out a good solution for both of you.

Dare you to offer your teens options when it comes to solving problems and be sure to let them know how precious they are to you.

“Let go…and let God,”

Are You Helping Your Kids Too Much?

Most of us would do anything for our kids.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to say we were always there for them.  We want them to be successful in school, in sports, and in relationships.  Our desire is for our kids to be the best they can be and compete at the highest level.  Yet, I wonder if instead of helping we are stunting their growth.  Are we enabling them to not take care of themselves because they know that we will be there to provide for them no matter what?

What is our real desire for our kids for their future?

And how do we raise kids who become mature adults who can think for themselves, solve their own problems, and have a desire to get ahead in life?

A couple of years ago there was a video on Facebook that was priceless and I think could teach all of us a thing or two about parenting.  A baby elephant had slid into a stream and struggled over and over to pull himself up onto flat land.  The problem was that the ground where he was trying to get out had become so wet and muddy that it became a slide that would not allow him a firm grip.  Over and over he slid back into the stream.  At one point you could tell he seemed to be getting tired.  He quit trying.  He paced back and forth as if he was doing some self-talk. Frustrated at his circumstance he kept circling lowering his trunk into the water.

He paused.  

Then he decided to try again. 

This time as the camera panned out we could see his mother from a distance coaxing him to try harder.  After much time she slowly walked toward him and seemed to hug him as she took her trunk and wrapped it with his.  Knowing nothing about elephants I wondered if she would try to pull him out with her strong trunk.  

But she didn’t.  She actually backed away several feet.

I could almost hear her.  “You can to this.  Come on.  Try again.”

After a few more rounds of slipping, mama elephant slid into the water, encouraged him to try again, and then behind him proceeded to give him a little nudge.  With that, he made it to higher ground.

The question that most of us need to ask ourselves is “At what point do we intervene with our kids and how much assistance do we give?”  Intervening too quickly and and with too much assistance moves us from helper to enabler.   

Sometimes we need to allow our kids to fail so they can actually learn to keep trying.

Enabling allows our kids be irresponsible.  We intervene so they won’t suffer the consequences of their choices.   Sometimes we think we are showing our kids love by helping with homework or picking up after them or giving them money rather than encouraging them to get a job, but will that well-intended help cause them to realize that someone will always be there to bail them out?  What will be the consequences of our actions for their future mate? Will they be looking for a mom-figure who they think should fix the situation causing marital conflict for their future?

If you are a mom who likes to help your kid, maybe it is time to do some soul searching.  What is the driving force behind the extra help that you give your kids?  If your kid is successful have you bought into the lie that it means you are a good mom?  Is the extra help because you don’t believe your kid can do it on his own?  Or maybe you aren’t willing to trust God with your child? 

This isn’t an attempt at condemnation.  It is an honest assessment by you about you.  And this goes for me as well.

Just this week I had my own time of contemplation.  Having had a 26 year old in chronic pain for more than seven years, I’ve been chief caregiver through several surgeries.  It’s natural for me to be involved in his medical situation with doctors.  Yet, I made a phone call this week to ask a question and the nurse who answered the phone caught me by surprise.  He seemed to be a little shocked at my call and said, “Oh, I’m surprised he had you to call.  We only have adult patients.”

Oh my, I thought.  I’m doing exactly what I’m trying to encourage other parents not to do. 

And I realized how easy it is to fall into the trap. 


A harsh truth.

And a wake-up call for me.

Is it time to let your kid be more responsible for his stuff.  Is he the owner of his to-do list or are you owning it?  

I know.  

I’m with you even in my reality of my son’s chronic pain.

And, yes, oh that realization hurts.  OUCH!  But sometimes painful self-assessment can push us to do things differently.

Here are 4 ways to move from enabling to helping:

  • Assess where you might be enabling and make a choice to back off.  Be sure to communicate with your teen, or in my case, twenty-something that you feel like you might be hindering their future and that you want to help them mature.  Let them know when this will go into affect.
  • Ease your child into their new reality.  Too many times parents see that they are doing too much for their kids and make a statement that they are no longer going to do XYZ to help. It can come off as harsh and shuts down the relationship. Sometimes it is better to take baby steps as we try to wean our kids into their new mature behavior.
  • Be their cheerleader.  Send them a text, cheer them on, give them a hug, and let them know you think they can be successful.  It is important to remember that cheerleaders don’t take the ball and try to score.  Once you’ve communicated that it is their game, don’t take the ball back.  If they lose the first game, there is always another opportunity.
  • When they are stuck, give them a nudge from behind (that’s elephant speak).  If you see your kid floundering, offer suggestions, and be ready to get in their space to give a nudge in the right direction.  

I was talking to a mom recently about her kid that she used to bail out because he would get behind on homework assignments and everything would be due at the same time.  When I asked her how things were going, she told me “great”.  “He seems to finally be grasping where my boundary is in how I’m willing to help.  When he comes in needing help with schoolwork, I ask him to take a calendar and decide when he is going to do each assignment.  It is forcing him to make some tough choices between fun activities and grades.”

Whether it is doling out money or giving our kids a ride to school when they could be taking the bus or helping with homework, our kids need to be learning that we’re here to help them be successful not make their life easy.

If we aren’t careful we will believe the lie from the enemy that our job as parents is to pave the way for our kids such that they don’t stumble or experience frustration or pain.  

Galatians 6:5 

For each will have to bear his own load.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Dare you to assess if you are more an enabler than helper and choose to nudge your teen toward adulthood. 

“Let go…and let God”,

Emotionally Supporting Our Kids

I remember it well.  The phone call, I mean.  Mrs. Hitchcock, this is Sargent (whatever his name) from the police department.  I’ll admit, I’m not sure at that moment if I caught all the details.  All I remember was the pause after I hung up with him.

My husband was standing nearby and must have seen the look of shock on my face.  “What is it?” he asked.

I couldn’t speak.

“What’s wrong?” he asked again.  “Talk to me.”

And that’s when I knew that I had moved forward in my ability to contain my emotion.  I looked at him calmly even though my heart was pounding out of control inside my chest, held up my hand to let him know I needed a second to think, and took a deep breath.  “Everything will be alright.  God’s got this. I whispered to myself.

With that I collected my thoughts and explained what I remembered from the phone conversation.  As my husband began to process, I could sense his heightened emotions and mind reeling out of control.  “Honey, it’s going to be okay.  I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, but we need to remember that God is in the middle of it.  He’ll help us work through it.  We just need to be strong for our kid.” I calmly cautioned.

The truth is our kids will make mistakes.  We might not get a call from the police, but what about the school?  Or another parent or coach?  A boss?  A youth leader?

And how will you respond?

Will you have taken the time to get your own emotions under control before engaging with your teen? 

Or will you launch a dynamite explosion screaming at them for being so stupid? 

Or maybe you will become so agitated and frustrated at the situation that you’ll disconnect from them as if it is all their problem to fix because you don’t want to deal with it?

What our kid really needs in moments like these are calm and emotionally supportive parents.  They need to see an adult (with adult like behaviors) who is there to walk beside them regardless of the mess they have gotten into.  This is an opportune time to be their “solid rock” who will walk with them as they navigate the jams they find themselves in.

One of the things I’ve learned to do in my parenting is to discern the situation and try to see both sides.  Too often when my kids were younger, I would typically take the adult’s view of the situation as truth over my child’s perspective.  After all, we think that an adult perspective is the mature view.  Right?

Oh, how many times I have discovered that not to be the case.

Let me explain.

I remember a situation that involved one of my sons and another adult.  On the surface, I understood why the adult thought my son was guilty; however, I knew he didn’t have all the facts.  On my first encounter, I supported this man rather than my son.  After all, this man was an authority figure in my son’s life and had strong christian moral values.

What I didn’t realize at the time (but it became obvious on the second encounter) was that this man had a flawed perspective with students.  His moral compass said “guilty until proven innocent”.  Rather than talking with the student, understanding the student’s thought processes that led to the action, and deciding the consequences based on the student’s heart, he issued punitive edicts that affected my son’s ability to learn in the classroom.  He took learning opportunities away instead of being supportive.  There was no doubt in my mind this adult in my son’s life had put him in a box and labeled him “problem child”.  Rather than walk beside him, this man became my son’s judge and jury communicating that he (not his behaviors) was unacceptable.

So how can you walk beside your teen in these type situations?

  1. Assume a neutral position until all the facts are in.  Don’t necessarily assume your child is guilty.  Even if all the facts say they are guilty, be the person in their life that shows compassion and treats “mistakes” as “learning opportunities”.
  2. Ask open ended questions and then listen.  When our kids are accused of something by an adult, a simple question like, “So what happened?”, without a tone of accusation, may be all you need to hear your teen’s heart and thought process.  We all see things through a different lens and while our teens don’t typically have a full grasp of everything involved, neither do most adults.
  3. Discern the situation.  Many times as parents we react based on our emotions.  When our teen is accused of something, it impacts us in some way.  Take those feelings and the circumstances and pray about it asking God for discernment.  Ask him to show you perspective from both sides.
  4. Teach.  Take the opportunity to ask your teen to think through the situation from the adult’s point of view.  What was right in the way the adult saw the situation?  What information does the adult not have?  What could your child have done differently to avoid the situation?  Share your perspective of their wrongdoing.  And be sure to normalize the situation offering understanding as to why your teen did what they did.
  5. Encourage apology and reconciliation.  Regardless of the circumstance, teaching our teens to restore the relationship is important.  It doesn’t mean that the other person is right.  It just means that the relationship is broken.  Teaching our children that their actions do affect other people helps them realize that they don’t live in a vacuum.
  6. Love your teen regardless of the situation.  When our teens hurt us with their actions and impact other relationships that are important to us and them, our teens need to know that we always choose them.

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Emotionally supporting our kids when their world is falling apart will give them the hope to trust God in all things.

“Let go…and Let God”,