Can I Love My Kids Too Much?

Several years ago, when I was at my wits end with one of my kids, someone recommended  a book  When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent.  I’ve often thought about that title and how it applies to our daily lives, especially as we parent.

With more than a decade since I read her book, the words seem to be following me recently. “Am I ready to lay my Isaac down?”

For those of you who might need a refresher of the story from scripture, Abraham had a promise from God that he would be the father of many nations.   It wasn’t until Abraham was 100 years old that Isaac was born.  As the Word tells us, at one point Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son.  Yes, kill him!

It was as if God was saying, “Who do you love more–Me or your son Isaac?”

While that seems absolutely unfathomable for us as parents that God would ask any one of us to take our child’s life, an even more profound question would be, “Would you trust God with the outcome?”

If you remember the ending of the story, Abraham chose that God knew what was best.  He went to make Isaac a sacrifice, but right before laying him on the alter, God provided a ram to take Isaac’s place.  It was as if God was saying, “I just want to see if you trust me.  I just want to know that you will listen to my voice and heed my instruction.”

As parents, most of us love our children with our whole being.  We would do absolutely anything for them.

But think about Abraham for a moment.  He was 100 years old!  He had waited a century for his child to be born.  How easy it would have been to wrap all his attention, all his resources, and all his time into Isaac and put him up on a pedestal to be front and center in his life.  How easy to revolve his whole world around this child making all of Isaac’s wishes come true.

And then I have to pause.  

Do I love God more than I love my children?

Am I willing to give up my child’s desires to focus on what God wants for my child? For me?

Do I love my child so much that my world revolves around my child’s world?


Definitely something to think about in a culture that is so child centered.

It is easy as moms to love our children too much.  Yes, you heard me right–too much.

We can love our children so much that we:

  • Make sure that we solve their problems for them.
  • Intervene when they are forgetful and come to the rescue.
  • Do everything in our power to not let them fail.
  • Expend all our energy on our kids rather that doing other things that we’re called to do.
  • Are too busy to spend time with God because our new spiritual gift is driving our kids places.

Genesis 22:9-18

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Isn’t that what we want as moms?  That God will bless our offspring because of our obedience to a mighty God who loves us so deeply that He wants relationship with us.

Don’t we want that for our kids?

Dare You to define your relationship with God in your choices as you parent.  Chose to lay your Isaac down and love Him and give your kids to Him in the process.  It doesn’t mean that we’re not there to walk beside them.  It means that we allow the struggles and we allow God to orchestrate their path, so that they learn that they have a need to depend on God instead of us in their time of need.

“Let go…and let God”,


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When Our Kids Come Home

Melanie lay across the university lawn excited yet tentative. She couldn’t wait until finals were over…one more to go and she would be finished with the semester. Yet she wasn’t ready to leave the university. She loved the comradery of being with the other kids not to mention the independence of doing what she wanted when she wanted. To go back home to be a “child” in her parents’ home for the summer was not something she was looking forward to. She knew they would be harping about her finding a job the minute she walked in the door. She had applied for a summer internship she thought would be so much fun and would surround her with people her own age, but unfortunately she didn’t get it. Most of her friends lived in other parts of the country so there wouldn’t be much social life for her summer.

She found herself becoming a bit agitated as she started packing her belongings. If only she had a more exciting summer planned!

Back at home, Jill, Melanie’s mom was apprehensive about the turn of events for their summer. She was disappointed that Melanie didn’t get the internship she had wanted. She would have been perfect for the youth camp position! Yet, Jill was looking forward to getting another summer with her daughter. “There won’t be too many summers like this left,” she thought to herself. “Before we know it, Melanie will be graduating and moving on with her life. I just hope we can find a sense of rhythm where we can enjoy each other.”

Then there was re-entry!

It took forever to unpack the van! “Why did she take so much to school,” was muttered more than once from Mark, Melanie’s dad. Then there was the mess that hadn’t been cleaned out of the refrigerator for an entire year and the mountains of laundry that engulfed the laundry room. The family room was swimming in boxes and plastic tubs filled with school supplies and miscellaneous dorm room paraphernalia. She could tell Mark was struggling to work through their new reality.

Melanie was mourning the loss of her friends at school while Mark was mourning the simpler life without stuff everywhere. It took days to get the house to some semblance of “normal”.

Melanie muttered her dissatisfaction with life on more than one occasion. “I wish I could have just stayed at school! I could have taken a couple of summer classes. Then life wouldn’t be so boring. There is no one to hang out with here.”

Jill held her tongue. Re-entry wasn’t easy on any of them. The simple life of just she and Mark had grown accustomed, eating when they chose, doing what they wanted whenever they decided, and working their schedules around just the two of them had come to an abrupt halt with Melanie home. Enjoying a cup of tea on the back patio while Melanie was still asleep gave Jill an opportunity to work through her emotions of the changes.

“Lord, help me realize your purpose in having Melanie home this summer. Help us to re-acclimate to having us all under the same roof.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.…

“That’s it. I need to recognize that this is a season. This is a time to build up our new relationship,” Jill breathed in praise as she sat quietly in His presence.

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.

“Lord, that is my prayer. Whatever I speak to Melanie over the next several months, may it build her up. When she is crabby and lets her emotion fly out of her mouth at the frustration of her circumstances at home, may I remind her that it is only a season and encourage her to try to enjoy the moments we have as a family. May the words I speak to her bring a balm to her soul such that she will return to school in the fall knowing that her parents love her.”

Re-entry is a stressful time for everyone when the kids come home from college. It can become a mourning of freedom and independence for both the parents and the student. Realizing that this too shall pass and is but a season of life should help everyone. My prayer is that when the stress is high and feelings of frustration come into play, that you remember that your student will either leave your home in the fall anxious to get away from you or anxious to continue their life journey.

Dare you to provide a place of respite from the demands of college life rather than pressure cooker where your students can’t wait to leave.

“Let go…and let God,”



What Makes a Good Mom?

When I’m in the depths of despair with one of my kids, frustrated with their choices, and wishing things could be different, sometimes I have no idea what being a good mom really looks like.  I vacillate with what the right decision should be in the moment and it’s easy to get down on myself–after all, I should have been able to change the situation.  Right?

As I have been contemplating this in the NOW I’m in, searching for truth, and wanting so badly to be the best mom possible in the middle of the circumstances, I’ve started asking myself, “What would a good mom do in this situation?”

Sometimes being a good mom means being a tough mom.  Regardless of what my child wants, I need to be strong enough to do what he needs in the moment.  Figuring that out isn’t always easy.

At other times being a good mom means showing compassion and allowing my teen to see my heart that resonates Jesus with skin on.  A hug, a gentle touch, or a word of hope can move my young adult to a place of believing in themselves again.

Being a good mom is sometimes guessing who we need to do in the moment. And when we don’t get it right, rather than getting down on ourselves, being willing to apologize and push the reset button trying a different tactic to get forward movement.

As I’ve been contemplating all the aspects of being a good mom, I’ve started compiling a list of the different things I need to be.  Some of these come easier for me than others.  But at times, I need to play the position that doesn’t come natural because it is what my kid needs in the moment.  My automatic reaction might not be the best approach.

So here’s my current list.  I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface and I’d love for you to add to it at the end of this blog.

As you go through the list, my hope is that you’ll take an internal inventory.  What comes naturally to you?  What do you need to add to your list of skills so that your reactions to every situation are not always the same?  If you find that you fall short in an area, this is an opportunity to think about what will be different in your next difficult parenting interaction.

But above all else, give yourself grace.

A Good Mom…

  1. Listens intently
  2. Uses concise communication so there is no question as to the point
  3. Encourages and supports rather than criticize
  4. Knows that their child’s happiness is not at the top of the priority list
  5. Is God-dependent and confident that He has the answers for every situation
  6. Is willing to apologize and make amends without making excuses or blaming someone else
  7. Models healthy relationship
  8. Discusses kid concerns with Dad so that a unified decision can be reached
  9. Let’s her kids make mistakes rather than try to control situations
  10. Willingly pushes the reset button when things aren’t going well
  11. Acknowledges and respects that her children are separate human beings and not extensions of her
  12. Is calm in the middle of life’s storms
  13. Takes care of herself so that she can better take care of her children
  14. Knows her values and models them for her children
  15. Is aware of conversations/conflicts that are getting out of control and chooses to pause the discussion until everyone is able to communicate with a sense of calm
  16. Assesses situations to find the facts before jumping to conclusions
  17. Let’s her ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and her ‘no’, ‘no’ without manipulation from her teen
  18. Stands firm in her values when making decisions
  19. Shows empathy and compassion
  20. Offers encouragement
  21. Coaches her teen through difficult situations
  22. Avoids jumping to conclusions
  23. Is consistent
  24. Asks open-ended questions that encourage her teens to tell their story
  25. Teaches her kids that God is walking with them through every struggle 
  26. Chooses to accept her child as God created them rather than comparing them to others
  27. Keeps fear in check so that worry isn’t the focus of daily living
  28. Creates a close circle of friends with whom she can share her parenting struggles without concern for gossip
  29. Loves unconditionally
  30. Allows her kids to think for themselves

And above all else has a relationship with Jesus Christ and trusts Him for the outcome. 

Psalm 62:8

“Trust in him at all times, oh people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

Psalm 20:7

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

Psalm 56:3

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Psalm 112:7

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.”

“Let Go…and Let God”,




Change Around the Corner?

Graduation time always has me thinking of transitions.  I coined a phrase from a friend who was talking about the changes with her daughter.  She calls them her “happy/sad” moments.  I don’t know about you, but that phrase conjures up a lot of emotional images for me.  I find it awesome that she takes time to notice her feelings of these moment-in-time changes as she goes through the parenting process.  There are SO many of these times to recall as our kids start gaining more freedom.

  • Happy that your child is off having fun with friends; sad that she doesn’t need you as much.
  • Happy that your teen is starting to see success in several areas of his life; sad that he doesn’t share as much with you.
  • Happy that your teen is graduating; sad that you’ll miss her when she goes away to college.

We’ve all been there through each change, sometimes happy for the passage from one phase into the next, but a bit of sadness of the unknown. 

As I write, my daughter-in-law left her 17 month old for the first time this past week.  I watched as she quickly made her flight reservations excited for a break.  As she neared the airport, I watched the tears flow.  Happy/sad indeed.

“Happy/sad” moments are a clue that we need to change our parenting especially during the teen years.  If we watch for them, we’ll know what the next step should be.

Unfortunately, by the time our tweens and teens are in middle and high school, we’ve sometimes become so accustom to these “happy/sad” moments that we almost forget to take notice of our emotion.  We get trapped in the norm of change and forget that  we need to start parenting differently.

I loved it last week when my friend sent me a text.  “Happy/sad.  My daughter got her license last week and now drives herself to work.  Excited Megan has more freedom and I have more time. Missing our long talks together in the car.  How do I get my daily time back with her?”

Each of the “happy/sad” situations we encounter typically means less interaction with our kids.  So it means we have to be more intentional in connecting with them.  We need to be an initiator in the relationship.  The hard part to the equation is that as our kids get these new freedoms, they have more things they can do and more people to interact with that can keep them entertained.  They no longer need us.

Or so they think.

So what can we do?

  • Engage with them intentionally.  What fun things do you both enjoy?  Sports?  Hobbies? Food usually works, especially Starbucks.
  • Take note of what they like to do and schedule a date with them.  Don’t forget to remind them as the date gets close.
  • Let them know that you miss your time with them.  “Honey, I’m excited that you have your license and are becoming an adult.  I want you to know that I miss our talk time in the car.  I don’t want to lose our connection since you’ve only got a couple of years left here at home.  What kind of things could we do?”

As your kids move through their milestones toward freedom, we have to become more deliberate in connecting with them and also make sure that we don’t become someone who is overly needy of their time.  Learning to let go sometimes means that we need to find other people or projects to fill the void of time we are typically with our child.  Try to remember that you are learning to walk a tightrope balancing life so that your tween and teen feel free to grow and explore and will know that you’ll be just fine when they do leave.

Isaiah 43:18-19

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Each new phase we enter with our children gives us a new opportunity for growth.  “Letting go” means we have to trust God more and more with those we love and if we do it well, we’ll reap the benefits of growing closer to Him in the process.

Glad you’re on the journey with me.  If you have a new graduate, celebrate the happy/sad moments.

“Let go…and let God”,



So what “happy/sad” moments are you currently wrestling with?

Are Other Moms Hiding from You?

I have a confession to make.  I used to hide from other moms.

Let me explain.  I’d pretend I didn’t see them or walk in a different direction diverting my eyes hoping they wouldn’t notice me.  I’d pull back from interacting with the moms who always seemed to want to share the latest new accomplishment or wise choice or great opportunity of their kid that was similar in age to mine.  If I did interact with them, I would listen and try to engage in their excitement only to walk away feeling defeated.

My child wasn’t measuring up — translate, I must be a loser parent.

I have another confession to make.  I’ve also been that mom that I’m guessing other moms wanted to hide from.

You see, it is natural to want to shout it from the mountaintop when our kid succeeds or makes wise choices.  It is easy to think that our parenting skills put that child at the head of their class so to speak.  Our kids can make us proud.

We can also be a proud parent in one moment only to be in the pit of despair the next moment when they do something that we find frustrating or life-altering.  Yes, being a parent can be unbelievably difficult at times.

And when our kids do something that everyone can see, that’s when we want to hide.

Whether it is really happening or just our imagination, we hide out of fear — fear of judgment, fear of exclusion, and fear of gossip and what others are thinking.  Our kid’s behavior can be demoralizing for us.  It can cause repercussions for our child.  It can break our hearts.

I talk to women on a regular basis who are exactly where I’ve been.  They feel like they can’t talk to the other moms that they have always called their friends.  

Our kids’s choices can make us feel shame as we parent because we’ve wrapped our identity up in their behavior rather than our identity in Christ.

Sad, but true.

These women need a safe place to land.  They need someone who will listen without passing judgment.  They need someone who will openly share their parenting heartaches as well, so these parents don’t feel like the worst parent on the planet.

These moms need someone who will emotionally hold them even as their world is falling apart — someone who will cry with them and laugh with them in a way that says things will be okay.

They need another mom who can point them to the truth — we can’t be God in our children’s lives.  We can’t always control our children’s choices.  All we can do is love them through it and give them a safe place to land when they are ready to make better decisions.

Regardless of where our children are in the moment – great kids making great choices — or challenging kids making poor choices, can we share the love of Christ with those who are hurting in their parenting walk?  Can we walk into the hurting parent’s world offering a hug and no judgment?

Maybe instead of saying “Look what my kid did” (implying what a great parent we must be), maybe we can say something like “Look what God is doing in my child’s life”.

Choosing to see God in our children’s lives takes away the parenting mountaintop experience or the depths of despair and will unify us in a way that can take away the stigma of shame when our kids make mistakes.  After all, it isn’t about our kids.  It isn’t about us as parents.  It’s about Him.

Romans 8:1

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

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
Dare you to be the Christian mom God has called you to be as you walk beside those who are hurting.
“Let go…and Let God”,
If you would like to encourage moms who are struggling or even if you just want a better relationship with your own teen, why not build a community of parents who would like to learn together?
With All Due Respect isn’t a book to sit down and read, it’s curriculum.  Actually it is a devotional and a course with stories and prayers all rolled into one that can be completed in 40 days.  What’s more is that every group leader we’ve talked to has told us the same thing, “Parents and teachers alike need this information!”  We promise you that by starting your own group, you’ll make close friends and be able to share and pour into other moms unlike anything you’ve seen before.  It will challenge you to set a path for healthy launch of your kids.
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