Tag Archive for: listening

Remember or Dismember?

Something our pastor said this week really got my attention.

“The opposite of ‘remember’ is not necessarily ‘forget’; it’s dismember.” Read more

Dare 20 – The Respect Dare – How do I Respect My 20-Something?

I was absolutely elated! The phone call had finally come! “We’ve been able to move your son’s appointment up to July. Will that work?”

“Absolutely! You really did get him in for July? This is great! I was beginning to doubt this would even be a possibility! Thank you.”

As I started listening to the details of the scheduled appointments for my son’s medical condition, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement at what God was doing. I had shared the prayer request with everyone that I knew. His original appointment had been scheduled for September, almost 20 days after his junior year of college was to begin. If the appointment hadn’t been changed, he would have had a decision to make: college and continued pain or the possibility of resolution at a pain clinic. I knew what he was thinking. There was no way he wanted to skip a year of college waiting for what “might happen.”

After hanging up the phone, I couldn’t wait to start telling everyone the news. My son would be able to start classes in August as we had hoped! God had answered our prayer!

Just as I began the Facebook post giving God the glory, my fingers paused. “How will Michael take the news? It means that he will only have a week left of his summer vacation. It means a 23 hour car ride. It means he will live out of a hotel for 3 ½ weeks. It means a full-day program going to doctor after doctor. It means going straight from the pain program into college classes.

And I began to feel a real sadness…for him and for me.

It means that summer is almost over.

It means the mad rush of getting things in order to leave in a week.

As we sat at the dinner table that night, I wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. He did it for me. “What did you do today, Mom?”

“I was on the phone a lot.”

“What for?”

“Well, I need to tell you, I’ve got some good news and possibly some bad news.”

“Like what, Mom?”

“They were able to move your clinic appointment up.”

His jaw dropped.

“But it means we’ll have to leave next week. You’ll be back right in time for classes to start.”

That’s when his frustration began to rise.

“What do you mean? My summer is over! This is crazy. I don’t want to go. I’m not ready to give up the rest of my summer! I’m 21 and I don’t have to go. Tell me you won’t make me. You’re not going to hold this over my head are you? Are you going to start taking things away because I won’t do what you think I should do?” All the angst and frustration at the situation came tumbling out.

I held my tongue and let him spew.

It wasn’t easy.

I tried to resist telling him all the reasons why my logic made more sense than his did at the moment. And I told him how sorry I was for the circumstances he was in. I told him I would probably feel the same way if I was in his shoes.

He started sorting through all the reasons why this was a bad idea while I tried to gently counter his thinking. Then the words came out. “Mom, is this MY decision?”

The moment of truth had arrived. Could I live with it being HIS decision?

And that’s when I realized that in actuality I couldn’t make this man’s decision for him. He may be my son, but he is a man…responsible to God for whatever decisions he makes. He is the one who would have to be willing to work through their program. I could spend all my time and energy getting him there, I could spend money on a hotel for the 3 ½ week program, but in reality, it had to be him to do the work. This was for him and not for me.

Painfully, I assured him that it was his decision.

He then told me that he would need to hear back from a couple of loose ends from doctors he had recently seen before he would be willing to commit to the program.

I told him I would be praying for his decision.

The next day, God showed up! The doctor called closing up the loose ends.

Meanwhile, I prayed that God would show my son which path to take. I continued to make arrangements in hopes of my son making the decision to go through with the program.

Finally, I ventured into potential conflict. “Michael, I’d really like you to help me make some of the decisions around this trip. I want to make it as much of an enjoyable time as is possible given the circumstances. Would you help me pick a hotel?”

“We’re going to have to go, aren’t we, Mom?” he whispered in a voice not wanting to believe that it was necessary.

“I think it is best.”

As the silence ensued, I looked at him. “God has purpose in all this, son. Maybe you are supposed to be here at this time so you can minister to someone else. There will be lots of kids there in pain. Maybe you can make their time easier. You know, the younger ones will look up to you. You’ve been working with high school kids all summer at church. Maybe you can help the time pass more quickly for everyone.”

“Mom, let’s stay at the hotel across from the clinic. Maybe I can get some card games going in the lobby at the end of the day! I’d like to be in an easy access location so that kids can come hang out.”

Psalm 40:2

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Really knowing our 20-somethings and letting them recognize that we respect them as adults can make a huge difference in the decisions they make.

Dare you to try out some of these skills.

  1. Allow your 20-something to vent when they are frustrated.
  2. Validate their feelings. Let them know you would probably feel the same way if you were in their shoes.
  3. Recognize that they ARE adults. They will have to deal with the consequences of their decisions.
  4. Appeal to their bent. Help them see the positives of a good decision and how God might be using them.
  5. Celebrate their good choices and let them know you love to watch how God is maturing them.

Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

“Let go…and let God,”

Hope you will join Nina Roesner as she provides insight on marriage and Leah Heffner as she blogs to wives with little people as we go through The Respect Dare together.






Dare 12 – The Respect Dare – It’s Not About ME? – For Parents of Tweens & Teens

Cornered as we walked into church on Sunday morning, I watched another mom reach out to my junior high son just steps ahead of me. “Not so fast,” she murmured, “we need to talk with your mom.” Not even allowing him to speak, she ushered my 13 year old son over to me. I watched as he bowed his head in shame knowing what was coming next.

“You would not believe what your son did yesterday!” she hissed. “Do you know the kind of things that your son is doing to animals? He’s torturing them…torturing them and then laughing about it to his friends! You need to know that what he is doing is absolutely sick! I heard all about it when he was in my car yesterday. Your poor cat! Did you know that he stuck that poor kitten into a …”

Luckily, this was not my first time encountering one-of-those moms. In the past, I had handled these situations all wrong, frustrated that my child had embarrassed me in front of another adult! Horrified at what they were being accused of, I would make sure to take my child down a notch or two in front of the other mom, allowing her to see that I was a ‘good’ mom who took my parenting role seriously.

Truth be known, and I do hate to admit it, I’ve been one of those moms myself when my kids were younger. You know….sitting there in judgment…wanting to make sure that I played the role of traffic cop well, radar
watching for any offense that I saw as being wrong. “After all”, I reasoned, “if I don’t point out this weakness in a kid to his parents, then it can’t be dealt with. I would want to know if my child did something like this. I need to do the same for other parents.”

Whoa…faulty thinking on my part!!


With time, I had learned the error of my ways. This time, I was more prepared to salvage the relationship with my son rather than prove that I was a good mom…rather than believe that the adult side of the story was right when I knew there were two sides. I had learned through scripture and experience that my son deserved a fair trial.

…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8b

“Lord, help me to take a deep breath and walk humbly with you in this situation.” I muttered to myself.

After taking our verbal chastisement from Mrs. Gibson, I assured her that I would speak to my son about it and thanked her for her concern. Quickly, I swept my son out of the woman’s sight with arms around his back laughingly asking him, “Are you alright?”

With a sheepish nod, he replied, “Mom, it wasn’t like that at all!

“It’s okay, son, we’ll work through it. I know you well enough that there has to be another side to this story. We’ll talk about it after lunch this afternoon. Don’t worry about Mrs. Gibson. Just go enjoy Sunday school with your friends.”

He gave me a slight smile as I winked at him, assuring him that we’d get through the ordeal with the now dreaded, Mrs. Gibson.

As I expected, Mrs. Gibson’s version was far from what I thought my son was capable of conjuring up on his own.

“Son, so tell me what happened yesterday when you were in the car with Mrs. Gibson.”

As my son rattled off the events of the previous day, the light bulb began to illuminate. Oh my, these weren’t his stories…these were stories his dad had told him about pranks he remembered being played during his college days! I wasn’t sure if I was more upset that my husband had actually shared those stories with our kids or horrified to think that my son might have actually considered doing something similar on his own.

“Son, did you ever do that to our cat?” I ventured.

“Mom, you know how it is with us guys. We sometimes do stupid stuff, and I will admit that one time I stuck her in the old microwave out in the garage. But it wasn’t plugged in! We intended to get her out right away, but you remember, the door got stuck and Dad had to take it apart to get the cat out. I felt horrible! I would never intentionally hurt Duchess!”

“It was the same way, yesterday,” he continued. “Mark, James, and I laughed retelling the story of Duchess, and one thing led to another, and James told us what his dad had done to the dog when it died, and the stories just kept getting more and more exaggerated. Mrs. Gibson thought they were all true and started yelling at us before we had a chance to explain.”

“So she doesn’t know the truth?” I asked, trying to hide the laughter that was welling up inside me.

“I guess not.”

As we put together a plan for him to redeem himself with Mrs. Gibson, I thanked God that I had kept my cool with my son after Mrs. Gibson’s reprimand. My husband and I would have a good laugh about this one tonight behind closed doors. Boys at this age can get themselves in the strangest predicaments!

BOTTOM LINE: Our Kid’s behavior is not about us! We sometimes want to think that it is…but it isn’t. Our first inclination is to “prove” that we are good parents by giving other parents what they want…some sort of chastisement for what they see as a child’s sin. In reality parenting is about helping our children know that we will always believe in their innocence until they are proven guilty. If we listen to both sides, before passing judgment, we have a better chance of building relationship even through the trials of the tween and teen years.

Dare you to ask questions next time a situation appears to incriminate your child, holding your tongue until all sides have spoken.

Learning beside you.

“Let go…and let God”

Be sure to join Nina Roesner and Leah Heffner as we blog through The Respect Dare together!

The Respect Dare – Dare One

Expectations! I can tell you emphatically that I have them for my kids. I can’t tell you my entire list of all my expectations for my tweens and teens because there wouldn’t be enough space to list them!

You know the drill…Keep your room clean, don’t talk back to me, don’t fight with your siblings, get your homework done…

And the list goes on…and on…

But the most important one would be. Don’t embarrass me!

You know what I mean here. Don’t do something that my friends will see…that would make them think I was a bad parent. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, drink, or get someone pregnant would probably be at the top of the list. Of course, you have your own list based on how you were raised.

The Respect Dare may have been written for married women, but as I sat in a Daughters of Sarah classroom (the class that the book is based on) I was focused on my relationship with one of my teens. I’ll admit it needed lots of work. I had expectations that this teen had no desire to fulfill. Every step I took toward attempting to move this one forward toward adulthood ended in more anger, more frustration, and more tears for both of us. Rules didn’t apply. Fun didn’t work. This one wanted to move out and I was ready to see that happen. Nothing I attempted brought us together.

Until Daughters of Sarah

It was all about my expectations.

You see, I wanted this teen to change! I wanted relationship! Why couldn’t this teen and I have a connection like I had with my other kids?

And Daughters of Sarah taught me that it was about letting go of expectations for other people…even my children. It was time to start focusing on my relationship with God. I needed to rely on Him to solve the problem. The only person I could really change was me!

I love how Sarah Young puts it in her devotional Jesus Calling, “When your private world feels unsteady and you grip (Jesus’) hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.”

That’s what I want as I go through The Respect Dare again; this time with you. I want to know Him more and depend on Him to change me.

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isn’t that what we want for our kids? Maturity.

Well, the same goes for us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I hear something come out of my mouth to my teens, I wonder if I’ve arrived at that place of maturity! I have screamed, I have been known to use condescending language and flippant remarks, I have issued ultimatums in anger, and truth be told, if the video camera was rolling…those watching would be laughing their heads off! Maturity? My behavior is anything but.

As we go through Nina Roesner’s book together, I would encourage you to focus on expectations for yourself and think of the expectations you need to let go of for your teen. What areas would God like you to change in dealing with your teens? Most likely, it is an area where there is the most conflict.

My list looks like this:

  • Allow my teen to manage his own daily schedule without me continually asking if his homework is done.
  • If anger starts to rise, I will request that we have a cooling off period and resume conversation when the sparks have died down.
  • No longer harp at my daughter when she speeds into the driveway.

If you are like me and have multiple teens, having more than three goals might be overwhelming. If all three can apply to all the kids, then it will be easier to build relationship with each of them.

I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer with the God who can change lives!

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Thanks for joining me on this journey~

Wherever this journey takes you…TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

My desire above all else is for you to strengthen your relationship with God and your tweens and teens!

“Let go…and let God.”


Dare you to bravely share the three things you are going to work on changing “in His strength” as we take this path together.

Double dare you to subscribe to my blog!

Be sure to join Nina Roesner, www.ninaroesner.com, and Leah Heffner, www.leahheffner.com as they take The Respect Dare journey with me. You can visit our website at www.GreaterImpact.com for more information about our ministry.

Go For the Wall

On the way home, 12 year old Matt looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to swim this summer! I’m done!”

“Matt, you’ve always loved swimming! You’ve broken several meet records. Your coach says you have the ability to make it to the top. Why would you give that up?”

“It’s boring. I just don’t want to do it anymore.”

“Matt, remember that swim meet where you were in the lead and then ended up in fourth place? Remember? What did the coach tell you?”

“I know, Mom. Go for the wall and don’t look side to side,” he mumbled.

“Is that what you are doing? Are you going for the wall or looking side to side here? The coach keeps telling you you’re one of the best. We all see it. Why would you give that up?

The volume of Matt’s voice filled the car.

“This isn’t about looking at anything but me, Mom! It’s about me! I spend every day after school in the water and then the weekends are taken up with swim meets. I’ve done it for five years! I want to do something different! You can’t make me keep doing this! I’m quitting!!”

As a parent, these moments make me cringe. I want success for my child.

I want him to find something where he can excel!

 I like the camaraderie of the team.

 I love to watch when my child is at the top!

 My job is to make sure he stays in the game.

Or is it?

 “Of course, you aren’t quitting the swim team, son! We’ve invested a lot of money into this and you have potential for a college scholarship! Your coach has told us we would be crazy to let you quit now! No way should you be thinking of quitting,” his dad lectured. “Here’s what we’ll do. I know that practice starts at 6:30 in the morning this summer. I’ll go with you. We’ll take a thermos of hot chocolate. We’ll do it together son.”

The chilly summer mornings continued. Day after day Matt and Dave got up early to go to practice. Each morning Matt came home looking miserable.

 I shared what was going on with my friends from the team.

 “Of course you can’t let him quit. He’s a critical member of the team.”

“I wish my son had Matt’s talent. You would be stupid to let him quit.”

 And the comments were the same everywhere I turned.

 As I spent time alone with God, I sensed Him saying. “What is the goal, Debbie? Is getting a free ride to college more important than your relationship with Matt? Why do you want him to continue to swim when he doesn’t want to? Is this about what others are telling you is best for Matt? Are your plans for him more important than mine?”

 Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men, know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It Is Christ whom you serve.

As I contemplated the questions that were spinning in my head, I felt a peace that it was time to let the swim team go. Guess I needed to talk to Dave. I needed his buy-in to the decision. “Lord, if this is the right decision, give me your words to change his mind.”

 “Dave, I know that you would like Matt to continue swimming. So would I. But I think we should look at the big picture. You know how you always told Matt to go for the wall and not look side to side? What is the wall? Is it a scholarship or a good relationship with Matt that will last a lifetime?”

 “I think I have been looking side to side too much,” I continued. I’ve been asking everyone else’s opinion rather than figuring out what the real wall is. Would you do me a favor and spend some time asking God what the goal is and then let’s talk?”

 “Debbie, we don’t need to talk. I’ve been praying every morning while Matt is in the water. He’s lost his enthusiasm. I’m almost more worried for you that he needs to quit, than I am for him. These swim moms have become your friends. He’s ready to disengage. You’re the one who needs to be ready to grieve the loss. Are you ready?”

BOTTOM LINE: There are a lot of good activities to be involved in, but are they ones that will help us reach the ultimate goal of relationship that will last a lifetime. Go for the wall, His wall, and don’t look side to sideJ

 DARE YOU to see if there are activities you tweens and teens are involved in that they are only pursuing because of your desires.

 DOUBLE DARE you to cultivate a time to listen to your tweens and teens. Are you giving them choices to make their own decisions on whether they’re still passionate about their activities?

 Learning that I sometimes need to give up my desires for my tweens and teens.

“Let go…and let God.”