Tending Our Heart to Love Theirs

DSC02537You love your child a bunch, more than you can put into words. You know there’s a big age and maturity difference between you. You even “get” why he does or says some things. So why is it that we react critically, or even meanly, sometimes, yet other times we don’t?

The short answer is – the condition of our heart. The medium answer is – A lot happens in the day; our heart records all of it, and some recordings need to be edited out. Here’s my longer answer to explain.

One day can hold sweet moments like a hug, a thoughtful text, an unexpected ‘Thanks, Mom’, an adorably mischievous grin, laughter, or obedience. That same day might include a rude remark, a disrespectful tone, an ungrateful attitude, a mean face, or a disappointing decision.

Hours, then days pass in a blur. We live forward, our mind focused to what’s next. More positive and negative experiences occur. Some we deal with and others we don’t. We teach, correct, and forgive our child. We’re prayerful, trying to depend on God for help and guidance. And then we lose it.

The ugly comes out. Why?

DSC02538Our heart hurts. First, we are women. We have feelings and our feelings get hurt. Being a mom is a major role in our life. However, if we see our self solely as a mom with responsibilities, we might unintentionally neglect our self as a person with a heart.

“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 30.17a)

Our kids don’t plan to hurt or disappoint us. They try to practice what we’ve taught; sometimes they hit the mark and other times they don’t – just like us.

DSC02536You may have forgiven your child, but have you unloaded your feelings and experience to God and then invited him to heal your heart? When God heals, he restores and builds our heart stronger.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23.1-3)

Holy God, You alone know all that my heart has recorded. Please show me what I need to unload to you. Thank you for your healing love. Amen.

Here’s Video 07 and the Audio 07! I pray that you’re encouraged and strengthened. Please tap one of the icons below and share with your friends!

Learning, in the Meanwhile

tetherballAs 5 and 6 year-olds, Terrell and Ellison were best buddies but they had their share of fights, too. When they fought, Terrell or I required they reconcile by apologizing, asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness, in turn. They knew the routine and obeyed, though sometimes begrudgingly. Yes, this was exhausting!  But it paid great dividends down the road. In fact, before we were even deep in the trenches of this training, my husband and I learned something significant.

One morning we got in an argument, and it ended with my turning my back in a huff and my husband marching out the door to work. Unfortunately, this took place in full view of the children. A little later as I drove Ellison to kindergarten, he said:
“Mommy, can I ask you somethin’?”
“Sure.”
“How come you make Terrell and me say our ‘sorries’ but you and Daddy don’t?”

My heart sank. Ellison’s words made me cringe with embarrassment. If those are his words, what else has he thought?… How confusing for such a little boy.

My hypocrisy shook my heart. I knew this wasn’t the first time my behavior didn’t match things I was teaching them. This morning I’d behaved like a child, only no one called me back into the room to make up with my husband. I felt guilty about how I’d spoken to Terrell and embarrassed by my contradictory example in front of our kids.

“You’re right, Ellison. Mommy and Daddy didn’t do that right. We teach you and Terrell and Cecilia to say your ‘sorries’. Daddy and I should, too. I’m so glad you said something to me. As soon as I get home, I’m going to call Daddy so we can say our ‘sorries.’”
waterball2Following a conversation of forgiveness, Terrell and I discussed the influence of our example on three sets of watchful eyes and made a plan to follow-up at supper.

“We told God how sorry we are for how we behaved with each other by not asking for each other’s forgiveness. And we told Him we were sorry that we did that in front of you since we’re teaching you to forgive.” Ellison beamed at his acclaimed role in helping Mom and Dad obey God. Then we talked about how hard it is to obey God sometimes. They all nodded knowingly which made us smile.

Next, I think we shocked them. “We want to teach you what God says, and we didn’t set a good example to you. And we’re sorry. Will you forgive us?” Unfamiliar with being asked this question, they nodded their heads – with open mouths.

swingsWhat we didn’t expect was the way our young ones responded. Their eyes were fixed as they tracked with our every word. They were loving and so glad that Mommy and Daddy had made up. As we were humble, their admiration was evident. Their response was God’s grace to us.

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5.5b-6)

Our children witness and process many experiences silently. Terrell and I are grateful to God that on this day Ellison processed his thoughts out loud with me. We learned a powerful lesson.

Raising our children is not all-about-them. In the “meanwhile” of pouring into them, we have much opportunity to learn.

Dear God,
You know that I have much to learn, just as I know my children have much to learn. Help me have a humble and teachable heart. Thank you for loving me so much. Thank you that you are always at work in the “meanwhiles”. Amen.

The Power of Forgiveness

IMG_0807Terrell and I love our children and they love us; we actually like each other a lot, too. But, over the years we haven’t seen eye to eye on all things – like nap times, meal choices, clothing and hair preferences, who sits where in the car, whose turn it is for anything, house rules and responsibilities.

Inadvertently and sometimes intentionally, we hurt one another. We don’t include someone, tease, call names, or make comments that tear down rather than build up. In addition, we all have issues in our lives that affect how we relate with each other – fatigue, the condition of our self-esteem, or working through relationships and circumstances outside the home.

Yet for all the conflict, hurt, and individual issues we’ve had, we’re a close family. A key reason for this is the power of forgiveness.

IMG_0769Forgiveness is an opportunity to restore relationship and to build healthy relationship.

“The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give (italics added) repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” (Acts 5.30-31)

God gives forgiveness that we might have restored relationship with Him. He forgives us for disobeying Him, for offending others, for the grudges we hold.

He sets tone and direction for us.
Because He loves us, He forgives. Not because we deserve it or have earned it.

IMG_0776As disciples, we’re to follow His lead. Forgiven, we forgive.
When we practice forgiveness, we demonstrate love to God and to the person. Showing we value healthy relationship and restoration.

Our gift may be to forgive, or it may be the gift of humbly seeking someone’s (even our child’s) forgiveness. When we forgive, we give the person release from the offense we received. Asking someone to forgive us, we give acknowledgement that we offended and our regret and the opportunity to respond.

In our home, the opportunity to practice is often right around every corner!

Heavenly Father,
We want restored and strong relationships in our family. Please show us where we may need to give You offenses we’re holding on to, and help us to release these to You and help us forgive our child. Please show us where we may need to ask our child’s forgiveness and help us to follow through. Heal our hearts. Heal our relationships. Thank you for Jesus, for the cross, for Your awesome love. Amen.