Raising Kids to be Eternity Focused

The following is an excerpt from Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


When Jessica was about nine, she was holding our cat, Essie. Essie was squirming in her arms, and quietly let out a warning growl. I was cleaning the kitchen while listening to a podcast so I was only mildly paying attention to what was going on.

She has an attitude problem. Not my daughter, the cat. Essie can look at you from across the room and you know what she is thinking—I am going to kill you in your sleep! She’s a grumpy old cat. And our very existence annoys her.

I could tell that Essie’s patience was running thin.

“You’d better put her down,” I said. “She’s gonna scratch you!” Essie let out another soft growl. Jessica ignored my warning and continued kissing her and messing with her face.

“I’m serious, she’s gonna blow!” I pleaded one last time.

Then the last growl ramped up. Three strikes you’re out! All the muscles in Essie’s body tensed and her front paws and legs began to flail violently. The next five seconds were a mess of fur, claws, and growls. Essie swiped at Jessica’s chest and face as her body twisted to get free. Jessica screamed in pain as Essie freed herself and leapt out of her arms landing squarely in the dog’s water bowl.

Jessica stood there with tears in her eyes, blood on her face, chest and arms, and dog slobber water soaking her clothes. It was a sad and pathetic sight. Other than a trail of water on the floor through the foyer, no trace of Essie could be found. But she had left her mark.

As I went to comfort Jessica, I wanted to say, “I told you that was going to happen!” But the words were unnecessary. So I hugged her tight, wiped her tears, and cleaned her up.

Teaching our kids to think beyond the present moment, whether it’s five seconds into the future, five months or five years, is a difficult task. Kids tend to focus on the here and now. They live in the moment.

As followers of Christ, however, we live for eternity. We live for our glorious future in Heaven.

Part of our job as parents is to change the mindset of our kids to an eternal mindset. We encourage a Biblical attitude of focusing on eternity. This means that we must be focused on eternity as well and not be wrapped up in the things of this world. Disciples of Christ are eternity-focused, not culture-focused.

Human beings are eternal, not finite. Our souls live on after our bodies die. Heaven and Hell are real and we all will end up in one or the other someday. This earth will be gone at some point, so we must set our minds on eternity.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

We must teach our children to think in terms of whether things are temporary and will pass away, or are eternal and will endure. Focusing on the eternal tends to separate easily what is and what is not important in this life.

Our children’s eternal future is the reason passing on our faith is so important.

Beth Moore wrote this eloquently in her Bible study, Entrusted, A Study of 2 Timothy.

What happens now matters then…Every present moment has future implications. This is not about your past. Not just about your present. This is about your future…Because what happens now matters then.[i]

Now I realize that I want to raise my kids to be disciples of Christ more than anything else (we will talk about what this means in Chapter 9). I want them to leave my house with the Great Commission front and center in their lives, and their eternal future on their minds.

[i] Beth Moore, Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2016), 148.

“Abandoned Faith” by McFarland and Jimenez: A Book Review

Several years ago, as I began writing my book, Pouring In, I talked to a mentor friend of mine who had three adult children. Deb was/is older and wiser and we have known each other since I was in high school. I wanted her thoughts on the idea of passing on faith to our kids. Deb is a godly woman whom I greatly admire and I fully expected her to say her kids are passionately following the Lord, or at least still going to church.

As awesome as Deb is, as much as she loves God, and even though I know she has modeled Christ in her home, the directions her kids were taking caught her off guard. She wrote of her dismay at her kids wanderings in an email to me. I didn’t know what to think. She loved the Lord like no one I had ever known. She probably did almost everything right. How could they stray?

In a recent study, LifeWay Research, and Fuller Youth Institute estimated that over half of high school graduates will leave the church and become disengaged in their faith. (page xvi)

As a result of much research, I am painfully aware that a majority of kids raised in the church leave the faith when they leave their home. With a daughter graduating this year, this reality scares the begeebees out of me!

Abandoned Faith is an excellent resource for parents whose millennial has walked away from theABANDONED-FAITH-BUY-NOW-1 faith and for those who are currently launching. This book offers parents encouragement and hope that they can still make a difference in the lives of their grown children. The voice of a parent always matters.

As I must entertain the possibility that either one of my daughters could walk away from their faith, I am starting to face the regret McFarland and Jimenez talk about in the book.

Living with a seventeen year old is difficult. I find myself in turmoil as the familiarity of life as I once knew it fades away. I grieve the fact that our family unit will never be the same.

There is a sorrow that comes as kids become young men and women. Sorrow because you miss those little people that adored you, and sorrow for the sinful, imperfect human beings they have become.

It’s too easy to overlook the pain of parents when all the attention is on the problems of their children. Yet, if we are going to win millennials back to Christ, we first need to win parents back to hope and healing. (page 9)

I remember when I was eighteen to twenty-something. I was young and stupid. Most eighteen to twenty-somethings are. We all know that wisdom comes with age and experience. It is what it is.

My eighteen year old daughter is beautiful, smart, kind, and loving. In the words of Aibileen from The Help, “she (you) is smart, she (you) is kind, and (you) is important!” She always did well in school and loved God. We couldn’t be prouder of her.

At the same time, I worry. I see the flaws in her character—flaws we all have. I see her trying to get away with things. I see her being uninterested in her faith. And I grieve the better person she would have been if I had been a better parent.

You can’t help but think, What went wrong? Even if the answer is, nothing. Nothing other than your kids had an imperfect parent, and they happen to be human. As a wise person once said, even Adam and Eve rebelled, and they did have the perfect parent!

The fact is, there is not one single parent alive in this world free of regret. We all have regrets and know other godly parents who do as well. (page 11)

As a parent, it is impossible to look back and believe you did everything perfectly—because none of us have. Hindsight is 20/20.

What do I regret? Here are some things, to name a few.

  • I regret not having a consistent prayer time as a model for my kids.
  • I regret that I didn’t start reading Scripture with them when they were little.
  • I regret not making my kids do band, choir, or a sport—they struggle to have a consistent friend group.
  • I regret not being more consistent with our discipline.
  • I regret not controlling their screen time/social media time better
  • I regret that we brought our baggage into our parenting

I sometimes wonder how much better of a parent I could have been if I had not brought myself into the mix.

Holding on to regrets prevents you from experiencing true freedom in Christ…Being tossed around by waves of regret is actually where Satan, the great Adversary, wants you to be. He doesn’t want you to let your regrets go. (page 13)

Satan wants our regrets to eat us alive. Abandoned Faith encourages parents to look at their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward to a better relationship with their child. We must stop feeling responsible for our young adult children. Did we make mistakes in parenting—yes. However, we probably did a better job than we realize despite the wanderings of our kids.

At some point, parents need to let go of the guilt from mistakes their young adult children make. At some point, they are no longer responsible.

Let there be no more regrets—only anticipation of the coming blessings. No more doubts—only hope in knowing that God has placed you in your millennial’s life for a divine purpose. God has uniquely equipped you to minister to your children. (page 19)

How are my girls going to survive my parenting? By the grace, immense love, and goodness of our God. When my parenting job is finally done, and it soon will be, I must put my kids in God’s hands—far greater hands than mine.

 

Ready to Launch: The Final Countdown

In exactly eleven weeks from today, my daughter graduates from high school. It is the spring of my daughter’s senior year, the final countdown. She turns eighteen on Sunday and she is so ready to launch. The question is, Am I ready to let her? The answer is—no, I’m not. Even though I must, I will never be ready to let her go.

Several months ago, I realized the time of my oldest daughter listening to me had mostly passed. She’s over it. She’s over me. And I have to live with the statistic that says most likely she will walk away from her faith, at least for a time. Ugh!

She is going to a state university, which means she will be surrounded by mostly non Christians. Her roommate isn’t a believer, and while her boyfriend is a great kid, he isn’t a believer either. Strike one, strike, two, strike three! She has stacked the deck against her faith. Is her faith strong enough to stand? I certainly hope so. Only time will tell.

As the clock winds down, the question is, What have I missed?

I am a procrastinator. I have always thought, I’ll have one more trip with her…one more summer with her…one more spring break with her…. And then I woke up one day to realize my last chance had already come and gone. I don’t have one more.

Do I trust God with my child? Do I trust a God who has given her free will?

Of course, I love the concept of free will—when I’m talking about myself or my peers. When it comes to my kids, not so much. However, God has given her, as he has given me, the opportunity to choose him, or not. It is a sobering reality.

When my girls were little, their dad and I held their “free will” in our hands. We decided religion for them. Their “free wills”  were in safe keeping with us until they were old enough. We took them to church, youth group and signed them up for VBS and summer camp. We tried to pack the knowledge of God and His Word into their little heads and hearts.

Eventually, however, the time does come to give them ownership of their free will. As uncomfortable as it is, we must allow them to have it. They must choose who they will live for and what they will believe about the world and truth.

Have I done everything I possibly could to pass on a strong faith in Christ to her in the last eighteen years? Not a chance. As parents, we always come up short. Daily I see things that I have neglected to teach her well enough. Don’t get me wrong—she is a wonderful kid—an awesome kid. No doubt about it. She will grow up to be a good person. But, I am setting the bar higher than raising her to be a “good person.” I want her to love the Lord and follow him.

My best is all I can do for my daughters. Yet, it isn’t enough. I know this. I grieve this reality. The only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father.

An excerpt from Pouring In . . . . 


Last summer Emily had knee surgery. As they were preparing her for surgery, I gazed at her face. It hadn’t changed since she was four years old. She was my sweet, freckle faced, beautiful girl. My girls are beautiful and precious. It’s hard to believe that I could love anyone as much as I love them.

I held her hand as the nurse secured her IV. Within a few seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she was making strange sounds with her mouth. Her body convulsed in shock. I thought she was having a seizure. The nurses ran in to attend to her. She turned pale and grabbed her chest. What is happening? I thought! Panic swept through my body as I caressed her forehead and tried to soothe her. It was terrifying. Emily’s body seemed to be fighting something and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Jesus, please help my sweet Emily, I prayed.

The episode was short and she quickly regained consciousness. Color returned to her face as sweat dripped off her brow. Even though the incident was short-lived, and she was fine, those twenty or thirty seconds felt like an eternity.

There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to see your child unconscious and convulsing. I thought about how much I loved my girls, and how losing either one of them would end me (it wouldn’t—God is good). These girls are my lifeblood. They are my beating heart.

The intense love a parent has for a child is a beautiful part of life. Love makes life worth living. The greatest job I have as a parent is loving my children. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.


After loving my firstborn for so long, letting go is hard. It’s like losing an arm or a foot. She is part of me. However, I have to remind myself that she was only on loan to me for a time. She was never really mine, she was always His. She is a child of God. And nobody will ever love her more than He does.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

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Bump into a Tree and See What Falls

My husband gave me the book, Blessed are the Misfits, for Christmas last year. He knows me well. I have always felt like a misfit—in my family of origin and in most Christian misfits 2circles. This is my place. This is my role. Is it okay to be a misfit? I often wonder. How does God view misfits? That is the question.

In Blessed are the Misfits, Brant challenges the status quo of what we aspire to in our spirituality.

What if we don’t fit the mold of what American Christians believe faith should look like? What if we don’t get choked up with emotion during worship songs? What if we don’t feel God’s presence at church, or feel much at all? Does that mean our faith is inferior compared to those who seem to “emote” easily?

While this is not my issue, I cry at the drop of a hat, this message of reexamining our standards of how we judge one another’s faith is worth pondering.

If you can’t rely on your feelings, how can you tell God is there, working in your life? Jesus said if you want to judge a tree, you look at its fruit. Someone might immediately, like clockwork, break down in tears of genuine emotion at the first chord of every worship song. Wonderful. But that’s not “fruit.” —Brant Hansen, Blessed are the Misfits

How can you tell if God is working in your life? Brant asks. If you are having amazing spiritual experiences? If you speak powerful, poetic prayers? If you lead an awesome ministry? “Nope,” he says. It is all about the fruit. He uses the analogy of bumping into a tree and seeing what falls. Brilliant.

Bump into a tree, and see what falls . . . 
Sometimes it’s love and gentleness . . . 
Sometimes it’s jealousy, anger, and power plays . . .
Sometimes it’s lawyers . . .   
Sometimes it’s patience and kindness . . . 
Now you see what kind of tree it is.

This analogy gives us a simple image with a profound truth. It is the fruit of the Spirit in us that God desires. Brant points out that most of the teaching in the New Testament consists of instruction on how we should live. Christ, and later, the Apostles, talk mostly about how we should love, forgive, be patient, show mercy, and foster peace—not how to evangelize.

Hansen describes this largely overlooked fact about the New Testament.

You’d think Paul would have filled his letters to the churches with evangelistic emphases, commands, encouragements, and advice, but it’s just not there. Yes, Jesus tells His disciples to “Go into all the world . . . ” to make disciples (Mark 16:15), and the Twelve did exactly that. But Paul doesn’t seem to think this was a message intended in the same way for everyone. His letters to believers have almost nothing about this.

This book challenges the group-think of the Christian community at large. Within the church are many stigmas and stereotypes. We must accept and love, not judge and compare. In matters of discernment, we must always measure things against the Word of God, the ultimate authority. What does it have to say about who or what is most highly valued?

For those of us who don’t seem to ever measure up, this book is an encouragement. Are we buying into the “one size fits all” Christianity? There is no such thing.

Yes, God is at work, but if the Bible is any indication of how He actually operates, He’s at work on the margins, not on the stages. —Brant Hansen, Blessed are the Misfits

Those who mourn, don’t pray poetically, are evangelical failures, who struggle, and who don’t have amazing spiritual stories are God’s beloved, and are blessed. The unfeeling, wounded, depressed and lonely are some of God’s most powerful warriors.

Our culture values achievement. God values those who love him and humbly serve Him.

Children of God come in all shapes and sizes. Not just physically, or ethnically, but in personality and temperament. We serve a God who loves diversity. The body of Christ is made of many parts. Though some might not be as shiny as others, each has equal value.

Misfits, outcasts, or those who are just plain different will find comfort and understanding in this book. Learning about someone who is awkward, an introvert, and one diagnosed with Asperger’s, like Brant, and an influencer in today’s culture is powerful. It gives the rest of us hope.

Together with radio producer, Sherri Lynn, you can find him on “The Brant and Sherri Oddcast,” or speaking at groups, conferences, and churches. Check out his website at www.branthansen.com.

Thank you, Brant, for sharing who you are in Blessed are the Misfits. Because you are me.

 

 

 

 

 

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant

Billy Graham went home this morning to be with his Lord and Savior. A hero of the faith. What a long, accomplished, faithful life he led for almost a century. What a gift he has been to our world.

On the way to Bible study this morning my mind wandered to what that meeting in heaven must have been like. I tried to picture Dr. Graham standing before Jesus face to face. Would he weep? Would he collapse to the ground at Jesus feet? Would he dance and sing praises to the Lord? My mind could only wonder.

Billy Graham preached his first sermon when he was around nineteen—nineteen! As the son of a simple dairy farmer in North Carolina, and in the power of the almighty God, he changed the world. According to CNN, in his lifetime, Billy Graham ministered to over 215 million people in more than 185 countries. Stunning.

Almost one hundred years. That is how long this great man walked the earth. Spreading the gospel like a wildfire. So faithful. So obedient. So in love with Jesus. And, I would imagine, so overjoyed that he is finally home.

As I drove home from the post office yesterday, the emergency alert on my phone sounded. I was on the freeway so I couldn’t look at it. I noted that the sky was clear. It couldn’t be the weather. When I came to a stoplight, I glanced at it briefly. “Emergency alert for Westfield and Grand Park,” it read. As the light turned and I put my phone down, my heart started beating faster in my chest. What was happening? I’m sure it’s nothing, I thought. Please, Lord, Jesus, protect Emily and Jessica’s school. The adrenaline was pumping and my mind raced until I got home and saw it was only a test. Thank you Jesus!

The world is a scary place in 2018. My heart breaks for the kids from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and every other student who has been affected by a school shooting. We have failed our children. The enemy now runs right past us, to them. The young and vulnerable. How could we have let this happen—again?

We are shaken.

One might wonder if our nation can continue as it had before? Is it possible? So sad. So tragic. But, as author and speaker Tony Campolo used to say, “It’s Friday . . . . but Sunday’s a-coming!”

With the passing of Billing Graham, our minds turn to the hope we have in the risen Jesus. Once and for all we can look forward to putting all this behind us and going home to be with our precious Savior one day. That glorious day is promised to those who believe.

As I picture Jesus face to face with his Billy, tears fill my eyes. I imagine Jesus’ expression as that of a giddy child on Christmas morning and of a father seeing his son return home all in one. An expression of pure joy and delight emanates from the face of the Son of God as he welcomes his good and faithful servant home. With a warm embrace, this beloved evangelist can finally rest in eternal peace with his Heavenly Father. He is home at last.

I can hardly wait for that glorious day. My soul yearns for home. At forty five. How does one wait ninety nine years to go home? I can’t fathom it.

May I suggest you meditate on the moment when Billy Graham went home. Color a picture of it in your mind. Such a sweet moment it must have been. As your imagination runs wild, set your mind on the things above. And, set your mind on the things to come. Each one of us has that moment to look forward to. The moment we finish the race. What will your moment look like?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank you, Mr. Graham.

Living in the Tension: The Clumsy Dance of Marriage

It’s Valentine’s Day, a day to reflect on life and love. Through the many ups and downs of life, it’s the love that sticks. It’s the love that sustains. True, selfless love is what makes marriage triumphant.

However, after twenty one years of marriage, the amazing, life changing marital advice I usually give to newlyweds is . . . . get a king sized bed. That’s it.

I recently read a blog post in which the writer was joking about wanting to go into marriage ministry three seconds after she got married. Been there, done that. As wisdom comes with age, the longer you are married, the more you realize how complicated relationships are. I might have once thought, give it twenty or so years, and I’ll have this marriage thing figured out. That just confirms how naive I was.

Marriage is living in the tension of knowing that you can never fully satisfy or complete or validate another human being. It is the knowledge that you will never be the perfect spouse, partner, helper, lover, or leader. Whether you are husband or wife, you will never be enough. And you were never meant to be.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. John 6:63

God is the satisfier. God is the validator. God is the only perfect leader or helper. And we must live with the tension that we cannot do relationships perfectly.

Marriage is a clumsy dance. It’s learning and growing together in the messy pursuit of relationship. It’s discovering how little our desires and wants matter in the grand scheme of things. It is the tension of knowing no matter how warm and wonderful you make your house, it will never fully be home. Our home is not here.

What we can do is be a part of our spouse’s story of sanctification, the journey toward an eternity with an awesome God. And our spouse can be a part of ours.

What have I learned in twenty one years of marriage?

God must be the center

God must be the center of our lives. He must be our Lord and Master. This is the only hope we have in marriage.

I don’t say this because everything will be better if God is at the center of your marriage, though it might be. I don’t say this to sound religious, or because I like clichés—I don’t. I say this because knowing and being in relationship with the Creator of the universe is what life is all about.

We were created to be partakers of the glory of God—the greatest glory that could ever be imagined. His glory is so magnificent and immense there isn’t room for anything else. And even if there was, it would pale in comparison. Glorifying God is our purpose and privilege in this life.

The longer I have walked with God, the more aware of my inadequacy I have become. To know more of Him is to know less. But, to know Him more is to be filled. My cup overflows.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

While it is God’s design that a husband and wife bring each other joy, our main source of joy, validation, and identity should come from God. If God is not first, or we lack a genuine connection with Him, our marriage will likely suffer.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Marriage is a call to put oneself down for the “other”

When I first got married, I believed I would never be alone again, and that my husband would fulfill all my needs. Ahh, the naivete of youth.

We assume when we get married we will always be cared for and nurtured, and we will finally be happy. Marriage and a family will fill the emptiness and heal all our wounds, right? Even Hollywood tells us that our soul mate will complete us.

We have been deceived. Marriage is not about us at all. It’s about loving the “other” well.

Marriage is an opportunity to practice selflessness. It is a tool in the battle against pride. It is the great classroom for learning humility and selfless love. Nothing could ever humble us more than our marriages.

Marriage is living in tension and friction

How am I doing in my marriage two decades in? Let’s just say I’m always a work in progress. Christ followers spend their lives working toward something they can never fully achieve. That is the tension. And so it is with marriage.

God tosses us about in the spin cycle of our life, in order to smooth the rough edges through relationships. This has been painfully true in my life.

Let’s just say there are parts of me that I would prefer to just sweep under the rug. Things I would rather stuff deep down in a drawer. However, God is in the business of healing. He has used my marriage to open every drawer, every closet, and every spare room in my soul. Nothing is left untouched. I am laid bare.

With marriage comes friction—the coming together of two, rough-around-the-edges, beings. Friction hurts, but is necessary in the race we are called to run. If there was no friction between us and the road, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Don’t we want to cross that finish line? I do.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

As long as marriage is made up of people, in a fallen world, it will involve tension and friction—even in the best of marriages. When we rely on our own wisdom, we fail. The wisdom of marriage is foolishness. We must lean on God. We must trust His Word. Only God can make the clumsy dance of marriage into something beautiful.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Recently, my husband and I had a heart to heart with my fifteen year old daughter. She was upset with me and laid it all out on the table.

She spelled out what I was doing wrong as a parent and as a person and how it bothered her. Why couldn’t I be like other moms? I read between the lines. I could feel my heart begin to crumble. As her disappointments and my shortcomings were laid out in front of me, my soul cowered under the weight. Like a World War II plane that’s been hit and is going down, “mayday, mayday!”

Every parent must come to terms with the fact that they are not a perfect parent.

On the surface there was truth in what she said. I was complaining too much, and being too judgmental. I needed to work on my attitude toward others and the world. I needed to have more love, more compassion, and more acceptance. However, there was a lot she didn’t know. She didn’t see the weight I carried or the emotional battles I fought every day.

My daughters saw what I allowed them to see. They only saw the tip of the iceberg. They didn’t know what my life was like before them. They didn’t know about the missing pieces in my soul from my past. They saw only what came out, unaware of what was kept in.

And then she asked this question, “Why can’t we be a normal family?” And there it was. The final blow. I was between a rock and a hard place.

In the words of Joyce from Stranger Things, “this is not a normal family.” I can relate.

I suffer from depression. I have sheltered my kids from this for most of their lives as most people with depression probably do. What choice does one have?

It is important to let kids, as they become young adults, see the humanness of their parents.

However, the last couple years as my kids have begun to mature into young adulthood, I have started letting them see behind the curtain a little bit. I thought it might prepare them for life. Especially if they are prone to depression. However, what I have shown them is still a small portion of what I carry.

How does a parent with depression raise a teenager and survive? How does a person who is already emotionally fragile take the arrows of a hormonal adolescent?

Our woundedness is laid bare when our kids become teenagers.

They don’t see my brokenness. They don’t see the child that felt lonely and rejected. They don’t understand depression. Not many people do.

My daughter doesn’t know the details of my story. She doesn’t know my pain. And she can’t. She won’t. I won’t put that on her. However, what comes out of me is partially a product of my pain, loss, and childhood issues. It isn’t an excuse. It is an explanation.

She doesn’t know how hard I have to fight, or how high I have to climb everyday just to get to where everyone else starts out.

The tension is letting my teenager get more of a glimpse of the real person behind the mom—the real, flawed person. The tension is knowing that she can only have half of the story. And knowing that she will judge based on her limited understanding.

Let’s face it, being judged hurts. Especially if its coming from your children, your kids in whom you have poured your soul. Those for whom you have sacrificed everything. They know none of this. That is the sacrifice of parenting.

I have to be the grown up. I have no choice but to deal with the pain of my past and deal with the pain of the judgement of my kids at the same time. And do it all without blaming or explaining. Only through God’s strength is this possible. Without Him I would crumble.

 

Putting up the Mirror so We Can Pass on Our faith

The following in an excerpt from Kim’s upcoming book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


I was twenty seven and clueless when I had my firstborn. I was actually amazed they let me leave the hospital with my daughter, Emily. How could they let ME walk out of here with a baby? Are they crazy?

Through the years, my husband and I fumbled around going this way and that, doing the best that we could as young parents. We were tossed to and fro by well-intentioned advice and made many mistakes.

We were typical American, Christian parents. Purposefully or not, we mirrored things in our parenting that we observed from our parents, the media, the culture, our community, the Internet and our church. All of which seemed like a sufficient group of resources.

But were they sufficient? Did they point us in the right direction?

I can tell you what my husband and I, and the affluent community where we lived, were focusing on in regards to raising our children.

We believed things like . . . . .

  • Our kids’ self esteem is so important, they must never feel bad
  • Education is most important in our kids’ lives
  • We must always say ‘yes’ to our kids to produce a positive environment
  • Kids’ happiness should be the focus of parenting
  • We need to teach our kids to love themselves
  • Our kids should have everything that they want 

You might get lucky and raise a good kid with this set of values. He or she might do well in school and seem well adjusted and happy. Or, he or she may end up entitled, self-centered, or at the very least, worldly.

75% of young adults raised in a Christian home leave the church after they leave the home. Think about that—on average, three out of every four kids attending your youth group won’t be attending any church a few years from now.
~www.crossexamine.org

Though the numbers may vary slightly from one study to the next, they all come to the same conclusion—we are losing our kids.

Is there no manual for parenting? Well, there is and there isn’t. Among the many books on Christian parenting, only one is essential. The Bible is the best parenting book there is, because it was written by the first parent that ever was. It sounds like a cliché, but it is absolutely true. It doesn’t contain every possible question or scenario we might encounter in parenting. But, is it sufficient? You betcha!

Why?

Because the key to being a good parent is primarily determined by who you are, not what you do.

It’s who you are that shapes your kids. In fact, it’s challenging to point to a Sticky Faith factor that is more significant than you.
~ Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, Sticky Faith


If we are to make a dent in the problem of young people leaving the faith, we must be willing to look in the mirror. We, as Christian parents are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith.

Our character, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle reflect the status of our faith. Is it alive? Do we live what we believe. Or, is it dead?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:17

Our kids will know if our faith is real, or if it isn’t.

Teenagers Young Team Together Cheerful Concept

I want my kids to leave my house as disciples of Christ . . . . not just Christians.  Disciples not only believe, they are students of Christ and they follow Him. Making disciples starts in our homes with our kids. And we have to parent differently if we are going to raise up a generation of disciples.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Prayer, the Power Behind the Parent

Recently my kids had a snow day and school was closed, again. Just enough freezing drizzle was coming down to coat the roads with ice. Between school closings and the numerous two-hour delays we have had, the kids have not had a full week of school since the new year. Are my kids ever going to go to school? I wonder each morning as I check my phone.

As I thought about a whole day with my girls at home, I started to get stressed. Not because I have to play with them and entertain them all day like when they were little, but because they are teenagers and want to spend every second on YouTube, Netflix, SnapChat, Instagram, or texting. Our kids’ world is saturated with things that encourage laziness and wasting time.

We have an extra bedroom that I like to call the Kurtz “dump.”  It’s everyone’s favorite place in the house to unload all their trash and unwanted items. Why throw it away when you can just toss it across the hall and close the door? Piles of clothes and shoes, boxes of picture frames, old toys and stuffed animals, miscellaneous furniture, and books and games filled every inch.

Personally, I had better things to do than clean the “dump” today. However, since Bible study was canceled, and the girls were unexpectedly home, this was my chance. I had to make the most of it.

Today’s the day! I thought, as I jumped out of bed. After letting my kids sleep in a little (I am not a monster!), I informed them of my plan. Needless to say, my teenagers didn’t share my enthusiasm.

My oldest daughter proceeded to yell and whine because she wanted to sleep more and already had plans.

“Every other kid gets to do what they want when school is closed. Their parents don’t make them do stuff on snow days, they are all at work!” She wailed.

It brought me back to the days of her terrible twos that lasted until about age ten. My daughter was having a temper tantrum, once again, at seventeen, and I snapped. Oh, did I snap! Yelling ensued. Lord, forgive me.

Both of us eventually calmed down and we all worked on the room.

As I was telling this story to my cousin the next night, she asked, “How did you get her to calm down?” I tried to remember, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that softened our hearts and diffused the argument.

After thinking about it later that evening, I remembered I had been praying intensely for her. One could say I had been groaning in prayer for her. At almost eighteen, the season of raising this child was coming to a close. Panic had definitely set in.

Had I done enough?
Had I taught her everything she needed to know?
Will she make wise choices?
Will she choose to love and serve the Lord?

It’s definitely crunch time with my oldest. And I have felt it everyday for the last year. I have lived with the guilt of being an imperfect parent. I have seen the holes in our parenting arise as she has become a young adult. We can’t hide them anymore.

However, God gently reminds me that my kids have “free will” just as I do. Many things are out of my hands. They get to choose who they will become, who they will love, and who they will live for. And they might have a bumpy and windy road to the cross, just as I did.

So, how did the explosive fight end that icy morning?

It was prayer and the Holy Spirit that allowed love to enter in. Words of love and compassion started coming out of my mouth. It wasn’t me, though. It was God the Father loving on her through me. Yes, I love her deeply, but in that moment I couldn’t have been loving.

God is so good and honors our prayers in ways we can’t even imagine. He makes us better than we are. And prayer might be the only chance we have of raising teenagers who love the Lord in this crazy world.

We need to be persistent in prayer. We need to trust it’s power. God will honor His promises found in Scripture if we are faithful.

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

You may not feel the Holy Spirit when you pray. You may not feel you are getting answers. Through prayer, however, the Spirit of God changes us from the inside. He refines our inner places in ways that we can never imagine or know to pray for.

If you have a teenager, what have you got to lose? Pray for your teenagers. God will bless you as you seek Him and seek to love your teenager/s well. He will give you what you don’t have. He will give you everything you need.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3


Pre-order Kim’s new book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids coming out February/March 2018.

Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Dancing to the Song of Adolescence

As I watched a morning talk show while doing my workout one particular day, the host’s seventeen-year-old daughter was a guest on the cooking segment. As the young girl walked on the set, her mother’s face and demeanor changed noticeably. Almost instantly, she looked older. Gone was the jovial, confident talk show host that everyone usually saw. I could see the fear in her eyes. I could hear the hesitation in her voice. And I could feel the tension between them. As the familiar dance played out in front of me, it hit me. We all struggle with raising our teenagers.

With my daughters, I often feel like I have to walk on eggshells. While once I was confident, I now experience fear and trepidation. It’s a whole new ballgame with teenagers. And it requires a completely different type of parenting. Regardless of how well you have parented in the past, parenting a teenager can really throw you for a loop.

Teens often don’t know what they think or feel because on an almost daily basis, they are becoming a different person. An adolescent’s values, opinions, and perceptions are fluid and unpredictable.  —John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens

I was caught off guard recently when my daughter informed me that I analyzed things too much and was too involved in my kids’ business. Both she and her sister agreed. “You don’t have to be home everyday when I get home from school, sometimes I don’t want to talk. I want to be able to be quiet without explaining myself. Sometimes I want to be alone,” she said.

So, I told myself to back off and give her some space. However, the next day, she came home and verbally vomited on me for forty-five minutes about every aspect of her day, the drama of her friends, and every thought and feeling she had since she left the house that morning. It’s hard to keep up with her. What does she want from mom today? I often wonder.

At some point in adolescence, teens change into someone different. Something may work one day, and raise hell the next. In response, we, as parents, may feel vulnerable.

When our kids become fourteen or fifteen, we can no longer hide behind the guise of being “the parent.” They start relating to us as people. It is healthy to give them a glimpse of mom and dad as human beings. It is natural and normal to give them a peak behind the curtain. However, it is not unusual for teens to be highly critical of their parents, which can be hard to take.

When our kids entered adolescence, we became vulnerable at a deeper level. We opened up, not only about parenting issues, but about our personal struggles too. —John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens

Anyone who has had teenagers knows they believe they are adults, and therefore, no longer need input from you. They may look like adults, but mentally and emotionally, they are far from it. It boils down to this: they don’t know what they don’t know. And their brains are not fully formed until their mid-twenties. But don’t tell that to your teen! I only made that mistake once.

Biologically, a lot is going on inside the minds and bodies of teenagers. While once their thinking was purely black and white, they are now dipping their toes in the waters of abstract thinking. They can be up and down and all over the place. And often they don’t know why they think or feel the way they do. As parents, we just need to ride the wave.

When parents consistently provide teens with warmth and structure, teens become less extreme, impulsive, and moody. In other words they begin to grow up inside. —John Townsend, Boundaries with Teens

Our goal in most of the interactions with our teens needs to be connection and relationship rather than fixing and correcting. It’s not easy being a teenager. We must listen to them and empathize. Offering empathy and compassion in their mood swings allows them to feel safe.

Parenting teenagers is tricky. It is coming together and moving apart. It is aggressive and firm, yet soft and loving. And playful at times. It is a dance to the song of adolescence.

The common language is always love. Love keeps the connection alive no matter how awkward the relationship with our teens may seem. God will give us the patience and wisdom we need. And God promises to always be with us. We can rest knowing He can make our teenagers into something beautiful.


Pre-order Kim’s new book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids coming out February/March 2018.

Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00