Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

My book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, is about a prodigal, aka me, raising a prodigal. As I’ve read about Katy Perry’s recent public confessions of why she turned away from her childhood Christian faith, I saw a certain parallel to my life. No, I never became a multimillion dollar, outrageously popular pop star, but I did turn my back on my Christian faith after my divorce and became a very successful businesswoman living a worldly life while raising my prodigal.

Katy’s father is a pastor and her childhood home was faith-filled. In her public therapy session aired on Viceland, she went by her birth name Katheryn Hudson. Faithwire wrote an article from this session, Why Kathy Perry’s Rejection of Her Childhood Faith Should Concern Every Bible-Believing Christian. They quoted Hudson as saying, “I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs around me, and so I had people around me — like-minded people — and I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” Hudson explained. “I was a very curious person, and the curiosity — sometimes it wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.”

The article goes on to say that Hudson explained she was “curious about what was going on in the rest of the world, and how they lived, and what they saw as they were living . . . I felt like I was missing out.” She decided to explore her singing career further to “pop [her] own bubble, to get out of [her] own situation.”

“I guess I was just trying to get out of one way of thinking. It was like ‘do as I say, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was based on my religious upbringing… I have so many questions. I ask all the questions in the world, and all the questions in the world have gotten me to where I am at now.” [To read the whole article]

There is so much in that last statement about finding answers in the world, which made her rich and famous, but spiritually bankrupt denouncing her faith and  singing songs with provocative, shocking lyrics and movements that many young girls listen to and imitate.

Why did she turn to the world for answers? Because she couldn’t find answers to her questions in the church. She was raised around born-again Christians, but never actually says she was born-again.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge the church with that same thought: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. Not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything.” I ask the question: “How many are making sure their children and grandchildren understand, accept, and embrace the Christian lifestyle? How many know, for certain, their children have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Again I warn in Forsaken God?: “The church failed to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today, but the secular world was ready and waiting for them. . . .Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.”

I stress exactly what Katy Perry said she couldn’t get from the Christian “bubble.”

They need mentors and parents to have the tough, honest discussion about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, marriage, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, radical Islam, cults, drugs, alcohol, suicide . . . whatever they’re facing in their world.

My “Katy Perry” Story

When I left my good-girl Christian lifestyle, even though I was a born-again Christian since age eleven, I felt just like Katy that I was missing something “out in the world.” Satan makes sin seem fun and enticing. And there were plenty of people ready to teach me the “world’s ways.” I was naïve enough not to understand how quickly I was being sucked into that lifestyle.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home like Katy was, but I did have a very devout grandmother who planted the seeds of faith in me. My mother would drop me off at church, but I was on my own. I loved everything about church and did find mentors and “spiritual mothers” to answer my questions until I went away to college and there was no one guiding me not to marry an unbeliever or pray with me about my choices.

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

After seventeen years of backsliding, I was invited to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie asked the crowd if they were ready to die that night? The Lord had gradually been bringing me back to Him through attending Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and I knew the answer to Pastor Laurie’s question was, no. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night and God has been using me About His Work ever since.

I think Katy Perry, Katherine Hudson’s, public “therapy” session is her cry for help. I know she feels God on her shoulder calling her back with every provocative move, word, and action she uses to try to separate from Him.

What Can We Do?

Katy Perry’s mother, a minister’s wife, author, and a mentor to many Christian women, has some advice that she shared in an interview by J. Lee Grady, Charisma News, “How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain.” Grady asks: How does a Christian mother handle it when she sees her daughter drifting so far from the values she taught her?

“The devil definitely tries to steal my joy,” Mary told me. “I sometimes have to fight depression.” A few years ago, Mary anchored her soul to Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a dwelling, making her the joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

“That verse inspired her to write her 2015 book, Joyful Parent, Happy Home. Mary believes if you want your children to live for God, “You have to get happy and stay in the ‘God zone.’ Mary’s close friends also support her unconditionally. And she asks new friends to agree with her in prayer for a miracle turnaround for her daughter . . . Mary believes parents of prodigals must focus on others rather than wallowing in their own pain. For the past 11 years she has poured her life into women who attend her Arise conferences.” The full interview is at CharismaNews.

Mary also mentioned something important that I share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: show unconditional love to your prodigal, and as much as it is up to you, keep the lines of communication open.

Praise God, both my daughter and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with God and each other. I now have precious grandchildren to help pour into spiritually. I want to make sure I’m not just telling them what to believe, but helping them come to their own conclusions. To feel free to ask us questions and to help them solve their faith problems without giving them the answers we think they should arrive at. To help them develop problem-solving techniques and know where and how to go to the Bible when they question something happening in the world.

When they ask if I know that Katy Perry “used to be a Christian,” we talk about the fact that if she did give her heart to Jesus as a child, she still is a Christian, but she’s not living like one, so let’s pray for her.

The 6/26/17 issue of Time Magazine, quoted Katy’s apology for “criticized acts of cultural appropriation”: “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And sometimes that’s what it takes.” Let’s pray Katy hears from God that she’s been doing wrong and apologizes to Him. Someday, Katy could have an amazing testimony and God will use it for good. Pray it’s soon before she influences more young girls and women for the world.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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PS I just realized this is the end of June already and should be Love Your Body Monday, but this post was on my heart so I’ll post a Love Your Body blog for the 4th of July week!

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Messy Journey, Offering the Prodigal a Way Home by Lori Wildenberg

I always teach that mentoring the next generation starts with our own family. But what do you do when your children or grandchildren are walking with the world instead of with God? As many of you know, parenting prodigals is dear to my heart and prompted me to share our family’s journey in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

Today, my author friend, and licensed parent and family educator Lori Wildenberg offers practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating your relationship with a detoured child whether they are rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior.

Lori knows the heartache of having a rebel child. Her new release Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is for parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. Be inspired to drink the deep waters of peace as you draw closer to the Father of all prodigals. There is hope. After all, their struggle isn’t really with you, it’s with God.

 

MESSY LIFE by Lori Wildenberg

“When her parents discovered she was pregnant, they kicked her out.”

This single mom has defied the odds. She is raising her child, going to college, and working to support the two of them.

Not easy.

I don’t know the details of this woman’s story. I have no clue as to the relationship she had or has with her parents. I don’t know all the times of trouble that led up to this separation.

But…

I do know a number of families in a similar situation who chose to do life differently. They chose to support their unwed pregnant daughter and help her in her time of need. Three of the girls kept their babies. All three are now married (not to the baby daddy), another girl miscarried (now married with kids), and a fifth made an open adoption plan.

During the most difficult time in their life, each young mom knew her parents were there for her. Each woman in the middle of the mess knew she could count on her parents to help stabilize the shaky ground. All girls are now thriving.

As daughter’s of Eve and sons of Adam, we make decisions that are not in our best interest, ones that are not God’s best for us.

Humans have a wandering propensity.

Some young people stray due to an unwed pregnancy, sexual sin, porn, substance abuse, or a rejection of faith. When we have a prodigal, sometimes we are to let ’em go (see Luke 15) and other times we are to chase after our lost sheep (see Luke 15).

Either way, we need to keep the bridge built so our prodigal is able to return.

I have a child who, for a season, stepped away from the family. It was the most painful thing I have ever endured. There were times I chased her down like the shepherd and other times I waited like the dad.

I cried. I prayed.

I was a mess. I was weak.

God was strong.

Praise God, He brought her back to us.

I am thankful I kept the drawbridge down so she could cross it.

If your young person has taken a detour from the way in which he should go, keep the bridge open.

Don’t destroy it, build it.

During a messy life, lay down the planks of unconditional love: grace, humility, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, and truth.

Build the bridge and yes…they will come.

Back.

“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
Luke 15:6b (NIV)

Where is God calling you to build or rebuild a relational bridge?

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Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenberg’s home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.

Find Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home at Amazon.

Additional Books:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love (for parents of toddlers- 9)
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (for parents of tweens-young adults)

www.loriwildenberg.blogspot.com

www.loriwildenberg.com

www.facebook.com/momstogether

www.facebook.com/1Corinthians13Parenting

www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com
https://twitter.com/LoriWildenberg

https://pinterest.com/loriwildenberg/

Instagram: LoriWildenberg

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Hope-We All Need It by Karen Whiting

Today’s blog post is from author friend Karen Whiting and she shares a little about her book 365 Devotions for Hope. Hope is central to our faith, but sometimes we can lose our hope during difficult circumstances. Karen’s devotional will help restore your hope, the center of our faith. Enjoy

xxxxxxx

365Devotions4Hope

Sometimes, when life is rough or we feel that God is not answering our prayers, we feel like we need it more than other times.

Whether we are leaders or followers, we need hope. There’s good news. Signs and words of hope are all around us. That’s good because we need hope to move forward, especially during struggles and loss. Hope is the expectation of something good.

What are some of the signs of hope around us?

  • Nature provides many signs, such as a daffodil blooming in the snow, a blue sky, twinkling stars at night, and a beautiful sunset.
  • Loved ones bring hope with encouraging words, hugs, smiles, and gifts.
  • God’s Word brings the ultimate hope with the promise of God’s presence and eternity.

What can we do when we feel hopeless?

We all have times we need a little CPR for hope. Start with counting your blessings, including God’s love. Take things one step and one moment at a time when you feel overwhelmed. Cling to a verse or two. Be patient. Since the time of Job and other Bible characters, people have faced catastrophes and loss.

It’s easy to wallow in self-pity. Some things to try:

  • Choose to look for the positive and count your blessings.
  • Forgive anyone who caused problems or let you down.
  • Believe there will be blessings in the future.
  • If you have a recent loss allow yourself time to grieve. It’s a natural process.
  • If your hopelessness is long lasting or serious do seek professional help.
  • Acknowledge your strengths and gifts. Find ways to use them.
  • Eat healthy, get enough sleep, and drink plenty of water.
  • Let go of what you cannot control.
  • Reframe a problem into a challenge. It will strengthen you and give you new hope.
  • Spend time in nature appreciating God’s creation.
  • Pray for God’s comfort and joy.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people.

What’s your new book and what’s it about?

365 Devotions for Hope is daily meditations that focus on various aspects and signs of hope. Word pictures of images, uplifting quotes, and glimpses into God’s love will inspire readers to embrace life.

For example, in examining the Scripture of Christ as our anchor, devotions explore various anchors (plow, mushroom, claw, and fluke) as well as moorings and other nautical analogies to discover more about hope in God.

Everyday signs of hope are found in encouraging words, laughter, and smiles to natural wonders like the sun peeking through the clouds. The daily reflections will bring seeds of hope to face struggles, renew minds, and refresh spirits.

What helps you when you feel hopeless?

KarenWhiting

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A Miracle Story of Love, Family, and Restoration

Ricky praising

Most Sunday mornings, Ricky was in the front row of church, sitting next to his parents Jean and Don. Often Ricky would accompany the worship team by playing the drums, strategically placed for him next to his front-row seat. I’m told that at one time, he joined the praise band on stage.

Ricky and drums

When Dave and I moved to Garden Valley and started attending Crouch Community Church, we didn’t know the history of the Brown family. We did, however, immediately see the love this senior couple had for each other—always holding hands—and for their adult son, Ricky, who occasionally had to have his drumsticks quieted after the music had stopped playing.

You see Ricky was a very special son, and as the church overflowed with family and friends at Ricky’s memorial last week, we learned more about just how special he was. If you have a special person in your life who can’t communicate clearly, or at all, there’s probably a depth of spirit like Ricky displayed in unique ways. God has a way of gifting these special people with love, compassion, and spiritual insight.

Enjoy Ricky’s miracle story, shared at his memorial service, and his family now shares with you:

 

Ricky Lee Brown born August 28, 1956, passed from the arms of his parents to the arms of Jesus on Saturday March 19, 2016, at the age of 59. Ricky left behind . . . for now . . . his parents, Don and Jean Brown, his sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi, and countless family and friends.

Ricky’s life story is one of restoration, the strong bond of a loving family, and the unending miracles of God.

Ricky is the firstborn, and only son, of Don and Jean Brown. At birth, he only weighed 4 lbs. 10 oz., and it took a month for him to gain enough weight to come home from the hospital. This was the beginning of nine and a half months in and out of hospitals.

During that time, doctors and family members suggested putting Ricky in Nampa State School. Doctors said with Ricky’s health and physical issues, he wouldn’t live past eleven or twelve and would never walk. With the overwhelming advice from doctors and family, Don and Jean went through the court system and made Ricky a ward of the state when he was 8 1/2 months old. It was the most painful thing that Don and Jean had ever done.

They visited Ricky regularly and introduced him to his three sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi. Right from the beginning, Ricky was compassionate. Jean remembers one time when he was in the state home, a baby started to cry. Ricky pulled himself with his arms over to the crib and patted the baby, trying to comfort it.

To everyone’s amazement, Ricky miraculously started walking at age eleven—the age doctors had predicted he wouldn’t live past—and he finally stopped running a persistent high fever. His sister, Cindy, started working at the Nampa State School in her late teens so she could spend more time with Ricky.

In his twenties, the family moved Ricky to a group home in the Boise area as part of a new program to try to teach life and work skills to disabled individuals. After Ricky’s three sisters left home, the Browns were able to visit Ricky more frequently.

Ricky loved classic country music and liked listening to it loud!

He also loved to tear apart anything he could get his hands on—radios, bikes, and in later years, his clothes. He loved to gas up the car, even if it was only to top it off.

Ricky could only put five words together, at most, but he used those words to ask people: if they were going to work? If they had a payday? And if they were going to church? Ricky’s happy smile and his thumbs up were his trademarks!

smiling RickyRicky thumbs up

Another Miracle

When Ricky was thirty-seven, he became extremely ill while still living in the group home, so Don and Jean made the decision to bring him home. Doctors told the Browns they would just be taking him home to die, but they said, “So be it. He’s our son, and we want him with us.”

By the grace of God and the help of family, they discovered that the current health problems were yeast related. Jean found a book on how to treat yeast with diet, and she became vigilant with Ricky’s diet and nursed him back to health. This same son, who doctors said would not live past eleven or twelve, would never walk, and was sent home at thirty-seven to die, fully recovered from the “terminal” illness! That’s what God, love, and family can do!

Don and Jean couldn’t bear the thought of giving Ricky up again, so he continued to live with them and they started the parenting season all over again. The Lord redeemed the years they lost while Ricky was in group homes, and they had twenty-three glorious years living together as family.

Ricky and sisters

Ricky’s relationship with his sisters and other family members flourished as he became a part of family reunions, jam sessions, weddings, and birthday parties. As a trio, Don, Jean, and Ricky traveled the country playing music and enjoying countless adventures. One of Ricky’s greatest loves was the drums. He had a set in his room and spent hours listening to music and playing along. He also spent hours tearing his drum set apart. He loved smashing cans and taking them to the recycling center for a “payday,” which he promptly put in the offering box at church.

Family picture

Ricky and Don on horse

 

Ricky and Don camping

As Ricky got older, he enjoyed putting together puzzles and sorting coins or Legos. Amazingly, he was able to put puzzles together picture-side down on the table. For someone doctors said wouldn’t live past eleven, and would surely die at thirty-seven, Ricky enjoyed a long life of almost 60 years surrounded by his loving family, friends, and community.

Ricky touched many lives with his joyful spirit and his love for Jesus. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Ricky was a great example of childlike innocent faith. We know that right now he is enthusiastically enjoying heaven.

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The Brown family hopes that Ricky’s miracle story has been a blessing to you, and especially an encouragement to all who have a “Ricky” in their life. If you have a story to share with the Browns, or want to tell them how their sweet restoration story touched you, please leave a comment to encourage them and pray for them as they grieve the loss of their beloved son.

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Conquering “Shoulditis”

SuperMomMyth_LOWRezBecky Kopitzke is a fellow mentor mom over at The MOM Initiative with a new book I thought you would all enjoy learning about. Her topic in this blog is “shoulditis,” and I know we all suffer from shoulda, coulda, why didn’t I?, why aren’t I as good?,  . . . we’ve all been there.  Becky reminds us that God made each of us unique with our own gifts and talents and all He expects is that we use them to His glory!

Enjoy this post by Becky:

Have you heard of a common debilitating condition infecting women today? It’s called “shoulditis”—otherwise known as I should do that disease. I’ve got it. You probably do, too. Symptoms flare up under the most ordinary circumstances.

When my friend calls to say she’s taking a Zumba class, I think of how long it’s been since my sneakers hit the gym, and my own voice whispers in my head, I should do that.

When I scroll through Pinterest and see a dozen photos of cutesy craft projects other moms created with their children, I’m deflated. I should do that.

When my parenting magazine plugs a recipe for brownies using hidden carrot puree, I think of the Duncan Hines box stashed in my cupboard. Carrots are way healthier. I should do that.

Vacation plans. Extreme couponing. Colon-cleansing diets. Reading lists, scrapbooks, chore charts, and hand-sewn purses. Monkey-face pancakes, are you kidding me? She does it! I should do it, too!

But I can’t do everything, can I?

Can you?

And that is the pain of shoulditis. It assumes we are supposed to be someone else—or a hundred someone elses. Our spirits inflame with an impossible itch to be as clever, resourceful, energetic, artsy, and self-disciplined as those other women.

Reality check. They can’t do everything, either.

We all have our own things—our talents, interests, commitments, priorities. Yours aren’t better than mine, and mine aren’t better than yours. They’re just different.

Why? Because God is fantastically creative, and He gave us each a unique blend of gifts. Trying to do it all is a waste of time. It’s like saying God got it wrong. On the flip side, doing what He created us to do—that’s worship.

 

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us” (1 Corinthians 12:4–6 NLT).

So. Let’s slap some salve on that shoulditis, shall we? (Say that five times fast.)

The antidote is: I should not do that.

When the neighbors rent a mega bounce house for their son’s birthday party, I will tell myself, I should not do that. My children have winter birthdays, anyway. We can’t fit a bounce house in the kitchen.

When my friend runs a half marathon—good for her! But I should not do that. Stroller walks are more my pace.

When that sweet lady in the church choir raves about her make-ahead freezer meals, I definitely should not do that. This momma prefers to spend Sunday afternoon playing Scrabble with the kids. I will grab some frozen chicken patties from the supermarket and call them dinner.

So let’s all agree—you should do what you do, and I should do what I do, and together we will create a supportive, well-rounded community of women who love what they do and really can do it all—collectively.

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT).

This post contains an excerpt from The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood (Shiloh Run Press) by Becky Kopitzke. Used by permission.

# # #

About the book

Does your journey through motherhood look different from what you imagined?

Do you struggle to measure up to your own standards?

Do you sometimes wish you could be like that other mom who seems to have it all together?

You are not alone.

The Supermom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood, a new book by Christian mom blogger Becky Kopitzke, is designed to encourage imperfect moms to laugh at ourselves, forgive ourselves, and discover the beautiful moms God created within. Delivered with down-to-earth humor and carefully applied biblical insight, The SuperMom Myth explores eight personified “dirty villains” of motherhood, including The Grouch on the Couch (Anger), Worry Woman (Fear), The Calendar Queen (Busyness), and more. Throughout this delightful read for every mom, Kopitzke offers a gentle reminder to rest in the super power of our grace-filled God.

Visit www.TheSuperMomMyth.com for more information, including trailer videos, reviews, and details on where to buy copies for yourself and your mom friends.

About the author

Becky KopitzkeBecky Kopitzke is the author of The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood (Shiloh Run Press). As a writer, speaker, singer, dreamer, lunch packer, snowman builder and recovering perfectionist, Becky believes parenting is one of God’s greatest tools for building our faith, character, and strength—and it’s not always pretty.

On her devotional blog, beckykopitzke.com, she offers weekly encouragement for fellow imperfect moms, pointing our weaknesses, blessings, and victories to God.

Becky lives messily ever after with her loving husband and their two young daughters in northeast Wisconsin, where a pink indoor trampoline fills half the once formal living room. Connect with Becky on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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In God’s Hands

Open handsRosalie Campbell and I have been friends for many years. We met at a Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference when Rosalie became interested in my Woman to Woman Mentoring resources, since she also has a heart for mentoring. Rosalie answered God’s call to start Garden Path Ministries. We have stayed in touch over the years. Rosalie has since retired from her ministry and became a widow several years ago. She has shared several stories in my books and her church is currently starting a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry. Read more at the end of this post about how God has used this sweet woman in the years since she became a Christian in her forties. I know you’ll be inspired to pray about the plans God has for you too.

I knew when I saw the email from Rosalie with an attachment that she was sending me another story. As I read “In God’s Hands,” I knew God wanted me to share Rosalie’s story with you. I’m sure there are many of you who can relate.

In God’s Hands by Rosalie Campbell

I haven’t been sleeping well for the past few weeks. When the stock market plummeted recently, I worried about my dwindling finances and investments. I felt like I was in a stew: constantly simmering over my circumstances and the difficult relationships with my three grown daughters.

One night, as I tossed and turned in bed, I mulled a hundred things over in my mind and plotted different scenarios for managing my life. Then God spoke to my heart. Even though He usually speaks in a still, small voice, His message was loud and clear. He told me, “Open your hands!” I thought, Okay, Lord. As I opened my hands and stretched them out, I realized I couldn’t hold onto anything with my fingers apart and palms open. I couldn’t even pull up the blanket.

God revealed, “This is how I want your hands – open so I can take all that you have been holding onto: worries, concerns, hurts, regrets, hang-ups, disappointments, control of your circumstances, and the difficult relationships you face.

God reinforced that same message as I read the September devotional from In Touch Magazine. It was titled, “The Way to Finish Well,” which focuses on 2 Timothy 4:6-8. The author, Charles Stanley, asked the question: How can God’s people finish well in life?

Stanley answered, “God doesn’t require us to have perfect lives in order to finish strong. We can live abundantly and be ready to meet our Maker by surrendering, walking victoriously with Christ, and serving others.”

I contemplated those words – surrendering, walking with Christ, and serving others.

When I think of surrender, I picture a thief caught with a bag of stolen goods. The cops or feds come in and tell that person, “Drop it and hold up your hands.”

God is neither a police officer nor a federal marshal insisting we release “our stuff.” He is a mighty, loving God who is willing and able to carry all our burdens. Matthew 11:28 tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Our part is to have a willingness to release those heavy weights to Him. Then He gives us peace. God doesn’t force us to drop our heavy load. Yet, He wants us to release it to Him because He knows if we continue to carry it, our well-being (mind, heart, soul) will be harmed.

I thought about all the concerns, hurts, and worries I needed to surrender to God. God’s Word says He would carry them instead of me. I liked the idea of releasing the whole heavy bundle of stuff I was carrying. I decided it was time to do it. I gave it all to Him!

The next step after surrender is to take God’s right hand. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Those words assure me I will be safe and secure at His side. With my left hand in His, God will support, guide, direct, and help me. My right hand is free to reach out to others: to serve and help them. Proverbs 31:20 says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

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This was a simple yet powerful life lesson for me. The whole process resembles a cross. As I stand firm on the foundation of God’s Word (Jesus Christ), I raise my hands up to God, then surrender and let Him have all control of my life. Then I give my one hand to God so He can guide me on my life’s journey and my other hand is free to serve others. I become an extension of God’s love and grace.

I felt an amazing sense of relief as I surrendered my finances for God to resolve. Now my part is to stay within a limited budget and be wise with the money I have left.

I have also surrendered my relationships with my three daughters. Over the years, I have desperately tried various ways to receive their love (with gifts, trips, lunches out) so I could feel good about being their mother. It finally dawned on me that I had been looking to them to bring me fulfillment. The truth is: they are not at a place or mindset to give me their love or respect. I have been “looking for love in all the wrong places” as the song goes. My daughters are not perfect; they can only give me a fraction of the love I need.

I was looking for unconditional love. The unconditional and perfect love comes from God. My fulfillment comes from Him because He fills all my needs. As I seek Him, God is the One who gives me the full measure of the love I need. I stand confident and assured that He will never leave me or forsake me. He is by my side holding my hand. As I hold onto God’s hand and walk with Him, He directs my path. He has a plan and purpose for me. He wants me to love and serve others.

God, through His Holy Spirit, equips me with spiritual gifts. He gives me opportunities to utilize those gifts. My role, as a godly woman, is to reach out with my hands to those in need.  

What we do with our hands is crucial to leading a fulfilling life.

How have you seen God use your hands when you surrender all to Him?

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Rosalie Campbell

Rosalie Campbell accepted the Lord Jesus in her life while in her 40’s. As a new Christian, she was discipled for two years by a godly woman from her church. Rosalie worked as an interior designer in her own company, Design Trends, for over twenty years. God urged her to serve in ministry by “decorating hearts instead of homes.” She reached out to women who struggled with emotional hurts and led a Bible study for divorced and widowed women then started support groups for ACADF (Adult Children of Alcoholics or Dysfunctional Families). After seven years of facilitating these groups, she wrote a study, Come Back to the Garden, for women who wanted to find restoration from past hurts.
In 1998, Rosalie founded and established Garden Path Ministries as a non-profit organization to educate, equip and encourage women in transition and crisis situations.

In 2002, she had an opportunity to offer her garden study as a correspondence course for women in prison. These courses matched Christian women on the outside to encourage women inside the bars. In 2008, GPM filmed a series called Living Skills for Success, an eight-part video series with qualified Christian speakers on topics to help female inmates re-enter society and lead productive lives. This program continued until 2012. The correspondence course is still being used in prisons in California, Texas and Oklahoma. Over the years, GPM trained many women from local churches to be respondents to inmates doing the course as well as volunteers for ministry work.

Rosalie felt God urging her to write two studies for men and women in prison that would be easily understood and give the basics for spiritual growth. Turning from Darkness to Light and The Shepherd’s Voice are distributed to inmates through the chaplains at prisons Arizona and California. Over 7,350 of these studies in English and Spanish have been sent to inmates.

In 2012, God opened a new door of opportunity for Garden Path Ministries. When a retired parole officer in Riverside County, CA volunteered for the ministry, she saw the need to help people make the transition from prison to life on the outside. She arranged to get a vacant office space in Moreno Valley, CA donated for ministry use.
With the grace of God, FOCUS Outreach Center was birthed and has expanded to three office spaces. GPM began offering the Living Skills program to women recently paroled. This outreach ministry took a different direction due to the needs in the community. Because of the many homeless people who camp nearby, FOCUS now provides food (serving over 630 meals per month) clothing, haircuts, and court approved programs for recovery, parenting, anger management, domestic violence drug and alcohol counseling. Today, ninety-five percent of the clients of FOCUS are men.

Rosalie is still very active in the ministry. Her journey in ministry has been a joyful yet challenging one. It took many twists and turns, ups and downs. Through it all God led the way. All that has been done has been through the amazing grace of the LORD. A wise pastor once told Rosalie, “A good leader will work her out of a job and turn it over to another qualified person who wants to serve the Lord.” Recently, she turned over the administrative duties of GPM and FOCUS Outreach Center into the capable hands of a devoted volunteer, Teddi Vesey.
This year, Rosalie started Janet Thompson’s, Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at her church in Menifee, CA.

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I Will Not Be Ashamed!

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The media would have you think that surveys are proving the Christian population is diminishing, but you know better than to believe everything you read and hear. We live in an era where liberals are intent on demoralizing, demeaning, and denouncing Christians and everything we stand for and believe. Their strongest tactic is trying to shame us and use the power of words and name calling to threaten us into backing down from our faith and God’s Word.

But I hope you stand with me and the apostle Paul who said to his mentee, Timothy:

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

—2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Vine’s definition of ashamed: “A strong feeling of shame preventing a person from doing something.”

If God wants us to do something and the Holy Spirit prompts us—regardless of how “politically incorrect” or unpopular it might be, we need to stand proud of our Lord and Savior and follow the Great Commission He left for us to live out. We need to stand together against the pressure of this world to shame us—no matter how many names they call us, laws they pass to quiet us, or how unpopular we become personally … our job as Christians is to speak and live the Gospel.

The Christian World is Not Shrinking

Reality is that the true Christian population is not shrinking—Christians who would never back down in the face of adversity are actually increasing. What is shrinking is the gap between those who call themselves “Christian” hoping for a free ticket to heaven while following the world’s ways, and those who identify with Christ and are willing to follow Him wherever He leads, even if it means suffering for the Gospel, as Paul did.

Both Jesus and Paul were rivals to the accepted culture of their day and everything they did upset the social order. Why would we think it so strange when we encounter the same reaction and persecution?

Pseudo-Christians are looking for a gospel they’ll never find: one that allows them not to make waves and keep their faith “private.” As that becomes more impossible, their faith becomes weaker and they fall away. Those “so called” Christians become lesser in number.

But to those who have the courage to be unpopular for Christ no matter what—their faith becomes stronger and their stance against the wrongs of this world becomes bolder. Yes, praise God, the true Christian population is increasing. Again just like Paul tells Timothy, these Christians will:

With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.—2 Timothy 1:8-10

There’s Only One Kind of Christian

God shields every Christian who believes in living out the Bible—and only the Bible. A new term has caught my attention: “Bible-believing Christian.” I shake my head every time I hear it because there is no other kind of Christian. If you don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, call yourself anything you want, but don’t call yourself a Christian because that’s blasphemy and heresy.

God ordains the steps of every Christian. We need to be using what He has given us in the time that we have here on Earth. God had a reason for saving us. So when we speak up for God, He gives our words power and He infuses us with courage. Holy people love God and others and tell the truth about God to everyone.

Liberals use the argument that Jesus loved everyone so Christians should love everyone’s sins. But they’re twisting the word “love” to mean what they want it to mean. To use “love” to justify sin is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught.

It’s true that Jesus loved the world and that’s why He died for everyone to have freedom from sin—sins that God hates. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we could keep on sinning, but that we could live a life free from sin. That’s the true loving Gospel. Sharing the love of Christ and the Gospel with someone is the most loving thing you could do. Because …

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.–Hebrews 10:25-27

Sin is Sin Even When Our Family is Doing It

I know firsthand that one of the hardest things as a parent is to watch our children choose to sin. I wrote a book about Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter so I know the heartbreak of feeling like you can’t do anything to stop them. But you can love them and pray for them. The most unloving thing you can do is enable them by overlooking their sin, indulging their sin, or trying to convince yourself that their sin isn’t really that bad. The most loving thing you can do is love them unconditionally, but don’t love their sin and help them turn their eyes to Jesus. Never give up on that quest!

Remember, every murderer is someone’s child, but that doesn’t make murder OK. Every alcoholic is someone’s child, but alcoholism is wrong. Every thief has parents, but stealing is a sin. If your child is indulging in alternate lifestyles, having sex outside of marriage, or experimenting with any transgenderism or homosexuality—it’s all sin. God doesn’t make any mistakes. He made girls as girls and boys as boys and he created girls to fall in love with boys, get married, and then have sex. The most loving thing you can do for your sinning child is to pray for him or her to seek Jesus, ask for forgiveness, change their sinful ways, and live a righteous life.

It’s painful and it takes courage, but my daughter is so glad that I loved her so much that I never gave up praying for her and today that’s our testimony together.

Christianity is the Only All Inclusive Faith

When the world says that Christians are “exclusive” that only shows ignorance of Christianity, the most “inclusive” religion in the world. Jesus is available to everyone. He died for everyone, but sadly, not everyone will accept His loving free invitation to eternal life with Him.

I leave you with a scenario that says it better than I can:

A young boyfriend and girlfriend were in a tragic accident and died. They’re looking down on the scene:

Girl to boy: “I have to leave you now.”
Boy: “I want to go with you wherever you’re going.”
Girl: “I’m going to be with God, but you didn’t accept him so you can’t come with me.”

Boy: “Did you know this?”

Girl: “Yes …”

Boy: “Then why didn’t you tell me?”
Girl: “I was afraid I would lose you.”

Who are you afraid of losing here on Earth, who someday you’ll have to say goodbye to forever? Don’t be ashamed to share the Gospel. Someone’s eternal life depends on it.

I derived parts of this blog from Pastor Brian Smith’s message at Crouch Community Church May 17, 2015. I wanted to say a huge “Amen” after every sentence. Thank you Pastor Brian for being a student of the Bible and preparing your congregation to be bold for Christ.

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When You’re Mom #2

As many of you know, Dave and I are a blended family. Our children were all in their teens when we married and I thought it would be smooth sailing, but we definitely had many challenges. With Christ at the center of our marriage, and agreeing that divorce would NEVER be an option, praise God we made it through and our sweet kids are all brothers and sisters in Christ and in family.

But during the difficult years, I longed for someone to mentor me from the perspective of “been there done that, made it through with Christ and you will too” and I’ll pray for you and help you. But I never found that mentor. I bought the few Christian books there were for step families and Dave and I joined a support group at church. I would have gone to a retreat in a heartbeat. I know Laura Petherbridge personally as a friend and fellow author and speaker, and if you’re a stepmom you will enjoy her book and this retreat. If you know stepmoms or have a support group at your church, please share this blog post.

Laura is giving away a copy of her book, 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom so leave a comment to enter the drawing and check the box to receive follow up emails to this post so we can let you know if you won, or check back on Friday. We’ve given away a book a week all month. I love it.

Helping Hurting Women

By Laura Petherbridge

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“Please remove my name from your mailing list,” the woman’s email requested. “I am no longer a stepmom.”

My heart sank as I finished her note. Divorce. Again. She became one of the census statistics which reports that 60-73% of stepfamilies fail.

I cried out to God, “Lord, one more marriage gone. One more home fractured. One more child believing, ‘marriage doesn’t work’ because he/she has now witnessed two demolished families.”

“Lord, help me to reach stepmoms before it’s too late. Please, show me how to provide help, healing and hope. They need a spa for their weary soul, they need a—RETREAT!!”

Last year when I had the idea to conduct a stepmom retreat, I assumed it would be a one-time event. I asked a few stepmom sisters who offered a similar stepmom outreach to join me. And that one step, that one decision, has rocked my world.

We Can’t Stop Now

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Since I’ve written two books for Stepmoms I’ve gotten used to them emailing me for help, but now at the retreat they were in my arms. Their tears, pending divorces, and the voices of their hurting children, were looking me in the eyes. And their begging pleas, “I’m afraid I might not make it. I feel like a failure. Show me how to survive life in a stepfamily,” could not be silenced in my head.

“What are we going to do now?” was the question each teammate asked as we ate lunch together after the retreat.

“We can’t stop now,” one team member shared. “We must do more of these events, more stepmoms need our help.”

And so with no money, no sponsor, no guidebook to follow, and no website established, we launched a ministry, Sisterhood of Stepmoms.

Within two weeks of establishing a Facebook page we had 700 likes, and now one year later, it’s over 2400. Stepmoms from everywhere began sharing how grateful they were to receive help and a place to find healing.

The Church Typically Doesn’t Understand

The church rarely has a ministry that meets the needs of stepmoms.

“I went to a mom’s conference, and a women’s retreat geared for families, but none of the issues they addressed applied to my situation,” stepmom Lisa shared.

“I need to know how to parent alongside my stepson’s mother. She lives very differently than we do, with completely diffident view of what is right and wrong. Plus I can’t figure out how to handle my husband’s inability to discipline his kids. Even though his ex-wife is the one who left the marriage for another man, he is plagued by guilt because his kids are from a divorced home.”

This is why a ministry specifically designed for stepfamilies, which can address their unique issues is a huge need. Many statistics show that there are more stepfamilies in the USA today than there are first time families. They avoid the church because there isn’t a place for them.

God Has Other Plans

Before this stepmom mentoring occurred, I kept asking God for a “nice, clean” women’s ministry. You know something with pink ribbons and flowing butterflies. I was seeking a ministry that the annual church women’s luncheon would eagerly embrace for their keynote.

Wrong.

God had other plans, and I’m so glad. Whether it’s; the childhood shame and trauma associated with my parent’s divorce, the devastation when my husband walked out of our marriage, or the stress of being a stepmom, the wounds of my past provide me with the insight to mentor, encourage, or instruct others. When given to Jesus, my scars serve a higher calling. The destruction is transformed into a restoration for another.

I’m thrilled to be on this journey. Here’s another email that explains why. It reads differently than the previous.

“Dear Laura, Thank you for your ministry to stepmoms. I want you to know it saved my marriage. I was on the verge of divorce; I couldn’t take stepfamily living anymore. And you taught me that with God’s help I can learn how to live above the circumstances. You offered practical, no-nonsense, real life information which changed my attitude and perspective. You gave me tools and hope. My husband immediately noticed, and now I think we will make it.”

It doesn’t get any better than that.

The next retreat, geared for ANY women who is a single parent or dating, engaged or married to a man with kids (young or old), is April 17-19th, at the gorgeous Sandy Cove Retreat Center.

What Can YOU Do?

Won’t YOU be the one to reach out to a stepmom, and show her where to find help, healing and hope?

Leave a comment to enter drawing for a free book. Be sure to check the box to receive follow up comments to this post or check back on Friday to see if you won!

Copyright © 2014 Laura Petherbridge. All rights reserved

 

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Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, step-parenting, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of 101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom—Expert Advice from One Stepmom to Another and When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series. Her book The Smart Stepmom, is co-authored with stepfamily expert Ron Deal. Her website is www.TheSmartStepmom.com

 

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What to Do When Your Child is Sad

Joanne Kraft, a fellow The M.O.M Initiative mentor mom, has a new book out The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. I asked her to share with you a snippet from her book. No matter how old your child is, it’s hard to see him or her sad or unhappy. The mom in you wants to fix everything and make them happy again. But as Joanne reminds us, sometimes you just need to let them cry.

Joanne uses an example from Mary and Martha that I also share in my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ. Jesus cried right along with them when their brother Lazarus died, but God had a bigger plan then they could see at the immediate moment. Teaching our children how to deal with disappointments and discouragement might just be God’s plan for us stepping out of the way and letting them cry.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. Be sure to check the box “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” so you’ll know if you won the book.

Let Them Cry

By Joanne Kraft

 

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My teenage son walked down the stairs with a frown on his face. College classes have gotten the best of him it seems. My pep talk with him yesterday apparently wasn’t as good as I thought it was. My future as a motivational speaker went down in a fizzle.

When I brought my first child home from the hospital, cries were immediately met with a soothing rub and my full attention until the whimpers quieted. From baby tears to teenage sulking, I want to make my child happy. I’ve exhausted myself trying to make this happen. I’ve finally realized I can’t make any of my kids happy.

Here’s the clue you may be doing something wrong—when you’re exhausting yourself doing it.

Years ago, when my mom watched me try to stop my kids from shedding tears she gave me my first golden bit of wisdom, “Let them cry. It’s okay. They will be fine.”

When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus had died, Jesus didn’t come that very day but waited two more days before heading back to them in Judea. When he arrived, he discovered the funeral had already taken place. Lazarus had been dead four days and two very heartbroken sisters who had been crying for days were in deep mourning.

Not only were Mary and Martha in tears, but it’s in this passage of Scripture where we find the shortest sentence in the Bible—Jesus wept. Two words packed with incredible meaning. Even our Savior shed tears. Even He felt sad.

Here’s a few things I learned to do when my toddlers or teenagers were hurt or sad.

  • Let them hurt. Is there anything more contrary to mothering than allowing a child to cry or hurt? But, it’s much needed for their development. Come alongside and give them a hug or sympathize, “Yes, I know you’re sad.” Or, “It’s okay to be sad. Sometimes mommy is sad, too.” And if a child is older, maybe you can empathize, “I understand how hard this is for you.” Or, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Follow up with a personal story of your own about a past hurt or grievance.
  • Let them heal. Give them a little time. Don’t let their hurt sabotage your life. Give them space but look for signs of healing: interest in friends, playing again, laughter, an appetite, and conversation.
  • Let them lean. When a child is young, they lean on mom and dad for everything. As they grow older we need to let go so they can lean on God. I can’t expect my adult child to have BIG faith if they have little experience in leaning on a BIG GOD. If I answer their every whim and whimper, I become God in their eyes. Do you want to grow their faith? Let them lean on the only ONE who can meet and exceed their expectations. (Psalm 62:5)

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I have to remind myself, my daughters and sons must feel pain while in my keep. God grows us through pain. How else will they know how to navigate life’s storms as adults? So, precious mamas, let your child cry today. Let them hurt and let them heal and make sure to let them lean on God. Scripture reminds us there’s “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) Maybe, today it’s time to let them cry. I promise they’ll be okay.

“A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

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Joanne Kraft chair button size Joanne Kraft is a mom of four and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her latest book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and her articles have appeared in ParentLife, In Touch, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Visit her at JoanneKraft.com.
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Are You Parenting from Fear?

I had the privilege of endorsing the book Mothering from Scratch by Kathy Helgemo and Melinda Means, and I can assure you this is a book every mother wants to read. I met Kathy and Melinda at The MOM Initiative Better Together Conference in Jacksonville, FL last summer. Kathy took my workshop on Praying for Your Prodigal based on my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. In today’s guest blog, Kathy shares the feelings that stirred in her while listening to me speak.

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Breaking Free From Parenting Out of Fear

by Kathy Helgemo

 

I heard Janet talk at the Better Together conference last July on the topic of Parenting Your Prodigal. Once she started talking about parenting out of fear, I found myself sitting up. Listening. Wondering. Do I do that?

Oh, really Janet.” I thought. “You must be talking to someone other than me.”

I don’t consider myself a scared person. I actually don’t consider myself a particularly anxious person either. So, I found it interesting when God started laying on my heart that this was a problem of mine. I don’t have this problem, remember?

But this day He revealed to me that I truly did. And I better pay attention. Pronto.

Parenting from a place of fear has more to do with us than our kids. Yet, they suffer the consequences. Ouch.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble enjoying the good times on occasion. For years, I constantly worried about my kids repeating my mistakes. Not theirs — mine.

I have parented my children as if they were making the same mistakes I did — even when they weren’t making any at all. No wonder they felt like they were doing something wrong. Guilty. For nothing.

They weren’t doing anything in particular.

Sure I did it when I was their age.

But they didn’t.

And hopefully they won’t.

Here is some of the evidence that I found in myself about parenting with fear:

  • I made normal transitions into drama-filled experiences. Too much attention. Too much anxiety. It’s akin to keeping on the training wheels way too long because it’s easier than seeing scraped knees. It’s normal to stumble and fall.
  • I tried to control their relationships too much. I didn’t want them to get their feelings hurt or hang out with “the wrong kids”.  After all, that’s what happened to me. However, they need friends and connection. They also need to learn how to discern the difference between good and bad influences.
  • I completely exaggerated everyday dangers. Here are some examples: strangers, alcohol, mean people, strange places. Dirt! For Pete’s sake. Those problems are not going to leave the planet anytime soon. I had an “all or nothing” attitude regarding some of them and it got out of control.
  • I worried about their achievements as if they were my own. How is this fearful? It’s the fear of failure. If we have struggled with the fear of failure ourselves, it’s so easy to project it onto our kids. For example, perhaps we were never a straight A student. We struggled just to get by on B’s and C’s. Suddenly, our kid’s excelling in school. Obsessing over of their grades becomes our focus. It’s much easier than to work through our own feelings of failing as a student.
  • I tried to prevent any kind of pain. We are their mothers! Gosh, darn it! We don’t want to see them in any kind of suffering. Unfortunately, that would prevent an awful lot of learning too. We can love them through anything. Teaching moments only happen when we get out of the way. Now, that’s scary!

Remember…

Love is the opposite of fear. Willing our child’s good above our own can be hard.

Staying in the place of fear, however, robs them of the security of knowing what real love is.

Let’s focus on loving our kids, giving them the security that their good is truly the center of our motives and actions.

And there you have it….

When are you parenting out of fear?

 

How can you break free and parent more from love?

 

What’s one area you can turn over your fear to God letting Him take control?

 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Mothering From Scratch.

 

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Kathy Helgemo blogs over at Mothering From Scratch. She co-wrote the book Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Parenting Style That Works for You and Your Family with Melinda Means. Together they support and encourage moms to develop their own mothering recipe.

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