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Friday, October 10

When Fear Chases Me

My eyes popped open and my heart raced when my phone buzzed at 1AM. Good news isn’t usually delivered at that hour. I hopped out of bed and grabbed my phone.

“Mom, police have my dorm on lockdown and are running up and down the hall shouting. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m scared.”

It was from Ashley, my college freshman daughter, over 7 hours away from me.

I tried calling her but the reception was so bad neither of us could make out what the other was saying. Texting was my only option so I asked a series of questions trying to get a better handle of what was happening.

My hands were shaking. My heart was racing. And I felt intensely helpless.

Scary images assaulted my mind with all the possible scenarios a completely shaken mama conjures up in moments of frightening uncertainty. I sank down to my knees and begged God to clear my head and give me the words to text that would help…

Have you ever experienced an intense moment of fear like this? Day by day, I’m learning that I can feel afraid but I don’t have to live afraid. I’m sharing what this situation with Ashley has taught me about fear over at (in)courage today. Click here to read the rest of this story.

I’m also giving away 3 copies of It Will Be Okay right here on my blog. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win.

Friday, August 8

Before They Go to School… Have This Conversation

I look around the dinner table and feel that desperate ache not uncommon to women who deeply love.

Whether it’s my own family or those who just feel like family, I want so much for them. These young people who are so full of possibility and dreams and bright futures… they have my heart.

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Yet my heart feels fragile in the hands of these young people. They are smart. They are grounded. But they are young.

It takes me back to me at that age.

And that scares me.

I remember feeling so grown up and crazy excited at the chance to be in charge of my own life. Ready for independence. Ready for love. Ready for the next chapter of my life.

Chasing what felt good and thrilling, I quickly learned the wind blows in dangerous directions sometimes. Going with the flow led me places I didn’t intend to go. And I woke up one morning ashamed of my choices, wondering how in the world I got to this place.

How?

I cringe thinking back on it. And I cry. Because I don’t want that experience for these people I desperately love.

So, in the midst of the laughter and casual banter, I turn the conversation at the dinner table to a word I want them to know and live.

Pre-decide.

Decide today who you want to be. In this moment of togetherness, surrounded by family, and saturated in love — decide.

Decide what your answer will be when the talk turns ugly and the laughter turns mean against that girl who desperately needs you to be her friend.

Decide what your answer will be when someone invites you to the cool party full of drinks and drugs.

Decide what your answer will be when the boy says it’s no big deal to stay the night.

Decide what your answer will be when “friends” laugh at your Christian views and challenge you to lighten up.

Pre-decide.

Decide today who you are going to turn to if you do get into trouble. Remember, the people at this table. Remember, who truly has your best interest at heart. Remember who you are.

Pre-decide.

Decide today to turn around any mistakes from your past by asking for God’s forgiveness and walking in His grace.

Decide today to ignore the enemy who wants to trick you and trip you and take you out.

Pre-decide.

Yes, pre-decide.

And then we go around the table and tell what we are pre-deciding this year. And my heart feels less of that ache.

I’m not so foolish to think this will act as a bad choice immunization. We are all susceptible. But it is a way to infuse their heart with a memory of a pre-decision.

And with that the plates are cleared, the cookies are nothing more than crumbs, and it’s time to go.

So, I whisper a few last words that are a “best yes” for them…

Go where wisdom gathers, not where wisdom scatters. 

Make decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.

And (insert voice cracking and tears welling up), remember how much I love you.

Here are some great Bible Verses to pray for our kids as they head off to school this year:

Galatians 1:10

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Joshua 24:15

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

I want to further equip you to have these kinds of discussions with your kids… your spouse… your coworkers… your fellow ministry leaders.

My new book The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands will do just that. It doesn’t release until August 12th, but you have an opportunity to pre-order your copy today and receive $50 of free gifts that won’t be available after release. Click here to get your copy!

Also, today I’m giving away 5 Best Yes bundles – including the book, the participant’s guide, and a cling you can put anywhere to remind you of your Best Yes each day.

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For your chance to win, leave a comment below. Who do you want to have this conversation with? What do you want to pre-decide today?

Friday, June 20

What is the Secret to Not Freaking Out?

A couple of years ago I overheard my daughter Hope telling a friend that she was so glad I didn’t get all worked up over grades. Not trying to be nosey but totally wanting to be nosey, I kept listening.

She went on to explain that she and her brothers and sisters were expected to do their best, but in the end, as long as they work hard, Art and I were okay with whatever grade they received.

For the most part, this is right.

This hasn’t always been the case. When Hope started kindergarten, I felt compelled to help her succeed. I felt enormous pressure because I believed success in school meant success in life, and I wanted to set my child up for success.

She was a bright child. She was an articulate child. But try as I might, all through kindergarten she couldn’t read.

Then came first grade. All of the other kids in her class were reading with ease. Some were even reading chapter books! Not my daughter. I panicked. I had her tested. I worried constantly that I must be doing something wrong as her mother.

In the end, it was a readiness issue with her. When she was ready, she starting reading.

Then along came my next child, who was reading at four years old. Finally I’d done something right, I reasoned.

But then child number three came along, and she was my slowest reader yet.

Through all of this, God started to untangle the misperception that success in school determines success in life. And that as a parent, it is up to me to push, plead, demand, and determine my child’s future.

Slowly, I realized God has a plan for each of my kids. As long as I am depending on the Lord to guide me as a parent, nothing I do or don’t do will mess up my kid’s future.

As their parent, it’s my job to guide them, but my guiding shouldn’t have their success in the world’s eyes as the ultimate goal. My guiding should be focused on leading them into a relationship with God, where He’ll make their path straight, no matter what their grades are.

As a parent, this revelation has provided such freedom for me and my kids.

I can celebrate that if one of my kids excels in a subject, that particular success is needed for whatever God intends for them to eventually do in life. If, however, a child struggles and can’t grasp a certain subject—well, that’s also part of God’s direction.

Of course, working hard, doing your best, and being a conscientious student are important. But in the end, for me and my home, grades are not the ultimate determination of success.

This child may never make marks in school that the world highly esteems, but giving her the freedom to excel in the way God has designed her is already paying off. She has an eternal perspective that’s more valuable for her future than any academic accolade.

I’m convinced her struggles in school are actually God’s way to keeping her on the path He’s had for her since she was conceived. Hope was conceived only four months into our very rough start of a marriage. Art and I were two broken sinners thrust into the responsibility of trying to raise a child.

The day Hope was born I saw God like never before. His tender grace was handed to me wrapped in a pink blanket with eyes so wide, so blue, they were a sea of forgiveness forever staring back at me.

I’d never physically touched God, but that day I did. And maybe for the first time in my entire life, His hope rushed inside of me and started rearranging and redeeming my brokenness.

Hope.

We named her Hope.

Now, we won’t talk about the conversations I had with God when His Hope kept me up in the middle of the night for months after that. And we will save the story of how His Hope has always felt it was beneath her to be the child, and she would put her hands on her toddler hips and tell me not to boss her.

We’ll save those stories for another day.

Because I’ll never forget an e-mail I got from His Hope while she was on a mission trip. Hope was walking the broken roads of Ethiopia navigating poverty her mind couldn’t quite process. She bumped into sheep and a woman walking toward her house made of cardboard and ripped bedsheets.

Hope’s steps were steady, though her heart felt shaky as she loved on 30 kids dying of AIDS in a forgotten orphanage on the forgotten outskirts of town.

She wrote to say, “Mom, I’ve fallen in love. The kids rushed at me when I walked in and I tried to hold all 30 of them at one time.”

His Hope.

From a broken mama. Into a broken world. His Hope is still going forth like only His Hope can.

So, all that to say, yeah—I don’t get all worked up over grades. Trusting God’s plan is the only secret I know in the gentle art of not freaking out.

amimessing Join thousands of other moms who are also looking to God for what they need each day with Proverbs 31 Ministries’ online Bible study of my book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? It begins July 13th and you don’t want to miss it. Click here for more information and to sign up today!

To get us started for the study, I’m giving away 5 copies of Am I Messing Up My Kids? to randomly chosen commenters. To enter, leave a comment telling me how you keep your freak-out moments under control.