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.

Friday, May 9

The 5 Mom Prayers You Need

Being a mom is wonderfully amazing. Until it isn’t. And I find myself awake at 3am wondering what I could have done better … or beating myself up for all the ways I fall short … or convincing myself I sometimes just flat out stink at being a mom.

Ever been there?

Deep fear grips the heart of a mother who feels quite inadequate and unsure of what to do next.

I beg God to appear in my bedroom with the fix-it plan and assurance that it really is going to be okay.

After all, He’s the perfect Parent, and has dealt with imperfect children since the beginning of time. I think He offers the best advice around.

But He doesn’t appear. Not in the flesh anyhow. Instead, He leads me to open His Word and put pen to paper. I scribble truth, thoughts, and prayers.

And then I wonder if you ever feel like me.

For those who sigh and say, “yes,” I put together a 5-day devotional with accompanying prayers you can lift up for yourself as a mom. I thought this might be the perfect piece of encouragement for you this Mother’s Day.

To sign up to receive “The 5 Mom Prayers You Need,” pop over to my Instagram @LysaTerKeurst or by clicking here. I’m posting inspirational graphics and in my profile you’ll find the link to sign up. Here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been posting …

The 5 Mom Prayers You Need - Lysa TerKeurst
The 5 Mom Prayers You Need - Lysa TerKeurst

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, March 13

Practical Ways to Keep Your Family Connected

The paper plates all worn out from the dinner well enjoyed. The farm table sticky. The new Brussels sprout recipe loved by me but rejected by everyone else. Have mercy. The little sister aggravated to tears by the big sisters. The husband slightly overwhelmed by the female drama.

It’s what I call home. A snapshot from one of our weekly Monday night dinners.

As Mom, I comfort that one whose feelings got hurt while scolding the other two. We navigate lessons in kindness and the power of words and why we must watch the way we treat each other.

A boy’s name is mentioned. This is a kind boy. A boy who loves Jesus and says “yes ma’am” in his deep 20-year-old voice. I like respectful boys. My daughter, the same age, smiles at the mention of him. My husband and I notice. In a matter of minutes we’re all laughing together.

Together.

This beautifully messy band of people I call my own need time together. Space to connect and process. Conversational threads are what make up the fabric of relationships. We must take time. Make time. To talk.

And today, my sweet friends and partners in ministry, Glynnis Whitwer and Karen Ehman are popping in to give practical ways to find this time and maximize it. Take it away, friends…

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As moms of busy children, we know how hard it is to carve out time with family. But in most homes, it is possible to set aside time every week to strengthen your family unity, to turn your hearts toward God, and to have fun in the process.

The key is commitment, consistency, and a small amount of creativity.

Don’t worry about it being exactly right, and don’t compare your family’s plans with anyone else’s. There’s no perfect day, perfect amount of time, or perfect agenda. Maybe your family only has Saturday mornings, or after church on Sundays, or Tuesday nights.

Grab that time and try to make it non-negotiable.

We think it’s always easier to start simply when trying to establish a habit. So don’t set expectations you can’t continue to meet. A little food, a little conversation, some laughter, and you’ve got a memory in the making.

A few years ago, Glynnis met a pastor’s wife at a small church in Louisiana. This grandma of many was discussing her dinner menu for later that day. The guest list numbered around twenty and included children, grandchildren, and a few friends invited into the fold. Was it someone’s birthday? Or anniversary?

“No,” she answered. “It’s just Sunday dinner. We do this every week. It’s how we keep our family connected.”

What a wonderful practice. A simple dinner. A standing invitation. A reason to reconnect with friends and family after a busy week.

What might this look like in your home? The type of food doesn’t matter as much as making enough to feed a few extra friends who might be invited.

Maybe your special family time is you and your husband . . . or maybe it’s a passel of children and grandkids. No matter the size of the gathering, the fanciness of your table, or the spot on the calendar, establishing time together with people you love is worth the investment.

Here are some ideas you can try as you gather your people:

1. Devotional time

Pick a short passage of the Bible to read together. Depending on the ages of your children, take turns coming up with a few discussion questions. Keep this simple to help make the Bible accessible to every member of your family. Close with a short prayer thanking God for His Word and message to you tonight. Pray also for others.

2. Make-your-own _____ night.

Get the family involved in making dinner. One idea is make-your-own pizza. Using French bread or hoagie rolls as your base, set out an assortment of toppings, pizza sauce, and cheese and let everyone assemble their own creation. You might also try a salad bar, sub sandwiches, or Cincinnati chili (with optional five toppings).

3. Board games

Board games can be expensive, but compare their cost with taking your family out to the movies and you might have a new perspective. Some of our favorites include Ticket to Ride, Apples to Apples, and Imaginiff.

4. Arts and crafts

A craft project stimulates creativity and camaraderie. Paint flower pots, color eggs at Easter, decorate cookies at Christmas, or make pinecone bird feeders using peanut butter.

5. Read out loud.

Pick a book to read through as a family. This is a family tradition your children will appreciate (coming from a woman –Glynnis – whose mother read faithfully to her). Some family-friendly selections include The Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and any of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

6. Family sleepover

When Glynnis’ children were small, they’d spread blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on the floor of the master bedroom for a sleepover. There was something special about ending the night together . . . sort of like a camping experience without the dirt. Karen’s children developed a “Siblings Night” where her three children piled into one room for a parent-free night of snacks, stories and song.

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Everyday Confetti Thank you, Karen and Glynnis! If you like these ideas, you’ll enjoy their newest book, Everyday Confetti. In this go-to guide, they’ll give you planning suggestions and the motivation needed to make time with family more intentional. They provide creative ideas and menu plans for:
• Holidays
• Birthdays
• Special Events
• Everyday Occasions
They’ll also be posting ideas monthly on their blog! Click here to check it out.

And today, I’m giving away 5 copies of Everyday Confetti. For your chance to win, leave a comment below with the one step you’re taking today to keep your family connected.