Parenting with Grace {book review}

As I fell asleep last night I prayed about what God wanted me to share this morning and as I began to drift off to sleep, this book came to mind and I felt like that was direction I was supposed to go in.  If I needed confirmation, my "on this day" feature on Facebook had this photo from a few years ago!  How awesome is that?

If I had to choose one book that formed my parenting style, it would be this one.  It has been the most helpful and useful book for me.  Why? Well, I will give you the gist of it.

From this book I learned to let kids be kids.  To extend to them the grace of being children and not expect them to be little adults.  One of the main premises of this book is to differentiate between a heart problem and a behavior problem.  We cannot, as parents, make everything the hill we will die on, the thing we will fight for or make everything an argument.  The danger in doing that is making ourselves white noise in the backgrounds of our children.  If we criticize everything they do and constantly nit pick, how will they ever know that what is important? They won't, because we make a big deal about everything.  That's exhausting for all involved.

There is a difference between choosing to disobey and getting distracted and forgetting to do something.

It made a HUGE difference in our household when we began to learn how to deal with heart issues differently than behavioral ones.  Heart issues need a deeper level of instruction.  They need infusion of biblical principals, life lessons, etc.  THESE are the things worth making a big deal about.  Bullying, name calling, stealing, cheating, back talk, purposeful disobedience....these things come from the heart of the kid and likely something else is going on that they need help dealing with.  These things define their character.

Running around, being loud, making a mess, lolly gagging, daydreaming, long hair, choice of clothes, etc...these are not heart issues.  This is childhood.  Kids will be messy and crazy and wild.  Our job here is to help them learn how to recover from these things.  Make a mess? Let's clean it up.   These are not things that stem from something in their hearts, these are behaviors that all kids exhibit.  These things do not define their character.  

It's a little difficult to explain, but if you are looking for a parenting book that will literally make parenting easier, this is the one for you! I love the principles shared here and we have used them for years now.  Even to this day I will say to Doug "It's not a heart issue" and we know how to go about handling it.

I fully believe that our household is more peaceful because of this book.  Our children are generally responsive when we correct them or ask them to do something because not everything is a thing and they know if we say it, it's important.

Check it out! You can buy a copy HERE. Grace-Based Parenting

Enjoy your weekend!  

Labels and Lenses

I think we are born with the ability to see ourselves as Jesus does and over time, the world around us either erodes that lens or tends to it.

I, on one hand, had that lens completely destroyed at a young age and saw myself as an unloved, beast of burden to my parents.  My youngest son on the other hand, does not appear to have any problem seeing himself as the awesome kid God created him to be.  One lens was destroyed and one has been tended to.  I labeled myself "unloved", "worthless", "hopeless", "trouble" and oftentimes "forgotten".  He labels himself as "cool", "fun", "silly", "nice".  Lenses lead to labels. 

Lenses need caring for.  If they are to work properly, they need regular maintenance and attention.  If not, they become distorted and dirty and all at once don't give us a proper view of ourselves at all.  And what's more, the less favorably we look at ourselves, the less favorably we look at others.

What does lens care look like?  It looks like being in the word, coming back to what is true is IGNORING the emotions that lie to us.  The world tells us that we need to conform to what society thinks is beautiful and wonderful.  That's a lie!  The world would have us believe that differences make us weird or a burden to those around us. That's a lie!  The world would have us believe that certain sins make us worse than others.  That's a lie!  The world would have us believe that we are in competition with each other, especially if you are a woman.  That's a lie!   And you know what?  When we believe these lies, our lenses get distorted, our labels go awry and we become miserable.  Do you know why? Because these lies are the complete opposite of His truth for us!!

Here is a partial view from where God sits:

We are a light!
 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
He has created us to SHINE and not be dull! It's OK to work your talents and gifts!  Don't hide who you are because you are worried that your shine will get in someone else's eye!

We are a new creation! 
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
NOTHING in our past defines us.  We are not defined by our sin.  We are forgiven children of God!

We are the salt of the Earth! 
“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13
We were created to be who we are! We are not expected to mold ourselves to what's around us or what others expect of us.  We were each created with thought and care and specific details!  BE YOU! 

We were created to be victorious! 
 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
God has given us the ability to succeed, each of us as individuals.  Our success does not means someones failure.  We are not in competition with one another for a finite pie!  Celebrate with others who succeed without fear that it means your failure!! 

We are strong! 
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13
When we listen to HIS voice, we are able to do infinitely more than we have ever hoped.  He created us to be resilient and capable of so much!

The beauty of all of this? As we begin to care for ourselves and our lenses  we can move on to labeling ourselves appropriately, and when our lenses are well tended to, we can begin to label others well also.  
We can begin to see others as cheerleaders or teammates and not competition.  
We can begin to see that others who are successful do not take away from our ability to be so as well. 
We can let down our insecurities and let our true selves shine because we are not labeling beauty as the world defines it as "right" and our own as "wrong".  

And peace will settle in as we walk away from the worlds standards and into our Father's.  

May we all care for our lenses today so that our labels will begin to be accurate and our lives reflect that plans He has for us!

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