The Power of Words & Scripture [unasked for parenting advice from a new mom]

I feel like the last person on this planet who should be giving parenting advice. The amount of “oopsie daisy” moments I have had in my 6 months total of parenting have been a tad bit excessive. If I’m being completely honest, just the other day I absolutely lost it on the kids – not just yelling… I screamed. After I had calmed down, I called all of them downstairs [they were upstairs hiding], and began to apologize for setting such a poor example and being so impatient with them. My, oh so helpful, Twin # 1 looks at me, eyes wide.

“Yeah, Mom. You really scared all of us. Maybe you need therapy.”

Thanks, Bud.

So, like I said, I really don’t feel like I can offer great parenting advice, but I’m going to anyway. Besides, wasn’t my goal this year to be bold?

I was challenged a few weeks ago to think of the power in the words I use and to realize the living power of scripture.

Hebrews 4:12 – For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

With my parenting, I run to parenting books, online resources, and, of course, my mommy [who gives great advice, by the way]. But some things, especially with my littlest dude, haven’t been working as I had hoped. Partially because of my inconsistency and lack of patience, but I also believe that it just hasn’t been enough.

I was listening to a podcast from a lady who had a three year old that was so strong willed, defiant, and just driving her to tears daily, making her wonder what on earth she was going to do to help him.

This has been the last several months with my Little Man, so I tuned in.

She talked about how the Lord has placed in on her heart that her words had been demeaning and negative about her son rather than kind and uplifting. Not necessarily to his face, but in general.

Words have an impact. Depending on what comes out of your mouth, you can watch a child’s face light up brighter than the sun with pride or you can watch their face deflate as you realize you’ve just crushed their spirit. All with a few words.

Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak,

She began to pray blessings over her son, using scripture, such as that he was fearfully and wonderfully made. That he was wanted, chosen, loved. She took the truth that scripture is alive and active and started to use that in her parenting and, within a few months, her son was a completely different kid. Coincidence? I think not.

So, inspired, and ready to try anything, I began to do the same thing. I started praying for him, out loud, as we were driving together. I had memorized some scripture before doing this and just started praying it, putting his name in there, and asking the Lord to continue healing his heart and mind from his trauma. I prayed that the Lord would help him to take his huge, wonderful, spunky personality and use it in a way that glorified God, rather than habits that made me want to rip my hair out.

I started our mornings out praying together. I would grab his little hands and we’d press our foreheads together, and we’d pray the Lord would bless our day and help us to honor Him.

Each time he was naughty and I would have originally put him in timeout, I stopped and we prayed together. We prayed that the Lord would take this and use it to teach him. And me.

Nothing happened right away. In fact, I felt attacked by Satan. As I was drawing closer to the Lord, and trying to allow the Lord into every area of our life, I felt like Little Man’s behavior grew worse and my impatience and lack of compassion was surfacing like never before.

It was during this time that I definitely had that freak out on the kids mentioned above.

Then I quit doing it. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to quit, but more of defeat. Kind of like when you diet, only lose five pounds, but you’re not skinny yet? Well, I tried “hard” and Little Man still wasn’t fixed.

Then Monday this week, Little Man greeted me in the morning and we started our daily routine of the bathroom, breakfast, etc., when Little Man stopped me.

“Mommy, you forgot to pray with me this morning.”

Conviction. Oh, the conviction.

So we stopped. I grabbed his tiny hands, we pressed our foreheads together, and we prayed. Not just me. Once I finished, my sweet little three year old asked Jesus to help him to listen and honor God in his behavior.

People.

We have had THE best week to date. We’ve started praying together in the morning again, I’ve been praying little blessings over him throughout the day and my heart is soaring with pride of what this kiddo is doing through Christ. He’s recognizing his behaviors, he’s actively trying to change them, he’s being kinder to his siblings and the dogs, he’s listening and doing as he’s asked… And I don’t think this is coincidence. Trust me. I’ve spent the last five and a half months dealing with the same behaviors daily, some days worse than others. And this has been a full five days of a three year old TRULY trying to obey and when he [in his little human flesh] fails, he’s SO quick to apologize, and without prompting, state exactly what he is apologizing for and change his attitude immediately.

Yes, we’re going to have bad days still. No doubt.

Nevertheless, I encourage you, fellow parents of [difficult] children. Use the tool God originally gave us – His Word. Seek Him in your parenting instead of immediately jumping to harsh words and punishments. Pray with your children when they’ve disobeyed – that the Lord will mold their hearts and minds for Christ. Pray blessings over them – scripture is alive and active!

Trust me. I’m failing left and right – with this and with every other aspect of life. But thankfully, we serve a very gracious God that is here to pick us back up and keep carrying us through. You just have to allow Him to be a part of it.

Tonight, as I put Little Man in his bed, he asked me to snuggle him. Usually, I am so done momming at the end of the day that I give him a quick kiss, say our prayers, and tell him he needs to go to sleep. But this week has been so healing to our relationship and when he asked me to snuggle him, I actually wanted to spend more time with him. So I laid down next to him and, as he softly stroked my cheeks, I cuddled him to sleep. Oh my heart. ❤

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My Testimony

First off, I know I’ve written a few posts on Facebook and such regarding our infertility and shared a bit about my testimony. I do not believe in any way that my journey with infertility has defined me, nor is that the center of my life. However, it did consume me for years and due to my grief it is what my life felt centered around for a period of time. So, if it seems that I talk about it too much, I don’t intend to use it in a search for pity. Rather, I truly wish to bring honor to Christ in sharing what He has done in my life in and through infertility.

I married the man of my dreams on May 25th, 2013. Leading up to our big day, Drew and I had discussed waiting three years before having children. After all, I was only 18.

I think I waited only a week to announce to this poor man that I wanted to have kids right away. There was something about the ability finally being there that created a whoosh of the baby fever and Drew didn’t hear the end of it.

Fast forward a year and I felt the ping on my heart that something wasn’t right. People were getting pregnant left and right and after a year nothing was happening for us. I also knew I was steadily gaining weight, so I blamed not getting pregnant on that. I needed to be healthy. Besides, don’t they say wait at least a year before consulting a doctor?

So I waited. And waited. As people were announcing babies everywhere (or so it seems to the seemingly-infertile), I was being targeted with questions of when I was going to have babies. I even had someone, at a baby shower, ask me if I was pregnant, as I appeared to be due to my excessive weight gain.

I’m going to pause here and be real with you.

DO NOT ASK PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE BABIES. One in eight couples struggle with infertility. Whether it is a matter of waiting with procedures, poking and prodding, or there is nothing to be done but try and wait, or absolutely impossible beyond a miracle, it is a painful and invasive journey. It is 100% none of your business, no matter how curious you are or how close to a person you may feel. In a way, you are inquiring about a person’s sex life, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t appreciate it if we asked about yours.

I was asked dozens of times when I was going to have kids. I was even told by someone completely oblivious to my journey, “Would you try harder? Jeeze.”

Bottom line. Quit asking.

Not only did these comments create pain in my heart, despite trying to be strong, they also made me feel isolated. I began shutting everyone out because all people wanted to do was fix me or question me.

 

Two and a half years after our wedding, when not knowing was now scarier than knowing, we went to the doctor. Multiple times, of course. We were given our diagnosis. We took it like champs, walked out of the clinic, drove home in sheer silence, went to separate rooms, and then we lost it. I remember laying on the bathroom floor, crying so hard that my whole body trembled but no sound came out. I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was going to die from absolute sorrow.

Typing this memory now is even too much for me, so I’m going to move on.

For someone who has not experienced this, it’s hard to grasp the intensity of this loss. It is not something you can move past quickly just because there are other ways to have kids. It is a huge, unexpected loss that causes one to feel depressed, worthless, and alone. Even though it is 1 in 8 couples who struggle with infertility, the journey is lonely. Especially if you abandon Christ, which is exactly what I did.

How could a good God do this to a “good” person? Why the heck would He pick me? What was I being punished for? Would I really have been that bad of a mom? Was it the comment I made to my mom, when I was 13, about never wanting kids? I take it back! Please, God! I take it back!

My life became a boring, sad routine. Depression and a hatred for life set in. I worked 10 hour shifts, came home, ate pizza, party size bags of chips, candy, multiple cans of Diet Coke, and watched Netflix for hours. Day after day, this is what I did. I ended up gaining 100 pounds total.

Slowly, we quit going to church. I quit reading God’s Word and the only time I talked to Him was when I was screaming at Him about how awful He was. I began to abandon my morals and tried to “punish” God for hurting me like this. I guarantee that you would not have picked me out of a crowd and thought, “She’s a Christian.” I remember telling someone that I went to church and they said, “Seriously? And it didn’t burn down?”

That’s embarrassing to write. But it’s true. I hardened my heart so intensely against my Creator because I wasn’t getting my way.

My desire for children was not going away, so in June of 2016, without telling Drew, I decided to call a private foster care agency in Brainerd, MN to gather information. The director didn’t exactly give me information but instead scheduled an appointment to be at our house in two weeks.

Imagine how Drew must have felt to get a text at work, completely unexpected, that a foster care agency director would be at our house in two weeks to start the process of licensing. Hahaha!

(Drew, thank you for running with my crazy ideas. You are such a patient, selfless man!)

By December 1st, we were licensed and waiting for a placement. I expected it to be quick, due to the need, but the weeks turned into months and the months seemed to never end. We got a few calls, one about a little boy, but they didn’t want him being placed so far out of Brainerd. Another was for a sibling group of 4, which was an automatic no due to their needs and the fact that we agreed to one child, 4 years old or under. We received one more call for a sibling group of three, but they were significantly older than we had agreed on and a friend of mine, and fellow foster-to-adopt parent, had already said yes to them, which my director was unaware of.

So we waited. My heart hurt as we waited, as it felt like more disappointment was being heaped onto my life.

I remember seeing a picture of a sibling group of 5 kids from AdoptKansasKids posted on Facebook. They were so unbelievably cute and I, jokingly, texted Drew at work saying that we should call about them. Very surprisingly, he texted me back and said, “You know… Let’s do it! I feel peace about it!”

Uh, what?

He got home from work and we put together a bed and started assigning rooms, calling the kids by name.

Turns out those 5 kids got so much attention that they took their photos off their site that night and limited who could adopt them due to such an interest.

I texted my mom, devastated. I had thought for sure we were the only family crazy enough to take on five kids. I had already emailed our case manager to see how we could adopt out of state.

My mom texted back, “Maybe God used that to open your heart up to a sibling group rather than just one child.”

I laugh now.

During the wait, and continuous disappointments, I began to seek the Lord again. Relying on my own strength to get me through each day was becoming unbearable. The more I relied on the Lord, just a little bit at a time, the happier I began to feel. Instead of sitting in front of Netflix, I got myself to the gym every day and began eating healthier. I lost 60 pounds.

One evening, as Drew and I finally reached a financially secure point in our marriage, I said to him, “If we got a call tomorrow with a placement, I would be able to quit my job and stay home!”

The next morning, sure enough, we got our call. Four kids – a girl and three boys. Peace flooded us. We said yes.

From there, God provided one thing after the other. I did quit my job and got my dream of staying home. We were given a vehicle for free that would fit our entire family. We were given a bunk bed. We were given toys. We were given support and prayer.

Most people reading this know what happened after that. A (13), N (8), E (8), and R (3) entered our home and became a part of our family. The first three months were hard on all of us as we transitioned, but overall everyone did great.

We feel like a normal family five months later and we could not feel any more blessed. The Lord is continuing to move in our lives and continually drawing us closer to Him and revealing more of Himself to us.

Now that I’ve made it out of the depths of despair, and self pity, I see how the Lord was working through it all. Looking back, I can see Him every step of the way, even in the midst of blatant disobedience. He never abandoned me, as I tried to abandon Him. He stayed faithful and true, as He ever will.

I have learned that God did not do this to me. The fall of man brought sin into the world and the pain we suffer is a result of that. Our journey with infertility is part of the pain. It was not because I was going to be a bad mom and it wasn’t because of a silly comment I made when I was 13.

But I did realize that God did choose me. He chose me for this because He knew, through His strength, that I would make it through and come out stronger. He chose me to do His will, whether I was compliant or not. He chose me, out of anyone, to be the mom to these four beautiful children that didn’t ask for such unfair ramifications to other people’s faults. He chose to use me as a vessel for His glory. And I pray that He be glorified through all of this. Otherwise, it was for nothing.

One morning, as I set down my bible and Laura Story’s book, “When God Doesn’t Fix It”, I sat and sobbed. And I began to pray.

Want to know what I said?

“Thank you, Jesus, for choosing me.”

I never thought I’d be able to say those words.

I started a blog and didn’t select “private”…

You want to know what I just figured out?

I deeply, deeeeeeply care about what people think.

Like. A lot.

Too much.

Every choice I make, especially if it were to become public, I stress over and wonder what people would think of me. Do you know how many Facebook statuses I have written to only hit “discard” because I’m afraid that people may think I’m obsessed with Facebook and oversharing? I’m afraid people just don’t care and that they’ll think less of me because I wanted to share something on a social media site instead of keeping it in my close circle of family and friends. How stupid is that?

Did you know that I have made multiple 2018 New Years Resolutions and have kept them hidden under the table from everyone except Drew and my mom? Why, you ask? Because I’m afraid of what people will think. Will they think I’m cliche and just another resolution loser?

But what if I’m not another quitter? What if I actually succeeded?

What if 2018 was the year that I quit caring what the world thinks of me and only shape my choices and views upon what the Lord calls of me? What if I started stepping out boldly, in my faith, about my faith, and also in my life. About my dreams and passions.

I mean… So far I’ve:

  • Gotten married at 18. Wanna bet how many people thought I was crazy?
  • Bought a home at 21. Wanna bet how many people told me to keep renting? That I’m too young to settle down?
  • Decided to parent four kids at once. From none to four. I’m parenting a 13 year old at 23 years old. No one ever said it, but just imagine how many people thought I was crazy. Maybe you’re one of them.

Three huge, life changing moments of my life. Three huge moments of my life that I (and Drew) trusted the Lord in and took a leap of faith, not knowing what the future truly held. What if I did that more in the not-so-huge moments of life? I imagine I would feel a lot more passionate about life and that I was accomplishing more. That the not-so-huge moments actually meant something.

Oh hey. Wanna know one of my New Years resolutions?

Start a blog.

So here I am. First post written. Stressing over who is going to see it and what they’re going to think. Stressed that someone is going to think, “What a loser. Another person trying to get famous by having a blog. Get a grip.” Even writing that sentence right there made me feel completely uncomfortable.

But you know what? (I’ve said that a lot. Sorry.)

2018 is my year to be bold. Not in the feminist way of “I don’t care what anyone thinks! I’m gonna do me!” But in the “I’m ready to step out in faith and see how the Lord can use me” kind of way. And I pray He does. Here’s to 2018!

Gonna click publish because I might chicken out.

P.S. Not chickening out, but I wanted to add – I have no idea what this blog is about. I have no idea how often I’ll write. I certainly don’t intend on hundreds of people seeing it. But I now have a place to ramble when the Lord has placed something on my heart.

P.P.S Did you know I was so overcome by embarrassment about this idea that I didn’t even tell Drew about this blog..? Happy reading, Babe. 😉