When Mom messes up

Cade was biting his lip and wincing his eyes as he walked out of practice and stumbled toward me.  My heart often melts as his smiling face approaches the van, but there was no smile this afternoon.  With a look of discomfort he asked, “Mom, can I get a new pair of shoes?  My toes are bleeding again.”

Again? I was clueless my 15 year old had outgrown his soccer shoes for the 2nd time this season. He pulled off his shoes and exposed the bloody sock.  What kind of a Mom have I become?  I am always on top of these things; keeping my kids from wearing high-waters when they grow out of their pants and pressing my thumb at the tip of their shoes to check for perfect fit.

“I let my son down,” I thought.

I questioned myself as we drove to the sports store to purchase new shoes.  My oldest son loves to do whatever his brother is doing, so he too, wanted to try on shoes.  We noticed A.J. has been limping lately.  We inspected the bottom of his feet for splinters or other offenders, and could not figure out was going on.  When he stepped on the foot pad to measure his feet, the problem was evident.  He too, had outgrown his shoes and was limping around with scrunched toes.

How could I have neglected such basic needs of my boys?  I felt a little sick inside.

When I was a new Mama I imagined my husband being the one who would blunder with our kids.  I worried he would carry the baby seat out to the car, load up his briefcase, hop in the driver’s seat and speed away; absentmindedly leaving the baby on the curb.  I recited safety concerns when he rough-housed and reminded him of everything he needed to be aware of when I left him alone with the little ones.

But, the not-so- funny thing is, the blunders occurred on my watch.  I am the one who dropped a 1-pound can of kidney beans on our toddler’s head. I cried and stewed even though I knew he was alright.  After fretting for hours, I finally called the pediatrician in the middle of the night to explain the bean accident and tell him I feared I had damaged my son’s brain.  He told me to go to sleep.

“Give it a rest,” was the message I began to consider.  Being a faulty parent is inevitable.  Try as I might to be on top of every detail in my parenting, I’m going to mess up and make some blunders. 

We completed our shoe selections and walked to the cashier to make the purchase. My head hung a little low, but I resisted the urge to call myself any names like “Dingbat!” or “Bad Mom”.  I put my arm around my teenagers and squeezed them in to kiss their heads, “I’m so sorry I didn’t know you grew out of your shoes, son.  We want to take care of these things for you.”  They both leaned in.  “Next time you feel your feet do not fit your shoes, please speak up.”  (After all, one of them is capable enough to share the responsibility.)

Are you a mom who messes up?  With every blunder learn to give yourself a measure of grace, ask for forgiveness if needed and learn a little something from the circumstances. And if by chance you’ve been a little harder on that husband of yours, he will be grateful if you pass some grace and praise along to him, as well.

The words of a song written by the late Keith Green encourage me today:

 “Keep doing your best, and pray that it’s blessed.  Jesus takes care of the rest.  Yes, the Lord says that He’ll take care of the rest!”



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Every little girl needs her daddy’s love

This is a post by guest author, Christie Lee Rayburn.

She twirls like a ballerina in her new holiday dress and shiny shoes, “Daddy, don’t I look pretty?”

She jumps into his arms of safety after he encourages, “Come on sweetheart – you can do it – daddy will catch you!”

She loves holding her father’s big, strong hand as they walk places and she adores hearing his voice call her his “little princess”.

“She” is every little girl – yearning for her daddy’s love as she grows up.

The power of his attention

Not only would I testify to this in my personal life as a daughter, but I have had a front row seat observing the relationship between our only daughter and her daddy. I’ve been taken aback as I watch the yearning in my daughter’s eyes for her daddy’s belief in her capability. I see the incredible difference her father’s reactions make in her perception of her talents or skills. His words determine the outcome of her self-assurance and potential. One encouraging word literally boosts her confidence to dream and take risks, while one critical word can send her straight to the land of insecurity and doubt.

Fathers affirm competence and set the path for a woman to believe “I don’t have to prove myself. I can do anything.”

It’s amazing how my husband has become her personal mirror to our girl. The truth is that so much of her self-image is reflected in the way her father sees her, the way he interacts with her, and the way he talks about her to others. When he compliments her and assures her of her beauty, she feels like the most lovely young lady in the land. However, a simple throw-away comment or too much teasing can confirm her inner thoughts of ugliness; ugliness that no amount of make-up can cover. Most dads don’t realize the power they hold in establishing their daughter’s self-worth.

Fathers set the stage for future relationships

Fathers are very important role models for their daughters, especially in the puberty and teen years. A father is the first male that a girl comes to intimately know. He sets the stage for his daughter’s future interpersonal interactions; especially with men.

Just the other day our daughter declared to her dad “you ruined me!”

My husband reacted, “What? That sounds horrible! What on earth do you mean that I ruined you?” She went on to explain when it came to dating and marriage, he set the character bar very high. She admires that her dad loves God so openly and has such a giving heart. She respects that he is a strong man with a tender heart. But, mostly, she never doubts that he loves his wife completely, creatively, and faithfully. She has watched it all firsthand. How could she settle for anything less in a young man?

So, from a mother’s perspective, let me encourage every daddy out there to invest big in his little girl’s life.

Be deliberate dads

Support your daughters interests and ask questions about what she is involved in. Build her up every chance you get. Be there for her games or performances. There is no substitute for your presence.

Compliment your girl. Hug her. Tell her how much you love her and how beautiful she is a million times while she grows up. Realize the powerful mirror you are in her life.

Go ahead and “ruin her” and set the bar high by the way you treat your wife. Make your daughter feel like you want to be close to her. Take her on a date. Show her how she should be treated.

Dads, no one replaces the unique spot you hold in your daughter’s heart.

Every little girl and every big girl wants her daddy’s love.
Share with us how your dad made you feel loved or how your husband shows special love to your daughter.

P.S. – Send this to a dad of a daughter.

Mirror Mirror: Confetti Café.

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I said I’d never do that

Ever since our first strolls around the neighborhood, I would observe a little yellow school bus pulling up to the same house, picking up a boy with special needs for his school day.  I formed many opinions about this, and made a silent promise to my own baby with special needs, “Never will a little yellow bus come to our home”.  I clung to this “Never” promise over the years, for reasons I may get into another day.

One day I spouted off some other deep conviction, a “Never” to a friend.  She kindly reminded me, “Bonnie, you always said you’d never wear stretch pants, and you’re wearing them today.”   I was a little bewildered by my inconsistency, but continued on through the years with my declarations of “Never”.

My latest, “My kids are never going to that rich hoity- toity high school”.  Countless friends and family members have heard me repeat this over time.  But every day I creep among the new sports cars and pristine SUV’s with our 8-year-old van in the school traffic.

I stop in front of the hoity- toity high school and my son leans over the seat for his blessing, hug and prayer. It turns out; there are great opportunities for him there.  He is happy, challenged, and making great choices as a freshman.

I have been pondering my “Nevers”.  Have they been spoken in pride or even fear?  Have I been making projections into a future I know little about?

Little did I know about the benefits of a little yellow school bus which now comes to our home.  Our son enjoys the independence, the soothing movement of the bus, the shared experience with his friends.  He runs to his seat each morning with a wonderful anticipation.  I give him a hug and a prayer, and with a grateful heart, I wave goodbye.

I am discovering God has blessings waiting for me when I release my “Nevers”.   My presumptions, my lack of trust, my inhibitions stamp a large Never – period.  Now I am allowing God to replace commas for my hasty periods and I am embracing the process with a grateful heart.

 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

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Love is calling out my name

The song told a beautiful story, a boy walking past his Mom’s bedroom every morning, and catching a glimpse of her through the crack in the door, bowing on her knees.  He knew she was praying for him and he sang, ”Love is calling out my name”.  Through the rocky moments of his life the Spirit of God forever whispered in his heart and he knew, love was calling out his name.

There are moments in my life I know love is calling out my name.  This love, is the love of God that will not let me go.  His love stirs my heart to listen, line up with His will, serve Him.  His love keeps calling my name.

I was on my first mission trip with a singing group in my early 20’s.  We traveled throughout the U.S. and Iron Curtain countries.  Generous people opened their homes to us along the way, and sometimes I was able to stay in a friend’s home.  One night I stayed with my wonderful friend from college.

Not wishing to disturb her at the crack of dawn, I stepped into another room to get ready.  I assumed the room was empty, but  there in the darkness, on his knees, was my girlfriend’s dad.  He was deep in prayer and did not give notice to my entrance.  Quickly, I backed out of the room with my heart pounding.  Personally, I had never witnessed such a thing: an aging man on his knees, intense in his conversation with God, disciplined to awake before the hustle of the day in order to meet with his Lord.

As I was leaving their home, I told me girlfriend what I witnessed.  She told me he has been on his knees every morning of her life.  She lives the fruit of her father’s dedication; a beautiful, confident, healthy, Jesus loving woman.

Oh, the humility of a man who recognizes his daily need for His Father God.  Oh, the great love of a father who prays for his children’s lives every day.  His faithful image remains etched in my mind.

Walking the brick streets of Prague, I had the privilege of partnering with a woman a couple of generations older than me.  We were meeting Czech students and sharing Jesus with them.  We prayed as we walked, asking the Lord to bring open hearts our way.  Countless times students prayed asking Jesus to be their Saviour and Lord.  With a bounce of joy in her voice, my partner would tell me, “We just entered into the prayers of their loved ones”.

Consistently, these students told us their mother or colleagues were telling them about Jesus. It became a life lesson to me.   Now when I pray for the salvation and spiritual growth of others, I pray the Spirit will guide colleagues and friends into their lives who love Jesus.  I am confident they become the ones entering into my prayers as my love and the love of God calls each of them individually.

We said our goodbyes to my husband’s dear Mother a few years ago.  She was a great homemaker, generous giver, dedicated wife, mother and grandmother.  Most of all, she was a lover of God who spent much time praying for the people in her life.  I knew when she went to be with the Lord, we lost a mighty prayer warrior. I know her prayers are still bearing fruit because the Spirit is always at work, faithful to accomplish what concerns us.

Thanks to the modeling of godly men and women like her, my husband and I call out the names of our children.   Each morning I pray over them, each evening their dad prays with them.  Throughout the day, we pray for the details of their lives.  We pray our children will love and desire God, honor Him in their friendships and work, and grow deeply in their character.  Trusting wherever they go and throughout their lives, the love of the Father will continue to personally call them to Himself.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  I Jhn 4:10

If you would like to read more about the love of God and the Holy Spirit’s work in your life, you will enjoy the book of I John.

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I’m Letting My Kid Struggle

Recently a pivotal sport season came to an end for my high school son.  He shared a coveted position with another boy who boasted he will always have a place on this team because he and his dad know all the important people who make team decisions.  Politics, parents and sports, it gets ugly. But it doesn’t only occur in sports.  Allowing our kids to rise and fall on their own merit is something parents are not very good at in this culture.

Our latest struggle involves our 7th grader who is not a detail oriented student.  He works tirelessly on his homework, racking his brain to comprehend literature, and carefully working on his shaky handwriting skills.  With all the time and effort he pours into his homework, he often overlooks the finer details of the assignments.  This does not go over well with some of his teachers who hold high expectations to follow every detail. Sometimes I think their expectations are tedious and the grading system serves only to be a kick in the teeth for a hard-working kid like mine.

So, what is a parent to do?  I could complain to the teacher, or better yet, the principal.  I could demand that they be easier on my kid.  Or I could let my son struggle and figure it out.

I’ve decided to let him struggle.  Anxiety provoking, I know.  But I’m holding to the belief that struggling through a difficult situation, facing failure and discomfort, will actually serve him well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not leaving him hanging out there alone.  I’m trying to equip him with new study skills, working on ways to pay attention to details, and teaching him to listen closely to his teacher’s instructions.  If I were to do more, I would be robbing him of learning how to cope with life’s demands. He is learning to take responsibility for his own work and deal with the expectations of his teachers.

The fact of the matter is, I want our kids to have teachers and coaches who expect great things from them.  Kids need a standard to live up to, learning how to work through hurdles and reach goals they never thought they could.  I don’t want to interfere with a teacher’s vision to create such greatness in my kid!

I’m not saying it’s an easy choice, and I know it’s not the popular choice, but I trust it’s one of the best things I can do.

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When Mom’s Feelings are Hurt

My teenage son was stepping over the line in his behavior choices one evening.  In a quiet moment I asked him some questions of the heart.  He was not impressed.  He told me, “Mom, your psychology doesn’t work for me anymore”.   “As a matter of fact,” he added, “you went to school in 1990 and your education is old”.

How does a middle-aged mom reply to those comments?  I wallowed in my choices.  I thought about lecturing him, I thought about an intelligent come-back, and I thought about climbing under my covers and crying.  Admittedly, it took me about an hour to work through my response; wrestling with my thoughts and praying for God’s direction.

As our kids grow toward adulthood they struggle for autonomy; they need to decide what they believe and who they will be, independent of their parents.  They may even discover that their parents are not perfect.  We risk alienating our youth when we respond to them with hurt feelings.

Unhealthy responses to your hurt feelings

Manipulation.  Some of us are masters of manipulation.  We can guilt our kids in an effort to control them.   Maybe you can manipulate them now, but the relationship will deteriorate in the years to come.  Your efforts will squelch their individuality and they will be resentful when they are able to recognize it.

Withdrawal.  Emotional events like the one my son and I encountered may tempt a parent to pull away from their child with hurt and angry feelings.  When we choose to withdraw, we invite the danger of habitually responding this way during their struggle for independence.

Our behavior leaves our youth to struggle through the rest of their teen years without healthy parental input.

Insecurity.   The youthful words of our loved ones can cut to the core of our identity.  If we allow the snippy comments to define us, we run the risk of becoming parental weaklings.  We will make decisions from our insecurity rather than from a healthy perspective.

Healthy responses to your hurt feelings

Talk about it with your youth.  Sometimes it is okay to tell your kid, “My feelings were hurt by your choice of words”.  Youth need the freedom to respond to your directives as long as it is done respectfully.  Learning their words can hurt or tear down a relationship is a valuable lesson.  You have the opportunity to promote a healthy dialogue when this happens.

Learn when to let it go.  An adolescent is not equipped to manage and process his mom’s feelings every time she feels hurt.

It is up to us adults to struggle through our own feelings. We need to choose to let them go.  We must recognize our youth are developing and testing their way to independence.  Remember who the adult is in the relationship.

Talk about it with emotionally healthy adults.   Process your feelings with your spouse or your girlfriends.  Chances are high that you are not the only parent dealing with hurt feelings.  Don’t wait until you perceive a big problem; begin a dialogue with others who want to make emotionally healthy choices.  Together you will encourage one another in your parenting.

Develop a healthy identity.  We mom’s have the tendency to lose ourselves in our children.  When we lose our  sense of self, we create unhealthy relationships with our children.

Learn to strike a balance between being a great spouse, an attentive loving mom, and your own person.  You can do it!  Being at peace with the struggle to obtain the balance will guarantee your continued personal growth.

Take it a step further.  Talk with a pastoral or licensed counselor if you are unable to work through your feelings and responses to your children.  Your family health is worth the effort of seeking personal support.

Let’s grow through this together.  We’ll keep loving on our family, and become healthier women in the process.

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On My Nightstand: March 2011

lady with books

  1. Forgotten God, Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, by Francis Chan, David  Cook Publishing.   Hooray for Francis Chan!  His heart is sold out to Jesus.  Says Chan, “The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do.  The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and this is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be.  The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be”.  I am using touch points of this book for discussion in our Woman Gone Wise Bible Study.
  2. Embracing Your Second Calling, by Dale Hanson Bourke, Thomas Nelson Publishing.  I recently picked up this book because I want to live passionately the second half of my life.  I’m gathering different insights to ponder.
  3. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School,  by John Medina, Pear Press.  My family is intrigued with the brain.  I’ll let you know about this later.
  4. Boys:  Shaping Ordinary Boys into Extraordinary Men, by William Beausay II, Nelson Publishers.  I love this book!  I carry it everywhere and read snippets at a time.  I pass along a paragraph or a great idea to my hubby.  He has his own long reading list, and this way I’m not asking him to add to his pile.  It’s a good way to encourage Team Parenting!
  5. 1,000 Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, by Ellen Notbolm and Veronica Zysk, Future Horizons Publishing.  Our oldest son has Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  What parent of a special needs child couldn’t use more ideas for daily success?!
  6. My Bible.  There’s one of these on the fireplace mantle, in the van, in my purse and on my nightstand.
  7. Cooking Magazines.  Because I can never get enough.

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Don’t Try to Force Growth-Stimulate It!


Parents, we can nag and remind our kids to death.  Because we desire and sometimes panic about our child’s spiritual and emotional growth, we may have the tendency to talk too much in hopes our words will change them.  Our kids in turn will get irritated and eventually turn us off.  So why not stimulate them to growth?  Stimulate ideas for godliness and greatness to come from within them-with your skilled guidance, of course!

This week’s idea:  Give your kids a dry erase marker.  Encourage them to come up with a personal goal for the week.  Then they get to write their goal across the bathroom or bedroom mirror.  What fun to have permission to write on the mirror! (It comes right off, by the way).  This means they get to see it every day, and be stimulated by their own words.

Helpful Hints to begin Stimulating Change

  • Have a casual conversation about your first goal making and how it has helped you.
  • In His youth, Jesus grew in all four areas of life: stature, knowledge, favor with God and man.  Your child can choose any of these areas to make a goal:  physical academic, spiritual, social.
  • Encourage your child to make the goal small and reachable for one week at a time.
  • Resist the desire to give them the goal!  Let them take full ownership of it.  They may need only vague ideas from you to get started.
  • Celebrate when the goal is reached,  then make a new one!

Here are some goals and personal successes my boys have enjoyed since we began stimulating their growth:  work out 3 times a week, become the best soccer player I can be, stop biting my nails, don’t watch television and computer for a week.  These have been great points of growth for our kids, and I am so thrilled to see some maturity happening from within.


hands in air

10 long fingernails bring personal success!

Can I tell you how huge it is that our 12 year old who has been biting his nails his entire life (I had not cut his nails since he was two!), is now growing his nails?  We have cut them a glorious 3 times since he decided to accomplish this on his own!!

soccer goal

Cade's personal goal paid off when he made goalie for his school

I look forward to hearing about the great strides your beloved children will make as they learn to take responsibility for their own growth and enrichment!  Please let me know how it is going…

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