Reminders to Myself, When Struggling

A friend who homeschools her  kids was sharing her struggles the other day.  I heard in her words such self-condemnation, such self-blame.

When I read it, it reminded me of the downward spiral of thoughts I’ve had at times. . .  “I’m a terrible mother… I’m a terrible wife… I’m a terrible Christian…” These thoughts take hold and have such sway over me, because they are key elements of my calling in life.  Feeling like a failure in areas that are so important to me go swirling in my head.

More often than not, when these feelings take hold in my heart, they have been amplified by hormones.  My post-partum depression felt like PMS on steroids.  Identifying that connection has helped me observe these thoughts and feelings for what they are — thoughts and feelings that are not the full sum of reality.

Do you ever feel that way?  Like the things you value most as a mother are the things you struggle in the most?

Remember, YOU are just the right mother for your children.  God has chosen YOUR children to be nurtured by you.  Regardless of what you are or aren’t doing, YOU are JUST the right mother for your children. THEY are the children God has given to you.

Your strengths and weaknesses are being used by God, in His sovereignty, as they grow in to the people God has created them to be.

I heard my friend share words of frustration — and wanting encouragement to really press in to the effort needed each day.

And I heard her say words  of condemnation — which is not what needs to be taking hold in our hearts.

In the context of struggling to do what we want to do, and the struggle not to sin, Romans 8 reminds me, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 ESV)

Jesus calls us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

And for me, with all the failures (and good things) through the years, I keep meditating upon the the comfort,

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV)

This is the encouragement I need to hear each day.

Please be gentle on yourself, as you accept God’s gentleness. . .


“It is surprising how seldom books on parenting talk about prayer. We instinctively believe that if we have the right biblical principles and apply them consistently, our kids will turn out right. But that didn’t work for God in the Garden of Eden. Perfect environment. Perfect relationships.

And still God’s two children went bad.
“Many parents, including myself, are initially confident we can change our child. We don’t surrender to our child’s will (which is good), but we try to dominate the child with our own (which is bad). Without realizing it, we become demanding….
“Until we become convinced we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously….”
Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life


When (Little) Kids Don’t Listen

Several friends recently linked to this helpful article, Six Ways You’re (Unintentionally) Telling Kids NOT to Listen.

It’s a good article written by a mom of four boys. Much of it is common sense — but isn’t that what we often need as moms? Reminders to do what we know we want to do with our children?

I found myself drawn to respond in the comments to one mother who asked, “So… what would you do if you say to your child, “You need to join us for dinner now” or “Please pick up your shoes” or “Please come down from the playground now. It’s time to go home” or “You need to climb into your car seats so we can buckle up” and your child doesn’t do as asked/told? That is often the case with my kids.”

Here are some of the tools I’ve used with my five boys. Of course it depends on the child, the situation, and the personality. . . but in general these strategies work for me.

1. For a 2 or 3 year old. “You need to get in your carseat.” (No response from child.) “Do you need me to help you or can you do it yourself?” (For a 2 and 3 year old, this harnesses the strong “I’ll do it mySELF!” drive that they have! Usually my kids do it themselves at this point.) If my child still doesn’t get in the carseat, I say, “Here, let me help you,” pick them up, and help them. Really, my attitude at this point needs to be HELPING, not “punishing” them by forcing them. Keeping my attitude helpful rubs off on the child, and they seem to cooperate and accept my help.

2. Similar to the commenter Jon said, but a little different. . . I often link the action that needs to be done with the following action. I find that my younger kids don’t respond well to an “If you don’t do X, then we can’t do Y” sort of statement. What works better for us is a “When. . . then. . .” statement. It is subtly different, but for us, gains more cooperation. Using Jon’s example, I would phrase it, “When the toys are picked up, then we can read our story together.” To be honest, the “When… then…” works well with my teenagers, too. “When you are finished unloading and loading the dishwasher, then you can go play your guitar. . .”

3. Even smart kids, even kids who are very verbal, are STILL very physical when they are little. I find that when I help them physically start something, then they are able to “hear” what I said earlier and start complying. Like with the toys before book time, I might say, “When the toys are picked up, then we can read our story together.” And then, I’ll start picking up the toys, or putting the basket the blocks go in near my child, or other things that physically help him start the task.

4. Hug&Pray. . . when my kids (especially toddlers or preschoolers, but also older kids) are not complying or start having a meltdown, I like to pull them onto my lap and hug them. The hug helps calm me and calm them. It gives us a moment to reconnect and have that physical affection that helps put the big emotions into context. And I pray for wisdom. . . sometimes silently, sometimes out loud with them, so they see that I am not perfect but want to do the best thing. We both calm down usually, and then can address whatever situation brought up all the big feelings or disobedience.

Hope this helps with some practical ideas for when kids aren’t responding to your directions!

Look What Came in the Mail!


TulipGirl Joy of Relationship Homeschooling

The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling” by Karen Campbell!

For years I’ve gotten my mommy-encouragement from Karen, who blogs at Thatmom.Com. The “ThatMom” podcasts are great for when I’m doing dishes and folding clothes. I appreciate her emphasis on “one-anothering” in our families.

I have been reading through on my kindle… slowly… But wanted the paperback copy to lend out. Plus, some books are just better when holding them in your hands. I’ll have a review up. . . eventually.

(Ooooh! Looks like Anne received her copy, too!)