By Emily Miller
You can either have a big sister who delights in bossing you around because she is, of course, older and therefore knows everything. Or you can have a little brother being a typical boy, loudly playing superhero rescue with his matchbox cars, Legos, and action figures while you are trying to read quietly.
Times like these, it can be all too easy to snap and lose our tempers with our siblings. When they do the same annoying things time after time, it can be hard to have patience with them.
Yet, we have to realize that our brothers and sisters are not perfect, are human, and make human mistakes. It is important to realize in this process that we are the same way. Our siblings most likely have a list of things that we do to annoy them, very similar to our own lists.
The next time you find yourself losing patience with your brother or sister, try this:
- The first thing to do is, pray and ask God for assistance. We will most certainly not get anywhere, with learning to have patience with our siblings, without asking God for help first and foremost.
- Next, take a deep breath and count to ten. When you are counting, think of some scripture verses about patience to help quiet your mind. The verse that follows is a great one to commit to memory.
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (NIV)
- If you find yourself really starting to get impatient, politely excuse yourself and go into another room for a few minutes to relax. This may be effective for both you and your sibling, if you both find that you are getting impatient with each other and need some time apart.
Learning to have patience is the first step to a successful 1 Corinthians 13 sibling challenge. All the other factors of love that are listed in the verse are dependent on us being patient. Learning to have patience can also be the first big step toward having a calmer household, which I am sure your moms will appreciate.
Photo Credit: Love Is Patient by LorinRae – Photobucket
By Kim Chaffin
Today, I want to take a look at the guidelines my husband and I set in place as we tried to find the right balance on the dating tight rope.
We feel the guidelines we set are extremely important. To have no guidelines, to not care how dating looks, or no set age when you think it is the right time to date, would be like saying to your kids: “I don’t care how fast you ride the motorcycle,” and: “it is your choice to wear the helmet or not.” That kind of attitude towards dating is setting your child up for hurt. On the flip side of that, I have watched a few families that have said no to dating, no to attending a dance, no to even going to a movie with a group of boys and girls; the outcome of that was not good either. The NO, NO, NO from the parents led to the SNEAK, SNEAK, SNEAK of the kids. I have witnessed more than one family lay down some of the tightest rules–as far as the opposite sex goes–and allow no dialog about it with their kids. Sadly, in some cases, it has led to everyone but the parents being aware that their child is being anything but pure. The kids have chosen the proverbial “back seat of the car,” while the parents have assumed their guidance of one big “NO” about the opposite sex is good enough.
My husband and I knew we needed to find the right balance to walk the dating tight rope in our home. Again, I want to stress that this is what worked for our family, it may not work for yours. Also, I cannot say that we did not have any near falls while walking this out. We saw that our kids were more likely to want to hang out at our home if we allowed them to have a relationship with healthy guidelines. When they hung out at our house, with us there, we got to be like the parents in the other room while the baby enjoys freedom in the crib–like I talked about in my first post. I guess you could say we found taking the middle ground between “no rules on dating,“ and “no dating at all,” to be where we landed.
The guidelines we set for our children when it came to dating, were like the pole that a tightrope walker uses for balance. If we let the guidelines lean too far one way or the other, it would be sure to knock our kids off the rope. The guidelines applied in all situations. We also were very clear on explaining the rules (guidelines) to any of our kid’s friends who came into our home. What we found was that kids like to know what the guidelines are, and they were happy not having to sneak around.
*If you want to hang out at our house with the opposite sex there must be a parent home. The same goes for you hanging out at their home.
*The bedrooms are off limits!
*If you are watching a movie, there is no reason to be in a completely dark room; have at least one light on.
*If you get cold, turn the fireplace on; if you want a blanket, we have plenty of them so you can each use your OWN.
*If you want to have a group of kids over for a pool party or movies, that is fine but we will be calling the parents to tell them that we are going to be here and they are welcome to come and hang out if they want. We had many nights enjoying a glass of wine and visiting with parents while the basement was full of kids watching a movie. We laughed as each parent randomly took a turn walking into the basement to make sure that no one was getting too comfortable. Not only our kids, but other kids asked us more than once to have more nights like that.
*If you are going out on a date, the only time you need to be hanging out alone in the car is while driving some place. If you have nothing to do but sit in the car alone, get to our house or call it a night!
*We are going to check with the parents of whatever house you are going to, and if you don’t like it you can stay home.
*Affection: We know you like each other. We know you want to hold hands, snuggle and kiss. We would much rather have you show affection in front of us, because the alternative is that you go somewhere alone to show affection and that can lead to things going too far. Please be comfortable in front of us. We were young once too, and we show our affection holding hands with a peck on the lips or cheek in front of you, because it is okay to have those feelings. But keep it at that. Don’t be alone, and do not take it farther than that simple affection. To let things go beyond that will leave you with the regret of having to tell your spouse some day.
*To our son: If you are going to date, you better respect the girl because she is Jesus’ princess; you better treat her in the same way you would want your sister treated. Also, you will not date a girl without speaking to her father first and looking him in the eye like a man. That goes for something as simple as asking a girl to a dance. You go to her father, or if she only has a mother then her mother first, before asking. We also like our son to be aware of just how much that father loves his daughter, and that he would not only answer to us, but he would answer to her father if he disrespected her. (Knowing that the father owned guns always added to helping get our point across and gave us something to laugh about behind closed doors).
*To our daughter: If you want to go to a dance with a boy, he will come and ask your father so that your father may have the joy of making him sweat and tremble in fear. If some boy wants to date you, he will look your father in the eye like a man when he asks. He will understand that you are to be treated with respect, period. We are letting him date Jesus’ princess, and if he thinks answering to your father and older brother is scary, then just think about trying to explain his intentions to Jesus. It also helped when the young man asking to date our daughter knew that we owned guns as well.
My husband and I felt it was our responsibility to help our children avoid the same mistakes we made. By setting these clear guidelines, we were taking our first steps to help our children walk the dating tightrope with more success than we had. All those guidelines set in place were good, but we also had to trust that we had given our children a firm foundation to stand on, and that they would have the strength to resist temptation. We pray that they will not make the same mistakes we made when we were young. As I said, our guidelines were like the pole the tightrope walker uses to stay on the rope, but remember even the best tightrope walker falls at times. We had to trust that when our kids were without us and out on a date, that if they did fall into temptation, God would catch them in His safety net.
With the guidelines in place, the next step across the tightrope was having some deep talks with our kids about our expectations for them. In my next post, I want to look at the importance of prayer and the different approaches we needed to take with our son, as opposed to our daughter. Please remember I do not have all the answers and every step across the dating tight rope has been a cautious step for us. I hope you are finding some answers to help cross the rope with your own kids. Have a blessed day, and I hope you will join me in my next post.
If you missed my first post in this series, you can back up and read it at “Taking the first step”
By Andrea Mitchell
During my pregnancy with our first daughter, I would daydream of what life was going to look like as a mom.
Our kids would be perfectly behaved. As siblings, they would never fight. As individuals they would be faithful to God, serving Him wholeheartedly. Oh, and my house would be picture perfect, with all the toys strategically put away to minimize clutter.
Then reality set in.
Actually, I am so glad it did. Because if life as a mother was as perfect as I once dreamed it would be, I would never have learned to trust in God.
We’ve recently been through the wringer with one of our children. This child is sensitive in spirit and has a loving, tender heart. But the idol of perfectionism has overwhelmed our preteen, manifesting itself in a disrespectful and angry attitude, affecting our entire household.
Several weeks ago I found myself in tears. This was not what I had signed up for; how were we going to get through this? Would it ever end?
Thankfully, as I cried out to God, He impressed on my heart what to do. And though we are still going through this struggle on a daily basis, I can tell you things are getting better.
Are you going through a difficult season with your child? You may find the following steps will help, if not the situation, at least your peace of mind.
First and foremost, we must pray. Pray for our child. Pray for ourselves. Too often we make prayer the last resort, but it should always be our first. Prayer is powerful and effective! Something we must always keep in mind as parents is that we have no control over our child’s heart – no matter what we do, we cannot change it. But God can. Pray His word over your child; the situation and your heart will be filled with peace knowing God is in control. And don’t be afraid to enlist other prayer warriors – confiding in a trusted friend or two can make a world of difference, even if it is just knowing that you are not alone in this battle.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NIV
While we’re praying, we need to ask for an attitude of forgiveness. Resist the temptation to hold on to your own hurt over the situation. Jesus tells us to forgive the one who has sinned against us seventy times seven. I usually lose count after about five times, but the point is to forgive as often as God has forgiven us. Again and again.
Focus on the positive
I know. It’s hard to focus on the positive when your energy is spent on the negative. I was so exhausted dealing with the disrespect and anger that I couldn’t see anything else. But as God’s peace began to fill my heart, I found it easier to seek out those positive qualities about my child I love so much. And that’s not just good for your heart – it’s good for your child’s as well.
As well, focus on who you are in Christ. You are His beloved. He knows how tired and discouraged you are. He will give you what you need to get through each day. As you trust in Him and keep your eyes fixed on Him, He’ll also fill you with joy, despite your circumstances.
Lastly, walk in victory, not defeat. After a particularly bad evening, the next morning found me slumped over, literally walking in a defeated posture. Suddenly I realized what I was doing and I reminded myself that God is fighting for me and for my preteen. The victory belongs to Him, even if I have yet to see it! Remembering this truth helped me straighten my posture, throw back my shoulders and smile because I know God cannot be defeated.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30, NIV
As moms we don’t need to be told to love our kids. But showing love is often difficult when you’re frustrated with certain behaviors. It is so important to demonstrate our unconditional love regularly, even when we don’t feel like it. Tell your child you love them every single day. Give them hugs. Leave little notes in their lunches or on their pillow. Start a journal to talk with them when words seem to fail the both of you. Love them like God loves us – not dependent on our performance, but just because we are His.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8, NIV
Like I said, things aren’t perfect in our home, but they are getting better. The disrespectful attitude rears its ugly head less, the willingness to listen is growing, and the peace in our home is spreading. Most of all, I can rest easy knowing that God is moving not just in our preteen’s heart, but my own as well. He is in control; He has a plan; and He will complete it.
It probably won’t look anything like those pregnant daydreams, but then again, His ways are so much better.
How can we pray for your family today?
Join us at Whatever Girls Live
By Cheri Gregory
Notes to Teenage Me (Part 1)
Notes to Teenage Me (Part 2)
Notes to Teenage Me (Part 3)
Notes to Teenage Me (Part 4)
Notes to Teenage Me (Part 5)
We leave for the coast and boat at 6:00 PM. I don’t have any close friends going, so it will be a real test of my ability to meet and relate to new people in a new situation.
It’ll be a challenge; I eagerly await it, though I wish I could somehow prepare for it!
To Teenage Me,
So what you’re saying is that you like your spontaneity carefully planned, is that it?
All kidding aside, what you’re also saying is that you prefer to approach people like projects. As if advance preparation will guarantee that the encounter goes well?
Relationships don’t work this way.
Kiddo, here’s the truth: your social skills are pretty awful. You’re Anxiety Girl and Awkward Gal all rolled up into one nervous ball of please-like-me energy.
And here’s another truth: God knows it and is going to use it in ways you can’t possibly imagine.
So chill out. Relax. Don’t try so hard. Have some fun. Lose the check-list mentality and try just being yourself in the moment.
You’ll find that’s when the best friendships are usually born.
Your Future Self
Another Friday evening, another hectic week gone by.
By Tuesday I was going crazy — Lisa almost bought me a cage this afternoon!
To Teenage Me,
Mercy, girl, spare me yet another list!
Do you realize how often you recite your latest list?
- To yourself, to try to calm yourself, which rarely works.
- To your teachers, to beg for extensions on deadlines, which works often enough that you keep doing it.
- To your friends, to get them to dive in and help you, which they often do.
Here’s a novel idea: What if you tried tossing your list? God keeps trying to get through to you, but until you’re a lot more “listless” (get it? list-less? as in…nevermind) you’re going to keep playing god in your life.
Two big problems with that:
1) You won’t like the results. Ever. No matter how long the list of things you get done.
2) You’ll totally miss what God’s offering, which is way better than all your lists combined.
Your Future Self
This weekend, I’m going through my room and clearing out everything that doesn’t need to be there.
Then, I’ll start to plan a new color scheme. I’d like to go aqua, but it depends.
But right now, I’m just going to worry about all the JUNK! I have a ton of stored stuff that I really do not need; it’s all gonna get sorted and most of it chucked!”
To Teenage Me,
Good luck with the new color scheme! You and your mom are going to have a doozey of a shopping trip to the bedspread store. Remember:
(a) She loves pink
(b) She’s where you got your stubborn streak
(c) Compromise is a beautiful thing.
As for the “junk” habit, you come by it honestly. Remember how crammed Grandma’s attic was with stuff she “might need some day”?
“Just in case…” feels like such a valid reason for hanging on. Until you have a garage and house stuffed with stuff.
Learn now to live light. To trust God to provide. That what’s worth keeping can’t be stored in a house but stays in your heart.
Your Future Self
- What would you like to say to my “Teenage Me”?
- What would you say to your “Teenage Me”?
- Post a diary excerpt that shares what’s on your teenage heart!
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By Erin Bishop
It’s the night before your 16th birthday and I want so badly for this letter to serve as a reminder of how much I love and adore you.
I wish I had a fairy tale beginning of a story to offer you, but I don’t. The truth is, and you already know this, is that our beginning was hard. But there’s a bigger part to our story-and that is what matters more than anything I could ever offer you.
Sixteen years ago right now I was in a delivery room at Sacred Heart Hospital. Grandma was in the room supporting me, and Grandpa was waiting in the waiting room. It was such a long day. I arrived at the hospital at 0600 for an induction. You were twelve days late. I was scared and had no idea what I was doing. When you finally arrived at 0248 at eight pounds and ten ounces and the doctor said “it’s a girl”, (I didn’t find out ahead of time) I was surprised and in such a state of shock that I was being handed a baby, but not just any baby, my baby. It was surreal.
I remember being wheeled down to our room and having a late night sandwich because I hadn’t eaten in over twenty-four hours and I was starving. I remember not being able to bite down-my jaw was out of alignment from clenching my teeth through all the pain. The nurse took you to the nursery after awhile and I fell asleep. They kept you in the nursery that night so I could sleep.
The next morning, I heard a baby crying and the sounds of something being wheeled down the hall. Instinctively I knew it was you. I had just met you the night before, but somehow your cry was engrained in me. That was my first experience with mother’s intuition.
We stayed at the hospital a few days and then went home and got settled into a routine. You were a good sleeper. I remember you only woke up once or twice during the night, and by the time you were about three weeks old you were sleeping for long stretches until four or five in the morning. I remember one of my biggest dilemmas was whether or not to change your diaper first or feed you first when you got up during the night. I was so concerned that you would be uncomfortable in a wet diaper while I was feeding you, but then I also knew that having just had a bottle you might wet again soon. You often fell asleep right after your bottle, so I didn’t want to wake you during a diaper change. Sleep was so precious for us both.
Because you were born in the spring we were able to take advantage of nice weather and we went on many walks in your stroller. The flowers were in bloom and I remember you seemed to like the feeling of the fresh spring breeze on your face. We spent many spring evenings enjoying the sun in Grandma and Grandpa’s back yard. Before too long it was time to take you up to the lake for your first time. You were about a month old and you loved it. How could you not? Priest Lake is part of who we are. You had such fun going on boat rides and playing in the lake and sitting on the deck at night watching the boats go by while listening to music.
I eventually had to find a job because sometimes things don’t go the way you plan and you have to do what you have to do to take care of things. It was so hard to leave you. The very first day of my job Great Grandpa and Great Grandma watched you. They had a wonderful time, especially Grandma. I eventually found more permanent childcare for you, but it never got easy leaving you in the morning. Most of the time you went about your business, but some days you cried and didn’t want me to leave you. Those moments were torture. I missed you so much during the day and couldn’t wait until I could go get you. At night we would play and read books. And regretfully, there were some days I was tired from work and life and checked out and missed out on time with you.
One day a special man came into our lives and he wanted to take care of us. He’s the only man you have called Daddy since you were two years old. He has loved and taken such good care of us. I remember when we had your baby brother, Luke. You were so excited to meet him and hold him. You were so devoted to helping us with him. You have always been such a wonderful big sister to him.
As the years have gone by we have had our ups and downs, but mostly ups. Most of my favorite memories involve you. You and I have so much in common. Many of the same mannerisms, the same dry, sarcastic sense of humor, the inside jokes and the things we both find funny. I love spending time with you more than just about anybody. You’re my daughter, my sidekick, my partner in crime, and one of my most favorite people in the world.
As your Mom, it has been hard to share some of the truths about our beginning, but I’ve always believed honesty is the best policy. Because of our beginning, I’ve felt especially protective of you. I never want you to think you were a mistake, unwanted or rejected. From the beginning of time God has had a special plan for you. Plans that only you, Grace Elizabeth, can accomplish.
As I said, there is a bigger part of our story, and it includes brokenness. And out of that brokenness is beauty. Beauty from ashes. People often wonder why God allows bad things to happen. I choose to believe that through my brokenness, He has been able to shine through and be glorified. If I hadn’t walked through certain valleys, I wouldn’t have you. I wouldn’t trade you for anything. I’d go through it all again and worse, just to have you in my life. The truth is, Grace, you saved my life.
Just over a week ago in the middle of the night I was admitted to the emergency room at Sacred Heart. I was hooked up to machines and was receiving antibiotics, saline and pain medication through an IV. The room was dim and you were sitting in a chair in the corner using my sweatshirt and one of the warm hospital blankets as a pillow for your head to rest on the counter. I put on a brave face for you, but as things unfolded I grew concerned about my prognosis. There was a real possibility that I was facing a life threatening illness and all I could do was wait. The thought of leaving you without a mommy was unbearable. I felt desperate to protect you.
While I waited I prayed. I asked God for another chance to do better. I want to be a better wife and mom, and to be more intentional with you and leave a better legacy for you and your brother. I wouldn’t hesitate to give my life for yours. But sitting in that hospital I realized just how important it is for me to live for you, too. I have wasted so much time and so much life. I want to live more in each day and make the most of the time I have left with you.
I can’t imagine life without you, Gracie. I am so very proud of the young woman you have become. One thing that has always stood out to me is how quick you are to forgive others-to extend grace, just like your name.
Always remember that I love you to the moon and back, infinity.
Happy birthday, Princess
PS: I made a slide show for you with some of my favorite pictures of you. Click HERE to watch.