By Ginger Ciminello
How do I make a decision when it looks like both decisions are good options? I’m weighing both choices and I don’t think either of them are a “bad” or “disobedient” way to go. I’m trying to listen, but what if I don’t feel like I hear God? –J
Dear J- thanks for taking the time to send in your question! I am smiling just thinking about how much I identify with you. I don’t like choosing when I don’t feel confident. I’m the person that doesn’t even like picking the restaurant. My husband will quickly tell you that he tires of hearing me respond, “Wherever you want to go is fine with me.” I’m not indecisive; I just don’t want to make the WRONG choice. I want everyone to be happy, and that includes my Heavenly Father.
So what happens when the choices become weightier than picking Italian food? Think about the importance of the questions listed below.
What do I do with my summers?
How do I pick a school?
What should I major in?
What do I do with THE REST OF MY LIFE?
Should I move or stay?
Is this guy THE guy?
Do I stay in this job or look for another one?
Should I buy this house?
Each of these moments held (at least for me) a healthy dose of trepidation and a desire to know God’s Will. I was desperate to know EXACTLY what He wanted me to do. I want to get it right.
My senior year of college I was tied up in worry knots. I kept asking that God would show me exactly what to do after graduation. I felt like I had endless options, but I only wanted one… His best. So I made a plan. I wasn’t hearing God audibly, so I decided to take a lesson from Elijah. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah expects to find God in the storm, in the fire, and in the earthquake. Instead, God reveals Himself in a gentle whisper.
I wanted to hear that whisper so I did the only thing I knew to do. I quieted myself. I tried driving my car out into the middle of a field, opening the sunroof and gazing at the stars. I only heard the crickets and the sound of distant cars rumbling by on the highway. I tried going in my closet, opening my Bible, closing my eyes and pointing at random verses, but I didn’t really get an answer.
I even went to the building known as “The Quiet Place” on campus and locked myself in a room. I lay on the floor and tried to even quiet my breathing… but I only heard students working on a group project. I felt desperate. I had tears rolling down my face as I begged, “GOD, JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”
I finally went and made an appointment with one of my favorite professors. Through tears I explained to her my deep desire to know Gods will for my future. I listed all the reasons why He should tell me exactly which job to take: I could obey Him quickly, I could stop worrying about this, I could spend more time praying about other things, etc. When I finally stopped talking she met my gaze and asked “But what takes more faith – an arrow that says “go right here” or taking steps each day to draw closer to Him? Your desire is to honor God with your heart, gifts, and talents. Where can you possibly end up in this world and not be able to do that?”
My tears stopped and my head cleared. Hebrews 11:1 became my mantra each day. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Is God able to tell us exactly where and when to go? Absolutely! He does this countless times in Scripture and even does so audibly. But does that mean He will speak to each of us that way in every situation? Probably not.
If your heart is attune to Your Father and His given commands in the Bible, then step forward in faith even when you can’t see or hear his answer. You have the Holy Spirit inside of you and His Word to guide you: make a decision and go.
Praying you would have the faith to go in confidence!
P.S. Check out the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14:1-23.
By Dr. Joneal Kirby
What is “gentleparenting”? I really didn’t know. But, even as old as I am, I’m always willing to learn something that may help my family.
They say, you’ll know it when you see it. I saw “gentleparenting” in person. Heard it really. Or didn’t. Because when the mama spoke to one of her four little ones, her voice was so soft and so kind it was difficult for anyone else to hear what she was saying. She definitely was instructing them. It was definitely not a whisper. Not that soft. Just very kind. And calm. And guess what? The children talked back to her in the same manner.
I’m not sure how this mom, whom I have known since she herself was a baby, adapted this style of parenting. How she decided this would be good stuff for her family. But I do know it looked to be just about perfect.
I sat with her and her four children (all under six) and two other adults. In a restaurant. For almost two hours. Not one child ever whined. (Did I mention her youngest is 8 months old?) Not one child ever got up and ran around – or even walked around – except for a few steps from their seat to a sibling’s (did I mention two of them were boys?). Not one even tried to become the center of attention (did I mention one was a pretty, precious little girl in a ballet costume?)
I do not know how she did that. I do not know exactly what she had to do to get her four all-under-six-year-old kids to behave so beautifully. But I do know this.
It did not just happen. That behavior had been practiced before our lunch date.
As a parenting educator, I know what it takes to manage children, to teach them and train them and basically to socialize babies and pre-schoolers. This gentle mama had taught her children (at some other time) how to sit still, to not demand attention, not to fuss, not to fight, not to get up out of their chairs, not to whine.
I suspect this home-schooling mom who spends a unique amount of time with her three beautiful sons and daughter had spoken firmly but kindly, caringly, and gently to them at home with them so many times that being in a very public setting was just the place to show up all that home preparation and training to work. It they had been on a stage, I would have applauded.
One of the nicest parts of observing this training style: I saw how gentle parenting produced gentle children. That was excellent parenting.
We never stop being a Mom. Our job goes on as long as we’re in this world. There is always, always something to learn.
By Kim Chaffin
I am sure you have heard the expression, “count your blessings”.
In our deepest pain, our blessings may be hard to find because it is difficult to see past our present circumstances. When we choose to walk with God, there is no guarantee that there won’t be struggles. By acknowledging our blessings and worshiping God in the storm, we not only honor Him, but it opens heaven’s floodgates of strength and comfort to carry us through whatever we are facing. When we feel like we have nothing in us, those are the times we need to praise Him all the more.
About five years ago, we walked through a very painful time when our daughter was harmed in an act of violence. More than once, I thanked God that there were only 24 hours in a day because with each new morning His mercies were new. At one point during that hard time my friend took my hands and raised them to the Lord and said, “Thank God for the blessings you can see”. At first I looked at her like she was crazy and I thought how can there be anything to be thankful for in this nightmare.
As I sat on the floor with tears streaming down my cheeks, my friend held my hands up to the Lord, and I said, “Thank you, Lord, they did not kill my daughter”. In that moment I felt a sense of joy during the most painful time of my life. My daughter was alive! I had missed that in my pain. With my hands still held up by my friend, I began to thank God for the blessings I had not noticed in my pain.
Suddenly I realized she had let go of my hands and I was holding them up on my own. I was still hurt by what had happened and worried sick about what lay ahead of us. Would my daughter be able to move past her pain? One thing was for sure; I had found a new strength from God. For the first time in over a month, I was able to sleep through the night. The next day I added a night of sleep to my list of blessings.
In September 2015 while thanking God for a new blessing in my life, I got the idea of making a blessing box for my husband and myself. It sits in the area where we spend time in study and prayer. On the days that are hard and we struggle to find the words to pray, we can dump out the blessings in the box and then read them one at a time. It is very powerful. I can start on empty and when I am done reading them, I am running on a full tank of joy.
A blessing box is a great activity for your family. The Whatever Girls mission is to develop strong mother-daughter relationships and find ways to spend time with our teenage daughters. So how about making a coffee and craft store date with your daughter? Get some fun things to decorate the blessing box and include the whole family in the decorating. Setting aside time each week to share your blessings with each other and adding them to your blessing box is a simple way to acknowledge what the Lord is doing in your family.
Every couple of months dump the box out and take turns reading the blessings. No matter how old your children are, they can all take part in this. Teaching your children to count their blessings and give thanks, helps build their faith so that when the storms come, they will remember to look beyond their circumstances and see the goodness there is in the Lord.
By Erin Bishop
As a young mom, I had a lot of anger piled up inside me. So consumed by my anger, I often used my young daughter as a verbal punching bag. My anger triggers normally showed up in the morning when I was getting myself ready for work, and her ready for daycare and eventually, school. I behaved like a drill sergeant, barking out orders and expecting perfection that even the best soldier would fall short of. Day after day, my angry demands would bring tears to my little girl’s eyes and crush her spirit in the process.
This was a picture of my parenting years ago, before Jesus transformed my heart and my life. Oh how I long to go back in time and hug the little girl tight and erase all the unkind words and unrealistic demands I made. But I can’t. Fortunately, my season of anger is overshadowed by God’s grace, and we have had thousands of good mornings to make up for the hundreds of bad mornings. But I still cry when I think about those mad mornings.
I realize now I was operating out of an empty tank. I had nothing filling my heart and I was living off the fumes of my anger. Until Jesus transformed my heart, anger was the overflow from which I parented.
Can you relate to this first picture of motherhood? I want to tell you about a brand new book called “Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses” by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. In “Triggers”, Amber and Wendy address a myriad of triggers while encouraging and equipping parents to respond to those triggers Biblically and with gentleness, instead of explosive and spirit crushing responses.
“Triggers” releases TODAY! Click HERE to order your paperback copy, HERE for the Kindle version, and HERE for the PDF version.
By Brenda Yoder
“I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel. I am to be their possession.” Ezekiel 44:28
This verse has solidified my resolve of raising godly teens in today’s culture. Leaving God as your daughter’s inheritance is the only thing that’s really important.
How do you leave God as an inheritance to your daughter? Here are five truths about living an authentic faith in today’s culture.
- Your daughter absorbs your priorities. You can teach your daughter a lot of things, but she’ll pick up what’s lived out in front of her. How you live, respond, and your belief system is absorbed by your kids. Your daughter knows whether God is personal to you, or just a Sunday priority. She watches you when no one else is looking.
- *Praying for your daughter is crucial. It’s tempting use prayer as an emergency intervention rather than the go-to for parenting. When you’re desperate for real answers to your daughter’s problems, prayer seems more lofty than practical. How can God help you with her friendship crisis, or the fact that she’s cutting?
The first step is praying about the situation and asking for His perspective. He answers every time.
What does this look like? It’s when the Holy Spirit brings a different perspective to the situation than what you see. He gives you different solutions when you’ve run out of options, or when your emotions, insecurities, and fears drive you to respond in the flesh.
- *Praying with your daughter is important. When you pray with your daughter about struggles in her life, it gives her strength. It models intimacy, expectancy, and dependency of a relationship with the Living God. Praying with your daughter about small and significant things in her life teaches her an interdependence on God for daily matters.
- Compromising is dangerous. You’re the gatekeeper for your daughter’s soul when she’s in your home. Compromising on God’s principles is tempting. You have to be in God’s word, seeking Him and His perspective to distinguish what He’s saying about moral and non-moral issues. What might seem fine for one girl may not be good for your daughter. Or you. God has perspective about each deceptive priority bombarding your daughter.
- Praising God personalizes your daughter’s faith. When you praise God for the work He’s doing in your daughter’s life and yours, faith becomes real both to you and her.
James 1:17 says,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Acknowledge big and small things happen which happen in your or your daughter’s day. Discuss how God worked. Give thanks, even if it’s in the car or at an awkward time. Walking with an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ means your daily life is a conversation with Him. It also gives rightful praise and honor to Him that your daughter tangibly see.
Jesus is personal when He’s personally engaged in your life.
He’ll be personal to your daughter when her witness of Him is as common as other priorities in your home. When Jesus is first priority, it’ll impact her in ways unimaginable.
How can you start prioritizing Him today?
*Have you heard about #WhenMomsPray, our daily prayer challenge for mothers of daughters? We would LOVE to have you join us. Click HERE for more information and to join us.