Written by: Erin Bishop
Tonight while running errands I received a startling text from my daughter:
“Someone I went to school with just killed himself.”
I called her right away. Her voice said it all. Shock. Confusion. Grief.
“Who was it?” I asked. She told me his name. It sounded familiar.
“Was he very involved at school?” I asked, trying to articulate any common warning signs.
“Yes”, she responded, listing off a few activities he was involved in. She added that he was a really funny guy and always seemed happy, and that even his best friend was stunned.
I’m not going to start sharing warning signs, teen suicide statistics, well meaning but thoughtless and cliché bumper sticker statements, or speculate how or why this poor young man ended his life. Anyone can find those statistics online and speculation doesn’t help anything.
This is where I am a mom.
As I drove home, I prayed and grieved for this boy’s mom and dad, his friends and loved ones. I imagined Facebook posts and shocked texts among his peers. As I drove by the high school he and my daughter graduated from just weeks ago I wondered if the principal had been notified yet.
And then I thanked God. “Jesus, thank you that it wasn’t one of my kids. Thank you that every day multiple times a day when this same thing happens across America and the world that this isn’t one of my kids.”
As a mom, I just can’t. I cannot fathom what his poor parents are going through, and I never want to. Oh how my heart breaks for them.
And my heart breaks for this young man. So young. So much potential. So much life ahead of him. Gone.
I sat on the couch next to my kids when I got home and said this, eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart:
“Do you know how much you are loved, and that if you EVER find yourself in what feels like a helpless situation you can ALWAYS come to me and together we will find a solution? There is ALWAYS a way out.” Both my kids nodded.
Will you please do two things?
- Please join me in praying for this young man’s loved ones
- Get eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart with your kids and other young ones in your life and talk to them about suicide? Let’s shine a bright light on this darkness and expose it and get those conversations started.
I think it’s safe to assume we have all been impacted by suicide in some way or another. It is an epidemic and by having intentional discussions with our loved ones, we very well may bring hope to the hopeless.
By Brenda L. Yoder, MA
I realized I only had two years with all of my kids at home and if something didn’t change, their childhood memories of me would be of an angry, contentious woman. That wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.
No mom dreams of being a yeller. New brides don’t anticipate the havoc they’ll wreak in their homes by being out of balance. Women don’t look forward to the times they snap at their kids in public because they’re stressed with too many demands.
But life happens.
It happened to me. Not just once, but so much that it characterized our family. It characterized me as an out-of-balance mom behind closed doors.
Out-of-balance living happens not in the once-in-a-whiles, but in skewed normalcy.
“The kids just want to see you have joy” my husband said more than once. I didn’t realize the stress, anger, and mess I felt inside spilled out so much. Normally, you don’t see you own ugliness.
It affected them. I needed to take ownership of it.
I’m a mom of four kids within a nine-year span. After being home full-time for a decade, I was teaching 180 high school kids in our local school at the time of my unbalanced wake-up call. I loved teaching. I loved mentoring kids and pouring into their lives. I received teaching awards. Our house ran smoothly. My husband was an elder and I taught Sunday School. I ran two miles a day and had meals on the table every night.
We looked great with our picture-perfect image
But I was a mess.
In the stress, internal messiness, and out-of-control trying-to-do-it-all, relationships with my family suffered. While I did great with the teens I worked with, I was failing with my teen at home. As a mom to only one girl going through adolescence, I was reactionary, angry, and contentious with her. It overflowed to the younger kids and my husband.
My marriage was bad. My mother-child relationship was out of control, and something had to change.
Then, God reminded me that life with kids is fleeting and change needed to happen. I knew change wouldn’t happen overnight. I also realized
I didn’t like the memories my kids would have if I continued in my pulled-to-the-limit lifestyle.
I took a risk and changed what I could control. I realized I couldn’t change my husband or kids to meet my needs. I assessed what I needed for peace of mind, better life balance, and managing my anger.
I began saying “no” to things to work on the internal mess which needed healing. I said “yes” to repairing relationships and making time for God.
All of these took risk. Financial, personal, and lifestyle risks.
There’s more to this story, which is in the my new book, “Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All.” The book is a practical, spiritual, and personal tool to help women and moms find what’s most important during the busiest years of parenting. It’s part of a larger story of living life well being the storybook image that you can learn about at brendayoder.com.
I never intended to write a book when change happened. It was truly for survival and healing for me and my family. But as I speak to and counsel women, it’s a familiar cry from most all moms:
How do you balance all the roles and responsibilities you have?
The answer is—you don’t by trying to do it all. It’s found in God’s word, a relationship with Him, and understanding yourself more.
So join me in balance, busyness and not doing it all. I’m still living it while raising kids. Busyness never goes away. Balance is how you live life while it’s happening.
What do you struggle with as a busy mom? What questions or struggles do you have?
Comment below and you’ll enter to win a giveaway for one copy of Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All. I’d love to hear from you!
To purchase the book, go to balancebusynessandnotdoingitall.com or Amazon.
Brenda is an author and speaker with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in Education. After teaching middle school and high school, she’s a currently a school counseling professional with a private practice. She was twice awarded the “Powerful Connection” award for teachers.
She’s a parenting columnist for 10 To 20 Parenting, Choose Now Ministries, and Whatever Girls. Brenda has been featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul:Reboot Your Life and two books, Who Do You Say I Am and Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All are releasing in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, can be found at brendayoder.com where she writes about faith, life and parenting beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of four children, ranging from middle school to young adult.
Brenda is active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
By Erin Bishop
My daughter and I have been butting heads since she started her senior year of high school two days ago. (I know. Two days? It’s been a long two days.)
Her countenance was different when she came home from school than when she left in the morning. She was downcast, snarky, and I could tell she was ready to get into an argument with me.
Today when she came home from school we talked about her day. Somehow we got onto the topic of spiritual warfare and I told her that I have the gift of discernment, which means I pick up on certain things that may not be obvious to others. The more we talked about discernment, something clicked in me, and the Holy Spirit imparted some timely wisdom.
“Grace, how many kids would you say attend your school?”
“About two thousand” she answered.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
“Grace, you share space with 2,000 other kids, all of whom, whether they know it or not, are in a battle. The enemy is waging war against these kids and their families. Most of them are walking around in spiritual oppression and don’t even know it. Darkness dwells where there is no light. You can’t see them, but spirits of depression, deception, eating disorders, suicide, anger, addictions, pornography, sexual sins, and many more, are like a thick, but invisible fog in the hallways of your school and if you don’t outfit yourself in the full armor of God, you’re going to get pinged, weighed down and feel defeated. The same thing happens to me if I don’t have a full tank of Jesus in me before I go to Wal-Mart.” I told her.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:7-9
Before soldiers go to battle, they have a plan. They do reconnaissance, collect intelligence and plan accordingly. Going into a battle without these tools is planned defeat.
So as it is with soldiers, we, too, must know our enemy, how he attacks, and develop a strategy to defeat him. So it is with prayer and our Christian walk. We must arm ourselves with God’s Word and plan for victory.
Scripture References: Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:7-9
5 Battle Readiness Tips: Be sober (serious), be vigilant (watchful/attentive), resist the enemy (ignore/be wise to his antics), be steadfast in your faith, and know you are not alone.
Related Resources: It’s not too late to join us for #WhenMomsPray, our 2015-2016 prayer challenge. Click HERE for more information and to join us on the spiritual battlefield.
By Joanna Teigen
For many years, the word “prayer” brought up feelings of guilt and frustration. After all, good Christian moms pray all the time about everything, right? I just knew I was blowing it when it came to praying for my kids.
I didn’t pray often enough.
I didn’t pray hard enough.
I didn’t pray specifically enough.
I must not love my kids enough.
I must not love God enough.
Those negative emotions held me back even more from approaching God in prayer. It wasn’t until a crisis—when prayer was all that I had left—that
Prayer is the act of placing my children in God’s hands. It’s realizing I cannot protect them from harm. I can’t teach them everything they need to know. I can’t give them real happiness or make their dreams come true. I can’t make them be good or save their souls. Compared to what God can do, I can’t do much. There is freedom in taking those burdens off of myself and placing them on the Lord in prayer.
How can prayer set you free?
I can’t always protect my children in their own back yard, much less from danger and violence in the world around us. If I make it my job to keep them totally safe, I become a controlling worrier who won’t let them out of my sight. Through prayer, God gives me wisdom in setting safe boundaries and the assurance that he’s watching over them even when I can’t.
Our daughters can push all our buttons. They bend the truth. They come home late. They argue and complain. They blow off their responsibilities. They resist our rules and limits. No matter how faithfully we teach them or discipline by the book, we see obedience as a hopeless dream. Through prayer, I place responsibility for my daughter back where it belongs. Only God can change her heart. Only God can motivate her to grow and mature. It soothes my frustration and frees me to accept her just as she is today. I can forgive her weaknesses and trust God will work in her life at the perfect time.
It’s tempting to think I know the path my daughter should take. It’s easy to move from enjoying her talents to pushing for achievement and perfection. We can manipulate her social life to steer her to the ‘right’ friends. We can ‘help’ with homework to guarantee an A. We can stay up late researching colleges and scholarships so she has the best shot at success. Through prayer, however, I lay down my own hopes and goals. God quiets me so my daughter can explore opportunities without my interference. I can ask God to reveal his perfect plans and to put his desires in her heart. It sets me free to enjoy watching her life unfold.
I’ve seen the Lord answer prayers for each of my children. I’ve seen my children overcome emotional issues, learning challenges, and physical injury. I’ve seen beautiful healing from loneliness and bullying. I’ve been awestruck as they received salvation in Christ after struggling with doubt and rebellion. God is faithful—he promises to listen and never turns his back on us.
But the unexpected gift of prayer was in how it’s changed me. The freedom from fear, anger, and control allows me to love my children more fully. It sets me free to enjoy my daughters as unique creations of God himself. And it lets me connect with the father-heart of God who loves them even more than I do.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10 NIV)
Enter to win one of Rob and Joanna Teigen’s wonderful books “A Dad’s Prayers for His Daughter” or “A Mom’s Prayers for Her Son”.
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment telling us: which book you would like and a prayer request for your child. Joanna will personally pray for your child.
2. Share this post on social media
Winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 2nd.
Speaking of prayer…be sure to watch for an announcement from us on Monday, August 31.
By Hanna Chaffin
Growing up with an older brother had its challenges, but it also turned out to be one the most rewarding things in my life. Though we would argue and bicker about pointless mishaps and pretend we didn’t know each other in elementary school, I always knew that he had my back and would protect me from anyone who tried to mess with me. When high school finally came around, we realized that it was just the two of us against the world and not each other. We decided to make a pact to never fight again and since then, we have been inseparable.
There was one piece of advice he gave me one afternoon while we sat in the kitchen after school. I remember it clearly because I was having “boy issues.” Frustrated and confused I started venting to my big brother about how boys were “lame” and I didn’t understand why I was single. Instead of the usual eye roll and chuckle out of him, he sat down beside me, put his arm around me, and began to tell me about climbing the apple tree. He told me that us girls were like a gigantic tree. I had no idea what where he was going with this, so I hid my laughter and kept listening for a punch line. But then he got serious, and began to explain something to me that I will never forget. He told me that when a guy seeks a girl for the wrong reasons, he goes for the apples on the bottom of the tree because they are easier to reach. They never want to climb the tree and seek out the apples at the very top because those ones are too much work. So they keep going back for the ones closer to the ground, and eventually the apples on the top of tree start to think that maybe there is something wrong with them because they have not yet been picked. However one day, a brave man will come along and take the daring climb to the top of the tree and he will seek the apples for the right reasons, and know that God has called him to make the climb.
“That is what you need to wait for.” he told me.
“Wait for the man who will make the climb and don’t worry about being at the top of tree. That only means that you respect yourself enough to not throw yourself to any boy.”
Who would have known that one talk about an apple tree would change my perspective forever? I hope that every young girl knows that she does not always need to be dating someone. Sometimes we have to wait until God sends the right guy up the ladder.
By Takiela Bynum
I know you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders right now. Family issues, the kids at school, boy drama, grades, and the list goes on. Add sex (pregnancy scare or worse), drugs, or alcohol into the equation and it upgrades your life from bad to worse.
You’ve isolated yourself and are drowning in depression. Numb from any feelings of hope, craving death. You pick up a razor and start to cut, ultimately leaving scar after scar until…
Does this sound familiar?
When I look at you, I see the past me. My prayer is that when you look at me, you’ll see the (possible) future you. Twenty years ago I was fifteen and dealing with the issues of life. Feeling lost, I would often embrace thoughts of eternal sleep. My mind had grown tired of the endless troubles going on in my life at that time. I wanted to escape. I wanted peace. I began to cut. My only hope was that one day I’d hit a vein that would take me out of my misery…forever.
Understand: no one told me that my life wouldn’t always be filled with hurt and pain. I didn’t know that I’d have a life bursting with more joy that I could ever imagine. I wasn’t aware that every scar I put on my body, I’d have to give an account for one day (to my children). My present hurt prevented me from seeing my future hope.
When you’re in a hopeless state of mind, you may not realize it, but you’re telling God that even He is incapable of solving your problems. It’s too complicated for Him to resolve. You’re saying things are the worst it could ever be and will always be this way, ultimately shutting out the only One who can bring you out.
Your future in Christ is much brighter than any darkness you will ever endure. (Read Roman 8:18) No one shared that truth with me, which makes me obligated to share this vital information with you.
Today let’s make a pledge, from this day forward we’re going “scarless!” We can’t do anything about the old scars but we can choose not to make new scars. Let’s put down our razors and pick up scarlet red eyeliner. When—or if—we ever get the urge to cut, use the red eyeliner. It’ll help remind you of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for you and it’ll also wash away…never leaving a scar.
I, (insert name here), being of sound mind and body, here do pledge to God and all who love me on this month (insert month here), of this day (insert day here), in this year (insert year here) to bury all self-harming ways, never to be exhumed again! In the sight of God and all witnesses, I promise if and/or when I get the urge to self-harm, I’ll replace my instrument of destruction with an instrument that represents hope, a scarlet red eyeliner pencil, instead. I will do this in remembrance of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for me, (insert name here). I am committed to the “scarless” pledge. With God nothing is impossible.
Find an accountability partner, someone who will help you commit to this pledge. Know that you have fans cheering you on and praying for you in heaven and all over the earth. Even though I’ll already be praying, if you’d like me to pray for a specific person/situation or if I can help in another way comment below publicly or email me privately (firstname.lastname@example.org).Take the “scarless” pledge today!