by Brenda Yoder
This year my daughter became a missionary.
It was while proofreading her high school senior scholarship applications that I learned about her heart for orphan ministry. I read how spending Christmas Day in a Mexican orphanage when she was 17 gave her a passion for children without families.
It was seeing her heart, captured by the kids she connected with in Guatemala during her summer there as a college student, which told me, to her, home was just as much on the Mayan mountains as it was in Indiana.
Last month, when she began raising support as a full time missionary with Back2Back, I learned that my place as her mom is on my knees, interceding for her and encouraging her when it feels overwhelming.
Raising a daughter called to full-time ministry is the joy of my heart, but it’s not an easy thing. Here are five lessons I’ve learned about raising a daughter who answers the call of God’s plan for her life.
- Prayer is the foundation. I didn’t pray for my daughter to be a missionary, but I remember praying that she would love God with her whole heart. I prayed in those moments when I picked her up while she was sleeping and felt her breath on my neck, while I sang hymns of prayer and hope. I prayed in the wee hours, when I couldn’t sleep and would pray beside her bed while she slept. There were the prayers her dad and I prayed when we didn’t see God through the stubborn, rebellious spirit. God hears every single prayer.
- Let her be herself. She was in preschool when I realized she wasn’t my clone. It was a wake up call that my only daughter didn’t have the same personality and nature I did. Through elementary and high school, it was a challenge to step back and let her grow into her own skin, but it is essential to allow your daughter to find her unique passion.
- Encourage friendships grounded in Christ. Kate was blessed with a handful of friends who similarly loved God. She expanded those friendships through church camp, going to other youth groups and not being in the most popular clique. These girls went on youth trips and mission trips together, and similarly love God in their own ways. They still encourage and support each other today.
- Give her opportunities to serve. When she first asked to go on short term mission trips, my fears were natural, but allowing her to serve God in these settings placed the burden for the orphans and underprivileged on her heart. When my instinct was to keep her close, I had to surrender my fears to God.
- Support her call. She was five when she first evangelized to our unsaved neighbors after she heard about sharing the gospel at Bible Club. I wanted to tell her she couldn’t because “what would they think?” When she wanted to date God her senior year, I also questioned what others would think, but I saw her develop an intimate relationship with her Savior that changed me. When she wanted to go back to Guatemala again and again, I wanted to question the practicality of it, but I had to support her.
God says we are to raise our children to be arrows (Psalm 127:4), shooting them into the air to go far away, perhaps, where God has called them. There’s beauty and contentment in knowing your daughter has learned to listen to God. That’s a great reward.
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 Lynn Cowell
Many of us are experiencing it, but in so many different ways.
Some are preparing their lessons to homeschool. Others are shopping for the supplies on the public school list. The private school is hosting their ice cream social. And a few of you like me are dorm shopping and moving your kids to their school.
No matter what back-to-school looks like, we can all do one thing to help our kids prepare for their school days.
Teach them to start their day right.
When I stopped homeschooling my kids (my son was a middle schooler and my daughters in elementary), my heart started to ache because I no longer had the free time to teach them Jesus’ truths like I once did. For a least a year I simmered, thinking that was just the way it was.
Then I got the idea for what I called “Breakfast and the Bible”. I had my kids all come to breakfast at the same time, even though they left for school at different times. It only lasted 10 minutes, but these moments together allowed us to connect with each other and with Jesus before the rush of the day. When they were really small, I read them devotions. When my girls were in middle and high school, I wrote “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year” for us to use.
This school year, my kids will begin their day at three different colleges, but I am still encouraging them to start their day in God’s word using Proverbs 31 Ministries First5 app. This new app is actually an alarm clock on their phones. All they need to do is set their alarms each day in the app. Then, when their phone goes off in the morning, there is God’s word. First thing. They can simply lay in bed for a couple of minutes and start their day with Jesus in His Word.
Although I have taught my kids the power of opening God’s word for themselves each and every day, we all know this is a hard disciple to create. With the First 5 app, it couldn’t be any easier.
Even better, we can talk about the content together because we can each be reading the same thing each day.
Give it a try – Breakfast & the Bible. Gather your tribe a few minutes earlier than last school year or share the app together. It’s a beautiful way to grow closer to God and closer to each other!
By Erin Bishop
Some parents plan ahead for the “sex talk” and maybe even rehearse it in front of the bathroom mirror a few times, and then bring it up when they think their daughter is ready to learn about such a serious topic.
But sometimes, thanks to our over sexualized media, and the placement of certain magazines next to the candy, Matchbox Cars, and Princess Band-Aids, we find ourselves dodging questions like bullets in the checkout line because our daughter wants to know exactly what Cosmo means by “Kinky Sex Moves”, “Summer’s Hottest Sex” and what the deal is with this Bruce Jenner person.
For some parents, the idea of talking to their daughter about sex may cause anxiety for various reasons. If this is the case for you, I encourage you to ask yourself why. Why it’s uncomfortable and if there are some issues from your past you could work through with a licensed counselor so that you can be available to talk to your daughter about this important topic.
Or, maybe you’re worried you won’t know what to say, or you’re afraid you’ll embarrass yourself or your daughter. Give yourself some grace. Kids are resilient and they are looking for some direction and leadership from you. We have some great resources at the end of the article to help you on your way.
Talking about sex with my daughter has always come easy to me. It kind of had to. You see, she’s 17, and my husband and I have only been married 14 years. There’s a story here, and you can read part of it, here.
7 Tips for Talking to Your Girl About Sex
- First, pray. Ask God to give you peace, clear communication with your daughter, and for the Holy Spirit to go with you and before you to prepare her heart, and yours, for the conversation.
- Start with the truth. Tell her what sex is, that God created it for husbands and wives, and why. Arming our daughters with a firm foundation in the truth will empower and equip them to admonish cultural lies and choose God’s best for their lives. When we do things God’s way and save sex for marriage, there is no shame, condemnation, fear of an unplanned pregnancy, or sexually transmitted diseases. Our daughters will know kids who have sex and see on the outside that things seem fine and normal-but the changes that occur on the inside of a girl who has had sex outside of marriage can be devastating-even traumatic.
- Have a gentle, loving spirit. This will set the tone for this part of your relationship with her. This will reassure her that she can trust you and come to you with questions and for guidance.
- Be open and honest. Her little girl body will begin to change into a woman’s body. She may experience curiosity, confusion, arousal, embarrassment or shyness about her growing body. She needs to know these changes and feelings are normal before someone or something tells her otherwise. Give her an idea of what to expect, and ask her if she has any questions or concerns.
- Know where you stand and stay there. Flexible morals are no morals at all. Our daughters are counting on us to be leaders and hold them accountable to a higher standard.
- Your actions should line up with your words. Some movies, television shows, books and music normalize casual and premarital sex. Adults in her life may be shacking up with someone, sending the message that sex outside of marriage is acceptable.
- Keep talking. The “sex talk” shouldn’t be a one-time conversation. It needs to be an ongoing dialogue that continually keeps her grounded in the truth and the knowledge that she can talk to you about this and anything else, without fear, rejection, or condemnation.
- Do you feel prepared to talk to your daughter about sex?
- When do you plan to talk about sex with your daughter?
God’s Truth to Stand On:
- “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
- “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Putting It Into Practice:
- Pray for your daughter and her desire to lead a life of purity and sexual integrity.
- Keep the conversation going. By demonstrating that you are a tender and loving person to confide in, she will feel free to talk to you about this and many other topics.
Passport to Purity
“Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle: Creative Conversations About Sexual and Emotional Integrity” by Shannon Ethridge
“Every Young Woman’s Battle” by Shannon Ethridge
“Every Single Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Heart and Mind Against Sexual and Emotional Compromise” by Shannon Ethridge