My Kid Isn't Perfect | Stephanie Lewis | March 2019

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Have you ever gotten in bed at the end of the day and thought...what just happened? How did I get here? And why me? That moment when you feel like no other mom is in your corner because she does not have all of THIS. When you turn your head to her corner, she is laughing...not at you, but in life, just soaring. Her kids are healthy. Playing. Happy. You start to wonder...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

Meet our oldest. Carson. Imaginative. Super smart. Introvert. Leader. A dreamer. Huge heart. Perfectionist. A fan of a good fort. And crazy about Karate. Picky eater. Hates to read. Loves to create. A typical kid, for sure.

The physician walked into our cold and sterile room and handed me the paper. The one with my son’s name and date of birth. As my eyes fell down the paper, there was not just one diagnosis. There were three. I scrolled back up to make sure it was him. It was. My heart hit my stomach. There was a ringing in my ears. I could hear the doctor begin to explain, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

Prior to this, we noticed life *things* creeping in to his little mind. He became anxious. About the world. He became sad. And we didn’t know why. He had it all. As hard as this is to admit, the apple does not fall far from the tree and I had, myself, battled both. It took years in counseling for me to undo the damage. Having been there, done that, I knew I had to reach out for help, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

I called and scheduled an appointment with a child psychologist, who came recommended. Carson and I walked through the doors. I was so ashamed to do so. I felt like everyone was looking at me. When she called his name, I looked around, surely it was another Carson. It was him. As I stood at the window, I heard her explaining the payment details to me, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

A year later and second grade. Parent teacher conferences. Carson is a dreamer. Instead of writing his paragraphs, he found a sequin on the floor and traced 300 of them on his paper. This was not new news to us. We redirected (often) at home. Let me define often for you, real quick. He sits at the counter to eat breakfast. Then there is me, nearby because....take a bite, take another bite, eat your breakfast, take a bite. Put your sock on, put your sock on, put your other sock on...are your socks on? My gut...the entire time...this can’t be normal. What does the world say? He is just a boy, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

Carson’s fears and anxieties became riveting. He was finding it difficult to get along with others. In fact, I dreaded it. I knew it would be me mediating the kids and Carson. His need to be in control of every aspect of play was exhausting. And it’s not well received. It was heartbreaking to watch. He would cry the biggest tears, so angry, and say to me, I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am. I would muster up everything in me not to weep and to speak truth into his little life. You are exactly who God made you to be. You are a leader. You are a creator. You are an amazing friend. But all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

The diagnosis. All of them. Listed. One by one. Anxiety/Depression. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. ADHD-inattentive. My eyes filled with tears. I didn’t even know what ODD was, but it explained so much. How, Lord? Why him? Please take it from him and give it to me. I would much rather figure this out with the life experience I have than watch my little 7 year old navigate these big words. We talked about the alternatives to medications. There was not one we had not faithfully explored and given our all. I took the prescription to the pharmacist. I stood there as she explained how this may help and what to expect if it wasn’t, but all I could really hear was...what did I do different and where did I go wrong?

 I looked down and caught a glimpse of scripture tattooed on my foot. 2 Corinthians 12:9. I could hear the scripture, God’s grace is sufficient for you, for God’s power is made perfect in your weakness, but what I really heard was God’s grace is sufficient for Carson, for God’s power is made perfect in Carson’s weakness.

That is what I would do different. Instead of viewing our (I use that because we are in this together) weaknesses as handicaps, we will boast all the more gladly in them, we will use them as our platform to show off our God.

We have been studying Genesis with our City Group and this week in particular focused on Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob. Jacob had a dream and caught a vision described in Genesis 28:12-17. He dreamed of a stairway that reached from the Earth up to heaven and he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord.

At the conclusion of the discussion, there were two questions.

1. In what current circumstance have you felt perhaps God is absent? How is Jacob’s vision for you?

2. Knowing that God is _________ shows me that I am ____________.

My walls came down that Sunday in City Group. Through tears. I shared our circumstance with Carson. And not so much that I felt God was absent, but that I had not prayed with an expectant heart. I had not prayed EXPECTING for God to move in Carson’s life.

Jacob’s dream was what I needed to envision for myself. A staircase between me and God. Always open. No hindrance. And the Lord at the top, waiting, with arms WIDE open.

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave, lives in ME. What is too big for him?

I shared that knowing God is GOOD; meaning He gives us what is best and does not do harm. This shows me that I am CHOSEN to be Carson’s mom and that His plans for Carson are more than we could ever think, imagine or pray for. I am reminded that this is a marathon. Not a sprint. It will take time. And patience. And Jesus. Carson has so much ground to take. And hand-in-hand we will do it.

I am so grateful for the women who surrounded me as I spoke those words. They cheered for me. They chimed in agreeance to counseling. They were for me at the doctor’s office, even though they weren’t physically there. They told me how they couldn’t wait to see Carson grow. They told me they could sense a calling on his life through this. My best friend prayed through tears over him on behalf of everyone. And then all through the week they kept in touch with encouraging words, scripture and prayers.

So, what circumstance have you felt perhaps God is absent? Have you shared that?

What if we could drop this ugly cloud of shame we feel if our child isn’t perfect...healthy... happy...athletic...just by surrounding ourselves with community and having the courage to share your answer to that question.


The "Right" Way | Shelly Luttermoser | February 2019

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Before I became a parent, raising a child successfully appeared to be a job that required love, training, sacrifice, determination, and a sound mind.  Twenty years later, that list looks very different. 

Looking back, I unconsciously built my family planning with a safety checklist…

  • Become a stable Christian woman…Check

  • Marry a man I respect and agree with on the big stuff…Check

  • Earn a degree and some sort of security/competency…Check

  • Seek out all flaws so as not to pass them down (this one makes me laugh)…Check

I even added a little extra by getting trained in marriage and family counseling and teaching parenting classes (laughing even harder).  I believed if I did this thing “RIGHT”, the results would have to turn out “RIGHT”.  

I will say that being equipped and confident sustained this faulty belief system for a while, but eventually all of our humanity rose straight to the surface.  

It started when philosophies I knew were beneficial felt excruciatingly painful as I watched my red-faced, screaming infant fight off sleep. Advice I had been given from well-known authors and respected friends came into question when my strong-willed toddler stood her ground for days with no sign of relent.  Protection I knew deep down in my gut was necessary, brought up strangling fea as my teenager promised this would keep us from ever having a future relationship.  “RIGHT” became elusive and the future outcomes did not seem safe.  

Just so you don’t misunderstand, most of our family days were beautiful.  Full of laughter, learning, relationship, and adventure. We spent countless hours reading, playing in the yard, engaging in church activities, theatre, sports, friendships, and anything else we could possibly do to enrich our children’s lives.  But it was never able to ensure the outcome.

I am not insinuating that parents shouldn’t equip themselves in God’s word, and other ways, with advice on parenting. Nor am I saying that when that advice is harder than expected, or a little unclear, you should just give it up. What I am saying is there is no safety in these things and depending on yourself to do this thing “RIGHT” will leave you frustrated and afraid. 

My oldest daughter is turning twenty in four days, my son is graduating high school this year, and my baby child is 14. They are all beautifully gifted and beautifully flawed and absolutely able to be used by their creator.  You see, they are God’s children. Not just mine. They are entrusted to me for a season and His purposes. He cares for their destinies more than I do and He will bring them to pass. We are simply to love, pour out what we have, and rest in God’s promise that He will be with us.  He will strengthen us and help us. He will uphold us with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

The only way to truly get this thing “RIGHT” is to have faith in the only one who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think and pass that on.  

Simple Things | Roxane Griner | January 2019

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When I was a little girl, I was terrified of sleeping in the dark. I had to have the hallway light on until I fell asleep or I was simply NOT going to bed. The closet doors had to be closed because I just knew there was something lurking in the shadows. I remember me and my older sister had a trundle bed at one point and I would make her push her bed up against mine so she would be close enough to hold my hand until I fell asleep. I figured if I was going to get abducted by aliens, or kidnapped by the monster under my bed, at least my sister would get taken with me and I wouldn’t be alone. There were countless times I would wake up in the middle of the night and sneak into bed with my parents. I used my best, sad puppy-dog eyes, taking advantage of my parent’s exhaustion, and they would oblige and let me sleep with them the rest of the night. 

At some point, my mom, being the faith-filled women that she is, took my fear of the dark as an opportunity to teach me about prayer. She taught me the first prayer I ever prayed as a child and to be honest, I prayed that same prayer well into adulthood every night.

“Dear Jesus, thank you for this day. Please help us to have sweet dreams, 

sweet sleep, and protect us as we sleep. In Jesus name…Amen!”

It was a simple prayer but I believe it taught me a huge life lesson. I learned to rely on God at a very young age. I learned to find comfort in that simple prayer as I overcame my fear of the dark. As time went on, I didn’t need to sleep with the lights on, hold my sister’s hand, or crawl into bed with Mom and Dad anymore. That simple prayer taught me to trust in Jesus for security and it spring-boarded my faith in Christ.

As soon as my boys came to an age of understanding, I taught them that simple prayer. We call it the “night time prayer”. I also taught them a “morning prayer” and we pray it every morning on the way to school…

“Dear Jesus, thank you for this day. Please help us to make good choices, 

be kind and loving to others, and have a blessed day. In Jesus name…Amen!”

These simple prayers have been the key to laying a foundation for our boys to develop their faith in Christ. We’ve learned to make the most of the simple everyday things we do together and not overcomplicate teaching our kid’s faith in God. We want our boys to understand that God wants to be a part of everything we do and teaching them to pray has helped us do that. 

As I’ve watched my kid’s prayer life grow I’ve witnessed them pray on their own without being prompted. I’ve watched them get excited when their prayers were answered. They’ve learned to give credit to God for answering their prayer and I’ve been on the receiving end of their unsolicited prayers. It’s the sweetest thing when your child sees a need you have and asks if they can pray for you.  

Teaching your kids to have a prayer life is one of the best things you can do to build their faith. 

Keep it simple. Pray about anything and everything. Nothing is too silly to pray about. But don’t just pray, take time to praise God for his many blessings. The bible tells us to rejoice always and pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). Teach your kids to rely on God through prayer and give thanks for who He is and what He is doing in their lives. You will be amazed at how God grows their faith, and what a lasting impact it makes on their young lives.

My mom didn’t just teach me to rely on God to fall asleep, she taught me the valuable lesson of learning to rely on God for everything. It may have been out of desperation for one night of uninterrupted sleep, but my hope is that the simple prayer my mom taught me will be carried on from generation to generation. I hope my kids will teach it to their kids one day. Something so simple, yet so important — we must all learn to rely on Jesus.