Parenting: My Personal Struggle with Fear

sister shirtWhen my daughter, my oldest child, was in preschool through elementary school, she was so spunky and smart with just enough stubbornness to call it determination mixed in. I truly felt she would conquer the world, a neatly packaged redheaded blue-eyed force to be reckoned with. When the middle school years hit, she changed. The bullying started and she became fearful and worried more and more.

Many nights I’ve knelt by their bed and prayed over both my son and my daughter, but I’ve spent a lot of time worried for my sweet sensitive girl. Her dad and I divorced when she was three. I remarried when she was five and he left me two years later. When she was sixteen, my youngest son at age ten was diagnosed with an incurable brain abnormality and underwent brain surgery to help restore flow between his brain and spine. To say our whole world flipped upside down that year would be an understatement.

I have been remarried now for nearly ten years to a good Christian man and stepfather. I’m a stepmom to a very determined handsome high school freshman. My son, now thirteen is doing very well and surgery, although scary, has been an answered prayer. We have worked very hard to blend our family and move forward.

My daughter is a sophomore in college now. She is still spunky and very smart but her struggle is real. She wrestles with who she is versus who she thinks she should be. She worries that she is not good enough to succeed.

why i didn't rebel 2I have been reading a book by Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach called Why I Didn’t Rebel. In it Rebecca shares her own personal encouraging story of how she made it through the difficult teen years while staying true to her values, faith, and family.

The other day I was reading her chapter on Expectations where she wrote: “Looking at all these stories, I saw a pattern emerging:  families who expected their kids to rebel were scared, and families who didn’t expect their kids to rebel had a lot of faith in their children.” It was like gaining admittance into a secret room where parents are typically not allowed and God used her words to illuminate some shadowed corners of my soul.Why I Didn't Rebel

It revealed to me that unconsciously I’ve been parenting from a place of fear rooted in guilt. The more she struggles the more fearful I become because in the innermost part of my heart, I worry that my failures will cause her to rebel and ultimately fail. I know this is not what God wants for my family or my daughter.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 2:7

Parenting is hard and divorce and remarriage is messy. Blending a family only makes it more complicated. Why I Didn’t Rebel is like a breath of fresh air. Drawing me out, helping to replace my pessimism with perspective straight from the proverbial green grass on the other side. It tackles issues parents face today while giving candid insight on balancing them with healthy boundaries and expectations that actually work.

Why I Didn't RebelFor I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you Rebecca for allowing God to use you to write this book to rekindle hope in parents who may be struggling with discouragement. My girl may just conquer the world after all.

 

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An Open Letter To My 16 Year Old Daughter

DSC_2000My daughter is very active in youth leadership at our church. I am proud of her for serving and getting involved. I see her growing and cultivating her talent of compassion; learning to place others before herself. This past weekend, she attended a conference and the parents were asked to write a letter of encouragement or prayer to be given to them during one of their devotional sessions. She gave me permission to publish the letter I wrote to her in hopes that it will help others.

       To My Sweet Girl,

There is a poem in one of those books I love to read by Grace Livingston Hill that I want to share with you:

“Charge not yourself with the weight of a year, child of the Master, faithful and dear.

Choose not the cross for the coming week, for that is more than He bids you seek.

Bend not your arms for tomorrow’s load, just leave that to your gracious God.

Daily ONLY, He says to thee, ‘Take up thy cross and follow me’.”

It means to focus on serving Him today and no more. We all have our own cross to bear; have our own personal struggles. God gives you daily what you need. “Charge not yourself with the weight of a year” means don’t take on a year’s worth of burdens, don’t take on the hard times, the “what ifs” and the “what might happens” that are later on down the road. Live for Him for today. Live in this moment. Serve Him with all your heart today. Don’t pick up the cross of the coming months. Today is hard enough, so live and be just for today.

2 Kings 25:30 (ESV) “and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.” See, you are a child of the King. But, you are so much like me, beautiful girl, that you tend to either focus on looking back at the mistakes you’ve made in the past or the mistakes or bad things that may come in the future.

So that’s why I am telling you this with all the love I have in my heart:  Let go of the past and do not try and take up your cross (your burdens) of tomorrow. Just live, love, serve, and embrace right now, today.

                                                                                                I love you beyond words,

                                                                                                                Mom