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Inherit the Land

March 31, 2008

I have good news and bad news about my parenting.

The good news is: I no longer want to escape being a mom every time life gets hard with my children. No more constant fantasizing about the mountains, the beach, the cabin, the nap… nope, I am learning that I have to stay plugged in with them. I can’t run away.

The bad news: My children have developed some CRAP behavior lately. So much for not using the word “crap” anymore. I need to whip out “crap” to describe the fighting, the hitting, the lack of obedience, the whining, the complaining… ugh.

The confession: I have an addiction to buying parenting books. If it seems from the title that a book could help me, I’ll buy it in two seconds. And I’ll spend all day reading it while ignoring my children, thinking… “This book is really going to help me. I’m going to figure out how to finally solve some of these behavior issues. I’ll learn to be a good mom.”

So I stick my children in front of Disney Playhouse all day while I read a parenting book promoting one of the following ideas:

1. I need to spank my children for every offense. This is the only Godly way. This is the way to train them. I need to do this. I have to do this.

2. I must spend large amounts of time creating charts and incentives to help my children have good behavior. The more complex the chart, the bigger the family store, the bigger the bribe – the better this will work.

3. I need to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my children. If I plan weekly tea parties with my daughters and ask my son about his feelings a lot… well, then I’ll win their hearts, and they will just naturally behave well.

4.The last parenting book that I read a few days ago promised me that if I followed the author’s plan, my children would be radically well-behaved in only one week. I bought two copies of this book – one for Hugh and one for me. I underlined. I reread portions. I struggled through each chapter while the television droned on.

The last book did me in. I knew it wasn’t going to work for our family. Now what? How the heck can I learn good parenting skills? I am so afraid of screwing up, and I desperately want the right book to teach me and show me.

Yesterday I flopped down and started to pray. “Look, Lord. I don’t know what to do with my kids right now. Which book should I buy next? I need some help right now.”

In an instant, His voice came. “Are you ready to listen to me?”

Oh, man. WHAT?

“You need to talk to me about your children, Jess. I have every answer that you need. I know you. I know Hugh. I know your children. I am the One who can give you guidance and counsel, not these books. But are you ready to listen?”

Having tried everything else, having struggled to find answers to my questions everywhere but at the throne, I finally surrendered.

“Yes, Lord.” I whispered back. “I want to hear from you…I just didn’t realize you wanted to be this specific with me about my kids.”

“Ask me everything about them, Jess.”

So I did. I sat for over an hour and I poured out every question to the Perfect Parent. I asked Him how to handle the fighting, and He gave me a plan for my children that will work. God prioritized the issues my children are struggling with and He showed me how to handle each one. EACH ONE!

God answered every question that I had. I just needed to ask.

I say He is my Counselor; I say I live surrendered to Him – but I have not been acting like it. Surrender means that it is all on the table before Him – every issue, every problem, everything I’m dealing with.

So, the parenting books are coming off my shelf. I may sell them on eBay and use the money to get myself a manicure or something. I’m taking the parenting books off my blog, too. Right now I want to rely on the wisdom of the One who created my children and look to Him to show me how to raise them.

If I can trust Him with my life, I can trust Him each day to show me how to be a mom. And now, each day, somewhere during my time with God, I’m going to ask…

“God, show me specifically how you want me to mother my kids this day. Show me what they need and please give me your wisdom.”

Then joyfully, I will say with a full heart that:

“The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
For the honor of your name, O Lord,
forgive my many, many sins.
Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.
They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land” (Psalm 25: 8-15).

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2008 11:35 am

    Good work Jess. It makes me sigh, but I can only wish to turn back the clock and learn what you are learning now, when I was your age.
    I’m glad for your family.

  2. Anna permalink
    March 31, 2008 11:42 am

    Thank you for this post. We’re having some character issues with our six-year-old, and I needed this reminder.

  3. March 31, 2008 2:42 pm

    This was great. Sometimes we forget about asking Him for help. Instead we look everywhere else. I’ve done the same. I’ve been upset about something and tried to call friends. No one would be home. I would keep going down the list of people to call until God would tap me and say how about telling me about it. “Oh yeah, there’s you!” I’m with you girl. Thank goodness He is always there!

  4. Carissa permalink
    March 31, 2008 2:56 pm

    i love you

  5. March 31, 2008 3:53 pm

    I did the same thing with parenting books. Well, sorta. I read tons of them and the last one I read I got half-way through, gathered all of them up and gave them away. I told the Lord, he was going to have to guide my by His Spirit and teach me to be a mom Himself because I wasn’t reading one more parenting book!!!!! Things slowly got much better after that. Not too long ago I was laying in bed and I had the most wonderful thought “I like being a mom!”. That was a miracle. 🙂 I am going to have to try your specific question thing though!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  6. March 31, 2008 4:29 pm

    amazing grace, how sweet the sound….

    so beautiful a post. so wonderful a God. so sweet the mercy.

  7. March 31, 2008 7:29 pm

    Oh my goodness… YESTERDAY I sat at Borders with a stack of parenting books. I prayed, and then flipped through them. Yes, I prayed. But not the right prayer. I prayed for the right book. lol But I was shocked to find that flipping through all these parenting books almost made me cry! It was stressful and I got a little emotional, but didn’t know why. I finally chose one that was recommended to me and read a few little paragraphs yesterday. But thank you for your post. It makes so much more sense!! I sometimes forget that the Lord can answer my specific questions with specific answers.

  8. Tasha permalink
    March 31, 2008 8:41 pm

    Yet again, I am blown away by your sincere heart towards God. I too needed to hear this. So many times I put my agenda in front of listening to God for simple answers throughout the day. Thank you for the inspiration that you are and the reminder that God uses you as to reach me…

  9. March 31, 2008 9:11 pm

    Good girl, Jess, getting rid of those books. He WILL show you how to do it, and He WILL fill in when you mess up. And He already HAS equipped you to be THEIR mommy!! Wish SOOOO much we could spend about 3 hours at Panera together.

  10. March 31, 2008 9:31 pm

    Be set free Sister!

    Most of America’s populace think it improper to spank children.
    The other day I was talking to one of my younger buddies about methods
    used to discipline children.

    We talked about “time outs”, grounding, holding back “rewards” until the
    child displayed desired behavior etc. One of the things we discussed was
    the act of spanking and my friend explained that no, he does not spank
    any of his children.

    He explained that what he does is to take the misbehaving child out for
    a ride in the car and talk. He said that usually this works and that the
    child calms down fairly quickly and really doesn’t take too much time.

    By removing the child, in this case his son, from the immediate
    situation and providing a change of scenery, the child is allowed to
    focus on something dif

  11. March 31, 2008 11:15 pm

    The most powerful parenting tool I’ve ever found is scripture and prayer. I wish I’d had it from the beginning but, praise God, it’s never too late.

    Heavenly Father, I pray You would grant Jess wisdom in raising her children. May Your Word be a lamp to her feet and a light to her path every day as she teaches her children in the way they should go. Amen.

  12. April 1, 2008 1:35 pm

    Such a great post, Jess! I have got to start getting specific with my prayers about my girls. My preacher mentioned a definition of insanity at church on Sunday, about how insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results. Hence, my parenting techniques are insane!!! I have got to seek HIS wisdom, even down to the tiniest details.
    You read my mail and you posted it. Thanks, Jess.

  13. April 2, 2008 12:13 pm

    Great reminder Jess. I needed to hear that!

    And,um, also? Just when you get around to it? I would love to have your story about finances and bedrest.

    And to the rest of the world who reads this comment, she knows what I mean… trust me!

    Can’t wait to hear how the interview went!

  14. aspaf permalink
    May 12, 2008 8:57 am

    That was wonderful! Thanks for blogging this…

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