When Your In-Laws Don’t Respect You


When Your In-Laws Don't Respect You

Years ago, I taught my students Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall. One famous line from this poem is that “Good fences make good neighbors.” Most of us realize that healthy boundaries in relationships are often necessary-there’s a reason that sage Benjamin Franklin said that “Guests, life fish, begin to smell after 3 days.” Few relationships are harder to apply boundaries too than our in-laws and for good reason.

Our parents spend decades raising us, shaping us, guiding us. It can be hard for them to release us to our spouses, necessary as it is. Some in-laws simply don’t understand how much they can either foster a healthy and supportive relationship for their child’s marriage, or bring great division and harm to the union. The stress and pressure of poor relationships with our mother or father-in laws can cause frustration, anger, and bitterness-which can easily infect our marriages, and therefore our children. And sometimes, it’s our brother or sister-in-laws that can do just as much good, or harm.

As mothers, how are we supposed to navigate these complex relationships?

When I met my mother-in-law for the first time, I knew that she wasn’t going to play the kind of role I had always dreamed of. Years before I met her, she suffered several major strokes and was wheel-chair bound, living in a home for the elderly and disabled. I knew that my husband and I would serve more like parents to her, than the other way around. Still, she’s been an incredible example of faith and love to me. Even though she spends her days in bed or wheel-chair bound, I have never once heard her complain. She loves her Savior and always pours that same love out towards others. But my husband also had loving older siblings who were more like parents to him, and so in some ways, I suddenly had 4 sets of protective in-laws to navigate. Their family is a close-knit bunch of loyal Italians and they have been generous and kind to us over the years and all the cousins have great affection for one another, but it wasn’t easy for me to fit in initially.

Guy and I With My Wonderful MIL

My husband Guy and I realized early on that we needed to become a strong new unit as a couple and that we could both firmly, yet lovingly, set boundaries with our in-laws on BOTH sides. That’s never easy. I have heard from hundreds of couples on this topic over the years. Many of these couples have varying issues from overly intrusive parents, to disregarding their parenting styles and requests, to extreme favoritism over their son or daughter as opposed to their new in-law. Here’s a post about what to do when someone simply just doesn’t like you very much.

If we choose to respond Biblically, I believe that most cases can result in peace and unity in our families.

Here are 4 things to consider:

  1. As spouses, we must communicate, listen, and be united as a couple about the problem with our in-laws and choose to protect our marriages above all else.

If your spouse is suffering or struggling, as a result of conflict with extended family members that should be your main priority. God instructs us to “leave” the home and authority of our parents and “cleave” to the new relationship we are building with our spouses. If your husband is not standing with you in solidarity over any particular issue, then the first matter of business is to work on your marriage-which may very well necessitate Biblical counseling.

Ultimately, if we feel secure and safe in our marriage and our spouse’s commitment to preserve our relationship and unique family goals and beliefs, than the anxiety of in-law pressures is greatly reduced. Sometimes, that means being grateful for your spouse and the new life you get to create together, instead of wasting time lamenting the dream of having ideal in-laws. Let go of the things you simply can’t change.

  1. Ask yourself if YOUR PART in the equation looks like this:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

We are to offer the same respect, honor, and Godly treatment of our in-laws as we are commanded to demonstrate to all people, regardless of how they treat us or our children. If you have sin in your own life in this area, it’s time to work on your part first.

  1. I like to take the confusion of making choices as a parent out of the equation by following this one cardinal rule:

Never make decisions based on FEARS or PEERS.

This applies to my in-laws too. Sometimes, moms over-discipline or give in to requests they don’t feel comfortable with when they are with extended family. We have to become very self aware and confident in OUR decisions so that we don’t behave towards our children or in-laws as a result of fear of what they will think or because we feel peer pressure to do things their way.

If this is a struggle for you, prepare yourself before you meet with them so that you have a clear image in mind of how you will behave as the wife and mom in your family, and do not give in to fear or pressure. God gave you authority over your home and children, and honoring how the Lord leads you is what matters most. Be authentically you, and if they don’t accept that, it’s okay. God accepts us just as we are and following His leading is what will bring us peace, not the approval of our in-laws.

  1. Just as I have talked a lot on my blog about being consistent, dropping the rope of tug-of-war with our kids, and training our children with loving-kindness, we can take a lot of the fight out of our in-law relationships in much the same way.

When my child persists over an issue and I have already communicated clearly with them, I don’t have to get angry, upset, or continue to argue with them. I can simply say something like, “Son, I understand that you want to stay up late, but as your mom I know that you need sleep and it’s now bedtime. Please go into the bathroom to brush your teeth and I will help you get dressed for bed.” They may whine and complain. And again, we can empathize and repeat our same statement of expectation, following through on our standard.

When in-laws become emotional, manipulative, or threaten our boundaries, we can respond in a similar fashion to them as we do to our wayward kids. We can calmly and kindly say to our in-laws, “I appreciate that you want to spoil our kids with sugary treats because you are loving grandparents, but John and I know that their bodies can’t handle it. We can provide snacks for you to give them that are healthy but still yummy, or we can give you a list of ones we recommend if you want to shop for them yourself. Just let us know which you prefer.” If they dishonor your repeated request, then you may need to follow up by explaining that the kids simply won’t be eating at their house. You don’t need to become embroiled or pulled into an argument or crumple under manipulation.

Eventually, it may be necessary to explain that if they simply don’t respect your decisions that you may have to come up with some creative alternatives-just as we do with our children when they don’t honor our role. It may mean that you need to take some time away from the relationship altogether, or put some more secure boundaries in place, but this should always be lovingly and clearly communicated-not an act of bitter punishment or unhealthy division.

The Bible puts it like this in Romans 12:17-18: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

As wives, we can either add pressure to our husband’s burden or we can cultivate peace with both sets of in-laws. Never underestimate the power of prayer and your own gracious spirit towards your spouse, your children, and your in-laws. Expect the Lord to prepare their hearts as much as yours, and ask God to give you wisdom. In-law relationships may very well be the biggest challenge you will face, but they don’t have to leave you in turmoil that negatively affects your kids. Keep doing the good parenting, entrust your commitment as a family to the Lord, and walk in faith that God will honor your desire for peace.

I’m not sure if my own in-law relationships on either side of my family will ever be what I dreamed of, but that’s okay. I choose to be grateful for the many ways that they have helped shape me and my husband. Seeking peace and pursuing it is the mark of a daughter of the King of Kings, and pleasing Him by our Godly responses to any conflict is the righteous thing to do and leads to blessing. When your mother or father-in-laws can’t be pleased, focus instead on pleasing your Heavenly Father, and you’ll never be disappointed.

SHARE:  What stood out to you the most from this post? How can you work more towards being a peace-maker or better communicate your needs as a wife, mom, and daughter-in-law? Do you have wonderful in-laws? Tell us what makes them so great!


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3 Lessons To Remember When God Says “No”


3 Lessons To Remember When God Says No

Some time ago now, I went through a season where God said “Yes” to almost every heartfelt prayer I could lay on Him. I look back on that time in my life and it reminds me that God is powerful! Able. Benevolent. All Knowing. And Good. He blew my mind with His ability to answer my prayers before I uttered them and He overwhelmed me with His diligent provision-credit card debt wiped away overnight, a startlingly clear path laid out for my career, and the dream romance that I longed for.

And then a different season came whistling coldly down the hallways of my heart. A time of agony, loss, and years of sacrifice. Job loss, physical illness, loneliness, and lots of unwanted change set me up for defeat. Doubt was ever present and my dim hope limped along the narrow path that wound precariously through the valley of my burdens.

But it wasn’t a total loss. I learned some valuable lessons that would shape my prayer life.

This week, I went to see the film War Room, by the Kendrick brothers, and I do recommend you see it-for the believer, it’s a powerful reminder that our battles are fought in the spiritual realm! It’s the story of a woman whose marriage is falling apart and how she meets a true prayer warrior who reminds her that her battle needs to be fought in her prayer closet, not at the dinner table. The movie ends on a high note, but I want to caution viewers that sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want, especially when other people’s hearts are involved. What do we do then?

Sometimes God says “Yes.” Often, He says “Wait.” But what do we need to remember when He says “No”?

First, our perspective is ours to shape.

We have two choices when God says “no” to our prayer requests. We can succumb to sorrow, disappointment, and fear which is the gateway to bitterness and depression, or we can renew our faith in God that He has good plans for us, grieve with a sense of joy, and count our blessings:

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

Only one of these options leads to a life that God can use for His purposes. And when God makes the most of our trials, bringing unexpected beauty from ashes, there is always purpose in our pain. It would add insult to injury to hinder ourselves from a long term blessing because we couldn’t trust that God’s “no” is a mercy.

Second, we don’t know the bigger picture.

In our humanness, we think we know what is best and yet, we honestly don’t. God sees the grander picture clearly and if we truly believe that He has plans for our good, and not to harm us, then we must have rock-solid faith that whatever it is we wanted, would have done more harm than good:

 For 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.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

The flip side of that coin is that sin and the unseen spiritual warfare between good and evil is always at play. Sometimes, God allows evil to play itself out, but even then, He restrains it and uses it for good in the end. I know that God’s plan is life, and yet He allowed me to miscarry twins a year ago. I don’t believe that was ever God’s design, but because sin and death are a part of this fallen world, He allowed it. I also believe that somehow, He will bring good from a tragic circumstance-I simply need to trust that He sees the bigger picture and will overcome loss with blessing in His time. This requires a long-term and eternal mindset. Instant gratification doesn’t build character, and character is what God is after most in our spiritual lives.

Third, prayer is not only a means to an end.

We pray because we want answers, but God sees prayer as so much more than that. Prayer is also the place where we enter into the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. We are engaging in a relationship, not just an exchange of requests. Seeking to know God and to yield to His plans for our lives is an opportunity to grow more intimately aware of the person of Jesus Christ on a personal level. If my kids came to me simply to see what they could get all the time, without being with me just to enjoy the mother-son relationship, I’d be pretty disappointed. God longs to be with us and commune with us-prayer is the vehicle with which we get to enjoy God Himself, the Creator of the world and everything in it! That’s a powerful and humbling thought!

Prayer is also a place where we confess our sins and any thoughts that are not Godly. In prayer, we come with our burdens and cast our cares onto the broad shoulders of Jesus Christ:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It’s a time of profound exchange-my weariness and shame for His strength and peace. Prayer is not so simple as requests and answers. It is the hub of relationship and heart transformation.

God is not fickle when He responds to our heartfelt requests. He is purposeful whether He answers yes or no.  Praise Him when He says “yes”. But don’t forget to praise Him when He says “no” and ultimately, you will see that both answers are a win-win.

Pray With Me:

Heavenly Father,

Help me to see that You are always good and that even when you answer with a “no” that you have my good in mind. Thank You for Your wisdom to keep from me anything that would not be for my best, and thank You that You can turn even the effects of living in a sinful world, into something for my good and Your glory! Help me to trust You when I don’t get the answers that I think I want and help me to grow in my faith and trust in You.

In Jesus Name, Amen!

YOUR TURN! Let’s talk in the comments section below: Has God said “wait” or “no” to you recently? How can I pray for you as you wrestle with His answer? Have you seen the blessing that comes from God’s protection when He answered “no” to you? I would love to hear how God’s answer was best for you!


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Fendi Shades Might Help, But This Is What Will Really Make You A Happier Mom


Fendi Shades Might Help, But This Is What Will Really Make You A Happier Mom

Last year, I had a bunch of credit from an online shop that sold high end sunglasses. Over the years, I went through my cheap shades as if they were disposable and I had been toying with the idea of buying a quality pair that would last.

With the money from cumulated gift certificates, I ordered a beautiful blue tortoise shell pair of uber chic Fendi glasses. It was one of the few big splurges I have ever made!

From the moment I put them on, I realized that all those years of wearing 5 dollar glasses had conditioned me to see the world in a subpar light. But these beauties were of such quality that I could see clearly and in perfect comfort-no more scratches and squinting. No more pinched skin on the bridge of my nose, or headaches from ill-fitting ear pieces. I didn’t have to view the beautiful sunny days around me in off color compromise because I could view them in the perfect balance of shade and light.

I hadn’t known what I was missing. I really did get what I paid for, in both cases.

It reminds me how much the way we view the world alters how we live our lives. When all we can see before us is an uphill battle, or defeating relationships, or messy rooms, then just about everything loses its luster.

When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who had emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba. Ignacio didn’t live a lavish life and he had plenty of trials that he could have focused on, but I never once, in the 7 years we worked side by side, heard him grumble or say a negative word about anything-no matter how small. He was so thankful to live a life of freedom and relative plenty as an American, that he never forgot where he came from and how blessed he was.

He also had a passionate love for Jesus Christ and few people shined brighter than Ignacio. When I think of the word contentment and joy the first image that comes to my mind is a smiling and kind-hearted Cuban man who often showed up at my door with an iced coffee or a sweet roll. I don’t see him as often as I would like to anymore, but I’ll never forget the example he was to me of how much our attitudes and perspectives will either imprison us in misery or free us to live life to the full as God intended.

Ignacio viewed the world through the lens of thankfulness and it made all the difference.

How about you and me?

Negativity and sorrow can be crushing not only to ourselves but to everyone around us. I bet you can think of someone that is a “joy robber”. You know, those people who you come away from feeling kind of “meh” or like you just had the wind taken out of your sails? Instead, we all have a conscious choice to focus on the good, count our blessings, and determine to say things that will build people up. It doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about our struggles, but the believer should always have a confident hope and joy that is contagious, despite hard times or challenges.

As parents, we can “huff and puff” all around the house sighing over this mess or that behavior and making everyone feel our displeasure. We can say that we want to show a Christ-like example to our kids and then grumble our way through each tiny obstacle in everyday living instead of serving our families with joy and gladness as an act of worship to Jesus Christ. It should never be like that for a mom or dad who is pursuing a love relationship with the Lord.

Here’s what the Bible has to say about it:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

My mother-in-law is a perfect example of this. After her husband of 30 years suddenly passed away, she endured several severe strokes that have left her in a wheel chair and in a convalescent home for nearly two decades. I have never heard her complain. She remains in bed most of the time now and yet she continues to talk about her love for Jesus and takes an interest in the wonderful things everyone else is doing outside the small walls of her shared bedroom. Even though she has never had the chance to push her grandkids on the swing or take a family vacation with us, she still shares our excitement and joy over our opportunities to do so as a family. It humbles me every time.


Our joyful and positive outlook on life can make or break the spirits of those around us but one thing is for sure. We waste our own lives when we have a negative mood that permeates our thinking. You and I have this one chance to take hope by the scruff of the neck and be a light that draws others (And our own kids!) towards us like a moth to the flame.

We want to leave a legacy of joy and hope for our children, not discouragement and oppression because of our attitudes and careless words. I wish that it was as easy as donning a pair of designer sunglasses but this kind of legacy involves doing some intentional heart work.

Do whatever it takes to commit to a more joyful outlook. Toss the mediocre lenses of your mind in the trash bin and upgrade them for a pair that gives you a more hopeful and accurate view of the world around you.

YOUR TURN: Would you consider yourself a “joy-robber”? Do all the little demands of everyday life get to you and steal your joy? What kinds of things work for you to keep your perspective balanced and Christ-centered? How do your kids respond when you are a happier mom or dad?

Let me know your thoughts in the COMMENTS and if this post blessed you, please share it with others!

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I Am Parent, Hear Me SCOLD!


I Am Parent, Hear Me Scold!

My face took on the gross resemblance of a sour prune, wrinkled in anger and frustration. The scolding and lecture followed. And thus, so did the tears. The issue at hand didn’t improve, my child’s heart did not suddenly change for the better, and the only thing that was certain is that I had just wounded our parent-child relationship.

My child lost. I lost. And none of us were the better for it. This was a pattern that I hated and wanted to change, but I knew it would take some radical changes on my part.

When we become parents, we automatically believe that scolding is a part of parenting.

We parent, therefore we scold! What makes us think that a child is going to respond well when we run off at the mouth at them? Have any of us been productive for a boss who was always on our case, made us feel 2 inches small, or had only harsh words for us every time we messed up? Did that create a good culture and motivation for doing well on the job? Yeah, not so much. But as parents, we take this for granted with our kids, largely because we can get away with it. But it’s doing much more harm than good.

If we examine Scripture, we find that there is a better way and that scolding, is in fact, unbiblical.

In his book, The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo, he quotes from Mark 14:3-5 and then elaborates on the passage. Take a look:

“And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining (at the table), there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; (and) she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly (remarking) so one another, ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and (the money) given to the poor.’ And they were scolding her” (Mark 14:3-5)

One of the Greek words from which the term scolding (in the above text) was derived, means “to snort with anger.” It was used to describe the snorting of horses. In his book, Hints on Child Training, first published in 1891, H. clay Trumbull, considered to many to be the founder of Sunday School, explains:

     “To scold is to avail or revile with boisterous speech. The word itself seems to have a primary meaning akin to that of barking or howling. Scolding is always an expression of a bad spirit and of a loss of temper…the essence of the scolding is in the multiplication of hot words in expression of strong feelings that, while eminently natural, out to be held in better control.

     If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a natural tone of voice and with carefully measured words. If the parent is tempted to speak rapidly, or to multiply words without stopping to weigh them, or to show and excited state of feeling, the parent’s first duty is to gain entire self-control. Until that control is secured, there is no use of the parent’s trying to attempt any measure of child training. The loss of self-control is for the time being an utter loss of power for the control of others.

     In giving commands or in giving censure to a child, the fewer and the more calmly spoken words the better. A child soon learns that scolding means less than quiet talking; and he even comes to find a certain satisfaction in waiting silently until the scolder has blown off the surplus feeling which vents itself in this way. There are times, indeed when words may be multiplied to advantage in explaining to a child the nature and consequences of his offense, and the reasons why he should do differently in the future; but such words should always be spoken in gentleness, and in self-controlled earnestness. Scolding-rapidly spoken censure and protest, in the exhibit of strong feeling-is never in order as a means of training and directing a child.”

Convicting stuff, right? I recently wrote this post which confirms my stance that training a child should always occur outside of times of conflict. When we try to train or teach our children when our feelings are running high, we almost always resort to scolding.

Can you imagine what your parenting would like if you bucked the system and culture of parenting that scolds kids and places a premium on authoritarian methods as opposed to respect, kindness, and gentleness?

I’m not there yet. Too often I feel the urge to scold my kids, but I have made a lot of progress. This is a daily practice for me, and I would love to see some of you commit to practicing self-control in the way we speak to our kids too. Take a look at these passages that affirm a more gentle approach and a more effective way to reach the hearts of our kids:

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:14

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

“…not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” I Peter 5:3

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Take some time to evaluate what leads you to scold your children in the first place and consider how you can respond Biblically in those moments. Make a plan in advance to handle the difficult moments with self-control and wait until you can speak calmly and lovingly towards your kids. And remember that a lot of good can come from asking your kids for forgiveness when you fail. I have eaten more than my fair share of humble pie, but it goes a long way for our kids to see us working on our weaknesses too! That in and of itself is a great life lesson!

Let’s commit to growth in this area of our parenting! Let’s put scolding on the shelf and replace it with words that will build our kids up while also giving them loving correction with kindness!

Pray With Me:

Father, I want to be patient and have self-control as a parent. I don’t want to scold my kids and spew angry words at them. It hurts them! I need Your loving help and strength to guard my mouth. Change me from the inside out so that I see my kids as You do, Lord-impressionable, fragile, blessings, gifts! Keep me from scolding and lecturing and help me to point them to you and train them up in times of peace and calm, not in the aftermath of conflict or the heat of the moment. Give me wisdom!

In Jesus Name, Amen!

Note, this post contains an affiliate link to the book I mentioned and when you make any purchase through that link, I make a few cents to support my ministry at NO EXTRA charge to you! Thanks for your help! :)

YOUR TURN! Do you scold your kids more than you care to admit too? Can you see the benefit, from a Biblical perspective, of speaking in a way that is gentle and consistent as opposed to becoming angry and spewing the first words or lectures that come to mind? What can you do differently for your own growth, even if your kids never changed?


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For Anyone Else Who Has Ever Kicked A Hole In The Wall


For Anyone Else Who Has Kicked A Hole In The Wall

Last night, I should have gone on a run. Instead, I kicked a small hole in the wall with my high heel.

How’s that for a woman who leads a group of nearly 10,000 women who struggle with anger?

It has been a heavy week.

News of a beautiful 15-year-old we knew from church and who had just recently taught a ballet lesson to my preschooler, had a massive heart attack out of the blue and has been determined to be brain dead. Her parents are making the unthinkable decision to take her off of life support after her 4 siblings have a chance to visit her.

Another mom asked me to pray for her friend whose 4-year-old drowned in their pool on Sunday. I have a 4-year-old. It’s too close to home….

My husband and I are right smack dab in the thick of a couple floundering in brokenness that threatens to tear apart what God has joined together. I feel at a loss to know how to wade through their pain with them.

And to top it off, my own kids had an epic day of rebellion and strife from sun up to blessed sun down.

For good measure, I heard back from 2 businesses that have the power to make or break my long and hard-fought for dreams. They chose the latter.

And then one of Satan’s favorite vehicles for discouragement in my life, called me up and threw in some good ole’ persecution about my faith and ability as a mom, just for good measure.

So I kicked a gorgeous purple-suede-Steve Madden-3-inch-high-heel hole in the wall.

I know.

You don’t have to say it.

I have been beating myself up already over that one because guilt and questioning my spiritual tenacity is what I need at a time like this. Sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy.

There are times when we go through trials and we respond like this amazing woman whose husband has spent the past year in the hospital-choosing to see the blessings in every difficult situation. I wish I had reacted like her…..it’s all about gratitude, isn’t it?

But I didn’t. There are moments when we simply don’t do the right thing. Think the good thoughts. Say the best words.

Or go for a run.

Sometimes, we kick a hole in the wall instead.

To be honest, I didn’t want to listen to what God might have to say to me this morning. I was a reluctant and pouty daughter. But the truth is, when you belong to Jesus there’s nothing you can do to be separated from His love.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:31-39 (The Message)

You see, our enemy, Satan, wants us to believe that God doesn’t really love us. He wants us to crumple when tragedy strikes and waffle when burdens mount. And he loves to play guilt trips with our heads when we want to take a vacation from being the Christians we are called to be.

But God, does not.

He lets us strike out 70 times 7 and every time we step up to the plate again, He believes that we can knock it out of the park. And even when we want to simply cast aside the Christ-follower uniform because it feels too uncomfortable, He never removes our names from His roster.

Is there a chance that I’m not the only one who didn’t perform up to par this week? This month? Maybe this season of life?

God is graciously reminding me that His love for me is not dependant on anything I do, or don’t do. He loves me when I respond with loving-kindness and He loves me when I react in the flesh. And it’s that reckless loving-kindness that draws me to repentance every time.

The hole that was in my thinking is reflected in the hole in my wall.

Later today, I’ll patch it with mortar and cover the offense with paint. I’ll have to get down on my knees and do the work of making whole again what is broken. But there’s nothing more to do with my heart. It was made whole the day I gave it back to Jesus Christ so long ago. Love covers a multitude of sins, indeed.

So today, I’m dusting the dry wall off and sliding my feet back into my high-heels to run the race set before me and I know I’ll win because the victory is His. Even when I lose focus at times and forget my role in the big picture, I know how the story ends and that Jesus shares His prize with me…. and with you.

Tie your laces and meet me at the starting line, friends. We’ve got some running yet to do.

YOUR TURN! Is your race filled with land mines and you want to veer off track too? Let me know how I can pray for you!

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7 Steps To Radically Change Disobedient Kids Into Obedient Ones Without Conflict


7 Steps To Radically Change Disobedient Kids Into Obedient Ones Without Conflict

The pattern of parenting as a result of conflict or chaos is typical:

Parent has idea of the behavior they want but has not taken the time to train or communicate or is impatient with the timeline of maturity.

Child behaves in a way that is displeasing to the parent.

Parent gets angry or upset.

Parent punishes child.

Child is confused, upset, angry.

Child rebels.

Parent feels helpless and discouraged.

Next day, repeat.

One of the key problems I see in parenting today is the pattern of reactionary parenting instead of proactive parenting. Take a look at this checklist and see which of these describes your parenting style:


Assumes that the child is mature enough to know your expectations, even if you have not clearly communicated them in an age appropriate way or given them time to mature.

Observes the bad or undesirable behavior in the child and then tries to either punish the child or teach them in the heat of the moment or in the aftermath of conflict.

Becomes unrealistically exasperated when the child repeats the undesirable behavior again in the future.

Has feelings of hopelessness and frustration that lead to further inaction or more angry and abusive treatment of the child.

Lives in a place of fear and takes on too much responsibility for the child’s own choices.

Often has unrealistic expectations for the timeframe it takes for children to grow spiritually and developmentally.

Exasperates child by inconsistency and overly harsh or emotional reactions to child’s behavior.

Feels peer pressure instead of simply doing what they feel is best as the parent.


Observes a pattern of undesirable behavior and makes a plan to coach the child towards desirable behavior instead. (May require reading a book on the subject, getting insight from a mentor or pastor, or doing a Bible word search to look at verses on the topic from the Bible.)

Trains the child in times of calm and normalcy, not in the heat of the moment or as a result of conflict.

Is patient in training the child new and appropriate behavior.

Understands that parenting is a challenge and does not become easily discouraged, but looks forward to learning new techniques or methods to help their child mature, as long as it takes. Realizes that this is the parent’s “job” and is willing to make parenting a top priority.

Is confident that allowing natural consequences helps the child learn personal responsibility and does not take on unnecessary guilt or discouragement, instead allows the child to “suffer” at the hand of their poor choices, offering them empathy, compassion, and wisdom.

Realizes that it takes a CHILDHOOD to raise a CHILD and keeps the long term goal in mind.

Which of these types of parents describes you?

If there was one thing I wish more parents grasped, it’s that parenting is our “thing” as long as kids are in our home. That means that we must not simply coexist with one another, but as the parent, we should be first modeling respect, love, patience, kindness, and proper speech, and then proactively seek out ways to train our children in times of peace and calm.

The best parenting occurs outside of conflict and yet that is when we try to teach kids lessons-at the very moment when emotions are high and they are most resistant. That rarely works!

How would you like it if your boss showed up every time you made a mistake and treated you harshly instead of taking the time to put you through training first? Good bosses, coaches, teachers….and parents, set their employees, athletes, students, and children up for success!

As a teacher, if I gave a test to my students on the first day or even in the first month of school, and then when they failed, I raked them over the coals or if I tried to teach them in the aftermath of failure, I would have parents and administrators all over me, protesting my methods!

I must first have students enter my classroom, pique their interest, teach them a lesson that is grade-level-appropriate, encourage them and support them, give lots of practice sessions, evaluate where they still need teaching and guidance, and then ultimately give them a test. When they fall short, I lovingly and respectfully point out the areas of weakness while also giving them praise for their areas of mastery. And then, I offer them further teaching and guidance to help them improve.

If this is how we handle head knowledge, why don’t we do this with issues of the heart and other behaviors with one another in the home? How much more so we should see ourselves first as teachers and excellent coaches instead of disciplinarians who flounder in the wake of damage control!

Recently, one of my kids was struggling with talking back to me and showing disrespect in his tone of voice. First, I determined what I wanted from my child and then I applied the principles of Proactive Parenting in these 7 steps (The issue/expectations can be tailored to whatever behavior you are dealing with):

  1. I want my son to say, “Okay, Mommy, I hear you” when I ask him to do something.
  2. To speak in a “normal tone of voice” without whining or anger.
  3. I want him to know that he can respectfully then say, “May I ask you a question about this, Mom?” if there is something I have missed or if he needs further clarification. I will hear him out so he knows I am reasonable and value his thoughts. If his point is respectful and valid, I may change my mind or alter my decision. But, I may also then say, “Thank you. I hear you, but this is now my final answer. Please obey.” And that will be the end of it.
  4. I lovingly explain the behavior I want from my kids, even from a Biblical viewpoint, keeping it light and positive. Then, my goal is to both MODEL and PRACTICE with my kids. I take the time to role play with them, give them pointers, make it FUN, and praise them for the right behavior. I make a BIG DEAL about success and “test” them by setting up little practice sessions.
  5. When the real moment of conflict comes, they already know what I expect, have seen me model it with them, have practiced it outside of times of conflict, and have tools with which to use to feel that they have a voice in the situation while still showing me respect.
  6. I affirm their proper behavior! If they “fail the test” in the heat of the moment, I can lovingly but firmly remind them that this behavior is not acceptable or Biblical and then let them know that I will deal with it in a little while, or ask them to take some time in the Mercy Seat until we can talk calmly together. I remain calm, empathetic, loving, but consistent. I don’t resort to letting my emotions rule me or behave just like my child by losing control and throwing my own adult tantrum.
  7. I take time to prayerfully evaluate my methods and see if I need to come up with other creative ways to teach my child respectful language and tone of voice and then I continue to train them in times of peace and normalcy. I remain patient, not expecting perfection in the first day, week, month, or even year! It takes a childhood to train a child!

When we look at parenting as a joy and a privilege, we become optimistic about the future instead of discouraged. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of conflict but when we remember that it takes 18 years to mature, we don’t have to become exasperated by unrealistic expectations. Parents are often short-sighted and this will only lead to frustration and fear. We don’t need to internalize our child’s drama, instead we can look at them as the needy little people they are and share in the joy of the challenge to mold and shape them. Because their behavior is not personal, even though it may feel like it, we don’t need to react to it. Proactively take responsibility to train your children in the way they should go with joy and settle in for the long term goal of seeing your amazing and precious kids blossom into a healthy and happy adulthood.

YOUR TURN! Do you consider yourself a Reactionary Parent or a Proactive Parent? Why? What stood out to you from this post and how can you begin to make some proactive changes?

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When You Know You Need To Limit Video Games, But You’re Afraid Of Your Kids’ Reactions


When You Know You Need To Limit Video Games But You're Afraid Of Your Kids' Reactions

Along with my son’s birthday at the beginning of summer, came new video games for his XBOX 360.

The video game world is new to us-our oldest was nearly 8 before we allowed him any kind of gaming and that was just this year. We often set times to limit their video games and Sundays have been our screen-free days.

Still, it didn’t take long for us to experience first-hand the effects of gaming-changes in attitude (not the good kind!), begging and pleading when we have already set a limit to how long they could play, arguing over taking turns, and general fit throwing when it came time to put the controllers down.

Any of this sound familiar?

What I quickly began to realize is that in my sons’ immaturity, gaming was becoming an idol. They cared more about video games than anything else. I was beginning to wonder where my sweet boys went! It seemed like gaming was winning out over our values as a family.

As their mom, I knew that I needed to set some tight boundaries-not because I needed to control my kids with an iron fist, but because they simply were not capable of seeing the harm their behavior was causing the relationships in our family-between themselves as siblings, and towards mom and dad.

We have a little mantra at our house: Relationships over things.

If something we are involved in or obsessing over is harming a relationship, then we have to deal with it right away. When people become secondary to property, it’s time to do damage control! So, this past week we held the very rare family meeting and laid out some new ground rules and more importantly, why we were doing so. I’m going to share with you what we decided to do in case you are feeling that tug on your heart that you need to take a similar plunge.

Here’s what we told the boys:

Prepare Them

The night before, we let them know that we were going to have a family meeting the next day-we weren’t doom and gloom about it, just wanted them to know that was going to be an important time for us to talk about some “family stuff”. They nodded their heads-fine by them.

Positive Tone And Laying A Founation

First, we approached the conversation with an upbeat and positive attitude, not a serious scolding tone lest we lose and alienate our audience from the get-go. Then we reviewed Ephesians 6:1-3 to lovingly remind them that their role as kids is to obey mom and dad because God, in His love and wisdom knows that obeying us will result in a long and enjoyable life. I had each boy take turns reading a verse or answering some simple questions-short and sweet but keeping them engaged!

More head nodding. So far, so good.

Obey mom and dad because of our love for God? Check.

And because it will lead to an enjoyable life? Check.

New Guidelines

I then briefly explained that we were going to be doing something new for the month of August (mind you, this will most likely stay in place but this month is our experimental time). We reminded ourselves that people are important than things and that we need to be outside more and using our brains because that is healthy for our bodies and it honors God when we take care of ourselves.

Then, we took the plunge.

Keeping my tone of voice upbeat, I explained that they would each earn 30 minutes after 3:00 PM every week day to play an educational game or watch an educational YouTube video about a game (They could also play one of their FAVORITE games,  Just Dance , because it is physical and gets them exercising-fine by me!).

They can lose the privilege to play but I would give them fair warning if that was about to happen. In general, I don’t parent with the reward system because I don’t want kids to do the right thing to get something. I want them to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. But I also don’t want to remove games all together at this point, and in this area, it seemed a reasonable approach.

I then explained that on Saturday morning, they could play entertainment type games for an hour each. (But, it also meant that one of the gun-shooting games that I didn’t think was appropriate for my son would be off limits for all of this month-I didn’t share that in the family meeting because I knew it would be a big blow. I saved that conversation for a private talk with my oldest so that I could go into better detail and give him room to cry and grieve over it and I could focus on showing him empathy.)

Sundays would remain screen-free as in the past.

The Reaction

There were a few brave tears as the impact of these new guidelines sank in, but they cheered up a bit when I explained that they we were taking a special trip to Game Stop to buy a used copy of a mom-approved game they had been wanting for some time.  They would get to play the game that first Saturday!  This helped ease the wound a bit-phew! Which leads to this important next step…..

Set Them Up For Success

As the parent you have to prepare yourself for a few days of complaining, kids being “bored,” and general withdrawal-like symptoms. This part? Not fun, I won’t lie. But, it’s worth it-I promise! As the parent, it’s important not to take their frustrations personally or resort to your own irrational behavior. Take it all in stride and loving and gently stick to your decision. My kids and I both had to adjust and it was important for me to set them up for success.

Here are a few things I did to minimize whining:

Swap out old toys from the garage and bring them inside or set up outdoor activities so they have some “new” things to play with.

Playing Dodge Ball!

Plan a few play dates with friends, particularly outside at parks or at local pools etc.


Stop what you are doing more often to sit down with them to play board games or do crafts and artwork.

Playing Games!

Implement a reading time where older kids read to younger ones.

Reading Together!

Offer constructive options to them before they begin to complain about being bored.


Lovingly remind them when they are doing the right things, that you are proud of them and excited that they are earning their time to play a game later that day.

How Are We Doing After Week 1?

It hasn’t been a perfect transition but honestly, it has been much smoother than I anticipated. My husband forgot about our new guidelines one late morning and sure enough, I came into the room to kids playing video games. We regrouped and got back on track. No harm, no foul! Don’t let little hiccups or poor communication sabotage your new boundaries!

And guess what? My kids are cooperating with one another again. They are playing games with each other, being creative with imagination play, and getting outside on the swing set! I call that success!

We really are happier, after just a week of this new standard in our home. I’m wishing we had done this sooner! If you feel a sink in your gut when you think about your own family’s gaming habits, why don’t you join us in setting limits? Don’t let your fear of your kids’ reactions keep you from parenting them well!


 YOUR TURN! So tell me, do you feel like gaming is taking over your kids? Do any of these parameters seem like something you can try in your own home? What have you already done to set boundaries in your home and what is working for you?

Also, this post contains a couple affiliate links, so when you make any purchase through those links, my ministry gets a few cents at no added cost to you-thank you!!

UPDATE Week 2: Sweet relief-the boys aren’t asking me to play all.day.long. anymore. They already know that they will get 30 minutes at the end of the day. And, they don’t protest when the time is up! They are SATISFIED, people! Hallelujah! That’s what being reasonable, positive, and CONSISTANT does for you. This Saturday, my son wandered in to the living room all sleepy-eyed asking what we were going to do for the day. I reminded him that he gets a full hour to play his choice of entertaining games on his XBOX and he looked at me and said, “But why do I get a full hour?” I reminded him that it was Saturday and that that was the privilege he earned. He threw his arms around my neck in happiness and excitement-he had already FORGOTTEN that he gets this special time! And now? I’m a rock star in his eyes. Happy kids again…….happy mom.


Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:5-8

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