The one parenting question you need to answer

A few weeks ago I learned why we don’t often visit Bruce at work. Taking all four boys to eat lunch with Bruce to celebrate Quade’s 7 1/2 birthday and Knox’s 1st birthday was two bananas shy of a fruit basket.

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Watts greeted Bruce’s employees by lifting up his shirt. Price proceeded to pour salt & pepper out on to the table. Knox celebrated his birthday rightly by dropping his glass bottle on the floor and smashing it to pieces (like a Greek wedding celebration…opah!).

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had a ticket to attend dotMOM, a mom conference, that weekend. The conference actually started around the same time my boys were running circles around a lunchroom table. But I chose to skip the first keynote session with Angie Smith (one of my faves) and fulfill my motherly birthday duties. 

Later that night I finally arrived at dotMOM just as Travis Cottrell began leading worship (one of my highlights by the way). Unlike Angie Smith, a name I was quite familiar with, I had never heard of the evening keynote speaker before.

Apparently, John Croyle, used to play football at Alabama. The first question in my head was, “What could an ex-football player teach me about motherhood?” (arrogant much, Heather?).

Then as Big Mama & Boo Mama introduced John and gave his bio, I had the following inner monologue: “How could his oldest child be 57, when that’s about how old he looks? Did I just hear him say he has 26 children in college? And excuse me, how many total children does he have? over 1800?”

Then John Croyle explained he owns a ranch in Alabama for children who have been orphaned, neglected or abused (ohhhh). A ranch he started instead of pursuing a professional football career (maybe I judged him a little prematurely). He shows these children a love they’ve never known and gives them a hand up to a better life. When they arrive at the ranch John tells them four simple truths:

  1. I love you.
  2. I will never lie to you.
  3. I will stick with you till you are grown.
  4. There are boundaries. Don’t cross them.

How awesome are those?

This ex-football player really knocked this momma over the head with truth when he shared the ONE question he believes shapes every parent’s actions.

You ready? Here it is: 

“What are you afraid of for your children?”

Stop and think about it. What are you afraid of?

While I sat in the large conference room my immediate answer was:  I’m afraid of what people think about my boys. I’m afraid of them getting permanently hurt. I’m afraid of messing them up. I’m afraid they won’t pursue God as adults.

John Croyle argues, “If you don’t get control of your fear, your fear will conquer you. If you are afraid of your children not measuring up. Let that go because it’s not your line to draw. God’s got His line of what He wants your kids to be.”

powerful stuff.

John’s words lingered in my mind for days after…”What am I afraid of for my children?”. Taking note of my behavior, in light of my fears, I realized my actions often didn’t show my true desire to love, cherish and nurture my boys…for instance:

  • Getting upset that toys were left out–>fearful they will become adult slobs & fearful I’m not a good wife if I don’t keep the house clean.
  • Losing my temper because one brother hurts another brother (again)–> fearful there is more evil than good in their hearts.
  • Becoming Impatient when I have to keep nagging them to get ready to go–> fearful of how it looks when we are consistently late.
  • Embarrassed and then controlling when the boys act a little “wild” in public–> fearful others will think I’m a bad mom.

Yes, I want to train my boys to have good habits…but training in grace (not fear). Yes, I want to help them love one another…but by showing them gentle love. Yes, we need to be on time to commitments…but not because we need to impress others. Yes, we need to have self-control out in public…but not because we are consumed with man’s approval.

John’s right. “Guilt & fear are Satan’s biggest weapons.” Fear is robbing me the joy of mothering these precious boys. Because when I look back at the pictures above I see their smiles and realize they weren’t being “bad”… just being boys…in an office cafeteria.

Over and over in the Bible we read, “Do not fear”. Do. not. fear. “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” It all comes down to John’s last bold statement:

“You are a daughter of a King. Act like it!” -John Croyle

I’m already loved by the King of the Universe. Time to put on that big girl tiara and start believing it.

How do you manage your fears? Do you have Scripture memorized? Do you rationalize why your fear is unrealistic? Do you realize how much you are loved already?

Let’s tackle our fears ladies! for the children.

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Grace for Your Reality, not Your Imagination

In searching through some old journals God continued to speak to my fear.

Eight years ago I attended a women’s retreat at our church. A godly women, Vickie Kraft** was our speaker.

On my notes I scribbled the words: “What does God expect from us in crisis”…

The first thing: DO NOT BE AFRAID!

To “actively resist fear”, just as I had learned from Amy fighting her voices.

“When I am afraid,

I put my trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

As I read this familiar Scripture I notice the repeated words: “trust” sandwiched between “fear”. When I am afraid, I will trust. And when I trust, I will not be afraid. I overcome fear with the decision to trust.

Fear doesn’t have to be big to be a problem…

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Fear can begin in its smallest form: worry. Vickie paints a picture in the quote above, of the path I create for other emotions and thoughts to travel when I worry. Even my smallest fears, invading my mundane as worry, require trust. 

 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Again this familiar verse involves repeated words: worry & tomorrow. Sandwiched between worry is tomorrow. Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself. Just do today. Don’t allow even a trickle of fear for tomorrow to enter your mind.

I absolutely LOVE what Vickie shared with us next,

There is no grace for your imagination.

There is grace for your reality.

When I worry about tomorrow, I am imagining what could happen. But I have NO idea what will occur 24 hours from now. Any thought I have about tomorrow’s concerns is imagined. Any feeling of fear I have comes from ignoring my reality. Not being fully present.

Next time I start to worry about the boy’s future selves–> STOP. That’s imagined. No grace.

Start to worry about what other’s think–> STOP. That’s imagined. No grace.

Start to worry about how a child could get hurt–> STOP. That’s imagined. No grace.

Instead be fully present. This moment, right now, is a gift. A gift of grace. It’s not imagined. It’s reality.

Do you struggle with worry or fear? Today when your mind starts to project and imagine what “could” happen, stop yourself, and repeat, “no grace for my imagination”. 

**Our women’s conference speaker was Vickie Kraft, a mother of five grown children. She obtained a seminary degree from Dallas Theological Seminary after her children left home (I think one of the oldest graduates). Began Titus 2:4 ministries, wrote three books (including “Women mentoring Women”) and for 14 years was our church’s women’s minister.