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Seminary. Church work. Family. PiYo/Beachbody work. Volunteer work. BoCo RunCo work.

My life is crazy these days without much margin. I won’t say my life is not my own, because it is my own. I am here because I have chosen to follow this path. It definitely isn’t easy, and I have to be honest and say that I am struggling with the demands on my time, but it is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I was reminded of that very fact just this morning. During my prayer time I was working through some of the discipleship tools being offered to me through one of my seminary courses. I listened to Rachel Platten’s Fight Song (below), both this version and the version done by the Piano Guys, read Rachel’s back story about this song, and then spent some time with Psalm 84.

Through this and some insight from our professor, I was reminded of what it took for me to get to this place. I have fought with God over whether or not He really meant to call me to be a pastor. I have struggled with verbalizing this call to my family and friends. I have ben knocked down by things like lack of support and imperfect systems. I even went through a very tough time of simply waiting for three years and seeing no forward progress at all.

Through that time I had a post-it note that stuck on my computer monitor reminding me, “Your calling is sure,” words that the Lord had given to me through a variety of sources.

When the time of waiting was over and movement began again, it didn’t always feel like forward momentum. In fact, there was a period of time that felt like I was punched in the gut and left for dead. But God was still at work marking out a new journey on new pathways.

The new journey hasn’t moved quickly and easily either. My husband says, “It seems like anything worthwhile isn’t easy,” and I agree. There are still many fears to conquer, mountains to climb, and opposition to face, but I cannot let the fight go out of me. I have to push forward (in God’s timing), follow-through, do my part, and watch as God fulfills His promises.

Part of Psalm 84 (VOICE) says “Blessed are those who make you their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey…They journey from place to place, gaining strength along the way; until they meet God in Zion. (Bold mine.)

These words were especially important today as I feel weak and worn down, trying not to fall into the “just get through” mentality that can sometimes plague me into not treasuring every step of the journey. So the reminder that I will gain strength along the way is a beautiful one for me today. I won’t continue to wear down as I go, but I will gain strength as I go.

This fight that I have to finish the journey isn’t one I fight alone, but rather one that God fights right along side me. He gives me the strength to fight. He gives me the path to follow. He gives me the truth to believe.

I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

Bring it on.

Fight Song
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion
And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe
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When did we become a culture that thinks so highly of our (individual) selves that we no longer respect those who are in authority?This has been bugging me lately.

When did we become a culture that thinks so highly of our (individual) selves that we no longer respect those who are in authority?

I have seen it getting worse for years.

There is always someone who doesn’t think they have to wait in the pick-up line at school, despite the fact that the principal has asked that parent’s don’t drive around those in front of them so that accidents can be avoided.

There is always someone who doesn’t think they have to use the left lane on the interstate as a passing lane only.

There is always someone who doesn’t think that the answer they were given by one person is good enough so they have to go find someone else and see if they can force them to give the “right” answer.

I read somewhere on the inter webs that Mark Twain once said, “Don’t go around saying that the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Whether or not he actually said it, it is true. We don’t “deserve” anything. Why do we think we are owed something? Why do we think we are above what those placed in authority have said? Why do we think if we push hard enough, or attempt enough end runs we can evade what the authorities have deemed important?

The results of this kind of mind-set are children who don’t respect authority – elders, teachers, police, etc. – and why is that?

Because they are mirroring the behavior that their parents have set forth.

A child is failing a class? It must be the teacher’s fault, so the parents yell at the teacher. And when they don’t get the answer they want, they yell at the principal. And when that doesn’t work, they head on over to the superintendent or a school board member.

It needs to stop. Romans 13:1-7 says:

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.

Do people in areas of leadership screw up? Sometimes! Do they take advantage of their power? Sometimes! But that doesn’t change the fact that we are supposed to respect and honor those who are in authority over us. We will answer for our transgressions. Those in authority will answer for theirs.

Our job is not to usurp their authority and try to get our way when we don’t like how it affects us. Our job is to be respectful, not rebellious.

It is time to start looking at our behavior and the example we are setting or our children and make sure that we aren’t walking around thinking we are the exception to every rule, we are entitled to what we want, and we don’t have to listen to those in authority. And those of us in authority have to start being responsible and trustworthy. Because unless something changes, the path we are headed down will lead us to a world that none of us want to live in.

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Playing Dumb & FragileSavor by Shauna Niequist. I love this devotional. It makes me think. It resonates with me. It gives me recipes. And the daily readings are short. Short is good when you are as busy as I am.

Sometimes as I read them I get fired up. And this was one of the ones that got me fired up. It might have something to do with the fact that I am a girl raising a girl. And that I so badly want to influence young girls and young women to grow into the women that they were created to be rather than falling prey to the pervasive influence of our sex-crazed culture where the gender divide still is quite evident in many ways.

  • Why do women think they have to rely on their looks to get what they want?
  • Why do women think they have to dress with their shirt cut down to there and their skirt cut up to here to draw attention?
  • Why do women think they need to play the part of the “weaker” sex to attract men?
  • Why do women have to worry about being seen as “bitchy” if they have a strong personality?
  • Why do women have to worry about offending a man if they are in a place of leadership (particularly true in the church, but still entirely too true in the corporate world as well)?

The answer is the same as the one as spoken and sung by the character Lieutenant Cable in the musical South Pacific. The song, “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” is preceded by a line saying racism is “not born in you! It happens after you’re born…” The same is true for the ways in which women behave, and are perceived by other women and men. We are all taught how we are to behave and fit into the world around us based on how our parents raise us, our peers influence us, and the culture defines us. And the only way this changes from generation to generation is when we stand up and say, “enough is enough,” and choose to teach ourselves and our children a new way to operate within the world around us.

That means not perpetuating the dumb and fragile persona. That means teaching our daughters to be strong, and dress appropriately. That means doing things that make us feel beautiful, but not just to garner attention and teaching our daughters to do the same. That means teaching our sons to respect women for more than their looks and teaching them not to assume that any woman is unable to do something. But it also means teaching them to be attentive and offer to help in such a way that doesn’t demean or shame women. It means teaching our families that authority in leadership has nothing to do with male or female, and no matter what, you listen to the authority figure.

We have all been carefully taught how to be women and men. And like it or not, we are carefully teaching our children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and other young people that we influence. Let’s decide here and now that we are going to be intentional in how we communicate our values – not only in this area of sexism, but in all areas of our lives.

 

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I have been turning this idea over and over in my head lately, mostly because I can’t seem to create any.

Balance.

Work. Kids. Kids’ activities. Kids’ activities for which I need to be present. Husband. Home. Bills. Business. Fitness. Health. Cooking. Friends. Facebook. (We have to be honest, Facebook is a thing on the balance list.) Sleeping. Laundry. Netflix. (Yes, Netflix is a thing, too.) Running. Social life. (Wait – do I have a social life?) Hebrew. Did I mention Hebrew?

There’s probably more. I am sure I am forgetting something. I can’t keep all those plates spinning all the time. Some of them come crashing to the floor. Hard. And often. And when that happens, I tend to beat myself up. Hard. And often.

I like what Jen Hatmaker says about balance in her most recent book, For the Love:

If I had to recite the top questions I’m asked in interviews, conversations, and e-mails, certainly included would be this one: How do you balance work and family and community? And every time, I think: Do you even know me? Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing. Here is part of the problem, girls: we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories. No one constructed fairy-tale childhoods for their spawn, developed an innate set of personal talents, fostered a stimulating and world-changing career, created stunning homes and yardscapes, provided homemade food for every meal (locally sourced, of course), kept all marriage fires burning, sustained meaningful relationships in various environments, carved out plenty of time for “self care,” served neighbors/ church/ world, and maintained a fulfilling, active relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior. You can’t balance that job description.

unicorn

She’s right, you know. Balance is like that mythical unicorn. It doesn’t exist. There will be times in our lives when we are more attentive to one or two areas of our lives and less attentive to others. And those areas will naturally change as our lives progress.

The problem comes when we start the ugly comparison game. This game was a losing one before social media, but has become downright destructive in the current online culture. We see everyone’s best posted on Facebook. We see all the great ways to be a wonderful parent, sexy wife, efficient worker, gourmet chef and bikini model all over Pinterest. We see everyone else’s selfies of girls nights out on Instagram. And when we do, we start comparing our lives to everyone else’s and assuming we fall short. But what we don’t realize is that we are only seeing a small sliver of everyone else’s life through a filtered lens. Sure, they may be doing a great job homeschooling their children, but behind closed doors could be suffering a severe bout of depression. Maybe they have a fantastic relationship with their husband, but they are struggling with an enormous debt load.

The point is that we all struggle with balance and none of us achieve it, or if we think we have, it lasts a millisecond and is gone. The real problem isn’t balance, but rather giving ourselves permission to focus on what is the most important and, to quote a song I am sure we are all tired of hearing, say “Let it go” to what isn’t on the top of the priority list right now.

For me right now that might mean that I have to study Hebrew instead of watching an episode (or 10) of House on Netflix. It might mean that I don’t get to go to the 50,000 in-home parties that my friends have because I have a volleyball game to watch or a PiYo class to teach. The important thing to remember is that we can’t do it all, and we shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on ourselves. Living a busy life with many commitments is hard. Living that same life under the shadow of constant guilt for not doing or being enough is impossible and eventually will take its toll.

So, take heart and remember that while the picture of the unicorn is beautiful, it is in fact fictional, just like the idea of balance in the life of a busy human being. Give yourself grace, stop with the guilt, and do your best at what is most important today. Tomorrow you can re-evaluate what needs to be most important then.

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One of my favorite bloggers, Jenny Lawson of thebloggess.com, released her second book yesterday. It is called Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things. In it, Jenny talks about her lifelong battle with mental illness. Humorously. Sounds like an interesting combination, doesn’t it?

Jenny says that, “We all get our share of tragedy or insanity or drama, but what we do with that horror is what makes all the difference.”

We are all broken. For some of us it takes the form of mental illness. For others it is physical. Sometimes it is in our relationships with others. Sometimes it is in our relationships with ourselves.

But the thing that Jenny encourages us all to do is to choose to be Furiously Happy. To be irrationally joyful and vehemently happy. This is sometimes easier said than done, but when we can’t pull that off on our own, we can always read a chapter of Jenny’s book. Because it will make you laugh.* I promise.

Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir made me laugh out loud. Often. Her blog and book have been a source of (edited) readings to my family and friends. So if you like humor, she is a good source for it.

But what has really drawn me to Jenny’s work is the fact that she taught me this: depression lies. Over and over again when I am in the midst of a rough patch, I remind myself that depression lies. It says things to me like:

  • You aren’t good enough.
  • You are a terrible wife/mother/health & fitness coach/pastor/housekeeper/[insert lots of other things here].
  • The best thing for you to do is just give up and lay on the couch binge-watching Netflix.
  • You loser, you just spent the entire evening on the couch binge-watching Netflix!
  • You will never get better.
  • You are going to fight me the rest of your life.

But when I remind myself that depression lies, eventually I can get to a place where I replace the lies of depression with the TRUTH of who I am.

  • I am good enough.
  • I am a good wife/mother/health & fitness coach/pastor/housekeeper/[insert lots of other things here].
  • Sometimes it is okay to rest on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. But today, I can binge-watch while I clean up the living room.
  • I am not a loser for letting the couch call me in to its warmth. I am not a loser for binge-watching Netflix. Sometimes a busy woman needs some down time.
  • I will get better.
  • Even when it puts up a fight, I will win over the depression.

Sometimes it is hard to get to this place of speaking TRUTH over the lies of depression, but the more I remind myself of the lies, the more the truth is able to be heard.

I have been walking through this journey for a long time now, and recently have walked through it with a friend who doesn’t yet recognize the lies of depression. I am trying to help her learn this very important lesson. One that I was able to learn because Jenny shared her story.

I am not saying that simply by reading a book you can conquer your own mental illness battle, but I am saying that you get to choose how you will overcome. I choose to be Furiously Happy.

I am broken because depression lies.

I am Furiously Happy because I am a Daughter of the King.

Will you share your broken and happy stories with me today?

*Disclaimer: If you are easily offended by bad language, find a different book or blog to read that makes you laugh. Because Jenny isn’t afraid to throw out strong language.

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Coming off of a weekend of craziness tends to lead to a Monday that is rough. So, in order to combat the “Monday Blues” here are some of my thoughts today.

  • Theme parties are fun. Plan one. Invite friends – old and new. Plan a fun menu. Throw in some silly dress-up items. Have fun. Last month we did an 80’s party. This weekend was Hawaiian. Don’t stress over it. Just let it happen. You will be glad you did.
  • Pineapple Cheese Ball Hawaiian Party Friends
  • When was the last time you tried something new? I went down to Forest Park and watched a movie on Art Hill Friday. It was the first time I had done that. Was the traffic terrible? Absolutely. Was the parking situation less than ideal. Most certainly. But watching “Clueless” with friends on the hill outside in the beautiful weather was so much fun and worth the trip.
  • Sometimes you just have to kick off your shoes and dance. Even in the summer heat. Even if you get soaked with sweat. Even if you and your friend are the only two on the dance floor. It does wonders for your soul.
  • And my public service announcement for the day via Jen Hatmaker is this:

Happy Monday everyone!

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I had a great month of blogging in October 2014. It is now June 2015. Since the end of October I just quit blogging. No real reason, just haven’t done it.

But I need to do it. Blogging helps me process ideas. Blogging keeps me motivated. Blogging makes me work on my writing.

So, I am adding it back to my to-do list. At least once a week. Baby steps to get me back into my routine of three times a week.

Here goes. And it’s Monday, so here are my musings for today.

  • My daughter graduated from 8th grade last week which means I have not only a teenager, but one that is going into high school. Not to mention my son is headed to junior high. It blows my mind how fast time has gone, but I am so grateful and proud of the young woman and young man that they are becoming. Spending the day with each of them for their end-of-school-year trips gave me another opportunity to watch them interact with their friends and be thankful that they are making wise choices in friends and in life.
  • Planning events is amazingly fun for me. I love to pull together details and people to make something happen. But what is even more fun is watching it come together to make a memorable event. I got to do just that last week for my daughter’s 8th grade class. Watching them dance, laugh, take silly photos, and otherwise have a great time made my night.
  • In 37 days I will be at 1 year since I began (again) a journey of transformation following my knee injury and surgery. PiYo became for me a gateway to a life-change I could never have anticipated. I had a goal of becoming certified to teach this extraordinary class in 2015 and realized that goal at the end of February. I have been teaching for over two months now and I LOVE it. In addition, PiYo, 21-Day Fix, 21-Day Fix Extreme, Shakeology, and various 30-day challenge groups I have run have helped me to achieve a 50+ pound weight loss.
  • This summer I am excited to be starting a health and wellness program for the youth in our community. I am in the midst of research and writing curriculum and planning schedules and in two weeks we will begin. I am looking forward to teaching and sharing what I have learned with them, hoping and praying that we can help them see how important it is to care for both their physical and spiritual health. Partnering my passions for Jesus and for health is amazing, and being able to do this program by also building partnerships and relationships with other organizations in the community makes it even better!
  • I love lists. I love to check things off of lists when they are complete. And when I make lists, I am very good at following through and completing the tasks listed. But when I don’t make lists, I get all kinds of distracted by whatever pops into my head. So I am working on my list-making this summer. When I am working on one task and another one pops up, instead of chasing that rabbit, I will simply add it to my to-do list for later, and keep focused on the task at hand. And my new favorite app for lists is Wunderlist. Not only can I make myself to-do lists, but I can also SHARE the lists with others. My hubby and I are currently sharing our grocery list so whoever has a chance to run to the store can grab what is on the list. When we think of things we need, we add it to the list. When we purchase something on the list, we check it off. Simply amazing.

What are you musing about on this Monday? Questions in your mind? Things you are grateful for? Fun you had over the weekend? Goals you are setting for yourself this month? Let me know in the comments!

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Monday Musings

It’s Monday. And I am feeling a bit Garfield-like about today.

Garfield Monday

Not that anything bad has happened. I am just tired. And getting sick. And blah.

So instead of drowning in “I hate Monday” madness, I thought I would share a few random things that are going through my head today.

  • The laughter of my children is the most amazing sound in the entire world. And I was privileged to hear lots of it this weekend.
  • If you like fun apps, you need to download Relay. My friends and I have been sending funny gif messages back and forth since we discovered it and I may have spent too much time yesterday looking for funny ones to add to my collection for future messages.
  • If you like books about strong women paired with fantasy, you need to read Pennyroyal Academy. I just started it a few days ago and haven’t had a ton of time to read, but I am loving it and can’t wait for Anne to read it, too. Nothing like squelching the idea that princesses have to be of a royal bloodline and are just pretty faces with the fact that princesses are warriors for their kingdoms, just like knights.
  • When the weather turns cold, the depression sure comes on fast for me. I have had to fight to get my workouts in this past week, and I have not done very well with eating right, either. Here’s to a new day of doing what I know helps to keep the depression under control – exercise and eating right!
  • Singing at the top of my voice to some of my favorite music is one of my favorite things to do, ever. Thank you Trisha Yearwood for music that fills my soul!
  • A good cup of tea makes me smile this time of year when the cold is starting to seep into my bones. These are my three favorite varieties: Trader Joe’s Decaf Irish Breakfast Blend, Good Earth Decaf Sweet & Spicy, and Stash Decaf Chai Spice.
  • I have been working on a crochet project just because it is a pattern I have always wanted to try, but I have been looking for a new gift project and this week I was blessed with not only a person on my heart for whom to do a project, but the perfect project placed right into my hands. I found the perfect yarn yesterday and am looking forward to beginning on the project on Thursday. So excited to be able to bless someone!!
  • For the last few years, my family has done various forms of daily Thanksgiving. We have had a wall of Thanksgiving where we added post-it notes every day. We have had posters on each of our doors that we wrote reasons we were thankful for each other. This year, life has been a bit chaotic and I haven’t gotten anything organized to do daily, so I am thinking about other ideas. Right now, I am thinking of making family “Thanksgiving” trees on Thanksgiving day with all of our family that will be together. How are you practicing Thanksgiving with your family this month?

I warned you that this would be a random post! But just putting these things down in print has helped me move past my initial Garfield-esque response to Monday. If you are having a case of the Mondays, perhaps you should make a list, too!!

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Inspiration

Parenting is hard. It is constant work. You can’t let it slide. You can’t assume it is happening. You have to work to be on your toes and aware of what is happening with your kids.

And we all fall short of that ideal. Often.

Some days we are lucky if we get them out of bed and off to school, never mind making sure homework is done, they have had a healthy breakfast and they remembered to brush their teeth.

But the purpose in me blogging for 31 Days this month isn’t to make it seem like I have it all together when it comes to parenting. It isn’t that I have all the answers. It isn’t that I think I am doing a fabulous job in every possible area. It is really that I want to share my experiences and hopefully inspire someone to take that extra step, put in that extra work, and in the process, that I will also be inspired to be better and do better.

This is how it is in every area of my life that I put out there on my blog.

I talk about depression in hopes that someone else can get the help that they need.

I talk about health and fitness so others can find encouragement to get healthy.

I talk about giving to others, so that someone might be inspired to give of themselves.

I talk about music because of its ability to lift us up and move us forward.

I talk about faith because it is the ultimate inspiration in my life.

I truly want to inspire YOU to be the best YOU, the one created and loved by God.

Put in the work, be inspired by others, and be the best parent you can possibly be to the children that God has given to you.

You can do it. I believe in you.

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I learned pretty quickly into this parenting thing that I can’t do it.

I like order. I like plans. I like things to turn out the way I want them to turn out. That means that I want my children to be perfect and do exactly what I want them to do, when I want them to do it. I expect them to breeze through school and life and faith because I am the perfect mom and am doing everything right. Right?

Oh, how naive I was when beginning this parenting thing!

Guess what? These little people have this thing called “free will” and they exert it. Strongly. At all times. And their will often does not line up with my will for them. It is in those moments that I want to beat my head (or their’s) up against the wall.

So, if I can’t do this parenting thing, that must mean that there is help, right? Absolutely! God, the giver of these little lives into our hands, is right there, ready and willing to help us bring them up in the way they should go. He has told us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. That is why prayer is the most necessary part of parenting. We can ask for AND RECEIVE the wisdom that we need to raise these children. But often, we don’t have any idea where to begin when praying for our kids.

When my kids were young, I found a book called The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian (link below). This short and easy to use guide-book to praying for my children has been an amazing resource for me over the years. I even have a friend who typed out all the prayers and inserted my children’s names into them, so I could have a neat little notebook of pre-printed prayers to use. These 30 prayers have been prayed over my children multiple times in their lives. Do I use them every day? No. But I do pull them out when I can, and work through them, sometimes as a part of my devotional time of an evening. These prayers cover a myriad of topics that we don’t always think about praying for our children.

As much as I would like to have concentrated time every single day to go through those prayers, I have two kids and a life, so often my prayers instead are short bursts throughout the day as I think of my kids and specific things they are going through. Right now things like an infection in Ty’s tongue, Ty’s struggles with talking too much in class, and Anne’s fears about re-breaking her thumb when she gets cleared for sports without having to wear her brace, are at the forefront in my daily prayers for my kids. These prayers are often just quick shots to the Lord as I think of them throughout the day.

In addition, I am also participating in 21-Days of Prayer for Boys (see MOB society link below) during the month of October. Ty turns 11 in just a few days, so what a wonderful birthday gift to him for me to participate in an intentional month of praying for him, as a boy. I don’t really know how to parent a boy. I was the oldest of three girls and had three nieces and a daughter before Ty was the first boy to join our immediate and extended family. Boys are different from girls. No, boys are WAY different from girls. Remember this nursery rhyme?

Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
Sugar and spice and all things nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

I think they left out running (never walking), jumping (onto and off of everything), dirt, grime, sticky, unending energy, messy, hard-headed, strong-willed, and bottomless pits to the boys’ section!

I wasn’t prepared for such a difference between boys and girls, and so Ty often gets those cry out to God prayers of, “Help me, Lord, to know how to parent this boy!” That is why this 21-Days of Prayer for Boys is going to be so good for me! I get to hear from other moms of boys and know that we are all praying together for our sons for the specific areas for which boys need prayer.

There are many resources we have to go to when we don’t quite know how to pray for our children, which is good, because we can’t do this parenting thing without it. Prayer is what gets to the heart of the matter. Prayer is what gives us strength in our moments of weakness as parents. Prayer is our front line of defense for our children.

How are you praying for your children today? Let’s share some prayer requests in the comments so that we can also pray with one another for our kids!

Resources on praying for your children:

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