Parenting is STUPID HARD!


Sometimes I feel like I understand why wild animals eat their young.

“Ugh. Parenting is STUPID HARD sometimes!”

That was the beginning of a Facebook post recently. I hit another bump in the road of this parenting journey. I know we’ll get through this, but sometimes it’s such a huge struggle. It’s enough of a struggle to get the everyday demands of our lives taken care of, keep everybody moving forward in a positive direction, and try to do it with a smile on my face. Especially when all I want to do right now is SCREAM and STOMP MY FEET WILDLY!!!!

We’ve been in a similar situation before, so it makes this go ‘round even more frustrating. In addition, some lies and deception were uncovered. Oh, I asked the right questions. At the right time. For months. I was aware there could be a problem. That’s why I asked the questions. I trusted the answers and extended grace.

As we parent and grow our children I believe the boundaries we have in place get wider. When our kids are young, they have narrow boundaries. Right from wrong is taught, boundaries are enforced more frequently, there is a lot more oversight, and children learn how to navigate within the boundaries. When they cross them, there is swift correction.

As children get older, the boundaries begin to widen like the top of a funnel. They are given more trust and more freedom. More of a chance to practice staying in the boundaries before they’re out on their own. As parents, we’re still there to point them back to the center when they get too far off course.

This situation was off course. My instant reaction was anger. “HOW COULD YOU!” I wanted to take away every ounce of freedom and every convenience this child has been given. “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS?!” “HOW IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE?” “HOW DID YOU GET TO THIS POINT?!” “I ASKED! WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK FOR HELP!” “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH I HAVE GIVEN SO THAT YOU COULD DO WHAT?!!”

So!! Angry!!!

Some of those words may have come out.

I had to breathe. And breathe again. And take a little space. And breathe some more. And say more than a few prayers to know how to proceed.

While there are natural and imposed consequences to this situation, I want so much more for my child than consequences. I want them to clearly understand a boundary was crossed, but I don’t want them to simply learn to dance close to the boundary or to hide the evidence when the line is crossed. I don’t want them to get used to going so far off course they feel there is no way back or no help available. I don’t want them to get lost. I want them to know I always love them, always want what’s best for them, and will always fight for them.

So, some course correction is in order.

This isn’t to simply get out of a difficult situation nor is it to just barely get back in the “acceptable” boundaries. No, the goal is restoration. The goal is to make different choices in this life journey so that they may live a full life as the person they have been created to be. And I want to deal with the root issues of lying, deception, and hiding. Those are not descriptors I want for my children.

We had some hard conversations. My child was in so deep the reality of the situation could not be seen clearly. It was hard to point that out and see my child feel broken. But reality and crossed boundaries need to be understood. The potential ramifications in the future needed to be clearly considered as well. There were lots of tears.

There are still hard days ahead. We’ve written a contract with clear expectations and clear consequences. We’ve included daily steps and longer term steps so we see the progress as we move forward. I’m trying to show that little actions, every day, lead us forward on the journey. We can’t expect to leap forward to where we want to be without the hard work now. Nor can we ignore those little choices that are leading the wrong direction and expect them to somehow get better with time. No, personal action, in the right direction, is required.

I’m also working hard to create a safe place of clear communication so that we can rebuild trust. I want my children to come to me in the joys and struggles of life. I don’t want them to ever feel they are too far gone to receive my help and love.

This week I’m also incredibly encouraged by the outpouring of parenting solidarity, concern, hugs, laughter, and encouragement from friends. I am surrounded by an amazing group of people and that is such a huge blessing as I walk this parenting journey solo. I may be solo, but all of you make me realize I’m not alone. My sincerest gratitude and thank you to each of you.

Correcting a wrong course is hard and painful, but it can be done. I trust that my children and I will grow stronger in our relationship because we’re navigating this hard part of the path together, with His help.




All People Matter

people-eiffel-tower-lights-nightI have been troubled by all of the violence and terror in the world the last few months. I’ve started to write many different pieces about it. But before I finish one, another tragedy occurs. Horrible tragedies here in the Pacific Northwest; across the world in Paris; images of refugees with no home or hope; the shooting in San Bernardino; a presidential candidate promoting racism; and just today the closing of schools in LA due to bomb threats. The list could go on and on. Honestly, at times it makes me really frightened for the future world my children are growing into.

Social Media has made this world smaller. We have access to all of those images that we can’t ignore. Or look away from. Some of us share posts or tweets out of outrage. Some out of heartache. Others add the profile overlays to stand in solidarity. I know I did for Paris. Then others mock those who did, because they didn’t change their picture for every other tragedy.

I have even had people unfriend or unfollow me because apparently I didn’t react quick enough to respond to tragedy. Or stand up strong enough with my Christian values to affirm refugees, gay marriage, black lives or Muslims. I have such a mix of feelings over all of this. Not the issues, but the judgment of others. I seek first to understand, then to find common ground.

Here’s what I believe the common ground should be: all people matter. All people were created in the image of God. All people have value. Whether they’re from my part of the world or the slums of a foreign country. Gay or straight or somewhere in the middle struggling with their identity. All people including all the beautiful colors of skin and hair and eyes. And all the people that worship differently than I do. We all matter. We all sin. Yes, some have done horrendous acts that I can’t even begin to explain or understand. Yet I trust that God will judge them appropriately. That is not my job to judge anyone and I don’t want to live in fear of anyone.

It also doesn’t mean I passively sit or live a life of apathy. Just because I haven’t taken a stand for every cause on social media doesn’t mean I don’t care. I choose not to engage in a lot of rhetoric in social forums. Again, not because I don’t care, but because I would prefer to have a face to face discussion, so that you understand the heart of love behind all I do.

Most of these face to face discussion happen in my own home.

Because this is where changing the world starts. It starts with our own kids and raising a generation that knows what it means to be loved, listened to, cared for. A generation that knows how to love, care for and serve others.

Let it also start with you. Start the change in your own life, in your own home. Have discussion about the hard things. Decide together as a family what you can do, how you can give, where you can serve, or how you can pray. Trust, grow, be stretched, be challenged, and then model the same for your kids. Model mercy, compassion, and justice. Be honest with them when you don’t understand, when your heart hurts, when you’re confused, and even when you’re angry about social issues. Seek answers. Have discussions. Find answers in reputable sources. And still model love. Let it all show love.

Also, let’s let Facebook be the place to share the bright spots of our day and funny pictures of cats. Because funny pictures of cats make me laugh. Okay?



act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

Micah 6:8



God Redeems Even Ugly Parenting

IMG_0405Have you ever had one of those truly awful parenting moments? One that you think back on and shudder with regret? Remorse? Maybe you acted before thinking. Maybe you spoke words that wounded your child. Maybe your anger from another situation spilled over to your kids.   Perhaps you were overprotective and kept them from a situation that in hindsight would have been amazing. Maybe it was worse.

Let me first tell you this: We’ve all been there. Many times. Raising children is hard, messy business. And we never have it all figured out. Just when we think we’ve reached a place of understanding and maybe experienced a bit of auto-pilot with our kids and life, boom, it changes again. They grow and change. We hit difficult situations. We react. Sometimes in a way completely opposite of grace and love. Maybe we feel shame. Regret. Sadness. Depression. Anxiety.

As difficult as those situations and the consequences are, know this: God Redeems. Yes, He redeems us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. And he redeems all of these moments with our kids. Good and bad. Hard and difficult. Shameful and regretful. There are a few things I have learned through this process:

I can stand with confident expectation that God will use these ugly situations for His good. He will grow us through them. He will show us a new way when we’re open to His course correction. He will always walk beside us and be there for us.

Knowing and being reminded that He is there prompts me to ask for forgiveness. First, I ask Jesus to forgive my transgressions. Forgiveness for not walking with His heart and wounding His children. Then, I have to ask for forgiveness from my own children. Yes, even as parents we need to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness. We can apologize for our mistakes, talk about what we’re learning about ourselves and God through the situation, and we must ask for forgiveness.

I’m not saying this is an easy process. Asking our children for forgiveness can seem like an odd choice, but it’s a necessary choice.   As we do this we’re modeling Christ for our children. We’re modeling His heart to the children He has entrusted to us. During this time we know that we can rest in Him. He will be there, He will guide us, He will give us the words to say when we don’t even know what to say.

He alone is our source and we need to stay connected to Him rather than seeking affirmation, contentment or absolution elsewhere. When we have those ugly parenting moments we can be tempted to turn to our friends, get lost in addictions, or go into hiding from God.   Those may be easier in the short term, but so damaging in the long run. We need to know we can turn to Christ right in the situation. As soon as we recognize it.

Remember, you are not alone. Be encouraged, have faith, and trust that God will redeem even your ugly parenting moments.