The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, by Stormie Omartian

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Nothing will make you feel like you got something all wrong like a prodigal child.

And often the only thing you can do for a prodigal is PRAY.

Wait. Keep. Your. Mouth. Shut.

Because:

  • You can’t fix them – only God can – there is a hard line between letting an adult child learn a difficult lesson and helping them get back on their feet.
  • God can change everything! “If you have never prayed for your adult child before, or if some bad things have happened to him or her before you learned how to pray, do not be troubled. God is a redeemer.  Redemption is His specialty. God will redeem a troubling situation in our lives when He is invited to do so.” Stormie Omartian
  • There is only ONE perfect parent, and you’re NOT it.  When we send our children out into the world most of us have done the best we could.  We taught them right from wrong.  We equipped them.  We have to stop beating ourselves up over mistakes our adult child(ren) may make. They have free will just like we do. We have to trust that the Lord can teach them what we failed or didn’t know to teach them. God can redeem them and teach them what they need to learn. God often does that through trials, suffering and consequences. We need to stay out of the way and just PRAY!

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Why I read this book…

I co-led a group of moms in a study of this book about 10 years ago. My children were just coming into adulthood.

Since then I’ve prayed for my adult children to remain faithful to God’s Kingdom, know the future God has for them, to choose godly mates, understand God’s purpose for their lives, for good health, for safety as 3 sons are in the military, to resist evil and temptation, to be good parents, and much more. This excellent book addresses the why and how to pray for these things.

Recently, during a particularly difficult time in one of our children’s lives, I literally prayed the written prayers found on these pages…because it was the only thing I knew to do. When we do not know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, or we simply pray what someone else before us has prayed.

I highly recommend this book!  Stormie Omartian is well known for her many books on prayer, for moms, for wives, husbands, parents, grandparents, for whatever stage of life we are in.

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp

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This book has a profound message!

I used to think I had the power to change my children. That if I followed the prescribed parenting formula they would be perfect.

Where was this book when I had four boys, 5 and under, homeschooling and struggling to stay on top of everything!

It’s never too late to change direction and make a change in your parenting techniques. It doesn’t matter what age your children currently are.

It will help you to stop blaming yourself for how your children may have turned out and give you tools to help them…and yourself.

Author, Paul David Tripp, shares such a practical, God ordained message, not only on parenting but on life in general, that we can’t afford to miss what he says.

Whether you are getting ready to parent your first child, are in the middle of parenting a whole bunch of kids, if you are a teacher, a youth leader, an empty nester or a grandparent, you need to read this book! Highly recommended.  Click here to order a copy.

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Why I read this book…

I’m considered a “senior citizen” (just barely though) and all my children are adults, most with children of their own, so why am I reading a parenting book?

Because God is still parenting me and I still have a lot to learn!  Time, age…but mostly years of realizing how much I need grace and mercy from my Heavenly Father, helped me develop a more grace-filled parenting approach.

“Personal contact with Jesus alters everything!” Oswald Chambers

Always Have Cupcakes Ready

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My husband and a friend had stopped by the local grocery store. Suddenly, spotting a homeless man, my husband’s friend jumped out of the car and said he would be right back. My husband watched his friend retrieve several bills from his wallet and hand them to the homeless man. No questions asked, no advice given. My husband didn’t say a word as his friend returned to the car but his friend said, “I would be just like that if it weren’t for my wife!” This man is a successful businessman. He is a genius with computers, an inventor. But he is also bipolar and without his wife’s dedicated efforts to help manage his medication, encourage regular counseling and connection to a mature Christian men’s support group, he indeed would be homeless and living on the street. He is grateful. Grateful for someone who cares enough to stay involved in his life even though it is very difficult and challenging. He is grateful his wife won’t allow him to “function on his own terms.”

Many of us are impatient and don’t understand those who continuously struggle and fail. I put myself in this category! I have to daily remind myself that…

I would be in the exact same situation

I often see others struggling with,

were it not for Jesus!

I struggled. A. Lot. Until Jesus reached out a hand and helped me up. I had to take that hand but He was patient with me, giving me chance after chance and then another chance.

When I didn’t recognize the hand of Jesus, He sent His people, people just like you and me, people like my husband’s friend. Those people were the hands and feet of Jesus.

My childhood family was dysfunctional due to mental illness. I often felt alone.  Unloved.  It caused me to do a lot of things I regret. Some of the consequences of those poor choices can never be removed.  But they can be used.  We don’t have to hide that brokeness.  God can take even the broken pieces of our life and make something beautiful out of it.  I didn’t know Jesus then. But today I believe He was there watching over me. Taking care of me.

At the end of my sophomore year in high school, I was suffering the natural consequences of a lot of bad decisions. I had to set out the fall semester of my junior year.

When I returned to school in the spring of my junior year I had to fit into a new class agenda and my whole friend group was basically on another schedule. A lot of them were still my friends, but I was different. So on February 9, 1972 (my 17th birthday) I found myself sitting alone at a lunch table in the school cafeteria. My friends were also on a different lunch schedule. I was feeling sorry for myself.

I was surprised and a little shocked when I looked up and saw Mr. Mathias standing beside my chair. He had a cupcake, with candles and decorations, in his outstretched hand.

“Happy Birthday Deb! Thought you could use a little encouragement,” he said.

Today the memory of this event brings tears to my eyes. That day I said thank you but didn’t know what to think. As a mature Christian, I know Jesus sent Mr. Mathias with the cupcake. Mr. Mathias didn’t give me a lecture. He wasn’t critical in any way. He was always kind, not just on that day but on every day. He simply just found a way to express kindness and acceptance and carried it out.

Mr. Mathias was my highschool history teacher. I was a good student and enjoyed his classes. He didn’t see me as someone who made bad choices or someone who had made one too many mistakes. He could see past that fact and see me for what I might become and he went out of his way to do even one small thing that would be an encouragement. He went out of His way to find out my birthday and plan something special for me. He didn’t have to do that.

What if when we saw someone struggling with sin, depression or homelessness – instead of being judgmental we see them either for what they used to be or what they could become – if they just had a little help and encouragement? Maybe they had a difficult childhood and can’t get past it.   Maybe they fought in the military for your freedom and my freedom and experienced such horrific events that they can’t rise above it. Maybe they are college educated, had a wife and children and a good job but made a bad decision causing the family to fall apart.  Or maybe they are like my parents who suffer from mental illness of some kind with no one to advocate for them.

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith

need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter

and not just do what is most convenient for us.”  

Romans 15:1 (MSG)

Maybe if we could extend the hand of fellowship to those who struggle or give them a little support, some of them would rise above their mistakes and get back on their feet.  You may never know how a seemingly insignificant act of kindness will affect someone.  Ann Voskamp says, “tender kindness is the truest kind of beauty.”

So the next time you see someone struggling just know you could easily be in that place if not for different circumstances. Friends, we should always joyfully be prepared for what we come across. We should ask God every morning to help us be sensitive to someone in need.  Be prepared with some financial help, a cold drink, food, a smile, a pat on the shoulder or a kind word. Figure out how to show love. One of the best things may just be a listening ear. Even a cupcake will do!

“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.” Oswald Chambers

Share in the comments if you remember a valley or difficult time when someone was an encouragement to you!

essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

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“The way of the essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better…or learning to filter through all those options and selecting only those that are truly essential.”  Greg McKeown

That’s what I want.  To be able to figure out what it is that I can do that will not only make the most impact but more importantly will have eternal impact and be what God sent me here to do.  I want to invest in the right activities.  We have to reject the idea that we can fit it all in.  If we choose carefully we can make one or two wise decisions and every other decision will support it or uphold that decision for years to come.

In “essentialism” you will learn the core mind-set of an essentialist or a minimalist mindset, how we can discern what the vital few activities in our lives should be, how to eliminate the trivial and do the vital things effortlessly.

McKeown says, “…for the first time, the preponderance of choice has overwhelmed our ability to manage it.  We have lost our ability to filter what is important and what isn’t.”

This will be an essential read for me in 2018! Pun intended.  Highly recommended!  Click here to order a copy for yourself!

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Mother & Son, The Respect Effect: What Every Mom Needs to Recognize in Her Son

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On the back cover of the book, Mother & Son, wife of the author, Sarah Eggerichs, states, “As a mother, it is never too early and never too late to apply this message…” This is such a true statement! Whether your son is a toddler or a forty something (or older) dad raising his own family, you can learn how to communicate and relate to those boys. One thing I realized fairly early while raising boys was that by the time they reached puberty or were close to it, they had a need to be treated like men more than children. They would go back and forth between being a child and wanting to be a man but if I continued to treat them as a child the relationship suffered. One chapter in this book talks about how boys (and men) desire “shoulder time”. Shoulder time is allowing your son to just sit next to you without riddling him with questions about his day or simply just admiring whatever he is doing. Just watching. He will open up to you much more quickly this way and even invite you into his world.

I love the following insight by Eggerichs who says,

“Moms need reminders to be a little friendlier toward their sons, especially when someone is severely testing her patience, which most often is her boy.”

Do you respond in a friendly way when your sons test your patience? Or are you impatient and unfriendly. I know I could have done a lot better in this area. But like Sarah Eggerichs says, it’s never too late to apply this message.

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Why I read this book.

I am the mother of four boys plus I have a husband. Now, I also have seven grandsons. My husband says all the time, “I could use some shoulder time.” Often my husband asks me if I would like to help him in the garage or go along to do something with him. He doesn’t really want help, he just wants me to hang with him, admire him and do “shoulder time.” That’s what energizes him. My boys are now ages 28-34. My grandsons are newborn to eight years old. I’m going to apply these principles to those boys and see what happens. Remember it’s never too late to improve your Mother & Son relationships!

Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers; Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate

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In Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, author Leslie Leyland Fields tells the compelling story of her own journey to forgiveness of a distant, emotionally absent and sometimes abusive father. The author skillfully weaves the stories of others who are on their own paths of forgiving a parent. A very helpful part of the book is at the end of each chapter there is a section written by Dr. Jill Hubbard, a clinical psychologist, who tells the reader not only what the author is dealing with but practical solutions and fresh ways to look at these issues. Fields writes,

“many of us repeat even the most harmful of behaviors modeled by our parents – unless we recognize and confront them.”

This is a great resource for anyone who is dealing with a broken relationship with a parent for whatever reason. A lot of it is painful to read if you’ve been in this situation, but as Dr. Hubbard writes,

“When there is no awareness, acknowledgment, surrender, confession, remorse, or repentance, there is a very predictable runoff that spills over from one generation to the next.”

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Why I read this book…

I had to forgive my father and mother. I did that many years ago before reading this book but it’s a process. Pain needs to be peeled away, spoken about, to allow the new to grow, to allow the beauty to emerge. I also realized that the following by Fields is true in my situation – “Most of us have parents who did not mean it for evil, whose lapses and failings and absences were not intended to wound. They would take it back if they could. Many were in the grip of illness and circumstances they did not know how to change. They were weak, without understanding, trying to make their way without resources, not knowing how to raise children. Most did not mean it for evil, but even if some did, God was still present, and He still intends to use it for good in our lives, and for the good of others around us.”

My parents were in the grip of mental illness. Both of them, often at the same time. They were trying to make their way without resources. And when I realized God was present with me through those childhood years and He still intends to use if for good not only in my life but in the lives of others, I can run towards forgiveness rather than away from it. Forgiveness is my ticket out of a self-made prison.

 

 

A Family Shaped by Grace: How to Get Along with the People Who Matter Most

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A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland is a breath of fresh air. Morland writes of being raised in a dysfunctional family, pulled into alcoholism, and bringing these traits into his own marriage and family. That’s the first chapter. In the remaining 14 chapters he tells us that if this is your “normal,” how you can change it. Morland’s Timeless Tools of Family Peace (chapter 5) is well worth the price of the book but he doesn’t stop there. If you want to change the trajectory of your family and leave a different legacy for your children and grandchildren to pass down, then read this book A Family Shaped by Grace!

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Why I read this book…

I grew up in a family where BOTH parents suffered from severe mental illness. I had very few examples on how to be a wife and mother. All that I learned I learned from my mother-in-law and friends who I thought were doing it right. Also I didn’t become a Christian until I was 23 years old so I made a TON of mistakes in life between 14 and 23. At age 23 a dear Christian nurse I was working with led me to the Lord. Nothing grieved me more than when I discovered how much I had done wrong and what that would do to my future marriage and family. But God is a God of second chances. God doesn’t treat us as we deserve. He shows mercy and grace and will restore what the locusts have destroyed (Joel 2:25). I needed (and still need) all the grace I can get!

Grace, Salt and Social Media

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don’t say something permanently hurtful just because you are temporarily upset

Many (many, many) times after I have posted a comment (sometimes a-hasty-flippant-without-engaging-my-heart-or-brain-comment) on social media, or pushed send on the e-mail “to all” I have a sudden oh-goodness-that-probably-could-be-taken-the-wrong-way-epiphany-moment.

Can I avoid offending everyone or upsetting someone who does not agree with me? No, but I have a responsibility to offer up my opinion with grace “sprinkled with a little salt.”

Here are a few guidelines I’m trying (I’ll still need grace) to hold myself to in this say-whatever-is-on-your-mind-no-holds-bar-type-of-communication. To be clear, I’m not talking about sharing the gospel, although that too needs to be done with plenty of grace, but that’s a whole different story. This is about general conversation.

never give up the opportunity to keep your mouth shut 

Elizabeth Elliot (wife of Jim Elliot), author and speaker taught me this as a young Christian. We don’t have to have an opinion on everything. It’s OK to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt. I forget who said that??

make sure it’s the right time to say something

Timing is everything. Often it’s better to wait for a more opportune time to say something. When I read something that rubs me the wrong way my natural hasty response is to say something that “packs a punch” right back and if I respond right away it will come across harsh. Take a breather, think about your response, pray about your response, actually read the whole post or e-mail. Maybe you misunderstood or missed something important the first time you read it. Don’t just pick up a “mob-response-mentality.”

consider a private message 

This may be a better option if you feel like you must correct a wrong or address something to the writer. If I feel that everyone needs to hear what I have to say, or someone might say it first, then it’s more about me than the writer. After thinking it through carefully, ask the writer if you misunderstood what they were meaning or would they be open to hearing your opinion on the subject. You’d be surprised how receptive they are if you ask permission to engage privately in an honest debate rather than lambasting them in a public forum.

respond “with grace

This means what you say is wholesome (no bad language), fitting, kind, positive, sensitive, purposeful, complementary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful. Will it add value to the reader(s) or tear someone down? If I can’t put a check by all these then I need to think about rewording it or just not commenting. Any time I comment when I still have even the smallest caution or doubt, I regret it. That “still, small voice” is the Holy Spirit! Don’t ignore it.

our comments/conversation/speech should be “seasoned with salt

Just as salt on our food makes it more enjoyable and palatable, so should our words to others. We need to make sure they are pleasant, agreeable, acceptable and pleasing before we start throwing them around.

be careful what we put into our minds

The words we speak or write reveals the attitude of our heart and soul. Whatever we read, see or hear affects our thoughts. When we speak or write those thoughts become opinions. Negative thoughts will become negative words. Unwholesome or unkind thoughts will become unkind or unwholesome words. Think of it this way. If we had a water source and allowed all sorts of germs or contaminates to get into that water, what would it taste like if we took a drink from there? Would it be pleasant and helpful or would it cause harm?

make it your goal to add value to the reader

This ALONE will put a check on anything you say.

John C. Maxwell writes, “the ability to add value to others must be built upon the solid ground of believing in ourselves. The only way we can be consistent and authentic in valuing others is to see value in ourselves. The more you like and respect yourself, the more you like and respect other people. The more you accept yourself just as you are, the more you accept others just as they are. When you add value to others, there is an instant return of positive emotions that causes you to feel better about who you are. Positive thinking doesn’t build self-image. Positive acts do. If you perform positive acts, not only will your self-image begin to rise, you will find yourself living a more significant life that matters.”

Know where the delete button is and how to use it!

I use my delete or edit buttons on Facebook and Instagram a LOT.  If you get that sinking feeling that you have said something unkind or unfeeling or someone may take it the wrong way, then take action and edit your comments or posts or delete them entirely. If you have already offended someone then take steps to ask forgiveness, say you are sorry or clear up any misunderstanding by contacting that person in private.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I try to keep “advice lists” short. Many of us could add one or two excellent points of our own.

What is your top “rule” before you post something?

Just Do Something

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Just Do Something, A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will…

OR How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc., by Kevin DeYoung.

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If you struggle with every major decision in life, waiting for “open doors” or a “sign” from God that you are making the best decision, within God’s will, then this book is for you. You will discover how to make a wise decision about who to marry, where to live, a career or choosing your college major. What if you’ve already blown it and made major mistakes in life choices? There is good news here too. God loves to help people, to bind up the brokenhearted, to give us a second chance. You will find huge amounts of wisdom in this small book.

DeYoung encourages readers of all ages to stop obsessing over whether we are in the right career, going to the right college or marrying the “one” right person. He says Christians have become spiritually paralyzed, unable to make a decision until they “know” God’s will. DeYoung urges Christians to stop pleading with God to show us His will for our lives and confidently move forward and “just do something,” anything with our lives. If we are seeking God’s Kingdom first, loving God above all else, obeying God’s commands and desiring God’s glory instead of our own, we can feel secure in making our own good choices and have faith we will find ourselves in the center of God’s will. Highly recommended!! Click here to order a copy!

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Why I read this book

DeYoung writes small concise and to the point books. He doesn’t beat around the bush. I read his book Crazy Busy, another small book, in the past and really loved it.  The only reason I picked this one up (while on a marriage cruise where he was speaking) was because I so enjoyed his first one. I was not disappointed and you won’t be either.