5 Things I’ve Learned From Having Young Teens

I have young teenagers. My oldest is 14. My second oldest is 13. I also have an 11 year old and a 9 year old. I am NOT an expert at teenagers, but then again, who is?

There will be a lot I learn about teenagers in the next decade. And there is a lot that others know that I don’t- even at this stage- but maybe someone else has young teenagers and can at least feel like they aren’t alone.

Living with teenagers is not like living with toddlers. Granted, there can still be a lot of tears, but the tears are different. More intense. Usually because the tears don’t come from not being allowed a piece of candy, they come from heartache. Life with teenagers is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it can be very rewarding.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far in my journey of being a parent to teenagers….

#1. You will learn to rely more and more on God. When they were little, you kept them safe. You decided what they could or couldn’t do, where they could or couldn’t go, what they could or couldn’t eat. You decided EVERYTHING! However, that isn’t a popular choice for parenting teenagers because our ultimate goal should be producing self-sufficient, respectful young adults and the only way that can happen is by giving THEM more and more freedom. As they spread their wings and test the waters- without your ever watchful eye always there- you learn to pray more for sure!!! I know I have!

#2. You will make mistakes and it is o.k. to tell your teen you are sorry! Look, parents, we are NOT perfect! We are ALL sinners saved by grace. Just because we’ve been on this earth for 20+ years longer than they have does NOT make us immune to mistakes! Each child is different, each situation is different, and there is not always a one way answer. Plus, let’s face it, we’re dealing with hormonal teenagers who are also sinners saved by grace. It’s bound to blow up sometimes. So admit you made a mistake, ask for forgiveness, and demonstrate Christ’s love and forgiveness when they make a mistake.

#3. There are ALWAYS consequences. I tell my kids this ALL the time. With teenagers, though, the consequences become bigger. You also cannot always bail them out. Teenagers need to live with their choices, but this is where demonstrating Christ’s love can come into play. They will make mistakes. Sometimes their mistakes are big. Sometimes their mistakes are shocking! Never let what your teenager did be a reason to not love them. There is punishment for sin- the Bible tells us the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)- but God loved us so much that the “gift of God is eternal life“. So yeah, let there be consequences, but never forget the love.

#4. Never stop reaching. When they were babies, you held them while you rocked them to sleep. When they were toddlers, you held grimy hands as you walked through the store. When they were in elementary school, you were freely given hugs- at least at home. It’s pretty normal for teenagers to pull away from you- it is all part of discovering who they are as an individual- not as mom and dad’s kid. I make it a habit to reach over and stroke my teenager’s hand whenever she’s riding in the passenger seat of my car, I do high 5s even if I get an eye roll, I give hugs- often. Even if they don’t really feel like it.

#5. When you listen- listen. I get it, we’re all busy. There’s always school work to be done, sports to be shuttled to or from, chores, church, and just life in general. When they were little, they talked ALL THE TIME. Now that mine are reaching the teenage years, they’re actually talking less and less. When they do talk, it’s probably important- at least to them. I’m learning to be intentional when they talk. To purposefully set my phone aside and look them in the eye when they talk. It’s hard- especially if we’re in the middle of a billion other projects. And if you aren’t quite to the teenage years, listen up! Start doing this NOW! It isn’t just a teen thing!

Are you the parent of teenagers? Do you have anything to add?

Linked up with: Tune in Thursday, Paula’s Weekend Party, Imparting Grace, Women with Intention, Modest Mom Blog

5 things your pastor really needs…

If asked, I’m sure everyone would have a different answer. And honestly, none of them would probably be wrong answers. There is A LOT that your pastor needs. I’m just speaking from the experience of having been married to one for (almost) 16 years and this is strictly that- my experience.

#1. He needs prayers. Prayers that are sincere and deeply desiring the Lord’s will. When you pray for your pastor, pray that the Lord will use him to bring honor and glory to His name; that the Lord would put the right people in his life to encourage and uplift him; and that the Lord would give him the clarity he needs to lead his people. Pray for his family as well, and any other prayer requests that he has made known. Be watchful (but not nosey)- if you know he has an extra-busy week, pray that God will give him the energy he needs.

#2. He needs respect. Respect is simply a way of being kind to one another and by thinking about how someone feels. It does NOT mean you have to agree with what is being done or even like the person. It just simply means that you are going to treat a person (ultimately) the way God wants you to treat someone He created! The pastor should be leading the church down the path the Lord desires and sometimes what you want isn’t what the Lord has specifically told the pastor HE wants. This is usually where a church member gets all upset and (unfortunately) stirs the pot because they aren’t getting their way. THIS is where respect comes into play! Your pastor is human- yes, he will make mistakes! But he was placed in the pastor position by God! And your church chose him to lead y’all! SO LET HIM LEAD! He isn’t doing what you want him to do? Refer back to #1! PRAY FOR HIM! Differences happen. But it doesn’t change how you should treat a person. I know of churches who treated us one way- as long as we were doing what they wanted- but as soon as there were differences- we were treated differently. If you find yourself disagreeing often with the pastor, don’t create problems church-wide. It may just be time to move on to worship somewhere else. (Yep, I said it.) It isn’t YOUR church. It’s God’s church. And He has more than one. 😉

#3. He needs family time. Y’all, we have truly been blessed with some good churches who (for the most part) got this. But y’all, I’ve seen it. Churches who call at all hours for all things! Listen, I get the fact that the pastor is your pastor, but he’s my husband- and our children’s father. Be considerate is all we (and any pastor’s family) ask! He will be there- at your beckon call- for anything. He will struggle to say no- no matter how trivial it may be. His pastor heart is huge for you! Call him! Ask him for prayer! Confide in him. Meet with him. Do whatever it is that you need, because you are why he is there. But if it can wait until morning (or office hours or whatever)- let it! His family will thank you! (And so will he!)

#4. He needs support. There is not much that is more disheartening than hearing from your congregation- putting together something that is a result from what you heard- and having nobody (or next to nobody) support it! He is doing his best to lead the way God wants him to- and y’all, the devil does NOT go easy on him. Don’t be a Sunday morning only church member. He needs to know that you are as committed into growing the kingdom of God as he is- and you aren’t if you only show up on Sunday mornings (yep, I said that too). You are missing vital times to serve God and to grow with other Christians if you show up just on Sunday mornings. Sunday School, evening worship, mid-week Bible study, and any other time your church meets- for fellowship, outreach, prayer, or learning- you need to be there. Ok, you’re right, there are times when you cannot be- for various reasons- and if you have an extremely large church there may be too many meeting times to attend them all- BUT, show up enough that he knows you are serious! And while I’m at it- don’t just sit in the back, arms crossed… be an action Christian and MOVE!

Last one…. #5. He needs love. Yeah, I love him- and so do his kids. But love from his church members? Now that’s perfect! He loves you and has your best interest in mind. Show him love! Here’s a tip: find out what your pastor’s love language is and bless him that way. And when all else fails- home-baked goodies are a hit!

(Note: This is all a two way street. Your pastor should be praying for you, and he should treat you with respect. He shouldn’t demand all your time be spent serving at church and there should be zero guilt when you and your family steal away for a much needed weekend at the beach. Above all else, he should be demonstrating Christ’s love in practical ways to and for you! Just remember, he is human and he will fall. Return Christ’s love and offer some much needed grace, a dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies, and a friendly smile. That’s really what he needs.)

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Anything else you would add?

Linked up with: Teaching What Is Good, The Modest Mom Blog, Mondays at Soul Survival, Tune in Thursday, Imparting Grace, Women with Intention

Breaking Down the Armor of God, Part 2

I recently wrote about the first three pieces of the armor of God, here are the last three pieces!

Shield of faith ~ I won’t lie. I get a little excited when I get to talk about faith. God has grown me and my family a LOT in the (almost) 16 years of being in ministry. We’ve made huge mistakes- resulting from a lack of faith- and we’ve walked through some deep valleys with only our trust in God to keep moving us forward. Faith is mentioned all throughout Scripture. Noah had to have faith to build the ark- especially since it had never rained before. Abraham had to have faith when he climbed up the mountain with only his son- fully intending to sacrifice Isaac. The Israelites had to have faith when they crossed the Jordan River. This is one of my very favorite stories of faith- you can find it in Joshua 3. Raging river (because it was harvest and overflowing) and the priests had to all step into the river. Once all the priests were in the river, the water stood up and created a dry path for the Israelites to cross! WHOOP! WHOOP!!!! Faith is believing without seeing. Faith can seem scary. Faith can seem immature to those who lack it. Y’all… Faith is believing that God is right! YES, living by faith can be tough to do because it requires you to step out into the unknown. Remember those lies from the devil? Worry, stress, doubt, fear, and the past? They will pop up again. It may even come in the form of your best friend… So how do we live daily with the shield of faith? We won’t use it unless a situation arises- much like a nurse doesn’t use a stethoscope until she needs to, yet she keeps it with her just in case. When God tells you to do something, you do it. Without knowing the big picture!

Helmet of Salvation ~ Salvation- easy as ABC (Admit you are a sinner, Believe that Jesus died and rose again after three days to PAY your debt, Confess that Jesus is Lord)- but there is SO much more! Salvation makes you an heir of God (Romans 8:17) and God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)! Salvation makes you safe and secure- you are chosen, loved, desired, needed! The helmet gives us our IDENTITY! And once we know WHO we are, we can CONFIDENTLY march on! The lies the devil shouts to us- the lies of being unworthy, unloved, ugly, worthless- can BOUNCE off our armor because we KNOW the truth!

Sword of the Spirit ~ Yep, this is the Word of God. The Bible. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 It’s simple. We gotta know the Word of God! Intimately know it. The way we quench the devil is the same way Jesus resisted the devil in the desert (Matthew 4). The way we fight against the devil is to recall the Bible verse that counteracts his scheme. Feeling doubtful about your ability? How about Philippians 4:13? Hating yourself? What about Psalm 139:14? Be in the Word. Constantly! Know the Word!

How do you equip yourself with the armor of God?

 

Adrenal Fatigue & Me

I just didn’t feel right. Something was off, but I wasn’t sure what. I was tired. Oh, so very tired. Tired to the point where all I wanted was to sleep and slept as often as I was given a chance. I couldn’t concentrate. My brain felt thick. Sometimes the room would feel like it was moving- like I was on a boat- when clearly I wasn’t. I couldn’t seem to lose weight. I would snap at any little thing- oh the anger I would feel. I was overwhelmed with life. I would get dizzy, anxious, and feel deeply depressed. All without reason. I had trouble sleeping- and staying asleep- even though I was tired. When I did sleep, it wasn’t restful sleep. The sugar cravings… the amount of hair found in my tub each morning… feeling like my nerves were literally frayed.

This is me.

Let me clarify some things- I’ve always struggled with my weight. I’m a busy, working mom of 4- I’m always going to be tired. It is hard to put into words, but it had all changed from a “normal” to a “something is off”. 

I’m a big proponent of listening to your body. I just knew something was off. I called my PCP and after visiting with him, he ran some blood work. My fasting blood sugar was a little high- but nothing improving my diet and exercise wouldn’t help. Same thing with my blood pressure. Nothing major. That was it. Not the answers I was looking for.

So, I reached out to some of my natural minded friends. One of them referred me to her website where she had written about adrenal fatigue. Jill is a family herbalist and I’ve known her for years. She is definitely someone I trust and someone who has helped me before. The more I read about adrenal fatigue, the more I wondered if it was the root of my problems. Especially since STRESS is a BIG factor and I tend to feel very stressed out.

Thankfully, Jill has wrote about how to heal your adrenals and I am starting the process. I just started this week- eliminating caffeine, drastically reducing sugar, and I ordered some of the supplements she shared on her page. I need to start feeling better and I’m hopeful that in a few weeks I will. I’m not looking for a quick fix, but just overall health!

Do you struggle with adrenal fatigue?

If you are interested in natural living, check out Jill’s website below!

Linked up with: Oh My Heartsie Girls Wonderdul Wednesday Linkup

Breaking Down the Armor of God, Part 1

In my last post, The Devil’s Attacks, I shared a few things that I had learned recently by studying the devil and the way he attacks. Priscilla Shirer has two really great books that I have found to be great study tools- FerVent and Armor of God. The books dig deep into Scripture and you are left with an astounding knowledge of Satan.

Today I want to break down the armor of God a little for you. Maybe you haven’t studied it much, maybe you know it better than I do. Either way, I just want to share what I’ve learned. Growing up, I always heard about the armor of God, but rarely was it taught in great depths.

Ephesians 6:10-18 says “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (bold is mine)

Belt of Truth ~ This is discovering a standard that ALL right and wrong can be compared to. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and we find out in John 1 that the Word was with God and the Word was God and that the Word became human… So God’s Word, the truths from Jesus, is what this belt of truth hinges on. We believe God’s Word is ABSOLUTE. There is nothing gray here- it is black or white. Right or wrong. In order to wear the belt of truth, we have to measure everything we do against the TRUTH of the WORD.

Body armor of God’s righteousness ~ The body armor, or the breastplate, is LIVING the TRUTH of the WORD. The belt tells us what is right or wrong. The breastplate is doing what is right. You can’t have one without the other. There was no mistaking when Paul linked the LIVING part to the breastplate. Think about it…. what part of the body would a breastplate protect? Things like the heart, right? Vital organs. Without protection, it wouldn’t take much before the enemy (in our case, the devil) got us right in the chest and down we went… Protecting our vital organs is of the utmost importance! Listen to what Jesus (remember, he’s the TRUTH) says in Mark 7:21-23 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” YES!!!! We MUST protect the inside and make sure that what is coming out lines up with the ABSOLUTE truth we find in Scriptures! Compare each and every move and see if it lines up with God!

Shoes of peace ~ Peace…. everyone wants it. Everyone seeks after it. Colossians 3:15 says to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts…” and Philippians 4:7 says “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Yes, it is lovely knowing our peace comes from God. Here’s the thing though, the devil is going to try to convince you that you need to worry or stress out over things. He’s going to fill your mind with doubt and fear. He’s going to bring things up from your past that causes you to freeze and not move forward. Did you catch all of that? Worry, stress, doubt, fear, the past…. it is all from SATAN. Those are LIES!!!! Lies, lies, and more lies! Lies that the devil hopes will cripple you and keep you from moving forward. The shoes of peace are designed for just the opposite. Fun fact- Roman soldier shoes had nails on the bottom- similar to our cleats- so they could stand firm on any ground and would help them keep moving forward on the battlefield. YES! We are to move FORWARD! We are equipped with everything we need to move forward boldly on our Christian walk! It won’t be easy, but thanks to the armor pieces Paul tells about, we can!

Linked up with: The Modest Mom Blog, What Joy is Mine, Mondays at Soul Survival, Tune in Thursday, Oh My Heartsie Girls Wonderdul Wednesday Linkup

The Devil’s Attacks

I am sick and tired of the devil always attacking. Can I get an AMEN??? I am sick and tired of hearing his lies, seeing him get victory in the lives around me, and for the general chaos that he produces.

I’ve been studying him and his attacks for the last year. Priscilla Shirer’s FerVent and Armor of God books are excellent study tools for this subject. They dig deep in God’s words and pull back the shades to reveal just how much of the devil’s craftiness is around us each and every day.

It’s mind blowing.

Ephesians 6:10-18 says “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Here is what I’ve learned.

  1. You are only strong in the Lord- never on your own.
  2. The people and situations you THINK cause you problems are NOT the REAL ENEMY! The real enemy is the devil. Next time you blow up at your husband because he did something, stop and think it through. Your husband is NOT your enemy. The devil is trying to get you to blow up and he will use any little thing to get you to do it.
  3. The armor of God is a vital piece of equipment. It’s the only way we can be strong in the Lord and withstand the attacks thrown at us.
  4. The belt of truth, body armor of God’s righteousness, and shoes of the peace that comes from the God News is DAILY items we put on. Just like every day, we put on clothes of some sort.
  5. The shield of faith comes out when necessary- much like a nurse’s stethoscope. She has it handy, but only uses it at certain times.
  6. The helmet of salvation is a VITAL part of Christian living- without it we are truly doomed. One well planned blow and we’re finished. Yet, we’ve been given everything we need to find victory.
  7. Sword of the Spirit- the word of God- is CRUCIAL! The devil will flee at the mention of Jesus.
  8. Prayer. I cannot stress this enough…. prayer is continued conversation with God. He’s your boss and leader and cannot lead you if you aren’t in communication. It’s the walkie talkie of the battlefield. We also need to lift up others and help them become strong in the Lord.
  9. We must always stay alert.

The devil is a sly one…. He came to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), but the Lord came to give us life- and to give it to us more abundantly! We have been given what we need to have that life, but we have to be ACTION Christians! Not couch potato Christians…

Plunge Deep, Climb Steep

Also linked to: Tune in Thursday, Susan B Mead, Mondays at Soul Survival

Depression

Yes, depression. The word nobody wants to talk about. ESPECIALLY if you’re a pastor’s wife.

But y’all… depression is real. It’s very dark.

And it’s not a choice.

I struggle with depression. Deep, menacing depression. The kind that makes me want to crawl back into bed and lay there all day. The kind that makes me not really care about attending my kids’ sporting events or show up at work. The kind that desperately tries to pull me down.

Some days are better. I feel joyful and the darkness isn’t there. Other days I feel it.

There doesn’t even have to be any rhyme or reason to it- though the darkness rears its ugly head more often during trials than other times.

This darkness…. it’s from the devil and he knows he can use it against me. I’ve been studying Prsicilla Shirer’s books FerVent and Armor of God a lot here lately. One thing is clear. The devil is out to get me. He wants nothing more than for me to fail- to lose my witness. To not impact other’s for Christ. He gets me with the darkness, but maybe he gets you with anger or adultery or other forms of temptation. He goes after each person with whatever their weakness is. He wants one thing and it’s for you to crumble. If you’re not saved, then he can keep you from God that way… but if you’re saved, then he can make sure you don’t live your life for God.

Yep, a pastor’s wife should be living her life for God. ALL CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE LIVING THEIR LIFE FOR GOD! But y’all…. there is nobody perfect on this earth. We are ALL going to feel the devil’s darts. It’s what we CHOOSE to do with it that makes the difference.

I CHOOSE to not let the depression control me. I CHOOSE to fight it. Psalms 16:8 says “I know the Lord (Jehovah) is ALWAYS with me. I will not be shaken for he is right beside me.” *emphasis mine* This verse is taped to my desk at work. Even during my dark moments, the Lord is next to me. I have the KNOWLEDGE that this depression is from my ENEMY and NOTHING ELSE. I have equipped myself to fight (Ephesians 6).

If you struggle with depression, don’t let it win. See a doctor. Come up with a plan of attack. Medicine has its place, but so does Scripture and clinging to God. If you don’t struggle with depression, pray for those who do. You may not even realize someone struggles. Depression looks differently on each person. Just because they’re laughing and smiling doesn’t mean all is okay. And most of all, remember that your pastor, his wife, and their kids, are not exempt from things like depression. Pray for them by name- that they will be able to stand strong and withstand the fiery attacks from the devil (Eph. 6:13, 16). Oh! And one more thing…. don’t let the devil use you as one of his fiery arrows.

Linked to: What Joy Is Mine, The Modest Mom Blog, Tune in Thursday, Susan B Mead, Mondays at Soul Survival, Oh My Heartsie Girls Wonderdul Wednesday Linkup

Plunge Deep, Climb Steep