Winning the War! The Best Mom Ever ~ part 3

warTo win the war for your child’s heart, you’ll fight three forces. But first, you must recognize you’re in a war!

Winning the war requires you to focus on your child’s heart!

Read the part 1 here and part two here in the Best Mom Ever series, teaching you to–

1.    Prepare!

2.    Recognize you’re in a war.

3.   Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.

4.   Yield to God.

This post calls you to fight once you recognize you are in a war, a war you must win, God willing. . .and he is willing.

3 Battle Forces!

In this battle, you face three strong forces:

First, your child’s natural, selfish nature.

Second, a spiritual undertow.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

And third, our increasingly wacked-out, confusing, chaotic culture.

Our culture says the best kids are happy and successful kids. This is a lie. The best kids are not the ones who seem happy and successful, who look good on the outside. Rather, the best kids are GOD-honoring KIDS.

Ground Zero: The Heart

As I’ve mentioned, your Number One goal is to shepherd your child’s heart. Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

From the heart flows your behavior.  What you say and do and think expresses your heart. That goes for your child, too.

So when your child misbehaves, he is revealing his selfish nature, his battle-weary soul, or his bent toward a sin-city culture.

OR ALL THREE!

You may be thinking, “No, not my little Ethan, not my little Emma.” The truth is, every child is selfish and foolish.

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Even kids who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ miss the mark, as do their parents.

We all mess up. Our intentions may be good but, well, our own desire to please our little darlings can get the best of us. Here’s one of my many “what-were-we-thinking?” stories.

What Were We Thinking?

Laura was about 2.

And sneaky.

She knew my weak spot.

At bedtime after I laid her in her crib with five — yes, five —  pacifiers — I said a sweet good night, gave her an equally sweet kiss on her chubby cheek, and tip-toed out the door.

By the time I made it down the stairs, I heard:

CLUNK. . .CLUNK. . .CLUNK!

Three pluggies down. Two to go.

CLUNK. . .CLUNK!

Yes, my sweet, sweet Laura had a good arm. She had whipped her pluggies at the door, knowing I’d come back. She was barely 2 and she was telling us who was in charge. And what was I thinking? Doesn’t scripture say kids must obey their parents? Yes, it’s right there in black and white.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Winning Your Child’s Heart

We were in a war. And so are you, Mom. The only way to win: Look past my child’s behavior and see what was going on in her heart. To win the battle for her heart, my husband and I needed to show that, with God’s help, we were in charge.

God gave us the job of effecting godly attitudes, behavior, and character in our adorable child. In the next post, we’ll look at assuming your role as a benevolent dictator. 🙂

Let’s Talk

  1. What behavior problems do you see in your child?
  2. What have you done about them? 
  3. How does focusing on the heart help your child glorfy God?

Be sure to read the next post on assuming the rightful role as the mom. To make sure you get it in your email, subscribe to blog. The subscription box is below.

Counseling heart to hope (and heal!)

 

 

Prepartion: Step 1 for the Best Mom Ever ~ part 2

preparationPreparation is a first step in becoming the best mom ever. God shows you the way. He guides your steps.

Becoming the best mom ever is within your reach. This doesn’t demand perfection. Not at all. If it did, we’d all fail! But it may require a shift in your approach as you. . .

focus on your child’s heart!

Read the first post in my “Becoming the Best Mom Ever” series. There are four more to come. 🙂

First P.R.A.Y.

To become the best mom ever who shepherds her child’s heart, you need to:

1. Prepare!

2. Recognize you’re in a war.

3. Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.

4. Yield to God.

P Is Preparation!

My preparation for motherhood lasted nine months, but my labor was a different sort: paperwork! Nine months is EXACTLY how long it took from from finishing adoption paperwork until precious, newborn Laura snuggled in our arms.So far, so good. Right?

But when Laura turned 3 weeks old, she screamed out of no where. I checked her diaper. Nothing. I offered her her bottle. Not interested. I gently bounced her. She screamed louder. When she finally fell asleep, I read every book I could get my hands on.

The diagnosis: Colick!

Four months later she outgrew this stage, and I learned the value of preparation, big time. I began reading AHEAD to the next stage of child development so I could handle it better.

Preparation doesn’t solve every parenting dilemma but it helps immensely. Your two most important preparation tools: knowledge and wisdom.

Getting Knowledge and Wisdom

King Solomon wrote in Proverbs,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

You’ll find knowledge and wisdom in the pages of Scripture. So read the Bible, soak in the truth, pay attention to the moms and dads in the Bible, what they did right, and what they did wrong. This prepares you for shepherding your child’s heart.

You can get wisdom from other sources too, such as parenting books from Ted Tripp and Lou Priolo. I highly recommend these five books:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Instructing a Child’s Heart

The Heart of Anger

Getting a Grip (for teens)

I use these books often in counseling hope to moms (in person and by Skype). Plus, another helpful tool I incorporate in counseling is this Thought Journal..

Around the time I inhaled Tripp’s and Piolo’s books, I was facing backtalk from my eldest and craziness other kinds from my two youngest. The middle child argued. And the youngest whined! (And I’m a biblical counselor, for crying out loud. . .I was crying!)

It’s little wonder I prayed  and prepared, and prepared and prayed, and read parenting books more times than I care to admit. Now my children are adults. We survived! If I can, you can. We moms must stick together, right?

My next post in this series at my website centers on recognizing that you’re in a war.

Join the Conversation

How have you prepared to shepherd your child’s heart? What help do you need?

Counseling Heart to Hope (and Healing!)

. . .

 

Becoming the Best Mom Ever ~ part 1

heartYou can become the best mom ever. God shows you the way by focusing on the heart. 

Becoming the best mom ever doesn’t demand perfection. Not at all. If it did, we’d all fail! But it may require a shift in focus, specifically. . .

a focus on your child’s heart!

So many of us moms — me, included — tend to major on the externals: In other words, the child’s behavior, whatever his or her age. God, however, emphasizes the heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Good Heart or Bad Yardstick?

Did you know that what your little angel or smart-aleck ruffian thinks, says, and does comes straight from their heart? We moms (and grandmas, dads, teachers, and so on) often  measure our “success” based on the child’s behavior but what a faulty yardstick!

I imagine you may know a kid who had everything going for her from the outside, from excellent grades to great performance in sports or music (or both) to a 20-hour-a week, after-school job. I do. I’ll call her Leah.

Leah received mostly As in her honors classes. On her ACT test for college, she scored just a few points from perfect.

She also was a captain of the dance team.

And she played flute.

She had lots of friends from school and work. Her mom and dad praised her every accomplishment and demanded a photo-ready bedroom and designer outfits, and she regularly wrote thank-you notes with a reminder!

Then she went to college and things, well, you’ll have to read more of Leah story in my next post.

Becoming the Best Mom: P.R.A.Y.

Let me leave you with this encouragement: you can become the best mom ever by shepherding your child’s heart. To become the best mom ever who’s attentive to her child’s heart, you’ll need to:

1.    Prepare!

2.    Recognize you’re in a war.

3.   Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.

4.   Yield to God.

The next posts in the “Becoming the Best Mom Ever” series zero in to each of these heart-attentive topics.

P.S. It’s NEVER to late to start. 🙂

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

SUICIDE: Ways to Help Prevent Tragedy

Suicide. It’s nearly impossible to understand, but there are ways to help prevent it. This article, written by Sherry Allchin, MA, and listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, gives hope to any counselor or a family member who provides care to a suicidal person. This article appeared first on Biblcal Counselor Center’s website and is used with permission. 

NOTE: Always dial 911 immediately if you suspect

someone has attempted suicide or plans to attempt suicide!

hope icon

Prevention strategies don’t always work. Someone who’s determined to die sometimes is “successful” and dies. It’s sad, tragic. 

A while back,, I talked with a parent whose teen is struggling. Her 15-year-old friend killed himself after several years of bullying by other teens at school.

Could his death been prevented?

Why would a person we love want to end their life?

And what is our responsibility to help and how can we?

The Why of Suicide

When someone attempts suicide, it is not really that they want to die, but rather that they just don’t know how to live and have lost all hope that life will get any better. They have chosen to take matters into their own hands to end the pain they feel.

We as family and friends, or as counselors, can make a world of difference by our responses to their struggles and by knowing the warning signs. We may not save everyone from suicide, but if we can save even one, it’s worth finishing this blog post. Share it with your friends and family.

Grim Suicide Statistics

Did you know that suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States? That’s one death by suicide every 15 minutes! It is the third leading cause of death between the ages of 15 to 24 years, with half a million teenagers attempting suicide. More than 5,000 seniors kill themselves annually.

What Are Some Warning Signs?

A person considering suicide often shows several (though not all) of these warning signs.

  • Talking about dying. Giving away valued items. When a person talks about suicide or death or makes statements like “I wish I had never been born,” and starts to give away things they have valued, or planning for the care of pets or dependents, be alert and ask more questions.
  • Changes in habits. Burst of energy. Withdrawal. Recklessness. Another clue is a change in eating, sleeping or grooming habits, or a sudden burst of energy and joy from someone who has been depressed for a long time. This energy burst may indicate that a suicide decision has been made and a calm before the storm). Also be alert to the withdrawal from favorite people or activities, or being reckless with dangerous activities.
  • Other warning signs. Other high-risk indicators includes a history of drug or alcohol use, physical or sexual abuse, or being in some kind of trouble. When there is a history of depression and antidepressant drugs are given, some people have the side effect of suicidal desires. Also, those who have previously attempted suicide or who have a close friend or relative that has committed suicide are more likely to try.

How to Help Prevent Suicide

Encourage the person to talk to you and really listen (James 1:19, 20) to determine suicidal intent. The more detailed their plan and the more access they have to their method of choice, the more likely they will follow through. Be compassionate as you hear their pain and suffering (Lamentations 3:22-24).

The faithful love of the Lord never ends![b]
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:23

Remember suicide is not so much about wanting to die as it is not knowing how to live with the problem. So they must gain a sense of hope, a reason to live, a hope that there is a solution to what to them seems unsolvable (1 Corinthians 10:13).

If you don’t know how to help them, take them to someone who can help find that solution. A pastor, school guidance counselor, a biblical counselor, and a doctor or the hospital ER are a few who can often help.

The book of Ecclesiastes shows us that life apart of God is not worth living. Each one of us must ultimately come to a place of trusting Christ as their personal savior and starting to grow in their trusting God’s Word for answers to their life problems. Help them see that suffering is a part of God’s will to refine us in Christ, with the goal to change their focus from escape to godly contentment (Philippians 4:11-13).

As they begin to change, they will find their place of service among God’s people, helping others to realize that suicide is the ultimate act of self-love to avoid painful consequences (2 Timothy 3:1-2) and sharing the hope they have found in Christ.

Must I Get Involved?

Talking to someone about their suicidal intent does not encourage them to attempt suicide. Instead, it typically communicates interest and hope because you cared enough to ask.

Jesus commanded us to get involved with our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37, Matthew 22:36-40) and to restore a struggling brother to usefulness (Galatians 6:1-5). Trust God to use you as His instrument of hope to someone who needs help!

As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death. Proverbs 11:19, ESV

Now What?

Foremost, if you suspect that someone is suicidal, call 911.

If he or she shares with you feelings of hopelessness, encourage them to talk. As mentioned, talking to someone about suicide communicates hope because you cared to ask, to notice, to help. This doesn’t encourage suicide.

If you don’t know what to say, bring the person to a pastor, biblical counselor, school guidance counselor, doctor, or the hospital ER. Tragically, someone intent of killing himself or herself will find a way to be “successful” and die.

When someone attempts suicide, it is not really that they want to die, but rather that they just don’t know how to live and have lost all hope that life will get any better.

Be a hope giver. Stand in the gap.

Counseling Heart to Hope and Healing,

Do Smart Women Need Counseling?

Is Counseling for You-
Every smart woman know that sometimes needs help, right? 

From hot flashes to nudging young adults out the nest, from broken dreams to emotional crazies, what woman doesn’t need help and hope at some point in her life? 

But is it smart to chat with a friend (or husband, if you’re married)? Or a counselor?

These are important questions. Let’s see if we can figure them out together.

It’s Smart to Seek a Counselor When. . .

. . .life seems overwhelming or confusing. Or, you feel sad, angry, bitter, or fearfu. Or, you have unresolved hurts from your past that interfere with your present. The answer is probably yes.

For an insider’s look, listen to these descriptions of a few former counselees. (Identifying details have been changed.)

  • Susie’s mom is deeply troubled. The teen is cutting her arms and says she hates herself. In counseling she opens up and shares that a family member had sexually molested.
  • Hannah has anxiety and it’s making mothering difficult. A decade ago, she attended a Christian college and graduated with honors. Now she is terribly fearful of storms and a few other things that make no sense to her.
  • Mara kicked her husband out of the bedroom a year ago. He’s not a bad guy but the zest is gone. And he sometimes looks a porn, which she hates. She is considering divorce.

These smart women sought biblical counseling because they wanted change. And, as Christians, they each wanted godly couseling, hoping to grow spiritually. As God changes them into the likeness of Jesus, more and more each day, they hope to have inner peace and contentment, no matter their circumstances.

What Effects Heart Change?

In a few words, biblical counseling is compassionate, effective soul care leading to life change through heart change. It is motivated by love and deep concern, and has at four underlying beliefs. Biblical counseling is. . .

  1. Rooted in God, deriving its motivations, objectives, verbal content, methods and power from God and according to his Word.
  2. Exalts Jesus Christ.
  3. Is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Is loving.

It’s Smart to Chat with a Caring Person When. . .

. . .you discern that a caring person of the same gender would be a good listener and offer good counsel and that you are not a danger to yourself or to others and do not need medical attention from a physician.

Here are 7 traits of a caring friend:

  • Listens well. James 1:19
  • Has knowledge of the Bible. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
  • Possesses genuine compassion. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • Depends of the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-26
  • Recognizes that one’s heart condition overflows into everything in life. Proverbs 4:23
  • Is humble. James 4:10
  • Loves the Lord. Matthew 22:37

What trait would you add to this list?

About Lucy and Counseling

I’m a certified biblical counselor on staff at Biblical Counseling Center in greater Chicago, and I meet with women, couples, children, and families in person and by Skype worldwide.

I am finishing my Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Counseling and also have training in pastoral care to women at Western Seminary, Portland, Ore. and from the Association of Biblical Counselors, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and Biblical Counseling Center. Go to this page on my website for questions you have about biblical counseling.

Would you like a free initial consultation by phone? Contact me and let’s Then we can decide your counseling needs and develop a plan unique to you. To learn more, click HERE.

Counseling Hearts to Hope, 

Help and Hope for Bad Health

bad healthBAD HEALTH? Whether you or a loved one has bad health, doubts may rush in and twirl you like carnival ride. You may ask yourself:

  • “What did I do to deserve this?”
  • “Will I (or my friend) ever get better?”
  • “Where’s God? How come he’s not helping?”

You may also experience anger, despair, and fear. Anger over waiting. Despair over pain. And fear of invasive tests, fear of bad news, even fear of God’s disfavor.

So have you faced bad health? Or, has a loved one of a friend had an awful illness? What emotions coursed through your veins?

My Bad Health Story

No physical form of bad health runs in my family. But mental problems do, namely anxiety, depression, and bipolar I disorder.

My dad had has the latter. During my childhood, he dad walked in the shadows of depression, rarely smiling. And he often spoke in monotone. In my early teens, my mom and brother convinced him to get psychiatric help at a hospital.

I had no idea how to handle my dad’s depression and occasional manic episodes. In fact, I figured I was the problem. But I was wrong. Can you relate? My child mind thought. . .

If only I got better grades. . .

If only I kept my room clean. . .if only.

But there was nothing I could do to help, and this made me sad. Eveyone in the family found ways to deal with the pain of a loved one with bad health. For instance, my mom devoured romance novels. Potato chips and French onion dip put pounds on her frame. And my brother managed, barely. In grade school he pulled Cs, Ds, and Fs, though his IQ topped 140. Later, he got high on weed a lot. And later still, porn became his drug of choice.

Me? I still tried on perfectionism. Miss goody two shoes, I attempted to do everything right and learned it didn’t work. Yet I kept trying. Only later, when I trusted in Christ, I found my reason to hope and heal.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Mind-Body Connection

Bad health may have an emotional cause or physical root–or both. Heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and other illness are physical. Doctors can indeed diagnose them through tests. But illnesses with a physical cause often take an emotional toll too.

Some types of bad health, like hypothyroidism, include the symptom of depressed mood, for example. Also, depending on the illness, there are physical changes such as bloating and hair loss. In addition, medications used to treat bad health may have nasty side effects. Soon the ill person may feel helpless and hopeless. Spiritually, she may cling to Jesus, or she may blame God for allowing the illness and wrecking her life.

What to Do

When a friend or family member faces bad health, how can you help? Well, they’re are helpful things to say and too. And there are cringe-worthy comments to avoid. Here are a few of each.

To say and do:

1. Say “I admire your courage.”

2. Ask, “Can I grocery shop, take you to the doctor, or clean the bathroom?”

3. Play an uplifting CD or make a delicious, healthy soup (see below).

To avoid:

1. “I know exactly how you feel.” You don’t.

2. Call your friend and talk a long, long time. Stick to 10 minutes unless she asks to talk longer. Add another 10 minutes tops. Use a timer.

3. Pretend nothing is wrong, like my family did. 

What ideas have worked for you? Or have blown up in your face? My own personal, embarrassing piece of bad advice (that I no longer do): Telling someone how she should feel!

May I Share a Recipe?

This first appeared in my book The Vegetarian Child (Perigee, 1997). I hope you like it. It’s make a great meal for someone in bad health. Or good health. It’s that delicious.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

A creamy soup with no cream? That’s right. The secret is pureed potatoes, which add extra nutrients to the soup without a smidgeon of fat.

2 cups chopped fresh broccoli

3 ½ cups vegetables stock or 3½ cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

½ onion, chopped

½ to 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients except the salt and pepper and ½ cup vegetable stock or water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside ½ cup broccoli to use as garnish.

Puree the remaining contents of the pot, a batch at a time, in a blender or food processor. Be sure to fill the blender or food processor no more than 2/3 full. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the remaining vegetable stock or water, season with the salt and pepper, and simmer 5 minutes. Pour the soup into individual bowls and top each one with the reserved broccoli garnish. Serve warm.

Serves 6. Per serving: 91 cal; 3g prot; 0.2g fat; 21g carb; 0 chol; 368mg sod; 2.7g fiber

Counseling Hearts to Hope (and healing),

 

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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