To 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–
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.
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. 🙂
- What behavior problems do you see in your child?
- What have you done about them?
- 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!)
Who doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.
So today you learn how to:
1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.
2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.
3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here.
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What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Step 1: Identify
First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:
UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS
Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.
UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”
EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness
ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips
Step 2: Replace
Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS
Here’s a corresponding example.
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.
NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage
NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application
Step 3: See Change
Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought.
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And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.
You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.
Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
DIETING: Millions of women are on a diet now. Is dieting wrong in God’s eyes? Is it (gulp) a sin?
Diets. Gotta love them, gotta hate them.
We women love them because losing weight helps us look better and feel energetic. We hate them because we may feel deprived, grouchy, and fearful that we’ll gain back the pounds we worked hard to lose.
I have a crazy Weight Watchers story. It begins what I was age 10. You can read part of my crazy story here in the intro of my eBook, Fit for Life.
Back to the BIG question:
So Is Dieting Sinful?
The quick answer: no. In itself dieting isn’t bad. In fact, caring for yourself by eating right is good. But dieting can turn bad. It depends on your attitude. What’s your attitude regarding food and self image? Do you hate how your jeans fit? Do you call yourself awful names if you go off your diet?
If you fear that eating certain favorite treats like ice cream, chips or cookies will prompt you to binge or if you believe that eating your favorite treat is “wrong” (even if the Bible doesn’t teach that it is), then you must not eat it, says Elyse Fitzpatrick, a leading biblical counselor and author of several books including Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.
The bible says that if you compromise your conscience, you sin.
He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
This passage primarily speaks to food offered to idols (which was a problem when the apostle Paul wrote this epistle), yet the biblical principle holds true: anything that compromises your faith is sin, including faithless eating.
The upshot: If you believe dieting or cheating on your diet is a sin, then it is sin for you. If not, then feel free to choose a weight-loss plan.
Listen to Paul’s words on sin and grace.
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
If you choose to lose weight by dieting, select one focused on lifestyle changes and teaches healthy habits to keep you Fit for Life.
What About Gluttony?
Derived from the Latin gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, “gluttony” means over-indulgence of food or drink to the point of extravagance or waste, gluttony has a spot on the infamous list of the seven deadly sins. While I’ve never heard a sermon on gluttony, the Bible speaks against it. (Check out Proverbs 23:20,21.)
In a strange twist, under-indulgence of food is also gluttonous because it is an extreme use of food. For some, the problem is anorexia nervosa, which troubled a food disordered counselee, who eventually found healing as she determined to put God first and to bring glory to him in everything she did. We also kept in regular contact with her medical doctor and nutritionist.
She learned to enjoy eating food, a gift of God. Indeed. Paul declared,
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4,5)
4 Quick Self-Care Food Tips
1. Cut out or reduce sugary drinks like soda. (When my husband corked the a while back, he lost 15 pounds in three months and feels more energetic, especially in the afternoon.)
2. Drink a glass of water before a meal or when you feel hungry between meals. Drinking water makes you feel fuller, helping you to reduce portions easily. Hycration also helps you think better.
3. Eat colorfully. Have lots of veggies and fruit on hand, washed and ready to eat. You’re less likely to crunch a cookie when you’ve set out baby carrots, snap peas, bananas, and apples.
4. Decide NOT to diet. A diet is an eating plan you go on and off, typically regaining the weight you lost. Instead, listen to advice from MayoClinic.com:
Combining a healthier diet and more activity is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for the long term. Take your weight loss and weight maintenance one day at a time and surround yourself with supportive resources to help ensure your success.
This is exactly the approach of my ebook Fit for Life, with a strong biblical emphasis. God created you to shine.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Counseling hope to your precious heart,
PTSD: Women exposed to a significant trauma such as rape, a natural catastrophe, or serious car accicent may later experience nightmares, disturbing memories, and feelings of helplessness and other problems. How can you help a friend? How can you get help for yourself?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the label that describes a long-lasting emotional struggle following a traumatic event. It has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”
PTSD affects many more people than combat veterans and people who endured 9/11 closeup.
- 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
- Up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD.
- An estimated 8 percent of Americans – that’s 24.4 million people – have PTSD at any given time.
- An estimated 1 out of 10 women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.
- Among people who are victims of a severe traumatic experience 60 to 80 percent will develop PTSD.
The above statistics come from HealMyPTSD.com.
What about you? Do you struggle with PTSD? Do you know someone who does? Have you wondered, “Will I ever be normal again?”
You Are Not Alone!
1. You are not alone.
2. There is hope.
Tragically, among the deepest crises leading to the PTSD label is sexual abuse. This trauma sickens the soul and messes with the mind, spirit, and body for years, even decades. Also, the effects range from paralyzing fears to physiological symptoms. And they damage relationships.
Believers who’ve experienced trauma may ask, “Where was God?”
According to the Sidran Institute, people who experienced specific traumas such as rape, child abuse, and violent assaults often feel isolated, guilty, trapped, and confused.
But there’s hope. Says biblical counselor and author David Powlison:
Your recovery will be a process of learning and remembering those two truths — you are not alone and there is hope — not just once, but over and over.
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Think about how bread gets made. It must be kneaded so that the yeast goes through the whole loaf. These two truths must be kneaded into who you are until they work through every part of you. The working of these truths into the deepest part of you takes time.
The damage you suffered may have been done in one or more terrible moments; the healing and the restoration unfolds at a human pace. It unfolds at your pace. It unfolds as part of your story, and it unfolds over time.
Lindy’s PTSD Story
Lindy Abbott, Christian blogger, wife, and mother suffered severe abuse as a young child and unwittingly dissociated to survive ongoing trauma. Dissociation protects a victim from awareness of the pain in the short run, but later she may develop relationship difficulties and inability to function.
As Lindy writes at her blog Abuse and Trauma Hope,
It is at this precise moment [of abuse] that the child unconsciously begins to protect the soul from utter destruction by separating the harmful/abusive experiences into hidden places in the soul. The mind does this without needing the child to actively think about what she needs to do to survive, it as an unconscious act of self-preservation.
Lindy says this about her abuse:
My life began in trauma and abuse as a child, affecting who I am, how I see, and how I feel. The abuse was hell but God has used it for good.
Truly, God has used what was meant for evil to be good in my life and to conform me to Christ Jesus.
I see things deeply. I feel deeply too. Sometimes really good, sometimes really bad. While I love to laugh and be silly, I am burdened by the seriousness of eternity.
Transformed by Grace
Horrific memories may also haunt someone with PTSD. And condemning words like “You are dirty and ugly” may invade thoughts. What happened was horrible but the truth is, your mind can be transformed by God’s grace. Indeed, you can apply the truth to your horrible situation.This journal helps.
“Because of her faith in Christ she can apply the truth that she is clothed in the righteousness of Christ and she is precious and loved. She can apply the truth of who she is in Christ to the truth of her past experiences,” says biblical counselor Eliza Jane Huie with Life Counseling Center.
Isn’t it true that each of us needs to remember who we are in Christ and apply this truth to our lives? “Having a painful past that still hurts is an opportunity to build a deeper confidence in the truth of God’s Word and what it says about you,” Huie says. “This is not an exercise in positive thinking. It is telling gospel truth to yourself.
As you speak gospel truth to horrible situations you’ve faced, let it make you desperate for God and for the love he has for you. Here’s a reassuring Bible truth:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:18-19, ESV
Sweet friends, whether you or a loved one suffered abuse or endured another trauma, know that God heals in his timing, and his timing is always right.
Do you want to talk with someone confidentially about your pain?
As you probably know I am a biblical counselor. I counsel women abused sexually as children and who experience anxiety, depression, and abandonment (adoption, death of a parent, marital infidelity, for instance). God wants to give you hope now.
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Please contact me for a complimentary phone consultation. I counsel women and families in person and by Skype.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Embrace the messy, sweet sister.
Our perfect God loves to love messy women like us. I’ve stuggled with anxiety. Even panic attacks. And maybe you have too. But God is with me. I know this because he keeps his promises! Always. Don’t you have messy struggles too?
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b
Have you experienced messy emotions? How about loneliness or messy relationships? Maybe your adult child ignores you. Maybe a dear friend won’t return your phone calls. Perhaps your gasoline tank is on empty and you have no idea where you’ll get money to pay for gas.
In this short article, you’re reminded of 3 truths for every Christ follower:
- God values you.
- He understands your hurt.
- He offers healing.
God Values You
God gets it, this hurt that weighs you down. And he offers you peace through Jesus Christ. Your past failures don’t push him away, nor do your present mistakes. Do you have any idea how much God values you?
Soak in God’s truth that you are valued, significant, and loved. Our God is tender toward you. He is Emmanuel — God with you. He calls you. . .Beloved.
Would you like my free ebooklet “5 Amazing Names God Calls You”?
To get it, click here. Fast, simple. And no spam. Ever.
God Understands Your Pain
Everyone has a story of pain. I’ll share one of mine. Would you like to share one of yours with me too? Feel free to send me a message.
Back in the early 1990’s, depression clawed my mind and darkened my mood. Anxiety rattled me too. Difficult memories storm-surged. Yes, there was my parents’ divorce but something even worse. Something I had never told anyone, not ever. And then I sought counseling.
I asked myself, how could I tell anyone my pain? Especially women in the church who seemed to have it all together?
Fast forward to 2000, the year of God’s specific call on my life.
A summer day. Sunny, a soft breeze. Me alone, in prayer. And God impressed on my heart this . . .
“Lucy, comfort my sheep who are hurting with the comfort you’ve received from me.”
“Who me?” I asked
“Trust me, Lucy.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
Like the fuzz of a dandelion, my worries flew away. “Okay, Lord.” Just as God understood my pain, he understands yours too. And he offers healing. Sometimes God’s healing comes quickly, but sometimes it seems as slow as molasses, don’t you agree?
And sometimes God heals us this side of heaven.
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God Offers Healing
God cherishes you and wants to heal you. He is our hope. Will you choose hope?
To help hurting Christian I went to seminary, read shelves of books, and became certified in biblical counseling. Now I’m furthering my education, working toward a doctorate in biblical counseling.
Over the years I’ve counseled Christian women and the leaders who serve them. Fearful women. Lonely women. Abused women. Women caught in addiction: shopping, alcohol, pornography. Women who’ve committed adultery. Women with hard pasts.
God accepts you just as you are. Like the woman at the well (John 4), an outcast among outcasts, you are loved by the One who ribbons the sky with rainbows. He want to embrace you, to heal you.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:13-15
Are you thirsty for living water? Do you ache to know the answer of hope for your heart?
Contact me with your questions and prayer requests. There’s hope.
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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Abused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.
Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser
I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.
Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).
While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.
I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.
If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?
ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.
- The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
- The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11
For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.
Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.
Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.
3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.
Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too
ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.
- The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.
There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no”
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(also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.
3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.
(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,