Parenting Requires Prayer

Parenting is such an amazing experience. I will never forget April 16, 1994 at 2 am in the morning. Janae and I set in her hospital room holding our brand new baby girl, realizing what a miracle she was and what God had done for us.

We cried, hugged, and kissed our baby girl. We also did something that seemed the most natural thing to do. We prayed. We thanked God for seeing us through, for giving us a child we weren’t supposed to have for saving her life when she was born dead.

Really more than that in the moment we realized what God made us responsible for and how ill equipped we really were to do everything this precious baby would need from us to become everything God intended for her to be.

We prayed, God help us to lead, help us to care, help us to know. Prepare her future, surround her with the right people, help us to be wise.

It was absolutely apparent that God was trusting us with this child, and we would need Him every moment.

Parenting is fun, exciting, sobering, and
challenging. If we truly realize our role as parents and our responsibility for the outcome of our children then we realize prayer is paramount to successful parenting.

Prayer is simply talking to God. Praising Him, worshipping Him, acknowledging Him and asking Him for help.

What should I pray?

1. His will for their lives
2. His protection/provision for their lives
3. His direction
4. Your relationship with your kids and their relationships with others.
5. Most important submit yourself to His way of doing things in your parenting and that you will have the courage to lead, love, and discipline your children to point them in the direction of His purpose for them.
6. For them to Know God and follow Him.

Parenting requires prayer. You don’t have to do this on your own.

Parenting With Purpose

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Far to many of us live life in a reactionary way. Merely surviving, change that, merely existing.

Life is much more effective and meaningful when it’s lived on purpose. Parenting, like life, is much less impacting when it’s done in a reactionary way as opposed to a proactive way.

Just because we can’t control everything in life doesn’t mean we can’t control some thing’s. We can control our choices. We can control our decision making. We can control the way we approach parenting.

Having a great family doesn’t just happen. It’s intentional. Having great kids doesn’t just happen its intentional.

You might say sometimes people are intentional about parenting and their kids don’t do well. Maybe so, however you have a lot better chance of things working out better if you’re intentional about it.

Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Ephesians 6:4 MSG)

The first part of this verse tells us how not to parent. If you’ll notice the implication is that these are reactive behaviors. The second part of the verse tells us how to parent effectively, notice these are intentional purposeful behaviors. “take them by the hand and lead them.”

Don’t just have kids and hang out with them and expect everything will be fine. Decide what you expect from yourself as a parent, and what the expectations for your family are. What is your purpose? Then make choices that will accomplish that goal.

Ask yourself…

1. Do I have expectations for myself, my kids, and my family?

2. Am I letting life act on me or am I acting on life?

3. Am I taking time to think about and work out our expectations for our kids and family or are we just going along to get along?

I’m challenging myself to make daily decisions to parent with purpose and know the results will be fruitful.

How?

1. Prayer. Pray for my kids, their future, our relationship, and their purpose daily.

2. Communication. Talking to and listening to each other until we come to mutual understanding.

3. Give clear, concise, guidance and direction. In order to be purposeful, your kids must know where you stand. Hypocrisy is a parents enemy.

4. Lead to the goal. Ask yourself an honest question: if my kids follow me where will they end up?

Parent on purpose. It will release the potential in your children.

Parenting Can Be Problematic

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Problematic

1. Of the nature of a problem; doubtful; uncertain; questionable.

2. The uncertainties or difficulties inherent in a situation or plan.

If you’ve never had a major fear, or been uncertain about anything become a parent, that will change overnight.

Unfortunately because of the inherent issues that come with parenting many parents approach it like the Elephant to the mouse with utter terror.

Parenting can be problematic there is no doubt. As a parent there have been many times I’ve felt I’ll equipped. Numerous times I’ve been uncertain as to what my next move was. Countless times I’ve been just plain fearful because I can’t control circumstances where my children are away from me.

However problematic parenting is though, if we are to be effective parents we can’t approach it in fear.

Now let me say even if we approach parenting in the right way it will not change the problematic nature of parenting, but approaching it the right way will make us better parents.

Luke 2:42-52 tells the story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus going with their family to Jerusalem for the census and on their way home Joseph and Mary realize Jesus is not with them. Jesus was 12 years old and He was not with them. They had gone 1 1/2 days journey and their son was gone.

Have you ever lost a child? One of the most terrifying moments in parenting is if your child gets detached from you and you have no idea where they are.

It happened to Janae and I when Taylor was only 4 years old. We were in a local mall. We had taken a couple of our friends kids with us. Janae had the little girl in the store and I had her brother and Taylor outside the store on a bench. We were just talking.

Taylor got bored sitting there with us and ask if she could go to mommy. I could see mommy right inside the store, I pointed to her and made sure Taylor could see her. Then I said, go to mommy.

She began to walk in the store, her mother couldn’t have been more than 20 feet from us. As she begin to walk to her mommy I went back to my conversation.

At least 20 minutes later Janae is through with that store and comes out where we were. She asked me, where’s Taylor? To which I replied with the same question. Then it immediately dawned on us she was gone. We started trying to figure out where she could have gone. As the realization becomes more clear i start hearing this thought in my head that you hear when children are missing. “The longer they’re gone the less chance you will find them.”

Needless to say panic gripped us. To make matters worse we were in Norman Oklahoma and the college football game just let out and the mall was filling up with people.

It’s amazing how all decorum and polite behavior goes out the window when your kids in danger. We started yelling, and asking every person we saw if they had seen her. I was turning racks over in stores, Janae was bawling and grabbing people to help. People all over the mall stopped what they were doing saw our desperation and started looking for Taylor. After what seemed an eternity the mall police walked up to us and had Taylor with them. Somehow she turned and instead of going in the store she went to the complete other end of the mall. She was headed outside when a clerk saw her and ask where her parents were she said, “I think their lost.” Although I can laugh about it now there was no humor in it then. It truly scared us.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to really lose your child and my heart sincerely goes out to those who have lost children to death or abduction. It’s like your heart is being ripped from your chest.

Can you imagine Joseph and Mary’s shear panic when they realized they had gone a day and a half’s journey and their son was not with them. When they returned they found him in the temple, debating with the religious scholars. When they asked what every parent asks, “why did you scare us like that?” his answer was clear and concise. “did you not know I must be about my fathers business?”

The bible said Mary did not fully understand what he meant but she pondered these things in her heart.

The truth is parenting is problematic. It can be so uncertain. When your kids are sick and there is nothing you can do. When you need to make a decision on behalf of your kids and you truly don’t know the best move to make. When you see the pitfalls and you’ve trained and disciplined, and encouraged and taught them but they have to make the decision and it’s beyond your control. When you go through the seasons and have to let it happen. They grow up right in front of your eyes and you make sure you participate in everything they do but it went so fast that you feel like you missed something anyway. When they mature and become independent and prepare to leave your house and it feels like they are being stolen. These are the problematic times of parenting along with so many more.

Parenting can be problematic but it is also immeasurably wonderful.

When Mary found Jesus, she realized she couldn’t control everything, but that this boy had purpose.

The wrong approach to parenting is to try to do it by fear. It will stymie your children’s life and force them into an unhealthy relationship with you.

I remember constantly saying they are growing up to fast and in prayer God rebuked me and said if you spend all this time regretting their growing up you are going to miss the beauty of it.

Don’t let fear cripple you as a parent or make you a manipulator trying to control. But let your love for God and your love for your kids rule your approach to parenting them. Train them, teach them, discipline them and most importantly believe in them and the purpose given to them by God.

How?

Pray, enjoy, participate, love and believe in them

Don’t let the problematic nature of parenting make it a nightmare, but allow the purpose and plan of God to have its complete work and let parenting be the sweet dream it can be.

Parenting is a Process

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Parenting is not about perfection, but about understanding the process of maturation. Not only for the child but for the parent.

Process is…

1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end.

2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner:

I think it’s interesting how the first child relationship works. You have the experience of your parents to go by, or even the books you read, and lord on that first one we read every book out there. Some of which were good and others which were garbage.

Even though you have those
Experiences and the books when that first child is born its as off all that goes out the window and your begging your parents to please stay and don’t leave this baby in your feeble care as to endanger it because you have no clue as to what to do.

Any parent who have not had that fear I truly worry about. It’s at
That moment the process of parenting begins. You quickly find out how imperfect you are and realize that you’ve begun a process that’s as much about you systematically changing as it is about your baby growing.

Life is seasonal, it’s incremental and if you desire to become a great parent you’ll be patient with the process.

Baby stage-you’re getting use to the fact the you are solely responsible for the life of this little one. You can’t get
them to sleep right, they are messy, and they can do nothing for themselves.

They have the ability to reveal your weaknesses. How easily frustrated you are. How impatient and how fast you can turn on your spouse.

This season can be funny but in a very real sense terrifying.

Toddler stage-this is a fun season, they learn so many things, how to crawl, walk, talk, and completely play the angles. Yes they learn to manipulate. You find out again how imperfect you are realizing you can be yanked around by your emotions by a little 20 lb twerp.

Believe it or not I think it’s at this stage I most parents forget the process all together and make some of our biggest parenting mistakes.

Pre-school stage-this stage is fantastic and fun as well as a full on Frenzy. Many times it’s at this stage parents will have another child and deal with school preparation and releasing their child into the real world. The process for the child is becoming a bit independent from mom and dad and the process for parents is the ability to let that happen without becoming a control freak.

Elementary stage-this is the stage where you realize the baby’s gone and they are a little boy or girl. This season goes fast and crashes right into the next with a bang. The process for the child is massive cognitive development, seemingly at the speed of light, and for parents it is the process of learning how to help navigate friendships, hurt feelings, school stresses and pre-adolescent challenges. While going through a process of change theirselves trying to know how to be a parent, coach, counselor, and doctor all at once.

Adolescent stage-this stage is what I call elongated rapid change. This season is a long time of change but seems things are changing quickly day to day. For the child it’s fun, confusing, emotional, terrifying, and plain old weird. What’s interesting about this stage is that the process for the child and parent is exactly the same. Fun, confusing, emotional, terrifying, and plain old weird.

Young adult phase-seems this stage would be easier than the rest , simply because you’ve had this time to figure it all out. Truth be told it has been one of the hardest stages for me. Letting go is hard to do. Incredibly hard.

As I said before all of this doesn’t take perfection as a parent it takes understanding times and seasons. Understanding the process. The process the kids are going through growing up and the process the parent is going through helping to manage that process, while managing their own process of change.

My advice is to treat parenting not as much as a teaching experience from you but a learning experience for you. Then use what you learn to walk your children through the process of life.

So stop the madness of trying to be the perfect parent. It’s not going to happen anyway, but be patient with the process and treat each stage with the importance it deserves.

Process points:

Baby stage provide love, security and care. In your actions and tone. When you feel like a failure suck it up they are depending on you

Toddler stage-don’t make the mistake of “letting anything go.” This is such a huge development time. Now is the time to start drawing parameters, while empowering potential.

Pre-school stage-be ready to walk through the first stage of release. Be very encouraging and use positive reinforcement to guide positive behavior while not being afraid to confront wrong behaviors. Instilling the ability in them to learn how to be interdependent.

Elementary stage-listen, listen, listen

Adolescence stage– don’t believe the negative lies, be patient, be honest, communicate, communicate, communicate.

Young adult-take on role of guidance counselor. Relationship changes a lot and you have to let it.

This process of parenting is very deceitful. At times it seems like life is moving at a snails pace then before you know it the stages are over and you’re being forced to let go. So be a part of the process.

Bad parenting can be defined as observing, good parenting can be defined as participating. Get involved in the process and forget about perfection.

Coming Soon…blog series on parenting

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For the next few days I thought I would blog on parenting. Maybe some things I’ve learned will help you. Here are some topics…

Parenting is a process

Parenting can be problematic

Parenting with purpose

Parenting purposefully is powerful

Parenting requires prayer

Parenting requires promise

Parenting requires the right pace

Parenting requires planning

Parenting requires playing

Parenting requires proficiency

Parenting requires practical communication

Be watching for these hope they help. No expert, just a parent who has great kids. I’m blessed.

What’s Important?

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What are you building with your life? Just thinking this morning that building ministry is so very important.

However in order to build effective ministry to others we must first build health into our own lives.

Health questions:

1. Am I remembering my first ministry is to the ones God gave me to steward. My wife and kids.

How can I effectively minister to others if my first responsibility is not met. Our family must be priority. You don’t get healthy by talking about it, you have to work at it.

2. Am I building health into my spiritual, physical, and financial life?

If I’m to be effective for others I must be a healthy me. Not encumbered by self inflicted spiritual, physical and financial lack.

This may seem like a simplistic thought but I am personally tired of all the casualties of an out of balance unhealthy approach to ministry in the name of reaching others. Reaching others is of major importance but will be illegitimate at the cost of personal health and completely ineffective.

So let’s build health and reach the world.

Home Sweet Home

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I absolutely love traveling. Especially for mission efforts. Global reach is a real passion for me.

This latest trip was fantastic. Our plans were accomplished, and God showed up in so many ways.

Africa is a beautiful continent and Rwanda and Uganda have a special place in my heart.

As I sit here in the JFK airport I feel like Dorothy, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home. As a matter of fact I could use some red shoes right now if clicking them together would get me home quicker.

Once I get in the states I’m ready to be with my girls so this last few ours are a real bother to me. Patience, I need it bad.

One thought I share with all short term missionaries on our teams is the idea of coming home with a mission. I think it’s worthy to share with you here.

The thing that makes a global reach effort so powerful for those on the team is that every day has a mission. You are not distracted by all the “stuff” of the day and every day has a specific purpose. I always ask the teams, how would this play out in our every day lives if we took that home.

I want to encourage you and myself, let’s begin to live every day like a mission. Living life for a purpose. What if we didn’t let the busyness distract us and decided each morning that we will have a mission for the day.

If we were to really do that, we could reach so many people, and change so many lives, and make the name of Jesus famous. So it’s good to be home but I’m home on a mission.

What will your mission be this week?