The 30-Day Praise Challenge for Parents (Review and giveaway)

Praise challenge

I received a review copy of The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents from Family Christian. The opinions contained in this review are entirely my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

This parenting thing is hard. There are so many days when I’d like to throw up my hands and walk away. Other days I think I’ve got it figured out — until I want to scream in frustration.

Parenting is a really big job. It’s a 24/7, never get a break kind of job. And it’s hard to get it right. I often feel like there are more moments where I fail than there are that I get it right. And I have to tell you there are a lot of moments where my attitude is as poor as the attitudes of the children I’m trying to parent.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working through The 30-Day Praise Challenge for Parents by Becky Harling. I received a copy from Family Christian to review, and I have to admit that I was skeptical that working through this book could do all the things that the back cover claimed. That little blurb on the back cover said that I would be amazed at how praising God each day would quiet my anxiety about my kids, provide protection for my family, break the chains of generational sin, deepen my children’s faith and strengthen my own spiritual life.

I’m not done with all 30 days, but I can tell you that this book has changed my attitude and my outlook on parenting. Spending just 10 to 20 minutes a day in directed praise toward God focused on parenting has helped me to see that obstacles can be overcome, children can change and some of those things that frustrate me so badly about my children can be part of God’s plan for their future.

You see, praise is a funny thing. You can’t praise God and remain angry at your kids. You can’t praise God and not find hope in a frustrating situation. You can’t praise God and not feel your own soul lifted up.

When we spend time praising God even in the midst of a parenting nightmare, we find ourselves focused on Him and what He can do instead of focusing on how inadequate we feel in the situation. When we acknowledge all the amazing attributes of God — His wisdom, His creation, His grace — and how they relate to our ability to parent our kids, we find ourselves feeling empowered and not alone.

The 30-Day Praise Challenge for Parents is broken down into 30 chapters, each with four sections: The Invitation, Listen, Pray and Journal. The Invitation is God’s invitation to you about that day’s topic. Based on scripture, it reminds you of the reason that God is worthy of praise. The Listen section contains suggestions for songs to listen to to enhance your praise time. The author even provides the entire playlist on YouTube and Spotify. The Pray section is a prayer for you to pray based on what you have learned in your praise time that day. Last, the Journal section gives you a prompt to journal about.

Using this book to focus your praise time on your parenting will change how you react to different parenting situations. Spending 30 days in praise will simply remind you that you are not alone, that you don’t have to solve every parenting challenge on your own. God is walking this road with you.

So, if you’re struggling to keep a good attitude in your parenting, check out The 30-Day Praise Challenge for Parents. You’ll be amazed at what 30 days of praising God will do.

And just to help you get started, Family Christian has graciously given me a $10 certificate to their stores to give away so you can buy your own copy. Just enter below. And be sure to check out Family Christian’s Facebook page so you don’t miss out on any of the great deals they offer.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a review copy of The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents from Family Christian. The opinions contained in this review are entirely my own. This post may contain affiliate links.

Dealing with Disappointment

disappointment

School registration was yesterday, and I think that there’s truly no day more ridden with tween and teen angst than middle school registration day. What team will I be on? Will I have any friends in my classes? Will I get a top locker or a bottom locker? What electives did I get?

As we walked through registration yesterday with my older daughter, I watched girl after girl express frustration or sadness with the answer to at least one of those questions — my own daughter included. I talked to other parents who had girls in tears because their friends were all on another team or because they didn’t get the schedule they wanted. My own daughter was upset that her best friend was on a different team and that she didn’t get any of the electives she wanted. She asked for art and creative writing. She got French.

Middle school is tough. There’s no getting around it. Those years between fifth and ninth grade are awkward ones no matter where you go to school. Your body is changing. Your interests are changing. Even your friends are changing. Small things like getting French instead of creative writing take on huge importance. The disappointments become magnified by hormones and the inability to see beyond today.

When my daughter was dealing with her disappointment yesterday, she expressed the thought that this was going to be a terrible year. That’s when I called a halt to the pity party. I reminded her that the type of year she has is more dependent on her own attitude than it is on her schedule, her team or her locker position. Our own attitudes often determine our success. That’s why it’s so important to help our kids see that there’s a bigger picture than their own frustration or disappointment. It’s important that we remind them that God has a plan.

Who knows? There may be someone in those particular classes that needs my daughter’s friendship or her encouragement. There may be someone who doesn’t know Jesus that will be influenced by my daughter’s relationship with Christ. Or it may be that there’s someone in those classes that my daughter needs to meet.

In the grand scheme of her life, 7th grade is a small blip on the radar, but things could happen this year that will change the trajectory of my daughter’s life. It’s my job to help her enter the year with an attitude of expectation, with a mind set on finding all that God has for her this year.

When our kids get bogged down in their own disappointment, it’s our job to help them see the bigger picture. It’s our job to acknowledge their frustration and then to teach them how to deal with it in a constructive manner. It’s our job to remind them that they don’t just need to survive their disappointment, they need to learn to thrive despite it.

 

Choosing Gratitude

attitude

After three days of a kid with a fever, we finally got out of the house yesterday. It was glorious. We went to the pool with some friends.  The girls burned off some pent-up energy, and I was happy to simply sit on the sidelines and enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Then we got home, and my younger daughter (the same one that had just gotten over the fever) started complaining about an itchy, watery eye. One look at her eye, and I stuck her in the car and took her to the Minute Clinic. A half hour later we had a pink eye diagnosis and a prescription for eye drops.

I would love to sit here and tell you that in light of the post I wrote on Monday that I took this all in stride. I would love to tell you that I didn’t rant and rave in my mind about the unfairness of it all. I would love to tell you that I started counting my blessings.

But I didn’t do any of those things. As I washed pillowcases and blankets and pretty much anything my daughter had touched in the past few days, I raged inside. This wasn’t fair. I’m not accomplishing anything this week. I just want a few days of normal.

I didn’t say any of it out loud, but I thought it. Oh, did I think it. Until my daughter started voicing her thoughts about the unfairness of it all. Her attitude went from smiling and happy earlier in the day to frustrated and mad. And I understood it. I felt the exact same way. Except that when my daughter started raging, I realized what it looked and sounded like. I realized how insignificant these illnesses are in the grand scheme of the world. And I set out to change my attitude and my daughter’s.

We spent some time talking about it. We acknowledged that it wasn’t fair that she had just gotten better and now she was sick again. We talked about how frustrating that is for everyone in our family. And then we talked about choices.

You see, every day, we have a choice about how we’re going to deal with our circumstances. We can choose to let our circumstances overwhelm us or we can choose to be thankful despite our circumstances. The point of view we choose will affect every part of our day and every part of our attitude.

God doesn’t tell us to be thankful when bad things happen. He tells us to be thankful in the midst of our circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Our circumstances have the ability to rob us of joy and thanksgiving — but only if we let them.

I am not thankful that my daughter is sick again. I am not thankful that we may have to change our plans for this week yet again. I am not thankful that my older daughter is getting the short end of the stick in not being able to hang out with her friends because her sister is sick. And God doesn’t ask me to be thankful for all of those things.

However, even in the midst of our circumstances, I can find things for which to be thankful. I am thankful for the relative health of my girls. I am thankful for doctors and medicine. I am thankful that these illnesses, though they have come one on top of the other, are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. They’re not cancer or diabetes or some other life-threatening illness. I am thankful that even when I’m less than grateful, God is still there, loving me and caring for me.

So, today, my daughter and I are going to choose to be thankful despite the circumstances that will keep us home for one more day. We’re going to choose to be thankful that we have a house to stay in, doctors to care for us, and a family that loves each other — even if today we don’t want to touch each other for fear of spreading germs. We are going to choose not to wallow in self-pity but to enjoy the blessings this day brings our way.

It may not be easy to set aside those feelings of frustration and anger, but it is necessary. And having a grateful heart pushes those feelings to the side. It’s almost impossible to be frustrated and angry and thankful at the same time. So, today we’re choosing gratitude in our house. Will you choose it in yours — no matter the circumstances?

Let Me Be Singing When the Evening Comes

I’m taking some time off this week to attend our annual family reunion, so I’m running some of my favorite posts from the archives. Enjoy and I’ll see you on Monday.

Yesterday, I planned a water balloon fight for my girls with some of the neighbor girls. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s hot. We’re at that point in the summer where the lack of routine is beginning to get to everyone.

What I failed to consider was the excitement of waiting until 3 p.m. to have their water balloon fight would make it nearly impossible for me to work in the morning. I also failed to plan for the water balloons not to break when they threw them, leading our water balloon fight to degenerate into the girls using more force than expected to hurl them at each other. We ended up with tears and one child in timeout because she hit her sister (not with a balloon).

By the time my husband got home, I was done. What had started out as a promising, fun day ended with me just wanting 30 minutes of peace and quiet. Yet, we still had to go sit outside in 100-degree heat to watch my older daughter play soccer. I was grumpy in the car on the way there. You know how it goes, sitting in the front seat choosing to be silent instead of snapping the children’s heads off.

On the way home from her game, the radio began playing one of my favorite songs: 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. If you haven’t heard it, check it out below:

As we listened, I was struck by these lyrics:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Last night, and too many nights lately, I haven’t been singing when the evening comes. I’ve been frustrated and tired. I’ve been crabby and not much fun to be around.

Spending all day, every day with my girls, trying to work from home when the girls want my attention, cleaning out our basement to get ready for a garage sale next weekend have all combined to make me one grumpy and songless mommy.

Last night I was reminded that no matter the circumstances, my joy comes from God. It’s not found in checking all the items off my to-do list for the day. It’s not found in having perfectly behaved, polite children. It’s not found in having Prince Charming for a husband. My joy is found in knowing that God loves me enough to send His son to die for me. That joy never fades and is not dependent on my circumstances.

And that joy brings strength. Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” When we let God’s joy fill our hearts, we find we are strong enough to face whatever comes our way. We can have joy even when the kids are fighting, the laundry is piling up and the project at work seems like it will never get done.

So, my prayer today is that we’d all be singing when the evening comes — no matter what the day brings.

Linking up today with Denise in Bloom.

Learning to Lose

She sat in the locker room dejected. Frustrated, sad, angry tears rolled down her face.

This wasn’t how we wanted the day to end. Her hockey team had lost it’s first tournament — with a minute left in overtime. They had played so well. They had played so hard. This little team that no one expected much of had made it to the championship game. They were short six players, including a couple of their best. They had never played a tournament together before. They had gone so much farther than we thought they would.

None of that mattered to my daughter. She wanted to win. She knew they had played well enough to win. It just wasn’t their day.

It all came crashing down with one well-placed shot. No one on her team was out of position. No one made a huge mistake that caused the goal. The puck just got through, ending in celebration on one end of the ice and hanging heads on the other.

It’s a tough life lesson, this learning how to lose. For so many years there’s been a philosophy in parenting and teaching that there should be no winners and no losers. Everyone gets a pat on the back no matter how much or how little they have accomplished.

But the truth is that in life, there are winners and losers, and our kids have to learn how to do both with an attitude that pleases God. My daughter didn’t take losing well. She didn’t want her medal. She didn’t want to talk to anyone. She wanted to blame someone.

So we spent some time on Saturday learning how to lose. We spent some time learning that God expects our actions to honor Him no matter how disappointed we might be, no matter how frustrated, no matter how sad. Letting emotions get in the way of God-honoring action simply isn’t an excuse.

When our kids lose, because they will, we have to be ready to help them lose well. No one likes to lose, but we can honor God even when we lose. We can congratulate the other team or person. We can encourage our teammates. We can be gracious when someone compliments our play.

Winning is fun, but losing builds character. If our kids can learn to live out the words of Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him,” they become a light to others even in the midst of their own frustration.

No matter what our kids are doing — whether it’s winning or losing — we want them to let Jesus shine through to others. They can only learn to do that if we are there to teach them in the moment. Grab a winning or losing moment with your kids and teach them to live out the words of Colossians 3:17.

Don’t miss your chance to win a copy of the book You Have Been Invited! Enter here.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.

When You Have a Child Who Can But Won’t

My younger daughter has decided the rules of grammar don’t apply to her. Capitalization and punctuation are unnecessary conventions as far as she is concerned. “But why do I have to capitalize and use periods?” is often her cry. She has had to redo numerous papers because of this refusal to follow the rules of grammar.

It’s not that she can’t capitalize and punctuate. It’s not that she doesn’t know the rules for capitalizing and punctuating. It’s that she doesn’t want to follow them. She chooses not to make the effort.

And it frustrates me to no end. Watching her lose points on papers that I know she should get is irritating to this grammar-loving mother. It’s people like my daughter that make sure I have a job as an editor.

It’s not just the grammar. It’s the underlying issue of choosing not to do what she’s perfectly capable of doing that really causes frustration for me. I’m a mom. I want my kids to live up to their potential. I want them to choose to do the right thing, whether it’s putting a period at the end of a sentence, biting their tongues instead of hurting someone with their words, or standing up for what’s right even when it’s difficult.

James 4:17 says “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Now, not capitalizing and punctuating a sentence isn’t a sin (although this editor mother sometimes thinks it should be). In our house, it’s simply an example of a larger problem — one of choosing not to do the things you know you should. We have this issue in other areas, like controlling our tongues and being respectful to others.

So, what do you do when you have a child who deliberately chooses to do the wrong thing? One who knows the right thing to do but won’t do it? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. I wish I could tell you we’ve conquered this problem and there are three simple rules to follow, but I can’t. What I can tell you is that we can’t fix it on our own. It’s a heart problem, and God is the only one in the business of changing hearts. So, if you have a child who can make good choices but won’t, there are a few things you can do to let God work.

Pray. There is nothing more powerful in changing our children’s attitudes and behaviors than prayer. James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Ask God to change your child’s heart so that it seeks after God’s ways.

Be consistent. If there’s a behavior you want to change in your child, be consistent in requiring it. Every time my daughter brings home papers on which she loses points for capitalization and punctuation, she has to redo them — whether her teacher requires it or not. By being consistent, we’re letting our daughter know that there are consequences for making the wrong choices.

Let natural consequences happen. Don’t remove the natural consequences of your child’s choices. Let your child get in trouble, get a bad grade or have to apologize to a friend. Natural consequences are a great teacher. When we shield our kids from those consequences, we take away the immediate pain but we also take away the lesson they can learn.

Pray some more. God is in the heart change business. Actions and words come from the heart. If our kids are choosing to make poor decisions, then it’s a heart issue. And we have to leave the heart changing up to God.

Having a child who chooses to consistently do the wrong thing is frustrating and saddening. It’s the hard part of being a parent, but remember all kids struggle in some area. All adults struggle to make the right choices, too. With lots of prayer and consistency, we can let God do the heart work of changing our child’s behavior and attitude.

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.

Let Me Be Singing When the Evening Comes

Yesterday, I planned a water balloon fight for my girls with some of the neighbor girls. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s hot. We’re at that point in the summer where the lack of routine is beginning to get to everyone.

What I failed to consider was the excitement of waiting until 3 p.m. to have their water balloon fight would make it nearly impossible for me to work in the morning. I also failed to plan for the water balloons not to break when they threw them, leading our water balloon fight to degenerate into the girls using more force than expected to hurl them at each other. We ended up with tears and one child in timeout because she hit her sister (not with a balloon).

By the time my husband got home, I was done. What had started out as a promising, fun day ended with me just wanting 30 minutes of peace and quiet. Yet, we still had to go sit outside in 100-degree heat to watch my older daughter play soccer. I was grumpy in the car on the way there. You know how it goes, sitting in the front seat choosing to be silent instead of snapping the children’s heads off.

On the way home from her game, the radio began playing one of my favorite songs: 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. If you haven’t heard it, check it out below:

 

As we listened, I was struck by these lyrics:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Last night, and too many nights lately, I haven’t been singing when the evening comes. I’ve been frustrated and tired. I’ve been crabby and not much fun to be around.

Spending all day, every day with my girls, trying to work from home when the girls want my attention, cleaning out our basement to get ready for a garage sale next weekend have all combined to make me one grumpy and songless mommy.

Last night I was reminded that no matter the circumstances, my joy comes from God. It’s not found in checking all the items off my to-do list for the day. It’s not found in having perfectly behaved, polite children. It’s not found in having Prince Charming for a husband. My joy is found in knowing that God loves me enough to send His son to die for me. That joy never fades and is not dependent on my circumstances.

And that joy brings strength. Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” When we let God’s joy fill our hearts, we find we are strong enough to face whatever comes our way. We can have joy even when the kids are fighting, the laundry is piling up and the project at work seems like it will never get done.

So, my prayer today is that we’d all be singing when the evening comes — no matter what the day brings.

Linking up today with Denise in Bloom.

Strategies for Teaching Contentment

The gift shop was closed.

We had spent a fun day at an exotic animal farm bed and breakfast in central Kansas (I know, it’s an odd place for exotic animals). We had fed giraffes, petted kangaroos, heard a macaw say hello and ridden a camel. But all of that enjoyment was sucked away because the gift shop was closed.

My girls really wanted T-shirts to take home with them, and had the gift shop been open, we probably would have gotten them each one. But it wasn’t. It was closed, and it wasn’t going to open before we left. And our joy and contentment was gone.

It could have been a teachable moment. Yep, it could have been. But after wandering around in 100-degree heat for an hour and knowing that we still had six hours together in the car ahead of us, this mommy missed the teachable moment and went for the grumpy one. I essentially told my kids to “get over it.”

Funny how we’re talking about contentment this week, and I missed a perfect opportunity to teach my kids about being content. All they took away from that exchange was “we didn’t get we wanted and mom’s in a bad mood.”

So, in our better moments as parents, how do we teach our kids to be content — with who God made them to be, with the stuff they have and with the circumstances in their lives?

It starts with us. You’ve probably noticed that most of the posts about contentment this week haven’t included a lot about teaching your kids to be content. That’s because we have to learn contentment before we can teach it to our kids. This is one of those things that is more often caught than taught. So, if contentment is a struggle for you (and I think it is for most of us), now is the time to begin working on it. As you teach your kids, be honest with them about your struggles with being content. Knowing that you struggle will help your kids to know how difficult it is and make them more willing to open up about their struggles.

Give your kids a broader view. Help your kids understand that not everyone in the world lives like they do. Get them serving those who are less fortunate in your community. Work at a food pantry, organize a book drive or help out an after-school program. Our kids need to see people in need to understand what “having enough” really means.

Cultivate thankful hearts. Make thankfulness second nature. Ask your kids what they’re thankful for on a regular basis. Keep a thankfulness journal or bulletin board, where everyone writes down the things they are thankful for. When your kids get the “gimmes” or have hearts full of discontent, have them make a list of the things for which they are thankful. There’s no room for discontent in a heart full of thankfulness.

Have a contentment code word. Create a “code” word with your kids that you can use to remind each other to be content. Let your kids use it to remind you not to grumble, and you use it to remind them to be content with what they have. Make it something fun and appropriate that only you will know.

Memorize Philippians 4:8 as a family. Talk about the fact that contentment is something we can learn with God’s help. Remind your kids that when they feel discontent, they need to ask God to help them learn to be content no matter the circumstances.

We can all use help learning to be content. Use teaching your kids about contentment as an opportunity for you to learn contentment as well. When we support each other as a family, our entire family grows together. Put contentment on at the top of the list of things to learn together.

What is Contentment?

My 9-year-old daughter sat on the couch, reading the books she had bought yesterday. She was enjoying the bargain book “Extreme Deadly Creatures.” (Yes, we have some interesting reading taste in our house.) She was perfectly content — until her older sister decided to count her money. This led to a comparison of how much money each child had saved — and contentment flew out the window.

Why is it so hard to be content with what we have? I think it’s because, many times, we don’t understand what contentment is. I often think we want contentment to just fall on us like a blanket. We want it to just come out of nowhere and fill us up. The problem is contentment doesn’t work like that.

Because contentment is a choice.

It is a learned behavior. It isn’t something that just falls from the sky or just happens. It takes effort on our part. Paul had this to say about contentment: “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). We have to learn to be content.

Contentment isn’t happiness. We can’t control whether we feel happy or not. Happy is an emotion. It simply happens. The word happy comes from the same word root as the word happenstance, which is just another fancy word for circumstances. Happiness is dependent on our circumstances. Contentment is not. We can feel content despite our circumstances.

Dictionary.com defines the word content as “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.” We are content when we can say, “I have enough.” When we look around our homes and at ourselves, and we don’t want anything more, then we are content.

Contentment doesn’t mean we stop following after Christ to become more like Him. It doesn’t mean that we’re satisfied to stop growing. It doesn’t mean that we stop trying to lose that weight we need to lose or earning that college degree we want to earn. It simply means that other than following after Jesus, those things do not become the source of our ability to be content.

Contentment means that if the scale goes up instead of down one week, we don’t feel like a failure. If we get a D instead of an A on a test, we don’t lose our perspective. If our kids throw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, we don’t lose our peace of mind because of it.

Being content means we find our joy and our contentment in who we are in Christ, not in the things we own or the way we look or the achievements we’ve accomplished. Contentment comes from God, not from our circumstances.

When we understand what contentment is, we can begin to learn how to be content in any circumstance. Take a minute to examine your understanding of contentment and if you need to, change the way you think about what it means to be content.

All this week, Everyday Truth is focusing on contentment. If you missed the first part of the series, you can find it here. Don’t miss tomorrow’s post when we talk about Contentment is Learned.

Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife, Growing Home, and A Pause on the Path.

Learning to Be Content Series

We’re having vacation envy around our house. My girls’ best friends just found out they’re going to Orlando to go to Universal Studios in the fall, and my girls (and I) are struggling with jealousy. It’s not that we haven’t been to Orlando. We have. We’ve just never been to Universal Studios. And it’s been four years since we went on a big family vacation.

We’ve got a beautiful new basement. We’ve been on a bunch of smaller trips. We get to eat out about once a week. We have two cars. We have more clothes than we can wear. Yet, we’re still struggling with envy. We’re still struggling to be content with what we have.

Contentment is a tough thing. It’s a choice. And it’s a hard one. In the culture that we live in where everyone seems to have everything, it’s sometimes tough to not look at our neighbors and friends and want what they have. It doesn’t seem to matter that we have more than 98% of the world. In the moment, all that matters is that we don’t have what someone that we know has.

I think that learning to be content and teaching our kids to be content is one of the hardest things to do. How do we teach something that we struggle with so much ourselves? That’s why we’re going to spend every day this week talking about contentment. Join me this week for our Learning to Be Content series. Here’s the line-up for the week. You won’t want to miss a day:

Monday: Introduction

Tuesday: What is Contentment?

Wednesday: Contentment is Learned

Thursday: Being Content with What You Have

Friday: Strategies for Teaching Contentment

Contentment is an important character quality for us to have and for us to teach. When we stop striving to gain more and to have things just because everyone else has them, we can focus on the things God wants us to focus on. When we are striving to gain things, tangible or intangible, we take our focus off of God. We become consumed by things that are not from God. 1 Timothy 6:6 says “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

And that’s what I want. Godliness with contentment leading to great gain. If that’s what you want too, leave me a comment to let me know you’re joining me for this series. Then share this with your friends so they can join us, too. Let’s learn to be content so we and our kids can focus on the things of God rather than our own desires.

 

Linking up today with The Better Mom and Graceful.