Operate from Purpose, Not Pain

If god dwells in me, with me, He should be evident in what I say and do. I must remember that He dwells and give Him free reign to respond for me, to say and do what I should say and do. Sometimes that’s hard when people have hurt me. My focus can be on the pain, responding to it instead of the present issues regardless of their merit. I know I’m not alone.

We can take this habit into all our relationships, including parenting, and the pain response only complicates issues. I explore this further in my latest EEW column, which begins below:

I recall only one painful moment at the hands of my parents, my mother actually. She called me snotty. I don’t remember what I had done, but I remember the crush in my spirit when my mom called me a name. There may have been other times, but they haven’t stuck with me.

Overall, my parents encouraged me, provided materially well for me and gave me a good moral foundation. They were good parents. My dad has since passed and was only able to see me parent the first of his grandsons. My mom has seen my husband and me in action, up close this year for the six months she lived with us. Without going into detail let me just say she has tried to impose her parenting methods on me, and some of her comments have been painful. She has even caused me to question my parenting skills.

I can only imagine what impact the pain on those of you who grew up with abusive parents has had on your psyche and all your relationships, including your parenting one. I empathize with you; my childhood painful moment still stings a bit and my adulthood painful moments are still fresh. But in all of your pain and mine, one thing remains true: Jesus died to set the captives free. This is more than us being loosed from Satan’s bound but includes us being loosed from our broken hearts, our setbacks, and our letdowns (Isaiah 61:1-3). We know Jesus is the remedy for all our pain, helping us to parent out of purpose instead of pain. Read the rest here.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Faydra Deon responding so quickly to fixing my website
Tyora responding to fix my site according to our previously worked out conditions
Christen being here to care for the children while I resolved my website issue
Going on a double date with Nicole and Jeremi
Jeremi wanting to preserve the moment with a picture
Attending and covering the EACH Resource Fair
Working with Ruby Bailey
Seeing Charyse flow in her gift on the EACH artists’ stage
Brother Joe telling me how proud he was of me contributing to Your First Year of Motherhood
Seeing LaSonjia and Sterling volunteer with EACH

Parenting Partner & More

Christen B. Johnson, more than my babysitter

I love this woman. My husband and boys do, too. We don’t know what we would do without her. Four years ago she started as my babysitter, but she is now a daughter, big sister, grace grower, an integral and intimate part of my family. She is the appendage I didn’t know was missing and sorely needed. I love this woman (Oh, I told you that!). I am so grateful for Christen B. Johnson, my glorious sweetheart! Read more in my latest EEW article, which begins below, about our relationship, how she has helped me beyond babysitting and how you, too, can be strengthened with parenting partnerships:

She came to me suddenly, unexpectedly with her bubbly way and smiling face. She had sat there in a center row, face focused front, but when I sat next to her she flashed me her 32s and my then 7 month old Nate clamored to be with her. We didn’t know her but she knew of me. She introduced herself and told me that she heard our women’s pastor mention me, knew that I was on maternity leave from ministry and had wondered who I was. Christen said she was single with no children and free to babysit my children anytime. I nodded and smiled. Even though I had just lost the help of another single woman with no kids who volunteered for six months to serve me and my family, mainly helping me with my newborn, it would take more than an introduction and a smile before I could trust this woman with my kids.

But after weeks of her offering and my desperation I invited this 24-year-old to have dinner with my family every Tuesday before our midweek services so we could get to know her. Immediately my boys liked her; my husband and I did, too, so I had her help me with the boys on Tuesdays and Sundays, the days my husband was fully engaged in ministry himself and I could supervise her interaction. Read the rest here.

My boys and Christen’s niece at the park with Christen

Nate at the library with Christen

Joshua playing ‘Ode to Joy’ on the pipes at the library with Christen

Justus at the library with Christen

My One Thousand Gifts List

An invitation to contribute a cooking video to The Brand New Mommy Blog
Sharon rejoicing with me
Carla rejoicing with me
Flynn loading and running the dishwasher
Flynn calling Vince to produce my video
Vince being excited about producing my video
Children-initiated praise and worship
Nate blowing his trumpet in the corner toward the vase like he was making sure to praise God everywhere
A full night’s rest and early rising to have a rich time with God and a great start to prepare three meals
A clear outline for the parenting column

Discipline Gone Wrong

What Do You Think? Wednesday
Sometimes disciplining a child biblically can be hard when the child is rebellious and hell-bent on remaining that way. Their behavior and attitude make you want to punch them. I know I’m not the only recovering strong black woman who feels this way. A lot of us, other women and daddies, too, feel this way. But the punching, slapping, cussing and throwing kids and things at kids’ way is not the way to discipline, regardless of their actions. Read more of my thoughts on this as I delve into what the Creflo Dollar child discipline ruckus should remind Christian parents about disciplining our children. This is my latest EEW column, which begins below. Read it and tell me what you think:

I told you about the time I wanted to punch Josh and the time I wanted to cuss him out and the time of the showdown. I have had my mommy moments when I have wanted to take my kids out of the world that I brought them into. But how does the discipline moment for the Christian get to the point where the police are involved, not because someone in a public bathroom witnessed, disagreed with your methods and called the police, but your own child called them to your house?

By now you have heard this is what happened to Creflo Dollar, the megachurch pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, GA. News reports say Dollar and his 15-year-old daughter argued because he said she couldn’t go to a party. At some point the verbal sparring got physical, with Dollar allegedly choking, slapping, punching, and hitting his daughter with a shoe, though he denies punching his daughter.

Dollar says he was just trying to restrain her after she hit him. According to the incident report, Alexandria Dollar, 19, sister of the 15 year old, says her father “put both hands around her sister’s neck and choked her for about five seconds.” She also alleges that her dad grabbed her sister by the shoulders and slapped her in the face. And the 15 year old on the 911 call says the reported incident was “not the first time.” Dollar was arrested, taken to Fayette County Jail and released on $5,000 bond. He faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and cruelty to children.

This incident disturbs me on a number of levels: that a girl seems to have been abused at the hands of her father; that the man involved declares to be a representative of God; that all of child discipline will be under greater scrutiny; and that this mars the church, God’s glory and Christianity. By Dollar’s own admission, he wrestled his daughter to the ground. I wasn’t there and don’t know all the details, but I don’t believe that a 50-year-old man has any business physically restraining a 15-year-old girl for any reason. The situation got out of hand, but how does child discipline in the home of Christians get this far? I don’t know for sure in Dollar’s case, but let me help us be mindful of what Scripture says that gives us insight into how we might avoid his fiasco happening to us:

Read more here.

Cool v. Consecrated

Recovering strong black women have great burdens to shake, arguably the heaviest among them is making sure that everyone—family, friends, co-workers, bosses and underlings—is okay, that each feels and looks ok, and not only that those folks are okay but that others think those folks are okay, too. I think we feel this burden the most with our children, whether biological or spiritual. We want them to feel good about themselves, help them look good and teach them skills so they feel good about themselves and so that others feel good about them too. We just want them to fit in, even though we may contradict that when we push them so hard to excel in school, perhaps pushing them to be the best in their class. And there is nothing wrong with pursuing excellence. In fact, we all should, but for what reason?

Do we push our children to be the best so others will accept them or so they stand above the rest so we can smile with pride? Though I don’t explore in my latest EEW article the possibility of planting pride in our children, I do explore whether or not we emphasize their being cool over their being consecrated to the Lord. I praise God that for most of my life I didn’t worry about whether or not I was cool, but more importantly I praise God that He showed me my pride in those years and prompted me not to want to continue to swim in it. My great burden as a recovering strong black woman has been to shake my pride so I wouldn’t embrace being cool but would embrace being consecrated and that I could teach my sons the same. Read my column, which begins below, and let me know here on the blog and at the magazine site what your experience has been balancing the cool and consecration factors in your and your children’s lives.

My Joshua warms my heart. He’s kind, helpful and ultra compassionate. His tender 9-year-old heart finds the good in people whose actions consistently tell you they mean you no good. He’s a little quirky, indulging in the creation of academic worksheets for fun in addition to more traditional pastimes, like playing basketball and reading (especially the Bible). He talks and asks a bunch of questions about history, geography and the Bible. He loves the Bible, thinks he may be a pastor and wants to help just about everyone he sees in need. And he has a habit of falling, being a bit clumsy and somewhat awkward. Perhaps this is just a stage he is going through, but I sometimes worry about him making new friends and navigating other important social situations.

One of my relatives noticed that Joshua is awkward and told another relative that he wanted Joshua to hang with him so he could make him ‘cool.’ I was appalled and ashamed. How could my relative not think Joshua was good enough, that he was okay, perhaps just going through a transitional phase? And what hadn’t my husband and I done to help Joshua fit in so others wouldn’t be offended by his awkward sensibilities? My husband and I long ago had decided that our children being consecrated as opposed to being cool was our goal, but with my relative noticing Joshua’s awkwardness I entertained shifting my emphasis to creating classes on being cool.
I know I’m not alone. As Christian parents, even we want our children to be accepted among their peers. The question for us is, “To what extent do we go to ensure that our children are socially accepted?” Read more by clicking here.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Hearing from agent and consultant regarding my book proposal
Tabitha being available to watch the children next week Wednesday and Friday
God waking me up early to spend time with Him
Finishing my blog post before 9 a.m. (and even most of it before taking Joshua to school)
Being conscious of not raising my voice at the children
Another long day with Flynn gone all evening helping me to practice longsuffering and the Fruit of the Spirit
Keeping the kitchen clean
A supportive and comforting husband
A morning nap
Good fellowship with Simone, Tiffany and their children

Dare to Date

This season of mothering has been intense for me as my children’s personalities, likes and dislikes are becoming clearly evident. At times it can be scary for me, wondering if I am guiding them right, bending their wills to the will of the Lord without stripping them of the essence God gave them to worship Him. As a recovering strong black woman I fight against trying to control situations. I want to be clear about the difference between training my children to give them a good foundation and simply trying to make them do what I believe is best for them. Though I always seek to operate according to God’s Word, sometimes the lines are blurred when raising my beautiful strong-willed boys. Though I have a few years before they will be of typical dating age, I have recently been thinking about whether or not to let them date. My great concern is their spiritual, physical and emotional integrity. I know that I can’t prevent them fornicating, but I also know I don’t have to make it easy for them either; I don’t have to give my blessing to an supervised one-on-one interaction where temptation may just be too great for them or the girl they are with to control themselves. These are some of my early thought about whether or not I will allow my boys to date (and my husband feels the same way). Read my latest EEW column, which begins below, for more of my thoughts on this:

Whether to let our teens date can be a hairy decision for us Christian parents. We have to consider issues like if our children are mature enough to handle the emotions that come with being in a relationship, if we are providing easy access for them to sin and how they will handle a likely breakup. My oldest child is almost 10 so I have a few years before I really concern myself with his dating, but for some of you the time is now and perhaps more intense as prom season is upon us.

Should you let your children date? Is it biblical to do so? I can’t say for sure, but as I look back on my tumultuous dating life and my hand in helping my goddaughter decide about dating I just don’t know if I will let my sons date. The cons seem to outweigh the pros, not in number but in the potential impact the cons could have on them. Do I risk a lifetime of heartache for a few moments of seeming pleasure for them? Do I let them experience what many term a teenage rite of passage just so they won’t feel left out? To bring perspective to this issue, I talked to Christian parents who have made firm decisions, some to allow their children to date and others who forbid dating. I share their words and scriptures I have been meditating on to help you decide what is best for your children. Read more here.

My One Thousand Gifts List

More clothes to giveaway to a couple with a new baby
A beautiful card and monetary gift from a beloved couple
A challenging sermon about racial reconciliation
A pastor who hears from God
Christen babysitting the children
A dinner date with Flynn
A blog custom-written for someone God had on His mind
A Bible study with Joshua in Nehemiah
Joshua asking can we have a “word of the week,” a new big word to learn
God’s grace in caring for the children while Flynn was at DBI