Control

Expecting Your Child to Act Like an Adult

By Brittany Rust

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It was time to change yet another diaper and I certainly didn’t enjoy it any more than he did, but it’s part of the life of a toddler. Roman hates—and I mean HATES—diaper changes. It was a poopy one and as I opened up the diaper, Roman started flopping around in protest. I then proceeded to say, “You do know that when you fight me it takes longer, right.”

You can fit on both hands the number of words he can say so expecting him to understand the complexity of what was happening was too much to ask for this 19 month old.

So often I find myself expecting Roman to act older than he really is. I attempt to rationalize and convince him to be beyond his years. At times, I snap or yell in frustration because he doesn’t understand. I’m expecting him to act like an adult and in response, often end up acting like a child.

How often have you found yourself treating your child beyond his or her years? We don’t plan on it, do we? But in the trenches when patience wears thin, sometimes we find ourselves expecting too much from our little ones. Or our children or even teenagers. We want them to be on our level—or at least, on a more mature level—that they just aren’t at yet. And in response to their lack of maturity, we lash out with an attitude that is more like that of a child.

Remember: you are the parent. You are the mature one. You mustn’t expect your child to be beyond their years and act in a way you struggle to act yourself at that moment. I’m not an expert in maintaining poise in these tense moments but I do know we must watch our responses. Walk away, take a deep breath, and return to respond appropriately.

Your child is but a child for a short time—don’t make them grow up too soon. Let them live in their child-like wonder while they can. And you—well, if you want to embrace the posture of a child in any way, then do so with the faith and humility a child has. Now that would be the exception.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
— Matthew 18:1-4

Parenting is hard and we all have our moments that we’d like to redo or at least, forget. But as we talk about often here, there is grace and strength for your moments of weakness. Let your kid be a kid. And act like a child in faith and humility.


Giving Grace to the Gap of Uncontrollable Circumstances

By Joy O’Neal

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Mamas, we have mastered the art of giving. We give our time, energy and body to our family. There is one person we often forget though and that’s the beautiful yet tired face that stares us back in the mirror each morning. Today, lets talk about giving ourselves something and I’m not talking about getting your nails done, getting a massage or scheduling a much needed night out; although I am a lover of all these things. I am talking about giving yourself grace! Grace to the gap of uncontrollable circumstances.

As mothers, grace is often forgotten amidst the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, mounds of homework, sibling meltdowns, toddler tantrums and empty milk jug corners, can I get an amen? Moms often construct the perfect picture of the Joanna Gaines meets Mrs. Walton moments and find ourselves confused on how they ended up looking more like Rosanne meets Peggy Bundy!

I remember when my two oldest were under the age of three, I painted a perfect picture for Mother’s Day. Sunday after church my husband, kids and I would have a perfect picnic on the beach.  I started prepping the food on Saturday, put all the beach toys and umbrella in the car. It was going to go off without a hitch! I would sit on the sand, eat my grapes and look at my cute little babies and sweet husband and feel so celebrated. When church was over my husband mentioned that a storm was coming. Oh, No! Not on my perfect day! I told him it would be fine and we should keep things as planned. When we arrived at the beach the wind picked up and again my husband suggested that maybe going out for some fresh seafood was the better plan. Again, I blew off his suggestion and recommended that sitting in the car a few minutes was all we needed. The storm stayed! Finally, I decided that maybe the wind wouldn’t be so bad once we walked over the dunes and closer to the water. My husband started to gather all of the wonderful things I packed for my perfect day. One thing that’s dangerous about preparing for an entire day is it allows an entire day worth of “maybe we should bring ______?” thoughts! I can still see my husband walking through the thick sand carrying a blanket, two chairs, a bag full of toys and ALL while pulling a giant cooler full of food. Once we got onto the beach and set everything up our children began to scream because the wind blew the sand like tiny pellets from Hell all over them and our food. We packed everything up, trekked back to the car and my Mother’s Day was a complete fail.

My plans were shot! The uncontrollable circumstances where there but where was the grace? Nothing had gone as planned and my day was wrecked!

Now it’s a funny memory but what about the mom moments that aren’t so funny? The ones that keep us up at night—the ones we replay over and over, fishing for how we could change the outcome?

When my youngest was sick for the first time (that she could remember) she laid on the floor and rolled back and forth moaning, “UGH, I didn’t see this day coming!” As to say, had I known I’d been better prepared? Isn’t that all of us? Life throws us curveballs and instead of giving grace to the gap of uncontrollable circumstances we force the picnic against the storm or roll around on the floor wishing we’d known it was coming so we could be better prepared.

I am so thankful that in spite of ourselves we have a God that weathers all storms and DOES hold each day in His loving hands.  

Over the last year the phase “Give grace to the gap” has become a bit of a personal tagline. God continually places me inside beautiful collisions that teach me the importance of giving grace to the gap and allowing provision to catch up to the promises He’s spoken over my life.

As a pastors daughter, growing up in church I knew the ending to every story. I knew Rehab and her family were spared, Daniel left untouched, the grave left empty and Jonah’s story didn’t end in the belly of a fish. These spoiler alert moments created a desensitized revelation that clouded an overwhelming truth!  Each one of these people had zero clue around their future while they were living in the gap yet their words of faith send my soul swimming in the goodness of God and the beauty of living as a true grace giver inside of the gap of uncontrollable circumstances.

Particularly Jonahs Prayer in Jonah 2:1-9, I listen as Jonah cries out in the depths with praise and certainty that his God will rescue and redeem him. Now that’s a grace giver! The bold declaration of an almost certain faith that his God is already at work in delivering him and in spite of it all he would praise the God he loved so well.

So as moms, what does giving grace to the gap of uncontrollable circumstances look like?

We all have patterns of fighting uncontrollable circumstances. For me, these battles always had signs of my combative approach that were undeniably byproducts of my lack of trust and grace giving.

A life lived without giving grace to ourselves looks a lot like worry, doubt, frustration and weariness. So what does giving grace to the gaps look like?  While looking back during times when I was able to give grace to the gap I found some familiar actions that I know are responsible for a positive outcome. Something I now call the 4S approach: Speak, Seek, Sing and Stand.

Thumbing through my journal I can see how I allowed women of faith to speak into my life.  I also found that I had a hunger to seek counsel.  Additionally, there was a pattern of praise, personal laments to a God who hears my cry. Finally, I stood!  I boldly declared His promise over my life and chose to speak the God breath truth into the gap.

I’ve only been in the mom game for 10 years now but I’d much rather stand inside the 4S approach then experience worry, doubt, frustration and weariness.

As moms, I am certain that we will continue to be plagued with uncontrollable circumstances but can I challenge you today to give grace to the gap? Our God is good all the time! He is drawing near, coming as close as a breath, standing shoulder to shoulder and declaring that we are His and He is ours. No weapon of mind, body or spirit formed against us shall prosper. We’ve already been given every ounce of today’s grace, today’s mercies and today’s spiritual bread needed to be courageous and victorious!

Cheers moms! You’ve got this!


Sometimes Things Don’t Get Done...And That’s Ok

 By Brittany Rust

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As I write this, it’s 9:30 PM on a Sunday night and I’m in bed (ready to sleep, too!). I deeply care about you mama’s out there and I carry you in my prayers often. Because I care about you so much I pray that the resources here are done in both intention and care. So the fact that I’m writing this so late in the game is something I’m not too excited about. But if I’m honest, our family have been going through a tough week. And I didn’t put the time into this post as I normally do or should have. 

I started feeling guilty and went straight to my go-to response: admonishing myself. I wasn’t too happy with me, let’s just say that! And as the guilt set in, I thought “man, these moms deserve better.”

But then there was that divine interruption to my earthly response. I had to stop listening to the doubts and start receiving a little grace for myself. 

I think there may be some moms out there in the same boat today—some amazing ladies needing to extend a little grace to themselves. Is this you, mama?

We are the pros at keeping it all together but even we run out of capacity every now and again. And you know what? That’s ok. Let me say it again so you don’t miss it: sometimes things don’t get done and that’s ok!

We all hit a day or two (or more) that just plain take it out of us. That are harder than normal. When the unexpected pops up. And if you have to let a thing or two take a seat on the bench this week, that’s ok, too.  

Mama, don’t beat yourself up because you don’t have the capacity to do all the things all the time. Love your family well, do your best, and above all, lean into Jesus. That’s what’s important!   

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
— Matthew 6:33 (MSG)

Focusing on God is the most important thing you can do each day. Loving your family like crazy is a given! And doing your best with what is in your hands in your responsibility. But everything else will be taken care of. God has you in His hands today, sweet friend, and He’ll take care of what’s important. 

So, take a deep breath of relief and extend a little grace to yourself. Jesus did and always does—His mercies are new every morning!


Releasing Control and Embracing God's Design for Your Family

By Mollie Talbot

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I really want a little girl. I don’t know why; they sound complicated, emotionally volatile, and terrifying but still, I know my husband would father a daughter so beautifully that I might feel remiss if at the end of our lives I don’t get to see that relationship lived out. Here’s where I should mention that I’m 35 weeks pregnant and we don’t know what we’re having. With both of our pregnancies, we’ve chosen to forego the gender reveal in lieu of a big ol’ hospital surprise. 

When we tell someone that we’ve chosen not to find out, we’re often met with the response “I don’t know how you do that, good for you, I’m just too much of a control freak.” Ladies, let me just tell you this is the exact reason we choose not to find out; because this is one of the few times in my life I can discipline my desire for control in a way that puts me in near-constant submission to trusting God’s will and design. So then when you find yourself at 35 weeks gestation with a desire to give your husband a little girl but almost entirely convinced you’re getting another little boy, you’re driven lovingly to your Father’s arms for comfort and reassurance. To crawl up in His lap and say “I’m doing it again Dad. I’m not trusting that your way is better than mine. Will you remind me again how far you’ve brought me?”

As believing moms, we’re in a constant tug of war with our desire to white knuckle the outcomes of our family or to relinquish control and trust our Father. We set up systems for success—plans and calculations that help maintain the heart of our homes. If we didn’t have some of these systems, we’d end up with hangry husbands, empty refrigerators, and some pretty creative means of accidental cloth diapering. We have to make it to the grocery store, or at least clicklist here and there and sadly, cleaning is an unfortunate necessity every once in a while. But when we can no longer accept interruptions to our plans and calculations as areas that God is present and working in, then the thorns of our sin will begin to draw blood.

Isaiah 55: 8-9 says,

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’

But do we believe this when our second grader comes home from school crying because the same twit from first grade is in her new class and tormenting her again?

Or when we find ourselves transactionally approaching our marriages, riding on a wave of building resentment? “I just cooked dinner after cleaning, running errands, and taking care of the kids all day and you’re telling me you won’t even be home for it?”

Do we believe God’s ways are higher than ours when we desire nothing more than to grant our husband his silent wish for a daughter when we just KNOW that we’ve got another boy coming… and it’s breech?

This is not a message saying you should suffer in silence, or submit and sacrifice your needs and wants—it’s merely encouragement to contemplate that even when you’re frustrated someone else has shown up during a nap time you were going to use to write, that God might have work and love waiting for you in a moment that looks completely unlike your initial plans for it. That His ways, His thoughts and His will are higher than yours and worthy of your whole-hearted trust.

I write this from the eye of the storm. I may be peace-filled enough right now to put language to the conflicting feelings in my heart about the gender of this sweet little baby and my fears about it being breech but I’m also prepared that the second wave of the storm will still come. That I might need to crawl back in my Father’s lap after a C-section and brand new baby boy to have Him walk me back down memory lane saying, “Mollie, remember when you stood on the steps of the AA hall smoking a cigarette and bawling your eyes out? When you threw your head back in defeat and asked, ‘Why me, God?’ You didn’t see Kyle’s love for you then; you couldn’t know Banks’ blonde curls; just as you don’t see what I have in store for you now. TRUST Me, but even when you don’t, you’ll know where to find Me because your posture toward Me will never alter My proximity to you.”

This morning, as if by some sort of sweet encounter with the Holy Spirit, I laughed hysterically with God when Banks, my two-year-old boy broke into my room at 6:45am saying “MAMA! ROLEY POLEY.” I laid there smiling in the dark at how sweet these moments are; that he woke up after thinking about roley poleys and rushed to come tell me about it. That was until I felt something small on my neck and realized he hadn’t been dreaming of pillbugs at all, but instead had legitimately found one on his floor and ran immediately into my room and put it in my hair. I laughed hysterically and began my day with an extra heap of joy as I recognized—I don’t know many moms who would calmly pick a bug from their hair first thing in the morning and thank their son for wanting to share it with them. Maybe boys are exactly what I need.