Daughters

Why Target Taking Down a Few Signs Doesn't Bother Me

In all this hullabaloo over Target taking down a few signs, we seem to have forgotten one thing: God made each one of us. He made us with different interests and talents. And He did that so we could fulfill a purpose in His plan.

I wasn't going to write this post. I usually like to stay away from controversial subjects in this space. But I found that after thinking about it for a while and praying about it that I feel the need to write about it. What is it, you ask? It's Target's announcement that they are moving away from gender-based labeling in toys and bedding in their stores.

It appears that this business decision by Target has set off a firestorm of criticism and praise from all different corners. And my take on this might surprise some of you.

My first thought was actually, why is this such a big deal? Most kids I know don't care where they buy the toys they like. They don't care if it's bought off a shelf with green paper or pink paper. They simply want the toy they want. It's us parents who care. It's us parents who are using the gender labeling as a validation that we are raising our kids "right."

You see, I have a daughter, and I have hardly ever shopped for a toy for her in the girls' toy section. We've about outgrown toys now, but my daughter loved Legos (not the pink and purple Friends sets, the hard-to-build Star Wars and City themed ones), light sabers, Nerf guns and Matchbox cars (oh, how she loved Matchbox cars). One year for Christmas all she wanted was a scale replica of Mark Martin's NASCAR truck that she could play with. She has never owned a Barbie doll. She never liked to play dress-up. She would rather get muddy, shoot Nerf guns and play street hockey on the driveway than pick out new outfits for her American Girl doll.

So I bought her toys in the "boys'" section of the toy department. And I never once thought that I was doing my daughter a disservice. I never once thought she would be confused about what gender she is. I was simply trying to cater to my daughter's interests. She didn't like dolls, so I didn't buy them. She didn't care about princesses and fairies, so we didn't buy those either.

The idea that the toys we buy our children are going to shape their gender identity is quite simply silly. It is a bunch of hoopla about nothing. My daughter is 12 now. She likes to look cute when she goes to school. She identifies as a girl. But she still plays hockey. She still likes video games and sports. It doesn't make her less of a girl. It just makes her a girl with some less than typical interests. And that's OK. Because in all this hullabaloo over Target taking down a few signs, we seem to have forgotten one thing: God made each one of us. He made us with different interests and talents. And He did that so we could fulfill a purpose in His plan.

I don't mind that Target is taking down those signs. If it makes some girl (or boy) feel more comfortable shopping for a toy that isn't a "typical" girl or boy toy, then that's good. Because instead of making a child feel awkward about focusing on their God-given interests, we should be celebrating them. We should be encouraging them to be who God made them to be. My little girl who played with Matchbox cars might grow up to be a race-car driver. Your little boy who played with dishes and play kitchens might grow up to be a chef. Why would we want to try to mold those interests into something else?

They're just toys. It's just a sign. There are real problems in this world -- children are starving, wars are raging, children are sold every day into slavery. Maybe we should focus some of our outrage on those things and just let our kids play with their toys.

What a Girl Needs from Her Mom Review ($10 Family Christian Certificate Giveaway)

What a girl needs Disclosure: I received a review copy of What a Girl Needs from Her Mom and an appreciation certificate from Family Christian. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Somehow, I thought raising girls would be easy. After all, I was a little girl and a teenager once. I know what it's like. This shouldn't be that hard, right?

But then I ended up with two girls in my house who not only aren't much like me, they are so far apart from each other on the personality scale that it takes an entirely different set of parenting ideas to raise each of them.

And don't forget the world has changed a bit since I was a little girl and teenager. Instead of talking on the phone for hours, these girls are spending all their time texting and using social media. Some of the dangers we had to go looking for are right there in the palm of their hands.

Raising girls isn't easy. It doesn't matter that I was once their age. Nothing prepares you for the raging hormones and constantly changing personalities of the tween and teen years. I often think "I was never that bad." (My parents assure me I was.)

Raising kids -- boys or girls -- takes all the energy we can muster and all the help we can get. If you have girls, you should check out Cheri Fuller's new book What a Girl Needs from Her Mom.

Fuller delves into the complicated world of raising girls. She gives helpful advice about the wired world we live in and how to connect with your daughter. The most convicting chapter to me was the one about being present and engaged with our daughters. They need us to put down our phones or our computers and completely engage with them. Because they need to know they're important enough to have our complete attention from a young age.

Fuller also talks about the importance of being an encourager and a prayer warrior for your daughter. She covers everything from helping your daughter learn to manage her emotions to helping your daughter achieve her dreams.

Fuller has raised two girls of her own and is now a grandmother. She weaves her own personal stories into the book along with anecdotes from other moms who are currently raising girls in this overly wired world.

If you're wondering just what it is your daughter needs from you, check out Cheri Fuller's What a Girl Needs from Her Mom. Because being a girl doesn't make you an expert at raising one, and in this crazy world, we need all the help we can get.

Get your own copy of What a Girl Needs from Her Mom with a $10 appreciation certificate from Family Christian. It's easy. Just enter below, and check out Family Christian's Facebook page for encouragement and more deals.

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4 a.m. Mommy Moments

4 am It's 4 a.m. It's dark and cold, and I should be sleeping. I've been awake for an hour. It's one of those middle-of-the-night mommy moments when the weight of the challenges facing my daughters is keeping me awake.

My older daughter is struggling to recover from an ankle injury and adjust to a new soccer coach. My younger one is struggling to make friends. And it's all just a bit much for this mom's heart. Because these aren't problems I can fix. They aren't things that a hug and a kiss on the forehead will make better.

These are things my daughters have to struggle through, mostly on their own. I can offer encouragement and a shoulder to cry on. I can give advice and a hug. But I can't fix it. I can't simply wave my magic mommy wand and make it all better.

But I want to. Oh, how I want to. I want to save my daughters the tears and the struggles. I want to keep their hearts in one piece. I want them to have the smoothest road they can have.

But that's not life. Unfortunately, in this fallen world we live in, struggle is part of the package. Our kids have to navigate the bumps in the road, sometimes on their own. All we can do is stand back and watch and pray.

So at this 4 a.m. moment, I've been placing my kids at the foot of the cross. I've been handing them over to Jesus -- the only one who can heal their hurts and make it all better. Because when there's nothing I can do to fix the problem, I know that there's plenty that He can do.

Philippians 4:6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." That includes our kids. It's hard not to worry about our kids. It's hard to lay them at the foot of the cross and trust that God is going to use these struggles as part of His greater plan. But He is.

I'm confident that the things my daughters are facing now are preparing them for some piece of God's plan in the future. I know that God will use all of this for good. But, honestly, that confidence doesn't stop my heart from breaking when my daughters hurt. It doesn't stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks as I pray. It doesn't make the 4 a.m. mommy moment disappear.

Those things are part of being a mom. Those moments of heartbreak and tears are as much a part of being a mom as the moment of joy when that little bundle of baby was placed in your arms the first time. When you love someone as deeply as we love our kids, hurting when they hurt is just part of the package.

So, in the wee hours of this morning I'll be laying my daughters' wounded hearts in the lap of the only One who can heal them. I'll be giving my kids to the only One who knows them and loves them more than I do. And through the mommy tears, I'll remain confident that He will mend their hearts and use their hurts for His glory in the way that only He can.

 

7 Steps for Dealing with Girl Drama

Girl drama Girl drama.

Just those two words are enough to make every mother of daughters roll her eyes, turn her face heavenward and ask "Why?"

In my opinion, there's little worse in a tween or teen girl's life than drama created by them and their friends. Too often, the drama starts over something small. But because teen and tween girls aren't the best at setting aside hurt feelings and dealing with the issue, it often escalates into a friendship-killing scene.

Helping our daughters learn to deal with the drama, helping them learn to navigate the conflicts of friendship without creating friendship-killing drama is hard. When feelings are hurt, tempers get in the way. Things get said that people don't really mean. But once the words are out there, they can't take them back.

My older daughter is navigating through some tough waters with a friend right now. Things have been a little rocky for a while, but yesterday they blew up. My daughter came home hurt and frustrated by some words that were said. We spent some time talking about the situation. As we were talking, I began thinking about how we as moms deal with girl drama.

Too often, I think, our tendency is to simply brush it off as a part of growing up. We choose not to give our daughters the tools they need to navigate through the conflict and instead tell our daughters to ignore it. We watch as our daughters' friendships fall apart simply because they don't know how to walk through the conflict and still come out as friends on the other side.

As I thought about it and talked with my daughter about it, I realized that now is the perfect time to teach our daughters how to face conflict. It's the perfect time to teach them that while there are times to walk away, there are other times when a friendship is worth fighting for. There are times when it's better to face the conflict than it is to watch things blow up.

So, here's the advice I think we should be giving our daughters:

1. Pray about it. Pray with your daughter and for her. Ask God to show her the right way to handle the situation.

2. Identify the problem. Sometimes the true problem is buried in the hurt feelings and the drama. Help your daughter identify exactly what it is that she's upset about. Help her determine the root of the issue.

3. Own your part of the issue. Rarely is girl drama all about what one person has done. Most of the time, both girls have some part in the problem. Help your daughter see where she's contributed to the problem and identify ways that she can change on her end.

4. Decide the best way to talk to the friend. Sometimes the girls can work it out on their own, but other times they need a little adult help. I've discovered that having a mom get involved as a facilitator of the conversation sometimes works, but a better option is often a youth pastor, small group leader or other trusted adult -- someone that both girls trust but who has no vested interest on either side.

5. Talk out the problem using "I feel" statements and specific examples. Set the ground rules before they start. Explain that no one gets to accuse the other person. They can talk about how certain actions make them feel, but they can't use statements like "You always" or "You never."

6. Issue apologies. When both girls understand how they have hurt the other, they need to apologize for their actions. They need to acknowledge the hurt they have caused and take responsibility for it.

7. Leave the discussion with specific action steps for both girls. Everyone needs to walk away with a tangible action they can take to restore the friendship.

Girl drama isn't fun. It's not fun for the girls dealing with it, and it's not fun for the parents dealing with those girls. But girl drama can be an opportunity to teach our daughters how to navigate through conflict. It can be a great teaching tool to give them skills that will help them through conflict for the rest of their lives.

Why I'm Grateful to Miley Cyrus

Miley

As many of you probably know by now, Miley Cyrus put on quite a show at the MTV Music Awards on Sunday night. Thanks to her performance, I learned a new word and have had some interesting conversations with my girls. I could have lived my whole life without knowing the word "twerking," but I am thankful for the conversations with my girls.

Just to be clear, we did not watch the MTV Music Awards performance. (To reveal the depth of my fuddy-duddyness, I'm not sure I can even find MTV on our TV.) But because her performance made the news on the radio, my girls had all sorts of questions about what went on Sunday night.

So, Monday, I spent some time explaining to my girls what I knew about the performance. I'm not going to get into all the things that were wrong with her performance Sunday night. I think that's been hashed over enough. If you want to read a fabulous blog on the subject, check out I am Rihanna's "A Letter to Miley Cyrus."

What I am going to do in this space is talk about how Miley's performance opened up an opportunity to talk honestly with my girls about sex and about how sex can be used for so many things other than what God intended. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about the pitfalls of fame, money, and a life lived without God.

We have had "the talk" with both of my girls. They're both aware of both the mechanics of sex and God's plan for it. Since we've had that original conversation with each of them, we've had a bunch of follow-up ones. In our house, much to my daughters' embarrassment, sex is just another topic of conversation. We don't shy away from it, and we don't pretend that one conversation with our kids is enough.

As evidenced by the MTV Music Awards Sunday night, sex is everywhere in our society. It's used to sell everything from cars to flowers. By the time our kids are in middle school, they generally know more about sex than I knew until I got married. If we refuse to talk about it at home beyond that single, big conversation most of us have with our kids, then the vast majority of information our kids are getting on the subject comes from their friends and the media. I guarantee that those sources of information aren't giving your kids the message that God created sex as an amazing thing for marriage only.

What we need to do is to talk to our kids constantly about sex. We need to be the ones delivering the information about sex. We need to be the ones reinforcing the original message we've given them. We can't expect the world to do it for us.

What we can do with all those messages our kids are getting about sex from the rest of the world is to use them to our advantage. We can make it a policy to address the things that our kids see and hear. Instead of trying to ignore those messages, we can use them as tools to continue the years-long conversation we need to be having with our kids about sex. We can take even the wrong messages about sex this world is sending out and use them for good in our own homes.

So, while my heart bleeds for Miley Cyrus, for the little girl that we watched grow up on TV, I'm thankful that her performance gave us just one more opportunity to talk with our girls about the right and wrong uses for sex. I'm grateful that it gave us one more opportunity to have an open conversation about living our lives to follow God. I'm happy that we got the chance to talk about right and wrong choices in life.

And I want to encourage you (when your kids are old enough) to not make conversation about sex a one-time deal. Make it an open-ended conversation, one that you come back to over and over and over again. The world is bombarding your kids with messages about sex every day. One conversation is not enough to overcome that bombardment. Look for opportunities to use what the world is saying as a springboard to help your kids understand what God has to say. This subject is simply way too important for us to remain silent.

 

Why My Daughter is an Instagram Pariah

instagram2

My 12-year-old daughter doesn't have an Instagram account. She's not on Facebook or Twitter either. Truthfully, she's not much interested in Twitter, and Facebook has become somewhat passe for this generation. It's Instagram that is the big bone of contention around here.

Our reasons for keeping her off Instagram have nothing to do with her ability to use it responsibly. Our 12-year-old is one of the most responsible kids I know. I'm sure she would do a pretty good job of deciding what's appropriate to post and look at and what is not.

With the increase in ways that our kids can communicate with their peers, ways that are incredibly difficult for us to monitor, it becomes difficult to be a responsible parent. Mobile communication has made keeping track of our kids' relationships almost impossible, and it has made bullying really easy.

So, today, I wanted to share with you why we've made our daughter an Instagram pariah. I want to tell you why we're standing strong against the argument "But everyone else is on Instagram." I want you to know why we think it's so important to limit our kids' access to social media outlets until they're older.

First, I'll start with the reasons why our daughter does have a cell phone. She got a cell phone last year when she went to middle school. Our reasoning was this: First, we often leave our daughter at soccer practice, so she needed a way to communicate with us if she needs to be picked up early or late. Second, she also needed to be  able to communicate with us if she was staying after school (the days of pay phones in schools are a thing of the past). Last, we wanted her to be able to participate in communicating with her friends. The primary mode of communication for middle schoolers is via text. My daughter rarely picks up the phone to call and talk to her friends. (There are good and bad things about that mode of communication, but that's a post for another day.)

Now, my daughter's phone is locked down tight when it comes to the Internet and downloading things. She can only surf the web through a filter, and she can't download things without permission. She also knows that I can read her texts at any time. Misuse of her phone is grounds for losing it.

But Instagram and other social media are different than her phone. So, we've chosen not to let her be on those sites. You may make a different choice for your child, but whatever choice you make, be sure it's an informed one. Too many times, we're so worried about making our kids a social pariah that we give in just to keep the peace. That's not a good reason to sign our kids up for social media. If you make the choice to allow your kids access to social media, that's fine, but know your reasons for doing so.

So, here they are, our reasons for making our daughter an Instagram pariah:

1) The terms of service for most social media sites, including Instagram, state you have to be 13. She's not, and we're not willing to condone lying to allow her to create an account. (This is a great tool for shutting down arguments about whether she can be on the site or download the app.)

2) Being a 12-year-old girl is hard enough. You're just starting to figure out who you are and who you want to be. When you post every moment of your life on the Internet (which is what tweens and teens tend to do), you're giving your friends the opportunity to vote with the "like" button on who they think you should be. It's peer pressure at it's worst, and it's accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No tween needs that kind of social pressure.

3) What you post on the Internet lives forever. We don't want a lapse in judgment about what to post at age 12 to follow her around the rest of her life. Before social media, kids could make mistakes in judgment, and the only people who would know or remember were those who actually saw the event. Now, that lapse in judgment can follow you for the rest of your life.

4) It's hard to monitor. Social media sites are difficult for a parent to monitor. A child can create an account you know nothing about. Kids can do a lot of harm to themselves or to others before a parent ever finds out about it. When we do, it's often too late to do anything about it. If she's not on social media, we don't have to monitor it.

5) Social media sites are a bully's dream. Internet bullying is a growing problem. Kids say things via the Internet that they would never say to someone in person. Keeping our daughter off those sites keeps her from having to deal with that at her tender age.

We're not going to keep our daughter off Instagram forever. In the next year or two we'll probably let her have an account (after she turns 13). I'd rather she learn responsible use of social media while she's under my influence than have her learn it the hard way on her own as an adult. But for now, we're perfectly happy to hear the cries of "Everyone else has an account" and "It's not fair."

Because God didn't call us to raise kids who are just like everyone else. He called us to raise kids who know and follow Him, kids who are set apart. For now, for us, that means raising a daughter who is an Instagram pariah.

Sisterhood Magazine Giveaway

Sisterhood

I'm always on the lookout for great resources to share with you, which is why I was so excited when Sisterhood Magazine recently approached me about doing a review and giveaway on the blog. I've been a fan of Sisterhood for years back to when it was known as Susie. I've been anxiously awaiting the day that my daughters are old enough to read Sisterhood.

Sisterhood is a fantastic magazine aimed at teen girls. So much of what is available in magazine form for teen girls focuses on beauty tips and relationship advice. If you look at the magazine section of any grocery store, you'll find magazines for teens that focus on the superficial and sex. While those magazines may also include some interesting articles that our daughters can relate to, their overall message is one of sex and beauty.

Sisterhood Magazine is different. Each issue is packed full of fun ideas -- from DIY wall decorations to wacky things you can send in the mail. There are profiles of Christian bands and artists and articles about everyday teenagers who are doing extraordinary things. The magazine includes the typical question-and-answer features that are so popular with teen girls, but all the answers in those articles come with a Christ-centered perspective.

Too often, I find, that Christian books and magazines aimed at tweens and teens often come across as preachy and irrelevant. Sisterhood Magazine avoids that problem by offering up solid advice and interesting articles without making teens feel as if they are being handed a list of rules to follow. One recent question-and-answer piece addressed the question of whether one of Katy Perry's songs glorified divorce. I thoroughly enjoyed the well thought, reflective response the writer gave, pointing out that the song actually expressed disappointment in how a marriage turned out while still reminding the reader that not all of Katy Perry's songs are worth listening to.

Each issue includes serious articles about issues that Christ-following girls face. I especially enjoyed the articles that talked about what other religions believe and how our daughters can counter those beliefs with their own. Those articles teach girls how to have a reasonable, informed discussion with someone of another faith.

Many of the articles in Sisterhood Magazine encourage girls to get in on the action. Whether it's a call to join a mission trip to Peru or an encouragement to read through the Bible in a year, Sisterhood Magazine is interested in getting their readers involved in letting God change their own lives and the lives of others.

Sisterhood also addresses the typical teen girl issues from fashion to fitness to dating, but they do it all from a Christ-centered perspective. I especially liked that the models for their fashion pieces were regular-sized people and not stick-thin models.

Sisterhood Magazine doesn't skimp on the publishing details either. The full-color, glossy magazine is as appealing to look at as Seventeen.

I also love the fact that Sisterhood is also an online community. You can find them on Facebook here. They also have an active community on their website that is available with your paid subscription. If your daughter would rather read online, you can buy a subscription through the Sisterhood Magazine app for the iPhone.

Now that you know what I think about Sisterhood Magazine, here's the great news: Sisterhood Magazine is letting me give away two full print subscriptions to the magazine. All you have to do to enter is click on the entry below. If you have a teen daughter, this is your chance to get them hooked on a great magazine. Don't miss it.

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Learning You're Not Alone

alone

We just returned from a weeklong vacation in Vail, Colorado. We went to Vail so my younger daughter could attend hockey camp. Vail is an 11-hour drive from our home. That's a long way to go to let my daughter go to hockey camp, especially when our rink runs hockey camps not 20 minutes from our house.

Truthfully, we don't think my daughter is going to ever play on an Olympic hockey team. We know she's not going to make it to the NHL. It's unlikely she'll ever play college hockey. So, why did we invest the time and the money to take her two states away to hockey camp? We did it because it's hard to always stand alone.

You see, here in Kansas, my daughter is an anomaly -- one of the few girls in the city that plays hockey. That means that every time she steps on the ice, she has to prove something to the boys she plays with. She has to prove that she belongs. She feels like she always has to be one stride faster and one shot better than everyone else just to prove she can play with the boys.

When we took her to camp, we chose one that we knew would have a large number of girls. When they played their games at camp, she was on a line that had four girls and one boy. She's never had that experience before. She's never known what it's like to have others like her to stand beside her. She's never enjoyed the camaraderie of a locker room full of girls. Usually, it's just her dressing alone in the back room of our rink.

This week at hockey camp wasn't really about improving her skills or making her a better hockey player (although those were benefits). This week at hockey camp was about reminding my daughter that she doesn't stand alone. It was about reassuring her that she's not weird and she's not the only girl who has ever enjoyed the game. It was about helping her see that there are others that stand with her.

And that's a lesson we can all use. There are times when our kids are going to be asked to stand alone in this world. There are moments when God is going to ask them to stand up for what's right, even when it seems there's no one standing with them. And that's when our kids need our encouragement. They need to know that when they stand alone, we've got their back -- even when none of their friends do.

Standing alone isn't easy. It isn't fun. It takes grit and determination. It takes not caring what anyone else thinks. And it can be a soul-wearying thing to do. It's in those moments when our kids are standing for the things God wants them to stand for that they need our encouragement. They need us to do everything we can to remind them that even though it may seem as if they are standing alone, they aren't. God's standing there with them, and there are other people, other kids, who are also making courageous decisions to stand alone for what's right.

The next time your child stands alone -- whether it's choosing to be who God made them to be even when that's not the norm or choosing to stand for what's right -- be sure to offer encouragement. Be sure to let them know that no one truly stands alone when they are following God's path. Remind them that Jesus said He would be with us wherever we go. Praise them for their courage and determination. And whenever possible, find a way to remind them that there are others standing with them -- even if it means you have to travel 11 hours to do it.

When Mom Struggles

darkness

My older daughter played her last soccer game of the season yesterday, and school is out on Thursday.

It has been a long, long year for my older daughter. School struggles, raging hormones, soccer frustrations, injury and troubled friendship waters have all been a part of her year.

To be honest, I've struggled to help her. It's possible that I've shed as many tears for her as she has shed this year. Usually in this space, I try to give all of you a small glimpse into our lives with the intent of helping you teach your kids about God using the everyday moments in your lives. Today, I simply want to share with you some of my struggle this year in the hopes that some other mom who is struggling with her child will not feel quite so alone.

You see, as the year winds down, I find that in many ways this year, I failed my sixth-grader. Sometimes, we didn't make the right decisions. Other times, we didn't help her make the right decisions. Sometimes, we didn't push hard enough. Other times we pushed too hard. Sometimes we brushed aside things that were important. Other times we focused too much on things that weren't important.

It wasn't until the past month that I really understood how much my daughter's self-confidence had been battered this year. Thoughts of "I can do this" turned into a sobbing "I'm so stupid." Confidence on the soccer field turned into "I'm the worst player out there." Her perception of her own value as a friend went from "people like me" to "if the social ladder was a food chain, I'd be a bug."

Honestly, some of the responsibility for that rests on me. I got so caught up in the busyness of our schedule and in some issues we were having with our other daughter that I missed the shattering of her self-confidence. I missed the cues she was sending me until the school year was winding down.

And, truly, sometimes I feel alone as a parent. People tell me that middle school is tough, but that's just the way it is.  And I struggle with that answer because those people aren't where we are. What if it's more than just a tough transition? Most of my friends' daughters adjusted to middle school well. They haven't struggled to make friends or to find their spot.

Honestly, I look around, and I'm jealous of those moms and daughters. I'm envious that their daughters are doing so well while mine is struggling mightily. And I wonder, what did we do wrong? Where did we make the decisions that landed us here?

These days, I cling to Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" I know that God has a plan for my daughter. I know that He can use the difficult year she's had for His purpose. I know that she's going to come out the other side of this stronger, and we'll come out of it wiser.

I don't have any quick fix answers. I don't really have any wisdom for the situation. What I do have is the knowledge that no matter how dark the tunnel or how deep the pit, God is there. He's a light in that pit or at the end of that tunnel. He heals the broken-hearted and offers rest to the weary. He can make all things work together for His purpose.

So, today, sweet mom, if you're walking a dimly lit path with your child. If the tears that flow aren't just your child's but your own as well. If you're looking at the decisions you've made and wondering whether they were the right ones. If you're holding a broken child in your arms and your heart. Know this. Know that God has not left you or your child. He sees you. He hears you. He loves you.

Hold tight to that knowledge because there is light at the end of the tunnel even if it's hidden around a curve. Keep doing the best you can do. Keep relying on God for strength and wisdom. Because He loves your child more than you ever could, and He has an amazing plan for that child.

When Mom's Hugs and Kisses Aren't Enough

wounds

Yesterday, I wished my girls were toddlers again. I wished that all it took to heal their wounds was a kiss on the skinned knee.

As my daughters get older, their wounds are often less physical and more emotional. The constant criticism of a coach. A math test that got the better of them. A birthday party invite that never comes. A friend's inconsiderate words.

One of my daughters experienced all of these yesterday. And I had nothing to give her except a hug and an "I love you." No words of wisdom. Nothing to make the pain go away.

I wish I could heal the wounds that were inflicted yesterday. I wish I could kiss it and make it all better like I did when she was two. But I can't. As a mom, I want to protect my daughters from the hurt in this world. But it's not possible.

The truth is that other people are going to say and do things that are going to hurt our kids. They're going to inflict wounds that no mother's hugs and kisses can heal. And that stinks.

But it also gives our kids a chance to grow. It gives them an opportunity to find healing somewhere other than our arms. As much as it hurts us to not be able to heal our kids' wounds, we have to trust that they will find healing from God. He is, after all, the Great Physician, and He specializes in broken hearts.

Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Those words perfectly describe my daughter yesterday -- brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. And all I could do for her was hug her and gently place her in God's loving arms, reminding her that God loves her and has a plan for her.

As my girls grow, I'm learning, too, that when mom's hugs and kisses aren't enough, I have to place them in God's hands and trust that He will heal the wounds that I cannot.

 

A Message to My Daughters

My 11-year-old daughter came home from school the other day sick at heart. For the first time in years, she had changed the way she wore her hair to school. Some girls promptly made fun of her. A couple of girls trying to be funny and "cool" had shattered my daughter's self-confidence and ruined her day. She cried most of the afternoon and evening. It broke my heart.

It also made me think about what I want my daughters to know about themselves, so I came up with this "Message to My Daughters." I thought I'd share it with you today.

A Message to My Daughters

You are a masterpiece. God says so. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

You are loved. I love you. Your dad loves you. Your grandparents love you. Your sister loves you (even though sometimes she doesn't act like it). Your friends love you. Most importantly, God loves you.

Be yourself. There's no one else in this world like you. No one who has exactly the same talents, likes and dislikes, or personality as you. No one can be you as well as you can. Don't be afraid to be yourself.

Don't let others define you. People will say mean things. They will want you to be like them. They will try to take away your self-confidence. Don't let them. Be who God created you to be, not who someone else tells you to be.

Stand up for what's right, even when it's hard. Most of the time the easy road is the one that follows the crowd, even if it's wrong. Be strong and courageous. Don't be afraid to choose the right thing, even when your friends are choosing the wrong one.

Know how to recognize the truth. The world is going to feed you all sorts of lies about beauty, money, self-worth and relationships. Don't believe them. Seek God, who is the source of truth.

You will make mistakes, and it's OK. No one is perfect. When you mess up, pick yourself up and get back in the game. Learn from your mistakes and move forward.

We have your back. No matter how bad the day, how mean other people are to you, or how hard the choice you have to make, we're behind you. We are always praying for you. Home will always be a safe place where you can heal your wounds and be encouraged.

You are a gift. Our lives would not be complete without you. We thank God every day that He gave us you.

For a printable copy of this "Message to My Daughters," click here or on the picture above.

Do you like what you read here? Check out my book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God in life's everyday moments. You'll find practical ways to grab those everyday moments and turn them into teachable ones.

Tell Your Kids They're Beautiful

We went to the orthodontist last week for a consult. All through the appointment, my daughter told anyone who would listen that she didn't want braces. I knew she wasn't a fan of the idea, but somehow I had missed the clues that she was really upset about the idea.

We got in the car to go home, and she burst into tears. Uh oh. There was clearly more going on here than just getting braces. They weren't even on her teeth yet and she was distraught.

She tells me she doesn't want braces because she won't be able to eat some of her favorite foods. But I think, deep down, she doesn't like change and she doesn't like the way they look.

No amount of explaining the reasons for the braces or reminding her that she won't have to wear them in high school is breaking through her disgruntled wall.

And, so I'm reminded that my kids need to know they're beautiful. And we don't tell them enough.

I'm not talking about giving your children big heads and  getting stuck on their physical beauty. But every child, every person, needs to know they are beautiful, simply because they are God's creation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "He has made everything beautiful in its time."

Our kids need to know that God thinks they are beautiful.

They need to know that their beauty is made up of more than the color of their hair, the height of their body and the clothes that they wear.

They need to know that true beauty comes from the inside, from the joy we find in God, from serving other people, from being kind with our words.

They need to know that braces, bad haircuts, and fashion faux pas don't make them any less beautiful in our eyes or in God's eyes.

In a world obsessed with physical perfection, a world of stick-thin models, actors with bulked up muscles and  Photoshopped magazine covers, we need to help our kids understand God's yardstick for beauty.

When we forget to tell our kids they're beautiful, when we don't reinforce God's standards of beauty over the world's, we let our kids buy into the myth that beauty is something that's dependent on the opinion of others. We let them get caught up in the world's perceptions instead of God's.

So, when your kids say something kind, when they do something well, when they show grace to others, when they remember to be polite, tell them that they're beautiful. Remind them that it's the stuff that's on the inside that matters and that God thinks they're beautiful. Because they are.

Linking up today with Women Living Well , A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Word Filled Wednesday.

Friday Introduction: MOD Squad

MOD Squad

I don't have "traditional" girls in my house. My older daughter wants nothing to do with any clothing that's even remotely girly, but she loves to draw and do crafts. My younger daughter likes to participate in sports that are traditionally thought of as boys' sports, but the more sparkles she has on her clothes, the better. But, no matter how non-traditional my girls may be, they are still girls.

Girls tend to process things differently than boys. They tend to be more sensitive and more relational. My younger daughter has lots of friends who are boys, and there's a noticeable difference in how she approaches things. So, as the mom of girls, even not-so-traditional ones, I'm always on the lookout for great resources that will help me raise them.

Today, I want to introduce you to the MOD (Mothers of Daughters) Squad blog. This blog addresses just about everything related to raising girls to become Christ-followers. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you'll find something you can relate to on this blog.

And, today, I'm privileged to be sharing about what we do when our daughters take us down the paths that we never thought we would take. Hop on over and check out my post, "How Did I End Up Here?" You can also check out their Facebook page and join in the discussions on raising girls.