1 Bible verse to be a Better, More Consistent Parent

Can 1 Bible verse help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

Can 1 Bible lesson from James soften my heart and help me be a better, more consistent parent? Could standing firm actually make me more loving?

One of my favorite experiences as a believer is how God’s word has become this amazing love letter and an active presence in my life as I spend time in it.

Proverbs 7:1,3 (ESV1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments within you  . . .  3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

When I face struggles, God brings His peace and answers to my mind, helping me understand why we write His treasured words on our hearts.

But how does the Bible actually help me be a better, more loving, more consistent parent?

Being MOM is more challenging than I ever imagined. Oh, the things we have to say . . .

“No, it’s NOT mommy’s job to unstick your wedgie!” was a conversation I had to have just last night – three times, at bedtime, imagine that.

Parenting is really front lines Ephesians 6 battle for the souls and futures of my family. We fight human failings and sinful natures. Every attitude and decision shapes the atmosphere of my home, transforming our relationships with each other and with God.

Knowing God’s truths prepares my heart to face my battles with righteousness and peace, even when my largest combatant is under 4 feet tall. 😉

But sometimes the lessons come from unexpected places, verses I wouldn’t have found searching for parenting wisdom, but verses that help me clearly understand the character God wants me to have.

Can 1 Bible lesson help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

Last week was full and busy with my older boys visiting from their mother’s. The house feels bustling, complete, joyous when they are here, but we also enjoy a messy chaos. But asking for help with cleaning tasks seems to release the inner debater in my children.

As I dusted, I prayed over my frustration with them. Why does it always have to be a debate?

And a verse came to mind.

James 5:12b ESV  .  .  .  but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

While in context, this verse is about making oaths, I immediately felt convicted about my reluctance to hold firm to my parenting expectations. It may not directly relate, but the essence of the verse is to mean what we say and stick to it. As parents our expectations are a type of promise because they help our children know what to expect from us and who we really are.

Consistent parenting is a promise that tells our children what to expect & who we are. Click To Tweet

As a child, I despised because I said so. I vowed to do my best to answer the why questions of my children. But in an effort to help my children understand, I’ve taught them too much is open to negotiation.

Kids need clear directions from a consistent parent.

Trying to always explain WHY, I've taught them too much is open to negotiation. Click To Tweet

By letting my NO mean MAYBE too many times, I’ve sabotaged myself as a parent, and perhaps done a disservice to them as children in God’s family, too. As an adult, I’ve had to learn obedience to God is often doing without knowing why right away.

Of course, kids will always challenge boundaries, but consistency allows me to stay calm and peaceful even when their disobedience leads to consequences because I can be sad and disappointed with them in their poor choices.

Sometimes, I look into my daughter’s eyes pooling with tears, and I don’t want to send her to bed without dessert, but quietly holding her to the consequences will teach her the fruit of the spirit by example,

and that points her to Heaven, not Harvard.

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Abiding Love

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Abiding love is safe, enduring, permanent, sacrificial love.

Our worship pastor this morning read from John 15, verses about abiding love, the love of the Father that Christ demonstrated for us through his life of purity and sacrifice.

and I just wanted to sit down in the middle of those verses and ABIDE.

Like curve into an cozy chair by the fire, swathed in a rich blanket –

ABIDE – continue, remain, survive, last, persist, stay

I wanted to hang out in those verses, because I never knew how to love purely, without all the human confusion we put into it, until I knew how deeply I am loved by Him.

I was wiping away tears by the time he finished sharing today. God’s love has a way of touching my heart that makes me want to drop everything and just stay in His presence.

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Christ invited me – you – to abide in His love, the kind of love God has for Christ. I can only look at my daughter and imagine God’s pure love for Christ. I wanted to rest there and be held by His truth.

I wanted to sit down in those verses wrapped in a cozy blanket and rest in His abiding love. Click To Tweet

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

John 15:16a ESV  You did not choose me, but I chose you . . .

Powerful stuff – Being chosen. We tend to think in this Christian walk that we made some big decision to choose God, but we really just surrendered to His already having chosen us.

He chose us before the formation of the world. While I was a dirty mess of a sinner, I was already CHOSEN, set apart for His purpose.

How differently I have lived since understanding this truth. There is a confidence to knowing I am His beloved daughter.

And I really like that.

But when I heard this verse, I wanted to lean over to my husband and whisper “I chose you.”

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

I my still human way, I’m trying to learn how God has loved me and love him with that kind of love, love that gives up me to serve him.

I chose him the day he proposed in the middle of “an arrest”. I chose him the day we said I do. I choose him the days he is grumpy and selfish. I still choose him when his dreams and mine don’t match.

But I wonder if he really understands how much I choose to remain in his arms, seek his presence, ache for him. Does he understand he can rest in my love?

The confidence I have in Christ is the confidence I want to share with those I love. I want my husband to know my love is abiding love.

He can rest there. It is permanent because it’s God’s love for him through me when I remember to get out of the way.

I try to love my friends with abiding love. They know that I am the soft, squishy place to rest from a prickly world. A place that forgives when feelings are tender and communication gets lost.

I pray that you have Christ’s abiding love, a real love on this day we often celebrate the wrong things, that His love abides in you. I pray you abiding love through friends and family too.

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Pointing Fingers

Pointing fingers never lead me to the right answers. Only love did that. Heaven Not Harvard

I’ve seen a lot of Pointing Fingers on the internet in the past year about gay marriage, abortion, Planned Parenthood, Target’s restroom policy, etc.

But I haven’t see anyone change his/her opinion because of pointing fingers who declare they have a lock on the truth. Instead of arguing, I just wanted to tell you a small part of my story. Pointing fingers never lead me to the right answers. Only love did that. Heaven Not Harvard

Nothing I ever did was out of a desire to destroy my life or ruin my relationships or disrespect my parents, but I did do all of those things. From the time I was a teenager, hormones and burgeoning independence and following the popular cult of ME led my life down incrementally dark paths.

Pointing fingers never led me to God. Only love did. We must respond rightly to those stuck in sin. Click To Tweet

I made choices that felt good or seemed right at the time. I dated boys who treated me terribly because I believed I needed their affirmation of my worth. I lied and hid destructive behaviors and thoughts. Deep inside I knew I was hurting myself, but I didn’t see any way out of what I perceived as having already done too much wrong to ever be right.

Once I had sinned sexually, I felt dirty and spoiled. (Never mind that we all sin sexually. Whether it is an inappropriate thought, pornography, or physical acts, none of us stay completely pure.)  Somehow sexual sin seemed like the ONLY sin anyone was talking about, and I had already screwed that up. No one was talking about what to do after sexual sin. People talked generally about forgiveness, but it didn’t seem personal, and I didn’t know how to get it.

My dad, mom, church youth group, and pastors preached Bible verses at me. I knew all the right answers to the “good Christian” questions. I thought I knew God, but I hadn’t ever really let Him in, and I didn’t know the difference.

I tried hiding the hurt and pain, but that was like pouring caustic acid onto the floor and hoping a cute throw rug will hide it. It might do the trick temporarily, but the acid will keep eating away at everything underneath, leaving a dark, gaping hole of decay.

Hiding my pain was pouring acid on the floor & thinking a cute throw rug will hide it. Click To Tweet

I felt beyond hope, beyond redemption, that my only course of action was to run from God and everything God-adjacent. I thought He had to hate me for my weakness, and all the angry, shaming, pointing fingers just made me want to keep running and give God a big middle finger.

So I did. I lived by my own definition of morality, but I still felt worthless and hopeless underneath all the independent bravado. I even spent years attending church (using a prettier rug over the acid hole) and acting like a “Christian” on the surface, but every day felt like a battle to maintain the exterior facade.

My dad asked me this week, “So what finally changed?”

“I started hearing God’s voice over yours .  .  .” I said, and his deep voice erupted in a throaty chuckle.

(We both laughed because we can from where I’m standing today, because I found my way home, but it came at a price of decades of my life lived lost.)

I finished my thought, ”  .  .  . and decided that I needed my own relationship with God, one that didn’t have you in the middle of it. I needed to know who God is, what God says for myself, not through your filter, but on my own.”

Telling me I was sinning pushed me away, building more shame in my heart. Finger pointing never worked. Quoting scriptures didn’t make me believe they were true for myself. None of it meant anything until I chose to stand in front of God screaming I want you. I want you. I want you no matter what.

I can’t explain what changed except that God reached down into my heart and said, “Here I am, where I have always been, waiting for you.”

I remember the exact moment, like seeing my daughter’s face for the first time, pure unadulterated love. Just writing these words makes me cry tears of joy. Because by seeing my sin through God’s eyes made me understand forgiveness and grace. For the first time in my life I understood the struggle was between God and Satan, and God was trying to save me.

We need to put away the pointing fingers and open our arms in love. We don’t have to define sin. God already did that, and most people know what the Bible says about sin. But knowing the Bible only matters after we’ve met the Author.

We need to spend more time introducing people to Him.

If you saw someone limping down the road, would you question their choices or offer help? Click To Tweet

If you saw a woman limping down the highway, miserable and in pain, miles from anywhere, you wouldn’t drive by questioning her life choices that led her to that spot, would you?

Would you slow down and shout, “Hey, you’re limping!”

Would you toss her a pamphlet?

Or would you open the door to your car, welcome her inside, and offer to take her with you?

The only finger we need to point is towards ourselves. Look who I was and how I’ve been loved and saved. So people want to know, “where do I find that?” and then we can point them in the right direction.

Standing for truth and clarity is still important, but we need to start from a place of love heavily washed in prayer and time with God before we start trying to reach into other’s lives.

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Skipping the Scale

Skipping the Scale - Heaven Not Harvard. A year without a scale because a set of numbers doesn't set my value.

Has your news feed been filled with friends making New Year’s Resolutions? Ads for diet pills and gym membership seeming to overtake every commercial break? I feel a bit bombarded. I can’t remember a time I didn’t start the new year wanting to lose weight. I might have been twelve. Some years, it’s been a few pounds. Other years, January first has started a desperate attempt to drop half of a normal human being. This is one of those years. Skipping the Scale - Heaven Not Harvard. A year without a scale because a set of numbers doesn't set my value. I may not be normal; it’s hard to tell from inside my own head, but being overweight makes me feel like less of a person, not just less valuable, but sincerely, valueless, exacerbating my reclusive tendencies. I have actually had the thought that I should stay home from this event or that trip or even church because no one should have to look at me, or How can I be an example of a Godly woman and be overweight? At times, I really embrace the work God is doing in my heart and life, knowing He gave me every bone, joint, hair, and tiny strand of DNA for a purpose, for His purpose. This thorn in my side may be how the Lord is keeping me humble (2 Corinthians 12:7), keeping my eyes focused on Him, or it may just be part of being human and imperfect. Living each day focused on His purpose is healing, but still I have struggled with facing the scale. The past two years, health issues and physical setbacks have conspired with genetics to make my weight a singular issue in my life, but I’ve probably been weighing myself daily for 15 years. Following New Years, I considered skipping the scale. I actually had the thought, ‘but how will I know how to feel about myself?’ That was when I realized how dependent I had become on the scale for my daily self-esteem, and I had to say enough. Weight is not a measurement of my worth. I wouldn’t judge anyone else that way, and God certainly doesn’t. And I cannot continue to define myself based on three red numbers on a digital display.

1 Samuel 16:7b ESV “.  .  . For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I’ve reached a point in which I have to decide how I want to live. Spending each day depressed because I’m not a certain size is BUNK. I’m done letting the scale dictate how I feel about myself. The only numbers I should let define me are the verses of God’s promises and provisions.

1 John 3:20 ESV “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

What will happen if I don’t weigh myself every day? What will happen if I don’t weigh myself at all? Can I learn to live without focusing on my weight? What if I just make food choices without looking at the instant results on the scale the next morning. Can I really spend a year skipping the scale? And what will I learn in the process? I know all the healthy answers, but nothing, short of the strictest diets, works for me. One cheat day will erase a month of hard work. I dieted insanely strictly for five months and lost 15 lbs. One week of normal meals and a few desserts, and I gained 10 lbs. back. I wanted to cry. But do I let this one area of my life define the sum of me? I am enough the way I am today. I was a good wife and mother today. I gracefully juggled all the parts of my life as a woman, wife, mother, friend, employee, writer, and daughter. I was loving and kind. I balanced being fun mom with building blocks of discipline with a strong-willed four-year old. I was able to end a busy day in a better mood than when I started, with enough energy and patience for bedtime (major mommy victory there)! I look at the work God has done in me that made today possible, not just possible, but the norm. And I remind myself that this new quietness and gentleness and joy have made me so much more beautiful than dieting ever did. I’m starting to look more like Him.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV  “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

I’m really committed to spending this year skipping the scale. I moved the scale out of my bathroom and put it away. I think learning to rest my heart in who God says I am is going to be a journey of letting go of worldly values, focusing on choosing to be Godly and healthy and let the numbers be what they are. While weight may be my personal issue, many of us struggle with the world’s definitions of beauty or womanhood or friendship or motherhood that invade our hearts and minds. We fight a desperate war of attrition, but gradually, we are sanded away, ground down from squares into ‘proper’ pegs. But that isn’t who God says His children are. I find it helps to get into the Bible and find confidence in being God’s.

Proverbs 3:26 ESV “For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.”

So I’m gonna skip the scale this year as much as possible, and put my confidence in things that really matter. I’m gonna eat ice cream, but walk more. I’m going to order pizzas, but chase my daughter around the yard, ride bikes, and play. I’m going to live at this weight not wait to live.

Why, yes, we do validate!

Friendship is not for the faint of heart. Real friendship can be messy sometimes if we’re real, honest, and hold each other accountable. Nothing is harder than hearing you’re wrong from someone you really respect and want to be respected by, but if I’m wallowing in pig poop, I need someone to tell me this isn’t the time for a facial!

However, I’ve been known to stand in the poop and try to argue that it’s a spa treatment. God has really been teaching me to listen to the correction, searching my heart for any truth in it. Because I’ve learned that even if the entire message doesn’t apply, there is usually a grain of truth in it. But that grain of truth can rub skin raw like a salt scrub body treatment in the moment. Humility is hard. I want to be right. I want to get things right, so the past 24 hours has been hard. I beat myself up a lot when I don’t things right, but I’m learning.

Yesterday, one of my dearest friends and I had a disconnect. We were both trying to be Godly women, but between text messages, and conversation snippets (talking on the phone around kids, meals and husbands), we both ended up wounded and wounding each other on accident.

She was upset about an interaction during her day. I was trying to be a good friend. I heard the words she used in her message, tried to process what I thought was happening and vowed to give her some time before calling, but when she came to me with her hurt, I rushed in with my opinion. She was still raw, and we talked before she’d really had a chance to process. I had prayed about her situation before talking to her, tried to wait for the right words, but I still jumped in before she was ready to listen, and made some mistaken conclusions about how she was feeling. And because she was so hurt already, nothing I said could be heard with the heart from which it was spoken.

Luckily, we’ve been in the trenches together as teachers, women, wives, moms, Christians, and friends together for a long time, so even in the worst moments of this situation, we were calm and kind, even though we were both feeling like we missed something somewhere.

But thank God for His love that transcends the human emotions of a moment that wants to throw in the towel and quit. His love pushes us to say, “Can we try that conversation again?” Thank the Lord for His word, where we both immediately went in our emotions, and kept coming back from, ready for restoration.

In bits and pieces, between vomit and poop crises and softball practice and big brothers with sharpies, she and I did eventually manage to figure out where each of our hearts were right and what needed correcting in both of us. We were both validated, and also, both instructed. We both got to say, I’m sorry and I forgive you. It really was a beautiful moment in a friendship. We were both able to start over, communicate more clearly, and realize that if we’d both slowed down yesterday to do that in the first place, neither of us would have spent a day feeling upset.

Because we have had these conversations over the past 24 hours, broken into pieces, I’ve been in prayer and deep contemplation about how to talk to her, asking God to show me what I personally needed to hear.

First, I heard, “speak from where you are. You know what you’re thinking and feeling for certain.” When I did that, it we got to the right train of thought, but we still had some work to get to good. So I kept asking, what do I not see?

Usually when I ask Him that, he turns my family into my living object lessons.

Lesson #1 My husband came home from the ER yesterday with a smashed thumb. He dropped a missile on it. (Yes, a missile. Gotta love the army.) He was howling in pain as he tried to ice it. Our daughter tried to show him the ocean-themed get well card she created while he was in the midst of his pain. He wanted to listen to her, to give her proper attention but he couldn’t because of his intense pain. She tried to get louder and louder, but he was trying not to cry, he couldn’t do anything gentle or productive at that moment.

Note to self – when someone is really hurting, they can’t hear anything in their crisis. Just hold on to them and wait.

Lesson #2  I was on the phone (blue-tooth/hands-free) on the way home from our daughter’s softball practice, trying to get some wisdom from another treasured friend to get some insight into how I can better approach people. I’m about to start a ministry with people from all different places in their walk with Christ. I want to make sure I really learn how to love people correctly.

My daughter was screaming from the back seat. I signaled her to stop several times, but she just got more willful, until I did the most terrifying thing a mom can do – I pulled over. I don’t know about you, but my parents threatened to pull over or turn around a lot, but stuff got real when they actually did it. I made it clear that she could not scream while we were in the car, nor while I was on the phone, especially not the double whammy of being on the phone while in the car.

My daughter quieted down, but continued to be upset. When I ended the call a few minutes later, I looked into the kid view mirror. She was still in a puke stained, dirt encrusted softball outfit. Her sweaty hair was plastered to her forehead. She was exhausted from just being her little four-year-old self, and her tiny face was twisted into the biggest sad face ever.

“What is the matter?”

She looked at me and said, “I don’t feel special or loved anymore.”

Whoa! Yes, she IS that dramatic. Of course, I love you, I said, then we talked about what she had been doing wrong, that she needed correction. She agreed that she knows better than to scream and yell at me.

But then she added, “But I don’t feel special or loved when you get mad at me.”

What a wondrous child to be able to tell me what she needed. I told her that of course, she is loved and special all the time, that even when she is at her naughtiest, I love her forever and always, more than the whole world. But her bottom lip quivered, so I told her again. Then I held her leg. I can’t reach her hand in the van, but I can hold her ankle. So we drove home with her smiling happily while I held her leg.

I validated her feelings FIRST, then again. Then I held onto her with all I could, and only then could she hear the correction of her behavior, not who she is.

aha4aiconAh ha! The moral of the story – instead of being able to gently lead my friend to what I was learning in Christ that might relate, she was already in so much pain, then I added to the heap of coals by making her feel criticized, like I didn’t value her, like she wasn’t special or loved, like maybe somehow I saw her as less or broken. Well, no wonder she couldn’t hear me. She was doing her smashed thumb dance, and I thought it would be a good time for a deep philosophical conversation. Why would she want to??

I had to learn how to hear her first, then how to support her, and then ask her “What are you feeling?” “What do you think about it now that you’ve had time to think?” “What are you hearing from God about this?” AH HA!

As soon as I asked her that question, we were back on the right track. She felt really good being able to process what she was feeling, thinking, learning. I could hear growth in her relationship with God, and she could know that I was empathizing with her, not trying to fix her.

Was she wallowing in pig slop and needed me to stop her from giving herself a poop facial? In the end, not so much. Did she need me to be a voice of truth? That remains to be seen. At that moment my behavior wasn’t the most effective. But luckily she was super patient with me and really walked me through a gentler way to get her to come to those realizations herself.

Wow, I know how to use questioning to lead people to finding the right answer; I really feel like kicking myself, but the truth is even when we “know” something, sometimes until the Holy Spirit has opened our hearts, that knowledge is just words. In a very real way, He taught me how to better be an ambassador of love today. Even though nothing I said was wrong or un-Biblical, I learned that I can better choose when or if to say something.

Both of us grew closer to each other and God through going to Him today.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Because when we stand and look at Him, he cleans us up by degree. And sanctification, like good friends, is a tremendous blessing from God. Cool-Cat-Cafe-Free-Parking-with-Validation

So hopefully, she knows now, that in my friendship parking garage, why, yes, we do validate here. When examining the muck, I need to ask her what she thinks. Is that poop or chocolate? If it’s poop, let’s find the car wash together. If it’s chocolate, it’s every woman for herself.