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The Simple Marriage Prayer That Will Put Your Focus On God

"When we pray these words, we are acknowledging that He is in control of us, and we are not in control of each other. It is offering our own will in exchange for God’s will."

Dear ‘Good Parents’: This Is How You Miss the Signs of Sexual Abuse in Your Child

How do good parents miss child sexual abuse? It is simple.

Twins Found Floating Face Down in Backyard Pool. 6-Yr-Old Who Can’t Swim Dives in After Them in Bold Rescue.

“They were completely gone, there was no life left in them. They were blue. They were limp. There was no heartbeat. There was nothing."

When Your Kids Won’t Bow to Your Idols

The most profound parenting quote I’ve ever heard is from Dan Allender: “One of the biggest sources of conflict between you and your kids is when they refuse to bow down to your idols.”

I dare you to cross-stitch that and give it to a friend at her baby shower.

ANGRY MOMMY

When I had my first child, I was determined to knock this parenting thing out of the park. I read all the books. “If you do these things,” they promised, “your child will be on a predictable schedule and will sleep through the night by the time you come home from the hospital.” Or something like that. Except my son wouldn’t cooperate. He cried endlessly. He had trouble feeding and wouldn’t nap for longer than 20 minutes.

Do you know what my predominant emotion was in the midst of all of this? Anger. At an infant. I threw pillows in the middle of the night and yelled at my husband and said not-so-kind words. To my infant. Now, I’m sure that hormones and sleep deprivation played a role in my response, but more than anything I was upset because I had faithfully followed A and B and I wasn’t getting C. I deserved a child who would cooperate. All the books told me he would if I did my part, and I did my part. I was worshiping at the altars of control, success, convenience, and let’s just say it—reputation. But my son refused to bow down. And I was furious.

He turned 1 and became an easier child. I parented out of pride: “We’re such amazing parents! If only people would follow our lead.” I continued to bow down to my idols: Control. Reputation. Success. Convenience.

Then God gave me exactly what I needed: a second child who refused to do a thing we said. We disciplined. He laughed, and then did it again. He was an enigma, breakdancing to the beat of his own drum, daring anyone to try and tell him what to do.

My predominant emotion? Can you guess? Anger. How dare he. I had created a system of order I loved, and he pummeled through it every single day. So I controlled even more, commanding him to bow to my idol of a compliant, respectful child.

He wouldn’t bow. And I was angry.

IDENTIFY YOUR IDOLS

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller says, “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’” Idols are the things that rattle us when they’re threatened.

How can you identify your idols? Here are four ways.

1. Pay attention to your negative emotional responses to your kids.

Think of the times you get the most frustrated with your child. More often than not, it’s not their behavior that’s causing your response—it’s that one of your idols is being threatened. Trace your feelings back to the source. What’s in jeopardy? Your picture of how your child should behave? Your reputation? Your comfort?

Our reaction to our kids’ behavior often has little to do with brokenness over their sin and a lot to do with how irritated we are that they’re threatening our own desires. Take the time to follow those strong responses back to the source, and repent.

2. Identify what you put your hope in when things go well.

When your child obeys, whom or what do you credit? Your new behavior chart? That book you just read? Your faithfulness? If it’s anything other than the grace of God, you could be worshiping an idol.

Jennifer Phillips
Jennifer Phillips
Jennifer Phillips is the author of Bringing Lucy Home and 30 Days of Hope for Adoptive Parents, and is co-author of the upcoming book Unhitching From the Crazy Train: Finding Rest in a World You Can't Control, written with Julie Sparkman. You can follow Jennifer at jenniferphillipsblog.com.

The Simple Marriage Prayer That Will Put Your Focus On God

"When we pray these words, we are acknowledging that He is in control of us, and we are not in control of each other. It is offering our own will in exchange for God’s will."

Dear ‘Good Parents’: This Is How You Miss the Signs of Sexual Abuse in Your Child

How do good parents miss child sexual abuse? It is simple.

Twins Found Floating Face Down in Backyard Pool. 6-Yr-Old Who Can’t Swim Dives in After Them in Bold Rescue.

“They were completely gone, there was no life left in them. They were blue. They were limp. There was no heartbeat. There was nothing."