Overcome

My dreams are panes of glass,

Showing what could be

With one decision

One mistake

They fall and shatter

They lie around

Reflecting bits and pieces of what could be

To pick them up causes pain

It rips me to shreds

As the edges are jagged

Impossible to put back together

Though it hurts,

Though the blood flows

I hold on to them

I cry from the pain

I choose to destroy myself

I could choose to look into my hands,

And see the new panes that appeared

Those don’t hurt to hold onto

They are whole

Reflecting what can be if I choose to embrace it

I end up looking down though,

Back to the broken future

The future I wanted.

Disregarding what could be

I could choose to look up to heaven

I could choose to ask God for help.

I believe he can

But though the spirit is willing the flesh is weak

I would rather stay stuck

The pain is comforting in a way

It allows me to dream within my scope and no one else’s

I choose to stay clinging to the broken past

Then from the shards I hear a voice whisper my name

It says “Daughter it doesn’t have to be this way”

“I am crazy,” I say trying to go back to the longing but can’t

Ruminating on the voice

“Daughter, do I not leave the 99 to find you?”

“Go away!” I call trying to return to my painful comfort

I can’t go back

So I sit waiting for the voice to return.

“Daughter you are beloved. Follow me for freedom.”

“I’m scared.” I cry.

Sobs echoing over the glass.

“What happens if I let go?”

I look over the fragmented images, feeling the slicing into my soul

“Freedom.” Responds the soft voice.

To let go feels like I would be letting go of all of me.

I’d be stepping into the unknown, but maybe it’s better. Maybe I can heal.

“But you know it here,” hisses another voice.

“How do you know he isn’t lying?”

A few more panes fall from my hands and I try to grab them as they tumble in slow motion

I pick them up and these hurt the most

It is almost like they cut into my very essence

“See how he hurts you,” the voice nearly growls.

I begin to doubt the goodness of the soft loving voice.

“How could someone who loves you treat you this way?”

“A second of hesitation and things fall apart.”

The words cause me to retreat more into my brokenness

I no longer wish to stand

To be cut as I rise

“Daughter, he lies. Flee him, come to me.” The soft warm voice calls.

“Think of all the lies you were told though, young one. Think of all the masks you uncovered. How do you know he is not pretending too? What if his plan is to hurt you worse than you already are?”

“Daughter I have plans for you. Plans to grow you, to prosper you. Plans to give you hope. A future, a life beyond anything you can see here in your fragmented reality.”

“Do you really believe that?”

I sit thinking. I want to choose the comfortable pain, but want something new.

I want freedom.

“Stop,” I scream at the hissing voice

“ I choose you Father!” I stand looking to heaven.

The sky opens and a voice calls down “You are more than loved than you will ever know. Come to me child and I will give you rest.”

A ladder appears and I climb it.

On the way up I realize how big my mess is.

It cuts me with every step, but the Voice encourages me.

I keep climbing and at the top I realize how far I have come.

There are new dreams, but they aren’t fragile panes of glass, they are written in heaven.

I have overcome.

Defiance

Proverbs 22:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I am certain that this post is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way. For a long time, there have been preconceived thoughts on childhood defiance and a whole lot of punishment directed towards it. Most of these are founded in our pride and fear, not in our love. When a child back talks us, it causes us to scramble for control by any means necessary. Many times, this leads to a punishment that is inappropriate and often detrimental to the parent and child relationship.

First, I was to say what doesn’t work in resolving defiance and that is punishment and fear. Neither of these is Christ like. Neither of these is the way that God punishes us. Above all, these cause the wrong part of the brain to be become active when it comes to our children learning a lesson. Our brains are hardwired to avoid painful and stressful items, and when your parent is punishing you, it is both. Children often forget what lead to the punishment and focus solely on the punishment itself. This doesn’t lead to true change, rather better hiding the unwanted behavior.

Defiance is an action that is nearly always spurred out of fear, and that fear doesn’t always make sense, but it is always real and needs to be treated as such. When kids get defiant with me, and this happens often, the first thing I do is ask why. Why is this child not listening to me? Most of the time it is because what I am asking is above the child’s ability or they are genuinely afraid of something. Picture this you see a kid screaming about having to put something back in the store. They yell, “but I want it, you never buy me anything, I hate you.” The parent continues to get angrier, and then ends up either spanking the child or grounding them for an extended period. This hasn’t caused any change to happen in the child.

How to change this is to implement two skills validation and empathy. These two promote connection, which leads to obedience and an adult who can handle life’s stressors. When your child asks for something in the store genuinely state that it’s a cool item, and you wish you could pick it up for them. Next explain honestly why you can’t buy it. (This is why it is awesome for your kids to have an allowance, it teaches money management.) Finally show empathy. What may seem like a stupid gadget to you is truly the end of the world for your child. You want to validate them, by that I mean say something like, “I know you want that toy. I think it is pretty cool too, but right now I don’t have the ability to buy it.” If they said something hurtful towards you, address that later at home by saying, “When you said I hate you, it really hurt my feelings. I love you a lot and it hurts when someone says they hate you. I also know you were upset. I hope you didn’t mean what you said.” This is showing your child, at an appropriate time, how to resolve conflict, take ownership, and move past the action.

Consequence is the final piece of the puzzle, and I am going to say this, if you are having validating conversation, and are showing genuine empathy, you might not need to instill consequences. Much of what we learn is through communication not consequence, though consequence can be important. In this instance an appropriate consequence could be the child losing store privileges or perhaps a letter on why not to say hurtful things. When you are back in the store praise appropriate behavior, and when they are slipping up say hey that’s not how we act before giving any threats or punishments.

I am not saying to let your kids walk all over you, and to never have consequences for misbehavior. Logical consequences need to happen, but so often we inflict punishment that doesn’t meet the crime. Childhood mentality is so much different than adult. They don’t defy to hurt their parents, but rather because they are afraid of something.

1 John 4:18 English Standard Version (ESV)

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

For further reading I highly recommend the book Beyond Consequences. My first readings on defiance came from this book and it is a wonderful place to start. It is based on 1 John 4:18. Much of my writing comes from experience working with defiant kids daily, and reading books like Beyond Consequences. I am not an expert but have seen quite a bit. I hope that you enjoyed this entry, and if you have questions please ask me! I am more than happy to share.

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God. These words are a hard pill for me to swallow at the moment. My world is currently either in boxes, or needing to be placed in boxes in preparation for a last-minute move to another state. I find myself fearing being still, for what if in my stillness a necessary item doesn’t reach completion. What if in taking a moment to eat, I do not have time to pack my blankets? What if by going to church I can’t complete something that is crucial to our move? What if by opening presents tomorrow instead of spending the day placing my possessions in boxes, I lose the ability to complete my task? I am aware that these are quite likely mental exaggerations, but exaggeration or not they are real to me.

Christmas has always been my favorite part of the year, with my favorite day being Christmas Eve. There is something about the lights, smells, get togethers, and traditions that fill my heart. Jesus though is the part that brings me to tears. Every year that I grow in Christ, I am more blown away that God would come in the humblest way possible, purely to die the most excruciating death available, to pay a debt that he didn’t owe, for someone who betrayed him. After all I can’t even be still and acknowledge Him in the midst of chaos, yet he was willing to face suffering on my behalf.

This year hasn’t been an easy one for me. Suffering was a daily reality for me for much of the year. There were times where all I could do was cling to God with everything inside me, with the hope he would deliver me from the pain. He never let me go. I am surprised that I sit here writing this with my life in boxes, preparing for my families next exciting journey. Just one month ago this move wasn’t happening, but God made it possible. God brought us through the impossible, only to place us in front of our just mountain.

In the next week and a half Zac and I have Christmas, a move to a new state, a job interview for me, an interview with a graduate school for me, a vacation, and Zac is transitioning from being the primary bread winner to full time student. Everything is changing this week, and there are times where I want to hit the pause button; just stop the chaos and instead stay in my comfy, secure life. I know though that isn’t where God wants me, He wants me, and my family to jump into this change; to run full force into this new season, finally escaping the winter we didn’t know we were in.

In this He is asking us to be still, and call him God. He is asking us to walk by faith and not by sight. None of this makes sense, but God has made a way, even though it seems impossible. I look forward to the coming months, and years. I look forward to the changes that will come forth from this plan that has been set in motion. I also want to announce that I am going to start making short blogs a part of my life for the coming season. I hope to write daily, but we will see where it leads me. I am being called to write and I hope that I can touch someone’s life. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you continue to read.

Merry Christmas