Dangerous Prayers for a Mom

(Written by Melissa Fagan)

“Dangerous” prayers … have you heard this phrase?

I don’t know when I first heard it, but it was in reference to parenting …. “Pray that your kids will get caught,” I was told.

Sounds pretty good in theory, but guess what? When they get caught, your parenting job gets harder and messier. It requires confrontation and discipline and consequences. Which are generally no fun for anyone, especially Mom. For example, with medium kids (the stage between little kids and big kids), if you restrict them  from TV or electronics … you lose your “babysitter”… well, at least that was mybabysitter so I could take a shower uninterrupted or make dinner or maybe even read something without illustrations.

My kids are big now. And this prayer becomes even more dangerous because the stakes seem higher or at least messier.

 

So a few months ago I started to pray: “God, what are your trying to teach me in my role as a parent?

And guess what? He answered with a big challenge! Yippee…Not.

The trial was not with the kid I was expecting either. I knew there were a lot of adjustments when a college student comes back into the house. cause… rules! And a hierarchy where the student isn’t at the top or equal with their “roommates”.

However, God had a different lesson for my heart this month. When big kids make mistakes and get caught, it is harder on my heart. This particular incident included a premeditated bad decision that broke known rules and also… a lie … TO MY FACE!

My emotion was not anger, but sadness. Followed by an instinct to pretend I didn’t know what happened. I even said “I don’t want to parent this!” My husband and I could have chosen to let it go and not confront it. Pretend we didn’t know. My “feelings” were also complicated because it poked at old wounds of guilt and shame at mistakes I had made as a teenager. God uses this role as Mom, to teach and mold US. Not just our kiddos. And He calls us to discipline them.

“Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;” Proverbs 19:18a

So we confronted the situation and all the emotions. We went to bed with heavy hearts and a promise to work out the consequences. (I have learned through the years that imposing a impulsive consequence isn’t the best strategy. I suggest waiting until you are calm).

And Moms, I have to tell you that twice in this ordeal, God spoke to me with guidance directly from the bible. If you get any take away from this, I hope it will be to call on God and to read His word.

A few years ago, I started a plan where I read one chapter of the bible per week day along with other women. The morning after the confrontation, my assigned chapter was 1 Corinthians 13. I knew this chapter by number and always associated it with romantic love. When we got married 25 years ago, I did not own a bible. But part of this chapter was read at our wedding ceremony. cause …. it’s the Love chapter!! But today, the Lord shed a new light on it. In particular, verse 7:

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Oh my, God spoke to my heart and gave me his example for my parenting dilemna!

When I was feeling so wounded by the breach in trust, He reminded me that it can be repaired. There is Hope. Yes, there is discipline…discipline in love. And getting caught and persevering in the consequences is not only character building but a form of protection.

The story did not end right there. There was remorse and repentance. (and self-imposed deep cleaning of her room etc.). However, God was not done with our lesson. A week later, a ripple effect of a poor choice, resurfaced. And people outside of our family circle were hurt. Sin can be like that. And it was embarrassing and humbling and we all just felt miserable. But let me tell you, God showed up BIG in my misery…..
The next morning my reading was 2 Corinthians 2. I had tears in my eyes as I read verses 6-8.

The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

I can’t tell you the peace this brought me. My daughter was suffering excessive sorrow. And God spoke directly into my situation! The pronoun was off but the message was clear! So clear that I texted it to my husband and later shared it with my son. Neither of them are bible readers but it was hard to say this was just a coincidence.

Praise God for His intimate love, guidance and discipline.

And to quote Matt Tutor from {The Gathering} this past June:

“Failure is Glorious. Mistakes are never the end of the world.”

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Intention Dare for Lent: Replace Stress with Joy

Originally published on MOMS at HOPE blog 2/27/2017

I have been a Mom for a little over 20 years. Parenting and my journey as a Navy wife (and I guess as a woman, in general) has been marked with times of poor stress management and sometimes full-blown anxiety. I am currently in a good season and I am managing my stress well. God has used these uncomfortable and sometimes downright sick times to mold me. To desperately seek comfort from Him and admit my need to others.

I think I could write a 10 part series on all the ways He has molded me in this particular area. And the setting of the first chapter is taboo in some circles – the potty. But we are Moms and “potty talk” is part of the conversation when you have small kids, right? My most visible sign of unmanaged stress is an irritable bowel. And when I would feel stuck in the bathroom with kiddos outside the door NEEDING me, the anxiety would escalate.

One of the first verses I memorized as new Christian in those young-kid years, was Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These verses are so wonderful and I’d like to say I recite them and my panic immediately goes away, but when I am really feeling sick, I can’t think that straight. But I have learned to call out to God in my anxiety.

You know what works the best?

I just say one word: Jesus. Then breathe.

In less desperate situations, I have implemented the directives in the verses more elaborately.

Talking more specifically to God through prayer.
Being intentionally grateful.
Allowing Him into my heart to guard it.
Resting in His peace.

Allowing myself to be loved and even loving myself also reduces stress … my flawed, broken, beautiful self.

At Moms at Hope {PM}, Anne Floyd, Hope Church’s counselor, spoke on physical, emotional and spiritual self-care. She gave us a list of ways the we can love ourselves, because to love others we must first love ourselves. I have implemented most of her list over the years and it has been instrumental in molding me into a less anxious woman. I really shouldn’t put that in past tense. It is a daily endeavor. In fact, my Internist gave me a document when we were discussing medication and I was also concerned about someone that was under stress:

CAUSES All sorts of life events may cause stress. An event that causes stress for one person may not be stressful for another person. Major life events commonly cause stress. These may be positive or negative. Examples include losing your job, moving into a new home, getting married, having a baby, or losing a loved one. Less obvious life events may also cause stress, especially if they occur day after day or in combination. Examples include working long hours, driving in traffic, caring for children, being in debt, or being in a difficult relationship. (Elsevier Interactive Patient Education ©2016 Elsevier Inc, emphasis mine.)

I’m guessing you noticed “caring for children.” *wink* I think one of the best ways to relieve stress is exactly what you are doing here at Moms at Hope – finding community with other moms.

And today, I have a tool for you. It’s a perfect opportunity to jump on for Lent and reduce stress. I dare you to replace your stress with joy!

Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter, begins this Wednesday. Growing up, it was a time to give something up. I only recall being successful once. And it was a big one…no TV! For a 6th grade girl … home after school unsupervised… no Brady Bunch or Speed Racer! It was a challenge between my neighbor friend, Meg, and I. (Pre-teen girl competition can be effective accountability. Who knew?)

Last year, I was introduced to a new idea ——> reverse lent. Author Karen Ehman, blogged about this proactive spin and I loved it.  (You can read her challenge here.)

This year I want to be intentional in preparing to celebrate Easter.

So this tool that I am inviting your to “take on” for Lent addresses one of the treatments in my Doctors document, time management and setting priorities, while at the same time incorporating gratitude and prayer. It is “The 5 Minute Way to Start My Day” tool.

Here’s the format:
3 for 3 in 5 minutes ——-> 3 categories with 3 bullets each

  • Today I am grateful for:
  • Three things I want to accomplish today:
  • Who I am praying for today:

I invited friends to join me and it has been so helpful. So now I invite you!

“Embrace the awesome feeling of taking control of your day before a bad attitude or annoying mood hijacks your joy!” Nicole Unice on Instagram

Because I have embraced it. And replaced stress with JOY!

If you would like to join the Facebook accountability group CLICK HERE and request to be added. 

Click to download the 5 Minute Way to Start My Day Handout

Dangerous Prayers for a Mom

I was guest blogging at Moms at Hope recently. I wanted to include it here for my followers as well. It gets real.

[ M O M S at H O P E ]

(Written by Melissa Fagan)

“Dangerous” prayers … have you heard this phrase?

I don’t know when I first heard it, but it was in reference to parenting …. “Pray that your kids will get caught,” I was told.

Sounds pretty good in theory, but guess what? When they get caught, your parenting job gets harder and messier. It requires confrontation and discipline and consequences. Which are generally no fun for anyone, especially Mom. For example, with medium kids (the stage between little kids and big kids), if you restrict them  from TV or electronics … you lose your “babysitter”… well, at least that was my babysitter so I could take a shower uninterrupted or make dinner or maybe even read something without illustrations.

My kids are big now. And this prayer becomes even more dangerous because the stakes seem higher or at least messier.

So a few months ago…

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Intention Dare for Lent

I was guest blogging over at Moms at Hope this week. Check it out…

(written by Melissa Fagan) I have been a Mom for a little over 20 years. Parenting and my journey as a Navy wife (and I guess as a woman, in general) has been marked with times of poor stress management and sometimes full-blown anxiety. I am currently in a good season and I am managing my […]

via Intention Dare for Lent: Replace Stress with Joy — >>> MOMS AT HOPE

Parenting Lessons from a pair of sister wives

As most of you know I co-lead a Moms of Teens group. I am also part of an online group called Good Morning Girls that reads the bible together 1 chapter at a time. God has been teaching me many things as I spend time with him reading his Word. This month we are reading 1 Samuel.

The beginning of the very first chapter captivated me and I have been meditating on it for a few weeks. So much application to my own life and to my role as a Mom. I can put myself into the place of each of these characters.

I knew that we had chapters in our current Moms of Teens (MOTS) book that spoke on friendships and on eating disorders … I could see some of that in this pair of “sister-wives”.

I wanted to come right out and share each insight but truly felt God nudging me to not “teach” it but to simply guide others in reading it for themselves. And as we did that together as a group, I learned even more.

Some big revelations like … how we can sometimes try to make our kid’s problems all about us and try to solve things for them instead of listening (WHAT?!)  like Elkanah did to Hannah.

And we made some interesting observations like … beer is mentioned in the bible!

So if you are reading this, give it a shot. See what you can learn from this passage:

 

1 Samuel 1:1-20 (NIV)

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.

Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

 12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

 

Reflection Questions:

What can we learn from Hannah and Peninnah’s relationship? Have you or your teens ever felt like Hannah? Peninnah?

How did Hannah initially respond to Peninnah’s provoking (v.7)?

How did Hannah’s husband react to her (v.8)? Do you ever find yourself taking it personally when your teen is downhearted, weeping or not eating?

What did Hannah do in her deep anguish  (vs. 10-17)?

And how did it change her (v.18) ?

How can this help you in parenting your teenager?


 

These are my attempts at writing scripture prayers from the story. And of course, I added some photos to them too. (I didn’t really have photos of people provoking one another but I could recollect a few of my kids poking and provoking each other.)

Prayers for your teens based on 1 Samuel 1:1-20

Lord, I pray that ___________ would be a good friend and never provoke or intentionally irritate others. And if ___________ is provoked, that he/she would come to you in prayer.

 Just as Hannah did, I pray that ____________ would share his/her downhearted feelings and his/her heart’s desires with you. Remind ____________ that you remember him/her.

 

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God is with us in … our inter-generational relationships and our decorations🎄

God is with us in our … inter-generational friendships and our decorations 🎄

The theme for the Hope Women’s Ministry Christmas dinner and the devotional series that followed was subtitled:

Finding Peace During this Christmas Season.

I prayed about this topic and each of these words. As I contemplated Christmas as a “season”, the vision that came to my mind was an Advent wreath of my youth; 4 candles orderly marking the weeks of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity (birth) of Jesus. {yes, I looked that up}
Which in turn brought up thoughts of decorating my house for the season. I do not have the decorating gift but I like to fill the house with decorations during December. I have several nativities and wreaths that are reminders of Jesus’ presence in this season. Oh and a gigantic pre-lit, fake tree. I sit and gaze at it in the dark with only the lights of the tree in the room. That quiet time at night is peaceful and filled with God’s presence as I gaze at ornaments representing so many memories. (side note: the tree is covered in souvenir ornaments from our travels, the kids’ handmade items, gifts from friends and ornament exchanges, hobbies and sports teams representations, mini nutcrackers collected by our son, etc. It is our knick-knack display to keep the house clutter free the other 11 months ;-))

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As I continue to think on this as a “season” of waiting to celebrate Jesus’ birth, my thoughts turn to the expectant Mary. I used to sing Silent Night as a lullaby to my babies and felt a kinship with Mary. I sang it year round along with another song, Baby Beluga (that ended nicely with “Good-nightlittle whale, good-night”). In retrospect, I may have really been inspired to sing Silent Night because it has the line “sleep in heavenly peace” and isn’t that what every Momma is hoping for in that nighttime rocker!
I opened my bible app and searched for the story of Mary’s pregnancy. I was looking for what brought her peace in this “season”. Having an Angel say, “do not be afraid” and tell you that you have favor with God (Luke 1:30) should be comforting.

BUT the virgin birth idea would have freaked me out!!

The Angel assured her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that nothing was impossible with God. And by her faith and obedience she seemed to be peaceful to me. How awesome is it that we also have the Holy Spirit in us as believers and we can find peace in the assurance that all things are possible with God!

I continued to read on in Luke 1. I was reminded of the relationship between elderly Elizabeth (pregnant with John) and her teenage cousin, Mary (pregnant with Jesus). They were not close in age but they were definitely connected in circumstance. I can imagine they shared a lot, especially because in verse 56 it says:
“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”

(Sidenote: That was way over the Ben Franklin limit we often follow  … “Fish and visitors stink after 3 days.” hehe)

I have enjoyed inter-generational relationships and found peace there (but I never moved in).

When I was in my 30’s, I was part of a formal “Titus 2” group. I was a younger woman…
Titus 2:3-5 NIV
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God
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I now find myself loving the older woman role at this stage of my life while still enjoying my relationships with the older-than-me women too. I find peace in these Godly relationships. And the wisdom shared with me by the mentors in my life has been a way that God has shown himself to be present.

I have one particular example from the Christmas season that has stuck with me. My older friend, Cindy, hosted a potluck lunch for our bible study group at the end of a fall semester. I knew Cindy well as she was one of my original Titus 2 women years ago. But this was the first time I was back in her charming house since I had moved away for 7 years. Her house was decorated for Christmas. Cindy loves Christmas. She had shared many of her families’ traditions with us over the years. Our family collected nutcrackers because of her but I never quite mastered gingerbread houses like the stories of their elaborate family collaborations. (We have done a few of the premade ones from Walmart).

(Added interest: I just saw this on Instagram this week… Cindy now has grandchildren to continue the traditions with … another encouragement to me as my teens are “over” some of our traditions) img_5731

During the fellowship lunch, Cindy told us that she would like each of us to look around at her decorations and pick one to take home with us!! (with the exception of homemade items by her kids or grandkids).

She seriously was going to let us take whatever we wanted! In fact, she insisted!!

I was overwhelmed with her generous offer and impacted by her “teaching” that material things are not our treasures.

I selected a glass church ornament from the small tree in her sunroom. It is one of my favorite “memories” and is still hanging from our pre-lit, fake, non-decorator, knick-knack tree and I hope that I would give it to you, if you asked.

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God is with us in… (guest blogging at Hope Women’s Ministry: Can’t See the Forest for the Trees)

Hope Women’s Ministry is doing an advent blog: I was humbled to write some thoughts on the topic of  :

Can’t See the Forest for the Trees ~ Finding Peace During the Christmas Season.

God is with us in …

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http://www.hopepres.com/hope-womens

God is with us in the … shopping!

Let me just say it… I don’t like shopping! This may sound Un-American or you may be thinking I am putting on the appearance that I am completely free from the love of “stuff”.  But believe me our house is full of stuff, and yes, we do continue to acquire more. However, the process of going in and out of stores, of making decisions and then parting with my money is not fun for me.

But shopping IS part of our life. We need food, clothing and shelter, right?! In fact, one of my stay-at-home Mom friends once told me that the main part of her job description was: Procurement Specialist. Costco and Target have helped me overcome some of my shopping stress. Food, clothing and shelter (well, furniture and the decorative parts of the shelter) are all under one roof, for a fair price and can be easily returned. I can now fulfill the family role of procurement.

Until Christmas comes around… Somehow I get overwhelmed again trying to think of perfect, thoughtful gifts, put together beautifully, wrapped and mailed to family all over the country. I impose all kinds of expectations on myself. And I fall deep into the materialistic trap of what the entire month of December has turned into (and sometimes sooner… I felt a panic seeing Christmas decorations filling the Target seasonal section, the day after Halloween).
I need to take a step back and keep Jesus in this season with me. Cause He is the Reason for the Season, right?
In Romans 13:5 we are reminded:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…
Yes… I want to do this, I want to have this perspective, but it is hard!
The second part of the verse is so helpful to me…
because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Yes!! God is with us! We are not alone. He will never leave us! I can admit my struggles and issues and He will not leave me. And a couple years ago, He reminded me that He will even go shopping with me!

It was the week after the Hope Women’s Christmas dinner. Kim Hill had been the featured guest and I bought her CD: “Real Christmas” and put it in my only remaining CD player, the one in my car.
Kim’s voice took me back to my childhood and a memory of my Mom and I listening to Anne Murray on the Mike Douglas show! (that was long before Ipods or CD’s. I think it was even before my first 8 track tape player!). And Kim sang songs of praise right in my car. Songs like: Angels We Have Heard On High, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, What Child is This?, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
Oh yes! Come Emmanuel (which is translated “God with us”). Hop in the minivan with me while I navigate parking lots and errands and shopping! And my new friend, Kim and I will sing to you.

The need to purchase gifts hasn’t disappeared. And I don’t buy everything on Costco.com and have it delivered. But I have continued the tradition of shopping with Jesus and singing in the car. It brings me peace, perspective and a renewed attitude.

——————————->

Hope only blogged words but if you follow me, you know I am a photo blogger!  So here is a pic of me when I met Kim Hill and she signed my CD! And a peek at my dashboard in shopping center parking lot …. this year… and I no longer have a minivan or that CD.

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Shopping

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But I still have God and I can get back to a good perspective.

Plus Pandora!!

I took it one step further than shopping … used it in packing yesterday! One of my anxiety triggers. I carried my phone around with me as I packed everything 😉 I need for 3 car trips, Christmas at the Grandparents’ house, and a ski trip with meals in the condo.