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.

 

 

 

How to herd cats … or sheep

Have you ever heard the phrase herding cats?

Herding Cats… brings to mind activities like: elementary school field trips, toddler playgroups at the playground, taking Preschool VBS kids to the gym, pep rallies…

My friend Karen just shared this memory with me and my first thought was the chaos and noise of that bailey bear boogie pep rally .. in fact, I carried ear plugs with me after that day 

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and as a photographer… group photos.

In fact, I have an album on our Swim team site that I named Herding cats and other shenanigans… img_5566

 

Now sheep sound somewhat more peaceful, right?  … you know… those fluffy white guys you can count when you can’t sleep.  So Sheep herding should be less chaotic, right?

Have you ever taken a personality test or a spiritual gifts test?

Well, one of my gifts is Shepherding. Yep! Sheep Herding.

 {okay… i just went down a rabbit hole…I remembered that Hope Church used to have a test on the website… and guess what, It’s still there! so if you are interested… here is a link: Spiritual Inventory from Hope Church Memphis}

As far as shepherding goes, it does sound natural to me. I don’t imagine chaos. I love to gather groups of people. To connect on a deeper level. To care for one another.  That is my basic view of it.  Here is the definition I just found in the rabbit hole:

SHEPHERDING

The gift of shepherding is the special ability to nurture, care for, and guide people toward on-going spiritual maturity and becoming like Christ. The person with this gift enjoys spending time nurturing and caring for others, and enjoys giving guidance and practical support to a small group of people. (Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 5:1-4 John 10:1-1)

Yep! I do enjoy it!

Do you ever find yourself exhausted from nurturing, caring an guiding others?

I do!  I can get a little overwhelmed and worn out. Whether in parenting, marriage, extended family, friends or ministry. It happens.

But God has shown me some answers.

It started with me looking for something descriptive on the Hope website about Moms at Hope {pm}  (which is one of the groups that I enjoy… and I get to be mostly a sheep in there) but clear as day was another class that God had picked out as an answer to prayer after a long day of bearing others burdens…. this was the class description ——>

God’s Word and our own experience of the Lord’s Spirit, teaches us we are to “love one another” and “bear one another’s burdens.” This six-week seminar will give our Hope community an opportunity to understand and improve the quality of care we share with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and customers. Understanding how to give care allows us to grow in our ability to reach out to others with Christ-like compassion.

Bingo…. I thought improving my skills was perfect… something I could DO!  But it’s not really all about DOING!  But it was still clear that this was where I was supposed to be.

Yesterday was the 2nd session and we were to read scripture and identify how Jesus showed compassion. Our group was assigned  Mark 6: 30-34  It is the beginning of the familiar story but these 4 verses had a different highlight for me.

30The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Jesus makes clear:

  1. When we are weary, we need to be with Him in a quiet place and rest.

  2. The crowd is still there but we are equipped to show compassion and be a shepherd and/or a teacher after we “land”.

 

The picture He gave me was from that very morning. Before Moms groups begin, we have a leaders’ prayer time. 30 minutes in a quiet room in His presence preparing for the day. A time to breathe and lower our heart rates. At the final Amen, we have landed. We head across the hall to “munch and mingle” with the large crowd and His presence goes with us. And His love abounds.

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4 things I learned today about being a brave parent

Today I began the study of the book of Joshua. I must admit, I still have a New Testament bias and I have less enthusiasm for an OLD testament chapter.  I don’t like old in general… no antiques for me and as for my body getting old …that’s no fun either  (I have a milestone birthday coming up so I may have that on the brain…that is for another post.)

But once again God’s Word, even the OLD, has a fresh word for ME today. And maybe for you as well.

In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua is being given direction on leading God’s people into the promised land after the death of Moses.

I saw several truths that apply to the challenges of parenting.

For me, I am in the stages of: launch (college sophomore)  and prepare to launch (11th grader). But this could apply to many stages and challenges.

#1   ————–>

Be Strong and Courageous!

It is repeated 4 TIMES in this chapter!!  It must be important! Not just for the Israelites but for us too in our daily lives.  Being strong and courageous as we embark on the journey as Mothers. And as our kiddos become adults,….whew…  it can be a scary time of letting go. We want to have an eye on them.  A few days ago, a photo showed up on my Facebook memories from Jack’s first day of High School. I wanted to have an eye on him, I wanted to go out to the bus stop and take a photo, but I didn’t. I resorted to being a stalker Mom in a not so courageous fashion. Here is the photo to prove it:

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My letting go skills have improved but I’m still crazy about photos.


From verses 5 and 6

… As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
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#2

Trust God’s promises.

God promises never to leave us. (verse 5) And that means our kids too.  He has got them. He is present. He will not forsake us. …. I didn’t have a clear picture of “forsake”… here are some synonyms:

abandon, desert, leave, leave high and dry, turn one’s back on, cast aside, break (up) with

well then… not forsaking is even better than I thought because those are some of my fears/wounds.  In fact, yesterday, I admitted to my husband that I have mixed feelings about how to celebrate our 25th Anniversary that is coming up. My parents renewed their vows at 25 years and we threw them a party. It was a very happy day. But later that year, my Dad moved out. They separated. The word doesn’t sound as harsh. It sounds mutual. But it wasn’t mutual. The truth is, my mother was cast aside. It was devastating. And it wounded me. I have allowed God to heal the wound. But I guess you would say there is a scar. a reminder. And the words “25th Anniversary” poked at my scar.  And all these words are spilling from my fingers. …. Back to the promise….

People may leave us and forsake us but God will NOT!!

#3

We are to help in the right time.

from verses 14 and 15:

You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.

But more specifically I got a picture of us helping our children until God gives them rest and He gives them their own “land”.  Albeit their own “land” may look like a cramped apartment with several roommates. But after that we can settle in our empty nest facing the sunrise!  And speaking of sunrise… I saw the most beautiful sunrise photo on Facebook…

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photo credit to: Jayne Manetz

These are girl scout seniors that were woken up early for a candlelight ceremony. And treated to this amazing sunrise. The sun looks like an eye. Yes, I believe God has an eye on these teen girls.

(the one in the football jersey is the daughter of old friends. I was there for her baptism when she was a baby, I have prayed for her, and see her live bravely and do her own thing.)

#4

Meditate on God’s Word and it will lead you to obedience

Verse 8:

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Yes…another reason I love day one of a reading a new book of the bible. It guides me in meditating on it.

…………………I took a break from finishing this post……..I was interrupted with life ….. I got a text from a Mom with a heartbreaking situation with her teen. And I felt a burden…. to pray…not in a nice churchy way…but in a cry to God way asking “Why?”  I didn’t have a nice encouraging reply to give to my friend.  But as I cried to the Lord with my head in my hands, I looked down and saw what I had been doing…meditating on the Word. It wasn’t specific to this situation but it is where God lead me.  His answer to my cry and my text to my friend:

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This morning I have been meditating on Joshua Chapter 1.

4 times he says Be strong and courageous!

Motherhood requires it.
I am clinging to the promise that He will not leave us and will be with us wherever we go. Even in our battles or our teens battles.

 

Things can get tough in parenting but we can be strong and courageous. We do not need to be fearful or dismayed!!! We are not alone! 

 

AMEN (and goodnight)

 

Here is all of Joshua Chapter 1 if you would like to read it.

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’ ” But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.” Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!””
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:1-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/jos.1.1-18.niv

A letter to Moms of High School Seniors

NOTE: This post has been updated several times as I think of things to add 🙂

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Moms of High School Seniors,

It has been a year since I was in your shoes. The year of decisions and “lasts” is so emotional. For the senior and the parents. This year has been a year of transition and adjustment but so much easier on my heart.

I have been praying for each of you. I know that some of you were awaiting the April 1st college deadline. It can be a hard day if your senior gets some “no’s” and it also puts an end to the possible decision procrastination. I have been using these scriptures to pray for your senior. I will add to this post with more encouragement for you as Mamas soon. But today I have it on my heart for your seniors and their decisions and emotions.

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You Are Loved.

xo,   Melissa

P.S. I chose the cover photo because 1. bridges symbolize transition. 2. My sonimage is walking ahead on his own which symbolizes that this is our senior’s decision. 3. when faced with big decisions or emotions, I have found that mind clearing, solitary activities are helpful. I generally choose a nap. But my senior liked to swim in the ocean or walk outdoors with music in his headphones.

 


 

Actually…here is some encouragement for you…

This book was really good. The except I copied here has some encouraging biblical examples of women that faced change.

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——>  here’s another option for deep thoughts …

 

Oh shoot … Just when I was trying to be funny …. Now I’m feeling emotional looking at these little backsides and thinking of mine being that age … Like yesterday!

Such is the roller coaster ride of Motherhood.  Enjoy the ride. Even when your tummy feels funny with anticipation.  Let go of the bar, raise your hands and … Let your emotions out. 😳😁😜😫😢😭😀🤑😍


 

Last year this time, I was planning for graduation. Below is a link to what I came up with for an announcement. I had two versions. One that invited people to a BBQ and one for out of town friends.

I do not few announcements as requests for gifts but merely celebrating the student and this rite of passage. People like to celebrate with one another.

Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

This is how I decided who to send the cards to… I looked at my contacts and my Christmas card list and thought about “who is in the Jack fan club?” I later wished I had thought of a few other people. like his piano teacher, Mrs. Burnside. As for local friends of ours, I used this test “If Jack ran into them at Kroger, would he say hi to them?”  This kept me from just inviting my friends 🙂     Side note: Jack is pretty friendly with adults. If you have a shy child, this test may not work.

A link to Jack’s graduation announcement from Shutterfly

 


This year in our Hope Moms of Teens group, we had 7 Moms with graduating Seniors.

We planned a special time for them at our end of year luncheon.

Below is the prayer (by Angie Coleman)  and hand-crafted gift (by Tracey Simpson) that we presented to them.

 

Dear precious father,

I ask that you be with these moms as they enter a new season with their teens. Show your face to them as they let go… Give them the peace that comes from trusting you Lord — our savior and gracious father. How precious these moms are to you and oh how precious these children are too. What a wonderful and amazing God we serve, trust and love completely.
Heavenly father, please be with these graduating seniors as they go where they do not know.

As they seek to grow in knowledge and in their life, we pray that they grow in their faith.

As they set out to conquer the world, we pray that they conquer their fears through trust in you.

As they strive to find their place, we pray that they find YOU.

Please go with them where we cannot, protect them when we cannot, and bring them safely home to us to visit a lot.

Amen

The Senior Moms at the Luncheon:

 

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parenting teen anger

Love and Anger ~ Forging Constructive Paths

My notes on Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages of Teenagers”  Chapter 10 on Anger

Resolving anger is so important!

“Unresolved anger in the heart and mind of the teenager is one of the worst things that can happen…it breeds bitterness and resentment. …If the parent is going to successfully communicate love to the teenager, the parent must first seek to deal with the unresolved anger.” p.168

Steps for Forging the constructive path:

  • Determine if your teen implodes or explodes when angry

  • LISTEN, refuse the temptation to defend yourself, if you get the silent treatment, examine yourself to see if you over control and if so, confess that and admit you are trying to be a better listener.

  • Affirm that their angry feelings are valid. EMPATHIZE; put yourself in the teens shoes and recognize how it might make you feel if you were them.

  • THEN you can explain your perspective and seek resolution. Remember to admit when you make a mistake.


 

 I put this method to use last week with awesome results. An argument over tracking my son on the Find my iPhone app was a source of resentment stemming back to an argument over a year ago. At that time I handled it incorrectly. When he first exploded in anger, I jumped to defending myself. Eventually, I realized I was wrong in my accusation and apologized for that. But I did not listen to the underlying feelings that caused the anger.  Fast forward to last weekend. My son is home from college for spring break and went out with his sister and a friend. My daughter thought he was over the high school stuff and she mentioned another time that I tracked him secretly that she knew about. She thought he would laugh about it now. But NO. As soon as they walked in the door, he exploded again. He had bitterness and resentment that were triggered. But this time I was better prepared.

I LISTENED!     …PEOPLE…   that is huge!

I learned a lot about him. He simmered down. I EMPATHIZED. I recalled how I felt when my husband started getting daily updates on out credit card balance. He wasn’t trying to track me or bug me but if he said something like “How was Michael’s today? Did you go to Target 3 times today?” I would get defensive and maybe even explode or implode depending on the day.  I could understand my son’s feelings.  

And THEN, he was ready to listen to my parenting rationale and the potential this tool could have in some cases. And be a protection if a teen was heading down a dangerous path. I spoke more hypothetically about teens and he conceded my point. He still did not want me to track him or his sister but it was a productive conversation and the anger was gone!!!  Woo Hoo!!     


 

Personal Reflection Questions:

  1. Having to listen to an angry teenager can be challenging. Are you a listening parent who is prepared to field hard questions? Why is it so important to allow angry expressions to be heard?
  2. Was there ever a time when your feelings were ignored and you knew they were important? Why is recognizing your teen’s feelings essential to affirming the validity of your teen’s anger?
  3. What is strategic about explaining your perspective as a parent and then seeking a resolution? What can it enable that helps break the destructive patterns of anger?
  4. Parents make mistakes. Have you ever confessed past failures to your teen and asked forgiveness? How do expect your teen would respond to a sincere apology?

 

Choose a memory verse to help you in times of anger:

(resource: bible.com app teen devotional on anger)

Proverbs 14:30

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

 

Proverbs 17:14

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

 

Proverbs 19:11

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

 

Proverbs 20:3

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

 

Proverbs 29:11

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

 

Romans 12:19

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

 

Ephesians 4:26-27

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

 

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

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I chose to memorize James 1:19-20. Being slow to speak is a challenge for me. If I am not intentional, I tend to speak the first word AND the last word. (and maybe most of those in between). I pray for God’s strength to help me change in this area.

I added part of the verse to a photo I took this week. These tulips, in a road median, spoke God’s creative beauty to me. How awesome that God can correct and mold me as well as surprise me with flowers.

Have a great day, my friends.

Do not fear the bridge

“In life’s transitions, the bridge from the known to the unknown may seem long and unstable. Trust God. He is steady. He has the map.” Melissa Fagan 🙂


“Our teens are… ~ in a state of radical transition. When a person is in a state of transition ~ things in their external world are changing while their inner world of thoughts, feelings, and desires are in a state of disequilibrium ~ a person responds differently in different situations.” p.129

This is a quote from the first page of Chapter 8 in the “5 Love Languages of Teenagers” by Gary Chapman. The Chapter is about how to discover a teen’s love language.  Well, apparently, I lead our group astray, because I thought we already did this! We had our teens fill out the questionnaire at the back of the book. It looks like the author had a reason for putting it at the back and not the front. Determining our teen’s love language is not quite as easy as filling in a form.

Guess why?     Not because they don’t want to fill it out or that they truly like or dislike  almost all of the ways they can receive love   BUT   because they might answer it differently depending on the day or even the moment!

That takes us back to the quote. Radical transition and disequilibrium is a reality for our teens. And it can cause them to react differently. The author talks about 3 different areas that are unique to a teenager’s transition:

fluctuating moods, thoughts and desires

emerging independence

developing self-identity

I have been wrestling all week with how and what to write about all of these thoughts. What to share and what not to share. I have several examples of teen reactions relating to fluctuating moods, emerging independence and developing self-identity. If you are parenting a teenager, you can share some too. Or remember it from your own teen years. But what God has put on my heart to reflect on today is the word transition. It conjures up a lot of feelings in me and is helping me identify with my teenagers.

A few years ago, I kept losing weight (I know…nobody wants to hear this as a problem) and suffering from nausea and IBS. I had a lot of testing done. Two moves later, I was diagnosed with transitional anxiety! I didn’t want to accept it at first. How could I be a successful Navy wife if I can’t manage transition? But that is my ego speaking and resisting. Fulfilling God’s purpose for me has nothing to do with my “success”.  I am happy to say that currently I am not suffering from transitional anxiety and (most days) I am not discouraged by the 35 pounds have gained.

So… that was my first thought at the idea of radical transition.  As I began to write about it, I googled the word. And here is something I find ironic…. the first definition I found for transition had to do with writing… and as I read it, I realized it is one of my biggest struggles and it may be my WEAKNESS… my challenge that I often ignore. Here is the part of the definition from wikipedia:

Transitions are “bridges” that “carry a reader from section to section.” Transitions guide a reader through steps of logic, increments of time, or through physical space. Transitions “…connect words and ideas so that your readers don’t have to do the mental work for you.”

Ummm… yes! That is important stuff! And to you, my readers, I apologize for my stream of consciousness style. My lack of bridges and the extra mental work it requires of you!

But perhaps you have noticed that loving a teenager requires extra mental work! Precisely because they are in the midst of transition and haven’t found their way to what lies on the other side of the bridge. And that land is a bit of an unknown. And we don’t know exactly what the “land” on the other side looks like and neither do they!  But the good news is: God does!

I love the visual of a bridge. I often take pictures of bridges (okay… I often take pictures of lots of things). But they are beautiful and symbolic. People pay extra money for a bridge view. It is a good view. But sometimes when I’m driving over a bridge, I am fearful. At times it is just a twinge and at others it is more intense.  I completely trust my husband’s driving. Even if he is on the phone or driving with his knees … I’m serious… I figure if he can land a jet on an aircraft carrier at night, he can handle driving.

Except on a bridge.

My brain processes it differently. Why would I stop trusting?  Why do I let fear get a foothold when I am on a bridge — transitioning from one side to the other?  Could it be related to the transition?  One thing I know for sure, the higher the bridge and the less I can see leads to a harder experience. With fear and without trust.


 

Here are a few of my favorite places and bridges:

 

As I pulled out the photos, I prayed about all of this and here is what became clear:

“In life’s transitions, the bridge from the known to the unknown may seem long and unstable. Trust God. He is steady. He has the map.”

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This picture in particular reminds me of being a parent and standing near by as our kid’s navigate the transition called “teenager” ~ the bridge between child and adult.

To pray for this kind of trust, I turned to one of my favorite resources. The Moms in Prayer website. I identified what part of God’s character I truly need to trust in transition.

Try praying these for yourself and for your teens.

Scripture Prayers for our teens in transition

 God is the Master Planner

Show __________Your ways, O Lord, teach __________ Your paths, guide him/her in Your truth and teach __________, for You are __________’s God and Savior, may _________’s hope be in You all day long.     From Psalm 25:4-5

God is Immutable

May _______ put his/her hope and trust in Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever.  From Hebrews 13:8

God is Faithful

Let_________ know that no temptation has seized him/her except what is common to man. And You, God, are faithful; You will not let _________ be tempted beyond what he/she can bear. But when__________ is tempted, You will also provide a way out so that _________ can stand up under it.    From I Corinthians 10:13

God is our Guide

Lord, guide _______ in what is right and teach him/her Your way. From Psalm 25:9

 


 

A lot of our teenager’s behavior is influenced by this radical transition.

It may be challenging but it is normal.

It is what I call TTB:

Typical Teen Behavior

Giving it a name helps me, on the spot, to have perspective and LET IT GO!

Here’s an example: I like to plan ahead and in general, my teen does too. But lots of teen social get togethers require a zillion group texts and last minute modifications. So when my daughter comes to me and says, “Could you please drive me and 3 friends to the movies? And we need to leave in 1 minute?” Instead of getting all uptight, I can simply answer yes or no and let go of the “why didn’t you plan ahead lecture” because I know it is TTB and it will pass with the season.

My teen has also started to identify some TMB…. you guessed it… Typical Mom Behavior. It helps her to Let Go of some of the areas that frustrate her. Instead of thinking “You are the only mean Mom that does this!” She can realize that she is not alone. And although she may not like it, we are doing our Mom-thing and it is our job!

 


 

Back to the chapter….

So the answer to finding your teens love language was NOT: ask them or have them take the test. Here is what Gary Chapman suggests:

The three-step approach to finding your teens primary Love Language:

  1. ask questions
  2. make observations
  3. experiment

 

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A video of my class presentation “rough draft” is available in our Facebook group:

Transitions and Bridges by Melissa Fagan from the kitchen table

Although these videos aren’t perfect, they are real and I have received positive feedback, so I will continue to explore this area.

I continue to feel lead by God to share in new ways. And this blog post lead to me first original quote. (on the golden gate bridge photo)

I approach this with humility and hope that it is not perceived as self-promotion. I am open to feedback. Please comment below or contact me.


 

P.S. After Naomi posted about walking the bridge in the fog, I thought I would post this fog photo from last week:

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