Friday, November 30, 2012

The Myth of the Perfect Parent

Parenting is hard -- especially when our children make mistakes. I'm talking about mistakes like not listening, hurting someone else's feelings, not sharing, hitting, etc.

When things like this happen around my house, I tend to beat myself up and blame myself. Why? Because I feel passionately that it is my job to raise good children. I am so afraid that I am going to mess this up. And there are no second chances here.

Image courtesy of Ambro /
But, I recently gained a new insight on an old story that set me free from those negative thoughts.

It goes a little something like this. There once was the perfect Father, and he had two children, Adam and Eve, who sinned and rejected his ways.

Oh. My. Gosh. Stop the presses! Let me get this straight. God ... who is the perfect Father, had children who sinned?

Yes, I knew that. But I never put it into the context of my parenting.

If the most perfect Father could have children who sinned, how can I expect to have children who never make mistakes? And why am I beating myself up about it when they do mess up?

Wow! What a relief. It's a whole new perspective! Now, this doesn't mean that I will stop trying to raise wonderful human beings, but it means I will no longer expect to be the perfect parent!

Does that resonate with anyone else?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer

One of my favorite sayings is, "Never underestimate the power of prayer." Those words have been proven to be true in my life again and again.

I don't know about you, but I spend a fair amount of time praying every day. I try to pray unceasingly. I say prayers out loud and in my mind, and I also write prayers in my journal.

I thought I was doing just fine in that department until a friend introduced me to an amazing and powerful prayer journal this weekend. It is the 2013 Sacred Intercession Prayer Journal.

I loved the journal from the moment I first saw it. Its cover artwork is beautiful, it's the perfect size (7.5 x 9") for a journal, and its spiral binding makes it very functional for writing in.

While all of that outer beauty is great, the real beauty is on the inside of this journal. What I love most about it is actually a compilation of three things: the ready-to-use prayers, the scriptural prayers and suggestions for a prayer framework.

The ready-to-use prayers for protection, praise and thanks have provided me with inspiration, guidance and enthusiasm about praying, and they feel powerful -- so much more powerful than the words I was using on my own.

The collection of specific scriptural prayers is just awesome. Praying for someone with an addiction? Someone who is pregnant? Someone who needs financial help? Someone with cancer? There are pages and pages of organized scriptural prayers to choose from.

Regarding the prayer framework, I've had my own prayer order that I've used in the past, but the journal's suggestions take what I was doing to the next level. Just to give you an idea, here's what the journal suggests:
  1. Say a prayer of protection and putting on God's armor for the day 
  2. Give praise 
  3. Give thanks 
  4. Ask for forgiveness 
  5. Pray for those in need of God's love, compassion and healing grace 
  6. Say a cleansing prayer that acknowledges you are placing all of these prayers in the hands of Jesus and you trust He will handle them according to His will. 
Those are the three things I love most about the journal, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of its other helpful features, including:
  • Space to journal reflections about your life 
  • Pages to record personal and spiritual goals 
  • Weekly calendar pages to record daily intentions 
  • A section to record answered prayers!
Overall, it's a place to consolidate your prayer life, and it's calendar-based so you can blend your daily life and your prayers all together if you want. I don't know about you, but as a Type-A, organized personality, I say AMEN to that!

If you think a tool like this might help you in your prayer life, check it out at
Julie Rudnick, creator of
Sacred Intercession Journal

On a final note, I would like to share that this journal was created by a woman here in Northern Illinois. Her name is Julie Rudnick, and she is a friend of a friend as I mentioned earlier. Thank you for this awesome creation, Julie! It is really special, and I am praying for it to land in the hands of all who need it! (I'm going to go write that down in my Sacred Intercession Journal now!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Imperfect Progress

I recently finished reading "Unglued -- Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions" by Lysa TerKerst. Fantastic book. 

The writer is hilarious. I love the colorful way she explains things and tells stories. For example, the way she explains what "coming unglued" means is with the expression, "when others bump into my happy." I love that.

She explains that when people bump into our happy, we either stuff, explode or react somewhere in between. People that bump into our happy can be our children, spouses, family members, friends or total strangers.

Most of us do both. For example, I tend to stuff when friends or strangers rub me the wrong way, but when my children are driving me crazy, I might explode. In fact, at the present moment, my kids are grating on my nerves by not leaving me alone while I am trying to write this, so I am stuffing my frustration in order to not explode at them! :)

Neither stuffing or exploding is the desired response, because both responses hurt ourselves and others. Stuffing builds up as baggage, and exploding hurts others while making you feel guilty about coming unglued.

So, the book teaches a few core concepts:

    How to resolve conflict in your important relationships
    How to be honest but kind when offended
    How to respond, when you are triggered, with no regrets by managing your tendencies to stuff, explode or react somewhere in between

The concept of "imperfect progress" comes in when she reminds us that once we start working on better handling our emotions -- whether we are trying not to stuff or not to explode -- we may still make mistakes. I love that. I feel like that is a hand of grace reaching down to us. 

I think sometimes we get overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to change, but this book invites us to at least try, and to accept that we will not be perfect. It's a process. What a relief!

Reading this book showed me that I am not alone in my imperfect progress to better handle my emotions. It also helped me realize I need to give myself grace when I mess up, and I need to extend grace to others when they mess up, too.

Great book for women! I'd highly recommend. We should do a book club on this one!