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If you’re like me, you constantly wonder what more you should be doing for your children. Am I giving them enough of my time? Am I offering enough encouragement in their lives? Am I being a good enough role model?

We all feel like we blow it at times, when it comes to parenting. And there’s always guilt if we’re looking for it –about what we could have done or should now be doing differently. Now that my daughter is an adult, I’ve found the most effective and rewarding things I gave her stemmed from the things I asked God to do in me through prayer.

You and I, as moms, can only do so much for our children. But God can work in their hearts and minds to shape them into the people He wants them to be. And God gives you and me the privilege, as parents, to be a part of that process when we surrender our will to Him and allow Him to mold and shape our character in a way that is best for not only us, but our children, too.

Here are five simple prayers that will make you a better mom:

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What would you say if your child told you that he or she was gay?

Maybe you haven’t experienced that but a friend of yours has.

In her new book, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home, my friend, Author Lori Wildenberg, addresses this topic, among others that our children may present us with.

I asked her to share her wisdom on my blog for you or someone you know who may come face to face with a situation like this.

Here’s Lori’s wisdom (which can also be applied to other areas of a grown child’s behavior or choices):

“My young adult just told me he’s (or she’s) gay. Now what?”

This inquiry used to be a rare one. This past month I have spoken to three different moms seeking answers to this very question.

Broken-hearted, lonely, and confused, they are looking for camaraderie, comfort, and clarity.

Empathy and compassion I have in full supply. I can relate. My daughter is same-sex attracted.

Answers—God has those.

Each family, each child, each parent is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how this is played out in the family.

God is the one to trust with the answers.

Along with my listening ear, I can provide some guidelines when it comes to living with this new reality. The most important thing I tell parents is to love their child. Once the young person has uncovered his secret, he is relieved his secret is out but fears his parents will not love him. Show him that is not true. Let him (or her) know you love him.

So what does love sound like?
Say these 12 vital statements to your child in order to build and maintain a relational bridge.

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Are you a worrier or a warrior?
A worrier is one who tries to fight her own battles of fear, insecurity, and doubt.
A warrior lets God fight those battles through her.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies (like the person who is making your life miserable), but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (like the unseen thoughts, fears and frustrations that cloud your judgment, persuade you to worry, and tempt you to stress out).

Here’s how you can tell if you’re a worrier or a warrior:

A worrier says: “I’m so nervous about this situation. I’ve never done anything like this before.
A warrior says: “God has gone before me into this situation so I have nothing to fear.”

A worrier says: “There’s no hope.”
A warrior says:”My hope is in the Lord…”

A worrier says: “What if something bad happens?”
A warrior says: “God causes all things — even the bad things — to work for good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).

A worrier says: “I’m not strong enough. Surely I will fail.”
A warrior says: “The Lord is my strength” (Psalm 28:7) and “If God is for me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31).

Did you notice the difference? The worrier is looking at the world through her physical eyes. She sees (or doesn’t see) and she fears.

The warrior is looking in the WORD and has God’s  response for every situation she encounters. She sees with her spiritual eyes…from God’s perspective…the perspective of a victor, an over comer, a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

Romans 12:2 tells us “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

To be conformed to this world is to worry like every other person in the world.

To be transformed by the renewing of your mind is to think differently  — as a warrior princes should think, as a warrior who knows where her strength is, where the power is, and to Whom she belongs.

So which one are you? A worrier or a warrior?

If you’re the former, here’s the best news of all:  A worrier can turn into a warrior at any time. Your transformation is just a prayer away:

“God, grant me, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit inwardly so that I can be a woman of faith, not fear….a warrior,  not a worrier” (Ephesians 3:16-17).

Will you join me in the ranks as a warrior?

For more on being a warrior, not a worrier, see my newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom.

I’d love to give you ten minutes of encouragement on how you can be a worry-free mom. And if you don’t have kids, I’m sure it will help you with other areas of your life that you worry about.

I’m posting for you today a quick-moving, 10-minute interview of mine with Rick Probst and Dan Ratcliffe at Faith Talk LIVE Radio. To hear a few secrets and a few amazing stories of what God does for those who trust Him with their worries, click HERE.

And then….leave me a comment — or question — and  you’ll be entered into another drawing for a free copy of my newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom (U.S. residents only, please).

Talk to you soon!

I’ll admit it. I’ve said the words aloud or thought them many times.

And I’m guessing you have, too.

They’re two of the most debilitating words a woman can say, especially when it comes to her children. These two words fill our minds with doubt and our hearts with fear.

They are the words: “What if…?”

What if my children get hurt?

What if they don’t make friends?

What if they follow the wrong crowd?

What if they’re lying to me?

What if they never get married?

And even: What if I’m not a good enough mom?

I realized one day, after spending time in God’s Word, that at the root of all my “What if” questions and worry is what I really believe about God’s character. When my mind plays through the various what ifs, the question I’m really asking is “What if God isn’t able?” “What if God isn’t good?” “What if God can’t handle this?”

There’s a reason God’s Word tells me “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).

As I give God all of my what ifs, worries, and anxieties, He can calm my heart and remind me that He is in absolute control.

That was the lesson I had to learn myself before I wrote my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. Based on my own experience mothering – as well as wisdom and advice from many other moms – I found that there are treasures (secrets, if you will) to discover as we surrender to God what is closest to our hearts – our children.

One of those treasures is the incredible peace He offers as the Perfect Parent who allows us to partner with Him in raising, loving, and caring (not worrying) for our kids.

When I give God what is closest to my heart I am saying “You, God, are capable. You are trustworthy. And all my worries and what ifs are in vain.”

What are you saying – to God and to others – when you worry? And what would you like to start saying with your life and your actions from this point on?

I’m giving away three free copies of my brand new book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom For a chance to win, let me know in the comment section below why you would benefit from reading this book. Winners will be announced on next week’s blog. (U.S. residents or American Post Office boxes only please.)

Would you like to be a happier mom?

How you can become a happier momI’ve asked my friend, Arlene Pellicane, to give you some insights from her wonderful new book, 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom.  Read on and comment at the end of the post for a chance to win her great new resource for any mom.

Arlene says:

Would you like to be a happier mom? Try this.

When I asked moms what made them unhappy, I got answers like:

“I hate it when I have to repeat myself again and again.”

“I’m constantly yelling at my kids about their ‘forgotten’ chores.”

“My kids don’t do what I ask. They make excuses and argue with me about things they’re supposed to do every day.”

I can certainly relate to these frustrations. My husband James and I were harping on our three kids constantly: “Hang your backpack in the closet.” “Put your dish in the sink.” “Please help set the table.” He was tired of the constant nagging about basic household duties and he began to brainstorm about the solution. Lean in moms. The crazy plan James came up with worked like a charm and it all began with a dollar.

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Moms Raising Sons to Be Men-updatedDo you ever feel like you’re losing your son?

Here is a question I received recently in my ongoing blog series on “Questions Women Ask”:

“My only child got married a year ago and I never see him anymore. I know they’re busy with their new life but they do get together with his wife’s parents. My son and I were extremely close and I knew it would change and thought I was prepared for it. I thought once he married he and his wife would still come every couple of weeks for a meal like they used to or that he’d call, but he never does. I wonder if his wife has influenced him because they talk often with her parents. My heart is breaking.”

I asked my friend, Rhonda Stoppe, author of Moms Raising Sons to Be Men, to offer some advice for this hurting mom and others who may be going through something similar. Rhonda has raised two sons into manhood and understands the heart of the mom of a son.

Rhonda says:

A daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life, a son is a son til he takes a wife.” We’ve all heard this familiar poem, and yet when mothers of sons are faced with the reality that they are no longer the apple of their son’s eye the experience can be bitter sweet.”

Rhonda encourages moms who feel neglected by their sons to “keep a pure heart before the Lord as you work through your disappointment — so your prayers for your son and daughter-in-law can be effective (James 5:16).

“I would also remind you that it is God who works in us to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Pray for God to work in your son and daughter-in-law to love you and be sensitive to your need to have a closer relationship with them…and then WAIT upon the Lord to do the work in their hearts as they adjust to being newlyweds and the excitement of their new lives together.

“Finally, I would caution you to not be jealous, envious, or bitter against your son’s wife or her parents because the root of bitterness can cause exactly the opposite result in your relationship with your son. If we, as moms, try to manipulate or guilt our sons into spending more time with us and they feel they are being forced to “choose” between their mother and their wife they will choose their wives.”

Rhonda says when her sons got married she encouraged them not to call her on the phone after they got home from work after being away from their wives all day, but asked them to once in a while call her on their way home from work so they could visit a bit.”

Finally, Rhonda says, “Remember, men use half the amount of words in a day than women do so often our sons just don’t have enough words left in them after a day of working and then visiting with their wives. (My sons are much better at texting than talking with me and I am HAPPY to have that form of communication and know they still have enough words left to have meaningful conversations with their wives…)”

For more encouragement and practical advice, see Rhonda’s book, Moms Raising Sons to Be Men.

How have you dealt with your son “leaving and cleaving to his wife”? My readers and I would love to hear your experience or advice in the comment section below.

Do you ever feel intimidated as a parent? If so you’re not alone.

I’m now a featured blogger at First Corinthians 13 Parenting and this morning  I’m offering some comfort and encouragement for those days you feel intimidated and not quite up to the task. For me, it started when my daughter was a teenager.

So, hop on over to the First Corinthians 13 Parenting blog this morning and find some comfort and encouragement meant just for you.

And please let me know what you think of my new friends over there. I KNOW you’ll find something on their site to minister to your heart today.

Read more about “When Parenting Looks Intimidating” HERE.

littlekidsbookWhat are you and I  teaching our children about how to develop healthy and lasting relationships?

I asked my friend, Lori Wildenberg  of FirstCorinthians13Parenting  to share on my blog how we can help our children have healthy relationships and a lasting marriage someday. This is her advice:

Parents set the stage for how their children view marriage and family life.

As our kids grow, we want them to develop healthy and lasting relationships. Most of us hope to be in-laws and grandparents someday. We pray for our kids’ future mates.

If you asked me if I wanted to positively impact my child’s future relationships, my answer would be YES! I’m guessing yours would be too. That’s easy. But how am I really doing on a day-to-day basis? What subtle messages am I delivering to my children about family life and marriage?

 I’ll be the first to admit, my nonverbal or verbal communication can be negative, even nasty at times.

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My daughter, Dana, turned 22 recently. DanaDisneyCollegeShe’s at the beginning of a life journey that I am more than half-way through. She has so much of life ahead of her. So many great adventures to still experience.

I started thinking today about what I wish I knew when I was a  young 22-year-old.  And I realized it isn’t too late for you and me to apply Moses’ instruction in Psalm 90:12 to “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” 

These are the 10 things I wish I knew at age 22 (and the 10 things I want my daughter to know now so she can live wisely and well):

1. People will come and go in our lives, but the One who loves us most will never leave. Therefore, His opinion matters more than anyone else’s.

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Are  you tired of living on a battlefield? Does it seem like every time you turn around there’s an argument brewing?

As I was writing my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I included some practical ways we can choose our battles wisely and also diffuse some battles so we’re not constantly in a warzone with our children. But I realized recently, that these peace-making principles can apply to ANY relationship. That’s probably because our battles can be intensified or diffused altogether based on how we — as wives, moms, and girlfriends — choose to react.

Whether you’re going head-to-head with your teenager, your husband, a friend, or a difficult family member, these steps can help you bring calm to an otherwise chaotic situation:

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I remember the days when I felt completely worthless as a mom.Momfacebookad

It was during my daughter’s teenage years when I was still trying to figure out how to instill healthy values in her, how to not escalate an argument with her by how I responded, and how to not be a legalist when it came to her preferences that were different than mine.

So many times I found myself apologizing to her with the words “I’m still trying to figure this out. I’ve never been a mom to a teenager before.”

I’m such a loser, I would tell myself. Oh, how I wish I knew back then what I know now:

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Last week we looked at the first two (of five)  things a mom never needs to worry about:  her child’s friendships, and her child’s future spouse.

worry1Today, I want to look at the other three things a mom never needs to worry about:

3. Your Child’s Choices – God was the perfect parent, but Adam and Eve still sinned. So even when you are doing all you can to guide your children spiritually, they will still make choices of their own. At times those choices won’t be the best ones. But that’s how they learn and grow through their mistakes. And that’s when we trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

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It happened. My daughter, a recent college graduate,  moved in to her apartment an hour away from home and started her first career job.

DanaDisneyCollegeMy, how time flies. My, how God provided. And, oh my, how many of my worries throughout her life were unnecessary — and still are.

Dana, now 21, hates when I worry. Not only because she’s now an adult and has to keep reminding me that she’s perfectly capable of doing things on her own. But also because she doesn’t want to have to worry about me worrying.

And I’m pretty sure God hates my worrying, too.

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Are you raising a child in a spiritually mismatched marriage? My friend, Lynn Donovan,  shares some powerful encouragement as my guest blogger this week:

A deer in the headlights.

Train Up a ChildI’m sure that’s what my face looked like as I stared across the breakfast table at my husband who finished our conversation by stating flatly, “Our daughter will be attending public school.” His intense reply to my suggestion of a faith-based education caught me off guard, and that was the moment I began to fear my husband’s agnostic beliefs might impact my daughter’s faith walk.

That moment was years ago, and I’ve been raising my daughter ever since in a spiritually mismatched home. And I’m not alone. There are many of us who are living to honor our Lord and our spouse in our marriage. Right behind our prayers and concerns for our husband’s salvation, we fret and worry about our children’s faith. A lot!

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Do you ever feel desperate when it comes to parenting? mominspiresbooksigning2

Rhonda and I know how you feel.

We each have had our moments when we’ve had to cry out to God for His wisdom, grace, and the ability to see it through.

I recently shared the stage with my friend, Author Rhonda Stoppe,  for a  book-signing talk and dessert for our newest releases — her book, Moms Raising Sons to be Men — and mine, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter.

In our time together, Rhonda shared that, as a young mother,  she was desperate to find someone — anyone — to teach her to be the mom she wanted to be.

“I cried out, ‘I NEED HELP, LORD!!'” Rhonda said. Maybe you can identify with her struggle.

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At the conclusion of nearly every radio interview I’ve done thus far on the topic of my newest book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I am asked this question: What about the Mom who feels like she’s done a lousy job?

feeling-like-a-failureWe all feel like we’ve blown it at times — as moms, as wives, as daughters, as employees, as friends. In fact, I believe nearly all of us carry guilt on our  shoulders in some area of life, feeling that we have failed to measure up to others’ standards…or our own.

I will be the first to tell you that I’ve failed more times than I’d like to count. In fact, my latest book lists more of my failures as a mom than my victories.  That’s because we can learn through our mistakes. We can be shaped by our mistakes. And we can become more humble and extend more grace toward others when we are able to recognize the areas in which we have needed God’s grace, wisdom and correction.

If you are feeling that you are not measuring up, wherever you are in life, let me assure you with this:

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Some children come out of the womb, it seems, with big plans of what they want to accomplish with their lives. For most, however, it can be a mystery — a secret worth pulling out of them.

momgirlThat’s where you and I, as parents come in. You may have one child who’s a dreamer — — she knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. Yet, the other may take a while to develop creative abilities or academic interests. But by watching, and praying for wisdom to help cultivate that dream God has placed on their hearts, we can be there to be the wind beneath their wings when it’s time for them to fly.

In my newest book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I outline six steps to encourage your daughter to discover and pursue her dream (and I believe these steps can apply to our sons, as well):

1. Let Her Explore

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As I surveyed daughters, ages 15-45 for my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter,  I found that, overall, a daughter needs these 7 things from her mom:

1. She Needs to Know She is Your Priority mom-girl clipart

As a 19-year-old college student who has never doubted her mother’s love for her, Annie says: “My mom made me her center. I don’t think that spoiled me. Rather, it made me secure in the fact that she loved me and would do what it took to provide for all I needed.”

Another daughter said: “Not to sound selfish, but I needed my mom to choose me first over a lot of things, to let me know that I was a priority in her life over work and finances.”

2. She Needs to Know She Is Accepted    

A young woman needs to know she is accepted by her mom, no matter how old she is. She needs to feel accepted as she is recognizing her uniqueness, in the ways she feels “odd” or out of place in a crowd, and on the days she feels she doesn’t measure up to others around her.

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    While going through my daughter’s backpack when she was in the second grade, I found a paper on which she had written her spelling words for the week. I was pleased to see an “A” for correct spelling and grammar. But as I read her sentences, I realized whom I had become in her eyes:

“Busy – My mom is always so busy. “time_flies_2

“Time” – My mom never has enough time.”

“Speed – My mom does things with such speed.”

“Garden – My mom used to spend time in the garden.”

My heart sank as I realized two things: The first was that, to my seven-year-old daughter, I was her whole world.  Every sentence was about her mom. She observed me, studied me, wanted to be like me. And the second realization was this:  She saw me as a mom who was rushing through life, not as one who took the time to be with her.

I took a good hard look at my life that evening and realized that isn’t who I wanted to more

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