I’m so not qualified for this.
To be offering a parenting series to you. To be launching Game Plan. But I’m believing in God’s wisdom and His greatness and His strength being magnified again and again in All. Of. My. Weakness.
So, just in case you think I’m kidding and I’m really somehow an expert (HA) on this parenting thing, let me invite you into a little bit of my reality:
My first-born is creative and incredibly intelligent and organized and outgoing and SO friendly and she loves Jesus with passion and certainty and resolve. She is passionate about sharing the love of Christ with the playground and the world. She's absolutely beautiful.
She is also behaviorally challenging to boot.
She has fire in her bones and she tends toward explosion. Consistently, not rarely. And it's been happening (in different forms from stage to stage) since she was eighteen months old. Our younger two are a breeze to guide and instruct and and correct and even just to love on, in comparison. But Ava was born with her hands on her hips. And this little girl is determined.
We’ve read every book we can get our hands on. Sought counseling from multiple professionals. Listened to pastors and watched wise friends with their children. Implemented strategy after strategy and tactic after tactic and prayer after prayer.
And I’ve spent six years wondering if it’s my fault—if I’m a failure. Wondering where we’ve gone wrong—what we’ve missed. Wondering if the explosions will ever cease or if they will continue to escalate.
I’ve been hesitant to share much about this online.
Not because I’m ashamed of putting my parenting out there for all to see, but because I don’t want to expose my precious child’s struggles or cause her any shame. But I think that you need to know that, in the middle of Game Plan being born, this is the battle we’ve been wrestling with and working with all we’ve got to guide little ones through.
Parenting is not the sweet, smooth, "just love them and they'll turn out fine" ride I once imagined it would be.
. . .
It was spring. I sat, listening intently, as David Whiting preached through his six-part parenting series, “Parental Guidance Required.” Can I just say that you NEED to listen to it. It’s all right here online.
As David taught about the need for dialogue with our children and the way to reach to their hearts with the truth of the gospel through questions and relationship, rather than through authoritarianism and lectures, I nearly jumped out of my seat (I do that when I get a new idea).
I knew I needed this for my own parenting, but I also knew that the dream brewing in my heart was bigger than that.
My soul friend Ashley Kirnan surely remember the moment well, because I think I ripped off three layers of skin on her forearm when I grabbed her so enthusiastically to tell her my dream for Game Plan. It was like God just downloaded the whole thing into my brain all at once. At the moment David finished his sermon, I was ready to dart out of church to get started.
I couldn’t wait to get it into all of your hands. So that we could dialogue with our children together and teach them God’s “why” and reach into their hearts with the gospel.
. . .
Yesterday, during some family time outside, Ava had an idea in her head that, to part of it, we had to say, “no.” She began to melt-down. Or maybe melt up. Would that describe it better?
We sent her inside to cool off so we could talk about it together when she was calm. And after some time, when I went inside to meet her, she was peacefully roaming the hallway. Which was…new.
Well, we went through our Game Plan Time-Out Dialogue together and talked about a few verses about being slow to anger and about patience. She asked for forgiveness, accepted an earlier bedtime than her siblings as a consequence, and we moved on.
And the rest of the day ended up being wonderful. No explosions. No defiance. Not even a sibling tiff. And when Ava and I curled up for some time together before bed, she beamed as she said to me,
“Mom, this was the best day ever!”
I was incredulous, curious as to how the conflict from earlier could possibly have been part of the best day ever. So I asked her to tell me more.
“I was walking around inside, praying,” she began, “and I kept asking God, ‘Who am I? Where do I belong? It’s so hard to be myself.”
I was about to open my mouth when she continued,
“And God talked me through it, Mom.”
“He talked you through it? That’s wonderful! What did He say?” I asked.
“He said, ‘You believe in Me. That’s where you belong. That’s enough.’”
Umm…does anyone else feel the earth shaking underneath the feet of this faith-filled six-year-old? If only I could trust God’s voice like that. If only I could simply listen to Him without second-guessing and doubting that it’s really Him.
Does that resonate with you? Do you long for the faith of a child who knows God’s voice because she has absolutely no reason not to? Why do I question Him?
“Ava, what does God’s voice sound like?”
“Oh, Momma. You can’t hear His voice like a normal voice. But you know exactly what He’s saying.” She replied, humbly and matter-of-factly.
Oh. My. Soul.
. . .
I get so caught up in my own stress and frustration in some of the explosions that come out of my first-born that I quickly forget to listen for the cry that is underneath them. I even more quickly get focused on a goal for obedience-in-the-moment instead of my long-term desire of leading them to the cross.
Game Plan reminds me to be constantly reaching for the hearts of my children.
Is my ultimate goal in this parenting journey to produce children with perfectly obedient behavior? No. Because true obedience comes from the heart, not just from behavioral patterns. My goal is to point my children to Jesus.
And on a daily basis, my children point me right back to Him.
And that’s why I’m excited about Game Plan. It helps us to open up dialogue with our children. It offers us accessible truth in the moments we need it most so we can share it with them. It reminds us to reach for their hearts.
I'm not qualified to stand as a parenting expert. Not at all. But Game Plan helps us to remember that we, as parents, are not just the teachers. These little ones—these ones who can so clearly hear God’s voice and feel His presence—have to much to teach to us. I want to be ready to hear.
I don’t want to miss a single one of those moments.