The Hopes Unfulfilled

Four years ago my heart broke on Father’s Day. Having a parent deliberately cut ties with you is crushing, but when it’s your dad making that choice on Father’s Day of all days… There are some wounds that I’m not sure ever completely heal this side of Heaven, and this may be one of them.

Time is funny. In this case, four years feels like an entire lifetime. These past four years have been filled with some of the hardest battles of my life. I’ve faced difficult truths, made hard decisions, and seen parts of my past with more clarity than ever before. All of those are good things, but hard-won. I heard someone say once, “Feelings buried alive never die.” I’d buried a staggering number of them, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath of years of unhealthy coping mechanisms. It takes time—maybe the rest of my life.

It’s tempting to hate the people who’ve hurt you. I seem to be particularly prone to this sin, and I have to keep taking it back to the cross. In this situation, God has given me a rather interesting thing to combat the hate I’m tempted to harbor: science fiction.

Nope, I haven’t finally lost it, I promise! I used to watch Star Trek re-runs with my dad on a regular basis. Saturday nights were the nights when we gathered in the living room to watch Doctor Who on the local PBS station. I loved those shows as much as my dad. Memories of sitting on the couch with him and watching Star Trek are one of the good memories that I still count as precious.

It wasn’t only science fiction TV though. My dad let me read his Flying and Air and Space magazines. We watched documentaries on aviation and spaceflight together. He bought me the telescope that I still use to gaze at the stars and dream. He’s one of the few people who never insinuated that it was strange for a girl to love airplanes, spacecraft, and astronomy. He’s the reason I had subscriptions to Astronomy and Aviation History in high school. When Aaron took me to the Air and Space museum on our honeymoon, I was in awe of the famous aircraft because my dad told me about them and the stories behind them when I was a kid.

I love all of those things, and I write science fiction today because of my dad. For all of the hard that came out of that relationship, this is one thing that came out of it that I will never, never regret. It’s a part of who I am that is meaningful to me, and it’s something that my dad encouraged, even when people said, “But you’re a girl!” I will always be grateful to my dad for the gift of science fiction, and for being one of the few people in my growing up years who understood just how much the sky and the stars called to me. Because of how much these things mean to me, and because of how much of it I owe to my dad, I can’t completely hate him. I hate some of the things he did to me, to my sister, and to our mom. And yet… I am thankful for the gift of science fiction that he gave me.

Officially, I write science fiction because I love the stars, and I love the genre that allows us to explore deep and complicated things in a way that makes them seem less scary and threatening. Science fiction is an amazing genre with the potential to impact people in a very personal way. Unofficially, I write science fiction because it redeems part of a childhood made up of scary and difficult things. No writer exists who doesn’t owe thanks to the people who have made it possible for them to be a writer. I’ve got my own very long list of people who have encouraged, inspired, and taught me along the way. My dad’s on that list too because he sparked the interest in so many of the things that have made me a science fiction writer.

I think the hardest thing about healing for me has been trying to reconcile the good and bad in the relationship. Nothing turned out the way I expected when I was younger. In some ways that’s a very good thing, but in other ways it’s so very hard. Letting go of what I thought would be is not easy, and it’s weird to grieve the loss of someone still living. I always hoped for that movie moment like at the end of Star Trek IV where Sarek and Spock reconcile at least some of their differences. I wanted that moment, and I really believed that if I could be something enough, I’d get it. Reality doesn’t always work out so well as in the movies, and I had to make peace with the truth of that. Recently though, a quote from Tolkien that I always associated with my mom seems like it might apply to my dad too.

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether on this side of eternity or the next, God may yet have a miracle in store. For now, there’s something very dear to me in my life because of my dad. In the end, maybe God redeems more things than I ever dreamed He could.

Is Routine Maintenance Really Necessary?

Self-care is a trending thing. Just check Instagram. There’s something of a counter to that in the soul-care trend going around in certain Christian circles. In any case, there are widely varying opinions on the whole idea.

I look at it like car maintenance. I’ve gotta change the oil routinely or my engine will eventually be toast. Getting a new set of tires is an expensive must-do, but I’m not going very far on treadless tires. If I don’t replace worn out breaks, I’m not going to be able to stop when I need to. Windshield wipers don’t last forever, and I have to buy new ones from time to time if I want to see well enough to drive safely in bad weather.

It’s not just our cars either. Homes need maintaining. Businesses need tending. Everything in life requires some kind of upkeep, including you.

The Christian response to the self-care craze has been to dub it soul-care and shroud it in spirituality. Part of caring for yourself does include caring for your soul, but we’re not just our soul. To disregard physical and mental health in favor of focusing only on the soul skates a bit too close to Gnosticism for my comfort.

Self care gets something of a bad rap because the stuff that gets tagged on social media tends to be things like manicures, expensive coffee, new clothes, and the like. The reason behind that is because a photo of a multivitamin, or someone having their teeth cleaned isn’t quite as aesthetic! There are definitely days when taking care of myself means getting out the good tea and brewing a cup to get me through a particularly long afternoon. (Sometimes it even includes breaking out the chocolate stash.) Self care is buying and armful of greek yogurt at the grocery store because it’s the only way I can consistently make sure I eat breakfast. It’s keeping a bottle of vitamins on my desk so I don’t forget to take one in the morning. It’s making time to read and learn new things to exercise my mind. It’s journaling my prayers to grow spiritually and keep my mental health in a good place. It’s doing stretches and sitting on a yoga ball to keep my back, joints, and muscles working better. It’s clearing off my desk on Friday so that I don’t forget to do important things. At it’s core, self care is stewarding the body, mind, and soul that you’ve been given to the best of your abilities.

How many times have you heard of someone who neglected their own health until it deteriorated to the point where they have no choice but to make changes? It absolutely happens. I’ve landed myself in the ER because I didn’t pay enough attention to my health. I know of women who’ve done the same thing and ended up with something far worse than an inconvenient ER visit. There’s nothing holy or spiritual about neglecting ourselves to the point of harm.

Instead of denouncing self-care as inherently selfish, or trying to spiritualize it by calling it soul-care, maybe we can focus on modeling a healthy level of taking care of ourselves for our kids. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our daughters never had to feel guilty about doing the things they need to do to stay healthy in every way?

A Thread of Grace

I want to chicken out. I’m berating myself for telling anyone that I was writing a memoir for NaNoWriMo this year because now I can’t chicken out. That’s why I told people, because I knew that my stubborn streak would kick in no matter how badly I wanted to bail if other folks knew my goal.

I’ve read and heard the suggestion in more than one place. Write out the story of the abuse to help you deal with it and heal the old hurts. Writing is how I process. But writing makes it real. If I don’t write it down, maybe I can pack it away into boxes and pretend that since it was in the past it doesn’t have anything to do with my present. The only thing that strategy has gotten me is a pile of health problems and a heart in turmoil over things that I never faced head on. Life throws enough at us without dragging around a bunch of junk from the past because you never bother to sort through it and let the stuff that you don’t need anymore go.

The times when I’ve written little bits and pieces of my story have done more than just allowed me to face the things I’d rather not. In the writing, I start to see the lesson, the miracles, and somewhere along the way, that piece of my past doesn’t seem to hurt me quite as badly as it used to. Some days I wish I was an artist or a musician who could translate all of it into a painting or music. I feel like those mediums can express deep feelings better than mere words. Words are my medium though, and so I pick up the pen or sit at the keyboard. I think it was Steve Saint who said, “God doesn’t waste hurts.” I hope that’s true. Humans are always searching for the meaning in life, and if there’s some meaning, some purpose to the hurts, then maybe it’s easier to make peace with them. I’ve seen God bring beautiful things out of terrible circumstances. There’s something about knowing that a struggle is not in vain that gives us strength and hope. I find myself in need of both at the moment.

And so I’ll write.

I’ll write a story that I desperately wish was fiction. A story not meant to be read by others or published anywhere. Somewhere in that story, I’ll find a thread of grace that runs through the whole tapestry – the handiwork of God in my life. Maybe there’s a reason after all.

I know that I’m not the only one walking around with a bunch of junk from the past. I couldn’t avoid it forever, and neither can you. But if I can decide to deal with it, then so can you. (Really, I’m the biggest chicken in the world, and if I can be brave enough to do this, then you definitely can!) Whatever medium lets you express and process all of the overwhelming feelings you have about what happened, use it. Find that thread of grace in it all, and you’ll find God’s fingerprints all over your life, even in the hard places.

Never Unwanted

A few nights ago, I was settled on the couch knitting and watching some of the videos from the American History course that Munchkin will be taking in high school this year. In one of the first video lectures, the teacher said something that stuck with me. He said that God didn’t create us because He needs us, but simply because He wanted to. I paused the video, walked into the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, and pondered this.

I’ve spent the better part of my lifetime trying to make up for not being wanted by making sure that I was needed. That burden of not being wanted always colored how I thought God viewed me too. It’s an awful thing for a child to feel like they have to justify their existence, and when you carry that into your faith, you wind up with a works-based view of salvation. Sure, it’s by Jesus’ sacrifice that your sins can be forgiven, but you still have to prove that you can be good enough to warrant that redemption. You never can. I know this now, and I know that my salvation is not contingent upon me “earning” it.

And yet… there’s still that spot in the back of my mind that can’t quite shake the label “unwanted”.

I put plates in my cupboard and hung mugs on cup hooks. I wondered if there was something to what that history teacher said. Dare I hope that God created me simply because He wanted to? Wanted me?

It’s hard to put into words the deep sense of shame attached to being unwanted by a parent. There’s something about that label that just sticks to you like crazy glue, no matter how much you try to scrub it away. Always thinking that maybe, if you can scrub hard enough, be good enough, and prove that you’re worth loving, then you will be wanted. It doesn’t matter how much you try, how hard you work, or how long you wait, it’s just not enough. You’re not enough. Even if you can get past that a bit and understand that you can’t possibly earn your redemption, there’s still that label, stuck to you, convincing you that God only tolerates you. He couldn’t truly want you. If your earthly father didn’t, then why would your Heavenly Father? The lie that comes with that label is a powerful one. Perhaps it can be countered with a more powerful truth:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 ESV

The fingerprint of the Divine on each of us, even me. Not a mistake needing to be fixed, but rather an image-bearer of the Creator. Not lesser, and certainly not unwanted. Redeemed and refined because I am already valued.

Despite the scars left by labels and lies, the truth soothes old wounds. I was never truly unwanted after all…

From Hidden to Healing

My past is a mixed-bag of good and bad memories. Sort of an odd patchwork quilt of a childhood. I had some wonderful, truly remarkable people in my life. And while no one is completely bad, there were still people who did damage. There are reasons why I don’t trust easily, and why I still can’t believe I’m worth a second glance. There are points in my life that haunt me to this day. Painful moments that I relive more often than I care to. How can something from decades ago still steal the breath right out of your lungs, make your heart race, and twist your stomach in knots? It sounds crazy, and some days I feel crazy.

I feel guilty too. So many people have been through so much worse than I can even imagine. And I wonder, “What right have I to be broken by things that are far less than what others have survived?” Maybe comparing our pain to others is just a way to avoid dealing with it. Healing doesn’t take place when you’re too busy deciding who’s wounds are deep enough to warrant care. Even the smallest scratch can become infected if it’s left untended.

Some of the old wounds have lost most of the sting. Scars may still ache from time to time, but scars are wounds that have healed. It’s the ones that never healed that cause the most problems. The ones that I ignored, glossed over, and pretended that they hadn’t caused any real harm. When I could ignore them no longer, I discovered something else hiding under the surface: bitterness. That surprised me at first. I knew that there were still things that hurt, and I knew that I was angry about some of them, but I didn’t know that bitterness had infected those wounds. The Lord and I have had a number of conversations on this topic lately. I can’t excise the bitterness rooted in my heart on my own. Truthfully? I don’t exactly want to let go of it. That’s the hardest thing to admit, because none of us like to come face to face with the darkness lurking in our own soul. As much as I’d like to hang onto that bitterness though, that’s not what I’ve been called to.

“Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.” Hebrews 12:15 HCSB

And so I pray.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner. Forgive me for letting this sin take root. Cleanse my heart of this bitterness, so that I may be healed.

Infected wounds can’t heal, and those haunting, painful memories can’t begin to lose their sting until the bitterness is gone too. It’s a work in progress. One that will take a lot of praying, a lot of hard journaling, and a lot of scripture. By the grace of God, and through the blood of Jesus, the sin I harbor in my heart may be forgiven. And yet, the grace of God is so great, that His grace doesn’t allow me to remain lost in my sin. Rather, God in His grace will change my heart, renew it, and free me from carrying that sin around. There is so much hope in that realization. By grace, there is hope for all of us, even me.

“Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” Hebrews 12:12-13 HCSB

#wedonotgiveup

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” – Steve Jobs

2017 threw a few bricks at my head. Some days, it felt like more than just a few. The craziest thing is that from all outward appearances, it was a great year. A lot of wonderful things happened, but the bricks that got chucked at me were the “our battle is not against flesh and blood” sort. (Ephesians 6:12 HCSB) Only that kind of battle can devastate when everything else in life is better than ever. Honestly, it’s the hardest kind of battle to fight, and often the loneliest.

When things from the past that you’ve tried to forget come rushing back in, the panic attacks return. When the fear, humiliation, and helplessness from the memories takes your breath away, the anxiety shows back up with it. When you question your sanity and your salvation because good Christians aren’t supposed to feel like this, the depression creeps back in with a vengeance that you haven’t seen in years. When it got that bad, there were days when only two things pulled me out of bed and kept me going:

  • My kids still need their mom.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16 HSCB “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.”

We do not give up.

Words lifted right out of scripture became my mantra, my saving grace. When I couldn’t even string together a prayer because the darkness was so deep, I would whisper, “We do not give up.” Somewhere along the way, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief,” was added to my whispered prayers. (Mark 9:24 KJV) It didn’t matter how many nice-sounding Christian platitudes I repeated, the only thing that helped even a little was praying the scriptures. It wasn’t instant, and I’m still not completely out of the dark yet, but bit by bit, those prayed verses were enough. The grace of God, poured out through His Word.

I don’t have easy answers. There’s no magic pill to fix everything broken in us. I wish there were, desperately so. And yet, there’s grace. There’s the kind of grace that takes five words, “We do not give up,” and puts power behind them. The power behind them isn’t in me though, I don’t have that kind of strength, but God does. Those five words are from His Word, and they serve the dual purpose of reminding me not to give up and of becoming a plea for the strength not to give up. When I had nothing in me to rely on, “grace abounded much more”. (Romans 5:20 Geneva Bible)

I started 2017 with lofty goals. Then life threw bricks at my head. Turns out that I needed to dodge a few bricks, and get whacked with a couple of them in order to be ready for my 2018 goals. Those bricks, and the grace that was poured out on me because of them, put things in perspective. My prayers this year were lifted out of scripture, and so are the three words that I want to sum up 2018:

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Faith. Hope. Love.

I’ll blog more about that later, so stay tuned!

I know that the holidays can sometimes be really, really hard. If it gets so hard, that you can’t even figure out how to pray, then please look to the scriptures. Sometimes, praying God’s Word is exactly the kind of prayer that you need.

#wedonotgiveup

Hard Goodbyes

“Time heals all wounds.”

Who hasn’t heard that one a time or two? I get the sentiment behind it, but it’s clumsily put, implying that a healed wound is like the injury had never happened at all. Perhaps it would be better to say, “Time helps you get used to the scars from your wounds.” Admittedly, that’s much less pity and a bit too long for a fortune cookie! I think it’s more accurate, and so I’ll stick with the latter sentiment myself.

The thing about deep wounds, is that they leave scars when they heal. Scars are funny things. Move just right and you’ll feel the pull on the scarred tissue that just won’t stretch quite as well as the undamaged area. Scars themselves tend to be quite sensitive, and while that lessens over the course of time, there may be days, years later, when even the feel of clothing against the scar irritates and inflames it. Changes in seasons and weather patterns can make old scars act up again, reminding us of how deep those long “healed” wounds once went, and the damage that was done.

Time has allowed me to become used to the fact that my mom is no longer here. Most days, I can talk about her, remember the good memories and be fine. Then there are days like today, nearly nine years later, when all I can think is, “I want my mom.” I want to sit down at her dining room table with a mug of the tea she kept in the cupboard for me because it was my favorite. I want to hear her laugh again. I want her to tell me that everything is going to be OK. I just want to hear her tell me, “I love you, kiddo,” one more time. I know that it’s not possible, and most days that’s alright. Today though… today it really doesn’t feel alright.

Part of me says that I’m being foolish. After all, it’s been almost nine years! Surely that’s more than enough time for me to “get over it”. I’ve had elderly women tell me with tears in their eyes that they still miss their moms dearly, and that no amount of time will change that. I suppose that it is a little bit encouraging that I’m not the only one still missing my mom after several years have passed. At this point though, you sort of feel like you need to push all of those feeling aside and get on with your day. In the period immediately following Mom’s death, no one would have thought twice if I’d cried and said, “I’m just missing her a lot right now.” Nine years later? It’s a different story. I have work to do. I have kids to take care of. I have a house and dog to tend to. Taking time to let the tears fall seems like a silly luxury that I can’t afford today.

Sharing the struggle with someone is problematic because you don’t know how they will react to your admission that it still hurts and you still dearly miss your loved one. There are some people who would understand, typically the ones who’ve also suffered a deep loss. A number of people would be confused about what the problem was because they haven’t been through that kind of loss yet, but they are sympathetic and kind at least. Some people roll their eyes and mentally label you a “drama queen”. There are even a few people who would take it upon themselves to be “helpful” and impatiently tell you to get over it like everyone else has, or worse, like they have, implying that they are better and stronger than you are.

I think that maybe Winnie the Pooh was onto something when he said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” How much we miss someone is tied closely to how much love and closeness there was in the relationship. The fact that I can still have a day, years later, when I miss Mom this much, means that there was a lot of good there. I had something that makes saying goodbye really hard. Maybe the fact that it’s still hard from time to time, isn’t something to be ashamed of, but rather something to be thankful for. Maybe it’s not just OK that I still struggle with grieving the loss, maybe it’s actually a good thing. We don’t grieve all losses this deeply, just the loss of people who impacted us deeply for the better. The kind of people who made us who we are, and loved us through everything. The kind of people like Mom.

Whether you lost that person recently, and the grief is still fresh, or whether it’s been years and this is just one of the days when that scar is particularly sensitive, it’s OK to still miss them. You don’t have to get to the point where you don’t miss them at all, and neither would you want to. It feels very lonely sometimes, the hard goodbyes, but we need not walk through it alone. Isaiah 41:13 is my reminder that I am not alone, “For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you.” In the middle of struggling to hold back the tears, God is beside me, holding my hand and reminding me that He will help me. That’s the most comforting thought of all.

Hope in the Middle of the Mess…

Some weeks…

Some weeks are not for the faint of heart. Juggling work, four kiddos sick with a stomach bug, end of year homeschool reports, and trying to get something productive done around the house will challenge the sanity of most parents. The problem is, I’m one of the faint hearted. I don’t have my own life figured out, not by a long shot. I definitely haven’t gotten this motherhood gig as well in hand as I’d like to pretend that I do.

And then there are the facebook posts, the articles shared… The ones that firmly declare that “messy” and “authentic” are cop-outs. That anyone admitting to how much they don’t have a pinterest-perfect life is just making excuses for laziness and sin. They can be excuses, I’ll freely admit it. Human beings will do some crazy mental gymnastics in an attempt justify anything they like! Maybe Christians weren’t called to chaos, but there are days when it seems that God has dropped me into some pretty chaotic circumstances. I’d love to say that I handle it all with grace, that I perfectly balance everything on my plate Proverbs 31 style. The truth is, I’m still a work in progress, and sometimes I just need to know that I’m not the only one out there who isn’t doing this perfectly.

That being said, simply being transparent and sharing our struggles and failures isn’t enough. Sure, it helps to know that I’m not alone in this imperfect life of mine, but what I really need is some hope. I need the second half of the story.

The blunt truth is that I can’t do this in my own strength. I’ll never be the perfect woman, wife, mom, or anything else. Not this side of Heaven anyway. I need someone to remind me of the verse on the sticky note that I have stuck to my monitor:

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16 HCSB

When I was cleaning what felt like an endless stream of sick buckets, brewing another cup of coffee, and trying to get a little work done in the brief moments when sick kids slept, I kept repeating to myself: We do not give up. Maybe sometimes running the race just means rubbing a sick kid’s back and handing out ice pops. Maybe the best prayer you can come up with in the middle of it is just, “Lord, please give me Your strength, because I’m all out.”

We need to know that we’re not the only ones, but we also need to know that God can and will give us the grace and strength that we don’t have on our own. He’s not done with me, and he’s not done with you either. We need to be authentic without using that as an excuse for staying where we are. We’re being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and it’s not us that’s doing the transforming and renewing, it’s God at work in us. God taking our sin, mess, and brokenness, and redeeming it through the blood of Jesus. God loves us in the middle of our mess, but He also loves us too much to leave us there in the mess. (“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2 HSCB)

When you don’t have the strength, wisdom, or grace, (and none of us do!) remember that we rely on the strength, wisdom, and grace of God. God started the work of redemption in you when you trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus to cover the guilt of your sin. Someday that work will be finished, but until then, don’t give up. Keep running the race, and keep your eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 HCSB

2017 – My Year to Live

2016 was my year of “Story”. A year ago, I had no idea exactly what that would look like! Turns out that I wrote about some pretty hard things, and I wrote about grace. In November, I wrote the first draft of a novel. This is the year that I really started telling some of my stories. The ones that are hard to tell sometimes. Behind all of the writing, there was a lot of pondering, soul-searching, letting go, and healing. It’s been a process, and though it’s not completely over yet, I feel like I can breathe. I spent so many years with this horrible weight on me that literally made me feel like I couldn’t take a deep breath. It’s only the grace of God that has lifted that burden. I’ve spent three decades just reacting to whatever life threw at me. That brings me to my word for 2017:

I want to spend 2017 learning how to live. I don’t want to just react to life anymore – I want to live it.

What does that mean practically?

Foremost, I have some specific goals about spending time together as a family with Aaron and the kids. I also have plans to start a Morning Time routine with the kids. I want to start off our days together by reading, learning, and having meaningful conversations together. Time slips away awfully fast when you’re raising kids, and I want to be very purposeful about redeeming some of that time!

I have a number of big writing goals for 2017 too! Remember that novel draft I wrote for NaNoWriMo? I’m going to edit, re-write, and publish it. It’s a pretty ambitious goal, but I’m actually looking forward to the challenge. I’ve also got goals for writing another novel and a non-fiction book. I’ll need more paper and fountain pen ink…

NaNoWriMo showed me that when I have a set goal and I’m tracking my progress, I tend to get more done. That’s what prompted me to try out Lara Casey’s Powersheets Workbook this year. That’s where I’m setting my goals, breaking them down, and tracking progress. My Well Planned Gal planners will keep the day-to-day planning and to-do list sorted out for me.

I spent so many years being scared. I never really stepped out in faith and lived life. By God’s grace, I’m ready to live the life He’s given me. I’m not scared of taking that leap anymore, and I can’t tell you what an amazing gift that is…

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” – John 10:9-10

Book Review: Parenting

Note: Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

 

Book Cover of Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your FamilyI’m only half-joking when I claim that I was a better parent before I had kids. For a long time, I was convinced that finding the right method would give me a guaranteed result. Oh if only that were true! I still read plenty of parenting material though, and the title of Paul Tripp’s book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, caught my eye.

Reading Parenting sort of confirmed that which I’ve finally started to understand: I have very little control over the kind of people my kids grow up to be. That seems pretty disheartening on the surface, and I’ll admit that it discouraged me at first too. The more I think about it, and after reading this book, I’m convinced that it’s actually a freeing and hopeful thing. It is a very good thing that the people my kids grow up to be is not completely dependent on me. I still haven’t gotten the whole life, faith, and relationships thing figured out!

Parenting is, as you might expect, broken down into 14 chapters addressing one principle per chapter. The chapters aren’t terribly long, so it’s a pretty easy read in the respect. However, this is the kind of book that you’ll need time to mull over each chapter read. I read through it quickly for review purposes, but I’m already planning to go back and read just one chapter at a time and let it really sink in before moving on to the next. The chapters are titled:

  1. Calling
  2. Grace
  3. Law
  4. Inability
  5. Identity
  6. Process
  7. Lost
  8. Authority
  9. Foolishness
  10. Character
  11. False Gods
  12. Control
  13. Rest
  14. Mercy

Whew! Those are heady topics to cover in just one book, but Parenting does it well. Honestly, what I liked the best about the book, was that it made me uncomfortable. It forced me to take a look at myself and my own sin, my own need for grace, my own failures, and my own lack of character. Ouch. Now I can see why it’s a good thing that the kind of adults my kids become is not solely based on how good of a parent I am. This isn’t a book about how to make my kids behave, but more about how both of us can grow, mature, and draw closer to God.

I don’t typically underline or highlight a book as I’m reading it, but I was tempted to more than once when going through this one! Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the chapter on Grace…

“My children don’t cause me to do and say what I do and say. No, the cause of my actions is found inside my own heart. My children are simply the occasion where my heart reveals itself in words and actions. So I need much more than just rescue and relief from my children; I need rescue from me. This is why Jesus came, to provide us with the rescue that we all need but that we cannot provide for ourselves.”

That quote should give you a taste of how appropriate the “Gospel Principles” part of the title is! This is not a formula for perfect parenting, and let’s be honest, perfect parents don’t exist. It’s a very hopeful book though. In the midst of conviction, there is encouragement too. This would be a great gift for new parents, but I’d highly recommend it to any parents, no matter what age their kids are! This principles will apply to any age range from toddlers on up.

Now, who wants to win a copy? Just leave me a comment and on Sunday, October 30th, I’ll draw a winner!

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.