Silence the Voice Shame

They said he would come after me and they were right. He was waiting outside as I hesitantly emerged from the high school girls’ locker room. I was relieved to see a group of people there. Someone was sure to step in if they saw a seventeen-year-old boy harming a fourteen-year-old girl.

It all started a few days earlier when I said something to a mutual “friend” about a young man’s looks. It was a naïve, but derogatory, comment that my “friend” reported to him. I heard that he was going to confront me about it and put me in my place.

As I took a few steps out of the dark locker room into the brightness of that sunny day, this tough guy greeted me with a full-handed slap across my right cheek. I was totally shocked and in intense pain.  As stunning as the assault was that no one lifted their voice or a finger to help me. I was alone, in pain and publicly humiliated. I heard no one defending me. The only voice I heard was the sinister voice of shame.

The Impact of Shame

The voice of shame tells us that we are something bad. It is different from the guilt that we feel when we do something bad. Shame may accompany guilt for a while and that is normal. But feelings of shame can linger long after an incident is over. Even after we have confessed and turned from our sin, if that was the issue. We can also feel a sense of embarrassment and shame for no apparent reason.

Shame can create an insatiable desire for approval. It provokes us to perform to please others. It keeps us from reporting our abusers. It causes us to fear exposure and rejection. Shame robs us of the joy of forgiveness. It can dominate our thoughts, shutting out the loving voice of the Holy Spirit. Shame has done all this to me, so I know how it operates.

The Story of My Shame

I started to believe that I was not good enough when I was a child. My dad was easily angered and did not allow opinions contrary to his. My four siblings teased me as the baby of the family. My peers criticized my looks, and I was always nearly the last to be chosen when teams were picked. Boys that I liked rejected me. Then that older boy slapped me, and no one stepped in. I could go on.

Early in my life I decided that something must be inherently wrong with me. Maybe you came to the same conclusion about yourself. That was shame talking to us.

Shame did not stop there in my life. After being married for only a few months when I was twenty-one, my new husband decided he was done with marriage, so I was out. Angry and hurt, I then pursued nearly any guy who would bother with me, even virtual strangers.

I know now that shame’s voice is what lured me into that dark place. I had given up on being loved and accepted, so I settled for the fleeting pleasure of being used for a while. I ended up with a stack of shame a mile high and very little hope.

But God graciously met me in that valley of despair. He loved me into his arms where I have found acceptance and comfort throughout the many years since. But shame still screams at me from time to time tempting me to listen to its lies.

Silence the Voice of Shame

A New Identity

A few days after that young man hit me when I was a freshman in high school, my older brother, who was a senior, enlisted a couple of his friends and confronted him about it. He never bothered me again. Knowing my big brother stood up for me helped to dull the sting of my shame.

Jesus is a loving big brother to those who put their faith in him. He stood up for us against shame on the cross and provides a way out of it for good. (Hebrews 2:11-15) But we must lay hold of that deliverance. One of the first steps to doing so is to deny what shame says and believe God instead.

The Bible is full of the good things God says about us. But those encouraging words can be hard to accept when we have listened to the degrading voice of shame all our lives. Sometimes pride can tempt us to hold onto our old familiar, shame-filled identity. We may get some strange pleasure out of feeling sorry for ourselves over the bad things we have experienced.

But if we humble ourselves, let go of the past and choose to believe God’s voice, we will hear about a wonderful, new identity. The identity that he gives us as his loved, honored, and accepted child.

Start to Silence Shame

God changes and heals us by many means: prayer, worship, fellowship and his Word. I believe that the Bible is the most reliable and stable of these. It is a rock that never changes. (Matthew 7:24) Meditating on it teaches us who God is and who we are. It lowers the volume of shame and increases the volume of the love of God.

Here are just a few simple but powerful, biblical truths we can meditate on to begin to silence shame:

  • I am not ashamed. God says he removes the shame of my youth. (Isaiah 54:4)
  • I do not have to hide from others. God invites me to hide in him and be safe. (Psalm 32:7)
  • I am not rejected. God gladly chooses me and loves me. (Colossians 3:12)
  • I am not dirty. God says I am completely clean. (Ephesians 5:26)

Shame is cruel. It belittles us and whispers that we are substandard. It sneers at us and makes us want to hide. Shame has a loud voice, but it does not have the last word.

Unearth the Treasure in Your Trial

This article was originally published at Gospel-Centered Discipleship .

It was a dream come true. The perfect business opportunity came to us shortly after my husband was laid off his job due to company downsizing. We would have to relocate from our life-long home in sunny California to not-so-sunny Michigan, but I was completely on board.

So, we sold our home, packed up a house full of belongings, and headed east with bright-eyed anticipation for a new life. As a homeschooling mom, I was ecstatic because we would be living on five wooded acres. It was perfect for our home-learning lifestyle. We were convinced that the Lord was leading the way for our family. We fully expected not just to survive but to thrive.

However, along with the first bitterly cold winter in the suburbs of Detroit, came the stark reality that this endeavor was not heading in the direction we had planned. Unless the Lord worked a miracle, the whole plan would fail.

The Best Laid Plans . . .

My husband had always dreamed of going into business for himself. He had been in corporate leadership positions before, but never had enough clout to make a difference. He believed that if he had a chance to be a major decision-maker in a company, he could make the organization, and himself, a success.

This exact kind of opportunity presented itself when Christian friends from Michigan approached my husband with a brilliant business concept for a high-tech, nationwide identity verification system. Being the techie he is, my husband was thrilled. The business plan seemed tight. The partners had decades of business experience. The idea was a surefire win, and my husband would be the Chief Operations Officer.

But within six months, the partners’ vital connections in the industry failed. One of the partners reneged on his part of the funding, became combative with the other partners, and then dropped out. Things unraveled almost before they began. This business was going nowhere.

Looking back, we see our mistakes, bad judgment and ambition. We had foolishly put our hope in a set of circumstances, assuming God would bless them. At the time, though, all we saw were hopes dashed and dreams destroyed.

Between investing in the business and living off our savings for a year and a half, we ended up broke. Our marriage suffered. He tried getting another job in Michigan but couldn’t. My ideal home-learning lifestyle on our wooded acres would have to be abandoned. I felt like we were now out in the middle of nowhere, with no way home.

Confused by Contradiction

But through those excruciating days, I learned invaluable lessons that saved my sanity, my marriage, and my faith. All I could see all around me was a devastating loss, but God was clearing the path for far greater gain—a grander concept of who he is, and deeper insight into how he loves.

My biggest challenge was confusion over the apparent contradiction I was witnessing. We believed God directed us to make this huge move, and we obeyed. I thought that meant favorable circumstances and success would follow. Instead, we had financial trouble and marital conflict.

I blamed my husband. He had assured me the gigantic risk we were taking would pay off. I trusted him and followed him across the country to this desolate place. I knew in my mind that God hadn’t forsaken me, but I couldn’t reconcile what I was experiencing with what I expected.

I remember sitting shyly at the county government aid offices, waiting to be interviewed about my application to receive financial assistance. Not a soul in the world knew me there, but still, I wished I had worn a disguise. I was ashamed. But more than anything, I was desperate for help.

Doubting Disciples

I did receive help, including an attitude correction, from a story at the end of the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark. After a long day of ministry beside the sea, Jesus and the disciples set out across the water toward the country of the Gerasenes. Jesus told his friends where to aim the boat and then he laid down to rest.

When a violent windstorm suddenly arose, and water flooded their vessel, the disciples believed their lives were in danger. They woke Jesus, incredulous that he could sleep through such an emergency: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38).

I imagine the disciples thought Jesus had abandoned them. He appeared to be ignoring their peril, after all. They might have questioned why in the world he would bring them out onto the water only to let them be overtaken by the violent waves and die. I could relate.

Painful, confusing circumstances challenge our belief in the imperishability of the love of God. They certainly challenged mine when things did not go our way in Michigan. The business was not taking off as expected and our savings were draining fast. Where did we go wrong?

I thought if we followed the Lord’s leading everything would work out. I was tempted, like the frightened disciples, to question God’s tender care. Despite their doubt, the disciples were treated to an astonishing demonstration of power and authority as Jesus quickly calmed that storm on the Sea of Galilee: “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).

Jesus has all authority to command the wind and the waves. Thunderstorms are at his command. They subside merely at his word. However, I have found that the Lord typically doesn’t deliver us from trouble as speedily as he did that day. When he chooses not to rescue us right away, he has something greater for us right there amidst our storm.

A Life-Raft in the Storm

After Jesus calmed the wind and waves, he asked the disciples two piercing questions: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

These men spent a lot of time with Jesus and witnessed astonishing things. They recently watched him cleanse lepers and heal a paralytic’s body and a man’s withered hand. They heard him stand up to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and cast out demons with authority. Yet they still did not understand who he was, and how much he cared for them.

In my fear and doubt during our rough seas in Michigan, I sensed Jesus asking me the same, probing, doubt-revealing questions about my lack of faith that he asked the disciples. Why are you so afraid, Marie? Have you still no faith?

I searched my Bible for a life preserver of understanding. I started to grasp that “all things working together for good” includes our sins and the sins of others against us (Rom. 8:28). When our decisions lead to our hardship, God promises to turn it around for good! Because of this, we really have no reason to torture ourselves with “what-ifs” when our choices lead to trials. There is no reason to blame others.

Slowly, it ceased to matter what went wrong, or whether we heard God correctly in going to Michigan. I started to comprehend that God’s plan encompasses even our fumbling missteps. Even—and perhaps especially—through our sins, mistakes, and bad decisions, he is transforming us into glorious images of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:15-18; Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21), bringing him pure delight (Luke 12:32; John 15:8-11; Col. 1:19-22). He’s always working for our ultimate good and for his eternal glory (Isa. 48:11; Rom. 8:28-29; 11:36).

Takeaway Treasure

We never did realize the exciting, new life in Michigan we had envisioned. In his mercy, the Lord opened a job opportunity for my husband back home in California, so we moved back and started over. As insufferable as that season seemed, I am grateful for it. My spiritual life and my marriage are both stronger because of what God did in and through me during that time.

That testing forged unwavering faith and godly hope in me. I learned how to trust Jesus in the middle of my storm and ride it out to the end, holding fast to him and his promises (Heb. 10:23). I learned to accept the bumps and tumbles of my life.

Next time the wind and the waves rise in your life, instead of praying for a quick rescue, consider resisting the doubts, the fears, and the desperate desire to escape. Instead, hold fast to God’s promises. Treasure them through the turmoil. Be assured that he is sovereign and he is good.

Jesus Christ is at rest in your boat, and all is well.

If I Could Have a Stepmom Do-Over

What was I thinking?! Just before my twenty-seventh birthday, I married a man with two kids who were fourteen and eleven at the time. I had no clue what I was getting myself into.

But I guess that’s the same with anything, isn’t it? You don’t know what’s in the package until you open it.

Sadly, their mom had died. They needed me. The wonderful man God brought my way had been struggling to work a full-time job while trying to be both mom and dad to his kids.

It’s a common scenario.

I was sure that this marriage was God’s will. I wanted to help with all my heart. So, I did.

The next five years were difficult, frustrating and disappointing.

My good-intentioned aspiration to fill a gaping hole in their family with love, security, normalcy and support fell flat.

I had longed to make a home where these two children could heal from the devastating loss of their mother.

It never worked. They snubbed my affection. They rejected my input and railed against how I wanted our home to be.

They were angry at their father for diverting attention to me. They were uncooperative and secretive.

I became resentful and frustrated when they rejected me and my efforts.

Within five years, both of the kids had moved out.

The older went out on his own the minute he turned eighteen. The younger moved to her grandparents at sixteen when we couldn’t manage her anymore.

I felt defeated, frustrated, and helpless.

In retrospect, I see what I did wrong that added to the trouble in our relationship. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.

Four Things I Would Do Differently

1. Avoid a lot of changes

Personal habits

Both my stepkids’ bedrooms looked like a bomb had hit and everything they owned landed on the floor. Clothes, toys, books, you name it.  It was literally a foot deep all over the rooms!

The obviously didn’t know how to keep a clean room, so I was going to help them.

Trying to make them keep their rooms clean was frustrating for all of us and not at all worth it. They didn’t want to change.

I should have just shut the door so I couldn’t see it and saved a lot of aggravation.

Environment

We moved to a new home in a new town with new schools when we got married. It was to reduce my husband’s hour-long commute and to start fresh like many newlyweds do.

Looking back, it would have been better to stay put to minimize the disruption. They had lost their mom.

Uprooting them from home and school contributed to their loss and grief and possibly added to their difficult behavior.

Let the kids keep the same surroundings, schools and friends, if you can. They need continuity to feel safe.

Favorite Foods

My stepkids were used to eating a lot of frozen food, like frozen fried chicken, which I had never seen!

I came from a home with a mom who was a wonderful, Italian cook. So, of course, I wanted to serve them delicious, homemade, healthy foods and that’s what I did.

Never again did would they have frozen fried chicken.

Several years ago, my stepson’s wife told me that he won’t go near chicken and rice or bananas since he had so much of them as a teenager.

That kind of hurt but it also struck me as odd. I didn’t serve chicken and rice that much…and what is wrong with bananas?!

I think his aversion to those foods are more about his aversion to me and the changes I made as a young stepmom coming into his teenage life, than about the food.

If I had it to do over again, I would have continued to serve them what they were used to on occasion, even the dreaded, frozen fried chicken!

Letting them have some of their old favorites would have contributed to their sense of security and normalcy and it wouldn’t have hurt them to eat junk once in a while.

Time with Dad

I remember my husband taking the kids out for “dad time”, but it wasn’t very regular.

In his view, he had spent a lot of time with them after their mom died, and it was time for him to build his relationship with his new wife. We were newlyweds, after all!

I was all for him spending special alone time with them, but after a while, when they rejected me, I stopped trying so hard to encourage it.

I would do things differently now.

Keeping a strong relationship between dad and kids is vital, even if it means you get less time together as a couple.

If they have a good connection with their dad and feel he is giving them some attention, they won’t resent you as much.

2. Don’t take on too much responsibility for their world

I defaulted to the 50/50 parenting partnership model when I got married. It should have been more like 75% on him and 25% on me with my stepkids.

My husband wanted things to be better and he loved my ideas and wanted them implemented. So, that’s what happened! I took on the renovation of the family.

I was all about keeping things clean, so they had their chores. I wanted them to be healthy, so I cut out the junk food. I wanted them to be respectful, so their disrespect never got a pass.

But it would have made for a happier and more peaceful transition if they continued in the way they were running their lives, at least for a while.  Even though some things made me cringe!

Why? It would have been less disruptive for the kids and I would have avoided some of the confusion and hurt I felt when they rejected my efforts.

No matter how much you want to help, take a back seat for a while. You’ll be better off.

3. Let their dad handle most issues

Even though you are now an authority figure in your stepchildren’s lives, don’t advertise it!

I worked part time when we got married, so I was the parent who was home the most. Therefore, I engaged more with the kids on a daily basis than their dad did.

I tried to handle the school issues, completion of homework and chores, and anything else that came up.

Being on the front lines made me the bad guy a lot. I got loud push-back from one of the kids and quiet, seething resentment from the other.

I could have used the 1950’s cliche, “Wait until your father gets home!” Not as a threat, but to save myself from having to manage everything that adolescents have on their plate.

Plus, I would have dodged the rejection that they threw back.

Let dad be the enforcer, they already love him and have a depth of relationship clout that you don’t.

4. Don’t expect them to love, respect or appreciate you

I assumed that if I put my heart and soul into being a wonderful stepmom, I will be loved, respected and appreciated in return. How could they not love me?!

When my stepkids were grown and with kids of their own, I had heart-to-heart talks with each of them about those turbulent first years.

I apologized for the things I did wrong and it seemed like it was all good after that. I hoped that since we talked it out we could be closer going forward.

I pictured texting, phone calls, involvement in their lives.

But that was not to be. They’re just not interested in being close and you know what? That’s okay.

I hope your stepkids love you and appreciate your crazy, hard work trying to be a positive influence in their lives.

But they might not and, sadly, that’s not something you can change very easily, or at all. Especially if you make mistakes like I did.

We do our best with what we have at the moment. When we know better, we do better.

I’m confident that God knows our intentions and still counts our good efforts. The results are up to him!

Hindsight

Hindsight is 20/20!  I was a young woman with the best intentions, and I gave step-parenting my best shot. It didn’t turn out the way I planned, and even though it was disappointing, I’m okay with it now. I learned a lot about kids and life through that experience.

Remember:

  • Relationships are more important than performance.
  • If you build the relationship, the respect and love will come and then they are more likely to cooperate with you when you instruct them.
  • It’s okay to relax your high standards and just enjoy the journey.
  • Every attempt to love, care for, nurture, guide and support your stepkids still counts. No matter the outcome.

Thanks for visiting my blog! Please share and comment. I’d love to hear from other stepparents about your trials and triumphs.

4 Things Great Moms Do – Lessons from the Life of Mary

My second child was due on Christmas Eve. It made me feel kind of like Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Knowing how big and uncomfortable I would be during the whole month of December, I had all my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving (the first and only time that ever happened!).

After that was out of the way, I had time to ponder what it must have been like for that young girl two thousand years ago. Mary was expecting a child when she wasn’t married.

Scandalous. Miraculous.

Gabriel the archangel announced the coming of her baby, Jesus, and said that Mary was highly favored, blessed, chosen. Different from all the rest.

We only hear a few things about Mary’s life after Jesus was born. But they are enough to give us a glimpse into what kind of mother she became. The unique girl that God chose to be the mother of the Messiah must have some things to teach us about motherhood.

Here are four things that Mary did, and that we can do, to be great moms.

4 Things Great Moms Do

1. Provide a comforting presence in tough times

Your undivided, caring attention is what your children need most when times are tough for them. Put down the phone, stop everything, look into their eyes, give a hug. They need you really present with them, not just in the room.

We know Mary was a comforting presence at the cross when Jesus was dying (John 19:26).

A scene from the movie The Passion of the Christ shows us a couple of things that might also have taken place in Mary’s life as a mom.

In this scene, we watch Jesus carrying the cross down the narrow street in Jerusalem. He was struggling, in agony. Soldiers were trying to move him along with whips and the jeering crowd was yelling insults.

Jesus’ friends had abandoned him, except for a few that looked on sheepishly from a distance. Mary, grief-stricken, stood nearby trying not to watch her son drag himself to an early death.

As he’s straining to take each step, Jesus stumbles under the burden of the heavy cross. In that moment, we see a flashback from Mary’s perspective.

In the memory, Jesus is about two years old. He’s running along a dusty street in Nazareth and suddenly, he stumbles and falls.

A young mother at the time, Mary hurries to his side, like most mothers would. She lifts the crying toddler into her arms and rocks him reassuringly, saying, “I’m here”.

Now it’s Good Friday. Mary watches her grown son stagger and fall to the ground. His body is beaten and battered. He’s exhausted and weak.

Pushing through the chaos of the crowd, Mary rushes to his side, just as she did so many times when he was small. She crouches down next to him to comfort him. Once again, she whispers, “I’m here”.

I could relate to the profound distress Mary would have been feeling. I cried my eyes out the first time I watched that part of the movie! It’s what every loving mother feels when her children are enduring pain.

Even knowing ahead of time that being a mom means experiencing your child’s pain as they do, doesn’t diminish it. Mary was once told clearly and directly that she would suffer along with Jesus.

When she and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to be circumcised at eight days old, a prophet, Simeon had said to her,

“Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many may be revealed”. (Luke 2: 34-35 NASB)

Our first instinct when our children are hurting is to make it all better. However, sometimes we can’t prevent their difficulties, nor should we.

We feel helpless, but it’s through difficulties that our children learn endurance, patience, independence, problem-solving and other valuable character traits that will prepare them for future challenges.

Most importantly, in hard seasons, our kids have the opportunity to trust God for themselves.

Even Jesus, the perfect Son of God, learned obedience through the things that he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

Mary wasn’t supposed to prevent her son’s suffering and death on the cross, but she was there with her comforting presence. Maybe even whispering a quiet, “I’m here”. (John 19:25)

Your children need your warm, comforting presence more than anything when they are struggling and challenged.

2. Hope in God, not in outcomes

Optimism is the expectation of positive life circumstances. For instance, an optimistic person expects to avoid things like life-threatening diseases, serious accidents, etc.

None of us wants to suffer and we especially don’t want our children to suffer. However, life is difficult and bad things happen. That’s why we need hope, not just optimism.

Hope is trust in the fact that the love of God holds fast regardless of our tough situations.

God rules the world with benevolence and is watching carefully to work all things together for the good of those who love him and are his. (Romans 8:28)

If we are simply optimistic, challenges can derail us. If we’re truly hopeful in God’s care and concern no matter the situation, nothing can.

Mary was a hopeful, young girl and trusted God when she heard the fantastic messages about Jesus’ future. Gabriel said,

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1:32-33 NASB)

Did Mary expect that Jesus would reign on a physical throne in Jerusalem? Most of his followers did. What a disappointment for those whose optimistic expectations weren’t met.

From what we can tell, Mary, was not angry at God or let down when Jesus didn’t reign on a physical throne in Jerusalem.

From the very beginning, we read that she trusted God for even the most unbelievable thing – that a virgin could bear a child.

It’s evident that she trusted God for the rest of the story as well, even when things seemed bleak. After Jesus died, he rose again and is reigning on a heavenly throne. Her hope in God’s word and his love was rewarded.

We naturally have positive expectations for great futures for our kids – and we should. However, life doesn’t go the way we desire, how will we respond?

If we hope in God’s love and his good plan, we have a rock-solid foundation. Despite any of the challenges that we and our children will face in life – sickness, accidents, relationship trouble – this foundation will never crumble.

3. Listen and learn

Several years ago, when I was going through a particularly tough time, one of my sons sent me a song called, “Believe Me Now” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

It’s a song that reminds us that we can believe God’s promises no matter what. It was exactly the reminder I needed at that moment. It touched my heart deeply and changed my perspective from fear to faith.

Jesus was Mary’s son, but also her Teacher.

Once when Jesus was teaching a large crowd, someone told him that his mother and brothers were outside trying to get in. Instead of bringing them front and center, Jesus said,

“My mother and brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21)

In our culture that sounds harsh but was it? Maybe Mary had begun to understand that Jesus was born for a mission that was far beyond her family.

He was her savior as well as her son. The Bible tells us that she was a believer in Jesus as Messiah with the rest of the disciples. (Acts 1:14)

Even small children can say and do things that teach us important lessons. If we’ll humble ourselves and listen, God can use them to give us encouragement, insight and comfort.

Our children might even grow up to be people who change the world with their unique gifting and calling. We can be the first in line to benefit from all they will offer.

4. Let go a little at a time

The moment your child is born you have to start letting go.

It’s not that obvious during the first few years since our kids are so dependent on us. But once they start to venture out into the world, even if it’s only to preschool, we face a challenge.

We have to trust that they will be all right in the care of others. We have to trust that we have given them the tools to navigate on their own.

One day they are learning how to tie their own shoes. Blink and you’re giving them the car keys. Blink again and they’re moving out!

Each step is a challenge for them and for us.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary with the baby announcement, she knew Jesus would be like no other child ever conceived. However, she still had to learn day by day that his calling and mission superseded his role as her son.

When Jesus was twelve, he stayed behind by himself in the temple at Jerusalem after the feast. His parents frantically searched for days for him after they realized he was missing from the traveling caravan.

When they found him, he was surprised that they didn’t know where he would be. He had to be in his Father’s house. (Luke 2:41-50) He was on a mission from God.

Mary had to let go.

About ten years later, Jesus told the listening crown that whoever hears his words and does them are his family, not just those he grew up with. (Luke 8:19-21)

Mary had to let go.

On that dark Good Friday, Mary’s first-born was fulfilling the purpose for his life which was announced by Gabriel decades before.

He was dragging his cross up to a lonely hill. He was dying, just as he planned.

Mary had to let go.

Our children are gifts from God, but they don’t really belong to us. They belong to God and he has a reason for their lives above and beyond the blessing they bring to our families.

They have a mission from God.

Mary Mindset

Mary was the most important mother who ever walked the face of the earth. Yet, in many ways, she was a mother just like us. She felt the same love, joy, fears, concerns and helplessness that we all do.

Mary learned to mother well. She’s a strong, loving, faithful example that we can look to for guidance on our own journey of motherhood.

The famous Serenity Prayer fits this “Mary mindset” perfectly.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as he did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right

if I surrender to his will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him
forever in the next.

-Reinhold Niebuhr

I would love to hear the lessons you’ve learned as a mother. Please comment below.

If this post has been helpful, please share!

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers to Give Them Courage and Confidence

If you know preschool children, you know that they naturally love to explore and discover. That’s one of the things that make them so lovable.

Everything with them is new and exciting.

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers 1

But they can quickly lose this sense of adventure when they encounter challenging, unfamiliar situations unless they have grownups around them who coach them through and show them they can do it!

It’s a scary thought, but the way we communicate with our children in these sensitive moments could be the key to their sense of self-confidence for the rest of their lives.

If we are equipped with what to say in sensitive, childhood learning moments as well as everyday moments, we are preparing to launch brave, happy, confident people into the world.

In the first 5 years, many vital milestones occur in children.

Psychologist Erik Erikson developed a theory about stages of human psychosocial development. The first three stages he explains are from infancy through the preschool years.

The first stage is Trust vs. Mistrust

Caretakers, by their treatment of a child under the age of two, teach the child that people are trustworthy or not. This gives the child a basic sense of security or insecurity.

The second stage is Autonomy vs. Shame

This stage takes place up to about four years of age. A child raised well in the first years will develop a sense of assurance, control and independence.

The third stage is Initiative vs. Guilt

In this stage, through the preschool years, the child learns to engage in imaginative play, cooperate with others, lead and follow well.

When fear and shame are predominant emotions, the child will instead be restricted in play skills, may hang back and not participate with others and continue earlier levels of extreme dependence on the parent.

If you’d like to read more about the psychosocial stages, you can buy his book, The Lifecycle Completed, by clicking this link. (By the way, as an Amazon associate, I earn with purchases at no extra charge to you).

If the adults in a child’s life can foster security, self-assurance and courage in children, we will be setting them up for future success.

10 Things to Say to Preschoolers

to Give Them Courage and Confidence

Here are 10 major areas where we can affirm, encourage and instruct our children.

If we use phrases like these in these early years, preschoolers will develop the courage and confidence to move out into their new adventures knowing they have what it takes!

1Security – let them know they are safe – it’s the foundation for their growing independence.

Say this: You are safe. Mommy and Daddy love you and will always take good care of you.

2 – Confidence – remind them of past successes and assure them they can succeed in new circumstances.

Say this: You can do this! Remember when you went to the play group and did great?

3Individuality – let them know they are unique and specially gifted.

Say this: You are such a friendly kid! You’ll be good at making new friends.

4 – Support – let them know you will always be rooting for them.

Sat this: No matter what, I will always be there when you need me.

5Emotions – let them know that their feelings are normal and then help them work through them.

Say this: I can see you’re feeling angry right now. I can understand why. It’s hard for us when we don’t get what we want.

6Choices – Even when they can’t have what they want, making a choice gives them a sense of freedom and power.

Say this: We’re not having candy right now. You may have cheese or apple slices. Which would you prefer?

7Responsibility – let them know that their choices have consequences.

Say this: You can get your blocks out, but you will need to put them away when you’re done.

8 – Creativity – let them know their special, unique creativity is noticed and appreciated. Pick out one or two particular aspects of their work and praise them for it.

Say this: I love the combination of colors you chose for the feathers in your painting.

9 – Character – let them know when you see their positive character traits. We often only acknowledge misbehavior. Catch your kids acting right and point it out.

Say this: You were very kind to share your favorite toy.

10 – Worthiness – let them know that what they do and who they are is worth your time and attention, even if you can’t stop everything and pay attention right now.

Say this: I really want to see your tower of blocks. It’s important to me. I’ll come take a look at it in (5) minutes.

 

Here are some books and add-ons that help preschool children with a positive self-concept. Click on the title for more information.

Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Helps kids face new and sometimes scary situations with confidence.

Whatif Monster Plush Toy Companion to the book, this stuffed Whatif Monster is for kids to tell their fears and worries to.

Cordelia by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Lets kids know they are capable.

Cordelia Doll Companion to Cordelia story to remind kids that they can do it like Cordelia did!

I Love You Hoo by Rachel Bright. Sweet read aloud expressing love for children just the way they are.

You Are A Star by Ariella Abolaffio. Encouraging read aloud to instill a positive sense of self.

Here are some books to help grownups understand and communicate better with their kids. Click on the title for more information.

The Lifecycle Completed, by Erik H. Erikson. Understanding child development is important to parenting.

How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7, by Joanna Faber and Julie King. Teaches parents positive communication skills that will get results.

Preschoolers Are Ready and Willing Adventurers and We Can Help

Preschool children love to venture out and try new things, but they need grownups around them that give them a strong foundation and cheer them on as they go.

The messages we send them, verbal or otherwise, become the foundation upon which they build their sense of self for a lifetime.

Children are subconsciously asking these questions all the time:

Am I safe?

Am I lovable?

Am I important?

Am I enough?

Let’s do everything in our power to make sure that they can answer those questions with a big “Yes”!

What are some of the ways that you instill confidence in your kids? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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