Incorruptible Love.

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS

Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.

“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.

My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me. 

I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.

Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are? 

True love is incorruptible.  

“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted. 

My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact. 

Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.

As a  mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.

There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority. 

“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”

That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible. 

“Confident Moms, Confident Daughters,” by Maria Furlough

“Confident Moms, Confident Daughters,” by Maria Furlough, caught my attention in the author bio. As a fellow mom of an eleven-year-old daughter, I knew the words Maria wrote were meant to help equip my heart. A tough age, in fact one that now has it’s own, “tween” category, is difficult for this mom …and I’m sure many others …to process. Maria offers advice that is soothing and encouraging, Biblical, and relatable. (I normally follow standard procedure and reference the author by their last name in reviews, and I mean no disrespect to this author by not doing so. It’s the highest compliment. I truly felt, and believe all of her readers will as well, as if I was talking to another mom over coffee about the desires of our hearts to raise our daughters to be confident in who and Whose they are.)

“Our bodies carry a purpose, they carry importance, and each part is uniquely equipped with a certain set of skills. May be focus on this. May we rest here until the thoughts stop coming that our bodies are only for looking at and shaping up.” Maria Furlough, “Confident Moms, Confident Daughters.” 

In twelve chapters, Maria enlists the expertise of a pediatrician, a nutritionist, and a Christian counselor to come alongside her in breaking down the root of our insecurities. Each chapter has a “Confident Mom Challenge,” “Confident Daughter Discussion Questions,” and “A Mom’s Prayer.” The prayers are heartfelt and powerful, as we know all prayer is. I personally love when an author reserves page space to incorporate prayer into the word count. “My prayer is that you will do your own digging and soul searching with this question in mind: What do I want my daughter to learn from my outward adornment’ choices and philosophies?” Maria asks her readers in Chapter 4, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.” 

I highly recommend this book to moms and caregivers of tweens. Its convicting, caring, and confidence building. 

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Click here to purchase a copy of “Confident Moms, Confident Daughters.”

“Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart,” by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal

“Discovering the beauty and freedom of God-defined sexuality,” the subtitle read, and I immediately choose to read this book on account of my two tween daughters and the state of life they are fast approaching. Their questions on this topic deserve well throughout out, researched and educated answers …sprinkled with an immense amount of daily prayer. I read this book ahead of them, to put myself in their shoes. I hope they will read it one day. I will recommend it, but if not it’s been helpful for me to prepare meaningful discussions with them. 

“We’re tempted to believe the age-old lie that we know better than God.” 

I often pray for my daughter’s future husbands, but not specifically for their purity. The title of this book, alone, inspired me to work it into my prayer life. Broken into four main parts, “Broken Sexuality,” “God’s Spectacular Design,” “What Every Girl Needs to Know,” and “She is Made Whole,” Clark and Beal take a practical and compassionate approach to meet girls where they are at in the society they are living in. These sister authors speak truth in a relevant way. 

Chapter Four exposes “Four Cultural Lies About our Sexual Design: Sexual identity is determining by personal desires; marriage is a union between any two partners; sex should be embraced in whatever way seems right; femininity is about being seductive and powerful.” Clark and Beal speak truth right into every girl’s heart in say, “Sex won’t fix you problems.” A powerfully important statement in a world full of so many youths suffering from anxiety and depression. 

I highly recommend this book to moms and their daughters. 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Click here to purchase a copy of this book.

The Power of a Memory

“Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” Psalm 96:10

God is unmoved. He reigns. He is omnipotent and sovereign. I know the truth of this verse in my head, but my world has been in complete earthquake mode. All of the wheels typically fall off in May, but this Spring’s combination of heartache and stress have left deep purple circles under my eyes.

“I don’t care …fine!”

The door slammed. Round two, day four. The tween years are rapidly rushing in the gray hair. Life isn’t stopping or slowing down so I can devise a plan of attack. It’s exhausting my emotions and frying my nerves. It’s messing with the amount of sleep I depend on, and interrupting hours when the house used to be quiet enough to unwind. Some nights both kids fall asleep on either side of me- one afraid of something and the other sad about something and we are all too tired to have heartfelt talks about it before we fall asleep. 

“Butthole …butthead …” The “butt” themed names continued to trail off as one of my darling children walked away to read her book as physically far away from me as she could get …to roll her eyes and make faces. How dare I tell her she couldn’t have my phone. It’s so great when that happens in front of other people in a public place …it’s my favorite. There’s no willpower, role model or Bible verse that can stop hard seasons and stages. I remember slamming my door off the frame when I was their age, but somehow I thought I had done just enough good parenting to skirt the door slamming issue. The respectful children I have raised are no where to found some days. 

On top of parenting two tween girls, life has piled on injury, conflict, difficult decisions, and air thick with drama in unexpected places. Life is going to be life, and if I don’t find a healthy way to handle the curve balls, I will start slamming doors myself. Or end up with stomach ulcers. When all of the hard, sad, trying, annoying, hurtful and overwhelming stuff reaches a certain capacity, I come unglued in prayer. The floodgates of composure open and the tears stream down my face, relying on the power of Jesus’ name (sometimes at very high volume) to pick me up off of the floor. In those moments, He is faithful to remind me I already have Peace.

Remembering is an important part of our faith. Psalm 105:5 says, “Remember the wonders He has done, his miracles …” (NIV) Our memories, answered prayers, and miracles are powerful. Remember. As a motivation for and focus of worship and the basis for trust- remember how the Lord has remembered.” (NIVSB, emphasis mine.) Compassionate and merciful, He sees us, hears us, and is with us. In the suffering hidden behind our highlight reels, He is palpably present. Psalm 105:39 says, “He spread out a cloud as a covering…” (NIV) to protect His people (NIVSB). His peace shields our hearts. He is constant. 

Constant means unchanging, uniform, regular or invariable. It’s continuing without pause or letup. Who, or what, is unceasing? Can we rely on anything to be regularly recurrent, continual, or persistent? Only God is faithful, unswerving in love and devotion. As we ride the waves of this world, He remains steady.

The dark circles under my eyes can be a badge of honor or a burden of despair. In every situation, I have a choice. And I don’t always make it well. I complain, but Christ is constant. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV) The steadiness of Christ is in me. But I sometimes approach life like a roller coaster, strapping in and screaming when I’m scared and laughing when I’m happy. That’s no way to live. 

Through all of the chaos, Jesus remains constant. Unmoved. He sees me. He hears me. But I need to pause and remember the peace He died to give me. It’s not an easy world to live in. We will undoubtedly feel like aliens on our own planet many days. We’re placed purposefully by an all-knowing God who promises we’re never alone. Believe Him. Matthew 28:20b says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Happy Purple Circles,

Megs

“Parenting Beyond the Rules,” Connie Albers.

“They remember the pictures your words paint.” Connie Albers, “Parenting Beyond the Rules”

Life is picking up speed as my husband and I begin to race through the pre-teen years with our two daughters. This book set me on track to stay ahead of the game. A lot of the topics Albers discussed in this book are in the beginning stages of development already. I see certain behaviors and feel equipped to peek around the corner in regards to how they may develop. Books like this one are essential to me, as I seek to learn more about myself and God as I parent the two beautiful lives He has entrusted me with. 

Albers takes us on a journey with our changing children, teaching us what to look for and how to understand and celebrate the life they are now beginning to live with more independence each passing day. When to let go is a struggle, and the information packed into these pages helped me attain a better perspective on what to let go of and what to hold onto.

I felt encouraged reading this book. I finished it in two days. It was a quick read, I believe, because it’s so applicable to “Raising teens with confidence and joy,” as the sub-title promises. I found myself looking back on my own life as a teen, and being able to pull from those experiences in order to grow as a parent who will need to help her teens through some inevitably hard seasons.

The book is broken up into twelve chapters, with a section in the back full of resources for parents who would like to continue learning and researching. The stories throughout the book help paint an accurate picture of the research and Biblically based advice. I particularly liked the chapter titled, “Monitor Your Mouth.” How easily it is to find myself slipping into an argument with one of my children. I felt convicted and equipped to speak life to my kids.

I highly recommend this book to parents of tweens and teens. I will keep it close by as a reference for the years to come.

“Your child might act as if what you say doesn’t matter, but don’t be fooled. Their confidence will be shaken-or increased-by what you say and how you say it.” Connie Albers, “Parenting Beyond the Rules.”

Click here to purchase your copy of “Parenting Beyond the Rules.”

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.