Category Archives: 21 Days
Fear. It can be so sneaky, and it can be so obvious.
It can invade our homes, families and minds.
I know that mothers understand fear. Because we struggle with it a LOT.
There is a quote that says that when we have children, it is like having your heart go walking outside of your body forever. I didn’t fully grasp that until I had my son – it is amazing how vulnerable a child can make you! Because of that, many times, we fall into fear – fear of getting hurt, fear of hurting our child, fear of making the wrong choices, fear of our children not growing up well, fear of failure…I could go on.
I’m sure these 21 days of prayers have brought up fears – but I hope that these prayers have given you a constant reminder that we are not alone in parenting our boys! We have a God who loves and cares for us and our sons – and is working each day to perfect us. And what a comfort to know that when we, as parents, fail, we can take that opportunity to point our sons to our heavenly Father – who loves us perfectly.
I hope this challenge has been a blessing to you. I hope that it has helped you move from worrying about the mundane, to focusing on the eternal. And I hope it has reminded you of the Lord’s grace. Even though our 21 days are over, I have a challenge to leave with you: make it a point to pray for 3 things for your son each day. Ask the Lord to guide you on what those 3 things should be each day. But continue to pray daily for your son.
I’d love to hear what you thought of this challenge and what you learned about yourself and/or your son over the last 21 days. Please leave a comment and let us know! If you have your own blog, and would like to write your thoughts there, I have put up a linky tool below which will allow you to link directly to your blog on here. Even if you aren’t going to write about this, but have your own blog, link to it so we can check it out.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and you’re in my prayers as you begin this new week. Congrats on completing the challenge!!
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people,
nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts.
It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.
Encouragement from Brooke:
It’s day twenty-one.
The LAST day of your prayer challenge. Are you a mixture of relieved and sad all at the same time? What an accomplishment! (What an amazing amount of work!) If you’re finishing today you deserve a pat on the back! Think of all the work that has been done on behalf of your sons! Congrats mom!
I chose humility as our last day’s topic because it is such an amazing posture of the heart. Scripture just seems to scream God’s favor over those who are humble in heart.
• James 4:10 says that if we’re humble before the Lord, He will lift us up.
• 1 Peter 5:6 says that if we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God He will exalt us.
• Psalm 149:4 says that it is the humble who are adorned with salvation.
Do you show humility before your sons? Do you always have to be right? Always have to win? Pray and ask the Lord for specific ways you can show humility today so that when the time comes, your sons will know how to show it too.
It’s really hard to show humility with a 4-year-old. I’m sure it will be difficult to be humble even when my kids are adults. The truth is, as parents, we are going to make mistakes. We will make poor decisions sometimes. Or we will do something that directly hurts our child. Do you have the humility to seek forgiveness? Or will your pride keep you quiet – pretending that nothing ever happened, or drive you to blame others? If we aren’t willing to have humility in our own lives, then how can our sons ever be expected to understand or live it?
Today, as you work through your last day of prayers, ask the Lord to bring to your mind anything that you need to deal with humbly. It may involve your son directly, and it may not – but little eyes are watching, and they are learning YOUR definition of humility. Fix it today.
I want to thank you guys for working through these 21 days with me. I know things are hectic in the summer, but this was really a special time of focusing on our boys, and I know the Lord has been glorified through this. I will be doing a conclusion post tomorrow for this whole thing – I hope you’ll stop by that post and let me know how this 21 day challenge impacted you.
Lies will get any man into trouble,
but honesty is its own defense. ~Proverbs 12:13
Even a little lie is dangerous; it deteriorates the conscience.
And the importance of conscience is eternal, like love.
In the section, the Power of Forgiveness, I thought that the author did a great job of showing the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me”. I’m going to try to implement that with my kids – I think it’s a great distinction to make.
Can you remember a funny example of when it was OK for your son(s) to offer an apology, such as the incident Brooke described in this chapter?
What goes hand-in-hand with forgiveness, is honesty. So today, we’re going to pray for our sons to have an honest heart – so that they can be honest with themselves and others – especially when it comes to asking or giving forgiveness. Also take some time to pray that the Lord will help you know when to ask forgiveness as well – from your son, from your husband, from a friend…let’s practice what we’re praying today.
See you tomorrow for the 21st day! I hope you’ve been able to stick with this.
‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They answered,
‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.’ ~Acts 16:30-31
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me’. ~John 14:6
The Gospel is open to all; the most respectable sinner
has no more claim on it than the worst. ~Martyn Lloyd-Jones
It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.
It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.
It is not even thy faith in Christ, though that be the instrument;
it is Christ’s blood and merit. ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Encouragement from Brooke:
There is NOTHING my heart yearns for more than my sons’ salvations.
Elyse Fitzpatrick, in her book entitled, Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, says
“There is no easy way to say it, but it must be said: parents and churches are not passing on a robust Christian faith and an accompanying commitment to the church.”
Take a moment today to look long and hard at your parenting. Is it Gospel-centered, or have you allowed the world’s “stinking thinking” to creep into your home?
Obviously, the cry of all our hearts is to see our boys accept the free gift of Salvation. Today, let’s pray for the Lord to draw them to Himself. Let’s take every opportunity we can to talk about Jesus, His death on the cross, and His promise of eternal life to all who simply believe. It’s never too young to talk to your children about this – the gospel message is designed for a child-like faith. Children naturally “get it”. Their simple belief is a beautiful reminder to us ‘grown-up, complicated Christians’ about what our faith is all about. Don’t make the mistake of deciding your son is too young to grasp the gospel, and because of that you put off the subject until “he’s older”.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. ~Matthew 19:14
Don’t hinder your son from coming to Jesus – in fact, do everything possible to direct him there! As you pray today, ask the Lord to put opportunities in your day to talk to your son about the gospel. And when those opportunities do arise, pray that you will recognize them!
See you tomorrow!
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,
and clamour, and evil speaking,
be put away from you, with all malice. ~Ephesians 4:31
Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger.
These past 18 days, we’ve been praying for our boys in specific areas of their lives. But at the foundation of all those prayers for our sons is the hope that their hearts will soften and they will take what they have learned and apply it in their own life. There are plenty of times that I don’t think my son is “getting it” – and then he’ll blow me away with a flurry of questions about Jesus. I may not always give perfect answers to him, but I’m so glad that he is thinking about those things. I combined two of the discussion questions – I’d like to know your thoughts:
Have you made it a habit to pray for the salvation of your son(s)? Can your recall a time when you sensed your son’s heart was soft to the message of the Gospel? Describe what happened.
Today, we’ll be praying for our sons to avoid anger in their lives. Just as with so many of our prayer topics, anger comes down to a choice we make daily – many times a day. We choose our way or God’s way – whether we love Him more – or less – than whatever we are facing. Our boys will have to struggle through this as well – but it’s never to early to help them understand their choice, and to let them know that we are praying for them. Our topic of self-control goes so well with today’s prayer topic – it can help replace anger in your son’s life.
As you work through your prayers today, ask the Lord to show you if there are any areas of your life where you react in anger – if so, then ask the Lord to help you deal with those situations with self-control and grace.
See you tomorrow!
When upset, count to ten before speaking.
When very angry, count to a hundred;
then don’t speak.
Encouragement from Brooke:
What’s on the throne of your son’s heart? I recently spoke at a small local women’s conference on the topic of finding balance in our physical and spiritual lives. Admittedly, this is an area I’ve struggled with my entire life. I’m an emotional eater, and my weight has fluctuated over the years to prove it.
I used to think that could control it by counting calories, or walking four miles a day (yes, I used to do that). I’ve tried portion control, diet pills and running, but nothing sticks. Know why? Because I love food. I turn to it for comfort, fulfillment and joy. And until I dethrone it from Christ’s rightful place in my heart, I will continue to struggle.
It’s idol-worship, plain and simple (ouch).
Food may not be the area of self-control with which your son struggles. Maybe he has video games, sports, sex, or money on the throne of his heart. The key to overcoming our tendencies toward worshipping something other than Christ is to choose to love Him more than we love our sin. A constant laying down of our desires and picking up of Christ is the only fix.
I wrote an article once on the topic of loving Him more …
It was a hot summer night, and I sat on my bed in a heaping culmination of all I’d been taught. A moment of rare heart understanding as I realized that life with Christ was not about what I could or could not do, but about loving Him more than I loved my sin.
Loving Him more.
Anything that separates me from God is sin and anything good can be made sin if I love it more than I love Him. And now twelve years later I’m still choosing.
I love Him. I love Him less than looking my best. I love Him. I love Him less than yelling at my kids. I love Him. I love Him less than getting even with my husband. I love Him. I love Him less than having a published book. I love Him. I love Him less than time to myself. I love Him. I love Him less than a stomach painfully full of my favorite meal. I love Him. I love Him less than getting my own way.
I love Him.
I love Him less.
Every time I love Him less I love something else more.
But He loves me. He loves me always.
In the moment of choice this knowing of His steadfast, never-ending love is what gives me strength. This knowing of His great sacrifice for me … and for you. This knowing of the lengths He would go to love me more.
More than I deserve.
More than I can comprehend.
More than the power of Hell can stand against.
“My Savior’s sacrifice paid for all my sin. So in my suffering I look to the Cross again. No need, no want, no trial, no pain can compare to this: The wrath of God once meant for me, was all spent on Him. Before the Cross, I humbly bow. I place my trust in the Savior. Your finished work captures my gaze. You bore the wrath, I know the grace.” ~Before the Cross (Sovereign Grace Music)
Now the little forever soul sits in front of me for what seems like the 20 millionth time today. And I look at him… and he looks at me. And I wonder, out loud, how he could possibly want to choose discipline over joyful obedience. After days of willful rebellion from two little men, I’m spent and I cannot understand in that moment why ANYONE would choose this chaos–this miser–when simple obedience would change everything. Don’t they know the sweetness that would be theirs if they would just obey?
Just CHOOSE to obey? Sigh. There’s that word again.
The choice to love Him more begins from the beginning … hearts made to worship Him … choose Him. Hearts that left to themselves will choose our own way every time.
How many times have I chosen my own way when I knew the consequences? How many times have I forfeited the sweet, peaceful blessings of obedience in order to stamp my feet, cross my arms, dig in my stubborn three-year-old-like heels and have my own way?
And this from a woman who has tasted the goodness of God in the land of the living!
How can I expect my little ones to choose the good all the time when their own mama, a Jesus-follower for over 20 years, still gets it wrong?
And more grace.
and choosing to love Him more.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~1 Corinthians 10:31
Pray for self-control for your son today. And let’s take some time to look at ourselves – what do you love more than Him? I know I struggle with loving Him less than being right. Ouch. It’s hard to type that, but it’s important to acknowledge those struggles. Don’t leave me hanging – what do you struggle with “loving Him less than”?
See you tomorrow!
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect. ~1 Peter 3:15
I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness
is to be expected only from the strong. ~Leo Rosten
Encouragement from Brooke:
Aggression in men is commonplace. It may not manifest itself the same way for all of them, but it’s there nonetheless. For the physical boys, it shows up in their need to be on the top of the wrestling pile. For the intellectuals, it shows up in their need to score the highest on the exam or be at the top of the class. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with aggression. I don’t want to break my sons of their aggressive streak and I’m learning not to be afraid of it. But I do want to teach them how and when to use it. I’m beginning to think that gentleness is more of an approach to life than a specific characteristic to develop.
Since they were born, we’ve whispered these words into our sons’ ears:
God made men to protect women and care for them. God made you a big brother! Your job is to protect your little brother, not hurt him. There’s a time to play and a time to listen. If you can’t listen, you have to feel (true in so many aspects of life). God wants you to use your strength to protect, not to hurt. Superheros don’t look for fights, but they will fight to protect others. It’s OK to want to be the best, but the best people in life are the ones who serve others. A gentle word turns away wrath …
I’m glad that Brooke doesn’t try to take all aggression out of her boys – it is true that there is a time and place for it. So many times in our culture, we strive to turn our boys into girls – they are expected to act the same and have the same strengths. They don’t. I think part of being the mom of a boy is understanding that, and learning to appreciate the differences that boys bring to the table. The Christian community seems to have caught on to this problem, and there are a lot of books out there now about Christian men maintaining their masculinity, and how they were actually created that way. Teaching our boys to be gentle does not mean they can never be aggressive or tough – it means that they will be well-rounded and will learn when different approaches are acceptable, and when they’re not.
Today, pray for your son to learn how to use gentleness in his life. When is aggressiveness acceptable for your boy, and when do you want him to show gentleness?
See you tomorrow!
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ~Matthew 25:23
Faithfulness and sincerity are the highest things. ~Confucius
Encouragement from Brooke:
I could talk about how many men struggle to be faithful to their wives. I could talk about how some men get tossed about for most of their lives, never really knowing who they are or what they believe. I could talk about how some of the young men I see today don’t know how to hold down a job, or provide for their families, or how to be a good and faithful husband and father. But really, what I want to talk about … what I want to pray about today … is that our sons would be faithful to God.
Doesn’t this one prayer bring with it the solution to everything else we could talk about? A man whose first love is Jesus, will be faithful in all of the areas above. He won’t be perfect, but he will possess the ability to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be faithful. It is something worth praying for.
Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness … ~Joshua 24:14
What do you think of this quote? “Mature Christians are keenly aware that they can’t raise their kids. It’s a no-brainer. Even if they are perfect parents, they still can’t get inside their kids’ hearts. That’s why strong Christians pray more.”
See you tomorrow!
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. ~Matthew 12:34
Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can,
to all the souls you can,
in every place you can, at all the times you can,
with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can. ~John Wesley
Today, we are praying for our sons to have goodness in their lives. This is kind of a hard one, because no matter how “good” our boys are, they are always going to fall short. We all do. That is why we need a Savior. So while we want to cultivate goodness in our sons, we also want to remind them that they are still human and because of that, they need Christ’s righteousness.
The difference between obedience and goodness is the state of your boy’s heart. Obedience is an important action, but goodness is a state-of-mind. A good example is how Christ described the Pharisees:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. ~Matthew 23:27-28
On the outside, they were very obedient – to the point of extreme legalism. On the inside – their mind, hearts, soul – they were not good. They were empty. Since most of you have young boys, I want to make the point that obedience is important – we’ve already talked about that. When our children are young, we need to have control over their outward behaviors – it has to be that simplistic. And many times, those actions are naturally adopted into their character. But as our boys grow, it is important to teach more about the motivation behind good actions, and look to win their minds – and the very core of who they are – for Christ.
Think of a behavior that you require (or will require) from your son. Today, how can you help him understand the motivation behind that behavior? Take the time to explain it to him in a way he can understand, and also take that opportunity to talk about our need for a Savior. It’s never too early to speak to your sons about Christ’s free gift of Salvation!
See you tomorrow!
The man who tries to be good, loving, and kind finds life, righteousness, and honor.
Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Harry Thompson
Thoughts from Sally Clarkson (Author of The Mission of Motherhood):
When Clay and I moved from California to Texas, I was to take all of my young children from Los Angeles to Dallas by myself. Flying with 3 children alone on several flights for a period of 11 hours, is never easy. But with two boys under 5 years of age, it seemed especially long. My now 22 year old son, Nathan, was a very active, extraverted, little boy. At 18 months, he did not have to pay for a ticket if he sat with me. However, getting him to sit on my lap through all of the flights proved to be more than I had even imagined.
Just as he was about to fall asleep, I would have to board the plane. Being awakened in such a sleepy state did not go well for him. Then, again, just as he was finally falling asleep after wrestling with me for the whole flight, we landed and started the whole disrupting his sleepiness cycle again. Finally, we all arrived in Dallas, exhausted, disheveled and totally drained. My mother-in-law picked us up at the airport and suggested we stop by a restaurant before we drove the 2 hours to her house.
Nathan had had all he could take! When we sat down in the restaurant, he laid on the floor and started flailing his arms and screaming and kicking. No one could get near him.
I was frantic and left him on the floor yelling while my mother-in-law stayed with him, and I walked a little bit away from him, pretending to look at some pies in a showcase, so that I could calm down and take a breath away from this little boy that had drained all of my emotional energy and reserve.
An old man was standing next to the counter, looking at Nathan, as everyone else was also doing, and commented, “My goodness, what a walleyed fit! That little boy needs a strong hand!”
That wizened old man at the pastry counter was right. Nathan did need a strong hand. But not the kind he meant. Nathan was exhausted, pushed, out of his nap cycle and with his strong personality, all he knew to do to tell us his limits had been reached, was to fall on the floor and sob.
As I grew older with my loud and active boy, I got wiser. I realized that the more I understood Clay as a man– his need for my respect, for me to be content and thankful for what he provided, that he longed for me to accept his limitations and to love him for who he was–then I grew in my understanding of how to treat my own “men in training”–with respect, affirmation, investing words of life and giving affection.
I gave Nathan (and Joel) the strong hand that they needed to grow up, without feeling guilty or shamed for who and how God had made him. I gave him a strong hand that would make him stronger as a boy, a young man, and eventually as a man.
Seems silly to say, but boys are not girls. They are as mysterious as men, because they are men. But moms are girls, and sometimes that can be a problem. Most boys (not all, but most) will be more active, louder, noisier, less attentive or sensitive, slower to pick up cues, sometimes clueless and just more “boysterous” than most girls. God designed them that way on purpose. Everything about them—physiology, biology, brain function, and
testosterone—prepares them for a different role and function in life than girls. But by God’s design, they need to be affirmed in their design by their girl mothers. God has given you a “strong hand” in their lives by way of being their mother.
From personal experience and many years of observation, moms often discipline boys for being boys, instead of understanding that God wants them to grow into strong men.
If we want them to be warriors when they are big, they need to be able to practice being little warriors when they are young. Even as our own husbands want to feel that we are happy and content with what they have provided, so our boys need to know that we are happy to be their moms, and that we are delighted that they are young men in training to accomplish great feats some day.
For my boys, it sometimes meant laughing at silly boy jokes, taking time to listen to them talk or show off–this is the “glory” of man. Honoring their need to provide for me or to have me listen to them, even as very little boys.
That’s not to say they don’t often need to be disciplined and trained when they stray off the path, but it is to say that boys will be boys, and that it’s a good thing. My strong hand in my boys’ lives helped shape them into the strong men they have become. Sure they needed a strong corrective hand many times, but I learned that was only one kind of strong hand. They needed a strong hand in even more important ways.
A strong loving hand (acceptance and grace)
When I could see that Nathan’s larger than life personality was becoming agitated, I would pull him aside, sit him on my lap, softly tickle his back and find out what was wrong. He loved to talk and when I heard what was going on in his mind, he would obey me, just for having listened. It took more time, but I came to understand this little darling boy and he responded to my patient love.
Both of my boys, Nathan and Joel, melted when I looked at them through a grid of love and chose to respond to the boys that God had made them to be. I sought to understand both boys and to find ways to communicate love to them and acceptance of their unique personalities. Joel loved affection and back rubs and I could really teach him a lot and influence him a lot if I rubbed his back–lots of little boys respond to touch. Nathan wanted to talk and talk and talk and when I was available to listen or to play, he always became more obedient.
When I understood that in Nathan’s and Joel’s hearts, that they were not out to thwart me, and that both boys were often in their own little worlds, (and with “A.D.D.” Nate was not even able to respond to my strong demands) I could be more patient. When I was patient and consistent in my training of them, they were willing to respond to me. They really always loved their “mama” so much and had a heart to please me because they
knew I was on their team.
I invested words of love, admiration, encouragement and validation of their “boyish” feats, and both of my boys seemed to melt in my hands.
A strong gentle hand (kindness and gentleness)
I noticed that when I treated my boys in a gentle way, with respect and spoke directly to them, at eye level, and touched their little backs or shoulders, they were much more attentive.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,” from Proverbs became the pattern for my speech to my boys. Treating them with gentleness and patience created a desire in them to become civil with me. I was firm and consistent, but honored their desire for kindness.
A strong patient hand (understanding and longsuffering)
Learning not to react to the noise of my boys, but to understand the “glory of man” and their need to show off at times, made me a cheerleader for them, and gave me the right to speak into their lives.
Giving them time to mature took years of patience and practice of self-control for me. I learned to try to see into their hearts and motivations from a boy’s point of view before I used harsh words and became frustrated. Even as men want to be respected, so I learned to respect them as little boys who would grow into fine, strong men. And they responded.
I learned that if I trained them before a situation, (“This is the place we need to use our quiet voices. Mommy wants you to be really strong inside today, because we are taking you to a big boy place”) then they were much more likely to behave.
I always took them a little bag of their own, to help them to learn to be quiet and self-controlled. Their bags had Legos, paper airplane sheets, puzzle books, colored pencils, car books, and etc. When I planned to take care of their felt needs, they learned early to behave and to control their behavior.
A strong protective hand (teaching and telling) and (encouraging and affirming)
Constant teaching and instructing gave them a positive self-image of what they would grow into.
We read all the “hero” stories in Scripture and acted them out–David and Goliath; Joseph saving his brothers and father and running away from Potiphar’s wife; Moses parting the Red Sea; and etc. “Just think, God has made you a little boy who will grow up to do great things just like these men.”
“God made you such a strong boy. I know you will grow up to help many people.” “You are such a helpful boy. I couldn’t carry in all of these heavy groceries without you.”
“God made men to be leaders who would be brave and courageous to help people follow His ways. I can just imagine what kind of man you will be because you are growing so strong inside and you are so helpful to mommy.”
There is so much more to say about this subject, but as I looked to God’s design for men and saw the potential of my boys becoming strong, righteous men, I had the heart to become the mother that they needed me to be. One who had great respect for the holiness of manhood, even in the lives of the sweet boys that lived every day in my own home. And I girded my hands with God’s strength to support and train them one day at a time.
Today, as we pray for our sons to be kind, remember that kindness is not something that comes naturally to us. We are, by nature, selfish, sinful people who are very interested in our own way. But, kindness can be learned, and it is rewarding for both the person receiving kindness, and the giver. I have been able to have a few conversations with my four-year-old about kindness, but I’m always careful to make one important distinction: While trying to be kind, always be good. Sometimes we think that in order to be kind, we must compromise on the truths we stand on – we decide that it’s more important to be “nice”. Our boys need to know that they should always be good regardless of the situation – and showing kindness shouldn’t change that. That’s why I try to tell my son to “be good” instead of “be nice” when I leave him somewhere.
What are some things you can do to show kindness to your son directly today?
See you tomorrow!