As a mom and as a counselor, I have this deep seeded desire in me–to make things better. Honestly, I had it ever since I was a child. As a kid, I quickly learned to be the peacekeeper and as an adult I became a peacemaker learning boundaries along the way.
Well, take that well intentioned desire to make things better and add fear to it and it was a disaster waiting to happen. Shortly after I got married I realized that I was living in fear. I’m not a fearful person so I was caught by surprise, but the more I thought through this new realization it became clearer–I lived in fear of my family falling apart. I grew up in a loving home, with loving parents who loved God. Then out of nowhere, one day my family just simply fell apart. Or at least that’s how it seemed like to me as a teenager.
So, now that I had a family of my own, I lived in fear this would one day happen to me. This fear quickly drove me into control-freak mode. If I had any little spat with my husband, I was ready to talk through it and discuss it. Though this is healthy not every little argument needs to turn into a discussion. I was reading every book I could get my hands on to be a better parent. I was reading every book on how to better our marriage and we would regularly attend marriage conferences. All of this seemed like good things, but my motives were driven by my fear and it quickly got old.
Then one day my little world collapsed. My marriage was okay but we were knee deep in the muck of many stressful situations which was affecting our relationship. My son was showing all sorts of signs of trauma. I had no idea what was happening–my world was falling apart right before my own eyes. I had done all the work, I tried so hard to be a good mom and a loving wife and still it wasn’t enough.
That night I cried and cried and then cried some more. I prayed to God asking Him to show me what I had done wrong. I was reassured that it wasn’t that I hadn’t done enough but that just I can’t do everything. He reminded me that it is HE who holds all things together. Not sometimes when I’m too busy, not when I just can’t seem to figure it out. Not just my finances, health, security but everything in my life. ALL the time–ALL things. This realization that I’m not strong enough to be everything I’m supposed to be was the only way that I was able to ask Him to be strong enough.
I still like to read parenting and marriage books partly because I’m a counselor and because I just like learning, but I’m no longer bound by the fear that I lived in before. Now I’m getting better at realizing that knowledge is good but it’s only through His strength and grace that real change happens. That my kids and my marriage are better off in His hands not mine.
I am His.
My boys are His.
My husband is His. My parents are His. My siblings are His. He is not done with us yet and the good work He began in each of us, He will finish to the end.
Note, “He” will finish–not Mari will finish.
I don’t have to be strong enough for everyone. I’m sure this lesson will be one that I will continuously be learning throughout my life.
I share all of this in hopes to encourage you that these parenting books are great and helpful but that we must come to realization that we can’t hold everything together. And to challenge you to join me in this Love Dare for Parents journey letting Him do the heart change but realizing that we also need to be intentional about the ways we show love to those little people He has blessed us with. Lets encourage each other on this journey of strengthening our family and loving our each other more intentionally!
Let’s stop letting each day go by and let’s seize the moments we have with our kids. I’m not saying seize every moment as that’s not possible but we must stop living life as if we are mere characters in a story. We need to take charge and reclaim our family!
In the words of Brene Brown for her children:
I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
The Love Dare for Parents Challenge
How to get started:
I will begin our Love Dare Journey The Love Dare for Parents
by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick on September 28th, it’s a one month challenge (12 Days of the Dares). This will give you enough time to purchase your own copy at your local bookstore or an ebook copy available online. If you don’t want to purchase the book you can still follow along as I will be sharing about my journey on here each week but I highly recommend you do the reading (each day is really short). See schedule below.
Even if your kids are no longer living at home you can still join us! If you’re looking for more family unity or wanting to strengthen your family or just wanting to change the focus of how you’re doing family–join us!
1. Read each day.
2. Come by each week and share your thoughts in the comments. It will be our online book club! Feel free to follow along to get our daily updates and free printables that I will be sharing along on our strengthening our family journey. I’ll share the weekly challenges and updates via email for our subscribers and some on Facebook. So make sure you’re following along. Just click on the links to get on our email list!
3. Receive weekly updates with principles to put to work.
4. I will share once a week on Thursday. Each week we will cover two days. This will give you time to do the love dare in a week with each family member in your household or if you’re having an extremely busy week it will give you more time to finish invest in your love dare for that week. You can do it however works best for you but the only thing I encourage you to do is keep at it on a weekly or daily basis and journal about what you read. It doesn’t have to be long journaling but jotting a note or two down always helps things stick.
5. You can tell your family members you’re doing this love dare challenge or you can see if they start noticing the change in you. You can do this with your family members even if they no longer live under your roof. Feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #reclaimingfamily
Although the book is definitely written from a Christian perspective, we all long for love and it’s our greatest need. Even if you don’t share my faith, there is much that can be learned from this book about being intentional in your relationships. So join us!
Schedule: (Two days per week)
Sept 28th- Day 1- Love Blooms & Day 2 Love is Patient
Oct. 5th- Day 3 Love is Kind & Day 4 Love Values
Oct 12th Day 5 Love is Wonderful & Day 6 Love is Not Selfish
Oct. 19th Day 7 Love is Not Irritable & Day 8 Love Wins Hearts
Oct. 26th Day 9 Love Cherishes & Day 10 Love is Not Rude
November 2nd Day 11 Love Teaches & Day 12 Love Encourages