Tag Archives: daughters

Teach Them How to Pray

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

My daughter is 6. She’s been really interested in praying: the words we say, who we’re talking to, things we ask for, etc. Naturally, this has made me much more intentional about the time I spending talking with Jesus in her presence, as well as how we pray together at bedtime, or when there’s a need. Since she’s been in first grade, she’s really begun to know things. Parents,  I’m sure you know what I mean. She’s started reading, she’s in school with a bunch of kids I don’t know, she spends time with her school friends when I’m not within earshot, and she’s brought home some odd turns-of-phrase. But one thing I want her to pick up well is how she talks with Jesus.

She asked me at bedtime the other night if I could give her a list of things to pray. Oh, how I loved this innocent request, suggesting that there are words that are perfect to pray at any and all times. Then, as I was writing down a little ideas list for her, all organized into things to thank Him for (like our family, our home, our church), things to ask for help with (such as being kind, forgiving others, and loving others well), and those items we usually try to remember (like keep our family members healthy and protect our home) the idea popped into my head: There already is a perfect prayer for any and every time we pray.

In Matthew’s gospel, we join Jesus as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount. About halfway through, he gives us the way to not to pray, and the perfect example of a prayer to our heavenly Father. How could I not begin here, with Jesus’s words, to teach my daughter how to pray?

So in addition to some ideas of things she could mention during prayers, or people who might need an extra blessing, I wrote out Matthew 6:9-13. Here it is in the ESV, in case you aren’t familiar, or you only know the version you memorized before you knew what the words meant:

9. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

10. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11. Give us this day our daily bread,

12. and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I closed her version with the simple words I had learned so long ago: For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

When so many things we teach our children can feel really complicated, I am more than content to begin the process of teaching her to pray with these simple words, straight from Jesus, to be used as a guideline for every other prayer we pray.

The Father’s Love

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

The other night, as I was spending some one-on-one time with my daughter, who is five, she caught me off guard with a question.

“Mama, what’s the thing you love most about me?”

I paused to think for a moment. That’s a weighty question. Would a pause any longer than a second be interpreted as not being able to think of anything? Would a simple answer like “Everything!” be too flippant? Even if it’s true that I love everything about her (except the obscene amount of laundry she generates) it seems like a silly answer to give when she’s clearly asking me for specifics.

“Your smile!” I say. “And I love that you’re kind, and a great big sister.”

“What else?” she asks.

Here goes. “I love how excited you are to read! And I love watching you dance.”

It went on like this for a few more minutes, me naming things I love about her. Even as it became harder to pinpoint specific things that I knew she’d like to hear me say, I could that my words were bolstering her, giving her what she needed in the way of affirmation. Who doesn’t sometimes long to climb into the lap of a loving parent and hear the things about themselves that are good?

The idea of a loving Heavenly Father is in the forefront of my mind as a parent. While I know I could never measure up to His perfect and unconditional love, He presents Himself as a good model for me to follow. He knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8) and He is even a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). His love has been compared to storms, ocean waves, mighty winds and raging seas. His love for us, weak and weary sinners, is the greatest example of sacrificing for the good of someone you love.

So come like a child, and ask Him to exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17). He loves you and rejoices over you! He wants us to come close to Him (“like a little child” we’re told in Matthew) and allow Him to speak life and blessings into our lives. All we have to do is draw near. Like my daughter, who knows that if she comes to me, and asks for compliments and showers of love, I’m always happy to oblige.

Kindergarten, Here She Comes

Yesterday, I did something I’d been putting off. I finally registered EK for kindergarten. Originally, I put it off because we were still thinking about schools, but it quickly moved on to the fact that I was just a little down, thinking about how big she is, and how little time I’ll get with her once we start full-day school in the fall. I mean, she’s excited, she’s ready, and she’s not going to have a problem with that transition. It was my heart that wasn’t ready.

I’m not ready to let my baby be somewhere else for six hours a day. I’m not ready to let her loose into the world, when she might be very impressionable. I’m not ready to feel like I have to share the work of raising her with someone else. I’m not ready.

But she is ready.

She is ready to spread her wings a bit. She is ready to make new friends, learn new things, be pushed and stretched. She is ready have a new teacher, new rules, new environment, and new people surrounding her. She is ready to read, to add and subtract, to play new games and sing new songs.

I know there will be hard days. She will have kids at school who aren’t nice, or days she doesn’t feel like going to school at all. But that’s where I come in: the encourager, the snuggler, the preparation expert, the “you can do it!” chanter. Her home is a safe place, one that will prepare her for her day, and one that will envelop her in comfort upon her return. Her family loves her – even her brothers will help cheer her on.

So kindergarten, by the time you get here, we will be ready for you. I’m glad that day isn’t today, but in a couple of months, my heart will be prepared. Be good to my little girl, kindergarten. She’s excited for you.

I let her stay up late. 

I wrote this piece during the Christmas season, when things were very busy, and I just hadn’t had enough time with EK.


My daughter is like me. She’s so much like me that it’s a little bit scary. For instance, she can run pretty well on a low amount of sleep. I’ve always been that way; slumber parties, college, newborn babies’ schedules: I’ve been a champion of productivity through it all. But now, I have a few toddlers and preschoolers, and they still need sleep, but EK is a the winner. She is often her normal self, even when I know she hasn’t gotten enough sleep.

The week before Christmas, things were hectic (surprise, surprise) and I was up late doing some wrapping. EK wandered out of her room, and found me amid rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons, and tape. Instead of getting frustrated that she’d been in bed for PLENTY long enough to fall asleep, I asked if she’d like to help me. She was thrilled. Hubby was working and the boys had long been asleep, so we stayed up for almost another hour, wrapping presents, tying bows, and she even got to label them all.

At the end of the hour, we were both sleepy, but we had had so much fun just being together, working side by side on a task, and seeing a pile of nicely wrapped gifts at the end. She looked at me when we were finished and said, “Mom! It feels like the middle of the night!” And while it was only about 10:00pm, I knew it must feel that way to her. I was tired too – and I stay up that late every night.

I walked her back to her room, tucked her in, and slid in the bed next to her. She requested a carol or two, and we sang them together. We said our prayers (the second time that evening) and I left to get ready for bed. I knew that letting her stay up with me had been a special treat, a sweet memory for my daughter to latch on to throughout the busy week ahead, when the house would be full of people and I wouldn’t have much time to be with only her. The next day, she didn’t seem extra tired or even a bit grumpy. I think the one-on-one time with me might have been just as restoring as that hour of sleep she lost.

How do you think it looks? 

 This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!


The other night, while the kids were taking their bath, I decided to give J’s and EK’s hair a little trim, mostly to make sure their bangs didn’t get into their eyes. They have endearingly shaggy cuts, and so I’d never want to jeopardize that. We had had some friends lingering after our dinner together, so after bath time, we fast-forwarded the bedtime routine, so we could get back to chatting with our friends. I was VERY surprised that EK didn’t make her way back up the stairs, as is her usual custom when we have friends over. (She likes to rejoin the party.) Their bedtime was a little late, so I attributed her absence to tiredness.

Around 11:00, when everyone had gone home and Hubby and I were getting ready for bed, I felt like I should go check once more and see if they were nestled in their beds. When Hubby and I got to the hallway where the kids’ rooms are, I saw EK’s light on underneath her door. When we got inside, we immediately saw little pieces of paper and ribbon from various bows that had all been cut into tiny pieces.

(I’ll take a moment to clarify that we don’t allow scissors without supervision. I’ll also clarify that I happened to leave those bangs-trimming scissors to dry on the bathroom counter, but up against the backsplash, and out of sight.)

Finding EK on the far side of her bed, working on a ribbon on her nightgown, I asked, “What are you doing, babe?” She looked up at me, and replied, “Just cutting stuff.” At this, I started to the see hair on the floor. I took the scissors and said, “Well you know that it’s not okay for you to use scissors without me or Daddy with you. And look at all the hair you’ve cut off!”

As she started to cry (mostly from being in trouble, I think), I looked at Hubby and said quietly, “That’s a lot of hair…” Turning back to a sniffling EK, I said, “You really cut a lot of hair. How do you think it looks?” And as the dam broke and she crumbled into a hot mess, she cried, “Great!” and succumbed to the sobbing. As tears filled my eyes, I told her the most important thing I could think to tell her: “If you think you look great, then so do I.”

You see, she’s not yet four years old. She is outwardly tough, but can be fragile in many ways. She is moldable, flexible, and absorbs every single thing she sees and hears. If I had dared tell her it didn’t look good, or that she did an awful job on her hair, well, it would’ve crushed her. It likely would’ve stuck out in her mind for a long while. Instead, the focus of the scold was on scissor safety and not the outcome of a self-done haircut. After all, it’ll grow. And it looks right cute with a headband in it. She’s still my adorable EK, and her hair just has a little extra spunk.

5 Reasons Parenting My Threenager Is Exhausting

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

 

My threenager is amazing. She’s smart, compassionate, curious, kind, and surprisingly intuitive. She’s also stubborn, opinionated, extremely bold, and ridiculously energetic. Honestly, I think those are all good qualities to have, especially as a female. (And the strong women of the world applauded.) But sometimes, as her mother and the person who spends the most time with her, I get exhausted by her inexhaustible nature. Here are a few reasons why.

She Has So Many Questions. Asking questions is good. It’s how we learn and grow. However, when I’ve been asked 57 questions before I’ve uttered one word and I’m still in the bed, it wears on me. My threenager also has this knack for not hearing the answer to a question she asking, and therefore asks it again, and again, and again. This is a special kind of hell for a mom.

She Hates Bedtime. She doesn’t necessarily hate the process, or even the idea of laying in bed and snuggling her blanket and animals. What she hates is the going to sleep part. She thinks she’s missing something – even if what she’s missing is my brushing my teeth and heading to bed. She often gets up multiple times, wanders the house, and has endless energy she didn’t have when I asked her to put away her toys.

She Is a Fast Talker. She knows what she wants, and she goes for it. It doesn’t matter what Mom says… she will find a way to get what she wants. She’s already figured out that if she can get to Daddy quick enough, he might not know to say no. She will climb, run, and beg to get whatever it is she wants. When she’s a young adult, I’m going to be proud of these very qualities, but right now, it can be frustrating.

She Is Dramatic. The girl could win an Oscar.  Reason #1 (of a thousand) we don’t watch Calliou is she already knows how to whine. She does it even when she doesn’t need to, and frequently incorporates a classic eye roll/angsty sigh combo. The speed at which a situation escalates is record-breaking, and usually has to do with her little brother.

And finally…

She Knows Everything. That’s why we call them threenagers, right? They think they know what they need AND what everyone else needs. I’m just praying we have a break from it before she hits middle school.

I Said Yes

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

As the mom to young kids, I say no a lot. I say no to everything from throwing food on the floor and drawing on the wall to hitting siblings and screaming in restaurants. I feel like I only have negatory words in my vocabulary; let’s not do that, don’t touch those, and no, thank you.

So this morning, when I went out with my daughter, I decided I would say yes as much as I could. Could we have smoothies for breakfast? Yes! While we are shopping in Old Navy, could she choose a new dress. Yes! Could she wear it to church tomorrow? Yes! Could she ride the choo-choo? Yes!

Just a few simple yeses went a long way. Most of them were ones I would’ve said yes to anyway. We needed to have breakfast, so why not smoothies? I knew we were going to look for a couple of fall dresses for her at Old Navy, so when she chose her favorite, of course I said yes. And her favorite yes of the day was easily the train ride.  

 What looked to me like a silly little “train” driven by a bored-looking fellow was a wonderful surprise to my three year old, train-obsessed daughter. We rarely go to the mall (who has time to drag kids through the mall on a regular basis?!) so I didn’t even know train riding was a possibility. We were both surprised, and while $3 a piece to ride a thing made to look like a train for a 4 minute trip around a quarter of the mall seemed like a waste, it made my daughter’s day. She was so ecstatic about being on a train that she wanted our picture taken, her picture taken, and she still has the tickets the conductor gave us in her room. 

 It felt incredible to be able to say yes. I often get weary of not letting my kids have the answer they want. It’s not much fun to say no all the time, because I really do want them to do and have everything. It’s even worse saying no when they’re too young to understand that I have their best interest in mind. So today, saying yes felt especially good, both to me and to EK.

When we are asking the Father for something, really, really hoping for it, but it isn’t what He has for us, we don’t like getting no as the answer. But He wants to give us a thousand yeses, wonderful blessings better than whatever we could think to ask for. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need better than we can understand, and so he tells us no sometimes. He gives us a no to make way for the yes.