“Common Confusion Needing Clarification – In young People Over Their Sexual Orientation”

It has recently come to my attention, that there are two basic areas of confusion in some peoples’s minds that can lead to confusion over their sexual orientation.
In our own family, we have encouraged “dating” to be put off for as long as possible. We want to see our kids have healthy friendships with the opposite sex. But we tell them that dating is for more toward the marriage stage when you’re looking for a spouse. I cannot believe how much our society promotes romantic relationships so very young. I have heard adults ask 5 and six-year-olds if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend at school. That is ludicrous! We even talked to ours about it’s OK and normal to be attracted to people of the opposite sex ~  long before you have the privilege of dating. Because our society promotes it so much, I have found that some kids need to be told it is OK if “dating” is not foremost on their brain for a long time. It is completely OK and natural to NOT have your first boyfriend or girlfriend until you’re in your 20s.  I have known of many healthy and thriving young people who simply did not. But in our society, that can make a person wonder if something is wrong with them – if they are not panting after the opposite sex.
It is OK to not be consumed or even wanting to date someone throughout your teen years!
(Some need to be told this)

And then if that question is coupled with the next thing I will explain, it can cause huge questions.

As adults, we have all come to realize, whether consciously or not, what truly beautiful works of art that the Creator crafted the human body and person to be. And some personally appeal to us much more than others – male and female whether you are male or female. As adults we know and accept this. To a teenager ~ who has not been taught that this is normal, it can be confusing to their sexuality. For instance, if you are a young teenage boy and find some other males handsome, beautiful or appealing in anyway – it can make you wonder about your own orientation. We need to let young people know this is OK and normal. We need to talk with our young people about how to appreciate the beauty in the works of art that the Father has created in his masterpieces of humanity. That we can appreciate – without wanting, desiring or lusting after.
In fact… That behooves all of us… To appreciate beauty and move on; without thinking we need or want somebody.

I fully understand that there are many other factors that can lead to homosexuality. But if these two simple issues are enough to confuse a young person and we can help them understand what is normal ~ we should be compelled to do so. It might also help to enlighten our young people, and educate them – that it is only about 4% of the population that is actually gay! Contrary to the highly promoted and ever increasing prevalence that That agenda tries to permeate our lives with, convincing us that it is so much more rampant than it is.

You might even consider sharing this post with some young person you know, who could pass on these insights to someone else who is confused. I’ve already known these truths to set people free! You might be surprised how big these issues can rage in a young person’s mind.
And by not being afraid yourself to meet a person at the heart level here, you can be the facilitator of a soul set free.


Be Still – KNOW God

I have always been really good at being honest with the Lord telling him all I think and feel. And my mother taught me how to pray the word,  so I could go to prayer powerfully whenever I needed to use that tool also to strengthen my prayers. But somewhere in the last decade I began to realize that the Lord really doesn’t need to hear all my thoughts on every matter anymore – in fact he already knows them before I speak them. I’ve realized how much I just need to be quiet and to be still and to listen and to know my God. I have 10 truly dynamic children all very strong personalities and all very unique in their own ways. Every day, 4 or five of them need something from me that fits no pattern or formula from before that I need to be fresh for and hearing from on high.   I also life coach a couple of different and intense situations every day of my life. I have learned my greatest strength is in quietly slipping away for at least a few minutes a couple of times every day to absorb my God. No other agenda. I don’t pray. I just be quiet and still and turn my heart toward Father God.  I seek to connect with him. I invite him into invade me and I let him give me what only he can give me that he knows I need to love the people Who will be in front of me over the next few hours. I love my life! And the rhythm of my days. But I could not begin to keep up with it if I had not learned this secret that empowers me to love my world.

An Exercise of Love

Do you have someone in your life most difficult to love? It could be somebody who’s been around forever, like a relative. Or somebody newer in your life, like a boss. But it seems that most of us, at any given time, have at least one person that stretches us in our ability to love….Beyond what comes natural for us.

I believe one of the biggest purposes of this life’s journey is to learn to love – really well. What if you begin to view that person as if God placed him/her in your life JUST to stretch your capacity to love. No matter how much they treat you unfairly, or do not value and appreciate you, or how major or minor the irritation is…you may choose to be personally challenged to grow and stretch in your own ability to love and walk in Grace.

The Bible tells us to overcome evil with good. And whether the offense you feel is literally evil or not, you rise above it all and literally overcome it by choosing to love.
You can ask yourself in every circumstance with that person… What would love look like this time?

I highly recommend memorizing this key passage that most poignantly articulates what love looks like. It is first Corinthians 13:4-6, “Love is patient and kind. It is never jealous or envious, it is never boastful or proud, it is never haughty, selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It doesn’t even notice when others do things wrong. If you love someone you will be loyal to them, you will always expect the very best of them, and you always stay in your ground and defending them. Love never fails”! Let it be your instruction and guideline in every situation!

When you choose to love, you are empowered and feel yourself rise to a more noble place within. You feel bigger inside, in a good way. But when you choose to meet your challenger on their level, with what you feel they are dishing out, you feel as “low” as their behavior.
Every person in our life can teach us different things. And when we take those people who are the hardest to love – and we embrace the lesson that allows our capacity to love to grow – we have overcome. And we feel like an over comer!
We cannot control anything about another person. But we can allow everything to cultivate and contribute to our own growth!
I promise this Truth alone will help you to like your whole world and life better.

PS. And if all you can do is acknowledge to the Father that you do not have this capacity in yourself to love, and ask Him to “perfect His strength in your weakness” (my favorite promise) you will see “miracles”.

Are You Conflicted?

Universally speaking, we all struggle within ourselves – between good and bad, light and darkness.  It is up to us, every hour of our life, to choose which part we’re going to feed – the Good Strong man –  that represents God in us, or the Wolf, who represents our darkness, who is always seeking to kill, steal from us and destroy us.  Whenever you feed one – you’re starving the other. And today, with internet in our lives, I believe the struggle is more intense than ever before!

We are all so capable of the greatest and highest good. And debased evil.

This began as a letter to my own kids, then I realized how much most people could glean and benefit from it.
This is one of those post that if it’s the last thought I ever leave with the world I want everybody who’s ever listened to me to heed this!
A minor infraction of holiness crossed my radar this week from one of my own family.  It really stirred me up and got me thinking about how much we truly have to fight and resist evil, each and everyone of us, all the time. Paul elaborates on this in Romans 7. Please read this chapter if you are not familiar with this passage. I have learned whenever I struggle, to cry out to the Father to “perfect His strength in my weakness.”
There is a scripture that cries out “How can a young man keep his way pure, Or old man or young woman :), by keeping it according to Thy word.” So I have pulled up a few verses to meditate on and deeply ponder to truly assist us in our struggles.
These are worth memorizing and turning to as many times in a day as you need them.

Philippians 4:9 “Finally brothers, what ever is true, whatever is Noble, whatever is right, whatever is Pure, whatever is Lovely, whatever is Admirable – anything that is Excellent or Praiseworthy, think about these things and the God of peace SHALL BE WITH YOU.”  This is what cultivates Peace in our lives. When we feed the wolf, we are tormented in the process!

Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make EVERY effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.”  Wow…..Selah!

And finally, in this day of idle words and empty talk, here is a tremendous passage in Ephesians 4:29-5:7  “Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  BE kind, and compassionate with one another, forgiving each other, just as God, thru Christ forgave you.
Just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s Holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather Thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: NO immoral or impure of greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God and Christ.. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath, comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them.” Ouch!

Maybe time for many of us to repent and own and acknowledge before the Father our own transgressions. And then fully receive His forgiveness and Grace. And then walk in it!!
And remember – to the degree that you walk in His ways, you will have peace and joy. And when you choose your own ways, or that of your darker side, there is torment.
Philippians 4:9 “Finally brothers, what ever is true, whatever is Noble, whatever is right, whatever is Pure, whatever is Lovely, whatever is Admirable – anything that is Excellent or Praiseworthy, think about these things and the God of peace SHALL BE WITH YOU.”

A Possible Cause Of Breast Cancer

I am writing this because I feel a sense of responsibility to share what I have learned through my years, that could truly help someone struggling with cancer. And since I have a few friends dealing with breast cancer right now, I feel it is time to speak.

Years ago, David and I counseled people who came to an international cancer treatment center to be treated for cancer.  He worked with the men and I counseled with the women. They would come from all over the world, for at least a week at a time. We would counsel our patients for 2 full hours a day – during each of the 5 days they were being treated by the cancer team. It was intense.

The biggest thing we learned is that whenever someone is dealing with a life threatening illness, there is hope for recovery, as long as there is life and a desire to break through, no matter the cost.  Which means, the willingness to deal with whatever may have contributed to the illness in the first  place. When root causes are truly dealt with, it can literally reverse the disease.

I have come to believe that our personal unresolved relational issues effect our health more than any other contributing factor.  Science has discovered the correlation between specific organs in our bodies and the attitudes and injuries that effect their well-being.  For example, unresolved grief settles in the lungs, and has contributed to lung cancer.  Anger effects the kidneys the hardest. Unforgiveness and resentment break down health of all joints in the body and causes arthritic type problems, which unresolved can then go on to destroy everything else in the body, more than anything else does.

Trust me when I say – forgiveness is for your own self good and your own health as much as it is for anyone else. (Other blog post on that.)

But this is what I have learned about breast cancer. The breast are definitely tied to relationships and nurturing.  Science has proven that one side completely reflects relationships with family; your sisters, your mother, and mother types, like a grandmother. The other side has to do with your female relationships; friends, boss, etc.  Unfortunately, I do not remember which side is which.

But it is worth pondering and asking yourself if there are unresolved issues or relationship matters that you can deal with and settle in your heart. So that you may move on toward healing and wholeness.

I am not suggesting at all, that all breast cancer is relationship oriented, but there is a strong scientifically supported connection.  Of course, the root cause in any cancer, or terminal illness, may be nothing more than pure genetics.  Another could be an unhealthy diet.  Or even other random outside environmental contributors.

But it is worth always asking the questions, and seeking the answers, of what could be a contributing root factor.  And then dealing with that to the best of your ability.  Any area of life, where you can become more whole, in your quest for healing – will contribute to your overall healing.

We are complicated creations. Spirit, soul and body! And God promises us in James 1 that if we lack wisdom, we can ask and He will freely give it!  It is worth asking, “Father, what do You want to show me to make me whole; Spirit, soul and body??” I believe He wants us whole, not just “healed”. And they intrinsically effect one another.


“Cultivating Real Relationships with God in your Children”

Today I was asked “Toni- how did you encourage your children to learn to hear the voice of God? I know we lead by example but how do we foster their own passion for Him?”

The first thing I would respond to that question is to say SHOW THEM WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE. LIVE IT IN FRONT OF THEM! Real!
I heard a quote this week “Be careful that your work for God does not replace your relationship with God.” Unfortunately, I think that is what most people are showing their kids. And so the parents themselves are burnt out, disillusioned and weary of most everything. Not a life their kids want to duplicate or emulate.
My kids see the very real difference that the Lord makes in every hour of our lives. We are honest and real with them about problems or issues we are struggling with. They see us take it all to the Lord. Often we ask them to pray with us over things. But they are used to seeing Dave and I both pull aside, at frequent intervals, to connect with the Lord. They see the difference He makes in our own attitudes and our situations, as they arise.
A really important scripture in our home is “Be still and know that I am God.” So, I encourage that quite strongly and frequently. By my example and with my words. No matter how busy I am, they see my pull aside, for even minutes at at time, to KNOW my God. They know how I must draw from Him and His presence in order to do and be all that I am.
I have fought the American Way of Busyness however. They know the “margin” I make, to simply absorb my God. And I encourage them daily to do the same. I frequently ask them if they have taken time today to be still and Know Him, or hear from Him. I let them know how different He makes me – simply by absorbing Him.
Whenever they have had a particularly busy time, I always remind them, even my oldest ones of sacred quiet times alone. They know how I value that and have they learned the benefits of having a full soul and spirit, that only comes form time alone. They know the difference and treasure of living a life feeling “It is well with my soul” as opposed to feeling fried or empty. And they know when they run dry, what it takes to refill.
I have taught them that every time you are ever upset about anything – big or little – you RUN to the Father and honestly dump the contents of your heart. I have talked with them and acknowledged the universal temptation to run FROM God when we are upset and especially when we do not think He performs as we believe He should, even according to His own word. But that is always a recipe for disaster in our own hearts and catastrophic to our peace levels.j (To run from God.)
The key is to RUN toward Him and after you share honestly all that you are feeling – you must give Him time to meet you and give to you of Himself. Because He will! Sometimes you will get a direct answer to your problem or issue, but oftentimes it is simply His peace that changes everything!
As you begin to model this very real and thriving relationship yourself with the Father, and even share with your kids as you learn and grow and benefit from it, they will want the same thing.
And whenever they are struggling with anything, you might ask them (tenderly) if they have prayed about it. And then encourage them to listen to God – for He will so often speak – if we will ONLY give Him a chance.
If you pursue your own relationship with Father God as paramount to your very existence, because it is, they probably will too. And may I remind you, this has nothing to do with perfection. But it is all about being real and authentic with God and allowing HIm Lordship enough in your own heart to make all the differences only He can make. But that He is so good at making! This is a very organic and earthy process and truly the opposite of being religious. Which is all about appearances.
And performance.
The more you depend on God for your truest well-being – your children will also.

In the Center of God’s Will

I have always been one to fully live, embracing every moment for all it has to offer. But today, I have been graced with a paradigm altering revelation on this matter.

What if…..every moment of your life, every circumstance, every “cross”, every good and bad thing – was the Will of Father God for you; “ordained, arranged or permitted by Father for you” –  to teach you more of His love –  in a new or richer way than you have ever experienced His love before?

Most of my family are avid readers. We have a passion for learning.  But this morning I was reading one of my favorite theologians, Jean-Pierre de Caussade.  He said we can’t even “learn” from books alone. They are like the dough that must be leavened with the yeast of experience to become fully cooked in our lives.  We learn from the Holy Spirit – who is intimately teaching each and every one of us, in the moment by moment existence of our lives.  
No matter how educated you become, or how much you study in your life on any matter, even the Bible, you will always learn your truest and richest lessons, intimately constructed for your journey from the Holy Spirit, within your own heart and your life journey with other people.
Remember that scripture that says “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, CONCERNING YOU.”  ( 1 Thess. 5:18 )
Could it really be true?
What if we maintained this grateful awareness that Father was really in charge of every detail of our lives.  If any moment we struggled with something, anything, we would consider ……..what is Father trying to teach and show me now about His love for me, in a new or different way?
For sure, it could make our lives more palatable and acceptable, in so many diverse ways and moments, that would otherwise unnerve us. 

Why don’t you try today and this week – tuning into and considering every circumstance as an ordained and custom-made moment for you and your growth and development as a son or daughter of Father God Himself! “And consider it all joy” (James 1:2-4)
“All that happens to a soul, abandoned to God , is all that is necessary for it.”   Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Parenting Hearts ~ Rather than Actions

It is not for us to conform our children into our own image, but to cultivate them into the unique people Father God created them to be.

At different stages of their growth and development, this takes various approaches.  You, as their parent, want to continually be connecting to the Father about His heartfelt love for your child.  I want you to understand the implications and what it looks like, with your children, to live life – from the heart.  With your newborns….all the way to your adult children.

Something occurred to me yesterday, almost like an epiphany, while talking on the phone to my cousin about her new baby.  She has read all the important and current thoughts on how crucial it is to get your baby on a schedule.  Let me tell you…my first 3 had no schedules whatsoever.  My last 7 were raised with a schedule.  And I have done almost everything one can do, when it comes to scheduling.

I believe in using schedules to assist you in helping to raise and develop your children.  I would recommend a general guideline and skeletal structure for your day.  To this day, I always have a loose schedule of what the day will look like and consist of for myself and my children.  But schedules should be general guidelines, not cast in stone.  If one of your children needs to be loved, nurtured, or assisted in any way, they are your priority.  People are not interruptions, they are our purpose, especially our own children.

When a baby cries because they simply want to be held and loved by their parent, is that a crime for us to punish or discourage, by withholding our love and affection?

If we leave a baby to “cry it out” as most would recommend today in our culture, the baby will learn to accommodate your priorities and your convenience.  But if that is at the expense of putting part of their heart on a shelf, or closing it down, so to speak, is it worth it?  Say your baby is crying and you know it is because she only wants to be held and loved by you. You have been told that to cater to that will spoil her. NO, It will teach her that to love and be loved is most important and valuable. To not “cater” to that universal and valid need, most intense in babies, will teach her to shut that down…that it doesn’t matter.

Granted, I know…there are times you must simply let them cry.  But not as the norm.  And I will hereby acknowledge, some are far needier than others. But if you will make it your goal to fill your child’s emotional cup and honor her desires for your love and attachment, while she is needing that of you…you will have a far happier and more adjusted child to raise.

Most parents make it their goal to impose all the “norms”, as they see them, of their society, culture, class, and religious systems on their children. However well the kids live up to all of these countless expectations and rules of behavior, determines how “good” and “accepted” a child is to their parents.  And even more importantly to many parents, is how well the parents themselves will then look to their world of friends, peers, fellow church members, and co-workers.

But to “parent hearts” is a much different approach than parenting actions. It is about genuinely caring about whatever your child thinks and feels.  From very early on, we teach our children that they may always tell us what they are thinking, or present to us any new information they want us to consider, but it must be spoken respectfully and with honor.  (That is our rule.)

Here is a simple fact, whether your child is a baby or 10 years old, in a very short number of years, they will be 21 years old.  If you have not connected with their hearts before they leave for college, or when they move out of your home into their own place, you have lost valuable time and influence in their most formative years.  You might still get the chance to connect at the heart level post the move out, but it usually is after they have stumbled along in their journey, or you have had a change of heart and interact with them from a new heart stance.

Don’t be afraid to take the time and energy to listen to what is going on in their thought processes, without being a negative wet blanket.  Here is a great quote of Aristotle that our family loves, “The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Know that your children will weigh and consider many thoughts, without adopting them.  You don’t want them to feel that you judge their every thought.  You really don’t have to.  Often they will come to much reason themselves, when they hear their own words from their own mouths, as they share their thought with you.

It is about creating an environment where they are comfortable expressing anything and everything, without condemnation or judgement from their parents. Even controversial things!

If they are thinking or feeling anything, it matters to us, their parents!

We have never belittled them, shamed them, or made them feel that their thoughts or feelings are insignificant or invalid.

Because they are convinced their hearts matter so much to us, they feel very safe talking to us about anything.  Nothing is “off limits” in our conversations with our kids. We all love to bring things to the table to discuss and explore together. And because we LOVE AND LISTEN, they are much more inclined to listen back – to any input we have on any matter and allow us to influence their thinking and thought processes. And that my friends – is a mighty privilege of parenting – never to be taken lightly or abused.

Even as Father God Himself did not dictate to us how we must think, feel, and act, but He gave us guidelines and then the freedom to walk out our walks. And journey our journeys. And struggle through our struggles. Might we learn from His parenting skills?

He comforts. He listens. He loves. He affirms. He approves. He is always “there”, loving us unconditionally.

He never condemns. He doesn’t give up. He does allow us to suffer our own consequences. He always believes the best of us.

But He is not into boxed behavior norms. Look around you….consider every person you know. Every one of those personalities, with all their tendencies, idiosyncrasies and uniquenesses – HE FASHIONED EACH ONE OF US IN OUR UNIQUENESS FOR HIS ULTIMATE PLEASURE!

With only 10 kids myself…I marvel at how different each one is.  And honestly, I am crazy about each one, just as He fashioned and formed them. I am not looking at any one, wishing they could just be more like the other, or like me. I am looking at them individually and recognizing each is so different in all they will offer the world and each of the relationships they develop with others in their own lives, and their unique relationships with Father God.  These heart values are what we want to see, so that they reach their greatest fulfillment in this life.

Some of you know that I have homeschooled all my children their entire lives. My third and fourth, Samuel and Daniel, are now thriving, in every sense of the word, at Oral Roberts University. They are both making 4.0’s and Sam was just rewarded “This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award in Management for the School of Business”.  Lest anyone think this is due to my wonderful homeschooling, let me encourage you with something.

If you think about it, you can recall very quickly a number of adults you know or have known, who have struggled their entire lives to learn who they are and if they really matter or have any real value. They are forever trying to “prove” themselves – not only to themselves, but to the rest of their world.

But when kids grow up – COMPLETELY CONVINCED THEY ARE LOVED AND ADORED AND WHAT THEY THINK AND FEEL MATTERS – it puts them way ahead in their lives. They are not living needing to convince themselves of this most important Truth – they already believe that Father God and their parents love them. They don’t have to waste their lives establishing that basic foundation for success. They are free to go on and live their lives and be the people they are supposed to be.

This is truly the greatest gift we can give them!

We have invested in our children’s lives with a very specific agenda. To build these foundations in them – so they may LAUNCH forth, not questioning if they are loved. We want them to know they are completely loved and accepted, no matter what! And that every person they ever meet is to be honored and respected as an adored son or daughter of Father God. We teach them to work hard, really hard.  They all carry great responsibilities and know what it takes to be their best. We use good educational materials  and we live in a real life lab, our home.  Our home is a melting pot of people – coming through it year after year, from all walks of life, cultures, and countries of the world.  And on top of all that  – we cultivate a real relationship with Father God. (I think that will be my next blog post.)

They are REAL people. They are not afraid of their own hearts, thoughts, or inclinations. And they are not threatened by anyone else’s either. They are open to listen, hear, and consider from others completely. They love freely and easily.  But they also KNOW who they are, and what their life is about.

I am not an amazing homeschooler. (My sister is though. 🙂 We don’t seek to produce academic geniuses, or great athletes (though that happens as a byproduct of loving them unconditionally). We work with however their hearts are inclined. After seeking to develop whole and healthy HEARTS, SOULS AND SPIRITS, (That is OUR job), we rest in knowing they will be the people they were created to be. And we never feel as if we have to force any thought or any action upon them.

The more you honor your children’s hearts, from birth on, rather than trying to control them, the more they will honor yours, and everyone else’s. And this my friend, is a critical key to helping them live the richest life possible.

Cater To Or Control – Love Is The Answer

Yesterday, this question was posed to me by a family member on my Facebook profile wall, by tagging me in an ongoing conversation this family member was having with another relative of ours.  I could not answer the question in a simple sentence, because there is so much basic parenting philosophy needed here in the answer.  So, first the question, then my response.

Here it is as follows:  “Toni Lee Swain Fowler will have a Godly mother’s advice for you so I’m tagging her so she can give you the advice that you need.  Toni, Jennifer’s first-born is now a toddler, getting out of her toddler bed wanting to go join mommy & daddy every hour through the night. A baby gate now keeps her in her room but she is crying & no one is getting any sleep. With your wisdom & experience I felt led to send this to you so you can provide your loving God-given wisdom.”

Because I have been at this parenting thing a long time and had many children to experiment and prove my lessons with – I am going to present you with 2 different lines of thought, for you to choose which one you best resonates with you.

I breast-fed my first-born child for 2 years, absolutely around the clock, like almost non-stop.  At fifteen months, he was still sleeping with us and nursing all night long.  As I complained to my pediatrician, he laughed and explained to me that you can break a little one of any habit in less than 5 days. He proceeded to tell me how.

After you know you have met all of his needs, you put him in his bed and explain that he WILL sleep there all night long. The doctor told me that he may cry for an hour, but do not pick him up or take him out of the bed.  I could occasionally reassure him from the bedroom door.  The doctor said the second night would be better and by the third night – he should get it.

Well, that first night he threw a raging tantrum and didn’t let up for 5 full hours, while the whole time I cried in the other room. Then he slept!  The second night he only cried 45  minutes….then he went to sleep for the night!  And by the third night, the crying only lasted about 5 minutes.  From then on, he slept through the night in his own bed and bedroom!!  I was blown away!

After that, I allowed each baby to sleep in our bed for the first 6 weeks.  I believe they thrive so much more remaining as connected as possible to their mother.  But then I put them in their own bed, in my room.  And that is usually because my master bedroom has usually been rather far from my baby nursery.  But within several months, they do move to their own bedrooms. 🙂

However, after they initially get this sleeping thing down, there is a different neediness that happens in little ones emotionally.  And we have learned that it is no crime for a child to want to be with their parents, as much as possible.  And as much as we can give them that closeness, as they indicate a need for it, it will make them more secure for their lifetime.

In the case of the 3-year old, I would highly encourage an evening of cuddling and closeness before bedtime.  At least for an hour, make the child your priority.  Just focus on filling her emotional “cup”, full of affection and love.  Let her feel that she is the most important thing/person to you and that you are not in a hurry to “be done with her”.  While you are cuddling and loving her, reading to her (while holding her), playing with her, praying with her, or whatever, each night explain that you will expect her to go to sleep in her room and stay the night in her bed.

Three year olds can began to understand almost anything if you will patiently explain it to them. The trick is talking about all these difficult issues, while they are happy and you are focused on them.  Then you obtain their consent during happy moments away from the circumstance, like bed time.  You help them understand your thinking and reasonable rationale. They will usually even agree with you. Then you remind them of your earlier talk at bedtime, by making a similar consistent statement to her, like “Mercy, we love you, I have read to you, cuddled with you, worshipped with you, and prayed with you, but now it is your bed time.  After I put you in your bed, you will go to sleep”. This is very effective if you do it consistently!

Different personalities show varying levels of neediness, at different times.  We have also found that at different times they need one parent over the other.  And surprisingly enough, we have found it is the strongest temperaments and those that become the most independent, who seem to “need” us the most as little ones.  Whenever any of our younger ones indicate a need for more “cup filling”, we make it our priority.

I always stop what I am doing, whenever a child wants hugs, kisses, affections or needs attention. They are not interruptions to my life, they are my life. THEY ARE OUR PRIORITY!!!

After having 7 boys, with one girl who came second, we ended our line up with 2 girls.  Angels I might add. 🙂 We are not nearly as “functional” or “legalistic” as we used to be, we have grown more and more relational throughout our parenthood. We enjoy being with them, as much as they want to be with us, especially in the evenings.

After all the day’s activities are accomplished, they just want to cuddle and “hang” with us.  So, in the last year or two, David and I have begun letting the 2 girls, aged 6 and 10, sleep in our room a few nights a week, but not in our bed.  It has to be approved by Mom and Dad first, not assumed.  And then the girls and I all get in my big bed together and have “girl time”.  Very sweet.

Then when Dad comes into the bedroom, he moves them onto the couch and pallet.  It works for all of us and is very special to them.  They feel extremely loved and prioritized!!  They know we love to be with them and don’t just do what we have to as parents, sort of tolerating them.  Please never let your children feel that you simply tolerate them.

As the parent, you must decide if your little one is needing healthy habits and boundaries to be established, or simply needs more of you.  Both are critical to healthy development, whole and thriving little people that then become awesome big people.

And I will add here….as children get older, contrary to popular belief, the goal is not to control them, but to “journey” with them.  Always seeking to understand their hearts, thoughts and motivations. You will be far more effective in leading them and guiding them from this place of trusted relationship, where they feel you respect them as a developing spirit, soul, and mind.

The opposite is what creates and cultivates rebellion.

I have written a few other blog post that I recommend here:

In July of 2009 (scroll down on the left column of my blog to that month.) I wrote a very full post, loaded with parenting nuggets called – “Fit Throwing Toddlers and Infants, Whining, Self-Control and Discipline”

In August of 2009 – “Be Encouraged….It’s Never to Late”

In February of 2013 – “Avoiding Rebellion – Even with your Teens – A Huge Secret to Happy Kids”

10 Things you may not know about me ~

1.) IN all my busyness, I  diligently protect enough “margin” (time alone with God and my family) in my life and days to live deeply at peace and stand still on the inside – no matter how much all spins on the outside.
2.) My soul finds Ultimate pleasure in the many dimensions of God I encounter and experience through every human I am allowed to cross paths with!!
3.) My deepest heart ache goes to children who are not properly loved. I wish I could take every child in the world – who isn’t/wasn’t lavished and adored and love them myself – even as much as I have been allowed the privilege of loving my own ten.
4.) I drink deeply of God directly through the sun. And a full moon. And all of nature.
5.) I have never lived “inside the box” and don’t want to be put in one when I die. I want to be cremated and thrown back into the ocean. Or for that matter, save a step and throw me overboard from a ship. But into the ocean….where I have spent so much of my life longing to be.
6.) I thoroughly enjoy drinking, mostly wine, but have NO desire to get drunk! I have drank regularly since I was 16, except when I was on ORU honor code. And I have never been close to drunk.
7.) I enjoy cigars – especially in my most sacred prayer times. (Goes back to native american indian ritual).
8.) My 5th generation back grandfather was Pushmatahaw – the greatest Choctaw Chief. (I even have a Choctaw name – Montema Yukpa. It means “Joyful deliverer of that which is sacred.”)
9.) My great-grandfather, Earl Jessup, co-founded and named the Assembly of God denomination.
His son, Charles Jessup, my dad’s father, was a great healing evangelist of the 20th century. He began tent revivals with the biggest tent Barnum and Bailey had ever created. He had the first hospital that combined prayer and medicine. And Oral Roberts and Elvis Presley both claimed him as their role model. (But I praise God for Oral Roberts and how much farther he actually took the Goodness of God!)
10.) I honestly believe the passionate and Victorious love of God is bigger and greater than any of us have ever begun to understand and in the end that GOD’S LOVE will win bigger than anything we can wrap our little minds around.

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