God the Father – The Ultimate Key on our Parenting Team

Today, my heart sings and rejoices over the work of God in my children’s lives, so deep and intimate. My boys becoming such amazing men. Thank you Father for your promise “Great peace shall my children have, for they shall be taught of the Lord.”!  Thank you for being the Ultimate Father and teaching my children yourself and making up for the difference in all the areas we fail or lack.

I want to share with you one of the most encouraging chats the Father and I had many years ago, about parenting. Out of nowhere, He asked me “Do you have any idea how big a decision it was for me to trust parenting to the human race?”  Before I could even answer, He laughed and said, “No, you have NO idea.  Even the most perfect parents, with the most perfect hearts, can only be perfect for a few days at a time, without blowing something.  And every human has weaknesses and blind spots, they do not even know they have. (Yippee, right?) But the beauty of My plan, is that where ever I am invited into make up the differences, I love to do just that! ”
WHAT FREEDOM!  And relief from the myth of being a perfect parent. Soo, knowing how “human” we are, David and I fully embraced this offer and invitation and believed it with all of our hearts. I don’t think anyone, who cares, could use this as a cop out. Because every caring, loving parent truly wants to do all they can possibly do for their kids, and yet we all know how much we fall short of perfection. Right???
“Sit with that” as my dear Yvonne always says.  Ask the Lord to even reveal more to you of the Magnificence of His offer here and get it deep in your heart.  You are not at this parenting thing alone!!!  He has promised to make up for all your lack and differences – where you don’t “meet the mark”. What great confidence and security this can bring to us, when we get a hold of this Truth in our life!  What peace!!
And what a beautiful work we get to behold as the Father works in our children’s hearts and lives, completely separate from us.  It is a daily occurrence in my life, having all these children to watch, and it still amazes me every time.  I stand in awe of God and the difference He makes in my children’s life.
The ways He pursues them, draws them to Himself, challenges them, inspires them, corrects them and tells them sweet secrets is incredible to me.
Now, I do know – that He is doing that – even if you have not asked Him to. But it is HIS GREAT PLEASURE TO JOIN YOU, ON YOUR PARENTING TEAM, AND BE INVITED TO LITERALLY MAKE UP FOR YOUR DIFFERENCES OR LACK. I believe the more we ask, the more involved He becomes. And I know a little bit, of how MUCH we all need HIM.

There is a scripture that says, “God perfects all that concerns us.” Get real honest with Him today and let Him know all your concerns. Submit them to Him and invite Him in  – to make all the differences only He can make – but that He is sooo good at making! And then….Go your way….Listening (in case He gives you something new for them), Trusting and literally Rejoicing!

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Avoiding Rebellion – Even With Your Teens – A Huge Secret to Happy Kids

 

ARE you struggling with rebellion in any of your kids? I would like to humbly share with you a huge principle that God dropped in our hearts, when we began this parenting adventure 27 years ago.  I talk to parents everyday, and hardly ever have I ever talked with another parent with this same conviction/understanding toward their parenting.  And so that you do not think  I /we are totally crazy and have come up with something completely erroneous, I will tell you that our 7th child turned teenager last fall.  As he did,  I pondered the 6 teenagers we have had, and realized we have never dealt with “teenage rebellion”.  We fight and argue with them, just like every good marriage fights and argues. But we have always delighted in them and enjoyed them immensely, far more than we ever struggled with them. As I reflected on why…..I realized it is because we always treat them with dignity and respect and honor, from the moment they are born, as human beings who have a right to all that they think and feel. And we love them intensely.
 As I asked them all their thoughts on this matter, Sam responded with a quote his friend Joel told him that his dad says (Our pastor Roger). “Rules and Regulations, WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP, causes rebellion.” We have always cared far more about their hearts than their behaviors. So, in that process, they have learned how to “behave” beautifully and be a blessing to their worlds – from their own hearts. Make sense?

Unfortunately, most parents go about this backwards. If a child trespasses, in any area, the parents deals with the trespass.  But our higher concern, has always been what is going on in their hearts? What are they thinking and feeling?? The Lord Himself has taught David and I both to always run to Him in complete honesty with whatever we are thinking, rather than running away. He has always “validated” our hearts and thoughts and helped us then to grow from that point of honesty. So, that is what we do with our kids. We never attempt to “shame” them for anything they feel or struggle with. We acknowledge their humanness. We talk about the difference the Lord wants to make and that He can make in their situations, and understandings and inclinations. We all acknowledge together, our desperate need for Him. We are very comfortable with our humanness and theirs. We KNOW that we only rise above our humanness, to any point of strength, as we submit our weaknesses for Him to perfect His strength in.
Anytime, any of our kids are struggling in any area, this is what we want to get to the core of….what is going on in their hearts. For as the heart comes into alignment, so do our actions. It would behoove us all to remember how much God Himself talks about looking at the heart of every matter, and every person, far more than He is concerned with the superficial reflections thereof.

(Back in July of 09, I wrote a post called “I am Ashamed” that may also bring further insight on this subject.)

My son Daniel is an RA at Oral Roberts University. Recently, he had to deal with a couple of boys caught for repeated marijuana usage. I reminded him to attempt to find out what was going on in their hearts and lives that propagated the action, even more importantly than disciplining them for it immediately. He smiled and responded, “I know Mom, that is what I am doing.”

When your kids believe that you care about their actual struggles and feelings and thoughts, they are much more inclined to want to listen to your input and opinions. I want to share a story from my college days… A situation I had with my Daddy. There was a period of time that I dated a few of the black basketball players on our ORU team. (Never mattered to me what color anyone is.) My Dad was always trying to convince me that this was wrong, according to scripture. So one day, on the phone, while he was home in Houston and I was in Tulsa, we got in this huge wonderful debate. (Fight). I made him present to me every scripture he could to support his case, and basically refuted each one, based on context, etc.
At the end, he conceded and admitted that it may not be wrong scripturally, but that it was a huge struggle culturally. And that marriage was hard enough, when you came from all the same backgrounds in common and understood each other’s roots completely. Since my Dad felt so strongly about it, I realized then that The Lord probably had a white man in mind for me and I could avoid a lot of needless heartbreak by honoring my Daddy. So I did. And he was right, about my life.
But I will tell you, if any of my children chose anyone of a different race or color, it would not be an issue with me in the least.
I honored my Dad because He was willing to hear my heart and express his heart to me.

Kids need to know what we think and believe. That is why our kids were given to us (specifically). But it is not our duty or right to tell them how they must live. WE give them all that we can, and then trust the Spirit of God to move in their lives.  I will go so far as to say….if you forbid anything, it is almost interpreted to them as an invitation, as soon as they can get away with it.  Is that not what Father God dealt with in the garden with His very first kids?? Selah
I have just never seen forbidding work, as a successful parenting tool.
I hope I don’t step on too many toes here, or offend your senses, but I want to share something very honestly, to maybe spare you the pain of children who leave your home and then “freak out”, or go over the edge.

This is simply a great illustration of the whole principle I am talking about. Let’s talk about drinking alcohol.
IF you have alcoholism in your family blood line, it is probably not a wise thing to have it in your home for everyone to freely consume. Or if you are in a some position of leadership that you have chosen to never drink, because you don’t want to cause anyone to stumble, then that is all good. It is important for you to share all these thoughts and convictions with your children. But let them discuss things with you and ask you questions, without “threatening” your authority. And you should be honest enough with them to let them know they will not go to hell if they consume alcohol, or any other such behavior that you do not support.

American Christians seem to be more hung up on this than anyone worldwide. Jesus wasn’t. There is no valid “excuse” for his very first “Miracle”. WE all know what that miracle was.
 May I share with you some of my real history here? I was raised in a very Godly home. The Lord was the center and focus of all that we did and lived for. I began having a glass of wine with dinner, with my Dad, around the age of 16. Legal age at that time in TX was 18. He told me not to drink outside of the house. And when I was on ORU Honor Code I did not drink.
But I have maintained a glass, early in the evening, for 3-4 nights a week my entire life. To this day, and I am 50 years old, I have never been close to drunk or even tipsy. When our kids turn 18, we allow them to have wine with us. No one ever drinks more than a glass. And I have many Christian friends who share our belief system here, and our wine, and I have yet to ever see one person, family or friend anywhere close to tipsy here.
WE teach our children that you never need more than one drink of anything really, but water. One glass of wine, one glass of milk or juice, one soda, etc., and then water. All you want of it! And so my whole family is quite comfortable with moderation and does not feel any need to go beyond our home to try anything more.

Yes, we firmly believe you should share with your children all your beliefs and convictions. And then as they come of age, let them be their own people. God does. He accepts and adores everyone of us – where ever we are on our journeys.  Allow your children the precious gift of being able to talk to you about anything that matters to them, even encouraging them to “think out loud” and process with them. You will probably be fascinated with your children’s minds and souls and their abilities to think for themselves. Cultivate that! Do not stifle it.

I am sorry if any of this offends you, or rubs you wrong. I felt a huge need for honesty here, since most parents I know are struggling significantly – over these very points. I will tell you most genuinely….all 10 of my children have very authentic and thriving relationships with the Lord themselves. None of us come close to perfect, but Jesus is truly the focus and Lord of each one of our hearts and lives.

IF YOU WILL MAKE KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING THE HEARTS OF YOUR CHILDREN A HIGHER PRIORITY THAN POLICING ALL OF THEIR ACTIONS, YOU WILL FIND, AS WILL YOUR CHILDREN, THERE IS NOTHING TO REBEL AGAINST.

(A word from my son Caleb.) Hey there, this is Caleb – 17 year old son of David and Toni Fowler. My mom asked me to read this blog to give her feedback and correction, if she needed it. She also gave me permission to add a comment. I happily accepted!
So before I say my piece, I’d like to make a quick disclaimer here: I may not be quite as polite with my wording as my mother is, I strongly believe in everything my mom just said, and everything I’m about to say. That being said, if I offend you with this, then I apologize. However, I’m going to say it anyway because I believe that it needs to be said. So if I do offend any of you, and you happen to live in our area, well then by all means please confront me about it to let me know how many “toes I stepped on.” I will be more than willing to converse individually with anyone who wants.

Though everything my mom blogs on are things that her and my dad have taught all us kids our entire life, I always get something out of them. This particular subject however has a certain significance to me. Just in the last couple years of my life, I’ve really come to realize just how special my parents are. I couldn’t be more thankful for the way that they have raised me, and a large majority of it happens to be about this topic right here.

When you’re told not to do something, what does that make you want to do?  Parents have to realize that us kids, we’re people too. I want you to think about the last person that you met. Were they nice?  Respectable?  Did they give you a firm handshake or make eye contact?  Did they make you feel like you matter and are important?  Or perhaps they blew you off, failed to even ask your name, etc. How did that make you feel?  Did you feel dis-respected? Maybe you felt because they didn’t show you any respect, why should you show them any?
That right there, is the thought process that kids have, toward their parents. Though it may sound crazy, parents have to first teach respect by giving respect to their kids, and then trust me, it will be returned. In the days we live in now, kids around my age are beginning to search for who they are.  And for most parents, that is inconveniently the age that we get our drivers license. If you have a kid who’s about to get his/her license, and that worries you more than it should, then I think it’s time to check your parenting.  As parents, it’s your job to make sure that your kids are confident in who they are in Christ. That is far more significant than any rule you could ever give us.

It is because I have been given respect by my parents, and  because I know who I am in Christ, that  I’ve never had the need to go out and party or get drunk. Parents, you guys have to realize that to us, a drivers license is freedom. So when most kids hit the age of 16 and acquire their license, if we don’t know who we are, we’re going to go searching in places that we shouldn’t.
My parents have always shown us love, and acceptance, and respect.  It’s out of this love that we want to honor them, kind of like how our relationship with God should be.

Please, take it from me, a 17 year-old kid. If you truly respect your children, and will raise them this way, they will respect you in return.

PS. Caleb is going on missions this summer to Panama and Costa Rica. He is raising those funds now for his trip. He works 2 jobs along with being a full time student and is doing really well at all of it! If you would like to donate any money to help him you may make checks out to “One to the Other” Ministries”, with his name in the memo. Our mailing address is 8177 S. Harvard, # 711, Tulsa, Ok. 74137. Thank you!

A Suggested Meditation ~

Over the years, I have come to progressively realize how much less I need to tell the Lord all that I think and feel and how much more I simply need to absorb HIM! I have shared with you some of this journey, especially in my post “Be still and Know that I am God”.
I am currently reading this wonderful book by Henri Nouwen, called “Spiritual Direction – Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith” that is tremendous. It is about our very real journeys in building real relationships with the Lord.
Nouwen outlines this one “meditation”, that is so complete, and covers everything. I believe it could sustain a beautiful growing relationship with the Lord for a very long time.
He recommends “For the first ten minutes or so, you repeat the following words slowly and fervently “JESUS, YOU ARE THE BELOVED.” Allow you heart and mind to fill with Praise, as you let this Truth permeate your being.
For the next 10 minutes or so, you repeat and ponder, “JESUS, I AM THE BELOVED.” IF you would let that sink in to every cell and fiber of your being, that conviction alone could change your life.
And the final affirmation to meditate on, and it is a biggee :), is “JESUS, WE ARE ALL THE BELOVED.” Let that settle into your heart and enable you to have compassion and forgiveness for the people and situations that have undone you.

I have realized that anytime you have angst in your heart, you may probably relieve it by focusing your heart and attention on one of these affirmations.
May they soften and free your soul as you access the very heart of God, through these 3 most important Truths.

Jesus is the Beloved!
You are the Beloved!
And we are all the Beloved!!

That is enough to change your day, and your life, if you really allow it. SELAH

YOU ARE MY BELOVED!

Do you know what the greatest words of love ever spoken were?? God, the Father, over His son Jesus, when He said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” But the exciting and relevant thing to us today is this is still the Father’s heart, over every one of His sons and daughters. This is what He is saying to you!!! When He looks at you, He sees the righteousness of Christ, because Jesus already took care of all your sins. And God happens to be crazy about the very uniqueness of YOU! That is why He made you just as you are. It is your privilege to step into this magnificence and become all the Father sees when He looks at you, because of Jesus.

A scripture I have taught my children is “Live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Our highest calling…? To be the Beloved Sons and Daughters of Almighty God, in whom He is well pleased! That is not to overwhelm you or intimidate you. But to inspire you. “There is NO Condemnation in Christ Jesus!” Others may condemn you. You may even condemn yourself. (Usually that is the worst.) But Father God does NOT!!!

And it is your gift back to Him, to treat everyone in your world as the same – Beloved Sons and Daughters of God – even as you are!

NOW BE THE LOVE HE CREATED YOU TO BE!!!

Children Leaving the Nest ~

All of a sudden, my four oldest are out of the house. Though I have 6 left, and an extra kid living here for a year, these 4 have consumed my life, for most of my life. OHHH the ache…..for I have adored doing life with them and my world feels vastly, hugely and painfully different. I KNOW…..it’s all good. JUST ACHES…….

This was my thought one morning early last fall. I wanted to share a few more thoughts now, after having successfully navigated those first few months.

I have home schooled all of my children, virtually all of their lives. I am not the amazing academic teacher that my sister is, though I will tell you my two at Oral Roberts University are maintaining straight A’s. (Much more to their credit, than mine!)
But I am a nurturer. And I am good at teaching very real life and how to live it and love it and thrive. One of my strengths is taking everything that comes along and using it to make teachable moments and life long lessons out of. Whenever we all get together, inevitably I will tell them, with some excitement, “Oh, I have something to share with ya’ll”. To which my oldest son, Josh, always responds, with a smile, “Of course you do Mom.”
I have spent the last 27 years teaching, correcting and pouring everything I can into the amazing children Father has privileged my life with.

All that to say…..as soon as my 4 oldest left home, I was very aware of the fact that my parenting style would have to change to accommodate these “adults” now. Over a decade ago, we had transitioned with them, as early teenagers from expecting obedience to being their primary influencer, based on relationship. But I knew this change was even more than that. I really felt rocked. All new territory, that we had not been before. For those who know me well, you know how my favorite prayer is for the “Lord to perfect His strength in my weakness”. So, I began with that.

And then I sat each of my kids down and humbly and most honestly confessed that I would need them to teach me how to walk this new territory with them. I asked them to please remain honest with me and tell me anything they wished I knew, as they realized it. For example, I said “If one day you think to yourself, I wish Mom would not call me so much. Or even, I wish she would call me more. Then PLEASE TELL ME THAT! Every thing that you figure out that you wish I would figure out, I want you to tell me and I will grow and accommodate. And “Please, be patient with me. I am learning a new life, even as you are. But I want to learn and do this right, by you.”

As I was truly seeking to be the best new mom to “adult” children that I could be, I had a few people speak into my life some pivotal lessons right when I needed them. Fortunately for my kids, I realized they did not need an “object lesson” of everything anymore. I am really trying not to advise them, unless they ask. I probably pray more than ever for each of them. And not desperate prayers, seeking to control in any way any more, but for the Mercies of God all over their lives. That they would continue learning and growing in the Lord, even as I feel David and I still are – every day of our lives.
I love the scripture “Great peace shall my children have, for they shall be taught of the Lord.” It gives me great peace……and joy. I soo believe that they will all continue being taught by Father God Himself and He will guide and protect their journeys. And I trust the Holy Spirit’s ability to move in their lives, even as He does in mine.

It is a special place I maintain in their hearts and lives now and I feel that I am growing and learning so much in this new territory. Now it actually feels sweet to me.
I will admit, I miss the heck out of their daily presence in my home and at my table. And I have shed a few sweet tears over all the lifetime of preciousness shared, that is different now. But I am loving the new rich relationships growing with them and all their significant others. (Their “extremeties” as my sister calls them.)

Embrace each new season, knowing it is ok that you do not know all of it’s lessons yet. Just seek to learn and know that each new season will require you to grow in new and deeper and different levels of love than you may have ever needed before. And that is a beautiful thing, if you will go there, with that heart attitude. And believe me, the Father is always willing to teach us when we are willing to learn. I am taking new joy in my adult children as I watch the unique ways they all process thru everything, with honest hearts before God that seek Him and want His ways.

“ALL IS WELL. ALL IS WELL. AND ALL SHALL BE WELL!” (Jesus to Julian of Norwich) and I believe it!

My Personal Philosophy ~

written Nov. 10th, 2012

My personal philosophy for life…….TRUST (in the Father) always. REST (in Him). BE STILL (on the inside). BREATHE (inhale all that is good. exhale all that is bad).
CHOOSE LOVE EVERY TIME!
TAKE DELIGHT (in all that is good).
CHOOSE JOY.
There will always be “muck”. Shake it off. Don’t let it waste valuable and limited space in your heart and head.
CHOOSE TRUST,
LOVE
AND JOY
AND YOU WILL LOVE YOUR LIFE, no matter what.

(All confirmed by Phil: 4:9)