Tag Archives: parenting

Is God a Snitch?

My son asked this of me the other day.

“Is God a snitch?”

Max was not particularly happy when he asked me this question. He was late getting home from a friend’s house. I had greeted him with the question, “So…where were you?”

“You know. I already told you I was going to Hank’s house,” came his cautionary reply.

“I know that’s where you told me you were going. But where were you really?” I raised an eyebrow and tried to look stern. Inside I was giggling, I knew he hadn’t been at his friend’s home.

“Fine. I went to Monte’s house.” He was honest. That was a huge plus in my book!

“I  knew that is where you went.”

Max was exasperated. “Mom! Quit praying that stupid prayer! Is God a snitch?”

Max was referring to a prayer I began praying about eight years ago. It goes something like this: Dear Lord, please grant me the wisdom to be the type of parent you want me to be. Reveal to me only what I need to know, today, to be that kind of parent – that I might protect the children you have placed in my care. That I would be wise, merciful, gracious and loving AND fully informed!

God has been so faithful in answering that prayer. Totally on a need to know basis.

When my children are in trouble, when they aren’t where they say they will be, when they need to confess something, when they need an extra hug or encouragement – God lets me know.

I have three sons. God knows what I need to know and when I need to know it. I haven’t been able to protect my sons from everything – I guess I am not supposed to.

Sometimes it’s more about me trusting God, no matter what has happened or is happening.

God has also led me to the discovery of the firecracker in the toilet, the car rolled out of the driveway, the gasoline bomb and a few other ‘boy’ actions that I’m sure to share at a later date…

God also lets me know when I need to keep my mouth shut, my opinions to myself or when I need to disengage. I have learned, through His guidance, that it is often wise for me to go to my own ‘time out.’ Of course, I am still growing in all these areas…

God is not a snitch. He is a faithful God. There is no deceit in HIM. He is jealous for us (not of us). Anything that attempts to separate us from His love is unacceptable!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39).

I am convinced that God simply wants to help me train my child in the way he should go. How could I even try that without the grace, mercy and supernatural power of Jesus?

This is a two-way street!

My own faults and shortcomings are always revealed to me. The Lord often uses my children in this endeavor (bless their hearts…).

It’s only fair that we would both (parents and children) have an edifying, enlightening, loving, inspiring, life changing, personal and encouraging relationship with our Creator.

Isn’t that why He came?

Beneath the Questions

Have you ever tried to force something? Because you thought it was the right or best way? Even though the circumstances were telling you different? Even though everything pointed in the opposite direction? Even when it was hard? Did you give up? Give in? Surrender? Change your mind? Compromise? Or did you hold fast, rigid and determined to stay course? Your way or the highway? Is your way the ‘highest’ way?

What is your motive? How do you make your decisions? What about when there is no clear right or wrong?

Here is my dilemma. We have chose to homeschool our thirteen year old. Very specifically, at his tearful request to do so. Now six weeks later we are at his tearful request to NOT do so. What should we do?

It would be so easy for me to admit defeat and send him back to public school. You see, I have not ever felt called to home school.

I have felt homeschooling a better option for our son, Max, than public school (when HE was the driving force behind the the decision).

Why? Because he can’t sit still! He was labeled a ‘problem’ by many teachers. He has ADHD (although maybe it’s just ADH – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and the other D – Disorder is wrong, maybe it’s not a disorder at all, just how he rolls). When Max begged to homeschool, I thought maybe we stood a chance. Now when he is begging not to, our chances for success seem dwindling.

It would also be an easy decision to force homeschool, persevere and see what happens. The decision would be easy, but the day to day reality would be a completely different story. Arguments, head butting, not at all what I signed up for! I just don’t know if I have the fortitude for the trial. Not that we didn’t have arguments and head butting with public school – we simply had some other parties involved in the skirmish!

I am also not sure this is really all about homeschool. I think homeschool might be the surface topic, but what is underneath may be more important. So what is underneath? Because I really don’t want this to be about me. Yet I am half the equation in the homeschool dilemma.

And there lies the first ‘what lies beneath’: I believe my husband Jeff, Max’s father, should play a more active role if we are to homeschool.

Here are the other ‘underneaths’

  •  I love learning and school. Max doesn’t.
  • Max is becoming resentful toward me.
  • Max is more like Jeff than myself in personality, learning style, communication and love language.
  • Jeff quit school in the ninth grade (Yes you may read between the lines concerning Jeff’s view toward school…).
  • I have perfectionist tendencies – not a good teacher quality!
  • I love teaching and training – willing and eager students…
  • Jeff and I both have Attention Deficit traits ourselves (we are not the best ‘set and stick to a schedule’ people).
  • Structure is a great concept. We lack a team effort to maintain a daily structure.
  • I am losing all confidence in my ability to lovingly mother Max.
  • I am becoming resentful of my husband’s lack of interest in and support of: homeschooling, parenting and solution based action. I don’t want all these decisions to be mine alone!
  • Jeff feels attacked when I try to discuss my feelings on this situation with him.
  • Homeschooling was not on my radar, but I was willing to take it on if (and only if) Max was the driving force for his own success in the endeavor. And this has changed…

My other considerations:

  • Max has a tendency to relentlessly pursue something until he attains it. Then he quickly loses interest.
  • I am not a quitter.
  • I don’t want to raise a quitter.
  • I honor my commitments.
  • I want our child to honor his commitments.
  • I want what is best for Max!
  • I don’t want Max to see himself as a problem at home, at homeschool, at other school or anywhere else!

Okay, and very honestly, Underneath EVERYthing:

  • This situation has exposed some personal dissatisfactions with my own life.
  • Jeff and I have some conflict resolution work to do.
  • Our marriage needs some strengthening in the communication skills department.
  • Our parenting skills need brushing up and tweaking to adapt to parenting Max.

Where is God in all this?


 What does He say?

 He says it’s all about love. Seeking Him first.

 For me this means each nanosecond requires a Jesus connection.

 Next, it’s all about loving each other (aren’t Jeff and Max my neighbors?) as our selves. Making sure there are healthy ways I am loving myself, so that Jesus’ love flows out from me to my family (and others).

Matthew 22: 36-40

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

I am prayerfully seeking the answer to homeschool or not. (To be continued…)

Darth Vader and Fishing

I am confessing. I used the Darth Vader voice yesterday. You know THE Voice – deep, throaty, scary and loud! It kind of sounds like screaming, but instead of high pitched it rumbles and vibrates. It leaves a residue, both for the performer and the receiver. I was the performer and my throat still aches. My thirteen year old, Max, was the receiver and his heart may still ache.

Max was on thin ice this weekend at our home. With only two weeks of school left and the crazy preparation of Clayton’s high school graduation open house my schedule is full! Clayton is our middle child and very social – his guest list for graduation numbers in the small city range! And, I am glad. This is an amazing time of celebration and transition for him. Needless to say, every minute of my schedule for the next three weeks is accounted for.  That was until, Friday after school.

Max hopped in my car with a funny look on his face. “What’s up buddy? How was your day?” I asked.

“Okay,” he responded. Then he gives me the sheepish side glance. “Did the school call you?”

“No.” I wait. Max reaches in his pocket and pulls out the yellow Discipline Report. As he is unfolding it I ask, “Did you get detention?” 

Of course he did – that is what the yellow sheet means. We’ve signed or acknowledged over 40 of them this year. I am kind of hoping for lunch detention because that doesn’t effect my schedule. I then realize that after-school-detention would give me an extra hour to get things done before picking him up. Either way, it’s all good. 

Yes! I realize that this form of reasoning is at least a little pathetic on my part.

“Lunch or after school? What happened?” I can’t ask what he did or he just clams up, but ‘what happened’ seems to charge neutral in his mind.

“I got in a fight.”

“Max!” Okay, I am going to admit that part of my response had to do with my own selfish ambitions. Fighting means OSS (out of school suspension). Of course, my parenting instincts also kicked in and wanted all the details. Which he freely gave. 

Except for the name of who he got in a fight with. When he finally shared the boy’s name, my heart sank. They were friends. I knew the boy’s parents. I called my husband, Jeff. He was on his way home. Max would go over to their home and apologize. We would then determine consequences for his three days of out of school suspension.

It is usually pretty easy to figure out what Max has been doing and where he has been at our home and on our property. We live on a lake in Michigan and have 10 wooded acres. Max is an outdoorsy kid. I love that about him! He is also a slob. That’s not really a fair assessment. He does things in a neat manner and can be very organized. However, he rarely cleans anything up before his body and mind are on to the next thing. He isn’t sitting around being sloppy – he is more like a mini natural disaster occurring repeatedly in subsequent locations around our home and property. He will clean up and do a fair job of it, but he usually requires a reminder. Which gets me back to the Darth Vader voice.

Spring has sprung in Michigan. Kind of. Really, we’ve gone from winter to cold rain to 80 degrees, back to rain again. Did I mention rain? We haven’t had many warm and sunny days. When we get the combination of warm and sunny all activity in my home stops and we head outside!

This Spring our outside activity is joyful as always yet peppered with a deadline! We have entered the frenzy of activity for Clayton’s graduation open house. The funny thing is, Clayton already thinks we are weird for keeping our home and property in the best possible shape – picked up, cleaned, maintained, landscaped and decorated. Clayton feels like we might go a little overboard in the cleaning and maintaining department. I think he will be able to relate to us better when he owns his own home and has his own family…

I love gardening, landscaping, playing in the dirt! This is a season I look forward to all year! I feel so close to God when I am physically connected to creation. I hear the whispers, the song of hope, carried with each new leaf unfurling! I talk to God while I garden. I work out any issues or concerns I have while I am turning soil, pulling weeds or am up to my elbows in dirt. I feel the Creator with me. I pray. I give thanks. I worship. This is a spiritual act for me!

You can imagine my annoyance when I come across at least 30 drywall screws dumped in an area I am attempting to grow grass. Or the irritable twinge I have when I enter the garage for fertilizer and have to step over pieces of bike – dismantled, repainted, strewn about with tools, paint, my painter’s masking tape…Sigh. Our woods look like an apocalyptic survival forest with wood shanties and shelters built about every hundred trees (for air soft gun wars). My husband’s tools that we thought were lost are permanently rusted into the ground. So glad the leaves have come out and covered up most the wreckage and hidden the mess…I walk in the house for a drink. I remove dirt, dust and shoes in order to keep our home clean. Apparently no one else got that memo – the one about keeping the house clean.

Max has shoes inside and outside the door. His socks, a water bottle, a juice bottle and an empty bag of donuts are by the couch in the family room. The rest of his clothes from the day before are scattered like a breadcrumb trail leading to his room. His computer is in the living room. His fishing charter brochure is on the kitchen table, along with some drafting and drawing supplies and his detention slip and a job application. Another pair of socks is in the TV room along with a banana peel.

Max has been fishing. Since 7 am. You can smell him from about 10 feet away. We have been in different areas of the same universe for most of the day – until now. He is covered with fish guts and blood, smiling ear to ear, carrying cleaned fish wrapped in newspaper. He is on cloud nine and I am about to burst his bubble.

How can I be so spiritual one moment, so connected to God and immersed in His creation, and blow a gasket the next?

Now I am not saying that Max shouldn’t be held accountable and responsible for cleaning up after himself. Of course he should! What I am saying is that I could use an extra dose of self control, grace and mercy in parenting this child!

Max is also thirteen. Did I already mention that? Thirteen is my least favorite age of the teenage years. Max can argue with almost everything I say, especially if it is a direction. It depends on his mood…At thirteen he is wiser, smarter, stronger and taller than me. He really is taller. Okay, probably stronger too. When I began a discussion of some of the ‘things’ he needed to take care of he began to argue. The discussion (now I am using the term lightly) began to escalate. Before I realized what was happening Darth Vader had appeared and ordered Max to his room.

I headed back to the garden. Just that morning in church I had been reminded about forgiveness. I had been so relieved to search my heart and discover I wasn’t holding any grudges or hurts from others – I didn’t have anyone to forgive today. Then our pastor reminded us that some of us may need to forgive ourselves. Ouch. The place of personal hurt that can still come up and bite me, is my own short fall in parenting. I have apologized to my children for many things I have done and said. I have received forgiveness from them and from my heavenly Father. Jesus already paid for my transgressions. I have forgiven my self, sort of. I can still cry over times I totally missed it in the parenting department.

Little children (and big children) are our most precious gift. They, like us, really just want to be loved. And, if we had the time to celebrate them, and with them, and laugh, then the world would be a better place. People matter. Eye to eye time matters. Seriously, does it matter eternally if my home is clean? Is that business call so important?  Or is it more important that I stopped what I was doing and entered into the life of a child or another human being?

When I went to revoke the Darth Vader verdict I walked into the kitchen to a scene covered in flour. Max had released himself from Darth Vader prison and was covered in flour. I am smiling at him (inside I am biting my tongue).

“I’m cooking you and dad dinner, mom! I have this great recipe for catfish,” said Max.

I look in the bowl, in the midst of the flour, and it looks like bread dough. “Wow, honey, that looks a little thick to dip fish in?”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control. The recipe says it should be thick.” He turns back to stir his creation.

I keep the reminder that I am supposed to be eating gluten free and that I don’t like fish to myself, behind my smiling lips.

I go to the bathroom. There is flour in the bathroom. I decide to go back outside and just let Max cook. There is flour on the deck. There are fishing poles on the dock along with fish guts and blood. Jeff looks at me. I am sending him the silent message that he pray for me. No words are needed. I go back to my garden.

“Dinner is ready,” yells the young man-child standing outside our door.

The table is set with real (not paper) plates. The fish has been grilled and kept warm in the oven. A salad has been cut up and put in a festive ceramic bowl. Max doesn’t even like salad, but he knows I do. We sit down together. We give thanks. The fish is excellent. Max is a really good cook!

Max spent the day fishing, cleaning his catch and preparing it for dinner. He is the real deal – a man’s man in the making! A provider.

After dinner Max and I walked through the dinner clean up steps. Max did a great job. We picked up both inside and outside, the day’s remnants of Max.

In the morning we watched the devastation a tornado had on Joplin, Missouri. We were relieved Tanner was not harmed in the storm. He is our oldest son and lives close to Joplin. Max watched the scenes of mass devastation. He stood up and held out his hand to me, “Mom, let’s pray!”

I stood with Max as Jeff walked into the room. The three of us joined hands while Max prayed for God’s restoration and provision for Joplin, Missouri.