Gently Guiding

I feel like I need to mention that my family gave me permission to share this story. They are supportive, encouraging and selfless. I am so blessed by them and immeasurably thankful for them. I love them deeply!!

To set the stage for where God was directing me I need to go back and tell you about growing up a little sister. I looked up to my big sister and completely adored her growing up. Unless you are a little sis with a big sis, I am not sure you can understand the depth of this admiration. All a big sister would see is the frustrating results “Mom, she’s copying me again!” “Mom, she is following me around, she won’t leave me alone!” “Mom, she took my cloths again!!” It was all out of a desire to be with her & be like her. I didn’t mean to be a bother. I just wanted to be close to what was the brightest star in my universe.

My big sister is the prettiest, coolest, most talented, athletic, smartest, most amazing person in the world.  She is fearless, outgoing, and the life of the party. She has a million friends and the best cloths.  She is spirited, passionate and makes things happen.  

She brought chaos to our home!!!  My sister was the kind of girl that no matter where she went, she fell in with the party crowd.  You could drop her in the middle of the prairies, 30 minutes away from town at a bible school and she would magnetically attract the party kids.  That is who God wired her to relate to, who God created her to be a light to.

We grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, a time where church goers could read the bible and condemn the Pharisees for their legalism. Then quickly turn around and judge you blindfolded. The church culture of the day was, no drinking, no dancing, no parties, no jeans at church and certainly no ripped jeans ever, the list goes on. We were struggling to find the balance between grace and expectations.  The rules were endless and could threaten to create a judgmental mindset and false sense of community if not guarded. You were either a rule follower or a rule breaker. For a determined kid like my sister, there was plenty to fight against.

My parents raised us with grace and love. They did an excellent job. No parent is perfect. I am not a perfect parent. The conflict in our home was difficult for all of us. For a tenderhearted, peacemaking kid like me, I felt like I was growing up in World War 3. It started when my sister hit high school.

I resented my sister for causing such strife in our home. I also became fearful of the judgement she received.  Some people assumed because of the crowd she hung out with that she broke more rules than she actually did. Some didn’t take the time to know her or talk to her or ask her about her life or her choices.  She was guilty by association and that hurt her, watching her get hurt, hurt me.  I didn’t understand her need to push the boundaries but I also didn’t understand how quick some people were to make assumptions and judgments about her, without even really knowing her or talking with her.

She was what I have called, a Warrior Child. She would fight doggedly with my parents, she was unrelenting. If she was hurt, she would fight more fiercely. It completely astounded me. I couldn’t comprehend it. I was compliant by nature and hated conflict. My stomach would hurt as they fought and it scarred me deeply.  It took me a long time to forgive her for the hurt she caused in our home.  Years later I asked her why she fought so hard and she could give no answer.
Now, that said, she has grown into a beautiful minister of grace, she loves the Lord and her local church and is very mission minded. She has a gorgeous voice and loves to serve her church family through music. She has a heart for young moms with new babies and blesses them. She is on the ground level of a mission starting in Honduras and loves the orphans immensely. She is the most generous person I know and loyal to a fault. She did not allow the judgment she received to build a hardness in her. She continues to give to her current church family in-spite of the hurt she has experienced. She is courageous and continues to risk. Her spirited nature refuses to be crushed by the judgement of others. If you are in trouble, she will drop everything to be there for you. She is generous, fiercely loyal and protective.  I have an incredible amount of love for her and tremendous respect for her. She is my sister and she holds a unique and special place in my life.

Over the last couple of years, one of our children started having trouble with obedience. I recognized a pattern of behavior. It reminded me of my sister. I was raising a Warrior Child! I cannot describe the fear, sorrow or pain that I felt about this. It reached to such a deep part of my soul. It brought up all that hurt that I had felt as a young teenager.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I didn’t know what I was doing to contribute to it.  I could see our other two kids starting to react as I had. In their hearts, hurt, resentment, frustration, and anger were growing. Not understanding their siblings need to push back on boundaries, they became sad, tense and hurt. Their relationships suffered as their sibling began to create chaos in our home. 
I felt out of my depth and grieved that what I had determined would not repeat itself in my home was in fact repeating.  I felt heartbroken as I watched the treasured relationships of our family become strained, wounded and broken.  We prayed, read parenting books, talked to friends and my parents. I wept with sorrow as I saw the wounds that those behavior choices left on our child’s dear sweet soul. There was a crushing weight that their rebellion left them under. I cried because history looked like it was coming around again and I didn’t think I could survive it, not again.

Eighteen months ago, the situation hit a crisis point for Craig and I. We ended up in the doctors office without our child. We couldn’t actually get them there. We just desperately needed to rule out any physical factor that could be impacting the situation.  Our GP patiently listened to us and asked questions. He was very gracious and kind. Finally he announced that we were the proud parents of a healthy normal teenage child.  He gave us a few ideas on how to direct behavior, both ours and our child’s. Then he asked to see us in a while for an update and possibly a physical for our child, just to be thorough.

While I was glad that there was nothing wrong physically, I was out of tricks.  We had prayed, we had tried all sorts of different ways of parenting. I thought we had exhausted all the resources at our disposal. I felt that as the parents, change had to start with Craig and I, but I had no idea where to go from here.  I started pleading with God in true desperation. I started a fast of sorts and spent lengthy times with God begging him to have mercy on our child, our home. I persistently requested that he change the direction of what was happening. I was frantic to regain peace and harmony. I wanted all of us to be able to thrive in the atmosphere of our home because in the current chaos, none of us could. I was at a dead end with nothing but a broken heart.  
About three days into this, I was driving my boys home from Karate, pleading with God.  As I drove, I sensed God tell me to start writing love messages to all the kids on sticky notes. I was to start leaving them on their pillows at night.  I was so confused, I had read the love languages book, I thought we were doing everything we needed to do in that area. We had reduced the negative language in our home and only took on the most essential of issues. It didn’t make sense, love notes seemed too simple.  I bounced the idea off Craig and he said “What could it hurt?” I tested it off my best friend who had been praying with me. She too thought it was worth a try.  I had such a strong sense that this was the first step. I quickly ran out got sticky notes and a new pack of colorful pens. When I got home I wrote them each a love note and left it on their pillow.  

That night, Quin came to my room with the note stuck to his finger, his eyebrows  raised . I just responded “it is a love note for you.”  I got my hugs and kisses from each of them that night. Sydney and Connor didn’t say a word about the notes.  The next day I walked into the boys room to put their love notes on their pillows. Quin’s was stuck to his dresser and Connor’s was stuck on the wall by his pillow.  I couldn’t figure out what Sydney was doing with hers. A week later I looked up as I entered her room and there was a colorful little collage taking shape on the wall.

A week in, the atmosphere of our home was totally transformed.  All of a sudden the chaos was gone. Our child’s rebellion melted. Their heart was affirmed with all that we loved and cherished about them. There is SO MUCH to love and cherish. The relationships started to heal. Love, peace and harmony were growing. True restoration was at work. Some how our love was getting lost in the chaos. Even though we were speaking encouraging, affirming words, the message was crushed in the conflict and consequences.
God used the written word to transform our childs heart and our home. We saw the increase of security that comes from knowing they were unconditionally loved and treasured.  There was an openness to instruction and a willingness to obey. I don’t actually understand it. The written word held more power. Love was communicating louder than the conflict again. All of a sudden correction was easier to accept and praise was easier to believe. Our motives and feelings as parents were no longer questioned.  
It was a miracle brought by the mercy of my God.  My soul was healed and my fear removed. We saw our children heal and thrive. Our family was restored. It has been a powerful and transforming experience. A few years back when I was walking with a dear friend through a difficult time, God directed me to a verse in Isaiah.  It was a verse that was meant to encourage her through that time. It speaks to God’s tender love for little ones and their parents. It speaks to the mercy he shows us when we don’t know the way. It is found in Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

I know this Shepherd. He has gently led me. He has carried my precious lamb in his arms, close to his heart. In his mercy he showed us the way. He honored the cry of my soul and delivered us from having to relive my worst fear. He broke the pattern from repeating and he has filled our home with peace, forgiveness and grace.  He is in the business of making things new. He is a good and faithful Shepherd.  

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