Over the course of this last year we’ve had a lot of changes in our lives, our kid’s included. We’ve moved, had a baby, and then had the uncertainty of not knowing if we’d stay in our home. While we have figured out the housing situation and we have a vehicle we all fit in together, we still are living below pay check to pay check. But, God continues to provide! Each month every bill gets covered, each month we have no idea how it will happen, but God comes through. It has been a roller coaster of emotions for Maddie as she juggles and struggles to grasp God’s provision. It’s hard for Mark and I to comprehend much less asking an eight year old to do it. Our kid’s, like us, have had to sacrifice their needs and wants as we have. Giving up dreams of having pets right now, giving up lessons and other things she wants to do.
Maddie has had intense anger, both in having to share Mark and I with Timmy, who as a newborn does take up lots of our time. Along with having a newborn brother, she has been struggling with the responsibilities of becoming older and having more expected of her. Maddie turning eight has been a huge shift for all of us. She is desiring more freedom and we are learning with her what to allow and what to wait a little while longer to do.
Mark and I were desperate, we sought advice from friends who have been parenting longer than we have, we sought the counsel of our pastor and his wife, we prayed and asked for guidance. But, the biggest difference we knew would come from us, Mark and I changing first! Mark and I have learned that if one of our kid’s are struggling with an area in their lives, the first place that should be looked at is ourselves. Often times what our kid’s are struggling with is because they are mirroring how Mark and I talk, act, and go about life. They are imitating how we deal with conflict, how we love someone we are mad at, how we rely on or don’t rely on the Lord. The first place to start is with ourselves.
Maddie is very hard on herself, to the point were Mark and I rarely have to discipline her because she does a good job of it all on her own. Mark and I both agree that what Maddie does need is an ally! She needs us to believe in her, because she doesn’t believe in herself. We have been teaching her to spot the lies when they come and to renew her mind with scripture to rebuke the lies back to where they came from! It is amazing how at eight years old she had already begun to be rooted in lies such as she wasn’t good enough, she’s a bad girl, she isn’t lovable. What broke my heart was that when we would start speaking truth to her, allying her, she would curl up in a ball and get angrier. She would break down into tears because she simply did not, could not, believe it was true.
The break through came from a trip over the monkey bars at our local park. She has been working for months to be able to get across those monkey bars. Finally, one day she flew across them for the very first time and landed on the platform on the other side. When she got there, she jumped down and yelled I’m awesome! You could see the sparkle in her eyes, the pep in her step, she believed it in that moment. Then we got home and she made some not so good choices. I called her on the choices and she went right back into the old lies. I stopped her and asked her to remember how she saw herself when she finished the monkey bars. I reminded her that that girl is still inside her, even when she’s making bad choices. Reminding her that girl doesn’t leave and sharing with her what real love is. Sharing with her that it’s easy to love ourselves when we do something well, when we succeed, but it’s really hard to love ourselves when we blow it, make mistakes, or hurt someone. It’s in the times we mess up that it’s even more important to love ourselves and to allow God to remind us of who we are. Using the monkey bar analogy with her has given her a great reminder of the truth of how God sees her, it has been a great memorial for her to come back to.
This last week I have begun to see her embrace the truth of how God sees her. I can see her loving heart come back. I can see her allying herself, going to God when she’s angry or hurt. She has become able to come talk to me instead of keeping things pent up inside her. When she begins to speak the lies out loud we stop her and have her speak five truths out loud. By the time she is on the third one you can see her begin to believe the truths again, you can see her heart change, you can see Satan flee, and Maddie becomes free!
When boiled down what has changed is first Mark and I, allying and affirming Maddie, and the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is truly a joy for this mommies heart to see joy and peace come back into Maddie’s heart and see it radiate through the sparkles in her eyes. God is continuing to work on all of us, his word says, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.