Come Visit Me at My New Blog!

 The last entry from this blog was November, 2015.  Ending it was a difficult decision.  It meant no longer writing (something I am passionate about) and losing a lot of followers, should I choose to blog again.  But I had to be obedient to God.  There was a lot of work to be done in my life and heart.  That’s what the past few months have been about and what has led to my new blog, Stephanie Romero:  A Lost Soul Making Her Way Home.

My hope is that you will come join me on this new adventure.  It would be my honor and delight if you would take a peek, choose to follow my blog and share with others.

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Every End Has a New Beginning

download (4)I thought my last post was going to be the end of my writing.  But since that time, God has been stirring up something new.  Although it won’t officially start until January 1, 2016…I would like to invite each of my subscribers to sign up for “Broken Can Be Beautiful.”  All you have to do is click on the link and once you’re on the page, click the “Follow” button.

Meanwhile, you can still join me on my new Facebook page, “Beautifully Broken.”  And if you would like a description of what “Broken Can Be Beautiful” is all about, check out my first post here.

Whether or not you decide to join me on this journey, my hope is that every single one of you comes to see the beauty in brokenness…how God can break a hardened heart and heal a broken one.

Don’t Miss Out on the Joy in Parenting

 In the midst of challenging stages we may be in with our children or even difficulties that seem to have no end, there is joy to be found in parenting.  Like anyone else, I appreciate the days (sometimes weeks or months) when everything is going well and my world feels right.  It’s so much easier to appreciate the role of mom or dad.  But it’s important that even if we’re not in that place, we don’t miss out on the joy that can be ours.

 

Here are some ways you can find joy in parenting (regardless of what’s going on):

 

Surrender.

I’m not talking about surrendering to depression or the thought that things will always be hard.  Surrender yourself to God.  Give up the pursuit to over-manage your children, to attain perfection, or the need to play the role of Holy Spirit over your family.  Surrender your children to God and trust that He has a purpose and plan far beyond your comprehension and/or the circumstances you’re currently facing.

 

Know When to Say Yes and When to Say No.

If you happen to be a people pleaser, saying yes tends to come more naturally.  But it’s not always a good thing—even if what you’re saying yes to is “good.”  Recognize when you’re in a stage of life that saying yes would cause you to be stretched beyond your limits or negatively affect your family.  Which means that you must learn how to say no.  Don’t try to make excuses or blame someone else (it’s easy to put it off on your spouse).  Take ownership of your no.  Having a balanced life is an important key to finding joy.

 

Increase Faith So You Fear Less.

You won’t gain increased faith by fearing less but you will fear less with more faith.  Trusting God with your children and life in general will bring greater joy.  Because instead of the focus being on your circumstances, it’s on God.  The enemy of your soul wants to rob you of joy by instilling worry and fear.  Don’t let him become greater than the One who brings peace in the midst of a storm.

 

Learn to Relax.

Some parents (raising a hand here) are oftentimes wound so tight they don’t know how to relax.  I’m not just talking about getting away to do something for yourself (whether it’s lunch with a friend or going outside to read a book)…although, those are important, practical ways to relax.  I’m referring to the way we sometimes freak out over the smallest stuff.  How we waste energy and time fretting about things that don’t really matter in the long run.  Let kids be kids and remember that messes can always be cleaned up…that they won’t always be that age and one day you’ll miss even the challenging moments of parenting.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

Stay Away from Earthly Dependencies

 I wish I would have learned earlier in parenting the importance of dependency on God.  Not that I wasn’t living for Him or that I failed to seek Him on a daily basis.  But too often I got caught up in dependencies that were earthly.

 

Methods of discipline…the argument surrounding stay-at-home versus working mom…educating through homeschool, private school or public school…to vaccinate or not vaccinate—that is the question…what’s best for baby—breastfeeding or bottle feeding…processed foods versus organic…you get the idea.

 

My “success” as a parent was oftentimes defined by these types of dependencies.  I was wrong to homeschool because my kids would turn out to be social misfits.  I was wrong to send them to public school because the “wolves” would get them.  My breastfed babies had more ear infections than the one that was bottle fed (explain that!).  I felt guilty as a stay-at-home mom because I wasn’t contributing financially to the household and I felt guilty working because I wasn’t available to my kids like I used to be.

 

Even church became a dependency—that my kids would turn out “right” because we were there every time the doors were open.  Surely this would prevent our family from dealing with some of the same issues that those outside the church did.

 

Not that any of these things were wrong.  Some may very well have been callings for our family or the right way to raise them.  But they couldn’t do for my children what only God can do.

 

When we put our trust in how we discipline, where our child goes to school or even the rules implemented in the home…we are sure to be disappointed.  Earthly dependencies aren’t reliable.  But God is reliable!

 

Some of the good we do can still leave us shaken to the core.  Discipline can fail.  Methods aren’t guaranteed.  Church can’t save our children.  And some of the things we got so caught up in when they were little…well, it won’t make a single difference when they’re older.

 

If you’re depending on anything other than God when it comes to your children, it’s time to change focus.  Don’t allow earthly dependencies to become greater than the One who not only knows and loves our children, but has a purpose and plan for their lives that we cannot possibly understand.  Heavenly dependency is the best guarantee of successful parenting!

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

 

When Serving Christ Seems Undesirable

downloadHaving raised now two adult children and a third one just a couple of years away, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about parenting.  I would never call myself an expert.  In fact, I couldn’t even claim to be right about my ideas because others would probably say I’m not.  And that’s okay.  We have our own experiences, beliefs, values and unique personalities (both in us and our children).  So it’s always with a grain of salt that I take someone else’s advice—and it’s what I hope you do with mine.

 

Some things just aren’t black and white when it comes to parenting.  We can believe the Word of God, know it and follow it.  We can certainly gain knowledge in how to raise our children. But there are some aspects to parenting that requires a lot more thought, prayer, trial and error.

 

One of the biggest issues I have found myself struggling with over the years is where you draw the line when it comes to raising children in the church.  The line can pertain to any number of issues—such as discipline, how often you attend church, the friends your children choose, dating, dancing, television viewing habits, education and the list could go on.

 

Let’s face it…everyone has an opinion on these and the many other issues we deal with in parenting.  I know this because I’ve read about them in books, I’ve heard about them in parenting classes and I’ve seen them lived out in the lives of other believers.  So there’s no shortage of opinion or thought on these issues.  But these can create a lot of confusion, guilt, jealousy and other negative feelings when a person isn’t confident in their ability to parent—not in their own ability but with and through the help of Jesus Christ.

 

My confidence in parenting isn’t where it should be.  Yet it’s certainly not where it used to be.  It has improved with time, experience and a deepening relationship with the Lord.  There is much more work ahead.  If I thought I got this parenting thing down, God will surely stir the waters to show me how wrong I am.

 

With all of that said, I feel that one of the greatest things I’ve learned as a Christian parent is that I can make the idea of serving Christ undesirable.  I can make it seem like work, un-fun, dull and predictable.  In fact, I would daresay this is the reason many of those outside the church won’t step foot inside one.  We’re too fixated on the don’ts of serving Christ.  We are wrapped up in religiosity instead of relationship.  And we focus more on the outward behavior of a person rather than the inner heart.

 

It’s become a joke in our house how mom (that’s me) would never allow my children to watch “Scooby Doo.”  My response is that they can feel free to sit inside a counselor’s office one day and tell him how horrible their childhood was because they didn’t get to watch “Scooby Doo.”  Although this is now a source of humor in our home, it speaks to something deeper…how so often I would make Christianity undesirable.  Now we can argue all day about whether or not I was right or wrong in not allowing my children to watch the cartoon.  That’s not the point.  Instead, it’s the idea that maybe in some of my parenting decisions, I really didn’t know where to draw the line.

 

There is nothing in the Bible that speaks specifically to a cartoon where a cast of characters solves mysteries through supernatural creatures.  However, there are scriptures that can be called upon that show the dangers of engaging in the supernatural.  This can leave some of us in a quandary about the handling of such an issue.

 

This is also true when it comes to another complaint that my children have brought up on more than one occasion—that I never allowed them to go trick or treating.  Again, we can come at this with all different viewpoints and yes, we can call upon scripture.  But at the same time, we can also manipulate God’s Word to fit our circumstances.

 

In drawing the line—however that might look for any given issue—I do believe we need to ask ourselves an important question.  Am I making serving Christ more or less desirable?  This doesn’t mean you question the validity of God’s Word, nor do you disobey it.  And it doesn’t mean you discount prayer or discernment.  What it does mean is that you consider if the issue is worth losing your child’s interest in Christianity because it’s all about rules, what you can’t and shouldn’t do.

 

When my children were younger, that’s how I tended to parent.  As they grew older, I switched things around to more of what they could do.  Hopefully I’ve taught them that being a Christian is a lot of fun and without the repercussions that can happen when it’s based on harmful or hurtful things.  I’m less rigid and more grace-filled.  As a result, it’s become easier to know where the line should be drawn.  Even then it will sometimes differ depending on the child.

 

The bottom line is that I want to make serving Christ desirable.  This requires that I seek Him for guidance and direction.  I focus less on what others are doing and trust that He will show me the right way. We can never rely upon our own confidence or even the “wisdom” of others.  Parenting isn’t a formula and there is no one model to follow.  However, you will never go wrong when you it’s left in the hands of Jesus.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

 

5 Ways to Combat Hopelessness

depressed-woman-faceThere may come a time when raising children that things feel hopeless.  Little by little you see his love for God slip away.  She makes choices contrary to the way you’ve taught her.  Church is no longer where he wants to be.  Your little girl who once sang that Jesus loves her, now doesn’t believe He exists.  These are just some examples of hopeless situations (or at least ones that can feel this way).

 

I’ve felt hopelessness and it’s from my own experiences I can share the following ways to combat it…

 

1) Don’t put your hope in the outcome, put it in the Lord.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11)

 

This is so important because oftentimes the outcome we envision is nothing like the Lord’s.  We base our hope on what we believe is “best,” when it may very well come through in a way we didn’t expect or want.

 

No one could have convinced me several months ago that my 17-year-old daughter having a baby would turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to her.  But knowing what I do now, it was.

 

If we put our trust in outcomes, we may be disappointed.  But when it’s in the Lord, we can see miracles even when it doesn’t make sense.

 

2) Celebrate the little victories.

Who dares despise the day of small things… (Zechariah 4:10)

 

It may take some creativity depending on the situation, but you need to look for the victories (regardless of how big or small).  Not only that but you should celebrate them.  Thank God.  Point them out to your child, if appropriate.  Document them.

 

We should never dismiss what God is doing in our children’s lives, even when it doesn’t seem to be much.  Oftentimes it’s the little victories that eventually lead to the big changes.

 

3) Even in the silence, know that God hears your prayers.

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.” (Mother Theresa)

 

At times it seems as if God is silent—we’re not hearing from him.  We’re not seeing him move.  Nothingness can breed hopelessness.  But your prayers haven’t gone unheard.  The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that God isn’t listening.  When we fall for that lie, our faith becomes shaky.  But God’s Word tells us different.  We can have confidence and boldly approach his throne with our prayers (Hebrews 4:16).

 

4) Proceed with caution when sharing your “hopeless” situation.

“Be careful who you trust and tell your problems to.  Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.” (Vanny Angel)

 

It’s important you don’t walk the rocky path alone.  At the same time you must use caution in what you share (sometimes specifics aren’t necessary) and who you share it with.  Sad to say, some people will use it against you.  Others unintentionally make the situation worse.  It may even get back to your child, causing mistrust.

 

Error on the safe side when sharing your hopeless situation.  It will eventually come to an end and yet, you may have to deal with the residual effects of what you shared.

 

5) Remember that hope doesn’t disappoint.

“…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).

 

God’s love for us (and our children) is greater than anything else we may face.  Having hope in him will never bring disappointment because his purposes and plans far exceed anything we can imagine.  We are never guaranteed things will turn out our way.  But we are guaranteed his love to see us through.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

Playing the Grace Card

the-grace-card.001I must admit that I get a strange kick out of people’s reactions (specifically church people) when they see my teenage daughter with her daughter.  The good news is the majority of people show no reaction or it’s a pleasant one.  In fact, some are downright gracious—exuding joy and delight at the sight of them.  What they’re doing is playing the grace card in my daughter’s life.  Those who, even if in a small way, contribute positively toward the path that leads to God.

 

Unfortunately—but at the same time, thankfully to a lesser degree—I also see those who don’t play the grace card. Perhaps even contributing to a stumble here and there along God’s path.

 

Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences.  I want to be one who plays the grace card.  As a mother, wife, friend, co-worker, acquaintance and even stranger.  I don’t ever want to find myself in any way contributing toward steering someone off God’s path.  I don’t want to come across as holier than thou or making it seem that my sin isn’t as great as someone else’s sin.  Yes, even in parenting.

 

Aren’t we all lost sheep in need of a Good Shepherd who will guide us through life?  Don’t we all fall short of His glory?  Aren’t we all stained with sin?

 

I believe grace is what can bring a lost soul home.  Bit by bit I’ve seen it recapturing my daughter.  And I truly do give a lot of credit to those who have played the grace card in her life.

 

When once I felt angry, now I just feel sorry for those who can’t—or won’t—play the grace card.  Those who stare with judgment in their eyes, those who refuse to acknowledge them or even outright avoid them.

 

But I’ve also come to realize that I’ve been in that same place.  Where I have refused to play the grace card…at times toward my children and at times toward others.  I don’t want to be stingy any longer.  I want to play my cards right.  After all, God sees fit to play the grace card every single day of my life.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero