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Tindell Baldwin »

We bought a house that was a flip. It was built in the 1970’s but a builder came in and gutted it and made everything shiny and new. We walked in and it and fell in love. It had all the things we needed plus it was so new, fresh, and clean (AKA no children had lived in it). Ben turned to me after we walked through it and said “I could get my Saturday’s back.” We loved our old house but every Saturday was filled with maintenance, kind of killing the Saturday morning family vibe I was so aggressively trying to implement. We decided it was the one (and yes choosing a house feels similar to finding a spouse) and fast forward over the next craziest weeks of our life, sold the house we were living in, closed on the new and started moving our crap in last week. I used to call it stuff until I had to pack it up and move it… then it became crap.

The problem with shiny and new is that it never stays that way. My fridge now has fingerprints where little people have opened and closed it over and over and over and over again telling me they are starving (five minutes after eating). The walls have been scuffed up by oversized furniture being moved up narrow stairs and the once sparkly bathtubs are now filled with kid’s toys. And we have only been in the house two weeks.

My point is nothing stays new. Life takes a toll on even the shiniest of things.

I don’t talk a lot about my marriage in my writing because I see it as sacred, whereas motherhood and ministry feel like something we are all trekking through together. Marriage though, it’s my safe space- my safe person. It’s a place I’m careful about who I let in, so while I’m very open with my people, I’m not open with all people. The rest of my life though I’d tell the cashier at target about… because we are there so much I know them all by name and when they got a haircut. Then I was talking to some friends the other night who aren’t married yet and they were asking what marriage is really like, is it wonderful? Is it hard? Is it beautiful? Is it boring? Is it exciting? Is it disappointing? Is it everything you dreamed of? Is it challenging?


All of it.

Yes. Marriage and mothering are the only things in my life where my selfishness will actually ruin someone else’s life. Marriage is the hardest and best thing I have ever done. It’s what has taught me the most and grown me in ways I didn’t know I needed to grow. It’s softened me, changed me, and pushed me closer to the God who made me. Most of us read 1 Corinthians at our wedding but don’t really understanding those verses until we have to live them. Real love is living out what I said I’d do when I least feel like it. Real love doesn’t fully come until you chose to love even when you feel justified (and most likely are) in your frustration, sadness, anger, exhaustion or whatever else. God asked us to do this for others and then he demonstrated it through Jesus so that we could always know what real love looked like (John 15:9,12).

Marriage is a lot like a new house. It starts off so shiny, so new, and you move your stuff in and scuff it up along the way. You bring your baggage and expectations and make it yours and the shiny wears off but in its place is left something great… home. It’s where you breathe, where you let your guard down, and where you can be really bare… in every sense. It seems like there are really only two choices, find something else or someone else shiny and new or see your spouse as the gift they are. If I moved every time my house got a little messed up we’d live in a perpetual state of moving and unhappiness.

The reality is it takes maintenance, like keeping a house clean, it doesn’t stay shiny on its own. Ben and I check in every Sunday to see how we are doing (while we fold approximately 50 lbs of laundry), we cover fun topics like budget, relational ups, and downs, parenting, upcoming week etc. We do date nights every other week (side note- we are incredibly blessed with in-laws who live in our neighborhood and love our kids and us SO well making this possible). When we go on dates, I make a real effort to only talk about the kids on the way to dinner and then shut down the kid talk. We have so much more to connect on than just our kids. I think of this like sweeping the floors or wiping down counters… it’s part of keeping things in order so that we can focus on what matters.

We are coming up on nine years of marriage, it isn’t anywhere close to a lifetime but we both really care about not just staying together but about being for each other. Yes, my marriage is important for my kids, but also because Ben is worth fighting for, so even when life gets hard or we are knee deep in babies I’ll choose him. That’s living the love we talked about at our wedding and it’s so worth it. I think the greatest and easiest lie to believe in marriage is that you married the wrong person or that someone else would understand you better, love you better, and they might but they’d do something else worse. We all have our flaws, every relationship gets a little scuffed up like tiny fingerprints on a fresh wall but it’s the mark of something personal. It’s yours.


  • Sophia Gutierrez - This is so beautiful! I needed to hear this so badly. I’ll be sharing it with my husband. Thank you!ReplyCancel

People love to tell me I’m going to miss this. That one day I’ll look back in real wonder at the absolute chaos that my life was during this time before “real” school. That one day this will be a hazy half-memory where I marked through the hard and bad things and remembered only the beautiful to pass on to the next tired mom at Target. While I’m sure I will miss it and I’m already feeling heavy waves of sentimentality as we are mere months away from kindergarten what I care about more is that I don’t miss it now. That I don’t miss all these tiny things that add up to the really big things.

This morning I was asking the sibutramine kopen two oldest to clean up their puzzles before they could watch TV (while Colbie came behind them and dumped said puzzles out on the ground) I saw Claire stuff one puzzle under the trampoline and then look up to see me standing there. For my rule-following first born this was the most upsetting thing that could happen, being caught doing the wrong thing with no way out. I told her if she’s going to do something to do it right and asked her (in my stern mom tone) to find the box the puzzle went in.

As she went to grab the box I heard her mumble, almost incoherently, “I’m just different from everyone else.”
“Claire, what did you say?” I asked completely caught off guard.
“I said I’m different, I just don’t do the right thing.”
“Claire will you come to my bathroom while I get ready so we can talk, don’t worry about the puzzles.”
She followed behind me shoulders slumped. As I got ready I asked her two simple questions, why do you think that and who told you that?

Who told my perfectly made, uniquely gifted, tenderhearted, outlandishly kind, five years old she was different? The girl who made me a mom, who has a father in heaven who knows the number of hairs on her (Psalm 139:13-14), and a savior who would go to any lengths to win her tender heart (Romans 5:8).  Who spoke such bold lies into the heart of my beautiful girl? I can tell you who, the same deceiver who whispers lies right in my heart when I am not listening to the truth of my savior.  The same liar who is consistently trying to pull at the threads of truth I am working to teach my kids daily (Mark 4:15). The father of lies who knows just the right words to makes us doubt who we are and where we belong (Ephesians 6:11&16). See, Claire is harder on herself than I am on her, she loses confidence at the smallest infraction because she expects perfection from herself. I have seen this in her from an early age so what’s the perfect attack for my perfection seeking daughter? The LIE that everyone else is doing a better job than her, that everyone else has some magic potion that keeps them doing the right thing all the time.
I pulled her chin up to look at my eyes and I spoke the truest words over her that I knew, “Claire, God made you perfectly with a purpose and there is nothing you can do to make him or us love you less. Don’t tell yourself lies like that.”

Then I made her list out all the ways she was created uniquely with a purpose and I saw her eyes brighten and her gaze lift as we talked about the things about her that were true. The joy she brings to her dad and me, the incredible friend she is to her siblings, and the helper she is to teachers. I reminded her how many times I screwed up and had to ask for her forgiveness and I reminded her perfection is only for God, he doesn’t expect that from her and neither does her dad or me.  She bounced back to her brother’s room with renewed confidence.

This is what we cannot miss. Forget the long days and sleepless nights, the dread of illnesses, and the agony of mom guilt. I don’t want to miss the teachable moments that will make or break my kid’s heart in this season. We won’t be able to catch them all but we must be available to see the ones that really matter.  I won’t send my girl into the world believing her performance for others will earn her love or acceptance. No, I will teach her that dependence on God gives us freedom. It starts now. Today, she must start hearing the truth before the lies are so loud she accepts them as fact. That I won’t miss.

Dear Son,

As I looked back in the rearview mirror and saw your big blue eyes it hit me that you looked sad. It was a hard morning with multiple consequences and tears at every corner. The tension to do the right thing or go your own way feels heavy. Childhood can be hard with three little people in our house and us, the people in charge, who need God’s grace just as much as your tender heart. Three is hard, being the middle is hard, sandwiched between two touchy sisters (and the baby who likes to smack you for kicks and giggles) sometimes frustration mounts and you just can’t do what you know you ought to do.

So today as I looked back at your tear stained face and quivering lip I didn’t see a problem I needed to solve or a measure I needed to take. I saw you, in all your humanness, I saw your need for independence and struggle for control. I saw your already wounded heart who needs Jesus just as much this morning as his impatient mama.

I’m sorry I haven’t noticed it more, how hard and harsh the world can feel when you’re just trying to figure it out. I’m sorry I haven’t stopped to hug your little frame when you cry about your sisters ruining your blocks. I’m sorry I haven’t remembered how challenging it is to keep pent up energy…well… pent up, or stay in bed when you aren’t tired, or not to scream in frustration when no one understands.

I was in the middle and I also struggled with a rebel heart that knew the right thing but ached to go my own way, just to have something that was mine. Little one, I’m sorry I haven’t stopped when I should and made sure your heart was OK. I’m sorry I haven’t paused to remember that no discipline is pleasant even though necessary. I’m sorry I haven’t thought about how hard my own growing pains were when I asked you to do better.

So when I looked back today, I looked in silence for awhile and said, buddy, are you ok? Your little head nodded and your lip shook. “buddy you know I love you,” I said. Big blue-eyed tears pooling your cheeks, another nod. My own eyes starting to fill I heard God whisper, “pray for him, your son needs you to pray for him.” All sudden you weren’t just my son you were a person, with feelings, and needs, and a son of a God who loved you.

I did. I prayed right there as the red light switched to green. I whispered quietly as Claire sang at the top of her lungs and Colbie yelled cracker from the back seat. I prayed for you. I prayed for your heart that God would show me how to love you well. I told satan he couldn’t have you. I told the darkness that ensnares our hearts so easily that it wouldn’t win. I prayed God would allow me to raise a son who becomes a man who would bring glory to his father in heaven, a father who cared about him even in the throes of three.

I hope as time goes on you’ll remember the simple words I tell you every day If you can’t do the right thing ask God for help. Until then I’ll keep making sure I don’t just see you as just my son but as a little boy with your own heart, your own struggles, and your own humanity.

Love you


  • Kelly denbow - Just what I needed today. Our William (6) is smashed between two sisters, one who seems to always make the right choice and the other who is a wild child. I feel like I’m failing him because I don’t know how to handle his responses to me and to his sisters. Pray more….. that’s how I do it! He is strong and gentle, angry and kind all wrapped up into one little boy trying to maneuver this world. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words!!!!ReplyCancel

Don’t you feel like if you could pick apart some of the people you love and take little qualities from each of them you could be the perfect spouse, mother, friend, coworker, etc. In our heads we say things like, If I had her drive I’d do more. If I had her humor we’d have a marriage that was more fun. If I could take things in stride more my kids would be better off and we pick apart all the things we hate about our self and jigsaw back together someone who could do and be all the things we need to be. We could be the version of ourselves that would be acceptable and possibly more lovable to all who know us. We could feel slightly more OK when we closed our eyes at night if only we _____.

For most of my life I have felt like a subpar girl. I was always taller than girls should be. I’ve never been quiet… like ever. I can’t keep opinions to myself or sit still when I need to. My personality tests reveal similar things every time, that I’m intense but I get things done. I love people… but almost too much. I value accomplishments and am driven… but to a fault. When I asked my husband once if I was “warm” his pause spoke volumes (it’s now a running family joke). When I wasn’t in the church none of this mattered. I pretty much embraced who I was and lived boldly without much care about what others thought.

Then post Jesus and reintroduction to church I felt like there was a Christian girl mold and I just didn’t fit it. I didn’t just want to sit and take notes I wanted to be driving the discussion but that was a role mostly given to men. I stared to wonder if God had made me just a little wrong. Part of me felt like I needed to just tone down all of me or there would be catastrophic consequences on my relationships. Fast forward to being a mom and the feeling intensified. How could I be a good mom when I was so overly “passionate” about life? Not only that but our firstborn and even our second have soft hearts. Our third has my DNA. She’s bold and she will fight me head to head… at fifteen months old.

I have been thinking a lot about the words used about me as a kid as I speak to my own kids. How they sank deep and filled in the pieces where I had gaps of understanding myself. I was always talked about as the bold, crazy, slightly brash, mischievous kid.  It wasn’t because it wasn’t true but I think we can challenge our kids to be better by not speaking words over them that don’t coincide with a redeemed heart. Like when Briggs hits Colbie (because she grabbed his favorite reindeer and threw it across the room) I tell him, you aren’t mean but what you did was mean. Making the distinction when we talk to the people that we love that their actions don’t convey the heart God gives them. I speak to my kids like God has already redeemed them, believing one day he will. These words speak to the heart they could have instead of shaming them to feel guilty. Pray to God for the guilt, man-made guilt doesn’t change hearts just behavior, conviction from a perfect God brings people to his perfect unhindered love.

Part of the reason I acted the way I did was because it was simply expected, the bar had been set. No one expected an A on my report card or for me to participate in the schools charity events. So I didn’t.  I wonder though, if I speak the life into my kids I hope they have, the life I know God can give them will they believe it? If I tell them that God can change their selfish hearts into caring ones will it push them to do so? Colbie, our third,  is a flat out mischievous willful little one but I’ve had to remind the big kids to call her curious not crazy. Curious speaks to a sense of adventure where as crazy speaks to actions of disobedience. The truth is she is a little bit crazy but there’s nothing wrong with that, I want my words to speak life into the girl God made her be not shame her into a corner about what she isn’t. There’s no mold. That’s the beautiful thing about God, his intense creativity that has come up with the most fascinating productions and to not live that out would be a disservice to the creator.

  • Katie Bulmer - “ I can’t keep opinions to myself or sit still when I need to.” Yes girl! I felt like you were describing me! I also had a hard time when I first became a Christian. My husband was a youth pastor at the time too!

    Your passion and drive have been used so beautifully!ReplyCancel

Sunday is laundry day in our house, the hampers are all busting at the seams by the time I manage to drag it all down the stairs and start the vicious cycle of washing and drying that never seems to end. Last Sunday, Claire asked me if I could help her get goldfish mid treacherous journey down the stairs and I yelled my hands were full and to hold on.

Life with little seems to always be leaving your hands feeling full and if you forget everyone is all to eager to remind you. It’s what the dentist said to me when Briggs and Claire were getting cleanings and Colbie spent the entire time wandering and climbing on every surface (at one point diving off a sofa and the receptionist had to catch her… it was a glorious parenting moment). It’s what the kind older man said to me as I checked out at target for the 3rd time in one week and all my kids were melting down and begging for candy. It’s what anyone anywhere reminds me of when i’m in public with all of our kids that resembles a traveling circus of Ferrell cats.



Yes my hands are full. Yes, at the end of the day my brain feels fried and my body tired. To deny the beautiful mess this season is would be pointless. My hands are full so not much else is. When your hands are full even little things are hard to do. Claire’s simple request for goldfish was nothing more than poor timing. My hands were full so I couldn’t help. When they aren’t full I can.

I think one of the biggest struggles in the Christmas season is the pressure that flanks our calendar from every side. Come to this, be here, and make sure your kids fully understand one of the greatest miracles of all time. Oh you don’t know how? Here’s 70000000 options of how to teach them and you should probably do a minimum of three to lend to all of their different learning types.

I currently have a Jesse tree ornament box that is on day 10 but have zero ornaments hung, an email with curriculum I desperately want to teach to my kids that a friend wrote, and two Ann Voskamp advent books I think they will have to graduate from college to understand. Claire’s 5th birthday is tomorrow and preschool thinks holiday parties for my kids are what I live for (Its not just FYI). My hands are full. It’s all good and none of it’s that hard but when you’re hands are full the simplest request can take you down.

What change we could make if we’d embrace where we are and slow this train down. Especially this time of year. You know what makes teaching hard? Rushing out the door to 1 billion holiday activities. We are talking about teaching 3 and 4 year old that God came as a man to die for their sins because he loves them that much. There’s not a part of that sentence my four year old won’t have 5 follow up questions for. While our three year old will just put his favorite question on repeat, why can’t I see God?!

I think Satan’s best scheme yet will be nothing more than constant distraction and busyness, to keep us moving so we won’t sit too long with our questions or our wonder. So we won’t just think about how utterly beautiful it was that God wanted so much to be much to us that he sent Jesus to put his love on display.

Time is a beast I cant fight, I remember that every time I open my fridge and glance at the first picture I ever got holding Claire. She’s five tomorrow. That’s five Christmas’s with her and yet I remember the first time I held her in my arms. I remember the first Christmas morning with her. I remember thinking I’d never take another moment for granted because life was so precious to me that first Christmas but time marched on.

If we aren’t careful we will miss it. We will miss every teaching moment and every perfect messy memory because we wanted to do it all. We will put up trees and hang lights, wrap presents, go to parties, and then it will come and go and we won’t feel the true weight of this season. All we feel is relieved when its over. If your hands are full but your heart feels empty then don’t empty your hands, make room for what matters. It won’t be easy, not everyone will understand, but it will be worth it. Merry Christmas!

My insomnia is always the worst on nights where my brain has been on auto pilot all day. Shockingly, raising little people uses all of your energy but only about half of your brain power. The other half of mine sits idle until they are all in bed and my husband is peacefully snoozing. I’m supposed to start my “sleep hygiene” that my doctor has prescribed, which involves a lot of thinking about walking down beaches and none of writing blogs on my phone. I picture the beach and then somehow my computer is there and I’m hammering out words about life and God and I kiss my aimed at 7 hours of rest goodbye.

Last night I was thinking about how when I was much younger and a new believer there was one question that people asked me all the time, what are you passionate about? Which is Christian speak for what do you love that you think you’re good at? Even before I knew Jesus I knew my answer, it was easy… writing. I loved writing. It was my retreat from a world that didn’t seem to always understand me or a family that was so wonderful they kind of annoyed me. Then a little later down the road after God wrecked my life in the best way I knew working with high schoolers was a part of the ministry I wanted to have from my pain. Somewhere tadagra along the way though I had enough people tell me that if God gave me gifts and talents and things I cared about then he would use them… and we would all live happily ever after. So I kind of assigned him this unofficial promise. No more floods and I only have to do things that i’m good at and come naturally. Thanks God…sounds great!

A few years into writing I got my break, a book deal, and it seemed that God would hold up to his unofficial covenant with me. My passions and reality aligned and six months after my book hit the shelf I gave birth to another great passion I didn’t even know I had. My first born. My daughter. The journey I didn’t know I needed until I started walking it. For a split second I had it all, the writing career I wanted, the family I adored, and God was checking all my boxes. Then 18 months later I was holding our son in a similar delivery room and I knew this was going to harder. Things had to slow down a little. Then 18 months later I was pregnant with our third and I had a war within me. Give up the “passions” God had planted in me for a season and do this raising of babies well or forge a path I felt like God was not leading me down.

My dreams, passions, and accomplishments were like big red balloons I carried with me everywhere I went and when the world didn’t approve of the tiny people at my feet I could point up and say, “but look what I’m holding? I have this too! I still matter!” After our third was born though my hands weren’t just full, my house, heart, and mind were too. I had to let something go.

I chose to let go and trust God, say no, and be OK that all I was producing was babies and that meant my insomnia would ramp up hard at night when my brain could dream about the passions God planted in me and the things I still wanted to do. As our pastor says, “no for now not forever.” I think as Christians sometimes we like to put faith tag lines on life to help us cope. We have put passions and work as synonymous parts of the Christian life and then tell budding college students to hold out for the dream job that meets all your criteria. This is great but sometimes work is just work, life is hard, and reality isn’t as fulfilling as the fantasy grown up world you created in college. I have come to learn that just like Jesus sacrificed for the end goal he calls his followers to do much of the same. We don’t make sacrifices based on whether we will get something in the end we make sacrifices because we know that what we are giving up isn’t as important as what we are chasing. The common ask no matter where you are seems to be, lay down your life and have faith that you aren’t forgotten in those in between seasons where obedience doesn’t match desires.

I didn’t know I had a passion for motherhood until God gave me Claire and moments after her first breath she was in my arms and I just knew I’d never be the same. So I put one thing on hold to fully embrace the other. I didn’t know I would turn things down I wanted for something that seemed so insignificant to the world. I can’t help but think though that this journey has lead me closer to God that living my dreams ever did. Dreams only require a dreamer but sacrifice well that requires a Savior. I need the savior more than the dream.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits aree] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18


To my girls in a “me too” world,

I wish I could protect your innocence forever. I wish you could always dance around in tutus and wobble around the house in footed pajamas. I wish every kiss was as innocent as a peck in pre-k music class. More than that, I wish I could shelter you from the world and every ounce of pain. Since I can’t I will spend all my days pouring truth into your heart and hoping it sticks. I will teach you that beauty isn’t a debt you owe to anyone. I will tell you often that love and lust are not the same thing. I’m going to teach you that people should respect your “no’s” and if they don’t someone should listen and take action. I’m oral trenbolone for sale going to make sure you know without question you are loved, you are valued, and your beautiful not because of what you do or how you look in a bikini but because God breathed life into you. I pray I can teach you speak out when you see wrong instead of excusing it away. I will encourage you to listen to the ache in your heart when you cross lines and that my door will feel like the safest place you can run when you mess up. I pray our house can be a haven from the world when it fails you. I pray the love you feel from in our family will set a standard way above average. I promise to do my best to have the hard conversations, listen more than I speak, and never push aside your pain because there is someone hurting more.

You see I wasn’t sure if being considered pretty was a gift or it was a duty. I didn’t know that being subjected to inappropriate comments or unwanted attention was something I could stand up against. I believed that admiration was fuel in this cruel world no matter how degrading the attention was. I never stopped to ask if there was a better way. I ignored the ache in my heart asking for better. I didn’t know that God loved me before I chose him and that he believed I was worth more than basement regrets and bad decisions in back seats. Even when I was drowning my pain in alcohol and numbing my body with drugs, God had given me worth. It didn’t start when I cleaned up my life it started at the cross.

One of the main reasons I wanted to see the other side of healing is so that we could have these talks. So that I wouldn’t let shame crush me into silence. God conquered shame when he endured the cross. Never forget it and if you lose your way as the road gets longer I hope you know I love you without conditions or exceptions.



Image result for teen textingI remember the first time my dad uttered the words, I was a freshman raging about something that was “so not fair” and he told me, “I understand how you feel.” What a joke I thought, how could he understand the pressures I was facing at 15, or the complete and utter fear I felt about losing my spot in the social circle, or the constant moral dilemmas that made my once strong faith stagger. He couldn’t possibly understand.

Then I grew up a bit, graduated high school, and stopped seeing my parents as parents and more as people with feelings (imagine that). I realized they knew a lot more than I thought. The more I learned of their story and their lives I saw that the longing for love and acceptance might have looked different when my dad was 16 but it was the same beast, just wearing different clothes.

I am a parent now, a mom of two girls and one boy. I have been doing high school ministry in some capacity since graduating college and as I sit in small groups and help girls through their high school years I realize I will never be able to tell my daughters that I fully understand. Things have changed too much.

I am of the last generation to graduate high school without the internet in my back pocket. I had one of those great Nokia phones that had snake and they didn’t add the camera into it until I was 18 and even then you couldn’t send pictures (praise the sweet lord above). I paid for my first cell phone at 15 and before that begged my parents unsuccessfully for a pager. It was different times.  I was not exposed to pornography except through hear say from guy friends. My real internet life didn’t winstrol prezzo start until college because Facebook required a college email to join. Social media didn’t truly take off until I was graduated college and by then I was married and didn’t care as much about how cool I was.

We can’t truly understand what kids are facing because we never had to navigate the burden of social media which is like adding a 100lb weight to the “normal” pressures of past. Not only that, the true discipline it takes actually put the phone down and engage in real life is something most adults haven’t mastered (myself included).

As an adult you have an idea of how popular you were in high school but imagine if you now had a number that really gave you concrete evidence to how accepted you were? Imagine having to see images of all the parties you weren’t actually invited to, the first love who moved on much too quickly, or your best friend claiming someone else is now her best friend to the whole cyber sphere. Now add on the raging hormones that are the hallmark to every high school experience and you have pain and angst we really just can’t grasp.

How can we fully understand something we have never experienced? Love and acceptance are the same desires but the beasts have changed, shifted, and molded, into something so huge most parents are left grasping at straws to help their child navigate a world they themselves have not fully mastered. Because lets be real, we all still want to be loved an accepted, and we may not be on snap chat but it still hurts when all the neighborhood moms go out for a glass of wine and you weren’t invited but you saw the picture. Age doesn’t change our desires. It still stings when some social function happens you weren’t included but you feel like you should have been, no matter how old you are.

So what can we do? First we need to stop telling kids we understand. We don’t. Tell them you are so sorry they are facing unimaginable pressures, pain, and expectations in this new terrain of high school. Tell them you are willing to listen, and then actually do. Don’t tell them it’s silly because it’s not to them, remember how badly you wanted your first crush to ask you out? Now chuckle because you most likely didn’t end up with him or her but it doesn’t change how real the desire was. Pray for understanding and wisdom and ask questions and explore the real world they are in. This is not the time to look away and hope it turns out OK.

If we are going to help we must learn to control the beast in our own lives. In other words put your phone down. If you’re doing something with your kids, don’t put all of it on social media. Don’t send the message that to be special it has to be public. This has changed faith in truly shocking way, times alone with God have become about how perfect the setting is, how beautiful your journal is, and what wisdom you gleaned in ten minutes. I think most Christians would agree that real growth with God happens in the times you were hidden, quiet, and struggling with just God, not God and your 1k followers. The real world doesn’t shine a spotlight on most people. Real life is somewhat mundane, waking up, working hard, and finding bits and pieces of glory in the average. We aren’t setting kids up for success if the only joy they can feel is from outward praise. We must prepare them for the ordinary by not having to make every moment special.

Have hours of the day that are phone free, and enforce it throughout the house. That means everyone has to put the phone down. My kids don’t have phones yet but my husband and I have had to create lots of parameters around our phones because even in our 30’s we can’t handle the allure of it all. We must discipline ourselves if we are going to teach the generation below us to be disciplined. We must come to grips with the reality of the distraction in our hands instead of pretending we are old enough for it not to control us. I’ve spent enough countless hours on bored panda scrolling through funny dog pictures to know I’m not immune.

Finally, take their phone at night. I know I have no right to say this because I don’t have high schoolers but see I’ve sat in small group rooms for the better part of ten years with girls from all over and the common denominator for bad phone decisions was time. Nothing productive happens after 11pm, besides the occasional long study session a phone and a teenager and midnight is dangerous. The temptation and options are limitless. Satan will pray on isolation and darkness. We all know people make most decisions they regret at night, it’s just how it goes. Bars and clubs are closed during the day, they just aren’t as appealing until the sun goes down. A cell phone in the hand of a lonely, heartbroken, or hurting teenager is like a grenade with the plug pulled, it’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when.

Trust me as someone who has been trusted by a lot of teenagers, they want the boundaries, they want the lines, they want to know you will fight them for what’s right. I’ve had girls actually tell me they wish their parents had more rules. I met with a girl last summer who had everything most kids want out of high school and she wanted out, she was tired of being a pawn in the party scene and she said to me, “I wish my parents gave me more rules so it was easier for me to not give into temptation.”

Their world is full of pain and people who want something from them. They are surrounded by tangible evidence of how liked they are by their peers and they are hurting for people to help them navigate it all. They don’t need us to understand they need us to love them and listen and provide them with truth when necessary.

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