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Graceful Responses During Family Change

graceful responsesI have so many memories about 4th grade.

I was given the green light to pack my own lunch and also stepped foot into “Piercing Pagoda” after I reached double digits. Crossing into the big kid world with pierced ears was a BIG deal. The memories of that year were substantial.

As a ten-year-old, I also remember feeling quite conflicted as to who my real friends were and/or how to keep them. I also recall frequently wondering whether my parents understood me or “liked me.” These moments had me running to my room, leaving phrases behind me having to do with how hard it is to be the middle child as well as something else most likely abrasive and untrue. (Is anyone else other than me now hearing these words from THEIR ten-year-olds?)

I think, back in the day, I felt the pressure of responsibility setting in. I enjoyed and appreciated the more grown up expectations placed on me, and I took those very seriously. Having said that, I also recall feeling like life was getting a bit harder.

So here WE are: I firmly believe that my husband and I are in that zone right now — the “zone” where everything is changing —  with our own family. Maybe you can identify with us?

Toddlers, ten-year-olds, and teenagers all fight change, having no idea how to ride it out. These days, we are in the throes of trying to teach ALL of our children how to approach change. Ironically enough, we have a 4th grader this year…but my 3 kids also have a brother coming home very soon, and from a country nothing like America.

As parents, how do we walk through these life-altering and emotional changes with our kids? Of course we trust God. Of course we pray a lot. And most definitely we need to ask those who’ve walked before us for some tips and tools on how to get through hard, long days.

But specifically, and rather simply, I feel God highlighting a particular thing to do right now:

Have grace. And, allow God to change me, too.

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:15).

If you find yourself struggling with how to love your kids in their tantrums and harsh words, focus on grace. That doesn’t mean excusing their behavior, it means carefully trying to understand their hearts and seeing them IN it.

Our kids will experience GOD, and have thankful hearts, when we have graceful responses to their angst. And we, as parents, will be changed, too. We are “being prepared for glory beyond all comparison”…and changed hearts are what we experience as well.



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