Monday, April 15, 2013

If You Don't Run, You Can't Lose (or can you?) and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
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**A Note from Jen**

I wrote this post well before the tragedy that struck the famous Boston Marathon. 

Today at the marathon, bombs went off around the finish line starting at 2:45.  While some of the runners had already finished, the race came to an abrupt and horrific halt for many others.  What was meant to be a day full of glorious celebration for a monumental task well-done ended with terrible and gruesome pain.  The official count of the injured is around 26 right now and 2 are confirmed dead.  I don't know how many were runners or how many spectators, but it doesn't matter.  Any injuries and death are horrible.  Boston police are still finding bombs and dismantling them right now. Please be in prayer for the city of Boston, the witnesses to this tragedy, the runners, and our country as a whole.  We need to be on our knees, beseeching our Almighty God.
It's not a secret.  I have two girls.  And yet, I am reviewing a book about raising boys.  The funny thing is that I didn't read the small(er) print.  I simply saw the large letters, "I'm Outnumbered!" and I thought, "Yes!  Yes I am!"  It's just like me to skip the fine print: One Mom's Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys.

But no matter because even though boys and girls are different in, ahem, a myriad of different ways, I think a lot of parenting struggles have many of the same roots.  

For example, recently my 3rd grader ran for "city council" in her class as they finishing up their government unit.  She rehearsed her speech (over and over and over again), she picked out a pretty dress, and made sure I was committed to curling her hair that morning.  She was nervous and excited and all I could think about was this:  

What if she doesn't win?

And as I let myself wander down the road of what ifs, I actually had the thought --

If she didn't run, then she couldn't lose.  (cue removal of name from ballot for Mom of the Year)

In that moment I realized how afraid of failure I still am, not only for myself, but maybe even more for my children.  In that moment of wondering, I had let failure loom a larger size than my God, who tells me that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Fear of failure is just a tool of the enemy.  

Fear tricks me into playing it safe.  Fear tells me if I don't try, I won't be risking anything.  But that is a lie.  To not do the things He has called me to do, regardless of the outcome, is to risk my very relationship with Him.  It shows Him that I do not trust Him, that I doubt His promises, and that I find security in myself more than in Him.  I want to trust that no matter success or failure, He can accomplish anything He wants to through me.  And sometimes, worldly failure is part of the plan. 

Sometimes worldly failure is necessary for spiritual success.

Laura Groves, author of I'm Outnumbered, writes this:
"As moms, we are tempted to protect our sons from ever failing, but it's important to remember that failure can be a great teacher." (page 78)
This quote sends me back into Romans 8:28:
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."
I think every mother, whether you raise girls or boys or both, takes heart in this very idea.  God uses everything.  He wastes nothing.  It does no good trying to protect our children from what God will use to build them up and teach them heart matters such as humility, graciousness, faith, and dependence on Him.

And if we think about it deeply, would we really want to raise children who never learn failure?  Because if they don't experience it, I think they tend to fall into traps that are sticky-filled with things like self-sufficiency, pride, and arrogance.

I'd rather Abby lose than develop those traits.  The larger truth is, I'd rather her be deemed a failure by the world's standards, but have her heart won over by a Savior who redeems all things.

(Okay, true confession: I think I still struggle with the fullness of that last statement.  Because I do want her to be successful in worldly ways on some level.  Just being fully real here.) 

So, my point, no matter what genders you parent, we can all learn from each other's wisdom.  Would you like to partake of more of Laura's wisdom?  You can enter to win her book using the Rafflecopter widget below.  (I love how we can rally around our sisters and support them, don't you?)

But before you go, will you answer this week's T.R.U.S.T. question?

In what areas of life are you or have you been afraid of failure?  How is God speaking to you about this now or how has He spoken to you about it in the past? (Or, given today's tragedies, how can we cling to hope (let's think tangible ideas here), remembering there is nothing from which God cannot bring good?)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's the link to purchase Laura's book.  Click here.


  1. Ba, hhhhaaa, hhhha, haa.

    I'm first! Sorry, it's been a goal. Ha!

    I already have this book. It is fantastic! I have girls, and I read it, and then I bought it for two of my friends who raise boys.

    Laura Groves is the real deal.

  2. right behind you, amy! jen - i fear failure at school. and failure/success defined by state testing standards, at that. which seems lame. but....

  3. I fear not striking the right balance between grace and accountability -- in my classroom, in my interactions with others. I keep looking to Him!

    Thanks for the shout out, Amy -- hope you enjoyed the book. And Amy, thanks for your kind words, too.

  4. I loved what you shared from your heart as a mom. I relate I do. I fear failing my kids and also I fear writing...if that makes any sense since I blog and write... :P Praying for the people in Boston. Evil never sleeps... I am thankful for my amazing and faithful God who does bring hope even in the most dire circumstances.

  5. Seems we both hit on "fear" today! Love the line, "Sometimes worldly failure is necessary for spiritual success." Such a real truth that can often be hard to look at. Yes, too often look at the physical, when what God does in the spiritual is really all that matters!

  6. These words of yours:To not do the things He has called me to do, regardless of the outcome, is to risk my very relationship with Him. It shows Him that I do not trust Him, that I doubt His promises, and that I find security in myself more than in Him. I want to trust that no matter success or failure, He can accomplish anything He wants to through me. And sometimes, worldly failure is part of the plan.

    It is ultimately about whether we trust God is big enough to deal with our failures. I wrote about trust in my post today as I signed up for my first online writing class.

    I appreciate you, Jen :)

  7. Raising these boys of mine has taught me to trust in Him - I've had to learn to trust - it goes back to being a child of divorce - trusting my husband, trusting my God has been the foundation of it all - one trust issue at a time. It is hard watching my boys struggle - it's been tough watching them walk through the hard places - they need the Father - and I do as they walk it!

  8. This is such a good post for me to read. As of right now, my husband and I have signed forms for our 7 year old daughter to be tested on 4th grade level in reading, mathematics, and spelling. If she passes, she'll be put into a program that will give her a chance to study on the level she needs to be on academically. If she doesn't pass. well, she stays in her first grade level of mathematics, reading, and spelling.

    While her teacher was suggesting this to us, I automatically thought "What if she fails the test? She will feel like she's not good enough." I started to worry what it will do to her, if she did. But I have learned that if she doesn't pass, it's not the end of the world and I'll let her know that. She can be tested again. (She's only allowed to be tested twice in her elementary school years). Just let her know that she is awesome just the way she is because that's how God made her!

  9. "God uses everything. He wastes nothing." That is such a precious truth that brings me comfort and helps me relieve some of my own fears. Thanks, Jen.

    1. Lisa, this was the part that most caught my eye, too. That truth had come to mind as I considered this week's TRUST question.

  10. I think my greatest fear is that I am not living up to God's standards -- that my life is "not enough" and that I could be doing more for Him. I am not writing a book or saving orphans in Africa.... Am I going to get to heaven and be that girl left holding one talent when some Super Jesus Chick has like 20 million talents?

    1. I think the best gauge of this is if we are doing what God wants us to do. It doesn't matter how big or little it seems in the eyes of the world (or our own). It just matters that we do what He asked us to do. (BTW, I struggle with this, but I am working on believing it fully.)

  11. I will need to get this book. I especially just love your humility and wisdom, Jen. I fear failure when I lean upon my own strength rather than God's.

  12. I'm so glad you're featuring Laura and her book - which I've wanted to read for some time now! I am outnumbered by boys :) And yes, I struggle with letting them fail by the world's standards. There is a parental urge to protect. Also, with regard to Boston - I am leaning on God and his promise that he is always with us. Always.

  13. We are American missionaries called to serve in the field of this country. As we have traveled with 3 of our 4 children, something has stood out to me (well, many things have stood out to me... but this something pertains to your post!!) The world is fickle! The expectations and standards of "success" are not all measured equally as you traverse this nation... let a lone the world. I understand your heart to, in some ways, like to see our children succeed in the world. my oldest headed off to college, not sure if he was standing firm on the Rock. Once he got there, God grabbed his heart and all, ALL we had prepared him for and thought he would do... changed. They only steadfast point was the Word we had sought to plant before he left. My heart, like yours, wanting to prepare him for a World here (AND There at the same time), was suddenly renewed and reassured that the most important truly was the World we prepare him for There. And so,added to that, as we travel and I see the values of "success" shift from one city/state to another, One constant remains... :-) I loved your post and share your heart in ups and downs of raising those God has given us.

  14. Wow! Loved this! I was guilty of trying to protect my boys, especially my older son, from failure as they were growing up. I didn't become a believer until my older son had moved out, but love how it is never too late for God to teach us something. Learning to trust God has allowed my relationship with my son to grow. I'm not sure if that made sense, but I really did love what you shared today Jen.

  15. Technically, I'm not outnumbered. I've got one boy and one girl, but I fear failing them. I want them to know God in a way I never did as a kid. But then just thinking about that fear makes me realize I don't want to impart my perfectionist ways on them! It's like a vicious cycle that is only broken when I give myself and them to God and seek God first and then try to mother them. (I'm telling myself this, not just you!)

  16. Oh, my, I hear myself in every line in this post. I am not so good at letting my kids fail. Case in point... today I delivered the lunch that was left on the counter because I didn't want my kindergartner to have to eat the school's icky mac and cheese. Yesterday, I drove my eldest to school rather than making him ride the bus because he needed extra time to complete the homework he'd forgotten to do. And the day before that, I helped my youngest tie her shoe rather than letting her trip on her poor tie-job and learn from my warning- "that bow's not gonna hold".... UGGH. I may need more than a book. How about counseling! I'm outnumbered anyway you look at it- 3 girls, 2 boys... help! Love the way you're always honest here, friend.

    1. Oh, it is so hard to let those natural consequences happen, isn't it? It causes us moms physical pain. And yet, God does it for us, out of love, every single day.

  17. Jen, my girlfriend and her husband, 5 years ago, adopted his 3 grandchildren and, graciously, allow them in my life. I'm in over my head, probably, so are the parents. The 10 year old girl has started her period...her little head isn't equipped to handle being 10 much less pre-womanhood. Her birth mother "rented" her 3/4/5 year old daughter to men and would tell her, "if you want to be liked, you have to have sex with men." This precious child has been imprinted and now, her adopted mother and I struggle...OH how we re-claim this child for God.
    What does this have to do with your post? Probably nothing but I needed to tell someone.

    1. I am so glad you shared this -- these are heavy burdens that God desires us to give to Him and other sisters to carry with you. I will be praying for this precious child, that she would receive His healing and His word on her life, that she would know that she is more valuable than rubies, that her Father loves her and that she will know that He can bring new life out of even death. You are loved.

  18. Jen, I would be shocked if there was a mom on the planet who hadn't thought this: If she didn't run, then she couldn't lose.
    We want to protect our children from failure, yet that's how they learn. It just hurts so watch them go through it. :-(
    Yet, always propping them up does lead them to arrogance and other sticky traps, as you note.
    Well said, as always, Jen.

    As far as your TRUST question goes: I was always afraid of finding out for sure I didn't have anything special to offer, that there wasn't a job on this earth that I could do and LOVE. Then when I learned there was something cool I could do that filled my soul to overflowing, I was afraid of failing at it. God has been loud and clear to just trust him and follow. This year, it's about committing to action, taking steps forward, that He will take me where I need to go, but I had to step into the River Jordan to get going.

    1. Amen, Kim! He did not create any of us to be nothing -- if we trust where He leads and lean on Him for strength, He will uphold us and take us to new heights!


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