Friday, January 31, 2014

Boundaries with Kids: A Book Review

It was nearly four years ago that I first read Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

I can honestly say that it was one of the most practical and useful books I have ever read about relationships.  I found that what I read impacted the way I encouraged leaders in ministry, communicated with my family, and saw the way I engaged in conflict with Jason. 

For a long time afterwards, I could be found running about town saying over and over again in different situations, “I have boundary issues” or “That sounds like a boundary issue to me.”  I’m like this when it comes to things I have enjoyed, find stretching, and want to put into practice—moving information from my head to my heart. 

So when my Little Love arrived late last spring, one of the books I knew I wanted to read was Boundaries with Kids.*  I borrowed it from the library and finished it this week.  It is a book I plan to order and keep on my shelf so I am able to return to it again and again and again.

The guiding principles of this book are 10 Biblical boundaries that help us live healthy lives in relationship with others.  These are the same boundaries as in the Boundaries book; however, the focus in this book is how parents help their children to develop boundaries as they grow.  In this way, they begin to take control of their lives in ways that are appropriate for their stage of development—from infancy all the way through adolescence and beyond.

As I read, I found myself thinking about my boundary issues once again.  It was a good reminder that I still have boundary issues and I still need to work on them.  I thought about how some of my boundary issues developed as I considered my parents and their own boundary issues, alongside their parenting challenges with me and my siblings.  It was fascinating and left me feeling compassionate toward them as I realized that many of their own boundary issues have much to do with their own upbringing as well.  In the midst of this, I thought a lot about the many years ahead of me with my Little Love and parenting with boundaries.  I can’t recommend a book more highly.

There were many concepts that I found interesting, but there are two that I want to take hold of and begin to put into practice as I parent my baby right now.  

First, it is a child’s job to test boundaries.  It is my job, as the parent, to keep them in place.  This may seem very obvious, but I can already tell that this will be difficult to practice.  In reflecting, I realize that I have lived and still often live trying to have others like me.  That mode of operation does not really work here all of the time.  I will have to deal with disappointment.  I will have to deal with anger and frustration.  I will have to remind myself that this is okay, because sometimes doing the right thing will not be what my Little Love wants. In the midst of this, I will be helping her to learn to deal with the emotions that we all feel sometimes.

Still being an infant, most of my parenting up to this point has involved creating a safe and loving home and redirecting my baby, not dealing with boundary issues.  However, I have seen this principle at play with nap time over the last three months.  It has taken time to train her, but now my Little Love goes down awake for most of her naps.  The journey to get to this point was painfully hard, trying to decide if her fussing was crying and if she was crying because she wanted me to come back into the room or because she really needed something.  Persevering has been worth it.  Now she fusses and sometimes cries a little when it takes her a little while to fall asleep, but then she sleeps well and wakes up happy.  

I want to remember this small success when we have moved on to more difficult types of boundary issues! 

The second thing I want to hang onto is the need to be surrounded with community.  Sometimes putting boundaries into action is hard.  Sticking to boundaries can be hard.  It can be really hard and still be the right thing to do.  Community is there to encourage me when I need to vent, to cry, to be frustrated with and still love my child. 

I have some wonderful friends who have done life with me.  They have been a source of much needed wisdom and encouragement when I have needed it.  However, I am reminded I need to be intentional in this season of life where our paths do not cross as often anymore to seek out support so that my parenting is not done in a vacuum.  I need to be surrounded by other moms who want to seek Christ as they parent and lift one another and our children up before Him and give thanks and plead for mercy as we walk through the trials of the moment.


I thought of all this when I heard two young girls pushing their mama’s buttons at Kroger yesterday in the checkout lane next to mine, I listened as she tried to juggle their energy and a conveyor of groceries.  I watched them leave the store knocking one another about, one falling in front of my cart, and I saw this mama get frustrated.  My heart went out to her as I remembered being that child to my own mother. 

I also may have just begun talking about this book on boundaries and how it is the kids job to test them with the person was walking nearby as I wheeled my own Little Love to the car.  She told me that she was so glad her kids were grown and I hoped as I was putting groceries into the back seat that at the end of this season with my baby girl that I will be glad I embraced the challenge of raising her with boundaries.


Grace and peace be yours in abundance as you pursue healthy relationships.  May God guide you in the midst of frustration to a place of health in the midst of the loving encouragement of community.

Jessica :)

*I discovered that there is an updated version of the book as I was writing this post.  It was put out three years after the version I read.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Heart Full of Love

It is as I write out a card for his special day that I begin to think of the many memories we have made in the last 10 years.  I am so thankful.

I begin to feel it surging. 

It is in the thoughts of driving back and forth becoming friends,
of falling in love,
of adventures together
the awareness grows. 

It is in the thoughts of how blessed I am to have someone beside me who is not afraid to speak truth in love,
to push me toward growth,
to encourage me,
to point me once again toward Christ. 

It is in the thoughts of his character and the way he lives daily an example of Christ’s love that I become aware that my heart is so full of love.

A heart full of love.  When I stop to consider it, I wonder how I can bear it.
I think about it a minute and wonder if any of us were ever meant to bear a heart so full. 

What if hearts are made to fill to bursting so that we must share our love with others? 

I think of this and smile, letting my heart burst.

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

Grace and peace be ours in abundance as the love for our dear ones grows.  May we find that it increases to overflowing, spilling out over everyone else we meet.  All because He first loved us.

Jessica :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Blessed are the Poor

It was as I was driving back from a trip to the store for a few baby items that I saw her sitting on a bench holding out her cardboard sign.  She was bundled in a coat and scarf, with bare hands holding the words “Anything Helps.”  The temperature was chilly, but not terribly cold.  I found it a bit odd as the only people I had seen there before were waiting for the bus.  

I looked at her, really looked and got all knotted up inside as I recalled that I did not have any food packs in my car.  I had recently finished making up the latest batch, but they were sitting inside the front room at my home.  A year or two ago, I would have run home and circled back, but life with an infant makes it a bit harder to do that.  Instead, I offered her a smile, lifted up a prayer, and when I got home I moved the packs to just inside the front door so I would see them next time I left the house.

I think of this as I listen to the story of Bartimaeus again.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Bartimaeus calls out and will not be quieted.  In the face of opposition he is persistent.  And Jesus stops.

In her book, Come Along, Jane Rubietta writes of this moment:

“He throws away his cloak.  If you were blind, you would never do this, because if you let go of your cloak, you lose your primary possession, the one thing that keeps you warm on a cold night, cushions your seat, pillows your head, perhaps even collects the fruit of your beggings. 

No hesitation: he scrambles to his feet with the nimbleness born of desperation and hope.  He is not begging for crumbs or coins.  He is asking for what only one person can give him.  The man who just walked down the road.
Bartimaeus moves carefully to where Jesus’s voice sounded and halts in front of him. 

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks.

What a world-opening, eye-opening question.

Bartimaeus sucks in a huge breath.  This is it.  It’s all or nothing. And he leaps into that chasm called faith: “Rabbi, I want to see.”

There it is, out in the open, for everyone else to see too.  What gall!  What temerity!  What gumption for this beggar, this street person, to call out to the very Messiah, the miracle worker who walked the streets and talked with anyone, so different from a regular king or other royalty.  To ask for a miracle, to ask to see.”   (p.49-50, 2008, used with permission)
Download the template for my food pack cards here.
I think of the woman on the bench again, with her desire right out there on a cardboard sign for all to see.

“Anything helps.”


Relationship.  Money.  Work.  Home.  Health.  Education.  Love.  Jesus. 

In baring her heart, is she being brave?  Manipulative?  Honest?

Is it desperation that brings her here to this place? 

Could it be that she, too, wants a miracle? I wonder.

Could it be that she is calling out in the only way she knows how in this busy world? 

I wonder at her poverty and think of Jesus’ words. 

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”  Luke 6:20

I wonder about Jesus’ words. 

I wonder about my own poverty.  Where am I poor in spirit?  

What would my cardboard sign say on it today? 

Could it be this woman with the sign is more in touch with her own poverty than I am right now?

 She knows what she wants.

Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Am I desperate enough to reveal the desire of my heart for all to see and bring it to the Messiah?  Do I even know what it is?

Blessing waits on the other side of this revelation.  Healing waits.  Do I want it?

Will I receive what Jesus gives? 

If I do, might it be that he will open my eyes to the signs written by hand on cardboard and others written on the hearts of the people I encounter each day. 

Photo by Missi Kershner, used with permission.
Do I want to bless others? 

Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:12-14 TNIV

Perhaps the woman with the sign is waiting for the blessing that will come as I identify my own poverty, receive the miracle of the heart, and allow the Spirit to work in me.

 I consider this and bring to Jesus a longing to be fully present in the moment.

I receive and along with Bartimaeus, I follow Jesus down the road.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we bring our desires to Jesus.  May we receive the miracle and find that in our poverty, He gives us the kingdom of God.  May we live changed--following Jesus, allowing His Spirit to work in us, making us a blessing to everyone we meet.

Jessica :)

P.S.  Enjoy a free download of the insert that I created for food packs here.  You can print them on cardstock, color them (or let your kids color them) and cut them down to size or be a little more creative than that as time allows.  The food packs are put together in a quart size bag include a fruit cup, a can of Vienna sausages, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, a mint, a utensil pack, and a card.  We keep bottles of water on hand to go with them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Promised Land

“When the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.  The peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the Lord as male and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors.”  
 -Isaiah 14:1-2

I have been reading Isaiah lately.  In the midst of prophesied trouble I have been gripped by the promises of the Lord and His heart for all people. As I was reading the passage above, this poem was the song God wrote on my heart.

Let us laugh with gaiety in the Promised Land.
Let us sing praise with our lives.
Let us work with purpose.
Let us open our arms wide
    To all who want to join
    As we enjoy our inheritance.
We the chosen ones
   Who move with compassion
    Toward the poor and captive and blind and oppressed
    Bringing favor and freedom
    Sealed with the kiss of mercy and a humble Love.

Let it be.
Let it be.

Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we dance to the movements of the Holy Spirit who leads us in ways of compassion and love towards all he puts in our path.  May we be the hands and feet of Jesus bringing favor and freedom to each one.

Jessica :)