Parenting teens

Faulty Trust Amidst A Greater Love

My seventeen-year-old daughter handed me the worship CD, before exiting the car for school.  I parked in our driveway, and turning up the volume.  I listened to her velvety voice worship God.  Salt tears mixed with the taste of my morning coffee; the immense joy I experienced overshadowed the chaos of the prior day.

Could this have been the reason for yesterday’s monkey wrench?  

 Early that morning, I was compelled to pray for my daughters’ protection and favor, the burden heavy on my soul.

But later that afternoon, as I entered my home, my youngest blurted out heavy words.

Mom, please don’t be mad, but… I got in trouble at Stop & Shop. 

  What did you say?

Hard words from my strong-willed child.  And in fear of my anger, she phoned her grandmother to deal with the store’s management team instead.


Trouble found her and a friend quicker than the wind in a sail.

The words she blurted out? Nonchalant.  Her countenance? Aloof.

What’ll it be next time?  You’ve tried drugs?  That your drinking?!  Or dead?!


My shrill voice ricocheted against the walls of my home.  I slammed dishes into the dishwasher.  I hurled my work bag to the floor.  The anger that birthed inside was uncontainable.

A still voice beckoned for reason and compassion, but there could be no calm.

It had been over seven years that I had laid a finger on any of my daughters.  I hadn’t wanted them to grow up the way that I had—receiving a stinging slap over the most trivial mistakes. I spoke within reason when they crossed the line, removing instead, their most prized-possessions.

But stealing lipstick and snacks was unacceptable.  The ‘no-spanking’ vow had to be broken.  A few lashings with my thickest belt against her backside, brought tears.  But what she truly needed was a contrite heart, a complete surrender of walking intimately with the Father.

The Return

My daughter had picked an ideal day to get into trouble.  A few hours later I brought her to a special night of praise and worship, led by her older sister and a group of teen musicians.

Could her actions have been a call for attention?  She wasn’t able to see that the enemy of her spiritual heart and soul was bent on destroying the unique calling on her life, even before she’d realized what it was.

She measured herself against her gifted sister leading praise and worship. She wasn’t the over-achieving Ivy-league sophomore with high honors, and leadership positions.

My youngest daughter:  A brilliant writer, well beyond her years. A perceptive heart, able to discern her classmate’s sufferings. Deep compassion for the underdogs. But that day, Satan stole from my daughter unmercifully. An impulsive teen and the destructive forces of evil are a lethal combination.

[bctt tweet=”The enemy prefers ashes, where spiritual beauty is permanently shackled.”]

Her privileges? Revoked.

Her testimony to her unchurched friend?  Ruined.

Opportunities for future freedom?  Limited.

A Restless Night

Sleep evaded.  Images of my own mistakes flooded my heart, youth-imbibed moments that were met by the unfailing mercy of an eternal creator who was patient, a gentle-spirit who would woo me in my youth to the religion aisle of New Haven’s Waldenbooks.

Make no mistake, we still battle unseen forces daily. Know this, satan is insidious.  God tells us that the thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

Got unity?  He wants to divide.  Have great kids?  Pray hard for wholesome friendships.  Working on remaining pure until you meet your God-sent?  Temptation will wreak havoc on your flesh.

You are marked, friend.  The enemy wants your calling.  He wants to drown your name out so that he is glorified. He revels in your broken and empty.

Got destiny?  He wants to steal it. Your witness to a dying and misguided generation—yeah, he’s after that, too.

[bctt tweet=” Got destiny? Then satan is all-about your bottom-rung ladder. “]

Crucial Conversation

The next afternoon, I found her cleaning her room, folding the scattered clothes that covered the corner.  I grieved her “stolen toiletries” incident.  I’d be a hypocrite to preach unconditional love.

How was your day?


I love you, I’m sorry I had to spank you.

I went too far, Mom.   I grab her fiercely, her chest collapsing into mine as I stroke her brown waves.  Remorseful tears fall.

I’m sorry for letting you down, Mom. 

It’s a new day, I love you.

I can’t sing like Adrienne, I can’t—

You are you, God has great plans still.  But you won’t become who you’re meant to be if there is no surrender.

I watch her as she retreats to the backyard and waters our little garden. She cultivates the tiniest pansies, discovering a pale pink strawberry, determined to grow amidst the ravenous squirrels.  She is a teen version of myself, down to the shape of her mouth and light-brown glimmer in her almond-shaped eyes.

Hard to fathom that her heavenly Father offers a stronger and more infinite love and mercy…



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