Guest blogger--Hayley Novak!

10:39 PM

Hello, readers.

   Here is a little weekend treat for you that I know you aren't going to want to miss.  I say "weekend" as you will probably not be able to read it on Friday unless you're quite the night owl, because I am getting it posted so late. :( But it's no biggie, just go to bed if you're feeling too tired and tomorrow morning grab your Saturday morning coffee and pad on over here in your bathrobe and slippers (that's right, I'm talking to you, with your hair in a towel) and sit yourself down to a real blogging treat.  Bound to make your whole weekend just a little bit better.

Meet Hayley and her beautiful family.

    She is bound to steal your heart if you'll let her, and maybe even if you don't.  I can't quite remember how I found her blog...perhaps through my friend Janene?  Not sure.  But I will never forget the moment of discovering it.  Why? Because after stumbling upon it, I found myself still sitting there an hour later, pouring over old posts, unable to tear myself away, reading of her family's incredible journey through losing a loved one.  Losing a child.  I could hardly make out the blurry lines through all the tears streaming down my face. 

   But there is beauty in the broken, and this woman and her family are a testament to finding their hope and strength in Christ.  I am sure you will be as delighted, inspired, and encouraged with her testimony and refreshing honesty as I was.  Head on over to her blog and leave a comment to say hello.  It just might make her day. And without further ado, here she is.


{of mama bears and disrespectful cubs}

"Your son said I have no possibility."

   Earnest words from a gentle, humble man who helps teach the 4 and 5 year old Sunday School class at our church.

I was floored.

I was humiliated.

   We tried to reassure Mr. H that our Jacob could not even know what that means and that we would deal with it.

   I can still see myself staring out the van windows on the way home from church, vacillating between indignation that my little cub had been pounced upon and utter frustration that my little cub was so growl-y.

It got more complicated.

   Suddenly there were more teachers involved, there were more frustrations that had been accumulating; two pages of the offenses of our four year old documented in careful handwriting.

   Daniel and I did not even know where to begin. Sorting to the bottom of the no possibility issue, we found that we were right and while Jacob was expressing disagreement, he had no idea what he was saying. Daniel guided him in writing a letter and asking forgiveness of the man he had hurt.

   We were trying to be good parents, and we knew Jacob was stubborn and headstrong, but had no idea that he was being this disrespectful on Sunday morning as we blissfully dropped him off and imagined him coloring the lions in the lions’ den.

   Of course, he also started biting his fellow nursery-mates when he was old enough to have teeth; I won’t soon forget being called out of church during the Christmas Cantata because another baby was bleeding. Seriously, how does a baby make a baby bleed?

   His first word was “no” and he drove me to tears many days with his stubborn heart.  Even though we were reading (and applying) Shepherding A Child’s Heart and soaking up the Proverbs and spanking and spending time and loving and being consistent and cuddling and doing everything we knew to do, the fact remained that our precious Jacob was a very strong willed, difficult child.

   But he was my baby, and hearing (and seeing) his sins and knowing that people were unhappy and disgruntled with him made my mommy-heart angry and defensive.

   There were a number of things that annoyed us about the way the situation had been handled by others and licking our wounds, we sought some sympathy and understanding from our friends Chase and Deeann. They listened, agreeing that logging the offenses of a four year old was a bit excessive, but then they provided some excellent advice that we have not soon forgotten. Chase pointed out to us that while Jacob worshipped the ground that Daniel walked on, he was actually very difficult for most other authorities in his life. They suggested taking a deep breath, shaking off the mama/papa bear protectiveness and appreciating the opportunity we were being given to train and mold our son into a
happy, respectful child.

   Since those days several years ago, I have been formulating an unofficial little checklist for when someone comes to me with a little report about one of my kids.

1.) Is there truth in the accusation? Well, yes, there was definite truth in the accusation. It was actually totally true. The only part that wasn’t true was that Jacob didn’t understand what he was implying.

2.) Is there anything (at all) that I can learn from the criticism given? In the case of the Sunday School offense log, there were tons of things to learn. While I wouldn’t choose to handle the situation the same way if I were the teacher, finding out that my child talked during the lesson, didn’t make eye contact, and was generally disagreeable was actually good. We didn’t want Jacob to think that behavior was okay; and while our pride smarted from the injustice of having every tiny fault of our four year old picked on, we were painfully aware that a foolish child would continue to grow into a foolish man.

3.) What will I be teaching my child by how I handle this bad report? Will I teach him that nothing I do is wrong and this household makes no mistakes and how dare you criticize us and look at all the bad things the other kids do? Will I be teaching blame-shifting or humility? Will I be choosing the high road or throwing barbs back?

   As I leave mama bear behind and focus on training the little people that God has entrusted me with, my focus changes when I hear my child criticized. A child whose mom is constantly jumping to his defense is often headed on a fast track to fulfill his own willful, selfish desires; constant defense is not a blessing to my children and will not prepare them for life.

   Three years after the no possibility incident, our JD is not at all perfect, but he is not the same disagreeable bear cub. I shudder to think what my little boy would be like if we would have refused to acknowledge or accept criticism of him. At seven, he is smart and happy and bright and funny; he loves being involved in our church; he enjoys choir and soccer and home school co-op classes. Recently I asked one of his teachers if he was respectful during class time. She looked at me blankly : “Jacob? Oh yes, of course!” (Or course, by writing this, I am probably jinxing myself!)

   It’s hard, it’s tough to do, it’s humbling to eat that humble pie and it doesn’t taste too sweet; God tells us in His Word that fools despise wisdom and instruction, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7)

   Part of fearing the Lord as a mom is teaching our children to fear the Lord; training them to have a teachable spirit, and leaving Mama Bear for the story books!

  • Hayley loves Jesus most of all
  • Married to Daniel (love of her life)
  • Mommy to JD (last heard googling “how-to-make-forts-out-of sticks” on her phone)
  • Cambria (her hair and nail stylist)
  • Gabe (walking with Jesus)
  • and Eli David (the chubba-love)
  • She writes between bedtime and midnight at Firefighter’s Fam.

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  1. Wow! This was an excellent read. I, too, am the parent of a strong willed child, but he's the kind that often fools other people into believing he's a really good kid. He has driven me to my knees many times. Parenting advice is good, but this is even better. Real life situations, honest parents and a willingness to share about the tough stuff that god is teaching you. Thanks, Hayley.

  2. Ahhh thank you Shelley. . . you're too kind.

    And thank you Wanda. . . children that drive us to our knees are a gift from God. :) But a challenging gift for sure!!

    I'm so thankful for the parents on the road ahead of me who have been honest about their own situations. . . there are no perfect children and there are no perfect parents. Eternity will reveal the fruits of our labor! Praying for children who bring glory to God!

    1. Children that drive us to our knees...what a beautiful way to think of it.:)

      Thanks again for such a great post, Hayley! I really enjoyed it.

  3. This is so so so good! I have two children, and although I'd say both are strong personalities, the one is definitely more a challenge. Thank you, Hayley, for your openness and honesty, and I am so blessed by reading! I know I'll be thinking of this for a long time after!


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