I’m going to be real honest with you. We have had a rough time in our house over the past two years, battling serious disrespect and disobedience. It has been discouraging, disheartening and flat-out exhausting.
My nearly eight-year-old spent six years as an only child. And though she adores (ADORES!) her baby sister, the changes in our family and our home have rocked that strong-willed first-born’s life something fierce. She has been helpful and sweet and loving and compassionate as we’ve all adjusted to being a family of four, but she’s also been rebellious and mouthy and melodramatic.
It’s been hard on all of us. Hard for my husband and me to figure out how to curb this behavior and hard on her as she comes face to face with the human struggle Paul so perfectly describes in Romans:
I have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out.
For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
Lately, we’ve been so frustrated – me, feeling unsure of what parenting tactic to try next because NOTHING seems to work, and her, feeling powerless to change the behavior she knows in her heart is wrong.
So we spend our days, figuratively beating our heads against the wall and literally yelling and crying and yelling some more. But then, we finally come together in the [sometimes] [supposed-to-be] quiet moments before bedtime. And we pull out her favorite book for devotions and we remember: Nobody is perfect, and God loves and can use us anyway.
Last Christmas, my parents bought the same book I’d already bought and stored away for my daughter: For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith and Breezy Brookshire, a collection of 40 stories about women in the Bible. Each story comes alive with Angie’s beautiful language and Breezy’s intricate illustrations. And each one ends with a special section called, “He, Me, She.” In that section Angie pulls out the main points about what this story tells us about God and what it teaches us about ourselves, and then includes a prayer for parents to pray over their daughters.
As my daughter and I have slowed down and calmed down, night after night, to read through these stories, she noticed a pattern. After reading about real women who encountered Jesus and walked away changed, she asked me: “Mommy, why are these women all so bad?”
That simple question led us to talk about how making bad choices doesn’t make us bad people, and – even more importantly – how Jesus didn’t punish or yell at the woman at the well or the adulteress being accused. He loved them. He forgave them. And He changed their hearts and their lives.
For my highly emotional daughter and her short-tempered mother, that has been a reminder we need day in and day out. When both my bursts of impatience (often loud, sometimes ugly) and my calm questions are met with statements like, “I’m TRYING!” and “I don’t KNOW how to behave better!” and “I’m a horrible person!” we clearly need to stop, breathe, and remember God’s love and grace.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we need to begin reading this book twice, before school AND at bedtime!
Another surprising benefit to reading For Such a Time As This with my daughter is the prayer portion of each devotion. After listening to me pray the scripture over her several nights in a row, my daughter took the book out of my hands one evening. After I prayed for her, she wanted to pray for me.
Some of the words were a little bit above her reading level, but she stumbled through, filling in the blanks with “Mommy” where I had used her own name minutes before. My little girl wanted to pray for me.
Even after fighting all morning about what she would wear to school and then again over how long she would practice piano before dinner, she wanted to pray for me. Even after being asked to help her sister pick up toys that she hadn’t played with and being told, “Just a minute! Not now!” again, she wanted to pray for me.
SHE wanted to pray for ME. Wow. If ever I needed a picture of grace, that little girl is it. She needs my grace, and we both need God’s grace – but somehow, she effortlessly hands it to me. Day after day, no matter how long or full of frustration that day has been.
I don’t know what kind of “time” your family is going through right now. And I believe that the difficult season we’re in won’t last forever. But I am grateful for a book like For Such a Time As This that presents the biblical truth I know will be timely and heart-changing no matter what “time” we are in.
We’re so excited to give away two copies of this book!
Dayspring has kindly offered to give away two copies of For Such a Time As This, along with a beautiful journal, so you can dive into these stories and prayers with your own daughter. To enter, simply leave a comment telling us which story about a woman in the Bible speaks to you right now or what story you’d like to share with your daughter.
Winners will be selected randomly and announced next week, and must live in the U.S.