Inspiring Dreams in Our Daughters

inspiring dreams in our daughters

I guess I was always a dreamer.

Often lost in my own world. So many things I wanted to do and so many places I wanted to go.

As a young girl, my heart was full of wild dreams and high hopes. I wanted to meet wonderful people, read great books, and travel around the world. I wanted to learn other languages, play Chopin, and minister to the needy. I longed to become a wife and mother.

Yes, lots of big dreams floating around in that little girl’s head. And, by God’s grace, many of those dreams came true.

Like enjoying dreamy daughters of my own.

Now here they are imagining all the things that they’d like to do and places they’d like to explore. How I love listening to their grand ideas and beautiful visions! I’m thrilled to cheer them on as they seek God’s calling on their young lives.

How Do You Inspire Dreams in Your Daughter?

Accept that her dreams might be different than your own. One of our daughters hopes to get her novel published. One is interested in graphic design and another in event-planning. Yikes! I’ve wanted to do a lot of things, but never wanted to do any of those. But that’s okay. It’s exciting to see the variety of interests each girl has and the different way each one is gifted.

Give her opportunities to develop her talents. This is the fun part. Brainstorm and seek out all the possible ways your daughter can gain experience and strengthen her gifts. Music lessons. Travel. Political campaigns. Photography. Business meetings. Half-marathons. We’ve done all these.and much more. See what you can come up with together.

Calm her fears. I guess we all have our insecurities and worries. What if they don’t like me? What if I fail? What if I change my mind? What if I’m not good at it? Umm…I can so relate to every one of those questions. And I’m a Big Girl now! So yeah, our daughters need to hear our encouraging and comforting words. They can do whatever God has called them to do and they just might need you to remind them of that fact – often.

Protect her from harm. So while I’m all for inspiring big ideas in our daughters, I’m also concerned for their safety. I actually don’t want our girls roaming the streets of Paris – like I did when I was 19 – even if it does put a damper on their plans. Some dreams aren’t worth the danger. At times we’ve had to get creative to come up with a way that she can venture out, but not be put in an overly risky situation.

Affirm the joys of being a wife and mother.  Maybe this one surprises you. But, yes, I do encourage our daughters in their hope to marry and raise children some day. While they have to hold this hope loosely – not knowing what God has planned for them – it has a place at the top of their list of dreams. And why not? Out of all things I’ve gone and “done”, this one has brought me the greatest joy.

In some ways – in many ways, really – I’m still a dreamer. Just today the girls and I were thinking up all kinds of things we could imagine getting to do some day. We talked about traveling, missions, and meeting people. We couldn’t help wondering where The Lord might be leading in the next year or two. So many possibilities.

Hmm….I do wonder.

Are you a bit of a dreamer too? In what ways do you encourage the dreams of your daughter? I’d love to hear!

In His grace,
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Helping Your Daughter with Healthy, Loving Friendships

Helping Your Daughter with Friendships

So I’m a big fan of friendship.

I believe good friendships are an important – and necessary – part of a person’s life. We were never meant to be loners. God intended that we learn to love and walk with others. You can see that everywhere in Scripture.

I get that.

But here’s something that I didn’t really “get” until the last few years. Friendship is a skill that can be learned and pursued.

I wish I would have understood that better when I was a young girl. I think it would have helped me in my relationships with the other girls. I guess I thought friendship just kind of happened—you know, either “worked” or “didn’t work”.

So I’m teaching our daughters differently. I want to help them understand what it means to find a friend and how to be a good friend.

Here are some ways to help our daughters with healthy, loving friendships….

Simple first step: Be friendly. This is harder for some girls than it is for others. But we want our girls to eventually overcome their own shyness and insecurities and reach out to others. It’s such a blessing to see a smiling, friendly face.

Reach out to all. (James 2:1-4) Don’t just look to the pretty or the popular, but have a heart for those who might be standing back or go unnoticed.

Practice friendship with siblings. It’s never made much sense to me that someone would be ugly to a brother or sister, then sweet-as-pie to everyone else. I suggest that home is a terrific place to work on your friendship skills.

Invest in a few special friendships. Naturally, you can’t have deep friendships with everyone. I have a few girlfriends whom I have purposed to be close with because of their example and encouragement to me – and I’d like the same for my daughters. (I Thess.5:11)

Seek the counsel of your parents. (Prov. 6:20) As an older and wiser woman, I’ve had a lot of experience with people and friendships. A mom can usually recognize those who’ll have much to offer and those who come with a caution. A daughter would do well to heed her advice.

Avoid gossip. (Prov. 16:28) Admittedly, this is a huge temptation when girls get together (even Big Girls!). But there’s nothing quite so destructive as discussing other people. Decide this kind of talk has no place in your friendships.

Be honest. Speak the truth in love (Eph.4:15). Girls sometimes avoid communicating the difficult stuff because they don’t want to “hurt anyone”, but it’s also important to say the hard things in a loving manner. Learning to speak up when you’re offended or disappointed is valuable in a close friendship.

Be forgiving. (Eph. 4:32) Girls get their feelings hurt. They just do. But we shouldn’t hold a grudge or grow bitter. Practicing forgiveness is necessary in long-lasting friendships.

Be prayerful. I’ve encouraged our daughters to pray for the kinds of friends they so deeply desire. They’re also praying that they become the kind of friend they want to be to others.

Be loving. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth….(I Cor. 13)

In some ways, this is only a short list of what goes into a good friendship – but it’s a strong start!  I’d be very interested to hear what you would add to this list as well?

And next week, I’ll be talking about the friendships in our sons’ lives, as well. Some things are the same, of course, but I’ve noticed boys can have their own challenges too.

In His grace,
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A Dozen Ways to Look After Your Daughter’s Heart

A Dozen Ways

I nearly panicked when our first daughter was born. That sweet baby girl.

Not sure exactly why, but I keenly and immediately felt my inadequacy as a mother. It’s true we had a son, but I guess I figured that if things ever went wrong, I could always hand him over to his dad.

But a girl…..?

I knew a girl needs her mother.

I knew a mom has to care for her heart – oh, how well I knew! I knew she would turn to me to learn how to be a woman and to navigate the complexities of life.

What I didn’t know was just how to go about it. How does a mom look after her daughter’s heart?

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1.  Walk together.  The girls and I have some of our best talks when we’re out walking together. Maybe it’s the fresh air, or the steady movement of our legs, but there’s something about it that opens hearts and minds to good conversation.

2.  Take tea together. Although we have a very busy household, most every day we sit down and enjoy a cup of tea for 15 to 30 minutes. It’s a daily connecting point and a nice opportunity to bring up questions, grievances, or just fun news.

3.  Bring home little gifts. This is the “love language” of one of our daughters in particular. It’s only something small, but it says to her that I’m thinking of her. And all my girls appreciate the sharing of a bit of chocolate.

4.  Set aside a special time for her. The girls love it when we make special plans together. Sometimes I’ll grab one and take her out to a cafe. Or we’ll all dress up and attend a fancy event for an evening.

5.  Work together. For me, it’s less about “getting the job done” and more about the camaraderie of working together. Talking and laughing while we fold clothes or prepare a meal.

6.  Seek her out. Don’t wait for her to come to you. My girls mentioned recently how much they appreciate being checked on to see how they’re doing.

7.  Take the time to listen. Lots of time. A girl’s heart cannot be rushed or squeezed in between a zillion other priorities. She needs her mom to be available to simply listen to her thoughts and concerns. Her fears and her insecurities. Her hopes and her dreams.

8.  Pray for insight. It isn’t always clear how to reach through to your daughter. Be prepared to earnestly pray over her, asking the Lord to show you what she needs from her mom.

9.  Guide her with wise instruction. A daughter relies on her mom’s wisdom and solid counsel – helping her to sort through the choices, relationships, struggles, and challenges that face a young woman.

10. Enjoy her for who she is. She is uniquely made by God. So delight in her personality, her gifts, and, yes, even her more annoying traits. She needs to feel her mother’s loving acceptance.

11. Be patient with the process. She’s not going to get it all right, all the time. And that’s okay. I’ll remind myself, “How it is today, isn’t necessarily how it’s always going to be.” Give her room to grow.

12. Offer encouragement. Tell her specific things that you admire and appreciate about her. Communicate that you are confident in her future and that God has good plans in store for her life.

So, as you see, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to connect with a girl’s heart. It’s not simple and it’s certainly not a science. No wonder I panicked.

But your daughter – that sweet baby girl – sure is worth it, isn’t she?

Yeah, I think so too.

These are a few of the ways I connect with the girls in our family. What are some of yours?

In His grace,

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Raising Heavenly Kids

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To My Daughter on Managing Self-Esteem

A beautiful guest post by Christy Fitzwater. 

To My Daughter

Dear beautiful daughter,

I did not know that when I was 44 and you were 19, I would be the one struggling with self-esteem. I didn’t know I would be the one shouting out over the internet, Will someone please tell me if I am okay? But after much praying and digging hard in the Bible and listening to God, I have learned. Now I know how to manage this fragile ego of mine, so listen and let me tell you what healthy self looks like…

In one of our favorite movies, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Francis Ouimet enters the U.S. Open as an amateur golfer, and he does shockingly well against legendary British golfer, Harry Vardon. The game is golf, but the story is about the shadow of judgment:

  • Francis’ mother encourages him, but his dad disapproves and tries to get him to give up the foolish notion of playing the gentleman’s game of golf.
  • A beautiful and well-to-do girl believes in Francis, but her snooty brother belittles Francis at every turn.
  • A crowd follows Francis as he plays, and they respond with cheers –groans –cheers –groans –cheers –groans –their reaction based on how he performs in the moment.
  • The reporters hold pens in hands, ready to share with the world every detail of Francis’ victory or defeat.
  • Even Francis himself wavers between his own judgment that he is good enough to play the game and then doubt that causes him to ask aloud, Why am I here?

In every scene the shadow of judgment raises Francis’ feeling of worth or makes his hands shake with nerves.

The caddy comes in close behind Francis, scowls at the crowd as he sees the effect they are having on Francis’ game, and cuts through the judgment with powerful words.

We’re working here. Don’t listen to them. We’ll play our game and let those guys worry about theirs.

Keep your head down. I’ll watch the ball and we’ll par this hole.

Let ‘em look.

Read it. Roll it. Hole it.

It’s not until Francis learns to remove himself from the judgment all together and to focus on the game itself that he begins to do well.

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This is a picture of our world, my sweet girl. We are continually hard pressed by the judgment of others from without and by our own judgment from within.

But Paul says, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself….but He who judges me is the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 4:3,4 NKJV)

Can we live like this, daughter?

Through the grace of Christ, can we remove ourselves from the judgment by others and the judgment by self?

And begin to really live.

Toward the end of the movie, we see that Francis has finally figured out to how to function outside of judgment. His caddy starts to tell him how the other players are doing, and Francis says, I don’t want to hear how anyone else is doing, Eddy. We play our own game.

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Sweetheart, is it possible for us to play our own game –even though others are competing and others are watching and others always, always have their opinion of us? Can we focus our lives on Christ alone, the way a golfer focuses on the flag at the end of the green?

The Spirit is caddy, whispering, Don’t listen to them. Keep your head down. We’ll play our game and let those guys worry about theirs.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:2)

Christ is the flag.

When you’re 44, my girl, I hope you are finding joy in the game instead of trembling with nerves.

Live with those big blue eyes on Christ, with no care to the applause or groans of the crowd, with no care to what the reporters will say, with no judgment even from within yourself. And please, let not even the opinions of your own momma keep you from playing to win the Prize.

Keep your head down.

Christy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She is the mother of a son in high school and a daughter in college. She enjoys when the days get shorter and the weather nasty so she doesn’t feel guilty about not going outside. Days where she can just read books and write words all day. She can even tell you the plots of 15 missionary biographies without batting an eye. You can read her personal blog. Also find her on Pinterest and Twitter.

*Check out our NEW eBooks, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love to Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

If you’d like these posts delivered directly to your inbox, simply subscribe below (and get the FREE eBook, The 7 Habits of a Highly Fulfilling Marriage).