A Mom’s View: What I Learned From Watching Alena Star in War Room

A Mom's View - What I Learned From Watching Alena Star in War Room
Have you ever taken a step back and peeked into the heart of your child?

It’s a beautiful view.

Maybe it’s when you see your timid six-year-old perform her piano solo with a confidence and boldness that you did not know she possessed. Or maybe it’s when you watch your 9-year-old selflessly give her last piece of candy to a friend or your 15-year-old courageously lead a group of her peers in worship.

Opportunities like these are a gift. They allow us, as parents, to take a step back from our normal view of parenting—teaching, instructing, disciplining—and witness the character that is brewing and blossoming on the inside.

Bold, selfless and courageous moments are the makings of a beautiful story.

Last summer my oldest daughter, Alena, was in the movie, War Room. War Room is a movie about the power of prayer and Alena plays Danielle Jordan- one of the lead characters, alongside Priscilla Shirer and T.C. Stallings.

Ironically, prior to this experience, Alena’s acting career consisted of a few fireplace performances with an audience of 5, my husband, me and her three younger sisters. So after weeks of auditioning and praying, you can only imagine the shock we all felt when she received the call to say that she “got the part!”

There is nothing I want more than to see my daughters live out loud for Christ and being a part of this film was an opportunity for my sweet 10-year-old to do just that.

For 6 weeks, as I watched her film, I saw Jesus at work in her life and in her heart. I was her mom, but the film’s director (Alex Kendrick) was her boss and she had a job.IMG_1415

At times it was hard for me to watch her independence but in those moments I saw her work harder then I thought she was capable of with a selfless love, humbled posture and determined attitude.


It was wonderful. I was grateful and I was convinced that, although I play a significant role as her mother, who she is and what God has planned for her has little to do with me.

Each moment with her on set was a reminder to me that my four daughters are actually not mine at all, they are His.

And the beautiful story that is blossoming is one written by none other than the Creator Himself, God.Atlanta_WarRoom_314

Since day one I have prayed that God grants each of my daughters a heart that yearns to know Him and a willingness to follow His lead. I have prayed fervently that He grows them into little Jesus-chasing-world-changers.

But can I be honest? Answered prayers can be scary, especially when they involve my children.

Wynter and Alena Pitts in War Room

Praying for our children to yearn for Christ requires selflessness and following through on our end of the deal – when the Lord answers this prayer – requires an unimaginable amount of personal sacrifice. The call is for a total release of control and a willingness to sit back and watch Him work.

Ultimately, as parents our answered prayers keep us on our knees.

The longer I parent, the more evident it becomes that my children are His.

God taught me this lesson in a fairly dramatic way with Alena being cast as “Danielle.” But truthfully, most often God is calling us to a posture of prayer, release and trust in the very small, seemingly insignificant moments in our life.

And when I am speechless, unsure or afraid of where their desire for Christ will lead them, my knees hit the ground and I pray these simple words,

“Dear God, she is Yours and I trust You with her. Amen.”

As parents, our part is to steward well as they cross the bridge that leads them back into the arms of their Father.



For Girls Like You DevotionalTween girls have access to an unbelievable amount of media and information with just a simple click of the remote or mouse. Every outlet they turn to attempts to subtly influence their worldview…and what they believe about themselves directly affects how they live.

Wynter Pitts, founder of For Girls Like You magazine, gives girls a new devotional showing them a correct definition of themselves, opening their eyes to God’s truth and the differerence it makes in their lives. Each daily devotion includes a prayer to help girls apply the lesson. ~ from the Publisher
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Available here: For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens 

A Prayer for My Son’s Someday Bride-to-Be

A Prayer for Our Son's Someday Bride

I can tell you the exact moment I began praying for our son’s future wife.

Maybe not the month.

Or even the year.

But definitely the moment.

I’m sure there must have been a context of some kind, but most of those details have faded and now all I can remember are the words that he said.

“I want the kind of wife who would be able to pull an arrow out of my back. That kind of woman.”

He was only 11 or 12 years old at the time, so why he would be thinking such thoughts I’ll never know.

All I know is that it stopped my mama’s heart.

This brought up so many questions I wanted to ask him. Starting with, “Why, Son? Why an arrow?” Then, “Why would it be in your back?” and “Who would do such a thing?” and so on.

And finally, “Where in the world do you get these ideas from??”

It was our first conversation about his someday wife.

But it wouldn’t be our last.

We’ve a had a number of discussions since that time and they’ve all been interesting and insightful. I’ve appreciated hearing his perspective as a young man living in the current culture. It can’t be easy and it’s nice to know that he takes it seriously.

Of all the things he’s said during these discussions,  my personal favorite was when I told him how badly I wanted a good relationship with his future wife – whoever she ended up being – and how I was a little afraid of what she might think of me.

I confided, “I really hope your wife will like me and that maybe we’ll even become friends.”

He was young and answered me briefly, almost fiercely, “She’d better like you, mom.” Sounding nearly like a threat.

I believe that was one of the highest compliments he ever gave me. And I tucked that one deep down into my heart.

Now our son will soon be graduating from college and he no longer talks about arrows. He lives across the country and we only get to see him once or twice a year. But we talk and Skype often and I’m grateful for the man he’s become.

This same son was recently in a good friend’s wedding, having enjoyed a close friendship with both the bride and the groom. As the best man, he offered the newlywed couple the following blessing after the cutting of the cake:

Dostoevsky wrote, “beauty will save the world” and, whether or not he realized it, truer words could not have been spoken. The story of the Gospel and God’s love for us contains the greatest beauty of all.

In the same way that marriage is meant to reflect God’s relationship with his Church, I believe that your relationship has always been – and always will be – one of beauty, filled with goodness and truth.

As long as the two of you are in the world, the rest of us have hope and your many kids will have a chance to grow up loving and seeking the Lord.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about the words he shared. Because this really is how Christian marriage is designed to be—a relationship filled with beauty, goodness, and truth – and how desperately the world needs to see more of this kind of love. Actually, we could all use this kind of hope right now.

And so I continue to pray for his someday wife. 

A Prayer For My Son's Someday Bride

The newlywed couple, with our son on the right

A Prayer for Our Son’s Someday Bride-to-Be

I pray that she will be full of beauty and kindness and wisdom.

I pray that she will be soft in heart and strong in spirit.

I pray that she will laugh at his jokes, put up with his teasing, and carefully listen to his deepest thoughts.

I pray that they will stay up late whispering their dreams and sharing their ideas.

And that the two of them will wake up in the morning as much in love as ever.

I pray that it will only be the beginning of a lifelong friendship between them both.

I pray God is even now preparing her to be his wife, just as I know He has been preparing our son to be a husband.

I pray that she’ll understand what it is to receive forgiveness. And be ready to forgive in return.

I pray that she will lovingly respect him and that he will cherish her always.

And, as much as I hope that she will be crazy-in-love with our son, I pray that she will love Christ even more.

And, yes, I pray that she will be able to pull an arrow out of his back.

But can’t help hoping that she will never need to.

Above all, I pray that their relationship will be one of beauty – filled with goodness and truth. A reflection of God’s love for His Bride.


In my prayers,
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One Surefire Way to Know You’re Doing This Parenting-Thing Right

One Surefire Way to Know If You're Doing This Parenting Thing Right

I went off to sleep in my usual style.

Slipped under the covers. Snuggled up against my man.

And crashed.

My sleeping technique is rather simple these days. You might call it the Totally-Exhausted-Mom Technique.

Or maybe the I-Can’t-Keep-My-Eyes-Open-Any-Longer approach.

Whatever you call it, this mom knows how to crash. And she likes to stay that way for as long as possible.

But then something happened the other night soon after I’d fallen into a deep sleep.

I was awakened by a strong sense that I needed to pray for a particular child of ours. Like right then and there and with all my might. No waiting for the morning or some other convenient time.

So I prayed.

And called out.

And cried out.

At 11:17 pm and 2:23 am and again at 4:12 am.

The strange part about this pressing need for prayer is that I had no specifics. No special situation or immediate problem. I only felt an urgent impulse to pray.

And over the years, I’ve learned to take that prayer-nudge seriously. Very seriously.

Pray first. Ask questions later.

After a mostly restless night of vigilant prayer, I finally dozed off shortly before dawn. When I awoke, I fumbled for my phone so I could see the time and that’s when I saw her text message. Sent at 2:32 am.


That was it. A short, direct message without explanation.

I messaged her back at 6:17 am.


This child doesn’t even live at home anymore and yet I’m still the praying parent in her life.

So can I tell you something? Mom-to-Mom?

You are going to find yourself on your knees for that child of yours more than you might think.

And you might be tempted to wonder whether you’ve done something wrong.




I mean, why else would you find yourself in fervent prayer for your child? So often and quite so desperate? But the truth is this:

Prayer is an essential part of parenting.

You’ll pray for health and safety when she’s only an infant in her crib.

You’ll be praying again when she’s throwing fits when she turns two.

You’ll ask for insight and patience when he’s running around at ten.

You’ll cry out for wisdom – and perseverance – when he or she reaches thirteen.

And you’ll call on the God Who Moves Mountains when your child hits eighteen.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Because even after they move out and live on their own, you’ll be responding to text messages at all hours. Needing you to pray. And by then you should know that there’s nothing better you could do as their parent.

So if you spend a lot of time on your knees? It doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong.

It means you’re doing something right.

So keep praying, my friend.

You already know I am. Throughout the night.

It’s what parents do.

In His grace,
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What If We Teach Our Daughters to Be Ladylike?

What If We Teach Our Daughters to be Ladylike

I was sitting at a table next to a sweet friend who is 20-something, and we were working on a service project together. I was actually using a pair of scissors and felt almost crafty for a moment.

Talk turned to bridal showers, and when you’re 20-something you attend a lot of these. My friend was telling me about a new trend.

It’s alarming to me, so may we chat about it here?

She told me it’s all the rage now, at bridal showers, to create explicitly sexual jokes, in order to tease the bride. One example: Showing pictures of a guy’s private parts. And these things are happening in circles of supposedly nice, church-going girls.

It’s not surprising that this happens, considering the frequency of Victoria’s Secret commercials on TV and half-naked women on magazines at the grocery store check-out line.

We live in a sexually explicit society.

But is this what we want for our daughters? Do we want them to forget how to blush?

The word ladylike comes to mind. It means there are certain activities that are appropriate for a well-bred woman. Allow me to use my English degree and share with you words that are synonymous with ladlylike:












Isn’t that an admirable list? These are words that I want to use to describe my daughter, and notice that modest is the last word on the list. Modesty is a hot topic these days, in relation to how a woman dresses, but it also applies to how a woman acts.

A ladylike, modest woman would not show pictures of a man’s genitalia at a bridal shower.

Don’t you want your daughter to be elegant and well-mannered? Aren’t those lovely words?

If your answer is, “Yes, please tell me how to make this happen!” then we have to back up.

Let’s back up and think about our little girls.

We tell a two-year-old who is swinging her skirt above her head, “Honey, please put your dress down. It’s not ladylike to lift up your dress.”

We tell a six-year-old, “Please don’t belch like that. It’s not ladylike.”

We tell a 12-year-old, “No, you’re not buying pants that have writing on the bum. It’s not ladylike.”

As moms, we teach toward the behavior we desire. If we picture our daughters becoming refined, proper women who would be distressed at sexually-overt bridal shower games, then we have to teach toward that objective every day from the time our girls are little.

Finally, [mothers], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, [teach] such things.  (Philippians 4:8  ESV)

We must introduce the word ladylike and the activity that is associated with it.

We also need to model ladylike behavior, and we may find we need to do some polishing of our own character before we can influence that of our daughters. If you were raised in a home where there was no boundary of appropriate talk and action for women, you may have some unladylike habits to purge.

But how glorious that we can steer the course of action within our own families. If we want ladylike daughters, we are in the powerful position to shape this beautiful behavior in the lives of our daughters. (And this teaching will infect the boys in our home, too!)

*Do you know a woman who is ladylike? What is your favorite quality in her?



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Reviving The Lost Art of Loyalty

Reviving the Lost Art of LoyaltyMatt was tracking his brother and his brother’s friend on an app for the Huckleberry 100. When we could see their bikes were only 15 miles out from the halfway point, we drove downtown to cheer them on at the rest station.

“They’re six miles out,” my husband said.

“Five miles.”

“Should be any minute now,” he said.

But they didn’t come and didn’t come.

We chatted with some friends who had done the family length of the bike race. Still our guys hadn’t come around the corner. We exchanged concerned looks.

Finally they came slowly around the corner.

Immediately we could see the serious look on Luke’s face and the pained look on his friend’s face. Evidently, the friend wasn’t far enough out from a previous hamstring injury to be riding a race. His leg was causing him intense pain, and there was no way he could turn the pedals one more time.

My brother-in-law grabbed a snack and took off, trying to make up time. We loaded his seriously bummed friend and his bike into our vehicle.

“I started hurting at mile 35,” he said. “I kept trying to get Luke to go on ahead, but he wouldn’t leave me.”

We dropped of this injured guy at Luke’s house, and on our way home I said to my husband, “Your mom raised good boys.”

Luke had trained intensely for this 100-mile race for a long time, but his friend mattered more to him than his race time did.

This is what it means to be loyal.

It is ironic that the greatest perseverance Luke showed in the race was in sticking close to his friend.

Teaching Loyalty in Your Family

People give up so easily on each other these days, but we can teach our kids to be the kind of people who value others over their own comfort. We can teach them to make personal sacrifices in order to keep their commitments to people.

One way to begin teaching our kids loyalty is to insist that they keep their promises. If they commit to being somewhere or to helping someone, they have to keep that commitment regardless of the personal cost to themselves. If a more enjoyable activity presents itself, we want our kids to say, “Sorry, I promised this other person I would be there for them.”

In Philippians 2:4 (ESV), Paul tells the followers of Christ:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I have to admit that loyalty does not come easily to me, but my husband has modeled this trait over the years, to the point that he and our kids are the ones who set the example for me.

I’m learning about loyalty, and I am asking God to develop this character trait in me. I’m practicing, and I can see steady improvement.

We have to start with ourselves and ask, “Am I loyal to the people in my life?” After we’ve evaluated our own perseverance in relationships, maybe then loyalty would be a good topic of discussion around the dinner table.

Let’s be families who are known for our extraordinary loyalty.



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15 Things to Love About Being a Mom of Boys

15 Things to Love About Being a Mom of BoysGot boys?

Yeah, me too.

Four of them.

Our oldest son and then three young boys.

And I can’t believe no one told me how wonderful being a mom of boys could be.

Not that I don’t love my girls—you already know how dear they are to me—but boys? They’re some of the best.

Like the best.

And if you ever spent much time around them….you would certainly understand why.

So I began a list of a few things that I love about having boys.

At first it was going to be “10 Things That I Love,” but then I had such a hard time limiting it to “10” that I upped it to 15.

Maybe 150.

So really, this is only a starter list. Because I’m sure you’ll have a thing or  two to add to what I’ve got here. But this is what I came up with . . . .

15 Things I Love About Being A Mom of Boys
15 Things to Love About Being a Mom of Boys

1.   I love their fiery spirits.

I love how they’re ready to right all wrongs and jump into danger. How they grab their swords and fight to the death. (Okay, not literally, but you know what I mean?)

2.   I love their tender hearts.

Just when you think he’s the toughest, roughest, sort of kid, he surprises you with the softest word or kindest touch. Melts my heart. Every time.

Boys in the Mud

3.   I love how they smell like dirt.

You didn’t think I’d say that did you. Or at least that I’d mean it. But I did. And I do. I love that musty smell they have—a bit like the dog’s toy that got left outside for a couple of days. Like bugs and grass. Earthy. And sometimes just downright muddy. 

15 Things to Love About Boys8

4.   I love their mischievous impulses.

Like when they hide under the blankets of my bed and wait patiently for me to crawl in…and hear me scream! (pretending I didn’t see those wiggly, giggling bumps under the cover?) I love their silly jokes and goofy pranks. Well, at least most of the time. Placing the explosive Snapdragons under the toilet seat was bit much. Grrrr….!

15 Things to Love About Boys3

5.   I love how they wrestle, tussle, and attack.

Keeps me young. And limber and strong. I probably would have given up wrestling years ago…if I didn’t have to fight off a bunch of bandits who can often appear suddenly out of nowhere.

6.   I love their protective instinct.

In spite of all that, these young lads can be quite chivalrous. They can’t bear to see me dragging a heavy load out to the trash. Or to get hurt. Or cry. I try to tell them that “I’m stronger than I look,” but they don’t seem to quite believe me. They want to save me from all harm. And that’s okay with me.

15 Things to Love About Boys10

7.   I love how they can make me laugh.

And, oh, how they can get me going! And once they get started? There’s no stopping them. Sometimes laughing until tears stream down my cheeks. Especially that youngest one (far right). The ham. 

15 Things to Love About Boys7

15 Things to Love About Boys6

8.   I love their constant motion.

Oh my goodness. Never walking. Always running. And do your boys ever sit still?? Because mine certainly don’t. They wriggle and squirm and twitch until I…send them outside. GO PLAY! Whew. 

9.   I love how loud they are.

I never thought I’d say this. But here I am. I’ve actually grown fond of the way they slam the doors, shout to each other in the same room, and sing full volume while washing the dishes. I mean, who needs a quiet house? (Okay, I do. And that’s when I send them back outside!)

15 Things to Love About Boys9

10.   I love how hard they work.

It makes me smile to see them to do their best to keep up with their dad. Whether feeding the animals, tilling the garden, or mowing the lawn—they’ll give it all they’ve got. (Not that they don’t need a little push now and then….)

11.   I love all the funny noises they make.

The grunts. The burps. The motor noises. And, well, those other somewhat indescribable and rather embarrassing noises too…..

15 Things to Love About Boys

12.   I love their sweet snuggles.

Does it get much better than this? Even their older sister (who is away at college) called to say how much she misses snuggling with her brothers. Dusty, sticky, and stained—I’ll take cuddles from the boys any way I can!

13.   I love how they argue over who gets to make my coffee in the morning.

Somehow their dad has convinced them that this is one of the highest honors a man can have. I know. I’m sure I don’t deserve it, but I drink it up all the same. One spoiled mom. 

15 Things to Love About Boys5

 14.   I love how they look up to their dad.

Yes, they know he’s not perfect, but he’s their dad. And he’s a good man. And the boys love and respect him.

They also know that they are deeply loved by him.

15 Things to Love About Boys

15.  I love how they grow into fine young men.

So to be perfectly honest? I don’t know that I was as patient – or as appreciative – when this young man was a squirmy, muddy, running-hard kind of little boy.

But as each year goes by, I can see more and more clearly the calling God has on his life.

I can see how he would need that high level of energy and that kind of drive to do the things that he was made to do.

15 Things to Love About Boys

In some ways so much has changed. He is no longer a boy, but a young man.

He is still my son, but far more of a friend.

And he still has a mischievous grin and doesn’t mind a little dirt.

And he still has a hug for his mom.

So you can probably see why I love being a mom of boys.

It’s the best.

The very best.

Run strong, son. Run strong.

In His grace,
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*Got boys? Share with us something you love about having a son! 

Photo credit: Most of the photos are thanks to the boys’ Auntie Brenda and the last photo is from Captured! Photography.

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