The Parent Trap: What to Do If You’ve Fallen Into a Parenting Rut

The Parent Trap - What to Do If You've Fallen Into a Parenting Rut and How to Get Back On Track

Do you remember those first moments after the birth of your first child?

For me, time, itself, came to a screeching halt as I gazed down upon my son

. . . My Son.

Those words were an explosion, an earthquake.

From somewhere deep within the unreachable expanse of the universe, an announcement was being made: Matthew Leonard Jacobson is now a father.

He lay there, peaceful, content – not doing much of anything except for the cadence of his perfectly formed chest, beating out the rhythm of life – like a drum in preparation for battle.

I couldn’t stop staring, couldn’t get enough of this . . . this vast miracle. It was like staring into the Grand Canyon for the first time – too big, too wonderful. You can’t take it in because your mind can’t contain it but, you can’t stop gazing into its endless mystery.

The drive home from the hospital was fraught with peril.

Never before had I realized how crazed the mad drivers of Portland really were. Why, there was one hapless driver who had the nerve to get within three dangerous car lengths of my back bumper! Didn’t that wreckless tailgater know I had The Sacred, Fragile, Treasure of the Universe on board? Unbelievable! It was non-stop peril until we got inside the apartment and locked the door.

“Piece of Work” pretty much sums it up for this first-time, maniacally overprotective father.

What God Is Doing in the World

Sanity was not long in recovering herself as we settled into our dreams for our new family. Once again, from somewhere in the Universe as we gazed into the oceanic expanse of this massive little life, we heard the Inspiring Voice of Destiny laying before us all that our new son could and would be.

What we were experiencing – what every new parent experiences on some level – is what God is doing in the world.

This is what makes the advent of a child so otherworldly, so exhilarating.

Do you remember those first weeks? God, in His infinite wisdom and divine purposes, has entrusted you and I with what He is doing in the world.

Children are what God is doing in the world.

But then . . . we forget . . . because of the noise, because of the bills, because of the pressures, the groceries, the activities, the schedule, the culture smog . . . because of The Parent Trap of everyday life.

Where once was vision, purpose, God’s best for the future, and our commitment to be purposeful, godly parents, are the endless demands of modern “Christian” life stuffed into too few hours until we fall into bed, hoping to get enough sleep so we can do it all again.

It’s a trap. It’s The Parent Trap.

The Parent Trap

God’s purposes haven’t changed from those first few hours you experienced eternity in the form of a little life. God’s vision hasn’t changed. What God is doing (our children) hasn’t changed, even though they’re a little older now.

But, we have changed.

We’re older, more tired, distracted by cares and a thousand other things that blur the focus of the trust placed in us by God for the discipling of our children.

And that makes all the difference when it comes to being the shepherd of our children’s hearts.

When You've  Fallen into a Parenting Rut and How to Get Back Out

How do we get out of the trap and regain the understanding and vision that what we are doing as parents is so much more important than the busy things that scream for attention ?

We have to get our head back in the game or, more to the point, get our eyes on eternity, where what we do here and now will be ultimately realized.

1)    We must remember that our children are what God is doing in the world. Say to yourself every day, “My child/children are what God is doing in the world.”

2)    Remind yourself that, “My relationship with my child is more important than any activity we will do today.”

3)    Tell yourself that, “Today, God has entrusted this little life to me to nurture, to shepherd, and to point the way to Him.”

As parents, we have this moment with our children. There is no guarantee for another. We don’t know the future.

Let’s be reminded that Jesus only chose 12 disciples (those the Father gave Him, it says in the Gospel of John) to turn upside down the entire world.

How many disciples did God entrust to you?

Dad, Mom . . . you are the head of an enormously important enterprise. It might seem like only a bunch of messy peanut butter and honey on the outside of jars and a lot of dirty laundry but God is at work through your faithful witness and focused leading of your family to bring about the future as He intends – that’s massive.

So, remember the destiny you saw and felt in those first few weeks of your first child.

You’re walking in that destiny, even now.

Matthew L. and Lisa JacobsonMatthew L. Jacobson has been in the book publishing industry for 22 years and is currently the president of Loyal Arts Literary Agency. For the last 10 years, he’s served as a teaching elder in his local Church. Matthew and his beautiful bride of 22 years, Lisa, raise their 8 children in the Pacific NW. You can join him at his blog by clicking here: or find Matthew on facebook.
100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson


Six of the Best Blogs on Loving Motherhood

6 of the Best Blogs on Loving Motherhood

So when I started this whole Mom-Thing . . . 

I was nervous.  Excited.

And more than a little scared.

You see, I felt very ill-equipped to be a mom.

I’d never been one before and –  now don’t tell anyone this - I didn’t know what I was doing.

But I’ve learned some things along the way, now that I’ve been mothering for over 20 years. Some I learned from experience. Some I learned the hard way.

But mostly  I learned from mothers who had gone before.

I read books, articles, and magazines – anything I could get my hands on that would help me become a better mom.

And now we have this thing called blogs.

Advice and encouragement is only a click away!

I don’t know about you? But I don’t have tons of time to search out, try out, and figure out what’s the best. So I thought today I’d share with you some of the best blogs I’ve found on loving motherhood.

*These are all blogs which share from a Christian perspective and which focus primarily on encouraging motherhood (rather than a variety of topics). You can “click” on either the title of the blog or the image and it will take you directly to each one. 

The 6 Best Blogs on Loving Motherhood

Pint-Sized Treasures

Mom-to-mom encouragement for your journey in motherhood.  Alison, the mother of six beautiful children, offers all kinds of encouragement and ideas!  She will inspire you with her articles on parenting, recipes, crafts, devotionals, pregnancy and more.  I always leave her site feeling fresher and lighter than when I arrived. 

Pint-Sized Treasures with Alison Wood

The Busy Mom

Real encouragement and honest discussion about life as a busy mom. The mother of 7 and grandmother of one,  Heidi St. John is a popular speaker and author who offers humor and refreshing honesty in all her communication.  She writes on balancing life as a busy mom, as well as help for homeschooling and loving God’s Word. You can count on Heidi to speak straight to ya and I love that about her!

The Busy Mom with Heidi St_ John

Joyful Mothering

Discipling mothers and helping mothers disciple their children. Christin Slade is also the mother of 7 children (two recently adopted from Ghana!) and her heart for children and the Word of God is a definite blessing to me. This was one of the first blogs I followed when I started blogging. I especially appreciate her series on “Moms in the Word”!

Joyful Mothering with Christin Slade

The M.O.B. Society (for Moms of Boys)

Finding delight in the chaos of raising boys, and raising a generation of men to love the Lord. If you’ve got boys, the MOB Society is great place to go!  Erin Mohring and Brooke McGlothlin co-host this site FOR Moms of Boys, By Moms of Boys. Brooke is also the author of Praying For Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most

The MOB Society

Mothers of Daughters (M.O.D. Squad)

MOD Squad [mŏd/skwɒd] n Mothers of Daughters: Modern moms raising girls with timeless Truth, walking together. And if you have daughters? Here’s a place for you. Stacey Thacker, mother of 4 daughters, and others offer inspiration and practical truths that are applicable for girls of all ages. 

Mothers of Daughters with Stacey Thacker

The Better Mom

Our mission is to build God-honoring homes by inspiring moms to be better moms through sharing life and learning together.  Not only have I been blessed by being one of the writers for TheBetterMom, I’m also an enthusiastic reader. It’s actually one of the few blogs that I subscribe to!  Ruth Schwenk and the women behind these articles are genuine, godly ladies and I’ve personally benefited from the wisdom and encouragement offered there. You’ll find a wide variety of topics and interesting articles over there each day.

The Better Mom with Ruth Schwenk

So I hope you find all of these resources helpful and insightful!

But before I close - more than anything - I’d encourage you to spend time seeking God and looking in His Word FIRST.

Because nothing, nothing, can replace or improve on the wisdom and refreshment that comes from God above. 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ II Tim. 3:16-17

I’m so thankful to be walking with you through this whole Mom-Thing!

*Please share your favorite(s) blogs on mothering, or feel free to share your own blog if you’re a blogger as well.  I’m very interested!

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L Jacobson
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My 10-Step, Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Children

My 10 Step Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Children

My heart went out to the poor thing.

The little dear was crying.

Screaming, really.

A total meltdown.

And I didn’t know who I felt more sorry for – the young child? Or his struggling mom?

It was a toss-up. They were both so miserable.

My husband and I were at the Costco check-out and I could hear him wailing all the way down the aisle. I think we all could hear him.

I knew what the mother felt like. You see, I’ve been there. Except that I didn’t just have one child.  I had three, maybe four, and it wasn’t any fun.

In truth, I’m not an enthusiastic grocery shopper in the first place, but then to add a crying kid or two?

Well, I think I’d rather we went without food.

But as the rest of my family had a different opinion, I figured I’d better come up with a plan that worked for all of us.

A Zero Meltdown Plan.

And I’m going to share it with you today.

You know, just in case you ever need it . . . or know someone else who might.

My 10-Step, Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Young Children

1.   Feed your children first . And then yourself. Never go shopping when you’re hungry. Never, ever.

2.  Leave when you’re all well-rested. Your kids. And yourself. (You knew I was going to add that, didn’t you.) Go in the morning, or after naps, but avoid going right before naps or close to bedtime.

3.   Write up your grocery list before you ever go out the door. This list is your strategy plan and you have to stick to it. Take care of all the decision-making before you even get there.

4.   Decide on your expectations for your children (does not apply to babies). Come up with a policy that you believe is reasonable and clear. Things like, No grabbing items off the shelves and No begging for particular food items. No whining (goes for mommy too) and Always stick close to mom. That kind of stuff.

5.   Explain instructions before you leave the house. Sit your children down and slowly and lovingly walk through your expectations with them. Don’t be in a rush. This is important.

6.  Outline the consequences of not following the Grocery Store Policy. Again, slowly and lovingly. The consequences will vary from family to family (and I highly recommend getting your husband’s input, if that’s an option).

7.   Review instructions again before leaving the vehicle. Yes, even if the grocery store is only 15 minutes from the house. Children can have such short memories with these things.

*Let me add that it’s easy to assume that our kids know what is expected from them, but this is not always the case. We have to spell it out to them. And repeat it. And repeat. And . . . :)

8.  Get your shopping done as quickly as possible. Not necessarily rushing, but this is not the time to browse or meander. If you want a leisurely time of it, then arrange to go sometime without your young children.

9.   Be willing to follow through on consequences. Seriously. If you miss #9? Well, it kind of defeats the purpose of #4, #5, and #6.

10.  Reward your children for behaving. Personally, I’m a big fan of rewards! Not bribes, not spoiling, just a simple celebration of a job well done. Maybe a treat, a special privilege, or even just an excited phone-call to daddy telling him, We did it! Yay!!

Real-Life Homemaking Series*Bonus: Reward yourself.  Highly recommended. Your celebration may vary a bit from your child’s, but a mommy could use a little treat now and then too.

*Extra, extra bonus:  Teach your children about shopping as you go along. Talk to them and explain what you’re doing and why.

And before you know it, they’ll be doing the shopping for you. I say this because I’ve basically worked myself out of that job.

And that’s a reward in and of itself! Big yay!!

*Any tips you’d add here? Questions or concerns? I always love hearing from you!

In His grace,
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Teaching Our Children The 10 Habits of Happiness

Teaching Our Children the 10 Habits of Happiness

The goal of parenting is not a happy child, but to turn out a successful adult.

That ‘s what our friend informed us as we all sat around the dinner table together. Two couples enjoying a fine meal and fine china. Two couples without children.

And you know something? At first, it seemed to make sense.

Our friend expounded on his theory. I mean, what makes a child happy? If you give a kid a piece of candy, then he’s happy. If you don’t, then he’s not. You can’t build a life around that.

Now isn’t that the truth!

Never mind that the gentleman didn’t actually have any children of his own. He was older and wiser. A sage looking on from a distance.

But then Matthew and I went on to have children ourselves and our view changed a bit. Quite a bit. Suddenly we didn’t see anything wrong with wanting our child to be happy.

And, tell me again, how does happiness conflict with being a successful adult?

Maybe we wanted too much.

But my husband and I wanted our children to enjoy both a happy childhood and a successful adulthood.

We started to consider the possibility that the two of these went together – even went hand-in-hand. We began to suspect that learning how to be happy could be a very important skill to take into adulthood.

What if we were to  pass on to our children the habits of happiness as a gift? Something  that they could carry with them wherever God took them in life.

The 10 Habit of Happiness to Teach Our Children

1.   Happiness is not found in things. Things will never make you happy. Never. Stuff will always remain just that: stuff. So don’t get drawn into the Stuff Game – it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

2.   Happiness is a choice. Here’s the deal: happiness is not something you “find” or that “happens to you”. The beauty of happiness is that it is a choice you get to make. Every day. So why not choose to be happy?

3.   Happiness is not about getting your way. We think we’ll be content if we finally get what we want, or if things go our way. But that’s not how it works. Getting our way all the time is rarely as satisfying as we think it will be.

4.   Happiness grows out of thankfulness. If you make it your habit to be grateful each day for the blessings around you – whether big or small – you will find that you’ll become a happier person. The secret  is simply being  thankful for what you have right now.

5.   Happiness is found in looking after others. Surprised? Often, we assume that happiness is found in looking after ourselves, but the irony is that we are the ones who are blessed . . . when we are blessing others.

But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. ~ Prov. 14:21

6.   Happiness isn’t a personality trait, but a character quality. Some people seem happy as if that’s just the way they were made. Not so. Happiness is available to all for the taking. You can learn to be happy –  much like you learn to be honest, kind, and thoughtful.

7.   Happiness is found more in relationship, than in achievement.  While there’s nothing wrong with achieving goals, never let those goals come before the people you love.  Always invest in relationships more than fame or fortune.

8.   Happiness means giving it your best. And resting in that. Doesn’t have to be perfect.

9.   Happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances.  You don’t have to let your situation determine your happiness. For inspiration, read about people like Corrie Ten Boom or Darlene Deibler Rose and you’ll see what I mean.

10.   True happiness is always grounded in the God of Hope.  He is the only real source of true joy.

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God.  ~ Psalm 146:5

The Jacobson Family Having Fun

So now we’re enjoying raising a bunch of happy kids.

And aiming those happy kids toward a successful adulthood.

Looking to the God of Hope together.

In His grace,
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(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

100 Ways to Love eBooks TinyOur books are now available:  100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

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