Parenting and Spiritual walk with God:
This is such an emotional subject for me. I just want to give praise and thanks to God for making me victorious in Christ Jesus in my parenting. Jesus is real. I have experienced His power in this area in my life!
Quick Bio of me:
I have 4 beautiful children! Abigail 9, Elijah 7, Isaiah 4 ¾, Esther 2. I have been married for 10 years to Matthew Bratcher. We moved to Egypt for 7 months then to North Sudan when Abigail was 2 ½ and Elijah was 6 months old for the purpose of reaching out. Isaiah was born by a German midwife in North Sudan! After 2 ½ years of working overseas the government kicked us out with lots of other trials that went along with that! We landed in the US on November 2012. Every month after we arrived we didn’t know if we would be picking up everything to move to another country. We were in the waiting period of hearing God’s voice and peace about direction. My mother in law comes to move in with us in our 3 bedroom apartment the following year, 2013, as more of a permanent situation because she was on our team for working overseas or here with people. Five months after I have a miscarriage Esther was conceived in my womb. After seeking out about 10 different countries to live, the Lord finally gives us peace that we are not to move overseas, but are to stay here and be used here for His glory! As I was being stretched and purified living in a 3 bedroom apartment with 7 people for 3 years, we cried out to God to give us a big affordable house that we could call home. God gave us a miracle home! In July 2016 we moved into a 5 bedroom home, 2800 square feet. My mother in law got her wish to have the Master Bedroom and I got my wish, to be upstairs with my children but all spread out very peacefully! God is sooo good! He blesses for us to be a blessing!
A little background of my parenting/spiritual journey:
You have to know where I’m coming from to understand my victory! I’m the type of person that just wants to please God in every single thing that I do. He is my best friend. He is my everything. He is the reason I’m sane, I’m alive. I know 100% that when we get rid of sin in our life we get so much intimacy with Him. This intimacy is what fulfills us and causes us to be truly satisfied in our lives and keeps us from depression. My intimacy with Him started when I was 15 in high school. From ages 15 to 21 I was on top of the world with Jesus! I was having so much victory in my life over sin and selfishness and ministry. God blessed me greatly in all my relationships and endeavors. After getting married, I was shocked to find trouble in my soul about not having enough time to spend with the Father. My time was more divided now that I was married. The scripture Paul talks about in Corinthians about how we are divided if we are married. Then after having my first child, I was more in shock at sin that was coming out of me! A lot of times we think, “Oh that sin is there only because I’m going through this trial. It’s not really my fault I am struggling with this anger issue…” But the reality is whatever sin comes out during a trial the sin has been there all along, but it’s just coming out to the surface now in order for you to deal with it. This anger was coming out of me with my first child because of the different trials we experienced with her and being first time parents. Yes, God gave me lots of little victories and things would get better as each year passed, but I still wasn’t experiencing the power of victory in my mind like I knew was possible. I also realized when I was overseas I experienced an intense intimacy with the Father our of plain desperation. When we had to suddenly unexpectedly return to the States I now realize that during the 3 years I have been back I have slowly come out of a desperation for Him because life is very comfortable here in the States. The need for Him isn’t as obvious as being overseas. I thought of the analogy of the cruise ship and the battleship and thought, “If you think you are living on a cruise ship you will live for yourself, but if you are living on a battleship your life is for helping others.” I now can see that the reality of this life on earth is really a battleship, not a cruise ship. We need help or we won’t make it! We need Him, we need people, we need our family! Here recently I know the Lord has miraculously done an amazing work of His power in my mind and in my life in regards to anger and parenting!
Things God has shown me recently:
All of these thoughts stem from me falling into dark thoughts one morning. I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t come to the surface. Out of complete desperation it’s as if I reached my hand up out of the water and God grabbed my hand and I grabbed back. It’s as if He gave me one truthful thought for me to hold onto and I believed it with all my heart. Because I believed it He was able to do all the work of pulling me out of the water to safety! I didn’t do anything to get out of the water except to just believe one truth He told me! One word from God and your life can change in one moment! The one truth He gave me when I was in the water was: “I created you for relationships, not a to do list.” After dwelling on that one thought came all these other thoughts that are helping me stay clear of drowning, but not only surviving, but thriving. Praise the Lord. I love you Jesus.
*If you wake up in the morning and your first thought is, “I have to get so much done today. I have to clean and do this and do that. I need to hurry up and get everything done!” then you might start dreading every day that comes your way. This could lead to depression or suicidal thoughts eventually like it did with me. Why? Because you weren’t created to “get things done”. You were created for relationships! To enjoy relationships! First to enjoy a relationship with God! Then to enjoy your relationship with your husband. Then to enjoy your relationship with your children. Then to enjoy a relationship with your extended family and friends and people you can minister to. Yes it feels good to get stuff done, but at the end of the day if you really think about it, if you got everything done but you didn’t have QUALITY time with people and God do you really feel satisfied? Yes God is a God of order and we do need to keep our houses clean, but we have to change the way we think about it all. We have to do it more as a family and let it go if it doesn’t get done one day.
*As I was hugging my children after I had those change of thoughts the Lord spoke to me and said, “Tabitha, the same spirit that you are hugging your children right now is the exact same spirit I want you to have when you are disciplining your kids! Even if you spank or speak sternly with them, you can still keep this same spirit of love. Because cuddling and discipline are the same in my eyes because discipline is true love.
*I knew this was my moment of hitting rock bottom. I didn’t want to keep living if I had to live with the same struggles of disciplining in anger. I didn’t want to keep living if I couldn’t have a consistent flow of peace and love every day and experience God’s power in our lives in this area. Some people would say, you are being too hard on yourself! You have 4 small children, a husband and his mother who live with you! Give yourself a break! But I serve a God who has POWER! I am not going to keep preaching and teaching about this God who isn’t giving me POWER to overcome in this single area in my life.
*God released my mind from all the “expectations” that are on myself as a parent that come from this world! He gave me freedom to only strive for walking in His Spirit in peace and training my children to be peacemakers for His glory and to please the Father. To yield to knowing I can’t live without communing with Him today and gaining strength and love from Him. He showed me that if I get the house cleaned, teach them lots of academic work that day but through it all sinned against them by disciplining in anger or having strife in my home, then I have not accomplished His will that day, but only my will. When I meet God’s expectations I will truly be fulfilled at the end of the day!
*”Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” This verse is inspiring me every day to teach and train my children to be like Jesus. A few weeks ago I watched a Brady Bunch show and it really caught my attention! I was struggling at the time with thoughts about how all children in general are so difficult to manage. Marsha, the oldest daughter, and the oldest boy, Greg, were running for Student Body President at the same time against each other. The whole show consisted of them bickering and trying to beat each other. There was a lot of strife and tension in the home. I was thinking, “How are they ever going to solve this?” Then the mom was having a talk with Marsha one day after school and said, “You know, Marsha, I thought I would mention to you that you are a Junior and you have one more year left of high school, and well Greg doesn’t since he is a senior….well never mind.” The mom could see Marsha didn’t want to listen anymore so she dropped it. It planted a seed though. Then later on as Marsha was walking in her back yard she overheard Greg talking to his buddies from school. One of Greg’s friend wanted to start a bad rumor about Marsha to the whole school. Then Greg yelled, “You are not going to treat my sister like that! Get out of here! You are not going to be my friend anymore with that kind of thinking!” Then, it came time for their speeches to the student body. After Greg gave a great convincing speech to win the President Candidate Marsha got up and said, “I think you should vote for Greg Brady to be your President! He is smart and he has a lot of experience…” It was such a happy family moment for the Brady Bunch. This story gave me great hope that I can instill great character qualities in my children by training them now with their heart attitudes toward each other. To train them to be peacemakers instead of makers of strife.
*John 12:25 “Whoever loves his life will lose it, whoever hates his life here on Earth will have it and eternal life.” My prayer to God: I’m desperate for you Jesus. I know that when I live in the flesh not needing you brings me to the point of hating my life and not wanting to live anymore. There is no meaning, no purpose or power if I live my way. So I fully surrender to You all that I am. I live to know you more, to please You, and to live just like You. I hate this life without You being the center. I despise it therefore I will have eternal life with you. I want my life to fully display your power in this life on Earth. All the trials I go through I want them to bring me more intimacy with you Father. I love you for saving my life and my mind; without you I am absolutely nothing.
*Goals to reach:
I was studying this subject of the research that proves all you have to do is read to your child 30 minutes everyday and your child will become extremely smart. It’s not about how many technical gadgets they have or different educational videos they own. On the flip side for spiritual growth all we have to do as parents is:
- Be desperate for God and to love Him-To read the Bible and listen to material that feeds our thirsty soul. Much wisdom and understanding for how to walk out this life God’s way will stem from this seeking and studying out of our desperation for God.
- Walk in His presence and be sensitive to His voice or whispers throughout the day and obey. Not striving to do more, but to just need Him.
- To not settle for having to sin every day just because we are human, but to hunger for experiencing true victory over sin in our lives in an ongoing sanctification basis by His amazing grace (not perfection)
- Stop trying to live this life my way-but surrender to ALL HIS WAYS (especially in parenting and being a wife) even when it’s hard, doesn’t make sense, or fit into what we know and have experience in!
- To experience the fruit of the Spirit which is love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self-control with our children on a daily basis.
If we will accomplish these goals our children will grow exponentially in their relationship with God out of an overflow of our life. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how many scriptures they memorize, how many devotionals you read to them, or how many Church events or camps they go to. Whether we like it or not our values transfer to them automatically without any talk of them going on. Our actions speak much louder than our words. When God takes our hearts of stone and gives us a new heart our children get the amazing side effects!
A word from Joyce Meyer:
“I believe it’s right back again to the same thing we’re saying. I was so desperate to have change in my life that I could not go back to the way things had been. I could not live that phony, pretend, just religious, go-through-the-motions lifestyle. I loved God. I mean, I really loved the Lord. I just didn’t have any victory. I was tired of being angry. I was tired of getting upset every time I didn’t get my way. I didn’t want to be rebellious and be a manipulator and a controller, but I didn’t have any power over the quirks and the problems in my own personality. I just really believe that I got to the point where I finally just said, ‘Lord, if I never have one friend ever, I’ve got to go on with You. ‘Do you want to stay where you’re at? Do you want to stay in the same place, doing the same thing, perhaps with no victory and not overcoming your problems? Or are you ready to go deeper with God? If so, I’d like to see people get a copy of my new book, Knowing God Intimately: Being as Close to Him as You Want to Be.”
My comments: Wow, I experienced my very lowest point recently in regards to parenting and my relationship with God. The only thing that pulled me out was complete desperation and surrender! That’s what it takes! Desperation!! I believe having 4 kids has driven me to that point of desperation. So anything that drives me more in desperation for spending time with God, I should embrace in my life if God is in it!
*Some Examples of Living God’s way verses my way in my own life. I’m realizing if I live any part of my life in “my way” it will NOT bring the results I truly desire and will cause lots of striving in wrong ways.
- Letting my kids watch a lot of secular TV that might be teaching them values of this world verses values of the Kingdom of God. I know for sure that God wants me to help guard their minds and hearts to hold onto the values that He stands for. No legalism, but trusting Him to guide me in this.
- When I prioritize cleaning and academic schooling with the kids over quality time in relationships. God’s way is to prioritize relationships over everything else. His Kingdom is about people. “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added to you.” God wants us to prioritize relationship with Him, then spouse, then children, then family, friends, and lost souls. When we don’t do it in this order we will experience ultimate frustration and a lack of fulfillment and joy. Spending time with our son playing Legos, or pretend playing with our daughter and her doll, or giving a piggy back ride to the kitchen while you cook or prepare food are all examples of more quality time in relationship with our kids as one example.
- Another exampleismy way would have been to focus on Ministry to elevate my gifts and to use my gifts to feel like I was getting a pat on the back by all of our supporters and my church. But that would not bring any fulfillment but only frustration. God’s plan is for me to focus on my family and make them my Ministry. And out of the overflow the Holy spirit will cause ministry to happen as a family doing it together.
- Anotherexampleis when one child seems to be having a very difficult time, my way is to get angry at them, throw my hands up and give up. Or spank in anger and truly get mad at them for being so difficult. But God’s way might be that in that moment a hard spanking is not needed, but more love and attention and Grace is needed at the time to get that child through that situation and frustration that they are going through. Also, to call my children sweet names as much as possible. Having a sweet spirit towards them with lots of affection softens all of our hearts. Not to ignore them out of our tiredness.
- Another example is when a child clearly disobeys and we know they need to be disciplined with a spanking. My way would want to spank in anger and take my wrath out on him through that spanking, but God’s way is to lovingly take them aside and have the same Spirit of cuddling and hugging as I talk to them sternly about how wrong it is to have rebellion and how it offends God when we sin and how much he wants us to repent so we can be restored back to him and his blessings. God’s ways are for us as parents to have the same Spirit of love when we cuddle in the same Spirit when we discipline.
*God’s ways are to catch the sin at the beginning stages and discipline in love. Not to ignore their sin because we are too tired. To help the child repent to God then to the offender. Then we as parents need to forgive our child for doing wrong so we don’t pick up an offense against them the rest of the day.
*To end the time of discipline with peace and love in our hearts toward each other. To remember that we are for our children not against them! Just as God is for us, we are for our children.
*To have our children re-do the situation in order to learn what God’s expectations are.
- My friend Angel told me this: Another example is when mommy or daddy make a mistake against the kids, for us to repent and give ourselves a time out and come back and re-do the situation the right way. not to make a huge deal, but to give ourselves second chance!
Last thoughts: When you feel like losing hope
*********On days when things start going wrong and you want to lose hope, remember this: Why do I want to stay desperate for God? Why do I want to keep everything I have learned close to my heart? Because I truly want the end result!! How do I want my life to look like in 10 or 20 years? The only way to get the end result is to live every moment God’s ways, not my way. The end result is all the fruits of the Spirit in all of our relationships!! Just think of the symbol of an actual door hinge and how if the hinge is not there then the door cannot be attached to the wall. No hinge no door. No relationship with God, no dreams fulfilled. and of course our dreams should line up with the kingdom of God and God’s dreams for our lives.
**********Start recording your small victories on index cards or whatever suits you best! It will give you hope you are on the right track! Also record times you didn’t do well and God will help you come up with a different strategy or different approach to get the results He wants!
***********Remember that feelings come and go. We can’t base our life on our feelings. So if one day you wake up and the day got started wrong, don’t give into the feelings that you don’t like your kids or don’t want to be around them! Know that you love your kids because God loves you today. My love for my kids stems out of God’s love for me! God doesn’t decide one day He doesn’t love me because He doesn’t feel like it! His love is constant and faithful. I can get all the love I need for my kids from my heavenly Father today. I can’t let feelings get in the way of my dream to have a wonderful loving family who care about each other and think of others more than themselves!