I am a princess.

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I have had the privilege of attending a Quinceañera that my daughter was invited to.  A Quinceañera is a Hispanic girl’s rite of passage from little girlhood into young womanhood. With its dedicated mass service, separate dinner, and celebration that includes elaborate decorations, cloth-covered tables and chairs, centerpieces, cake, dancing, and damas and chambelanes (female attendants and male escorts), it feels much like a wedding.

In the midst of this beautiful and intricate and expansive celebration, there is one moment in the evening that resonates in my spirit as the Lord counsels a word to me. After my daughter’s friend – who is adorned in a gorgeous, flowing, bold-red, jeweled-bodice ballroom gown – performs a dance with her male escorts (no less stunning in their military-style uniforms with sabers), she sits by herself in a chair in the middle of the dance floor. Traditional, ballad-style music begins to play. Her father kneels down in front of his daughter, and a woman delivers a decorated basket holding a pair of high heels. The father tenderly removes his daughter’s flats and replaces them with the high heels, as he lovingly  buckles the straps of the heels for her.

Next, her mother comes out to the floor and crowns her daughter with a delicate and beautiful tiara. She affixes this crown to her daughter’s hair with attention and care.

Following this, my daughter’s friend enjoys her first dance of this ceremony with her father as hundreds of eyes are transfixed upon them.  My own eyes leak as God speaks a significance to the heart of this little girl living in a woman’s body and life.

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A younger Bekah with her friend, Alba, at the Quinceañera in October 2013.

I am His princess.  You are His princess.  Our daughters are His princesses… In HIS eyes.

Yet, often and unfortunately, we are not in our own eyes.  What influences this?  It is lack of understanding the fullness of our inherited identity through the risen Christ.   It is lies the enemy speaks that we believe.  It is society’s false definition of who we are as women.  It is [not] the fact that we are treated by others less than what we are, but that we allow others – as daughters of The  King – to treat us less than what we are…and we unwittingly pass this down to our own daughters.

The picture God gave me as I moved from being a physical spectator of this specific ceremony through tear-filled eyes  into spiritual clarity was this…

Fathers…You need to treat your daughters like the princesses that they are. You need to equip their feet to take them in places where God would desire them to go. What does this look like? Treat them the way that you would want future boyfriends and a future husband to treat them. This starts with the example of how you love your wife in front of them. This continues as you dedicate father-daughter times to model for them a very high standard of speech and behavior and treatment, so they will not settle for less when they begin to date.  Just as the father I observed fit and secured those grown-girl shoes to his daughter’s feet with such tenderness and love, so you ought to tenderly and lovingly help your daughter get acquainted with the Savior and  the daily, transformative application of God’s Word by fitting her feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace.

Mothers…We need to treat our daughters like the princesses that they are. We need to crown their heads not with our own insecurities and failures, but with the Word of God through encouraging, transparent direction and with the Truth of who God says they are. This starts with the example of how we honor our husbands. Even if we are divorced and he is the vilest of the vile, the deadbeat-est of the deadbeats, we can honor the seed of that man without honoring his life choices. When we openly dishonor or disrespect who he is, our daughters take that dishonor upon themselves at some level because his seed was part of the equation of her life.  [As my Gramps would often say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything a-tall.”]  This crowning continues as we dedicate our speech and our lives to agape love of others and model a life of honest sanctification before our daughters. It’s showing our girls what the helmet of salvation is about in practical, every day living.

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Me with Princess 1 (your right) and Princess 2 (your left).

Finally, God spoke to my spirit that we must show our princess-daughters what it is to dance with the Father. We must put our hands in His, as we lean into God and close our eyes to the world, tune in to His voice and movement, and give our feet permission to follow His lead.

This. Is. Beauty.

If we fathers and mothers were to make an honest and intentional and sustained effort in these areas with our daughters, maybe they would not find it necessary to dress/speak/act promiscuously to attract the wrong types of guys.  Perhaps they would not need to turn to alcohol, drugs, cutting, eating disorders…andandand.

Maybe then, just maybe, they would look to the Scriptures and to God for their identity and validation…not us, and certainly not the world.  Perhaps, if like my daughter’s friend who looked and was treated like a princess for a moment of her life that night, we would treat our daughters like spiritual princesses every day, they might start to live as such.

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Princess-in-law and Princess 2

I wish I had known my Savior much earlier in life than 26.  I did a lot of wrongful and harmful searching-for-validation in my Before Christ years.  I have also failed my daughters in numerous manners and times.  However, I do not live in or with regret because regret brings death (I Cor. 7:10).  I can only move towards fullness today – the day I have been given – and intentionally choose life in my actions and words in the rest of my tomorrows.

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My beautiful Princess-Nieces

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”  I Peter 2:9-10 [NKJV]

For a transparent and beautifully raw look into identity from a young woman who is blogging her journey, look at beautybeyondbones.com.

His Princess, Growing and Learning With You ~~

Tammy Sinclair

“The [Harder] Hardest Thing, Revisited”

Here I am.  Wife.  Mother.  Grammy.  Sister-girlfriend.  Educator.  And…um…struggler.  Yes, I am struggling.  And in the midst of my sweet-tea drinkin’ and reflectin’ self this afternoon…because it is like 158 degrees outside and too hot for ((COFFEE))…God – the God who remembers EVERYTHING – has reminded me of a season of struggle I worked through in 2011.  I naïvely thought…believed…that I had mastered that struggle.  Apparently not.  I think that was just a practice drill for the battlefield I am in right now.  Let me take you back to 2011 to provide some context, then I will back up my truck and unload…(insert flashback harp music as we travel back four years)…

Texas-style sweet tea...with real sugar. It's that kinda day.
Texas-style sweet tea…with real sugar and not that fake stuff. It’s that kinda day.

“The Hardest Thing…” — 5/7/11

“Train [dedicate] a child in the way [path, journey, manner, direction] he should go, and when he is old [shows age] he will not turn [depart, be removed, leave undone] from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

Giving birth was relatively painless…thanks to modern medicine and epidurals. Even the long nights of interrupted sleep was temporary.  Dealing with broken bones, stitches, stomach viruses, sibling rivalries, and responsibility for raising five children can be exhausting.  Living with and raising four teenagers right now is quite trying at times…okay…almost every day; but, nothing…nothing has been as difficult as the parent-place I find myself in currently.  [psh…I had no clue]

The hardest thing as a parent is learning how, when, and to what degree to let go, release our children, one-by-one, to make their own choices, discover who they are, and grow outside my protective (sometimes over-protective) presence.  Proverbs 22:6 provides me comfort and confidence.  I have dedicated our children to the Lord…trained them in and with the Truth through words and action…shown them the narrow path — how to recognize and follow it.  Now I have to “put my faith where my mouth is.”

As our second child prepares to graduate from high school in three weeks, I am reminded of this Scripture when I start to mentally and emotionally hyperventilate.  “…and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”  I am compelled to rest in the assurance that all of our kids know Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Whatever choices they make, I must pray that they will be drawn closer to Him.  I must love our children unconditionally as Christ loves me.  I must trust God to protect them when I cannot.  I must have confidence that no matter what choices they will make, even those poor choices, God’s conviction and grace will abound (just as it does for me).

I pray that our children will desire God more than they desire any person or position.

I pray that our children will serve God before they serve man or themselves.

I pray that our children will seek and do God’s will – His absolute best for them – before they seek and do my will or any other man’s will.

I pray that our children will crave the Word of God more than they crave the words of others.

I pray that our children will hold to the teachings and foundation that they have received and not depart from it for very long or very far or at all.

I pray that our children will learn from our mistakes and embrace our successes to make them better parents than we have been.

At the end of the day, I can rejoice in the fact that God has carried us “Thus far…”  We are blessed with kids who love the Lord beyond their layers of hormones, testosterone, arguing, and just plain ‘ole “teenagerness”… and for that, I am grateful.

Me and the oldest son who
Me and the oldest son in 2011.  I look like I’m trying to figure out whether to smile or cry. My son appears less emotionally confused than me.

(Insert harp music as we travel back to this very day…)

As I read those words of a former, much more whimsical and poetic version of myself, I am walking…no, tiptoeing…through a minefield of hazards designed by the enemy, packaged by the world, and delivered by our culture.  You see, just four years ago I was an emotional case because our child had successfully completed high school and was transitioning into adulthood.  Since 2011, we have watched two more of our five children graduate high school, and each time I’ve experienced less sorrow and more joy.

Today, however, this very moment and breath, I am emotionally wrecked and heartsick.  While all of our children are secured for eternity in salvation, we have contended with them and for them through their tag-teaming seasons of walking out of God’s best for their lives.  It’s like…they turn 17 and take their brains out to play with them like Play-Dough…or something like that. (Seriously.)  Mr. Husband and I have always been age- and situation-appropriately open with our kids about our past failings and poor choices, which include such sins as addiction, promiscuity, rebellion, and self-pleasing living in the years before we knew Christ.  They know that we have been well-acquainted with the world and the temptations of the enemy.

So, the hardest thing (revisited) is watching our kiddos choose to walk down some of the same crooked paths we have taken.  It’s hard to know where those paths can lead and be ignored or dismissed when we try to offer this wisdom.  It’s hard to watch our children engage in physically, emotionally, spiritually self-destructive behaviors/relationships.  It’s hard to let go and let God handle it in His most perfect way and His most perfect time for His most perfect glory.  It’s hard to set that boundary for our (barely legally adult) child by saying, “If you cannot respect our values while you live under the protection of our roof, then you have to live somewhere else to enjoy your unhealthy, self-destructive choices.”  It. Is. Hard.

A very, very, very crooked path. (Photo cred: www.internetmonk.com)
A very, very, very crooked path.
(Photo cred: http://www.internetmonk.com)

Two of our children eventually came back to their Father’s house and are in better and growing places.  Another is realizing some things and slowly making his way back at the same time another of our five has completely rebelled and walked away.  A fifth one watches…and I pray 🙏 is learning what choices not to make.  I pray.  I intercede.  I do spiritual warfare.  (Can I be real?)  I cry.  I (occasionally) cuss.  I get angry at the enemy…real angry.  And I pray some more.

My soul is a hot mess over our kids right now.  But I know.  My spirit knows.  I know that God is faithful.  I know that He is “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named” (Eph. 1:21).  I know that our children are in His hand and cannot be snatched out of it.  I know I have confidence that because God has begun a good work in our kids, He will also complete it until the day of Jesus (Phil. 1:6).  God doesn’t leave things unfinished.  We do.  He doesn’t.

This will be my closet posture to usher in breakthrough... (www.worldoncampus.com)
This will be my closet posture to usher in breakthrough…
(www.worldoncampus.com)

I’ve gone long on this one, but I also know that there are other heartsick parents out there with prodigal sons and daughters.  Let me leave you with this prayer, and let’s invade the heavenlies together to contend for our kids:

Abba and El Elyon, You are my shield and strength…deliverer and redeemer…rock and peace.  You are El Roi and see the grieving of my heart.  The height and depth and breadth and width of my love for the kiddos You have entrusted to our care is not even a whisper compared to the love You have for our kiddos.  You understand the groaning of my heart when I can’t pray words.  You absorb my mom tears into Your presence and translate them into Kingdom prayers.  

According to Ephesians 1, I ask you to give my prodigal child the spirit of wisdom and revelation in his knowledge of You…that the eyes of his understanding would be enlightened with Truth…that he would discover the hope of his calling and the glorious inheritance that is meant for him.  Cause him to run into Your people, encounter Your Word, feel Your presence, and heed Your counsel.  Expend his prodigal-ness quickly…cause him to reach the end of himself and find himself at the foot of Your throne.  Cultivate in him the seed of salvation that’s already rooted…cause shoots to spring up and fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – to grow into the fullness and abundance of Your sanctification work.  

Thank You, Lord, for the promise that Your Word does not return void, but it accomplishes the purpose for which it is sent out.  I approach as one covered in Jesus’ blood and sealed by Your Spirit.  So be it!

Learning and Growing With You ~ Tammy Sinclair

((For additional prayer for the prodigal based on Hosea, go here.))