Gentleness by Jessie Weaver

Around this time seven years ago, I had my first-ever contraction. It was the night before my due date, and my mom, husband, and I were hanging in our condo’s living room, watching an Indiana Jones movie. I don’t remember one scene of the film, but I remember the sudden knowing, the realization that ah, this was what a real contraction felt like. I had worried I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a real one and a Braxton-Hicks, but I knew instantly.

(Note to my pregnant friends: if you start having contractions, guzzle a whole lot of water and see if they keep up. I had aggravated labor due to dehydration and thus it was a mere 36 hours later that I finally gave birth to my beautiful daughter.)

baby Libbie

On Tuesday, it will have been seven years since this girl came into our lives. She’s a first-grade fireball, a rule-follower for others and a rule-stretcher at home. And oh, I wish my 26-year-old self knew what I know now about parenting.

Not that I know a lot. But I do have seven years and three children worth of experience. Not to mention in those seven years we moved to a new city, my husband went from being a student to a teacher, we’ve lived in four different homes, and we’ve gone through a foreclosure that broke and put back together our hearts.

What I wish I could tell that younger Jessie laying on the microfiber couch and thinking finally! is this: they say love covers a multitude of sins. And it does. But love takes many forms. And let yours be a gentle love.

I think of a few ways I disciplined my tiny girl that now seem simply ridiculous. Because she could talk very well, I think I treated her as older than she was at times. I look now at my 2-and-half-year-old “Toddlerzilla” and think, I never would have disciplined him in _______ way. What was I THINKING with Libbie?

In the book Love and Respect in the Family, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs proposes that parents long for respect while kids just want love. And also we often misinterpret their simply childish behavior for disrespect and discipline it as such. When really … sometimes kids are just kids. And we are there to teach them how to be more mature, in time and in a godly manner.

My biggest parenting regret is the many, many times I have parents from my first response instead of stepping back, saying a prayer, and “trying a little tenderness.” Living in guilt does no good, though; all I can do is move forward, ask for forgiveness, and keep praying and practicing gentleness every day.

Libbie Easter

Jessie is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, editor, and social media-y person. She writes at, is the manager of ParentLife Online, and curates for

Always on the Sunny Side

BV - Romans 8 28
source: nlcwood via Flickr

I was laying face-down on the table at my chiropractor’s the other day when I listened to one of the most depressing conversations I’ve ever heard between my chiro, Dr. C, and the person on the other table. No, she wasn’t telling about people dying, mortal peril, or sickness. It was just … sad. It went something like this.

Dr. C: What do you do for Labor Day?

Her: I think I slept through part of it. And then sat there.

Dr. C: Oh. You didn’t do anything with the so-and-so’s?

Her: They all went camping. I didn’t go. Too much chance of rain.

The woman complained about the way Dr. C was doing her adjustment, how she had to wait, about her pain level, her family and more. Everything she said was in an Eeyore-tone, pessimist to the core.

I’ll admit that I fall on the side of optimist. Recently my best friend contacted me to tell me she had a mass in her colon. They were doing a biopsy. And I was sure that it wouldn’t be cancerous. Just positive! She is 33, after all, like me.

It was cancer.

I felt silly that I had been so optimistic about it. I simply can’t bear to let myself think of worst-possible-scenarios when it comes to others. Maybe it’s too many years of struggling with depression, but I just cannot let my brain go there. I have to stay on the sunny side, or I will drift off into insanity.

And really, what good comes from pessimism? This Bible says, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28, ESV). We know Who is going to win in the end. We have confidence in the hope of heaven. I believe Christians should be living with one foot in heaven, focused not on each worldly nuisance but on the larger scope.

Yes, God lives in our day-to-day. For that, we can give great thanks! And because we have great hope, we can rise above negativity with the power of His Spirit.

I never want to miss out on what God has for me in terms of relationships or service or anything because there’s “too much chance of rain.” I don’t act happy when I’m not or put on a show for people. But I do truly believe, deep-down, that everything is in His hands and will work out for good. That is the joy of Christ!

And for that reason, I will never be a pessimist.

How about you?

Jessie WeaverJessie Weaver is the mom of three little ones (6, 4, and 2) in Chattanooga, TN. She is a freelance writer and editor and manager of the ParentLife Online community.

When Your Kid Is THAT Kid

When your kid is THAT kid

For most people, it seems like it’s the second child who is THAT kid. The wild one, the one for whom you have to create the rules, the one who is causing you to run wildly all over the place while your friends sit and sip coffee and their obedient children give you the side-eye.

For me, it wasn’t. My second child was an awful baby. He was lactose intolerant, wanted to be held nonstop, and didn’t sleep through the night until he was 15 months. But then he became the easiest toddler in the world. At 4 1/2, he is still quiet, focused, brilliant, and altogether pretty easy to parent.

But then we had a third.

And my Joshua is THAT kid.

See above: while waiting for his brother and sister to be done at the dentist’s office, Joshua grabbed a Sesame Street book and climbed into a stranger’s lap and insisted said stranger read him the book. (Note: the stranger obliged, for which I am very grateful.)

When your kid is THAT kid

I’m pretty sure Joshua exited the womb with a sneaky grin on his face. He has always been giggly and finds everything hilarious. At 2, he makes silly voices and tries to trick Mommy and Daddy by hiding behind doors.

It’s not all fun and games, of course. He also runs away in parking lots, refuses to obey any and all rules, swings from stair rails, and I live in fear that he will break all his bones or bust his head open on a daily basis.

So what do you do when your kid is THAT kid? When people give you funny looks because you’re nonchalantly watching at your child runs laps in a public place or dives from chairs onto your lap 36 times or is singing loudly at the grocery store?

You take deep breaths. You try to keep him safe while letting him have free reign and make his own mistakes. You remember that he belongs to God and not to you.

blue tongue toddler

You make peace with the fact that most parents see the inside of the ER with their child. You figure out what is a big deal and what is not. And you pray. And pray and pray and PRAY.

Most of all, you try not to worry about what other people think. It’s what God thinks that matters. So others may think I need to discipline more/less, structure more/less, school him, unschool him, go back to work, work less … but I have to keep my mind on what God has for him and our family.

I pray that one day my sweet Joshua will aim that joy to rejoicing in Jesus.

smiling toddler


When Your Kids Are Like Night and Day by Jessie Weaver


I’ve always been sort of baffled at how very unalike my two older children are.

Exhibit A: This was one of the first times David played on ABCMouse, a learning Web site. When his sister (older by two years) does these coloring pages on the site, she generally does everything one color, wanting to get it done as soon as possible. These days, she enjoys spending all her earned “tickets” to buy clothes for her avatar and decorate her virtual room. She is jealous of her brother’s thousands of tickets, earned because he will do puzzles on the highest level and spends his time detailing the coloring pages.


Exhibit B: This boy loves to dress up. He never changes after church on Sunday, no matter how dressed up he is. The first Monday after he wore his fancy suit to church on Sunday, he was home alone with my husband. Adam asked him to go get dressed. Adam says he came out dressed in the suit, again, having dug it out of the dirty clothes. Poor David had to learn that we do not wear dirty clothes. Usually.

My daughter, on the other hand, no matter how much she loves to dress up, changes the second she gets home from church into “comfy clothes.” I am never sure whether she is uncomfortable or she just wants the chance to wear another outfit. But she has to get into a new get-up whether Mommy thinks it’s necessary or not.

These two, they are remarkably different, showing that nature can have a funny sense of humor. I’ve never know whether it’s boy/girl, older/younger, or just their personalities. One is an extroverted, wild, active child with gangly limbs and big curls. One is introverted, generally quiet and focused, teensy-tiny and with none of his brother and sister’s curly locks. They are night and day.

I’ve found, though, that my job as a parent is not to identify more with one of them. I see myself and my husband in both of their personalities. I love those little reflections. But I can love every piece of them, as different as those pieces may be. And, most importantly, I learn differently from my children. From Libbie, I learn to live a little more exuberantly, embracing life in its fullest, loving people loudly. From David, I learn patience (did I mention he is SLOWWWWW?) and to take time to stop and smell the roses. I try to delight a little bit more at dandelions and puffy clouds.

God’s given me three very different children. (I’m not even getting into my baby, here!) And they are all blessings. I just have to learn how to delight in their differences!

Jessie Weaver writes regularly about family, faith, and food at 


More Ways to Feel Guilty: Not Crying about Kindergarten

Libbie kindergarten

My oldest child, our only daughter, Libbie, started kindergarten on Tuesday. Leading up to the day, I felt pretty emotional. I wrote about letting my baby bird fly from our nest and I wondered what it would be like having her away from home so much of the time. I knew on Tuesday I would be at the school most of the day, as I had to go to a parent orientation. Because of phasing-in procedures, she didn’t go back until Thursday. So that, I considered, was when I would probably let the tears pour.

At the parent orientation one of the counselors read a book obviously meant to turn on our tears, about letting your raindrop fall from the cloud, even if said raindrop was scared, etc. It was in rhyme, and as she read at least half of the parents crowding the school library were wiping tears from their eyes. And I sat there. Stoic. I don’t like it when books try to manipulate your emotions (see: why I have never read Nicholas Sparks).

Thursday I dropped Libbie off, letting her jump from the van and walk inside herself, ringlets bouncing as she left me in the dust. And still, it didn’t come. No fear, no tears. I took my sons to the grocery store and the doctor.

Should I feel guilty about this lack of emotion? Does it make me a bad mom?

I think if I were not completely sure Libbie was ready for kindergarten, it would be different. But she is a confident, extroverted nearly-6-year-old. She can read, and she loves to learn. She also loves to have every minute planned for her, which I cannot do at home. So we believe firmly that she is going to thrive in school.

But still, I wonder. Will it hit me someday soon that my little one has left my nest?

How about you? Did you cry when your child started school?

What a Baby with the Flu Taught Me about Mothering


My youngest child, Joshua, was diagnosed with the flu last week. He is 11 months old and usually a fount of joyful grins and babbles. When he started running a high fever, I knew something was up. He had suffered an ear infection not two weeks earlier, and I took him back to the doctor to see if the antibiotics had never eliminated the infection. No, his ears were OK. Probably just a virus.

And then the next night we were at urgent care, getting my 103-degree baby diagnosed with the Real Deal Flu.

My daughter had pneumonia when she was 3, but other than that my kids have been ridiculously well. With three kids, we have none with tubes, only a handful of ear infections between them, no food allergies, and no broken bones (yet – I do have two sons!).

Nothing had prepared me for the ordeal of watching my baby suffer through true influenza. For days he ran that 103 fever that could not be brought down with medicine. He was lethargic and just lay against my chest for long spans of time. His little lungs struggled for air as he panted against the fever. It was heartbreaking. Not knowing what he needed drove me to insanity.

Yet it’s the bad times that bring us closer to the One we need most. Here are the two things I learned most from our experience.

  1. God gave us maternal instinct. My husband is a wonderful, attentive father, but he leans toward the “not worrying” side of most things. It’s something I love and hate about him! The Bible says God created us – male and female – in His image, which I think implies He has what we consider masculine AND feminine qualities. Mothers are given a dose of maternal instinct, a smidgen of the knowledge that God has of His children’s feelings. I was pretty sure something was very wrong with Joshua. I was right. Sometimes you have to trust your instinct (and truly, it’s can’t hurt to err on the side of caution when it comes to our kids’ health).
  2. Jesus loves our children more than we do. I was honestly afraid to put Joshua to sleep a couple of nights, not knowing whether I should take him to the emergency room for breathing treatments. What if he stopped breathing during the night? What if he was struggling for air and I couldn’t tell? I had to force myself to retreat to my own bed and remember that Jesus loves my child much more than I do or could even fathom. Trusting Him with our children is the hardest thing we can do and yet one of the most crucial parts of parenting.

Joshua is thankfully recovered for the most part, but the experience has made me take a step back. Do crisis situations do that for you? 


Jessie Weaver is a stay-at-home mother of three young children in Chattanooga, TN. She blogs personally and for ParentLife and writes for HomeLife and ParentLife magazines often. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Teachable Moments by Jessie Weaver



Some days, I think I might actually have this parenting thing somewhat under control. (Then something happens like I trip over the trash can lid that’s on the floor and bang my baby’s head onto the corner of the china cabinet, and I change my mind.)

My daughter, Libbie, who’s 3, has been running a fever for the past day and a half, so we’ve had a lot of time at home. During a better hour this morning, I offered to let her do one of her favorite activities: paint.

“Will you paint WITH me, Mommy?” she asked sweetly, the dark circles under her big blue eyes making her look even more pathetic. I agree, and she instructs me on where I am to sit, that I need a separate page of paper, where to put the water, what colors to paint. While she makes, well, a big purple watery mess, I use half my brain to paint a simple rainbow.



As soon as she deciphers its shape, Libbie exclaims, “It’s like Noah!” And I beam. Because somewhere in there with the (somewhat correct) words to “Jingle Bells” and ways to annoy her baby brother, she related rainbows with the Bible.

So while we paint, I simply retell the story of Noah’s ark, illustrating my story as we go. She wants me to paint Noah and people and animals, so I craft a few flying birds and a bear with my big sponge brush. They look ridiculous, but I don’t care. Because we’re learning and having fun.

Being a stay-at-home mom is all about these teachable moments. They make it worth every tear, coupon, and suppressed scream.

Originally published January 11, 2012. Which means, BTW, that the fever my daughter had was the start of her lovely battle with pneumonia! Agh!

Jessie Weaver When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three crazy kids (ages 5, 2, and 7 months).

Being a Shepherd

In 1 Peter 5, Peter writes to the elders:

Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s ⌊will⌋; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (vv.2-4).

Yes, he’s writing to the elders of the church. And I think church leaders should take that pretty seriously. But this also speaks to me so much as a parent!

While reading these few verses, I couldn’t help but consider:

  • … how much am I “lording over” my children, using stronger language than necessary, just because I am older?
  • … how often do I ask them to do things I don’t do? What kind of example am I being?
  • … do I see my children as nuisances sometimes, or as sweet sheep “entrusted” to me to provide for and love?

These three sweet miracles have been entrusted to me by God. They’re not always going to be good. I’m not always going to behave perfectly. But can I step back for one minute when I am angry and think … these are my sheep. Am I a tender shepherd?

His Children, Our Children by Jessie Weaver


The longer I am a parent, the more convinced I am that God told us to be fruitful and multiply so we could have a small taste of how He views us.

There’s the baby stage. We’re needy, but altogether loving. I think of all the hours we spend staring at our little ones as they lay on the floor, or toddle around, or clap their hands together. Does it put a big grin on the Heavenly Father’s face to see us in the early stages of knowing Him?

And then comes the terrible twos. And threes.

We are so rebellious it can be funny sometimes. We question everything, absolutely, just to see what the limits are. We are wild in our rebellion and yet needy to the core.

I imagine, somewhere, that it tapers off. (At least I pray that it does. My daughter is still 4, and if her rebellion doesn’t dissipate soon I may have to go to the asylum.) When I consider my Christian walk I think it’s much like growing from a child to an adult: there are some rough patches, some times where I don’t even want to be close to Him. There are times of sweetness. There are times when I fall on my face and wonder what on earth I did to deserve such trials. And there are times when I just am, passing through without wonder but without hurt, either.

I can’t imagine all the lessons I will learn as a parent as my children travel through adolescence. It’s scary, and crazy, but the best visual aid about God I’ve ever been given.

Do you find yourself wondering if God sees you as a toddler sometimes? What things do we do as Christians that are an awful lot like a small child?

Teaching Your Kids about Child Sponsorship


My husband and I have sponsored a child through Compassion since our own first child was a baby. His name is Jerome; he lives in the Philippines; he will be 8 in August. We liked his Mickey Mouse shirt in his picture and that his birthday was close to our wedding anniversary. I try to write to him at least once every two or three months. At first, we got letters from his mother, which wasn’t quite as much fun. Now, we get letters hand-written by Jerome – and illustrated, too!

But in all this time, Libbie (4 1/2) hasn’t really shown any interest in the picture of the boy hanging on our fridge. I’ve never involved her in letter-writing. My husband and I have made the decisions about when to send extra monetary gifts for his birthday and Christmas.

Libbie’s to a point, now, where she’s beginning to grasp more concepts. She’s always been aware of our efforts toward Operation Christmas Child’s shoebox-packing program. She knows that I collect toys throughout the year that are not for her – they are for kids who don’t HAVE toys and need hygiene items. In lieu of a third birthday party, we even had an OCC Shoebox-Packing Party.

So really, it’s high time we exposed her to child sponsorship. It’s a big concept, though! How do we do it?

The other day I sat down with her and asked her if she would draw a picture for Jerome. I showed her his picture, told her he lived VERY far away, and that we send money to help him get school supplies and clothes and other things he needs. She seemed very interested and asked about visiting him one day. But then she flat-out refused to draw a picture. We’ll have to try that one again.

Worried about messing this up, I asked my friend OhAmanda – the wisest and most godly mom of young kids I know! – how she goes about this with her own kids. Her advice was to just make it natural. She keeps pictures of her sponsored children up. She prays with her kids for these children. Her own kids are involved in making “flat crafts” to send with letters to their sponsored children.

{Kristen from We Are THAT Family describes pretty much the same routines with her children. Plus, well, they go to Africa.}

So there are my first baby steps. Involving Libbie and David in praying, writing, crafting. Seeing. Understanding will come in time.

Compassion also has an online game called Quest for Compassion that I think we’ll have to try out!

Do you sponsor a child? How do you involve your kids in it?