Posted in Parenting

Three Ways to Build Resilience in Children Through Forgiveness

Recently I am being asked more and more to share a talk I have created on building resilience in children. The basic foundation of the workshop is intentionally teaching our children how to forgive. For any children in our lives, we need to actively find ways to eliminate brittle bitterness. Instead, we need to model and teach how forgiveness is actually a way to build resilience rather than weakness.

Forcing our children to say they are sorry is the least effective technique we can utilize. Providing opportunities to instead say “I forgive you” creates an environment of peaceful unification. Resilience creates an environment in which both setbacks and successes are treated as positive learning experiences so our children are not broken by their experiences. When we fail to teach this mindset to children we actually strengthen a spirit of fear and mistrust which weakens their spirits of resolve. We let our children down if we try to protect our children from every possible bad thing that could happen. We also let them down by not preparing them and giving them the tools they need in this life. God has never told us life would be easy. Our hope is in Him, not in what we avoid.

Resilience creates an environment in which both setbacks and successes are treated as positive learning experiences so our children are not broken by their experiences.

Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.

However, the main purpose of teaching forgiveness is the biblical commands presented and modeled to us over and over again by God. Jesus is the reason we can be forgiven and he is the reason we can forgive others. While we don’t want our children to carry an identity of sin and feel a constant need for forgiveness,  we want them to understand that we all make mistakes and because of Jesus, we are forgiven. Share that when we come to him and admit our need for his forgiveness, he responds to us with outstretched arms. Because of Jesus’ example, we know how to respond to others. We love (and forgive) because he first loved (and forgave) us.

Here are three perhaps unusual ways to build resilience in children that can lead to a gentle peaceful heart that is strengthened to weather the storms of this life through forgiveness.

  1. Three Ways: So many times when we are hurt by others or circumstances it can feel like its the worse situation that could have ever arisen. In reality, when we have enough time and space we can gain a new more positive perspective on difficult and devastating situations. Walk your child through three ways this situation could have been worse. Discuss the feelings, what it would like, and then discuss gratitude for the current situation not being the result of these three other ways.
  2. Plastic Funny Shield: Researchers have found again and again that survivors of horrific tragedies share one thing in common. A strong sense of humor. Laughter truly is the best medicine and can provide a shield of defense for everything our children are going to have to endure. Teach your children to look for the silly, the unexpected, and to laugh out loud at any opportunity. Do not disregard the power of teaching your preschoolers tongue twisters, your elementary students non-sensical punch lines, practical jokes, or your tweens and teens to laugh at jokes about the human experience.
  3. Practical Problem Solving: Somehow we have all fallen into the trap that unscheduled time brings pain and horror upon ourselves and our children. How many of us have loaded apps and games onto our devices to protect our children from <gasp>…waiting. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children to build their resilience to anything that comes their way is to make the most of what they have. Bricoleurs are always tinkering—building radios from household effects or fixing their own cars. They make the most of what they have, putting objects to unfamiliar uses. They are incredibly resourceful. Create Tinker Trays, Inventor Boxes, Loose Part Exploration to practically build this sense of resourcefulness into your children’s day to day activities rather than trying to protect them from it. These types of activities teach our children that things don’t always turn out perfectly or the way we think they should but they still have value.

By and large, build resiliency in your children through giving them a better grasp of reality at each stage of life they are in. Build their hearts and minds through humor and laughter. Don’t bubble wrap your kids now thinking they are better off in the long run.

I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all you do.

Joshua 1:9


Posted in Parenting

I know why Hagar sat a bow shot away

I recently had a new tattoo created. It is a protective caim encircling each of my children’s names on arrows. The symbolism is centered around Psalm 127. I want to provide a sanctuary of safety and security for love and acceptance for my children as they grow and develop. However, my ultimate desire is to shoot them off into the world to love.

I love all three of my children fiercely. I am combatively protective of them. The term mama bear was created for me. I am hard on them and bat them around with big old mama bear paws and claws but I am harder on anyone who tries to shut them down or shut them out. They are MY blessings that God specifically gave to ME.

thomas-lefebvre-433However, many times during the week I want to kill them. Ok, ok, not kill them but definitely muzzle them. All three of them are challenging children. All three of them are opinionated, mouthy, confident, intelligent beings. And all three of them can be absolutely exhausting. Too often I allow myself to be dragged into battles of the will that no one is going to come out unscathed. I have one that is wholly logical and frequently asks me why I “choose to escalate situations and responses.” I have another that will cite evidence that the sky is not blue. I have another that will choose the no response/cold shoulder retort. He can stand resolutely with a deer in headlight demeanor that is actually pretty awe-inspiring. What should be simple conversations like “do you want mayo or mustard” can turn into ridiculous, broken down conversations leaving me exasperated and them at the very least confused.

Remember the bible story of Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness in Genesis 22? I know the story is about her giving up, feeling abandoned and God letting her know that he sees and provides for all of us. None of us go unseen from him. However, notice verse 16. Isn’t it interesting Hagar is sitting a bow shot away from Ismael? It doesn’t say an “a short distance.” “Or a few feet away. “ Is it possible it specifically says a bow shot away because Hagar had had it Ishmael like any of us have on a long, painfully, boring trip with our children? She left him there to die but is it possible she went that far away in case she needed to send an arrow towards that boy as a warning shot? Who knows. Could just be the Gospel According to Carissa interpretation.

Intentional parenting is very important to me. There is a lot that goes into it. I think the biggest component is proactive preparation. Here are three things when I am not in the heat of the moment that I try to keep in mind when communicating with these blockheads I mean, my strong willed sweethearts.

  1. Pray– don’t you dare go into that lion’s den with that lovely spawn without praying over yourself and your children!!! It’s a no brainer if your children are under spiritual warfare or you are having serious conflict and behavior issues. Regardless, be sure to pray for those minor needle pricking battles too. Sometimes my prayers are literally “Lord, please keep me from rolling my eyes and responding as sarcastically as possible.”
  2. Stay on target for the topic at hand-When our kids are driving us crazy it is too easy to start focusing on every infringement, transgression, or seemingly negative character trait. Don’t over correct. Stay away from the nagging rebuke. Try bringing up the issue in a neutral environment, state the issue, ask what behavior and attitudes they have control over that can change, ask what they think an appropriate consequence is and then wrap it up with stating the expected behavior.
  3. Remember their communication style – Understanding how your child communicates and receives communication can support changing behavior. You can go down lots of rabbit holes with this but two questions to ask yourself are does my child start interactions with others or does my child respond when others start an interaction with them? How you approach your child or encourage your child to come to you can set the tone and ultimately the success of your parenting them through negative behaviors and attitudes.

I need to share this full disclaimer. I am not by any stretch of the imagination the perfect parent. In fact, most of this article was written in a hotel room while screeching at my boys something about ingratitude and it “NEEDED TO STOP NOW.”

No prayer.

No staying on target.

No thoughts to their individual communication style.

However, there is a plan for moving towards more positive behavior from all of us. Let me know your plans for your kids!


Photo by Thomas Lefebvre

Posted in Thinking out loud

I don’t have anything innovative to say.

You may find yourself in a similar position as me. A cool thing has ended and you are waiting around for the next cool bus to jump on. Maybe it’s a project. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s a calling. Maybe it’s just a feeling that something is coming down the line. I may not have anything innovative to say But I do just want to remind you of three things if you are in a holding pattern.

  1. Do something. Twiddling your thumbs may be all the energy you can pull up after this last phase of your life ended but do something. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do but don’t let that dictate your everyday existence. Do what only you can do. Write, call, create, organize, research use some brain cells during this waiting time. Learn a little something new.
  2. Don’t go to pot. Literally or figuratively. Take care of yourself. If something has ended in your life then something is definitely about to happen. We are always in preparation for the next stage. Do you need to rest more? Sit on the patio and read a book? Hold a baby? Drink more water? Eat pizza with friends? Take a social media break? Actually exercise? Cut out the sugar? Meditate? Pray? I know for me, the last few weeks have been re-connecting with friends and family to build an anchor for my soul. It’s also been important to move into disciplined and consistent exercise.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. We have created a vicious un-loving culture centered around DOING rather than BEING. Just as you never what to get Number 2 confused with Number 1 in bathroom life Don’t get number 3 on this list confused with number 1. We have fallen for this trap that if we are doing something then we must have value. It has to be something big. Something important. Something highly instagrammable. If a season of your life has ended that took up much of your identity it is easy to fall into a pit of despair when “That Thing” is over. I know for myself I have had those stupid self-pity sessions starting with “I don’t have anything to offer that anyone would want anyway.” Thus, one of many reasons I have picked up my blog again.

There really is a time for everything. Time for waiting. Time for healing. Time for grieving. Time for dreaming. Use this time that you have to gear up for the next BIG Important Deal in your life! Let me know what’s working or not working for you.


Photo by Qusai Akoud on Unsplash


Posted in Thinking out loud

9 Things I Tell My Daughter

One of My Reasons- My beautiful daughter Emma

All my children are amazing. No really. This is not just a mom thing. All 3 of My Reasons are incredibly distinct and unique beings. I’m fiercely proud of them and protective as well. We spend a lot of time talking about their thoughts, dreams, frustrations. About our expectations, reassurances, advice, beliefs, and faith. Here’s 9 things I tell my beautiful daughter as often as I can. 

1. Nothing is more important than God

 No boy, no catty words from other girls, no job, no event. Keep your gaze set on Him. Don’t get sucked into stupid conversations. Don’t get distracted by worldly gain. Don’t start looking at yourself so much you forget who you came from and what you were meant to do this side of heaven. Focus on God, put Him first. Everything else pans out the way it should. 

2. Ask the questions, find the answers. 

There is no stupid question. You may not end up with the same question you started with but at least you started forward in finding the answer. If you want to know it, it’s worth knowing. Ask about people, ask their thoughts and opinions, ask about events and why they happened, ask about things to come and how you can be apart of it. Ask God why, how, who, and what. That’s they only thing I want you to wait on, is His answer. 

3. Don’t wait.

They say you won’t study Vietnam War for another 2 years but you want to know about it now. Study it now. You want to be an entrepreneur when you grow up? Make the business plan now.  You see someone in need? Don’t wait until you have all the answers and resources. Act and act swiftly. Hear a song? Sing it. Hear a poem? Write it. Ship what you have today now. Perfect it along the way. Only thing to wait on is God. But be ready to move when He says “go.”

4. Be a chronic reader. And then write about what you read. 

Leaders are readers. Strong women have knowledge. Read everything. Especially your bible. Read even things that aren’t meant for you. Especially things that others have banned. Then write about it so you can store in a deeper part of your brain and soul. Just stop using the word “tooken.”

5. Dont apologize for being smart and pretty.

A lot of people say you can’t have it all. You do. You are beautiful and intelligent. Grace and confidence will carry you far. People will underestimate what you are capable of because they will be distracted by your heels and bling. Don’t say your sorry for who you are. 

6. Fight. Fight dirty if needed.

If you believe in it, if it is yours, if it is for the underdog, if it’s a good cause, if it’s life and death, if it’s to give someone else a voice. Fight. Don’t ever give up. Have courage, fight through the tears. Fight me and dad if we don’t listen or try to block something you know God has put in your heart. 

7. Give

Generously give away your money, your encouragement, your laughter, your tears. Share your ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Give your time and talents. Share your songs, gifts, and beauty. 

8. Take Care of What You’ve Been Given

Exercise every day, eat strong healthy food, eat dessert and chocolate, guard your heart, protect your innocence, know where you laid your phone, don’t lose your kids when you have them, love your husband with everything you have, personally track your finances, change the oil in your car, take the trash out, keep track of time. 

9. Purposefully look for joy

There is so much pain and sadness. Always look for the joke and sarcasm. Bring the giggles and snorts and laughter with you. Find the funny signs, and odd people, and goofy sayings. Laugh until your sides burst. 


What do you share with your daughter? What do you want to impress upon her?