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


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