What Matters More Than Your Child’s Behavior

If you’re a mom, I’m sure you’ve been there. You’ve felt your face get red hot as your child loudly begged for a toy in the store as other shoppers looked on out of the corner of their eyes. You’ve felt the shame creep up your neck when your offspring hit another child or said something disrespectful in public. 

Even if no was was judging you, you were judging you. 

The eyes of onlookers seemed to bore into your back as you fumbled to make it right or do the correct “parent thing” on behalf of your small human.

What they didn’t know was that it was twenty minutes past nap time, and lunch was still to be eaten. They didn’t know that you had been up a million times with the baby or the toddler who had a nightmare or just wanted to be close to you. They didn’t know that everyone, including yourself, just needed a nap and some extra care. Most importantly, they didn’t know that the same child who was now violently throwing his head back in protest at the unfairness of life in the grocery isle had also wrapped his sticky arms around your neck with,”I love you. You’re my best mom,” at breakfast that morning.

You’re right: They don’t know. But you do. 

So what’s really bothering you, mama?

Let’s get these facts: They don’t need to know. You do. Others may judge you, (who knows) but you are your worst critic. The war is actually inside yourself. 

Even if you’re the only one who knows the missing elements from that dramatic public episode, it’s not they who need to be informed. You’re the one needing the reminder, and you’re definitely the one who needs to believe it. Because you are the mom, and you are giving life to these humans every single day. 

Somehow kids expose every inch of selfishness and pride wrapping its tenicles around our hearts. We know deep in our hearts that our kids are not the sum of the behavior they pull out in public. Somehow it still bothers us that they don’t know, but that’s just the point: they don’t know. 

Strangers are not qualified to accurately assess the life lessons being learned in your home. They certainly aren’t there for the long nights and cuddles and living room forts, much less the breaking point stress moments. They haven’t invested, so don’t give their input (imaginary or real) a platform in your mind. They don’t know. But you do!

Don’t let someone who only witnesses two seconds of your child’s behavior become a voice in your head, judging the big picture. Leave that to your spouse, your closest friends and your trusted mentors- your “lifers:” the ones in it with you for the long haul. The ones who not only share in your victories, but also walk through the dark pit of discouragement with you. 

Children are such good gauges of our spirit connection, and I have to say, 95% of the time, my daughter’s anger is a reflection of my anger, my frustrated reaction, or my lack of presence and patience.

Yes, there are times of random outbursts over a frustration when she can’t figure something out, for example, but such anger is usually dispelled by a gentle response and some loving, patient, and confidant direction or redirection. Making a big deal about the behavior at this stage usually only fuels the exasperation, heightening my frustration and making it a battle of wills that no one wins. 

I’ll admit I haven’t hit the stage of grand maul tantrums, but my toddler has definitely started exercising her little will, and I want to tell you a story.
The other week, I was trying to clean my house in a mad rush, and I got frustrated at my daughter for repeatedly trying to stick her hands in the toilet water while I was cleaning it. “Just STOP IT!” I said her name harshly and swatted her cloth diapered  bum. It didn’t hurt her through the thick diaper, but it sure provoked her. She threw her head back and screamed angrily like I have never seen. I knew instantly that I had gone wrong. 

Wow, Bren, how imature. Get it together! My connection with my child is more important than this clean toilet right now. 

She continued wailing while I took my supplies downstairs to give myself a moment to regroup. When I came back, she was waiting at the top of the stairs her little arms outstretched, wiggling her fingers in a “get me” gesture. I put aside the powerful turmoil of wanting to feel productive or accomplished and aligned my soul with love instead.

My response is more important than my child’s behavior in this moment.

There is time for the practical life stuff like scrubbing toilets, but it can’t come before the eternal stuff. This was eternal.  

She instantly went into my arms, and reciprocated my affection, forgiving me for my previous reaction. I held her close, and we sat together for a while.  

So yes, that was me last week finally experiencing first hand what it’s like to be that mom of a wiggly, noisy baby, having a hungry, overdue nap meltdown in a restaurant booth. Even Baby Einstein clips weren’t postponing the drama and restlessness. 

It was not pleasant, but I thought: so this is what it’s like? My baby is a little out of control right now, but you know what? It’s just a moment in time. I’m sorry if we are disturbing others around us, but shame is not my motivator. I’ll be patient. I’ll be kind. I’ll be fun. I’ll be confident. I’m a good mom, and we’ll get through this temporary moment in public just like we do at home. And it’s ok if I don’t get to enjoy my entree like I wanted to. 

I am showing her the art of choosing and teaching her to manage her emotions by doing it myself, and it is worth the time.

You and I have it in us to parent like Jesus gently parents us. He is so safe- so patient. His love is far deeper than our worst moments. It has life changing effects on our own parenting.

Yes, what you know, and how you respond matters more than your child’s behavior.

©Brenda Kanagy


Inside My Public Support for Donald Trump

It will soon be a year that God put it on my heart to pray for and support Donald Trump. I have not always operated in love and consequently suffered the pain and loss of it, so it was scary risking ridicule by being bold again. I told God, “I don’t want to do this again unless I have love and you preserve and defend me because I can’t handle it.”

 I have lost a lot of things in life, some to my own stupidity and some because the enemy likes to distort and steal things, but the reason I had the courage to take a public plunge was because of something God established in me:

You can lose people, you can lose things, but YOU CAN’T LOSE ME. I’ve got you.” 

Now when I say I have nothing to lose, that’s why. It’s amazing how light the burden is when God is the one carrying it. #gamechanger

My words were not exactly received well across the board when I went public with it. Some people are vocal to challenge my ideas, some onlookers shock me with their unexpected agreement, and still others are eerily silent. Then there are the treasured friends and family who have proven their love and support is permanent even through changing seasons. 

It has been an amazing experience, learning to let surrounding noise draw me deeper into the quiet place where I hear only one Voice. I constantly have to reevaluate my heart. 

Quote: “When you know you are humble, you have lost it.” K.V. I think the truth to be gained from that quote is to be more God conscious than self conscious. He knows us better than we know ourselves, so He can be trusted to purify us and bring the gold through fire. 

I feel like this experience has taught me so much about happy intercession and learning to hear and pray from the third Heaven where God speaks instead of in lower realms where principalities war. 

We do not battle people. I’ll end with that encouragement because it far surpasses my experience speaking out for Trump. Love is the greatest force. It looks like many different actions depending on seasons, but it is the same Person. I hope people always see that even though what I say may be counter to what they believe or feel, I am for them and have only love. 

©Brenda Kanagy 

I Can’t Forgive Myself…Yet

I have hurt a lot of people in my short life. I’ve been told (and I concur) that I am an old soul. I feel like I’ve already lived an entire lifetime and learned a thousand lessons and truths in my 21 years.

I think people rarely set out to intentionally hurt people, at least I don’t. I guess you could call it casualties of war. The casualties of sin- whether direct or indirect.

We go through life trying to follow the light guiding us, yet somehow it’s impossible to avoid bumping into others trying to do the same. We try to celebrate the journeys and successes of the ones around us without getting sidetracked of our own vision because vision is what keeps us alive. We might get distracted, looking at each other’s journey, noticing the baggage and the road weary faces. Sometimes the masks successfully hide the wounds, but masks never heal trauma.

We try to do the right thing- to communicate what motivates our steps without derailing others in a different spot. We are compelled to speak our testimonies, but sometimes say the wrong things. Sometimes even the right thing is wrong because it’s not the right time. Sometimes we think we’ve ruined it for everyone. Sometimes we think we’re alone.

Sometimes I’m afraid I will never have a voice again because of the way it was misunderstood and rejected in the past. The fire never died. God never let me die even when I thought I would. The coals have been stirred quietly in my heart to keep me alive and growing.

God, I’ve been letting You in to heal the wounds. I have let You touch the misunderstandings, the rejection and loss of things and people I once thought I was incomplete without. I have kissed the ground of my pain and released offense towards ones who tried to silence me and reject what You were doing in me, despite my mistakes and young faith.

But something keeps coming back, and I wonder why I catch myself when I want to move and speak and dance and live and breathe and respond. My flesh calls it wisdom- this caution to avoid offending, to avoid hurting, to avoid to avoid to AVOID even when it’s time to be direct. My spirit knows it’s fear.

I’m afraid to cause pain again.

If You say go, why can’t I move? If I’ve forgiven, why don’t I feel forgiven? God, if I’m not holding offense towards others, am I holding an offense to myself? You said to love my neighbor as myself. Do I still love myself like You see me?

I can’t forgive myself that I didn’t execute Your plans perfectly. I cant forgive myself that I let the condemnation in and cloud wisdom and crush faith. I can’t forgive myself for letting the intense pain of human misunderstanding convince me that You would give me a stone when I asked for bread. I can’t forgive myself for not being strong enough to carry the weight. I can’t forgive myself for taking on the weight of the burdens instead of properly finding my rest and wisdom in You against all odds.

I can’t forgive myself for not not knowing who to confide in. I can’t forgive myself for trusting the wrong people or being too gullible to discern and to give myself grace and time to process and learn. I can’t forgive myself for not receiving the grace to make innocent mistakes as I learned to walk. I cant forgive myself for the pain and chaos that learning to walk in boldness of your testimony in my life caused.

I can’t forgive myself for believing that You were limited by young faith- that somehow my inconsistencies and weak areas would not hold up against your great strength and love to keep me humble and to keep me pure in heart. I can’t forgive myself for not being wise enough to navigate the questions well.

I can’t forgive myself for receiving doubt. I can’t forgive myself for letting Satan steal that innocent faith and first love abandon. I can’t forgive myself for stumbling into the very things the accuser held over my head with fear when I first had the faith of a child. I can’t forgive myself for buckling under pressure. I can’t forgive myself for losing it and throwing myself under the bus of self sabotage instead of digging deeper in You. I can’t forgive myself for falling into actual personal darkness so much worse than the false imagination and fear the enemy projected- even through people.

But most of all, I can’t forgive myself for believing that You were the one hurting me and for letting pain and bitterness harden my heart to Your unconditional love in my pit.

I can’t forgive myself for letting the memories and fear of hurting others again dull my sensitivity to Your voice. I can’t forgive myself for letting the pain of my offense overshadow the magnitude of redemption and the power of Your words and my testimony.

Sometimes I let my mistakes dictate how I respond in the present. But can wisdom really speak through fear? Can fear really ever promote love which covers a multitude of my sins? Fear is never wisdom unless it’s fear of God. With holy fear, I don’t have to fear anything else.

I’ve done all I know to do to make it right, yet I can’t fix it. How do I let go? How do I pick myself up and walk in boldness and humility? Perfect Love, step in my fear so I can see clearly.

I don’t reject the testimony of Christ in my life. It’s much too real to deny, and I would sell my soul to close the door to what I’ve known. But show me where I’ve over-corrected to my mistakes and hardened my sensitivity the the quiet voice of the Spirit because of the intense fear of being a trigger point of pain.

God, how can you be limited to me? How small You must be in my mind if I think my mistakes can derail my destiny or keep someone out of Your arms? I’m not even strong enough to escape Your intense love.

I say I can’t forgive myself, but I simply can’t forgive myself yet. You invade my heart, and I know the end, or really, the beginning is in sight.

©Brenda Kanagy

cd page - forgiveness through christ

Stop Talking About Modesty

So you think I need to dress differently. Can you tell me more about this Jesus you love?

Said no one ever. At least not that I know of. And I get that I’m only one small person, (literally 5′ 2″) but bear with my tongue-in-cheek. 

I saw a quote that impressed me recently, and when it comes to topics that have been chewed, swallowed, hashed, and spit back up for another round, it takes quite a bit to impress me. (“Quite a bit” is code for: A LOT, as in, “talking donkey/ revelation from the Lord,” type of persuasion.)

Here is the quote:

It’s easy to show skin. It takes bravery to show humility, vulnerability, compassion, heart, kindness, self-respect. –Mandy Hale

Boom. I was so taken aback by that fresh perspective!

I believe in unshakable truth and valuable principles applied in the spirit of love and grace, but it’s just a fact that the aura surrounding evangelicalism has been so tainted by pride and personal perception and frankly, the spirit of religion, that the authenticity of God’s heart rather seemed to (generally speaking) get lost in translation in the western world. People don’t want to be offered that murky cup of principle one more time. 

People need a fresh perspective of connection. It’s not that God changed; we changed from ANNOINTED to cultured- cultured in head knowledge instead of affirmative experience with Truth Himself.

Why? Because we’re prone to stupidity  and get so easily transfixed by the misconception that we can perform our way to holiness or effectiveness or even closeness with our Father. 

We say it’s about the heart, but it’s really not. If conflict goes away when people adjust to our belief system, we only achieve the goal of conformity, which gets us no closer to the heart of God than if we had intentionally walked away. 

The assignment of love is c o n n e c t i o n. This is how broken people become anointed ones: by a personal touch. It’s not that the beauty and power of the pure gospel is dead, but people simply don’t see it in the loud clamor of biblical stances. People sense ulterior motives. They don’t want to be evangelized anymore. 

I don’t want to know how your religion thinks I should change. What can it offer me? We’ve been conditioned to believe this mindset- this neediness is selfish, but I think Christians need to ressurect the art of humble receiving. There is no way to give from an empty cup. 

What can your religion offer me? It sounds selfish, but like it or not, it is how faith starts. We can’t cheat people out of their first baby steps by demanding mature marathons. Maturity and character and “lay down your life” kind of love grows from Love exposure, but first we are little children. We love because He first loved us. In fact, Christ would have us remain as little children in this aspect: wide eyed baby birds with mouths wide open waiting for the next juicy meal, as if it’s the first one. 

When it came to external modesty, I was raised ultra conservative in reference to mainstream cultural norms. In my short life of exploration through various races, cultures, denominations, religions, or lack thereof, I’ve realized that there is always a different standard of acceptable and normal based on all of the above influential objectives. The world is much bigger than how we have been conditioned to see it. It is absolutely futile to base my choices and core beliefs on the opinions and approval of other humans in process. (However bad or good the “results.”) 

Christians have a bad habit of over testififying. WHAT? Is that even possible? Let me rephrase that: We over talk, and under testify. We aren’t selling a product; we’re hosting royalty. When we host introductions, it is rude to talk over that special guest; they can speak for themselves. It is unnecessary to explain and clarify and interject our humanity at every turn.  Jesus is the first thing, the middle thing, and the final thing. He’s the living, breathing word of God. He’s the living, breathing spirit of love and truth. Let’s get that right. Let’s live this love in action. 

Ah, fickle humanity loves the black and white. Just tell me what to wear! Why didn’t you ban bikinis in the book of Galations, Lord? Why didn’t you make it easy and spell out rules like in the O.T.? But Jesus, beautiful Jesus in his absolute identity, yet his multifaceted ways and manifestations can not be confined to mere platitudes and to do lists. The OT was only a template; it’s outside of his nature to force His ways apart from intimacy. So instead of seeking answers, maybe we should seek God’s presence so that understanding can come. And in everything, let’s hold fast to love and faith which covers what we don’t yet comprehend.
Bottom line: God loves us all, and the gospel applies to each human and tribe and culture, whether we like it or not. We do what we know personally, but in the mean time, it’s probably a good idea to love on someone outrageously out of our comfort zone. For you, that might be a prostitute who sells her sexuality for a living. For me, it might be a religious conservative who thinks I am bound for hell because of this post. 🙂 It’s the beautiful diversity of the gospel. Jesus is so awesome, and his love is wildly extravagant. 

An ending quote by C. S. Lewis: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”

Peace to all.

© Brenda Kanagy

Olives and Hummus 

  Last week, my husband shared long conversation with an Indian man over a platter of olives, carrots, and hummus in a hotel restaurant.

After surveying the people in the room, he picked my husband out for company. When the veggies arrived, there was an invitation to eat!

They chatted for over an hour about the importance of healthy diet and lifestyle and the results of his studies.

He was vegetarian and a student of religions. 

His conclusions showed similarities between Hinduism, Budism, and Christianity, in that they promote love, unlike the one that “blows people up.” 

He knew the Bible and talked about the Kingdom of God. He saw similarities between Holy Spirit Kingdom principles and the practice of emptying the mind in meditation. His theology may have been skewed or had missing links, but my husband enjoyed listening and visiting with an unlikely connection who was genuine and kind.

This Easter, I’m humbled at the discovery of Christ, the hope of glory, in the most unassuming places. 

I have never been invited to share a platter of hummus and olives with a Christian. 

May we remember that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, and many experience Him without knowledge. 

May we look for Him, may we celebrate Him, may we never dash the gold against the rocks for its presentation. 

May we seek to be bearers of light, that speak only timely messages, that love without requiring many words- remembering the Man who suffered quietly for the greatest act of love in history and that ever will be.

Happy Easter weekend!  

©Brenda Kanagy

TOXIC [part 2]

At one time, I stopped caring about offense and crashed through life with new found joy and abandon, painfully scraping those around me with my rough edged, baby wings. 

In reaction to the pieces fallen around me, (wounded hearts) I dejectedly became quiet and opted to keep my wings tucked to my sides more than is healthy for a growing bird. 

I flew less and less until I eventually got so out of practice that flying at all felt unnatural. 

Fear does that; it is a unstable, TOXIC motivator. It uses false evidence to create static in our connection with the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.

(Love does care, but love does not carry the offense. I deeply hope I’ve grown in love and wisdom with time.)

The struggle: I don’t want to become weak in faith in order to be kind in love. I need wisdom to get both flowing simultaneously. Because God is love, and faith pleases Him.

I feel like my short life has already been such a struggle of love and faith- one always rushing in front of the other, letting fear come between that distance to sever their marriage union. 

I retreat in the name of love when my faith offends, then let fear take my faith hostage when it’s time to take risks. It is a TOXIC cycle.

The truth is, even in my best moments of authenticity and peace before God, I don’t think I’ve escaped offense in some form from people. This goes to show how unstable human approval is as a motivator. 

I’m honestly not sure it’s possible to live in the light without offense in this life. Paul said to be at peace with all men as much as possible. 


Apparently, even if I may not be able to control the way the world perceives me, fear of offense need not be carried in my heart anymore. 

Faith always offends fear, but offense is not automatically a sign of faith that pleases God. My faith might be real, (“and these signs WILL follow real believers”) but faith that pleases God is married to the Spirit of Love. 


So what is a good sign of stability and growth?

Is my public faith producing fruits of the Spirit in me?

I’m not even sure I know what that looks like or how to go about embodying this faith/love union, but I’m going to start asking for transformation!

Examine my heart, Lord.

©Brenda Kanagy

TOXIC [part 1]

 When I anticipate a simple decision, I often mentally look around the room to see what others are doing or expect from me (whether true or assumed) in order to adjust. This is one of my current, greatest weaknesses. It’s pathetic, really.

What should I say, where should I go, what should I wear, what should I drink, how should I live? 

Basically: What can I do to please people- to avoid offense.

DO. DO. DO. 

There is a beautiful thing of being culturally sensitive and relevant, but most of the time, for me it boils down to fear. So much of my brain is still consumed with the fear of offending someone- of being wrong, of being abrasive.

I’m realizing how TOXIC it is to primarily take cues from people for my decisions, behavior, and thought process. 

For one: other people may not even be following God’s design for their own lives. That’s a pretty good sign that their voice shouldn’t be my guiding light.

For two: other people are not me, and other people are not living my story! One size does not fit all.

And for three: There is wisdom found in a multitude of counselors, but the psalmist wasn’t referring to the fear voices in my head.

God is the only one who made me. He knows all the intricate details of my past, present, and future. Godly counsellors have their purpose, but God is a perfect counselor, not to mention the only advocate who thought I was worth investing in and risking everything for. 

It’s been said, “An idol is anything you have to check with before you say ‘yes’ to God.” 

Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t be consulting fear.

If I base my “normal” off of what is around me, it generally means I’m settling for less than what I could experience. It’s not that I am better than others, because even exceptional humans I look up to are in process to greater things.  It’s just that I totally miss out on my potential and God’s extraordinary when I consult my comparison filter before consulting His thoughts and plans about me, my day, and my life. 

What little kid, when offered a gift, would look to his left or right to gauge his peers’ excitement in order to acclimate his own response? How rediculous. In the same way, it’s like I approach the throne of grace and look around to check what everyone else is doing first instead of RUNNING TO IT. 

I don’t want to be like that. I want ALL God has for me, and I want all God has for you. 

What have I been missing due to fearful caution? Caution isn’t wisdom by default. I’m up for change. Anyone else?

©Brenda Kanagy 

-I do not own the photo in this post.