Tag Archives: Priorities

Anger’s Bitter End

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It hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks.

A small sentence. A minor statement in the book Good and Angry. A dad says, “I had developed bitterness toward my kids.”

It took my breath away as I sat in the realization of it all.

Most everything I do is for my kids. I wake up and tackle the day to help them learn and grow and mature. I cook two or three meals a day, all the time considering their health and wellbeing. I read, read, read to them, bathe them, groom them, manage them, discipline them. I teach and explain and correct, always debating in my mind how to handle the issues in the most God-honoring, for-their-betterment, least-need-for-counseling way. I spend the hours after they are tucked in mulling over the events of the day, preparing for the next. I love my kids.

But I was “keeping a record of wrongs.”

No, I wasn’t tallying whines, hurtful words, complaints, and problems. There was no list of good and naughty, no journal accounts of their offenses.

But, unknowingly, I was starting my day with a tankful of anger, ready to pounce. Because I was full.

Full of no one being ready when it was time to leave. Full of picking up toys. Full of putting away laundry. Full of cooking and cleaning. Full of sibling rivalry. Full of disobedience. Full of anger. Full of thinking it all over. Full of self. Full of guilt.

And full of records.

“They always…”
“They never…”
“When will they learn to…”
“I’m so tired of them always…”

So today, after much prayer, I attempted to see my kids without past offenses. They needed a fresh start to the day. I needed a fresh start to the day.

Sure, they repeated some of their trademark issues, and I repeated some of mine. We are all works in progress, after all.

But, as I leaned on the Lord for strength and resolve, my kids and I were able to relate without as much anger wedged in my heart. And, for the first time in quite a while, I fully and deeply appreciated what Paul was saying to the Corinthians in that famous love chapter, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Because the freedom and privilege to love lies in the absence of records.

Lord, let me be full. Full of love.

13 in 2013: A Book Challenge

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I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I have ever even made one. But January is a fresh time for new resolves and goals. Something about it lends to renewed starts and refocus.

So this year I have made a non-resolution to attempt to completely (key word here) read 13 books this year. I love to read but, since having kids, have failed to make completing books a priority. I don’t know if I have undiagnosed ADD or what, but I read a book until it bores me (or another book promises to be more exciting) and then add it to my large pile of books in process. I have a baby or two and then realize I have “been reading” some of the books for years!

And so I give you the books I want to read each month for 2013. I hope this can be an encouragement for some of you to make lists of your own. After all, in the words of Douglas Wilson in his book I partially read, Wordsmithy, you should “read until your brain creaks.” I love that thought.

January
Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

February
Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

March
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

April
For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

May
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis

June
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

July
What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings — and Life (ebook) by Laura Vandekam

August
The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears

September
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

October
When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

November
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

December
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason

Bonus Book (I downloaded this on Kindle to read when I steal a quick minute or two!)
Hints on Child-Training by H Clay Trumbull

If you take up this challenge, I would love to know what books you’re reading!
Happy Reading!

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: A Review

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A few weeks ago, my husband came home to me cleaning the floor on my hands and knees, with bread in the oven and applesauce cooking on the stove. I had on an apron, and there were clean smells coming from within the house.

He just stared and me and said, “What are you doing?”

I looked back at him and simply replied, “This is what happens when you read about the pilrgims all day!”

Sometimes I have days like this. Days when I am on top of things. The laundry gets done, the house is mostly cleaned and straightened. Dinner is thought-out and prepared. I enjoy these days.

But most days are not like this. Especially lately.

I was drowning in a sea of things that needed to get done. Everywhere I turned, I saw evidence of my failures and lack of discipline. Sure, the house looked generally good. But the closets and other little areas were collecting piles and in great disarray. I needed help.

So I was very excited when I got the privilege of reviewing Crystal Paine’s new ebook, 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life. I started to read it, and got all pumped up to make a game plan to start tackling those areas that have caused me such grief and guilt. And I feel so much better already! Unlike some books on discipline, this book doesn’t take a long time to read, and it is broken down into very manageable, practical pieces!

So, if you are like me and you’re struggling through some undisciplined areas in your life, I encourage you to check it out! She has it on sale right now…for just 99 cents!  On October 26, the price will go up to $4.99. Let me know how it helps you!

Driving the Kids: The Soundtrack

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The day is happy. For the most part, everyone is getting along. School is going well. Meals are healthy and thought-out in advance. I am showered and dressed, and I have makeup on. Everything is going well. Cue the song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

We lose track of time as we prance about the house all day singing our song when the clock strikes 3:45. We have to be somewhere at 4.

Then panic sets in, and I become a drill sergeant barking orders:
Change your shirt! (You can’t go in public in *that*!)
Put on your shoes!
Where is your coat?

Then the kids get cranky and whiny. They start yelling across the house, bickering, and fighting. Socks, shoes, and coats seem to fly through the air.

And the baby looks at me and grins. There is a stench in the air. Toddler Law says they must always poo as you’re walking out the door.

We make it to the van. One still doesn’t have shoes, one has a crusty face, and one is missing.

We are in our seats, but no one feels settled. We are all spent, tired, and cranky. It is 3:59.

Cue “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”

I’ve come to realize that some of my weakest parenting occurs during the rush to get out the door. It’s a pattern I know I need to fix, giving myself more time and praying for more patience. I’m going to work on that.

Because it would sure be nice to “Hit the Road, Jack,” with a smile on all of our faces.

How Spilled Milk Adds Up

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The boys are being careless and silly. Then, as if in slow motion, the milk comes soaring across the table and spills into my lap. The boys look at me, wide-eyed.

I can feel the steam rising from my feet, all the way up until, out of my mouth, spews forth a comment not kindly spoken and in a voice that is definitely raised.

Mommy just cried over spilled milk.

My kids are sad, and I feel guilty for my wrath. Dripping with milk, I go to my room to change. Then I remember what my mom used to say to me in times like this.

Dear, you need to count to ten.

Apparently I have always struggled with overreacting because I remember her saying that to me. A lot.

But it’s funny that in my parenting journey, I had somehow forgotten the wisdom of those simple words.

Count to ten.

So I’ve started doing that. I’ve started simply counting to ten. And sure enough, my words have been kinder, my demeanor more loving, my voice more calm, my words more carefully chosen.

I count to ten. My words become sweeter to their dear little ears, and my toddler learns a math concept. Everyone wins.

The New No

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Sometimes my three-year-old and I sound alike. If you listened long at our house, you’d hear a similar mantra..No!

It’s funny, but no one told me how often I would say no as a mother. Of course, it is essential to say it many times a day to a toddler or preschooler as they learn the ropes. But I have noticed (and have been saddened lately) by how often I say no to my kids’ requests to spend time together.

Oh, it’s not always “no,” of course.
Not right now
Maybe later
After I ….
How about tomorrow?

The list goes on and on. And the tension so many of us struggle with is that things DO need to get done. Our kids sometimes DO need to wait a bit. (Just a second, buddy. Mommy’s wiping someone’s bottom!)

But sometimes they don’t.

As I’ve noticed this happening around our house, I have been thinking of making a few changes.

I will still say no. To other things.

I will say “not right now” to the dishes.
I will say “maybe later” to the laundry.
I will say “after I push them in the swing” to the vacuuming.
I will say “how about tomorrow” to emails.

And you know what? I will never see the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and emails shrug their shoulders in sadness at my neglect.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like to have a clean house. I still do have to get my chores done sometime. The laundry and meal prep are inevitable. I am not suggesting running around naked and eating frozen pizza to be at a child’s beck and call.

But wouldn’t it be great to put down the glass cleaner and join a princess at a tea party?

Don’t get me wrong. My kids ask me to play lots of things I’d rather not play. I dislike playing with grasshoppers. I am not a big fan of playing with Hot Wheels. And my idea of a Lego creation is a rainbow tower of all of the two-pronged pieces.

But it matters to them. And they matter to me.

You know what I have found incredibly useful in this venture? A timer (or a time limit). I set the timer, or look at the clock, and note 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. I am theirs for that bit of time. Then I can go back to the laundry. Sometimes I tell them, “Mommy has 10 minutes to swing with you, and then she needs to start making dinner.” Sometimes I mentally set the time so they don’t have to know how much I do NOT want to play pirate.

Whatever the case may be, find a strategy that works for you, and try to put off a thing or two to spend more time with your kiddos. I know I am renewing my effort to do so at my house.

Because yes is the new no.