February 9, 2016
Every day has its own set of fresh challenges as a mom. At times, the frustrations, setbacks, spills, annoyances, hormones and just plain being tired can get the best of us, and like a volcano we can easily erupt with an unexpected explosion. We didn’t plan on it. We thought we were above exploding at the kids, but it happens. We may not be able to get rid of every mommy explosion, but we can be deliberate about reducing the possibility of losing it with kids. We can learn to deflect our anger and deal with it in a positive way, so our words and actions do not have a negative or lasting effect on our kids.
First, let’s identify our personal explosion triggers, and then look at ways to handle ourselves in the heat of the moment. We can also consider some preventative measures. Please keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to anger. Our angry explosions are typically a personalized thing, based on our type of personality, our own childhood experiences and our physical well-being, to name just a few factors. I simply want you to glean a few ideas which work best for you.
Determining the Detonators
Let’s consider some of the triggers in your life that cause you to explode. In other words, what are some of the situations that set your anger in motion or tip you over the emotional edge? On a notepad, stop and consider what are the top five triggers that really set you off into an angry rage. Think back to the last time you lost it with your kids or husband – what seemed to be the trigger. Take a moment to write them down. You may find it helpful to fill out the Mom’s Anger Self-evaluation on this website.
After a time of introspection, I want you to take each of the triggers you listed and write beside it what is the possible underlying personal issue. For instance let’s say the last time you lost it with the kids was when you were trying to get out the door on time for a meeting. Your underlying issue may be that you have this picture of perfection in your mind and you must maintain your “always-on-time, super-put-together image.” On the other hand, you may have difficulty organizing your time in the morning or maybe you slept late. Be brutally honest with yourself. Humbly seek God’s guidance as you open yourself up to recognizing perhaps some of your weaknesses or personal sin patterns.
As you look at your list above with your personal detonators to your mommy explosions and also your own underlying issues, let’s prayerfully move forward. Take each explosion and prayerful lay it before the Lord. First, confess any sin to Him that you have realized as you have gone through this process. Please know at this point He has forgotten the sin and moved on, and so must you (no beating yourself up in your brain allowed here). Ask the Lord to heal any emotional pain incurred by your kids or spouse due to your anger. Now I want you to humbly consider each issue before the Lord and ask him if there are any preventative solutions.
Maybe you explode at your teenager because you are fearful they will go down the wrong path, and so even a minor infraction makes you lose it. Then a possible solution would be to place your fear of the future in God’s hands while recognizing your screaming will not help your teen along the pathway of life. Instead, a good, healthy, sane discussion when you have had a chance to calm your emotions and pray about your fears may be a positive personal solution. To tell you honestly, I don’t have the exact answers for your solution, but God does! There may not be a practical or easy solution to every explosion, but let’s seek God’s direction as far as the possibilities.
I know from personal experience as I ask God for wisdom on what to do, or how to parent, or how to avoid an explosive situation, God is faithful to lead me and guide me in the right direction. Often my flustering problem is running late (no matter how early I get up), so my practical solution has come in the form of setting my clocks 5 minutes ahead and writing down an earlier arrival time on my calendar.
Psalm 5:8 (NLT) says, “Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Tell me clearly what to do and show me which way to turn.” This can be our prayer as well. Our enemy is whatever seems to detonate our explosion and the underlying personal issue behind it. Let’s seek the Lord to show us solutions to lead us away from those underground mines. After a time of quiet prayer and reflection, take a moment to write down the solutions God places on your heart for each trigger area. Join me next week as we look at how to keep your cool when the heat is on.
This is an excerpt from my book, Defuse – A Mom’s Survival Guide to more Love Less Anger.
February 1, 2016
Several years ago, I was walking through a store and saw several decorative words made out of wood, yet one word seemed to shout at me. It was the word Forgive. Trust me, there was a large quantity of those words still in the store. Who wants to buy a difficult word like Forgive to decorate their house when you can buy delightful words like Laughter, Joy or Happiness?
On a whim I bought the word Forgive and placed it in my kitchen. It was interesting to me to hear people’s comments as they saw the word on the counter. They’d say something like, “Oh I needed to see that today,” then proceed to tell me about a situation in which they needed to forgive another person. One time a friend came over, saw the word Forgive and let out a big sigh. I asked her, “Oh is there someone you need to forgive?” She responded, “Well actually I needed to see that word because I needed to be reminded to forgive myself when I beat myself up in my thought life.”
I began to see how very powerful the word Forgive is to all of us. We need the constant reminder all throughout the day. One day as another friend was walking by the ledge where I kept this powerful word, she accidentally knocked it off and broke it. You can imagine my disappointment. Actually, when someone breaks your Forgive sign, you kinda need to forgive them! So of course I hugged her and told her it was alright. The next day I went back to the store and there on the table (on sale I might add) was a stack of the Forgive words, so I just bought another one!
To most people forgiveness isn’t a happy, easy word, yet once we embrace it, it can be one the sweetest words we know. Singer/actress Reba McEntire once said, “When I learned to forgive, it was like a million pounds were lifted from me.” Now that’s a quick weight-loss plan! Certainly our relationships within our family benefit when we learn to release our guilt-grip on another person. But the real reason we forgive is not for our own benefit or even for the other person’s benefit. The bottom line reason to forgive is our relationship with God, recognizing that He has forgiven us of all our sins – how can we not forgive others?
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are saying it is okay you hurt me, and please do it again. In fact in certain situations we must forgive as well as define clear boundaries, so the offender understands you will not allow it again. Forgiveness is an issue of the heart and mind that says, “I will no longer hold this offense over you. I release this into the hands of my loving and just Heavenly Father.” It is a decision to move forward from the incident and a conscious choice not to bring it up again. Forgiveness does not deny the pain, but it does serve as a catalyst to move you out of the painful hole. It is doing for others what God does for us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Our kids benefit and move forward in their lives as they see the beautiful principle of forgiveness played out in our lives. Many kids must practice forgiveness on a daily basis when it comes to issues with friends or a problem with parents or teachers. Situations arise continually within a family between siblings. Once we understand the purpose and principles of forgiveness, we release a myriad of baggage and potential bitterness. Let’s begin with our own example of forgiving others and then as teachable moments arise we can encourage our children and teens down the joyful pathway of forgiveness.
This book is an excerpt from Defuse, A Moms Survival Guide to More Love Less Anger. Click here to learn more.
January 25, 2016
A trip to the zoo. A forgotten homework assignment. A gift for a homeless man. A trophy from a track meet. A lie to a parent. What do these situations have in common? They are among the numerous teachable moments that typically occur in the life of a family. Lessons about values and character sprout up continually throughout each day, and as we identify them, we can use them to teach our kids moral values. An astute parent recognizes that both pleasant situations and frustrating ones are of value when it comes to passing along a life lesson.
In the Psalms, we read David’s prayer: “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.” We can pray a similar prayer: “Lord, help us recognize the opportunities You give us each day to teach our kids valuable lessons, so they will grow in character, integrity, and wisdom.” Teachable moments can be far more effective than simply sitting down and discussing the importance of kindness or giving to the poor.
How do you spot a teachable moment? First pray for God’s direction. Then begin looking at each encounter and experience as an opportunity for learning. Now don’t go around making a lesson out of everything you see and do. You don’t want your kids to roll their eyes and, with exasperation, saying, “Not another lesson from Mom!” On the other hand you do want to light a fire for learning as you spark their interest and offer wise words or important life lessons. Here are five everyday occasions that offer a lesson waiting to be taught:
- Going Places Together — Whenever we go somewhere together as a family—on vacation or to a local park, the zoo, a restaurant, the movies—there are opportunities for growth. Patience, self-sacrifice, an appreciation for God as our Creator, and contentment are just a few of the lessons to be learned on a family outing.
- Mistakes — We grow and learn from the “oops” in life. Forgetting, misjudging, or miscalculating can be frustrating and painful, but those times do offer lessons to be learned. We learn, first, that no one is perfect—not us nor anyone we are around. We also learn the importance of forgiveness toward others (because we need it ourselves), being careful, taking responsibility, and not rushing through a task. When your kids make a mistake, remind them that everyone makes mistakes. Help them see how they can do things differently next time. Most important, try to allow them to experience the natural consequences of their mistakes so they learn from them. From forgotten homework they learn responsibility. From a bad decision they learn to think more carefully next time. Each of us can grow wiser from the times we stumble and fall and pick ourselves up again.
- People in Need — What do you do when you see someone holding out a hand begging for money or food? Do you pass by shaking your head, or do you use it as a teachable moment? You may want to buy some food for the person and even have a conversation. You can teach your kids loving-kindness when you reach out and care for another human being who is hurting. And it’s not just the homeless who have needs. A friend may have lost a loved one or experienced a personal struggle. Teach your children how to reach out in compassion to a hurting friend by first joining in prayer for that person and then by talking together as a family about how you can best meet the needs. Finally, allow your kids to participate in the help, thereby giving them hands-on experience in caring for others.
- Wins and Losses — When our children don’t perform as well as they’d like and struggle with the pain (whether in sports, piano competition, or grades in school), we can make these teachable moments. First allow your children to grieve and cry over the loss, but eventually help them discover something they can learn from the situation. The lesson may be as basic as we will not win or come out on top in every situation in life. There may be lessons to learn about forgiveness, dealing with anger or jealousy, or creative ways to do things differently next time. Winning can present growth opportunities as well. Lessons about being gracious and thoughtful of the other contestants can be prompted by a win, as well as lessons in pride versus humility and in thanking God for the abilities and talents He has provided.
- Discipline — It may seem like a negative setting for a teachable moment, but we can’t overlook the opportunity to teach and train our children whenever we must discipline them. When our child is caught in a lie or untruth, we have the occasion to teach the importance of honesty. When our kids disobey, we help them learn the responsibility of obedience not only through our punishment but also with our words. When a son or daughter speaks disrespectfully either to you or to another person, it is your chance to teach about respect and kindness. Don’t look at disciplining your child as a pain-in-the-neck. Instead see it as an opportunity to help your child learn important life lessons.
Martin Luther said, “Family life is a school for character.” Consider every occasion in your family’s life together as a great occasion to teach your children values and character. And the more undistracted time you spend hanging out with your kids, the more you can take advantage of these moments. Never underestimate the power of the precious time you spend together and of the teaching opportunities that will emerge.
This is an excerpt from Karol’s book, Bright Ideas for Busy Moms
Values are the foundation of our character and of our confidence. A person who does not know what he stands for or what he should stand for will never enjoy true happiness or success. Lionel Kendrick
January 12, 2016
Need an encouraging word? Here’s a reflection from God’s Word for you as a mom.
Key Scripture: Exodus 4:10 – 12 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I ‘m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.”
“Who makes mouths?” The Lord asked him, “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”
Reflection: Like Moses, it’s so easy for us to focus on what we can’t do, or perhaps don’t want to do. Those negatives can grow into large mountains of cares, concern and confinement. We build our own prison with the bars of “I can’t.” I can’t cope with the kids, I can’t teach them well, I can’t get it all done, and the list goes on and on.
The question is, what has God called you to do? He will help you. You’ve heard it said, “Where God guides, He provides.” Moses needed to heed those words, trusting in God’s strengths instead of focusing on his own weaknesses. We need to hear God’s voice saying to us, “You may not be able to do it on your own, but I made you. I know what you need and I can help you.” Whenever you are tempted to think, “I just can’t do it,” remember that as God leads you, He will give you what you need. He made you, and He is able to equip you for the job.
Prayer: Oh Glorious Lord, you have called me to be a mother. You have given me a monumental and magnificent job, but I can’t do it alone. I don’t have what it takes, but I do know that you made me and you can equip me for the job. Help me to replace my “I can’ts” with “but God can.” I want to follow you and only do what you are calling me to do in your strength. Thank you for creating me and caring for me. May my life glorify you. In Jesus name, Amen.
This week I will choose to focus on what God can do, instead of what I can’t do.
This week I will choose to seek God’s leadership and guidance.
This week I will choose to ask Him for help in all the tasks that I do.
This week I will choose to: _________________________________
This is an excerpt from The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional and Journal. Click here to order your autographed copy.
December 28, 2015
As we get ready to embark on a new year, I want to share a short word of encouragement with you from my Positive Mom Devotional. I hope it will bless and strengthen you in your important and life-giving role as a mom. Keep up the great work!
“So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. God blessed them and told them, ‘Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.’ And God said, ‘Look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. I have given all the grasses and other green plants to the animals and birds for their food.’ And so it was. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way.”Genesis 1:27, – 31
Mom’s Reflection: Amazing! “God created people in his own image,” and His creation was “excellent in every way.” The power of these truths can have a tremendous impact in our lives and in the lives of our children. He is our creator and He chose to make us in His Image. Created in His image doesn’t mean we are exactly like him (which is quite obvious), but it means we are a reflection of his character. We can reason. We can show love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. We have a soul, which sets us apart from the rest of creation.
When we are tempted to think, “I just don’t have what it takes to be a good mom,” or “God must have made a mistake when He made me,” we can rest in the assurance that God has created us and did so in an excellent way. Our worth is based on the fact that we are made in God’s image. Knowing that we bear God’s image gives us a positive view of ourselves and of others. Let us not criticize what God has made, but rather rejoice in his creation knowing that He makes no mistakes.
Prayer: Glorious Creator, marvelous Father, thank you for the way you created each and every one of us. Thank you for caring so much about mankind that you formed us in your image. I rejoice in your excellent creation. Help my kids to begin the grasp the fact that you created them, and they are a reflection of your image. May they be assured that they are created in an excellent way for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.
“Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, ‘I know you.’” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
This week I will choose to rejoice in the fact that I am created in His image.
This week I will choose to encourage my children to know that they are made by God in an excellent way.
This week I will choose to enjoy every person in my path as a unique creation of God.
This week I will choose to: _____________________________________________
Further Reading: Genesis 1 – 3