February 12, 2017
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 myriad of 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 mom 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 moms 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, say, “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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 time you spend hanging out with your kids, the more you can take advantage of these moments. Never underestimate the importance of the precious time you spend together and of the teaching opportunities that will emerge.
This is a excerpt from Bright Ideas for Busy Moms.
January 30, 2017
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. I command you – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:7-9
Sometimes I don’t feel so strong and courageous. Worries and fears can creep up and take the place of strength and peace. In our passage for this week we read that Joshua was about to face a fear-filled task. He was chosen by God to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. God didn’t suggest, but rather commanded that Joshua be strong and courageous. God also encouraged him by saying, “I am with you wherever you go.” What a powerful statement! We may not know the road up ahead, but we do know that God will be with us every step of the way.
God also told Joshua to obey all the laws of Moses. Study and meditate on them continually. It takes courage to stand up for what is right and to obey God. We want to teach our kids this type of courage. We are strengthened and enriched as we study and meditate on the truths of God’s word. God’s word not only tells us how to live, but it reminds us that God is with us. The end result is that our children will be blessed with a strong and courageous mother who is not afraid of the future because she knows the Lord is with her and she walks in obedience to Him.
Prayer: Great and Mighty Lord, I praise you that you are with me always. You guard me and protect me like a Good Shepherd. Thank you for your presence. Keep me from being overcome with fear; fill me with peace instead. Help me to be strong and courageous in my role as a mother. Thank you for your Word and the truth that it has to transform my life. In Jesus name, Amen.
“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” Raymond Lindquist
This week I will choose to let go of the familiar and hold onto God’s hand.
This week I will choose to study and meditate on God’s word.
This week I will choose to teach my children about the courage to stand up for what is right.
This week I will choose to:
This is an excerpt from The Power of a Positive Mom Devotional. Click Here for more info.
January 24, 2017
Several years ago we called the pest control man to our house. There was an odd bulge protruding out of our dining room paneling, and we were sure that termites were the culprit. After careful examination, Mr. Termite man came in and declared, “Well Mrs. Ladd, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.” Uh Oh, was all I could think. He continued, “The good news is you don’t have termites. The bad news is I don’t know what is causing the bulge. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
His curiosity got the better of him, and he asked if he could explore and try to discover the source of the problem. After 30 minutes, he came in the house and said, “Mrs. Ladd, you aren’t gonna believe this. The bulge in your paneling is coming from the root from your Crepe Myrtle tree in front of your house. It made its way between the brick and the paneling and grew all the way up the inside of the wall.” We couldn’t believe it! This was one aggressive root system! We eventually had to move the tree, yank out the renegade root and re-panel the area in our dining room.
Have you ever heard of such a thing? I decided to google info about Crepe Myrtles to see what it had to say about the root system. One article said the root system of Crepe Myrtles “may be very hearty.” Now that’s an understatement! Those strong-willed monsters can do a heap of damage. Did you know that the Bible warns us about a type of root system that can do lasting damage as well? It’s not the kind of roots you will find in your garden, but it is the kind you find in your heart. Hebrews 12:15 warns us, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Most of us do not deliberately choose to allow roots of bitterness or blame to grow in our hearts. Who wants to be known as a Bitter Betty? But sometimes, without even recognizing it, the seeds of bitterness are planted in our hearts, and they begin to take root and grow through our words and actions. If left unattended they can affect the relationships in our life, both with our kids and with our spouse. We don’t want to be bitter moms, we want to be better ones – right?
Our brains are continually at work storing new information as well as playing old files. If we choose to continue to pull out the “I am Hurt” file and think about it over and over again, we will eventually fill our lives with bitterness, anger and resentment. We must learn to recognize the “I am Hurt” file, and make a positive decision to stop replaying it in our mind. Instead, we must choose to forgive and move on. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are allowing ourselves to become a doormat. We must set healthy boundaries from unhealthy people. Forgiveness means that we release the right to hold a hurt or issue over another person. Remember, we are releasing our pain into the loving hands of a just and righteous God.
Let’s Loose the Bitterness
- Recognize any bitterness you may be harboring in your heart.
- Trust God’s love, wisdom and redemptive power.
- Forgive the person you are harboring bitterness toward.
- Allow God to heal your heart.
- Stop replaying the tapes of hurt and self-pity. Destroy the “I am hurt” file.
- Refuse to play the blame game.
A portion of this blog is an excerpt from Karol’s Book, Defuse – A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love, Less Anger. Click Here for more info.
January 16, 2017
You’ve had it! You tried ignoring the issue, but the irritation has turned into anger and now you need to deal with it. At this point you have choices. You can head down a non-productive road with your anger or you can do something productive with it. Yelling and screaming falls into the non-productive category. The silent treatment while fuming on the inside is also non-productive and can lead to a later explosion. So let’s head down a productive road and explore seven possible ways to deal with anger in a positive way.
- Pour your Angry Energy into Positive Action
If we can turn our energy in new direction and pour our thoughts and efforts into something positive, we will not only feel encouraged and uplifted but our anger will significantly dwindle. What do I mean by doing something positive? Choose a productive, positive activity that will give you some sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, and possibly work toward a solution.
When we turn our eyes toward doing a fresh positive activity, it takes that energy we want to pour into our anger and re-focuses it for a good cause. Doing something positive and productive lifts our spirit, especially if we are lifting others up along the way. We always feel better about ourselves and our situation when we reach down to lend a helping hand or bless someone else.
Recently the news reported a story of a bride-to-be who found out one week before her wedding that her fiancé was being quite unfaithful. The wedding was painfully called off, but all the brides’ family had already reserved and paid for the wedding reception and food. The family decided to take the negative situation and make it into a positive. They chose two charities they wanted to support and invited guests to come to the reception which was now turned into a fund raising banquet. What a beautiful picture of turning the energy of anger and hurt into an uplifting blessing for others. Recognize the hurt, and then replace the anger with positive action.[i]
You may find some of the following positive activities can help you work through your angry energy. Consider gardening, painting, writing, scrap-booking, cooking for family or friends, reaching out to a new neighbor, walking, calling an old friend, playing the piano or guitar, locking yourself in the rest room to read a chapter of a book, playing with the kids, coloring with the kids, reading a book to them, taking the kids to a movie, taking the kids to the zoo, visiting a nursing home or invalid friend, writing a note to lift someone else’s day. Just make sure you are not suppressing your anger by turning toward these activities, rather use them as a way to give you time to regain composure and work toward forgiveness.
- Initiate An Honest and Loving Discussion
Never underestimate the power of an honest discussion. It can help build bridges instead of burning them and mend broken relationships instead of allowing them to grow apart. A good heart to heart can smooth out false assumptions built up in our minds and can be a catalyst for positive change. Yes, I think we can all agree that meaningful talk between two people can help transform some of our ugly anger into a beautiful peace. Generally it is not the discussion that is difficult for us; it is the aspect of being loving and gracious during the discussion that seems to be the challenge.
I hate to admit it but women can be the worst when it comes to initiating an honest and loving discussion. When someone makes us angry (whether it is our spouse, the in-laws or a school teacher) our first reaction is to go tell our friends and acquaintances about our grievances. Now that does a lot of good, doesn’t it? Instead of moving toward a productive solution, we repeat our frustration over and over again and our anger festers and grows. The last thing on our mind is to discuss the issue with the person who has irritated or hurt us. The funny part is the anger is eating us up inside every time we repeat it, while the other person has no idea we are even having a problem with them.
Imagine the positive potential if we simply initiated a calm discussion with the person who has angered us. There would be less gossip and more productivity; less bitterness and more loving-kindness. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”[ii] Paul recognizes that we are going to get angry, but instead of holding onto it and spreading it around, Paul is saying go to your neighbor and speak truthfully with him. Do it soon, don’t let it fester for days on end and become a huge issue. When we let things linger we give the devil a foothold to destroy relationships and reputations.
Paul went on in his letter to tell how to have a good, honest and loving discussion, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”[iii] How do we get rid of the bitterness, rage and anger? We can begin by having a kind, compassionate discussion with the goal of benefiting the hearer.
Is there someone you need to call or meet with today? Why not put down this book right now and contact the person toward whom you feel anger? Ask the Lord to help you stay calm, respectful and loving as you approach the person. Seek God’s help to examine your own heart before you confront another. Also ask the Lord to allow the other person to be open to the discussion, and then leave the results in God’s hands. You are not in charge of his or her response; you are simply responsible for sharing your concern lovingly and honestly. Try to work toward a positive solution, but remember there are times when you must agree to disagree. Most importantly, please stop sharing your grievances about the person with others; it is only destructive.
- Journal your Emotions
Journaling offers the opportunity to get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Your journal is a private place to pour out of your heart. Journaling helps us recognize and release much of the stuff tangled up within our hearts and minds; even rumblings we didn’t realize were there. If you are continually dealing with anger, it is helpful to set aside a short time each day to write in your journal, so that it becomes a habit or routine. Use your journal to write out prayers from your heart or wisdom you have learned throughout the day. Allow your thoughts and feelings to emerge, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling or neatness.
Write out your angry emotions. Try to identify what is making you angry whether it is a reoccurring situation that needs to be changed or someone or something that has hurt you in the past. Explore through your writing if there is something still eating at you from the past. Ask God to help surface the core of your hurt, pain and anger. As you write you may recognize that you need to talk with someone (a mentor or a counselor) about your anger and frustrations from the past in order to work through the past and move on. If you notice you are rehashing the same old stuff over and over again, then you need to begin finding resolution through communication or change. Do not continue to revel in the same angry issue and caudle or nurse your wounds. Recognize the hurt, choose to forgive, make changes and move on.
- Find an Alternative Plan
Sarah’s husband just couldn’t seem to be on time for anything. When they met for lunch, he always arrived 15 minutes late. When she flew back into town from visiting relatives, she was typically the last person at the baggage claim area. There were many times they had to take separate cars to church because he wasn’t ready. He would eventually arrive at each destination; it just wasn’t at the right time. After numerous discussions and feeble attempts to change his ways Sarah finally realized no matter how hard he tried, her husband wasn’t going to miraculously start arriving on time. Sarah had a choice. She could stew and boil over every time he was late, or she could recognize the frustration of the situation, and choose to make it into some sort of positive.
Sarah came up with a good solution. She loved to read, so she kept a good book with her at all times. When she found herself waiting for her husband, Sarah pulled out the book and caught up on some reading. She actually came to a point of hoping her husband would be late so she could finish another chapter. Sarah made a conscious decision to not allow her husband’s habit of being late to take control over her emotions. In her case she recognized this wasn’t an issue worth getting worked up over, so she decided to stop focusing on his problem and see the situation from a new perspective.
When we are angry we get our focus fixed on the irritant. A healthy expression of anger can be to take our eyes off the irritant and place our eyes on creative solutions. Generally speaking there is an alternate way to work out most issues in a productive way. Take little steps in a new direction. If you can’t seem to see any alternatives, then talk to a trusted friend. Ask them to help you brainstorm new and better solutions, then stop your bellyaching and move forward trying out an alternative plan.
- Write a Letter
If there is a person who raises your dander, then write him or her a letter. Hold on now, I didn’t say send the letter, I just said to write it. I strongly suggest you don’t send the first draft of the angry letter you write. Actually the letter is for your benefit more than the recipient’s. Get out a pen and paper and write down exactly what you would like to say to the person with whom you are angry. Let it pour out. Allow the issues which make you irate to flow from your heart and into the pen and onto the paper.
Now go back and highlight what you consider to be the central issue or what is at the core of your anger toward this person. Can you identify one, maybe two things that are the hub of your anger? Now I want to ask you to do something beyond your ability. I want you to pray for the Lord to help you forgive the person with whom you have issue. I know you may not be able to do this in your own strength and power, but God can help you begin to change your heart. Remember that we are all sinners and fellow strugglers in this journey. We are all recipients of God’s mercy and grace. Coming to the place of forgiveness may take time, so be gentle with yourself.
If you still feel a need to express some of the issues in your letter, then I want you to write a new letter. One that is gracious and compassionate and will benefit the person who will receive the letter. Hold the letter for several days just to pray through and think through whether you should send it. You may find the passion of your anger has dissipated and you want to write and even gentler letter or send nothing at all. You may also realize the best way to deliver the letter is in person, so you can read the letter to the person. Often it helps to read the letter aloud, so you can keep the facts straight as well as guard against emotions. You will find the benefit of writing a letter allows you an opportunity to surface underlying bitterness and decide if the issue is worth addressing or forgiving and moving forward.
- Physically Work it Out
You’ve got angry energy. Work it out of your system through a brisk walk or jog around the neighborhood or a hearty aerobics tape at home. Often for me a walk can help clear my thoughts, regain composure and work off the stress I’ve been carrying around in my body. When my kids were young I put them in the stroller and took them with me; other times I would wait until the evening when my husband could watch the kids. There are also many work-out facilities available which offer day care. Explore your options. You may find it helpful to call a friend and create a plan where she can watch the kids for you while you take a walk or jog, and visa versa.
A consistent exercise program can improve our mood and help reduce stress levels. The Better Health channel reports, “Physical exertion burns up stress chemicals, and it also boosts production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, such as endorphins and catecholamines.” [iv] These are some of the “feel good” hormones in your brain. You know yourself best, so choose an exercise routine that works with your schedule and your family responsibilities. Make a plan now; don’t wait until it conveniently works into your schedule or it probably won’t happen. Regular exercise is good preventative medicine to help you keep your anger in check.
- Talk to a Third Party (friend, mentor or counselor)
Sometimes we just need to gush. We need to pour out our hearts with a person who will listen and help us sort through the anger or potential anger brewing in our heart. That person may be a close friend, a relative, a mentor or a Biblically based counselor. Unless you have a very unique and sensitive husband, I would suggest that you may not want to vent to him. The reason I say that is because often a husband is too close to the situation, he is not quite as feelings-oriented and you may grow even more frustrated if he doesn’t seem to understand. It is best to find a woman with whom you can trust to hear you and give you a Godly perspective. Talking to a friend can help us gain as to if our anger is really worth it.
Mentors have been a blessing in my life. I particularly look for women who are mature in Godly wisdom, and with whom I can relate. Right now in my life I have several women who I know I can call to ask for prayer and advice. We don’t necessarily meet on a regular basis, but get together now and then for coffee and spiritual encouragement. Where do you find a mentor? Begin with prayer, asking the Lord to bring someone into your life. Your church or local Bible study may be a good place to find that new and helpful relationship. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a godly woman you respect and ask her if she would pray about beginning a mentoring relationship.
Friends and relatives can also offer wonderful means of support through times when we feel overwhelmed and full of anger. Perhaps a friend who has kids around the same age could be a good source of encouragement. Get the kids together to play while you talk through some of the issues on your heart. Again, sisters and friends can help us gain a fresh perspective on things, and sometimes our anger is softened just through the fact that someone has listened to us. Pent up frustrations can lead to explosions, but simply telling another listening ear can help disarm some of those time bombs. I know in the early years of motherhood it may be difficult to get out of the house or be on the phone to talk with other mothers and friends. Consider joining a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group or Hearts at Home or Early Childhood PTA group to find a connection with other mothers in your area.
There may be a time when you feel overcome with anger to the point you want to seek professional help. I would encourage you to see your doctor or find a Biblically based counselor
[ii] Ephesians 4:25 – 27 NIV
[iii] Ephesians 4:29 – 32 NIV
This is an excerpt from Karol’s book Defuse, A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love, Less Anger. For more insight in dealing with anger and handling life in a positive way, click here to check out several of Karol’s books.
January 9, 2017
As moms it is easy to want to step in and try to solve all of our kids problems or protect them from difficulties. Yet we may be doing more harm than good when we protect our kids from every challenge. Here is a selection from one of my favorite devotionals, Streams in the Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman. It offers a wonderful reminder to us a moms to be patient and allow God to do His work in our children’s lives….
I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all — and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.
I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more
compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one’s eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.
I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father’s love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation.
–Tract, Streams in the Desert
“For I consider our present sufferings not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
This story and many more practical examples for moms can be found in Karol’s book, The Power of a Positive Mom. Click Here to order your autographed copy.