Monday, February 28, 2011

Crave God, Not Food - week 7

What's the difference between the person who successfully loses weight and keeps it off and the rest of us?

Is it strategy? I don't think so. I've seen people succeed on all sorts of plans, from Weight Watchers to South Beach, from Curves to P90X. There are "how to" books, videos, and programs to be found around every corner. We are not lacking for information on how to lose weight and get healthy.

For those of us who struggle and whose weight sometimes comes off but often returns, the missing ingredient seems to be the "want to." We lack the motivation to do what needs to be done, or the commitment to keep doing what needs to be done over and over. We fabricate excuses so that we can blame external factors for our struggle (I can't find time to exercise with all these small children...Eating healthy costs too much...My body just prefers to be this weight...) instead of looking for the internal issues that are holding us back.

I've identified a few of the things that keep dragging me back to my old habits (of eating bad foods and living a sedentary life):

I tend to think "all or nothing," so when I have a small slip-up or a weak moment it's easy to convince myself that I am incapable of getting it just right. If you can't do something well, don't do it at all. Sound familiar?

I watch others who are succeeding, or who have never experienced this struggle, and I hold up my measuring stick. Mine is always shorter. Beautiful friends who've had numerous babies still looking as amazing as they did before the first pregnancy... Contestants on The Biggest Loser who rock out dropping ten plus pounds in a week... And then there's me. And I feel about two inches tall. And I think, "Why bother?"

These two internal issues reveal the third...

Wrong Motivations
Am I losing weight to be skinny, to see a certain number on the scale, to wear a particular size of jeans? Do I believe that, by losing weight, I will somehow "measure up" in a new way and feel more beautiful? Or more worthy? What, really, is the goal that drives me?

So I need to remind myself of some truths. Maybe you need a reminder today, too.

The number on the scale does not define me. That number is simply an external indicator of an internal problem.

While looking great and wearing those size eights hidden away in the back of my closet would be fantastic, my appearance is nothing more than a side-benefit (the icing on the cake, if you will). The real benefit is how I will feel, not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

The goal is not measurable in pounds, inches, or sizes. Rather, my daily measure of success needs to be obedience. Moment by moment, decision by decision, asking God what He desires for me and then doing it.

For me, carrying this extra weight is symbolic of the burden I am hauling around that weighs me down from serving God and my family fully, completely, wholeheartedly, and with supernatural energy.

It's not about me.

I hope you needed a pep talk this morning, in whatever area your struggle lies. What is your struggle today? Did any of those truths resonate with you, too?

* This post is part of my Crave God, Not Food series, where I'm holding myself accountable to you and to Him on my quest for better health. Much of what I'm learning is based on Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave: satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Making it Routine

Each time we've added another member to our family (including canine members), I've felt the pressure to become just a little more organized. It's hard to get seven people ready in the morning, so one of the first things I established was our morning routine. This routine actually begins the night before.

Evening (right after supper):

- pull out clothes for the next day and set them on the ledge in front of the fireplace (the little ones get dressed in the living room under my supervision, bigger ones retrieve the clothes in the AM and take them somewhere with more privacy)

- pull out pyjamas for bedtime

- pack lunches for school the next day (everyone does their own, and we help with anything that needs cooking/assembling; even three-year-olds can choose snacks for at playschool)

- homework and/or home reading

Evening (half hour before bedtime):

- change to pyjamas

- put clothes in dirty laundry hamper

- brush & floss teeth (I will confess that this has fallen by the wayside. I hope to revive this important aspect of our routine during spring break.)

- climb into bed and quietly look at books (even the little man can turn the pages and look at pictures for a few minutes)

- mom and dad run around saying prayers with each kid and tucking them in


- mom's quiet time until 6:30am, which means any little children who are up earlier than that must sit quietly looking at books (no talking is allowed or they are sent back to bed); I have actually found that this is my #1 influence on the tone of our morning...if I am not up before the kids, spending time with my Lord, I lean toward the irritable and impatient

- breakfast

- get dressed

- brush teeth and hair

- pack backpacks and have them ready at the door

- get bundled up to wait for the bus (The bus is a huge part of my morning routine. Having the kids on the bus means that I don't need to worry about getting myself ready for the day until they're out the door. Worth every penny.)

This routine has become such a part of our lives that I seldom need to tell the children what comes next. For the past couple years, I usually just tell them to "do their jobs" and periodically ask them, "what's next?"

Lately, though, I've decided that even those few words are too many. So the kiddos have been informed that they will no longer get reminders along the way - they are to get up and get ready. Period. I tell them when it's breakfast time and I tell them when they need to put on their coats and boots/shoes. If they have to head to school with messy hair, stinky breath, and in their pjs...that's their problem. If, for some reason, they end up missing the bus, they owe me minute-for-minute slave labor after school (I count every minute from when they should have been out the door to when I get back home from driving them).

It's hard for a perfectionist mom to let them experience their own consequences like this, but it's also just a little bit fun. ;-)

Do you have any tips and techniques to keep the sanity in your home during busy times of day? A morning routine? Bedtimes? Dinner?

* This is an edited post from the archives.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Minutes Longer

Wednesday is our women's Bible study morning. We all love Wednesday mornings for different reasons: two hours of childcare, coffee, snacks, girlfriend time, and of course, learning from God's Word together.

Yesterday, a guest speaker shared about the ministry she launched in women's prisons. The discussion in our group centred around the question, What can we do to help free people from their prisons? and in particular, How does this look for mothers with many small children?

Here are a few ideas we shared:

* Take two minutes longer in conversation with someone. Move just a tiny bit beyond typical small talk so that the person you're talking with gets the sense that you really do want to know how they are. This doesn't count only for friends, but strangers - the grocery clerk checking through your groceries, the person in line with you at Tim Horton's or Starbucks, the unusual man who stops to chat for no apparent reason...

* Send a card. In the mail. It's a simple as that - think of someone, write a card, pop it in the mail. I mean, don't you get just a little bit happy when you receive mail that's not a bill?

* Deliver a meal. Some people do this for new moms or when there's a family death, but meals can be offered for all sorts of occasions (or for no reason at all). Moving, sick kids, hubby away for a long time - these are all great excuses to drop off dinner for someone.

Don't cook? Yeah, me neither. But $10 for a frozen lasagna and a bag of caesar salad isn't too hard to come by.

* Invite someone over for coffee and a visit. The fact is, being a mom can sometimes be a lonely gig. Nothing lifts the spirits as well as simply getting out of the house! So invite that other mom you've met at church or the kids' school, the mom down the street, whoever. (You can also invite non-moms, of course! But if you've got preschoolers, make sure you warn her in advance. *wink*)

* Make a phone call or send an email to someone when you think of them. Say, "I was just thinking of you..."

There are a million things we can do as "ministry" that don't require us to take time off work, find childcare, teach Bible studies, or visit prisons. It seems that we've run out of excuses. Our group challenged each other, and I'd like to extend that challenge to you...

This week, reach out to someone in friendship and encouragement. You can use one of the ideas we came up with as a group, or something completely different. And then, I hope you'll come back to share what you did. That way we can spur one another on as we minister from where we're at.

I'll share what I did in the comments...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just for Today

I arose this morning and asked the Lord to give me the strength I needed for today.

Today, I want to make good, healthy choices that will strengthen my body to do His work. Today, I want to be a proactive parent who trains up her children well. Today, I want to accomplish one task related to my book.

Instead of thinking long-term, lifetime goals - which can often feel overwhelming and discouraging - I am learning to operate one day at a time. Because looking ahead to the place where my ultimate goals are met often leads me to believe they're impossible (or at the very least, too far away to be attainable). But I can do most anything for just one day. Correction - with God's help, I can do anything He asks me to do for today.

Do you have a goal that's felt so far away it seems to be taunting you?

Do a heart check. Is this goal from God?

Try thinking short-term. What can you do, just for today, that will help you reach that goal?

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
~ Proverbs 16:3

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Big, Fat, Catch-All

I have heard the same question from several different people recently. It's come from those I "know," those I cyber-know, and even those I've yet to get to know. This question is an indication that I haven't been keeping in touch as well as I like to. The answer(s) to the question may help explain why.

Here are a few variations of the question:
- What have you been up to lately?
- How are you doing?
- What's new?

#1 - Always the book. But not actually the book. Does that make any sense?

Huge in the world of publishing is this thing called "platform." I've yet to fully comprehend the concept, but I do know that it means I need to invest time and heart into building up my readership (long in advance of any book publishing deals). So I've been gleaning from many a wise guru on the art of using social media to, well, engage socially. I have become a student of the experts and little by little am trying out those new things I'm learning about.

Am I the only one who sees the irony in this situation? I am busy learning to use social media, therefore I have completely stunk at engaging. Clearly, a lot to learn...

Other fun (but time-consuming) stuff related to building my platform involves writing and submitting articles for publication, getting my name out there as a speaker, and numerous brainstorming/prayer sessions with my marketing director (that would be Pat).

#2 - Women's ministry.

You knew I'd never be able to just not be involved with my local church's WM! I have joined the leadership team and am truly loving it. I wondered if I could do it - be a part of a team and not be the leader. I've discovered that I can! It helps that the leaders are so team-oriented and really encourage us all to use our gifts and talents.

#3 - The Logos Society.

Logos is Greek for "the Word." (see John 1) We have an amazing, unbelievable, fantastic program in our community where a Christian education is offered within the public school system (with no fees)! Given the fact that I expect to have children enjoying the benefits of this program for more years than I can count, I figured I ought to get involved. Somehow, God moved me from being involved to being involved... I have taken the position of President for the society. (insert wobbly grin and churning tummy here)

#4 - BLAST.

I am seriously behind in my course. Behind on the recommended readings AND the teaching videos. My only excuse is... I am a procrastinator. So as we approach our last month of equipping, I am scrambling to catch up on those videos. I'll have to tackle the remaining books throughout 2011.

#5 - New parenting strategies.

I'm sure I don't need to elaborate on the emotional energy it takes to actually be consistent in discipline. (Okay, I totally just blew the new plan out the window. Darn! When a certain family member is too slow in the morning and misses the bus, the plan is that this person owes me slave labor time equal to the number of minutes it takes me to drive to the school and back home. Plus, of course, and additional minutes of tardiness. I talked, reminded, pushed, and rushed said child along this morning. Bad, bad, bad! Back to the plan after school.)

#6 - Weight loss.

Tracking my food intake and exercise takes quite a bit more time than I expected! I didn't track last week. Nor did I really try. Rather than beating myself up with the disappointing numbers on the scale, I've decided to skip the weigh-in. Today is a new day and a new week (yesterday was a holiday for us Albertans - Family Day) and I will simply get back to doing the right thing today. We'll touch base on Monday.

Add that stuff to the regular homemaking duties, and the result is a crummy friend who doesn't keep in touch well. But today is a good day for a fresh start. Oh yes indeed! So expect to hear from me. And if you don't, call me on it.  Because quite frankly, none of it matters if I'm doing it without you - my friends in the flesh, my friends on the www, and the friends I still hope to meet.

So tell me... What have you been up to lately? (Seriously, I want to know!)

Friday, February 18, 2011

What to do When you Mess up

I had a fantastic morning yesterday, gathering together with the women of Home by Choice to talk about mommy anger. If you're here visiting from HBC, please, please, please leave a comment or send an email so I know you stopped by! All the rest of you... please, please, please leave a comment or send an email! *grin*

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photo from
Okay, let's get on with the good stuff! :)

In my session, Mommy, why are you Angry? I shared five things God has taught me in our journey to break free from my "addiction" to venting my anger and frustration on my kids. (I sure hope that you've had a chance to review the handout and are thinking about your first steps. Are you going to start exploring your childrens' love languages? Do a spiritual gifts inventory or explore Now, Discover Your Strengths for yourself? Have you started writing out those verses, phrases, and affirmations and sticking them all over your world?)

But there is an important sixth point that I still need to talk about - what should I do when I mess up?

Heaven knows that I have messed up more times than I can count on this journey! I don't know about you, but I tend to be an "all or nothing" girl. When I am trying to lose weight (when am not?!), for example, I jump in with both feet - I count points, I exercise, and I am diligent. But then someone has a birthday and messes with my system. You see, I am powerless to resist a good, fat slice of cake. And once I let that one piece pass my lips, I begin to feel defeated. I lost the battle, so I may as well quit trying. And I fall face-first, mouth wide open off the wagon. This all or nothing mindset carries to most areas of my life, including yelling. I resolve to never yell again, and when I slip up and let a frustrated holler go I feel weak and discouraged, so I just give up. Then at least I can say "I'm just a yeller" - as opposed to being a mom who is trying to change, but keeps on failing.

Is anyone relating to this?!

Here are three quick tips on dealing with the inevitable mess ups:

1. Celebrate every little success.

We can't experience success if we look at life through the all or nothing lens. If our goal is perfection, we will constantly fall short. So stop resolving to be perfect! Start resolving to do better next time. Take it one frustrating experience at a time. And if next time you want to lose your cool but instead give yourself a time out - you have succeeded! Write it down! Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back! And don't forget to praise the Lord!

2. Always ask forgiveness.

There will be next times when the yelling still sneaks out. The one thing we can never afford to do is ignore those mistakes. When we ignore sin and pretend it isn't there, it grows. We need to allow God to bring our sin into His light, so He can remove it. When we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us - every single time (yes, even if it's the 10,000th time). Remember, too, that God isn't the only One we need to seek forgiveness from - so many angry words can be instantly healed by the simple act of telling our children that we're sorry.

(See 1 John 1:9. Use a concordance or biblegateway to look up some verses containing the words "repent," "forgive," and "confess.")

3. Pray about your anger every day.

Event today, when I am (finally) less "angry mommy" and more "mommy who sometimes messes up and gets angry," I still ask God to help me with my anger every. single. day. I plan to continue to do so until the day I die. You see, when something begins to gain victory over us, we will (in most cases) always be particularly susceptible to that struggle. For example, I quit smoking nearly eight years ago. Obviously, I am no longer addicted. Yet put me in a certain situation, especially with other smokers, and my foolish mind begins to entertain thoughts of having "just one drag." The enemy knows our areas of weakness, and he is relentless in his pursuit of our failure! The best guard we have against his tricks and temptations is daily prayer for protection and strength.

Basically, it all comes down to changing our thinking. (Sound familiar?) To continue the whole diet analogy, we have to stop thinking like we're on a diet, and begin living like we're making a lifestyle change. It's not all or nothing, but one step at a time toward the goal. And while our daily weigh-ins may not all show the results we're looking for, if we begin to track progress over time (remember #1 - write down those successes) we will see positive change!

One last thing I want to say to you. When you mess up, you are not a bad mom. Wait, I'm not sure you're really hearing that. You are not a bad mom! When you mess up, you are a good mom who messed up. So say, "Oops," and keep moving forward. Because you are a good mom! You are exactly the mom God chose for your children. Say it with me, I am a good mom!

There are lots of other resources on my blog relating to anger, to figuring out your calling, and for spiritual growth and encouragement. (There are also lots of mindless tidbits about me and my life.) Please stay a while and surf around. I just love visitors! :) Here are the links to a couple number of posts I think you'll enjoy:

The Dot System - a seriously brilliant organizing tip for moms with multiple kids

How to be Superwoman (or not), parts one and two - how to "do it all"

Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks - a few tips in anger management, plus a familiar story

Children Aren't all that Different - sometimes the most helpful parenting tips can be found in dog training books

When God Messes up Your Plans - just one example of what my faith means to me and how what I believe affects how I live

This will make you feel Better about Yourself - a pathetic tale of my day starring as "worst mother in the world"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mad Housewife, Indeed!

The other day I sent Pat out to pick me up a bottle of my favorite wine - white zinfandel. I didn't specify a brand. Here's what he came home with...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Without Question

image courtesy of

I've been questioning God lately.

I'm not being completely honest here... I almost always question Him.

It's not that I don't trust God. Rather, I don't trust myself. I have doubts and second-guess what I think I've heard.

Here's the short version of my most recent example of questioning...

1. God tells us to move. We (Pat and I) both clearly sense that one of the reasons for the move is so that I can focus on building my writing and speaking ministry.
2. I do some things to build the ministry.
3. It seems to be growing more slowly than I had hoped or anticipated.
4. I wonder, "Did I hear right? Is this really what I'm supposed to be doing? Maybe there's something else I should be doing in the meantime."
5. I investigate a variety of career options. I apply for jobs. (Not that I ever intend to actually be a working mom, because I'm quite certain that my work in life will be a combination of motherhood and ministry. I'm just thinking of working in the meantime, while I wait for the ministry dream to become a reality.)
6. Doors close. No job for me.
7. I am left wondering where I went wrong and asking God questions.
8. As is His style with me, I sense God's reply holds a mixture of patience, chagrin, and sarcasm. "I never did tell you to apply for jobs, did I? So what exactly are you unclear about?"
9. I still wonder and worry.
10. God provides confirmation of His calling through two emails from magazine publishers.

I have an awareness that I am supposed to press on, yet a desire for something to happen now. Because God's plan doesn't seem to be fitting the same timeline as my plan, I question.

I know an amazing woman, Donna Jordan, who teaches with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) on hearing the voice of God (aka listening prayer). She asks God questions all the time, but she doesn't question Him. Once she has her answer, she trusts.

I was thinking how I'd like to be more like Donna. To be the kind of woman who knows that I know that I have been given clear direction from my Father, trusting Him for as long as it takes...without question.

The difference between Donna and I (besides the fact that she's a seasoned woman who's spent most of her adult life as a missionary and I'm a younger mom living in the comforts of a big house in the city) - she talks to God and listens to Him every. single. day. She is so familiar with His voice that there is little room for doubt.

If I want to be a woman who does not question my Daddy's instructions, I need to be absolutely and utterly familiar with the sound of His voice.

I recently heard Brad Jersak speak on listening to God, and he shared about a challenge that his wife took on. She added a few minutes to her daily quiet time to ask God one question and journal His answer. Every day. For forty days. It changed her relationship with her Abba forever.

I have decided to take up her challenge for this year's season of Lent - the 40 days where we prepare our hearts to truly celebrate Christ's sacrifice, His death and resurrection. According to my friend, Google, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 9th this year) and ends on the Saturday of Easter weekend (April 23rd). If you're into math (fellow geeks unite!), you'll count 46 days. Also according to Google, the Sundays in Lent are not included in the 40-day count, as each Sabbath is considered a "mini-Easter" celebration.

During that time, I'd like to share some of my experiences with you. I'd love for some friends to join me and blog about their times of listening to God, too. I'll put up a linky and everything. On Thursdays, from March 10 - April 21, we can fellowship together over coffee and under our Father's love. Sometime between now and then, I'll come up with a catchy name and a button for our little series. (Now accepting applications for "catchy name developers" and "pro-bono blog button designers." *wink*)

Anyone else need a fresh word from God?

Would you care to join me on this Lenten journey of asking, listening, and writing it down?

It's important to mention one other person who has inspired my desire to seek out God's voice more intentionally, because she teaches me more about Him every time she writes... Sandy, thank you for always bringing us back to centre - back to God - at God Speaks Today. Your series 30 Days of Hearing God was a major inspiration for this unnamed series; your series God Speaks through the Storm is what brought me to your blog; and your current series, Freedom from Perfection is getting on my nerves (in a good way)! If we lived in the same zip code/ postal code, I can guarantee that you'd find me lurking on your porch angling for a coffee and a visit chalk full of wisdom and inspiration far more often than you'd like!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quote for Today

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

~ Colossians 2:20-3:3

Rules do not equal righteousness.

Performance does not equal approval.

Love is unconditional.

* The above quote was sent to my hubby via text message from a friend. I've no idea if the friend is the source or if he was citing someone else.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crave God, Not Food - week 6

Report Card time...

Since last week:
- weight - down 1 lb
- body fat - same
- waist - down 0.75"

Since I began (January 10th):
- weight - down 5.4 lbs
- body fat - down 2%
- waist - down 2"

I have mixed feelings...
Good - progress in the right direction
Bad - slower progress than I'd hoped for
Fired up - to exercise more and harder to speed up the progress
Deflated - realizing that this is unrealistic
Good - that I feel better, healthier, prettier, stronger
Bad - that I haven't shrunk enough to expand my wardrobe options (two pairs of jeans that I am just a couple inches away from wearing)
Excited - that I am only 4.4 lbs away from breaking down below a nasty weight barrier that's had me stuck for 3 years
Discouraged - the barrier would appear to be about 4 weeks away

So, what's a girl to do with such an emotional roller coaster?

I continually remind myself that my emotions are not trustworthy. Nine times out of ten, following my emotions will lead me astray. Instead, I must remember to stick with the plan, make good choices, and press on. Sometimes that's hard to do. So then I remind myself that this plan isn't just for me; I am doing this for God. Not that God needs me to be skinnier, but that He is able to use me more if I am stronger, healthier, and have more energy. The better my health, the greater my ability to serve Him - at home, at church, and out in the community.

While I can't deny how wonderful it will be to feel fit, healthy, and slim, my ultimate goal is (and needs to remain) to honour God.

Never offer any part of your body to sin’s power. No part of your body should ever be used to do any ungodly thing. Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have come back from death and are now alive. Offer all the parts of your body to God. Use them to do everything that God approves of.
~ Romans 6:13 (GW)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Technical Information

If you subscribe to the blog via email (there are a few of you, bless your hearts!), I need to ask you a huge favour... Will you please stop in to the home page of Titus 2:3-5 and re-subscribe?

It's all kinda technical jargon to me, but basically the feed you subscribed to was an old one. You may have been receiving emails, but that's because they were being forwarded to the new feed. Apparently, that's going to end soon and suddenly you will just stop receiving post by email.

Sorry 'bout that! But I do hope that you enjoy the ease of having post sent to your inbox enough that you'll continue your email subscription.

My humble thanks for bearing with this technical dummy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Just a Yeller

My kids are home from school while their teachers send a couple days on professional development. I come into these extra long weekends and holiday weeks with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. The thought of tossing routine to the wind brings a smile to my face. I mean, I love routine, but every now and then  it's nice to just "hang" without a list of tasks to attend to before bedtime. The potential result of breaking routine with five kids, though, is a day (or four) filled with bickering and boredom.

On this four-day weekend, I have a plan to keep the latter at bay. The plan requires a mom who actually participates in activities with the kids, who enacts swift discipline when things even look like they'll head sideways, and who is not hiding out in the office "working" all day. ("Working" is a general term I use for pretty much any time I'm on the computer, lol.)

That said, I do hope you enjoy this re-post from the archives...

Here's a question I've heard more than once: When and how did you discover that you were angry, and not just doing what Moms have to do - yell at our kids to get them to do anything?

Can I be to-the-gut point-blank honest here? For me as much as for you? Thanks...

The fact of the matter is, we moms do NOT have to yell at our kids to get them to listen to us. While certain circumstances will require a raised voice (safety concerns, a massive brawl of 14 children that needs to be stopped, a generally loud situation), if it seems as though every circumstance is one of those, we need to take that as our first clue that something is amiss. A raised voice should be the exception, not the rule. If we are yelling regularly, we have a problem.

If you were a fly on my wall, you would likely listen in on the odd conversation between Pat and I where one of us is asking, "Why do we have to yell at the kids to get them to listen and obey?" It's one that we revisit more regularly than I'd like. Really, though, we both know the answer... If we need to yell at our kids to make them listen and obey, it is because we have taught them that they don't have to listen or obey until/unless we are yelling.

I assure you, I am the last person who will ever pass judgement on another mother! I know how hopeless it feels, how impossible it looks. I am the queen of yelling and swearing, and I often catch myself thinking, "I am never going to be able to NOT yell!" So as you read my gut-honest words, do not feel condemned. Everyone has their issues...anger happens to be ours.

If you think you may have anger issues but are not totally sure, here are seven questions you can ask yourself:

1. Have I ever told myself or someone else, "I'm a yeller. That's just who I am."?

2. Have I ever had the urge to hurl an object across the room in frustration?

3. Whether or not I speak them, do I think curse words in my head when I'm frustrated?

4. If my child(ren) does thinks like slamming doors and shouting, "I hate you!" am I tempted to respond with those same words and reactions?

5. Do I frequently find myself feeling annoyed with my children's constant interruptions and requests?

6. Do I sometimes react in ways that are disproportionate to the situation? (For example, feeling truly angry about a spilled cup of juice.)

7. Am I a different mother behind closed doors than I am out in public?

There's no magic formula, no points system, but if you found yourself answering "yes" to a few of those questions, it's probably time to get alone with God and ask Him if you have a problem with mommy anger.

And you know that hopeless, impossible thing? For the record, that's a lie. It's a big, fat, ugly lie that Satan wants us to believe so that we don't even try to overcome this struggle. Victory is possible. I believe it with everything in me. If I didn't, I wouldn't be out here on the World Wide Web (and hopefully, eventually in book format) publishing all my shortcomings for the world to see. The only way it's hopeless and impossible is if we try to do it on our own.

For nothing is impossible with God.
~ Luke 1:37 (NLT)

Related posts:

Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks

How to Help an Angry Mom

What to do When You Mess up

Why I'm Writing About my Anger

And if you happen to be a publisher, editor, agent, or friend of someone who is (*wink), check out the book proposal...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Someone Lied to me

I have spent the past 13 years (maybe more), believing the greatest lie. I don't know who first told me this lie, but it has been propagated throughout my education, through society, by friends, and more. And I bought into it. Big time.

Someone convinced me that children are basically good. That they want to be good. That they desire to please their parents and teachers. Thus, our job as parents is to "bring out the best in them." According to popular culture, the ideal means for eliciting the goodness of our children is "positive reinforcement." Give them a goal, track incremental successes, and once the goal is attained they earn a prize. While this method works well for toilet training (which is something children actually desire to master), when applied to behavioral difficulties it will fail.

If you have relatively well-behaved children, you are likely gearing  up to post a comment on how well positive reinforcement works in your home. Let me tell you just how blessed you are. Those of us with children who are commonly referred to as "strong willed" do not necessarily share your success.

I was reminded of a truth recently that, I suspect, will forever change my parenting "strategy." We are all sinners who seek to fulfill the desires of our flesh. Every single one of us. Even children. We are not basically good at all! No, we are all basically evil. Even children. Just as we must die to self in order to be more Christ-like, so must our children. Our job as parents is to help them recognize their own sinfulness, to teach them that giving into that sinful nature brings forth dire consequences, and it is only in being self-controlled and God-controlled that we are truly free, content, and joyful.

Here's a quick example...

Imagine that you are a less-than-dedicated employee. You have a tendency to sleep in and arrive late for work. Which consequence is most likely to bring about lasting behavioral change?

Consequence #1 - Your boss draws up a chart to track your progress. Each day you come to work on time you get a gold star. Once you have 100 gold stars, you get a new car!

Consequence #2 - You are written up for your tardiness and your boss tells you that it is unacceptable to show up late. Next time you come in past 9am your boss tells you to pack up your office, then he/she walks away.

In option #1, you are being rewarded for NOT doing the wrong thing. And it will likely work...for a time. Once you've earned that car, though, how long before you are sleeping in again? (You may even begin thinking, "I wonder what I can earn next time?!") Option #2, on the other hand, would be devastating. You would experience all sorts of discomfort in many areas of your life as the result of losing your job. If/when you found a new job, how likely would you be to make promptness a priority?

Now if we are naturally that inclined toward selfishness and laziness, why would we be so foolish as to assume that our children are any better? After all, they too are descendants of Adam and Eve.

I've yet to process my new knowledge and translate it into practical terms for our family. But I have a feeling things are going to become very uncomfortable around here for five little people... With the ultimate goal, of course, being children that are well-behaved and happy. (After all, how many naughty children have you observed that actually appear to be happy?)

Have you ever heard a nugget of truth that completely changed the way you think about parenting? And did it ultimately have an impact on how you DO parenting?

* The example above, and the truths I am discovering, can be credited to John Rosemond and his book The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that REALLY Works.

* Next on my parental reading list is Kevin Leman's Have a New Kid by Friday.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crave God, Not Food - week 5

This week I learned something. It's nothing ground-breaking or revolutionary, yet this knowledge will revolutionize my weight loss journey. Here is what I've discovered:

When I don't pray about making choices that honor God, I tend to forget that my choices have anything to do with Him.

Riding on the success of last week, I became confident. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, except when self-confidence overtakes God-confidence. Too much self-confidence leads to "I" thinking. I did great this week! Look how well I am managing my eating! I worked out hard. I lost weight. I did it! I, I, I... All that "I" thinking left no room for God - no room for His glory and no room for Him to work.

It's risky to say that my eating (and thus my weight) is tied to my spiritual walk. Because if I fail at getting my eating under control, I am essentially failing God. At least that's how some people may view it. But I know that I cannot fail God. Whether I have success or not, whether I lose weight or not, whether I learn to manage my anger or not, whether I use swear words or not... I cannot fail Him.

The only way I fail is if I give up. If I give up my efforts to know Him better, to understand Him more clearly, to honor Him in more areas of my life - then I will have failed.

So this week, though I did not lose weight (I didn't gain either, and I did lose 1% body fat), I neither failed myself nor God. I had a momentary distraction and lost my purpose. I got to thinking that this was all about me, forgetting that it's truly about Him and me - our relationship.

Today, my prayer is that what I put in my mouth will be beneficial for my body, for my calling, and for those I'm called to serve. I pray that I will remember to come to Him for help when I face temptation. Mostly I pray that I will feel more intimately acquainted with Him and His love as each day passes.

“Everything is permissible” - but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” - but not everything is constructive.~ 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV, 1984)

Is there something you feel called to do - something that is permissible, but not beneficial (whether change your eating habits, give up TV, start a daily quiet time, get organized, etc.) - that you were distracted from this week? It would be an honor to pray for you this week; how can I pray?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oddballs and Wierdos

Have you ever watched the movie Meet the Robinsons? It's an animated tale of an orphan boy, eccentric orphan boy who is considered "unadoptable." He wants to be an inventor, yet numerous failed (and dangerous) inventions leave potential adoptive parents with the certainty that he is not the son for them.

Transported to the future by a boy named Wilbur Robinson, Lewis meets the most unusual family - a family of oddballs and mismatches. The father of the family encourages Lewis to stay true to who he is and trust that there is a family out there just for him.

In true Walt Disney fashion - we discover that there is, and Lewis is adopted and loved for his zany inventor tendencies.

Maybe it's the writer in me, or perhaps it was just a particularly emotional week of the month, but I watched the movie with a lump in my throat and tears brimming my lower eyelids as I related to the spiritual parallels.

We're all a bit odd in our own ways, with a broad range of talents and abilities. Sometimes we try to stifle who we are in hopes that our eccentric side won't stand out too much. Because what it really all boils down to is that we want to fit in. We want to belong.

In spite of our foibles and shortcomings, God adopts us as His own. He doesn't try to change us or stifle our weirdness, but invites us to come exactly as we are. God doesn't look around for a son or daughter who is thinner or smarter, one whose laugh is less like a hyena's, or one who has "realistic" goals and plans. Nope. He just looks at you and me and says, "Hey, come on over. Welcome to the family. Now stand in front of the camera with all the other kids for a family portrait."

Do you sometimes wonder if you need to change who you are before you can come to God? Think you need to be more holy, more attractive, less "out there," less needy, better at prayer, quieter about speaking your mind, just plain different than you are? I've got good news - He doesn't want a watered-down version of you or me. He doesn't ask us to change so that we all fit a particular mold. He loves us all as unique individuals - we're His kids.

If you need to be reminded of that truth, as I often do, take 90 minutes and watch Meet the Robinsons. (It doesn't hurt if you have PMS, either!)

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the LORD Almighty.
~ 2 Corinthians 6:18

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Abbey's Birthday Blessing

A birthday blessing for you, my beautiful first born daughter...

Blessed is Abbey,
for she does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but she delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on His law day and night.
Abbey is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither -
whatever she does prospers.
~ Psalm 1:1-3 (TNIV)

P.S. I'm so excited that your front teeth have finally begun to come in! (A full year and a half after you lost them.)

* I have decided to find a verse of blessing to pray over each of my children this year. On their birthdays, I will give each child his/her verse in a frame to hang above his/her bed. Have you ever done something like this for your kids?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Making Marriage Work

I was going to post about marriage today. The joys, the struggles, and some things I've learned along the way. I'll save that post for another day.

Nothing I have to say today could possibly communicate as well as these posts...

How I See It - Do you sometimes find that you and your kids are caught up in a flurry of work around the house, while your sweet husband enjoys his perch on the couch, remote in hand? Does it make you a wee bit resentful? Yeah, me too. Jen puts it all back into perspective.

Affair proof your mind - Have you ever caught yourself thinking, "I wish my husband was more like hers?" Or perhaps taken it a step further and found yourself attracted to a man that's not your man? Lysa offers some pointers on keeping our hearts and minds turned the right way.