The Best Defense is a Good Offense…

All of life is about growing and changing.  Even as adults.  Maybe especially as adults.  The more experiences we encounter, the more we realize the need for change.  Obviously, we could float along at the status quo, but would we ever truly be happy or see success if we did that?  No, of course not.  As a parent, I feel like I’m constantly pulled between the needs of my children and the wants of my own selfishness.  And there’s no way around that – we are as humans selfish beings.  We have the opportunity to lay aside our selfishness to serve others, but we often don’t chose to… or at least find that process difficult.  Call it my humanity, but giving up what I want for my kids is just crazy.  And yet, it happens.  Day after day.  Because God puts within a parent a heart of service.  Whether we want it or not, we have this amazing desire to do whatever it takes to help our children succeed.  To the point that we often forget who we were before they came along, and lose track of our interests and hobbies for the sake of becoming merely “Becca and Grayson’s Mom.”  As a mom, we give and give and give.  All day long.  Our pitcher constantly gets poured out to water these little beings we are raising.  So what are we doing to refill the pitcher?

I think so often we as moms get so wrapped up in our kids and their needs that we forget about ourselves.  When this happens, our pitcher of water starts to dry up.  And when the pitcher is empty, how can we pour anything else out to help our kids?  We feel tired, dry, depressed, frustrated, and yes, even angry.  Anybody with me on this?  I bet you are.  Because I know that I’m not the only mom who has ever felt the weight of the final straw.  I know I’m not the only mom with regrets.  Those “oh how I wish I hadn’t said that” moments.  And when those moments start turning into frequent events because your pitcher of water is constantly dry and you just don’t have anything else to give to your kids, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless and helpless – and stuck.  Like there is no other way to live but with a dry pitcher and feeling anger and depression pressing in on all sides – like you are some sort of human waffle being burned on all sides and formed into a shape that you don’t want to be.

Ya’ll, I’m here to tell you – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!!  I recently took a class on how to combat mommy anger, and the biggest thing I pulled from it (other than the concept of GRACE, which I’ll mention later) is that we as moms need both offensive AND defensive strategies to help combat our anger.  So I wanted to share some of mine with you to maybe give you some ideas.. and I also wanted to encourage each of you to take the time to go through this seven day course.  It really will change the way you interact with your kids!

Offensive ideas:
-Take the time to tidy that one area that you’ve been putting off for whatever reason… because just walking by that area has been adding to your stress unknowingly.  It’s amazing how just FINALLY tidying up our mudroom has reduced the anger in my life!  I never realized that that out of the way place was causing my anger meter to start higher with the kids.   (You’ll learn all about your anger meter and your personal triggers when you take the course!) But now, when I walk through there, I’m not constantly thinking “oh I’ll get to that someday.”  Because day after day of thinking that builds up to a LOT of stress.  Ya’ll, when I cleaned it out, I found the Easter egg hunt plastic eggs from LAST Easter.  I found a Christmas present that was supposed to be exchanged.  I found shoes that haven’t fit the kids in over a year.  I found last summer’s half empty bottle of sunscreen.  It had been building for a LONG time.  I also found those library books that we (yes, even still) need to return…

-Find a comforting scent for your home.  Whether you are into candles or Scentsy or DoTerra or YoungLiving or any other such thing, it doesn’t matter.  Having a scent in your home that refreshes you is just such an incredible and powerful thing.  It might also help your kids!  You might talk to them about what scents they like and let them have some input.  It could be that you’re already using a scent that puts THEM on edge and you don’t even realize it!

-Plan to have ME TIME every day.  I prefer to have mine first thing in the morning before the kids get up, with my quiet time.  (I love Hello Mornings – you should check it out!)  It’s amazing how committing that time to begin the day with me and God has made me start out refreshed.  Instead of crawling out of bed depressed and dragging about all the chores I have to do, I start my day by greeting the Son and watching the sunrise!  Nothing better.

Do these offensive strategies fix it all?  No.  Because as Alicia says in her course, anger isn’t going away.  And my main triggers are my kids and their behaviors and words.  So that’s where those defensive strategies come in (which really, they can be offensive too… you’ll see why)!!

Defensive ideas:
-Adult coloring is the latest and greatest craze.  And ya’ll, I have fallen into it hook line and sinker.  It is WONDERFUL!  When I am upset with child behavior, I can say “ok – we BOTH need to take a time out.  I’m going to choose to color while I take my time out to calm down.”  Sometimes I allow Becca to sit on her car rug and play ALONE with the cars.  It calms her just like coloring calms me.  (note: coloring is a very active process for her that excites her and also causes stress.  But when she is upset and playing with cars, she either sits or lays on her tummy on the rug, rubs the rug with the palm of one hand, and drives the cars repetitively back and forth on the same spot.  This gives her the sensory input she needs to calm her down incredibly.  Obviously, for many kids, coloring would be calming as well, and playing cars might be too much excitement.  Know your kid!)  Offensively, I love to color in the evenings after a long day to de-stress so that I sleep better, which thus starts me off on a more well-rested day the next day.

-Food is an addiction for many Americans.  It’s why so many of us are obese.  Alcohol is also a very dangerous addiction.  I have found that I used to defensive eat before I started the Best Body Countdown back in January.  (Read about my weight loss journey here.)  Thankfully I’ve never defensively drank.  But, I have discovered that coffee is a very benign addiction that calms me considerably.  On days when I’m just frustrated out of my mind with the kids and my anger is about ready to bubble out of the pot, I make a pot – of coffee.  The world can swirl and spin out of control around me, but that moment of standing at the coffee pot and sipping the first sweet sips of hot relief are freeing.  It’s a moment that I can close my eyes and just escape.

-Another way that I have found to escape and calm myself down is to duck into the pantry and read the daily verse from my morning Bible study again and say a quick prayer.  Like literally taking two minutes (sometimes less) to run away and hide.  Offensively, I figured out that I was regularly ducking out around 4:00 each afternoon, so I set an alarm on my phone that goes off daily at 3:45 to remind me to go ahead and step out and reset my mind before it becomes a defensive need.  I also love using that quick moment away to look up the verse on my YouVersion app and make a photographic reminder of the verse using their easy photo/verse maker.

Obviously, I have discovered these things over time, and they are what works for me.  They might not work for you, or you might need to modify.  I HIGHLY recommend that if you are struggling with anger, or even extreme frustration, that you take the course and come up with your own combative strategies.  (I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments below!!)  You’ll also learn how to approach your emotions, how to voice them, how to offer yourself grace, and so much more.  Don’t think that offensive and defensive strategies are all the pieces to the puzzle… you’ll have to take the course to get the rest of them. 😉  (Yup, I’m an affiliate, so your purchase helps out our family, as well as yours!!!)

Click on any of the text links, or click the photo below to learn more!

This is What Love Feels Like

What Love Feels Likesm

God has this amazing way of teaching me a lesson in about twenty different ways, all while I’m totally unaware… and then suddenly all the loose ends come together in a giant crescendo and my light bulb goes on.  That has happened to me this week.  The giant crescendo.  I’d like to say that this time I saw it coming, but nope.  Once again, He pulled out all the stops for this surprise.

It wasn’t long ago I started realizing that what used to be a mild level of frustration (mainly with the kids, but some also with the house and work) was actually a gurgling pot I’d left on the back burner too long that was about to boil over…or worse yet, scorch.  And we all know that smell when the potatoes have scorched?  Well, yeah, I got to that point.  The potatoes started to scorch, ya’ll.  And I didn’t realize soon enough that the pot was boiling… until I finally realized how much my attitude stunk.  Especially toward my kiddos.

I’ve mentioned in lots of previous posts that it is HARD to be Becca’s mom.  But lately several Bible studies have all been pointing me to God’s perfect love – the kind of love I’m supposed to be showing her.  Something about spending those last days with my Grandma before she passed, and really bragging to her about Becca and her love of the Lord and reading her Bible and how kind her heart is… it’s really sunk in.  She really IS an amazing child with a wonderful heart.  Something about reviewing in my mind the selflessness that my Grandma always displayed, and her servant heart… the kind of attitude I want to be displaying to my family… all these things have been working in my mind.

Last Thursday night, I went to the TobyMac concert.  And he explained the back story behind one of my favorite songs, “Love Feels Like.”  It’s all about the love and service and dedication it takes to care for an ailing parent.  It took me back to my Grandma that last week of her life.  It reminded me of seeing my mom and the love and care she showed to my grandparents when they needed her so desperately in the end.  Of how stretched to the end of her limits she was, and yet she kept on giving – because they needed her.  And it reminded me that love and BEING love to someone isn’t always easy.  In fact, REAL love is pretty dang difficult.  Like send your Son to die on a cross difficult.  (Fittingly all of this realization happens right after Easter, too… definitely not a coincidence – just another sign of His great hand in everything.)

Then, another “loose end” God presented me with recently was the opportunity to pre-view a friend’s 7-day online video course on controlling mommy anger.  I jumped at the opportunity to participate.  Why not?  I had realized I have this anger pot boiling, scorching even – what perfect timing! (Coincidence?  I think not!)  So I dove in.  And by the time I had finished the worksheets, God had finally slapped me with His big crescendo.  All the loose ends came together in one marvelous revelation of His great GRACE.

Alicia makes a fabulous point right off in her 7-day course.  She tells us that anger isn’t going away.  It’s an emotion.  It’s going to happen.  But I discovered through her course that by sitting down and taking time to think about the triggers that really bother me, and starting to be more mindful of WHY those triggers affect me and ways that I can combat them in the future, I can start to control that anger instead of letting it control me!  I have now worked through a LOT of feelings and emotions without ever having to go pay a shrink to make me feel crazy!  (Thank you, Alicia Michelle!!!)  But seriously, ya’ll!  Now that I think about the points she makes, they seem so common sense.  But I was in so deep.  My pot of potatoes had been boiling on that back burner for a LONG time.  The scorching was deep.  The stank in the house was BAD.  But ya’ll.  God’s GRACE.  My pot is stainless steal.  And God has wiped it clean.  No scrubbing required.  The stank is gone.  PEACE is possible.  The pot is reusable.

And here’s the really amazing thing that this course helped me to realize.  Anger isn’t going away.  But ya’ll.  When my potatoes scorch again?  God’s going to be right there to wipe my pot clean again.  I’ve learned so many strategies to help combat the anger, and I’m working with Becca too, on how she can control her anger and verbalize her feelings.  I’m learning to show grace to Becca, too.  Because she’s human just like I am.  She’s going to make the same mistakes over and over and over again.  Doesn’t mean that I love her any less.  Just like Toby’s song says, she could stretch me out like canvas, but I’m never going to fit in the frame.  I refuse to conform and allow her behavior to control mine.

7 days to less angry mom

I have a little poster I made and hung in her bathroom for her that I’m starting to think I need to hang all over the house.  It says “Feelings are Indicators, NOT Dictators.”  It’s so true, ya’ll.  My anger isn’t going away. But I need to deal with it, not let IT deal with me.  I now have both offensive and defensive strategies for dealing with her behavior as well as my other anger triggers, and I’m already starting to see success!

I’m telling you what.  If you have ever felt like your pot is sitting back there about ready to boil over or scorch and you just don’t know what to do about it, Alicia has some really awesome tips and some fabulous encouraging Bible verses to share with you, and I really hope that you will check out this course.  Obviously, I’m an affiliate and I’d love for you to buy the course because it helps me out, too.  But ya’ll.  I want you to do this for YOU, not for me.  It really WILL change the way you look at anger, and the way you look at loving your kids.  Because real love is hard.  Being a mom is HARD.  It stretches us out to the ends of our limits.  But LOVE, real LOVE is such a full feeling even when we are totally empty and beyond our own strength.  Don’t let your anger keep you from feeling that full, satisfying feeling of a heart of love.

love feels like