How to Create a Morning Routine with Elementary Aged Kids

 

how to create a routine

After a decade of doing this mom thing I am looking down the barrel of a new season! My last, my baby is officially in Kindergarten. I sobbed about this impending chapter back in May, but now I welcome it with open arms. Of course there is a fringe of sorrow right around the edges as I see that there is no going back. My feet have left Babyville and Toddler Town. We are all in–and are currently up to our eyeballs–in elementary school. All three will reside in that life for one year. And then I will wade into the waters of middle school with my oldest. It’s true what they say about time. It flies when you are having fun and honestly, I am really enjoying the ages of my kids. I plan to increase that joy with each passing year and don’t waste your breathe trying to convince me otherwise. I am having none of it.

So, with this congruent year of everyone on the same schedule and leaving home at the same time, I am capitalizing on my good fortune. My main goals for creating a morning routine for my elementary kids are:

  1. To equip them with good “morning getting ready” habits.
  2. So Crazy Mom makes fewer pre-bus-stop appearances.

My best advice is do NOT rush to Pinterest. (If you found this post there well, that doesn’t count, and you will see why.) If you have a need for a routine, I think it is less about seeing something that looks cute and trying to copy it. I can say, I did not get this idea from there. I want to invite you to the ultimate Google search engine. Dear reader, I would like to introduce you to Holy Spirit. Yep, if you know me at all you are completely UNsurprised that this is where I went. Let me tell you my story to morning routine victory.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.

I prayed. I asked God to show me how to make our mornings run smoother. I listened. I thought about what has worked before and what has not. Here are my best tips for getting your family in a better routine in the morning. It takes 21 days to create a habit (or so they say) so give grace and keep at it for three weeks and see if a month into school you aren’t feeling a little better about the morning.

  • Evaluate the type of kid you have.

Are they early risers? Do they move like a sloth in the morning? Are they easily distracted and often forget key steps to getting ready? Are they happy or subdued in the morning?

Knowing your child will help to customize some of the decisions you make about when to start or how to get the tasks complete. Mine are typically easy going in the morning but are prone to be distracted easily by electronics. So we do no devices (unless I let the watch TV) after 7:30am. If they want to get up before that and watch TV or play on a tablet, that is up to them. My early riser loves this and gets up easily before 7 almost every morning. The 7:30 rule applies to me too. I am here to help them and model good choices in the morning.

 

  • Determine the time needed to easily get out the door.

Again, going back to the type of kid(s) you have this part is up to you. We budget about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. It has been known to happen in 15 before but that gets crazy and someone usually cries. Now this is just my three being ready to walk out the door. If I too need to be prepared to leave that changes things. We also don’t do showers in the morning so that step is taken care of at night. (Which may also change as they get older).

 

  • Night time prep is so helpful.

Like I mentioned we bathe the night before and for the most part, pick clothes the night before. I remind them which special they have so they can dress accordingly.

 

  • Morning lists have changed our life!

This is something new I am putting into place and I am encouraged by the results so far. I made a list of basic getting ready tasks. These will seem obvious, but I can change the list any time if I feel they are getting the process. When these things become habit, maybe we can add things or lessen the list, but until then, things like “get dressed” are on there. Also, if they complete the list, they can watch TV or play on a device, so it keeps me from having to think up the necessary items for them to be ready to leave. My  youngest is a very beginning reader so the pictures help her to remember what each item says.

Each list is slipped into a dry-erase pocket so the can check off the item each day.
Each list is slipped into a dry-erase pocket so they can check off the item each day.

 

  • Everything has a place.

The hooks in our mudroom are dedicated to a specific kid and they are conditioned to put their bookbag on the hook and their folder on the counter each day when they get home from school. This plays into the morning when they are leaving, we are not rushing around looking for key school items.

 

As a final note, I use an alarm on my phone that is 5 minutes before we need to leave for bus stop. This is a final help that pulls us out of any rabbit-hole distraction that we encountered in the morning. They can brush teeth and slap on some shoes in that amount of time. Lately with the lists and the discipline to wake a child that is still asleep at 7:30. We are rushing less and I am yelling way less. Not every morning is perfect, but they are getting better and the results of my prayer time can be felt in the mornings. Kids really do thrive on routine and although I am not one who enjoys a lot of structure, I am pressing that aside to give my kids good habits. Truth be told, it is teaching me a thing or two as well.

Ultimately, you have to find what works for you and the personality of your kids. Pinterest is great for inspiration, but I would encourage you to spend time praying and journaling the thoughts that come during that time first. You might be surprised what God will reveal to you. For instance, I was confronted with the fact that when I play on my phone after 7:30, kids see and do what I do. The problem with that is I don’t have to be out the door ready for the day at 8:30 they do! I must lead by example and show how to prioritize appropriately. That came to me in my prayer time. God’s wisdom is ours for the taking…we only need to be willing to receive it.

On a slightly related topic, I get up at 6am so that I can have an hour completely to myself. This is what works for me and I LOVE getting my time with God in a quiet house with no one up but me. I will post about that soon. But I would love to hear what works for you and your kids! Comment below What is your best tip for a smooth morning?

 

Re-Entry Week: It’s a Real Thing

sbr reentry week

 

Summer Break 2017 is in full effect at our house. We got out of school the Thursday before Memorial Day. Around here this is both a blessed time and one that will test our parenting patience quickly. By mid-May, we are phoning it in and counting down the days. We have looked at the calendar and planned some fun and frankly, we would like to just get to it already! Then, the day has finally arrived and Summer Break begins…and so does the fighting. Prior to today, your house either had no kids in the middle of the day, or at least a reduced number and now they are ALL HOME–ALL THE TIME!

Obviously, we missed them. They were gone for a big chunk of the day. I LOVE having my kids home for the summer, but I am here to tell you that re-entry is a real thing. These kids have had a routine for 10 months. They may be just as ready as you are for the break, but their whole, little self needs time to acclimate to the new norm. I was extremely fortunate to realize this early on in the game and it has made the first week of Summer Break go a bit smoother (for me at least). I am a rational person raising irrational individuals so I struggle sometimes to understand why they behave the way they do. I am no expert, but think about the way their routines have been wrecked (even if it is for the better). Kids have feelings they do not understand. Even if they are thrilled for summer break, they may also have sadness about the end of their secure routine. They may be thinking of how much they will miss seeing some of their friends and that favorite teacher. There is so much just below the surface,  and we can get so busy readjusting to our new norm that we forget that they are too.

A few things to remember during re-entry week.

  1. It really will get better. They will learn to be around each other more and will start to act better soon.
  2. Each kid will process the end of school differently. I have one who skips off the bus without a care in the world, then I have one who is a bawling mess and tends to need to grieve the end of another school year for a few days. Be sensitive to THEIR feelings about school, not just how you perceive the end of the school year to be.
  3. GIve yourself that grace too. If it is day 2 and you are already hiding in the pantry with a pint of Halo Top ice cream just know you are not alone. As much as we want them to be home…this week is just something we have to get through. The fun will come.

Here are some tips I use to make re-entry week better.

  1. I like to give my kids a few days of grace. I try really hard to have extra patience during this week. They have consequences for the flailing outbursts and whatnot, but I give them a few more chances to calm down during this week.
  2. Individual dates during this first week help me get a pulse for how each kid is doing. For example, I take just one on an errand during the weekend when Dad is home and ask how they are doing. I also ask lots of questions about summer and who they want to try to play with and anything fun around town they would like to do.
  3. I go out more in this first week. I know for myself, I am a better mother in public. We do the library, pool, bike ride, or park for at least an hour or so each day to give them something.
  4. Reach out to your mom friends. They understand what this week is and it feels good to hear “me too”.

Last but not least, you, Mama, are killing it! Mothering is hard and everyone has a loud opinion these days. You just keep loving those kiddos and doing your best and I am sure they will be grateful (someday). Never forget that God gives us provision for the day. Don’t neglect tucking away for just a few minutes and doing a quick devotional and a prayer of dependence on HIS power to help you navigate the relationships between siblings and how they relate to you as well. I know God gave these kids to YOU on purpose. These years go by fast, but not a single obstacle is without provision. Ask. Listen. Trust.

I would love to hear from you! Is re-entry week a thing with your kids? How do you cope? Facebook is my favorite place for community discussion so if you can click here to join in on the conversation.

The End of an Era

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Today I drove the 1.7 miles to the same church that has served as our Preschool and Mom’s Day Out for the last eight years. I did it with music and the usual chatting with the passenger…the one who will no longer be a preschooler as of 1:15 today. She is ripping my heart out and she couldn’t stop it if she tried.

She has been referring to herself as The Graduator all week and I have asked to hear the graduation poem where she wrongly calls herself a graduate (grad-u-eight instead of a grad-u-ettte) three times and I don’t correct her—I just smile. She has grown more in the last two months than she has the last 10. I am so proud of her and yet I want to ball up and cry that these little years are over…

I was talking about it (for the billionth time) this morning and my nine year old got all kinds of put off. He says, “mom, we all did this preschool graduation thing, who cares?” I tried to explain it, but it was futile…even for me. It doesn’t make sense. Why does the last slap your heart like this? I think maybe because you know what happens next. I feel like the end of preschool is the top of the roller coaster. You know it click, click, clicks to the top. It is slow and full of anticipation. The next part is why we got on the ride in the first place, but it is going to go so fast! It is the longer part of the track, but it flies by in comparison to the click, click, click journey to the top of that hill. Then WHOOSH! I have friends with their oldest kid graduating high school this week (which is the big leagues and I will not touch that feeling with a ten-foot pole). I have seen from a secondary place how fast that day arrives. If motherhood has taught me anything it is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to capture all the moments and absorb 100% of the experience. It is as if somebody handed you a lump of sand and asked you to carry it 10 feet without dropping any grains. Not gonna happen. However, we do our best. We savor when we can and we mother on when we can’t.

These years. They are hard and beautiful years. Our best and their beginning—what a combination! I pray that if you are closing the books on any particular chapter in your parenting this May that you spend some time thanking God for the blessing of parenting. Ask him to redeem the ugly, and solidify the best in your heart. He is good at that. Parenting is one of His favorite tools in our holiness adventure. Perfection is not only impossible, but it has never been and will never be a requirement. Be blessed to know He knew exactly what He was doing when He called you to parent your kids.

I’m All About L.I.F.E.

 

ImAllAboutL.I.F.E

I was worshiping one Sunday and just chatting with the Holy Spirit. I was dwelling in the muck of the most current events. After spending some extra time on Saturday journaling and trying to figure out how I felt about all that is going on in the country, I realized my feelings don’t matter so much as what I plan to do about it. So, on Sunday I was asking God how He feels about it. See, it is irrelevant how I feel. I can have feelings about it all, but if I am going to upgrade my perspective, I need to ask HIM. He isn’t swarming in emotions, social media sites that are a buffet of fury and opinions, and conflicted news. He is above all of that. He sees the entire picture. His perspective is the one that we need to achieve. So I quieted myself and as I was listening and delighting in His presence, I heard this acronym. L.I.F.E.

Live

In the

Fullness

Everyday

What exactly does this mean? The fullness. I sat down and pulled out my journal. I had to unpack this. The fullness means full saturation in His presence. If He dwells in me that means I have pretty quick access to all He is prepared to offer me in this life. But it dwelling in us is not enough. We have to tap into the resources we’ve been given. Picture this: you have an amazing Yankee Candle (or Bath and Body Works, or wherever amazing candles come from) in your home. It is the type of smell that brings peace and tranquility to you nearly instantly upon taking a whiff. But instead of burning this candle, you just keep the lid on and store it in a cabinet. You have it, but it is doing zero good sitting in the cabinet. You have to take it out and light it. This is living in the fullness. I take a portion of every morning to open the cabinet and light the wick. It takes action to fully be saturated in the gift given. The difference in my illustration and the actual act of activating the presence is that there is really only one way to “activate” a candle, but there are a myriad of ways to connect to our heavenly gift that is the Holy Spirit. The actions are not the point, the intent and the heart’s desire is what matters. God knows if you are doing a morning devotional simply to check it off the list. He also knows when you are making yourself do it out of a true desire to connect. You can’t trick God. 

Personally, I shake things up to keep myself from getting attached to the habit and somehow thinking that I can earn my way to an encounter by doing x, y, and z. I will spend some mornings reading a book on spiritual growth for a while, then I’ll do a bible study another week. Then maybe I’ll spend my mornings listening to worship music and journaling. I might go through a phase where I am simply making my way through a book of the bible. Side note: I have never read the entire bible front to back. Unless I feel God inviting me into that journey, I never will. I know that seems like a very Christian thing to do, but for what? This isn’t like Girl Scout badge earning. We don’t get to tote our achievements on a little sash in Heaven. (Thank goodness!)

I want to know the Father more and more with each passing day, week, month, and year. I hunger to know Him and I believe He reveals Himself in unique and creative ways (it’s kinda His M.O.). This journey of knowing the Lord will only be boring if you let it. Be adventurous and creative and expect Him to respond to you. Life In the Fullness Everyday!

 

What I’m Reading Wednesday (Feb.1)

mountains meadow

Hey everyone!

This week has flown by and I CAN NOT believe it is February! I have been reading, but not exactly the type of books I want to all the time.

 

I have been reading information on Spinal Ligament Injuries for work, recipe books (I was in a rut), going over homework (did you know that founder means (in regards to ships) to fill with water and sink?) , and game rules (the family’s current favorite everyone-can-play game. Life is full but by no means overwhelming. I am enjoying my last week of a laxed schedule before I step into a new role at work. I am thankful for this month being less hectic than it could have been. We are all adjusting to our new rhythm quite nicely. When I get a little time in the wee hours of the morning I am devouring God is Good by Bill Johnson. I am about halfway through so hopefully I will have a review for you next week.

I am still plugging away at a new audiobook from Hoopla but that is about it on the book side.


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I have been working hard to plan meals and have home-cooked dinner nearly every night. This is not new, but with a busier day comes the need to prepare for the evenings. I have been shopping on Sunday and getting meals planned in advance. I decided to break out an old cookbook I bought several years ago and see if I could get inspired with new recipes. I have tried 2 so far and I am a fan of both! I will keep trying at least 1 recipe a week in order to keep things interesting around here.

 

 

 

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Our new family game has been Gas Out. Yep, its that kind of humor that brings the Ferris family together. The game is simple enough for the 5 year old and funny enough for the 9 year old. Lots of giggling ensues when Guster Gas Bag comes out. It is a cheap game of about $15 and it goes quickly so we can play a few rounds right before bed. This leads me to a brilliant point. The kitchen table has to be cleaned off for us to play…thus, a 5-minute family clean up can take place and the game is their reward. WIN-WIN!

 

Be the Love Monday (Jan. 23)

bethelove

This weekend there was a march of epic proportions. I am sure you saw coverage, experienced it firsthand, or something along those lines. I felt several emotions when thinking about it. I am certain that my opinion (regardless of where I land) will stir debate. So, this is not about my thoughts on the march. I am still not sure what all I think about it. I was journaling my thoughts on Sunday and I felt like God said, “Where you land is not as important as what you plan to do.

I paused my writing to think about that. What truth! What I feel about the events taking place in my country don’t matter nearly as much as the actions I am willing to take. I started praying and listening to God’s heart on my next steps. Here is what came out of that session.


Spread Love


In a tangible way, broadcast love to those you have even a tiny bit of influence over. So this is what I am doing. I am going to put posts about local places and local people being love. I’ll start with the ones I know personally and move out from there.

 

This weekend our pastor spoke about profiting others. He encouraged us to be willing to step out of our own comforts for the opportunity to bless others. He ended the sermon today by ambushing a couple in the church whose husband lost his job a couple of weeks ago. He had them come up front and asked us to give to their need. And we did. We lined up and gave them a hug and words of encouragement and then placed some money in a bucket next to them. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Was that uncomfortable? Sure. Did it stretch a few people? I imagine it did. Will that impact that family? You bet!

I want to hear more stories of people going out of their way to be kind. I want to be a part of a movement that is so focused on doing the next right thing that it doesn’t have time to gather the angry and give them a voice. I want to be too busy loving my neighbor to care about their political bent. I want to wear the kind of glasses that only allow me to see you as a soul trying to connect. I want to go through your economic status, your sexual orientation, your skin color, and your religious affiliation. I want to see the marrow of your being. I will not let emotions distract me from the real purpose of my time on Earth.

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with my God. I seek to know HIM, I desire to be a reflection of HIM to all I meet, and I will ask for actions steps for me personally to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. I have actions to fulfill and I want to be about my Father’s business for me. Will you join me in being more aware of our purpose? It is not a daunting, big thing, it could be coming alongside another woman and giving her encouragement. It could be answering that pull you have had to pray for a friend every day for a week. It could be including someone new to your circle. It could be grabbing an extra $5 worth of food at the grocery and getting it to your local food bank. These are not life-altering examples, but they are waves in the right direction and hundreds of waves are a force to reckoned with.  Join me! Do the next right thing and use the hashtag #bethelove. Let’s do this!

The Never Ending Journey

theneverending

There is no arrival here on Earth. This is something I need to remind myself of often. I work towards goals, I build a life together with my husband and our kids (that is until they branch off and start their own), and I push deeper into the depths of the Father’s love. However, I am never going to reach a finish line in any of these categories–not on this side of Heaven anyway. I will never be Earth-conscience of my end point. You are here until you are not. Sounds simple, but I think we all can lose sight of that. The goals we have may not turn out the way we think, but even if they did, you would need to create new goals anyway. This life is fluid and can change, evolve, or re-direct at any given point. The thing we need to realize is that putting your faith in Jesus and the roots you place in your relationship with God will be the things that last forever. They will also be the things that give you stability when the rest of your world feels uncertain.

I have been married 10 years and I know just enough to know that I don’t know nearly what I thought I did in the beginning. The last 3 and a half years in particular have been eye opening. Not in the “secrets-about-my-spouse” way, but in the “stretching-of-love” way. I found that the marriage I am in is safe and I have freedom to go to the depths of past wounds and get even greater healing than I thought I needed. I’m talking some major, life-changing, identity repair here. The last three or so years have been more than I could ever imagine! One thing I am learning is that when you pursue God and all He has for you, there will be no end. Not now, not ever. The depths of goodness He has for you are endless! The best part about it is you do not have to wait for the pearly gates for this adventure to start. He longs to give you abundant life here and now. This doesn’t mean abundance of stuff, but abundance of lifesource. It is hard to put into words, but I am giving it my best. Your relationship with God can become like oxygen to your existence. You long to look at everything you do through the lens of eternity and your purpose here on Earth. Regardless of whether you think you are doing exactly what you are supposed to do, you seek Him and let Him worry about that.

This year I thought I would be writing more. When the school year started, I thought I would have more time to write since my youngest was in pre-k M-TH until 1. Even with my oldest being homeschooled, I thought I would get more done. I was wrong. This doesn’t mean that I missed the mark on my calling or that I did something wrong, it just means this wasn’t the time to pursue my writing as a career. However, an opportunity opened up in November at my husband’s office (he owns his own Chiropractic practice). This opportunity would be perfect for me…in August 2017 when all of my children will be in school full time. I felt torn. I felt conflicted. I also felt a divine opportunity to practice a desire of my heart: submitting to my husband. This small phrase brings up a myriad of emotions. for many of us women. I will dive into the journey I have been on with this very topic in a future post, but suffice it to say, I was given an opportunity to let my husband make the final decision on whether our son would continue at his homeschool hybrid or go back to public school. After talking and praying together the decision was made to have me take the new role at his office and put our son back in public school in January.

Truth be told, I was a mess of emotion over this whole thing and although I supported my husband’s decision, I was having doubts and waffle-y feelings about the upcoming change. The morning after we had officially made the decision, I was praying in the car–just me. My prayer went a little something like this:

Jesus, I trust you. I know that we are doing our best to listen and seek you. We made the decision last night, and although I feel good about it and I feel like it is the best move, but my emotions are wishy-washy today and I don’t want to feel this way for the next 6 weeks (when the new semester would start). Can you give me greater peace about this process? I need something to help me align my whole self (heart, mind and spirit) with this decision.

I kid you not I suddenly had a thought in my mind–the kind you know is from Holy Spirit and not your own.

You have been wanting your husband to lead. Now is the time to get behind him and support his decision.

BAM! (Hear that with an Emeril Lagasse emphasis).

BAM! Just like that a wave of peace washed over my body. I felt my whole self align with the decision. It was as if the gnats of indecision and what ifs were shooed away by a force greater than I could conjure up on my own. I knew this was right and good simply because I was supporting my husband and asking God to provide me with the tools needed to be the helpmate I dream of being.

But what does that mean for my dreams? My writing? Where I thought I would be at this point in life? What about me? I don’t have exact answers but I am not at all worried about it. God has it all under control.

If you long to be a more submissive wife, or you long to see your husband lead your family in a more confident way, I hope you will stick with me through the next several posts as I unpack my journey up to this point. It is full of pride-busting moments on my part, but I think it will give hope to those in my shoes.

I Get By with a Little Help

I get by BP

I met with a friend today. It was your typical playdate with preschool-aged kids. There was milked poured, sibling squabbles, and Daniel Tiger in the background. I loved it. Not because of any of those things, but because this friend and I get each other. We don’t need to pretend that this phase of life is more glamorous (or horrible) than it is. We had honest talk about the kids and the husbands. We shared encouragement and days of woe. We wondered openly about whether our parents dealt with the pressures we do to be the best parent. I believe they did not.

Social media has made an in-your-face approach to parenthood the norm. I do believe however, that the core of parents in decades past still struggled with the same questions at night.

Am I a fit mother?

Am I screwing up my kids?

Did I go too far in that punishment today?

Did I feed them well?

Are they going to like me when they are older?

Am I actually ‘ruining their life’ like they claim?

The reality is we are all getting it right in some areas and wrong in others. We never really know how this whole thing is going to turn out until it does—and then it’s too late. Too late to go back and undo the things, unsay things, and un-choose things. Sure, we can apologize and change behavior moving forward, and God has a way of redeeming things beyond our wildest dreams, but it doesn’t erase our choices.

This harsh reality is all the more reason for abundant grace. Grace for the mom who looks a little worse for wear. Grace for the mom who needs two extra set of arms (and maybe a latte). Grace for all. Grace for the ones you hear about over the internet that experienced a tragedy and you even think about making a public opinion about a family you’ve never met in a situation that you did not witness personally. Think grace.

When God put all this in motion, he did not set limits on who could be reached by his grace and love. He set out to prove that he could love anyone or anything. He did it in the supernatural capacity as well as within the confines of human skin. He has poured out his spirit on all flesh (meaning that Holy Spirit indwells in all who begin a relationship with Jesus) so that we could tap in to the awesome power that gave Jesus the capability to love all so well.

Here is a challenge for all my mom friends. Next time you are tempted to think something that is less than helpful towards another mom, do this instead: ask Holy Spirit, “What is God saying about (insert her name)?” Then listen. God only has love for everyone. He isn’t going to celebrate a sin in their life, he will highlight their heart or a strength they have. He doesn’t gossip about other moms to you…the Enemy might though.

I left my friend’s house today feeling filled up. We built each other up and didn’t need to tear anyone down. We agreed to keep each other accountable in our prayer life and I gave her a “It gets better” speech, because that sweet woman is knee-deep in three kids four and under and that is not for the faint of heart, ya’ll!

Find a way to be a friend to another mom this week. Reach out, send that text, plan that playdate. “I get by with a little help from my friends” isn’t just the title of a song used in the opening credits of The Wonder Years. It is a truth. We need our friendships. We need the “me too” of a friend who gets it. The reality is no one quite knows the plight of motherhood like another mother, and it creates this quiet bond between women. A bond that is constantly being buried under a mound of insecurity, comparison, and tough days. But in the end, we are all mothering to the best of our ability. Let’s harbor compassion not comparison.

Ten Years

  
The idea that I have been married for ten years is hard to grasp. I know it is a drop in the bucket compared to the “forever” marriages of those who have been married forty years or more, but this is a big milestone for us! It is a benchmark for marriage in general. In this first decade of marriage, we have nurtured a fledgling business, moved once, had three children and crossed into our thirties. We have shed the naivety of our first decade as adults and have a more eyes-wide-open approach to life together as well as life in general. We no longer hold to the idea that life is a fairy tale, but we know that it can be even better if you let it. Because the reality is that none of us enjoy trials and heartache–they shake up our confidence in what we think we know. However, when we are on the other side we are more sure of what we can count on. 

I can count on this guy.

In ten years we have seen lack and we have seen surplus. We have had joyous blessings and we have had heartahce. We have been in mysteriously-lovely unity and in opposite-sides discord. We have not seen it all, but we have seen enough to know this world can rip you apart if you let it. 

I was asked recently about a good book to read to prepare you for marriage. I answered with two things:

First, I think the Five Love Languages is an excellent starting place. I think each person should know how their spouse feels loved. But secondly, and most importantly, I believe each person should be on a committed track of personal growth with the Lord. This commitment has proven the most beneficial thing in our marriage. The reason being, when you are nurturing an intimate relationship with God and truly listening to Him, He will go to you on behalf of your spouse. He will guide you into deeper love and understanding of their heart. This isn’t a magic bullet as it takes time (like all wonderful journeys do) and it requires humility and a true desire to hear truth from God. But it has been and will continue to be the best path for a lasting marriage. 

As we celebrate ten years, I am grateful for the lessons and the growth. I also know that I wouldn’t want to do this “brutiful” life with any other human. 

I love you Matthew Ferris, forever and always. 

When you Suck at Slow to Anger

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The verse of the day. We see them floating around everywhere. I love the apps, emails and the social media sharing of great verses. Today was this little jewel:

James 1:19 (TPT)
My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry.

Well if that isn’t a little bit of toe-smashing truth right there. It snagged my heart and I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee. Although this is not a new verse for me, my first thought in reading this verse is: I suck at the slow to anger part.

Now of course this is the Enemy inviting me into guilt and shame and tearing down my worth incident by incident. He was attempting to load the reel of bad mom moments in my mind to prove his case when I felt the sweet breeze of the Father’s love over me. I felt His gentle reminder that all of his kids have something they struggle with. One of mine is anger.

This might surprise some who read this as I am known for being more even keeled overall, and that is true in a lot of areas of my life. (In the most recent years, I have seen some major breakthrough in this struggle). The last few years are what I like to call, My Identity Recovery Journey, and it has a lot to do with my progress. I have discovered that my anger was tied to a desperate need to be seen and heard—to be validated for who I was. When I felt overlooked or marginalized, I got angry: louder, more vicious with my words, and quick to lash out. I felt dissenting opinions as personal attacks. I needed to defend me and my camp of thought with passion…which looked a lot like anger.

I started to see that my need to be seen as right usurped my need to be love to others. My need to be validated as good and right to others, sat behind the wheel. I would get angry as soon as I felt unsafe in my position. Now, I know who I am and whose I am. I rest in the fact that I am loved beyond belief and my position is secure whether I feel it in the moment or not. This has allowed me to be slow(er) to speak and quick(er) to listen and the those two choices coming first is what diffuses my anger…in most situations.

When it comes to my home life and being a mom, I am still very much a work in progress. Why is it the people we love most seem to get the worst of us more often than not? I wish I had answers to that timeless question. I don’t today, but I do know why they get more of my anger than anyone else: they are here all. the. time.

We are knee-deep in the season of reminding our children of the rules established in the home.  This is known as the training stage according to Andy Stanley. He has broken child-rearing into four stages. If you haven’t heard of this breakdown before, I recommend doing so. HERE IS A LINK (to another blog that explains the 4 stages). Our children know the rules, but are prone to forgetfulness and their selfish desires are constantly battling for top spot. This creates a time in their lives when they—for the most part—happily exist within the boundaries of a home-centered life. The rules were established in the younger years and they are being reinforced in the pre-teen years (between 5-12). Discipline only comes into play when they break the rules. Here is where I tend to stumble. In my mind, they broke the rules on purpose.

They knew the rules and broke them anyway.

Now this is not true most of the time, but this is the lie I believe, and it triggers anger quickly. I feel wronged, offended—even taken advantage of—when people close to me (my husband and kids) “break the rules”. But it is not a truth, just because it feels true. So, what is true?

If I were slow to speak (out) and quick to listen (to Holy Spirit), how would my reaction be different? It would probably be very different from the times I walk away from the situation disappointed in how I handled it.

In my home life, what does this look like.

With my Husband:

Husband: Says/does something that I don’t like.

Me: Instead of giving into my knee-jerk reaction, I take a breath. Then I pause long enough to ask Holy Spirit to give me His perspective. I am reminded that my husband is for me and he loves me. Then I ask for a way to communicate my feelings without anger.

With my kids:

Kid: Does/says something I don’t like.

Me: My “mom yell” gets held up at the gate of choice. I breathe and ask Holy Spirit for wisdom and to calm my unsteady emotions. I ask for wisdom in guiding my words. I listen to the kid if the situation warrants an explanation. Then, I move forward with the idea that I am training this child to see conflict and deal with conflict and communicate needs and feelings properly.


 

Now this is all easy to say and difficult to live out in the moment. My suggestion—and something I am trying to put into practice—is to do this in the little times. Practicing when it seems easy, when I am in a good place and anger is not what rose to the surface. This way, when it is a bad day—or I am in a bad place emotionally—it will be a habit and not a forced action.

I want to end with a prayer today. I hope this encourages you if you (like me) are still working the kinks out of your imperfect soul.

Father in Heaven, I am so thankful that you long for us to overcome our struggles. You look to empower us through the shortcomings in our lives as your Word says your power is made perfect in our weakness. Therefore, just as Paul did, I can boast in my weakness all the more, because I know those areas are primed for you to show your glory! Continue to shower me with grace as I battle the Enemy’s taunting and bring scripture to mind that encourages me when I am feeling acutely aware of my shortcomings. I thank you for your truth and love that carries me through until you return. In your precious name I pray, amen.