When Mom Needs a Good Cry... CRY OUT!

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I drove clear across town multiple times yesterday, back and forth between homeschooling one and shuttling two. Wednesday's are long. At day's end we made it home and I made dinner, then we made our way out into the dark night for youth groups at church. Hours later, when the kids were finally tucked in bed, I turned my attention to the kitchen sink, piled high with dinner dishes, and I felt an old familiar pang. I felt like a victim again.  

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It's been a while since I added to our ongoing "You are not a victim, you're a mom" series. If the term resonates with you on a gut level, you may want to start here at the beginning of our journey out of the pit of a victim mentality and on to the high places of sweet surrender in this sacrificial role of motherhood.

Ladies, God did a good job when he made you mom to your specific kids and placed you in your specific set of circumstances. Though the dishes and the laundry and the bills all pile up... your family needs you to keep putting one graceful foot in front of the other. As you plunge your hands into scourging sink water, remember your own hot refining and lean into the heat. When the suds rise up, remember the cleansing God offered 2,000 years ago, once for all. For you and me and our complaining hearts. Lean into the purity that belongs to you, clean and covered. Don't fall into the mud again, dear mom; the mud of bitterness, of harsh nagging and complaints.

I've no doubt you get weary. Sister, so do I. But God isn't calling us in our weakness to do anything He can't muscle with His strength, so bring it to Him - morning, noon, and nighttime too.

[Tweet "God isn't calling us in our weakness to do anything He can't muscle with His strength"]

There's nothing wrong with a good old fashioned cry session. Let the kiddos hop out of the minivan as you go ahead and lay your head on the steering wheel for a bit and cry. Tell Him all about your weak and weary places. However, if you truly want to see the power of God flow into your powerlessness, don't just cry... CRY OUT. "Lord, I need You. I need You to show yourself mighty and strong today."

Bring your burdens to Him, without ceasing. Siphon His strength by grabbing hard to the hem of his holiness.

Like the woman with the issue of blood, who dared take hold of the frayed corners of Jesus's cloak... come to Him in faith, with all your own issues. What's issuing forth from your life right now? Issuing out of your mouth - out of your heart and into your home. Perhaps it's been an issue for years - exasperated sighs and unholy thoughts, words that tear down and hands that have lost all gentleness.

Reach out and cry out, and press into the hot water of refinement, remembering that the cleansing has already been done on your behalf and mine. He has healed every disease threatening to issue out of us again. Believe it, when you're tired. Believe it when your children continue to struggle with issues of their own. Believe it and cry out:

I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications.Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.

I shall walk before the LORD In the land of the living.

(Psalm 116:1, 8-9, NASB)

Reach out and cry out, yes, but also keep walking it out. Walk it out before the Lord in the land of the living, in the midst of the people you are living with.

They need you to keep doing your job, day after day.

When there are dishes, do them.

When there is homework, help them.

When there are fears, quiet them.

When there are growing pains, rub them.

When there are dirty clothes, clean them.

When there is sin, recognize that your job is to correct, and then correct.

When there is joy, recognize that your job is to celebrate, and celebrate.

When they are melting down from too much sugar, recognize it is your job to help them eat healthy. And you do that too.

And when they are tired, whining at the end of another long day, recognize it is your job to help usher them to bed. And you grab a few winks yourself.

It is so easy to feel the victim each mothering day, but they are simply children being children, and they need you to keep on being mom.

One foot in front of the graceful other.

Keep walking it out, taking your issues to Him. Remembering, He didn't make us victims in our weakness, He made us victorious by HIs strength. He didn't make us victims, He made us moms!

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If you don't miss any future posts from our on-going "You are not a victim, you're a mom" series, sign up to have them delivered straight to your email inbox.

It's common to find yourself overwhelmed by your children's wrong behavior in this intense season of mothering. However, if you are exploding in inappropriate ways toward your loved ones, I encourage you to grab a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today.

Summertime Parenting - parenting right when our kids keep doing wrong

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Before we focus on any one trigger (what they do incessantly that causes us to explode like a midsummer bottle rocket) let's simply remember what is true: Though they act childish, we're still the adults. (winter, spring, summer, fall...)

 

[Tweet "When our kids do wrong, it's our job to keep parenting right."]

 

I know this is true, because I get to practice it each and every summer day. You see, there's still a lot of conflict in my home  between my boys. Sometimes I indulge, feeling like a victim, and respond in exasperated anger, but then I remember... Triggers are merely opportunities to keep doing the good parenting! Even in the summertime.

Especially in the summertime, with all that concentrated togetherness.

So... who needs to keep doing some good parenting this week? If you're worn out, halfway through summer, and they're whining and complaining... you don't get to. No you don't. Their whining is simply an invitation for you to keep parenting well. And if they're fighting with one another and fighting with you? Again, it's not your job to fight back. You're the adult.

"Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season (whether winter, spring, summer or fall) we will reap if we do not lose heart!" (Galatians 6:9)

Press on in the good parenting. It's your job! Of course they have a job too... It's their job to push against your boundaries - begging for more screen time, begging for cookies all afternoon - it's how they learn to make good choices for themselves on the other side of growing up. It's how they come to find their own power, by leaning into yours - pushing up and rubbing hard against your boundaries, your power. It's good and normal. Hold firm to what's best for them, though it wearies you something awful; hold onto your boundaries. Let me affirm you! This is hard stuff, but you don't have to fight your kids. Let them ask for the moon, but give them only what you can - what is good for them -  and say no to what they can't have.

Will they keep fighting? Perhaps... but you don't have to fight back.

 

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Use a soft voice and remember that God did a good job when He made you their mom. If the kids are talking nasty, don't you join them. Excuse them to their rooms and remind them that no one in the family is allowed to talk nasty.

"Encourage one another and build each other up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Make sure you're getting some exercise and drinking plenty of water (you and the kids.) Watch your sugar intake too, and set some boundaries around other coping mechanisms that can become idols in a mom's life. Alcohol in the afternoon, and time on your phone pulling away from the chaos as you smooth your angst-y nerves.

Summertime triggers are opportunities to parent, not excuses to pull away, slack off, and play the victim.

How do I know this? Because I'd like to pull away more afternoons than I care to admit! I'd absolutely like to pull away to lick my wounds... but most summer days there isn't space for that. So let's press into summer and press into Christ and press on into the good parenting. Grace and good parenting (and a popsicle or two) will get you through.

 

[Tweet "This summer... let's press on into the good parenting. "]

 

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A very sincerely thank you to Amber Lia, my dear friend and co-author of our book Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, for coining the phrase, "Keep doing the good parenting."

It is my own personal mantra, every single day!

 

To receive the rest of our SUMMERTIME TRIGGERS series directly to your email inbox, sign up here.

 

Summertime Blues - an open letter to summer

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Dear Summer,

You started off strong, with lemonade stands and trips to the zoo. You showed off your stuff with perfect temperatures, plenty of playdates and poolside popsicles. The kids all passed out early, drained from long, fun days.

Well done, Summer!  You. Owned. June.  

Then along came July, with your soaring temperatures… and my short fuse got lit right about the fourth of July.

What happened to this laid-back pool-side mama? What have you done to me? And why can’t I find anyone’s bathing suit bottoms and swim goggles? And why are the children fighting one another and why am I fighting everyone back? And “No you can’t have another popsicle!”

Dear, sweet, much anticipated Summer, you’ve got to know what happens to us when you turn it up past 100 degrees, with 98% humidity! The children wake up disgruntled, begging to watch “one more movie” before 8am. The kiddie pool pops from the heat. THE HEAT alone does it! And the house is in a constant state of awful.

 

 

[Tweet "Sometimes a messy hot house makes a hot mess out of a mom! #triggersbook http://amzn.to/29PA04M"]

 

And the slip-n-slide has all but killed our grass. My husband dragged it out to the garbage can last Wednesday, with a train of crying kids in his wake.

We’re halfway through the summer, but I’m singing The Summertime Blues because it’s only 11am here and they’re all begging for an indoor playground - what with the slip-n-slide in the trash. Honestly, I thought long and hard about the indoor playground idea, but that costs $50 for 90 minutes of air conditioned fun, and with juice boxes at $4 a pop there’s no way I can say yes! Except the sound of them whining at me and fighting each other makes me think taking out a second mortgage to pay for some chilly recycled air may be worth it after all!

So here I am, Summer, standing at the sink, trying to get myself motivated to tackle these breakfast dishes before the lunchtime rush, where every one of my miniature people calls for me like a short-order cook. What’s a mom to do, Summer, answer me that!

 

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Just this morning I got a text from a mom-friend of mine who typed out her own summertime lament!

“It’s only July and I'm already twitchy. The boys got up this morning and emptied our entire cupboard of craft supplies onto the living room floor! Content, they colored there for approximately three and a half minutes, before leaving the wreckage behind with the promise they’d “be right back.” Of course they took their creativity out onto the apartment balcony to play with chalk. Needless to say, they covered the entire patio surface with one solid piece of chalk art, then traipsed chalk foot prints all the way to the bathroom, where they swam in the tub to wash it off - because some of them looked like Braveheart with chalk on their faces! Then when I thought I could escape to my own bathroom for a moment, I tripped over the art supplies they’d left on the floor and banged my knee something awful. I went for a bag of frozen peas to help with the swelling, when I heard them yelling over an itty-bitty lego.... one tiny 4x4 Lego! I'm one eye twitch away from the crazy house people.”

You hear that, Summer? Mamas get twitchy eyes and twitchy trigger fingers too! In the heat of the moment, in the heat of the day, moms tend to explode at their kids. Complaints about boredom, incessant cries for more screentime, and their dissatisfied eye rolls cause us to react in anger rather than respond - and the guilt we feel as we lecture our way home from the beach is what we hate most of all!

We don’t mean to be mean, if you know what I mean… we’re just hot and bothered.

We started the summer with a heartfelt Halleluiah, one short month ago, and we love these little people something fierce… but we’re out of ideas, out of money, and out of patience.

Sincerely,

One Hot Mess

 

Are you struggling to keep cool and keep calm this summer? Join me for a SUMMERTIME TRIGGERS parenting series! Over the course of the next week I'll post three Summertimes Triggers and what we can do to keep our cool when the temperatures rise... when our temperatures rise!

I'll share my biggest summertime triggers - the things they do that make me explode like a midsummer bottle rocket! Take the challenge - and take your summer back! Sign up here to get each new article delivered directly to your email inbox.

 

[Tweet "Summertime Boredom, Screen-time Battles, and a new way to view all the other Summertime Triggers!"]

 

“Sometimes I wonder what I’m-a-gonna-do… cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”

 

1454673261503Triggers are the things our kids do that cause us to react in anger rather than respond Gently. Instead of focusing on getting our kids' behavior under control, our focus must first be on controlling our own behavior. Just because our kids behave wrong, we must keep on doing right! Order your copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today.

 

Your Teenager Is Not Crazy - but they may trigger you something awful!

I usually invite my guests to sit with me (figuratively) on that comfy orange couch in my living room, but today's friend agreed to join me (literally) at a conference, and I was so blessed by her wisdom and fellowship I wanted to bring you into our conversation. Last week, Jerusha Clark and I shared a booth at The Great Homeschool Convention with my book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses rubbing shoulders with her most recent release, Your Teenager Is Not Crazy: Understanding Your Teen's Brain Can Make You a Better Parent.

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What I learned, as we conversed with moms both separately and together, is that teenagers can be a trigger in their very own category! However, like every trigger that Amber Lia and I address in our book, the more you know about your triggers, the less likely you are to be triggered by them. Same is true for the teen who's pushing boundaries, talking back, and looking for their growing sense of autonomy and independence there in your home.

The more you understand their developing brain, the more grace and help you can offer them as they grow.

Welcome, Jerusha!

 


 

 

The Biological Trigger Most Parents Don’t Even Know Exists…

by Jerusha Clark

 

Ever heard of mirror neurons?

Neither had I, until I started trying to understand the teenagers living in my house, that is.  Turns out, these tiny brain cells play a major role in parenting anyone from 11-25 years of age.  Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal.

God created mirror neurons to help your kids (and you!) learn by example.  They’re also crucial in developing empathy.  When you watch someone laugh hysterically, drink a cup of steaming coffee, or burst into tears, the mirror neurons in your brain fire.  Your senses vicariously participate in what you observe.  This explains, in part, why women like me cry at sappy commercials (C’mon; I know I’m not the only one!)  It also helps explain why, when your teen wigs out, you feel like wigging out, too (and vice versa.)  

While scientists are still learning about these amazing brain cells, studies suggest that when mirror neurons activate, imitation of both positive and negative behaviors occurs. In other words, your teen’s brain is constantly watching, evaluating, and reproducing your emotions and actions. Talk about evidence that parents need to model appropriate behavior! Next time you feel like blowing your top at your angry teen, take a moment to let your mirror neurons calm down (more on this later)!

My husband and I have spent several years exploring scientific research and biblical wisdom about parenting adolescents.  It’s been absolutely fascinating to witness how neuroscience is just now catching up with and proving the timeless wisdom of Scripture.  Consider this well known verse in light of what you just learned about mirror neurons:

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1). 

God not only gives us “good advice” in the Bible; He actually designed our bodies and brains in concert with His truth.  Mirror neurons are at play when you respond to your tweens and teens. It’s wonderful and wild, isn’t it?!

I know it’s tough raising adolescents.  I’m right in the thick of it!  But I’ve got good news for all of us: we don't have to throw our hands up in defeat.  I’d love to share two practical tips for anyone who wants to move beyond “getting through” their kids’ tween and teenage years and actually thrive during this season.

  • Don’t be a diversion. When you lose emotional control, adolescents divert energy to evaluating your behavior rather than their own. You don’t want this. Instead, keeping your cool forces your teenager’s feelings and the heart motives behind them to the surface. In a fascinating series of studies, researchers determined that when adolescents fixate on someone else’s emotions, their ability to process other information weakens. In other words, your angry expression and tone of voice dulls your teenager’s capacity to hear the content of your message (those powerful mirror neurons are going crazy!) If you want to have an effective conversation with your adolescent, don’t allow your emotion to distract him from what you’re communicating.
  • Take ninety seconds. Social neurobiologists study how brain chemistry impacts relationships. Their research shows that emotions follow a predictable ninety-second arc. This means that any emotion you or your adolescent feels will rise and fall within ninety seconds if proverbial fuel isn’t added to the fire. Here’s the practical application: If you know your feelings aren’t under control, remove yourself from the situation. Excuse yourself to get a glass of water, go into the bathroom (even if all you do in there is silently scream), or flat-out say, “Look, I need to take ninety seconds here.” Some of you may be thinking, “That may work for others, but I’ve tried the whole counting to ten thing, and my kid just pushes and pushes.” Fair enough. This may happen, and it may happen often. Remember, however: you are the adult. Despite what a teen does, you can communicate, “I am trying to get my emotions under control, so I’m not going to talk again for two minutes.” Chances are, the first few times you say something like this, your teen or tween may be annoyed or angered. Hold your ground. After seeing you take ninety seconds a few times, your kids may start to experience the same calming sensation that comes from riding out the neurological rise and fall. In a non-combative moment, explain the biology behind your ninety-second discipline. You may be surprised at your adolescent’s reaction. Flipping out doesn’t feel good. Unbridled anger and bitterness are poisonous emotions that leave us feeling worse than when we started. Your teen or tween may see the benefit in taking time to allow the heat of emotion to pass. Ninety seconds doesn’t solve the situation, but it puts out some of the emotional flames and lays the groundwork for healthier communication.

 

I invite you to learn more about your adolescent’s brain, because understanding it can make you a better, gentler parent!  If you’re ready to forego those knee-jerk reactions when your teenager is acting like a teenager, check out Your Teenager Is Not Crazy, available from Baker Books at bookstores and online.

 

4b647c_31a1ee10ddce4e47877ff77d3fb3fd94Jerusha Clark co-authored four books with her husband Jeramy, including three bestsellers, prior to launching her own writing and speaking ministry, focused on helping others glorify and enjoy God, one thought at a time.

On quiet days, you can find Jerusha body-boarding, reading, or singing around a bonfire at the beach, her absolute favorite place. Jeramy and Jerusha have two amazing teenage daughters and love ministering together at churches, retreats, schools, and conferences.

 

 

 

 

Whatever is true - and truly wonderful about your kids - think about such things

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Welcome to the ongoing series, "You are not a victim, you're a mom." Perhaps it's time to wrap these messages up, and tie it all together with a sweeping conclusion, that feels more like the wave of a magic wand making all things lovely. But it's tough to do that because climbing out of sin is an ongoing journey this side of glory - even where motherhood is concerned. And that's okay. There's really no arriving until we see Jesus face to face and are suddenly like Him. That's where we find our hope! Jesus is the victim that ultimately set the rest of us free. 

And so I am pressing on to be more like Him each parenting moment.

Feel free to join me in the journey as we continue with part 9 - or start from the beginning - You are not a victim, you're a mom.

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I'm typing these words out at the dinning room table as my homeschooled kid finishes his outline for a research report in the kitchen. Natural light is streaming through the picture windows, the halls are quiet (since brothers go to a traditional school), I have an infuser blasting a steady stream of essential oils, which promise to clear a cloudy brain and stimulate alertness, and he has a handful of raw nuts by his side - brain food. I'm doing my best. He's doing his best. But ADHD is hard stuff.

Two years ago, right around this time in the school year, I pulled my child out of his class with a sense of urgency. His teacher spoke of grace but didn't know how to extend it in the midst of a room full of warm wiggly bodies. She suggested medication, which isn't awful, don't get me wrong, and we tried it. We tried a few. They didn't work for my boy. As a matter of fact they only made things worse. My boy's teacher said she wanted to help, and I believe that she did, but eventually all she was doing was shaming our child from subject to the next, all day long. Anxiety filled his gut until he was literally sick from it most days. Which only set him further behind and intensified the anxiety. My own belly's in a knot at the recollection.

I wasn't angry at the teacher or the school, I understood. Still, my boy was going under - academically and emotionally. So my husband and I rushed into the whirling water and pulled him from the waves, dragging him out and up onto the warm sand of homeschool. Which may be lovely imagery... but it's still hard.

Here we are, two years later, and I find myself struggling with the same gracelessness his teacher did. Shameful words like, "what's wrong with you? Why can't you just..." tumble over my lips. Only, I know what's wrong. Which is why we brought him home.

Did I mention how difficult ADHD can be?

However, I could write an epic sweeping novel about all that is RIGHT with this child. His heart, his talents, his beauty, his strength, his desire to please and encourage... so much good and so much muscle and so much unique God-design wrapped in the sinews of my son. I am over the moon in love with him! And I even love many of the attributes that are unlocked because of his ADHD - His creativity for one thing! But teaching and learning... that's hard. All of it. And sometimes I feel like a victim.

And it translates.

This victim mentality translates to our kids. They know we feel abused! They do, mom! They read it on your face; in your body language; in between your words, your sighs.

Just recently he looked at me with sad eyes, and said, "Mom, I feel like I'm ruining your life."

Oh my bleeding heart, NOOOOOO!  And yet... yes, sometimes I feel that way. And maybe you do too. But it's not true! It's simply not true!

Which is why we must practice the spiritual discipline of believing what is true, so that we don't pass these wrong messages on to them!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Here's what's true: I'm crazy about my kid's freckled face and the way his fingers fly over the neck of his guitar, like they know exactly where every cord lives.

Here's what's nobel: God made my child. The King made my boy! He wove him together in princely fashion, and prepared him for good works - God works! And with my help he gets to walk in each one of them.

Here's what's pure: He's just being a kid, pure and simple, like any other kid, with his own brand of strengths and struggles. And I have the privilege of partnering with him daily.

Here's what's lovely: We talk about girls, his dreams and and his future, and he holds my hand - anytime, anywhere - infront of God and everybody.

Here's what's admirable: God looks at the heart, and my kid's heart is awesome!  Yes, sometimes his ADHD is louder and seems to drown out the softer voice of his admirable heart, but God is ever focused on that heart, and I want to be too.

Here's what's excellent: The way my boy cares for me and his Grandma, always holding the door and making sure we are okay - it's excellent! The way his friend's parents are always complimenting us on his manners. Excellent.

Here's what's praiseworthy: I know that I just told you that God and I are most concerned about my boy's heart, but this kid is also scoring above his peers in his standardized tests! Getting through each assignment may be painful, but he's learning and that's worthy of praise too!

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Your turn! If you are caught in a victim mindset, steadfast in negative thought patterns and self-talk, feeling abused by your little people, take Paul's advice in Philippians 4:8 and remember all things true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy!

May they spill out of your remembrances, into your heart, and up over your lips!

Click here to start at the beginning of the series, “You are not a victim, you’re a mom.” Or sign up to receive the rest of this series directly to your inbox.

If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if you find yourself yelling at your little ones, feeling like a victim, and weighed down by shame, you’re not alone. TRIGGERS: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses, is a brand new book, written by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake, addressing the things our children do, along with the internal pressures of motherhood, that trigger in us angry reactions rather than gentle Biblical responses. Get your copy today.

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