#shoutyourabortion or #embracethejourney

When I was pregnant with my twins, I remarked that I felt like a walking pro-life billboard. My daughter had been given a fatal diagnosis and the remaining four months of the pregnancy were an emotional roller coaster.

Depending on what source you find, it would seem that more than 90% of babies with her diagnosis are aborted. For many, they are only given the option of abortion and don’t realize they can question it. Others believe they cannot handle the emotional roller coaster. Still others just want to move on and “get over it” to start again. Responses range, obviously- we’re all individuals with our own way of thinking, after all.

I had a lot of time to think about the statistics I found, and about reasons people give for abortion.

 

The following is a post I wrote after speaking at a church about Sanctity of Life:

 

I have many memories from my childhood and teen years of various “pro-life” events. I remember sitting with my parents at the Friends For Life booth at the county fair, and the January trips to Washington D.C. for the Rally and March for Life on the anniversary of Roe-vs.-Wade. As long as I can remember, we were somehow involved in pro-life efforts.

I’ve heard many arguments in favor of abortion, and many rebuttals against those arguments. Perhaps the most common argument I’ve heard is, “Well, you don’t know unless you’ve had to choose.” I can honestly say now that I do know.

When you think of the reasons someone might be in a position to choose an abortion over life, you may think of many reasons you’ve heard. An unplanned pregnancy may result from carelessness or poor judgment, failed birth control, or even rape. Abortion may be given as an option in a planned pregnancy if there is an abnormality or birth defect. Occasionally, it may be a case in which the mother’s life is considered to be in danger, though these situations seem to be argued much more often than they actually occur. Over all, the reasons primarily boil down to either inconvenience or emotional turmoil.

About two years ago, my husband and I decided that we were ready to start a family. After about a year, we finally got the first positive line on a home pregnancy test. We were absolutely thrilled. We loved our baby immediately. I secretly hoped for twins, and it had been a joke with our mothers since we became a couple that we were going to have redheaded twin girls. At the first ultrasound, we were shocked to learn that there really were two babies growing inside. It was a strange mix of emotions, but above all, we were immediately in love with our babies.

On December 15th, at about 16 weeks gestation, our doctor expressed some concerns that our daughter (though at the time she was known as “Baby B”) hadn’t developed properly. He told us about a neural tube defect called Anencephaly. It’s a defect that occurs within the first month of pregnancy when the neural tube should be closing but doesn’t, leaving the skull open and brain exposed. It’s always fatal (though there have been very few cases of babies living with anencephaly for a few years). “Incompatible with life” is the term they use. Our doctor referred us to a high risk specialist in Lexington for the following week to confirm.

On December 21st, the fear was confirmed and we knew that one of our babies would be incapable of surviving after birth. I don’t think I have the words to describe the devastation that we felt. We wanted both of our babies. The specialist promptly began discussing our options and any risks. He told us that we could do “selective termination,” terminate the entire pregnancy, or proceed, knowing that the baby would not be able to survive. We quickly let him know that “termination” was not an option. He made the comment that many parents choose termination because it’s so difficult to handle emotionally.

I later learned that somewhere between 90-98% of babies diagnosed with anencephaly are aborted. This falls into the “emotional turmoil” category. The remainder of our pregnancy was surely filled with emotional turmoil. It was an emotional roller coaster. We had one healthy baby and one that we knew could not survive. It was hard to make future plans for our son because it didn’t seem fair to our daughter, but it didn’t seem fair to him if we didn’t.

The questions that are fun and exciting in a typical pregnancy cut deep. When someone would ask when I was due, I was reminded how short my time was with my daughter. When they asked if I was having a boy or a girl, I’d say “one of each,” only to listen to further comments about how exciting it would be and how I’d have my hands full, and what a challenge it was. What they didn’t realize was how much I’d wanted that challenge. If I wanted to avoid the extra comments and told people that I was expecting one of each but my daughter wouldn’t be able to survive, people just didn’t know how to respond. The look in their eyes would say they wanted to run in the other direction just to avoid having to say anything else. If I said I was having a boy, I wouldn’t be acknowledging her. I could never do that. I needed the world to know that she existed.

Though we immediately knew that abortion was not an option for us, the journey we took from that moment was certainly not easy. It was painful, and still is painful. We don’t regret our decision. We know we did everything that was asked of us in allowing Carys to live until God said it was time for her to go home. She changed our lives (and the lives of many others) in ways we never could have imagined. God had a plan. God always has a plan.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It doesn’t matter what storm we are facing. Even when it hurts and we’re so weary that we feel like we just can’t go another step, or even when we struggle just to hold our head up and face the crowds, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants good things for us. We won’t always understand why we’re allowed to go through the storms, but if we cling to Him when we feel like running from Him… we’ll start to see the beauty in the storm. There’s an awe-inspiring power that is evident from the midst of a storm, that a person just can’t appreciate from the shelter of a cave. There is beauty in and after the rain. If we try to take the easiest way out that we can find, we may miss out on the most rewarding parts of the journey.

If you are reading this and you have missed out on the rewarding parts of the journey, it’s not too late to cling to the Father. Even now, after it’s all said and done, there is much to be experienced. You’ve still experienced a loss, but you can grieve your loss from the arms of the Creator. He knows your pain, He hurts when you hurt. There is peace in knowing that some day, if we’ve chosen to seek Him with all our hearts, following His commands to love Him and love others with that deep, agape kind of love… we have hope for a future in Heaven- a future filled with a greater peace than this world has ever known. Praise God, Heaven is for real!

The Biggest Mistake Christians Make

biggestmistake

Recently, I have been struggling with feeling very discouraged about all the trending topics in social media and the news. I see posts and comments daily criticizing Christians for our faith. We are frequently villainized and our opinions are discounted simply because we claim to follow Christ. We are, rather ironically, called bigots by those who refuse to make an effort to understand our point of view. We are ridiculed, stereotyped, and called ignorant for our beliefs. We are accused of being hypocrites by people with a limited understanding of God’s word- even people who have convinced themselves they are experts on the topic.

But.

The part of all of this that really makes me feel a bit sick is that there is an element of truth to all of that. The body of believers has not been presenting as a unified front. Much damage has already been done to our witness. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ sincerely understand what all that entails. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ live a life striving to be like Christ, as we’re commissioned to live.

All through school, I followed the rules and continually made an effort to please my teachers and personal sense of accomplishment by living up to set expectations as best I could. I know. I’m a nerd. I can’t help it. It’s my personality (and actually, I’m quite content being a nerd). I can think of many times in school and beyond, when a few other people made irresponsible decisions and lost privileges for the group as a whole. I always had trouble understanding how some people could act like they just don’t care how they represent others, or about how the consequences of their actions may affect more than only themselves.

Considering this thought from a more experienced point of view- maybe for some, it’s just that they don’t realize their behavior makes a difference for the whole. We all come from different histories with different learning experiences and different personalities. Most of us don’t even realize the impact we can have on those around us- but we all have one.

There are many different spiritual maturity levels among individuals claiming to belong to the Church. Some accepted Christ but never made an effort to mature, and some spent time in the world and with spiritual leadership but then made choices to live how they want to live. Still others strive daily to live a life pleasing to God. But as in many situations in life, a few people can ruin a good thing for the group. A portion of the group can destroy the reputation of the rest.

 

In our situation now, it seems like there are few Christians who truly live as Christ-models. Sure, we get the basics, but tend to justify things that shouldn’t be justified while looking over things that should be given attention.

So, now to what seems to me to be the biggest mistake made by Christians today:

We are not fulfilling the Great Commission.

The body as a whole has not been a living example of who God is. We’re not showing people what God’s love is about.

By recent history, the church overall has seemed to look the other way when faced with many sinful situations, even within the church itself. We’ve been so concerned with wanting to not offend others, to not make situations uncomfortable, to not lose church members, to not lose tithes, or to not be called out for our own poor decisions, that we hesitate. When we hesitate, we often decide to not respond at all.

Scripture tells us that if a fellow Christian is making sinful decisions and we know, we are to go to them and lovingly discuss the issue with them. If they do not listen, we are to take one or two from the church to discuss it again. Does that ever happen? Or do we look the other way so we don’t have anyone do the same to us?

Let’s face it. We are human. We are individuals who, by design, only see from our own perspectives. If we are striving for wisdom, we will make a strong effort to understand the experiences of others, but it does take effort. It doesn’t always come easily.

Because we are human, mistakes are easy to make. Maybe that’s why the Hebrews were instructed to not stop meeting together with other believers. Maybe that’s why Solomon wrote about the benefits and combined strength of like-minded friends in Christ.

Accountability.

Where is it?

We’ve become so timid about approaching fellow Christians about sinful, selfish behaviors that when we DO take a stand on a specific issue, we look like hypocrites.

Notice how that is in bold AND italics?

Perhaps this has something to do with the “don’t judge me or you’re a hypocrite!” mentality that seems to be floating around these days. Side note – is it REALLY judging if God has already proclaimed the judgment in advance? Anyway. That’s another topic…

But, what happened? I’ve heard before that if a frog is dropped into a pot before the water is heated to a boil, it will die before jumping out because the change is so gradual, it doesn’t recognize the threat until it is too late (ok, I don’t know that it is true, and I wouldn’t encourage trying it, but I intend it simply as an analogy).

Have we as a whole really been so comfortable in the water that we don’t snap out of it until something we find shocking happens?

Christians. Seriously. Are we handling “current” sins wisely? Lovingly? It’s easy to become defensive and not present ourselves in a very Christ-like way (especially from behind a keyboard).

We have been called to show others God’s love. Are we picking and choosing which sins to protest? Why are we not holding one another accountable? If we love one another, we need to do that. We need to lift each other up in prayer and offer encouragement. Is that happening as often as it is needed?

Pro 27:6 KJV Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

If we don’t love others and build a mutually respectful relationship with them, what on this earth makes us think they are going to suddenly repent or even try to see our point of view? If we are viewed as the hypocritical enemy, why would they want to listen?

We are not the enemy and we can’t act like we are. I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I am pleading for Christians to evaluate where we now stand from a different point of view. I have very intentionally left out the naming of any specific sins in the post. Sin is sin. Simply put, sin is choosing to do what we want over what God asks of us. Sin is being selfish.

So. Speaking to any Christians reading this, please allow me to be an accountability partner for you today.

Are you choosing what God asks of you over what YOU want? Or are you indulging in something God has guided you to leave behind you?

Be careful about where you put your energy. Stand firm in what Scripture says, but do it in Christ-like love, and in all things- not only the ones most uncomfortable for you. After all, the frog was comfortable too.

 

Keri

Maranomi – The New Normal

As we come to the end of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I wanted to share a post I wrote a few months after our baby girl went to Heaven in 2011.

 

After The Rainn

Saturday, August 27, 2011

 

The New Normal

There is no word for this. There is no word for this beautifully excruciating state of being, in which a parent has been separated from her child by death. There is no term to express the existence of a parent on earth while her child lives in Heaven. Why is that?

A person who has lost a spouse is a widow or widower. A child who has lost her parents is an orphan. They have terms to describe the change that took place in that moment of loss. They have terms to label their “new normal.”

I don’t.

I’ve thought quite a bit about the phrase “new normal,” as I have heard it referenced many times since we began this journey last December. I look back at what was once normal and it seems … young. In a way, it was like graduating from grade school and going directly into college. It’s a whole new level… a whole new normal. What was true then is still true now, but it’s so much deeper and more expansive. While I knew such a loss was possible, I had no way of fully knowing the impact of it until I experienced it for myself. I had no way of knowing the unique mixture of joy and sorrow, and peace in pain. It’s more than just being sad and missing someone.

The new normal is ever-changing. Who I was before is being continually re-defined. I don’t think there’s really a point when it is possible to say, “ok, I’ve moved on, I’m good now.” When a rock is thrown into a lake, the ripples continue after the initial impact. Maybe I should say, rather, when a rain drop hits a lake…

The new normal is an odd mix of anticipation and sorrow, with renewed purpose and utter exhaustion. The new normal is being surprised when tears suddenly spring up in my eyes at the most random reminders that she’s no longer with us on earth, yet feeling joy that she was my baby girl. As painful as it has been, I can’t make myself wish for the old normal. The old normal didn’t include my babies, and in the old normal, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of Heaven.

There should be a word for this.

If I were to choose or create a word to label this new normal, I’d want it to reflect how the experience is never truly over, but it is ever-changing and developing. I’d want it to reflect how a parent’s way of relating to others morphs into something different and the view of the world and its priorities shifts significantly. I’d want it to be clear that, although a sense of humor may still be present, there is a continual, unspoken somber air that clings to the parent of a child in Heaven. We’ve glimpsed the other side…. And the other side seems more real than this one.

A term to describe a parent who has lost a child would need to incorporate the idea of a challenge, a journey, and being broken. It would reflect a new character and a new’ way of relating to life.

I think of the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. After losing her husband and sons, Naomi returned to her former home. When the women there saw her, they said, “Can this be Naomi?”

 

“20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”” (Ruth 1:20-21)

 

Naomi, whose name meant “pleasant,” told them to no longer call her Naomi. She was different. She preferred to be called by a name that meant bitter. “Bittersweet” is a term I’ve found myself using frequently over the past months. We know God is working, even through the painful parts of the experience. I’m not sure how to take Naomi’s response. I hope she eventually found the joy in the sorrow, though I don’t get the impression from that brief passage that she had yet. I hope that when she saw her faithful daughter-in-law, and as she held her grandson, Obed, she felt the sweet that went along with the bitter.

Regardless of whether or not Naomi found the sweet with the bitter, it is evident that she was a changed woman. Loss does that. Painful life experiences open our eyes to deeper truths about our existence.  According to Paul, our sufferings produce perseverance, or the ability to keep on keeping on. (“ 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5)

            “We also glory in our sufferings.” Glory… as in magnificence, splendor, wonder, etc. … in our sufferings. The sufferings are part of the journey. It’s easy to become bitter at the sufferings… but then we miss out on the glory of them. Sufferings lead to perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to HOPE. Thank God, we have that hope (‘cause wow, what a mess I’d be without it). I have hope because I know the story isn’t over. My identity is not bitterness alone.

Though I’m no longer who I once was, I’m not entirely bitter. There is some sweet in the mix. I’d rather have had my daughter with anencephaly than not at all. God gave us so much through her, and it has been bittersweet. I’m not a Mara… I’m a Mara-Naomi… a Maranomi.

 

Keri

“Can I Pleeeease???”

bath Lotus Carroll / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

During bath time, my 3 year old asked for the plastic cup I’d used to rinse his hair. I found myself telling him no because he was more tired than usual, and I know him. If I’d given him that cup, he would have promptly used it to scoop up a floor-soaking amount of bubble-filled bathwater to dump over the side of the tub. Sure, there is that off-chance that he may not have, but again, I know him. When he is as tired as he was then, he is very prone to such actions. He’s 3. They do that. (Don’t worry, he’ll have plenty of chances to pour water later.)

While this was not an uncommon occurrence, it struck me differently as I heard myself explaining. “If I gave it to you, you’d be tempted to dump it out of the tub, but I love you and I really don’t want you to get yourself in trouble.”

Since my days at this stage in my life are most frequently ruled by interactions with my children, God uses these interactions to give me another glimpse of His love for us.

Have you ever had a door slammed in your face, only to beg and beg God to open it for you? “Can I pleeeeease have the cup?!”

Is there anything in your life right now that you are begging God for but not stopping to listen for His answer to your heart?

Are you spiritually tired and asking for something that would just serve to get you into trouble, or there’s a chance it just might not be best for you?

God loves you. He doesn’t tell us no just to be “mean.”

On the flip side, as God gives me more and more glimpses of His love for us, I’m continually doing my best to attempt to love like God loves me*.  I’m trying to lovingly set boundaries when I know giving in most likely won’t end well. I’m trying to not set my children up to fail: by saying no or redirecting attention in another direction before a situation escalates. I’m trying. I’m learning, and I’m trying.

What interactions do you face regularly which are most difficult for you to lovingly set boundaries?

 

Keri

 

 

 

*note… ATTEMPT…. I am human, after all (but that won’t keep me from trying)!

The Traumatic Life of a Betta with a 3-Year-Old


Stephie189 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 B (the betta) escaped trauma a few nights ago because after giving my three-year-old his allergy medicine, he put it in his mouth, then bit off a piece and ran to B’s tank to drop it in and “feed” him. I couldn’t catch him quickly enough to stop him, but I rushed and got B out of the tank to empty and clean the tank.

Today, however, I joined Paxton in the living room after he’d been there a few minutes. Not immediately after, I turned around and noticed that the lid of the tank was standing upright and there was water all around the tank. I scrambled to get the lights on because that corner didn’t have window light like the rest of the room and was dark. When I looked back over, I couldn’t see B in the tank. “Where’s B???” Then I saw him. Poor little B was lying BESIDE the tank. I didn’t know how long he’d been there. I grabbed a piece of paper to try to scoop him up and put him back in the water, hoping it would be less likely to hurt him more… if he wasn’t already dead.

I admit; I was upset. With dismay in my voice (and probably a stronger reaction than I should have had), I said “Paxton!!!! You killed your fish!!!”

I know he’s three and curious, and I didn’t want to be too hard on him, but I wanted him to know how serious it was because I have told him many times to not open the lid of the tank or put his hands in.

For a moment, seeing the look on my face, I think he got it. His little eyes looked very sincere and solemn.

I asked if he thought we should pray for B and he said yes… so we prayed for his fish. Then, unprompted, he told B he was sorry.

I wonder how often we do things out of curiosity, knowing that we “shouldn’t,” but not fully understanding the implications of our actions. Spiritually, there is a maturing process that takes place too. Until you face the trials in life that are required to develop maturity, you don’t have the understanding our Father wants us to develop.

My little guy knows he’s been told not to open the fish tank, but he doesn’t have a full grasp on the concept of dying. He knows about Heaven and knows his sister lives there, but he’s still too little to fully understand what that really means.

“He’s okay,” he kept saying.

“I don’t know, buddy… I don’t know if he’s going to live or not.”

There are many instructions God gives us that we may not really understand WHY He gives them. If we are following His instructions and striving to live as He calls us to live, we will continue to grow and mature spiritually. Until we have that deeper understanding though, we just have to trust.

Trust that God has a reason for giving us the instructions He does. Trust that God loves us and His plans are out of that love. Trust that He’s not going to do things that will harm us in the big picture. Trust… and don’t traumatize the betta. Even if you don’t know WHY you’re not supposed to touch it the fact that He said to leave it alone is enough until you are mature enough to understand the why.

B tried a few times to swim up off the bottom of the tank, only succeeding in a crooked, awkward movement- at first. Within about 30 minutes, miraculously… he was swimming seemingly normally, eating, and acting like nothing had ever happened. The therapist in me wonders just how traumatized he is after today’s adventure out of the water!

 

James 1:2-5

New International Version (NIV)

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 

Keri

When Patience Wears Thin


Laura4Smith / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This week, our home has been filled with coughing, breathing treatments, tissues, and cranky attitudes. When I finally had to accept that I had gotten sick too, I also had to acknowledge that I didn’t have much energy to deal with a three year old on a steroid and albuterol. I’ve really tried to be as patient as possible, but I do confess that it’s not easy when I’m sick and exhausted myself.

So, as I pray for divine intervention, I find myself yet again incredibly grateful that our Heavenly Father is always loving, always patient, always kind… when my patience and energy wear thin, His never do.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your never-ending patience. Thank you for loving me even when I’m sick and cranky. Help me to be more like you as I strive to raise my children as you have modeled in your love for us. Please help me to respond lovingly and calmly to my boys’ antics, even if I don’t feel well myself. Help me, I pray, to model your love in every interaction with them. Help them to see you through me.

Amen.

 

Keri

How’s the Atmosphere?


kevin dooley / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

How would you describe the tone in your house? Is it relaxed? Tense? Anger-filled? Dark and depressed? Chaotic? Stressed? Peaceful? Do you and your family tip-toe around for fear of someone’s outburst?

Every household has an atmosphere. We may not always be fully aware of the atmosphere in our own homes because home is our comfort zone. Sometimes, though, our comfort zones are not very comfortable.

We’ve all been around people whose attitudes are contagious. Positive or negative, the people who surround us may be capable of setting the tone of our own mood if we allow them to do so. After a while, mood can become habitual. I’m sure you could probably think of people who are in the habit of being in a bad, negative mood, and you could probably also think of people who are in the habit of being optimistic and cheerful. Which are you?

If your atmosphere is draining you, maybe it’s time to work on it.

  • Call for a family meeting to discuss the atmosphere and ask for possible solutions. TALK about the issues everyone tries to avoid. if your family has difficulty doing this on your own, seek help from a professional counselor for your family. Misinterpretations, hurt feelings, etc. may cause tension in all families at one time or another. Remember that when issues are swept under the rug, they do not disappear; they only pile up and cause everyone to trip.
  • Monitor what you allow IN your home. TV shows, Movies, Video games – the themes matter! If you allow your home to be filled with violence, horror, disrespectful attitudes, etc., it may very well set the tone for you.
  • Make spiritual growth and family time top priorities, and learn to say “no” when it would be best for your priorities to do so.
  • Model a godly atmosphere by responding as lovingly as humanly possible in ALL situations (pray often!).

 

Philippians 4:8

New International Version (NIV)
8 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.

 

Keri

What do you expect?

Angoscia
Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com) / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

As a therapist, I have found myself on many occasions discussing some of the reasons why clients experience problematic symptoms of depression, anxiety, and anger. Through those many discussions, it has become clear to me that such symptoms occur when there is a conflict in some area of our lives, and those conflicts occur when our expectations don’t meet up with reality. This kind of interference may be related to any area of wellness (such as emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, etc.).

Typically, it isn’t possible to change the reality of the conflict (we can’t make other people do what we think they should do, and we can’t make the world work how we think it ought to work). Acknowledging the fact that in reality, things don’t happen like we think they should can help us adjust our expectations and alleviate some of the conflict.

If we tell ourselves people should always be loving and kind, we will likely find ourselves indignant when we encounter situations in which people are not loving and kind. The reality is that we can’t make everyone be loving and kind. Though it would be wonderful, all people are not loving and kind. It would be preferable, but it is not realistic to expect such a thing to happen. The truth is, we live in a fallible world, surrounded by fallible people…like us.

With that all said, I’d like to encourage you to examine the expectations in your relationships. What do you expect of your loved ones? Do you expect your spouse to respond to difficult situations in the same manner you do? Do you expect your children to respond like miniature adults? Are your expectations realistic or idealistic?

It’s easy to get stuck on an idea of how we think things should be. Take, for example, fashion magazines. We’ve been so inundated by the images of flawless beauties that we strive to do what we can to attain the same characteristics. We’re pressured to diet, tan, dye, bleach, wax, paint, and cover. The reality is that the models are typically made up and photo-edited. It’s an illusion we’ve been bamboozled into perceiving as reality. In marriage, a husband may expect his wife to run the household like his mother did, or a wife may expect her husband to respond like the character in her favorite chick flick.

“Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 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.”

When you catch yourself expecting the unrealistic, challenge it with what you know to be true. “He should have known better!” Sometimes we just don’t know. “She should have had that done already.” She had a lot of things going on that required her attention. “I have to have it all finished tonight.” 20 years from now, your To-Do list for today isn’t going to matter- prioritize. “The kids should never misbehave.” Kids will test their boundaries, it’s how they learn.

Take time to just observe your families. Make an effort to examine your expectations of them. When you feel anxious, depressed, or angry, ask yourself if your expectations are realistic or if you need to make an adjustment. Satan is the father of lies, and will make any effort possible to distract you from what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Challenge the lies and focus on what you know to be true. Your loved ones will thank you!

Keri

1 Simple Tip for a Happier Household

SMiLE!
Toni Blay / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I was recently inspired to write an article about something that could make a quick difference to my readers. I spent some time thinking about something simple that anyone could do that would help increase peace and love in a home.

Then, I realized there was something I started doing that makes a world of difference for me. So, I knew what I wanted to share.

While what I am about to share is applied to life with children, the tip is not limited to interactions with children, so stick with me. I recently left my job in community mental health to stay home with my two boys rather than returning to work after maternity leave. My oldest son is almost 3 and is just about as strong-willed (or overly-determined, as I like to say) as they come. Some days, when the baby is screaming, and the 2-year-old is doing everything he can to get my attention back to him, it can be tough.

In those moments that I have to issue a consequence because of directions not being followed or because of disrespectful attitude, my sweet little boy can act pretty hateful. He tells me I’m mean (is that an innate reaction or something?? I don’t know where he got that!). He screams and cries. Most days it’s mild and short-lived, but regardless of how grumpy he gets with me during a tantrum, I’ve learned to do one thing.

Hug him.

It amazes me how, even when he is furiously mad at me because he’s not getting what he wants (I mean, seriously, wouldn’t you be upset if mommy wouldn’t let you pet the Betta?), he still responds to me when I hug him and tell him I love him.

“Yeah, you too, mommy.” All while still crying. Even so, he knows that when I say no, I mean it, AND that I love him even when he’s being grumpy with me.

So, my one simple tip for a happier household is this: 

Always Show Love. Especially when you are most frustrated.

Not only am I amazed when my screaming, tantrum-throwing child wraps his arms around me and lays his head on my shoulder, following my lead, I’m amazed at what a difference I feel. It helps me stay calmer.

To break it down, when you catch yourself feeling like you’re about to have a temper-tantrum/ break-down yourself (whether dealing with a child or adult):

1. Pray. Even better if you can invite the other person to pray with you. Praying as a first resort can help keep you more focused on being loving in any interaction.
2. Keep your voice tone as calm and loving as possible.
3. For the kids, get down to or below their eye-level.
4. Acknowledge how they may be feeling (ex. I’m so sorry you’re disappointed that you couldn’t do what you wanted. -Even children’s emotions are real and deserve to be respected, regardless of whether or not they make sense to adults.) and what they have been saying.
5. Hug him/her (if they will allow it).
6. Say sincerely, “I love you.” (if the kids are still mad and try to argue with you and tell you that you don’t love them… because they do things like that…. either refrain from commenting, or if you feel the need, simply repeat, “I Love You.” )
7. Remember, arguing in that moment will do nothing but escalate the situation. If there are behaviors that need to be addressed, try addressing them after the tantrum is done (unless they are in danger of hurting themselves, you/others, or property).

Yes. I am fully aware that it may sound cheesy or awkward (at first), but let me give you three good reasons why it can work.

  • Many arguments occur because the other person does not feel heard. Acknowledging what they are saying and how you think they may be feeling can help diffuse the situation and present an opportunity for any clarifications to be made.
  • Reminding your loved ones that you love them helps put things in perspective for both them and you.
  • It’s how God deals with us. Even when He tells us no, He will still comfort us and reassure us of His love. 

 

What ways have you all found to diffuse tense situations while showing love?

 

Keri

 

 

 

 

 

(**Please note: all articles here are written with the assumption that both parties in a relationship are making an effort to be loving. If you are in an abusive situation and do not feel safe, please seek outside help.)

Tantrums, Tantrums, Anywhere

 

Little Shopper
eeskaatt / Foter / CC BY-SA

It’s an all-too-common scene to be in the aisles of Wal-Mart and find that you’ve become an awkward witness to a child’s emotional breakdown as she makes her demands through shrieks, stomps, and tears. The seemingly helpless mom looks around with her face growing increasingly red by the moment, with the embarrassment of knowing there is an audience developing. Often, the mom will give in, and the child will happily cling to her new prize- the reward for an act well played.

Have you been there? Have you been the parent? Better yet, have you been the child?

If you’ve ever been in a public place with a child throwing a tantrum, I’m sure you’re familiar with the emotions that go along with such a situation. Embarrassment, anxiety, helplessness, frustration…. It doesn’t take much for panic to start to set in, so the result is often that the child gets his way in an attempt alleviate the anxiety of the parent. Unfortunately, what this does is teach the child what behaviors are effective when he sees something he wants. This lesson is then reinforced time and time again if the pattern is not consciously altered.

As adults, if we’ve learned to get our way through manipulating the emotions of others, we will run into conflict after conflict. Because we know God as our Heavenly Father, we naturally expect Him to act in ways similar to our earthly parents because that is the model of a “parent” we have been given. When we see something we want, even if it’s not good for us, we think we can stomp and cry and throw a fit until we get it, if that’s the method that has always worked for us in the past. When we still don’t get our way (or if we do and decide it’s not what we want), it is easy to conclude, “Well, God must not love me.”

God, as our Loving Heavenly Father, gives us very clear expectations and firm boundaries. He lets us know what is expected of us and what will happen if we don’t meet those expectations. THAT is what we, as parents, need to be modeling to our children. Children need to know clearly what is expected of them and what will happen if the expectations are not met – because we love them and want good things for them. If children are allowed to manipulate and gain control over their parents, they won’t have the maturity to know what to do with that control, and may develop behavioral problems, anxiety and depression, a lack of self-discipline and a lack of understanding of God’s wise, loving guidance.

In the same line of thinking, beware of your own spiritual temper tantrums. If you find that you are angry that God is not meeting your demands, maybe it’s time to get up off of the floor, brush yourself off, and thank God for giving you boundaries based on His infinite wisdom. He knows what is good for us and is not going to give us something harmful.

Matthew 7:9-11
New International Version (NIV)
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

What have been the most embarrassing locations for your children’s temper tantrums? When was the last time you threw a spiritual temper tantrum?