Posted on

Haircut Failure

Have you ever known you were making a mistake while you were doing it, and kept at it anyway? I think that pretty much sums up my daughter’s recent, unplanned haircut, for both of us. *SIGH*

Being a mother challenges the worrier in all of us. I’ve struggled with worry. I’m learning to take my worry to God and doing better at leaving it with Him. I hate the scary things in this world, but am learning to seek wisdom and understanding what things I can actually control, and to know when to pray and let it just be on my radar instead of blocking my entire path. And I think I can really see some growth in my heart.

2nd Birthday 014
Hair barely long enough to barrette at 2

Which is why my failure to keep perspective this weekend really threw me for a loop. A vain and silly worry, for sure, but I’ve always been afraid my daughter would cut her own hair. (Let’s just say many women have childhood trauma relating to this issue.) It took 3 1/2 years for her to have enough hair to even get her first “trim”. She only plays with scissors in supervised situations for this very reason. She is my only little girl and selfishly, I wanted her to have pretty hair for me to style.

When she came home from the neighbor’s house on Sunday, something wasn’t quite right. Then, I saw it, several chunks of her hair were missing. The more I looked the more pieces became evident. Someone had made several snips on both sides of her face. My instant emotion was not pretty.

I even heard God whisper, “How you react is important” and I barely paused. My reaction could have been worse, but it certainly did not reflect the grace and love of God, at least not at first. I cried and got loud. I knew it was wrong.

She immediately claimed the neighbor did it. And she isn’t a good liar, but, man, she had commitment, took us 30 minutes to get her to admit she did it.

While she was in time out for lying to us, my husband convicted me of losing control. He was kind and gracious, and acknowledged that I handled it much better than he would have expected from a couple of years ago, but that I still needed to calm down before saying anything more to her. God whispered to me again, “How you react is important.”

I didn’t want him to be right, but he was. And I told him so. We talked and processed, then called the kiddo back into the room. We set punishments for 1) cutting anything other than craft paper, 2) breaking the rules at a friend’s house, 3) lying about what happened, 4) trying to get her friend in trouble. Then she apologized to me and her dad. I apologized for being too upset about her hair when it really isn’t important. Then we prayed. She apologized to God, and so did I. We talked nose-to-nose, our tears mingling as we prayed. Then I scooped her up and wrapped her in love and forgiveness.

But I stayed sad inside. Her hair! I can’t fix it. She cut it in such a way that I don’t think anything but time can mend. And then I felt like even more of a failure for letting vanity be more important than setting a Godly example.

Proverbs 31:30 ESV  “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

If teaching her to be Godly is the goal, then demonstrating true beauty and obedience to God needs to be my default reaction. How can I go into a tailspin over something that really doesn’t matter? Especially when I know His truth.

Matthew 6:25 ESV  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

I’ve been told my value is in my appearance by every magazine, movie, and billboard. And now that I’ve kind of gotten control over most of my self-esteem/vanity monster, I realize that maybe I’ve just put energy into making her cute and adorable instead of myself. Looks like some time for more growth. God says not to be anxious over any of it, that what we really need, He will provide.

So I’ve spent a few days asking for God to help me grow in this area.

Psalm 119:37 ESV “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

And then I felt like a failure for not obeying God, for throwing away a chance to witness to my husband over a few (albeit importantly placed) locks of hair.

But then I was doing my Bible study, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, this morning and came across this verse.

Revelation 12:10 ESV  “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

The accuser lies to us day and night, whispering to us things like, “You’re a failure.”

IMG_4329
Side braid to hide the four different lengths

Well, I failed, I sinned, but I accepted correction. I prayed in front of my family for forgiveness. I am doing my best to change my heart about this issue and learn some new funky hair styles to hide the mismatched strands.

What did Jesus say to the adulteress (caught in the act) that people wanted to stone?

(vs. 10) “Has no one condemned you?”     John 8:11 ESV  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

That is the truth. I have to trust that I’m forgiven because He says I am. I have to learn and do better. Her hair will grow back very, very slowly. And side braids are cute, right?

Posted on

Purposefully Practical #1

I am trying to be honestly transparent in my posts, making sure every word is Godly and Biblical. But as I have been working on my parenting, I realized that a lesson about anger and temper is a wonderful tool to help our walk become more Godly; however, some practical tips may be more helpful at times. Like when your child is smearing her somehow naked body with soap in front of the sink when all you asked was for her to wash her hands. . . those are the moments I need real answers about how to parent without getting angry.

I wrote about Temper Tantrums just a couple of entries ago, about the power of letting go of our selfish nature and choosing not to be angry in our discipline. I can honestly say that nothing has changed my household more than refusing to get angry. Getting angry was about my kids, dogs, cat, husband being stumbling blocks to getting my way. Putting aside what I want and simply serving God has gentled me tremendously, but I am still working on practical solutions because in the moment of disobedience or stress, I need a plan so I know I can stay on track with controlling my temper and yet not allow her to rule the roost.

My daughter has had very little regulated schedule for the past two years. We have enjoyed that freedom (between my endless stream of doctor visits), but preparing her for more structured activities is important. Teaching her to follow rules, be on a schedule,  and be able to work independently on a task are some of the skills we worked on today.

Didn’t that sound fancy and formal? When I say skills we worked on, let me translate that for you, I mean I attempted to get my child to behave in any kind of appropriate way. Today the struggle was our daily routine. Getting her to eat breakfast has seriously been a struggle for years. I’ve been dreading her first days of organized school because she eats so doggone slowly.

Rather than wait for school bus days, I decided to start adjusting this behavior today. A year from now when it is her first day of out of the house school, we all will be better prepared.

Our day started off with a bowl of dry cereal (milk makes it too mushy to consume, apparently) and a handful of blueberries with her glass of milk. None of these foods are new or different or weird, but handing her breakfast food has traditionally been a battle. She hems and haws. She takes a bite or two and sits there. She stares into space, wants to watch TV while she eats, she talks incessantly, so we end up spoon feeding her just to get her to eat. If we take it away, she is starving ten minutes later.

After spooning two bites into her mouth, I decided that this was it. I wasn’t going to do this anymore. She is FOUR for-the-love-of-pete! I prayed to God and asked for some idea to change this behavior.

“Eating your breakfast is important. Food makes you grow healthy and strong. This is what I am serving today. You have 15 minutes to eat this cereal and drink your milk. When the timer beeps, if your food isn’t gone, you will have a consequence,” I said.

I was quiet and firm. Walking over to the microwave, I set the timer so she could watch it ticking down and went back to washing dishes and cleaning out coffee pots, etc. She didn’t say another word. She ate. At 9:18 to go, she shouted, “DONE!” I praised her and kissed her. “Good job! You worked really hard to get your breakfast finished quickly. I hope you eat like this all the time.” Beaming with pride, she hugged me.

Then I sent her to brush her teeth, which she did for two minutes, then came back for her next set of directions. Going to her room to make her bed took awhile. She was in there playing (imagine that!). After a few re-directions, I told her I was going to set the timer for five minutes. She started crying hysterically, jumping up and down. God grabbed me and told me to listen to her emotions, not ignore them.

I brushed away her tears and asked her what was the matter. She was afraid she couldn’t do it in that time, so I doubled the time, assuring her I believed she could easily make her bed. I kissed her and sent her running laughing to make her bed. She came and tagged me at two minutes. Then I sent her back to pick up her toys, she was back in another two minutes. She even told me not to reset the timer, she could get it done. In a total of four minutes, she had picked up all her toys and made her bed. It was like magic. Amazing.

IMG_4280-3.JPGI gave her clear expectations that were developmentally appropriate for tasks that were not new. I made racing the timer fun, giving her pride in her accomplishment. She felt empowered instead of over powered. Mommy WIN!!

Discipline is crucial, not to create automatons, but to create children who are respectful of authority, kind to others, empathetic, loving, obedient, and ultimately self-sufficient and confident. Learning how to use calm, consistent discipline in my home has been a game changer for me, but sometimes the day-to-day issues that arise take some ingenuity to solve without resorting to the negative behaviors of my past, especially when her temper is still wildly in play. I have to remember she is 4, that her coping skills need guiding so that someday she can deal with her emotions just as easily as she made her bed today, a skill that four months ago was new. Maybe in a few more months, my ability to be quiet and calm will be second nature to me as well.

At least today, God ruled my heart which allowed me to deal with her attitudes and issues appropriately. Using the timer even helped her eat more quickly at dinner when she wants to talk so much that she ends up not eating, which made daddy happy, too.

Update – day two – she ate, made her bed, picked up without actually having to set the timer, just had to ask her if she needed one. I recognize all children aren’t motivated the same way, but most children will respond to something fun. Seek out how your child has fun and use that to motivate him/her.

Setting a timer, making a task feel like a game, can be a tremendous motivator for us too. Have a task you’ve been dreading? Set a timer or stopwatch to see how quickly you can get it done. I will do this with dishes or laundry sometimes to help me get through it quickly.

Like Mary Poppins once sang, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” We like to use music and a timer to make unpleasant tasks fun. Any ideas that have worked at your house?

Posted on

Why Should You Stop Throwing Temper Tantrums

My temper tantrums? As parents, we don't often think about our tantrums, but I've grown increasingly convicted about my anger, especially towards my daughter.

My temper tantrums? As parents, those generally aren’t the tantrums we think about. But over the past few years, I have grown increasingly convicted about my anger, especially towards my daughter. And one verse today just wrecked me.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

And I want to come to you from that place right now: not a place of having conquered, but still conquering, sometimes still failing. But I see God’s work in my heart as I grow more and more.

My temper tantrums were damaging my family. Yours are, too.

God has called us to stop throwing temper tantrums now.

I’ve been trying to rewrite this post for days, but God was calling me to go deeper than I even understood yesterday.

We’re missing a correct perspective on the importance of the children in our homes. The worldly view either elevates children to the masters of the home or diminish them as satellites to the central parents.

Both perspectives grieve God.

God should be the center of our homes as the sun is the center of the solar system. When the sun is in its rightful place, all the planets are exactly where they should be. If the sun changed by even the tiniest degree, the planets would not hold their perfect orbits. Chaos would reign in the galaxy.

When God isn’t the center of your home and heart, chaos reigns. When you’re the angry mom (or dad), fear of provoking your temper changes the dynamic for every moment of your day. Even the most joyful moments are colored by the terrible knowledge that the peace is temporary.

Is that really the message we want for our homes, spouses and children-that peace isn’t real or permanent?

Hebrews 12:14 ESV  Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

How we live in God’s perfect peace with holiness is how others can see the Lord. How much more so should we live to demonstrate that peace for those God has given us the responsibility to love and raise.

This is the verse that just wrecked me today.

Matthew 18:10 ESV “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

I had to just stop and weep over how much I imagine my daughter’s angels have protected her from me.

I stand here with you today, grieving the temper tantrums I have thrown, walking beside you in changing our hearts.

Honestly, I still struggle with my temper at least once a day. Most days, I win the battle now, but some I don’t.  I’d rather not publicly admit that anger is an issue in my heart and home, but I’ve decided if my honesty can help other moms, my brokenness is better than staged perfection.

I stand with you, grieving my temper tantrums, walking beside you in changing our hearts. Click To Tweet

Being a mom is filled with lots of joy. My daughter’s giggles and snuggles cheer my heart, and I love watching her grow in her faith and become her own little person.

But parenting is also filled with HUGE mountains of frustration.

I swear, leaving the house is absolutely Kryptonite to my normally sweet child. “Go put on your socks” is met with a raging discourse against socks or a Supreme Court worthy debate about wearing cowboy slippers to the park.

“Yes, I picked up my room,” is almost certainly a lie.

(#MomProTip I discovered if I want her to play quietly in her room, send her to clean it. She won’t clean much but will pull out lots of toys and play.)

And frustrations build. Momming is enough to drive anyone crazy, full of routine requests, fighting the same battles over and over and over. Add the stress of housekeeping, bills, work, difficult relationships (even marriage), and I start to fall apart.

I’ll feel like I’m barely holding my Hindenburg emotions together with duct tape and the next frustration rips through my false calm like flames.

For me, the first step in healing came from realizing that the root cause of my temper tantrums is sin.

SIN? Really?!? How is it MY sin when my child doesn’t obey?

God expects us to have emotions, not be ruled by them. When we let anger overcome us, we are not demonstrating fruit of a Spirit-filled believer.

Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV “Be angry and do not sin . . . and give no opportunity to the devil.”

When we throw temper tantrums we damage the trust our children have in us, in our love, in our stability, in our faith.

God expects us to have emotions, not be ruled by them. Temper tantrums damage relationships. Click To Tweet

We give Satan footholds into the lives of our children. With our temper tantrums, we build weak places in their hearts that Satan can exploit.

I know that Satan will use any opening I give him. Totally unacceptable! So, I had to root out where my anger comes from. Primarily stress, pride, and lack of self-control. Yep, sin.

We hold onto stress like it’s our human right to explode during difficult circumstances, but God’s answer is not to.

In the calm moments of motherhood, It’s easy to write this, but when I have a headache and my kid won’t stop talking long enough to eat her dinner, it’s much harder to demonstrate self-control over the frustrations.

How Do temper tantrums come from selfishness and pride?

I wanted today to go my way. I wanted to be on time, or she asked for more of my attention than I wanted to give at that second.

And I used to snap.

Living with the me of the past had to be miserable. No one could anticipate my mood or my threshold for the day. I am truly grieved over the temper tantrums that ruled my life for years.

I am truly grieved over the temper tantrums that ruled my life for years.

Every day I would wake up and promise myself to be better, and most days I would fail, robbing me and my family of joy and peace.

I couldn’t control myself because there was an anger born of selfishness inside me. Until I began to die to that selfishness, I wasn’t able to be different.

I had to see others, including my children, as more important than myself. I had to grow in humility.

Philippians 2:3 ESV “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

God’s highest commandment to love others comes before keeping house, writing a blog, folding laundry.

Sometimes, I am still tempted when faced with blatant disobedience, but I am more often able to reflect humility and look at their sin with grace and compassion, without having to join them in anger.

James 1:19-20 ESV “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

The purpose of my life as a wife and mother is to produce righteous fruit in my life, in the lives of those with whom I fellowship, and the lives of my husband and children.

The anger of man doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.

So what are we supposed to do?

My temper tantrums? As parents, we don't often think about our tantrums, but I've grown increasingly convicted about my anger, especially towards my daughter.

Psalm 4:4 ESV / “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.”

If you’re angry, go sit on your bed, think about your own heart, and be quiet!

I love that – God invented time out.

Taking a few moments to get myself under control in prayer always changes my attitude, setting aside my selfishness, exchanging it for God’s peace.

Temper Tantrums? Psalm 4:4 - God invents time out. Go sit on your bed & search your own heart. Click To Tweet

When I quietly sit and reflect, God reminds me how He loves them and His perspective. He shows me how to solve the conflict over being right.

It sounds too good to be true. Just pray?

It’s where I start. Prayer opens my heart to hearing God. Then through scripture, His wisdom reaches into my life: guiding, convicting, changing.

In this communion with Him, we are granted His peace.

Philippians 4:7 ESV “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the face of heartbreaking struggles or mind-numbing frustrations, the peace of God is beyond my ability to explain, but is so real.

I’ve felt it, wash over my heart like silk, changing my perspective and emotions in an instant.

With joy and thankfulness for my full life, I ask to have the correct attitude toward this season as wife and mother and set aside my anger.

God has been working on my temper tantrums for years now.

I can safely say He’ll be done with me about five seconds before never, but I know I’m making perfectly imperfect progress every time I pray for His peace, patience, and maybe some time alone to pee.

[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Enter your email address to get more encouragement for the modern Christian mom!”]

Posted on

It isn’t the rule that matters

Today, my daughter needed to tell me something while I was in the bathroom. We’ve instituted a rule that if the door to the bathroom is closed, she is to knock before entering and/or wait, unless she has an emergency or something is really important. She’s four, so we give her some latitude with what she considers important (i.e. her brother holding a toad in the living room), but today she by-passed three closed doors to get to me. Opening all of them without knocking. So far she has only done this with me, but the rule is partially in place to avoid her walking in on her father or nearly adult brothers, or heaven forbid, a guest.

She stood at the bathroom door, peeking in at me. “I need to tell you sunthing.” I sat there, trying to decide what to do. Her little voice  was so quiet and sweet.

Was it life or death to make her follow this rule? Part of me said, just listen to her, what will it hurt? It will be faster just to hear her out.

But then I realized, that it wasn’t important to make her follow this specific rule because it was that important of a rule, but because if she doesn’t learn to follow the little rules, she won’t learn to follow any of them.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Despite being a rule follower myself, I realized I’ve been letting a lot of little ones slip around here. Instead of holding her to the rules, I try to be nice, taking circumstances into consideration. However, she doesn’t understand the complicated mental processes I’m going through when I decide to let a rule slide for a single circumstance, all she sees is that she can’t count on the rules, that I’m not consistent.

Instead of being nice, I’m really being incredibly unfair. She doesn’t know how to behave because there is no consistency. The result is a lot of discord and disobedience, frustration and anger. I decided that making her follow every single rule every single time might not be right, but I need to be way more consistent. Teaching her what to expect from me every time will help her feel safe and secure in a home that has structure with logical consequences. If we are our children’s first Bibles, first glimpses of God in how we reflect Him, I need to be as Christlike as I know how to be each day, and part of learning to be Christlike is to be consistent.

Hebrews 13:8 ESV “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He never changes. His ways are all the time, for everyone, even when, in His mercy, He created exceptions to the rules and sent His son to redeem us from the penalty for our sin. All we have to do to know what He expects is to read the instructions ( i.e. the BIBLE). When I finally came out of the bathroom, after ascertaining that her “sunthing” was neither emergent nor important, she happily told me some little adorable animal fact she had seen on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I didn’t have to get upset or raise my voice. I just had to be consistent. This is the rule. This is the expectation. I will happily hear you in a moment, please be patient. She walked away knowing I cared, I want to listen to her, and knowing what I wanted her to do. Wow.

Later today, she tried to act up while a friend was over, throwing a fit over the guest child’s toy. I was focused on our conversation, but took the time to put her into time out, to make sure she was sitting quietly, not shouting at me from the step, then to send her to her room when she couldn’t control herself. She started to throw a fit, but when I counted to three, she ran to her room, sat in her rocker and waited for me to come get her. Being consistent, gently firm, and unwavering helped her understand what I expected and how she should behave. Considering that she went from laying on the floor in front of the stairs yelling that she had no toys to play with to sitting quietly in her chair waiting for me to tell her she could come out, I call that a parenting win. I didn’t have to get angry. Her failure to comply was her problem. I just had to be consistent.

Most parenting experts can tell you, all it takes is ONE exception to an expectation, and children understand all bets are off, whether that expectation is giving up a pacifier or sleeping in his/her own bed. If a parent caves once, children know to exploit that weakness. I’m fallible, I’m weak, but I have to be more consistent because I love her, and want her to know what that means. As an educator, I know I know better, but I didn’t realize how much I had been letting slip in the name of “kindness.” How hard would it be to worship and follow a god like I’ve been acting? I’ve been holding her accountable to a rule, except when I don’t feel like it, then getting angry when the rule isn’t followed the next time.

Thank God for GOD. His law is forever. We can understand who God is and who he calls us to be.

Luke 16:17 ESV “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

I’ve read most of the Bible at least once, some bits way more times, and some parts, I’m working my way through. But when you put it all together in context, with understanding of the WHOLE scripture and the Holy Spirit, God becomes very clear. He is who He is, all the time. If he calls us to be transformed from the ways of this world into His ways, isn’t being consistent and faithful part of becoming more Christlike?

Hebrews 10:23 ESV “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

God is faithful, always. We can know if we confess our sins and believe, that we are forgiven. We are called His sons and daughters. He gives us that to KNOW, not to hope in or assume, but to know because He is faithful. We understand our responsibility and the infinite grace God shares because of who He is.

1 John 5:13 ESV

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So that we may KNOW that when we believe, when we act in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, that we have been redeemed and saved. Shouldn’t my daughter be able to know who I am, what I expect from her, all the time, or at least as much as humanly possible? and to know thy my discipline is guidance and love just as we know to accept God’s discipline (see Hebrews 12) as it brings us closer to sanctification. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 ESV “God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God is our Faithful Father, calling us, guiding us, disciplining us, restoring us in gentleness, being hard when our hearts are hard, but always holding to the same standard, ‘do not sin.’ I have a hard enough time not sinning when I know what the rules are, when the expectations are clear. I feel a bit ridiculous for expecting my daughter to follow fluid guidelines as if she could read my mind, knowing which time I “really meant it.”

Turns out, it isn’t the rule that really matters. It is choosing to have a few fair rules and enforcing them consistently with love, mercy, and compassion hopefully developing a child who knows how to love others as Christ has called us, and yet knows when to question an unrighteous rule because she truly believes something is wrong, not just questioning and rebelling against everything because she doesn’t have a firm foundation.

Matthew 7:24 ESV

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Another day of making sure my actions, my prayers, and my words reflect the words of Christ to teach her to build her life on the Rock because He is always faithful.

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf
Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf

Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf

Posted on

Welcome to the Club

It finally happened. I've officially joined the club of "mmm, she's awfully quiet in there . . . WHAT DID YOU DO?" moms. Now I had to decide how to discipline.

It finally happened. I’ve officially joined the club of “mmm, she’s awfully quiet in there . . . WHAT DID YOU DO?” moms. Now I had to decide how to discipline.

My mom joined the club when I was two and covered my crying sister with talcum powder, then made tiny powder clouds all over the upstairs of our house. My parents never got all the powder out of the deeply grooved tile floor and still blame me for my sister’s asthma.

It is my earliest memory.

I’ve actively avoided joining this club. We read Olivia as a cautionary tale. I hide ALL the Sharpies. All to no avail. I’m a card-carrying member now.

It finally happened. I've officially joined the club of "mmm, she's awfully quiet in there . . . WHAT DID YOU DO?" moms. Now I had to decide how to discipline.

A couple of days ago, she made her bed all by herself. I went in to praise her for doing such a good job independently, and then I saw it.

Up and down the top and side of both her headboard and footboard, were bright gashes everywhere, all over her espresso stained bed. Pairs of gashes .  .  . wait, those are TEETH marks?!?! Oh my child, what did you do?

I was instantly furious. I froze in sheer horror at the damage she just did to a very expensive bed. And I prayed for guidance because I felt all sorts of crazy, but I knew that this was a defining moment. I could parent her or punish her.

Despite my anger, I prayed for guidance, knowing I could punish or parent. Click To Tweet
Ephesians 4:26  NIV “In your anger do not sin”

The Bible doesn’t tell us not to be angry, but not to sin in our anger.

In fact, losing my temper would be more serious than her behavior because I know better: Because I’m the adult, and I’m the one calling myself a disciple of Christ, Because my actions could be a witness of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life.

2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I am actively working on self-control, assessing and changing my default reaction when my emotions are overwhelmed.

The true test of faith is demonstrating it when life doesn't go according to our plan. Click To Tweet

It is easy to behave like a Christian when everything goes correctly. The true test of faith is living it when life doesn’t go according to plan. Being able to parent her kindly in this moment would be a huge testament to the change God is working in my heart.

Proverbs 13:24 ESV “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Most people, Christian or not, are familiar with this verse. Some people use it to justify abusive punishments.  I do not. As a parent, I try to use the least amount of discipline/force necessary to correct my child because I want her to focus on the instruction, not the angry mom.

Make the discipline instructive, designed to correct the behavior, not to alleviate your anger.

Make the discipline instructive, designed to correct behavior, not to alleviate your anger. Click To Tweet

Ephesians 6:4 ESV “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Sometimes adults forget how their little minds work. We forget the logic of being four. We treat them like little adults, which frustrates and hurts, instead of leading them with age appropriate discipline and guidance.

When I was five, I actively believed that people learned to fly as adults, despite never having seen anyone fly in real life, and was determined to make my parents so proud by learning early. I would run and jump down the 14 step wooden staircase, crashing into the wall at the bottom, convinced that once I could just navigate the turn, I would swoop out to the impressed cheers of my mom and dad.

But it was also supposed to be a surprise, so every time I crashed, I just told them I fell. It was only during an adult conversation about this memory, my dad confessed that he thought, perhaps, I had special needs and considered carpeting the stairs to avoid head injuries from all of my falling. I think he was more convinced I had issues after I told him what I’d really been doing.

So my child definitely has the right mother, and I certainly needed reminding before deciding how to discipline her that she might have been ‘trying to fly’.

So in that moment, I prayed, just the act of asking for guidance, really helped me step outside the emotion. And I marched her tiny hiney to time out, which is also our bottom step.fleming_timeout-225x300

I was upset, I cried a little, told her I was very upset about the damage to her bed, and she needed to sit in time out until Daddy could come talk with her.

And I walked away. I prayed to use this as a teaching opportunity because the damage was already done. No yelling or fussing was going to undo her chewing (?!) all over her bed.

Deuteronomy 6:7-8 ESV “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise . . .”

Teaching our children God’s ways should be in everything we do, should be as intertwined with our lives as our breath.

I contemplated what lesson was important here. Was the lesson to not chew on our furniture? Or to respect our belongings? Or to obey her parents?

I could easily have made sure she never chewed on furniture again, but what I really wanted to teach her is how to make a mistake and learn from it and how to ask for guidance when she is tempted to do something she thinks is naughty.

I let her sit in time out for a few minutes while Daddy finished his chore outside. I briefed him on what happened then followed as he walked her into her room and talked with her.

“What did you do?” He said, exaggerating his dismay.

“I scraped my teeth all over my bed.” she answered solemnly, a tiny quiver to her voice, her big brown eyes and pouty lip daring him to be angry with her cute little self.

“Why did you do that?” daddy asked, incredulously.

Then quite matter-of-factly, she answered, “I was sharpening my teeth.”

I had to cover my face and turn away because I was laughing. I’m not sure which was funnier her beaver explanation or listening to my husband’s science lecture carefully explaining why humans don’t need to sharpen their teeth.

So now what? We needed to make the punishment appropriate and instructive instead of merely punitive.

As daddy dabbed stained the spots to make them less noticeable, we talked about taking care of our things to enjoy them longer. Maybe going without some of her favorite things would help her understand. I got a small bag and asked her to select her favorite toys to go into time out. She carefully filled the bag, explaining to me why each one was treasured.

I made sure she knew the toys would come back in a few days, but that it was a lesson in why we take care of our things and that she needed to remember that we don’t destroy things on purpose.

Something about my first memory is that it was my first spanking. I had been trying to help my sister stop crying when I discovered the fun powder clouds. I didn’t understand I had coated the entire upstairs of our house. I couldn’t see that.

All I could see was that my dad was angry, and I didn’t understand why. I got a spanking and stood in a corner. I remember staring at that yellow wall, crying, angry, wondering what I did. I was only two.

I don’t want her to remember our anger. I want her to remember a conversation and fair punishment. She was sad. She asked me in her tiny voice, “Are you dista-pointed in me?” breaking my heart into a million pieces. She said sorry, and I forgave her. She rushed into me, begging for an embrace, knowing that no matter what she does, I still love her and will wipe away her tears.

Galatians 6:1 ESV “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

We needed to restore her in a spirit of gentleness. The bible has lots of verses about discipline, but this one feels like it is just for me, reminding me to be gentle, not to be tempted to allow my anger and indignation to spiral out of control.

Hebrews 12:11 ESV “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

God disciplines us. If you read the rest of Hebrews 12, the passage basically says to rejoice in God’s discipline because it means we are truly His, that He is treating us as his children. The fruit of Biblical discipline and a Godly reaction is redemption, salvation, and righteousness.

She needs to learn discipline and instruction in many areas to grow into a Godly woman. That is our job. Her beaver antics were an opportunity for me to teach her, and for me to remember what the world looked like through four-year-old eyes.

If I punish because I am angry, she won’t learn the right lesson. She’ll learn to not get caught, instead of how much we learn from failing. I really want her to learn that everyone makes mistakes and how to make better choices in the future. I need her to know the joy and freedom of forgiveness.

When we got her toys out of time out this morning, we talked about what she learned. She asked me if I was still mad. I pulled her gently in my lap, kissing her cheek as we talked. I said that I was still sad about the damage to the bed, but that I stopped being angry when I forgave her. Her smile was priceless. I asked her what she learned. She told me that she learned not to chew on things, not to be naughty, and to listen to God’s voice in her heart.

I feel like I learned just as much about God’s love, redemption, and forgiveness as she did. What a wondrous Lord we have, how miraculously He works all things together for our good, even a child sharpening her teeth on her bed was a great lesson in love for all of us.