3 Ways to Master Angry Words

3 Ways to Master Angry Words

He was in tears and I was apologizing. Again. Impatience and frustration had clouded my judgement for the third time in 24 hours. I retreated to my bedroom and swung in my hanging macramé chair, twisting and twirling as I silently cried out to God asking, “How will I ever tame my tongue? Is it even possible?” Then I heard it. God in his characteristic simplicity whispered into the secret places of my heart:

Stop talking.

As I twirled and swirled in my chair, I rolled the words around in my head and I thought, “What? Like a vow of silence monks used to do in the 1500s? Impossible. I am a busy mama.” But the thought brought a lightness to my heart I could not describe and before I knew it, I had decided I would try it. What I did not know is that I would be amazed.

Raising a family is not easy. Being overstimulated and overwhelmed means you may be short-tempered too. But does that mean life has to be tainted with angry words? That it just is what it is, or is there something more? I vote for more. My God does the impossible and his word says, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.”

When we use food for the wrong reasons, we fast. When we develop an unhealthy relationship with social media, we pause our accounts and delete our apps. And if we battle an unhealthy relationship with words, we stop talking.

I know this last one sounds bizarre. Especially as it is coming from a mama who runs with five little children all day. But this is such an incredible and simple strategy I had to pass it along to you. Here are 3 simple steps to mastering angry words:

Choose a Time

Create Hand Signals

Stop Talking

Choose a Time

Pick a time that requires interaction. I chose to begin with one hour. Choose the hour before school or before dinner. Your purpose is to interact with your family without allowing angry words to get in the way. Tell your family BEFORE you begin. Be honest by apologizing for using angry words and tell them that you are going to do something new. “Soon I will not be using words and it will be your turn to speak and my turn to listen.”

Create Hand Signals

Life is still in swing and you will need a way to communicate with your family. Luckily, they say 90% of communication is nonverbal. Before you begin, create with your family some basic hand signals to communicate things like, “time to go” or “time to eat” or “bedtime.” Keep it simple. Personally, I tend to talk with my hands so my kids already knew the motion for “hurry up.” Ha!

Stop Talking

Warn them first, then zip it friend. No talking, humming, singing, emailing, texting or journaling. You are silencing your words and that means all of them. Spoken and written. This is your time to receive input, not give create output. (I highly recommend this for prayer, too!)

What should I expect?

Here are a few things that happened while I practiced fasting my words:

  • The kids tuned into my every move. No more telling them to do something 2-3 times, ending in a screamed instruction. They had to watch me for cues and they were so responsive!
  • They handled their own squabbles. Oh, they tried to get me to be judge between them. But since I wasn’t speaking, it empowered them to solve their own disputes. Praise Jesus.
  • The kids were empowered to demonstrate all they had learned. They have been trained well. But for some reason, my kids love to be told every move to make. This was a chance for them to show me how mature and capable they have become.
  • Rest. You may not realize it, but sometimes us mamas contribute to the chaos more than we realize. Choosing to put a pause on speaking gave me a rest from the endless questions, the repeated instructions and the the mental process of always directing and responding. I demonstrated my love through hugs and kisses and saw my family with a new perspective.
  • No regrets! Best of all, God spared my family from my angry words. I distinctly remember 4 incidents I would have prematurely reacted to, but in my silence I had no regrets. My original goal had been one hour, but it was such a lovely experience I ended up doing 2.5 hours.
  • More walking. You can’t yell at your kids to come in, come down stairs, or come to dinner… so there is that. It’s a small price to pay.

Not Today COVID.

Rockstar.

This rockstar drinking a chocolate milkshake is my Grandma. And I love her so much.

She came to MO in a covered wagon from Kansas as a five year old.

She lived through the depression and wore a dress made from a bright-yellow flour sack material. (Yes, they bought the flour for food and then used the soft material of the bag for clothes.)

She witnessed our nation unify and the young and old sign up for World War II to fight against Communism and injustice.

As a newlywed she lived in a Colorado logging camp that had formerly been used as a German Prisoner of War camp.

She supported Billy Graham from his beginning to end.

She watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon.

She has three children, 6 grandchildren and lots of great grandchildren (Sorry family. I lost count of us all. But she hasn’t.).

Before this Christmas she looked pale and weak. So we took her to the doctor and found out she had only 40% of her blood due to an ulcer. Then they diagnosed a UTI. Then they diagnosed COVID.

Yes, COVID. I thought – we all thought – we will never see her again. Barred from the hospital, we prayed we would see grandma again. Hug her one last time. That somehow, this combination of living on 40% of blood, an infection plus the coronavirus would not take her.

My heart cried out, God! She has given too much, loved too many to die alone!

She will be 91 years old this spring and I am happy to say she is still kicking! Which is what I told her. To which she quipped right back, “Ha! Well, I’m not kicken’ very high!”

Marveling at God’s grace upon her, His answer to our prayers, I asked her, “How did you get through it all? It was just so much.”

She answered, “You just do what you gotta do until you get through it. Anytime you face something new you do not have any experience with it, so you just do it. Then, when you make it through, okay now you have some experience. But until then, you just face it and do it until it’s done and behind you.”

Grit. Thats how I sum it up. Her generation has grit.

I asked her what was the hardest part about the last several weeks. She said, “Being alone. It’s hard to be alone. But I see myself back in my apartment and seeing you all again and that’s what I am working toward.”

Hope. Plain and simple. Hope gives us the strength to do what we need to, to grab hold and push foward until we make it through. It is for hope we persevere.

Hope doesn’t beg for relief or whine about discomfort. Hope doesn’t depend on ease. Hope is the joy set before us. An expectation that rallies the soul and urges us on.

What is the hope you are clinging to today? What propels you forward?

Jesus is the hope my Grandma clings to. He is the hope I cling to. Unmoveable. Unchangeable. Eternal. A rock in the storm. A beacon in the darkness.

Grandma, I am excited for more of your stories and to give you another hug soon. And yes, I’ll bring you another milkshake!

Planting Seeds

I have always loved flowers, and I would open a flower shop if it meant I didn’t need to work every holiday.

Today Grace, Ruth, Gabe and I planted some seeds. I prefer perennials because I love to see them grow and multiply each year. They are such a beautiful surprise when the chill of winter wears off and my flowers pop up.

So, today after homeschool – last week woo hoo!! – we trotted around the yard finding sunny spots where Daddy wouldn’t weed-eat them down. (It’s okay Babe, I forgive you for weed-eating my lilies of the valley.) In my head, I envision mounting a blue bird house and placing it in the middle of my Lupine patch. How fun!        …for the cats.

A little sun, soil, water, time and prayer will tell the tale. What was today’s choice seeds? Delphiniums and Lupines. They are similar, but the Lupine you see up top and the Delphiniums are depicted below. Personally, I like to buy the seeds because they are cheaper and we get to watch them grow. Besides, the process adds weight to our science lessons.

Random Thoughts with Leslie

New Phase

I cannot believe how this family has changed. I have a friend who just had a baby, and she made the comment “I know you are way past this stage, but I still think it’s fun to see.” Gosh! Am I? Have I crossed over that line, where I am officially past that baby stage? Seems surreal to think so. But I don’t know, I do still need concealer. And someone told me that you know the baby phase is over when you stop using concealer.

However, my two youngest turned 4 this month!! How did that happen? They are obsessed with princesses, unicorns and fluffy skirts of every kind. They start preschool in the Fall and are such big girls now. Looking back at this last year, when they were three, it has been my favorite so far. All the snuggles, all those moments that I got them to myself before they run off to school and life speeds up to a blur again.

Now that I think about it, life was a complete blur (hello name of my blog!) for so long. Five solid years full of: 3 cross-country moves, pregnancies, 5 babies being born, houses being bought and sold, jobs being changed, endless renovations. It’s really no wonder life didn’t slow down until we landed here and the older kids began school. I have a feeling this slower pace is what allowed me to cherish my time with them more. And in some ways I sense that our previous busy-ness prevented me from cherishing that 3-year old stage with the other kids. Sorry Esther, Gabriel and Micah.

New Schedule

Now, COVID19 has effected its own changes to life. My slower pace is even slower and if I were honest I may be enjoying this a little bit too much. But, I am an unapologetic, introverted homebody. My friends know it. I know it. My husband knows it. When life slammed to a halt 6 weeks ago I may have done a jig in my brain in terms of my own schedule being cleared. Well, I did after 3 weeks of adjusting to zero personal space.

I do miss my friends though. Not one to rely on social media, I miss their faces in real time. It is possible I may be guilty of popping my minivan trunk once a week in random parking lots and partaking in literal tailgate parties with a coffee in my hand. Stop your hateful thoughts. We stay 10 feet apart in open air. It’s a throw back to wagon days. Except we circle the vans instead.

Family Sports

What have we done to occupy ourselves? Taken a lot of walks in the woods. Until I lost half the kids and almost called the police. Apparently they are part homing pigeon. When I finally committed to calling in the authorities I found them pilfering through an intended Easter package on the front porch. Guess my lesson on “How to get home if you are lost in the woods: Landmarks” was better than I thought and they decided to put it into practice instead of waiting on their slower siblings. We haven’t been on a walk in the woods again, but we did get some pigs to occupy our old chicken coop and that has been it’s own sport of sorts.

Pencils

Homeschooling is for rock stars. It never ceases to amaze me how fast I can bring my children to tears over pencils. But really, I don’t want the pointy end waving around my face. I just don’t. And why do we use the wooden ones? Why not mechanical? Sharpening them has become one of those homeschool side hustles I need power tools for.

Small and Large Victories

And Gabe and Micah gave their hearts to the Lord! Esther, Gabriel and Micah were all baptized on Easter morning right here in our creek. So special. Best Easter ever. These days at home have been trying, but this up close and personal approach to life has opened so many doors to amazing conversations and life-changing decisions. Thank you Lord for this moment to refocus as a family.

Continued Changes due to Coronavirus

I cooked a lot before, now even more. It astounds me how much food the kids go through now that they are home all day long. Once or twice a week we support a locally owned business by ordering dinner. But since we are not allowed to go in, they deliver it curbside.

Spending more time together as a family means my community that was once outside these walls, is now entirely within these walls. This has brought us closer as a family physically and relationally, but exposed our weaknesses as well.

Since we do not go to church, we worship here in our living room. This week Gabriel accepted Christ into his heart. Esther and he are to be baptized this coming weekend – Easter weekend – in the creek. Obviously, it won’t be a big hullabaloo like before but I do think the intimacy makes it more special.

In some ways, life reminds me of our intense baby stage when my house was never clean, I rarely had time to work out or put makeup on, I lived in leggings and my mom-bun hair was washed every three or so days. It is was as uncomfortable then as it is now. However, I have become more familiar with each of my children. Strengths. Weaknesses. Preferences. I have also become more familiar with my own.

Part of me mourns the loss of time in the mornings with Grace and Ruth before they leave for school next year. Now I am fully occupied with homeschooling and they play by themselves. But, I am so grateful we are all healthy, home and together.

I really believe we will look back at this time in our lives to see this particular season of loss and disruption as a time when God pruned away our non-essentials and grew our faith, our love and our family. This is a call to fix our focus on things most important. It is a chance to know God as Provider, Prince of Peace, Healer, Comforter, and Friend. To know family as community.

I am choosing to dive in deep to this unprecedented time, when the world seems to have paused for a moment and the rush and race of life has slowed down on the home front. Praying for fresh strength to steward this season with wisdom and grace.

Living Room Worship

What does it look like for a family to come together for worship in their living room? Is it possible? I would LOVE to hear what you are doing in your own home during this season of social distancing.

In the spirit of adjusting, my family and I changed things up a bit by holding our first “family worship” in our living room. It was bare boned and minimal in its simplicity. It was also the most special thing we have ever done as a family and I wanted to share it with you because you can do this too!

First, we turned off all the distractions and we each found a personal spot in the living room to give us some space. We chose two of our favorite worship songs and we sang them together as they played from my phone. We raised our hands and clapped along just like we do at church.

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”
-Psalm 63:3-4

At first, I could see the kids felt awkward. The close proximity of living room worship left us all feeling exposed. No darkened room, no fog machine, no stage lights. All the props we hide behind were gone and it was just us in a small circle. If I could sum it up in a word I would choose:

Vulnerable

After worship we read from Ephesians 1:3-14. Then we talked about it line by line. We asked and answered questions. We talked about grace and faith, the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a child of God and how we become one.

Then we circled up and talked about all the things we were worried about or needed God to do in our lives. We held hands and prayed. We prayed for the virus to stop, for God’s protection over our family, for our friends and community, for God’s provision and that everyone in our family would choose to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind.

And that was it. It probably took us less than 30 minutes, but I could feel the presence of God among us. Our kids need more of this. Our family needs more of this.

In a normal week we talk about God and we answer their questions, pray bedtime prayers and practice memory verses. They see us reading our Bibles and listening to worship. It sounds good, but is it enough? Or does God have more for us?

1 Corinthians 2:9

No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what god has prepared for those who love him

The difference between life pre-coronavirus and now? Vulnerability. We came together as a family in praise, worship, teaching and prayer. We didn’t split a part for our own instruction, but became one.

God has used this social distancing to lead us as a family into a new level of faith and pursuit of his presence. By stripping away the distractions, bells and whistles we found a pearl of rare value right there in our living room.

Try it my friend. It is awesome.

Tell us what your family worship looks like now.

Quarantine…Gift or Torture?

At home with your family? Isolated from friends and community? Actually, God designed family to be the epitome of communal strength and enduring relationship. Family can do more than offset the isolation of social distancing; if you let it. You know, those people you live with that are driving you crazy? Those are your people.

These are the relationships that continue far beyond Covid-19 and they will be the ones you share all the memories with in thirty years about what happened when you ran out of toilet paper and how a state representative told people to use a blow dryer to heat up their nose to keep from getting sick. You’ll probably be telling the next generation too.

Here’s a raw truth: isolation is detrimental. Isolation leaves us at the mercy of our own dark and deceitful heart and – heaven forbid – the news channels. The enemy has free reign to twist and manipulate our thoughts and memories when no one is there to be a sounding board of truth; no one to keep us grounded. The downward spiral is swift.

According to Psychology Today, individuals placed in solitary confinement experience “perceptual disturbances, hallucinations, and derealisation experiences; affective disturbances, such as anxiety and panic attacks; difficulties with thinking, memory and concentration, the emergence of fantasies such as revenge… paranoia,” and so on.

But you aren’t in solitary confinement. You are quarantined at home with your family. While you would probably appreciate some personal space right about now, consider this a blessing and this moment a gift.

God places family and community at the forefront of our list of priorities. We are called to live in community with each other and not give up meeting together. The bond of meeting together, sharing struggles, meals, joys and sorrows is the essence of life and needs to be the center of every family.

We can become so busy pouring into the outer ring of community such as work, bible studies, church, and other various ministries and hobbies that we neglect to nurture the greatest (and most immediate) community God has given us: family. This is a special time in history when we can dive into that bond and nurture the parched branches of our marriages, children, brothers and sisters.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Matthew 18:21-22, 19:3-6, 1 Timothy 23:2-5 and pray Hebrews 10:24-25.

As we strive to do family God’s way, consider the verses above and compare how God instructs His family (the Church) to interact and the way your family interacts. What are some of the differences? Similarities? What can you do different? What do you do well?

What is something you can do right now to take advantage of this time and strengthen the bond of your family?

Hebrews 10:24-25

Lord, during this quarantine, help our family to become more like yours by considering, “how to stir up one another to love and good works.” And when it is over, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but [to continue] encouraging one another.”

Arguments and Reconciliation

Things had escalated fast when suddenly she screamed, “Get out of my house!” Instead, I folded my arms and stood my ground. “We aren’t done talking about this.” Whirling around she screamed, “Get out!” Yet there I stood, rooted to the floor. “Fine!” She shouted. “I’ll leave my own home!”

Anger fits both of us like a well tailored suit. Staying calm and not raising my voice took all the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

As I stood there in her home watching the tail lights disappear out her front window I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She wouldn’t be coming to my wedding.

Taking the path that cut through the woods back home, I mumbled to the Lord, “Well that was a total fail.” His next words hit me with such force I lost my breath. “I never fail.”

You see, to me this argument was the end. The “fail” was my failure to reconcile. Failure to apologize. Failure to Hope for more. My label of “fail” meant I had stopped believing in His ministry of Reconciliation. At least for this. For us.

But God never fails. Love never fails. This was just one brilliantly colored thread in a tapestry He wasn’t finished with. There in the woods on that not-so-well treaded path between my house and hers I gave the mess, the brokenness and the rejection to the Lord.

Leaving my sorrow there on the forest floor, I repented for my lack of faith in Him. Then I plodded the rest of the way home realizing that whatever God’s plan was, He clearly wasn’t done. I could find peace and rest in that.

Three days later, I stepped outside and found myself face to face with her. Right there on the lawn, she hugged me and said she was sorry. A few short months later she traveled to my wedding with her whole family. It was completely unexpected and one of my favorite memories of her. God’s fingerprints. All of it.

God is the God of Reconciliation and He has called us to be ministers of reconciliation too. We reconcile others to Him and to each other. One of our greatest roles as parents is reconciliation.

Reconciling family members requires keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Families have an ability to cut each other deep. From children to adults, we are called to forgive and be forgiven. To be peacemakers. To repent and reconcile. I can think of no better refining fire than the family unit.

Sometimes, we role up our sleeves and get dirty. Sometimes we simply need to get out of God’s way. Healing takes time. Respect. Faithfulness. Vulnerability. Boundaries. Love never fails. God never fails.

Read Matthew 18:21-22, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, and Colossians 3:12-15.

Colossians 3:12-15

Father, I pray our family would have “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other,” and as You have “forgiven [us], so [we] also must forgive.” Father, I pray, “above all these [we would] put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” That, “the peace of Christ [will] rule in [our] hearts.”

What about you? Do you need healing in a family relationship? Can you encourage someone who does? Do you have a story of healing to share with us?

We Do Family Different: The Working Life

Work is easily one of the largest Time consumers. The combinations of “Work” in the family today is endless, especially when you add in the jobs of teenagers. Before we know it, the family is going every which direction and it can be hard to align the schedule to accommodate that family dinner. The Word of God gives us perspective on work and provides guidelines on how to approach it.

The Hebrew word for work is ‘amal meaning “wearing effort; whether of body or mind.”[i] Work is a gift meant to bring us a purpose, provision, satisfying industry. We pour our mind and body into the effort. Sometimes the rewards of work are not immediate as God makes our work “beautiful in its time.”

While work comprises our daily efforts, God has also “put eternity into man’s heart.” While men, women and children all benefit from industry, we were never meant to be so consumed with it we forget our eternal calling. God placed that eternal perspective in our hearts to ensure a balance between the temporary and enduring.

While work is necessary and intended to be rewarding, we were made for so much more than this life. Work cannot be our sole focus – or soul focus. The family relationships God has entrusted to us should not suffer from a schedule weighted down by disproportional work.

When it comes to the years of raising teens, work is an excellent training ground for them as they step into adulthood and take on the mantle of providing for their needs. It changes the family picture of what time together looks like. As parents, we help them learn a healthy balance between rejoicing in the blessing of work while keeping that eternal perspective.

Should you make an adjustment to the column of Work? Only you can know. Maybe you already know what your family needs but the options are not available. Or maybe those decisions are not yours to make.

I encourage your to ask God about the role of Work in your family. Is He calling you to more of it? Less of it? A change of pace? A change of heart?

God moves and provides behind the scenes long before we see it. Prayer begins that process. As hard as we work, in the end God is our Provider and He opens the doors we need. If there is no door, He creates one. Remember our post on Hope? God’s answer to you is always: Yes, Not right now, or I have something better. Put your Hope in him and listen to His direction before you make adjustments to your Family Time Chart.

I want to hear from YOU! How do you define work? How has it differed from season to season in your life? What about your family’s work life? If you could encourage someone here about faith and work, what would you say?

Read Ecclesiastes 3:9-15,Matthew 6:24-34 and Proverbs 16:1-3.

Proverbs 16:1-3,9

Father, though I plan my career and seek to provide for my family I recognize “The plans of [my] heart belong to [me], but the answer of the tongue is from [You].” Though my ways seem pure to me, I will “commit [my] work to the LORD, and [hope that] your plans will be established.” Heavenly, Father, give me wisdom for healthy boundaries. As we make our plans for work, align us with your purposes and establish our steps. I submit our work to you in Jesus’ name, amen.

**Tip: Not sure how to hear God’s voice? Personally, I often ask for Him for an answer and then to give me confirmation. Usually I sense the answer through scripture reading and prayer, then I wait for that sacred echo. The random comments and phrases that pop up out of nowhere and confirm what He is speaking.


[i] Strongs Exhaustive Concordance

We Do Family Different: Family that Sticks Together

“Where does the time go?” Now you know! Take a good look at that family time chart again. Shifting your family compass from the here and now to doing things God’s way may feel overwhelming. Relax, God’s got this. You are after all, being led by the Holy Spirit or you would not be reading this post.

Now that you have mapped out your week as a family you have a better understanding of where the time really does go. Today, I encourage you to prayerfully consider each activity and decide whether the pursuit is led by God creating an enduring family bond that stands the test of time. Or, perhaps you will find some pursuits are not led by God and have only a temporary bond if at all.

As you wrestle with your time, put a star by those with the most potential to bind the family unit together. If there is any pursuit that fails to bind the family together it may need to be tweaked, rearranged, or considered for removal. For now, leave the Adjustments column blank. As you return to this chart throughout the study you can add adjustments on how to best use each activity to God’s purpose of binding your family together in unity.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. The stakes for our time is high. Paul describes us as jars of clay, meaning our life is fragile and fleeting. The shape of each family is beautiful and unique. Some have adult children while other’s young families, some are single parents others have a spouse. Each is beautiful, and only you can choose day to day activities that best serve a purpose beyond time.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Jesus, I need you to give me the eyes to see our time as a family. What has eternal value and impact? What is temporary and transient? Teach our family to value our time together serving you looking “not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” In your name I pray, amen. 

I love this topic because different families bond different ways! Comment below and share your ideas and activities that bring your family together!