As a child I remember hearing the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.
The problem is, words can hurt.
They can leave scars no one can see.
Unlike sticks and stones, the damage done won’t leave visible bruising to the body; Neighbors, friends, family, and teachers won’t see the injuries.
That doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there.
It doesn’t mean the wounds aren’t real.
Words are the invisible weapon that can do lifelong damage and never heal.
It is not what goes into the mouth the defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. –Matthew 15:11
I’m Going to Be Real With You
My children have these unseen injuries, and I’m the one who caused them.
How’s that for real?
I can try to rationalize the circumstances when I used words as weapons against the little people God has entrusted me with; it won’t make a bit of difference.
The fact is, I made HUGE mistakes.
I spoke in anger and frustration instead of love and respect.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. –Proverbs 18:21
My tone caused as much damage (if not more) than the words I used. Maybe I could pat myself on the back and say, “Well, I’ve never called them names.” That means nothing when I know I’ve bruised and battered them with words of indifference.
Instead of praising them for their imaginations and efforts, I’ve asked, “Why would you do that?” Instead of saying, “Thank you for trying to help”; it’s been, “Look what you’ve done.”
These words have hurt them time and time again.
Realizing this now, tears at my heart. I’m bleeding from each of the wounds I caused my children.
I swore I would never treat my children the way my siblings and I were treated when we were growing up. I swore my kids would never have a reason to question whether they are loved.
Yet, here I am.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perversness in it breaks the spirit. –Proverbs 15:4
When my children acted out, I wondered what was causing them to misbehave. I never stopped to consider it could have been my actions and reactions leading to their outbursts. That my words, said in frustration, anger, or disinterest, might have led them to lash out in search of some sort of control.
This family the LORD has blessed me with deserves more than that.
I Can Change
My children will not grow up questioning my love, or remembering only the harshly spoken words.
I will not be the reason their self-esteem suffers, or they turn away from God and family. I will not push them away with my own actions.
Our Heavenly Father knows my sins. He knows my heart, and my weaknesses. He trusted me to raise these children, and I will do my best, and when I stumble I’ll turn to Him.
I will control my words–both the words themselves, and the tone of my voice. I will focus on praise; on building up my children into strong, mature, loving, adults. I will do my best to let them spread their wings, to make mistakes, to be helpful, to explore life, and be the people God created them to be.
Most of All, I Will Pray
I’ll pray for guidance.
I’ll pray for a kind tone and a joyful spirit.
I’ll pray for a million questions from my almost three-year old, so that I may show her through actions and words that she matters.
I’ll pray for my son to try new things–even when they involve me sitting back and ignoring the mess, because I want him to see as well as hear how proud I am of him, and how much I believe in him.
I’ll pray for understanding as my tween daughter finds more and more interests that feel far too worldly for someone still so young.
Finally, I’ll pray for each and every one of you who have faced these same problems. Those who have hurt their friends, families, and loved-ones with weapons so powerful they can damage people indefinitely.
I pray today that you help each of us control our tongues. That we may build one another up in this world. That we use our words to soothe and encourage, not to draw blood. Give us pause when we speak, that our children will not be a casualty of our sinful ways.
If you feel led, please share this post so it may remind others they’re not alone in their struggles with the words we use.
As a teenager, one who obviously knew everything about everything, I believed I would be a certain way as an adult. I was one of those people who believed I knew how to handle whatever life had in store for me. This included parenting.
*Insert slightly insane laughter here*
There is a meme floating around the internet that states: “I was a perfect parent. Then I had children.”
It would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly accurate.
Too many people (me included) believe they’ve got it all figured out–life, fitness, parenting, their make-up; only to have reality kick them solidly in the solar plexus.
My old friend, Reality likes to remind me of its presence regularly.
When I was still a perfect parent–living under my parents’ roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me.
I wouldn’t keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I’d understand them, and treat them with “respect”.
I’m sure God chuckled at my plans.
My parents did.
The Reality Of Parenting Is Drastically Different
Before the birth of my youngest daughter, my niece and I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the Puget Sound.
The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the seagulls were begging scraps of our lunches. It was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle we’d been dealing with for the last few months.
Taking a few moments to enjoy the beauty the Lord created, and to truly appreciate it, helped relax my anxious heart.
It also helped me understand something about myself:
I’m not a perfect parent, and I don’t really have this parenting thing down.
In fact, teen me would spend a lot of time rolling her eyes at adult me.
I always thought my parents were strict, but they were nothing compared to how I am as a parent.
Part of this stems from a moderate battle with anxiety, but not all of it.
Simply put, my priorities have changed, as have my views.
God is the Perfect Parent
God has blessed us with four beautiful children, not to be perfect parents, but to teach them and train them up in what is righteous.
Much to their dismay, that includes horrors like sweeping, making their beds, cleaning bathrooms, and picking up toys.
It also requires them to spend time with us, to not put their friends above the LORD or their family, and to forgive each other when we stumble.
Something else that comes along with this is the amount of freedom we allow our children to have.
Our eldest is only eleven, and regardless of how my husband and I were raised the world is a much different place today than it was twenty years ago.
Yes, she can do solitary things without constant supervision, and she has experienced the joy of middle school ministry events (where her mother wasn’t invovled), but there are rules that have to be followed, and consequences if those rules are ignored.
This is a relatively new freedom for her, and I still have several bad moments where I want to keep her in the house away from any chance of getting hit by a speeding car or abducted (see, anxiety).
I’m taking it a day at a time, and maybe I’ll be more relaxed when they’re visiting me in the retirement home.
The point is, there are no perfect parents on Earth, except God, and of course those who have never had children.
We as a society (especially women) spend so much time judging the merits of one person over another that we seem to forget we’re all just stumbling along doing the best we can.
Have some people lost their way?
Yes, but that isn’t for us to judge.
There are people in this world who have been called to help those who have fallen.
Instead of casting blame and pointing fingers, it’s time for us to come together and build each other up, and to raise our own children with love, compassion, and grace.
As we’re coming up on the summer, many homeschool families have already been busy selecting, ordering, and planning their homeschool curriculum for the upcoming school year.
I fall into this category; let’s face it, I love looking at anything that has to do with books and learning.
For the last two years we have been involved in a Classical Conversations Community, and while it was a great fit for a while, I realize with the changes happening in our family, it is no longer going to be feasible for us.
This led me to look at other curriculums that were better for us during this season of life.
After much prayerful consideration, and hours of researching different possible curriculum packages we decided to continue with CC memory work during our morning routine, and begin My Father’s World: Exploration to 1850 as our spine.
There are so many great books included in this session of the family cycle–which, by the way, I absolutely adore how MFW has a cycle that includes the family–and knowing I don’t have to add anything to it, because it is all included in the package, gives me an extra little pep in my step.
My eldest loves to study history, so it is great to see how excited she is to dive into learning about the early years of our country. She’s equally excited about delving into Botany later in the year. It’s going to be a great experience for our family, and will really focus us on things we might otherwise skip.
I personally am excited about the read-alouds and the book basket. These are things we have always done in our homeschool, but this time I don’t have to search for books that coincide with our studies. MFW has done that work for me. *Inserting a happy dance here*
Go With the Flow
While technically being new to MFW we should begin with Exploring Countries and Cultures, we decided to begin during the time period we’d be studying in CC. We’ll then continue on with 1850 to Present. Our plan is when our eldest is in eighth grade we will study ECC. This will bring my son (who will be entering second grade at that time) into it at the beginning of the cycle.
One more reason to love homeschooling. I get to decide what would work best for my children, because I know them and understand them.
At least as much as anyone can understand their children–especially with “tweens” and “threenagers”.
We’re officially finished with school for the year, but since we are year-rounders, we’ve just moved on to something new and exciting. We’ll officially begin MFW the first Monday after the Fourth of July.
Until then I’ll just (im)patiently wait to begin. 🙂
If you’re a fellow homeschooler, what curriculum have you chosen for next year?
Nine years ago when I became a mother I never expected to become the kind of mother I am today.
When my eldest was born everything I’d read said to sleep-train. To place my child in a crib in her own room so she could learn to sleep on her own.
She did great, and we never had a problem.
Not So New Moms Make Mistakes Too
When my son was born nearly four years ago we continued on as we always had, but this time there was more difficulty.
He displayed a need for more contact and more connection. Where my eldest slept in the bassinet beside my bed in the hospital, my son wouldn’t sleep without being in my arms.
Sadly, instead of realizing his needs and accommodating them, I stubbornly trudged ahead. I had college classes beginning three weeks after his birth and anxiety clawed at me. How would I manage the requirements of school if he insisted on being held all the time?
It took years to realize this was just another symptom of my on-going battle with anxiety.
Looking back now, I realize how the choices I made then affect our family everyday.
You Can Teach an Old Mom New Tricks
Last year, when my youngest was born, things were different.
I had drastically changed in the three years since my son was born. The Lord had softened my heart and shined light into the dark corners.
The military base house we live in only has three bedrooms, and the age range is so wide between my children I quickly realized there was no place except our bedroom to place her.
A bassinet was placed on my side of the bed, within quick reach, since we were trying to breastfeed.
After her birth I had severe postpartum anxiety, and holding her in my arms was the only thing that calmed me. Feeling her heart beat, and her breath against my cheek slowed the panic that clawed at me. Often this would lead me to fall asleep, content with holding her, and knowing she was safe in my arms.
Years ago I would have made sure she went to bed in that bassinet and slept in that through the night. I would have loved her, snuggled and fed her, and then put her back to bed.
Like I mentioned, I’m no longer that mother.
Returning her to her bassinet started happening less and less frequently.
One night as I snuggled her beside me, and buried my nose in her downy soft hair, I realized I’d been missing out on something amazing. I had been so concerned about suffocating my babies while I slept, that I had denied us both the love and connection we needed.
I had become a co-sleeping, bed-sharing parent, by accident–or by His design. Something I never would have considered before.
My prayer that night was one of wonder and thanksgiving. The Lord had blessed me with another little girl, and in doing so, had opened my heart to something new.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
As she has gotten older she has slept in her crib off and on. Each night after she falls asleep between us, we’ll transfer her to her bed. Most nights she will still end up in bed with us again.
Now that she is bigger and takes up quite a bit more space, because she sleeps like I do, our snuggles in bed aren’t always as comfortable or relaxing.
What those nights lack in comfort, they more than make up for by filling my heart with happiness, peace, and the knowledge that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
God has once again changed me. I may be continually sleep deprived, but I’ve got a different kind of connection with my youngest than I ever imagined possible. She is just as independent as her older siblings, but she is happy snuggled against me as she drifts off to sleep.
I’m not sure how things will be as she gets older, but I know this is the path Our Heavenly Father has placed me on.
I will walk it in faith.
Did you co-sleep with your children? What is a memory you enjoy from that time?
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Living in the Pacific Northwest is Hard
Almost four years ago my little family and I returned to the Pacific Northwest. This relocation has been a struggle for several reasons, but one of the biggest struggles we’ve had to deal with is my ongoing battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder–SAD. Although the struggle didn’t start out as hard as I expected it to be, it has recently gotten worse.
I spent four years living in the desert, a place where it was sunny almost every day. On those rare occasions when it wasn’t, every part of me knew it. Those days were miserable for me, and made me grateful for each and every sunny day.
I also realized how blessed I was to no longer be living in the PNW.
The LORD had other plans for my little family though, and one day we packed up and headed back to the trees and mountains I’d grown up around. The PNW is beautiful. There is no denying that, but to be beautiful it spends quite a bit of time gray and dreary. For someone who needs the sunshine to be mellow and happy, the trade-off comes at a high price.
Summer Makes Me Come Alive
Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is just the right amount of breeze rustling the trees. Spring is here, and summer is approaching. I’ll be honest and say summer makes me come alive.
The past few months have been hard for me. Our family thrives on schedules and routines because, when it comes to me living in a state that spends close to six months a year with little sunshine, routines help me to not completely become a hermit. It also keeps the SAD from getting so out of control that I end up becoming a shadow of myself.
Sadly, this year those schedules and routines haven’t helped as much as they have in the past.
Making the Connection
I can’t really lock down when this ongoing battle became noticeable; when the depression started interfering with my life. All I know is one day I realized I’d started putting off going places. I’d started finding reasons to not leave the house–to excuse myself and my family from social events because they felt like obligations–and that feeling stressed me out.
During the winter months I struggled with this a lot. Since the loss of my father and the suffocating feeling I had from the bleakness of the weather, I found myself leaving my home less and less. I’ve stepped away from several things I enjoyed doing, because I couldn’t convince myself the recovery time it would take me afterward was worth it.
The only things I’ve managed to maintain throughout this time are things directly involved with my children. No matter how hard it is for me, I don’t want to let them down. They enjoy their time at AWANA and Classical Conversations community day. It wasn’t (and isn’t) their fault that I have a hard time functioning without glorious sunshine.
I’m Worried Too
My husband worries about me, and my friends worry about me. They’re afraid I’m not just going to become a hermit, but a full-fledged shut in.
If I’m honest, I’m worried about that as well.
You see, I love my church, but when this suffocating sensation turns to panic at the thought of leaving my home Sunday morning and facing people, I know there is reason to be concerned.
Today, I’m feeling great, and that knowledge can lull me into a false sense of security. It can cause me to forget the way I feel when it isn’t sunny and beautiful.
Sunlight therapy isn’t enough (though, I highly recommend adding it if you suffer from SAD!), and neither is the medication I gave in and started taking four years ago.
I need God to help me through this, the same way I need Him in every aspect of my life.
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People who’ve known me my entire life were surprised when I announced that at the end of my daughter’s first grade school year we were removing her from public school (PS), and beginning a new journey. We’d decided after a lot of prayer, discussion, and consideration that we were going to travel on the Homeschool Highway (which, by the way is an excellent book).
Many won’t understand this, but even more people will. As a parent it is our responsibility to do what is best for our children. In our case, we felt that included removing our daughter from the questionable curriculum, associations, and experiences she was having in the public school system. As a first grader she had become far more worldly than any six year old should be.
She and I had many discussions about what she wanted from her education, and honestly, neither her father nor I felt she would receive that in the public school environment.
Where public school is not necessarily *EVIL* and works well for many people, our goal was to allow our daughter the freedom to become so much more than we are. We wanted her to have the freedom to become whoever and whatever she wanted to be.
Where We Are Now
Not much has changed since we made the decision to pull her from public school. We knew then as we know now that during this season in our lives, homeschooling (HS) is the way to go. She is thriving, as is her brother who has joined her in a life of continuous learning. We’ve been on this journey for three years now, and it continues to bring blessings to our family.
I don’t pretend to know what the future holds, or what God will place on our hearts at a later date. Right now, however, this is still our great calling.
Have you made the decision to homeschool your children? What was the deciding factor for your family?
Recently my mother sold the house where I grew up. This may not seem like a big deal, and months ago when she made the decision it wasn’t. Unfortunately, like with many events in my life, the true feelings didn’t become noticeable until much later.
Suddenly, today, my heart is breaking all over again.
The house–a mere pile of wood, cement, and nails– where my father and I discussed books over tea in the cool and quiet of the (always partially finished) basement, belongs to someone else.
No matter where I went, or what happened in my life, that man-made structure with forest surrounding it was my constant. I knew it would always be there, and I’d always have a place to return to.
The house already looks different. My mother, sister, and brother, have spent countless hours updating it, fixing it, and making it perfect for the new family to live in. The basement (which is finally finished) isn’t my father’s anymore. His books no longer line the walls, his cat no longer curls up in his chair, and his tea and teacups are no longer on the mini-fridge.
I know it doesn’t make sense, but knowing the house will no longer be the place I call home, feels like the death of my father all over again.
My mother doesn’t need that large of a house, and she’s already purchased her new home. One where she will undoubtedly be happier, and where she can make new memories. It’s funny how I can be happy for her while I still feel like I’m being buried alive by my own sorrow.
Today, turning to the LORD hasn’t been as spiritually lifting as it usually is. Instead of answers I have more questions. Instead of peace, I have unstoppable tears.
Good thing He is stronger than my doubts. His love is deeper than my sorrow, and I know that even though things aren’t clean and clear at this moment, tomorrow is another day, and He will still be there, offering His peace, joy, and comfort.
May God’s light shine on you today, and every day.
Three days ago we scattered my father’s ashes in the Puget Sound. A place he’d always loved. The week leading up to the memorial was rough and emotions ran high with everyone. I wanted nothing more than to forget about the whole thing and keep my father’s ashes on my shelf, because as soon as they were removed from their place of honor, lonliness enveloped me. He’d been there since February, a constant companion in my home. It was time to let him go, but I wasn’t sure I was ready.
At the approximate time the sun would have been setting, had the rain not decided to join our tears, we said a final goodbye to the man who had taught us so many things. There was laughter amidst the inappropriate humor my father was so used to from my sister Rae, and me. As she shared her memories, it occured to me that my father was a wonderfully flawed person. He swore, he drank, he was selfish, and was always impatient. I realized much of my personality came from him. Many of my strengths and many of my weaknesses were nurtured and ingrained at his knee. My father made many mistakes in his life, but one thing he did that wasn’t a mistake, was loving his children inspite of our differences, and sometimes because of them.
With that knowledge, it was important to remind myself that we all grieve differently, and that emotions are strong factors in the way we react to situations. That night wasn’t about who we were, it was about who he was. There was no right or wrong way to memorialize him. Whether it was drinking a bottle of wine in his memory as the rain poured down, or closing off from others and holding inside whatever emotion was burning the heart. We needed to set aside our various differences, ignore the typical family dynamic and just be there for one last moment with the man who had raised us in the only way he knew how.
After the others left, I sat on the bench beside the water with my dear friend. We watched otters play in the current, and I cried. Big, ugly, body wracking tears. For months there had been a pain inside my heart that couldn’t seem to heal. It was like a splinter left just beneath the surface, and it was festering as the days went on. I didn’t realize it, even as I sat there, that the healing had finally began. For the months since my father passed, I was in a holding pattern, not really grieving, but not really healing either.
Three days before Father’s Day, the proverbial splinter was finally removed, the wound cleaned, and my body and soul could really begin to heal.
When Sunday arrived I was leary of attending church. It was my first Father’s Day without my Dad. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was concerned I’d break down and not be able to stop. In fact, I almost decided not to go, to stay home and be safe from the emotions, smiles, and warm wishes of others.
Instead, I prayed.
Then I put on my big girl pants and joined my family in church.
It was a wonderful day. The words were exactly what I needed to hear, and my heart didn’t ache. For the first time in months I didn’t feel like I would get blown away in a stiff breeze, or shatter like glass. I felt free. With the scattering of my Father’s ashes, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. My Father is truly at peace now, and even though I might not be completely there yet, I am on my way. My heart is light and I am filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit.
Life moves on and changes, much like the tides of the sea.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy and may you forever be at rest in the place you loved best.