There's only one thing that God wants from us as parents. Read on to find the key to freedom and parenting with joy!Read More
I don’t have time for this today. I have so much to do. So many other things in my head. I have places to go, things to do, people to see. But instead, I’m sitting here grieving and crying my heart out. The tears are flat out ignoring my will to stop and pull myself together. So I’m going with it today. I’m just going to let myself be sad. I can’t help it.Read More
If there is one holiday mishap I want to avoid this season, it's all the sugar! Two years ago around this time, I had been in and out of the ER every month for several months in a row.
At first, my vision would blur, and then the headache would begin, followed by vomiting for hours on end until I would find myself on the floor delirious. It would take days for the migraines to clear and not without repeated trips to the hospital for fluids and pain meds.
I started getting migraines in my early twenties and there seemed to be no particular pattern. Some years, I went with almost no migraines at all. Other years I was plagued by them. Neurologists educated me and I found relief in some measure but every time one would hit, it took me out and landed me in serious condition. I had two different specialists tell me I was there most extreme case of migraine sufferer and that I was highly resistant to meds.
They recommended that I take 2-3 times a normal dose, just to try and cut the pain. Every time a migraine hit, I wanted to die.
Something extreme needed to happen. I was suffering terribly and it was affecting my everyday life. I lived with the fear that a headache could appear at any time.
That December, two years ago, my husband and I decided to do an extreme cleanse and stop eating sugar, caffeine, processed foods, and alcohol. After 11 days of detoxing, we slowly introduced other healthy foods into our diet and began to view food as medicine.
My moods improved.
My psoriasis healed.
And my headaches STOPPED.
My son Quinn had also been having migraines for several years, beginning at age 2. We put our kids on the same eating plan and sure enough, cutting out sugar and processed food did what pediatric neurologists, allergists, surgery, and ENT’s could not. His headaches disappeared too and his joy-boy personality returned!
When my health and my son’s health were compromised, our entire lives felt out of control and we lived on edge. Living that way not only triggered migraines and other health issues, it triggered my anger, my irritability, and my moods.
I was not living life to the full as God intended because my TEMPLE was a mess. I’m certain that much of my son’s hard-to-handle behavior was a direct link to the sugar and processed foods as well.
This holiday season, it’s easy to let loose and indulge. My husband and I did our cleanse over his birthday, my birthday, and Christmas—a total of 11 extreme days. No figgy pudding or ham. No chocolate birthday cake or creamy pasta. No bags of chips or eggnog. It was HARD but I finally felt like I was doing the right thing.
Two years later, we still eat this way 80% of the time and I have only had 1 migraine since then—and that was a year ago when I decided to overindulge at the holidays. I learned my lesson-everything in moderation this year!
So let me challenge you, today. PUT A PLAN IN PLACE to enjoy your holiday treats but not at the expense of allowing it to TRIGGER your moods and angry reactions or if it will flood your mind with feelings of guilt.
The negative impact of sugar and other unhealthy foods is a holiday mishap we can avoid! DECIDE today to have self-control, make a plan, get accountability, and make healthy eating choices this holiday season, both for you and your children.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1:2)
“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” (Proverbs 23:20-21)
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
SHARE: Is sugar or processed foods and dyes a TRIGGER for you or your children? How can you take care of your temple this holiday season? Share one specific plan you can make here in the comments!
P.S. I just picked up a copy of Monica Swanson's new book, The Secret of Your Naturally Skinny Friends: a simple path to your best body and a healthy mind! Join me in reading this book as we look forward to healthy changes in 2016!
This post contains affiliate links to a book. That means that Amazon gives me a few cents when you make a purchase through the link, at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting my ministry in this way!
It was our first Christmas together as a married couple and we had agreed not to go crazy on gifts. My husband’s birthday is in early December, and mine is the day after Christmas! Instead, we chose to give each other Stockings filled with little presents.
I spent months finding the perfect trinkets that my husband would love-all his favorite things in small packages. A high quality utility knife, top of the line socks, his favorite cologne. I told him to open one of his gifts first and I joyfully watched as he tore open the paper, revealing my thoughtful choices.
And then I opened mine, my heart filled with excitement to see what my new husband had lovingly chosen for ME.
I pulled out a pink feather boa. And some silly plastic glasses with a mustache. Then, a pair of crazy fuzzy socks and a roll of mints. (I hate mints.) My husband grinned and I kept digging to the bottom, thinking a set of pearls or a gift certificate must be in there somewhere.
I looked up at him in disappointment—and disbelief.
“What?!” he asked, as his smile faded. He really didn’t know.
In his mind, stockings were for funny gag gifts, a time to be goofy and whimsical. In my mind, they were meant to confirm the idea that good things come in small packages—preferably with brand name labels attached and lots of pricey sparkle. More than that, stockings were meant to communicate that the giver really knew you—knew the things you preferred and enjoyed.
We had miscommunicated and made assumptions about one another’s intentions and plans for what a Christmas stocking should hold. It was a lesson to us that we had a ways to go as husband and wife and learning to communicate and manage expectations, but it also revealed to me that I had a long way to go in learning contentment.
That was just one of many rude awakenings for me that first year together as husband and wife. I allowed my disappointment to hurl me into a downward spiral of discontent, questioning if my deepest longing—to be known and loved—would ever really be a part of my marriage. I became sad, then hurt, then angry, then bitter. It wasn’t just the awkward exchange of gifts. I knew that was an honest mistake, but it left me feeling disillusioned, because I let it. In my mind, I rehearsed all the other shortcomings of my life, besides the challenges of being a newlywed.
There were plenty of other areas of day-to-day living that simply were not measuring up to my ideals. I had been skipping along the treacherous line of thinking that because I had been a “good” Christian, my long awaited for blissful marriage, cooperative children, 4-bedroom house, and selfless BFF should materialize and bring me my heart’s desires. When that didn’t happen, I got angry. Not rage against the machine angry, but a quiet simmering of discontent that infected my heart and clouded my perspective.
I snapped at my kids. Bickered with my husband. Coveted my neighbor.
I guess I wasn’t such a “good” Christian after all.
Over time, I realized that my anger issues were rooted in discontent, which was rooted in pride. The Holy Spirit began to convict me. All my efforts to change my circumstances weren’t working. I needed a heart transplant, STAT.
Linda Dillow, in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, quotes Henry Kissinger: “To Americans, usually tragedy is wanting something very badly and not getting it.” That was me. The ideal and tranquil life was something I felt I deserved and instead of counting my blessings, I turned my desires into idols.
An idol is anything we value more than we value God and His plan for our lives. I had plenty of those. Had I yielded to this notion sooner, I could have avoided a lot of heartache. I’m still not there, 10 years later, but I’m not where I was either. The truth is, yielding our will is no easy thing, but it is the freeing thing.
My prayer for 2015 has been this, “Lord, help me to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else.” You see, I thought that my husband’s ability to read my mind and shower me with thoughtful gifts would make me content. I believed that a house with a white picket fence, happy kids, and relationships with like-minded friends would satisfy me. The head knowledge that only Christ can satisfy had not made it to my heart.
God took me on a roller coaster ride that pried my clenched fingers off the safety bar of my grand illusions, one white knuckle at a time.
Eventually, I discovered that the Bible that I believed was true was not just true, but true for me. In me. Nothing else really does satisfy like Jesus. I really do love Him, even if He takes everything I have ever wanted, away. I really can be satisfied loving my wild child, instead of a compliant one. I truly can find contentment in the companionship of my Savior when friends seem distant. The Holy Spirit really does give me peace that is supernatural even when my husband falls short….or I do. I really can be satisfied in a tiny apartment where I bedeck myself in a pink feather boa and crazy socks.
Our anger or bitterness may not have originated over night. Maybe, like me, your melancholy is the long brewed product of drinking the poison of discontent. Do you have an idol in your life? Is a happy marriage more important to you than living out the Fruit of the Spirit, despite the hardships? Do you keep wondering why it has to be you with the son who has ADD? Are you having a pity-party because you haven’t had a call from a girlfriend to see how you are doing since two years ago?
Perhaps today is the day you can turn the tide towards humility and contentment by saying a simple prayer, “Lord create in me a desire to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else”. And when the life you want eludes you, you will realize that the better life is not in obtaining your heart’s desire, but in receiving the heart that God desires to give you.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:3-5)
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
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YOUR TURN: Can you relate to my story? Is there some seed of discontent that needs to be uprooted in your life? How can I pray for you?
Years ago, I taught my students Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall. One famous line from this poem is that “Good fences make good neighbors.” Most of us realize that healthy boundaries in relationships are often necessary-there’s a reason that sage Benjamin Franklin said that “Guests, life fish, begin to smell after 3 days.” Few relationships are harder to apply boundaries too than our in-laws and for good reason.
Our parents spend decades raising us, shaping us, guiding us. It can be hard for them to release us to our spouses, necessary as it is. Some in-laws simply don’t understand how much they can either foster a healthy and supportive relationship for their child’s marriage, or bring great division and harm to the union. The stress and pressure of poor relationships with our mother or father-in laws can cause frustration, anger, and bitterness-which can easily infect our marriages, and therefore our children. And sometimes, it’s our brother or sister-in-laws that can do just as much good, or harm.
As mothers, how are we supposed to navigate these complex relationships?
When I met my mother-in-law for the first time, I knew that she wasn’t going to play the kind of role I had always dreamed of. Years before I met her, she suffered several major strokes and was wheel-chair bound, living in a home for the elderly and disabled. I knew that my husband and I would serve more like parents to her, than the other way around. Still, she's been an incredible example of faith and love to me. Even though she spends her days in bed or wheel-chair bound, I have never once heard her complain. She loves her Savior and always pours that same love out towards others. But my husband also had loving older siblings who were more like parents to him, and so in some ways, I suddenly had 4 sets of protective in-laws to navigate. Their family is a close-knit bunch of loyal Italians and they have been generous and kind to us over the years and all the cousins have great affection for one another, but it wasn’t easy for me to fit in initially.
My husband Guy and I realized early on that we needed to become a strong new unit as a couple and that we could both firmly, yet lovingly, set boundaries with our in-laws on BOTH sides. That’s never easy. I have heard from hundreds of couples on this topic over the years. Many of these couples have varying issues from overly intrusive parents, to disregarding their parenting styles and requests, to extreme favoritism over their son or daughter as opposed to their new in-law. Here's a post about what to do when someone simply just doesn't like you very much.
If we choose to respond Biblically, I believe that most cases can result in peace and unity in our families.
Here are 4 things to consider:
- As spouses, we must communicate, listen, and be united as a couple about the problem with our in-laws and choose to protect our marriages above all else.
If your spouse is suffering or struggling, as a result of conflict with extended family members that should be your main priority. God instructs us to “leave” the home and authority of our parents and “cleave” to the new relationship we are building with our spouses. If your husband is not standing with you in solidarity over any particular issue, then the first matter of business is to work on your marriage-which may very well necessitate Biblical counseling.
Ultimately, if we feel secure and safe in our marriage and our spouse’s commitment to preserve our relationship and unique family goals and beliefs, than the anxiety of in-law pressures is greatly reduced. Sometimes, that means being grateful for your spouse and the new life you get to create together, instead of wasting time lamenting the dream of having ideal in-laws. Let go of the things you simply can't change.
- Ask yourself if YOUR PART in the equation looks like this:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
We are to offer the same respect, honor, and Godly treatment of our in-laws as we are commanded to demonstrate to all people, regardless of how they treat us or our children. If you have sin in your own life in this area, it’s time to work on your part first.
- I like to take the confusion of making choices as a parent out of the equation by following this one cardinal rule:
Never make decisions based on FEARS or PEERS.
This applies to my in-laws too. Sometimes, moms over-discipline or give in to requests they don’t feel comfortable with when they are with extended family. We have to become very self aware and confident in OUR decisions so that we don’t behave towards our children or in-laws as a result of fear of what they will think or because we feel peer pressure to do things their way.
If this is a struggle for you, prepare yourself before you meet with them so that you have a clear image in mind of how you will behave as the wife and mom in your family, and do not give in to fear or pressure. God gave you authority over your home and children, and honoring how the Lord leads you is what matters most. Be authentically you, and if they don’t accept that, it’s okay. God accepts us just as we are and following His leading is what will bring us peace, not the approval of our in-laws.
- Just as I have talked a lot on my blog about being consistent, dropping the rope of tug-of-war with our kids, and training our children with loving-kindness, we can take a lot of the fight out of our in-law relationships in much the same way.
When my child persists over an issue and I have already communicated clearly with them, I don’t have to get angry, upset, or continue to argue with them. I can simply say something like, “Son, I understand that you want to stay up late, but as your mom I know that you need sleep and it’s now bedtime. Please go into the bathroom to brush your teeth and I will help you get dressed for bed.” They may whine and complain. And again, we can empathize and repeat our same statement of expectation, following through on our standard.
When in-laws become emotional, manipulative, or threaten our boundaries, we can respond in a similar fashion to them as we do to our wayward kids. We can calmly and kindly say to our in-laws, “I appreciate that you want to spoil our kids with sugary treats because you are loving grandparents, but John and I know that their bodies can’t handle it. We can provide snacks for you to give them that are healthy but still yummy, or we can give you a list of ones we recommend if you want to shop for them yourself. Just let us know which you prefer.” If they dishonor your repeated request, then you may need to follow up by explaining that the kids simply won’t be eating at their house. You don’t need to become embroiled or pulled into an argument or crumple under manipulation.
Eventually, it may be necessary to explain that if they simply don’t respect your decisions that you may have to come up with some creative alternatives-just as we do with our children when they don’t honor our role. It may mean that you need to take some time away from the relationship altogether, or put some more secure boundaries in place, but this should always be lovingly and clearly communicated-not an act of bitter punishment or unhealthy division.
The Bible puts it like this in Romans 12:17-18: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
As wives, we can either add pressure to our husband’s burden or we can cultivate peace with both sets of in-laws. Never underestimate the power of prayer and your own gracious spirit towards your spouse, your children, and your in-laws. Expect the Lord to prepare their hearts as much as yours, and ask God to give you wisdom. In-law relationships may very well be the biggest challenge you will face, but they don’t have to leave you in turmoil that negatively affects your kids. Keep doing the good parenting, entrust your commitment as a family to the Lord, and walk in faith that God will honor your desire for peace.
I’m not sure if my own in-law relationships on either side of my family will ever be what I dreamed of, but that’s okay. I choose to be grateful for the many ways that they have helped shape me and my husband. Seeking peace and pursuing it is the mark of a daughter of the King of Kings, and pleasing Him by our Godly responses to any conflict is the righteous thing to do and leads to blessing. When your mother or father-in-laws can’t be pleased, focus instead on pleasing your Heavenly Father, and you’ll never be disappointed.
SHARE: What stood out to you the most from this post? How can you work more towards being a peace-maker or better communicate your needs as a wife, mom, and daughter-in-law? Do you have wonderful in-laws? Tell us what makes them so great!
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Anger is meant to remind us whose side of the spiritual battle we are on. It is a gift from God, that we would feel deep indignation towards the wrongs of the world-slavery, murder, thievery, destructive gossip, outright defiance towards Godly things, and sexual immorality. And it is meant to motivate us to run hard after all that is good and pure and lovely and to combat the wrongs in the world with all that is right.
What anger is not meant to do is be personalized.
We should feel anger when we see sin in the world and being lived out in the lives around us and we should be filled with humility and repentance when we recognize sin in ourselves. But anger over not having “our way” in life or with our kids is anything but righteous. It’s pride.
Save your anger for the “big stuff” that pollutes God’s design for righteous living in this world. Reserve your anger for those who suffer mercilessly at the hand of evil in the world around you. Go ahead and seethe over the news of that broken family whose mother has been sleeping around and whose kids are now bleeding from a broken heart. Rail against the man who dares to sell drugs to your pastor’s son and your neighbor’s 6th grader. And furthermore, may it move you to action to champion the poor, the mistreated, the enslaved, and the downtrodden.
May it never be wasted over dirty socks on the floor or a mouthy teen. May our anger never explode because an immature 3-year-old won’t eat his vegetables. Let us never sin in our anger over being late to school or become bitter because our husbands don’t help with the dishes. Let’s not be angry because of homework.
Perhaps, our anger is magnified because our perspectives are microscopic.
Pop the bubble of your own ideals for life and self-interested desires for what your kids or your home should like today, and consider that you are not a sex slave, or meeting underground for a Bible study in a dank room lit by candles, or searching for your missing teen amongst drug lords.
Let’s shift our anger to gratitude for all the good and ease with which we live life compared to the outright tragedy of rampant sin in the world today and let’s reposition our perspectives to combat that same permeating darkness by honoring God with our own lives well-lived. Let's not rub shoulders with the forces of evil by yelling at our kids over sibling rivalry and giving Satan ground in our own homes. There’s far too much darkness in the world already.
Get good and angry over the sin of the world. But there’s no place for sinful anger in the home of a Christ-follower.
Your kids are gifts who are apprentices under your master teaching. They need loving guidance and wise instruction-not angry moms. Don’t think for a second that God is naïve enough to send you into battle unarmed and ill-equipped. Call on the Holy Spirit to help you today and do the good that is set before you. It will often look like a calm response to an angry tantrum. It will require setting aside dinner to talk with your teenager and tell them that even if they “don’t want to talk about it,” that you care. It may very well mean denying yourself the luxury of a break so that when your husband comes home, you offer him some rest. And it will probably look a lot like time in God’s Word, being filled every hour by His love and grace so that as you pour out, you never run on empty. But may we never underestimate the effectiveness of defeating darkness in the world as a whole by scattering it within our own homes.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
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. James 1:19-20
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Galatians 3:8
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8
YOUR TURN! What circumstances in the world cause you the most righteous anger? Is there something troubling you-how can I pray for you today?
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