I Totally Blew It Today

Family Photo copyI’d had it “UP TO HERE”! I was tired. The girls were tired. I could hear the voices being raised in the other room as my frustration rose in the kitchen. My ten-year-old and eight-year-old, who usually are best friends and favorite playmates, had been going at each other for three days and I was weary of playing referee. My ten-year-old burst through the door in tears, but I stopped her before she could present her case.

“I don’t want to hear it.”

“But Mama…”

“I said I don’t want to hear it. Get back in there and get ready for VBS.”

Yep. Vacation Bible School. You know, the week-long event where our children get to learn more about Jesus and how to be a greater witness for Him (Big Sigh).

She hung her head and walked out. Seconds later I heard the shouting resume. Reason seemed to evade my pre-coffee brain and I stormed onto the scene:

“What is going ON in here!… I’m not putting up with this ANY longer!… Don’t talk back to me!…

And my words were hurled like daggers into my children’s spirits. I never took a breath to ask what had caused the uproar. All I knew was that my quiet had been pierced and now they somehow deserved the blasting they got. After all, hadn’t I heard enough of the whining and arguing lately? Hadn’t I been patient long enough? Hadn’t I taught them better? Hadn’t I…?

At that moment, it almost occurred to me that I was looking into the eyes of two little girls who were more confused by my outburst than convicted of their error. It almost occurred to me that I’d missed a teachable moment and instead created an overwhelming one. But I pushed it to the corners of my conscious. After all, it was time to go. The girls gathered their things and plodded to the truck with shoulders slumped and tears brimming.

And then I got it:

How dare I! How dare I pour frustration out on tender hearts? How dare I start their day with my disdain?

I got behind the wheel and I saw their crushed spirits in the rear-view mirror. I tried to salvage what I could of our morning. I told them how much I love them and that I was sorry I didn’t listen, sorry I got angry, so sorry. It sounded hollow. But they smiled and said it was okay.

But it was not okay to me. I can’t make it okay on my own, but I’ve learned through the years who can.

So we prayed.

We bowed our heads and asked God to forgive Mommy for not being more like Him and asked Him to help my sweet girls do the same. He did. And they did.

Today I blew it. Today and everyday, I’m grateful for a God who never runs out of patience with me. Who listens to all my whining and arguing and responds with gentleness. And I’m grateful that He hears my repentant heart every time and redeems what I can not. When placed before Him, he mends what is broken and restores what is lost.

I write this because I want you to know that we are all flawed, but God’s “mercies are new every morning” (Lamentation 3:23) and you need not carry the guilt of this day into the next. He saw it from the cross and carried it for you. I pray you have the courage to believe that His grace not only covers your weakness, but empowers you to better tomorrows.

 

 

A Journey to Kindness

Kaila and Kieran, my grace givers

Kaila and Kieran, my grace givers

I remember the moment I spat the ugly words, punctuated with a piercing stare, “You act like children of the devil!” It was directed at my oldest children, who were then around nine and twelve years old. In the angry stillness that followed, Kaila, who has always been a mild-mannered child not given to back talk, looked at me with all her innocence and said slowly as though pondering some great mystery, “Mommy, if we are children of the devil, what does that make you?”

Time stood still and no one breathed as we waited for what would happen next.

The wind left my sails as I considered the answer and the truth in it. An apology followed and we salvaged what we could of the rest of the day, but my heart was pricked by yet another ugly stain on my checkered mothering past. We’ve since laughed about the day (along with others) Mom lost her mind and when they both were sure Kaila would lose her tongue, but secretly I’ve cried many times.

I’ve cried because I know love is kind, and I was not always kind. I was many things, but I was not kind.

I was intentional. I was nurturing. I was self-sacrificing. I was compassionate. I was generous. But I was not kind.

Kindness has been a journey for me, one full of determination and disappointment, but one also full of grace, both from God and from my children. I share it with you in the hopes that if you struggle with kindness, your own journey will be shorter.

My two youngest kindest teachers, Samara and Avielle

My two youngest kindness teachers, Samara and Avielle

Please don’t think I’ve arrived. I’m still broken many times over by my weakness in this area but I’m also reminded that it is my weakness that keeps me dependent upon God’s strength and that my children get to witness a life and a heart that is continually being changed by His strength as I remain teachable. I’m learning to love well as I learn to be kind.

Kindness changes everything. It softens hearts. It mends relationships. Kindness transmits love from head to heart, from knowing to feeling.

The scriptures say in Romans 2:4 that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. Doesn’t it make sense then that it is the kindness of a mother that leads to the same in her children? Why then do we often choose harsh words, fierce stares, and cold responses when we love so much? For me, it’s been because I like results and I want them yesterday. Kindness, however, requires patience. It is selfless and humble.

In the day to day, kindness cuddles a toddler when he’s fussy instead of scolds him, realizing we all have bad days too.

Kindness gives a soft answer instead of yelling at children who are yelling at each other AGAIN.

Kindness looks a pre-teen in the eyes and recognizes the doubts and insecurities instead of labeling it rebellion.

Kindness reminds teenagers to be faithful with what they have instead of telling them how ungrateful they are for all they’ve been given.

Each day, it is kindness that compels me to say I’m sorry to my husband even when he’s wrong, and it shows me how to fight fair. I’m good at fighting. I can hurl my endless words and he can’t compete and I can win the argument, but I lose him in those moments. Kindness shows me how to fight for him and for us instead of for my rights so we can both win.

Still the one I learn the most from

Still the one I learn the most from

Love is kind.

And if I want my love to translate to my family, if I want them to not just know with their minds, but feel with their hearts, that I love them dearly, then I must not love without kindness.

Memories of my failures often threaten to bog me down in the quicksand of guilt. The tears well up and spill over even now as I type. Still, I have to choose to let grace, not guilt, cover my yesterdays and carry me into my tomorrows. I hope you will do the same.

When I do, I am sweetly reminded of a good God who will never give up on me and of a husband and children who have always extended more grace than I have deserved. And in such moments, I am grateful that I am the daughter of such a merciful God, wife of such a kind man, and mother of such forgiving children.

And I’m grateful to all of you who visit me here and see my heart through all my flaws.