we had this really incredible afternoon, uhmmmm, i think it was a couple of weeks ago? mark and one of the boys had picked out some ice cream in the morning while they were out. so i thought it'd be a good idea to have an ice cream snack with daddy before he left for his evening job at jb music. able and shiloh had missed their nap. the day had been one of those that just catches up with you. we dished out some ice cream, but our nice time with daddy before work didn't turn out quite as i had in mind. the kids were hyper and crazy - not listening when i instructed them to quiet down - interrupting our attempts at conversation - and mark was distracted at the computer for half of the time - not really with us . . . so when mark gave the word that he needed to run, i just about melted in disappointment. feeling frazzled, i left everyone at the table with strict orders to not make a noise, watched mark drive off, and shut myself in the little entry room at the front door to be ALONE. full of tears, i remember crying out to God. i usually do in those moments. but it was not a prayer of faith, just desperation. a what is wrong with me and why am i so upset and some complaints of sorts and a pleading "HELP!" kind of prayer.
the amazing part of this story is God's answer. somehow?!?!, even though my thoughts were pretty jumbled, i was able to sort out 2 problems. the first was that i was full of expectations for our "family time snack" and hadn't communicated those ideas to mark. so getting mad at him wasn't gonna fix anything. i had to put that trouble aside for the moment. second, the kids were disobeying me, and instead of correctly correcting them, i got angry.
so i came back to the table and the very quiet kids. i had resigned myself to a very long and miserable evening, but knew i at least need to confess for being angry. and in my waaaaaaaay too many words (another usual of what i do in those moments) i started off telling them something like this: "i was really wrong to yell at you. it was wrong for me to be angry with you. will you please forgive me?" . . . they did . . . "you know, i get angry a lot. but i want you to know that i REALLY love you. i think sometimes you might think that i don't love you when i get angry at you. hmmm. the thing is that i'm not really angry at you, but at your disobedience. the problem is (and here's where the lights not only went on, but the lights were flashing!!! whoa, this is great!!!) hey, daddy and i have been reading a book that talks about this! the problem is: when i give you instructions you don't obey right away or you have bad attitudes with me. so what i really should be getting angry at is the problem that is between us, not at you. but . . . okay let me show you on the marker board!"
so i drew something like this picture. i explained that the brother and sister in the picture have a BIG problem between them. we came up with some pretty crazy examples and had a great time laughing over them. so here's one example: the sister has a toy that the brother wants (or was already playing with or something like that)
now the brother usually sees his sister as the problem and gets angry at her.
if he punches her in the nose, what do you think she will do?
do you think she will give him the toy? NO WAY! she will whine and scream and make a big fuss and go tell mom among many other things.
and then the brother might call her a baby and a tattletale and so forth.
what happens to the problem? the problem just turns into a monster and gets bigger and bigger.
so what should the brother and sister do? how can they make the problem go away? they need to think about what the problem is and then talk about it.
so what is the problem? the problem is that the brother and sister both want the same toy.
then instead of attacking each other, they can attack the problem by talking about the problem.
brother: can i play with that toy?
sister: no, i'm playing with it.
brother: but i had it first. i had to go to the bathroom and put it down. i was coming right back to play with it again. sister: well, i have an idea! how about we take turns?!?
some the beauties of this are that as the children learn to communicate respectfully toward one another, they are also finding ways to resolve their problems without ever having to even involve the mommy who doesn't like playing the figure out what's fair in this situation game!
this was just the beginning of my waaaaaay too many words. we continued at the table for well over an hour! i know, my kids are amazing! to sit that long and participate! even the littles! AND we had the BEST time laughing and talking and learning together!!! (we talked about another big issue troubling our family too, but that will be saved for a future blog.) anyways, what i really wanted to share was that God used the troubling circumstance, and then our loooooong table talk to unexpectedly solve an issue that has troubled our family for a long time. this might not seem like a big deal, but it has been huge for this momma. for so long i have wanted a solution to the endless arguments and troubles. this day and conversation was something that i have longed for for sooo long. and this is just the beginning!
another cool thing was that mark and i have been reading a book called "the heart of anger" by lou priolo together each tuesday morning. it had been weeks before that we had read the chapter illustrating this problem lesson. God timed our reading, my understanding, the troubles, and then let us learn something all together by putting what we read into practice! and it seems that God had me wait until i could see the need to reach my children's hearts, not just fix the problem.
then to top it off, i got a text message from mark apologizing for overlooking the table trouble. he never sends me little i love you messages like that. it was sweet! i called him up to ask a question about something, thank him for the text, and tell him something awesome was happening in our home (but i'd fill him in later). then i received an e-mail from the front counter at jb music?! it was another sweet message from mark!! by the time mark got home i was so hyper. just thrilled and excited at what God was teaching me and our children - together!!
of course, the newness has worn off. the following day was totally rough! and we've definitely had our normal share of problems that are unresolved and continue to trouble us. there is really no "fix it" solution that changes our hearts from selfishness and sin. but there is one "fix it' that gives me hope to press on. and that is that we have a God who is bigger than our troubles. He loves us and is always working to win our hearts and show us that He is the answer to our problems!