Four Ways to Feel Angry Less

So as I previously posted, I had spoken about mom anger at a MOPS group last month.  I thought I should take the time to share a bit of what I shared with that group.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’ve struggled with controlling my responses towards my kids when I’m angry.  Over the years, through trial and error, lots of practice with anger management techniques, and lots of help from the Holy Spirit, I’ve definitely improved.  But along the way I’ve also learned that there are proactive things I can do to help me feel angry less often.

Here are four things you can do to stop angry feelings before they start:

  • Understand Your Anger

Look at your anger as a warning light.  It can be an indicator of changes you need to make.  Ask yourself two questions:  “Are there underlying emotions or stresses in my life that cause me to feel angry?” and, “Are there certain situations or circumstances that tend to trigger my angry feelings?”.  If you track your angry feelings over a period of time, you will likely find common triggers for your anger.  Once you know the triggers, then you can focus on making changes that will prevent or decrease your triggers and result in less anger.

  • Make Time for Self-care

Mothering can be tough and can push you to the limit of your physical, emotional, and mental energy.  If you are feeling empty it is so much easier to act out in anger.  Be sure you are taking time to care for yourself.  Determine what revives and refreshes you, and do it!  Investing in your self-care not only benefits you, but it benefits your family as well.

  • Get Perspective and Support from Friends

Friendships can help you on this journey in so many ways!  Having some deep and authentic friendships gives perspective, support, accountability, and encouragement.  Sometimes your expectations of yourself or your kids are too high, leading to frustration and anger.  Friends can provide perspective.  Friends can support you by praying for you and by holding you accountable for your responses.  Sometimes a hug and word of encouragement from a friend can take you a step further to healing.

  • Seek God in Your Weakness

Struggles can be an avenue for growing faith in God.  Nehemiah 9:17 says, “…you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”  Getting to know God better and growing closer to Him brings change in our lives because we become more like him.

If you struggle with anger, know that you are not alone.  You are not outside the limits of God’s love, and He can bring change in you.

Tell me, have you struggled with anger as a mom?  What are your best tips for feeling angry less and also for managing your responses when you’re angry?

His mercies are new every morning.

So today I spoke at a local MOPS group about anger.

You guys, I can’t even tell you what an amazing God we have.

There was a mom there who I felt was the reason I was there.  I could just tell by the look in her eyes and some of her comments that she is where I was years ago.

Prone to anger and wondering how she became an angry mom.  Asking herself and God why controlling herself when she feels angry is so hard.  Feeling like a failure as a mom.  Filled with guilt.  Probably shame.  Hoping against all hope that she hasn’t messed up her kids too badly.

But God.  God was there in that room with us.  By the grace of God alone have I been changed, and by the grace of God alone am I able to share my story.  And it’s not just my story, but it’s really His story.

A story of grace, mercy, forgiveness, love – beyond explanation.

I shared lots of practical tips.  But that’s not the important part. The important part I shared is that if as a mom you struggle with anger – you are not alone.  And there is hope for change.

That hope comes from God alone.  Nehemiah 9:17 says “…you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

Any change in me has come from getting to know and understand and FEEL and accept God’s love for me.

He is forgiving,

gracious,

compassionate,

slow to anger,

abounding in love.

When we get closer to Him, we become like Him.  We can become forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love for our kids.

I have struggled with anger – which led to guilt and then depression – for years.  I would make imperfect progress, but it was so, so slow.  At times I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t bringing the change in me that I hoped for.  The thing was that this struggle was more about my growing in my relationship with Him than it was about my relationship with my kids.

And all of the sudden this year, I feel like the “morning” has come and the dark cloud of night is gone.  God’s mercy is new.  For the first time in probably 12 years I feel like I have a measure of victory – all because of Him.  And I say that knowing full well that I still need to rely on Him every moment.  I can’t explain His process well – but I know my part in it was seeking Him over and over again, not giving up, and continuing to surrender myself to His will.

And today I’m just amazed at His mercy, grace, and faithfulness to me.  Over the years I have always stood on Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”  I didn’t know how God would use this struggle for good, but I trusted.

All along as I’ve made slow progress in this area, I’ve known that He was pulling me closer and making me more like Jesus, as it says in verse 29.  But seeing Him today use my struggle to encourage and point someone else toward Him was more beautiful than I could ever ask for.

God is so good.

We are the world-changers, moms!

WE are the world- changers, moms, and don’t ever forget it!

Lately I’ve been hearing and thinking a lot about the culture that we live in today and all that’s wrong with it.  The recent presidential debate had me cringing.  The fact that many think it’s acceptable for our presidential candidates to taunt and put one another down in such immature fashion is so disheartening to me.

It seems like every week a crime occurs in my community that’s got people on facebook bemoaning what’s become of our society.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it, too.  Some adolescents swearing in Target the other day had me thinking along those same lines.

But this morning.

This morning God opened my eyes to something, as I was again having similar thoughts about the decline of our culture – no one has manners anymore, kids don’t know how to work hard (etc.).  How can anyone do anything to turn this around?

And I felt God point my finger right back at me and say that it’s us, moms, that can change the world.

We want adolescents and young adults to be more responsible, to work hard, and to take pride in their work?  Then it’s our job to teach them that.

We want people to honor others above themselves, to be kind and considerate to others?  It’s our job to teach our kids.

We want society not to be so vulgar?  Again, it’s our job to teach our kids.

No one person can change the world – but WE, moms, WE collectively can change the world by choosing each day to work toward that end.  By being prayerful and thoughtful about how we raise our children.  We have such tremendous power to change the world, the culture, for good. And it starts with us – how we act and react to the world around us.  How we teach and train our children.  How we pray and invest and love well.

Let’s get to it, friends.

This hope.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. "
~Hebrews 16:19  

Life gets real, doesn’t it?

It seems like in your 40s, it gets really real.  Marriages end.  You can no longer control your kids exposure to “the world” as much as you might want to.  People get sick.  Maybe you aren’t where you thought you’d be at this point in life.  Your own body starts to turn against you.  You lose your job.  You lose loved ones.  Someone close to you gets cancer.  Your kids make mistakes – maybe big ones.  There are new challenges to deal with.

All of these with increasing regularity.

Really Real, I tell you!  I feel it and I see it and I experience it in and around me.

But this.  God has been providing us with some amazingly beautiful sunrises lately.  Not only does the sun rise every morning, even on hard days – but the creator of all things gives us a bonus and makes it beautiful for us.

sunrise

It has just been a reminder for me that my hope is solely in God.  He is faithful, unchanging, and loves me more than I can fathom.

This hope.

This hope is an anchor for my soul.

Happy 2016!

Merry Christmas (a few weeks late) and Happy New Year!

Here’s a picture of our family at church on Christmas Eve.  It’s been so long since we’ve actually gotten a picture together as a family and it kind of shocked me to see how tall my kids have gotten!

22

So 2016 is here, the kids have been back to school for a week now, and I guess it’s time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I feel God calling me in this new year.

Although I just posted in December about these verses having been laid upon my heart last year, I feel God continuing to tell me I need to keep these in focus for 2016.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This is what I wrote in my prayer journal a few days ago – so that I could put these themes into practice in my life.

Rejoice always – find joy in being present with my people (not being distracted by to-do lists or technology), live life to the full as if today is my last day (John 10:10), focus on the positive

Pray continually – continue to spend time with God each morning, get better at seeking Him during the day before responding/reacting to situations, pray instead of worry, make a habit of praying as a couple

Give thanks – continue my thankfulness journal, search for the good that God might bring out of every situation, be content with what and to where God has brought me

Feel free to remind me of these throughout the year if you think I’ve forgotten!

Where do you feel God calling you to focus your energy in 2016?

He will make your paths straight.

It’s funny how many turns a year can take, isn’t it?  I guess that’s just part of life.  And I can’t even handle that it’s nearly mid-December.  But I am so glad that God promises us in Proverbs 3:6 that if we acknowledge him, he will make our paths straight.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you may know I set goals at the beginning of every year.  I never posted them, but here were my goals for 2015:

  1. After losing a paycheck and feeling like my house (and in turn my mind) were basically in chaos, one of my goals was to (daily) make sure my kitchen table and dining room table were cleaned off.  In January, I did great.  In the same vein, I wanted to reduce clutter so I joined a clutter free challenge (link here in case you’re interested) and it went really well.  With each piece of “stuff” I got rid of, I felt free-er and lighter. Then life happened.  Ha!  You should see my kitchen table this morning, piled up with papers and books and bags and mail, and whatever else my kids dropped there!!  But in between there has been what my favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, calls “imperfect progress”.
  2. Another of the things I wanted to work on this year was being a more constant pray-er.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually” and I really wanted to have a more constant connection with God in my daily life.  Again, there has been imperfect progress here.
  3. Enjoy life more.  I tend toward seriousness and I wanted to lighten up a little.  One way was to try to play more games with my kids and that has definitely added a bit of fun to our lives.  We’ve been playing backgammon a lot this year and now my two youngest usually beat me!

As 2015 wore on and I was having some health issues, I added another focus for the year – to be more content and thankful for what I have.  Laying on the couch all of July made me realize that there is so much to life that I take for granted!!

So here’s what’s so neat about the way God works.  As my kids started school in September and I was struggling to get everything in order (even the kitchen table!).  I was going to write 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on my chalkboard in the kitchen so I would be reminded to abide with God each moment during  week.  As I looked it up, I read the whole passage:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t that interesting?  I started just with intentionally working on just verse 17 at the beginning of the year but what God has really been working in me has been all of verses 16-18!  Through the course of the year these themes of rejoicing, prayer, and thankfulness have just been rewritten on my heart over and over again.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Amen and amen!

 

 

 

how to have that hard conversation you’ve been putting off

This topic has come up  so much recently that I thought I’d write down some thoughts I have about it.  Conversations with friends and with MOPS leaders I work with – How do I approach a hard topic with a friend?  How do I tell someone on my team that they aren’t pulling their weight?  How do I talk to someone who is overstepping my boundaries?  I think most people at some point find themselves in a situation where they feel like they need to have a hard conversation with someone – and it just seems to come naturally to some people and not so naturally to others.

By nature, I do not like conflict.  In fact, my natural reaction to most conflict is just to quietly back away.  But I’ve learned most times that’s not the best way to deal!  I am not an expert by any means, but I feel like God has taught me a lot about this over the years.  Eighteen years of marriage, three kids, and many years in women’s ministry leadership has given me lots of in-the-trenches experience that I’ve been able to learn from – and I’m still learning!  When I first thought about this, I was thinking from a leadership perspective – interacting with people you lead or work with.  But as I re-read, I think these really can also be applied to friendships, marriages, and even parenting to a degree.

So here goes… some things to consider when you’re feeling like you’ve got to have a tough conversation with someone.

  1. First of all, does this issue even need to be addressed?  What is my motive in this?  Proverbs 19:11 says “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”  Simply take it to God in prayer and let him work in your heart and lead you.  Oftentimes  things (offenses!) that are slight, momentary, or inadvertent are best overlooked.
  2. Am I the person to address this issue?  Sometimes in leadership you may see an issue/conflict arise with another person, but you may not be in the best position to address it.  There may be someone either with the authority or who is simply closer to the person or the issue who is in a better position to discuss it with them.  We must take care that in trying to figure this out we do not resort to gossiping.  Prayer is really the best way to find out if God is calling YOU to have the conversation.  Pray, pray, and pray some more, asking God to give you a clear calling and pure motives.
  3. Once you feel that God is calling you to this conversation, do it as soon as possible.  Sometimes we think (or hope!) problems will just fade away on their own, but more often than not, they will just get worse if we give them time!  Plan ahead and think about the setting you want for the conversation and then make that happen.  Privacy (initially it’s always best to have these conversations one-on-one ) and a location where you won’t be interrupted or distracted is always best.  Make sure there will be enough time to do the conversation justice.
  4. Again, ahead of time, think about the best way to phrase what you want to say.  Use “I” statements as much as you can.  Don’t generalize (in other words don’t use the words “always”, “never”, etc.).  Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  If you cannot figure out how to say what you have to say in love, then God is likely not calling you to this conversation – or at least not yet!
  5. When you do have the conversation, start out with some positives, and be sincere!  Then move on to seeking deeper understanding about the issue at hand.  Using the phrase, “Help me understand where you’re coming from.” is so useful.  Maybe you don’t know the full story!  Listen and look for common ground – because that’s where you start coming up with a solution to the conflict.

So what do you think?

What are your best tips for having a hard conversation?