On Seeking Advice a.k.a. Temper Tantrum Survival

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Photo by Alexa’s Photography

My not-quite-two-year-old wanted to walk. She had developed a habit of dashing out into parking lots, so I decided that lunch time at Chick-fil-A was not the time to allow her to practice being independent.

When I scooped her up in my arms, she immediately began to throw a full-out temper tantrum. She screamed, clawed at my face, told me to “go away”, yanked at my hair, and convulsed her body in such a way that I could barely hold onto her with my one free arm.

We somehow managed to make it to the car safely, but I was flustered. This wasn’t the first time she had responded to me that way. My daughter, who was usually very affectionate and loving, was making it a habit to behave in a way that could not be tolerated.

Our discipline often involves giving our children the opportunity to make choices, and then giving appropriate consequences when poor choices are made. My instinct was that this method would not work in this situation. In the midst of such a violent temper tantrum, I certainly could not expect my daughter to make, let alone verbalize, an appropriate choice. Neither did I want to invoke a physical consequence for a situation in which she was lashing out physically.

I knew I needed to seek advice.

If I needed financial advice, I would have asked someone who uses a strong financial knowledge to handle money well. If I needed legal advice, I would have gone to a well-known lawyer whom I could trust to point me in the right direction. If I needed medical advice, I would have booked an appointment at my doctor’s office.

Facebook wouldn’t be the place to answer my questions.

Facebook is a great way to connect with people, and can often be a great place for resources. But certain questions require an expert in the field to answer them. I strongly believe that when it comes to seeking advice on raising my children, I should always consult an expert in the field.

Think about it. Let’s say I posted my scenario on a mommy board. Undoubtedly, I would receive quite a few responses from all kinds of people giving me their take on the situation. Might some of the advice be good, even great? Absolutely. But how would I know where to start? What credibility do these individuals have when it comes to answering my question? Do these families hold similar beliefs to my own? Do their children behave in a manner that I want my own children to model? Do I even know them?

I don’t take the raising of my children lightly. I have been given a huge responsibility and I want to get it right. My Facebook community may have been able to help me feel less alone in the struggle, but it wouldn’t be my source for seeking advice.

For this situation, I decided to ask an expert in the field. Kathy White is the Children’s Pastor for nursery and preschool ages at Daystar Church. She has worked in ministry with little children most of her life. She has raised three respectful boys of her own. I knew that by asking Kathy, I would have her years of experience on my side. I could trust what she would say because I had seen the results of her labor of love in ministry and at home.

Her advice? It was simple. She told me to hold my daughter close and take her hands in mine. While looking into her eyes, I should quietly, yet firmly, say things like, “We do not hit. We use soft touches.” I should then take her hand and use it to gently stroke my face. “Soft touches.”

It wasn’t long before I had a chance to try out my new response. Her sister had something she wanted, so she yanked hair to get it. I calmly took her hands in my own and let her know we do not pull hair. She simply smiled and said, “Okay, Mommy.” And then gave her sister a kiss and an apology.

Situation diffused. It’s been weeks since I’ve witnessed a full-blown temper tantrum. We will always have moments when we need to discuss the appropriate response, but for now, I get to witness her becoming more and more mature as she learns to respond with kindness instead of frustration.

I am proud of my little girl. And I am thankful to know an expert like Kathy White.

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.” (Proverbs 3:13-18; NLT)

*Kathy has a blog of her own at https://theworldaccordingtomrsfarquhar.wordpress.com. I highly recommend you check it out as she has many words of wisdom.

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How Motherhood is Changing My Relationship with God

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Image by Alexa’s Photography

“Is Jesus in my heart yet?”

This is the question I asked my mom the day after I decided to give Him my life. I don’t remember how old I was, perhaps 6 or 7, but I very clearly remember promising myself that I was never going to do anything wrong again.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to make good on that promise.

For the most part, I did a pretty good job. I mean, there may have been that year I lied about doing my math lessons. I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. I’ve been selfish and unloving. But overall my life has been a stellar example of what it looks like to follow the rules.

When I was a student, my biggest struggles had to do with making the best grades. My rule book told me to work harder, make the right friends, and get in good with the teachers in order to meet my goals. It pretty much worked. If I didn’t make the grade I wanted, I could pinpoint where I had fallen short in my rules.

I struggled as a teacher, but always found that following the rules helped me succeed. It took me a while to figure out these rules, but they all seemed to boil down to one idea: keep everybody informed. I could help my students succeed simply by staying in touch with parents, colleagues, and administration.

In regards to my faith, I have been very diligent about keeping the rules. Church every Sunday. Quiet times first thing in the morning. Participation in Bible studies. Volunteering and leading at church. Guarding my heart as a single. The list goes on.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have always done these things because I have truly loved them and have seen the benefit of various disciplines in my life. My heart has always been to follow Jesus and serve Him in every aspect of my being. The difference now, is that having children makes it so much harder for me to be successful in all of these rules.

Children are a blessing from God in many ways. For me, one of the biggest blessings has been how they’ve killed my pride. My rules are falling all apart.

As a mom, I’m learning that being a rule follower is a whole lot easier when life plays by the rules. It’s pretty stinkin’ hard when the rules blow up in your face.

Sometimes, particularly in the first months, quiet times are hard to come by. My ability to volunteer on a whim has greatly diminished because of the need for childcare. It makes me sick to see how angry and flustered I can become over simple little happenings throughout our day. I see more and more how I am failing at my rules.

In essence, motherhood is showing me just how much grace I need. I’ve always loved Jesus, but as my children bring my sinful heart to the forefront, I see how much I truly need Him.

So, how is motherhood changing my relationship with God? It’s making me realize to a greater degree that being good at keeping rules is much more likely to lead to pride than anything else. It’s making me appreciate all the more what Christ sacrificed for me, even though I don’t deserve it. It’s teaching me to cling to Him in all my messy moments.

And He loves me for it.

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8; NLT)

My Love/Hate Relationship with Breastfeeding

*One of my biggest pet peeves with breastfeeding is the social stigma attached to it. Do I think “breast is best?” Yes. But I also know that many families make a different choice because it is best for their family. If you are on a different path, blessings to you! I believe that choice was made with great care, and for that, I honor you.*

It’s official! My youngest has been weaned from breastfeeding. I am, therefore, dedicating this post to the joys and woes of my breastfeeding experience.

What I love about breastfeeding: 

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This soundly sleeping baby is brought to you by breast milk!

Nothing better. There really is nothing better than breastmilk. One of the many things that fascinates me about God, is how He created our bodies to naturally provide the perfect nutrition for our babies at various stages of their development. While I’m amazed at how advanced formula has become, breastmilk has unique qualities that just can’t be found anywhere else.

The solution to everything. Is the baby tired? Hungry? Sad? Irritable? Lonely? Teething? Sick? Persnickety? Breastfeeding is your answer. All of life’s trials are quickly forgotten and everything is happy once again when baby is able to breastfeed. I don’t really know why, it just works.

Convenience. The convenience of breastfeeding is such a gift. It’s always the right temperature, it’s the perfect amount, you don’t have to stuff as many bulky things in the diaper bag, and if you stay out longer than planned, you don’t have to be concerned about whether baby has enough to eat. And let’s face it, sleep-deprived moms need one less thing to worry about.

The bonding. There is a special connection between mom and baby that is found only in breastfeeding. One of my favorite memories with my youngest was when I returned home after being gone for 24 hours. She had plenty to eat during my absence, but when I sat down to let her breastfeed she immediately relaxed. She wasn’t old enough to realize she had questions, but in that moment, all of those questions were answered. Everything that was wrong with the world was suddenly right.

But let’s be real; sometimes I really hate breastfeeding:

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Hooray for the introduction of solid foods!

The only solution. It is so frustrating to know that you are the only person who can make everything better. Hubby offers to help with bedtime? Too bad. Baby screams until she gets to nurse. Out and about running errands? You have to stop in the middle of what you are doing to breastfeed or baby will disrupt all of Target.

It’s messy. So Messy. With my first, I ended up with an overabundance of breastmilk. I count this as a blessing because I know many people struggle with the opposite issue, but it makes for some pretty messy experiences. For months and months I had to wear bulky breast pads and I always had numerous burp cloths to catch the inevitable spills.

Wardrobe issues. When breastfeeding, it is necessary to always consider if your outfit is breastfeeding appropriate. Will I be covered enough? Will I be too covered? I’ve made mistakes on both ends of the spectrum. Now that we are through, I so appreciate being able to wear whatever I want!

So inconvenient. Let’s say you want to go on a date. Or do something that doesn’t involve baby. Will she take a bottle? The process of convincing a baby that a bottle is just as good, but not too good, can be quite stressful. Sometimes it’s just easier to bring baby along! And for all my working mom friends, kudos to you! I will never cease to admire all the work you put into preparing breastmilk for your baby. Speaking of which…

Feeling like a cow. Pumping is awkward. That is all.

It can hurt. Maybe it’s just me, but that first month always seems to be the worst. Blisters? Yowsers! Sometimes I was so sore, I would start crying if the baby wanted to nurse. That would eventually go away, and then a few months later, the teething would begin. A hard chomp with nothing but gums is enough to make me squeal and scare the baby half-to-death. Thankfully, my reaction typically freaked baby out enough to prevent future occurrences.

The cover. Sometimes, moms are chastised for using a cover when breastfeeding. I use a cover because I am more comfortable using a cover. I am ultra conservative, so I would rather cover myself to prevent my own embarrassment should someone accidentally see something. On the other hand, I have quite a few friends who discreetly breastfeed in public without a cover. In your journey with your baby, you will learn what works best for you.

The takeaway:

I can be emotional about a lot of things, but the end of my breastfeeding experience has not been one of them! If anything, I rejoiced!! I am thankful to have walked this road, and now I am thankful for it to be over. Now, I am one step closer to seeing my girls walk into the destiny God has created for them.

“LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD – now and always.” (Psalm 131; NLT)

Welcoming New Life

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Isn’t he such a handsome fellow? (photos provided by his mommy)

I have a friend who I admire deeply. She is choosing a path of faith and hope in the midst of what most would call utter darkness. She has recently brought into this world the precious life of a little boy; her son. Every mother knows the joys and challenges that a new baby brings, but her circumstances are rare. She has chosen life in a situation when many would have chosen death. I am proud of her and the choices that she has made.

Today, with her permission, I am sharing with you the letter I wrote to her for her baby shower. While this letter is written specifically to her, no matter who we are and no matter what our circumstances, we could all use a little reminder of some Truth:

Dear Friend,

Welcome to motherhood! This has been one of my favorite phases of life. There is something so special about seeing my babies grow and learn under my influence. There are times that I am stretched beyond my wildest dreams, and times that I sit back and think about how blessed I am to be entrusted with these precious lives.

God has designed for you to be this little boy’s mommy. Along the way you will face challenges and triumphs. Here are a few truths and promises that you can cling to as you navigate these new waters:

  • You are courageous. In a world that would lead you to choose a different path, you have chosen the hard thing. God will honor this. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6; NIV)
  • You have chosen to follow God’s commands whole-heartedly, even in overwhelming circumstances. There is no question that the Lord blesses those who seek His face and His counsel. “Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.” (Psalm 112:1; NIV)
  • The LORD will be your strength. When the enemy comes to deceive you with lies, when it seems all of your circumstances are against you, know that God is good and He will be your rock.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31; NIV)

  • By the very definition of his name, your son will be resolved to protect the innocent as he carries the name of Christ to the lost. He will not follow in the footsteps of his earthly father, but those of his heavenly Father. “God decided in advance to adopt us in his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5; NLT)
  • Our God is the giver of life. He has a specific purpose in mind for your son, and you are called to be his mother. He is calling your family to great things. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10; NASB)
  • God promises us so much joy. There are over 300 references in the Bible on this topic alone. Trust in Him and you will have joy. Cherish the moment you see your son for the first time, because His Word teaches that the joy in that moment is like the joy we will have when He returns for His people. “It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:21-22; NLT)

If you need anything, have any questions, or just need someone else to talk to, I am here for you.

Love,

Amanda

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Sleep well little one!

Thirty

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Photo credit: Alexa’s Photography

I’ll be thirty this month.

At sixteen I got to drive a car.

At eighteen I got to go off to college and vote.

At twenty-one I was old enough to buy alcohol. What I actually did was tell my waiter that it was my twenty-first birthday and then ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri. Just because I could. I like to think of myself as a rebel in the oddest sense of the word.

At twenty-five I was a quarter of a century old, and for a math nerd, that was pretty fun.

Then it all blurred together and one day I realized, “I’m turning thirty this year.” Yikes.

My dad is the one who initially reminded me of my milestone birthday. So, when I do get a little depressed at the idea, I simply remind myself, “At least I’m not the parent of a thirty-year-old!” I’m kidding, but not really. Love ya, Daddy ;).

Truth is, I’m not really sure how I feel about thirty. I still think of myself as young, but the twenties are disappearing fast! Everyone says that metabolism slows dramatically the second you hit thirty, and since I’ve still got some baby tummy, that’s not exactly a pleasant thought. And then I think, “I’m almost a decade older than when I graduated college.” Wow.

On the other hand, thirty sounds rather intriguing. Have you ever seen the movie, “13 Going on 30?” It makes thirty sound exciting, fun, and even dream-worthy. I’ve also entered in to a whole new phase of life as a mom and I look forward to seeing how this new decade shapes my girls and my marriage.

Mostly, when I think about turning thirty, I’m evaluating how I’ve lived my life thus far, and how I can grow moving forward. How is my relationship with God? How am I doing when it comes to loving others? Is my life making an impact for the kingdom? Where should I focus my time and energy, and what things should I let go?

I am extremely grateful for so many things in my life. I truly feel blessed beyond imagination when I consider all that I get to call mine. For things like my husband, family, friends, church, home, and the opportunity to stay home. I pray that in everything, my response is always to cling to God and that He will use my life to produce more life.

So, here’s to thirty. May you bring more sleep, or at the very least, may I stop caring about sleep so much.

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’S own house.They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” (Psalm 92:12-14; NLT)