pants off!

This is Salem. 
This is Salem being mad. 
This is Salem staying mad because I was taking his picture.
When Salem was younger… like 5 or 6 years old, instead of the whopping 7 years old he is now… he used to yell “Pants off!” and pull his pants down when he would get really mad.
It’s not hard for him to pull his pants down when he’s mad, because he’s a super skinny kid, and his pants are usually too big for him 99% of the time. 
I have tried to remedy this problem by dressing him in 3T clothing.
Really? a 6 year old wearing size 3 Toddler? 
Yes. a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do. 

We used to laugh when he yelled “Pants off!” because we are a sometimes childish family. 
And it is hilarious. 
“Salem, put your pants back on… Let’s talk about what’s upsetting you.”
He’s probably been frustrated his pants have never fit right.
When we are angry, we can feel out of control. 
So we yell out ridiculous things like “Pants off!” to control our feelings and the situation.
Why does he choose this way of expressing his anger?
I’m not 100% sure…, but it might have something to do with his nickname being “Mr. Pants” when he was a baby.
I used to call him “Mr. Pants” all the time.

Salem usually talks thru his anger within a reasonable amount of time. 
If he’s not saying “Pants off!” when he’s upset, he might instead declare, “I’m not wearing a seat belt! or “I’m not going to school ever again!”
Let’s face it, kids and adults find themselves getting angry at times. 
How do we deal with the anger? 
That’s a learned -sometimes complicated- answer. 
It has to be modeled and taught.
(Hopefully, Salem won’t need years of counseling to work thru these issues when he’s older.)

We are a family who loves to laugh. 
We also are open to crying, if need be.
In fact, my kids tell me I look and sound the same whether I’m laughing hysterically, or crying hysterically.
They can hardly tell the difference.
What can I say… my capability to display a range of emotions at any given moment keeps them on their toes. 
It’s a spiritual gift 😉

Our family thrives on Joy and laughter!
We laugh at ourselves and each other…
We help each other see the joy in all circumstances…
We help each other see things aren’t usually as serious as we make them.
We help each other recognize ~ life is short and we need to spend less time being angry… and more time loving and laughing!

Depending on the kid (or adult) and their personality, there are various healthy ways to handle anger.

Sometimes I am not the best example of how to handle anger…
I try and fail. and try again.
and fail again. 
This may sound simple, but…
The more I press in to God, the less angry I am.
I can *see* more clearly the issues that will potentially trigger my anger, and prepare myself to have a healthier response.

The more I seek God, the more I find Him.
and when I find Him, the anger melts away.  

So I press into God for myself…
I press into God for my marriage…
and I press into God for our kids…

I cover them in prayer, and if they become angry and yell “Pants off!”, I laugh.

What are the anger issues you or your child face?
How do you handle them?
Please share and thanks for reading!
In Him, Leslie

sometimes we need a pastors conference… and sometimes, we just need to fall apart

a few weeks ago we returned from an epic trip, visiting family and enjoying the pacific northwest.
after surviving our family vacation time, we traveled onto the great state of california to visit more family, and attend the national vineyard pastors conference in anaheim
my heart was full from family time, and my emotions were high with expectation for the conference time awaiting us…  
buuuut… after a trip to the beach, my excitement quickly faded…
and i fell apart…
sometimes moms need to fall apart.
disappointment, frustration, and tiredness had all set in. 
i could feel it growing inside me while we were at the beach. 
i was pissed off while we were at the beach. 
the beach was beautiful, the kids and adam were having a blast, but i was melting down internally.
as we were leaving the beach, i slipped and fell flat. on. my. butt. 
looking back at the scene, it was funny. (and thankfully i can laugh about it now)
but in that moment, i lost it. 
i fell apart. 
i wept from the beach all the way to the pastors conference for nearly 2 hours (while we were driving in heavy los angeles traffic, of course).
the kids were asleep, adam didn’t know what to do with me, or how to help me, and all i could do was weep. 
a pile of kleenex covered my feet on the floor of the car.
i blew my nose so much, my nose ring fell out. 
fall apart. give up. lose control. be selfish. let go.
that’s exactly what i needed to do. 
and in that time of weeping and losing it, i found it… 
God taught me so much thru the hot tears streaming down my cheeks… 
the words i managed to choke out in between sobs, so adam would know i was going to be okay.
i needed the freedom to cry.
and thru those tears, i began to see again.
they washed away my frustration, disappointment and anger.
when the tears subsided, my face was red and swollen, but i could see again. 
they washed away my human expectation and i could see with God’s vision. 
ironic ~ we were on our way to a pastors conference that we had planned for and dreamed about, and all i could do was weep. 
pastors give so much of themselves day in and day out… and the hope was to be poured into at the conference. 
our expectations were so high, they were bound to be disappointed. 

moms often feel that have to keep it all together ~ for the kids, for their spouse, for the sake of the family. 
and pastors carry that same burden ~ for their congregation, for their leaders, for the sake of the church.
but sometimes, we all need to fall apart…

Selah having one of her many meltdowns…

and do note the sign in the background referring to the kids still in the children’s ministry,
“please pick up your children [pretty please with sugar on top]”
isn’t it ironic? 😉 

the pastors conference was tough for our family. 
the kids were homesick. 
the girls wouldn’t go into their classes.
selah threw many a temper tantrum. 
the schedule was busy and time ran thin. 
it was difficult to glean from the conference, while balancing the needs of our family.
but God.
He is so good. 
He taught me so much thru my kids that week…
He showed me so much thru the ‘random’ people we talked with…
He poured into us in ways we never expected.
in our weakness, God is strongest.
in our frailty, God shows His power.
in our disappointments, God reveals His plans.
in our weeping, we let go so God can work.
sometimes we need to attend a pastors conference…
and sometimes, we just need to fall apart.

Thank you for reading~feel free to comment, share and follow us on halfwritten records.
In Him, Leslie 🙂

kick the box.

on Sunday we went to church…
I worshipped, experienced God’s presence, taught in children’s ministry, and had some fellowship.
then we left church, drove our one-minute commute around the corner, came back home…
aaaaaaand then… i had a meltdown.

the kids were whining.
the dog was annoying.
cold symptoms were lingering.
my patience was thinning.

I’m hungry!
I lost my Lego!
I can’t carry everything!
I wanna watch a movie!
I wanna play Mario!
I wanna let the dog back inside!
bitch – moan – gripe – complain – blah – blah – blah.
yes, even the Pastors kids act up. shocker.
fighting, arguing, dogs’ water splashing, mom. spiraling. losing. control…
I can’t take it anymore!!!

*blink blink* uh oh. mom’s pissed. silence fills the room.
the kids were quiet.
i went downstairs.
and kicked the crap out of an empty box in the garage.

now before you freak out and think ‘she has iiii-ssues’, i will be the first to admit – i do. 
i have anger issues. i lose my temper. i over-react.
and you can read about previous temper tantrums here, here and here.
and you will read about more tantrums that are sure to fill my future, if you continue following my awesome blog. *yes, this a plug* you should follow my blog.

and i digress… nothing new.
but this is not about ‘how can i keep from becoming angry and losing it’?
the real question is…what triggered my outburst?
routine. boredom. comfort.
same old-same old. day in-day out. nothing changing. nothing new happening.
i am called to something more… something different… something new…

there is a line of thought which celebrates – ‘hooray for routine’! 
routine is best for kids. you need to set up a schedule.
get more organized. develop a chore chart.
your life needs more balance.
ugh. i hate, loath, detest the word balance. i have been known to use that word on several occasions and when i catch myself saying it, i have to stop and re-phrase.
life is not about balance.
a balanced life suggests everything is in sync, in order, just right, perfect.
guess what? perfection doesn’t exist. 
routine is defined as a detailed course of action to be followed regularly; a standard procedure. a set of mechanically performed procedures or activities.
well guess what? i am not a robot.
routine is o.k. for my workout plan, but not for my life.
screw routine.

and this past Sunday, after my lil’ meltdown – after i kicked the crap out of the box in the garage – i came upstairs and laid on my bed for a few moments. gathered my thoughts and became a better mom. i talked with the kids. talked with Adam when he got home from church. and have since then changed things up. 

God gently showed me ~ in His great kindness and mercy ~ these routines have taken root in my day to day and become bad habits. for me. for the kids. for our family life.
God is creative! He is always moving, working, growing, renewing, restoring, changing, on and on and on and on and on… for our good.
I want to live life in His image ~ as a new creation! Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Life with Christ is an adventure. 
it is never boring. never comfortable. never routine.

on a recent car commercial i heard this quote. i tweaked it (adding the ‘on the dreams of’ part) and love it.
Inspiration dances on the dreams of the daring. 
my suggestion? dream with God. be daring. take risks. get worked up. screw routine. make a change. and if you need an extra wake – up, maybe you need to kick the box.

the mom who yells in the morning

hey there…
i’m the mom who yells in the morning.
you know, the one who gets worked up from the second she wakes up if her kids get up one. second. too. early.
for the past three weeks, since school has started, this mom has had her fair share of yelling.
and so it goes.
you see…
soleil started the third grade and salem started kindergarten and selah started getting on my nerves.
soleil started dreading school. 
salem started moving at a turtle’s pace.
selah started waking up at 5:30am and turning all the lights on. 
and i became the mom who yells in the morning.
soleil has had a tough time starting off this school year.
she misses home. she cries before school. she stomps her feet. she refuses to get dressed. she declares she ‘will not go to school today’.
then mom starts yelling. 
get dressed! get it together! you’re gonna have to be home-schooled! we’re gonna be late! i’m gonna have to sign you in! 
salem has also had a tough time starting school. 
he doesn’t want to stop playing legos. he throws a fit before getting dressed. he finally gets ready at a turtle’s pace.
then mom starts yelling.
go ahead and throw your little fit! once you’re over it, let me know! hurry up! get your shoes on! we gotta go! 
selah has become the kid who wakes up at 5:30am in the morning. 
are you kidding me?!? so not cool.
she wakes up. she turns on the lights. she starts to play. she wakes up her siblings.
then mom starts yelling.
go back to bed! you can’t have the light on! shhh! stop crying! shut it! 
lunch packed. folders signed. shoelaces tied. backpacks zipped. 
they are finally ready to go out the door.
we drive to school.
goodbye kids! have a great day! sorry… mommy… just yelled at you two seconds ago about turning on lights and moving at turtle speed and not wanting to go to school because you miss me when you are there…
the van door closes on my last whisper of sorry…
between clenched teeth i express raw emotion. 
with a gulp of hot air i yell out orders.
with a flick of the light on too early, i spew.
with the hint of an unbalanced morning, i ignite a fire squad of words toward my children.
so why have i become the mom who yells in the morning?
because yelling is one thing i can do. 
this mom has had a tough time starting school. 
she misses her kids. she wishes they didn’t have to grow up. she wants to erase their 2.5, 6 and 8 year old problems.
i can’t stop them from growing up.  i can’t experience life for them.  i can’t make all their decisions for them. i can’t erase all of their problems. i can’t control the ‘body clock’ of a 2.5 year old who wakes up and turns the light on. at way-too-early in the morning.
but i can yell.  i can yell. and for that single moment i feel better. i can feel like my yelling is helping to progress things along.
the mom who yells in the mornings quickly crumbles into shame.
regret grasps at her throat and chokes future lashes.
humanity reminds her tomorrow is a new day.
humility quiets her voice.
the kindness of God shows her forgiveness.
this forgiveness. this grace. this love… covers a multitude of sins.
and reminds me…
let go.
talk with them. help process their feelings. guide their decisions. listen well. be patient. continuously pray over them. don’t worry about being late. 
i don’t have to be the mom who yells in the morning.

Maybe, I overreacted…

On Saturday, we flew back to Ohio after spending time in the beautiful state of Oregon visiting P.A.’s family.  
We were supposed to fly back on Friday, but our first flight was delayed, causing us to miss the connection to our next flight home. 
Thankfully, we were able to find out about our delayed flight well before we got to the airport, and re-book to fly out the next day.
Airline travel for adults can be stressful.  

You pay an exorbitant amount of money to be scanned, questioned and stand in long lines for check-in and security, run thru large buildings, carrying several pounds of luggage, shuffling thru crowds of people, in and out of public restrooms, over-paying for any food you might need to purchase, only to most likely also have to deal with flight delays and cancellations, and end up squished into a seat like a sardine next to someone you do not know, who might even smell like a sardine or have some other weird habit you now have to deal with for the next three hours, while needing to use the bathroom within the first 30 minutes of the flight, but being denied access to the tiny port-o-potty because the seat belt sign is “still on” and you didn’t “plan” for the delay and drank too much water, so next time you “plan” to wear a diaper.
It can be even more stressful when you add three wee Bab’s. 
For our flight out to Portland a few weeks ago, our seats from ORD-PDX were all mixed up and the five of us were spread around the plane.  We purchased our tickets and chose our seats a few months ago, but the seats for our Chicago to Portland flight could not be chosen ahead of time online. I spoke with a customer service rep on the phone who told me we would need to take care of it at the airport.  When we arrived at the airport, after rushing thru check-in and security, we got to the gate to find out the flight from CMH-ORD had been grounded. All the flights were delayed, so whew, we still made our connection.  
In Chicago, the customer service rep was very helpful to try and find us seats together, while also dealing with other problems caused by the delays and other travelers on stand-by, who needed to be re-routed because of the delays.  She was able to find us 3 seats and 2 seats together, barring on the fact that we had to ask 1 of the passengers next to us if they would be willing to switch seats. It was confusing but she was very helpful and understanding. We were met with more help on the plane when the flight attendants gave us some *free* food to compensate for Adam having to wait on the plane for over 30 minutes carrying Selah in the backpack, while the rest of the passengers boarded, before he could ask if the passenger next to him would switch seats to his original seat, so he and Selah could sit together.  In the end, it worked out fine with Adam and Selah in the back of the plane, while Soleil and Salem and I were about 10 rows ahead. 
Usually I can keep it together when I’m traveling in stressful situations.  Flying out to Portland, we were patient thru all of the travel issues and thankful to be met with helpful desk agents and flight attendants… 
but flying back to Ohio was a different story…

Maybe, I overreacted. 
After our flight was changed from Friday to Saturday, we were even more anxious to get on the plane and come home.  We arrived early Saturday morning at PDX and were met with extra long lines, but made our flight with just enough time to grab our coffee and scones.  The flight was smooth and the 3 1/2 hours we spent squished in the very back row of the plane flew by. 
After arriving in Chicago, we ate our over-priced but very tasty lunch, then made our way to the gate to discover that 4 of our seats on this flight were together, with 1 seat 6 rows behind the others.  *side note* I still don’t understand why when we pay over $500 a ticket for 2 adults and 3 small children to sit together (previously declared on the passenger information and seats selected together online) we then find our seats to be apart. 
So, I went up to the gate and waited on the agent while chatting with another passenger who was on stand-by. Because of delays and flight problems on Friday, the Saturday flights were over-booked and people were at an all-time stress level.  
Including the gate agent.
I approached the counter to ask if the 1 seat could be changed to be closer to the other 4 seats.
“No, the flight is full” he responded in a robotic tone.
That still didn’t answer my question, so I politely asked again.
“No, you will have to change seats with someone on the plane.”
“Okay…” and I just walked away, feeling agitated with his short tone and unhelpful attitude; compared the other agent who shifted our seats around on our flight into Portland on that over-booked, delayed, messed up flying day.
As we waited to board, P.A. and I discussed how it would be fine to sit apart, in case no one wanted to change seats with him. I would sit with Selah and the older 2 kids would be right in front of us, with P.A. 6 rows back…
A few minutes later, the gate agent started boarding groups 1 & 2.  We walked up and without thinking of our “group number” handed him our boarding passes.  Again I was met with a robotic tone, “I’ve only called groups 1 & 2. You’re in group 5.” 
“Oh, I’m sorry I thought it was okay to board early since we have small children.”
“No, you’ll have to wait until I call group 5.”
So I backed out of the line, pulling Salem and Soleil out of the way and moving our luggage to make way for groups 3 & 4. Then I said to the agent, calmly but firmly. 
“You know, you don’t have to be so rude.”
Okay now I’m willing to admit that maybe… perhaps… possibly, I overreacted. 
I didn’t have to say anything, but I was thinking, every other flight we’ve taken this time and in previous years, the agent would call for those with small children or those who need additional time boarding to board with the earlier groups, even if your group number was later.
The gate agent proceeded to ignore my comment and checked in 2 people from groups 3 & 4 and then called group 5. So I moved all our crap and 2 of our kids out of the way so that within a matter of 60 seconds 2 more people could board before us. Wow.
I was so irritated at this point, and we were losing our patience.  We just wanted to get on the plane, get home and be done with it.  P.A. was behind me with Selah in the backpack and his luggage. As he handed the gate agent his boarding pass to check in, he asked “Sir, what’s your name?”  The agent would not give his name and proceeded to check a few more people in.  After I started walking down the ramp with Soleil and Salem to board, I turned back to find P.A. still calmly, but firmly persisting on asking the agent his name.  The agent still refused. 
*side note here* 
Both P.A. and I have spent our adult lives working with people and several years in Customer Service positions.  We realize that everyone has a bad day and stress levels can be at the max. Regardless, we always had to give our name when a customer would ask.
Regardless, Maybe… P.A. overreacted in persisting to ask for the agents name.  
After a few more times of asking, he would not give his name and P.A. proceeded to board and headed for the ramp. The agent then said, “You need to stay here, you can not board until I call group 7.” 
P.A. responded, “You’re saying I can’t board now with my family?”
The agent responded, “No, you’ll board in group 7 or I will call the TSA.”
All of this went down in less than 2 minutes, and when I turned back to see P.A. still at the entrance I said, “What’s going on?”
P.A. explained the situation and told us to go ahead.
Are you kidding me???  The TSA???  The Transportation Security Administration???
Really?? Is a man, asking for a name, while carrying a 2 1/2 year old on his back, really a security threat?
I continued down the ramp to go ahead board with Soleil and Salem (who were worried about leaving daddy behind), feeling extremely flustered and angry.  About 5 minutes later, P.A. and Selah boarded the plane. Everyone got settled in and I noticed and empty seat across the row from Soleil and Salem. I asked the flight attendant if my husband could move up, once everyone had boarded, if the seat was still available. He said “No.” I could feel myself getting upset again, not understanding, so I just asked, “So, there’s just gonna be an empty seat here?”. He replied and explained that the flight attendant he was training would be sitting there part of the time. AND, that it would be considered an “upgrade” to move anyone from the back to this seat, since these seats had up to 5 extra inches of leg room and people paid extra to sit in them. I thought to myself, really?? I didn’t pay any extra to be less of a sardine.  These seats were just randomly assigned to us after we were re-booked from our flight delay yesterday. So, lucky us, I guess.  
At least the kids got to enjoy some extra leg room.

Really, I appreciated the flight attendant explaining to me the *reason* why Adam couldn’t move up and talking to me slightly above a robotic tone of voice.  
The flight was fine, and I had time to check myself and pray about my attitude toward the gate agent. Selah and Salem took naps, so I also had time to analyze why flying first class, business first, regular business class and now the *new* extra leg room class is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.  You can pay way more money to be slightly less of a sardine and get served your juice first, or pay an additional $49 and get 5 extra inches of leg room.  That equals just about $10 per extra inch. wow.
Aside from the cast system in India, I’ve really never heard of anything so ridiculous. 
I am no longer a “frequent flyer” or on a “gold program” like I used to be when I worked for Women of Faith and traveled to their conferences…  I am just a mom, with 3 wee Babs trying to visit their Grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins once a year who wants to sit squished like a sardine next to her husband, instead of 6 rows away from him.
Maybe I overreacted… but perhaps not?
And maybe next time, we will just forgot the stress of airports, airplanes and gate agents and trade that stress for the family-fun of driving the 40 hours and 2,500 miles to travel to Oregon. 
Sure, there will still be stress… but we will enjoy the journey and try not to overreact.

What stressful situations have you overreacted in?  
And if you’re perfect and never overreact, no worries, you don’t have to answer the question.