{Rest} Help Defense + When You’re Not the Strong One

This is the year I found my limits. That I’m not actually invincible. 

I have had many seasons with surplus. Extra to give away… extra strength, extra faith, extra time, extra money. And it actually feels so good to be the strong one and to give away what God has given you.

But this year I learned a different lesson. What it’s like when you’re not the strong one. And there is actually sweetness to be found there too.

I spent all of February and all of November super sick. That mind over matter thing only works for so long and then eventually your body just taps out and says, “Enough! I’m done here. Checking out.” It was all just too much. (You can read that post here: Oh, Hey, Here’s the Bottom.)

About that same time is when “Angry Mom” started to come out. Yeah, that was a red flag that I’m not doing great and need to make some major changes. Here’s what I learned in my Momma’s Anger Management class (from my last post):

How I react as parents is directly connected to how I am doing emotionally.
I am kidding myself if I think I can run on E and then still be awesome with my kids. Maybe this should have been more obvious to me? Taking this class was kind of like pulling a thread that starts unraveling a sweater. It’s not just that I need to try harder and have better self control. I needed to move some big rocks in my life if I don’t want to be an angry mom. So really, this was just the beginning. The tipping point that triggered more changes.

Apparently rest is required… 

There is a mental shift that needed to happen and also some practical changes.

Mentally – I had to learn how to let go and let my people love me. Let go of achievement + accomplishment. Let people take care of me. Let other people take care of my kids. Let someone else carry the torch. Delegate the details of life (that I actually love to manage). Let go of control. Rest in the hands of my maker. Trust that he has me, he’s holding my people, the best I can do is give what I have and trust Him with all of the gaps. (There are gaps! and He’s still good).

Practically – I just have to sleep! There’s no way around it or other way to solve this… I HAVE TO SLEEP.

Read this stunning statistic:

Depression is often measured by scientists using something called the Hamilton Scale. It runs from 0 (where you are dancing in ecstasy) to 59 (where you are suicidal). Improving your sleep patterns gives you a movement on the Hamilton Scale of around 6 points. Chemical antidepressants give you an improvement, on average, of 1.8 points, according to research by professor Irving Kirsch of Harvard University. (Source here)

As a mom of 4 young kids, sleep seems like an almost impossible request. It feels selfish and demanding. There are lot’s of reasons I wasn’t sleeping enough:

-Baby – Emme at 6 months was still waking 1-2x per night (which isn’t actually horrible for her age at all)

-2 Year Old – Aurora was potty training + moving from a crib to a bed… That all equals random occasional house roaming in the middle of the night while she adjusted to the change.

-Sickness – We all caught that awful virus and it went through each kid 1 week at a time. That means 4 consecutive weeks of night time tending to sick kids.

-Netflix (No comment required. #honesttalk )

All of those combined means staying up too late and getting up lots of different times for lots of different kids.

After a particularly shaky and frazzled day I remember crying and saying, “I am so tired of feeling so bad for so long.” Josh said, “What do you need?” I said, “Honestly, I need to sleep. Not just a weekend. I need to sleep all night for probably 6 months to dig out of this hole.” And so amazingly he took over the night shift. Midnight to 6am every night. (To qualify, Josh was already helping on the hard nights, so it’s not like he isn’t tired too. Also, we are now hitting his slow work season, so wonderfully, if he has to get up a bunch of times, he has the flexibility to sleep in.)

So now I have been sleeping 6-7 hours solidly every night. It didn’t change everything immediately. But now, after about 2 months I feel like a whole new person. The angry sharks don’t visit as often, my nerves have calmed down, I have jokes to tell again, and I feel like I have the strength and energy to show up to be the person I want to be. (And I’m super grateful for Josh.)


Expert Insight with Josh Jones 

There’s a sports analogy in everything, right? Well marriage is just like basketball.

I remember in high school basketball I often felt like I could defend the person I was guarding and come out on top. But I quickly figured out that even if I win my battle on defense, if my teammate is outmatched we could still lose.

Marriage is a lot like that. It’s a team sport. Even if I am holding my ground, if Jenna is not, we both still lose.

In basketball one of the most important things you can learn is “help defense”. That means if someone has a disadvantage you always help.

It’s not actually fair.

I had to let go of the ideal of what’s fair. What’s equal. Just manning my own post. My post can be covered and our family might still be sinking. 

When we were first married we each had our own roles, our post. You have to keep your area covered. But when life hits, sometimes your partner is down. You just have to forget about fairness and how much you feel like you should have to give. You give everything you have to give. You leave everything you have on the court everyday.

When your partner is down it’s awful. If you are on level ground yourself, jump in and carry part of their load. Remember this – it is actually easier to carry a heavier load than to be yoked to someone that is drowning.

Anger Management

My parents used to say things like, “There was a lot of yelling happening at our house when you were little. We’re so sorry! You’ll probably have some issues when you’re older.” That seemed laughable at the time. I got TONS of love and attention and I generally have great memories of my childhood. But then my dad would follow it up with, “You never think you have anger issues until you have little kids.” Still I was sure, that was definitely not me.

Well, here I am in my mid-30s and I am so sad to find they were more right than I thought.

My mom was visiting last month to help me run everything while Josh was out of town… the whole week went great and then on the last day I lost it when a kid refused to take the bus. My mom called me out. “That’s not ok.” “I see all of the wonderful thing too, but they can’t carry the weight of your anger.” That generally feels the worst. Embarrassing. Humiliating. Makes me want to hide and cry and give up… Makes me not trust myself.

But, I’m glad she said it. I needed to hear it. With the weight of a millstone, it made it clear for me that I need to make a change.

Here’s the thing… I love my kids, more than life itself. I care about raising them and parenting them and investing in them more than anything. It’s my main priority. I consciously purpose to be patient and calm… And a lot of times I am! Actually most of the time! But things build up… I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. And then I’M NOT FINE. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, like it’s all starting to spin out of control and my voice comes out like a ROAR…Then huge regret.

Where do you even start with making a change? After I got feedback from my mom, I realized I might not have an accurate understanding of what is normal and ok. First I needed to take stock of honestly how often it’s happening. Also I needed to do some research to understand more… When does it cross the line? And how can I possibly change?

Cue googling things you don’t even want to say out loud like, “angry mom help” and “how to stop yelling”. I found this course online called, “Momma’s Anger Management”. While I don’t even want to put myself in this category or raise my hand for needing help on this particular issue, here we are! After some grief, the best I can do is be honest about where I am at and embrace my reality. Let’s do this!

So I signed up right away. And it is THE BEST. It is answering all of my questions, helping me understand where the struggle is coming from, and most importantly showing me a way out.

Here are 3 of my top takeaways.

(1) There is a difference between “mom voice” and rage.
She breaks it down into 4 different levels — mom voice, a spurt of yelling, anger venting, and ranting/raving. What level of anger is okay? There can be a bit of a gray area. Think about, pray about it, draw a line and set a personal boundary on what is too much. Set a goal to not get to that level.

(2) Recognize my triggers.
What specifically gets me angry and pushes me over the edge? After thinking about it, it was so helpful to notice that there is a pattern. Now to chart out the danger zones. For me? Things like…
-4pm (#amiright!?!?)
-A crying baby (I just can’t even think straight)
-Volume level (kid chaos escalating)
-No sleep (things feel more aggravating than normal)
-Overwhelm (hours in front of me without help)

(3) How I react as parents is directly connected to how I am doing emotionally.
I am kidding myself if I think I can run on E and then still be awesome with my kids. Maybe this should have been more obvious to me? Taking this class was kind of like pulling a thread that starts unraveling a sweater. It’s not just that I need to try harder and have better self control. I needed to move some big rocks in my life if I don’t want to be an angry mom. So really, this was just the beginning. The tipping point the triggered more changes. (More blog posts coming.)

There are some funny things too. We included the whole family in this. I think it’s good for the kids to see that there are I things I am still working on too. We made a sticker reward chart for Mom. At the end of the day they get to give me a star if I did good keeping my cool. THEY LOVE THAT PART. haha. They decided I should get a “coffee and massage” as a reward. And they are actually more generous in their estimation of me than I would have thought.

Overall, if you are struggling with yelling, you are not alone. I am learning that if you grew up in a yelling home, it will be a natural impulse for you to yell at your kids too (even if you love them and try not to). But, good news, there are things you can learn and you can change! If you find yourself in the same place I was in check out Momma’s Anger Management.

Feel free to reach out. I would love to offer my support.

Homeschooling Here We Come!

Untimely? Quite possibly. And I actually never pictured myself as the homeschooling mom with 4 kids, but never the less, here we are!

And thanks to Pinterest, Etsy, Target and Google in general I might become one of those moms that gets obsessed with it. =)

I will give you the quick run down on how we got here and then I will give you some of my favorite finds that make this all so fun.

The Decision to Homeschool

This year is the first year that we have had a kid in school 5 days. I knew it would take some adjustments, but I thought eventually we would settle into a good rhythm. 2 months in, I think we were all just feeling sad at the missed time together. They really wanted more one-on-one time with me and I wanted the same. I felt kind of stuck and was sorting through all of the different ways we could reclaim some time together…

I really didn’t think homeschooling was an option for us because I work. But after some kind encouragement from a friend (the lovely Brandi Lapito) I thought it was worth looking into. This book opened the door for me – it’s possible and other people are doing it. 

The book leads with stating that people that want to work and homeschool are generally entrepreneurs. More than that, they typically work half-time with flexible schedules (me!) and are used to being in command of their time and resources to self-direct in the most effective way. YES!! It’s not that the kids were at school so long, it was just that they were gone during the best parts of the day. I got them back when they were already spent, tired, cranky, ready to chill out. In the mornings they are happy, connected, present and ready to learn. That is the time I want with them!  I can work once they are ready to chill out and watch a movie.

Beyond this book I found other inspired examples of business woman paving the way.

Check out the brilliant Penelope Trunk telling her story. She has aspergers and has launched and sold 4 starts ups for millions. You will see in her writing she is so sharp and offensively honest. I love it.  http://education.penelopetrunk.com/2012/04/02/why-i-homeschool/

And local examples like the amazing Cindy Broadbent who homeschooled all of her kids while also running the family business with her husband. Featured in Yellowstone Valley Women >>

I realize this is a risk… And I don’t actually know how it will go. Maybe we will love it? Maybe it will be a bust? I am committed to the rest of the year and then we will reassess.

Favorite Homeschool Finds

After looking into it, I found that for kindergarten the core requirements are reading/writing and math. I think I can do that!? Of course we will do a lot more, but hey, it’s not chemistry yet.

So I am totally new to all of this. No experience what so ever to back up my choices. But, I’m excited! Only time will tell of this stuff actually turns out to be as awesome as it looks.

ABC Cards

The cutest little ABC cards you ever did see. We will hang these on the bulletin board for writing reference. **Best part. I emailed this Etsy shop owner to ask if she had any with lower case letters as well and she did!


Weather Wheel

Judah wants to chart the weather everyday. So obviously we need this.


Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Just a little over $15, simple and brilliant! We have only done a couple lessons but my kids are quickly grasping the concepts and no pain involved. We’ll see if they can actually read at the end of the year!


National Geographic Break Open 10 Geodes and Explore Crystals Science Kit

A little bit excessive, but we are losing our minds with excitement over here. Super fun activity to kick off our first week!


Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House (Lab Series)

At this age we really only need to do science once a week. Easy. Weekly kitchen experiments. Done.


Right Start Math

I spent the most amount of time choosing a math curriculum. I was actually surprised to see all the different options with vastly different approaches. I picked this specifically with Judah in mind. It is built on using an abacus and visually understanding math concept. It is awesome. Judah would do this with me for hours every day if I were available.



Shalom {Free Prints + Prayers}

Last month I had some extra Isaiah 61 prints that I got to give away. It created some unexpected really sweet connections that I didn’t anticipate. I loved it so much, that I thought I would do it again.

If you can’t tell, I LOVE prints like this. Seriously Pinterest and Etsy are full of incredible prints for under $5. You just download the PDF and print it yourself. *Be careful when you decide to start browsing, this is a black hole my friends. lol. You may not come up for hours. Here is my “Printables” Pinterest Board >>

If a verse or word is significant to a particular season I love to find a print online and hang it in my house with the idea that each time I see it, it will prompt me to meditate on that truth and pray. I think of Eph. 5 where it says the “washing of the water of the Word.” I think this means reading the Word, re-reading it, asking the Lord to re-order my thinking to align with his thoughts, meditating on it until it sinks into my soul, letting the Word change me, praying it, and calling it into existence.

So “Shalom” came into focus for me when I was working on a website for Community Leadership & Development here in Billings. Their vision is “Seeking the Shalom of our City.” As I learned more about the concept and the original meaning it really moved it. Yes, it means “peace” but much more than that. It is the complete peace that is rooted in the wholeness and full restoration that only comes through Jesus.

I love to pray this. I pray it over my own life, over my family and my home, and over our city. I have found that prayer works best when we simply ask for what He has already promised. I love to find the promise scriptures in the Bible, and simply pray “Yes, Lord. Do this in my life.”

I went online to find a print and could not find one! So I made this one for our own home. When I was ordering prints I thought I would get extra for you guys. No cost. This is just for fun.

So, if you would like a “shalom” print, I would love to it send you. More than just that, I would love to come into agreement with you and pray this over you and your family. I am not promising hours of intercession here. But, I have a long road trip coming up on Friday. So while my big kids are watching movies in the back I will put on some worship music and dedicate my windshield time to praying for each of you by name.

Only ask here… I would love it if you all would pay it forward. If you want a print, I will send you 5. Then you can keep one for yourself and have 4 to give away to friends. I would love it if you would pray the same for them.

So just fill in your name, email and address at the bottom if you would like to be included. I have enough for up to 40 people total, and your request must be in by Friday. 

I thought I would make Psalm 103 my focus. So these are the words I will pray over each of your lives:

1Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Send Me Prints Please