This last year has been a whirl wind of craziness. Mark got laid off, we moved, had a baby, and for a while we didn’t know if we were going to be able to stay in the house we had just moved in. I had been put on bed rest before Timmy was born and once he was finally born I had the recovery stage to go through with a newborn. Life was unstable at best and the toll began to be too much for Maddie.
Maddie became an angry emotional missile. She was defiant, tackling school was painful for both of us, and she began self disciplining. If Mark and I did not discipline her she would pinch herself and leave bruises. My sweet girl had gone away and I was beside myself for an answer. I was fearful that our choice to have another baby had destroyed my sweet girl.
If I have learned anything in life it’s that the worse thing I can do when life is going wrong is stick my head in the sand and tackle it on our own. Any time I had chosen to stay in the dark through a struggle, Satan was able to take me to the depths of despair and depression reigned. I began asking close friends for suggestions and insight, asking questions until we found the answers that lined up with our situation. Two specific women in my life gave me great insight into Madeline. I had been referred many times to our pastors wife and that is where I started. She is a home school mom with five grown kids and a wealth of encouragement and suggestions. She was able to help me understand the mindset of a first born, she helped me come up with a game plan. My first born sees life through black and white glasses, she needs consistency and a schedule. All things that had gone out the window with moving and having a baby. Another friend we had sought counsel from recommended picking and choosing our battles. I asked her how do you know which battle to pick when they all seem important. She said in their situations when it was extreme the only battle they would enforce was authority, it was one area they were not willing to compromise, but for a time until they came back under authority other areas could be let go. She also said that in a family there will be a father/son or mother/daughter relationship that will butt heads as the child vi’s for the pecking order. They will butt heads in ways they won’t with the other parent.
First and foremost I continued in prayer seeking, pleading, and crying out to the Lord for wisdom. My heart hurt for my precious treasure that God gave to Mark and I. I began putting a schedule back into place. This helped her brain to begin to feel back in control. She knew what I expected and when I expected it. She knew what chores she was responsible for and I included her in on the schedule so it wasn’t just me saying do this or do that. I wanted it to work for her brain and to give her peace. I was the parent she butted heads with, I was the parent that got the lip and anger. I began to pray about why we butted heads. The Lord showed me it was because her and I are so different. I am go with the flow, fluttering here and there. Maddie needs order and consistency to her life. I began honoring the way Maddie functions. I was open and honest with her about what the Lord was showing me. Sharing with her that we were going to need to compromise, there are times in life that we have to be flexible because life changes quickly. But, we could plan and commit our plans to the Lord knowing he is all knowing and would help guide us in our plans for consistency. We also discovered under her anger was hurt that I did not have time to spend with her. She felt that Timmy had taken all of my time and she felt pushed out and unimportant. I sought forgiveness from her, I allowed her to get angry at me, even yelling if she needed to. I wanted her to get her emotional voltage out. Mark and I sat down deciding that we would focus on authority being the battle we would choose. We had to proceed with prayer and caution because of the self-disciplining.
A dear cousin of mine also gave Maddie pencils, pens, markers, colored pencils, and paper to begin to journal. Journaling has been powerful for Maddie, especially in the beginning of fighting for her heart. It gave her a space to calm down, to draw or write her anger out. Journaling for Maddie has turned into story telling and continues to be an amazing emotional outlet.
To address the self disciplining we looked in our Ultimate Journey tool belt. We have been learning how to garden ourselves and others. How to speak life and truth into someones life. How to see them as God already sees them and to speak it out into their lives. The biggest thing Mark and I did was work on ourselves. If there is one thing I have learned as a parent is that if I want to see different results in my kids, than the change has to begin with me. Kids can spot hypocrisy a mile a way. They become resentful when they are being asked to act a certain way, but it is not lived out in the parents life. It’s confusing and it angers them. The phrase, “More is Caught than Taught”, hits the nail on the head. We are our kids living examples of how to interact with the world around them. If my kid’s are struggling, I am the first place I need to look. How do I sound when they are in trouble? Do I sound annoyed? Am I jumping down their throat or asking questions to understand what is really happening? Am I demonstrating in my interaction with them and others slow to anger, slow to speak, and abounding in love? Am I sounding like a noisy gong or a rusty gate, or are my words flowing with milk and honey? I am the model God has given my kid’s as a Christ representative and I am responsible for what Jesus sounds like out of my mouth and what Jesus does with my hands and feet. I can let evil come out of my mouth and actions or I can let Christ come out of my mouth and actions.
As a home school family we stopped academics during this time in our life. We could not focus on academics until we got her heart and family back under control. Academics must always come last, it sounds weird, but it’s true. Our relationship with the kids must come first, then discipline, and once those two things are under control, ONLY then will academics come. If those two things are neglected whether kids are home schooled or in public school, life will be harder. They will always be fighting themselves, you, the world, or all of the above. Humans are relational, even those that are introverted need human interaction where they are loved, accepted, and supported. Yes, we need to get those things from Christ and it’s true we can’t find them in anyone else. If we do not believe the Christ in us and allow Christ in us to work through us, then any belief someone has in us will only be destructive. Because like an addict when the belief wears off we become depressed, because we cannot be supported by someone else’s view of us. We must believe it ourselves. At eight years old, this is a lesson that our sweet Maddie has had to learn as well. We continue to cultivate this thinking into her life, the twin’s lives, and Timmy’s life.
We as parents have been entrusted with a treasure. I am convinced that the majority of the times I am impatient with my kid’s is because I am taking out the negative things I feel about myself on my kids. There are also times I don’t want to sacrifice my down time, space, or I am being lazy and I don’t want to hold my kid’s accountable to their whining, attitude, etc. Next to being married, parenting is the hardest job I have ever had. But, I’m committed to them, when I get to heaven I want to know I ran the race well. I want to know that I allowed Christ in me to live through me, I want to know I let Jesus be my hands, feet, and words.
I am on my knees thankful that we have begun to see a turn around in our precious, beloved Maddie. The self disciplining has ceased, the angry outbursts have calmed down, and we can see peace and joy ruling in her heart. We continue to speak truth to her that she desires to do the right thing, she is calm and patient, with Jesus’s help she is able to be self-controlled. Praise the Lord that He who began a good work in Maddie, will be faithful to complete her until the day of Christ Jesus. She is his masterpiece and he has loving daddy eyes on her. She is safe in Abba’s hands. I am excited to also report that Maddie has an amazing relationship with Timmy. He loves her and calms down instantly when she enters the room. We call it Maddie magic! She is an amazing Godly role-model to those around her, Christ in her is working through her! To God be the Glory forever and ever!