Back then I said I’d never be like him.
I slammed doors to punctuate the point and to make sure my dad knew it.
You can be tall and 15 and think you know a lot of things.
And you don’t think about growing old and looking squishy around the middle and telling teenagers to just turn out the lights.
You don’t think about how you can open your mouth and let the sharp side of your tongue tear the innards out of a soul —- and there’s no way you can stuff the whole bloody mess back.
I don’t know how it happened exactly.
Or maybe the truth rightly stated is — I really don’t want to remember.
How we were late, 35 minutes late, and when I got in the van they were all waiting, all seven of them, waiting and squashed close in a mini-van that’s far too mini for lanky Dutch teenagers and late summer heat and one late mother who can flare into this wide-eyed, wild agoraphobia when facing hours of finger food and paper plates and BBQ small talk with absolute strangers.
It got ugly.
A kid hadn’t ironed his shirt.
Over the course of a whole hour and ten minutes of hunting down socks and doing up hair and scouring for one battered Croc — and telling my jangled it’s-time-to-go-nerves a dozen times that all fear is fraud and nowhere on earth is beyond the reach of God — I had told the boy at least five times that he really did have to iron that shirt.
And then, 35 minutes late, he’s in the van looking like he’s rolled with a bunch of wombats to Timbuktu and back.
Maybe I should have shrugged the shoulders?
Maybe I should have said it didn’t matter, let’s just go? But I had asked him – five times. More like 5.8975 times and in this insistent, your-mama-she-means-business-voice.
So, to a van full of the waiting and the hot and the frustrated, I say no ma’am. No ma’am, we are not going like that. Back into the house and you have. to. iron. that. shirt.
And the kid starts wailing. At mock pitch levels. Like I’d just announced an imminent amputation of a necessary limb or the banning of birthdays.
And every nerve ending in this highly sensitive body is already feeling unraveled and gory and I don’t even want to go to this thing and I feel the iron weight of time and kids and expectations all pressing down on the lung and his howl is jet thunder in the frayed veins.
And I turn hard toward the bawling kid.
“Out.” I’m not proud that I can hiss.
Here’s where it’d be convenient to claim I wasn’t thinking straight, that some tightening screw had somewhere loosened and the side of the thing had fractured and fissured in the loud sound.
But it’s been said and I’ve laid up nights, thinking about it, and it’s true and I say it like this:
No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.
When you’re upset, you upset what’s really in you.
I grab the boy’s arm and lean in close to his face. His wracking sobs are hot and hard in my face.
And I’m gnawing. Gnawing on the side of lip, pulling on my mouth like I’m trying to hold something back, like I’m trying to chew through to something better than this – better than him.
How can you have held the child that came from you as an ember of very heaven and then glare blind angry and stomp him right out? Who can look into a child and forget miracle?
Me — the amnesiac mother who forgets holy all the time.
I lean in and over, gnaw like a wild thing, and the kid pulls back and wracks it out like this haunt — like this high and holy haunt.
“When … you… do… that…” His shoulders heave, chocking back all this heart water right undammed. “When… you… chew… your lip like that?” He wipes his face with the back of his arm. “You … look… just… like… Grandpa Morton.”
And there’s no air in my lungs.
I’ve caved, in a moment everything’s caved.
It’s like a flashing supernova, the look in a child’s eyes and there’s a flaring mirror and you see you are everything you’d said you’d never become.
You can become everything that once undid you. I’m right tipped, upset and know who I really am and what really spills, and here is why I’ll never stop being a grace beggar, a wild Cross-clinger.
“Please… Don’t… Do… That…” He can’t stop the heaving of his shoulders, his heart.
I’m undone now — undammed.
How can grace get a hold of you when the past won’t let go of you? How do you leave a legacy different than the one you’ve been left? That’s what I’ve got to gnaw through to. How do mangle the ones you love most?
“Sor…ry… Mama… didn’t… mean… to make you… cry.” And he’s the one who can’t stop.
And I kneel down and let go of his arm. And I hold his face. That’s what I should have done, done right at the beginning. What would happen in a world where anger was your flag to reach out and cup a face?
He looks so scared and wrung and thin — every child’s a thin place. I see God.
And that’s what comes:
If you don’t fight for joy, it’s your children who lose.
What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?
You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.
The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.
His cheeks in my palms, they’re so white, so wet.
It’s his eyes — if you’ve put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of the Lord? Joy isn’t an optional feature to the Christian life — it’s the vital feature of the Christian life.
Battle for joy or lose your life. Or other’s lose theirs.
And I whisper sorry. I tell the boy I know nothing yet, nothing.
Every ungracious moment means someone doesn’t understand grace.
And the boy crumbles into me and I hold onto him and a forgiveness I’ll never deserve and there’s a grace that can hold us, that can mold us, the way joy can bend you soft at all the joints.
And I murmur it into the thick of his hair, that even now He can still make us like Him.
The boy touches my cheek like a flag waving yes.Leave a Comment
Today is my boy’s birthday! A good day for this always needed reminder, for when I’m frustrated or annoyed with all the little things that tend to weigh heavy on my nerves! I need God’s grace, I need to battles harder sometimes for joy in those moments because I love that child with every ounce of by being! I want to give him joy in his soul, joy in The Lord! Thank you Ann!
Ann Voskamp says
Just love Jesus shining through you, Kimmy. All is grace. Enjoy your day with the beautiful birthday boy!
Sorry to intrude on this reply but Ann, what do you mean when you say all is grace? Are even the bad things in life gifts from God, or should we just thank God for them anyway even though they’re not?
Everything that happens to us, every decision we make, every good, evil, sad and happy moment had to go through the Throne Room of Heaven before it touched our lives. Even if it hurts, thanking God for it recognizes the Real One in control. It is Grace because He knew it would ultimately bring Him glory. Recognizing God even in the pain takes our eyes off of the fear and anger, and points us to the only One who can heal us.
To Abi — The best answer we have for this in the OT is Joseph who says to his brothers: what you intended for evil, God has used for good.
In the NT we have the cross — a symbol of lynching, a horrible public shaming
death used only for conquered peoples in the Roman Empire. And in Christ it was transformed from 2 stinking, blood-stained boards to a symbol of love like no other — of the eternal victory of life over death.
God’s powerful love alone can cause us to look straight at the evil and see it transformed in Him, in our lives.
Or as St Francis of Assisi wrote: it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
/ paraphrasing St. Paul who wrote: oh death where is thy sting.
Thank you Ann for sharing your heart and being vulnerable. it is in your vulnerability that I am finding encouragement to press on and move forward. So hard to forgive ourselves when we are “ugly” to our children. Just today I spoke so harshly with my four year old daughter and your words are like a healing balm to me. Thank you. I am choosing to receive the grace that Our Father offers to us the grace to move forward and to be changed by His Power and to speak life to my children instead of taking it from them. Thank you, May God grant you much joy, peace and love today as you serve your family and others. Renee
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
“You will be most remembered-by what brought you most joy.” Unfortunately my children, now grown, can remember well when I could grab and hiss. They also remember the times when we pulled up our lawn chairs at the end of the driveway and delighted in the sun and the beautiful clouds God had given us and we simply watched the world go by. I pray that those times will outweigh the ugly me and that they will see that they brought me great joy. I ask for His grace over the ugly me. Thanks for a beautiful and thought provoking post!
Ann Voskamp says
Beautiful words, Bev. Thanks for grace. It’s just a humbling gift of the Lord that we can gather here and encourage one another in Him and do life together in small, simple ways. You bless…
Ann…as I read your blog, tears were flowing, because like Bev, my children too, are also grown, and like Bev, I pray the good times and moments we shared will outweigh the bad in their hearts & memories. I have prayed for both the Lords and my childrens forgiveness in my failures as a mom, but it’s harder to forgive myself. So many preciuous moments missed. My children are my joy and my life and I love them with all that is within me. I pray they will feel and know that first and foremost. Thank you for sharing so candidly today.
Exactly right, Wanita and Bev. You read my thoughts. Thanks Ann, for your honesty and openness.
June Temple says
Wow Wanita, thanks! I too have grown children & pray that the good moments outweighed the bad ones. I also want to thank Ann for your beautiful, caring heart.
Lately my teen girl has been tough. Not tough as in talk back, staying out late, or such but, she just disappears. Home from school, grabs a snack and up to her room. She says she is doing her homework but I find her on Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, and watching YouTube videos.
The day of technology is driving me crazy. I vowed to talk the phone by 7PM every night…..I received an eye roll and a head toss….with a good night and shut door.
Ann Voskamp says
Oh, Kathy — nodding yes, yes. Sitting with you…remembering Jesus who whispers: It’s okay that you’re weak and don’t understand — that’s when I get to be the strongest for you.
Lord, we ask You to be close in this and calm our hearts. Fix us to You. Show us Your way.
Kathy, I read your story and wasn’t going to reply, but felt drawn to. I too have sat in a room with my 2 teenage children intent on the activity on their phones, them not hearing me speak to them. So…… I messaged them and received a blank look, then a smile from them both. I had their attention again maybe meet your precious girl in “her world”? Blessings to you, and thank you Ann for your willingness to share how imperfect you are,how real your life is and how you struggle, but especially how to win when seeking joy!
Thank you for the raw honesty in this, that’s what makes me recognize myself and shudder.
I so want to leave a different legacy to the one that was left to me. Is that a part of truly living as one who has been born again, one who is reborn into grace? I long for the chain to be broken. I need to bow the knee to the One who gives fresh starts again and again.
I agree, Ruth. I really want to leave a different legacy to my children, yet I continue to fail, over & over. God, please help me!
Ditto on the thank you for the honesty. My children are grown now. But, I remember those silly fits of rage that probably scared them so much. My husband and I took a class at church called Growing Kids God’s Way and I think that helped us a lot. We were both from volatile homes and we parented somewhat in the ways we were parented. Despite wanting to do better, we fell into the some of the same behaviors that we wished our parents had not done. After the class, we were able to be more clear about rules and consequences. As with anything in life, it always works better when we add prayer into the mix.
I sit here, alone in my early morning “Bible Time” before the kids wake up, and I read your post and the tears start to flow. Thank you for being brave enough to show me myself and what and where I need to allow God to work.
Ann Voskamp says
Shelly, friend, with you and grateful for His abiding, unwavering love that can never ever separate us from Him. Ever.
We trust you Lord…show us the way.
“The battle for joy”. That phrase hit me this morning. I wish I’d had your writings when I was raising my children. How much it would have helped in that battle for joy!
Ann Voskamp says
Paula, you are so loved, friend. Thank you for grace.
Your honesty undoes me, Ann. I’m that hissing, grabbing, angry momma all too often. I have learned that sorry isn’t always enough, change is necessary too. Thank you for sharing the places you’ve fallen. They give me hope that I can always get back up:)
Ann Voskamp says
Yes, with Jesus, friend — we can always get. back. up. Your words carry truth, Kimberly. With you in this, fighting for joy in our Jesus, sister!
Suzan Mills says
Yes Kimberly, I am that mama. And I am undone. Unworthy. But I am not unLoved and I am not without GRACE. And I pray God reaches Himself deep into my baby girls heart so that she sees HIM and not my failings. Then both of us when we stand before Him can just say ‘JESUS’, there is nothing in me but HE GAVE ALL.
Ann, you reach into my heart daily, God has gifted you with an amazing ability to expose the heart of us and reveal the HEART of HIM in words. Thank you for your ministry.
Oh I remember those days well…..and now with grandkids the age of your kids I ponder the importance of ironed shirts and more. Now I find more grace with grandchildren and myself…..and give thanks that inspite of my weaknesses our all grown up children are blessings to those that know and love them. Thank you Jesus…..
And the battle for joy, oh my goodness, I love this. We need to fight for that no matte the age…..that IS where our strength lies….come Holy Spirit come……fill us.
Courtney L. says
Oh, Ann, where do I start? Tears are flowing. I struggle with this so much. Too much. I don’t want to be the angry, hissing mama who can’t give the same grace and love that God gives me. This takes me back to your posts with Holley about only using words that make souls stronger. I want to make their souls stronger and not tear them down. Thank you for sharing your mama heart with the rest of us and reminding us to fight for joy, every day.
Ann, with a 2 yr old in a defiant 2 yr old state, and a 4 month old needing my every attention like only an infant can, I often feeling like I’m coming unraveled. Hissing and snapping when I should be teaching and guiding or Loving and laughing. Even with an amazing husband who helps with everything and is always present I feel like there is more to do than I could ever get done. I pray for grace and patience every day. I know I can not do it alone and He walks with me and forgives me, but i am desperate to not become that person whose anger and impatience shows through more than her heart. These boys really are my whole world and I want them to see that love and my love for the Lord and not this awful person I feel like I’m becoming.
Laura, I have read your comment and I have been there with two small boys like you are now. I have been the mom with 5 days of dirty dishes on the counter and laundry to the ceiling, and trying to be a good wife too. An impatient perfectionist, I felt I always had just one too many plates to keep spinning on the poles–and I HAD to keep them ALL spinning, to my children’s detriment. God is so good, He has never given up on me.
At 53 now, with 4 grown children, I think I have gained some perspective. This chaos won’t last forever, just a few years really, and then it will be gone. Be kind to your children and husband, and even in the midst of punishing the children, preserve their dignity as creations of God. Count to ten. Leave the room. Breathe. Don’t do things to cause them to be resentful. When you do, say I’m sorry and love them. Love them. Always keep as your goal to maintain your good relationship with your child. This goes double throughout the teen years and adulthood. Keep praying!!! I will pray for you with a lot of understanding.
I grew yp in a home with no mercy or grace. Undortunately that home is still like that. The first part of my children’s lives were much like the same. That is what i had learned and the only way i knew to handle things. Now i have learned grace and mercy. I want my children to see it and recognize it. They are grown and gone now. Surely if God can change me, He is pursuing them And will change their hearts as well. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Vicki. Me too. 🙁
Sheila Reed says
I’m a hissing mama AND a hissing wife. “How can grace get a hold of you when the past won’t let go of you?” was HUGE for me . . . just last night, I let the past override the present, with disastrous results. Thank you for your raw honesty.
Ann Voskamp says
With you, Sheila. Just so grateful for His staggering grace — may we never get over it.
Anne Marie says
That was so beautiful. I saw myself in your story, frustrated and scary to my children. I want to leave a different legacy, too, and with God’s help I will.
Ann Voskamp says
So with you in this, Anne Marie…sisters, fighting for JOY! Love Jesus in you…
Thanks for raw truth. Unpolished. Unconcealed.
Ann Voskamp says
Thanks for grace, Dee. A hard, hard post. But God.
Pressing on and leaning into Him, always.
Oh, thank you for your honesty.
Diane W. Bailey says
And now I am undammed. Haven’t all mamas lost it and become the person they said they would never be? God see that part of us we try to kill, he knows it comes to life when we least expect it, and are unguarded against it. And somehow, He finds a way to show us more of His grace. Amazing!
Thank you for sharing the raw, the undammed, the mama we all wrestle at times. Love you!
Ann Voskamp says
Humbled by His grace with you, Diane…His incomprehensible love that carries us through the hard days, all days.
I love this message Ann! There were many times Id be upset to get kids to bus on time or if chores not finished. My mother yelled if I was dragging my feet, and all my life I struggled with being late because of denial of this yelling. The other day i heard a word for a young friend. Because she was tender and gentle with her young girls, The Lord was there with fierce boldness to protect her.
I’ve learned relationship is more important than results. Children and grandchildren will remember the snow men you built together, the hot chocolate you both laughed over, the house cleaning game you played together, and the joy that you lavished on them. They need to know that they are loved even if we aren’t out the door in time or their room isn’t clean. If we nurture, spread joy and model peace while children are still under the age of 21 and share the gospel this is when their hearts are most open to Christ. I wish I could re-live grace and joy with my children. Now i am the favorite grandma, playing with and laughing with them. i believe it means more in their lives, as we clean house with joy with them and show them how to be organized and at peace ahead of time with a smile of joy.
My children are all successful but somewhat hard hearted. its the joy and peace I lavish on grand kids that brings their hearts an opening for the gospel.
Thank you, Ann. You help me remember my only hope of “success” in this life is through Christ, and grace. I will never have enough time or strength or patience or love on my own, but with Him, then I can have enough and more. My boys have seen me fail, too often, but my boys-and your kids–have also seen the triumph of Christ through us. And for that, I give thanks.
Sadly, this behaviour doesn’t just ‘work’ for our children but also for husband/wife… :/
I find myself in your tale, ‘hissing’ at my Hero Husband that ‘….I’ve told you already 5(or more) times…..’ – and I can’t help it. He left the house yesterday for the whole week and he jokingly re-itinerated the whole list of things he often forgets…… except late at night when I went to bed I found 2 of his ‘unmissable’ items lying on a bench upstairs – he must have had his (important) customer visits with an unshaved (or badly hand-shaved) face, his shirt changed in the last minute for one which doesn’t need cuff links and maybe trousers that hold up even without a belt…. I only laughed but the hissing voice was speaking silently within me!
We ALL need grace, all the time – and Thanks God, we can get it!
Love, love, love this, Ann. You’re so brave to share these moments and the truths they reveal. All of us mamas have been there and will go there again. Thank you for reminding us.
28 years of doing this mama thing and with three grown and three more to go…. I see what you are saying loud and clear. Needed.
Praying you through this week…..
much much love.
In the past year I have become a wife, a new mom and a step mom. And I certainly at times have become overwhelmed and failed to show grace. Thank you for your transparency to be reminded we all fall short and can press into Christ and be the mom’s He designed. I can’t thank you enough for this!
Kerri Stites says
The worst feeling. The worst days of my entire life are the days I have raised my voice at my kids or husband. Praise God for grace and mercy from Him and from them. God, please always help me to be a better wife and mommy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Oh the good the bad and the ugly of parenting, of being made holy. I learn holy and forgiveness and who I am at the hands of my kids almost daily. The battle for joy is worth it. Thanks you for sharing your heart and experience that I am guess each one of us moms who read it could be our story.
Laura Connell says
I appreciate this one. It made me cry like most of your posts do. I especially like the line about how a fresh water jug can’t spill filthy water. We had a near miss in the car and a filthy word flew out of my mouth. I never swear so my children were shocked. I said to them that very same thing: I guess there’s something in my heart that Jesus is still cleaning out because your words come from the overflow of your heart. Also when I speak harsh without waiting and composing myself. I’ve become real humble with them because that’s all I can do. I’ve finished trying to justify myself because only Jesus can do that. When I do those things I’m in my flesh so letting Jesus take control is all I have to work on.
Thank you for such raw honesty that somehow helps to relieve the shame of imperfection…
Heidi Todd says
You are brilliant, absolutely brilliant. You write the words my heart wishes it could say.
Bless you sister.
Thank you for sharing. It is about Progress, not perfection- we will never be perfect Thank God he forgives! <3
Logged on because I had to read you today. Barely lunchtime & already the 3 year old has had 3 time outs. The third one complete with me growling in her face. The 17 mos old just wants to be held again today. She is fussy & teething & both of us were up most of the night rocking. All I can think about is how am I ever gonna dust & run the vacuum today. Which should have been done yesterday if not everyday. I M failing as a wife & mother. And this is what you give me. Thank you. And as I sit here bawling my 3 year old brings me a tissue.
Cherri, You have a plan to vacuum and dust (good golly I doubt it needs done everyday) You gave your child a few time outs, I’m sure at 3 she still has a few lessons to learn. You stayed up most of the night and rocked your baby. And it souds like you plan to feed them lunch. You also read high quality spirit lifting blogs. You might be low on energy and patience in this moment, but your story is actually PROOF that you are far from failing, so don’t tell yourself those crazy stories. Peace and prayers to you, Lisa
If only ever time I read I’m reduced to shaking and hot tears and hard memories of all I have broken in my broken bloody mess of failing continually my sons if only are.the 2 little words he tries to slide over my tongue like it’s too late like the Almighty can’t reach the now and like He is not already in.the future and like He doesn’t know hogw to fix what I broke like He won’t be able to reach him deliver him and turn my Jacob into His Israel if only. oh the. enemy thinks he can.softly gently convince
me to forfiet.
Jeanne Takenaka says
Beautiful truths here, Ann. Yes, I too, have become the raging, grabbing, hissing, stomping mom. It doesn’t happen all the time, but each time it does, it creates hardness in my boys. That is as scary as my own reactions to them, their choices. I so appreciate your raw transparency and your exhortation to remember joy. I can change, with Jesus’ help. They can see His joy in me, and see that I find joy in them. This is important. And vital.
I love the picture of fresh water and filthy water and what spills out of me when I’m shaken, broken. It’s not pretty. I’m learning to take everything—every part of who I am—to Jesus. His changing me is a slow process. But He’s faithful. Thankfully.
Thank you for sharing the messy parts of your story. (Maybe sometimes it feels like all of it is messy, but that’s not true. So much is beautiful! Repentance and fighting for joy, for starters.) Although I don’t have children, I still have to fight for joy daily. I especially appreciated this challenge:
“You will be most remembered — by what brought you most joy.
The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith.”
I do want to be remembered for the joy of Christ even in the midst of difficulties! Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Much grace, joy, and peace to you and yours in Christ Jesus today.
Elizabeth kint says
Tenderly written … I wept along with so many of these dear women as I remembered “my hissing” … as if I thought that would work … then realizing no, that isn’t the way … reaching out then to Cup their precious face in forgiveness … pull them close to my heart … and remember this is exactly what Jesus does for me … He holds me close to His own heart and whispers to me that I’m loved and adored … I’m so thankful for that gift … everyday is an opportunity to make memories whether it’s dumping out the warm fresh laundry on the floor and tossing it in the air or building a tower with tupper ware containers … Low expectations, warm baths at the end of the day and snuggles Before Lights Out … I am Forgiven … Praise Jesus …
Thank you Ann !!!
Connie Burkett says
Ann: My son is grown and distant, leaves in another state. You made me reflect on his childhood. Where did he see, joy, Did he inherit joy or all the ugly traits that I betrayed. May he experience grace and extend that grace to others, maybe even his momma. Thanks for your writing. Hope you and your family are having a great time on your journey with your family.
So beautifully and honestly written. I am constantly saying “I will not be like…..” and then in moments of weakness and in moments where I forget to be kind to myself and others, I say and do things that I shouldn’t and feel instantly horrible for it.
Thank you for reminding me of what I should do in those moments. I’m so thankful for bloggers like you who share God-moments in the everyday details.
I’m a soon to be mother to a little boy and I always want to remember this. Children are so forgiving, hey can’t I be too?
I just had one of these moments this weekend. It brings out the whole truth of the matter: that I’m still learning to show grace, to be grace to my children.
Thanks Ann, for the grace to share your weaknesses.
My latest blog post: The truth about BFF’s
Oh my but this beautiful!!!
Thank you, can’t find peace for feeling pain of regret still. But I so appreciate your heart in words.
I have to believe God can heal my heart as I deal with the feeling of never feeling quite successful enough at these things that matter most.
I’m fighting for joy, after grieving my mother’s suicide now for almost a year and a half. It has been like a weight, and yet I feel so uprooted, so lost so often. My children see me searching for peace, so hungry for silence to hear His joy in my heart so that I might live it. I’m raw and it hurts. This long, cold Canadian winter is wearing on us all. Thank you for sharing your heart Ann. Always inspiring to me after all these years of reading your words of finding Him in all of this pain we live in.
Erin– I was reading Ann’s blog and read your post. My mom committed suicide when I was 19. Many, many years have passed, and we have three almost grown children. I’ve read many Christian authors over the years and good counsel from time to time but Ann’s writing is unique. Raw and tender at the same time. Much like what it feels like on the inside. But this slowing down and not hurrying, such good good lessons. And, God has brought healing and yes, joy. Keeping lists of thanks! And, I’m grateful for communities like this where we can listen to one another and pray for the sisters we meet in Ann’s, Lysa’s, Sheila’s, “share and prayer rooms”.
Prayers lifted up for you today,
From a sister in the not-so-cold and no-snow, northern California
This shouldn’t be too difficult, considering it’s the overall game’s second level-and yes it’s very easy.
He was given an chance to cheat minus the fear of getting caught,
so he took advantage of the situation. Escaping to a hidden destination
to chat to strangers including car, garage, and basement is only
I’m broken. My daughter is a 16 year old prodigal. I was 15 when I had her…the enemy is constantly reminding me that my past will repeat itself through her. There was no grace in our morning conversation on the drive to school. There was no joy. Just two people wanting their own way. I have to believe God while I’m waiting. Cover her sin with my love no matter how much it hurts. Thank you for every word you write.
It’s spot on. Spot on to how I am more days than not. Especially with my oldest, bless his heart. I long for joy. I fight to keep calm. I can feel the heat in my ears a sane explosion of words nears. I rarely hold back. I hate it.
You are a true blessing. Thank you for you really words. They spur me on and comfort me that I’m not alone.
As I sat here reading this tears streamed down my cheeks. My 15 yr old son can be difficult yet The Lord keeps putting his finger on me and my responses. Thanks for this amazing post
I can relate to this on every level! This is a constant struggle. My girls are teenagers and it seems like there’s more eye-rolling in our house each day. I pray for the Lord to give me a sense of humor and patience with them: as he is so patient with me. Praise God for grace and mercy! It’s new every morning! Great is his faithfulness!
Jen P says
You give me such hope. This post sounds so much like me — I love my dad, however still have some very raw memories from childhood that still need God’s healing. I am afraid that I have this quality in me too, as I find myself doing the same to my sweet, precious gifts of children. Why! I cry out to God, why He does not change this about me.
I am working my way through “One Thousand Gifts” and just started following your blog. (I know I am a little more than late to the party). I have been a Christian since childhood, as long as I can remember, but owning my faith and truly living it out did not sink in until I became a parent 8 years ago. It is still a daily, sometimes hourly, struggle for me. To hear your stories, so honest and raw, give me and others such encouragement. None of us are perfect and that is why we will always need Jesus. Thank you for putting it to paper so eloquently. Thank you for the articulation and being the voice for so many of us.
Ramona Moore says
Christ in Me the Hope of Glory and the Hope of Joy, stands in me on the front lines of Child Abuse. They come battered and bruised. Hidden behind us for protection from this worlds ways. As I stand, I want to be mad, be angry at the injustice of this world. Jesus stands and with His nail scarred hand, reaches out with love and forgiveness and mercy and grace. He loves! In spite of it all, He loves.
My legacy to my children is, I stand at the door with Jesus knocking. Always interceding. Always forgiving. Always loving and extending Grace and Mercy. Because of Jesus I can face tomorrow.
Reading after a day of dishes, laundry, long division and bickering. Oh, so much bickering! This journey to joy has been sooo long! I wish I didn’t relate so well to the grabbing and the hissing. The gritted teeth. The martyr mentality passed down to them. Why is this so hard? Why is joy so hard to find? I can find the joy of The Lord most days when I’m in my quiet time chair with a muffin and hot tea. But when the kids are fighting? Their yelling drowning out my voice. Yelling about the Legos not being put in the right bin? Really? But how do I punish them for reflecting me? I’m sure that irritability over the small stuff was passed down from a mom who cared that the bed wasn’t made straight. Or that they dared to get in the car to go to church without brushed hair when I’m in a hurry and have to have my pastors wife smile ready when I get there. how do I find the joy of The Lord in those moments? (Sorry to vent and glad you don’t require last names! Thank you for your words! Keep hammering me with truth. One of these years I’ll get it. Hopefully not before its too late to help my kids get it and fix the damage I’ve done to their souls.)
Oh Ann, I’ve just recently come to know of you, stumbled upon a you tube interview of 1000 gifts! So blessed, encouraged and humbled by your honesty …
May our Heavenly Father continue to bless you and yours as you open up yourself to us simply to glorify the King and edify our sisters in Christ … 1000 blessings and 100000 thank yous
(My kids are 19 and 15 and by the grace of God, through much pain and adversity, much I tell you, we are living in a kind of peace that passes all understanding… None like Jesus, without Him I could never even have had enough grace to have forgiven myself for mistakes I’ve made as a mommy to my two most precious gifts… But Jesus)
Thank you, thank you, thank you…..how great is our God that we can come clean over our ugliness and be renewed. I have so much to learn, but so much has changed for me when I discovered 1000 gifts. I am no different in my ugly moments than anyone else and sharing helps to remind us to perhaps shrug off the next thing that sets us off. many blessings to all.
and here is why I’ll never stop being a grace beggar, a wild Cross-clinger.
I LOVED THAT!!!!!
Thank you, bless you my dear
When I was battling anger and reactions to my children’s actions- I was told by someone – just let them know how you feel – unfortunately, when I did this, I only felt angrier and more defeated! Then God spoke to me and said ‘when thoughts come to you of how you will respond to your children -think of how I would respond to you and practice in your mind how to do that to them.’ Suddenly I was victorious! The circumstances didn’t immediately change -but I did!! Taking every thought into captivity and then allowing those thoughts to change your heart and come out of you in words and actions, this leads to a victorious life!!!
Betsy St. Amant says
Bawling my eyes out at my desk at work. Thank you, Ann, again, for your raw honesty that the Holy Spirit never fails to use. We’re all gnawers.
Ann, I cannot wait to read this to sweet tweener! We live your family’s adventures, joys, and heartaches right along with you! “Which blog are we reading?” she asks.
“You know, the one that the oldest boy made us our Advent/Lent wreath?”
“Oh!! Yay!” is her response…
And then I can hover over the phrase “if you’ve put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of the Lord?” and talk to her about the times I have messed up with her lately…
Blessings on you, Ann. Thank you for sharing so transparently…
Elizabeth Kramer says
So beautiful and such an encouragement to me! I am a single homeschooling Mom to 3 precious children (16,14 and 11). I have been parenting solo for 11 years and must admit have grown weary the last couple of years. I Finished One Thousand gifts this past December and began my own journal last month. Just listed blessing #860 this morning! So grateful for your ministry and the way you challenge me to continually find joy in our risen Savior! Many blessings to you and your family!
Dear Ann, I am so thankful for your voice. This very evening I am speaking to a group of women on this very topic, of anger and legacy and how God redeems. How God wants to redeem every drop of our story, and turn our stories of anger and defeat into stories of joy and redemption…Grace upon grace. Thank you.
I have read this story more than a few times, but it always gets me. In the words of Rich Mullins, “We’re not as strong as we think we are…”
But there is Grace and there is Joy worth holding on to, even when we are emptied out… especially then. Thank you, Ann, for your years of perseverance in daily reminding us mothers/daughters/sisters of that!
Oh Ann, I have hissed. I have for so long listened to the lies shouted at me by my enemy, and failed to hear the whispers of grace touching my soul. I forgot how to love, how to laugh. I forgot joy. It’s only now, in realizing that my Father’s strength is all I need to shut out the lies, understanding His love is strong enough to carry me in all my weakness, that I have begun to break through the darkness surrounding me. My husband, sweet man, has been battered with my failings, hurtful words, icy glares, cold shoulders… I am so saddened by what I’ve allowed satan to do in my life. Thank you for daily reminding me of grace. Even in the darkest days, your words have shown me a glimmer of hope. Today, with His strength, I’m hoping that glimmer breaks through the darkness and becomes my beacon.
Yes. My soul says Yes. And I can’t help but remembering those shameful moments where I chose to make my little girl fear me instead of teaching her love. I don’t think any other being on this other makes me as crazy angry and as wildly in love as her. I would lay my life down for her in a moment, but can I lay my life down for her every single day? It is hard, this mama thing. So hard. I have things to do. Work to be done. And sometimes it’s a child along for the ride instead of a child I’m shepherding through life. Thanks for these words today. They bring me both comfort and despair…comfort that I am not alone in getting it so wrong sometimes and despair when I see myself reflected as an angry, harsh mama instead of a joyful, loving child of God. So thankful for His grace and for a child’s ability to love and forgive.
It has been such a joy for to share so many of your heart wrenchingly precious blog posts with my friends. So many of them are just beginning or barely into life with children and sometimes it seems that somewhere in their childhood the memories that haunt us most about one parent or the other when we all mutter the words ‘I swear I’ll never be like that!’ come back to us in that one moment. I was just looking up reference for the verse “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…”. There are no feet anywhere in the world more stunning in that exact right place, that exact right moment when the Good News of the Jesus comes rushing back to us so that we can redeem that moment that place with Love. Thank you Jesus!
WOW – I realize this post is written in a mother/child perspective, and I can definitely put this lesson to use in my own parenting. However, this post spoke to me in a different way. My husband is struggling right now, really strugging, with work, ADHD, parenting, etc. After reading this it has become evident to me that he too is still a child of Christ. I don’t know why I would think any differently, maybe for the sheer fact that he is an adult (crazy, I know). He too needs/deserves grace just as my children. Thank you so much for the post. Honestly, your posts always seem to reach me when I am in need of a reminder.
Thank you for saying those things that I have said to myself a million times. I don’t want to be my heartless mother, who used her words to stab & ache my spirit. She made me feel as if she loathed me. Not hearing me, not holding me, not knowing who I was. I’m a grown woman now & she with her words still tear at every bit of me. I’m a grown woman who hurts when she address my children in the ways she addressed & still address me.
So many times I’ve been my heartless mother. She doesn’t have Jesus but I do. Although I am “only human” I’m also redeemed by His blood and a new creation in Christ. I want to be new. Every day is a fresh start.
Reclaiming our families for Jesus.
Thank you. I, the eldest daughter, meddling, bossy, not-always-helpful, mama #2, needed this reminder to continue pressing on. To fail, and admit it. To make mistakes, and not be too proud to patch them up. To shut my mouth and pray, and let the healing begin. God is working. Thank you so much for the encouragement.
Bernice Shupe says
I remember that post well, dear friend Ann! How I learned from it from you! Thanks for God’s grace and His forgiveness! I am completely living that life now, and what total peace I feel! You should see my house! My daughter-in-law cleaned all the rooms, and I cleaned every drawer closet and cupboard keeping only the things I really need. Even have all my Christmas gifts wrapped for next year and that is a lot of gifts with the whole family of 38 here!
I know where you are, Ann! If it weren’t for my nervous breakdown last year, I would be there with you! It is so exciting to see God’s will is carried out in our lives! Every day is an adventure when you are living with God!
I ask the Lord every day to shine a spotlight on our hearts. Show us the wrong we are doing. And show us how to fix it! Also ask Him to help us bring joy to at least one person a day, He does! 🙂
May He continue to use you for His glory, dear Friend! Some day, you’ll have peace like mine. It has taken me 72 and a half years to get there, Ann. May it come sooner to you! 🙂
“Thank you,Lord! What a blessing to me today to walk into this beautiful painting of your Love…” Thank you,also, Bernice. I was reading so many beautiful testimonies of His wonderful changing work of grace through the lives of others, but wondered if I was the only 70+ year old woman who was still needing so much of an overhaul after my longtime journey with God. The last few years have brought a desire to walk a”new” intimacy with my Lord and Saviour in a way I’ve never experienced before. Your words expressed exactly what i wanted to say for my life situation. We’ve been through 50 years of marriage, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and many life challenges and God has always been faithful. I,too, am reorganizing my life so I can be free of excesses and ready for His direction. Thank you, sister, for sharing your encouraging words! God bless you and yours!
Oh Ann, how much did I love “The joy of the Lord is your strength and the person of Christ is your unassailable joy – and the battle for joy is nothing less than fighting the good fight of faith. Battle for joy or lose your life. ”
Christ bandages our wounds and loves us fierce, even when we fail. Thank you for your realness and sharing the not so pretty. We have all been in the ugly, but through God’s infinite Grace, we never have to stay in that place.
God Bless. Xox
So I join with others as tears flow. Ann, so often your words speak straight into my heart…sometimes balm to my soul, sometimes a challange to my behaviour and others, a gentle encouragement to continue in my pursuit of Him, only Him. Today, you looked into my home and spoke straight into my ache. With three now adults and only one teenager left, I wish I could parent again and do it differently. But, here and now is all I have….and Gods forgiveness. I too am like Bev and pray my kids remember the precious times, the family times, the good times and not so much the times when I was this crazy eyed, angry Mum who really was just so broken that I couldn’t see anything through the cracks but my own pain. Thank you Ann, for being the vessel God has used today to bring me hope and to help me stand up and move forward. Bless & Grace to you.
It is so hard to see a holy heritage being built, when all I see, all I remember is my shortcomings….I see the thing in me I never wanted to become. My father. Although, I did receive some good from the man, I always see the things I never wanted to be. Impatient, short tempered, judgmental, hard to please. So being a first generation believer in Jesus, seems to take me a whole lot more faith in His grace and mercy, that is so undeserved. I know that God has done a redeeming work in me and I am continually reminded of that when i see how far I come. I am encouraged to know other moms, other sisters in Christ, still need that grace and mercy that I daily need. He is doing a work in me….transforming me. It’s painful at times, but the beauty is worth it. He is worth it. Because if my failing brings me to my knees and points my four beautiful daughters to the One who is doing this work in me, and He receives the glory, it’s always worth it. Thank you for helping me not feel alone!
Blessings upon blessings.
Oh my, The way you have with words, they touch so very fiercely in my soul. Tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.
julie k says
Tks once again for timely words. Spring cleaning whilst it thaws outside in the Midwest. I got frustrated due to work not done right but tacky like. Repenting and having Quiet time now. Love to the islands and their people.
Meredith Bernard says
Well that was raw and real and really appreciated. I often think I’m an island. I know I am the only one that LOSES IT on her kids. And I’m supposed to be the saved one in this house. The one showing my unsaved cattle man what a real Christian looks like. The one demonstrating to our kids what a life given to Christ looks like. What they should imitate. Then I blow it. And blow up. And still they come back. I ask forgiveness and hold them. And we cry together. And there is the beauty of GRACE all tied up in snot and tears and hugs. And how often do I go crawling to my Father and thank Him for His GRACE. Not enough. Thank you for sharing you story. All your stories. I relate. We all related. And we thank you, Ann. From the bottom of my heart. I thank you for your raw words and deep inspiration. <3
I know that ‘howl of jet thunder in the frayed veins’, friend.
A few weeks ago….after a meltdown from his Mama – my oldest blonde boy said, “I bet you wish you hadn’t had kids.”
The earth cracked. Right along with my soul. And it needed to.
I’ve been asking the Lord to let love, calm, joy – pour out from me ever since.
I grabbed that same boy just now – after reading this….and looked him square in his face and told him just how much I love having him around. Thanks for bringing this back up for me, Ann.
May much fruit come from your vulnerability and sharing.
Oh I absolutely LOVED reading this. I don’t have children yet, but I love the humility in your words and how well you speak of your children, that is beautiful. I hope that you are having a brilliant time away. Your are touching lives everyday and reminding us to press forward toward the mark of our high calling. Thank you for being so transparent and making it “OK” to be vulnerable. My favorite part was =—> If you don’t fight for joy, it’s your children who lose. Amazing!
Diane Nix says
Needed this today! Thank you for putting words so that I can see them. See them in my own story.
Oh my soul . . . the tears are just pouring out. Thank you for this deeply touching reminder of His Grace. Your words are so calming and healing.
Dear and, oh to leave a different kind of legacy. I so appreciate your words and your honesty. I so want to leave the harsh streak of the family I came from behind. I beg the Lord to let me be a steppingstone for my kids, a new way, a grace-filled way, a Christ honoring way. I so want to leave the broken places behind. God help me, He is making a way, streams in the desert.
Grateful for your transparency and ministry. I’ve never written you before! Thankful for you!
With Joy, Julie McGrath
I wrote one that makes me think of you….the hidden life. Blessings to you…deep thoughts sister!
I was absolutely wrecked when I read this. You’ve confessed what I can barely whisper in the dark. Those horrific moments when I recognize my tormentor in my own reflection, and I am overcome by this terrible feeling of being so powerless to change. The difficulty of life circumstances, the endless tasks that drain me of spontaneity, the knowledge that I’ve “lost it” before, and I’ll do it again….all of it…yes, I rely desperately on the grace of God, and hope my children will know the love at deeper levels than the ugly can shake…but the JOY? That,I fear, they do not see in me. I hardly can grasp it, much less exude it. How do I get there???
I loved :
No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.
Such truth. It is the heart. Always the heart. If only we can get our heart right then maybe we can model it to them. If only we can stop and breathe and give ourselves grace we will have more to pour out of us to them. If only … and yet we can – with him.
Thank you for your transparency – I keep repeating “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – none. Even for the days we yelled instead of spoke. But how I am trying to yell less and speak softly more.
Truth – that is what this is, truth!!
Blessings on your trip!!
Shawna bear says
Thank you so much! I am, too that hissing mama. I want to be remembered for joy! My Lord and my Gods great joy…Lord, my gracious Father…be my strength, be my redeemer, be my joy, be my strength! In Jesus name I pray, Amen!
Barb Roland says
Generations of Grace is Gods response. The “blessings” of the third generation also become apparent. I was that hyper-vigilant mom, insisting on character. But Gods Grace gave me two sons with extra-ordinary forgiveness, understanding, love of God. One is in Ukraine, a war-torn city, as I write, waiting for a passport to accompany our new grand-daughter home. God uses our flaws for his Glory and a display of His strength! Continue to grow, and be blessed in it!
alina y says
Ann… tears falling… thank you so much for being real…writing Truth…God bless you on your trip. Alina
There are no words to explain how my heart aches as I read this – with two grown children in college and one battling his own anger and past, I am wracked with guilt and fear. Can I fix the damage I have done? How many I’m sorry’s are enough to cover the countless days and nights of hissing and yelling? Not enough…but the Lord can cover them, can turn this around, can change the generations. Forgiving myself is the hardest part…help me Jesus. Thank you for your transparency and honesty – I’m no longer feeling so alone.
Jennifer, you are not alone. My 21 yo, my first born, received the brunt of a new, naive mama’s frustration. Not that I haven’t unleashed frustrated hissing on my other three, just not with that amount of anger. None of us mamas really mean to hurt with our words. Sometimes we are hurting and feel helpless. I was, and I did. As Ann says, “But God.” His Grace and Love are sufficient to cover the guilt. Allow yourself to be forgiven.
“How can grace get a hold of you when the past won’t let go of you? How do you leave a legacy different than the one you’ve been left?” Oh yes. I am not a mommy, but I struggle to love a class full of elementary students who never seem to hear something the first time. Praying daily for buckets of grace and patience.
Just wanted to say this latest post to email really hits home in a lot of ways, me as a daughter and then me the mom and what I want them to remember. I don’t want them to remember moments like what you describe, there were a few of the “iron your shirt” moments.
I am leading a small group at my church on 1000 Gifts! I am so excited to be leading my first group and this is the book I am using. I want to and love to help others but I am really hoping for my growth in Grace and Gratitude……I need to be way more thankful than I have been in my life. So Thanks in Advance for your book and all of the materials we have to use to help us find Joy!!
Blessings to you and your family
Steph Kara says
All I can say is “Thankyou”, THANKYOU for sharing the real you, the real us. I was given your book by my sister and have seen the change it has begun in her so thought ok, I’ll read it. Timely, like looking in a mirror. 25 years in ministry, praying for joy, juggling 5 kids, a broken life needing repair then a major accident sent us on an unexpected journey of the heart and back to the city. God is using your story to help me find joy in this season. Thanks again, Steph Kara
“What would happen in a world where anger was your red flag to reach out and cup a face?” Ugh! Oh Lord, let it be!!!
Anne Angeles says
Ann, your transparency blesses me! Thanks for sharing your personal moments. It’s amazing that even in our anger, Jesus never fails to draw us closer to Him. I have many “anger” moments. And just when I feel that I’ve disappointed God once again, He reminds me of His unfailing love.
It’s all grace,
Your words are so true and so beautiful. Just this morning I unleashed ugliness on my kids simply because they woke up too early. It’s so hard to remind myself to simply breathe and remind myself to speak love. You are very true that we spill out what is inside of us. I have to pray God takes the anger that I feel resides in me from my own childhood struggles, so that I don’t spill anger & bitterness out to my children.
Thanks, as always, for your beautiful words. I’m two years into my gratitude journal and just hit #2106 this morning.
I hope your mission trip is wonderful. I can’t wait to hear more about it.
Thank you for lying naked on your very own cross.
You give me courage.
To all the ladies who have posted here, I pray He will shower you with His grace.
Donna Strom says
I am traveling this week with my very prickly and critical mother. I have clung to the thought of grace when I just wanted to shoot out harsh, stinging words in return. I have tried to focus on those moments of joy that we have experienced this week and the fact that I still have mama on this earth. Thank you Ann for helping me find grace and to count the thankfulnessess of these days few short days.
Damn. That’s powerful. Thank you.
My heart is pounding and the tears are flowing…I don’t want to be this parent, but I am! So. Often.
Thank you for sharing the truth of your life, Ann, so that I can see the reality of my own!
I need God so much more than I realize!
Ann, (or anyone who would care to comment), I, too, did my fair share of hissing today…granted it was much louder than hissing, because it took 40 minutes of calling my kids in to do homework (I have 5 kids ages 1-8 yr old with one on the way) for them to actually come in… And that was after me marching up the hill to go get the last straggler. At what point do you have a right to be righteously angry because your children are blatantly disobeying you. Totally disregarding what you are saying because they have a different agenda ( granted, I know I do that to GOD every single day.) you told your child five times to iron his shirt, I called my kids every 5 minutes for 30 minutes (and I know I should have disciplined before I was raging angry, but I was in the middle of cleaning the kitchen.) I told them after I yelled at them that it was Mommys fault for not disciplining them the first time they didnt obey. Anyways, I’m just wondering the balance in it all. Show grace but also having expectations of obedience. And how to have those expectations without getting so angry over them not being met.
Oh, how appropriate this post is at this time in my mothering journey! My red-headed, strong- willed, warrior child Uriah has brought out the most ugly side of my heart more times than I can count. In his short 3 years, I have seen God bring up more and more places in my heart that need more of Him. It is so nice to know I am not alone.
Glory to Glory.
Thanks ann for being so naked with the worst motherhood has for us. I hate that hissing-lack-of-joy. Honestly, 1000 Gifts helped me slowly re grasp joy in every.thing.
And your blog refocuses my insane need for grace. Ah I was hissing wife today and had to ask for forgiveness too many
Lord heal our brokenness
I read this with all too much knowledge of how you were feeling. Nerves frazzled and quivering–waiting for that last straw to make everything erupt. I was there last week when my son stopped me after my tirade and said, “Mama? I love you, but you scare me when you talk to me like that.”
Oh, how humbled I was. Was I becoming what I’ve tried not to imitate my entire life? What is my heart so full of that it empties out of my mouth with such horrific, fear-inducing verbage? How does this happen? How do I stop it?
I called him up to the minivan and apologized and hugged him and reminded him (as if he didn’t know) that Mommies sin, too, and need forgiveness. And in that moment of shame, my 5 year old lifted my head and said, “It’s okay, mommy. We all make mistakes. Only Jesus didn’t.” Don’t you love when Jesus teaches you through your children?
So I’ve been diligent about pouring into scripture. About praying openly with my Jesus. With asking forgiveness from my kids and being honest with my husband about my struggle for joy and putting the task of perfection behind me. I’m noting my triggers and learning to let little stuff go.
And I’m feeling more joy. I’m feeling happier than I have in a long time. And I’m bathing in grace and thanking God for never giving up on me.
Thank you for this reminder that we’re not alone.
I am so weary in this battle for joy, and “joy” is the very word I’d chosen for this year, so I shouldn’t be surprised… But my husband and children do indeed suffer for my losing the battle, or hiding from the battle, or trying to escape the battle. And I am only more and more in awe of grace bc even when I TRY to give up and lay down and QUIT the battle, Grace moves me to persevere. I CAN’T quit, even when I want to!!! It’s amazing to breeze through all these comments and find how much company I have. Now if I could just learn to humble myself and ask forgiveness of my children–I just hang on to so much pride. And I hang on to these children as though they are mine…the eldest on her way to shadow a missionary in Papua New Guinea all the way down to #9 who we affectionately call “Cheeks”–they are HIS. And I end up finding more joy in them than I do in Jesus. Oh Lord, I need more of You…apart from You I can do nothing, but I can do all things through YOU who strengthen me. The joy of the Lord is my strength. Oh that You would remind me when I forget in a few minutes…
Ann, how I wish I could’ve read these words of yours 30 years ago. The guilt pursues me still, & daily. I was young & never dreamed I’d end up being a single mom hissing & yelling & door slamming, and sadly sometimes spanking, working two jobs during much of my kids childhoods. I wish I had the chance to re-do so many days. Blessings to you.
I’m struggling with my toddler, Ann, and I think all the time during days of frayed nerves how I should be better than the hissing, even yelling, mama. When I read this, it was as if you’d seen my day(s) and you understood. I read it aloud to my husband while he was cooking, and we both paused to weep. Thank you for sharing so openly and reminding me that there’s hope. “Even now He can make us like him…”
Thank God for grace. May we teach it to our children so they understand it better than we have!
It’s like I was there. I could even imagine the sun shining on clover as everything fell apart in a nanosecond. I have been there, all too often, and too ashamed to bring it up and confess it in front of others. I know there are lots of memories for them to chose from – many more joyful moments, but the scary thing is that we can not control what they remember. This should cause is to be ever more careful. I have gotten pretty good at apologizing, though. 😉 As I read and was taken back and I was also called at the same time to an observation that a lack of presence and emotional availability – mine – can be just as devastating. How glad am I for grace?
Yvonne Morter says
I have embraced everything that I have read that you have writen. But this post brought me to tears. I am crying like a baby. I have tried to change my ways of how I have spoken to my kids and to my husband. And I feel like I am starting to succeed. But their quick responces to me cuts deep. I taught them this behavior. Now we all need to change. How do I teach them? I know it is only with God’s help. I pray every day to be that good example. I pray for them. I need prayer.
ABI…..ALL IS GRACE. I am curious to know how others would answer your question. To me, who saw myself in the mirror of Ann’s blog, the grace for you may be seeing the dirt in the mirror and washing it off. For me, I saw the dirt years ago and washed it off. The grace is telling my kids I have remorse for the hissing. The grace in any situation is God’s PRESENCE with us. Presence in good….Presence in not so good. God bless you, Abi, as you draw closer to Him. Love, Marilyn
Susan Contakes says
This is way too long for a comment but how these words minister to me as this post has done.
New Living Translation (NLT)
For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.[a]…
7 Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God…
51:4 Greek version reads and you will win your case in court. Compare Rom 3:4.
51:6 Or from the heart; Hebrew reads in the inward parts.
51:7 Hebrew Purify me with the hyssop branch.
51:11 Or your spirit of holiness.
Much needed today as I did what I always regret doing after I have done it, hiss and yell. My 2 and 4 yr old test me it seems like every moment of the day, wave upon wave that continue to build up steam in me until the waters rage and spill out. It was one of those days and I feel defeated. I turn to God seeking forgiveness and know that God’s grace will once again flow over me and I have a new day ahead of me tomorrow! May I battle for joy so that other’s will not lose it! Thank you Ann for this reminder!
We are broken parents inside and out, however because of the blood of Christ we are called blameless, holy and without reproach! That is grace! Our children don’t need perfect parents, they need to be directed to The perfect Father, the only one who can truly give rest for their souls!
“If you put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of The Lord?” <~ I pray that I always remember this.
As a new mama, I'm so afraid I'll naturally resort to show the hardness I was shown as a child to my own daughter. But this beautiful post reminds me that God's grace is big enough to cover me if that happens. Thank you for your raw honesty and the reminder to fight for joy. I pray that I can keep the spirit of your words in my heart.
Mary Linn says
I have 5 daughters. Twent-one, eighteen, seventeen, fourteen and nine. They know a hissing momma! Especially, in the last four months. The seventeen year old decided that she could live on her own. In our state, she can run away with a 25 year old and the police and the department of human services, won’t help her or me. Many things have gone on. I just keep praying for her safety. I don’t want to be a hissing momma. I want grace and love from my Heavenly Father. Just like I hope this teenage girl will want soon.
It’s tough to know how to be a good mom, when you didn’t have a good example. At 40, I still get upset at my mom, but she didn’t have a good example either. I confess this daily:
The Lord knit —-, —-, & —– in my womb. I am the mother (mother of pearl-STRONG & RESILIENT) He chose for them. As I continue to seek the Lord’s help, daily, He will instruct me and direct me through each situation they encounter with love. I will care, nurture and encourage them, so they feel secure with me and will rise up and call me blessed. By God’s grace, I break any destructive cycles in Jesus name! We will pass on a healthy, wholesome inheritance to them. in Jesus name.
Mary Geisen says
What I wouldn’t give to have some of those grabbing and hissing moments back now that my sons are freely flying the path of their own lives. The beauty though is that the times together now are sweeter, every memory etched into our hearts as we share life and thank God for all. Your story touches my momma’s heart and thanks cry out for all of those moments that mom’s and sons share. Blessings, Mary!
Gratitude for you pointing toward joy. I keep seeking as your words help to light up grace , expand my vision, and hint at hope. You see, my teen son passed on in 2012. Word after written word has helped to hold me together. At times I’ve thought I couldn’t make it, then….something breaks through, or things change and shift. My battle is for a new definition of joy…..a God-joy that somehow my heart can understand is real even though I can’t reach out and give a mom hug, mom words of encouragement, or any means of reconciling past regrets or mistakes. So where am I without grace?! I have hope that it will usher in joy…..a very unique kind. Thank you. Your words have held my hand many days.
I am in awe with our Father and that All is grace. This post ate my lunch. I had this kind of day today. I homeschool my daughter. She has so many issues. One of which is dyslexia. She is almost 15. We have to do remedial math, because she can remember the steps one day , and totally forget the procedure the next day. It has been an overwhelming task to undertake, but I know that He has called me to do this. I got RED hot angry and spewed venom on this precious child today, after struggling through yet another day of the same thing over and over again, only to see NO improvement. I went ballistic! My poor 84 yr old momma was here, and I am sure she thinks I am nuts. The day went from bad to worse and by bedtime, I had listened and believed the enemies lies long enough. I was so ugly, I just ranted and fumed all over the place. I was total witch! I needed to finish doing some laundry, so off I went to the utility room. Our old sweet dog was lying there wagging her sweet tail, and she seemed to be wanting me to love on her. I had just taken my shower(so I had on clean Jammie’s ), and was putting her blanket she sleeps on back down on the floor. It was like He was reaching out to me through this dog! Her unconditional acceptance of me got me lying with her on the blanket. I was soothed by her love. Starting seeing things from a different perspective as I petted and loved on the dog. EVERYTHING is grace…even being loved on by an old dog, who God used to humble me. I sure hope this made sense. I just had to thank you for this post. I love your writings and vulnerability Ann. We are kindred spirits in Him. <3
jenni ho-huan says
O Ann, thanks God for the way you draw us into the gritty reality and make Christ shine so in-the-midst-of-it! this is my life passion – to live an authentic faith, which the last couple of years has meant Grace and Gratitude twinned together. I hope you will visit with me over at my blog. I began the year asking for a strong cord of joy to string through my days; and I say, there have been those days alright! Sister across the Pacific!
Grace is so risky….you are putting everything on the table…because it can be rejected.
Ann — you are a site for sore eyes (even if it is over digits).
Ann, thank you for your raw honesty. I am so ashamed for how often I turn into “hissing” mama, when most of the time my children’s failings can be attributed to something I could have done better. My husband and my children are the most precious gifts in my life. My heart just bursts with love for them. Why do they bear the weight of my anger? I am so often undone. I can only be forever grateful to my Father whose grace covers a multitude of sins…and pray for a fresh start, a more joyful and obedient heart, everyday. Thank you for sharing your hope for a better day, filled with undeserving grace.
Renee Lanier says
I thank God for you and for the lessons He has taught you in your journey with Him thus far…I thank Him for your willingness to be real, poured out, vulnerable for the sake of other’s and for your words! God uses them to carve out and rub off the hard edges of my soul so my soul can mirror Him more and more daily…and how this woman needs His precious grace, every minute of every day! Very often I record your words in my personal journals and forward your emails to my family and friends, all of whom need His grace and love – for THIS moment THIS day. I must admit I see my own heart, my own soul, my own face in your words and I am left to ponder my life, His love, and how choosing to fight for Joy in my Jesus reshapes and recreates me, every day! It has taken me a lifetime to grasp this profound truth and accept it into my soul! He helped me to begin counting grace gifts through your writings! So, thank you! If I do not meet you in this lifetime sojourn, I will see you in Heaven and I will look for you to hug you and thank you face to face over a cuppa! God is so good, everyday…on my easy days and on my hard days…He never changes toward me, toward you! Praise the Lord!!!!!
Here’s a question- what is joy? I have a really hard time understanding what joy is. I’m a yelling, in your face mom and I hate it. I’m angry a lot and I don’t like it,Very short tempered. I Kay it at the Lords feet and ask forgiveness all the time and it still rears its ugly head. I’m frustrated and sad. I have 6 kids and my home is a mess. My husband is not saved and does not help me. I’m a mess. Please tell me what joy is, looks like, geeks like? Maybe I have it but just don’t know it. Thanks
If you read all of the comments to this post, you will see that every single one of us is lacking in joy much of the time! We may have it one minute and lose it the next. I bet if you stop and allow yourself to have a few moments to reflect, you will remember the joy in your life. Joy is happiness, gladness, and delight, and we have it when we experience the Love of our life meeting the deepest needs of our messy life. His name is Jesus. He can take the anger and fear and transform it (us) into joy and peace. Spend more time with Him, and then spend some more. Look at His face. Feel His love. He’s there. I’m praying for you.
Ann, your authentic and vulnerable post encourages me to keep letting go of the fear and anger and the “I am not enough” and press into the glorious grace of Christ. When I lose it with my kids, I feel like a monster. Only at the feet of Jesus can I be reminded who I really am….holy and dearly loved, apple of His eye, beloved child, saint. Love you and your big BIG heart
Thank you for these words! Finding joy is a battle for me. I have seen that look in my oldest’s eyes that says I’ve gone too far with my words. I will battle to find joy, every single day! My family is too precious not to.
joy is knowing that the Father smiles on us and redeems us from the innumerable messes, even violence, we have inflicted on those we know and (dare I say) love. “No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.” By your grace, O God.
Kelley Light says
Thank you so much for always sharing your heart…a heart that flows with abundant love and gratitude for God’s amazing grace, love and forgiveness offered through His Son, Jesus Christ! This story pricked my heart at it reminded me of a very recent incident I had with my nine year old grandson…he has such a sensitive and wounded heart, a heart I understand so much…so thankful for the moment we had together of hugging and crying as I confessed my sin of rage and impatient unkindness towards him. There’s so much more to this story, but I believe it wouldn’t be wise to share all the details of the shame of my sin and the hurt it caused someone! God is so good and I’m so grateful for His unwavering faithfulness and the Holy Spirit’s gentle conviction and forgiveness granted upon confession!
Joy is a choice we have to make in the midst of life’s chaos. On days when our whole being is screaming ” I need peace!!” Ironic when you think about it…..I am constantly checking my spirit and asking Him to pour his peace over me. I am who I am because The Lord knows what I need to stay plugged into him. When my four sweet ( but loud and sometimes demanding) children need me the most… I need HIM the most. When they need MY grace I need HIS grace. When they need my mercy, I Need HIS mercy. I am thankful for those moments because I am reminded how much I need HIM. And do I need him…. Every breath I take, I need HIM. And HE feely gives. Joyfully.
Melanie from Arthur says
Thank you Ann. As a young mom, I am right in the middle of these moments…wanting a clean house, perfect kids, etc. Thanks for reminding me again of what really matters most.
I feel your heart’s cry. I also have too many hissing days that I dare count. But when I cup her cheeks and look into her beautiful eyes that are the same as the baby her….love floods over me. And I can only love then….
My other baby girl was only 2 and she would grab me and say “FACE Mommy. I need to see your FACE” I see Him in their lovely FACES and EYES that are the same as the baby face up close. Not the hormonal 11 year old that exasperates or the precocious 6 year old that asks questions and questions and questions……
I try to cup their faces everyday. I close my eyes and think about God’s face, how he wants us to look into His face, and oh how I want to see him.
Ann your writing captures my heart. You are so honest and I feel your pain and my pain at the same time. You always push me towards God.
Lord, I thank God for Ann.
I’m not a mom, I’m a dad. And boy oh boy can I ever hiss too… It’s shameful. Thank you for being so honest and open. I love the way you write. So many things to think about. Let us all be vessels of joy so when we’re jarred we don’t spill filthy water.
I have been fighting the legacy I have been given, not a pretty one at all. Just when I feel like it is stronger and more powerful, and about to let go. I am reminded that to fight is to give my children a new legacy, and not to live the nightmare me and my siblings have endured. I will battle for JOY!
I certainly appreciate your honesty and see the point of repentance but wonder why the obedience issue wasn’t mentioned? The Lord says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”. Are we not to expect obedience from our children, and don’t we do them a disservice in Not having consequences for disobedience? Both points are important in my opinion. Your thoughts?
Oh Anne, you write my heart. I am a mother of 4 and I could hiss. I have battled horrible panic attacks my whole adult life. Three years ago my husband of 30 years died of brain cancerAnd last year I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. One of my daughters got very weird when my husband got sick and has not had any contact with me for a year. All she can remember are the hisses even though I have triedmto own all of it and have asked for forgiveness so many times. I have a grandaughter I am not allowed to see and gifts get returned un opened. Time ticks away and can not be re purchased. I am only 52 and this pain is worse than losing my husband. Why oh why was I like my mother when my very goal was not to be?
We laid my father-in-law to rest yesterday. At 84, he had just come to know the presence of God in his life. Now some of his adult children and grandchildren struggle with a legacy of anger and bitterness. At the reception though, I found myself telling people how easy it becomes to choose joy and how wonderously freeing it is. Thanks for this painful story.
Oh Ann, there is an opposite or opposing side too. I was taught to keep all emotion tightly wrapped up. Somehow your post triggered the seeing and I am left in a sobbing heap. I taught my children the same. I stopped angry temper tantrums in their tracks with a cold shower. Yes, the first time they had a temper tantrum I calmly told them…. If you act like that again I will give you a cold shower In your clothes and you won’t come out until you stop crying. I didn’t scream. I didn’t yell. It had worked for my dad on me. I didn’t think it had caused any damage, it had worked quite well. I learned self control, right? My children learned self control, right? Oh, no!!!! I learned to keep wrapped up tight and not deal with the real. I taught them it was bad to be angry and never tried to get to the bottom of ANYTHING! I could deal with sad but not angry. It seemed so much better than hissing, grabbing or yelling. I’m shaking and sobbing thinking of the damage I have caused my children and myself….. Oh GRACE. SWEET grace. Please.
My kids are grown now but I am so familiar with that story. I remember one of mine… Our family had moved into a new home with white carpet! I don’t remember the exact details but my young son of 8 or 9 years of age spilled something red on the carpet in my bedroom. Of course, he was not supposed to bring whatever it was out of the kitchen. Well, I went into gear! We all know the eternal properties of red dye! Bleach, cleaning chemicals and the whole line of my cleaning arsenal was brought on the front lines that morning. It was war on the spot. The spot won. Through my blubbering, mumbling, and saying the how could you do this, I see my son’s eyes focused on me as I defend my carpet. I remember that look to this day. I guess he was wondering where his mom went and why this piece of carpet was more important than him. I apologized to him, even years later because it was so memorable to me. That episode taught me about myself and the things that I needed to change. I needed God to help me. Over the years, there were more stories, but I kept on learning. I still forget at times that people’s hearts are the most important thing over stuff, inconvenience, etc but I am not the same woman anymore. I am forgiven. Thanks for being real. It is the TRUTH that sets us free. As you give us your honesty, it gives us ,”church folks” , to be real with our issues.
Ann, thank you for sharing your life lessons with so many. Like many others here, my sons are grown and I no longer have the opportunities to demonstrate grace like when they were young. I grew up in a disfunctional, angry home and, like others, I said I would never raise my children that way. But, I failed. And now my sons are angry, critical and broken, and I am left with nothing but regret. I know I did some things right, but it seems like the bad out weighs the good, and the regret is strangling me. I am left with disappointment that because of me, they are different men then they would have become if I had walked in grace when they were young. I know they have free will and make their own choices, but I also know that how we raise our children does have an impact on the way they look at life. Where to go from here?
Marisa Slusarcyk says
I felt the same way this weekend. It was a long weekend here because of Family day and by the end of it I think we had all shed some tears. The boy who insists on playing hockey in the house, in front of everyone who is trying to talk, the ball he uses that gets all the dogs barking and even the bird mad and the fact that we have enough snow that my daughter went out to find her headphones in my car but came back claiming the car was stolen! Fortunately it was just buried! All of this equals a lot of extra energy for a child with so much and after about the 900th time of being asked to stop I snapped at him and he burst into tears and in between sobs he said “but i am bored”. He is just using energy that he can’t access outside because of the weather and I broke my own heart by making him cry because I raised my voice. In those moments, I feel like the worse person on earth and I used to get depressed as a result, but this time, like so many times this year, i pulled out my gratitude journal and I added to it, both giving praise and handing myself and the chaos over to God so that I could accept forgiveness and focus on the joy and the peace.
mary kathryn says
Thank you for sharing. I was yelling at my daughter this morning while trying to get to to a dentist appointment. I struggle with the same issue.
So, I have a question for you. If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently?
Thank you, Ann, for your complete transparency. I just met you a month or so ago in your beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts. Even though I’m a 67 year old grandmother, your words, your life, your faith touch me and bring healing. We precious women (and men, too) are all so afraid that our mistakes, sins, ugliness are too great and have done too much damage for grace to forgive, heal, restore. We go around with our heads hanging down, not feeling the incredible love that God has for us. We’ve been robbed of the peace and joy that Jesus wants to give us. Maybe you and I can tell them that grace is greater, that God is greater. Today, I’m relying on grace, on Jesus, and on His promises to change me. Blessings, my sister! Thank you!
As I sit here crying and think of all that I should have done, but didn’t and did do the things I did – I am so disappointed in myself! I love our children and hope as they are parents now that they don’t do like I did, but it’s hard to do things different when you were brought up that way. One usually raises their children as they were raised or sometimes it is completely the opposite. I pray my children raise their children opposite from the way they were raised. I am a Christian, but my mouth sometimes gets the better of me. I pray continually to God for my sins – that He will forgive me. I have very low self esteem. I pray that all I am going through gets better and I can have a peaceful life.
I’m an older than you momma (55) but when I read your stories, I remember back to the pain filled years of trying to do the right thing and be a good Christian loving mom, and then having the ugly pour out of me. I am so thankful for God’s grace and redeeming love. My kids are 21, 26 and 28 and I know they fight against bad memories of times when things didn’t go so well, and I have to pray that God uses His love to cover a multitude of my sins and failures.
Thanks for your complete honesty Ann. You are so humble and lovable by admitting mistakes that I’m sure, we can all relate to. The fact that you apologized, and made things right with your son, goes such a long way. Thanks for sharing. Grace, yes Grace, we all need it!
so real. so true. and amen to “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” indeed it is. indeed.
Thank you for your honesty. I just had a beautiful morning until, the 18 year old boy woke up. Somehow I lost his new Levi’s which were in the trunk of his car. And in the midst of reading my bible and trying to get holy, my husband calls and wants me to drop everything and bring something to his job that he forgot. I do not move fast enough and he gives me a reminder call in which I hang up. Now I am quietly sitting here thinking how my day seems full of guilt. But I’m good at turning it around. So thankful that we can choose JOY!
Cheryl Neiswender says
Wow! How many times have I gone nuts over some insignificant something with my children. Blown up over nothing and spewed on my precious children. Thanks for showing us the redemption in your fall. How deep the Father’s love for us!
Hello – i have read your post several times and guess i just do not understand. did the boy never have to iron his shirt? Did he ever take any responsibility for ironing the shirt? When he goes to a job interview, goes on a date, goes to college, gets married and each time chooses not to iron his shirt, where is the discipline? does grace cover that? it seems to me that you ended up apologizing for asking him to obey you. also, as i am old enough to be your mother/father, i am offended by your reference to your father, as if getting older was some terrible thing to be avoided. Your parents disciplined you and sacrificed so you could have this life of “grace.” You have a responsibility to discipline the children, it should not be an option and obedience should not be an option. I thought your writing showed disrespect to your parents and thus your child did not have respect to follow your wishes. He is too old to cry about ironing a shirt, if that is what you asked. Respectfully submitted.
Yeah, it’s like you’ve been in my house the last couple of years, Ann.
I was lying on the couch today, actually, quietly sobbing because all I want to do is pour His life and love into my two small girls but instead I am flipped upside down by the torrent of anger (fear) inside me, and I cannot help but cut cut cut them with my words and tone. My nearly five-year-old daughter brought me my choice of two watercolor paintings, painted to comfort me, both of rainbows. God’s promise.
I am learning to strengthen myself in the Lord, and His promises WILL come. Full healing. Redemption. I am learning to submit my shame and self-loathing to Him, because He is stronger than them, and He has already spoken — with forever-ever authority — words that take care of those bad boys. Perfect Love drives out fear. DRIVE IT OUT, Father. I need a revelation of His love.
The thought occurred to me recently that His love extends to everyone, low and high. But His daughters and sons are all weak. It is what qualifies us.
I feel drawn close to each of the women who have commented — I have felt so alone in my ugly. My prayers for my own healing now will include each of you, precious sisters. (And those of you who didn’t comment, too, but are fighting the same.)
Thank you, Ann. The Lord continue to bless and heal you. What a gift you are giving your children, even in your own mess — the gift of learning what forgiveness and repentance looks like.
Julie Gillies says
20 years ago as I drove my 8th grade son to an athletic banquet where he was going to receive an award from Leroy Selmon (Tampa Bay Bucaneers), I noticed he had a rip in his shirt. Fuming, juggling anger and my steering wheel, I asked him how on earth he had ripped it. He shrugged. “I don’t know, it was just ripped.”
I scream-lectured him all the way home so he could get a fresh shirt, telling him things just do not rip on their own. Over-reaction to the max.
Later that week, I went into my closet, chose a dress for church, put it on, and it noticed the side hem was completely ripped. I hadn’t done anything to it–it was just ripped. I sobbed. God showed me that sometimes rips happen and it’s nobody’s fault and it’s certainly not worth a nearly-ruined banquet or relationship with my son. That boy is now a Green Beret. And I no longer fume over rips or tears or missing buttons…though I can’t claim the same in traffic.
Thank you for your authenticity.
Thanks Ann for your honesty. I too have grown boys that have had the “wrath of mom” poured out on them a time or two over the years. As I sit here and read and reread your post I think about how our God is a God of second and third and fourth and …chances. I am so thankful for that! I need it even today as they are both grown men…I am still putting my foot in my mouth over silly things they do and it makes me cringe when I think about it. For me forgiving myself has been the hardest as I don’t have a problem forgiving others…just me. My Heavenly Father and I are working on that daily. 🙂 Thanks again for showing me Jesus in a real way. Blessings!
Susan Brenda says
Have lived the hissing moments far too often with my six wonders and then pled for their forgetting. This is a subject the Lord and I have more than once unwrapped. I appreciate the spare words with which you hang the mirror for me so often. God calls me to look in it, but is always by my side in the reflection. Thank you.
Ann, Thanking God for blessing you with the gift of being able to reach so many people, including me! Heard a man at Winterjam ask,” when a child reaches their hands up to you, what are they wanting you to do?” They want you to pick them up. When we raise our hands in worship we are asking our Father to pick us up. Father, I ask You to pick us up. Carry us In the messy, ugly, loud, hard, weak,heavy, quiet moments. When we’ve pierced our childs hearts with cutting words that we wish we could shove right back in. When your child is hurting & they harm themsleves & we hurt cause we want to fix it, make it better. When you look at your child and say, “i love you” and they barely repeat it back. When they’d rather be at another person’s house instead of being at home, home where love resides. When they leave, we hope and pray we’ve taught them enough that they’ll remember. Remember they can always come home, no matter what they do, what they’ve done it will never make us love them any less. Because unconditional love doesn’t go away. Help us with our guilt, and feelings of being a bad parent. We, too, are children, Your children still learning. Know that yes in the bad moments You mean them for good. Father, Abba, give us strength and grace for the day, the right now moments.. Lasso those wild negative thoughts, ‘what if’s’, keep our eyes fixed on You. Only You can calm the storms in our minds and hearts, I am a work in progress. May we as women, mothers keep pressing on, becoming Kingdom Women, molding us, shaping us. All is grace. Thank You for Your grace in its many forms. Help us with our attitudes in the trials. Like Ann wrote, instead of clinched fists may we have cupped hands to receive.(paraphrasing) Help us let go of our control, to trust Your control, Your way, Your business. We love You, Father. In Jesus’name, Amen.
I am a mother of three. I’ve homeschooled for six years. God is working and I can say i’m not as bad as i used to be but i am still human. The fact that when we say a biting word we’ve realized it & it cuts us. God is doing a heart transplant. We just keep loving them. I do remember a few things my mom & dad did but i remember more good than bad. My daughter is 19 and I know we have to let her go, that’s the hart part. Not being there to say “watch out”. She’s at that age that she’s knows everything and we know nothing. She cuts herself and I’m at a loss. I feel like I’ve cried so much I’m dry. I know God uses everything for good to those who love Him, the waiting is hard. I’m ever closer to my Father than before.So when the enemy loves to remind me of the things I’ve done & encourages me to beat myself up for it I have to remember Whose got me? He mended a separation in our marriage let alone other things, He is here! He is useful& He is beautiful! All Sons & Daughters song verse- It’s Your breathe in our lungs so we pour out our praise, pour out our praise to You only…..all the earth will shout Your praise, our hearts will cry, these bones will sing, “Great are You Lord!” Youtube it. Thank you Ann. I love you and your gift of 1000 Gifts. I am at 3,219 & counting.
Mmm…Some good reflection Ann.
sadly, I know all too well. Even more sad, is when you see it in your child’s eye, the brokenness. Another stab at the heart at what I am not doing right. Not living in joy and remembering….
Susan C. Rogers says
Just wanted to let you know Ann that God has used you in this season of my life to minister grace to me. Eucharisteo! To see the grace in every moment, especially the hard moments, and give thanks. To know that we can experience HIS joy in the hard times. Even now, I am sitting here thinking about my hissing moment with my 2 1/2 Year old miracle baby yesterday in the grocery store. I know I am a work in progress. That HE is teaching me to get grace so I can better give grace especially to those closest to me! Thank you for your willingness to share your humanity!
Thank goodness for all those dysfunctional family stories in scripture that remind us of God’s mercy. And for all those times in our own families where we are provided opportunities for our own messes to become mercies……..I am grateful as I watch my young adult children [28 and 24]. These 2 wonderful children who survived a divorce, fear of the unknown, beans and rice, and moments of our crazy humanity where we had to trust in a love bigger than us………….blessed be.
Oh, Ann, this touched me today.
If you don’t fight for joy, it’s your children who lose.
I try so hard to be joyful, to make our home joyful, and to make their lives joyful. But as you said, it is what is in me that spills out. If joy is not there, it cannot spill.
I am glad that in my weakness Christ can make me strong. Because I feel so weak, and I feel like most of what I do as a mom is wrong.
Today, joy in the Lord!
So needed this today as fear gripped me yesterday when just a hint of our past peeked it’s head out from my husband and I witnessed it. Only an “ungracious person misses the need for grace.” I missed it. I had a moment of graciousness then I totally fell back into fear. It wasn’t good and it does not promote open honest communication and we both missed the joy of just loving each other even in hard moments.
Sharon Mavis says
I really appreciated your post, in particular, your vulnerability. I also appreciated your well presented thoughts that joy has to be fought for in every situation.
My pastor-husband and I have become so aware of how that is true in our marriage. There is so much opposition to joy: spiritual battles, lies we believe, pressures of life, etc. We know that we can get there, to the point of joy, but it has to be fought for. It doesn’t usually just show up.
We are fighting for joy and encouraging others to fight for their joy, too.
Your writing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart so transparently.
“What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?”
Thank you so very much Ann Voskamp… for your sweet transparent thoughts about these truths… for the grace given for others of us to embrace our failures in our parenting, and the hope and grace that it is never too late. (I can remember way too many moments like the one you described…but ending in hearts torn and wounded.
Even though my children are grown (My home schooled children now 19, 21, 22, and 24 and off living their adventures in other states and countries!), my heart is so full knowing that they are seeing my joy NOW and that the precious moments of phone calls and visits can be characterized by His presence and the joy that can’t help but exude.
Yes. I will keep battling. Joy!
Grace and honesty…..yes. Great post. I try to teach my children and especially myself that our thoughts come before our feelings (emotions) and then of course before our actions (we can all spit poision). When we learn to find the thought (often illogical and sometimes bizarre – at least mine) before we take action we can choose to change it, replace it, be curious about it. When humans CHOOSE to have better thoughts, they have better feelings and take better action. It’s so beautiful to find the breath to change/choose the thought before it spews out into the world – like you’ve stopped the devil in his tracks.
Ann… You speak wise words that touch my weary heart… The women who share here… are examples to all of us… I am a dad who has hissed… While our Father has brought me far from a very abusive home, I have fallen into ‘hissing’ and inappropriate anger too many times… Thank you for your encouraging words which bring me on my knees to our Father… Be blessed …
You have such a gift for vulnerability and for expressing yourself through words.
It is hard to imagine you hissing at anyone, but, I have been there too. I know what it is like when “crazy” unleashes out of nowhere and I half strangle the child I am struggling to carry to the car because she needs a nap… All I can say now is thank God they are grown! And we all survived intact. That I can love on them now in ways I couldn’t then. That I can see the multi-generational raw emotions that still live. Ever thankful that we can all nest together and whether the storms and learn to do it better with each and every day as Grace guides us.
Thank you for your courage to share it all with us. For your words like water to a thirsty soul.
Sandy Potts says
“Every ungracious moment means someone else doesn’t understand grace.” Wow! That is powerful!! I posted that quote (and gave you credit, Ann!) and in the post apologized to my children for all of the times that I was ungracious to them and kept them from understanding grace. I am so afraid that they remember them all! I AM grateful for GOD’s grace! Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking words. 🙂
Thank you…. just thank you….
I needed this…..
don’t want to repeat my mom’s anger…..
been there…. too many times…..
God uses my kids to bring me back to repentance…. Jesus don’t stop using my kids to speak to me….
yes, thank you…. thank you for the reminder…. to be gracious….
Karen Veenstra says
Watching you write the way you do and reading the books you’ve written, you always inspire me to keep writing. My dream is to be an author. I am twenty-five years old, work as an assistant to an Executive Director for a big church in New Jersey (not exactly the stepping stone to that dream), but it does allow me to always be in the view of so many other Christians walking the same path as I. I did what any aspiring writer does when they want to get their writing out there and started a blog in the last year. However, I lack a lot of confidence, struggling with my inner thoughts of “You’re too young. You’re not smart enough. You’re not capable enough. What could you possibly say that anyone would care to read about?” Like Moses in his burning bush moment when he asks God, “But who am I to go to Pharaoh?”
Did you ever have those moments in your early writing career? How did you conquer through that?
Anyway, I guess I just want you to know the way I write, I try to emulate you in many ways. And my latest post was inspired by your words here. It would be an incredible blessing and so encouraging for you to poke your head into my blog and check it out (www.karenveenstra.com). What a gift that would be!
Walking the same path,
Dear Ann, as I read the first few comments I felt I needed to share. I was 30 when I got saved,married and two girls. We had a son two years later. I had raised these girls the way parenting was modeled to me. A lot of yelling,hissing and hurt. As I started my relationship with the Lord and seeing Christian families I started blaming my parents for my childhood and missing out on the life that seemed so wonderful. One day in my complaining to the Lord about how my parents could have been and done better I heard Him say: “Sherri, they did the best they could do at that time with what they had now love them!” It changed everything for me. Towards my parents and my children. I did the best I could at time BUT I could then do better with God leading. I have been a better daughter and mother since that day. Also even a better person because that comes to my mind when I want to judge a situation and I hear they are doing their best with what they have at that time so I love on them 🙂 And the greatest of these is LOVE!! Thank you Ann for your message.
Ann, thank you. I needed this message today. Why do I let the little things get to me? Sometimes I just feel so alone in this mom journey…making one mistake after another…going to bed in tears. I just keep asking Jesus to help me and guide me.
Beth WIlliams says
This resonated so much with me. I find that in the last few years my joy has been stolen. It is a constant battle to fight the lies and the busy schedule.
We both work busy, stressful jobs in medicine–add to that the stress of driving, & caring for older parents. My father has had some health issues in the past few years, This year started out with trying to get him moved into an assisted living while battling snow, paperwork & other issues.
I will try to bring back the joy that we once had in the beginning of our marriage!
Really Struggling says
I have just cried my eyes out reading this. Could hardly read. This is me a thousand times in the last eight difficult years. I am so ashamed of myself and can’t even forgive certain instances of my temper, irretreavable — and I don’t even have the understandable excuses. My children’s forgiveness has been so quick, undeserved, gracious, mindblowing. And yet I think of the damage. Thank you for being transparent. This too is undeserved. Grace.
Dear Really struggling,
I read your post and feel compelled to pray for you.
Lord, I do not know this dear woman, but you know her. I do not know her name, but you do. I do not fully understand the difficulties she faces, nor the guilt she feels, but Father you know her intimately. Lord I pray that you touch her heart and heal it. Help her to forgive herself as you have forgiven her. Help her to know that we all fail, we all fall short, we all are in need of your grace and mercy and none of us are alone on this journey, even when we feel completely alone. Lord help her to see you throughout her day. May she feel your presence lead her, and when she feels her temper rising, may you calm her, remind her and bring her back to joy. And when she fails, may you continue to show her your love for her, your forgiveness of her sin. Draw her close to you and may she feel your love and share your love with those around her. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Really Struggling says
Thank you, Lisa! What a gift you have given me today, to know I’m not alone, that someone prayed for me! I’m humbled.
You are never alone. My prayer is just evidence of Christ’s love toward you and his care to meet you in your need. There are almost 200 posts on this page. I did not read all of them, and I did not feel compelled to pray for any others (yet anyway). God knew you needed encouragement. I was just the messenger.
And by the way, a failing struggling, weak imperfect messenger, who sometimes yells at her kids. God can use any of us to be an encouragement to others. It has nothing to do with us or our own ability. His strength is made known in our weakness. Much love to you. As Ann would say…be the gift.
Dear Sweet Ann,
I cannot tell you how much your blog has helped me over the last couple years. God is truly using you and your willingness to be vulnerable, to admit where you fall short, to show all of us we are not alone in our weakness and our need for grace.
The last two years I have been dealing with an un-diagnosed medical issue that leaves me tired and less patient than I think I used to be. I think all mom’s know the guilt of losing their patience with their children from time to time. I certainly have had my share over the last 17 years of being a mom. But I find it interesting that I feel God has used the last 2 years to draw me closer to him, through many difficulties well beyond the medical issues, yet, though I draw closer to Him, in this area I feel I am struggling more and more. I can hide behind the excuse that I don’t feel well, but truth is I still have control of how I react to my children. Thank you for being so honest. As a woman who does so much to encourage other women, it is easy for many of us to put you on a pedestal and think “If only I were more like Ann”, then you come through with your honest vulnerability to let us know we are like you. We all have the ability to choose this day to have joy and to follow Christ wholeheartedly regardless of our circumstances. And, like you, we all have times we will fail. God can use these too. God is not limited by our weakness, and just because we fail, even sometimes when it feels repeatedly, we are not failures. God is there to forgive and to heal and to use our weakness for His glory. Thanks again for being willing to be vulnerable for His glory. Very thankful for the way you encourage so many.
Tears flowing as I read this all-too-familiar account.
And they flow again as I relish in His forgiveness and grace– that joy and freedom He brings to mothers with divided hearts that become weary at times.
Thank you for your refreshing honesty. And beautiful writing.
Kim Kintner says
“Who can look into a child and forget miracle?” What a beautiful reminder of the miracles of God around us <3. ~Kim
Today is my last day at work and I was cleaning out my inbox here. I noticed I had not read this particular email. My heart is heavy as I realize that many of the things I have done as a mother are “called out” in this blog. I am heavy hearted, but then grace whispered in my ear that it is never to late, if I let it, for her to do a work that will undo what I’ve done – and redeem the areas that I have bruised.
Thank you, Ann, for ALWAYS reminding me that the voice of the enemy whispers death and discouragement and the voice of my Redeemer whispers life, encouragement and GRACE!
YOU are a tool that God uses in my life and for that (and YOU) I am truly thankful!