6 weeks to go

Wow! Our time here in Chad is almost up. We have 6 weeks left in the school year and we fly back to Chicago on June 5th. Our original plan was to be in Chad for 10 months, but due to some schedule changes, we will be heading home 6 weeks early. This actually works out nicely since we start renting a home in Aurora on June 1, and Shiloh begins a high school summer course on June 11. Sidenote – my first born is starting high school – WHAT?!?!

Our time here has had it’s ups and downs, but as it comes to a close, I look back on the goals I set for myself and feel proud. I have loved just about every minute of teaching these sweet little Kindergarteners. I’m not a huge fan of waking up early, but I must say that greeting my group of 5 and 6 year olds at 7:30 every morning puts a smile on my face. So thank you to all my family, friends and supporters for sending us here so I get to teach this group of missionary kids.

Robert has completed 19 books and has a couple of more in the works. The books look beautiful and witnessing the kids at the North Kanem school reading them is such a treat. A shipment of 200 books is on its way here to be split between the two schools up in the desert. It’s amazing knowing that these boys and girls are getting an education in their mother tongue – their first language. All of you who helped get us here should feel so proud of what you have helped accomplish!

Shiloh, Huck and Weslee have done so well. They took this challenge and thrived. They have grown so much in these past 7 months. They’ve matured in ways that make me so proud. I pray they always remember our time here. I know the older two will, and they will be better people because of it. How they’ve lived and what they’ve seen will stay with them forever.

As we begin to plan for our return to the States, I do get a bit sentimental. While I have struggled to be content with the living conditions here (mainly the weather), I truly have fallen in love with the people and the mission…so much so that Robert and I talk about coming back for a longer term one day. Maybe when the kids are grown, we’ll have a second career as long term missionaries. It could happen!

Robert is currently flying back to Chicago for a job interview. He’s had a couple of interviews via Skype and now the company wants to interview him in person. He gets to spend 5 days back in the US. Lucky duck! I don’t envy his struggle with jet lag though! Ha!

God has been so faithful to us, and we know that he is guiding us while we plan our next steps. Pray we make wise decisions, end our time in Chad well, and transition back to the States smoothly.

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Papaw

I received a text from my mom on February 16 saying that her dad, my Papaw was very close to death. He had been really sick with his second bout of cancer. I wrote a letter of memories to him and was able to read it to him over the phone on Saturday, February 17. He passed away the next day.

Gerald Dewitt Moody – October 19, 1925 – February 18, 2018.

Here is the letter:

When I was a little girl, I loved spending time with Mamaw and Papaw. I remember spending afternoons at their telephone shop. We’d play games in the office and burn leaves with magnifying glasses outside. I remember playing with all the different telephone models that were on display. My favorite was the Mickey Mouse phone.

At their house we’d play Rook, Dominoes and Go Fish, we’d walk in the woods and ride 4-wheelers and dirt bikes. We’d go fishing, hunting, and gathering – Papaw has always kept a garden. I remember sleeping on pallets on their bedroom and living room floors. The couch in their den also made a great bed. I spent quite a few sick days out of school on their couch watching TV, napping, and drinking 7Up.

I remember following Papaw around outside as he did his chores. My cousins, brother and I would tag along while he fed the dogs, burned the trash, tended the garden, sprayed the ant beds and weeds, worked on the cars, and piddled around in the storage building and work shed. He would patiently explain what chore he was doing and why it was necessary, and he didn’t complain about us being in his way.

He showed us how to drive using his riding lawn mower. He would pick the blade up and let us practice driving up and down the hill by his house—the dirt bikes and go carts were always gassed up and ready for us to use as well.

Papaw would let me borrow his blue truck when I was home visiting from college. I called her Ole Blue. Her a/c didn’t always work and there were a few times when it took her a while to get started, but Papaw always made sure she was ready for me when I got there.

Talking and spending time with Papaw was easy when I was a little girl. He’d laugh, play, and teach me things. But as I grew up, I think he became nervous—not knowing what to say to a modern young lady. I now watch him laugh and play with my kids. Something about little ones puts him at ease.

He still gets a big smile on his face and in his voice when I visit or call. He asks about my car, home, and appliances to make sure they are safe and in working order. I can’t tell you how many visits I’ve made when he would lift the hood of my car and check it out to make sure it was up to his expectations. He is all about care and concern. He makes sure cars, appliances, houses, etc. are safe and running correctly, and if something is off, he and his tools are ready to fix the problem. After a brief check-in, he excuses himself to have a glass of milk. Then he chews on a toothpick while reading or watching the news.

I can see him in the orange and white kitchen sitting at the table perusing a newspaper. He grunts or “humphs” and says, “let’s see” when he reads. He leans in toward the paper holding it wide in both hands while still resting it on the table.  Sometimes he lets out an “Eeeee” when something he reads strikes him funny.

He’s not a man of many words, but he listens well and knows what’s going on around him. Every now and then, he’ll speak up with much to say. He can talk on a topic that interests him until you agree with him, change the subject, or leave the room.

Papaw is fiercely protective of his family—he has a family-first mentality. He will drop whatever he’s doing if a family member needs help. Even when he feels the need for “tough-love” his actions are rooted in care. I can’t count how many times he has stepped up to help someone no matter their situation. If it’s money, food, shelter, or anything else he can provide, he will make it happen for his family.

I think each one of us grandkids has lived with him and Mamaw at some point in our lives. Their home has opened for weeks at a time when any of us has needed a safe place to stay. I’ve always known I can count on them any time I am in need.

It’s hard to believe that now it’s time for his family to do the same for him. To love him and take care of him in the ways he has cared for us.

I’m sad thinking of this strong patriarch being so weak and helpless. He’s been a constant strength and source of stability for so many people for so many years. It’s hard to think that he is now relying on the strength of others.

Papaw,

You have lived and loved well. The sacrifices you made for your family and your country will never be forgotten. The ways you have stepped in to help in hard times have been an amazing example to me. You are a courageous, loving, generous, and protective grandfather. I’m thankful for the impact you’ve had on my life. You’ve helped shape who I am, and I’m grateful. Your legacy will live on through all the people you have loved. I love you!

Ramblings of Life in Chad and Faith in God

We’ve been in Chad for 4 months now. Some days it seems like our time is going by extremely fast, but other days it feels like time is crawling.

We’re all settled in our job/school routines and feeling content. There is a part of me that wants to look ahead to when we return to the U.S., but I’m trying to stay focused on my present and not think about the future until it’s necessary.

We do have a few things settled for when we get back to the States. Shiloh is enrolled in Wheaton Academy for her freshman year of high school. (Let’s all take a moment and have a Praise break that God worked that out!) Huck and Weslee will return to Four Winds Waldorf School. And it looks like we will be renting a house in our old neighborhood – woohoo!

Things we don’t have settled (and aren’t actively pursuing just yet) are jobs for Robert and me, vehicles, and furniture. Ha! Those are some pretty big things, but I know God will work these out just as he has everything else.

I can truly say that this last year has increased my faith and trust in God. How could it not – it took all of 6 months for us to hear about this opportunity, decide it’s what we should do, sell our belongings, raise our funds, and get here. I’m still in awe of how God made it all happen. If he can do that, I know for sure he will take care of everything for our return.

Even since we’ve been here, God has been proving himself over and over. Our first few weeks were very hard: getting over jet lag, adjusting to not having our American conveniences, Robert’s kidney stone issues, and trying to fit into a new culture. But we had some special moments where God revealed his presence in a tangible way.

The first night we were here one of my kids was crying and could not fall asleep. We were tired and emotional and the tears just wouldn’t stop. I began to quietly pray Ephesians 6 (the armor of God) over my family. It was as if someone flipped a switch when I began praying. The tears immediately stopped and my precious child fell right to sleep. The peace I felt in our little apartment was amazing.

God was with us as we traveled to Kenya for Robert’s surgery and recovery. He helped keep us calm when everything seemed like it was unraveling. A couple of answered prayers: 1. We were approved for an emergency medical evacuation which means that insurance covered our hospital fees. 2. We were approved to seek medical assistance in Kenya where Robert’s parents could meet and help us. God took what started out as a very stressful and scary situation and turned it into a time for us to relax and spend time with friends and family.

God has been faithful to answer prayers for my fast-paced family to adjust to the slow goings of Chad life. We’ve developed a love of reading that makes my heart proud, tried our hands at new types of art, grown closer to one another, and made new friends even with some cultural differences.

These 4 months have been exciting and challenging. I’m so grateful for God’s provisions, grace, and mercy.

The love of rhythm and routine

What a week this has been! School was out, so the kids and I were home all week. I still don’t know the area well enough to make a bunch of plans, and I’m not sure yet if it’s appropriate for the kids and I to head to a corner shop or an import store and browse. We don’t speak French so I do know that would be a problem.

The compound we live on has a small library, playground, trampoline, and a kids’ soccer game every Wednesday afternoon, so there is plenty to do right here. But we are on this compound all the time, which is great for me since I would be happy being a hermit, but it’s not so great for my outgoing family. We’re used to doing special things when we are on break, so there was some disappointment.

Robert came down sick with a kidney stone, so it was best that we didn’t have any plans. He has passed a kidney stone once before, so when the pain started he knew the drill. He drank a bunch of water, took some pain meds, and kept a vomit bucket close by. But two days later, he became dehydrated and felt miserable. Thankfully, a missionary doctor is staying in the apartment above us. She gave him 2 liters of IV fluids and monitored his progress. By the 4th bag of IV, he began feeling like himself again. He’s had little pain since then, and is doing much better. Praise God!

Side note – it was shocking and amazing that the doctor had everything she needed on hand. She used my yarn to tie the IV bag to our bed and I “assisted” her in getting it all ready. When the time came, we sat outside on the dusty walkway in front of our apartment while she removed the IV. Hashtag missionary life. Ha! I’m so thankful we didn’t have to make a trip the hospital. If you know a missionary doctor, you should send them an extra donation for Christmas this year. If you don’t any, I know two here in Chad that are amazing…I can give you their names. 😉

The sickness stint on top of not having anything to do sent us all into a funk. We had moments of feeling blue, snapping at each other in anger, and just feeling bored and useless. It took a lot of patience and grace to get us through last week. I’m thankful for the all games and DVDs we brought with us; they were very helpful!

Tomorrow is a new day and school and work resume. Woohoo! We will get back into our normal rhythm and fill our days with books, work, and friends. Thank God for routine!

It’s crazy, but I can remember a time not that long ago when I hated routine. I felt tied down, boxed in. My free-spirit wanted spontaneity, no deadlines, freedom to choose whatever I wanted. While I’m still very much a free spirit and like a little spontaneity, I’ve learned to appreciate certain boxes and deadlines, which makes me feel like I’ve finally grown up. I’m about to turn 38, so I guess it’s about time. Ha!

Thank you to everyone who is praying for us! We feel encouraged and strengthened by your prayers.

 

After getting the IV

Dr. Ruth checking on things

The kids enjoy playing in the rain when it comes.

An Ode to This Old House

This old house has seen me through more than half of my adult life.

We moved in when Shiloh was 4 years old and Huck was 4 months old (2008).

We have so many heartwarming memories in this house.

The kids and I sent Robert off on many travels and adventures from this house and joyfully welcomed him home when they were over.

I taught Shiloh to read in this living room. I think I also taught her to dislike math here too. Whoops!

The kids learned to ride bikes on these sidewalks, learned what being neighborly looks like from our kind neighbors, and developed life long friendships with some of the greatest people right here on this street.

They experienced the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus here. Built forts, obstacle courses, fairy houses and leprechaun traps in this yard. Had late night conversations and tenderhearted prayer times in their bedrooms.

Their dirty little fingerprints are on every doorknob, door, door frame, window, window pane, windowsill, wall, corner, baseboard, countertop, cabinet…you get the idea.

The hours of snow shoveling done here will not be missed, but jumping in the giant piles of snow will be.

This house is where I planted my first garden. I experienced life coming from my hands. I also experienced death coming from my hands as this is where I learned that I am not a good gardener.

We named our giant maple tree in this front yard Mr. Bark. He hosted many squirrels, birds, fairies and gnomes. He had canopies, tents, faces, and fairy doors hung from his trunk.

Mr. Bark was also the home to our joy-filled tire swing. Our kids and many neighbors spent hours swinging here. The swing became an airplane, a pirate ship, a boredom-buster, and a friend gatherer.

We brought Louis and Bowdrie home to this house. We will miss watching them view the outside world from our living room bay window, but we have fond memories of cuddle and play time with them here.

It was in this house that my marriage died and, by the grace of God, was resurrected. This is the house we separated in and the house where we reunited.

This house hosted many counseling sessions, crying sessions, yelling sessions, and making up sessions.

This is where I was when I received the news of my dad’s death. This is where my friends came around me and helped carry me through that loss.

I had a late term miscarriage in this home. We said goodbye to a little life in our upstairs bathroom.

Then I gave birth to Weslee in this home. We said hello to her in that same upstairs bathroom.

This house hosted birthday parties, halloween parties, dance parties, bonfires, christmas concerts, bible studies, and neighborhood soup nights.

It’s been the holder of happy times and sad times, and it has held my family well.

I’m so thankful God saw fit for this house to be a part of who we are.

722 Palace St, you are a wonderful piece in our story.

722Palace

In Between Chapters

This is the part before my new beginning.

I’m not enjoying it very much and that makes me sad.

I thought my time of preparing for Chad would be exciting and thought provoking.

But now, I just want it to to be over. I want to be finished packing, finished fundraising, and have already said my goodbyes. I’m ready to wake up to my new life in Chad.

I know Chad will be here before I know it, so I don’t want to rush and skip the importance of the preparation part.

I think I’ve just been so busy sorting, organizing, de-cluttering, down-sizing, and trying to fit my family’s next year into 15 pieces of luggage, that I haven’t stopped to reflect on the emotional side of it all.

I went through boxes of my late dad’s and brother’s things, and I did it all so quickly and robotically that I honestly didn’t allow myself to really feel the weight of what I was doing.

My mom asked me the other day if I have any regrets of things I’ve sold, donated, or thrown away. Thankfully, my answer is no even though I’ve been moving through everything so quickly.

I feel it’s time to stop for a moment. To pause and let this all soak in. To put all my preparation on hold and breathe in my past and present.

My talented neighbor and friend painted this portrait of our home as a perfect going away gift. Looking at it is helping me slow down and reflect on my time here. I truly have learned and grown so much here in this old house.

722Palace

 

A New Purpose

This quote from Rebekah Lyons “Freefall to Fly” hits me right between the eyes:

“…we walk the streets of our cities with appointments and responsibilities but lack a sense that God intended purpose for our days.”

I knew my purpose and destiny in life was in missions/humanitarian work since I was 15 years old. God confirmed that calling multiple times throughout high school and college. Because of that desire and pull on my life, I traveled quite a bit. I signed up for every mission trip I could. I raised support from family, friends, and churches. I remember living in Sweden for 3 months after college and knowing that my purpose in life was to leave the US and show God’s love around the world.

Even when Robert and I got married, we talked about traveling together and raising our family overseas. We satisfied this desire for a while through Robert’s travels with TEAM. I even accompanied him on a trip to Guatemala once. Then God called us to Chad.

We visited Chad for one month in 2014 and fell in love with the people and the mission. After that trip, we knew we were supposed to go back at some point. Our whole family was excited to plan a year-long excursion as missionaries in Chad. We began praying about when and how.

God had a slight detour for us though. He opened doors for both us to start new jobs here in Chicagoland. This seemed to take us away from missionary life. We walked through those doors and did well. We put the kids in a great school, got a cat and a dog, began to fix up our old home and develop deep friendships. We were becoming settled and comfortable and not really thinking much about life as missionaries.

Then God brought along a Facebook post that changed everything.

I saw that TEAM was looking for a teacher for a homeschool kindergarten class in Chad. I immediately emailed Robert saying, “I can do this.” The wheels started turning. We sent emails, Facetimed friends in Chad, and prayed continually about this opportunity. Every door we knocked on opened. It was like God was flashing a neon sign saying, “Now is the time for the Johnsons to return to Chad!”

So here we are in the middle of packing up our home, raising a budget, and planning on leaving in September for a mission that calls us to fulfill the purpose for our days. The plan right now is to go for a year, but I know if God opens the door for us to stay longer, we will walk through it. We’re nervous but excited to see what this next step in our faith will bring.

You can connect with us and hear more about what we will be doing in Chad at www.wearethejohnsons.com. You can contribute to our mission by clicking here.

 

Why I March

I had a few people ask me why I participated in the Women’s March on January 21. I gave them the short answer, but I decided to try and organize my thoughts to give a longer answer. I know not everyone will agree and some may not even understand, but this is why I march.

First of all, let me answer the question, “why would I, a peace-seeking Christian, take part in a loud, showy protest?”

Honestly, I feel it’s my God-given duty to stand up for what is right. We see many examples of this in the Bible. For instance, Stephen did not sit silently. The Book of Acts tells us he preached what he believed until he died. When the Sanhedrin began stoning him, he continued to preach. That’s quite a protest.

We read about Paul and Peter and the other apostles who preached when it was against the law. They stood up in the streets and proclaimed the truth. They did not sit silently. They went against the religious leaders and government of their day. They were thrown in jail, they were beaten, they were killed for what they believed in. They were preaching love. They were preaching the gospel of Jesus, that he came to seek and save the lost. That he loves the disenfranchised. He loves the minorities. He loves everyone. The apostles were going to make sure everyone knew that.

In the Old Testament, Esther protested. She illegally went before her king and could have died because of that choice. She did it anyway because she knew she had to stand up for her people. She did not sit silently. She protested, and her people survived!

So I protest by marching.

I march for equal rights. It should not matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you look like, you deserve to be treated equally and justly. If people meet the same requirements and have the same qualifications, they deserve to get hired for the same job and paid the same wages. Children deserve a quality education no matter where they live or how much or how little money their family has. All people, whether black or white, rich or poor, should receive the same punishment if they commit similar crimes. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:38, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If we seek to be like Jesus, then we will treat everyone with equality.

I march for refugees. I march because people of this world need to be loved. People of this world need to know that someone is for them. That they are not alone nor forgotten. If we as free Christians do not tell them, who will? If we do not show them they are valued, who will?

I march so women are not sexually exploited. I march to see an end to sex trafficking and rape culture. I march so my son knows to treat women respectfully and that they are not sexual objects.

I march because God gave us the freedom to choose how we want to live. I believe living according to the Bible is the right way, but it’s still a person’s choice. I’m thankful I am not persecuted for my beliefs. I don’t want anyone else to be persecuted for theirs.

I march for gun control. I don’t have a solution, but seeing a graph like this shows me America needs to do something now!

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-10-51-38-pm

I march for our environment. I believe God has called us to care for his creation. He created this amazing world for us to live in, and we are destroying it. The science about climate change is fact not theory. We must tend to this beautiful creation.

I march because I live in a democracy and I can. The law allows me to speak out and speak up for what I believe.

To be honest, it’s hard for me not to have bitterness in my heart toward our new president and his staff. I don’t understand why God allowed him to be a presidential candidate or to get elected. (I think it goes back to God giving us free choice.) But I know that God is in control no matter our choices. I know that his plan will eventually unfold. So I choose to pray for our government leaders. I know they are people in need of a Savior. We all need Jesus and each other.

Our Vow Renewal

Last February, I posted a short photo story of the vow renewal we had on our 9th wedding anniversary, August 16, 2012. I love looking back at those images. It was such a beautiful day celebrating the grace of God and the hard work that goes into mending a completely broken marriage.

We asked our mentors, Elmer and Lynn, to officiate the ceremony. They are some of the wisest and most caring people I know. They walked through the darkest parts of our brokenness with us, held our hands, and helped lead us back into the light. We are so blessed to have them in our lives.

We began our ceremony with the kids walking me down the aisle to the song “I Want You to be my Love” by Over the Rhine. This song has been “our song” for a long time and means so much more to us now. Elmer led us in prayer and Robert led us in singing “Be Thou My Vision.” We sang this hymn in our wedding in 2003. It’s message is something we strive for, but unfortunately we stray from it quite often. Following our own paths, doing things our own way, not seeking the Lord or wise counsel caused us and our marriage to fall apart. Our vow renewal wasn’t just a recommitment to each other, it was also a recommitment to God and his plan for our family.

Lynn read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which is such a beautiful depiction of true love. Love is why we fought so hard to help our marriage survive, and it’s the unbending, unwavering love of God that pulled us through.

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 


We said new vows for our recommitment, and we read two passages of scripture that mean so much to us:

Robert: On our wedding day, we pledged to love each other for better or worse. This past year has tested those vows, but by the grace of God, our love for one another has prevailed.

Cheyenne: We will wipe clean the old canvases of our lives and let God, with His amazing artistic talent, fill them with new colors, harmony and beauty. Today, we are on the other side of the mountain.

Robert: We evolve and transform together. We endure together, laugh and cry together. We raise a beautiful family together.

Both: I am so ecstatic that I get to continue life’s journey by your side. I believe in this marriage more than ever, and I reaffirm my love and commitment to you. I come here today to make a fresh start, to renew our vows of love, honor, and fidelity, and to reaffirm my love for you.

Robert: ‘Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come
For behold, the winter is past, 
The rain is over and gone. 
Arise, my love, my beautiful one, 
And come away!’ 
Song of Songs 2:10,11,13 ESV

Cheyenne: For where you go I will go,
Where you lodge I will lodge. 
Your people shall be my people, 
And your God my God.
Ruth 1:16-17 ESV

The passage from Song of Solomon describes the winter and rain God helped us survive. The passage from Ruth was read in our wedding, and I thought it was fitting to say it again, to verbally accept Robert as the spiritual leader in our home after all we’ve been through.

We bought each other new rings to symbolize a fresh start. I still wear my engagement band, but now I put it on my right hand. Every time I look at my new ring on my left hand, I’m reminded of what we’ve come through and what we’re fighting for.

We found a beautiful description of what wedding rings symbolize on a vow renewal website (I don’t remember which one). Elmer read it when he handed us our rings.

Elmer: These rings have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metal is liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees, then molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful is made from raw elements. Love is like that. It’s hard work. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. When you look at these rings, remember your commitment to love each other.

As we put the rings on each other’s finger, we said, “This ring is my promise to accept your imperfections and recognize your beauty.” 

This was such an important promise for us to make. The previous year, we learned so many ugly things about one another. But on our 9th anniversary, we promised to accept the ugly and search for and focus on the beauty. 

We took communion to start our new commitment by focusing on Christ and his love, mercy, and grace. Without him our marriage would not have lasted. It’s by his grace, love, and forgiveness that we were able to survive.

Our friend, Kristen, led us all in singing the hymn “Tis So Sweet.” We chose this hymn to signify how our marriage was truly saved by trusting in the Lord and relying on his love and grace to sustain us.

Elmer led us in another prayer, we kissed, and walked out as a family to another Over the Rhine song, “I’m on a Roll.” I loved involving the kids in this because they suffered right along with us. They experienced the sadness and hurt by watching us experience it. Our home wasn’t the happiest place to be even when we tried to keep our emotional stuff away from the kids. They saw me cry and unfortunately, they also felt the brunt of some of my anger leading up to and during our separation. Walking back down the aisle as a happy and whole family brought so much joy!

We finished the evening by celebrating with good food and great drinks – our favorite way to celebrate. Ha! It was so fun to laugh and enjoy our friends’ company after such a precious ceremony. We are so blessed to be surrounded with such encouraging family and friends. They listened to us when we were angry, sad, hurt, and broken. These men and women let us vent to them and never judged us. They cared for our children when we had nothing left to give. They prayed with us, challenged us, cried with us and on that summer evening, they celebrated with us.

Anger Management

“Mom, today was a really bad day,” my son told me while we were picking up a pizza on a busy Saturday night. I asked him why, and he told him me about the 2 things he did earlier in the day that he was punished for. Then he added a third, but this time his focus was on my reaction to what he did rather than his behavior. He told me I yelled at him.

My heart sunk.

I have been working really hard over the last two years to stop speaking disrespectfully to my children. I’m trying not to yell at, be sarcastic with, or talk down to my kids in a belittling manor. I’ve been doing pretty well, but obviously I still have work to do. I find that I do better at not yelling and not being sarcastic with them than I do at not talking down to and belittling them.

We had a guest speaker at church a while back; he preached on sin and struggle. He surprised me by being really open with a sin he struggled with earlier in his life and sins that he currently struggles with. He was very open and honest. It was refreshing!

He talked about the cycle of sin and the process of restoration. His testimony of God’s grace and redemption was beautiful.

He asked us to write down a sin that we struggle with. I immediately wrote down “yelling when angry.” I always tell my kids that being angry is not sinful, but we can sin when we don’t control our anger. This is my struggle.

I’ve always had a problem with controlling my anger. I can remember going to my room as a child when I was angry; I would tear up paper into tiny bits or pull on the carpet until my anger subsided. I knew not to scream at or talk back to my dad. He would “tan my hide” or ground me for a month if I did. So I would hold it in until I was in the privacy of my room. This was not the best way to deal with it. As I grew older I would bite my tongue or cheek to hold it in. But every so often, I could not push the anger away. I have memories of screaming at my best friend in 6th grade. I yelled so loud that a band across the parking lot stopped playing their music so someone could make sure everything was okay. Yikes! And in college, I became so mad at my dad one day that I threw a desk chair across my dorm room. To say I have struggled with controlling my anger is an understatement.

After the chair incident, I walked to a local bookstore and bought a self-help book for anger and anxiety. It offered some good suggestions, and I thought I had it under control.

Then I gave birth to my second child, a little spit fire named Huck. He takes after me with his temperament. The difference is he doesn’t hold in his anger until he explodes, he just explodes. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes multiple times per day. His lack of anger management brings out the worst in me. When his anger explodes, mine wants to explode right along with him. Thankfully, I’ve realized that his explosions trigger my anger and I am working on being better.

Four years ago, when my husband and I began going to counseling to save our marriage, I realized just how much I struggle with anxiety and how my anxiety presents itself as anger and frustration. I began working on it with a lot of counseling, and I even took medication for over a year.

Two years ago I found the Orange Rhino. I signed up for her 30 day challenge and made it all the way through it without yelling. I was 8 months pregnant, off my meds, and NOT yelling at my kids. That deserves a big WOOT WOOT! Ha!

I don’t remember how many days I went, but I eventually fell off the wagon. And just like the other day, I keep getting back on. I can say that a long time passes between my yelling incidents, but I still struggle with belittling, sarcastic remarks.

So I’ve started another challenge that will help me cut out the sarcasm and belittling comments. I’m hoping that my kids will join me. It’s a long process but I’m determined to get all of us there.