I know Jesus’ blood can wash our sins as white as snow, but how good is He with carpets?

It was the third “accident” today. In this same spot. Four overall if you count the time she peed outside on our patio steps. Plus the cat joined in the fun and vomited on the carpet too. I had gone through an entire roll of paper towels already-just today- and this was the final straw.  
As I was angrily trying to sop up the mess on the floor, I was having just as much trouble sopping up the mess in my heart. I was angry. Again. I was trying not to be angry. Again. I was trying to not take it personally. But I was Failing. Again… 

Take every thought captive” I urged myself. “Slow to anger” I reminded myself. “Be kind and compassionate“, “humble yourself“, and a whole slew of other scriptures tried to break through my cold hearted self. But none of it was sinking in. I just kept getting lost in my grumbling. “Why is she doing this?” “She’s been doing so good!” “Why can’t she just take 10 more steps and make it to the potty?” “All she has to do is ask for help” 

And then one little thought cracked through. “This is what your sin is like to me.” 

Wait, what? Really? 

And then I put my mirror glasses on. Why do I keep sinning? Why can’t I get my act together? Why haven’t I just asked God for help, when I need it, rather than waiting and causing an accident? 
But then I was reminded of His promise to wash us “as white as snow”. And I was thankful for His forgiveness, but I still had a real life mess to clean up too. (I told you, this is REAL life, not the ‘suddenly everything’s perfect’ crap you see everywhere else.) So I just asked Him. I let it all out. 

I know I shouldn’t let something as stupid and as shallow as the appearance of my carpets be reflection of my self worth, but it was sure hard not to. I knew God loved me, still loves me, will always love me, but I was still pushing Him away. The more I tried to not get upset and to calm down, the madder I’d get and the harder the tears would fall. And then the baby started crying… And then the toddler started crying… And my poor unsuspecting husband was going to be coming home through those doors any minute…

So I just stopped and stood up. I called out to God, out loud, through my clinched teeth, and asked for peace and joy. It was all I could figure out to do. Yes, the toddler just looked at me like I was crazy (which was fair) but it did quiet everybody down. For a second. The joy didn’t come until later, but the small breath of peace did come. Just like I needed it to. Just when I needed it to. 

As far as resources for this post (in keeping with the R.E.A.L. mentality) I don’t have many. I mean, Brawny paper towels are pretty good, and these pet carpet cleaners work great. But the best resource I have is to just encourage you to call out to God. Exactly where you are, exactly when you need Him. Even out loud when you need to
Because HE is all we need. Really

  •  Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. 
  • Sin had left a crimson stain,
  • He washed it white as snow.

Now back to my poor carpet…

Cutting off the Messiah

There we were. In the middle of a hot mess. Alright, several messes. We had just returned home from the grocery store which ended in a “lovely” toddler tantrum and a shrieking hungry infant. To say I was rattled would be an understatement. As we were nearing our garage, my toddler expectantly asked me if she could finish her song we were listening to before I shut the car off. “Yes! I’ve already told you ‘Yes’ 5 times now. Stop asking or I’ll change my mind!” I barked out. And then soon after, in my impatience, I took the opportunity to shut the song off in between verses thinking that she would never notice and I had already heard enough singing vegetables for one night and we were already home and it’s was already past bedtime and and and. (I can rationalize with the best of them when I’m angry).

Once inside the tantrums picked up again, the baby was crying again, and I was still rattled. As I hurriedly tried to get the bottles ready, while trying to put groceries away, I let my frustrations boil to the top and asked my toddler “What is your deal anyway? Can’t you hold it together for 5 minutes? Why are you so upset?” (After all, I was doing such a good job of modeling “holding it together” myself. NOT!) 

     And that’s when she said it. She was just answering my question, but her words took on a much deeper meaning as God was gently using her to speak to my mad momma heart. Hanging her head, she managed to mumble “You cut off the Messiah Momma, and that’s not nice. You shouldn’t do that.” 

     “What are you even talking about sweetheart?”

     “In the song Momma.” Now she was looking me straight in the eyes. “I asked if I could finish my song. You said yes. But then you shut if off before we got to the ‘Mighty Messiah that manifests miracles’ part. I love that part.” Her eyes dropped to the floor. “I just really wanted to hear it again Momma.” 

     And then it hit me. We were singing “Down in My Heart” in the car. And in my haste, I stopped it before it got to the “I’ve got the Mighty Messiah that manifests miracles down in the depths of my heart” verse. Cue the floodgates of Momma guilt and the pangs of regret! 

     I apologized quickly, let her hear the whole song once more before bed, and then rushed on to the rest of the nighttime routines. My mind was filled with the familiar voices of self-doubt and condemnation. “What went wrong? Shortly before we were having a great time singing and dancing and enjoying the evening as a family. How did it get derailed so quickly?” But when I really had a chance to calm down and breathe for a minute (holding a sleeping baby will do that to ya), her words kept ringing in my ears. “You cut off the Mighty Messiah Momma“. 

    She was right. But it was more than just abbreviating the song. I was rushing. I was getting flustered. I was trying harder. I was losing my patience. I was doing everything in MY power and MY strength. There was no reliance on God. I wasn’t “leaning on the everlasting arms” to carry me through. I wasn’t surrendering my will, my plans, my heart, or my thoughts. I was cutting Him off. I was running ahead. And as my three year old so aptly pointed out “that’s not nice”. 

    Zachariah 4:6 says ““So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”” I can’t do this in my power. I NEED His Spirit. HIS leading. HIS guidance. I need to surrender to HIS ways and let go of my agenda and my way. 

    Later that night the Lord gently brought me back to Proverbs 3. It’s well worn, highlighted, dog-eared, and written on in my Bible because I KEEP having to return to this lesson again and again. It starts out in verses 6-8 ““Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some health in my body and nourishment in my bones. I don’t need to be clever or have it all figured out (wise in my own eyes), I “just” need to fear the Lord. 

     And just as I started to beat myself up over having to relearn this lesson for the billionth time, my eyes continued down the page to verses 11-20. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” Phew. It’s okay. He’s got this. And He’s much better at it than me. And things will be MUCH better off when I listen to His wisdom. 

      And thankfully He wrapped this gentle correction up with verse 24, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” No more tossing and turning while I replay all my mistakes in my head. No more crying myself to sleep over my disappointments and mistakes. Just sweet sleep! Oh how I need that. I *might* even be able to listen to more singing vegetables in the morning without losing my cool… 

Get Out the Door Faster


We’ve all been there, haven’t we? It’s time to go (or past time to go) and you’ve just spent the last 20 minutes running around getting diaper bags packed, your crew rounded up and ready to go, bathroom breaks done, and you’re just about to head out the door when…it happens. The Battle of the Shoes. The battle lines are typically drawn in either two ways. You bark at the toddler to “Get your shoes on, it’s time to go” and they either fall to floor with all the drama they can muster and feign helplessness demanding that you HAVE to put their shoes on for them, they can’t possibly manage on their own. OR they suddenly become Ms. Independant and demand that they “can do it myself!” but only manage to mess it up in more ways than you can even count, or tolerate. This can leave even the most seasoned among us frazzled, frantic, or feedup (or all of the above!)Here’s where it gets real ladies. I’ve been there and done that WAY too many times. But I’m excited to tell you THERE IS ANOTHER WAY! And what’s even better is this way feels like a game, it takes only seconds to do, AND even a toddler can manage to do it WITHOUT you having to drop the 50,000 things you are trying to drag out the door and help. Sound to good to be true? It’s not! It’s as simple as Rainbows and Butterflies. 


I know half of you are thinking I’ve totally lost my marbles at this point, or this is just another one of those Pinterest Perfect Posts that have no shred of reality in it. But I promise you it’s not. And this simple trick has been life changing. I’d like to take credit for it, but actually my 2 year old came up with it. That’s right. She came up with it all on her own, and honestly when she first said it I thought she was just trying to stall more and was annoyed we were going to be late. But what I witnessed next was so magical I couldn’t believe it. She simply grabbed her shoes and put them together before she put them on her feet and looked down and said “Look Momma! It’s a rainbow!”

You see, when shoes are put together correctly (left shoe on the left, right shoe on the right) the arch at the top of the shoes makes a rainbow. Like this: 

 

BUT when the shoes are matched up incorrectly (left on right and vice versa) the arch at the top of the shoes points out the other direction, kind of like the top of a butterfly’s wings. Like this: 


So now when it’s time to get shoes on I simply have to tell my toddler “It’s time to go, let’s make a rainbow!”. And POOF she runs to her shoes, lines them up, and puts them on! I STILL can’t believe it sometimes. And even on those days when she’s trying to be crazy and tries to put her shoes on the wrong feet she’ll stop and say “Oh! That’s a butterfly!” and switch them around on her own

Now of course, the other part of this equation is the fact that she has shoes she can put on by HERSELF. We started with Crocs and have now moved on to simple Velcro. You can find some great ones on Amazon and they’ll deliver them right to your door! These ones (Lined Crocs) are great because they are soft and warm enough to wear without socks. And when you’re ready to graduate to Velcro, you can’t get cuter than Hello Kitty 😉.

So what tricks do you use to get out the door faster? Or what battle drives you batty? Comment below! 

Getting REAL about Anger 

I remember awhile back a dear friend of mine and I were chatting. She had her second child about the same time as I had my first and her oldest was only a few years older, so she was a great “Mom” friend to have. While we were chatting she was sharing about how she struggled with Anger towards her kids. And while outwardly I mumbled something lame like “I’m sure that’s rough”, inwardly I was looking at my sweet bundle of newborn sweetness sleeping away in her stroller thinking ‘Wow! How could anyone ever get angry at their own kids? They’re just kids after all…’
Fast forward two years later and there I was with a two year old whirlwind who had lost most of her sweet newborn sweetness and I started to begin to understand how Anger could creep into a Momma’s heart. Fast forward another year and now I have a three year old (oh how she’s three!) and a one year old and I battle Anger it seems like everyday! 

God has used that conversation and my daily struggle to teach me a few things. First of all- keep your thoughts, judgements, and words soft and sweet, because you will probably have to eat them one day! How I wish I would have listened to my friend with a soft and understanding heart and been wise enough to learn from her struggles! Maybe then I could have put some practices in place to help me avoid this struggle. Or at the very least, I wouldn’t have a nagging voice in my head saying “How could you get angry at your own kids? They’re just kids after all…“. I guess my Mom was right when she said “Never say never!” Funny how Moms seem to get smarter the older we get, right?

Second of all, God’s Word is full of helpful advice and warnings about Anger. My go-to verse when I’m struggling is James 1:19-20 ““My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Now let me first say, I need this verse because it’s the exact OPPOSITE of how I typically respond. I’ve always been a fast talker. In fact, most of the time I start talking before I really think about what I’m going to say! Anybody else fall into that trap? So being slow to speak is exceptionally hard for me, especially when I’m upset. 

Slow to become angry“- This is a challenge and a comfort to me. It doesn’t say “don’t ever get angry”. Sometimes it’s okay to get angry. Even Jesus got angry. But as Ephesians 4:26 says “““In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”. We are not to let anger lead us into sin and we are not to let anger linger in our hearts. 

Which brings about the last part of the verse- “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires“. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? God desires righteousness. And I’m learning that there are some lessons that I just don’t learn the easy way. But God knew that about me, and I think that’s just one of the reasons He allowed me to become a Mom. Because there were parts of me that needed tuning and I wouldn’t have had to face them any other way. Like anger. And that’s something I need to remember, especially when I’m starting to get angry towards my kids. It’s not about doing things MY way, it’s about, or at least it *should* be about, God’s righteousness. And yelling at my kids probably isn’t going to lead them down the path of righteousness. And most likely will lead me to sin. 

So now for a little real life. I’ve found that I’m far more likely to become angry when I haven’t taken care of myself right first. When I’m tired, hungry, and cranky, anger just comes far to easily. But when I’ve been purposeful about getting rest and taking care of myself some too, I can at least realize that I’m starting to get angry and that I should slow my heart down. Remember, this is real life for real moms. I’m not going to give you “5 tips to get rid of anger forever” or even tell you that with just a little (or even a lot) more sleep and a few verses under your cap you and I can be perfect if only we try harder. Because that’s just not the point. We can’t fix ourselves and especially not by ourselves. We need Christ. We need His forgiveness, gentleness, patience, peace, kindness, and the self-control that only He can give. And sometimes a time-out, deep breath, or a quick walk around the block gives us a chance to remember that! 

Don’t just take my word for it; here are some other resources that I’ve found helpful in my journey: 

  • From Grouchy to Great: full of helpful devotionals about anger. I especially liked this one about the root of anger and 3 ways to control it: http://www.thebettermom.com/2014/01/09/root-of-anger/
  • The Fringe Hours– an awesome book about the importance of self-care and HOW to find time to do it. 
  • The Miracle Morning– a great guide to some powerful self-care practices. 

So what things have you done that help with anger? What do you do to slow your heart down? How do you take care of yourself? Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going! 

~Keeping it R.E.A.L. 

      Sara Odell