Day 1: how I found out I was having twins

February 3, 2010 / 4 weeks pregnant

I could barely sleep for excitement – knowing I would be taking a pregnancy test in the morning. And I found out that I am pregnant. I am with child. There’s a little BABY growing inside me. I’m in shock I think … disbelief … overjoyed. And yet not really entirely surprised. No, I take that back. I AM entirely surprised. Entirely. Absolutely.

But the excitement was soon replaced by fear when I started spotting unexpectedly. My mind immediately went to the saddest place: miscarriage. At age 30, I’d walked alongside many friends on this journey of heartbreaking loss. I knew it was a very real possibility. So when my OB-GYN asked me to come in sooner than the scheduled appointment to see what was going on, I assumed the worst. My husband, Seth, accompanied me.

February 17, 2010 / 6 weeks

my first glimpse of twins during my first ultrasound at 6 weeks

my first glimpse of twins during my first ultrasound at 6 weeks

We are expecting TWINS – What joy! What a surprise ~ what a miracle to hear two heartbeats yesterday! Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I can’t help but connect this to my secret hope and desire that I’d have twins. I’ve always wanted to have twins, and it really does feel like a dream come true! (I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of that when I’m in such intense discomfort and we’re getting no sleep …!)

Now that was an understatement. But I’m getting way, way ahead of myself. I’ll introduce this series by going ahead and answering one of the pressing questions you have if you don’t have twins, and the questions you’ve heard ad nauseam if you do:

So were they natural? (usually followed up with) Do twins run in your family

My favorite answer is from another twin mama who likes to say, “Yes. They’re natural. We had sex.” I chuckled and cheered inside when she told me, but I never quite had the guts to be so bold. In our case though, YES, they were “natural,” as in we were completely, utterly surprised to be expecting twins and had not been through any fertility treatments nor had we been trying for very long to have kids. But did you really want to know all that when you accosted me in the grocery store as I was trying to marathon it through without one or both babies waking? In my more gracious moments, I know you’re simply curious and intrigued. But it’s hard to be gracious when you know at.any.moment you could have a twin tantrum on your hands. (That will be a post later in this series.)

On to your next question – YES, twins run in my family. Both sides. My grandfather was a twin, and Seth’s great-grandmother was a twin. But what I learned through having twins is that twinning is only genetic if the twins are fraternal. Identical “just happens.” And twinning is only genetic through the maternal side of the family. So if I feel like being super-chatty with you in the checkout line, I might explain all that to you. And I may even tell you that my grandfather was an identical twin; and my husband’s twin history doesn’t count; so the *real* answer to your question is “no – twins don’t run in my family.” No other extended family member on either side has had twins in recent history.

I am quite thankful that (a) we found out so early into pregnancy because it takes me forever to process big news and this was the biggest news of my life and (b) Seth was with me at the appointment and that he was sitting down. It was only one of a handful of moments I’ve seen him being entirely surprised. (The first was when I told him that I was in fact interested in dating him. This was a month after I’d instructed him not to ask me out on a third date because I wasn’t interested nor were we emotionally connected. But that will be for another series.)

If you want to continue to follow along, subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page “Hidden Glory” to get updates. For the month of October, I’m participating in “Write31Days” and my series is “31 Days of Parenting Twins.” 

write 31 days: parenting twins

31 days of twin parentingLast year I joined the October writing challenge to write for the 31 days of the month. I chose Kate Motaung’s “Five Minute Writing” version since I love Five Minute Friday. Quite honestly, it was exhausting to try to write every day. I skipped a few. I amended a couple of the given topics. I concluded that it was too much for me and that I’m more of an occasional, write-as-I’m-inspired kind of blogger.

But then I met Lauren in the spring through our church, and IRL [in real life] friendship has also become writing/blogging camaraderie. Last week we were chatting about blogging, and she told me that she was joining in again this year and that she’s asked for a few guest posts to supplement her writing. I began thinking that maybe I could try it after all. It could be a good way to jumpstart myself back into regularly blogging, which I’ve neglected the past few months of finishing up my book manuscript. I also thought it would be more do-able if I started with a topic I’ve written a lot about personally but have not blogged a ton about – being a parent to 5-year-old fraternal twin daughters.

I hope you will join me as I do a sweeping view of the past five years of highs and lows twice amplified. I may even introduce a few of my fellow twin-mom-warriors to you along the way.

The best way to follow along for now would be to sign up as an email subscriber to my blog [see sidebar] or to like my Facebook page, “Hidden Glory.”

Happy Saturday!

Day 1: how I found out I was having twins

Day 2: twin pregnancy, first trimester: nausea, exhaustion, and PB&J

Day 3: exuberant joy becomes overwhelming shock

Day 4: it takes a village {to raise twins}

Day 5: it takes abundant grace {to raise twins}

Day 6: what to do about fear {when pregnancy with twins}

Day 7: bed rest at 25 weeks

Day 8: the twins arrive in our world

Day 9: a poem of welcome

Day 10: Hi, I’m a waitress to twins.

Day 11: the 6 best books on twins

Days 12 & 13: the best advice for twins, newborn stage

Days 14 & 15: the best advice for twins, toddler stage

Days 16 & 17: my favorite advice for twins, preschool stage

Days 18 & 19: the best advice for twins, elementary school stage and beyond

Day 20: when the reality of twins interrupts the best-laid plans

Day 21:

Day 22:

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27

Day 28

Day 29

Day 30

Day 31

Five Minute “Friday”: TEN (things a mom needs for summer survival)

Every week it’s fun to join in with the Five Minute Friday writing community – 5 minutes unedited on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Our rhythm is so off that I legitimately thought today was Friday until realizing that tomorrow is Sunday, making today Saturday. So another post-Friday FMF post, with a connection to summer.


TEN {things a mom needs for summer survival}

1. A plan – For me, it’s notes jotted into a small journal with a rough outline for each week, including things like which movies are playing for $1 and which crafts I might attempt.

2. Ice cream. Enough said, right? We’ve tried to even make a homemade version.

3. A summer bucket list. See photo. It’s a reminder of the fun things we want to fit into this space. IMG_8875

4. Regular trips to the pool. We’re members of the Y. Everyone gets sunshine and exercise and a change of pace.

5. Play dates – they need time to see their friends, too, as they’re missing the school-year routine.

6. Ladies’ nights out – Such a proponent of this, but especially for summers when it can feel more isolating than usual.

7. Mom-cation – See above. Last week, I took a 48-hour solo trip to Philadelphia and NYC to see U2 live in concert at Madison Square Garden. Incredible show. Absolutely worth it.

8. Good books

9. Soul-food – And by this, I don’t just mean watermelon and baked beans. I mean food for your soul. A friend and I are studying Isaiah with this excellent study by Kathleen Nielson.

10. A countdown calendar – As a way of remembering that yes, these days and weeks will pass, and it will be helter-skelter fall again and then winter when you’ll miss the warmth and unscheduled days.

4 Challenges to Parenting in an Individualist Culture

Parenting has never been easy. And as Christians, parenting can be especially difficult in our current, contemporary society. Here are 4 challenges I think most Christian parents face when it comes to raising their kids in a secular culture.

1. Motherhood requires giving up “my life” as defined by our culture.

Part of my journey as a mom these past five years has been fighting against my own entitlement as I lay down every single part of my life for my children. It’s made harder because I’m surrounded by a society that says that individual happiness is everything. We are bombarded with messages from billboards and Oprah’s book list about secrets to happiness and self-fulfillment. I have an appetite for self-fulfillment, and these messages promise to fulfill my craving. How can I get by with minimal sacrifice as a parent? [read the rest of the article over here, where I’m featured on]

a mother’s prayer on Ash Wednesday

ash wednesdayFather God,

It is not even noon yet, and I am aware of how much I need the grace of repentance that Lent invites me into on today’s Ash Wednesday. I have lost my patience with the children you have entrusted me with – the souls I am to be nurturing into faith and repentance. What a high calling! And an impossible one.

Could it be that my greatest Lenten fast will start with admitting I have no strength to parent?

Could it be that the deepest Lenten repentance will happen as I lead my children into it by example (and necessity)?

Could it be that engaging in mercy and justice for me, in this season of parenting littles, will mean that I show mercy first to these two who are entirely dependent upon me for all of their needs?

Could it be that promoting justice begins with repentance of the entitlement I feel about the sacrifices I make on their behalf?

I turn away from such a prayer, but you invariably call me back. You show me a love that has loved me in my low estate, and a love that fights on my behalf for justice, and a love that grows to match (and overcome) the strength of my rebellious will. Lord Jesus, teach me to love this Lenten season. Lord Jesus, teach me how you have first loved me (and how you always FIRST love me … this love is what shapes and propels my love for my children).

In the name of the Father of all compassion and the God of all mercy, I beg you for Lenten grace this Ash Wednesday.


from contentment and celebration to complaining and despair

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photo from

Isn’t it always like this? Our grandest moments of life, faith, work, are closely followed by our biggest days of struggle. I think about Jonah after he experienced an epic personal rescue from the belly of a big fish, and watched God convert an entire city (Nineveh) through his preaching. The book ends with a story of the prophet’s suicidal despair because a worm ate a vine that was sheltering him from heat. It’s ridiculous. Crazy, really. And then there’s Elijah. After he watches God send fire from heaven to consume a flood-drenched sacrifice on Mount Carmel in front of a crowd of frenzied Baal-worshipers, he sits under a broom tree in the desert to die. His exact words?

“It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4)

What happened to his bold faith glimpsed just two paragraphs earlier in this prayer?

“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)

What happened is that Elijah and Jonah, like you and me, are human. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it/Prone to leave the God I love,” the old familiar hymn goes (“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”). I should not be surprised that on the heels of such celebration at the end of last week with the news of Crossway’s acceptance of my book proposal, this week has felt like a battle against petty disappointment and despair. The things I have complained (bitterly) about include:

  • Our coffeemaker that broke on Monday morning [MONDAY morning, of all days?!!]
  • Twins who whine and squabble with each other over silly things, like who gets the red marker [typical for 4-year-olds, although not desirable]
  • Antibiotics that didn’t work as quickly as I wanted them to in healing a bad case of strep from last Thursday
  • A husband’s very long work day, leaving me with more-than-desired solo-parenting duties for my quickly-waning-parental-patience
  • Credit card fraud – at a random WalMart in Tennessee, of all places, for 5 consecutive purchases of $28.77. This alerted our awesome card company, who called right away. But then you have the *hassle* of switching automatic payments, waiting for the new card in the mail/etc etc

All of these could fall under the hashtag #firstworldproblems , or better, #whinymomproblems. Really they’re symptomatic of a heart fixated on self, who feels entitled to comfort and ease all the time. Diagnosing my problems yesterday didn’t really help much. In fact, it probably made it worse. Then I was better able to articulate (and unload in frustration) to my husband why he, somehow, was at fault for all of my frustration.

Ugh. (There’s a poetic word for you.) I have been blind to grace. Blinded to mercy all around me, and worse still, unable to help myself. Feeling paralyzed from taking hold in my own heart of the gospel-hope I can articulate for others through writing and counseling. Enter grace in the form of the impulse to text a friend for prayer this morning when I awoke still seething with frustration and venting it unfairly to my daughters. She then called after we dropped our kids off at preschool (thank God for this common grace!), and we talked each other through our similar frustrating moments, reminding each other of the grace we know is there. I hung up the phone feeling the slightest turn in my heart towards hope again. Hope not that things will get better, or that circumstances will change, but hope that God’s love hasn’t turned away from me in the midst of my sin and struggle and that his grace is yet deeper than my need for it. Amen?

Five Minute “Friday”: share

It’s been a good week. Dare I say, even one of the *best* weeks of my life because of thrilling news: Crossway accepted my book proposal! I have been dreaming of writing a book since I was a girl who loved to get lost in the worlds (and words) of Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Nancy Drew. It’s been a dream I have been afraid of naming, much less pursuing, until the last few years as my writing/blogging grew and so did my courage. But in June at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, God opened doors that led to a contact with one of Crossway’s acquisitions editors. He patiently walked me through the process of creating a book proposal over the last 5 months, and then he delivered the happy news of its acceptance on Thursday afternoon! Now my real work begins of *writing* the book … but I’ve never been more ready in my life. And you, dear readers, are a large part of my growing courage to venture so greatly. So thank you for your support, and for reading, and for your comments, and for your cheerleading all along the way. I am excited to have *you* on this journey with me!

Ok – now on to Five Minute Friday and today’s word: “share.”



She offers her homemade gift with eager hands and a shy smile. It’s a picture of me with her and her twin sister – “to help you feel better, Mommy!” [I’ve been sick in bed with strep since Thursday.] It is easy for her to share this – but ask her to share her favorite toy with her twin? How dare I suggest such a thing!

And isn’t that how it is for me, too? I am eager to share on my terms, in my way, with what I’m willing to give. When God asks me to share past the point of comfortable, well, now, I am not sure I am so excited about this whole concept. I can think of many reasons to hoard my resources. I feel entitled to “my” rights and “my” time and “my” things. But God is patient. He gently unfurls my clenched fist, reminds me that all that I have is a gift from him. He assures me that I can never out-give his ability to provide for me, his ability to generously restore any “loss” on my part. Even if it’s not a material restoration – it will be better. Treasures in heaven. And the joy that comes with giving beyond what duty requires.


Five Minute Friday is an online writing community who writes for five minutes on a given topic every Friday – unedited, simply for the joy of writing. Hosted by Kate Motaung here.


A Father’s Reflections on Discipline (guest post from my brother, Dr. Jonathan Davis)

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image from

Featuring guest posts on my blog this year is a wonderful way for me to take some time off AND to feature a couple writers that I think you would enjoy. The first one by my daughter Lucia on Christmas Eve was a big hit. This second one is authored by one of my two younger brothers, Jonathan. In family gatherings this week, I was reminded again of how much I love both of my brothers and their wives for their laughter, deep faith, and genuine love for others. Jonathan’s heartfelt words on parenting are so needed at this time of year as my kids crash after being over-sugared and over-gifted at Christmas. I saw he and his wife live these words in many small moments with their three children (now ages 5, 3, and 1) over the past few days of celebrating Christmas together. Without further ado, I introduce to you my brother Dr. Jonathan Davis, who recently finished medical school and now is in practice at a medical clinic for the underserved using his training in MED/PEDs (internal medicine/pediatrics)

 A father’s reflections on discipline (originally written early spring 2014)

In spending much more of my time this past month in our home, I have had the amazing privilege of being more involved with our children. Living at a slower pace of life, I have greatly enjoyed being able to spend more time reflecting on my relationship with my God, my children, and my wife. Since my wife and I are currently in what we like to call a fairly “discipline heavy” stage of our parenting careers (3 kids under the age of 4), much of my reflection has involved the topic of discipline. Here are a few of my thoughts.

on the benefits of consistent discipline:

I see how it is often such a delight to play with my 4-year-old now and how our relationship can be so open, honest, respectful, loving, and deep. And much of this, I think, is possible precisely because we disciplined him diligently as a younger child, and he now enjoys the benefits of having a fundamental respect for authority in his life—namely his parents. I have worried that discipline may result in children that are tense, anxious, lacking in confidence, or simply don’t want to be around me. Yet what I am coming to realize is that precisely the opposite is true. Of course, I am not speaking of discipline done in an abusive way; however, when done in a controlled, consistent fashion by parents who love their children, discipline opens the door wide for the deepest joys of a parent-child relationship later in life. Effective discipline helps clear away the disrespect, anger, and rebellion that are the biggest barriers to a healthy relationship between parents and their children. So take heart! Yes, it is hard to consistently (and repeatedly) discipline my two-year-old, but how powerfully will this loving discipline help to guide him into the path of God’s blessing in his life! This is what I want for my children—I am happy to take on my often difficult, but God-given responsibility to discipline my children because I know this is God’s way, and leads to His blessing.

on authority:

I teach my children to live under authority not because I am power-hungry and must have obedient ‘subjects’, but because I know that as the adults they are becoming, they will always have to live under authority—ultimately I pray under God’s authority, but certainly under the authority of a boss, policeman, or simply laws of the land in which they live.

on reactionary parenting v. downstream parenting:

In reading Raising Resilient Children and another book I’ve recently been studying entitled The Effective Father, I have been thinking on this idea of “reactionary parenting” vs. “downstream parenting.” Reactionary parenting, which all of us as parents are most tempted to do, involves responding or “reacting” in the moment only. For example, my four-year-old often cries in frustration when he works on Legos by himself, and I typically rush in to help him so that he feels better. This is reactionary. I hear his cry, see the situation, and provide the remedy—helping my son myself. Certainly this approach has its merits, but I would argue I am missing significant parenting opportunities if I approach parenting situations in this way only. Consider the “downstream parenting approach:” I hear my son crying again while playing with a new Lego set. I don’t ignore him, but rather than immediately intervening I squat down beside him and say something like this, “Son, I know this is hard for you isn’t it? Most of these Lego sets have gone together pretty quickly for you, but this one is pretty tough. You know, I often face things that are hard for me to do, too. I think that often the best way to learn is to calm down, relax and stick with it for a while. So I’m going to leave you alone again for a bit and let you try this. I’ll set the timer for 10 minutes and then come back and check on you. If you’re still having trouble and would like some help, I’d be glad to jump in there with you.”

In the first approach (reactionary), I am providing loving support and help for my son. He feels loved by me, possibly trusts me more. But I have neglected to teach him any skills for handling this or similar problems in the future--or ultimately when I am not around. In the second approach (downstream), however, I would be pushing my son to develop patience, endurance, or “resilience” (and I don’t think he would feel any less love or support). It is probably easier and quicker to fix the Legos myself, but my son will be better able to face the next bigger challenge next week, next year, or in 10 years if I consistently parent in this way, looking “downstream” for the challenges that I know he will face in the coming years.

on the time commitment required to effectively parent:

I have also begun to realize how much time effective parenting requires. In the examples above for instance, “downstream parenting” probably takes more time and effort, yet those efforts are more apt to “pay off” in the long run. If I am busily scurrying through my day that is filled with work, school, after-school activities, T.V. shows, etc., then I will not have time for consistent, in-depth parenting encounters with my children. It is worth it to simplify and free up “margins” in my life for my children. I will reap the harvest in years to come.

on my own legacy as a parent:

As I think about my parenting and discipline for my children I wonder what legacy, what lasting impressions I will leave in their minds. Will they remember me as a moralist, a strict and authoritative disciplinarian? Or will they ultimately come away with a deep sense of how much I loved them? Even as I pose these questions to myself, I realize that I am setting up a dichotomy that I’m not sure exists. Is authoritative parenting and frequent discipline incompatible with love? I actually think these do not have to be incompatible. If I am authoritative in my parenting style and committed to regular, consistent discipline of my children when needed (even if one or more children has a temperament that results in frequent discipline), the matter of utmost importance remains the manner in which I carry out that discipline. If my discipline were harsh, mechanical, or angry, then concern for the ill-effects of its frequent application would seem justified. Or likewise, if I disciplined out of irritation or annoyance with problem behavior the same would be true. But what if I see discipline as “rescue” and “restoration”? What if my discipline is thoughtful, filled with calm, purposeful discussion, and physical displays which affirm my love and affection? In this case, I would argue that the child who receives more of this kind of parental interaction would indeed know my love more deeply.

I see this reflected in my own relationship with God. As I go through trying circumstances when I know his hand of discipline is heavy upon me, I feel pain and discomfort in the moment, yet nothing can compare with the simultaneous displays of his intimate love and provision of strength for me. I reach the end of such “disciplining” times from His hand and find my walk with Him much deeper and my love more fervent. If God, as my loving heavenly Father, deals in this way with me, should I not strive to emulate His ways as I love and parent my own children?


EDITORIAL NOTE by Heather: Discipline is a loaded topic, and what Jonathan calls “discipline” here is not referring to nor condoning any type of so-called “discipline” done in a heavy-handed way at the expense of children. It excludes any such action which misuses a parent’s position of authority/power for the ill of the child. This is nothing less than child abuse, defined as: “when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, and emotional abuse.” If you wonder whether you’re being abusive in your “discipline,” stop immediately and seek professional help. See this website for more information and for further resources:

white space, children’s edition

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photo from

I have a difficult time with white space – those pauses between activities and stress to simply “be” – and this spills over to the way I parent, too. One of my twins constantly asks me for a plan for the day, and usually for the next day, too. “So what are we doing after that?” she will continue to ask even when I don’t give her an answer. It annoys me, if I’m honest, but I’ve also created the conditions that cause her to expect constant activity. I am a mom who enjoys taking my girls with me to fun places and to do enjoyable activities. They absolutely loved our trip to New York City last December at Christmastime. They often seem to be happiest when we’re out – whether it’s flipping through their favorite “Frozen” books at Barnes & Noble, or selecting a new round of library books, or the rare treat of getting donuts or frozen yogurt together, or going to a friend’s house for a playdate.

But in all things, moderation. There is a dark side to my overplanning of our lives, and it looks like stressed out kids who forget how to play by themselves creatively on a rainy afternoon. Or it might be the constant need to have to have something to do (and so they do not enjoy the moment, nor do I).

Enter the current book I’m reading, Simplicity Parenting, on loan from my dear friend and fellow blogger Mary and recommended by her, Maria, and BFF Katherine. It is a powerful corrective to our culture of “too much, too early, and too fast” as author Kim John Payne, M.Ed., terms the overscheduling of childhood. I love, love, love the way he describes the essence of this chapter:

“Activity without downtime is ultimately – like a plant without roots – unsustainable.”

Consider a few suggestions Payne presents of how to make “fallow” time for your child within your family’s daily and weekly rhythm:

  1. It begins with awareness: “We’ve worshiped at the altar of scheduled activities so dutifully that some parents only think of play in terms of playdates. … If we begin to recognize the value of leisure time and creative time, we’ll make space for them.”
  2. View boredom as a gift, and refuse to fill the space for them with parent-directed entertainment. Payne suggests to “outbore their boredom with a single, flat response: ‘Something to do is right around the corner!'”
  3. Build in a balance of days. If there is a highly active, stimulating day (like their school Christmas program or a birthday party), balance this with a few calm stay-at-home days to allow them to regain their equilibrium.
  4. Practice Sabbath. This harkens back to the way God created a rhythm for humanity of six days of work, one day of rest. Payne (who is not writing from a Christian framework) acknowledges the value of Sabbath, defining it as “distraction-free zones.” Perhaps it is a day when you decide you cannot be reached on your mobile device, and you won’t check email. Maybe it is a Saturday afternoon or evening devoted exclusively to an all-family activity – like making pizza together, going for a hike or a walk in the park, building a Lego village in the play room. “If life is a run-on sentence, then these ‘moments of Sabbath’ are the pauses, the punctuation.”
  5. Limit organized sports for young kids. “When I speak of the problems with early sport, I’m referring to children younger than ten or eleven years old who are playing formal team sports more than twice a week….When kids younger than ten or eleven become occupied with organized sports, especially to the exclusion of time for free, unstructured play, that involvement can cut crudely across their progression through a variety of play stages that are vitally important to their development.” This is hard, isn’t it? We achievement-oriented parents want our children to likewise be achieving, successful sports and dance stars. It seems like waiting and wading in slowly are key to allow their natural interest to develop at its own pace, and to provide space for much of the “normal” play in life.

What will be the result of more “white space” for our children? They will learn to appreciate the ordinary days (and life exists in the ordinary much more so than the extraordinary). Free(er) schedules foster an ability for them to reach “deep play,” in which their natural imagination and creativity can thrive. We may even uproot potential “seeds for addiction.”

“So much activity can create a reliance on outer stimulation, a culture of compulsion and instant gratification. What also grows in such a culture? Addictive behaviors….[Overscheduling] can establish a reliance, a favoring of external stimulation over emotional or inner activity.”

Most interestingly in Payne’s book, he discusses how a more simple schedule can deepen the gift of anticipation for our children. (What an appropriate time to focus on this as every kid counts down to Christmas!) I close with his words on the value of anticipation, words that echo timeless truth of Scripture on the value of waiting (Advent means waiting):

“Anticipating gratification, rather than expecting or demanding it, strengthens a child’s will. Impulsivity, wanting everything now, leaves the will weak, flaccid. As a child lives with anticipation, as it strengthens over time, so too does their sense of themselves…Unchecked, our wills are like weeds, threatening to take over our whole spirits; invasive vines of desire for what we want (everything) when we want it (now). Anticipation holds back the will; it counters instant gratification. It informs a child’s development and growth and builds their inner life.”

So what are you waiting for? Time to go create some white space with your children and for your children, so that you and they will thrive.

the rescue of an angry mom

Two years ago I wrote a three-part series entitled, “Confessions of an angry mom.” [you can read those here: part 1, 2, and 3] Last week, at the invitation of a good friend from Philly days, I spoke about my struggle with anger to a group of moms in Hershey, PA. And as I prepared for this discussion, I realized that in the ensuing two years, what I am proclaiming now is God’s rescue of an angry mom. It’s a rescue that’s still very much in process, but there is a hope and confidence in my Rescuer now because of the intervening time between first identifying the struggle and watching God rescue me again and again and again. And so I am writing again about being an angry mom – this time through the lens of a backward glance of mercy and grace that’s rescued me from myself, and a more confident hope that HE who began a good work in me will carry it to completion (Philippians 1).

***** [excerpts from my talk – thanks to all of the women who were incredibly engaging and kind listeners who let me know that I am not alone in this struggle!] *****

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photo from

It’s been a long journey for me in my struggle with anger as a mom, and to be honest, I’m still on it. My willful toddlers have become energetic 4-year-old preschoolers. They do not run in opposite directions in Target (usually) and the tantrums have dramatically decreased. And it’s not because I’ve discovered a secret parenting secret. So much of it is developmental on their part. AND YET I will give credit to God for rescuing me from being an angry mom. If anything I share with you will speak into your heart and tell you that there is hope, that you don’t have to be stuck in an endless anger cycle, then my prayers for this morning are answered. I am going to share what’s helped me, and it’s been multifaceted. Your own “anger plan” will be as individual as you are.

(1) What I hope to do is first of all, to let you know that you are not alone! Anger as a mom is so shaming that it keeps us silent, especially in Christian circles. But every time I’ve brought up my struggles with anger, there is always another woman in the room/group/retreat who says, “me too!” We need to walk into the light and be honest with God and one another about our struggles. So I hope that you will reach out and talk to someone about your struggle with anger, whether it’s big or small or somewhere in between.

(2) And secondly, I hope that you will be able to understand what your anger is saying – about you, your life, your heart, your kids, your parenting. Anger has many messages.

(3) Finally, I want you to leave with hope that God loves you in the middle of your anger and that as a Christian, God is even now working to free you from your destructive anger.

 Understanding what your anger is saying

I noticed the many ways that anger can manifest itself – not only the loud yelling or outbursts, but also criticism, sarcasm, a lingering bitterness or resentment. The object of my anger was not always the one(s) I was acting angry towards. Sometimes I was angry at myself for getting angry; other times I was feeling resentful towards my husband and directing it towards my kids; and yet other times I was upset with my kids but taking it out in an angry resentment towards my husband. Ultimately, I was angry with a God I viewed as controlling yet distant. Far from caring, compassionate, and intimately involved in my day-to-day battles as a mom to twins. 

Some of the messages of my anger were:

  • “I don’t deserve this. I deserve better treatment, more respect, kids who listen to me, etc.”
  • “I feel so emotionally overwhelmed that I don’t know what else to do.”
  • “I need a break.”
  • “You’re getting in the way of what I want.”
  • “You are not meeting my expectations.”
  • “I feel helpless to gain control of you.”
  • “I must have control.”
  • “Life should be perfect. You should behave perfectly.”
  • “CALM ME DOWN!” This last one I am indebted to Hal Runkel’s book, ScreamFree Parenting for, in which he discusses the need to take responsibility for my reactions toward my kids. Saying “you make me angry” just isn’t true. I get angry when others get in the way of what I want/think I deserve/expect in the moment.
  • “You’re wrong, and I’m going to make you pay.”
  • “God has left the building/house/Target store.” [and it’s up to me to provide for myself what I need.]

I have unmet expectations, desires that have become demands, and I need to reexamine those desires as well as readjust my expectations. Maybe I’m expecting more of my child than is developmentally appropriate. Maybe I have turned a good desire into a controlling (idolatrous) demand.

Your anger is ALWAYS saying that something is going on inside you. You need to stop, pause, take a deep breath, and take time to reflect. Your anger should get your attention – it’s like a warning light on the dashboard of your car indicating something is amiss inside.

The message of your anger that you’re reflecting to those around you (husband, kids, friends, parents, in-laws) is always a picture of the message you’re giving God. Every emotion is ultimately directed towards God.

What will rescue you from anger

Rescue from your anger as a mom comes as you realize:

  • you need to be rescued (you can’t manage your way out of this)
  • God is powerful enough to rescue you and loving enough to rescue you
  • You are loved right now, right here, in the very middle of your ugliest mom moment that you would never share with anyone. God knows you intimately (Psalm 139) and loves you completely.

Rest here. You are loved. You – YOU – are loved. God knows you. He compassionately stands with me, not as a judge from afar. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, there is no judgment left for you in Christ. Only love. God is with you. Always. His resurrection power is at work to give you what you need to endure with patience.

Colossians 1:11-12 –

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Cry out for rescue. Expect rescue. Celebrate past deliverance. This is the example of the Psalms.

Pray and then call someone. A trusted friend/etc. You can’t do this alone.

Accept your limitations, physically and emotionally. You may need medication for a season, or counseling, or preschool, or a weekly babysitter or housecleaner, etc. There is no shame in your limits, but relief can come as you live within them.

Make a plan for how to remember and live out of the reality of your rescue from being an angry mom. Your freedom/rescue plan. Because you are already rescued forever, how can you live free?

Galatians 5:1 –

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom from …

  • Guilt and shame
  • Isolation
  • Judgment and condemnation
  • Hiding your struggles
  • Trying harder
  • Being controlled by your children
  • Drudgery and duty
  • Following a certain parenting method
  • Depression

Freedom to …

  • Live forgiven and ask for forgiveness
  • Engage in community
  • Receive and show grace
  • Be honest and vulnerable
  • Stop trying
  • Be the parental authority
  • Enjoy your children as the gift they are
  • Be the expert on your child
  • Walk out of depression

Practical suggestions for making your freedom plan

1. Cry out for rescue. Expect rescue. Celebrate past deliverance. This is the example of the Psalms.

2. Pray and then call someone. A trusted friend, small group leader, mentor, pastor, or counselor (or all of the above! I’ve certainly done that.) You can’t do this alone.

3. Accept your limitations, physically and emotionally. You may need medication for a season, or counseling, or preschool, or a weekly babysitter or housecleaner, etc. There is no shame in your limits, and relief can come as you live within them.

4. Make a plan for how to remember and live out of the reality of your rescue from being an angry mom. Your freedom/rescue plan. Because you are already rescued forever, how can you live free?

Further resources


Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst
She’s Gonna Blow!: Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger by Julie Barnhill
Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch
“How Do I Stop Losing It With My Kids?” by William P. Smith (CCEF, New Growth Press, 2008)
ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel
“The Healing of Anger” audio sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, October 17, 2004)

child development
Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel
How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah Klein
Ilg & Ames child development series
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

realistic motherhood memoirs
What It Is Is Beautiful by Sarah Dunning Parker – a poetry book on being a mom of young kids
Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker
Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle
Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton