One of my biggest fears in the whole “pack up your entire life and travel in a camper” thing was rather or not we would like each other in the end. Prior to embarking on this journey, friends would ask how could they pray for our upcoming adventure. I would always reply with asking them to pray that we would like one another in the end. It was my fear.
Like not love
In the end… I know we will love one another. We will love each other, always. Nothing will take our love away from one another. We love because Christ has taught us how to love in His Word.
1 John 4:19: We love because He first loved us.
Christ is the center of our lives and hearts and we love because Christ first loved us!
My husband and I actually have a little inside joke… If we aren’t getting along or seem to be in the middle of a little dispute (which are all usually my fault ;))… He will say to me, “do you love me?” And I always reply, “I married you didn’t I?” That little conversation between the two of us usually "breaks the ice" and makes both of us chuckle and more times than not, changes our mood. Reason being, he knows I love him because I chose to marry him… I just might not like him in that particular moment… But will always love him.
Like not love
On this traveling journey, love is a given. I know my people and I will love one another in the end. But will we like each other?
Imagine 6 people with diverse personalities, various quirks, and a myriad of mood swings, living together in one tiny, 29 foot camper of space. Not only living in a tiny space, but it is the dead of winter where we are, so on more days than not, it is unbearable to even go outside.
As previously stated, my biggest fear in embarking upon this journey was that we would all get on each other’s nerves so much that we just didn’t like each other in the end. I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want to spend my entire time on this adventure yelling at my children. I inherited yelling, so it comes easy for me and is natural. I constantly have to fight for this natural instinct not to obtain victory when in the middle of disciplining my children. Believe me, when you are living in a tiny space, are not able to reside momentarily in another part of the house or send your children to their rooms, it is slightly difficult to never get on one another’s nerves. You hear every single dispute, you are around one another all of the time… Hear me on that, All. Of. The.Time.
We don’t have our own space, therefore it is quite easy to be filled with even a tad bit of anxiety while mothering, throughout the majority of the day.
However, in the end… there will be love. Much love. And prayerfully, lots of giggling and laughter too!
Husband and I have tried a zillion different forms of discipline in our 9 years of parenting. When our oldest was a toddler, we attended a parenting class at our church. The speaker mentioned the idea of a “spanking spoon.” We took the speaker’s words as gold… We were new parents and clueless… So we got a little wooden spoon, with the mindset of it being used as a form of discipline for our son. Well… The spanking spoon broke (NOT on our son, I promise)… So we decided that since the spanking spoon broke, perhaps we should break that form of discipline and try something new.
We have tried everything from the spanking spoon… time out… taking away certain things that they love to play with (which are their Kindles these days)… Having them miss certain major events… Pausing and praying in the middle of the dispute… To just plain standing there and screaming because we knew nothing better to do.
I have read numerous books, read tons of scripture and have spent many an hour on my knees in prayer to the Lord seeking out what would be the best form of discipline for my children. Through all of that, I have learned several things…
1. Each kid was created uniquely different and each require different forms of discipline. (Psalm 139).
2. When disciplining, you HAVE to be consistent.
3. You MUST follow through with what you say you are going to do.
4. You have to constantly be ready to change your form of discipline. Like I mentioned earlier, we have tried numerous forms of discipline throughout our years of parenting. Time out may work for a while… And use it while it works… But when you realize it is no longer working… It is time to move on to something else.
All of that brings me to this…
It is tempting to yell more than usual at my little people because we are living in a tiny space together… And there are days when quite frankly, I just want to “pull my hair out”… But this opportunity has also caused me to pray more, cry out to God on their behalf more and love more. Because in the end… We will not only love each other… But we will like one another too!
Just this past week, I was at my wits end with the bickering and arguing…
I know, I know… You never see those type of pics on social media. We don’t post them, do we? We post the pretty not the messy. (Insert your own head nod here)
My kids argue and back talk just like every other kid. And this particular day it was ugly. I mean, real ugly and messy.
And in a moment of weakness…
I began to cry.
Cry out to God on their behalf…
I don’t want them to be “like every other kid”…
I want them to be like Jesus.
I want them to love well.
I want them to love one another unconditionally and most importantly I want them to love Jesus. And in loving Jesus… they will love one another… well.
And I cried out to God on my behalf… I didn’t want to have an attitude of anger towards them… in the middle of their attitude, arguing and back talking, I began acting like a two year old in my own words and actions back towards them… And it was ugly. By living in this tiny space, we could easily become a family who loves but doesn’t like. There comes a time when something has to change and something has to give. In speaking with my husband over this, he suggested to have them write scripture when they act in ways that are not honoring to the Lord. And in my cry out to the Lord, I felt that is exactly what the Lord was prompting me to do as well. The best way to act like Jesus is to model Him… And the best way to model Him is to be filled with His Word. So…
That day… In the middle of the messy… In the middle of my cries… I sat and asked the Lord for a scripture. One that we could use as a family to help our actions model Him. One that would teach us to love, obey and live our lives as examples of Christ.
He gave me Psalm 119:10.
I got a little art therapy myself as I artistically wrote out our scripture. Art saves me co-pays on lots of psychiatry bills!
We had an hour long bible study lesson during our school time on Psalm 119:10 that very day.
Claiming His Word and writing it out when we act disobedient has been life changing for our family. This week has proved itself to be better by far. Any time the kids act out, I calmly tell them to get out our family notebook and write our verse… And they have been given the freedom to tell daddy and I to write the verse if we start to discipline from a heart of anger. As comical as it is… At this very moment… While I type this post… The kids are playing so beautifully. We didn’t bring lots of toys and art supplies…
So the kids have had to be creative in their play… So currently at Casa de Paul the children are having a darling little birthday party for all of their stuffed animals. They brought pretend gifts, decorated and everything! So adorable!
I love that living “creatively” like our family is currently doing has called for us to discipline “creatively.” Like is a choice. And we will
Not only choose to like… But to love… And love well!
Now if you would excuse me… I have a stuffed animal birthday party to attend!