In 2004, a tornado hit our house and nearly knocked it down.
Okay, not a literal tornado with swirling, wind-fueled debris brought on by adverse weather conditions. Rather, it was one of my own wind-fueled words brought on by the dangerous combination of too little sleep and too much frustration.
And maybe too much caffeine.
When I cup my hands onto the windows of our families’ life at that time, I see more specific things fueling my storm, things such as:
The stress of caring for three little ones largely by myself while my husband worked crazy long hours.
Loneliness because I had not yet been able to make friends in our new place of residence. (This was during the “desperate woman seeks friends” era.)
And the clincher: a strong inability to be thankful.
And so the storm within me simmered and brewed until that fateful Sunday afternoon when a surprise rainstorm blew through town and doused our plans to visit an outdoor festival. My husband, always having more work to do than time to get it done, announced he would use some of our extra time at home to wrap up a project. And that’s when my disappointment at not getting to enjoy family time outside and my frustration over facing another afternoon like all the others rotated tighter and tighter ’til I threw a fit of epic proportions.
With arms waving and face steaming, I yelled:
“That’s it! I hate this ridiculous house in this ridiculous state where it rains and snows way too often and for way too long! Was it *really* asking too much to spend one day outside as a family?! I’m tired of having to do ev-er-y-thing around here and getting next to no help and I’m only one person and what. am. I. supposed. to. do?”
Cue the screeching-to-a-halt sound effect and four pairs of wide eyes staring at the tall girl who had obviously lost her everlovin’ mind.
The stare off only ended when baby Faith began crying.
I followed her move and burst into tears as I ran to the shelter of the bathroom.
For the record, my husband is a fantastic co-parent who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and delve into the daily job of dad. My fit came as a result of something needing changing in me. All too often I let my feelings be the boss of me, and the result was a hardening heart that slung careless words throughout the walls of my house…and into the hearts of my people.
The weight of this realization fell on me, and as I slumped down the bathroom door, the words from Matthew 25:23 came as I exhaled:
“You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”
However, the Lord used it to ask me a question:
“Kristen, if you will not be thankful for a few things, why should I give you many things?”
His words got my attention.
And His words gave me the encouragement (and incentive) I needed to begin rebuilding my heart brick by brick, gratitude by gratitude.
And therefore rebuild my home brick by brick, gratitude by gratitude.
With a refreshed resolve to begin remodeling my house this way, I quickly saw how thanksgiving words become helpful words not only for me but for my family.
The truth is God rains down blessings on us in abundance, and He showers us with showy grace. Taking the time to acknowledge that grace for what is rather than grumbling for what isn’t built a whole new family dynamic.
And more than that, it remodeled the heartbeat of the home.
“Remodeling a home often begins with just one who is willing to pray, believe God, persevere, and be personally remodeled. Just allow God to rebuild you. . . Thankfully health can be as contagious as sickness.”
~ Beth Moore, Feathers From My Nest
Gratitude breeds encouragement. Encouragement breeds a contented heart and soul. When the people inside a home are content – regardless of circumstances – the cracked, crumbling walls of the home turn into complete, commemorating walls, a protected shelter for all living inside.
I wish I could say I have never thrown a fit again, but that wouldn’t be even a little true. However, the fits come fewer and farther between, and I call that progress.
What is present around you? Pick it up, hold it in your hands, and tell God thank you for it.
And just see how little time it takes for you to have a remodeled heart . . .
which is the fastest route toward a remodeled home.
What I’d love to know from you: How has gratitude positively affected your mood? What are other ways you’ve learned to ward off an ugly fit?
Kristen Strong, writer at Chasing Blue SkiesLeave a Comment
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I’ve thrown a few, okay several, tornado sized fits in my day. Through it, God has taught me to, as you alluded to, “practice with the small stuff”. If I can be thankful for the small blessings, it increases my ability to be thankful for the big blessings. God wants to know that He can trust us with the small as well as the big stuff. I love your analogy of rebuilding our home brick by brick, blessing by blessing. Also as wives and mothers, we need to take good care of ourselves (it’s not being selfish). A rested body and mind are less prone to tornado sized fits…thanks so much for a wonderful post!
Love you much friend,
Kristen Strong says
Totally agree, Bev. It’s never selfish to practice self care– it also goes a long way to ward off the ugly moods. Shortly after this time, I hired the high school daughter of some family acquaintances of ours to babysit for me once every week or every other week. During that time, I had no agenda but to do things like browse Barnes & Noble and find a book or magazine to read. It–along with a better attitude of gratitude–made me a much better wife and mama!
Debbie Carey says
I am attempting to remodel my workplace and replace negativity with better morale. Great reminder that the biggest change may need to begin with me. Lots of praying and seeking to do – allow Him to be the difference.
Kristen Strong says
Cheering you on (and praying for you too!) as you accomplish this, Debbie!
What a lovely reminder, Kristen! I am thankful for your transparency. Thank you for sharing your heart and reminding me of something I needed to hear.
Kristen Strong says
Endlessly thankful for you, Mary. Love you!
I cannot begin to tell you how much I needed to read/hear this message today…
Kristen Strong says
I still need it, Suzanne. Thank *you*.
Jeanne Takenaka says
Some of my fits have come when our boys have pushed and pushed and I have stuffed and stuffed. And then out it all comes in one raging scream. They cower and I usually end up crying. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Gratitude has been huge in helping me regain an accurate perspective more quickly.
Other things that have helped me is to 1) see my boys as the gifts from God that they are, 2) remember they are still in training. They are not little adults. They are children molded and shaped by how hubby and I respond to and train them, 3) realizing that Prov 15:1 is true: a gentle word turns away anger. When I am gentle in my tones and words toward my boys, it often diffuses their anger, which helps me in diffusing mine. And 4) releasing expectations—of how I thought time would be spent, of how I expected them to behave. Instead, I ask God to help me see beyond their behavior and into their hearts.
I’m not successful all the time, but I’m learning. 🙂 Thanks for your transparency today, Kristen. This was such a meaningful post!
Kristen Strong says
Adore your practical, doable ideas here for maintaining a healthier, non-yelly perspective. Thank you, Jeanne!
Lisa Spidle says
Oh Kristen, how I can relate! I did this very same fit throwing thing 5 years ago. And the anger stayed way too long and my poor family suffered so for it. I was all about looking through the lens of the “I don’t haves” and not looking through the lens of “what I do have”. Notice how the “I” seems to permeate those statements? Thankfully, God gently turned me around and showed me more blessings then I could imagine. Way more! I believe to this day he was preparing me for a season of really true struggle and wanted me to walk through that with grateful eyes. Which I did. Every single day.
Thanks for your post, friend. So very encouraging.
You gals and your stories get to me each time!! I am so there, today, right now…. I take a deep breath after reading and I feel alive again.
Amee Teal says
I don’t have any fancy words to say, and I NEVER comment on blogs….but I had to let you know that this caught my attention in my email and then I literally hung on every word as I continued to the full story, finally ending with me sitting here in my living room alone with my bible opened next me BALLING crying as I immediately acted upon your instruction to pick up something close to me and thank God for it. I live in a trailer with HOLES in our roof, floors that sink in and space heaters everywhere…so you can imagine how I might throw a fit or two — BUT MY GOODNESS what a move of the Holy Spirit in me THROUGH YOU AND YOUR WORDS – YOUR OBEDIENCE TO WRITE AND BE VULNERABLE AND OPEN — thank you sincerely. I ran my hands across the back of the love seat and said “thank you Lord” and tears began to stream out of no where. I turned to my tray table where I am sitting with my son’s laptop and ran my hand across all of it and balled some more as I said “thank you God”. I crave a reverent, TRULY humble, grateful heart…and I thank you for your words that have given me a push start in the right direction. May God bless you a hundred fold and May He keep you and yours every day one day at a time. Thank you so very much again!
Kristen Strong says
Amee, your words are unbelievably tender…and perfect. Now I’m the one crying with gratitude. Thank you for sharing here. Truly, I am treasuring every word. Much love to you and your family, beautiful girl. xo
Bethany M. says
Thankfulness is a theme that has been cropping up more, and more in my own life. I think God is trying to teach me something as well. Thanks for the encouragement, and the push to be faithful with the little things. Have a great Thanksgiving (hopefully sans tornado). 🙂
Yes, I can relate! My four boys are all school aged now, but I remember days when the walls were squeezing me close. “All too often I let my feelings be the boss of me.” It is easier as they get older to have smaller tantrums myself, but they still come in the guise of a bad attitude, and remembering to say thanks can surely turn bad attitude around. Thank you you for your post, and vulnerability, and you have blessed me with memories, too.
Such a lovely post Kristen. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, when I needed it the most. God bless you sister.
Beth Williams says
Oh how I can relate to this post!! Over the years I have seen/thrown “fits” of hurricane size. It is usually, like you said, when I’m tired or don’t feel good and my hubby says or does something to “hurt” my feelings or changes our plans.
This year I have probably thrown a few more than before. I have had my roughest year dealing with my aging dad moving into assisted living, medication issues, hospitalized twice, and psych issues. Add to that my job has changed drastically and the culture at work is not a gentle calming one–instead it’s rush rush rush! Also my hubby almost lost his job. Talk about stress levels rising.
I have endured by leaning hard into God and praying more and more. I also take quiet time for myself. Years ago I remolded our house by doing a thankful journal. I just listed basic daily items I’m thankful for–turns out to be (247). Each day I write down what I’m thankful for that day–even if it just a job, paycheck. Also helps to have a wonderful, loving understanding hubby.
Thanks for a super great post!
Amanda Jobe says
What a beautiful piece and timely reminder for me, Kristen! I am in a season where many things seem to be going wrong, and I have resolved to thank God for all the little blessings I have often taken for granted and model a grateful heart for my young daughters. Brick by brick. Thank you for your encouraging words.
Rosie Bachand says
i would also like to recommend Lysa TerKeurst’s book “unglued” because sometimes we don’t watch the “weather”. It’s good to have and evacuation plan. she was highlighted in some of the “let’s all be Brave” videos and i’ve just finished it and found it funny and sweet and helpful, especially in the middle of hurricanes and snow storms.
Becky L says
I remember the times I have had fits or yelled cuz something was going wrong. Years ago, on my 30th birthday, I was expecting something more than I got, as a present from my husband. I wound up crying, not being nice to him and crying in our bedroom. To this day it bothers me. I wasn’t thankful and I was unappreciative. I discuss politely. I refrain from yelling at my adult daughter who lives with us. I would get upset enuf to bring on a headache! I have gotten better over the years. Walk away, bite my tongue instead of saying anything. Choose battles wisely. Ask forgiveness. Read God’s word to stay within His truths in my life. Life isn’t easy and we hopefully learn from our mistakes. Grow in love and grace. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Hugs!
Elaine B says
Kristen: Thank you so much for sharing this.