Hope for Spicy Families
by Jen Hatmaker on August 29th, 2013

A certain scenario sets off a guaranteed, automatic reaction in me every time.
 
Although reduced, I categorize most families as either “sweet” or “spicy.” There are obvious pros and cons to both dynamics with tons of crossover on the Venn diagram, but still. In general, a family trends toward one or the other.
 
I’ll give you one guess which way the Hatmakers lean.

We are a spicy people. We love obnoxious humor and sarcasm and we are very, very loud. The lot of us suffers from Big Feelings About All The Things, which makes us a passionate, emotional bunch. We don’t really do gentle. We don’t actually know what that means. (My girlfriend Laura has the exact same family dynamic, and I die laughing every time she tells me her “kids are doomed.”)
 
So any time I am around a sweet family for a while, I have a crisis. It simmers until a comment from one of their children to another – “Sister? Would you like the last brownie? I want you to have it since you did all my chores for me as a surprise for my half birthday…” – launches me into a watershed moment. Brandon knows this about me and has weathered the reentry numerous times:
 
Me: What is wrong with us? We need a new system to get people to talk nicer in this house. We are raising feral children. Why don’t any of our kids knit?? We need to quit raising our voices FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES or all hope is lost. Our kids are probably going to kill people one day. Like, I think they are on a dark path to incarceration or street violence.
 
Brandon:        Street violence here in the suburbs?
 
Me:                  THERE COULD BE VIOLENCE IN THESE STREETS – we’re near the end times! We need to figure out how to be more precious. I don’t even think our kids know any hymns! How are we supposed to break out in spontaneous family worship?? WWAVD?? (What would Ann Voskamp do?) Remy told me Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey “because he was so rich.” We are raising dullards. Let’s just throw in the towel.
 
Nothing makes me diagnose my family as catastrophic quicker than witnessing another family behave. It is a terrible comparison game that isn’t even fair, as I’m not privy to their atmosphere longer than that one hour. For all I know that darling sister who deferred the brownie gave the other a roundhouse kick to the temple the next day for calling her a sasquatch. We don’t know these things, and it’s easy to reduce another family to a condensed, crystallized version of their real selves, then compare our own undomesticated family to the prototype and flat despair, certain the children have been ruined beyond repair.
 
I don’t know if there is any worry like Parent Worry. We are responsible for whole human lives here. This is it. This is their one childhood that will carry them into adulthood, drawing from all the hours in this home, emulating what they’ve seen, GOD HELP US. Every parent I know worries that she isn’t doing this right, that she is failing in countless ways, seen and unseen. Our family faults seem so egregious; the omissions and breakdowns and missteps feel monumental, insurmountable even.
 
I heard someone say recently, “If you are worried about being a bad parent, you are probably a good one.” Meaning, this is the opposite, which is technically worse:

I took this in and wanted to believe it so badly and asked God to help me tamp down the vicious self-talk. Then something happened. I started jumping outside of my mind where all the crazy lives and watched me talk to my kids. I was so nice sometimes! I said very sweet and precious things! There were so many I love you’s and you are very smart and attentive mm-hmmm’s and sounds awesome and great job on that laced through all the days. I watched myself do the work of sweet parents, and it occurred to me I am my own worst critic, and sometimes I’m even a liar, convincing myself that nothing good is ever happening in this family, and it’s all my fault, or maybe Brandon’s fault, and the kids are horrid and we are a disaster.
 
This is a really insidious way to keep a Mama down.
 
Why do we latch on to our failures and ignore our successes? I would never overvalue and recount someone else's low moments to the neglect of their triumphs; why do I do that to myself? Why do any of us? Why do we observe other parents’ strengths with 20/20 vision while ours are all blurred? It is as easy for me to declare your goodness as it is to affirm my wretchedness; they are inversely proportional. I am savvy to each, conditioned to minimize your humanity and overemphasize mine.

Whether you are a sweet mama imagining the spicy mamas have all the fun (not true...we're mostly breaking up fights), or a spicy mama assuming the sweet mamas have all the tenderness (they don't...they are mostly, um, I'm not actually sure, I've never been in a sweet family):
 
If you are worried about being a bad parent, you are probably a good one.
 
Some of the good is obvious (the stuff we are quick to notice in others): the loving words, the endless attention, the eye contact, the praise. We are reading to our kids and tucking them in with kisses and using parenting language and attending all the games/recitals/tournaments/programs. We braid hair and tie ribbons and apply band-aids and act like our kids’ art is pretty. We are doing all that, and it is good, and it counts.
 
Some of the good is less obvious (the stuff we think is only going on in our homes): the apologies, the conflict resolution, the tough love, the boundaries, the making up, the hard lessons. We are molding failure into character; our kids, ours. Every parent blows it. Every kid comes unhinged. Every family goes off the rails. That doesn’t mean we are ruined; it means we are ordinary. Course correcting is part of the deal. These efforts often feel bad because they started bad, but they are actually good, and they count too.
 
This is my point no matter which temperament you lean towards: YOU ARE DOING A BETTER JOB THAN YOU THINK. The criticism in your brain can sometimes move you toward best practices, but it can also lie to you and probably is in numerous ways. You may need to step outside your mind and watch yourself for a few days – not just tuning in to the sharp moments but to the soft, tender ones, for I assure you they are there.
 
One of my favorite truths from Scripture is that condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy. And it is harsh out there, debilitating actually. If your inner monologue is constantly critical, endlessly degrading, it may be time to move a few feet back under the umbrella of grace. For there the yoke is easy and the burden is light. Then we can breathe and assess our own parenting with the same kindness we extend to others.
 
You are doing a wonderful job. Parenting is mind-numbingly hard and none of us will be perfect at it and all of us will jack a thousand parts of it, and somehow, against all odds, it will still be enough.
 
And if stepping outside your mind to self-observe or planting your feet back under a grace covering doesn’t work, you may come to my house for one afternoon and be guaranteed to feel better about your family, as you may recall that after sassing off, I told my then fifth grader to get a shovel, go in the backyard, and dig his own grave.
 
Because THAT is WJHWD.


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324 Comments

Spicy Shelley - August 29th, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Yes. That is all.
Jenn H. - August 29th, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Love!
That's all.
Thanks for a good word, JH.
Megan - August 29th, 2013 at 12:59 PM
This spicy mama says, "YeeHaw! Thanks for saying spicy is a-okay!"
Jill - August 29th, 2013 at 1:00 PM
I like you
Angie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:00 PM
deep breath out...I so needed to hear this today. I have four sons...yes, FOUR! Oldest is 10, youngest is 2. "feral children"..I'll be stealing that line. Thank you, once again, Jen, for talking me off the ledge :)
Nichole - August 29th, 2013 at 1:00 PM
Needed this today, Jen. Thanks!
Sarah@How My World Runs - August 29th, 2013 at 1:01 PM
Your kids will be fine. I turned out ok and I'm pretty sure my family was the spicy one. We were definitely not sharing the last brownie, more like doing the roundhouse kicks and calling each other sasquatches! :-)
Roo // NEON FRESH - August 29th, 2013 at 1:01 PM
I just died at WWAVD.

Thanks for that. :)
amanda - August 29th, 2013 at 1:18 PM
yes. I died there too. Totally.
Leslie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:44 PM
Me too. Snorted.
Erin - August 29th, 2013 at 2:25 PM
I died. Because its sort of been my life motto for 2 years.
Jen - August 29th, 2013 at 2:26 PM
wwavd was one of my favorite lines!
Kerri - August 29th, 2013 at 2:26 PM
Hysterical
Lindsay - August 29th, 2013 at 6:31 PM
Totally hysterical, considering I am in the middle of an AV devotional! I am certain AV doesn't get hummingbirds stuck in her garage as I did this AM!
Lundie - August 29th, 2013 at 2:30 PM
Yup.
Laura - August 29th, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Bahahaha ... I just died there. Soooo funny.
Kristen - August 29th, 2013 at 2:43 PM
Me too. As well as the WWJHD!
Steph Raquel - August 29th, 2013 at 3:44 PM
For sure!! =)
Auntie J - August 29th, 2013 at 4:37 PM
Oh, gosh, yes. Me too!
Jeanne - August 29th, 2013 at 1:02 PM
Yes, yes, yes! My favorite line: "Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy. " Exactly. Also, it is often very hard for me not to laugh when things go "off the rails" in our family. I feel like sometimes we are in a 70s disaster movie and the house has turned upside down and we are all gonna drown.
Kristi J. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:02 PM
THANK YOU!! I can definitely see our family in the "sweet" and I struggle with telling myself we're not as fun as the spicy families (even though we can get spicy if we're in the mood...ha!). Thank you again! Love it! Such a precious family!
Michele H. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:04 PM
Beautifully said. We're gonna be okay.
Carrie Tungate - August 29th, 2013 at 1:04 PM
This is excellent! Thank you!
Jill - August 29th, 2013 at 1:04 PM
also, my 13 year old son and I do sometimes sing (badly) praise and worship songs on the way home from soccer training. But we equally as likely to belt out "Beer Money" by Kip Moore.
Lori Poppinga - August 29th, 2013 at 1:04 PM
All I can think to say is, " I know, right?" We are that family. The other day my daughter said she wished I was like her friends mom who "never, ever yells." Sigh! I don't yell...I just have to talk loud to be heard over the 10 other people living in our home.
Keep up the God work, Jen, you are making a difference just the way you are.
Lori
rachel - August 29th, 2013 at 1:04 PM
"Nothing makes me diagnose my family as catastrophic quicker than witnessing another family behave." - Yes. YES. Oh I just love it!
Laura - August 29th, 2013 at 1:05 PM
Laughed my head off about the WWAVD! I have subscribed & then unsubscribed to her blog repeatedly because it all just becomes too much! Lol

Lesli Weeks - August 29th, 2013 at 1:05 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is exactly what this "Spicy" mom needed to hear:)
beth malcolm - August 29th, 2013 at 1:05 PM
Great, True, love this.
Olivia - August 29th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Oh my "Jenspiration" for the day. Thank you for the encouraging words. I'm not off to ruin my toddler :)
Angieleigh - August 29th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Oh thank you, Jenn! I NEEDED this. Especially today! From one spicy mama to another, hi five and much love!
Wendy - August 29th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Thank you Jen! You are the REAL deal!
Krista - August 29th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
I love you. The WWAVD is hysterical as I love her too, but wonder how someone can be so sweet/lovely/amazing... I've been in a state of self correction and shame for a while- thank you for clearing a path to find some grace-- I so need it for myself.


Melissa - August 29th, 2013 at 1:07 PM
We are sassy and proud :). Also, my kids' shirts turn into ninja masks on almost a nightly basis.
Angel - August 29th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
Thank you for being so real. My family is a spicy family! I look at other families that are seem so sweet and loving to each other and think "Ugh, where did we go wrong!" But I don't think I would change our spiciness for anything.
Bethany B. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
I can always tell that I overgeneralize my stereotypes of "sweet" families when people say things to me like, "Your kids get along so well." WHAT? Then I realize other moms are out there overgeneralizing me too...
MC - August 29th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
After getting an e-mail yesterday from my dad about how bad I am screwing up my senior in high school by suggesting she go to the local community college for FREE instead of the state college for all the money, I thank you!
Karen - August 29th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
Needed this today. We were with a sweet family last weekend and even my 9 yo said. Gosh they are so nice to each other! :) ahhh.
Jennifer D. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Insert sigh if relief here. To quote the much overused interwebz cliche: so much this!!!
Christy - August 29th, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Gorgeous. I feel as if I can breathe again. Thank you.
Kimball - August 29th, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Love this perspective. We ARE doing a better job than our inner critic will ever acknowledge.
Sara - August 29th, 2013 at 1:10 PM
"We need to quit raising our voices FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES or all hope is lost. Our kids are probably going to kill people one day. Like, I think they are on a dark path to incarceration or street violence."
I'm so glad I'm not the only parent that has those thoughts! Maybe there's hope for us after all. Thank you!
Corie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:12 PM
Oh how I needed this today! I have 5, four still in the house that we homeschool. I think I've had that very conversation with my husband after seeing the kids in our co-op that sew, run their own egg selling business from chickens they raise, all play various instruments (and teach lessons), paint like Picasso, ALWAYS say yes ma'am & no ma'am and never have an ugly word to siblings or parents! The saying in our family is we don't save for college, we save for future therapy bills!
Corie H. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:22 PM
Hey, that's my name too. I rarely see it spelled the same way. Blessings to you!
Nikki - August 29th, 2013 at 1:47 PM
oh sister! we say the same thing...forget the college fund, if they aren't in prison, they'll be in therapy!!
Jenn - August 29th, 2013 at 1:13 PM
Oh my word! Thank you for speaking such truth!
Beth Bates - August 29th, 2013 at 1:15 PM
You have such a beautifully unique way for making all of us non-Pinterest-perfect moms feel like we're doing ok in this life. And making us smile when all we want to do is hand our children the shovel and send them to the back yard!
Miki B - August 29th, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Loud, spicy, sassy...just plain crazy. That's how my house rolls and it's about to get worse...better...more. Thanks for the encouragement. I'll be using the shovel line. I can promise you my 7th grader needs to start digging. :-)
Ty - August 29th, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Love this mostly because it reminds me that it is ok to be spicy! Growing up my family would probably be considered sweet. Very few loud rambunctious times as a family, relatively unemotional, etc... My brother and I both turned out fine, so my parents must have done something right. My husbands family is complete opposite. Loud, very emotional, potty humor, arguments, etc... But they are ok too! It's been very interesting as we try to meld our experiences into parent our own kid (about to be kids). I have to remember that it is ok for my husband to be playfully loud with our daughter or to verbalize frustrations, she won't be scarred for life!!!
Missi - August 29th, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Thank you.
A - August 29th, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Thanks for the encouragment - from a spicy mama!

kelly - August 29th, 2013 at 1:17 PM
THANK YOU!! i love your writing!! this is an AWESOME perspective and yes, i am my own worst enemy..i 2nd guess myself ALL the time and probably drive my hubby insane with the self-doubt when it comes to raising our 3 girls....thank you for the laugh out loud funny words...it made my day better
Marc - August 29th, 2013 at 1:17 PM
That moment when I offer grace to my child who has done something majorly wrong instead of judging and condemning simply because she embarrassed me. That's when I feel so close to God... So close to her... And so close to what I need to be.
Corie H. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Yes.
Teresa - August 29th, 2013 at 1:18 PM
WWAVD. Nearly sprayed my monitor with tea.
Awesome. Thank you for this.
Erin - August 29th, 2013 at 5:57 PM
Ha! Me too. Hilarious.
Emma - August 29th, 2013 at 6:12 PM
Me too Teresa! Thought I might wet myself laughing! Just what I needed :)
Thanks JHM for making us roll with laughter, feel like its not just us and offer some helpful but practical steps too. God bless you :)
Kathi - August 29th, 2013 at 6:28 PM
LOL!

Alexandra Kuykendall - August 29th, 2013 at 1:19 PM
THANK YOU. You have a hidden camera in my home I know it. I read this right after putting the two children who are home right now in separate time outs. Both for hitting me. Both laughed IN MY FACE. They are 4 and 2 years old. We've got some spice (and that doesn't include the kids I was HAPPY to drop off at school today.) "We need to lower our voices for the rest of our lives."
Sheri - August 29th, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Spicy! Love that. We are spicy. It sounds so much nicer than "non-compliant" which is what I always hear in my head as I recite passages from the strong willed child. Love love.
Stacey - August 29th, 2013 at 1:20 PM
I feel as though we are BFFs who've never met, although since my family and I moved our spicy selves to ATX a year ago, I feel as though our paths are just destined to cross. Certainly that is God's plan...;)
Emily - August 29th, 2013 at 1:20 PM
Oh Jen! This is just what I needed to read today. My son peed in the church parking lot a couple of weeks ago. We're a little spicy too.
Ami - August 29th, 2013 at 1:21 PM
Thanks for this!! I always tell people that I'm not saving for my kids college education, just there future therapy bills!! This parenting business is not for the faint of heart!
julie - August 29th, 2013 at 6:51 PM
hahahaha..save your money..this spicy family had to get one ours counseling..what a waste of money..

Carly - August 29th, 2013 at 1:21 PM
Oh, how I needed this!! I am a mama of 3, and not a one is laid back or calm. I have felt like a failure so many times witnessing other families and other calm children. And I wonder, is it me? Am I not disciplining them correctly? Or is it them? Is it the spirit God has given them? Who knows-- but "spicy" is a true description of our family. God help us!! And thank you for the reminder that I am not alone in this. Because it feels really lonely sometimes, you know?
Christy Irons - August 29th, 2013 at 1:22 PM
I actually said to my husband last night..."We are raising CRIMINALS!" They are going to be in jail before they turn 18...I so very badly want to be a sweet family, but we cross into spicy with wild abandon. The roundhouse kicking girls belong to me. My big boys burrito roll the little boys into their comforter in the morning so they can't get downstairs and find it hilariously funny. (oddly the little boys find this hysterical as well)..the church screamers, classroom gassers, snot shooting children are MINE. I love this post. A whooooole bunch.
Jess - August 29th, 2013 at 2:50 PM
I'm 30 and find the burrito roll HILARIOUS. My children are destined to be just like yours...
Leslie Knight - August 29th, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Thank you!

I always think I am doing it wrong. All of it. I have said countless times that I am done, that parenting is not for me, that after these kids leave (we're foster parents so it's always a bit temporary) I am done. Forever. No more being a parent. I am not good at it.

And my poor husband. He has to listen to me. And read my annoying texts. And then there's the 17-year-old who I am always (it seems) at odds with. The one I just want to love and care for and similarly wring her neck. I am sure she feels the same about me. If not worse. And the 2-year-old who belongs to the 17-year-old who I am just the punching bag for it seems.

So thank you. For reminding me there is grace. For reminding me that others feel the same. And for reminding me that if I feel like I am doing it all wrong I am probably (at least we hope) doing something right.
TheBargainBabe - August 29th, 2013 at 6:09 PM
Thank YOU for fostering and being part of the village to raise children. You may think you aren't good at it, but I'd bet you are. Those children need someone who loves them enough to worry that they aren't good at it, and you're that person. You are their person.

As a fellow citizen of this planet, I thank you for standing up for children and doing what you do. Even if you are spicy. ;)
Natalie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Boy I needed this today...I have 3 kiddos...two of which are teens (enough said)! I often look at our spicy family and wonder if any of us will make it out alive! But then I hear sweet words from others after one of my children has been to their house that they were well mannered, polite, and kind and I think...there is hope!!! Your openness is such a blessing to me! Thank you!!!!

Kelly H. - August 29th, 2013 at 1:26 PM
I know I am one of MANY spicy mamas (in a very spicy family) who will say THANKS for this. Good words all moms need to hear
Jennifer Beck - August 29th, 2013 at 1:26 PM
You make my heart soooo happy!
Amy - August 29th, 2013 at 1:28 PM
Yep last week my ten year old with a "poopy" attitude got to scoop the "poop" from my backyard. It IS all about course correction in this household too!
Carrie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:30 PM
I freakin love you, I really do, just what I needed today. We are raising 3 boys (we call them the Vikings) and an adopted daughter from China and we are most certainly a spicy family. Embrace it
Leslie Landiss - August 29th, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Thank you!
Kari - August 29th, 2013 at 1:31 PM
My family is spicy. We do loud nicely. Quiet... well.... There was parts of this I wanted to cry, because I relate so much!! It tugged on my heart. and Others I was laughing hard. Thanks for the blog. It makes me feel like maybe we have a chance :)
Tiffany Dawn - August 29th, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Ba ha ha! This made me laugh out loud. Don't worry; our family is super spicy, too. Just yesterday I told the kids that once I got past this busy weekend I was going to teach them how to speak kindly to each other or they would suffer the consequences.
Lisa - August 29th, 2013 at 1:32 PM
The old saying "Don't compare your insides to everyone else's outsides" works for families, too.
Mary - August 29th, 2013 at 9:03 PM
I have never heard this saying but LOVE IT. I am going to be using it all the time now...:)
Kim - August 29th, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Thank you. We all need to hear that and know that we are not the horrible failures our minds try to make us believe.
Krista - August 29th, 2013 at 1:34 PM
You are such an encouragement to me! I'm pretty sure my 3 children terrorize our block (which is made up of pastors and people who work at the church where my husband also works). I caught them ding-dong-ditching our pastor once -- the horror and shame of it all! Amazingly, he seems to really get a kick out of them and I can only hope he's not just pretending. I recently realized I need to change the way I think about myself as a Mama: instead of "I'm a bad Mom who sometimes does a good job," I'm trying to tell myself "I'm a good Mom who sometimes does a bad job."
Angela carpenter - August 29th, 2013 at 1:36 PM
Thank you so much for giving me a name for our type of family. I have never thought about it like that! I just thought we were crazy and not civilized! I love your writing and how it speaks so realistically for those in the trenches! They also help by allowing me a good laugh! The one you wrote about the perspective buyers coming to your house had both myself and my husband in stitches!
Suzi - August 29th, 2013 at 1:37 PM
LOL...Thanks for the post! We do spicy at our house too :)! Sweet? I don't comprehend that term at all. I have 3 boys :)!
Mari Mayborn - August 29th, 2013 at 1:40 PM
Schwew%u2014Off the rails is normal. Thanks for writin' it real and reminding me of God's grace for real moms.
Vicki - August 29th, 2013 at 1:43 PM
He is so good to provide us just what we need, when we need it! Thank you for this post today, it was just the encouragement I needed. Yesterday I got an ADHD diagnosis with probable learning disability for my 9 year old son. It kind of crushed me because his confidence is so fragile already and it is so hard being a single parent. Then the guilt kicks in for the frustration and yelling and all that goes along with homework in our house-when it turns out he couldn't help it. So we start school next week and I'm going to hang onto this truth and remember that He is with us and with Him anything is possible, even 4th grade math.

And also....WWAVD?!?!?! I'm dying over here!!!! :)
Christine Conwell - August 29th, 2013 at 9:18 PM
There is a great Facebook page called ADDitude that's dedicated to ADHDers. I have two in my household and it's been pretty informative at times. Good luck!
Penny Blair - August 29th, 2013 at 9:47 PM
For me, the ADHD diagnosis brought so much relief - so many answers, that I couldn't help but be relieved. I pray that you'll find some relief in the diagnosis - that it gives you some answers, even if it bring more questions.
Jenn - August 29th, 2013 at 1:45 PM
Thank you for showing me that I'm not the only one who has "feral children" Love Love Love it! You are so awesome!
Leslie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:46 PM
Me too. Snorted.
Roz Gorc - August 29th, 2013 at 1:50 PM
Thank you for writing what you do and the way you do. Thank you!!
Leslie - August 29th, 2013 at 1:51 PM
Oh boy. I'm on the "other side" -- mine are 23 and 25 and so amazingly, delightfully wonderful that people now tell me I should write a parenting book. Except they turned out that way IN SPITE of the parenting, not because of it. Shortest book ever. Chapter One: God is gracious. The end. (No joke - I had a bad flashback just yesterday and texted my 23-year-old son to apologize for that time we kept yelling at him to be quiet so we could watch Grey's Anatomy. Oh yeah. Parents of the Year here.)

Keep it up, Mamas-in-the-Trenches. You're doing great. For real. It's going to be okay.
Jen - August 29th, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Leslie- that's awesome. Thanks for that!
Kim - August 29th, 2013 at 9:16 PM
Oh man! That was almost as good as the blog! Whew!
thisheart - August 29th, 2013 at 9:23 PM
LOL! You mean there's hope that they won't remember their sleep deprived mother ranting about being late to school, driving like a maniac - or at least if they remember it, they'll choose another path!? Thank you!!!
Melissa - August 29th, 2013 at 9:48 PM
HA! I kept looking for the 'like' button. I'm always doing something where I think that. Yup, "Mom of the Year" right here. Didn't have a clue my 3-yo put on 12 pairs of panties for church. I thought that dress just got a little puffier after the dryer. SMH
Sarah S. - August 29th, 2013 at 9:49 PM
Leslie, I am SO there. My daughter's senior year (high school) is upon me, and my tears are not that she will leave the house soon. She is SO pumped and beyond ready AND it is the way God intended. I weep from gratitude, overwhelmed at what God has turned her into in spite of me. YES! "Shush and let me do my thing!" is TOTALLY me -- and what amazing (independent by necessity! :-) ) children I have. My kids are the very picture of God's grace.
Hannah - August 29th, 2013 at 9:53 PM
Thanks, Leslie, I needed that comment!
gm - August 29th, 2013 at 1:54 PM
excellent post for us moms who are absolutely our own worst critics! thank you for the affirmation, Jen. i was surprised by the tears that suddenly came to my eyes while i read it!
Jessica turner - August 29th, 2013 at 2:01 PM
Just a amen sister!!
Kate - August 29th, 2013 at 2:01 PM
Amazing! Love it! Thank you!
Julia - August 29th, 2013 at 2:03 PM
Thank you! I love your posts...We are a very spicy family. My husband is a coach. Enough Said! We are raising have 5 FERRELL children for sure, we just spell it differently :0) Thanks again.
Crystal Sorenson - August 29th, 2013 at 2:06 PM
You're hilarious and REAL! You have a very similar sense of humor as me so I can totally relate to all your posts! Thanks so much! I enjoy them all and appreciate very much how you tie the biblical perspectives in. Keep up the good work!
Kathleen - August 29th, 2013 at 2:07 PM
Jen, It's not like you need any of our comments to validate what God has put in you to share. BUT if you ever wonder if people are "getting it"....they are. Well, I am. I appreciate your words and the way you live and talk honestly about the things of families and of God. You ARE precious, and spicy too. I think that's why God chooses spicy people like you to share His love and grace. It's the spicy that I can relate to and reminds me I am not alone. THANK YOU! :-)
SpicyH - August 29th, 2013 at 2:11 PM
Thank you for even criticizing yourself sassily. I do all the time, and then feel double guilt. Thank you for remembering to step back under grace for criticism is not from Him. Mostly, thank you for admitting that you jump from a late bed time or processed food snack to world war and street violence. Been there, am there, and will "see you in the street". ;-) God bless lady.
Laura - August 29th, 2013 at 2:15 PM
Love it! We're WAY spicy here.
Thanks so much for loaning me some Hope today. :)
Wendy - August 29th, 2013 at 2:16 PM
Thank you for this post!! It was timely & so needed! The power of your testimony you so openly & willingly share is piercing the enemy's lies! Thank you!
Regina - August 29th, 2013 at 2:20 PM
http://fridaynightgirl.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/i-yelled-at-my-kids-today/
Yes. Today must be the day for it. Thank you. Man, I needed this today. Thank YOU.
Tracey - August 29th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
Sassy, Mom of 3 Spicy Boys, who lost it this morning on the 2nd day of school says thank you so much for this timely post!
Evan - August 29th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
I don't know you, but this was awesome and hilarious. I come from a rather spicy family that is awesome in so many ways. The kids are all in their 20's now, and totally not feral or crazy. Don't worry! Your kids will grow up to be great adults.

I hope one day to have a spicy family of my own.
Nicole from west texas - August 29th, 2013 at 2:23 PM
I swear our brains are totally hard wired the same way, it's almost like I can count on your posts being exactly what I am thinking and what we are living out. But you have this amazing way to put it into words! Most posts like this bring me to tears in a hysterical way, the way that makes me take a deep breath and look around and say "I got this, these kids aren't going to be the death of me".....Thank you!
Erica - August 29th, 2013 at 2:24 PM
I so so so needed this today. Recently finished reading 7. Struggling big time at the moment. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for sharing your spicy family with us.
Hanabot - August 29th, 2013 at 2:27 PM
I think spicy vs. sweet is a life-long observation for me. I used to worry that being too 'sweet' was reason for anxiety and I frequently jumped ship for the 'spicy' party boat to keep people interested. No longer concerned, little robot doesn't seem to mind the 'sweet' either.
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 2:29 PM
WWAVD?!?!? This is epic.
Kristin - August 29th, 2013 at 9:33 PM
I know! I died laughing!
jjandfive - August 30th, 2013 at 7:01 AM
yes, hilarious :) thx for the laughs!
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 2:31 PM
I asked my boys (8 & 10) "How is your childhood so far?" One laughed so hard he couldn't talk and the other said it was not good because I wouldn't buy him and xbox. Feral kids indeed.
But then I overheard one telling the other about a good play he made in his baseball game and all was well. Thanks JH for reminding us all that of course these kids are going to be spicy, that every kid and every parent blows it... and thank goodness for that because struggle/forgiveness is a skill I wish every human learned early.
Helen - August 29th, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Sarah, I love that you asked your kids that question! I asked my then 12 (now 17) year old the same question and he looked like a deer in the headlights for a minute ... and then busted out laughing.
Melissa - August 29th, 2013 at 2:32 PM
So badly needed this: "Every parent blows it. Every kid comes unhinged. Every family goes off the rails. That doesn%u2019t mean we are ruined; it means we are ordinary." Thank you, from a medium spiced mama!

Tricia - August 29th, 2013 at 2:34 PM
I heard once, and I repeat all the time, "The goal of parenting is not to raise kids who don't need therapy. The goal of parenting is to raise kids who recognize WHEN they need therapy and can pay for it THEMSELVES." I found that immensely liberating. Seriously.
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 10:02 PM
As a therapist, I can say a resounding YES to this :) Love it!!
Susanne - August 29th, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Tricia - that is a perfect quote re therapy. Thank you. :)
Deb - August 30th, 2013 at 8:34 AM
Tricia - you rock!
Kelli - August 29th, 2013 at 2:35 PM
I just love you, Jen. Nine times out of 10, you speak to issues in a way that makes me feel like you've been spying on my heart & mind. This topic is one that I constantly struggle with, and I loved everything you have to say about it. Thank you for being so real.
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 2:36 PM
I asked my boys (8 & 10) "How is your childhood so far?" One laughed so hard he couldn't talk and the other said it was not good because I wouldn't buy him and xbox. Feral kids indeed.
But then I overheard one telling the other about a good play he made in his baseball game and all was well. Thanks JH for reminding us all that of course these kids are going to be spicy, that every kid and every parent blows it... and thank goodness for that because struggle/forgiveness is a skill I wish every human learned early.
BigMama - August 29th, 2013 at 2:40 PM
My kids ask me every year to give up yelling for Lent. Can't do it.
Missy - August 29th, 2013 at 2:50 PM
Lol!! Did you write this for me???? I'm pretty sure God did:-)
Angela - August 29th, 2013 at 2:52 PM
I don't even know who Ann Voskamp is!
Heather - August 29th, 2013 at 2:54 PM
You rock! I needed this. Thanks!
Sara - August 29th, 2013 at 3:03 PM
Thank YOU! With 4 boys age 12, 8, 5 & 3, I'm not sure we could be anything other than a spicy house. But I see all those "perfect moms" who have clean houses and clean kids and make crafts, and think I'm totally screwing it up. And then my little scientist blow something up onto the ceiling. :)
Jenn - August 29th, 2013 at 3:05 PM
I guess I fall more in the "sweet' category (but when I have my spicy moments, Katie bar the door...) but I cried reading this because I have the EXACT SAME ISSUES of feeling like a complete failure compared to other parents (usually involving how other families are way more athletic and DOING THINGS). So....thank you for these tears today. I really needed them. :)
EJ - August 29th, 2013 at 3:10 PM
I sooo needed this today!
Shannon - August 29th, 2013 at 3:10 PM
Laughing and crying ugly tears all at the same time. My mama's heart needed this. Us mama's are hard on each other, and so very hard on ourselves. Thank you for the reminder that grace covers it all. And thank goodness because there is a lot of "ALL" in our spicy family that needs covering.
Skerrib - August 29th, 2013 at 3:11 PM
a) Spicy. YES!

b) WWAVD--YES! (Betcha AV herself asks that question sometimes)

Carry on!
Melinda - August 29th, 2013 at 3:14 PM
So, yeah. Try being a spicy family at "home school" events...
Sometimes it's like being a bag PopRocks set out along side the tea cakes.
Thanks for the reminder to not let it bother me!
Ramona - August 29th, 2013 at 9:41 PM
Hilarious! I soooooo relate! Great analogy.
Debi - August 30th, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Oh Yea I feel your pain I was a spicy homeschool family until we put them back in school cause of my illness. Well most but not all were understanding of that :(
Stacey - August 30th, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Love that analogy :)

julie - August 29th, 2013 at 3:20 PM
Thanks, this spicy mama really needed some encouragement today. Teenage daughter...oy, wake me up when it's over!!!!!!
Michelle - August 29th, 2013 at 3:20 PM
I seriously thought round-house kicks only happened at MY house.

Thank you for this.
Dalaina - August 29th, 2013 at 3:24 PM
I've been telling people that I believe that all people are precious or not-precious. My family of 6 is made up of at least 5 not-precious people. The jury is still out on the baby... I love the spicy/sweet dichotomy. SO TRUE! And also true that I look at the sweet families and wonder how on earth can I get these people of mine to act like THAT?! Thanks for the encouragement and reminding me that I can love the loud, sarcastic, crazies that make up my family. Maybe we aren't so deranged after all. :)
Rachel Marascalco - August 29th, 2013 at 3:33 PM
Tears of laughter & tears of relief & understanding. Nail on the head everytime. You write the words I subconsciously think but am too ill equipped to vocalize. Since following your blogs I truly believe I have become a better mother & have enjoyed being a mother so much more. Thank you for exposing the grace that had been there all along.
Wendy - August 29th, 2013 at 3:36 PM
We are neither sweet not spicy, I think my family is just bland. But the condemning dialogue plays in my head on repeat...so thank you for this encouragement!
Tonya - August 30th, 2013 at 8:36 AM
Nobody's bland. Maybe you're just "hearty vegetables". Underrated. Understated. But the building blocks of solid nutrition. :-)
deirdre - August 29th, 2013 at 3:38 PM
LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!!!! we suffer from Big Feelings About All Things!!!!! So glad someone else on the planet does also! We are a spicy family!!!! and sometimes I have LOTS of doubts that is ok! Thank you for the reminder that it is!!!!! LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!
Dianne - August 29th, 2013 at 3:41 PM
This really encouraged me today. I'm mom to five very strong personalities and just realized we are a spicy family! I can relate to the mom who said she subscribes and unsubscribes to Ann's blog because it makes her feel like she must be doing something wrong! I want so desperately to be a good example of a homeschooling large family, and we don't fit in that mold. Thanks for making me realize that it's ok.
Amy - August 29th, 2013 at 3:52 PM
Oh, my goodness. I jlove, love, love your blog! It makes me cry every time! Tears of joy/hope/recognition, or tears of laughter.
I am so grateful that there is a spicy Hatmaker clan in the world. I really want to get a WWJHD bracelet made!! And, I'm keeping the "dig your own grave" in my back pocket for when the time comes.
Debi Russell - August 29th, 2013 at 3:56 PM
Love it! Never thought of the sweet/ spicy analogy. I do call some mama's "ooey gooey's" though which is similar. :-) living in the south we have lots of ooey gooey mama's but I have come to the conclusion long ago that you gotta give yourself permission to change flavor as you/your kids age and never, ever, ever compare. Though I sometimes do. Great post!
Crystal - August 29th, 2013 at 3:58 PM
I have a toddler. Who screams. And hates sleep. And clings desperately at daycare drop off and says randomness like "I eat cheese from my butt"....and I worry all the time about being a good enough parent. And I think the "WWAVD" thoughts when I see her kiddos break into spontaneous hymn sing on the beach via IG and I go "really God? how do I get THAT?"...but I happen to like a little spicy irish in our family, so I guess we'll just have trust God that it will be ok :) Thank you for this!
Danielle - August 29th, 2013 at 4:01 PM
Oh wow! A *FRICKIN* MEN!!! We have a spicy family speckled with sweet family shenanigans and all too often that stinky ol enemy tries to trick me into shoving us into the sweet family mold. And it kicks my butt every time. Was kicking it this week. Choosing to tell Satan to shut up:) Thanks for this awesome encouragement!!!
chels - August 29th, 2013 at 4:02 PM
i died over the wwavd thing. soooo funny. thanks for this, though. i'm not even a parent yet, but self-criticism and shame can so easily creep in at any stage of life.
Bronwyn - August 29th, 2013 at 4:07 PM
WWJHD? She would make us laugh and love Jesus a little bit more.
Bev Murrill - August 29th, 2013 at 4:08 PM
We had that family... they're all grown up and trying to work out their own families now... I often think they're a lot better at it than I was, but maybe they're better at it because I was good at it... now that's a trippy thought.
Shelly - August 29th, 2013 at 4:14 PM
I think I'm gonna have myself a shirt made that says One Proud SPICY Mama! Now I need to go clean up the yogurt covered toddler before he paints the walls.
PoMoMom - August 29th, 2013 at 4:19 PM
OK you made e look up Ann Voskamp. Must say I hadn't hear about her up here in Canada. Of course I'm sure my Good Christian Sisters have, and if I could just get a MOMENT of PEACE from my spicy kids I would have time and energy to pray/reflect/study the word, better/more often/at all!! Its OK though, I have a girlfriend who has a sweet family, that's clean, polite, doesn't shout and the kids have been able to sing Jesus Loves Me, since they could talk. sigh. WWKD, that's what I ask myself. 5 more sleeps till kindergarten.....
Erica - August 29th, 2013 at 7:52 PM
You know...she's Canadian, too! :)
Colleen - August 30th, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Really ...I guess I have never been concerned about parenting blogs and never heard if her either....somedays we are mild spicey and some days we are hot spicey...but everyday we struggle to teach random acts of kindness and thankfulness to our kiddos who have trauma backgrounds and entitlement...the fact that one of them rarely stays dressed....and the other dreams of moving out and is eight...I think is progress...cause I just used rarely instead of never...and dreams instead of runs...
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 4:20 PM
I believe we should aim to be SALTY as Jesus called us to be. There's plenty of room for reality, personality & grace in that saltiness that the world needs.
Cindreth - August 30th, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Yes! Saltiness ..not just an outward flavor but what is our function. Jesus knew we would need many "flavors" to make a whole functioning, healthy community/body but all of are called to be salt.
Rachel - August 29th, 2013 at 4:29 PM
oh man, as a blog nerd, I laughed out loud at the WWAVD?

love this, thanks for the encouragement.
Jeanene - August 29th, 2013 at 4:34 PM
ROTFLOL...I have been known to advise that a child drop the shovel and step *away* from the large hole in the ground! ;-) From one spicy mama to another. Thank you!
Alissa - August 29th, 2013 at 4:39 PM
Amelia already got a note from the teacher about her responses to redirection. Day 3 of Kindergarten. Not rude, just stuff like..."30 seconds to sit out is not long." We run hot around here. Muy caliente. Bless you for making me feel better about the spicy crazy around here.
Kelley - August 29th, 2013 at 4:40 PM
I'm dying laughing at telling your kid to go dig his own grave! We are such a spicy family! Thank you for helping me embrace it!
Megan Willome - August 29th, 2013 at 4:42 PM
I laughed out loud at WWAVD?

I am a bad parent and life has gone completely off the rails. Just know your words meant something to me today. Not sure what, but something.


Tracy - August 29th, 2013 at 4:43 PM
you had me at Roundhouse Kick to the Temple! AWESOME!
Shahla P. - August 31st, 2013 at 4:55 PM
Thank you.Encouraged is an understatement.
Auntie J - August 29th, 2013 at 4:45 PM
I spend my days feeling like I just can't keep up. I have friends with 8 kids. They homeschool. Their kids are involved in a zillion activities. She's a pastor. They constantly seem to have it all together, even though I know they don't. I have another friend who loves AV, and I don't get AV at all. She and her husband homeschool their two kids. She believes I could do so if I wanted to. I am so grateful that school has started. Bless it all, I need the solitude. I didn't think we were so much a spicy family until I realized that it's constant insanity around here, that I and my kids especially Feel Big about EVERYTHING, and that I have girls who roughhouse with each other, and that everything bounces across everything else...yeah, I guess we're spicy. I so needed this today...especially after I griped at my kids less than five minutes after returning from the store because I was hot, sweaty, hungry, tired, achy, and didn't need a flurry of what were basically rhetorical questions but the kids wanted answers to anyway. Thanks so much.
heather - August 30th, 2013 at 9:55 AM
I was wondering if anyone else would put themselves into a spicy/sweet combo family!
Your "dreamer son" made me laugh, 'cause I can just see the different priorities: I got other things to think about, man, why would I remember what day it is?

With three daughters, two 17 year olds and a 7 year old, I can get the sweet/spicy combo in one utterance: "Mom, you look great! You should wear the black. . .Stop making that sound! . . .shoes with that."
caleb - August 29th, 2013 at 4:47 PM
Probably the only dude on here. Definitely the only dude on here who is taking time away from his corporate job to read this post and comment. But enough about me.

One of the best posts ever. Made my week.

We're a spicy/sweet combo family.
EX:
The dreamer son: "What day is it and where are we going?" (As he's getting ready for school the day after Sunday.)
Realist daughter: "SERIOUSLY?! WHAT DAY DO YOU THINK IT IS?! USE YOUR BRAIN! YOU'RE EIGHT. YOU SHOULD KNOW THE DAYS OF THE WEEK."
Geraldine - August 29th, 2013 at 4:52 PM
As a mom of 4 grown girls I can tell you that this worry of being an okay parent never seems to go away. I had a teacher call the house once to ask what we did to make our kids the way they are, meaning really smart, articulate students. We had a man ask if he could come over to discuss parenting because our two girls still home at the time were so nice to him at the guard shack. (We're a military family.) On the other hand we have one child who now does not speak to us and we are not even sure where she is exactly. We can message her on FB. What a dichotomy. On the one hand we look like great parents and on the other we look like horrible monsters. I going with 'we are somewhere in between the two'!

One thing I do know....our family was NEVER boring! We had fun times. I'm sure this is true of you as well. If you were only 'sweet' you would be in a numbed-mind state! So soldier on! No one who wrote "7" could be a horrible parent!
Lori - August 29th, 2013 at 4:53 PM
Thanks for this...I needed to hear it/read it today. I've been feeling like my super-spicy family should have permanent access to Tums or Rolaids...we need relief from each other! But you're right. If I think I'm a rotten mom, I'm probably doing just fine. I'm definitely my own worst critic...and I would never think to minimize someone else's parenting like I do my own. Thanks Jen. God Bless!
Susan Knarr - August 29th, 2013 at 4:55 PM
I so needed to read this today. Thank you so much for making me feel more "normal"!
Anna - August 29th, 2013 at 5:01 PM
You are my hero!! And you make me laugh until I cry!
Tiffany - August 29th, 2013 at 5:12 PM
YES, I'm so glad I'm not the only person that thinks this. We are a spicy family. I recently asked my husband why my kids aren't the sweet type? His reply: "um, it's because WE aren't the sweet type." Oh yah, THAT. Well, at least they won't be boring adults, right?
Vicky - August 29th, 2013 at 5:22 PM
When my family of 7 arrives anywhere, my last words as we pile out of the minivan as if it were a clown car - "everyone does not need to HEAR that the Livingston circus has arrived"! A family of spicies!
TyTy - September 1st, 2013 at 10:50 PM
I grew up spicy. We just weren't allowed in public. And now my own son this week was vaulting over the gate at my aunt's country club pool. She DID NOT approve. I told her he was practicing his gymnastics. And I was proud of him. None of those other sissy boys at 5 years old can vault the fence. Thank you very much. Quite spicy.
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 5:40 PM
People call me & my family sweet all the time....and I have no idea why. My four year old is on his third "creation" of the day - mixing toothpaste and other random bathroom items, including my makeup - all this after he & my nine year old got into a huge argument like they have been multiple times daily for the lAst month. Spicy is the perfect description for our little clan. Thank you for the Sasquatch comment, too, because I'm pretty sure my kids are gonna reenact that very scene in the near future.
Vicki - August 29th, 2013 at 5:41 PM
WWAVD? Bwahahahaha!
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 5:45 PM
I love this so much. You are awesome!
Jessica - August 29th, 2013 at 5:46 PM
Jen Hatmaker, I love you. Keep on rockin'
Naomi - August 29th, 2013 at 5:55 PM
We're probably what seems like a sweet family. My kids are well-behaved when we're around other people, and I, of course, am much more motivated to seem nice when other people are watching. They're very princessy little girls, and I'm a people-pleaser.

But honestly, my kids can act like half-insane gibbons at home. They can be so mean to each other. And me, oh, I can yell like a drunk Norseman in a battle rage. It's even possible that I do it multiple times per day. I'm so cranky sometimes, and my kids are kind of neurotic, and the two just feed each other.

So, from a member of a "sweet" family, I really needed to hear this, too.
Kim - September 2nd, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Thank you Naomi! This was as good for me as the original post. Also - wwjhd is my new motto!
Donna - September 4th, 2013 at 9:41 PM
Ok Naomi -- that was HYSTERICAL. And SO my family. Thanks for that!
Sweet Family Wanna Be
Angie - August 29th, 2013 at 6:01 PM
This post was impeccably timed....just this afternoon I picked my kids up from after school care and my two boys burst through the doors of the cafeteria mid-wrestle and rolled around on the floor. I calmly pulled them apart...never breaking my conversation with another mother. They weren't angry with each other, just playing. Spicy we are...and spicy we will remain! And I think I'm gonna be ok with that. ;)
vanessa - August 29th, 2013 at 6:10 PM
Good job, Mama. Yes.
Alisa - August 29th, 2013 at 6:13 PM
WWAVD...Thank you for giving me a "bust out" laugh today. Love u. Wish you lived next door.
wayside wanderer - August 31st, 2013 at 5:15 PM
Wahahaha...."WWAVD?? (What would Ann Voskamp do?)" this was my favorite line.
We are spicy but we are a QUIET spicy. It can happen...
Sarah - August 29th, 2013 at 6:17 PM
I believe sweet/spicy is irrelevant. What matters is our saltiness.
Karin - August 29th, 2013 at 9:48 PM
Jen, thank you. I love my family--we are spicy and fun and loud and not sensitive or gentle. I have battled the spiciness in our house (as I am very sweet and gentle) and it is exhausting. Some days I give in to it and have to then battle the guilt I feel when I get "the look" from others. I have a masters degree, chose to stay at home for 10 years, and have taken the love and logic parenting course AND read numerous Christian parenting books. I have read the Bible twice and I PRAY for my family. You have offered a wonderful piece of encouragement for me today which is to love and offer grace w/a healthy sense of humor when I can...blessings to you and your beautiful family!
Tiffany - August 29th, 2013 at 6:35 PM
This has been the hardest day in my parenting journey with my newly adopted son. Thought I was going to freakin' lose it. This blog was as good as escaping for a pedicure.
Shelly - August 29th, 2013 at 6:44 PM
Love this! We are spicy disguised as sweet, through the use of sarcasm. And I keep myself awake at nights worrying that my children really don't understand the use of sarcasm, and that I've pretty much scared them for life!
Vickie - August 29th, 2013 at 6:49 PM
This post came up on Facebook and perfect timing as my kids are running and screaming and acting like dogs, when they are supposed to be cleaning the house as punishment for "softly" throwing a high heeled shoe through the window.....Good thing I like a little Spicy in my life!! (or a LOT Spicy)
My mom has always told me it is not how the kids act for me that counts but how they act for others....not sure I always believe that but I try! :)
Nicole - August 29th, 2013 at 7:12 PM
I loved this so much! As the mom of 9 ages from 17 to 2, you can only imagine the spiciness that goes on here! I have said for a while now that we need to start a bail fund for the baby!
Norma Gilpin - August 29th, 2013 at 7:31 PM
I am 66 and a mother of 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. My younger daughter hooked me up with your FB page. I LOVE your blogs! Most mothers suffer from intense feelings of 'not doing it right.' Your hilarious takes on all these oh-so-normal family carryings-on surely helps any mom look at her family's behavior with a less jaundiced eye! And I may be a long way from the "how many are 2 lions & one giraffe" homework questions, but boy! can I ever remember similar baffling (apparently) homework assignments with the kids! God bless you and your wonderful family!
Trixie - August 29th, 2013 at 7:33 PM
Is that what this is called, spicey? It feels like expensive, in many ways.
Randi - August 29th, 2013 at 8:00 PM
WWAVD. Perfect. I can't even with her blogs. My husband and son are of the sweet kind and my daughter and I are definitely on the spicy end. Most days my prayer at the end of the day is simply thanking God she and I both made it there alive. Bless her.
Maya - August 29th, 2013 at 8:07 PM
Love love love this post! After a week that I have totally felt myself comparing our parenting to others, this was so refreshing. We are close friends with a family on the sweet side and our family swings heavily on the spicy side. Refreshing reminder to keep my mind on God, and stop comparing!
Adryan - August 29th, 2013 at 8:11 PM
So needed these words today. After a frustrating session of practicing reading today, I heard my seven year old with autism shout (as he slammed his door) "I'm a big piece of crap" The wheels came off somewhere with my parenting, right? Probably not. Good to know that I am REDEEMED. And my son is, too. And that I am not the only one. Thank you, Jesus. And Jen Hatmaker.
LRF - August 29th, 2013 at 8:13 PM
Thanks for this article. I have two VERY energetic boys & I have lost it as their mom too many times to count & am so thankful for God's grace. Just today, we went to preschool orientation & my son was the only one who decided to lay spread eagled on the circle time rug in the middle of the teacher's talk (which was less than 5 minutes) as if he couldn't handle it~all the other children were either sitting on their own or with their parents quietly listening, mine wiggled & did the lay down thing...me I 'm thinking really? Couldn't he just sit for more than a minute just once...why is my kid the only one who....fill in the blank depending on the day & circumstance:) Your article however, made me pause & remember that this little guy is also the one who comes up to me at random times (especially after being naughty:) and says I just wanted to give you a hug...so there is good & there is "bad"/hard but God is in it all & I love my rambunctious, best friends one second then best enemies the next boys, love my babies a whole ton:) Thanks again for this awesome uplifting article!!!
Stacey - August 29th, 2013 at 8:13 PM
You have ministered to this Momma's sore heart. Thank you. I needed your words.
Holly - September 7th, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Mine too! Mom of 12 crazy beautiful loves.
Bard Judith - August 29th, 2013 at 8:19 PM
We are sweet and salty. Like trail mix.
Plenty of assorted nuts, some healthy textured granola,
a lot of chocolate, and maybe a few dried bananas. There
are days when it feels like only the pretzels are left. And
there are days that you chip a tooth on the stale almond.
But on the whole it is pretty nourishing and sustaining!
Misty Bradley - August 29th, 2013 at 9:29 PM
Judith, that's a brilliant analogy!
Jodi Riedel - August 29th, 2013 at 8:22 PM
There you are, right when I need you...how you do that??? I just love you... thank you for this....I found that I only "thought" I was the only mom permanently scaring my children, until I was wisely advised to talk to other moms, as I was so ashamed of my "mom fails" I never talked to anyone, which only reinforced my isolation, once I started talking to other moms and not worrying (so much) about being vulnerable, I found out other moms are going thru or have gone thru or will go thru the EXACT SAME THINGS!!!
Bethany - August 29th, 2013 at 8:34 PM
So good. I'm in a covenant group, and we're five pastor's wives. I think - no I'm sure - that I'm the only Spicy Mama in there (to be fair, also the only one with three kids as of yet), and I don' t get it. They never even raise their voice... So to WWJHD: Solidarity. Also, only the devil has the job to be the accuser, so yes, let's not ever join him. I did watch some home video the other day, and I sounded really, really nice. It's working. God's forgiveness where we get it wrong, God's blessing where we get it right.
Shana - August 29th, 2013 at 8:44 PM
WWAVD . . . I couldn't love that more. I laughed out loud. Thanks for all the great reminders!
God Bless,
Shana (mother of 6)
Daniela - August 29th, 2013 at 9:09 PM
OH LAWD I laughed out loud at this. I so condemn myself, when I start to compare... On a co-family holiday our friends child brought her knitting basket. My boys brought candy and guns. We are loud, we applaud each others burping skills (the two year old is the champion), I yell too much, but love even louder, I pray this is enough to cover the dysfunctional, beautiful mess we call home. Thanks for this, sometimes you think you are the only one.
Joy - August 29th, 2013 at 9:11 PM
After a sorrowful day, this is exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for not only the truth but the humor in telling it. I smiled.
Lisa - August 29th, 2013 at 9:13 PM
Spicy momma here. To keep my kids humble and appreciative of every day God gives them, I usually put them to bed with a line from The Princess Bride: "Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."
Cate - August 29th, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I laughed so hard at this! It is certain to be in my daughter's future!
Kitty - August 31st, 2013 at 4:04 PM
That made me laugh so hard my eyes teared up, bless your heart.
Lesa - September 17th, 2013 at 10:31 PM
BWHAHAHA! I laughed until I cried when I read this. So perfect!
Diana Trautwein - August 29th, 2013 at 9:19 PM
Oh, lawd, yes! That inner critic?? She is closely related to the Crazy Lady I wrote about at Deeper Family last week - and they are our ENEMIES. Yes, they are. This is wonderful (as always) but I'm going to shout something right here and I hope you pay attention to it, okay? PLEASE MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR POSTS BY EMAIL? Okay. I feel better now.
Olivia - August 30th, 2013 at 7:54 AM
You could choose a blog reader so all the posts of your saved blogs are in one place. I use Bloglovin & can access it from phone or computer. You'll never miss a post.
monica - August 29th, 2013 at 9:24 PM
Spicy bunch at this house. I like to tell them I'll pay for their therapy later.
Misty Bradley - August 29th, 2013 at 9:32 PM
Jen, nothing you could say would be more refreshing to me than this right here. I wish you could have said it to me at about 4:45pm today when I thought I would lose my Mama badge for freaking out over my daughter's freakout. Somewhere right in the middle of me asking why she had to freak out and then realizing that I was modeling it so well for her! oy vey!
Bonita - August 29th, 2013 at 9:35 PM
We're spicy!! And my 4 feral children grew up to give me 5 feral grandchildren so far. Life...and God...is good.
Patty - August 29th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
I'm so glad I found you. Jesus knew just what I needed
Judy - August 29th, 2013 at 9:44 PM
Conversation in the car after discussing the merits of one truck over another......true story......14yr old son to 12 yr old son........at least our mom is not a complete dud........she knows when a truck has cool wheels. Whew! Saved by the wheels!!!!!! Seriously, I just died laughing! Another category you could add is the ones that only eat organic and exercise regularly, and avoid food dyes..........although I truly WANT to be like these sweet and healthy people.........oh well, at least I know cool wheels when I see them;)
Jody - August 29th, 2013 at 9:45 PM
We're spicy. I've locked my son outside in his underwear because he wasn't listening. Then he ran down the street.
Amy - August 31st, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Love this, Jody! I can picture this exact scenario happening to some dear, spicy friends!
Jackie - August 29th, 2013 at 9:48 PM
Love this! While I would like to think of our family as sweet I think we probably fall into the spicy family category. :)
ellie - August 29th, 2013 at 9:56 PM
haha I hear ya! but you do have to wonder how those families are so sweet . . . .
Tom - August 29th, 2013 at 9:59 PM
My wife sent me this link because of recent late night conversations (yes, I'm a dude), and I gotta say: spoke volumes. We just moved and for the summer I've been the stay at home dad so my wife can settle in with her new promotion and it can stay flexible and easy at home. So for everyday of the last 3 months I've really gotten to understand a bit of what it's like not just to come home to, but be INUNDATED from sunrise to sunset. Every. Day. I'll be honest, we prbly have more of the sweet home, BUT not without the constant worry and self-doubt that pervades all regardless of what your family is. Anyhoo, you're main line says it all, If I'm worried this much, I'm prbly doing fine and the kids aren't screwed. I will cherish this. It triggered a release inside of me. Equally important, I feel, is my reinforced respect for moms or any parent who stays at home for the welfare of the kids. It is soooo much easier to work all day lol. Sorry for the novel
Cynthia - August 30th, 2013 at 3:53 PM
Thank you Tom for your response. Not quite as nice as hearing from my hubby, "Is is sooo much easier to work all day" but I will take this thought and cherish it, lol, as if he understands this reality. I have done both. And am currently at home with a spicy 10 year old (1 very spicy 19 year shipped back to college last week before we both killed each other; 2 semi-spicy kiddos out of the house). It is soooo much easier to work all day. Glad you get to experience the glory!
Amy - August 29th, 2013 at 10:06 PM
I do the single version of this all the time. Instead of family, insert "I". I should be more precious, quiet, etc. I should knit. I should... Well, you get the point. Anyway, thanks for writing this!
Megan - August 29th, 2013 at 10:10 PM
My mother reminds me that I must be a good parent if I am calling her in tears bc I am worried I am not good enough. Worrying about it indicates caring and that is ENOUGH. We all screw it up on a daily basis but we keep on trucking and that is ENOUGH.

Daily prayers include asking God to let my children survive my failures and thrive on the good stuff I do do. Thanks for the reminder!


Brandi - August 29th, 2013 at 10:25 PM
There is a group of moms that meet at my house on Thursdays. As the college students come back, we are hoping the ladies will join us in between their classes to just do life together and so we can get to know them better. This post is just the kind of thing we were discussing this morning! I was saying how important it is that, if one of our kids is throwing a tantrum that particular day, DON'T LEAVE! The college ladies, and heck... us, too, for that matter... need to see it. They need to see us parent well AND parent badly... and then see what we do when we do parent badly. My hope is that, when they see us have to go to our children and ask for forgiveness, they will then remember it when they become moms. They will see us doing it right and doing it wrong, and they won't spend motherhood thinking they are the only ones who mess up!
Roxanne - August 29th, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Oh, wow! I thought my four boys were the only ones to tie their shirts around their heads like that! I was sure the neighbors would think we were declaring jihad......yes, we are that spicy family of four wild boys! I so relate to this post and appreciate your redirection! There are moments of greatness woven in also!! Thank you!!
Julie - August 29th, 2013 at 11:49 PM
As a SPICY, displaced-Southern mom (who broke free from the "Southern= swee"t lie about 15 years ago) who has 4 SPICY children (my two year old son being the spiciest of the bunch- watch out!) I regularly feel sorry for my introverted, not-as-spicy husband and our sweet neighbors.

I loved your quote: "Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy."

Preach. It. Nothing moves us out of the protective covering of grace and mercy faster than sticking our heads out to do some self destructive self-comparison.

God made me and my family spicy and when the heat is up and the crazy comes out, we feel His good pleasure.



Maggie - August 30th, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Thanks for being so honest, Jen Hatmaker. Your words are like a laser than shines through all the chaos and pinpoints what is real, what is true, what is hysterical, what is honest about life and raising kids. I look forward to reading everything you write.
Elisa@LoveRaiseTeach - August 30th, 2013 at 12:49 AM
We have a combo of sweet & spicy in our family. Mostly, I think, people see us as sweet...but I know better - LOL! I know that even in a home with 3 girls (one who wants to grow up to be a princess or a pop-star) things can get spicy!

I always worry that I'm not doing enough and feel terrible that I know nothing about the outdoors, camping and all those things spicy families do! I do feel that the spicy families have all the fun...BUT then I realize we have fun too, and that there's always room for learning new things...and if we never go camping...I think we will be OK :)
Tyler - August 30th, 2013 at 3:03 AM
This is awesome. My wife is constantly raving about your writings and I can clearly see why. Keep writing these nuggets of ingeniousness!!!
Endrea - August 30th, 2013 at 3:10 AM
This comes at such a great time! I've been so tired lately of trying so hard... the spotless house that is NEVER attainable, endless laundry, budgeting, dieting, teenagers, volunteering, the spiritual walk !! This week I thought if I can't be the best (meeting everyone's expectations) at it... Maybe I can be the worst and anything from there is improvement and an accomplishment instead of feeling of constant failure! Thank you for reminding me that none of us are perfect... And that Sweet and Spicy is also a flavor and I am okay with being a Sweet and Sour family with a Spicy kick. It's all delicious and not wrong. My 8 year old son quoted back to me something that I have always said to him "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying" which are famous words of Michael Jordan. I think I just need a vacation to revive and refresh :)
Jay - September 15th, 2013 at 9:42 PM
If you can't physically get away, find the Engedi in your mind. Engedi is a place in the Bible David used to hide from king Saul. It is a lush oasis in the desert. Find your mental place to escape. Hope this helps.
Michele - August 30th, 2013 at 5:56 AM
Love this post! excellent stuff... and most importantly, children all across america are now trying that awesome T-shirt terrorist look before school... good fun! ;-)
Ann Voskamp - August 30th, 2013 at 6:19 AM
JEN!
WAIT!
STOP. THE. PRESS.

Oh, girl. I am SO with YOU. We are definitely and undeniably a spicy family. Sure, the kids can break into "How Great Thou Art" at the ocean --- and then break into WWIII in the van just down the road because some goofy kid won't stop burping and snorting real loud in his sleeping sister's ear.

So yeah: A mother's labor and delivery never ends -- you never have to stop remembering to BREATHE.

And MAN. Toss WWAVD as far as you can throw it, because that'll lead you to hollering and teeth grinding and crazy rants -- and a whole lot of repentance. Deep breath :) I just keep coming back to the fact the kids don't need a Super Mom --- like they need a mom who needs a Super God. That's where this mess of a girl signs up -- just needing Jesus, a whole big spicy family of 8 wildly and desperately needing one very Sweet Savior.

Five Star, Standing OVATION post that this mama who struggles daily with failure really needed. Crazy grateful for knowing WJHMWD :)

Love you to to the moon and back and round a hog's hind leg, sister...
ann
Jen Hatmaker - August 30th, 2013 at 8:31 AM
YOU ARE MY FAVORITE IN THE WHOLE WORLD, ANN VOSKAMP!!! I love you, sister. And I don't care what you say: I'm hanging on to WWAVD. I want to be like you and you can't stop me. In the meantime, can't wait to get my hands on you in a couple of weeks. Sit by me. I want to hog you. XO for infinity.
Michelle - August 30th, 2013 at 9:21 AM
This is a fun exchange between the 2 of you. Makes me smile a lot!!! Love reading both your blogs even though they are very differently written! I think you both ROCK IT for Jesus! Thanks for sharing a bit of your lives and perspective with us. Love you both!!!
Tiffany - August 31st, 2013 at 12:25 PM
AMEN to both of you! I love both of your writings and what I love most is that they are "real!"

I have to keep reminding myself that God has used the hard things in my life to draw me closer to him. I pray the same is true for my children. I will never be perfect and I just pray that he will redeem those failures for His glory and so that they may know Him more intimately than they would if I was "Super Mom!"
Carolyn - August 30th, 2013 at 7:37 PM
This exchange makes me smile because I love Ann's writing and honesty and didn't quite know what to do with WWAVD...;) My SIL sent me over here today and I will continue to read you because my kiddos and I are very spicy and I battle those negative comparisons All.The.Time.
Emily - September 5th, 2013 at 2:54 PM
Oh my goodness, this makes me happy. You two ladies are the only two bloggers I read...and you're like the flip sides of the same coin. Sweet and Spicy - both writing about the same amazing God who we all love. You each encourage me so much.

And Sweet Ann, you can try and tell us that you're spicy... no one's buying it ;) xoxoxo
Amy K - August 30th, 2013 at 6:45 AM
I have always felt so sorry for the "in laws" in my family (my husband included). My family would be termed loud and crazy (or spicy). I have the sweetest sister in law who has been married to my brother for nearly 40 years. I truly don't know how she survived so long. And know all of my nieces and nephew are getting married. And the first time they brought their boyfriends/girlfriend to Christmas, we all, in unison, say the same thing...."I'm sorry!" (For all the cray cray!!!) Lol!!!!
Angel - August 30th, 2013 at 6:45 AM
Love it! We are a spicy family.
Polly - August 30th, 2013 at 7:27 AM
This was so good. Reminds me of the truth that I am my own worst critic and that I'm really doing fine. I just recently got married and inherited 3 step children that I take care of half the week. I come from a big loud homeschooling family where we all talked and yelled out our problems. We were also raised pretty strictly and girls heavily outnumbered boys. Suddenly everything is completely different and I feel as if everything I've ever known to be right about family has been turned upside down and that I always say the wrong things. I get so frustrated by the spiciness that is so different than my own! (My husband is so not spicy, and sometimes i have to just yell. Poor guy!) Almost like the ugly duckling who appears to be babysitting in her own home. It's been a heck of a ride. And my self condemnation, especially after I've been swearing under my breath hiding in the bathroom, is through the roof. I tried reading AV. I had to unsubscribe bc I felt so guilty! I also feel guilty bc i do care for these kids but many times dont feel very loving. One never imagines having to deal with insecure preteen boys and stubborn inarticulate 6 yr old princesses when they fall in love! What wAs i thinking? I wasnt. But now this is what it is. So how do i become the christlike stepmom? Just keep going and say to hell with the condemnation. :) My pastor asked me if ours was a happy home. And I have to say that mostly, regardless of ex drama and normal kid angst, it pretty much is. It's me that gets exhausted from shutting my mouth all the time. Anyway, that helps me keep some semblance of reality. But these thoughts and comments all helped. Might have to bookmark the page!
Wendy - August 30th, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Step-parenting is hard & step-parents are unsung heroes who very rarely get any of the credit. As a 13 year veteran there are still nights I go to bed, thankful only to have survived the day & there are days filled with sunshine. If you are feeling this way then you care deeply & you are doing way better than you think. Good luck Polly :0)
maggie - August 30th, 2013 at 7:52 AM
Oh my God. I don't even PRETEND my kids art is pretty. I recycle it when they're not looking. I might as well show them how to roll a fatty and liquify the college funds for rehab.
Tammy - August 30th, 2013 at 9:39 AM
Maggie, I laughed so hard when I read your comment. My sisters-in-law & I have talked about the 529 college-funding tax plan and the 539 therapy-funding tax plan. REALLY?? We all feel that way, but your comment just hit my funny bone so hard!
Kristi` - September 2nd, 2013 at 7:21 AM
Maggie, you ROCK. This was hilarious!!!
Miriam Williams - August 30th, 2013 at 8:02 AM
This is SO funny, transparent and wise...I love it! Thank you for sharing, you made my day!!! I think our family is somewhere in between, but I do doubt myself sooooo much and it is just silly. Love your heart.
Debi - August 30th, 2013 at 8:13 AM
Loved this Jen! You must be reading my spicy family of 8 mind and mail :) thanks for being authentic I gravitate towards people like u because your not perfect! Neither am I meet you at the feet of Jesus when we hit heaven!
Leslie - August 30th, 2013 at 8:18 AM
I can't even tell you how many times I've used the phrase, "It's like they've declared anarchy on us!" in the past few weeks. They're 5 and 2. I honestly didn't think it was possible to question my sanity as much I have recently, and to feel like we're doing everything wrong. Glad to know I'm not alone!
Carmen - August 30th, 2013 at 8:29 AM
from one Spicy Mama to another- Thank you! My soul needed this!!
Patricia - August 30th, 2013 at 8:30 AM
SO... all I wanna know is HOW TO DO THAT THING WITH THE TEES????? !!!!!!!
betsy - August 30th, 2013 at 8:46 AM
We are a sweet family (sappy sweet) and I'll tell you what goes on at our house...judgment and oversensitivity. My kids are SO stinkin judgmental of others who are "wild" and they are way too sensitive and get their feelings her ALL THE TIME. So...even though we are peaceful as can be on the outside, our hearts are raging idol factories of self control, intelligence and self image. Ugh! Why can't we just relax and be wild sometimes!
Megan - August 30th, 2013 at 8:54 AM
Love this! Thanks for your transparency and encouragement to all parents!!!
Cassie - August 30th, 2013 at 9:23 AM
Thank you for sharing this. We are a spicy family also. We are rough around the edges. I have two boys who keep us laughing with their daily wrestling matches in the living room. What is not so good is when we have those in the grocery store or in someone's house...and I get angry, embarrassed, and stressed... I feel like people are judging me and I begin to lose my cool. I begin to get aggravated with my precious boys but they are being boys, who are tough and rough, but who will one day probably protect me or there own precious family. They will grow up to be funny, outgoing, and godly men. Everyone can not be sweet and calm all the time...So thanks for saying that being spicy is ok. I love my precious family and this really helped me today! It's ok to be different and spicy:))
Daniella - August 30th, 2013 at 9:43 AM
This was amazing and spot on! Thank you.
I'm the SPICY mama, but single mama which means I have to try and balance the spicy and sweet...which can be exhausting!
People always compliment my kids and say how polite and well-behaved they are (inside my head I'm like, "what? really? you should see them at home!"). We are truly our own worst critics, but your words today will help me to step outside myself and really take stock of my words and action with my children and find the good rather than obsessing on the short-comings.

Katherine - August 30th, 2013 at 9:47 AM
I don't have any kids, but love animals. Is that the same kind of thing?
Dolphins don't really want to swim with us...do they? Keep smiling folks as this bunch of kids coming up are the cutest ever and I'm sure glad I don't have to compete with them...funny or not funny,,,,keep laughing and enjoying the good times as soon the kids will be teens ....and then what?
Tricia - August 30th, 2013 at 10:18 AM
Hi Jen,
One of my FB book friends linked to your post this morning, so I read your blog. It's fantastic! You're a wonderful writer! Our family is semi-spicy, loves Jesus too and also has one adopted kiddo and one not-adopted kiddo, so your blog has been especially affirming and fun for me to read. And you're hilarious!

As I was reading (and relating) to your post this morning, an idea struck me that has been churning around in my head lately about my role in my kids lives. You may or may not agree, but I hope it encourages you...

I've spent most of my kids lives thinking, as you wrote, "We are responsible for whole human lives here." While we definitely play a huge part, lately I've started to wonder if this idea is just another one of Satan's lies, and a reflection of our individualistic, self-centered culture. Maybe this giant burden is not from God but from us. I wonder if, when I'm thinking "I'm totally responsible for another human. The buck stops here. I'm all they've got." God is saying to me, "No way crazy lady. Actually I am responsible for whole human lives here. Not you. Yes, I'm even talking about your kids. Those kids who I love more than you do, seriously. Please step away from my throne (again)."

At least I really hope so, because if I'm all they've got, they're doomed, even on my best days. When I think about God being in control of my kids lives, I feel the tenseness start to ease out of my parent-worrying muscles. At least for 10-15 seconds until I forget again.

Now please excuse me while I go stop my crawling daughter from playing with a plastic bag.


Jo - October 5th, 2013 at 11:33 PM
I think you are right on w/your thinking. It is sooo like us to take that roll or burden on our shoulders, but it's not ours to carry. Don't we flippantly spout, "By the grace of God..." for everything under the sun, BUT NOT HOW OUR KIDS TURN OUT. We think we've got to do that all and still look happy and perky and sane!
Unfortunately, I have found out the hard way, that God is God and no matter what I have tried to pour into my children, they still have their freewill. God knows their hearts and their motives and HE WILL HAVE HIS WAY w/them... and sometimes, that takes us mommas on a crash course to our knees, sobbing! Sunday School, Church, AWANA, home schooling, etc.... they still can go astray. BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD, HE will not be mocked. Like you said, He loves them way more than we could even imagine! He is doing mighty things ALWAYS, we just need to go back under that umbrella of grace and not try and shoulder what is NOT ours to shoulder. He does a much better job, anyways!!
Kari - August 30th, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Haha!! Love this! I am definitely spicy. OOOOOOH so spicy. I am comforted knowing I'm not the only one. I have to say the one thing I love about being spicy is hearing all the hilarious come backs my kids have! Wow! I think a few of them made me laugh so hard in the midst of a conflict that it is the ONLY reason they stayed alive. It's wrong. I should be more grown up. hehe!
leslie - August 30th, 2013 at 10:39 AM
I'm not a Mom yet, but I know I will remember to return to these words when I am one. Honestly, I applied almost every piece of the truth you spoke to how I feel about who I am as a friend and especially as a Camp Director. I look back on the summer wondering if I was kind to anyone. i know this cannot be the truth. Thank you for these words:

"...condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy. And it is harsh out there, debilitating actually. If your inner monologue is constantly critical, endlessly degrading, it may be time to move a few feet back under the umbrella of grace. For there the yoke is easy and the burden is light. Then we can breathe and assess our own parenting (or for me, working self) with the same kindness we extend to others."

I cannot tell you what a gift it is to be pointed back to the Truth and the Author of it given the season I find my heart in at this time. These words are salve to my wounds, given to me by my own condemning voice. Thank you for sharing your lives with others for the sake of bringing and sharing hope to many.
Jo - August 30th, 2013 at 11:43 AM
I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee and a sad, lonely house (the second twin just left for college this morning) reflecting on our family dynamics through the years. We are Chocolate Covered Jalapenos--with Sprinkles. From the time my kiddos were little, they learned the "rules" of life in this family. We kept our crazy wild fun to the confines of home - I'm talking jumping on the furniture, swinging from the rafters bedroom walls full of stickers full body paint crazy. When we emerged from the confines of home, we were still fun (I did say SPRINKLES did I not?), only with a lovely chocolate sheen to it. When they were little, the oft repeated saying was, "OK....WHERE WOULD YOU NOT NOT NOT DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW ????" and they would reply nearly in unison.....Grandma's House, School, Church, blah blah blah. Before we went into any store, we would "Get the Beggings Out". This meant we would sit in the car and bounce and yell at the top of our lungs (me too!) "I WANT THAT YOU NEVER LET ME HAVE ANYTHING PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I'LL NEVER ASK FOR ANOTHER THING AS LONG AS I LIVE!" And with that out of the way we'd shop, and if one of them would slip into that mode, I'd act horrified and say "Oh my goodness! Is that a Begging in your mouth?! I thought we got those all out in the car! Quick--put it somewhere where it can't get out!" And I would offer my purse or my sleeve or a roll of paper towel for the now giggling child to speak into to "get rid of the Begging". Crisis averted. We have so many games/rituals/inside jokes with our kids (to this day, we can't go over a speed bump in a parking lot without everyone raising their hands to the ceiling and yelling , "whoo-hoo!!!" So Jalapeno families take heart and take note.......learn the Chocolate Dipping art of Divert, Distract, Replace. Most of the inappropriate wildest stuff comes out during times of boredom, wouldn't you agree? Making it safe to be wild SOMETIMES and then tempering it or diverting it with something just as fun or funny makes for a more satisfying ride for everyone. Practice good behavior...and bad in outrageous funny over the top ways (at home, of course)....do it with them - they want to know you have a looser side too! Trust that they will be great..and you are too - and start reminding them... Say "Thanks Mom, You're So Incredibly Great It's Incredible" aloud FOR them as often as possible and soon they will say it on their own!
Angelina - January 17th, 2014 at 12:19 AM
I just loved, and needed, this post so much! And your comment, Jo, brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face! I have so many syrupy sweet families around me and struggle in the muck of comparison often. Jo, your advice is practical and fun, thank you! And I pay for your mama heart in this new, and quiet, season, that you will find unexpected and overwhelming joy in it. :)
Jana - August 30th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Awesome piece - thank you!
Jeanie - August 30th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Haha! I needed this! Just yesterday, I decided I had HAD IT with our family. I had decided that we were from that point onward, going to be courteous, dignified, kind, gentle. Spent most of the day and evening correcting my kids and explaining to them that there would be no more armpit farting contests, especially not in public, no talking about farts or poop, no purposefully exaggerating belches or farts for the fun of it, etc. etc. I was determined that if my four girls don't learn to act somewhat ladylike, they will end up continuing to be loud, gross, (spicy) and would attract beer-gutted, loud-belching, disrespectful boys/men...and nobody would want to be around us. They laughed as someone ripped a big one right in the middle of my attempted lessons on manners. Eventually, I think they all decided I was crazy, went downstairs to watch Dr. Who, and I went to bed. ROFL!
Jo - August 30th, 2013 at 1:22 PM
Jeanie - lectures never work...even you didn't want to listen to it, LOL Instead, perhaps try this:

Announce to your girls that next time they feel the need to do this in public, you will do the following: Then get up on a chair and clap your hands and say very loudly, "Attention everybody!! Let me show you the cool things my lovely dainty and accomplished daughters just taught me how to do!!"

And tell them that you will give the most phenomenal belching, farting, artificial fart under the arm street concert while introducing each act by loudly proclaiming, "I call this one The Lindsay--and here she is folks! A round of applause, please--you're in the presence of greatness!!"

Nothing quite takes the fun out of inappropriate public outbursts as the threat of Mom calling you out in the most embarrassing way possible. When you're out and about and things are getting out of control, all you'll need to do is say enthusiastically, "It's concert time!!! Where's a chair?" and they will be begging you for a chance to show you they can behave.

Of course it never hurts to teach the "pretty girl" techniques for such...... eruptions. You know, the genteel giggle with hand raised to mouth to conceal a dainty toot or small delicate burp? Best when demonstrated by Dads....it's a hoot!
Lee - August 30th, 2013 at 11:48 AM
At a couple of weeks from 81 years of age, and with the youngest of four fixin' to turn 40 this year, I find it interesting to note that the concern about one's job of parenting never goes completely away.
Jaymi - August 30th, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Hi Jen,
Last spring I took a parenting class with some dear friends from church. They are wonderful people but I came away questioning everything I do as a parent. I can't count the number of times I found myself thinking I was a failure (I know this is a lie!). I never thought I was failing before the class, just thought it was hard but trusted that God gave me exactly what I needed every day to be the mom of my 5 kids. Suddenly the way to discipline, how my kids should act around other adults, and how I should be teaching and training them took over and I felt overwhelmed and sunk into, "I'm doing it wrong, I'm failing my kids." Your post helped me recognize the lies I was believing. I am a good mom even though I have very spicy children! God will use it for His glory!

PS- I had another dream last night that I was hired as your nanny (not sure who was going to watch my own kids!) Don't be alarmed but you did have a baby and you rode a unicycle to work. (No sewing in this dream...that was last time =)
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