This post is day 9. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.
falling forward design logo
A child’s world comes apart quite literally in transition. The train track is taken apart and put in a box, the bed dismantled and wrapped in paper. There is an undoing and a breaking in their worlds in this time, and truthfully, it is happening in our world as well. We may not have the same innocence a child has to acknowledge it, but it is there.

Our children need words of life to build their souls in this breaking, we need words of life to build our souls in this breaking. 

Put on your shoes, quick! These are the words that come naturally to me, I am a rusher, I like getting things done, a child’s pace is approximately 10000 times slower than the speed at which I want my to-list accomplished. But I have learned the very hard way the power my words and my attitude have in building or destroying my children. The very, very, very hard way. I feel the need to say this again today, I make these mistakes almost every day. Speaking words of life is an intentional, character-forming, tongue-restraining, control of my natural impulses in every way. It is not easy, it is not natural, but it is a choice. This is good news because as long as I am alive, I can make a different choice, I can choose to speak life and turn away from words that push and rush and from words that hurt and destroy.

I can think of fewer things that put life, joy and vitality back into my children and husband than affirming words. The only way I am able to intentionally speak words of life over them is to slow myself down. I don’t need to hurry them, my words can build them, and my words can show them that they are seen and known.

When he called and asked me to put his socks on after trying and I want to get out the door, You tried so hard to put your sock on, I am so proud of you.

When we arrive exhausted at a restaurant, but I still want to keep driving, That car ride was so long, I can see that you were hot in your car seat. Thank you for your patience.

When I cannot believe I have to deal with yet another aggressive move on the playground, I see you are sad to lose your toys, but you may not hit and take this other boys’ toys even when you are sad. Come to me and tell me about your sadness, we can talk about it together.

When it is way past dinner time and bed time and it’s Child Fall Apart time but an AirBnB host has messed up our booking, I know it is late and you are tired, we are doing everything we can to get the key to the guest house. Papa is trying to get a new SIM card to make a phone call about the key, we have to wait together right now. We are a family, we are a team, and we are in this together. We can do it.

Your spouse needs to know you can see what causes them stress, and they need to know that you know when you are the one contributing to their stress. It is humbling, it can be exhausting, but it leads to a tired but tried trust.

Thank you for taking the time to sort out the visa application. I really appreciate that.

The garden looks fantastic, thank you for all the time you spent working on it.

I said I would call the airline, but I forgot. I know that adds work to our schedule, I am sorry.

Gentle, patient, building words provide a rhythm of grace and kindness for our family. It makes the pace of our lives manageable in a season that carries with it inherent stress. I have to fight daily to find these words, but it is worth it.

Now it’s your turn: Who needs words of life in your world right now? What words can you speak over them? Do you need words of life yourself? Where can you find them?


This post is day 8. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.

falling forward design logo

So you’ve felt angry, the grief overwhelms you at times, there is an unexplicable sadness in your heart when you think about your losses, and then what? How long does it last? How can you get over it? I want to tell you, Expect negative emotions. Accept negative emotions.

I didn’t say to accept negative behavior – for anyone who is wondering – there is no justification for angry words or actions or passive aggressive conversations or hurtful ways of behaving. Those things will always be wrong, requiring humility and repentance to turn from them, and forgiveness to make things right with the people we have wounded.

But negative emotions are different from negative actions. Emotions are feelings caused by our circumstances, and while we cannot allow our life to be determined by them, we have to acknowledge our anger. We have to honor our grief. We can allow our emotions to lead us to places in our hearts that we must face for the work of wholeness to take place in our lives. 

Talk to someone about how you are feeling, preferably not someone who is in the transition with you because they have their own set of negative emotions. It has been crucial for me to find women who are not connected with our transition, friends in Sweden, friends in Germany and friends in other places, to whom I can vent. Irrationally. Negatively. Anything I want to let out, I let it out to them, they are a safe place for these negative feelings. I am angry because I don’t want to move. I am so sad. Life with kids is disappointing and discouraging. Find safe people who can handle the full weight of your emotions but who do not try to fix you or explain your emotions away.

Accepting my negative feelings and acknowledging them to someone else is the door to letting those feelings out of my life.

For those of you who are parents, I want to tell you to expect negative – very negative – emotions and behaviors from your kids during a move. When we moved from Switzerland to Sweden, Big Boy was only two years old. We moved everything out of our apartment, and the boys and I stayed separately at a new place for a week while Husband went to Sweden to start unpacking. Big Boy woke up five to seven times in the night almost every night, and this is after he had been sleeping through the night for well over a year. He woke up more than our newborn did. I was blind with fatigue and frustrated out of my mind. I wish I could tell you I was gracious and patient. I was not. I did not realize how afraid and unsettled he must have been, he had lost his only home and watched his physical life get packed into boxes, and he was apart from his Papa for the longest stretch ever in his life.

This move we’ve dealt with tantrums, defiance, all kinds of controlling weirdness with food and sleep and many other things. Yes, there are certain behaviors we cannot tolerate. But our kids need their fears acknowledged. My sons need to know that they can be sad about leaving their home. They do not need to move on. Right now, it is time to grieve.


They need to hear me give words to their emotions when they do not have the vocabulary for it yet, Are you sad because we are not in the yellow house anymore? You are angry because you don’t have your toys here. You don’t want to say goodbye to your friends. You are sad about leaving Sweden.

And they need to hear me honestly express my own emotions about this move. I was getting ready for our going away party by hanging up lanterns when Big Boy came up to me. He was distressed because he had accidentally broken one of his shoes. But I could tell it was something else, he was falling apart completely. We had set out a table of our things that we didn’t want anymore for people to take, and he had asked me several times that afternoon why people were taking our things.

I pulled him into my arms and said, Are you sad because there are things here that we are giving away? Do you feel afraid that we won’t have anything left for us? Are you sad because we are saying goodbye to our friends and to Sweden?

He nodded yes to each question and sobbed in my arms. I held him, and I cried, and I told him the only thing I could, Mommy is so sad, too, buddy. I’m so sad to leave the yellow house and to say goodbye to Sweden.  

Now it’s your turn: Is it difficult for your accept your emotions? What can you do to help yourself feel your feelings?

I’m linking up with The Grove, part of the Velvet Ashes community today. 


 Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

This post is day 7. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.
falling forward design logo
G[/ba-dropcap]rief and loss over time give way to a stronger emotion: Anger. I want to give a disclaimer here, I am no counselor or psychologist, so I am writing here more out of my experience rather than anything else. I can see very clearly with every one of my moves weeks and months where anger was easily and quickly triggered by the most random of things.

After we moved to Sweden, we tried to find a large rubbish bin, and couldn’t. We ended up with a small rectangular box under our sink. I had an eight-week-old baby and a two-year-old in diapers, we probably filled that bin once a day if not more in the first months. Having to throw out the trash regularly made me angry, not every now and then, but very, very frequently. It wasn’t about the rubbish necessarily, it was about being in a new place where I couldn’t figure out a solution to a problem that would have been easily solved in a country where I was more familiar with stores.

Moving to a new country or place is a study in being out of control, and this can and will often lead to strong feelings of anger.

For me the anger was directed toward my husband and kids, and this manifested itself in different ways, very regularly in careless, angry words and other times in worse behaviors. I don’t have a lot of advice on how to deal with this, believe me I’m still dealing with this in our current move. Here are a few things I try to practice that help.

Expect it. As crazy as this sounds, when a move is on the horizon, it helps me to expect to be angry about little things and big things. I have to expect it so that I create some margins and help structures in my life.

Time to myself. I need it every day to recharge, to journal my feelings out, to pray and ask God for strength, and to speak words of truth over myself.

Ask for help. If I can tell that I am getting angry with the kids, I try to tell Husband, so he knows and can pray for me, and can give me some time away from the kids in the evening or weekend. I try to get a babysitter.

Ask for forgiveness. There have been months when I’ve asked one of my kids for forgiveness almost daily because of mistakes I’ve made, and I’m not talking about just saying, Sorry. It’s, Mommy is sorry for _______ and the way it made you feel disrespected, sad, ______. I can see that this hurt you deeply, and I am so sorry about this. Please will you forgive me? As painful as it is to make the mistakes, to say these words, to look into the eyes of people I love whose trust I have broken, the practice of asking my husband and children for forgiveness is also deeply humbling and renewing. It keeps – I hope – our hearts connected to each other, when anger tries to separate us. I also ask God for forgiveness, and often I do this on the spot in front of my children.

See a counselor. In a season when I was more seriously concerned about the consequences of my anger, I started seeing a counselor who helped me face some of the pain in my own life that was leading to the mistakes I was making. There are no easy fixes for the anger and its consequences, but professional help with someone who is qualified can be a good place to start especially if you think that you can no longer manage your own self, and if the people around you express the same concerns.

Now it’s your turn: What tips do you have for dealing with anger?
This post is day 6. New to the series? Start here. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.
Many years ago, I had a session with a counselor to talk about a transition I was experiencing. This was before marriage and children, it was me and yet another move. She said something I have never forgotten: Transition is all about loss.

We are quick to look at what we have to gain in a transition. The new house or culture, a job in a different state, a longed-for relationship, the country or continent move for which you have planned and hoped, a child or multiple children. But hidden behind the things or people we long for is what we will have to give up to make space for the new thing. And the giving up is loss, the giving up hurts, the giving up is hard.

I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I embraced an attitude of trying to look or the best, I thought it was positive or spiritual. I thought it was a good way to live; I thought it was God’s way. Most cultures I know and certainly Christian culture as well is deeply uncomfortable with loss and grief. Someone dies, and it’s, Well at least you will see them again in heaven. You lose your job, and the quick reply comes, There is something better.

Numbering my losses and accounting for them honors their significance in my life. In the months before we left Sweden, I cried almost every day. I sat with my best friend, and instead of talking about all the things I was looking forward to, I often said, I’m so sad that I won’t get to see you again and left it at thatIt was incredibly empowering to cry and cry and cry when I felt sad, and I surrounded myself with people who were fine with a grieving woman, who didn’t try to “fix” the grief, and who accepted my emotions.

Crying, writing and giving words to my sadness was and is crucial to my grieving process. This probably looks different for you, but whatever it is that you have to do to grieve, please do it. 

There doesn’t have to be a happy ending, we can sit in the messy middle of transition and just exist in it. There is no need to hurry the process along. The process itself is doing its work; it takes time to move forward thoughtfully and intentionally.

Every time I allowed myself to be sad and to speak about my losses, I honored those things as important and treasured in my life. Giving space for my losses to hurt also honors the source of these good things, I would like to think that every time I cried about leaving Sweden, it was a way of telling God, you gave me such a great gift in this place, Thank you.

Now it’s your turn: Is it hard for you to grieve? What can you do right now to grieve losses in the past or your current losses.

Resources: Steven Colbert’s interview in GQ is a fantastic insight into grief and loss. Give it a read.


This post is day 5 of 31 Days of Thoughts & Tips on Transition. Head here to read the rest of the posts. And if you want hundreds of other great 31 Days topics, you can find them here.

falling forward design logo

So I can tell you this about moving time and transitions: The days are harder than the normal days at home, there will seem to be a mountain of tasks ahead of you to finish, and there appears to be little reward in the work of it all. Discouragement, worry, fear and control all start to look like reasonable options, and this is when I know I need to tie myself to an anchor that will hold.

I reach for words of truth, and they speak peace to my fear, freedom to my control and courage to my discouragement.

I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is my love for you. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. He will not let your foot slip, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep, the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night. Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered in shame. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. God is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me by quiet waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his names’ sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.

When I feel alone and no one understands, I choose the truth: I am never alone, I am deeply understood, everything about my life and my circumstances is known to God.

When I am afraid because of the unknowns ahead, I choose the truth: God’s plans for my life are only good, he has provided for my every need, I am safe, nothing and no one can harm me.

When I am exhausted because of the move or my children or my emotions, I choose the truth: He has prepared rest for me, I can choose to rest in my soul even if the life around me is stressful.

Anchoring my life in the truth has to change the way I parent my kids. Instead of letting their stress and whining drag me down into harsh, impatient words uttered back to them, I can build them up with words of truth. I can’t do it, the regular whine of my kids when they are frustrated or tired, and they hear this back from me, You can do it. You can do all things through Jesus who gives you strength. You can do it.

The week the movers came, I started the morning either at the dining table or in the car, by telling my kids, This is the day that God has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. I don’t know why those words came to my mind, there are many other words in the Bible that are more encouraging to me, but I needed something short, and words that would give me and them hope. We said it almost daily for weeks, and it anchors us in the truth.

We are moving today, we are busy today, the weather is not nice today, I didn’t get what I want today, but. This is the day that God has made. We are safe, he made this day. We are cared for, he made this day. We can trust because he made this day. We are not in charge, he made this day. We are in the hands of a loving, good, father, and this day with all the tensions and struggles and disappointments, he made it. We are going to be ok, and we can rejoice and be glad in it. He is in charge, and he frees us to rejoice, to be glad, and to move forward.

Now it’s your turn: Whatever transition you are in right now, stop and take the time to write down a few words that will anchor you in truth. What will you hold on to?

I’m linking up with Jennifer and Holley