I turned around and was able to see for the first time in nine months….and it wasn’t pretty. Our family has never been perfect, but now things were out of control. Disrespect, disobedience, selfishness, impatience, frustration, anger…it was not pretty and it was not just the children. What had happened!? I have written before about how I believe that old saying “If Momma ain’t happy ain’t no body happy.” I quoted how the Mother is the thermostat in the home. Well, what happens if the Mother just kind of…checks out? For months. All hell breaks loose and the result is very, very bad. Was it postpartum depression? Hormones? Rebellion? Selfishness? Regardless, the Lord brought me out of it and when I opened my eyes I was horrified at what I saw. I felt overwhelmed and hopeless as I tried to get things back to normal. It wasn’t working. Too much damage had been done. Talk about a downward spiral! I began to pray and read. I listened to an excellent motivational speaker and was empowered when he said, “You can be whoever you want to be.” TRUE! And if I can be whoever I want to be…then that meant there was hope for my family. I knew that we could be the kind of family that we wanted to be. It would take time and work but there was hope.
The first thing that needed to be addressed was family unity. I still took care of my children through those dark days, but I was no longer “in love” with them. I still KNEW they were blessings…they just didn’t FEEL like it. And I didn’t feel adequate to the task any more. So the extra mile kind of love and tenderness was very lacking. When the mother is less than fully present for her children it creates a lack of stability. The children won’t be able to acknowledge this as the problem, but their actions will show it. So I began to pray and brain storm for ways to bring unity back into this family. To re-instill putting others needs before our own. To reestablish the desire to protect each other. To reassure them that I am here. To reaffirm that we are a unit. A team. A family united!!! We needed a family motto. Something unique to our family that said who we are and what we stand for. Something to say to remind them that we are the Neal family and we have high standards for ourselves and the way we treat others. That we take pride in being a part of this family and what we stand for.
Where to start? I am big on choices. I am constantly telling my kids to make good choices. Reminding them that they get to choose!!! It’s a big responsibility and I want them to understand that they are the ones that choose….and have to deal with the consequences. Isn’t life all about choices? We can choose to have a good attitude or be grumpy. We can choose to be selfish or self sacrificing. And the list goes on. So in thinking about how important choices are, I got to thinking about how I want our kids to make these choices and it all boiled down to love. Love is the answer…..love is ALWAYS the answer. So it only made sense that our family motto be “CHOOSE LOVE.” I say it all the time. When I can tell someone is debating about whether or not to share, “Choose Love.” When someone else gets to spend the night w/ Ya-Ya and Pops and they are feeling jealous, “Choose Love.” We memorized 1 Corinthians 13. It is an excellent teaching tool to be more specific about how to choose love for any given circumstance.
So the first step was finding a “family cause.” Something we stand for. We “choose love.” We’re Neals…and that’s what we do. It’s like a team chant or logo. It’s something that bonds us together.
The second step is revisiting HABITS!!! This. Is. A. Biggie!!!!!!!!! More later.