Please forgive me for being a little late on our Turn the Mic Tuesday post this week. We are busy visiting family in Georgia this week and there is just something about being at my grandma’s house that makes me a lazy bum! Know what I mean? Today I am so happy to introduce you all to a new friend of mine who has a humble and transparent voice that I know you will love! I relate to this post so much and I know you will too. Please join me in welcoming Britteny McNiell to the family!
It was an August day a few years back. My family traveled 800+ miles to go to IKEA… I mean to meet our new nephew. During this visit my hubby, our two kids (Gracyn, 5 and Landrum, 2) and my father-in-law planned a day trip that included my first magical experience at IKEA. For years I looked forward to the monumental day when I would feast my eyes on the beautifully coordinated blue and yellow sign. With my map in my hand, I would stroll the maze of DIY goodness, circling and jotting a long list of must-haves because I absolutely needed 15 Tolsby frames and eight Lack wall shelves (can I get an AMEN?).
As we turned into the parking lot, all the giddy inside me went nuts… choking back the tears I thought, ‘She is just as beautiful as I imagined.’ We parked one mile from the door, unloaded the children and began our trek toward heaven. As we entered, both kids spotted SMALAND. Their excitement was uncontainable as they broke free from my handhold and RAN toward the door. I would have never considered myself the person who would leave her children with a complete stranger, but the thought did cross my mind. My dream of one hour of independent shopping was quickly crushed when we realized Gracyn exceeded the height limit to play. (insert eerie organ sound effect here “dun dun duuuun”)
As the words “Oh sweetie you’re just a little too tall…” rolled off my tongue, that seemingly normal precious 5-year-old girl in her adorable church dress began to morph into a creature from Jurassic Park, complete with a high-pitched screech. I quickly ushered my tiny pterodactyl to the adjacent restroom in hopes of salvaging my IKEA experience. As I held the hands of the ferocious animal and leaned down face to face, I began a lecture like any perfect parent would: “Stop screaming right now or I am going to bust your butt. I mean it, stop it now!” After spending an eternity in the bathroom with absolutely NO success, I gave up.
We were both crying as we exited that tiny 100-degree hell hole and I suddenly understood all of the “lost” kids over the Walmart intercom. They aren’t lost, their moms just walked away before they did irreversible damage! In a moment of complete defeat, I handed Gracyn to her dad and said, “I’m DONE. We are going to the car” After a minor parental argument, we sprinted through IKEA with a screaming kids in tow. That single experience was awful enough to ruin my IKEA addiction. (Who am I kidding? Nothing can separate me from all those beautiful carts and sofas!) As we got in the car, I began to offer every excuse as to why my daughter acted like a little demon, because my father in-law frankly looked mortified!
- She is so sleepy and off schedule.
- We should have eaten lunch before we went.
- She was struggling with the idea of growing up and her emotions got the best of her.
I would like to report that this was an isolated occurrence. But honestly, my kids go From 1 to IKEA fairly often. All of the advice I have been given and certainly try to apply doesn’t always work. There are those moments when spanking doesn’t help, hugging doesn’t help and screaming and whispering don’t help. Sometimes kids are just going to act out and with their actions comes the overwhelming feeling of failure. I find myself thinking, ‘I am just not cut out for parenting’ on a daily basis. When my kids “IKEA” and the fighting becomes more than I can take, defeat. sets. in.
I have recently found the courage to “assume a new fighting position” in the words of Priscilla Shirer’s book “Fervent.” Part of it reads, “You may not be able to control all the discord and unwise choices that occur in the various corners of your house or among the people you share a family with. But you can make sure the only place you engage in combat is in the heavenlies, in prayer, in secret.”
I began to pray for God to show me what it looks like to take the fight from the living room to the prayer room. And he revealed 1 Peter 3:8-12, summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless –– that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he’s asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.
It wasn’t long until I was given a chance to practice what I was learning. My strong-willed daughter was having an IKEA sized meltdown. I
heard that still small voice speak “Don’t let the shock of their actions carry your reactions” I found myself going over a mental checklist of 1 Peter 3:
- Be agreeable.
- Be sympathetic.
- Be loving.
- Be compassionate.
- Be humble.
No retaliation. No sarcasm. Bless. My job is to bless. Say nothing evil, cultivate good and RUN after peace! Everything inside of me wanted to go with son’s solution, “Shouldn’t we just give her ice cream or something?” But I knew God would bless my blessing. And although it was definitely a practice run, we survived the meltdown and are both learning from it.
I don’t always get it right. But when I remember God’s words in 1 Peter and his still, small voice in my chaos –– “Don’t let the shock of their actions carry your reactions” –– a shift happens and it’s making a world of difference. My prayer is that we can learn to cultivate good, run after peace and make our homes a combat-free zone.
Hi, I’m Brittney McNiell, lover of Jesus, wife to Jeff and mom of 2. We live a WILDLY NORMAL life in a small town in Missouri. When I’m not at church you can find me covered in glitter working on my next craft project! Look me up on Facebook or Instagram @ bmcniell.