Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Pitchin’ a Fit, Day 1

Leslie Basham: As a parent, you have a huge effect on the emotional temperature of your home. Here’s Israel Wayne. 

Israel Wayne: When my children are behaving badly, they are really like a thermometer, and when I don’t like the “temperature” in my children, in our home, the thing that I come back to is reminding myself that—in many ways—I’m a “thermostat.”

So, if I don’t like the temperature, I actually can do something about it . . . by changing me!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Monday, April 17, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’ve been so encouraged and blessed over recent years to get to know a couple who live not too far from where our ministry is located here in Southwest Michigan.

I’m so thrilled—after months of trying to coordinate our schedules—that Israel and Brook Wayne are able to be with us here in the studio today and talk about a subject that I know is going to be of great interest to a lot of our listeners. So, Israel and Brook, thank you for being here, and welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Brook Wayne: Thank you, Nancy. It’s so good to be on the air with you.

Israel: Thank you, Nancy. We’re really grateful to be here.

Nancy: I don’t know how you landed in our neck of the woods, but I’m so glad you did! We’ve become friends; I’ve gotten to know your family. I think when you first moved to the area, you had how many children?

Brook: Eight.

Israel: We’re on to nine, now.

Nancy: On to nine . . . I’ve watched your children grow up over the last few years. You have still some very little ones . . . and nine, so far, I suppose is what the answer is to as to how many you have.

I’ve loved watching your family, and I’ve loved hearing your heart for creating a climate in the home where Christ is honored and where children can grow to know the Lord and to love Him. You’ve been involved in that kind of family ministry for years.

In fact, Israel, I remember first reading some of what you wrote and hearing about you before you were married, probably, when you write about Christian worldview. You were a product of home education, so this is something you’ve had a heart for, for a long time.

Israel: Yes, it is. In fact, my very first public speaking event was twenty-one years ago when I was about nineteen years old at Life Action Camp (if you can believe that!). 

Nancy: Come on! Wow! Life Action is the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts and that camp is just up the road here.

Israel: It was a family conference, and I was asked to come and speak. So I’ve been speaking at conferences for over twenty-one years and writing books. I really have been blessed that God has allowed me to help to encourage and equip families to know, love, and fear the Lord.

Nancy: You all are doing that inside the four walls of your own home. You know, like any parent does, that it’s one thing to write about it and teach about it, but it’s another thing in the laboratory of life to experience it!

Brook: Exactly! It definitely is. It’s like you’re being tested in all the extremes of tiredness and fatigue and the daily-ness of it. So it’s a really good testing ground, like you said, for creating something that creates an atmosphere where our children can come to know and love God.

Nancy: That’s what you’re doing in your home, and I was particularly interested to see one of your more recent books. (We’ve talked for a long time about talking about this on Revive Our Hearts.) I’m holding it in my hand; it’s called Pitchin’ a Fit!

There’s a graphic on the cover of two parents and a kid, and they’re all steaming—kind of yelling at each other. The parents are yelling; the kid’s got his hands over his ears and isn’t really interested in what the parents are saying. The subtitle explains that this about overcoming angry and stressed-out parenting.

Now, can I just ask, did you write this book out of theory, or do you know a little bit about angry and stressed-out parenting from personal experience?

Israel: Well, as an author, I think you know this, but everything you write is autobiographical, right?

Nancy: No kidding! 

Israel: It comes out of who you are and what God has done in you. So we have obviously had to deal with this in our own lives. But in ministry, have had the opportunity to interface with just hundreds of other families who say this is a front-burner issue for them. In some families, this issue of frustration and stress and anger is a defining issue of their home, and it really has controlled their family dynamic.

We’ve been very grateful that God has given us a platform to be able to speak to this issue and to teach other people what God has taught us and is still teaching us on an ongoing basis related to this.

Nancy: I love that your writing and your teaching are so grounded in the Word, grounded in truth—because that’s our anchor, that’s our standard, that’s our plumb line. But you also illustrate so beautifully out of your own journey, out of your own walk.

You’re not sitting up here in some ivory tower saying, “We’ve got this down,” but you’re saying, “This is what this looks like in our family.” You’re pretty transparent. In fact, you open the book, Israel, with a story about feeding chickens.

Israel: Yes. We were getting ready to go out on a road trip, and we were going to be gone for a month. I had one of my sisters who was going to house sit for us. We had packed up the van, and everyone was loaded and the luggage was all loaded. 

I got out in the van and sat down to start the engine of the van, and I looked over by the garage door, and there was a fifty-pound bag of chicken feed dumped in front of the garage door. Now, I had told one of my children that I wanted them to feed the chickens before we left.

Well, on top of this mound of chicken feed were all of the chickens—who were loose—and they’re climbing all over this pile of chicken feed which was supposed to last the duration of the month!

I got out of the van. I walked over there, and I see these chickens just crawling all over this mound of feed (that’s supposed to last for a month). I was thinking about the fact that now the chickens are loose, we need to be leaving, and yet they need to be put away. 

I called the child in question out of the van, brought them over, and asked questions to which there can never be a forthcoming, adequate answer. Questions like, “What were you thinking? In what universe do you think it is ever okay to dump all the chicken feed right in front of the garage door? Why did it not occur to you to feed the chickens in the same pattern in which you have fed them every other normal day of your life? In the chicken coop, in the feeder!”

And, you know, I’m escalating as I’m doing this, right? I can see that I’m not getting anywhere.

I can see that this is not having the impact that I’m hoping for—which is, of course, openness and receptivity. I finally just finish with, “Why did you think this was acceptable?” And the only answer that a parent can ever reasonably expect from that kind of a question is, “I don’t know.”

I said, “Get in the van!” So I climb in the van, and I sit there, and I put the van in gear, and I start to drive. Then I remember that we have a tradition that we do before we go on a road trip. We always pray, and we ask God to bless our trip.

I also remember why we were going on this trip: We were going to go around the country and encourage families to love each other, to be good parents, and all the things that I was not doing in that moment! (laughter)

And so I thought, In this moment, I don’t even know if God wants to listen to me. So I called my child, and I said, “Get out of the van.” We got out, and I said, “Look, I didn’t handle this well. I’m not happy about this. But I want you to know I love you. I’m for you. We have a situation we have to deal with, but the way I went about that is not okay.”

And the response that I got was, “Oh, that’s okay, Dad.”

And I said, “You know what? I’m grateful that you want to forgive me, and the Scripture says that we should forgive one another, but I want you to know that I don’t think it’s okay. I’m not okay with it, and this is something I’m working on in my life. I don’t want to respond this way. I’m asking God to help me, and I just want to let you know that I’m not okay with how I behaved.”

So we were able to reconcile, and there was forgiveness. Then we had to round up the chickens. 

But in those moments—and we all have them (if you’re a parent, these things come up all the time)—you have a decision. We’re not always going to handle it appropriately in the moment—as much as we would like to—but we have to know, what do we do in those moments when we’ve blown it?

Nancy: And you’re right, we do all blow it. And so it’s not a matter of, “Are we going to sin in this area?” but “What are we going to do? How are we going to handle it when we sin?”

Brook, you came out of a background where, as you entered into marriage, you didn’t think of yourself as an angry person.

Brook: I sure didn’t. I grew up with just one brother and my parents, and he was only two years younger than myself. So I never had that sense of, “Oh, I have this little brother.” We were more like twins. My family was very easygoing on many levels. There was not a lot of anger in my home. It was a very nice Christian home. I’m very grateful for my upbringing.

When I came into marriage, I thought, Well, I have studied character. I’m not going to be an angry person. I almost thought, I’m just not that type. And then I was tested! I had these little children. 

I’ll never forget the day . . . My oldest was about six, and we had four little ones. I was sitting at the kitchen sink, and I was trying to wash dishes. My little son, at six years old, kept deciding that he was capable of making all his own decisions in life.

He had decided that he was going to go outside. I told him, “No, you’re not going outside. I’m doing these dishes, and we’re waiting for the little ones to get up from their naps.” He kept pushing me and pushing me on it.

Finally, I took my soapy hands, put them on the sides of my hips and I said, “Do you know what? You are about to make me lose my temper!” It was at that moment that I realized, “I have an anger issue—and it’s getting worse—and I need to do something about it!”

Nancy: I remember a young mom saying to me years ago, “I never was an angry person until I had children.” She had—in her case—I think it was a one-year-old and then had a set of twins. And she said, "With those three little ones, all of the sudden I became an angry person.”

And I said to her (probably not quite in these words, but the gist of it was), “Do you know what? You were an angry person. You just didn’t know that you were. God wanted to reveal what was inside of you so He could deal with it, so He could sanctify you and make you more like Jesus. So He gave you those little children to 'squeeze' you, and what was inside—that you didn’t even know was inside—came out.  God knows what it takes in each of our lives to bring out (we have listeners who are single or married women who don’t have children—so it’s not just children that bring this out), but God knows how to create circumstances in our lives that will cause us to realize how much we need His grace and how much we need Him to change us!

As you entered into motherhood (and you all had a lot of children in not too many years), you found yourself getting squeezed and challenged and tested. And some of what came out, you were a little surprised to see.

Brook: I was! And, you know, it’s one of those things. It’s just like you said, there are these circumstances. For parents it’s the lack of sleep, it’s being tired, it’s having these little children who create tornados of messes around your home.

Your life is not your own anymore. It’s just one of those ways where we want to cling so, so tightly to our own life and say, “This is mine. These are my rights.” When that’s messed up, we find there’s ugliness in ourselves that wants to come out!

There’s anger, there’s frustration, there’s just being a stressed-out, uptight person. I was really kind of surprised, and I shouldn’t have been. I’m human, and it’s only God’s grace in my life that’s going to bring about any kind of good.

Nancy: Yes.

Israel: Yesterday, Brook, we did a radio interview, and you shared a quote from Amy Carmichael, and then Nancy posted it on Twitter this morning. 

Nancy: I saw it in your book, and I liked it so much.

Israel: Could you share that?

Brook: Amy Carmichael shared in her book A Candle in the Dark about a cup of tea. She said, if there’s sweet tea in a cup just brimming full and it’s bumped, it’s never going to spill out something bitter. It’s always going to be sweet, no matter how badly it’s jarred!

That just spoke volumes to me, because I realized all that ugliness I had was inside of me. It is only God’s grace that is going to help sweet things come out when I’m bumped—which happens to parents every day!

Israel: The book of James talks about conflict, and it asks, “Where does conflict come from?” And it says, conflict comes from within you. So what Brook was saying about, “You’re making me angry” is really not theologically correct.

It’s not that there’s some external source that is imposing itself on us in a way that we can’t control. It’s just tapping into desires that we have. That’s the next part of that passage (James 4). It says you desire something, you want something, and you’re not getting it, so you get angry.

That anger can play out in a spectrum, from mild to extreme. But that issue of our expectations—wanting everything to be perfect and wanting other people to be perfect and wanting to be comfortable and never wanting to be inconvenienced or embarrassed, or the things that our children tend to do. When those things happen and our expectations aren’t met—our desires aren’t met—we get frustrated, we get angry. And we have to learn to recalibrate our desires so that they’re aligned with the things that Christ desires in us.

Nancy: Wow, that’s so good! And anger has a range. It can be mild irritation up to murder, ultimately. It’s better to nip it in the bud in the earlier stages. When that comes out, whether it’s in marriage or parenting or the workplace or church environment—just relationships in general—we tend to think, I wouldn’t be this way if so-and-so hadn’t done this!

And with children, there’s a lot less of that you can control, in a way. You know, my child does something that seems utterly irrational! Well, they’re three! (laughter)

Israel: That’s their job.

Nancy: We think, I wouldn’t be this way if that child hadn’t done this. But, really, what God is wanting to do is expose those faulty desires—or idols—in our own hearts—the things that I will kill to have, or that I will explode to control.

I think you just named several of those, but let’s unpack those for a minute. This whole thing of perfection . . . Brook, you came out of a healthy home background. We’re going to talk more about Israel’s home background—maybe in the next program—which was more dysfunctional. 

You had, Israel, some obvious sources where, perhaps, you could have been a really angry parent. But, Brook, you came out of more healthy, whole environment, and yet you found yourself wanting to do this really well, to be perfect. Did you find that sometimes, then, results in irritation or anger?

Brook: Oh, yes. I think coupled with my idea of wanting to be a perfect mom, I was thinking I could somehow pull myself up to do that by myself . . . maybe naively. I wasn’t necessarily going, “I can within myself have this great character and be a great mom!”

But I hadn’t really been tested to the point that I had to cry out to God and say, “I obviously can’t do this!” And those moments where—I think probably all moms have this . . . I was feeling, I don’t think I was actually cut out to be a mom after all!

Here you’re looking at your sweet little children, and you’re going, “I don’t think I have it within me. I’m not enough, here. I am not enough to be a good mom.”

Nancy: Wait, just stop. I want to say, anybody who looks at your family, I think, would maybe be surprised to hear you say that. We know all moms feel this way. But I’ve had your family in my home. Yhey are well-behaved; they’re sweet kids.

I love your family! And I’m going, Brook feels like she’s an inadequate parent? But I think it’s really helpful for moms to hear that—because every mom feels like a failure as a mom! I can’t speak for dads, but I know moms do, and I’m sure dads do, as well. This is a good thing.

Brook: It is. And you know, I’ve been reviewing this in my mind lately and realizing, that feeling like, “I’m a failure!” or “I’m ashamed, I’m embarrassed, I’m not cut out for this—to be a mom!” it stems a lot from pride.

I hadn’t really seen that early on. Now I’m seeing it more clearly, and it’s like, “Ooh! That’s painful—because it really is pride.” Like, “I can be this wonderful person; I can have all the attributes of God within myself by myself!” And I’ve had to humble myself over and over through these years. I've had to realize, what’s truly of God in myself—or what He wants to put in me—His Holy Spirit, that’s where I can feed my children from. Because I don’t have enough love for my children. I love them very much! They’re sweet little children—sweet big children, some of them. 

Nancy: They’re also sinners. Like their mother.

Brook: Yes. They have a lot of my characteristics—good and bad. But, you know, what I have to give them really has to be from God because I don’t have enough love to go around. I don’t have enough patience to go around. Those things drive me back to my knees, and that’s really the best place to start, in being a mom.

Nancy: So how do you do that? You’ve got nine kids. You know it’s important, but how do you—in just the fullness of life—navigate it so that you so can get the time to draw from those wells of your relationship with the Lord?

Brook: That’s very difficult. I have tried everything. I have tried sitting with three little children on my lap, holding my Bible, and seeing my pages torn out with a kicking foot. And I have tried the app on my phone that reads the Scriptures to me out loud, and I can’t hear it over the crying.

I have tried everything. I’ve tried devotionals and books. I have to say, there are times and seasons where I’ve felt like, I’m not getting enough. I’m somehow not getting enough of the Word to combat what I see happening in my heart.

And yet, I would encourage moms, keep at it. Because even those little bits that you get in there are strengthening you in ways that you may not see in the season. But through the long haul, sticking at it, going back to the Scriptures for your answers. 

How do I teach my child not to lie? How do I teach them to be kind and respectful to elderly folk? How do I go about these things? You’ll find those in the Scriptures, and delving back into them time after time reaps fruit eventually. You may not see it, you may not feel it in that season, but that’s where it comes from.

So just finding ways, as you can, I think is very important. For moms, sometimes I think they get into, “I remember my good old days when I had time two hours a day to go through the Bible study and to have that feast, and I want that.” And so they’ll only hold out for the feast, instead of taking some kind of Scriptural food each day, no matter how small.

Nancy: And I think the key thing there, too, is realizing that we need the Lord. We cannot do this on our own. I’m experiencing this now as a relatively new bride. I’ve taught other women about marriage. I’ve counseled them. I’ve encouraged them with practical biblical teaching on marriage and family. 

And yet, now in the daily-ness in my life as a wife, I’m realizing, I cannot do this. I cannot be the wife that Robert needs, the wife I want to be and the family member to his family or to mine or the staff member here at Revive Our Hearts or any of that, apart from God’s grace.

So that crying out and saying, “Lord, I’m not adequate for this. I need you!” That is a huge place to start. I think God loves hearing us acknowledge, “Lord, I need You. Help!” What better prayer could there be for a mom—for anyone—than, “Help, Lord! I really need You!”

Brook: He loves to dwell with the lowly in heart. If we’re just so proud as moms, or justify ourselves when we blow it and when we have anger, He’s not going to be able to dwell with us. It’s only when we’re lowly of heart.

Israel: One of the stories I love about needing some “mom space” is the story of Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley. She lived in house full of children.

Nancy: Didn’t they have like nineteen or something? It was a bunch!

Israel: It was like a reality show, before TV! This was a couple hundred years ago, for people who aren’t familiar with them. John and Charles were the founders of the Methodist movement.

This mother didn’t have a room to be able to get away from the children, so what she would do is, she would take her apron and throw it over her head and spend five minutes—alone—talking to Jesus. The children knew that, during those five minutes, you don’t interrupt mother!

Nancy: She needs this. And you need this.

Israel: So this was a case where—even in a very crowded house, with little space and with no place to retreat—she found a way to take those five minutes alone with Jesus and to recalibrate. I think that’s so important.

It’s not like we all have the luxury of a weekend retreat away—where you’re going to be pampered and so forth. We don’t all get that. 

Nancy: Certainly not often.

Israel: Those are great when they happen, but we need to take the time every day to spend time alone with Jesus.

Nancy: Israel, I know we have some dads who listen to Revive Our Hearts—who kind of eavesdrop on this, normally, women’s program. Are there ways you’ve found, as a dad, to encourage and help your wife—who’s handling maybe more of this on a daily, throughout-the-day basis—with the stress levels, so that some of these things don’t explode?

Israel: Well, I can imagine that my situation may be common for a lot of other men. You were talking about perfectionism a little bit ago. My wife and I are both perfectionists, but we handle our perfectionism in very different ways.

She internalizes her perfectionism. She’s very hard on herself. If she sees behavioral issues in our children, for example, in her mind that reflects on her as a mother. And it says, in her mind, that she’s a bad mother.

Nancy: And I think that’s really common for moms to feel that.

Israel: Yes. So her perfectionism is internalizing it. There’s a lot of negative self-talk that can be a default for her. I’m kind of the opposite. I’m perfectionistic, but I tend to be really hard on other people.

So the way that my perfectionism plays out is that I can tend to notice all the faults, all the problems, all the failures. I highlight those, nitpick those. And so, what happens is, if I am in my default and she’s in her default lane, it will demoralize her to the point where she is incapable of being able to function as a human being.

So I have to be proactive in being cognizant—being aware—of the fact that I am doing it. Brook is a great blessing, in that she will lovingly and appropriately point it out to me when I’m doing it.

She’ll say, “Do you realize that your comments are consistently negative?” I don’t. I don’t realize it. I don’t think I’m doing that. I don’t feel like I’m being negative, but being intentional about trying to find words of positive affirmation, and not to just grind down on the wife and children.

One thing that I’ve learned is that, when my children are behaving badly, they are really like a thermometer. When I don’t like the “temperature”—emotionally and spiritually—in my children, in our home, the thing that I come back to is reminding myself that—in many ways—I’m a “thermostat.”

Nancy: You’re setting the temperature.

Israel: I’m setting the temperature, absolutely! If I don’t like the temperature, I actually can do something about it by changing me—by going to Christ and saying, “Okay, these attitudes that I’m seeing in my children are really reflections of my own attitude!”

I believe, for fathers, we really are—in many ways—the thermometer that sets the spiritual and emotional temperature for our families.

Nancy: Well, good and wise words—and biblical words—for dads and moms and human beings. We’re talking about Israel and Brook Wayne’s book Pitchin’ a Fit! Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting.

It’s available this week here at Revive Our Hearts for a donation of any amount. It’s our way of saying "thank you" for supporting this ministry. We’d be glad to send it to you. You may want to read it as a parent with young children, or a grandparent who’s wanting to encourage your children and their families, or just as you’re ministering to other women in the context of your church.

There’s a lot of a really great wisdom and application here. I told Brook and Israel when we first saw each other this morning that, as a woman without my own children, I found a lot of really helpful insight here about dealing with some of my own internal frustration and anger and stress. So I’m recommending this book.

We’re going to continue talking about the next time on Revive Our Hearts, so be sure to join us then.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Israel and Brook Wayne about their book Pitchin’ a Fit! Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting. This book will help you respond to stressful situations as a parent with grace, instead of anger.

To get a copy, call 1–800–569–5959, or you can get a copy by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one book per household when you make a donation of any size.

When Israel Wayne was thirteen years old, he was home with his five younger sisters when his stepfather came to the door in a rage.

Israel: I was sitting in the living room with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun—that happened to be his—and I remember thinking, If that door latch breaks, I’ll shoot him, because I knew that it was going to be either him or us.

Leslie: That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping parents show the beauty of the gospel to their kids. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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