Making Sense Of and Peace With Your Past

“We parents often believe that our past — that is, the way we were raised — is just a book on a shelf of memories. It’s not. Triggers are where past and present intersect. We can’t assume our past isn’t affecting our present parenting.”

How to Have Peace When Your Kids Are in Chaos

If we don’t make sense of and peace with our past, we will be in constant conflict with our children.

You’re probably taking this course because you are in constant conflict with your kiddos. I get it. I’ve lived there. When I finally understood where their behaviors were coming from, I made a tiny bit of progress. I had some brain science and psychology under my belt, but my house still often felt like a war zone. Let me emphasize the word FELT. I was feeling all sorts of things. By that I mean, my kid’s behaviors were triggering things that happened in my past and I was feeling it all over again. I was taking their behaviors personally because I was personally affected by them. I had a past that needed to be examined. I was the last person to think the problem was actually ME. But I was the part of the problem that I was responsible for. I didn’t want to face the truth. I wanted to stay stuck in my cycle of blaming my kid’s behavior for the chaos in my home. When I finally got ahold of the truth that my past was parenting my children. That I needed to face it and make sense of it and peace with it that I was able to move forward.

Often our daily tussles are not about our kids at all — they are about us. That’s not to say that our kids from hard places don’t have a past. It just means our past is running interference on the play. Take a few minutes and journal the last interaction that you think triggered you to react to your past instead of the present.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

An ACE score is a tally of different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood.

Ace Assessment – Take yours now! Make sure you read the whole article to find out what it does and doesn’t mean.

Let’s end this day with some nurturing. If you have never taken the time until today to process some of your childhood, you may be overwhelmed right now. I’ve been there. Lots of people have. I was conducting a workshop for some social workers and nurses once and during this the topic of the how your past affects your now – a nurse yelled out, “I’m not going to parent my kids like my mom did, I’m going to hug them.” We can and should have those sorts of reactions to facing our past, not to throw our parents under the bus, but to decide to where to go from here. What is nurturing to you?

I’ve provided some questions for you to work through just that. 

  1. What is a deep source of comfort and emotional nurturing for you?
  2.  How do you recognize nurturing?
  3.  Are you comfortable giving emotional support?
  4. Does your own childhood weigh heavily on your heart and mind? If so, how?
  5. Do you comfort others in order to comfort yourself? What does this look like?
  6. Are you able to recognize your own emotions as well as others? If not, what steps can you take to start recognizing emotions in yourself?

*This is an excerpt from the course How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos.

Interested in the course? Read more about it and try a free module!

Journaling Your Triggers and Your Child’s Triggers

*Trigger Warning*

If you haven’t faced your past, this week’s assignments may produce overwhelming feelings! 

Sometimes it takes actually feeling your feelings before you can move towards healing or helping your kiddos move in that direction. Be sure to find a Christian therapist or counselor to help you work through your past!

Why are memories so triggering?

Have you ever smelled something like cinnamon rolls baking, or coffee brewing, and it suddenly evokes a feeling from a past event? Maybe it’s Christmas morning because your Mom made cinnamon rolls and coffee every year. Or maybe the scent of a  perfume sends you to a dark place because you were at Aunt Mary’s house the time you were molested and she wore that scent liberally. Why does this happen? Why doesn’t the past just stay in the past? Tommy Newberry explains:

“Your subconscious mind is incapable of distinguishing between an actual event and one that is only imagined.” 

When we have these flashbacks, our mind acts if they are actually happening again. Our subconscious doesn’t distinguish past,  present, or future. 

Why do we need to process our past?

If we don’t make sense of and peace with our past, we will continue to be triggered. We will live in fearful, reactionary ways. If we want to live positive lives, fully present with our kids, we must take the time to work on making peace with our past.

“Our mind is designed to control the body, of which the brain is a part, not the other way around. Matter does not control us; we control matter through our thinking and choosing. We cannot control the events and circumstances of life but we can control our reactions. In fact, we can control our reactions to anything, and in doing so, we change our brains. It’s not easy; it is hard work, but it can be done through our thoughts and choices.”

Caroline Leaf, Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health

If you are thinking “Bad things happened to me and I can’t control that.” This is true. You can’t erase the fact bad things happened, neither can your kiddos. What you can do is change your mind about how you react to your triggers. You don’t have to be ruled by them. You can do the hard work of changing your brain! Are you ready?

For today, let’s start with a positive memory. Think of a time when you a child and were immensely happy. Was it a camping trip? A birthday party?  Playing with your cousins? Write it all down in the most vivid detail you can! Have fun with it. Use the five senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Hear? 

Write Or Type Up A Plan

Write or Type Up a Plan

You knew it was coming, right? We can’t just dream big dreams, write out our perfect day, the rewards we will receive for living our purpose, and not have a plan. Tommy Newberry in his book, Success is Not an Accident says:


“Investing the time and brainpower to set meaningful goals in each area of your life will produce internal, permanent, motivation. You’ll become inner-directed rather than outer-directed or other-directed.”

We want to be inner-directed, right? Outer directed is reactionary. We can live our lives like a ball in a pinball machine, getting bumped, hit, and sometimes hitting a random goal. Or we can have a plan.

Remember your perfect day?

  • What would it take to make that happen?
  • What habits would you need to form?
  • What kinds of things would you need to do differently?
  • How can you break those goals down into easy to accomplish objectives?
  • How will you handle obstacles?

There will be obstacles.

Yep. Writing down our perfect day doesn’t mean we won’t have things to overcome. You can’t be an overcomer if you have nothing to overcome.
Often we don’t set goals because we are afraid we can’t achieve them. Other times we set super safe and easy goals because we know we could probably do them in our own strength. Neither of those options will get us where we want to go.

A Simple Goal I set


I’m going to share a super simple goal I set years ago that seemed impossible to do with seven kiddos. Our food budget was tight. I couldn’t spend all of our grocery money on cereal. I also didn’t want my kiddos eating cereal for breakfast often. Remember my perfect day included cooking breakfast? I needed to move from scrambling in the morning to get my kids’ food to sitting down to a hot, healthy breakfast. I decided to make a repeating breakfast plan. French Toast, Oatmeal, Eggs and Bacon, Muffins or frozen waffles, Cereal, Pancakes. We had cereal on Fridays because that was our busiest day and I knew I would peter out towards the end of the week. Saturday was pancakes or homemade waffles because we had the time. Once I had the plan written down, it was easier to implement. I didn’t stress in the morning because I knew what we were going to eat. Did we do this perfectly? No. Did I have opposition or obstacles? Yes.
Maybe you’re wondering why I’m talking about breakfast as a goal or vision. Guess what, whatever makes your life easier, more manageable is a great place to start with measurable goals. Maybe after you have developed some baseline habits, you can pursue those other things you wrote down in your brainstorming session. Maybe now you can add half an hour of sewing, quilting, photography, art, writing, home design, baking, playing games, reading a book, or fill in the blank.

Not sure where to start? Check out Ruth Soukup’s article –
10 SIMPLE HABITS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Another Example from my life

Here’s an example from my life. When I’m writing a new novel, I set a goal for when I want to finish. Then I break down the steps.

  • Brainstorm mind map
  • Outline
  • Character sketches of all characters
  • Defining traits of the main character
  • Plot and Subplot


After I have those down, I decide how many chapters the book should be, break those down into writing times.
I schedule writing times on my calendar.
After I finish the first draft, I print the book and move to another set of goals!
Do some of my deadline dates change? Yes. Does that mean I failed? No. What I used to do is not write at all because I was living an outer-directed life. I didn’t have a plan. I just hoped one day I would have time to write. That didn’t work. It took me 12 years to write my first book because of that “hoping” sort of philosophy (plus I was homeschooling). Now, I make writing a priority just as I made finding some breakfast options all those years ago!
Take some time today to write down one goal then break it down into simple achievable steps. Then make sure you write down what you will do when you (and you will) run into an obstacle.

List The Rewards

List the Rewards


Yesterday, we planned our perfect day. Wasn’t that fun to write down? Maybe you included some of the same things I did the first time I tried this exercise. Or maybe yours were totally different because you are in a different age and stage of life and that’s okay. My perfect day exercise looks totally different today then it did all those years ago. We all go through different seasons of our lives. Our seasons lead us to new purposes.
You may be ready to break down your perfect day into habits and goals. It’s not time for that yet. We can’t skip the important step of writing down the rewards of living the way we envision. If we skip this, we will lose our motivation quickly.

Don’t skip this step!

For instance, getting up before our kiddos get up to do Bible study yields the reward of more peace in our day. If our perfect day includes time for exercise, then the reward is a more healthy and energetic body. Right now, part of my perfect day exercise includes writing first thing in the morning after my Bible study. I wake up at five and then begin writing at six. The reward is, I get the most important thing about my purpose finished first. I am a writer. Writing is what I do. If I have my writing time accomplished, the reward is I have more articles, books, and content available to help others. What rewards will you receive if you live life the way you envision it? Will you have more peace? More satisfaction? A cleaner house? More free time to play with your kids?

the Problem with Just Hoping it works out.


When I have presented this material to women before, some say they aren’t organized and don’t want to be. Others just tell me why they can’t do what they want to do. Some people like to fly by the seat of their pants and hope it works out. I was listening to a teaching by Isabel Price about time management today. She shared that putting your workout clothes on in the morning and hoping you might workout without putting it on your schedule is just wishing it would happen (my paraphrase). This post isn’t about time management, but you know it’s coming. If you stop after you dream out your vision on paper, you will never get where you want to go. If you don’t list the rewards for living out your vision, you’ll be less likely to even try.

Ruth Soukup sums up the good life we seek well:


“The Good Life to me is this: a life rich in faith, family, friends, and creativity. It is a life full of the richness that God has to offer; a life spent building treasures in heaven rather than here on earth. It is not a life of laziness and greed, but one of discipline, hard work, and self-reflection. It may not always be easy or comfortable, but it is always full in abundance and completely secure in Christ.”

Take a few minutes today and write out your rewards for living out the day you envision.

What Do You Want Your Life To Look Like?

What do you want your life to look like?

Often instead of focusing on what we would like our life to look like, we focus on what is wrong with our lives.
We say things like:
My house is a mess.
I really need to lose this weight.
I should do some laundry.
I need to have a quiet time in the morning before the kids get up.

Even if all of those things are true, thinking of them in the negative only stresses us more. Instead of thinking “I am more than a conqueror” or “I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency” we begin to think “I can’t” or “I’ll never have the life I want.” No one wants to live there.

Change your Mindset


Although I can’t promise the exercise I’m going to prescribe will make all of your obstacles go away, I do know it can help you change your mindset. With a more positive mindset, it’s easier to pursue your purpose. Remember yesterday, we spilled our dreams onto paper? Today’s exercise will help you visualize what that looks like in real everyday life so you can start working towards that vision. I’m not talking about some hokey pokey incantations and incense burning. I’m talking about imagining your perfect day and writing it down. The first time I tried this exercise, I was still homeschooling and trying to make the days as efficient, effortless, and educational as possible. That’s saying a lot, I know. But if we aim for nothing except surviving, that’s all we will do.


Nobody wants to just survive.


It had been my God-sized dream to homeschool. I was doing it! The only problem was – my vision and my reality weren’t synonymous. They were opposites. I decided to give writing down what I wanted my life to look like a try.
My perfect day looked pretty simple.
I wake early, make coffee, have Bible study time before the kids get up. I make breakfast for the kids and we eat at the table. We have fifteen minutes of chore time before we start school. We do Bible study and other group subjects together first. We have a snack together at 10 am. Then we divide into individual subjects.

I won’t share the whole day. You get the picture. The point is writing down what my perfect day looked like gave me something to aim for. Many times we just get up and hope that things will happen on their own and we beat ourselves up when they don’t. Then we feel powerless and as if we have failed. How can we say we failed when we don’t even know what we are aiming for?

“Do what you love, and you’ll stop being your own worst enemy.”

– Tommy Newberry, Success is Not an Accident

Don’t confuse what you love with entertainment. What you love is living your purpose today and doing it in the best way possible. Living your purpose starts with writing down what it looks like on a day to day basis.
Take the intersection of what you wrote yesterday with what you imagine your perfect day looks like (realistically) and write it down.
Don’t stress about goals and objectives just yet!