"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"  Matthew 16:24 (NIV) 
 

Yesterday we were driving back from the joy called the beach vacation. All total we logged over 20 hours in the car. It was family bonding at its finest.

So, this is what I hear from the backseat:

Ashley: "Mom, Brooke just licked my hash brown! Ewwwwww!"

Me: "Brooke, why would you lick your sister's hash brown for heaven's sake?"

Brooke: "Because my arm hurts."

Me: "Oh. Well that just makes complete sense."

There may have been 127 other instances where the soundtrack of my life was, "Mom...she poked me and she is on my side and she just spilled her drink and she took my book."

My kids were getting on the last good nerve I had and I could feel an emotional eruption bubbling to the surface.

Do you ever struggle with the mean mom trying to come out? Or the mean girl? Or the mean sister? Or the mean wife?

How is it I can be marching along to the sweetest tune and then veer off so suddenly into a bad attitude?

I wish there was one simple fix-it plan where if we follow three steps all tendencies toward emotional eruptions would vanish. But that's not reality. If all we needed to follow was a plan, we'd have no need to follow Jesus.

And ultimately isn't that what life is supposed to show us - that we need to follow Jesus? So what does Jesus say about this? He says we must do three things. But these aren't three easy steps. They are three attitude shifts of the heart.

He says we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

Deny myself...

I have to look beyond the emotions begging to erupt and use self-control. I have to deny myself the momentary satisfaction of the quick comeback, the rude response, and the full out yelling.

Deny myself. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

Then I must take up my cross...

My cross. Stop the blaming and finger pointing and wishing everyone else would change...and see my sinful reaction as a negative contribution to the problem at hand. I must take my issues to His cross and see my sin for what it is - sin. And I must be disgusted enough by my sin to truly want to do something about it.

Take up my cross. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

Finally, I must follow Him...

Really follow Him. Follow who He is and how He is. I must close my mouth, pause long enough to let Him interrupt my eruption, and let His Spirit redirect me. Yes, my children need to be corrected but I can let the consequences scream so I don't have to. Only a calm mama can think of rational, reasonable consequences that instruct.

Follow who He is and how He is. It's hard. But it is the way with Jesus.

It's amazing how quickly my mean mom vanishes when I deny myself, admit my sin, and choose to let Jesus interrupt me.

Just don't be messin' with my hash brown if your arm starts hurting. Okay? I have to draw the line somewhere you know.

Dear Lord, please interrupt my natural flesh pattern today. I desire to change. I need to change. I realize and admit that I need You, Lord. Help me to stop the blaming and finger pointing once and for all. Help me to follow in Your footsteps today. I want to seek You with all of my heart. For I know that those who seek You will find You. Thank You for this promise. In Jesus' Name, Amen.