Plank Pullin – The one where the kids are driving me crazy.

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.


Y’all, I’ve been having one of those weeks where I don’t know WHAT is wrong with the Wild Things.  And, to make matters worse, I don’t take any of my own advice from that book I wrote that one time.  I’m impatient, I don’t listen, I react, I fuss, I threaten … and I fail.  Cause those things don’t work.


All the more reason to finally follow through on the Parenting Wild Things Chapter Challenges soon.  I think starting next week I’ll be chronicling one challenge a week until every challenge has been challenged.  Eight chapters equals eight weeks, btw.   I’ll most likely be posting the challenges to the Parenting Wild Things site, but I’ll make sure to link over here for you guys every week, too.


I need something to keep me accountable, y’all.  So I don’t forget to embrace the rumpus.




Plank Pullin – The One Where I’m a Stubborn…

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.


In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear yet, I’m not so perfect in the perfection department, y’all.  And I’ve been having to fight letting those true, flawed colors shine this week.


Here’s the thing – I am both extremely stubborn and a quitter.  It’s a really unfortunate combination.  I’m not the good kind of stubborn.  The kind that puts her nose to the grind and stays with the job or what-have-you until it’s done, no matter what.  No, I’m more like the ass donkey kind of stubborn.  The one that says, “Screw you, I’m not gonna do that job even if you try to put a muzzle on me and pull.”


Which leads me to point numero 2: I’m super anti-confrontational.


“But Jessica”, you’re probably thinking, “you confront all sorts of hard issues on your blog.  A coward wouldn’t do that.”  To which I would reply, “Um, chyeah, that’s exactly what a coward would do.  Type my thoughts up about something in a room by myself with no one here to look me in the eye and contest me.”


Which brings me to point numero 3: I’m trying to be more confrontational (in the completely healthy sense).


I’ve too often let my feelings about a situation boil under the surface and never ever tell the other person, until I just drift away from that person and situation with bitter, resentful feelings.  And I’m thinking that’s not so smart.  So I’m trying to learn to, respectfully, go to people when I think an issue is worth discussing.


Which brings us to this week, when I actually attempted the above.


And it didn’t go how I wanted. You know, with the other party saying, “Oh, yes, you are 100% right and I’ll make an attempt to rectify that situation immediately.”  Actually, I was prepared for more of a “Well, I 40% see your point, and I will consider it.”  But, in the end, I felt like I got an “I 100% disagree and will take no action.  Period.”


This was all discussed respectfully, but even so, the inner donkey in me started to bray the crap out of the space in between my two ears, y’all.  Which brings us to my inner quitter. “Fine!”, I want to say.  “Well, then I’m not going to fill-in-the-blank anymore!  So take that!  *raspberries* ”


Have I mentioned to you guys how rully mature I can be sometimes?




I’m afraid this is one of those weeks when I can identify the plank, but even when I pull it, I just manage to leave splinters behind.   What about you guys?  Have you been more successful at plank removal than me this week?

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Plank Pullin – The One Where I Parent My Husband In Parenting

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.


So, have you noticed how often my planks are related to my children or my husband?  Welp, that’s because they pretty much make up all of my life, y’all.  So they’re the people I screw up with the most.  Such is life. And this week is no different.


Now, this isn’t actually something I’ve had a problem with this week so much as a problem I’ve had for 10 years and have been concentrating harder on rectifying recently. I don’t even know what to call it, so I’ll just describe it to you: When my husband is parenting in a way that I think is wrong or too harsh, I step in.   I attempt to do so gently, but I can’t stop myself from trying to diffuse the situation.  I want to help him get some perspective, or step in and take over so that he’s relieved of the situation that has him frustrated.  And, in the heat of the moment, not knowing what else to do, I usually end up saying the phrase, “Be nice.”  I don’t say it in a disrespectful way, but it’s become my nagging catch phrase.  As if saying those two words will switch a magic patience light switch within him.




The thing is, I do a whole lot of the same stuff. I lose my temper and get frustrated and am more harsh than I need to be sometimes.  And he never steps in and tries to correct me.  Ever.  To be honest, I wish he would (lovingly, of course).  I wish that, seeing how thin my patience is worn, he would step in and be the good guy and give me the break I need.  I guess that’s another reason why I’m always stepping in trying to be the good guy when he’s the one stressed.


But even though I say I don’t do these things disrespectfully, I know he still feels disrespected when I do it.  Like I’m disrespecting this authority, perhaps.  Which only makes him more agitated.   And I think I need to step back.  Especially since I have a serious plank in the issue considering that I act too harshly sometimes with the Wild Things – and it’s so easy to resent the person pointing out your speck when you know they do the same thing.


So, I’m making an effort to hold back the mama bear inside of me and work harder to be the parent I want both of us to be.  Because here’s the thing (and disclaimer, y’all) – he’s not abusing the Wild ThingsThe Wild Things are safe and live in a healthy environment with two loving parents. So I’ma thinkin that I need to calm down!


If the last 10 years has taught me anything about this situation it’s that my version of “helping” only exasperates the situation.  Um, and that’s not helping!  And he doesn’t need me to tell him when he’s slipped.  We all know when we slip.  I know I am acutely aware every time I feel like I’ve failed to be the loving parent I desire for my children and I don’t need him rubbing my face in it.


So I am even more literally than usual pulling this plank.  (Which, in large part, means being the change I want to see)  After all, I’ll be able to see a whole lot better with it gone so that I can help him with his speck, am I right?





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Plank Pullin – The one where I fail to take my own advice.


It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.


First off, can I just say that I love this series?  It has for real affected my life for the less planky and I love the accountability it brings.  It’s slightly to very uncomfortable and it involves taking a long hard look in the dirty mirror.  And I realize that’s probably why it will never be a viral hit in the blogging world.  Plank Pullin is probably the hardest meme out there that I know of right now.  It takes a lot of humility and bravery and I’d just like to say you guys who do participate are awesome.  So there.


Well, as usual, my plank this week is about me tripping over my own foot and/or tongue.  Blast that tongue!


I found myself in the position of giving advice to a couple of friends who were having trouble in the last week or so.  And I found myself repeatedly telling them that the best thing they could do was to be quiet.  Stop talking about how upset or hurt they were by the other person.  Stop responding every time the other person said something.  “I don’t care what they say”, I said.  “Even if they say something irrational, or unfair, or flat out wrong, just don’t reply.  The only power you have is to be quiet.”  “Jesus didn’t retaliate”, said Jessica-the-wise.  “Build a good reputation so that when people slander you they look foolish” I said.


Well, you know how you can’t learn a new language without using it?  Yeah, I think God made a point with me this week that the same goes for the language of love.  So in danced a situation that gave me the opportunity to walk my talk.


Needless to say, I pretty much failed.  In my defense (because we all like to defend ourselves, don’t we?)  I didn’t yell, or curse, or name-call or anything crazy.  But I should’ve been quiet.  I should’ve recognized that there’s a time and place for everything and that wasn’t the time or place for that particular conversation.  And I definitely should’ve remembered the semi-golden rule : “When people are upset, they can’t hear you.  So shut up.”  Re-explaining yourself, no matter how rationally, doesn’t work if the other person is agitated.  And I know this.  But sometimes it’s just. so. hard to stop talking.  Am I right?


Sigh.  Consider this plank pulled.

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Plank Pullin – The one where my annoyance is an open book.

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.


Hi, I’m Jessica.  Please feel free to judge me by my cover.  Cause it’s fairly accurate.

Y’all, I am super not good at hiding my annoyance.  Whether it’s with my husband or in a group setting, if I’m unhappy

I disrespects you.

with the opinions in the room, it’s plain as day on my face.   I roll my eyes (though not too dramatically … ), I sigh loudly,  I find ways to completely ignore the discussion at hand by fiddling with something.


Yeah.  It’s blatantly obviously when I don’t respect the topic at hand, or the person doling it out.  Graceful, no?


I don’t necessarily do this on purpose.  I’m just not good at hiding  my displeasure.  For reals.  I guess I don’t have a happy-face mask.  Usually, I don’t even realize I’m sighing, or whathaveyou, until Husband points it out.  And then I’m like, “Oh?  I was?”.




I know it’s something that I need to be more intentional about getting under control.  Because, let’s face it, I’m not going to agree with everyone’s opinions, theology, methods, or … stupidity.  But I need to at least be able to handle that without my B face.  I’m pretty sure Jesus probably said something about that somewhere.


Verily verily I say unto you, save your B faces for the mirror. Amen.




Plank Pullin – Confessing in Community

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.


My plank pullin came a little early this week, on a Monday.  A few weeks ago we started a very small women’s bible study that meets in homes.  We decided we would keep it elementary and study through Luke and then on through Acts, however long that takes.


But as I was reviewing the next chunk of scripture this week I strongly felt that it didn’t hold any thing for us, that we needed something else.  So I got alone and prayed and listened for an answer in silence.  And God gave me this scripture:


Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16


So I told the gals that I felt like we needed to have a time of confession.  And confess we did. We confessed gossip, and we confessed cussing, and we confessed impatience, and we confessed not controlling our tongue, and we confessed living arrangements that weren’t God’s best.


And there were tears and there were tissues and there were hugs.


My personal confession and burden centered around not letting any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.


Confession really is good for the soul.  God can’t work through us if we’re harboring sins, or unforgiveness.  And we cannot have real community without being intimately acquainted with each other and admitting our faults.


And I don’t know about you, but I refuse to live alone with Christians anymore.  I will be a part of the body of Christ.  Even if my part has warts.  Even if your part has warts.


Do you need to do any confessing today?



Plank Pullin – Ignoring The Good I Ought To Do

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.



Every single morning I go outside with my coffee, my bible, and my bed-head.  I go seeking peace, reflection, study, prayer – you know, super righteous jazz like that.  And I find those things, I do.  But I also find something else.


Jake "beggar eyes" Bowman


The Dog.  And the bounty which he hunts is my guilty conscience.  He places his little furry paws oh-so-carefully on the fence and he cocks his head just so.  Then he employs his secret weapon: cartoon eyes.  He also throws in a little whimpering for extra effect.


Cartoon eyes.

Every morning I have to deal with this and every morning I gently ignore his needs and I promise him that his girl (Ten Year Old) will wake up later and feed and walk and love him.  To which he responds by staring blankly and eventually sauntering sadly off to go lay in the dirt somewhere.


Yes, that’s right – I’m a horrible person.


But being a despicable personally finally got to me one morning recently when the sad realization hit me:

“This animal only associates me with disappointment.”


Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but it bothered me.  So I vowed to take a treat outside with me every. single. morning.  Sure, it may not be the breakfast or the walk he’s looking for, but at least it would be something. Something positive and good to brighten his morning.  I mean, it’s not even a sacrifice on my part, I’m already walking through the kitchen (Treat Central) and past his mopey face, all I have to do is insert said treat into said mopey face.


It made me wonder what other small ways I could be making the lives of people around me a little better, in small ways,  in the every day routines that I already have. Who else am I ignoring in small ways, that add up to big ways?  That new mom at church who could use a spare bouncy shoulder?  That person that God lays on my heart and whom I cop-out and lamely simply “pray” for?


So watch out, y’all.  I’m on the lookout for cartoon eyes.


“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” -James 4:17


Do you ignore cartoon eyes the good you ought to do?


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Plank Pullin’ – The one where I disrespect my husband

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.



I firmly believe in respecting your husband.  Or boyfriend.  I firmly believe that most women don’t have a grasp on what that means or why it’s important.  I am more than willing to point this out about them.


But … I don’t always respect my husband.


Case in point – our church does a Wednesday night community dinner.



Sometimes it feels like a fishes and loaves situation.  You just hope there’s enough to go around and that everyone has enough.  Or some, at least.


Last night, I got in line behind Husband.  A lot of people had already gotten plates, and the alfredo sauce was running dangerously low, though the pot of pasta was still full.  So imagine my horror when I watched Husband pour two scoops of alfredo on his pasta.


Gasp.  Horror.


I then proceeded to reprimand him, even before I had time to think about it.  In front of others.


He was obviously embarrassed (and annoyed).  And I felt like crap.


Here’s the part where I want to say: “But seriously, who does that? You know, besides kids, who super don’t understand or care about leaving food for the people behind you.  But I definitely won’t say that because I’m super humble and this isn’t the place for my soapbox…


Why is it that we feel free to treat our significant others as if they’re children sometimes?  I would never have said anything to any other adult if I had witnessed them in the same unspeakable act (sarcasm).  Literally, the only other people in the world I would have said anything to would have been my children.


My husband is not my child.  And it’s not my place to fuss at him.  Even if I don’t agree with what he’s doing.  Particularly, if it’s for real not a big ticket issue.


Do you disrespect your husband with your words or tone?


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Plank Pullin’ – The one where I’m unforgiving


It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5, style.



It’s not uncommon for me to talk about forgiveness around here (Um, like … yesterday).  I’m a fan of it.  Really, I am.


But I’m not always good at it.  The truth is, I am really really really good at forgiving non-Christians.  Even of the most extreme offenses.


But Christians?  Now, just hold on a cotton pickin’ minute.



I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and have decided that my reaction to offending Christians is two-fold.


1. They should know better.  Seriously.  Seriously seriously.


2. They always think they’re right.  And are therefore rarely repentant.


Christians can be the biggest bunch of unrepentant sinners out there.  And I think that’s a huge part of my problem with them.  It’s one thing to forgive someone and a whole ‘nother thing to be reconciled with them, and Christians can be so dad blame unrepentant of their arrogance, or unhospitality, or fill-in-the-blank that I occasionally find a very hard time building bridges with them.


And yeah, I’m on the guilty/unrepentant end sometimes, too.




So, um, there you have it.  This might be one of the rare cases where I don’t exactly manage to pull the plank but just let you all get a good look at it.




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Plank Pullin – The one where I’m looking for Haverim.


It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5, style.


In the last year, my real life community has twindled.  I know it’s only natural for people’s lives to shift around.  One year you speak to so-and-so all of the time and the next year you never speak to them.  Not because of any falling out, just because you both got busy in opposite directions.


A lot of that has happened in the last year or two.  And I haven’t made enough effort to correct it.  I find myself seriously needing a new friend.  I real life one that’s going in the same direction as me.  One to share bad hair days and frustrations with.  But even more than that, one to explore Jesus with.  To talk and study and share spiritual truths and lessons with.


I need me some haverim.


Havermin were (are?) the Jewish concept of friends.  But not just any friends, friends who partner together to enhance the learning of each other.  Someone who can grapple with scripture along side of you. They were essential in Jewish culture.  You needed to get yourself a Rabbi and at least one good haver.


Husband and I can both be fairly introverted.  So if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves without community.  Particularly the times when we’re living in places where we don’t relate to the natives.  Which isn’t a great excuse, but it’s true.


But we’ve all felt it before, haven’t we?  The sense of holiness and closeness to God that can come from a small group who actively desire to follow all the rabbit trails of knowing God – the reality that the presence of Jesus is felt most often in the presence of a small group of haverim.


And I’m afraid, more often that not, we don’t find this sense of God seeking community within our churches.


Larry Richards in Friendless American Male is reported as saying:


“In church we sit together and sing together and greet one another cheerily as we leave at the end of a service. We do all of these things, sometimes for years, without forming any real personal Christian relationships. Our words often seem superficial.  The church, therefore, becomes a place where Christians live alone together.”


Lois Tverberg in Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith


“When I’m part of an excellent Bible study group, all sorts of insights surface that I would not find on my own.  And when I hear stories of how God is working in other people’s lives, it makes my reading of Scripture all the more powerful.”


Most of us with a commitment to God have  experienced this at one time or another.  The … aliveness in Christ that can be found within a group of friends who are earnestly (not passively) seeking God.


The truth is, we Bowmans are in a time of mini-new beginnings.  We’ve been living alone with Christians this past year.   But, through recent events that didn’t play out on the pages of this little blog, we’ve recently joined a new church.  A gathering of folks who are also desiring a similar sense of community as us, I think.  I’m excited for the potential that I see there.


So watch out, new guys.  I’m on the hunt for haverim.  And I’ve got you in my spiritual crosshairs.


Do you have haverim in your life to seek Jesus along side of? Or are you living alone with Christians?

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