Thursday, September 1, 2016

Who's Your Daddy?

My firstborn has moved out.  He works full time, controls his own schedule and makes his own decisions.  It's that last one that has been a bit rough for me.  We have had a few... sparring matches over it, and I have been using all my mommy tricks to try and keep those apron strings at least loosely tied.  I have been so anxious and worried about what he does and taking it personally when he did something I didn't like.  I would remind him of mistakes he made in the past to try and undermine his confidence in himself, and put his trust in me (cause everyone loves that right?). I felt like if he made a mistake, it was a reflection on me and my parenting.  I needed to make sure he didn't do anything that would pull him away from God or his faith. Even though I didn't realize that was what I was doing, it was all about control, it was all about... me.

I was, in fact, spilling my guts to God in my quiet time this morning (casting my cares on him like baseballs in a batting cage) when I felt like I got cold water splashed in my face.  I felt God say "Are you done? I have something to say if you're ready to listen." Well, I listened and boy did He set me straight.  He reminded me that my son has a real relationship with Him and that if he was in need of being chased after, or convicted in heart for something, He would take care of that.  My job as a mother of a grown man, is to love, encourage and make his favorite cookies.  He has a parent in authority over him but it isn't us anymore.  If I choose to keep trying to parent him, I am either saying I think my son is still a child, or even worse, that I don't think his faith is genuine.

I didn't do it all right but I did the best I could.
Now it's time to enjoy the fruit of my labor, as I watch my grown son live out his faith and his life.  When he makes mistakes I know his heavenly Father will be there and that He will be faithful to keep all His promises to His son that He keeps to this daughter.

Now to get through this three more times... Oye Vey!

P.S. I asked my son for forgiveness and our Daddy too.

Monday, April 11, 2016

What Would I Change?...

I recently had the opportunity to serve as  MOPS mentor for the second time.  This completed the circle folks.  I have now served in every position in the program.  This however takes the cake!  I love the ability to help, teach and encourage.  This time I was on a panel and we were answering questions about balancing roles, training, and the many challenges of being a mother through the years.  I was doing quite well (if I do say so myself... and I just did) of giving advice with humor and usable tidbits until... (dun dun dun) the last question.  We were asked "If you could go back and change one thing about how you raised your kids, what would you change?" For the record... they did not tell us this one in advance.  As I answered I surprised myself.  I have thought it over so much since that day and I still agree with answer but I wanted to add a little more depth to what I said.  Since I cannot do it with them... I will do it here.  I know, you're so lucky!!! LOL

What would I change?  I would be as careful about how I treated myself as I was with my children.  Many of my friends have heard me say that "I tried so hard not to become my mother, I became my father" and as far as personality, that's pretty true.  The problem is that as I get older, the more of my mother I see in the mirror staring back at me.  The way I learned to see myself as a mom is largely influenced by how my mother saw herself.  Therein lies the problem.  You see, my mom was so encouraging to all of us.  We heard how special, talented, beautiful and funny we were to her.  Yet, when she spoke about herself she used harsh criticism, negative words about her looks, personality and performance.  I have struggled with the same thing.  I always went out of my way to praise my children and would never have thought of using the words I used to describe myself, to describe them.  Now that I see how much I resemble my mother, those tapes she played about herself feel personal and it is hard to turn them off.  I can see hints of that in my girls sometimes already.  That makes me so sad.

So here is my advice to mother's of young children.  If I could go back and change one thing, I would be careful to use positive words and encouragement on myself too.  Especially in front of my children.  I wouldn't talk about needing to diet, I wouldn't pinch that inch as I turn to the side in the mirror, I wouldn't reprimand myself cruelly when I didn't get something right the first, second or third time.  For the record, I am not preaching the gospel of self love and guilt free living.  What I mean is that I would have been as careful choosing my words with myself as I was with them because when they suddenly look in the mirror and see a bit of me staring back, I want them to smile. I don't want them to see hand me down genes, problem areas or shortcomings.  I want them to see little glimpses of a mother who loved our family (including herself) well.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Like A Timex...

I took some good ol' fashioned licks this last week.  It's the hazard of being a girl with a big mouth and a big opinion.  I find that most people play fair until they feel like they're losing. Then the hits get lower, the language gets harder and the tempers get shorter.  I was struggling under the weight of it to be honest.  I don't know about you but the comments that hurt the most, are the ones with just enough truth in them, to bring on the self doubt that burrows into your skin like a summer tick.  I felt a bit slowed down, like I was trying to run in sand.

Then today, I ran into a new friend in the produce section of my local grocery store.  We stood there and talked for over an hour, both with lists in our heads and I am sure, a million other things to do. We just stopped and spoke to each other.  It reminded me of what makes me tick. There has been a common thread in what God has put before me and the passion He placed in my heart... women. Sometimes I forget how much I need other women in my life.

My love language is quality time.  I feel most loved when people give me their valuable, "can't ever get it back", time. I am so thankful for her attention and laughter today.  I really needed it.  She may never know how that unplanned hour (during which, she did not look for a clock or an excuse to get going) fed my soul.   I'm like a Timex. I can take a lickin' and keep on tickin' but without a little help to keep it wound, I'll just slowly get run down and become another useless face.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Trail Of Breadcrumbs...

I really don't know where to begin and so I will just start... here.  I lost myself.  I have been searching everywhere but the girl staring back at me in the mirror doesn't even look familiar to me.  Having done some research, it would seem... this happens sometimes. There are seasons of a life that can be like this.  It's almost like haunting myself.  All my life I have been told to journal, write it down, work it out on paper, leave a record to look back on, and at long last, I see why.  From the very beginning of this little blog/experiment, I said this would be my diary for the world to see and it has been and is just that.  I have begun reading it all over again from the first one.  It's as though I left a trail of breadcrumbs for myself to find my way back into my own life.  I don't want to go back to being the women I was when I started, I couldn't and I wouldn't even if I could. It is however, reminding me of who I am and how I came to be that girl in the mirror. The lessons I have learned and the way I see the world are... unique (I'll take understatements for $300 Bob).

There have been so many changes and milestones lately.  I've been married for 20 years.  Two of my babies are in college.  Meanwhile, I am still teaching the youngest one basic reading, writing and arithmetic.  We live in our dream house.  People have come and gone from my life.  I'm approaching what is likely, for me, middle age (God willing) and I still don't have a handle on being comfortable in my own skin.  There are so many lessons yet to learn and pages left to write. Yes, pages left to write... I like the sound of that.  I like the way writing feels.  Now off I go, to gather my breadcrumbs and perhaps along the way, I will find some more words for the empty pages.  I do not know how many of you have read along through the years, but I do know some have. I want to say thank you for not leaving my words to fall on deaf ears and for the encouraging words you've given back along the way.  I am enjoying those breadcrumbs as well.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Been One Year...

I made a promise to myself and a commitment to my husband a year ago. I have learned a lot in the last 365 days.  If you missed that episode, you are lucky this was not my year dedicated to my blog! You only have to go back a couple posts to get all the details. I would put one of those blue link things here... but I don't know how. Here's the low down of what I committed to...

I am committing this next twelve months to my husband.  For the next 365 days I commit to the following;

1. Pray for my husband everyday 
*This I am proud to say, I did.  I realized over the course of the year that I did wane in the late spring, as I usually do with any annual commitments. I had to regroup and catch the fire again to make it through the summer but I did it.  Every day I prayed specifically for him and his needs.

2. Do one purposeful thing each week just for him
*I was way better at this the first half of the year. However, this is a strength for me overall and so, I can honestly say I did not go a week without doing something just for him but toward the end they were decidedly less fun.

3. Plan 2 dates per month where we can be alone
*HA.  This one we are just going to call a fail.  I could make a million excuses (oh, wait I did, he did, we did...) but the bottom line is we do not give our relationship priority over very many other things.

4. Check in with an accountability partner once a week to keep on track
*I did this until my partner kind of dwindled off and then I made it a commitment to do a check in every Monday in my journal instead.  If I had it to do again, I would have spoken up and found a person to keep meeting with, as that made me more excited to do it and kept new ideas coming.

5. Journal my experience for posterity
 *I did this.  However, do to a learning experience I had this year, I believe I will destroy it rather than keep it for posterity.

So what did I learn?  Well, I learned that marriage is hard.  This is the part of the struggle that no one talks about and actually, a lot of people don't think you should (I know because they told me).  You hear about the beginning and you hear about the end but the middle... well, you pretty much just hear about the vacations.  Occasionally, there will be a couple who "survived" something just awful, that will get a platform but what about the trenches of the middle years or shall I call them the muddle years?  

If you want bad advice you are in luck! It is EVERYWHERE! Do you realize how many shows are about 
1. The romantic beginning  (with no follow up in real life) 
2. Can you do better? Yes, you can! (and someday they will think the same thing...)
3. Love is better the second, or third, or fourth time around! (no, you take you with you and if you messed up one relationship... odds are good you will mess up the next one)
4. Cheating isn't cheating if your destined to be together or, heaven help us, soul mates. (nope, it's cheating... you're a cheater)

Good advice however is much harder to come by.  A friend told me recently about a study that raises the idea that the reason the bond between mother and child is so strong is because so much time and energy are put into serving that child.  Service is love in action (think Mother Theresa).  The more you serve someone the closer you watch for their cues, enjoy their reactions and the closer you stay to them physically and emotionally.  What is the most common thing you hear in divorces?  We just grew apart.  He does his thing and I do mine and we live separate lives.  I can tell you that in the start of the year of the husband I was watching closely, thinking of ways to surprise and delight... I was so intent of serving him that I was... happy.  I was really happy.  I think there is something to this theory, I do.  I like the fact that they relate it to a child because they don't say thank you.  You do a million diaper changes and they can't do anything for you in return and you still love and serve them.  That is where marriage is different and yet if I could learn to look at it the same... Children do grow up in time but it takes years and their ability to give back is different with each one.  

I have a choice.  I have put in my 365 days.  I have fulfilled my commitment and I can stop if I choose.  I can say I tried, prayed and gave enough. When I woke up this morning believe me I thought everyone of these things (last night was not a high point).  I can be done... but I'm not.  I'm going to keep on praying for him everyday.  I am going to challenge myself again this year and try to up my game.  We are not in the honeymoon stage and love looks different now.  I could do better but I could do a whole lot worse (and that's more likely).  If I am going to put time and energy into a making a new relationship, why not do it with someone I have 19 years and 4 kids with (talk about having a lot in common)?  So, did we fix everything? No. Do we have a fairy tale marriage? No.   Are we where I hoped we would be a year ago... no but we are better, stronger and still together.  In the words of the great philosopher Bob Wiley "We're baby steppin'. We're doin' the work!" 

PS. For those of you who have told me in no uncertain words that I should not air my "dirty laundry", there's no need for other people to know those things or other like-minded statements (you know who you are)... no one is making you read this.  I have good days and I have bad days... get over it.  If you know anything about me, I don't do fake well and have no intention to try.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

So Which One Is True?...

My daughter asked me an honest question the other day.  She was getting mixed signals from teachers at our church.  She asked why sometimes they say there is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less and once you choose Christ no one can ever take you from His hand.  Other times they talk (at laudanum) about how you need to work for Christ and try to please Him.  They talk of how people only "think" they are saved but because their lives aren't producing enough they should question their faith. So which one is true?

So I told her what it's taken me my whole life to learn.

There is a reason God created marriage.  You see, it is a picture of our relationship with Him.  That is why we are called the Bride of Christ.  That is why there will be a great wedding feast in Heaven.  The first thing you learn about marriage is never to compare yours with anyone else's.  If God had wanted 5 billion of the same people that is what he would have created.  Instead, He made us in every size, shape, color, attitude, style and gifting.  He loves you differently then anyone else.  You have a unique relationship with Him.  If you want to please him then do just what you would do in a healthy marriage.  Find out what He likes and like it too.  Figure out what He doesn't like and try not to do it.  If you are married to a man who you know loves long hair and you cut it short, he will be disappointed that you didn't care about how he felt more then about what you wanted.  You can make mistakes or even get angry with each other and you're still married.  You can do things that delight or disappoint God and you are still His Bride.  Take time to know Him.  Don't just say Amen and walk away.  Take time to listen.  Take everything back to scripture.  If you want to know what God thinks about something, read what He has to say.  Do not listen to what other people think... listen to what He thinks.  He never changes.  He is always faithful.  He will never leave you.  If you want out of that marriage it will be you that leaves because He will not.  He promised and He keeps His promises.

God doesn't care nearly as much what you do as why you do it.  People will judge you based on what they see you do.  They will use their own rules and dishonest scales to measure the fruit of your life but it isn't theirs to measure.  God does not judge the way men do.  He looks at the heart.  You can be in the right place at the right time in the right clothes every week and if you are just there because you want to be good, you gained nothing for your trouble.  You can be in the wrong place and the wrong time and with all the wrong people but if you did it because you believed it was the right thing, God knows it, and He can still use it for good.  Just like in an earthly marriage, never compare yourself to another women and never compare your marriage with anyone else's.  You are different and your relationship is different.

 Love people.  Even when it is inconvenient.  Even when it doesn't make you look "good".  Even if it means going places that don't look "good".  One thing I can tell you is that God doesn't care how it "looks".  The Bible says to avoid the appearance of evil, not avoid the appearance of messy, socially awkward, poor, uneducated or anything that might make other people uncomfortable.  The Bible says to not make your brother stumble.  Nothing drives a person deeper into the dark then being surrounded by people who pretend to have it all together, all the time, and only love you when you are as plastic as they are.

Do not doubt your salvation unless you have stopped caring what God wants.  If you love Him and listen to His Word and work on your relationship, then you know Him and He knows you.  It's been my experience, that the more people focus on the "are you really saved" issue, the more likely it is that, they have resulted to "resaving" people, to avoid going out and loving an unlovable world full of broken people.  Love, listen, care and be you, all the other positions are filled and this is the one you were created for.

Monday, December 16, 2013

When the Children Rise Up and Call You...

For those who have never heard it, there's a verse that says "Her children will rise up and call her blessed". It's supposed to be the ultimate goal of a mom but... what if the Children rise up and call her on her crap? Then what's a mom to do?

I have four children.  I am a stay at home mom who has home schooled them nearly all their lives.  Five years ago, we moved to a log cabin in the boondocks. I think it's safe to say... we've met.  It is a strange thing when my kids confront me with things I am struggling with as a person.  As they have grown I have strived to teach them the finer skills of reading people and situations.  They have learned well, and that is usually a favorite quality to me... until they use it on me.

 My oldest son is half past 17.  He is the age I was when I married his father.  He is still immature at times (particularly when holding a controller or air soft gun) but he can turn into an adult at the most inopportune moments.  Like, when I am behaving like a child.  My daughter is nearly 16 and she too is a changeling.  I have always said that I am raising adults, not children, and have always known that I would reap what I have sown in them.  It is harder though, as they see things in me I don't want to see myself.  I have myself to blame when they call me on it too, as I have taught them to call a "spade a spade", "better a wound from a friends then a kind word from an enemy" and that you "can't fix what you don't know is broken".  Nearly gone are my little students, and in their place are some of my favorite people. They challenge me, encourage me, watch me and listen to me. They are insightful, driven, creative, caring and increasingly... right.  I see somethings in them that are hard to see too.  I see that there are, at times, a sharp edge to the words they choose.  I see that they will occasionally say things with little tact or love in the name of truth telling, and I know where they learned that too.

This parenting thing is complicated.  I am growing up with my kids and boy do we have a lot to learn. I'm glad the youngest one is still only 7.  I can handle being the mature one in at least that relationship.