I remember bringing him home from the hospital, 28 years to the day, like it happened last week. He had that beautiful jaundiced skin that looked so healthy to this new mama and he kept curling up in a ball most of his waking hours. Taking his picture proved a difficult task! I honestly couldn’t believe that the people at the hospital let me take a baby home. The first night home in July was almost the end of me…
We came home to the big old farmhouse that we had rented upon our return to our small hometown just a few months earlier. I kept hoping that the day would go smoothly and the night would never come. My parents lived about 5 miles from our home and we had loads of other family and friends very nearby whom we could call for help at any time – Except after 11:00 or so at night when I understood I could only call in the case of an emergency or the world would find out I was not new mom of the year material.
Our first day was filled with diapering, a few visitors, nursing, and sleeping – Scott, not his mama! I watched him sleep for hours, fretting over any buzzing fly that would come near him or loud noise that might frighten him. He was a wonderful baby all day long.
My mother called just before the 11:00 news came on that night. I told her everything was fine. The truth is I kept her on the phone as long as I could because I was terrified of being alone with my baby ALL NIGHT LONG! After we said our good-nights, Scott finished nursing. I had changed his diaper and I hoped beyond hope that sweet slumber would be upon my precious baby within minutes. He lay in my arms as I sang a lullaby and in a short while, his eyes began to flutter and he gradually fell sleep.
I slowly and ever so quietly ascended the narrow, wooden stairway with this new little blessing protectively in my new mama’s arms. I gently laid him in the beautiful cradle that my sister-in-love had crafted with her own hands for her babies and now generously let me borrow for my new bundle of joy. I stared down at the gift I had been blessed with and love, like I had never known before first becoming a mama just days before, washed over me. I knew that I would always do whatever I could to make his life the best I could and to ensure that he never doubted how completely he was loved.
I stepped into the bathroom to get ready for bed, leaving the door ajar so that I could hear any noises that may come from his cradle. I just kept thinking nervously, “What am I going to do with this baby if he starts crying? What if we both fall asleep and he chokes and I don’t wake up? What if a bug bites him and hurts him? Why the heck would they send a baby home with ME?! I have NO idea what I’m doing! This is NOT the same as babysitting!!”
So, naturally, my son started wailing within minutes! I picked him up. I tried to feed him and that didn’t work. I checked his diaper – Dry! I rocked him, walked him, patted him, sang to him, talked to him, laid him down, and held him.
NOTHING worked. He just kept on crying and crying for hours and hours.
Finally, just before 5:00 a.m., I was at the end of my rope, so I walked downstairs where his daddy was sleeping soundly on the couch. I woke him up with tears in my eyes and said, “I just can’t do this right. I need you to take him for a little while. He doesn’t want me. I can’t make him feel better.”
His daddy took him and Scott continued to scream for about 30 more minutes and then, silence… I sneaked down the stairs and there was my tiny, exhausted baby fast asleep on his snoring daddy’s heaving chest. I dragged myself up the stairs and slept gloriously and fitfully for the next two hours.
The following afternoon I confided in a friend how horrible our first night home was and she told me that the trick was to not let my baby know how nervous I was feeling because she had heard that babies react strongly to their mother’s emotions. She told me to “fake it until I could make it.” It was sage advice. I told myself the rest of the day that this night was going to be different, wonderful. I decided we would have a restful night and I refused to worry about it anymore.
Scott went to sleep like a little angel that night. He woke up every 4 hours and nursed before falling right back to sleep again. From that night on (until he was a teenager!), he only kept me awake when he was getting a new tooth. On those nights, we stayed up ALL night long together and I loved every minute of helping my precious boy through the pain of welcoming a new tooth into his sweet little mouth! By the time he was a month old, he slept 10 hours straight every night.
I’m not sure if he had something terribly wrong the first night and it never happened again or if it was just a coincidence that Scott was a perfect baby after that first night. I know that I believed that it was simply mind over matter for more than seven years until I had my Hannah, and in spite of the “real” veteran confidence I had, she screamed her head off all night for no good reason on the regular!
This is a HUGE year for me. I had my 50th birthday in January and in just a bit more than a month my Honey and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I have been married to him ½ of my entire life! I have joked about being married to him for 1/2 of my life when I was 5o since I can remember! How did it get here already?!
There are times when it has felt like it has been twice that long. The months when we can’t seem to find each other or remember who the other person is anymore, days when we can’t agree on anything, the times when we just get on each other’s nerves all of the time, and we are just plain old ugly to each other have felt endless. Those times don’t happen very often, especially now, but when they have, it is excruciating….
There have been a very few times when I couldn’t even remember why I wanted to be with him in the first place because I was wounded so deeply. Those times never lasted very long, but I’d be lying if I said they never happened. Marriage is hard. It’s also long – sometimes… if you’re lucky and committed, but long means SO much can and will happen.
I think one of my most favorite parts of being married to my Honey is that we’ve worked through huge piles of our junk and decided that we are committed to being really present in this relationship, not just surviving it and staying married for a long time. We always had a pretty good marriage on the outside, but it was pretty icky a lot of the time on the inside. I couldn’t admit this to myself for a very long time. I think that’s why I was such a good actress and contributed to the pretty marriage façade others saw for so many years.
I remember when things got the worst they had ever been and I was wavering between walking out the door and staying almost every other day, someone told me that if I chose to stay and really worked to make things better, God would bless my marriage and it would be more wonderful than I could imagine. I thought that person was on crack, honestly. I just couldn’t see past all of my pain enough to see anything ever getting better. I was just beginning to grasp how much of a lie my marriage had been for the first almost 20 years. After being given some more advice, I decided to just wait, to give myself time to heal some and to not make decisions based on pure emotion at such a low point. That was some of the best advice I have ever gotten. It saved my life and my marriage.
During counseling my Honey and I decided that we were all in. After all, we didn’t really have anything left to lose. I remember thinking that it truly couldn’t get any worse and I needed to know that I had put it all out there before I could walk away with a clear conscience: my fears, my insecurities, my sins, my needs, ALL my junk with complete integrity, no mixed signals, no games, no protecting myself. My Honey did the same in a big way. I think it was probably the first time in our whole marriage that we just depended on God to see us through.
I think we both felt like we were seeing each other for the first time when we first began to really talk candidly in counseling. There were times when he would admit something to me that I had questioned him about for years and I felt like he handed me back my reality and after an initial burst of anger, I was in awe of his honesty and vulnerability. Other times I was almost unbelieving when his deep love for me would come shining through. It took me a long time to fully trust his love for me. It took him almost as long to trust my love for him. The irony about that is that it was mostly because of our own junk that we felt this way, not because of the other person’s actions. I think that’s probably true of most relationships…
Our beginning wasn’t picture perfect. We had both gone through ugly divorces just a year before we got married. We also each brought a precious toddler son into our union. We dated almost 5 whole months when we got married (What in the world were we thinking?!). We were both in our last year of college and my parents were living with me at the time! Much of our first several years of marriage were spent in the courtroom dealing with constant custody and visitation issues. The attorney bills were astronomical. Blending a family is not all Bradybunch-ish, I can tell you that! We loved each other very much and that was the glue that kept us together in the early part of our marriage; that and God’s mercy.
There are things I have always loved about my Honey. He has always made me laugh more than anyone else – especially when I didn’t even know I needed to. I love that he loves to talk. He’s like a best girlfriend, only SO MUCH BETTER!! He has always been a gentleman. He holds doors open, puts me on the safe side of the path whenever we’re walking outside, and always takes care of me when we go out, holding my chair out for me, getting my drinks, etc. He has always been a loving daddy to our babies. He rocked ‘em, diapered ‘em and coached their teams. I don’t think he ever missed a school or a sporting event that he knew about. I love that he works so hard for our family because he wants us to be comfortable.
There are even more things that I love about him now because they were hard won by us. I love his willingness to put me and others first. I love his humility which has replaced his angry insecurity. I love his presence with our family and his commitment to our health. I adore his commitment to our marriage – its stability, its growth, its happiness and its authenticity. I love that now he understands that our family would rather spend time with him than have extra money and he is trusting God more to take care of us. He still works VERY hard, but he puts relationships before money now. He really seeks God now and is willing to be authentic with other Christians in a way he wasn’t able to be a few years ago. I am mad about the way he bakes and cooks with our children!
Most of the time I can’t believe how quickly 25 years have zoomed by. How did we have time to raise 5 children, move across the country and get this old?! I can’t wrap my head around where we started, where we are now, and how we got here. It’s been quite a ride and I don’t ever want to get off. It still amazes me that this is my life. I get to wake up and live this life. I get to be known and loved. Does it get any better?… I don’t think so…
I love my husband more than I thought possible. Apparently, the lady on crack knew what she was talking about! I like him more than anyone else in the whole world. He’s strong, protective, hilarious, gorgeous, smart, sweet, kind, thoughtful, honoring, talented, silly, and beautiful inside and out.
He fought for me.
I am his and he is mine…
for at least another 25 years…
I find that whenever I write about my childhood or almost anytime before I was a “grownup,” I have a tendency to apologize for who I used to be, almost as if I was her just yesterday. I still feel HUGE shame for the person I was pre-adulthood. I didn’t torture small (or large) animals as a child or anything, but I was outspoken, pushy and downright mean to some of the girls who were bullies back in the day. I was a kid…
I read this really neat thing on a dear friend’s (who I have known since my days of shame) facebook wall:
Now, while I think this is a bit of an oversimplification because I’m a 12-Step girl and I believe in making amends and all of that, my first thought when I read this was, “AMEN!!” … and then I realized the person who judges me most by my past is me.
Even while I type this I am imagining old school friends, family members, and others from my past reading this and I have this overwhelming urge to explain why I was so awful or to justify the many bratty things I did. I want to say, “I’m so sorry for the way I acted! Please forgive me and know I’m not that girl anymore! I’m a good person now.” I was a child…
I’m not that girl anymore, nor have I been for a very long time. She was not as terrible as I was led to believe she was. She was NOT evil. She was very sweet at times. She wanted to be accepted for who she was. She wanted to be loved unconditionally and feel like she was even likeable at times. She wanted to be really good at something – anything! – And have her family, especially her mother, notice it and be proud of her. She defended the underdogs always. She was scared and insecure ALL of the time, even though she was a phenomenol actress and appeared to be overly confident to other children. She loved to argue with people because she was pretty good at that… but an argumentative girl is not something people notice in a good way, nor is it something to be proud of, apparently…
I left the town I grew up in a long time ago. Part of the reason I did that was to leave it all behind. I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to be a new person and I couldn’t really get a clean slate there. In the decades since then it has been a rare new friend of mine who doesn’t hear about what an awful person I was back then. I guess I thought if I confessed it enough, it was a kind of repentance. I wanted my present friends to know who I used to be. I wanted to be upfront and transparent. I wanted them to have an out…
I wish I could tell you I was protecting them, but I think it was me I was protecting. No one wants to be friends with girls who are bossy and argumentative. Right?
When I write it all down, I realize how silly this all is because it was SO long ago and I’m not that girl anymore… Well, I am outspoken if it’s something that I feel really passionate about… Maybe I am that girl. I’m just grown up, my edges have rounded out, my heart has been broken and softened, I REALLY love people, some of them even love me back, and I’ve found a few things that I’m REALLY good at. He loves me unconditionally and that’s enough.
I think of friends who have been through so much more as children – sexual abuse, loss of parents or other loved ones, divorce – and I feel like a drama queen. This is how I’ve stayed in this rut for so many years. I minimize my pain. I think a lot of us do that when we become adults. We file our childhood pain under “Get Over It” and move ahead… only not really. It’s there. It always shows up even if we don’t recognize it. It’s there and leaving, burying, pretending, none of those things heal it. Pulling it out, really looking at it with blatant honesty, forgiving the necessary parties, and then putting it to rest forever or until we’re ready to deal with a little more of it – that’s the way to heal it.
And, still, I haven’t forgiven myself. I’m not sure how to do that, not even sure how to begin. I just know it’s looming in the background and affecting my present relationships. I know that I still feel genuine embarrassment at the little girl I was (sometimes). I know that this may all sound very silly to someone who is not me, and that’s okay. If one of my friends came to me and told me that s/he was struggling with forgiving the person s/he was 30-40 years ago or more, I would tell my friend to let go of that and embrace their present self. I would reassure him/her that no person in her right mind would still be holding a grudge against a child this many years later for things that children do. Right?
I’ve been avoiding writing on my blog because I’m feeling a little like once I get started, I might just vomit my junk all over the place, and, really, who wants to be on the receiving end of that?!
So, I’m apologizing in advance for any emotional puking I may do.
I have had mostly unhealthy friendships for most of my adult life. I used to want to save people. Truth be told, I still want to save people, to love them unconditionally, make sure they feel included, valued, important. The only difference is that now I know how unhealthy that can be. I have an almost neurotic fear of anyone feeling left out. I also can’t stand for anyone to feel unloved. I am, by nature, a “fixer” and it looked pretty noble and sacrificial from the outside for most of my life. But, as happens with most illusions, the truth begins to rear its ugly head eventually. About 5 years ago, when my life was falling apart, a wonderful counselor, who is now an even more wonderful friend, helped me uncover my other motives for my choices in friends and how I behaved in close relationships (my husband, my children, my family of origin, etc.) in general. It all began with the profound question, “So, how’s that working for you?”
I realized that I felt left out much of the time growing up. I’m the only girl in my family of origin with four brothers, so being left out on some level is kind of a given. My mom and I were not close while I was growing up. The public schools that I attended, like most institutions, did not lend themselves to inclusion of all. It is heartbreaking to me to see how unaccepting children and teenagers can be. Even as an adult, I am usually the “odd girl out” when we have a get-together with my family of origin.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I want everyone to feel part of things or why I have a deep need for people to feel loved without condition. Nor does it take a brain surgeon to realize that I long for people to return the favor so that I can feel part of things and truly loved. The crazy part of all of this is that it took confirmation from some of the people closest to me that I was not loved unconditionally by them, not really even worth fighting for, for me to see who I am truly, deeply, madly loved by and who thinks I am worth fighting for no matter what.
He thinks I am worth it. He loves me and all of my junk and He knows all of my junk more intimately than ANYONE else ever could! That may sound cliche’ to some of you, but the realization of this truth wrapped its lovely arms around me and enveloped me in a blanket of peace, grace and joy such as I had NEVER known before. It saved my life. It has changed my relationships with others in many ways. I feel more free to love others with grace. I don’t feel like I have to “save” people like I used to because I trust Him to love them SO much more than I could ever imagine. I understand that until people are ready to take the steps toward healing, no other person can “fix” them or love them out of it. But I can love them – no matter the path they choose.
I wish I could say that now I only have completely Christ-centered healthy friendships with other women, but it just ain’t so… I still find myself longing to be loved unconditionally, to be part of the group, to be wanted… I am struggling daily with knowing how to be in a healthy friendship – with give and take, seasons of unbalance that are just part of life, but grace abounds and love flows abundantly, where both people give each other the benefit of the doubt and trust each other because they’ve earned each other’s trust through their journey together.
I wish I could tell you that when a friendship blows up in my face I just tell myself that He loves me completely and that is enough – and I wish I could tell you that I come to this conclusion immediately after the pain of betrayal and loss set in. I can tell you that I always come back to this truth, but it’s usually after spending a lot of time feeling indignant, hurt, sad, angry, etc. Pity parties do occur, I’m ashamed to admit. I can also say that this truth still wraps its lovely arms around me and saves me so much quicker than it used to. Knowing that we are all worth loving with all of our “junk” helps me to understand that someone else’s inability to reciprocate friendship is probably more about them than it is about me. My shortcomings are not a reflection of someone else’s worth, but simply my junk getting in the way. This isn’t an excuse. I have to bring my junk out into the light so that it can be worked through, dealt with and deflated so that it doesn’t have the power to hurt anyone anymore.
The part of this process that I struggle the most with is what 12 Step people call step 3: “Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” I am aware of the problem, aware that He is God and He knows best, but I’m always unsure of what my part is after that. This is probably my biggest struggle as a mom, and I think my kids are more frustrated with me than I am.
I was one of those moms who rocked all of my babies to sleep, made homemade baby food and my own healthy wipes. I never missed a game or an event that our children participated in. I was the PTA president, homeroom mom, and had HUGE weekly pool parties for 30-40 of my children’s friends and family members each summer. My children had haircuts ever 4-6 weeks, dressed to the nines, and (most) always minded their manners. In 2003 I became aware of the lunacy I was living one night when I was reading my daughter’s report card which complimented me on what beautiful outfits she wore to school! I realized that I once took great pride in this and now I was full of conviction about the example I was showing my children and I began to question the why of it all.
Several things happened in the next couple of years; we began to homeschool, we changed churches, and eventually we moved across the country. We began to value stuff less, sometimes too less, I would think as my ragamuffins would walk into church barefoot many Sunday mornings. I would also feel thankful that we had changed churches, as this would not have been accepted at our former place of worship. All of this made our family closer in many ways, and I am thankful for that, however, I was still overly mothering our children. I would tell myself, in a very smug inner voice, that I was a wonderful mom, willing to sacrifice for my children unlike so many other moms who behaved so selfishly. I knew that one day my children would arise and call me blessed because I had made them and their father my whole life. I had loved them all unconditionally and created wonderful memories for them, so they would always love me.
So, when we moved to Texas and everything fell apart, I found myself sitting in a chair in one of the offices at our church. I was lamenting how unfair it was that I would have this horrible thing happen to me when I had been such an amazing mother and wife. I had sacrificed EVERYTHING for my family! The next question changed my life…
Counselor: “Why did you do that?”
Me: “Because I’m the mom. I’m the wife. That’s what good moms and wives do. They’re my life.”
Counselor: “But why did you do that? Who asked you to? What were you hoping for?”
Me (indignant): “Well, no one asked me to. I didn’t want anything. I just wanted to… I don’t know…”
Counselor: “What did you sacrifice?”
Counselor: “What do you mean?”
Me: “I gave up my dreams. I lost me because I was so busy supporting, encouraging, and saving all of them.”
Counselor (patiently): “Did someone ask you to do that? Did they expect it?”
Me: “Yes… No… I don’t know. It’s just what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it?”
Counselor (kindly): “What dreams did you give up? Why did you do that?”
Me (feeling defensive): “I don’t remember. I feel like you’re attacking me for being a good mom and wife.”
Counselor: “I want you to really think about why you gave up everything for everyone around you when no one asked you to. I want you to think about what you expected to get out of that – not in a selfish way, it’s just that whenever human beings do something there are always expectations, some unselfish and some not. Try to figure out what kept you on that path.”
I went home that day feeling really beat up! I had been respected for the kind of mom I was to our 5 children. Our marriage was idealistic on the outside. It wasn’t easy for me to be honest with myself about the why after convincing my “self” for two decades that I was a model wife and mother for no other reason than I loved my family immensely and this is what God called on me to be. This was a big part of the reason I lived the way I did, but it was not the only reason. He revealed to me that as long as I was putting myself behind everyone else’s dreams and struggles, I didn’t have to put myself out there and risk falling on my face pursuing my own dreams – or more importantly, becoming who He wanted me to become. I also believed on some unconscious level that if I loved my husband and children unconditionally and completely that they would always love me the same way. I guess I thought I was taking out “love insurance,” guaranteeing I would never have to feel that I wasn’t worth loving again.
I’ve done a bunch of work since then. It hasn’t all been pretty. Honestly, most of it has been ugly and uncomfortable. I’ve pulled back from being SO involved in my kids’ lives and tried to trust Him to take care of them and to allow them to stumble at times. Most of the time my kids feel abandoned by me. They feel like I went from being all over every aspect of their lives to not really caring what happens to them. I’m just not very good at finding that healthy place, yet. I think that it’s natural for them to want things to be as they were, but I know that is not what He wants from us. I know it’s not what is best for them. I just wish I could find that healthy, balanced place where my kids feel loved and they know that I really believe in them and where I am involved just enough. I’m working on it. I cling to 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but really it’s just me being thankful that He knows my heart. He knows I’m trying to be in His will and His grace and love coupled with my love will cover my sins in being a mama and in my other relationships.
He’s freed me from a lot of the superficial things that used to enslave me. I don’t believe all of my children have to fit into a “Tricia-shaped” box that says they must earn a 3.5 or higher gpa, and then attend college immediately after where they will meet the perfect partner during their last two years at university, get married upon graduation, have big money jobs and live happily ever after. I trust each of them to find their way. Each of our children is a truly amazing human being with more talent than I could ever muster. None of them fits into the ugly box that our society deems “good” and I am thankful that they are all finding their way in this world with no need for any shape box. I wish I knew if and how to help them during this part of their lives. I’m kind of like a drug addict. If I start to get involved, I’m afraid I won’t be able to quit and I’ll just want more and more… So, I pray a lot and I continue to be thankful for 1Peter 4:8, because I’m still feeling around in the dark and His love and grace are the only reason I’m still standing.
Or is it?….
Not for everyone. Some moms are geographically or emotionally far from their children. Some have lost their children – in death, by estrangement, to others. Some have not been able to conceive, don’t feel called to adopt or simply don’t choose to be moms. Then there are the sons and daughters who struggle because their mother has passed, is very ill, or was not what they needed her to be growing up or now, and worse.
It’s not all as pretty as the Hallmark cards and some of the posts on facebook would have us believe. It’s hard to be politically correct when you are dealing with something as emotionally charged as the holiday that makes as if all women who have given birth are saints. Personally, I have very mixed emotions about tomorrow. Each year when I’m in church, I feel a bit sad about the women (and men) I know who are struggling with this day. There is often an insensitivity in our culture to those of us who weren’t loved well by their mothers or who haven’t been able to become mothers. I’ve heard church friends say things like, “Well, even if you’re not a mother, everyone has a mother, so we can all celebrate that.” Except that we can’t ALL celebrate that, either. There are mothers who are/were abusive, emotionally absent, selfish, unloving, physically absent by choice, etc.
I’ve always LOVED Mother’s Day. I used to enjoy how my family gathered to celebrate my mother and when I became a mom, it was like crossing over to the other side – the really cool, up-on-a-pedestal side. When Bob and I married, he always made me feel very loved and appreciated on Mother’s Day. When we had all 5 of our babies, after I gave birth to our twins, I was a bit of a celebrity on Mother’s Day at church. I’m not gonna lie, I ate it up! I was exhausted most of the other days of the year and it felt wonderful to be acknowledged and honored for the life I chose to live. It didn’t happen much outside of church where the world doesn’t think much of stay-at-home moms.
I know it sounds cliche’, but my very favorite MD gifts EVER were the “complete the sentence” cards my babies made for me when they were in elementary school. Their answers were SO honest, funny and sweet – and self-centered! I do this every year in my classroom with my kinder kiddos because I remember sitting with each of my children with tears streaming down my cheeks while I read their love letter to me. Caleb loved me because I made the best goulash and picked up a babysitting job to help pay for a family trip to California and Arizona. Hannah loved me because I took her fun places and she thought I was pretty. Aaron thought I was best at cooking food for him and Scott thought I washed clothes and kept the house really clean!
I wish they would still make a homemade card for me with a note about us inside. That would make my heart sing. I don’t really want chocolate, earrings or flowers… Well, I do LOVE getting flowers!… More than anything I want their time. I want to know that they have some good memories and that they know how much I love them. I don’t want it because they feel guilty or because Hallmark and every jewelry store is telling them that they SHOULD do something nice and commercial for me because I gave birth to them. I’ve spent the last few years trying to pull out of that martyr thing that I had been molded into my entire life. It felt pretty comfortable and the world supported me in it, so breaking out has been a chore – and honestly, I’m not there, yet.
Part of me just wants to stay in “Denial Land” and pretend that MD is just a beautiful day that reminds us to appreciate our mothers and I understand for a very few of us, this is true and I envy you – not in a covetous, I hope your day is ruined kind of way, but more of a “I wish everyone had that, too” kind of way.
I’m not sure how we can “fix” this day so that everyone is comfortable and happy in it, but I do think that it’s important that we are all aware that this day is very painful for loads of people. I think it is even more important that we are more sensitive to their pain. It is deeply and achingly painful to realize that your mother doesn’t really love you in any fashion that resembles what the commercials play over and over and over for a month preceding this day. When you’ve dedicated your life to your children and found your greatest joy in this and then find that your children don’t have time for you, it feels as if a big chunk of your life was a lie. I’ve been told that it makes one who is unable to give birth to a child feel like less of a woman and less of a human being when all of the mothers are honored for doing and being what they have longed for, but are unable to do or be. I have friends who have chosen not to have children and some of them have felt judged by others on this day (and other days) or wished a Happy Mother’s Day by ignorant people trying to spread the joy!
It’s unavoidable, I know. But that doesn’t mean we should just shrug our shoulders and plow ahead.
There are SO many people who have been surrogate mothers to children, aunts, neighbors, teachers, friend’s parents – not all of them women, btw! I’m glad we are becoming a society that acknowledges that more and more. I hope we do our best to honor these wonderful human beings with acts of love and acknowledgement. I have friends who honor their fathers on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because he was both parents to them and I have friends who do the same for their mothers. I wish we could have an AWESOME PERSON’s Day that would kind of blanket honor all of the people who helped us become who we are because of their sacrificial and unconditional love. I wish we didn’t commercialize every holiday so much that that begins to dictate to us what we should be, give, and do when it comes to holidays.
That’s probably part of the reason we cancelled our cable years ago, but that’s another post…
Yesterday was Good Friday. My Honey and I went to church with some of our kiddos, then we grabbed a bite to eat before going to a really late showing of “God’s Not Dead” at the theatre. I was determined to get in touch with what Easter is all about. It seems I am too busy with other stuff most of the time, so I welcome such times that I can be “forced” to spend time with Him. I’m not proud of this revelation, just being real…
I’ll be honest. I’ve been sitting back waiting to see the reviews come in on the 3 Bible/Christian movies that have come out recently. In the past I have felt that most Christian movies are a bit corny and the acting is over-the-top. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but I am of the opinion that if non-believers go to see these movies, they should not be laughing or groaning through most of the scenes. I spent much of my life not believing in God, and I remember seeing “those” movies during that time in my life. There was rarely any good or lasting emotion evoked in me. I felt like I was usually being scared into believing in a loving god who would protect me if I chose him, but who would allow me to be tortured if I didn’t. I never chose Him back then because it felt dishonest, like I wouldn’t be choosing Him as much as I was terrified of the alternative. That wasn’t love and even though I didn’t know Him, I understood that much.
“God’s Not Dead” seemed like the best choice, especially since our college aged kids were going with us. I watched a few trailers. The acting looked good. The premise looked very interesting. The reaction I got from our children was less than enthusiastic. They both asked if we could go see a different movie more than once. Their dad told them that they could go and see a different movie while we went to GND. They both declined seeing another movie, but I think they mostly did that because I have the power of mommy-guilt. Sometimes I’m okay with that… Like on Good Friday when I want to share some God moments with them…
Our younger children are part of a generation who scoffs at the church’s scare tactics of the past. They also see through the emotional sway that some dramatic Christian movies, sermons, and songs attempt to have on people. So, while they watched some Christian movies with their dad and I in recent years, they have been disappointed by less than great acting, over-the-top emotional blackmail and guilt tactics that they have experienced in many of them. They have a hard time with the christianese and how perfectly Christians are often portrayed.
They have a very genuine relationship with Jesus. They revere Him, but they also see Him as an intimate friend who they want to be very authentic and real with. They have helped me to see Him for who He really is and to get past seeing Him as someone who always judges me and is never happy with anything I do. We all have a great passion for helping others to discover Him and want genuine relationship with Him, so I am thankful that we are accountable to one another about such things (most of the time).
Church was truly lovely. I had to work to focus on what this season is all about at first, but the cool thing is because that is obviously a struggle for a bunch of people, our Good Friday service was completely focused on helping us go “there” together. As we went through each day of Holy Week leading up to Good Friday, we read the biblical account, we worshipped through song, we watched clips of last year’s History Channel’s (I think) Bible movie and took communion. I typically feel overwhelmed with guilt during the Passover season. I feel humbled that He did that for me and ashamed that I continue to sin even when I’m fully aware of what He went through willingly for me and my sin. This year I feel a deep sense of gratitude, more than guilt or shame. I don’t mean that I don’t feel convicted about my sin. I just mean that as I read about what He went through and I watched the horrific depiction on screen, I felt so loved by Him. For just a moment I accepted His gift fully and I felt humbled in this really beautiful way, like a bride might feel the first time her loving groom sees her at the other end of the aisle and his face gives away how overwhelmed he is by her beauty, inside and out.
At dinner my babies expressed their hesitation about the movie we were going to and they teased me a bit. I had done my research, so I held my own… I think… I also privately prayed that this movie would not be corny or have weak acting in it. In the first few minutes, my kids were huddled up and giggling – we were the only people in the theatre until 5 minutes in, when 5 other people joined us. At that point, they behaved themselves. And I have to tell ya… It was pretty good. I was NOT impressed with the very pretty Cassidy Gifford’s acting ability. My daughter commented that she must’ve had some connections, because she was obviously not in this film because of her talent. She is, in fact, Kathy and Frank Gifford’s daughter. She was only in part of the first 1/2 of the movie, so that was a plus for us. The acting by everyone else was very good. Kevin Sorbo was excellent, as was Shane Harper who plays the main character, Josh. Willie and Korie Robertson (Duck Dynasty) were very themselves and endearing. The storyline was excellent and complicated and VERY believable, in my critical opinion. I appreciated that the film explored other cultures/religions and didn’t villanize them. The conclusion was not all tied up in a perfect, pretty, deep purple bow that makes you roll your eyes. It had some corny moments with a little bit of christianese, but that’s okay, I think. Some of the highlights of my life have been corny and sprinkled with christianese…
One of the coolest part of my day was that in my daily Bible reading (on my phone, that I listen to more than read), one of the passages was Matthew 10:32-33 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. When we got to church that was one of the passages Rick shared in his message and again it was mentioned in the movie several times. I always say I need to be hit over the head when He wants me to move… So, I consider myself hit!
I think we all enjoyed it. I think my kiddos may even be glad they went. I was reminded that He willingly died a horrific death for us because He loves us completely and unconditionally. I was reminded that He calls on us to do uncomfortable things in His name because He wants more of us to accept this gift from Him and sometimes we are the reason people decide to give Him a chance. The big picture is hard to see when I don’t step back away from the day-to-day “important” stuff I too often get buried under. I’ve had this revelation before. I long for the days when I was in regular, constant communication with Him. Not much changes. After a bit I typically return to busy and tired mode. This wasn’t such a problem for me before I went to work full time and was part of a church where I knew people more intimately. Changing churches is not an option, so I wonder what other people do. How do busy people maintain a relationship with Him? – one where you speak to Him and more importantly, HEAR Him?
I’ve been struggling with this for YEARS now and I really would LOVE to hear from you, so leave your comments and suggestions below, please…
This is not my story. I am telling it for someone else.
I used to love to visit my grandparents – both sets of them! My mother’s parents lived in a big house and my grandma would almost always take me shopping when I spent a night or weekend with them. She would take me out to lunch and we would look at girly stuff all day. I treasure those times with my grandma. My grandfather loved to read and we would read all of the Harry Potter books together each time one came out. Now, by together I mean that he would challenge me to beat him and then he would be finished before I got to chapter 4! I loved reading those books with him and feeling that kinship with my grandpa who could be distant and even angry much of the time.
My parents were very conservative and traditional Christians when I was very young. This meant that they were also Republicans and that drove my grandfather crazy. It was normal for him to attack my mother almost everytime we got together about how evil her republican candidates were, as well as Christians, in general. Usually my mother would try to explain to him that she didn’t want to discuss this with him and that it was okay to disagree with each other. He yelled a lot about this stuff. I didn’t really understand it. I was 9 years old.
It was summer time and I was going to spend the whole weekend with my maternal grandparents. They came to pick me up. My grandpa immediately started giving my mom and dad a hard time about President Bush, and they made light of it while my grandma and I talked about what we were going to do the next day. We went out to eat on our way home and then I got to watch a movie before going to sleep that night.
My grandma used to always buy me instant strawberry oatmeal in the little envelopes. I felt loved because she would do that just for me. I think she had ALL of her grandchildren’s favorite breakfast food in her house at all times! After breakfast and after I got ready to go shopping with my grandma, I was in the living room watching television with my grandpa. I remember a campaign commercial for George W. came on. My grandpa began telling me how wrong my parents were for voting for him. He told me a bunch of things about him that were supposed to be horrible, I guess, but I was 9, so I didn’t really understand what most of it meant. Finally, at the end of his rant, he told me that George W. Bush was Satan! Now that one I kind of understood, at least in a literal way, and I was horrified.
I sat on that for a few days, when for some reason, and I don’t remember why, I finally told my mom what happened at my grandparents’ home. My mom was very upset. She talked to my dad and then came to me and informed me that she would be discussing this with my grandpa when we went over there next. Unfortunately, that was just a day or two later.
My siblings and I were at the other end of the house playing in the playroom when I heard my mom’s voice raised, telling my grandpa, “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell our children that the President is satan.” I also remember her asking him to respect their right to raise their children with their values, just as he raised his children with his. It got a bit heated and at one point my grandpa was denying that he said anything about Bush being satan. My mom responded that a 9-year old would not just fabricate such a thing and that to a child raised in a Christian home, being told by her grandfather that the President whom her parents were planning to vote for is satan was a HUGE deal and simply NOT okay. My grandma finally went into the room where they were arguing and told my grandpa that he should not tell his grandchildren such things and then told my mother that she was sure he didn’t mean anything by it.
I guess that meant that the discussion was over…
When we left a bit later that afternoon and I attempted to tell my grandpa good-bye, he stiffened up, and pulled back when I tried to hug and kiss him. He said not a word. I remember feeling like I wished I never would’ve told my mom what happened and coming to the realization that I had done something really wrong when I did.
A week and a half later we were all heading to my grandparents’ house to celebrate my grandma’s birthday. I was excited to see my cousins who lived a couple of hours away and knew they would be there because they came for Grandma’s birthday, even though they never came for anyone else’s in the family. When we arrived, half of the family was already there and one of my cousins ran up to tell me that grandpa was going to give us rides on his “cadillac” golfcart. I said, “Hi, Grandpa,” but he didn’t respond. Then I asked him if I could ride with the other kids and he ignored me, again. I asked him a few times and each time he ignored me. I knew my grandpa would lash out if I asked him too many times, so after he loaded all of the other kids up and announced there was no more room, I waited for the next trip to ask him again. When I did, he told me that there might be room on the next one, but not this time. Several of my cousins were riding for the second time. I decided to go in the house and use the bathroom. Once in there I began to cry. I was heartbroken and mad at myself for even saying anything about Bush being satan! One of my uncles knocked on the door, so I wiped away my tears and tried to sneak out the door. My uncle asked if I was okay. I said, “Yeah,” and then I went out the front door as soon as I could, crawled into the roasting hot back seat of my parents’ car and cried my eyes out. I knew I couldn’t let anyone know that I was upset, because if my grandpa could be that angry and cruel to me over the other incident, I didn’t want to see what would happen if my mom found out this time and confronted him again.
My mom was inside and was watching the rides with grandpa. She tells me she knew how upset he still was, so she was watching to see if he’d let me ride or not. When he drove by the second time without me on there, she began looking for me. By the time he drove by with the third bunch of grandkids and I was still not on, she was in full mama-bear mode and was looking everywhere for me.
Suddenly the car door swung open and my mom found me, crying and sweating in the back seat crouched down on the floor. She was so full of emotion, I felt scared. She asked me what had happened and why I was crying. I told her that I was sorry I had tattled on grandpa. I told her I wouldn’t do it again. I told her repeatedly that it was all my fault that he was leaving me out and I begged her not to say anything… She was shaking as she told me to wait there and she would be right back. Minutes later I heard her voice and my grandma’s voice pleading with my mom just before the door opened and my siblings all piled into the car. My mom told her that we were leaving and she was not going to discuss why. They hugged good-bye and we pulled out of the driveway and headed home.
My mother was livid. She kept reassuring me that this was not my fault. She was crying, but I understood even then that the tears were not for her, but for me. She apologized for allowing that to happen. And the one thing I remember most is that she turned around, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Your grandfather is an asshole. You did NOTHING wrong and no grandfather should EVER treat his grandchild the way you were treated today.” My parents were very old fashioned about respect, so this made a HUGE impression on me.
Years later my mom apologized to me for all of this. She said her one regret was that she didn’t confront her father that day or at some point. She felt as if she didn’t really protect me because after a short time, we began visiting again and nothing was ever resolved. In all of the emotion of that day, she felt that she was protecting me because I had begged her not to say anything, but later it felt like it was too much to confront, so instead she just kept a more watchful eye on her children, but kept silent about it. Looking back, it’s telling to me that my grandparents never asked my mother what happened that afternoon when we all rushed off before the celebration was ever started.
I realize now that I just accepted that as normal when I was young. My grandfather regularly got angry with his children and grandchildren and rejected them and then they just moved on. It was a common occurence for my grandpa to become angry and kick someone out when we had a family gathering. It was normal to be manipulated into feeling bad if you spoke out against such treatment and we were supposed to internalize our pain and not tell other people. Making waves, confronting bad behavior did not fare well in this sweep everything under the rug community. It took my mom a long time to break away from that way of thinking, but she did because she wanted us to have healthier and more honest lives. She still struggles with being real at times and she still has moments when she tries to run back to what was “normal” for most of her life. I don’t struggle with it. I refuse to live in that because I’ve seen the pain that comes from it. I still carry it with me…
It’s been a rough couple of weeks, Sister! Two weekends ago our youngest son, totaled his car. Not a scratch on him! For such a terrible incident, it couldn’t have been more perfect, really. The accident happened right in front of the Austin Police Department and it was the other driver’s fault, so there was no argument about it, and from what my son says the other people took full responsibilty and were very nice. Both parties had insurance – HUGE! NO ONE was injured – all that really matters… especially after I saw the pictures of his car. Aaron was completely focused on losing his car, the financial loss, the loss of freedom, the inconvenience. I know this is somewhat normal for a 19 year old guy, but this mama understands how little stuff means and how much the people that you love mean! I think the poor boy was in shock. After a few days he seemed to understand how lucky he was and put things in perspective.
On Sunday my Honey started complaining that he felt like he was getting the flu and that he had pain on his abdomen around a little bump from what he thought was an ingrown hair. I have to be honest. I thought he was being a little dramatic. He wasn’t running a temp and he was eating just fine. We called our doctor’s office Sunday evening and the answering service took his information and assured him the office would call first thing Monday morning. I knew he was for real when he decided to call in sick on Monday. He NEVER calls in sick. My Honey is a workaholic and he would have to be almost dying to not go to work.
I called him at 9:30 a.m. on Monday to see what the doctor’s office had said and he told me they hadn’t called him, yet. He tried calling again, only to reach the answering service who again told him that they had relayed his prior message and would do so again. They told him that it had been very difficult to reach anyone at the office for a couple of weeks. UGH!! So, I do a search on my computer, find four phone numbers for the office and begin calling all of them. No one answers until I dial the last of the four! I’m told that they can get him in next week and that they never got our message. I explain to her how ludicrous this all is. This is my husband’s health. He called over the weekend, no one called back, no one is answering the phones, and no one seems to care. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
She then tells me that they just got a cancellation at the office closest to us tomorrow morning… How convenient…
Tuesday morning: Bob says he’s not feeling great. He feels like he is running a low-grade temp and doesn’t want anything to eat. He looks a little pitiful, tired and pale. I go to work (a mile up the road) and tell him to call as soon as he knows anything.
He calls me four hours later from the doctor’s office to say that they want him to go to the emergency room at Seton (in Austin) as soon as possible because they can’t tell if he has a hernia or what is going on and they don’t have any equipment to find out. Again… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Couldn’t they admit him? I’m baffled, Jeffy…
Caleb and my Honey pull up to the school to go to the ER. My husband looks terrible. He is red, his head looks swollen, much of him looks swollen, and he is in great pain. We drive to the hospital. We are told because of his diabetes, his risk of gangrene is very great and they need to remove the “mass” as soon as possible. They don’t have any idea what the mass is from and don’t seem concerned with that part of it, just that we need to get it out, get rid of the infection, and get my Honey’s temp down. They tell us that surgery will be in two hours or less.
After an hour they rush into the room, tell us by some awesome stroke of luck the surgeon has arrived early and will begin surgery at any moment. We are relieved, mostly, but still overwhelmed by all of this urgency. We talk about it, prepare to be separated, ask various staff members what is going on in my hubby’s body and wait…
Four hours later, they take us to pre-op. I’m terrified by the information they’re giving me about diabetes, infection, gangrene. Honestly, just the word “mass” has me a little concerned. I know people who have lost loved ones with diabetes after an incident as seemingly insignificant as a cut on a foot. I’m very much alone except for facebook. It is like a lifeline. My friends and family are praying for us and that is what holds me up. I don’t let my husband see any fear, of course. I just keep telling him how glad I am that he is getting such great care and I know that by tomorrow, he will feel like a new man!
They come for him, finally, 7 hours after we arrived that afternoon. They tell me the surgery will probably take about an hour and then he’ll be in recovery for a couple of hours. They will contact me on my cell, which is at 14%… I rush to my car, which is in the parking ramp. I charge my phone for about 20 minutes or less and then head back to the OR waiting room quickly so that I’m there when they call. Only I get lost. I’ve only been here one other time, in July, for Bob’s polyp surgery and I stayed in one place for a few hours and then we went home. I am panicked and it’s after 8:00 p.m. WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE AND SOMETHING GOES WRONG?!?!?! WHAT IF HE NEEDS ME?!?!?!?!
I somehow find my way up to the floor where he will stay after surgery. The ironic part of this is that we were there for a total of less than 5 minutes, but somehow this is what I remember. There are several nurses writing on charts in the hall outside his room, so I ask one of them if she can tell me where I can find the OR waiting room because I’m lost and if they try to contact me I won’t be there… She tells the other nurses that she’ll be back in a minute, puts her things down and takes me to the elevator… But, wait, there’s more… Then she gets on the elevator with me, takes me to the floor I need to be on and walks me to the waiting room! This is HUGE hospital and this was a journey… When we reach the waiting room, I begin to thank her and it comes out in lumps of incomprehensible gratitude covered in tears. I will carry this kindness with me and choose to honor it by passing it on as often as I am able. The other very kind woman at the desk then tells me that it will be at least 2 more hours before my Honey is out of recovery, but that he did very well in surgery.
My youngers call me to see how their dad is doing and I ask them to come and sit with me. I explain that I am having a hard time and I feel very alone in this big place. I need them. Less than 15 minutes later, my babies are hugging me and sitting by my side. We go to the vending machines, buy stuff I would NEVER ordinarily purchase, let alone injest. We even laugh a bit. I am blessed that they are so like their daddy in this way – making me laugh even when I’m miserable. It blesses me and amazes me and sometimes it drives me crazy! When we return to the waiting room, only 20 minutes have passed, but I decide to call about my husband’s progress in spite of being told it will be another hour. HE’S IN HIS ROOM WAITING FOR US!!!!
We zip around the halls to the elevator, take it up to the 5th floor and find our way to his room. I brace myself for how he will look because he looked so unwell before surgery and I assume he will look worse after going through the operation. I can’t believe what I see when I walk into his room. He looks better than he has in a week. His color is good. The swelling is gone. He is smiling… My heart is singing!!
Wednesday & Thursday: We spend the next couple of days helping him to heal and focus on getting his blood sugar levels down so that he can heal. They tell us every different thing depending on who we talk to and when we talk to them, but mostly it’s positive. When he finally gets to go home Thursday evening, he is doing well and will need homecare for his wound several times each week.
He is doing really well. His blood sugar is WAY down and his wound is nearly closed up. Smooth, I tell ya…
Aaron is supposed to get his check from the insurance company tomorrow. He didn’t get nearly what he put into his old car, but he’s coming to terms with it, I think. They gave him a rental car, told him that it was for a few days and then when we called the rental company to see what time to return it, they told us that we weren’t required to return it, yet, and we probably had 30 days or until Aaron received his check. A week later they called to say we owe them over $200! So, we will be struggling with that soon… UGH!
This past Saturday our neighbors house caught fire. It looks like the upstairs is completely gutted. No one was home, they have renter’s insurance and much of their belongings were in the garage and untouched, AND both of their pets got out safely. I know the coming weeks will be a nightmare for them and I understand that they lost their pictures and other irreplaceable items, but they aren’t going to the hospital and they aren’t having a funeral, so I’m praising Him for protecting them. Stuff can be replaced. People can’t be.
Yesterday my oldest brother texted me that our father is in the hospital. They aren’t really sure what it is. He had a terrible headache and has lost vision in one of his eyes. They’re doing tests and suspect Arteritis. I looked up what that is. Apparently it is the inflamation of arteries. His symptoms fit the medical defintions I found online. I’m so sad my mom is alone in Florida worrying about him with no immediate support. I hope their network of Florida friends has gathered around them. I’m praying for him… and her…
That’s a whole other blog…
Heck, that’s a trilogy…
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, I tell ya… But the one constant in all of this junk has been reaching out, asking for prayer and receiving support in exponential abundance. I feel emotionally exhausted, but lifted up so lovingly, that my faith is strengthened and my heart is full.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
42 pounds… That’s approximately what a 5 gallon bottle of water weighs. I had back surgery several years ago and I am 50 years old now, so I rarely fill our bottles for home because my sons and husband don’t really allow it. Yesterday, I was at the grocery store and I took a bottle to be refilled from home because I just wanted to have a spare at home and I didn’t want to bother any of the busy men in my family. Truth be told, I did it on the q.t. because I knew one of my men would object.
I finished my shopping and was basking in the glow of remembering to get a bag of ice when I pulled my car up to the curb near the water machine. Just as I grabbed my 5 gallon plastic bottle, a woman who was about 10-15 years older than me, pulled up behind my car. I had left my emergency flashers on and after getting the water going, I returned to my car to open the door so that I could put the soon to be very heavy bottle into the car somewhat smoothly. The water was taking forever… I went back to see how much progress it was making and then walked to the plants set out in front of the store and asked the store employee if they carried any organic plants. She told me she didn’t think so, I thanked her and then I saw another car pull up behind the car with the older woman. After almost 7 minutes my bottle was almost full when this man, who looked to be in his mid-30’s, jumped out of his car with his two water bottles and came right up behind me. I noticed that the woman was visibly upset and was trying to hurry with her two empty water bottles to the machine. My mind was racing… I could not believe that this man was going to cut right in front of this woman who was almost twice his age and more importantly, was there several minutes before him. He was well aware that she was waiting before he arrived.
I turned with my heavy, awkward water bottle, looked right at her and said, “You were next, weren’t you?” While the woman shrugged her shoulders apologetically and said not a word, this man stepped around me and shoved his bottle into the machine without any hesitation. I was beside myself. I walked to my car shrouded in disgust for the man who had done this as much as for the woman who refused to speak up for herself. My first thought was to protect her, in fact, I almost turned my car around to say something to this rude man, but life has introduced me to too many women who allow for this kind of behavior from the boys and men in our society and I was pretty sure, based on her reaction when I spoke up, that she believed that she was being kind or being some kind of peacemaker. I had this imaginary conversation with her where I shared with her that allowing this kind of behavior isn’t kind, but simply leads to self-centered, rude behavior toward others in the future and that is not beneficial to anyone.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, and I spoke to God about my frustration, I had this lovely thought run through my brain and heart…
My sons would NEVER do something like this. They probably would have offered to carry the lady’s bottles to her car for her. Their father has been a wonderful example and we have taught them since they were very small that being a gentleman is a requirement. When they were small and their grandma would tell them it was okay to not help her with her bags or anything heavy, my husband and I would tell her that we expected our boys to be gentlemen. It was hard for her to give in to this kind of child rearing, but she honored it and I believe she is very proud of the gentlemen her grandsons have become.
Now, before anyone gives me a hard time about feminism or any of that, I don’t believe that simple good manners will ever go out of style. I believe in women being independant, but I am also old-fashioned about men being gentlemen. I do many things for my husband and all of my children on a daily basis, as do they for me. Common courtesy and respect are requirements, at home and everywhere else.
I was reading this quote to Hannah and Maggie a few evenings ago:
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
when they started telling me that I needed to watch Frozen because it was about this very thing.
I think EVERY little girl needs to watch this movie OFTEN. All of us have talents, gifts that He intended for us to use and become what He sees in us. Let me preface this by first saying: Maybe lots of boys have experienced what I did as a young girl, and if this is true, please forgive my ignorance. In my journey I have only had other women share this common experience with me and this was unique to me, the only girl, in my family of origin.
When Elsa, as a young girl was unable to master her amazing gift and she hurt her sister, Ana, quite seriously with it, her father told her to, “Conceal it. Don’t feel it.” I was immediately reminded of being told very similar things as a child. I was not an idyllic little girl. I was opinionated, passionate and a bit of a tomboy. My father encouraged me and I could tell he felt very proud of me, even informing me that he thought I had moxie. I still smile when I remember him telling me that. My mother was not equally as thrilled with who I was. Typically I was told that “nice girls didn’t do…” (fill in the blank). I was also told to “stop being so emotional” on a very regular basis. I wasn’t easy to like. I remember numerous occasions when my mother would point out “nice” little girls who were quiet and sweet and who didn’t have mud on their dresses or scuffs on their Mary Janes. I was emotional and outspoken. My mother knew the correct things to say and do at all times. She was embarrassed by the things I said in front of people and I believe at times I said things just to get a reaction out of her. I think I wanted to punish her for how I felt about myself when I was around her.
I don’t think for a moment that my mother was trying to be mean to me or make me feel as if she didn’t love me for who I was. I believe with everything in me that she was trying to help me fit in. She wanted my life to be easier and she understood that women get along better in this world if they are quiet, sweet and agreeable. Being clean and not disheveled helps, also…
The thing is, is that is not who He made me to be. He made me passionate, outspoken, emotional and … nice. I also understand that with all of our gifts come responsibility. I am learning to be more sensitive to other’s opinions. Just because I believe in something, does not mean that it is a fact and even if it is a fact, it doesn’t mean that others want to accept it or even deal with it. I wish I could go back and have a do-over with all that I understand now. I wish instead of being ashamed of who I was and feeling resentful of how my mother dealt with me and believing that she didn’t love me, I could have embraced me for who I was/am and I could have understood that my mother was trying to help me in the best way she knew how because she didn’t understand me.
The irony to me as I grew up and became a believer is that I was treated much the same way in the churches that I first attended. In my experience the church tends to expect women to be seen but not heard and we can support our husbands, but we shouldn’t expect to be in any real place of leadership. I’ve watched too many women who clearly love our Father and live to serve Him be made ashamed of their talents, their callings, even. What are we so afraid of? I often wonder if we committed to helping our daughters, our girl friends, our mothers, and every other woman hone their gifts and passions instead of making them feel as if they should “conceal and not feel” how much more would be accomplished for His glory?
I love my own children, but I know at times I have wondered why they couldn’t just … (fill in the blank), because life would be much easier then. I fully embrace who each of them is. None of them is on a similar path, but all of them are in much better places than I was at their ages. They accept themselves and we all celebrate who God made them to be – most of the time…
I think we walk a fine line in childrearing. My goal was to love my children unconditionally, instill old fashioned values like respect, hard work, and kindness while encouraging them to be who God intended. My children don’t fit into “the box” and that has been painful at times. I admit that I’ve tried to squeeze them in there now and again when I felt unsure of their choices. It has brought about nothing but heartache for all involved and in my experience it has caused my children to go two steps back before they went forward again. I’ve had many humbing moments asking my children to forgive me and to allow me to support them in the way they needed me to. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’ll have more of these moments. I know that I will get better at this and I know my children will do even better with my grandbabies because of the transparent relationship we have with each other and because they are seeing the fruit of living in His will and not in fear.
When I think of what amazing things could happen if we could all embrace each other in unconditional love, it makes me teary. In raising my children I’ve seen that when I show them this kind of love and support, they are open to my advice because they trust my wisdom based on my experience in life. When I talk at them, even though I am speaking from life experience and love, they don’t feel respected and they know I don’t trust their hearts or their decisions. They know I am also speaking from a place of fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I think one of my favorite things about Frozen is that the act of true love comes from a sister and not another Prince Charming guy. Ana loves her sister, Elsa, without condition. She adores her gift and encourages her use of it. When Elsa leaves her kingdom and begins to hone her gifts, beauty is created all around her. Although there is still ice everywhere and people are suffering because of it, so it is obvious that things are still not as they should be. Almost everyone has turned against Elsa and thinks she is evil. She is just beginning to embrace who God made her to be, but she hasn’t come to terms with the pain she has caused or the pain and shame her parents caused her. When Ana puts herself in death’s path for her sister, everything begins to melt and become new. With Ana’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance, Elsa’s heart begins to thaw, she embraces who she is, and her gifts bless everyone in the kingdom.
I think that’s what He wants us to understand. If we love each other, accept each other and extend grace, then He’s got the rest. We don’t have to be afraid of ourselves. We don’t have to be afraid of each other. We don’t have to wonder if He made a mistake in giving us this passion for that thing that causes us to move out of our comfort zone surrounded by walls built on the fear that the world has instilled in us. I just can’t even imagine what kinds of awesomeness would happen and multiply if we all lived with abandon when it came to our own passions and to loving one another, passions and all. I long for this. I ache for this…
I pray He gives me the courage and clarity to live like this…
Yesterday my Honey and I went to get two new tires on our old, wonderful car that I have come to love. I was so thankful that we could put the tires (with nitrogen injected into them, btw…) on without having to eat hot dogs for 4 weeks straight or paying the electric bill a week late and then setting up payments. We went and got a bagel while we waited and then grabbed some things from Costco – LOVE this store!! Just as we were headed to the front of the store, they called my Honey and said the tires were on and we were good to go. Perfect timing…
We picked up our little, old car and she is running smoooooooth, now. We went to see a matinee and got a free ticket for next time – now, that’s just the cherry on top, isn’t it?! After the movie we went to Maggiano’s for dinner – I LOVE gift cards!! We talked, held hands, laughed a lot – do you know my Honey?! – and savored every minute of our life together. I was especially happy because our fantabulous cleaning lady had done her magic and I was going home to a clean house. Ladies, does it get much better than that?!
Last night we were talking about how wonderful our day was and reviewing our plan to go to Barton Springs together after he drove two early Duck tours, since it looked like the only 80+ temp sunny day during our spring break. We have been so excited about ringing in spring/summer at Barton, as we have every year since moving to Texas. Just before 9:00 last night he got a text asking him to play bass this Sunday at church and attend rehearsal tonight. So… No Barton Springs this Spring Break… It’s his first time to play at Gateway and he is a wreck, btw! So, this morning I made a nice little breakfast for my Honey before he left and then for my two youngest men. I had the nicest conversations with my babies, who are not babies at all anymore, but will always be my babies.
Bob was supposed to come home for a couple of hours before he went to the rehearsal at church, but the office called and they needed him to drive another tour at 3:30 today. He’ll go straight to our church and he’ll do an amazing job. I’ll be home, praying for him and his nerves and believing in him, his talent, his heart…
All of our Texas kiddos are coming for dinner and games, and I am overwhelmed with a greatful heart. I have the meat in one crockpot, the black beans in another crockpot and I’ve cut up more tomatoes than any one person should cut in a month. My primary love language is quality time and they are choosing to spend time with me…
Scott and Bailey are coming after he gets out of work. Hannah and Maggie will be here anytime to help with the prep work. Caleb is running to the grocery store to pick up the 8 – 10 things I forgot yesterday. Aaron is picking up Daisy as I type. I just keep thinking of all of the things I love about these men and women who are more precious to me than any of them can imagine.
Scott is my sweet, grumpy old man. He is the reason I first began to believe in God. He is gruff, and can be tender-hearted, and loving and strong. He is so very creative and passionate and I love that he is beginning to see who he really is and is embracing that. He is a good man. I always said he wouldn’t date bunches of girls, but when he met the one God intended, he would know, without any doubt and that would simply be that.
Bailey is Scott’s only true love. She is great at getting through, being strong and surviving. She loves God and is starting to truly believe He loves her and thinks she is precious. She has so much talent and drive, but my goal in my relationship with her is to show her that I love her without condition for who she is and not for what she does or is capable of and because God has put that love for her in my heart like I have for all of my children.
Hannah is such a mix of her daddy and I. She has all of his talent, his sense of humor, his ability to go with the flow. She has my smile, my cynicism and fierce loyalty that often enables those around us. She is mature beyond her years and is too passionate for her own good, but without her passion, she would be a shell of what He intended her to be. She is my defender and my girl.
Maggie is so much like me that sometimes it’s a little creepy. Like Bailey, I have let her into my heart and I don’t think she’s going anywhere. She is one of our kids. She is Hannah’s best friend and the Caleb’s first love. The fact that the 3 of them have survived this crazy and wonderful triangle of love for 5 years is quite a feat and testimony of their love and character. I love how she loves my children and how she works at being a part of this family.
Caleb is so full of emotion and is so good at appearing “together” that I have always had a fierce need to protect him. He is the sassiest of all of my children and the most loyal. When he loves someone, he loves them completely. If they betray him, his instinct tells him to close the door and never look back, but he has worked incredibly hard to become a forgiving person and my heart soars when I watch him work at this. He is my perfectionist and my professor. He is the one who will run errands for me and take care of “man” stuff. (Acts of Service is my secondary love language.) If he is interested in something, he will learn every detail about that thing. If he is not, then he will not…
Daisy is my Aaron’s love. Three years ago we knew he had a mad crush on her, but now we all know she has become his best buddy. I don’t know Daisy very well, but I see how Aaron smiles when he is with her. I see that they are goofy when they spend time together and that makes this mama’s heart happy. She has a great sense of humor, which is essential in this life and this family and an absolutely beautiful smile. I hope that we will all get to know Daisy better and that she will come to love this crazy family of ours.
Aaron is our baby. Caleb only has 2 minutes on him, but Aaron is the baby of our family in so many ways. He is the one who is most like his daddy in the obvious ways. When he was little I referred to him as my “suck-the-life-out-of-me” kid. His love language is words of affirmation and being the McDowell that I am, his personality grew me BIG when he was young. He is the boy who tells me I’m pretty and thanks me for things. He is also the boy who cleans the house constantly and what mama doesn’t love that?!
There is so much more to all of my precious children. I wish I could go on and on about each of them. I am so excited to be part of their lives. I am savoring every moment as I watch their lives unfold before them. They are such honorable people. They all make me laugh. Sometimes when they all get together and they start to joke around about their mom, I don’t think they’re terrible funny…
accurate, but not terribly funny. They all really love me and that is so much more than I deserve with all of my human frailities and faults. How in the world do I get to be blessed with an evening with all of them? God’s grace, love, and blessings are all more than I can stand…
OH! I have to go cut more tomotoes and find Taboo…