Non-Mother’s Day

Can I tell you a secret?

Most years I hate Mother’s Day.  There, I said it. And I’m a Mom.

I understand what it’s like to want a child and not have one. I’ve hated those Mother”s Days too.  So I feel a little guilty because now that I am a mom I still don’t really like this day.

Most Mother’s Day, it’s just a reminder of what I’ve done wrong, what I’d like to do over and that I’m too tired to try much harder. Honestly I don’t want to be recognized one Sunday in May. What I really want is for my children to be healthy, loving individuals who follow hard after Jesus. I want them to listen to me, respect me and love me all year long. Without fanfare.

I struggle with this Sunday in May because it’s so hard for so many people. People who have lost their moms to a myriad of reasons. People who have no children. People who are made to feel guilty because they don’t want children. People who have had abusive mothers. It’s just difficult. So really I don’t give much credence to this day. It matters more to me what my behaviour is all year long. Do I honour my mother every day of the year? Am I caring, kind and considerate? Is this what I’m teaching my kids? That’s what counts in my books.

This is probably not a popular opinion.

I am not denying that mothering is one of the most difficult jobs we will ever do. It is.
Being in charge of a child or two or three…is extremely hard. Whether you are the mother, grandmother, foster parent, aunt, guardian. It doesn’t matter either if the child is a baby, a toddler, middle schooler, teen or young adult. It doesn’t get any easier, it just gets different.

It’s not a glamorous job even though tv, movies, church and a whole host of other things, try to make it out to be. It’s not a big game of playing house, no matter how hard you try to make it. The lives we are responsible for, matter. The decisions we make, matter. And half the time I don’t have the emotional or physical energy to make good decisions. A lot of days I feel like I am doomed and so are my kids. Am I the only one?

So how do we raise our kids so that they are loving healthy individuals? How do we take the doom out of the equation?

This is what has worked for me. The key word being work.

Take care of yourself. Rest. Nap when your kids nap. Eat well. Do something you love that will breathe life back into your soul. Deal with your issues whatever they are (and you know what they are!) I know a good program!  This probably goes against every fibre of your mother being. But you cannot give when you are empty. All that does is rub you raw inside and out. Taking care of yourself and doing for yourself, fills you up so you have something to give.

Stop worshipping the children. We are the adults, act like one. Stop being a slave to your child. Children need to know they are loved but they also need boundaries. They do not need to be entertained all day long. No, mixed with some yeses, is good. We do not need to give up our own lives to breathe life into our child’s. Our children need to see that it’s okay to take care of ourselves and our own desires as well as take care of them.

Let it go. Unfortunately we can’t have a Do Over when it comes to parenting. But we have the present. So fix what you can and then move forward. Ruminating about past mistakes helps no one. Show them love, show them good health, show them kindness, TODAY. It’s not too late. Kids never stop learning or watching.

Our Heavenly Father loves our kids more than we do. He is in control and He knows the bigger picture. Let Him lead. Never stop praying. Or maybe we need to start praying. This is where I am right now.  Realizing that I need to pray! There is a higher, mightier power I need to tap into!  He’s waiting for me to do it.  It’s not too late for that either.

Finally it’s okay to admit we need help. We need someone to listen. Go find someone that can do this for you, either professionally or a good trusted friend or pastor. Even if they can’t help, they can listen and maybe point you in the direction you need to go.  That’s what someone did for me. I finally told my pastor my issue with anger and he got me into see a professional that could help me. I will be forever grateful to him for that. He got me started on the road to healing.  Later on a friend told me about a program that led to further healing.  It’s never too late to get help.

These things have made my whole family much healthier and happier.

So even though I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day, I do honour and thank my Mom who raised seven kids and sacrificially gives of herself. She is still mothering in her senior years to her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. She is still a Mom.

I also honour and thank the many women out there who mother in their own ways whether it’s to biological kids or to kids who touch their lives. Many women have touched my life in so many ways who were not related to me. They made my life richer. May we do the same to those around us.

 

 

The Inadequate Lie

Inadequate. The word keeps rolling around my brain. I ask myself, “Does anyone ever get to the point where you ever feel adequate?”

I’m not sure to tell you the truth. We feel inadequate in so many areas of life at different times. We feel inadequate as parents when our children struggle or have issues. We feel inadequate when we don’t get the promotion at work. We feel inadequate even when we have no control over the situation.

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I was diagnosed with diabetes this past year. The doctor just looked at me, puzzled. I should not have diabetes. I have no precursors except one. It’s in the genes so to speak. I felt inadequate sitting there in her office, because for no apparent reason, my body was letting me down.

The Inadequate Lie. That’s what I’m calling it.  Because it’s a lie that you are inadequate. That I am. 
I have been dancing around this word, trying to write this out for probably a month now. Because not only have I felt inadequate with my health but that word has been shouting at me for the better part of the last five months. Probably longer but it became all CAPS IN THE LAST FIVE MONTHS.

Ironically, just as my book has been published, I have struggled with feeling inadequate as a pastor’s wife, as a writer, as a Christian. This does not make me ungrateful. I am so thankful for the opportunity that God has provided to get His message out there. It is so badly needed. I believe in the message. But I have to wonder about the messenger. Which makes me feel like a bigger fraud because this is the precise message of the book; being called to a role or a place and you feel like the biggest, ugliest square peg in a very delicate round hole.

It can be anything or any role, not just a pastor’s wife. Maybe you feel inadequate as a parent, as daughter or son, as a caretaker, or whatever job you may be working in right now. Maybe you feel like you’ve been called to a city or town that feels so alien you’d think you were on a different planet. We all feel it sometimes. Like there is no way we will ever measure up.

The Inadequate Lie manifests itself in times of both success and failure. It doesn’t matter how many accolades, songs of praise we’ve heard, we still feel less than. Or we know failure is knocking because we’ve done it so many times before. The Inadequate Lie has power because we continue to be sucked into these cycles of lies. We fall for the whispers every time and as long as we believe them, we will feel inadequate regardless. The lie will win even if reality says otherwise.

I read a memoir, Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga. We had a lot of the same dreams for our lives. Yet she said when her name was on a book, it wasn’t enough. I’ve never forgotten that line. She still felt inadequate. What’s the dream that you had that in the end, wasn’t enough?

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It is at this point that God stands waiting. He’s waiting for us to turn to Him. We’ve reached the pinnacle of what we define as success. Or we’ve sunk so low, there’s no place else to go. We have come to the ends of ourselves. We know it. So does He. And He waits for us.

If we want to get beyond the narcissism or the pride or whatever it is, there’s only one place to turn. He created us in His image. He is the embodiment of truth. If we turn to Him in all our feelings of inadequacy he can take those things and refine them until they are bright and shiny, turning lies to truth.

What is the truth? The truth is He is I AM. And always will be forever and ever. I AM is greater than all our successes, our failures, our measuring sticks. Even though He is bigger than anything out there, He grabs our hand and pulls us into the adventure, allowing us a glimpse of Him. It isn’t about our inadequacies. It isn’t about publishing books. It isn’t about being the perfect parent or child. It isn’t about the latest promotion. It’s only about Him. Those things are of this world, although we may be called to them, they will never be enough. Only He is enough. Like a blanket, I AM covers everything else.

And the good news? The Inadequate Lie loses. We are not inadequate. I AM gives us the power to do what He’s called us to do. We are ENABLED by His Spirit to move mountains, write books, sing songs, parent children and prodigals, and become who we were created to be. It is the Enabled Truth.

BRAVE: Finding Those Kindred Spirits

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

There have been times in life when a friend, a kindred spirit seemed very far away. A loss, a move, a betrayal, we all feel the pain of loneliness at times. It’s a very real emotion. I heard a sermon on the importance of friends on the weekend and I’m preparing a message for Mother’s Day.  It got me thinking.

When I really start to think about it, I realize like Anne, that there are far more kindred spirits than I give credit for. My life has been blessed with them. Sometimes I didn’t even recognize them until much later. Some have been a fleeting encounter. Others have become lifelong friends like Anne and Diana, Jonathan and David.

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A time of reunion with some old friends.

Like snowflakes, no two are alike. They come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I have been blessed with many friendships over the years with older women who have encouraged, supported and prayed for me and my family. I have had younger women offer their strength and sense of adventure when mine was sorely lacking.

Here are a few of the kindred spirits who have crossed my path over the years. Maybe it will get you thinking and remembering about some of your own encounters.

In one particular volatile church situation, I would sit with Jean, an elderly woman, after church, in the foyer. I had been taken to task one time too many because my husband, one of the pastors on staff, was considered to be on the “wrong side”. Jean offered friendship and safety. I would sit nervously beside her and chat. She was lovely. No one came near.

Kathy would meet me as I came in to that church and walk with me to my seat or sit with me. Making sure no one spoke to me unkindly. Protecting me from further hurt.

Ish was always a safe place to go in that same situation. I was a new pastor’s wife, green behind the ears, in a situation that was way beyond out of control and these women, along with a few others, extended me grace, love and protection. Where others had stabbed me in the back, these women provided the balm that would eventually help heal those wounds. I’m not sure I would still be in ministry if not for those women.

There have been others.

One teenage girl, used to meet me as I drove into church, a baby in the car seat and a rambunctious two year old waiting to get loose. She helped me every week for months, to get those kids into the building. I am filled with gratitude every time I remember this act of kindness. I was usually undone by the time I got to church. My husband leaving several hours earlier, I was left to get the boys and myself ready.  Feeling the pressure to be a good pastor’s wife (my own issue) and ready to blow my stack, by the time I got to church, I wanted to turnaround and go back home. Her cheerful smile and helping hand got me through the front doors.

Another couple weren’t just friends but became like family providing us a home away from home when we lived far away from family.

Anne mentored me in my first job and became one of my best friends. I have never forgotten her even though I have now lost track of her over our many moves.

I have also appreciated the couple of close friends who have been secure enough in our friendship to kick me in the butt when I needed it. It was done kindly but firmly. Opening my eyes to other perspectives and areas I needed to work on personally.

I have sobbed on a couple of women’s shoulders, exhausted, hurt and feeling like the world was never going to right itself. They offered comfort. There was no judgement even after I confessed I hated the church we were serving in at the time. (It was emotional moment. The truth was I hated what was going on. They were mature enough to understand that and let me cry my broken heart out.)

I have been blessed by women who have let me be me, encouraged me to continue to seek out what God has for me. Acceptance has been a priceless gift in my eyes as I try to fit into a role of a pastor’s wife that seems very misshapen for this introvert. These women have let me loose, to discover my own path, my own way to create that role. They’ve let me rant and freak out, knowing eventually I would calm down and see truth. Friends who let you freak out without judgement, never.let.go.of.them.

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A lot of friendships are made over meals. Who could you share a meal with, get to know a little better? (Panera is always a good bet if you have one nearby! You’ll make a friend for life!)

Who are the people who have crossed your path over the years who made a difference?

When we’re tempted to have our own pity party, we need to remember the many friends, kindred spirits who grace our lives, even for a season. They enrich us and make us better people, if we let them. The challenge is to let them in. Be brave and break down our walls and take a risk. Courageously cut the safety nets. It’s so hard to do this. Believe me, I understand. But as I think through this list, it’s abundantly clear that it’s worth the risk.