Saturday, January 18, 2014

Angry Moms: Time to Get Real


For Mom2Mom speech presented 1/16/14; written 1/4/14
Backstory
This particular topic has been on my mind quite some time. While planning out our Mom2Mom year with my sidekick M back in the summer, I knew this was a topic that needed to be addressed. My “plan” at that time was to go through a detailed history of all of my personal issues with anger, a list of references including the library of books I have on this topic, etc. But God evidently wanted me to alter my plan, as you will soon see…

Intro
I have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to speak on the topic of Angry Moms for awhile now. As I pondered my “speech” over the last couple of months, I found that there is so much more than just an angry mom in the spotlight. She’s not “just angry.” She’s tired, worn-out, weary, at the end of her rope, helpless, jealous, discontent, bitter, envious, neglected, proud, self-centered, insecure, clueless, lacking confidence, out of control, powerless, spiteful, hateful, shameful, ashamed, broken, desperate, in need of a savior.

Caveat
Before we move forward, please let it be clear: that Savior is not and can never be her child, her husband, her house, her car, her body, her clothes, her diet, her stuff, her collections, her checklists, her goals, her accomplishments, her friends, her church, her TV shows, her books, her self-help guru, her moms group. Only Jesus can fill that empty place. Only Jesus can love unconditionally, with mercy and grace, knowing EVERY UGLY SECRET – the deepest parts – and still, He loves us.

Why Saying “lean on Jesus” isn’t always enough
So what about angry moms? Just lean on Jesus and we’ll be all better? How I wish it were that simple! For some, maybe it is. But not for me. I was saved when I was four years old, but oh have I been angry a few times since then?!! An ugly, raging temper that rears its ugly head time and time again, despite my best efforts to stuff it away, despite my happy church face and my children with clean faces and pretty clothes. It’s time to get real, girls! We all stink! Those plastic facades are just another step we take that makes us exhausted and leaves us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled. Let’s get off the crazy fake cycle, ok? Let’s be honest now and admit we don’t have it all together all the time.

Why so angry?
So what are we to do about it? I think we need to first figure out WHY? Why the anger? Where is it coming from? I listed several sources earlier.
1.       Exhaustion. Being a mom is HARD! A mom of a newborn often means sleep deprivation. (I’m certainly not at my best when I am tired.)
2.       Loneliness. We may feel lonely – at 3 am, feeding a screaming baby, while the rest of the world (and likely our husband) sleeps, we may feel lonely and even resentful.
3.       Jealousy. How about jealousy? I remember coming home from playdates FURIOUS because my furniture or faucet or rugs were no longer “good enough.” My friends didn’t necessarily say so, but I felt jealous of their nice new “stuff,” became discontent which turned to bitterness and anger. We can be jealous over “stuff” or over a talent someone else has. Or how about that friend with the “kind and helpful husband.” Boy, did I put some serious strain on my marriage when I whined to my husband that he didn’t offer to do bath time like so and so’s husband did. (Sad truth: if he had offered, I would have criticized the way he did bath time!)
4.       Expectations. One major trigger for me is expectations! I spent a year in marriage counseling back in 2006. I learned that my expectations of others were extremely high, and my expectations of myself were actually unattainable.
5.       Perfection/Control. The word “perfect” has been all but eliminated from my vocabulary since it caused such angst for me. Did you know that only God is perfect? True perfection is something we can look forward to in heaven. The song “Free to Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli has a line that always jumps out at me: “Try to fit the pieces together BUT PERFECTION IS MY ENEMY.” The new song, “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” brought me to tears when I heard it. I sure have a lot to learn to let go of! “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know, well now they know…let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go, and I’ll rise like the break of dawn. Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone!” Another song, “Perfect People” by Natalie Grant really strikes a chord with me – can you relate? (Will try to link video here.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7D-ONj8PO8  Lyrics below.)
“Perfect People” by Natalie Grant
Never let 'em see you when you're breaking
Never let 'em see you when you fall
That's how we live and that's how we try
Tell the world you've got it all together
Never let them see what's underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while
[CHORUS:]
There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God
Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again
[CHORUS]
Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see out let grace be enough
[CHORUS]
By a perfect God [5x]
Be changed by a perfect God
Be changed

Exhaustion, loneliness, jealousy, discontentment, expectations, perfection/control – all of this can lead to some really angry times.

Dealing with the issues
1.       Exhaustion: Some of this, we just have to “get through the phase,” like the newborn stage or sickness. This will pass. BUT – it’s ok to ask for help! It’s ok to say, “I really need two straight hours of sleep – can someone come hold my baby please?!”
2.       Loneliness: Stop waiting for someone to call, YOU be the one to reach out! The fastest way to get over yourself is to serve someone else. Ask someone over for coffee, meet at the park, text, email, call. That person you reach out to may be feeling even lonelier than you!
3.       Jealousy and Discontentment: Truly, I stopped looking at ads and catalogs and magazines and flyers. I avoided malls. I found friends who were in similar financial situations as mine. I put my eyes back in my own space and became a better homemaker, finding joy in cleaning the space I was BLESSED with, cooking for the family I had PRAYED FOR. I literally counted my blessings and turned my complaints and my rotten attitude into gratitude. (You may see my Negative Nelly/Positive Polly posts on Facebook, for example: it’s pouring rain and I have all four kids bickering in the van with me and we have to go to the orthodontist. Boo. Poor me! Let’s turn this around – I am able to drive a car, I have a car, we’re not waiting for a cab, I have four healthy children that I desperately wanted and prayed for, we’re going to an elective appointment not something awful like a surgery or chemo, we have insurance and can afford the orthodontic appliance, and the list goes on.) That doesn’t mean I get fake: I acknowledge the hurt, complaint, frustration. Then I pray that God would show me the good things, the blessings, and HE HAS NEVER FAILED!
4&5. Expectations/Perfection/Control: Here is what I say to myself – God loves me. He is in control. He is sovereign. Only He is perfect. It’s ok to have high expectations, but it’s important to show grace to others – and to ourselves. These verses are particularly helpful to me:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
I also focus on the Fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness, kindness.

Strength in our weakness
I used to be embarrassed when people would quote from the Bible about a mother’s gentleness – I was not gentle much of the time!
I Thessalonians 2:7 “We were gentle among you like a nursing mother.”
I Peter 3:4 “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”
  Then I realized that it’s ok that I am not perfect – when I am weak in my flesh, God is strong. Faking it isn’t the answer; acknowledging our imperfections and flaws, laying them bare before God and asking for His supernatural grace and strength and healing is how we not simply endure, but grow…bloom…flourish…in Him! THEN, He will continue to use our trials to draw others to Him, as I pray is happening now as I share my story. May YOU see HIS power, HIS love, and HIS grace…it’s for YOU too!
To God be all the glory.

Verses that talk about God’s Perfection:
James 1:17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
Psalm 18:30 God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
Isaiah 25:1 LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.


Take Heart! There is hope…
2 Corinthians 12:9  My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Word Of The Year

This is my first time naming my “Word of the Year.” I have seen other friends post on blogs or Facebook their “word.” I have seen words like hope, dream, believe, strong, brave, and dare. I have thought long and hard about my word for 2014. After much deliberation, I have decided on the word: PRESENT.
Google tells me PRESENT can mean several different things. PRESENT can be pronounced two different ways and can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective. Its meanings include: (of a person) in a particular place, existing or occurring now, the period of time now occurring, give something to (someone) formally or ceremonially, bring about or be the cause of (a problem or difficulty), hold out or aim (a firearm) at something so as to be ready to fire, or a thing given to someone as a gift.
What do I mean when I say my word of the year is PRESENT?
I mean I want to BE PRESENT.
I want to be plugged in, aware, involved.
I want to be PRESENT with God,
PRESENT with my husband,
PRESENT in the lives of my children,
PRESENT at church,
PRESENT at school,
PRESENT in my community.
That doesn’t mean I want to be busy. Scurrying around, overscheduled, frantic busy. Rather, I want to be selective in my involvement. Purposeful with my time, my words, my actions. I want to make memories. I want to treasure special times in my heart. I want to notice the little things as my children learn and grow. I know there are many things and people that compete for my PRESENCE, and I know that it will be difficult to be PRESENT at some events and say no to others. I am leaning on the Lord to help me be discerning as I prioritize and become intentional in the ways I am PRESENT.
I am eager to begin 2014 thinking about being PRESENT and I have confidence that God will blow my mind with the way He uses circumstances to show me He is sovereign. I am grateful beyond words for His greatest PRESENT, His Son who saved my life. I look forward to the day I will dwell in His holy PRESENCE for eternity.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's Been Awhile

Goodness it sure has been awhile since I've dusted off the old blog. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. It's not that I haven't thought about posts. Perhaps I've even written a few DOZEN posts in my head! But life has been been wonderfully, deliciously, amazingly busy around here. My beautiful babies are growing like crazy, now ages 5 1/2, 7 1/2, a week from 9, and 11. Maybe it was reading  a terrific article about being "in the sweet spot" that prompted me to post today. Or maybe it's the fallish breeze blowing through my open windows. Or the fact that half of my herd is off adventuring. Or that the kiddos head back to school in less than five weeks. Whatever the reason, here I am.
This summer has been like no other. I'm still a mom of four busy children. But they are no longer babies. With my youngest being five, we have a new mobility. We were able to see a water ski show and fireworks at Jumpin' Jacks. We were able to go to parks without a diaper bag. We were able to swim without floaties or swim diapers. It's amazing. Of course I miss the baby phase, but I am really enjoying the "people" my children are becoming. They are funny, witty, helpful and smart. They are capable and confident. They keep me honest and humble. Often, they are my mirror...reflecting the good as well as the bad.
I was shopping for school supplies and a few gifts today and stumbled upon a book called, "If I Could Keep You Little..." by Marianne Richmond. I truly burst into tears in the store right then and there. Here are the words to this wonderful tribute to children growing:

If I could keep you little, I’d hum you lullabies. But then I’d miss you singing your concert’s big surprise.
If I could keep you little, I’d hold your hand everywhere. But then I’d miss you knowing, “I can go…you stay there.”
If I could keep you little, I’d kiss your cuts and scrapes. But then I’d miss you learning from your own mistakes.
If I could keep you little, I’d strap you in real tight. But then I’d miss you swinging from your treetop height.
If I could keep you little, I’d decide on matching clothes. But then I’d miss you choosing dots on top and stripes below.
If I could keep you little, I’d cut your bread into shapes. But then I’d miss you finding, “Hey! I like ketchup with my grapes!”
If I could keep you little, I’d tell you stories every night. But then I’d miss you reading the words you’ve learned by sight.
If I could keep you little, I’d pick for you a friend or two. But then I’d miss you finding friends you like who like you, too!
If I could keep you little, I’d push your ducky float. But then I’d miss you feeling the wind behind summer’s boat.
If I could keep you little, we’d nap in our fort midday. But then I’d miss you sharing adventures from camp away.
If I could keep you little, I’d fly you with my feet. But then I’d miss you seeing sky and clouds from your seat.
If I could keep you little, I’d keep you close to me. But then I’d miss you growing into who you’re meant to be!


My goodness how those words capture what my heart is feeling! In just a month, my oldest will enter middle school and my baby will go to kindergarten! How can it be?! Wasn't I just nursing my first, looking out the window as the big yellow bus came to pick up the neighborhood kids?! As I sat there holding my fussy little one, it felt like decades before I would be sending him to school. And now he is 11! "The days are long but the years are short." How true it is.
I don't want to be sad for the time gone by. Instead, I will hold on to the memories while enjoying today. Truly being in the moment with my "little" ones.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On Repeat

Do you ever stumble upon a song you HAVE TO hear OVER and OVER? That happens to me every now and then. A month or so ago, it was "Forever Reign". I sang it at the top of my lungs while driving to pick up my youngest from preschool. I sang it until I cried...the words were (still are) so powerful!
Today I've been listening to a variety of Christmas albums. "Glorious Impossible" (as performed by FFH) really touched me...I think I'm on my 10th repeat of the song (ok, so I found several other arrangements, one done by the Gaither Vocal Band, another by Carl Cartree, the writer of the song). I absolutely LOVE this song!!! Give it a listen, read the lyrics, see if you agree with me...
this is one beautiful song! 

**side note...i just discovered another beautiful arrangement of this song, done by new-to-me duo, The Wiebes...gorgeous!
Here is their arrangement. 

See the Virgin is delivered 
In a cold and crowded stall
Mirror of the Father's glory 
Lies beside her in the straw
 
He is Mercy's incarnation 

Marvel at this miracle! 
For the Virgin gently holds 
The Glorious Impossible
 
Love has come to walk on water 

Turn the water into wine 
Touch the leper,
bless the children 
Love both human and divine
 
Praise the wisdom of the Father 

Who has spoken through His Son 
Speaking still, He calls us to 
The Glorious Impossible
 
Hallelujah 

Hallelujah 
Hallelujah  
Glorious Impossible
 
He was bruised for our transgressions 

And He bears eternal scars 
He was raised for our salvation 
And His righteousness is ours
 
Praise, oh praise Him, praise the glory 

Of this lavish grace so full 
Lift your souls now and receive
the Glorious Impossible!
 
Hallelujah 

Hallelujah 
Hallelujah 
Glorious Impossible
 
Hallelujah 

Hallelujah 
Hallelujah 
Glorious Impossible 
Glorious Impossible
 
Praise, oh praise Him, praise the glory 

Of this lavish grace so full 
Lift your souls now and receive 
The Glorious Impossible
 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

a nothing day

Is your schedule jam-packed? Errands, appointments, people to shuttle here and there, endless lists of things to do, groceries to buy, meals to make, laundry to wash/dry/fold/put away, floors to mop, rugs to vacuum, beds to strip and remake, phew! Sounds like my life!!
Well, today was different...we didn't have anywhere we had to be. There was no to-do list. It has been lovely!!
It started with Saturday Sleep-In...whoever sleeps in the latest wins. (What's the prize? I never know...maybe a piece of gum?) Today I was the winner...and my prize was sleeping in itself!!

Everyone just puttered around the house,
kids doing a few job here and there,
hubby played a new video game,
I listened to Christmas music,
hubby and the boys ran a few errands and even got lunch out.
I started to meal-plan but I realized I only have to make a couple dinners this week!
I tried a new turkey chili crockpot recipe (it smells deelish!)
Later I made a ginger sugar cookie recipe I had been wanting to try for weeks (WAY too good...I better give the rest of these away!)
I did a Rev Abs workout (much needed after the cookie fest).
The girls played outside and made paper flowers to tape onto pencils.
I played the piano for awhile.
I did a little knitting.
Now it's almost dinner time and the kids already got themselves into jammies. They have been asking (begging) to watch "Elf" since yesterday afternoon. I stopped counting after the 20th request today. So it looks like we'll be watching "Elf" after dinner!
Gotta love a "nothing day"!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Today

Today...
it was sleeting and freezing early on. later the sun was shining brightly, but there was still a chill in the air.
my youngest asked, "why are they saying it's 'the most wonderful time of the year'?" to which i got to share with him (again) about the true meaning of Christmas. how amazing is it that i get to do this? i get to drive my kiddo to preschool and hear the questions of his little heart!! later in the day, he asked me to turn off the "sad tears song" (that would be "Last Christmas", the Glee version...hahahaha!)
my youngest and i drove to school and waited 15 minutes to see my older daughter, to wish her well before her musical audition. i then hurried back home to beat the bus to greet the other two kids, fed them snack, started them on homework. then we all scooted back to school to get musical audition daughter. no one complained about being carted back and forth.
i caught my older son and my younger daughter reading together...she read her stack of 5 take home readers to him, and he assisted as needed and asked her comprehension questions!
that same older son is on top of the world lately. his teacher loves him...with all his little quirks and stuff that can sometimes drive a teacher crazy, she sees him, she gets him...i am thrilled!! he also proudly informed me that he was "the only kid in class to get 100 on the social studies test!" (um, what test? i don't recall seeing a study guide...or quizzing him?)
my older daughter loves the new $19 hand blender i bought at aldi. she used it as a microphone to sing "Rolling in the Deep". i had to turn away so she didn't see me smiling.
i hear musical instruments playing in the basement. which means the kids got into the storage room, climbed a shelf and took the box of instruments down. perhaps i should go check on them. except that no one is crying. no one is calling me.
so i will sit here munching on my leftover from two nights ago spinach salad, listening to "Unexpected Gifts: 12 New Sounds of Christmas" on spotify.
O tidings of comfort and joy...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Time for Thanks

I was going to do a daily thankful post for the month of November, but I'm not sure I'll get on here every day. But today, I am incredibly thankful I get to be a stay-at-home-mom! Ten and a half years ago, I was just beginning my stay-at-home-mom journey. I was overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, exhausted, weary, and a mess! Of course I loved my new baby...I had prayed for a baby for a LONG time. When I was a child, all I wanted to do was be a mom when I grew up. I had visions of myself in a flowing nightgown smiling serenely as I nursed my little wonder. Um, reality looked more like a screaming newborn, a frazzled unshowered mom in stained sweats struggling to get her newborn to latch on, then trying desperately to keep that newborn awake to finish a feeding, then not moving for an hour while that newborn slept on me. It was a very difficult time! But here we are, ten and a half years later, with three more kiddos. They are now ages 10, 8, almost 7 and 5. And I have such a different perspective than I used to have! I enjoy moments more, I savor the little things. Of course there are still times I am overwhelmed. I don't always get to shower and I certainly am not the epitome of calm, cool and collected!! But making a point to stop and take a mental snapshot of a special moment is a part of my every day. I GET to be here with my babies...I GET to make them lunch, wash their clothes, watch them learn, grow, and explore. And I am so thankful.