Motherhood Dare: Wear those love glasses

This is to you, Mom. The mom who’s busting her buns getting it done.

It may not be that you want a career or to climb the corporate ladder.

Maybe you just want your sanity.

Or to financially support your family.

You want to give your children the best you that you can.

And I don’t think that’s wrong.

For years I struggled with my desire to be that super stay-at-home mom who, while homeschooling her children, blessed them with her kindness and patience, made-from-scratch meals and snacks, and pin-worthy decoratives. If you truly want to be that mom, there is a wealth of knowledge that can be harnessed to help you grow into that. I’ve poured over articles and books and tips promising to change my life through the wonders of organizing and crafting. You can learn how to meal plan, find a house-cleaning schedule template, and even step-by-step instructions on how to hand knit a sippy cup cozy (I’m being a bit facetious with that last one, but if that’s you, then do you).

I struggled not because I didn’t know how to be the kind of mom and wife I wanted to be, but because I really didn’t want to be that woman.  I was focused on all the “should be” and condemning myself when I couldn’t or when those things didn’t fulfill me like everyone said they should.

Now that I’ve come to grips with who I want to be and the kind of life I want to lead, life is starting to make sense again.

I had to assess myself, give real answers, and beat down a new path. Is it loving if you do all those things for your family? Absolutely. Does this mean that you can’t work outside the home? Absolutely not. Do not let anyone make you feel guilty or condemned if you work outside the home–whether it’s due to your circumstances or by choice. Your circumstances and your choices are likely to vary through the 18 years your child is at home. The question is not so much what you do.

The Real Question: Do you love?

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 1 Corinthians 13:1 (MSG)

Mom, don’t feel afraid to take the steps you need to take. If you’re a boring square, don’t force yourself to fit in a round hole. (Unless you believe God is calling you to that, and may you be blessed by this change.)  Remember to look beyond the quantity to the quality. Show them love in a way that only you can.  Love your family by being kind to yourself.

the emotional atmosphere a child is steeped in at home will pervade their adult mentality

We are called to by like Jesus. Jesus is called love because he loved. He didn’t love by doing things for people…

He loved them by accepting them,

by listening to them…

by comforting them…

by acknowledging them when no one else would…

by putting his arm around them when others turned away…

What matters most is that you are love.

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This is your captain speaking

Wife, wifey, helper, helpmeet … let’s face it, there are many more names assigned to women in the marriage relationship. I suggest we get around the jargon and those emotionally charged words by assigning a new term to this role: Number Two (no surprise, my favorite Star Trek series is the one with Captain Picard and William Riker aka Number Two).

The traditional feminist, liberal would space the captain and take control of the ship, in effect staging a mutiny. The traditional, fundamental Christian would sit as far away as possible from the bridge, disguised as a passenger. It seems that neither of these approaches really fulfill the people who practice them (and I’ve been on both sides). We don’t need to swing back-and-forth on the pendulum but strive to find true balance and peace.

Wives do have a strong role to play, even if it’s not the starring one.

For now, I want to call on the men. It’s the men who have been called to mirror Christ in the marriage. Who are first called to turn the world upside down, to lead by serving. Husbands, are you living out your first call by only enjoying the pleasures of the privilege? Or are you setting aside your privileged position to act in love towards those serving you?

Do you want your wife to be more spiritually mature? Show her that maturity. First plan intentional time together for your wife with/out the children. Then, your wife probably will suggest you go take some time out with your friends.

Are you fed up with how there are always a few dishes in the sink or the children are acting up? Do you bring attention to the problems as you walk through on your way to something more exciting? Try being present to turn on the faucet or take an hour to take those hyper kids to run out in the backyard or neighborhood playground and laugh with them. You’ll breathe life into your wife (especially if she is the primary caregiver) so she can have a moment to recollect her thoughts without interruption. She most likely be more mentally and emotionally available for you after that. She may even be more open to the idea of you going to focus on something else if you have first shown her where your heart and priorities truly lie.

Don’t wait until she’s at her wit’s end, ready to blow down the house with her hot and angry words. I’ve heard that a woman is like a garden or a flower and her husband is the gardener. Have you left her to wither?

Cultivate her care by showing her that you care.

It may be impossible to win your wife’s respect and admiration, if you treat your home more like a hotel (and your wife as the entire staff) than a haven (and her as that one person you’d want to relax with you). So what does a Captain look like? Well, Captain Picard, of course!

  • Is informed about crew members interrelationships (Riker and Deanna)
  • Seeks to be informed of the potential influences on his crew (frequently joins the away team)
  • Takes an interest in the education and upbringing of the children so that they can be entrust to positions of responsibility (Wesley, Data)
  • Personally becomes involved (and battles) if anyone seeking to harm or negatively impact his crew (the powerful Q)
  • Develops a working knowledge of all aspects of his ship (galley with Guinan, security with Worf, engineering with Geordi, medical bay with Dr. Crusher)
  • And maybe most importantly, intentionally empowers and releases his first office for leadership (he provides a listening ear, recreational companionship, and is present to model how to lead to Riker).

[don’t worry guys, a post directed to the women will follow soon]

Put Down that Marriage Blog!

OK, I’m a sucker for good advice. Who isn’t going to research ways to make their marriage (or parenting) better? Umm, me. Starting now. Let me tell you why.

All the Christian marriage advice I’ve read has some wonderfully encouraging words for those who are struggling, complete with the tried-and-true scriptures. That’s the good news. Many of the articles point out how the enemy wants to destroy marriage and is constantly waging attacks. That’s the truth. But these words of advice all mention the issues. Oh, the issues. Addictions, infidelities, you name it. No one is immune. I know.

The problem is, for me anyway, is that these attempts to be transparent just turn into triggers. I wake up on the wrong side of the bed (that is if I even slept in a bed–parents, you know what I mean), don’t have my morning cup of wake up until noon, the kids have colds, and, BAM, marriage advice has become fodder for the worry fire. Just tonight, when he paused during our conversation, I was afraid some deep-dark revelation was about to pour out (despite the evidence of the contrary). Why the internal freak out?

In my efforts to make my marriage better, I’ve been constantly reliving our past and fears by reading marriage blogs.

As far as I know, my husband isn’t leading a secret double life (but then it wouldn’t be a secret, would it?). We aren’t on the brink of divorce. We certainly should always strive to improve ourselves in all areas of our lives, especially in this type of long-term commitment, which is why I started reading marriage advice in the first place. Every relationship needs encouragement.

But for now, I’m going to stop reading that marriage advice.

FROM HAVOC TO HAVEN — WEEK 2

So for week 2, you’re to add music to your candle lighting…to work on gentleness and self-control. We frequently have music playing–anything from kids nursery rhymes to classical to Christian rap. I’m also a fan of the waves over at A Soft Murmur. We’ll try to be intentional in my choices and about how they affect the mood that the music is setting. Sometimes even the most calming music (added to sounds of two rambunctious boys playing, someone always mowing now that it’s summer, and the dog barking incessantly at those people outside) seems to jangle my jangling nerves even more.

This week, while I may not light the candle, I’ll try out different music each day and note any affects.

  • Day 1: Completely missed this one.
  • Day 2: We have the waves and a little wind and rain going on here.
  • Days 3-7: Yes! I think we found the perfect combinations–instrumental music (think movie scores, piano…) and then for upstairs the local public radio station that plays a variety of jazz and classical. One head bangs and the other does break dance moves but, hey, they’re happy.

From Havoc to Haven — Week 1

Somehow I’ve stumbled across this interesting blog post from some time ago on the Women Living Well Ministries site. It piqued my interest because I’m a self-conscious introverted work-from-home mother of two young boys–there is rarely a quiet moment in my home. And it.is.killing.me. I need my home to be refuge for myself but I don’t know how to get it there. I’m ready to take this year-old challenge.

The writer states “Have you ever considered that YOU are an environment?  What type of environment are you?” Wow, no I haven’t really thought that I am an environment. I feel consumed by everything outside of myself. I’ve heard it said that everyday we are either moving forward or sliding backwards. For me it feels like two steps back for every one step forward. I feel as though I need to get moving forward more often.

The writer concludes the post with some questions:

  • What type of environment are you?
    • I’m usually exhausted, overwhelmed, insufficient, limited, frustrated, and more dependent on caffeine than Christ to get through the endless hours of minutes.
  • What gets in the way of your peace and patience in your home?
    • I want to say that my yappy Chihuahua mix dog is the cause of the chaos. Or maybe the brother duo who I’m parenting through deleted files and shredded paper spread like confetti through the kitchen. Or maybe my husband because he’s working late. Or what about all these responsibilities I’m committed to? But, no, I’m the one who’s scrambling. I’m the one who has reached her limit before the day begins. I’m not so much the thermometer as I am the thermostat for our home right now.
  • Have you begun to light your candle?  What scent is your candle and does your family like the candle?
    • The writer suggests to light a candle while at home, where you will frequently see it, and then let that tiny flickering flame serve as a reminder to right then intentionally pray for peace and patience in your home. My candle is lit and is infusing the kitchen with the aroma of baking cookies…that’s enough to calm me. Who doesn’t want a cookie, right?

So here’s to the first week of the challenge.

  • Day 1: Candle lit, but I left for a function right after my husband returned for work. After a long two hours, they were all very happy to see mom-mom when she got home.
  • Day 2: I lit the candle only a couple of hours in the evening after a trying day. The kids and pets (and probably mom-mom to some extent) can’t control themselves when dad gets home so it got wild. The candle was blown out before we went to the local park to play/run/walk.
  • Day 3: I’ve lit the candle in the a.m. But I think I get it this morning…maybe instead of praying that God would pretty much make them calm, I should pray that He will help me with patience, self-control, and gentleness.
  • Days 4-7: I stopped lighting the candle because it became one more thing to remember to check before leaving or bed. I think the point is just to make you more aware and intentional about the atmosphere of your home.