Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Is A Life Worth?



Who can measure a life? How do you measure a life?

There is a lot I am passionate about, I've shared several through my blog. But there is one thing that nags at me, one thing that hits the deepest and that I feel most passionate about, and that is someone's self-worth. We hear this term a lot. Sometimes it's used talking about someone's value.

Worth can be defined as something that has significant value, or useful and of importance. Unlike money, humans don't have a dollar amount when it comes to their value or worth. It's easy to judge how much a house is worth, it's simple to have the knowledge of how much the car I drive is worth (and at this point in time, it ain't much). We easily measure worth on property value, product value, food value--those are all tangible ways to measure somethings worth.

So how do we measure a humans worth? What is the worth of a human? What are you worth and what is your value? What is mine?

Many, especially americans, value their worth based on their jobs. That's a biggie. My husband and I are currently watching a relatiy show called The Pitch, us ex-ad geeks are loving it. On the show, two agencies battle it out to win new business through their pitch. Last week, when they were showing clips of the agency employees who were working on a specific piece of the pitch, one of the girls was being interviewed for the show. She literally said, "I really have to win this pitch-my self-worth depends on it. This is how I value who I am." That is word for word my friends. I looked over at my husband (he knew what I was thinking), with my jaw on the GROUND. How incredibly sad! I wanted to reach into the TV screen and scream at her and say "Nooooooooooooooooooooooo"!!!

Let's look at all the ways us humans measure our worth:
-How much money we make
-How big our house is
-Where we work
-What we wear
-What we eat
-Who we talk to
-Who we know
-Where we come from
-The houses and neighborhoods we grew up in
-The schools and universities we attend or don't attend
-What we know/knowledge/how smart we are
-How well we do on tests
-How many skills we have
-How creative we are
-How much we weigh
-What we look like physically
-How others treat us
-How we treat others (meaning if we treat people really good are worth goes up)
-How much of a difference we are making
-How popular we are/how known by the world we are
-Our religious beliefs
-Our political beliefs
-Our ethnicity
-What's happened to us/our past
-The degrees we hold


I mean honestly the list goes on, what did I forget?

I gotta know, do you believe any of that? That you are worth less or more based on the above list? If your kid came home from school and told you they got a C on a paper or a test, would you think or believe that their value or worth as a tiny human was lowered or changed at all? What about if they got an A? Would you think their worth went UP? Gosh I so hope not.

Our world is so focused on rank and elitism. I think it's absolutely disgusting. There, I said it.

I wish I could reach every single teenage girl and more to let them know this: 
YOUR WORTH IS NOT BASED ON WHAT YOU DO, WHERE YOU'VE BEEN, WHERE YOU'RE GOING, OR WHAT SOMEONE SAYS ABOUT YOU. YOU HAVE VALUE BECAUSE YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING. AND THAT IS ALONE ENOUGH. YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN RUBIES AND YOUR VALUE IS THE SAME AS A BIG WIG ON WALLSTREET OR ANGELINA JOLIE. NO ONE, I MEAN NO ONE HAS MORE VALUE THAN YOU AND NO ONE, NO ONE IS WORTH MORE THAN YOU. WE ARE EQUAL. IT'S THE WORLD THAT HAS CREATED THESE RANKS, NOT GOD. DON'T BELIEVE IT, DON'T BUY INTO IT. WE ARE ALL ON EQUAL GROUND. IT'S A LEVEL GROUND. I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE, OR HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH OR WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU ARE BEING BEATEN, ABUSED OR MISGUIDED. I'M HERE TO SAY THAT YOUR LIFE IS WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS THE NEXT. BELIEVE THAT REALITY. BELIEVE THIS TRUTH.
My daughter is in Africa right now, and I could never believe that because she is american that 
her life is worth more than these precious boys. Just because she has more opportunity and more money and probably more resources doesn't mean that her life is worth more. They are equal in the eyes of God.

If this isn't the truth, then I may as well crawl into a hole and die. And I am not kidding. I get through each day BECAUSE of this truth! I have removed myself from the ranking system of the world. I refuse to play into it, and I have offered the same truth to my daughter.

I don't think I could live a minute in this world if I was basing and judging my self-worth on anything other than the raw truth that all lives are equal in the eyes of God. I just couldn't. I would drown. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let The Darkness Teach You



Anyone that has been reading CB for a while has known that I have seen my dark days. I haven't hidden the fact that I have faced some major suffering, mainly in my marriage and the second in my health.

Being in the dark--and what I mean by that is being in a place and time in your life that is extremely painful emotionally, physically and mentally. Dark times come when we lose someone very close to us, or we struggle with our health, or we lose our homes and struggle to put food on the table, or we go through a divorce. There are many situations that bring us to a dark period in our lives, and hopefully, it brings us to our knees. I know that is where I ended up.

Darkness promotes many things: loneliness, hopelessness, depression, anger, bitterness, resentments, self-pity, frustration, blame. . .and the list goes on. I'm very familiar with it.

I believe we must let the times in the dark show us something we haven't seen yet. Let it teach ussomething we don't know yet. Look within. Dig. Seek. Ask. Beg if you have to.

I would consider being in the wilderness or the dark for probably 6 or 7 years. That's a long time.

My first bout of darkness came in my marriage 9 years ago. I've written about it on the blog here, here, herehere, here,  and here so I won't rehash it all today, but it was torture for me, and my husband. I spent many days hiding in my closet and screamed and cried almost every day for a year and a half. After that mulled over, it was still chaos for 5 more years, and I thought the marriage would end. Man those were some dark, miserable days. Or years, rather. What torment.

The second piece of darkness has been my health. I have had 43 surgeries since 1996. And from 2007-2010 I had the worst of them. I've been recovering for the last 4 years or so, through various treatments and physical therapies. Those were some very pathetic years for me, extremely defeated and basically thought I was the worlds biggest loser. And not the trying to lose weight kind.

I consider myself a seeker "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13. When I was in the midst of these battles I always went to God's Word, it was literally ALL I HAD. The scripture verses on seeking had struck me back in 2002 when I became a christian, but when I was in my pit of hell, is when I put them to USE. So began my journey to "seek the Lord" and His kingdom first.

Here are 3 things I let the dark teach me, here is what I discovered as I sought the Lord and wisdom greater than my own. Because if I were left to my own devices, I wouldn't have learned what I learned:

1. I Became An Abider-
Most Americans don't get the concept of REST. And they have no clue that rest is important, no, vital for their lives. I really wish this would change, but our society is too focused on busyness, I just don't have faith that it will change much. Achievements and success is the american way don't ya know.
Well I was forced to rest. Being that I was laid up from 2007-2010 basically, made me an "abider". I use to be so focused on all I wanted to DO and how we all should DO it and what the RIGHT way to live was and on and on. I was focused outwardly. I was "trying" to live a good life. But in my time on the couch as I like to call it, I learned that what God wanted from me was just to rest in Him. To abide in Him, and connect with Him, and commune with Him. Learn to be a BEING. Learning to be a BEING helped me really become a real DO-ER. It was an inside out change, and my life naturally became a living sacrifice for others. Which is what Jesus was. Whether you have certain religious beliefs or not--you can still learn to be a BE-ER. Instead of focusing on being a DO-ER, God taught me to just be. And you can learn that too. I had an idea of what my life ought to look like, but God was calling me deeper, and saying, "No child, come here first."
As soon as I started to loosen my grip on the way I thought I wanted things to go, and as soon as I stopped clinging to trying to make my life look a certain way, was when I actually started to live. Truly live. 
I could rest at His feet and learn more about His heart, and His ways. I could love on Him and He could love on me. Just right there, on the couch. Learn about your heart, learn the way you think, learn to rest.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. - John 15:4

2. Rise Above Circumstance-
It took all I had in me to find peace and joy in the midst of my marital uproar and my unstable health. I was fighting tooth and nail because I did not want either of these things happening to me. This wasn't what I envisioned for my marriage or my health! The word circumstance comes from things that are happening. It actually is traced back to the word HAPPY. Usually we are happy or not happy depending on our circumstances. But JOY and PEACE breed contentment and that is a whole other ballgame. We can have those without HAPPY CIRCUMSTANCES. For me that came in the form of course in reading God's word and seeing Paul! Paul was in prison and was an innocent man but because God loved Him that was simply enough for Paul to find joy. I was able to "rise above" my circumstances and not let them define me or bring me down because God showed me that I was more than what was happening TO me. I was loved by God and even if my marriage was falling apart and my health was a mess, I could still have an inner peace by knowing the Truth of God's love. I didn't have to be defined by my circumstances. I might not have been happy, but I could still have peace, I could still have a joy. I was able to cling to hope, which opened a whole new world! The world and it's suffering and pain will always try to bring us down, but the hope we have in God outweighs anything this life throws our way. God has His own profound purpose in our afflictions, but it's never to take away our joy. To maintain our joy we must adopt God's perspective regarding our trials. When we yield to the working of His Spirit in our lives, our difficulties will not overwhelm us. In all circumstances the Spirit of God produces joy, so there ought not to be any time when we're not rejoicing in some way.

"I count it all joy". Paul

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me." Psalm 27:5-7



3. The Battle Is In The Mind
Every morning, and I mean every morning for years I woke up and believed I was a loser. Gosh, what even IS a loser?
I believed I had no purpose, no plan and was useless. When I couldn't do all I wanted to do because I had to quit my job in 2007 due to all the surgeries I was having, I was angry. This is not where I wanted to be, and I found myself constantly fighting this battle of who I was in my mind. I believed lies about myself that I was no good. It was such a dark place to be. But again, I turned to the word and found scripture was literally my only Truth. It had become a way of life for me. It wasn't just words on a page anymore, they were real life for me. I found out amazing things about who I really was in God's Word and that that was what I needed to replace with the negative talk and lies I was believing in my head. I had to claim and re-claim the Truth of who I really was! The bible calls it "taking thoughts captive" and I learned in counseling that all that means is that the cycle is: THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, ACTIONS. So I had to start with the thought, and if it was negative, I would replace it with a TRUE or GOOD thought and therefore my feelings would change and of course then my actions would be different too. It's an amazing tool that I STILL do every single day! Email me if you have questions about it or want help with it!
It's been a good long time since I woke up calling myself a loser, but if I start to feel it creep in, I immediately change my thought pattern. I replace false thoughts with true thoughts. I replace cruel thoughts with kind, loving thoughts. Mostly which are from my heavenly Father.

I know the last place anyone wishes or wants to be is in the dark. Why would we? It's painful and scary and beyond not fun. But I also trust that it's in the darkness that better vision can grow. Better vision about ourselves, others, God and the world itself. We mature there. We become like fine wine, being in the wine skins for long periods of time, we get better with time and age. We push through the darkest days of our lives searching for a purpose in all of it. There is always hidden purpose or beauty. Always. We just have to be daring enough to find it.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Come Thou Fount






I forget sometimes that I have been in the thick of parenting before. I'm in it now, just in a much different way. It's no secret that I have been struggling with this stage of parenthood. It has actually thrown my faith into a tizzy. And after all I've been through in my marriage and with my health, you would think that would be nearly impossible. Pride comes before a fall. Ouch.

As a Mom, I've been knee deep in infections, ear tube surgeries, broken bones, illnesses, tantrums, the lying phase, the boy phase, a deeply broken heart, friend drama, teasing, insecurities, frustrations, body changes, emotional changes, friend changes, sleepovers, acne, sex ed, science projects, plays, concerts, sporting events, award ceremonies, boundary teaching, defiance, brokenness, redemption, forgiveness, teaching, preaching, yelling, softness, goodness, poverty, wealth. Wins, loses, positivity, negativity. Clean room, messing room. I've taught things of the heart, and reality of disappointments. I encouraged art, self-care, and authenticity. We've eaten pizza rolls and buttered noodles and organic free-range chicken and eggs.
She experienced loss of life of friends, grieving, finding God, questioning God. 

Parenting encompasses so much. There is no way my words could cover it all. But again, those days seem so distant. I seemed to have sailed through those days fairly well as a mother. I didn't stress often, I didn't worry too much, and I thoroughly enjoyed and was fulfilled. She was the light of my life. No doubt she still is.


 It's seems like forever ago that my daughter was a toddler, a grade-schooler and even feels like a lifetime ago that she was a middle-schooler. I lived those years well as a Mother. Did you know my first blog was a parenting blog? I'm super passionate about parenting. Relationship and authenticity come easy for me, which is my main focus in parenting, mixed with being extremely intentional with my time. I believed in bringing my daughter up with impeccable manners, walking and working through her emotions with her, talking openly about the hard stuff, not giving her many material things, encouraging her to make her own choices and how to do that, making sure she knew she was loved by God and by me, and that she was worth more than Rubies. I made an effort to really listen to her, especially when the tween years came upon us and she really learned the "gift of gab"! I don't remember myself ever talking that fast, do you?!

I encouraged her to be-friend the outcast, and to share with those who had less, and to appreciate what she had. I told her a lot about forgiveness--saw a lot about forgiveness too in our home, and the way of the heart. God's heart mainly. She also knows a thing or two about grace, and she has a heart for the homeless. I was protective about music, movies, and the language she used. Gosh, I didn't even allow her to say "stupid", and didn't hesitate to share my beliefs about the bible with her. She attended christian camps every summer since she was 7. She asked many questions and was a leader at her church on Sunday evenings. I baptized her when she was 16! My parenting style is Authoritative. And I've always been positive and taught her to not complain about the weather or other silly things. Constantly praising her and encouraging her in a variety of ways throughout the week. I know she knows she's loved and heard. I know she knows she has worth and value. I know she knows God loves her. She would say she comes from a peaceful home, not without struggles, or problems, but loving, good and peaceful.

Last week I thought I was a complete failure though. I thought my last 18 years as a parent was wasted and down the drain. I felt so defeated as a Mother and it hurt so bad. But heart was broken. I saw the last 18 years as a complete failed attempt on my part and I was devastated. 

There's a big argument in the parenting world about when our kids go out on their own. If a kid goes "astray" people like to blame it on the way they were raised. If a kid stays on the straight and narrow (which I understand everyone's straight and narrow is different), then it's due to the good home life the kid had. Seems there is no attention on the individuality of the kid itself. I think there should be.


Since my girl left the house, and went off to college, it's not like she's gone hog wild. Ok, maybe with Seth Rogen movies, but that's it. 
But she's made some poor decisions that most every kid at that age, 19, does or has. I can relate, hello, I had her pretty much at the age she is now. I can relate.
I was not prepared for these years. No one talks of such things. Why? Seems everyone is always talking about other stages, but not this one. We need to start! I have had some support along the way, which has been helpful, but what this stage does to a Mother's heart is painful. And I don't think some of the decisions she's making are because of some of the brokenness in how she was raised. But maybe I'm wrong. It could be a mixture, either way, I know it's perfectly natural and perfectly normal, but that doesn't make the pain any better. I have been wiped on my butt by how difficult, painful and hard this stage is. I hate that I am not a fan. What's wrong with me?


'Come thou fount'

A fount is actually a source, and right now, I need this source to come with it's healing! Come with it's blessings! Which is God! I keep singing this over and over because I am unable to know how to support my daughter or love her without the love of God! I am unable to love who she is dating without seeing him through the eyes of God!
I am unable to judge my daughter with the love of God. I am unable to show mercy, and grace with my God! I am unable to the love her unconditionally with God! I am unable to be cruel with God guiding me and leading me!
With God's love I am able to cover it all with love! 

And believe no matter what phase you are in with your children, this can be true for you too. They are all covered. No matter if it's a lippy attitude, a tantrum, a lie, or an embarrassing moment. Whatever the case is, as for the fount to come, and heal and bless!

Our children will all make their way, but it has to belong to them, not us. This journey is our own. And I have known that to be true in my own life and walk, but it's extremely difficult to apply that to your own kids. Again, this is why I need my source. Come thou fount, do not tarry.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Everything Has An Appearance

So everything can be dressed up. . .

Nobody's got it all together. I'm 5'4 and trip over maxi's.


Words from one of the wisest women I know. I am trying to think back to what her and I were talking about last week that made her say this to me. But when she said it, I was like, BOOYA, so so true, and perfectly put in a simple, profound way.

In the age we are living in, there is no getting away from a "dressed up" life. If you have a FB account, you can attest to this.

Do you ever feel like other peoples lives are better than yours?
Do you ever feel like other people don't have problems?
Do you ever think someone else's life is easier than yours?
Do you ever feel bad about your life when you are on FB or Instagram?
Do you ever think someone has it "all together" and you don't?
Do you ever think someone else's kids are "perfect" and yours aren't?

If you have answered YES to even ONE of these questions, I think what I have to say will have some interest to you. And if you're honest, you probably answered YES to most of them, if not all. I have.

When my girlfriend said, "Everything has an appearance, so everything can be dressed up", she meant that in terms of people's FB pages and IG accounts. For instance, the friend I'm talking about I met via online. She was a blog reader; she blogs herself but life circumstances keep her from blogging much at all, and I wasn't even aware of this when we met. Anyway, the only picture I had of her was that she was a "wealthy southern woman blessed with three daughters and an amazing husband and lives a charmed life on beautiful land."
That is literally what I thought. Why? Because of her IG feed, and because of the the little glimpses I saw on FB. These were my conclusions. This was far from reality.
I won't get into too many details, because it's her private life, but let's just say, she was sharing what she wanted. And so does everyone else.

Her life had an "appearance" and she was "dressing it up." Not purposely, she is not that way at all. But she was dressing it up in the fact that she was sharing what she wanted and withholding a ton of other "stuff".

Let me be perfectly honest here. People share what they want to share, for many different reasons.
This does not mean their life is without problems, issues or suffering. Their life might look different than yours, or appear a certain way, but that is all based on what they share and what WE judge. I think we should stop doing this. Judging, I mean.

"More men judge on the appearance of things than they do the reality of what is actually true." Unknown

"Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many." Phaedrus 


"Everyone sees who I appear to be, but only a few know the real me. You can only see what I choose to show, there's so much more behind this smile."

"Stop comparing your behind the scenes with everyone else' highlight reel." Steve Furtick 

Some of the reasons people "dress up" the appearance of their lives are this:

-they are unable to share more for certain reasons
-they do not WANT to share more
-they purposely want to give an impression that their life is great and all together
-their life is great and they have few issues and they like to share
-their life is so awful, and they are miserably unhappy so they do not share
-they only share the "cool, good and amazing" but leave the rest out
-their personalities are wired to share

Whatever the reason, know this. No one's kid is perfect, no one human is perfect. No one person is without a set of problems. They may not look like your problems, but they have problems and conflict.
No one person is without some form of suffering. It might not look like your suffering, but they have suffering. No one is perfect because personally I believe only our God in heaven in perfect.

Do some people have big gorgeous houses? Yes.
Are some people's houses perfectly organized and picked up? Yes.
Are some people into working out and eating healthy? Yes.
Do some people have gifted, extraordinary kids according to the world? Yes (meaning, high test scores, over achiever, kids that become doctors, kids that win awards, etc... and I say according to the world because if I had a child that struggled, the world would technically label him/her but I don't like labels, I count on who God says I am and who He says my children are, not the world)
Do some people have amazing husbands, so much so that they call him their Best Friend? Yes.
Do some people have super nice cars, go on super nice trips and live a charmed life? Yes.

It's not that these things aren't true at all about peoples lives. Sometimes the appearance isn't totally dressed up and it's accurate. It's just not as true as you think and it's about finding a way to be at peace with this not being your own life (on the outside).  Because even though those things might be true, it still doesn't take away from the fact that INSIDE they still have problems. Don't equate the above being true to equal these are people without issues.

To sum it up:
People who have junky cars and fancy cars both have problems, they might have different problems, but they still both have them. Sure a person with money might have it easier in lots of ways, than a person born into poverty, I am not naive, I am aware of this. I am just speaking from a broad sense that just because you see a life put together on FB, doesn't mean it's accurate. That's what this post is about, this isn't a political type post.
People who have 5000 sq foot houses and people who have 1,500 sq foot houses both have their own set of problems.
Every one's kids mess up.
Most marriages struggle from time to time.
And not everyone calls their husband their best friend.
If you see a parent posting pictures of her daughter winning Homecoming Queen (wink wink), that doesn't mean their daughter has it all together.

We all have unique challenges. And that will be a life-long journey. Try not to impress upon yourself the agony of comparing your life or how you live next to someone else. Being in the blogging community, I find this difficult myself. But I give myself constant reminders, and try to keep up my awareness. And remember too that life isn't fair. And by that I mean, some people experience a lot of suffering and some hardly any. There are many theological answers as to why. Personally, I have endured a lot of suffering, but because of it I am thankful. I am thankful for it all because it has made me more whole. It has built my character, and God is using it all for good.
And it may very well be that someone has a "better" appearing life than you, but if you focus internally, to fight for peace, then it won't matter what their life is like compared to yours. And gratitude, gratitude gets you far my friends.

Someone living in a 500sq foot cottage with no children and no family and only fruit, cheese and bread to eat and coffee and water to drink can wake up joyful. They can walk out of their cottage and see trees and hear the birds, and be thankful. Anyone can be thankful. Just reel it in if you find yourself looking at others' lives too much. Bring it back into your life. Look at all you have to be thankful for, and that's not cliche'. It's about our focus. Focus on gratitude from the inside out. There will be no way out of joy that way. So much of are sorrow and complaining comes from our state of mind. That's what's so cool, we can control our minds, so we can choose to have peace. We can choose to be content. We can choose to be grateful.





So remember next time you are scrolling through your Facebook feed, and you see a Mom posting a picture of her kid winning an award or you see a family photo in their big new house--keep in mind what's BEHIND the photo. Probably a lot of what your daily life looks like. And remember, "EVERYTHING HAS AN APPEARANCE, SO ANYTHING CAN BE DRESSED UP."





Monday, May 19, 2014

40 Things I Learned In 40 Years

Purple velvet, via 1974

1978

The day I turned 40, March 1, 2014

I turned 40, three months ago, and I never got the chance to share my 40 THINGS in 40 years so I am sharing them today. I hope you take even one away, ok, maybe like half a dozen, away from this list, more enlightened. Fortunately and unfortunately, I learned most of this the hard way.


1. We are all a fallen, broken, hurting people.
2. You can't always get what you want, and most of the time you won't.
3. Life throws many curve balls (unplanned stuff), let it TEACH you, don't resist it.
4.  Life is fragile and so are people, handle with care.
5. Not everyone thinks the way you do; and no matter your attempts to get them to, they most likely never will.
6. Compassion and empathy should be your two sidekicks.
7. Some people just don't apologize. You can move on with or without their sorries, or admitting to wrong doing. YES you can.
8. Life is unfair. PERIOD.
9. Life is quite beautiful if you see it through a different set of eyes than the ones that are preventing you from seeing it.
10. You can't always get what you need from your parents.
11. The best thing you can do for your kid is give them emotional support (aside from giving them the basic food, clothing and shelter).
12. Your kids are human--aahhh novel thought!
13. Redemption is sweeter than anything I have ever experienced.
14.  It's OK to have regrets.
15. Your joy or happiness does not have to depend on someone else.
16. Others behaviors or attitudes rarely have to do with YOU. Hard to believe but true.

17. Forgiveness is a choice. 
18. Letting go is a choice.
19. Don't give your kids things just to make them happy.
20.  Don't interrupt people. When they are sharing their heart, treat it as valuable information and let them know you heard them.
21. Marriage is not for the faint of heart.
22. Marriage is not the answer for your happiness, or fulfillment.
23. Dogs make extremely lovely companions!
24. Not everyone will like you.
25. Relationships take effort and intention, or they won't exist.
26. To-do lists are overrated.
27. Your spouse is flawed.
28. The vastness of Gods love toward you can change your life.
29. Be patient with your in-laws. 
30. You are not your past mistakes.
31. Your circumstances, no matter what they are, you have purpose no matter what.
32. Examine your own heart, not someone else's.
33. Don't have expectations of others. Live in a world of expectancy instead.
34. We can't control others or change them.
35. Work through your bitterness and contempt. It only serves one person, and that's you, and it serves you poorly.
36. Use your manners.
37. Be an advocate of your own health.
38. People need grace, a lot of it. (Grace is undeserved kindness)
39. I truly believe if we choose to see others through the eyes of God, we would see them in a whole new light.
40. Not everyone will appreciate or notice all your efforts.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I'm Still A Mother

Mother's Day last year 


Being an empty-nester is a very interesting thing. On many levels. The transition is odd, difficult, sad, stretching, freeing, and confusing, just to name a few. I can't believe my daughter has completed her first year of college, she'll be home in two days for the summer. And with Mother's Day approaching, it has got me thinkin introspectively, of course.

I remember hiding out for a couple of weeks when she left last Fall. The pain was that of a loss. It hurt so much to let her go, but I had only let her go physically when I, like in the movies, waved goodbye out my car window with tears flooding my face as she walked up the pavement on into her dormitory. Literally the hardest thing I've ever had to do. So I thought.

I mentioned how becoming an empty nester is interesting. And odd. This is why. The transition is something you can not anticipate. It is something that you can't fully plan for in your heart, (well maybe that's true for most tough, beautiful moments), and one has no idea what is ahead of them as they are led up to it. My daughter's High School years were very very busy and involved. She probably had her hands in 10 or more things, so that meant that I was busy. Regardless of only having one child, she probably made up for it in all that she was involved in. Ok, maybe not. But it was busy. Sure I missed a good chunk of it when I was laid up for about 4 years, but there were some things during that time I could go to. But as you can imagine, her leaving for college, left my husband and I with little to do. One example of the odd transition.
We miss going to the High School, we miss seeing her perform in choir, band and dance. We miss seeing her be an evident positive person in other kids' lives by being a mentor through Link Crew. We miss getting letters in the mail of 'congratulations your daughter has been chosen for.....' gosh how we miss those letters.
We miss supporting all the things she said "Yes" to, like speaking at events at the High School on a weeknight. I mean honestly, that's just only the school part I miss.

I am still a Mother, even though I don't attend these activities any longer. 

Then there's the evidence of her being around the house that I miss. I miss her walking through the door everyday at 3:00p, yelling "Mama!!!!". She did this every. single. year. and every. single. day if she didn't have play practice. And during the driving years,  depending on who was dropping her off in our drive-way, I knew by the sound of the car--I'd be prepared to hear her walk in the door!
I miss tripping over her back-pack--no really, I do!
I miss her helping me out around the house and seeing how dedicated she was to her chores. And let me tell you, she was. This girl could do chores! 
I miss all the kids hangin out in our living room.
I miss her snuggling our dog Nell's. I miss hearing the loud music come from downstairs. I miss hearing the doors closing downstairs, indicating that she was coming upstairs. 
I miss the runs to DQ, coffee shops, and running errands together.
I miss the disputes, because that meant we were intentionally in relationship.
I miss teaching the lessons, but more so I miss her asking me to teach her one.
I miss the tears, the laughter, and even the rudeness because that meant she was growing up, and changing.
I miss the touch. The talks. I miss hearing about all the drama at school--and yes, I listened.
I miss hearing, believe it or not, "What's for dinner?!" or "I"m hungry!"--OK, maybe I don't miss that.
I miss her charm, hunger for goodness that is obvious everyday in her life, I miss the innocence, and I miss her voice.
Senior pic

I am still a Mother, even though these things aren't in my life every single day anymore.


When I look back I realize that I didn't really let her go that day we said good-bye at the campus. Letting go came in the next months. I remember the first, second and third weekends and even beyond that she was at school, I would grab my cell phone, and my husband would ask, "What are you doing?" And I'd respond, "I have to call her, I need to know where she is, and if she's at a party and if she's drinking and who she's with...." And he said, "Gina, I'm sorry, but no you don't." I insisted, "I HAVE to know these things (tears fill my eyes even today as I write this), I can't go to sleep until I know." 

                                          Physically letting her go was more painful than I could ever have imagined.                                                                                  Little did I know that letting her go emotionally would be even tougher.

He just held me. Said it was going to be alright. He really walked me through some of those months. Because that's how long it lasted I'd say, about 2 months. The pain lessened, but my wanting to call her the way I did, lasted a long time. My husband helped a lot because he told me about his experience in college, and encouraged me in ways I hadn't thought of, because I didn't go to college. He was such a source of encouragement that I needed. 

For the first time in my life, my daughter was "out of my control". She wasn't under my care any longer and that was extremely un-fun to say the least. It was a form of torture. I know that in all the years she was under my care there were no guarantees that she was safe, or well or that I couldn't fully control her and I didn't try to. I'm just saying once your kids are out of your care, they are their own. You start to see this transition around the age of 17, and it wipes you on your butt. When I first saw those changes in my daughter, it was devastating for me, because I was taking it personal. I did write about that here. I learned to see my kid as a human, as a person, not just my child. There is a difference. 

I had to learn to let go. And let me tell you. I did not want to. I was very resistant to letting go but I found it was harmful to not only myself, but to my daughter. It was crucial that I let go. 

“Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”  Deborah Reber 

I knew for my well being and for hers, I needed to let go of what once was. I needed to accept. Accept is a verb. I needed to accept this new phase I was entering into, and it was not pretty. Internally and externally I cried out and it was heartbreaking! Like I listed earlier, there was so much I missed, but just in general, I missed my role as a mother. I missed mothering on a daily basis. I was pretty darn good at  it. I've always been an intentional person, and a relational person, and I was no different as a mother. My aim and goal for 18 years was to shape this girl into the most beautiful human being I possibly could. And when she left, I was out of sorts. I had "prided" myself on doing so well as a mother. Maybe a little too much if I'm honest. But,  I was good, great, at being her mom. Our bond is so strong. 
Enjoying a coffee break before we took off to let her get settled into her new "home".


I am still a Mother even though I am not a mom in the same ways.

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” Ann Landers

I finally had turned a corner and embraced this new era of mothering! It might have taken 6 months, but I did! And it has been a beautiful communion--what my daughter and I have developed since. I see my daughter living out what she was taught and coming into her own. I see her making poor choices along the way too, but that's all part of the journey for her as she faces each day as a new adult. Seeing her come through those poor choices on the other side is the real beauty! She's living life! If she didn't have problems, she wouldn't be living.
I'm learning the new ebb and flows of being a parent to an adult child--and although I miss many things--I have accepted what lies ahead. And I'm excited! 

I can't deny that she still needs me and that I love that. I still need my parents and I'm 40 years old. Settling into my new role has not been easy and has not come without some kicking and screaming, but that happens anytime we force something that is unnatural. I mean when a baby bird hatches, it doesn't stay in the nest, it eventually flies away, and the mama bird allows it to. She knows it has to leave. She knows his time has come to fly, and soar--to try to make it out there with his own two wings. And that is exactly what I have done. And I'm grateful to being flying, and soaring right next to her.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Speech On Identity

I recorded my first speech yesterday, it seems little dark, maybe up the lighting on your laptop. It seemed OK when I was recording. 
Keep in mind it is my FIRST speech, I did my best! I hope to do more, what an honor to give this and share.