The Yoga-Pant Years and What A Good Mother Looks Like

God has blessed me profoundly by surrounding me with wise mothers from early on in my own motherhood. This was something I totally took for granted until I started a community moms group and had my eyes suddenly opened to the stress, anxiety, and insecurity that most mothers face on a daily basis.

I had been oblivious to the judgemental nature of “other mothers”.

I had been unaware of controversies ranging from cloth diapers vs. disposables to what brand of sippy cup you use. (I am not even joking.)

I had been mercifully sheltered from society’s idea of The Perfect Mother and was virtually skipping down the lane of Young Motherhood. Not that I didn’t have my share of troubles, mind you. But I took them in stride as normal setbacks, oblivious to the fact that hundreds of mothers in my community were daily feeling like they were “bad moms”.

Shortly after starting the moms group and realizing that I’d practically had a fairytale existence when it came to being a young mom*, I discovered a new passion: freeing moms up so they could enjoy their blessed roles as mothers.

I was constantly telling them, “There’s no one right way to be a mom. If you love your child, you are a GOOD mom!” But I often felt like I was swimming up-stream against a massive down-stream current. Occasionally, it felt like I was making a difference, but mostly it felt like I was talking to a wall. The culture of motherhood as it’s portrayed in television, via celebrity mothers, and through our own unrealistic expectations (of ourselves AND of others) is so utterly pervasive. I eventually realized that, like a lot of other freedoms, it had to be grasped by choice. It’s cliché but it’s true: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it.

In retrospect, I think I likely did more good than I’ll ever realize. While freedom is something to be chosen, it can be helpful to have someone yelling about it all the time—makes a body more conscious of its existence, for example. ;)

I decided to write this post after reading a blog post by another mother who outlined what a day for her looks like. She’s a mother of five and has very solid goals and values for her family while also being a writer and a team-player wife.

At one point, she mentioned that she showers,dresses, and puts on make-up every day because she believes she feels better when she looks better and it’s beneficial to her family when they see her looking presentable. She added that it doesn’t take that much effort to put on clothes rather than yoga pants. But it was the next part that I loved her for—she wrote:

(NOTE: while my children were very little, I wore yoga pants daily, no makeup).

It was a breath of fresh air! Why? Because there are some things that I know in my gut I’ve just got to give myself permission for and it’s SO NICE when that gut-grace is validated by Another Mother!

I’ve heard other mothers exonerate the benefits of getting dressed and putting make-up on; Fly Lady even advocates tying your shoelaces. And I tried that; I really did. But it just wasn’t edifying for me—and by proxy, it was unedifying for my family. I was less likely to clean house if I felt all done up; I didn’t want to get sweaty after fixing my hair! And jeans are not comfortable for getting down on the floor multiple times a day with my babies. Getting nice shirts spit up on or smeared with boogies made me a frustrated, irritated mommy. We’re not even going to talk about the agitation of having mascara running down my face when frustration and stress gave way to tears!!!

In other words, hearing an older, more experienced mother acknowledge that she started off in yoga pants freed me up even more than I already had been. It took away the last niggling bits of doubt & guilt and replaced them with the drops of grace I’d been missing.

And that’s what I want to impart to mothers everywhere, at whatever stage they might be in: whether you’re in the Yoga-Pant Years, the Bridge Club Years, or something in between, give yourself permission to do it WELL, not perfectly. Do it in a way that edifies your family, regardless of pressure and perspectives from the status quo.

What does a good mother look like? Well, I’ve seen all kinds: frazzled and yoga-pant-wearing, pristine and accessorized, exasperated and helpless, tender and wise…but they all have one major thing in common—they love their kids and they regularly sacrifice their own needs and desires to take care of their children’s.

THAT’S what a good mother looks like; don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. ♥

*I use the term “young mom” to mean “new mom” or “mom of littles”. It does NOT mean “young in years”!

An Awful Lot of Scandal: Part II

via Google Image Search

via Google Image Search

I promised here that I would soon post some things that came to mind when I pondered on why God would use “scandalous people” to bring His Son into the world. A fellow blogger noted that it wasn’t possible for God to use anyone BUT scandalous people, given our sinful nature. And she’s right – we’re all scandalous because of the sin nature. But it still baffled me that God wouldn’t at least use “the best of the worst”, so to speak. There are people in the Bible who are mentioned specifically for their righteousness, like Enoch, who walked so closely with God that when he died, he was simply “taken by God”, with no physical remains!

In thinking about this over the last two weeks, lots of things have come to mind but two of them have stuck with me:

  • 1. In using people with scandalous pasts (as opposed to using the Enochs in the world), God paved the way for us to have faith that He can indeed use us, regardless of where — or what — we’ve come from.
  • 2. In declining to exclusively use moral and upright people in Christ’s lineage, God is showing us pretty clearly that our actions are irrelevant; He does not use us because we are “more worthy” than others! He uses us because is all-powerful and He simply CAN. Additionally, He uses us because He LOVES us and He WANTS TO BLESS US by allowing us to be instruments of His power! What love!

The second one was particularly freeing this week, as I realized that God doesn’t NEED me to do ANYTHING for Him — there is no burden on my shoulders to save the world, to bring people to Christ. Rather, these are all good works that God has prepared for me ahead of time and it’s up to me whether or not I will step up and reap the blessing of being used by Him. I am storing up treasure in Heaven by doing the good works God prepared for me; certainly there will be works I did not step up to and I’m sure I will learn of them at some point, whether in the hindsight of later years or in Heaven. While it makes me sad to think I’ve missed out on some awesome opportunities, at the same time it’s a relief to know that “the future of the world” does not depend on me or my “worth”.

All that is required of me is to believe in the Son of God and surrender my own agenda so that it can be replaced with His. Scandal or no, God loves me, and He doesn’t just love me, He LIKES me. He WANTS to include me in His masterful, intricate plan! It makes me giddy just thinking about it. :)

If you are like me and come from a scandalous past, or you just FEEL scandalous and worthless some days, I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case; you are very worthful to my Heavenly Father, even if you don’t believe in His existence yet. And I would encourage you, believer and non-believer alike, to get out there and discover Him. He’s everywhere. If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions:
1. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek (book version or Kindle version)
2. YouTube videos like this one and this one that demonstrate the remarkable skill of God’s hands in the way He created human beings. He is amazing in His creation!
3. Testimonies like this one: text version or video version.
4. Take a walk in the woods and pay attention to things like leaves and trees and bugs and how intricate everything is. We have a Creator and He has not been subtle. ;)
5. Ask me about Jesus. I love to talk about Him and I have lots of real life experiences of Him that I would love to share with you.

May you grow to know Him and love Him even deeper than I have (and come back to tell me about it!).

Guest post: A Lesson In Spiritual Sewing

Today, I am honored to introduce my very first guest author ever! Her name is Margaret and she just so happens to be my mother. :) Since she’s such an important part of “being Fae”, I find it rather fitting that she gets to be the first guest writer for my blog — and, as you’ll see in her piece, it was not specifically arranged to be that way! But before we get to that bit, I would like to properly introduce her.

My mother grew up as a PK (preacher’s kid) and she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior around 4 or 5 years old. She tells me that she has had an awareness of His involvement in her life since she was little. Her heart’s desire is always to honor and glorify Him, and I think she is quite diligent about ascribing glory and honor to Him, whether via text message replies or posts on Facebook or in the middle of conversation. A lot of my own heart for God has been influenced by her beautiful example.

My mom loves bike riding, (especially tandem with my dad), reading, crochet, volleyball and being outside; she has four kids, (of which I am the oldest), and she tells me that each of our unique abilities and hearts for God bring her much joy.

She writes…

“Lesson I learned today: If you don’t want to take the time to baste stitch, you WILL take the time to seam-rip!”

After writing that as my status on Facebook the other night, my daughter commented that there was some spiritual application in that statement and she asked me if I would like to guest post for her blog. I gave it some thought and prayer, but nothing specific was coming to me. I thought of all kinds of applications like: If you don’t do your laundry, you will be wearing dirty clothes. If you don’t spend time with your kids, they will do time when they are older. But nothing seemed to give me that ah-ha feeling. So I commented that it was likely hers to write about as nothing was coming to me, but I would love to guest blog another time. Then I went out on a quick trip to Wal-Mart. While I was in the car, Chip Ingram’s message came on — it was the second time that day that I got to hear this particular message, entitled “Sexual Purity in a Sex-Saturated World” (I listen to him and James MacDonald every morning as I get ready for the day). But this time while listening to him, when he said he was “ruthless” about what he fed his mind through his ears and eyes because he knew how “weak” he was, I started bawling because it resonated with me big time. Many might look at me and think I am a strong Christian. But I am not. I’m actually quite weak! And it is because of my weaknesses that I am diligent…ruthless…about what I feed myself spiritually speaking.

When it is in my control, I try to diet solely on Christian music because it has been my experience that when I deviate into the secular realm, it is the first baby step towards broken fellowship with God. It gets me thinking things I shouldn’t think or dwelling on “the good ol’ days” and getting into pity parties. It even does a number on my pride…making me feel “cool”.

My reading preferences exclude secular romance and the latest best-sellers that could promote thinking on things that are not true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, have virtue or are praiseworthy. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Something else I have to guard, but have the hardest time regulating, is my TV viewing. I love reality TV — shows that show people interacting with each other. I find that stuff fascinating. It is better for me to be ruthless and not turn the TV on at all than to think that I won’t get sucked in to watching something that is not edifying.

I am ruthless about certain practices, too. For example, bouncing my eyes off of men I find attractive, whether it is a magazine picture or on TV or in real life.

One thing Chip Ingram brought out in his message was something like this: “If King David, who was “a man after God’s own heart”, who experienced God in many amazing ways and who knew true communion with God, could fall away into adultery and then try to cover it up with murder, surely *I* am capable of the same or worse!” 

I agree completely!!!

A good seamstress will take the time to baste-stitch in order to prevent time spent with a seam-ripper. I spend time with godly influences in order to prevent time spent in broken fellowship, breaking the heart of God, and having to do the work of repentance. I don’t do it because I am a good Christian, though. I do it because I know my weaknesses.

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12

Just A Closer Walk With Thee
1. I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

[Refrain: ]
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, ’tis my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

2. Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
3. When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

___
The message mentioned in this post can be found at http://livingontheedge.org/broadcasts by scrolling to the dates August 29 and August 30.

When I Feel Desperate Without Vision…You Wrap Around Me Like A Winter Coat

From a non-Christian’s perspective:

+ I have a diabolical plan to convert as many people to “my religion” as possible, so I can move up in the pyramid scheme of Christianity.
+ I’m manipulative and sneaky, and everyone around me is being slowly brainwashed as I subject them to my “religious drivel”. 
+ I’m a tryant-in-training, with a long-term goal of taking away everyone’s freedom and forcing them to obey rigid rules and regulations.
 
What’s really happening:
+ I believe Hell is real and I cry sometimes, thinking about the reality that not all of my friends and loved ones will be in Heaven with me. I can’t even walk into a Starbucks without being aware of the fact that every single one of those people will end up in Heaven or Hell. Everyone has an eternal destination.
+ I’m terrified of pushing someone even further from the life-saving truth, so I post Bible verses and inspirational quotes in the hopes that the Holy Spirit will move on their behalf and help them to see the reality of a Creator who loves us.
+ I’m learning to be like Jesus, with a long-term goal of freeing people from Satan’s deception so they can experience the joy that comes from “reading the manual” of life, as God wrote it. And I screw up royally sometimes.
 
I’m realizing that I’m a closet-evangelist. I don’t like Bible-thumpers and I don’t want to be a Bible-thumper, but in recent days, it’s becoming clear to me that no matter how honest, sincere, and loving I am in the sharing of my beliefs, 
+ there will be people who perceive me as a Bible-thumper, even a hateful, racist, bigoted one
+ there will be people who disagree with me
+ there will be people who (thankfully) love me in spite of disagreeing with me
+ there will be people who suddenly decide to hate me
+ there will be people who twist what I say to make it sound as hateful as possible
+ there will be people who try to use scripture against me, but use it incorrectly and then refuse to be enlightened on its contextual meaning. 
 
Jesus said the world will hate His followers, because the world hates HIM. And that helps. It prepares me for the sting of harsh words, for the sucker-punch of lies being told about me, for the pain of losing friends. 
 
But nothing soothes more than this: every hateful word, every rebuttal, every attack is a radar reading — it says I’m being heard. It means that someone else out there is quietly taking it all in and God is working in that person. And ultimately, all the hate that people think I’m spewing, that usually gets turned back on me? It gets turned into love: one more person who discovers the love that God has had for them all along. It turns into joy: angels rejoice every time someone decides to trust Jesus. It turns into freedom: one less person that Satan gets to destroy. 
 
I will not give up in sharing my faith, because in due time, I will reap a harvest. People will know the truth and the truth will set them free. The numbers I reach will be a pittance compared to people like Paul and Mother Theresa, but it will be more than none and that is enough to keep me going. Because Hell is real and I don’t want anyone I love to go there. I don’t even want my enemies to go there. ♥
___
What can I do with my obsession?
With the things I cannot see
Is there madness in my being?
Is it wind that blows the trees?
Sometimes You’re further than the moon
Sometimes You’re closer than my skin
And You surround me like a winter fog
You’ve come and burned me with a kiss
And my heart burns for You
And my heart burns
And I’m so filthy with my sin
I carry pride like a disease
You know I’m stubborn God and I’m longing
to be close
You burn me deeper than I know
I feel lonely without hope
I feel desperate without vision
You wrap around me like a winter coat
You come and free me like a bird
And my heart burns for You
And my heart burns for You

dear God, what are You doing?

i ask this question every day.

sometimes with anger.

sometimes with deep sorrow.

sometimes with giddy anticipation and excitement.

sometimes out of pure and simple curiosity.

i have yet to get a straight answer. there’s never a booming voice in the clouds or a gentle whisper in my spirit.

lately, there is absolutely, inconceivably, thoroughly frustratingly nothing.

i’m left to my own devices, which consist primarily of doubt and fear.

“what if God isn’t real?”
“what if i’ve got the wrong God?”
“what if He’s not really engaged in my life at all?”
“what if everything is made up, psychological flukes, genetic predispositions toward religion, etc.?”

i can almost guarantee you there is not a doubt out there that hasn’t been one of my own at some point in time.

but i’m not really left to my own devices, even though it often feels that way. God’s word is living and active. His Spirit lives in me. and those two things together create a powerful force to be reckoned with.

i remember that, when i DO what the Bible says, it works. i have never seen it not work.

the wind reminds me of His power and the sun reminds me of His love.

my own delight in my children reveals His delight in me.

“what are You doing?” i ask this question at least once a day and i never get a new answer. but His Spirit within reminds me of old answers…

…i know that He is doing good things.

i know that He is never sleeping.

i know that He is weaving all things for my good, because i love Him.

i know He is feeding the birds and clothing the flowers, so how much more is He taking care of me?

i know He is disciplining, training and strengthening me.

i know He is smiling at me and crying with me.

i know that He is.

and i know i am His. †

In No Uncertain Terms: Part I

this is how the world falls over.

first, someone does something bad. then, someone else calls it ‘good’. so other people do it too, because it’s ‘good’. eventually, someone comes along and says, “this is not good. this is bad.” people take sides. there is lots of fighting. then someone says, “fighting is bad. we should stop fighting.” everyone stops fighting but some people are still doing bad. they do bad for a long time. the other people, who said it wasn’t good, start to wonder if maybe it’s not THAT bad…

more people start doing the bad thing. occasionally, someone pipes up that it’s not good, but then someone else says, “fighting is worse. and what do you know anyway? stop judging me.”

over time, there are more people doing bad than there are people doing good. so bad starts to look good and good starts to look bad.

and then the world falls over.

the world is slowly falling over because the people doing good have stopped talking and the people doing bad never listened anyway.

so who’s fault will it be when the world falls over?

everyone’s. including yours and mine. †

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10

How The Hunger Games Cause Starvation

Shannon says it way better than I ever could—and believe me, I’ve been trying to put words together about this for weeks. It seems apparent to me now, that God wants me to deliver Shannon’s message rather than my own. :) Please read her thoughts. I can promise they are encouraging, not condemning. They are thought-provoking, not judgmental. And she actually read/saw The Hunger Games, so she is far more equipped to speak rationally and knowledgeably on the subject than I am. So, without further ado—A Christian Mom’s Thoughts On The Hunger Games.