Sunday, August 26, 2012

keeping up with the supermamas

instead of keeping up with the joneses, are you stuck in the vicious cycle of keeping up with the supermamas?

the one who wakes up at 4am to make homemade dough for out-of-this-world cinnamon rolls, then spends an hour doing her bible study and praying, and finally pounding it out on the treadmill for 45 mins, all before a soul in her house makes a peep.

don't get me started...but yes, i will.

she greets all of her children channeling julie andrews in the sound of music, "the hills are alive..." while telling each and every child how important they are without any kind of "hurry, hurry, we're late" in her voice. then this wonderful mama holds both kids on her hips while managing the iron with her foot so her hubby can wear a crisp, clean shirt to work.

don't get me started.

she fills her house with love and song, while the children play and she plays with them. she preps 3 dinners, 2 of which she will be delivering that afternoon to families who had babies. she sews on some buttons, finishes a quilt, and makes some homemade cards for friends that need a little encouragement. she wraps up the morning with sweeping and mopping the whole downstairs and scrubbing all the toilets.

her homemade turkeyball sub sandwiches are a hit with her children who eat everything. afterwards her beautifully behaved kids go down for a nap singing to her, "i love you mommy, so, so, so much" as she quietly exits their room.

instead of just turning on the TV for some downtime, she does more meal prepping for the month, hand washes all the dishes and washes/folds 7 loads of laundry. (and sneaks on facebook from her iPhone to tell you how great the day is going!) the children wake up and a yummy, organic snack is waiting. then they're on to an art activity she got from pinterest and an afternoon stroll in the wagon so she can pull the kids up the hill for an arm workout.

meanwhile the kids are still singing "i love you mommy so, so, so much." then they add the chorus, "you are the best mommy ever."

her hubby comes home and she greets him with a hug and a kiss like the statue of the Navy sailor coming home from war. she never whispers how she needs a 30-minute break or rolls her eyes when he asks how her day went. because of course, her day was fabulous. because it always is, each and every. single. day.

now on to an organic, home-cooked dinner that was prepped that morning, a family discussion of highs/lows, and then a board game so the family can have bonding time and laughter. baths are done with ease and the bedtime routine never misses a beat with books, and songs and laughter.

don't get me started.

the children go down with no fuss, and this saint of a mama now offers her hubby a massage after a long day of work. no TV for this family except a couple days a week, so it's discussion time with the hubs to talk about his feelings which he IS HAPPY to jump in and share with her until the break of dawn if she would let him.

but she knows best...

off to bed and this supermama reads her essential books on all things parenting and all things christian.

after giving her husband a night he won't soon forget, she updates facebook to tell you all about her superheroine'ness and drifts off to sleep.

for 1 hour...after all that's all the sleep this supermama needs.

don't get me started!

and she wakes up tomorrow and does it all AGAIN.

with her updating of facebook and handmade card she sends, you feel that she feels her role on this earth is to "encourage" you in her perfect role model of wife'ing and parenting.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

i call bulls*&%!

this is what we THINK the supermama is doing.

and this is what we THINK we SHOULD be doing to be like supermama.

ladies, this supermama and wife...DOES NOT EXIST!

i promise! (and if you're out there, please message me ASAP! i'd like to call you to the carpet.)

sure, we all have done things on this above mentioned list and if we haven't, we have all wished we could.

they are all great, wonderful things to place importance on your husband, your children, and a healthy lifestyle. controlled temperament, serving non-stop, and living joy out each and every day.

these are all fantastic things and i wish i could do all of them every single day. (but alas, i still send my buttons to the seamstress. :)

here's the deal. the REALITY.

i can't. period. i'm human, not supermama.

i believe through Christ i can ask Him to show me my shortcomings and over time like the refiner's fire, he can help me improve in a specific area where i continue to fail.

but i'll never, ever be.................PERFECT! ever.

i'll never be this supermama.

let's show some mama love and support each other by not flaunting what we're good at as supermamas. it's not doing anything good for the self-esteem of us mamas.

if asked by a mama, who just really needs to know the keys to success, share away. after all, you were asked by her. your efficient ways may also change her life. i have done that with my friend laura and through her, i have learned more about parenting that any book i could have read.

find someone you admire and who has been there/done that, and ask her how she does it. you'll get some great tips on how to make life easier and to better multi-task.

but you know what?

if your friend is REAL, she will also share all the shortcomings and mistakes so you won't make the same ones or if you have, so you can both have a laugh about it! you'll get her authenticity and she won't let you think she is supermama...DOING IT ALL...ALL THE TIME.

that's my friend laura. i wish you all had her as a friend!

humility in motherhood is a beautiful thing to watch.

but it's important to realize a humble mother is not a mama with no confidence. we all have our strengths and weaknesses. but we all look different. we all have different husbands, different children, different lives, different beliefs. no matter how much the "same" we can look.

it's easy to see someone with the "same" life, and think you should be doing your life like hers. wonder if she is thinking the same thing about your life...wishing it was hers?

if we all could love, support and laugh with other mamas, instead of judging and one-up'ing each other, how much happier could we be?

please allow me this final suggestion...

until you find out who you are in Christ, you will never know who you are as a wife or a mother.

i leave you with this quote from a must-read book by meg meeker, the 10 habits of happy mothers:

"we think of humility as seeing ourselves as lowly or less than others. in fact, humility is just the opposite. it is embracing a realistic look at our frailties as well as our strengths and then believing that we, just as other mothers who have their own frailties and strengths do, share INORDINATE VALUE. we can love others because we can accept and love ourselves in our less-than-perfect states.

Monday, August 13, 2012

unpacking WOF...the story behind it all.

this past weekend i went to the women of faith conference in oklahoma city to hear Angie Smith. i signed up in 2010 (ok, really this past April). i went to see HER. who I met was...JESUS.

i'm still unpacking it all.

i saw myself raise my hands in praise of Him when i thought it would be ok to leave them at my side  all my life said the recovering baptist. God was speaking right to me. He was teaching me. i said NO to the fear. NO to the cycle of grief trying to creep back into my life. NO to self-pity while playing the role of temporary single mom for 14 months. NO to Satan trying his damndest to crush me in these last 10 months since ken has been in afghanistan.

i also saw other women experience the love and grace and forgiveness and the wholeness of who Jesus is and who He has called them to be. i was taught to not live in yesterday, and to not put off until tomorrow what i can do now, today, NOW through Jesus Christ's power.

i'm still unpacking it all.

most of you that read my blog know that Angie's blog was one of the only resources i had in Greece for 6 months after Matthew's death before the Navy finally got us the hell out of dodge. what you don't know is just how close i came to being dead. to joining my son in heaven.

i had meticulously planned out how i would do it. there were HUGE concrete barricades in front of the american entry into the base. i decided i would go full speed ahead and drive my car into those barricades letting either the impact of the crash, or the bullets from the security forces, send me to heaven. just to hold my son again.

i planned it for late march 2009 about 2.5 months after we lost matthew. then one of ken's seabees committed suicide on base the same week i planned on taking my own life. i thought that would be too much for ken to handle so i would wait just a little bit; maybe early April?

a few times we went to talk with our chaplain and when he asked me if i had suicidal thoughts, i lied.

i started attending a bible study in february 2009, a month after we lost matthew, that our chaplain's wife, kristie, hosted. it was a beth moore. i had been a not-always-walking-closely-with-Jesus christian for 21 years and had never done one of her studies. fruits of the spirit.amazing, but i did it half-ass. one night after bible study, kristie, our chaplain's wife, sat me down on her computer to show me Angie's blog and wrote down the blog address for me. i drove home and i read it all in the next 2 days. i wept.

i planned a trip to germany for us to get away from it all the last week of march 2009. the truth is i never intended on taking that trip with Ken. in my plan, i would have already been gone from this earth when our plane was scheduled to leave. but that troubled man who worked for Ken took his own life a few days before we were going to leave.

we went to Germany, and it was some good, and some awful. we had one of the biggest fights we've ever had that losing a child creates, in the parking lot of our hotel. i remember thinking, i should have just done it already, i should not be here in this moment, fighting with him.

i had even prayed for ken's next wife to be sweet and loving and to embrace this amazing Godly man i was married to. something i was never fully able to do up until we lost our son.

when i was at that beth moore bible study the first week of april 2009, when Angie Smith and her family were approaching the first anniversary of the death of their 4th daughter, audrey caroline, i read her words and was in awe of her authenticity. thousands of miles away on what felt like a deserted island, i felt connected to this woman. maybe if she was getting through a year without her daughter, i could get through a year without matthew?

instead of killing myself, i made one of the best decisions i have ever made. i promised God in a very angry but honest voice, i would not do anything to harm myself. BUT i told Him i would never, ever do any more work for Him. no ministry. no serving. no sharing.

nothing. i would just exist.

i had already failed and been kicked out of ministry as a Young Life team leader at the end of college because i was sleeping with my boyfriend and getting drunk instead of telling my high school girls about God's grace and mercy and love...so clearly, i had NO business doing His business.

i have followed Angie's blog, read her first book "i will carry you" and really, finally learned that Jesus STILL LOVES ME through her writing.

HE HAS NEVER STOPPED LOVING ME.

not when my parents divorced. not when i was disgraced from ministry. not when i suffered 8 years with anorexia/bulimia. not when i walked away from Him and lived my selfish, sinful life for 5 years. not when i buried my son. and not now.

he loved this broken girl, ME, and it was Angie's writing that got me to pick up my bible again. through her writing i heard Jesus whisper, don't just read what she says...read what I SAY.

through the bible, i learned He didn't take Matthew...he received him. i learned He didn't take my child to punish me for all my life's mistakes. and i learned to laugh and have joy again after digging through the ashes of burying our child. it wasn't perfect, far from it. but it was a blessing. all of it...the good, the bad and the ugly. and their was a lot of ugly.

this weekend i didn't just get to hear, for the first time, Angie speak the words i had read on her blog. i watched the holy spirit move in her, speaking like i have never seen in a speaker before. and. i. just. wept. loudly. ugly, ugly, ugly face tears.

but Jesus wasn't done there.

i didn't even know the speakers did book signings before i arrived to the WOF conference. Jesus gave me an opportunity to meet her and have her sign her new book i purchased, "mended." then i said something like this to her, shaking, balling, and kind of hyperventilating:



"thank you for being obedient, brave and faithful to hear God's calling on your life to write your precious Audrey's story. i was stuck in Crete, Greece for 6 months after we unexpectedly lost our 5-day old son born at 28 weeks. i made a plan to kill myself and found your blog. you, wait, (raising my hand up to heaven, (thank you Jesus for giving me this opportunity to meet this sweet woman and tell her this,) your daughter, and your words, and your obedience, and your bravery that Jesus gave you, literally saved. my. life."

i wasn't freaking out that i was meeting the person Angie Smith. i was freaking out because i had to go back to those dark, awful days some 3+ years ago and remember and relive that. i had to tell her what Jesus did through her. trust me, if you were given an opportunity to meet someone that Jesus used in your life, so powerfully, like he used this woman, you would have either 1) thrown up on her or 2) passed out crashing into the pretty sign with her beautiful picture. i prayed it wouldn't come to this.


i went on to tell her how God had brought joy to my life again through my 2 daughters and husband who loved the Lord and who I adored. and i told her that Satan has tried his hardest to instill fear into me these last 10 months that ken has been in afghanistan. fear, fear, fear. i asked her to pray and she said she would and i believed her. she said she would pray for my husband serving in afghanistan. she cried. i cried. i told her i emailed her and she said she would read it. then she asked me to give her a hug. my body was physically trembling as i hugged her.

and that folks, was the holy spirit.

while i was talking to her i thought maybe i dug my nails into her arm because i just wanted to make sure she understood what she meant to me, to my journey with Jesus. but a friend's picture below proves i just pointed and shook my finger at her. :) oh good. i did NOT want to leave fingernail marks on this beautiful girl!!



i forgot my cute shoes and cutesy stationery to write her my note. and with all the shaking and finger-pointing, i forgot to give her the 3-page note i wrote that morning on tattered mini-notebook paper shoved into a "Quality Inn" envelope (see it in my left hand?). i wrote it because i didn't think i could get words out when i met her. and i didn't. Jesus did. i gave the note to her bodyguard and he said he would give it to her. it's ok if he didn't, because Jesus said to her what i wanted to.

the gracious love, heartfelt concern, and precious personality that comes through Angie's writing is NOT who she is in person. it's much, much better.

because Jesus in her life is better.

oh and meeting ken davis, christine caine, and the members of selah rocked. i don't know how it happened. christine is a GREEK (really?) australian and 'in your face.'  i immediately loved her and told her that when i met her. i wasn't embarassed at all when i said "calamari" to her and she corrected me "kala mara" (good morning in Greek). yeah, not one of my finest moments.

ken davis had us all laughing (and almost peeing my pants). as he signed the book i was buying, i told him it was for my hubby in afghanistan and he said his daddy was a POW and ken should enjoy that part. and the main speaker (and talented singer) sheila walsh telling us, on that large, public platform, how she was in a psychiatrist's office 5 days before, could not have been any more real. any more authentic. it ministered to me in ways no one else could.

we can be messy. things can be messy. it doesn't mean God isn't working in your life. and newsflash, until we reach heaven, we will be a mess. but His grace is sufficient.

Jesus showed up in my life this weekend more than He ever has in my life. i can't even put it into words. i'll try to over the next several blog posts.

i learned how to use the "tweeter" this weekend with Kim's gracious help. i tweeted this, this morning for myself and all the women who attended WOF:

let us not live in the yesterday of the awesomeness of WOF but go out and
DO what He has called us to do TODAY with His Power.

did i mention emmitt smith was there supporting his beautiful wife Pat who spoke (and ROCKED the house?) i had never heard her story and it SO, SO, SO moved me.

but don't worry honey, as you are sitting over there in afghanistan thinking Jesus made it possible for me to meet emmitt, He did not. God tells us He knows what we can handle and He won't give us any more than that. i would have passed out if i had met mr. smith and/or his wife said the devoted cowboys fan. but i got a picture honey. he's the blur on the front side row, on the end. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

i like small breasts


...chicken breasts that is. before you stop reading because you think i'm going to go on and on about chicken sandwiches, give me another shot. and i promise it's not about to get all x-rated up in here.

i like small, hormone free, caged free chickens. small chicken breasts. grass fed cows. and rGBH hormone-free milk and most certainly, pesticide-free organic fruits and veggies.

i've gone to like 4 stores here in arkansas to *try* and get these groceries. it's not always easy. but the little research i did (because who has time?), sold me.

i love earth's best sticker on morgan's oatmeal cereal box. "no GEI." that's genetically engineered ingredients. genetically what? doesn't that just sound scary?

and the research about these growth hormones in our cows and chickens and the effects on little girls reaching puberty early is appalling. where are the regulations?? no i'm not an expert, i'm just an aware, concerned, taking-action mom. i'm not going to show up on the capital steps in protest (because i'll never again fly by myself with 2 small children), but i can make healthy decisions for my family. and i can tell you about it because i have this little blog.

my husband is completely on board with this now. he recently read Dr. Colbert's book, "The Seven Pillars of Health" and made me cliff notes because he knew I'm having trouble finishing the 8 books I'm currently reading. God Bless Him! the pillars of health (in this order): water, exercise and sleep, LIVING FOOD, exercise, detoxification, nutritional supplements, and coping with stress. this book covers a gamut of solid info, biblically based and medically proven. put it in your amazon cart today!

i'm not a nutrional expert...i'm still learning. my friend laura is on a mission trip right now or i would have this info on hand with a nice little hyperlink to the book that changed the way their family thought about food. we're on the same page. (and i promise to update this post with that info when she gets back.)

my dad has funny opinions. he told me that buying all this organic food would later screw up the girls in some way we're not aware of right now. hmmmm. i chose my words carefully.

the thing is that no, i'm not going to ever achieve 100% organic, hormone-free because they go to preschool, friends' and family's houses, and sometimes (like 5 times) i've even given her a McD's cheeseburger and fries. GASP! just yesterday she got to experience an in-and-out burger for the first time. APPALLING, right? but what i do know is that my dad's generation, maybe even during the early years while i was growing up, one did not have to worry so much about hormone-free and organic.
the American farmer has gotten out of control with creating bigger and better to gain more profits because the squeeze they have from the government. i'm not writing this to create controversy or make a political statement. wonder why so many people are gluten intolerant these days? how about the way wheat seeds are created? remember that statement from morgan's oatmeal cereal box? no 'genetically engineered ingredients.' amen.

i realize not everyone can afford to buy organic. trust me, it's a stretch in our budget and we're currently working it out. we'll make sacrifices. but nutrition and the girls' preschool, below tithing/giving and investing/saving, have become my #3 and #4 priorities. even if you can't afford "organic" look for milk that is rGBH (hormone) free. it's a start.

i recently bought a vegetable from hmmmm...walmart, as an experiement. i left it in my crisper for 9 weeks and it appeared to be ok. seriously? how does it get that kind of shelf life? i can't even think about it.

here's an article talking about what to buy organic and what is not necessarily essential to buy all-natural. it covers the "dirty dozen" fruits/veggies you should, and the "clean 15" that tested low in pesticide residue.

if enough people demand a change, what could we do? no hormones, no crazy engineered ingredients. back to the basics. old school. if you're politically driven, write a letter to your congressman. just start talking about it.

bigger isn't always better. getting more out of our food is not the answer. big breasts, big cows, big eggs. it's not my thing.

is it yours?

check these sites in your free time. and if you have suggestions, PLEASE send them to me. i'll review them and add them to this post.

http://bestnaturalfoods.com/free_range_chicken.html

http://www.thatsfit.com/2010/07/05/when-its-important-to-buy-organic/

http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/main/food_for_thought/0/31


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

from a recovering legalist...on chicken sandwiches

i don't even really know how to start this post except to admit, i'm a recovering legalist. somewhere in between accepting God's forgiveness of my sins and telling others about Christ, i fell into extreme legalism in college. i missed all the parts of my bible that explained grace. i just didn't get it. drinking is from the devil. skip a quiet time, God doesn't love me. gain too much weight, i'm not taking care of my body and God will use a skinnier, prettier messenger. it. was. BAD. extreme legalism to the nth degree. and you know where it landed me? a fall into sin at the end of college that had a grip on me for several years and a life that certainly didn't reflect anything remotely close to "christian."

i tell you this because it's why i won't be at the 'fil-a today. i support them as a company, respect that they forego profits on Sundays, and i love their grilled chicken delux (hold the bacon, please), and their peach shakes, pahhhh-leeazzzeee! for the love of goodness.

the CEO, founders and employees didn't plan today's rally. i don't even think they want it (i asked the sweet man who took my order last Thurs about it and he said, "i didn't know about it. i'm just here to serve people." he was standing outside in the 105 degree heat taking orders before you drove up to the drive-thru speaker, so that things ran more efficiently and there wasn't a traffic jam on rogers avenue to get a chicken sandwich. god bless 'him.

as for me, i won't be there today...and i don't think Dan Cathy will miss my patronage when he posts this quarter's profits. but if i get my butt to swimming on fri, i'll probably reward myself with a peach hand-spun shake!

i probably wouldn't even be writing this post if the strangest thing didn't happen to me yesterday.

i decided to go ahead and dine-in at panera bread today even though i should have taken my salad/soup treat to-go. my compromise: instead of 15 mins of eating in solitude, go rescue my laptop from the 115-degree car and actually do an august budget worksheet for the love of dave ramsey. that would shock my hubby and make him do a happy dance.

this man was speaking to a woman behind me about how tough it was to find a job. i dismissed the conversation and told myself to quit being nosey and figure out if i could budget 1 or 2 pedicures in this month (after all, my toes look terrible right NOW, and i'm heading to the beach in 31 days.) 10 minutes into my creamy tomatoe soup and fuji apple chicken salad, the man approaches me and says i look very organized. i smiled (extra BIG) and said thanks, "it's bugeting time, which i don't particularly like," hoping that would be friendly enough to be polite and end the conversation as i needed to get on with my day.

"you heading to chick-fil-a tomorrow to support them?"

"(surprised by his question) hmmm...actually, probably not." should i leave it there? uh...uh...uh...'i'll be in the basement. i told myself  'shut up, you don't have time to talk about this.' (side note - please link to Jen Hatmaker's blog and read it ASAP!!)

"well, see, i'm not going tomorrow, but if i can squeeze in a workout on friday morning i might treat myself to a peach shake!"

"why wouldn't you go tomorrow?"

"well, ummm....(gosh i'm SO NOT good at this debate/confrontation thing!), i just want to be in the basement. i don't want to stand with a bunch of people, christians, and cast stones at my friends."

"you support gays?"

"i love them. Jesus does. so i do. prostitutes and thieves alike. sinners. because i'm one too."

he proceeded to tell me that he had done a lot of bad things in his life but now he was in church and well, gays and their liberal agendas were shoving their beliefs down his throat and he was just sick of it. he was worried about our country's moral fabric.

"they march in their military uniforms in gay pride parades for God's sake."

"does that bother you? i'm a military wife. it doesn't bother me."

"well i'm an iraq verteran and yes it bothers me. the liberal left agenda is trying to tell ME what to think."

"look, i don't know a lot about 'hot topics' and politics because most of the time i'm trying to tread above water from stinky diapers, tantrums and the like from my daughters. but what i do know is that that gay soldier, my gay friends, and the gay person in this restaurant, all need to know Jesus loves them. when we as christians stand against them, they don't get the message of love. i just can't help myself to love them."

he started backing away from me mumbling about taking back our country. i interrupted him (which i hate to do, because i HATE when people do it to me), and asked him if he had sought the career placement services at the nearby military base about finding a job because i couldn't help to hear he was looking for a job. he told me he was from Florida, not a military retiree, and practically backed out the door.

just when i thought i could finish my now cold creamy tomato soup that i had pounded (walked) the treadmill for an incline (of only 3.0) for, i was in for it.

another, seriously? i don't debate religion. politics. war. and most things. i fumble words. if you want to challenge me on an issue, give me a pen and paper for my response. not my stinkin' mouth that trips over words and throws out an 'ass' inappropriately when i don't know what else to say.
this man in his late 60s/70s dining with his precious wife 2 tables from me said,

"so did he win you over? will you be at chick-fil-a tomorrow?"

"hmmm, well, i don't think so. we won't be on this side of town and i'm not sure you heard me explain to him but i don't feel it's necessary to join a group of people together and i say, i'm protesting what you were protesting last week because i support this great Christian company and founder.
too much finger pointing. actions without love.

he answered my fumbled statements with a lot of "hmmmm's" and "that's interesting's".

he talked about moral values and losing ground in this country if we're not careful.

i had less to say and smiled more.

he went on enjoying his panini and i wanted to crawl in a hole. i felt the redness tingling up my neck. but there was a feeling i couldn't leave unless i gave him Jen Hatmaker's website / blog post address on this very subject because she was so much more eloquent than me. before i slipped out, i dropped off the paper with her info /blog on it and they said thanks.

2 people randomly confront me on why i'd rather be in the basement tomorrow than pulling through chick-fil-a. seriously?

as i drove around completing my errands, i just began to pray that if there were any strongholds of legalism for these souls, God would free them from it. i don't know if they struggled with this issue in other instances but it seemed (insert my opinion) that the water they were treading in was very, very familiar. i'm not even sure i had a non-Christian friend my first 2 years of college and i was a leader for a ministry that focused on high school people who didn't know Jesus. wow, good gracious!

since i need to wrap this up, a just have one more thing to say. i don't have any problem with you going to chick-fil-a today or not. but do me a favor. when you place your order, double it, and then drive to the scariest street in your city and find someone with a sign begging for money who you have judged to "use it for drugs or alcohol" and give them your extra chicken sandwich. chances are, they are hungry.

enough with the judgement. find a place of love.

remember the Chick-fil-a worker's attitude and heart i encountered? "i'm just here to serve people."

this 20-something sure could teach us a thing or two. and he was probably just 19.

1 John 4:7 Let us love one another for love comes from God.