Return of “The Thing”…Nothing Can Stop Its Menace!

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If you’re like the average person, you’ve probably heard the Disney song from Frozen, “Let it Go,” about three million times. You might begin to hate the song, but you’ve got to love its philosophy. It is seriously bursting with some profound wisdom. I think it’s biblical.the-thing
The very words “let it go” hold the power of life and death in relationships. They should be a mantra in all marriages.

Three little words. So easy to say, but so hard to do. That stuff we can’t or won’t “let go” can eat through our hearts like battery acid. We’ve all had “let it go’s” that we chose to hang on to. Maybe you’re still holding on to one or two. . . It’s all bad stuff, but some of it’s REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad stuff. Unfortunately, it’s stuff we have to put away in order to maintain emotionally healthy relationships.

I know; it stinks.

Recently, I was smacked in the face with one of my old “let it go’s.” (I have let it go, but for years I held on to that thing like a vise grip.) I stumbled upon my high school boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend on Facebook. One of my “friends” is “friends” with her. That was high school. So what, right?

We’re all mature adults now. Well, yeah, NOW we’re mature adults but 30 years ago we weren’t. An incident that I’ll refer to hereafter as “THE THING” stirred up bad blood between this girl and me and (as you probably guessed) the BOY was at the center of it.

Again, what’s the big deal? Well, I married the boy AND decided to keep “THE THING.”

But, long before my husband asked me to marry him, he had stuffed “THE THING” into an airtight container (sealed with Gorilla Glue) and shoved it on a shelf way in the very back corner of his mind.

Me, on the other hand, not so much. Even though a lot of time had passed (from wall phones to cell phones) and I did agree to marry him, I swore an oath to hang on to “THE THING.” I fed it, watered it, and nurtured it like it was a fledgling infant. Sure enough, as all things that are well cared for and nurtured do, it grew.

When we got married, I thrust “THE THING,” that I had so carefully coddled all those years, into a prominent place in our lives. If our marriage had been a house, “THE THING” would have sat on the mantle above the fireplace in the family room.

I had brought “THE THING” into my marriage, which was bad enough, but the problems got bigger the longer we were married because I kept accumulating more “THINGS” My husband and I were not the imperfect Christians that we are today when we got married, so we didn’t stand a snowball’s chance…(You get the picture.)

I used “THE THING” against my husband like a medieval torture device.

We disagreed; I’d pull out “THE THING.” He didn’t call me as soon as he landed when he away on a business trip, I’d concoct “THE THING.” I wielded that “THING” like a Sith light saber. Even when I wasn’t talking about “THE THING,” it was there. Growing. Before long, I no longer had a hold on it; it had a hold on me. I had nursed and cared for it for so long that “THE THING” morphed like a dung beetle and took on a life of its own.

It was true: It crept, it crawled, it struck without warning! Nothing could match its menace.

And, it began to talk to me.

How could you possibly forgive him after what he’s done? Not only has he cursed you with ‘THE THING,’ he leaves his underwear on the floor right beside the hamper. Does he know what the inside of a dishwasher looks like? And, he snores! Unforgivable! ” it hissed.

“THE THING” was the gatekeeper to my mind. No matter what my husband did or didn’t do, it was filtered through the eyes of “THE THING.”

Once I’d re-framed “THE THING” and began looking at it through more mature eyes, I could clearly see all the damage it had caused. I knew I had to get rid of it. But, it wasn’t going to let me go that easily. It hung on.

In all my efforts to use “THE THING” to torture my husband, I was only hurting myself and marriage in the process.

Through time and a lot of effort, I was finally able to emancipate myself.womanletting go-378x414

In truth, when I decided to move forward and start my “happily ever after” with my husband, I relinquished any propriety to clench, cradle, or carry “THE THING.”

Letting go of past hurts or forgiveness is crucial to growing relationships.

Wait one cotton-picking minute, you might be saying. I have had “THE THING” for so long, I can’t just let it go. It’s part of who I am. It DEFINES me.

If I can do it, I’ll bet you can, too. No matter the size of your “THING,” you can let it go. If you can’t let it go on your own, get some help. No shame in that.

In Christ, we can do all things. He was crucial to my ability to let “THE THING” go. Still wasn’t easy. Some people come to Christ and drag “their THING” right along with them. We turn our lives over to Christ, but we cling to “THE THING” as if our lives depend upon it. Christ can raise the dead, heal the sick, feed the hungry, but He is incapable of handling our “THING?” Hmmm…

Once I let go of “THE THING,” I could get about the business of building my relationship and caring for others. Let me warn you: Letting go is not a one-time deal. I could get new ”THINGS” everyday, if I choose to do so. But Christ helps me let them go everyday.

Let it go should become part of marriage vows. To have and to hold; to forgive and to let go. So the next time you hear the song “Let It Go,” open your heart and “slam the door.”

Can I Have a Do Over?

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I’ve had lots of “mom moments” that I’m not proud of, which is why I squirmed a bit in my seat last Sunday when my pastor said that his topic was parent child relationships.

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Oh, brother. I’m sunk.

As a home schooling mom, my opportunities to screw up my kids increase exponentially because I am with them all day!

After he said “parent child relationships” all I heard for about the next 15 minutes was “ humma, humma, humma” (i.e. blah, blah, blah).

I started thinking about my not so glorious moments as a mom.

There have been quite a few, but the first thing that popped into my head was the time I inadvertently left my 18 month out on the driveway, closed the garage door, went in the house and had lunch.

I wasn’t drinking. We’d been grocery shopping, and I’d thought one of the older kids had taken him into the house.

About the time the other kids and I frantically began looking for him, my neighbor rang my doorbell holding my tearful child whom she had found on the driveway banging on the closed garage door. (She was never really friendly with me after that.)

That was an unpleasant memory but, ugh, then I thought about the time my kid tripped down a flight of steps and broke his arm.

But, I didn’t realize he was really hurt until three hours later. Kids fall all the time, right?

There was no visible swelling.

I did the “mom test.”

Can you move it?

Yep.

Can you wiggle your fingers?

Yep.

Suck it up. You’re okay.

Three hours later, his elbow had swollen to the size of a softball, and he was in excruciating pain.

Umm…bad call.

Then I cycled through the fact that I rarely cook when my husband is traveling…umm…which is a lot. We eat—sandwiches, soup, cereal; I just don’t cook.

Believe me, that was just the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on and on.

I tried to listen to my pastor, but I had this nagging feeling that I needed to ask my kids how I could be a better mom to them.

Not a question I was dying to ask, but it was necessary.

Leaving church I pondered an opportune time to pop the question to my teen-aged son.

I was debating between the next time we order pizza or when I surprise him with a new game for his Xbox or when we finally get to take that trip to the African safari.

I had finally settled on the new game scenario (African safari was tempting) when he turned to me and asked…

“So, Mom, what do you think you should do differently as a mom?’ (He really was paying attention in church.)

Dang. My plan was foiled. Looked like I was going to have to pay the piper.

“Well, Son,” I said, “the question is what do you think I should do differently as a mom?”

The broken arm incident flashed through my mind. But, I didn’t flinch.

I can smile at some of these mommy mess-ups now, but at the time, they were not funny. Some of them still are not funny today.

I can also smile, even laugh, at my imperfections. I fall short as a mom–a lot.

I love my kids and usually take really good care of them, but I am fallible. We all are.

Making mistakes as a mom is never fun, because if I want to be a godly parent, I have to take action, which usually means apologizing and asking for forgiveness.

It’s not fun.

But, after a few hundred times, it does get easier.

Apologizing and asking forgiveness is not my bright idea. God commands it.

Do I get it right every time?

Nope. No one does.

But, as parents, too many times we shy away from humbling ourselves before our kids. It’s awkward. It’s embarrassing. We think it makes us look weak.

Actually, humility shows strength of character.

After love and discipline, I believe humility before our children is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

When a child sees we are truly brokenhearted over hurting him and think enough of him to apologize and ask forgiveness, I believe he feels loved and important.

Considering others before ourselves goes a long way toward building relationships, healing hurts, and modeling Christ-like behavior.

I also try to teach my children to accept an apology graciously.

Even if kids are now adults, it’s not too late to apologize and ask for forgiveness if there is a history of unhealed hurts.

An apology can begin healing a broken heart and start mending a broken relationship.

I am not an expert. No one is. I will make many, many more mistakes as a parent. Part of being a good mom means you make mistakes.

If you aren’t making mistakes, you’re aren’t trying. In addition to all my blunders, I have done a few things right.

As uncomfortable as it was, I knew I needed to ask my son that question because as I said, I ‘m not perfect and I can improve.

I waited for my son to answer…

“Well,” he said, “As moms go, I’d have to honestly say that you’re a pretty good one.” He bent down and gave me a hug. But, as he walked off he added, “You could work on that cooking thing.”

No one’s perfect.

The Excellent Wife

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Life as a wife ain’t easy. But, I bet that’s not news to you.

Being a plain old wife is hard enough, but have you ever tried to be an excellent wife?
Did anyone ever tell you there’s a manual on how to do just that? Be an excellent wife.

Martha Peace wrote it, and if you are serious about making a change, read this book.

It’s called The Excellent Wife.

When someone recommended the book to me years ago, I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or to take offense. I think I did a bit of both.

I had been a wife for long time. Compared to a lot of people, I thought I was a pretty good one.

I cooked, cleaned, took care of kids, stayed home. Heck, I thought, I probably could have written the book.

But, I decided to read it just as confirmation that was I doing it the right way.

I felt pretty confident picking up the book. Maybe even a little cocky.

The book begins with Martha defining the role of a godly wife.

I’ve got this.

“The role of a godly wife is to glorify and submit to her husband.”

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Uh oh…

The dreaded “s” word. Even if I was not the greatest at the “s” word, I was still a pretty good wife.

I kept reading.

In the beginning of the book, Martha explains the challenges she faced early in her marriage.

I could relate.
I, like Martha, had been a feminist. Angry woman

I, too, had thought the world revolved around me.

I, too, had thought that I had married a man whose sole job was to make me happy, and it was my job to let him know when he didn’t.

I lived for me.
I laughed, literally, at the suckers who took on most of the responsibility of caring for the home when they worked just as hard as their husbands did.

Okay. So things didn’t roll so smoothly in my marriage, but hey, no one’s perfect. Right?

Frequent discord, poor conflict resolution, blame, animosity, growing resentment, poor communication, commitment, he’s-the-problem syndrome, and frustration were a few of our issues.

But, by the time my friend recommended the book, I was an experienced wife.

Far beyond the petty challenges that plague many marriages.

I was closer to, well, excellent. So, I thought.

Excellent” was rolling my eyes and grumbling under my breath when we disagreed.

Excellent” was complaining to my sisters.

Excellent” was reminding him of how hard I worked when he asked something of me.

“Excellent” was putting my needs above his.

“Excellent” was doing things my way.

After reading a few pages, I realized that I was not as excellent as I had thought.
Right off the bat, Martha suggests that you pray and confess that you have not been the wife God wants you to be and ask for His help in becoming the wife He wants you to be.

Confessing?

No problem. I was not the wife God wanted me to be because my husband was NOT the husband God wanted him to be.

So, we were even.

I was irritated. I really don’t know why, but I kept reading.

God has a way of convicting us when we hear His truth.

I skimmed over the part that explained how that God wants me to “communicate in love” to my husband, my “words are to be edifying; and my tasks sacrificial,” and all that jazz.

Next.

We are to help each other to become more like Jesus.

Now we’re talking.

I certainly could give my husband a few pointers on becoming more like Jesus.

The straw that broke my back was her list of “Eighteen Ways a Wife May Be the Glory of Her Husband.”

Good thing she saved this until Chapter 7.

I choked through the first 17 but came to a grinding halt at Number 18.

And I quote: Just as God is glorified when man obeys Him; your husband is glorified when you obey your husband. (That’s a direct quote.)

O-what your who?

I dropped the book and called my friend.

“What are you trying to say?”

I could hear her smiling. I glared at her through the phone.

“Just keep reading.”

Listen, I explained, I come from a long line of women who don’t take kindly to the “O” word. It is not in our vernacular. Not common parlance in my familial ancestry.

What would they think of me if I behaved like an “excellent wife?”

I had five children. I stayed home. I provided meals. I cleaned the house.

That was excellent enough. He was lucky to have me.

But as I read the book and began to understand the role of a godly wife, I did what any godly woman would do.

I cried.

I cried because I knew I could never be the kind of wife God expected me to be.

I cried because now that I knew the truth, I would be making a conscious decision to disobey God if I were to continue wife-ing as I had been.

Next time I saw my friend, I told her flat out that I could never be the kind of wife God wanted me to be.  Ever.

She smiled (I hate it when she does that because I know she’s about to say something that I should have thought of.)

“Of course you can’t do it on your own, but you can with God’s help.”

Trying to be an excellent wife is not easy.

It goes against everything society teaches us as women today.

But, as unpopular as the idea may be, Martha Peace is right. The book is biblically sound. Every letter of it.

She’s not advocating being a doormat. She’s not saying that you should treat your husband like a god.

She’s saying that loving and knowing God gives us a desire and the strength to become more like Him. In doing so, we become more excellent as wives.

Reading The Excellent Wife was painful. It really hurt (mostly my pride). But, the book did change my life and my marriage.

Am I perfect?

Absolutely not.

Not even close.

I fail daily.

But God has placed a desire in me to want to be the kind of wife He wants me to be. Not excellent compared to others, but excellent by His standard.

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Before I read the book and really understood what God expected of me, it was easy to be the kind of wife I wanted to be or to be the kind of wife I thought my husband deserved based on his behavior.

But, it’s my job to build him up not tear him down, to love him, to edify him, to encourage him, to respect him, to please him.

To glorify him.

My husband certainly is and always has been the kind of man who deserves an excellent wife. Even if he were not, it is still my responsibility as a Christian woman to be a godly wife.

Become a member of the E Wives Club. It’s hard, but I am determined to give it a shot and rely on God to do the rest.

You’ll be surprised at what God can do.

Why I Blog

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swansDid you vow to step outside of your comfort zone this year? I did. Well, I wouldn’t call it stepping outside of my comfort zone. It’s more like a tip toe.

This year, I decided to become a blogger. Sounds scary.

Does anyone ever say, “When I grow up, I want to be a blogger”? But, when you start feeling like, “am I the only one who feels/thinks this way?” you have to find out. So, you start to blog. Seven years ago, I’d never even heard of a blog. It’s no wonder. Blog is not a pretty word. My 30-something niece planted the idea in my head.

You want me to write about what? And put it where?

“Yeah,” she explained. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you about blogs? You know. You set up a page and write about your life and what you think about stuff and people go on and read it. Blo-o-o-o-g.”

Recapping every day of my life with five little kids? Now, that sounded fun.

“Blo-o-o-o-g?” I repeated slowly, using a mirroring technique I’d learned at a marriage retreat. She saw right through me.

“I’m serious,” she said. “People do it all the time.”

Why do they do it? My life isn’t exactly a soap opera. “ (Dating myself.)

“It doesn’t have to be. . . Do those still come on?” she said. “You’re a mom with five kids, you have a traveling husband, you home school, and you move all over the country,” she said. “Do you know anyone like you?”

Insane?

That was my evolution into blogging.

Here I am. . . uh. . . seven years later.

My kids have gotten older, but mothering and marriage haven’t changed . . . much.

Maybe life is not as physically exhausting as it used to be because my kids are older, but it’s still demanding. But, motherhood is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.

Things can be tough.

They might have been more manageable if I had known what to expect.

Probably wouldn’t have changed my mind, but at least I might have been better prepared.

Maybe not.

But, I am the kind of person who wants to know what’s going to happen. Even if I can’t control it.

No one ever told me that when I had children, I wouldn’t eat a hot meal for 10 years.

No one ever told me that sometimes I would feel like a single mom because of my husband’s demanding work schedule.

No one ever told me that I would look forward to a trip to the dentist because it was one way to lie down and take a nap.

No one ever told me that I would pick up brown sticky stuff off the carpet and sniff it.

No one ever told me that the bathroom would become my most favorite place in the house because it is the one place I could lock the door. No one ever told me that when I went into the bathroom, someone would always knock the second I sat down.

No on ever told me that I would sleep on the floor beside a crib all night just to make sure I heard breathing.

No one ever told me that I could love another person so much.

No one ever told me that motherhood could be so overwhelming and that marriage could be so challenging, but that you can be a wife, mother, and  a person. All at the same time!

No one ever told me that I’d feel defeated so often or that I’d have such moments of joy.

Even if someone had told me, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I’ll tell you this: If you haven’t pulled out your hair and they haven’t locked you up by the time your kids are 21, you’re probably doing okay.

How I Became a Supermom

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Once upon a time in the endless depths of the universe, there once existe166745Supermom2d a woman known as Sheila, who burned like a shining star in the distant heavens.

In her universe, humans seemed advanced. People spoke in full sentences, ate their meals with forks and knives and knew the proper use of a napkin.

These people seemed amazingly developed, even sophisticated. Their mental and physical powers had developed to a state where they could dress themselves, solve their own disputes, and most could read and write.

To Sheila, these people seemed to be a breed of “superpeople.”

But, there came a day when Sheila became impregnated, and the presence of a child threatened to destroy her world forever.

Sensing the approach of doom, Sheila prayed (a lot).

After days of agonizing prayer, Sheila emerged and vowed to embrace her new role and place all her energies into the endeavors of motherhood—ominous as they may be.

But, she took a solemn vow to cook and to clean and to sniff diapers and armpits.

As the years went by and the family grew, Sheila increasingly found herself in possession of amazing physical and mental powers.

To be in the best position to use her amazing powers in the never-ending search for the truth, a compromise, and who touched whom first, she assumed the disguise of a simple “Mom.”

She appears to be but a mere mortal, but in reality, she is faster than a runaway toddler. She can halt the tears of a crying child, heal boo-boo’s with a single kiss, detect rotten food in the refrigerator with a single whiff, throw food into the trashcan with amazing accuracy, silence a car by threatening to pull over, and correct behavior with single a glance.

Her x-ray vision gives her the power to find missing objects in a messy house, locate an item that is in plain sight, and know when a child has not washed his hands before he comes out of the bathroom.

Her powers amaze those in her care. They are ceaseless.

She soon realized that she now belonged to a race of super people. The woman from that alternate universe had somehow transformed into a . . . Mom of Steel: Supermom!

She and millions of other women like her–former professionals turned mom–roam the earth seeking rest, quick and easy meals for dinner, and a moment in the bathroom to themselves.

When people learn that I have five children and I home school and I have a husband who travels for work a lot, many times the first thing they say is “You must be a Supermom!”

I’m flattered and would love to take credit.

But, God endowed all moms with “superpowers.”

A mom with one child is just as “super” as a mom with five children.

That’s one of the things they never tell you.

All moms feel overwhelmed at times. All moms occasionally feel like they are causing irrevocable damage to their kids, but if you watch over the affairs of your family, love your husband and children, and bring them good and not harm, you are a Supermom.

Becoming a mom awakens senses in you that you never knew you had. The moment I gave birth, I was changed.

I began to understand unconditional love. I began to understand God’s sacrifice for me. Would you send your child, as God did, to die for others? Can you imagine loving someone so much that you would sacrifice your child for them?

What an amazing and incredible gift–Jesus Christ. Our life in Him gives us “superpowers” to accomplish the job He has laid before us. Children can give us nothing back. Yet, we love them fiercely.

Jesus’ love for me compels me to show others His love through my life and to pass it on,starting with my husband and family.

Our lives may look different. Our responsibilities may vary. But in the end, taking care of children stretches you beyond your limits. It takes “superpowers.”

Even though moms are overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated, it’s still the best job in the world.

And, God promises to equip us with what we need to get the job done and to remain by our side to see it through to the end.