My Shoes

Nobody says, “I wonder what it would be like to walk in their shoes?” about abused children.

No one daydreams about being yelled at, called names– or worse.

No one envies the child with the broken spirit, no one celebrates their choice to fight to survive.

One of the strongest memories of my dad was the time I walked into our living room and he just started yelling at me about how much he hated me, how I was just in the way– how he wished I were dead and had never been born.

I reacted to that, at first, by contemplating ways to take myself out of the way. Then– I called my best friend.

She helped me realize the best way to help myself would be to remove myself from the situation. So– I planned a vacation, where I could strengthen my will to continue to live.

I was in high school at the time. I planned for a two week vacation from my life. I took time off from my job, I arranged for a place to stay, and I told no one except the person I stayed with where I would be.

That saved my life.

It was inconvenient for others, I know. Some worried– and they should have. They should have been worried more about my state of mind before I took my time-out, than the fact that I left.

I only used a week of that planned two weeks.

I was introduced to a life I had never known before that, but it was just enough to realize– that also was not the kind of life I wanted to live.

I woke up to some harsh realities, and I walked away from some permanent options that would have become permanent mistakes– had I chosen to take them.

I had always had a secret life of envying others who had dads that were loving, kind, and healthy. Dads who’s hugs were not dangerous, where insults were not the “norm”– ones that cherished their daughters.

My dad, he had a rough childhood. He probably had a secret envy life, as well.

I forgave my dad for his failings, years ago.

I made sure my own children had what I envied of others (God made sure too) because I knew what I had missed. I don’t blame my mom for my dad’s issues. It’s never been her fault.

I love my friends who have had wonderful, nurturing and healthy relationships with their fathers. But, it’s like bumping an unseen bruise to know that that’s something I will never get to know firsthand.

I’m old enough that I’ve forgotten many things I’ve experienced. That ache at what I was robbed of is always there, though, silently throbbing under the surface.

I’m so very happy for others, but my heart silently envies and daydreams about what their lives must have been like.

I’ve attempted to try on their shoes, but my callouses and bruises keep them from fitting comfortably, I’ve never been able to walk in them.

I’ve heard more often than I can count, that God is my Father. True– He is. He is a good father.

As awesome as God is, I still have a lack in my heart for a loving, mentally healthy, earthly dad. That’s my reality. Acceptance from God has been more healing than anything anyone could offer. This is why more mentally healthy, accountable-to-others, Christian men need to step up inside the church. There are people of all ages missing healthy relationships. We are so quick to just expect God to mysteriously fill every void and heal every affliction, when God gave us to one another.

Jesus made sure his own mother had someone to step in to fill the void He was leaving. What an amazing example of compassion and understanding! We lack nurturing, healthy relationships inside our church families. Our own members are hurting from devastating wounds and circumstances, and we busy ourselves with programs, not recognizing the deep needs right in front of us.

God help us to be what our own family-in-Christ needs us to be– what You call us to be.

God has given us shoes to wear. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Shouldn’t we wear them at all times, starting inside the Church? And if we don’t wear them there, if we take Abaraham’s burning bush approach and take them off on Holy Ground– Jesus made it abundantly clear the need to wash one another’s feet.

In other words– we need to look after one-another, with the same intimacy as close, healthy, loving family.

We need to get this right so we can effectively affect and reach the world around us with God’s gift of Hope, Love, and relationship with Him through Jesus.

United We Stand

glass broken  heartGod has sure been stirring up a lot of things in my heart and thoughts lately.

One of the recurring issues I deal with is that I am still missing out on a father figure for my life. I understand that Scripture teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father, and He has never disappointed me.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am 40-something, and I still wish I could just have a normal conversation with my daddy. I have never had that. I have missed that, and struggled not to envy what others have been given.

There are so many people, of all ages, who have not had real, or healthy  relationships with their parents.  Where are the Godly men who will step up, and allow God to use them to replace what has been stolen from so many?

“When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing heart-photo-by-Carien-of-sxc.hu_nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (John 19:26-27 NASV)

He understood that those relationships are of utmost importance.

We are missing so much with our individualistic approach to Christianity. We are missing out on so much.

What My Mom Helped Me Learn

My mom has helped me learn some things that I now have the opportunity to purposefully make sure my daughter gets from me.

Deborah turning 4 Incidentally, when my mom came o1) Always have her back. Even if I don’t agree with her or she doesn’t handle things the way I would, never make her feel as though she has to deal with things alone.

2) No amount of money or possessions can replace a sense of being cherished or belonging.

3)  I need to be approachable.

4) Listen, even when it drives me crazy to hear about her friends I’ve never met. It’s important to her to be able to share it with me. Also, that keeps me informed and interested. I know who is dating who, who just moved into the neighborhood, who I should be aware of,  and what their ages are.

5) I need to be involved without being controlling.

6) Make time just for her, just because I want to spend time with her. I enjoy her company.

7) Help her find a sense of purpose by telling her what her strengths are, and what I admire about her.

8) Praise her and compliment her; critique things she does without harsh or mean criticism of her.

9) Teach her skills that will help her fit into society in a healthy way.

10) Help her value herself so she will make decisions that will be healthy and beneficial.

11) Don’t say negative things about her behind her back. When I share information out of frustration or as a prayer request, she knows about it and what I have said.

12) Don’t side with someone who calls her a liar. She isn’t always completely truthful with me, but I have never, ever known her to lie to someone, outright. And, even if I thought she did lie, we would deal with that in private and she would apologize to the person face-to-face. I will not take sides against my daughter.

13) Teach her the “why” behind each piece of instruction, guidance or advice.

14) Make sure she knows I separate her from her actions, decisions and mistakes. She is not what she does.

15) Let her wear my shoes and clothes sometimes. There is just something uniquely bonding about this with my daughter.

16) Don’t attack her for, or say harsh, mean things about, what I view as faults. My view is only one perspective, but she gets her cues at self-confidence from me.

17) Make sure she knows beyond any shadow of doubt, every single day, that I love her, cherish her, and my life is better because she’s in it.

18) I am careful to not expose her to things she’s not old enough to be able to process with an informative maturity. Raising children is like growing plants in some ways: I wouldn’t throw a rose-bush out into a blizzard just because I was tired of it being in the house and it’s too expensive to buy it food and soil. The same with my daughter: there will be no cut-off time for her, we won’t force her out of the house by a certain age. My hope is that we will help her become confident and prepared when the time comes for her to begin a new phase of life apart from us. I’m in no rush for that day, but I also won’t hold her back from embracing it.

19) Give her a healthy view of marriage. I think this is one of the best gifts my husband and I can give to our children, especially our daughter. As she sees how her dad treats me, and how I treat him, she will be able to discern the right relationship for herself. It’s so important for her to understand God’s perspective in marriage, because the world’s perspective brings no peace, no comfort, no health, and no longevity.

20) Make sure she has a firm foundation in Christ, while I encourage her in her own relationship with God, but don’t criticize when she doesn’t do things the same as me, or she isn’t passionate about the same things with God and church that I am. She is uniquely formed by God, and I trust Him to lead her in the direction that He has planned for her.

I hope I can pass on things that she will pass on to her own daughter someday, and so on, and so on…

My desire above everything is to bless my daughter. When a mother curses her daughter with negatives and harsh criticism, it affects every relationship and interaction she has, negatively. My hope is in blessing her it will do the exact opposite. I can already see some positive fruit from things people say to me about her, and how she is treated by her peers.

How Have You Grown?

I was inspired to write this by this blog:
http://thingstoadore.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/and-before-you-know-it/

There is nothing like becoming a mom and being responsible for the lives of our little ones who are so vulnerable and completely dependent on us, to make us both grow, and grow up.

I became a mom at 29. I had almost 3 decades to learn how to be selfish and think about “mememe”. My transition to momhood was ugly. My life before marrying a Godly man was all about my survival, my being independent and responsible, my working hard. I can count on one hand the number of people who sincerely had my back or even cared whether I survived. Transferring that mindset into taking care of a baby, especially after not being around babies much at all, I was a huge mess. I didn’t have family nearby to help me, and I didn’t have the benefit or experience from a healthy relationship with my own parents. I did have my Grandma to confide in, and I had an amazing husband that God provided for me, who supported me, believed in me, and continually shows me kindness I often feel undeserving of.

The first 2 weeks of my first baby’s life were the hardest and scariest of my entire life, and believe me, that is saying a lot. She lost a full pound after being born a month early, and I was trying to learn how to breastfeed her. Thankfully I had encouragement from people at church to not give up breastfeeding. I am so very glad I pushed through. She finally started gaining weight at 2 weeks, and we had some rough times, like clumsily trying to feed her in public and getting a yeast infection in my milk ducts. She is 13 now, and she’s one of the best accomplishments of my life, and a reminder of how much God changed my life when she was born. When she was born, the “mom” me was born. As a mom, she and I are both 13, and trust me, we both have some seriously real “adolescent” days.

Over the past almost 15 years of marriage, God has used His Word to instruct me to not be anxious for anything, to cast all of my cares on Him, and that no matter what, I can lean on Him and He will make all of my pathways clear. He has never failed, He has never given up on me, and I know there is nothing I can’t trust Him with. I have grown as a Believer.

I have grown as a wife. When we first married, I had all sorts of expectations of what I believed a Christian marriage would/should be. I was previously married to a nonbeliever. It was a disaster, and I know it was because of God’s protection over me, in my ignorance and desperation to just have someone who would love me, that I’m alive today. He delivered me from that marriage that I clung to when my ex decided one day he wanted a divorce, but I wouldn’t grant him one. Until I read Scripture, and I heard God in my spirit tell me it was ok to let him go. So, I joined my new husband 6 years later, with God’s permission to remarry, with hopes, plans and expectations. All of those either died out or were changed by God. I learned to relax when things feel out of control, spinning ahead of what I feel ready for, because God knows everything, and I can just lean back on Him, rest, and trust. Being married to a Christian has both defied and soared beyond my expectations.  We don’t pray together about everything, we don’t sing and play praise and worship songs together all the time, we don’t always have it all together with perfect smiles on our faces and lots of Christian friends who adore us, we don’t have popular Bible studies and prayer meetings in our home every week, and we have never gone on mission trips as a family like my heart still longs to do. Yeah, my picture guess was way off from our reality, lol. I’m not “Suzy Homemaker”. I’m a military spouse who has almost no control over any area of decisions or plans, the military takes care of all of that for both of us. I have learned to be content during some pretty intense times, but I’m still learning, and I fail at “content” pretty much every day in one way or another.

I have grown as a daughter. I have a new lens on my “hindsight” indicator. I no longer look through it as a daughter, but I look through it as one who has a daughter. There are things my mom did that I have made sure not to do. There are things I cringe every time I do or say. There are things I am careful to do, and I’m sure there are things I wish I had done, though I can’t think of any off-hand. I learned a lot from my Grandma that I didn’t learn from my own mom. There have also been times when anger or tears pop in because of things I missed out on or was robbed of in my own relationship with my parents. I have had much forgiving to do, needed much grace to apply, and tempered with love much disappointment and frustration. God has helped me to be a better mom to my children than I ever could have been without His compassion and help.

It’s amazing to me when I look back over all of the events of the past decade and a half, just how much “growing” God has accomplished in me while I was distracted by my life’s moments. I still have a lot of growing to do, but wow: God sure has been busy in me!

In what ways have you grown?