Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Fear of Parenting

Last Tuesday was a rough day...  

We all woke up late (alarm on silent) and I awoke just feeling generally crotchety. My kids woke up in fine form as well...  instant bickering and just pushing their limits. Ugh.

Welcome "The Bickersons".

For some reason or another, the season of facing my past has come, and I am having to uncover and deal with a lot of my past emotional baggage lately.

Quite frankly, IT STUNK.

I am remembering and thinking through things that happened EONS ago.  It's been a struggle as I air my own dirty laundry to myself and lay it before God. Honesty, true and brutal, it's ugly... I'm unwinding the threads of my past, breaking down the walls of resistance, taking responsibility for my life and forgiving wounds I bear that haven't been forgotten yet.


Back to Tumultuous Tuesday

I reacted and opened my mouth, spewing out some pretty acrid words and tones. Afterwards, I felt that all too familiar rock settle into the pit of my stomach.

Quickly amends were made, tears shed, arms and hands intertwined as we hugged and "made up", we each prayed, asking forgiveness and walked out the door, feeling like we were "OK".

Still, that rock remained in my stomach.

As I dropped the kids off, watched them walk inside that giant building with their little feet pattering, heads bobbing as they chattered, backpacks thumping on small bent backs, I felt like crying.

Driving home I fought tears.

When I got home, I gave in, sat in my "prayer" chair and let it go. I cried, reasons unknown, and just let the tears flow. As I sat, nestled in the corner of our giant chair, I expressed to God how hard parenting is. Parenting is THE hardest and most complex job on the planet. It's even more cumbersome when you carry your own emotional battles into the realm of parenthood. Parenting is imperfect because WE are imperfect.

I fear being a poor parent.  Making mistakes and scarring my kids for the rest of their lives. Repeating hurts and patterns that I myself endured throughout my childhood.  I fear this... I fear that...

Some of my blog reading has included a serious set of "super-moms"...  Those kind of moms that are "perfect" and seemingly have no such things as a dirty toilet, heaven forbid that they should leave dishes in their sink after dinner, they never let their highlights grow out because they forgot to schedule their hair appointment, their children don't fight, they never snap at their husbands, they have memorized the Book of Proverbs and use it daily in conversation with their perfectly groomed children (see my version of the Proverbs 31 woman)...


I am not one of those.  I will admit it.  Yes, I missed my hair appointment 6 weeks ago and keep forgetting to call to reschedule (Just call me Mama Skunk). No, I will not allow you to see my kids bathroom, partly because its the only bathroom in the house that I chose not to be in charge of, and because my son peed on the floor, apparently shooting down a "giant flying spider" (I am waiting for him to get home from school to pick it up himself).

 I am not perfect.  And I realized sitting in that big chair, that I am NOT called to be that kind of mother to my kids.  I am called to be ME to my children.  I am not to be a parent like my sister, aunt, mother, neighbor, best friend, or fellow saint to my kids.   I am called to bring the qualities and giftings the Lord gave to ME into the lives of my kids.  And I am to raise them according to their bent, not mine or my self imposed set of fears.

Parenting is a naked, ugly, somewhat earth-shattering mirror into our souls.  There are times, I hear myself or see myself when I am dealing with my precious children, that I can see the horrible stain of the sinfulness I carry.  Stains of un-forgiveness.  Impatience.  Lack of love. Loneliness. Comparison. Shards of anger.  Pride. Fear. Shame. Anxiety.

I can't hang onto it any more.  This journey is too arduous to carry all that baggage.  I can feel its time to lay it down and move forward.  I am learning to embrace the Grace of Jesus Christ, learning to let go of my control... and learning that I am perfectly imperfect.

Today, (I am saying this aloud as I type) I chose to overcome my sinfulness as a parent.  I chose to let go of my past.  I chose to be different.  To respond differently.  To seek the fruit of the Spirit in my own life so that it will spill seed onto my family.  I will offer myself some grace.  When I fail, I will make it right and mend those fences. I won't let guilt rule me or my actions.

And I choose to believe this verse when I feel like a failure as a parent...

Is. 41: 10, 13

10. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
13.For I hold you by your right hand—
    I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
    ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
(I love that the title of Chapter 41 in the Message version is entitled "Do you feel like a lowly worm?") Man, somedays I really do...  =)

It makes me feel so much better, that even today, when I got onto my son and then felt like a Schmuck when he went off to school, that the Lord is there, holding my hand, telling me not to be afraid...  He'll be right along side me as I journey through this parenting thing...  Instructing, loving, and holding me. 

Much love to you all, 
Mrs. Learning Not to be Afraid of Fear

What is your fear in parenting?  How do you overcome it?  What verses do you cling too as you travel the road of parenting? 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Step 1

We had a lady named, Bonnie Miller speak at my church on Sunday.  She wasn't the atypical speaker that I was used to listening too, but man, when I honed into what she was saying...  her words really touched my heart and I knew that this tied into what I was hoping to accomplish with this blog.  If you have 30 min, check out her teaching here.  (if its not there yet, it will be loaded later today)  Like it or not, the words that we speak aloud are sown into our spirits...  or even more ...  the spirits of others...  and the scriptures say, "that which we sow we will reap..."

I've been convicted when I stop to listen to myself speak. In the past few days I heard myself say... "It will never happen!"  "You're driving my crazy!"  When my husband told me I was beautiful, I shook my head "No" at him,  "I'll never get it done in time..." "I'm no good at this..." "What if it never happens?"  

Whoa.  Is it any surprise that I struggle with self esteem, patience, inadequacy and worry?  That's all I'm used to speaking aloud.  To myself.  About myself.  Its almost as though on autopilot I say these things aloud and sow seeds of nagging worry, despair, anxiety, impatience and low self esteem into my spirit.  And what are my words sowing into the lives of my precious children?  My wonderful husband?  

Its easy to compliment others, "You look so pretty today!"  "Thanks for your help!"  "You're important" "I really liked what you had to say..."  but WHY, oh Why, is it so hard to say those things to the very people who live in close quarters with me and share the same DNA as I???  

I've worked very hard the past few days saying things to my family like, "Wow, I really like your perseverance, but the answer is still NO!" as opposed to "Are you deaf?  I said N.O.!!!!!"  "Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it, even if that butter glass did get broken..." Instead of, "What do you think you're doing!  Look what you did!!"  "Thank you for cleaning the kitchen!  What a help you've been to me today" instead of, "Oh, you forgot to do...." "I think you're wonderful."  "I'll always love you." "I can do this!"  "Thank you God for helping me!"  

Its been hard.  My gut instinct is to vomit out my negative projectiles and shoot down those closest to me and to continue to maim my own spirit.  But, I can imagine, just as it is with anything, practice makes perfect.  If I can instinctively sow positive thoughts and promises and statements from the Word of God into my life and the lives of those around me...  Why, I think it would change my entire universe.  

So.  I'm kicking my mental butt into gear...  

If you see me muttering to myself down the aisles of Target, don't pull out a straight jacket and incarcerate me yet...  I'm just re-booting myself.  

The Real Woman's Journey Through the Valley Of Fear

I never would have made a good pastors wife. I tried for a few years, but my mouth got me in trouble.  I talked too openly or said too freely what I was thinking - politically correct or not... I once was told by a Pastor that my husband and I needed to "not be so transparent, to retain an air of "mystery" in our ministry to be successful."

Erm.  I am many things, but mysterious is not one of them.  Seriously.

At the time, so hungry for investment into my life and ministry I blindly took that comment and went forth.   What a bungling mess I made, and the end result of it was, trying blindly to hold on to an image of perfection and "mystery", I stopped talking.  I stopped being true and real.  Relatable.  Relevant. Myself.  

In the past years since then, I hunger for realness.  I am drawn to those in ministry who are real, who talk about their experiences through life via their trial and errors.  I like those who speak candidly. Those who find the humor in their life circumstances and can point to God with a smile, even in the middle of a dung pile and laugh about it. I am turned off by speakers who talk in generalities and never really say anything at all, or those who give no personal examples of triumph or failure.  I like it raw.  I like it real and I like it to be practical.  

Don't get me wrong, sometimes those conversations are the ones we shy away from.  It can hurt to be real.  Its vulnerable to be raw and open.  But when we are real and open with others about our struggles, our victory, our pain, our happiness, we can share the true meaning and message of Jesus Christ himself.  Look at the scriptures...  When Jesus walked on the earth, He was so terribly real that He threw the Pharisees into a tizzy... They didn't want Jesus to talk to their people about prayer, a Savior, how to treat their neighbors, how to avoid sin, or list the deplorable acts of sinful behavior of the people and then tell them how to be forgiven...  No, they would rather He stay "mysterious" and "unattainable" much like their version of a Savior - a royal King, sitting on a throne in a far off land, clothed in silks, jewels and finery, and surrounded by body guards... 

Now, I'm DEFINITELY not Jesus.... HA!  But I am taking a cue from Him.  I want to be real.  

I am a real woman.  I argue with my husband sometimes.  I yell at my kids occasionally. I have piles of dirty laundry that I procrastinate in doing. I feel like a failure at times. Sometimes dishes sit in my sink for a while.  Sometimes I only clean the top of the toilet seat when I'm in a hurry.  I wear a hat to cover up the fact that my hair is greasy.  I get pimples.  I cry.  I compare myself to others and struggle with inadequacy.  I desire to pray every day, but sometimes get so bogged down with life (aka laundry and toilets) that I don't have the energy. I get afraid of lots of things. I get lonely.  I really want to know the Lord better and struggle with the enormity of that thought at times. 

Enter "The Real Woman's Guide Through the Valley of Fear" aka my self titled blogging about fear.  

Not gonna lie.  I'm scared to even begin blogging about fear.  Who am I to do this?  What if I mess it up?  What if I take something out of context?  Mrs. __________ could do it a lot better than I.  What if i give up in the middle and you all think I am a loser?  What if? What if?  

 But we should want to openly journey through fear together and hope that somewhere along the way, we stop being afraid of fear.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Get a grip

Opening scene:  a dark shadow flits across the screen.  Camera pans to a frightened face, screaming is induced.  A ghastly figure dominates the room.  Evil is presented and seemingly conquers its victims. a little boy whispers, "I see dead people..." Blood.  Darkness.

Scary movies.  I hate them.  Actually, I hate being scared, period.

Once, as a teenager, my date and I went to a haunted house.  Oh sure, I was shaking inside, balking at the thought of going  into the darkness and seeing lord knows what...  But, the tickets were payed for, I was dressed to impress, I could do this.


 I made it about 10 steps inside before someone jumped out wearing a mask and wielding some sort of sharp dungeon like instrument and it was over. Not caring about the crowd around me or the unsightly figure in front of me, I literally jumped on my dates back (poor boy), piggy back style, buried my face in his back and wept.  He staggered and buckled under my weight, but I was not letting go.  I was afraid. We exited the building as soon as he could find a way out, my make up running, his back wet with tears and saliva.  Actually, now that I think about it...  He never called me again.

(Sorry dude.  Obviously it wasn't meant to be)

Since then, in light of the over abundance of scary movies on the market (remember when they only came out around Halloween??) I've since learned to limit my fear in a Hollywood sense.  I don't allow myself to watch scary movies, read thriller books, or even watch things that stress me out (i.e. CSI, SVU etc).  There is no desire in me to be looking in dark corners, or hearing creaking noises under my bed in the night... I already have an over active imagination as is... read here for more details.

 Having said that, if I've conquered the Hollywood fear, why is it that I am still afraid?  One of my continual struggles is fear. Not fear of dead people, ghosts or noises (though if my husband goes out of town I may have every light in the house on), but regular ole fear.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of failure.  Fear of Spiders.  Fear of lack.  Fear of not being a good mom.  Fear of something happening to my kids. Fear of singing. Fear of Scorpions.  Fear of forgetting to put my pants on before I go to church (oh wait... that's a nightmare)

 Fear...  fear... fear...

It comes out in mental moments more than it does in the movies.  There's no screaming in the background of my mind, random blood stained person in my shower or a man wearing a Jason mask.

No, its just that nagging, "what if" that invokes more fear than the above mentioned things.

(If there was someone in my shower, why, I'd like to think I'd down her with a bottle of rave hairspray, my curling iron and a loofah).  


I read recently that "Babies are naturally born with two fears. A fear of falling and a fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned by association and identification".  

Say what??

Yup.  All those things I fear now on a daily basis, somewhere along the line, I was taught to fear them or I became a product of my environment. 

I'm done.  I really believe that we are being called to identify our fears and move on.  To outgrow some of these mental battles that we struggle with.  I'm tired of being afraid. I'm tired of living bound up by thoughts of "What if"  "No... don't" "What if" "what if" "what if".  

I had an idea the other night, (it could have been bad sushi, but... I'll press on and see what happens) to take a Bible verse on fear and write about it every day.  To really get God's word about fear into my psyche and see some changes made by the power of God.  There are, apparently, over 500 references to "Fear Not" and "Fear" in the Bible.  That's over one verse for every day of the year... 

So. I'm going there.  Want to come with me?  I've got to GET A GRIP!  


Friday, February 17, 2012

The BEST soup ever. Seriously

My sweet little girl is sick with the flu...  a high fever, chills and the aches. 

As a "natural" girl (aka Hippie) I am giving her lemon/ginger/garlic tea, spraying her pulse points with fever spray, and giving her lots of TLC. 

As I am sure you do, any time my kids are sick, I pull out the arsenal of soups and other sick foods.  So tonight, I thought I would share with you our family's favorite chicken soup.... 

We learned about this recipe from my sisters church in Amarillo Texas, Trinity Fellowship. Along with a great resource of sermons, they put out a magazine called "Connect".  Included in this edition was a recipe for "Chicken Tortilla Soup".  Oh my word.  It's so yummy....


2 TBS Olive Oil
3 Pre roasted chicken breasts (Chopped) ***  See note on how I do my chicken...
Salt & Pepper
1 TBS ground coriander
1 Lg onion (quartered & thinly sliced)
1 Lg red bell pepper (quartered & thinly sliced)
1 jalapeno (seeded & thinly sliced)
1 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (Be sure to get fire roasted - they add SO much flavor)
1 QT low sodium chicken broth
1 Bag white corn tortilla chips
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Optional toppers
1 avocado (diced)
1 lime (juiced)
4 scallions (chopped)
handful of fresh cilantro leaves (coarsely chopped)

Heat a large stock pot with olive oil over med-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and jalapenos; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add chicken and coriander. Add tomatoes and chicken stock; heat through (I let mine simmer on low for about 25 min).  While soup is cooling, toss the avocado with lime juice. Lightly crush some tortilla chips and divide among 4 bowls.  You need a couple handfuls per bowl. Top the chips with a little cheese. Top the chips with ladles of soup. Garnish soup with cheese, avocado, scallions and cilantro.  Add an extra squeeze of lime juice or a dollop of sour cream if desired.


And here is the recipe for the roasted chicken.  It is so easy and flavorful that I normally make extra of this chicken and store in fridge to be used in an assortment of meals.

Lemon Marinade Roast Chicken

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbs dijon Mustard
1 cup olive oil
4 chicken breasts

whisk together lemon, mustard, oil, salt and pepper.  Place the chicken breasts in a shallow paking dish in a single layer.  pour 3/4 of the marinade over chicken (reserve other portion for storage later) If you have time, allow chicken to marinate for 1-2 hours (I never have time... so I skip this step).  Pre-heat oven to 375. Roast chicken for 30-40 minutes or until done. 

Let me know if you try it! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dreams, life and other musings

So, I swear my blog does a time warp. 

I sign on, write a post and about 30 years later I sign on and write again. 

Yes, hello, I am now living in a retirement community in Arizona, with blue tinted hair, wearing a visor, velour running suit and driving a golf cart as my main transportation to my bridge and rummy games. 

Nah...  Life just happens sometimes and blogging doesn't. 

For this reason, I am forcing myself to sit down and write before another 30 years passes and my velour running suit has been traded for an open backed hospital gown, a motorized wheelchair, and one of those emergency push button necklaces a'la "I've fallen and I can't get up" style...

I digress.

Where was I?  Ah, yes, I was forcing myself to sit down and write.  Right? (Write?)


It's been an amazing few months.  So many wonderful changes happening in our life. 

Oh.  Wait.  I think I now know why I think of blogging as a daunting task.  If you only write once every 30 years then you have to write an auto-biography. It hurts my brain to find the content to fill 3,003,597 pages to catch everyone up on the current time in my life. 

Consider this the Readers Digest Version of the past 30 years.  (Do you remember your mom reading those?  If I confess to reading them now, does that mean I am like my mother? Lawl...  Help us)

Write. Right. 

Back to the current view of our life. 

Are there things in your life that you've always wanted to pursue?  Dreams that you've had hidden in your heart since you were a wee thing?  Talents that have been gifted to you that you'd like to explore? Have you pursued, dreamt and explored all the options in your life?

Have you?

We took the plunge a year ago and stepped out of our comfort zone - we stopped working for a church.

In the 10 years we've been married, we have always worked for a church/church school, etc in some capacity.  Working for a church was wrapped up in our identity and in our feeble minds tied us to our salvation. After coming to terms with the fact that we may have been pursuing something that wasn't quite our niche, we stepped down from our positions and began living life - just plain old ordinary non ministerial life.

We were lost for a while, high in faith, but lost in action.  What did we do?  How did we serve God in a non "ministry" capacity now? Who were we outside of the church or a church position?  What did God have for us now?

My husband took a job working a field he has always loved with hopes that he would soon advance, and I adjusted to life being plain old me - no titles (not that I ever really had one anyways).  We began searching our hearts and opening areas of thought that we had shut closed or just plain forgotten about.

We adjusted to life not feeling obligated to go to this event, or stay and volunteer at such and such, and, sometimes, we slept in and watched service online, or when our kids were sick didn't make them go and sleep on a back pew while we took care of business.

As the time went by, my husband has found his niche and talent in his job.  He is passionately pursuing and walking through doors that open for him in his line of work.  He is happy.  He is moving forward. He is growing.


I wasn't.

After much despair of not knowing what God wanted from me, I began a season of my life where I felt idle. Like I needed to be doing something. SOMETHING!  But what? Where? Who?  When? I raged at God.  I would fold clothes, feeling completely inadequate and small, and yell at Him through my ceiling. "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME???" I pleaded with Him in the dark of night, while my husband slept soundly, fulfilled from the path he knew God placed him on. Tears would drip onto my pillow as I mouthed into the darkness, "Who am I? Who am I?" I'd listen to and support my man as he told me excitedly about his day. I would watch my husband go happily to work, and when I shut the front door, would fight resentment that I was left alone and still didn't know who I was outside of the four walls of my domestic domain.

Life finally caught me.  It came on me in the form of my 30th birthday. I woke up one morning feeling like I couldn't breath... Suffocating.  Gasping. Reaching.  Searching.

I gave up.

I asked for help.

I met with a wonderful mentor in my life, talked with a dear friend, and my husband and I met with our Pastor.  I left all the facades of perfection in the car, and for small moments, opened my weak and broken heart and let them see me. A bag of bones, a mind of insecurity and a life of fear.

It saved my life.

Actually, it saved my sanity.

Just being honest about where I was poked a hole in the dark night that threatened to overtake me.  I kept walking towards that pinprick of light and determined to keep jabbing and smashing at the darkness till the light would illuminate more and more of my life. God started to work on me. I stopped trying to be hyper spiritual about things.  I began to accept things as they were, not offering or trying to dive into any lengthy explanation of mumbo jumbo. Life just was.  And it was what I was making it. Or, rather, what I was NOT making it.

One day, the beginning of this year, God moved.  Unexpectedly and suddenly.  And here I stand today. In a better place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally than I have been in a long time.  I'm real. Flesh and bone, smiles and frowns, love and hurts, and it feels good.  I feel present.  I'm aware of my surroundings and I like it.  And, best of all,  I can see a path that God is guiding my feet to, opening doors that He has set in motion for me.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know God has placed in each of us dreams, desires and passions that only we can fulfill.  We are each called to use our talents to change our spherical world. Are you using yours?

 If I, of all people, am given an opportunity to pursue something I love, than nothing should stop you from pursuing your place as well.  If I can do it - you can.

What's holding you back? 

Month of Love

Its February...  The Month of Love... Well, every month should be one filled with love. But for some reason, there is an emphasis on the month of February... Maybe to give us something to look forward to after Christmas and the slew of holiday parties.

This February, my husband and I decided to show extra demonstrative love to our kids.  Our thought process was this: Our 9 year old son needs to learn how to "romance" and our 8 year old daughter needs to learn what "romance" looks like.

My husband has always struggled in the romantic arena, and actually, when we got married, I was told not to expect roses on Valentines Day. I've had to push hard and drop hints even harder, but the Hubs is so much better and has surprised me many times.

So, needless to say, this month of love will benefit ALL of us.

Here are some of our ideas (and some that we've picked up through others doing a similar thing with their children).

We didn't want to spend a ton of money, but wanted to really invest and put some "love" memories in their love banks.  In every note that we write our children, we tried to make each note personal and uplifting, offering words that would bless our children, not only for the moment, but for a lifetime to come.

1. Grab a book of special interest to your child/spouse and write a personal inscription on the front page.
2. Give a box of conversation hearts with the note, "I love our heart to heart conversations, they mean the world to me..."
3.Give a chocolate heart with a note, "Your smile melts my heart" or "You've captured my heart".
4.Give a packet of trail mix/nuts with a note that says "Your parents are NUTS about you"
5. Blow up a packet of balloons with a smidge of confetti and personal note inside.  Have your child stand holding a push pin and pop each "love bomb" as you gently toss them their way.  (Our kids loved this so much, they want to do it every day.  They loved being showered with confetti and scrambling to read their special note out loud.) If you don't mind the mess, leave the confetti on the floor in their rooms for a day or two.  Every time they walk in and see the confetti, they will have a smile on their face.
6. Tape a quarter to a note that says: "My life is richer because you're in it..."
7. Give gift vouchers that are itemized, we used the 5 love languages book to inspire ours. For example:  Redeem your gift of Quality Time by doing _________ together. (Let your child write in the entry)
8. Give your child a written clue that will lead her/him on a scavenger hunt to find a small box filled with things you love about them. We called it our "Treasure Hunt - because you're the greatest treasure we've been given".
9. Give a "Get out of Chores FREE" card.  This card may be redeemed once in the month of February. (use the extra time to spend doing something your child likes to do...)
10. Put a packet of "Pop rocks" in their lunch box (gasp! I know! Sugar!!! In their lunch?? They loved it!) with a note taped to it saying, "You're a ROCK star just because you're YOU!"
 11. Write a special note on the bathroom mirror in lipstick or dry erase marker for them to see when they get up.
12. Purchase a little kid friendly seed kit (they normally have these pre-assembled at your local home depot) with a note that says, "My love for you grows and grows..."

I'm still coming up with more ideas, if you have any, please feel free to share in the comments section! I'd love to add them. =)

What's been amazing is, we are on day 7 and I've been so surprised at the love my kids have freely offered back.  I've had notes slipped into my purse from my son, left on my pillow from my daughter, and love notes written on a surprise cup of Starbucks from my husband.  Our family is definitely feeling the love... Hope yours does too.

Happy LOVE month!