Engage- to connect with commitment

I remember the the heat of a summer’s day sun radiating from the primer black paint of my boyfriends 1961 Ford Galaxie as I hopped up on the hood to prepare for the “surprise” he had for me. Even parked under the tree in front of his parent’s house- that car was h-o-t. I briefly wondered whether you could get third degree burns from the hood of a parked car.

The truth is:  I didn’t care. Because, I loved him. And… I more than kind of suspected what the “surprise” was. We’d been talking about taking the next step in our relationship for a while… and well… maybe we’d even gone shopping a few times and “happened” to look at some pretty rings….

Just about the time I couldn’t stand it any longer… (the anticipation, not the butt- burn.) he pulled a 9″ tall precious moments teddy bear from behind his back. Not what I was expecting.

But- before disappointment could set in, he told me to turn over the little heart shaped “tag” that was around the bears neck.

Taped to it was a tiny ruby and diamond heart ring.

He got down on one knee. Tears filled my eyes.

I said

“Yes.”

And we became officially-unofficially “engaged.” (I think we were trying to ease our parents into the idea…..the officially official part came at Christmas time…bonus- two rings!  Shhh I didn’t say that. )

We’d been “going together” for a couple of years, we were most certainly connected- now it was time to be committed- to each other.

We have been ever since. Even though we’re very different. (Hello- why DO night owls always marry morning people? )

I’ve never forgotten that day- or the many other times we’ve affirmed our connection and commitment to each other since.

I also learned that day how important it is to have visual reminders of commitments.  That ring and the commitment it represented- helped me through countless rough days, arguments, fears and struggles. Worn on the ring finger of my left hand- it also communicated that commitment and connection to others. It said clearly: “This girl is: taken.”

Not until I became engaged, did I know what the word meant. To be connected (People already recognized our connection.. I think the words most often used were: joined at the hip” or something like that:) with commitment. Once engaged- we were also- committed.

The 1961 Ford Galaxie is long gone… and to be honest? after three children I doubt I could pry that tiny ring onto my pinky finger- but I still have it- in a place of loving honor in my jewelry box. The boy? Well- he’s now a man and he’s my husband.

Engaged. It’s a familiar word to all of us- from marketing to ministry and social media- people use the term all the time. “Engage your customer. Engage your audience. Engage your children in conversation.”

We engage with things we’re passionate about.

In addition to my husband and family, most know I am passionate about connecting with other mothers. I believe we’re better together. I’ve dedicated over 20 years working with Moms of all kinds through MOPS International.  Because it makes a difference, in me, in my family and in the families and lives of thousands of other moms.

More specifically- I’m passionate about the moms who are “different.” The ones who don’t necessarily fit the demographic. MOPS started as an organization of white, middle class, stay at home moms…. but over it’s near 40 years it’s become so much more…we want to be more. We want to be a place for every mother. As a board member and leader with MOPS I’m committed to reaching out- reaching further. Reaching beyond our comfort zones to every mom.

I’m committed to connect and engage every mother of preschoolers….

Through a process of prayer and much thought- I decided I needed a symbol of that commitment.

A symbol of my commitment to “the other” mom.

At the time- I was being smacked in the face with all kinds of prejudices that I realized were keeping me from reaching out. Prejudice- to pre-judge. As an experiment I went to the mall and wrote down every assumption I made about moms based on some aspect of her, her mothering, her appearance or he children. It was a disturbing experiment. And when I shared the experience with others- I found I’m not the only one judging others.

Our prejudices are the bricks that create the fortresses we hide behind and take shots at each other from- in the Mommy Wars.

In the process of digesting Roman’s (and getting quite a bit of indigestion to be honest…. there are some pretty harsh and yet- freeing truths in there…) I realized that “ink” was one of my personal hangups.

Not like pen and ink… tattoo ink.

Yeah, I’m like that. On another trip to a local mall (A few years back- now) – I saw a rather inked up momma pushing a stroller. My eyes scanned her ink and found tiny baby footprints. I wondered what they meant… that was NOT something I was expecting…which is when my brain latched onto this: “I tell my story with pen and ink- she tells hers with needles and ink.”

Instead of judging-  I decided to start asking people about their ink and found there was (almost) always a story:

A loved one remembered, a special occasion, a memory shared a loss suffered or, a victory celebrated.

In my passion to engage with every mom…. I decided to take my new found connection with tatted moms to the next level-commitment.

How better to commit to over coming my prejudices and hang ups than to symbolically commit..with a tattoo?

That tells part of my story….

So I did- about a year ago.

I chose a branch to represent God- holding a nest- representing our family- with three tiny blue eggs- one for each of my sons- and then had the branch dotted with 5 apple blossoms to represent that the 5 of us are still growing….something from a verse shared long ago at a MOPS Convention in the 90’s. Instead of a judgmental outsider- I’m now one of  “those moms” the tatted ones. It took soul searching and confronting my needle phobia- but I did it- and I’m glad.  It’s opened doors to conversations I knew were divinely appointed….at least for  me. Doors that opened my heart to recognizing and getting over other prejudices.

Here’s the best part……. What I thought I was doing for others? (I wanted to engage and connect with other moms) God has used to engage and connect with me….

That nest has become iconic for me. A beacon of hope through tragedies, pain, recoveries, surgeries, cancer diagnosis’ and treatments……

If you use the search bar and search for “Nest” or “Even Here” you can red more about that journey-

Today’s post isn’t about that. It’s about you.

Who are you passionate about connecting with?

Who do you want to engage?

Are you willing to make a commitment? What would that look like? 

Maybe it’s time.

Dear Lord- raise up a generation of women who take risks and refuse prejudice. Grow passions that lead to callings that require commitments. Give us the courage to make the commitments you have for us….. and we will praise you as you use them to encourage and equip us for the journey that lies before each of us…. I love you lord- and thank you for engaging me- and for my husband who taught me so much about commitment- I pray for MOPS International- that we would continue to grow into a place for every mom.. where every mom feels welcomed and part and needed- because she is. In Jesus’ name- amen. 

PS- This is not ME telling you to get  TATTOO….it’s just me encouraging you to take the steps to connect in your area of passion…..

Although- if you do get one or have one… I’d love it if you’d post a pic and the story that goes with it……otherwise- I’d love to hear what you are passionate about- and with whom YOU want to engage! 

Final disclaimer- the tat on my ankle was a piece of cake…. however- when I got “permanent makeup?” AKA: tattooed eyeliner?  Yeah- that almost killed me. But, I love it. The end. ;)

PPS (to all my inked friends- don’t take this personal… it’s something God did in my heart a few years ago… before I knew most of you;)