imagesWarning: Forget about zombies…. we’re under attack of a two headed dragon lie. This dragon is trying to kill what God so desperately wants to create- community. Today we’re gone slay that lie like the warriors of love we are, and want to be. It’s the lie that if we compare our situations, pains and struggles  and joys and they don’t measure equal or greater than- we have no right or responsibility to share them. LIE. let’s take on one ugly head of this dragon at a time.

The first lie like sounds like this: “I feel stupid even sharing with what you’re going through…..” “It’s nothing compared to what you have going on…” And-the even sadder:  “I don’t even want to share this good news with them.. because I know how hard life is for them right now… my news will just make them feel worse.” The second ugly head of the lie looks like this: “That’s nothing. Really? Here’s what I’m going through- you should be thankful that’s all you have on your plate. Suck it up buttercup.” 

That first head is usually pretty noisy and vocal. It’s in your face- comparing pain, heaping on guilt and withholding joy. The second is usually a it more stealthy…. it’s often noticed in a look, an attitude a feeling and ocassionally loudly and proudly roaring to fend off connection.

Here’s the thing; this dragon needs to die. Both heads are damaging to relationships. The first self inflicts flaming guilt at the speaker and shoots smoldering guilt embers to the listener. The speaker feels like they shouldn’t be in pain or struggling with whatever they are struggling with. Or, they don’t want to share their joy as if their joy makes someone else’s pain somehow- worse. They feel GULTY for good news. The listener feels bad that their pain makes someone else feel guilty for sharing their struggles, and feel let out of sharing in someone else’s joy. It also has another insidious side effect- the listener feels like because they are struggling they are being judged as too selfish or  hurting to care for someone else’s pain or joy.  Both are left feeling guilty. Disconnected. Less than.  The second head is equally diabolical and destructive. It lives to compete for the martyr crown. This dragon head snaps and bites to trump everyone else’s pain. It minimizes the struggles of others it in order to be seen as some kind of amazing martyr. It injects a selfish venom in it’s bite.

The result of these dragon attacks are the same- separation.  Guilt, Fear, Judgment (or the feeling of being judged) all lead to destruction of intimacy. Killing (or at least )damaging community.  When people feel they can’t share their pain and  joy  they don’t feel connected. Because they aren’t. They are separated by a two headed dragon of lies.

its time to slay the dragon. It’s time to stop comparing our pain and start sharing it. It’s time to respect the struggles of others and be honest about the struggles of our own.

Here’s what we’re learning about this two headed dragon during our three year battle of cancer and other huge struggles: Shared pain is more bearable. Shared joy is more joyful. Sharing pain breeds compassion and understanding and intimacy, sharing joy breeds hope and joy.  It all creates intimacy and community.

It slays the dragon.

Today- as we continue through the holidays- I want to slay the dragon. I refuse to compare our pain or minimize the pain of others. I refuse to be unavailable to the joy of others. I choose love. I choose sharing- not comparing. I choose intimacy not isolation. I hope you will to.

Like all Dragon slaying- it will require courage and wisdom…. and maybe a bit of armor. Sharing in someone else’s pain can hurt, sharing in another’s joy when you are hurting can be bittersweet. It can sting. But it’s worth it to grow hope….it can be  the tilling of the soil hope needs to grow in.

Let’s do it-  lets slay this beast and built community. I already know I can’t do it on my own. I’m too selfish and human and have a heart that automatically judges and compares. I AM the two headed dragon. (With slightly better hair.) Or- I can be on any given day.  Somedays- both in the same day. (Trips to the cancer center can do that to you. It’s a bipolar mix of survivors and the sick. Trust me.)

“Dear Lord- I love you- it hurts when I see people comparing or withholding their struggles from each other. I can see the damage it does to relationships- and I know your heart is for us to love one another- give us courage and wisdom lord- give us a bit of armor to bear the sting that sometimes comes with the sweet. Lord help us share in joy and in pain- the way you do, help us create community – we are stronger and better together- we need each other as a body needs it’s parts- help us slay this dragon- I love you lord- amen.”

” Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge,my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” From Roman’s 12

 

We talk about it all the time…. mothering. But, what are we talking about????  I don’t even know…. let’s see if we can figure it out, together.

What is a mother? ( A position, a calling, a vocation, a name, a choice, a responsibility, a biological function?……you tell me.)

What is mothering? ( an action, an attitude, a lifestyle, a hassle?)

Is there a right way to mother? Is there a wrong way? How can we tell the difference? (Don’t bother telling me HOW to mother… we all have the same answer- the right way is MY way, of course. :P)

What does family mean? (A biological unit, a creation of the heart, a hot mess? something to be avoided except for holidays?)

What is a family? (A team, a garden where humans are born, (much like pod people) an organism….)

Is family something you DO…. or ARE? Ohhhh theory. I love to talk theory.

How do you mother? With a tight ship? With loose reigns? Without a clue? With a lot of prayer. With tequila shots? (Not recommended. just sayin.)

Why do you mother? (Why are you a mother?) Because this one time in a backseat…..because your birth control failed. Because you want to make a difference in the world? Because children are a blessing? Because you have to?

With whom do you mother? Alone? With a Spouse? With a faith community? With a fairy godmother? With pets? With friends?

How has mothering changed you? For the better? For the Worse? Spiritually? Physically? (If you answer this with- “Not at all” I will try not to hate you but it will be hard, Christian or not.) Emotionally?

How has your mothering changed? Over time…. are you more or less controlling? More or less forgiving, more or less passionate, compassionate? Other?

Lots to think about….. I’d love to hear your thoughts……

If you’re new here…. you need to know- I hate politics. I’m not talking about political definitions….. I’m talking about how we live. You and I. Same or different. I’ve  worked with MOPS International for 20+ years….. I love moms of all kinds. This is a safe place. ;)

So….let’s talk about what we talk about when we talk about: Mothering.

(Hmmm there’s a book that might be fun to write.)

If you have other things to add to the list…. tell me!

beauty in winter...

In the detritus of loss, are the seeds of hope.

I grabbed my camera, and took a walk, desperate to find beauty.

I had to look beyond the gray, overcast skies and mud  to find it.

But, I did.

I found it in unexpected places. I found it in places that [at first glance] looked barren. I looked closer. I found the beauty of life to come.

In….

Seeds.

Pods.

In fuzzy, prickly burrs that hitchhike to better ground. I found it in stubborn lichen and moss that refuses to give up it’s hold on life. I found it in evergreens that defy the season of cold.

In the detritus of winter- I found beauty in the hope of spring.

It’s always there. Even in the darkest times. The worst days. Like moss, and evergreens, like seeds, pods and burrs.. if we look close enough.

Today- I’ll be joining Moms all over the world- as we pray that those suffering in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting can find hope. we’ll pray that they find comfort for their pain. That they feel love, in a time of loss.

In a world that has been feeing dark- cold and lonely- there is beauty in the connection of mothers’ hearts reaching out to pray for each other. There is beauty in community. There is beauty and something holy in shared suffering. I wish I could change what happened… I can’t. But I can do something….I can pray. I can pray for mothers whose children who are troubled. I can pray for mothers struggling with fear as they send little ones off to school. I may not be able to change a mom’s circumstances- but I can make sure she’s not alone.

If you’re feeling afraid, alone, overwhelmed or are longing to do something to support those who suffered such loss -I hope you’ll join with us in prayer.

It’s a step in making the world a more beautiful, peaceful and loving  place.

Everyday I hear about people preparing for the Zombie apocalypse. They hoard food. They hoard gold. They hoard weapons and write books about Zombie apocalypse preparedness. These people are intense in either a fear of, or love for, zombies. (At least that’s what I read on the internet….)

I think the fear is misplaced. They are preparing for the wrong apocalypse.  I doubt the dead will rise and suddenly decide that human brains are a delicacy. (Although people DO eat sushi and sweetbreads…so- it could happen…)  But, still. We ought to be more concerned about the Mom-bie apocalypse.

I know this because they already walk among us.

I’ve met one.

I’m not sure what did it. Maybe it was the pallor of her skin, or her disheveled hair (that really needed a washing and a trim) that gave her away. But once I took in the full picture- complete with  suspiciously stained clothes, bloodshot eyes and a gait that was one part shuffle one part limp- arms holding a bundle so close to it’s chest that they appeared to be unable to move from that position- I knew it was true.

I was face to face with a Mom-bie. (more…)

I woke up before the alarm this morning.   I snuggled deeper under the covers.  Fridays are my “fun day.”  (Fun, here,  is a relative term. It means I run errands, maybe grab lunch by myself or get a coffee at the bookstore and browse. But, I get out of the house- so it’s fun, to me!) I thought I had a few extra minutes before I had to get up.

That is, I thought it was “fun day,” until the alarm clock, rudely reminded me, that I had to get up. I had to go to work today. Ugh. Before I could hit the alarm button, I also remembered that this was: data entry day. On an excel spreadsheet. that was important.

My stomach felt queasy, before my feet hit the floor. Nerves. I was afraid  the universe would implode if I screwed up. I tried to remember what Kathy, my friend and boss-du jour had told me to do.

I blanked.  “Oh well, she wrote it down, I’ll figure it out when I get there.”

Fortunately, getting ready this morning was much smoother than yesterday.

  1. No one missed the bus.
  2. I didn’t run anything over. (However,  I disappointed Noah, by not taking out any garbage cans.  I assured him, I’d likely hit something, sometime soon.)
  3. I actually had time to fold a load of laundry and do the dishes before I left.
  4. The beagle  peed on demand!

I was running early. An excellent (and rare) start to the day.

The drive to work was un-eventful.If you don’t count seeing a red bra (inexplicably) lying on the ground at my freeway exit. (Someone’s lookin’ like a fool with her bra on the ground, is all I can say about that.)

I actually was *gasp* a few minutes early! (I took a picture of the clock, as evidence for the doubters, I can hear you mocking me.)

It only took me a few minutes to settle in to my data entry job.  Once I got my bearings, looked at the notes Kathy had left for me, and took a deep breath. I started.

You know what?  I did it! It took me a few hours to enter all the data for four different sites, but I did it! (I think I did it, anyway.  I obsessively double checked each entry and saved the file, so it should still be there on Monday.)  I may have set a new record for world’s slowest data entry, but it’s done.

Data entry, surprised me. I actually kind of liked it. (It was infinitely better than dark-room uniform organizing.) I worked downstairs, in the main office. it was nice to hear office chatter.  And I even got a chance to talk to a few people. (Nice since as a SAHM, I can go for days without interacting face to face, with another adult. But I digress, today I’m a working mom!)

However, I was concentrating and trying (not to wreck the database and thus stop the universe) to do my best- so I didn’t take time to chat. (FYI- it’s a very good thing they’ve gently moved me into tasks. Today?  I’m not sure if I could have answered the phone and done the data entry at the same time. I was thankful every time the phone rang, and I didn’t have to answer it!)

I think I may have committed my first office faux pas. They were ordering pizza.. and I passed. Honestly… I felt shy and a bit intimidated, for lunch with the crew. (Weird, I know. But apparently shyness can strike even me.) And, I was hoping to get home in time to pick up Noah at the bus, so I worked straight through.  I hope I get a chance to go back and hang out at lunch, sometime.

Once finished with the data, I did some filing. Where I was reminded, once again that: HANDWRITING MATTERS. Especially on Driver’s Manifests. Hello, if I can’t read your driver number or the date, it’s kind of hard to: FILE IT, BY THAT. (sorry, a little messy handwriting rant.) As an aside: Driver’s Manifest’s are not the subversive documents that could result in governmental or cultural change, that they sound like. They are (basically) driver’s logs. Where they went and when.  They are important. But still. Not revolutionary.

Filing went well, until I dropped a pile of papers. I panicked, slightly, like a second grader who knocks over a chair.   For a moment, I wondered if I broke them. (Umm yeah. I’m keeping it real here… I seriously wondered if I wrecked the pile by dropping it.)

I picked them up and put them back in order. Duh. They are paper. They weren’t broken or wrecked.  It took me a few extra minutes to fix my mistake, but, that was it.

And then. I finished! Early!  I was glad to meet the bus today. I had no idea how hard that time between 4 and quitting time is for working mom’s. I call it the 4:00 pm effect. Worry distracted me. I worried a lot. I worried whether his big brother met him at the bus. (He didn’t, he forgot. Noah walked home just fine. He sometimes does if I don’t make it to the stop.) I worried whether he had a good day at school. I worried whether needed me and I worried if he had a snack. Yeah. A lot. Also-very quickly. I finished work around 4:45, yesterday!

I learned some things that surprised me this week:

  1. If I had to work, I could. (I’ve been a little a lot, afraid that maybe I couldn’t cut it, even if I desperately had to.) This week has not been easy. We’d have to make a lot of changes at home if I worked. But, I did it. And I could. Just like the millions of moms who do it every week. Each one with her unique set of challenges. (I have 3 kids, 3 schedules and a traveling husband.)
  2. I’ve always thought I had a problem with being told what to do. I discovered this week, that it’s more that I hate, not knowing what to do and needing to be told. I’d rather anticipate needs a need and meet it. I could not do that this week. I had no idea what needed to be done. I needed direction. It was uncomfortable.  But over time, I think that would improve as I caught on. (And didn’t have to be led around like a trained pony.)
  3. I appreciate more and understand better, how my husband feels about work. (It didn’t cross my mind that this experiment would lead here.) Even doing things as simple and benign as I did this week, it’s hard to “turn it off” at quitting time.  (Something I get mad at him for all the time.) Also: if I worked outside the home, and he continued to travel as he does (He’s gone about 3-5 days a week and is usually in a different time zone.) it would be hard to talk on the phone, let alone see each other. I missed him. (If my tubes weren’t tied, I’d say it would, however, save us a fortune in birth control… but that’s TMI, Funny, but still: TMI.)
  4. My house is still standing, even though I went to work.  True, I didn’t do everything. But I got done what needed to get done. Working helped me prioritize my tasks.
  5. I could see both pluses and minuses for my kids if I worked.  They would need to be more independent. I believe they would rise to the occasion, as they did (for the most part) this week.
  6. A few posts back- I used the word “day dreaming” about what working would be like. I realized this week, that more than day-dreaming, I’ve  been missing things from when I used to work. (Before kids.) Maybe I’ve romanticized the memory a bit, but it’s there, and some part of me, misses it.
  7. Bonus Round: If you work straight through, without stopping for a potty break and text and drive on the way home, you could have an accident (of the soggy type) if a police car speeds up behind you with it’s lights flashing.  You might also throw your very expensive iPhone in the backseat to try and hide the fact that you were texting. You will be very relieved if they drive right past you once you’ve pulled over.

The drive home was slightly more dramatic than the drive in. oopsy.

Now- I have some questions for you! There is no way, I can really understand what it’s like for you, by working for a few days.  You’d really help me, and mom’s everywhere- if you’d answer!

please: email, comment, facebook message, or tweet me to tell me your answers!

Working moms:

1) Does the schedule thing smooth out at all once you’ve established a routine?  (Well, as routine as life ever gets with kids.) I had a hard time this week, and I’m wondering if it would get (somewhat) easier as you (and your people, big and small) adjust.

2) Tell me what you enjoy about working! I like the: interaction, challenge and the occasional pat on the back. If I were being paid, I’d have liked that, too.

3) Tell me what you hate about working! (I hated : not being there when my kids got home, being on someone else’s time schedule and working in a dark closet sorting uniforms…)

4) One of the things I think would help our mothering community is if respected each other more. I think we’d do that, if we understood each other’s sacrifices.

5) What sacrifices do you make as a working mom, and why? (for example-I sacrificed: time to myself, time to write, energy, time with my kids/my husband, some order in my house, being there for the bus stop :(and vulnerability- i’ve been pretty honest here, that’s a risk- risk is a sacrifice.)

Why?  Right now? For this project. Because I believe that we are better together.  I believe that by understanding and connecting with mom’s who are different from me, (and similar) my perspective changes and I learn.  You can make me a better mother, and I just might help you, too.

Working Mom Myths are just some of the Mommy Myths I want to bust!

If I were to continue working, I’d do so to provide my family with things that they need, (hello- next year, I’ll have 2 in college, ca-ching! This is a pertinent conversation, for us! ) Or to fulfill a calling that God has on my life. (The truth is, as I’m writing and speaking more and more, I’m am becoming less SAHM and more Work From Home Mom.)

Now- it’s your turn–working moms of the world…

TELL ME what you want me to understand!

One rule-  My blog is a place for all mom’s. I won’t allow a war to break out and mommy-bashing to begin. This rule holds for the duration… just sayin. The goal is to understand, not to argue who’s right or wrong.  Or, what’s harder or easier. Those arguments divide us. They weaken (I posit they could destroy) the mothering community.

In 20 years of mothering, and working with hundreds of moms through MOPS International- I can assure you of this: Being a mom (of any kind) is hard.  We each have a unique set of challenges, different, but equally difficult. And we cannot mother alone. We need each other.


I stood at the top of  32 concrete steps, straddling my trusty Bubble-Yum pink , Huffy dirt bike, one foot firmly on the concrete, the other on the bike’s pedal.  The steps followed the hill’s steeply contoured driveway down and around from the church’s front door/ drop off spot, to the parking lot.  

This was our favorite and most fearful spot to ride bikes.   I could feel the pink rubber hand grips rubbing the crook of my thumb raw as I twisted my hands nervously.  I knew I was going to make it- I’d done it before.. but still.. I was afraid. My stomache flip-flopped.

32 jolting, jarring steps, building speed, then the long SWOOP, of smooth concrete  where we coasted all the way around the back of the building, finally pedalling again when it was time to climb back up to the top of the hill, to do it again.

Maybe it was luck  or divine intervention, maybe it was skill, but we made it.  Mostly.  And, when we didn’t?  Our bumps and bruises, bloodied knees and road rashed palm injuries,  became badges of courage, not deterrants.  We started to carry bandaids in our bike baskets and seat packs.  We bound up our injuries like a mash unit on site.

What would have scared our mothers to death (had they known what we were doing) was to us- a challenge to be conquered.  And conquer we did. Together, one after another, learning form each others experiences.  We learned that the key was to keep the handle bars aimed  STRAIGHT ahead  and NOT to stop pedaling.  “KEEP PEDALING, you’re almost there!” we screamed to each other. And we did.

Lately, watching the news and hearing how it’s affecting people close to me- has felt a lot like standing at the top of those church steps and riding down, over and over again.  Economic crisis. foreclosure, job loss, bankruptcy, bailouts, ballistic missle testing, starvation, addictions and AIDs..the list of jolting bumps continues.  

Each one is like another concrete step– ”  BANG, BANG, BUMP.” I can feel the jarring jolt as each one touches- me, my family, friends and the world around us. It’s overwhelming, frightening.  Each day you stand at the top of the steps and wonder if you’ll make it down, unscathed.

The difference is-this set of steps can’t be avoided.  I can’t turn around and ride home safely.  However- we can encourage each other, we can care for the bumps, bruises and bloodied knees that we come into contact with. I know this- we are not the first generation to face this kind of crisis and it will end in a coast leading to another hill to climb. 

Today,  I encourage you-keep your wheel turned straight ahead– and KEEP pedaling.  I know the economy sucks, I know the needs are overwhelming and so are the crisis’ we are facing, nationally and individually.  But, we can make it.  We can remind each other to “KEEP your wheel straight! Keep pedaling!” We can help to bind up each others bloodied knees and road rashed palms. Other Someday they will be our generations badges of courage. Reminders of how we made it. through, together.  If we just keep pedaling.

1 Cor 9:24-27

 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

I stood in the grocey aisle at Target, contemplating cereal options, when I heard THAT SOUND.  The tiny in volume (but so loud to a mom’s ears) *choke, cough, cough, gurgle.spew.” 

I turned to look. (it’s a mom thing, I can’t help it.) There, between milk and eggs, was a red cart loaded with diapers, juice and necessities.  In the front rode a tiny, pink cheeked diva, complete with leopard print coat. 

She was smiling.  Her mom was not.  Her mom’s ponytailed head darted from side to side- while her grimace and out-stretched, cupped hands said it all.  The baby had spit up and she’d caught it.  Literally.

Unfortunately- also like most moms, she then had no idea what to do with “it”.  I grabbed the paper towel roll out of my cart and ran over, ripping it open as I went. (I paid for it when I left:P)

Relief washed over her face.  I smiled.  “Been there, caught that.”  The baby smiled.  She cooed. Mommy cleaned herself up and we laughed that “we’re in this together” kind of laugh. I held my hands out to take the papertowels. (of course- again: I couldn’t help it!) She said she had it.  

“Are you ok?  You need anything else?” I asked.  

“No- Thanks.. All I could think was, that I had to get the cart all the way to the bathroom.. holding that!”  We laughed again. I told her she’ll make it.  I’ve caught my share too, and that it ends… my 19 year old rarely spits up anymore.

Then, we both finished our shopping.

Was it earth shattering?  Did I rescue her from impending doom?  Nope. But, I did what I could.

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
Mother Teresa

Dear Lord- I pray that you’d bless that mom and her little cutie pie-.I pray that she’d know that the reason I was compelled to help- was partly beause of a mother’s instinct- but also- because YOU’VE helped me so much, that I long to help others.  I love you Lord- amen.