No Perfect Mamas Allowed

momsnightout

Have you seen Moms Night Out? It’s hilarious. I made my husband take me to see it in the theater. He was amazed at how good it was. He prefers action/adventure movies, but I have scored quite a few victories lately with the movies I’ve picked, and he is looking at me with new admiration for my movie-choosing abilities.

But, anyway, back to Moms Night Out…

The story is about a Mommy who is discontent and dissatisfied with her life. She loves her life of being a stay-at-home mom raising her children, but she feels like she is not doing it very well. She feels like something is missing. She is also a Mommy blogger. That doesn’t seem to be going very well, either. She doesn’t have very many followers. She struggles to write a single post.

Her life doesn’t feel very significant. She doesn’t feel like she really has anything to say. Her house is a mess. Her children are running wild, making more messes. She is tired. But she feels like she has no right to be tired, because she isn’t doing enough to keep her house and children tidy, so why is she so tired? It’s all out of control. Her life is out of control and not the way she wants it to be.

She thinks she just needs a break. Her husband thinks she does, too, so he helps her arrange a night out with two friends, who are also moms.

While the moms are away, pandemonium breaks out in their homes. Pandemonium also breaks out in their planned night of fun and relaxation away from kids and the pressures of home.

The whole movie is full of PANDEMONIUM! Which makes it hilarious.

But there is a serious side that I can relate to only too well.

I have felt very ill-equipped for this housewife thing. Early on in my journey as a stay-at-home mom, I realized that I quit teaching and most of my outside activities, like singing in church and teaching Sunday School, which made me feel pretty successful and accomplished, and I felt like I was good at, to become a homemaker/mother/full-time teacher to my own kids, none of which I was very good at.

Especially the homemaker part. I don’t like to clean. I don’t like to cook. I don’t even like to eat that much, so it’s hard for me to think of what to make for dinner. All I really want to do is read and learn and talk about what I’m learning. Or just be by myself and think about what I’m learning.

None of this is conducive to being a good housewife, homemaker, mother, or even a full-time teacher!

So, basically, I quit what I was good at – to do what I’m not good at. And nobody even pays me or grades me or rewards me for all of the time and effort I’m putting in. I don’t even get a pat on the back or a “good job” or “thank you, Mommy” or “thank you, Honey”. Boy, do I feel unappreciated. I feel so insignificant. I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything important. And I feel like I’m doing a terrible job at the only thing I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Sally Clarkson talks about this problem in her book Own Your Life. She felt the same way when she started out as a mother. She had never been around children much and saw herself as a professional woman. She found herself pregnant at 42, raising 3 children already, feeling clueless about motherhood and overwhelmed by the needs of her children and family.

I know God has called me to stay home with my children and raise them. I know He has called me to homeschool them.

So why am I not doing a better job at it? Why is it so hard? Why do I try to find anything else to do besides spend one-on-one time with my children?

I used to earn good grades, and that made studying worth it. Then I made a paycheck, and that made teaching worth it. And I had kids in a structured environment who adored me and obeyed me, and then they went home.

Now I have to cook, clean, organize, schedule, plan, clean, cook, tidy up, organize, try to think up ideas for dinner, go grocery shopping, do things for other people all the time, be interrupted from what I really want to do to do something for somebody else, wash dishes, cook, do laundry, go grocery shopping, clean up other people’s messes – and not get paid for any of it!

Boy, do I feel insignificant, unappreciated, and many times downright invisible.

At the same time, I feel very fulfilled, blessed and full of purpose. I feel like I have learned something, like I am doing something right, and I want to share it with others.

Do I have multiple personalities? Am I schizophrenic?

I don’t think so.

Along the way, I have learned some things. The Lord showed me that He is very pleased by all the little things I do for my children, and that they are very important and significant. Even mundane things like changing diapers, giving baths, dressing them, feeding them, cleaning up their messes – all of the things we have to do as moms.

He spoke this to me personally, so that I would know it in my heart, not just my head.

He also told me that He delights in me. Again, He spoke this to me personally, so that I would know it was for me, not just a general statement for all mankind.

He has never reprimanded me for my messy house. He has never seemed disappointed in me when I finally return to Him in prayer after an absence of days or weeks or months. He has always just been happy to hear from me again, happy to have me back and lets me know that there is no condemnation from Him, just patient waiting for my return.

He doesn’t expect me to do more than I am capable of. He knows that I am just dust. He knows that I am selfish. He knows that I feel like I’m not as good as other moms at just about everything that is expected of moms.

But He doesn’t care about any of that. He delights in me. He spoke that to my heart one night in the year 2003. And since then, He has spoken it to me again many times through other people and in many different ways.

So I am convinced now that if the Creator of the Universe delights in me, I must be okay.

I don’t have to be good at anything. I just have to be his daughter and love Him. That’s all He wants from me. Because He loves me, I want to know Him and love Him. And I trust Him, and I obey Him. It’s that simple. It’s about being, not doing. I’m being His daughter. He made me so He could love me. I find this to be very profound. I don’t have to earn His love – in fact, I can’t. Nobody can. He set it up so that He gives us everything. All He wants from us is our love and faith.

The life that we live each day flows from this. Knowing His love for us and growing in our love and faith in Him.

In the words of the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about. 🙂

ownyourlifebook not perfect

In her book, Own Your Life, Sally Clarkson calls this “owning your life”. Each of us has our own cup. God has given each of us our own life, and we need to accept it as it is and make the best of it. Which means that we really make it the best it can be. We do whatever it takes to live the best life we can and become the best version of “me” that we can be.

Circumstances change. Trials come and go. Things stay messy and chaotic, since circumstances change and trials come and go.

I am still not perfect. But I can see some improvement. I have learned a few things.

The things I have learned have helped me to stop comparing myself to others, to stop expecting too much from myself and others, and to focus on the things that matter most – the eternal things. The things that make life worth living.

Relationships.

Enjoying life.

Loving my family well.

Fulfilling my calling of motherhood, being a loving wife, and discipling the ones He has given me.

Pouring out my life for them in my imperfect way with my imperfect love that I can’t even feel at times.

This will not make me famous or popular or rich.

But I know a secret.

I’m making my Daddy proud. He dances over me. He sings over me. He delights in me.

And that’s all that matters.

Welcome to This Journey of Love

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  • Welcome to my world!

    I hope you’ll stay.

    Since Father’s love changed me

    I have something to say.

  • The One who loves me,

    See, He also loves you

    The things He’s done for me

    He will do for you, too.

  • So come with me

    As I follow the Lamb

    Wherever He goes.

    My life’s in His hand.

  • I trust Him and follow Him

    No matter the cost.

    Without His great love for me

    I would be lost.

  • The words that you find here

    I hope will breathe life.

    In each day and moment

    You’ll find His delight.

  • For surely His love for you

    Is greater than you know.

    Come with me now

    To His presence we’ll go.

    P.M.D.

  • Journey of Fire

    I can’t seem to write the kind of posts I intended to write when I started this blog. I wanted to write about our Journey of Fire and what we learned through it. For some reason, I don’t seem to want to talk about it. Not here anyway. When we meet someone new, we often tell them little bits and pieces about it, and they ask questions and we end up telling them more. And it’s enjoyable to reminisce about the miraculous ways that God provided for us. But to just sit down and write about it is not so enjoyable. Maybe it’s still too fresh. Maybe I’ve blocked it out, and it’s hard to bring it back up in my memory when I intentionally try to write about it.

    I don’t know, but some day I think I will write about some of it here. I think that’s part of why I was supposed to start this blog.

    Maybe I’m waiting for the day when the Journey of Fire is really over.

    My Blog Was Hacked! But Now It’s Back!

    Somebody did a very mean thing to my blog. They put malware on every single file of my blog. I’m not sure what all that means, but I had to get professional help to get it cleaned off and make my blog safe again. As far as I know, nobody else was infected if they tried to come here. Google blocked my blog and wouldn’t let anybody get into it for several days. It was known as an attack site! My poor little blog – an attack site!

    But it’s all clear now, and the group I got to clean it off is still monitoring it for malware. I used Sucuri.net to get it taken care of. They did a good job, because it’s back in action and working fine now.

    I did have a little problem after they first cleaned off all the malware. None of my links worked inside my blog. I couldn’t get from one post to another, I couldn’t click on a category and get to it. Nothing was really working. The only page anybody could get to was the home page. Jocelyn Dixon did some work on it, and something she did may have fixed it or Sucuri may have done something. I don’t know, but I’m thankful to have my blog working again!

    Today is the first day it has really been fully functional since before Christmas. So I’m back – did ya miss me? I missed you! I’m so glad to have my blog back to work and play with.

    On Losing Your House

    Well, I can finally talk about it after 7 years. We lost our house to foreclosure on Mar. 1, 2005. I haven’t wanted to talk about it openly because it seems like a bad testimony – at first.

    Gary lost his job in Dec. of 2001, right after 9/11. When I saw what was happening that day, I told my mom on the phone, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” I didn’t know it, but I was prophesying. It really was the end of the world as we knew it. Gary’s company laid off about a third of their employees a couple of months after that, and Gary was one of the lucky ones.

    We really did see it that way. Things had been really bad there at his job – with people planting things in his personnel file to make him look bad, accusing him of things he didn’t do, etc. He was ready to meet a few guys in the parking lot or just quit. He had been trying to start his own technical writing business on the side, so when his job ended, we thought God was setting him free from a job so he could work from home. We were kind of excited about the whole thing. The only problem was, God didn’t do what we expected Him to do. We were assuming a lot of things. We didn’t really pray about the business. It just seemed like the logical thing to do, and it was what we wanted.

    But Gary couldn’t stir up any business because at the time, nobody in our area wanted to contract out their technical writing work, which involves the documentation (operator’s manuals, troubleshooting manuals, etc.) they have to provide along with their product. Every manufacturing business he called said they were handling it from inside and didn’t need any help from outside. They were all trying to save money, and trying to hang on to what they had instead of putting out more money during those uncertain economic times. Nobody knew what was going to happen after the World Trade Center was taken out.

    So Gary finally went to the Lord about it after so many disappointing calls and no results, and the Lord told him He wanted him to lay his Isaac down. He knew that meant his business. He did not want to give up on it, but he knew he had to obey God. God also told him not to look for another job.

    So we knew that our time of living by faith was starting in earnest now. I was excited about it. I had been wanting to just trust the Lord for provision and see what He would do. I had read lots of testimonies about God providing for people in miraculous ways.

    So we lived by faith from the time his 6 week severance pay ran out. We got Unemployment and food stamps for a while, but that opened up a whole can of worms that I’ll write about another time. We were forgetting something important. We kept forgetting to pray about things before we did them. And we kept finding ourselves in messes.

    But God did sustain us supernaturally for 4 years with no income, and we never went hungry. We didn’t have one single bit of income from the end of 2002 until Gary got a job at Walmart in Kansas City in 2006. We are not from Kansas City. The house we lost was in Ohio where we both had lived our whole lives. Our families are all still there. But we’re not. God had other plans for us.

    When we first started trusting God to provide everything, He did some amazing, miraculous things for us. Gary asked the Lord what he was supposed to do if he wasn’t supposed to get another job. And the Lord told him to go pray in the field every day. We had a field right beside our house. So Gary went out there every day and prayed. He wasn’t even sure what to pray sometimes, but he went out in obedience. Meanwhile, I was in the house with the kids handling everything by myself as I had always done, but I was not happy that Gary wasn’t helping me since he was home now. We had 6 children, 10 and under at the time. I did all of the care of the nursing baby, the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, educating, and keeping toddlers from destroying everything and themselves, while Gary went out and prayed and then went into his office and did whatever he did in there. He didn’t help any more than when he had a job, and I was getting very resentful.

    I finally made a list of everything that needed to be done each day. I checked the things that I would do and asked him to check the things that he would do. He checked a bunch of things, but he didn’t really follow through on many of them. I don’t think he knew how to do them.

    About that time we met a man from Nigeria who started mentoring Gary. He taught Gary that he needed to make sure his wife’s needs were met before anybody else’s. Every time he called, the first thing he asked was, “How is your wife?” Gary would look over at me and ask me how I was. At first I found it kind of annoying because I always assumed I was fine. After a while, I caught on and realized that I was feeling pressured and tired because too much was on my shoulders, and I started really telling him how I was. Then he started understanding how I really felt and what I really needed and how he could help and things really changed after that. He started spending more time in the house with us, interacting with us and helping with things that needed to be done. He took over the grocery shopping, and he started cooking. I found out he was a very good cook! He had always told me he was, and I finally got to see it and taste it.

    Gary started enforcing the rules of the house and making the kids do the chores that I had been trying to get them to do but just couldn’t make happen because I wasn’t really sure I should be asking such a thing from them.

    He got more involved with the family and learned how to be an integral part of our family.

    We still had trials and problems, but we had learned to pray together as a couple and as a whole family. We prayed together every day.

    God provided food every day. Sometimes He used people to bring us groceries or give us money. Sometimes He used food banks at churches. But we never went hungry the whole time. Our bills got paid, too. God gave a friend of a friend a dream about us, and she brought us a check for $1000 and leftover food from their company Christmas party. A group of our friends put their money together and gave us enough money that we could get something for the kids for Christmas that year. We got several anonymous money orders in the mail inside cards that were signed “From Jesus”. Gary had money slipped into his hand during handshakes many times at the small worship group we attended. We never told anybody our needs.

    God paid our mortgage many times through friends. We paid a double payment on our mortgage during our first year of living by faith and the next month we paid a payment and a half. I thought, “Wow, this living by faith is great!” But I started to get kind of dependent on the mailbox instead of God for our provision. I started feeling kind of neglected because our needs were barely being met, and none of our wants were being met.

    We had to do without a lot. We never went to stores. Gary did all the grocery shopping, and he only got the bare essentials.

    Then the supernatural provision for the mortgage stopped coming in. We had been watching Kenneth Copeland – Gary did more than I did really, but I couldn’t really get the faith message into my spirit. I kept trying to earn what the Lord wanted me to use faith for. I couldn’t use my faith to receive because I didn’t really believe that was right or that it would really work.

    The day came when we knew that the bank had us in foreclosure. We prayed that God would keep us in our house. We had marched around our property praying and giving it to God. We tried to sell the house since we couldn’t keep up mortgage payments, but it wouldn’t sell. We didn’t know what God was doing! We didn’t try to make plans for a place to go because we thought that would show a lack of faith.

    We just prayed that God would do something miraculous when they came to make us leave our house. Well, He did, but it wasn’t what we were expecting – at all.

    On Feb. 22, 2005 we all gathered in the living room to pray. The little ones were still in bed asleep. The twins were only 1 year old. Morgan was 4. The knock came at the door. Gary answered the door and let the sheriff in. Two other men followed him in. They looked around the room in amazement at all of us calmly sitting in the living room – Shawn, Katie, Patrick, Anna and Kelsey and me. They asked what we were doing, and Gary told them we were praying. They kind of looked at each other and shook their heads. Gary said he would go wake the other children. One of the men followed him to the kids’ bedroom. The sheriff asked me if we had somewhere to go and I told him no. He asked if we had family in the area, and I said we did, but we couldn’t go to live with them. He seemed perplexed. So was I. Where was God? Where was that miracle we were looking for?

    They guy who followed Gary into the bedroom came out and conversed with the sheriff. They went outside to talk. Then they came back in and called me and Gary to talk with them privately in our bedroom. The guy’s name was Tony. He was from MERS. They were the mortgage people. He told us that he had made some phone calls and told them what he found. They agreed to let us stay in the house one more week if we promised to pack up and be ready to leave the house in that time. We agreed. Then he asked the sheriff to leave so he could speak to us privately. He asked us if we had any food. We had just run out of food that morning. For the first time during the whole 4 years, we didn’t have cereal or milk or the makings for a meal. I told him that. He nodded and said, “I thought so.” He and the other guy (who we found out was a realtor that was going to handle selling the house for the mortgage company) put money together and gave us $500! And then Tony told us to give him a grocery list and he would go buy us groceries. And then he took an order from us and went to McDonald’s and doubled everything we ordered and brought it to us. He went to the grocery store and got us twice the stuff we had put on the grocery list, too. He said that in the future it could be him in this situation and he was showing mercy in hopes that he would be shown mercy if it ever happened to him. We were so grateful and shocked at everything he was doing. We sang some songs for him. He couldn’t believe us. He took Gary aside and remarked about how calm we all were and how well-mannered all of the children were. He asked how we did it. Gary told him we were just believing God to take care of us, and we prayed all the time, and we were trying to obey Him. Tony was blown away by the whole thing.

    We spent that week packing halfheartedly. I still didn’t believe that God would let us lose our house. I thought He was going to rush in with some kind of miracle that would let us keep our house. I took some special things that I didn’t want to lose over to Mom’s house, but I didn’t tell her why. I didn’t want to upset her, and I didn’t want anybody to hurt my faith.

    The next Saturday was Mar. 1, 2005. They came with movers and moving trucks and started loading up our stuff. There was still a lot to pack, so they had to do it for us. Tony told me I had to leave and take the kids, but Gary could stay and help pack. I got the kids loaded in the van, then sat there. I had no place to go. That’s when it hit me that we were really going to have to find somewhere else to live and that our house was no longer ours. But I still didn’t know where to go, so I just sat there. Finally, my friend Gina who had been helping me pack told me to come to her house. I followed her then went into her tiny house and sat, not knowing what to do. She called a few friends and asked if they knew of any place for rent, but nobody did. She made a decision and told me that we could stay at her house. I couldn’t believe it or see that it was possible. She said that she would pay for a hotel for us for 2 nights and she and her daughter would clear out 2 bedrooms for us and we could just stay there until we found something else.

    Meanwhile, back at the house that was no longer ours, Tony was doing some more amazing things to help us. He told Gary to find a local storage facility to take our stuff to so that we could actually get to it instead of the movers taking it to some warehouse where we could never get to it and would never see it again. Gary found out where a storage place was, and Tony had the movers put our stuff in two storage units there. Then Tony paid the first month’s storage!

    He talked to Gary about programs that would help us find a place to live and help him find a job, but we didn’t feel that we were supposed to go that route, so we politely turned down any of those offers.

    I know now that I should have been standing on the Word and saying it and believing it instead of just hoping that it was true, but really doubting in my heart. I should have saturated myself in faith teaching and saying the Word over and over again, but I wasn’t convinced in my heart.

    God had to take us through a lot to build true faith in my heart. In the process, He built up my kids’ faith so that they trust God for everything. My prayers for my children that they would believe in Him, know Him and love Him with all their hearts have been answered. It was a difficult journey, but the results have been very good.

    Gary and I are still recovering from the shock. But there’s no denying that God took good care of us through the whole ordeal. We never went hungry, and we always had a roof over our heads. Even in Arizona, Colorado and Missouri, where we didn’t know a soul and we didn’t have any money.

    I tell this story in the hopes that someone who is facing foreclosure or something similar will be encouraged to trust God and know that no matter what happens, God will take care of you. He takes us where we are and makes all things work together for our good even if we’re not to the point where we can use our faith like the Copelands do.

    Our story isn’t over. I believe with all of my heart that God has great things in store for us. I believe He will give us a house and land debt-free. I’m saying these things out loud now. I really believe them now. Our situation now is so much better than it was in Ohio in so many ways. And the best is yet to come! For those who believe!