Jun 23, 2014

I've moved!

When I started this blog I spent all this time figuring out what to call it. I settled on "and a mom" because - at the time - I didn't want to be JUST a mom. I wanted to be a lot of other things AND a mom. Over time that belief changed. I grew up, my child grew up an I began to understand just how important this mom thing is. (We're talking shaping a human being. An entire human.) I realized that there is no (NO) situation where the word JUST and MOM should be in the same sentence. (Unless it's "Just let mom take a nap." That works.)

I'm not a lot of things and a mom. I'm a mom. Am I other things, too? Absolutely. Does being Brynna's mom define me? Not completely. It's not her job to define me. I am who God made me to be to do the things He created me to do. But one of those things is to be her mom. Not just to birth her or put up with her. To be a real mom - one who admits that some days I do feel like there isn't much to call my own, and one who does it anyway. I soon learned that there are a lot of girls who feel just like me. They feel less than perfect. Every. Single. Day. Of the week.

So when God said I was supposed to speak, mentor and teach women about being moms I thought... (Well, at first I assumed He was crazy. I didn't tell Him because He's God but I thought it.) I thought "I'm the least qualified person EVER to do such a thing." My child isn't that old. My experience isn't that great. My knowledge isn't... My age isn't... (I'll spare you the details. It was a long list.) What God assured me is that none of those were a surprise to Him. And what I lack, He is.

I'm less than perfect SO THAT He can be more than enough.

Living that way is waaaay easier said than done. It doesn't just take a mom to admit that. It takes a REAL MOM. It takes guts to admit you don't have all the answers and even more guts to trust God (not yourself, your friends or the latest NY Times bestseller) to make up the difference.

That's why the name changed. That's why realmom.org is my new home. Because while yes, I'm a mom in addition to everything else...it matters what kind of mom I am.

So I hope you'll join me at my new home. I hope you'll walk with me and be real with me. I hope you'll teach me what being real looks like at your house and forgive me when I tell you what it looks like at mine.

From now on, you'll find me blogging here
Or you can find me on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

Hope to see you soon!

May 9, 2014

The Heart of a Mom: Part 3

You know that feeling when you hope desperately for something, only to get it and realize it's way harder than you thought it would be? You feel like you can't tell anyone how difficult it is because it may seem you're ungrateful for what you know is a blessing. I call that the toddler years. I call that the teenage years. I call that motherhood.

Birthing a kid is fairly easy. Painful, yes, but relatively short-lived. Being a mom - a REAL MOM - is  hard. It will take you to the point where you think you have nothing else to give and ask a little more. It will push you to the edge of what you think you can handle. Motherhood will make you hurt, cry, give and love more than you ever knew possible.

The heart of a mom is unending. It's the closest thing to understanding infinity because no matter what they need, you will provide. You will look at a well that feels empty and draw water when they are thirsty. The heart of a mom is tough. You will endure pain if it helps them. You will go without if they have a need. The heart of a mom is deep. The heart of a mom is wide.

If you are a mom, a REAL MOM, I pray this Mother's Day is one to reflect on why you do what you do. Whether they burn the breakfast or don't make one, you get to shape the people they will be. Whether you are spoiled or on your own, whether you think you're failing and succeeding...you are more than enough. I pray Mother's Day will be a day for you to know that no matter what your situation looks like, you are loved. You are doing a job more important than any other. You are being the hands and feet of the God who created those lives you shape each day.

I pray you enjoy Mother's Day even if they say or do all the wrong things (or don't say anything at all). Because the heart of a mom is close to the heart of God.

Happy Mother's Day, my friends. I love you more than you know. I'm proud of the women you are. I'm blessed by the love you pour out.

I'm grateful we each have the heart of a mom.

May 8, 2014

The Heart of a Mom: Part 2

Every woman has the heart of mom within her. We were designed to nurture life. The way we walk that out, though, looks different for each of us. Some women choose not to have kids; some nurture life in a doctor's office or classroom. Some women nurture the lives of natural children they birthed and others nurture adopted children who were birthed in their hearts.

While Mother's Day is for all of us, it's especially hard for some of us. For some women, each May reminds them of the child(ten) they lost. For some it's a painful memory of a decision to end a life. For so many among us, Mother's Day with empty arms reminds them of the depth of their hurt. For these women, Mother's Day is a balancing act. They want to rejoice with friends and family; they want to celebrate the women nurturing life around them. But you can be happy and sad at the same time. You can rejoice for her while your heart is breaking. For so many women I know, this holiday is one of their hardest days a year.

The last thing a woman wants when she's hurting is to be alone. But so often, the loss of a child - whether by miscarriage, still birth or abortion, whether intentionally or by accident - makes you feel just that. It's like an invisible line is drawn in the sand and you're on one side or the other. You've been there or you haven't. You know that pain or you can't imagine it.

But every woman has the heart of a mom. We were designed to nurture life - especially in one another. We were created to bear each other's burdens and carry each other's loads. We are never stronger than when we walk hand-in-hand, when we pick each other up when we fall and carry each other when one is too weak. To do that, we have to be real - we have to honestly share with one another and be wiling to walk through even the stuff that hurts.

If you, like me, are on the side of that invisible line that hasn't experienced the loss of a child personally, let me say on behalf of all of us....we say dumb stuff. We don't meant it, but in our self-absorbed happy perspective, we don't stop to think about what this day means to some. We ask questions that feel like salt on an open wound. We make comments that pierce like a knife. My hope is that this Mother's Day can be different.

Here are a few suggestions. These are not meant to be exhaustive or concrete but rather a starting point - a way to think a little differently and make her day a little brighter.

1. Don't ask "When are you going to hurry up and have kids?" It's really not a good idea on any day, but especially around this day. If she has no kids, there's a reason and you don't need to know it. More importantly, she doesn't need to say it. Imagine the pain of being asked that question when all you want is a baby of your own. Imagine the answers she wants to give you when you imply that it's her choice.

2. Similarly, don't ask "Why don't you have kids yet?" if you aren't prepared for the answer. You've backed her into a corner. Either she can smile and lie or say in the middle of brunch that her uterus isn't capable of carrying a baby to term or she does have children but they live in Heaven. Just don't make her. Just talk about the other ways you see her nurturing life around her. Compliment her giving spirit, her tender heart and her willing hands.

3. Don't say "You know what makes babies, right?" (or any derivative of a similar joke) Anyone over the age of sex ed knows what makes babies. And I assure you, she isn't doing it wrong. While it may be meant in jest, it hurts. The stress a marriage endures through infertility and/or the loss of a child is indescribable. The last thing she needs is to defend publicly the relationship she's trying desperately to hold together through sadness, pain and anger.

4. If you know she's experienced a loss, don't ignore her. Don't assume she doesn't want to be invited or wouldn't have something to add to the conversation. Don't think your joy makes her sad. Her loss makes her sad. Your joy might just pull her through. So don't enforce the invisible line. Cross it. Love her. Hold her hand. Walk beside her regardless of what it looks like.

My prayer is that we learn to see the world through each other's eyes. My hope is that we get stronger as we walk together - that we lift each other up, wipe each other's tears and hold each other's hands. Because every woman has the heart of a mom.

May 5, 2014

The Heart of a Mom: Part 1

They made an announcement at church yesterday about Mother's Day next weekend. As he reminded everyone to do something special for moms, Andrew jokingly asked if you have to be a mom to "qualify." Everyone laughed and it was kind of left hanging until I stood up to teach, at which point I assured everyone in the room that you don't have to be a mom. I urged them that when in doubt, you buy flowers. That's really just a good male-life-preserving rule to live by. It really doesn't matter who's right or wrong, what you do or don't know. When in doubt, buy flowers. Of course if you know her wants/tastes better, go with that. My point is: gifts make girls happy. Period. Not because we are greedy, but because we were designed to desire being cherished. So cherish her. You can get an "I'm not even a mom!" kiss or the alternative. The choice is yours. I'm just saying...

While all of the above is true, there's another reason I made a point to answer the rhetorical question "do you have to be a mom to qualify". This question bothers me. I wasn't offended. I'm not being a crazy fanatic. This just happens to be one of those things I can't joke about. It's too personal. I'm too passionate. Do you have those things? Things you feel so strongly about that even though you know no one meant any harm, you just can't take it lightly?

This is it for me.

If you are a woman, you were designed with an innate ability to nurture. Even if you think that doesn't apply to you or that's not how you want to see yourself - you were created to nurture life in those around you. They may be your own kids or someone else's. They may be in your classroom or down the street. You may nurture by spending time or speaking encouragement or standing firm when all they're used to is shaky ground.

That's the definition of a mom. Moms do the work. They give hugs, hold hands and speak Truth. They discipline when necessary and wipe tears afterwards. They feed and teach and love.

Whether the children she nurtures live in her house or not, each woman has the heart of a mom within her. Our culture doesn't always think that way. We reward those who "overcome stereotypes." We applaud those who live counter to the "traditional roles of women." Now you all know I'm the first to say girls are strong and powerful and can do anything they put their minds to. This is not an anti-feminist rant. This is me, reminding you, that in your heart, whether anyone sees or knows...you are a mom. You were created to nurture life.

That woman you sit near at work - she's a mom. It may not be by choice that she's never had kids. It may be that her kids live in Heaven. It may be that she's chosen not to have children of her own. Either way, get her flowers. You don't have to know the answers to those questions. She's already qualified.

Her heart is the heart of a mom.

Apr 30, 2014

What I Learned Without Information

Information. That's what we tell ourselves. We say it's all in the name of knowledge. We say we aren't addicted to social media, we just want to be informed. We say it's necessary to inundate ourselves with a constant stream of stimulation so we don't miss anything. The thing is, I learned more in the 40 days without that information than I ever did in the midst of it. I learned so much that I've yet to put the Facebook app back on my phone and if given the option to sit and wait for Brynna to finish Kumon or read my Twitter feed, I just wait. And my phone sits in my pocket. Or...dare I say it...in the car. Because I'm not going to die if it's more than 10 feet from me.

So here's what I learned without all that information:

I think in Tweets
Example: My parents visit and take Brynna and her buddy to Disney on Ice. Although I was never allowed to do so as a child, the girls eat popcorn, cotton candy and sno cones. My first thought is "Grandparenting 101: #love #spoil #repeat"

I don't let it (a lesson or good Word) sink in before I give it away (tweet it)
Quotes that would have been tweeted: 
"If you discount your sin, you discount what God did to forgive it."
"It's far easier to ACT like a Christian than it is to REACT like a Christian. Our reactions reveal who we really are."
"Jesus broke the curse so you could break the cycle."
"If you want all God has to give, you've got to be willing to do all He asks."

God didn't speak more without social media. I could just hear more.

God is never going to shout. He will whisper and wait. The more noise I indulge, the longer it will take.

My friend Courtney did the same challenge over Lent. When she removed the apps from her phone, she said "There's a huge hole where Facebook used to be." She meant on the home screen. It applies to time as well.

When I thought of someone, I called or texted them instead of assuming they saw my last tweet.

The point of posts or tweets is generally to share what's on your mind - not ask someone else what's on theirs.

I pick up my phone approximately 712 times a day

709 of the times I pick up my phone, it looks exactly the same as the time before

Picking up my phone is more habit than interest
I checked my email and the weather 100 times a day because it was the only thing left on my phone to refresh and Heaven forbid if I didn't know the SECOND something changed.

I don't actually NEED my phone 24 hours a day.

I needed a better news app. Using Facebook to know what's going on in the world is both sad and misleading. I am now actually informed about real events that happened instead of 200 people's opinions about what happened

The news makes me sad.
That's kind of a beside-the-point. But it does. We are so appalled at how a man could be mistreated while being executed while we support millions of babies dying every day.

But the best thing I learned without all that information is this:
It doesn't matter. Information is good; don't get me wrong. But my reading, hearing or saying it, doesn't make it true. Whether I know about it or not, God will comfort someone who mourns today. He will make sure the earth spins on it's axis.

And He will do it all without my help.

Apr 25, 2014

10 Things I Wanted to Tweet: Part 2

If you aren't willing to OBEY it, it doesn't do much good to PRAY it.

Why walk when you've got Daddy? #RidinInStyle

There are very few things Sour Patch Kids can't heal

"Your life follows your words. What you say and listen to matters." @vickiyohe @tocmc #DiamondsConference

Real men send flowers #realman #ImGrateful

This girl. #ImGrateful @saraeshields

I double dog pound dare you to listen to #Happy and not dance. @pharrell #YouCantDoIt #ClapAlong

Most of us are already educated far beyond our level of obedience. We just need to DO what we already KNOW. @stevenfurtick #CrashTheChatterbox

He's hungry #ThatsAWholeChicken #happyplate @HavenHouston

I feel like there was a better way to do this...

Apr 23, 2014

10 Things I Wanted to Tweet: Part 1

So I gave up social media for Lent, and I have to say...it was hard. But it was also life changing. That sounds crazy to say, but it was. I won't be the same after this 40+ days without the endless stream of information we've come to think we need. I learned a lot. I learned the things we all do when we unplug from the noise and see what's really important. I realized who and what is most important to me. But I also had a few revelations that surprised me. One was that social media has really great, redeeming qualities. There are friends and family I love who don't live nearby and our schedules rarely allow us to connect face-to-face. I missed those people deeply. I missed seeing their kids do silly things and all the other stuff we post day-to-day that allows us to have a window into each other's lives. And I missed sharing those things. And CLEARLY, you missed me. Right? (Smile and nod.)

I know that for over a month you have been sitting sadly in front of your screen wishing you knew what I was doing that day. I know you couldn't sleep wondering what crazy thing Brynna said or I did in response to something crazy Brynna said.

Alas! Take heart, dear ones. I took notes!

Things I wanted to tweet:

Me: aren't you supposed to be cleaning up? BG: I got distracted looking at how pretty I am #AtLeastShesHonest #GottaWorkOnHumility

Silly Sock Day (I have no other words)

Kids should come with earplugs #Seriously #NotKidding

Fake lips are always funny

Everything you say must be true. But everything true doesn't need to be said. #TrueThat

What you permit, you promote. #WhatAreYouPermitting?

Yep, this is church. Yep, it's Texan Day. #IDontEvenKnowWhatThatMeans #OnlyInTexas

I've worn cowboy boots more in a month in Houston than...well...ever.

"OUTCOME is God's responsibility. OBEDIENCE is mine." @craiggroeschel

Me: Uncle Parker and Brittney are engaged. They are going to get married. BG: Quick. Take a picture of me like this and send it to them. #excitedface