Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A mother's heart - for all the children we never could hold.

I saw a few posts today on Facebook about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. You know, one of those days you probably wouldn't know was a "day" until you did see it floating around on social media.

Well, I joined in. 1 in 4 women suffer from the loss of a child. That's a lot of women! And having been there, I believe it is something to mourn. Some women are effected by this loss more than others for various reasons. But that doesn't so much matter. A life is a life is a life. And with the loss of life, mourning and grief is called for.

Our oldest daughter was just shy of one year old when we found out we were pregnant again. I still remember showing Aaron the pregnancy test that evening. I remember calling our families. I was thrilled. We were having another child! Fourteen weeks later, God had a different plan. I found out the child in my womb had died. And because I was fourteen weeks along, they did not want me to wait to "pass" the child on my own. So I went in for surgery (but only after 6 ultrasounds to be SURE). A D&C is what they called it. At one point, the Dr. referred to it as a "spontaneous abortion". That didn't seem right. I did not choose this. I was heartbroken. This child had grown in me. I fell in love with her from the moment I thought she may be. Before that, probably. I had the procedure done, and all I remember is waking up from surgery with the most incredible void I have ever felt in my life. My womb was empty. My child was not safe with me where she belonged. She was gone.  Forever. That is a feeling that I cannot put into words. But I know I am not alone. 1 out of every 4 of you know what I'm talking about (assuming you are females).

I grieved. A lot.

A song called, Glory Baby, by Watermark was on repeat for months. I would drive the NJ Parkway with Providence asleep in the back and that song playing over and over and over.

Glory Baby, you slipped away as fast as we could say baby. You were growing. What happened Dear, you disappeared on us baby. Heaven will hold you, before we do. Heaven will keep you safe, until we're home with you. But I'll miss you everyday, miss you in every way, but we know there's a day when we will see you. So baby let sweet Jesus hold you, till mom and dad can hold you. You'll just have heaven before we do.

13 years later, and I just typed those words out from memory as if I had just thought of them. They hold fresh in my heart as if it were yesterday. Sara Allison Britton was my daughter. For 14 short weeks, I got to love her. I got to bond with her. I was the only one who knew her. Other than Jesus. He did knit her after all, however perfectly imperfect in my womb. And I believe that her days were known and ordained from the beginning of time - just like yours or mine. She is whole in the arms of Jesus. I'm jealous.

Over the years, I have had some dear friends suffer the loss of children in a depth far greater than I had to endure. It's been heartbreaking. So it seems funny to talk about what I went through. It really could have been worse. I suppose that's always true though, isn't it??? It could always be worse? But women everywhere who have to deal with the loss of a child at any age need to know that it is okay to grieve. A mother loves her child from the second she knows she is carrying the child - which is generally long before a test shows the little pink line. I actually took solace in this truth. If the greatest command is to love God and love others - what an amazing privilege it is as a mom ... I am the only one who knew my daughter - to be the one to have loved her. But that lost love left a broken piece of my heart that I will forever carry.

A mother's love is fierce. It is not to be reckoned with. I've never tried.  
Instead I will carry that brokenness and that love with me.

This is long and sad. Sorry. I'm not done yet, though.

So having experienced such a real pain, and knowing friends who have suffered more than I - where I'm about to take this feels risky. But here I go.

I have now birthed three children, and adopted two. I remember vividly during our first adoption process having a conversation with a man who asked me how I knew I could love my adopted child as my own. We joked about how guys need to see and hold their child to begin to actually love THEM (rather than the idea of them), and women just know and love. I laughed - remembering Sara. While Aaron was a rock during that time - he did not KNOW Sara as I knew her. I told him it was similar to that. While I knew and loved my children from the moment they were growing inside of me, the same was true for my adopted child. I didn't need to see him or hold him. I just knew that I knew that I knew that he was to be mine, and I loved him with this fierce love that claimed him as so.

When Aaron and I began the adoption process the second time around, I very nonchalantly blogged about HOW we started the process, and the two boys involved in bringing us to the place of adopting again. So here is the part that seems calloused to say after having lived through miscarriage and the pain I've seen my friends go through  .....

I was asked this summer what made us pursue adoption the second time around, and for some reason - I began my story talking about these two boys. And I began to cry. WHAT?!? Where in the world did that come from?

The last few weeks, these two boys have come back to my heart and mind in a way I cannot explain. I have cried for them and prayed for them. The good news is, they were probably adopted by someone else. So they are, Lord willing, living a good life. But wow. My mom heart had taken these boys in as if they were my own. If there is such thing as an adoptive miscarriage - I had one with these boys. When we decided to not pursue adopting them, I told Aaron at the time that it felt like I had lost Sara all over again - that is how deeply I loved these boys. But I pushed their memory aside, and for some reason - it has returned. They too, left a piece of my heart broken - never to be whole again. And I don't know what to do with the sorrow.

I know that last paragraph came out of left field (who am I kidding....I know nothing about sports  - what does left field even mean?). But it's where I have been the last few weeks. And it is an awful feeling. So today when I saw that it was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, my heart was to encourage moms that it is OKAY to grieve the loss of your unborn child. And maybe even to tell myself that it is okay to grieve the loss of these two boys. Maybe? I pray they have a mom and a dad that love them as much as I did. Do.


For all the Glory Babies:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Though You Slay Me



If Bloggers blogged (what a funny vocabulary the Internet has brought about) about a bad day, or a hard season, or a friend struck down, or a marriage that was struggling, or loneliness, ....it probably would feel pretty uncomfortable, wouldn't it? Yet every single one of us goes through seasons where we feel uncomfortable....where we feel broken. So why is it uncomfortable to read of someones suffering, I wonder?

In response to some stuff in my own heart right now, and also those around me that I am seeing wrestle through things un-imaginable to me - a song has resurfaced that made its way around the inter-webs a while back. So if you are in a tough season right now, may this bless you.

My favorite line from John Piper in the middle of the song is this:  "Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or the fallen man...every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that."

Did you catch that? "In the path of obedience". Obedience is HARD when you are slain.

Still let our song be:

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fighting for Joy (even when you aren't happy)

**I'm breaking the rules and putting an update BEFORE you read this. Reading through my post, I decided I sounded kind of preachy. Please know I'm preaching to myself. Full disclosure...it's been a tough season - give or take 3 years. So these thoughts, while gleaned from the world around me, are mostly a full reflection of my own heart. I hope you leave here encouraged.**

Joy. It's been on my mind A LOT lately.

I've decided that Christians are some of the most depressed people I've ever met. Now before you get your panties all up in a bunch, just hear me out. We know Jesus. We are called into joy. We are taught through suffering that joy and happiness are two very different things. The Bible doesn't call us to be happy, it calls us to have joy. For those who don't know Jesus, they probably don't have much joy either - but they are really good at faking happiness (or actually just BEING happy), so it often appears that they have more joy. (That sentence made my head hurt. Sorry about that.) But Christians seem to feel the weight of this world, and it robs us of our JOY to the point that we can't even fake happiness. Isn't this world supposed to be better than this? We have Jesus. Surely there is more. Surely it shouldn't feel this hard.

But there in lies our fault.

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I've been pondering a few reasons why it is so hard for Christians to have joy.

1) We fall into a belief that because we follow Jesus, because we've committed everything to Him - that He in turn will remove our sufferings, our sorrows, our pain, our troubles. I mean, really God? I give you everything! The least you can do is take this cup from me. There's two problems with that. One being that He TELLS us in His word that we will have troubles. Why we expect different is beyond me. The second being, He didn't take the cup from Jesus when he was facing death on the cross for the entire world. But us? Somehow we truly believe that we should not have to face the sin and suffering around us.

2)  We think that because God seems to have miracles working in everyone else's favor, and everyone else's lives look better than ours - that somehow we got the short end of the stick. We have some pretty huge spiritual Giants that show us throughout History what the "short end of the stick" really is. Sarah (she waited for just a few years - give or take 90) for her hearts desire to come to be....that of having a child. I was depressed and questioning God when I had to wait one year. In the world of our hearts desires and dreams though - time is a big issue when it comes to joy. Noah had to face all sorts of extremes (including Rock People, apparently) while he waited for the earth and humanity to be renewed. Most of us can't handle when the sun doesn't shine for 3 days straight. (If you suffer from weather related issues, remember this dude.) David was obviously a man of sorrows, depressed, bi-polar, clinical...you name it. Solomon? Don't get me started. Men!! Think of having that many wives? Tell me your heart didn't just sink from the thought alone! And besides that, have you READ Ecclesiastes? "Nothing new under the sun" doesn't exactly bread hope and joy. Job? Duh. Paul? When is the last time you were in prison for spreading the Good News? Jesus. Ouch. Yeah....we have it pretty good.  (Disclaimer: I KNOW our lives are still hard. Stay with me.)

The other major flaw in this is that we quickly become "one-issue voters" (as Aaron likes to call it). We have one thing we cling to so tightly .... if God would just heal me, heal my child, heal my marriage, heal our family, pay off this debt, provide what we {think we} need ... THEN I would believe he loves me and truly is for me. We become so engrossed in these thoughts that we forget the many areas he HAS showed up. In this, we are called to REMEMBER the wondrous works he has done (Psalm 105). They are many.

If we choose to cling so tightly to the one area God isn't showing up the way we want and forgetting all the times he has, we've now reduced the size of the cross to fit neatly into our back pocket only to be pulled out when we need it....but it's hard to bring it back to full size when we've shrunk it for so long.

3) We think that if we struggle, it means we lack faith. So we muster up strength....we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, put on our big girl panties.... We put on a smile and act as if. All the meanwhile, true joy is plunging further and further into the darkness. There is help and there is hope. And we live in a world where often times help and hope can be accessed by taking a tiny little pill on a daily basis. But if we do, its best that the other Christians don't find out for fear that they will see our weakness and question our faith.

This one I take many issues with. I've always prided myself on being the strong girl, so it's taken me a while to get to a place of "issue", but I'm finally there. Joy comes in the morning! And for many (including myself at times), that joy came in a prescribed bottle. There is no shame in this, Christians! Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and a myriad of other mental health afflictions are REAL. We do not have permission to use them as a crutch to avoid the hard, but we do have permission to (through Dr. supervision, counseling and/or Gospel community) deal with the mind so we can deal with the heart. I've decided it takes a much stronger person to admit their need for help than it does to pull up those bootstraps.

4) We live in a society/church that has two theological camps to chose from. Either we believe in prosperity theology, or we believe in martyrdom theology. Both are wrong. Jesus doesn't promise to give us everything, and he doesn't promise to withhold everything. For those who struggle with joy, finding a solid middle ground is trickier than one might think.

5) We lose sight of eternity. We blind our eyes to Gods sovereignty. Bottom line is this - How long will He leave us here? It's all too much. We can't handle when life is hard, because what does that mean about God? Is he causing this? Is he allowing this? If he dictates our successes and failures, then why try? He already knows the future, so what good are my prayers?

Life is messy. God makes something of messes. Life is hard. God offers a light burden. Life is sad. God makes beauty from ashes. Life is unfair. God brings about justice.

So Christian - I ask you this..... what is stealing your joy? I remember when I had young children. They were needy. To say the days were long would be an drastic understatement. I thought that diapers, fits, sleepless nights, long and lonely days, and Lego pieces scattered everywhere would be the remainder of my days. (The Lego one I am still wondering about.) Joy seemed out of reach. Mundane was the new normal. Lonely was the new black. And hopelessness was forever my companion. But that season has passed. Every seasons passes.

Are you committed to fight? Our joy was bought with a price. We deceive ourselves (correction, Satan - who came to steal, kill and destroy - deceives us) when we  think life is only hard for us. We deceive ourselves when we grow bitter in our sorrows. We deceive ourselves when we think everyone has it better. We are each uniquely called, uniquely gifted, uniquely pursued, and uniquely crafted in the Image of God to be a part of something bigger than we can imagine. I'm not saying you have to be happy about this. But God's word makes it clear that there IS joy in it. And honestly, to know the truth that our lives will measure up to be better than we could have prayed for or dreamed of??? Well, THAT is hope! It's up to us if we choose to cling to the joy and hope at our disposal or not.

We go to war with our sorrows with the truth of the Gospel ... so that joy may abound. Martin Luther nailed it when he said we must beat the Gospel into our heads continually. For it is through the Gospel that hope, peace and joy are at its fullest.

Brothers and Sisters.....may we CHOOSE joy today!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may about in hope." Romans 15:13

Monday, May 26, 2014

The End of a.... Decade.

Yesterday marked the end of an Era in our family. More accurately, the end of a decade.

For the past 10.5 years, we've been at a great church in Boulder, Co where Aaron has served as the Pastor of Worship and Music; and more recently included Pastor of Young Adults.

That sentence felt very formal and resume-ish. Enough of that.

Yesterday was our last day serving Calvary Bible Church. It was incredibly bittersweet. I'll just get it out of the way now and admit that while I sang our last song (All To Us), I was a blubbering mess. For those of you who don't know me, this can be quite shocking for some. So much so that one friend after service stopped me in the hall and declared, "You cried!!!!" Another friend took the opportunity to snap a photo of the moment. There you have it. I have a heart. I feel. At least once every 10 years. The rights to the following picture belong to my friend, Michelle. I'm sure she grants all permission to use and abuse however you see fit.




We've had some amazing experiences over the past 10 years. We began at Calvary with 2.5 kids (one child in my belly + 2 on ground). We were 10 years younger. We added 2 children from Africa to our brood. We bought our first house. We started small groups and left small groups. We journeyed through the world of Orphan Care with many. We saw friends marry. We walked through sadness and life and joy and heartache with more people than I can count. We were blessed.

Over the past few years, it's been a growing desire in Aaron's heart to be involved in more "Pastoral Ministry". (I never much appreciate it when he says this - because I've never seen a Worship Pastor with more of a Pastor's heart than Aaron. It was evident in all he did. But that is neither here nor there.) So we have prayed and talked and prayed some more over the years. He brought it before our Pastor about a year and a half ago and together they began to talk about what this might look like for Aaron. A couple of months ago, it reached the point in our conversations with God that you just can't help but put that first step in the direction you believe he has for you.

So off we go...one foot in front of the other. We are so thankful for the generosity and blessing that we left Calvary with. Healthy partings in churches, sadly, are a rare thing. This was just one of the many confirmations for us that we were heading in the direction God was asking of us. (There were many other confirmations...but you don't want to be here all night.)




There are a few questions that I hear repeatedly from people when they find out this news...so I think I'll use this as a forum to answer them.

1) Are you crazy?? Yes. Yes we are. But with good reason. Leaving the comfort of security and embarking on the scary (yet exciting) road of the unknown is a crazy kind of thing that can only come from God ..... let's call it faith.

2) Where will you start your new church/Are you moving? We are not moving. God is planting us right where we are at. (I'm so tempted to begin to make numerous gardening metaphors. I'll save them...for now...) The neighboring town to us has not one single church in it. True. Not one. Um - we live in America right??? You know, the land where you can generally throw a rock and it will hit a church somewhere??  Yeah...not here. There is work to be done. The Gospel has corners to reach.

3) How do your kids feel about this? WOW. This was a hard one for me in the beginning. I had many sleepless nights over how our children would respond to this plan. With one child going into High School and one going into Middle School - we know that they are at important phases of their Christian life...or maybe their church life?? (That's probably another blog post...) What an answer to prayer it was when we actually talked to them about it for the first time. Aside from the cruel joke that Aaron played in beginning the conversation by telling them that I was pregnant (WHICH I AM NOT!), they all had such soft and open and even excited hearts about the idea. My favorite question was probably from Malachi - "Will there be a playground at the new church?" THIS is crucial to ones spiritual life. Seriously though, the kids have been amazing through this entire thing. I don't know why I get to be their mom....but I'll take it.

4) How are you? This question always makes me laugh. Um. Good? I don't know.... Scared, excited, nervous, hopeful, anxious .... it depends on the second you catch me in. I have all sorts of emotions wrapped up in this deal. Me and Jesus are working through each of them. All I know is that with my ever changing emotions - not one of them is unseen by him or left hanging. I will tell you this - seeing your husband do something that is so obviously from the Lord, and something he has longed for .... well, that's pretty amazing to watch. I'm glad I get to do this with him.

5) How do you start a church? This question is maybe my favorite. I really have no category in my brain for church planting. I've never done it. What I am finding so far, though - is that planting a church is much like anything else God asks of you - you put one foot in front of the other and pray HARD.

Logistically, we are finding there is much to be done. We form a 501(c)3. (I don't even know if I have the parenthesis in the right place on that!) We pray. We deal with Federal and State stuff. We scour garage sales for nursery/kids ministry items. We pray. We start to gather a Core group of people who are just as crazy as us and are willing to run with us. We pray. We begin fundraising. We pray....and then we pray some more about that one. We find a meeting place. We pray. We begin purchasing all sorts of things that one takes for granted when sitting in a pew on a given Sunday morning. We pray. We set up a home office (even if the pastor doesn't think this is necessary, the secretary does). We pray.

To sum it up..... one foot in front of the other and a whole lot of prayer.

I won't lie. Fear sets into my soul  very quickly at any given moment and with no notice at all. I have grown accustomed to the comforts of what I know. So this is scary work to me. BUT...all in all, I'm excited for the road before us. I'm not sure why God keeps calling us (me) into things that I just don't feel all that equipped for, but I suppose I'm not the first in history to feel such a weight. I'm so thankful for the many HARD but GOOD roads that God has lead us down over the years....especially recent years. I have the memory and proof of His faithfulness readily available to reflect on as we walk this new road.

With that...I leave you with the song that has been on repeat in my mind and on the stereo this past month. I've decided it's the song not of this past decade, or the next one - but of my life. (If you were in the second service at Calvary on Sunday, you now get to be left with TWO of my theme songs. You're welcome.)

Now...off to update my blogging resume to include, Church Planting Wife. (eekk!)




Monday, May 5, 2014

Death to Political Correctness (a guide for adoptive families in talking to non adoptive people)

There has been a little video floating around Facebook lately - "If you wouldn't say it about a boob job (a guide for adoptive questions)". After 300 of my friends posted it, I caved and watched it. (I have to be honest, I was a bit turned off by the title. You never know what you will get if you click on a title like that....) The video really was cute and made me chuckle. As an adoptive mom, I've heard more times then I can count the things that people really do say to adoptive parents. (The same goes for the various lists out there of what to say/not say to adoptive parents or parents of large families. There's a PC list for everything!)

So why am I writing a blog post if I personally thought the video cute/funny? Well - because I think we (and when I say we - I'm talking specifically here about adoptive families) need to relax a little bit on how people speak to us about our life. (I think I'm about to lose half of my FB friends...)

Maybe instead of being so concerned with how others speak to us about our life choices, we could view the opportunities to speak truth about what adoption IS. My fear is that the many lists out there that give the PC way to speak to adoptive families (and videos like the Boob job video) only scare people away from asking us any questions at all. People who really want to know, even! I recently sat at dinner with some friends - most of us adoptive moms, but a couple not. One of the "nots" voiced that she saw the video and felt bad. She said she has so many questions about adoption, but doesn't ever ask them because she's afraid she is going to ask the wrong thing or in the wrong way. That broke my heart! If the adoptive community wants to continue to raise awareness, we have to be okay with people talking in whatever language they know lest they cease to ask! We can then answer them with whatever verbage we feel they need to know. (Personal example: "Do you have your own children or just the adopted ones?" "We had three biological children prior to adopting our two children who are now our own.")

I see adoptive parents CLINGING to this desire to be spoken to or about in such a way that even I get confused by. I've seen adoptive parents go off because another adoptive parent asked them questions that we should just know better then to ask. I feel a little bit like my non adoptive friends sometimes. I'm scared to ask! For instance, there is an obvious adoptive family at our school. I've often wanted to approach them - and an easy enough conversation starter would be our children who (*GULP*) look different then us. Very different. But I am afraid! I hear the voices of the adoptive families scolding other adoptive families for being so inconsiderate. I think that is messed up.

One last argument I hear from adoptive families surrounds the desire for adoptive comments, questions, or anything of the like to not be voiced in front of our children. I don't get this either. (I've now officially entered the contest as worst adoptive mom ever.) WHY? Why can't our kids hear the questions of others - as naive as the questions seem to be? PARENTS! We are doing our children a disservice if we shield them from the hurtful things people will say. We personally have had plenty of hurtful things said to us, about us, and all in front of our children. Should I shy away from those conversations or blog about how stupid some people can be? Or instead, maybe I could just respectfully interact with people who maybe just need a little bit more information, and explain to my children later that while these comments may feel hurtful to us (them) in the moment - they really don't need to be hurt. Maybe I could view these as amazing teaching moments for reminding my kids of the sovereign hand of God in their life, about how loved and treasured they are, and teach them to laugh at the world around them. Our children are going to grow up and always be faced with these hard questions/remarks from the outside world. Maybe we can choose to equip them with how to handle such moments gracefully. Maybe.

Whatever life choice you make, if it is visible to others - I do not believe you have the right to quiet the inquiring minds around you just because they say the wrong thing at the wrong time all out of curiosity. Yes, adoption, big families, homeschooling, insert other "weird" life choices here are private and very personal decisions. But we live in a public world. We can't have it both ways. We can't hope to raise awareness, want people to support/encourage us in our lives, or even help people understand us if we decide it is more important to mold them into this little PC person (thereby actually silencing them). My hope is that we would remain open to the questions around us - because you never know when one of them is the next adoptive family just not yet understanding our little world! (Disclaimer: Of course there are those obvious idiotic moments where the crazy person you don't even know in the store says the most offensive thing ever ... like the check out clerk asking me if my child has AIDS because he heard most kids in Africa do.... these are not the moments I am talking about. In those moments you just let your jaw drop and stand there staring at them until they realize how big of a fool they just made of themselves.)

Okay. That's all. I will step off my soap box now.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pannekoeken

According to the Jody English Language Dictionary, the pronunciation would be

Pan A Cookin



A friend recently posted a recipe on Facebook for an Apple Pannekoeken. I sat there looking at the word not knowing what in the world I was looking at. Then my 6 year old self reminded me.... my family lived in Minnesota for a short while when I was a child. There was a restaurant there (Pannekoeken Huis, I believe) that we would frequent. The big hit there was the most glorious fruit filled, fluffy pancake one could eat. As they came out with the piping hot dish, you would hear the waiter(s) yelling PAAAAAANNNNNEEEEEKOOOOOEEEEKKKKKKEEEEEENNNNN all the way to your table.

So I was excited to give this recipe a shot. I honestly don't remember if it is anything like what I devoured as a child, but it sure was yummy tonight!!! So I thought I'd share!

(Original recipe is from Cooks.com)

Apple Pannekoeken

1 stick butter
1 1/2 c. flour
2 apples, peeled & sliced thin (I did NOT peel mine)
1 1/2 c. milk
6 eggs


Cinnamon & Sugar mix (I doubled)
        1/2 c. brown sugar
        1 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in 9 x 13 pan, tilting to cover the sides. Beat flour, milk and eggs together until liquid consistency and pour into the pan. Arrange apple slices on the bottom and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mix. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 min. Pannekoeken will puff up in the oven and deflate rapidly when serving. Pass the syrup, and sausage for an easy supper.




You can use any fruit you want, really. My sister has been using banana's. blueberries, etc... I would not recommend tomato. Also, we did not use syrup due to doubling the brown sugar topping. I would like my children to sleep tonight.

It was so fun watching it come out of the oven big and fluffy and deflating once we cut into it. And you better believe that as I was walking from the oven to the table, I yelled:

PAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEKOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEKKKKKKEN



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Just

Every small group has the Devil's Advocate. Last night I decided to play that role in a small little online study that I joined....you know, like several thousand small.

There's a book that I've been reading through that is doing AMAZING things in my heart and mind. It is EXACTLY the book I needed to read in where my life is at these days. It's called Restless, by Jennie Allen. Last night they launched a live online book study. To take part in the study, you just watch online, and you can tweet or send questions/thoughts via Facebook or Twitter. (hashtag restlessproject)

The point in this little post of mine today is due to a tweet that I made during the study. I was a little nervous when I posted it, knowing it would broadcast to a world of people who were not a part of the live study, and could easily be taken out of context. Here was the tweet:

Caution: If God is asking you for now to be "JUST" a wife and a mom, that's a huge calling. Don't think otherwise!

Well, I was right. It sparked a little fire as I suspected. Very little...but because I love ALL my Mom friends, I wanted to just put a few things on the table. And I'm going to throw this out there RIGHT NOW..... this is NOT a post about Working Moms vs. Stay At Home Moms. I urge all women to read to the end.

First, I want you to know the context behind why I posted what I did was because, as I said - I chose to play Devil's Advocate (but with good reason. Hang tight.). The live call was very much, in my opinion, stressing BIGGER dreams, and moving in our callings and our dreams even if it means we may have to stop being home with our children (if that's what we've chosen to do). The book itself processes through the emotions I, and many other women have surrounding such statements, but I was nervous for it to be just "out there" like that on Twitter with no other context. I started to shrivel up a bit at the idea of dreaming "bigger". Because for many of us, maybe instead of dreaming bigger, we need to start viewing what we are doing as bigger. And as for those specifically who have chosen to stay home with their children, buying into the lie that our life is worthless is an easy thing to do. There isn't much fame or glory in "JUST" being a wife an a mom, and can often times feel like we are dying a slow death more than living out a "calling".

Okay, so all of that said - I realize that my need for balance last night comes partly from my own insecurities. I won't lie. I've spent the last 14 years of my life feeling .... well .... worthless. I've had victory some days in drowning out such a lie, but it's probably safe to say that I sit in it more than fight it. I NEVER want a young mom to begin her career/calling as a wife and mom with such passion and conviction that she KNOWS she is doing what God has asked of her, only to be suffocated rather quickly by the monotony of it all. I don't want this because I know how awful it feels. So while I was so longing for this balanced perspective last night, it was my own thing. The book, Restless, is not written for people who are confidently living their callings. So the author has no reason to reach a balance. (Yet she really does do an amazing job in her book with it!) The book is written for those longing for purpose and change.

Fast forward a bit to a totally different topic that comes up a lot in this book - Comparison. Jennie Allen is quick to call out our sin of comparison. The comparison HAS TO STOP. All it does is either keep us from moving forward in our dreams, or cause others to feel lesser for having an appeared "smaller" dream.

Let's wrap this around to the working mom/stay at home mom issue. (Yes, I'm going to call it an issue. Because church??? We've turned it into an issue. I've never once heard it preached in church that women should stay home with their children. Yet as moms, we put up our bristles and feel the need to guard against attack ...but who is attacking??) Nowhere in the Bible have I found that women have to stay home with their children. We are told in Titus 2:5 to be "workers at home". I have seen lots of SAHM's who are NOT workers at home. I have seen lots of women who have a career outside of the home "work at home" in a way that puts me to shame. But what I mostly see is a comparison and a guilt that we have put on ourselves that divide women in either category. It.Has.To.Stop.

The heart of that matter is not what you do with your days. As with anything, it is WHY. Jennie Allen talks much in her book about checking your motives. So as a SAHM or a Working Mom, we SHOULD be checking our motives. If we choose to stay home or work a job all the while being driven out of fear, discontentment, guilt, selfishness, or identity issues - then we are sinning. In that, we may or may not need to redirect how we spend our days and seek what God has for us rather than what we have for us. To pull from the book, "We often desperately chase knowledge of "God's will for me" at the sacrifice of God's will." We cannot hide behind what our job is or isn't. We HAVE to lay it all before Jesus and ask HIM to be what guides our days.

Maybe God has you as a CEO of a company right now, maybe he has you as an amazing author or speaker, maybe he has you as a Doctor or a Lawyer. Or maybe he has you as JUST a wife and a mom. Why we throw the word "just" in there when it comes to being a wife and a mom and no other career on the previous list is not really helping. There is no "just" in any of our callings. If you are "just" a janitor, or "just" a Barista, or "just" a Sales Clerk - if we are living what God has asked us to live, then there should be joy and peace, not discontentment and struggle and a longing for BIGGER (which we translate as better in our comparison mindset).

Comparison, calling, dreams, passion, career, identity, purpose - these are all very loaded words that come with a lot of weight and angst for many of us. So find some friends and prayerfully dive into whatever God is asking of you. And if what he is asking is contentment for today - thank him and do whatever you are doing well. If he is asking you to come out from what is comfortable or known to you - thank him and run hard after what He has next for you. But let's just be careful to not put OUR callings on those women around us (unless you are a Hit Man, then I'm gonna go ahead and tell you that you are way off track). And lastly, as Jennie Allen is also such a fan of - let's CHEER EACH OTHER ON! Enough of the comparing and feelings of worthlessness and fear. I want to specifically direct that word towards the moms. Working out of the home or not ..... let us CHEER EACH OTHER ON toward a life submitted to Christ and HIS purpose for us. No guilt, no shame - only full on abandonment of self that we may replace with Jesus.