Monday, August 26, 2013

Dear Miley

You're probably rolling your eyes at me and already putting up a defensive front. I mean, who cares what a thirty-something, homeschooling mom has to say about your life. I guess that's my problem: I care a lot about your life. And not for the reasons you may assume. 

My daughter, who turns eight on Friday, has never heard of you. She doesn't know who Hannah Montana is, hasn't listened to your music, and I'm not the least bit worried about your influence in her life. It's nonexistent. But that doesn't diminish my downright, heart-breaking love and compassion for you. Because, you see, God loves you and created you for something bigger than yourself and I can see a glimpse of it. I hope for you, right now, that you could be sober and lonely enough to be desperate. Truly amazing things just might happen.   

My people - Christians - would probably take this chance to lecture you, shame you to another cigarette, or point to some bigger "Hollywood culture" problem. Forget them. You are just a girl who wants to be loved, find a purpose, and change the world.  Let's do it together. I might decide to wear jeans and a T-shirt over my bra and panties, tote a purse with diapers, and drink less than once a week but our hearts are the same. They are simply scandalous apart from grace.  Did you know that you shouldn't expect anything good out of your character except what God gives you grace to find? Sorry if Christians make it sound otherwise.   

You are a very popular girl right now. This afternoon, the lady at the coffee drive-through was talking about you. To me. In a minivan. I can't even imagine how you handle the pressure, attention, and fame. Maybe you *don't* handle it as you navigate the course of identity and security. Those waters are rough under the most idyllic circumstances. Add a famous dad, fortune, and a lot of funk and you have a recipe for struggle. Your pillows must have mascara stains from the tears you cry at night. I wish I could give you a big hug and look you straight up in the eyes and say:

You are loved. By a big God. An intimate God who chose you and still chooses you. 

I pray that you find relief. I pray that you find peace. I pray that in the SHOUTING FOR YOUR ATTENTION, OVER HERE, WE PROMISE YOU EVERYTHING AND GIVE YOU NOTHING madness, that you would see that grace will carry you and sustain you. It will redeem you with swift rescue.  Don't ever believe that you don't need rescuing. 

As one who can simply point to the greater Someone and with all my love,

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Mrs. Depression"

Before we dive, I want to make it clear that Brad has read and approved of every word in this post. His side of the story is painted in different colors with different techniques but it shares the same canvas. This is my side of the story and written for the women who recognize my journey. Take a deep breath, friend, and embrace my vulnerability as a gift.

We fell in love over cheap meals, ridiculous hopes, and a break-up. His larger than life personality and popularity made it easy to be his girlfriend and his genuinely humble heart made it easy to say "I do."  He loved me well, the way a thunderstorm takes to parched land and replenishes. He settled the dust and brought calm like thick humidity.

I didn't know he was slipping away from me until he had been gone for years.  Then one evening he said he needed help. "I have to do something, I can't live like this anymore," so I shrugged in agreement. He was medicated just a couple weeks later and even quicker, found his way back to happy. Engaged. Smiling. More grace and patience. More whole. More himself. Our house brightened with noticeable beams from a man satisfied with life. 

While he was finding his happy heart, I began trembling at the changes. I hadn't known the unbearable weight until it started lifting and settling at my feet. Gradually I began to see my filters for pleasing him, hiding my kids from his darker days, and inwardly condemning myself for every failed attempt at making him happy.  

Clean, clean, clean. 
Just a cleaner house would make him happy to be home. 

Spank, spank, spank. 
Well-behaved children would make him happy to be a dad. 

Sex, sex, sex. 
Just initiate often and he'll be a happy lover.  

All those things, at one time or another, would be in great working order but he still lived half-like. Turns out I was exhausted and cowering in the corner of inadequate and less-than.

Surely, since he had become like this after marriage, it was because I wasn't good enough, capable enough, trophy-wife enough. Surely, since it escalated after children and was made worse by children, it must be a reflection of my awful mothering skills.  It's crazy how we don't even recognize our surely thoughts as wicked distortion.  I was so sure about my not-so-sure self but didn't know any of this until I started breathing easy again. Little did I know I had been holding my breath for years, slipping in and out of consciousness. I was not surviving.  

I cried more in those medicated months than in most years of our marriage.  Seven years of covenant commitment but not an ounce of preparation for what felt like a restart.  It's simply amazing how hope infiltrates and bleeds through our lives like a drop of blue in an ocean of clear.  While I felt the burning of charcoal rip from my heart and soul, I stood on the shore of hope and healing.  I watched as years of wrong-thinking and the motions of desperate wife-ing were quietly and quickly exchanged. God wrapped his arms of mercy around my marriage and embraced my bleeding heart.  

He brings and gives beautiful freedom because He is Himself freedom defined.

This story goes on with more words than anyone needs in a blog. So I want to open the door for you to a place where not many are willing to travel. Can you relate? Do you have a husband or a wife who walks on a blurred path with lead shoes? You aren't alone. We are an anonymous tribe of certainly brave men and women who suffer with the suffering. There is hope for us and for them and there is reaping for the required sowing of the smallest seeds. Sow goodness and patience. Tend to joy and hope. Your harvest will be magnificent. Pray for the impossible when you feel timid and tired and when hope seems lost.  Sunlight is coming for you, at a fierce speed and with jealous determination. Can you feel it?

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, 
She laughs at the days to come."
Proverbs 31:25

P.S.  I'd love to hear from you.  Comment below or shoot me an email.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The New Motherhood

When I had my first baby, nearly eight (8!) years ago, the word "Pinterest" didn't exist and "organic" referred to a movement of Christianity.  Granted, I was the first among my friends to have a baby and so the culture of motherhood hadn't begun for me.  I was naive with all things bebe and when I look back with the information I have now, I sigh at the experts and trends and THANK GOD that I'm not fresh on the journey.  Don't get me wrong.  I still really struggle with this "mom thing" and my own thoughts are usually own worst enemy.  Do you find yourself feeling totally inadequate... overwhelmed... lost... empty... skeptical... ineffective... and just plain befuddled when it comes to raising your kids?  I'm secretly hoping it's not just me.  

Wow.  If you're a new-ish mom, you've got it harder than I think our country has ever made it for us.  There is more pressure and comparison and that's-the-wrong-way-to-wear-a-baby and high fives for home births but don't give that baby rice cereal and keep them rear-facing until they're six, when they'll be just two years from their first taste of sugar.  Sheesh, ladies.  I can promise you that these things are new to the scene and were not around when I was stocking up on jarred baby food and store brand formula for my firstborn.  It's like a floodgate of knowledge broke open about three or four years ago and turns out that everything our mother did is dangerous, the FDA is a bunch of idiots, and the air we breathe is toxic.  The rug is always being yanked out from underneath our sore feet (that are either wider or longer than pre-baby) because someone with a megaphone (or Facebook newsfeed) read a supposedly helpful article about childrearing.  It's a subtle shift from just thinking "I'm a bad mom" to our society actually telling us "Every decision you're making as a mom is wrong." 

And it's ripping the heart out of motherhood.        

We've just recently found a church home (consider any organized group if church isn't your thing) and I'm working on developing relationships with other moms.  It's the first time, in a long time, that I don't know where she's coming from.  Will inviting her and her kids to Chick-Fil-A offend her because they use peanut oil?  What if vaccinations come up in conversation and we have opposite viewpoints?  What if she sees me pull out a disposable diaper & scented wipes?  I'm recognizing that all the information I've received over the past few years has written the word "divided" on my heart.  The font is fear, the ink is bold, and the message is clear.  War.  This is the war on motherhood. That rather than standing beside each other and FOR each other, we would disagree to the point of broken relationships and hesitation to start new ones.  We begin to believe that we must isolate ourselves in order to feel confident about our choices and styles of raising our sweet children.  We dread the debate, the conversation, and ultimately the intimacy of disagreeing but still loving and fighting for the greater cause.     

No wonder we avoid hate community with other moms.  

Dear friend, let me boldly remind you or tell you perhaps for the first time that you cannot do this alone.  You cannot imagine the sweet encouragement from the times I've been most vulnerable and honest with other moms about my impatience, failings, and fears.  When the tension and pressure to recoil from opportunities to truly share our heart with another mom pulls us, we must consistently choose to move forward.  I can almost guarantee that you will find compassion and relief that she feels the same way.  It will probably feel very awkward at first: you might be speaking Crunchy while she is speaking Silky, you'll pull out Pampers while she pins the cloth, and she'll occupy her child with an iPhone while you pull out your boob.  Get over it.  You both speak Mother and you bleed love and hope for your littles. You'll need each other some day and your kids need to see you being a friend.  Model boldness and courage and let them see "how big your brave is."  Watch this if you need some inspiration (or click here):  

And let me know how it goes!