Sunday, May 14, 2017

not a mom, but maybe amazing

Before i say anything, i want to say that what i am about to say is not meant to be a slight or an insult toward anyone in the whole world.

Here goes...

Today is Mother's Day.

I have always loved Mother's Day because it is a great time for me to give special shout-outs to one of my absolute favorite people in the universe, my mom.

The impact that my mom has had on my life is profound.  But i'll get all gushy and snotty nosed if i go into that right now, so i'll forego for the time being.

In recent years, Mother's Day has taken on a throbbing pain sort of element for me, as i am advancing on my mid-forties and am childless, and as my husband's mother has gone from this life to the next.

But this is about me, not her.  Not right now anyway.

Really wonderful, nice, kind, people don't want you to feel left out about anything.  So when you're not actually a mom, and Mother's Day rolls around, and they want to be able to tell you, "Happy Mother's Day!" because it's a holiday, and you're female and all, and they want you to feel happy and not left out, they say things that are meant to comfort you and make you feel included.

Things like, "well, you have a mother's heart, and that's what counts." Or, "you're a mommy to your chickens..."  Etc.

But here's the thing...

First of all, i eat my chickens, so let's be careful about the parallels we draw to my relationship with my livestock.

And secondly, i am not a mom, but i have one.  I have a really really good one.  And the thing i know about a mom is that her job is day in and day out, forever.  For as long as i live.  I am on the downhill side of 41 years, and i know that if i need my mom any time day or night, she's there for me, still.  I'm her kid, and she's my mom.  She's also my friend, and i am hers.

But as for me, i have not given life to a child, given a home to a child, or earned by day to day trial and sleeplessness, and constant prayer, and concern, and research and worry and more prayer and so on, the honor of being called a mom to anyone.

And it's OK!  I'm not saying it's my favorite thing.  It's sad.  It's something i always thought i would be and am not.  It's something i have grieved bitterly.  I do not know why God did not choose, one of the thousands of times i begged for His intervention, to cause the miracle of conception and child birth to happen in my womb.

But i am still not a mom.  And giving out the mom trophy to all the females of reasonable age to possibly be a mom, is, to my heart, a way in which the honor rightfully bestowed upon all the beautiful, wonderful mothers, who have given life, or who have taken lives into their home and given them an upbringing and safety and care, is compromised.  And i don't want that.  I want them to be rightfully honored.

I read one of these feel-good memes on Facebook or somewhere today, on Mother's Day, and it said something about how being a mother is loving someone selflessly with all your heart.  But that's not true.  That's called being a good friend, possibly a really good friend, or a best friend, and it certainly goes a long way toward helping you to be a good mom, if you are a mom.  But it doesn't, on its own, qualify anyone to represent themselves as being a mother.

Being a fantastic caregiver to dogs and cats and chickens and ferrets, or what-have-you, also does not make you a mother.  Not really.  It probably means you're a really nice, caring, kind person who enjoys caring for animals, but it doesn't make you a mother.  And that's ok too.

Let me explain a little more, ok?  Will you keep reading please?

Wanting to make women feel included and appreciated is a good thing.  But let me tell you something:  something important happened in my life when i started to grieve not being a mother.  I allowed myself to be open to whatever else God might have in mind for me.  Some of my biggest heroes of history never gave birth to a soul, but they still impact my life today.  They weren't mothers.  But they were AMAZING!

I want to be free to be amazing.  But as long as i am longing to be something i am not, or calling myself something i am not, instead of moving forward and learning to be what God wants me to be, i am cheating myself, and i am cheating the purpose of God,and i am cheating those whom He means for my life to benefit.

Maybe God will still use me to be someone's mother.  I don't know.  My job isn't to know.  My job is to be the clay.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Focus and Peace

I need to tell you a story.  It's important.  (and i should really be getting ready for work right now, so please excuse the typos.)

Anyone who knows me could probably tell you that i am a pretty positive person.  Some people might tell you that i am a sickeningly positive person.  The name Pollyanna comes to mind.  I'm very very optimistic as a general rule.

Interestingly, last week, and in recent weeks, i have spent a lot of energy encouraging a specific friend who has been going through some very tough circumstances, to "focus on the Lord," instead of those circumstances and to trust Him and believe Him instead of believing the very convincing negative messages that have been being forced into my friends attention.  I think that a couple of times, my friend really wanted to tell me to go mind my own business for a while and let people be angry and depressed if they want to be.  But i didn't.

Stay with me...i little more prep work here...

In recent months, my super hero and i have been working on some lifestyle changes that have included some financial stress.  And as i am prone to do, i have been very positive about it all.

Until Saturday.

On Saturday, as part of an ongoing effort to trim the edges of our budget where it can be done, i was having a conversation with a customer service representative for our wireless phone company.  Our cell phones are our home's only means of communication with the outside world.  We don't have a land line or cable or broadband, nothing.  We use our phones to connect our computers to the internet, the whole nine yards.  So our phones are very necessary ... and our phone bill is pretty bloated.  It's bloated mostly because of an installment plan that we agreed to a couple of years ago, so that we could have brand new, top of the line, smart phones without having to do the smart thing, and just buy them.

Anyway, i've already trimmed the fat off of that bill as much as i can, and all in all, we're getting a pretty good deal, have a great plan, and it's fine.

But this customer service person......she told me that she could give me unlimited data and lower my monthly bill by one hundred dollars!!!!!!

A hundred dollars sounded really good to me, and after questioning the agent for a long time, attempting to sniff out any hidden hijinks that might be going on behind the scenes, i agreed to the change.

You might not believe me now, but the important part of this story doesn't have anything to do with our phone bill.  All those details are just fluff.  The important part of the story is this:  i got SO HAPPY about that $100.  For whatever reason, i had gotten really focused on this financial fat trimming, and when this $100 break came up, i was absolutely on cloud nine.

And this was my downfall.

Yes, that's right.

See, focus is important.  And focus on circumstances is bad for you, even when it's focus on happy circumstances.  Because circumstances are just circumstances.

But truth...TRUTH lives on a different plane than our circumstances.

Here's how that became extremely plain to me in a matter of a few hours.

After experiencing this giant happiness boost over a phone bill, i ran some errands and came back to my house to work on some online freelance work i've been doing.  You know, on my computer, which i connect the internet to through my cell phone.  And when i attempted to make this connection, it wouldn't work.  IT WOULDN'T WORK!

I tried to stay calm as i again contacted my phone company to find out what was going on.  Long story short, that new plan i agreed to had a catch i hadn't considered, and after a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, the second customer service agent got our phone plan reversed back to the plan we had earlier that morning, the one that was fine.

But i wasn't fine.  I was completely undone.  And completely undone is not a state of being that i am accustomed to.  I am accustomed to rolling with the punches, taking things in stride, having peace in the midst of circumstances.

When i say i was undone, i mean it.  You can ask my super hero.  I spent HOURS in tears.  It wasn't hormones either.  It was all about my focus.

Because whether the things we see seem good or bad, focusing on what is temporal and of this world, will kill us.  The things of this world will all pass away, but what God says is forever.  (loose translation of Matthew 24:35.

Even if you don't believe in this stuff, believe what i'm telling you, ok?  It's true.

Sometime mid afternoon on Saturday, everything became crystal clear when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about my focus.  After i had spent the previous week(s) telling my friend to focus on God instead of circumstances, i had learned the same lesson in my own life, but different.

Happy circumstances are great, but they cannot be where my joy comes from.

In that moment, when the Holy Spirit made things clear to me, and i chose to say with my mouth, "God wins," my way of reminding my heart and giving my prayer to God that He's in charge, and I know that His ways and His intentions and His outcomes are what i'm committed that moment, i felt instantaneous change.  I went from complete basket case depression (over $100...good grief), to peace.

The Bible calls that the peace that passes understanding that guards your hearts and minds...

If i didn't say it yet, this is the lesson:  focusing on circumstances, even positive circumstances, is death to your soul.  Your focus must be on the only being Who is all powerful and always loves you unconditionally.  His words are what matters.  Everything else is just stuff.  Stuff is nice sometimes, but it's nothing compared to the peace of God.

Well, that's it.  I hope i told the story well.  And i hope you get it.  It's almost Resurrection Day.  And if you know the real meaning of that day, this will mean all the more to you.

Love to all my peeps. ;)  Time to get ready for work.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

the timeline of a life of impact

I recently read someone say that one of the reasons that we don't do the really courageous things is because we are afraid of death.  (really loose translation from a small portion of a book called The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton)

If you are a Christian, you believe, at least in your mind, that this life is not the end of your life, and hopefully that what you do in this life contributes to God's bigger picture and plan for mankind.

But each of us...especially in the United States...we want a nice house and white picket fence, 2.5 kids and dog....and to live happily ever after.

Or something like that.

Our picture of a life of success is all about us.  And not about anyone else.  Certainly, not really even for Christians, about God.  It's kind of more about God and how He makes MY life better.

And i'm not even entirely dampening all of that...God cares about people and loves people and wants good things for good thing does He withhold from them who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).   So if i have a point, my point is not that we're all bad for wanting to have nice things.

My mind and heart have been wrestling around with these concepts, about not being afraid of death, or not allowing an unknown fear of death to keep me from doing the things that my heart wants to do.  It's not just exactly a fear of my heart beat ceasing, but also the fear of death of my own image of my self's importance.  Many of the things we think we should do but don't do, we don't do because we're afraid of what we imagine another person or persons might say or think about us when we do it, When we do something out of the ordinary that reveals that we have passions and vulnerabilities that are outside of the accepted picture of success.

Moses wrote a psalm (did you know this?  i did not realize this).  It's Psalm 90.  I've been reading it for a couple of it's not that long, and i don't read that slow.....i just have needed to soak in it or something.  I have probably read this chapter of the Bible many times in the past - and just sort of skimmed over it.  It's honestly a little confusing.  But i read something different this time.  Moses recounts the amazingness and power and scariness of God and then He says, "teach us to number our days." And he talks about how short our lives really are.  And how when we're gone, we're really gone.  Like a blade of grass that withers and dies.

Now this sounds depressing, right?  But i don't think it is.

Think about this.  Moses spent the first 40 years of his life being someone he wasn't and then running away from Pharoah.  He spent the second 40 years of his life watching sheep.  He didn't lead the Israelites out of Egypt until he was EIGHTY.  And that's the beginning of the only part of Moses' life that most people take any notice of.

What i'm thinking is that maybe when Moses was 80-something, and he was in the middle of the desert with a million recently freed slaves, he started to see the importance of a non-normal life, given over to God.  And he started to see that a life that counts for God is not about the 40 or 80 or 90 years that one person might be on this earth.  It is about the contribution of one's life to the plan of God and the lives that will come after.

The ironic other side of this lesson i am learning or trying to learn is that He's not interested in our age as much as we are.

Looking at a few important life timelines...

Paul, the Apostle - finally stopped persecuting Christians when he was roughly 34 years old.  And in my mind i think that he just started being the Apostle Paul after that.  But he didn't.  It was 15-17 more years before he really started rockin' things.  All of those letters we call the Epistles that we read and take instruction and encouragement from...he didn't get started writing those until he was almost 50, and he didn't really get to writing until he was in his 60s, i.e., right before he gave his life for telling people about Jesus.

Moses - he only started to catch on at age 40....he got started rocking things at age 80....and followed God for 40 more years.

Corrie ten boom - she was an unmarried woman, living in her father's home and working in her father's business until the age of 52 when she and her family were taken into a concentration camp.  After the concentration camp, Corrie spent her time and life devoted to the healing of the hearts of former Nazis, and she didn't write her life-changing book The Hiding Place until she was 79.  She continued to write and to minister for more than ten years after that, before she died.

Pick someone whose life impacted and inspired you and google their life's timeline.  You might be surprised to find that they weren't born as a hero.  They were born just like you, as a helpless baby, and becoming the person you admire did not happen like magic.  These people are not the super heroes in the comics, just born with amazing abilities.  These are people who struggled and had sorrow and who God had great patience with to mold them and form them into the person whose life's impact is still impacting you long beyond their earthly death.

Back to my point...if i have one....i think Moses, when he wrote and prayed that prayer, was getting hold of the idea that his life is a contribution...  "establish the work of our hands," he prayed.  Loose translation:   please let the work of my hands mean something to the work of God.  Let my hands do what is important to God.  Because this life is short, and i want it to mean something to my Creator and His plan, not mine.