Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Precious community

I am a GAG girl. The name GAG stands for Girls Accountability Group and it was created by silly boys in college to tease us, but it stuck before anyone had a chance to change it. Now, almost 9 years post 'GAG branding'; I am returning from an amazing reunion weekend and am simply overwhelmed by the lessons God has taught me through these girls.

Let me start by telling you that being with them, is like being with comfort itself. When I'm with them, I become such a fuller version of myself, each one of the 10 bring a different aspect of me up and out of hibernation. I find renewed passion, challenge, joy and conviction packaged neatly with total rest and acceptance. Seriously, it's like snuggling in a pile of freshly cleaned laundry, still warm.

And I bring all of this up because these girls, they have taught me what I believe to be one of the most significant practices of my life. Vulnerability. Honesty. Intentional sharing of your truest heart and self. Until college and these girls I remained safely in the facade of my life, and the funny thing is I didn't even know it! But over the years the Lord took this group of young women and He slowly molded, tore away, replaced and pushed us in the direction of intimacy with eachother and miraculously we found ourselves willing to risk and go for it! I don't think any of us knew what God was doing in and amongst us until we were already neck deep in eachother's lives. By then, it was too late to try denying how incredibly refreshing real community is, no matter how much work and intentionality it took.

There is a song by Jennifer Knapp that has always tugged deep at my heartstrings. It's called Martyrs and Theives. In the song J. Knapp speaks of how,
"In the absence of martyrs there's a presence of theives that only want to rob you blind. They steal away any sense of peace, though I'm a king I'm a king on my knees. And I know they are wrong when they say I am strong, as the darkness covers me. So turn on the light and reveal all the glory, I am not afraid, to bare all my weakness, knowing in meekness, I have a kingdom to gain."
These words are so incredibly powerful to me and I feel so deeply passionate about the truth behind them. In the absence of people willing to bare all, to look stupid, to risk vulnerability with the chance that no one will follow... there is this false sense of peace that can render an entire group of friendships totally blind. Even our Bible studies, church groups, best friends and accountability groups can become an absolute sham as we all pretend to be 'kings' and impress eachother with our minor issues and struggles...the ones we've measured and feel are safe enough to share. Too often the very groups designed to create community amongst churches become to the tools keeping us at a distance from eachother as we 'yes' eachother to death, afraid to challenege, speak up, admit or correct.... and so we end up in darkness thinking everyone around us is so strong, and feeling desperate to maintain our own image we've so carefully constructed.

Even though I have not lived by or with these girls now for 5 years and our connection time has been significantly lessened, there is a lump lodged so far down in the core of me now that 'taints' every new friendship I've come across since. It screams in conviction to 'turn on the light that actually lets people into my life -let God's glory be the only thing revealed - bare all of my weaknesses', because I do know, there is such a kingdom to gain. Truly, being with the GAG girls this weekend, was a tiny glimpse of Heaven.

Love you girls.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Good Question

"So my question is, do we attempt to minimize the ocurance or severity of these swings (only, the ones in the negative direction of course)? Or, do we learn to live with them and hope that everyone around us does too?......okay, the latter option doesnt sound so good. What I meant was more of learning to deal with the fact that this is part of life in this season and while still trying to keep from getting too crazy in the bad times, knowing that things just wont always be so smooth and we should try to adapt.......sometimes I think what I just wrote is sufficient, other times Im convinced I need therapy. What do you think?" - Erica

Hmmm, what do I think? Well I guess I would be tempted to say (and definitely reassure myself often) that this phase of crazy life is one that inevitably comes with having babies and toddlers and it will pass. I do believe that and I know that so much of the very physical demands that drive alot of my exhaustion and therefore short temperedness these days will eventually be over. The thing that concerns me though is that although the type of things that frusterate me may change over time, I'm pretty sure there will continue to be things about mothering my children that will send my head spinning and my temper flarring. Now, it's the constant "why's", lack of sleep and tedious disobedience correction. Later it will be the sassy attitudes, worrisome crowds and blatant disobedience. I guess the thing that I see in myself that worrys me the most is my tendancy to respond to my children emotionally. I let them get to me, (my kids and my emotions) and it drives my behavior towards my children. The way I talk to them, the way I handle them, whether I say 'Yes' or 'No' to a fair request. I can see myself punishing them when I am tired, I do not smile as much, I do not laugh with them; if Macy is annoying me, I feel this ingrained gut reaction to let her know Im bothered by withdrawing affection (at the least!). It's not far from my petty high school girl days! I came from an emotionally driven family and now I see it manifesting full force in my parenting. This is not something I am proud of about my own character, my inability to control emotional responses and actions in favor of wisdom and godly direction. So naturally it is not one I want to teach my children. I desperatley want to provide stability for them, predictability, dependability. I am the adult and they are the children, naturally they will be emotional; throw tantrums, cry etc etc, how confused they must be when I join in! Where else will they learn to reign in those emotions and choose maturity and Christ-like wisdom over them, if not from me?

I struggle so much with what I am modeling to my kids. I could write you out a list of all the ways I'd like my children to function, the things I believe comprise a healthy, well-adjusted, kind and God fearing adult. The problem is, at any-given time, there's atleast one of those things that I, am definitely not. What pressure I feel; knowing that so much of how my children will relate to this world and the people around them, and to God... they will learn from watching me. It makes me want to cry, it makes me want to hide and it makes me want to fall flat on my face begging the Lord for some sort of intervention in this process.

So I guess, what I'm hearing whispered in my ear right now is that I need to give myself grace, and I need to trust the Lord way more than I do, that He is ultimatley and sovereignly watching over my children and the people they will become. But I think for me, I will always maintain in this battle against my fleshly response towards my children, not because I think I will overcome it, but because the battle of refinement is one I want my children to grow up learning to fight as well.

And having said all that... I still have no idea how all those lofty "I wants" translate into my day of naps and spills and tears and diaper changes. G'Night :-)

Friday, May 18, 2007


I want to write right now because it is the only thing I can think of that might allow me to unwind, I am a ball of emotions... frusteration and guilt being two of the strongest. I am shocked at the swings I can go through in a day... and not only do they leave me feeling like a crazy schitzophrenic, but worse, a horrible mother.

I had a post planned out this morning. I was thinking through what I was going to write because I was in the middle of feeding my son his breakfast and I had just composed an entire song out of the words "poopy" and "stinker". Im serious.
I was having so much fun with him and my daughter was playing beautifully by herself and I was mentally sharing with you all through my intended blog entry how I didn't mean alot of what I wrote last entry, I was just emotional. Sure, these years may not be the most eloquent or philisophically stimulating of my life, but that's okay because somehow making spoons into airplanes and watching my daughter finally master the thread through the giant plastic bead equates to sheer joy in my book right now. I dont know how God did it, but in some crazy, outside of this world way, He managed to make THAT fufilling and fun for me.

And then the afternoon hit. I had plans to hang out with my sister-in-law, I've so been desiring good time with her. To talk and laugh and hear her heart. But the kids barely ate, which led to bad naps, which translated into whining and restless pushing of limits the rest of the evening. I felt frusterated, fed-up, short-tempered and angry. I didnt want to be around my kids, didn't care that they were doing cute things amongst the annoying and I just couldn't wait for 7:00. I must have checked the clock on the oven a million times. 6:23 ... 6:31...6:38...oh come on!... 7:00 YES! BEDTIME!!!

I finally sat down to eat with my sisters (the other had now joined) and Macy was up having to go "potty". I was mad...until I came in to check on her and my sweet baby girl was crying on the toilet sick with much more than "potty" if you know what I mean. And then I hear Carter scream out of a dead sleep and I run up to his gargling and coughing and and rubbing his eyes because he's so stinkin' tired but just can't breathe. ... Did I forget to mention both my kids are sick? That's because I didn't care... when I was frusterated and just plain 'done' this afternoon, it didn't matter to me that they were not eating, sleeping or playing happily because they didn't feel good... I was just annoyed and tired and didn't want to award sympathy to anyone but myself. And now? Now, that they're asleep and I've calmed down and am just remembering the misery on their faces and tears on their cheeks... Now I'm feeling guilty and sad and like a kind of secret failure.

And I kind of want to laugh because this, THIS blog was NOT supposed to be about my kids...I wanted this place to be my safe haven to prove that I had other intellectual things to think and write about. Other things to contemplate and share.
But my heart is wrapped up in these two litte ones and the way they swing me daily. I hate that every instance that I love being a mom, gets coupled with a moment of absolute disgust at the 'unfairness' of my life. I hate that I sound that way and think that way. I want to shout that it isn't really me or how I feel because there are an eternity of heart-bursting-from-my-chest wonderful moments... but doesn't it have to be me as well because of how many lose-my-mind-in-frusteration, can't-do-this-anymore moments I find myself in as well? I want to believe I'm not as selfish as I probably sound in this, but right now I'm feeling pretty low down on the "super mom" meter. So I'm just gonna leave it at that...anyone else experience the mood swings that can NOT be blamed on hormones?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where did I go?

Every once in a while I'll find myself in the middle of feeding, or changing diapers, or disciplining or washing clothes or doing dishes or holding a crying baby or a feverish one... or even smack in the middle of the most delightful tickle fest with my giggling babies... and I'll stop (which is a rare occurence for me at best) and this bewildered voice from deep inside will ask, "How in the world did I get here?". Literally in the blink of a second a full fledged conversation ensues;

"How is this my life? I don't even recognize myself"
"Well that isn't so bad, you love your life"
"Yeah but it doesn't contain any of who I use to be"
"You're being dramatic, you like the ways you've grown up, you wouldn't trade it"
"But I'm nothing but a mom now, nothing special or spectacular or deep about me even exists anymore"
"Okay, now you're dramatic AND selfish, stop it and go wipe Macy's nose"

And so goes this battle within me between the girl I knew back in college who loved to sit and ponder and share and get into the thick of the lives around her. The girl who had her whole life ahead of her to do amazing and incredibly meaningful things and who had time to curl up with her thoughts of God and life and after pondering, to pour them before the Lord, authentically seeking refinement; change. This girl seems to have been clobbered by the daily life of a wife and mother. One who intensely loves her husband and children and the place this 'adult life' has brought her; but simultaneously feels stifled by the roles and responsabilities that come with them. How can a person feel 'stifled' by the very lives she'd give her own for? My thought life feels like one gigantic contradiction these days. I will passionately long for the ways and heart of God, for vulnerability and relationship with Him like I swear I used to feel... and in the same breath I'll then cynically roll my eyes at the drama of it all, resolving to 'get real' and just DO the things God calls us to, forgetting any emotional or even spiritual tie to any of it.

So here I am, this is me. As said before, my thought life these days is a jumbled mess of contradictions...but can you blame me? It's been almost three years since I have had quietness in which to train and track my mind. I will begin to embark down a thoughtful path, pondering some question or emotion I feel deeply and then BAM; a cry, a call for "MOMMY", dinner, smelly diaper, the phone, the buzzer... who knows...but it's back to reality and the immediate-ness of my current life. I think that is the main reason I've decided to attempt this new blog journal; I crave contemplation, consolidation and (oh the glory!) actual conclusion of my ponderings.

So after all that... as my sweet friend Erica put it... Here's to it!