Tuesday, May 6, 2014

True Womanhood

"In the church today, there are growing numbers of childless women. Many of these are the women who smile and give a casual "I hope so," when you ask them if they're planning to get married (if they're single) or start a family soon (if they're married). They're the women who would love to have a ring on their finger and a man on their arm. They're the women who may be in the thick of fertility treatments or suffering the silent grief of miscarriage. They're the women who have long ago given up hope of ever carrying a child, much less seeing one graduate from college."  (quoted from article below)

I read an article posted on Facebook by a dear friend.  It is titled, "Every Woman a Mother".  As Shawn and I continue the struggle to become parents, it touched my heart.  And so, I'm posting this article for all hurting women.  Whether you're waiting for a husband or a child - this is for you.  True womanhood is not earned by becoming a wife or a mother.  True womanhood is earned by chasing after God.

"It is hard to be a "childless" woman in a world that sees womanhood reflected in motherhood. But mainly this is hard because our definitions are all wrong." (quoted from article below)

Did you hear that?  You don't have to be a mother or wife to be a true woman!  So all of you spouse-less or child-less women out there (myself included), be encouraged!  The definition of a true woman is one who chases after God, without abandon.

If you're hurting - read this.  It helped me and I hope it helps you!  Sending my love to all the hurting women!

Click on this link:
Every Woman a Mother

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Neglected Blessings

There's always that ONE day every so often where everything seems to be going wrong and nothing in life is good.  Yesterday was that day.

But the sun rose this morning and a new day dawned....along with a new attitude and new perspective for myself.  Thank goodness!

So today, I want to reflect on the many blessings that I neglected to see yesterday, and therefore neglected to pass on to you:

I am so very thankful for my loving and wonderful husband who supports me and loves me every single day.

I don't know what life would be like without my 2 best friends.  Jess, my sister and Erin, my college friend often make my life worth living, and fill my days with laughter!

My life is full of little blessings in the forms of Karen, Colin, Derek, Calleigh, and Austin.  

I am blessed with 2 amazing church families who have loved me and my husband through all of our pains and sorrows and mess-ups.  And within these church families are people who have taken us into their own families and allowed us to just be ourselves.  THIS is a blessing, indeed!

We have an awesome youth group full of crazy, wacky teens who make us laugh every time we get together.  From the competitiveness of the young men to the laughter of the young ladies - there is never a dull moment!

I am thankful to be able to exercise.  I just completed a very difficult workout today that I didn't think I'd be able to do - but I did!  So thankful for a body that can move!

We have a HUGE house with more space than we can fill.  This makes for more cleaning for me, but it also means we can host large groups of people comfortably!  So, are you the next visitor?  haha

This past year, I've made a real effort for Shawn and I to eat healthier and exercise.  It's hard to eat healthy when you make lots of home visits and get served desserts, but we're trying.  This last year has taught us that fresh and natural is so much better than processed...and I feel better every day because of it!  We're blessed to be healthier!

I have friends all across the country, even the world (shout out to Dana!!!).  Through mission trips across the country and to Belize, I've had this wonderful opportunity to see a small glimpse of what heaven will be like.  All nations, tribes, and tongues will gather before the throne to worship our God...and I've been given a small taste of that here, in this life!

This list could go on and on.  But let's just suffice it to say that yesterday's burdens are in the past.  Have I moved past them?  No.  That's a work in progress.  But I've moved on to today and the blessings that come with it.  I'm so thankful for the many people in my life who have blessed me in multiple ways...and if you're reading this - then that means you've been a blessing to me!  Thank you for your friendship....and don't forget to remember your own blessings!

Thanks for listening to yesterday's struggles and today's blessings!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Island of Misfit Toys

Today has just been one of those days when I need to sit down and write.  Why?  Because writing helps me process my thoughts and emotions...and I've had a lot of thoughts and emotions lately.

This life is just really hard, isn't it?  Each one of us has our own problems to deal with, and I'm no different.  Today, and the last few days, I've been thinking a lot about how much of a misfit I really am in this world.  I've never wanted to be normal - but to be a misfit?  That's not something I've wished for.

It used to really bother me in my 20's when I was single and it seemed like everyone else was getting married.

I really struggled with the absence of a career after moving to Iowa.  I just assumed that people here would see me as lazy and unmotivated.

I still struggle with the fact that I'm a 32 year old woman, married for 6 years and I'm still not a parent.

People look at me like I'm from Mars when I tell them that we don't pay for cable and we don't own  smartphones.

In a world where beautiful yards and flower gardens are all the craze, there is nothing I would rather avoid than flower gardening.  And many people think I'm weird for that.

Unlike the average female, I absolutely despise shopping in any form, except grocery shopping.  I wear the same clothes for years, just so I don't have to go shopping for new ones.  And when I do buy new ones, I will only buy the ones on sale.

But the more I grow in my faith, the more I realize that these things don't really matter.  This uncomfortable feeling I've had about myself for my whole life is just silly.  And quite honestly, it's from Satan.  God never intended for us to feel like misfits.

And so, I've been learning lots lately.

It's okay that I'm not a mother yet, and this is especially important with Mother's Day just around the corner.  It's a great day for mothers - but a day of complete misery for those who have tried and haven't been able.

It's okay if someone thinks I'm lazy because I don't have a "real" job.  I'm slowly learning how to respond, in a godly manner, to those people who like to subtlely (or not so much) suggest that they would like to know what I do all day.  That just doesn't bother me anymore because my husband and I have come to the conclusion that staying home is best for us and for his/our calling.

It's okay that my hormones are so screwed up that I'm losing my hair, strand by strand everyday.  Now let's be honest - this one really does bother me.   I am absolutely terrified when I throw away these huge hunks of hair everyday and visions of a middle-aged bald woman come to mind.  Go ahead and laugh - but you know it won't be pretty.

It's okay that I don't want to spend hours outside amongst the flowers.  It's okay that I've begged the deacons to keep the "front house" landscaping to just 2 bushes so I don't have to weed and care for the flower beds around the porch.

It's okay that I still wear that 10 year old black skirt to church at least twice a month because it's my favorite.  I'm getting used to people commenting about my lack of sandal/flip-flop wearing in the summer and I'm getting used to ignoring the people who exclaim over the fact that I still wear tennis shoes when it's 100 degrees outside.

And it's okay that I don't own a smartphone.  (Although, I'm trying to convince Shawn that we should get them soon!)

It's okay that some people don't like me.  To be honest, this one is new to me.  Dealing with people who are angry or upset at me or possibly hate me is something I never thought I'd have to handle.  My whole life, I've jumped hurdles and vaulted over mountains to maintain the peace with everyone.  I absolute despise confrontation.  I cannot stand enmity between people.  But yet, in this calling I have as a pastor's wife - I've learned that this is no longer possible.  There will be those who will hate me because of what I stand for.  There will be those who will be angry because I won't behave as they feel a pastor's wife should behave.  There will be those who will get up and walk out of a building as soon as I enter because they have decided not to like me.  I feel the curious gazes and stares from strangers in a community where everyone knows everyone, except me.  There will be those uncomfortable pauses in conversation when people realize that my husband is a pastor, and so they better start being more careful of how they behave and act in front of me.

All these things have happened or will happen.  And every one of these things has troubled me.  Some have rocked me to my core.  I don't want people to think ill of me.  I've never wanted to be the outcast or the stranger.  I've never wanted to be the one who others guard themselves against.  I've never wanted to be the one who was rejected.

But that is who I am.

And the longer I live in this world, and the longer I struggle with my own sin and the sins of those around me - the more I realize that being a misfit is just fine.

I loved watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with my first graders at Christmas.  It's just an awesome movie.  When the Island of Misfit Toys made its grand appearance, the kids would always get sad and pity the toys who were stuck there.  But you know what?  I was never sad for those toys.

Maybe that's because I already realized then, what I'm telling you now.  I belong there, too.  I am a misfit.

But, there's a place I'm headed to where all the misfits go.  All sorts of dysfunctional, hurting, broken people will be there with me...and I'll bring along my own dysfunction.  But just before I enter the gates of this wonderful place - all of my dysfunction, all of my brokenness will be fixed.  It will be completely gone.

And in that moment....I'll no longer be a misfit.

Everyone knows someone who has already traveled to this wonderful place.  Tonight, I think of my two children, of my father-in-law.  One of my children is celebrating a first birthday today, and I know without a doubt that this child of mine is not a misfit.  This child fits perfectly in the heavenly home that has been provided.  And someday, my misfit self will finally get to go there too.

So, today has just been one of those misfit days and there will be so many more to come.  But I'm finding that it doesn't matter anymore because I know where I do fit in.