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I Don’t Care About Your Leggings or Your Vaccines…

loveI can’t be the only person tired of getting on my Facebook feed and inwardly (or sometimes audibly) groaning at seeing another link to an article about leggings or vaccines (hello Kristen Bell – I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to hold your baby anyway, but thanks for the heads up!) or 50 Shades of Grey. 

The crazy thing is, it’s not even because I don’t agree with what’s being said.  I have definite stances on each of these issues.  I am tired of them because of the hateful responses the topics bring out.  And from brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am appalled at the language and verbiage and utter distain I have seen being shown toward those we are supposedly going to be spending eternity with.  What must our Heavenly Father be thinking? Over leggings?!?

It’s almost as if we want to be able to form a mental checklist of our friends – well so and so agrees with me on vaccines.  Ohh, that friend from church doesn’t.  She thinks I shouldn’t wear leggings?!? Why are we doing this to ourselves? What is the real point?

I am not saying that we shouldn’t discuss matters of sin – although I question whether or not the internet is really the right forum for that either.  In Matthew 6-7, Jesus talks a lot about the hypocrites going about their worship in public to be seen – how they would pray standing in the street corners.  To some extent, I feel that’s how some of these blogs and topics are being spread.  I don’t know the hearts of the people, and it’s not for me to pass judgment, but what is the point of writing or passing on a topic condemning someone – is it to “inform” them of their sin to change them? Does that ever  work? Jesus shared with people in a relational way to bring them the Good News, shouldn’t we do the same – not blast them anonymously or long-distance over the Internet?

There was a recent study done at the Beihang University in China that shows rage goes viral faster than happiness, pride, or disgust.  RAGE.  ANGER. HATE.  That’s what we’re promoting online.  And at record speeds.  And I believe if we’re honest, it’s no different in the “Christian” community.  What comments did you read about the leggings issues? Vaccines? 50 Shades of Grey? I know the ones I read.  They were filled with rage and anger and hate. 

John 13:35 says, “By this all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Are we showing that when a Christian mom in Oregon shares her thoughts on why she will no longer wear leggings in public and we verbally crucify her publicly on website after website? Are we loving each other when we mock women for their “mundane” sex lives when they state they will not see 50 Shades of Grey? WHERE IS OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER???

The study did show there was one emotion that went viral faster than rage – AWE.  That’s right, awe. 

awe

Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

Let’s stop spreading the rage and start spreading awe.  Like some random acts of kindness.  Or showing how God has answered prayers.  Or miracles – He still does those you know!

 

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To My Daughter’s New Stepmom

ABURKE2014 (11)I always knew this day would come.  I mean, I didn’t expect my ex-husband to stay single forever.  Nor do I want him to stay single forever.  I really don’t have a problem with him getting married.  So in that way, I am happy that he met you.  But to say that I’m happy for you would not exactly be telling the truth.  You see, you aren’t exactly the woman I pictured being the stepmom to my baby girl.  But, if I’m being honest, no woman probably would have measured up to that. I would want that woman to be just like me.  Someone to love her just like me, and I know realistically that’s not going to happen.  

I haven’t actually met you yet, so I don’t know what you think of me, but I want you to know I don’t hate you.  I do hate the fact that by marrying you he is leaving our daughter and moving across the country.  Because, you see, our daughter adores her father, and it’s going to crush her when he leaves.  It’s hard enough on her now that she only sees him twice a week – what is she going to do only seeing him a few times a year?  I don’t know if you have a father, but if you do, maybe you can imagine just a little bit how much my daughter loves her dad and how much she’s going to miss him.

I know that you don’t have any children of your own.  I have already been down this path of stepmom-hood, and I can tell you that it’s hard – really hard.  I know it’s not going to be any easier just because the child is mine.  But when the going gets tough, please just try to remember a few things:

  • When she cries because she misses me, it’s not because she doesn’t like you or even because you’re doing anything wrong.  It’s because she’s six and she doesn’t adjust to change very well.
  • Sometimes she gets scared and emotional at night and needs someone to lay down with her a little extra longer before bed, but then she’s usually fine.
  • She’s not there to come between you and your husband, but she needs some time one-on-one with daddy too.
  • She loves to bake.  Any time you spend with her in the kitchen will really help her bond with you.
  • Too much TV, ipad, sugar, or dye makes her CRAZY – save yourself!
  • She likes to have a nightlight and a drink of water by her bed.
  • If she decides one day to call you “mom” that’s ok with me – I hope it will be with you too.

I know you won’t love her just like me, and that’s ok. Unconditional love doesn’t just come overnight. She can be frustrating and sassy and too talkative – but she can be SO loving and funny and caring and she’ll be your best little friend, if you’ll just give her the chance.

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Avoid the Valentine’s Day Trap

vday

Valentine’s Day really snuck up on me this year.  I just finished hurriedly rushing Daughter P. through writing her name on the back of Princess Sofia cards for her homeschool party tomorrow, which is the equivalent of a major written exam for a six-year-old.
I’m sure it’s no news to you that Valentine’s Day has become this huge high-pressure holiday – especially for men.  I went to the jewelry store the other day to get my ring checked for insurance and the sales lady kept pressuring me to fill out a “wish list” for my husband to fulfill for me for Valentine’s Day.  She just couldn’t believe I didn’t want any more jewelry.
Sure, I appreciate nice gifts – what woman doesn’t – but I don’t get putting pressure on our husbands to fulfill this perfect romantic image society has put on them on this day every single year. And don’t even get me started on this 50 Shades of Gray business.
Last year we had an amazingly romantic Valentine’s Day in Chicago seeing Phantom of the Opera and eating at Twin Anchors, the restaurant from the movie “Return to Me.” It was perfect.
Other years we’ve celebrated with all of our kids and had a “fancy” dinner all together in our kitchen with tapered candles.
This year I’m hanging out with this guy
bigbirdThat’s right – Valentine’s Day is all about Andy this year, and heaven help me, I’m going to Comic Con.  Andy is a big Jim Henson fan and we are going to meet Carol Spinney who is the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.  But it will be perfect, because the man I love will love it.  Isn’t that what the day is supposed to be about – loving each other? Since when did it just become about the women?
I guess it’s really hit home for me this year because Daughter P’s dad is choosing not to spend the evening with her so he and his girlfriend can go out – even though they have the whole weekend together.  That’s hard, because I am going to have a hurt little girl on my hands Saturday night.  So, after Big Bird, Andy and I have reservations at our local Chick-fil-A where they are having a fancy plated dinner and carriage rides, so her evening will be special no matter what.
Don’t fall into the Valentine’s Day trap ladies – don’t ruin the day over a gift (or lack of one). YOU set the tone for your home.  Even if you’re
surrounded by kids, make the day special.
Check out The Dating Divas website for some great ideas or look for The Second Chance Wife on Pinterest to see what I’ve found!
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Serving Others – A Call to Action

sacrifice

Tonight I attended the memorial service for my dear friend’s mother.  She lost a hard-fought battle with cancer, and praise the Lord, she is now in the arms of her Jesus!

But as I came home, I kept mulling over the testimonies of her life that her family and friends gave, and the one thing that stuck out to me was the stories told about her attitude of service.  It was repeated over and over again by each person that stood up and spoke.  And it was true.  She was the kind of person who never met a stranger – her home was a haven to all and she went out of her way to make everyone feel like family.

Two stories in particular were really challenging to me.  Her daughter told a story about a time they were eating in a restaurant and the waitress mentioned how much she liked her mother’s purse.  So before the meal was over, her mother got a brown sack, emptied her contents into it, and gave the server her handbag.  She told the lady, “It seems like you like it much more than I do.”  Now I don’t know about you, but I like my purses, and it has never crossed my mind to just give one away to someone who has complimented me on one!

The second story was even more telling about this precious lady’s heart.  The pastor said just two weeks before she passed (and she was already in Hospice care), she called him inquiring about how she could help a family in need in their church.  Even on her (literal) death-bed, she was wanting to know how she could be a blessing to others.  This lady didn’t just serve others, she served sacrificially.  What a Biblical example of service!

serve

Acts 20:35 states, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

We mothers are usually good at sacrificing for our children.  If we have to choose between us getting what we need or our children, it’s a no-brainer.  Same thing for our husbands.  But do we serve sacrificially outside of our home?

I have to admit, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in this area just by making a meal for someone or giving a homeless person on the corner some money every once in a while.  Sometimes I send out a card of encouragement.  Those things are all well and good, but they certainly didn’t cause any amount of sacrifice on my part.

I wonder what our giving and our service would look like if it really cost us something? Imagine the blessings we could bestow on others – what we could teach our children! What would you be willing to sacrifice?

– would you give up vacation $ to pay for another couple to have a much-needed weekend away?

– would you give up the chance to go to this years home school convention so another mom could go?

– would you not eat out for a month so you could give someone else grocery money?

I just can’t help much imagine what an impact we could have on the world for Jesus if we really loved and served the way the He did.  In a way that actually cost us something.  What will they remember about you at your funeral?

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What Our Children Don’t Know Won’t Hurt Them

We don’t have cable TV in our home.  The only shows we watch are when we have family movies nights, or very occasional PBS cartoons during lunchtime.

So I was appalled this week when Son I. came home from school with this Time “for Kids” Magazine with Malala Yousafzai on the cover.  In case you are not familiar with her, Malala is a young woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban on the way to school in 2012.

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The article talks about how her friends sold her out to the Taliban fighters before they shot her in the head.  According to the article, Malala was voted person of the year over Taylor Swift and Peyton Manning.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather my children vote for a singer or football player and not have any idea about a girl on the other side of the world being shot in the head on the way to school.

Another article in the same magazine talked about the terrorist attacks in France.  It said, “The week before the rallies, gunmen had shot and killed 17 innocent people in three separate attacks.  The victims included eight journalists and three police officers.  The gunmen are believed to have had ties to the terrorist groups of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.”

Son I. is in third grade.  He is nine years old.  Does he really need to know about al-Qaeda and ISIS? More than that, with Common Core, my children can barely figure out multiplication and division, much less write a cohesive paragraph, but they are spending time on this?!?

I know some of you will just tell us if we don’t like public schools to pull them out.  We already homeschool Daughter P, but due to the nature of Andy’s divorce, we have no choice but to keep our other children in the school where they are.

Secondly, I don’t advocate keeping your child naïve of all the wrongs in the world.  We strongly support missionaries in Ghana and our children understand that there are people all over the world who suffer in various ways and don’t have as much as we do in America.

But do our children need to know about terrorists and school shootings and other adult issues? And then we wonder about why childhood anxiety is on the rise.  Time magazine itself had an article suggesting up to 25% of children have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.  From scary dreams to being unable to sleep to general worry – why are we forcing our children to deal with issues that terrify us as adults?

Let our kids be kids!

Dawn

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How the “Mommy Wars” Are Destroying the Christian Church

judging

“Please don’t judge me.” Her words caught me off guard, as judging her was the last thing on my mind.  Here was my new friend, tears fresh on her cheeks, sick baby on her hip, 4-year-old at her side, rushing her daughter into acting class early on Saturday.  She’d obviously had a rough morning.  She repeated the phrase often that morning while we entertained her boys and waited for our daughters to finish their play practice.  “I’m not judging you.  I think you’re doing a great job.  You’re boys aren’t bothering anyone.  Let them run around.”  I pulled out paper for them to draw on, then my phone, then finally walked around with them as we waited for the time to pass.  Anything to help her de-stress. But I just kept thinking, this is my friend.  Why is she so worried about me judging her?

The answer’s really not that hard is it? That’s what we women do to each other.  ALL. THE. TIME.  Even to our “friends.”  Oh, we’d rarely admit it.  But there’s pretty much a non-stop commentary going on in our heads of what other women are doing (or saying or wearing) that’s wrong.  Even in us Christians.  Maybe especially in us Christians.

Although they officially started way back in 1986, the “Mommy Wars” are alive and well.  And they are destroying us.  Destroying our friendships, destroying our families, and destroying the Church as a whole.  Think about how many friends you have.  True friends.  Friends that you never judge and who you never worry about judging you.  Up until this year, I had maybe one.  My divorce pretty much ruined friendships for me.  I lost ALL of my friends from my previous church in one fell swoop.  I tried out moms groups in my new town after I married Andy, but it seemed like it was just a big competition of who’s kid was smartest or who had the most expensive outfit or purse.  It was exhausting.  I never fit in.

We judge each other on whether we work or stay home.  On whether our kids go to school or are homeschooled.  We judge each other on the types of snacks our kids eat and the brand of clothes they wear.  We judge each other on the cleanliness of our homes and the kinds of birthday parties we throw for our children.  The list is exhaustive.  And exhausting.

So what’s the result? We now live in a society where we was women never truly connect with one another, because we don’t feel we can ever trust each other.  Instead, we are constantly evaluating how the women around us are judging us.  We don’t trust their words, because we believe they are just covering up negative thoughts they are thinking about us.  We have no real friends.

What are the implications for the Church?

  1. It hinders our worship – We are too focused on how others are viewing us to focus on God.  Your mind is not prepared to praise the Lord or learn from His Word when you are worried about how other women in the Sunday School or Sanctuary are viewing you or your children.
  2. We are not fulfilling the command given to women in Titus 2:4- “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children…” How can we teach one another when we can’t form trusting relationships?
  3. We are not reaching other women for Christ.  If we are too busy judging or worrying about being judged to reach out to new women, we will never be able to share the Gospel with women who desperately need it.

It wasn’t until this year that I finally found a core group of homeschool friends that I can honestly say I never feel judged by.  And it’s amazing.  It’s something that I wish I could give to all of you and a peaceful place I pray you can all find for yourself.

Dawn

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How to Survive in the Workplace When Your Heart is at Home

“Whenever the Bible expressly talks about the marks of an excellent woman, the stress is always on feminine virtue.  The most significant women in Scripture were influential not because of their careers, but because of their character.” – John MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women.

      As I mentioned yesterday, my desire has always been to be a wife and mother.  More specifically, a stay-at-home wife and mother.  Now please do not take offense if this is not your desire.  This is not a post bashing women who choose to be in the workplace, but rather an encouragement for those women who desire to stay home, but can’t.

     Although I’ve always wanted to stay home, in the four years that I have been a mother, this dream of mine has never been fulfilled. For whatever reason, the Lord has never allowed for this door to be open to me. I originally went into teaching thinking that given the time off, it would be the next best thing to staying at home, and it was.  However, in the past few years, even this door has been closed, and I have taken a job in the public workforce.  My schedule is great for during the week, but includes a lot of Saturdays.  This means a lot of missed quality family time.

     From now until the end of the year, I have to work 9 weekends.  Just thinking about it almost gives me a panic attack.  That’s 9 Saturdays where my precious children and husband will be out enjoying the Fall weather and participating in fun holiday activities without me.

     In my previous marriage, this became a source of contention, and I am determined to not let that be the case in my new marriage.  Before, I had to work because I was the one with the steady job and I made more money than my spouse.  More importantly, I think, it was not an important goal for my ex-husband.  Things could not be more different this time around.  Andy has a good, steady, well-paying job, and more importantly, he greatly desires for me to be home taking care of the house and the children.  Unfortunately, I acquired the majority of the debt from my previous marriage, and it’s going to take a little bit of time working and applying my paycheck to that in order for it to be paid off.  I am fully on board with our plan, and I believe that I should work to help get it paid off, but I still like to lament about my circumstances sometimes.

     I was doing just this thing the other day (with tears and all), and Andy shared that he was carrying guilt about me having to work.  Well, talk about guilt…the Lord greatly convicted me about my attitude.  It was not lifting up my husband at all, but actually tearing him down.  I resolved to stick it out, and keep any complaints to myself.  I am focusing on one weekend at a time, not the 9 ahead of me, and we are figuring out how to make regular week nights family fun nights (not an easy task with elementary aged triplets and their massive amounts of homework).

    What have I decided to focus on? What I can do when I am home.  For me this week, that has meant sprucing up small areas of the house with fall decorations.  As the quote above states, I will not be known for my job in the public sector or as a stay-at-home mom, but for my virtue.  I don’t want to have the character of a complainer, and more importantly, I don’t want my husband to see me as a complainer.  So I challenge you moms who work outside of the home: don’t focus on everything you miss, but be determined to be purposeful in the time you do have in your home, and make every moment there as peaceful and as joyful as you can for yourself, your children, and your spouse.  You will be remembered for it.

Dawn

(Originally Written in 2012)