This is a question I’ve been pondering over the last week. What’s worse, is that if I allow my flesh to answer, the answer would be an emphatic NO. I am a big believer in standing up for people, especially the ones who don’t even realize they need it. And some of the hardest people to love, forgive, and offer mercy to-are the people who need it the most. So, when you take on a ministry-role such as this, I’d say that you better be prepared to get shot down, talked about, stabbed & sucker-punched-simultaneously, lol. The world would say, ‘get thick skin.’ But for us Christians it means to DIE DAILY. It’s an every day decision to pick up my cross, die to self and follow Him-wherever He leads. I’m extremely blessed to have a handful of people in my life who grasp this & are so gracious to remind me. You see, if I’m keeping my eyes focused on Jesus, then I won’t be so consumed with MY feelings, MY reputation, MY this..MY that…As I type those words, it’s sickening to look at. I find myself looking to scripture to “encourage myself”. I am a daughter of the Most High God, I am more than a conqueror in Christ, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am clothed in his righteousness, etc, etc…But this morning as I struggle through this, the Lord spoke something to me: It’s still about me!!! Don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing more powerful in our hands than the unfiltered, unedited Word of God! And we need to be continually speaking this out loud over our lives. But if I’m simply looking for what’s in it for me and missing the big picture that GOD LOVES PEOPLE, I’ve missed it. Period. Start from Genesis and continue through to Revelation. It’s not just his love letter-The bible is His living will! Think about that for a moment. He’s left his instructions for us to follow, but instead of THINGS being preserved, it’s His people He’s longing for US to help preserve. That’s why we are here!! You can’t read through the gospels without seeing Jesus’ heart for people. Everyone knows John 3:16, but have we figured out that the whosoevers aren’t just us, but everyone? Need more convincing? How about Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Are we forgetting to put someone else’s name in that ‘us’ part?I was reminded this past week of the call on my life, the purpose for my being: To love people into God’s Kingdom-no matter what. My strategies are filth in comparison to God’s strategy which are love, mercy, grace. As I’m thinking about my poor little self getting talked about and having a pity-party-for-one, the enemy sits back and laughs that I’ve been distracted-MOMENTARILY. So now that God’s got a hold of me & told me to get over myself, I’m more resolved than ever to strap on my custom-fit armor and wield the sword of His Word. If my walk is simply all about how I can use God’s Word for my benefit alone, the enemy has done his job. He wants nothing more than an un-unified body. And boy does he know, if we would stop being about self-preservation and self-promotion, become a people that loves God, loves one another and whose heart is about souls, he would be weakened in these last days!! We need to be a body who isn’t just memorizing catch-phrases to share & post when we feel like it. We need His WHOLE WORD to permeate our souls. We need to proclaim His heavenly language upon this Earth. Friends, the choice is ours. Over and over again this week, God has spoken the word, “rescue” to me. Someone in your life needs rescue! They may not know it, they may oppose it, they may not want to receive it, they may be the messiest of the messy, but then, weren’t we at some point? This is not for the faint of heart. Allow me to cite a scientific law. Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion says this: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Don’t think I’m saying that the enemy is an equal force, I’m just saying that where there has been no Word spoken, no light brought, there will be opposition. Here’s the great news. We do not have to do this alone. God’s provided every tool necessary to us through His Word; not only that, we won’t be able to do this without the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m talking about the battle as a whole. We will all have our own personal battles to fight from time to time. WE NEED EACH OTHER. Close your eyes for a moment. I’ll bet you’re gonna see someone’s face who needs Jesus. So what will you do? Are people worth it? You bet they are, because my God says they are! “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your heart know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?” Proverbs 24:11-12
Welcome to Part II of my NMPK blog. Notice I’ve changed the title from ‘Once’ to ‘Recovering’. I realize that somehow that gave the false impression that I no longer ever, ever, EVER struggle with perfection-infection parenting…and that’s not true. Sometimes, it creeps back up when I’m not keeping it in check. Chapter 2 begins as an ouch: “Children rarely choose to strive for perfection on their own. Rather, their parents’ expectations and reactions to their mistakes convince them they have no choice.” As Jill and Dr. Kathy begin to list the 10 dangers of perfectionism and a challenge to read them using two perspectives, I can’t help but cringe. You see, I am first viewing these through my own childhood experiences, and then through the eyes of my children. Friends, I encourage you to take your time through this part. Stop and ask yourself the questions following each danger depicted. This part hurts. First, it hurts because I have to rehash memories from my childhood. And no discredit to my parents, at all. They did the very best they knew to do. I’m in absolute agreement with these ladies as they point out that temperament and personality play a role in perfectionism-parenting. The way I was parented does not necessarily define my own tendencies as a parent today. Secondly, it hurts because I wonder how much I’ve hurt my own kids because of my perfectionism tendencies. Make no mistake, perfectionism is a bondage and without the power of God’s grace in my life, it would have never been broken. I often talk about the ripple-effect and cycles being repeated. What I do NOW as a parent has the potential to set my kids up to repeat the cycle when they become parents. But-there’s good news 🙂 It is never too late! Ok. So, you do some evaluating. You take a few deep breaths, slow down to process and change the course of your actions! Sounds simple, huh? Well…let’s look at the antidotes needed when perfectionism collides with parenting. Compassion has never been a strong point of mine-I grew up with the ‘toughen up’ mentality. And I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong with that. However, “learning to listen with empathy builds trust and intimacy with your kids”. Simply, put yourself in their shoes. Perception is getting in tune with your child(ren). As a mother of five vivacious kids, there’s no way I can parent them all the same. They simply wouldn’t allow it, lol. Learning to pay attention, ask questions, LISTEN and wait. Don’t jump in with your thoughts and fixes. Parent each of your children individually. Acceptance is huge. We ALL want to be accepted, even as adults! In a nutshell? Ask yourself this: would I want to be on the receiving end of my attitudes and words? For some of us, that is enough to convince us that we need a change. I have to work hard on this. I am vocal. I am expressive and at times, hurtful. I started doing something I learned from Lysa TerKeurst’s book “Unglued”. I take a sip of what words want to come out of my mouth..taste them. Most often, they are too bitter. I’d much rather taste than to swallow or gulp down the regret I’ll feel later from spewing pure yuckiness. Last but not least, love. Love is the most overused and misused word. Putting that aside, though, we learn about love from God, whose love is perfect, unconditional, and never-ending. But, as Jill and Dr Kathy point out, we often operate using this equation: Bad behavior=Withdrawal of Affection. We don’t really mean to, but it’s a natural tendency. Our kids don’t need to wonder if our love is at stake when they make a mistake, misbehave or misrepresent “us”. There must be an establishment in your family that says “no matter what, I will still love you”; an “even if” kind of love. A love that says, “I may not like you all that much right now, but I haven’t changed my mind about you.” I Corinthians 13:4-7, famously known as the Love Chapter is a model for us all to follow as Christians, but I like the way these ladies have reformulated these verses to fit into our parenting strategy:
Love is patient. Am I patient with my child? Love is kind. Am I kind when it takes my child twice the amount of time to do something than I think it should? Love does not envy. Do I wish that my child were more like this mom’s son or that mom’s daughter? Love does not boast. Am I quick to share what my child does well or to hide areas when the child doesn’t seem to measure up? Love is not proud. Am I hesitant to share how I’m really doing or how my child is really doing out of a fear of what people will think? Love does not dishonor others. Do I ever dishonor my child, demanding that child be someone other than the unique person God has made him or her to be? Love is not self-seeking. Am I ever selfish in my interactions with my child? Love keeps no records of wrongs. Do I have an ongoing list in my head about everything my child has done wrong? Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Do I keep my mind focused on God’s truth about my child? Love protects. Do I protect this unique human being God entrusted to me even when he challenges my authority? Love trusts. Do I trust that God has a bigger picture in mind for this child’s life? Do I believe that God knows what his or her future holds and I don’t? Love hopes. Do I hope and believe the best for this child, or do I dread what tomorrow might bring? Love perseveres. Do I keep my mind on the future possibilities rather than focusing on the difficulties and challenges I’m dealing with today?
Hi friends! I’m attaching the No More Perfect Moms trailer for you guys to see. Let me know what you think. I’ll be posting my next blog tomorrow. All I can say is if you haven’t had the opportunity to read No More Perfect Moms, you are missing out! No More Perfect Kids is such a complimentary book to this series-eye opening!
My 1st Day of Being a Mommy. Peering into those blue eyes and feeling the weight of this miracle in my arms was completely breathtaking. This is how most of us begin our journey. Such high hopes, high expectations. Visions of butterfly kisses and giggles. Somewhere in the days, months and years that follow, a new reality settles in. And that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it because it is, my friends. It just means stumbling and falling, two steps forward and a step or two back; learning as you go, listening to trusted advice of Godly women(who’ve been there and survived ;)), leaning a whole lot on Jesus, saying you’re sorry and getting back up. Again. Saying ‘I love you, always and no matter what’. Communicating-with words. Friends, parenthood is the hardest job I’ll ever do, but watching your children grow up, walking THEIR path brings a joy that is priceless!!
It’s a lesson I wish I could have learned a long time ago. I look back and wince, at times, at the mom I was. So young, so insecure. So afraid to do the wrong things. That was nearly 19 years ago. Since then, we’ve added 4 more to our crew. Along the way, this momma has had to let go of the bondage of perfectionism. That’s right-bondage. It nearly destroyed me. It took coming to several forks in the road and deciding that my family was worth more than my need for control. Worth more than risking the damage to the precious little hearts I was entrusted with. More than raising another generation of perfection-infected humans. The cycle HAD to be broken.
Thus my road to recovery began after one of the worst knockout, drag out fights with my then, 14 year old daughter. To see us now, you wouldn’t know it. We enjoy one of the closest bonds a mother and daughter can have. But back then, I walked around wondering when she was going to explode. If she was planning on moving out and in with her dad. Crushed and broken because I couldn’t be a better mom, a better everything. Waiting to pounce on her every mistake… And I never knew what I was doing to her little heart. I can still hear her words to me,” I can’t be PERFECT like you, mom! I can’t be GOOD all the time and make the RIGHT decisions EVERY TIME! I can’t make perfect grades! I’m sorry I can’t meet your expectations! You put so much pressure on me!” From an outsider looking in, it may sound like the dramatic rantings of a teenager; but to this mom, it was a wake up call. I never realized I had been draping my expectations on top of her and the weight was too much to bear. From that conversation, this momma had to earn to live, actually live in front of my kids. Letting them see me fail, & make wrong decisions. To say I’m sorry. To pray for forgiveness and guidance. Somewhere, we forget that our children are not us. They were never meant to walk our path or even the path we want for them (even if it is a Godly one). I’ll never forget the wise words of my pastor as I cried over one of my children in his office: “Brenda, there is still a plan for them. God hasn’t changed His mind. It may be delayed, but it is still there. It may not be what YOU had planned for them, but God’s ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are, too. And He loves them more than even you do. He is in the redeeming business.” All I knew then was to cover them with prayer and pour love and grace and mercy over them. And friends, that’s it right there. Cover your children with prayer, pour out love and mercy. Extend grace without limits. Just like a child learning to ride a bike, they begin with training wheels. Then, we hold on for a while, giving support until they’re able to steady themselves and then LET GO. Help them to see what they can accomplish, be that soft spot to land when they get a few scrapes, help them get back on the road and cheer like crazy on the sidelines as they fly!!
These are my thoughts as I begin reading No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch. I’m excited to share this journey with you all. Yep, it’s gonna take some transparency on my part, but if it will help even one mom or dad embrace who they are in Christ and their children that God has blessed them with, here we go! Now, the book isn’t set to release until March, but if you can hang on to buy it until March 14-22, you’ll be tremendously blessed with some freebies!! Nearly $100.00 of free resources from Hearts at Home and Moody Publishers will be available to you. I have had the good fortune of being on Jill’s previous Book Launch ‘No More Perfect Moms’ and it changed my life. I’m not a fan of ‘self-help’ books…and this is not one of them. But when you pair the open heart of a woman whose heart is at home, fully living for Jesus and loving her family, with God’s Word-it is like oxygen for those suffocating under the pressures of perfectionism. Stay tuned, friends. The best is yet to come!!
It feels so good to be back to my writing!! It’s been a long hiatus for me, full of non-stop deadlines and just unnecessary “fluff”. This is my sweet spot. I’m just so much better in print, haha. Anyway, with that being said, “Hello World!!”
Ahh, new year, new beginnings. Not trying to sound cliche’, but there’s something to be said about a new year. It’s like the springboard that catapults us back on our path, or sometimes, blazing a new one. I can’t even begin to cram all that the Lord has done this past year for me, my family, etc…I’ll share as inspiration strikes. But even better, is the renewed purpose in my life. The whole “ok, Brendalou, is this the year that you stop stumbling and fumbling with distractions & do what you’ve been destined to? or are you gonna go ’round the mulberry bush again and again, never reaching the next level??”
Have you ever been scared of what the Lord has shown you? I’m not saying that it’s some super-huge awesome thing; but it’s just big enough to make me get that feeling in the pit of my stomach. You know, when you know there’s no way it can be done without a huge dose of Holy Ghost! I think sometimes we (women) are afraid of stepping out because we don’t want to be all “out there”. Out there meaning, we don’t want to be perceived as domineering, outspoken, out-of-place; put your own word in the blank. And so we hesitate. I loved the book, Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere. I’m inspired by her words and teaching. I remember reading this question: “Who benefits when we hesitate?” The answer to that is ‘no one.’ What happens if no one steps out? Better yet—what would happen if we all stepped out-in complete faith that God was going to show up and do His thing in the midst of our obedience? I can hardly fathom it. What would this world look like? Or our homes, families, communities, churches?? Oh, friends.. what a thought!! But-are we willing to put ourselves on the line for the advancement of God’s Kingdom? Dying to self..daily?? Being grounded in scripture (studying His word) & empowered by the Holy Spirit? I mean, for those of us who are spirit-filled: Do we possess what we profess? Do we live every day manifesting the fruits of love, joy, peace, etc?(Galatians 5:22-23)
Let me pause right here by saying that I am a work in progress. Trust me. I don’t write or speak about anything that the Lord hasn’t already worked on in me OR is currently working on in me 🙂 There’s no condemnation here, friend-only grace! I need it continually, lest I forget where I’ve come from. And I want to live a life that extends grace, too!
Back to the subject-Sisters, we were never meant for smallness. And I think we need to adjust our lenses to understand what that means. The moment we come to realization of who we are in Christ Jesus, is THAT moment the enemy of our soul is afraid of most. When we begin to define ourselves according to what God’s Word says and not anything/anyone, ladies-you’re stepping into a new realm!! Notice I say stepping. That’s an action verb. We can read and talk about it all day long, but that’s not accomplishing anything. We’ve got to perpetrate(take ownership, be responsible for, commit) it in order to activate it! I get so excited when I see a young girl/woman become free in Jesus! We need that more in our churches today. We need more women who will step out of themselves and into God’s plan, so that even more sisters can become free. None of this is attainable without being in God’s Word, spending time in His presence, prayer, fellowship amongst other believers, and continually seeking the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need to stop doubting ourselves and stop listening to the voice of the enemy that says, “you’re not good enough, you have a past..” Ok..AND?? EVERYONE has a past!! And when the that ole snaggletooth brings it up, remind him of his future!! Remind him about the God whose Son overcame death, hell and the grave and that he is under your feet. Take those thoughts captive and put them under the submission of Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 10:5) And keep on going, Boo…
I leave you with this scripture from 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (The Message). I like how it’s worded in this version. It says: “Dear, dear Corinthians(my sisters), I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” Sisters, let’s rise up together, let’s continue to build each other up and pray for one another. When one of us succeeds, we ALL do!!
It’s been one of those days..well, ok..it’s been one of those weeks. Today just seems to be a little harder than most. Trying to make sense of all the emotions and thoughts that are swirling around in my head. Wondering when I’m going to feel ok again. It’s just a surface kind of thing, because deep down I know that God is in control of all our circumstances. But, on the surface, it seems like I can hardly keep my head above water. And there’s where I found an interesting perspective in this process.
I’ll begin first by explaining that I’m hurt. But not just hurt for me, hurt for one of my kids. My girl, has been dealt a harsh punishment for simply being herself. This kid’s got passion and drive. When she sees an injustice, it’s not too hard to get her fired up to speak about it. Well, sometimes the consequence for having an outspoken personality brings negative reprocussions from those who oppose the truth or the acceptance of it. It’s just the way the world works sometimes. It just feels worse when you have to watch your child learn it. I am, however, more than confident that she’s going to come out of this like refined gold.
And this is where I find myself, today. Trying to process feelings of anger towards those whose minds were made up about her before she even got to defend herself..bitterness that she was robbed of a life achievement she’s worked hard for, and all the pomp & circumstance that comes with it. Keeping the tears that want to fall at bay. Wanting to shut down and hide somewhere. Wishing that I could shield her, and knowing that I can’t. Envying the quiet confidence that she displays when I feel so afraid. The thought passed through my head, “I’m barely keeping my head above water.” I’m drowning in my hurt, disappointment, anger…but God. I realized that oftentimes when I’m feeling those waves crash against me and the swells knocking me down that I’m fighting something greater than I can control. I’m frantically paddling and kicking, and all the while I just need to let go and give it to God. He’s not surprised by any of this. He’s right here in the midst of it with me. I find comfort from His Word that reminds me that He’ll never leave me or forsake me (Deut 31:6). And He promises that those things that the enemy has meant for evil, He will turn around and use it for His glory (Gen 50:20). That nothing is wasted, no trial, no test. Nothing. It’s all part of a grand design He has prepared ahead of time for us(Eph 2:10). So what do I do with these thoughts, these fears? Line them up against God’s Word. If they don’t belong, then I toss them back to the pits of hell from where they came from. That simple. Sometimes it takes a little practice to get myself there, but, shucks..He is so faithful to remind me: through his Word, through the people that love me. How can I remain downcast??
“There’s a raging sea right in front of me, wants to pull me in, bring me to my knees. So let the waters rise if you want them to. I will follow you, I will follow you.” Mike’s Chair
As a mom, I have found that God speaks to me in so many strange ways. Whether it be in the midst of my 3 year old daughters temper tantrum or my eldest daughters attitude. There are so many challenges in motherhood, especially when mothering five, head-strong children. I have learned to accept things with God’s grace and wisely pick my battles. Mommy-life is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, but it is also filled with the most beautiful moments. I’m not a perfect mom, I dont think there is even such a thing as a perfect mom. Through God’s grace, which is sufficient for me, I have have so many “ah-hah” moments with the Lord. When my children choose not to listen to me, I think, “Wow God, is this what you feel like on a daily basis with all of your many children?” There are times when I’m at the lowest of lows with my children that I remember that there was a time that I too rebelled against my earthly and heavenly father. But God is good and his love does endure forever. He has loved me through all of my temper-tantrums, my rebelling, my confusion. He has been my place of refuge and the shelter where I seek peace. He has loved me at my most unlovable moments and has had faith in me in my most unfaithful times. Just as God as shown me so much loving mercy, I strive to be so with my own children and many times fail to be. As humans will never be able to live up to God’s perfect parenting standards, this will be a place where; I can share all my imperfect moments as a mommy, all of my “ah-hah” moments, and all of the frustration and laughter that comes along with it. So without further due, welcome to Paramomalies.