Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Guest Post: From Deserts to Gardens

For this week’s mentor Monday, I’m overjoyed to have a guest post Debra from As I See it Now.  Debra has been one of my favorite encouragers for years.  A mom of an adult daughter, she has much wisdom to share with us.  Thank you so much, Debra!

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So there I was… out in the hot Nevada desert in 1989, newly-moved into a mobile home in a town far from any shopping malls, with 9-year-old Naomi and my husband, Tom, who worked four days farther out in the (bleak) desert then stayed home for four. Well, when things went smoothly. Often he worked longer stretches.

In that dried-up place, complaining about the heat, the sand flying in my face, the lack of scenery and fun things to do was easy. And since Nevada is the most transient state, even church people hesitate to form friendships with new folks who’ll just probably escape soon, so I felt ultra-isolated, as well.

I’d been a positive person, but in Nevada?  I caved-in and became morose. Naomi would leave for school and then I’d let myself go– I’d complain by the hour and for whatever reasons, I began sewing clothes for Naomi even though I hated sewing.  I gave-up trying to make friends (I’d always been shy) and instead, became passionate about writing letters to faraway pen-pals. 

Tom made more money than we needed, but spending it never cheered me up. (Wild, huh?)

Around noon each day, a cold, inky blackness seeped over me, nearly choking me and I’d try to run away by taking walks or driving to the supermarket where I’d pray someone would smile at me. Anyone. Then Naomi would arrive home from school and I’d force all these shattered pieces of myself back together for her sake, for I didn’t want her to remember a childhood with a depressed mother.

Most likely, being cheerful for her probably did much to save my mind. 


Finally, after some negative-minded, wasted years, I asked God to show me why I was so miserable. 

Oh dear. God told me my attitude stank. I wanted things He didn’t want for me and I complained about what He’d already given me (so why should He give me something better?). Resentment filled me with bitterness and spoiled the chance of new friendships, delights and adventures. 


He showed me I could have found happiness by telling others hello at the supermarket rather than waiting for them to show kindness toward me. 

After all, it is in giving that we receive. 


But most of all, He showed me the way to a rich life is to seek to know Him. Not just about Him, but to know Him so intimately that I feel Him beside me at the supermarket, the movie theater, the coffee shop. Everywhere.

Slowly God walked me out of depression. He helped me renew my mind so that I’d see things His way, not the world’s way (the world is so clueless and reactionary). And He showed me that His joy is my strength–lose that joy and I’m, well, sunk.

How different the past 18 years have looked! Oh, I’ve experienced the occasional bad days, but never has that inky black depression returned. God set my feet upon solid ground of His peace and joy and the desert in my soul vanished: He replaced it with a well-watered garden.

Facing truth about myself set me free, indeed. And that Truth wants to do the same for anyone who’s ready for a whole new life.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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Mentor Monday: My Friend Gina

Never underestimate the power of friendship in the life of someone else!

At age 17 I had just been through the one of the most painful and difficult times of my life as my family had left a legalistic, spiritually abusive religious organization.

Not only that, but I was at an awkward stage, without any direction for my future.  I didn’t have a job (long story), wasn’t going to college at that point (another long story), and was basically at loose ends.  I was depressed.  Life felt meaningless.  I had no confidence that I could do anything.

That’s when I met Gina.

We started attending the tiny church in our equally tiny East Texas community.  Gina was our pastor’s wife.  A few years older than me, she was pregnant and on bed rest with her fourth baby.  I jumped at the opportunity to give her a hand.

Like my friend Natasia, Gina mentored me just by being who she was: a faithful follower of Jesus, a loving wife and mom, and a kind friend.

She reached out to me and believed in me.  I remember her suggestion that I apply to substitute teach at the local public school.  It was beyond my comprehension that anyone would think I was capable of doing such a job.  That one small comment boosted my confidence a thousand fold.

I noticed how she interacted with her children—loving them, caring for them teaching them.

One small statement she made changed the way I viewed children altogether.  She mentioned in passing that her goal was to help her children become independent.  I came from a narrow subculture where the goal was actually to keep children dependent on their parents as long as possible (strange as that may sound), and it was revolutionary to me that independence was a worthy goal.

We became good friends.

The best part is that after Gina and her husband moved away, they introduced my husband and me.  If our friendship wasn’t set in stone before, it certainly was then!

She also recommended the Bible study Search for Significance to me, which completely turned my life upside down in the best way, and helped me grow from fearful and insecure to strong and confident in my identity in Christ.

And after coming from a religious background that eschewed makeup, she gave me my first Mary Kay samples and showed me how to apply it.  (I owe her!)

She’s still one of my very dearest friends.  I go to her with questions about everything from teaching my kids to read to how to talk to my children about sensitive subjects.

Not only that, but four of her nine children are the same ages as four of mine—and they are close friends too.

What a joy to continue that legacy of friendship!

So you see, Gina didn’t necessarily set out to mentor me in any kind of rigid, planned fashion.

She was just my friend.  And because she was my friend, she changed my life.

Who has mentored you just through their friendship?  Who can you befriend today?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It


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Learn to Love Getting Older

As my birthday approaches in a few days, I remember that I love getting older—really.

I even have a “Naturally Gray” Pinterest board.

I think youth is overrated. 

Way overrated.

I don’t really like the person I was 10 or 15 years ago.

Not to say there’s not still plenty of room for growth now—there is.  I look back at the fearful, judgmental, immature, socially inept girl that was me and I thank God that he didn’t leave me stuck in that state.  My body might have been better but my soul was a mess.

My dream has always been to be a wise older woman.  Every year I grow a little closer to that goal.

What I didn’t count on is that growing wiser means regular attendance at the school of hard knocks.

Years ago when I set about to grow, I realized this truth: Growth means pain.

When you have a lot of dead wood that needs to be lopped off by pruner’s shears, just look forward to some pretty cutting circumstances.

That knowledge helped carry me through tough times though.  Even now when I’m going through difficulty I sometimes whisper to myself, “Growth means pain.”

There are a couple parenting-related things in particular that have been bitterly hard.  I begged God for years to remove them from my life.  They stayed.  I got mad.

(It’s OK, read Psalms, David got mad at God too.  He said something along the lines of “Just shoot me now!”  So raw, honest feelings are OK with God.  Really.)

I was pretty mad for a few years.

Then I realized something.

Those brutal, painful circumstances had forced me to grow in grace as a mom.

In fact, they revolutionized the way I mother. 

Not only that, but without that particular grueling situation, it’s unlikely that I would have grown in that area at all.  It took something dramatic to unseat me from my ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior.

The situation was hard, still is in a lot of ways.  It involved other people.  I’m not saying God caused the pain.  But he sure as heck used it.

Another year older, another year wiser.

God is slowly changing the circumstance that has been so hard, but mostly he is still changing me.

He’s making a new, improved version.

Seriously?  I wouldn’t trade all the youth in the world for that.

Why do you like or dislike growing older?  How have you  matured with age?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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Mentor Monday: My Friend Natasia

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of your influence, even in a short amount of time.

I only knew Natasia for a few months before we lost touch.

She was a young pastor’s wife at a local church we attended very briefly during an insanely difficult time in my early teens.

She was my mom’s friend, really.  I mean, I was there.  But I was a kid.

She was classy and beautiful, but that is not how she impacted me most.

She always spoke to me with interest and respect.

She didn’t treat me like I was little or silly.  She took a genuine interest in me.

She was even my pen-pal for a little while after we moved away.

She’ll never know what an impact she had on my life.

(Well, maybe she will.  I’ve gotten back in touch with her family through Facebook.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE Facebook?)

She was an example of faith and grace.  She loved her husband and her future children.  She had a great story about her commitment to wait for the guy God had for her.  During a time when it was easy to feel disillusioned with Christianity, I remembered her kindness, her love for Jesus, and her authentic life.  She inspired me to want to be like her.

Later, as a young pastor’s wife myself, I often remembered of the kind of pastor’s wife she was.  I knew she was the kind I wanted to be.

She mentored me just by being who she was.

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of your influence, even in a short amount of time.

 

Have you ever had someone who mentored you just by their example?  What about someone who influenced you through just a brief friendship or contact?  Share in the comments!

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

Better Mom Monday

Miscellany Monday

Hear it, Use It


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Has Mothering Burned You Out?

Today’s Mentor Monday is not by a mom, but a dad: Jeff VanVonderen, who is also a seasoned pastor, counselor, and writer.  Jeff’s writings have been essential in my growth, particularly as I came out of legalistic religious organizations and belief systems.

“[T]oo often…the work we do as Christian spouses and parents is not the right job at all. 

We focus on “unspiritual” or wrong behavior, then we set out to apply pressure, control behavior, and do everything in our power to change our spouse or children. 

As I have seen with numerous couples and families, this is the primary cause of exhaustion, depression, and the hopeless sense of wanting to bail out of it all.  When people spend their lives trying to transform their spouse and their kids, the natural results is tiredness and discouragement and the desire to quit…

The first step is easy—if we will do it: We must learn the simple difference between God’s job and ours. 

God knows you have done the best you could, using the tools you’ve had.  But God may be…saying to you, “I can see that you’ve worked really hard to help me and to please me.  But—I don’t quite know how to tell you this—you have been burning yourself out doing a job I never meant for you to do…”

I am talking about learning how to be continually empowered by God’s grace, and therefore able to empower your spouse and children to learn and to grow.  And to do that, we have to make the frightening step of giving up our fear of people and our drive to conform outwardly to what other Christians expect of us, or seem to.

God’s job is to fix and change.  Our job is to depend, serve, and equip.  This is the work of grace.  And it is more restful than you can imagine.”

~Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall.

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Linking:

Better Mom Mondays


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Mentor Monday: Mrs. Ferre

“My training to serve God began in the school of prayer, which is the strongest power on earth. 

As my mind wanders back into my childhood days, and memories unfold as pages in a book, I remember how Mama brought us eight children up on prayer.  She served it both as a full-course meal and snacks in between.  There was no escaping from this order.  It was the only contact between heaven and earth, so when one wanted to commune with God, one must pray…

Mama was impatient in her praying.  She was never willing to wait for things, but expected an immediate answer…

To Mama, prayer came as easy as breathing.  Even if she knew people termed her prayer method strange and naïve, it never seemed to bother her.  She kept on praying that the cake she had placed in the oven would not fall and that the food would stretch a long way because there were so many to feed at the table. 

And there was the long line of people who depended on her help and came to ask her to take their problems to God for them.  Those people surely believe that God would answer them through Mama.  They felt that in some strange way she was “in” with God and that He would grant her what He would refuse them.  So prayers would be sent out for a quick sale of their house, for a husband to be kinder to his wife, and children to recover from their colds. 

I often heard her prayers and saw the people coming, and I never remember one who went away disappointed.  Things did change when Mama talked with God.”

~Mama’s Way by Thyra Ferre Bjorn

The example of Thyra’s mother influenced her children to follow God.  Mama’s Way is a little book about prayer that tells about the fruit that was borne in her life because of her mother’s example.

It challenged me to set a better example to my children in the area of prayer.

Do you pray in front of your children?  How do you set an example that will inspire them spiritually?

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Linking to Better Mom Mondays

On My Heart

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!  Also, look for my e-book, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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Mentor Monday: Sally Clarkson

From Sally Clarkson’s wonderful book, The Mission of Motherhood:

It may well be that our children are not academically gifted, athletically brilliant, or socially inclined.  It may be that our marriage is conflicted or broken and cannot provide the stability we might wish for.  Our finances might be in a mess, or our income may be insufficient to provide the material possessions our children want.  Or perhaps we feel that we don’t have a supermom personality and have a hard time just holding together normal life.

If we focus on intellect, social status, or wealth, it’s almost certain that we will eventually feel we don’t quite measure up.  How comforting, it is, then, to realize that the goals God has called us to as parents are accomplishable.

Any parent in any station of life has the ability to reach his or her child’s heart for Christ and his purposes.  All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack.  The Lord would have us know that he is the one ultimately in charge of our children.  He will use our willingness and our efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies, to prepare their hearts for what he has in mind.

Every Monday I quote or have a guest post from a veteran mom.  Although I have never met Sally, her writing is a continual encouragement to me.  She has raised four children who love Jesus and their family.  Read Sally’s blog here!

Past Mentor Mondays:

Unconditional Love: Edith Schaeffer

Raising Your Children With Honesty and Good Communciation: Guest post by Debbie Wilson

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

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