Friday, March 25, 2016

Flourishing Friendships: Loving Through Brokenness

Before MOPs, if you asked me what my “home team” looked like, I’d tell you that I have never, and would never, have one. I’d tell you that friendships with other females were pointless – catty, painful, competitive, but never necessary or even worthwhile. I grew up not knowing Christ, believing that I would forever be worthless, and never seeing a single healthy relationship.

Fast forward two years, I can’t imagine my life without the women I’ve opened up to and learned to love. MOPs has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. If you were around for sharing my short MOPs testimony last year, you heard a bit of how important it was for me to be surrounded by God-fearing women through a tough part of my life. I’ve learned this year that the ‘tough’ part may be a season, but it never completely goes away. The enemy is relentless in his attempts to isolate us as moms and women.

I’m a people pleaser at heart. I absolutely want everyone to like me and it makes me sad and self-conscious if I feel excluded or insignificant. Because of this, I tread lightly. I’ll be honest if you ask me a straightforward question, but I live in fear that if I try to have a hard conversation with a friend and they disagree with me, we’ll be done with that friendship. Shauna Niequist talked about how friendships grow – tell the truth, share when your feelings get hurt, and show up when things get messy. There are women whose God given talent is to make and keep lifelong friends. I am not one of those women. I am scared of what it takes for a friendship to grow. I can tell the truth, but I’ve never been secure enough to be honest about my hurt feelings. I can show up for others when their life gets messy, but I’m scared to have expectations (or ask) for anyone to be there for me. I have lived life so isolated for so long that I’m terrified of shattering any fragile acquaintanceship I’ve built. 

I can’t tell everyone how to be the best friend to every single person – that takes personal time and effort. You have to make an intentional effort to know and love someone. Shauna says friendship is evidence of God’s love. Think about how you treat your friends versus how God has loved you. Do you speak life-giving and soul shaping words to them? Do you show everyone you say you "pray" for, God’s generous and unconditional love? Or do you (consciously or otherwise) compete with them? Do you make your friends feel insecure? Do you actually know what kind of struggles they face on a daily basis? If you were to have a hard conversation, are you scared that they’ll leave or are you sure that they’ll be there and your bond will grow? What about God? How has He loved you? How does He make you feel?

Even in all our brokenness, we can still love. Jesus was tattered and torn, beaten and bruised. Jesus was pushed so far to His limits – to His death – yet He still loved us. 

There are so many pressures and expectations on us as moms and as women. You don’t have to be perfect, God never called us to be perfect. Shauna said “When something goes wrong in a friendship, it’s normal, we’re human” and I think that’s a statement that can be applied in every aspect of our lives. I’ve never needed perfect friends; just friends that love a perfect Savior and encourage me to find my worth in Him

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Being Prepared for More than a Blow Out

One vital thing that I learned being a mother, was to be prepared. Always. For anything. My diaper bags were always packed for every occasion or mishap. First aid, extra clothes, diversion toys and extra flip flops were always on hand. Sure there were days where I forgot something, but worst case scenario, we could easily live for a week on the Gold Fish crackers under the seats of my car. But that’s just it, I’ve always been ready for the small case scenarios. A child just peed all over himself and you? No worries, I have extra clothes. That crack that jumped out and scraped your knee? I’ve got a bandaid. Oh, sure we can go inside that super nice restaurant for lunch with our 3 small tired children because I have iPads educational toys and snacks!

But when it comes to the large scary worst case scenarios, I’ve always had the mindset of “Yes, fire safety and all that is important. We’ll get to it one day and plus it’ll never happen to us.” But then all it takes is that one time and you're suddenly a part of the “It happened to us” club. When it's simply a trip down to the hardware store and a totally fun family meeting, and you’re prepared to save lives! Yeah, ok. I get it. I’ve been lazy. Thank you Father God that the worst we have had to handle was a few choking incidents, and those were easily solved with a swooping of the throat and a little baby back slapping!

Fast forward a couple years, and our family decides that we are going to start our adoption journey. As I read through our requirements and household safety regulations, I become panicked. How have my children survived thus far without knowing how to properly do CPR, chemical cupboard locks, special detectors and a fire extinguisher!? We are a living time bomb for disaster! As we have gone through the classes and paperwork, I realize that these truly are simple things to invest in. A Saturday afternoon of prep and my family can rest easy, knowing they are safe. My husband and I are now certified CPR super heros, we are working on our family escape route, buying a fire extinguisher, replacing all the detector batteries, teaching the kids the correct time to call 911 and praying to our heavenly Father that none of it has to be used!
Why not as mothers do everything we can (in a sane and acceptable way...don’t bubble wrap your child) to be completely prepared to keep our families safe and alive! I pray that Dale’s talk didn’t fall on deaf ears and that we all went home and at least thought about what we would do in case of an emergency.

Motherhood. It is not for the faint of heart.