Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mothering in love not bitterness

Can I be honest? (Those that know me well understand how rhetorical that question is) I don't always love mothering. I have one of those kids who is just beautiful looking. My entire instagram is dedicated to this boy and his cute faces.
(Was I right? or what?) I have a beautiful boy with gorgeous brown eyes. I have a wonderful family and so many wonderful things to be thankful for. And if I could let you in my head, you would not always find wonderful thoughts. I understand those moms who just walk away. I called my mom crying just a few weeks ago wishing that I could give back my title and responsibility. Here is what you need to know, this boy is precious. He is funny and smart and loves to dance. I am just sure that he is not more difficult than other kids. He loves books and his mommy. He wants me around all of the time. And truthfully? I am glad to drop his sweet self off with Miss Tina, everyday. 

But I noticed something about myself lately. My feelings toward motherhood were not waxing and waning with normal toddler incidents. Oh sure, my heart would melt with every use of mommy but positive sentiments were largely being replaced with little seeds of bitterness. Why am I so tired all the time? Why am I so impatient? Why don't I feel as gooey and melty as all the other moms seem on Facebook and Instagram? 

Seeds of bitterness give birth to roots. The roots on any plant system feed the entire system. When we allow bitterness to go unchecked, it can lead to a heart that is hardened toward the good things and cynical toward thankfulness. I saw my bitter root growing anytime people would ask the inevitable nice person question, "How's Myles?" It is a friendly question and people want to hear you say positive things, but I didn't have a positive lens. 

God began to work on my heart toward my sweet boy. Not just because of my image of the kind of mother I want to be but also because of the type of Christian I want to be. He began to prod my conscience about parenting but more importantly about loving my son with the kind of Christ-Love that he has given me. I need to resist the urge to allow difficulties in my parenting to turn to cynicism that drops seeds of bitterness in my heart. Not just because I have a beautiful son but because I have a beautiful Savior. 

Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ideas that have changed my life....

After the OKC Full 2013- Terry Rocked it and SB was awesome to run my last 6 miles with me
Running the Dallas Half in 2012

I have been reflecting for a long while on ideas that have changed my life. Some of them are big, powerful, deep ideas and others are just something someone said that made an impact. That impact resulted in some sort of change in me. Either I changed the way I thought about something or just the way I did things but in every case, my life has been changed.

After reflecting on several of these ideas, I thought I would share them. Many of them came from you dear readers. (If there are in fact any readers---Thanks Mom and Leah) This is going to be a series of sorts. The thread that runs through each of these posts will be impact.

Today's credit for changing my life goes to Coach Cameron, my high school cross country coach. I began running cross country in the ninth grade. I probably thought at the time that it would help me be fit (emphasis on looks only) and that worked for me. Coach Cameron was so gracious. There was no 'cutting people' from the cross country team. He saw further than competition. And that vision is what led him to say his life impacting saying. I remember him regularly saying, "Running is the only sport you can do your whole life." I liked that. I thought, "that is good for me, maybe at some point I will become a real runner if I have that long to figure it out."  I never saw myself as an athlete.  But Coach C taught me to run and to be a runner.

As I mentioned, I began running in the ninth grade. For about a year up to that point I had pretty well adopted disordered eating habits. I had strongly restricted calories, ate almost no fat at all and would eat peppermints and drink water at lunch to keep my stomach from feeling hungry. I wanted to stop feeling fat and ugly. I wanted to be pretty and for people to like me. And losing from a size seven to a size three in middle school did that for me. When I began running, my body pushed back and demanded that I change how I ate. It also gave me another sense of how to measure my body....against strength and health, not just looks and feelings. Running saved me. Running saved me from an image of myself and a value system that was dangerous and less than honoring to God.

Running also gave me some things. It gave me the ability to make friends with people over a common interest. It gave me time to be with my thoughts and work things out. It gave me a way to balance my emotions with natural chemical responses. It gave me a hobby and a way to be alive with creation. It gave me friends.  Even now, I know if I want to make friends with someone, if I can just get them to run with me, we will connect. Running changed my life and I owe that gift to Coach Cameron who inspired me to adopt it for my whole life with his one statement.

My sweet friends after our last OKC Marathon Training Run

You never know when you are saying that thing that is changing someone's life.

"The power of life and death are in the tongue. Those who love it will eat its fruit." Prov. 18:21

Wednesday, January 1, 2014



Hello January 1st, I hope you have seriously reconsidered they type of year you bring in light of last years’ damage. 2013 was kind of a bust. I can only remember one year of my life bringing more distress and it was roughly a decade ago. I suppose for that kind of reprieve, I should be thankful. I’m just not there yet. I’m trying to get up from the dust and reawaken a soul that was nearly lost this year. So goodbye 2013, you won’t be missed. My one hope is that the death you brought would birth new life inside of me soon.

 This time last year was the eve of loss. I could not know how much at the time. When I began to lose, I guess something inside of me thought that loss was equated a threat to my very person. I remember the first waves of loss that began to rush over me. It wasn't just the loss of a grandfather. It was the loss of ideals and pictures of control. Ideas of how I should feel when a grandparent passes. Pictures of feeling more in control and at peace.  My emotions were ill-fit for the pace of my life. If there is any part of me that gets the brunt of neglect, it is my emotions. I didn't have time to lose control. Work and faith and mothering and being a faithful spouse and being a student, training for a marathon all required a certain cadence and energy that I could not give another person, including myself. I did not have time to stop and deal with my heart. Sit tight, I told her, you will have to wait until I have time to deal with your disorder. And January 21st came and went and I kept moving. Moving past the funeral, past my feelings and on to my next demand.

I remember jokingly telling my grandpa Joe that he was not allowed to die as we stood at the graveside of my grandpa McCord's burial. My grandmother doting over my song at the funeral and casually planning for me to sing at hers one day...I was serious about my orders...No one else can die.... I can't handle the loss. Please consider my sanity and stay with me another year. But May 23rd came and loss was mine again. I can't handle it, I told God. Strengthening my grip on all the shaky pieces of my life, I told my heart to sit tight, I would get to her soon enough. Even missing the funeral because there were already wonderful 5-year anniversary plans that demanded to be met. "He would have wanted you to keep your plans." my grandmother said. And she was right. But my heart was still waiting on me. I brushed past her again. I will get to you. 

I have been mentally trying to resolve myself for months. There was even a lingering conclusion type blog that is dangling in the draft folder of my phone. I could not finish it because I wasn't at a place of closer. I had stopped short of despairing of life but I could not make meaning of the pain so I continued on my journey away from the pain into a place of total feelinglessness. (Not a word but go with me)

I'm kind of a conclusions person. I always want to know: What did we learn? How did this help? What can we change? But that kind of reflective learning requires a heart that is alive. And that is my problem. 2013 tried to kill me and I was a willing participant in the process. What I did not realize in the participation was that  I was risking was the death of my heart. See, hearts can't wait forever. I asked my heart to do something it just couldn't do.  

There is a researcher (who I adore), named Brene Brown. In a ted talk (found here) she talks about the important connection that vulnerability and emotions have to being alive. She says, "you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff. Here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment. I don't want to feel these. I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.  I don't want to feel these. You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle."  I have shared this talk so many times and referenced it and warned against the danger of being numb and here I have fully engaged in a numbing defense. The power of which was so strong it is hard for me to unravel. I haven't turned to banana muffins or beer but I have turned to full on stoicism and it's choking me out. 

The verse that has been calling to me from my neglected bible is this one, "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have have come that you might have life and have it to the full." John 10:10

So 2014 finds me in a kind of come and get me kind of place. I have had all the numbness I can stand. I am tired of holding all the pieces together. I've seen behind the curtain of control and it is a lie. I want to be alive. I want to feel the fullness of life even if it excruciatingly painful but I especially want to feel the joy. I want to reject the promise of comfort that being numb lies about bringing. Come and get me Lord. Bring life from death as you always do. Water the dry places and break up the hardened ground. I want to live.