What are your friends saying about your marriage?

I love the saying "We are the company we keep."  Like my grandmother's sayings, it's true.  There was a season in my life that if you'd listened in on my conversations with friends you'd have heard three conversation repeated over.. and over.

1.  I am exhausted.  I have to do _________.
2. Pete doesn't understand how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom.
3. My kids are driving me crazy.

The majority of my conversations focused on complaints, and the majority of my friends were very happy to follow suit.  I was the company I kept, because I chose to keep company with women who shared in my pity party.  They confirmed and fueled my negative tendency, and I liked it.  

I know that if the Lord had not redirected my path, I would still be in that place because my sinful nature is negative, it loves to find something to complain about.  Ugh ... the flesh.

Does any of that ring true to you?  Today I'm starting a series about what our friends are saying about us.  In this series we'll look at what our friends are saying about our marriages, our faith, and our priorities. Why what our friends are saying?  Because we are the company we keep.....

Today let's talk about what our friends are saying about our marriage.

Over the last few years the Lord has taken my hand and whispered in my ear:

    "Forget about what's happened; Don't keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I'm about to do something brand new. "  
Isaiah 43:  18-19 (The Message) 

God started to tune my ear to my conversations about my marriage.  I started to hear, to really hear, the negativity of my own words against Pete.  I also started to hear the words and hearts of some new women, women who were saying very different things than my core friends were saying about their marriages.   These woman started an important shift in me about the way I think and talk about my husband.  I'd like to introduce you to three of those women:  

Jinny Mudd is the funniest woman I know.  Spend a little time with her and your mascara will be running down your face and you'll be trying not to pee your pants - she's just that funny.  But woven in her humor is the heart of a women bent on the mission of giving her husband an incredible life. This summer five of us friends spent the weekend together. One night she shared that she hopes to engrave on her husband's tombstone:

                                                          His Cup Run'th Over

While she had us laughing when she shared her mission, it didn't take long for the conversation to turn serious.  Why?  Because frankly that thought had never occurred to the rest of us.  What would my marriage look like if I had the mission of giving Pete an incredible life? 

This summer our Uncle Johnny passed away.  During the days after, his wife, Aunt Betty, shared with me that she had no regrets.  No regrets.  What an incredible thing to be able to say after a life shared together.  Don't you want to be able to say that?  

                                                      I have no regrets. 

                                                  His Cup Run'th Over.  

At the end of my marriage, I know I won't regret the complaining I didn't do.  If I want to have no regrets, I have to focus on the good, live in gratitude, and work on me.  Wouldn't it be helpful to have some kindred spirits to do that with?  

One of the first people I met when I moved to Raleigh was Tara Furman.  Meeting Tara for coffee was my indoctrination to the south.  Tara is sweet tea, and Chick-fil-A, and Jesus all wrapped up into one.  Meeting Tara let this Western girl know she was going to be okay in the South. (Bless her heart)

You can have one cup of coffee with Tara and she'll unabashedly tell you where her marriage has been, and where the Lord has brought it. On the second cup of coffee you'll find yourself spilling your guts about your own role in your marriage and what you can work on.  During the third cup of coffee (if it takes that long), Tara will invite you into a gathering of women who are changing up their conversation of marriage.  She'll invite you to join her and 75+ women who gather monthly at Knowing God Ministry luncheons.  You see Tara doesn't just have a vision for her marriage, she has a vision for OUR marriages.  A vision that starts with our lives transformed by Jesus. 

             Through the redeeming power of Jesus, we can live out marriages with abundant love...                                                          so that we'll have no regrets...
                                                 and we can say "His Cup Run'th Over"

What a shift!  The beautiful thing is - when that happens I believe it will be said of us:
                                                                Her Cup Run'th Over

That's something that never would have been said by remaining in my place of complaints, negativity and whining.  Because of these women, and others, what I say about my marriage is very different these days.  Because of what I say, my marriage is very different these days.  

What do your friends say about your marriage?   Do your conversations focus on how your husband forgot to take the trash out this morning, or that last night he gave the kids their baths?  Do your conversations focus on what he's doing, or on what you know you need to be doing?  

I'd love to hear what your friends are saying about (and into) your marriage... please share with us one of your friends and how she is helping you in your marriage.  

Live in the Raleigh area?  Join Tara for the next Knowing God Ministries Luncheon .  

To My Daughter As She Starts Youth Group

Dear Sarah,

Your exit from children's ministry has finally arrived.  This Sunday you'll bypass the hall of little kids and head on into the gym for donuts and the world of youth group.  You've been waiting to spread your wings and escape children's ministry for a while now.  You've outgrown the confines of memorizing scripture for lollipops, and lectures without room for debate.  You're ready to go, but before you do there are a few things I'd like you to know.

There was a time when I didn't like church.  Crazy, it's true.  My entry to youth group was not with anticipation like yours, but it was forced.  I'd successfully avoided all things youth group until I turned 15, at which point I was forced into a youth retreat to make up for a year's worth of missed CCD (think Sunday School).  I went on that retreat with a grudge and a duffle bag full of tie-died Grateful Dead shirts and torn jeans (just to be obnoxious).  That weekend saved my life. That weekend I accepted Jesus Christ.  That weekend I fell in love.

So Sarah, I hope in youth group you'll fall in love too.

I'm tempted to put a name tag on you that says, "Hi my name is Sarah, and I'm only 11" or have dad volunteer  wearing his NRA hat.  I'm afraid of the boys at youth group - its true.  For a few years I hope they'll stay at bay.  At some point though they won't and that's okay -  but that's not the love I'm hoping for you.  I hope you'll fall in love with Jesus.  You see Sarah, you have a lot of head knowledge about God.  You have more knowledge than I'd think possible for an 11 year old.  You can find Nehemiah or Titus with your eyes closed.  You can rattle off all the right answers without much thought.  Now, I hope your head knowledge will become balanced with heart knowledge.  When I was in youth group I fell in love with Jesus, and for 25 years He has been the great love of my life ( I'm not discounting dad here  - Jesus comes first to us both). I wish for you for the great love of your life to begin.  I pray all those memory verses, and VBS songs of your elementary years, will become a spring board for your heart. I hope your heart will dive deep because head knowledge is only worth so much my dear - it's the love of Christ that will set your life on fire.

Sarah, I hope you'll wrestle:  

Up until now you've been fed a lot of "faith facts,"  but there have been few opportunities to wrestle with your faith.  Some people will tell you that questioning your faith, or questioning the Bible is wrong.  Don't believe them.  To tell you the truth, I think the people that don't wrestle with their faith  haven't actually read the Bible.  There's a lot in there to question!  I hope you'll wrestle with questions of faith during your youth group years.  I'm praying God will raise up great leaders who will wrestle with you, and help you make your faith your own.  I promise to do that with you too.  I won't judge you or criticize you for it.  I don't want you to adopt my faith Sarah,  I want you to find and embrace your own.  You know the story of Jacob.  He wrestled with God (through a man)  throughout the night, and in the morning the man says to him, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."   So wrestle away my girl, I can't wait to see how God molds you and blesses you.

I hope you'll meet a kid in a Grateful Dead shirt:  

There's going to be a night at youth group when a girl walks in wearing a Grateful Dead shirt, or some other obnoxious thing, that sets her apart from your comfortable Southern Baptist Girl group.  I'm praying hard that your faith, and character, and love will be strong enough to welcome her in amidst her hard edges and snarky comments.  You see she's been looking for love, for a savior,  in a bottle of Vodka, the bowl of a pipe, and the edge of a razor - and she hasn't found it yet.  I hope when she walks in the door you, and your friends, will love her, because when I walked into that retreat 25 years ago, people loved me.  That love made all the difference.  The youth pastor, his wife, the other kids... they all looked past my foul language and poor choices, and they saw what our Heavenly Father saw, one of His lost kids.  Because they loved me I was able to meet the God of love.  Many Christian parents today are keeping their kids out of youth group because they don't want their children corrupted by the girls in Grateful Dead shirts.  I know that through her you're going to hear things I'll wish you didn't hear.  But I believe in you, and the strength of our God, and I know the frank truth that you'd have eventually heard all that anyways.  So I am sending you off to youth group with the prayer that that through you, that girl in the Grateful Dead shirt will hear things she really needs to hear.  So when you see her arrive, think of your momma, and go welcome her in.

Off you go sweet Sarah.  Don't forget to have a lot of fun - eat 1,000 slices of pizza, make incredible friends, and stay up all night on retreats.  I can't wait to hear all about, or as much as you wish to share, I know God has great things in store for you.


I'm not cut out to be Class Mom

Growing up there was this perfect mom in our neighborhood. I’ll call her Mrs. Brown. She looked perfect, her kids looked perfect, her house...was perfect.  Year after year Mrs. Brown was the Class Mom.  She organized our Halloween and Christmas parties (oh the 70's) and she did it all so well.   When Sarah started preschool, I hoped to be that kind of mom.  You see I really wanted to do the whole School Mom thing well, so I thought that meant being just like Mrs. Brown. For the first 7 years of being a School Mom I held a modern version of that standard in my head.  I failed miserably.  I was miserable.  You see the truth of what kind of School Mom I am is:  

I don't make bento box lunches
I forget which day is a black and white day, and dress my kid in pink. 
I don't clip Box Tops
I have attended exactly 1 PTA meeting and it nearly killed me. 
I am late for pick up most days
I've taught my kids to forge my name because I just can't sign ALL THOSE PAPERS!

I spent seven years feeling like a bad School Mom.  I beat myself up over forgotten empty cereal boxes, and missed class parties.  I looked at the moms who seemed to do it all so well, and been terribly jealous of them.  At the girl's school the principal suggests the Class Moms.  It's a seal of approval that you are indeed a "good School Mom."  I was pretty sure that seal was never coming my way - and frankly that hurt me.  
But surprise, surprise last fall I got a call.  I was told the principal had suggested me to be the 5th grade class mom.  I started to laugh.   In the moment that should have been a triumph, all I could do was laugh and ask, "What has that poor teacher done to deserve this!"  In that moment it became crystal clear to me that I'm just not cut out to be a Class Mom.  I was never meant to be Mrs. Brown. Then and there I admitted defeat, and politely declined the offer.  

In admitting defeat and stopping the battle to be Mrs. Brown, I was finally able to see that there’s more than one way to be a good School Mom.  

There was another mom at Cottonwood Creek Elementary, her name was Mrs. Bowler. She was crazy.  She taped balloons on her daughter's head to find her in parades.  She had a Ping-Pong table in the living room.  She never wore the latest fashion, played in the local mom's tennis league, or was our class mom.  There wasn't a house in the neighborhood I wanted to go to more than the Bowlers' house.  In that house, that was always a mess, I was loved.  In that house Jesus was everywhere.  

Mrs. Bowler and Mrs. Brown did the School Mom thing in completely different ways - and they both did it well.  Along with 50 other unique moms, they gave us Cottonwood kids a great childhood.  When I admitted defeat in trying to be Mrs. Brown I realized I might just be Mrs. Bowler, and that’s pretty awesome.  Suddenly the weight of mom guilt was lifted off of me.

In the last week three of Sarah's friends have asked me when they can come over.  I love those girls.  Our house is a mess, and most days I am completely crazy - but they still ask to come over.  I know they want to come play with Sarah, but I also know our house is a place where kids are loved, and Jesus is everywhere.    The truth of what kind of School Mom I am is:

The more kids in my house, the happier I am
There are no “kid free” zones in my house
I listen to kids and care about their ideas
I feed kids sugar
I hug kids and tell them I love them often
I have extremely loud sing-alongs in my car
I pray for these kids

Since that call to be the Class Mom, I have embraced the School Mom that I am – and it’s a good one.  I’ve also stopped being jealous of all the Mrs. Browns walking around our school. Heck, I'm grateful for them!  They’re working their tails off to support my girls’ teachers, to plan our class parties, and organize our field trips – and God Bless their organized hearts they're probably saving two cereal boxes to save my neck when I forget.  I pray this year they’re also blessed by the role I’ll play in their kids lives.  Together we're creating a great childhood for our kids.

Fellow mommas, do you need to admit defeat to a type of School Mom you’re not cut out to be?  I’d love to hear the unique way your being a good School Mom this year.  Give yourself some credit - I bet you're doing a great job! Please share below.