Monthly Archives: January 2013

Speak Lord

Standard

This year off thing…I think it’s my focused time to just say “Speak Lord” like Samuel…for your servant is listening.

Obviously this should be incorporated in our daily life in the normal grind of life. But it struck me this morning in my devotions that I think that’s what a big part of my year off will be about. Just me silencing everything and hearing from God.

Makes me wonder what He has to say:)

Wholeness

Standard

Approaching this sabbatical is huge for me. Life changing. In some ways that are expected and in others completely unexpected.

Sometimes we don’t realize how unhealthy we are and the kind of baggage we are carrying until we start taking it off. Tearing down to build a better life.

This year I’m working on getting healthy mind, body, heart and soul. Loving God in all of those areas as I try to be my best self in all of those areas.

Another area that I know I need to tear down which has just been revealed to me  this week is the area of categories and stereotypes of women and the various places that we find ourselves living. I don’t want to just be a category anymore. I just want to be a woman.

Let me explain with a little history.

Growing up my mom was a stay at home mom. I grew up in a large family. We were poor. I grew up with a lot of love and good food and shelter. I have relatively few complaints, especially as I look back. I have good relationships with my family and I’m grateful. But I remember as a child and especially as a teenager being very aware of the lack of funds in our home. Sacrifices were made…I remember them.

Fast forward a few years to my early parenting years. I had some time at home. I’m not a baby person. I admit it. I realize this might be a cause for you think poorly of me…but if so I will just have to take that risk. When a baby is in the room, I think they’re cute, I’ll ask about them, but I may never reach out and hold them. Lots of other people will do that and I’m pretty content to just watch that happen. So…I had Lauren and then 19 months later Lydia. While it is different with your own kids…I will admit I don’t think my finest parenting hours were the baby and toddler years. And those years at home that I did have, albeit short ones, were hard ones. I felt like a wacko half the time and I know when Mark came home from work I probably seemed a little over the edge. Stay at home moms of babies and toddlers make huge sacrifices and I remember them well.

Fast forward to the past 14 years…I’ve been working 12 of those fulltime. I work in a high stress position. I’m a school teacher. Those reality tv shows have nothing on us school teachers. That’s our job and more everyday. I’ve sacrificed much. I’ve sacrificed my time. Any chance to go to things like Bible Study Fellowship, or any kind of day ladies group for that matter. I’ve sacrificed lunch meetings, or other stuff that I might have done if I was a stay at home mom. I’ve sacrificed freedom of schedule basically. I’m very aware of these sacrifices.

Coming to this sabbatical. I’m finally in a place where I am more than ready to drop all of that and the sacrifices and stuff that it involves. I feel like I’m in a place where I just want to embrace being a woman. Being Ruth.

I’m not sure what that means exactly. But I want to work it out with fear and trembling as if I’m working out my salvation because honestly…it’s about that large in my life.

I don’t want to compare or envy or stereotype, or focus on sacrifices. I want to be whole. And even after the year is over I want to be able to carry that wholeness with me the rest of my life.

Maybe for the rest of you out there what I’m talking about sounds crazy. Maybe this has not been your struggle. But for me, it’s been one of my deepest struggles.

When you start equating your job to a prison…that’s probably not a good sign. When you dread Mondays I don’t think that’s a good place to live.

I realize much if not all of this is about perspective and that’s how I’ve gotten as far as I have. I regularly adjust my perspective and choose to obey.

But this sabbatical…it’s a chance for me to strip everything away. I don’t fit in with either ‘group’. I can tell it already.

I will be out of the work world. Out of the inner goings on at school. And I don’t necessarily see myself picking up with a lot of stay at home mom activities.

Instead I see myself walking a road less traveled and focusing on a healthy concept of what a woman should be, a Godly woman.

I look forward to it. I already feel the process starting as I walk through these remaining days of school. 75 to go:).

I realize these are really hot button subjects. I will do my best to write honestly and from my gut and at the same time to not offend or if I do offend I promise that I will always seek peace and reconciliation. I’m trusting you with my story. I’m trusting that you can handle it. That’s a pretty large risk.

I want to dare greatly.

Envy

Standard

Envy is an ugly thing.

I think it’s really more of a woman struggle than a man one, at least that’s my best guess without research to back me up.

We women, speaking from experience are exceptional at comparing and contrasting and coming up with the conclusion that someone has it better than we do.

How do I know…well I’ve become an expert over the years.

I don’t envy more stuff or bigger houses. Honestly, it just feels like work to me and I have no desire to add to the house I already have to clean. You people who have more than two bathrooms…I actually feel sorry for you:).

But…I’ve often, regularly, in grand sweeping cycles envied the idea of being a stay at home mom.

I thought I might be able to pull it off at one point. I was home for Lauren’s first year of life. I worked part time the next year. Took one more year off when Lydia was a baby and then worked one part time year and have been working fulltime ever since.

Some ladies work full time because they want to. From what I understand some women really feel most fulfilled when they are out in the work force. That is a foreign concept to me, but one that I’ve heard talked about. And an issue that I’ve sometimes heard stay at home mom’s lament about.

Some of us ladies who work full time wonder if we somehow made a bad choice along the way and we’ve just had to pay the consequences of our decisions. We weren’t budgeted enough. We weren’t crafty, or frugal enough to cut the mustard when it comes to the stay at home thing.

I will admit…I don’t make my own laundry detergent, soap or other cleaning supplies. I don’t make my own shampoo, conditioner and other beauty supplies. I don’t always cook from ‘scratch’. Heck…I can tell you, my family has ate out far more over the years than we should’ve. Doing better these days.

Somehow it just seems that the stay at home thing seems to work out for some and not for others, for unknown reasons. I have a feeling that some just think us working moms just didn’t prioritize our kids enough. That load of…, well you get the point, it’s not helpful in anyway and reeks of judgement.

So back to my main point.

Envy…it’s a sin, it’s ugly, it causes you to not be grateful or to make the best of your own situation. And truthfully…we tend to compare our worst with others best and think that the scale is messed up.

I have a feeling if I could ask God about what my top sins have been over the years, my most repeated cycle, this envy word would surely be somewhere near the top.

Ironically enough…with this sabbatical coming I suddenly am going to be the other woman and I don’t even have babies or toddlers to take care of. I have two grown teenagers who can help around the house. I have children who are great conversationalists and game players and movie watchers with me. I don’t even have a husband to take care of.

I’ve started to hear things like “You’re so lucky.” “I sure do hope that you realize how good you have it.” “I wish I could do what you’re doing.”

And I get it. I really do. I’ve felt that envy. I know it well.

So…where does that leave me, where does that leave you?

I don’t think we ever really fully know what’s going on in somebody else’s situation. So we compare apples to oranges. We become disillusioned and frustrated with our own life. We grow discontent with the cards life has dealt us.

I want to assure you that I am incredibly aware of what a gift it is to take a year off. I also am very aware that for me to do this is taking a fair amount of courage and risk. I can guarantee you that every day, all 15 months of it will be soaked in and savored and treasured like a woman who has just been rescued from a deserted island and is able to enjoy the comforts of home after many years away. I am not taking this time lightly. I’m quite aware that I will have to go back to teaching or some form of occupation after 15 months. And I will have to deal once again with the cards that I’m given.

If you’re feeling envious like I’ve often struggled with over the years I pray that you will be able to see that God loves you and wants to meet your heart desires just as much as He is meeting mine. I’ve logged in the time. I’ve watched while others have talked about play dates and running errands and buying groceries as if that was hard work or something to complain about. I’ve seen the work load, or at least from my estimation (remember this is all a bit subjective:), of others and felt that I got the raw end of the deal. I’ve cried when I couldn’t do some of the things I wanted to do with my kids throughout their school life because I was working. I’ve done what I could. I’ve struggled with the balance of ‘doing it all’ all while trying to have time with my kids and do all of the things stay at home mom’s do too.

For me it’s never been…well I’m a working mom, so I don’t do that stay at home mom stuff. For me it’s been…I do the stay at home mom stuff in addition to the working fulltime stuff. And then struggle with the feelings of failure that come with that lovely combo.

At this point, I know that there have been times when I’ve been incredibly jealous, and even angry about the way some women ‘get’ to do life.

I’m not proud of this. Ashamed really.

Envy and jealousy are sins that God detests. They speak to our dissatisfaction with what God has provided in our own life.

I would hate it and be terribly hurt if my children did this. If they always wanted what somebody else had even while I was giving them good gifts. Sometimes it could be that I’m no better than a toddler in the sandbox playing with friends and wanting the whole thing for myself.

I promise…from the depths of my being. During my 15 months of stay at homeness…I will not complain, I will not moan about running errands or to the grocery store. I will not go on and on about how busy I am and then talk about lunch dates and shopping. I will not rub your face in it working woman. I get you. I know your life. I’ve lived it and am living it. I will not try to make you envious in anyway. I will be grateful for each day, each moment honestly. I will spend them well.

I will do my best to enjoy my time, to savor it, to take it in and also to honor you working mom. Because honestly…I am you. And unless something unknown happens, I will be you again.

I live in a community with a ton of stay at home moms. It’s not easy. I try to breathe deep and to work on being content in all things. I realize this is a spiritual practice and one that I need to learn. I have plenty of opportunity.

Working mom…you need to know, at this point…I’m on your team and I will always have compassion on you. Working fulltime and being a mom, homemaker, wife is the toughest thing a woman must balance. I respect you.

Sabbatical to me is a gift. A God given, courageously taken gift. There’s a big cost for this gift. I’m a widow. I can’t do anything about that part of the equation. So I’m doing what I can about the other side.

You will never need to tell me to remember how lucky I am, or to enjoy it and really soak it in. I’m not missing a moment of gratitude on this one.

I just needed you to know.