Killing Superwoman

 

Growing up in the eighties, I vividly remember a perfume commercial with a gorgeous gal clad in a chic suit prancing home from work in sky-high heels to assemble a gourmet dinner for her adoring family.  The catchy tune playing in the background “I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan…,” became the mantra of a generation of women trying to do it all.  Just being a stay-at-home mom lost its glamour and allure as women flocked into the corporate world.

This pseudo super-woman was beautiful and fit (despite feasting on bacon), a doting mother, sexual tiger to her man, room mom, CEO and host of a weekly wine group.  Mattel even made Dr. Barbie in a white coat and gave the doll a more professional ensemble to match her new identity.  Barbie pushed her twins in a double-stroller and then drove to work in her pink corvette smiling and waving at the nanny.

And a whole generation of young women bought into the lie we could be all things and do all things well, forgetting the natural limitations of energy and balance and sanity. 

Clearly the song forgot to mention how super-woman started having heart palpitations and chronic fatigue before she hit forty.  It failed to acknowledge super-woman’s love/hate relationship with her job, the guilt of constantly dumping car-pool on her neighbor, and the anxiety of slipping out of work early every Thursday to watch her son play t-ball.  The song didn’t address sleepless nights with baby, shouting curses at her husband over who would get up for the four a.m. feeding, playing dead from sheer exhaustion when her husband begs for sex, and stapling badges on her little girl scouts sash in a last minute desperation because she hasn’t a clue where a needle and thread might be hiding.

The song left out all the unspoken but necessary intangibles that go along with a real life of balancing work and children and hubby.  When I recently saw the movie, “How Does She do it all?” I laughed bitterly.  Not only could I have written the script –my life was even more hectic with three kids, a full-time job and a freelance career on the side.  But something in me identified with this compulsion to master motherhood and family despite the toll it was taking on my body.   I wasn’t ready to give up anything, choosing instead to scurry and race along on an endless hamster wheel of busyness, always on the edge of hurtling off into the abyss and a nervous breakdown.

I really thought I could pull it off.  I was the exception.  Sure, my eating habits were getting a little processed and I exercised less often than more; but I was holding up and playing the martyr mommy role with gusto until my heart literally stopped me. 

The details are a little fuzzy, but I recall running on a scorching hot Sunday morning with my baby daughter tucked in her bright orange jogging stroller.  Overly ambitious, thanks to a Venti Americano buzz from Starbucks, I rashly determined to sprint up a monstrous hill near my home at top speed and go for the burn.  I arrived home winded and panting, and headed straight for a hot shower with the baby in my arms.  I lathered up, rinsed and then bent over to pick up my adorable daughter.  As I started to raise her in the air, a slippery soft cherub covered in bubbles, a white light ricocheted through my skull and blackness enveloped me.

I don’t know how long I lost consciousness that morning.  I awoke slumped in a heap on the shower floor over my howling and terrified baby with icy cold streams of water prickling my back.  There were hospitals and endless tests and then the results I never expected to hear. 

At the tender age of thirty-nine –under order of a cardiologist, I was forced to pick between juggling two jobs or find myself with a pacemaker within six months.    As a mother of three beloved children, the decision wasn’t too tough.  It was time to kill super-woman. 

My kids and I put Dr. Barbie into a boat and we launched her with glee into the ocean as an act of surrender and a celebration of the beginning of a new season.  (I thought burning Dr. Barbie might be a tad too traumatic for the two-year-old) 

Then I changed every facet of my life starting with work and moving outward circle by circle.  Now when I take a jog, it’s not to fit into a bikini, it’s to keep my ticker going strong for my kids.  Things like nap-time and nutrition have reemerged and rest has taken on a whole new meaning since caffeine isn’t my go-to pick-me-up anymore. 

But the biggest lifestyle modification was changing my broken thinking.   I started to accept I can’t do it all and I certainly can’t do it all well.  Super-woman is a myth which has deceived us all.  Working mothers carry tremendous guilt and stay-at-home mothers struggle with their identity thanks to her.  No one tells a young woman she might someday have to choose between a big family and a successful career –because the personal compromise she will make to do both might eventually destroy either her health or sanity.

Fortunately, I recognized I was getting a second chance to pick what is most important and move towards that which resonates in my soul and gives me life –relationships, family, writing, and a story lived well.  Surprisingly, my list of non-negotiable items was much shorter than I anticipated after I cut off all the good I was doing to make room for the best.

Is it time you killed super-woman?

Photo Source: 500px.com via Alexandria on Pinterest

The Face Plant

It was one of those perfect winter days masquerading as spring.  The sun warmed my toes and a soft breeze tickled my ears.  The trees overhead swayed back and forth and in the distance I heard Kolby’s high pitched giggle as her little legs pumped high on the big kid swing. 

We were at one of our favorite parks in Old Town San Juan Capistrano.  We stopped for a glass of wine and a yummy appetizer at Sundried Tomato, picked up a latte at Hidden House Coffee, petted a few stinky llamas and alpacas at Zoomars and then headed to the park.

Daddy laughed along with Kolby’s screams of glee and pushed her higher and higher on the swing while I lounged on a wooden park bench in the sun.  My eyes got heavy and finally closed as I listened to the happy sounds of kids playing and the train off in the distance. 

Until I heard a high-pitched scream that woke me up fast.

I jumped up from the park bench and raced to the swings where little Kolby lay face down in the wood chips.  Her feet had dragged and with a violent smack she face-planted. 

I gently picked her up and blood poured out of her tiny nose.  It was her first big Boo-Boo.

Daddy and I cleaned up her face, checked for a broken nose and tried to cheer her up with a promise of ice cream.

Kolby’s blood and tears dried fast but daddy’s cheeks remained ashen. 

This little girl means the world to him. 

It reminded me of the first time my son Kyle took a spill, face planted and ripped open his lip after I encouraged him to try a big slide.  I felt like a tool for pushing my 12 month old to go big and take a risk before he was mature enough to tackle it.

But years later I recognize it was those very risks and  encouragement that allow my son to dream big.  Kyle might eat it when he tries new things and he might occasionally even fail but he believes in himself and fear does not define him.

Kolby  told us later on that night she would “never go on the big swing again.” 

Tim looked crushed.

Then I reminded my three-year old of how great she did on the big kid swing and how maybe in a few months when she grew a little bit bigger that it would be fun to try again.

She considered my words carefully and sighed big.  “Ok, mommy.  I will try again soon, but I need to eat more vegetables and grow before I try that scary swing again.”

Daddy and I nodded in agreement and affirmed her willingness to get back in the swing.

I love how with just a little encouragement Kolby turned her fear into a challenge to grow. 

(And I’m really thrilled how my eating vegetables brain-washing is sinking in)

I know there will be many more scrapes and bumps along the road for my youngest girl.  And I know my husband will have his heart wrenched a thousand more times as he watches his first (biological) daughter grow up.  

Their daddy/daughter love story reminds me of my own journey with God–a loving father and a scared little girl who sometimes winds up face down and bloodied in the wood chips.

But she gets back up because she is loved.  And next time she will swing even higher.

Have you taken any big risks lately? 

Fred, George and Goldilocks

Christmas 2012 Kolby 4

Fred and George still haunt me.

Not in the way they used too, I mean I’m not afraid of ghosts anymore, but their names still bring back delicious terror.

You see…daddy told me when I was a wee tot that two ghosts lived inside the walls of my bedroom and if I dared to climb out of my bed they would get me.

Let’s not even bring up how demented this is.  When I’ve suggested it was a form of child abuse to my dad he still falls over laughing. 

But one day I realized, like Jim Carey in the Truman show, that no apparition appeared if I defiantly stuck out a toe or a limb.

I caught on pretty quick that my reality was not REALITY.

Eventually I worked up the courage to run like a bat out of hell out of my room and sneak over to my mom’s side of the bed who always let me in for a cuddle.

I thought a lot about Fred and George last night because my toddler refuses to stay in her bed.  And after two weeks of not sleeping and now fighting off illness (probably from massive sleep deprivation) I’m almost ready to ask Fred and George for some advice.  They keep appearing in my feverish hallucinations taunting me with a whole night of un-interupted slumber.

Kolby moved into the BIG GIRL BED a few weeks ago.  We took the crib down, stored it in the garage and unknowingly kissed sleep goodbye.  Most of the time I take the hit for Tim, because out of the two of us I do better without sleep, although he had to step up last night as I borderlined pneumomia.

It’s the second time we’ve tried the BIG GIRL BED.  After a failed attempt a year ago, we aborted mission and put her back in the crib.  Last time it was because she potty trained and needed help to use the restroom in the middle of the night.  I couldn’t handle waking up every three hours to help her tinkle, so up went the porta-crib again in our room so I could at least keep the lights off as I guided her tiny butt to the potty.

But now she is physically too big to stuff in the porta-crib.  The fact that she was complaining about her legs and arms hurting might have been an indication we had played out that card a little too long.

In goes Kolby into the BIG GIRL BED and within one hour she has snuck back into our bed to go horizontal on us and kick one of us in the head or the kidney.  She lies on me, throws elbows in my chest and breathes her sweet baby breath in my face.

I put her back to bed.  Tim puts her back to bed.  Press repeat over and over until we are so exhausted that Tim goes to the sofa around 3:00am to salvage any sleep whatsoever and then Kolby kicks the crap out of me until 6:00am when I have to get my teenager ready for high school.   

I am a ZOMBIE and I am way too old for this.

I’d toss her out like a sailor if not for the fact that I love her soooooo much.  This third baby of mine has both daddy and I whooped, sucker tied and wrapped around every phalange. 

She is terrifically spoiled and we are wimps when it comes to her little grin and Goldilocks.

Is bribery the next option?  Will it take a puppy to get her to sleep in her bed?  I’d gate her in but she shares a room with her sister with an adjoining bathroom to her brother’s room.  She’ll just walk right through into his room and find us.  She’s smart like that.

This kid needs incentive…

What makes a toddler want to stay in bed?

All advice will be considered except ghosts and spanking.

 

“Why” You Need to Read the Labels

Love 2“Mom, my eye is killing me.”

From a far off distance, I heard Kyle’s plea for help. With a groggy groan, I roused myself out of the first waves of sweet sleep and sat up to examine him. Indeed, his right peeper appeared bloodshot and his cheek below was red and irritated from scratching.

I hopped out of bed, ran to the bathroom cabinet and searched for the eye drops. I found the tiny bottle and ripped off the wrapping. Sitting Kyle down I dumped a few drops in his sore eye.

I waited to hear, “Ahhhhh, thanks mom,” but it never came.

Instead Kyle started howling, “It burns, mom, it burns.”

Confused, I turned on the light and looked at the bottle. It said “Otic” Solution not “Optic” Solution.

“Otic” means ear not eye.

“Abort, Abort!”

We rushed Kyle to the sink to flush his eye out with water. Tim searched online for medical treatment and I prepared to go to the hospital and then the slammer.

Tears choked my stutters of rambling, “sorry, sorry, sorry.”

I patted Kyle’s back and ached with his every moan.

I could see the headlines. “Mother accidentally blinds budding football star with Otic Solution. Abuse Charges filed.”

Suddenly Tim yelled from the bedroom, “It says it’s a common accident. The medicine “neomycin” actually the same, just in a higher concentration for sensitive eyes. He’ll live. Just wash it out good.”

My son playfully glared at me with his good eye. “Nice mom, thanks for the love!”

Kyle went to bed and I fell back to sleep exhausted. It had been a long week. Kolby had a high fever for almost five days in a row and I was running on fumes from nursing her. But my sleep was troubled.

Mommy guilt was setting in. The fog of inner torment settled on my shoulders like a backpack.

Kyle’s eye was better in the morning and I sent him off to school somewhat relieved but feeling like a big loser.

When I sat down with my Bible I needed grace more than ever. My prayers went something like this: Jesus, I suck as I mom. I failed my kid. In my weakness and exhaustion I slipped. I’m supposed to be his rescuer. I remembered the day when I accidentally nipped his tiny finger as a baby with the nail trimmer. Every drop of blood tortured me. This moment felt strangely familiar.

Please, please, please help me climb out of this hole of self-abuse.

And then my solace came. Slowly, quietly and with stillness. Psalms of praise, thanksgiving and love.

I felt my shepherds gentle pat and knew everything would be ok.

I am so thankful for God’s unending grace and mercy to a troubled mother’s heart. It was just enough to get me through the day, although a few tears of remorse continued to cloud my vision.

Do you ever struggle with “mommy guilt” when you blow it?

Dreading the Evil Christmas Card Photo

I went cold-turkey for a while.

I just couldn’t take the pressure.  I didn’t want to play the suburban game of my kids are cuter than your kids.  I didn’t want the pressure of feeling inadequate as a single mom.  So I just said “to heck with it” and stopped taking the dreaded picture altogether.

What dreaded picture you ask? 

Oh right…I’m referring to the DREADED Christmas card picture!

The one that gives a mommy shingles just thinking about it.

Now that I am married and added another munchkin into the mix it seems like the card thing is necessary again.  Our extended family wants to see images of the kids and it’s expected that I make the effort.

The truth is, I shudder with anxiety just thinking about trying to get my family to match

My son wants to spike his hair up in a faux-hawk and look edgy, my tween girl wants to wear lip gloss and roll her shorts, and all my two-year old wants to wear is her lion costume.

Help!

When I try to get some love from daddy he’s already ticked because I booked the picture on Sunday afternoon (his only day off) and he is missing his favorite Seahawks game. 

Everyone is grumpy when I bark out orders and turn into Scrooge Mom for the perfect picture.

Look happy or mommy will have a MELTDOWN!

Seriously, Pinterest has screwed us all when it comes to photos, parties and crafts.  No one just schleps anything together anymore.  Every kid’s party is a cutout tribute to graphic design.  Every sepia card and Martha Stewart wannabe has upped the stakes. 

I just can’t engage in this virtual game of crafty awesomeness anymore.

For crying out loud, I’m still six months out on my thank you notes.

Man I miss the easy days of ice-cream and cake and Polaroid’s.  A few balloons, a dash of streamers and we were rocking.  I bought my pre-made Christmas cards at Target and threw in a few school pics. 

But then the game changed and everyone’s cards got really cool.  My pride prickled at my measly offering.  So I bought the Pinterest lie to be more creative than I really am.

So how do I wrangle my family to look joyful, be hip and cool and wow my friends?

I think I don’t. 

I think I might let my family wear whatever they want to. 

I’ll just let them be themselves and maybe their smiles will be genuine instead of fake like some poster child for Stepford-ville.  

Maybe we won’t match. 

Maybe one of us will be a LION.

Rebellious?  Possibly…

Then again, Kolby was the only lion this year for Halloween in a sea of princesses.  Maybe she gets it from me.

 

A Soppy Dog Day

A long time ago I made a list of how God sees me.  I read and re-read the list over and over for years until I memorized and internalized certain truths about my identity.  When a bad day hits, I go back to the verses and remind myself of whom I am in Christ.

It gets me through THOSE kinds of mommy days. 

Like yesterday, when I pulled out all the fixings for dinner and discovered I had purchased hot dog buns for Sloppy Joes instead of hamburger buns.  My kids looked at me like I had been smoking crack and even though I tried to explain it was an accident, they gave me the LOOK like I was losing my marbles. 

“Mom, hot-dogs and hamburgers are very different,” my daughter Faith explained in her snotty Jr. High voice.

Ya think?

Even little Kolby gave me a hard time and refused to eat her “sloppy dog” (except she called it a “soppy dog” because she struggles with her “L’s”).

Then there are the days like Monday when I set up a princess tea-party for my girls with home-made chocolate chip cookies and sweets and crisp white linen cloths with an elegant tray.  Kolby and Faith donned their fanciest gowns as I carried the lovely china bursting with yummies outside to our front porch.

The clouds were supposed to part and the harps were supposed to sing…right?

But just as I placed the feast down on the table, we were accosted by the roar of a Carpet Cleaning Van parked in our neighbor’s driveway and a hot wind blowing an inferno in our face.

COME ON!  Princesses aren’t supposed to sweat profusely in mid-October or have to shout over rumbles.  I wanted serenity and girl-time, but instead I got sweaty pits and a migraine.

These are the days I try to remember my God affirmations.  I have to repeat over and over, “I am a good mom and a loved child of God, even when I screw up Sloppy Joes and my princess party fails,” instead of berating myself for the mishaps. 

I want to think about things that are good and true and noble instead of focusing on the bad. 

But geez…it’s so dang easy to complain. 

Lately, God has been nudging me to stop focusing on the little irritants and keep my eyes focused solely on him.  I wish I could say it was effortless, but the truth is, it’s a hard road for me to navigate. 

I am a woman after all. We like to complain. It bonds us.

Most days I feel like Peter walking on the water, eyes squared on the BIG man and then suddenly I drop off into oblivion when a gripe seeps out.

Walk, drop, swim…walk, drop, swim…

Over and over I play this game. 

Sometimes it feel s like I doggie-paddle more in the deep than I walk on top of the water, but I am determined to keep paddling towards the only one who can lift my soppy dog head out of the water again.

Do you ever struggle with complaining?  How do you keep your thoughts positive on a bad day?

 

 Photo Credit: From nowserveme.wordpress.com

Muno’s Heart

“OK Kolby, what does daddy for a job?” I asked my two-year old in an attempt to teach her some basic family information.

“Ummmm…daddy make pants!” Kolby replied earnestly.

“Close sweetie!  Daddy’s a pastor.”

“Dat’s wright.  Daddy tells people bout Jesus and he fixes hearts.” Kolby said with a smile that could melt butter.

“Mommy, can Da Da fix Muno’s heart?”

“Of course he can baby!”  I ran and got Kolby’s red monster doll –Muno from the series Yo Gabba Gabba and we sat him in front of daddy and I told Tim very firmly he needed to tell Muno about Jesus.

Tim looked at me with mirth, shaking his head and laughing, but he played along with us .

“Muno, Jesus loves you very much,” Tim said in his best pastor voice.  “He knows sometimes you bite your friends and it makes him sad.  Jesus sacrificed his life for you on the cross because he loves Muno so very much.  He wants Muno to live an abundant life and have a strong heart. “

I whispered under my breath, “Abundant…seriously?  She’s two.”

Daddy frowned at mommy.

Muno then squeaked out, “I do want to follow you Jesus,” only it sounded a bit like daddy on Nitrous Oxide.

So daddy led Muno through a simple prayer.

Kolby sat quietly the entire time taking it all in.  Then she picked up Muno, thanked daddy and fell asleep in my arms shortly thereafter. 

I woke up this morning clutching Muno’s hand in mine.  Seriously.  Maybe the little guy was mourning his life of sin and needed some cuddling.

I rolled over and opened one eye sleepily gazing at my husband.  “Hey PANTS-tor…what’s up?” 

 

 

Growing up Faith

As we sat down to dinner Monday night of last week, my daughter Faith was on pins and needles.  She wiggled; she squirmed and at one point actually ran out of the room to scream into a pillow.  Her anxiety hinged on the release of the cast list for the upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz. 

“Sometime after seven,” she kept repeating like a robot.  Every second past the hour ticked by in pure agony.

After the meal was cleared, I heard the little ding on my iPhone indicating an email had come in.  I perused the cast list with anticipation, wanting to get first dibs before I shared the good news.  I glanced down and looked for my daughter’s name.  It wasn’t at the top, or the middle and then I started to panic. 

I scrolled and scrolled and somewhere near the bottom Faith’s name showed up as Snowflake and Popular Girl –both non-speaking roles I had never heard of.

What the BAD WORD?

I was more than confused –I was bewildered. I hadn’t been at the audition but I heard through the grapevine Faith had given a solid performance and sang beautifully.  With shuffling feet of regret I took the phone over to Faith and let her read it. 

Her smile was wide and her giggles ecstatic until she couldn’t find her name. 

Dismay spread over Faith’s lovely face.  Tears filled her almond-shaped blue eyes.  She looked up at me and her body started to shake with sobs. 

“Why mommy? Why didn’t I get a good part?” she wailed.

Faith ran up the stairs and slammed the door to her room.  I could hear her heart-wrenching cries and it ripped deep into my gut.  I felt so helpless.  Tim and Kyle and I looked at each other sadly but there were no words to make it better.

I ran upstairs and knocked on her door, slowly moving into the hot pink Roxy themed room she shares with her baby sister.  Faith was hiding under the covers crying with fluffy bunny, teddy bear and a Hello Kitty pillow covering her.  She unearthed her blotchy face and begged to quit the production. 

 
 

After a long drawn out conversation, Faith finally agreed to not make any big decisions until the morning.

Then we rallied.  I made her hot chocolate with a giant mound of whip cream and garnished with a warm Easter Bunny sugar cookie.  Tim ran to the store and came back with a cherry/lemonade Slurpee.

(When in doubt –always go with sugar to cheer up the child)

Eventually the tears stopped and Faith ate her treats quietly and went to bed.

In the morning I hesitantly walked in to her room and she turned and gave me a big confidant smile.  “Mom, I’ve decided to go to rehearsal today.  I’m going to talk to the director about their decision-making process and I’ll do my part to make the show better even if my role is smaller this time.”

I looked around to make sure I had the same kid.  No pre-teen diva in this room.  And then I choked up.

Maturity had descended into our midst.

I started hopping up and down, now energized and exuberant.  “Faith, do you know I am more proud of you than if you have gotten to play Dorothy? You are showing strength of character!  You are amazing!”

Faith’s face lit up like sunshine and she laughed and threw her arms around me. 

I sent her off to school smiling, even though I knew she would have a tough day telling her friends, struggling with emotions and dealing with the inevitable waves of disappointment.

But for a child who has always struggled with self-soothing this time Faith surprised us all.

And even though the play isn’t for a few months, I’m stocking away some funds now for opening night where I plan on having the biggest stinking bouquet known to mankind.

 

Because my Snowflake has STAR written all over her!

 

Flower: Source: google.com via Jess on Pinterest 

 

Am I Pretty or Ugly? Little Girls, the Media and Self-Esteem…

The other night I spoke to a group of amazing young women at Fristers –a non-profit dedicated to equipping and empowering teen moms.

I talked on PURITY and that it’s never too late –which is clearly God’s sense of humor.  How I became the poster child for no sex before marriage is still a mystery to me?  I guess it’s one of those Saul/Paul miracles –you know the guy who used to persecute Christians and then became the champion of the Christian movement?  Jesus takes the most unlikely people, wrecks them with his love and grace, and then bamm…new outlook and spokesperson status.

Laughs aside, I love encouraging these gals.  I bought into the lie for way to many years that I was only as good as I looked and that my self-esteem was intertwined with my beauty.   As I looked out at the sea of young faces I knew these sweet girls had fallen for the same bucket of deception.

And it’s getting worse and worse.

I saw on the Today Show this morning that little girls are posting pictures and videos on Facebook  asking, “Am I pretty or ugly?” allowing strangers to rate their appearance and opening the door up for bullying and predators.

Why do our little girls and our teens and truthfully –most women believe we have so little to offer?

I think it’s because we are duped from the get-go (and cursed from a certain apple incident, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

One of the things I came across recently is that men control 95% of the media we consume. Only 5% of what women consume is actually directed by women. 

What?  That means I am letting men tell me how to be a woman?

And it’s not like these are Godly men who want the best for women.  These are corrupt men who are defining what you and I believe.  And it’s a 24/7 assault on our spirits. 

I am not a big feminist.  In fact I cringe at some of the rights women think they need to be equal with men.  I believe men and women are different –and that’s something to be celebrated (in the context of equality in God’s eyes). 

But let’s be honest here, it’s the media who is the biggest enemy of the female heart, not the politicians, or the religious right or the schmuck at the office who degrades you and tells you to cut up his steak. It’s the media who controls what is before our eyes and we keep watching and encouraging the exploitation.

Every time we turn into Jersey Shore, Sweet Home Alabama and Secret’s of an American Teenager we tell Hollywood to keep pumping out more BS.  I know, I know…it’s your secret little addiction and you are a grown up.  But what about the hordes of little girl’s out there who watch the same shows and believe they need to look like a Bachelor hottie to be loved and get a rose?

It’s the disturbing and relentless messages targeting our little girl’s hearts by defining their worth and value as objects and subsequently destroying the female spirit.

The media tells us women are only as good as we look, that it’s ok to  parade us around in bikini’s and sexualize us into a piece of meat.  They tell us the size of our boobs is more important than our intellect or our hearts.  They tell us it’s ok to give our bodies away over and over but then they come back and call us trash and whores after we do. 

The reality show craze has elevated toddlers dressed as pageant tarts into celebrities, its turned teen sex into an act as normal as brushing your teeth, they’ve twisted abortion into the smart girl’s ticket to success vs. a life wasted slaving over a child’s snotty nose, while ironically shaming the courageous girls who actually take responsibility for their actions and decide to have their babies.

In college they call it a walk of shame when a girl slinks back to her dorm in her heels and party dress the morning after a hook-up.  They call it a walk of fame for a guy.  They let us buy into a sick and twisted double standard regarding men and women and sex. 

Pornography is the new norm and men are being sucked in and women are left to compete with an airbrushed image that doesn’t speak but opens her mouth and takes it.

And that’s what women are supposed to compete with? 

I don’t think so.

And I confess I am one of the guilty parties who bought into this lie from the enemy of my soul – hook line and sinker.  Even worse I perpetuated it.  I allowed myself, for a long time, to become the it-girl of the media’s distorted lie. 

But not anymore…

The other night I was able to tell these girls the TRUTH about who God says they are.

children of God. made in HIS image.  worth dying for.  radically loved. cherished. treasured.  beautiful.

After I spoke, the founder of Frister’s –Ali Woodard went around the room and had each girl take the microphone and claim her beauty.  Ali made the girl’s say out loud “I am beautiful.”

One by one, with giggles and sighs, some bold and some whispered out tremulously, the girls took a stand against the lie.

But one girl couldn’t do it.  She downright refused to accept she was anything but ugly.

She cried out, “It’s not true.  I can’t say it.  It’s a lie.”

And I stood at a distance and wept. 

What are we telling our girls?  This young lady chose life instead of killing her baby.  She has chosen to seek support and graduate from high school and pursue her dreams and be a loving mother.  But despite all of these things –inside she sees only shame and loathing and condemnation.  She sees ugly, not pretty.

Ali returned to the girl and worked with her.  It took a long time.  Finally she choked out in a small voice, “I am Beautiful.”

And I wanted to scream for all of the little girls and the big girls and the older women who don’t claim the beauty we have been given by God. 

In his image he created them.  Male and FEMALE he created them.

beautiful

  

Take some time today to tell the women in your life, especially the little ones –they are beautiful. 

Related Articles:

Beauty and Body Image in the Media

Statistics on Women in Media

 

How kids affect your relationship

Two weeks after the honeymoon my new husband cornered me outside the door of our condo and whispered in agony, “The kids never go away, do they?”

I looked at him with all the empathy a former single mother of two small children could muster and shook my head, “No, they are pretty much around ALL THE TIME. Better get used to it babe.”

I really did feel sorry for my husband that day. It’s a big adjustment for a single (i.e. self absorbed and not used to sharing) thirty-eight year old man to get married and instantaneously have two children. Within a year, I was pregnant and then there were three munchkins running around creating havoc.

But to his credit, my husband adjusted admirably and I have watched in both delight and trepidation as fatherhood has transformed my sweetie into a more loving, sacrificial and humble human being, even though, by his own admission, it’s been excruciatingly painful at times.

The truth is kids affect the best of relationships because kids create stress. But it’s truly up to the couple to determine if the little stressors will be a blessing or a curse.

There is an antidote to the grass is always greener adage about relationships; it’s called –the grass is greener where the lawn is watered. If you take care of your marriage along with your children, both will flourish, but if you neglect one for the other, the marriage will inevitably wither.

The biggest shocker when the stork arrives may be the overwhelming demands of children on one’s time, resources, and sleep. While this may seem obvious, it’s still surprising how many people are baffled at what this actually entails- pretty much everything.

Sleep isn’t guaranteed, emotions become fragile due to lack of sleep, and sexual relations (also due to lack of sleep and post-partum recovery) generally take a nose dive during the toddler years.

There is an erroneous assumption all couples make as they stand at the altar and say “I do,” believing their romance will stay the same and transcend the length of their marriage. And it will, if they would continue to woo and romance each other for the rest of their days.

But generally, couples who spend a great deal of time meeting each other’s emotional needs in the early years refocus all their love, time and attention on the children, leaving their marriage high and dry.

The husband (feeling neglected) starts working longer hours and the wife glares at her husband each evening as he arrives home late while simultaneously blowing kisses to the baby (her new love). Little junior replaces daddy’s spot on the bed next to mommy and the internet become’s daddy’s new girlfriend now that he’s been booted to the sofa. Sound familiar?

In an age of child-centric parenting and skyrocketing divorce, many couples forget the best gift they can give their children is a strong and stable marriage. Kids need to know that their parents adore not only them, but each other as well. A child’s sense of security grows as they watch their parents display love, with all its imperfections, struggle, and willingness to choke out an “I’m sorry (even when we aren’t).”

Because I’ve been through a divorce (and don’t want another) there are certain non-negotiables in our marriage that we implemented right from the get-go.

My husband and I intentionally spend time alone catching up –usually over a long rambling walk where we air out both the good and bad. I make an effort to meet his sexual needs (always a challenge) and he tries hard to emotionally connect with my complicated female heart. We vacation together without our children (AKA “sexcations”). We affirm and admire each other and we go to counseling on a regular basis. We are honest with each other and try to always put our marriage first-even before the children.

All of this takes enormous effort and a hearty dose of unselfishness, but the results are a strong and healthy marriage that we both treasure.

Marriage isn’t for the weak or the namby-pamby’s out there, and it’s no walk in the park once the children enter the picture, but I believe it’s a worthy endeavor and if done well, can be a beacon of hope to a world desperately in need of something to believe in. Love –at its core is radical, sacrificial and a choice made every day in the trenches of dirty diapers and temper tantrums.

The greatest compliment my husband bestowed upon me was when he leaned over and whispered, “I know it would be hard with four children, but I would love to have another baby with you.”

*Note* I wrote this piece for a secular magazine. I tried to weave God into it, without being overly preachy. But ultimately, I believe God is love and marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Jesus and his church.

Oh boy, do we ever screw this one up ♥

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