Today, I am SO EXCITED to be featured in a blog series about Enneagrams and Motherhood! I am a TYPE 8, which makes being a mom a pretty windy (long “I” sound) journey!  Please find the post by clicking below.  I am the last one at the bottom! So for all you Enneagram types out there, enjoy what you read and get a glimpse and some hope for your own parenting journeys!

Hey Friends! I hope your April is off to an amazing start. Its hard to believe that we are almost at the end of this incredible Enneagram and Motherhood series. 3,259 more words

via How the Enneagram Impacts your Motherhood – Types 4, 6 & 8 (Second Round of Mama’s Sharing) — Clarity With Charity

How the Enneagram Impacts your Motherhood – Types 4, 6 & 8 (Second Round of Mama’s Sharing) — Clarity With Charity

Posted in Faith, Health, Word of the Year

Calling a Truce with Self-Care

“Beloved one, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you physically, just as your soul is getting along well.” (III John 2)

For the past seven weeks, my body and I have been in a fight!  The “conversation” has been going something like this:

BODY:  “Hey!  Can you help me?!  I’m not okay.”

ME:  “Pipe down!  You are messing things up!  I have a lot going on!  You need to get your act together!”

BODY:  “HHHEEELLLPP!  I’m not doing very well.  Can you please take care of me!?”

ME:  “I am not happy about this!  You are supposed to help me live my very important life!  You’re just being a loud-mouthed, trouble-maker!  I have people to see, places to go, things to do.  You are not being very nice at all!”

The battle goes on and on!  UNTIL…

MONDAY.

When I decided to wave my white surrender flag.  Call a truce.

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I am normally a very healthy, rarely-sick human being.  (Confession:  I’m a little proud of that fact.)  I’m a minimalist when it comes to taking care of myself.

Most mornings go something like this:  hair in a ponytail, minimal eye makeup on, teeth brushed (sometimes), and super simple pull-on clothes and slip-on shoes.  Top that off with nothing physical “going wrong” and I am able to get out of the house in about seven minutes flat from the time I wake up.  I don’t even know if I look in the mirror again until I am brushing my teeth at night before bed (I do that for the most part unless I fall asleep watching a movie with Allen – I cannot go horizontal on our couch after 8:00 pm or I never make it past the first 15 minutes).

I get amazed at those of you who spend lots of time plucking your eyebrows, carefully applying makeup, diligently flossing, shining your shoes and choosing just the perfect outfit.  (Confession:  I secretly wish to be you and often wonder why I don’t take care of myself better.)  It’s been a lifetime battle to do any of those things, one I have asked God about quite a bit (I’ve never plucked my eyebrows)!  Sometimes, I wonder if it’s because I’m a third-culture kid or if it’s just me.  Probably a little bit of both.

I guess God heard my plea and decided the age of 53 was a good time for me to practice what I preach.  “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF (and your stuff)!!” is one of my big mom mantras!  I’ve shouted it from the top of the stairs, the front of the car, the texts on my phone and here on this blog!  I know in my head it’s the right thing to do.  But living this out day-to-day-to-day-to-day is another.

Having a body is tons of work.  I have to get up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, floss, take a shower, primp, eat, take vitamins, exercise, drink, sleep and then do it all over again.  The amount of energy and time my body needs to keep on ticking borders on ridiculous (at least according to this underachiever).  It’s a lot of my day.  Add in some (ahem) parts screaming at me for lack of care and my day feels consumed.

I am not lost on the irony in all of this.  My Word of the Year is “shalom,” which means true human flourishing (BODY INCLUDED)!  I spend lots of my time and energy on other flourishing (mental, emotional, spiritual), but my body gets neglected.  Not a good “look”(pun intended) on this Dolly Mama.

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The “conversation” (I mean fight) continues even after I decide to wave the white flag:

ME:  What am I supposed to do when you take so much time just to look presentable, much less not as old as you are?  And now you are really making a fuss!

BODY (Shouting back!):  Hey!  I’m genuinely important.  I house the “real you.”  When I’m not working right, the “real you” suffers (as you’ve now noticed).

ME:  But… But… my time could be spent better doing something of more value like making my dreams a reality, writing this blog (for all of my amazing and wonderful and lovely readers), spending time with my family and working towards my goals!

BODY (more gently):  You have friends who are really struggling right now with their own version of me.  You’ve even had a taste of this these past seven weeks.  It’s really really hard!  So, my sweet caregiver, would you mind sending me a little love?

(Somehow, in the middle of this, GOD pipes into the “conversation.”)

GOD:  Esther, my Esther, give a little listen to Me just for a moment.  I love bodies.  I love yours.  They are so very important to me!  I came in one after all.

ME:  Okay.  Okay.  You’ve got my attention (at least for a minute).

GOD:  I used My body to communicate My love for you in the most tangible way.  I wanted to know what it was like to be you, right down to your gall bladder and your toenails.  I couldn’t have done this FULLY any other way.   I’ve given you your body to enjoy all the wonder and beauty I have for you right here and right now!

ME (defensiveness diminishing):  So true!  So true!  I hear you.

BODY:  Just remember, supposedly “wise” Dolly Mama, the ways I am working to make God’s dream for you to know pleasure and His love for you in all their fullness come true!

  • My eyes provide the way for you to see your precious grandson’s smile and the gorgeous sunset over the water in LBI.

  • My ears are for you to hear the “I love you Mom” on the phone from one of your kids and the spring peepers as they call out to each other in your yard.

  • My nose brings the joy of a Mother’s Day lilac and an early-June peony and the delicious smell of chocolate chip cookies baking.

  • My tongue tastes a hot cup of tea IMG_1578(with all your favorite sugar and light cream) and gives a way for you to experience the pleasure of a stuffed cabbage and perogie from S&D Polish Deli in the Strip District!
  • My skin helps you to receive the loving touch of Allen and the feel of the fuzzy blanket on a cold winter day.

I allow your soul to wonder, your mind to grow and your heart to love!  Don’t forget your Word of the Year when it comes to me!  Shalom, my dear Dolly Mama!

ME:  Okay.  I give in.  You win, my precious body!  Thanks for all you are and do!  It feels so good to have called a truce for the moment!  Keep fighting back when this “conversation” keeps happening (as we all know it will again and again and again)!  Please be patient with me in the process!  I’m a little pig-headed and a have a long way to go!

BODY:  I’ll keep an “eye” on you!  I’ll be cheering for you when you reach for your toothbrush, your eye patch, your mouth rinse, your vitamins, your pillow and all the small, but very kind ways you are taking care of me and reminding me how valuable I am!  When you floss tonight, don’t forget to clean out all those crevices with a vengeance!  WOO HOO!  You’ve got this!

“Now may the Lord of shalom Himself give you shalom always in all ways.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

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Are you a self-care amateur or guru?  Would love to know!  Comment out on social media or here if you’d like!!  Also, if you sign up to receive my email, I have a special gift for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Health, Podcast - Dolly Mama and the Millennials

SORRY NOT SORRY!

CONFLICT!  Some of us engage in it, enjoy it and view it as a form of communication that brings connection.  Others of us avoid it, despise it, and deem it the destroyer of relationships.  What about all that fighting we are in the middle of as parents?  Among our kids and also with them?  Who should say they’re sorry?  When should they say they’re sorry? How should they say they’re sorry?  What about forgiveness and reconciliation?  How do they happen?  When do they happen?  Who should forgive?  THIS BIG QUESTION is worked through:  should I make my child say “I’m sorry” when they’ve done something wrong and “I forgive you” when another apologizes?  Join me with Josh, my super wise 22-year old, as we let you in on my “fits-and-starts” journey with this never-ending parenting battle.

 

CLICK ON PODCAST LINK BELOW:

Sorry Not Sorry!

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Thank you for taking the time to listen!  Please share this with everyone who has conflict in their lives  (HINT:  it’s not just for parents)!

 

Posted in Charity, Faith, Family, Thanks

THANK YOU Millennials! You are Good for Me!

I am amazed at how often “Millennials” are made fun of.  Put down.  Told they are lazy, entitled, spoiled, narcissistic.  Even skimming articles online, I came across titles from prominent magazines and newspapers like:

“Millennials and Their Destruction of Civilization”

“This is Why Millennials Get Such a Bad Rap”

“Millennials are Uniformly Bad Tippers”

I have been constantly bombarded with negative viewpoints on this whole generation of people.  I was raising three of them (with a fourth not too far behind) and every time they did something I didn’t like or agree with, I would dismiss it with “after all, their generation….yada yada yada.”  I fell many times into the trap of blaming them for the ills in my home and in our world, jumping on the “Millennials Suck” bandwagon, complete with “eye-rolling” and outright contempt.  NOT GOOD.

Allen and I (other than raising almost four of them) spend lots and lots of time with this generation.  Between our nieces and nephews, our kids’ friends, the significant others in our children’s lives, and the young engaged and married couples we mentor, our lives are surrounded by men and women aged 22-37.   Truth be told:  WE LOVE IT AND WE LOVE THEM!  News flash:  they certainly don’t suck.  They are an incredible group of human beings who have taught me how to live and love better.  They are SO SO SO good for my soul!  They have revealed God in a way that brings hope and healing to the core of who I am.

If there was anything that was hammered into my psyche from a very young age (by who knows what), it was the message that I should not reveal my true self.  I should hide.  I should only show the good parts of me, or what I think others will approve of.  This was the way to keep the world, my marriage, my church persona and my friendships in tact.  I even remember a deodorant advertisement that said, “Never let them see you sweat!” as if I couldn’t even have normal bodily fluids when I worked out.  Millennials have shouted, “NO MORE!”  “Sweat!”  “Be yourself in all your good and bad.” “Be vulnerable and authentic!”  Even writing this blog and having my podcast comes as a result of the permission I’ve been given to boldly be who I am, flaws and all.  THANK YOU MILLENNIALS!

My parents were outliers in many ways in their own generation.  Living in a world where their peers were living the “American Dream,” amassing wealth and pursuing happiness, my parents chose to give their lives for the “least of these.”  This did not make my childhood filled with all rainbows and ponies (in many ways it was fraught with a host of difficulties), but ONE vital thing I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world is their hearts of generosity that penetrated my own.   THANK YOU MILLENNIALS for listening to those outliers who went before you and solidifying this good place in me.  You volunteer more than any generation before you.  You believe it’s essential to GIVE BACK!  You are changing the world, one cause at a time, one person at a time, with your love and commitment to the lost and the least.  You remind me each day to live in and from this place of generosity, the very heart that God has towards me!  YAY for you!

For years, I lived with the idea that if I could get my outer world under control, my inner world would follow suit.  I believed that “to do” lists checked off at the end of the day would bring me what I truly longed for:  a life filled with peace and joy.  But the harder I tried to fix, fix, fix, perfecting my outer world, the more I realized it was impossible, sending me into much anxiety, wondering what was wrong with me.  THANK YOU MILLENNIALS for challenging that lie, revealing the truth to me that tending to my inner world, my soul, where true peace and joy dwells, where God lives and moves and speaks and heals, is the best starting and ending place.  You have helped me have an “anchor for my soul, firm and secure,”  (Hebrews 6:19) one nestled in the very heart of God.

Today, on this very ordinary Monday, my heart swells in thankfulness for you, my friends, those of you who were placed into this world and especially my world “for such a time as this.”  I am humbled and grateful for the deep truths that you have so willingly spoken into my heart, shattering the lies that held sway over me!  Thank you for your vulnerability, your generosity and your wisdom!

To my own Millennials (Sarah, Cody, Jared, Josh, Daniella, Courtney, Brandon, Marina, Nick…with Rachel and Cara closely behind), THANK YOU for showing me who I am and how much I am accepted and loved, not only by you, but by the God who formed me from His very vulnerable, generous and wise heart!  The best is yet to come!!

Posted in Faith, Motherhood

When You Blow It As A Mom

Dear Sweet Mama,

Blew it. Screamed at toddler.

Blew it again. Used guilt to get 10 year old to comply.

Blew it again. Alienated teen by comparing to “good” sibling.

Blew it again and again and again.

Today, you may feel far from your child. Not necessarily in miles, but in your heart. This child who threw their arms around you without a care in the world joyfully shouting, “I love you,” when he was three seems unreachable today in some ways.   You may wish you could go back and do it all differently. You might not have the relationship that you envisioned with this child. Along the way, you have hurt them and they have hurt you. You may not feel good inside today.

We are constantly bombarded with voices that say, “You only have one chance at being a parent.” “Your child’s moral compass is fully-developed by age five.” “You have to teach your senior these ten things before they leave for college.” Magazine articles, blog posts, podcasts, parenting books and even well-intentioned friends basically send this message: “Don’t mess this mom thing up!” “It will be too late before you know it!”

Today, Sweet Mama, in the middle of the mess of your heart, toss those very soul-killing, discouraging lies aside and hold on to this: your story is not done being written.   Your story as a mom. Your child’s story as a budding adult. The story of your relationship with your child. It is never too late!  It’s never too late to say I’m sorry. It’s never too late to get counsel. It’s never too late to do things differently. It’s never too late for redemption.  For you. Or your child.

God is the God of second chances and third, and fourth… In fact, He delights in them. He makes them His mission. He takes the seemingly hopeless and broken parts of us and infuses them with His healing and restoration. There is nothing too difficult for Him! Look UP and see Him beckoning you out of despair and discouragement into His life-giving courage and hope. He’s got you! He’s got your child! It’s really okay to rest your weary heart today!

“There aren’t do overs. But there are make overs.” (Bill Hybels)

From My Heart to Yours

Posted in Family, Motherhood, Podcast - Dolly Mama and the Millennials

Manuevering the Mammoth of Social Media (as Parents and Humans)

Social Media is a behemoth.  Instagram.  Snapchat.  Facebook.  Twitter.  OUR PHONE.  On and on and on.  Join Rachel and me as we work our way through the positives and negatives (for BOTH OF US) of the various platforms and how they play out currently in our mom/daughter relationship.  LISTEN closely to Rachel about the dangers she encounters on Instagram (her social media of choice) as a young #stillteenage woman and how she steers through the ins and outs and keeps her sanity and protects her self.  FIND OUT about some not-so-good parts of this Dolly Mama and my personal struggle with parenting through this very tumultuous medium.  You will find great hope for yourself and your own journey of maneuvering the mammoth as a human being and maybe even a parent.

 

CLICK ON PODCAST LINK BELOW:

Maneuvering the Mammoth of Social Media (as Parents and Humans)

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Thank you for taking the time to listen!  Please share this with everyone navigating the social media beast (HINT:  that’s everyone)!

Posted in Family, Motherhood

My Love for You is ______ Less (my mom letter)

Dear Child of My Heart,

I need you to know that I love you. I want you to know exactly what those three words mean when they are coming from my heart to yours.

I have told you that I love you more times than either of us can remember. That’s a good thing. You’ve heard it from the first day I held you in my arms and you are hearing it again today. You will hear it from me tomorrow, and next week, as long as my tongue allows. My love for you is COUNTLESS.

My love for you is the reason that sometimes I stay awake and worry. Yet, the fear that I have that my heart might break someday is quieted by the fierce love I have for you and the knowledge that it’s all worth it. You are worth it. My love for you is FEARLESS.

I loved you when you were minutes old.  I loved you when you were a “NO” screaming toddler.    I loved you when you were fighting with your siblings in grade school.  I loved you when you were a taller-than-me teenager.  I loved you when you walked away from me into your college dorm room.  I love you today.  I will love you all the tomorrows.  Nothing will change that.  My love for you is AGELESS.

It’s been a lot of work to be your mom. The lack of sleep and the amount of energy I’ve poured in have left me exhausted at times. But the life and joy and beauty you have brought me is beyond what I could have imagined. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.   My love for you is TIRELESS.

I don’t care who knows how much I love you. I would shout it from the highest mountain to any who would listen. Everyone should know how wonderful and amazing you are and why you are so worth loving. My love for you is SHAMELESS.

I never knew love like this before I met you. It reaches places in me that I didn’t know existed. It’s higher than the uphill battles we’ve climbed. It’s wider than any mistake either of us make. It’s stronger than death. It’s longer than life. My love for you is DEPTHLESS.

No matter how many times I attempt to capture it in words, I am left dumb-founded. My love for you is more sacred than speech allows. My love for you is more precious than all the books that could ever be written. It’s easy to love you. My love for you is BOUNDLESS.

My love for began the first moment I found out about you and will continue until I take my last breath. You will carry it with you long after I am gone, until the moment you enter eternity yourself. We will then be reunited in perfect love on the other side. My love for you is ENDLESS.

The next time you hear me say them, even if it’s just a quick text, remember all of this. These three words come straight from the depths of my soul and I pray that they reach yours today.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” (Elizabeth Stone)

From my heart to yours,

Mom

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Sarah 5th Birthday_0004P.S.  One of you is having a birthday today!  Happy Birthday Sarah Elizabeth Meassick!  On this day 27 years ago, you made me a mom!  I. CAN’T. EVEN. BELIEVE. IT.  You are a mom yourself now, but no matter how many birthdays or children of your own you have, you are (and always will be) MY:

Princess
Peanut
Doodle
Sunshine
Beep
And DOLLY!

 

Posted in Celebration, Faith, Grief, Health

I Don’t Agree with Dr. Seuss on This One

“Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.  (Dr. Seuss)

“There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  (King Solomon)

In my kids’ high school yearbooks, seniors usually put a quote at the bottom of their picture, words that represented them and they wanted to pass along to their fellow classmates.  I loved reading each one of my kids’ friends quotes because they gave me a little glimpse into what mattered to them, their final statement as they pushed on to the next world of college.  They varied from very serious and mind-stretching to completely silly and slightly inappropriate (here’s a secret…those were my favorite).

The above quote from Dr. Seuss was under at least a few of the pictures every single year.  For a long time, I loved it.  It shouted the very important ideas of hope and thankfulness.  It helped people look “on the bright side” of life.  It granted a new perspective when sadness and pain came knocking.  Or so it seemed.

I filled my kids’ scrapbooks with quotes from Dr. Seuss.  Many speak words I want to shout from the mountaintops and especially whisper to the souls of my kids.

“Today you are you.  That is truer than true.  There is no one alive that is youer than you.”

“A person’s a person no matter how small.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

“And will you succeed?  Yes!  You will indeed!  98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!”

Wisdom.  Hope.  Life.

So why does the “Don’t cry because it’s over…” quote rub me in the wrongest (not sure if that is even a word) way?

I am not good at crying (except at Disney movies and This Is Us episodes).  I like to pride myself on being the “strong” one, the “positive one,” the “hope-bringer.”  But that pride gets me into lots of trouble.  I keep others out, when it would be best to let others in.  I put on the “smile” even when I am hurting inside.  I push aside any grief (like a good American) that threatens to overwhelm me instead of working through it.  I don’t like the negative emotion of sadness.  JOY is my middle name after all (no pressure there WINKY FACE).  

BUT…

(and it’s a BIG BUT this time)

I’m discovering ever so slowly that:

  • CRYING releases toxins and reduces stress.  Tears feel cleansing and authentic.
  • SADNESS speaks to the value of what’s been lost, giving honor to the good in our lives. (I joke often that if my kids or Allen don’t seriously fall apart for at least a year or two or three after I’m gone, I will be pretty upset about it!  What does that say about me if they only “smile because it happened?”)
  • GRIEF brings empathy for the pain of others (our universal human language) and creates a healthy path towards true, lasting restoration.

It’s okay to be sad just as much as it’s okay to feel joy.

It’s okay to cry just as much as it’s okay to smile.

It’s okay to grieve just as much as it’s okay to celebrate.

It’s why funerals and memorial services feel so bizarre sometimes.  One moment, sadness, crying and grief are palpable, threatening to overwhelm.  A split-second later, laughter and the celebration of the one who has been lost bursts on the scene.   What feels so dichotomous actually pronounces the permission to live fully in BOTH AND, not either or, the integrated,  beautiful experience of our human space and my human heart in it’s entirety.

BUT (hopefully a smaller BUT this time)…

I say to myself, “Sure, it’s true for the large, visible-to-everyone, life-changing human experiences.  But what about the very ordinary parts of my life and my day?  What then?”

I cry when my baby takes his first step away from me, but I smile that he is reaching his normal milestones.

I cry when my husband takes a job with a very long commute, but I smile that all his hard work is paying off.

I cry when my friend tells me she’s moving, but I smile because she just landed her dream job.

I cry when my daughter buys her own place, but I smile knowing she’s spreading her wings just like I taught her.

All these run-of-the-mill life happenings echo the same voice as those that are profound.  What happens in the momentous also takes place in the mundane.  I have freedom to embrace BOTH crying AND smiling, in all that this adventure sends my way.

I do love Dr. Seuss.  It’s his birthday when I am writing this (March 2nd)!  So HAPPY BIRTHDAY Theodore Giesel.  You’ve brought much happiness into my life and the lives of my children.  For that, I am truly grateful!

BUT (and this one is a middlish BUT)…

I wish your quote said this instead:

“Cry because it’s over…AND…smile because it happened.”

King Solomon was right.

 

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P.S.  When I told my daughter (one of the seniors in the picture on this post) what I was writing about and why, the basic gist of her response was this, “Oh Mom, I think you’re missing his point.  I don’t think he’s saying “don’t cry.”  I think he’s saying remember to smile.”  So there you have it.  If you also believe I am clueless about Dr. Seuss’ original intention, you are in good company!  Point taken.

 

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P.P.S.  If you’ve read this far and want to comment here or on social media or in an email, I’m asking you this question:  can you think of a time where you found yourself laughing and crying at the same time?  What was it?

 

 

Posted in Charity, Faith, Family, Motherhood, Podcast - Dolly Mama and the Millennials

How Not to Fight With Your Teens About Money

We implemented a financial system when our kids were about the age of 12.  In the middle of all the struggles of parenting, it was one of our successes!  Hear from each of them, why they liked it (and didn’t) and why it worked (or didn’t).  Join me in a discussion with all four of them at the same time (P.S.  For some reason, I talk really fast – LOL!)  We cover topics like budgeting, generosity, and individuality.  Finances can be sore subject and a source for lots of arguments with your children.  If you want to eliminate 90% of fighting with your kids about money, this is for you!!!  If you want to hear my kids make fun of me, this is also for you!

CLICK ON PODCAST LINK BELOW:

https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/e36um3

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Thank you for taking the time to listen!  Please share this with anyone you know who has a pre-teen, teen or college student!  It’s powerful stuff!

Posted in Faith, Family, Health, Motherhood

Ungrace (#NOT living from this place)

√ TELL ME SOMETHING YOU LIKE ABOUT ME
√ LIKE MY POSTS (AND COMMENT)…SERIOUSLY
√ SEND ME A THANK YOU TEXT OR NOTE
√ SAY “I GET WHY YOU FEEL THIS WAY” WHEN I’M SPEWING THE LATEST “UGH” LIFE MOMENT
√ CELEBRATE MY BIRTHDAY WITH SPEECHES, POEMS, CHEESY SONGS ABOUT WHY YOU LOVE ME
√ LET ME BE THE CENTER OF ATTENTION

Thinking back on my early memories, I loved being cheered for, clapped for, told I was doing a good job.  It spoke to my soul that what I was good, approved of, and I should do more of the same.  It fed the very normal parts of me that longed to be liked and enjoyed by others.  It saturated this “words of affirmation” girl with a bucket full of love.

However, somehow this beautiful, God-given love language of mine twisted very quickly into something called “ungrace,” the view that I HAD to perform in order to be accepted, wanted and loved.  Praise for accomplishing morphed into earning the approval and love of those in my path.  Scarily, I also believed if I did not do these things, I deserved nothing and should actually be punished.  No wonder I strived so hard.   Many times, I wanted to just give up because it was too hard.  It seemed never enough.  The bar was too high, always just beyond my reach!

Being a mom threw a major wrench in the works for me.  No one cheered when I was up in the middle of the night with my newborn.  No one clapped when I painstakingly folded the laundry every single day.  No one praised me for driving to (78,453) after-school activities.  I wasn’t sure if I was doing a good job, approved of, or even liked by those I served.  Believe it or not, sometimes I was even told (hold your breath) that I wasn’t doing a good job by the wonderful children I bore from my very loins (insert sarcastic emoji here).  I wondered if anyone knew what I was doing at all, or even cared.  I felt unnoticed and underappreciated.  Said love bucket barely had enough water in it to wash my face . 

Other times, I completely blew it as a mom.  I yelled in frustration when I knew it only made things worse.  I argued back to a very strong-willed teenager (imagine that!), escalating the problem instead of bringing calm.   I used lots and lots of words that produced guilt and fear in my children.   It was not a pretty picture.   During these moments, I didn’t even like or approve of myself, let alone what others might think if they knew.  Aforementioned love bucket drained to the place of “I still think I might see faded wet stains on the bottom.”

The scariest part is I believed that God, who I couldn’t hide any of the good or bad from, wasn’t quite happy with me when I was doing good and He was angry with me when I was failing.  What did I do?  I began a cycle of trying harder.  I carried the system of “ungrace” with me everywhere. 

Be the classroom mom.  Get a “thank you” from the teacher.  Have an “over-the-top” Victorian Tea birthday party for my 13 year-old.  Receive a “hug” from my teen.  Make cookies for every high school basketball game.  Get acknowledged at the end-of-the-year awards banquet by my 6’5″ son. 

DO.  GET LOVE.  DO MORE.  GET LOVE.  OUTDO MYSELF AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.  The loop viciously perpetuated and I was an absolute slave to it.

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Guess what?

Drum roll please.

Wait for it!

Wait for it!

IT. DID. NOT. WORK. IN. THE. LONG. RUN.

And thankfully it didn’t. If it had, I might have stayed in this never-ending, life-crushing cycle of “ungrace.”

Other, better voices came into my life slowly.  Words of affirmation from authors, friends, scripture, preachers, my husband, counselors, and #EVENMYKIDS slowly began to shatter the lie I was living under.  They revealed the truth of grace to me.  The shackles loosened little bit by little bit.

I found out that grace is fundamentally unfair.  Grace says love does not have to be earned.  Grace tells me I don’t have to gain approval to receive it.  Yes, I could settle for false love, the kind I had manufactured by doing and doing.  But I didn’t have to.  I could receive true love, the kind where I don’t have to do anything to get more or less of it.   Mind-blown and better yet, heart-blown wide open.

I also found out God is the ultimate source of grace.  He gives it willingly.  In fact, He longs to lavish it on me.  There’s nothing I can do to make Him love me more OR less.  HE IS FULL OF GRACE!  OVERFLOWINGLY FULL!  As I receive this grace drop by drop, my love bucket slowly fills.   This time, however, my bucket is not filling with all the temporary “ungrace,” hole-in-the-bottom-of-the-bucket, earning kind of love, but the free, unmerited favor, grace-filled, fill-it-all-the-way-to-the-TOP-of-the-bucket kind of love.

Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more—no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less—no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love. (Phillip Yancey)

From My Heart to Yours

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Now that you know how my love language is words of affirmation, you understand why I love having those likes and comments here and on social media!  What’s your love language??  How does your grace-filled bucket get full?  WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO LIKE OR COMMENT 🙂