Friday, March 22, 2013

Week 8 Reflection

I was reading my morning devotional this morning. It perfectly summarized where I keep finding myself in my life. The title was “Take Your Time”. I tend to move in speed mode. Once I have completed one thing I am quickly into the next topic or issue. One thing I truly appreciate about the man I am dating is that he operates in a much slower manner than I do. I find myself slowing down naturally every time we are together. Now I just need to learn to slow down when I am by myself.
When we were talking last weekend he reminded me that I am much harder on myself than I am on others. I think this is because I have come to a place in my life where I am hypersensitive to hypocritical attitudes. Because of this I expect myself to be acting the way I expect others to act. If I am not displaying the specific behavior then I have no business expecting others to display it. This is not a problem. I think where I struggle is that if I decide I need to be behaving a certain way or that I need to change a certain attitude, I want me to be the way I need to be right away. Life is not about the arrival. Life is about the journey on the way. My self expectations are admirable, but I need to extend myself grace as I learn to apply the lessons I am learning- sometimes moment by moment.
Which makes it all the more ironic that the chapter in Boundaries this week was on taking responsibility for one's own actions. I have realized that I naturally tend to want to help, but that is not always helpful. Children need to know that they problems are their problems. Because I want to show them how to tie all of life up in a neat little bow often what I am doing is demonstrating that their problems are my problems. The problem with that is that I will not always be there to help them solve the issue. So I am having to learn how to expect them to solve it and give them the room to do so. Sometimes giving them room includes giving them room to fail- and I hate that. But if I allow them to mess up and to grow from there then like Thomas Edison they will be able to say, “I didn't fail, I found a way that didn't work”.
I am truly not sure who this transition is harder on, me or them. I have always done for them so we are both used to that pattern. Now we are both having to learn that I am not going to do it. I may assist—if they request-- but I am not going to do. I keep wanting to do and they keep thinking I am going to step in. But in the end not only is it better for both parties involved if I let them take care of their own responsibilities but it is also freeing. They do not have to hold back because “Mom, is just gonna come do it her way anyway” and I do not have to step in, it is not my problem.
Wow! I need to repeat that for my sake more than anything else. Their problems are not my responsibilities. I am not sure how I feel about that at the moment.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 7 Reflection

This week I am back in the Motherhood book. The two chapters I read this week were called “The Foothills of Wasgonnabe” and “Mt. Shoulda”. They worked well with the place I was in in my life this week. Last Friday after I blogged I had a very hard weekend. I had a stressful night Friday night and that spilled over into Saturday. Because of my issues I did not deal well with my former spouse and also with my daughter who had an issue of her own. All of this brought me much self-inflicted guilt.
I was talking to my counselor on Monday. We talked through some of my stress and crisis issue during our session. He gave me some great pointers and some ways I need to rethink things for my self. I want to be a better model for my children. But I want know that I cannot become healthy—that is something we never arrive at. The best I can hope for is healthier.
One of the things I appreciate the most about this book is the incorporation of “things I have done right” comments from moms of various ages. It reminds me that no matter how much I may screw one thing up I will always have other things I have done right. Some questions I am starting to ask myself:
What is the best choice in this situation?
How can I help my family the most right now?
What is the best thing to do to avoid harming my family?
What does self-care look like in this situation?

There are all kinds of shouldas that I could beat myself up with. I could say that I shoulda prayed more or I shoulda been home more or less than I was or that I shoulda disciplined differently.
But the bottom line is that the past is what it is. I cannot live in the land of shouldas from the past. I need to use the past to learn from but not to beat myself up over it.
The chapters I have been reading in Romans this week talked about God's faithfulness and how faith brings joy. I understand that trials cause growth, but in the midst of the trial do we think about that? Do we think “I am glad that this thing is happening to me because it will cause me to grow” or do we say “why is this happening to me”? In my case it is often the later. I need to learn to trust God and to know he would help me endure. This is my focus for self-care for the next months until God shows me that we need to move onto another topic.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Week 6 Reflection

So I try to blog on Friday mornings. I got to it late today and I am so glad that I did. An exciting thing just happened to me.
This week I am back in the Boundaries book. The chapter is entitled, “What Will Happen if I Do This?”. It talks about entitlement vs privileges, also known as the law of sowing and reaping. As I was reading through it I realized that I have brought my children up to varying degrees of belief in entitlement. While it was unintentional it still happened. So now I have a 15-year-old who just automatically assumes if she wants it she will get it. I am trying to teach them the difference between wants and needs and also the attitude in how they ask for something.
The author opens the chapter with a family scenario in which the child was given a job to do and he failed to do it, but still got the privilege. A few pages later he contrasts it with a family situation in which the child lost out on a privilege for failing to do what was required of them. So now I am examining my role as a parent. Am I making the expectations clear? Am I holding them accountable? Am I acting more like parent 1 or parent 2?
After I got out of class I had an appointment in SW Portland. While on my way to the appointment I called my daughter to find out why she had not called me to tell me she was home yet. During the course of that conversation she informed me she had left her keys at home and so had no way to get in the building. The parent I was a month ago would have canceled the appointment and driven back across town to let her in. Instead today I said, “Well the natural consequences of not having your keys is that you cannot get into the apartment. I have an appointment and cannot come back across town. Nor will I be free until I pick you up at the pool until 6 pm.” (The two reasons I could feel comfortable doing this are that: 1) it is not raining and 2) she can wait inside the building, rather than outside, for her siblings.)
Her response to this was, “What am I supposed to do?” Now I did have to walk her through some solution options, but this is because I have always solved their problems for them. I suggested she check with the apartment manager- she was not there. I suggested she could call the assistant manager and find out if he was on the property- he was. If he had not been her final option would have been to walk to the middle school where her sister is in school today and get her keys. And I didn't even feel guilty about it. How liberating it is to make them responsible for their own actions and the natural consequences of those actions!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spirituality of Relationship

I chose my boyfriend to interview. I chose him for several reasons. The man that I married at the age of 19 I met at church. We always went to church together. The issue of not going to church never came up. But looking back I realize he had the same issue my mother did- there was one set of behavior for at church, during church time and there was a different behavior for the rest of the time. Needless to say that I became a very jaded person when it came to trusting others who said they were “Christians”. The funny thing is that my faith never wavered. Once I came to the place that I acknowledged that I couldn't do it by myself and I needed to live what I said I believed, my faith in God to be in control and to care for me remained constant.
I knew my boyfriend 25 years ago, in another life. Through an interesting series of circumstances that I am convinced were a God thing our worlds collided almost a year ago. He began actively pursuing me at that time but I kept turning away from him, fighting the curiosity that crept up in my heart. Finally I gave in and responded to his reaching out. But we only “talked” through email for 3 months before we met in person after all those years. The first time we talked at Lloyd Center mall. The second time I went to his work. The night before I went to see him I was praying about all this. I am scared because of my past, because of the relationship I am coming from, even though it has been three years. I prayed all this to my Heavenly Father and asked Him to show me very clearly what path I should take. I said, “Lord, if you are telling me it is okay to see where this path leads then when I get there tomorrow Lloyd has to pray. I am not going to say anything to him about it. I will go in and talk with him, but if he doesn't pray then I will not take the next step. I cannot date a man who does not love you first, to whom talking with his Lord is not as natural as breathing.” I was saying all this in my head, I couldn't even speak it out loud for fear of jinxing something. The next day I got to his work and walked into the office. He stood and pulled out a chair for me, just like an old fashioned gentleman. Once I was seated he went back to his desk, sat down , and started praying out loud. I started crying.
He was raised in a catholic church, then he attended a Pentecostal church as a young man. Neither group felt right to him as far as their theological belief systems, he says they seemed to regimented, too legalistic. He wants his relationship with God to be one of awe but also one which feels natural, just happens without having to think about it- like breathing. Over the last several months of dating we have discussed all manner of subjects but as I was asking him questions over the weekend in reference to this assignment I found that in many ways it was like talking to myself. I thought that was absolutely awesome. I think I serve a Great God who wants us to have an abundant life and to have it beginning here on earth.
My former spouse and I couldn't talk about things that we appreciated about God, or ways he was working in our lives, or bible verses that touched our hearts. Lloyd and I can do so and do it several days a week. This is not to say that all we talk about is God or that I am putting him or us on some kind of pedestal of perfection. But I value that fact that we can talk about so much more than my ex- and I could. I value the fact that without even knowing God seemed to be at work in both our lives bringing us toward one another through each step of our lives.
He will stop as we are walking together and show me something. Oftentimes that something is very simple, like the first bird of spring up in the branches of a tree and talk about how God works to renew the seasons of life year after year after year. He will break out in prayer on the spur of the moment and take me by surprise quite often. It is almost as though he is having a running conversation with God all day long. I do the same thing. I do not feel this is approaching God in a manner that is too casual however.
God desires to be in relationship with us-that ought to blow your mind- He desires for us to be in relationship with Him. Lloyd is in relationship with God. He can see how every step of his life-good and bad- has helped to create the person he is today. He knows God created him for a purpose and he feels he is fulfilling that purpose.
Ever since acknowledging that my marriage was a toxic one and ending up a divorced single mother- something I promised myself I would never do- I have had one focus. This focus has been to make sure that everything I do, no matter how small, is done the way God wants it done. My marriage was something I never prayed about prior to getting married. My relationship now, and all other areas of my life I pray about frequently. I do not want to look back in 10 years and realize that I was on a personal foray again and not on the path God had planned for me.
As Lloyd and I talked last Saturday about his religious upbringing and his thoughts about living a Godly life I realized that here was another person who also was focused on living an abundant life like Jesus talks about in the book of John. I remember thinking how amazing it was that we have lived life completely separate from one another yet have arrived at virtually the same place in our walk with the Lord. I am dating a man who loves God, who lives God, and yet who isn't one to shove God down the throats of others. I want to be in a relationship with God that makes it almost impossible to see where I end and he begins because he is so much a part of who I am and what I do. I see this in Lloyd. I am amazed at the way God works. It was an enlightening conversation to have, especially since I have had all this time of dating him to be observing his actions prior to hearing the words. The awesome thing is that the words match up to the actions I have observed.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Week 5 Reflection

I am back in the Motherhood book this week. It has been very beneficial for me to switch back and forth between the two books. The information in each seems to blend well with the information in the other- which is very interesting as the two books are not written to go together, in fact they are not even by the same author. I guess they just each meet me where I am at right now.

I am also reading the book of Romans for the first time. Sure I have read parts of it in the past, but I have never sat down to read it over as a whole. So each morning I wake up and read a short little devotional, then I dive into my chapter of Romans for the day. After I have done both of those I journal on what I read and what it means to me. After my journaling I shower and pray while I am in there. It makes for a longer relaxing shower each morning, but I am finding that it starts my day off on the right foot. If I am calmer and have clearer boundaries my children seem to naturally be calmer as well. It is just like Henry Cloud was saying in my reading from last week- Kids NEED parents with boundaries. They also need parents who are not hypocritical. If I am expecting them to acting in a certain way then I darn well better be modeling that for them.

So this week I read two chapters in the Motherhood book. I do not try to read everyday because of 2 reasons: 1) I am super busy but more importantly 2) I want to give myself time to process through what I read and be able to have it have an impact on my life, not just a check mark on a list. The two chapters are entitled: The Mountain Range in Your Backyard and A Base-Camp Confession. Both chapters were amazing. How wonderful to hear that other mothers experience the same frustrations, guilt, doubts, and regret that I do. Julieann Barnhill, the author of this book, calls this phenomenon Mt. Guiltmore National Park. She assures us that we are normal but that when we “learn to scale the peaks of Mt Guiltmore the view is terrific” (p. 19). That rather than stay at the bottom and allow this mountain to “dominate our landscape, we can rise above and live where God intended us to- on the plains of grace and confidence” (P.19). In the second chapter she talks about the things she has done in her past as a mother that have caused her to be overwhelmed with guilt. Some of them I have done as well so it is a comfort to know that the person I am choosing to try to glean information from has her feet firmly on the ground when it comes to “I have been there” statements. It is always disheartening to find out that someone you turned to for help has no knowledge of the subject and is just spouting of what sounds good.

I am anxious to get into the rest of the book, but I know that if I try to rush into the next part that I will overlook something that is important for me to take in. I want to do this God's way, in God's time.