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I’ve been married to my favorite person, Andy, for 13 years. He’s always made me laugh. He’s my anchor in this life – never moving, steady and clear-headed. We have been blessed with 4 children, and they are teachers of God’s lessons in so many ways. I also have the privilege of serving at Central Christian School as the Development Director. I’ve done fundraising and development work for most of my career, and to do what I love daily in a place that is so near and dear to my heart is an incredible blessing. We chose Central because of the experience it provides for our children, but the Lord has provided so much more.
What would you tell the “younger you” about boys/men/relationships/marriage?
Just because someone gives you butterflies, that doesn’t mean you’re in love – and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re right for you. In so many areas of my life, the younger me thought I knew what was best. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and self-reliance was modeled and reinforced from a very early age. It still calls to me, daily, but I reflect on broken relationships, a failed marriage, even the death of my baby brother, and I’m reminded of the place self-reliance always leads.
There’s a clear line in my life that marks the end of misery. The concept of a loving Father in Heaven wasn’t introduced to me until I met my husband. I still joke with him about what he was doing dating me, and how we will never allow “missionary dating” for our own children. Don’t get me wrong, a relationship with Jesus hasn’t made life a breeze, but the knowledge of a creator who sings over me changes everything.
What would you tell the “younger you” about body image? How do you resist the lies that our culture tells you about your body?
I won’t lie, I still struggle with accepting this body. However, I made a discovery recently that has really helped. Satan lives in our culture’s views of body image. I believe that you could make the argument that a women’s body image, and what he whispers to her about it, is his strongest strategy for her destruction. I know that’s strong, but for me when I really stop and think about the number of times in a day I have a negative thought about how I feel in pants or look in a dress – by the end of the day, I’m not reflecting on the Gospel. By the end of the day, I’m actually believing his lies. In fact, I’ve added to them. It’s an ongoing struggle that for years I didn’t know was taking place. Just bringing that into the light, for me, has really made a huge difference in accepting truth about how my Heavenly Father views me.
One of my daughters recently asked, “Mom, are my legs fat?” I was sick to my stomach. After some conversation, we got down to the root of the lie. She has been tempted, like most of us, to compare herself to others. I love her daddy’s response to the question. He explained to be on guard and learn to recognize when you are comparing yourself to others. Comparison can only lead to 2 places – jealousy or judgment. In those moments, you either feel bad about yourself or superior to the other person. Neither place is right or good – and both focus on ‘self’, instead of gratitude for how God has blessed you. She’s got a wise daddy. I love him. I told him to keep it up – with 3 ladies in our care, we’ve got years of this to come!
What has God taught you about trusting Him?
The most dangerous times in my life are when I think I’ve got it all together. I’ve never believed that I have it all together as a mom, however, I’m really tempted by completing tasks and checking boxes. I have this strange sense of security when all my ducks are in a row. Security from clean rooms and a hot dinner on the table…imagine that. It really doesn’t even make any sense. In light of eternity, dinner on the table is what I cling to? Dinner determines my worth? It only last for 15 minutes, for crying out loud!
Well, I recently learned the truth about clean floors and great dinners (or fill in the blank on any task-oriented thing)…nobody cares. Not. One. Person. Cares. Here’s the real truth: those fabulous dinners that I was making right after school until 6:00 for my husband and children every night is stealing from them. It’s stealing from them the thing they want most from me…me.
We had a crisis in the spring with our oldest that really turned my world upside down. We’ve had some medical issues with our kids that the Lord has certainly used to begin to teach me how to trust Him, but nothing like this. In a moment, it became so clear to me that my daily attempt to “do” the right things for my children was paving the road to their destruction. That’s dramatic, I know, but stick with me.
Our wise family counselor sat me down and had me take a hard look at my life…like hour by hour, day by day, points of connection with my kids. I learned that any household chore that takes time away from my family may need to be examined, rescheduled or tackled in another way. Here’s the real ugly truth: I love to cook. That incredible dinner every night was an escape for me after working all day, wrapped up in this “great thing I’m doing for my family” package. Ouch.
You may be thinking to yourself…”Well that’s great, but clean toilets and healthy meals do have their place.” Yes they do, and I’ve learned that there is more than one way to accomplish the same goal. I’ve also learned that kids like to cook, and they also “like” to do chores…especially when it feels like time spent together.
Here’s the greatest thing I learned: We serve a loving and merciful God. He loves my daughter so much that He used this hard thing to pull her closer to Himself. She’s always struggled with belief. I recognized it in her very early and committed to praying for her. He also loves me, and He used this crisis to pull me closer to Himself as well. Maybe the reason I can recognize unbelief in her is because I’m riddled with it too. I mean, what does it mean to really trust God? I don’t think I had ever been in a situation – certainly with my kids – where “trusting” Him didn’t come with an actionable step I could take to “fix” it. So if I can fix it by doing something, how am I trusting God?
You see, I’m one of His more slow-to-catch-on children. He’s really got to get in my face to get my attention. It helps to remember that, as I’m parenting children that aren’t so quick to catch on.
What advice would you give a new mother?
Find an older mother that you love and trust – and ask lots of questions. I’m not talking about questions on baby care. I’m talking about hard questions – questions that you’re afraid to ask – questions that you feel like you should know the answer to, but you don’t. Talk to mothers of teens who will be honest with you about how they failed and what they would go back and do – that will share the hard spots in life that they had no idea how to tackle.
A wise friend once said to me, when I was lamenting the need to go back to work after having my first baby, “Hey, don’t beat yourself up. This is the need of your family, so make the best of it. Your kids will need you much more once they are in school. Work toward getting into a career that allows you to be there for them after the school day is over…when they’re doing their homework…when they’re crying about a friend who was mean…when they don’t understand their feelings. Be with them in the afternoon and the evening when they’re older. It will pay dividends.”
I didn’t find it helpful at the time, because it didn’t meet what I perceived to be our needs at the time. You know what though, she was right. Her boys were in college, and she knew that the meeting of a child’s needs just gets harder. I love that she didn’t say that though. She met me right where I was, and encouraged me…which leads me to the next question.
What has God taught you about friendship?
God has taught me that good friends are a true treasure. He has provided me with so many friends that have spoken His truth to me…both directly and just in the way that they live their lives. I’ve had to play some serious catch up in living my life for Christ and what that looks like. For several years, I lamented not having an older woman in my life to take me by the hand and be really transparent about loving the Lord and serving my family. Truth be told, I still need that…I mean, who doesn’t?
However, he always provides. He continues to surround me with friends who help me when I stumble. He knows exactly what I need in a friend, and the best part is it usually comes with a lot of laughter. I love to laugh, and I’m surrounded with lots of friends who make me laugh!
I’ve also come to a point in life where I love to meet new people. That wasn’t always the case. In fact, I used to avoid meeting new people pretty actively (that’s another story). I’ve come to recognize that a new friend is a gift chosen just for me. I love it when I meet someone that I really connect with…that feeling like “why haven’t we met before?” I know then to stay alert and present, because the Lord is going to use this friendship. We are both going to be blessed.
What is a lie that you believed as a younger woman that you don’t believe now?
I spent my teens and twenties pretty lost. My parents divorced when I was 2, and the relationship I longed for with my father never stuck. For years, I thought I wasn’t worthy. I thought maybe if I was better (name the way), I would be seen and loved. Those feelings of longing and emptiness played out in a variety of negative ways in my young life.
I remember the first time that it occurred to me that the Gospel might really be mine. Even after hearing the truth for two years every Sunday at Central Presbyterian Church, I hadn’t realized that I didn’t believe it was for me. But when I did, I was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I immediately recognized God’s love for me as the answer I had searched so long for. I would love to say that I ran out of the church doors preaching the Gospel to every hurting soul I encountered, but old lies die hard.
Even today, 13 years later, I ask God for forgiveness for my unbelief more often than I’d like to admit. I kick myself in those moments when I recognize it, but before I know it, I’m so overwhelmed again with His mercy and grace. I have this ashamed and embarrassed image of myself, hands open and full of broken pieces, handing them to my Father. He never shames me. I never leave Him embarrassed. He returns the broken pieces to me whole again every time. Every. Single. Time.
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
I’m always blown away. It never gets old.