Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. A day to honor your mother. A day to show her how much you love her and what she means to you. For many mothers its also a day to be disappointed. I have been reading some blog posts on the subject by moms who wish they got something more, more acknowledgment, better gifts, a gift at all, a better card, a big celebration, dinner out and so on.

I get the sentiment behind these blogs but it makes me wonder. Why are we as moms so desperate to be given something on a day that someone, that know nothing about, came up with and gave a name to? Are our children really so rude and thoughtless every other day that a macaroni or fruit loop necklace, a homemade card and a melted candy bar make it all better? Are our husbands so bad at thanking us and showing us that they appreciate us that a dozen roses, a sappy card and something from Diamonds R Us make us feel better about it? If so, I am truly sorry for you but I hope you know that those tokens are no more than than that. Tokens. They don't mean anything if your husband and children don't care the rest of the year.

Mu husband was asking me what I wanted and wanted to do for Mother's Day and I truly didn't know. At first I didn't know why I didn't know but now, after thinking about it, I think I do. My kids make me pictures almost every day. They give me letters telling me they love me. (The 5 year old's have to be read to me since she can't spell yet.) My house is actually being taken over by kid artwork much of which is gifts to me. My husband gives me flowers quite often and tells me daily how much he loves me. He tells me all the time what a good mom he thinks I am and thanks me for it. With everyday being like that why would I need a separate day of roses, cards, candy and overcrowded restaurants for them to pretend to thank me?

Yes, they took me to dinner last night as a sort of celebration but it was real and avoiding the crowd today was part of the gift. And we had lunch with my parents today but it was at a fast food place not a crowded sit-down restaurant.

I say this, not to make anyone jealous or flaunt my awesome family in any way, but to make a point. Why do moms with really awesome families, like I know many of you have, feel the need to whine that they weren't showered with enough stuff one day a year? And do moms that are treated badly the rest of the year really think that one day will make a difference?

You should be treasured all the time by your family. Some of that starts with you and how well you treasure them every day of the year. You know, that whole golden rule thing. But it also has to do with the kind of man you married and the way the two of you raise your children. If dad spends his days treating mom with care and showing her he is grateful for her the kids will do so as well. But if dad is abusive, verbally or physically, the kids will learn that too. Or if he is simply indifferent they will be as well.

I guess the purpose of this post is to ask the question. What do you really want? One day of pseudo affection and obligatory gifts or a whole year of a gracious and thankful family? I know which one I want. And yes, it is nice to be acknowledged, but I don't need a Hallmark holiday for my family to do so. I'll take my housefull of drawings and "letters" and the thanks yous whispered at night by a loving husband as we fall asleep in each other's arms over that fake kind of thanks any day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who am I?

My husband has been reading one of my favorite books to the kids. Its called Tales of the Kingdom. I highly recommend this particular edition of the book for the amazing pictures that help tell the story. Honestly the story wouldn't be the same without them in my opinion. Its an amazing allegory about the Kingdom of Heaven. I received it as a child and have loved it ever since.

In this book everyone has a Name that is given to them when they enter the Kingdom. The Name is for your true self, who you were created to be. Sometimes the name doesn't seem to make sense to the bearer, in fact it seems to the complete opposite of who the person is. For example, Princess Amanda who is by all appearances a tomboy and anything but a princess. Without going into too much detail, in case you want to buy the wonderful book, there is a process that every character has to go through to make their true self known. Its known as Becoming Real.

I was listening to my husband read tonight as one of the main characters begins to take the meaning of his Name to heart and become who he was meant to be. It got me thinking. Even though we don't actually receive a new name when we enter the God's Kingdom we do receive a new identity in Him. It takes a while to become who God intended us to be. In fact we never fully get there here on earth but a change does begin to take place.

So what is that new identity? Who is it that we are supposed to become? Or maybe even how do we find out? I can't say I really know any of those answers but I think we need to pursue them. God loves us too much to leave us as he finds us. This is beautifully illustrated in the book. People come to the Kingdom and are treated with respect and love. Even those that have never experienced love before, and more importantly, those who don't who don't want it at first. In a book its easy to see a person's journey to their real self. Its a lot harder to navigate it in life, on your own, without seeing the plot points. And in the book they are sequestered in a safe place for a time to learn who they are.

In the real world that we live in we have to face the fact that when we decide to follow God we are in the same circumstances that we were before. We have the same life, the same problems and the same sinful desires haunting us. Its harder to Become Real when you aren't so protected. But the process is there if we reach for it. There is Someone willing to walk you through the flames of your life and help you come out the other side as you were meant to be. (Yes, subtle spoiler but if you haven't read it you'll still be clueless)

It all makes me wonder. Who am I? Who was I made to be? What am I missing by stubbornly clinging to my old life? Am I being like Dirty, the main character in one of my favorite stories from the book? Am I clinging onto my old self because I terrified to be loved in the way that God wants to love me? While I don't know the answers to the first few questions I have to say yes to the last few. Its scary to let go and walk toward that new life, that Real me that I'm supposed to be.

How do I Become Real? I'm not sure but I know I want to and that I need to.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Me treasure me?

I've heard it my entire life and I'm sure you have too. "You have to love yourself." But that's a hard thing to do isn't it? When, as a teenager, you are the only one (or so it seems) that isn't dating at all much less at the moment it feels lonely and you feel unlovable. I chose not to date because it seemed pointless to me but still it made me feel like an outcast. I wasn't flirting with the small pack of guys in our group like the other girls were. At the time it made me a freak but now all I can say is, "Thank you for saving me from that dear Jesus!" But as that outcast its hard to look to the future and realize that one day you will be grateful for those choices.

Or how about when you are looking in the mirror at a less than perfect body and you wonder how he could still find that attractive? Yeah, its hard to love yourself then no matter how warped that thinking is. When you realize an entire day has gone by and nothing has been accomplished its hard to love yourself. When you catch yourself yelling at those you love most and see the faces of your children in reaction to that yelling its hard to love yourself. And what about all those other times you fail at life and don't do what you should? Do you feel very lovable then? Not usually. And you can rationalize how others can still love you because they don't know all the sordid details, but you do so your self hatred is justified.

Even though I'm talking to myself as much as anyone else when I write I want to challenge that thinking. In me as much as anyone else.

When we, as women, treat ourselves as less than worthy what are we doing to those around us? I would go so far as to say that we are calling the ones that love us stupid and discounting their view of us all together. When my husband tells me I'm beautiful, pregnant belly and all and I tell myself he's nuts then I'm calling him a liar and calling his opinion garbage. When he tells me I'm a great mom and I find myself arguing with him inwardly or out loud again I'm hurting myself and him. The same goes for every other time I tell myself something contrary to what he says or for that matter what God says.

So maybe that old annoying saying is true. Maybe we do have to love and even treasure ourselves a bit. Not that I know how to go about that exactly but I think its time I figure it out a little bit. Moms are the worst at this I think. We sacrifice far beyond the point of needing to. We don't have "me time" ever because its "selfish." We feel guilty for buying new things or even wanting a new hand lotion for goodness sake.

So, how do we stop the madness? How do we take care of ourselves and even love ourselves? I'm not exactly sure. Although a good place to start would be to, within the budget of course to stay guilt free, buy yourself a new shirt and be happy about it. But what about the things that don't cost money? What ways can you love yourself just a little bit today? Maybe I'll try listening to my husband for once and not let those silly little reasons that don't matter sneak into my thoughts.

For now its a start and one I think I can make. But I need to work harder at that loving myself thing. Maybe we can work on it together.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When the treasure is missing

I know, it looked like I started a blog and vanished like 90% of new blogs do. (Yes, I totally made up that number but I'm betting its close to accurate) But really I've just be struggling. Struggling with my own feelings of lacking and my own out of it state of mind. This blog is about accepting yourself as a woman and overcoming your fears and weakness. So, what is the writer of said blog supposed to do when she gets lost in those feelings that she is supposedly fighting? Hide apparently.

I guess that's not the best way to handle something though is it? I have been known to hide in the closet when I am having a bad day and I want to get away from the kids. I've gone in there and cried before. And maybe that did help a little by letting me cry without being seen but I still had to come out and face the little terrors that drove me in there in the first place.

A far better way to fix your problems is to deal with them. Especially in a place like this. If I want readers I should write about my own problems and struggles so other women can know they aren't alone in those feelings. So here I am, back again to share what has been going on.

I have felt like a failure. I had been doing so well in so many ways and then I lost my grip on whatever it was that was keeping me anchored. Ok, if I'm honest I know what I lost my grip on, God. I was spending time reading a devotional and praying and actually getting nourished by my Savior.

But then I got sick. Really sick for two or three days, I had the flu. I couldn't sit up for very long much less read anything or quite honestly, pray. Which is fine actually. People get sick. My wonderful husband even stayed home from work for a couple of days (working from home) because he was the only one not sick. He took care of all of us, managed to do some work and didn't make me feel bad about it at all.

But somehow I still felt guilty. Moms do not get sick, we aren't allowed! Right? Mom isn't allowed to be weak or be human. We are supposed to be super human and fix everything for everyone. We are supposed to be the caretakers not the ones stuck in bed with a fever unable to keep food down or stay awake. But there I was, helpless. Helpless. Its not a feeling anyone likes to feel but it was a fact for me

I was dependent on my husband for anything for two days. I couldn't even dry myself after a shower without help. The kids were also sick and I couldn't help take care of them. After the first one got sick, that I did help with, I got it so the other two were Hubby's alone to deal with and clean up after. I hated that. And somehow those two days sent me into a two month tailspin. One that I almost drowned in. (Yes, you can metaphorically drown in a tailspin, its my metaphor anyway so hush.)

I began to lose myself the day I got sick. Not because I was sick, not because my husband wasn't there for me, he was more than I could have dreamed. But because I listened to the wrong little voice. Instead of the one that told me to just rest and get better and let Hubby handle everything, and that it would all be ok I listened to the one that said I was failing. The one that said I should have been up and helping him or even taking over. The voice that said, now I was worthless because I failed my family simply by having a virus take over my body. There was nothing I could have done to stop it but I forgot that. I listened to the Enemy of my soul who managed to steal me away from my family for two months.

I did ok for a while during that time because I hid how I felt but I was slowly giving in. I was sinking into a pit of quicksand and lies. You aren't good enough, you can't hold onto this for very long, you will fail again. And just today did I realize how far I sank. My husband told me that he missed me in a simple text message. He also brought up the morning coffee "dates" we were having before I got sick. Just having coffee together before he left for work. I didn't realized how much he missed that, or how much I do for that matter.

I have said that the title of this blog is because I have two men in my life that treasure me just as I am. My God and my husband. But what happens when I hide that treasure from both of them? They are both left standing waiting for my return. I complain to myself that I'm not feeling loved the way I should be and that I feel all alone. But really, that old Christian cliche is true, "When God feels far away, who do you think moved?" And I realized the same holds true, in this case, for my relationship with my husband. Who moved? Simple answer, I did. I ran and hid because I felt useless.

Sometimes when I'm not feeling treasured I need to remember that its hard to treasure something that has been lost. When the treasure is missing its impossible to guard it and protect it. So, in more ways than one, I'm back. I'm back here on my blog and I am back emotionally back in the two sets of arms that love me more than anything. I'm not helpless, I'm not useless. I am a treasure and its time I act like it again.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Freedom in a stereotype

Today I was a stereotype. in a good way that made me laugh. When I got dressed today I had to wear a dress since I needed to do laundry and my "regular" clothes we all dirty. So, I chose a dress that I know my husband likes. Its a bit form fitting and the girls show more than they usually do, although it is very comfortable.

I am pregnant and I never wear shoes at home, I hate them. So, there I was in my sexy dress, barefoot and pregnant while doing housework. It made me laugh when I realized it. It felt good to fit into one of the stereotypes for a day. My husband loved it and I got a bit more affection than normal. It was a winning situation for both of us.

I think as women we are afraid to put ourselves out there like that sometimes. Even for our husbands. What is it we are afraid of? A neighbor seeing us? Who cares if they do, its your business what you do in your house, not theirs. Are we afraid of looking too good and making our husbands expect it all the time? I doubt he would but what's wrong with looking good for the man you love? Or are we just afraid of coming out of our shell? What would happen if we felt good about how we look all the time or if our husband always enjoyed what he saw?

Maybe we just need to treasure ourselves a bit more and be willing to sex it up a bit now and then. What would happen if every woman suddenly loved herself? If every woman suddenly stopped caring what other women thought and dressed for her and her husband? I think there would be a lot more happy women, happy husbands and as a result a lot happier marriages.

Why are we so afraid to love ourselves? I think it goes back to the heart of my last post. Too many of us are told as children that there is something wrong with being feminine. We are told to cover our breasts even when they are hard to hide like mine are. "Wear a vest with that shirt so your breasts don't stick out too much." Yes, I heard that one. I wore vests throughout much of my teen years trying to hide my Cs. I'm sorry but at 14 its hard to hide the fact that your breasts are size C. Our legs are to be covered above the knee or more just so we don't "Cause a brother to stumble." Too much neck, too much arm, too much, too much!

While I believe that the world we live in far undervalues modesty, I also believe that the church overvalues it. There is nothing wrong with being beautiful, nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful. I also believe there is nothing wrong with hoping a good guy will notice when you do look good. God created that desire in us and the desire in men to see us. In a healthy way. In a well dressed, not so covered as to be a nun but not so uncovered as to be a hooker, way.

If a man is looking at me in a way the is not appropriate that is his heart issue not mine. It is not up to me to be sure that every man that looks at me isn't sinning. It is, however, up to me to make sure my husband has something enjoyable to look at when we go out. I am preaching to myself here as much as I am to anyone else. I don't dress nice enough much of the time. Because I am afraid to look good. I was taught to hide under clothes not to use them to enhance my natural beauty.

My husband loves me and loves to look. My God made me and made me beautiful to my husband. Why would I hide under clothes that neither one of us like just to keep him from seeing me? Maybe I need to have more stereotype days; more barefoot, pregnant and sexy days. (Minus the pregnant in a few months)

I want to teach my daughters how to dress in a way that enhances their looks, not downplays them but doesn't overplay them either. No hookers in this house but no nuns either.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The shame of hidden shame

On a blog I frequent I saw this comment, on a post about what age women started their periods, that broke my heart. I'll let you read it and then I'll explain why. (I am not editing it for spelling or anything. These are her words.)

"It was two and a half weeks before my 11th birthday. It happened at school in the middle of gym class. I went to a strict Christian school (it was co-ed, but there were a lot of rules to separate guys and girls). We hadn’t had “the talk” yet and I had no idea what was happening to me. There were no tampon or pad dispensors though I wouldn’t have known what to do with one if it had been around. I thought that I had hurt my insides, but I felt strangely embarrassed to reveal what had happened to me, so I cut my arm, and asked for some gauze from the medbasket (the nurse wasn’t always around, so there was a medical basket in the office supplied with gauze, bandaids, aspirin and the like) then I hid in the washroom trying to decide how to stem the bleeding. I never told my mother what happened and she never explained to me that these changes were natural or what other changes to expect. I am the oldest girl in my family, but I have several older brothers who always seemed embarrassed by a woman’s body. To this day, the female body and the fact that I have one, makes me uncomfortable."

I have experienced the pain in this woman's words to a degree but not this severely. This woman is uncomfortable simply being who she was made to be. She was created by God as a woman. As a treasure and one of His crowning achievements. And yet she is embarrassed to be a woman. Her family and the Christian community around her completely failed her. That may sound harsh but its true.

She was not told what to expect from her body, EVER! She was young when she began her period but she was never told what was going on. Who knows how long it took her to figure out that what was happening was normal and healthy. Did she think she was dying for that entire week as a child? Did she think she had some awful disease when it began again the next month? She had to navigate a minefield of emotions alone. Alone. No advice on what kinds of products to use, no reassurances that she was ok and that every woman deals with this, nothing. Totally alone. At ten years old.

As an adult she is still uncomfortable with being a woman and having a body that God gave her to gift to her husband. To enjoy along with her husband in ecstasy. Instead she is ashamed. Ashamed to be something that reflects part of God. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

She is like so many women who believe, thanks to the church, that its evil to be a woman, to be beautiful. She feels that its wrong to feel beautiful. Girls growing up in the church are taught, directly or by impression, to be  "good little church girls." To do so means to be a prude, overly modest (even when married and in private), have no desire for a man and that sex is wrong in all contexts. I dealt with this on a much smaller scale than she did and still is. It hurt me! I struggled the first several years of my marriage to shed the wrong belief that to be sexual with my husband was wrong. I still feel it crop up now and then but for the most part I know that I am free to love my husband and be loved by him. Free to be desired and feel beautiful and even sexy.

But this poor woman still hasn't felt that relief. I am betting that there are thousands of other women out there that feel the way she does. Her brothers! They were also embarrassed by women. I feel so sorry for any women they were ever interested in that actually had a healthy view of who they were in God.

This kind of abuse to women must stop! The church and those claiming to represent God have to stop telling women and girls that they are something to be hidden. If you have a daughter please let her know she is beautiful and never tell her she has to hide her body. Yes, teach her healthy modesty but stay away from shame. Women are beautiful. Every single one. We were made to be. We were made to be loved by God and a good man. Made to be treated with respect, not with disdain or embarrassment.

You are beautiful. You are loved by the God who made you, were created last. Not as an afterthought but as a magnum opus. Creation was not fully good until he made you. Man was alone and it was not good. "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18

Please remember that you are loved and treasured and you need to allow yourself to be; by God and by your husband if you have one. If you don't yet have a husband then begin to learn this now so that when the time comes you can be free to be loved the way God intended you to be.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Who treasures me?

With a blog name like He Treasures Me, people are going to wonder who the "he" is I'm talking about. In this case its twofold. First and foremost I mean God. God my creator and sustainer.

Yes, this is a blog where I will be getting "religious" a lot. But not in the bash you over the head with the Bible God hates you kind of way. More of a, I believe God made me and loves me and wants me to have the best life I can, kind of thing.

Second I mean my husband. He treasures me in a way that I wish every woman could experience. He loves me like crazy even when I am crazy and in his words he, Just wants me to be ok.

But there is one small problem, one I believe every woman out there has. I have a hard time remembering. Remembering how my God and my husband feel about me. I get lost in the pressures our world throws at me and the lies that say only skinny women get love. I forget that I am a perfect creation of God and a woman chosen for life by a wonderful man.

This is the story of my journey to me and my struggles to remember that I am a treasure. I am sharing it because I believe that every woman out there struggles with these same feeling. Our world is very hard on women. We are abused by simply walking out our doors. Every sign with a "perfect" airbrushed, overly made up, too skinny woman on it says we aren't enough. If you don't fit the "perfect profile" you are glared at just for walking through the store and not being perfect.

But, if you are blessed enough to find that man who will treasure you and to remember how much your Creator treasures you; you can ignore those looks and walk proud. I am working on remembering that and I will share my discoveries with you. I am hoping that the inside journey will one day make it to the outside. I'm not happy with what I see in or out. But first I have to fix my heart and get ok with who I am. Then I can fix the outside and make that as beautiful as it was meant to be and as beautiful as I am on the inside.