life

Group Therapy

She came through the back door, removed her backpack and kicked off her shoes.

“Group therapy is intense.”

“What was the topic this week?”

“Mothers.”

“Oh boy.”

For those who are new to this blog, my daughter is in grad school working on her masters in counseling.  Since her group therapy class began three weeks ago they have discussed their issues with the counseling program, one another and now their mothers.

“There are a lot of bad mothers,” she sighed.

She paused and said, “It’s not so much the things they did that make them so bad, it’s their refusal to own up to them. My classmates’ moms’ versions of their childhoods make them wonder whose house they grew up in.” She paused again and said, “They’re the opposite of you.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know how you sometimes apologize for things that were no big deal?”

“Yeah, that’s because when you hold your baby, you want her life to be perfectly healthy in every way – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.  When I first held you, I resolved to do my best to give you a happy, healthy, gentle childhood, to do everything right. Now, when I look back, I realize that I could have done some things better. And when I think of those things, I apologize.”

As an aside, I’ll share one of my regrets right now, for the benefit of those who are still rearing their children:

I wish I had given her chores.

Looking back, I realize that doing chores gives a child a sense of competence. It builds a belief that they have something to contribute.

I didn’t give my daughter chores because, as a single mom, it was quicker and easier to just do it myself. I didn’t give her chores because she was always playing so nicely and quietly in her room and I didn’t want to disturb her creativity.

But now I regret not giving her the opportunity to feel like she had something to contribute, not allowing her to build an early sense of competence, and of being a needed part of the team.

So when we are driving along in the car and my thoughts go there, I apologize.

And she always replies, “But I am competent. And when I lived on my own I knew how to clean my apartment and my house.”

“I know,” I say.

It’s not the skills she is missing. She doesn’t appear to be missing anything, but I still believe there is something to be gained by doing chores as a child, and I wish it had occurred to me then.

Yesterday morning, as my daughter was unloading the dishwasher, we continued our discussion from the night before.

“I guess it comes down to this,” I concluded, ‘the difference between a good mom and a bad mom is not in the mistakes we make, it’s in how we handle them. When you love someone, their feelings are more important to you than saving your own face. So you apologize.”

It’s just too much of a double whammy to be deeply hurt, and then to have the person who hurt you deny it happened – or minimize it – making it abundantly clear that they love their reputation, their pride, their fantasy of who they are way more than they love you.

Love covers a multitude of mistakes.

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life

Freestyle Writing Challenge

Author Erika Kind threw down the Freestyle Writing gauntlet.  So with eyes still bleary and a nice, hot cup of coffee at my side, I gave it a whirl.  I didn’t get a whole lot of words written in those ten minutes, but it was early, early, early.  And I got a few.  The challenging part was NOT going back to edit it.

Which brings me to the cut-and-pasted rules:

Open an MS Word document (or Pages)
1. Set a stop watch or your mobile to 5 minutes or 10 minutes whichever challenge you think you can beat. (Not sure what that meant so I just set the timer for 10)

2. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.

3. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you began writing do not stop even to turn.

4. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)

5. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.

6. At the end of your post write down ‘No. Of words =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.

7. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

The topic I had to write about: The Most Wonderful Moment in My Life!

The most wonderful moment in my life was the moment I discovered I was pregnant.  I had peed on the stick the minute I woke up that morning and gazed in awe at the blue line.  Me!  I was being trusted with the gift and responsibility of a life.  I cannot describe how wonderful it was, but about ten years later, I witnessed it on the face of another.

I was working at the pregnancy center and a young woman came in for a free pregnancy test.  When she saw the positive result she beamed, “I feel so privileged!”  I knew exactly what she meant and I knew exactly how she felt.

It is an awesome entrustment.

When I was around ten years old, I had a cancer scare.  I remember telling God that I really wanted to grow up because I wanted to experience pregnancy at least once.  I wanted to know what it felt like to have another person growing in my body.  God answered that prayer.

I loved being pregnant – well, until the uncomfortable, can’t roll over in bed, end.

My first look into my daughter’s face after the nurse placed her in my exhausted arms was probably the second most wonderful moment of my life.  “You’re beautiful!,” I whispered into her tiny ear.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  That beautiful bundle of joy is now 25 years old.  She presented me with gifts as soon as she got out of bed.  The best gift of all was the card she made.

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Word Count:  254

Picture Count: 3

Time to throw it down to five worthy opponents:

creakingbones

The Champa Tree

A Hair in My Biscuit

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Gray Clouds, Clear Skies

Your topic: scroll down as soon as you are ready to start writing!

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almost

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here it comes……

The time I was the proudest of myself.

Have fun!

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pornography, restoration

I Still Break Her Heart

This Friday afternoon I will spend close to two hours speaking to an assembly of 7th graders.  I will be showing them why it is important to guard their hearts and I will be giving them practical suggestions on how to keep them sticky – for a marriage bond that will last.

After a short break the youngsters will learn to discern media messages.  And in the process I will warn them to steer clear of pornography. I’ll tell them that pornography is especially dangerous for kids their age and I’ll tell them why:

When you are young – a toddler, a pre-schooler, an elementary school kid – your brain is like a sponge.  It continually soaks up all kinds of information.  Every piece of new information that comes at you gets attached to existing information and synapses (connections) are formed.

Then, when you become around 11 for girls and 12 for boys, your brain starts to prune itself.   It’s like little scissors start to snip some of the connections.  Random info that you don’t really need gets snipped away.  But the connections that are reinforced – like by practicing the piano; adding, subtracting, multiplying every day; listening to the same song over and over until you have the lyrics memorized – those connections become really strong and tough.  They are too thick for the scissors to snip.

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So if you are a 10, 11, 12 year old kid looking at pornography on your computer, smart phone, whatever, your brain will make a connection between inappropriate images and sexual arousal.  And if you reinforce that connection by looking at it again and again, the connection will become strong.  Very strong.  Too strong to be snipped.

Years from now, when you marry the beautiful, godly woman of your dreams, you’ll have a difficult time being aroused by her – especially after the newness of your marriage wears off – because you have trained your brain to be aroused by lust, exploitation and flesh rather than by love and intimacy with a beautiful soul.

There was an article in Time magazine several years ago that said pornography is as addictive as heroin when it comes to the effect it has on the brain.  When I was a social worker, I often saw moms choose heroin over their children.  Not because they didn’t love their children, but because heroin is so powerfully addictive.  So is pornography.

Five years ago I took a group of young people on a retreat to pilot a Bible study I was writing.  On the morning of the final day I asked them to share their stories.   Here’s RJ’s story:

I first met RJ and Beth when they came to lead worship at the retreat.  I hired RJ over the phone, sight unseen. It was clearly a divine appointment.  I still keep somewhat in touch with them through Facebook.  They now have a band, a precious little boy and another baby on the way.  They are a darling couple and their lives are good, and hard.  Sometimes REALLY hard for Beth.  Every time her husband chooses to indulge his addiction he is choosing to break her heart. When his lifeless eyes reveal that he has fallen off the wagon, when their browser history reveals that he has been googling “how to get around Covenant Eyes” at 2 am, he breaks her heart again.  REALLY breaks it.

And though she forgives him, that forgiveness costs her a lot.  And he keeps letting her pay.

Which breaks MY heart.

I asked my retreat guests to work through portions of the Bible study and give me feedback.  I collected them at the end.

In the chapter entitled “Know Your Enemy” I asked:

Is the enemy trying to rob you of the glory of your future marriage by appealing to your physical need?  Is he trying to get you to prove your desirability?  Is he offering you immediate gratification with a cheap imitation of the “naked and unashamed” marriage God has planned for you?  Couples who are living together and sleeping together are being tricked out of it and it’s a darn shame.

Beth highlighted those questions and wrote:

This kind of trickery does not stop once you get married.  It just begins to happen in new ways.  Also, Satan does what he can to get people to have sex outside of marriage & he does what he can to keep you from having sex when you are married, unless it is w/ someone other than your spouse.  We need to fight this tactic!

I wonder how many young wives, whose husbands are addicted to pornography – whether through actively partaking or through revisiting the images that they cannot snip from their brains – are tempted to prove their desirability elsewhere.  To somebody.  To anybody.

Mamas, watch your babies.  Talk to them, explain things to them.  And when you have a minute, read this:

Jamie is 13 and hasn’t even kissed a girl.  But he’s now on the Sex Offender Register after online pornography warped his mind.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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love

Perfection

The first handmade gift that really touched my heart was beautifully wrapped and sitting on an end table.  As our visit concluded, the foster mom presented it to me.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a gift for your baby.”

“For me?  For my baby?”

I cannot adequately describe the feelings I had as I removed the thick, luxurious, beautifully crocheted, pale green baby blanket from the box.  The very first gift for my very first baby was from one of the foster moms.  I wasn’t just the worker whose job it was to check in on her once a month.  I was someone she cared enough about to make a blanket for my baby.  I still have it, in a box in a closet, along with other precious memories from those baby days.

The best handmade gift I have ever received was the baby herself.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13

When that perfect baby was eight she made me a Valentine’s Day gift.  I remember her closed bedroom door, her order not to go in there, the rustling sounds of a busy project.  She knew exactly what she was doing.

She was in there cutting a heart out of construction paper.  A perfect heart.  Then she took photos of herself and of the two of us and trimmed them into perfect hearts.  She glued the trimmed photos into a montage on the construction paper and wove a ribbon around it.

It has been hanging from the lamp on my nightstand for almost 17 years.

I wish I could show you the precious front.  Here’s the precious back:

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Made by hand and by heart.

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