Tag Archive | women teaching women

Could I Be the Worst Mom Ever?

Note from Faye:  This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst.  Copies of that book are readily available from many sources.  While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.

In the beginning of this chapter Lysa makes it clear she’s stretched to the max and her stress level is around 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Her husband is out of town, each child had weekend events to get to and somehow she has ended up with four additional friends of her sons not only spending the night but to get to an out of town early morning soccer game.

She realizes she is running on empty from one gap to the next.  She wants to spend time with God, allowing His Word to refresh her drained spirit.  She wants a time of fellowship between God and herself to help her bucket to overflow.  There just doesn’t seem to be any time.

The next morning she manages to get all the boys and one of her daughters up and out of the house by 5:45 a.m. to make the soccer match and half-way there someone points out they haven’t eaten breakfast.  Feeling as if her status as a good mom is already in question she drops off the boys and hurries to the nearest drive thru with her daughter for biscuits and tea.  The drinks are too large for the cup holders in the van so it becomes her daughter’s fate to hold the teas to keep them from spilling.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  One pothole equaled tea all over the van.  Mom’s stress level is above 10 and she turns to her daughter accusing her of letting the tea spill.  The daughter responds with it wasn’t her fault her mom hit the pothole and out of Mom’s mouth flies, “Shut up and eat your d*** biscuit!”  The daughter was hurt.  Mom didn’t tell them to shut up.  Mom didn’t cuss at them.

Mom was appalled with herself.  The same mouth that praised God had just cussed at her child.  Her spirits fell to the floor and she was sure she was the worst Mom ever.  So she called a friend and after more than sufficient warning of the horrible thing she was about to share she told her what happened.

Her friend said, “That’s it?…That’s what you are so upset about?  Apologize to her (the daughter), ask God for forgiveness, and get over it.  So you had a hard morning.  Stop letting Satan get the best of you and ask God to give you a new attitude.”

In reading this narrative I was struck by my own thought, “That’s it?  THAT’S your WORST MOM EVER story?  My gosh I can top that.”  How many of you could too?  If you feel comfortable doing so, share your “worst Mom ever story”.

But like the author the formula for getting back on track is to ask forgiveness from our child (ren), from God and let it go.  We can’t let Satan have that stronghold over our spirits.  God will give us a new attitude.  We just HAVE TO MAKE TIME to SPEND WITH OUR CREATOR.

None of us can operate very long when our tank reads empty.  Like a car, we can’t run on fumes, we need fuel.  Spending time really listening and communicating with God is how we fill ourselves up.  How we guard against worst Mom ever moments.

REFRESH YOUR SOUL:

Read Psalm 103:1-4

Before stating that God forgives his sins, David the author of this Psalm praises God first.  What are some things you can praise God about right now?

In verse 2, David said, “forget not all his benefits”.  What do you think he means?

What verbs are found in verses 3-5.

What does God forgive?

What does God heal?

What does God redeem?

What does God crown you with?

What does God satisfy your desires with?

Verse 5 states that your “youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Life, energy and vitality return to your spirit.  How does this make you feel?

Psalm 103:8-13

God’s love for you is described in what way?

God does what with our sins?

“If God removes our sins, then why do we allow Satan to beat us up for them?  Let God remove your sin and leave it with Him.   Satan can’t beat us up with sin that we’ve let God truly have.  Only when we hold on to it can Satan use it against us.  Learn what God what to teach you about this sin in your heart and let it go.”

“Does fearing God mean “afraid of Him” fear?  No, fearing God is a healthy respect and reverence of Him.   How do you show this to the Lord?”

“We often think of God as big and powerful and mighty.  But in this psalm it is very clear that His tender compassion is there for us as well.  How do you show your own children compassion?”

Now that you’ve identified how you are compassionate with your children, identify how God is compassionate with you.

“Verse 17-18 tells us the Lord’s love is with whom?”

How many times does the word perfect appear in these verses?

“Whose righteousness will be with your children and your children’s children?”

Righteousness can be stated simply as “right choices that honor God.”  To those who ask God gives the ability to make right choices that honor Him.  He will do it for you and your children.  Since children act what they see it is vital we model making choices that honor God before them.  We will mess up but we can then model right behavior by pointing to God’s forgiveness, healing and redemption.

This psalm began with praise and ends the same way.  Praise God for how He has blessed your heart through today’s study.

The Quilt – Part 4 – The Ending

…Was everything a lie?  How much had Todd deceived me?  Even more important, how much was he going to keep deceiving me?  How deep did Todd’s problem go?

I looked at Grandma’s Quilt, all the crazy patterns and colors; it looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle someone put together without the benefit of the picture on the front of the box.  It was more a symbol representing our lives it was proof you can take the bits and pieces of your life, the good and bad, give them to God and He makes your life into a quilt for His glory.  Oh, how it hurts in the making.

Looking back on that night, when Todd revealed to me a very painful part of who he was, my own hurt was crushing.  It was so difficult to reconcile the man who, on that night and so many others in our future, would wrap Grandma’s quilt around us tightly and call out to God for himself, for me, for Ally, for release from “his thorn in his side” and for our marriage.

The official diagnosis would be “sexual addiction” which sounds awful and certainly made me, the wife, feel sick inside.  Todd didn’t feel so great either.  It’s a dark diagnosis and not one you get up and request prayer for in Sunday School or church.  It’s not something you confess to your friends or at marriage conferences.  It doesn’t come up in casual conversation.  So, although our pastor knew and a few friends Todd and I found our way through each day of our marriage with God, one another and professional counseling.

More and more in my heart, every time Todd “slipped” and I’d find out or he’d confess willingly the quilt became an engrained symbol of our marriage.  It comforted me in my deepest sorrows.  It was a shield when anger would erupt over us.  Todd often referred to it as his prayer mantel and many, many times I’d find him knelt in prayer weeping into Grandma’s quilt.

It took over 20 years for Todd to gain long term remission from sexual addiction.   I am just now free of the fear that feasted on the darkness of Todd’s addiction every time he is a little late coming home or doesn’t answer his cell phone when I call.   In 20 years there were over thirteen slips, not counting the kiss with Lisa.  Sometimes it was women he sought and met online, women he didn’t actually meet face to face but with whom he spun fragile hopes of futures he could never keep.   Twice it was actual women he “dated” and one he tried to carry further than dating but couldn’t.  The other encounters were online pornography.  Amazingly none of these slips ever led to physical fulfillment.   Todd’s therapist told us sexual addiction isn’t about sex, he was right.

The quilt had issues of its own…

There’s a rip I repaired with a piece of cloth from the bathrobe I was wearing the day a woman knocked on my door and introduced herself as someone Todd had been “dating”.  Stains from picnics, and Ally’s belief that chocolate should be another food group.  (Okay, she gets that from her mother.)  When pieces of the original twin size quilt began to wear I often used cut off pockets from Todd’s shirts to cover the places which resulted in there becoming places Ally and I would tuck “take along’s” into, probably not a great idea, as they are now “baggy”.

Through twenty-seven years of marriage I used odd pieces of cross stitch thread to sew up seams.  Quilting thread to replace old squares with new ones making stitches Grandma would be proud of.  Like Grandma’s original design my handiwork didn’t seem to follow any pattern yet it fit.  Only now I rarely notice the imperfections because they seem right at home on Grandma’s quilt.  Todd and I still take Grandma’s quilt out to our deck and wrap it around us as we talk or pray.  It has a place of honor hanging over the rocker we used in Ally’s room until it was no longer needed but has permanent residence in the corner of our bedroom.  A corner Todd refers to as his prayer closet.

Sometimes I just pass by the quilt and run my hand over it to remind me how wonderfully comforting it is, so soft, so us.  It’s the only thing Ally has requested we leave her when we pass away.  One day I want her to know how precious this quilt is but the time for her to know is yet to come.

Tonight just before I turn in my eyes linger on the quilt and I know I am blessed.  Blessed that my grandmother made it, told me stories about my grandfather and dad; blessed my mom had her part in it too.  I’m blessed my husband recognized the value in working hard for a healthy marriage and in prayer and that he chose Grandma’s quilt to be his prayer mantle.  Blessed that we have a bright, wonderful, talented 26-year-old daughter whose life is still entwined with ours and recorded as much on Grandma’s quilt as our family picture gallery and who recognizes the quilt’s importance.  I am blessed to have such a loving God who used Grandma’s quilt to cover our wounded hearts, celebrate our greatest victories and help us face the future because He uses it to remind us where we’ve been.

Our family is blessed to have such visual evidence of the handiwork of God.  Many women would have left Todd and many would disagree with my decision not to.  Recovery from sexual addiction is not easy and it seems it’s one of the addictions many people would rather go through life with blinders on about.  It’s a shame really.  Men or women who struggle with pornography or lust often wander through it alone and because they do they heap shame upon shame upon shame.

God took what was severely broken and made it whole.  Grandma took scraps and pieces and began a piece of art that was usable, functional and it became a recorder.  God takes all the pieces of our lives, ALL THE PIECES and though we rarely get to see the quilt from His eyes, one day we will.  One day we will.

The End of This Series of “The Quilt”

 

 

The Quilt – Part 3

Had it not been for Ally I would have huddled beneath Grandma’s Quilt the rest of the day.  Todd’s note of confession shattered something in me.   “We were so happy, weren’t we?”  I thought. Now the very foundation of the life we were building together seemed to have been shaken.  I wondered if it would withstand this assault.

With the quilt wrapped around me I knelt in prayer but found all I could do was weep and moan before God’s throne.  I watched Ally as she slept. She was so tiny and so innocent.  She was totally dependent upon Todd and me for her every need and she didn’t even know she was she just did what all babies do.   I knew God was doing the same for us, watching over us, He knew what happened and He knew what was still to come.  It was hard to trust my own emotions to help me make a decision about what to do or say about the betrayal I felt from Todd’s actions.  I tried hard to trust God.

My mind tried to rationalize Todd’s behavior.  “It was ONLY a kiss.  What’s a kiss compared to our lives together?” and “His needs must be unmet with me or he wouldn’t be seeking this outside our marriage.”

I also began to blame myself.  Had I become so consumed with first being pregnant and then with Ally that I had neglected Todd?  Since I had never seen a marriage on a day to day bases that would help me know how to handle marriage I must be missing something.  How inadequate was I?

The four and a half hours from the time I read the note from Todd and he arrived home were some of the longest in my life.  By then I had managed to stop crying and I sat in the rocker feeding Ally when I heard the garage door opener.  I tried to force myself to relax so Ally wouldn’t sense my apprehension and I offered Todd a weak façade of a smile when he came into the nursery and kissed us both.

The conversation we had to have I didn’t want to have in our house.  It felt defiled enough already.  Todd had brought home Chinese food so I suggested we eat outside on the deck.  I could put Ally’s monitor out there and we’d hear her if she needed us.  Todd agreed and as I moved the monitor Todd grabbed the quilt and the bag of take-out.

Silence was our companion as we first went about the business of setting out the food and arranging the chairs.  I went back in for sodas and when I returned Todd had removed the two separate chairs from the table and moved our two seater glider to the table.  Grandma’s quilt was also there and I allowed Todd to help me sit down and wrap us in the quilt.  We held the take-out containers in our hands but neither of us could eat.  The silence between us was so heavy I expected to be able to see it.

“I’m sorry.”  Todd said, putting his food down and taking mine from me.  He reached for my hands and held them.  “It was a stupid thing to do Honey.”

The tears made their way back into my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.  My voice sounded weak and shaky as I replied, “How have I failed you Todd?”

He moved closer to me and completely enclosed us in the quilt.  “Oh my love you haven’t failed me.  This wasn’t your fault in any way.”

The man I’d married and whom I thought I knew began to confess that Satan had a stronghold in his life.  “Babe, you know how much this quilt means to us, right?”

“Sure.  It combines all of both our lives up to the point we were married.”  I said, puzzled as to how this had a part in Todd kissing Lisa

“Some of the things and clothing your grandma used and then you used to make this quilt remind us of great things and loving people.  Right?”  Todd quizzed.

“Yes.”

“A few of these patches from clothes you got from my mom aren’t happy memories for me.”

Anger welled up inside me.  I was trying to follow Todd’s reasoning but so far I was just confused.  If there were unhappy memories in some of the fabric provided from Todd’s clothing and things through his childhood I was sorry, obviously his mom didn’t know or she wouldn’t have included them.  But they were from his childhood and adolescence.  What did they have to do with the here and now?  With his kissing Lisa?

“Todd what are you saying?  I’m not understanding.”

He sighed deeply.  “I never told you that for about a year when I was in junior high my parents split up.  They were going to get a divorce.  That was the year I played football for the first time, the jersey – the purple and gold one – that reminds me of that year.”

Again if felt as if the foundation of our lives was shaken.  “How come you never told me?  You always said your parents had a wonderful marriage.”

“After Dad came to have a relationship with Christ they did but before then it was pretty rocky.  Dad moved out for a year and I spent one week with him and one week with Mom.  It was crazy.”

“I can see that.  I’m glad God came into your Dad’s life and your parents salvaged their marriage, but Todd how does that year relate to your kissing Lisa?” I begged to know.

The silence again grew oppressive.  I fought not to fill the silence with my own words of hurt and anger, but I succeeded in remaining quiet.  Into that silence and stillness Todd’s next confession dropped like a boulder into the middle of our lives and the ripples would never cease.

“My dad had me…well…his girlfriend…” it seemed he couldn’t speak around a lump in his throat then the words gushed out as if a dam had burst, “Dad had me sleep with Cathy so he would know who she was with when she wasn’t with him when he was away.  It was like she was my part-time girlfriend too.  Ever since then I’ve found it impossible to stay away from women who offer me quick thrills.  I thought when we married it would be behind me.  I think I was wrong.”

When we married Todd had told me he was a virgin too.  He never gave a hint his parent’s marriage wasn’t always solid.  He even told me he wanted a marriage just like his parents had.  What about all the stories about his Dad being a deacon in their church and how they went to church as a family his whole life?  What did he mean “impossible to stay away from women who offer…quick thrills”?  Was everything a lie?  How much had Todd deceived me?  Even more important, how much was he going to keep deceiving me?  How deep did Todd’s problem go?

To be continued…

The Quilt – Part 2

If you were to ask 95 percent of the people in our lives through the years they would tell you that Todd and I had a healthy marriage with no conflicts.  That was our public life.  But there would also be 5 percent who could tell you of another side, a uglier, darker side of our marriage.  The side we kept silent about in small group Bible studies and worship services.  A side we didn’t tell anyone about.

I remember the first “slip” as clearly as if it were just yesterday.  Todd and I moved to his hometown so he could be closer to his mother when his dad died.  I’d never had a problem finding a job in radio before but I was sure that God wanted me to be in Christian radio and Bentonville didn’t have any opportunities.  Not within any reasonable driving distance.  So, since Todd was anxious to start our family we agreed we’d work on having our first baby and I’d be a stay-at-home mom.

We were blessed that I got pregnant right away and seemingly sailed through the months Ally was in my womb with remarkable ease.  I enjoyed getting the nursery ready, painting a beautiful butterfly mural on the walls, clouds on the ceiling and a white picket fence border.  I refinished furniture and sewed curtains, quilts and clothes for our daughter.  I didn’t have a clue that Todd was seeking companionship elsewhere until Ally was two weeks old.

One of the best pieces of advice my mother-in-law gave me was to sleep when Ally slept so I often would wrap up in Grandma’s crazy quilt and have time with God before falling asleep beside Ally’s bassinet.  Todd came home one afternoon for lunch and when he found both his “girls” asleep fixed himself a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and left me a note.

“Came home for lunch and found you and Abby sleeping.  You both looked so beautiful!  I hate to bring a bit of rain into our lives my love but I have a confession…I kissed Lisa at the conference the weekend before Ally was born.”

Todd’s confession sent me back to huddle beneath Grandma’s quilt and to cry out to God…it was a provision only God can provide because I was to find out there was a whole part of my husband I didn’t know and never dreamed existed…

To be cont….

The Quilt – Part 1

Growing up Grandma Mary and I spent every afternoon after school together and during the summer I lived as much at her house as I did my own.  Grandma Mary was my dad’s mother and when he passed away when I was just eleven months old she and my mother became a parenting team.  Grandpa Jack passed several years before I was born so she and Mom were two widows who took their difficult circumstances by the lapels and held on for dear life.

With Mom holding a full time job Grandma and I spent a lot of time together.  During the summer days and after school during the school year Grandma taught me to cook, bake, sew, quilt, garden, and keep house.  Mom was my tutor and taught me how to play the piano.  Both of them taught me how to play Hearts.

When I reached the dating years no one in particular kept my interest and Mom began to worry that the lack of steady dates was due to the lack of having a father in our home.  Grandma Mary would simply kiss my forehead and tell Mom and I both that when the right man came along God would let me know and until then, as long as I honored God with my dating life, she was sure He had His reasons for leaving me single.

College days came and went and by the time I turned 30 I figured God’s plan for my life were as Paul recommended, I was to remain single so I simply left it up to God and focused on my career in Christian radio.  I still had plenty of opportunities to date but I didn’t feel as “need to” in that area anymore.  Though I no longer lived at home with Mom and Grandma Mary when she passed away it was as if I were a little girl all over again.

Grandma Mary was diagnosed with cancer just after I finished college and the end came swiftly.  When Mom and I were cleaning out her house we found a box marked with my name on it in the sewing room.  Mom seemed to know about the box and the contents, I could tell by the way she handed it to me before she spoke, “Honey, Grandma wanted you to have this.  Do you want me to leave you alone to open it?”

It seemed foolish to not open a gift from Grandma with my Mom, so we opened it together.  Inside was a quilt.  Not just any quilt but one that Grandma had made incorporating the one she’d made me as a child.  It had material from my favorite clothes as well as from my Dad, Mom and Grandma & Grandpa’s.  The pattern had advised selecting contrasting or complimentary colors but Grandma often had her own ideas about colors.  Some of the squares were made with patterns and colors you’d expect to see together and some of weren’t.

Now Grandma had turned the single bed sized quilt from my girlhood into a double sized quilt by using material from my favorite clothes from high school and college, including blue jeans and tee-shirts.  It seemed like every hue and pattern that could be put together had found their way into my quilt.  Mom and I laughed through tears as we recognized the clothing the quilt had come from.  Each square full of memories, some funny, some sad, some memorable due to the lessons I’d learned when a particular piece was from a shirt or pair of jeans I had loved at that time.

When I took my “crazy quilt” home and put it on my bed it felt as if Grandma Mary was standing right there beside me smoothing out the wrinkles along with me.  Many nights I would fall asleep the quilt having dried my tears.  It saw me through a couple “almost” relationships and when Todd came along my crazy quilt was a way to share my past with him.  We cuddled beneath it while watching movies from my sofa and took it with us on romantic picnics in the park and to the beach.

Todd asked me to marry him when I was sick with the flu on Valentine’s Day, wrapped in Grandma Mary’s crazy quilt with a fever of 102 degrees because he’d waited long enough and couldn’t wait until I was feeling well and able to look “presentable”.  With my Mom’s help and after I asked Todd’s mother if she had any clothing that Todd had worn earlier in his life and she’d given me a variety of “men” color and patterned clothing – including Superman pj’s, and football jerseys – we turned the double bed sized quilt into a queen sized bed quilt that we used from the beginning of our lives together as man and wife.

In those first few months of married life I never thought of Grandma’s quilt teaching me more lessons on love, forgiving and endurance but it did.

To be continued….