Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Upside of Worry by Caryn Rivadeneira, mom of three

Recently my husband and I both went from being self-employed to other-employed. While we considered this change in status to be a tremendous and much-needed blessing, it didn’t come without stress. What our self-employed lives hadn’t provided in terms of financial resources and dental insurance, it made up for in flexibility

Since having our first child a decade ago, we had been able to work and be with the kids – for the most part – when they got home from school, on the sidelines of baseball games, in the car as we shuffled off to tap class.

"God has gone ahead
and is preparing the
very road we travel on."

So although our new employment status now meant we wouldn’t need to stress so much about how we would pay for life with three growing children, it did restrict our flexibility. And I’d be lying if I said that this didn’t cause my heartbeat to rise as I wondered how my kids and our family life would adjust to our new work arrangements.

Most of the time, however, my worry stayed manageable. But sometimes, the worry morphed into something greater — something closer to panic.

I realized fear or worry or even panic can have an upside. I have learned to recognize these emotions as cues. Because when wonder turns to worry, it tells me I’ve forgotten God’s promises. In fact, Isaiah 45:2 says this: “I [God] will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” That’s a promise of great strength! It is quite a comfort to know that no matter how life bends and curves, no matter the new direction it takes our families, God has gone ahead and is preparing the very road we travel on.

Dear God, thank you that I can trust you to be strong and go before my family, even when I am worried about the details of our lives.

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Life Event When It Lets You Down and co-founder of Redbud Writers Guild. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her family.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Wisdom of Shampoo by Dale Skram, mom of four

I grabbed my shampoo bottle and noticed the phrase, “Know the hair you have to get the hair you want.” Normally I don’t read the bottle, but that phrase caught my attention. Pantene has all kinds of shampoos to address all kinds of problems. If you have dry, limp, or color-treated hair they have a solution for you. All you have to do is know your hair and your hair’s “issues” and then Pantene can make all of your hair dreams come true.
I think those folks at Pantene are extremely wise, and I realized that their philosophy of shampoo applied to my life as a woman and mom. In order to become the person that I want to be, I must first know who I am today. And when I admit who I really am, which is often short of where I want to be, then I have taken that first step toward change.

"My anger came out in yelling."

For example, I was getting really angry with my children about leaving their toys, shoes, and stuff all around the house. My anger came out in yelling. My husband would ask, “Honey, why are you so angry?” I would reply “I am not angry.” I just couldn’t admit it. 
One day a neighbor standing at the front door heard one of my rampages, and I couldn’t hide my anger problem anymore. My first step on the road to being the person I wanted to be — a calmer mom — started with me admitting my anger to some people I could trust. And while all my dreams about the person I really want to be haven’t quite come true yet, I am trying to be honest about who I am at each stage on this journey of change.

Dear God, show me who I am today in one specific area. Give me the courage to agree with you and then change me into who you want me to be.

Dale is a popular speaker and MOPS Mentor in Boulder, CO (www.DaleSkram.com). She presents on the topic of mom friendships in the MOPS video curriculum for 2012-13.

Love Without Borders by Carla Foote, mom of 2

As we sat on the long international flight, I watched as a mom and dad and their new daughter tackled the 14 hour homecoming flight. The girl was 2-1/2 years old, from an orphanage in India, and in our hours together her parents shared about the two year process of bringing her into their family to join their two sons. Their joy was evident and I was impressed with the way they tag-teamed to cuddle, entertain, feed and nurture her during the flight.  And all of us onboard were thankful that she and a few other toddlers did sleep some during the long flight. But I knew that the challenges of parenting were longer and deeper than a 14 hour plane ride, and this family would need their reservoir of love to be refilled regularly.

I made a conscious effort to affirm the great job they were doing and to talk to the mom about MOPS. I suggested that a community of moms would give her energy and encouragement in this new phase of her mothering journey. She admitted that most of her mom connections were with families of older children, now that her boys were school-aged.

"We can be encouraged when we are down,
and we can encourage another mom
when she is down."

The great joy and love that we feel for our children does help equip us for motherhood, whether we enter motherhood through adoption or biological birth. But sometimes the feeling of love can wear thin as we face the daily challenges of life. That’s where our community of MOPS lifts us up – we can be encouraged when we are down, and we can encourage another mom when she is down.  You are part of this community now through your MOPS group, and hopefully you are taking risks and going deeper in relationships with the moms in your group.

What about the moms who don’t have this welcoming and loving community? I could just as easily have chatted with this mom and not mentioned MOPS at all, but why wouldn’t I want to share tangible and practical encouragement with a mom? We are all surrounded by moms who need love without borders, a love that invites and welcomes moms into MOPS.

Dear Lord, help me to be a mom without borders. Help me to open my arms, my heart and my prayers to moms in every circumstance, and to welcome them into community when the opportunity presents itself. Amen.