Happy Mother’s Day, Remember Mom’s You Are A Big Deal

Over fifty years ago God ordained my time, place, and gave me a Mother as seen in Psalm 139: 13 You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb

I am extremely grateful for the bravery of my mom who chose life as today I realize her decision created a difficult road for her.  Her choice allowed me to have a place in this world.

Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” These are my sentiments as I know the road I’ve traveled has allowed me to be who I am today.  

When one spells mom upside down, it spells wow.  Indeed being a mother is wowful 😉  I am grateful for the love and support of my mom in my life.  It beautiful how our relationship has grown over the years. I love you dearly.

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Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you for being here so we can celebrate with you.

I have one biological sister and a step sister.  I appreciate how God has knitted our hearts closer together as we have grown and matured.  My mother’s mom in the generational photo is no longer with us but is not forgotten on this day of remembrance as without her, well there would be no mom or me.

As a family normal is totally overrated.

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My mother, sisters (Francois & Alyce) and four generations are shown above.

When I met my husband, the unexpected gift I was given was an incredibly generous, and accepting mother-in-law.  I am madly in love with her only child, my husband, Jon. Thank you for always being there and for loving me like your own. If you weren’t my mother-in-law I’d choose you as my friend.

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Thank you for raising the man of my dreams and accepting me into your life.

One of my greatest callings and blessings has been being a mother to Cayley, Courtney, & Caryn.  Indeed children are a gift from the Lord and I am so thankful for my gifts.

Having two independent adults who have become my best friends.  Who are not both living back in Austin within walking distances to us. I have learned so many truths from Caryn and Courtney as their lives are a living example of what it truly looks like to have a thriving relationship with Jesus.  3 John 1:4 puts it this way, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

Motherhood has been the most incredible job that God gave me to do. It has been through the task of bringing up my daughters that I have matured and learned to love abundantly, to be selfless, and gracious. Oh I still have much to learn as my youngest reminds me 😉

I thank God that He knew I was far from ready for the empty nest by blessing us ten years later with our Cayley.

I am so proud of who my daughters have become, are becoming, and how they make the world a better place to be. To the world, a child is only one person, but to a mother, her child is the world. 

It’s because of my daughters I have the greatest title, “Mother.”

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It’s because of my daughters I have the greatest privilege of being called “Mother.”

There have been many women who have graciously, laboriously, and lovingly invested in my life and for this, I say thank you.  I am unable to adequately pay them back but I pay it forward by following your example of investing in others.

Me with some of my spiritual moms and those I am blessed to be a spiritual mom too.

From my experience, there are many who do not have a mother due to death or abandonment. Others have strained relationships or are geographically separated from their mothers.  Regardless, it has been my privilege to pour into the lives of women that God has brought into my life. I am grateful for the many ways God had made me a spiritual mother. It is a privilege to nurture and invest in the relationships of many college students, friends, and others over the years. I am in awe of those who have made significant steps toward Jesus as a result of God using me in their lives. It is an unspeakable joy to journey alongside others, helping them nurture their relationship with the Lord and experiencing more of his love in the process. The blessing of spiritual motherhood is the reminder that you are making a difference in the lives of others and they are loving and following Him. Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As women, we are called to both mother and to be mothered regardless of our age or what season of life we are in. 

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Our love to God is measured by everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.

It’s been said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring: all of which have the potential to impact the life of others.”

May we all desire to deeply invest in others. Today and every day I give honor to the biological and spiritual mothers.



Thirteen Reasons Why, Has Me Asking WHY?

 

There has been lots of hype and controversy surrounding Netflix’s original series Thirteen Reasons Why. Produced by Selena Gomez, the original series exists now as Netflix’s most-watched series ever and most tweeted about series for 2017. Crazy!!! Given it was released just a month ago (3/31/17) worldwide on Netflix streaming. Even crazier was the decision to release ALL 13 episodes at once thus providing viewers the choice to either slowly watch or binge. Clay Jensen narrates Hannah Baker’s last hours and plays the leading role throughout the series.  Jenson took his time to listen to the tapes, unlike his peers who quickly listened and passed it on to the next person. WHY is this series so hugely popular?

The series is rated MA for Mature Audiences ONLY which means the series is designed to be viewed by adults, and therefore may be unsuitable for children younger than 17. It contains all of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), and crude indecent language (L).  WHY is a show targeted at teenagers depicting sexual abuse and suicide in such graphic detail?

This series will be shaping kids both positively and negatively. What will your response be? Hannah Baker said, “ there’s so much wrong in the world, there is so much hurt.  I couldn’t take knowing I’d make it worse nor could I take knowing it would never get any better.”  Do you want your child believing this lie?  WHY such hopelessness?  It helps to remember that our attitudes impact our children. May we actively be empowering our children to be world changers, to know their life can make a difference, and remind them life after high school usually gets better as their brain fully develops around 25.  Age matures you. More importantly, God’s plans are to prosper you, not to harm you. He has plans to give you hope and a future.

Personally, I found Thirteen Reasons Why, toward the end of the series, to be disturbing and several episodes were too graphic for me to watch entirely without turning my head.  Netflix warns about the disturbing content in episodes (9, 12, & 13) with the following statement, “the following episode contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing and/or may not be suitable for younger audiences, including a graphic depiction of rape and sexual assault or suicide. Viewer discretion is advised.”  Is this warning enough? Many schools are now also warning parents about the show. While experts urge caution in letting teens watch it.  New Zealand last week banned teenagers from watching it alone.  As parents, we should be asking WHY?

Curiosity got the best of me and I sort of binged watched the series during my mid-April flights to and from Vancouver, BC. I was totally sucked in as I’m fascinated with youth culture.  In a nutshell, the series is about a teenage girl (Hannah Baker)  who commits suicide and leaves behind audio cassettes detailing the 13 reasons why she ultimately decided to end her life. The series begins with Clay Jensen finding a mysterious box with his name on it and inside are cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker,  his classmate, friend, and crush. Who two weeks earlier tragically ended her life. My biggest frustration is with the show’s premise that the main character is basically blaming others for her ultimate decision and seeks revenge through the tapes she has left behind. She begins by saying, ‘I hope you’re ready because I’m about to tell you the story of my life.  More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.” This is so messed up and wrong! When is revenge ever an option? God is the ultimate judge.

If you have a middle schooler wanting to watch the series as, “everyone is…”  I’d encourage you to be the parent.  It’s ok to say no if you feel the content would be triggering or mature for your child.  Thirteen Reasons Why is wildly popular among middle school kids (ages 11-14) who are watching it without the knowledge of their parents and often in one sitting. I think many parents are afraid. They really are unaware of what their kids are doing or what goes on with their kids at school.  WHY not ask your tween if they have watched it and if it’s being discussed among their friends or at school?

If your teen wants to watch it, I would suggest to view it together with caution. Consider watching beforehand to know when or if to fast forward through troubling parts.  Use this opportunity to discuss the hard but real topics teens are likely encountering themselves or those around them. Don’t minimize their experiences.

I feel the series did a great job of realistically conveying some of the difficulties teens face during high school. I can’t pretend to fully understand what today’s youth are experiencing. However, I believe cyber bullying and social media have added to the complexity of teen issues by providing an ease with which peers can rip apart one another.

I was extremely frustrated by the parental and adult authority portrayal. All of the characters other than Clays’ are seen as independent of their parents. The parents were “depicted” as absent, uninvolved, and clueless to their teens’ struggles. WHY dismiss the importance of parents in a teen’s life? Then there’s Mr. Porter, the school guidance counselor, who did not adequately address Hannah’s plea for help.  Mr. Porter provided Hannah with no help and even insinuated she might have contributed to her sexual assault and should move on thereby adding to her isolation, shame, and hurt.  He shut her down by minimizing her complaints which were the last straw for Hannah. I hope teachers and counselors are not all viewed as untrustworthy and incapable of helping when needs are expressed.

Below are a few issues covered in the series that parents could discuss with their child even if you or they haven’t seen the series.  I think the best practice is to be proactive versus reactive.  Let’s be honest many of these are sin issues. We all have the propensity towards sin, however because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice we have no condemnation in our shortcomings and inclinations.

  • Deceit and lying
  • Body Shaming
  • Choices (good and bad)
  • Depression
  • Death
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Gossiping
  • Cyber bullying
  • Rape
  • Alcoholism and drug use and abuse
  • The consequences of driving while under the influence
  • Being responsible for your actions
  • Being willing to face the consequences of our actions
  • Disrespect of parents
  • Reputation
  • Worship of athletes
  • Social Pressures
  • Sex before marriage
  • Same-sex attraction
  • Homosexuality
  • Voyeurism
  • Stalking
  • Etc.

 

Suicide is sadly nothing new.  The tragedy of a young person dying because of overwhelming hopelessness or frustration remains devastating.  Parents, siblings, classmates, teachers, and neighbors are often left wondering if they could have prevented such terrible actions taken in a  young person turning to suicide. This was true of fictional character Hannah Baker, in the series Thirteen Reasons Why which shows Hannah’s suicide in great detail. I was stunned and horrified at what I did see and sadly, I can never erase those images. WHY did the producers choose to not follow the book where the character ends her life by taking pills?  Remember, that no one thing leads to suicide, and many people who experience bullying or the array of issues Hannah experienced do not go on to attempt suicide. I felt like the series implied that there was no other option. However, there are resources for our young people to connect and be guided by in their times of need.

It was reported that Netflix did seek professional insight from psychologist Dan Reidenberg who is the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education regarding the series and Netflix’s was advised to NOT go ahead with the project.  Reporting on suicide indicated that research studies have found that news coverage of suicide can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals.  So, WHY not heed the expert’s opinion?  Was this series made responsibly?

Below are other helpful resources.

I struggled with how to end this post. Watching this series has haunted me as it triggered a few personal issues from my past prompting me to want to speak out. During my Sophomore year of high school, the homecoming queen tragically ended her life.  She was beautiful, liked by everyone but I was left with the question WHY?  Sadly, there are several others I know who have ended their life leaving behind loved ones with guilt, shame, hurt and questioning WHY?

Let’s each do our part by connecting, being available, knowing the signs of depression, being kind, basically, do whatever you can do to make this world a better place.