Be Teachable, Continued …

Welcome back.  This is a continuation from my last post.  BE TEACHABLE, 10 LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED – PART ONE

Lesson 6: Our lives have a greater purpose.

My life slowly began changing dramatically because of God and those that were part of our circle of friends. The company you keep will bring you up or down so remember to choose wisely.  Once I realized that my life was far greater than my own personal fulfillment or happiness, I found my life had a greater meaning. My purpose was found in Him.  Life was not merely about me.  I am here to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

 

Colossians 1:16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible… EVERYTHING got started in him and finds its purpose in Him

There is nothing like having children to realize that life is really not about you.  We welcomed Caryn in November ’88 and two years later Courtney arrived in January ’91. I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom but God had other plans as I had really strong maternal instincts and the idea of leaving my child in daycare overwhelmed me. Having recently bought our first home plus living on a single income in the DC area was not only expensive but impossible. God provided not only a wonderful job for Jon in Austin but the company was IBM and Jon had desperately wanted to work for them right out of college.  What a blessing!!! Living in Austin, TX where the cost of living was easier, Jon’s salary stretched much further and now we were within driving distance to our parents.  Motherhood was the most amazing gift.

Despite all the growth, I continued struggling emotionally and spiritually. Being closer to my family of origin just confirmed that I didn’t belong and opened up old wounds that had not properly healed.   Also, we left behind our spiritual home in VA with deep and meaningful relationships offering a place of belonging.  We drove cross county with a 3 week old and a two-year-old to a place where we knew no one. Jon started his job while I was left alone to manage. Adding to the stress, our newborn developed renal reflux and had other health issues. Looking back I was most likely suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety.

Lesson 7:  If you change nothing, nothing will change and sometimes you might need to seek professional help.

Anger is only one Letter Short of Danger

A year after arriving in Austin, I vacationed at the Minirth-Meier Clinic to intentionally deal with my anger issues, depression, and PTSD.  I had such horrible stinking thinking and believed many wrongs lies about myself.  Desperately wanting to be a loving mother I knew I needed to deal with my anger as that was not the legacy I desired to leave behind.  Counseling was my road to becoming a better ME, wife, and mom. Over time the soil of my heart was tilled loosening the strongholds of bitterness, hurt, and anger that had been deeply rooted.  As they were dislodged, there was room for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and most importantly forgiveness. I was fertilizing a new harvest for my children and the generations to come. I like what Danny Silk says, “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”

Lesson 8: God often uses our husbands to lead us but we must be willing to follow.

I will be perfectly honest, I am not a good follower as I had made a vow that no one would ever control me.  However,  this attitude can be interpreted as being disrespectful which will slowly erode a marriage.  Jon and I hold firmly to the belief that couples should invest in their marriage every three years. You can read this past post for our ideas. From Spectator to Participant – Tips to Grow Your Marriage.

Ten years into our marriage, which was about two years after my healing journey, I finally had an incredible support system when Jon was offered a killer job in San Diego.  I was like, NO/Never !!!  As women, we are good at convincing our husbands and ultimately Jon turned down the offer.  While at a ladies gathering a wise woman shared that when we are older reflecting on life will we, or our husbands, look back on life with regrets and longings for missed opportunities. Yep! I was convicted.  Thankfully, six months later, God provided a second chance regarding the job.  This season of our life was characterized by enormous spiritual growth, family closeness, and adventure all of which I would have missed out on had I had my way.

Lesson 9: Never say Never

What’s not to like about sunny CA?  Well, it’s not Austin, Texas!  It’s said the grass is always greener on the other side until you must maintain it. However, if you water the grass on your side it might become just as green. We eventually moved back to Austin in 1998 and I learned that it’s sometimes harder to go back as life continues without you and people plus circumstances change.  I certainly came back a different person!

I said I’d never live in CA.

I said I’d never homeschool but God had other plans.

I said I’d never have more children.

I shared more in-depth about each of the above in a post, NEVER SAY NEVER, LET ME TELL YOU WHY

You see, whenever God gives a person a command, He always gives His power to perform it. THUS

In 2001, our third daughter was born a decade after her sister. Everything I thought I knew about parenting was so different. I was older and more experienced so I thought 😉 Each child has a unique personality and temperament.

I’m unsure how I survived as a younger mom without all the gizmos and gadgets.  A lot can happen in 10 years such as the smartphone.  In 2007, both Caryn and Courtney graduated from high school while Cayley completed Kindergarten. God has such a sense of humor.

Lesson 10: Life will be Difficult.

We all face disappointments, delays, setbacks, financial woes, etc. and that’s part of life!  The issue is not that life is going to be hard, as that is certain, but how will we respond when it is hard and we are thrown a curve.  Will we respond with bitterness and upset or will we exude contentment – with calmness, cheerfulness/joy, and peaceful acceptance?  Contentment doesn’t come naturally nor is it easily learned.  In fact, Paul said “I have learned to be content” in Philippians 4:11.

God’s timing is perfect; never early, never late. It takes a little patience with a lot of faith, but it’s worth the wait.

God continued to teach me about contentment for in 2002 we sold our dream home so my husband could start his company. At first, it was exciting, but when we went months without getting paid, and as debt accumulated, it put a strain on our marriage. We often wanted Jesus to hurry and calm the storms.  But He wanted us to find Him in the midst of the storm. It wasn’t until February of 2009, 7 years later that the company would be acquired only to bring about new challenges requiring Jon to travel a lot and leaving me as a pseudo-single mom.

Life happens!!! Therefore, we will have many opportunities to choose either contentment or unhappiness. Currently, we are dealing with issues related to our home.  For over two months our home has been in a state of disarray (see below photo) and we have no idea how or when it will be resolved.  It’s invaluable to find the silver lining in situations as it greatly helps with contentment.

 

This is your journey, so be fully teachable and don’t wish for something different. As a learner, the road ahead will certainly be better as past mistakes present you with the perfect opportunity to learn, grow, and to improve yourself.

 

Share some of the lessons you have learned.

 

Be Teachable, 10 lessons I Have Learned – Part One

Recently I was asked to share some of my testimony with a Mom to Mom group and decided to interweave a few life lessons.  Being invited to share always brings about mixed emotions.  On one hand, I am thrilled to share but yet I am overwhelmed by fear.  Also, almost every time I agree to share, I have the craziest things go down and this time it was literally me.  I was outside talking on the phone and stepped on a huge manhole cover that was not level and forcibly fell on my right leg leaving me with two huge bruises and a cut knee.  I also experienced whiplash and for days I could hardly lift my head as I had tweaked it. The phone survived it all without a scratch.

“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity to do something and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.” — Richard Branson

 

Lesson 1: Always be Teachable

If you are going to speak for a group you need to know what they are about so I googled “Mom to Mom” and read that this organization was a biblically-based parenting program designed around the Titus 2:4 concept of older women teaching and encouraging younger women in the relationships with their husbands and children.

I certainly qualified as older, having been married for over 32 years with three daughters aged 29, 26, and 16.  However, I want you each to remember that you qualify as older to others and that we all have life lessons plus experiences which can inspire, encourage and direct others.  Part of being teachable is realizing we don’t know it all so it’s important to seek ways to surround yourself with people, books, conference, etc.  from whom you can learn. Life is one big lesson after another when you are teachable.

Lesson 2: You Are NOT an Accident

This truth was hard for me to believe as I was given the opposite message for most of my life. My parents were not married when I was conceived. However, I was part of God’s purpose, as there may be accidental parents, but there are no accidental births.  My life was not a surprise to God. He had my life planned long before I was born.  “Long before [God] laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love . . . Ephesians 1:4 (MSG)”

 

Lesson 3: God is faithful

An unplanned pregnancy, being female instead of the wanted male, and a forced marriage, created lots of conflicts, hardship, and bitterness between my parents which inevitably lead to their divorce when I was seven. Life was hard and chaotic!!!  My mom did her best to provide as a single mom living off welfare and working hard.  I had a few learning differences such as ADD and anxiety while growing up thus making my life doubly challenging.  We moved a lot during grade school.  My mom remarried when I was almost 13, I felt that my younger sister and I were seen as the extra baggage as we were not invited to the wedding. Because of the neglect and lack of belonging in my childhood, I grew up feeling unloved and struggled with trust, insecurity, and abandonment issues.   I was an angry young person. In fact, when I began counseling I was told I had only two emotions – anger and neutral. Through God and dedicated work on my part, I was able to learn the gamut of other emotions.

Lesson 4: Hurt people will hurt people (even themselves)

During my college years, I struggled with loving myself and made many poor choices in regards to the guys I dated as several were abusive thereby perpetuating my insecurity and lack of self-worth. Seeking to numb the pain, I drank and experimented with drugs to escape.  I turned my anger inward becoming anorexic, as my weight was something only I could control giving me a false sense of power. Did you know that others will not love you any more than you love yourself? 

Lesson 5:  Your past, need not dictate your future as God is our Redeemer

It was only 20 short years of my life that were used for my good and His purposes.

Joel 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…

Eventually, I met an amazing man who was unlike the previous guys I had dated.  Jon saw many beautiful things in me. His kindness, generosity, and love began to fill my empty emotional cup. He became my husband in 1985 when I was 22 and he was 23.

Just recently I had an aha moment, thanks to Brene Brown’s newest book, Braving the Wilderness, The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand I Alone. Crazy but for most of my pre-adult life I never felt like I truly belonged anywhere which caused great pain and personal suffering in my life. Brene goes on to say that “not belonging in our families is one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth.” This was true for me.

However, when I married Jon, I found a place of belonging as I had the family I sought as a child.  I saw and experienced unconditional love. I was warmly welcomed into this new family. An added bonus for Jon and I was getting married on his parents 25th wedding anniversary thereby allowing us to experience many shared moments celebrating our anniversaries together.

Entering marriage with an empty emotional cup and little trust or confidence in my role to ever be a good wife and mother produced much fear.  Unknowingly, I had made Jon, my god as I did not know the true God.  Thankfully, God intervened in 1987 when both Jon and I made the most life-changing decision by accepting a relationship with Christ (24) through a home visitation. I now had another place of belonging.

Now Y’All come back soon as I will be posting the remaining lessons real soon 😉  Blessings.