The Invisible Mom

Wake up, wipe noses, wipe bottoms, feed kids, draw out Cheerios, dry eyes, discipline, teach, love, snuggle, hug, laugh, cry, wash and fold the laundry, cook, help with homework, run the bathwater, comb wet hair, snuggle in the PJs, fall over into bed.

I spend my day caring for everyone in my house—sometimes even for a neighbour, a friend, or a stranger. At the end of the day, I’m just invisible and exhausted. There is no time for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I love caring for others. It makes me feel valued and wanted. Even on a bad day, I still feel special and important. It’s worth it to put myself on the back burner for a while. It’s okay to take care of everyone else but me. It’s just a season—a season when I am invisible. There isn’t much credit in my job, but there is the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing it.


But I slowly become too tired to get up early for my quiet time and too tired to get in that ten minutes of exercise I promised myself. 

The kids were so hungry today that I scraped my own plate onto theirs so they would have plenty to eat. So I missed lunch. But that’s okay because when we were out running errands, I picked up a Snickers and a Coke. That was good. It kept me full enough that I wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s worth it to me to skip a meal so my kids can have plenty to eat. I never loved anything more than I love them. I would give everything that I have for them.


Oh, these jeans—they are a little bit too snug. Maybe I’ll go up one size. The pounds have crept on over the years—just a pound here and a pound there. Before I knew it, I didn’t recognize myself in pictures. I would ask people, “Do I really look like that?” and they would always say, “No. Oh, no. That’s not what you look like. You’re much thinner, much smaller.”

Soon enough, I had traded my size 2 figure for a 10. How did that happen? Why did the waist of my jeans look so large? Surely, I was not any bigger than my teenager. Was the scale really telling the truth? That would be the heaviest I had ever been without being pregnant. I probably wasn’t that big. But then I asked the littlest voice in the house, and her voice rang in my ear: “When I used to hug you, Mommy, I could wrap my arms all the way around you, but now I can’t touch my fingers!”


Had I taken care of everyone else so well that I forgot about myself? What kind of example had I set for my children—take care of everyone else and never take care of yourself? For fifteen years, I never came up on the list of priorities. Sure, now and then I would go for a run or do an exercise video, P90X, or hit an exercise class. Yet the way I took care of myself, I never completely turned everything I put in my mouth over to God. I just continued to take care of others.

In my own pride and arrogance, I allowed myself to be invisible. I was the one who has no needs, no wants, and no desires. I was holier than thou. I was the perfect mother, set apart, who needed no care—who only needed to be pampered periodically with more rest.


At first I couldn’t figure out why my husband wasn’t pursuing me the way I wanted him to. It didn’t take long, however, to figure out that I wasn’t pursuable any longer. When you don’t take care of yourself, you don’t look your best on the outside, but you don’t feel good on the inside, either.

I found myself becoming more and more exhausted every day. I didn’t have the energy to do anything fun. I would take a nap on a date night. I lacked energy and strength to keep up with the man  God created my husband to be. I lacked the ability even to go race-car driving—fun stuff he wanted to do, that would engage him. Instead, I made him enjoy more womanly activities.

You can spend your life by laying it down to take care of others, but eventually, if you don’t take care of yourself, someone else will have to lay down his or her life to take care of yours. Refuse to be invisible. Live your life by example.

After I decided to come out from behind my works and into the light, my oldest child said to me, “Mom, you have always taught us how to live and how to eat. You have taught us that we should exercise and eat healthy and take care of ourselves. But you never actually lived it for yourself. It’s impossible for us to live what you don’t show us by example.”

Come out from behind all of those things you do to puff yourself up and make yourself feel good about yourself—including serving others constantly and sacrificing yourself. Your body is valuable, and it houses the temple of God within you, so you need to take care of it. You need to treasure what you have, the life that you have been given, and value it enough to take care of it.

When will you choose to stop being invisible?

Encourage Yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be ninety minutes to two hours. My friends did it often. They would leave for the office by 6 a.m. so they could beat traffic on the way to the office, and they would come home at seven. I thought about the quality of life, and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you are never alone. There’s traffic everywhere. Everywhere you look, you see people, and you can wave and smile at people. On the other hand, sometimes if you’re driving at night on a country road, you may not see anyone for an hour.

                                      

Scripture says there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of it in terms of traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Most people are on this road, going in the same direction. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. The narrow path is the less-traveled road. The people on it are few and far between. You might be walking all by yourself for a while before you see another person passing by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and see the busy rush hour traffic, but you don’t jump in and join it. You choose to take a secondary road. It’s like deciding, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 onto this side road. I’m going to take the backwoods route.”
Think about it. When you get off onto those secondary roads, they’re more peaceful and winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stop is a backwoods mechanic shop with a filthy bathroom. The towns are few and far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It can be challenging to take the narrow path of God because it isn’t traveled by as many people.
Christians can fall into the trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them. Sometimes we don’t even think about it or we figure, “It’s okay for this family, so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. They give their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is taking them from the narrow path to the wide path. Their children start exposing themselves to entertainment and other influences that may jeopardize their purity. Before you know it, instead of following God, they are following the world.
As Christians, we need to protect the wellspring of life that is our heart and make good choices. I believe Christians should be out front. People should want to be like us. They should be following our way and wanting to make the choices we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. You are going to find that your friends on the narrow path are a wide range of ages, say seventy down to twelve. There are so few people that you have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle should look like so you can be close with people who you know are making these choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect, but when you feel lonely, encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like David in 1 Samuel 30. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t rely on it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and remember what He has done for you already.

Milk Spill? No Problem

When I was young, everything got negative attention. Every negative thing I did was highlighted with a flashlight. When I became a mother, I vowed never to treat my kids in that manner.


One day, Chandler spilled her third cup of milk all over my floor—the carpet, of course. I thought I was going to lose it.


Chandler’s milk spill actually happened later on the same day I vowed not to lose it. So every time she spilled her milk, I responded with, “No problem.” I really said it behind gritted teeth because I did see it as a problem. I didn’t like the spilled milk everywhere; I was the one who had to clean it up. Still, I refused to respond out of my emotions, so I said, “No problem.”

God had something more to teach me through this. When my daughter spilled her milk for the third time, I realized that the spill did not define her as a person. She wasn’t a klutz. She wasn’t a spiller. She wasn’t negligent. She wasn’t irresponsible. She simply spilled her milk.


Chandler and I laughed together. We talked about the fact that God and I loved her so much and that would never change. No matter how bad the milk spill was, no matter how bad her mistakes were, God would always love her and so would I.

While I was sitting there, laughing and having a wonderful conversation with my child, telling her she’s not defined by her mistakes, I realized I did not fully believe that about myself. Deep down, I had based my whole identity on my mistakes. The constant criticism I received as a child played within me like a broken record. Every single time I failed, I was treated to that inward refrain: “You’re a failure.” Whenever I had the opportunity to try something new, I would turn it down. I would think, “Oh, I’m not good at that. I don’t want to try it because if I do, I may fail.” I wasnt willing to take risks or venture outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid of failure.


Then I read Jeremiah 1. God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart (Jer. 1:5 NIV). I also read in Ephesians that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4 NIV). God chose me; He formed me. God strengthens and protects me. He equips me to follow Christ, even when it’s outside of my comfort zone. That is my identity. I am not defined by the mistakes I made. What matters is who I am in Christ.

Now I take captive all of those negative thoughts and the broken record of parental criticism, and I replace them with the truth of God’s word in Jeremiah and Ephesians.


Now I choose to believe by faith in the truth of who God says I am, even when I don’t feel that way. I know I can rely on my identity in Christ. I know who I am. I am not defined by my actions. My mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I take negative thoughts captive in my own mind, and it makes me a better mom every time the milk is spilled.

Today I can tell my children without reservation, without gritting my teeth and grappling with frustration, that their identity is in Christ and a milk spill is no problem.

Encourage yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go to work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be up to two hours just for you driving. Ninety minutes to two hours, my friends did it often. They would leave for the office by six am so they could beat traffic on the way in to the office and they would come home at seven. I just thought about the quality of life and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you never are alone. There’s traffic everywhere. You constantly have to look and see—you see people, and you can wave at people and smile at people. They are everywhere, just constantly busy. But at night, when you’re driving—sometimes, you might be in a drive in a country road, and not see anyone for an hour.
                                     
Scripture says that there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of those like traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Everyone is on it. Everyone’s going the same direction. They are all heading towards home. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. But the narrow path is a less-travelled road. Sometimes, people that are on it are few and far between. You might be walking a while all by yourself until you see another person passing you by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and you can see the busy rush hour traffic but you don’t jump in and go on it. You choose to take a secondary road. If you’ve ever been on a trip or you’re like, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 and I’m going to go on this side road and backwoods.”
Think about it. When you get off on those roads, they’re more peaceful, they’re more winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stops are a backwoods mechanic shop and its bathroom is filthy, dirty. There are few, far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It’s because, truly, the narrow path of God isn’t travelled by as many people. You’ve got people that are going to movies that may jeopardize your own purity because we gotta protect the wellspring of life which is our heart and make good choices.
So every choice we make, we never make it because everyone else is doing it or, “It’s okay for this family so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. Every day, they are giving their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is they are taking them from the narrow path to a wider path. They are increasing their path from the narrow path into the wide path. So all of a sudden, the world is leading our children, not our children being led by God.
I believe that Christians should be the front. People should wanna be like us. They should be following our way. They should be making choices that we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world, but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay firmly planted on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. I think if you’re in your twenties, you’re gonna find that your friends on a narrow path is gonna be in a huge age range. Say 70 down to 12. There are so few people—few, and far between. You have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle is going to look like so that you can have an inner circle that is close and tight and the people that you know are making those choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect. When you feel lonely, just encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like 1 Samuel 36. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t look to it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and what he has done for you already.

Milk Spill? – "No Problem"

When I was young, everything got negative attention. Every negative thing I did was highlighted with a flashlight. When I became a mother myself, I vowed never to treat my kids in that manner.

One day, Chandler spilled her third cup of milk all over my floor—the carpet, of course. I thought I was going to lose it.


The day that Chandler spilled her milk was later the same day that I had vowed that I would not lose it. So every time she spilled her milk, I responded with, “No problem.” But every time I said ‘no problem,’ I really said it behind gritted teeth—because I really didn’t like the spilled milk everywhere. But I refused to respond out of my emotions. So I would say, “No problem.”
God showed me, when she spilled her milk for the third time, that in this moment, the spill does not define who she is. It doesn’t define her. She’s not a klutz. She’s not a spiller. She’s not negligent. She’s not irresponsible. She spilled her milk, for goodness’ sakes.

So Chandler and I laughed and talked about the fact that God and I loved her so much and that would never change. No matter how bad the milk spill was, no matter how bad her mistakes were, he would always love her; and so would I.

Later, I read in Jeremiah 1 about who I am in Christ. In Jeremiah 1:5, that he chose me, he formed me in him before the creation of the world. I realized that in myself, I did not fully believe that I wasn’t defined by my actions. I actually believed that I was defined by the mistakes I had made.

So I was sitting here laughing and having a wonderful conversation with my child, telling her that she’s not defined by her mistakes, that inwardly feeling like that’s what I had based my whole identity on—was being defined by my mistakes. The constant criticism that I received as a child come back in my life as a broken record. Every single time I failed, “You’re a failure.” Insert Jeremiah 1.

So when it came time for me to try new things, I would say, “Oh, I’m not good at that. I don’t wanna try it. Because if I do, I might fail,” and I honestly wasn’t willing to do that.

Today, I take all those negative thoughts and those parental tapes captive and I replace them with the truth of God’s word in Jeremiah and in Ephesians.

And today, I believe by faith, even when I don’t feel like I am God who says I am, I know who I am. I’m not defined by my actions. My mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I take these thoughts captive in my own life and they make me a better mom every time the milk is spilled.

Today, I can tell my children without reservation, without gritting my teeth and there’s no frustration—I can tell them who they are in Christ and that the milk spill is no problem.