The Invisible Woman

No one notices when she walks into the room. No one asks her how things are going. Someone may offer up the obligatory “how are you?”

“I’m good, things are good”, she smiles and answers plainly.

Satisfied with her “I’m good” answer they walk away, they’ve done their part.

Our Invisible Woman doesn’t have a special person like that young lady over there with a mentor friend who not only asks, but also invests in and checks in on that young woman. Invisible Woman thinks to herself, “Maybe it’s her mom or something. I wish I had someone like that.” It is so sad how much the Invisible Woman notices that no one to notices her.

Could this be you today? Lonely and unnoticed.

Before I was a mom I had a really great career in Human Resources. I was recognized and praised and it felt so good. Even so, it was not hard for me to leave my satisfying job to care for my baby boy when he arrived. Baby-raising is intense and good and sweet. I was so busy being vigilant about my boy and soon after, my baby girl, that I didn’t even notice that I was going unnoticed. I was too focused on my babies and potty training. But soon my babies began to grow into kids. Then my kids both went off to school. That’s when I realized how unnoticed I was. For the stay at home mom, it is very lonely. There is not a team of people around you to say, “Great job! We know we can always count on you!” At jobs you even get recognized for years of service. So hey mom, when was the last time you were noticed and recognized for your accomplishments? Hopefully it was on Mother’s Day. My heart yearns for you to be built up more than once a year.

In a world where you can connect with hundreds of people on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumbler, we are still so hungry for a deeper connection that somehow Facebook cannot offer.  Our hearts cry out, “Notice me! See me! Like me! Get to know me!” Maybe you’ve seen some attention seeking behavior on social media that made you want to roll your eyes and ask them how old they were. Sometimes we just feel needy. Is that bad? Is it a weakness to be in need of encouragement? It is a bad idea to depend on Facebook “likes” and Twitter “favorites” as a measure of how liked and noticed we are because many of us would draw a dangerous conclusion that we are not worth much at all.

This is not about being the center of attention, the center of the universe, or having the world revolve around us. This is not narcissism. This is about a desperate need for sincere community.   For women who cannot count on work friends, church friends, close family or neighbors they need to know they are not invisible and they do belong.

I recall a time when three weeks went by without a call or email or text from anyone. During that time I tried reaching out. Friends and family were too busy to get together or it was just inconvenient. It was a lonely time that drew me to my knees in tears. We were made to connect with people. I would say that if you are in tears because you haven’t been able to connect, that makes you very normal.

I have often thought that the best cure for this was to be what you wish you could get from others – a kind of give-to-get mentality. You want people to take an interest in your life? –then show interest in theirs. You want others to remember you and notice you? –then remember them and notice them.   Sometimes this works, but it takes time. And sometimes it never comes back. You find yourself being the interested encourager in others and no one is interested in encouraging you.

From this well-meaning yet flawed approach we see our need for an alternate source of deep love in our life. Jesus is the only Person that will not let you down in the care and concern department. How awesome it is to feel His love and strength welling up inside so that even when no one loves back I can still extend genuine life-giving love. Whether its to my husband, sister, brother or friend, I can only love them if I have the love of God flowing from me -God’s kind, patient and not self-seeking love. Something amazing happens when you open your heart to receive His love. It is a fountain. The love flows one direction from an eternal source. A fountain does not expect or even conceive of ever seeing anything make its way back up. A fountain just wants the water to flow out.

It is this kind of love that helps you dial your phone when it hasn’t rung or send a text when you haven’t received one. This love helps you press the send button while your inbox remains empty.

pray with me

Lord help us to love like this even when we feel invisible. Please remind us how valuable we are to You. I pray that we would wake up everyday seeking You to find our value and place in this world so that we can share it with others who feel invisible.

your thoughts

What do you think about neediness? Do you think it is a weakness or personality flaw?

When have you felt invisible?

Older women – What advice or encouragement would you give to an invisible mom?

your actions

Did you ever stop and think that you could be the noticer that a lonely mom needs? Tell God you are ready for Him to use you to reach out to a lonely mom today. Show His interest in your eyes and His care in your words.

If you are lonely, please don’t stop trying to connect.  Send that email, send that text and make that call.

Let me know how it goes!

I have so much more I’d like to give you today but fear it would exhaust the proper length of a blog post! We will continue this Invisible Woman topic tomorrow as we learn about God: El Roi, the God who sees. Such comfort for The Invisible Woman!

Advertisements

Neither Do I Condemn You

Read John 8:1-11

Walking away from God is surely not without consequence. After reading about this woman caught in adultery I thought about sheep. How stupid they are to wonder away from the care of the shepherd. They do not last long on out on their own. Maybe when you read about this woman you thought the same thing, “How stupid.”

Like the sheep from Luke 15 that we read about on Tuesday, I went astray. I went out searching for something that I thought my Shepherd was withholding from me. Have you ever been stubborn like that? “If you won’t give it to me then I will just get I myself.” After Jeff and I were married we struggled to get it together spiritually. I tried so hard to reach out to Jeff but he was cold and distant. Since we weren’t going to church my “well” was beginning to run dry. Soon I had wondered so far from the Lord that I contemplated having an affair as an escape from my lonely marriage. I even read the book The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. You may have seen the movie. The whole story starts with these two adult kids going through their mother’s things after she had passed away. They stumble upon a journal and are shocked to learn that their mother had a passionate weeklong affair when they were school kids. The whole message of the book was that if you are so unhappy it’s ok to betray your husband. Keep it a secret. No one finds out. No one gets hurt. And I really fell for it. I believed that I could have this affair and it would be as a precious jewel that would I stash away in my jewelry box. Only I know it’s there and I can go and look at it whenever I wanted. The memories would be a hidden treasure that I would secretly cherish. It would be my companion on lonely days. So off I went. Even now I imagine my Shepherd watching me from afar, His wondering sheep. The reality of the affair was not at all like the fairy tale I kept trying to make happen. It was awkward. So many lies. Not satisfying. I knew I had made a huge mistake. I ended the two month long affair and I was so scared and lost and all alone. My heart bleated for The Shepherd. He found me. And I was ashamed to find that He never took His eyes off me. My repentant heart grieved over betraying my husband’s trust and I agreed with God that I was so wrong. I did not feel worthy of His help. It was my mess. But it is impossible to stand in such strong waves of grace and mercy. I felt so stupid and also very aware. It was like I could see clearly now. I thought back to the book I read and I was furious with the lie it was propagating.   There was no precious jewel of memories to treasure in my heart. Only a deep stabbing pain every time I looked in my husband’s eyes. How could Francesca live with her husband while harboring such a secret? I’m guessing she didn’t live much. There is no life apart from Christ and we will never feel free if we are held hostage by such damaging secrets. Jeff was not perfect but his love was true. We struggled to meet eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart but it was pure and right. He would look in my eyes and tell me he loved me. “Not if you knew what I did”, my heart whispered. It was time to take the power away from this secret shame. We know that the truth will set us free and I would not spend the rest of my years living a lie with my husband, though I feared he wouldn’t be my husband much longer.

How do you find the courage and confidence to confess such a scandalous betrayal?

This is where the confidence comes from. When you live as a tortured prisoner and you see a way to escape, you take it. Even if it means you lose your right arm in the process. I might lose my husband, but at least I would be free. Free ladies! That was my courage and my confidence! I refused to let the shame rule over me. Not when Jesus stands bearing scars on behalf of my freedom! And oh the tears of relief. There is nothing like it.

I did confess to Jeff and his parents. And to my family. He moved out for 5 months. Possibly friends thought I must be a wreck as I lived alone awaiting my fate. Quite the opposite. It was before I confessed that I was a wreck and lived with a dark cloud hanging over me. But now my heart was free and alive. I was no longer a prisoner. Do you know how good that freedom feels? It sustained me when Jeff left and it steadied me as he contemplated keeping me as his wife. I knew that no matter what, I would not be destroyed. I was reminded how precious my marriage is. On the verge of losing it forever I was making a commitment to cherish it always and not mistreat it.

How is our marriage now? Stronger. And carefully protected like the precious jewel it is.

This week we have spent time talking about when we have ignored God. And this is what we have learned…

From the Woman at the Well learn that only Jesus satisfies.

From the Lost Sheep we learn how compassionate He is and how dependant we are.

From Peter we learn that no matter how we have walked away from Jesus that He still has a place for us.

And finally from The Woman Caught in Adultery we learn that when our sin threatens to separate us from the love of God, Jesus does not condemn us.

Thank you friends so much for letting me invade your inbox this week! Praying for you all to respond to God when He reaches out for you. We’ll be in touch again before we meet on the 20th.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. – Galatians 5:1

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. –John 10:10

And the peace of god, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7


Ask Like You Know I’m Going To Say Yes …and a special note from My Darling, Jeff!!

So the writer’s conference was just days away and I was still unsure if I would be able to go. Remember now that Jeff had accepted an invitation to help some family members that live 4 hours away. My child care options were running out. Even if Jeff did stay home he would still need to enlist help so the kids could be in two different places.

It came to this…I really wanted Jeff to stay home. I had lamented to him about this soon to be missed opportunity but never really actually asked him to change his plans for me. I guess I thought that he just would. I guess I thought he would just say, “Hey honey, no problem. I will call and say I can’t make it out this time. I really want you to enjoy this conference. Cheer up, we will make it work!”

But no matter how much I complained about missing this conference he did not once offer to just stay home and skip his trip. He was feeling more obligated to his relatives than to me. So now I was having a different kind of pity party…[insert crying] “My husband doesn’t value me! My husband doesn’t listen to me. And if he is listening than he just doesn’t care!!” [more loud crying].

Someone please tell me I’m not the only wife who has gone through this.

These are the thoughts that really break a wife’s heart. When she believes that her trusted protector and provider is not looking out for her and she is on her own and needs to fend for herself. That he would not forsake all others and be there for her when she needs him.

We have had many struggles in our marriage. Most of them can be related to poor communication. The message is just not getting through. Or worse, we believe a false assumption. I knew these thoughts I was having could really take me down a bitter road with my husband and my tender heart could not handle that. And I didn’t think my marriage could handle that either. I pondered my options…

1. I could choose to be bitter and quietly plot revenge.

2. I could throw a major fit; a tantrum of sorts, until I got what I wanted.

or

3. I could try again to tell my husband how I’m feeling and this time clearly explain what I want and need.

I have witnessed many women throw the dumbest fits simply because they wanted something but never actually asked for it (me being one of those of course). They were waiting for husband to just do it or give it or say it…whatever it was. They were being helpless victims. It is very cruel to blame our husbands for our unhappiness when we really did not give them a fair chance in the first place, that fair chance being an honest mature conversation.

I eat my words every time I tell my 7 year old daughter, “Fiona, you must stop freaking out and just tell us what you want. Please believe that we want to help you and always will. The world will not respond kindly to a helpless victim. Just say how you are feeling and what you want.”

Why is it so hard for her to just ask for what she wants? Does she think that I can read her brain and I’m just being cruel by not giving her what she wants? Sometimes I do know what she wants but I want her to learn that I do not respond to tantrums and fits. I respond really well to an optimistic request. I tell her …

 Daughter ask

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” -Matthew 7:7-8

So here is how it went with my Jeff. We were climbing into bed and I said,…

“Darling, you need to hear these really dumb thoughts I’m having.” I told him all reasons I didn’t think I was worth the sacrifice, money and effort of my family on my behalf.

Jeff responds, “Well those are dumb thoughts honey. But I’m just not sure how we will be able to get you there.”

“Ahhrrrg! Well it’s pretty obvious to me Darling! You need to say home!” (no, I didn’t say that. But I was thinking it!). Instead, I said…

“Would you please stay home and take care of the kids so I can go to this conference? Please call your family and tell them you can’t come because Bri has a thing”. It felt awkward. It seemed weird to have to ask this of him.

Jeff’s response – “Ok. I’ll call them. You can go.”

I was tempted to think, “He isn’t doing it right. He didn’t say it nice. He didn’t smile. It seems like he’s mad”. (Oh our poor husbands. Am I right ladies?)

He knows my love language is Words of Affirmation. If you don’t express it with words then I don’t believe you. And as you can see he uses few; and takes the shortest and most direct route. Jeff wasn’t too surprised when I said I was needing a cheerleader. I told him that asking him to stay was a big deal for me. I needed him to say some encouraging words like, “I want to stay home so you can go. I’m excited for you to go to this conference.” So I told him I was going pee and when I got back he could tell me his cheerleader thoughts. Knowing my Jeff, I wasn’t expecting much. But when I returned, I opened the bedroom door to the sound of the Nebraska Cornhusker Tunnel Walk music playing loud on the iPad…for me! I laughed so hard!  He didn’t say anything but the look on his face and his choice of “cheerleader thoughts” expressed through epic football introductory music was enough. He was cheering me on…in his own way.

And an epic battle was fought and won between my two ears. There were no victims 😉

(A Note From Jeff) As her husband and friend, my wish is for my wife to be the best she can be. But like most husbands who are used to getting in the front seat of life, I need to be told over and over and over what Briana needs. I am so good at asking for what I want, I forget to listen to my wonderful wife and what she really needs. Each person that reads this will think of ways that you have experienced something like this in your own life. If I can give a little piece of advice ladies, don’t be afraid to ask for your husband to bless you in any way he can. We live for it, we want to be your hero, but we can’t if we don’t know what burden we can carry for you. If you’re lucky, we will do it half the time.

pray with me

Dear Lord, Please help us think the best of our husbands. Speak love and patients when our hearts are freaking out. Help us guard against a victim mentality and just ask for what we need. Help us to ask with confidence and not criticize when they don’t respond the “right way”. Help us guard against quiet bitterness and obnoxious fits. Amen.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. –James 4:1-2


Restoration of home…and heart

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?

Jeremiah 32:27

I have been pleasantly packing up my little home.  Boxes filled and sealed.  Destined to be opened in a new strange place. A place that will soon be our home as we begin to fill it with our presence – for that is what home is.

The afternoon of March 29th Jeff and I set eyes on this old house for the first time.  Like some eternal nurturer always looking for a broken or wounded soul to heal, so Jeff and I tend to be that way with old broken down and tossed aside things on the brink of death.  Whether it is an old rusty bucket like the one I just resuscitated last week or a piece of furniture by the curb on trash day.  We see not the trash heap it is, but what it once was.  What it can still be.  We have a vision of “new life” for things others would put in a grave.  So it is with this old school house.

We came early that day to snoop around before our realtor arrived to unlock the house.  We enjoyed guessing the purpose of each out-building and deciding right there how we would use it.  We knelt down and prayed in the driveway. Asking the Lord to make a way for us to be the new care takers of this lonely place.  Our realtor arrives.  She struggles with the lock.  The door opens and we look, we see, we imagine…we plan.

With Jeff armed with all the capabilities of a construction crew and me (as I’m told) the patience of a saint – we know we could take on this patient.  Though dirty, violated in some areas and slightly ill equipped to shelter our family, we knew we could provide the care that was necessary to bring her back to life.

I snooped through every door.  Like a curious kid wondering where it would lead.  One door took me into the bathroom.  As my head ducked under old dusty spider webs I turned to look in the mirror. There I found a treasure.  On a yellow post-it note was a bible verse written with a woman’s hand, stuck to the mirror and left behind.

I am the Lord

I snatched it down.  Who was this woman?  Our realtor spoke of rumors of divorse.  I knew we were looking at a property in a foreclosed status.  These walls could tell of hard times for sure.  Like scanning a crime scene and trying to put the pieces together I looked for evidence that told their story.  A teenage girl once roomed here.  They had a moving sale.  Unwanted items were simply left for the next occupants.  I wondered how they were all getting along now.  Had their wounds healed? I will never know.

But I do know this – that nothing is too hard for the Lord!  The Lord explained to Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 32 that He was about to hand the city over to the Babylonians – to destroy it and burn the houses down.  His people had ignored Him and turned away from the One True God.  They were in trouble and their lives were falling apart.  The Lord allowed the Babylonians to come in and destroy it.  He intended to show them just what life would be like for them, without Him.  And it was a nightmare.  But our Good God would not allow that to be the end.

In Jeremiah 32:37-39 the Lord says that He would also restore it and bring it back to life.  “…I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them … I will bring them back to this place and let them live safely.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them…”

I have also turned from God and His tender care.  Each time, He never withheld the sure consequences of living in such disregard to His goodness and mercy.  When my life would cease to worship Him he showed me exactly where that would lead – an exile of sorts.  But He always welcomed me back when my heart returned to Him.  He would not shame me nor allow me to live in the disgrace I deserved.

This is the God that Jeff and I worship.  He loves to make things new – to breath new life into something on the brink of death.  The Lord has done that in our marriage when it was destined for the trash heap.  A bond so broken by sin and selfishness that only the Lord could bring us back with a singleness of heart and action…for our good and the good of our children.  Nothing is too hard for the Lord!

This is so much more than fixing up a house.  Anyone can come in and do what Jeff and I are doing- the painting, cleaning and repairs.  It would be all for nothing if we didn’t love the Lord.  Because He is the one that breathes the breath of life into our souls. It is His presence that makes this broken house a home!

pray with me

Oh Lord, you are so good to us. Thank you for stretching out your arm to us. Restore our hearts. Make them new. Breath life into our homes. Give us the singleness of heart and action that we long for. For our good and the good of our children. -Amen.

think with me

When have you found something or someone that you thought was beyond repair? Sometimes you see someone so ravaged by selfishness that you think there is no hope for them. Do you find it hard to have compassion and mercy for those in need of the Lord?

Take some time and think about what God has made new in your life. What has he rescued you from?

It’s one thing to put some screws into an old shaky chair. It’s an entirely different thing all together when you find a broken person.  Only God can see into their broken places and apply the healing touch of a creator.


Finders Givers

And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.  Psalm 39:7 (AMP)

Our kids have provided Jeff and I with some funny and memorable quotes.  I try to write them down before my aging memory loses them forever.  “finders givers” was one of those quotes. “You know when you find something and you say “finders keepers”.  Well, its kind of like that. Except you don’t keep it – you give it away.   Finders Givers!” they told me.  For some reason I’m inspired use this expression as the title for this post about expectations.  Maybe when you read to the end you’ll be able to make the connection also.

What kind of expectations do you have?  Always for the best, the way things should be, were meant to be…everything fair and right.

Here’s a good quote.  “An expectation is just an offence waiting to happen.”

Are you ever disappointed or offended when someone does not meet your expectations?

-Expecting my husband to be as expressive as I am.  Should he not be giving with his thoughts and feelings, especially about me?

– Reciprocation.

-I went to all this trouble and they didn’t even say thank you!

-I’m leaving this organization since I’m not getting the recognition and appreciation I deserve.

It’s easy to feel shortchanged and shafted at times like this.  Why? We expected to get something and didn’t get what we wanted.  The expectations I listed above reveal just how much I expect people to meet emotional needs. Sadly it’s also an example of giving…to get.

Here is an interesting thought.  Sometimes people do meet our expectations. Sometimes they give us what we want…and we take it, gladly.  Then since we have found a reliable “source”, we may go back to it and fill up again; like a thirsty person to a well.  But then later on we may complain that the water isn’t as cold as it once was.  Or maybe the water is dirty and we are not as happy with this “well” as we used to be.  This reveals that we are not interested in the person at all, only in what we could get from them.

So large are the demands I put on the poor souls that surround me!  My Jeff can attest to many a desperate cry from this little wife.  Give to me! Give me assurance, give me affection, give me intimacy! (Do you hear the neediness…the desperation?)

There is a still, true voice from inside me that says, “Take some time, go pray.  Only God can help you reconcile this.  Your soul cries out for something that Jeff can’t give.

“But I want him to give it to me!”

In John 4:4-26, Jesus approached an old well and there he met a woman drawing water.  In their conversation he tells her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”…

She replies, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He says, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Reading on from here we learn that this woman was very thirsty and has been trying to quench her thirst from the wrong source.  Men.  I can only imagine what her soul cried out to those men, give me affection, give me security, give me direction, and for crying out loud give me a ring!

We mistakenly expect so much out of poor human beings and expect so little from all-powerful God.  Unfortunately my attitude toward God can be that I’ll just take whatever comes from Him.  This can sound very healthy and mature.  It shows that I know He is really in control and that I am just content with what He gives me.  The sad part about this attitude is that I have no need to get too excited about asking Him for anything nor do I cry out to him in desperation.  He will just do what He will do.  This is not the relationship that my heavenly Father wants to have with me.  He wants me to ask, seek and knock.  I am convinced that there is no sweeter sound to Jesus than a desperate cry to him for help.  He wants active communication with us. Not just a passive relationship.  He has so much He wants to give me and show me, if I’ll just seek him for it instead of my husband.

And when I find my thirsty heart quenched by God’s living water, then I can give to Jeff.

pray with me

Oh Father how needy we are for You today!  Forgive me when I ignore you and look to my husband, family and friends to be what only You can be for me.  We need Your help to make us full.  Teach us to expect great things from You and let people be human so we can really give from an overflowing heart.  Amen.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.  Psalm 5:3

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. Psalm 22:5

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  Ephesians 3:20

think with me

This truth has allowed me to enjoy people more fully, and experience a truly genuine exchange and peace in my relationships.

Has God revealed to you any “wells” that don’t satisfy?

Is it a “well” that you need to walk away from?

Or does God simply want you to start coming to Him so that you can relate to this other person in a different way?