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!

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Juicy Gossip

“Let’s do lunch today. I’ve got to tell you what so and so did…”

“Well that’s not what I heard…”

These statements here represent small examples of a gossip trap. There is also the delightful magazine headlines at the grocery checkout. Why do I love to read silly headlines about celebrities?! As damaging as gossip is, it still sells. It’s juicy and delicious and people want it. Says so in the bible…

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts –Proverbs 26:22

Our Elmwood ladies gathered on August 3rd to bring the topic of Gossip into the light of God’s word.   Here’s a recap…

1) Gossip reveals a desire for Power and Influence

There is a certain amount of satisfaction that we get when we know something that few people know. How wonderful it feels to be included. To be important enough to know. It’s hard to keep that to ourselves. We want all our friends to know just how important we are. “Let me tell you how it all went down. Step right up and get the facts here… or at least what my friend told me.”

We like to be the informant of people’s life events, some of which are private. At the heart of this mess of gossip is a prideful arrogance and desperate need of importance.   I confess to feeling the rush of being part of the gossip. Being “in the know” feels good. I have felt like one of the cool girls in an inner circle of social knowledge. I have also been consumed by these experiences too. If you were ever wondering where you can find drama’s address, it’s here on Gossip St.   Who knows what, who said what exactly and how did it get twisted. Whose feelings are hurt and who is the jerk. At this age I can still feel left out if I wasn’t invited or told or included but many times I see that all I missed out on was a lot of drama and nonsense. This is real ladies and I pray that you and me can recognize this tendency in our relationships and commit to start finding our ego strength in the God who made us uniquely important for His own special purposes.

2) Gossip is Divisive

A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. –Proverbs 16:28 

I’ve witnessed families and friendships torn apart by someone spreading negative ideas and information about a person. Pitting siblings against one another. Driving wedges between spouses. Creating dissention in the ranks at the workplace and planting seeds of doubt. It comes to us naturally. We get mad and we want to vent. We want to draw others to us and away from the offender. Have you ever been offended by someone, had a misunderstanding of sorts? Then in a socially weak moment just rant on about what that person did, forever singeing this negative information in the minds of your hearers. Never mind that you got over it a week later. The gossip lives on. Like trying to put feathers back on a plucked chicken on a windy day, so you will never be able to fix the far reaches of damaging words. I like to think that most people are very smart and will say to themselves, “You know, that does sound pretty bad. But despite this unfortunate news, I’m not going to let it jade my opinions about the other.” But many are not. It is here that we would all be better off to just speak openly with the person we have an issue with, not talk to everybody else about them.

Answer this: Do you think a person would be more upset if you came to speak to them about the problem directly or if they found out that you spoke to everybody else about it?

So what can we do?

A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. –Proverbs 11:13

When a friend comes to you with damaging news about someone. Take it as they are looking for advice on how to handle it. Or that they just need to take a load off. Then let it stop with you. Say that you will pray about this. Handle it vertically with God. Not horizontally by telling more people about it.

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. –Proverbs 26:20

I have been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books to my kids. Laura quotes her mothers wisdom…“Least said soonest mended”. A testament to Proverbs 26:20.

Even truthful words can be damaging so choose wisely where and when you use them. Here’s another great Caroline Ingalls quote.

Caroline Ingalls

So we watch what we say and to whom.

We encourage our kids to think the best of one another. We use our words to unite, not cause division. As women, sisters, mothers, grandmothers and aunts we have such an incredible influence. We are in such a prime situation to bring our families together. Yet many times we do the opposite. We don’t think the best about others, we assume the worst. Without addressing the issue directly we assume they meant to hurt. Women ALL OF US struggle with this issue so much. It is here in this dark underworld of gossip that we need to be women who shine the light of understanding. Who walk away from that juicy morsel knowing that it is laced with heartache.

Lets take Hebrews 10:24 to heart today…”And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Lets love one another they way our Savior does. Let’s do our best to put others in the best light.

Assignment: When is the last time you gave a grown woman a compliment. A sincere complement. Do this. Tell her what you notice about her and how great it is. Watch her. She may look down bashfully. That’s only because it’s been a while since someone noticed her. She may brighten…and the whole room will brighten with her!

Eleanor Rosevelt

God bless you ladies! I will see you tomorrow night (Mon. the 24th) at Alicia’s house!  Well talk about difficulties following our husband’s leadership.


The Hoarder And Her Can: a mom’s lesson in worth and potential.

A month ago I was watching an episode of Hoarders: Collection (um yah, sometimes it’s the only thing that motivates me to clean my house) and my ears perked up during a conversation a counselor was having with a client on her porch. He brings out a bag full of empty cans from her house and sits down with her and her adult daughter.

The counselor asks her, “So what’s your thoughts about the cans?”

hoarder: “I see potential in everything. Lots of things you could do with tin snips, make flowers, all kinds of crafts…”

counselor: “Well you said you see potential in everything except yourself.”

hoarder: “Well I’m too old for potential anymore.”

counselor: “So theoretically this can has more potential than you.”

She nods and looks down.

Now I understand that the hopeless condition of this woman’s soul is a product of a painful abusive marriage that ended 20 years ago. My beautiful life cannot compare to her pain and loss but there was a part of me that could relate with what her counselor was getting at. I myself had just recently questioned my own worth and potential.

A friend told me about a writer’s conference called Jumping Tandem. I wanted to go so bad and I really needed to go. Seemed like it might actually work out until my husband said that he accepted an invitation to help some family members four hours away. Grandma and grandpa would be on vacation in Mexico. Fiona would need to go to a birthday party and Tony would have a baseball game. Who would watch my kids that needed to be in two different places at once! This was a logistical nightmare! And of all weekends why must it be this one?

My thoughts turn to…

“Looks like I’m staying home to hold everything together, like always, (very dramatically) and always will.

It gets worse though. Check out these other pity party thoughts I was entertaining…

“Serves me right, though. I don’t generate any income for our family so why should I spend it on improving me.”

“The family four hours away has a much more noble cause so why shouldn’t Jeff go help them.”

“Don’t be so selfish Bri”

But my heart was crying out! …”I’m home all the time! Everything I do is for the advancement of my husband and kids. Just this once I want to go and invest in me. Seriously my time away would amount to less than 24hours. Can’t I have that Lord? Am I being so selfish in wanting this?”

Then I thought of the hoarder and her can. And I thought of all the potential I see in my dear friends. If they ever came to me with such lies and an invitation to a pity party I would immediately tell them to stop it and do what ever it took to go to that conference. I knew I had much more potential than trash. My dreams, desires and talents are always worth fighting for. Pursuing dreams will usually be inconvenient on some level. Inconvenient for me and my family.

I felt like the Lord was saying, “Well how bad do you want this Bri, ’cause I’m not going to make it easy for you. Do you think it’s worth all this. Are you worth all this? Do you believe you are worth investing in?

The hoarder refused to have a vision for her life. I knew that I didn’t want to get stuck in that kind of self-depreciating rut – I wanted to get in my groove!

Ok you moms, how many times have you had those same thoughts?

…”Husbands and kid needs come first all the time. How could I ever ask them to bend over backwards on my behalf?”

Well picture yourself 40 years in the future and hearing the same words that our hoarder’s daughter told the counselor “It’s hard to hear my own mom say that there is more potential in a something that is trash than there is in her.”

I do believe that our kids and husbands take great pride in watching us pursue impossible dreams. Have you ever stopped to wonder that just maybe they would love to bend over backwards on your behalf the same way you love to do it for them? Seriously, we only need to ask. But we won’t ask if deep down we don’t think we are worth it.

The Lord was not making this weekend event difficult so as to cruelly dangle some unattainable fruit in my face. He really wanted me to see that I was worth fighting for. I think The Lord wanted my husband and kids to see me fighting for this dream too. I think He smiled in relief when I decided that I was. After all, He paid so much for me. With His very life He told me how much I was worth.

 -Here’s A Good Word-

Twice Paul encouraged Timothy to pursue his talents and invest in himself.

Do not neglect your gift…. -1 Timothy 4:14

…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… -2 Timothy 1:6

-Your Thoughts-

What are some dangers of having that pity party in front of your husband and kids?

I would never want my kids or husband to feel like they were the reason I never did the things I always wanted to.

Tell me about a time that the Lord did not make it come easy, whatever it was.

Is it easier for you to invest family resources into every member of the family except you? Why?

Tomorrow… I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Was I able to get it together to go to the JumpingTandem conference? How hard would I have to fight for this… and a special message from My Darling (husband Jeff)


Stop Picking That Scab!

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   –Psalm 147:3

I’m a picker. It is not uncommon to see me hovered over any of my family members looking for a pimple to pop.   Evolutionist could try to use me as evidence that we evolved from monkeys! My dear Fiona has inherited her mom’s grooming habits. She loves to pick off her rough, scaly scabs. And when she does they start bleeding all over again, exposing a wound that has not fully healed. I have warned her so many times…

“Fiona, if you don’t leave that alone it will never heal. The scab helps it heal and every time you pick it open you have to start that healing process over.”

Sometimes I am so struck by the things that come out of my mouth to my kids.

You see, I can get to picking at scabs too. Not the kind of road rash scabs from falling off a scooter but the kind of scabs from hurt feelings.   A cut from some harsh words. Or the scrape of a cold shoulder. A bruise of betrayal.

It’s good to talk things out. We need to process painful events, get things off our chest. We forgive. And then we live.

But later on something reminds us and we look down and see the scab. We get to thinking about how it got there. Then we start talking about it, reliving a painful event that has left a mark on our heart and mind exposing a wound that had not fully healed and the blood beings to ooze out again.

Wait, I thought I had settled this issue! I thought I had already resolved this! Why am I reliving this all over again? That was so long ago…

Its time to apply some more balm, cover it and give it some more time. Soon the scab forms again and the wound can begin to heal back. My little girl is learning to leave her scabs alone and let her body do its thing. I remind her…

“Honey, the more you pick on that scab the worse the scar will be.”

 …Next time a word about scars.

Allow these scriptures to encourage you

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:18-19

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth…” -Isaiah 54:4

…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. -Philippians 3:13

think with me

Here is a new word I learned… recrudesce (re-kroo-des´) v. – to become raw again, worse, bloody.

So here’s to not rehashing past events. Here’s to not dragging people through “court” again after the matter has been settled. And here is to making new memories!

pray with me

Dear Lord, we are so thankful that you hear our cries when we are hurting. Please help us leave our “scabs” alone so that they can heal.  Let the healing balm of forgiveness cover over anything that we scrape off.  Help us to be understanding to other peoples wounds and always encourage them toward healing and not scaring. In Your Name we pray Lord Jesus – Amen.

 


Do You Hear What I Hear?

I love all the sparkle and glitter of Christmas time.  My tree is up ASAP after Thanksgiving.  Bringing out the special decorations that have been in the basement for a year is such an event for my kids ages 6 and 7.  I love the mistletoe.  I love my nativity set with the baby Jesus that comes out of the manger.  He is no bigger than an almond.  Christmas with kids is just so much fun!  I remember when I was a young girl and I would sneak down from my bedroom at night.  It was so silent and still and the glow from the Christmas tree just warmed my heart.  I would sit on the couch and watch and listen.  I knew that Santa Claus wasn’t real but I loved the thought of a jolly caring man coming into my house to leave presents for my siblings and me.  It made me feel special that someone I didn’t even know would be so kind.

Now I have kids of my own.  Jeff and I have always explained that Christmas is a celebration of our Savior coming to live with us, being born as a baby.  We also talked to them about Santa Claus.  We explained that Santa is a mythical character that is based on a man from long ago who was very kind to those in need.  He is a very nice man, but not real.  Even with all our efforts to teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas they are still prone to want this fantasy!  Other dear mother friends of mine tell me that even after all their efforts to educate their children the kids have suggested that they leave cookies out on Christmas Eve just to see what happens.   Kids want to believe!

Santa seems to be a permanent part of the American culture so it is necessary to talk about him.  There are many Christmas movies that try so hard to convince young kids that they should believe in Santa Claus.  They are touching, inspiring and full of hope in a man that is not real.

My son loves trains so we have the movie The Polar Express.  A wonderfully computer animated movie staring Tom Hanks.  A magical train stops at the homes of “doubting” children; some doubting the existence of Santa, some doubting themselves.  One by one the kids get on board and have a thrilling ride on this train headed for the North Pole so they can see Santa.  An adventure filled with tiny miracles along the way all giving evidence to the magic that makes Santa possible.  Oh their faces when they finally get to the North Pole!  The elves are real!  The reindeer are real!  Time does not exist! All doubts about how those millions of presents would ever fit on the sleigh and how in the world could Santa deliver all those packages in just one night are suddenly gone as they witness the magic that makes it all happen.   A special boy gets the first present of Christmas handed from Santa himself – a bell from Santa’s sleigh!  It has the most beautiful ring!  After returning home he and his sister listen to the bell together.  Sadly, his parents could not hear the bell ring, (obviously because they don’t “believe”).

This movie made me think about some doubters I know.  How could the bible be real?  How could God make the entire universe in just 7 days?  How could all those animals fit on that boat?  How do we know if there really is a place called Heaven, or hell for that matter? How could a baby be born to a virgin? Was she artificially inseminated?  – well, sort of.  Did dead Jesus really get up and walk out of the tomb with out a scratch on him?  – well, only a couple scars.

Our train is life and we are on our way to eternity.  Some of us have witnessed miracles, answers to prayer all pointing to evidence of God’s power, love and existence.  And oh our faces when this earthly life stops and we arrive in eternity!  “It’s real!” we’ll say with joy when we finally see our Gift with our own eyes. The Gift we held in our hearts all this long ride – Jesus Christ himself!  Or the terror when we realize that we declined the gift over and over again, because as we can now clearly see… it is real.  We won’t see Tom Hanks punching our golden ticket as we enter eternity.  We will see The Lord and he will look for one thing, the blood of His Son.

I want my kids to know that Christmas is not about doubting if Santa Claus is real.  Christmas is about understanding the reality of heaven, what it cost to get us there, and that Jesus is the one wearing a red robe.  (Read Revelation 19:13)

Christmas is not the happy feeling knowing that even the poor kids get a Christmas present. It is the peace and security knowing that every person has been given a gift – the gift of life, the gift of reality, no longer this pointless existence, but purpose, and knowing that you have a place.  I want my kids, family and friends to all believe…  and hear what my ears hear.

In your Christian home, what do you tell your kids about Santa Claus?

(sounds like a teen awareness commercial – “Talk to your teen about drugs, or someone else will.”… “Talk to your child about Santa, or someone else will”)

Santa is not a bad guy and yes, a temporal trinket can soften a heart to the real meaning of why we celebrate Christmas.  All good things, but do you have a hard time with cultural traditions that steal attention from our Savior?


Finder of Lost Things

So I’m taking my son Tony to school late on Monday morning and I have his little sister Fiona with me.  The tardiness was intentional – we had late nights and early mornings this weekend and he really needed the extra sleep.  I knew his teacher would thank me.  Fiona, my pre-schooler, walks down the hallway with us to Tony’s kindergarten classroom and is carrying her show-and-tell toy; a small doll with matching cradle that has a small purple mobile hanging on it -very cute.  Once Tony is settled in his kindergarten class, Fiona and I walk back down the long hallway, out the door and into our car.  Then we drive to pick up one of her pre-school classmates before taking them both to pre-school.

Soon we are in the pre-school parking lot and the two giggly girls pile out of the car. Presently, Fiona cries out in distress, “Mommy! The mobile is gone!”  Yes, her sweet mobile hangs very loosely over the small toy cradle. It must have dropped off during our travels this morning. It is dainty plastic, lavender in color and is about the size of a quarter.  I tell my daughter with confidence, “Hey Sis, don’t worry. Mom will find it.”  After Fiona and friend are settled in their pre-school classroom, I walk back to my car murmuring to myself, “I can’t believe I’m going back to search for this tiny piece of plastic.”  But I smile because that is what moms do, especially this mom. You see, I’m The Finder of Lost Things.  My family has given me this nick name.  I remember digging through the big dumpster at Amigos in college because I accidentally threw my small clear plastic retainer away – I found it, in the dark.  That happened a few other times.  I’ve searched my neighborhood for my small, sly Rat Terrier appropriately named Fox.  Missing keys, trinkets, legos, tools, shoes, toys – you name it, my family knows I’ll find it.  My OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) helps tremendously when it comes to keeping track of inventory! Many times I’m more excited to find the “lost thing” than anybody else.  I want the set complete, all the pieces to the puzzle, and every penny accounted for in my ledger.  This OCD clearly has it’s benefits. But to go find an insignificant piece of plastic for my daughter is much more than OCD.  It is my daughters love for the plastic accessory that makes it valuable.

When ever I’m looking hard for something I always think of The Parable of the Lost Coin from Luke 15:8-10.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.  Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?”

I am that lady!

“And when she finds it she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Read Luke 15:1-7 to get an even better idea of what Jesus does when he finds someone who was wandering off.  He uses the example of a shepherd who leaves his whole flock to find the one sheep.  And oh the scolding that the shepherd gives the sheep once he finds him.  He smacks him with his staff all the way home. Then he makes an example of the sheep and shames him in front of the whole flock. Hey wait a second, that’s not how His story goes!  No just the opposite, the shepherd “joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” Then he gathers everyone together to honor the found sheep.

Praise God that he seeks us out when we wander off.  Life can be hard on a lost sheep.  All sorts of danger is out there when we are not staying close to our Shepherd. He searches and even puts people in our path to guide us back. He puts up road blocks that will force us to turn around and take the way back home.  Though we may think, “I’m just one little coin, or just one of a hundred other sheep, who is going to notice me?” This attitude makes it really easy to go off the path.  Sometime we want to see what we can get away with. Sometimes we want to get lost.  But our Shepherd is a good parent who loves us too much to see us go the wrong way. He sees our value.  All of His effort to find us and bring us gently home is worth it – and everyone in heaven hears about it!

pray with me

Dear Lord, I am so glad you are my Shepherd. Thank you for finding me whenever I wander off from your leadership and protection.  Sometimes I do not think I am worth very much but clearly Your words in Luke 15 tell me that I am very valuable to You!  Please help me to look at myself through Your eyes.  Grant me the blessing of a repentant and steadfast heart when I do wander away.  And then bless my humble heart to hear the praises of heaven and feel Your smile upon my soul. Amen.

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176

Oh, I did find the small plastic accessory for Fiona.  It was in the hallway of Tony’s school.  Did you doubt my nick name!?