Unmerciful Daughter

“But remember you are kind and caring, don’t forget that.”

This is what I hear over and over again in some shape or form. But am I? I don’t think I am.

I went to go research the time of the flood, but really the year doesn’t matter.

We only make it to Genesis 6:6, before God regrets making us because of our wickedness and starts plans for starting the human race over.

Deuteronomy 9:14, post flood, he’s ready to annihilate his chosen people, again.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. – Isaiah 64:6

Paul tells us no one is righteous in Romans 3:10-12.

Jesus, Christ himself, even declares, no one is good, except God, in Mark 10:18

So over 2000 years later why would I think being kind and caring forgives me from anything?

It justifies nothing. I am a sinner. Nothing good lives in me (Romans 7:18).

And yet, I have been forgiven! But it’s not because I am good, because I am wretched. But it is because, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

So if He still loves me for being as vile as I am and I am saved because he forgives me, doesn’t He love and forgive my mom too?

Immediately, I am reminded of the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35.

My mom has sinned so much more against God, than she has against me, and if He can forgive her, why can’t I?

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” – Matthew 18:32-35

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me to love like you do. Help me to forgive, how you forgave me.

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I Got It!

I’ve been thinking a lot, as you know, about the relationship I have with my mom, and recently I had a new revelation.

The revelation came after a recent interaction with her.

I’m not going to get into all the details of what was said, or what happened.  I’d rather not bring it up if I don’t have to.

But I would like to fill you in on what I came up with after trying to understand what had happened.

I’ve always said, ever since the the birth of my first son, that I just didn’t feel like I had that “Mom” gene all my friends seemed to have.

My friends all seemed to have had a desire to be a mom. They loved babies even when they were stinky and messy. They enjoyed playing with their kids and didn’t seem to care if their house was in shambles. They were creative with meal time, cutting sandwiches into hearts and pancakes had smiley faces.

Okay, I know not all of my friends did this or at least not all the time but I’ve always felt I was different. I always felt like something was wrong with me. 

That something was just missing. I didn’t know what I was doing and my kids were going to suffer because of it. They were going to have a disadvantage because of it, and I felt remorse for it, even before any evidence was collected to show it.

But the revelation that recently came to me and I feel is SO important that I need to share it with everyone, is…

MAYBE THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!

Maybe, just maybe, it was my mom who was born without the “Mom” gene I felt I’ve been missing.

In fact not only does my mom not have the “Mom”gene but that I REALLY DO HAVE IT! I just didn’t know what it looked like or how it worked.

But that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. I was born with that instinct moms have for their kids. I just didn’t know how to express it.

I love my kids. There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for them. I would never intentionally hurt them. I would never take from them. My life’s desire is to push them into being the best people they can be.

THAT’S THE “MOM” GENE!

It’s true, some moms don’t have it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not me. And my kids are not at a disadvantage because of it.

So now when I have to interact with her I don’t need to go into the relationship wondering, “What’s wrong with me, that she treat me like this?” But instead, “It’s not that there is something wrong with me, but that there’s something missing in her.”

Oh my gosh, all these years of feeling like a bad daughter. Feeling like I deserve to be treated badly, because why else would she treat me so badly. Of feeling insignificant. Always trying to impress her. Always looking to be her beloved. Wanting to be worthy, worthy of a mother’s love.

I get it now!

Actually, I’ve always had it!

The Thorn I Can’t Bare

Recently I put a plea out on Facebook, looking for help.

“I am on a mission and I need someone’s help. I’m looking for a program that teaches how to have a positive body image to teen girls.

I don’t have one myself, so there is no possible way that I can teach this to my daughter.

So I need help. Anyone know of a program, or have any suggestions?”

I think some people may not have understood what I’m looking for.

I’m not looking for leadership skills, or self-worth seminars.

I’m looking for something where my daughter can learn to look in a mirror, and be happy with what she sees.

Yes, I absolutely believe the best thing for her, is to work on this myself. I completely agree.  But the fact of the matter is, I’ve struggled with this since I was in the fourth grade. I haven’t figured it out yet and in the mean time, I’m teaching my daughter what I don’t want her to learn. I don’t know how not to do that, and I don’t want to do that.

I have more confidence in myself now, than I have ever had my entire life. But all I have to do, is look in a mirror, or even worse, see a picture of myself, and I become nothing.

What’s worse than nothing? I become that. It hurts.

I have been in verbally and emotionally abusive relationships, but no one has beat me up more than myself.

It does not matter if I lose weight. In fact, it makes it worse. When I do, and I always do, I start to taunt myself.

– You think you look good, don’t you. Well just wait. Wait a year, maybe two, then let’s see how good you look. Why are you doing this to yourself? You’re a fat girl. You’ll always be a fat girl.

What the hell is wrong with being a fat girl?

Why can’t I be happy with being myself, the shape I am now?

I understand the health risks that come with obesity, really I do. But I can also assure you when I look at a picture of myself, I’m not thinking, “Oh my, you look like a diabetic.”

That’s not what fills my head with dread.

– You’re gross. You’re disgusting. Have you no self-control? How lazy you’ve become.

I stand here and tell my daughter she’s beautiful and she’s not fat. She’s 11. Of course she’s not fat.

But then what? What do I tell her if a day does come that she does start to gain weight?

– You’re not fat. You’re beautiful. I’m not, but you are.

Here I am losing weight, gaining weight, eating, not eating. Crying, not crying.

I DON’T WANT THAT FOR HER!
I don’t want to teach her that, consciously or unconsciously.

God, help me!

Surely, there has got to be an answer out there somewhere.

I’m wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

Beautiful is fleeting. (Proverbs 31:30)

I can totally understand and appreciate that God’s grace is enough. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I have accepted that this is the thorn that is meant to bring me to my knees before God until the day I die. I’m okay with that.

But not for my daughter.

I can’t pass this on to her. Not this.

I am so intentional about teaching her many things, but this I can’t control.

So I’m here, on my knees asking,

God, save my daughter from this. The pain is too great for me. I don’t think I can bare it.

My Daughter’s Holey Heart

I’ve never kept from her the relationship I had with her dad.

When she asks me questions, I’ve always answered her as honestly as I could and I’ve never told her I didn’t want to talk about it.

Mike came into our lives when she was two. She’s always known he wasn’t her real dad.

She was so jealous of Smart and would ask Mike if she could call him dad too. We always told her no.

That is until we got married. She was five then.

Oh, she was so stinkin’ excited to celebrate that first Father’s Day with him!

I was surprised how much it meant to her.

Years ago, my mom had made me a scrapbook of the kids. Oh my gosh, they were so little.

But imagine my surprise when I flipped a page to see a picture of me and Butterfly’s dad, together.

Then imagine what it was like to have my daughter sitting next to me, asking who he was.

She’s asked to see that scrapbook several times over the years. I know why she wants to look at it. Sometimes I get it down for her. Sometimes I don’t.

Today was one of those days. It was funny, she ran into my closet and pulled it from my top shelf before I could even get in there.

I didn’t realized she had become tall enough to grab it without a chair, and because she knew exactly where it was, and I didn’t, made me think she’s gotten it down herself before.

She entertained me by starting at the beginning and pointing out each of her brother’s as she turned the page.

She finally turned to the page that held the only picture I have of him.

I don’t even remember the questions she asked, but suddenly I found myself telling her he’s in prison.

She was shocked to have learned I had googled him.

“You can do that?”

Yes, you can, and I found him.

Even after all these years, I still fear him showing up in our lives.

He was a master manipulator, and at one time in my life had taken everything I had.

I wanted to know where he’s at.

My fear was he would take her one day too. Not necessarily, physically, but definitely emotionally. My fear is one day, when she’s 25 he will walk into her life and take her for everything she has, with guilt and shame to the point where she feels trapped, just like I did.

Immediately she had wanted to know what he had done, was he in Arizona, and finally…

Can she see him?

Ahh…

Hadn’t quite planned on that.

My daughter asked me if I thought it was weird that she wanted to know about her dad.

I told her I didn’t.

But I didn’t understand why she wanted to see him.

“Honey, you have tons of people who love you. People, who never would have been in our lives if we hadn’t gotten away from him. Our lives would be so different. Why would you want to see him?”

Tears welled up in her eyes, as she told me with a seriousness I was not accustomed to hearing from my ten year old,

I know I have lots of people who love me. But I NEED this one to love me. He doesn’t even know me.

Well there it was.

A need I can’t fill. A need he won’t be able to fill.

That desire for something more.

We all have it. It looks different with everyone. But we all carry that hole in our hearts that can only be filled by God. And yet, like everyone else, thinks it can be filled by something else.

In her case, it’s knowing her dad. If it wasn’t that, it might be if she was only thinner, or more outgoing, or if she had a boyfriend, or if she was married, or if she had children, or if she just had…

…then she’d be happy.

And so her journey is about to start.

I told her I didn’t know which prison he’s in. If he’s even in Arizona. I did tell her if something revealed itself, and that information became available, then I would take her to meet him.

But in order for that to happen, she needs to start learning about Boundaries, and what and who she is responsible for, and what she’s not.

If this is going to happen, I want her to be protected, and prepared. But honestly by showing her now; by teaching her about how God made her and what is hers and what is not, is the best defense I could give her not on only against her dad, but also against anyone else who tries to fill that hole for her.

So, I will choose not to pass my fear unto her, but will empower her by sharing my faith in the only one who can fill her soul.

Lord, I lift my daughter up to you. I understand that hole my daughter is feeling. I understand that feeling of something missing from her life. We are all born with that deep desire for more. Lord, I pray she searchers you more. I pray she studies how you’ve designed her and realizes how much love and value you’ve put into her and she is worth being protected. She is worth fighting for. So much so, that when other people or things try to fill that hole, she immediately recognizes they are not making her hole smaller, but actually making it bigger. Lord, you are the only thing that can satisfy our deepest desires and fill our holey heart. Equip me to help her know that too.

In your Son’s holy name, please protect us, AMEN.

Yay Day!

It was three years ago, when my then seven year old daughter informed me she wanted to celebrate Yay Day. She had been watching one of her favorite TV programs.

Having no idea what she was talking about, I agreed to the celebration thinking it was something she was quickly going to forget.

However, a few days later, she brought me a colored poster she had designed that showed July 24th as Yay Day.

I looked at my husband and whispered, “Oh crap! She’s really expecting us to do something on July 24th!”

So, having absolutely no idea what Yay Day was, or what we were going to do, I started with at least requesting that day off from work.

When I asked her how we were suppose to celebrate it, she looked at me as if I was being ridiculous and should have already known, “With our friends!”

Oh great, I thought. Not only am I suppose to figure out how to celebrate Yay Day, I need to somehow convince our friends this is a good idea, and they should too.

So, this is how it started.

And this is what it has become.

Yay Day is an unadulterated holiday that celebrates people not things. There are no fancy gifts to buy or expensive decorations to put up. No retail promotions that quickly turn a nice gesture into a financial burden. Or high expectations to turn its value into hollow meaning.

It comes with hats made out of paper plates, a couple of boxes of cookies and a Yay Day picture frame we make out of foam board.

We then load up our suv with a slew full of kids, a list of friends names and we head out looking to spread cheer and love to our friends, family, and quite frankly, anyone who will let us.

This includes the ladies at Circle K, where we always stop first thing to pick up doughnuts and drinks for breakfast.

But if also includes the staff at whichever fast food joint we swing by for lunch.

Sometimes, we even reach out to total strangers. There have been a time or two, where we’ve run into someone down on their luck at intersections or street corners, where we’ve wanted to share what we have with them; a cookie, a hat and a little Yay! Ok, maybe not the hat, sometimes that gets weird.

But otherwise we hit up our friends, whether they be at home or at work. Work is always fun, because we get to celebrate with other people we weren’t expecting and we leave with them thinking their coworkers are a little bit weirder than they originally thought.

People often ask me why I do this? Quite simply, I want to share my daughter’s love for life. People are important to her. She could care less about things; she is more interested in relationships. We could lose everything we own, and I know she would be fine as long as we had people who love us.

She cares about feelings and attitudes. She cares about touching each other and sharing what we have. She cares. It’s plain and simple.

And it’s about fun. It’s about being silly. It’s about taking a break from this harsh world we live in and just loosen up. For us, it’s the whole day. For most is just 15 minutes.

Let us all stop for just 15 minutes a day to welcome a friendly face, share a cookie together, and take a picture in remembrance of this one moment in time where the world stopped turning, and love was waiting there.

Yay Day is a day of gratitude. It is a day we have set aside to show people we are happy they are in our lives and that their life is important.

They bring us joy and we hope that whatever they are going through in that moment, on that single day of July 24th, that they can pause for a moment with us and celebrate the Yay!

Do you know? Do you know? DO YOU KNOW what our friends do to this momma’s heart every time they invite us to celebrate with them? Whether it be an invite to their house, or work, or a picture of them celebrating Yay Day on their social media because they live in another state; my whole heart SWELLS!

Yay Day for me is the celebration of my daughter,  and when I see people celebrating with her I just feel this explosion of love grow from her and I’m lucky because some of it splashes all over me.

I hope you will consider celebrating Yay Day with us by inviting us to your home, or sending us a picture of how you celebrate the Yay.

In light of everything that is going on in the world around us, I’d say, Yay Day is coming not a moment too soon.

YAY!

Summer Read

So, I’m so excited I got my little girl into reading! Finally!

She’s hates to read, or so she says. I just think she hasn’t found the type of books she’s into, yet.

Today, she followed me around the house, just getting into everything I was trying to do, while she was trying to entertain herself.

It wasn’t working. This is going to be another long summer!

Last year I tried to get her interested in learning Spanish. I found some workbooks for her that she flew through, so I also dug out my computer based Spanish program thinking, Ha! score! But no.

It kept her busy for about a minute. She lost interest quickly.

So today, while tripping over her, I asked if she would like me to take her to the library to pick out a book. She’s older, you know.

Well, she was super excited, so imagine my surprise when once we get there, she tells me she doesn’t like to read.

She doesn’t like to read…like that’s even a thing. She knows she’s my daughter right? She can’t possibly be serious. I read books like I drink water. I love books.

After fighting with her for what seemed like forever, I finally had to pick a book I thought she would enjoy. She was being less than helpful.

We had one of her brothers with us too. Yeah, he didn’t help. The entire time I’m trying to convince her to even consider reading something, he’s in the background whispering, “Just hit her.” And she’s responding in a not so whispering voice, ‘Grow up and get your own kids to beat. ”

A lovely day at the library, I must say.

After grabbing something I thought she might like, I quickly escorted my two loving offsprings out the door and booked it home.

Why did she even want to go to the library in the first place? I don’t know. I stopped asking.

While continuing our argument in the car, I inform her that she needs to read at least a chapter a day. And if she doesn’t read it, we will be reading it together every night.

While sitting at stop lights, I start to read her chapter one. Her brother tries to convince her she’d like the book if she’d give it a chance.

“Oh, how do you even know?”

“Because it’s about the same crap you watch on TV!”

Still not helping, but thank you… I think.

We stop by a Circle K so Justice could buy himself a soda, and I have a captive audience, so I continued reading.

We get home with only two pages left in chapter one.

“Two more pages, Butterfly. You only need to read two more pages tonight, before bed.”

Well, just as I’m about to head for my room for the evening, I remember the book. Crap.

I turn the TV off so I may finish reading it to her and get to bed and NOW she wants to read it…

Out loud….

To me.

So, I’m not sure if she really wanted to read it, or she just wanted to read it out loud, to me to put off me getting to bed.

I compromised with her. I read a page, then she did.

Well, somehow I got hustled into us reading not only to the end of chapter one, but all of CHAPTER TWO AS WELL!

We really did have a good time reading together. I wish it was a little earlier in the evening, but by the end, she made us read the last page of the chapter together.

It was great. She is actually getting into it!

Oh how great it would be to find her something to do all summer! Bonus if we can do it together!

I am encouraged. Maybe there is hope still for a little girl who claims she hates reading.

AND for a little girl who has a crush on Charlie. We’ll learn more about that, tomorrow in chapter three!

That Little Girl

I recently finished a six week workshop at a local church, called Growing In God’s Truth: Spirit, Soul and Body.

I learned lots of good stuff, but upon realizing we had hit our last night, I really felt I was missing something. I mean, lots of things were clicking for me but I felt the class just wasn’t complete. I needed more.

One of the last things one of our instructors left us with was, what is your self-talk saying? What are the lies you are telling yourself?

During class, I just ignored the question. I didn’t feel she was talking to me because I’ve already done my self examination and worked through all the false messages I heard growing up.

If given a minute I could give you the exact day of when I developed a weight issue. I know now what I thought then, was not truth. Seriously, not an issue anymore.

I’ve struggled with and came to terms with understanding my childhood was over sexualized and watching what you eat and exercising is living a healthy lifestyle, not a ploy for sex.

I’ve also learned the dirty thoughts that infiltrated mens’ minds while I was growing up was not my issue, but theirs.

See, I’ve done my homework. So what am I missing?

She also encouraged us to ask God what we are suppose to look like. How does he see us? Ask him to show you.

Tonight, as I was on my walk I decided to bring it up. I really didn’t have any idea of how I’m suppose to look like.

Now I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been on this journey before. I’ve lost a totally of 60lbs, only to put 56 of it back on.

But as I was on my walk tonight, I kept thinking of a picture I remember someone tagging me in on Facebook. I was helping someone out by serving at their block party. I wasn’t at my goal weight yet, but I felt good.

It was the first picture of myself that I can remember looking at and thinking, wow, that’s me. It was the first picture ever, that I can remember not feeling shame, guilt, or embarrassment.

It lasted for about a second.

My next immediate thought was, so you think you’re great, don’t you? You’re not all that great. In fact, give yourself a couple of years and let’s see were you’re at.

Tonight, I replayed that whole inner, interaction in my head.

One of the things I learned during my recovery and healing from who I was, and who I had become, I had learned a theory (that you may or may not agree with) that when something traumatic happens to you as a child, a part of you is stunted. Emotionally stunted, so in order to heal you have to identify that child within you and walk her through the traumatic event. Telling her what was truth and what was lies. Explaining what she didn’t understand. Helping her understand it wasn’t her fault.

I had thought I had already done that. I thought I had already identified all the little Kim’s inside of me and made her feel safe.

But tonight, as I was reliving this moment in time with the picture, I thought to myself, why are you so mean? I felt good about myself. Why did you have to ruin it? Who are you, and why are you just so mean?

Maybe I have one more little Kim to deal with. But who is she? Where did she come from? And what is her problem?

Another thing I’ve learned in my recovery, is hurt people, hurt. So I went through the process of trying to understand why she is so hurt.

God didn’t reveal much to me about this hurt inside of me or where it came from at that time, but as soon as I walked in the front door, my daughter pulled me down the hall for a talk and to hear a message from God.

A message, I was to give to my daughter, through me, to her, but was for me. Oh my gosh, God is so crazy like that.

She went on about not fitting in at school and how she was trying really hard at but she didn’t feel like she was doing very well and she’s just not good at some things…. when I stopped her.

Stop saying you’re not good at things. Stop saying you can’t do something. You need to stop, because every time you say something like that, there is a little part of you, inside, saying, “I can do it! Just let me try! If you let me practice, I know I can do it!” and if you never let her try, she’s gonna stop trying. Don’t do that.

As the words started pouring out of my mouth, I started apologizing to that little Kim inside of me.

I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you. I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you try. I’m sorry I gave up on you. I’m sorry I didn’t have faith.

Dear Heavenly Father, I know this little girl I’ve stunted inside of me is really you. I have told you no, for so long. I’ve stopped listening to you. I’ve stopped believing that you have a plan for me and have let fear rob me of it. Lord, I ask that you heal me once again. Remove the lies that tell me I’m unworthy, that I’m not worth it, that I am all that I have become. Restore my faith, Lord. Restore my faith, that exceeds my understanding.