4 Lies The Barren Woman Believes–Part 2

Lie 2 Not a woman

Today, I am sharing Lie#2 of the “4 Lies The Barren Woman Believes” mini-series. See my last post, for Lie #1 if you missed it. And may the Truth set you free!

Lie #2:  You are not a woman. You won’t know the fullness of “womanhood” until you birth a child. And your husband won’t see you as a woman until you bear his children.

Truth: This is a BIG UGLY lie. And yet it is pervasive. It’s quiet. It’s (hopefully) not something anyone has ever said out loud to you—but it’s something that’s felt in your heart of hearts. Maybe during those sappy Mother’s Day commercials, or Ads for diapers. But it’s false.

You are a woman. First of all, your womanhood was determined by God, before you were born. (I know this is something our culture is slowly losing touch with.) But our genders are chosen, and breathed out, and spoken by the Living God. The Living God who says, “When I act, who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13b NIV)

And God didn’t just speak “XX chromosome” over you.

He spoke your real name. And He spoke, “Daughter.”

He saw you as precious.

You are a Daughter. Maybe it’s been a long time since you have heard Him speak, “Daughter” over you, or felt His smile over you. But I pray, you hear it again, you feel it again, or for the very first time.

Daughter. Beloved of God. Beautiful one. Precious girl. In whom My soul delights.

You are “Daughter.” No matter what you do, or don’t “produce” in this life. Becoming a “Mom” is an incredible gift—but it doesn’t make you any more female. You are wholly a daughter before becoming a Mom, and wholly a daughter after.

Bearing Children Does Not Make You More Of A Woman. And p.s. (Spoiler Alert!) Having become a mother myself, I’m just going to say: going through childbirth doesn’t make you feel more “feminine.” As beautiful and miraculous as child-bearing is…it is a STRUGGLE to find your “womanhood” again after “motherhood.” Carrying a baby for 9 months, going through labor, and nursing a baby, and having to get stitched up “down there,” and wear big ugly nursing bras—don’t actually make you feel pretty, or feminine. And as for your dear husband—let him in enjoy your pre-baby body now. And post-baby body later, too. Remember, he married you for you, and he loves you for you.

Know that you don’t need to go through childbirth to be a “real woman.” Stretch marks on your body do not prove anything. It’s the stretch marks on your soul that matter. Those times in your life when you love so big, and so hard—your heart can’t go back to its original size. This, I believe is the essence of womanhood. These are the stretch marks that matter—the ones on your soul formed in those moments when heaven met earth.

You are a woman to the fullest extent. You are beautiful. You are daughter.

And you are so very loved.

Only God Can Give Children. As much as you want to “give” your husband the child you feel he deserves, the pressure is not on you sweet girl. It is not your burden to carry. Only God can “give” you children—and oh, I pray He does. In His time, and in His way. Remember He is the Giver, and He makes everything beautiful in His time.

5 Permissions (and Commissions) for the New Mom

2013 January-Selah Paige Fox 147New Mom’s or Mom’s-to-be: Here is a bit of “sisterly” advice I gave to my own sister at her baby shower a few weeks ago. I gave her five “permissions” and five “commissions” as she embarks on the journey of motherhood. Enjoy!

5 Permissions for the New Mom
1. Permission to wear sweatpants. Every day. I always vowed I would not do this. But then I realized something: I can not be fully happy…until I am in my sweatpants. (Don’t worry, you will totally rock them.) (P.S. You can always change real quick into that cute [ahem: socially acceptable] outfit once your husband pulls into the driveway.)

2. Permission for Imperfection (in your house and appearance). Your house does not need to look like the pages of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. And don’t think because you are not “working” you must be the Super-Organized-Clean-Freak you have always fantasized about being. It’s harder than it looks. I once saw a wall sticker that said, “Please excuse our mess, we’re busy making memories.” If you hold to this mantra, you will be happier. (P.S. If your house is making you scream, call your Mother or Mother-in-Law to come clean it for you. There’s nothing sweeter than falling asleep to the sound of her vacuuming downstairs while you nap.) And as for your appearance. Don’t expect to wear your skinny jeans home from the hospital. Freaks of nature do that. Once you are a new mom, you have limited time and energy to put into how good you look. So what if you only put mascara on one eye before leaving the house, and have spit up down the back of your black shirt? (Of course, you will be horrified when you later discover this in the bathroom mirror at Target.) But just remember, people won’t be looking at you as much as they will be drooling over your baby. Get used to having him/her steal the show. On some days, you will be truly grateful for it!

3. Permission to be late. No matter how timely you are (and any female blood relation to me is not very)–but no matter how timely you “were” you can just throw that out the window. No matter how hard you try, chances are, when you are loading Baby into his carseat, you will notice liquid poo has seeped through his pants. After about 37 baby wipes, and three peed/pooped on diapers, you will dress him in Outfit B, and run down stairs. He will spit up on you. You will run back upstairs and change your shirt. Once in the drive way, you will realize you forgot some “highly valuable” object (like the binky, cell phone, or for goodness’ sakes, the diaper bag!) and sprint back into your house to get it. This dash from your car to your house will happen about 3 times before you actually pull out and drive away. (Of course your neighbors will think you are psychotic, but maybe they already do.) Get used to this routine each time you try to leave your house. (And note: the more important the event (ie. weddings) expect even more delays. Your baby will want to show up fashionably late.)

4. Permission to open food at the store, (before you buy it!) You are a Mom now–go for it! Open the Teddy Grahams, the Goldfish, the Puffs! And don’t feel a drop of shame when you hand the cashier an almost empty bag as you check out. (So what if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and is only a month old?) Just look down at him, pat his back and say, “Hungry little guy!” Look straight ahead, smile confidently, and march that cart straight out of the store. (You gotta do, what you gotta do.)

5. Permission to Rest. Please. For the sake of everyone around you. Take. A. Nap. (If possible!) New mom’s feel SO GUILTY taking naps. Once the baby is sleeping…you do not need to remodel the living room, complete an Iron Man, bake a few pies, whip up a gourmet dinner, and appear helplessly gorgeous the moment your husband walks in the door. Get the rest you need. You will feel so much better, and be able to tackle your goals with more energy after that. (It’s amazing what soup sleep can do.) I assure you, your husband would rather have a sweet, well-rested, slightly messy house, than a Pinterest Perfect “Princess” who accidentally singes his eyebrows off the moment he walks in the door with dragon fire.

5 Commissions for the New Mom

On a slightly more serious note, I want to send you out into Motherhood with these five commissions: 

1. The Commission To Be A Kid Again. All of those things you miss from childhood, (you finally get to do again!) Building forts, crawling around on your hands and knees, snow angels, finger painting, wrestling, Play-dough, Disney movies, laying in the dark with a flashlight. A big part of becoming a Mom, is learning to have fun with your child. (And you don’t need to wait until your child is 4-years-old to start doing fun things–even babies like to have fun in their own way.) Be the kind of mom who gets down and plays, takes adventures, uses imagination, laughs out loud and dances wildly. You will impress upon this little heart more than you think. And your child (as all children) can always tell if you enjoy and embrace your life, or merely drudge along each day. Fill your home and atmosphere with life and adventure and joy.

2. The Commission To Not Fear Your Weaknesses. There will be moments you have no clue what you are doing. There are things that the “What To Expect Books” just don’t cover. And there will be days you aren’t sure if you, or your baby cried more. But where we are weak, God has promised to be strong. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He gently leads those that have young.” And He will give you everything you need to be a Mom.

3. The Commission To Enjoy Your Baby. Any mom can tell you how fast the time goes. It really happens before your eyes. Like a flash. The days coming may be tired, but they are so very happy, in a new kind of way I doubt you’ve ever experienced. Enjoy this little person in front of you. At the end of your life, you won’t care if you finished the dishes every night, or had a floor you could eat off of; you won’t care about the clothes you wore, or how many projects you completed, (or even how great your blog was;): you will be glad you cherished time with the ones you loved. They are the ones entrusted to you, they are the ones that matter. And this baby, who stares into your face with wonder, you have so little time to enjoy, before he or she grows up, and flies away.

4. The Commission To Know Your Worth. Our world doesn’t make much of “just being a mom.” But God does. Realize you are shaping another human soul, and no one can replace you, or substitute for you. You are his mother. The only one. You are completely unique, and God knew exactly who this little boy would need for his mother. He chose you. It doesn’t matter how unqualified or weak you think you are. He will give you everything you need to be his mom.

5. The Commission To Trust God. Thanks to the Internet, there are a billion things to fear, and you can look them all up on Google and WebMD. But before you do that, know: He loves you and loves your baby. And you are about meet your baby for the first time, but God has known him by name from before the foundations of the world. And whatever happens in this life, God loves him even more than you ever could, and will hold him long after you are able. He will care for him forever. His eyes saw him in the secret places of the womb, and spoke his being into existence. Therefore, God is stronger than any threat, wiser than any doctor, and more loving than any person. Every day, keep placing your trust in the God who made this child and will love him forever, and never stop loving him, even in the world to come.

 

 

[Readers, what other permissions or commissions would you give to a new mom? Or which permissions or commissions did you find helpful when you began motherhood? Please share in the comment section!:)]

What Turbo Kick Taught Me About Being A New Mom

I am not sure what gave me the boost of confidence before entering the YMCA that day. But it was dangerous. As I walked in with an extra skip in my step, I looked at the schedule hanging on the door of Studio 1 and noticed a class called “Turbo Kick” started in 10 minutes. Hmm, sounds more fun than the elliptical. (Big mistake.)

I should have taken some cues as I saw a myriad of very fit looking women waiting around in the lobby, all in cute elastic work out get-ups, and I stood there with my Adidas shorts, old basketball t-shirt, and chicken legs. I was not tanned, or toned, or terrifying like any of these women. I asked the lady with the mic on her face (who was clearly the instructor) what the class was like on my way in, “Oh, it’s just like Kick-boxing combined with Insanity.” Those were her actual words. Insanity. (For someone who struggles just to keep up in the Electric Slide at weddings, the only Insanity that I would be proving that day was my own.)
If only I would have walked away then. But alas…

Within the first five minutes of “Turbo Kick,” I was completely lost. The instructor was barking out commands that sounded like a foreign language. “Upper cut! Cross over! Back kick! Front kick! To the wall!” Huh? I was soon in a stampede of women and trying not to get run over.

I looked like a drowning victim. Arms and legs flailing in every direction. If I were in a pool, there would be whistles blowing, and lifeguards jumping in after me, and people standing by with their faces in their hands.

I was bad. I mean, really stinking the place up, and only 15 minutes into it, too. Unfortunately, the class was 55 minutes long. But I was already committed now. I tried to look natural. But as arms and legs flung wildly in every direction, and I did my first “burpee” since junior high track, nothing was natural about what I was doing. Or trying to do. I’d watch the instructor, then the lady in front of me, then the mirror, then the window, desperately hoping (praying) my husband didn’t feel the need to check on me.

Of course he did.

Later that evening, after he was done cracking joke #492 about the whole episode (for he had a lot of material to work with), he said, “And what were you smiling about in there anyway?”

“Because when I saw my reflection,” I confessed, “I thought ‘What if he’s watching right now?’ And it just made me want to laugh!” I couldn’t help it. There comes a point when you are so awful, it’s actually funny. I guess I would call it, “Insanity.”

This is a lot like being a new mom.

When you become a new mommy…you suddenly enter this new world you didn’t even know existed. Motherhood. You are surrounded by all these ladies moving at incredible speeds, who seem to know exactly what they are doing and you are left spinning around not even know what direction you are supposed to be going.

I’m only 18 months into motherhood, but Turbo Kick resurrected a lot of “new mom” thoughts that I’ve been feeling since the start of motherhood, and I’m not ashamed to admit them:

1. “I have no idea what I am doing.”
New moms have no experience, none. Zippo. Therefore, no matter how much you studied your “What to Expect” books, or baby-sat the neighbor kids…you can’t be fully prepared for what’s ahead of you. Don’t expect to hit the ground running. It’s okay to hit the ground and just…lay there for awhile. You will crawl eventually. You are new to this, and you will learn.

2. “I am surrounded by women who are better at this than me.”
Let’s just get this out there. It’s probably true. If you have friends with any mommy experience at all there’s a good chance they know the steps better than you. They know what they are doing, and you don’t. And that’s okay. You can give yourself some grace realizing, “I am a beginner at this!” Be patient. Don’t try to keep up with the mom whose been doing this for ten years, when you’ve only been at it for ten months. Don’t compare, (it leads to despair.)

3. “I am surrounded by mirrors.”
Not only are you surrounded by Super-Mommies…but you are surrounded by mirrors. These mirrors are those lingering questions in your head or your heart that keep saying things like, “You should know what you’re doing. Get it together. You aren’t good enough. You’ll never get it right.” Ugh. Mirrors remind us of our weaknesses and flaws. Look to God instead, He is where your strength comes from. He made you to do this, and He will give you what you need. In His time.

4. “This is hilarious.”
As a new mom, you can choose how you will respond. For me, that day in Turbo Kick, I chose to laugh. I could have been too proud, and walked out. I could have been too embarrassed, and cried. But I chose to laugh. I was SO out of my league! New mom’s, if you feel like you are clueless, laugh. Maybe you are. Give yourself permission to fail, to experiment, to grow. Some days you will cry, whine, or be angry with yourself, and set sky-rocket expectations to “do it better” tomorrow. It’s part of being a mom.

                               You are allowed to laugh. 

Because…this is hard. And because laughing–is evidence of humility. Of growing. Of not always knowing what you are doing 100% of the time. Whether you are a new mom or not, remember one of the the qualities of the highly esteemed “Proverbs 31 Woman” that we don’t often hear about is:

She smiles at the future.
She can laugh at the days to come.
(Prov. 31:25b, NASB, NIV)

You can laugh. You are learning, we all are are. Welcome to not having it all together. Welcome to growth.
Welcome to Insanity.
Welcome to Motherhood.

 

I Set The Thermostat: How A Woman’s Attitude Affects the Whole House

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“You have like this bad…aura.” Those were my husband’s actual words. Of course that annoyed me even more. He came home around 10 A.M. and by that time it was too late. It was too hot in the house. My toddler was already too crazy. Evidence of breakfast was all over the counter (…and the floor). The shopping list was only half written.  I was trying to print coupons—but she kept turning off the printer before they could come out. I was trying to save a few bucks—even if it cost my sanity. I was trying…to keep it together. (Did I mention I was extremely hot?)

When he walked in, he could see it all over my face. The irritation. The heat. My attitude was like bad perfume. He could not escape it. And as I spouted off the reasons why, his face became like a mirror. All my angst was soon reflected back at me. My ugliness was contagious. Soon we were both frustrated. And angry. And hot.

We made it, (miraculously) out of the house and down to the (air conditioned) YMCA where we just got a membership. We took turns watching our daughter. He took her to the pool, and I went to the treadmill. To blow off some steam. But as I began to run, I looked down through the glass wall that overlooked the swimming pool and saw them. She was sitting at the pool’s edge and he was encouraging her to jump into his arms. He carried her around in the water, helping her float.

Everyone around me watched the TV screens on their treadmills, but my screen stayed black. I couldn’t help but watch these two. These two—that God had given me. These two—that I was born to love.

With everything.

They spotted me and began waving. I waved back through the glass, catching the eye of the short Puerto Rican man on the treadmill next to me. “She’s mine,” I said. He looked confused. “Down there!” I said, almost shouting, “That’s my daughter!”

She was mine. They were both mine. And as I watched them bobbing around in the pool together, I suddenly wanted to cry. My main job was simply: to love them. To make them feel loved. How do I get so off track? So many other goals, so many other boxes on my checklist. So many other things I want to do. Feel I need to do.

Beyond this.

Just this.

On the way home, I broke the silence, “I’m sorry…for my attitude.”

“It’s okay,” he said.

“No. It’s not. Sometimes…I just feel like—when things get really crazy, I have permission to act however I want,” I said. “Without self control.”

“Yeah,” he said. There was some silence before he spoke again. “It’s just like, when I come home—when I come home, I can’t handle walking into you in a really bad mood. I mean, we can buy some air conditioners. I don’t care how much we spend. That would be better than walking into you all…irritated and mad. I just can’t handle that.”

He was right. I wore my attitude like a big ugly sweater. As the woman of the house, my mood, my mind, my heart all play a bigger role than I than I thought.

I set the thermostat in our house. More than I realize.

My kindness and gentleness…my stress and frustration actually do something to the environment. Not the air, or the heat…but the atmosphere. The state of my heart affects everyone. For better, or for worse.

Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Am I building my house? Or tearing it down?

I may be cleaning the kitchen, whipping up dinner, vacuuming the carpets, and organizing the closets—but if I’m doing it with an obligated, irritated, frustrated attitude…am I really helping anyone? Am I creating a life-giving environment?

Last night, the three of us went out and carted home Walmart’s finest air conditioner. And while we all enjoyed the cooler temperature, I know the AC can only work so hard. I need something, Someone much more powerful to change the thermostat in our house, the thermostat in my heart.

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Oh God,

            I need more than a machine in my window,

                                                                        I need Your Spirit in my heart. 

How Beach Trips Have Changed

This season’s swimwear is skimpier than ever. I know because I searched rack after rack, and tried on enough swimsuits to dislocate my shoulder. I was just looking for some coverage and support—because, this year, I would be running on the beach. Chasing my toddler. Juking out of people’s ways. And doing sprints to grab her out of the surf. (She’s quick.)

I was disappointed to find so many zippers, strings, and strategic cuts in the fabric–all exposing as much skin as possible without being totally nude. Even some of the one-pieces seemed like something an adult store’s creepy mannequin would be wearing in the window. The sides were totally cut out, leaving no fabric but what resembled the core of an apple, along with strings, laces, and cups almost as thick as my mattress.

Yeah…not happening.

In the fitting room as I hung up suit after suit on the “Definitely Not” hook, and saw the few lone attempts at modesty hanging on the “Considering It” hook, I realized something: not too long ago the suits on those hooks would have been reversed. I used to wear “those” suits that now feel more like lingerie when I put them on.

There was a time when beach time = me time. When my #1 goal was to look good. I’d lay out all day in a bikini, basting myself with oil, basking in the sun, and working on my tan—the only souvenir I could show off, in order to get some attention from guys. This is what I loved and lived for. Then.

What changed?

I’m sure it would be safe to say: my body. But that’s not really true.

It’s something much deeper. Something in my heart.

A promise.

A promise I made on another beach, not in a bathing suit, but in a long white silk gown. Where I walked down an aisle barefoot, toward his beaming smile. Where I looked into his deep green eyes, and clasped his hands. Where the wind took away my veil. Where my name changed forever. My identity changed, merged, melted together with his.

It was a simple promise:

“My eyes only for you, my body only for you.”

The vows we wrote together. The vows we made together. The vows…we had no idea how hard it would be to keep.

My eyes

            Only for you.

My body

            Only for you.

The vows, like our hands clasped tightly together, that this world, and sin, and life, and stress and selfishness would try to rip apart.

The vow to love.

And the love that would give birth to life.

The life of this fearless little girl I now chase through the surf. Her hair so blonde, it’s almost transparent in the sunlight. She’s laughing, and screaming with delight as the waves hit her. Everyone hears. We’re getting soaked and scream together now. I scoop her up just before another wave crashes against us, knocking us off balance. Her little wet body clings tightly to mine. I look up in the foamy wake and my eyes meet my husband’s; he’s gazing at us and smiling, that same beaming smile that met me at the end of the aisle, on another beach, five years ago.

What happened to the girl I used to be?

The Tide came in,

            and swept her away.

“Am I Enough?”

This week my husband walks in the door after a long day at work to find: dishes piled in the sink, laundry all over the living room, the beef for dinner still in a frozen block, and me…looking like Frump Queen. He is gracious. And tells me to take a nap. I instantly obey. (Inwardly rejoicing.) And while I am sleeping for 45 minutes, he manages to clean the whole house…while watching our daughter. (A feat I clearly was incapable of accomplishing today. Many days.)

One part of my feels grateful the house is clean. I can relax now, right? But the other (bigger) part of me feels guilty and defeated. He just worked the whole day at his job, and then came home and did mine, too. Isn’t this why I am staying home? 

Every day I have this desire to accomplish something. But every day it feels I accomplish nothing. I try to clean something, but I don’t finish. I want to do a house project, make my space more beautiful, but all those gorgeous pics on Pinterest look like something from another world. Not mine. I leave to buy something, but roam aimlessly around in the store. Nothing to bring home. I try to write, but this little person cries for all of my attention when I sit at the computer. I clip coupons and price match, and still go way over on our budget. Agh. At the end of the day, there’s nothing to show for the last 9 hours of exhausting effort. Of doing what? 

When it feels I didn’t accomplish Super Tidy Housewife, or Spiritual Sage, or Fun Mommy, or Adoring Wife, or Betty Crocker, or the Likeable Friend…when I’m none of those titles, and all the opposites..

I have to wonder: “Am I enough?

I lay my head on the kitchen table, cheek against wood, and cry. I want my days to be of worth. But feel like they are all so: Unsuccessful.

As I lay, frozen, I hear a whisper, my daughter’s whisper:

Dear Momma,

Do you remember the nights you cried on the bathroom floor in the dark? When the pregnancy tests sat negative in the trash can? Remember when my nursery was just a storage room? A place for you and Daddy to throw your junk? Remember how you longed to brush my hair with your fingers, to sing me lullabies, to hold me close? And now I’m here. 

Am I enough?

When there’s dishes in the sink, and your skinny jeans sag from all the bending, and dinner’s ingredients still sit on the shelves of the supermarket, because your days are full, full of me. Am I worth your attention? Am I an accomplishment?

Am I enough?

You kept me safe today Momma, you kept me alive. You kept me fed, and rested. You played with me, and made me laugh. Does that count Momma? Am I one of your goals Momma? Just to be together? Even if no one sees it? Or knows it?

Am I enough?

Tell me Momma, did you think I’d be different? Did you hope I’d be different? Do you see me? I’m right here Momma, the answer to your sobbing prayers. But now that I’m here, is there something else you want Momma, to feel good? Do I make your day count Momma?

Am I enough?

And suddenly, the voice changes. My heart wrenches. The Spirit of God begins to whisper, making the table under my wet cheek feel more like the chest of God. And suddenly I know He’s near.

Do you remember when I said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me?” (Matt. 25:40) “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward?” (Matt. 10:42) Do you not see it here Child? 

All these days you live at home to serve this fragile girl, what you really are doing is serving Me. For whatever you do unto her, you do unto Me. So let me ask you:

Am I enough?

What is My worth to you? In the secret places, where no one sees? Look deeper Dear One.

Can you find Me in this place? In her face?

Every diaper, every clean, dry pair of clothes,

cups of water, Cheerios, all the laughter, every tear,

each soothing whisper in her ear.

In doing so, you so clothe Me, feed Me, hear My cry,

soothe Me with your lullaby.

If all you do is spend your days, your self, on Me..

Am I enough?