Sunday, May 12, 2013
Four Things God Showed Me
“How could I ever be a good mom? How do you even define being a good mom? How will I know what to do with this baby growing inside me? I came from so much abuse with words like physical, emotional, sexual. I came from yelling and screaming and being told I was stupid and ugly and worthless. I have no business having any children, but God I want a lot of children. I want five kids…”
I was very scared to think of raising my first child. I only had nine months to think about it. I was not the kind of young girl that dreamed of family, a happy home, and lots of kids. I was in college and career bound. I was not sure what I felt about kids, having come from such a tragic upbringing. That is until I felt those first kicks of a baby growing inside. As the instincts of motherhood began to work in my heart, I realized that I longed to have many kids and to be a mother that was a good one. So I prayed, I watched, and I asked lots of questions.
Sitting on a shelf, twenty-five years later, is a framed card. It is a special card that was given to me at a baby shower for Elliot, my first child, 25 years ago. With my delivery date just a few weeks away I was given a precious gift. This gift more precious than the amazing stroller, or carseat and all the cute little boy outfits. I was given the Word of God. Spoken from that card and into my desperate desire to be a good mommy and a true mommy heart.
“4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door rames of your houses and on your gates.”
ONE: God showed me what mothering would like in this passage. I had asked for scriptures from Godly woman, on mothering and was given book after book after book on how to parent. I could learn from these books, but more importantly how I desired to have my children know and love God. So began my journey to live out this passage of scripture.
a. We wake up each morning and thank God for our day. Around the table while eating breakfast.
b. We listen to the words of the Christian music in the car on the way to school. We talk about the words and how God is in our hearts, our songs, and our thoughts.
c. We pray out loud for the things God puts on our hearts. It’s okay if a young child does not understand what praying should be or not be. Allow them to express what is on their young hearts and encourage them to have conversations with God during the day. Teach them how to pray for their friends, neighbors, family, and actions.
d. It is okay to be a Jesus Freak kind of mom. Get silly for Jesus and allow your kids to be silly about Him too. “Wave To Jesus” A song that Emerson and Ethan made up recently is totally silly and I love it.
e. Open your Bible and share stories at bedtime and talk about them. Find a passage that a child can relate to and make it the story of the week. Allow them to draw pictures and illustrate the story, so they can hold up pictures each night of the story. I have been reading every night the 23 Psalm to the boys and they have it almost memorized. (memorization was not the objective, reading the story is, but they are learning)
f. Teach your children to Honor the name of Jesus, and teach them the names we call God by. Ask questions like…”what is a good name to honor God by today?” And then we make references to that name and talk about it some more.
g. We do a lot of writing too. When a child is disobedient, I will ask God to show me an appropriate scripture for this child to learn from and guess what happens…. They get sentences, copied straight from God’s word. (I was told by a few moms, years ago, that this “tactic” will only cause my kids to resent God, and want nothing to do with Him. Quite the contrary as I see all my children embracing God with so much passion. The Holy Spirit can and will work through their young hearts too.
h. When out on a walk, with sun, wind, rain or storms acknowledge His handiwork and ask your kids questions on how they see God, and why he would make this or that. You would be AMAZED at the questions they ask. It is okay if you don’t know the answers because lack of info. allows you dream with your children all the questions we can ask God when we see him face to face.
TWO: I asked a lovely lady who was a mother to her own four kids, and grandmother to many, if there was one book she would choose to read, aside from the Bible, what would it be. I was standing in her home, in a sea of books lining her entire library of shelves. Just one book I could pick up and read while I nursed my newborn baby.
“The Blessing” by John Trent and Gary Smalley
“Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance
I held the book in my hand and read the title over and over. I really did not understand love and acceptance and then I turned the book over to read the back. The book just about fell apart from it’s previous reader and the attention to the detail’s of this book. As I read the back cover tears spilled down my cheeks. It read:
“The authors detail the five elements of the blessing
1. Meaningful touch: Having been so terribly abused this was a huge issue for me and I so longed to NOT withhold meaningful touch from my children, for fear I may become those parents who hurt me.
2. A Spoken Message: Words, that could teach me how to love my children.
3. Attaching High Value: I was raised to think I had no value and to feel worthless, now I could learn how to do better than my parents.
4. Picturing a Special Future: At the time I did not know what this meant, but by the time my first child decided what he wanted to be when he grew up I knew just how to respond. Elliot’s three-year-old little fingers gripped my hands and said…”mama I want to grow up and make sure people know about Jesus.” And we prayed that God would honor his little three-year-old plans.
5. An Active Commitment: Active, not passive. Learning how to be present, showing up in the areas of need for each and every child I have been blessed with.
I did not take this sweet lady’s book. I had to save up some money to buy my own. Then I found the book on a friend's shelf and “borrowed” hers. I sit here today, beside me that book I “borrowed” over 23 years ago.
I now use this book in mentoring young moms and admit this is the only book I have ever read on parenting, cover to cover, aside from the Bible. I own many good books, but never had time to start and finish. I am sure there are many good books out there, but this one is what grew my heart into motherhood.
THREE: Praying Without Ceasing and out loud.
a. Pray with your children, even as infants before each time they lay to rest.
b. Pray when you are tired and have nothing left to give or say.
c. Pray when you see them begin to understand the smallest of concepts.
d. Pray before each meal.
e. Pray while they are playing.
f. Pray with your children before they get out of the car and walk into the school.
g. Pray with your child when they are struggling.
h. Pray with your child when you are struggling.
i. Pray words of praise and thanksgiving to this amazing God.
j. Pray just because you can and.
k. Talk to God about everything, and while they are young they will know nothing different than to call unto God with the joys, the sadness, the disappointments and see Him as He is.
FOUR: “Eighty percent consistency is not that bad.” I heard that from a popular Christian speaker when Elliot and Emily were little charges in life. I felt that I was in constant battle, (which I now call constant training) It was darn right exhausting me. One afternoon I sat down to have a cup of tea, and again needed to step in with parental authority, but I did not. I sat, and sat, and sat until my tea was gone. And I did not feel bad at all. I did think that I was slipping as a parental authority. The toys were not picked up, there was no follow through on my part and I cringed to think that this day I just decided to drink some tea. The message from this speaker spoke to my heart. It was a message basically saying that if you don’t “get-it” every time, don’t beat yourself up. And I did not. I extended grace to my mothering and tried never to let myself fall under that 80% mark.
"May God bless you as mothers pouring into the hearts of your children every single day. It's not an easy task, but I see the rewards every day as I watch my own children experience God, experience answered prayers, experience His grace, and experience His love. If the list above seems daunting start with a few things to develop habits in your behaviors and those habit then become those of your children." Start with praying out loud and over your children. If you don't know what to pray, open the Bible and read to them out loud. Blessings and Joy, Elizabeth
My mother had many fine qualities. As a matter of fact I have often said that the fun, life, silliness and spirit of adventure have come from my mother. We lived in Central Philadelphia. She was a secretary with the Bell company. She had four little girls by the time she was 23 years old. We are all just about 12 1/2 months apart. My father left her with four little girls when the youngest was a newborn. Yet with so much adversity in her life she was a good mother. She loved to dress us up. She loved to get on the train and take us into New York City for all the parades. She loved having people over and we had many dinner parties. She loved us girls and included us in every part of her life. My memory holds that of long walks, the Jersey Shore, much love, many walks in the park and many trips into the city. Here is a picture of all of us girls on a walk in the park. She even dressed us up for walks in the park. We are all standing in birth order. Me being the third. I love that we are all wearing hats. It must have been a Sunday. We always wore hats on Sunday.
This is my mother at about 27 years old. I know life was not easy for her, but she made it work. She hired Miss Elizabeth. A nanny to care for us girls while she took a train into work every day. I have always known where I got my city girl from.
The sad thing is life was not good to her. One wrong decision changed her spirit and her life. She married a man five years younger, whom she met in a bar. She became mentally ill around 30 years. That life went from her eyes, a second husband who was abusive and seemingly destroyed her spirit all together.
I have wonderful memories of my mother before she remarried. I did not ever lose that part of my mother. Even as a young girl, with the curtains drawn dark for weeks, and her inability to get out of bed I always knew that she was a person with good intentions. My step dad did not allow her any money to spend on us girls. We were not his, and he did not feel responsible. So we went without the regular things that kids have. Yet in a bold move, she once took all of us girls on a shopping spree and later she paid dearly for the triumph in clothing her girls was no victory for her heart and head later on. Remember this was a mommy who loved dressing her girls, and now they/us had nothing better than rags handed down from those who felt sorry.
I have been taking a trip down memory lane. I have mentioned this a few times now. Reflecting on my past and realizing the special touches of life that preserve our spirits. I do believe it's God's way of caring for our hearts in a heartless world.
I spent the better part of the last 30 years not knowing this woman. I was put into the state's care as a very young teenager. Pictures tell a different story of my earlier childhood. Janice Ellen (I was to name my next little girl Ellen, but well three boys later that did not happen) died 2006. Life wore her down. She did not know how to fight or care for her family. She was bi-polar and had mental issues that the doctors did not know how to treat. And yet, even as I reflect on many painful years of growing up I know she tired her best. Before she became ill she exposed us to so much. She was never judgemental of others but shared a love and life that people were drawn to. It's truly those earlier years in my life, that she did her best to make the best. I know I adopted that part of me from her. I have always been one to try to make the best no matter how terrible the situation. It's been said that is a fault of mine. I beg to differ.
Thanks Lord Jesus, for starting my life with a mother who knew how to show love. Who's spirit was one that I would want to be like. For those of you who know me my spirit of adventure, my silliness, my strong opinions...yep they came from a mother who allowed those opinions and encouraged the rest. May your soul rest in a place more beautiful than I can know right now. I know you have met our Savior and there we will get to start over. Happy Mother's Day.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
These were the days. I was living my life, just being a single mom, working and hanging out with my little family. Ethan almost a year old, and discovering he was deaf. I was dating David, who fell in love with our little family. Life was complicated. Life was a little easier for me than most. I could never accept the sympathetic words of “oh you poor thing, you are a single mom”. It was unmerited on many levels. Trust me, I appreciated the words of encouragement, but I did not have the struggles that most single moms have.
Since I worked for myself as a consultant, I was not locked into specific working hours. I had a home office, a local client who set my office up with crib, baby swing, and playpen, a part-time nanny, and with this kind of blessing I could hardly accept the heartfelt sympathies. My struggles were unseen, not often discussed with others.
The complications of relationship this one little boy caused were the unseen. The breakdown of not having met the expectations put on me as a result of this baby. My inability to handle myself well in those relationships and all the while trying to honor those relationships meant not discussing my problems. I carried those secrets deep in my heart.
I remember waking up every single day, knowing that I had three little sillies that needed me. I needed to stay focused on my work. Working hard to make the provisions for my little family so that I could be that present stay home mommy status. I had to let go of what was hard, and let go of people important in my life, for this one little baby. I could have adopted him off into another family. I could have ignored the decisions around his conception. I could have, and perhaps should have done a lot differently according to the expectations put on me by others. Instead I chose this little boy. I chose to keep the little brother that Elliot and Emily were getting to know, through a bump in my belly.
I chose him over the insecurities and belief system of others. That little boy turns 11 years old this month. That little baby in my arms with the bright face and big blue eyes is Ethan. While others could not bring him into their hearts, God provided others. God provided a family that could come around and endure the complications of Ethan being deaf. Ethan bringing my heart around what it truly means to be committed, as life does continue to press forward. There are always struggles, but dear friends we always have choices. With life, and its struggles I chose the path of keeping this boy in my life. I chose the hard. This is the kind hard that has produced some of life’s greatest joys.
I was a 30 something confused mommy who had only one choice. Trust in God. He’s all you have. And I did. Today as I look at what I worked hard for, I see this little baby boy becoming the young man that God designed. Deaf, bright, academic, and a will that pushes through to find the answers in his own life. I am blessed to have Ethan in my life. That man who fell in love with my family adopted Ethan. Ethan now carries the family Traub name. With the Traub family came grandparents and an aunt and uncle who love him. God’s design and plans for Ethan’s life continue to unfold. I have had the blessing of raising my precious son.
Happy Birthday Ethan. You have a story that some day God is going to use in a powerful way.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Why “My Other Mother” blog, twitter and fanpage? I have been asked that it seems I am juggling a lot these days. When “My Other Mother” popped up that too resulted in few emails asking me what I was up to. I thought I would give meaning and definition to this part of my life.
A few months ago, my young business partner suggested I have a new website called “My Other Mother”. Suggesting that since I mentor so many young people in that 20-something crowd, it would be a great way to get my message out there directly. Basically my message is simply to encourage each person who calls on me, in the truth of how to live life through the eyes, the heart, and the ministry of Jesus as written in the Bible. I am not introducing great ideas and opinions that I have come up with on my own. Those who have sat under my mentoring know that with the questions that are asked, the processes of life on any level I will go to the Bible and seek out the truth, directing always our hearts to the heart of Jesus.
I have written many journals, pages and pages of notes taken over the hearts and the struggles of many. Writing down questions and asking God to guide my answers. Now, all that being said, I now have a platform in which to send out the message of Jesus through encouragements and inspirations. In the same way I use my business accounts in Social Media, to deliver a message, I now use “My Other Mother” in the same way. Only the message is geared more towards the heart of who we are and how we choose to live as we walk with Christ.
I am also inviting others into “My Other Mother” to write and share some of their wisdom in pouring into others. I have met many amazing young people who live lives that teach me so much about being a grown up in this world. In their own experiences and process we learn how to love more, in how Jesus calls us to love.
As I have learned how to use Social Media for my business platforms, I now see the value in using Social Media for the things I do in real time, doing them now online. God’s message of truth no longer limited to my home office, a coffee shop, or a speaking engagement. God’s message is now being delivered to those, whom I have never met in that Social Media Space. My hope is that my life, my imperfections, my flaws, and my desire to make a difference in this world will encourage you. I am not your mother, nor am I equipped to take in strangers to my home and my own family. However I am equipped to offer that listening ear and direct your heart to Jesus through simple statements of truth.
If you are interested in having one of your own stories of either mentoring or being mentored I would love to hear from you.
Take a moment to visit the website: http://my-other-mother.com/
Like the Facebook fanpage: My Other Mother
Hope on twitter and follow: @myothermother
Together, we can use Social Media as a platform to pour into the hearts of those that are broken, those are seeking encouragement and inspiration. God shows us favor and blessing when we seek to honor Him in all we say and do. Blessing, Elizabeth
P.S. I want to thank Matt Morrison for his work on building all these platforms in Social Media, I love that he, a young man I mentored, and the women in his life who came to me. Life is truly a blessing.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
"Done French Kissed and made $19.00 doing it"
“How did you do that?"
"Well you kind of hug him reaching low, pick his pockets, swish-swash pockets picked"
For one week a dear friend of mine joined me, committing to French Kissing our husbands as they walked in the door from work. We then committed to text each other "done" each time this was completed. And for seven straight days we did just that. We met yesterday to discuss this agreement and both came to realize that something had dramatically changed. There is a connection, a quiet, unspoken, sometimes spoken connection. We decided that it did not matter how we were treated or how they would respond we were going to lay one on them. Unexpected just for being in the right place at the right time. How about starting now in this act of lovely kindness, this Valentine’s Week.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I love that passionate is linked in this verse.
No matter what his mood, what he said to offend, show kindness, forgiving, and loving him. Take the rest of this Valentines week and show your man that you love him, with the surprise of a French Kiss!