The "Committed" Mom?

I am blessed to be the mom of three wonderfully amazing children I call Brent, Lottie and Kenzie. But honestly, there are days when I am committed and days when I need to be committed! So here's where this little blog comes refuge- my opportunity to share with all who care, the joys of being a "Committed" Mom!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Love and Prayers to the Sudanese Mommies

There I am sitting at my very large Ikea dining room table, with my nice cushy "leather" chairs- watching my children eat their food and leave their crumbs and spills all over it and the hardwood floor.  One this particular day I was in a very foul mood and had lost my joy...(please read when you have a moment- her writing is the cry of my heart!).  I kept making a list of all the things that needed to be done around the house and how I will never be able to keep up with the tornadoes that are my children! I admit I was cranky and mad and my focus was way off course.  As I was watching the yogurt drink spill on the table for the 2nd time in 10 seconds, I noticed the envelope on the table from Samartian's Purse.  If you aren't familiar with them please check them out because you will want to be familiar with them!
I opened the envelope and in it was a newsletter from Franklin Graham talking about the Civil War that is about to break out in the Sudan, but it wasn't just what the newsletter was about that grabbed me, it was the pictures within it.  There on the cover was very young mother of 4 sitting in the side, of what appeared to be, a cave.  Her children were covered in dirt and their clothes were tattered and torn. I began to read the article and discovered that this cave was their home- it was where they resided and it was then that God opened my eyes and humbled me.
Who was I to be complaining about the spills on my table and my floors? When I was blessed to have a table and floors.
Who was I to complain about the food spills period? Because it means that my children are being fed and have enough to eat.

On another page I found a mother holding her son, who sat with his back to the photo.  The child was emaciated (skin and bone).  He had to have been about the age of my son (9) but was so weak and frail because he was so malnourished.
How does a mother endure this lifestyle?  How does this mother handle looking at her skeletal child and survive her day to day?
How does a mother sleep in a cave with her children, with absolutely no comforts- while I sleep in my overpriced pillowtop mattress?
How does a mother raise her children, with very little- if any- food to keep them living?
How does a mother keep her children safe, when their little lives are threatened because of what part of the Sudan they live in?
How does a mother endure rape-daily, so that she can walk for miles to obtain water for her children to drink?
How does a mother keep her sanity in this?
How does a mother not rage at God or the world?
How does a mother not become consumed with pain and heartache- and manage to go on living day to day?

I am so blessed and fortunate to live in this country and to have the comforts that I do.  I am so blessed and fortunate that I can turn on my faucet for water, and have fresh water- that my lazy butt didn't have to do anything for!
I am so blessed that my children have clothes to wear on their healthy bodies, and shoes on their feet.
I am so blessed that they (we) have food in our bellies.
I am blessed that I don't have to worry about my children being killed because of where we live.
I praise God for our freedoms to worship the God of our choosing (even though I know there is only ONE true God!) but that people are not killed or persecuted here for it. blessed.  I.....have no complain.

Mothers in the Sudan- I know how you can do those things, because you are mothers!  You are amazingly brave and courageous.  You are the very essence of every mother's heart- you will do what you need to do for your family.  You love without limits or restraints, you think of NO ONE but your family.  You are astoundingly selfless and you perseverance is steadfast!  I am convicted by my selfishness and I know that God is showing you to affect my heart in a deeper way.

From one mother's heart to another..I vow from this day forward that I will pray for you- I will pray for your family. I will pray for their health and their safety.   I will pray that there will be peace in your country and that wrongs would be made right.  I will pray for food for your family, and fresh water access.  I will pray for clothes and education and healing for your sick.  I will pray for your hearts to know that as a mom, my heart breaks for you, and that I will stand in the gap for you.  I pray for your spiritual health, that you would come to know Jesus Christ in a real and personal way- that He would bring you hope and you would find an love like no other....I will pray that you find the ONE true love and above all I will pray..."Lord, what do you want me to do with this?" and try to be obedient as I humble myself before him and listen for what He is going to have me do....

Father God, thank you for opening my heart and my eyes to these women.  My heart breaks with compassion for them.  I do not know what you want me to do with this, or where you want me to take this knowledge- but I humble myself and I ask for your guidance.  Show me how to help these mothers, how can I reach out to them?  How can I show Your love to them?  How can I show them You?  I wait expectantly for your call...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Power of a Mother's Influence

I had the honor to speak at our Mother's Day Brunch this past Mom's day...I believe it was's about a 20 minute read (just a warning)

Good Morning Ladies,

I am so glad that all of you could join us this morning- isn’t it a lovely day?  My name is Nina Smith and I am the wife of a wonderful man, Kevin who is working behind the scenes to make this day special for us and the proud mother of two great kids- an 8 year old mouth (err umm I meant Son) named Brent and a 3 year old little mama (Sorry I meant daughter)  named Lottie.  They bring great joy to my heart and many grey hairs to my head (the kids not the husband!) and they are the reason I am standing up here today.

Two years ago I was asked to speak before you, on a topic of my choice.  And it should bring you great comfort to know that I have been planning for this moment for two years.  What I probably shouldn’t say is that up until two days ago- I had not a single solitary clue on what I was going to say. Makes you feel pretty confident this is gonna be good right?  I always was the procrastinator who studied the entire night for the test the next day or wrote the 20 page term paper the night before and was rushing to turn it in at the last possible second- but let me assure you that I always got an A because I had no room for error and apparently that’s how I work in God’s time too. I hope that what I share with you, influences your heart in some way and you can walk away with a little piece of hope.

Let me give you some more information on my planning…In March of this year I attended the Changed Life Seminar at Emmanuel Baptist and the Lord used the speaker to absolutely break me.  Not in a horrible- condemning and crushing way- but in a humble gentle way, a way that touches your soul so deeply you find an unexplainable peace.   It was in this moment of my breakdown- that God broke through and He said I want you to speak about this area of motherhood ….ok Lord gotcha, you want me to speak on this…great!  This incredibly heart breaking topic that I wept so deeply over- you want me to share that with these women?  Great!!!!!!

So I began thinking about what I wanted to say and how to say it ….(crickets) nothing.  If you don’t know me let me tell you that it is not hard for me to speak what’s on my heart and mind- I am quick to blog about it when I have the time.  So the fact that I couldn’t think of what to say or how to say had me frozen.

Then when April rolled around I admit I began to get a lot more nervous, but I knew,  God wouldn’t let me down.  So I waited and I listened, but from what I could tell, all the noise I was hearing was distracting me from hearing those words!  I was personally breaking apart in so many areas in my life, I felt there was no possible way that I could stand before you and share anything that would bring Glory to the Lord regarding Motherhood, there was no way I could bring something encouraging out the mess.

Two weeks (maybe even less) Pastor Tim, or as we call him in our home Papa- helped me.  He asked what I was speaking on, and when I tried to share the thoughts they were kind of a jumbled ball.  He listened to my rambling and then before I knew it he helped me to come up with a title to place on our lovely invitations that went out.  I felt so frustrated that I couldn’t narrow my thought down to specifics, but Papa knew where I was going- and it is exactly where God wanted me to go.  So now I have a topic, now I have a title- I am ready for the words Lord.  Bring em on! (there are those crickets again)

Which brings us to this week!! Ta da!  On Wednesday, a little tired of waiting maybe…. I got inspired to go in one direction and I began typing my thoughts out on Thursday- until a small everyday life inconvenience happened and sent my heart and head into a tilt-a-whirl….(I won’t go into detail, but you know those little inconviences- the ones that smack you in the face when you are least prepared- say for example a car (Who you believe is possessed by a demon because of all the troubles it puts you through) who has cost you a few thousand dollars in a year and a half, who simply had a bad battery on Tuesday- then Wednesday had an alternator belt break while your husband was on his way to work (but was safe- praise the Lord)- turn into a 650 dollar job because of someone’s negligence on our engine a year ago!  Add to it-four children (I only have 2 but I watch 2) who decide this is the week they don’t want to share or be kind or get along- add to a home that was suddenly clean before you left for vacation on Friday and arrived home on Monday to find it trashed on Tuesday, add to that you have to shop for groceries, come up with appropriate mother’s day gifts for your own Mother’s and come up with a mother’s day gift for your precious darlin’s to make and take home to their momma’s, add to that driving all over town because you now only have one car….you get the point. 

Anyway I say all this to say, it’s been a challenging week and I still had no words to share with you (or as I learned in Tennessee this week Ya’ll) Your probably askin yourself why didn’t she just say that…well it wouldn’t have been as dramatic…and because as I said I am good for sharing my words and heart and sometimes (ok most of the time) it takes me longer to get my point across so hang in there we have another 20 minutes to go!

Ok one more thing and then I’ll get to what God’s brought me too.  As I just finished telling you- every day life inconveniences were beating the snot out of me- I was overwhelmed and angry and having some serious trust issues with people.  The kids were really starting to get on my nerves and were itching to go outside- so I took them out.  I figured it would be good for me to clear my head and speak to the Lord about all that was hitting me in the face right then.  So there I was sitting in the sun, talking to the Lord about how hurt I was and how I just felt I couldn’t handle one more thing.  Ever have a day like that?  The kids kept coming to the porch just enough to keep me from balling my eyes out and scaring the daylights out of them.  I even took a minute to post to the world on facebook that this particular day was horrible.  Because I really believe everyone in the facebook world cares about what I have to say. No sooner did I type those words, when God spoke my love language and sent me a gift to remind me of his love for me.  (Show picture)

Just a little background- many years ago I was told that when you want to know if God is listening ask him to speak to you in a way that only you will recognize.  Ask him to show you how he loves you- well I was sitting on a bench at a park all alone, on a beautiful sunny day and I asked, please show me you love me Lord- send me a sign…it was then that he sent a butterfly to sit right beside me on the bench, for quite awhile too I might add.  When my husband proposed to me, it was because of a butterfly (another story another time) and on our wedding day I had the butterfly symbol in my bouquet. 

I am going to admit that recently I had been seeing lots of butterflies in my yard…and even some magnificent rainbows- which I hope you had a chance to see (here’s another picture)I had seen them, but I guess I wasn’t really paying attention because God got personal (show next picture) and it was then that my heart softened, the tears came and the words flowed!

Here’s where the good stuff starts…
I am a horrible mother, I am in the race for the World’s Worst Mom award.  I think if you ask my son- he might tell you that I am going to win and honestly I think I have a shot! Here’s how I know I qualify
1. I don’t let them eat candy everyday and in fact most of their candy goes bad before they have a chance to eat it.  
2. They don’t get to watch hours of TV or play lots of video games- these are earned privileges.
3. I make them sit at the table for dinner- we rarely eat in front of the TV- this is a treat!
4. I always want to know where he is going to be and I make him check in frequently. 
5. They can’t ride their bikes in the street.
6. I break child labor laws and I make them work.  Each child has chores to do- even the 3 year old. I believe he thinks I lie awake thinking of evil chores for him to do.
7. I insist that they tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
8. I make them go to church every Sunday- although they love me now J and don’t mind this one.
9. I make them return items that don’t belong to them, I don’t let them touch things that aren’t theirs and if they take something that doesn’t belong to them- I make them return it and apologize
10. I make them pay for things they break or destroy or (steal)
11. I charge the older child for maid service- because maids don’t come cheap.
12. I stand over them for 2 hours while they clean up something that only takes 15 minutes.
13. I make them take care of their pet- like watering and feeding and taking her outside
14. I make them read and do homework right away- I make them read in the summer!  
15. I enforce bedtime rules and I don’t let them stay up until all hours of the night.
16. My form of organization is unorganized
17. My temper is rather even until I lost it
18. I can’t remember what my kids say, I always forget
19. I get lost on my laptop at times
20. I don’t do what I want (like be on time) and I do do what I don’t want (like scream and yell)
21. I overcommit, I overthink and at times I overspend
23. I am inconsistent in my discipline
Maybe you qualify too or maybe you had a mom who did qualify.  Either way I wanna take a few minutes and discuss these moms’. Some of you might not know but when I got married, my husband and I had an 80’s theme wedding- yes we even asked our guest to dress up!  So you might say that I am a fan of popular culture.  Pop culture influences how people think, dress and speak- this of course can be good and bad! 
I have decided that today. I am going to use some TV mom’s as examples- these are mom’s that I feel have made an impression in many women’s lives- and are still continuing to do so .  At one point in your life you may have been watching one of these shows and said to yourself:
“She is an amazing mom…I wish she had been my mom”
“I wanna be a mom just like her”
Or maybe you said
“I am so lucky she wasn’t my mom”
“I sure hope I am never like that”
Here is my list of influential TV mom’s from then and now!
20. Sally Field- from Brother’s and Sisters – a super helicopter mom, who is hoovers over her children.  She is very nosey and has to know every single detail of her children’s lives. She has a tendency to annoy those around her.
19. Lynette Scavo- from Desperate Housewives-I’ll be honest this one drives me crazy- I am not a fan of hers, but I digress.  Lynette is a mom who is very competitive in the workforce, driven and tough as nails.  However she has a tendency to dominate everything and everyone in her life because she knows best. 
18. Rosanne Bar- from Rosanne.  I have to admit sometimes I relate very well to Rosanne.  She is a blue collar working momma who wasn’t afraid to tell you like it is. (but she always used humor to tell it)
17. Murphy Brown- from Murphy Brown a highly educated, opinonated and hot tempered white collar worker.  Even the Vice President had something to say about her.
16. Angela Bower-Who’s the Boss.  A very successful business woman, who managed to balance her life and family with the help of others-specifically a good looking Italian housekeeper (but that’s not the point) She knew she couldn’t do it all alone!
15. Ann Romano- One Day at a Time.  A hard working single mom who was raising two kids on her own- and always let her daughter’s know that she was the parent!
14. Elyse Keaton- Family Ties.  A very hippy, laid back go with the flow mom.  She was a family woman and an activist. 
13. Florida Evans- Good Times-Florida became a widow and did whatever she had to keep her families head above water. She was a loving, tell it like it is momma, who deserved respect and admiration.
12. Carol Brady- The Brady Bunch-Carol managed to always maintain her cool while raising 6 kids in her blended family.  She gave practical advice and encouraged good moral character.
11.  June Cleaver- Leave it to Beaver.  Never looked unkempt or frazzled.  She always appeared polished and well put together.  She had dinner on the table and adored and doted on her children.
10. Claire Huxtable- the Cosby show- her priority was her family and her career.  She was very successful and very educated and demanded the same from her children.  Education and morals were always expected!
9. Thelma Harper- from Momma’s Family- a little old small town southern lady with a big old mouth.  Didn’t care who she said what to.  She was always starting fights with someone.
8. Marie Baron- Everybody Loves Raymond- lived next door to her son and was never short on sarcasm.  She was passive aggressive when speaking her mind and always judgemental of everyone who wasn’t her.
7. Louise Jefferson- was the wife to a very hot headed hubby.  She was always working to bring him down- keep the peace. She struggled to deal with the inner trappings of money and success.
6. Edith Bunker- Archie Bunker- the sweetest wife of the biggest loud mouth on TV.  One could say she was verbally abused by him and his harsh mouth.  She was always trying to calm the situation down.
5. Estelle Costanza- Seinfield- (Somehow I picture myself like this…but I hope not) Estelle was always fighting with someone, yelling at everyone and humiliating herself and others.   She loved to bicker and pick-not that there is anything wrong with that.
4. Laura Petrie- Mary Tyler Moore- always nervous and on edge.  Worried about how she was going to get out of situations that others put her in.  However Laura was always encouraging
3. Shirley Partridge- The Partridge Family- a single mom whose life literally revolved around her children.  She drove them everywhere!  She did what had to be done and did it with a song!
2.Vivian Banks- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- a very level headed woman who boardered on Drill Sargent and Saint.
1.  Caroline Ingles- the iconic Christian mother who displayed all the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman.
And honorable mention because I think she deserves it Annie Camden- Seventh Heaven- the mother of 7 children, the pastor’s wife, the homemaker.  Who balanced a budget for 7 kids and managed to keep all her hair!  She was strong and steadfast in her marriage and faith.
So now….
Maybe you recognized them-maybe you grew up with one of them.
Maybe you recognized yourself in them, you see your characteristics.
And maybe you see things in them you wish you hadn’t.  Maybe you or your mom was the darker version of these TV mom’s
Imagine the darker verson…
Sally Fields constant invasion into her children’s lives, causes them to have severe anxiety and be medicated because they don’t know how to handle life and all the stresses that they bring.
Lynette Scavo’s kids have to seek years of therapy after her husband/their father leaves them.  The kids strive to be perfect in every area of their life because imperfection is not an option- you always have to be #1
Rosanne Bar decides to live off the welfare system and quit working- and begins to hang out in bars.
Murphy Brown is so hot tempered that you can’t carry a conversation with her out of fear of how you will be torn to shreds.
Angela Bower- leaves the help to raise the children because she is so caught up in work she can’t be bothered with kids.
Ann Romano- decides she can’t raise her two kids and their problems- so she abandons them- leaving them to raise themselves.
Elyse Keaton- so laid back that she becomes her children’s friends and not their parent, leaving her children searching for a mother
Florida Evans- Abusing her children because she works long hard hours, lives in the ghetto and comes home to problems that she has to deal with as a widow.
Carol Brady- bored of her life, begins taking pills and loses herself in her shopping addictions.
June Cleaver- Who can say anything bad about her?  Perfect in every way- On the outside.  She is so caught up with looking good on the outside her family is falling apart inside those closed doors.
Claire Huxtable- belittles her husband and berates him so much, that the children dare not disrespect her.
Thelma Harper- is literally living all alone- no one comes to visit- no one comes to talk or share joys.  The family wants nothing to do with her and her poisonous words.
Louise Jefferson- walks on eggshells and tries not to upset her husband- for he will abuse her and their son behind closed doors.
Edith Bunker-always believes she is worthless and deserves nothing.. teaches this to her daughter who marries and equally abusive man.
Marie Barone- doesn’t get to see her grandchildren anymore because her son’s and Her husband left her after 40 years of marriage- because they had all had enough. 
Laura Petrie- committed suicide to escape her worries and fears, never hearing the encouragement she gave to others.
Shirley Partridge- decides to solicite her daughters to men on the road because she needs to feel successful and will do whatever it takes to get there.
Estelle Costanza- the police are called to her home often due to domestic altercations between her and everyone.  (She may have been on cops a few times as well)
Vivian Banks- Drill sergeant takes over saint and she dominates her home out of fear and reverence.  Speak when spoken to- do not give your thoughts or opinions they will be given to you.
Caroline Ingles and Annie Camden (yes even Christian mom’s have dark sides) both take the verse Spare the Rod and spoil the child to heart and have had children services called several times.  They speak hurtful, harmful words that damage their children’s soul- pushing them further away from God, and forcing them to question their faith- all because these mom’s can’t handle the stressful life situations they are in.
So which one was it for you? Did you have the happy sitcom mom or did you have the darker version?  Maybe I never even spoke about yours…maybe your story hasn’t been told yet.  Let me encourage you all briefly…give you a little hope to take away.
The Changed Life Seminar I attended in March showed me that I was living the dark side and causing severe damage to the hearts of my children and my husband.  My issues, my anger and rage about different things that have occurred in my past began to seep out into my relationships with my family.  God showed me that I was verbally and emotionally abusing my son.  I stand before you admitting that I did these things.  Brent was a catalyst for me- I can’t explain it or reason it out- it just is. We are polar opposites but yet so much the same.  When I speak to him behind closed doors-out of my hurt and anger- I cut- I use words that I later regret.  I realized that I am damaging him more than the woman who physically abused him until he was 3.  I was no better than her- in fact I was worse- I call myself a Christian.  I am a broken hot mess.  I can confess my heart to all of you because I am not fixed…I am not perfect… but I know that I have been forgiven…I am being restored…I am trying to fix the damage I have done and I have done a lot of damage.  Maybe this is your home- or was your home- or the home of someone you know.  Sadly, I think this is more common in Christian homes than we care to confess- but it’s a fact that I can not lie to you about (I mean why would I stand up here and share this with you- hello my name is Nina and I abuse my children) Who does that…I share it because
I share because when it all boils down-my influence, my words affect my children and in the end I am responsible for all that I do and say.  When I stand before God - I will be accountable for me. 
I share because I have hope- the hope of Christ in me- that because He is in me nothing is impossible to overcome.  He defeated death surely he can defeat my issues if I let Him.  And that is where I made a choice…I am letting Him.  And I am getting help right now, I am working on pulling that darkness out of me and letting the light of Christ fill me- and believe me- there is a lot of work to be done.  But God is a loving God and a merciful God, He created me (just like he created you) You are his beloved.  He made you for a purpose, to influence, to delight in and take joy over.  You may not feel it- but that doesn’t change the truth.  He is in pain, watching me in pain.  He is in pain watching my children be in pain- and He has provided a way out- and he provides a way out for everyone who wants it. 
Surrender to His love- as He holds out His hand to you.  Ask Him to forgive you and know that there is no sin to great He hasn’t ALREADY died for or forgiven- the price has already been paid for your choices…just believe it and accept His gift of forgiveness.  Let Him in to the dark places and dig out the garbage-let Him bring in light. He will transform you- He will make you better- He will help you to influence those lives around you in ways you could never imagine.  You don’t have to clean yourself up, stop doing things, fix yourself up- he does it all when you give Him your heart. 
I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to stand up here before you and ramble for 20 minutes.  I hope that I somehow brought you a little hope and encouragement and maybe influenced your thoughts just a bit!