The good wife

“For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”
(Psalms 108:4 NLT)

At this time last year I was still committed to home daycare with no end in sight. I had a daily roster of 5 kids plus my own. My daily mantra was just get through till nap time. The constant day in and day out routine took a toll; on my house and my heart. When I felt weary I just kept telling myself to dig in deeper…die to my selfish desires and just power through. After all, I was being a good Christian wife! I was home, contributing to the finances in a way that would leave me still able to run my household smoothly and efficiently.
Except for it never really worked out that way. Most days I couldn’t even go upstairs at ALL until after the kids had all gone home. The laundry just NEVER seems done in my house, even now. Everything would just pile up. The cleaning that I scheduled myself to do on certain days ( that was beyond the daily dishes/upkeep I was doing constantly) more likely was saved for the weekends if at all. I would scour Pinterest on how to organize and manage my home. I ordered multiple e-books on the matter that glorified being the “keeper of the home” and usually the Proverbs 31 woman. I chatted with friends about how to budget, menu plan, organize, schedule, budget, menu plan, organize, schedule, budget, menu plan, organize…you get the picture. Always coming up short in the expectations I was setting for myself, always left feeling like I wanted more which always led to feeling so guilty. Didn’t I have it all?

Having become a Christian when I was 17 and not being raised in a Christian home, I had ( and STILL HAVE) a strong desire to create a kind of atmosphere in my home that is centered on faith and family. I want to get it right. Right? I have found that at retreats and women’s ministry events I feel out of place. Like an imposter. Even in the women’s section at Christian bookstores it seems specifically geared toward a certain kind of woman. The books are jacketed with covers of pastel colors and flowers. Paisley prints and pictures of warm steaming coffee mugs. So with a definite picture in my head of what a “right” Christian woman should be, I set out to train myself and make
myself fit the mold. Ultimately it led to why I even started this blog to begin with ( read my first post here:
https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/waking-up/ ).
Trying to be someone else led to depression. Self loathing and a downward spiral of continual failure.

There are lots of women who thrive in these ways and are blessed by that kind of stuff, but I am not the pastel, paisley mommy stitching to the tune of a hymn.
I am tattooed. I like listening to everything from hard core to rap. I say bad words sometimes. Most times. Sometimes I get mad. Blurred vision, italian rage, crazy mad!
And sad.
And selfish.
I have real life, ugly issues to deal with like lust, temptation, and gossip. Gluttony.
Slavery to my food addiction.
All unflattering to talk about openly…certainly not pretty and feminine. Certainly not gracing the covers of any books at the Christian bookstore.

Could it be that maybe God knows this and loves me anyway? That His love really is unfailing and stretches further and further beyond what I could ever imagine? That His faithfulness reaches past all my attempts and fitting a mold and sets me free to just be me. His creation? His daughter.

I’m set to go to a spring retreat this weekend with the ladies from my church. I’m hoping to have a great time and learn something new. I am going to have a good attitude and an open mind…but I’m not going to allow myself to fall into the trap of feeling “less than” because I don’t fit a mold.

I am so grateful that my life looks different now than it did a year ago. God has softened my heart on a lot of issues and is stretching me in many more ways than I could have guessed. For the first time in my grown up life I feel good about myself and confident in who God created me to be. Even with a messy house.

Blinded by the light

I’ve been stating from the first blog post I ever put up, that this “journey” is about my pursuit of a meaningful make over. It is more that just losing weight or slapping on some make up. Beyond learning how to shop for my shape or find more flattering ways to wear my hair. Though I am interested in beauty rituals and think they are important for self-confidence as a woman, the main event has been the dissection of my heart.
The exposure of the whys and how’s I was allowing myself to operate in an attempt to understand and evolve. Above any other motivators, the thought of staying stuck in my dark, miserable cave of self loathing had become too much. I had reached my limit.
I will throw myself out in the wind and be vulnerable again, creative again, and honest again and again and again. Because I know that there is real life to live out here. That’s all I have really…my honest experience. That is what I share here. A REAL account of trying to be the woman I was created to be. Cutting out all the B.S. expectations we all stick on ourselves as women, wives and mothers. The “pinteresty”, fake, pressure-y ways we compare and judge each other. I believe there is MORE to this womanhood than looking good and appearing good.

This has opened me up to a lot of new experiences. One of which being the 12 step recovery group I’ve committed to. Last night recovery class was intense. We are working on the fifth step which is, ” We’ve admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

“… God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)

There was lots of talk about walking in darkness, and exposing ourselves and our stuff in the light. Lots of talk about hiding and functioning with denial. Lots of talk about confession and admission. So many of us neatly packaging and tucking away our issues instead of dealing with them until we reach a point where we can’t. I heard someone say last night, “Self deception keeps us going because it works for us, until it doesn’t.”

How true.

The majority of my adult life was lived in this way. I think we are all guilty of deceiving ourselves at some point…it looks different for all of us. For me it was the nonchalant way that I dealt with my body image and self-worth. Making fun of myself and acting like it was fun to just go ahead and be fat and eat whatever I felt like. I had accepted being the fat woman. I had turned myself over to it.

It worked for me for a long time- until it didn’t.

Walking in the light, means practicing truth. It means that I am no longer deceiving or hiding. It means I am opened up and free to have intimacy with God and other people. Telling the TRUTH sets me free and may also help others to be free. It’s contagious. The light is warm and it thaws even the most hardened and frozen parts of myself even though it is sometimes painfully uncomfortable.
Being open always is. It is scary because honesty and openness may leave us feeling rejected or humiliated…but that fear that keeps us in the dark, keeps us living lies. Deceiving ourselves.

Yesterday I posted a cartoon about butterflies. The transformation that caterpillars go through in a dark cocoon to become what they are truly intended to be is not pretty. They actually dissolve into a liquid form and then reemerge into something totally different. Did you catch that? They dissolve into mush. In a dark place. We must surrender. Dissolve. Trust the process. Sometimes the dark is necessary to reemerge as we are intended to be in the light.

Living in the light is a choice I’ll have to make daily. Maybe even hourly. But with each new day here, I’m realizing its worth it.

Breaking free

20130423-072832.jpg

In his blog this morning, David Hayward ( also known as the naked pastor) shared this cartoon and a wonderful encouragement for those of us (all) who are in the process of transformation. He wrote,” You must break free! To remain where you are will be the death of you. You intuitively know this. But we hesitate because we predict the trauma. We foresee the crisis.”

The scary part really is in the surrender to the process.

I was really inspired by this little drawing today…knowing that I feel like I am in the process of a transformation…feeling like I can actually see it through for the first time…it’s exciting and terrible at the same time. To remain where I was would surely be death. To become who I’m meant to be requires a death too…

I would like to share a poem that I already posted a couple months ago but it feels right to share it again.

The Unexpected Study of Me

My name means worthy of love.
Believed for so long that it was affirmation of some clearance rack value.
A bonus prize… useful for something someday realized.
Eventually this would ring true.
Somehow?

Today has whispered into my ear.
At last, this meaning I see
could be bigger than me.
A prophecy declared from the Almighty?
Words spoken over me from infancy?

Mandi. Worthy of love.

I must believe this. Claim this. Deserve this. Embrace this.

Labored for so long.
Behind the shades,
in dark rooms, in pain.
Heavy and burdened.
Hours logged.
Time was hogged.
Downward spiral of toxic seething bile.

Something new is turning, crowning, and mounting.

Fire that has raged war,
pressing and urging…
Burned down all these walls
bound with thick sturdy purging.
Ropes that are braided with cords
of deep rooted and tangled words.
Said flippantly.
Scarring.
Muttering hard.
Seared into me like a red hot branding iron.
Owning me. False identity.

Embers burned,
oranges and reds.
Snapping and crackling.
Knots untying in my head.
Smoking, slowing, and finally cooling.

Signs of spring now emerging.

Fresh and tender stems cutting through… cropping up from piles of ash.
A breeze on its way, kicking up dust, lifting pains.
Fresh, fibrous, sweet and raw.
This newborn relief.
Baby belief.

Value and worth.
Thoughts, talents, skills and abilities.
Waking up from a deep frost.
Weak and wobbling in fragility.
Fat and sedentary from lack of use, comfortable self abuse.

Upcycle these virtues…rely on them again.
Let the renovation begin…

Each limb, each crease and roll.
From the inside out.
Lord, let your artistry flow.
Come alive and emerge.
Casting away all doubt throughout.
Your knives and tools sharp but subtle.
Carving and molding.
Shaping. Holding.

Building.

Repurposing my heart beyond these limits I’ve been living in.
This voyage, this song brewing,
pens moving.

Something stirring.

Image

#mygirl was the official photographer for my club @anytimefitness_northreno free workout event today...she got some great action shots and video...but this sneaky selfie she took is my fave.  #mybaby #mydaughter❤️ #thosefreckles

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