I Hate Children

Believe me I know how bad that sounds.

I’m not a bitter, childless person that doesn’t understand kids. I’m not angry because I just sat next to a screaming child on a plane or restaurant. I didn’t just get slimed in public with various bodily fluids by an anonymous child.

I’m a mom to two beautiful children. And I’m a human being. And the thought flashed into my mind at the height of a very stressful and frustrating week of parenting.

I hate children I thought. There has to be more for me in this life.

In the midst of two kids that run around the kitchen island screaming and happily chasing each other. On a day where I was tired of not being able to hear myself think. On a day where I was simply dog-tired of telling my near 2-year-old to push the kitchen chairs back to the table and get out of the fridge.

After several consecutive days without a break and the bathroom mirror offered no comfort.

I don’t hate children. I wholeheartedly love children. I full-on dearly love my own and other people’s children. I just hate me sometimes.

I get tired of the same thing over and over again. I get tired of being a human kleenex. I get tired of keeping my toddler from jumping from couch to couch and standing on end tables. And climbing bookshelves. And eating apples and leaving a trail of sticky apple bits everywhere.

I get tired of looking at the smeared hand prints all over the tv screen. And the front door. And the back door. And the refrigerator.

I get tired of picking up stuffing out of couch cushions. I’m tired of not having anything nice. And endless toys. And sinks of endless dishes. And baskets of endless laundry. I get tired of cleaning up one mess only to be replaced by another.

When will this stage be over?

Can’t they just leave me alone? Can’t I just get two minutes to myself? Am I going to be locked down forever? When do I get to have fun? When do I get to be somebody?

I’m not proud of these thoughts but they creep back in from time to time. It’s usually when I’m PMS’d to the gills. But not always.

It’s so hard to be a saint. I have had a lot of wonderful times with my kids. But I have to think that even Mother Theresa needed a break once in a while.

So how did I get here and what do I do about it? I get to choose, you know. We always get to choose.

I’m here because I’m not taking very many breaks. I’m a bit of a tight wad and we are very close to paying off our last debt and I really want to get that knocked out. I choose social functions very carefully because of sitter and food costs so I could probably relax a little bit on that. Once a week maybe.

I’m a lifetime subscriber to mom guilt. I can’t seem to find much of a way around it. I feel guilty for taking time to myself and I should just stop that. Because I know how good it feels to get a little separation (for both the kids and me)

I have a gym membership with childcare and I haven’t been using it. I could never seem to find the right combo around nap times and fitness classes and it fell off the priority list. I need to go back now that the baby is more predictable. Or nix the membership and go do something with the extra cash.

You want to know what I’ve been doing all summer to bring myself out of the kid blues? It’s been probably the greatest discovery of my parenthood.

I have asked God to please show me my family the way He sees them.

And more importantly, I have asked God to please show ME the way He sees me.

That is the magic pill where almost instantly my kids look a lot cuter and a little older. And it helps me feel like less of a loser. And it makes me appreciate the extra income my husband is bringing in instead of groaning that I’ll have the kids alone for several more days again. The groans are a little quieter at least. Probably not gone. But simmered down.

I know I will miss this and there are days when I absolutely love watching the boys screaming and chasing each other around. It is a beautiful chaos, but mom needs the house to be quiet sometimes too.

And as a general rule, I don’t write when I’m freaking out. But on a blog titled RealHonestMom, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the ugly places in parenting too. That was my week.

If you’re looking for imperfection and honesty, I’m your girl.

scream now

And just to recap: I do not hate children. Repeat: do NOT hate children.

How do you get through the hard stages?

Leading At Vacation Bible School

Kids of similar age in a big room all look the same. How on earth am I going to be able to tell which ones are mine? And isn’t it all pretty much babysitting other peoples’ kids for a week?

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Those were my initial thoughts before I decided to take the plunge and volunteer for Vacation Bible School at The People’s Church. TPC is a big church and over a thousand kids attend VBS.

My own kids take off running anytime they see a lone stretch of hallway, so with a group this size I was scared I might lose some!

But I really have a heart for kids and I’ve always wanted to help at VBS. They are always needing help in Kids Ministry, so I wanted to stretch myself a little bit and try it.

I have never thought of myself as a leader. It is so much easier to follow. I can’t lead my way out of a paper sack, much less take the reins and teach Bible lessons! And can I just admit I don’t know a lot of the Bible stories?

I was thankful to have a smaller group of 7 kids.

I didn’t realize the lesson plans were sent to me by email, so I hadn’t looked at the first lesson beforehand. I was teaching cold with no experience, so my first lesson was a little awkward. My ears were probably red, but I got through it! (Guess who I asked for help? That’s right, He came through.) No rotten tomatoes. And only one rolled around on the carpet!

 And 7 kids may not sound like a lot, unless you’re in a crowded hallway with a thousand other kids in transit.

I had two great youth leaders to help me get the kids from station to station. I was really impressed with how they handled the kids. (I wasn’t expecting that experience to be bad, I just didn’t expect it to be so good!)

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I was so grateful for their help. And the kids really took to them, the youth leaders gave a lot of piggy back rides to and fro after we got rolling.

I also saw several youth leaders assisting kids with special needs. It was beautiful to see that care and compassion as they cradled the kids in their laps.

I will say that on the first day, I was grateful for the name tags the kids were wearing, but I had no problem knowing which ones were mine, and they grew on me right away.

I loved talking to them and asking them about themselves. Some will tell you their life story at a mile a minute, and some need a little nudge. I was able to talk with a lot of different kids at VBS. I listened to a child that was sad about a divorce situation… and I heard the excitement in another as they told me about how they love to draw. It made me wish that VBS were a month long. There’s just nothing better than building up a kid.

I may have barely scratched the surface of what it’s like to be a teacher, but I know how quickly kids can grab your heart.

By pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I got to see a high-energy week full of activities, beautiful kids hearts, and roomfuls of laughter with great big smiles.  There were no doubt times of awkwardness. I’m not much of a dancer, and I didn’t know the songs they sang, or the dance moves. But by weeks end, I was boogying right along. This week also got me more intentional about studying the Word, and I got to pass it along to them.

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Here is my sweet group! The kids may never know they gave me my first initiation into VBS, but I am so grateful, and I know I will never forget them!

And for all of the countless other leaders and staff that pulled this awesome week off, I can’t wait to get this t-shirt printed up:

Nobody says VBS is going to be easy. It’s just going to be worth it.

wink wink!

I leave you with a quick video of all of the kids singing at the end of the week. Please take the time to invest in our youth! The life it blesses could be yours.

Thanks for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moms’ Night Out

I take notes like crazy. I keep a notebook in my purse and I’ve taken notes on the back of junk mail envelopes and church programs. I just hear so many things that strike me and I want to remember them.

I love to go back through my notes to have those a-ha moments all over again. During Beth Moore’s bible study on Esther, I wrote something down that she said, and it came back to me on my moms night out.

It was: We incorrectly think that some people have everything they want.

I have sat across from some of the most naturally beautiful women you’ll ever see, and I’ve heard them talk about all the different ways they feel bad about themselves.

One mom I know said she is really self-conscious about the acne she’s struggled with for years. I’ve never noticed it. Another mom talked about her sagging stomach after having children. She’s very slender and I never even thought she could feel that way or even have that problem. It’s astonishing.

I guess sometimes we think that someone who is so beautiful must be happy and have the perfect life. But that simply isn’t the case.

Movie Ticket

On Mother’s Day weekend, our Mom to Mom church group got together to see the movie Moms’ Night Out. There were more than 30 of us. And it was a fantabulous joyride of many parallels.

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In the movie, we meet Allyson. She’s a scarcely-read mom blogger and over extended housewife with three little ones. We see her try to keep up with the house and get the kids to church by herself. As soon as she puts out one proverbial kid-fire, another one immediately takes its place.

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At one point in all of the chain-reaction ridiculousness, she feels bad about herself. She has the kids, the husband, the house, the fabulous mini-van. She has everything she’s ever wanted, but she’s unhappy. Because she feels like she’s doing a terrible job and she can’t get it all done. And she’s put herself on the distant back burner. (Sound familiar?)

She decides to get out and do something for herself and she plans a girls night out with a few friends, while the men are in charge of watching the kids. There are trips to the bowling alley, hospital, tattoo parlor and of course, jail.

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You will laugh. You will laugh some more. You will laugh some more. More. And then a wonderful, tender moment comes from an unexpected place.

Without giving too much away, I’ll tell you one of the things that really stuck with me. In reference to moms, someone says:

“You guys spend so much time beating yourselves up, it must be exhausting.”

So then you will cry. But isn’t that the truth? We do this, we do that. We do so much, yet we still feel like we aren’t enough.

This movie will make you feel better. With cackles and snorts of laughter. There were times the whole theater said “Awwwww.” And then there were knowing tears and more laughs.

We live in a world full of illusions, and a world that champions achieving more. Faster. It’s no wonder we are so hard on ourselves. You might not have that house, those kids, that man or that fabulous mini-van. But you don’t have to.

To an outsider, Allyson might look like she has the perfect life. It was refreshing to see that it is the farthest thing from perfect. And the farthest thing from what she thinks about her life. I’m not happy her life kind of sucks. I’m just glad to see her as a human walking in the exact same shoes that I have on.

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After the movie our group went out to eat so we could chat more. When you learn more about your neighbors story, the walls of perfection come down and that’s the good stuff right there, I don’t care who you are. We got to enjoy a much-needed night of laughter and sprouting friendships.

The movie also shows that you never know what may be going on in the mind of someone that looks like they have it all figured out. We all need community and support. The people we assume have it all together might be the ones that need our friendship most of all.  

Our mom’s night out gave me a better appreciation for my job, my kids, my husband, other moms and a whole new perspective on spontaneous child’s artwork on the walls… Allyson came up with an amazing solution for that one!

God did not make a mistake in giving your little ones their mother, my friend.  You are enough. Happy Mother’s Day.

**Movie pictures courtesy of Apnatimepass.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healer

It was over 25 years ago. Do I really need to air my dirty laundry now?

Shouldn’t I just keep my Stepford Wife game face on? Why should I even write this? What if people see me differently? Won’t it be awkward?

I heard a wise woman say that sometimes like a breached baby, God will push on you to try and get you to move. I have felt the push to write this and I started it a hundred times, but I never had the guts to finish it.

My first clue was the day we heard a survivor talk about it in my large moms group. You could hear a pin drop. I felt all of the silent tears in the room falling in unison with mine. It is widespread. And it is heartbreaking.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. And I get it. For almost all of my life, I have known the torturous mindset that follows your heart and mind, long after the physical has passed.

I know what it’s like to be a young girl scared in bed at night, with your covers clenched around your neck. Waiting for steps on the stairs, scared to fall asleep.

And I know the anger that later comes from knowing you had to grow up that way.

I know the self-consciousness of your body and wanting to keep it hidden in oversized clothes. And quitting sports so you don’t have to show the movement of your developing body.

I know the tears. When you pull away from relationships just before they start to form any real meaning, and you have the audacity to feel lonely or left out.

I know the anger. The fire-burning anger that lies beneath. Waiting for any opportunity to strike. And lash out at anyone who will take it.

I know about feeling robbed of the sacredness of a physical touch, and the attitude that your body is no more sacred than a dumpster.

I feel the heartbreak of knowing that I was not violated by just one man in my childhood.

I know the mental prison. You aren’t good enough. You’re dumb. You’re fat. You weren’t enough to be held sacred. And no one will ever want damaged goods.

I know what it’s like to wake up one day and suddenly realize that your siblings or other loved ones could be next.

I know the embarrassment and shame of living in a small town when it all goes down and privacy isn’t an option.

I know how maddening it is to feel like your childhood was traded for another’s selfish choices.

I know what it feels like to want to run up the length of the tallest mountain and scream with your loudest voice from the highest peak with the tightest clenched fist: “YOUR ONLY JOB…. WAS TO LOVE ME!!!!!”

I know all about the tragedy of this. Because now I’m an adult, and I know how easy it is to love a precious child. And want to protect them at any cost.

It was a lengthy and important part of the journey,  but the point of this is not to share the sad inner workings of my adolescent mind. The point of this is to share the happy ending.

I coasted through life just fine, I grew up to be a fully functional adult. I graduated from college and kept busy with a good job, an awesome husband, and our first baby.

We started to go through a tough financial and emotional time, and I felt drawn back to church for fellowship.

Soon after that, I heard a woman that had a long history of sexual abuse get up and tell her powerful story to the congregation. I was so moved by her, and I knew if she could overcome all that she did, then I had my own work to do.

I went through counseling in my younger years, but I wasn’t really emotionally mature enough for it to be effective. Though I was fine on the surface as an adult, I knew I was still dealing with the fallout of what happened to me.

I went back and dealt with it again in counseling. I did a lot of praying. It was so hard to go back to that time. But it got me here.

Do you remember the old “out-of-control teen” boot camps on Sally Jesse Raphael way back when? I used to love watching those.

The “before” was uncomfortable and hard to watch. But I loved seeing the “after.”

After they found out what was causing the teens to act out and started to deal with it, they always looked so calm and peaceful afterwards. The angry scowls were gone, and they were relaxed and at peace.

Here is a recent picture of me. I don’t like taking pictures much, but I do like this one. It is my “after.”

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The only thing that healed me was accepting Jesus. I tried being tough and healing myself for so many years. But there was no way I could do it alone. Only Jesus brought my broken heart through it. I now know love and a beautiful, priceless inner peace.

We all have something that has hurt us. But you get to choose what to do with it.

I can’t change what happened. I can only be a testimony to others and offer hope through my story.  If I can lead just one person to the light at the end of the tunnel, then revealing all of this about myself is worth it.

I approached the woman that shared her story with the congregation that day, and I asked her if she would baptize me. She agreed. She reached me by sharing her story. So I hope to reach you by sharing mine.

Below is the video of my emotional baptism. The band played “Healer” afterwards and it was so fitting. It was three years ago, and I’m still going strong. Healed by my Healer.

There is light at the end of your tunnel my friend. And you are worthy of being held sacred. Reach out for help if you need it. I guarantee you aren’t alone.

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You
I trust in You

I believe You’re my healer
I believe You are all I need…….

 

 

 

 

I’m Coming Out

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Photo by Eric Magnuson

We can never get enough of someone coming out of the closet can we?

It may or may not be equally shocking, but I’m coming out of the spiritual closet.  I am a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and I am proud of it.

Whaaaaa?  Audra???? Really??? It certainly doesn’t align with my early life.  I shunned churches for many years, and I was pretty open about it back when I knew everything.  It was my opinion that churches were full of hypocrites and sinners.  And I was right.  Churches will always be full of hypocrites and sinners.  And they should be.   It is a place where broken people come to find fellowship and healing.

Elitists and atheists always need that proof.  Oh yeah? How do you know there is a God? How do you know yours is the right one?  I don’t know how I know, I just know.  You can berate and try to argue, but it’s a feeling and I just know.  I know what is true for me and your theories won’t matter.

I used to be so busy pointing fingers at the ones that preached one thing and lived another, that I completely lost sight of all of the good people in church.  Is every church perfect?  No.  Because it’s full of people.  And we’re all on a different place in the journey.  There are people there that are just going through the motions, but the people that are farther along in their walk make wonderful mentors and friends.  And they’re all human.

I once sat in a service and watched my pastor get up and confess to the congregation that he suffered from depression because of his habit of people-pleasing.  He apologized to the church, saying that it affected his ability to lead well, but that he was going to change that.  He gave us his life story that included many seasons of loss and heartache.  He gained hundreds of new followers after that.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a church I can get behind.  All of us, one big happy dysfunctional family! I don’t think I’ve ever gained more respect for someone than I did that day.

Well, what kind of God would allow children to starve and be abused?  There are so many things about this life that are hard to understand.  My two cents? I believe one of the reasons God created man was to take care of each other.  There’s no better place to see the beauty of humanity than in that of a crisis.  Often times, victims become advocates to help others.  Are you doing your part to help your neighbor?

I tried things my way for a great many years before I finally gave up the reins.  Years of self-medicating, acting tough and lashing out at innocent people did nothing to help me move on and get past being a victim of abuse.  Shutting people out and finding any excuse to prevent any real relationships didn’t help either.  Numbing the dull ache in my heart with alcohol didn’t work.  Avoiding the subject altogether with the distraction of a new beautiful baby didn’t work either.  I finally surrendered.  The only thing that did anything to move the needle on my emotional health was accepting Jesus into my heart.  THE ONLY THING. 

I was baptized on November 13, 2011.  Was it magic miracle water? No.  Am I perfect now? Definitely not.  Do I feel like a giant burden was lifted off of my shoulders? Absolutely.  What a relief.  It’s not in my hands anymore, and I am covered.  It doesn’t mean that I get to walk out in front of a bus tomorrow, but if my time is up I’m not worried.

I don’t know if it’s alright with the cool kids to announce to the world that you are changed and it’s because of God.  I find the older and wiser I get, the less I care what people think.  I’m still the same old person in a lot of ways.  But I’m tired of hiding myself from people because I no longer have a reason to.  I’m not mad at everyone anymore, and I’m finally free to be a good wife and mom.  I want to give credit where credit is due.

I used to go to church and just quietly observe before I was ready to really participate.  I wasn’t sure at first, but now there isn’t any doubt.  I hereby declare myself a certified “Bible banger.”  I volunteer regularly.  I audibly sing when it’s time to sing, I pray with my eyes closed, and I keep them closed.  No more peeking!  And no more closet.

I used to think this song was such a rip off because it wasn’t about a romantic love.  What a waste, I thought.  It came on the radio the other day while I was out running errands, and now I totally get it.  It’s the chance to say the ultimate thank you.