Peace for the Precious

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Jen Hatmaker posted an article this week about the dangers of “precious” parenting, encouraging moms everywhere to take a page out of the 1970’s parenting manual and let go of the fabricated magic that we are all trying so desperately to create. You can read it by clicking here.

Oh, man. I completely get what she is saying.

Although I have worked through most of the madness by now, there have been birthday parties in years past where I was stressed to the max and antsy for the child I was supposedly celebrating to just get out of the way, already, so I COULD DECORATE AND PUT THE LITTLE CHALKBOARD SIGNS BY EACH PLATE OF FOOD TELLING EVERYONE WHAT THAT FOOD WAS!!!!

Because, honestly, how would my 4-year old guests KNOW that those were cupcakes on the cakestand unless there was a sign next to them that said “cupcakes”???!!!!

Obviously, there were days on the motherhood front when I was a freak whose priorities were totally out of whack. I needed an article like Jen’s to grab me by the shoulders and say “TONE IT DOWN A NOTCH, SISTER!”

Thus, I feel like her latest blog was very timely and needed, for scores of mothers who feel stressed and guilty by today’s parenting trends.

What I ALSO feel, however, is that there could be a lot of mamas out there who need a boost of another kind, and that’s what I am hoping to provide today.

You see, it didn’t take me too long, once I joined the blogosphere, to recognize that my family would most likely be categorized as what Jen calls “precious”.

We are, for better or worse, a family of “snowflakes” and if you HAD to categorize my parenting style as an automobile, it would probably, darn it, be a helicopter.

For instance, the birthday parties.

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The Halloween costumes.

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The earnestness of it all.

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And if I, as a precious mother, am not exceedingly careful in my study of these sorts of personal testimonies and opinions like Jen’s (and VERY exceedingly careful in the comments section!), what can easily happen is that I can take a simple blog post that was meant to encourage or enlighten or entertain and turn it into my own shame.

And that, my precious, is why I want to speak to you today.

Before I move on, I want to make it clear that I am in no way refuting Jen’s article. In fact, I LOVE her take on parenting.

Through her consistent warnings against helicoptering, I have learned to let my kids play in the front yard with me only hovering by the living room windows where they can’t see me instead of the front porch right next to them. I have been reminded to let them make mistakes and to teach them to clean up their own messes. I have been inspired to step back and let them do big things for God when the time comes.

These have been big lessons for me, and I am beyond grateful for the guidance and am ever hungry for more. We need to listen to other moms, moms who are different than us, moms who are the same as us, but most importantly, moms who have actually walked through motherhood. If motherhood is anything, it is a learning process, is it not?

But I am also very sympathetic to those who, with the best intentions, have found themselves feeling lonesome in their zeal.

As a precious mom, there have clearly been days when I needed a voice like Jen’s to help me “snap out of it” and to show me a different path, but then there have been other days when I simply needed someone to lift up my chin and tell me that I’m doing okay.

With the latter days in mind, I want to offer some relief to my fellow snowflakes, and I feel sure that Jen, who is a passionate advocate of sisterhood and who annually takes time out of her crazy life to talk with me about “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” on Facebook, would approve.

Let us begin.

Are you a Pinterest mom? Are you precious? Are you a snowflake?

Hi. I “get” you.

And while I “get” you, I can also see how the Pinterest circuit can be overwhelming to moms who aren’t wired in those ways and results in mom-guilt galore.

Not a mom on the planet is free from the temptation to compare our weaknesses to the strengths of others, and the strengths of the “precious” are displayed ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

If a non-Pinteresty mom is feeling down about herself and logs onto Facebook to see something like this….

party table

it would understandably come across as very showy and nauseating.

And who knows? A lot of this stuff might actually BE showy. I don’t know. Every mom is different, and even more complicated, every day is different. I’m sure there have been days where I was being showy, and the next day I wasn’t. I’m a sinner who just happens to have a good camera and a knack for color-coordinating. There are going to be issues.

So, even though it can wound the precious person’s enthusiasm, I understand the distaste.

Bunting? Scrapbooks? Shadow boxes and time capsules? To many, this stuff is TOO MUCH. It’s insanity.

But not necessarily to us, right?

Being “precious” is our wheelhouse. It’s not, on the pure days, something we pursue out of stress or one-upmanship, nor is it something we force ourselves to be. It’s just what we do, yo. It’s natural. It’s how we show love. It’s how we express creativity.

And while I am unfortunately not organized enough for a time capsule or crafty enough to sew or patient enough to make shapes out of food, there are traditions and practices and beliefs in my home that make other moms feel like total losers. I know this is true, because I have heard it o’er and o’er again, most usually after a birthday party.

Likewise, I have often allowed myself to feel like a loser compared to the incredible moms I know. Some can sew. Some make amazing meals for their family. Some are so beautifully health-conscious. Some are the epitome of FUN. Some can decorate cakes. Some are budget queens.

I might live big on birthday party days and catalog the fun for Pinterest, but what about all the days in between when I’m shuffling through the mess and buying chicken bits at the gas station for our supper?!

And I just can’t help but think that what all of us mamas have GOT to start recognizing in the midst of all this learning and growing and blogging and discussing, and what we HAVE to rest in at the end of the day, is this…

God has wired us all so very differently.

It may sound ridiculous, but for some of us weirdos the joy is actually found IN the magical details and the stress comes in feeling like we are alienating others with our decoupage. (I don’t actually know how to decoupage, but still. You know what I mean).

As a thoroughly precious person, I sincerely love making some extra magic for the world. I love whimsy. I LOVE CHILDHOOD. I am a Victorian, at heart, and even though I can learn from their chill vibe and use their strengths to help me be a better parent, I will never, ever be a 1970’s style mama whose kids roam around the neighborhood. I admire those types of moms. I love them. I kind of think they’re hilarious! But they are not me.

Do you know what?

We get excited about birds at our house. Like, we cluster around the living room windows and we count robins, for crying out loud.

We “fly” through the house listening to the score from the 2003 live-action “Peter Pan” movie.

We have special clothes just for the pumpkin patch.

We sing the soundtrack to “Les Miserables” AS A FAMILY, 3-year old included.

We discuss our family Halloween costumes all. year. long.

We even love photo shoot day! Well, most of us, anyway.

We are precious.

But here’s the thing that I have learned to hold onto after going through a very awkward and reclusive phase concerning my mothering skills, and I hope it will encourage you today, whether you are precious or not.

Get ready because, if you are a believer, this is the best news you’ll ever read (post gospel, of course)!…

God gave my kids to the exact type of mama they would need to grow up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

You see, there is a reason that Gideon, Rebekah, Betsie and Shepherd Gore have been placed under the wings of a precious mother. My influence, my heart, and my wiring is apparently a sovereign part of their story, and there is a great peace that comes with that knowledge.

If you poke me too hard, I will bleed. If you say mean things to me, I will cry. I’m not hard. I am a soft person and my heart aches just from opening my eyes in the morning.

And if you squeeze me, do you know what will happen? A birthday party is going to shoot out of my ears like confetti. It’s just who I am!

And because He is good, I fully believe that God will use all of these things to craft the adults that He intends my children to become.

I don’t want to lazily rest in my preciousness. There is a LOT of room for growth here, and through voices like Jen’s (and, okay, my husband’s), I have learned to not rush in and scoop up a crying child every single time they fall. (Even though I am dying to!). I have learned the difference between celebrating God for creating the child rather than making an idol out of the child. I have learned to very carefully toe the line between raising entitled, narcissistic kids and grateful, God-worshiping kids.

And so I will be the first to admit that, if a snowflake indulges completely in her snowflakiness, she can totally handicap her kids! THIS is the point Jen was making, and I have tucked it away to guide me. Listening to the un-precious ones has kept me from becoming a slave to my natural tendencies.

But there is a balance that keeps me from despair.

There is a place for my sort of oozy tenderness. There is a use for the sentimental creativity. There is maybe even an outlet for time capsules! We need more softness in this scary world, don’t you think?

And that’s where the precious ones can shine.

That was a lot of talking, but I share all of that to say this: if you, as a mama, are being true to the daily leading of the Spirit and are finding your parenting manual in the living and active Word of God, are your kids going to be okay?

Even if you have themed birthday parties?

Even if you still slather your 8-year old in baby lotion after his bath? (What? Did I just say that out loud?)

Even if you do photo shoots and start planning for holiday wardrobes months in advance?

You betcha.

It takes all sorts of mamas to make the world go round, and even if we never line up on the tertiary subjects, we can relax in our common anchor, the most important thing in the motherhood equation, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we as precious moms have that, if our earnestness is based on a heart that adores children and this magical season of life, if our over-the-topness springs forth from a heart that finds the sanctify of human life something that starts at home, if we are humble enough to listen and grow and change, then we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Let’s listen closely to the wizened voices of the ones who have blazed the path for us and draw from their unique strengths and add their wisdom to our arsenals…

but let’s also never be ashamed to be the sort of precious that God created us to be.

Pinterest is counting on us.

~

Three cheers today for all moms, and I hope this brings relief to any readers who needed it. These motherhood topics can be so very sensitive, so please use extra discretion in your comments! I see all comments, but only those that lead to edification will be published. Thank you for visiting, and if you’d like to receive almost-daily updates and stories from Mrs. Gore and family, find us on Facebook!

If you’ve never commented here and your comments are not going through, I am away from my computer. I’ll try to have everything moderated by tonight! Many thanks!

Life Abundant

~ written several weeks ago at the close of a wonderfully soul-stirring day ~

Today was one of those days that used to fuel me.

I went shopping with my Mom at the most venerable shopping center in Tulsa, a beautiful and aged outdoor plaza with all of my favorite stores gathered in one place – Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Saks 5th Avenue, Williams Sonoma, to name a few – not to mention my favorite little eatery in the state, Queenie’s Plus Cafe.

I had a delicious burger for lunch that somehow fed not only my stomach but my soul. The cows they use are REAL or something and that beef just ministers to me all the way to my stomach, as does the Jack cheese and the special sauce and the fancy non-iceberg lettuce and the juicy tomatoes that surely must have been plucked yesterday from an organic farm in America’s heartland. “Holy cow” is an understatement.

I tried on every article of clothing that tickled my fancy at Anthropologie.

I exchanged something I got for Christmas for something I really, really wanted and skipped out of the store like Mary Tyler Moore.

I played toys at Pottery Barn Kids.

I had afternoon coffee and a slice of chocolate cream pie that was other-wordly and surely must have been baked in heaven’s oven.

I rummaged through an antique/junk store to my heart’s content and made a mental wishlist of the 52 treasures I could find a place for in my home.

I enjoyed…nay, relished…the company of my Mom and “my girls” (I squeal a little everytime I say that), laughing at Miss Sunday’s bossing and opining, marveling at Betsie’s beauty and sweetness, and discussing life with the woman who means more to me than any other on the planet.

It was simply lovely, in every possible way.

And then I came home to the normal hustle and bustle and preschoolish chaos of my life and as the day wound down to a close, my husband and children congregated on the couch to read the next chapter of “Dangerous Journey“, the beautifully illustrated children’s version of “Pilgrim’s Progress”….

…a Celtic instrumental rendition of “Be Thou My Vision” and then “Nearer My God to Thee” was playing in the background, and I sucked in a breath at the beauty and simplicity of the moment as I spiraled into that realm where my thoughts and convictions and imagination resides.

My worlds have collided this past year. The world that I used to be immersed in, where I went to church on Sunday and Wednesday and then spent money and climbed the religious and social and financial and educational ladder on Monday thru Saturday could no longer keep pace with the Spirit’s work in my life. For a couple of years now, He has consistently been calling me out and introducing me to a worldview that is, crazy enough, actually incahoots with the words I have been proclaiming since I “walked the aisle” at the age of 7 and, after all these years of drifting through the American version of Christianity, He has demanded a change in me. And true to His gracious nature, He has since been performing that change in me, in spite of my sinful tendencies to ignore Him and store up for myself treasures on this earth. The result, as I mentioned earlier, is that those things that used to fuel me are now seen in a very different light.

My Mom and I discussed this very thing today as we mozied down the sidewalks of Utica Square and marveled over the fact that we just no longer spend like we used to, mindlessly buying every sale item that fits us and every book, movie and magazine that grabs our attention and all the irresistable kitchen goods that catch our eye at Williams Sonoma. In fact, we actually avoided that very store today so we wouldn’t even be tempted to buy anything, a practice we would have found laughable in the not so distant past…

And the plumb craziest thing about it is that I’m loads happier now than I was then — my Mom is, too. The freedom I am finding leaves me dumbfounded and gives me the power to enjoy life at its simplest. I couldn’t be happier if I tried.

And as my children flank their Papa and hear about Christian’s pilgrimage to the Celestial City, I have a sense that our journey is only just beginning…

the prospect both thrills and terrifies me.

Will I continue to give up and let go of the things of the world to follow hard after God?

Could I happily downsize to a smaller and older house to accomplish more for the Kingdom?

Can I give up more of my time and energy to allow more children into our home and commit to teach and nurture them for life?

When I say I ‘love’ my church body and call them my ‘family’, am I really willing to shoulder their burdens and share in their financial struggles and care for them in their old age?

Am I really willing to consistently live like a pilgrim in the smack-dab middle of Vanity Fair?

…to be honest, I don’t know…

I seem to have a chronic case of the “Lord I believe; help me in my unbelief!” mentality.

But I am begging for grace to make it through each day in a way that denies my own plans and desires and glorifies God in a Biblical and convincing way. I want to be faithful more than ever…

but I am ever sinful and afraid that He will ask too much of me.

What a faithless and sorry excuse for a sojourner.

And yet I know without a doubt that here on the narrow and difficult road – that avoids Williams Sonoma most of the time but not all of the time (even sojourners have gotta cook!) – there is life and life abundant to be found.

I’m just praying that I still believe that tomorrow.

And the next day…

and the next day…

and the next day…

I hope you believe it, too.