Work-In-Progress, Guest Post by Bridgette Tomlin

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I find myself grappling on a consistent basis with the concept of selfishness and rest–how the two seem to war within the heart of most men and women, and most definitely within the heart of this momma. The theme of God’s shaping of my last few years has involved Sabbath, rest, time in His presence. I’ve prayed about it; I’ve thought about it; I’ve read about it; I’ve blogged about it; I’ve taught about it. The topics of rest and spending time in His presence comes up in most conversations I have, whether formally or casually, primarily because most people in our culture don’t ever get enough of either.

I’ll be honest; I’m still a work-in-progress in these areas.

This past December, we, like many families, had multiple weeks where at least one person had a runny nose, was running a fever, wrestled with infection, or a combination of all the above. Just when it seemed we were all well, finally giving illness the boot, another kid would begin to sneeze. As the COO (chief of operations) of our humble abode, I was flat worn out! Little kids with runny noses and heightened needs and levels of whining were taking their toll on me. And, shocking as it may seem, I began to grumble. At one point I turned to my husband and said, “I simply am not fit to be a good mother. I’m far too selfish for this. I do not want to wipe one more runny nose. I am in desperate need of a full night’s sleep. And I, quite frankly, need to be anywhere but here.”

All I could think about at that point was what I wanted for myself. I had been consumed with thinking of everyone else’s needs and wants to such an extent that I was beyond help myself! Like most moments of utter desperation, I ran to the safest place in my home: the master bedroom’s closet. Falling on my face before the Lord with a panic-filled cry, I threw a grown-up girl’s temper tantrum in His presence. “I’m too selfish to be a good mother, Lord! I just can’t do anymore…”

I’m not sure how the Lord speaks to you but generally I hear Him say things to me with such candor, it’s like a best friend is sitting beside me, speaking to me with ease. “Well, if you’re going to be selfish, be selfish with My presence.” (Do you believe God has the capacity to be sarcastic? I believe He has a sense of humor when we come to Him, acting as children.) “Be selfish in your time with Me, My lavishing on you, My doting on you. You’re less likely to come to this desperate state again if you’ll be selfish with My presence.”

It feels selfish to steal away with Him when there’s so much to be done, right? But let us follow the psalmists here who said with total abandon, “My soul longs…no, it FAINTS, for the courts of the Lord for there I will go from strength to strength, not ‘fumes to fumes’!” Truly one hour in His presence can change the course of your life!

Feeling selfish today? Take that selfishness to a place where it can actually add value and strength to your life. Find yourself with your Heavenly Father’s undivided attention. Strength is waiting for you.

“How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.” (Psalm 84: 1-2, 5-7,10)

Seeking from a selfish heart,

Bridgette

Tomlin{MWP}-45Bridgette Tomlin is wife to a bona fide traveling evangelist & revivalist (yes, there are still a few out there!) and mother of two adorable blonde-headed girls. But she also carries a call to challenge the follower of Jesus Christ to a deeper walk through her writing, speaking, and music. One word description? Determined. Bridgette’s ministry, both alongside her husband and on her own, digs deep and yet is laced with quick wit and humor. Bridgette also has a heart to reach out to the wives of full-time ministers and recently launched a unique ministry called Sanctuary. Read more from her blog spot at www.ctministries.com/news-events

Moms Need Moms

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Sunday morning my dear friend Chelsea and I had uninterrupted time in a car which is worth its weight in gold for busy moms like us. Since she has been in my life she has given birth twice and I have held each one thinking I was an honorary aunt. That somehow those redheaded babies were mine in some small way. This is the family of God, the one that says you belong to me and I belong to you simply because we are His children. And to be like Him we must become like the little ones that we are trying so hard to raise. Arms outstretched waiting to be picked up, so trusting, and needy. But, we are not real good at this needy business.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 18:3 NIV)

As we talked the topic of motherhood came up, but not in the way you would think. It wasn’t two women talking about their children and our roles and questioning our sanity in the fine art juggling life, marriage, and roles. It was two women talking about our need for a mother. My mom is two hours and a phone call away, and hers passed on when she was much too young. Fifteen seems way too young and way too awkward to no longer have a woman to teach you, shape you, and hug you. I can’t imagine.

In a quick car ride words spilled out, took on shapes, and reminded me what it means to acknowledge an aching need. A mother who still needs to be mothered at times. What flowed out from a motherless void was a mother of four saying that it’s hard and sometimes she is still mad because her mother was taken too soon. I swallowed hard because I know how hard it was to say that. Hard to say, harder to feel, the place where we give room for a grownup heart to feel mad and figure out what to do with feelings we wished we didn’t have.

Somehow this monumental moment, the day we became a mother, flooded our hearts with a need for our moms. The one who brushed our hair and spanked us, the one who cradled us and rocked us to sleep. Becoming a mother made us more aware of our need for a mother. Who would have known that need would stir in our hearts when we cradled miniature versions of ourselves? I feel so blessed that my mom was with me at the hospital when I gave birth to my daughters. Two things happened that day, a deeper bond and love stronger than I have ever know between this tiny human and me…and a greater love and respect for my mom.

I have found that sometimes other women take turns with us, and stand in the gap when our mothers are hours away, or an eternity away. This need, this desire, this aching within the heart of women is the gift of nurture, to be both the giver and the recipient. Sometimes you adopt a widow and walk with her through the loss of her other half, you stand by her side and help her cry. You become the daughter she never had and take turns nurturing the generations, those far ahead of you and the ones still hanging on your leg giving you sloppy kisses. There are different seasons with different women, friends, and “other mothers”. But each one is a beautiful snapshot in the seasons of our life. And sometimes we fade in and out of service, switching gears when life changes and we change right along with it.

Maybe you are one of the aching women who couldn’t give birth to a child you could hold and name. I need to tell you that you have birthed other beautiful things and God is not finished with your nurturing heart. You are the kind of mother that children dream of and I believe that in your area of influence they are waiting on you. They just don’t know how to ask you to adopt the grownup version of themselves that still needs a hug, a mentor, and a friend.

The church in general is freaking out about Millennials leaving the church, but let me tell you what I see happening in our church and so many others. I see a re-entry and a coming home moment for these millennials the moment they become parents, tired, and needy for something vastly deeper than a social media, coffee-house theology. They crave the deep. Comments and likes on Facebook cannot replace the deep-rooted need for face-to-face connection. It will never fill the void of your place in the church. You are needed, necessary, and vital to the body of Christ.

To the men and women who have paved the way for us to go further, faster than we deserve I honor you. Perhaps you haven’t heard these words in such a long time…We need you. I need you. The world needs you.

Stop worrying about Millennials leaving the church and get your church ready for when they come home, because they will.

Be ready. Be available. Be unafraid of change. Make room for mess and make the space in your churches, and your hearts. I promise you this; if you love on their children you will win their hearts. You will be kingdom people. Adopt a needy twenty-something. Adopt a family.

To Millennials and the needy and those feeling the weight of the mother/fatherless gap:

Be teachable.

Be needy enough to give someone room to take over where others left off in the shaping of you. We are nothing without each other.

Put down your phones and hold weathered hands and ask them to tell you their stories. Look into their eyes and let them see a glimpse of their younger selves in you. Adopt a momma or a grandma.

Together we take turns and cradle the generations. We need each other.

Much love,

Jennifer

 

Fly Baby, Fly

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I love the movie “What About Bob” for many reasons. I love the uptight therapist and the client that drives him crazy. I love the sound of laughter that happens when you watch such craziness and can see yourself in all of the characters.

Growing up I was painfully shy and afraid of my own shadow. As most young children do, I started to outgrow some of the “awkward” phases like not looking people in the eyes while speaking to them and hiding behind my mother and hanging on her legs. I’m thankful I had a mother that helped me and taught me simple things like chewing with my mouth closed and how to make someone feel important by looking at them while they spoke to you. I look back on key moments; ones I often didn’t understand, and realize that she gave me important gifts that have helped me become all that God intended me to be.

I’ve always lived in such a way that it scares my mom a little. The shy awkward girl grew up into someone who learned to live life unafraid. Amazing things happen to a heart and life submitted to God. I’ve always been a dreamer, the girl with my head in the clouds. I’ve become a dream chaser, following hard after God, and stepping out in uncharted places. This past week I went to a ranch in Oklahoma completely alone. I can guarantee you this, almost fifteen years ago when I walked down the aisle; I never thought I would be taking trips alone. Ever. I was too afraid of what could happen. And now I am more afraid of the beautiful life I could miss by staying inside a safe little box.

I had five days without children, which is like a mini holiday for the tired mommy. Five days with my girls at camp trying new things and learning about God, five days of knowing they would be safe even though I wasn’t glued to their side. I knew I could stay home and miss them, or I could chart new territories of my own. Truth be told, I wanted a romantic getaway with my man. But, instead he sent me off with a blessing as he stayed home to be with family and work. I felt released to go, to fly, and to get alone with a stack of books, note cards, my Bible, and my favorite pens; a writer’s dream. Gorgeous places that inspire you to write and think, but most importantly to hear from God. That was what I needed to leave home for. Sometimes we just live such noisy lives. We talk so much, coming up for air, and finding we have nothing left to say. Words lose their power and meaning when our actions erase the things we “meant to say.”

I will always look back at this moment as the week that changed the way I write and live forever. I remember shaking my head and whispering to God, “If I can do this…I can do anything.”

As I unloaded my things at the ranch with spotty cell phone reception, my mom called and asked me what I was doing.

“I’m here and I’m safe and it’s gorgeous.”

And I heard her sweet voice say, “Well, don’t you feel so grown up?”

And I do feel grown up, but it goes much deeper than that. I feel more comfortable now in my grown up skin and it just keeps getting better. Forget Hollywood and what they say about women as they age, get lesser roles, and feel the need to look like plastic. I’ll gladly take these stretch marks that prove my body has given life to my children.

I’ll take the laugh lines that remind me of all the moments when I throw my head back and laugh, a cackle that is distinctly mine. I’ll take it all, even the knowledge that I need to empty my bladder before jumping on the trampoline with my girls. And when those girls laugh at me, I’ll hold my side, out of breath, and say something like, “You were large babies.” And explain it later. I’ll take the wrinkle cream and frown when I need to buy the special face wash for adult acne and mumble how it’s just wrong, you should have to buy one or the other, but not both. I’ll take the changes in life that come knowing I have a choice, hoping my actions speak so much louder than the words I love so much.

I’m thankful for three days and two nights on a ranch that felt like home and much like my parents house with lots of wide-open spaces, and room to breathe…and spotty cell phone reception and no wifi. It wasn’t how I envisioned my week off; it was so much better.

Last week, I booked two trips stepping out in faith. I excitedly texted my mothering mentor and got this back…

Fly baby, fly.

And I am. I hope you will do the same…I hope you will fly or sail. Whatever, just move forward and stop looking back.

You can do all things through Christ, not just some things…you can live a life that makes people shake their heads in amazement inspiring them to live more fully. It’s so important to stop talking about all the things you want to do and actually do them. Live and dream and pray and love and forgive, and repeat these steps as needed to live in the fullness of all Christ has for you!

Fly baby.

Much love,

Jennifer

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Motherhood and Roadmaps

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I’m thinking about you today, you women who wrestle wondering if what you are doing is making a difference in the lives of the ones you love and serve. You feel like what you are doing is small, but it’s not. Beautiful thing, you are leaving roadmaps on the hearts of your children. It’s not small; it’s glorious. You who feel like everyday looks the same with never-ending piles of clothes and dishes to wash. You’re so very tired at the end of the day and yet still give into one more request for a hug and another kiss as those smart, little ones smile buying more time before they slumber.

You wrestle wondering if you’re beautiful and frown as you notice that unwelcome gray hair, but to the little one who calls you “Mommy” you are more beautiful than a thousand airbrushed twenty-something’s who have graced the covers of a magazine. You are their leading lady and the one they run to when they just need to be held. Your teenager might roll their eyes at you, but they know you are always going to be there for them, loving them despite the hormonal hurricane that has just become their new normal. They don’t need a perfect mother; they just need you. What you have to offer is exactly what they need.

So much time is wasted on unrealistic comparisons and jumping through invisible hoops. That way of life leaves you spent and running on empty. Comparing ourselves to others causes a deficit in our souls wilting what God designed to shine and stand out. There is not one perfect mold for all women, but there is this one woman who took the time to simply “become”. She’s the Proverbs 31 woman and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in her thirties.

Sweet thing, stop worrying that you’ll never measure up and start owning the fact that you do. God has an unending supply of grace to cover us when we fall short. He is the God that we can run to when we are the ones who need to be held. What you do is not small or insignificant. This world needs what you have to offer.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Prov 31:25)

Much love,

Jennifer