Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Something My Mom Never Said

We grow up to say a lot of the same things our mothers said:
     "Close that door! We're not heating the whole neighborhood!"
          "If all of your friends jump off a cliff are you going to jump too?"
               "Because I'm the mom...that's why!"

One of my favorites of Mom and I
I realized this week that my mom deserves a shout out for something she DIDN'T say:
         "I'm so fat!" or "I need to lose some weight."

I NEVER heard my mom say these words growing up.  In fact, she never really commented on her size, her height, her weight, her hair, her teeth, her skin, or her cloths (unless she just bought something for a steal-of-a-deal!)  Until recently, I hadn't given this much thought. But now that I am the mom of a high school age daughter who's learning where to find her identity, I realize how valuable it is for her to see that I'm content with how God's designed me.

I'm comfortable with who I am.  I like my hair.  I like my eyes.  I like my height.  I even like my crooked teeth and my girly curves.  Why?  I think it's because I had a mom who taught me to be content by BEING content. Profound, huh? Honestly, my mom's weight and fashion were not subjects of conversation. Actually, we didn't even own a scale growing up. The only reason my mom has a scale now is to weigh her luggage so she can maximize her suitcase when she flies out to visit us kids. Numbers like weight and age do not matter in the VanDyken household.

After reading a thought-provoking article this week about moms refraining from getting into family photos because they don't like to look at pictures of themselves, I was reminded how much we can battle self-image and identity problems if we aren't careful. If we want to bring up daughters with healthy self-images, then WE must have healthy views, too! We can't teach what we don't know.

Our culture is obsessed with beauty, "artificial" beauty. Think I'm exaggerating?  Why else do women feel the need to lie about their age?  Dye hair to hide the grey?  Bleach teeth white?  Botox?  Spanx? Miracle creams? The list goes on... Please understand, I'm not saying these things are wrong, but maybe we should be asking ourselves what our daughters are thinking when we spend a small fortune on these things.  I'm only going on my own experience in this area in order to come to my conclusion, but I've determined that having a mom who isn't ashamed of her age, takes good care of herself by living with everything in moderation, is immeasurably influential. My mom still uses the occasional support hose and self-dyes her hair, but doesn't obsesses about her "roots". Because comparing is human nature, I'm positive my mom has compared herself to others, but she didn't ever say it out loud. I've benefited from that.  I hope I can pass that on to my daughter.

My mom is a beautiful woman who now gets to order discounted senior meals. She loves that. How do I know? She's bragged about it! I love that!!!

So, fellow moms, next time we get our family pics back, let's be careful we don't point out all of the things we hate about the way we look.  Instead, comment on the fun you were all having at that moment. That's what your kids see when they look at the pictures. Their eyes don't even see our double chins, rolls around the tummy, or our hair out of place. Our daughters especially need to hear us adore each other regardless of whether we had make-up on for the picture.

One last thought.
                   Live. Laugh. Love.

People hang these words on their walls and print them on photo albums.  No one ever hangs the words:
                 Pose. Suck in your tummy. Fake it.

Be yourself.  Fall in love with how God made you. You're delightful...just the way you are! And Mom, thanks for the lesson...your actions spoke much louder than your words.  P.S. You are one beautiful mama!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Security - A "Snipe" Hunt

Ever been "snipe" hunting? It's a practical joke played on unsuspecting, gullible victims where they are taken into the woods under the cover of nighttime to hunt for mysteriously illusive birds called snipes, armed only with a flashlight and sack. Unknowingly, they follow conspirators on a "wild goose chase" of sorts. As they're repeatedly asked, "Did you see that one?" the flashlights sporadically illuminate the ground. They stare, expecting to see a tiny bird run through the underbrush. The unsuspecting victims have been told if they're quick enough they may just catch one of these rare birds in a sack. Actually, they haven't been led on a hunting expedition at all! Instead, they're only the newest suckers to be laughed at by smug conspirators who were probably once victims themselves.

Ever been "security" hunting? It's very similar to snipe hunting. We will hunt aimlessly in the darkest times of our lives, looking to capture that illusive unattainable thing called security. We've been told by others that it can be found... if we'd just know where to look. We even trust that if we act quickly enough, we'll be able to snag it!  Unfortunately, security here on earth is as much a tall tale as the snipe hunt. No security will ever be found here. It can not be found in stockpiling money or food or even gold, as some would have us believe. You can not find it in relationships since people, too, are imperfect and broken. It isn't found in a free nation nor a strong military. No fall-out shelter or nuclear weapon can guarantee safety. No gun. No job. No miracle cure.* Nothing can give us the ultimate security we longingly hope for. Governments will crumble; jobs will fail; money is fleeting; food doesn't sustain long; shelters are vulnerable. And lastly, but most importantly, our bodies will die no matter what we do to attain safety in the end. (Whew...aren't you glad you're reading this blog today?!?)

I know you didn't come to this page to be depressed out of your mind. So, why all this doom and gloom? Because there is GOOD NEWS!!! And after a week filled with stories of government shutdowns, stage four cancer discovered, adoptions put on hold yet again, death of loved ones, missing children, marriages broken, corrupt leaders, wars and talk of more wars and even just the daily onslaught of ugly world news, I've had to be reminded that there is no security in anything! But, instead, in someONE!

God, and God alone.

For His Word tells us these things:
(Psalm 46:1,2) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the middle of the sea.

(Hebrews 13:5b,6) For He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my Helper,” and I will not fear what man shall do to me.

(Psalm 18:2) The Lord is my rock, and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in Whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

In Hebrews, I love how it talks of men and women who had faith to believe God in the midst of their crumbling lives.  Hebrews 11 starts out saying, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." SURE of what we hope for! Not wish-upon-a-star faith but faith on the truth God tells us about himself and heaven. Now that's a hope worth counting on!  I especially love how it says about Abraham that he was "looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." And later Hebrews 11 summarizes the faith of these people by saying in verse 13, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.  And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one."

Do you see it?  They still died!  But it didn't rob them of their hope in God and what he'd promised and that promise wasn't heaven on earth.  It was Heaven!  Eternity with Him. There is nothing certain on earth but death. But the AMAZING answer to that devastating news is that there is a God in Heaven who offers nothing but Life to those who repent of following the gods of this world and follow him exclusively.  Like I wrote earlier, no "god" in the form of  money, nor person, nor government, nor disease cure, nor form of false safety and security can give you hope. They are false gods. False security. Only God is the everlasting Rock, the same yesterday, today and forever.  I, too, want to be counted among those in Hebrews 11 who "were longing for a better country--a heavenly one," while still living in this one with purpose and impact.

Let's not be lured into a "wild goose chase" offered by the Deceiver to go "security" hunting where there is none. To be fooled into snipe hunting is one thing, but to be fooled into thinking we can find safety in anything or anyone but God alone is no game, but dangerous to our souls.

*  I'd just like to add that we own and live in a home, fill our pantry, own guns, save money, take medicine and have lots of meaningful relationships. These things aren't wrong...they're just not where real security is found. I felt like I needed to add my "Christian Disclaimer".  Old habits die hard!