Monday, November 01, 2010

Criticism and Insecurities.

My eyes burn, that’s how tired I am. So let’s start with that in the hopes you’ll forgive my lack of proper spelling and word usage!

I have a few points to make.

A. We have had a very incredibly crappy last several weeks. Months, maybe. We are struggling. We choose ministry, yes. But with that comes sacrifice, and even more so – with that comes adversity. I feel we have been attacked a lot lately. Hospitals, broken cars, broken houses, sickness, bills, bills, bills, and some other more personal things. It always all seems to hit at once, yes? I don’t typically post about these things, because I gather you didn’t come here to read my complaints. I wouldn’t make my FB status say “Thinking about pulling from the 401K to fix a car. Thoughts?” … because that would just be … well, awkward. For the both of us. So, when I post or status update or whatnot, I am not trying to “paint a rosy picture”; I am just sharing the good! I wouldn’t scrapbook about my bad days, so why eternally post them into blog history?

B. “Why is she rambling about all this because it is awkward too”, you ask!? We’ve been criticized a lot lately. Or so it seems, to me anyway. I am going to share 2 actual examples in hopes someone can relate and thus make me feel, or look, not so crazy. Exhibit 1) A women with whom I am friends, a heart I pray for often, opted to comment on the fact that my family is always with me as I attempt ministry and how it’s not right, blah, blah. What’s most hurtful is I heard it second hand and the actual words were spoken to another{of course, right?} … so the specifics of what was said are neither here nor there, it’s the intent. I think I’ve made it known that I struggle with where to draw the line with the ministry of youth and the ministry of our family – I’m constantly pulled both ways. Exhibit 2) I received an email from someone with whom I don’t know in “real life” but have created a relationship with via blogging, again – a heart I often pray for. She tells me she will no longer be reading our blog because it has become another “look at how great my kids are” blog and I no longer post about “real” things.

C. Point C. Enter the insecurities. I react with “WHAT!? What does she know? Blah, Blah, anger, Blah” “Who does she think she is?” Then I remember that I need to get over myself and attach myself to my go to prayer for emptying my heart of self-centeredness. The closing verses of Psalm 139: “ Search me, O God, and know MY heart; test ME and know MY anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in ME.” Next I react with … “well, should I not serve in ministry? Should I hire a sitter more? Am I not giving enough to the students of youth ministry? Am I being a bad mom?” “Am I just not spiritual anymore? Why do not share my heart any longer? Should I not blog”. “But I do this and that, and how can I justify myself, AND … AND … BUT!”

Ladies {I say ladies, because I don’t think guys have this issue} … why do we think these things? Why do we let another’s words about OUR lives unleash such insecurities? I don’t know … but I fall there myself. The problem lies in the fact that these 2 situations {& others} have taken up far too much of my thought life recently. I had to step back and wonder when I went back to becoming the person who dwells on this stuff. Who allows it take over my mind when I should be in the Word or playing with my kids or this or that … and instead I am focused on others words. Please note that I am in no way blaming either of these people, what I am saying is that I’ve allowed insecurity to have a hold. This really has nothing to do with the others involved; it’s about how I have reacted {so please don’t comment or email about their words to {or about} me – I love them both dearly!}. Another example of being attacked – the enemy would love nothing more to use others {Christians, loved ones, etc.} words and engrave them in our minds {twisted or not} so that we cannot focus on what God has currently set on our plate. How do we get so bitter so quickly?

D. My final point. I think. I spent 8 years of marriage praying and hoping and dreaming about this time in my life. I lost and gained and lost again. I endured and rose and grew. My all time favorite quote is by Sara Groves “The places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned”. That is my life, in a quote. I became and am still becoming. But for now, for this season, God has given me this calling of motherhood, discipler to my children, boo boo kisser and nighttime rocker. And friends, I am going to relish in it! I am going to rejoice in it. I have a journal entry from a few days after I lost our 3rd baby and in it I wrote “I do not know if I will ever carry another child, but I know God has called me to mother – however His plan unfolds, I am willing. He knows the exact day, minute, second when a child will look at me and utter “Mommy”. I do not need the details, my Father holds them”. Those moments are NOW. The details are being revealed daily. I have trusted Him for this and I will give my all. So, does my blog have photo after photo of children. Yes. Do I pour out devotions in writing? No. Are my kids going to be attached to me a lot of the time? Probably. Can I still serve where God wants me if I am wise about my decisions? Yes. Honestly, I am lucky if I get to shower most days, and the majority of thoughts that are centered on myself involve things like baby poo on my favorite sweater. I am not painting a rosy picture, nor am I not being “real”. This is real, for us, for now. All I can be is who I am in these moments of life. I honestly don’t know where to draw the line between family and ministry sometimes, but I am giving it all I’ve got – and I am thankful for a husband who supports me in that.

I was feeling beat down. And I had to remember what is important. And for the first time in a long time I was able to type it all out and smile at the end {I miss writing!}. To my sweet friend who sent the email and I know will be reading this, please know I admire you coming to me directly with your thoughts. I am sorry for your pain and am glad to have been able to “talk” through this with you. I pray God fulfills the desires of your heart as you seek Him!

And lastly, I wanted to share an “old” post I wrote back in the days when my mind actual formed working thoughts. If you are not a follower of Like A Warm Cup of Coffee, you need to head there and check it out! It such an inspiring blog, constantly making me think and re-focus on our Creator. Sarah Mae asked me to guest post on the blog a few years back – she wanted 10 things I learned from loss. Well, I could only come up with 7, but she allowed me to grace her blog anyway! ;) This post seemed the perfect fit for today. I wrote it prior to adopting Josiah, never dreaming I would ever be pregnant again! It reminds me of the path that was walked:

What Loss Taught Me

1. He weeps with us. With Lazarus He wept not at the death of His friend {He was very aware that Lazarus was going to be popping back to life rather quickly}, but He showed tender love and mercy to those around him that were grieving. He felt their pain, and He wept. He wants us to intimately approach His throne with our pain. He felt mine, and He feels yours.

2. He never abandons a project. What God has started in us he will never abandon. Though there are times that we feel stuck in a heap of garbage; as though we were beaten down pieces of junk mixed into the abyss of trash. We must remind ourselves that we are never alone. Even in the moments that look like the ugliest of uglies. We are not alone. He began an amazing work in us, and He will finish it.

3. Reliance. I used to live in this world where things were safe and God fit in when I had time. I call those days my days of innocence. I didn't realize what a disservice that thinking was at the time. Then in one moment everything I thought I was made for was pulled out from under me and suddenly there was no security. My eyes were opened to realities I didn't want to see. In order to survive, literally – in order to get through each day and hour, I HAD to rely on my Father. I found myself with this desire, this need, this craving. An utter reliance to submit and give my life to the One greater than I. In an instant everything I had found comfort in prior had failed me and I found a strength I didn't realize was there. I am beyond thankful for this.

4. To fight for the plunder {Exodus 12:35-36}. When the Israelites left Egypt they didn't leave empty handed. They left with the plunder from the enemy. They walked out of the valley richer then they had entered. Allow the circumstance you are in to change you and mold you and renew you. The enemy will feed you lies; choose to believe God's truth about your situation and then steal the plunder. He wants you to walk out stronger. He is the only thing that can fully heal, but you must ask Him and know it will take work on your part. He not only wants you healed, He wants you to know the Healer.

5. Every ounce of suffering is a stepping stone for further kingdom building. You, fellow sufferer are being used to build God's kingdom. It sure doesn't feel like it in the midst of the suffering, does it? The plunder that you will steal when you walk out of your valley a conqueror … give that back to God. The Israelites used it to build God's temple {they took gold and silver, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth}. You will be able to use the experiences you are enduring to touch others, reach others, bond with others, and minister to others in ways you can not even imagine. God refined me greatly during my time of grief and my struggles to find my way. Or rather His way. And I believe that what He has taught and what I have been through were tiny lessons that are preparing me for moments I have yet to encounter. My loss will be used for His glory.

6. The scars will remain. What I was will never be again. I have accepted the marvelous miracle of this. When Jesus was raised from the grave He came with His scars. He could have been completely physically healed, but instead God chose to allow the scars remain and now we can see much beauty and testimony in them. There’s beauty in our scars too. There was a time I thought my heart would never be whole again, but in time He has shown me that He can fill those places; He can fill them to overflowing. He opened my eyes to the fact that my heart was never full to begin with, I just never realized it.

7. I am different.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Write down a bunch of zeros. What do you have? A bunch of nothings. Carefully add a 1 in front of the zeros and you'll be looking at a number signifying wealth. If I take all of the details of my loss and look at them alone they equal a big heap of awful nothingness. But if I add the One who holds my heart in front of them I can see a picture of much worth. The world will never understand, but we were made for more. The follower of Christ is different. Every trial we encounter will hold more potential then we will ever be able to fathom. He wants to you to see the worth in your circumstances, in your zero's. Put Him in the front because only then is it worth anything. Only then is it beautiful.

These are just a fragment of the things my daughters gave me when I handed them back to Jesus shortly after birth. Though my mind occasionally wonders off to what my life would be like had the last 5 years not happened, I can honestly say that I think I am right where God wants me to be. I look at my heart now and the glimpses God has given me and I will tell you that while I’d never choose to endure the grief again, I also wouldn’t change a thing. There is such a hope in loss, and such a joy in being granted a share of Christ’s suffering. These are things I would have never known. This is what my daughters have given me.

{not to take away from what you just read, but I told you how much I love being a mom. I also want you to know that I love blogging AND ministry. Blogging allows me to share my life with those I love in an intimate way. It allows me to get to know others and realize we all struggle. Ministry is my husband’s passion. He struggles with facets of it, but his heart is devoted and his life etched with the desire to impact the lives of our youth. It is a beautiful thing, and his passion envelopes me. And because we are one his joys and praises are mine and I have a responsibility for the lives of these youth as well.}


  1. Anonymous6:07 AM

    Traci, I just want you to know I admire you. I know you didn't post today looking for kudos, but truly, you are an inspiration to me. I 'met' you 3+ years ago at HP (I've since left), you inpsired me then and still do. I love your devotion to your family, and again, you inspire me to do more for my own family. I love reading about your kids and everything that you do for/with them, especially knowing the difficult road that got you here. Please, keep doing what you're doing! God bless you sweet girl!

  2. That's something I deal with a lot too. Being a mommy is hard and people's opinions on your mothering don't help.

    Growing up, though, the youth pastor's kids were often at youth events. Never hurt anyone!


  3. I was really, really touched by your list of lessons after loss. Thank you for sharing it again, and for the encouragement you offer to those out there who are moms struggling with the realities of parenthood, or with those struggling empty arms, and those who fall into both categories. May the Lord give you strength and comfort today!

    -EmilyBatt (HP)

  4. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Traci - I'm walking a very journey than yourself (I guess we all are!), but I wanted you to know that your 7 points on life after loss really ministered to me and helped me to see that I need to refocus and get mind back on God and his precious word. God has us exactly where we need to be, but I find that I don't want to be here. Sigh. My grief is overwhelming and washes over me like acid rain and I often feel as God himself can't touch it. However, I know within the depths of my sould that isn't true and I keep coming back to his word and see how the Holy Spirit continues to minister to me and brings me back to where God wants me. Thank you for sharing your heart and this precious blog. I think it's fantastic! Sheila