Sunday, May 8, 2016

Team Chari: Motherhood Unplugged

"I assumed motherhood was all about balance.  But I am learning it has more to do with discernment--recognizing which proverbial balls to juggle, which to drop and when to sing silly songs on the way to school even though she clogged the toilet and I have a wad of almond butter stuck in my hair." - Lisa Harper

So. It's mother's day.  For some reason this day sneaks up on me every year.  Certainly I have more to celebrate on Mother's Day this year than any other before it.  My heart is full.  Full of love given and love received: by a husband that is worthy of all the bragging I do about him, by children who give me a reason to persevere and by family and friends who are more than I deserve.

And yet.

There is a sadness.   A deep down, quiet sadness that remembers.  It remembers 11 Mother's Days lost.  16 Mother's Days as an orphan.  My heart remembers in the secret place that stays hidden, the place that wants to be healed, but also wants to be left alone because healing hurts.  Healing requires doing the work. Revisiting the saddest places.

The truth is, I lost my mother long before she died.  Before I lost her in a house fire, I lost her to addiction.  11 years went by wondering if she would get healthy.  If she would come back for us. Those years were the hardest.  I can't believe I am typing these words, but it is easier to explain that my mother is dead than it is to explain that she didn't raise me because of her addiction.

I long for that story to change.  For my mother to have mothered me.  To have pictures to post on facebook of me and the woman who gave me life.  I have a few memories of her.  I have a few little girl pictures somewhere.  But bringing them up cause my heart to revisit the loss and the enormous sadness of it all.  I loved her and she left.

My littlest girl Vivienne is 15 months old.  She knows the love of two parents who work tirelessly to keep her safe, protected and loved.  Vivi has known no great loss yet.  And it is evident-- in the way she giggles loudly, moves freely and trusts willingly.

My big girl, Ru has experienced life's greatest loss.  She knows nothing of her first family.  She knows no one who looks like her, No one who can tell the stories of her first moments.  Her heart longs to giggle loudly, move freely and trust willingly and yet something holds her back.  A sense that we live in a world in which all is not as it should be.  The knowledge that there was once a family, before this one, that she has lost.

It is the greatest joy to love these girls.  To be their mother is the best and hardest thing I have ever done.

This mother's day felt different.  Ru was so excited about cards she had made-- at school and church. Treats she had baked at school.  Presents they had made with daddy.  She wanted to give them to me early, each day, not being able to wait!

And still.

When the day rolled around, she participated in all we did.  She hugged me. She watched me with Vivi.  And she was visibly sad.

And that's ok.

While Vivi napped, I cuddled with Ru and we talked about missing our first mommies.  We acknowledged that sadness and grief do not erase the love we have for each other.  That we can miss one mommy and love another at the same time.  I told her stories about growing up with my grandma and how I missed my mommy so much it made my stomach hurt, and yet I loved my grandma so much,

Motherhood is hard.  It requires being present and being ready.  It requires healing.  If I really hid from the work I need to do in the sad places of my heart, I wouldn't be able to be fully present for my little girl in conversations like these.  We cannot take our kids to a place of healing we have not experienced for ourselves.

Motherhood is beautiful. It is special.  It is worth it.

By the grace of God my children will have a different story because I am willing to do the hard work of healing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Revive: Where we tell our untold stories.

"We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom." - Marni Gillard

On Wednesday nights, Nyasha and I lead a group of people who are recovering. Recovering from what? Themselves.We work the steps, similar to a 12 step program for any and all hang ups, habits or hurts.

Unhealthy relationships.
Drug Addiction.
Eating disorders.
Sex Addiction.


I have been sober from my alcohol and drug addiction for 17 years now.  SEVENTEEN YEARS CLEAN.  I never, ever, ever thought I would say those words.  

People ask why I keep working the steps, why I stay involved with 12 step programs.  The answer is simple, "I still have A LOT to work on." Drugs and alcohol were never really my problem.  They were a symptom of a much larger problem: MYSELF.  

So I am working on myself.  Baby step by baby step.Character defect by Character defect. Sometimes these changes occur quickly, sometimes slowly but they are always in progress.  Be patient with me, I am learning to be patient with myself.  Oh how I have longed for a quick fix.

So on Wednesday night, we gather together, a group of imperfect followers of Jesus and we share our stories.  In the honest telling and retelling we find our way, we find our healing and we find our strength.  In the telling, we are able to clearly hear and see what the Holy Spirit was revealing all along-- it is in our weaknesses that God's perfect strength is revealed. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul wrote, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

When we share our story; our weaknesses and God's gracious redemption, we give others permission to do the same.  Paul did that, as did Bill W. and Dr. Bob (the founders of AA.) And that is what we try to do each Wednesday night from 6-8 at River of life Eastlea.  Join us if you would like!