How Do You Like Your Eggs?

A while back, maybe a year and a half ago, I had a conversation with Beth McCord, an Enneagram Coach, because I wanted to know for sure that I was a 9. I was pretty sure, well, almost completely sure, but I was having a hard time taking that definitive step and saying yes, that’s my number, because I didn’t want to be wrong.

During our conversation, she used an example to describe an Enneagram 9 as Julia Roberts’ character in Runaway Bride who, every time the reporter asked an ex-fiance how she liked her eggs, it was exactly like his.

In the end, she tries all different kinds of eggs and settles on what type of eggs she likes best, not the type of eggs that she thinks she should like best because it’s what someone else likes.

I’ve spent a lot of time liking other people’s eggs.

In Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, which I read more quickly than any other book in a long time, she writes about the difference between fitting in and belonging (see also her newest book, Braving the Wilderness):

“Fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

When you’ve moved around as much as I have, belonging is a lot harder to come by and fitting in is–in the short run–is a lot easier.

  • Go to a church where women aren’t allowed in leadership? Sure, I can find other ways to use my gifts.
  • Live in a town where there are unwritten rules and expectations that aren’t to be questioned? Sure, I’ll just keep my thoughts to myself.
  • Go to a Bible study that feels like it’s at the pre-kindergarten level? Sure, I’ll just read on my own. It’s all about meeting new people.

There are some advantages to adapting to other people; you can find common ground and you really will have something in common, and you don’t always have to get your own way in everything. The disadvantage is that it makes it difficult to differentiate yourself from others and to understand your own identity, and you can never really get too close to anyone to truly share what’s on your heart and mind, because the fear is that if they knew, they’d think less of you, you’d stop belonging, you’d be disconnected, you’d lose people, and you’d be lonely.

However, it’s more lonely to not be able to be yourself.

It’s also exhausting, because you have to spend a lot of energy wondering who and how you have to be based on other people’s expectations and standards instead of truly learning who you are.

This is a lot harder for women, I think, because we are often the primary caretakers of our homes and children, and so much of our energy is expended on other people, and various churches will see that as what we are primarily supposed to do. They even have moms groups for us where we can get out of the house and have adult conversation–about our kids. Have you ever found a church with a dads group that talks about changing diapers and sleepless kids? No? Think about that.

I have spent a lot of time in places where my identity is wrapped up in that of being a coach’s wife and a mom; there have been relatively few times in the last thirteen years where I haven’t met someone because of those two parts of my identity.

And so, I learned to adapt and take them on as my full identity, shoving the rest of me aside as necessary. Not all of the time, of course, but a good majority of it. It’s only been in the last two years that I’ve really started to feel more free to be who I am, and it’s often a daily struggle.

In a recent episode of the Typology podcast, author Marilyn Vancil spoke about being a Type 9 and the vague sense of self that comes along with that. She said:

“I didn’t even really know how I feel about anything. I don’t even know what I want. I don’t even know what I care about…I didn’t even know what my agenda was, let alone have it matter.”

It’s easier for us Type 9s to understand and know what we don’t like/want instead of what we do like and want, and so I’m now trying to figure that out for myself.

One thing I know for sure, though, is how I like my eggs:

  • Cook 1 hash brown patty in a frying pan and break it apart.
  • Add 1 egg and scramble it together.
  • Mix in approximately 1-3 teaspoons of salsa, depending on how much you like it and how spicy it is. I prefer Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa.
  • Top with a handful of shredded cheddar/taco/Mexican style cheese and mix in until melted.

Feminism and the Stay-at-Home Mom: My Story (and a linkup opportunity)

Edit:  this the post that explains why I am doing this linkup.
Edit:  February 15, 2013 article from Christianity Today on work-at-home-moms that fits in nicely with this topic.

I remember a time when I was attending a new church.  After the service was over, I was having a conversation with another woman who asked me a question that flustered me.  She asked, “do you work outside the home?”  I was confused because this woman knew my husband and I did not have children yet.  I remember thinking “Did she really just ask me that?  Why wouldn’t I work outside the home?”  I wondered if married women without children who stayed home was more common than I’d thought (as in I thought it probably didn’t exist).  
I don’t read a lot on the topic of feminism and all of its nuances.  I don’t claim to be an expert–or even that knowledgeable–on feminist theory or theology.  I bought a book called Evangelical Feminism a couple of years ago, but it’s one of the many books I have that I have not yet read.  The one semester I spent at a Catholic college, I took a class in Women’s Studies.  I remember finding it interesting, but I honestly don’t remember anything specific from it; it was a long time ago, and since then I’ve moved around the country multiple times and have had two children.  That’s plenty to make my memory not function so well.  However, I do consider myself to be a feminist because I believe that women are people and deserve equality; I have always thought this.  I think women should pursue any career they find they are interested in and for which they are qualified.  I don’t believe they must fit themselves into traditional roles just because that could be what is expected of them.
This seems that it might somewhat contradict my actual life, because for now, I’ve chosen to be a stay-at-home mom/homemaker.  I cook, clean (er, well, I guess that is somewhat debatable), and take care of the kids.  I’ve been doing this for five and a half years, although during part of this time I did have a part-time job at a college as the Campus Ministry Coordinator at the college in our last town.  The kids take priority, though, which has meant having other people cover for me when I couldn’t make it to chapel to lead services, or taking my almost-one-year old (at the time) on our spring break mission trip.  Talk about people being full of grace–he got sick while we were there and they helped clean up after him.  I even had to stay behind one day and take care of him while everyone else went to the work site (on the days I went, my sister-in-law, who lived in that city, picked him up and took care of him, but I didn’t want to get her kids sick too).  It was one of those many times where two callings collided and I had to choose one of them.  
I believe that my children are my responsibility to take care of, especially when they are young.  I can’t stand the idea of dropping them off at daycare in order for me to work a full-time job (please note:  this is what is best for our family; I am not making judgments on anyone else’s situation).  I love when we can snuggle on the couch and watch Daniel Tiger and not get dressed until 10:00, or spend the afternoon baking cookies, or meet with friends at a local coffee shop that has a play area.  My older son goes to school 4 mornings per week and I do look forward to when he stays home on Fridays (partly because then I don’t have to get up early to get him ready for the bus).  Being a stay-at-home mom, though, can have its drawbacks.  I stink at keeping the house clean.  I love to cook and bake, but sometimes at the end of the day after answering a zillion and three “why?” questions or playing cheetah or spies or superheros, I don’t have the energy for it and it’s pancakes for dinner.  I often get bored playing cars or dinosaurs and sometimes I just want to scream at the top of my lungs to get out the frustration that builds up over multiple minor daily events.  
I look forward to the one day a week (usually Saturday) that my husband stays with our children so that I can spend time writing at a coffee shop.  This happens on a semi-regular basis, but sometimes I am not able to do it, due to my husband’s job (long hours, 6-7 days per week during the fall, and travel during the winter/spring).  And I am ok when I don’t get to go because, ironically, all these years of putting my husband’s job first has enabled me to do things I maybe wouldn’t get to do otherwise.  It’s taken us around the country, and although moving is always difficult, I treasure the friendships I have made and and am grateful for the variety of opportunities and jobs I have had.  Had I only been focused on one particular career of my own, I may have very well missed out on some of these blessings. 
Through all of this, though, I have been careful to make sure I do not lose myself and become only a wife and a mom.  I read.  I write. I spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter.  I read something recently in which a woman had no idea what her own interests were after raising her children.  She’d focused so much on their needs that she had no idea of her own identity.  I am sure this will not happen to me, and I hope that other SAHMs I know will prevent it from happening to them as well.  
Unlike a lot of my other mom friends though, I have only two children and I feel that is plenty.  While I don’t want to wish away the time, I do look forward to when they are both in school so that I can pursue some of my own interests more (more writing, maybe finally get that Master’s degree).  I sometimes have difficulty at events like MOPS (even though I enjoy going) because the organization as a whole seems to be geared to moms as moms, not moms as individual people.  I admire my homeschooling mom friends, but I know that it is not something I am interested in doing.  
It is, at times, like I am straddling two different worlds, belonging in both and belonging in neither.  It can be a lonely feeling.  And yet, I am not alone, because I know that I am listening to God’s call on my life and am trusting Him (yes, I am a feminist who still refers to God as Him.  Old habits die hard, right?) in guiding me on paths that I could never have imagined for myself.  
Sometimes–maybe a lot of the time–I think we are all too hard on each other.  There are feminists who are outspoke about everything, it seems, and while they are much more knowledgeable and give me a lot to think about, its sometimes seems there is a lack of humility or grace or patience, qualities that I think I have grown in only because I have experienced being a SAHM.  And I think many SAHMs need to learn from feminists and not fear them in order to be more than just a wife or a mom; they need to cultivate their own identity apart from their husband and children, because, some day, they will need it.  
I don’t think feminism and traditional roles need to be in opposition to each other, rather, I think that they can work together (I almost said complement each other, but I don’t really want to go down that road right now!), for those reasons expressed in the prior paragraph.  In my own experience, choosing to have children and stay home wasn’t an easy decision.  I didn’t particularly want to make such a drastic change in my life; I didn’t want to sacrifice my own wants and needs.  But I did decide to have children and my boys are such joys (well, most of the time!).  The cliche about not knowing what you are missing out on is pretty true–whether you like or dislike other people’s children, it’s a different story when they are your own.  
It is great that feminism has helped to make this a choice for me.  I didn’t have to have children just because that was what was expected of me in my role as a woman.  I don’t have to continue to have more children.  I was able to get a college education, work some, start a master’s degree.  I was never directly told “you can’t do that; you’re a girl” (there was one, indirect time when I heard a sermon about elders and it was clear they needed to be male, but that’s it).  Because most people in my life didn’t see women as secondary to men or having to have specific roles, there have been many things I have been able to do and accomplish.
And because I am able to stay home with my sons, I have a lot of time to spend with them to teach them and shape them into the people they will turn out to be, and I am directly affecting their lives rather than spending 40+ hours per week away from them (again, this is not a judgment on women who do work full time).  
There is so much more I could add to this for myself.  There are so many stories to be told of women who are living in both of these worlds, some way or another.  I can’t even begin to imagine the many varied and unique stories that will be told here through this link up.  So, please, add your story.  Add the story of someone you know.   Or, simply add your thoughts on how the two connect to each other.  The linkup will be active until February 28, 2013, and I’m going to try to tweet every time someone adds a new story (depending on the amount of them).  
I believe in equality, I believe women (and men) should strive to discover all that they are created to be, and live life abundantly.  Do you feel the same?

MOPS Devotional: Adoption

I go to a MOPS meeting on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, and am in charge of devotions for this year, so on those Thursdays I’ll be posting here what I say there.

Back in August, on The 700 Club, Pat Roberston said, in
response to a woman’s concern that her boyfriend doesn’t accept her three
adopted daughters, that:

“A man doesn’t
want to take on the United Nations, and a woman has all these various children,
blended family, what is it – you don’t know what problems there are. I’m
serious. I’ve got a dear friend, an adopted son, a little kid from an orphanage
down in Columbia. Child had brain damage, grew up weird. And you just never know
what’s been done to a child before you get that child. What kind of sexual
abuse has been, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation, etc.
etc.” the televangelist said.  Robertson
continued: “You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems. You really
don’t. You can help people – we administer to orphans all over the world, we
love helping people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to take
all the orphans around the world into my home.

Now, I don’t have any
adopted children, but when I heard about this and watched the video, I was
shocked.  I didn’t understand how a
Christian could think adoption was something to dismiss so easily.  I can understand not personally feeling called to do it, but to basically tell that
woman that she should expect men to feel that way was wrong.  What I think he should have said was “you know, if he doesn’t want to join in
caring for these children with you, it’s his loss, and it would be better to
find someone who will.  But even if you
don’t find someone who will, what you are doing is amazing and great and I
commend you for it.”
Here’s why.
The thing is, as
Christians, we are all adopted into
God’s family.  We hear that over and over
again in the New Testament:
Matthew 3:9; Romans
8:15-17; Romans 8:23-25; Romans 9:4-5; Galatians 4:1-7 and

Ephesians 1:5   5 He
destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the
good pleasure of his will,
Pat Robertson was
right about one thing.  When he said that
you never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child, he was
right.  You never know what has been done
to any of us before we come to find
new life as followers of Jesus.  Everyone
has some kind of baggage.  Everyone has
been hurt and needs healing and unconditional love. 
I know that I am glad
that God doesn’t have Pat Robertson’s attitude towards being so dismissive
about taking children in and caring for them. 
As I said, I
don’t have any adopted children, but I know some of you do or are maybe
planning on it.  And I commend you for
it.  It is a wonderful thing to open your
heart and let others in and care for them no matter what their background. 
There’s a
phrase from Proverbs 31 that means “woman of valor”; in Hebrew it is eshet
chayil.  It is used in Judaism when a
woman does something noteworthy.  Those
of you who are adoptive moms or who are becoming adoptive moms, you all deserve
to hear “Eshet Chayil!”

The Church Shopping Saga Continues: Children’s Programs

This post is one in a series about the adventure of finding a new church to attend after moving to a new town.  You can find the others with the label “Church Shopping“. 

Of the “qualifications” that my husband and I initially discussed regarding choosing a church, one of them was whether or not the church had good children’s programs.  So far, each church we’ve been to has something for all ages, although the only “program” we’ve experienced is using the nursery for our 2 year old!  There is no way he would sit still and quiet during the service, so we drop him off to play with his new friends for that day and our almost-5-year-old sits with us during church.  In some churches, there have been “children’s worship” programs that meet during the second half of the service, but we only attempted to send him one time; the very first time we visited a church.  He is hesitant to join in new experiences with new people and he came back to us after a few minutes, crying.  We didn’t make him go again.  

Some of the nurseries have had some type of sign-in and pager system; some have had nothing (those made me a bit nervous).  They’ve all had a good number of workers in the room and he has had fun playing with the new and different toys.

As for our older son, I am not sure if he will join in with the “children’s worship” even after we choose a church (see above reasons).  Although he has expressed at times that he is bored, he generally does a good job (is not disruptive) during the service.  At times, he has even shown that he is listening to the sermon because he asks questions about it.  One morning, we wanted to make sure he watched the baptism of two babies that was happening, and he did.  We then had this conversation:

Z: He didn’t baptize them.
Me: Yes, he did; why do you think he didn’t?
Z: They didn’t disappear.
Me, wondering, ummmm…huh?: He baptized them when he scooped up water and put it on their heads.
Z: And salt?
Me: No, no salt.
Z, to my husband: Daddy, he did *not* put salt on them.

While I have no idea where the idea of using salt came from, I thought afterwards that he probably thought they would disappear because prior  to this, he had only seen full-immersion baptisms (our most recent church was Baptist).  

I have read articles both about keeping kids in church and having children’s worship (both partial service and through the full service) and while I do not have a definitive position on it, I am glad that Z is experiencing “adult” church with us.  While he may not understand everything, there are some things that will stick with him, and possibly more than if he was in a “fun” children’s worship.  

So after all this, I still don’t know what priority to place on children’s programs.  Maybe it’s not as important as I thought it was.  Well, except for having a good nursery, that is!

What has been your experience with children’s programs/children’s worship?  Do you prefer children staying in the service or leaving for their own?  For the entire time or just part of it?  

Late Again!

I hate being late.  I have always thought that being “on time” for something means being there at least 5 minutes early.  I even left for church one time without my husband because if I’d waited, we were going to be late.  I don’t think he really believed my threat that I was going to leave without him until I actually did it.

Now, though, I have two young children and I am often running late, whether it is because I tried to get a few more minutes of sleep, took a longer shower because they were actually still asleep, we can’t find shoes, etc. I often find that I leave the house later than I intended.

I also find, now though, as I have started blogging and reading blogs that I feel as if I am late to everything.  There are so many great blogs to read and comment on, but by the time I finally can settle down and do so, it’s days later and/or there are already 50+ comments on the blog.  Or there is a topic that everyone is writing about but I don’t because by the time I can gather my thoughts, it’s been played out.

And Twitter!  Everything moves so quickly on Twitter that it makes me feel like I am even further behind.  I leave my computer for a couple of hours and come back to 100+ tweets, and I only follow 153 people at the time of this writing!  I can’t imagine what it is like for those who follow thousands of other Twitter users.

Is this because I am introverted and need time to think and process what I read about before I can come up with a coherent written thought?  Or am I just on the outskirts of news and cultural relevance?

What about you?  Do you like staying on top of all the fast-paced news?  Do you thrive on it, or does it wear you out?