What's Mom Got To Do With It?

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In one of my previous blog posts I touched on my relationship with my mom. Feel free to read that one first and then come back to this post.

I have realized that Mom has to do with my whole life.

  1. Mom laid down pursuing her dreams to awaken the dreamer in me.
  2. Mom made $10,000 her first year as a single mother.
  3. Mom worked part-time at Ann Taylor to support us while building her life-coaching business.
  4. Mom served others.
  5. Mom served me when I was so unworthy of her generosity.
  6. Mom stayed strong when I was in pain.
  7. Mom told me that I would influence this generation so many times that I actually believe her now.
  8. Mom taught me life lessons I'll never forget.
  9. Mom never judged me and always welcomed me home with open arms when I made mistakes.
  10. As an adult, Mom taught me to think on my own and make informed decisions.
  11. Mom let me grow up and she let me have space to learn on my own.
  12. Mom always stayed close by.
  13. Mom is beautiful and taught me to love my beautiful brown face and hair. She would look me in the eyes and say, "You are a beautiful brown girl and I love you."
  14. Mom affirmed me, even when I went through a phase where I was convinced she did not love me.
  15. Mom cheers me on and encourages me. My favorite quotes from her are: "You are Faitth with two t's because you are unique and no one can be you" "Go for it my little trailblazer" "I love you princess" "My little fireball"

Yeah, she ran an half-marathon or maybe it was a full marathon...either way she ran a long distance.

My mom would always correct me when needed but she was careful not to crush "my spirit." I have a strong personality. I am opinionated, I talk a lot, I am animated and dramatic, I am passionate, there is not an introverted aspect to my personality at all, and I talk to strangers. I am the child that calls home to tell my mom about my passion for missions and at 20 years old I am leading a trip to Thailand with a bunch of college kids. I am the child that rides on an elephants neck in Thailand and feels alive, I am the child that said "I am not a girly girl" and kept up with everything my brother did, I am the child that would harbor sins of the heart and not overt disobedience. I am the child that made her get on her knees and pray a lot, I hurt her feelings several times, I made her cry several times, and I was a whole lot to handle. Somehow, she never spoke negatively about me. In fact, she told me how much she loved my bubbly personality and the fact that I could make the whole family laugh till they cried. She let me sing to my hearts content and encouraged me to write songs and pursue my love for music. If I was being disrespectful she would say, "Faitth you are very respectful." She wasn't saying it sarcastically either, she would call out greatness and eventually (sometimes years later) see the fruit of those confessions. My mom knew she was raising leaders. She would often pray over my brother and I "God don't promote them to a place their character can't keep them." Her prayer was that our character would always be developed first before we were promoted to any position. This has remained her prayer and she has seen it answered time and time again.

When developing a relationship with my brother and I as adults, she completely switched gears from mommy to friend and guidance counselor. She still does mommy-like things but she lets me have freedom. I moved in with my mom after college and it was a little rough at first but my brother told me to stick it out. He literally had to tell me how good it was for me to have this time with my mom, I felt he was fooling me because he had roommates and that seemed more appealing. In the beginning I was counting down till our lease was up so I could move out. Well 2 and a half years later, we are still living together. Our only request to each other is to keep one another posted on our whereabouts, that's it. She set up no rules for me- we are roommates. I pay my half and she pays hers. She will give suggestions laced with prayer and guidance; she has learned how to influence me as an adult. She is sneaky but it works.

My mom went skydiving with friends while I was in college.

 We are so opposite. I will run around and stay busy at all times. My mom will stay home and read books and throw in occasional socialization. She reads probably one book a week. She is brilliant people. I mean brilliant. She is my opposite but I love it. I love introverts so much. It has taken me a while to understand you people but now I want to be your friend. Obviously it's not surprising that half of my close friends are introverts. My mom is so calm that I get frazzled when I am surrounded by people that are easily stressed. She would always say "don't sweat the small stuff Faitth." She has learned all about who I am from living with me as an adult. She has learned that sometimes I want affection, other times I don't want to be bothered at all (this is my "do not talk to me at all" mood), I want her to listen to my ranting social justice discussions(She is so gracious- I have a lot of these moments), I want us to watch a show together, I want to sleep in her bed because I had a hard day and I want her near by. She is always available. She lives her life like that for other people as well.

If I go through a break up I can expect ice cream girl talk at Chick-Fil-A. If I go on a road trip and I am tired she will talk to me most of the way. Sometimes she is just on the phone and we aren't saying anything. She has prayer meetings with me and my friends( Jessica you know what that is all about! lol). She makes my friends her daughters. In fact my best friend Abby and my mom text each other, Ha. It is the funniest thing ever. She is present and her presence gives me confidence. So mom you should write a book on parenting because being an African-American homeschool mother with her Masters Degree in Christian counseling, creating your own high school transcripts for your homeschooled kids that went onto graduate from college and begin successful careers. Raising two children that adore you- is pretty rare these days. People need your voice.

Did you know my mom is a life coach, speaker, and author? :)

I could go on and on about how my mother's influence has changed my life. In the teenage years a lot of times girls disconnect with their mothers because we see things about our mom's that we don't want to be. Little do we know, years later we will take on some of those character traits that we loathed (Trust me mom's you will get a laugh when this happens). We will realize that we need you and holding you at bay is not productive. Give us time mom's. We will come around.

XOXO

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How I got Interrupted.

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I have been at an critical place in my young adult life. This book review will be a filled with my journey and how Jen Hatmaker’s books wrecked me.

I had spent a month in Rwanda in 2010 and a month in Thailand in 2011. Seeing the love for Christ people had overseas shook me. Their approach to engaging their community and their humility taught me how apathetic and bored I was with church as I knew it to be, yet while overseas I came alive. I loved the way they worshipped God. There was sincerity in it. In America we can just fake it and we get so wrapped up in our appearance that the whole idea of being real with our questions, doubts and concerns is so foreign. Its like we are all waiting for that outspoken person to name the elephant in the room. As if we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for someone to ask, is this it? Is this what church is about? Can church be really simple like it is for the Rwandan people and the Thai people? These were some of my questions back then and they have lingered in my mind for years.

I have never come home from another country and not cried at least for a week because I am just so broken by all that I have experienced and I wonder what I am missing. I’ve never decided to dig deeper into those questions or really ask God those hard questions because I didn’t know where to start and lets be real- I felt crazy for having those questions. I was raised in church, ministry was my life but somehow it felt like I was missing the main point.

So lets fast-forward to April 2014 when things really changed. I read 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I had been following her blog for a year so naturally when my best friend says she has been crying and reading this book and I have to get it, I bought it the same day. She said oh you will love it. (Jenna and I are like hippie-Jesus loving free spirits that believe anything is possible. We used to sit in the children’s book section in the local bookstore and dream. Yep, we would let our imaginations go where only they could and believe that God could/would do something amazing. ) I had never read anything by an author that openly shared her wrestles and questions with life and church culture, as I knew it to be. As far as I knew, I only talked with a few friends in hopes that I wouldn’t be shunned for my thoughts on the “stuff” we do in church that has nothing to do with souls and Jesus. Most of what I was involved in was all about self-promotion and using that man made platform to build the kingdom. That is what I grew up seeing. In Jen’s book 7 she really digs deep into her transforming journey of letting go of excess and the pursuit of “stuff stuff stuff, more more more” and looking into how her family could change the course of their lives by pouring their finances and resources into things that actually matter. But really, 7 is just the sequel to her book Interrupted. Interrupted is the book I want to talk to you about.

I just gave you a super long intro but I really wanted to set the stage for this book. Reading 7 and interrupted led to the most impactful permutation in my young adult life.

 I will cover a few key areas that wrecked me while reading interrupted.

One major area I wrestled with was the churches responsibility to care for the hurting and broken. I knew that an occasional food drive was not really going to address the needs of the community. It had to start with us the church (the individuals). Jen explains it this way: “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we are not convinced it will be properly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely but doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission.”

I found myself on the cusp of ignoring the needs of the community, forgetting the life transforming moments overseas, and settling into my own world oblivious to the needs of those around me and depending on others to see the need and meet it, not me. The real question is why not me? Why not you? Why aren’t we engaging in our community. This simple wrestle is what Jen’s beautifully documents. It’s her journey from ministry and life as she knew it to God brining her husband and family into a “new thing” and ministry via community and building relationships and out of those relationships people coming to Christ. Allowing people to belong before expecting them to behave. Her journey is raw, exciting, and thought provoking. You really can’t read this book without asking yourself, what am I all about? When was the last time I spent time with my neighbor or served the poor not because I was looking to be thanked, but because I was purely interested in their world and serving them because they are human. They have life. They are family. Somehow, life became all about us and we won’t reach out to others if it is an inconvenience or if the people around us don’t look and act like us. Where did we adapt that attitude? Where did I adapt that attitude?

 Jen talks about movement and going when you feel God is leading you into a new thing

Jen states, “When we feel we are supposed to do something radical we can expect it to be misunderstood.” I am not sure what that looks like for you. Maybe its moving to a new city, going back to college, getting a new job, restoring broken relationships. Whatever the case maybe, Jen mentions, “part of the task is going without knowing…if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway” Oftentimes, we are waiting on the approval from too many people to just leap when we know in our gut that is what we are supposed to do. No one said leaping would be easy. No one said the next steps would be painted in the sky but wouldn’t we spoil everything if we knew it all? Most of the time we don’t need all the details.

 Interrupted describes a crossroad that many people, including myself, are at. Are you ready for a radical life-transforming adventure? If you are, maybe your heart is open to allowing God to interrupt life and church, as you know it. Interrupted gives you the permission to wrestle and the permission to evaluate your world. You can’t get through this book without feeling, inspired, challenged, and broken for the least. You also can’t read this book and expect to stay stagnant and not call into question life as you know it. If I assume correctly, we have all been challenged to allow God to interrupt our life but maybe fear, doubt, or worry have kept us from fully diving in. Either way, we must do it. We must make a conscious effort to be all in.

Jen’s approach is fun, relatable, and humble. While reading her book you feel as if you on a coffee date catching up on months of time that has passed and you just get to listen to this deep transformation that has taken place in her life. Through this story you leave inspired to love better, be more informed about your community, and allow God to interrupt you. Truth is, if I cam so consumed with serving God the way I want to, whose kingdom am I really building-his kingdom or my own? Comfortable Christianity won't cut it anymore.

I have never been in a place of such humility and brokenness until recently. I have never felt more vibrant, awake, and passionate about His kingdom before. I have layed my service schedule down and I have decided to follow his lead. I’ve been inspired, challenged, and interrupted.

Get the book, you won’t regret it.

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ABOUT JEN HATMAKER:

Jen Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl's Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.

I love orphans.

orphansI was a case manager for a year and a half and I got to to work with children in foster care. Before earning a degree in social work, I was very ignorant about the foster care system. I did not know if orphanages still existed in the US or if children were just in foster homes-until I started my job and I met some of the faces that make up "foster care."

Children in foster care are judged before anyone even meets them. They are probably "bad" or have a lot of "issues." Potential adoptive parents want young children to complete their family. If you are 7 years old you better pray hard because most likely you will be passed over for a baby because you are far too old to "mold" and "shape". Thus they are left in the system, growing more emotionally closed and starting to question everyone and everything. They are used to being let down and people giving promises they cannot keep. They shuffle from home to home- trying to learn new rules each time. Have you ever been to a sleepover as a child but you couldn't sleep well because you were out of your home environment? Children in foster care have to adjust to new homes and wonder if they will be safe. They may not sleep well. They may wet the bed, make failing grades, or be disrespectful.

I was really apathetic towards children in foster care until I saw their faces and learned their names. 

Every time a child ran up to me for a hug or refused to let me leave, my heart melted each time. These children are worthy of love and belonging. Unfortunately the older they are the longer they will permanently bounce from home to home in the foster care system until they age out at 18. By that time many of them are homeless, pregnant, or facing jail time. I can only imagine how they would have turned out if someone took a chance to love them. Loving foster children is risky, especially the older ones, but I believe it is worth it. Did you know that girls in foster care are more likely to become teen mothers or pregnant before age 25?

The teen who taught me the most was one of my greatest challenges at first. She would not talk to me much. She kind of mumbled as she talked. I tried not to pry since they have to talk to several adults about their feelings and it can be overwhelming. So I tried building a rapport with her. I did not see the results of this rapport until a year later. She finally opened up to me. I knew there was something special about her and I wanted to remain involved in her life regardless of where my career led me. She had endured a lot of pain and hurt. She had trouble opening up to people and connecting with adults because one minute they would want her forever and the next they were done. She has a lot of fears and hesitations about being loved. She doesn't understand true self-sacrificing, unconditional, and selfless love, yet. I am hoping she will be able to see past all of her hurt and pain to see how much love is really surrounding her.

In spite of all this, she has marked my life forever. I think of her all the time. Just thinking about her hurt, pain, and life brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing I can say or do to take away her pain. She is just one of many. She is not a number. She has a name and real life.

Watching a family adopt their 16year old son was so powerful. He was so excited to belong to a family legally but to them he was already family and this just made it official. The concept of leaving the old behind and changing your name is so symbolic to me. National adoption day is my favorite. These adoption moments bring me to tears because these kids are so worthy of love and having a family.

There are well over 6000+ children/teens waiting for good homes. These children are not in an orphanage, they are in foster homes in your own backyard- longing for permanency. You would be surprised how fast some parents relinquish their rights and decide to leave their child in foster care. It's heartbreaking.

The most fulfilling work I've ever done was serve these legends. Remember for every number there is a name and a face-these are precious little lives. I hope your heart can be opened to adoption. It's a beautiful, tough, rewarding, and life-changing journey.

Get out there people. Open your homes. Love a child or teen.

If you are scared of being in it alone, you won't be! There are so many support groups that meet in person and online. You will have support.

You will not regret it.

If you don't feel called to adopt then help someone else financially.

Do your part.

You can learn more about adoption through All In Orphan Care and Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

XOXO

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We weren't always this close...

MOTHERS DAY is a day to celebrate these wonderful selfless human beings that raise children who eventually become presidents, doctors, pastors, scientist, architects, athletes, musicians, and daughters that one day become mothers. 

As a child I was closer to my dad than my mom. I thought my mom was not cool. She did not dress cool like the other moms. She was not "hip" like I wanted her to be (real selfish right?!) and I did not understand her. We are already completely opposite personality wise. I could have sworn that God gave me the wrong mother. I was a good kid but once I turned 10 my mom and I had a rough road ahead. I never wanted her to be around my friends. She was not cool enough. I even had the audacity to try (notice I said try because it did not work) and ignore her in public. I remember a season where weren't getting along. I was constantly saying hurtful things and giving her a hard time. It was rough #TheStruggle. There are so many stories I could tell but just know, I had plenty of come to Jesus meetings with my mom during those pre-teen/teen years. She was a force to be reckoned with and Lord knows you do not mess with a black momma.

Thankfully college and distance helped our relationship to really have time to grow and develop. After I graduated from college I needed a roommate to live with in Houston. I desperately wanted to live in the city. So my mom packed up her stuff and moved to the city a few months before me. We had a rough start as "grown" up roommates. Let me tell you, I have been trying for a year to get another roommate but it just doesn't work out. We have become such buddies. My mom has literally become my best friend. I completely understand her now. In fact, I am so humbled that I get to be her daughter. She may have held me up in 300 + prayer meetings growing up but she taught me how to talk to God and listen for his voice. She taught me how to serve others, how to forgive quickly, extend grace, be a lady, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and chase after my dreams. If I tell my mom my biggest dream, she says, "Yes I can see that. Lets get started, lets make it happen!" She is the most incredible human being I have ever met. I wouldn't trade her as a roommate for anything! What fun we have! Movie nights, running together, praying together, laughing together, and watching our favorite shows. Did I mention that she is a counselor? So yes, I get free informal counseling sessions. She is keeping me in line people. She is the best. I want to love and display Jesus to people the way she does to me on a daily basis.

So to all you mommies out there. You are doing a great job. If in moments we kids don't seem to like you, don't worry it will get better. We will learn that you were right about a lot of stuff. We will learn how much we need you and value you. Its a process but trust me, we will get it. You all are the most precious people and I admire each and everyone of you.

 

Happy Mothers Day to all!

 

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