Friday, October 21, 2011

Titus2Woman: Lora

As a wife and mother, I’ve learned so much from other women in my life.  Recently, I thought, why not ask some women to share their thoughts about motherhood with the rest of us?  So today is the start of a series I’ve entitled Titus2Woman. 

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Lora.

Lora is a woman I met through my church.  She and her husband, Phil, have been an inspiration and encouragement to both Tim and I through their faithfulness and dedication to the work God has called them to.   If you’re a young mother dealing with depression, grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair and get ready!  I know Lora’s story will touch your life!

Here’s Lora:

Phil and I met when we were just teenagers.  We started dating and four years later we were married.  Our wedding day came just two months after my high school graduation and this year we celebrated our twenty-seventh anniversary. 

As a young couple, Phil and I welcomed two daughters, Erika and Kendall, in to our home.  Erika is married now and is a hair stylist.  Our younger daughter, Kendall, is a sophomore at Kendall College of Art and Design where she is studying interior design.

I began looking back over my years as a young mother and I have many good memories.  For example, if we were going to be away from each other (like camp or trips), I would write several notes on little cards.  Sometimes it was the words to a song that we would sing at bedtime, or an "I Love You".  Sometimes I’d just jot down a nickname that I called them.  It didn’t matter really what it was, I just wanted to let them know I was thinking of them.

I would put the notes throughout their suitcase, or if I was the one going away, I would hide them among their clothes in their dressers.  In the end, they would always tell me how many they had found  - they wanted to make sure they had found every note.  I think I enjoyed writing them as much as they enjoyed getting them.

Another favorite memory comes from longer ago before we had air conditioning.  I loved hearing the sounds of Erika and Kendall playing on the side porch.  Their giggles would drift into the kitchen through the open windows and lace curtains with the summer breeze.  Those giggles stay with me as it was my goal for my girls to enjoy the innocence of childhood.  I had grown up in a broken home and I didn't want them to face the emotional turmoil I endured as a pre-teen.

Being a mother though, has its challenges.  For me, it was depression.  The depression started when Erika, my oldest was around two years old.  The depression seemed to take hold of my life – every moment of every day- seemed to be occupied by a deep dark cloud.  It took all my joy and all my energy. 

Day to day activities were tough!  Some days I wouldn’t even comb my hair.  I didn’t care.  I even thought of suicide but who would look after my daughters?   I could not go because who would protect them?

As I look over journals I had written during that time, I realize the different emotions I was struggling with were mostly anger and fear.  I desperately wanted to be a good mom and wanted to have a close family.  Repeatedly I prayed for forgiveness, I wanted God to take away my anger, and make me a “good mom and role model for my girls”.

In 1994, I wrote this in my journal:  “Help me to understand the questions of a 6 year old. Let me be young enough to be a 2 year old at heart.”  I wanted to be at peace in my heart and to feel safe.  I felt I was lacking that in my childhood. 

The depression lasted for about five or six years.  I had friends praying for me and I went to counseling.  I was learning I had to turn it all over to God.  I started listening to children’s praise tapes because that is all I could handle.  One memory that stands out was when one of my daughters would go shouting through the house, “Fear not for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10 (she had learned the verse in school).  I chuckle now, but I knew even then that it was a message to me from God.   

As I began to let go and started to forgive the hurts in my past, the gray haze began to lift.   It was like one of those roller shades that you pull and it snaps back up.  One day the haze was gone.  It was a spring day, I remember.  I stood looking around me surprised!   I had forgotten just how green the trees were.  I was startled by the bright red of the tulips!  Everything was sunny and beautiful.  I knew God was starting to heal the damaged emotions of my childhood.  I have come a long way from that period of my life.  

I still struggle sometimes with remnants of the depression, but I choose to forgive, and it becomes a fleeting thought.  No longer do I feel as though I’m struggling to reach the surface just to get a gulp of air and sink back to the bottom.  I have grown in my walk with God.  I know when I can’t, He can.

Something I wrote during my depression:
I cried for a child today
Locked in a closet—
Dark and silent
On the hangers were hung
Fear, shame and anger
God are you just another man?
Shadows were made by antique shrouds—
No recollection of the time
But on the hangers were hung
Fear, anger and shame
God are you just another man?

On 1/28/02, I wrote……NO

I was a stay at home mom for 15 years, than worked as an "on call" sub for a local school.  At the present time, I have my first 40 hour job ever.  I think being home all those years I somehow lost my identity.  Those years were busy years, but full of good memories.   After the girls left home, I had to redefine my value.  I now fill my new "free time" with hobbies, friends, books, things that bring me joy.  I am still needed by my children just in a different way.

My advice to young mothers is this – Choose your battles!   I chose to not stress about the trends with my teens.  When it came to morals and integrity though, it was a different story.   

My desire today is that I want to leave a positive impact on everyone I meet...even if is only once in this life time.  I also want my daughters to live a life filled with the purpose that God has for them - a life of confidence, knowing that they are daughters of the "King".  

A few final thoughts:

I was organizing some of Kendall's papers from her elementary years today and I was reminded how little time we have with our children.  We spend 18 years or so trying to encourage them, help them shape their character and then send them out into a big world.  I enjoyed all the stages of my daughter’s lives.  The younger years were a lot of work but there were treasures along the way.  I truly enjoyed their teenage years - to watch all that was instilled in them come to life.  The lessons that I learned along the way are lessons I will never forget.

These lessons were sometimes hard to do and are always a work in progress.

-Even though their opinion or view is different than mine does not mean they are wrong.

-Trust the decisions that they may have to make on their own........then pray, pray, pray.

-Learn to just be quiet and listen.....they may not need advice but just want to vent.

-Say you are sorry when you are wrong or have said something that was not out of love.

-Always give them the unconditional love they cannot get out in the world, because they deserve it and desperately need it.

As I walk through the house, it keeps getting bigger and quieter. Gone for now are the days of laughter through open windows, tea parties, puppet shows, play dough, silly songs, dress up and making commercials with the video camera.  It may seem sad to have an empty nest but there is also joy.  I am anxiously waiting to see who they will become, what life goals will they accomplish, and how God will work his plan for them in their lives.

If I could go back and have a conversation with the twenty-five year old version of myself, I would say this:  "You will never be alone.  Trust God for everything, pray with and for your children.   Always try to make it right even if the answer is "Okay, let’s work on that together, I'm sorry and I love you no matter the outcome.”

Kendall and Erika today

1 comment:

Crystal Mendez said...

Wow this totally just blessed my heart and brought me to tears GOOD TEARS! Tho
I am a YOUNG! mother of two toddlers!!!, who at times dont have a clue what im doing lol I didnt have a mother or a father growing up... But the Lord is my Father and teacher he has been so faithful to me,
I truly adore this post Thank You Jesus for the Body of Christ Amen