Menopause, make up and public school

I hate makeup on my face. I haven’t really been one to wear much of it and only started “covering” my face with a concealer because things have shown up that I would like to “conceal”. Menopause sucks in so many ways, in more ways than I anticipated or thought. And public school has been a gift from God!

For the last four years, I have struggled to get my body back in balance. My last child was born 10 years ago and really that was when it all started but the last few years particularly have been hard. I found out last week that I am officially in menopause. That day, I sent a few friends a text message expressing my mixed emotions.

Since this discovery, I have felt some relief because now I know why certain things are happening or not happening, if you know what I mean, but I also feel grief. I am remembering when I had three children under three and a middle-schooler and recall a day when a friend was sharing her discovery of menopause with me while I was pulling my hair out and couldn’t possibly imagine feeling grief over no more babies, while she was mourning her new reality. Now I know…

Between bouts of a need to cry and for what seems to be no apparent reason,  spending money on quality make up to conceal “things”, remembering post-partum blues I experienced after each birth, flashes of my new season of life and then forgetting what I went to the kitchen for, I go back to what I know is true and doesn’t change – God – and for that I weep tears of humility and great love for my King.

Interestingly, according to medical professionals, the fluctuation in hormones during post-partum is the same in menopause – I guess we really do go full circle.

But there are reasons to cry and grieve.

Several things come to mind: first, how I placed my identity in my children or (motherhood), that I came to a point recently when I really wasn’t sure who I was anymore, and that my beauty was more about having babies and being a mom than being Michelle. The second thing that comes to mind is it’s almost as if the last 26 years of my life (the age range of my children) is sitting in a box in front of me and I have an aerial view of it all! Not that I have an “empty nest” but with teens still at home, and three grown adult children I feel strange sometimes.

I see many mothers around me that seem so worn thin and weary. They are in the box of motherhood and can hardly see above. Which takes me back to the last four years and brings to me to today and a recent turn of events that seems to fit nicely with everything that is changing – we made the decision to send our children to public school and what feels like subjecting my children to Satan yet I see very clearly now that this was straight from the hand of God, that’s right, that’s what I just said, I AM A CHRISTIAN AND USED TO HOME SCHOOL AND I SENT MY CHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL…

You probably don’t want to mess with me on this because I am menopausal!

But I had to ask myself: what type of atmosphere have we created in the Church that I feel the need to be defensive about putting my children in public school, where does all this come from? (I am leaving these as rhetorical questions) I love my children and care very much about their spiritual state and perhaps God asks some of us to entrust our children to him and let them go sooner and in different ways like Hannah who promised God that she would give her only son Samuel to the priest hood where he would be surrounded by Eli’s evil sons!

Obviously I am not saying that one turn of events caused the other but God is using menopause, make up and public school to show me that there are seasons to everything and the only thing that doesn’t change is him!

As I walk through this process and grieve what I have “lost”, I am encouraged to know there are also things to celebrate, like my new found desire to wear makeup!

Then there is writing…

I enjoyed writing one of my last posts on writing. I have another thought about writing so I am writing about writing again. Whew…that was a lot of “writing’s.”

I tend to be more of a protagonist but I have this annoyingly overwhelming part of me that is very antagonistic.  In an almost sick kind of way I like being the antagonist. I remember learning about the characters of writing in a Literature of the Bible class in college. It was at the University of Maryland, although I wasn’t in Maryland, I was in Okinawa, Japan. I like the way this writer explains the roles of an antagonist and protagonist. Basically, I am just saying that my personality which is both fighter and peacemaker is what I want to express in my writing and I liken it to the antagonist and protagonist roles in literature.

Side bar: There is something to be said about the richness of University coursework as compared to a community college. Not only am I speaking as a student who attended both but I currently work in an advising capacity at the local community college and appreciate the work we do.  I remember it was the first writing class that I really learned about the elements of literature. Adding this sidebar is one thing I remember learning. And even though its not exactly fitting in this type of writing, I am still doing it anyway; why, because I am a rule breaker and an antagonist.

I don’t like reading all writing, there is a part of me that appreciates all writing because I think I am writer. But in effort to not offend I will refrain from expressing what writing I don’t like.

Let’s just say, I think writing should be real and raw, I think non-fiction writing should stir up and draw out the reader. It should resonate in the soul of the reader. We don’t always have to relate to the experience of the writer but good non-fiction writing should serve as a reminder that all man kind has the same struggles. Most “devotionals” I read don’t do that, they share their struggle superficially and all spiritually (yes that was antagonistic), ask a series of surface level questions in an attempt for you the reader to summarize what you read but not quite reach your heart – their isn’t this soulish exchange through summarizing, it doesn’t address the heart’s cry!

I feel frustrated about the amount of written work on parenting, marriage, friendship, etc., and yet we are still screwed up. We put so much emphasis on obedience and “spirituality” and forget relationship. We  can spend so much time on doctrine and theology that we forget the simplicity of love and the realness of pain. We miss all the barriers, wrong thinking, familiar patterns we learned in our childhood, that we are not free rather we walk around with this heavy yoke around our necks making Christianity look like drudgery!

At first, I spent a lot of time blaming “the church” and I still do because I believe its still the stumbling block to many coming to Christ. But I also see that it has more to do with the weight, or expectation that I put on people since “they have been Christians for blank amount of years” or because they are the “Pastor.” When I remove that expectation from the equation I am left with nothing more than another human just like me with different gifts, strengths and struggles.

Writing is risky especially when you speak of those you care about! As Yancy said of Buechner, at some point its about you writing from your perspective, rather than writing to tell someone else’s story. In this post, I am referencing other areas not exactly related to family secrets as Buechner we referencing but its still the same concept, my Pastor might read this and feel uncomfortable because my perspective involves him indirectly, just like my Mom read my story about her recommending I get an abortion.

My writing brings out or should I say let’s me freely be the protagonist and antagonist in my perspective of life. While the war within is real; I don’t want to offend, I want peace. Part of me wants to be quiet and careful, but I want to write. I do hope to encourage someone out there to be real about what they see, believe or feel – the good, bad and ugly! Writing to me is the place where the writer and reader connect on a soul level and share something common.

Writing About Writing

I am an INTJ. Yep you got it, those are my results from the Myer-Briggs personality test. I am not so inclined to be with people, really, and I know that sounds mean. But I think that’s why I love words. The irony of this though is that my primary love language is quality time. I know… funny right! Well actually I think it’s really awesome – its kind of like the checks and balances of the judicial system – I actually feel somewhat balanced in what seems to be a dilemma!

This post isn’t about personality tests or love languages. It’s about my writing. I am still reading Soul Survivor, currently on the chapter about Frederick Buechner. I was so moved by this chapter that I must write.

At last Buechner had found a voice for his nonfiction. He need not be a theologian like his teachers at Union. He need not be a preacher of sermons. He could simply fashion stories and meaning out of the material of his own life, just as he already did in his fiction…all of them convey Buechner’s personal voice, his deliberate mining of subterranean strata for a hidden message of God. Like a beachcomber, he goes over and over the same patch of sand, seeking buried treasure.

That’s it. I don’t want to write devotions and I don’t want to sound preachy. I just want to tell you about my life, from my perspective, what I see of God, nature, and people. I just want to listen to my life, all the happenings of the day, connect the dots of that day to a prior one, and pull it all together to find meaning.

As a learner, with strengths in ideation and connectedness I am constantly observing the world around me, compiling my ideas about people and God to connect them together intuitively to eventually express in writing.

Knowing my strengths, personality traits and how I feel loved empowers me but I still have trouble with shyness, and putting my stuff out there for the whole world to see, literally!

Every writer must overcome shyness, putting out of mind the fear that we are being arrogant by thrusting ourselves upon you the reader, and egotistical assuming our words are worth your time. Why should you care about what I have to say? What right have I to impose myself on you?

That is exactly what I think.

In fact, I have a recent experience that exemplifies this well. I try to send an email out regularly to a few ladies who are part of my small group. We are studying the Names of God, so I like to stir us up a little and share a little something from the current “Name” we are studying. Well, I began my email in the normal fashion until I felt the Spirit prompting me to say something different. I wasn’t a fan at all about this prompting. So I began typing, starting with almost the same words quoted above, “you may not even read this or care to but I am going to say what I feel I should anyway.” It turns out one of the women woke up at 4 AM a few nights later and read the email and it was exactly what she needed to hear to pray herself back to sleep!

It is one thing to spill your own secrets, and quite another to spill someone else’s. Several times Buechner and I have discussed the occupational hazards of writing, especially the unavoidable wounds we inflict on people close to us.

This was exactly my initial reasoning for dismissing the slightest thought of writing my story. My story involves a lot of people, a lot of people who may not want “their business in the streets.” But I do remember when I began and as I look back at my second post, these were my exact words: don’t want to impose.

For this reason only late in his career did Buechner dredge up certain family secrets…Out of consideration for his mother, who jealously guarded family secrets, Buechner did not write directly of his father’s suicide for decades…Finally Buechner decided that he had as much right to tell his father’s story as his mother had to tell of her husband’s story and his memoirs began to probe the family tragedy.

I concluded that I had a story to tell from my perspective, fully aware I could wound some in the process, I took the risk and started writing. I have no regrets.

Why do we do it, we writers?…I think we do it because each of us has nothing else to offer than a living point of view that differentiates us from every other person on this planet. We must tell our stories to someone.

All quotes come Soul Survivor, by Phillip Yancey.

Tomorrow…

Tomorrow, my daughter Mary, who I placed for adoption, will turn 24 years old. When I think about this, I wonder not necessarily as a mother but as a woman what she struggles with. Does she have friends in her life that speak truth to her and encourage her when she is down? And in light of my last post does she know she is significant and has an irreplaceable role in this life?

The irony of all this is that I didn’t know I had an irreplaceable role and beauty that no one could take when I was her age. I exchanged it all for a lie. I bought the lie that boyfriends, sex and being the bad girl would give me significance and beauty.

prom mom 2

As a result of believing this I ended up with all types of troubles including two unplanned pregnancies among other consequences. I say that carefully and very lightly. To be clear, both Mary’s life and Xaviar’s are precious and planned by the Creator. He makes no mistakes!

Surely, my consequences could have been something different than pregnancy, after all, there are plenty of women we know that can’t have children, couldn’t God have closed my womb and caused it not to bear life? Absolutely! But he didn’t.

The acceptance and affirmation we seek in this life can only be met God. I am not saying God can’t bring people into your life to speak into these places, he did for me, especially as a young woman who didn’t have a father, but apart from God’s will, seeking this out how we think best will only end in grief and disappointment.

Unfortunately, even after two pregnancies, I still struggled to see my worth and ended up remarrying with lots of baggage only to discover that I still through marriage was seeking something only the Father could restore. I remember when all the disappointment was laid bare for me to see! Years of seeking temporary fixes to my unmet need – all along my beauty and irreplaceable role that gave me significance and affirmation I already had, it is who I am and always was.

Cool pic with Sam

The story isn’t finished, as I am still walking out marriage and womanhood, but one thing I am sure of now, I don’t need a husband, friends, money, or success to tell me I am beautiful and worth it. My worth is found in God alone. God is and has restored the broken places of hurt and disappointment.

We are worth more than selling ourselves to an empty lie… whatever the lie is you are tempted to believe.

I pray that every woman who reads this will seek and find the truth, know your worth, that your choices don’t have to make or break you, and God is a Redeemer!

I would certainly be blown away if she sought me out! I would be honored to have that place in her life to remind her who she is. For now, I pray the God who delights over her and celebrates her life keeps her pure and holds her in the palm of his hands!