I’m featuring the podcast, Motherhood Unmasked, hosted by Vanessa Harris. Vanessa is also an author and a speaker. She is passionate about equipping women to take off the masks they wear and embrace their true identity. She is compassionate and resonates with wisdom.
In this episode, Vanessa addresses the very real concern that many women are facing during this pandemic and it isn’t the virus, it’s the abuser they live with. With grace and kindness, Vanessa brings encouragement and hope to the woman who may find herself feeling more isolated than ever.
If you or someone you know is in this situation and needs help, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233
At a time when there is so much to say about women’s empowerment and what it means, all I can think of is the message I want my own daughter to take into the world with her when she leaves the safety of this nest. I hope it resonates with you, too. Feel free to share it if it does.
Dear Sweet Girl,
I wanted to take a moment to tell you something: You are valuable.
I know, I say that a lot. But here’s the thing: you’re soon going to be out in the world on your own and I won’t be there to buffer you from the messages that it will send to you, which will likely be very different.
The world will tell you that sex sells, that in order to climb the ladder, get ahead, reach your pinnacle of success, you must compromise your standards and use your sexuality to help you advance.
I say to you, you have been created with a brain that is beautiful and bright and full of curiosity and good thinking skills. You are creative and smart. You are able to problem-solve and research ideas and work with others to bring together something that is good and beneficial. You have deep and profound thoughts that sometimes blow my socks off because, at 17, you are so much smarter than I was.
The world will tell you that sex is the most important aspect of a relationship, that if you want to know your compatibility with a person you must give up the one thing that you can only give away once, your virginity.
I say to you that sex…is amazing. And scary. And sometimes, heartbreaking. The act of sex is about so much more than two naked bodies. Sex is intimacy at it’s deepest. It is giving your whole self to another person – your mind, your heart, and your body. It is a connection that will leave you inextricably connected with whoever you partner with for as long as you live. You don’t need to have great sex in order to have a good relationship. You need to have a great relationship that can withstand even the difficult times in your sex life, because those times will come, no matter who you are or who you’re with.
The world will tell you that you are too young, too small, too insignificant to listen to. Or that you are too much – too loud, too bossy, too emotional.
I say you are just right. You have been created by God for a purpose and He has given you talents and gifts and passions to fulfill that purpose. There will be roadblocks along the way, but you can overcome. Because your youth has fire in its belly. Your size gives you swiftness and grace to adapt. Your words carry compassion and empathy and wisdom. Your volume is needed in a world that wants to close its ears to the plight of so many who have no voice. Your ability to lead and point others toward their gifts is a strength, not bossiness. And those feelings…those deep, deep feelings, when you hurt for those who hurt and you celebrate the victories of others, those are a reflection of Jesus.
The world will do it’s best to box you in. To say that as a woman, your value is found between your legs and in your willingness to compromise what you believe and know to be true about who you are and Whose you are.
I say, don’t ever forget, my sweet child that you are a masterpiece, created by God. You are the apple of His eye. He rejoices over you with singing and dancing because His love for you knows no depths. There is no end to His affection for you.
I wish that I could protect you from all that life will throw at you. There will be great loss and sadness in your life. There will be days you think you can’t breathe, much less get out of bed. There will be times when it feels like everything and everyone is doing it’s best to crush you. Know this, my girl, in the words of author Kathryn Stockett, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” And none of that is to be taken lightly.
Go bravely into the world. Be the empowered woman that you are.
If we are born into this world we will, at some point, experience the exquisite pang of loss. We will weep for what was and mourn what will never be again. This world, it seems is the perfect training ground for grief and sadness.
But Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, as found in Matthew chapter 5, tells his followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
He doesn’t elaborate on this point, or frankly, any of the points he’s making in this exact moment of his discourse. He leaves it plain and simple. Essentially what he’s saying is, “The people who mourn will be happier than those that don’t because they’ll be comforted.”
Well, that seems odd, doesn’t it? Because like I said, if life teaches us anything, it’s that we’re all going to mourn at some point. So, what makes this statement so poignant?
This week, Brandy explores this brief beatitude by looking further into Jesus’ own suffering, the mission he was prophetically called to when he stepped into humankind as a man, and the mission of his second coming.
We’ll be looking at Matthew 5:5, John 11:32-38a, Isaiah 61:1-3, and 2 Corinthians 1:3.
The fact is, we are not alone in our suffering and grief. We have a God who can relate to our pain and has stepped into it with us.
Listen to this week’s episode to find out how well he can relate to us and what he promises us as our future with him unfurls.
So many girls dream of the day they will one day become a mother. They envision their little dolls come to life. Cooing, crying, snuggled in tight. Finally, when the time comes and they’re ready to make this dream into a reality, it doesn’t always end up quite the way they’d planned.
The road to motherhood can be a difficult one at best, riddled with infertility, loss, confusion, isolation, and depression.
This week we present a 2-part conversation with Lisa Page and her own harrowing journey.
Years of miscarriages and stillbirths, hope-filled expectations and shattered dreams, Lisa has felt every high and every low a woman can feel as she longed to finally bring a living baby home from the hospital.
Tune in to hear how God used this suffering to draw Lisa into a deeper, more grace-filled relationship with Him. Hear how she learned to cope with the well-intentioned and often painful words of condolence that she received.
Mostly, find hope as you listen to one woman’s journey as she learned that all the plans we make take a back seat to the sovereignty and goodness of God.
“Even in laughter the heart may be in pain. And the end of joy may be grief.” – Proverbs 14:13
Life is short, isn’t it?
Some days may slog on for eternity, but really, if you look back over your life, it’s gone pretty quickly. I remember when Prince was proclaiming we’re going to party like it’s 1999. And honestly, it just doesn’t seem that long ago.
But the fact is, our time here is brief. Maybe even briefer than we know.
In the past year, I have become acquainted with three separate families who have all had a child who’s been seriously injured in horrendous car accidents. These are good, Christian families with good, Christian kids. They weren’t drinking and driving. They weren’t doing anything “bad.” They were just at the wrong place, at the wrong time and life suddenly and irrevocably changed.
These young, bright, vivacious, healthy and active young people on the cusp of becoming independent have been brought to a place where they are fighting to relearn what they used to take for granted. And their parents are right there beside them, learning just how insignificant their efforts to protect their children have been.
I have watched these stories unfold as moms and dads are sharing the victories and the pain as they watch their children fight to live and then relearn how to walk. I hear their sorrow as they recall the bittersweet memories of their child on the basketball court, running and jumping with elegance and grace.
These are parents that never expected to be sitting up all night in their child’s hospital room, nurses and doctors speaking in hushed voices as the machines that are pumping life into their child hum and whir. They’re parents who, when their baby was taking their first uncertain steps, clinging to the coffee table, were making plans and sharing dreams about what their little lives would hold. They never imagined this is where they’d be 16 years later. Wondering, will my baby even live?
I spent yesterday in town running errands. Sometimes I really appreciate the time to do these simple chores on my own. I turn on a podcast or music, I pray, I people watch. It’s nice to have the time to just think.
But yesterday, my son, Evan wanted to join me. He’s 18, getting ready to venture out into life on his own before long and I was happy to have him by my side yesterday, not because I asked him for help, but because he just wanted to tag along. I figure I might as well take advantage of those moments while I can because they’re coming to an end.
We spent several hours in town, first in a local big-box store then on to get groceries. It truly wasn’t a remarkable trip except for this: the laughter that we shared.
We laughed so hard in Costco, as we sat stuck in an oversized lounge chair, sure that an employee was going to come and tell us to kindly remove ourselves from the store and never come back. We annoyed other customers who also wanted to take a seat in this, the comfiest of chairs, but we simply refused to move. We were having too much fun.
We laughed about everything. We talked about nothing. We shared a moment. That’s all it was.
My to-do list for the week is a mile long and seems to be growing by the hour. There was a part of me yesterday that really wanted to just blast through the errands and then move on to the work that’s piling up on my desk.
But then I remembered these parents whose lives are forever changed because they almost lost their child to a tragic event. And I remembered those parents I know whose children don’t even have the opportunity to relearn what once came so easily because their kids are gone. They don’t get to hear their voice or hug them close ever again.
And I embraced the moment to spend a few hours with this man-child of mine, who’s taller and stronger than me, but whom I will always and forever see as the little toddler just learning how to step out on his own. I cherished our time together to be silly, to laugh hard, to make memories and create inside jokes.
We don’t know what tomorrow or even the rest of today holds. We don’t know when our time is up when God will say, “It’s time to come home,” so we have to make the moments count.
Every chance, every day…. Be present. Say, “I love you.” Hug them hard.
Grief and pain are guaranteed. They may even be just around the corner. So hang on to the present and give thanks to the God who loves us in and through every storm life brings our way.
He wasn’t a perfect man. Nor was she a perfect woman.
When they got married in December of 1968, they were just a couple of young college kids. With nary a penny in their pockets and a baby on the way, they set out to make a life together.
In 1973, they added another in their ranks. I came along and made our family an even number. By this point, Dad was teaching social studies and coaching. The easy days of youthful ambition were a thing of the past; the horizon was a sea of adult responsibilities.
In all honesty, my childhood was pretty charmed. For most of it, we lived in one house, across from the local golf course. I had two friends nearby, Mike and Jesse and we spent countless hours riding our bikes, retrieving lost golf balls, building forts and exploring the woods. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad were just that…Mom and Dad.
They both worked full time. They both made every effort to come to our games or plays. They cheered hard at our every success. They put food on the table and clothes on our backs. It was, for the most part, a very stable home full of love. We knew what to expect as kids and our parents were consistent.
But every now and then, one of them would come home after a hard day at work. They both worked at local schools and saw the best and worst of the families they crossed paths with. And of course, school was and continues to be, fraught with politics and pressure.
I remember Dad coming home one day. It was in the fall, a chilly afternoon. Mom had come home exhausted and I, like any self-respecting young teenager conveniently only cared about my own existence, so didn’t seek to lighten her load any. When Dad walked through the door, it was clear that his day had been markedly better than hers.
He barely even kissed her on the cheek before she said, “You’re taking me to dinner tonight. I don’t care where. I’m not cooking.”
Mind you, we lived on a budget. Dinners out were a rare treat. I stood there, slack-jawed, waiting for Dad to respond with a loud voice, listing all the reasons we couldn’t afford to go out. In retrospect, I don’t think he’d ever done that before, but I’d also never seen my mom so adamantly put her foot down over a meal. Anything seemed possible.
Dad looked at her and said, “Okay. Where do you want to go? Brandy, get your coat.”
That was the moment I think when I really knew how deeply my parents loved each other.
It was such an easy exchange. No drama. No tears. No need for explanation. Just a simple need expressed and a gentle response of understanding. We grabbed our coats and headed out the door.
I asked Dad about it later. For some reason, the whole thing had taken me by such surprise. I asked why he was so quick to say yes. He turned to me and said, “If a dinner out every now and then is going to make your mom happy, I’m happy to do that. She doesn’t ask for much.” And then he went back to puttering.
It didn’t take much at all to make Mom happy that night. It took her husband, making the small effort to hear her words and know her heart and respond with a loving ‘yes’. That’s all.
And not only did we leave the restaurant that night, full of good food and laughter on our lips, not only did Mom feel valued and loved, but I walked away with an amazing picture of what love looks like.
As a child, it was an important moment that showed me how tenderly my dad honored his wife. That one simple act spoke volumes.
He wasn’t perfect. Nor was she. But they loved each other and they loved us. That love was displayed in a million different little ways and I’m forever grateful that my childhood was built on a foundation that they built together.
[Pictured: Jim and Teresa Page; circa 1995. Ogden, Utah.]
This is a vast subject so today’s show only skims the surface. If you have more specific parenting issued you’d like us to discuss, please email us!
Due to technical difficulties, there is no transcript at this time. To view transcripts from previous episodes check out our Show Notes in the blog archives.
Also, we are looking for clever names for our new segment where we talk about all the things we love about road trips. If you have a great name for us, drop us a line!
Likewise, we want your road trip stories! Share your favorite or most memorable road trip, who your favorite traveling buddy is, where you like to go…whatever! You can e-mail us your (brief) stories to be featured on the show!
I’ve been searching my brain for something inspiring to say about moms. Guess what? The card companies have said it all.
Moms are strong. They seem to have boundless reserves of patience and love. They are multi-taskers extraordinaire. Their hugs are the best and their love makes any illness heal quicker.
At least, if you’re lucky. Which I am.
My mom has been a mom for almost 50 years. That seems wrong to me, as I remain firm in my belief that she’s only 37. I digress…
She and my dad said hello to child #1 in 1968 – my brother. Their lives weren’t really complete though, until 5 years later when I made my grand debut in 1973. It’s been nothing but joy ever since. I’m sure of it.
(My mom, Teresa and brother, Chris and I on one of our get-away trips. We started these shortly after my dad died in 1997, as a way to stay connected. They don’t happen nearly often enough, but are cherished when they do.)
Listen, rather than share everything that I did to make my mom’s life so wonderful (at least, that’s how I remember it), I just want to publicly declare how awesome my mom is.
Through noisy creative expression, sports and drama practices and events, heartbreaks, teenage rebellion, angst, my own mothering and wife crises, she has been a rock. She’s been there with encouragement and correction, in equal measure. She’s shared her own heart and struggles and allowed me to speak into her life. She’s become my best friend and will forever remain my mama.
I know that not everyone is so fortunate and believe me, I count my blessings daily for the relationship that we’ve built. I hope that wherever life finds you this Mother’s Day, you will be able to reflect on the women that have influenced your own life, whether they’re family or not. Likewise, as women, whether our own wombs are fruitful or we’re longing for the day when we hold a chosen child in our arms, I pray that we would also be influencers in the lives of the young people around us.
Thanks, Mom for being an amazing role model of strength, love and compassion. I love you beyond words.