Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Review of Mom's Night Out

The first time I viewed the film, Mom’s Night Out, was at a preview during the 2014 Hearts at Home Conference in Bloomington, Illinois. Sitting in a room filled with moms from all across the spectrum, laughter and tears dominated. I was left encouraged and entertained anticipating opening day in the theaters.

When opening weekend hit, I gathered two groups of friends to watch the movie. Whether we were a large group of 10 or an intimate group of 3, moms from different seasons of life connected over this presentation. Each time, the movie spurred laughs and heartfelt emotions that were very authentic.

After having seen the show 3 times, I still felt the need to return to the theater once more with my husband. Now that I’ve watched it with him, I finally feel like I’ve had my fill. Hearing his laughter validated the relevance of the flick. I wasn’t just some crazy stay-at-home mom connecting only because I was in desperate need of some time away. My husband’s response confirmed the reality that our life paralleled with the main characters of the movie on so many levels.

Sure, everything in this film is taken a bit to the extreme. That’s usually how comedies work, isn’t it? Each moment is just relatable enough to play with the heartstrings. All the while, each scene is taken to the point where every mind over exaggerates the situation but never quite experiences in effort to brings forth the laughs.

The movie comes from the perspective of the main character, Allyson: a stay-at-home mom. Her mind works very similarly to the way mine operates in real life… as well as that of the many other moms I know (stay-at-home, working part-time or full-time aside). This was the BEST movie I’ve seen in a long time. Hollywood needs to produce more movies like this and “movie critics” should find some perspective from those of us who live it out every day.

Allyson expresses the sum of her feelings: “I can’t. No matter how hard I try or how much I give. I’m not enough.”

These were the lines that brought me to tears the first time I watched “Mom’s Night Out” because it's how I feel. I’m not a stay-at-home mom because I’m forced to be. My vocation in life is a choice. Just like any choice, we sometimes need a reminder that what we do is important.

The difference between being in the workforce and choosing to find your identity in your role at home is in the validation. In the corporate world, we are given performance reviews and receive pay checks. While my job earlier in life was “only” that of a legal secretary, I was respected in the work I did. My boss, other attorneys, loan officers, realtors and even clients endorsed my efforts. These days, voices come at me from every angle as to how I do not measure up.

Don’t get me wrong. My husband supports me and encourages me. I love my kids and I have a purpose outside of raising my children and cleaning my home. Still, it’s not the same as being in the workplace. Having my husband notice all my hard work and sacrifice isn’t the same as the affirmation of a boss or colleague or even a pay check or other type of reward.

A couple of characters in the movie find themselves mesmerized by an “Eagle cam”. They stare endlessly at a Momma Eagle taking care of her babies. Towards the end of the movie, I found myself taken by surprise with some encouragement as an unlikely source.

“He loves you. No matter who you are or what you do or how far you run. Jesus will always love you with His arms open wide. Just for being you. It’s a beautiful thing watching one of God’s creation do just what He created it to do. And that’s enough.”

No matter how loudly the outside world shouts, don’t let them guilt or deceive you. Being a stay-at-home mom is a worthy profession. It’s our job to raise the next generation.

“I’m a mess. But I’m a beautiful mess. I’m His masterpiece and that’s enough!”

Don’t listen to the critics. Get out and see Mom’s Night Out. This movie is worth every penny!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Submission Story

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I like to be in control.

To the extreme.

One time my pastor gave a sermon on “How to live with the Control Freak in your Life”… it ended up in my mailbox… to this day I don’t know who put it there.


Extreme is probably a good word to define me. Although passionate is the word I would choose to paint myself in a slightly better light. I think I’ve always been this way.

Upcoming events leave me filled with great anticipation or terrible dread. When something doesn’t meet my expectations, I tend to be highly disappointed. Sadly, everyone around me knows it too. I have a difficult time containing my emotions.

Today is the Third Thursday of the month which means it is time for the Hearts at Home blog Hop. I’ve been thinking all day about the topic “Love Your Story”. I wrote about it for the past (in) RL conference a couple months ago. You can read part of my story here. The question on my mind was “What part of my ‘story’ should I be sharing today?”

The other day I posted Psalm 37:4 as my Facebook status: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

For quite some time now, my husband has been a slave to his job. Unfortunately, it has just been getting worse as time goes on. More work. More travel. Less family. Less anything that isn’t work related. He just met a major project deadline. Instead of receiving appreciation for his hard work, he received more deadlines. He came home from work and informed me of all the deadlines and demands that were being placed on him. It seemed like there wasn’t an end in sight.

What he didn’t know was that a phone call came for him that day from a company he had interviewed with about a year and a half ago. We had declined their offer at the time because it would have involved a serious pay cut. God now was laying this job in his lap. We were confident this was His deliverance for us all the while not wanting to assume we knew God’s plans for our future.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” My husband just got vacation time reinstated at work. (For almost a year, there has been no time off outside of holidays.) He already had days scheduled for vacation when he received the call for an interview. The first day off now became an interview day. And while we had hoped he would receive an immediate offer and be able to quit his current high demanding job, we were thankful he had a couple days off of work.

Uncertain if a job offer would come his way, he returned to work. Meetings informed him that his bosses were not only talking about sending him out-of-state again but out-of-the-country as well. That’s when the job offer came through. God’s timing is always perfect. He was offered more than we had expected with zero travel and minimal overtime. God delivered us from a depressing situation.

When my husband resigned from his job today, he was asked what they could do to change his mind. While it must feel wonderful to him to have such expressions, he confidently turned them down. His desires are lined up with God’s. It isn’t about how much money he makes or what position they can give him. He works as a means to provide for our needs. He doesn’t live to work. There’s a big difference and I am so grateful that God gave me this man.

My mom commented on my Facebook post: “As we are delighting the Lord... in His Word... in His Truth... in His Way... His desire becomes the desire of our hearts.” Tonight it settled into my heart how very much this has become my story.

A year and a half ago, when my husband was offered a low ball position with his soon-to-be employer, I discouraged him from taking the job. I was unwilling to submit to his decision. I couldn’t see how we could keep our current standard of living if he took such a substantial reduction in income. I was unwilling to trust my husband. More than that, I was unwilling to trust God. I’ve wondered ever since if we would have avoided this stress if I had just submit to my husband.

Very recently, I cried to my friend. “I’m willing to take whatever kind of pay cut necessary to have him home again. I hate seeing him so consumed with work. He’s miserable and we aren’t able to fully live the way we want.” Money all of a sudden wasn’t so important to me. Work had become the chains he wore and they had imprisoned our entire family. I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was my fault. And yet God softened my heart and allowed me to learn through the pain.

Just this past week, my husband had a large tree in our backyard cut down. It’s been a burden on his heart to have it taken down for years now. I’ve resisted because it was a beautiful fully grown tree that hid a giant utility pole in our yard. Now there is only an eye sore.

I explained to him that I knew the tree had to come down. I was just highly disappointed. He was grateful for the reassurance that I trusted his decision.

When I took my daughter to the bus stop later that morning, the neighbor at the end of the street had a full grown tree split in two that had fallen into the street. My girls asked me why the tree broke. I informed them that it broke for the same reason their Daddy wanted our tree taken down. It was just another clear message from God that I can trust the rules He puts on my life. I can trust my husband’s decisions.

My husband is seeing the movie “Irreplaceable” tonight with a friend. The only reason he could agree to go was because this new job came through. Otherwise he would be working long hours once again tonight as he has been for a very long season. My husband is a gift from God.

My selfish desires are not for the best. How many times will this lesson have to repeat itself? I always think I know best. I hope God will remind me of this story the next time I think it’s my way or the highway.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This doesn’t mean that He will grant us our every wish as though He is our magic genie. It means that He will align our desires to match His desires. We will be able to clearly see His active presence in our lives.

I've never been one to be very good at submitting to my husband. It feels good to be in control and I have some apparent trust issues. It’s taking time and I know I still have much more to learn... but I think I can say that I’m finally willing to give the pen over to God and let Him write His story on my heart. 

His plans are always best.

(Head over to Jill's blog to see what other women have to say on loving their stories.)