A Therapist in the Mother Zone

motherhood food body image culture

mommy, where is god?

last night, isaiah and i read part of the story of the last supper, focused on jesus washing the disciples feet, and jesus tells the disciples that he’s going back to god.

(this picture is from the jesus story book bible, which is what we mostly use)

this is part of the discussion which followed:

isaiah: is god real or pretend?

me: he’s real

isaiah: no, he’s not real. we can’t see him, he’s pretend!

me: he’s real. just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it can’t be real.

isaiah: where is god?

thus began a several minute conversation about where god is. as you might imagine, since i was having this conversation with a four year old, it was a pretty vague conversation. holy abstract concept batman! (not to mention, what does isaiah even mean by real and pretend?)

i made some attempts at answering his question–things like god is all around us, and he’s in our hearts, and in the love we have in our family etc–but he wasn’t really satisfied. so finally i said ‘you know what we could do? we could pray and you could ask god to show you where he is.’ so he did.

and then he informed me that he was going to write god a letter in the morning. (he has a whole one-sided letter writing relationship with the tooth fairy, having lost his first tooth via extraction earlier this year, so i think that’s what gave him the idea:))

he did write the letter this morning, but didn’t tell me what was in it. later, though, when he overheard me telling my friend kyra about this god conversation, he piped up with ‘i said “i want to see you god”‘

(for the future, stephen and i talked about how writing letters to god could be something we all do as a family, and that we could share them with each other sometimes.)
but in the present, i am curious about ways other people have found to talk with their kids about god.

i know the same things won’t work with every child, but i’m curious: what kinds of conversations have you had with your young children about god? specifically, how would you answer the question, ‘where is god?’ are there books for children your family has found helpful?

i did remember tonight that we have this wonderful book which may be helpful:

and one of my ‘things’ when it comes to god is that i don’t do black-and-white very well…i’m not wanting to give my children ‘let’s kill the mystery’ answers about god. i don’t even necessarily want to give my children answers, so much as i want to facilitate exploration….so i guess this post is a way of treasuring these moments with isaiah, and pondering them in my heart.

first ever family trip to a sugar bush!


i love maple candy!

i love maple candy!

me too!

me too!

mommy snuck this picture

mommy snuck this picture


donkey! (at the no petting petting zoo)

which comes first….

i found this quotation some time last year. i have had occasion to use it with clients a few times, and again today. i’m just realizing that this is a good one to ponder for lent, and fits well with the idea of ‘preparing for more’ that dale ryan speaks about in my last post.

“Surely one must repent before forgiveness is granted.” This is one of the primary errors common in American Christianity, because it assumes that forgiveness is obtained through our prerogative: we make the first move by repenting, and God reciprocates by forgiving. This is upside-down. Forgiveness is already granted. Christ granted forgiveness to those who crucified Him even as they were committing the act of crucifixion “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It doesn’t matter what evil thing you do — up to and including murdering the only begotten Son of God — God forgives you. Repentance is necessary not in order that forgiveness may be granted, but in order that forgiveness may be received. If we don’t recognize our sins as sins and don’t want to be rid of them, we won’t accept God’s mercy because we will feel that there is nothing to forgive.”

today for the first time i looked up the woman who said this. her name is melinda selmys, and it turns out she has a whole story, a book, and a blog, about finding new ways for catholics to talk about homosexuality. i have no idea if i’ll like what she has to say, but some day i’d like to spend some time with her blog, because professionally and personally i am interested in finding truly helpful ways for talking about the intersection of faith and homosexuality. sexual authenticity she calls it!

i think that what selmys says about forgiveness preceding repentance is freeing, and so liberating for our image of God. he’s not the angry old guy waiting for us to apologize and then grudgingly forgiving us. he’s the waiting father, ready to run out to greet us with the forgiveness that has already opened his heart, just waiting for us to make room in our hearts to receive it!

lent 2014

i think lent began a little more than a week ago. wasn’t ash wednesday something like march 5? anyhow, i’m just now developing a sense of what i’d like to do over the lenten season, in preparation for easter.

one of the things that has helped is watching this video by dale ryan :

preparing for more

i think this man’s words may be the most helpful EVER in my life for helping me understand lent, for giving me a framework that i really grasp in my core. we have lived with enough scarcity, so don’t give up things you enjoy, experiment with giving up things that are actually harmful to you, things that do prevent you from truly receiving and experiencing christ’s resurrection life.

i’m going to ponder what those things are for me, and try some experiments with ‘giving them up for lent.’ maybe shame? maybe fear of being rejected and excluded? resentment? stress? mistrust of god? we’ll see where the spirit leads….

and in between posts that reflect on that process, i think i want to make an effort simply to post other things that help me, speak to me, encourage me and challenge me in the lenten season. that might be quotations from books, poems, songs etc.


today was a day with the boys…a total mom day. mom days can be a bit of a blur, or a bit drab, or a bit je ne sais quoi…. but there are moments from this day worth remembering.

i’m not sure if it’s good or bad–definitely memorable– but i learned today what to do with a leftover half a can of sweetened condensed milk:

6 minute caramel recipe
1/4 cup butter 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to med-low, stir every minute or two to prevent scorching, pour into buttered small pan (8×8 or smaller), cool, cut into pieces, & twist in small pieces of wax paper – so easy!

the day began delightfully with a jodi-and-haddie playdate. lovely to connect up with jodi, and also lovely to see our kids play together.

today the weather was an incredibly sunny, a balmy 10 degrees celsius, and with the increase in light we have now, i finally am beginning to experience the shift in myself that i promise myself is coming all through january and february. it truly affects my mood and energy! even though more snow is coming tomorrow, i am dismayed! just being able to hang out in the backyard with the boys, without us all in pain from the cold, was so amazing. i can really tell the change in myself because despite the fact that aaron kept me up most of the night last night, and then had only a short nap today, i was actually in pretty good shape all day.

tonight isaiah asked me to read the winnie the pooh story about poohsticks. of course i’m talking about the original stories, not the disneyfied ones. and reading milne’s work i was once again delighted and surprised by the humour, the whimsy, the complexity, and the sarcasm! so SO not disney. (piglet: ‘oh eeyore you’re so wet.’ eeyore: ‘perhaps someone could explain to piglet what happens when you spend a great deal of time in water.’)

there are so many things i’m loving about isaiah being 4 (i have a whole post i want to write about that!), and reading long story books at bedtime–at his request–is one of them.

i’m sure there were other moments from this day i had thought about including….but of course i can’t remember them now. time to head to bed, for tomorrow we do it all again!


here is, mostly, the text of the talk i gave tonight at our ‘service of lament’ at my church….proud of myself, and thankful for my community…..

Duke has begun a series for Lent called the healing journey.
Lament needs to be part of the journey. I believe this from personal experience….
Lament is….
‘ a grief cry….in extremis our safe conventional language doesn’t work’
honest expression of emotion and thoughts, unfiltered, unedited
wrestling with God
crying out of anger at injustice
sharing our pain and shame
part of being in community, as we weep with those who weep

Also in my twenties I went to a church where the pastor liked to do ‘god is good…all the time….’ And as christians we believe this. But has a part of you ever questioned that?

When we look at all of the suffering in our own lives and in the lives of people we care about, and even in the lives of people we don’t really know and yet they effect us…..i don’t know about you, but i resonate with this verse from psalm 129:

Why do you not act, mute God, in your justice?
How dare we name you as good any more?
We have entered deep darkness in the midst of the journey,
and the pilgrims are paralyzed, unable to move.
The litany of lament grows loud and long:
the pulse of faith grows weak.

So what do we do when we feel paralyzed in pain and suffering, when you feel overwhelmed by the darkness of the world and it seems almost impossible to see the light?
What does our culture tell us?
numb yourself…there are a million options for that—buy stuff etc – just keep going, it’s your fault, everything happens for a reason, just get over it, move on, etc etc….for heaven’s sake don’t dwell on it!

What does the church tell us? Tonight we’re telling you that the way out is to go through, the way through is, in part, through lament…..but to my great sadness and anger, all too often the church has sounded more like the culture than the gospel.. all too often the church has twisted the message of redemption to mean that if we are suffering we should
a) just praise our way through it (ie live in denial)
b) confess your sin to get out it because you’re experience the suffering as a result of your sin (a variation on our culture’s ‘it’s your fault because of your bad choices or character defects)
c) or just resign yourself to whatever is happening because God is allowing or causing it to happen for your own good (our variation on everything happens for a reason is that God makes everything happen for a reason)

Praise has its place, as do confession and repentance. I’m not saying they don’t , but they’re not the whole story. And if you hear in my passion on this topic that sometimes I’m angry, it’s because I have heard and seen too many people damaged by the emphasis on praise and sin….
As we begin Lent, we’re following Jesus’ path to the cross. Jesus knew that the only way out—the only way to resurrection—was through suffering and death. And he didn’t do that so we don’t have to suffer. He did it to give us the gift of redemption in our suffering, to be with us in our suffering, and the promise of resurrection in the end.

the way out is to go through!

the way through starts with LAMENT
The ancient hebrews and modern psychology both know that lament is both healthy and opens the way of healing. We have to open to God those places in ourselves where we need healing, he wants us to ask him for help.
We’re not talking about shallow whining and complaining about trivial things in life, but about the very real things that hurt us and anger us, the very real things, small or great, that we bring into honest dialogue with God.
We are relational beings, created by our relational God for connection with him and with one another. When we speak whatever truth we need to speak—whatever we think whatever we feel whatever we’ve done or had done to us—and we are heard and received with love and acceptance, potential for healing is in that moment.
Lament is a life-giving, empowering way to respond to all the suffering we see and experience—the way it can help shift the energy…
Lament helps us to let go of control, but not in a fatalistic, resignation kind of way, but because it takes us, in the midst of pain, to a place of genuine trust in God because of who he is
Because God is real and meets us in reality, and wants a real relationship…part of a real relationship is struggle

• Richard Foster says that the image of wrestling with God is “a hard image for us to accept. We much prefer the image of restful harmony. Our difficulty is due, in part, to our culture’s inability to reconcile struggle with love”
• What we’ve been taught about god/what’s appropriate for christians. we get very confused about what it means to surrender, accept god’s will, trust etc, we confuse faith with fatalism.
• Our fear of our own feelings. If you watched the Brene Brown video I posted this past week you heard her say that the research shows that the two emotions we fear to feel the most are grief and shame. Maybe you’re afraid of another strong emotion, like anger….
• Our inner voices that say….it’s self-pity….it’s complaining….it’s disrespectful….i shouldn’t be speaking anything negative…I should just be grateful for all the good things

Read the bible!
Read the older testament!
So what if it is self-pity, complaining, unjustified? God can take it. The point is it’s honest.

The idea for this service was birthed in me as I once again last fall dreaded the coming of winter. In december I don’t mind the coming of winter so much….it’s pretty, christmas is coming. And christmas is such a wonderful reminder that the light has come into the darkness. But that’s just the beginning of winter….there’s still many weeks of darkness, cold, snow and ice….it reminds me that though christmas has come, we still live through the winter
When we live in winter, both literal and symbolic, we can go down the dark path of withdrawal and depression. while there can be a good kind of withdrawing, a beneficial time in silence and solitude, when we end up in the bad kind of reaction to winter, we need help remembering that spring will come…the thaw of ice…the light has not been destroyed by the darkness…..it might be a winter of emotional pain, physical pain, chronic illness or pain, addiction, various forms of mental and emotional struggle, something in your life covered in shame, family relationship pain, loneliness whether in singleness or marriage, self-rejection or being rejected by others, betrayal, loss and grief…..not to mention all the pain and suffering we know about in the world!
The psalm 13 reading from the message here

How long, O Lord, must I wrestle with my thoughts, and every day, find such sorrow in my heart?

Why do you not act, mute God, in your justice?
How dare we name you as good any more?
We have entered deep darkness in the midst of the journey,
and the pilgrims are paralyzed, unable to move.

I invite you to turn your attention inward for a moment. Close your eyes or look down if it helps.

What thoughts are you wrestling with in this season of your life?

Is there sorrow in your heart? What is it about?
If you do have sorrow in your heart, how easy or hard is it for you to acknowledge your grief?

Look on me and answer, O God my father, bring light to my darkness, before they see me fall

I’m calling on you God to look after me! You say that you will do that, so why aren’t you?

here, for no particular reason…

Some links on depression:



oh february

DSCF5861february is full of the joys of getting two boys, plus myself, into winter gear so that we can leave the house, sometimes multiple times a day.

i do not enjoy this reality. but really, there’s not a lot i do enjoy in february. it is, historically, the worst month of the year for me, mood-wise. we’re staying true to form this year.

oh yes, i could make a long list of things that are good about life, things i’m grateful for–most notably my amazing husband and beautiful boys– and yet all i want to do is sing the blues…..

but i take comfort for something i read this week about not fighting the blues:

“they are among the best tools we have to counter the Powers. the slaves knew that. when there is no conceivable hope, singing the blues opens up a new and other reality. it reminds us that we can choose the reality we want to occupy. it doesn’t have to be pretty. it can be a single note.” (from just jesus by walter wink)

on a related note, this weekend i’ve had the start of a psalm kicking around in my head. i have very, very little patience right now for the toddlerness of aaron (one of my sources of the blues), hence:

oh lord, deliver us from the toddler’s snare……

it needs work:)


the new year just got better….

a visit from sharon, and this cake, fresh from the oven: nigella lawson’s clementine cake

that was saturday, which was followed by another horrible night with aaron….which meant missing church sunday morning, but some catching up on sleep for stephen and i:)

greetings, oh 2014

You have met is with Arctic temperatures outside, toddler fever inside, and a ridiculous headache. What other wonders await us in the days ahead?
I’m so thankful it’s the weekend already!

I’m writing this post on my Christmas present, aka Tabitha, aka my Google nexus 7 tablet. I’m loving it!

It’s Aaron’s 18 month birthday today…18 months ago today this was us:

and four!

and four!

And now we have the cutest toddler in the world…But that picture will have to be posted tomorrow:)

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42 other followers