Friday, April 29, 2016

Mommy Judging (For Grandmothers Too)!

Several weeks ago, the JAM team invited me to speak on the topic of “Mommy Judging.”  Needless to say, I discovered from my research, personal experience (yes, I am a mom and a grandmother), and the response of the ladies present, this is a “hot topic.”

When I say “hot” I mean, powerful.  A topic that moves women to tears and a topic that has the power to create community and acceptance.   For example, right now stop and ask yourself these two questions:  

First, when has your actions, as a mother or grandmother, been judged by another mom, or grandmother, bringing you to tears?   

I remember right after my first grandchild was born, being judged for how much involvement I had in my grandchild’s life.  As a matter of fact, I was told by another mom, “Obviously, I wanted to replace my daughter as his mother.”   Now that’s crazy talk!  Been there done that and no desire to do it again.  I walked away from this interaction between two grown, grandmotherly women, feeling very hurt, emotional, and misunderstood.  How about you?  When have you left a conversation, or situation, feeling judged?  

Second question, how powerful was it, when someone put their arm around you and accepted you just as you were – a mom, or grandmother, doing their best?

I also remember deciding to “homeschool” my children (when homeschooling was a fairly new concept) and feeling a community and acceptance from a group of women who were also struggling with the judgment of teaching their children from home.  A powerful community was birthed and support was offered to a large number of moms and kids.  No judgment, just acceptance and community!  How about you?  Where do you find acceptance and community without fear of being judged?

The Urban Dictionary describes judgment as the “act of looking down upon, to regard with contempt or disdain; to regard as inferior.”   That’s exactly what my research uncovered.  Statistically, 90 percent of moms, and grandmothers, have judged another mom, or grandmother. 

We cast judgment when we see a kid being a “brat.”  We cast judgment when we see a child “throwing a fit in the store.”  We cast judgment when we see a woman breastfeeding in public.  We cast judgment when we see a child watching (our definition of) too much TV or playing too many video games.  Working moms cast judgment on stay at home moms and stay at home moms cast judgment on working moms.  We cast judgment on “attachment parenting” where children sleep in their parents’ beds.   If a child is overweight, we cast judgment on how the mother or grandmother feeds the child.   On and on it goes …

So, this brings me to another question:  How should we respond to others who judge us?
In the Bible, the Book of Luke, Chapter 6 and Verses 31 through 36, we are told to “do to others as we would have them do to us, love those who are our enemies (which is what it feels like when we are judged by another mom), do good to those who harm us, be merciful, as our Father is merciful to us.”  Quite honestly, these are not my first responses to being judged but nonetheless they should be my second.  How about you?

Here's where we have to look into the mirror!  Let’s keep in mind, there are times in which we are the ones judging another mom or grandmother.  Don’t deny it!  Be brave and be real!  It’s part of our fallen nature.  It can also be an automatic response when we see something happen we would never let happen! 

My first child threw one fit and I immediately did what I had been taught.  I picked her up, swatted her little bottom and told her this was not appropriate behavior!  She never threw another fit.  Yes, I wore it like a badge of honor and yes, I judged other moms when their children threw themselves down, time after time after time. 

Then I had my second child.  Trying the same form of discipline and failing miserably, I was humbled; this form of discipline just ignited a fire storm.   I immediately had compassion for other moms with children having a temper tantrum.  I immediately longed for other moms to understand and not shake their heads in disappointment when my child threw themselves down on the grocery store isle because I said no to candy.

Judgment is a two-way street.  In the Bible, the Book of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verses 1 through 5, we are told to “not judge one another, lest we too are judged, we will receive the same degree of judgment as we give out to others, and why do we judge someone else for something when we have our own areas of weakness and areas found lacking.”

This leads me to ask one last question:  How do we get off the “judging treadmill?”   Seven basic thoughts, or points, to remember and practice.

       1.  Be wise – IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP - Recognize your own doubt and seek a friendship   with an older mom where you can solicit wise counsel- Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Ps. 127:3
a.      Not a mistake that you have the children that you do
b.    Ps. 139 God knows them and saw them being formed – ask him for guidance

2.      Be confident – YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST you know what’s best for your child and –
3.     Be rooted in the belief that you know what’s best for your child and your family.  YOU ARE THE EXPERT WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR FAMILY
a.     You will choose what is best for them at any given moment or any given situation.
b.     You know your family dynamic best and will do what’s best for your family.
4.      Be guarded – NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE SHARED - be careful what you post on social media, someone will judge you and if you can’t handle it, it will send you spiraling down and your confidence level will plummet. 
5.     Be ready to cut the cord – IT’S NOT ABOUT ME IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THEM - judgment has nothing to do with you, there’s something lacking in the other mom, or grandmother.
6.     Be a community –  I NEED YOU AND YOU NEED ME
a.     May not be what you would do, but that’s ok!
b.     Nobody is perfect
c.     Real dialogue leads to real friendships
d.     All kids throw fits in public at some time in their lives
e.     Every mom needs support because they are doing their best.
f.      Allow moms to share their failures but remind them “they showed up”
                                               i.     Kids are going to survive
                                             ii.     They need to be seen, safe, secure, and celebrated
g.      Find rest in knowing LOVE WINS
7.      Be assured your kids will be fine – LOVE WINS

JAM (Just Among Moms) is a place where you can find community, support, mentorship, love, acceptance, and other women doing their best.  I encourage you to try it out.  Get more info at
Find a women’s group to belong to and start building a community that allows you to be real, while sharing your struggles, and growing a real faith; that’s what you will find at Calvary. 
Feel free to share your thoughts with us by posting your comments!
Let’s stop judging one another moms, and grandmothers, and let’s start supporting and encouraging one another!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Investing In Your Child's Character

Growing up I was intimidated by my grandmother. I only saw her once a year, when she would visit from Hong Kong during our summer family reunions. She was always very well dressed, well spoken, poised, proper, and often with something new to teach us about how to conduct oneself. In some ways, she was teaching me Chinese customs of respecting our elders, and the importance of family. But looking back, in her own way, she was investing in my character.

Our JAM ministry had the privilege of hearing from Susan von Ehrenkrook of Real Simple Parenting recently. She asked us to name various characteristics that we felt were important to instill in our children. Then she asked us to narrow them down to six. SIX. It was hard, but it also made the task of parenting just a little more doable. I chose Integrity, Compassion, and Faithfulness (I'll be nice and let my husband pick the other 3 since I'm trying to be a little less bossy . . . just a little).

Susan cited some statistics about how much money parents invest into their children annually. On average, Americans spend $2300 on clothing (not including high end stores), $3600 on sports (not including elite teams/leagues), and over $50,000 on 15-18 years of education. Let's not even get into technology. Kids are spending on average 7-10 hours a day on some kind of technology - do I even spend 7-10 hours a day talking to my kids, face-to-face? Sadly, no. If we're investing all this money into our children to give them a better future, why not spend time investing into their characters - which is more likely to produce successful, happy, and healthy adults?

She broke down childhood into 4 age groups. 0-4 year olds only think about themselves. At this age they're "Doing the wrong thing the majority of the time." It seems young, but this is the age to start teaching respect - such as eye-contact. She recounted how she would turn it into a fun game of sliding M&M's to her son as long as he maintained eye contact. Why this young? Because when they learn to make eye contact when you request it, you'll only have to give your instructions once (i.e. less nagging!). Also, they learn to make eye contact when they're speaking to others. I'm SUPER guilty of rarely making eye-contact with my kids unless they're in trouble, and yet I harp on my 8 year old daily to make eye contact with adults whom he's speaking to. Double standard? Yes. Helping him to become a confident young adult who makes eye contact during job interviews AND is socially engaging? Hopefully! (Please Jesus, let him find a good job someday . . . )

4-8 year olds do "the right thing for the wrong reason", so we can take this time to teach them to respect other people and their property. Role playing is a fun way to do this - we whine and complain like kids, and they admonish us like adults. It's win-win, really. They see how ridiculous they sound, and . . . we see how ridiculous we sound! Fun, right? But at least now we get to parent our kids, instead of policing them, which at my house means a lot of yelling. (Sigh)

8-12 year olds do "what appears right to others," because they want to be popular and accepted by their peers, right? Teach them about personal respect - talk to them about how they treat others, how they talk about others ("were you talking about the new kid in a way that's respectful to him? or in a way that would make you more popular?"). Ultimately, this would then lead to open communication with your aloof/sassy pre-teen (Please, Jesus, make the sass and attitude go away . . . it goes away, right?)

Finally, 13-18 year olds, can be taught to respect their community and family, by doing things around the house because they're a part of the family, not because they were told to, or paid to, or bribed to. At this point, hopefully all our years of investing into their character will pay off when you send them off and impact the next generation.

I would add that even with your adult children, it's never too late to invest into their character. I once jokingly called my prim and proper grandmother a "snob-and-a-half". My dad shot me a look and quietly said, "Don't call her that, she's your grandmother." I KNOW he fully agreed with me and probably wanted to laugh a little, but he was also very serious about me still speaking about my grandmother in a respectful way. I think I had just turned 33 when this happened! Lesson learned.

Ladies, whether you are a stay at home mom, working mom, care-giving grandmother, shared custody parent, weekends-only parent or grandparent, I implore you to invest in your children or grandchildren. Think about what kind of character you want them to have as they navigate through life. Susan emphasized that no amount of time was too little time to make an impact on a child's character. Just try to make it fun!

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, "You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." We all know this verse, right? It's the next few verses that have stuck out in my mind the past 5 years: (v. 6-7) "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." To mean, that means, "Don't just talk about God on Sundays after church on the drive home. Talk about God, the Bible, and Jesus ALL. DAY. LONG. I'm really just talking to myself when I say this, but now you get to hear it as well: Put down your phones, turn off the TV at home and turn off the music in the car. Talk to your kids. Don't just talk AT them, listen to them. And start training them NOW. Whether they're 12 months old, or 12 years old, it's never too early to start, nor too late to start. Susan mentioned the "Ripple Effect". If you don't correct a behavior now, you're only setting off a ripple effect that will teach them that they can be disrespectful to their siblings, their peers, to other adults, to authority, and ultimately to God.

Pick six characters with your spouse or partner, and start investing in your children's character. Pick one that you can teach your child today. As soon as my 8 year old wakes up, I'm going to look at his eyeballs until he can hold my gaze . . . even if it makes me squirm, because I have terrible eye contact, or so my husband tells me.

Contributed by: Lois Yue Stolee
JAM (Just Among Moms) Programming Coordinator / Calvary Women's Small Group Leader

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Garden Spots

Flourish:  to grow vigorously in a favorable environment

I can't say the word "flourish" without thinking of my grandfather's garden in Dawson Spring's Kentucky.  As a 9 year old little girl, I remember running through the rows of flowers chasing the butterflies and staying away from the bees.  I remember the fragrant smells, the magnificent colors, and how happy I felt as I played.   Just thinking about it transports me back to this beautiful, peace-filled, safe haven, where I just enjoyed being a little 9 year old girl.  You could say, during the 6 months we lived at his home and I played in his garden, I flourished.

There are other environments that come to my mind that I can say have caused me to Flourish.  One such garden looks very different.  It isn't filled with rows of flowers.  Butterflies do not float through the sky, nor do I fear the sting of a bee but I can say there is a spring of water that washes over me and soothes, comforts, and produces a joy I cannot find anywhere else on this planet and it is very, very beautiful.

My parlor with my Bible in my lap, my journal beside me, and a box of tissue close by is the most beautiful of gardens I have ever experienced.  That's saying a lot because I have seen some of the most gorgeous gardens in the world.   You see this garden isn't about what happens within me when I physically see the beauty God has created.   Instead it's about what happens deep within my soul, when I encounter the One who made everything, including me, inside out.

Psalm 139 is the food that noriushes me during my visits and I am never alone in this garden because I enjoy the deep friendship of my best friend.  He's always waiting for me in this garden called my parlor.  He has walked beside me since I was born.  As a matter of fact, He knew me before I was ever created in my mother's womb.   I read Psalm 139:15 and it reminds me that my Friend knows everything about me and Psalm 139:1 reminds me that He keeps track of me; where I am going, where I have gone, and where I am today.  Now that's a friend!

When life has gotten rough, I go to my garden chair and the Creator of all things good, my Friend, is waiting.  As a matter of fact, He reminds me, somedays He's been waiting a very long time.  Regardless of how long it's been since our last visit, He joyfully welcomes me.  He speaks to my heart and reminds me that because He created all things, there's nothing too big for Him to handle.  I feel His presence.  He wraps His arms around me and I can just be me.  I can cry.  I can laugh.  I can yell.  I can sing.  I can sit and say nothing.   And, I know He will always be patient.  He waits for me to ask Him for His help.  He's a great Friend!

Sometimes, I'm so busy that my visits are quick.  I only have time to talk.  Other times, I can sit for hours and just listen.  Regardless of the amount of time, our talks are always like water washing over my soul; energizing me, soothing my wounds, and healing me from the inside out.  

Yes, every time I visit this garden, where I find nourishment to my soul, I grow in love not just for my Friend, Creator of all things, but for others.  I also grow deeper and deeper in the understanding of who I am, why I am here on this planet, and what I truly enjoy about life.   So, why wouldn't I flourish in this environment.  After all I'm spending time with my Friend, my Savior, my Father, my Comforter, and my Creator.  God of the universe.  I am so special to Him.  He is so very special to me.

How about you?  Where do you Flourish?  Do you have a garden spot where you can be nurtured to grow into the woman God has intended you to be?   A place where His Word is food to your bones, prayer is water to your soul, and His sweet and overwhelming presence sustains your very breath.

If so, tell us about it.  

If not, or it's been a while, here's a good place to start (again) - find a quiet place with a comfortable place to sit.  
1.  Start by saying, "Holy Spirit, please make this my garden spot and meet with me today."
2.  Grab your Bible, and read Psalm 139 or click on this link - 
3.  Grab a journal or a piece of paper
4.  Read over the verses
5.  Pause long enough to let the verses sink deep into your soul
6.  Write down one of the verses that means the most to you
7.  Think on it over and over again

Then wait ... I promise if you wait and be quiet long enough, my Friend ... your Friend, will speak and then in your garden spot you will begin to Flourish, too.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Embracing our Sexuality as Women

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.” Song of Solomon 1:2

Here’s what the most recent surveys, based on a 2013 study by Covenant Eyes ( tells us about women and how they view sexuality:

1. According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, about half (49%) of young adult women agree that viewing pornography is an acceptable way of expressing one’s sexuality.

2. According to a survey of more than 11,000 college-age women, more than half (52%) of young women today are exposed to sexually explicit material by the age of 14.

3. According to a study published in the CyberPsychology and Behavior, 62% of women have seen pornography by the age of 18.

4. Exposures to porn during childhood are not just brief glimpses. Some teen girls are viewing online pornography for a half-hour or more at a time, and 1 in 7 have done this on multiple occasions.

5. About 1 in 5 women (18%) use the Internet for sexual purposes habitually—every week.
In a recent survey of women who are part of the Dirty Girls Ministries online community (an online support forum for women with sexual struggles)…

These statistics only begin to tell the story of how the enemy is killing, stealing, and destroying the very worth of girls and women of all ages through sexual addictions.  Shame, sex-trafficking, multiple relationships, and a search for love that will never be fulfilled are its end products.

At our Flourish event in February, we discovered women and girls want to discuss the topic of sexuality.  Women, of all ages, want to know where to go to find some answers and its time for the church to step up and be a safe place.  In turn, the Women of Calvary have made a decision to step out in faith and courageously do our best to address the wounds the enemy has caused in this area of our lives.  We have a new ministry, our first group formed from the Flourish event, called Pure Desire for Women.  Tawni Miller shared her story and how she has overcome the sexual addictions of her battle with love and relationships.  (Click here to here a snippet of Tawni’s story  scroll down the postings and you will find her story).   She's only one story, there are more women stepping up to share the hope and freedom they have found.

At our Women's Winter Gathering 2016, we had one of our C7 Staff members, Katy Payne, speak to us about the importance of "Flourishing" in the area of our sexuality.  Katy is a woman who loves Jesus and has a tremendous story of healing in this area of her life. She is a safe place for women and girls hurting in this area of their lives.  If you would like to hear Katy’s message you may click on this link -

Here’s one of the questions we received during her panel discussion and Katy’s response to the question.

Question:  I have struggled with sexual purity for a long time and I worry sometimes that God is tired of forgiving me of this sin after struggling with it for so long.  Is this possible? And how can I use this struggle to encourage other women who struggle as well?

Katy’s Response:  When I was struggling with pornography addiction, I must have asked this question about a thousand times.  If we’re being honest, there are still days where I wonder if God forgives me for what I’ve done.  Satan uses sexual sin to make us feel isolated, devalued, and unworthy of receiving love which can then make it intimidating to approach a holy and righteous God with our sin.  Even after I had come out of my addiction, I still didn’t understand how God could love me or forgive me.

Then about three years ago I came across Romans 5:6 which says “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  When I read this, I finally realized that God didn’t wait until I was free from addiction to save me, but rather he knew every sin that I would ever commit and yet still chose to die for me.  God is not surprised by anything.  He knows you intimately.  He knows the areas of struggle, weakness, and brokenness in your life.  He also sees your potential, created you with tremendous purpose, and desires for you to have freedom from sin which is why he provided Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for your sin.  God’s grace for you is immeasurable and it never runs out!

From my personal experience, the best way to encourage other women is to talk about your own struggle.  Statistically, around 60 percent of women struggle with some form of sexual addiction, so you are not alone! The first time you share this part of your story will be very difficult, but it will also be tremendously freeing.  I have found incredible healing in sharing my story with other women, and being very vulnerable with my small group.

Pastor Mary’s Response:  While I have never dealt with a sexual addiction, I have dealt with sexual abuse which has the potential to lead women to sexual addictions.  Again, based on my story, I cannot emphasis enough, the answers and the freedom that follows, when we begin to seek after and grow our relationship with a loving God who desires to set us free from the chains of addictive behaviors.  Freedom is ours for the asking and seeking.  Surviving the pain by medicating through sexual addictions is not the answer.  Community with other Christ filled women, and our relationship with Jesus, are the starting points. 

We encourage you to reach out and find a group of women who will help you identify the lie that drives your behavior, grieve the wound, and replace the lie with the truth.  There is so much hope in Jesus.  There are answers to the pain and freedom from the shame!  If Pure Desire for Women seems too difficult of a first step, try a Brave Enough Group, or a Story Group.  If you are reading this post and do not live in the Puyallup Valley, find a local church with a strong recovery ministry for women.  Regardless of the group type, find a loving, safe, and real group of women to share your story with and let some healing begin to form in your life. 

We cannot guarantee we will get it all right; however, we do long to be real women who are willing to be honest with our daily struggles in hopes of growing a vibrant, dynamic faith that truly changes our lives and impacts future generations of girls.   We want you to join us on the journey. 

Important next steps for you, or for a friend: 

1.      It’s time to stop judging one another girls!  We have no idea what is going on, or what has gone on, “behind the scenes” in another woman’s life. 

2.     Develop a listening ear and let your friend, mother, daughter, co-worker talk.  You don’t have to have the answers.  Answers can always be found but a listening ear is much harder.  Talking helps a person identify the lies and then there’s opportunity to replace the lies with truth.  It also allows a person who may have never felt “heard” to have a voice.   This new experience of speaking up and sharing can begin to replace the wounded experience and the door to freedom begins to open.

3.     Let’s post comments of encouragement for girls and women who are in the heat of the battle right now.  Together we can overcome, alone we become isolated and can be defeated.

4.     Read these verses, think about one or two for a whole day, ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe what you have read, listen and expect the Spirit to speak to you and bring understanding to why you do what you don’t want to do.  – John 10:10, John:1:12, Romans 3:24, Romans 6:6, John 15:15, Romans 8:2, Romans 8:17, Romans 15:7, 2 Corinthians 5:17

5.     Connect to a group of women who will hear your story without judgment but with loving arms wide open:

6.     Contact Tawni and discuss a Pure Desire for Women’s Group:   Or, if you have a teenage daughter and would like to know how to discuss this hot topic with her, send Katy a message at

Talk to you tomorrow!