The importance of being “weird”

I swore I wasn’t gonna be one of those weird moms – the ones that didn’t let their kids watch certain shows or confine them to the house or separate them from the world by their entertainment or lack of. But that was a resolution I made when I was childless, when I didn’t understand the dangers of giving them free reign, when I didn’t realize the so called “weird moms” were simply doing their job.. And those that weren’t were giving in.

My children often hear the line, “It’s more important to me that I protect you than that you like me.” When they want to post videos on YouTube for public view, or have a Facebook like their friends even though they are under age, or they want to spend the day with a friend and her teenage brother, they don’t understand. They think I’m being mean, but I am protecting them from what could be, what might be, if I weren’t so weird.

I’ve heard the line, “You’re just projecting.” So what if I am? So what if my past pain and regret have made me wiser and more aware of things that other parents might not notice or see as a danger? I vowed that my pain would have purpose, and this is part of that purpose – to save my kids from many of my seemingly innocent pitfalls, to warn them so that they might abscond from wearing my scars. I realize I can’t protect them from everything, but so what if I’m projecting.. If in the end it protects them?

I don’t go crazy with it. There are certain things that I allow them to do and watch that other Christian parents would probably disagree with, but I discuss issues that those same parents probably won’t address either. Like sexuality, sexting, and pornography. I refuse to sweep that under a rug labeled, “mature content.” I will never forget the first time I had a dream about my best friend and dreamed I had kissed her. I asked my mom about it, what it meant, why I had imagined such a thing? My mom simply said, “You love your friend, right?” I admitted I did. “You spend a lot of time with her?” I did. “Well, our brain tries to process our emotions, and dreams are one place we do that. It doesn’t make you a lesbian, it means you love your friend, and your mind can misplay that affection.” Now, some of you are probably rolling your eyes, but I was 11 and that made sense and in the future when I had bizarre dreams, I remembered what she said. I still do. I want to be the one to inform my kids, because they are gonna find out about it, if not from me then from their misguided friends.

In a world saturated with sex and self image, I’m careful about what my kids watch. We don’t watch much TV. We don’t let them watch “Biggest Loser.” That probably seems strange but in a world obsessed with appearance and the fear of obesity (because according to a recent study teenagers are more scared of that than nuclear war or the death of a loved one!), even shows like that plant seeds of dissatisfaction. Don’t believe me? After a few weeks of watching the show, my daughter, then 9, started doing laps around the house and wouldn’t stop until she had burned so many calories. She still makes comments about her body compared to others. It breaks my heart. But how can I blame her when I find myself fighting the same thoughts?!

She doesn’t like it that she’s one of the only girls in her class that hasn’t read and watched all of the Twilight series, but really, she isn’t missing much more than pent up sexual aggression and nightmares of golden-eyed vampires. (By the way, I’m was Team Jacob, before he imprinted a baby.. What was that about?!) I shudder when I pass rows and rows of young adult fiction that feast on young minds to glorify the occult. Granted I’m writing a series about Angels and Demons that others might determine “inappropriate,” but if your gonna highlight a battle between good and evil, might as well use the Truth that sets us free.

I haven’t let my oldest read my books, either. This gets under her skin, “You’re my mom! You wrote them for me, didn’t you? Let me read them.” And she is right. I did write them for her, but when the time is right. Now is not the time, I’m the parent and the author, I will determine when. Besides its a little bit of cowardliness on my part, because their is the underlying fear that 1. She won’t finish it, and 2. she won’t like it. I just don’t think I can handle that truth just yet.

So I’m weird. But in a good way, not in a smother your kids, hide them from the world, and watch every one else burn kinda way.. But in the way that says, “I love you enough to tell you no, and I’ll put on my big girl panties and not cry when you tell me you hate me.” In fact, I’m weird enough to encourage other parents to be weird.. Because no one else is protecting our children, and God called us to lead them.. That includes taking care of their minds. God’s word says “it is better for a millstone (that’s a threshing stone about the size of a tire wheel) to be tied around your neck than to lead any of these little ones astray.” Wow. I’m not particularly fond of drowning… But, Maybe I’m just weird.

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Dave Ramsey called me “STUPID”

I will never forget that day. I found myself in a tough financial situation, and needed some advice. Who better to get financial advice from than Dave, right? I called the number, I waited for what seemed like hours (but was more like 20 minutes), and an operator asked me my problem. “I don’t have health insurance and my daughter was recently hospitalized, I need some advice.” I couldn’t believe my blessing when I heard her say, “Hold on. We will patch you thru.”

What? Deep breath. (Okay, a few deep breaths and a quick prayer.) “Hello, you’re on the air…” It wasn’t an all together big thing to be on the radio, I cohosted a local radio show, mostly it was the knowledge that I was talking to THE Dave Ramsey. I began to share with him my problem, stating that my husband and I had been without health insurance for a little over two years, and we were suddenly stuck in a situation with medical bills that we weren’t altogether prepared for. I didn’t get much further. “What!?” He was appalled. I don’t remember the exact next few words, but he finished it with “Of course you are in a bad situation, you are stupid!” He rattled something off about finding an endorsed insurance provider right away and to never make that stupid mistake again. No time for response, the music played, the endorsements started and the show was over.

It was my turn to be dumbfounded. And then, I was angry.

Stupid is one of my least favorite words in the world. You can call me ignorant, unwise, naïve, but don’t call me stupid! I wanted to call him back, not in a fit of anger exactly, I was biting back tears of explanation. It wasn’t stupidity that led us to make that decision. It was faith!

My husband and I have never been in debt. We learned early on that you only buy if you have the money. You never borrow what you can’t pay back. Even then, we lived on a budget and were frugal; money wasn’t something we were stupid with. We weren’t living in “envelopes” but we were very aware of our expenditures. My husband was offered a new job, he had crunched numbers and looked at our present income compared to the adjusted income, it was driving him insane, almost literally. He was trying to figure out how I could stay at home with our kids, a priority for us, and him still take this job that would eliminate a 45 minute commute that he felt was wasted time that he’d rather spend at home.

One Sunday he was in that same state of mind, crunching numbers, a constant calculator running digits through his brain, but he was on stage at church singing with the praise band. It bothered him that he couldn’t even worship without numbers cropping up, so he prayed, “God, what do you want me to do!?” He says the answer was practically audible, “Don’t take the insurance. I will take care of your family, but invest in My House.” Weird, right? Absolutely. But any responsible child of God doesn’t hear that message and say, “Nah.” In His heart he replied, “Yes Lord,” and IMMEDIATELY the numbers stopped.

So we began a journey of faith. Two kids aged two and four and we opted out of health insurance. Stupid? According to Mr. Ramsey it was and by no means something we would haphazardly recommend to others, but we were absolutely convinced that God would take care of us. And He did, for exactly two years.

My husband admits that at the end of that time he felt that God was leading him to be insured again. He began looking and talking to people but procrastinated in making a decision on acquiring insurance for our family. Then, one of our daughters got really sick with double pneumonia and was hospitalized with white blood cell levels that the doctors were convinced were fatal. We were told we’d be in there for a week at least, probably 10 days. Even as we filled out admission papers, I trusted and believed that God would to take care of us. Three days later, to the doctor’s documented and utter amazement, my baby was healed and discharged. Three days and $6,000 dollars later, we had accrued debt that we weren’t prepared for, slight as it was compared to what it might have been!

It was that debt that led me to call the debt guru. It was that debt that God used to show us that it was time again to be insured. It wasn’t a fear thing. It was just very clear that our provision was shifting. And, in those two years, we had done as we promised by investing in His house.

But that isn’t the end of the story… this is the part that I want to tell Dave, “God used that debt to show us what our next steps should be financially, and in less than 6 months time, we not only had paid off every bit of that debt, but my husband’s employment changed and our income increased and that additional amount we were having to pay separately for the girls’ and my insurance didn’t seem to dent our budget!”

This isn’t a story about health and prosperity. This is a testimony of faith and faithfulness. A confession of being weird (never stupid!), and realizing afresh that God sometimes asks us to do the ridiculous, but in the end, He will give you wisdom and understanding that is like foolishness to the world. We continue to live weirdly. We happily live below our means so that we can do more for His Kingdom and His people. Not because we have to, or because we expect His blessing, but because we have seen that there is nothing in this world that can compare to serving God.