Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Story Needed [(in)Real Life Conference]

I have experienced online community like never before in the last year and a half.

After I had my daughter, I joined a Facebook group for my hospital’s Mommy and Me group. A few months after I went back to work, I joined an (in)courage community group for new working moms. Not long ago, a friend invited me to join yet another Facebook group for moms.

I have found wonderful, vibrant community in these groups. My online friendships have seen me through late-night and early-morning nursing sessions, my struggle to find peace as a working mom, and endless fears and insecurities. They’ve given me friendship, hope, and advice on everything from nurturing my marriage to finding a great pair of jeans.

Every so often, I’m able to join my local friends for playdates with our kiddos, but the majority of our interaction takes place online. I absolutely love my online friendships. They have enriched my life immeasurably. But nothing compares to seeing your friends in person. It’s harder to hide behind “I’m fine” when your friend is sitting across from you and can see the lie on your face.

I long for that human connection. As a dear friend says, I need people to be the physical hands and feet of Jesus

That’s where the (in)Real Life conference comes in.

(in)Real Life is an annual conference held by the ministry (in)courage. You don’t have to travel long distances or check bags or make hotel reservations. They bring all the content to you via webcast.

What about the face-to-face part of it? That’s where the local meetups come in. You can watch the webcast with other women in your area. From the (in)Real Lifewebsite:

“(in)RL is the combination of outstanding online content that encourages, moves and inspires women as they watch in the comfort of their own homes and local meet-ups where small becomes the new big and women connect, in person, beyond the comment box.”

Find out more information and register here. Everyone who registers this year will receive free access to the (in)Real Life videos from 2012 and 2013, and as an added bonus, anyone who registers on January 15 will be entered into a drawing for a free ticket to the AllumeConference!

For those who crave community. For those have a story the world needs to hear (that’s you!). For those who need a safe place to be vulnerable and un-fine.

I’m going to be brave and attend (in)Real Life for the first time this year. Join me?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Working Mom's Thoughts on the Debate about Working Moms

The internet is thick with think pieces about women and work, specifically mothers and work. They represent wildly different worldviews, ranging from “let’s change the system to make it easier for mothers to balance family and work” to “working mothers are the downfall of society.”

I don’t know if this conversation is newly prevalent or if I’m just aware of it because I am now a working mom myself. I was aware of it on a peripheral level because before I was a working mom, I was a working wife. Not only am I a working wife, I am one of the 40%of breadwinner wives. Between that and the fact that I enjoy working, I knew I would continue to work after we became parents.

This did not feel revolutionary to me at first. Both of my parents worked full time, as did many of my friends’ parents. I was vaguely aware that some of my classmates’ moms stayed home, but I didn’t give it much thought. Honestly, moms who stayed home seemed out of the ordinary to me, simply because it did not match my experience.

I never thought of a woman’s employment status as an issue until I got married. Sometime after our wedding, I became painfully aware that I was among what seemed like a minority of working women in the church (by which I mean both our local church and the Christian church at large). It seemed to be taken for granted that my working was an anomaly and at some point, God would arrange things the way they “ought to be,” with my husband as the breadwinner and me tending to the home.

But here’s the thing: I like working. I do not want to stay home full-time.

It’s scary to admit that publicly. It feels like the wrong thing to think, let alone say out loud, but I have met other women who feel the same way, and I think they need someone to say it.

I think they need to know they are not alone, because I have felt alone. I have felt like I am somehow broken as a woman because I like working. Because even if we didn’t need my full income or benefits, I would likely still choose to work part-time.

I have hesitated to say this out loud because I fear the reaction. I have been fortunate enough not to have anyone say anything derogatory about me (at least, not in my presence), but I have read and heard enough to know that people have entrenched viewpoints about this and conversations can quickly turn ugly.

I fear that I will end up in a theological debate, and I am not remotely qualified for that. I do not want to jump into what has become part of the culture wars. I’m not a culture warrior. I’m a wife, mom, and employee. I love God and my family, and I like my job. I don’t think those things are irreconcilable.

My husband and I are faithfully following the path that God has laid before us, doing our best with His help to raise a godly young woman. We don’t need arguments about where a “woman’s place” is. My place is the same as any other Christian’s – in Christ, loving Him and obeying His commands.

What we need, not just as working moms but as working families – as FAMILIES – is the support, guidance, friendship, and love of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re all part of the same body, after all.