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My relationship with my mom is one that has evolved and changed the most over my life, so I am excited to include an interview with her! I am honored to bring you her perspective and experience, as well as what that metamorphosis has looked like as we’ve both grown and changed over the years. 


Megan: Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me, and spending all day preparing. *both laugh*  One of the reasons I really wanted to include you in these interviews is you have a really broad frame of reference and a lot of experience in different faith denominations. How has that affected your personal faith journey?


Mom: My mom was a very shy person, and she did not go to church herself but she had a lot of spiritual motivation.  She would listen to church on our television set. This was the fifties, so it was black and white television. I was very young, and listening in.  I remember hearing a message and being very aware of my sin. I didn’t have to have anyone convince me that I had sinned. When I realized that was separating me from God, and that Jesus had taken the punishment for my sin, and if I put my faith and trust in Him I could be God’s child and God would accept me as though I had never sinned, I was all in for that.  I remember so clearly how God connected with me. There was no adult trying to talk me into it. Wherever I’ve gone, whether it was Sunday School, or various churches when Mike was in the Navy, I always had that understanding. God always kept that fresh. 


I started going to Christian summer camp, and all the people who taught there had life verses they signed their names with, so I decided I needed one too.  I chose “I am not ashamed of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16)


Megan: Because that’s how you get a life  verse, you just pick one.


Mom: Right.  The verse God chose for me much later was Philippians 1:6; “He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” That has been my faith journey.  Going to different churches as we moved, I would doubt my relationship with God because even though they preached the same gospel, there was always a different flavor. In my heart of hearts I knew I couldn’t keep getting a do over every time we went to a new church.  Years later I came to understand what God’s work in a life looks like, and I could see that from when I was very young. 


Megan: How did raising a family play into that?  I know you’ve always been very intentional about instilling and passing on faith.


Mom: Passing the baton.  We just really wanted all of you to have a relationship with God that wasn’t dependent on us. We wanted to give you things that would last.  Faith, relationships, we wanted you to know what was really important in life. We went different ways about it, early on we were in church multiple times a week, and later on it was not as often. We wanted to have faith in our home, not just at church.  We read the Bible together. It was our way of saying we need to hear from God and honor His word. Eventually we felt like we wanted to try home education. I’m very much a lifetime learner, and I have an educational mindset. I love to see the lights come on, and we took on this home education thing.  We were in a program that believed in training parents so we got a lot of input and fellowship around that. I don’t know, did I get it?


Megan: it’s good, it’s good. Did you feel like you had a mental image or idea of how our family would look, relate, or be as adults when we were younger?


Mom: Probably.  Like you said earlier, “I think you wanted us to be the Von Trapp family”


Megan: Oh yeah, was I right?


Mom: Maybe.


*both laugh*


Megan: I KNEW IT.


Mom: The thing is, we didn’t have the musical skill that they had.


Megan: Or the number of people.


Mom: We tried.  We tried to sing.  Ultimately we wanted you to know and love the Lord.  We wanted you to have rich relationships. We wanted you to be able to support yourselves.  Ultimately, I think things turn out differently than you picture.


Megan: So how have we fulfilled that and how have we deviated from it?


Mom: You all have good marriages and for that we are very grateful. I think if you’re called to marriage that’s the key relationship in life. I feel like that’s very important for everything you do.  We are grateful for the people God has brought into your lives. Everyone has a really good fit for a life partner, very faithful, honorable people, and we really appreciate that. You are all multi talented and I love that.  I love your photography, and Bridget’s art, and you’re all musicians. Jesse’s photography, and then what your spouses have brought in as well. You are all good writers, you’re all good photographers. If we were a magnet school with a theme, ours would have been art and humanities.  I was okay with that. I didn’t try to be everything. We did the basics and then followed more specific interests. We kindof fell through on your martial arts though.


Megan: It’s okay I’m making up for that now.


Mom: I’m glad you are. 


Megan: Do you feel like you had a mental image or idea of how your relationship with God and faith communities would be in maturity and does that line up?


Mom: I don’t know.  I have a heart for women as well.  I really have a heart for mentoring and teaching. What I get to speak on now is weeds and autumn gardening.


Megan: Know your weeds people.


Mom: Don’t get me started, I have a two hour and thirty minute version.


Megan: With slides.


Mom: I think I just assumed we would always be in multi service a week church mode and it hasn’t worked out that way. It’s kind of a relief that it hasn’t.  Sometimes I think about going back to our home church for various reasons, and then I think about the weight of all the programs and stuff that goes with it. You do what you’re called to do and I had the grace to do multiple services a week at the time, but I didn’t have any contacts outside the church at that time.  Now I’m a master gardener, so I have a community there. I am passionate about out of the salt shaker, because I felt like everything was in the church. If people don’t have a faith history or aren’t motivated in that way, they don’t have a reason to come into a church building. Home education also broadened our friend base and got us out into the community. 


I didn’t envision all the changes in community we have had.  When we moved to Connecticut we experienced a very small, close knit church, we came back here and went to a little tiny community church for a while, and we have had some interesting experiences.  I couldn’t have pictured it.


Megan: I know for me personally when I set a goal or envision how something should be, there’s a whole emotional journey to celebrating and accepting what I actually end up with. How has that process been both for you in your personal faith journey and also in terms of our family?


Mom: In terms of my faith journey, it is what it is.  There wasn’t any grieving. We home-churched for almost 11 years.  We didn’t really believe in home-churching so that was an experience.  God has a way of taking you through things you never thought you would do.  As far as the family, I miss your pigtails.  


Megan: Did you think I was going to have pigtails when I was 30?


Mom: You were so adorable. We’re in a new stage of life, and you have to let the new happen.  You can’t start a new chapter if you keep re reading the last one. So we have to pack away one beautiful phase of life to make room for new beauty. 


Megan: Something I have grown to respect about you is how transparent you have been in your growth. That’s something I have a really hard time with as you know.  Especially when I was younger I was really intimidated by how passionate you were about wherever you were at. You have always encouraged asking, seeking, and knocking.  I definitely inherited a love for learning and creative curiosity from you, and from my time here.


Mom: That was a big goal of home education by the way.


Megan: So you got one!


Mom: I got a lot.  I really got a lot.  The things that I didn’t get were the cookie cutter looking family, but who wants that?


Megan: what have been your driving forces in pursuing growth, and how has that been received? Have you learned to enact any boundaries around what you share?


Mom: I’m passionate about growth, and that comes to me from the Lord.  Maybe it’s a spiritual gift. I used to sing special music in church, and I always wanted to give a brief testimony before hand because I thought the context was important.  So one time I said “The thing that I struggle with in my life is selfishness and that’s why this song is important to me” and I felt like the whole congregation took one big step back. 


Megan: Because you don’t say that word here?


Mom: They’re all sweet people, but there’s this reaction sometimes when you’re transparent and it’s not expected. I had another friend say to me once, “If you weren’t so intense, you might have more friendships”  and I wondered what I was supposed to do with that.


Megan: I feel like you’ve seasoned since those days.


Mom: I hope so. But even in those days I looked for direction.  In Sunday School I always had something to say, but I would sit on my hands, and wait to see if anyone said it first. And if not, I would wait to see if there was space.  If so, I would raise my hand and contribute. I wasn’t totally off the rails, but I did learn that you can be too transparent, or you can be transparent with the wrong people.  You need a safe space. My discipleship group has a safe space because we have five core values everyone ascribes to. Scripture as roots, Community as fruit, Bring your wins and losses, No gossip, and live beyond yourself.  Because we all agree to this, it’s safe for us to share personal struggles and joys. 

Megan: How have you seen grace move in your journey?


Mom: Constantly. We talk about grace being a Christian catchword.  As a young person I didn’t know what grace really meant. We can memorize little definitions and acrostics, but it isn’t embodied until we know how to live it.  Paul says grace works in him, and does things for him, and changes him. The definition of grace that has impacted my life is: The desire and the power to do Gods’ will.  As a person who has experienced seasons of depression, which probably would have been clinical if I had sought treatment, I have realized that sometimes I have the desire to do things with no power. I might as well be swimming in jello.  Other times I would have the ability but no desire, and either way you’re stuck. For me having the desire and the power to do what I need to do on any given day is a miracle. 


Megan: I liked what you said earlier about grace being multi-faceted like a diamond, that has different meanings to different people, and still have them be part of the same thing.


Mom: So I’m not discounting anyone elses definition of grace, if you have a better one send it to me! This is what’s worked in my life.


Megan: I know we have discussed before how perfectionism is a family trait and battle.  I talk about it a lot in the worthiness chapter. How has this affected your spiritual walk and relationships?  Do you feel like it’s affected our family?


Mom: If your goal is perfection, which doesn’t exist in this world you’re always going to be unhappy on some level because you’ll never achieve it.  So you set a goal for yourself whether it’s conscious or not that you can never achieve. How does that make you a happy person? It makes your whole family feel like they’re failing, because they can never reach your goals for them.


Megan: No comment


Mom: I think you experienced this the most out of the three of you, but you still dealt with it personally as well.


Megan: I had it from the time I was little. Do you remember you used to run around behind me and pull my art out of the garbage?


Mom: I still do.  Because your sister who was eleven years older than you was making better art than you were.


Megan: That wasn’t okay with me, even though I was five.  Some of it is passed down, but I had that in me.


Mom: If you don’t believe in a fallen world and sin nature, I’m sorry but I see evidence of it everywhere. Perfectionism is sin masquerading as virtue. That’s why it’s so dangerous. I confused striving for excellence with striving for perfection. Because of that I put a burden on myself and our family that I didn’t even know was there. We are thirty years into a handyman special of a house that is still not finished.  I have had to accept a lot less than perfection in my home, and that hasn’t been easy for me. 

Perfectionism has been a real curse. It has sneaky ways of coming back into our lives.


Megan: In The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown talks about her therapist asking her whether or not she thought people were generally doing the best that they could with what they had in any given moment. I find perfectionism and judgementalism to be two sides of the same coin. When we are harsh on ourselves, we are harder on other people.  We say “Well I’m selling my soul to get here, so what’s wrong with you.” Invoking self compassion in those spaces is so hard to do, but so necessary. I can step back and say “Well maybe my best today includes this, and I need to be okay with it.


Mom: Yes, learning to be satisfied with the day.  I used to pray at five or six or seven PM “Lord, redeem this day”, and now I pray it at nine am.  It means something totally different. I’m ready for Him to redeem it early, instead of struggling all day and spinning my wheels.


Megan: Sometimes rest is productive.


Mom: That’s another thing.  Resting is doing something. We are dealing with it in the next generation, because Bridget has a perfectionist already. At least now we know it’s an enemy!  I thought I was such a terrible Navy wife. I had some other navy and air force wives who were “big sisters” to me, and I compared myself to them. I was faithful to my husband, I was waiting for him when he got back. But I hated that he was away, which is a huge part of Navy life.  It was a real struggle for me. I was sharing this with an Army wife, and I told her that I admired her for taking that role as an act of service to her family, husband, and country. I wasn’t there. I was 19 years old, an only child, away from home for the very first time, and she said to me “What if you are the best Navy wife that you could be?”  That stuck with me. 


Megan: Another reason I wanted to interview you, is that our relationship has probably developed the most through my growth. I know there are a lot of estranged families for a host of reasons, and I find our relationship interesting because at one point we may have been on that path in a way.  We had a season with a lot of challenges. I’m not trying to offer any magic answers or solutions to others relationships, I think everyone here knows I’m not about that life. I do think though, that our relationship is a testament to a lot of the topics I cover in the book, and how it’s culminated in deeper relationship and understanding.


Mom: You’re looking to validate your book. Just giving you a hard time. 


Megan: people are gonna see this mom, come on. But yes, a little bit, so help me validate my book.


Mom: I’m really grateful that you wrote this.


Megan: I know our relationship has been a bit of a rollercoaster, and it’s been hard for me in a lot of ways.  I know it’s been hard in a lot of ways for you too. So how was that process for you from a parental perspective?


Mom: It was one of the hardest things I ever went through.  It was excruciatingly painful. I can still remember driving you to Connecticut and leaving you there.  I don’t know at what point I stopped crying, if it was in Massachusetts, or longer. It was hard because we were in the middle of our story.  When you’re in the middle of a story that’s hard, it feels like the end. But if you read biographies at all, you know Corrie Ten Boom got out of prison, even though her sister didn’t.  You know something that seemed interminable was maybe four or five years long. We don’t know the ending when we are in the middle.


What was so hard is we had reached a place where we couldn’t communicate.  The words that comforted me and that I would use, set you off. We couldn’t speak the same language. Instead of making you feel better or validated it just sent you the other direction.  I was looking forward to having time with you after Bridget and Jon got married, and you were planning to leave.


Megan: I was already out.  I was really afraid of telling you, and it didn’t go as planned. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I had this plan to butter you up for like two weeks at least.  I was going to be the model daughter and then slip it in gradually.


Mom: How did that go?


Megan: Not great, because, I don’t know if you remember this, but I had visited Connecticut right after Bridget’s wedding.  I came home from that, and you asked me about my trip. I was talking about Wallingford, and the Ward street church community, and how much I liked everyone, and how connected I felt, and you said “Well, if you like Connecticut so much why don’t you just live there?”  Then there was this really awkward silence, and I was like actually, since you mention it, what if I did live there? I talked to dad about it pretty early on. There were a lot of reasons I moved, obviously our tumultuous relationship didn’t make me want to stay, but I had also watched a lot of friends have long distance relationships then combine a lot of big life transitions.  That sounded really scary to me, and I didn’t want to move forward further in a relationship with someone I hadn’t lived in the same town with. Western New York also isn’t the best area to get a part time job and gain independence. Dad at one point had suggested I move to Rochester, but in my mind, I thought I would live in Rochester for maybe a year or two before potentially moving to Connecticut anyways if things went well with Chris. 


Yeah so that didn’t go great.


Mom: What we realized as things unfolded and when the pain and shock dulled, was that we were at an impass.  It wasn’t an angry impass, it was just a life impass. You didn’t want to live at home until you were thirty.


Megan: That was part of it too. I think Bridget getting married made me think, because to me that signified what you wanted.  This was how it was supposed to happen. It was a mix of not having great communication for quite a while, and then realizing…


Mom: This was my future and I don’t want it?


Megan: well to put it bluntly…  I also knew you wanted more space and time with me, but on the one hand I felt like you already had it. On the other hand I felt like we had explored all our options relationally and it wasn’t working. I was kind of done, but I also didn’t have a lot of great tools to process what I was dealing with.  The coping mechanism I picked up for whatever reason was pack up. This was my first action on that.


Mom: The scripture that was such a comfort to me during that time was “When my mother and my father forsake me, the Lord will take me up” (Psalm 27:10)  and Philippians 1:6, “He who has begun a good work in you will keep on performing it” and I knew that God had you, and you had Chris’ family too. I used to look at that verse as “when my mother and my father turn their back on me” but we couldn’t take you any farther. We couldn’t help you in the direction you needed to go.  The Lord graciously did more for you than we could have. 


Megan: Once I started working on my own personal growth, you were one of the first that experienced my attempts at setting boundaries.


Mom: Apparently.

Megan: So, sorry about that.


Mom: Whenever we went to New England we tried to connect with you, so we had gone away for our anniversary to Vermont, and met up in Springfield for lunch.  We had a wonderful time.


Megan: I did have a wonderful time!


Mom: I thought everything was fine, and I got home and I got this email.  Then I reacted to it, whether you realized it or not. I might have given you a boundary back.


Megan: The whole topic of when Chris and I were going to have kids was something everyone was pestering me about, and I think it was actually dad, poor dad, that said something.  It was the last straw. I said something like “we will have kids if and when we’re ready, and this is our decision to make…” I was not good at conveying tone. In the past our family dynamic has focused a lot on closeness in relationship more than personal autonomy so boundaries have been a big topic for me.  Emailing ended up being a really good way to do it. Part of the reason we had such a big disconnect is we have very different communication styles. I am much better at writing, which is part of the reason I’m writing a book. I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m talking, and I’ve always felt that if someone was interested in what I had to say, they would be quiet and listen to it. 


Mom: That’s not the way our family worked.  Bridget and I used to call it “thinking out loud together” where we piggy backed on each others sentences.


Megan: It was super overwhelming to me.


Mom: Thinking about it now overwhelms me sometimes.  Now sometimes we will just say “I don’t think we need to talk about this.”


Megan: We were able to connect more when I could write about what I was thinking, and you were fortunately open.


Mom: It took days sometimes.


Megan: Well they were long too.  We wrote epistles. You would ask me questions, and I would think “Do you really want me to answer this? Do you really want to know?”  I think that was the start of you proving that you wanted to know the real me. You cared and were invested in why things happened how they happened.  I never didn’t love my family. That wasn’t a factor for me. There was just this huge dichotomy for me. I didn’t belong in a lot of ways.


Mom: You were the kid that was born thinking you were an adult.  Like the duck that’s born and imprints on a dog, and thinks it’s a dog.  You were born and surrounded by big people.


Megan: I thought I was a big person.  I forget who I told this to, but I told someone that I came out of the birth canal with the stick over my shoulder and knapsack. I’m good mom, thanks for the help.


Mom: laughs


Megan: I read this book recently called Frientimacy by Shasta Nelson, and she makes a really great point that we should be willing to put in as much effort in our relationships as positive relational time has elapsed. If there’s a challenge we should be able to put a corresponding amount of effort back into the relationship.  I like this idea a lot because it adds a layer of respect and honor in long term relationships. There’s a lot of advice out there that if you have a “toxic” person in your life you should just let them go, but a lot of times it doesn’t take into consideration that you could be the toxic person in your life. Sometimes there is merit on setting good boundaries and working through that space together, with a mutual belief that it’s worth it.  You have always shown that you value me and our relationship, and engaging in those emails was the first step. Can you talk a little about how that priority has looked in your life, especially as us kids have grown up and come into our own in different ways? It’s challenging to your own identity in a lot of ways to share that openness.


Mom: I’ve always believed in transparency.  I’ve been through church situations where the culture was that they didn’t risk transparency when a problem came up and that has always frustrated me. The three of you and your spouses and collective children are very important to me.  You are the priority in my life after my relationship with God and Mike. When you invited me to go on retreat with you, that was significant. When you asked me to do this interview, it was important. Years ago you invited me to go online with you, and I didn’t go.  That was a mistake. That’s where your friends were, and if I wanted to meet them I should have gone online. We try to do what we can to get behind your projects and make you successful in however we can. If your box lights up on chat I stop what I’m doing and chat with you.


Megan: That is important to me, because I am naturally a writer, and prefer email and chat to phone calls, so the fact that you do take time to chat or respond to an email means a lot and it’s noticed. It’s easy to wonder why someone doesn’t communicate how we want to without asking how they best communicate. 

Mom: As long as you don’t send me lengthy texts.


Megan: I know you’ve also gone through several seasons of isolation and wilderness, can you talk a little bit about how you felt led through those? 


Mom: Well, there were two or three significant wilderness experiences.  We felt the hand of God with us through it each time. He always brought people into our lives to support us.  The first time we were catapulted from our home here to a six month assignment for Mike in Connecticut that turned into three years.  It took all those years for the healing to take place. We just wanted to go sit in the back pew and then leave. We wanted to lick our wounds and hide.  But God brought us into the most amazing oasis of our life. We were involved in a family oriented church that had our values and they gave us a lot of strength.  It was so wonderful that it was really hard to come home. God really ministered to us in an amazing way there.  


The next one was not so easy.  We didn’t really believe in home-churching, but we were in a situation that relationally went very sour and became dangerous for us to stay in that.  We left, but we didn’t feel comfortable going to another church. We didn’t want to carry a relational mess to another community. We thought it was going to be short term since we were looking for reconciliation and closure, and that never came.  We home churched for about 11 years. We went to a church they were loosely affiliated for a while, and then we found the church we attend now. You asked how it was reintegrating into community, and it was hard. It wasn’t the fear of the situation repeating, it was more that community is messy.  I wasn’t ready to be open to that yet. Just sitting through a service was hard sometimes. There were days I went straight to the car after worship because I was done. When I see someone do that now, I get it. I mean they may also just have to go somewhere, but there are people who do not linger, and they may have a really good reason.  The most amazing thing there was the pastor and one of the women who did administrative work would thank us for our presence, just for showing up. That ministered to me.


Megan: No church community is perfect, but that’s a sign of a church that has leadership with good boundaries.  They acknowledge your presence and that it takes effort to show up. They aren’t looking for the next volunteer for their project.


Mom: They couldn’t know what it meant to us at that time to just have our presence valued. Gradually I started working with the children’s ministry, and I started getting to know the families.  Then D group (discipleship group) was the real catalyst for community.

Megan: It’s the women.


Mom: It’s the women! But really it’s the scripture, life application, and fellowship. Having prayer partners is so powerful as well.  “Confess your sins to one another and be healed”


Megan: That’s such a powerful verse.  I wrote about this recently. The biggest example I had of this was not in Christian community.  It was amazing to me to see what confession and repentance looked like in this space, without guilt or shame.  We acknowledged that we had caused harm to others in our lives, and we were able to speak into each other’s lives in this amazing way.  That’s how it’s supposed to be, right? We are going to invoke grace, mercy, and love in each others lives but we back away from it because sin, repentance and confession are hard words.


There are a lot of books and articles on parenting young kids and teens, but I feel like there’s less advice on sustaining deep relationships with adult children.  So what advice do you have for other moms out there who have older teens or young adults?


Mom: I don’t have advice for anyone.  


Megan: Well what encouragement do you have to offer?


Mom: I wish I had trusted God more. I didn’t realize how totally dependent this whole thing was on the power of God. I pray for you more now than I did when you were growing up.


Megan: We probably appreciate it more now than we did growing up.


Mom: God had to break through to me that it wasn’t about my power. 


Megan: Well that’s a perfectionist thing too.

Mom: If I’m expecting more of myself than God is expecting of me, that’s arrogance. God doesn’t need to be one upped.  Someone recently said that we can’t save our kids, God has to do that. I think I’ve been realizing I tried to do some of His job. Maybe that’s what made some of it so hard for you.  I knew I shouldn’t try to be the holy spirit in someone else’s life, but when you’re their parent sometimes there is overlap. Maybe there shouldn’t be, but there is.


Megan: I wasn’t exactly forthcoming with a lot of things either.  I didn’t have the skills to verbalize what was going on and what bothered me.  Now that I’ve grown those tools we have a better understanding.


Mom: Also now that you’re grown up.  We as grown ups don’t realize how powerful we are in the eyes of a little kid, whether we are a parent or a teacher.

Megan: Especially as a parent, because you create their life in a lot of ways.  As a kid I was very sensitive to saying things that upset my equilibrium. Not that they ever would have punished me for expressing myself, but especially since I was an empathetic kid, the only way I knew how to be happy was to keep everyone else happy.  I didn’t know how to have internal boundaries and not feel everyone else’s feelings. So there was no way I was going to bring up something on purpose that might create conflict, because then I would have to deal with those feelings too. 


Mom: I didn’t realize how some of our talks affected you, and suppressed you. 


Megan: You mentioned your language being inflammatory to me earlier, and this is where a lot of that came from as well.  I didn’t have a good way to express how I was feeling about these things, and all I got for feedback was that.


Mom: We’re just people trying to keep it together, we aren’t these powerful perfect parent people. I also thought if you didn’t get something I should rephrase it, when in reality you just felt like you were being railed on.  I can tell you my mistakes, I don’t know that I have advice. 


We don’t have all the answers, and everyone is entitled to their own path, choices, and mistakes. My greatest fear would be that you’re someone different around me.  I want to know who you really are, not who you think I want you to be.

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