When I began my thoughts on this project, Women of Grace, I didn’t really have anyone in mind, which is why it sat stagnant for nearly a year.  When I made the decision to finally jump into the project, Lauren was the first person I thought about.  It just so happened I was on retreat with other women in my church.  While there I coincidentally received a letter from Lauren.  Her words led me to believe, I needed to begin this project with her.  Why?  Well, first of all, Lauren shows grace in all that she does.  She understands how God is in charge of her life.  Lauren works full time, she has two beautiful children, her family is hours and hours away, and her husband has a job that requires frequent travel.  This is no easy task, but she does well at making it look easy.    My admiration for this woman is, in part, because I see Lauren up at church doing a bible study or organizing the young adults group, and beyond.  I see her working extra hours fundraising with special events for The Little Light House.  She’s offered dinner for our family after each child and I know I’m not the only one.  Plus, I’ve never seen a girl in so many weddings!  Count how many times this lady has been a bridesmaid in her life and that will tell you how much she’s loved.

I’ve actually wondered a few times if she sleeps.  Then I decided she must, because there are never any bags under her eyes.  How does this lady do it? From my own lessons in life, I know how people (myself included) can perceive others’ lives as being near perfect, but the reality is the individual has her own struggles and battles just the same as you or me.  For these reasons, I knew Lauren would be a great candidate for the rest of us.  We can all learn how to live a life, struggles and all, with dignity and grace.

Lauren and I share a certain love in our hearts for children of all abilities.  I finished my degree in Special Education after working for a beautiful school called The Center For Autism Education (CAE) in O’Fallon, MO.  Lauren began working as a Speech-Language Pathologist for Christian school called The Little Light House, here in Tulsa, OK.  If you have a chance to look up what this school is all about, it will bring you a multitude of joy!  The school is run purely on donations and the little loves who attend, do so for free.  It is a phenomenal place, and I had the opportunity to tour the school not long ago.  I fell in love because it reminded me of CAE.  It reminded me of the very reason I became a Special Education Teacher.  Anyway, look it up!

So without further ado…

Meet Lauren G.

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Is there a secret you’d like to share about balancing work and home life?

“I wish I had THE secret to this mystery.  All my life, I envisioned myself as a stay at home Momma.  Being a working Momma is never something I envisioned for myself, (or at least a full-time working Momma) which is the role I am currently fulfilling… until I realized and embraced the call, I feel God has on my life, to help people.  I am a Speech-Language Pathologist by trade and my passion is to empower, unlock, and reinforce communication methods and skills in children with special needs.  The mission statement of Little Light House (where I work joyfully) is to “glorify God by serving children with special needs, their families, and their communities” and I strive to live this out!  I am lucky to work in a Christian environment and even luckier that I get to take my children to work with me and allow that to serve as not only childcare, but their school.

“I love my “job”, but I have an extremely involved job.  By that, I mean it takes ALL of me.  It takes my emotions, my body, my mind, my heart, my creativity, my love, my passion, drive and dedication, perseverance, and almost all of my energy!  It takes many of my prayers, my petitions, and I truly feel that it is my purpose. When I come home my mind, body, and heart are tired.  Sadly, my house hasn’t picked itself up, the dishes are still dirty, and the laundry is still piled.  The kids need baths, I desire for a relaxing glass of wine, a few deep breaths, and a mindless activity, like trashy reality TV.  I wish I had a system figured out to accomplish all I need as a housewife and still be an engaged, active, and loving Mother…but, at this time, I do not.  I haven’t ruled it out and still hope and work toward it daily.

“I would like to say I am completely present for my children and husband between the time I get home from work and the time the kids go to bed, but that is just not truthful.  I often prioritize the house and errands over playtime; and I feel guilty about it.  Does it stop me the next time? Usually not, but sometimes I make myself proud and let the dish water get cold and the laundry wrinkle in the dryer and truly enjoy my children and husband, who are my ultimate passion and the loves of my life.”

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How would you describe yourself as a person (individual, wife, mother)?

“On Instagram (when you have only so many characters), I’ve describe myself as ‘Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend. Speech-Language Pathologist. Wanna-Be-Photog. Lover of Travel & Wine. First and Foremost Follower of Christ.’  However, I think I hold more titles and am even more than just that.  Sometimes, I am much better at a few of those than others, like in my life right now, being a friend seems extremely difficult, unless its convenient for me (just being honest). I am also an athlete, a cheerleader, a dishwasher, a laundry do-er, a picker upper, a chauffeur, a grocery shopper, a boo boo kisser, a personal shopper, a meal maker, an event planner, a social director, a sounding board, a partner in crime, a decision maker, a love of someone’s life…”

Tell us something you value in others, life, or just generally.

“In others, I value kindness. In life, I value relationships. In general and most importantly, I value prayer.”

 

What is the outcome you wish for your children and how do you attempt to achieve that?

I wish for them to be kind, happy, independent, and above all else love and follow Jesus.  I think it is important to live a life modeling what you want your kids to become.  You always hear the expression you “turn into your Mom (or Dad)” and if that’s as true as I think it is, you want to be the best you can be!

“I think instilling the love for Jesus early is important so they grow up thinking of Him as their friend, guide, Lord, and savior.  I am so grateful for the Little Light House plus the Bible Based Curriculum taught there alongside God’s love that is shown and felt every single day.  Graham LOVES going to church to do the Sign of Peace (so cute), “hear the bells”, “see Jesus”, walk up to communion (I love that he bows to the Eucharist and does so, not because we told him to, but because he watched us and did what we did), hear the instruments, sing songs, look at the books and talk about the stained glass.  We let him do all of these things because for him, it’s how he participates in the Mass, and it’s beautiful.”

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Is there one thing you wish you would have done differently from the start of your marriage/parenthood?

“As a Wife, I wish I’d been kinder, more patient, less judgmental, more loving, more sacrificial, quicker to apologize, and even faster to forgive.  Marriage is a place to learn and grown, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to do so with someone who is understanding.  He’s so patient, forgiving, loving, and just plain awesome.  My husband never ceases to make me want to be a better person, wife, mother, and Christian.

“As a Parent, I wish I would have been able to truly internalize the quote “there is no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one” because I (like so many other Mothers) struggle with SEVERE Mom guilt, everything from flat spots on the head due to sleeping on the back, to runny noses, to not being a Stay at home Mom, to having to run errands with my kids in tow, to working out a couple times a week, to only snuggling and holding them 23 out of 24 hours of the day, to doing household chores that had to be done, to wanting to go on a date WITHOUT them, to feeling exhausted and not feeling like I was soaking in EVERY SINGLE MOMENT.  I mean…. everything made me feel GUILTY! I wish I could have taken some of that stress, anxiety, and guilt away from myself because we are all doing the best we can.  When I look at my children, I realize I am doing a pretty wonderful job.”

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What is one piece of advice you’ve received and you always use?

“I have taken a part in a 3 part marriage series that one of my dearest friends and mentors (whether she knows it or not) puts on a couple times a year.  I find almost everything she says helpful as she has been married for 35 years.  She says…”lean on your Beloved” and explains that we cannot expect our husbands to meet the expectations, fill the hole in our heart, or close a gap only God can.  I am not saying I let my husband off the hook or lower my hopes and expectations of him, but I do realize I should have realistic, reachable expectations.  I know what he can fulfill (which is certainly a lot) and I am getting better at realizing which are the other God-shaped “holes” that only He can fulfill.”

Who do you look up to in your life? (there could be more than one)

“My Mom.  She has had some major obstacles to overcome, some caused by her own choices and others not.  She has persevered, shared her story, and most of all inspired others by it, especially me.  Through it all, she has been strong, courageous, loving and grown in faith.  If I can be half the mother she is, I will be the kind of Mom I strive to be every single day.  She taught me how to love and for that I am thankful.

“My Dad.  The most morally sound man I know.  He is dedicated, caring, devoted, loyal, trustworthy, and predictable.  A man of quiet faith.  Growing up, I could look over and know when he was praying.  He would pray before he ate, every single time (when the rest of us would just pray at meals).  He would pray and talk to God throughout the day.  I knew this because I would see him doing the sign of the cross randomly.  I received my love of the Catholic Church from him and I am so proud to proclaim this faith and thankful he shared it with me.”

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What have you learned along the way?

“What are the hard parts of being a wife and mother?  The hardest part for me is there really isn’t a break.  There may be a babysitter for a dinner out, or a visit to the grandparents for a weekend getaway, but YOU ARE ALWAYS A MOM.  YOU ARE ALWAYS A WIFE.  Which…”duh”!  It may sound like I am complaining…I’m not!  It is extremely exhausting by all standards: mentally, physically and certainly emotionally.  Taking care of yourself often goes on the back burner because you have others who NEED to be taken care of completely.  I chose this and I am so thankful God answered my prayers, but there are many days I lay in bed at night to say my prayers and realize I haven’t taken a deep breath all day long.  I am working on caring for myself while I care for my family and that almost feels wrong!  It goes back to that “Mom guilt” because being selfless just goes with the Mom territory.

“Its also hard to continue being the wife you were because now the littles NEED you.  Your husband may just WANT you, or that’s what it feels like, anyway.  In all honesty, it is true that my husband NEEDS me too.  The Bible tells us that.  I have a perfect example to share with you…

“My husband, Eric, LOVES his birthday…always has, always will.  Last year, I threw a HUGE “First Fiesta, Thirtieth Siesta” Party for him and my son, Graham, because their birthdays are 3 days apart.  This year, we celebrated Graham’s birthday on Eric’s birthday and Maggie’s baptism the day after.  Eric barely got to sit down on his birthday because we were busy getting ready and preparing for the kids important events.  These don’t make Eric’s birthday less important or special but I couldn’t give my all to all 3 events, so I prioritized the kids and did what I could to make Eric feel special.”

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Tell us three fun or interesting facts about you.

  1. “My husband and I went to the same high school in Austin, TX but did not know each other. Ironically, I graduated with his brother and we had a few mutual friends but for all intents and purposes, we were strangers.  We really met and hit it off at Oklahoma State (GO POKES!) when he was serving as a house boy at my sorority (Ring Ching) and have never looked back.
  2. “Which brings me to my next one, I am a DIEHARD OSU Cowboy fan.
  3. “I developed my love of travel at an early age.  At the age of ten, I traveled solo to Las Vegas to visit my best friends who had moved there the year before.  Not only did I find it easy to do, I enjoyed the challenge and the independence it brought.  When I turned eleven, I found myself flying to Singapore with a friend for a month.  We embraced the culture, tried new and exotic foods, journaled everything, took pictures every where we went, soaked up every bit of history we could, and promised each other we’d keep exploring.  So, whether it be Montana, Canada, Greece, Florida, Austria, Georgia, Switzerland, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Belize, NYC, and so on… I have kept my promise.  Eric and I took a life-changing trip to Italy (Rome, Assisi, Venice) with Fr. Michael Pratt and friends.  There we celebrated mass at the neatest places including St. Pope John Paul II’s tomb.  We gazed at the top of St. Peters from the North American College rooftop, climbed the Holy Steps on our knees and prayed in front of the relics of the Passion of Christ.  We climbed to the top of Assisi, saluted Eric’s American flag shorts on Memorial Day, went wine tasting in the beautiful country side, made wishes at the Trevi Fountain, at gelato at least twice a day, learned what Carbonara was, danced at a restaurant in Venice until they kicked us out, made lifelong friendships and accountability partners, went to confession in the major Basilicas and churches and grew in our faith more than we could have ever imagined.  I was truly an amazing, life growing experience I will forever be grateful for.  It changed our marriage, our priorities, and our life going forward in the most wonderful way.”

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Is there anything else you would like to share with the audience that could benefit someone else?

“I think God’s timing is perfect, and I think he is using Dana (a wonderful Mom, wife, blogger, photographer, and friend) to allow me to reflect and be more honest with myself and others.  Since having our second child, I haven’t felt that sense of “I’ve got this!” Instead, I actually feel quite the opposite.

“I have realized I am guilty of comparing myself to others, especially other Moms. I compare what I don’t do (and what I do do), what I don’t have, what I don’t want, what I eat, what I wear, what I post on social media, what my kids look and act like, what is on and off my schedule, and even my faith life.  I pray  in this world of social media and in the busyness of life, that I can stop comparing and concentrate on myself, my family, and my God!  I hope we can continue to work to build each other up, encourage, and support each other as women because the good Lord knows, we need it.  I know it means the wold to me when others recognize the heart, effort, time, love, and sacrifice I put into something.  It helps recharge the batteries and keeps me doing the things I need to be doing.

“Encouragement. Accountability. Acceptance. Faith. Hope. Love.  That’s what friends are for.  That’s what community is for.  That’s what the church is for.  That’s what the body of Christ is meant to do.”

 

 

 

 

Posted by:stmarthaslens

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