Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Kelly Johnson

Episode 38

 

Rayna Neises, your host, interviews Amy Rienow. Amy is a wife and mother of seven. She and her husband, Rob, founded and lead Visionary Family Ministries created to help others live for Christ. She is also a licensed clinical professional counselor. Amy and Rayna relate the experiences of moms and caregivers and provide the following insights:

  • Perfectionism and making sure all the ducks are in a row is not going to be a source of peace.
  • Choose the things that must be there, that are most important to you, and then go with it.
  • You cannot create peace for everybody else and you cannot keep everybody else happy.
  • Do not let guilt rob you of joy and laughter.
  • Be the teachable expert.
  • You are the expert on the person who you are caring for and you need to own that.
  • Find what feeds you, make it a priority, and do it guilt-free.

Resources

Not So Perfect Mom

 

 

 

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcasts where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises your host, and today I’m excited to introduce you to Amy Rienow. Amy’s first ministry is loving her husband and nurturing faith in their seven children. She and Rob founded and lead Visionary Family Ministries a ministry created to equip parents, encourage couples and help families live for Christ. She attended the University of Illinois followed by Wheaton College Graduate School, where she earned her MA in clinical psychology, she’s a licensed clinical professional counselor. Amy has her hands full as a mom, partnering with Rob and serving in the women’s and worship ministries at church, you can connect with Amy at Instagram, at Amy VFM. I’m so excited to have you here today, Amy. Thanks for joining us.

Amy Rienow: 

Thanks for having me Rayna, it’s a delight to get to know you and your ministry.

Rayna Neises: 

So, wow. Seven kids, lots to learn about being in the mom. And I know your book it’s The Not So Perfect Mom, that’s our important thing to realize we can’t be perfect. And I thought as I was reading and learning a little more about you, what a great fit it was to really be able to have you talk to my listeners because so many caregivers are moms and find themselves in that place of taking care of their own kids, as well as needing to take care of their parents or loved one. So, what would you say is the best way for us to live in peace while we’re doing the sandwich generation thing?

Amy Rienow: 

Yeah, well, my own journey is that it really took awhile for me to realize that I was struggling with perfectionism because frankly, nothing in my life was ever perfect. So, for example, I remember literally in a span of maybe six weeks, I had three people come to my house and they said, you know, I just love coming here. Cause you’re just so real. I was like, my translation, my house is a disaster. You know what I mean? I’m not like. And not trying to be real, like I’d really would rather have you all be so impressed, you know, not so real. My point is I never felt like I had everything all together, you know? And so therefore it took awhile for me to understand that there really was in my mind, this perfectionism, that kind of paralyzed me because I didn’t have it all together, but I was constant only faced with the image of how I perceived things should be. And it was that image and that sense of who I should be, who my kids did to be what my house should be like What my schedule should like, like all of these, images that I had were actually robbing me of my joy. Robbing me of peace. Robbing me of the ability to really enjoy the things that were right in front of me, you know? And so, a friend of mine talked to me about how important it was to have peace in her home. And that really resonated with me because I did realize that my home needed to be a place that I could accept, a certain set of standards What were the standards I were going to accept that were important? And what were the things I was going to have to let go and be like, you know, it’s okay for me to let this one go. I can still have peace in that scenario and that was a lesson. And for me, I mean, it’s, it’s an ongoing lesson because your families keep changing your circumstances, keep changing and, I find it different stages that what I need for piece of my home changes, but that was, it’s just a very good parameter. Another friend also to me, you don’t find peace at the kitchen sink, meaning that, I could keep cleaning these dishes. It’s just going to get messed up again really quickly. Learning to rely on Jesus to be my peace, my relationship with my heavenly father to be my peace when I felt like I couldn’t get that, the level or the state, even when I couldn’t even get to that basic boundary of what I needed for peace in my home. Does that make sense? Like, having to accept that even that’s okay. That God is the source of peace, not making sure all these ducks are in a row. That’s never going to be my source of peace.

Rayna Neises: 

As caregivers, we definitely find ourselves in that boat because oftentimes we’re juggling even someone else’s house or another location, as well as our own house and trying to keep all of those things going. And like you said, I think so many times our expectation of a specific it’s going to look like this. And when it looks like this, then everything’s great. And when it doesn’t, then I’m moody, and unkind and stressed out and, and losing sleep because I’m trying to make it all perfect. That is such a common thing that I think in general, we struggle with maybe it’s as women. I don’t know. I just think as we’re really looking to take care of others, we have this picture in our mind and when we don’t reach that, it really can rob us of everything. And so I love that you’re saying to us, you know, really choose the things that have to be there that are most important to you. And then go with it because letting the other things go is going to give you the peace that you can’t have by just continuing to try to force it all to happen.

Amy Rienow: 

And you said something really key there, you said, choosing the things that are important to you. I think that’s so important as a mom, as a caregiver and both when you’re trying to please your own children. And when you’re trying to please a parent, which in some ways I think can, I don’t know, they’re both hard, but I think if I’m not in that role yet, but choosing what’s important for you to peace understanding that you can’t really control, you can’t create peace for everybody else. And I think that is a burden sometimes that we carry, like we can be responsible for other people’s thought the condition of other people’s hearts. Does that make sense? Like we can do what God’s called us to do. Albeit, we will disappoint people and not do it perfectly. And I know for me, my heart is wired to take that extremely personally when I can’t make everybody happy. But learning into that, what I need also to have that peace because when I have more peace, I’m able to absorb other people’s disappointments better. I’m able to absorb all of that a lot better than if I’m continually feeling, that I’m stressed. And you know, like you already said irritated and unkind, I can’t even absorb other people’s disappointments.

Rayna Neises: 

For sure. Just realizing that can make it the big difference that you can’t keep everybody happy. And again, communication, which we talk about a lot on the podcast. Just having those conversations with our loved ones, whether it be a parent or someone else that we’re caring for to just say, right now I just can’t do that for you. I can find someone else to do that for you. Or I can hire someone to take care of that. But I can’t do that because there’s not enough of me. And I think so many times we forget to do that as caregivers, we just go, okay, I’ll figure it out. I’ll get it done. I’ll take care of it. And we ended up losing sleep. We ended up not enjoying our children and we ended up so many other things suffer because we can’t just say, no. I think learning to say no, without saying no, can really be a powerful thing. You don’t have to say, no, I’m not going to do that. Mom. You can just say, no, I’m not going to do that, but I can find this person or I’ve already asked Sally to be able to take you to the doctor or whatever it is, if we can help to problem solve it, then it makes it easier to say no.

Amy Rienow: 

Right. It does for sure.

Rayna Neises: 

And now it has to be a part of what we’re doing in order to find peace And that probably has a lot to do then kind of the next word thing I was thinking of is just that guilt. So I know there’s a lot of mom guilt involved and I think caregiver guilt is a lot like mom guilt. So tell us a little bit about how to handle that mom guilt.

Amy Rienow: 

Yeah. I don’t know how to describe this and I use maybe Christian terms to talk about this, but I really feel that women need to come to a place where they understand the difference between conviction and guilt. And in the sense that we don’t want to live in a place where we can’t be convicted by the Holy spirit of something that needs to change in our life and the tool that I’ve always used, even with my own kids. It’s like, you know, when you feel the conviction that you need to change something or maybe conviction of a sin or a problem. Then a true repentance is actually a gift. What that does is it makes you actually feel closer to God. And it even makes you feel closer to maybe the person who helped you, like as a mom, disciplining their kids for example, the kids will feel closer to you. They won’t be pushing you away. When you get this gift of what I call it, the gift of true repentance. In contrast guilt always drives us into a sense of negativity about ourselves. It usually drives us away from God. And it drives us away from people who might be trying to point out things. You know what I mean? We usually isolate from people won’t don’t want to hear any negative thing from. That has helped me so much to really understand how much of my guilt was not coming from the Lord. It would just follow me around and how necessary it was to reject it and to really claim the truth that we have in scripture that therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ jesus. So this feeling of guilt that if it’s pervasive and you can’t escape it, I can assure you that is not coming from the Holy Spirit. And we have to learn to reject that because I feel that, the enemy really uses that again to rob joy. And when it robs joy and it robs peace, it’s really robbing also your ability to have good relationships, especially with your children. Because I always like to say, sometimes Christians use this saying, you know? Well, they have a deep inner joy. Well, joy that’s real joy should be visible. I mean, like the deep inner joy is an oxymoron. Kids know joy when they see it and they know when it’s not I had to really just come to grips with the fact that this guilt, it was robbing me of joy and joy and laughter, and a happy home is one of my absolute top priorities. So I want to make sure that that’s the kind of home that we have. And I’m not saying there isn’t conflict and tears and problems. I’m not trying to paint a Pollyanna world, but I do think that when we carry all this guilt. We are just feeding into the enemy’s trap. There’s a plan behind that guilt and it’s to bring that same sense of negativity and despair into the home. And we don’t want that.

Rayna Neises: 

And all of those things are so true, even in the caregiving realm. When you think about, if you’re feeling guilt, then that’s me making new resent the person you’re caring for, or the doctor who’s trying to work with you or whatever it is. And that pushes you away, that distances you versus having it be an outflow of love and expression of our desire to honor them, and joy. Just having fun and being able to laugh together, if we’re experiencing guilt for not doing something or, feeling like we don’t want to do things that we should be doing for our loved one. And so a lot of those things, like you said, I love that the difference between attracting versus pushing you away. That’s a really good thing to think about because so many times, again, it is caregivers we have that guilt We should be doing more. We should be doing more. We should be doing more. And all that does is burden us and weigh us down and totally rob our peace and joy. Being able to look at it again and say, okay, really? Should I, or why do I think I should, where’s this coming from?

Amy Rienow: 

And rejecting really rejecting. That false, lie. It’s a lie that, I just think feeling overly responsible for things that you can’t be responsible for feeling like you are, it’s a false sense of control. Does that make sense as well? And the thing is that, again, really rejecting it, like really saying guilt is a lie. I think we have to come to get to that place. Again, that’s why it’s a tricky line. Cause I’m not trying to say you never need to be corrected. I mean, it’s important. I feel like in my book, I really talk about the importance as a mom of being the teachable expert, meaning that it is really true you’re the expert on your kids. Like nobody knows your kids better than you. There are times that you’re going to have to stand up and be the expert. And the same thing is with caregiving for parents, no one knows your parents better than you. You’re going to have to stand up and you’re going to have to be the expert. But we can falter if we are not teachable, if we don’t have like a humble spirit and we’re able to receive. I think that’s very, very important. And that teachable as a mom, from our kids. So, I mean, I say, I’m sorry, you know, plenty to my kids. I’m still learning, but I like that phrase be the teachable expert, so have that humble teachable spirit, but realize you’re going to have to stand up. You’re the one who knows the best. That is going to require you sometimes saying things to someone or to a doctor. You’re going to have to say things that need to be said because you’re the one who knows some the best.

Rayna Neises: 

Teachable expert. That is so good, caregivers hang on to that, because that is what you are. You are the expert on the person that you’re caring for and you need to own that. And allow yourself to say, I know this about whoever. And again, what I put that on myself and think of for my dad who as his disease progressed with Alzheimer’s. He couldn’t tell you, Bob, are you in pain? No, but yet he’s limping you’re like, obviously something hurts. He couldn’t tell you, he couldn’t be his own advocate and being an expert of the person that you care for is who you are. And you do know, and you need to not be willing to take no for an answer if that’s not the right answer. If that’s not what’s best for the person that you’re caring for. And at the same time, I love that putting that on as a mom hat too, because we’re so many times in that role of doing both at the same time. You do know the people that you love, you’re caring for them, you know them well and owning that and being their advocate as you need to but at the same time, allowing. I’m sorry. You’re right. I’m wrong to happen because as I was caring for my dad and certain caregivers came in and they had experiences that were different and they were able to say, Hey, have you ever tried this? Or have you ever thought about that? Or did you know, your dad really likes this? And if I had stayed in only the expert role, I wouldn’t have been willing to say, Oh my gosh, wow. I didn’t know that, and learn from them and receive from them too. So that’s great. That’s a great nugget.

Amy Rienow: 

And you said something, Rayna is so important. Why you’re the expert is because you love them. And I just want to go back to the guilt thing for a second is because again, when you’re hit with that guilt, I really want, I encourage moms to really think about how they self sacrifice, loving their kids. You know what I mean? And the self sacrifice involves in caring for a parent and to acknowledge, do you know how many children this world don’t have anybody doing that for them? No one in their life. And how many, people are in nursing homes with no family members caring for them. And yet, somehow the enemy makes us feel guilty. Just think about how absurd that is, you know? So we really need to hold that. You love them, you’re the expert because you love them. And so you hang on to that. And so that’s why you reject the guilt because no, you would die for these people. You are loving them in a way that I always say, you know, moms, other kids, I think, more than anybody else on earth. I’m not trying to slight fathers there. I’m just saying we carry that. I always think about, in scripture where Mary, they say, a sword is going to pierce her own heart as well, you know, because of her great love for her son.

Rayna Neises: 

That’s true. I often remind people who are caring for their parents, your parents love you. You are your parents child, and you will always be their child. And so that love that passionate love that you have for your children, they have for you. And so it’s remembering that and honoring that because it is so important and such a big piece of what we’re doing is that self-sacrifice. Not to a point of losing yourself, but to a point of realizing this is a season and the person that we’re caring for has a need that is going to be bigger than as easy for us to meet.

Amy Rienow: 

Right.

Rayna Neises: 

I think of that even too, as a mom, our kids have needs that are bigger than it’s just easy, convenient for us to meet. Right? It takes sacrifice. It takes willingness to give of ourselves beyond our own ideal and, and being open to doing that.

Amy Rienow: 

Right, right.

Rayna Neises: 

So, as you are thinking on caregivers and you give them some great thoughts with how their faith comes into it, but what would you say is one of the most important things in that caring role, to help feed your faith?

Amy Rienow: 

To help feed your faith personally, I think now as a mom now for, okay. My oldest is about to be 23. So one advantage seven children and I have a 16 year span between my oldest and youngest is that it does give me like a learning curve in my own home, you know what I mean? Like, I really do get to do this over and over and see, like, Oh yeah, I definitely want to do this better. I learned when I got my master’s degree, which I love this. They said, you know, no child is born into the same family. And that is a very true statement. And it’s true between one and two. It’s true. I mean, like, I’m just telling you the home that my seventh child lives in is nothing like the home, my first child was in I’m a different person, so many different factors change. So the thing that I have found that that faith wise for me was that I do think I’m more willing now. And part of it is just, I am in a different season. To take time to sit and be with the Lord, find out what I need to do and guilt free. You know what I mean? I like to go to a coffee shop with my Bible and stay there for two and a half hours, my natural pace is to sit and be slow and just really enjoy reading my Bible and drinking as many cups of coffee as I want. Not feeling like I can’t do that, or even, putting pressure on myself. And this is really honest here right now, but I’m not a morning person. I’m a night person. So. And we homeschool so if I don’t have to be somewhere early, a certain time, then I’ll be in my pajamas, reading my Bible. I’m in my pajamas till 10 30, a lot. And my point is, I feel like I know that that helps nourish my faith to spend that time. And when I was a young mom, I think I had too much guilt. I’ve got to be on top of it. I can remember so many times being upset with myself. When am I going to change this habit? I got to get up and make sure I’m dressed and ready for the day. How my kids gonna remember me, if I’m like, you know, in my pajamas with my hair, a mess, and it’s 10:30. I’m scarring them, you know? And yet I’m actually doing in that time, what’s really important, which is getting my nourishment in His Word and, it’s okay. I’m going to choose that and not feel guilty about choosing it.

Rayna Neises: 

And for caregivers. I think that again, just relate so well and that you find what feeds you and you make it a priority. And it, we’re talking to a mom of seven, so it’s not like she’s got a lot of leisure time. She has to find the time and make it a priority and at the same time, make a priority, caring for all those that she’s caring for every day. It’s a struggle because it feels like there’s no way to fit that in and, and wisdom Amy is what you were saying is, has given you a chance to realize that I have to. I need to figure this out. This is important and it’s okay to let go of some of those other expectations to make the most important things happen no matter what.

Amy Rienow: 

Right, right. And really not believing the lie that it’s not important. And I also don’t want to put burden on people. I just read an article from a young mom who was feeling, she, I remember I couldn’t read my Bible every day when I went all my kids, babies. I couldn’t do that. You know? It’s not like it’s a pressure thing. It’s a real relationship with a heavenly father who loves you. So I’m in a point in my life now where it’s like, I get to enjoy a different pace because I’m not up nursing babies in the middle of the night. My kids can get cereal if I need them to get cereal, you know, that kind of thing. So you need the right balance. So the mom, who is all those, physical demands, you know, and I think caregiving also includes so many heavy physical things. I’m not saying read your Bible every day if that’s a burden. That may not be the thing you need to figure out what does nourish faith in you? What does encourage you? And she used to do that thing. Cause it looks very different for me now than it did in that phase of my life.

Rayna Neises: 

So important to really find what feeds you and be able to just guilt-free do that. Don’t let somebody else’s expectations make you feel like you are or are not doing a good job. Well, thank you so much, Amy. let’s start as I hope that you’ve found that this has been really helpful in thinking about juggling, both things, caring for your loved one as the same time as being a mom. Both jobs are big jobs and doing them at the same time can be really heavy, but being able to learn to let go of the perfectionism and tell the guilt to get out, can really make a big difference in that.

Amy Rienow: 

Absolutely, absolutely, have more freedom in the fact that God has given you this mission, He will equip you to do it. And, don’t put burdens on yourself that God isn’t putting on you, day by day, He will help you get through it day by day.

Rayna Neises: 

Wise words, thank you so much, Amy. Listeners remember that you can stay in contact with Amy on Instagram at AmyVFM, and also check out their website, visionaryfamm.com

Amy Rienow: 

Thank you, Rayna.

Rayna Neises: 

Just to reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, please contact your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Amy Rienow

Amy Rienow

Author, Counselor, & Mom

Amy’s first ministry is loving her husband and nurturing faith in their seven children. She and Rob founded and lead Visionary Family Ministries, a ministry created to equip parents, encourage couples, and help families live for Christ.

She attended the University of Illinois, followed by Wheaton College Graduate School, where she earned her MA in Clinical Psychology. She is a licensed clinical professional counselor. Amy has her hands full as a mom, partnering with Rob, and serving in the women’s and worship ministries at church.

Connect with Amy on Instagram @amyvfm

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

Your Host

An ICF Certified Coach, Pod-caster, Author & Speaker, offers encouragement, support and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

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4 Things you need to know as you begin your season of caring

4 Things you need to know as you begin your season of caring

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