For Mothers Growing Weary

Mothers everywhere know that some mothering days are rough.

Some mothering days mean little more than exhaustion, tedium and the pouring out of ourselves until we are empty.  Some mothering days are more snotty noses and temper tantrums and dirty diapers and spilled milk than anything else.  Some days we ask…we ask Him, we ask ourselves, we ask our young ones…”Does any of this really add up to anything?”

Sometimes, a lot of what we do doesn’t feel very much like making our mark on the world.

Sometimes, we just want to pee by ourselves…shower by ourselves…have a bite of lunch without sharing.  Sometimes, we go around so sleep deprived we don’t notice that our shirt is on backwards or remember that we haven’t showered since Tuesday or even care that the baby is pulling all the books of the bookshelf.  Again.  Sometimes we are wearied and we wonder…is this amounting to anything?  Does any of this really matter?

Because it’s easy to see our purpose when our young ones shine.  It’s easy to see our purpose when we read them a story about Jesus and we see understanding in their eyes.  It’s easy to see our purpose when the day is going right.

But it doesn’t always go right, does it?  Some days are downright exhausting.

Today, I am recovering from the stomach bug that just tore through my circle of friends.  It hit me HARD and I was two days down and miserable.  Today, I am better…eating a little, smiling a little, getting back to normal a little.  This morning, I felt a bit frayed and a bit fragile.  Still exhausted and weak and then small faces appeared in my room as I was trying to get dressed.  Small daughters full of questions and full of needs.  Today is just Wednesday as far as they are concerned.  Not the first day Mom was on her own after being ill. Just Wednesday.  Claire needed nose wipes and breakfast.  Lila needed the answer to all of life’s questions.  And breakfast.  And to watch me get dressed.  “You should put some make up on, Mommy.”  She suggested and I declined.

And I think about all of this from my unique perspective as a mother of five- one a young adult, two in their teen years, a preschooler and a toddler.  I can see the end.  I can see an end to the nose wiping and hiney wiping and tears and spilled chocolate pudding.  I can see what’s on the other side of this journey.

And I want to say to all of my fellow mothers on the journey- yes, it all amounts to something.  Yes, it matters.  Every single little thing you do to serve these ones you’ve been entrusted with matters.  Every tear you wipe away, every cry you answer, every spill you clean up, every time-out you administer, every story you read…all of it.  All of it matters.

On the good days when you’ve got it all together and you love every minute of little kid-dom, it matters.  On the crappy days when you’ve had it up to here…it matters.

Because one day, you will have had a hand in raising a human being and helping them find their place in the kingdom.  You will not always do it right, sometimes you won’t even do it well, sometimes you will want to quit…but what you are doing matters.

Because one day, you will see your child become their own person…an adult with her own ideas and her own style.  You will see them stand up and be counted.  You will feel the pride of having done your job well…in spite of it all.

This weekend, my daughter joined Bound4Life ministries and did a silent siege in front of the Supreme Court in Washington DC.  She stood and prayed for those with no voices.  She warred for what she believed in.

And even for those who don’t agree with her…can you not at least concede that she is courageous?  That she is true to herself?  That she is standing up for what she believes in?

She came home from this event full of stories and excitement.  She was pleased to have served the Lord in this way and I counted it as joy because she is doing what He’s called her to do.  Her life of prayer and service…her mission of intercession…she’s a world changer.

It matters, friends.

And while I can’t take credit for all that she is- (she has more than one parent, for one thing)  and I’ve made mistakes and done things poorly and all of that…Lord, I’m proud of her.  She is living life according to His purpose and I think that’s beautiful.

There is so much joy in the journey.  Yes, there is drudgery too…but so much joy.

Click here for one last image.From the Washington Post

You bet it matters.

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I’m sick with the stomach flu today and am way behind on blogging. I read this blog this afternoon with tears pouring down. Oh how wonderful and mysterious the cross, how deep the Father’s Love. Listen to this song and read the commentary he posted below the video. Let it be your Easter anthem. This is one of our family’s favorite songs.

johnmarkmcmillan

With Easter almost upon us, I’ve decided to re-post this line by line commentary on Death In His Grave that I wrote about about a year ago.  I hope you all enjoy it / re-enjoy it. 

 

 

“Death in his grave” is loosely inspired by Steve Turners Poem “The Morning That Death Was Killed” and the folk song “Jesse James”.  “Jesse James” was originally recorded in 1924 by Bascom Lamar Lunsford but later versions by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan sometimes included Judas in place of Robert Ford and Jesus as Jesse James.

Here is an excerpt of the Jesus / Judas version:

Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand
His followers true and brave
One dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot
Has laid Jesus Christ in His Grave

I liked the idea of writing a similar song about Jesus and Death.  I felt strongly that I wanted…

View original post 1,830 more words

Sons and Daughters

I watch Claire climb up on the toy chest by the window to read her book.  She is an unstoppable force, always moving, always doing, always into something.  She is determined.  Her daddy says she gets this from me.

But she is just like him.

She looks like him, her hands and feet are just like his.  She is his mini me.

I watch her, not quite seventeen months old, sitting in the sun from the window, thumbing through her book over and over again.  Books are the only thing that really hold her interest.  It’s the only time she is ever still.  So funny that a love for books could be genetic but it must be so.  My niece Addy will tell you about “Uncle John’s room” which is our living room/office and is filled with around one thousand books.  Books belonging to Claire’s daddy.

I think about Lila and how her smile reminds me so much of her cousins on her dad’s side, how her hands are her paternal grandmother’s hands.

I think of Aubrey.  From me she has inherited a love for children and a love for theatre but I hear in her speech patterns and see in her expressions her Aunt Ashley.

Julia.  Now that she is an adult, people marvel at how like me she is.  But it’s not in appearance…we just share some inner traits that people seem to recognize.  Mannerisms, ways of speaking, love of song and prayer.

Oh, and Chase.  He is his father all over again in appearance, but I see some of the Blantons in the set of his eyes.  I see my dad in those eyes and I like to think he gets his sense of humor from me. I know he gets his short temper from me.

They are all five uniquely themselves.  People always look for sameness in their children…this one looks like that one, this one acts like that one…but the truth is, they are all uniquely themselves.  They are all fearfully and wonderfully made.

My favorite phase of child development is the two to five phase.  This is when they become themselves and they are uninhibited enough to just be themselves.  They have all these weird little kid quirks that they don’t know to be embarrassed about.  Julia sucked her thumb and had her “pwo”…an ancient purple pillow that had been mine.  Aubrey came home from preschool every day and changed into her nightgown.  Once that was done, she just had to watch Pocahontas 2.  Every. Day.  Chase carried a handful of change in his fist all day, every day.  I had to pry it from his hands after he fell asleep.  He also toted a basketball and would only wear “basketball shirts” (tank tops).  Lila is obsessed with plastic animals.  We find them in unlikely places- in shoes, on the back of the toilet, perched on top of candles and picture frames.  Yesterday, I found one in the refrigerator.  Claire is not quite in this phase yet, but I see it coming.  She has her own self-ness too.

I love the authenticity of little kids.  I love their unapologetic, this-is-who-I-am ways.  I love that they’re okay with it being weird to dip their rice in ketchup, that they don’t mind that no one else in the house can stand to watch that particular episode of Barney again, that they think getting a sticker is the best thing that ever happened.  They live life full on, no holding back.

When do we lose that?

When do we become afraid?  When do we begin to doubt who we are?  When do our quirks become something to hide and not something to celebrate?

Ephesians 2:1 tells us:  “For we are God’s workmanship...”
Isaiah 43 tells us: “…we are created for His glory…”
Genesis 1, the very beginning says: “Let us make man in our own image…”
Psalm 139, so powerful to me: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

God only makes good things.  You are a good thing.  am a good thing.  Our children are a good thing.  Our spouses are a good thing.  We are all created by His hands and we all deserve to give and receive honor, to live our best selves, to love well…We are all God’s favorites, chosen to be loved and known by Him.

Not too long ago, I posted this:  No One is Youer than You.  At the end, I asked people to list five things that make them special.  Several people contacted me and said this was so hard for them.  Some couldn’t do it at all.  If you are one who struggles with embracing your you-ness, I just need you to know a few things:

There is NO ONE LIKE YOU.
You are beloved.
You have a purpose, you are not an accident.

Right now, Pandora is on tv and Darrel Evan’s “I’m Trading My Sorrows” is on. Lila is belting out, “Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord!” and she and Claire are dancing wild all around the living room. Abandoned, joyful, happy dancing. They are not ashamed of who they are, they just are who they are.

This is life.  This is living full.  This is a celebration of who we are.  Ones who are image bearers of the king, ones who are beloved and special and purposed.  Sons and daughters.

Five Things

What a week it has been.

Big Life Stuff up one side and down the other and through it all, the Lord has been faithful to teach me things.

1.  Suffering is never in vain.  God uses every trial to teach and refine.  Things don’t just happen so that we will hurt.  Things happen that are in His will and things happen that are not in His will but He uses everything to refine our hearts.  He uses suffering.

2.  Honor matters.  It just does.  We must err on the side of too much honor.  We must consider how our words will affect others.  We will never be sorry for behaving honorably…I think about Paw, who lived in this way.  She was not without fault, of course, but her goal was to speak well of others, to give honor, to be respectful.  It resulted in this- she was a woman of dignity, integrity and she was worthy of respect.  I’ve been thinking about that as I’ve opened my mouth to speak ever since her funeral.  Will my words add to the situation?  Are they words that will help?  Will these words elevate or will these words deteriorate?  I have a far road to travel on this one.

3.  Security can just NOT be found in earthly things.  I wasn’t expecting any emergencies at all last week.  I thought we had more time until Paw went Home to Him.  I certainly didn’t expect a veterinary emergency last week.  But I got one.

My dog ATE these five brand new bottles of vitamins.  

She had to be rushed to the vet’s office. We didn’t have a vet yet, so we had to just pick one and hope it would be a good one. My sister and Michelle had to scramble to get my kids and David and James figured out because according to Animal Poison Control (that call cost $39) she needed to be seen immediately.

Visiting the vet was a messy, smelly, expensive experience and in the end, they couldn’t help. We were sent down the road to the emergency vet…but not until AFTER she’d been given medication to induce diarrhea and vomiting…so you can imagine how that ten minute ride went. I’ll spare you the details.

She spent Friday evening until Sunday evening at the emergency vet. They got her fixed up and she’s going to be just fine.  This is Aubrey’s dog, and so I was relieved to be able to give her that news.  When I was filling out paperwork in the waiting room at the emergency vet, I said to the Lord, “Please, just let it cost only what I have…you know how much we have…let it be less than that amount.”

We had recently socked away $2000 per Dave Ramsey for savings and for emergency funds.  We were very proud of this accomplishment and I was personally pleased to have some security.  Finances are often a struggle here.  This felt like security.

When all was said and done at the end of Caro’s treatment…it totaled $1999.74.

I don’t tell you this to make you feel sorry for us or to make you send a donation.  We are okay.  It didn’t impact our day to day life money, our bills are paid, there is gas in both cars and a kitchen full of food.  Caroline’s emergency cost us our savings and our emergency fund…but God made sure we had enough for our needs.

Because our security is not in our finances.

Our security is in Him.

Which brings me to the next thing I’ve learned this week.

4.  God’s economy is absolutely NOT the same as the economy of this world.  To gain, we must give.  To be first, we must be last.  To have security, we must release our worldy things to Him.  Our pastor spoke on this last night and it really touched my heart.  I worry so about finances and the house and the cars and the kids and everything under the sun…but…

I
have
no
control
over
anything

I need to learn to live in the freedom of that statement.  It’s out of my control, it’s in His hands and He is a good father.  He does everything He does through a filter of love.

I’m glad we’re learning more about money and how to manage it well.  I’m glad.  But ultimately, He gives and He takes away.  It’s His to do what He wants with.

And so I said to Him yesterday, “Thank you that we had the money to take care of Caroline.”  It was what we had.  Not more.

5.  This life is an ever changing adventure.  Seasons come and seasons go and sometimes seasons come around again…I’m on my second season of raising small children, for instance.  I’m in a new season at a new church, with a new way of doing things.  Your circle of community will sometimes change and sometimes not…some people are friends you see every day for years and then not much at all.  Some people are friends who will do life with you always…but seasons change.  The one thing you can count on is that all things change except for One.  I am grieving the end of some seasons…grieving deep.  All at once, I grieve what has come to a close, anticipate the future and glory in the current.  All at once, on this great adventure, I am feeling everything and surrendering to the Life He Has Given Me.

This morning, I pulled out my gratitude journal and made some more entries.

237. My bed all made up
238. My husband who makes beds
239. Enough money to cover Caroline’s emergency
240. The bills all planned out for April
241. The smell of spring air through open windows
242. Laughter at our family Bible study
243. The song- You’re Beautiful
244. The IHOP iphone app and speakers that fill the downstairs with the sounds of the prayer room
245. Claire eating that chocolate pudding and LOVING it
246. Our nutty dog, who acts like nothing ever happened
247. Paw’s handkerchief

Little Memories

All is said and done and the funeral is over. The bustling is over, the crisis has passed.

In my typical fashion now that all of that is out of the way, I have begun to really grieve.  Dreams at night, waking with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, tears throughout the day.  It’s okay. Grieving is part of life and we must grieve the things we’ve loved and lost.

Little memories have come out of nowhere and they mostly make me smile.

1. Dippity doo- this is what Paw used for her hair for as long as I can remember.

2. One time, Paw let us crazy kids put up a Christmas tree in July. As we were putting up ornaments, I noticed a fat, fluffy rat “toy” in the bottom of the box that had been stored outside. It wasn’t a toy. The house was on the water, and it was a river rat.

3. Chocolate milk and chocolate frosted doughnuts. Timothy (a cousin) and I spent the night with her sometimes and she always let us sleep in her bed and in the morning, we would have chocolate milk and chocolate frosted doughnuts. One time, she let us eat them at night…in her bed…while we listened to cassette tapes of Jimmy Swaggart and she told us all about Jesus.

4. Endless hours on blankets and in lawn chairs out in the backyard at Paradise Point Road. We grew up there and so did our children and they will continue to. Running wild, crabbing, falling in the creek, canoeing, getting into trouble. Some of my happiest hours in life- childhood, adolescence, adulthood have been spent under those trees, looking out at the creek, surrounded by people I love.
5. Tang! Paw always kept Tang for the kids to drink. The Tang never tasted the same at home because Paw had well water which gave it a different sort of flavor.

I have a million more but that’s all for now…time to ready kids for preschool and try and get some laundry done and just go back to normal life.

Cousins of mine, aunts and uncles of mine, would you share your memories of our childhood too? I would love to hear about the little things you remember!

Paw’s Obituary

My eyes opened early this morning…not because of anyone small, not because of an alarm or the slamming door of a girl or two leaving for school.  I just woke up early.

I read my Paw’s obituary through tears and thought about her life.  Just like I have been for days now.

For thirty nine years, she has helped shape me.  For eighty five years, she has helped shape the world.

You can read more about her here:

The Obituary

 

This is the Day that the Lord Hath Made

When a loved one passes away…people often say or post, “Rest in peace.”

And often images of heaven are peaceful ones…babbling brooks, warm breezes, angels playing harp music, soft fluffy clouds and long, comfortable robes.

But today, my Paw died.  And today, she is with Jesus and so today…I don’t know how peaceful heaven is.  I’m thinking that today, in heaven, there’s a party.  That today, all of those faithful ones from the book of Hebrews are welcoming in one of their own.  Because my Paw lived faithful.

Today is the day that tambourines jingle and feet fly and laughter rings out across heaven.  Today is the day that Paw is no longer bound to her wheelchair or, as she has been lately, to her bed.  Today is the day she can run, she can twirl, she can jump and she can dance, dance, dance without getting tired.

Today Paw will hold hands with Jesus and look into the face of God and the joy that floods my heart when I think about that moment is such a comfort.  An elixir to the grief that this morning brings…knowing our world doesn’t have Paw in it anymore.

Paw used to sing to us on the back porch.  “Oh Jolly Playmate”…I can hear it in my heart even now.  She used to sing as she washed the dishes…”This is the Day”….

This is the day
This is the day that the Lord hath made
That the Lord hath made
We will rejoice
We will rejoice
And be glad in it
And be glad in it
This is the day that Lord hath made
We will rejoice and be glad in it
This is the day
This is the day
That the Lord hath made

This is the day that He called His daughter home.  That He called her to her reward.  And while we will so much miss the wisdom, the love, the joy that our Paw was in our lives…she is home.  This is a day that we rejoice in.

My sister prayed last night that Paw would feel all the love of all of her people at one time and that she would be blessed and rest in that.  The love that she is feeling today is that much love times 100.

We will mourn.  We will weep and we will feel sorrow…but we rejoice as well.  Paw is home.  Paw is loved.  Paw is dancing and leaping and singing and shouting.

And all of heaven with her.

God is good! All the time!

There are a lot of things that Christians just say.

Well, it was a season in my life…

The Lord works in mysterious ways…

God really put it on my heart…

He won’t give you more than you can handle.

God is good…all the time!

All the time….God is good!

I am really in the flesh right now…

I’m going into my prayer closet…

He really changed my heart…

I have to crucify my flesh…

We kind of have our own language in a way because there are some things that the world just doesn’t have an equivalent for.  They are strong truths, they are good but sometimes they make me giggle because Christians over use them.

There’s one thing we say that I think we need to really hear ourselves say.

What the enemy means for evil, God will turn around and use for good.

People have said this to me many times in my life.  It was said to me during the separation and divorce.  It was said to me during that hurricane/sick sister/loss of a friend time.  It was said to me yes, even in the midst of my miscarriage.  These were words that did not always help to hear.  Sometimes saying “it’s God’s will” or “God will use this for good” just hurts a lot.  In the midst of pain, those strong truths don’t fortify, they kind of increase the desperation and the sorrow.

Why can’t we see the power in those words when we are hurting?

Most of the time, I can receive it and know that it is true.

Today, I am standing on it.  And it’s not any one thing.   But for whatever reason, this verse is just reverberating within me today.

What the enemy (the enemy who is always prowling around seeking to kill, steal and destroy) means for evil, God (who is always prowling around looking for someone to save) will turn it around and use it for good.

The enemy has a plan for my life.

God has a plan for my life.

I am thinking about this today as I pray for my niece.  She struggles hard with anxiety and some mornings are harder than others.  Yesterday, I went to help my sister with a particularly rough morning.  I love my niece.  I hate to see her struggle with this, especially at only eight.  I understand my niece, because I deal with the same issue…I’m just old enough to not have a tantrum about it.  God has a plan for her life…He has a big plan for her life.  She is the daughter of godly parents, the heritage of Christ goes back through the grandparents and great grandparents and maybe even great grandparents.  God is going to use her and I know this…but she is too young yet to fully understand that He is able and He is with her.  This anxiety is a trial that God will turn around and use for good.  I just know it, though that’s a hard thing to see and say right now.  The words feel insubstantial as they come out of my mouth…so much power in that sentence but it’s so hard to see in our limited eyesight.

I am thinking of this sentence as I pray for a friend who is just smack in the midst of a season of Big Life Stuff.  She is doing some really hard things but she so wants to bless the Lord.  She doubts her ability to do it, but I know she can!  And God knows that she can.  She is doing hard things and living her life right and God loves her and is with her and is for her.  God will use this Big Life Stuff, these hard things for good.  He will.  I know He will.  But again…that seems like small comfort.  Words, just words.

I have a proposal to make, readers.  When our friends are dealing with Big Life Stuff- loss, heart ache, death, trials looming large…let’s don’t say, “God is in control.”  Let’s don’t say, “God will work all things together for good.”  Let’s don’t say, “But God is good…” with a wagging finger.  “All the time.”  Let’s just say, “I am sorry you’re going through this.  I love you.  I’m here.”  Or just stand with the hurting person.  We don’t have to say anything.  People who are hurting just need people to be present with them and to love them.

But let’s pray like this, “God, your word says that You are in control. I know that You see the whole of this Big Life Stuff and that you have a plan to work it out for our good. I know that You are good and I ask You to show your goodness to my person.”   We use those good things, those strong truths in prayer.  We pray God’s words back to His heart while we comfort the ones we love.

They are strong truths.  Let’s use them where there power will count the most.

Can you share a time where what someone said hurt or helped in a time of trial?

Expectations


Yesterday, one of my expectations was not met.

But it was a good thing.

We dropped of our car to be repaired at McCarty’s on Sunday night, late.  I have a Ford Expedition.  It’s a 1999 and it has well over 200,000 miles.  I am attached to it, because it has served me so well. It has only ever left me stranded once and when it did, it was for our own good.  The battery died just as the car ran completely out of oil.  (That was about four years ago.)  It’s been running really rough for the past several months and I was expecting a costly repair.  Only because it has barely needed anything for all these years.  Well, and because I am a worrying sort of girl and I almost always expect the worst.  We had planned for between $450 and $700.

The grand total was $354 and it is running great.

An unmet expectation that we called a blessing!

And it is a blessing!  A blessing that I can definitely get another year or two out of the old girl.  A blessing that we had the money to repair it.  A blessing that it was less than we expected.

Yesterday, another one of my expectations wasn’t met.

And it wasn’t such a great thing.

Yesterday, on month six of trying, I discovered that I wasn’t pregnant again.

This unmet expectation filled me with disappointment, fear, worry, sadness….longing.  This unmet expectation really kind of put me in a funk.  Filled me with questions and even a bit of anger.  For heaven’s sakes, why is it always harder to get pregnant when you really want to?  It’s so easy to have a surprise baby!

These two unmet expectations stirred up very different reactions in me.

And then that sentence gave me pause.  These two unmet expectations stirred up very different reactions.  I asked the Lord to help me unpack it and figure out what He’s teaching me today.

An unmet expectation that ends positively is called a blessing.

An unmet expectation that ends negatively is called a disappointment.

But where is God in both?  We know that He has a plan for us.  We can stand on that.  We know that in this life there are many troubles, but where is God in blessing and in disappointment?

There have been times when I thought I knew that I knew that I knew what was the best outcome.  Things I had prayed for and longed for and desperately wanted.  I think of a house that we wanted to rent several years back.  It was small and modest and it was a good price.  It was going to be a good thing, it was low cost and it was just big enough to hold us.  We were SURE that this little three bedroom, room over the garage 1800 square foot house was going to be the perfect place for us.  It was in Great Bridge, an hour away from here.

We didn’t get the house.

I cried, I really did and the kids were bitterly disappointed and we were just astounded that God didn’t get us that house.

A few months later, this house that we live in now kind of just fell out of the sky and into your laps.  It’s four bedrooms, nearly twice the size, it’s in Grafton (where Aubrey has bloomed), close to my parents and my sister and so many friends and family.  We love our home.  And we would’ve missed it if our expectations for the other house would’ve been met.

Unmet expectations…sometimes disappointments turn into blessing a little later.  Not always…but we still must trust that He is in it.  He stands with us, He will bring good.

Because, God works all things together for our good.  All things.  Every sorrow, every disappointment and every trial.  And that is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow…but it is truth.

Listen to this song this morning.  Close your eyes and ask God to help you let go of your expectations.