Soon

13576827_10100713984985605_422606740353858805_oIf this guy had a tattoo, it would read: ADDICTED TO CUDDLES.

He can’t help it; it’s in his genes. After a wonky day where he missed his morning nap and only had a few snoozes here and there, I put him down for what I thought would be a solid afternoon nap. Forty-five minutes later, “MOMMY!!! MOMMY!!! MOMMY!!!” (Okay, no. He doesn’t say that, but that’s what he means.) When I scooped him up and saw his little red-rimmed eyelids, I knew he needed more sleep, and that he needed a little extra help.

So we wrapped up in our favorite wrap and gently bounced. As I patted and petted and hugged my little bundle, I had this thought:  One day soon, he will be in another woman’s arms when he’s worn down. When the world becomes too much for him now, I am his refuge, but that won’t always be. And then — I’ll admit it — with a brief flash of future jealousy, I wondered how I will cope with only hearing from my sons once a week, or every other week, or less. How does a mother’s heart survive this trauma, knowing another woman has stolen her son?!

Refocus.

Oh, this is how You planned it, Lord. Fashioned in a woman, birthed of a woman, nourished through a woman, nurtured by a woman, destined for a(nother) woman. Oh, let her — this other woman — let her be humble and kind.  Both girls — Bennett’s and Luke’s — let them love You fiercely and love my boys fiercely. Let them let their husbands and help their husbands be good men. Let them be humble and kind and holy and brave and strong.

I breathe in his scent, hear his soft snores.

Thank You for these boys, this royalty worth dying for. Thank You for entrusting me with this high and holy calling. Help me to get them ready, for time is so short.

If I had a tattoo, it would say: SOON.

Soon, no one will be pulling at me or screaming for me.
Soon, no one will call me “Mommy.” (Or “MOMMYYYYYYYY!!!”)
Soon, I won’t have to remind anyone that our hands are for showing love and kindness and so are our words, or that God gave us toys so we can share them.
Soon, my chances will be gone, and I’ll hope what I did was enough.

Soon is a word I use to focus myself.

Today, it was a bittersweet moment as I imagined the future. Knowing it will come so soon, yet determining to savor sweet baby breath. Hoping for faithful daughters-in-law, yet cherishing chubby cheeks, wrists, ankles. Soon, this baby will be a man. But right now, he’s a baby, and there’s so much beautiful ahead of us. This is such a good moment. Keep rocking. Keep praying. God is good.

Yesterday, it was a desperate moment as I despaired the present. A preschooler in the other room needed me while I held an inconsolable infant while I internally counseled this tear-soaked woman on her fourth day of fever and sickness with this one word: SOON. Soon, you will feel better. Soon, the baby will stop screaming. Soon, what the preschooler needs help with, he will be able to do on his own. Soon, your babies won’t need you quite so much, and that will be good, but hard. This moment is also good, but hard. Keep rocking. Keep praying. Keep crying, too; it’s okay to fall apart sometimes.

Soon, Mama. Soon.

 

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Imitation

(Handwritten in my journal on July 18, 2014)

I just had a profound experience reading a blog post entitled, “To My Future Daughter-in-Law.” In it, the author refers to her own infant son as the future daughter-in-law’s husband. I have prayed for my son’s future wife, but I have never considered it in those terms, that he is her husband. Of course, I tell God all the time that I know Bennett is not really mine, but His. This is hard enough. I must confess my immaturity and jealousy here when I consider that another woman will take him from me!

Of course, I know this will happen. I just don’t want to think about those chubby cheeks giving way to rough stubble, or that poochy belly slimming and revealing lean muscle, or his eyes sparkling for any girl besides myself. These things are good and God-ordained, but it hurts to think about it. I need to pray more intentionally that God readies my heart, for this boy is someone’s husband. 

But, this was not the main part of the post that affected me so profoundly. It was this prayer: 

Lord, make him a man among men. A leader among leaders. Make him strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. Make him a good man in a storm.

That’s where I totally lost it. I want all these things for my Bennett, and it’s my responsibility to teach him all of it in between shoe-tying and counting. How can I teach these things if I am none of them myself?

I blend in with the crowd, but you, Son, go and lead. 

I am weak, easily beaten down, fearful, selfish, and prideful. I’m panicky in a storm. But you, Son, do as I say, not as I do. 

I totally lost it when I read this prayer, because I know I can’t do it. I went into the shower and nearly choked on the water, I was sobbing so hard. A tearful, snotty, soaking wet mess, I stood naked before God and lamented the irony that I want more children when I am so woefully inadequate in shepherding this one. I cried in fear because I cannot control who my son becomes, even if I WERE strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. And God’s answer?

Oh, He’s all grace on this one. I may have no control, but I am far from powerless. I may be weak, but I am not alone: 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
(Joshua 1:9)

Lord, make me a woman among women. A leader among leaders. Make me strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. Make me a good woman in a storm, a sincere and sold-out follower of Christ, and a leader of others into Your Kingdom. Make me all of these things so that I might be able to say to my children with confidence in You, 

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1)

And thank You, Lord, for Your grace and wisdom in giving my children an amazing father who is all the things I am not. I am not alone!

~Amen and Maranatha~







I am on a one-year journey through the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. This month, I am practicing the discipline of Christian meditation, and the experience related in this journal entry came out of meditation on the truths shared in the above-linked post and, most especially, on Joshua 1:9. He’s had me meditating on that verse for days. I hope to share more from my experiences as I journey through the spiritual disciplines over this next year. 

She is Blessed

Her children rise up and bless her.
~Proverbs 31:28a

There is no shortage of blogs dedicated to motivating underappreciated mothers. You know what I’m talking about: the kind that remind you that changing your child’s vomit-soaked sheets for the third time in the third watch of the night has eternal weight. The kind that draws tears down your nodding face as it applies inspirational Scripture to your triumph in NOT locking your bedroom door and burying your head under your pillow as your two-year-old mashes poop into your carpet whilst in the throes of the worst tantrum this side of the Pecos. And that side, too. Way to go, Momma — that little monkey will surely rise up and be the next Mother Teresa because of your patience through The Crap Catastrophe of 2014! 

I appreciate these types of posts as much as the next mom; truly, I do. Tears stream down my nodding face when I read them, too, because it really does remind me in those mundane moments that I’m sowing eternal seeds — that anyone would be hard-pressed to think of a more important mission than shepherding little hearts and teaching them big truths about the God who loves them with a love even bigger than Momma’s. The vomit and poop aside, there is no greater job.

And of course, my little goose rises up every morning and blesses me, just like the verse predicts.

He says, “Thank you, Mom, for always being there. I know you work hard to make me food five times a day, and to keep my environment clean and enriching. Oh and I know that cleaning my booty isn’t fun. But it’s so great that you do those things, because I’m just a little kid and otherwise, I’d be hungry and bored and stinky and really upset all the time. Oh and the best thing? I LOVE it when you tell me about Jesus! Tell me more about Him, Mom! Right now, while you change my diaper!”

(Or some variation thereof. This is just a general idea.)

Or, maybe it’s more like this:

I hear him call, “Ma-ma! Ma-ma! Ma-ma!” through the monitor when he wakes up. He knows he can trust me to be there.

If he’s feeling happy, he smiles and laughs when I open his door.

If he’s feeling grumpy, he whimpers and cuddles in close when I pick him up.

He tells me all about his dreams as I change his diaper, and then he sits sweetly with me as we watch Imagination Movers before breakfast.

He shows me every day that he’s learning new things, like words and letters and numbers colors and how to follow directions and — oh this one’s the best — how to pray with me. (“‘Sus, kank oo. Wub oo. Mama. Da-ee. Bobo. Mahmen.” Which translated is “Jesus, thank you. Love you. Bless Mama. Bless Daddy. Bless Bobo. Amen.”)

He trusts me. He knows I’ll help him when he needs it, and he knows I’ll kiss his boo-boos. He comes running up to me for no reason, says, “Mama!” and hugs me.

His eyes sparkle when he looks at me.

He rises up and blesses me — every morning.

All kids do, in some way. We’ve got to cling to those precious gifts — those little affirmations that it’s worth it. We must persevere through the defiance and the attitude and everything that makes parenting hard and remember that every morning that they rise up and look to us, trusting us for whatever they need, they are blessing us. They can’t help it.

It’s our job, then, to recognize every victory — no matter how small — as the blessing it is. If you look out for these blessings, you’ll see your child(ren) blessing you even on the most difficult of days and through the most difficult seasons. Persevere; keep doing what the Lord has called you to do, keep learning how to do it better and how to be more faithful, but don’t miss how your child(ren) already bless you, despite your mistakes and theirs.

 

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, Not only are you blessed, but you are a profound blessing to me. Every single day, even the hard ones. Thank you for being you. 

My Love, Thank you for all the support you’ve given me in this journey of parenthood. This post is about Bennett, but you bless me every day, too. Your post is coming soon. 🙂

My God, What a magnificent array of blessings You’ve bestowed on me through my guys. I am so thankful and so humbled that You gave them to me. Give me the strength and the wisdom to be for them the wife and mother they need and deserve!

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

She’s a Spy!

She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
~Proverbs 31:27

Before becoming a full-time homemaker, I taught middle school for six years. We moved twice during that time, so my experience comes from three different school districts in two states, and I served students from many different backgrounds (including religious, racial, socioeconomic, national, etc.). A sadly common thread:

So many parents have no idea who their children really are, what their children really believe and value, how their children spend the majority of their time, or with whom they’re spending it. (Or they’re in denial.)

We could go down a road here talking about why that is, but that would be a never-ending road. There are so many factors, including the child’s own will and the enemy’s active work in his life. Not all of these children had lazy or careless or absent parents.

This is scary to me. It’s scary to look at my charming 18-month-old son and realize that I cannot ultimately control his choices or ultimately ensure his joy. Does that mean I’m powerless?

No!  

It means I have a lot of work to do! The verse above says that I am to look well to (look out or about, spy, keep watch, observe) the ways (goings and doings) of my household.

We’ve got to be spies, y’all! And what’s the first rule of being a spy? Well, I don’t know because I’m not one, but I’m going to say that it is this:

You must not accept what is merely apparent as being the full picture. (She looks well to the ways of her household.)

Accepting things at face-value makes for a terrible spy. “Well Mr. President, I personally met all the people on this list you gave me. They are all really charming, hospitable people. Some even bought my dinner and chatted with me about the merits of our country. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” Someone’s going to end up dead if that spy is trusted! I submit to you that we need to take our roles as mommy spies just as seriously, because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

We’ve all heard of those families that seemed to “have it all,” or that were “so happy,” or that were “Christian,” but that ultimately fell apart. Or the children strayed and never embraced the values and beliefs of their parents, bringing them much grief and heartache. Well, what’s merely apparent is not really ever the full picture. We must have our eyes and ears open; we must be alert. This doesn’t mean we need to be creepy stalkers and control freaks. It simply means that we should be active students of our husbands and of our children, so that we know when something is amiss. We may not know exactly what is wrong, but we should be perceptive enough to pick up on the fact that something is.

This brings me to the second rule of being a spy:

You must pray your knees off. (She does not eat the bread of idleness.)

(This would be rule number one, except that it’s easy to have your head in the sand, taking things at face value and praying shallow or misguided prayers. How often do we pray idle prayers just out of habit? You need to have some understanding of what’s going on around you — as well as the gravity of what’s going on — before you can pray anything useful about it.)

The Power of a Praying Parent   -     By: Stormie Omartian

I have been reading and praying through The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian for a few months now. Every day during nap time, I pray through one chapter for my son. In this book, the author mentions a few times how she prayed regularly that God would reveal to her anything about her children that she needed to know in order to be a good mother to them. She has several stories where those prayers were answered, and areas of sin or struggle were revealed to her in unexpected ways. She was then able to pray more specifically and also to take specific actions when necessary. I very strongly recommend this book to parents of children of all ages; it’s never too early or too late to start praying specifically for them!

Christian ladies, we have the God of heaven and earth in our hearts. There is amazing power in that! He is the source of all wisdom and all truth, and our prayers through His Spirit are mighty! We must not be lazy or idle with our time, for “laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).

So many people are asleep spiritually. They are blinded to what’s happening in their hearts and in their homes; they’re oblivious to the active work of the enemy, who prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy. The idle man suffers hunger, and hunger can and does lead to death. Let us then be diligent, watchful spies!

♥ ♥ ♥

My Son, I’m watching you! 

My Love, I’m watching you, too!

My God, thank You for watching over all of us. Make me an excellent wife and a wise mother, who watches not to be in control, but to be effective. Help me to love my men well and to see when something needs special attention. I know this is an immense responsibility — this wife-ing and mothering — but I also know that never once have I ever walked alone.

♥ ♥ ♥

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(This post is part of a series on Proverbs 31. Click here to see all posts in this series.)

Moving Toward Minimalism in Parenting

In preparing for the birth of my little one, I purchased two things: a changing table at a thrift store ($20) and a car seat/stroller from a family member ($50). That’s it. Everything else was given to me in the form of hand-me-downs, shower gifts, or gift cards that I used for whatever I didn’t get. Did I get everything I wanted? No. But I had everything I really needed. I know that because even though there were several things I didn’t get from my registry, I can’t even remember what those things were anymore. The only things we’ve had to buy is diapers (starting at around 3 or 4 months) and childproof cabinet locks (at around 9 months).

I made a decision to be careful about what I buy, because it’s sooo easy to overspend on your kid. Everything’s so cute! And my kid is so cute! All of this stuff is obviously made for him! And that’s why I don’t go into the baby clothes section. Ever.

E V E R .

I eagerly accept hand-me-downs from Bennett’s older cousin, and grandparents often can’t resist giving him the occasional outfit. This is great. He has everything he needs. Sometimes, I have to do laundry a little more often than I would if I just went out and bought a few more outfits for convenience, but I must remind myself that he’ll just grow out of those clothes in a month. I’d have to buy a bunch more to replace them, and then a bunch more, and then a bunch more… I think I’ll just do a load of laundry instead!

And recently, my boy needed a haircut. Now, I don’t know about you, but just about everyone I know takes their kid to the salon. It’s a whole big deal, with some sort of dinosaur or car they get to sit in; with cartoons, superhero capes, and suckers; and with a professional hairstylist who can make your kid look Abercrombie in 7 minutes flat. It’s pretty cool, really, and the kids do end up looking pretty swag! I love it! But for some reason, these fancy haircutting people ask for money. So I decided to do it myself.

It was a whole big deal, with a high chair, about seven graham crackers, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and a new mom who’d never given a scissor cut in her life, much less to an infant. And I made my kid look like a military recruit in 45 minutes flat. And I think he’s awfully cute. 😉

I’m no pro at this minimalist mom thing, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m learning. I really don’t have a lot of advice here, except to make “don’t buy it” a general rule. I put things in my cart at Walmart all the time and then put them back.

Like the green umbrella stroller with Mike Wazowski on it. It was cute. It was only $20. I would love to have a lightweight stroller instead of the monstrosity I do have. But the bottom line: I have a stroller. It is huge, but it works. It holds my baby and my bag, and it rolls. End of story.

I already talked about clothes, so let’s talk toys. I don’t buy those, either. I bought him three gifts for Christmas, and only one was a toy. (The other two were books and flashcards.) After seeing how much loot he got from family, I got to thinking that I didn’t need to get him anything at all! A baby just doesn’t really need a room full of toys. (What is mine playing with right now? The kitchen rug, a skillet, and some plastic containers.) If he has a grandma (or three of them, in our case), he will have plenty of toys.

Babies need so much less than all the websites and the commercials and the stores say they need. The people behind this are not concerned with teaching your child to have treasures in heaven (shocker!), but rather with making money by taking advantage of new parents who want the best for their children. That’s it. The irony is that by falling for their advertising, we’re doing exactly the opposite of what’s best for our children. The more we buy, the more we encourage materialism in our kids and welcome idolatry into their lives. While minimalism itself is not the answer to this problem — because anything can become an idol, even this — for me, minimalism is a step away from the clutter crowding my heart, and so then it is easier to see Jesus.

That is why I’m drawn to minimalism.

To My Son

My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;
And my inmost being will rejoice,
When your lips speak what is right.
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the LORD always.
Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.

~Proverbs 23:15-18, 24-25

Even though it will sometimes feel like an eternity, I know that you will be little for such a short time. I know that you will look to me and to your father for guidance easily, implicitly, intuitively, in those early years. I also know that it is natural for you to begin questioning and seeking answers elsewhere as you grow. Not everyone lives like we do. Not everyone serves Jesus Christ. Not everyone makes this a priority, yet completely avoids that. There are lots of ways to live life, and you will see them and question us. That’s normal, and that’s healthy. Ask. Seek. Knock.

My prayer for you is that you remember why we choose to live life the way we do. That as you grow and search out your own path, that you will always be seeking wisdom and truth, and that you will find Jesus. That you will not be fooled by those things that promise a good time, yet lead to destruction. That when you challenge us, it’s for a good reason. We’re not perfect, and we’re not always right. I pray for your heart to be attuned to God’s voice — even now! I pray that He whispers love, truth, and wisdom to you even in my womb — I pray that you know His voice and His heart so intimately that you surpass us and teach us to serve Him better.

I don’t pray that you’re just like us. I pray that you’re just like you — exactly the young man God is creating right now. (If you’re a lot like your dad, though, you’ll be in pretty good shape!)

For God is forming your inward parts; He is weaving you in my womb. Give thanks to Him, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are His works, and I pray that your soul knows it very well. Your frame is not hidden from God, as  you are made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. His eyes have seen your unformed substance; and in His book they were all written, the days that are ordained for you, when as yet there was not one of them. (adapted from Psalm 139)

My son, fear God, and make your Momma’s heart sing.

I love you.