enough

It’s 7:04am, even though my mind and the sun think it’s only just after 6. Daylight savings is not a joke.

I am showered and dressed, have a worship set list ready, and now I should go wake up my kiddos, who are happily unaware of the way we stole an hour from them somewhere in the middle of the night.

Five minutes more. We all need five more minutes.

Yesterday was long. Hard. No real reason. Just a very mommish kind of day. Only one day before I had thought, as we headed out the door dressed and ready for CFA at 8am, “We finally got this. Look, I’m even taking 2 minutes to find and apply lipstick!” Fast forward 24 hours, and I’m feeling like a failure every which way I turn. Taken in the positive, I could say that yesterday supplied me with several months of new goals for parenting and training.

My husband would probably say yesterday I was just tired, and the worst version of my melancholy idealist self comes out with a vengeance when I’m tired.

Either way, today is a new day. And, graciously, the grumpiest day I’ve had in awhile was shortened by an hour. The whole time zone conspiring to say, “Get that girl into some new mercies, quick.

*****

Here’s what I think often these days, and it brings strength just through the confessing:

I’m not doing this because I’m up for it.
I’m not doing this because I have enough to go around.
I’m not doing this because I’m a natural.

I’m doing this because HE has called me and promised to be my supply.

Do you know what that means? It means that since it’s only ever been about Him and His sufficiency, I don’t have to worry about my lack. Every single morning, every single moment, He is everything.

He’s all my husband needs.
All my kids need.
All the world needs.
All that I need.

*****

Oh my. I want to cry that she’s growing too fast, but who can cry when she’s growing into this absolutely fun and sweet sparkly-eyed person?

laboring

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you…

I’ve learned things about childbirth and labor in the last few years. I learned that it’s not easy, watching my strong and courageous mother, a woman I knew could take on the world, meet her match in labor. I learned that it can last for days as I waited and waited for news of my first nephews’ arrival. I learned that it can go much faster and more intensely than anticipated, when Jameson was born 4 hours and 15 minutes after my water broke, with barely 3 hours of contractions. I learned that it can include complications requiring life-saving measures, as my littlest brother was delivered by emergency c-section, and a niece followed suit several years later. I learned that it requires determination, that it exacts all reserves of courage, that it crashes like brutal waves and leaves you depleted only to find a new depth of strength. I learned that your last labor is not your next labor, and no two are exactly alike.

I learned that no one can promise you or tell you much about how it will go. The only true comfort is this: “There, that contraction is over. You’ll never ever have to do that one again.”

And the greatest joy is that there is a baby.

*****

I learned how to meet childbirth with Holy-Spirit inspired strength from my mother, and I’m learning what it means to be again in labor” as I watch my mother (and my father) persevere in seeing Christ formed in me and in my siblings.

All of those things about courage and perseverance and trusting for grace for this moment and not dwelling on how long that last labor was — all of those things, I see them doing still.

I’m learning that the ecstatic moment when you hear, “It’s a girl/boy!” is only the start of a life of laboring.

I’m learning that “I can’t do this anymore!” needs to be swiftly met with those scripture cards I wrote out for childbirth. He makes me able.

I’m learning to labor alongside. I’m learning that just as I am strengthened by my sisters and friends in a circle around my bed, wetting my sweaty forehead, rubbing my feet, whispering and cheering — so we strengthen one another as we each labor to see others come to maturity in Christ.

I’m learning that personal expectation and desires and any selfish grasping must be done away with. Just as I surrender my body to bring forth a baby, so we lay down our lives — our time, our energy, our money, our everything — to see people find Jesus and His purposes.

I’m learning what incredible joy it is to labor and pray and persevere alongside and then see someone dear be set free, fall in love with Jesus even more, set their hearts completely on Him.

Because this: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

*****

“It’s a girl/boy!” isn’t the end.

Neither is their 18th birthday, or high school graduation.

It’s not over until Christ is formed in them. (Yes, that’s a life-long labor we’re talking about.)

This is parenting that all believers are called to — married, single, childless — all.

*****

When the contractions keep coming, bringing these kids to Jesus is plain old hard, you wonder how much longer, and no one can tell you?

There’s this:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” –Galatians 6.7-9

l o v e

Valentine’s Day. Clear, beautiful. Heaps and heaps of fresh snow, beckoning children to play (and their mamas to walk!)

Space made in our week for card making and crafting and cookies. Sometimes we have squeezed it into the cracks, but this year I wanted to take the chance to reflect with our time that people are important, and that appreciation needs to be communicated.

Some children are more creative than others, true, and while one boy had all of his cards made and stashed by Monday at noon, others are using every available minute on unique creations that I marvel over (because of course they have to show me, eager for my smile of affirmation, or to make sure I laugh at the clever joke.)

Cookies baked and frosted, despite my dismal failure with the buttercream. I try so hard to make it about being together, more than anything, and of course, that togetherness means more barbed comments than kindness, grabbing than sharing, laughing at instead of laughing with — and I have to take a deep breath. This is what we are doing: we are learning love. That means we don’t already know it. It means we are lacking. We are un-learning instinctive responses of envy and selfishness and pride, and putting on empathy and gentleness and humility. And I am the mother: I am on duty at all times, and shouldn’t be surprised when a table full of cookies and bowls of pink frosting ends up being an opportunity for me to be gentle in my correction. I am learning, too.

Our littlest love. She spends so much of the day caught up with her siblings, finding me when she’s at last tired, or hungry. Nighttime she nestles in my arms, and I’m glad for those hours when she’s mine. What a sweet treasure.

my hallway and me

I’m sitting in our hallway, afternoon coffee and my current read in hand. It’s become my 2pm routine, as of this week, when I realized I had two options: lose afternoon rest/naptime forever, or commit to making it happen by clear enforcement of my parameters. Within 2 days, a certain willful 3yo had figured out that the sheriff was back in town, and now happily peruses the pages of one book before rolling over, closing her eyes, and drifting to sleep for a bit.

It has been good for me to commit to her in a few areas and then see that my wholehearted commitment was all that was required for some changes to transpire.

It has also just been good for me to get back to basics. It’s true that parenting is getting more “frills” as the kids grow older. Life isn’t as small and simple as it once was. But sometimes, I’m realizing, I’m tempted to move too fast too soon in that direction, when in reality, if I focus and commit, there is plenty of time (and need!) for the small and simple disciplines of motherhood.

This little 2pm date with my hallway is bringing shape to my children’s days, but it’s tethering my heart again, too. My task is so simple. Not easy, always, but simple: raise, nurture, train young bodies and hearts and minds.

*****

Is something about your day/life/patterns with your kids bothering you? Ask for wisdom.

Then, be willing to be the answer.

Don’t be surprised when the solution requires sacrifice.

*****


our all-girl outing on this sunny saturday

child-proofing and real life

I’ve been thinking lately about our culture’s attempts at child-proofing life for our kids — how our parental instincts sometimes lead us astray in helping our children navigate the real world.

I’m not much of a child-proofer. I didn’t grow up that way, and I don’t mother that way, either. My kids all know that if you drop a glass it will break, because they’ve all done so, and we get it over with sooner rather than later.

Neither, though, am I much for sugar coating or fancy when it comes to life. And why would I be? The reality is that we live in a fallen world, and to the enemy of our souls, children seem to be fair game. If he’s going to play dirty, I’m certainly not going to blindly insist to my children that life is all magic and fairytales.

As the preacher said in a recent sermon I listened to, “Life is NOT GOOD.” God is good. Life is hard

And I want my children, from their smallest years, in their tiniest awareness, to know that God can be trusted. All else is fragile, fickle, and finite. God is forever-love that they can lean their whole trust into and never be let down.

A few days ago Fiona told me about the bad dream that had awoken her and driven her to my bed for comfort. “I dreamed that you and Daddy left and then you never came back!” Oh, the sweet flow of tears down soft baby cheeks, as her little body collapsed against me in sobs, seeking assurance. She wanted me to make that bad dream go away.

And there’s the temptation to child-proof and sugar coat. To say, “Daddy and Mama will never leave you, baby!” But— But. Life is fragile, fickle, and finite.

So I leave all that false reality behind, the world of plastic cups and baby gates and instead I lead her to the best Reality of all:

“You know that Daddy and Mama will always come back to you, as long as it is in our power to do so. We love you so much. But you know, even I can’t promise you how life is going to go. Sometimes things happen to moms and dads and papas and nanas and friends… things that are hard and sad. But you know what I can absolutely promise you? Jesus will never ever leave you or forsake you, and every sad and scary thing that the devil tries to frighten you with? Jesus is stronger and greater, and He takes away our fear. And someday we’re going to live in His forever-kingdom where there can’t even be bad dreams because there is nothing bad.

Don’t child-proof life for your kids. They’re going to find out soon enough, when trials hit hard and close to home, that in this spiritual war, kids are fair game. But do take every opportunity to lead them to the Rock of truth, the Anchor of their souls, the Overcoming King. Give them Jesus.

keep learning!

If there’s one thing I think every homeschool mom says, it’s that we’re learning all of these amazing things that we didn’t get a chance to the first time around. I love that! In fact, my excitement about what I’m learning sets the tone for everyone’s attitude about knowledge. So, Mama, don’t just wait for a new piece of info to grab you. Press into learning, right along with your kids! Watch, read, ponder, research… even if they don’t think everything you’re awed by is amazing, they’ll see your awe.

Last fall we studied the Underground Railroad and the Abolitionist movement. As with much (all?) of human history, this left all of us quiet and sober and righteously angered many times. I had several documentaries and movies in my queue that I ultimately decided we weren’t quite ready for, given how upsetting it all was. Some stories and research left my William grappling in a deeper way with faith, and he woke after one sleepless night with his first original worship song. Learning is so real. It should be. For me, I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin for the first time and was so, so moved — so many moments had to pause as tears made the words blur, and I had to stop, silent in the face of such evil. I was moved by the book itself, and moved by the idea that this woman (Stowe) was a trailblazer, a champion, a trumpeter on the wall in a culture largely removed from the heinous issues of the day.

We’ve moved onto the Civil War, and I just finished Gods and Generals, as well as Killer Angels. Wow. Forget the didactic books on leadership; grab these and draw your own conclusions. My kids are used to my far-off gaze suddenly ending with a comment on character being what it all comes down to, or the question of those signatures on the Declaration and what that all meant, or was there another way? We put ourselves in those shoes and we ask the questions men and women faced in the past, and we recognize that there is nothing new under the sun and courage, righteousness, and bold decisions will be required of us all.

So I keep learning. All of life is school, and wisdom is calling to be found.

Learn to work hard…

learn to play hard…

learn to love hard.

So many ways to grow, so much to learn — and I am helping to set the pace.

Show me Your ways, oh Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.