Sunday, February 8, 2015

Free to love this!

I wrote a piece of work to share at a friends baby shower this week.  Writing is never an issue for me. Words flow easily for me.  But reading them out loud proves emotional.  These specific words were on being a mama...not a rare topic for me...but as i read them my sweet little Grace, who was sitting beside me, curled closer and closer to me and the tears flowed.  And then I felt the spirit reminding me that what I was saying was true and worth saying out loud.

A couple of weeks back I spent some time in Ohio with my sister and her family.  I have deemed that specific week in January to be auntie week.  My girl Paige being the main event, I have the pleasure of being her nanny for the week.  We don't do anything special with our day.  We laugh and love and play and nap and change diapers and have bath time and cry and sing.  I attempt to soak her into every pore as commuter auntie proves to be one of the hardest titles to hold.  The first night I was there I was able to help with her bedtime routine, my sister was giving me the rundown of the order of events when she sheepishly says to me, well we give her a bottle and rock her until she is almost and then we lay her down.  She followed with, I know she's one and we probably shouldn't but she likes and to be honest so do we.  

My heart broke in that moment for all mamas and my sister.  I know and continue to know those emotions so well.  There are so many shoulds and shouldn'ts out there that we loose sight of our freedom to love our babies however we are led to do so.  In doing so ensues a constant battle though to adopt our freedom in Jesus.  

As the week progressed I found myself reflecting on my own time as a mama of a one year old, as a mama of toddlers, babies and now.  And I realized although I shared some of the same emotions of those with younger ones around me, the causes and roots were much different.  I had my babies 12 years ago, and in that time there weren't blogs, facebook, instagram or french kids.  My benchmark was set by church ladies, the moms who "did it right", family, and the book What to Expect the First Year.  Sure some of that could be discouraging but most of the time it was fairly easy to push unwanted help to the side, absorb what was true and good and keep on truckin.

Now though Facebook alone is enough to make you question what you are doing.  So much mothering is thrown in your face and if it's someones perfect mothering, it's someones perfect complaints about mothering.  And now insert the blogs, in recent years there has been a mommy revolution of sorts.  One in which gives us the permission to say how much this job really stinks sometimes, to confess how much of struggle it can be, how tired we are all, how its okay to run from our littles in fear and lock ourselves in bathrooms.  Some of those things can be liberating I must agree, some of it provides for an unspoken camaraderie that can propel us forward. But maybe what I am noticing more of lately is the ability for that kind of platform to turn into a complaint center.  I read way more about moms who truly seem to hate this mom thing.  It is easier to rest in weariness than to search for joy.  I can make this claim because I know it first hand.

In that week in Ohio though I was reminded of the other option we are offered though.  One that rests in the spirit and is good and full of relief for our weary souls. Perhaps the most life changing piece of this truth is simple gospel that we all have access to wether you are a mama or not.  We are free to love simply because we ourselves our loved.  I am convinced that my role as mama is the most sanctifying role I have ever experienced.  It requires a great deal more of Jesus than I am even able to claim.  But without Him or the option of the sanctification it would seem a lot more like failure simply because any redemption of my own failure would be off of the table.  

There will days you feel like you are doing it all wrong, in fact you may in fact be doing it wrong.  There will be days that love is a far reach and your is more that of a lion tamer with a strong whip and a ravenous lion who hasn't been fed....ever.  Being a mama of a newborn is long and hard.  There is a lot of screaming and poop, lets be honest.  But what I can tell you in retrospect 12 years later is this, there will be a day when you realize you could have cared less about what french kids did, when you weaned your baby, if he or she had a binky, slept in your bed for the first year (or 10), whether you breastfed or bottle fed or if you had an epidural or not, or if you were trying to get your kid to poop on the potty just so they could go to preschool.  Those days are long but far shorter than you could ever imagine.  Being a mom is the single greatest thing that I could have ever hoped to do, I wish I could have had a dozen more.  My babies are nearly as tall as I am now, Neither of them need to be rocked to sleep or nursed to sleep.  

There have been times I have questioned my love for them.  In those early days I prayed that God would show me what it really looked like to truly love them and he covered that prayer and my longing with his grace.  Showing me in time that I did in fact love my littles.  Because every time I hold another baby it is very easy for me to draw from the love God gave me for the pair of them.  And my friends may be the most redeeming thing I have experienced as a mother.  Because I know my ability to love even my own children takes a great deal of Jesus every single day.  I wish this realization would have come to me a decade ago.  I would have spent far less time feeling shame and guilt and the need to make everything perfect for my kiddos all of the time.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grace Upon Grace

Its been an interesting couple of months around here. There has been much need for grace as we navigate a large area of new territory.  I started a new medication a couple of months ago that did nothing short of lay me out.  Some of the best days were the ones where I found myself in the bathtub twice in the span of twenty four hours, I never knew how thankful I would be for that green mass of cast iron.  But overtime it has gotten easier and my body seems to be responding to the treatment and I am getting over the need to have a body that is not broken.  

However the road in between then and now has been bumpy.  After a particularly hard day I confessed to Brian that I was not only feeling horrible physically but I was failing to see a point to all of this.  If I could not do the things that I felt I had been called to do, if I had to fail and struggle to get through my day, how was any of this worth it.  And as soon as the confession slipped past my lips the realization became quite clear that what I was rejecting was not in fact the illness or the weakness but the one person who was reaching out to pull me up and out of that self made bed of pity and self righteousness as I so badly wanted out.   Brian quickly blanketed me in what was truth, reminding me that my point here on this badly broken earth was not to be well in my own right, was not be able to serve and to do what I had declared as my own calling, but it is in fact that I hold on to the one thing that will forever remain to be an option, and that is that I would have the ability to be discipled and disciple others.  Not because of my own ability, not my own understanding, not my own strength or even my own weakness, but because someone came to save me from all of that crap!!!!  I have no need to be well.  Ton of bricks, those words hit me like a ton of bricks.

Two weeks back I had sent Grace to brush her teeth (on a saturday, how dare I;) she grumbled past me and went downstairs to declare to her brother that I was in fact a poopyhead....this is Graces ultimate naughty word:)  Of course being the "good" son that he is, he promptly came to repeat what he had heard.  Here is where you may be surprised, I really couldn't care less about my children respecting me out of my own need to be respected.  In fact their emotions are welcome.  I do not want there obedience to me to be zombie like or a simple reaction to the sound of my voice.  I do not need this.  But I do ache and long for them to know Jesus love for them and if he determines me to be a worthy vessel to show them love and mercy and grace that stems from only Him who gives it to me first  than so be it.  And that is where I pray that I will see there response to me rooted, in Jesus. Because lets face it, I am failing at this mom thing daily and so I can not expect that they wouldn't think I was a poopyhead every now and again.  But  we had to talk about said words, and she was able to say what her little heart was feeling.  But perhaps what happened next was where the meat and potatoes would lie.  She said, "Mom, I just keep praying that God would make me better, that he would help me to be good." and that friends was a dagger to my heart.  And the spirit immediately filled the space as these words came from my lips,"Oh dear one you are so loved.  Your prayer need not be that God would make you good but that you would realize everyday how incredibly loved and forgiven and accepted you are as you reach for Jesus.  That in him you will find an ability to take on His light and cast off your need to be good." This was not the conversation I had prepared in my head two minutes before she appeared from the basement. 

Folks my hope has rested for years in my ability to be good, to be better.  To be a good mom, a good wife, a good daughter, friend.  My own body had become an idol rather than a temple for Jesus to rest.  Striving for health rather than restoration in the one who heals.  And my daughters confession was truly the nail in the coffin for that way of living.  I love so much being a mama!  It is continually a wrestling match, a collision of my sin and that of my children.  But the God does not waste anything in my own mothering the spirit is repeatedly taking the reigns to navigate the brokeness and with that comes healing.

Very fortunately I know these simple interactions are only a piece of my healing.  I am a long way from completion and perhaps that is where our true hope lies.  That HE is not finished with us.

I had a dear friend remind me of this song a few weeks back. I wanted so badly to believe these words.  I wanted so badly to rest in the truth in which they speak of.  But sometimes that can't happen until other pieces of the puzzle are found are provided.  Gods timing is not only perfect but complete.

Dear ones you are so loved.  Rest in that and walk in love!!