The Beauty of Unplugging

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
-Anne Lamott

About eight months ago, David approached me about a conference that he wanted to attend at our old college in Washington.  He was rambling on about the theologians that would be speaking and the workshops he could attend and how great the Pacific Northwest is, and my tired eyes were glazing over until he spoke these magic words: “and they have a childcare program if you wanted to put the girls in.  I think they take them for the whole day or something.”

David had mentioned this conference to me every single year since 2010 and had tried to engage me in serious conversations about conference logistics for the last two or three years.  I was noncommittal.  Disinterested.  Why fly across the country to go to a few workshops?

But this year…it suddenly made perfect sense.

Childcare program.

Kids.

Gone.  

All day. 

I was in.  Ohhhhhh, I was in.

In early December I told my mom over the phone that we were probably going to the conference and that I was considering putting the girls in the conference childcare program.

“I’m not sure why you’d feel a need to do that,” my mom said. IMG_3986

I knew why.

Over Christmas, she watched the girls for a few hours.

A few days after we came home, she called me.  “I think you should put your kids in the conference childcare program.  I’d like to pay for one of them to go.”

We signed up.  And the thought of a WEEK OF CHILDCARE pulled me through the exhausting moments of winter and spring.

Riley’s fighting sleep training for 7.5 weeks? Oh well, she’s going to childcare for a week in July.  I’ll sleep then.  

Zoe has a virus mimicking strep throat and literally hasn’t stopped screaming or crying for six days? Wow, it will feel nice to get my break in July.

Tantrums? For a week in July, this will be someone else’s problem. 

There’s a study that shows that happiness is boosted more from the anticipation of a vacation than from the actual vacation.  I only wound up using the conference childcare for 3.5 days, but I milked about six months of anticipation from it.  And it delivered.

When we originally talked about the conference, I dreamed of spending the week writing.  About 2.5 months before the conference, as I began praying over what my project should be, I realized that what I needed most wasn’t a project.  What I needed most was to spend a week producing nothing.

And that’s exactly what I did.  I took a hike every morning.

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I read books.  I read the Bible.  I journaled.  I researched houses (we’re under contract now! More details to come.)  I napped.  I met up with a friend for coffee.  I went to the workout center on the college campus.  I spent time sitting outside doing nothing beyond enjoying the breeze.

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David and I went on a “coffee and hiking” date.  We also re-visited the place where we met for the first time.  Sweet, sweet memories :)

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I went to 1 hour and 20 minutes of educational programming (I know, go easier next time, right?) I did not do any cooking, meal cleanup, or laundry.

We extended our trip for 5 days after the conference ended, spending some friend time and family time, as well as some “Sarah/David/Zoe/Riley” time.  I got to spend substantial time with three of my favorite college girlfriends.

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(not pictured: the night we took a newborn to a wine bar)

I met up for a hike and coffee with two other great friends from college.  We saw my in-laws and celebrated Riley’s birthday with a great group of friends.

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We took Zoe and Riley to a few favorite spots from college, found a few new ones, ate great food, drank amazing coffee and wine, hiked 8/10 days, rested, relaxed, and enjoyed the beauty of one of my favorite areas of the country and world.

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It was a giant exhale.  And it was so, so needed.

When Zoe was almost 1, I began to feel like I was getting my mojo back.  I suddenly felt energy to do things that had seemed too hard for 11 months.  Although Riley still wakes up between 4:50 and 5:15 every morning, we are mostly sleeping through the night over here, and I’m beginning to feel the same way again.

I want to be more active and challenge myself physically again.  I want to make a little more space for myself to do some of my favorite things.  I want to occasionally straighten my hair.

I am going to be a mom for a very long time.  I want to be a person too.  

This trip was a great kickstart to that process.

Shortly after we got back, my sweet and thoughtful husband surprised me with an unlimited month pass to a barre studio near our house and told me his gift included handling the girls so that I could go.  So three times a week, I’ve been feeding my family canned soup or sandwiches for dinner, putting my kids to bed a little early, and heading out to barre class.

It’s funny—knowing I’m going to barre class that night is kind of like knowing that childcare is happening for a week in July.

Regardless of how my girls are behaving or how my work ends up being interrupted, I know on my barre class days that I will have some space and margin to just be me and focus on myself.  (I also know I won’t have to really cook dinner or do a lot of dishes…which is surprisingly helpful to the ol’ energy supply.)

Barre class focuses on the mind-body connection.  After a year of ignoring almost every message my body has sent me (because resting when it told me to was legitimately not an option with two young kids and no family in town),  it feels foreign but important to focus on this connection again.  I’ve found myself going to sleep a little earlier some days, and other days, pushing my body or mind a little further.  I’ve been alternating Jazzercise and barre classes and am pleasantly surprised to find that my body can still be challenged without breaking down—it seems that even though I spent a year feeling weak, I’m actually still pretty tough.

My goal for the fall is to keep connecting with me, with rest, and with margin.  I want to make more space for joy and surprise.

My prayer for the fall: Lord, make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside quiet waters.  Restore my soul.  Make your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.  Open my ears and eyes to see it.  

One Year Later

This summer has been really, really sweet.  And it would be easy to write about what my family has been up to, but somehow, it’s harder to write about how I think and feel…it requires reflection and honesty and time.

But it’s good for me to make that space and time for myself to reflect, so that’s what the next few posts are going to be about—how I am, and what I’ve been thinking about and feeling lately.

Riley turned one a few weeks ago, which means it’s been one year since my “mom of two” journey began.  Man, what a humbling year.  The fatigue.  The constant feelings of inadequacy. The never-ending needs.  Laying myself down, over and over again.  Getting up morning after morning and praying for strength I knew I didn’t possess.  Messing up.  Getting it right. Messing up again.  Taking help.  Thanking God for help.  Wishing I didn’t need help. Enjoying the gift of my girls.  Resenting the burden of my caring for my girls.  Loving one moment.  Wishing the next moment would end.  I never felt one emotion for long.

As we approached Riley’s birthday, I started to realize that even though I had spent an entire year feeling inadequate and over my head, everyone was still alive and doing well one year later.  I had made it.  And that somehow, despite how hard it was, I was better than I was a year ago.  This year showed me many places where I am weak and need to grow—but along the way, I did grow, and that is something to celebrate.

photo-79So did the birthday girl! Isn’t she beautiful?!

I’m not the same person I was a year ago.  I am definitely more run down, which is a negative (I’ll talk about that in my next post).  But I’m also more focused, more intentional with my time and friendships, less concerned with outcomes and more patient with process, and less affected by worry and anxiety.  One year later, I’m more at peace with myself and my calling, even if I struggle with the implementation of that calling sometimes when the toddler moments strike and the baby needs me and the dog is barking and a client is calling wanting to talk for the eleventh time about the timeline of a grant proposal I turned in last week.

I have dreams of doing “big,” cool things for God’s kingdom someday—writing a book, doing some speaking, sharing some wisdom.  But I have to get wisdom first, and I feel challenged and encouraged that what I am doing every day in this stage of my life is the way to develop that.

I’m not a natural mom to two babies this close together.  It’s not easy for me, and the multitasking and casualness it requires is not the best fit for my personality.

But I’ve hung in there anyway because I want to be refined.  I want to do the hard work.  I want to dig in every single day with all that I have and serve and love those around me, even when it’s not natural.  I want to pursue wisdom and learn how the Lord wants me to live, and 99% of my days, I feel like I am actually doing that.  If I never get to do those “bigger” things, I’ll still be glad with how I spent my time and energy—on the biggest things there are—and I will still have lived a “big” life that I can be proud of.

I am more concerned with developing right character than a big calling.  And this year offered lots of opportunities to build character.

My exercise instructor said recently as the class struggled through an exercise, “if you’re shaking, that means you’re working.  If you’re shaking, you’re changing.”  I love this thought—that just because something is HARD doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong, or that it isn’t getting me somewhere.  How naturally hard or easy something is isn’t really important.  What’s important is how I respond to the challenge: whether I keep trying and grow, or take the easy way out and stay the same.

Each August on our anniversary, David and I reflect on and write down our highlights of the year in a special journal.  This year, we wrote: WE SURVIVED.

222014-2015: no one in this photo is dead.  That sums it up.

We’re definitely not the same people that we were a year ago, and I am grateful for the growth.  But I am personally ready to move beyond subsistence.  Maybe :)

More in my next post!

Summer Photo Dump: June and July Edition

Because it’s hard to write words in summer.

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Zoe started swim lessons in May.  After her first week (which involved lots of screaming), she decided that she LOVES her lesson and her coaches.  She can now paddle about 5 feet to the wall.  I love watching her swim.

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The sweetest little princess you ever did see

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Sure, I’d rather sleep in (especially on vacation), but our little roosters sure push us to see some beautiful things.    A 7 am marsh walk in Amelia Island.  IMG_1730

“Yay for early mornings!”

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Direct quote: “Look, mama. It’s pretty, because of God.” All the feels…

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“Heh heh! Zoe’s asleep and doesn’t know that I’m on her car…”

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“Mama, I wanna match Riley.”IMG_4543 IMG_4544 IMG_4545

I cannot handle their cuteness sometimes.

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These little kittens did not want their Daddy to leave for his summer work trips.  Mommy did not either. BUT! Thanks to necessity, coffee, and the grace of God, we not only survived–but enjoyed!–two weeks without him!

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Cheers to Daddy being back!

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“I am hysterical.”IMG_4561

I see what you have to do to get attention around here.” IMG_4562IMG_4578

Sweet sisters.

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Getting some work done on a rainy afternoon.  I’ve been teaching a summer intensive, and my students have been AWESOME.  It’s been a blast to teach such an engaged bunch.  I also just got trained to complete 501c3 applications for initiatives and ministries that want to go through the process of becoming “official” nonprofit organizations, and have had a few other fun projects over the summer. I love being a professional AND a mama.

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Oh yes! We exist too! :) Date night with my love.

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A good summary of how we feel about summer so far.

How is your summer going?!! 

A Prayer, A Protest

I’ve written before about how I didn’t think about race for a lot of my life—a luxury I didn’t understand at the time.  Having two children with visually obvious black heritage has taught me something different.

I was very aware of the racial differences between myself and my daughters at first, but over time, my day-to-day acknowledgment and awareness have abated because I am just so busy taking care of their daily needs.  I don’t have a lot of conversations related to my children’s heritage anymore, and I have learned to walk away from unsolicited comments or insensitive conversations with my hypothetical fingers in my ears.

Recent events remind me that I need to pay attention.  For my children’s safety.   

I have never hated because of race.  But some people do.

I have never moved into a neighborhood and wondered, “is someone peering out the window with hatred in their heart because of what we look like?” But it happens every day to people who look just like my daughters.

I look at mixed-race families and smile—to me, they look like the family of God.  But to some people, my family is an abomination.

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My innocence to these facts might feel more comfortable, but it’s also ignorant to the reality of what some of our country actually looks like, thinks like, acts like.  This is a country where people who look like me literally wave flags of prejudice—and care more about our right to do so than the sense of oppression it makes our brothers and sisters feel.  I don’t understand the hatred.  I don’t have to live in fear of it, either (and I don’t plan to).  But I have to be aware of it.

Oh, how I want more for our children.

When pondering what happened in Charleston, all I could think of was the interconnectedness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (which is fantastic reading):

“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

…Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .’

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.

Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Lord, raise us up to be creative extremists in our churches, families, and communities.  Help us transform this stupid, messed up, full-of-potential world into a place that reflects Your love for all of us.

All About Riley

I realized the other day that Riley is almost 11 months old and hasn’t been the solo subject of a blog post since her birth story.  Oops!  I promise, she has had more accomplishments than being born!  It’s just hard to separate her news from Zoe’s news these days, since their lives are so intertwined.

That being said, here are a few Riley-specific updates. (Zoe will make her way into a few of these photos because, well, you’ll see.)

How big is Riley? SO BIG.

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As I type this, she is a week away from being 11 months.  She’s approximately 20 pounds and wears size 3 diapers, 12 month clothes, and 18 month PJs.  People always comment on her squeezable thighs and happy personality.  Many also comment on her hard-to-pin-down ethnicity.  Her skin tone is very similar to Zoe’s now, but her eye shape reflects some of the other aspects of her heritage.  She has a head full of curls, but her hair is finer than Zoe’s hair is.

She has one tooth.  It kind of makes my life.

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She is very affectionate.  Kisses, cuddles, skin-to-skin…she soaks it up, and returns it.

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She had a great run with sleeping through the night, but things change, and recently she has been waking up once during the night about 3x/week.  She has also started to fight her predictable 2x/day nap schedule.  I have learned in my 2.5 years of parenting that the only constant with kiddos is change, so I’m not too grumpy about it.  The Keurig Rivo espresso machine that I got for Mother’s Day mayyyyyy also contribute to my positive outlook (#bestgiftever) and if she gets too fussy, there’s always the option of sacrificing my body to let her get a good nap in.

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She started crawling at 7 months, waving at 8 months, and clapping at 10 months.  I may have made up the last fact because I haven’t written in her baby book since she was 8 months old and it all blurs together.  Anyway, she has no shortage of things to clap about, as her sister has several stage personas and two guitars.

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This is where I want to mention how special it is to have two girls who are close in age.  Riley adores her sister.

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They don’t get along all day every day, but when they do, it’s beautiful to watch.

In other developments, Riley is experimenting with walking (with assistance or a walker).

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She also loves to pull up on furniture.

IMG_4463IMG_4464“Did you miss me?!!”

Her favorite toys are a Melissa & Doug wooden stacker, the play kitchen (the doors OPEN AND CLOSE, GUYS!!!), and balls.  This is Riley’s demure face:

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This is her wild face:

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She says “mama” (mostly indiscriminately,) “hi da” on occasion when David gets home from work, and the occasional “buh” when someone leaves.  Like her sister at this age, her most consistent word is an excited “dohhh!” for our dog.  She loves to wave “hi” and “goodbye,” and (adorably!) will usually offer a goodbye hug!

She still isn’t a great puree eater, but loves her bottles.  Over the last month, I’ve tried to cut her afternoon bottle since her pediatrician told me to start weaning her, and girlfriend was NOT HAVING IT.  As of today, I’ve decided we’re back on the sauce, because I think she’s still hungry without that bottle and I can’t take any additional misery between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.

Her deepest and truest food love are the Plum Organics kale and apple teething wafers.  She squeals with excitement when you rustle the package.  Pavlov would be proud.

IMG_4446“Um, mom? I’m having a moment.  Please go away.” 

I would describe her overall temperament as fun, easygoing, independent, and loving.  I think the best description of Riley that I’ve heard is “she is the kind of baby that makes you want to have lots of babies.”  Unfortunately, someone says we’re done with babies (that someone is the smug looking guy in this photo, and Zoe, we’re in agreement).

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Since I have been told that this is my last baby, I’ll try to do a better job of documenting her life from now on :)

Riley is a fun, sweet, wonderful little blessing and we are so thankful for her presence and light in our lives!

A Reminder

A few nights ago, I walked out of my house with a dog and a heavy burden.  My day had begun with 4:45 am wake ups and ended with feelings of exhausted failure.  As my faithful dog and I plodded through the streets of my neighborhood, all I could think of was what I did wrong—what I could have done better—where I failed and where I didn’t do my best.

Then I looked at the beautiful clouds in front of me and realized: those thoughts are not from Him.

God doesn’t love me because I am a good parent.

He loves me because I am His.

In fact, God wouldn’t love me any less if I was a horrible parent.  Even if I was a deliberately neglectful or unashamedly self-centered parent, He would still love me the same.  His love for me is not based on my performance or goodness, but on His.

Parenting feels really important and IS really important, but it’s not all there is to me, and it’s not all up to me.  At the end of the day, He holds my kids and He holds me.  Nothing I do (good or bad) is as important as what He has already done.  And anything good I have done is Him, anyway.

The Holy Spirit is here to help me and encourage me, to coach and guide me and give me wisdom—not to burden me with shame and not to make me walk around with a pile of guilt weighing me down.

The Lord gives lightness.  Purpose.  Direction.  Wisdom.  Insight.  Energy.  Grace.  Love.  Rest.  Yes, He convicts—but always through the stream of those other things.  Anything else isn’t Him.

I just wanted to share these reminders with anyone who may need them.  And remind me too, ok?

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(image source)

Before and…Um, After?

I mentioned about a month ago that I had recently ordered some “powerful” undereye cream.  It was expensive and I usually don’t do expensive, but the haggard look was starting to get old.  I faithfully applied it twice per day and had hoped to post some really dramatic results, but let’s be real: I have two kids under two and a half.  Thus, here is my before:

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and here is my after:

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(Did things get worse?!! Don’t answer that.)

I will continue putting it on every morning and night, because it smells good and something on me should smell good.  But I might retire my hopes that a .5 mL bottle can overpower 46 pounds of 24/7 crazy…

The Waiting and the Harvest

Waiting for something is hard.  Every single day, you look to see if it’s time.IMG_4329But even if you’re ready, it doesn’t mean it’s time.  IMG_4332This is a lesson I’ve been teaching my daughter through gardening.  It’s a lesson I think she’ll be learning for a long time, if she’s anything like her mama.  When it looks like THAT, then it’s time.  Not before.  IMG_4333In the meantime, I tell her, we don’t just sit around.  We prepare. IMG_4337We put in the work.  We pray for God’s blessing.IMG_4338Then one day, it’s time.  And, bedhead and all, we are ready.  IMG_4362 IMG_4363 IMG_4364 IMG_4366 IMG_4367 IMG_4368 IMG_4369Waiting isn’t fun.  But harvest time is sweet.

On Love

I haven’t written anything about our failed adoption in a long time, and as much as I would like to say that my heart is all healed, it’s still something I think about often.  It’s so weird to me that the baby that was almost ours is now 15 months old.  I wonder if she looks like Zoe did at 15 months.  I wonder if she has Zoe’s spunk and zest for life, if she says as many words as Zoe did.  I wonder if she is being cared for in any minimally appropriate way.  I think about her, and I wonder, and I have no answers.

At the same time, I look at my second beautiful daughter—the one I wouldn’t trade for anything—and rejoice.  I rejoice and I marvel and I realize that I couldn’t possibly have the answers.  I only see a hands-breadth in front of me.

Trusting God to work purpose through my pain and entrusting God with someone I love are among the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Yet that is what we are called to do everyday as Christians and as parents and as life-livers.  The things we grasp tightest didn’t originate with us.  Loosening our hands and lifting them up with thanksgiving and trust is the only response that will free us to truly enjoy them.  You can’t own or earn grace.  You just live in it.

The same is true for answers.  You can’t own or earn them either.  Sometimes, you are given them, and sometimes you just live in the mystery—and that is still grace, although not always in ways you appreciate.

With that perspective, it feels trite to try to understand: “if it hadn’t been for Brianna, we would have never been in the adoption process and we would have never gotten Riley!” because really? If God wanted us to have them both, He would have made a way (thankfully for my sanity, He did not make this happen).  I’ve found that adoption makes you wonder what God really intends as plan A and plan B and I am increasingly hesitant to speak for God on these matters.

But what I do know is this: despite the pain, loving Zoe, Brianna, Riley, and their birthparents has been a gift and a privilege.

We are meeting Riley’s biological family this week for lunch and I am so excited to look into her birthparents’ eyes, give them warm hugs, and hear—really hear—how they are doing.  I am thrilled to show them how our child is growing and developing and how she claps to “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  I am nervous to see my parenting reflected through their eyes; I am hopeful they think we’re doing it well.  I am not new to this, so I know there will be some awkward moments and some lulls in the conversation where we don’t know what to say next. But I also know there is a gift of grace that binds us all together.

Glennon Dolyle Melton writes about her conversation with her young son after the death of his favorite fish:

“When he asked me, “why, mom? Why does God send us here where things hurt so much? Why does he make us love things that he knows we’re going to lose?” I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever; we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, realer.  Loving people and animals makes us stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways.  Even if people and animals leave, even if they die, they leave us better.  So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us and changes us.  And that’s what we’re here to do.”
–“On Fish and Heaven,” from Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts On Life Unarmed

I am thankful to have had the chance to love and to learn about love from these people.  It has made me stronger and weaker in the right ways and I am better for it.

Mother’s Day Thoughts

Every Mother’s Day weekend, I get a little weepy about the amazing blessing of being a mom. I’m beginning to realize that the hard work might not ever go away and that there might always be parts of my day as a mom that are mundane and duty-driven instead of fun, but still, my overwhelming feeling is that being a mom is a a get-to, not a have-to—and that being a mother is one of the most amazing journeys I’ve ever been on.

Here’s one example.

A few nights ago, Riley began wailing around 1 am.  I rolled over, looked at the time, and foggily prayed, “Holy Spirit, comfort her and help her go to sleep.”  Immediately, I felt a rush of energy and heard inside myself, get up.  She needs your comfort to fall asleep.  The voice reminded me that she had rejected her 6 pm bottle after eating a minimal dinner, and instructed me, She’s hungry.  Go feed her.  Then she’ll fall asleep. 

I made a bottle, walked into her room, and was greeted with delighted baby sounds as I picked her up, changed her diaper, and sat down to rock and feed her.  She guzzled the bottle, then lay in my arms as she cooed her baby words of thanks and gratitude.

I couldn’t put her right back to bed.  The moment was too sweet.

And as I sat there rocking her, I was struck with this realization: I had asked the Holy Spirit to put her to sleep, meaning do it for me so I can keep lying here.  I’m so tired.  

But the Holy Spirit wants something better for me then a good night’s sleep.

The Holy Spirit hears every prayer I pray.

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The prayers for my daughters to have a secure bond with us and for them to know how much they are loved.

The prayers for the ability to lay myself down and serve my children with humility, sacrificial love, and willingness.

The prayers for parenting wisdom.

For me to know how to meet and serve my husband’s needs.

For insight into my children’s needs.

For growth and maturity in my faith.

For the ability to find joy and purpose in even the mundane moments of life.

To help me submit to God’s plans for my moments, days, and life.

The Holy Spirit weaves all of these prayers together with the needs and prayers of others, and then gives me opportunities to live out what I asked for—to have that insight and wisdom, to sacrifice, to show love, to submit to God’s plan for my 1 am (and 5:40 am, and…)IMG_4404
I can choose to roll over and ignore the opportunity, making my prayers meaningless and my growth non-existent.  Or I can choose to embrace the opportunity, and be given abilities and insight and wisdom beyond my own.  (Not to mention that my actions can also be used in ways I don’t even understand by God! Who knows what He does on a cosmic level with my daughters’ sense of self when they realize “I call and someone answers,” “I don’t understand my own emotions but my mommy can help me,” or “I can be forgiven even when I had a morning full of bad choices.”) 

Gloria Furman writes that motherhood is full of “calls to worship,” adding “if we have ears to hear these invitations, then we have opportunities to worship the Lord, who is nearer to us than we often realize.”

I would add that the “calls to worship” of motherhood have opened my eyes to the inadequacy of self-sufficiency…and my ears to the One who says, “let me help you.”

Yes, motherhood is full of challenges.  But i do not want an easy life.

I want a meaningful life—a life of growth and adventure, passion and purpose, joy and peace, maturity and authenticity, love and humility.  These do not spring up overnight or through exclusive pursuit of my own self-interest; they are cultivated over time through joyful surrender to the processes and paths that the Lord desires for me.IMG_4406

C.S. Lewis writes, “We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the ‘intolerable compliment.’ Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be.

But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”  (The Problem of Pain)

Admittedly, as I was writing this post this afternoon, Riley woke up from her nap earlier than expected and I said in my nicest voice to her sweet nine-month-old face, “I guess you kids just don’t want me to have any hobbies or complete a thought ever again!!” As my embarrassing sarcasm reveals, it is so hard to surrender all the time (it’s even hard when you’re writing a blog post about why surrendering is ultimately good!)

But I put the laptop away and tickled her and played with her anyway.

Because I choose to respond to the call to worship.

Because that is the kind of person God is making me to be.

Because every “interruption” is actually part of the best get-to of my life.

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