Tag Archives: motherhood

White-Knuckle Motherhood (And How To Trade It For Something Beautiful)

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”*

At what point did I stop seeking? Asking? Knocking? At what point did I decide I needed to ride out the storm instead of cry out to the one who cares?

Last weekend, my 2-year-old daughter locked herself inside her bedroom. I had heard stories of this happening to other moms, confident this tragedy would never happen to me. I know how to open a locked door. My bobby pin skills are strong.

Only this time it didn’t work. The lock was jammed. The screaming half-breaths peppered with “mo-m-m-my” were enough to rip my heart out. But I made a decision not to join in the panic.

I resolved to stay calm for my daughter’s sake. To stay strong even when I wanted to crumble with empathy. This was the time she needed to know she was safe. Having a meltdown on both sides of the locked door would have leveled-up this experience from scary to traumatic for everyone.

It was probably less than 20 minutes. My husband worked at the doorknob. My neighbor, like a heavenly warrior disguised in her Saturday morning sweatpants, brought over a “key” thingy and words of courage. My fingers stayed pried beneath the crack of the door as a small effort of being present with my girl.

Finally, the doorknob clicked. Out rushed a sweaty, exhausted heap of tears, pink pajamas, and swirly blonde hair, into my arms for immediate calm. We snuggled on the couch, just quiet, together.

At last, I uttered a half-hearted, “Thank you, Lord,” and it hit me: I didn’t even think about praying. Through that whole fiasco, I didn’t cry out to God for help, or comfort, or peace, or wisdom.

Of course, He was with me, but I didn’t notice. His presence is more than a couple fingers under my emotionally closed-off door, but I didn’t care to reach for them. My resolve was to endure the storm.

Looking back, I have been this way for a few months now. Just get through it, I tell myself. Get through the packing, get through selling our house, get through the potty-training, get through winter, get through the tantrum years. Focus on surviving the storms.

Mark 4 tells the story of another storm:

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:37-41)

How long did the waves beat that little boat down before the disciples cried out to Jesus. I imagine their thinking “we can handle this on our own,” while Jesus rested, waited, unfazed by the storm. I can see their white-knuckles, gripping the boat, riding it out.

After all, logic tells us the storm will cease…

Locked doors will get open…

Stubborn toddlers will get potty-trained…

Bosses will reward hard work…

A friend will come along…

…Eventually.

Unfortunately, this expectation of eventually keeps us stuck in the determination to endure. Get through one more week, one more hour. It will all be fine in the end.

Or it won’t, but then at least it will be over.

What if we, like the disciples, grab a lightbulb moment of SYMOTA and remember that Jesus is Immanuel: God with us.

Not only was Jesus present through the storm with the disciples, he also had the power to calm it. More importantly, as our pastor reminded us last Sunday, Jesus cared about the disciples.

Without a doubt, Jesus always provides, even when we ignore his presence. And clearly, endurance has its place in the Christ-followers journey. However, these truths cannot substitute the beauty of embracing the presence of Jesus. 

He is with us and he cares.

This relationship with Jesus is so simple on our end: seek! And Jesus meets us with His beautiful, fulfilling, awe-inspiring presence.

At last, color is returning to my knuckles as I release the grip on survival and cling to Life Himself.

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Am I a Good Mom? Confessions of a Mama of Twin Toddlers

am I a good momI wake up with a jolt. My husband is already up and in the shower and I ignored my alarm again. With less than 2 hours till the twins wake up (let’s be honest, they are probably already awake), I need to capitalize on these morning moments.

I struggle to slow down enough to stretch tired muscles before checking off a brief cardio session. I mean 10 minutes, my friends. “Ten has got to be better than nothing, right?” I think. “Am I any good at this mom thing?”

Aware of my weakness, I get on my knees desperate for Gods power today.

  • Power to say no to temptation, to my insatiable appetite for control.
  • Courage to choose to be present.
  • Self-control to refuse food as my comfort.
  • Physical strength to carry my bruiser of a son without redefining the alignment of my skeleton.

I beg for God to be strong in my weak areas as a wife, mentor, sister, and friend.

Coffee percolates, and I rush through a hot shower, wearing my retainer for the first time in months. Will my kids need orthodontic work like I did, I wonder. Trying not to add up the worrisome financial numbers, I tell myself “lets just get through teething first.”

And realistically, “get though” is all we can do. Pacifiers are a dentists nightmare, but right now, they are a family’s sanity saver. Not sure if this is a move in the “good mom” direction or not, but today will not be the day we quit the pacis. But it will be a day we fire on all other cylinders.

With my self-applied pep-talk hitting the spot, I intend to start the twins’ day with physical and spiritual nourishment. Groggy kids wake up to a feast of potato and spinach omelettes, whole-grain toast, oranges and bananas… and bit of Bible reading at breakfast to sustain our souls for the day as well.

  I snap a pic of this ambitious venture. These days, my Instagram posts are much different from the polished journal entries and pretty Bible-next-to-coffee set up. However, I must admit, I get as much truth from the Rhyme Bible as I do a daily devotional by a favorite author.

I barely get my first bite of breakfast in, much less two words from our Bible story, and the kids are giving me the “all done” sign. Food flies as 2 toddlers wave their hands frantically, exclaiming their discontentment.

Abandoning my hot eggs, I scoop toddler A out of his chair, wipe banana slime from little pink fingers, and plop his tush in the living room for some quiet playtime. Repeat for toddler B.

Trying not to be exasperated by the untouched orange slices and unread storybook Bible, I wonder again, am I a good mom?

And the Holy Spirit whispers to my striving soul, “you are asking the wrong question, Becky.”

This great God, having bent low not only to save me through Jesus on the cross, but also to breathe life and liberation to my mothering in this moment… This sweet Savior invites me to ask a different question: “is God a good Father?”

I start seeing the events of the day though the lenses of this new question. Each failure of this day is a canvas on which God paints his grace. Each achievement is a snapshot of His provision.

No longer concerned with my own ability to be good, I start to I notice His goodness over the next few hours:

In a moment of sweet-hearted kindness, Evi finds her brother’s lost pacifier and races it to plug his fit-throwing lips. (This molar cutting business is high class drama).

Becalmed for the moment, Titus drags his feet to my side at the couch, to which I have migrated with my half-eaten breakfast. He proceeds to demand and munch down my leftovers, sprinkling crumbs across the carpet like a farmer sowing seeds. At least he does so with a smile.

“Good Father,” I pray, “help Titus grow up to be a man who scatters spiritual seeds of truth and grace and Your great love for all mankind.”

Titus not so subtly reminds me that, right now, he is stubborn limit-tester, who hoards crackers and sippy-cups in the bottom of the blanket bin. So I pray he has the same kind of tenacity hide Gods word in His heart someday.

We have a dance party. I show Evi how to feed her baby doll a bottle. She lines up all 4 of her dolls and feeds them one at a time. I give Titus a light-saber tutorial. The kids read books, throw fits, trip over invisible obstacles and cry because it hurts to fall down. I put down my phone I’ve been staring at for far too long and kiss the invisible bruises.

My daughter brings me her baby doll for wardrobe assistance. I cram in a bite of room temperature eggs and adjust the doll’s hat. Snatching her from my hands, Evi swoops the doll in for an affectionate squeeze and a knowing look back at me.

“You are a good mommy, Sweetie,” I whisper in her ear. And I realize that Jesus is saying the same thing to me.

I have spent almost an hour writing these short, rambling paragraphs, fitting in the dictation between sharing lessons and rescue missions from the black hole in our home called a toy box.

Amazingly, I have almost finished a whole cup of coffee too. If the rest of the day doesn’t prove it, that cup of coffee reminds me that God is a good, good Father.

Humility helped me choose to notice His goodness today, and record it here to celebrate it again tomorrow. I’ll need these sweet memories to muse over my cold eggs next week.

Campfire Check-In:

Do you ask yourself the “good mom”, “good wife”, “good _________” question? How do you see God’s goodness setting you free from impossible standards in your life?

The High School girls’ Bible study I am leading, #joiedevivrebiblestudy, is currently accepting the #solongselfiechallenge in effort to recognize and celebrate God’s goodness instead of our own. Follow me on Instagram for more information: @campfiregrace.

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Embracing the Unadventure of Motherhood

My Beloved Bighorns
My Beloved Bighorns

I have a deep affinity for hiking in the mountains. Something about the wildflower hills, spaced sporadically among thick walls of green trees, and a path with untidy growth happening all around my feet makes my heart sing.

I’ve lived my life as an adventure seeker. International travel, camping, road trips, big projects, building our own home–its just me. I approached motherhood with the same intentions. In fact, my motherhood journey began with applying for international adoption (which is on hold for now, but still growing steadily in our hearts). When we found out I was pregnant with twins, I thought to myself, “all the more to adventure with!” I wasn’t expecting to ease into anything. I’m a jump-in-the-deep-end kind of girl, and this seemed right up my alley.

In the middle of a hot summer week, my beautiful babies were born, and life became chaotic: blessed, beautiful, wild-flowers-in-a-field kind of crazy. But as a family, we weren’t exactly thriving in our newfound adventure. We had heaps of helpers coming in and out of the house each week, which was an immense load off our shoulders. But eventually, I knew I had to do it. I had to create some structure.

unadventureTo me, structure is like nails on a chalkboard. Take away my freedom, my spontaneity, my late nights of writing and long days of sharing the truth of Christ at one coffee date to the next… might as well take away my sense of adventure.

However, to ensure my children grow steadily and healthily, and to provide a smidgen of sanity for my husband and me, I bent over backwards to create an achievable schedule.

Other ladies might agree, that living a highly structured life can feel monotonous and repetitive:

  • Checking off the to do list.
  • Adding more things to the to-do list.
  • Thinking of a change-the-world-size idea, and forgetting to write it down.
  • Making time with Jesus, but getting distracted every time (I think I could be diagnosed with prAy-DHD).
  • Finding babysitters so we can work-out, grocery shop, have a date night, participate in a gospel-sharing opportunity.
  • Feeling guilty that our kids spend way too much time with babysitters.
  • Brainstorming how to streamline the efficiency of our homes.
  • Striving to be more available to our husbands, emotionally and physically, when we often feel drained and over-focused on the to-do list.
  • Wondering why we even get our babies and preschoolers dressed every day?
  • Planning meals.
  • Charting chores.
  • Maintaining the structure.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Finding time to use the bathroom after drinking so much water!
  • Mindlessly checking Facebook, for who-knows why.
  • Denying the desire to snack all day, but really wanting something to munch on.

(Anybody feel me here?!)

For me, nap time comes and I’m on the clock for a shower, laundry, clean up, maybe a little writing. Suddenly the low echoes of a groggy but awake baby approach my ears with subtle urgency. I try to squeeze in a little more time on whatever task I have set before me, at least to clean it up before round two. Within seconds however, I have two howling creatures trying to get my attention. Perhaps they mean to give me a sense of being in the mountains?

Bedtime comes, a choppy night sleep awaits, then it’s back to the same activities in the morning. Day after day, I face the “unadventure” of motherhood.

Lately though, Set Apart Motherhood, by Leslie Ludy, has given me a new perspective. In almost every chapter, Leslie gives practical advice and achievable examples for how to foster a greater sense of orderliness with small children.

This push for order was a turn-off for me, at first. I am not the OCD type that likes to have all my picture frames hanging in a perfect row. I appreciate the aesthetic beauty of things like a field of scattered daisies.

Ixiolirion tataricum
However, in my rant about the appeal of wild-flowers, God beckoned me to take a closer look. Did you know that all flowers have some sense of structure? They are designed so intricately and precisely. Two types of flowers, monocots and dicots, will always bloom with specific sets of petals. Monocots have multiples of 3 petals (like a lily), and dicots have multiples of 4 or 5 (like a rose). (Give your kids a fun science lesson here.)

Even the wild-flower fields of my beloved hiking days have a sense of order, structure, and design! It just takes a different perspective to see it.

Though I sometimes feel like I am living a very repetitive, unadventurous life, there is still wild-flower beauty in it. Like a blooming lily, God has created me with an intricate design that allows my body, mind, and soul to function well. And in His power, my mundane tasks have lasting purpose.

J.D. Greear says it well:

2015/01/img_4918.jpg

With Gods perspective, I am learning to embrace the “unadventure” and see this structured life as an opportunity to blossom!

  • A chance to smile at my kids at the same time, every day, and watch how their reaction develops over time.
  • A chance to prioritize the important things, like studying my Bible and giving the kids a bath. I can structure the useless uses of my time (like TV and facebook) right off the daily schedule.
  • A chance to cherish my partnership with Shane, in our family and ministry, by fostering better consistency in our time together at meals, in prayer, and on date nights.

I can aim to give glory to God in the highly-structured, or rather highly-designed days that I live. And therein lies a beautiful adventure to be discovered.

Do you appreciate or avoid structure in your life? How do you help your family to thrive?

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Pictures of Selfless Love for a (future) Mama, Part 2: Pregnancy

pregnancy

This week, God has led me to explore the pictures of God’s love through parenthood. Many of my friends will be celebrating Mother’s Day in a few weeks, which lends to me thinking more and more about the idea. I am not a parent yet, but the Holy Spirit is definitely rearranging my perspective of having children.

In the last post, I explained my view of adoption as the most beautiful picture of God’s unconditional love. Recently, the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to another, equally beautiful, reflection of God’s perfect relationship offered to us: pregnancy.

So here it is…. Pictures of Selfless Love for a (future) Mama, Part 2: Pregnancy 

As usual, the transformation of my mind came through God’s Word. In bed with a sore throat, I spent some time with my podcast app in effort to engage my spirit and mind, though my body was out of commission (it was an epic sore throat, ok). I listened to this sermon on Philippians 2, from Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love,   if any fellowship with the Spirit,   if any affection and mercy,     fulfill my joy by thinking the same way,   having the same love,   sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.  Do nothing out of rivalry   or conceit,   but in humility   consider others as more important   than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests,  but also for the interests of others.  Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God  as something to be used for His own advantage.  Instead He emptied Himself  by assuming the form of a slave,  taking on the likeness of men.  And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross.  For this reason God highly exalted Him  and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow   — of those who are in heaven   and on earth and under the earth   — and every tongue   should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory   of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 HCSB)

Keller explained that many of us do not actually love or serve others out of selfless motives. He theorized that most of us love others as a means to meet our own needs: the need for love in return, the need for relationship, the need to be needed. As Keller puts it, God is calling us to love from a place of having already been satisfied, as Christ did.

God–Father, Son and Spirit–did not create man out of a need for relationship. As a complete trinity, the Three had already experienced perfect satisfaction in their friendship… before the beginning of time! Thus, God’s willingness to create was an overflow of His love and relationship from within.

His satisfaction inspired creation! God created that He might share that perfection of love and friendship with more beings: angels, humanity, etc. His love is not just displayed in redemption of creation (adoption) but the creation of humanity for relationship in the first place (conception).

Keller’s point, of course, was that we should be so completely satisfied in our relationship with the Lord (as Jesus was), that our “considering others greater than ourselves” is an outpour from satisfaction, not a pursuit to fill a need.

But God works in funny ways. What Keller meant for general Christian charity, the Holy Spirit meant for a dramatic shaping of my perspective of pregnancy and childbirth. The Holy Spirit used this message to show how creation of another human being is not always rooted in selfish motives (as was my fear). How incredible is God’s Word!

I am now grasping the depth of these pictures of God’s love for us. His first act of love was creation in the first place! He conceived humanity as the fruit of perfect connection and relationship within the trinity. God was so pregnant with love, so expectant to sharing that relationship with others, that He created! What a picture of love. What a picture of God and relationship.

His second act of love was redemption. The overwhelming longing to bring in the lost and broken children of the world, He sacrificed everything to adopt us.

Both creation and redemption are equally beautiful and both equally necessary for relationship.

Both conception and adoption are equally beautiful pictures of that relationship we have with Christ.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, I am starting to get this whole “having a baby” thing. All my misgivings, doubts, and frustration with the idea vanish in light of the sweet selflessness of God to both create and redeem me.

Again, this is not a pregnancy announcement (I’ll be way more creative when that time comes). This is just me, being transparent with what God is doing in my life, in hopes to encourage you.

By God’s grace and undeserved blessings, we will get to experience both pictures of unconditional love as parents: through the overflow of love that inspires creation of a new being, and the overflow of love that inspires adoption and redemption of a lost one.

I’ll keep you posted on the journey till then.

What do you think about pregnancy and adoption? Have a different perspective? Please share!

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Pictures of Selfless Love for a (future) Mama: My journey to celebrating both pregnancy and adoption.

adoption

 

I think I might be finally getting this whole “home-made” kid thing. “Home-made” meaning, having a baby (vs. adoption).

It has been a long journey of confusion, fear, selfishness, doubt, excitement, and waiting… of course the waiting. And no-this is not a pregnancy announcement. I simply wish to be transparent with how God is shaping my heart and mind for His glory. (Sorry if I got your hopes up; not just yet.)

So here it is: Pictures of Selfless Love for a (future) Mama, Part 1: Adoption.

God has blessed me with a heavy heart for the orphan. I have longed to be a part of adoption for a very long time. I still look forward to the day God leads Shane and I to step in that direction.

I have always seen adoption as an exceptional picture of God’s unconditional love for humanity. The Bible refers to adoption several times as an example of how God invites us into His family (Galatians 4, Ephesians 1, Romans 8).

I am overwhelmed with the thought: that God would take in this dirty, homeless child and make me His daughter. Washing me clean of all the stains of broken relationship, He made me His own; giving me full inheritance to His kingdom, He invited me to take part in the family business. Complete and whole, I have been given a new name in Christ, declared worthy and accepted.

I can’t wait to offer that to a child someday! I pray that the day Shane and I adopt a child will be celebrated as a divine picture of God’s love.

But…. there is another picture of love that I have been ignoring. Love is not just displayed in adoption, but also in creation.

I will admit something here: I have been turned off to pregnancy and having a “baby of my own” for a long time. My disposition to this miraculous process has various roots:

First, my own sinful rebellion. Always wanting to “take the path less traveled,” I saw having a “home-made baby” as following the crowd. It sounds ridiculous (it is), and I know that this reason is not God-honoring. I confess my inclination to deviate from the “norm” (even a God-honoring norm) is sinful and fleshly.

I also experience a plethora of fears in this area. God has used many wonderful mothers (who make a lot of graceful mistakes) to help me trust God instead of give in to fear. This blog post, from Women Living Well, was particularly helpful.

After repenting from my prideful attitude and my fear, I realized I still felt hung up on the idea. Almost every argument in the favor of having a baby still sounded so selfish to me:

“Don’t you want to have kids that look like you?”

“Don’t you want to feel what its like to be pregnant?”

“Don’t you want to raise kids with your traits and talents?”

“Having your own children is better than adoption, because you have control from the beginning how they are raised.”

Again, God has blessed me with an overwhelmed heart for adoption. I see the need of a thousand children all over the world who aren’t privileged with parents who believed (or could fulfill) the above comments.

In the face of such a need, each question sounded very self-serving. All about me: what I see, feel, experience, or have an easier time with. After repenting from my original prideful reason for preferring adoption over pregnancy, I wanted to steer far away from the idea of pregnancy again, just to avoid a new motive of pride and selfishness.

I came “to terms” with the idea of having a baby, knowing it would be glorifying to how God made my body, and honoring to my husband, who wouldn’t mind have babies with me (what an amazing guy!).

But I was still wrestling with the perspective of all those precious babies already waiting for a home. Sure, God says that children are a blessing; but that includes HIS babies, orphaned out there somewhere, waiting for someone to be the tangible display of our Father’s selfless love.

My intentions are not to belittle anyone’s desire to have a baby. I love my friends and family (and my parents) for having that desire! I am simply trying to be brave by communicating my journey in this area. It has been a difficult road to be open about my misgivings and doubts about pregnancy vs. adoption, without sensing negative criticism from others.

Also, I do not mean to lessen the importance of womanhood or “be fruitful and multiply.” For whatever reason, my perspective has just been in favor of adoption.

Till now…

…Stay tuned for my conclusion on having a “home-made” baby…

*Does anyone else LOVE the photograph above? Head over to the blog, Adding a Burden,  to read about her beautiful story of adoption.

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