Motherhood

Like a Child

Do Not Copy

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 9/52

I wrote the following piece on an old, lesser known blog of mine from a few years back, in October 2012. Thought I’d share it today in this space with a few small adjustments. As we begin another week that will surely be full of its own challenges, I pray a blessing over you, that you would discover again (or for the first time) how desperately and completely God loves you. 

~~~~

So incredible, the heart and mind of a child. I have four (now five), so I’ve had a closer look than most at the depth and complexity of each little person and the many things they ponder. I love when their eyes narrow and one cheek crinkles up to meet the furrowed brow when they ask their many questions. It’s a wonder to see curiosity abound with no limits; little sponges, but not the kitchen sink variety. They are the kind that has legs and seeks out adventure, seeks understanding, pays very close attention. Selectively. You know I had to throw that in.

It’s easy to get irritated by them. I mean, I forgot a long time ago what it’s like to see things for what the physical eye will notice, to consider things for what something looks like in honest light without jaded lenses between. I struggle to see what is really there instead of what I want to see, or not see, or what I feel in light of my emotional wounds and developed biases. I have also forgotten how to imagine and innovate with just what is in front of me, however simple it may be. I have forgotten that what it’s like to know just enough to propel the adventure forward and be content with that. My children know a whole lot more about contentedness than I do, even though I’ve been working on that for a good many years. What’s up with that?

They teach me so much about what it looks like to live by faith. They look to the only place they know to go for comfort, for sustenance, guidance, direction, understanding, and love. They look to their parents. Why am I slow to learn when I know exactly where to find those things? I think the Lord gave me four (five) children because I’m at least four times more dense than the average person regarding how to find the peace and comfort my soul seeks. If I could see myself like a child with a parent that offers me comfort, sustenance, guidance, direction, and understanding, my days would be a whole lot lighter. Some days I remember that God loves me and promises to journey with me through every hard thing, but a lot of days I spend fretting, forgetting what He says to me, and giving power away to the enemy who seeks to destroy, or at least, paralyze me from living in forward motion, from walking in faith. If he can keep me from moving forward, responding to God and doing ‘yes’ and ‘faithfulness’ even in the face of my great fears, he can keep me from so much of what God has for me. So here is to learning how to be like a little child, over and over again every day.

Beaming faces pile on top of me and shower kisses and gifts of scribbled treasure, fully trusting that I will feed them, clothe them, and love them without reservation. They are confident that I will care for them when they are sick and cuddle them when they are low. Does not our great Father promise to do all the same and immeasurably more when we go to Him?

Do Not Copy Do Not Copy Do Not Copy

——————————-

Update on goals for week 9:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 9 ~ 12.5 Run/Walk miles traveled, 95.5 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 9 ~ estimated 5,000 words completed, 33,000 cumulative in 2015

——————————-

“Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Isaiah 2:5 

636. park time with the fam,  637. huggabear hugs and baby’s first steps, 638. improvement on writing goal, 639. blissful sunday nap (with cuddles), 640. our awesome homeschool cooperative, 641. building rockets, 642. the one who tells me I’m the best mama in her life, 643. husband cleaning the kitchen (bonus points), 644. peace over big decisions, 645. sweet visit to a new church, 646. the mysterious love of God, 647. retracing a journey and the milestones in it, 648. new mercies daily, 649. sunrise walks, 650. the good and necessary pain of being humbled again and again

One

Do Not Copy

Frosting/sprinkle boogers are the best, especially on a one-year-old face. This little love has brought us exorbitant amounts of joy this year, which is fitting since “Joy” is her middle name. I made my first from-scratch cupcakes in honor of her birthday, which I have to say turned out rather well. I’ve always been intimidated by making cakes/cupcakes from scratch because somehow the pervasive marketing of cake-mix companies made me think that it couldn’t possibly be easy to make them without a box. Well, I’m glad to say, I’ve overcome that hurdle and not only was it a lot easier than I expected, it was more rewarding as well.

It makes me think about all the things we do a certain way because we don’t know any other way, or we think that doing a task another way must surely be too hard. We keep going the way we know, traveling in the ruts of the road on autopilot, wherever the road leads–without thought or intention to choose the path before us. We take the default, familiar way because we can’t imagine the wonderful that could be waiting around the untraveled bend. Sometimes the familiar way is the best way, but sometimes the familiar way is the way that keeps us from a rapturous adventure of discovery and beauty.

Whatever way you take today, let it be the one you choose, not the one you take because its just where the ruts direct you.

Do Not Copy Do Not Copy Do Not Copy

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 8/52 Taken in the same location this photo was captured just over one year ago.

 

——————————-

Update on goals for week 8:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 8 ~ 12 Run/Walk miles traveled, 83 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 8 ~ estimated 2,000 words completed, 28,000 cumulative in 2015

——————————-

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

626. one year old darling, 627. from scratch cupcakes and frosting, 628. goofy baby teeth, 629. visit from mama, 630. green lake walks with treasured friends, 631. sun sparkles on grass in the early morning, 632. new hairdo, 633. signs of springtime, 634. pantry cleanout, 635. little graces

Baby Lips and Miracles

Do Not Copy

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 7/52

Met this sweet little guy this weekend. I want to let his mama tell the story when she’s ready, but I will say, being present for his birth was a true gift for me. I have never been more amazed by the the miracle of life, the goodness of God, and the beauty of a mother giving her absolute all to bring her child into the world. Moms are heroes, y’all. Pain, prayer, struggle, and tears…and that’s just the beginning. I’ve had a number of babies myself, but its been a while since I’ve seen someone else give birth and I’m in awe. Wow-times-one-hundred.

Do Not Copy Do Not Copy

Check out those irresistible, perfect baby lips!

——————————-

Update on goals for week 7:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 7 ~ 6 Run/Walk miles traveled, 71 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 7 ~ estimated 3,000 words completed, 26,000 cumulative in 2015

——————————-

“In my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.” Psalm 18:6 NLT

616. new life, 617. a mother’s courage, 618. help with the kids, 619. a clean kitchen (not by my doing), 620. dance parties, 621. fancy french cookies, 622. naps, 623. monday morning workout to get back on track, 624. a surprise call from an old friend (love those), 625. clear skies

Teeth

For some reason, teeth are the topic of many conversations in our house these days. The boy in red lost another, making his  smile just that much sillier for the time being. I wish I could say I miss the tooth, but having it gone means I don’t have to do a double-take every time I see him with his tooth hanging out through closed lips. Ewww. I’m great with teeth when they’re securely rooted, but loose and lost teeth? Go see your dad, please. I’m not the mom that will help you pull ’em.

Do Not Copy

One sibling photo a week throughout the year. 5/52

Do Not Copy Do Not Copy Do Not Copy Do Not Copy Do Not Copy

The littlest miss has seen the eruption of four new teeth in the past few weeks, making her the champion drooler of the family. You probably can’t see them readily in the photo below, but we have two uppers and two lowers, and clearly, we’re happy about it.

Do Not Copy Do Not Copy

Lastly, we have this creative chick and her famed snaggle-tooth that isn’t ready to let go. The great thing is, snaggle-teeth go really well with crazy-hairs and giant personalities.

Do Not Copy

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

591. majesty of the known universe, 592. the compassion of a 6 year old, 593. bedtime stories made up by the kids, 594. connections made, 595. unexpected provision, 596. being ahead of the game on a few things, 597. the pleasant days between bouts of wet, 598. how little we know about everything, 599. light, 600. eyes full of wide wonder

Rain and Rocking

It is night. I sit, reclined with baby in arms, awake with my eyes closed. There is a slight give in the chair, and I bounce rhythmically to the sound of easygoing rain. Only glass between us, the sky-water patters near to the ears and the soul in the otherwise quiet house.

In and out of sleep, I consider how the wet and cold is not celebrated or desired, but is in every way, necessary.  There is no lush ground anywhere that has not been sustained and drawn up by rain come down, no green that does not find its origin in merciful provision from heaven.

Do Not Copy

The problem with rain is the mud and the muck and the cold and the overall discomfort that it brings. Who likes stinging drops against the face in the rain and wind?

I recognize am not called to live a comfortable life, but one that is fruitful and marked by faithfulness, which sounds a lot less glamorous than the comfortable alternative. I struggle to lay down my pride and take up a humility that is beyond me, and order my life in such a way that my garden is well-tended. Consistent, constant, faithful, committed, thorough, invested, loving, patient, grateful. Jesus Himself, said that He did not come to be served, to but serve and give His life as a ransom for many. I hold those words to my heart and hope they sink in where I can learn to be the same kind of person, no matter the weather.

Here we are, rocking in the night rain, and I smile. The sacrifices are great, but the reward of faithfulness is greater still. There is goodness wrapped in the simplicity of obedience to the Lord, wherever He directs our paths, even when that journey requires more of us than we feel prepare to give, which has been me at many turns in the road.

——————————-

Update on goals for week 5:

1) Run/walk at least 10 miles per week. Week 5 ~ 10.5 Run/Walk miles traveled, 55 cumulative in 2015
2) Write 10,000 words weekly. Week 5 ~ estimated 1,500 words completed, 18,500 cumulative in 2015

——————————-

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:2

 581. baby experiments: brushing one’s hair with a marker, 582. refreshing walk around the lake with my big girl, 583. big girl’s tenacity and schooling successes, 584. felt solar system project, 585. quiet hours, 586. fred-meyer finds, 587. the many ways God comforts, 588. wisdom found in tricky situations, 589. little boy’s prayers answered, 590. rhythms

The Joy

kid_silhouette

It is dark and early morning. Hush hangs gentle over the house, with sleeping sounds of five children and a husband deeply resting. Peace lives here, and I whisper thanks in my heart for the honor of living it.

The baby stirs in the next room, and I go to her, tenderly lifting her close so our cheeks might touch in a groggy silent hello before cradling her in my arms the way mothers do. She is warm and I remember how cold life once was, a lifetime ago it seems. I feel her weight in my arms and in my soul and squeeze just a bit to tell her so. Good morning, little one. She reminds me daily that this humble, simple life is one of joy, not just an endless list of mundane tasks to complete to keep the four walls standing.

Mothering is a joy. It is a trial, a heartache, a sacrifice, and a journey, but with the right spectacles on, I see how giving more of myself brings me more of the good stuff in life. It’s one of those odd, upside-down Jesus things that make little sense at first, and all the sense in the world when you’re in up to your ears, which I am.

For years, I have straddled the fence between control and surrender, but control quietly put itself in the closet about the time this fifth child showed up, and I breathe out the relief. Living with fists clenched tight is just not worth it. If we can stop and be honest, there is very little we control, and if we control anything, it should be our attitudes, our tempers, our thoughts. The rest of what we think we control is an illusion. We can influence. Direct. Decide. Do. There is freedom for all of that. But control? Control is not what we have, despite our best attempts to grasp it. It is what we grapple for. Naturally. We think if we write our stories our own way, we will be satisfied, but…

The joy is the surrender. It is the open hands. It is the walking faith with eyes on nothing else but the Word made man. The joy is receiving what He gives. It is the trusting and seeing how personally and intimately God loves us, and letting that love wrap around and grow and spill out. It is the yes we say, even when we have no idea how the yes can happen. It is the giving what we have and seeing it returned ten-fold.  It is the face of a child that every day reminds me that to surrender to God is to discover the life of joy.

————–

subscribe to this blog by email or leave a prayer request for me

————–

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrew 12:1-2

“We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5b

411. parenting victories, 412. help from God, 413. excitement over handmade halloween costumes, 414. productive meal prep for the freezer, 415. a quiet week, 416. kind words from my husband, 417. cuddles from big kids, 418. encouragement from my oldest, 419. seeds, 420. the tender heart

Five Years

http://solacearts.com

It is the early morning and I am strapped to a hospital bed with a terrible night’s sleep behind me and an adventure ahead. I hear from a nurse that a patient has arrived that delivered her baby in the car on the 405 freeway an hour ago and I say a prayer of thanks that it wasn’t me, while at the same time wishing that it was, because at least then I would be through the harrowing part of this journey. Twenty-four hours ago, I chose to induce labor four days past the promised arrival date for a variety of reasons. I wanted to control this one thing, to get through the storm and be on the other side of it, and yet, it is clear that I am not in control. Anxiety digs it’s claws in and I feel more desperate than ever to get done with this. I wait and imagine myself into labor, with no progress. Twelve hours of pitocin and no change. I am discouraged.

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

Everything about this pregnancy was a trauma to my soul. The day I found out I would be having another baby, I cried. It was not my plan. The timing was off and nothing made sense about having a baby during grad school years and our simplest, poorest days. I was blindsided by the two pink lines and the weight of what they would mean for us. In my heart, I wrestled with God, questioning what He must be thinking to bring us a child at this challenging time, because I had done everything I knew how to do to avoid it. It was not my first choice, but I responded with a yes in my heart. Yes, I would do this. Yes, I would lean hard into God for His provision and help, mostly because I had no other way to go. And yes, I would still wrestle the whole way to maintain some sense of control, until I realized (after the fact) that surrender was the whole point. I did not choose Him, but He chose me for this task.

http://solacearts.com

In the hospital, round with child and a heart that did not feel ready to accept God’s plans for me, I somehow found myself in the middle of God’s transformative work in my life anyway. I see it now as the kindness of God. He knew the plans He had for me, and was not about to let me alter them to fit my own will, even if it meant pushing me past my comfort zone. Ok, way past it.

He planned this boy for our family, and through his birth and five years of watching him grow, I am convinced that through the most uncomfortable season of my life, God was illuminating for me His desire to make the proud heart (mine) humble and to pour out gifts of immeasurable worth even though I have not deserved them.

My second son arrived on the scene after a wild 45 minutes of hard labor following a night of anxious nothing, and has continued to surprise and delight us every day since. What treasures are found when we accept what the Lord gives, even if it makes no sense at first. Happy Birthday, my son. I am so thankful for you, and for everything I have learned from you in your five beautiful years.

http://solacearts.com

subscribe to this blog by email or leave a prayer request for me

 ———————

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”  John 15:16

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders You have done, the things You planned for us. None can compare with You; were I to speak and tell of Your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5

———————–

371. my sweet beautiful birthday boy with the biggest heart, 372. highly sophisticated interlocking brick system creations, 373. a special daddy-made birthday breakfast, 374. discovering beauty in unexpected places, 375. reminders of faith milestones, 376. a household schedule that is working, 377. family meetings, 378. generosity of strangers, 379. promises fulfilled, 380. wholeness of heart

Night

It is the quiet of the night again. I savor the time. No one is touching me. No one is shrieking in my ears (with delight or distress). Save some dishes on the table from dinner, the house is right-side-up for a few serene hours. The quiet night allows me to let the day’s wind blow through my heart for a second time so that I might see with the soul’s eyes. I am grateful for many things, the most of which is the sweet truth that mercies come new with every morning. A fresh start each morning is a gift of grace for those in the trenches of the little years.

http://solacearts.com

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 31/52

I talked with my sweet grandma on the phone this evening and she said to me, “Dear, you just do so well with those kids. You seem to handle it a lot  better than I did when I was your age. I always felt like I was just surviving the days.”

Yes. I’m surviving them too. There is nothing easy about this motherhood gig. I fail at stuff all the time, bumble through rough patches, and feel the pang of my many inadequacies as a mother. I can start out my day, purposed to be cheerful, consistent, diligent….and then find myself squawking like a sick seagull at everyone by the end of breakfast. You don’t see photos of that because there’s nothing lovely about it.

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

So how about some lego pictures?

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

A few days ago, I happened upon a blog that other moms of littles might find helpful. I usually skip over parenting tips and take the ones I do read with a grain of salt because there is a lot of fluff out there, but this mother really inspired me. She has 9 kids and oodles of wisdom. One of my favorite entries was a practical list of ways to “reset” with kids when the hard days come ’round. Worthy of a read! I haven’t specifically tried all of her ideas, but I do have a small set of my own that have been working well lately.

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

This last photo puts a smile in my heart. Big brother’s satisfaction with a pile of sisters on top. And that dimple gets me every time.

——————————————————-

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16

“Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who home for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord, He is our help and shield.” Psalm 33:18-22

——————————————————-

subscribe to this blog by email or leave a prayer request for me

226. restoration, 227.promises fulfilled, 228. rhythms of home, 229. paper plate crafts, 230. sleeping baby, 231. the owed of simple stories, 232. the rewards of doing, not just thinking, 233. clean sheets, 234. air in, worries out, 235. uninterrupted sleep, 236. friends over, 237. fun new games, 238. meeting fitness goals, 239. dad conversations, 240. vacation plans

Wisdom Conversations

We started cracking the Bible before bed. A chapter in Proverbs each night, read aloud to my 4, 6, and 7 year olds. I start with a few verses at a time, reading word-for-word from my preferred translation, followed by a brief re-telling in kidspeak. The re-telling is my best attempt to make the ideas tangible and real to them…to take concepts that might otherwise seem beyond their understanding and share them in a way that might sink in. I bumble over explanations and search my mind for familiar analogies to connect the dots in their young minds. I worry that I might get it all wrong, and then a moment later decide that stumbling through together is better than not engaging the Bible at all.

The bread of life.  I want them to learn how to take it in, to explore and digest it. To examine it all over and dig deeper. For their ears to hear truth and recognize it in their hearts. What they choose to do with it from there is up to them…but I trust the seeds planted will produce a harvest in the proper time.

http://solacearts.com

I ask for questions and the hands shoot up with exuberance that surprises me. Every time. They have many questions. Insightful, challenging, honest questions. Questions about what a word means. Questions about wisdom…what it is, what it looks like, why we need it. Questions about choices and consequences. I fall over my words but try my best.

We talk about real life examples of wise and foolish choices. This practice has given us a much-needed springboard into a new season of their lives. Although young, they are inching toward independence (whether I like it or not), making increasingly more decisions for themselves that will require them to know how to determine if a choice is wise or not. This is one area in which I desperately do not want to fumble the ball.

http://solacearts.com

So we talk about it. About how sometimes we want to make the wise choice, but we fail to do it. How it takes God’s help to make wise choices, and how He will give us wisdom if we ask for it. How He loves us no matter what, even if we have been foolish, and how His love covers a multitude of sins. How wisdom helps lead us to joy when we choose it, and how foolishness can cause us to hurt ourselves or other people even if we never meant to.

I have to say, I really am surprised by the level of interest, curiosity, and understanding that has come back to me through this activity. I really need to learn to not underestimate my children.

*photos from a few months back I never had a chance to post

subscribe to this blog by email or leave a prayer request for me

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

136. new friends, 137. dinner out with a gift card, 138. exuberant waves from my oldest, 139. party planning, also with my oldest, 140. bouncy house, 141. discovering old photos I missed, 142. cuddle time, 143. smoothing out the kinks, 144. clean downstairs, 145. quiet to think, 146. washable markers, 147. forward progress, 148. health, 149. sunshine, 150. new journal

Wednesday Thoughts

http://solacearts.com

I would like to dedicate these delightful baby smiles to my friend Susie who started treatment for a rare form of cancer this week. I feel like I know-but-don’t-know how emotional a journey she and her family face with these developments. Sending many prayers for miraculous healing and sustaining grace in the meantime. I also thought the rest of y’all could use a dose of baby chubs to brighten your day. Little miss has been the easiest and sweetest baby ever…the biggest challenge with her is keeping those rolls sufficiently cleaned out, since they’re practically everywhere.

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

If you have ever wondered how it feels to be part of a big fun family, I encourage you to ask this little one about it. I think her smile says it all. Perfectly describes how I feel about being in this family. These kids are wonderful. And they also drive me bonkers.

http://solacearts.com

The couch-surfing hooligans below challenged me to a laundry race (which we will tackle tomorrow). They (together) get a load of laundry to fold and put away, and I (by myself) get a load to fold and put away. Whoever gets done first gets to be ‘the bosses for the day’. We had a trial run today (the stakes were different, but the challenge was the same) and it was a dead tie, so I’m a little nervous to see what tomorrow holds. If they end up being the ‘bosses for the day’ I’ll let you know how that goes.

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

This chica is turning 8 years old in less than a month, and I feel like I’m seeing her transform into beautiful butterfly. She has always been a delight, but I’ve also struggled with her personality at times and have not always appreciated her strengths. She’s looking so grown up, and is starting to act like it too, which is what startles me most. Like its the beginning of the end of my precious time at home with her. Which is silly because we’ve got 10 years to go (by conventional wisdom) but I feel so aware of how the time is whizzing by, as are my opportunities to fill up her childhood with happy memories. I think hard on what I can say and do at every moment to impress on her heart how much she is loved, so that one day when she does go, she’ll always have a soft voice in her heart reminding her. I read once that the way you speak to your children will become their inner voice in the future, and while I don’t know if that idea is solid through and through, it did give me pause and made me really stop to think about my tone of voice, choice of words, and making the most of every interaction. Of course instruction and correction is a big part of my job, but I’m learning that there are ways to do both with tenderness, and oddly enough, the tender way is often the more effective one.

http://solacearts.com http://solacearts.com

The poor and needy are seeking water when there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the wild olive; I will set the cypress in the desert, the plane [tree] and the pine [tree] together, That men may see and know and consider and understand together that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.” Isaiah 41:17-20

46. sticky toddler hands, 47. dinner meal success, 48. laundry races, 49. poetry, 50. a friend’s morning visit, 51. watercolor creation, 52. simplicity, 53. notecards, 54. the ability to freeze moments, 55. worn, loved Bible, 56. sunset shadows, 57. clearing out, 58. homeschool milestones, 59. planning ahead, 60. the heart’s dreams