Answers: Are those all yours?

The short answer I give is… “yep” with a smile.


The long answer I want to give is…

Not really. I mean, I carried and birthed all four of them. I am the legal guardian of all four of them. I am responsible for all four of them.

But they aren’t mine, and I try not to think of them as such.

They are complete individuals with body, soul, and spirit. They are God’s children, His people. He put them in our family to train into adulthood.

But they aren’t mine.

Thoughts and words are powerful. They are the seeds of feelings and behaviors, both conscious and not. They can uplift, encourage, glorify, and exalt. They can also sow discontentment, resentment, and discouragement.

Thinking that my children are mine, I believe, has the potential to give me the illusion of control. But I am not in control of them or their futures. It’s true, I set the schedule and habits and expectations for our family. But, ultimately, God is in control of their lives, not me. When we buy into that illusion of control, it typically ends in resentment and disappointment and despair when our expectations and hopes are not met.

That’s why I don’t like calling them mine.

But that’s an awfully long conversation for Aisle 5 in Walmart over a half-full cart with a stranger, you know?

Be a Rock Mover

“Put your shoes on. We are going outside now.”

“You push the stroller, and I’ll push the wheelbarrow.”

“Mama! Wait for me. Don’t go so fast.”

“Okay, kids. I need you to look for rocks about this size, but they can be any shape. When you find one, put it in the wheelbarrow. I’ll help you. We will work together. I want to fill this wheelbarrow with rocks this size.”

“The wheelbarrow is half-full! We are doing well. Good job. Thank you for helping me.”

It was about this time that Sprout looked up at me, dirt on her face and hands, and asked, “Mama, why are we putting these rocks in that wheelbarrow?”

Ah, the faith of a child. The faith of a little rock mover doing what appeared to be a meaningless task without question, without hesitation.

“Well, we need to load them in here to take them elsewhere because they are small, but heavy. It would take many trips if we carried them in our arms.”

“Oh. Okay.”

We continued loading, filling the barrow about halfway. It was as heavy as I could manage at that point, especially as we had to travel slightly uphill to our destination.

“No, children. We are going this way. Follow me, please.”

We arrived at the spot where my new flower beds would be.

“Okay, here’s what we are going to do. I’ll lay out some larger rocks every so often to make the shape I want, and you two can fill in with the smaller ones. Place them as close and tightly together as you are able. Do not worry about the size of each rock or fitting them together perfectly. I will come back and fill any gaps that you accidentally leave.”

We began laying the rock border for my new flower bed.

“Mama, why are we putting these rocks here in the grass?” she said with a confused look.

More faith. A little rock mover tasked to lay out the rocks. She did so without hesitation in precisely the manner I had described. She stopped, wondering what the purpose of this job was — not questioning the job itself, just desiring a deeper understanding of the puzzle of this work.

“We are making me a couple of flower beds. I want the rocks to go around the edge like in that space over there. Eventually, we will add mulch. Without the rocks, the mulch would spill out all over the grass, and the edge would not be neat. With the rocks, Daddy can spray to kill the grass and make a neat edge.”

“Oh. Why do the rocks need to be so close together?” she asked as she carefully laid another.

“So that the mulch won’t slip through any large cracks.”

The faith of my little rock mover shined that day.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV)

Be a rock mover. Have faith.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:8 (NIV)

Yes, ask your questions. Ask with the faith you have. Seek and knock for answers that strengthen your faith. But do not hesitate to step through the door, make the call, answer the pressing in your heart, do the impossible, perform the task.

Be a rock mover of great faith.

Sprouts Turns One!

The past year has been a roller coaster of experiences. I’ve cried tears of both joy and frustration. I’ve marveled at this little child’s innocence and then at her sinful nature of defiance. God has blessed me beyond measure by allowing me to mother this sweet, giggly little girl.

And in the past year, I have learned so much about Him through parenting her.

I’ve learned about mercy and grace and love and discipline and thankfulness and joy.

I’ve learned about prayer. I pray for her soul, that she will grow to know and follow Jesus Christ. I pray for her mind, that she will learn to obey and grow to be self-disciplined. I pray for her body, that she will sleep well, eat well, be healthy, and grow in strength. I pray for her purity in a world that revels in sin. I pray for her future, that she will know the love of a husband in a Christ-centered marriage and will someday also know the pure joy of motherhood.

And then I think of this (John 3:16):

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

My love for her, though great, is dwarfed.

And then, I pray she will know His love for her.

Because there is none greater.

The Kiss That Melted a Mama’s Heart

The Background

hair and bows and books

hair and bows and books

Since the holiday traveling ended, Sprout has had some sleep issues. I can’t pinpoint a single specific cause, there is just so much going on right now. I think it is a combination of teething, natural sleep regression, and separation anxiety possibly spurred by our travels. Whatever the cause, she has been up more during the night over the last few weeks than she ever was as a newborn.

I have been attempting to balance patience while instilling new sleep training with mercy in getting through genuine teething pain and discomfort. I’ve felt guilty, at times, of being too harsh with her. And then other nights, I feel like I have done her a disservice by letting the training take a back seat. I have cried tears of frustration and anxiety, wondering if I’m doing the right thing or just making everything worse.

But you know, sleeplessness will do that to you.

The Redemptive Story

fingers that hold

fingers that hold Mama’s heart

This morning, after a night of fewer, but still many, wakings, I brought Sprout to our bed with me. I knew she would not go back to sleep, but I just needed to close my eyes a few more minutes. [I should say here that she was safe, could not fall off the bed. Also, I’ve never been able to sleep with her in bed with me, so I did not fear that I would inadvertently doze off and leave her “unattended” on the bed.]

She babbled and rolled from me to the wall, and back again. She laughed and chewed her pacifier. Then she grew quiet, and I felt her scoot towards my head. She was close enough for me to smell her sweet milky breath.

Then, she blessed her mama with the gentlest kiss in all the world. I opened my eyes just in time to see her smile softly. And then she rolled back toward the wall, mumbling about “bad-oh” again.

My eyes filled with tears as my heart puddled in my chest. I stroked her soft hair and kissed her forehead before she had the chance to scoot away. And I thanked God for her right then.

God’s Love in One, Sweet Kiss

This little kiss means more to me than that darling girl could ever know (at least until she has her own little darling, perhaps). In one swift moment, I was reminded of so much.

Every minute spent rocking the teething pain away is a deposit in her love-bank. Every hour I don’t sleep is an investment in her. Every step back to her room to return a thrown pacifier or enforce training is a step of love. Every lullaby-hymn at 2 AM is sung right into her soul, laying a foundation for her to someday know the sacrifice and love and mercy and grace wrapped up in the Cross.

Now, I am wondering… how many minutes has God spent soothing my pain? How many hours has He invested in my life? How many steps has He taken to enforce discipline in my life, with love and mercy and grace? How many reminders has He given me of His ultimate sacrifice and what that means for my future beyond this earthly existence?

I cannot count them.

room to learn, explore, and grow

room to learn, explore, and grow

And now I pray that God’s mercy and grace and love would flow through me to her. I pray that God would give me strength and diligence to thrive in what is only the beginning of Parenthood.

I pray with a bursting heart of thanksgiving, adoration, and awe for this little life.

In This Chair

Chair

this chair

In this chair, I rock;
My sweet baby I see.
Eyebrows, ear lobes, toes that wiggle;
A frown, a smile, and a giggle.

In this chair, I nurse;
Day, and nighttime, too.
She roots and pats and even whines;
For the comfort that I provide.

In this chair, I weep;
Such tears I’d never known.
Tired, weary, and petrified;
Yet even these things pass with time.

In this chair, I pray:
God, keep this little one.
Protect her slumber, day and night;
Reveal to her Your shining Light.

In this chair, I love;
How much? Words cannot say.
What precious moments that we share;
I rock my baby in this chair.