Dear Mother,

 

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Thank you for bearing me in your body for 9 months, enduring the discomforts and challenges that a growing baby placed on you. Thank you for your delight at my rolls, punches, and kicks within, for your kind words to me and prayers for me as you awaited the day of my birth. And when that day came with all the anticipation, pain, difficulty and joy, thank you for giving yourself and experiencing it all to bring me into this world.

Thank you for holding me in your arms when I was born, holding me close, loving me; for kisses on my cheeks, belly and feet; for those sleepless nights that followed as I tried to figure out this whole daytime-nighttime thing. And thank you for the many, many nights that followed that, when either because of hunger, teething, or the need to be close, you woke up to minister to my needs when I cried.

Thank you, sweet Mama.

Thank you for the awful, messy diapers and diaper rashes you cleaned and tended to; for brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, and fixing it so pretty; for wiping my runny nose; for bandaging my wounds; for prayers when I was sick.

Thank you for waking up too early for the amount of sleep you had to put breakfast in my belly; for the many, many meals you prepared, and served, and cleaned up after, when there was no one around to help. Thank you for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Toasted. For bowls of oatmeal with the brown sugar and milk sitting on top.

Thank you for bringing me into bed with you when I awoke with a bad dream, for calming my childish fears. Thank you for keeping us home to school, and for staying home yourself. Thank you for that stability, for always being there–even when it may have felt nice to you to be very far away. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you for the patience you had for me, to let me help you in the kitchen, to let me help with the babies, to learn.

Thank you for bedtime prayers.

Thank you for being my mama, sweet Mother; for all those little things that are a part of the special love and sacrifice of motherhood, special bond of child to parent and vice versa, and for which I never thanked you.

I am thankful for you, and for all the decisions that at the time may have seemed so unfair but were made out of protection, love, and wisdom, if not sometimes for the sake of your own sanity, which is very important too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you, Mom, for this and so much more, done for me and all your others–your loads and loads of others. Speaking of loads–laundry! How could I forget the laundry? Thank you for the hours upon hours you spent making sure we had clothes upon our backs, if not always socks upon our feet, but only for the notorious sock bag. ๐Ÿ™‚

I love you so much, sweet lady. Thank you for being my mother.

Your daughter with much love,

Lauren

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In the Trenches of Marriage and Motherhood

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ETA: DISCLAIMER: Nathan read and approved this post, but even so, since writing it I have been unsettled that it may negatively reflect on him or put our marriage in a more hostile light than it in fact is. I originally titled it “In the Trenches of Motherhood” and wrote it accordingly, but then considered that this may reach some who are not mothers but whose struggles were different and changed it to “reach” a broader audience.

There. I feel so much better now. ๐Ÿ™‚

It may seem extreme to use battle terminology in the context of marriage and motherhood…unless you’re a wife and mother. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There are days, and weeks, and dare I confess? months that go by where this whole calling seems like one great big battleground that I am woefully inequipped to fight on.

Oh, I have wounded, for sure–have plunged with a great battlecry and with sword wailing into the thick of it–have laid my blows and received them, too, but without victory.

And why?

Because the enemy has not been identified, much less injured, by this indiscriminate skirmishing.

If I could see through the smoke of my own perceived defenses across the field at this enemy, that causes so much damage and disrupts the peace of the home, what would be found? What would this enemy look like?

Would it be my “trouble” child?

My “whiney” child?

Would it be an image of bickering, disobedience, or my messy house?

Would it be my husband or his decisions?

My circumstances?

Would it, could it possibly be this man, this home, this family that the Lord Himself has given me?

No, no, no, and a thousand times NO.

They may be the ones I have battled with, but they are not the enemy, which is why the engagement always seems so fruitless.

What would I see if I could be given a glimpse of the foe?

My own spirit.

That hasty, proud, selfish, unquiet, unmeek part of me that gets offended, irritated, and vexed when things are not going according to my order.

I’m sure that satan gets involved too, but my self-absorption makes his job very easy.

He doesn’t really need to get into the fray because I do a good job all on my own of opposing the offenders when my autonomy is threatened.

Don’t get me wrong, children need to learn obedience and to get along with each other, to respect and to help their parents and one another.

Husbands should love, honour, and cherish their wives (as wives should love, honour, and obey their husbands)

But you know? When they are not doing these ย things they do not become the enemy.

They are simply losing the fight against their own enemy: their own spirit, their own self-will.

We are given by the Lord Himself to our children as mothers, to aid them in this battle, to our husbands as a help, to pray for and support them in the same, as they also are given to us for headship, protection, and help.

Too often, ย I have lost this focus, have spent all my energies in trying to correct exteriors and frustration that it never stays correct, rather than remembering that my children are very unskilled in this whole self-denial thing that I myself am far from perfect in as well.

So we come back again to grace. To give as we have been given.

We are in these trenches together, they and I, you and I. We’re on the same side, y’all!

The best part of all? The Lord God is in here with us, and thanks be to Him “Which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Oh! It is not just a hope, a sure confidence of things to come, it is a present grace! He gives it, gives it now–today!–this moment.

The love of the Lord to invite us to this!

“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

Here is victory.

 

 

“This, Too, Shall Pass”

Probably every American mother has heard it. It’s supposed to be an encouragement when the duties and sometimes frenzies of having children (particularly small children) can overwhelm the Lone Mother. Lately though, that thought has been an encouragement in a whole new and different kind of way, really the opposite of how it is traditionally intended. I think of those words sometimes at the end of a hard day, where my conscience smites me at the lack of grace or wisdom in mothering. But it does not come in the form of relief, but of reproof: “This, too, shall pass.”

They’re only little for so long. My baby won’t always cry 3 times in the middle of the night to be nursed, but neither will he always snuggle right up beside me for the comfort and nourishment that nursing brings. My daughter won’t always melt into a puddle of tears over my saying I can’t hold her because I have to make dinner, but on that day it won’t mean as much to her to do so, either, and that special little thing will be changed. My 3 year old won’t always get overly excitable negatively, but neither will he always entertain us with his silly dance when he’s particularly excited positively! I could go on and on. There’s no way to hold onto the wondrous, heart-filling moments that slip by every day right alongside the hard ones. “This, too, shall pass.”

Nothing can stop a child from growing, but what am I growing my children with?

Allow me to say, too, We take far too much for granted. I am chief in this trespass. We have no assurance of our lives. The very word of God tells us not to boast of even tomorrow for that we know not what a day may bring forth. Our life is but a vapour that appeareth for a very little while and then vanisheth away.

Yes, this too shall pass, this vapour. And then what will be left? What memories? What lessons learned? What legacy? You would think that I would have taken this greater to heart, or at least that there would be more evidence that it has been! who have had close enough calls at 3 separate births. The pride of life is so innate in us, and it is a curse.

We must look to the Lord for wisdom every day, many times a day, to fulfill the work He has given us, for as long as He’s given us to do it.

May He find us so doing: find us asking, seeking; find us spilled out for His glory in the lives that we touch; find us abiding in the Vine, bearing fruit for Him; find us thankful for the sweet moments and faithful in the hard; find us working for His infinite honour and eternal Kingdom here on earth; find us joyful and find us broken, knowing that

this, too, shall pass.

Washing His Feet

Woman washing Jesus' feetMinistry is such a noble, beautiful thing. I love the account of that woman whose name is withheld, Peter’s mother-in-law, who after being healed by the Lord Jesus “arose and ministered unto them”. It was given her to minister unto Christ Himself! Then there’s the woman who washed His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with oil. Have you ever wished you could wash the feet of our precious Saviour? There is the account of Mary and Martha, one who listened and one who served; have you ever longed for the grace to do both?

Before marriage my family was involved in ministry, and it was an honour to try and reach people for the Lord or save babies from death, in His name. After marriage these things continued for a while, but when baby came after baby it became much more impractical for me to join in on any of these ventures.

I suppose because I had been thinking of “ministry” as doing those services it became easy to forget that being a wife and mother itself is a ministry. Oh, I’ve said it before, and it’s been said to me, but it’s easy to lose the delight of truly recognizing it for what it is in the day-to-day sameness. Ministry just isn’t always as exciting as seeing a person who has never really heard the truth, delivering the gospel to them, and seeing them mull it over; it isn’t always as exhilarating as being a vessel the Lord used to turn the hearts of a father and mother toward their child; it also doesn’t always break your heart and compel you to earnest prayer with weeping like it does when you see someone reject the gospel or choose death over life, and so it sometimes can be easy to stagnate, to lose sight that your ministry truly is a ministry, because it isn’t always “new” or “something different”.

Sometimes it’s working with the same people every day, nearly every moment of every day, loving, leading, and training. Sometimes it’s scratching your husband’s back when you “should have” given birth a week ago and could use a serious back rub yourself. Sometimes it’s washing his feet at the end of a long day when you haven’t had a chance to shower in 3. Sometimes it’s giving your child a glass of water when you’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down after being on your feet the last 5+ hours. But it’s ministry.ย  Not just service to your family, but serving the Lord.

Truly the homemaker has one of the most joyous and fulfilling vocations if only it is kept in perspective! which is indeed so very hard. To think that we as wives can in a sense wash the feet of Jesus, by our doing so to him who was chosen to represent him in the home, or as mothers by doing so to “the least of these”, is a very great honour.

And now, I must go, for I need to go minister to my son who just had another accident that he needs cleaning up from. ๐Ÿ™‚

ETA: In no way am I trying to minimize the importance of evangelism and baby-saving! And having been involved in those I know that that ministry as well isn’t always “exciting”, “exhilarating”, or even “heart breaking”; there are many battles to fight spiritually and inwardly with those as well. My post may have been poorly worded in that regard!

A Tale of Two Mountains

Many of us have heard the expression of “mountain top” and “valley” experiences. The past month or two, or three, have been mountain top ones, alright. Like volcanoes, with many eruptions! Eruptions between siblings, eruptions in training pants, eruptions from Momma because of eruptions between siblings and eruptions in training pants; eruptions of rebellion, eruptions of wrath because of eruptions of rebellion; eruptions at nap-time, eruptions from Momma the rest of the day because of the eruptions at nap time spanning all of nap-time, meaning no nap-time, meaning tired, eruptive Momma.

There have been lots of apologies, lots of repenting, lots of hugs, and lots of prayer about it. In spite it kept going on and on, day after day. It has been awful. Then by the marvellous grace of God it’s like I was placed from one mount to another, where from its heights His promise is seen and a valuable lesson has been learned. It has since occurred to me that the biggest reason for being on that mount was not that the children were being impossible, not because of their rebellion, fights, and insomnia, it was that I was being a Mount Saint Helens myself! minus the saint part.

The wife and mother has a great power for good or evil in the home. There isn’t just less stress now because I’m not causing as much in reaction to the children, the children are not causing as much, either.

Joy is so important! Joy in our calling. Joy is our calling. My husband deserves better than to come home to fighting, disobedient children and a thin-strung wife. My children deserve, they need the example of kindness and grace shown to them throughout the day. Any member of the family can cause a raucous, can alter the general peace of the home, but as the keeper of the home it is my job to manage it. I can’t expect my children to be perfect when I’m not either or that discipline will work it all out when I’m not disciplining myself. Grace. So thankful for God’s grace!

Knowing the answer is ultimately that alone, here are some things I’ve learned in the past week that have helped manage the stress in our home (after I stopped being the biggest contributor):

 

  • A softย  answer really does turn away wrath!
  • Lots of hugs, lots of I love you’s throughout the day
  • Silliness goes a long way with a silly child!
  • Discipline with love
  • Dance with your toddler (and your preschooler too, if he wants)
  • Listen to them
  • Read to them
  • Gaze upon their precious faces
  • Listen to their endearing exchanges
  • Let your children work with you
  • Express your thankfulness for each child to each child

As I’ve been a Mount Saint Helens to my family I desire to be a Mount Pisgah to them. I’ve used my influence for stress here, and I want for ever to be done with that. When my children look to me I don’t want them to see a volcano that just needs a little provoking to boil over, I want them to see the promise and goodness of our God, to be encouraged to obedience through grace.

 

 

Motherhood is for Quitters

I’m so, so glad that wifehood and motherhood are for ever occupations. The Lord’s design is always so perfect.

Anybody that knows me well enough, knows that I’m pretty much a quitter.ย  Started teaching myself how to play the piano about 10 years ago, but progress was slow and it wasn’t clicking, so, I quit. Since being married I’ve “brainstormed” a number of ways to try to help bring in an income. Making and selling soap was such a passionate idea for me, but after getting all the supplies together and making a few batches, I got the blues about working with poison in a house full of children, so, I quit. Then I thought of selling crochet items on Etsy or Ebay, but in looking for inspiration on Pinterest and Etsy for what sells, everyone else’s things looked so much more pretty than anything I could ever dream up, so I pretty much quit on that idea, but tried selling a couple hats on Ebay and when they didn’t sell I quit for sure. I love to write, but could never earn an income that way, because my mental faculties are so weak that it takes me a long time just to formulate a nice little page (anyone that knows me can attest to my stammering ways, too!) so that idea died in its cradle, as well.

And to be perfectly honest with you, there have been times as a mother that I literally cried out in exhaustion, utter stress, and at-the-end-of-my-ropedness, “I QUIT!” But I know that I can’t, and that’s where the grace of God has come in to grow me where I haven’t let Him teach some of the same lessons in other areas. I’ve always quit before ever really trying, because the learning part and the slow improvements are so very ill-savoured to this rather impatient woman, and not being anywhere near as good as someone else in the same field just injured my pride.

He knew I needed to learn true submission, true service, so He made me a wife.ย  He knew I needed to learn patience, so He made me a mother. I can’t quit my vocation as a mother because I’m not as good as some other mother out there, but am forced to grow. And Oh! it is a painful process! It’s just so much slower than I’d like! I want to be perfect now! to be the meekest little thing now, without all this trial stuff.

There have been so many times I’ve just wept and wondered why it is that I changed so much after getting married and becoming a mother, how it is I could have turned from a relatively quiet young lady to the too-easily-frustrated woman I have too often been, but the answer is that all that ugly stuff has always been there but I was never tested enough to bring it out. But now that it’s out, now that the humbling has occurred, and I see how very, very destitute of virtue I am without Him, His grace and love come in to wash me out and snip out the bad parts. It is so hard, but it is so good. The Lord really is SO good. He always knows just what we need.

And just to clarify, I don’t want to quit my job. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mothers, Wives, Handmaidens–the Beauty of Servanthood

When I was a little girl I always thought it would be so romantic to be a servant, to serve faithfully and joyfully even when your master is cruel and mean. Even more romantic was the story of a girl who lived as a servant but was truly of noble blood. (The Little Princess was my favourite story ever!) I thought it would be so beautiful (and easy, because it’s so romantic) to just do what you’re told even when you don’t feel like it, to do the yucky jobs, work hard with little rest, and receive no appreciation. I may have even prayed that I would be a servant someday.ย  If I did, that prayer was sure answered! But for some reason it’s not as romantic as I always thought it would be, or at least not as easy.

Every wife is a handmaid, a servant, and every mother is as well.ย  I always wanted a house full of babies and children, and now I’m getting a pretty good start at it, and LOVE it, but, it’s hard.ย  It is hard. I don’t even have a mean and cruel master (in fact I even like him. A lot!)Plus I get pretty good rest, and a lot of appreciation. But it’s still hard. It’s hard when you don’t belong to yourself, when you can’t even use the bathroom without your 3 yr. old sticking his foot in the toilet while you’re away, when you can’t leave for a moment while they eat lunch because it might mean water in the jelly jar. It’s hard to wake up every 2-3 hours to feed a baby that’s way too (adorably) chunky to possibly need it anyway. It’s hard to be the presiding referee over dozens of squabbles a day, to discern who’s the liar, to clean up after the many *kinds* of messes 4 young children can produce, and be doing laundry or making supper when you’d rather just have some “me” time. It’s hard.

And yet, it really is beautiful, too. Not in that idealistic way my young mind used to ponder, where the little maid was only so happy to be such a martyr, but in such a greater way. Because, in truth, we are serving not only our husbands, not only our children, but the King of kings Himself! and that is beautiful. We are His daughters, yes, with all the privileges that come with it, but we are His handmaidens, too, with all the duties that go along with that.

Being a gift to your husband, and being one of the greatest influences in a child’s life and using it to direct them to the Lord Jesus, is a beautiful vocation. Why, that’s even lovelier than a princess servant scrubbing dirty stone floors for an abusive mistress!

And now, I must go, for my youngest is awake, there’s laundry to do, and bathrooms to clean (especially the children’s! remember that thing about “yucky jobs”? Yes, that is…one of those.)