Sunday, May 10, 2015

Remembering "Those Days" That Make Us Mom


Crying, instead of her alarm, woke her up this morning. After two days at home caring for a sick child and new baby, it was apparent that today would be day three. The park playdate would have to be cancelled that morning. What she wouldn't give for some social interaction! Instead, it would be day three of "mommy, I need you" with no time for herself or to even touch the disaster that was her house. Slowly she brought herself upright with feet on the floor and desperately said under her breath, "God, help me today."

We can all relate to the scenario above, even if the details are different.
On Mother's Day, we take time to get "photo ready", our kids dress up, they give us gifts that they picked or made, maybe there will be a card or flowers from a spouse or friend. We go to brunch, smile, take pictures, and talk about the best moments.
But it isn't those precious moments that bring us through each year to a new Mother's Day as loved ones celebrate the mom we are--the mom we have become.
So to the mom with the sick kids, the mom getting daily phone calls from school, the mom with a child with a disability, the mom fighting depression, the mom struggling with rage, the mom suffering chronic pain, the mom facing fertility treatments, the mom who feels alone, you are not alone and I believe Mother's Day is a day that we remember the struggle that has transformed us from woman to mother.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)
In God's hands, he will redeem those days and nights of motherhood that seem endless, the apologies given after we yelled at the kids, the pain of learning unconditional love after a child rejects us, the daily unseen care for the child who has so many more needs than his peers, the loneliness of parenting alone. God redeems what could have been meaningless pain into the ingredients he will use to make us the people and moms he has created us to be, moms filled with freedom, love, joy, hope, and boldness.
We can have hope, even in the struggles of motherhood when we ask for help because His "Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Romans 8:26)
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
If you are in a season of precious moments, enjoy it wholeheartedly, being fully present and thankful for the time of refreshment and joy!
But for those in a season of struggle or pain, God sees you and will sustain you, if you let Him. And when you look back, instead of seeing a series of bad days or weeks, you will see milestone moments when you came through the struggle with greater strength and grace to become more of the mom and person you were destined by God to be.
This Mother's Day is for you, remember the unforgettable moments that make you MOM!

Monday, May 4, 2015

30: A New Chapter


I had thought about May 3, 2015 since I was a kid, knowing that it was the date I would turn 30. It seemed so far away, and now it's here. I wondered what I would be like, what I would feel, where I would be...
My original plan for crossing the 30th birthday milestone was Las Vegas and Britney Spears, naturally.
But with family circumstances like toddlers and pregnancies, that idea was crossed off the list.
To be honest, I pouted a little bit.
What does all the above have in common? Me, me, me, me.

God has been working in my heart and my life in a major way this year. Some of that work has been bringing areas of weakness to light.
I'll just be really honest, I have been prideful, judgmental, closed off, unavailable, distant, and self-obsessed.
So this year, I felt it on my heart to not be self-focused on my birthday. To give my gifts away, to put others first, to remember and celebrate what God has done these past 30 years.
It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. There were several things that came up disrupting the limited plans we had made as a couple/family and I felt indignation rise up until I remembered this year's commitment.
The major thing I did was make a Lifemap. (I was given the instructions at a breakout session at the Bayside Women's Conference given by Dr. Judy Ten Elshof from Biola University's Talbot School of Theology.) For the past few weeks I wrote every major life event, significant person, and circumstance onto post-its and arranged them into chapters of life. The negative events were given a different color, yellow. Today I went through the phases of ministry revealed, lessons learned, life values exhibited, and wrote a mission statement.
It is amazing to see the way God shapes and crafts our lives through experiences, setbacks, pain, and the influence of others. I was told to pay attention to pain because that's usually where a transition to something new takes place. Ironically, it was mostly the yellow post-its that jumped out to me, that had the most poignant lessons and, in retrospect, I am most grateful for.
Thank you Jesus for closing doors, for teaching me love and compassion through pain, for brutal truth, for empathy through experience, for painful experiences with others that taught me that only YOU can sustain and save me and that expectations should be replaced by grace.
And thank you to the people and friends who were truth tellers in my life, even if it was just one small conversation. If you don't have people that love you enough to tell you the truth about yourself, find them.
While the first 30 years of my life were about me, I want the rest of my life to be about God and loving others.
Life is too short and becomes meaningless the more we make it about ourselves.