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Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

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I don’t have a bucket list and I never make New Year’s resolutions. While my intrepid husband conquers mountains, launches himself from the safe confines of an airplane, or explores the waters in which bull sharks thrive; I curl up contentedly on the sofa with the dog at my feet and a book in my hand–Jane Austen…Mary Higgins Clark…Jodi Picoult. Do you know how much adventure exists between the pages of Jane Eyre?

 I’m a middle-class mom shuttling middle-school kids in an SUV with French fries wedged between the console and the passenger seat. One child sits in the far reaches of the vehicle and the other perches next me—constantly switching the channel on the radio. The boy yells in response to something the girl said, “Knock it off, drama queen! My day was worse than yours!” Angrily, my daughter cranks the volume and the thrum, thrum, thrum of Lady Gaga’s voice fills the space. I sigh, fondly recalling the days when my children were non-verbal and easily soothed with a blankie or thumb.

There are dishes in the sink and our house is well lived-in. Scuffs along the baseboards bear the marks of superhero figures engaged in battle and the baskets on top of the refrigerator—meant to be a statement piece—hold a collection of stuffed animals the retriever borrows from my sweet girl’s room. With a scouring pad foaming in my hand, I take out my frustration on the glob of green toothpaste smeared on the counter and question whether I will ever be able to keep up with the demands of being a wife and mother.

Then one evening David the Intrepid asks, “How was your day?”

“Mediocre,” I respond. “I worked all day, helped the kids with homework, threw dinner together, tossed in a load of whites…nothing special. It was just—ordinary.”

“Sorry to hear that,” he says.

After a good night’s sleep and time spent in prayer, I looked my husband in the eye to tell him the truth.

“I wouldn’t change it.”

“Change what?”

“I wouldn’t change anything. I always wanted to be a wife and mother and if that means there are times of monotony, I don’t mind. Not everything is sunshine and romance, but I want to be the one packing ham and cheese sandwiches and searching the Internet for answers to 7th grade science questions. (By the way, does anyone remember what the endoplasmic reticulum does?) If that were missing? I would have missed out on the fullness of living a life for the people I love most.”

I don’t spearhead a huge ministry, inspire thousands with words of wisdom, or impress others with my flashy career. I just do my best to love people…to share an encouraging smile…offer a prayer for a hurting friend—and fully live as beautifully ordinary.

Scripture for Reflection—Living Life Fully

 I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10 MSG)

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4 NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a
baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of
two people existing only for each other. 
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I thought I understood love–it’s complexity, depth, and vulnerability.  Then I had children and all of my preconceived notions about love were shattered.  Blossoming in their place like a seedling receiving its first drops of water, a pure, true love sprang up.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

It was a love strong enough to urge a sleep-deprived mother out of bed during the black hours of the night to comfort a colicky infant; a love tender enough to encourage a mother to stay for endless hours in the NICU singing softly to the baby struggling to for every breath; and a love dedicated enough to stretch and exercise her son’s twisted feet despite his cries of pain.

I thought I understood love–then I had a Savior.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

His was a love merciful enough to offer forgiveness to a lost and lonely child; a love tender enough to be a Father when she was without hers; and a love sacrificial enough to give his life in her stead.

Parenting is the closest I’ve come to experiencing the sort of love He has for us.  Real love.

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I’m awakened by the sound of my daughter’s voice, “I want French Toast, mama.”

Through sleep-dimmed eyes, I notice she stands next to the bed–a peace-offering in her hands and a wide grin on her freckled face.  “I’ve brought your coffee.” Reluctantly, I leave the warmth of the bed.

Less than gracious, I stumble down the stairs and assemble the ingredients.  Milk…eggs…bread…cinnamon.  I wish I were still sleeping. “Is someone grumpy?” she asks. “Yes,” I respond honestly.  But, I smile as she wraps tiny arms around my waist and I’m reminded of how different life would be without her.

This one small act may be more important than so many others.

Work?  Someone else could fill my shoes.

Sleep?  It’s guaranteed twelve hours from now.

This moment?  Fleeting.

My family?  An eternal investment.

I feel my attitude change and I ask, “Three or four pieces?”

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a little girl I imagined my name was Tamara–so much more elegant and interesting than plain Tammy.  I wanted to do amazing things…serve in the Peace Corps…write a bestseller…perform on Broadway.  Even now–mid-way through life and buried beneath loads of laundry and books about childrearing–I have dreams of being applauded as I belt out tunes to Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera.  In reality,  I’m yelling through the door at my teenaged son who chose not to go to school because the traffic jam was too difficult to navigate.

I’m tired nearly all of the time and always seem to have crumbs on the kitchen floor.  My closets are only organized once or twice each year and the kids rarely wear matching socks.  Where do they all go? 

My husband and I watch movies in installments because we fall asleep.  The towel rack in the bathroom has fallen off–again. And, we’re happy.

Our home isn’t quiet–how could it be with three boys and a feisty little girl?  The children argue, have tantrums, and lose their homework.  Dave and I feel overwhelmed most of the time.

God may not have given me a stage on which to perform.  I haven’t travelled to third world countries to hold impoverished babies.  Instead, my challenges, joys, sorrows, and delights are directed by and immersed in this messy life of motherhood, marriage, and moments of worshipping the God who provided it all.

Joy can’t be found in the what-if’– it’s in those moments that make up living.  I think I like being plain Tammy.

Verse for Reflection:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy SpiritRomans 15:13

Recommended Reading

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The child clambers upon my bed,

“Wake up, wake up sleepyhead.”

I squeeze my eyes tight 

still wanting to rest.

But tiny arms wrap about my legs

 and in the child’s grasp

my weary thoughts are replaced.

I take on her smile as she throws her head back to laugh.  

 I can tell today will be a good one.

 

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine.”

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My two younger children lay snuggled next to me in bed–feverish, sniffling, coughing, and talking in their sleep all through the night while the sounds of my teenager’s favorite music drifted upstairs through the vent system. Boom! Boom! Boom! Hack! Hack! Hack!  Sleep sometimes comes in spurts even when you’ve made it through the baby-stage.  Sigh…

Usually patient, I have to admit I became a bit of a “grumpy pants” as the day wore on.  Does anyone know why sick children have a sudden burst of energy  mid-day while their mother sits slack-jawed on the sofa, eyes glazed over,  coffee stains decorating her old college sweatshirt?  At one point Heather put her hands on my face and said solemnly, “I want my other mommy back.”  Her concern turned to confusion when I erupted in laughter.  Gathering Heather close, I apologized and moved on in a much better frame of mind.

Can you relate, friend?  Maybe YOU’RE the “grumpy pants” today.  Maybe you’ve grown weary.  Maybe you just need a reminder that God remains patient at all times–despite the up’s and down’s; regardless of fickle moods.  We may not have all the answers, but we have a God who does.

Verse for Reflection

1 Timothy 1:16

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life

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10. You would rather sleep than go out for a relaxing dinner with your husband.

9. Previously a fashion statement, scarves now camouflage everything from leaking breasts to baby spit up.

8. Eating something from the baby’s high chair tray qualifies as your lunch.

7. You wear slippers in the kitchen because you don’t have time to sweep the crumbs on the floor.

6. Your water bill doubles. Who knew a baby could create so much laundry?

5. You cry more than the baby does when she has her shots.

4. People you’ve never met will offer their parenting advice. “Oh, she has a flat head. You’re letting her sleep on her back too much.”

3. When friends visit, they have to request an instruction booklet to access the baby-proofed toilet–which, remarkably, only takes your baby a few minutes to figure out.

2. Now you understand how much your parents love you.

1. You’ve just met a miracle–and realize nothing this beautiful could happen without a loving God.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=e70q3p4DTjk#t=32s

 

10. You automatically answer phone calls with the words,  “I expected to hear from you half an hour ago.”

9.   You can wrap a sprained ankle better than an athletic trainer.

8.  The nurses know your son so well that they ask to sign his cast.

7.  You purchase a security system to prevent “breakout’s”–not “break-in’s”.

6.  Other kids visit your home so often that you’ve considered charging general admission.

5.  You’ve learned to interpret grunts as a positive conversational response.

4.  Before sports season begins, you buy stock in Stick-ups and foot powder.

3.  You now know that spinning cookies in an abandoned parking lot is illegal.

2.  High school secretaries are known to contact parents when a “friend” calls to excuse the young man from class.

and the #1 sign that you’re the mother of a teenage boy….

1.  When you watch him nod off doing homework, you’re torn between tears of joy and sadness because the little boy has disappeared.

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“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands.  Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God.  Be a person in whom they can have faith.  When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.” 
―    Lisa Wingate

I may be wrong, but it seems most mothers I know struggle in this area.  The demands of family life are limitless.  How can we make time to care for ourselves spiritually, emotionally, or physically when it’s difficult to make it to the restroom a couple of times each day?  Isn’t our husband more important?  What about the kids?

As scripture says, “Consider others better than yourselves.”  Yes, we need to love our husband and children more than we love ourselves.  A wife and mother has an amazing privilege and responsibility to nurture, grow, and serve her family faithfully.  At the same time, we will be ill-equipped to love abundantly and sacrificially if our basic needs remain unmet.

I’m not suggesting a shirking of responsibility, but instead a proper approach and balance toward life and those people God has entrusted to our care.  In the words of Matthew 6:33, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When God remains in his rightful position as Lord of our lives, we rely on someone with unlimited strength and wisdom.  He equips us to meet the challenges of parenting head-on, filled with far more than our limited abilities.  As Paul reminds us, ”

Then he [God] told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”  It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size…I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So, then…what is the most important lesson I’ve learned about love because of parenting?  To love God more.  I need to be full of Christ and the only way I can do that is make him the priority in my life.  Then–and only then–I will have the ability to truly love my children as they need to be loved.

Like Paul, I want to say..let Christ take over!

Action Steps

  • Make time each day to set aside your weakness and pick up his strength.  How?  Begin by scheduling an appointment with Him each day to pray and read the Bible.
  • Pray specifically for your husband and children.
  • Take a break once in a while.  Try to spend 15 minutes each day doing something you enjoy–reading, taking a bath, talking with a friend–and you’ll be better equipped to serve your family with a cheerful heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What tigress is there that does not purr over her young ones, and fawn upon them in tenderness? —Saint Augustine

Trying desperately to hide the I-have-a-colicky-baby circles beneath my eyes, I applied the third layer of Cover Girl magic.  Not bad for three hours of sleep.  Moving to our full-length mirror, I turned first one direction and then another.  Suck it in, girl!  Inhaling, I tried to hide the remainder of my baby bump.  Oh, well.  At least we’re getting out.

After the 5-minute transfer of baby, car seat, blankets and diaper bag to the car, Dave and I grinned at each other.  Date night!  We hadn’t enjoyed “couple time” for a few months–the result of first time parents living thousands of miles from trusted grandmothers.  It took some charm and convincing on Dave’s part, but I had agreed to leave our 4-month old in the capable hands of childcare workers on the base for a couple of hours.

A little pizza joint was parked conveniently within minutes of the Navy gate and we ventured inside– giddy to have alone time together.  Sliding into the red, plastic booth I began the conversation.  “Do you think Ben is alright?”  I was consumed by baby thoughts–on this long-awaited date.  Ugh!

Twenty minutes later, the waitress stopped by our table.  But instead of delivering pizza, she delivered a message.  “The daycare lady is on the phone.”

“I got it,” Dave reassured me as he walked over to the business phone.

“We’ve got to get Ben,”  he said when he returned to me and my empty glass of soda–which had sucked down in my nervousness.  “He won’t stop crying.”

Tucking a box of uneaten pizza beneath an arm, Dave and I rushed the few miles to NAS Pensacola only to discover the gate was closed.  Dave teased, “I guess we’ll get him in the morning.”  I didn’t pick up on the joke–instead, it fed my fear.  Frantic that my helpless baby and I were separated by barbed wire, I decided nothing and nobody who would keep me from my baby!  A fifteen-foot fence?  An armed officer standing duty?  Not a chance.

Shoving the car door open, I sprinted to the fence and–in all of my post-baby glory–scurried to the top of that metal barrier like a commando on a night raid.

“Tammy!  Tammy!”  Dave’s voice just penetrated my world.  “I’m kidding, hon.  There’s another gate.”

A few minutes later we pulled up to the daycare center.  I had transformed from Navy-seal-wannabe to packing-a-few-extra-pounds-new-mommy.  It can happen.

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