A Letter To The New Mom…

Momma and baby 2

(This is a revision of a letter I recently wrote to a new mom.  I decided to post it as I am sure that there are many new moms that are feeling overwhelmed and may need this encouragement today.)

Dear New Mommy,

I remember those early days with three little boys, ages 3 and under. I tried so hard to put on a brave front, to be cheerful, patient with my boys, and hopeful, but I remember at times, I was screaming on the inside.

How could I meet all of their needs — when they needed me all at the same time?  They were too young to understand the need to be patient and to wait.

I didn’t know motherhood could be so incredibly difficult! I didn’t know it would bring me to the “end of myself” and would make me wonder if I would ever find myself again — whoever that might be.

BUT GOD…

God was not immune to my struggles…

Later, I asked God about those dark days. I asked Him with trembling and tearful words, “God, where were you when I felt so alone?” God answered me with this picture of me sitting in the rocking chair, holding my two babies (a time I remember very well when I felt so alone and overwhelmed). I was not sitting there alone though because what I didn’t realize at the time was that He was there, right there with me, and holding me. My little boys and I were cradled in His arms.

I asked God about this picture He was giving me: “Lord, I have a great imagination. How can I be sure this is You and not me?” God then brought these words to my mind, “As a mother comforts her children so I will comfort you.” I looked it up, and sure enough, there is a verse in the Bible that mentions this.

Isaiah 66:13: “As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you…”

These days are overwhelming, but as a mother who has been through a lot of the same struggles, may I tell, “You can survive.”  

Why?  Because you have courage, a heart of love for your kids, and you have a God who does see, care, and hear. He doesn’t ask you to walk this alone. His grace truly is grace for the moment…

Someday, you will look back on these days, and you will remember the lisping voices of your toddler, the toothless baby grins that melt your heart, and the inquisitive questions of a child that believes you know all the answers to the universe.  Someday, you will truly know that it was all worth it.  Yes, even the most soul-wrenching and physically-draining day was worth those moments when you had the privilege of being someone’s mother… to hold the heart of a child within the embrace of your arms.

Hugs, dear one…

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The “Mommy Martyr” Vs. The “Sisterhood”

Copy of IMG_1660The last few days, life as a mommy of five children with a newborn was difficult.  Yet into the emotional vortex and challenges of my life, some beautiful people transformed my days into something lovely.  Help from the sisterhood arrived!

Wednesday evening, I had spent time finishing the last of this week’s Bible studies on the life of David.   Beth Moore made some important observations in the studies.  She mentioned that God orchestrated events in David’s life so that he was dependent on others at times in his life.  Dependency was to reveal his need for others in the plan of life, to bring humility, and to bring compassion towards his fellow mankind.  Beth Moore indicated that God never intended us to live life as solitary units.  We are most importantly meant to live in the delightful fellowship of a relationship with God, based on His grace towards us.  We are then secondly created to learn to walk this life with the rest of humanity.  This walk can involve lots of trials and suffering, but it can also help to purify us, bring about a greater humility, and hopefully create a greater sense of compassion and awareness of our fellow mankind.

I was reminded of those lessons as this week unfolded.  This week had presented me with quite a few challenges, and I was quickly feeling “submerged” by life.  It was then that God began to bring the “sisterhood” into my life that revealed to me that I am not alone in this event called life.  It reminded me again that I don’t have to become the “Mommy Martyr”.

Sometimes, it seems like as women, we feel that we have to be invincible — a combination of hero, warrior, and martyr.  We feel that we have to do everything and be everything for everybody.  Anything less than perfection, we feel is not good enough.  We walk around with feelings of failure and as a result have simmering frustration which can then lead to anger towards ourselves and those closest to us (our children and spouses).  We transfer our unrealistic expectations upon our children and our spouses and then react when they don’t measure up to our standards of perfection.  Perhaps this lack of reality and truth stem from a false perspective of God and His dealings towards us.

Perhaps it’s a lack of recognition or personal awareness of how God is constantly working in big and little ways to reveal the immeasurable greatness of His love towards us!  Perhaps, it’s not understanding that God desires a personal relationship with us — a close and intimate friendship with Him.  He wants us to personally know His heart for us and His plan and purpose for our lives.  God wants us to discover that His love for us is not circumstantial, limited, or performance-based.  His love is based on His own nature — not reliant on ourselves or who we are or aren’t.  Our relationship with Him changes only as we change — as we move closer to Him or further from Him, based on our own tolerance of sin in our lives.

When we correctly understand the merciful nature of God and His great love for us, we are able to more readily accept His grace and forgiveness into our lives and then extend that to others.  We are also able to more readily accept love and grace from others as well.

As humans, we are created to depend on God and even others to fully live this life.  This is where the “sisterhood” is meant to exist and serve.

This week, I personally experienced how the “sisterhood” beautifully serves and assists and how dependent I am at times on them.  I had dear “sisters” who brought me meals twice this week.  I had a mother, sister, and father who helped pick up my kindergartner from school since I didn’t have a vehicle.  I had a cousin drive a few hours to spend a day, watching my kids so I could get a much-needed nap and then to help me grocery-shop and get some Christmas-gift shopping done.  She also made supper for us and brought toys to share with my kids.

I had a newborn baby who smiled at me!

I had a two-year-old daughter who sang a delightful song to her baby brother.

I had a “sister” who volunteered to drive me to a ladies’ Bible study.

Each of these actions encouraged my heart and helped me to be able to live life more fully — not just surviving but thriving under the care and nurture of love.

As “sisters”, let us not forget that even the smallest actions can encourage a heart.  We are needed!  We are not meant to live as solitary units nor are we meant to become “Mommy Martyrs” in order to live life.

Broken Honesty

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Crazy!  I know.  It’s 5:06 a.m., and here I sit blogging.  There was a lot on my mind, and my adrenaline was pumping so I figured, why not?  It’s been awhile.  So many changes and big things and little things have happened since I last wrote about my life.  So, here’s the long and short of it…

It all starts in February — well actually in January…  In February, my husband and I attended a conference.  At the conference, the Lord did a huge work in my life to bring needed-revival to my heart.  I felt more alive than I had in a very long time!

During that conference, I told my husband I had this odd feeling that we were going to get pregnant.  (Didn’t realize I already was at the time.)  Now, I knew the timing of everything, and I knew it would be even more of a miracle than pregnancy normally is.  So, I forgot about that… for awhile.

In February, we also celebrated a big birthday for me!  I’ll keep you guessing on what age that might be.  🙂  Definitely older than 21…!  I also had a large group of ladies for a visit to celebrate the special occasion.  The morning of the party, I took a pregnancy test because I knew that something was off…  With wonder, I gazed at the two lines that appeared in the window of the pregnancy test and realized that I was indeed pregnant!  And pregnant with my fifth!!!!

Among my conservative homeschooling buddies, a family of five is not big at all — might even be considered small.  But, among the rest of my friends and acquaintances…  five is a LOT!

The next four months would find me battling the fun of pregnancy woes and discomforts and all-out sickness.  Plus, during the entire month of April, my family battled a re-occurring bout of the stomach bug.  Someone or some of us were vomiting every week.  You talk about piles of laundry and disgusting bathroom messes!

Then in April, I was diagnosed with Subchorionic Hematoma.  I was put on a form of bed-rest.  I was not allowed to do laundry, grocery shopping, lifting anything considered heavy, vacuuming, cooking anything beyond simple meals, weeding, washing my floors, etc…  During that time, my husband also had to work crazy hours.  Did I mention he was also sent away on a business trip while I was on bed-rest and the kids were vomiting?  Crazy?!!! You betcha!

In the midst of all the craziness, God was still so good!!!!  My parents helped with transporting kids to and from school, my mom went on a field trip with my one son, a friend came and brought groceries and also cleaned my house, my precious husband came home late at night to do laundry and trash, and some friends brought meals over the next few weeks of bed-rest.  Talk about feeling loved and blessed!

By week 14, I finally got the all-clear sign to resume most of my normal activities.  I still had the hematoma, but it was half the original size.

A few weeks later, I am enjoying seeing my house resume a somewhat normal state.  I still struggle to keep up since the dirt piles up and in as fast as I sweep and carry it out.  My husband appreciates having me “back” again, and I am thankful to at least remove my responsibilities off his busy schedule.

Oh, yeah, and I am up now because my husband was never able to come home last night as he had so much work to do at the office he had to work through the night.  Oh, and did I mention that the lovely meal I made for dinner this weekend I forgot to put in the fridge last night after letting it cool down?  Ugh.  The stuff of life…

So, you might wonder why I am telling you all of this.  Why would I share all my dirty and depressing stuff with you?  After-all, you have your own dirty and depressing details at times.

I share this with you because, friends, I get it.  I know what it is like at times to see an ugly house, to be ugly, and to have ugly kids.  Because life sometimes does stink.  There, I admitted it.  I say this not to glory in the ugliness, but to admit and therefore begin the process of transformation.

You, see.  Sometimes, we are so busy pretending to be strong and perfect and beautiful that we really aren’t so muchWe put on the happy faces and say the “right” wordsWe urge others to do so.  We shy away from the ugly, uncomfortable, sinful, and suffering.  We surround ourselves with everything bright, beautiful, fragrant, pleasant, godly, “perfect.”

The question is, “Why is that?”

This is what struck me.  Do we shy from the broken people and things in life because we are so broken ourselves we can’t handle anyone else’s brokenness?

I think of Jesus.  He especially visited the broken people.  He sought out the sinful, the suffering, and the sad.  In fact, the perhaps surprising thing is they seemed to be His priority — not the religious and beautiful and elite. 

  1. Matthew 9:13

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mark 2:17

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 5:32

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
 
“Whole” people are able to deal with broken people.  Broken people may have friends that are broken, but they can’t handle much of the others’ brokenness.  Broken people want to share their brokenness, but they don’t want to share yours.
 
As Christians, this is where it gets really important to grasp it.  So often, in our churches, we find it awkward to deal with the drug-addicted individual, the affair-ridden marriage, the unwed teenage mother, the unruly children, the exhausted young mother who might need to vent that morning, the broken people.
 
In fact, how many of us have either heard or said to someone else that they need to just be a good testimony and not say anything negative?  How many times do people ask how you are doing but get that glazed look and quickly lose interest if you begin to share anything beyond the chipper “Fine or Great!”?
 
We put on our happy faces, but the fact is so many people are hurting.  I have friends whose parents are battling terminal cancer, who are going for tests because they too might have cancer, whose children are sickly, who are fighting sleep-deprivation with a newborn and screaming toddlers and who wonder if they will keep their sanity for the next few minutes.  You see, that is life.
 
Life is ugly and smelly and depressing at times.  It is full of sin and sadness and suffering.
 
And yes, thankfully, it is also full of beauty, grace, and light that filters in through those cracks of brokenness!
 
In order to see the beauty and light and to experience the grace, we must first recognize the ugliness and our own brokenness.  You see, we are broken.  You and I?  We are all broken!  We all struggle with the ugly.  So, why do we pretend to be so strong?  Why do we think we can just hold it all together and put on that pretty facade? 
 
The truth is our strength is limited, and it will let us down.  The truth is our kids, our spouses, our friends will let us down.  The truth is sickness and suffering will come.  The truth is most of us will face death eventually. 
 
But, friends, that isn’t the end!!!  That is what Jesus came to show.  He came to reveal to us our own brokenness so we could get “fixed.”  He came to show us our own blind darkness so we could see true light.  He came to show us the ugliness so we could find His beauty.
 
We are broken, but we can be healed!  When true healing occurs, we can then have something genuine to offer to all those other broken people.
 
Christians, of all people, should not shy from the ugly and broken because we should have something of true substance to offer!  We should have the Solution that goes beyond a temporary, outward transformation to an inner reformation.  Jesus came to not offer empty platitudes but to bring a total transformation, complete redemption!
 
Dear young mommies, it’s okay to acknowledge your weakness today.  It’s okay to have a good cry.  You don’t have to be strong.  You just need to look to Him Who is Strong!
 
Dear friends, whose parents are fighting terminal cancer, it’s okay to admit you are scared and worried and concerned and exhausted because you have a God who does care and who will comfort you!
 
Dear parents, who have no idea if your rebellious teenager will ever repent and turn to the Lord, it’s okay to be concerned and to cry buckets because your God does hear your heart’s cries!  And, He cares for your children even more than you do!
 
Dear expectant mom, who is extremely miserable and can’t wait for the new baby to be born, it is okay to admit you are tired and miserable and can’t wait to hold your new baby because your Heavenly Father can’t wait to see your joy too when you hold this new blessing from Him!  He knows, girls, and He cares.
 
Dear single, it’s okay to admit you are lonely because you have a God who promises to be a “husband” to those without.  He will love you like no other, and He never forsakes you.  No never!
 
To all of you fellow broken people, it is okay to admit that you are struggling, that your kids aren’t perfect, that some days are plain rough.  You have a God Who is big enough to handle any and all of life’s conundrums and to not just handle them but to transform them, to bring beauty from ashes and light to shine into the cracks of our brokenness!

Mommy Moment

Sunday evening, I had one of those “mommy moments.”  I was packing my husband’s lunch for the next day and happened to glance inside his lunch bag.  I erupted into laughter when I saw that I had packed a baby bottle of milk into his lunch bag.  I could only imagine what he would have thought if he had found it the next day.

Sweetness

Today as I was putting the boys down for naps, Will got this sweet look on his face and said, “You’re my best friend, Drew.  When I get new toys, I will give them to you.  Mommy, I love you.  You are my friend too.”  Wow!  Those are the moments that thrill every mom’s heart!  I am so glad to know that being a mom isn’t just about cleaning up messes, disciplining, and meeting needs.  It’s much more about “winning the heart of your child” and teaching your children to love their Heavenly Father…

This was a good reminder as I had to clean up crayon writing off my newly cleaned carpets, wash my son for the second time today, wash his bedding again, and deal with some disobedient boys!  Ah!  BUT, it only takes a few words from our children to make those other hours of challenges so worth it all!