Grace for the Super Mom

I had just given birth to my fourth child. The baby fog was thick, so the fact that we had made it to gymnastic class on time was a small miracle.

I kissed my girl goodbye, waited for her wave at the door, and off I went to the grocery store. I was feeling pretty super that day.

As I pulled out of the gym parking lot, I noticed there weren’t as many cars as there usually were. I shrugged my shoulders, assuming the other families must be on vacation or something.

I strolled happily through the store with my three boys. This was my first trip “back” and I was feeling quite capable. I eyed the mother next to me eyeing the bananas. She looked frazzled, bless her heart. And she just had one with her. I looked at my three peaceful boys. Yep, I was feeling super.

Half-way down the cereal aisle, my weeks old baby began to scream. For no reason. He simply became hysterical. Before leaving the house I’d made sure he was fed and dry so hadn’t planned on encountering a hysterical baby. My Moby Wrap was inconveniently stowed away in the car, so I carried him in one arm, pulling the cart with the other. But that was no problem for this mom, because remember, I was feeling pretty super. I could almost feel the breeze of my cape, fluttering behind me.

By the time we hit the frozen food aisle my confidence started to slip. My previously peaceful boys had reached their peaceful peak. Judah’s screams had reached a level of decibel-desperation. And now that mother who had been eyeing the bananas was now glaring at me, as she tossed her frozen peas into her cart.

I threw my items onto the belt, threatening my boys with a glare of my own. I tried to ignore the look from the cashier. You know the one, would-you-please-shut-that-baby-up look! I dug blindly into my purse looking for my credit card, while bouncing and patting and begging the baby to stop crying. After 30 minutes of incessant screaming in a public place, you start begging.

We made it to the car. I was on the verge of tears. After loading everyone and everything up we rushed to pick up my gymnastic girl, for we were now late.

This time only a single car occupied the parking lot of the gym. I felt the weight of my heart sink into my stomach.

After squealing to a stop I jumped out of the car and ran (as best I could weeks post giving birth) into the building. I was met with two large, tear filled eyes. There had been no gymnastics class that day. This super-mom wanna-be had dropped her sweet baby off at a big empty gym.

My heart wasn’t the only thing to hit the floor. My cape slid down around my ankles and so did that super feeling I had been caressing all day.

I wanted to blame the baby fog, the sleep deprivation. I wanted to blame the distraction filled life that comes along with having four kids. I didn’t want to accept the fact that I couldn’t be super mom, not even for one.single.day.

But that is the very thing God wants me to do.

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong… that no man should boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28)

The heart-stopping minute that tiny, pink baby was placed in my arms and the nurse and doctors left the room I was completely overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility. I felt fearful and frail. Were they even allowed to send me home? Wasn’t there some kind of test I had to pass first? I was so unsure as I timidly stepped into motherhood.

But somewhere along the way my fearfulness turned into boastfulness.

I began to place my value as a mother on what I was able to do and be. How was it that schedules and laundry, cooking and cleaning, breastfeeding and homeschooling, t.v. time vs. book time, organic baby food and name brand car seats became the measuring stick I quantified my mothering by? Some days I measured up. Most days I didn’t.

It is an easy trap to fall into and one of Satan’s favorites I think. Satan wants us to believe there is such a thing as Super Mom. He wants us to so that we can be weighed down by the thought of her. So that we will feel judged and condemned and assume she thinks we are failures. All before we even get out of bed. So that we lose sight of the true way God measures us.

 “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1Samuel 16:7)

Is it about having well-coordinated and well behaved children whose manners don’t match their hearts? Is it about looking good and holding it all together while the inside bleeds out? Is it about stumbling under the burden of perfection at the cost of my family, or my very soul?

Or is it about grace lived out in our own lives so that our children might get a glimpse?

A glimpse of the power shown in weakness. A glimpse of a God “who remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). A glimpse of a grace whose message is, we are all lost, all sick, all in need of salvation (Give Them Grace p.71).

Granting that glimpse of grace can be a frightful thing. A life where grace is lived out is a life that calls us to expose our weakness. To break open wide the idols of our hearts. To lay down our abilities and strengths. To accept the fact that we were never expected to have it all together.

God does not ask me to be Super Mom. It is my own ideals and expectations that ask that of me. And those quite deeply reflect the idols of my heart.

“To keep me from becoming conceited…there was given me a thorn in my flesh… Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Sometimes it feels like my kids are that ‘thorn in my flesh’! But in all seriousness, I believe God gives us children to expose our weaknesses, not to turn us into heroes. He wants us to be faced with our failures and confronted with our incapability’s. To remind us of our need for Him and to force our reliance on a Father who knows our frame. To offer us humility, so that Christ’s power may be seen in us.

Jesus does not want us to be weighed down by the burden of our sin and shortcomings. But rather lifted up by the reminder that no matter how we fail, he loves us all the more.

“Come, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30)

He says this to the mother who can’t keep up with the laundry. He says this to the mother who hates to cook. He says this to the mother who threw a tantrum bigger than her toddler’s. He says this to the mother who dreads getting out of bed some mornings. He says this to the mother whose kids are well behaved but their hearts are far from him. He says this to the mother who is killing herself trying to do it all. He says this to the mother who does all the right things, but her children still stray. He says this to the mother who is discontent, who is frustrated, who yells, who forgets to have her quiet time, who walks in fear, who gets angry, who is discouraged, who needs a break.

He knows our frame. He knows we are far from super. He knows all this and he still offers us his grace. He still says, Come. And he means it.

I will never forget being in the counseling room not many years ago and my counselor and friend asking me, “What do you want your children to know when they leave your home?” My answer was something like, “I want them to know how much I love them, to serve God, to be kind and respectful, to know how to work hard and to be responsible adults.” He then asked me, “What about the grace of God?”

That one question has revolutionized the way I view parenting, the way I view myself as a mother, and the way I view my children. We are simply all the same, desperately in need of the grace of God lived out in our lives.

I will end with a quote from my new favorite parenting book, Give Them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Through this book (and the delightful women I am studying it with) my parenting is continuing to be revolutionized. It’s about one thing and one thing only. What Christ has done.

(Referring to the motivational theory based on promises of reward and/or threats of punishment)

Rather than trying to entice us by dangling an unattainable carrot of perfect welcome and forgiveness incessantly in front of our faces, God the Father freely feeds the carrot to us, his enemies. He simply moves outside all our categories for reward and punishment, for human motivation, and gives us all the reward and takes upon himself all the punishment. He lavishes grace upon grace on us and bears in his own person all the wrath that we deserve. Then he tells us, in light of all that he’s done, “Obey.” Yes, we do have promises of rewards in heaven, but these are not earned by us through our merit. Yes, there are promises of punishment, but not for those who are “in Christ.” All our punishment has been borne by him. The carrot is ours. The stick is his. Manage your children with beans in a jar if you must, but be sure to tell them that it isn’t the gospel. And perhaps, once in a while, just fill the far up with beans and take everyone out for ice cream, and when your son asks you, “Daddy, why do we get ice cream? How did the jar get full?” You’ll know what to say, won’t you? (Give Them Grace p.108)

I feel certain, if we get really good at knowing this one thing, we will become the most super moms on the planet. So watch out world.

Sometimes

Sometimes I see you and I’m just so glad to see you.

Sometimes I wonder how you’re really doing and what’s really going on.

Sometimes I ask you.

Sometimes I don’t and then I wished that I had.

Sometimes we talk and we really talk.

Sometimes life is too busy or the kids are too loud and we try, but we can’t.

Sometimes we just don’t try hard enough.

Sometimes I’m honest and I tell you what I’m really thinking, what I’m really feeling.

Sometimes you do too.

Sometimes it’s powerful, that kinship we have.

Sometimes it can change our path.

Sometimes distractions get in the way.

Sometimes we are discouraged and don’t know how to keep going.

Sometimes we are stuck and need each other’s help to be freed from our bondage.

Sometimes we just need to cry together or dry the eyes of the other.

Sometimes there’s joy and it over takes us and spills out over all and all over the other.

Sometimes there’s pain and the pain threatens to drown us and we ride the wave together.

Sometimes I’m afraid to say what I think is true, because what if it hurt you or what if it changed you?

Sometimes we walk away from each other never knowing, never seeing, missing the most important.

Sometimes we see and we really see and we meet the need.

And sometimes, just sometimes, we are true friends, sisters who would give up anything to see the smile of the other. To know they are doing ok on this road called life, or to be there to answer the call when they’re not. Sometimes God has us be His hands and His feet.

Sometimes and we will never be the same.

A Tease

Hi Friends~

Our lives have been so busy these last several weeks. I wish that I had more time to spend blogging my thoughts and the events of our life… but instead we have just been living it!

The moments that I do have to spend writing I have been working on a series that I hope to share with you soon. A friend and I are collaborating together on a series on marriage. (I can’t wait to introduce her to you!) Something that is very near and dear to our hearts. I am so excited about this! We feel it is so needed, because we all struggle in our marriages in one way or another and we need encouragement. We aren’t claiming to have all the answers or to have perfect marriages. But God has taught us a lot over the years and we simple just want to share those truths with you.

We have a feeling that the enemy doesn’t really want us to do this. When we first started talking about this both of our marriages were hit pretty hard. We were discouraged and feeling extremely inadequate. But we aren’t going to be bullied around! We are determined to make this happen (in God’s timing)!

Please pray for us as we prepare to share our hearts on a very deep level. It’s a risk, we know. But one we know is worth taking.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on this precious little monster!

You Know You’re a Homeschooler When…

(clockwise) deacon at the zoo; olivia as guest reader to her kindergarten class; camping; t-ball;
 waiting for the train; levi pretending to be jaq-jaq; olivia in her garden planting beans

I am going to start this, but I would LOVE for you to finish it!

We have just completed our first Homeschooling year!! Whoot Whoot!!

Although I myself was homeschooled I have learned quite a lot about what it means to be a homeschooler this year. It’s different being the mom/teacher.

learning to tell time; buy one get one; multiplication; 2 hermit crabs fighting;
 reading with Mo-Mo; pancake decorating party; levi building

We have shared many tears, much laughter, frustration, elation… the whole gamut! And I am glad to be saying WE ARE DONE!!! (with a guttural ugh!)

But I can also honestly say, I can’t wait for next year!! There is so much I am looking forward to changing, adding and tossing!

So I was kinda thinking back over this last year and some of the funny moments that have made us uniquely a homeschooling family. I’m sure we will continue to add to the list through the years. Here is where we began…

You Know You’re a Homeschooler When…

levi and olivia on the train, levi saluting; deacon and our first homegrown zucchini;
levi in the out field;deacon’s hands just like daddy’s; deacon fixing just like daddy;
deacon learning special exhibit words; olivia and her binoculars;
entering St.Helena’s Episcopal for children’s chapel

… you pry two workbooks apart to find they have been cemented together by syrup from that morning’s breakfast of waffles

… you use a big chocolate chip cookie from BaBa to teach fractions

… you know exactly how many days are in a school year (180) and how many more you have left to go! (0)

mommy and livie on a date; veggie face w/ home grown squash and zucchini;
jaq-jaq; livie writing; deacon proud finished math; at the library;
 deacon turning 5; the 3 making grilled cheese

… you catch a nap while listening to a young reader (I soon learned to fold laundry to stay awake)

… you are able to help put together a puzzle, trace letters, do a math problem and stir the macaroni at the same time

… you catch a lizard and then catch a fly and sit quiet and still to watch the lizard eat the fly (and he does)

… your photo copier becomes your new best friend

at the beach looking for critters; levi daddy eyes; garden; deacon looking for shells;
mommy and boys on a date; deacon waiting to bat; levi with the geo board; livie always creating

… you use jelly beans to teach multiplication

… you go to the beach and ask yourself, “How can I count this as a day of school?”

… making cream of ‘weak’ becomes a math lesson

… you can wipe a butt and answer a math question at the same time

… you spend an hour on a lesson in body language before you begin a lesson in the English language

easter, sweaty after the hunt; olivia working out a math problem; ruby learning letters;
fancy dinner on piano bench for 3; levi’s smile; reading the word while stirring the breakfast;
 deacon in the out field; livie and the egg pinata

… you get asked by your five yr. old, “How come you wear pajama’s every day?”

… you cry tears when your child reads his first word

… you help sound out words while taking a shower

… you learn what being patient really means

deacon ‘fishing’; downtown; livie reading in old books store; girls day downtown;
deacon up to bat; girls day; beach day; more reading

… you find a child working figures buried under blankets

… you use jump ropes, rubber gloves, painter’s tape, buttons, and squirt guns for school

… you see a math sheet slipped between the door and jam while trying to have a private moment in the bathroom

… you see child/parent relationships begin to heal

the easter egg hunt at baba’s; and daddy holding the empty resurrection biscuit

… you learn to slow down

… dancing in the kitchen is counted as P. E.

… you see your child for the first time… again

… you can answer Yes! to the question, “Is it worth it?”

missing teeth; napping; first lost tooth; 3 musketeers

So, what do ya got?? I’d love to hear from you…

A Fresh Start

At a very young age I began to journal. I journaled faithfully. As a result, I have a very large box under my bed full of beautiful journals of all different shapes and sizes, colors and textures. Journals were one of those things that I had a weakness for. Any store I would walk into I had to check out the journals. Journaling was a way for me to process life, my thoughts, my feelings…

And then I had children. And life got hard. And I was tired all the time. And well, it just wasn’t what it used to be. Nothing was what it used to be. So I took a bit of a hiatus.  It has been six years since I have really journaled. And I think it’s time. Because there is still a lot going on inside my head and heart, a lot that needs processing and a lot that needs sharing. 

So I hope that through this, I can return to journaling in a way. It’s not the same as taking pen to paper, but maybe it will allow me to quietly process my thoughts. Quietly being the key word!  And also share with those who might care to know what’s going on in my life and heart. Wow! I think I’m getting excited!