Monday, October 26, 2015


I was asked this question last night: “What do you wish you would have known about having kids before actually having them?”
As my brain raced through all of the reactions in my head to this question, there was a silence on the phone line. How do I even begin to share what motherhood is like to a high school senior, conducting an interview to fulfill a child development assignment? My hands were wet in the sink busy with dinner dishes, my three-year-old in the midst of the post-bath naked dash to get a Pull-Up, my living room a mess of clothes needing to be folded and books scattered everywhere. 
What do I wish I would have known? How life-altering it is. How it can fill your heart and break it. How it magnifies every single selfish act. How it doesn’t stop. How it stretches you physically. How it is different for every person, with every child. How it exposes your weaknesses. How it challenges the way you spend your resources. How it opens doors to new experiences and situations and lots and lots of people. How it requires many weighty decisions. How it bonds. How it blesses. How it teaches. How it sieves out the unimportant. How it fulfills. How it empties. How complex it is. How much farther beyond one’s own capabilities it is. How wonderful picture books are. How amazing it is to introduce a young brain to life. How special to be someone else’s safe place. How honoring to be one of the voices to speak in to a little one’s soul. Tears find their way to the back of my eyes as I think about it.
But the ONE thing? Why not just ask me how to bring world peace? I think it might be easier to answer…
I exhaled and it came to me: the importance of a support system.
Because raising kids is beyond me. It’s beyond each of us. We can’t do it [well] on our own. And perhaps God planned it that way.
I think about what it would be like to try to be a mother without the help of my husband, without the example of my parents, without the experience of watching my brothers raise their children, without the unconditional love of the “grandparents” at church, without the friends and neighbors who welcome the boys alongside them as they change the oil or mow the lawn, without the people behind the websites that give advice, ideas and encouragement.
And, for me, the sticky, messy glue that holds these different pieces, prioritizes them puts them in their right place, and provides purpose for each piece is the Lord. My Father. The one whose wisdom, strength, courage, energy, determination, plan, foresight, forgiveness, compassion, love, and peace holds my life and heart. In every which way that I am weak as a mother, his strength is my support system. It sounds cliche as I write it down, but when my legs hit the ground chasing after three little people, I don’t need a small support. I need a BIG support. I don’t need just a mom’s group to see me through from week to week. I don't need just a date night every once in a while. I don’t need just another person to walk alongside me. I don’t need just a voice to give me advice.
I need God.
So I guess I wish I would have known how complex being a parent would be, and how I would desperately need a far-reaching support system. And how God would already be there, waiting for me and willingly giving me all that I would need.

“Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong.” Romans 16:24a

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Father's Lap

My five-month-old Simon is getting more and more mobile with each day that passes. I remember that with my first born, it seemed to take f - o - r - e - v - e - r for him to reach his gross motor milestones. With this one, it is happening way too fast. He’s rolling from his back to his stomach. He’s inching his way forwards and backwards. I saw him do a plank for a half a second today. And this week, he discovered he could roll from his stomach to his back. I feel like we’ve reached the point of no return. This little boy is going to move, whether the rest of us are ready for it or not.
Today he was sitting in my love’s lap, Dave doing what he could to keep him entertained while I got ready for the day. And this is what I saw: Simon squirming and wiggling with every developing muscle in his body, working his hardest to make his way out of that lap.

My dear friend Sherry, who has lots of experience raising kids and even more experience walking with the Lord, looked at Simon in my arms this past summer (when he was much more prone to cuddling), and was reminded of the way that God loves to hold us close. Ever since that day with her, my mind finds its way back to this picture of God holding us close, the way a parent holds their newborn baby—like there is nothing more precious, nothing more important for His arms to be doing than holding us close to His heart.
And how often do we respond in the way that a five-month-old might? We feel confident in our own newly-found abilities, we have our own ideas of what’s best for us, and we have the urge to get out. And God, in his wisdom and love, allows us to go… to wiggle… to squirm our way away from his lap. I’m sure we look ridiculous to him, as we slide down onto the ground and find ourselves in a position from which we don’t know the way out. Simon ended with his belly on the carpet and his face flat against Dave’s hairy leg. 

What follows is beautiful. 

Simon looked up at us with expectant eyes as if to say, “Can you get me out of here?” Of course, we did. And of course, God does. Every time that we think we know better than he does, he rescues us. Every time that somewhere else seems more appealing than his lap, he’s there to draw us back into his arms. Every time that we look up at him with those eyes that beg, “Can you get me out of here?” he reaches down in grace and love and pulls us up.

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28

Friday, October 2, 2015

If Only

The boys are on their two-week Fall Break right now. So, we’re getting lots of opportunities to have fun together, to spend time together, and, in the midst of our hours together, to grow in our relationships with each other—you know: the kind of growth that happens in the midst of good times and in the midst of bad times.
There we were, enjoying a laid-back meal together of the boys’ choosing. My love was working late, so our dinner was not as “formal” a time as normal, if our normal could be considered formal. The baby woke up as we were nearing the end of the meal, so I left the 5- and 3-year old to finish things up while I nursed Simon in the next room. Noah, the oldest, finished quickly. Apparently, whatever he ate gave his little frame a boost of energy;  pretty soon he was bounding into the living room, ready for action and giddily goofy. I sent him back to the kitchen to clear his dishes from the table, and then I returned to checking my email on my phone. About a minute passed and I realized that it was getting rowdy in the kitchen, and that Noah had not accomplished the task for which he had been sent. As I looked up from what I was doing, I saw Zeke (the 3-year-old always ready to hop on whatever bandwagon his brother is riding) toss his cup of milk across the table. [Thank God for cups with lids.] Well, throwing was not sufficient goofiness, so he proceeded to slam it around in his attempt to pick it up and then shake it. 
And all the moms know what happens next: 8 ounces of milk, all over the kitchen floor. Splatted on the wall. Wet on the legs of the table and chairs. Slippery in-between little three-year-old toes. If only I wouldn’t have given him a full cup! If only Simon would have slept a few more minutes! If only I wouldn’t have been on my phone! If only NOAH WOULD HAVE DONE WHAT I ASKED HIM TO DO!
As Zeke stood there, feet in milk, milk on floor, and I hurried to get Simon settled somewhere besides my lap, I was quick to anger and quicker to spout off from my mouth. “Zeke! We don’t throw cups! What is that?!?—The second time you’ve spilled a cup of milk today?? Why did you do that?!  Noah! Why didn't you do what I asked you to do? (grumbles under breath....)" 
If only, If only, If only.

Of course, spilled milk is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, so after a few towels and a conversation, we were able to put it behind us (and I began counting down the minutes until my love, a.k.a. my reliever, would come home).
Later that night, after all the boys were asleep, I read these words:
This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is good for you
and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Oh, that you had listened to my commands!
Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river
and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.” 
(Isaiah 48:17-18 NLT)
If only.
If only we would listen to God instead of going our own way. If only we would pay attention to our teacher and guide for the right path. He desires to bless our lives. He desires to give us peace and righteousness. How often do our lives look like we’re throwing cups and spilling milk, instead? How many good things have been wasted in our attempts to do things our own way?
If only.

Today, let’s pray for the understanding to hear our Leader’s voice, and for the wisdom to follow in his ways; that we would not be foolish with the blessings he has showered on us; and that we would not make hasty decisions based on what is popular around us. Let us look forward to His peace like a river and righteousness like the waves.