Motherhood: Is THIS it?

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Most days on this journey of motherhood I recognize just how sacred this task is. This task of raising little people. I understand that it is big, and important, and it DOES make a difference. Most days, if you were to ask me, that’s what I would tell you.

BUT, then there are those days. Those days like today when I breathe deep, toss my hands to the heavens, and in the most frustrated of tones questions God.

 While holding back the tears, I dare whisper these words to my Creator…. “Are. You. Serious. God?”

I’m looking at my life, my dreams, my gifts. I mean, I desperately want to be a world changer. I want to write a book. I want to travel to other countries. I want to REALLY live life to the fullest. I want to undoubtedly make a difference with these days I am given.

“God, I’ll sing, I’ll speak, I’ll write. I’ll do whatever you want, but are you sure this is IT?!?”

THIS is my calling?!?!

Wiping butts, and fixing meals, and picking up crushed up off-brand cheese flavored crackers off the floor for the third time this week. I wake each morning to clean the same messes over and over again, only for them to be undone in a matter of minutes. And then, I give my day, my hours and my moments, desperately trying.  Trying to help and teach and appease these little people, who really have absolutely no understanding of what I am giving.

I look at my life on these days where the frustration runs deep, and my heart grows discontent. I look at these weeks where it seems I do and do and do, what no one else sees, what no one else recognizes.

And, if I’m honest, in those moments, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why I am here neck deep in this thing called motherhood. Why raising these little people and keeping this house in some semi- recognizable manner feels so all consuming. More difficult than anyone ever let on.

May I be so bold as to question the God of the universe? May I be so bold as to say that I feel like I’m wasting away here? Like my talents and my gifts aren’t being utilized, like my passions are just sitting here waiting to come to life……

But, God.

God in His infinite wisdom and understanding speaks to my heart in the way only a humble Father can.

You see, when it feels like I do what no one sees, He sees.

When it feels like I work and work, yet no one knows it, He knows.

The Creator God looks down upon me in the midst of my days and he sees it all. He NEVER leaves my side. Not when I’m sweeping the floor, or cooking the meal, or teaching that kid how to tie their shoes. He sees me when I’m feeding that baby AGAIN, loading what seems like the 1800th load of laundry for the day or whispering that lesson into the ear of a little one.  And here, now, as I question my purpose. As I wander if any of it even matters at all. As frustrated tears well in my eyes, He’s here.

And, He reminds me that it is not wasted. Not one single moment.

Because if nothing else is gained on these days that seem futile, I am.

He is making me. Redeeming me. Refining me.

2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

 

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My Meaningless Life

Meaningless.jpgI have to make a confession.

Recently, I have found myself in a place of wanting. A place where I wish for more, for different. A place where jealousy can easily entangle my heart. 

And I look at the world around me, thinking to myself IF ONLY.

If only I could travel the world; take that romantic getaway with my husband, experience that tropical vacation I’ve been longing for, show my children the majesty of the mountain summits and the roar of the Ocean.

If only I could be an adventurer; traveling to third world countries, bringing food, and Bibles, and love.

If only I could experience the fine dining that the world has to offer; to taste the delicacies.

If only I had a nicer home, or a more well kept yard.

If only I could get that book published, the one I’ve been dreaming about. If only I could speak to the masses. If only my name would be known by more than the 15 people who read my occasional blog posts.

And, if only I had the bank account balance to make it all be, without guilt, and without stress.

THEN, I could be happy. Fulfilled, not wanting for anything more.

(SIGH)

Meaningless.

I remember the words of a wise man in Ecclesiastes.

Meaningless, it’s all meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

You see, none of the things I mentioned in and of themselves are wrong. Most are positive things to dream about, to hope for.

The problem is when I buy into the lie that these things will fulfill me. That these things will make me happy.

You see, if I am unfulfilled today, in this place where God has put me, then I need more of Him. Today, I need Jesus. But, instead my stubborn heart is wandering again. My heart decides just maybe the world has something to offer me that can satisfy my restless places.  

But it doesn’t.

Meaningless. Without Him first, it’s ALL meaningless. Even the really GOOD stuff.

God, let me be an adventurer. Let me be a world changer. Let me live this day you’ve given me to the fullest. BUT, above all else, let me know you, let me love you, let me need you.

You are my source of fulfillment.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Failing Motherhood (And why I want my kids to know.)

FailingMotherhood.jpgLately, more than ever, I have felt like there’s not enough of me.

As a mom, I have felt like on some level I am failing.

Because my little one is having seizures, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them.

And, amidst the specialist appointments, and ambulance rides, and normal day to day responsibilities, it has felt heavy. This burden of motherhood has felt like a larger burden than I am accustomed to carrying.

And then, I realize that along the ride, my other kids have had to take a back seat.

And I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that those regular daily pre-school lessons have suddenly stopped.

I feel guilty because I spend more time holding that baby and less time snuggling with my big babies.

And then, if I do the opposite, I feel guilty that the baby has not been held more.

I feel guilty because my lap is not big enough for all of them. And my energy level does not always allow me to run and play like I have in the past. And, there have been no planned activities or extra outings.

And, I am tired, but when I finally dose off for a nap, I feel guilty, because what if that little one has a seizure while I sleep.

I feel guilty because my 3 year old has eaten nothing today besides the chips he sneakily grabs from the cabinet while I’m nursing the baby, or changing a diaper.

And, I think How am I supposed to do this?

How am I supposed to meet the needs of 3 little people at one time?

I take a moment for myself to breathe, and then I feel guilty all over again, because moms are not supposed to get moments to themselves to breathe, are they?

Even as I write these words, the guilt overwhelms me.

I can never be enough for them.

But, that’s it. Isn’t it?

I can NEVER be enough for them.

I can NEVER fix all of their problems, no matter how badly I want to.

I can NEVER love them enough to fulfill all the love that they need.

Because I’m just me. I’m a flawed, messed up person, who happens to be blessed with the task of mothering these babies.

So, today I stop trying to be enough.

Maybe it’s OK for them to see that I’m not. For them to know that I am going to let them down.

Because my hope is, that in my failure, I point them to the one who will never fail them.

That in my insufficiency, I point them to the one who is sufficient, unwaivering, ENOUGH.

May they see my weakness, and in that, seek His strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9 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.

 

When God Says NO

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Recently, my 3 month old daughter had a seizure.

It was terrifying.

BUT, I prayed and deep in my heart I believed this would never happen again. MY mind never even went there. This was a crazy fluke one-time thing.

And that was that. Faith. That’s what I called it.

Then, it happened. Seizure #2.

So what happens now, in these moments when we desperately pray and we believe with our whole hearts, and still God does not answer?

What about my grandpa, who died early, even though I urgently begged God and believed that he would be healed on this earth?

And, what about my friend Matt, who got in a car accident and is parlayed from the waist down, even though I have cried out to God for his healing hundreds of times?

And, what about that little boy I know who died of brain cancer, even though I prayed believing my God could heal his broken body?

And, that girl I went to high school with whose medical tests came back with worse case scenario results, instead of the answer I had been praying for?

I mean, my list could go on and on.

SO, what now?

What happens in those moments when you have prayed your guts out and your faith is so big you just know God will do what you ask…. But then, He doesn’t?

I will be honest and say it’s an extremely hard place to be. Because I know the Scripture about asking in faith and receiving, And the verse that says if you have faith, even the tiniest amount, you can tell the mountain to move and God will move it.

I’ve heard the sermons. Read the books.

But, here I am. The answer that I asked for slid right through my fingers and I’m left standing before my maker with empty hands.

To be honest, I don’t get it. I don’t understand the WHY.

So, now, what do I say about this God that I serve? The One who didn’t do what I thought He would.

If you’ve been in this situation where you asked, and you believed, and then you were left stunned by the response God gave, you know that there isn’t a good answer.

I could get mad. Try to reason. Cry my heart out. Get discouraged. All of which I have done already.

And then, I can say this of my God. I trust Him. I don’t understand Him. I wish with all my heart He would have answered the way I wanted Him to.

Regardless, I trust Him.

Why? I guess because I KNOW Him. I KNOW His love. I KNOW the way He graciously and intricately has planned out my life, each of our lives. I KNOW that He is GOOD, and faithful. I know that I am only getting the smallest glimpse of the big picture story that is being written.

SO, today, if you are like me, and you asked, but God said no, or not yet, or I’m doing something else instead, I encourage you to trust Him. Get mad, cry, tell Him you’re frustrated. BUT then, TRUST HIM.

Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord is right and true. He is faithful in all He does.”

Doubting My Dreams

Doubting My Purpose

I have been taught my entire life to believe this truth. This truth that my life has purpose. This idea that you and me, we are no accidents. We are called to something bigger.

I was created intentionally with the talents and abilities and dreams that I have on purpose. For a purpose.

And, most days I know this to be true. Most days if you were to ask me, I could tell you that I undoubtedly believe this. But, amidst those days of belief, there are moments, and hours, and days of doubting.

There are those moments when I walk by the mirror and take in a glance of my reflection and think to myself “who do you think you are?”

You are JUST Sarah. Just a housewife who spends her days cooking meals and cleaning messes. You are ONLY a stay at home mom, and not a perfect one at that.

There are those times when someone speaks a discouraging word about me, and I believe it. It becomes who I am. I am no longer capable or talented. I am no longer able.

Alone, in the quiet darkness I find myself whispering these words to my God:

“God, I cannot do this.

Father, you must have made a mistake!

If you really KNEW me, you would know that you chose the wrong person. You gave the wrong dream.

If you could only see me, you would see that it can’t be ME. My hair is a mess, and my house is a mess, and my heart, it’s a mess too.

Father, if you could hear me, you would realize, you got it wrong. Because I sometimes speak words out of frustration and anger. Because my lips do not always glorify your name.

God, if you only knew my mistakes, that sometimes I am prone to jealousy. That my heart can be vain. Lord, often I am prideful, or rude, or selfish.

These dreams you have given me, this purpose I am called to, it must be for someone else. Someone more put together, more powerful, less flawed.”

And, there in the stillness, He reminds me:

My child, I know you. I see your heart, your vanity and pride and selfishness, but I have already paid the price.

My child I hear you. Every word you have ever spoken, I knew it would be before it came from your lips.

My child I know what you are capable of because I knit you together. I gave you your talents. I spoke into life your abilities.

My child, I see you. I know your messes and your mistakes. I’ve seen it all, to the very soul of who you are.

My child, you think I do not know? I am your maker. You are mine. Am I not the giver of your dreams? Am I not the one who has called you?

You are forgiven. Trust me my child. You are mine.”

 

Yes, Lord. I am yours. Let me follow after the dreams You have given today.

Psalm 139:1 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.”

My Sunday School Jesus

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Recently, I found myself sitting in a Good Friday service at my church with my 4 year old snuggled on my lap.

This service was intended as a time to remember the sacrifice Christ made for us, and sure enough, right there amidst the Scripture reading, the drama, and the touching music, a video clip was played. This was one of those really gut wrenching clips, the ones that make you come to grasp with the reality of what Jesus actually faced.

My Jesus, the King, was pictured beaten. Raw open wounds all over his unclothed body, blood dripping from the thorns pierced in his forehead. The clip played out His struggle as He was forced to carry upon His shoulder the weight of the cross, the very thing that would take His life. The sound of the nails piercing through his wrists was cringe worthy.

And, there I was, with this little girl on my lap. I found myself desperately wanting to keep her from this. I wanted her to turn her head. It took everything within me to not reach up and cover her eyes, or plug her little ears to keep her from knowing. To keep her from seeing the brutality of what REALLY took place.

The strange thing is my 4 year old already knows this story. She knows about Jesus. She knows that He was beaten, that He died. She knows that he hung upon a cross for our sins.

Still I wanted to shield her from the excruciating truth of what that really meant. Because it’s much “nicer” to think of Jesus like the pictures we see in Sunday school. It’s much more gentle and calming and less likely to prick at my conscious if I remember my Jesus un-bruised, un-bloody, peacefully hanging on a cross.

And, sadly, I think it was more me.

I didn’t want to see.

I didn’t want to remember.

Because it’s heartbreaking to think that He endured the cross for my sin.

Because when I remember, I can no longer go through my day pretending like I don’t know.

And sadly, sometimes, I think my 4 year old understand it better than I can.

Jesus gave it all. He loved me enough to pay that price, and though I want to remember him as this meek picturesque Jesus hanging on a poster like I saw in Sunday school, that’s not the reality.

May I remember today the truth of what He gave up, the pain He went through just so that I could know Him, and the life that was lost simply so I could have life. And, may I never again take that for granted. 

Thank you Lord for your sacrifice. Never let me forget.

Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

 

My Picture (Im)Perfect Easter

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Yesterday was Easter, and we all know what that means. Aside from the obvious true meaning behind Easter, it means cute little kids dressed in their new Easter attire, with adorable bows and shiny shoes and big smiles for their annual Easter picture.

Like most moms, I woke up yesterday morning with the intention of dressing my children in their “Easter best”, hair fixed, fancy shoes, and taking a beautiful picture that I could look back on for years to come. But then, LIFE.

Life happened.

It was cold and rainy, so the outfits I had planned for my kids had to be modified in order to accommodate the temperature.

I woke up late, and then listened to my husband’s alarm clock go off for another 20 minutes as I slowly grew more frustrated that he was waking up even later. Before we were even out the door I had snapped at Him.

My kids were tired. They would have loved to sleep in through the dark, dreary morning, but instead I drug them out of bed and dressed them while they were still bleary eyed and half asleep.

And then, we pulled into church later than we had planned and I had responsibilities; music I needed to run through, and people I needed to talk to.

The baby needed to nurse and my other kids wanted their mommy.

The church service started and before I knew it, it was over. And no Easter picture had been taken.

My kids were now more exhausted; their hair was no longer neatly fixed. My 2 year old was half way undressed, my 4 year old was having a meltdown and the baby, the baby had spit up all over her adorable Easter dress. AND, there still was no Easter picture.

You see, I wanted a picture perfect Easter. The picture of my 3 well groomed children, decked out in their new Easter attire, sitting still, beaming with joy, hugging each other close.

Cause, obviously, that’s what Easter is about right?

That’s when I realized that Easter is a lot more about the kind of picture I would have taken. JESUS is a lot more about my un-picture perfect Easter.

My mess. The chaos of my life. The parts that don’t look “picture perfect” because they definitely are NOT. My messy kids, the ones who sometimes punch their sibling in the face instead of hugging them close, the ones who grow overwhelmed and have meltdowns instead of always beaming with joy, the ones who are sometimes disobedient and undress themselves during church, rather than being nicely put together in their Easter attire.

My disordered heart that gets frustrated and weary, and sometimes leads to snappy remarks or negative thoughts.

The mess that I am. That’s where Easter finds meaning. Because in my “picture perfect” day, I have it all together on my own. But, in the reality that is my mess, I desperately need some help. I desperately need a Savior. And, the mess that are my kids reveal their humanity, that they too desperately need a Savior.

God embraces my mess. He doesn’t need the façade that would be my Easter picture because He already sees my heart. My failings as a mom, and as a wife, and as an imperfect human being.

So, no matter if your Easter picture was perfect, or if your kids were screaming, or if you didn’t get a picture at all, today , in the mess that is your life, remember JESUS.

He’s in the business of redeeming our messes.

Mark 2:17 …”It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

When My Heart Feels Unchanged

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This day is a day of remembrance.

The sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah. The Savior making good on what He promised He would do. The event that changed the course of history as we know it.

It changed EVERYTHING.

Yet, many days, even as I remember, my heart feels unchanged.

My world was changed by the humble presence of our Savior, but my heart is not always so humble.

My world was changed by the generosity of His giving, but I am not often so quick to be generous.

My world was changed by the love that His sacrifice required, but my love does not want to act in sacrifice to others.

My world was changed by the selflessness of a King who came as a lowly baby, but my heart is frequently selfish rather than selfless.

My world was changed by His excruciating Obedience in carrying out the plan to become sin and death, but Obedience to my Father comes slowly.

My world was changed by the Forgiveness that His dying breath cried out, still I lack forgiveness for those around me.

Today, I remember what HE did. I remember how His act was not only world changing, it was life changing. Life changing for you. Life changing for me.

Because He takes my stubborn heart and He works. He will not leave me unchanged. Because what He did CANNOT leave me unchanged.

And in the midst of my days where my heart wonders from my Savior, and my broken nature come out more than I’d like, His grace covers me. AND that is truly a game changer.

Lord, today, let me remember the reality of Your sacrifice, cover my wavering heart with your grace and let me be changed.

Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, ” Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”…    

Motherhood: My UGLY Pregnancy

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Here I am on this most beautiful and miraculous journey. Today, I am just shy of 26 weeks pregnant with my 3rd little blessing.

Here I am on this journey where I am supposed to be in awe each day, because what is happening inside of me truly is awe inspiring.

I am supposed to be filled with joy. I am supposed to feel grateful. I am supposed to be overwhelmed by the goodness of this gift God has given me.

And, in my head I know these things. When I really sit down and think about this pregnancy, this tiny person being knit together inside of my womb, the one I asked God for, I know. I know I have been given a gift. I know I must be grateful.

But, my brain and my heart are having a hard time connecting.

I am in this place of beauty, but beauty is the farthest thing from what I really feel. What I feel today is NOT beautiful.

Today, I am ugly.

Not simply in a physical sense, although my clothes are fitting snugger, and my belly is growing larger, and there seem to be more and more days that come where my hair is not fixed, and my sweat pants serve as real clothes.

No, this ugly I speak of is all encompassing.

My heart is ugly. My thoughts are often ugly. My spiritual, and mental, and physical state is ugly.

I am more exhausted than normal. I am losing more sleep as my body becomes more uncomfortable to be in. My back is achier, my stomach more nauseated. I am weary.

And, I find myself here. At this place where as a result I am more cranky, more prone to be easily angered, more frustrated with my family, and my home, and the tasks that are before me.

I find myself here, where I must try much harder to be kind. The more I try the harder it seems.

I don’t want to be this. I blame it on the hormones, the symptoms, and the fact that there is a little human being inside of me taking everything good I have to give. BUT, at the end of the day I must take responsibility for who I am.

Simply put, here in this place, I need MORE of Him. More of Jesus. More of His grace for myself and for others. More of his compassion, and loving-kindness. More of His strength and patience to make it through each day.

At the end of the day, I must remind myself that I am not defined by this UGLY that I feel. I am not defined by this struggling place where I currently reside.

I am defined by my God, the one who has already paid the price to wash away all the UGLY that I could ever be.

Here, where my heart is aching, and I don’t always understand what I am feeling, He knows me. He loves me. He will help me walk through this place and lead me to a place of joy.

My righteousness is in Him alone. My hope is in Him alone. Today, I will cling to Him alone.

Psalm 62:5-6 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

I’m NOT Enough

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I shut the car door and with a deep sigh lay my head down upon the sun warmed steering wheel. It had been a long day. I was tired. My kids had struggled. My husband and I were bickering.

The tears began to trickle from my eyes.

You are simply NOT enough, I thought to myself.

You are not a good enough wife, or a good enough mom. You are certainly not a good enough friend. Your house is not clean enough, and there is never ENOUGH laundry done. Your garden has not been kept up enough, and your front lawn is not mowed enough. Your kids are not well behaved enough. Your house is not organized enough, and your brain doesn’t work well enough.

Enough.

The word scrolled through my head like a 1990’s computer screen saver that wouldn’t stop.

How can I possibly BE ENOUGH? I felt alone and hopeless in that moment. For, I felt weary from giving all that I could already.

And then, these words came to mind, “You are not alone.”

“Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You see, on my own I will never be enough. It’s impossible. But, with my God, who never leaves me, I am ENO UGH.

I am ENOUGH because He looked down and He chose me.

I am ENOUGH because He poured out his very life that I might live.

I am ENOUGH because He is my strength and my helper.

I am ENOUGH because I belong to the King of the universe.

And, you my friend, with Him on your side, you are ENOUGH too.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2