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.”

 

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 Picture (Im)Perfect Easter

Easter

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.”…    

Weeds

weeds

Weeds.

I have weeds growing in my garden.

I don’t want them there. Despite my best efforts to defeat them, they grow up effortlessly from the soil as if that is where they are meant to be.

I have plowed them under the earth a time or two, still they come back. I have used man made tools to dig them from the soil, still more grow. I have sprayed them with poison, yet they live. I have plucked them from the moist ground with my very hands, and somehow, they return, as if there is nothing I can do to prevent them.

Some are large, tall, deep rooted into the ground. They have been ignored far too long because I am too tired, or too busy, or the weather is not quite right. They begin to take over, stealing the nourishment intended for my crop, slowly killing the good fruit which was meant to harvest.

Some are small, sneaky. They seem harmless initially, but they too will grow to steal what was planned to be good.

I have weeds in my garden. The funny thing is my heart, much like my garden often grows weeds.

Weeds.

Some are small, starting out as a little bad habit, a negative thought, just a slight lack of trust in my Savior. You know nothing “major”, nothing “life altering”.

But, when left untouched they grow up, just like the weeds in my garden. They will take over. They slowly entangle themselves with the good fruit, stealing their nourishment, and snuffing out anything good that was left. And suddenly all that’s left is weeds.

As hard as I try to control them, to kill them, to plow them underneath the surface where no one can see, they will still be there; a part of my broken self, my broken journey.

Yet, as I watch the weeds in my garden, untouched, slowly killing my good harvest, I am reminded that I must be responsible to combat the weeds in my heart.

My hard heartedness, selfishness, anger, lack of forgiveness, discontentment, lust, greed, gossip….. the list could go on. They are all weeds that I must intentionally attend to. I must not let them grow up and take over the good that God is trying to do in me.

You must not either. This is my plea for you to look at your heart. What weeds have you ignored for too long? What small thing are you allowing to grow?

Today, you can take care of it, with God’s help. He is good at plucking weeds.

Psalm 139: 23-24 “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

The Struggle: Being Redeemed & Still Broken

*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the final post in a series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be. To start with the first post in this series, click here. *

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I am caught in a dilemma. A dilemma where I hear one thing, yet see another. A predicament in which I read truth, but it feels as if truth lies to me. I contradict my truth each day as I happen upon life. And then, I am left wondering what truth is.

God’s Word is STILL truth. But, sometimes it feels distant, not because it is un-relatable, but because those truths and those promises in their fullness have not yet come to be.

I know God’s glory, His plan, His redemption- it is there, but as I reach out for more I cannot grasp it with my feeble fingers.

Finding the balance, I think that’s where I am. I’m finding the balance of being redeemed and still being so broken.

I’m finding the balance of being free, and still at times being held captive.

I’m finding the balance of being righteous, but still so tainted.

The balance of being God’s child, and still walking around as this imperfect human.

The balance of choosing victory, but still struggling.

I believe His truth. I cling to His promises. Still I must understand I will not fully see them come to be until I reach the other side of eternity.

My body will still be broken, to some extent, but I HOPE for the future when it is whole.

My heart will still fail me, I will sin, I will screw up, but I HOPE for the day when sin no longer plagues my heart.

My mind will struggle, I will have hardship, heartbreak, frustrations, but I HOPE for the day when there are no more sorrows, no more struggles.

Eternity is going to be great! So, as I strive, and I try to overcome my struggles; I still cling to His truth. But, more than anything I cling to this hope, the hope of a future glory that is awaiting me through Him.

Colossians 1:27 “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you, the hope of glory.”

Speaking Truth to My Struggle

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*I wrote this recently in the midst of a real struggle in my own life. This is the 4th post in a 6 post series entitled “Struggling”. My prayer is that you would be encouraged by my honesty and that God would use this series to help you in the midst of your own struggle, whatever that may be. To start with the first post in this series, click here. *

Truth. What even is the truth? In the midst of this struggle sometimes the lines of truth seem blurred.

You see, as I’ve mentioned before, my struggle is one of heart and mind.

It begins as a thought, one that is usually a lie. That thought turns into a feeling, an emotion that can overwhelm. And, eventually in my heart and mind, that initial lie becomes a truth.

I must remind myself that my thoughts, my feelings, they are NOT my reality. My emotions often deceive me. I cannot rely on them as my source of truth. BUT, I do have one source of truth that I can rely on, and so I must read it, I must speak it, I must believe it, EVEN when I don’t “feel” it.

My truth is God’s word. My truth is His promise.

I must cling to that, otherwise I am left wondering, finding my own truth, which in fact is not likely truth at all.

My jealousy tells me that I deserve more out of life, more money, more power, and more satisfaction. BUT the truth is I am deserving of death, and only gain life through the grace of my Savior. The truth is I have SO many good things, and every good and perfect gift is from my Father in Heaven.

My pride tells me that God has forsaken me; He has no plan. If He did I would already be doing BIG things. BUT, the truth is my ways are not His ways. I do not understand His ways or His timing, but He is God, He is in control, and He has a perfect plan for my life, even in the broken places.

My guilt tells me I am worthless; I have failed too often. I have let too many down. I feel shame. BUT, the truth is I am righteous in the sight of my Father. My dirty mess is washed white as snow through Christ blood and I AM redeemed.

My lowliness cries out that I have no value, I am unnecessary, I am a screw up. But the truth is I am fearfully, wonderfully, and intentionally designed by a Creator who knows the very hairs on my head, and again, He has a plan.

My brokenness says I am too broken. BUT the truth is God is making me new with each struggle, each day, each moment.

It is difficult for me to fully put into words the things I have felt or thought, the places I have allowed myself to wander in the midst of darkness.

BUT, today I speak truth, over and over, and over again. I speak it when I believe it, and I speak it when I don’t. I speak it when it feels right, and when it feels the farthest thing from true. I speak it day and night; in my prayers, to my children, under my breathe. I speak it as a reminder. I speak it as a battle cry. I speak it because it brings me back to life. TRUTH.

Today, find God’s truth and speak it to your struggle. I dare you.

Romans 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

With love,

Sarah