A Mother’s 11:00pm Journal Entry

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I overreacted.

I disciplined too harshly.

I just got finished reading how a mother needs to balance motherly sacrifice with not letting her children run her life, when I got interrupted by my oldest child getting out of bed for the I’m-not-sure-how-many-ith-time. “She’s running me,” I thought. “I need to nip this in the bud!” “This has to stop!” “Sleep has been an issue for five years running.”

Instead of nipping disobedience in the bud, I grasped entitlement and disciplined out of selfish-ambition. I wanted my child to be in bed. She was awake before I was this morning and I didn’t want her to be awake up to my final moments of waking consciousness. I needed time to myself… or so I thought.

This whole me-time, balancing our wants and desires and uniqueness with the calling to be mothers and wives sacrificially just gets me all tied up in knots. What is right? Am I being too selfish when I could be reveling in motherhood more? Am I running myself ragged shepherding children, keeping house, and serving my husband without regularly taking time away from it all?

Well, I don’t know. But I am very observant, and I often look back over my own life as the ultimate experiment for how I should proceed further. I am just one life out of many (billions). And here is what I have observed…

I need to be careful to be Spirit-led.

When I read or hear that mama needs to take care of the temporal body and mind that God gave her and be watchful so as to not let babies a, b, and c run her with their demands, I need to do one of two things: throw it away, or think about it under the headship of Christ.

Why might I throw it away? Well, perhaps when the day has been one hurdle after another making up the race of my waking hours and 8:30pm rolls around with two out of three children protesting sleep (albeit happily, quietly, and calmly), it may not be the wisest time to consider whether or not my children are “running” me, per se. A completely weary and vulnerable state of mind is in no position to take on a new approach to anything, especially child training and “me-time.” Clearly, I’m already on the border of coveting the sacred time alone. I need to not wonder, ponder, or consider anything new. I need to abide in peace and let the Holy Spirit lead me.  He who asks for wisdom will be given wisdom.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

When I do think about it, I need to do so under the headship of Christ and take into account the wisdom He has already given me thus far.

“take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5b

Rest doesn’t just change with the seasons—it changes with the time of day.

You know what? I am in a season of service: 24/7 TLC. It’s around-the-clock, all-on-my-shoulders (while husband is at work and working on projects at home), teaching, training, and caring for others all with the necessity of tenderness and love.

Filling my cup is very personal right now. I have to have an intimate relationship with Christ to be filled in a season as full as this. This relationship is in the follow-through of my obedience to Him, my submission to my own husband, and my heart continually seeking Him throughout each day. My heart must remain softened unto Him.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

I must be His sheep and I must know His voice when He calls, lest I be led away and lost in the briars.

When my children were sick a week ago and I couldn’t get a moment without worry or work, God gave me a moment. I sat softly in a chair. I reclined slowly. I breathed, and I could hear it. I gazed out of the new window and set my eyes upon the mountains God created. I breathed again, and I felt it.

My whole body relaxed and my mind was at ease. God gave me a moment of peace. In the five minutes I reveled in this gift of peace, God completely filled my cup.

“Give us this day, our daily bread.” I guess I should say he filled my bread basket. I had a need, and He fulfilled it. We do need to be filled up. We do need peace and rest. But what people say is peaceful and restful are not the same as God’s set-aside plan for filling up your individual cup of need.

Know Him that you may know His voice.

He brings the peace through the baby giggling as you pull her back across the bed for your fourteenth attempt at securing her fresh diaper. Otherwise, what would you see? “Can’t you just hold still!?”

He brings the peace when your child rises from bed at an hour-and-a-half past bedtime asking for food, drink, and a potty break. Otherwise, what would you think? “You should have asked me when it was awake time. Why didn’t you just eat more three hours ago?” Feed her, give her a glass of water, take her to the restroom, and lay back down with her this once with a smile. A real smile. Tenderness from God the Father, because He gave it to you to pass on.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-5

He brings the peace when your child breaks down at every pin-drop because he got way over-hungry by lunch-time and appears to be inconsolable. Otherwise, what would you do? “This is unacceptable. Screaming and throwing tantrums are not okay no matter how icky you feel.” Hug him. He’s “hangry” (as my friend calls it when you’re so hungry you’re angry). I’m one who gets completely irrational when I’m over-hungry, it evokes some fight or flight response in me (or something), so I can sympathize. Feed him, and discuss attitude and prevention when the storm has passed. He won’t forget fifteen minutes later when his belly is finally full, and chances are he will apologize without your prompting.

Thank God for the giggles.

Thank God for the extra hour-and-a-half with your sweet child, especially time alone with her.

Thank God for giving this child to a parent whose heart is tender enough to know when someone is in sincere need of a hug and a gentle answer instead of firmness. After all, I know he’s not a regular transgressor of kindness. But I do know that an empty belly is a vulnerability for him.

Remember that I know my child.

Seriously. How many times has it crossed my mind that, “No, if I don’t get him to shape up this attitude even when he doesn’t feel well, he’s going to think he can just holler and scream every time he feels entitled to something, even comfort!” And I forget that I know my child.

“She’ll never stop needing me to lay with her at bedtime. Though I cherish these moments together, I just can’t do it all of the time! What about later when the baby arrives and he/she needs me?? How long will this go on? I need to be able to say ‘no’ once in a while! If I don’t hunker down and get strict with discipline, she’ll run me into the ground at every bedtime, forever!” And I forget every single milestone we have made. I forget every leap and bound God has been faithfully bringing her across over the years, months, weeks, and even days.

Mom, nobody knows your child better than you do, save God Himself. Doubt can be a dangerous thing. Do you have a husband? Ask him. Chances are, he’ll say you’re a pretty great mom to your kids, even with the mistakes. We all make them, after all.

I can-not understand how my children consistently come up to me out of the blue and declare me to be the best mother who ever lived (or maybe it’s the best mom in the world… whichever).

Her children rise up and call her blessed     Proverbs 31:28

His mercies truly are new every morning…

 

photo credit: Michael Matti via photopin cc

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Enjoy Your Little Tag-Alongs

I saw a young mother with eyes full of laughter
And two little shadows come following after.
Wherever she moved, they were always right there,
Holding on to her skirts, hanging onto her chair–
Behind her, before her–adhesive pair.
“Don’t you ever get weary as day after day
Your two little tag-alongs get in your way?”
She smiled as she shook her pretty young head,
And I’ll always remember the words that she said:
“It’s good to have shadows that run when you run,
That laugh when you laugh, and hum when you hum;
For you only have shadows when your life’s filled with sun!”

~Anonymous, “Letters From Our Readers” Keepers at Home Summer 2014 issue.

 

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Nursing Little Ones Through Illness – The Best Days of My Life

I can finally put away the last throw-up bowl.

•  One week ago today, I was rocking my very sick baby sleeping peacefully though hot with fever.
•  Six days ago, I quickly walked my 3-year-old son out the sunroom door to the grass where he let out the sickness that just hit him.
•  Five days ago, I watched my lover-of-life-to-the-point-of-no-sleep five-year-old peacefully sleep on the couch as the sun rose and set (in that order).
•  Four days ago, I lost touch with God’s peace and fretted over my son’s apparent lack of nutrition after sleeping through two-and-a-half days straight without a crumb staying down.
•  Three days ago, we thanked God for our baby’s first birthday, I was blessed by my loving husband who stayed home to serve me as I continued to nurse small children through illness and grow another little one in the womb. I rejoiced at the healing hand of God upon each of my three children. I rejoiced at my son’s return of an appetite and milestone of a piece of toast staying down.
•  Two days ago, I continued to rejoice at the improved appetite of my son. And I did laundry–lots and lots and lots of laundry.
•  One day ago, the bickering of the oldest two was music to my ears after the silence of sickness. God bless them.
•  Today, my husband was able to sleep in for the first time in a long time. The children helped me make pancakes, and we served them with fresh raspberries heaped up high, real maple syrup pouring bountifully, and freshly chilled goat’s milk from the pasture. A friend brought us chicken soup. Family visited. And if you stepped into our home today, you wouldn’t even know what the week brought through our lives.

It was a merry day.

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“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”  Daniel 3:26-28 ESV

No, we weren’t persecuted for our faith like the men in Daniel, but I love the example of them coming through the fire (and causing others to praise God as a result, nonetheless!).  I think that if you were with us today, there wouldn’t even be so much as a smell of smoke on us; at least, I hope there wouldn’t be.  There were definitely times when it felt like a very difficult trial, even a furnace hot on my heels.

 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” James 1:2

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And you may think it’s easy to say, now that it’s all gone away, that all is well over here.  But it’s God who is good, by whose grace we all stood, and the one who gives us what’s His.  We are blessed and happy, and what a wonderful life it is!

To comfort the little girl as I hold back her hair, tears slowly streaming down her face.  As she expresses to me that often life is too hard and “will you pray God takes this sickness away?”

To change out the bowls so my son doesn’t smell what had happened and was done 5 seconds ago.  And to do it again like it never happened, teaching him to move on and keep smiling.

To hold a baby, hot with fever, for 48 hours without rest.  Except for when my arms let her down to fetch a diaper and cool towel.

It’s a blessing to be a mother of children and nurture them through every need.  Though I won’t meet but a fraction of them, God is all sufficient and able.  I am still thankful to be here to give the tender touch, compassionate eyes, and encouraging words when appropriate.  I have felt the comfort of a mother’s love through fever, cough, and pain, and I remember it clearly every time and again I can rub my own babies’ feet.

“Thank you, mommy”

“I love you; you are the best mommy in the world”

“You never make any mistakes”

Just knowing my love has met them there and God’s love filled in all my gaps, they know I’m not perfect and know I make mistakes, but the beauty is what they see.

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The beauty is what I see.

Through the mess of laundry comes beautiful service.

Through the long nights come the beauty of a lamp that doesn’t go out.

Through the voices in need I hear my beautiful calling… “mommy”

Through the fear I see the beauty of sacrificial love and the fact that I’d give anything for my child.

The stomach flu isn’t disgusting, gross, or detestable, it’s a beautiful opportunity to serve.  To be the most beautiful woman you can be for what turns out to be such a short time.

I am thankful for this week, and though I’m sorry my babies were sick, I am thankful God chose me.

These are the best days of my life.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”   Matthew 25:31-40 ESV

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