Category Archives: Parenting

Milk & Honey

*For my baby Jane, in celebrating 7 months of life. ❤️

 

We had a bath, you and I.

And you know?

That may be the sweetest place I have ever been.

 

Your face, as pure as the droplets of water that speckle it, tilts back to gaze at me.

And I gaze at you.

 

You are the creamiest white.

Your face, and down along each roll of your arm,

across your belly and around your legs,

to the tip of your tiniest toe,

you, my dear, are the color of milk.

 

Your eyes lock with mine.

You smile with joy and kick the water.

It splashes the two of us, but neither one turns to look.

 

How can I?

Your eyes are like puddles of ocean water,

a deep, bottomless blue,

as if you could look and look

and not see all there is to see.

 

Your pink rosy lips form a side-lying oval

as your tongue curves up to join in the excitement.

And the colors trigger my heart to send a request to my mind: Remember this.

 

My eyes take a moment to blink,

like the click of a camera.

Did I get it?

Can my mind file this for safe-keeping forever?

 

Surely you will grow.

Most likely, faster than I have,

and I was but a child only a moment ago.

 

As if sensing my hopeless desire to control time,

you splash again and water splatters.

Your honey-tipped eyelashes have caught a drop,

wet and frayed out as they are.

They look like the palm trees in Florida, excited and undeterrable.

 

You win, my love.

I know in far away tomorrows I will ache.

Perhaps on a rainy day when the small droplets of water remind me of the way they splashed your face,

or at the ocean’s edge if I stand there looking deep enough.

 

I will remember you, us,

as we are in this moment.

And I will long for it back.

The memory will come with both joy and sorrow.

 

But right now, sweet child of mine,

you have chosen well and I can’t help but follow.

 

Joy it is, as we savor the present sweetness,

these moments of milk and honey.

jane legs

 

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Seeing Glory in the Grind {for the weary momma}

The sky was painted perfect last night. Long, strong strokes of orange swept thick across a soft blue. The tip of the sun lingered near the horizon, savoring the last few moments of day, and we all did the same. Necks turned, eyes wide, fingers pointed.

“Mom, do you see that? That’s amazing!”

The beauty held us there.

That’s the thing about sunsets- they are glorious every time. Typically redundancy chips away at the sacred beauty of something, and awe wanes thin, but the sky? When another pictures hangs, with colors spinning and bursting, it doesn’t matter that I’ve seen it thousands of times before, my eyes gaze wide and my heart drinks deep and I stand with my children like a child again.

I’ve been missing those sunset moments. My house is surrounded by trees, which have a beauty all their own, but they loom tall into the sky and the big picture is hard to see.

I’ve been having days like that lately. Days with trees looming tall overhead in the form of fussy crying and blow out diapers and kids getting into arguments about who got the toy first. Trying days without nights of rest, one morphing into the next without any break in between, and it left me panting. Where’s my sunset?

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So last week my wonderful mother took my older two, and I headed west with my babe. She was finally sleeping. It was quiet except for the hum of the minivan and the occasional sound of the blinker as we turned. When was the last time I heard the sound of the blinker? I unraveled in the quiet and the tears slowly came.

Because some days for us mommas? There isn’t anything left. We have children who need need need. Correction, food, comfort, cleaning, wiping, encouragement, teaching, chasing, pacing, embracing. They are little and act like complete children and babies cry like babies, and it’s all normal and has been happening since the first cry of the first baby. But I can’t help but wonder, did Eve ever have moments like this? Did she ever run for the quiet of a field, that first generation of nature singing a song of comfort to her momma weary soul?

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And after her, the second momma and third, and thousandth and millionth, and here we are the moms of this generation raising the moms of the next, and we are all the same really. Tied by a love that gives all and an overwhelming exhaustion when it feels like all has been given but the day isn’t over yet.

We’ve all had days when spilled milk isn’t just spilled milk. It’s a night with three hours of sleep, a mountain of laundry in the corner and dirty dishes in the sink, a morning of refereeing between two little people, while a baby is crying over your shoulder, and then the milk is spilled. And was it breastmilk? Well then let the floodgates open.

It can feel so unwarranted because the daily grind is a string of smallish moments but if you are one of those moms who just had the milk spilled on top of everything else that goes on with raising children and you want to cry, I get it. I am with you.

After thirty minutes of driving, I parked outside a café and went in, no hands to hold or little feet to direct. Just my baby, still sleeping, snuggled against me in her carrier. I ordered a muffin and something cold to drink and found a table near the window. I ate in the silence of my own heart’s conversation and it felt so good to listen.

Just one table over I saw a mom. She had her children around her asking questions and needing their food cut up. They were all boys, five of them under the age of seven. She handled herself with such grace and patience, I couldn’t help but take it in and let it simmer. I know she has had other moments. Ugly, difficult, hair pulling ones. I don’t think you can make it through triplet babies without shedding a good many tears.

But this moment in the café? Her boys looked to her and she spoke with kindness and I could see they were taking in everything she said like she was the most trustworthy person on earth. It reminded me, this is a beautiful calling. Motherhood is a beautiful, life-shaping calling.

It was enough for me to see beyond my trees and know that the glory filled sunsets are happening. And they are happening for you too, weary momma. Step out from under the trees and take a treasured moment to look at it.

kids on couch

The big picture is this: we are raising the next generation. Mommas we are raising the next generation.

This is huge.

And the days in which we live? It is an all-out battle for the minds of our children.

The world will offer confusion. We must teach truth.

The world will push for selfishness. We have to teach servanthood.

The world will tell them what they must do to be loved. Our children need to know they are loved by the One who paints the sunsets.

 I am convinced that the only way to affectively teach is to focus on being taught. We must hunger for truth in order to share it; to teach servanthood we must first learn to be self-sacrificing and our children will not fully understand the depths of His love unless we ourselves abide in it.

And these things do not happen in a day but in a long string of smallish moments. The good ones and the bad ones, because having the opportunity to apologize and seek forgiveness is not only inevitable but a moment used for good.

I write with my baby girl on my lap. Her name is Jane.

Back in 1926, a momma had a baby girl. She named her Jane. Jane grew and married and had eight children. One of her daughters grew and married and raised four children. One of her sons grew and I married him and together we are raising three.

This cycle of life just keeps going, day by day by day. Jane to Jane.

Grandma Jane was buried the month before our baby girl was born, but she left me with some beautiful words:

What ever happened to white picket fences,

Rose gardens, Prince Charming, happily ever after?

Fences must be painted and repaired, gardens must be hoed and nurtured.

Prince Charming gets tired and grumpy too.

Happily ever after?

The realities of life can be harsh. This is our prayer for you:

Keeping in tune with God’s plan for your life-

Abiding in Him can get your through those harsh realities of life and beyond.

All the way to happily ever after, both in this life and the one to come!

 

Abiding in Him. That is the happily ever after.

Chin up, momma friends. From generations past to generations present, we are in this together.

Life day by day, all for His glory.

Sunrise to sunset.

Aubrie

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Vengeance is Mine {the nursery brawl}

teaI am not typically in the nursery. I am on a rotation with a couple others for teaching the first and second graders at church, so my experience with the group of newborn- three-year-olds has been limited. But I was there that day.

Whoever claimed that all people are inherently good and pure has probably never volunteered for nursery. Or had kids. The things, the atrocities that are taking place before your very eyes just doesn’t support the idea. Pushing, grabbing, screaming, glaring, hitting, whining- this is nursery. This is what pours forth from the cutest little people before they learn to behave otherwise.

My daughter was in the room, off to the side with a light pink plastic teapot. She had her little teacup in the other hand and the tea was a constant flow. Every three seconds a refill.

One of the younger lads noticed how much fun that looked. And can we blame him? I mean, imaginary tea coming out of a teapot, the opportunity to fine-tune motor skills and show the nursery that you too can pour air without spilling it. It’s all just too tempting.

He struggled to his feet and made his way over. It’s amazing the confidence that toddlers have. Really it is. How often do we as adults stay seated and watch from a distance? But nope. Not this guy. Not today. He strode across the room, back straight, comb-over on par, diaper swishing behind him.

He couldn’t voice the words, but we all knew what he was thinking. “Excuse me ma’am, but I believe you’ve enjoyed this teapot long enough. It’s probably my turn now.” He grabbed hold of the spout and gave it a good tug.

And that’s when I saw my daughter smile sweetly and explain that she would be sure to give him a turn.

Her face snarled. She had a good grip on the handle and she pulled it right back. And then? She took that dainty pink teapot and she slammed it down on his head. Bam! And again. Bam! Bam! It was an equal mix of anger and fear keeping that hand steady, like a practiced builder on a stubborn nail. Bam! Bam!

The poor boy’s face, so confident of his plans only moments before, was filled with confusion and dismay, as the teapot that he was supposed to be playing with was now clunking atop his head.

Finally I reached them and immediately whisked my toddler away for discipline. She explained, in between loud salty cries, that he grabbed. He grabbed! The injustice done to her was all she could see. The slamming of the teapot upon his head? That was perfectly excusable. That was her right.

But it wasn’t. A wrong is a wrong no matter what wrongs have been done to her. Being wronged doesn’t ever making doing wrong “a right.” That’s a truth for all of us.

As her mother, my eyes are on her. I am concerned with her character, her actions, and her discipline when she needs it, more so than other kids who have their own mothers doing the same for them.

This little teapot story came up at Bible study last night, and it had me thinking this morning, my Father is like that. He cares for me. His eyes are on me. He is concerned with refining my character and actions, and He disciplines when He needs to because He loves. The same is true for you.

He sees all the wrongs done; He won’t let them slide.

 “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

 “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

He’s so capable. We reach for our plastic teapots, but they clunk shallowly. And all the while, fear and anger take over our own hearts and we hurt ourselves. He can do this all so much better than we can.

I bent down to look in her eyes and wipe her cheeks. “That was wrong for him to grab honey. But you know what you should do next time? Say ‘Mommy, can you help us please?’ And then I will come and help you guys take turns. I will help you handle it. If you choose to hit, then you will need to be disciplined because that’s wrong too.”

God says the same thing. Rather than reach for your weapon of choice, whether that be words or the cold shoulder or thoughts of bitterness towards the person who wronged you, cry out for help to a Father who cares. Trust Him to handle your wrong-doer. Surrender, release.

Hurt people hurt people. Adjective, noun, verb, noun. Hurt people who refuse God’s healing, will in turn hurt other people. And then, like my two-year-old, you quickly go from victim to perpetrator. It’s the cycle of the sin nature.

But oh the hope, we are not chained to this. We can choose life. We can choose forgiveness and release of vengeance. And in so doing, we can spare ourselves from acting out a whole list of wrongs. A wrong is a wrong always. Set the teapot down.

Let it go.

And today? Choose grace. Receive joy.

Aubrie

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Roller-skates: An excerpt from one of motherhood’s longsuffering moments.

It was ninety degrees that day. Ninety. Take a moment to imagine what ninety degrees feels like. It really sets the tone for the story.

Our overhead fan was giving it all she’s got but her blades were turning slower by the hour, trying to spin the humid air around like it was made of whip cream.

I was sweating, he was sweating, she was sweating. The fridge was sweating and my cup of water was sweating. We were all one hot mess.

And just when we thought the day couldn’t get any hotter, Little Miss suggested we haul out the roller-skates. Because of course nothing says perfect roller-skating weather better than hot and humid nineties.

Whatever. I went with it.

I adjusted the size, crammed the feet, looped the Velcro, buckled the sides. We’re talking old school skates; I’m sure we all wore them. Blue, yellow, plastic, Fisher-Price. Or was it Little Tykes? I don’t know. But we finally got them on. Perspiration now running full stream on Mom, big smile on child. {#worthit #pleaserollerskateforhours}

“Uh-oh. Shorts!” She points. There they are on the floor. When did those come off? The dress is modest enough, but she’s bound to catch some wind on these skates.

“Alright girlie, come here.” I wasn’t about to take the skates off; the spandex Barbie shorts would need to make it on overtop.

She clunked her way through the carpet and stood right in front of me. I bent down so that she could use my arms as stabilizers while she lifted one roller-skate, and the yellow plastic was only about three inches from my hot face and it suddenly seemed so obtuse and the leg hole so small. Do we try this? But taking skates off and on isn’t going to be any quicker. One of the many small moments where motherhood puts you in between a rock and a hard place.

I pulled, adjusted, pulled some more. She fidgeted, started to fuss. We both jumped around a little bit. The room temp went up one degree and I could feel my legs salty crying, begging me to stop the attempt of the undergarments over roller-skates in the nineties.

My loose hair hanging down by my face, still bent over benout. And there she was, picture of Barbie princess looking up at me, mocking me with her fake plastic smile. I’m sure she had quite the view with my double chin framing my frown, sweaty face all contorted and upside down concentrated.

“Well let’s see you Barbie… Barbara. Let’s see you in hot and humid dealing with roller-skates.” I didn’t say that but I wanted to.

And then I started to blame the roller-skate designer. Who puts five wheels on a roller-skate? Five! I mean come on, these things are like pizza pans on wheels. Can’t we skate with one wheel? Anyone who needs five wheels should really not be on the rink.

My thoughts kept going. With each passing second, we both felt more of an angst. We pulled harder and faster. Surely she’s going to be late now. She’s going to be late for the kitchen roller-skating party.

Ridiculous thought process, I know. The kitchen roller-skating party would start whenever she made it out on the linoleum. She’s the party. But I had such a hurry! about me. Benout moments put me into hurry mode. Impatient, all kinds of frustrated.

But we finally made it. We did. She clunked her way out onto the floor and froze against the cupboard for about two and a half minutes before clunking her way back to the carpet. Turns out roller-skating isn’t her thing.

And I wanted to hit my sweating head against the wall. AaaaaahhhhhH!

I know every mother has this kind of stuff, the opportunity to be frustrated. Motherhood is full of these moments. I failed that one. I let it spin me up and spit me out frustrated.

And I could blame the roller-skate designer for the obnoxious number of wheels.

I could blame the children’s undergarment designer for not leaving enough leg space for roller-skates. (This has got to be a recurring problem for people; someone should let them know.)

I could blame the weather and our air-condition-less house.

But none of these are valid. Absolutely no one or no thing controls me. No situation forces frustration from me. Everything that goes on inside of me is my choice and under my control. I need to own it.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…” Ephesians 4:1-2

This verse. I need to write it down and stick it on my fridge. If there is anything motherhood needs, or any other walk of life for that matter, it is the ability to walk with gentleness and longsuffering through all of the daily moments. The work of the Spirit is in the ordinary, in our homes. Our children count as “one another” who need to be held in love. Love, of course, includes the tough kind. Bear, persevere, through the long training years with love.

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I am convinced (this is Hine-sight of course, always 20/20 after the frustrated exhale has long left my lips) that the daily opportunity (practice) of lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering and love with our families behind closed doors is a powerful blessing. The opportunity to be frustrated is another opportunity to slay my flesh.

So Today: what do you hold? Limitless opportunity I’m sure, for all of us.

Lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.

Lord be my limitless supply today.

Aubrie

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A moment revealed: Life is a Holy Gift

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Was it the way the golden light streamed gently through the trees? Or was it the sound of her laughter? Sometimes I have to ask myself, because I don’t even know. What was it that made me stop long enough to cherish the fragile beauty of the moment?

I almost missed it. Worse, rather. I almost prevented it.

I feel like that’s so much a part of my role as mom: keep the moments chugging along smoothly and timely. I can hear “Thomas the Train” cheering me along in my head, “They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight, shunting cars and hauling freight. Red and green and brown and blue, they’re the Really Useful Crew…” Sounds so admirable doesn’t it? Really Useful Crew- such a strong and dignified title.

Perhaps it’s time to haul out the embroidery machine and make our own uniforms? We can do it kids! We can be that really useful crew. But alas, anyone who has ever had a child can know I dream in vain. Being really useful (or timely, or cleanly, or focused) is not on the top of their to-do lists. If ever you need a major project accomplished, do not hire a group of two-year-olds. Am I right ladies? They do not show up to the party ready to be useful. Not in the way intended at least.

So before she went running out to the backyard, I reminded her, “Say good-night to Daddy honey, ok? Just say good-night to Daddy then time to come back in.” The clock was ticking, every second a loud reminder that it was well past bed-time. It was one of those summer days spent pool-side; naps and dishes were ditched and for an entire afternoon we soaked it up. Sweet, sweet summer.

But now it’s time for bed. Focus honey-girl. Complete the mission and return to port ASAP.

I stood on the deck, knowing my pep-talk would need to be repeated four times. Slowly, she made her way to the garden. There he was, picking and pruning. She picked a raspberry, then another. “Goo-nigh daddy.” She said distractedly, eyes big and blue on all of the raspberries hanging in reach. I took a step, ready to intervene. Ready to bring timeliness to a two-year-old who has no concept of it. I wanted to chug the moment onto the next, the one where she was in bed sleeping and I was able to start haircuts for the boys.

But then he said something to her and she went running. Arms wide, blonde curls dancing wildly behind her. She laughed. My goodness, is there anything sweeter than the sound of a child’s laugh? Joy, innocence. He kneeled down, she gathered momentum and gave it all she got. Soon two pairs of legs were up in the air, one capped off by big, dirty work boots and one topped with small bare feet, and two songs of laughter filled the backyard and she was drinking in so much love. The sun was setting in that perfect golden way and it all made me stop. Wow. Life is really beautiful.

Wow. Life is really beautiful. Was I really just about to hurry this along? What other moments have I missed today? This week?

She made it to bed that night, a whole six minutes later than originally intended. As I was tucking her in, she re-lived that moment over and over, “I tack-oh-d Daddy! I tack-oh-d Daddy!” Big cheesy smile not coming off anytime soon.

As a mom, I get it. We juggle and organize and keep the schedules rolling, but I encourage you, I encourage myself, just stop and savor life more than every once and a while. It’s beautiful. Life is such a fragile beautiful gift. Stop hurrying long enough to recognize our moments; make moments. Be grateful. A grateful heart magnifies all of the good that is in life presently. Not what could be, should be. Gratefulness, right now in this moment. A grateful heart is the canvas upon which the “wow” moments are painted. Life is a holy gift.

Already it has been almost a year since I wrote this poem, Pigtails, about my precious girl in front of that same raspberry bush.

Time marches on unabashedly; we don’t always have to march with it. Pause and just watch for a bit, your grand love story playing out before you: you are loved. You are loved and He wants your love. Life is a holy gift. Step out of the routine to share that truth. Who needs to hear it? You? Your spouse? Children? Friend?

Make a moment, allow a moment. The important things in life are revealed in these places where we are bent and listening, watching.

-aubrie

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To the mamas and the papas: we labor now.

The big purple fitness ball somehow bounced its way up the stairs today. There she was, all round and inviting. “Sit on me. Just sit on me.” I gave her a sideways glance through squinted eyes as if the less I saw, the less my pelvis would groan.

“Uh-uh girl. I ain’t falling for that. You may look fun and bouncy but I know the real you.”

There is a reason I store it in the basement, behind the couch and under the carpet. I purchased that ball about four years ago. Birthing ball is what they call it. “It helps.” Someone told me that. I don’t know if it was a lady at Target or a customer review on Amazon, but I’d like to speak with them.

After 27 hours of bouncing around the house on that stinking ball, thinking “perhaps if I just get a little more air, a little more momentum, this baby will come flying out,” I gave up. (Sarcasm there. I don’t think it was physically possible for my 40 week pregnant body to reach any elevation above the ground. If anything I was concerned that the ball was looking completely flat.) I kicked that ball to the corner with all the energy a laboring woman has left and made a mental note to write a review. “Ball does not work.”

But after two hours of pushing there he was. “It’s a boy!”

I tried to smile. (Again, with all the energy a laboring woman has left. My smile shows about two of my front teeth and half of one eye open. Thankfully every strand of hair made it to the front of my head for the photo shoot.)

A boy. I have a boy.

I gathered all 11 pounds and 2 ounces of him up in my arms and marveled.

Four years later to the day, somehow that ball made it up the stairs. And that same little boy that I was working so hard to deliver was sitting on top of it, his feet nearly touching the ground on either side, with a mischievous smile spread across his cheeks. His eyes said it all. “Look what I found! Look at this cool purple ball.”

“Oh wow! Look at that cool purple ball!” I said ventriloquist style. Smile in place, teeth clenched.

But as I sat there looking at him, my mouth softened. My goodness what a gift he is!

Labor. OUCH! Hard. Work.

That ball reminds me of labor every time I look at it, but now look who’s sitting on top of it. That labor was so incredibly worth it.

It has me thinking of a labor that I am still currently in. It is far less painful, a thousand times more enjoyable, and a lot longer than the labor of traditional childbirth, but it is still a labor of a childbirth.

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It is in these moments that come along as often as one minute builds on the last. Tick, tick, tick, tock. Suddenly he’s sitting up, then using his chubby legs to scoot around, then tall enough to reach the top of the table with his curious fist.

Soon he’s running and climbing and falling. The tears flow easily, the hugs come naturally, the kisses make it all better.

But days turn to nights and weeks turn to months and before you know it, toddler turns to child. How did this happen? Are you really four years old? And before I know it, I will be saying six, ten, and fifteen. “Are you seriously getting facial hair?” I know that is only a couple blinks away. Time marches on constantly; it never pauses to rest.

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So I invest in these days. I sit down and play Woody (of course he always gets to be Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger) because I know that the day is coming when he won’t ask me to. I set down my phone and look at him because one day he will have a phone, and I will want him to set it down and look at me. I ask him to live life with me, doing laundry and dishes and carrying “big heavy loads” around the house because he loves to do these things! He loves to “work” like his dad. So we find him work, even if it means carrying a pile of sticks from one end of the yard to the other. He looks at his arms while he’s walking and you can tell, he’s impressed. “I am very strong.” He declares.

Much like the rest of his body, his brain is going through incredible growth. His worldview is developing with conversations and experiences, some noticed; perhaps others slip on by like small grains of sand in an hourglass without either of us knowing that a moment just implanted itself in his mind. He might not remember these days in detail ten years from now, but he will remember long enough to carry him to the next day. Days build upon days. We are constantly walking step by step in a direction. One by one by one by one… tick by tick by tock… baby turns into child and child will gradually become a man who will think and act completely independent from me.

This labor is important; I can’t let these years slip away from me under a pile of Facebook feed. This labor, this daily work of raising and training, loving and correcting is passing. Despite what it feels like, it is passing and one day these little shoes that I am tying up now will walk out of this house for the last time. Some day he will start a home of his own. This work is important.

I hope every mother considers herself a missionary. Although your own carpet may not feel like the adventure of Africa or the challenge of the slums, every child under your roof is a person who needs your witness. The mission field is a redundant cycle of seemingly small matters, but large matters are often determined by the smaller ones that came before it.

And honestly there is such joy in this phase, isn’t there? At what other point in life will I get to enjoy these little lives that are so completely hilarious without even trying? Children are the funniest people on the planet, of that I am sure.

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When I was in labor, moaning and groaning atop Worthless Purple Ball, suddenly I heard a noise that had my attention. I scrunched my eyebrows and darted my eyes to the right and the left. What was that sound? I struggled to a stand and waddled over to the door, pressing my ear against it. Laughter. It was laughter.

In that moment there wasn’t a more horrendous sound. I put my fist to my back and leaned back, lifting my sleepless eyes to my husband.

“Issue this decree throughout the household: there is to be no more laughing until this baby is out of my body.” This is a true story everybody, although I can’t recall exactly how I worded it.

But I remember what he said. *cough cough, “Uh… Do you really want me to say that?” I could tell he wasn’t quite sure if I was being serious or not.

So from the depths of dilation I made myself clear. “YES! Yes, I mean it. NO MORE LAUGHING while I am in LABOR!” and then I waddled back to my ball. Labor and delivery in full swing people. No judging my no laughing rule.

I love this memory. It makes me laugh when I am grocery shopping or picking raspberries, in those rare moments when I can let my mind stroll. The look on his face before he had to go deliver my message! The sight that I must have been all disheveled and contracting every few moments. Dead serious while I lift my finger in the air and say, “Nobody can laugh here!” Oh my goodness gracious. That is just ridiculous.

Laughing is allowed now. We are still laboring, my husband and I, to raise our kids with our best effort but it is full of laughter. Not every moment, of course. And not every moment of parenting is executed with perfection. There are many moments where I let my patience slip and need to apologize for it. There are moments when I would rather plug away with a current task than drop everything to properly deal with a toddler style disagreement. I am not a perfect parent, but I am committed and a part of that commitment is taking a few moments to breathe and regroup if I ever pop a blood vessel in my eyeball (another true labor experience). A part of that commitment is plugging (and re-plugging) myself into the source of love so that I can love in His ability and not according to my own limitations.

IMG_2382 (2) (427x640)I am committed to a cause that will stretch its influence into tomorrow, and the tomorrows that I will not be here to see. I genuinely respect this position and all who are in this position with me. And I respect those from generations above who have already labored in this way. Thank you for your work. And to all the women and men currently living this phase of life with all its different stages of development, you are laboring towards a worthy cause. Although it feels unending, one day not far from now you may find yourself looking at a full grown man or woman sitting on top of your purple birthing ball who will naturally hold within him the lessons, conversations, memories, love, and laughter that this phase brings. Keep up the good, hard, important work!

*Photo credit: pic 1- Katie Ezinga, pic 2- yours truly, pic 3 & 4- Brittanie Kerkstra

 

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Major Mom Issues 1 & 2

I remember the day I literally pulled my hair.

I had heard the phrase so many times, I thought there had to be something to it. There had to be something beneficial in grabbing two fistfuls of my long locks and pulling in opposite directions. Milk had been spilled (ya know, the kind that you pump and pump for), baby started to cry after only four minutes of napping, and toddler needed his Mom! Mom! Mom! to help with some sort of two-year-old style emergency.

The leaning tower of dishes was about to come crashing down and with it my sanity…. So I tightened my pink polka-dotted robe, looked around at my crazy and pulled my hair.

Then I opened my eyes. The dishes still teetered, the milk still needed cleaning up and baby hadn’t magically fallen asleep. And as I huffed my way down the hallway, wondering why I seem to be the only tired one after all three of us were up for hours through the night, I made a mental note to remind my husband how hard it is, how much I do, and how exhausted I am.

I call this Major Mom Issue #1. Woe is me: I have the hardest job in the world.

And then there is Major Mom Issue #2: Woe is me: I don’t have a job.

“This is boring. Too simple. Too redundant.” Cherrios, diapers, cleaning, cooking, bottles and books, day and night after day and night. We can go make-up-less for five days in a row. We can wear our hair the exact same way every day or go wild and do something awesome. Either way it’s no big deal. No one is going to notice, unless of course it’s down and then it’s awesome because it’s pull-able. There isn’t any check at the end of the week, or deadlines or exotic out of town business trips (although some could make the case that visiting a mall play area in the next town over could possibly be considered a business trip- you just have to carry your diaper bag like a brief case and it all becomes very official). There aren’t any accolades or nice bonuses on a job well done or even reprimands when something isn’t done. You’re the boss, the secretary and the janitor, all rolled together to feel like one big jobless job. Or, not even a job. One big monotonous, seemingly insignificant life.

grapes

(notice the nice angle that I used to cut those grapes?)

I have heard many a mother relate to one or both of these major mom issues, sometimes within the same breath. Our duties are small and unchallenging, yet there are many of them and it can be overwhelming, depending on what stage you are in and how much sleep you are allowed. They are so simple. So daily. So grinding.

I think God was brilliant in His plan.

He could have made the whole thing different you know. A baby giraffe knows how to run, run, within hours of being born. Kittens are potty-trained by five weeks old, and all you have to do to train them is set up a kitty-litter box. Many animals are completely self-sufficient in only a few months.

But baby humans? Nadda.

They are dependent for a long time. They grow slowly, learn slowly, and take work. That is His plan. That is His blessing.

glasses

(always learning in style over here)

“Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Some translations use the word heritage and blessing. In the midst of completely chaotic moments or days when you feel like you have had to sacrifice everything, become a nobody, in order to raise your “blessings” and everything is feeling less then blessed, dig deeper. Look further.

God’s greatest blessings wrench the heart. They chisel and refine, because we need it. Oh we need it so badly. We are like our two-year-old children in the eyes of our Father. We need to be trained, taught, and then given real life opportunity to be more like Him.

In my life, few things have compared to the blessing of motherhood. It has been a sledge-hammer for my selfishness and a daily grind on my pride. Motherhood provides moment by moment opportunity for me to live by the Spirit or flesh. It gives me the opportunity to speak kindly even when no one else is around and train patiently, knowing that God is doing the same for me.

at table

(sorry it’s blurry- this one’s always moving)

Motherhood is self-less on the outside and it can be self-less on the inside. I think that is what God is really after, self-less-ness from the inside out.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14

“Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it…” Luke 9:24

“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Mathew 10:42

So the next time you are struggling with major mom issue one or two or both, review the first four words: woe is me, I.

Woe… (pity)

Me…

I….

We need to get over ourselves.

Look at what God has called us to! Look at the opportunity He has given us to serve as He has served! Do you think our children’s ten little toes count as feet to wash? Do you think our own children count as “one of these little ones” or “the least of these?”

They do. Your child counts. God has a plan and a purpose and very important works planned for your child. Even right now, God is working through him or her to refine you. He’s giving you the opportunity to be humble when you want to prove to the world or yourself that you can do more.

“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:45

Wash feet. Just wash feet.

Last night I was sitting on the counter with my son playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, when I just had to stop. I took his face in my hands and told him, “You. You are a gift to me.” And I meant it.

Your child is truly a gift to you. A gift that goes deep and makes you sweat.

I write as a fellow mother who understands how hard it can be. I literally did pull my hair. But this is great. This is mega-body-building stuff for my spirit woman. He is with us, walking this kindergarten lane alongside of us, eager to offer the strength to make it through.

And girls, we are here together, and I’m thankful for that.

Xoxo,

Aubrie

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