Unraveled Motherhood

Hello. I am glad you are here. I’d like to forward this post with the obvious message that I am not at all a baseball player and I know very little about the game. I am simply a fan of baseball but other than that I am very unclear about how this post began to lend itself to baseball analogies. I don’t even think I played t-ball as a child. Maybe it’s living most of my life in the two greatest baseball cities, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Or maybe it’s all these sons I have starting to love the great game.

If you aren’t into baseball analogies I write other things too.  Please stop by my about page, check out some of the most shared posts on marriage, parenting or faith and connect with me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or by entering your email in the box to the right. 

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I had the best intentions when I started out on this journey called motherhood seven years ago. Really, my intentions for my own personal journey of motherhood were good and perfect from that first moment when I recognized that relentless first trimester fatigue that sent me into a drooling 5:30pm nap was actually a baby and not in fact narcolepsy.

In those early days of hopeful motherhood I was pregnant with a child but also pregnant with expectations. My husband was finishing up seminary and I was a first grade teacher. As parents we would be a teacher and pastor combo with a double dose of extroversion. If I was the order and schedule, he was the life-giving fun and kindness. I believed we had this thing totally in the bag – like motherhood for me was going to be a walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth; an easy swing that may even leave the crowd cheering, impressed and talked about for days on the highlights reel.

I really had the best intentions of knocking this thing called motherhood right out of the park. But on the journey of motherhood I have learned that my eyes for the fence and my longing to impress the crowd with the appearance of good intentions really were keeping me from what I had coming right down the middle and in front of my eyes.

My swings became misses and not anything to talk about the next day or even something that was tweet worthy. I had eyes for that walk-off-homer when I should have just been focusing on making positive contact with the ball I had right in front of me; focusing on making a small advance in the right direction to first base. I had big expectations clouding the clarity of the simplicity of one day at a time.

My big rookie dreams of swinging for the fence were well intended but I had forgotten about the simple basics of the game.

Motherhood is HARD. <In all caps> H-A-R-D.

No matter who I thought I was, what kind of swing I thought I had, or even if I happened to have had good coaches and models; motherhood has brought more curveballs and wild pitches than I ever could have dreamed of. And with eyes for the fence and a heart to please the crowd I have found myself constantly striking out.

I’ve had to unravel my expectations for what kind of mother I had built myself up to be in my head and focus on the mother I really am and the children I actually have in my lap.

I’ve had to say to myself, “Rach, you may not knock it out of the park today but you can breathe, make contact and take today as it comes. Watch for the curve and adjust your swing.”

I’ve had to remind myself that being ready for the curveballs and wild pitches has little to do with your aptitude, post-grad degrees or upbringing and actually has more to do with how well you can deal with what is coming at you under pressure, how well you can focus on what is being thrown at you and how much better you can forget what you thought you were suppose to do, change your stance and hit the pitch you have been thrown the best you can.

To stop aiming for the fences and take this thing one base at a time. Sure it is exciting to see a walk off homer every once in a while but the game is really advanced one base at a time.

I am educated, my husband is educated, we love our kids with a crazy email writing to the teachers level of love.

But when I (I really don’t want to speak for the hubs) rely on my know-how, the how-to books and the expectations I have for our four children the curveballs frustrate me.

When I have eyes for the fence in motherhood I notice I am more irritable, more frustrated and less satisfied in the things God has placed in my lap and declared so beautiful and so wonderfully made. 

So I fight to forget about that fence.

To forget about who I think I am trying to please.

I remember I am a rookie.

I remember I have an amazing team on the field with me. My husband, some bloodline family, some “adopted” family from my community in my church and a God who promises to be at work in me, who pursues me when I wander back to my lofty expectations and who has been faithful to remind me when I focus on what is right in front of me, that is enough.

I remember to give myself grace and I watch for the curve.

I remember making contact is enough.

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It’s really the focus and consistency no matter what is coming at them that make a true player great.

I am learning, seven and a half years after feeling that relentless 5:30pm fatigue that motherhood is not at all about what kind of mother I thought I’d be.

I have had to unravel those aiming for the fence expectations I had for myself and rest in simply making one step at a time contact.

I am just like everyone else. Watching for the curveballs and hoping to get on first on a good day.

Unraveled motherhood for me is letting those big expectation threads I had for myself fall away and realize who God made me to be and is making me to be is enough for the journey.

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And, thank you for making it to the end of this post. We have been crazy here in this house living life with four kids under six. My goal is to be a blogger in process and not leave things all pretty and finished and solved.

If you liked this at all it would be a great encouragement to me if you’d positively feedback by way of sharing on Facebook, Twitter or commenting below. Cheers and Thanks.

Unraveled Church

It feels strange to learn how to “do” church while your husband is in full time ministry. For some people it feels strange to “do” church at all and to others “doing church” feels like an old perfectly broken in baseball mitt.

For me it feels like I have the old cozy baseball mitt but my hand just hasn’t settled into those comfortable places yet.

“Doing” church is something I am still learning to do. And this is where God has me.

There was a time when I would try to settle into those comfy spots like a stepsister forcing her way into a glass slipper. Forcing my hand to make it touch every contour, nook, cranny and seam. I believed if I could just do it better or try to make it fit harder maybe then the doing of church would feel more comfortable.

And then there are times when I haven’t even felt like wearing the glove at all. I saw the glove and I knew my hand didn’t quite wear it well so I hid behind pride, behind shame and even behind the pointing the finger of blame.

The root of pride that I was just too different.

The trunk of shame from who I have been and what others have said about who I am.

And a branch of a pointing finger which bore the fruit of blaming others for a perfect glove which wasn’t quite snug enough.

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And now I realize, ten years into being one with someone who is called to lead God’s people in God’s church, that doing church or learning to do church is simply a process. It is a constant unraveling of  what you thought you knew from who God is calling you to be. Whether you have a brand new glove or your glove is cozy and your hand feels like it fits every cranny.

Everyone is in the process of learning how to love Jesus more and love their self less.

And God has me in the process of learning how to do church. A place where I know my hand isn’t quite settled into every cozy place and I am okay with that.

I don’t feel cozy in my glove when I sit in the front row on Easter Sunday and one of my handsomely dressed children is eating their boogers. My pride still has me finding my worth in how we look sitting there in the front row.

I don’t feel cozy in my glove when my husband doesn’t share a story just right from the pulpit and the expression on my face shows it. My perfectionist self reveals it’s rolling eyes and my wanting to control rears it’s ugly side.

I don’t feel cozy in my glove when we are adjusting to a service which is thirty minutes earlier and with four kids we seem to be walking into worship late and with wrinkly slacks almost every Sunday. The soil of acceptance and my need for others to see me as “shiny and freshly pressed” seeps into my pridefully drenched roots. Sometimes my heart finds it’s worth in freshly pressed pants.

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It is only when I can undo what I have already wound up tightly, unravel what I thought I knew from what is true and start with feeding the roots of myself with faith and belief… this is where I can find freedom.

Dependent roots grounded in the gospel of truth which remind me that yes, I am different, but I am also uniquely knit together and wonderfully made, called specifically to be in the front row with booger eating children for a purpose I don’t quite know the meaning of yet.

A trunk of fresh bark, firm and strong by the Word and His power which reminds me that in Christ, I am a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come and I am more accepted and loved in Christ than I could have ever dared to dream of.

And branches that don’t bear fruit of blame and pointing fingers at others when I don’t feel like I fit in but instead bear fruit of love and service because I realize unraveling this idea of doing church is not at all about me, or anyone else around me. When I pull back the threads of pride I can see clearly that church is about God and calling people from all different backgrounds to love and serve Him, no matter how well the glove fits, in the name of Jesus.

When I recognize that my biggest discomfort about fitting in and “doing” church well actually has mostly to do with my pride (myself) when I point that branch back at me, it is there when I can wear my glove more comfortably.

Even though I haven’t quite completely grow into it yet.

It is there, when I unravel what I thought I knew about doing church from my pride and unbelief that I can be comfortable with just being in process.

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It’s not about shoving like a stepsister. We all desperately want the glove to just fit better but instead we should be learning to be more comfortable in the places that don’t quite yet fit. This is where we find faith and belief. This is where we trust that God will grow us in the ways he needs us to grow, in His timing.

We are loved when our gloves don’t seem to fit, our kids eat boogers and we are running late with wrinkly pants.

I will grow into the coziness of the glove in God’s good and perfect timing. Being in process of doing anything is a good thing. God is good and He is at work, we need not shove. He is able to grow us into our gloves even without our shoving.

I am a pastor’s wife, learning to “do” church. I am in process and I am okay with that.

The Crumbs On The Countertop

I am not proud, but there have been moments in my Christian life when I have cried over the dust on my baseboards, the spills on my carpet and the crumbs on the countertop.

Cleanliness is next to godliness and serving a God of order where my favorite things to say about keeping a tidy home.

But something has happened to me.

I thank God because He is before all things and in Him every single thing holds together. Even those tiny crumbs.

What happened to me is something I never would have imaged could happen to me. What happened to me was something that happens to a lot of people, I simply had my fourth child and now I do not have time to care about the crumbs on the countertop.

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I saw the crumbs on the countertop just this week and then the dust on my nightstand and the piles of folded laundry sitting out in the laundry room left sitting out and not put away.

I noticed the meal planning board with it’s good intentions but meals which were never made.

I tried to figure out when my life started to unravel from my idol of order and it all comes back to having that fourth child.

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I thought about my love of the order and cleanliness and then I thought about my kids. My three sons and that fourth child, my only daughter.

Yes. I am overwhelmed by the constant need for me to tend to something.

But I am thankful.

I am thankful for the gift which God has graciously given to me in having a fourth child.

The gift I needed, where I came to the end of myself and my abilities and ultimately all I had was dependance upon something much Greater than me.

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That fourth child, in all her lovely wonder, pushed me to a place where I found the end of myself and the need for a God who is before all things, and in Whom all things hold together.

That fourth child has given me the greatest gift. The realization that I don’t need to have every crumb wiped up and every baseboard completely dusted. The realization that every single moment will not be picture perfect and my hands are more full than I could have ever dreamed.

I see the crumbs on the countertop and although they still make me a tiny bit crazy, thanks be to God for helping me see the other things around me which are more important. The lives He has given to me to love and care for and the ability to let go of the spills, the crumbs and the dust.

That fourth child has helped me see that loving, caring and tending is greater than cleaning or dusting or tidying.

Thank you God for that fourth child, for bringing me to the end of myself and for finding a place where it is not me running this ship, but You, You holding it all together and graciously showing me the way.

Thank you God for the gift of seeing crumbs on the countertop less and being involved in the lives of my children more.

I couldn’t have come to the end of myself without the graciousness of God. I am thankful for that fourth child. Abundantly. Even if I can’t keep the order around here like I wish I could.

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If You Think You May Have Married A Crazy Person

I know it crossed my husband’s mind a time or (let’s be honest) a dozen times when we were first married. I know in our first months of matrimony he looked at me more than once like he did not even know me at all.

The first time was perhaps when we were fighting about something really good like how long an unused glass should sit on the countertop. My husband would say an empty glass could sit on the countertop and be refilled again for further hydration purposes throughout the day and I am more of a “as soon as it hits the countertop I am swooping it into the dishwasher” kind of gal.

One of these first fights had us both pretty heated as we were both just learning the dance of communication in marriage.

Literally while I was firmly speaking about all the times he had left his glass out with hands going in all directions my sweet husband sat down on the couch opened his Bible and motioned me to sit next to him. He started reading the scriptures to me and I think my head started spinning like the exorcist lady.

I gave my husband my evilest of teacher looks and I growled, “YOU GET THAT BIBLE AWAY FROM ME.”

Call me a horrible Christian or call me human but I did not want to hear the Word of God in that moment.

This may have been the first little appetizer of my insanity and the first time my husband may have thought he married, for better or for worse, a crazy person.

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The soup and salad course of this dazzling crazy person meal would probably have been the time he brought a buddy home after seminary class while I was at work without telling me. When he brought me home that afternoon and mentioned the great time he had I FREAKED OUT because I had not cleaned the toilets that morning.

The entree was most likely when I had my new husband take me to the emergency room because I believed I was having a heart attack. I was twenty-two and generally in good health but on the way to the hospital I was panicking about quadruple-bypasses.

The dessert course was most likely the other argument we had about glasses on the counter and he asked me if we could pray about it and I said “Sure, you pray out here in the living room and I will pray in the bedroom.” And I fell asleep instead of praying.

And this was really me.

I was really married to my husband and I was struggling to believe truth, hear truth and walk in truth.

And I was really hurting.

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My husband loved me though it.

He may be the only person that has truly seen me in the worst of times, the craziest of times, and loved me through the crazy.

And at times our marriage has felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride but my husband has fastened his seatbelt and committed not to unbuckle and bail when the bumps and hiccups feel like something he didn’t sign up for.

“Human sin is stubborn,” says Cornelius Plantinga, “but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way.”3 Stubborn, persistent, unrelenting grace that changes us. Now that’s good news indeed.”
― Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say “I Do”

The beautiful thing about a marriage founded in the gospel is Michael and I both are not committed to the person who we see sitting in front of us right now in this present moment. As husband and wife, we are committed to the wretched mess being sanctified only because of the power of God working in us. And we believe that God isn’t finished with us yet but working in us until we reach our full potential and beauty.

So if you are in a Christian marriage and you are contemplating whether or not you married a crazy person…

Cling to the truth that the icing on that cake is coming and one day, God will perfect us with all the endless truth and beauty freely offered on Christ.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

He is able to redeem the crazy person and give the crazy person the gift of grace of being known and loved.

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You Are My Sunshine

There was a time when I couldn’t sing the song, “You Are My Sunshine” without crying. Somewhere near the part about taking my sunshine away, the tears would begin to blanket my eyes, the tears wouldn’t fall but the blanketing tears were present, enough to blur my vision and remind me of grief.

With my oldest it as been difficult to sing the song so, for years, we have been exchanging phrases while I hoover over his bed…

you are my sunshine…

you are my daisy.

you are my warm summer day…

you are my giant ice cream cone.

For a long time, I haven’t been able to sing the words “you are my sunshine” to my oldest child. Too many blanketing tears would come to blur my vision.

Tonight was different, tonight, I made it through a whole diddy of you are my sunshine with my youngest son without the blanketing of tears. At the end I whispered to him, “you are my sunshine.” and I looked right at him with pure eyes and a happy heart. (In return my son half sleepily said, “you are my poopy butt diaper.” I giggle because in a strange way he is being affectionate and silly.)

But tonight, I made it though a whole diddy of “you are my sunshine.” That is progress for me and this is the moment where I can see the hope of moving on shining brighter than the dark nights of hovering phrases and blanketing tears. The time isn’t healing my wounds but Jesus is. He is binding them up ever so carefully and making me able to sing sweet songs to my kids over their beds in the darkness.

He is gentle with His love and He is patient with my grief.

“Love is patient, love is kind.”

I remember my mother singing that song to me. I can still hear her voice, her voice sounds just like the voice I have grown into as a woman and as a mother. It hurts my heart that she is not here and my kids can’t know her, but God is finally moving me to a different place in my grief. With Jesus binding the hurts and God renewing me, I can see that my kids knowing my mom simply comes from my kids knowing me.

My mom lives on in my songs.

My kids can know her through knowing me. 

I am her sunshine, so my sun is beginning to shine bright in the darkness of grief.

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