Simply A Sojourner

Motherhood has given me several hard seasons. Seasons where I found myself at the end of resources, the end of ideas, the end of sanity, and just holding fast to hope in something Greater than myself. Breastfeeding for the first time, adjusting to newborn sleep schedules, toddler stand-offs, potty training, lying and crying on the floor meltdowns (both adult and child), sibling quarrels, and currently first grade spelling and third grade homework.

This month my first born had his ninth birthday. Ninth. Last year in a single digit age, last year I can consider him as a primary grade student. Halfway to eighteen, ninth birthday.

As I have gulped down the cup I have been given, I have thought about my first born turning nine. My thoughts have turned to how my time with my nine year old as his legal guardian has sifted halfway through the hourglass of our time together. And each year seems to pass more quickly than the one before it.

I have left the physical exhaustion of lifting him, carrying him, feeding him and entered into the emotional exhaustion of fighting for his heart. Of listening to him at bedtime when he is ready to talk and I am ready to pass out. Listening as he talks about his friends,  his budding interest in girls, his compassion for others, his frustrations with injustice, his struggles on the bus ride home, and his knowledge about the energy our world uses to keep the lights on.

I’ve pondered how we got here, through the sweet seasons and the stretching seasons. I’ve realized how I want to hold on to the sand in the hourglass of my time with him. I thought about how I don’t want the hourglass to be halfway empty. I want to be present and see our hourglass as halfway full. Full of memories we’ve build together in the bottom, and full of memories to come in the top. I want the time to slow down, my time with him is sifting though my clenched fingers. My time with all four of my kids is sifting away with each moment.

As I have taken a deep breath in and gazed at my clenched hands, God has brought me to a place where I now know, my job as a mother is not to hold on to the sand in our hourglass of time, gripping on to the moments like I have the power to make time stand still. But instead, release the sand I am trying to hold on to in my clenched hands and clasp my hands together in prayer. To let go of the things I cannot control and simply pray for a heart that is ready for the things in motherhood which lie before me and the things which lie ahead. I know I am not the one in control of time or seasons. In the times and seasons, I simply am an agent of God’s love to the things and people He places in my lap.

“He changes times and seasons” Daniel 2:21

Letting go feels difficult because I deeply desire to be the one in control. In the unclenching of my hands I feel God’s invitation to deeper intimacy and trust in the good and perfect plans He holds for me and for my children.

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In motherhood, I am stilled when I think of the sweet seasons and the stretching seasons and realize, I am simply a sojourner alongside my children in each of them. Each season where I find myself at the edge of sanity, I am only passing through. I am simply a sojourner in the season of holding a newborn, a sojourner sitting on the bathroom floor singing songs and reading books about going pee in the potty, I am a sojourner passing through the seasons of tough toddler stand-offs, endless picture books, spelling lists, and children who need my help with their homework.

My hourglasses of time with each of my children somehow are sifting more and more to the halfway mark, we are halfway and we are full. Full of memories we have built with one another as we have sojourned through the sweet and the stretching.

Yes, I am and will always be mom to all four of my children, but how my children need me in each season will always be changing. As simply a sojourner, all I can do is pray that God gives me what I need in the changing seasons, and hope that God is giving my children what they need as they grow into their own unique little people.

He is the Lord over the times as seasons of their lives. I am sojourning alongside as an agent of His love and grace. In the sweet and the stretching I am a sojourner, just simply passing through.

Am I Doing Enough?

 

I know you know the days. The rising, eyes barely open at the first murmur of a child and one tiptoe in front of the other with them down the stairs as not to wake the others. You crack open your Bible over their morning show and digest a few verses before someone else needs you.

You simply pray, “Lord, help me be enough today.” Because those six words are all the time you have to pray.

Then it’s breakfast, teeth brushing, packing lunches and socks and shoes. Kisses and waves for your big kids and then off to cleaning up breakfast.

You almost make it up the stairs to brush your own teeth and comb your own hair before someone else is needing you again. So you rush through your routine to read a book to the one needing you. Then it’s onto blocks, more books and the more fastening up of costumes.

I know you know the days when the clock moves faster than the needs and you feel like you can’t. So you one foot in front of the other are onto making the lunches, sweeping the crumbs off the floors and wiping the jelly off the tables.

And you breathe. You pray again, “Lord, thank you for these moments.” Because again, six word prayers are just about all you’ve got.

You fold and you vacuum, you do what work you have set before you for the afternoon while littles are sleeping and those minutes seem to swoop faster around the clock than the others.

You squeeze in that cup of coffee before the bus comes up the road and you pray again. “Lord, help me be enough for today.”

From bus drop off to dinner is utter chaos and you are barely hanging on. Every creak in the house or drip of the roof sounds like the garage door. You long for your helper to be home. To share the reading, the wresting, the conflict resolutioning.

It’s all a gift but a blur until those tiny babes are fed, bathed, pajamaed and tucked in.

You are thankful for the moments but exhausted and wondering if the Lord helped you be enough today. Because honestly, somedays you just don’t feel like you are enough. You fret and you worry if you met every need and listened to every heart. You wonder if you are caring for those God has given to you well.

And during bear hugs, kitty hugs and good night prayers your son whispers, “Mommy, you are God’s masterpiece.”

And you haven’t showered, changed out of your pajamas, read enough of your Bible or prayed more than eighteen words for the entire day. You feel like you are barely hanging on. But you recognize that to someone, you are more than enough.

Somehow in some crazy way, even though we are barely hanging on we are enough. On the days we feel like we are at our best, at our worst or mostly on those days we feel just like one foot in front of the other.

In Christ. In some crazy way, one foot in front of the other. He makes us a masterpiece to someone, somewhere and at sometime.

He is really making us new and using our daily one foot in front of the other.

I know you know too.

Thank you for passing this on to someone who needs it.

The Last Load of Laundry

There used to be a time when I had my family’s laundry situation under control. I was able to follow the schedule, put the clothes away and keep the bins from overflowing in a manner that felt natural and protected me from feeling bitterness over the bountiful bins of what seems to be a never ending battleground of washing clothes and undergarments.

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But now here in this present time, I can’t seem to keep up with our laundry situation any longer. My bountiful bins are more often dirty than clean and our sock situation has my children buying into the idea that everyday is “silly sock day” at school.

Even this weekend as my husband and I have rallied; I have been faithful to get the clothes in the wash and into the dryer methodically while he has been the precise and ever important folder swooping in to complete the job. Our new weekend rule is if my husband wants to watch a game of some kind on television he must be folding and watching.

Even with our go get ’em efforts and even as we see the end of the dirty laundry coming into view, I realize it will only be moments before another article of clothing will be dirtied and the cycle and balance of the bountiful bins will begin once again.

And again and again and again.

Until (what feels like) Jesus comes back and there will no longer be laundry.

As my heart became discouraged thinking about the eternal cycle and endless bountiful bins, I took a deep breath, a step back and I remembered that every discouraging phase I find myself in as a mom has always simply been a phase.

A moment. A blink. A millisecond.

Just a millisecond ago I was washing 0-3 month baby clothes in Dreft Detergent.

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And a millisecond from now my children can start folding their own laundry while they watch Saturday sports with their dad.

And a millisecond from then I will be back to folding laundry for a party of two once again. Because in a millisecond these precious kids, whom I only have for such a short while will be grown and gone.

So as I anticipated the last load of laundry, after taking a breath and a step back, I found a moment to be thankful for the bountiful bins, mismatched socks and moments of feeling like I am in an endless cycle of wash, spin, dry, fold.

This quote is borrowed from something I saw on Etsy from a Laundry Room sign I want to hang up in my home as an everyday reminder to be thankful for this phase in motherhood of bountiful laundry bins and what seems to be endless cycles.

“Today I will be thankful for all the little socks, the grass stained jeans and the endless piles of laundry. For there will come a day when the laundry basket is empty and these days will be profoundly missed.”

Thinking about a day when the baskets will be empty makes me feel thankful for the bountiful bins today because there will be a day when that last load of laundry will bring grief and sadness instead of relief.

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If you loved this post or connected to my words in anyway would you mind sharing this with a friend or commenting below? Thank you for stopping by.

Rachel

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.

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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