Thursday, July 17, 2014

the death of motherhood

When I became a mother nobody told me about the death that would come with my new life. Nobody told me I would lose all of myself in the trenches of babies and childhoods. Nobody told me I would give all the best of me, only to find the worst of me. Nobody told me how desperate a small breathing human can make a Mama or how broken she can become while building up children for the Kingdom. Nobody told me…maybe because nobody could?

There is no story that will settle in our hearts enough to tell us how it is. We must walk the trenches of motherhood on our own to find the Truth that lies between the building and breaking of one’s old self…for the birth of our new one.

We give and they take…and we die a bit more.

We hold and they let go…and we die a bit more.

We walk and they run ahead…and we die a bit more.

We feed them and starve ourselves…and we die a bit more.

We chase and they run away…and we die a bit more.

We speak and they ignore…and we die a bit more.

We watch and they look away…and we die a bit more.

We cry and they don’t hear us…and we die a bit more.

And after all of our living and breathing and fighting for who we thought we were…we finally just declare death. We lay down our life. All of it.

And by doing so…we declare victory. We pick up our new life, alive and running. This thing called Motherhood is like a sickness that will not end in death when we can breathe this very life through His glory.  

We must lay down our life to gain the one He has planned for us. We must keep giving. For life happens when we die, so somebody else can live. We must keep holding. For life happens when we don’t let go. We must keep walking. For life happens when we are on the path with them. We must keep feeding them…and ourselves. For life happens when we offer the bread of life and take it, too. We must keep chasing. For love can be caught and there is life in that place. We must keep speaking. For life comes from the words of our hearts. We must keep watching. For our view offers life to the unsure and unworthy. We must keep crying. For we find our life when we cry out for Him.

In many ways…motherhood is the death of me. But in the ashes burns a new me. One that couldn’t be seen, until I found life in the place where I laid mine down.  This thing called motherhood… it does not end in death. But by dieing through this journey, I have new life. I have handed mine over to Him time and time again…and each time He hands back another piece of me to be used for His Glory. For the glory of His children. My children. Our children. We gain life, when we die for Him. And we become life-giving Mothers. Risen for Him.

Monday, June 23, 2014

For the day after it rains...

Days and days ago I found myself in a down-pour of life that left me drowning. Soaking wet and weighted down with the storm I was carrying around on my shoulders. Even when it stopped raining... I couldn't find a dry spot to land.

Living knee deep in flood waters can slow a person down. It's when the waters rise too fast and we find ourselves barely keeping our noses above the water line that we start to drown. The first drops of rain are never enough to scare us away. To send us looking for dry land or an umbrella or a boat to keep around... just in case. No, the first few drops usually just get our toes wet and if we've come prepared for wet feet...well, a person can surely walk around the puddles and get to where we are going.

But days ago I didn't notice the puddles pooling around me and soon my toes weren't just wet, but I was walking unsteadily against a current that was working hard to pull me under. And under I went a time or two. Enough to make me hold my breath and hope someone would come with that boat or that life-jacket or even a hand to pull me out for just another breath of air while I stumbled to set my feet on solid ground again.

Even in those muddy, thick...take me down and drown me waters...every so often someone would hold on to me. They'd grab my hand and let me breathe and back in I would go. Swimming, trudging water, drowning, and floating away down a river of hard days...doubt...discouragement...dangerous days that often left me uncertain of my next. It's really hard to see clearly when the flood waters have surrounded us and we don't climb into the boat while our souls are rebuilt.

The rain does stop.

The waters go down.

Dry land can be seen again.

We can not plant our feet on solid ground if we don't stop struggling to swim and notice when the sun comes back out. See that by using our strength to stake our new spot on the little piece of dry land, instead of using it all to just simply keep our heads above water...will better help us survive until its safe to go back.

It's what we do the day after it rains that matters. We can't predict the rain anymore then we can count our days here. Storms come and we find ourselves in deep waters. And we respond and live in a way that finds us surviving instead of outlasting the downpour that has drenched us.

The day after... I've done it so differently in the past. I've panicked. I've refused the life boat. I've looked away from the little island of dry land that could get me through another day well, instead of just getting through a day.

Just a few days ago, I knew the water was rising. Once upon a probably would have taken me with it. But after you drown a few times, you learn that when the rains can jump in that boat and head to dry land. You can stick all your people in that boat with you and point them to safety. You can prepare a place to hang out until the waters go back down and you can all head back home. You can grab that hand reaching out to help you to shore and know it comes as welcome as the sun in the sky after a heavy rain. You can quit swimming. You can float with assurance that your life is always going to find itself in a storm or two along the way. And you can choose to ride it out from the safety of even one little dry piece left over.

When the waters rise, we quickly realize what really matters. We grab what we really need. We save what has value. We carry with us what will carry us on after this day. The day after it rains, we should start with just that. Do what matters today. Grab onto what will make today better. Save what will change our tomorrow. Carry what needs to be held until you can head back once the water is gone. The day after it rains is for drying out...not drowning. Look for the boat before you are too deep to see the shore.

Monday, June 9, 2014

ahead, beside, or behind

It's the beginning of summer. That nudging promise I made back in January is slowly shifting from my narrow focus and drifting some place back to the side of life. Remember when the new year started and we all made new years resolutions or goals or promises or whatever you call them when the calendar says January 1? I remember. Sort of. Most days, some days. It may have been the long winter days that left me time to linger on that new imprint left on my heart...but as the days grew in hours of sunshine and time spent outdoors, I have let life distract me from His teaching to my soul.

Sometimes we see a dream for our-self and it is the people around us that show us how to get there. I wouldn't be surprised if someday when we all are standing before the King that I will look over and see my own people. My cheering section. My bleacher buddies. Because no matter what we set out to reach in life, most every time somebody is walking ahead of me, beside me, or is right behind me. And I almost always can just look up and find a place I can fill in.

Back in the cold Iowa days I took on the journey to find out what wearing love could like for me. It's been no small New Years goal... but perhaps more of a life long journey. New days, new years, new seasons, new places in life... I've yet to find a moment that is not showing me to wear love in a new way. A better way. Penciled in my notebook is pages of where...and why... but it is the how that I have struggled to write in. The "how" often keeps us from finishing the journey. We don't always know how to do what He calls us to. And lately I've learned that sometimes I just need to look around more and watch... For that hand full of people in front, besides, and behind me is usually some where on the how spectrum of doing great things in this life. Wearing love can only be great. He commands it and He models it and He teaches it. Many of my hurdles in life could be leveled if I could only learn the how more often of simply wearing love.

With the gentle summer breeze blowing in after a long cold winter, I have the windows open as well as my eyes. I see those around me. So many of them. Loving in deep, real, honest, and kind ways. I am encouraged to keep writing in the how-to's of this recent life-size dream to wear love well on my journey. I see so much good when I really look up and watch the hearts living close to me. I am inspired to love big and lead just the same. When the imprint fades, I simply only need to look around... for I can not deny the beauty that shines off the many people I'm living with.

I yearn to wear love as my best accessory in life. I'm blessed to borrow it from willing souls. I'm honored to share it as the days go by and the seasons change and the new years pass by. Today I'm reminded to wear love, for wherever I go somebody has already dressed the part. What a colorful life of good people He has created. Look for those around you today. Let them lead you, lead those following you, and brave the journey to love right where you are.

Friday, June 6, 2014

#FMFparty :: Hands

Trying a little something new here. As a reader and writer, I have several authors I love to follow around on social media and through my amazon cart. One of my newest favorites is a Mama...just like most of us. She recently released "Surprised by Motherhood" which you can buy here. Lisa-Jo Baker also hosts a little flash mob, but in writing style, each Friday. It sounds fun and challenging and I'm gonna dance with it this Friday! (Oh, and I would recommend her new book! I loved it and read through it very quickly!!)

If the hands of time could tell their story at the end of my day, I'm not sure I'd like what I sometimes see. We all wake up with the same amount of hours to use in a day. As mothers, we wonder how the hours in the day can be so long while the hours that make the year go always turn so fast. The truth is...I know the dailyness of diapers and dinner and dishes take up my time. I dress the babes and before I know it I'm already warming up the oven for that time of the day when we gather around saying grace and sharing a meal. Those hands move fast, but I take them slow so as not to miss the magic that happens in simply doing this life called motherhood. And some place between the morning and the night I lose some of those moments that tick away with the turning hands that never sleep...

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

If I had to guess, something is stealing your time. We've each been given the hours of a day to live life. To watch the hands of time turn in a way that brings Him glory. We start our day and end our day with moments worthy of His calling for each of us. Even as Mama's we can take the dirty and the do again's and the draining minutes of our day and make them count as our clocks turn and our calendars flip over to new years. The hands of time can tell a story of honor...and strength...and humility...and love...and discipline...and grace...and surrender. Our hands can show our homes that the minutes count and the people matter and what we do is accounted for. the palm of our hands when we choose for Him. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

when grace is born

It wasn't the first time I saw a yes. Two pink lines. A plus sign. Positive. There is a new life coming.

But it was the first time I felt grace come alive in me, born at that moment when I learned I was given a gift for no particular reason... other then that I was loved. Beloved...precious, dearly loved, cherished, treasured, adored. He chose me.

Before the Truth that came with knowing I was a worthy life-carrier, the lie that I was not worthy had woven around my heart. I had struggled for many days to come out of the fog that was leading my life as I breathed day in and day out to be everything I could not live up to. In all my ways as His child, I was lost... losing myself through the trenches of motherhood and womanhood and scared I may not have anything to offer. A heart so in love with my season of life, but so broken to live it.

My seasons were changing and sometimes winter's are long and hard and cold. Some where at the bottom of my worst days, I started to find my best parts. Where roots had grown, branches had sprouted...and blossoms were waiting to bloom. But I found myself buried under layers of winter and the thawing process to spring was long. Lonely. Lifeless. But every tear, cry, and whimper worth it.

So like many winters, I started to prepare for spring. I cleaned out. I sorted.  I planted. I pruned. I prepared.  I paused. I prayed. Some place in all that cleaning and caring, I gave away myself to something new. Something possible. Something alive and each of us. Grace. Spring after winters and life after death. I found it in my ugliest places and came back out with a beautiful new life. The same beautiful that is in each of us. His beauty. His art. His hand in our lives.

The thing is... I am not worthy. None of us are. But I am loved. All of us are. And before I saw the yes, the two pink lines, the positive...I did not know the depth of His love. I did not believe that I just may have a story to tell all of my own... a simple, yet beloved life to share. I did not believe that in my trenches of this season of life that God could use me. Would use me. I felt broken and unworthy and unqualified. He showed me He could use me in all my pieces and put together a beautiful life...a real story...with a willing soul. When I saw that I could give life even from my most dead days, I met grace. I found life. She came through the form of a baby girl and I've carried her in my heart the way Jesus holds us in His hands. Gently and tenderly and always. Spring after winter. Life after death.

From those cold days, I've trusted that no matter where the seasons take me... I have a source of life that can always bloom. I have a life that is made for Him and from Him. Even in the trenches, we have something to offer. Thanksgiving.

He chooses us. You... Me... yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He gives grace to His beloved and we live it through thanksgiving. Today I count them again... my gifts. I offer thanks and I trust I can do even the smallest things for His glory. So very thankful for that baby girl that speaks life today and celebrates one year and reminds me that we are each chosen. We are each beloved. We are each here to write a story... His story.

Happy 1st Birthday, Savannah Grace...

Friday, May 9, 2014

When you're expecting...Mother's Day.

When Mother's Day arrives in just a couple days it is easy to head into it with the best expectations. Whether you are a time with the kids or a time without the kids gal, expectations will be what meets you first thing in the morning when you open your eyes to Mothers Day. It's almost as if the day changes what happens the other 364 days of the year. Surely, today...Mother's Day...will be different. 

The day we become mothers we not only deliver our children, but we give birth to His plan for us to become more like Him... by loving them. Being a mother is the closest thing to understanding God's gift to us... a son. A sacrifice. A send forth of the best of us. Even when we're the worst. 

And for 364 days of the year we love in ways we didn't know we could...until we were mothers. So when Mothers Day arrives, we expect those we've died for to show us just how much all this trying and holding and giving away and molding and making and forcing and bending and lifting and carrying and running and bearing to be noticed. To be seen. To be felt. We want to be known. I want to be known. 

Someplace between birthing day and this Mother's Day coming up, we have exchanged the pains of labor for the pain of giving ourselves away. Some days we've given until we have nothing left. We've broken off more than can be repaired just yet. And we hurt to become more like Him. On Mother's Day, we expect them to see. How very much we are breaking as we find our way as a mother.

In all the days that we live as mother's, these souls that we carry on our backs are really carrying much of my weight. They take and I give and I know this pull between us is me not only giving them what they need...but giving me what I need, too. All those stretch marks that come with growing babies actually leaves scars on my heart from growing me along the way.  I've been my worst version of myself as a mother. I've been my best version of myself as a mother. For all the moments that make up a year I have given until I've broken. Mother's fix things though. When I have broken, it has only made me stronger. And I give again. Better. Stronger. More like Him, less like me. 

I have woken up before on Mothers Day with great expectations. In this season though, I wake up simply grateful to be...a mother. For all the giving of my time, my energy, my heart, my sleep and my first bites of pizza... I would do it all again to be their mother. I have labored far long after the delivery room and for every day of the year around Mother's Day, I am forever grateful for what my children have made of me. 

This Mother's Day, I am not expecting. I am doing what us mother's always do... give. Give to your kids. Give to your husband. Give to your own Mama's and the gal down the street who gives as if she is your own Mother. Give to the ones who want to be mothers, but can't. Give to the Mom's who nobody sees. Give to the women who have mothered your own along the way. Give to the hearts that have carried the souls, but no child here to show for it. Give to the Mother's who can't give themselves. Be a mom. Give.

What we should love about Mother's Day is that we simply love being a Mom. Expect nothing more. Because we work for an audience of one, no matter how many children call us Mom. We give for reasons that shouldn't need flowers and dinners out and fancy watches. We mother for Him. And to Him we matter. We're seen. We're loved and known. 

Wake up Sunday morning expecting to love, just like all the other 364 days of the year. Our best gifts simply call us "mom". 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

simplify to love

Ever feel like you want to do something, but you can't...because you have "too much stuff to do"? I have too often wanted to do a few somethings, but didn't because my "to do's" were piled so high I just felt paralyzed by it all. So instead I did nothing. When I continually heard over and over to clothe myself with love, I knew it was a "something" I couldn't ignore. But the depth that came with that little task overwhelmed me.  I needed to break it up into a bunch of smaller pieces. I decided to start in small areas in my life and work my way through my list of places I could wear love better around in my life. Oh boy, there are many...

One of the first places that made my list and where I wanted to wear my home. 

I wasn't sure where or how to start here, but I knew that the things of my home often kept me from loving the people of my home.

I have been a slave to the things of this world too many times. I fall into a cycle of confusing my needs with my wants. It usually finishes with me being empty in the heart area and full in my responsibilities area. A closer look will show you that by buying, collecting, consuming, hoarding, having, and getting things will actually only empty a home. Not fill it. Home is where the heart is after all. When you walk through my front door, I want you to feel full of life...full of love...full of time to sit and be home with us here. And I don't have time enough to even open my door and let people in when I am spending all my time trying to keep my home up. 

Realizing I was a slave to my things felt ick. Really ick. Especially when I knew that too often I had spent time either gathering things for my home or organizing my things in my, sorting, picking up, cleaning more, and keeping track of what filled our life. Things. Stuff. And then as if a light-bulb went off...

I realized life would be lived better and I could love better if I had less to take care oversee. 

This is where my deep desire to simplify my home started. I wanted home to be manageable in a way that gave life to the ones in it and not pulled away from their soul when they settled here. To breathe life and love into people in my home meant one thing. Simplify.

Simplify what surrounded us. Simplify what we did here. Simplify how we lived here. Simplify what we used here. Simplified the stuff so we could surrender to love in a way that He calls us... love. Just love.