Thursday, October 30, 2014

Every Day Grace

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the 


Colossions 3:23

I carefully extract my arm from under the sleeping baby, her curly head snuggling deeper into the pillow when I gingerly climb over her and tiptoe across the bedroom. It's all about stealth, this covert operation with quiet time as the goal. I'm optimistic, high hopes held firmly by the realistic knowledge that this could all fall apart in a moment. Just one misstep on a creaky stair in our hundred-plus year old home could whisk these quiet moments from my grasp in a heartbeat. I barely breathe as I make my way down the stairs.

It has happened a thousand times before. In some seasons, success is common and I get it, a warm cup of coffee and maybe even a few chapters into the bible before the kids wake up and find me. In others, I give up for a while, so constantly are my plans foiled. It has taken years for me to realize this doesn't mean an end to my spiritual growth, the lack of truly quiet, one on one time in the word. It merely requires a different view.

Growing up, my mom was always telling us to do everything as unto the Lord. As kids, we'd secretly roll our eyes and think "yeah, right. What does God care about my attitude when I'm working math problems, or how thoroughly I dusted the living room? Why on earth would He care that I shoved those clothes in the dresser in a mangled mess instead of intentionally doing it right?"

As with so many of the lessons my parents taught me, this one was slow to take hold in my life. A good thing to remember for me, as I harp on and on about the same things with my own kids and watch as time and again they fail to truly get it. Sometimes these truths we speak are like tiny seeds, hidden deep in the recesses of their hearts until the right time, when the right mixture of maturity and faith allows them to bloom.

Now I take that beautiful gift of gospel truth my Mom taught me and hold it tightly on those days when guilt threatens to trip me up. Everything as unto the Lord means that those babies waking before I crack my bible in the morning is not a missed opportunity or lack of proper discipline. It's the possibility of inviting Him into my life just as it presents itself. Making breakfast for my kids, shouting our daily readings over the din and chaos of wiggling little people. You don't miss out on time with God when you fail to get 20 minutes to an hour of peace. The only missed opportunity is when you believe that your noisy messy life can't possibly be the place He chooses to meet you.

There are good days and not so good days but never a day where I go to bed thinking God didn't show up. Because He always, always does. The days where I feel good and we get everything done and the days where one thing after another fails to go to plan.

A vibrant, rich spiritual life is possible no matter what your day holds. Today I'm remembering just this.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Small Is Big #MindfulMotheringMondays

My house is little. I've written about it more than a few times, usually as our family is expanding and I'm wondering just how we will fit one more person in. I'm always hoping for something bigger, something better, wondering if maybe this will be the year when the stars align and we find ourselves somewhere that makes a bit more sense for a family of 9.

I use it as an excuse for not being more hospitable, which I know is wrong. It keeps a wall between me and others. Instead of extending what we have in love, I hold it close and feel that something that is hardly enough for us could never be good enough for someone else. Deep down I know that it has nothing to do with the state of our space, but the state of my heart. Pride always gets in the way.

This weekend my husband's parents visited. It was the perfect fall weekend full of everything good. On Saturday afternoon I found myself making dinner in the kitchen. The sun was shining brilliantly outside where we had just finished carving pumpkins, pushing kids on swings and leaping into leaf piles. In our little dining room, around our tiny table that hardly seats us comfortably, a game of Apples to Apples was in full swing. In the living room, knitting and pick up sticks and books. All was calm and quiet. All was cozy and happy and I found myself thinking for maybe the first time - that this place didn't seem too small. With six kids and four adults, it felt, if anything, just right.

I suppose that's how it goes. When you start looking around for what you have, not what you lack, you realize that the life you are waiting for is happening today. Right now. Snug with the people I love the most, I can see that we are nothing if not excessively, abundantly blessed.
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Learning To Love Today

I liked her a lot. I liked how her house smelled like rising dough or cinnamon buns, and how she always had a project she was working on. I liked how she knit her way through her kids' schooling every day and churned out homemade gifts at Christmas time. I liked her cloth diapers drying on the line and I liked her valiant attempts at gardening. Yeah, I liked her.

I liked being her. Being that Mom scratching a creative itch every day and turning her home into a place that showcased what mothering joy looked like. I miss her a lot, actually, these days.

For a while after Rosie, I figured it would take me time to find my groove. I picked things up here and there but it never really resurfaced - and the differences between the woman I had been and the woman I was now continued to grow. I wondered - am I lazy? Indifferent? What's my problem, anyway? I loved doing all those things. I loved being that Mom. What changed?

I vented my frustrations to one of my closest, life long friends. "I miss my creative energy. Where did it go?" She spoke truth right to me and I'm still turning it over and over in my mind, amazed at how much it impacts.

"You keep taking on new stages in life without leaving the old ones. It makes sense that you're being stretched in many different ways right now."  She's so right, and it took me six babies to find the truth in it.

I always said adding another baby wasn't an issue. I get babies. I can do babies. Babies are, in many ways, no sweat. Yes there is crying and diapers and whatnot, but I've had enough by now that they don't really drastically change life that much. No, it's not the babies.

Meanwhile, my bigs are getting older. I'm not in complete control of our days as I once was, with all of my littles content to come right alongside Mama in all my plans and dreams. The bigger kids are stretching in their own ways, testing independence and requiring a lot of my attention, prayers, and energy.

This is not an anti-large family statement at all. It's simply fact. The Mama I was with four littles is not the Mama I am with a middleschooler, three elementary kids and two babies (with a third on the way.). I'm a different Mama now. Life is different now. Change just keeps on happening and you'd think by now I wouldn't be surprised. You'd think I'd be able to accept it with grace and find new ways to love where I am today.

I think it took acknowledging the change for me to truly see it, and to find ways to love my current space. Life is a lot more work now, but I love learning with my kids and watching them grow. I love seeing my big kids with the babies and how their friendships with one another are evolving over time. I'm loving partnering with my husband to make decisions about how we want to raise middle school and high school kids and watching us both stretch and grow beyond our comfort zone as we face our own experiences and upbringings and forge a new way, together.

It's glorious stuff, really. Maybe even more glorious than cinnamon rolls. But I'll never know because that's one thing I'll never give up.

Sometimes that Mama comes and visits for a day or so and it's always amazing to see her. But she's only a small part of who I am, growing and changing every day and year that goes by. I'm grateful for that piece of me and for the new ones I'm uncovering every day.