Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True

I remember driving in the car with my husband and my first son, all pink and new, along the windy  road that curved between the open hills and backs of random homes with farm animals in the suburbs. I remember wincing at each bump in the uneven payment, still wounded from the war of delivering the precious gift now tucked snugly in his Graco car seat.

And I remember crying. Tears just streaming down my new mama cheeks. Crying because once our black Saturn rounded that final curve and then three more short turns till home, it would be time to nurse again. Time to let this new-life Noah latch onto his only source of life-giving food--the latch that made toes curl tight with pain that shot my whole body through.

Crying tears of overwhelmed. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of I never knew that this natural thing would feel so unnatural and I really want it to work but it sucks the joy life out of you to do something eight, nine, ten times a day that feels so awful, so awkward.

I remember my husband touching my knee. Not sure what to do. "You don't have to keep nursing," he offered. "We can go get some formula." He was trying to be sweet, give me freedom, reassurance. But this was something I had to do. For my son. For me.

Seasoned moms said that it would get easier. I had to believe it was true.

And true it was.

*   *    *

I think back to that day more than four and a half years ago, and wish that I could hug that new, desperately tired, trying to do right mom. Tell her that she would go on to nurse three boys, each for more than a year, and there would be tender moments without pain and the gift of bonding and nourishment and nurturing would be so very worth it.

In many ways I feel like a totally different person now, different mom. Yet there are new things about my current season of motherhood, raising three boys, 4, 3 and 1, that stir in me that same worn to the bone and at my limit cry because I want to do the very best by my sons no matter the cost but some days I can't help but succumb to the tears because I don't know if the struggles will get better and if all sacrifice will be worth it.

But I'm guessing that in another four and half years I'll know that it was and that it did, too.

Five Minute Fridays over at Lisa-Jo's. Writing on one word for the sake of creative bravery in a community of women who love words and Jesus. Today's word is True. Come check it out.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I don't have time?

He kept running in and out the back door.
"Mommy, come watch me! Come watch me, Mommy. Come watch me!" he panted over and over with no breath in between.
His cheeks were rosy and I could see a golden sweat-soaked lock peeking out from beneath his his fierce blue and black shark helmet.
"I'll be out there in a minute," I told him, trying to muster a little enthusiasm.
But I didn't want to go out there in a minute. Didn't he know that this was Daddy's time to watch him and his big brother ride scooters and bikes and it was my time to clean the kitchen, listen to my soothing Holy Experience piano soundtrack, and enjoy that Jude was happily eating Cheerios and watching me wash dishes while securely strapped into his elephant booster seat?

But the third time Eli's sweet, persistent pleas echoed across the kitchen walls, the third time I grumbled to myself, I don't have time for this, I suddenly (thankfully) had a shift in perspective.

I don't have time to take my hands out of the dirty dish water so I can watch my beautiful boy? I don't have time to give this living piece of my heart a moment of my attention? I don't have time to put aside my charge toward productivity to cherish being present with my family?

I recently wrote about my desire to make my washing holy work. But sometimes following the Holy Spirit means stepping away from the washing to go and be with the ones waiting to be loved.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

She smiles wide each time I see her, not because life is perfect but God is good. She leans in when we talk with eyes that shine understanding, empathy, encouragement, love. She is wise and beautiful in all her years, but counts joy her greatest accomplishment over all the degrees and jobs and accolades.

She's the first one to ever truly care for my heart, to let me lean in deep, pour out all the brokenness and fears, desires and dreams, knowing love and belonging wait on the other side. She never judges or condemns. Just gently leads though listening, careful question asking.

She was generous when she had little and now she is generous when entrusted with much. She's always looking for ways to serve, to lighten the load, to let me know I'm seen. She gives without expecting in return, but always returns gratefulness and thanks for any gift she's given.

She's not afraid of a messy house or rambunctious kids but invites the sharing of life in the midst of it all.

She chooses her friends carefully so it's a privilege to be chosen, called friend, invited into the tree of trust. And she is always trustworthy. She does not gossip or break confidence or say disparaging things behind my back.

She uses her words to breathe life, bring joy, offer hope, show understanding, spur you on toward good deeds, demonstrate compassion, empathy, and daily-doses of God's amazing grace.

She is so very humble--never grumbles or complains about her struggles, never boasts or brags about her strengths. She is a pillar, a rock, a tree deeply rooted in God's truth and love and grace.

She gives permission to be exactly who you are, exactly where you're at. She loves me as I am and inspires me to be more of who I was created to become.

She is intentional. Beautiful.

She is the very best, Jesus-shining parts of ALL the women I am so blessed to call friend.

*   *   *

"On Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend 5 minutes writing on the same prompt."
This post is part of Lisa-Jo's Five Minute Friday link-up. This week we're writing about "She".

Five Minute Friday

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

They fought me on it even though they love it. 
"But my legs will get too tired," one whined.
"But I just want to stay home," the other one fussed.
Staying home would be easier. But on this particular day, I knew getting out would be better, for all of us. Getting out would mean stepping out of the traps we fall into where bickering and frustration make us forget how much we desperately love each other. At home, more rules are broken and patience is worn out until the mama almost breaks and turns on the TV, desperate for some peace.

But there's another way to get peace.

To get out. To breathe deep the fresh air and take in the beauty of all things earthy, green, created.

So I dug deep, ignoring the preschooler pleas for what they thought they wanted and persevered for the sake of what was really needed. 

Forty minutes and twenty-two miles later we were there. The Arboretum welcomed us with its wide open gate and rushing waterfall. The curved dirt paths beckoned us to explore. We wound our way to the "slide tree."

The huge banyan stretching branches to the sky and sprawling age-old roots long and wide and deep across the ground. Nooks and crannies making perfect hiding places. Crevices as wide as bodies creating nature's playground slides.

Lizards scurrying, birds singing, leaves rustling in the breeze. Too many blessings to soak in for children to bemoan their mama's "meanness" in whisking them out and away. Too many blessings for the mama to remember to groan over the friends who couldn't come with, or the tantrums that had to be diffused, or the shoes that had to be baby wiped clean because the four-year-old put his feet in the swamp four minutes in to our out-in-the-world exploration day.
"Brother, brother, come and slide with me!" 

"Wait, come and find swords and dragon tails with me, brother!"
Soon they were exploring in the nearby undergrowth, coming out with dead sticks and beaming pride for their treasures.
"Whoa, that's a BIG one," each exclaimed for the other. 
Smiles stretched wide and the baby squealed in delight and soon was crawling up and sliding down the blessed banyan, wild to be a big boy adventuring, too.

In that sparkling moment of three brothers happy free, I almost felt like that common Arboretum dirt, stuck under nails, smudged on cheeks, caked on knees, was now sacred earth giving birth to childhood wonder and cherished memories.

And as my mama heart swelled with thankfulness for how the beauty and gifts always outweigh the daily-grind struggles, I was struck by this: I don't deserve any of it.

I don't deserve the light and joy and beauty overflowing in these moments. The harmony, peace, delight, and belly-laughter glee I surely have not earned.

I fight God even though I love Him. I fall so short. Yet, He daily picks me up. And gives me what is better.

His mercies are new every morning, indeed.

*     *     *

This post is inspired by Lisa-Jo's Five Minute Friday link-up. Five minutes. One prompt. Unlimited possibilities. So thankful to be encouraged to write by this amazing group. Come join the fun!

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ordinary Beautiful

If you've been reading my blog for very long I hope you know at least a few things about me:


I LOVE my family.

I'm NOT perfect and that's why I need a perfect SAVIOR.

I try to savor each moment,

count each one a gift,

 and choose joy in all things

because that's what we're called to do.

And if you've ever read anything by Ann Voskamp, like her bestselling book or blog, you would probably guess that I also love her writing, her heart, and her joy dare to count one thousand gifts.

Daily I am blessed by her challenges and inspiration to live fully right where I am

Like today, with umpteen hours sprawled out before me and feeling the hum-drum-bummed of daily life knocking at my door to take me out with discouragement and ingratitude for the daily routines of naps and meals and training brothers to trade selfless love for their "me first" and "that's mine" screeching preschooler whines...I knew that I had the choice to ignore the knocks and step through a new door with eyes wide open to find all things joy and grace and gratitude.

"Giving thanks for one thousand things 
is ultimately an invitation to slow time down
with the weight of full attention."
- Ann Voskamp

So while playing outside with the boys, I set my camera on macro and set about to find beauty masquerading as ordinary. And beauty I did find.

Color. Texture. Light. Life. 

Beauty. Blessings.

 "I only live the full life when
I live fully in the moment."

Yes, Ann. Amen! Me, too.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Washing Day

Wash the dishes.
Wash the laundry.
Wash yogurt faces and grimy toes.
Wash three apples, seven carrots.
Wash thirty fingers, one snotty nose.
Wash the toilet from boys' poor aim.
Wash the floor from milk drip stains.

But what about time to cleanse my soul?

All I can see are the caked on crumbs,
green grass smudges and tracked in mud.
But the state of my heart needs attention, too.

The needs visible before my eyes
are the one first attended to.
Yes, they are real needs.
But what about the real needs?
Seeking God.
Following His call. Asking Him to call.

The dishes and the laundry must be washed
so my family can eat, be clothed.
But how can I feed my soul with more Jesus
and clothe myself in more of His righteousness
with all this washing to be done?

Lord, help me to make the work of my hands
a time for your work in my heart.
Remind me each time I wash away a stain
that your blood has washed away each sin.

Yes, the real washing has already been done.
Now it's time to let your presence wash over
me with mercies, peace, and strength
made new each day.

So I will scrub for you.
Make my scrubbing holy work.

For you washed away my shame,
my pain of life lived
without you.
So may I make my washing a way to be
with you,
in you.
Every washing day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Red

Cinnamon apple candle flickering Christmas on the sill above the sink. My editor's fine point felt tip pen ready to wield its power. The bows clipped on my black patent leather shoes during my first trumpet recital. The color my nose turns from bitter cold or bitter cries.

The scarlet lipstick and floor-length dress and I donned for Senior prom. The imaginary bow tying the perfect package of boyfriends, grades, and accolades wrapped up to hide the insecurity, pain, and shame inside.

Wooden beads encircling the 10 foot tall pine tree. Cuts and scrapes and bruises from a banged up, skinned up knee. The hand-knitted beanie made from my sister's love. Tonka dump truck, Duplo blocks, and Fisher Price Barn--the color of imagination, creation, play.

It's love and anger and passion deep and desperate. It's holidays and play days and bringing me back to old school days full of merry cheer and foggy fear. It's the beauty of little boy cheeks blazing hot from running summer sun. It's the heartache of a little heart come undone.

It's the stripes under stars that sing our freedom song. It's the sun glowing low after a mountain hike long.

But mostly it's the crimson gift of blood that covers all. It's God's heart for the world, His Son, His grace to bring us back from the fall.

*     *     *

This post is another link-up with Lisa-Jo and the Five Minute Friday Community, where we all spend five minutes pouring out our hearts over one prompt for the joy of writing without worrying about getting it right. Love it.

Five Minute Friday