There has been such an urgency for me to teach Jesus to my children during this season. I don’t want it to seem forced but I recognize there is a battle going on for their affection…and mine! Sad to say but the agenda for most this season does not include Jesus, the very reason for celebration. How do I convey and demonstrate to my children that it is more blessed to give than to receive? I want my children to know that God is not against us desiring gifts, as I have learned through personal experiences that He delights in giving to His children. However I don’t want them to miss the other part of the story, the beauty and power of giving. To not be consumed by, “I have to have this, gimmie now mindset.” Children (and adults alike) need to understand that they are not disqualified from being a blessing to others just because they don’t have money to a give. I want them to realize that they can give the gift of prayer. So this week I had the older children pick someone they wanted to pray for, and prayed for different things concerning that person each day (their salvation, their siblings, their parents, etc…). I desire to do similar activities through the month such as calling or visiting someone we know is lonely , inviting someone over for a meal, write a special note expressing gratitude to an individual, visiting a soup kitchen etc. I also will not beat myself up and think my kids didnt learn everything they needed to learn if I don’t get a chance to do all the above activities.
I am also trying to be deliberate about sharing the story of the birth of Jesus and how they fit into this story. They can never hear it enough, nor can I. They need to understand that this story is so much more than about a baby being born in a manger. I want them to come to love who this baby became, understand and embrace His purpose; still remember and celebrate Him when the lights are packed away and the gifts are unwrapped. I recognize that sometimes my lessons may be a bit choppy, and the kids may not always be as attentive or as excited as I desire them to be. I may not come close to the cute nativity activities I see on Pinterest but I have to trust that in my sincerity to convey the truth of Christmas that the Lord will take my efforts and do a work in the hearts of my children.
One of the most difficult and sometimes frustrating things about parenting is repetition. It’s easy to feel like there is no progress because you are doing the same things OVER and OVER! The end is nowhere in sight. I clean the kitchen, its mealtime and guess what; I have to clean it again. I wash all the laundry, only to wake up the next day to a pile of dirty clothes. And let’s not even get started with the task of training children. I tell my two year old, “No,” only to turn around to see him doing the same forbidden thing. Constant repetition! However, I recognize I must keep at it or settle for chaos if I choose to stop. If I grow tired of cleaning the kitchen, we would end up eating in filth, and thats if we are even able to eat for lack of clean dishes, If I choose not to do the laundry, my family would be a mess. If I choose not to consistently train my children, they will be undisciplined and bring me shame (proverbs 29:15). SO while repetition can seem unproductive, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Progress is being made!
The same is true for spiritual disciplines. I must not grow weary in repeatedly seekng Gods face in prayer, reading of his word, and regular fellowship with other believers; these habits make me more Like God. The opposite is also true, if I neglect to repeat these practices, chaos is inevitable. I get spiritually disoriented, my anger causes me to sin, I spew out hurtful and harmful words to those I love because I have not been filled up. Lack of repetiton in these areas render me powerless and I am unable to resist the devil (James 4:7). When I don’t spend time with Jesus, My perspective is jaded, I see my children as a burden instead of a blessing. Resentment can build. I become overly sensitive, emotionally unstable,easily annoyed, and have an inward focus (Philippians 2:3-4).
Keep at it, repetition does bring progress, and even perfects!
Take me to the place where I don’t matter. Take me to the place where I am not easily offended. An offense is often present when I think too much of myself…How dare they, do they know who I am? Consume me Lord. Fire of God burn it out. Restore every broken place. Take me to the place where I don’t even notice if I am not noticed! To that place where I am not waiting to hear my name mentioned. TO that place of not caring if I look or talk the part. TO that place where no one, not even me matters, ONLY YOU! God I am so far from that place and only you can bridge this gap. I know that you are not asking me to get to this place on my own, because in my strength it is impossible. You were waiting on me Lord. Waiting on me to desire true humility, waiting on me to be disgusted with pride, my personal pride. God hear the cry of my heart, the deepest places that no one else sees but you. All of you Lord and none of me. Here I am, forgive me.
I’m amazed at how God can create strength during a season of difficulty. I was at the hospital last night visiting Faith (baby # 6) and I had an opportunity to connect with another mom whose son was also in neonatal intensive care unit (nicu). We swapped our stories and the stress associated with having a newborn in the nicu. We were both physically exhausted but God allowed her to see something in me beyond my physical exhaustion. She mentioned that it was evident that I had peace. Here I was physically and emotionally exhausted from running back and forth to the hospital while still trying to maintain some sense of normalcy for the other five children at home, but God allowed this women to see beyond that. She saw something that I couldn’t fabricate. He allowed her to see that He was the one carrying me and that His grace is sufficient . As I encouraged this distraught mom, I in turn began to be reminded of what I knew to be true, God is faithful! I told her of my past experience in the nicu with baby number 5, I told her the lessons I learned, I told her this was working for my good and there was a purpose in all of this. I spoke to her from a sincere place, not from what I heard or read but what I had experienced during my previous seasons of difficulty. I experienced God in a powerful way which birth a greater level of confidence. A confidence that radiates peace even when my body is weary. At the end of the conversation a prayer was said, tears were shed, and hugs were exchanged. I walked away with a renewed strength for the journey because I was reminded.
Difficulty is a thread that has been woven into my life but it has brought such a sweet return. Going through doesn’t feel good, it hurts and yes I have had moments of crying, feeling overwhelmed and being very emotional. I want my baby home with me and not in the hospital . But I cannot deny the beauty on the other side of suffering, and this time around, I am catching glimpses of beauty before the trial even ends. It seems like a contradiction, beauty for ashes? Very true, it’s my reality.
Yesterday I celebrated 9 years of being a mother! It’s been quite a ride. Here I am sitting in a hospital room awaiting the birth of our sixth child. One more to add to the quiver, one more to crown me with the title, mommy! I have been in the hospital on bed rest for the last two weeks (story to follow). I have been in great spirit feeling encouraged but the day before Mothers Day I broke. The tears flowed and sadness overwhelmed me. why? I missed my children. I missed the younger ones slobber kisses. I missed their hugs. I missed the older ones going on and on about what happened in school. I missed their sweet smiles. I missed the noise that is inevitable in a house with five children. I missed making them dinner and hearing, “oh mommy this is even better than the last time you made it, or…this Is yuck, did you use a lot of coconut oil in this?” I missed smiling at the compliments or sternly reminding them they didn’t have to cook it so don’t complain. I missed their attempts at telling jokes and I missed making my laughs at the punch line believable. I missed the whispers and chuckles that I heard at night when they were supposed to be sleeping. I missed them more than I thought I would.
Now before I get carried away with being sentimental and looking through rose colored glasses, I recognize that the tears I cried before Mother’s Day were not for all of the moments with my Five rewards. I certainly didn’t miss the mad rush we have to make to the bus stop every morning while operating like a sergeant in the army. I didnt miss reminding them over and over again to clean up, the fights, the loads of laundry they created. I didn’t miss the way they wait til I get on the phone to try to engage me in conversation. No tears were shed for those moments.
But hey like anything else motherhood is a package deal. And yesterday on Mother’s Day all five of them came to visit me with homemade crafts, poems,sweet words, and slobber kisses. It was a happy Mother’s Day indeed !
Some days I just don’t want to be a mom…HONESTLY! I want to quit cause its too hard, too demanding, too emotionally and physically draining, too much repeating myself, too much giving. Just too much. I want to get back in bed, pull the covers over my head and pretend I don’t hear them screaming “MOMMY!” But you cant exactly say to a one year old go and change your own diaper and leave me alone cause I am tired. What am I to do when everyone is asking me where is dinner and I want to say, “I am hungry too, why don’t you all figure it out and let me know when you have the answer.” Then there is the training part. I have moments of thinking, “God how can I teach my children how to be organized when I cant even remember where I put my cell phone.”
Its in these moments of desperation and feelings of inadequacy that I have to be reminded of the TRUTH. God is not asking me to be mommy of the year. He is not asking me to do this on my own. He is asking me to surrender it all to Him. He is lovingly inviting me to trade my weaknesses for His strength. When I do this, He alone will get the glory from the mighty harvest that comes from me being a godly mother. Ok. Pass me my mommy hat and by the way we are having chicken for dinner tonight.
“…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT