Follow Your Breath

I do yoga sometimes. I love it. Sometime late last fall, I decided yoga needed to be a part of my self care regimen, especially with the impending winter. I’m not really strong enough to do anything impressive in the yoga studio, but I do love it, so I go.

A younger, more rigid version of myself might have rejected yoga as new-agey and spiritually questionable. Because, well, I knew everything back then. The older I get, the less I seem to know, in some weird reversal of how the world should work. I will admit that it’s also more peaceful this way.

Anyway, I was processing my spiritual experience of yoga the other day, and I landed on a concept that I just loved. One thing the instructor says throughout the practice is that your breathing should always lead your movement, and not the other way around. “Follow your breath,” she says. As we stretch up in full salute or bend at the waist in full fold, our deep, steady breaths should be the driving force.  It is a mindful and intentional movement, slow and purposeful. When I really bring my whole self to my yoga mat and take the time to follow my breath, it is beautiful. It’s certainly different than the harried woman I find in myself during lots of my daily activities.

I think the rest of my life needs to be more like this kind of slow, purposeful, mindful, breath-inspired yoga movement. I need to take more time to slow down, be more aware, be more awake, and let my actions flow from somewhere within me. Too often my days are ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. There’s seemingly no time to be led by my breath or to ensure that my actions are coming from an authentic place within me. This mindless busy-ness seems like a haphazard way of doing life.

Lately I’ve been a good deal more introspective than usual. I’ve been reading a fabulous book by Brene Brown and doing some good, healthy soul-searching. My extroverted self is not so prone to this type of quiet and somewhat difficult growth, and somehow I feel so grown up in the midst of it all. And I like it.

More specifically, as a Christian, I think this breath concept from yoga is giving me a really wonderful picture of what it means that “all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:14) I have to admit that sometimes the role of the Holy Spirit in my daily life feels a little elusive. He’s sort of mysterious, I’ll admit.

Being led by the spirit is, I think, like being led by our breath in yoga. When we slow down and let our breath do the leading in yoga, it brings purpose and mindfulness to our movements. When we slow down and let the Spirit do the leading in our daily lives, we have more potential for moving through our day with purpose and grace. Instead of rushing from one task to another, I can breathe deeply and consider what God might have for me in that moment. Sometimes I might even feel drawn by Him to something specific- to call a friend, to ask for forgiveness, to notice His creation, or to simply slow down and enjoy something.

Today I’m taking longer, deeper breaths. I’m listening. I’m slowing down. And I’m letting my movement follow my breath, the Spirit, instead of haphazardly running from one activity to the next. And even though I might *know* a bit less as I age, I’m thoroughly enjoying the fact that strangely I’m learning more and more all the time.

We’ve Still Got It

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to a rehearsal for an upcoming show entitled, Moms: We’ve Still Got It! Basically, it’s a diva review filled with a wonderful variety of songs, dances, and laughter. I, along with an amazing group of other mom/artists, will “celebrate motherhood, strut our stuff as women, and rock the house as artists” (as per the event description). And like I said, that Saturday was our first rehearsal! Yay!

It was a little dicey on whether I would make the rehearsal, though, because the great Stomach Bug of 2016 descended upon my household on that Friday, just after we arrived home from our road trip through Canada (that harrowing story a few posts ago!).

About 5 a.m. that Friday the oldest started throwing up, and after that the toddler was exploding in other ways. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. Suffice to say, we were a ragtag bunch by Saturday morning, but they all seemed perky and better in time for rehearsal (read: they were screaming and chasing each other around the house/ I was going a little crazy). I checked with the director of the show who said she thought it would be fine for me to let the kids come watch a movie in the corner while we worked. So I got brave (crazy? It’s a fine line), and loaded them up.

When we arrived at the venue, there was another sweet little girl there who belonged to mom/artist friend. Gulp. My friend assured me that she had already heard the situation and that it would all be fine. So I breathed a little and got to work rehearsing some of the numbers I’m in for the show.

After a bit of time, most of the women involved were gathered on the stage to work on one of the big group numbers. It is what I call “The Big Bossy Diva Number.” It was going swimmingly well until I noticed a white trail of something underneath my toddler, which he was proceeding to stomp and grind into the carpet. Hey parents, you know what the inside of a diaper looks like when it gets too wet and explodes? Like it’s snowing some kind of weird plastic gel? Yeah…

So there I am, practicing with a big group of incredibly talented women for the Big Bossy Diva Number, and there is my child …leaving a trail of diaper innards. I bolted over and picked him up, only to have the diaper explode down his pant leg and onto me and into his boot. I was flaming hot with embarrassment.

So I put him down right there by the stage per a friend’s suggestion, while one mom ran for a trash bag and yet another mom ran for the vacuum. Practice continued while we changed him, which was significantly more difficult than it sounds because that white gel stuff clings to skin, and vacuumed the white diaper innards. He ran off happily to play, oblivious, in just a sweater and diaper. And I tried to cobble together some of that elusive diva energy to finish the songs, shaking my head and laughing and wondering what “it” was that we’ve still supposedly “got.”

I survived it, largely due to the fact that every single woman there was herself a mom, and everyone either pitched in to help or offered support or humor which gave me the necessary grace for the moment. There are other friends in town who have offered other forms of grace- Pedialyte, Vernors and Saltines (the Michigan cure), groceries, chocolate covered bacon (!), flowers, hugs, encouragement, and prayers. So when the middle child, the only formerly healthy child, started throwing up the next day, I just laughed and rolled with it, and I asked yet another friend bring me Pedialyte… the third supply. I have been utterly overwhelmed recounting the sheer number of friends who showed up for us that week, and who always show up for us. Hubby, who was in Japan at the time, told me I needed to write this down for myself so that I can use that reminder next time I feel lonely. Which happens even to me, an avowed extrovert, because Michigan winters are long and grey.

I think the rough weeks are often when we really shine for each other as community. I mean, the good times are obviously welcome. I’m thankful, beyond thankful, for how smoothly life can roll along at times. But honestly, the rough patches are where we as humans seem to do a better job at showing up for each other. Maybe it’s because we see a need we can fill, whereas in the easier times we don’t feel quite as useful. Anyway, I agree with the proverb that says “a friend loves at all times, and a brother (sister? ;)) is born in adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)

Sometimes it just goes like that, when every little thing goes crazy or wrong or ridiculous. In the aftermath, I pondered that phrase: “we’ve still got it!” And while yes, I think we are all still artists and rockstars, I think we also still have something that is even more important: each other. We have our sisters, by birth, and by friendship, and in Christ. On many occasions, we can have the privilege of meeting each other’s tangible needs. And today I’m thankful for that.

Acquainted With Grief

Yesterday I had a horrible, no good, very bad day.

My oldest had decided to fight an epic battle of the wills with regards to his willingness to attend school. My youngest has had diaper rash so bad that I think it has scarred him emotionally and causes him to kick and scream like a maniac, making me the target of his fury. My middle had a field trip that shortened his three hour school day by over an hour. My husband had a 730 morning meeting so I was solo. And it was snowing. It is April.

To use the extra hour, went to Starbucks again. Because those little cups are so adorable, I don’t care if the kids are covered in chocolate for the rest of the day. And then I cried on the phone to my mom. I cried on the phone to my friend. I cried when I randomly bumped into a friend.

Some of those issues were worthy of some tears. But here’s what was really bothering me. A year ago, I was losing a friend to cancer. And this year, in the same month, I’m preparing to help direct a staged reading of a show entitled “Starting Monday,” on Monday April 18th. The show is a beautiful, hard, deep, long look at a friend walking through losing her friend to cancer. I can’t make it through the script without weeping. I can’t make it through this sentence without weeping. When I was asked to help with this “Starting Monday” project, I knew it was for me. I think it is hugely important. And it is also extremely difficult. Death is so hard. Even as someone who believes in life ever death, it’s just… It’s heavy. And dark. And personal.

My friend who died last year had not even been in my life for that long, comparatively. But you know how I roll. Fast moving and deep friendships are my jam. You’ll know my whole life story on our first visit. And I’ll keep pestering you until you share yours soon enough. I adored Nicole. She was easy to adore. And I miss her.

Here’s something that I ponder. Our culture isn’t great at dealing with death. Some cultures are, I think, better at this. They allow grief to take its natural course, whereas I think some Americans like to make grief tidy. We like to make the grief process fit a model with five neat steps, on our timeline, and we dislike anything that seems abnormal. We dislike feeling a fresh wave of grief when we think we shouldn’t.

So I realized that much of my trouble yesterday stemmed from the fact that I was experiencing a fresh wave of grief for my friend. I acknowledged it. I felt it. I couldn’t fix it, so I shouldered through, not very gracefully. We muscled through bedtime and zoned out with silly tv and wine. Super productive grieving? Nope. It just is what it is, people.

I can’t really say that I have the answers here. There is no way to patch it up and make it look pretty and spiritual. If nothing else, for me, Jesus is in the midst of the uncomfortably long and sometimes surprising process of grieving loved ones, because he was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” And today that’s enough.

(I miss you Nicole. Thank you for all the ways you continue to impact me today.)

Sometimes you gotta Psalm 23 it

    The lack of blogging last week was due to a whirlwind trip I took with my three boys. It was spring break, and unfortunately Hubby’s travel schedule had placed him in Japan over our break. I had already decided to forgo the spring trip to Florida (I was trying to be practical, but boy did I regret this initially…), but I felt we needed a change of scenery and some kind of adventure together. So when I figured out that my friends in Rochester, NY were only about 6.5 hours away, I concocted a crazy plan to go see them. By myself. With the kids.

    The route to Rochester was shortened by two hours if we were willing to drive through Canada. That’s right people, I live so far north that Canada is a stone’s throw away, and passing through it actually makes some trips shorter. Insanity. I decided that a two hour savings was totally worth it, and I got to work on making sure I had necessary paperwork in order. My passport, their birth certificates, a permission slip from daddy, and a partridge in a pear tree. You know, the usual. I signed up for AAA so that I could be towed or helped if needed, and I contacted all necessary insurance and credit card companies. I printed out a Google maps travel route, just in case, and organized everything neatly in a special folder. I packed enough food for a small army, a bin of movies for our portable DVD player, and the basic other necessities. Monday morning, we were on our way!

    The kids were excited for the adventure and we even made it about two hours without any movies. Of course, baby started yelling something about going HOME about an hour in, but I tossed some food his way and trekked on. It started drizzling rain right away and didn’t really stop, but we were doing fine.

    We made it to the Canadian border and I was more than a bit nervous, having never done this sort of thing before. It’s one thing to get on a plane by yourself with a passport. It’s another thing entirely to have three little people to bring along, in the car, through a border crossing. I was pleasantly surprised how straightforward it all was. The border agents on both sides were the perfect combination of thorough, pleasant, and efficient. They asked, we answered, they checked our paperwork, and then suddenly I was driving into Canada! It was more than a little exhilarating, and I may have been giggling a lot. I was just proud of doing that. The only adult in the car. I felt brave.

    As we drove into Canada, it was still raining, and the little one started getting very antsy. I tried to distract him a bit further by pointing out what I saw along the way. “Look at the rain, little man!” and then, “Huh! Look at that rain! It’s sort of clumping up!” and then, color draining from my face, “huh… That rain is looking a bit like…” Yep, snow.

    I really don’t know how I neglected to check the Canadian weather in all of my meticulous preparations for the trip. I checked the weather at home. I checked the weather in Rochester. It was the end of March. Nothing seemed to me like it could possibly indicate SNOW. The thought never even occurred to me, because southerner.

    But there I was, in Canada, driving myself and my three young children, and it was beginning to snow in earnest. Sideways blowing snow, covering the trees and streets and street signs– blinding type of snow. Turn-flashers-on-and-drive-like-grandma type of snow. I began to freak out a little bit, internally, and I started reciting Psalm 23 under my breath, repeatedly. I mean, I probably left out some words and mixed the NIV with the old school Thous and such, but the gist of it was there. (That’s often the Psalm I go back to when I’m scared. I remember once a youth group mentor reciting it with me on one of my first roller coasters.)

    I was clutching the steering wheel so tightly that my hands were getting sore. My whole body was getting sore, actually. And my mind was alternating between “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and wondering what in the world my options were. I decided that getting away from the lake a little and then stopping would be good. We could get gas, turn on a movie for the boys, take a look at the phone for some ideas, and make a plan. The only problem was that the street signs were so covered in snow that for a while I could not find a sign for a gas station. So I kept white-knuckle driving until I found one.

    Finally, I found a gas station (full service stations still exist in rural Canada!) and got my act together a little. I put on a movie, used a nice bathroom (highly necessary), and asked the helpful man if he thought I would die if we drove on east (me? exaggerate? surely not). That poor man didn’t know how to handle this dramatic American, but he was very kind, offering suggestions on safe driving but assuring me that he couldn’t really make that decision for me. With my only other option being finding a random hotel and being stuck in the middle of NOWHERE in Canada (it is very sparse between Michigan and London), I just decided to trudge on. It kept snowing. I kept Psalm 23ing and clutching. And mercifully, somewhere around London, the snow turned back into a more manageable frozen mix.

    The rest of the trip went relatively smoothly, even with constant light rain. Before we knew it, we had crossed back into the good ole USA, covered in chocolate and every snack imaginable, landing safely at our friends’ lovely home.

    During our visit we enjoyed special adventures for my boys, time with their spunky and loving rescue pup, and walks and hikes on the loveliest spring days. Uncle Steve, a title which we decided he quite earned this week, took on the role of substitute daddy complete with soccer duties, made up card games, a special building project, and evening wrestle time before I tucked the exhausted boys into bed. Aunt Ashley took us on picnics, fed us delicious foods, introduced us to an amazing museum, listened patiently to endless questions, and helped us explore the area. And they made us donuts, people. Their home was so cozy and so restorative, it was like a breath of air for my soul. Their company and the way that they exude calmness and grace was equally as comforting. Each night we would put the kids to bed and then cook up some kind of amazing adults-only type of dinner, from risotto to shrimp and grits etouffee, complete with wine and real conversations. I can’t tell you how absolutely worth it our trip was.

   Isn’t it often that way? The insanity of a trip leads to something well worth the difficult journey. I mean, I can laugh now and did laugh about it over a glass of wine with my friend, but in the midst of the snow, I was absolutely terrified. I have had experiences in life where Jesus, the good shepherd, has led me through some harrowing experience and I have felt with the psalmist, “He restoreth my soul!” There are other journeys in life that are longer, interminable-feeling, with a destination that is not quite as clear. Those are times when I lean harder into the “Thou art with me… Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me” bit. And there are still other journeys where the lush destination will not be attained in this world, as was the faith experience of so many of God’s people (see Hebrews 11). Even then, though, we can remind our souls that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

    And that is why I figure sometimes you just gotta clutch that steering wheel and Psalm 23 your way down the road, trusting that the destination will be worth it.

Chubby Fingers and Communion

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Oh man. I don’t usually blog on consecutive days, but this, I needed to tell this. It is the clearest illustration yet of the secular and the sacred exploding together in my week.

We decided to brave a Maundy Thursday service last night. It was a beautifully written family style dinner service of sorts. Casual. Warm. Soup and bread. With the whole family.

And well, I have been growing fond of this little church I’ve been visiting. It’s cozy. It seems genuine. So when my worship minister friend invited us to join them for the service tonight, a little spark made me consider it. I didn’t think it would actually happen, I told her, because TODDLER. He is a nightmare in situations that require sitting or being quiet or anyone else’s agenda. But I got brave (foolish?), and after discussions with Ryan, we went.

We ran into another family that we enjoy, the only other family we actually know at the church, so that was a nice way to start. My friend had made a place for us with their family at the back table. Good. I was a little nervous, but things were falling into place. And then the service started.

Let me point out here that my youngest child is borderline obsessed with my music minister friend, so when she got up to read the scriptures and conduct the service, well, he got a little noisy. But just a little. It wasn’t so bad. I mean we didn’t hear much of the John passage she read, but it was still fine. I saw her smile at him briefly, and it made me feel safe. We were still sailing fairly smoothly, and he sat blissfully in my lap while I sang (probably with a little too much gusto) the first hymn, What Wondrous Love is This. Happy sigh. Seriously delicious and holy hymn words in that one. Lovely.

And thennnnnn things started to break down a little bit. The pastor stood up to give a small talk pertaining to radical hospitality and the call to really love each other. He gave instructions for us to engage in real conversations about real things during our impending meal. Or I think that’s what he talked about. I don’t fully know, because toddler. I thought the day had been saved because my friend came to sit, and my baby went to snuggle with her. But he’s not quite three, and a couple minutes of snuggling was all he needed to recharge. So then it started to get loud. And unpleasant. He wanted to talk. He wanted to interrupt and be noisy and whine when I shushed him. He did not want his toy. He did not want his milk. He wanted down. He wanted to “go to work.” He wanted to make me crazy. I tried to no avail to convince them that we were actually praying, in hopes that he would do that cute bowing-of-his-head and get all reverent looking. Any guesses as to how that worked?

I sat there trying to be brave, trying to pretend like this wasn’t making me a little nuts inside. In my head I know that no one else is bothered by these shenanigans, but inside my heart it is a different story. I also tried to ignore the fact that my other two children were now joining the noise and the interruption fun, and my mommy glares were not working. They never seem to work when you need them to the most.

Mercifully, the small sermon ended (I know in my head that the sermon was probably less than five minutes, but in real mommy minutes it felt like the entirety of the High Priestly Prayer combined with the Sermon on the Mount), and it was time to eat. The soup was delicious, and the bread was the perfect compliment. My kids don’t understand soup, though, and of course wouldn’t eat it. But we did engage in some meaningful conversations, I think. We tried. Toddler ran around. It was all very imperfect and interrupted but good. All throughout the evening my friend practiced radical hospitality for us while still doing her job. Towards the end of the meal, she tried having her daughter watch the youngest child in another room for a bit to bring a reprieve for us.

As the dinner finished, it was time for communion. And just as communion instructions were given, my youngest returned. loudly. Sigh. But then in the middle of that gym-turned-sanctuary, holy stuff happened. I watched my oldest take communion from his little buddy. It was his first time, I think. He looked so grown up. And I received communion from my worship minister friend, the same bread from which my oldest had torn his piece. And as I turned to pass the elements over to my husband, my toddler wanted in on the action. “The body of Christ broken for you,” I said as he took his little piece of bread into his still chubby fingers. “The blood of Christ poured out for you,” I managed, as he dipped that little piece of bread into the juice cup, commenting and making yummy noises as he ate. Loudly. And he wanted more. And we gave him more. And we all stifled our giggles through the closing prayer.

The whole evening was kind of a nightmare in some ways. But that moment. I hope I never forget that moment. The weight and glory and beauty of that moment wasn’t lost on me, though I didn’t fully appreciate it until processing it afterwards.

The body of Christ. Broken. For you, my little ones. The blood of Christ, for you. Yes, you are invited to the table, little man. You, and everybody else. And we don’t have to get our acts together before we come. We can be loud and needy and disruptive, and by the miracle of the cross, we are still welcome.

The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ,

Torn for you – eat and remember

The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life

Paid the price to make us one.

So we share in this bread of life,

And we drink of His sacrifice

As a sign of our bonds of love

Around the table of the King.

(The Communion Hymn)

Amen.

Being Serious and Grateful

I really thought I would be funnier in my blog. I really wanted to be witty and funny and cool. But I’m a 30 year old religious mother who is processing the world, a world which just this week reminded us that life sometimes punches you right in the gut. I like to think that sometimes I can be funny. Some bits of my posts might be clever, mostly because kids can be so hilarious and adorable. But lately my posts feel weighty and big, like something I didn’t even really intend for them to be. Not in a bad way necessarily. Just… Weighty.

So when I sat down to work on some blog thoughts, I kept annoying myself with how serious I was becoming. I started a post about this fresh blanket of snow and the resultant snow day, and I ended up in thoughts of God washing us and making us whiter than snow. I mean, that’s true and all, but still. SO serious. And that wasn’t even the worst one. I literally started working on a post about the little jerk mice who have been infesting my house, and I could not stop finding lessons in humility. Again. All true. But…

I’ve honestly been feeling a little guilty and silly about how all my posts seem to turn to a very serious place. I am normally such a happy and bubbly person! Even if I start somewhere fun, like I mentioned, I seem to meander my way into deeper thoughts and perhaps ideas that are above my pay grade. But you know, life is like that. There are lots of great, funny, light moments in the journey, but we often unknowingly meander into deeper water before we realize what has happened. We are wandering along, enjoying the view, and then suddenly loved ones die, tragedies strike, and terrorists seem to win. People become mean and downright nasty. We struggle with anxiety and depression and wondering what in the world we should be doing. And yet through it all there are those bright spots of grace, little fresh breaths of air, the things that sustain us in the midst of the deep water. Like little life rafts when the water is choppy and deep, the grace moments pop up, giving us somewhere to rest even if just for a moment. We often can’t have one without the other, the life rafts without the deep water, and I don’t know if we are necessarily meant to, at least in this life.

The other thing is that I know that some of you don’t believe in Jesus. So when my posts constantly point back to him specifically, well, it may not be super helpful to everyone. But beyond the fact that this blog is all about the intersection of the sacred and the secular in my life, I have also thought about it, and the truth is that I can only really speak about that which I know. Jesus is my thing. He’s my wheelhouse. He’s my anchor. I serve him extremely imperfectly, and boy do I struggle, but I constantly find myself feeling like Simon Peter when he was questioned about abandoning Jesus and almost whined as he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69) That’s been my experience over and over again: plenty of times when it would have been easier to just throw the whole religion thing out, and just as many realizations that He alone as the words of eternal life. So I guess you could say I am stuck, in the most wonderfully blissful and perhaps strange way you can imagine. 

Today I’m choosing not to feel bad about the weighty nature of my blog posts or about the Jesus nature of them. I want to be honest about my journey and to tell my fellow travelers that they are not alone. And this is my life: full of contradictions and full of Jesus and full of both light and weighty things, simultaneously.

And hey, it’s Holy Week, the week we Christians remember the passion of Jesus and all the things He did for us as he prepared to lay down His life. That’s weighty, when I let myself contemplate the fullness of it, so I probably get a pass for being a little serious this week. And the horrific hardships in the world, those are serious too. Meanwhile, here I sit in my ill-fitting snowflake pajamas, bleary eyed, draining my second cup of coffee, wondering what I’m going to to do with these crazy little humans on this unexpected snow day (sigh) at the end of March (sighhhhhh). But we will probably laugh and giggle and experience one or two of those little grace moments I mentioned. I may be kind of serious, but I am also completely grateful. So the sacred and the secular will collide again, and it will be mashed up and messy and wonderful. I hope you find a messy collision of the secular and the sacred today, too, friends.

On doorknobs and nice things

My beast of a toddler busted a door knob the other day, because he was slamming the door open out of anger. He has a temper that’s in full force these days, because toddlers. I said to him, “you are why we can’t have nice things.” Because I’m nice (imperfect) like that. But it’s true. The kids are often why we can’t have nice things, like, you know, doorknobs.

… And fancy couches, clothes that are predominately white, clean floors, meals that are relaxed and contain fancy ingredients, clean cars, silence, and the list goes on.

A non-parent friend joked recently to us about how our kids really tie us down, which is also true. We don’t party late at night, we don’t take impromptu trips or romantic getaways, and much of life these days is determined by these three little people who live here with us. 

 There’s no way around the fact that life with kids is different, exhausting, depleting, and sometimes utterly exasperating. Ryan didn’t want to have to buy and install a new doorknob that day (it was the door to the garage…). I get tired of the broken dishes, the marked up furniture, the mundane cleaning, and the ruined clothing. More than that, the emotional requirements of parenting seem well above my pay grade on any given day. My resources often seem to run dry. (Don’t even get me started on how absolutely minuscule my parenting issues are when I consider those who face much deeper and more significant challenges like terminal illness parenting, special needs parenting, etc. I probably sound like a broken record here, but I’m sending you a hug today.)

But y’all. This motherhood thing is my calling. I was put on this earth to serve Jesus, love Ryan, raise my boys, and love people. I count myself infinitely fortunate to be living this life, especially in view of the fact that so many of my friends have longed for and prayed for children of their own, to no avail. I do not shrug off the weight of that statement easily.

AND, sure, there are many astounding benefits to mothering these cute boys. They’re adorable. They are sweet, funny, energetic, and life-giving. They keep me young (and simultaneously age me and give me gray hairs 👵😏😉). Being a mom gives me purpose and teaches me lessons I had never imagined. And some days it is ridiculously fun! I get to play for a living. Even at the end of hard days, there’s no other life I would ever choose. Ever. But I think it goes beyond these benefits to something that is, or at least should be, more universal in the Christian experience.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8

What this passage reminds me personally is that motherhood is my own daily opportunity for service that mirrors the humble Savior who came “not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Here in the midst of the laundry and the dishes and the snotty noses and the broken everything, I can choose to “count others as more significant” than myself. While serving might not mean that I humble myself to the point of death (though let’s be honest about the love of a parent, through which we would gladly do that), we face perhaps the equally challenging task of serving others with gratitude, giving up selfishness, and welcoming even the mundane tasks of life. One thing I love about this truth is that it puts motherhood in the proper light. Motherhood itself is not the highest good or the only right thing for a Christian woman to do. Motherhood IS beautiful and amazing and holy, even among all the broken doorknobs and forfeited things, but lots of other callings and journeys are just as beautiful and challenging! Motherhood is ONE niche, and happens to be my niche, where this whole sacrifice business can be practiced, tested, and beautified. 

It’s not pretty, this isn’t a novel concept, and I am a major work in progress. I have trouble finding a servant’s heart especially when I first wake up (cofffeeeee… Where is my coffeeeeee???), and the dinner to bedtime hours are sometimes just brutal (you know this, moms, amen). I looked at my littlest one this morning, though, and realized how utterly fortunate I am to be laying down my life for these little men, whom I already so ardently adore. So maybe this week I’ll start with with something simple like NOT being snarky/ telling him he’s the reason that I can’t have nice things. I clearly have much to learn. I hope and pray that the boys will get something good (well mainly I hope they just get Jesus) from growing up with me as mom, but I do at least know that God is using their childhoods to shape and refine their imperfect, grateful, sometimes crazy momma.

 

 O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. (St. Francis of Assisi)

Our various callings can be (or feel) similar to dying as we lay down our agendas, our selfishness, and sometimes our desires to prefer someone else. It isn’t glamorous, and the heavenly equation is too lofty for me to fully understand or explain. I just know that I wouldn’t trade this life of humility and service and inexplicable JOY for all the beautiful doorknobs and nice things in the world.