Laundry in the Corner, Breadcrumbs on the Floor

There is laundry in the corner
There are breadcrumbs on my floor
And beneath my kitchen table
A sticky little mouth grins

There are bath toys in the bathtub
There are board books on my chair
And clinging to the couch
A diaper-clad bottom bounces

There are lessons in the learning
There are hand prints on my soul
And busily blessing his mama
A chubby pair of hands reaches “ppppp”

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When God Slooooooooows You Down

IMG_0573If you’ve spoken to me recently, you probably know that we’re in the middle of a sleep crisis. My sweet baby boy, in spite of being a pretty easy kid in all other aspects, hasn’t slept through the night since day one. And believe you me, it’s not for lack of trying the many schools of thought that exist!

For the last month, about 5+ hours of my day have been tied up in getting and keeping this child asleep. (Note: this does not include the additional time spent nursing and begging him to eat some solids, any solids, please Lord hear this mama’s prayers.) As a result, my to do list has been a little stagnant and my home is looking decidedly lived-in. Right now, we’re staying very close to home as I try for the umpteenth time to establish a set-in-stone nap time, which will supposedly put an end to the nighttime nonsense. There’s an Indian saying, “children tie the mother’s feet,” (more on that in a minute) and I’d always resented the thought. In some arrogance born of premotherhood ignorance, I was sure that I’d do it differently. Yet, here I am, recklessly neglecting chores as my son naps because anything other than typing (in the next room, mind you) is likely to wake the little sleeper.

But the funny thing is, although it’s been frustrating, it’s also been really good. I’ve been strategically placing some Christian living books near the couch (because why would any kid want to enjoy the spacious, memory foam queen bed?) and cuing up Bible reading on my phone. When I curl up with David for a couple of hours (did I mention he doesn’t sleep by himself?), I get my quiet time with the Lord. I may even get to take up some other expedient reading. Midnight wakings become opportunity for prayer, assuming I’m conscious enough. Sometimes I get to nap a little with my son, which is also a huge blessing when we’re still doing 4-5 wakings at night.

But God is slowing me down. I mean, sloooooooowing me down. He has both reins in hand and is leaning against my donkey-stubborn nature, telling me through the pressure of motherly responsibility to find new ways to be still and know this: He is still sovereign and Almighty God. Selah. (Psalm 46:10)

Meditate on that. Soak it up. And in His infinite grace and goodness, provided I daily choose to abide in Him, I am serving Him no less than I ever have. He takes my VERY humble offerings (think diaper changes, people) and counts them as service rendered unto the least of these. The cup of water I get for David or the (fiftieth of the day) clean shirt I help him into is rendered service to Christ Himself (Matthew 25:34-40). If that’s at the forefront of my mind, how can I grow weary in well doing? When we are promised, “…for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9) how can I be discouraged?

We reap not only the temporal reward of the great joys amidst the difficulties of parenthood (Psalm 127:3), nor even just the eternal reward of the treasure God stores up for us in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20); we are promised that as we train up our children in the way they should go, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). By the grace of God, through faith, (Ephesians 2:8) little souls are being added to the kingdom of God. Wow.

Isaiah 40:11 says that our Good Shepherd gently leads those of us with young. Praise God. Ladies, I don’t know about you, but for me in the here-and-now, that is some good news. I feel lately that God wrote Psalm 23 for this season in my life; He’s making me lie down in green pastures (on the couch), leading me beside the still waters (or not-so-still during bath time), and my soul is being restored. I’ve about as much right to complain about that as the Israelites had to complain about gathering mana each morning. (Exodus 16)

Getting back to that quote about children tying up mothers (or something like that)… I think I recall reading it in A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot, although it originally came from a book called Gold Cord by Amy Carmichael. Ms. Carmichael was a 19th century missionary to India who cared for hundreds of children during her lifetime. She wrote the following as she gave up her traveling ministry to care for little ones:

Children tie the mother’s feet, the Tamils say… We knew we could not be too careful of our children’s earliest years. So we let our feet be tied for the love of Him whose feet were pierced.”

At present, my life is relatively simple; help one little boy and one good man to live healthy, happy, holy lives. This is what Christ has trusted me with for now. I can only assume that things will only get more complex as we continue to grow our family. But whether I’m given one talent or five, I know that I long to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant…enter in to the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:23) My heart is the determining factor in that:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

However mundane or chaotic your day, take heart: we are serving the Lord Christ. (And incidentally, an early happy Mother’s Day to you.)

Update/afterthought: This post was written over several nap times (mostly on my phone) and edited whilst my dear husband took over bedtime one night. Sleeping is going much better thanks to the prayers of many kind mama friends who know that the struggle is real. But all this to say, if I ever write like I have my life together, remind me that it takes me two weeks to write a few hundred words and that I have a bruise on my leg from that time I was trying to fill out an application and my kid bit me. Then we’ll have a good laugh about ridiculous life circumstances and get back to our (heavenly) business of discipling tiny humans and being discipled ourselves. 🙂

Anxiety in Light of Christ

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my struggle with anxiety and/or depression on this blog before.  The depression has launched a couple of major campaigns against my sanity in both high school and college, and we’ve had several skirmishes in between. Anxiety has been my constant companion since earlier on, I just didn’t have a word for it until a couple of years ago.
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When God Plans Your Pregnancy

img_5984editedWhere to begin?

In July, two tiny lines on a home pregnancy test took us completely by surprise. It was earth-shattering news to us – nothing was ever going to be the same again. How was this going to work with my husband working as a waiter and myself as a receptionist? What about our five year plan of frugal adventures in the plane my husband is building? How’s he going to even finish his plane? We’ve only been married a year and a half, why can’t I have my husband to myself for a while longer? Lord, what are You thinking? And how the heck did this even happen? (Yes, I know this is a humorous question on some level, but really… how is there suddenly a tiny human inside me when it seemed we had made certain we would wait a while?)

Wow. Breathe. Then the guilt hits. So many couples are in anguish because their pregnancy test came back negative for the umpteenth time. There’s a new life in me and I should be excited. And it’s not at all that I don’t want the baby. I just… now? Really? Like this? With our finances as they are? We didn’t plan this… but God did.

I share my original gut wrench because I want to be honest. It isn’t easy when you’re thinking that life will go along one line, and God switches tracks on you. I know that can also be said of so many less exciting, less positive changes – please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not a “poor me, I didn’t get my way” post. I just haven’t seen a lot in the way of Christian encouragement in this area.

I mean, biblical Christianity is pro-life. We’re supposed to be excited about new life, or at the very least have a welcoming attitude toward Baby. My friends on Facebook seem overjoyed to announce their pregnancies with adorable photo shoots. “Children are a blessing from the Lord” is the mantra. And not feeling that truth as well as knowing it in the moment makes you feel like you’ve betrayed God’s values, even if your thoughts haven’t gone any further than “this was so not my idea.” It feels like it’s not acceptable to be honest.

But here’s what the Lord has shown me over the past few months:

  1. Feelings are real in experience, but they don’t reflect the truth. I didn’t feel like our child was a blessing from the Lord, but I knew that to be the truth. I felt like God had unfairly taken control of my life, but I knew the truth is that a) I have often prayed for God to have His way in my life in spite of me and b) I’ve never been in control anyway. Gut reactions are what they are, for better or worse. Have grace for yourself, seek God’s forgiveness. But how I respond going forward is a choice I have to make in God’s strength. Claiming the truth in my prayer life, even though I don’t feel it, is vitally important to my relationship with God.
  2. It’s okay to take your time. In fact, these things take time – a whole nine months. The Lord continues to work in my heart. Additionally, we decided not to share the news of our pregnancy with anyone apart from immediate family for the first 12 weeks because we needed a period to process the news ourselves.
  3. Seek solid, Christian counsel. My husband was able to talk to our pastor early on, who was extremely encouraging. I shared with a couple of prayer warriors in my life, who proceeded to lift us up during those first weeks when it seemed like everything was spinning out of control. We didn’t have to do it on our own. God provided tremendous support in the way of family and friends.
  4. God provides, every time. It’s something to be counted on, in spite of immediate circumstances. Somehow, in His divine wisdom, things come together when they ought to, how they ought to. I can’t make them happen by worrying or trying harder. I can only be faithful in the moment and trust Him. Since July, we’ve been blessed with a fantastic job for my husband, as well as a temporary living situation near his new workplace at no cost to us. How’d it happen? Through no power of our own, let me tell you.

All this to say, if you find yourself in a similar situation, know this: you didn’t plan your baby, but God did. Seriously, you didn’t screw something up. The Almighty Father chose you, chose your child, and chose now. It may not feel like it this instant, but there is great comfort in that and it’s going to be okay. And continuing in the vein of honesty, I’m not on the “okay” side yet. I haven’t had my baby. I have no idea how this parenting stuff is supposed to work. I can’t do much “looking back” just now. My husband and I are in the midst of it. But God is faithful – to forgive, to provide, and when I am not. I know I’ll still be able to say that ten years from now, however many kiddos happen in the meanwhile.

And to our child – you who have taken to kicking and wiggling to make yourself known, who we have not yet met, but thank God for daily. Dear One, you have been loved since before we knew you were conceived, by the One who chose you, chose us, and chose now. You are wanted, and you will be welcomed into our home when at last you arrive. You are part of an amazing call from God for us to live beyond ourselves – just the first of many ways in which He will use you. The truth is, you’re a treasure. And we cannot wait to meet you.

Marriage Advice from a N00b

You’ll have to take what I say with a grain of salt–today is our first year anniversary and we’re currently recovering from a delightful, overly-indulgent dinner. I’m a little nostalgic (“Ooh, this time last year I was waking up at 4am, horribly sick…and by this time we were taking pictures on the lake with -15 windchill!”) and waxing loquacious on my very full stomach (I don’t know what TGIF puts in its mashed potatoes, but they are good).

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the first year is the hardest–expectations are high and a lot of adjustments need to be made. For us, I have no idea what the future years hold, but if this is the hardest then we’re awful spoiled.

I will say, however, that I see other people a bit like mirrors. I learn a lot about myself, and the closer I get to another person the more zits I see on my face. Metaphorically speaking. And now that I’m married, more than ever my “coverup” doesn’t seem to cut it. It’s good. And I hate it sometimes. God has been very good to use my husband to both bring out and balance out my shortcomings. (And my husband has been very good to forgive and love me in spite of myself.)

And the advice from this married newbie: take care of each other first, and also take care of yourself. When life is crazy busy, having your spouse set up the coffee machine after you go to bed or lay out your work clothes for you says “I love you” in a practical way that brief interactions cannot. As for the second piece of advice… well, my mantra has become “I am not upset, I am hungry.” And it’s my responsibility to keep myself out of the danger zone. I’ll leave it at that.

I love the verse in Ecclesiastes 4 that talks about how it’s better to have a partner in life, because then if one falls the other can help him up. Thanks for helping me along, Matt. It’s been a great first year.

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When You’re a Hypocrite…And Also a Blogger

bible

Photo credit: Anna Grace (Not my Bible on my counter, haha, I found this among her amazing photos after writing the post!)

 

If you happen to notice such things, it may have struck you that it’s been a little quiet in the Audacious Poet blogosphere. I’d like to say it’s because I’m busy–and I am busy–but that’s not the primary reason I haven’t written anything substantial since… I’m afraid to look. October? Well, beginning of November, anyway. No, it’s actually because I’ve felt  hypocritical posting about spiritual things because I haven’t been living them like I ought to.

I have a recurring problem. I hit a busy spell and I routinely forget or put off spending time in the Word and in prayer. Ladies and gentlemen, I here confess: I have been forgetting and putting off spending time with God. It’s awful. And then I have a secondary recurring problem–I get really embarrassed about it. I “hide” from God, as if I could and as if He’s going to upbraid me for missing time with Him then second I sit down with my Bible. (Sort of like when someone lends you a book, and you haven’t read it yet, so you avoid them for an eon because you’re afraid they’ll ask how it was and you’ll have to admit it’s been kicking around your car since they lent it to you, and then they’ll call you terrible names and hate you for all eternity…or am I the only one?)

Additionally, I want to hide from anyone or anything that might make me feel more remorseful, or actually call me out on it. Folks, I’ve actually been embarrassed to pick up my prayer journal because I don’t want to record that I’m STILL reading through the same part of Ezekiel so many months later. Nobody even reads (or will read) my prayer journal. Might I suggest that there’s some irrational, spiritual interference here?

Please understand, I don’t think the devil himself lurks around my home to plague me with guilt about missing my quiet time. However, I do think there’s a real spiritual battle surrounding any activities that strengthen my relationship with Christ. And I do think the enemy is shameless about using my own shortcomings–namely pride in this case, I think–to trip me up.

A closing thought here, for any who have read this far. My brother and I recently had a somewhat unrelated discussion about living a middle of the road life where you aren’t really doing anything in the way of Kingdom work, nor are you enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. You’re just doing your thing, enjoying the “benefits” of neither and making sure you muddle through the every day stuff without any serious sin. But we know that Christ can’t stand a lukewarm Christian (Revelation 3:15-16). And we also know that Christ offers an antidote to the paralyzing poison: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) Just like that. It’s our responsibility, once we’re aware of where we’re at, to do something about it.

I got out my Bible yesterday morning. I’m starting in Hebrews. (NOT so I can cheat in my prayer journal, just because I need a change of pace.) I’m also leaving my Bible open on the kitchen counter so I read my mandatory chapter in the morning before work, if nothing else. If you’re in a paralyzed, lukewarm, embarrassed stage for whatever reason–just open your Bible. Say a prayer. God is so gracious to draw me, as He did Israel, with cords of love–especially when I’m a knucklehead (Hosea 11). I’m sure I’ll be here again in a few months, in spite of my best efforts. But God is so good. Happy New Year, everyone.

Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

I was blessed to be invited to guest post on Erica Mbasan’s blog today. If you haven’t already done so, I highly encourage you to check out the rest of her blog, Erica’s Adventures, as well as her book, For the Joy Set Before Us. She writes beautifully from her own experience, always from a grounded, biblical perspective.

Erica's Adventures

I have stumbled across a lovely sister in Christ through social media. Chloe Quimby maintains a blog and has a lot of insights to share regarding life and truly following God. I have been so blessed following her blog that I asked her to guest post on here, and I’m delighted that she has agreed! Check out her beautiful insights below, and follow her at: https://anaudaciouspoet.wordpress.com 


Hi. I’m Chloe—a twenty-something Christian housewife/writer/copyeditor/biologist/receptionist—and I usually blog over at An Audacious Poet where I’ve lately started rambling a bit about what God is showing me in my life. However, Erica graciously invited me to pop over here today. Thanks, Erica!

This is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while, because God has been bringing it to my attention as a problem in my life. That is, doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Isaiah 1 records the Lord…

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