The Art of Motherhood

Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.” Genesis 3:15a (NLT)

Women understand this verse, especially if we have a child of any age. We can honestly say, been there, done that, have the memories.

Children bring not only pain, but joy, laughter, worry, gray hair. I could go on and on. I have two daughters, both grown, both mothers and both having their own memories.

This past Monday, my oldest daughter finished her radiation therapy for breast cancer. She was diagnosed at the end of last year with surgery in January and radiation beginning in March. I was blessed to be able to be with her for her surgery and for the bulk of her treatment.

As I opened a text on Monday seeing a short video of her ringing the bell after finishing treatment, tears of joy filled my eyes. She has been a rock star through this whole ordeal. Me? I have managed to fake strength and give encouragement, but most of all, I have prayed. The prayers did not make sense really, and most of the time they went like this, “Lord,? You know. Be with her.” Somehow I could not always make definite and flourished prayer.

But God.

God created mothers. He had one. He knows. He knows the struggles we, as mothers, go through.

I have been exhausted this week. I haven’t understood the tiredness. Today, it hit me. The tiredness of walking the floor with teething babies was similar to how I felt. The tiredness of waiting for your teen to come home in one piece, even though you knew they would. That stress was what I was feeling.

The art of motherhood is feeling those feelings. Showing strength when you have none. Showing courage and encouragement when you only half believe Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT). Hiding the tear that escapes down the cheek.

Again, but, God. He answered my fumbled prayers and oh so many other’s prayers. They stood in the gap. They, like Aaron held up the arms for us. We felt them all. And God answered.

For now, the battle is done, for we as mothers, never know what will happen in the next hours. We were gifted our children. We were chosen to be the parent of each of our children. There is a reason for this.

Today, I thought of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She learned the art of motherhood from God Himself. She knew she was in for quite the ride with her firstborn. But, although she knew, standing at the foot of the cross while her ‘baby’ hung there for all of us must have taken such strength, and courage. When we look to the Bible for wisdom, we receive it, but sometimes it’s hard.

For those of you who have walked this journey with us, and our daughter’s family, thank you. Your encouragement and prayers have carried us through this latest adventure.

Memories and Tears

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NLT)

Last night we had a dinner at our church. The woman who planned and brought to life the event did so with perfection. The theme was Walking in Love. A sort of Valentine’s dinner which also served as a Pastor’s Appreciation. The food, decorations and time together was amazing. We also had a time of worship, singing older songs of praise. It was a precious time in the Lord. The song transported me back in time.

We lived in Bangor, Maine in Air Force housing. A two story home with a basement. White birch trees lined our yard. It was a lovely home and situation. Our oldest was almost six months old when we moved in.

As with most babies, nights were interrupted by crying and fussing. I don’t know why people say to sleep like a baby as they are usually awake at least three times during the night. Ours was no different.

As winter approached, when she awoke, I would put on my heavy bathrobe and slippers. I would grab her yellow printed quilt from Japan. It was a beautiful gift of a baby futon, not the foam kind we are used to, but a fluffy blanket that would be like a comforter.

I would head down the steps in the cool night and head to my bentwood rocker. Positioning ourselves and making certain both of us were fully covered and cozy. I would draw her close to me and begin to sing. We had a string of songs, some lullabies and a lot of worship songs. I would go through the line up of songs and then sing one over and over. There were no cell phones then to hold and keep me distracted. Only the darkness, my baby and my singing.

The song would quiet her and quiet me. It would calm my frazzled young mother’s angst. My focus would shift from grumpiness of being awake, again to the quiet joyful peace of sitting in a darkened living room with my baby.The wind could be howling outside, driving snow across our yard and building up on our back door, but, I was wrapped in the peace of quiet with a snuggly baby in my arms.

I haven’t remembered those nights in years. Last night we sang the song I would sing over and over. The song started and I sang, enjoying the song itself. As we repeated the chorus my throat stopped up, tears fell down my cheeks and I was once more sitting in the dark room holding my first born.

Our Lord is precious and kind. He recalls to us the times when, unbeknownst to me, He was beside me. Standing watch along with me as His beautiful creation of a child struggled with staying asleep. The impact that, in hindsight, I vividly recalled those seemingly endless nights, thinking all these years that I was alone, and I saw that He walked the floor with me and rocked with me also.

I am so grateful to have had that experience last night, in a crowded room and the Lord gave me this sweet, joyful, memory just for me. He knows each of us personally and He meets us where we are.

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice

To worship you
Oh my soul rejoice
Take joy, my king
In what you hear
May it be a sweet sweet sound
In your ear

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you
Oh my soul rejoice
Take joy, my king
In what you hear
May it be a sweet sweet sound
In your ear

Doing the Kitchen Dance

Last fall I reorganized my kitchen cupboards. I am still getting used to them.

For three weeks I was at my daughter’s home. She recently reorganized her cupboards. While I was there I did a little jig around her kitchen trying to remember where things belonged and also where things were supposed to go.

I don’t think I messed her kitchen up too badly. I told her to speak kindly of me when she was able to be up and in her kitchen full time.

Coming home, my little jig has now become a full blown waltz. I am so confused as to where I am and where things are and are supposed to be. I find myself opening cupboards and reminding myself that this is my kitchen and where I am looking is where my daughter’s things are.

I am getting much exercise putting dishes away and while I am cooking it is a jumble of frantic motions. I am still trying to figure out what type of music would go with my dancing. I know I will eventually remember where I am and things will once more become normal and mundane. Until then it is a cross between a waltz and a jitterbug.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people” I Corinthians 14:33 (NLT)

Comparisons

“Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” 22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” John 21:21-22 (NLT)

I am terrible at comparing myself to others. I have done it my whole life. I wish I was shorter (I just had to wait on that one, you know…gravity and age). I wish my hair was that color. I wish I could dress like that. I wish I could write like that. I wish I could teach like that. I wish I could pray like that.

I think, like most people, my life has many desires that I wish for.

The thing is, though, my life is exactly how the Lord created me. Yes, I pray differently, I write differently, I dress differently, I do what I do. I do me.

Often I go to Psalm 139:13, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (NLT) My youngest daughter is a knitter. I have often watched her take a ball of yarn and turn it into a work of art. She patiently works the yarn in her hands, pulling stitches that don’t work and re-doing them. She measures and calculates exactly how many stitches to place here and there. The end result will often bring about ooh’s and aahhs. Most of her work are gifts to others. I have seen reactions from those who have received gifts from her. The joy in the faces, the appreciation of her work, the details that she never fails to put into place.

We (I) am knit together. In my mother’s womb the Lord took two pieces and knit me together. The details, the height, the hair, the eyes, the brain, the speech, the type of walk we have. The Lord knit us together.

His artistry was unique for each of us. He did not compare us to His other work, that did not matter. What mattered was us, each individual.

The apostles learned this afresh when they asked about John. What about him? It was the same as us saying, “I wish I could, or did, or have….”

This lesson hit me today during my quiet time. I am me. You are you. A perfect artist knit us together to be exactly who we are. Likewise, we need to follow Him. That is the perfect response we can give our Creator. He made us and knows us intimately. To follow Him, allowing Him to work in this creation that we are, gives Him the ability to work in us. We, then, will see the freedom to be who we are and what we were created to do.

My Baby

Almost 40 years ago today, my youngest was born. Dale was out to sea, and I had just moved our belongings into our newly purchased home with friends helping. We still had baby things and nursery things in our garage, not set up or ready to go.

Again, my brother from another mother and his wife were at the ready to keep me going. She was with me for labor and the birth of our youngest and he put the crib and changing table together.

Our youngest was a rainbow baby, a baby born after the loss of another. She was and still is a rainbow in our lives. She taught me joy, a deep abiding joy. She taught me to laugh harder than I had ever known. Her quiet spirit is evident in all she does.

I write about her birthday almost every year. It is a time of joy for Dale and I. We are blessed by this gift from our Lord. Each year I also struggle with how to describe this woman. She is multi-faceted in her abilities and her giftings, yet each time I fail to totally portray her.

Our children are precious gifts to us. Each one teaches you different things. Each one grows into an unique adult. I stand back often and think of my daughters. The women they are and how they got to be where they are. On birthdays especially, I look at their lives and remember the impact they made on me, how they shaped me into the person I am today.

So, happiest of birthdays my dear Rachel. You are a gift and a joy. I hope you are spoiled with gifts and love as you have spoiled me with the gift of you. Thank you for being you. Love you.

Genesis 2:1-3

“So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[a] from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2:1-3 (NLT)

With each day there was a boundary established by God, day, night, sea, land, seed bearing fruit, trees, birds, fish. Each creation had a boundary. Then He rested.

For the past two weeks, I have not given myself boundaries. I did not schedule time to write or really exercise. I enjoyed the company of my daughter, her husband and our Little Miss. Each day held it’s own excitement and adventures, even if it was just sitting on the couch watching television and playing restaurant. Each day gave me memories to cherish.

Now, we are home. Today I awoke with determination to get back into full swing of schedules. I have half succeeded. Laundry is finishing, most of the groceries are put away, and although writing has been on the forefront of my mind, these words are my only accomplishment.

I tend to be pretty hard on myself when I am not in a regimen. I look at numbers in my statistics on my blog, each time reminding myself that stats are just numbers. That does not always work for me, because with each number I see a person that has reached out to me. Each person who reads what I attempt to say is a gift to me, after all, they have taken time from their day to see what I have tried to say.

When my stats go to ‘0’ or ‘1’, I chide myself. I see in my mind a finger pointing at me and scolding me for not being where I think I should be. There are a lot of “I’s” in these sentences. It is then, that I remember that this blog is a gift also. My words do not come without a lot of prayer and my Lord sees the entire perspective. This blog belongs to Him and only through Him can I write.

So, after pushing myself to get back on track, fretting and stewing that I am not back where I think I should be, I have heard a gentle voice whispering, “Chill out! I’ve got this.” Followed by my thankfulness that I serve a God who understands me.

How did Mom know?

I have a memory of my Mom mentioning to me that someday you would have to check your appearance when you talked on the phone because you would be able to see the person you were talking to. I don’t know what precipitated the conversation or how it came about. I just remember her saying it. Someday you will see the person you are talking to.

At the time I thought it was a bizarre thought. Phones were on the wall (or table) and at the time you had to make certain the other party wasn’t talking on the party line. How in the world could you see a person on the phone?

My Mom died in 1966, and I often wonder what she would think of the technology of today. So much has changed and yes, now we can see the person we are talking to. Who would have thought?

Yesterday we had an impromptu conversation with our youngest daughter and our Little Man. It was delightful and made my day. We were able to see his new books he received for his birthday along with a new keyboard. He played us several songs and we all laughed and joked and talked. The time together did my heart good.

As we hung up I once more thought of the conversation with my Mom so many years ago. I smiled and said to myself, “Yes, Mom, we can see the people in a call. But, no, I didn’t change my clothes or even comb my hair. I was just me.”

Family loves you as you are and although technology can be frustrating and burdensome, yesterday it gave me a visit from my baby and her baby.

Little Man Lesson #2

(Original post from September 2013, on dearanonymousfriend, my other blog)

Today my dear daughter started back to teaching pre-school.  She was as organized as much as she could be.  We got up, and she got ready to head out the door.

I even managed to keep our dear little man distracted so he did not see his Momma head off to work.  It was a quiet transition and I was so pleased.   I know it made his Momma a bit relieved that there were no tears or drama at the door.

As we started our morning, my phone rang.  It was my daughter… all organized but, wrong set of keys in hand.  Plus I had the fob to enter the building where they live.  She was outside the apartment building and needed the other set of keys.  So, grabbing our little man, I retrieved the correct keys and headed outside.

Jubilation at seeing his Momma is an understatement.  After all, it had been 20 minutes since the last time he had seen her.  We switched the keys and then she did the unspeakable.  She got back in the car and drove off.  She left little man and me standing beside the parking lot.

No, this did not go well.  Not at all.  Little man expressed his displeasure.  He cried like there was not going to be any happiness ever again on the face of this earth.  My heart broke with him.

We walked back into the apartment, all the time I tried to comfort him.  He was not willing to be consoled.

Once inside I looked at him and said, ‘Do you want to read a book?’   The tears dried and off he toddled to pick out a book to share.  He has many good books to share.

What I learned is this.  Yes, I can be broken-hearted.  I can feel like consolation is nowhere to be found.  I can cry.  It’s alright to do all of this.  But, then I can go and read a Book that is wonderful to share.  I can open this Book and sit with One who loves me and cares for me in my broken state.  My tears will be dried and I will be comforted as I sit in my Creator’s lap reading the words He has spoken.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.  Psalm 34:17-18 (NLT)

Heartbreak

We all experience heartbreak. No one is exempt from it.

It could be that I have watched too many period series with my daughter this past week that has caused me to think about heartbreak.  It is rumbling in my thoughts, so I am going to consider the topic today.

Heartbreak comes in many ways. No one who is alive remains unscathed by this dilemma. Once it happens, it consumes us. No one can heal someone with a broken heart. Only time will begin to diminish it’s hold on us. Days will eventually begin to brighten. Memory starts to function again. I went through a long season of heartbreak. I could not remember the date, the year, the season. All was a blur to me. I felt devastated, alone and empty. It will rip through your mind, your health and your emotions.

In time, life was restored to me. I began to see the beauty of a day. I began to smile and eventually laughter reappeared. 

Through it all, the Lord was close to me. I know He was although I didn’t spend much time with Him. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

May your hearts today begin a healing if you are in a season of  heartbreak. May your days begin to brighten. May our Lord walk with you and hold you up.

She Knew Your Voice

Today I was looking at some pictures of a newborn granddaughter taken almost eight years ago. It was a series of three photos, one with her Dad, one by herself and one with my daughter. In the first she looked comfortable held in her Father’s hands, but in the one with her Mom, she had a sweet little newborn smile on her face. I looked at my daughter and remarked on the smile, I said, She knew your voice.

An infant hears their mother’s voice while they develop. It’s part of the process. A child will grow in the womb, wrapped in a comfort and quiet and they grow. While growing, they hear the music of a mother’s voice. The tonal inflection, the joy, the quiet, the nervousness. They hear it all. It is deeply ingrained into a child’s being.

In a similar fashion, the Holy Spirit woos one to a relationship with our heavenly Father. He directs us, points us and leads us while we are growing to a point of a total dependence on Christ. Once we receive our Lord and commit our lives to Him, we know His voice. It is a part of us. We are created to respond to His voice.

“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget,  I’d never forget you—never.” Isaiah 49:15 (MSG)