Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hard Stops

I've been learning the same lesson over and over the last few weeks, and I didn't realize it till just now when I sat down to write about it. It isn't that I'm not learning the lesson, or that the exact same lesson is on repeat. It's just that I I graduate to the next level. I make it through first grade, and move on to second grade.  Today was one of those graduation moments.

 Last week I shared a bit about learning to say "no". I've discovered that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to recognizing boundaries. It isn't that other people pressure me into doing things I don't have the stamina for--I pressure myself into projects and plans. At any given moment my mind is going on a half dozen different projects. I research, plan, organize, and execute as time and finances permit.  While the creative energy is wonderful, it has been a true weakness the past few weeks.

Not only do I have the normal creative energy, but I also feel an immense internal pressure to get everything done in the next eight(ish) weeks. I am at a point where most of my life is balanced. My little girl is increasingly more independent, verbal, and even helpful. I can do things now. I remember too well what the newborn stage was--and how long the postpartum recovery period lasted. I fear that if I don't get these projects done RIGHT AWAY they will never get done.

I forget that the addition of a new and beautiful member of the family won't change the woman I am. I may need to take a break, but the drive to create will be a part of me till my dying day (and, I firmly believe, beyond that. I am made in the image of a creative God, when I create it is part of my reflection of Him. The day I stop creating is not just the day I loose my identity--it is the day I stop reflecting my Savior).

That said, sometimes a reminder is needed and this is one of those times. It is time for a "hard stop." The kind of stop that says to God, "I trust you with all my dreams and projects. I trust you to carry me through the difficult, physically demanding stages of life. I receive with joy everything (even the rough postpartum period) you have given (and will give) me. Instead of worrying about what I will or won't accomplish in the next two months, I choose to rest and see to the immediate needs--the today needs--of my family and body."

Hard stops are hard. It's hard to choose rest when the mind wants anything but stillness. But God himself said, "Be still and know that I am God." In the frantic pace of life we can never simply sit quietly at His feet and appreciate God for who He is. So, for the next couple weeks my theme is, "Trust. Be still."

Friday, March 21, 2014

What is Joy?

Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Joy.

Five Minute Friday

"Joy.... I think it is when you know with every fiber of your being that things are in their proper order, the way things ought to be." It was a different definition than I expected my husband to give, but sometimes coming at something from a different angle helps. Everything is in it's proper order, it's proper place. 

That means, God is in control and I accept and submit to that. I don't fight and struggle against the things I don't like, because I can choose to trust Him even when there are difficult hard things.

That means that I choose to live my life in harmony with the sphere He has given me. I am a wife, and that means I have certain obligations to my husband. I am a mother, and that means that I have certain responsibilities toward my daughter(s). I can choose resentment, or I can choose acceptance. Only one of those options is the path to joy. 

This explains why it is possible to choose joy in the midst of sorrow--why joy and sadness can exist at once. Sadness may be the opposite of happiness, but it is not the opposite of joy. I can be sad, I can grieve the loss of my son, Christian William. I should  be sad, I should grieve. The loss of a child is something that ought to bring sorrow. But there is joy in that sorrow as well. I know my son is happy, with Jesus. I know never meeting him on this earth was part of God's sovereign plan. I know the separation is temporary, a few years, and then our family will be together again. While my mother's heart still grieves, I can find peace in trust and submission. 

So while there is sorrow, there can also be joy, because--as much as is possible in a world of sin and the curse--things are in their proper order. God is in control. He is a good God, a kind Savior, a gracious Lord. He is worthy of trust. As long as I choose to believe and submit, as long as I choose trust, there is joy. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Mom-Fairy

No one ever prepared me for the amount of uncertainty in parenting. When my daughter was born I had about 5 books that I constantly referenced. One or two in the bathroom, one or two in the bedroom, one or two in the living room. I picked each of them up at least once or twice every few days, often more depending on which book was closest and which questions I happened need answers to that particular day.

I distinctly remember a few (okay, many) occasions when I'd toss the book down in frustration, unable to find an answer to the very specific issue I was dealing with. How was I supposed to know why the tiny person was crying? I'd tried everything!

All I wanted was an awesome mom fairy to sit on my shoulder and tell me exactly what my daughter needed--or a book that always had the exact right answer for that exact situation. I wasn't prepared for the serious learning curve of motherhood. I don't think anyone ever is.

The last couple weeks have been another learning curve. My sweet little girl, who has slept through the night for well over a year now, has been up more nights than she hasn't in the last couple weeks. First it was teething. Then a growth spurt. Then nightmares. Then allergies or a cold. I'm sure moving to a new home and totally disrupting her schedule--oh, and time change--hasn't helped. Toss in a couple nights where the new puppy was also dealing with the toddler issues of teething, growth spurt, a new diet, and a new home (and letting us all know about it in the middle of the night), and you have a recipe that would make even the most committed two year old sleeper wake up crying a few times.

I still don't have a mom-fairy to sit on my shoulder and tell me what my daughter needs, or a book that always has specific advice for that specific night's waking ("She's hungry, Sophia, take her a snack." or "It's a bad dream--she just needs a hug and to know that she is safe and everything is going to be okay"). And I have to admit, in the middle of the night I still think those things would be nice.

That said, God designed parenting the way He did for a reason. If I had a magic answer book, I wouldn't be quite as quick to plead for His help. I wouldn't be quite so fast to recognize my need for His wisdom. I probably wouldn't direct my daughter's attention to Him quite as naturally. And I certainly wouldn't learn nearly as much. Magic books and fairy-moms sound great in the bleary-eyed exhausted morning hours, but the training in trust and wisdom God gives me in the boot-camp of pre-dawn parenting is more valuable than any quick-fix that gets me back to sleep faster.

I'm not sure how long this stage will last, but while it is here I'm going to enjoy the extra time I have with my eldest daughter--the only child for just a few more weeks. I'm going to treasure her sleepy hugs, and the press of her body curling into mine. I'm going to thank God for the extra time we have together, no matter what hour of the night it is. I'm going to keep asking for wisdom and grace in every moment. I'm going to choose joy and thankfulness.

And I'm going to sleep in, as often as possible.

Meeting other homeschool moms, a little (or a lot!) farther down the path than I am
Getting ALL of the laundry done AND put away
Spur of the moment time with family
A fun game night
Great deals at a new-to-me store
Learning that "no" (even to myself) is the most freeing word in the English language

An early morning with my hubby
Sleeping in
Enjoying a good audio book while cleaning
Technology that allows me to join in on church services, even when I'm miles away with a sick little one
Birds, singing in the morning
Puppy pounces
A completed hand made table!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Crowd of Dreams

Five Minute Friday

My Sister in Law, Grace, challenged me in our accountability call to start writing again. "If you don't want to write your own blog post, at least join in on Five Minute Friday. You can do that."  At her prodding I agreed, although hestantly. Five Minute Friday has come and gone at least once since then, but here is my addition, late though it may be.
Here are the rules:
 1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you and leave an encouraging comment.

 Life has changed tremendously--gone places I could never have foreseen just three months ago. We have a backyard now, and a dog, a sweet not-so-little playhouse on stilts and nearly an acre of land to call our own. And then there is the baby--a sweet little girl due to make her way into this world in May, sometime around Mother's day (wouldn't that be a great day to celebrate her birth!).

I've had so many thoughts crowding through my mind lately. Dreams that used to be out of reach are solidly within the realm of possibility. Projects I've looked forward to are now achievable. My mind goes a mile a minute jumping from one thing to another. A garden? Some animals? More quilting? A mini orchard? Permaculture? Having company over just because it is more convienant now? Maybe even a tea party or two?

It all feels urgent as the countdown to baby begins in earnest. About 10 weeks left before my life takes a permanent change, before I have a newborn to take up most of my attention. If I want to start something new, it is either now or not for awhile. I felt the pressure of dreams waiting to be released into reality, dreams I'd waited so patiently for now begging to for freedom.

I wrote them all down--these thoughts crowding through my head. I took each one captive with a pencil and bound it with lead to paper. It all seemed so reasonable as each dream spoke to me--I can do all of this! Was my thought as I researched and studied. And yet, there are a dozen things on that list. More than one a week to do before the baby comes, and the smallest thing on the list involves potty training a toddler (and house training a puppy? I should put that down also...). Ha!

So, the crowd of dreams and thoughts are held at bay, chained to their paper. I step back and realize that even making just two or three of them a reality in the next couple months will be a major accomplishment. I am free to say "no" to the others for now. Or, perhaps, not "no" but simply, "be patient for just a little while longer."

As I think on these dreams, this crowd of self-drive and enthusiasm that I've just said "no" to, it occurs to me:

Perhaps the most freeing word in the English language is "No."

(definitely more than five minutes. There were diapers. And meals to put away. And two toddlers--of the human and canine variety--that needed naps. But! I did it. And that's the most important thing.)