Apr 062014
 

It’s Saturday, and Saturday is my night. It’s a short night because we don’t get home from church until pretty late. But it’s my night, and I love it.

Each of my children get a night, every week, where they stay up later than the others so we can talk about their lives. As a homeschool mom who has just survived a long winter inside with my children, you’d think I’d know all about their lives without any extra effort…but you’d be wrong. I mean, I know the visible stuff. What I don’t know is the invisible stuff. And the invisible stuff is infinitely more important. On each of these talking nights I learn things I would never know if I didn’t take the time to pry…if I didn’t ask the questions they were dying to answer. I shudder to think of the doors left cracked for the enemy if some small secrets remained hidden to quietly grow and grow. Every night I am shocked, amazed, stunned, and proud to get to know the warriors I am raising. I ask them…

 

“How was your week? What was the best/worst thing about this week?”

“How is your thought life?”

“Have you had any good/bad dreams this week?”

“What are your sin struggles? How can I pray for you?”

“How are you working to improve _____ (something that was mentioned the week before)?”

 

Saturday is my night. It’s the night I take special care to approach the Father as His daughter…and to tell Him about my week. He already knows the invisible things, but He likes to hear from my heart. I know, because He’s a parent, too.

 

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Jan 312014
 

Though it’s the oddest question one might pose to a single woman, women want to know how to get their husbands to lead.

“When is my husband going to become the head of our home? When is he going to study Scripture? When is he going to teach us? Time is passing…the kids are growing up! Is this ever going to happen?!”

This is my answer to that.

Godly women are constantly reminded by well-meaning preachers that children need godly fathers. Of course, this is a very real need. Satan works tirelessly to take out male leaders not despite but because of their strength. Their wives are belting out Sanctus Real at every possible opportunity. The problem is, to their husbands, “Lead me, please lead me! Please bless me and bless our children! Please be a godly man!” sounds an awful lot like nagging.

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. [Proverbs 21:19 NIV]

I’ve heard it said that mothers [alone] are not equipped to raise up and send out sons and daughters as men and women—that it’s impossible for them to do so. Well, we don’t believe in impossible around here. We do believe in ideal, and we know full-well we’re not living it yet. Ideal is a mother and a father functioning together in the same home; and where you have two spiritual parents, the father will and should lead. No, our family isn’t the model, but we’ve asked God to shine brightly through us and to work through willing vessels. He has. I’m not a father (my children already have two—one heavenly and one earthly), but I am a willing mother. And I sing a quiet song with Deborah [Judges 5:7-9 NIV].

Villagers in Israel would not fight;
they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
until I arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders
when war came to the city gates,
but not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel’s princes,
with the willing volunteers among the people.
Praise the Lord!
 

I believe we live in a society much like Deborah’s was. There are godly men and fathers, but there aren’t enough of them. Satan has stolen our men by way of addiction, pornography, pride… Even two-parent, church-going families often lack a husband who leads. Praise the Lord this isn’t always the case! But where it is, there is hope for us as mothers–more than hope, there is purpose and joy. Because He molds us in our weakness (because He promises us wisdom for trials [James 1]), God equips us to be everything our family needs in the exact moments our family needs us (whether we are married or not). God sees us. He honors us, and He works through us (despite of if not because of our gender). We don’t have to try and be something we’re not. Mothers are leaders; He made us to lead…and in leading to shape generations.

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I love reading through the accounts of kings in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Many of the genealogies in Scripture give little or no reference to the mothers, but this is not true with the kings. Most of their mothers are named. First we learn the king’s name and at what age he inherited the throne; then we learn his mother’s name. Lastly we learn whether he was righteous or wicked and whether he walked as his father had walked.

Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest. [2 Chronicles 24:1-2 NIV]

Kings rule countries and fight wars, they do not have the time to raise kings. We are told the names of these mothers (who were, for the most part, eventually widowed) because, for better or for worse, they can be credited with the deeds of their sons. This does not discount the importance of godly fathers, but it does make a case for strong, empowering, life-giving mothers who are not waiting for their husbands to father (or pleading with them to do so). A trustworthy queen does not usurp her king nor take any authority from him. But as his wife, she has authority. She is not weak; neither does she wait for him to do those things that could be easily done by her. He can trust her; he puts his faith in her, and that faith is well-placed.

 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. [Proverbs 31:11 KJV]

I am reminded of the Shunammite woman. If you don’t know her story, you can read it in Second Kings chapter four. The short version is that she spotted the prophet Elisha, she could tell he was a man of God, and she begged him to eat at her house. He did. Whenever he passed through town, he had an open invitation. Out of a desire to bless the work of the Lord that was so visible in Elisha, she talked her husband into adding a room onto their house just so Elisha and his servant would have a place to stay when passing through. All of this was her idea, but her husband didn’t seem to mind. I believe he trusted her.

After a time, Elisha asked the woman what he could do for her. Shunem must be south of somewhere, because she blessed his heart and told him she didn’t need a thing. Because his servant noticed the lack of children, however, Elisha promised her a child. This is a dream she had long since buried, and she was overwhelmed with emotion. But just as Elisha had said, the Shunammite woman had a son.

When her son was five years old, and outside with his father, he developed a terrible headache. The father sent him inside to his mother, and the boy died in his mother’s arms. The Shunammite carried her son up to Elisha’s bed, and then she asked her husband to fetch a donkey so she could go and visit Elisha. Her husband briefly questioned her reasons, to which she answered, “Everything’s fine.” In fact, “Everything’s fine” became her mantra until she was face-to-face with the prophet.

Elisha returned with the woman, and God raised her son from the dead. There is no further mention of her husband (who may have missed the entire ordeal while he was working in the field). One thing is clear, she did not tell him their son had died! Was he spiritually weak? Would he have lacked the faith needed for resurrection? Would telling her husband have simply been more than she was ready to bear? Scripture is not clear on this point. Whatever the reason, this earth-shattering need was a matter between the woman and God. The Shunammite woman did not throw herself at the feet of her husband; she did not beg him to lead or to do his job. She knew her role as a wife, and she knew her role as a mother.

While we should pray that God will raise up our husbands and empower and inspire them to lead, these prayers cannot be based in fear or in strife. We should be too busy raising up kings and queens without any doubt in our ability (or in His to work through us). He promises to Husband and Father where we have need or lack, but we have a job to do. It’s time to do it.

“I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children;”

– Susanna Wesley to her husband during a time of separation

 

 

 January 31, 2014  Mommyhood 6 Responses »
Jan 222014
 

What’s the hardest number of children? Have you seen this topic, lately? After watching it run across my Facebook newsfeed a few times in as many months, I’ve started to ponder the question. What is the most difficult number of children? And, more importantly, why would someone even think to ask that?

The short answer, I think, is: “However many you think it is–that’s the most difficult number.” I chortle a bit at those bloggers who have estimated the lucky (or unlucky) number at three. Because, of course, all those estimating three to be the hardest number actually have three children. But what do I know?! I never had three kids. To be honest, though, I do not imagine five to be the hardest number. I think five might be just enough to let me in on a simple fact of addition and multiplication: the more children you have, the harder it’ll be (especially until they are old enough to take over the farm or take care of each other). One could  add a dozen children to my home (to babysit), and I wouldn’t find it all that difficult. This mother of five has learned to coral kids, cook in bulk, play drill sergeant, etc. with the best of them. But what I’m really asking myself is: What’s the hardest number of children to mother (pray over, study, discipline, talk to, raise)? I believe that each individual child requires intentional, individual time (even if you can’t give them as much as you’d like to). So hats off to you and your sixty-nine kids, Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev. Oh, and hats off to Mr. Vassilyev as well. 

The reason that three is perceived to be harder than one or two and harder than four or more is not baseless, though. It actually makes a lot of sense. From my experience watching friends and quizzing readers, mothers of less than four often have very high expectations. Their children are regularly dressed to the nines, and they participate in everything. Wow, it wears me out just to type that. Now, I know that any generalization is going to miss the mark quite often, but I think mothers of four are at least a little more likely to say to their children, “OK, pick one extra-curricular thing you want to do. This year.” This likelihood increases exponentially with the number of children (of course the need for outside activities exponentially decreases, because there are sports teams forming in the backyard).

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It’s not true for everyone, but I think the average mom these days was at least slightly prepared for the number of children she would be raising before ever having her first. Many moms of “more” dreamed of a full-house long before filling theirs up; because of this, they’ve probably structured their lives to accommodate the lack of perfection, money, and time. Ummm…or is that just me? Motherhood is chock-full of opportunities for failure; where and how a mother surrenders to and accepts her own failure goes a long way toward embracing her joy. Mothers of more might seem less stressed simply because they envisioned parenting in organic simplicity. They weren’t planning on perfection (or they’ve long since abandoned their ideals). Often times, they weren’t planning on doing anything but parenting with their twenties and thirties (and forties?). This might sound like a terrible dunk in an icy tank of drudgery, but this mom of “many” might feel the same way about trading lives with anyone else.

For those who have hypothesized that smaller families are harder to raise than bigger families (based on watching the Michelle Duggars of this world and imagining that grace comes with the territory), here is my response to that: Here are the things that multiply with the addition of children:

 

Laundry:

I don’t know if any mom relishes the job of laundry. It’s never ending, and the washing is the easiest part. Once it’s clean and dry?! Fuhgettaboutit! So, I refuse to wash my children’s clothes until they are dirty. And many days I just order them into new underwear, cause the clothes (or pjs) from the previous day look and smell just fine. This is one of the many perks of homeschooling (nobody is gonna pick on them for wearing the same thing two days in a row). And, yeah, I take full advantage. If I were to wash my children’s clothes after every wearing, I’d be washing at least 70 articles of clothing (not counting socks and underwear) every week. That’s compared to the minimum of 42 articles required to clothe 3 kids. That’s the power of multiplication!

 

Dishes:

See laundry. Except, the dishes are all cleaned after use.

 

Expenses:

This year I bought my kids Hanukkah presents (Hanukkah doesn’t require gifts, but who doesn’t like buying their kids things!). That’s forty presents just to do something minimally! Shoes, clothes, groceries, mommy dates…this same multiplication is true (and terrifying) with everything.

 

Stuff:

Same as above.

 

There are some things that decrease with the addition of children, though, and it’s these decreases that might cause moms of a few to guess that moms of four or more have it easier. Come to think of it, maybe we do–though this secret is available to all moms. (Come on, friend, hand over the piping bag and the Pinterest list. It’s going to be okay.)

Of all the things that have increased in my life since having children: noise, love, stress, joy…the thing that has decreased is my expectations (see my rules for washing laundry). But oh, they started so high. Sometimes I shudder to think of the maddening run my life would be if I’d had few enough children to make my dreams remotely possible. Instead, God placed four babies into my lap within sixteen months. Then He chuckled and hid for a bit. I had to look to find Him.

Find Him I did, and I found Him in quiet moments with children who require little more than food, clothing, and shelter (both physically and spiritually). I still find Him while lying in the darkness and praying over each soul placed in my care. Time has decreased and each moment has become so precious. Standards have fallen, and grace has filled in the gaps.

Each day of parenting young children is like digging a swimming pool (the same one again and again). I wake up and begin to dig through the same ground I broke the day before. My shovel clanks against the same rocks. As the sun rises on my back, I begin to sweat. The frustration over repeated digging is almost too much to bear. “I just did this yesterday!” I sometimes moan. But by late afternoon, the water begins to run and the pool begins to fill. I can hear it gushing, but it’s not time to swim. Not yet. As the sun rides a cloud to the underside of the world, I dip my feet into the water. And as darkness comes, I float. How I love to float with my children. Of course, the morning sun will rise to reveal the same unbroken, thirsty ground…the same shovel for my blistered hands. One day, not too long from now, I’ll wake to indented ground; it’s already beautifully tilled and scarred. And someday in the future, I’ll blink sleepy eyes at a pool filled with sparkling water. Someday all my effort will show–it will stick. But not today; today it’s still time to dig.

I believe that the number of children one has does not determine the ease they’ll find in parenting them. That ease, that grace, comes only through surrender to something so hard it will break you, and something so beautiful once it finally does.

 January 22, 2014  Mommyhood 8 Responses »
Dec 242013
 

I was scrubbing dishes in the kitchen. I don’t like scrubbing dishes; bad things happen when I’m occupied with suds and my mind melts into the warm water. She pattered up behind me, and I could tell that she had news. I tell my children to come to me about anything–that they should come to me about anything. When they have ought against their brother, I point them toward forgiveness. I also teach them to work things out amongst themselves; but I’d rather hear about it, and handle it, than have them “handle it” themselves. So, now, we have a fine line between tattling to me and needing Mom. Though, even tattling works out from time-to-time.

She placed her hand on my waist and tugged at my shirt. “What is it, Honey?” I said.

Her eyes were wide with shock and tense with worry. She’d just heard something she shouldn’t hear; her sister had said a bad word. “She said the ‘sh’ word,” she mourned grimly.

“Oh,” I answered sadly, “You mean she told you to be quiet in a rude way?”

“No,” she shook her head rapidly while her eyes remained fixed and indignant.

“Oh!” I said as I dropped a dish to sink quickly beneath the foam, and I turned to run down the stairs.

As the heel of my foot hit the top step, the Lord snatched me up by the collar. I was angry; He wasn’t. My pride was hurt; His wasn’t. “My children…my children don’t curse!” Only one just had, and I needed to find out why.

I took a deep breath and walked the rest of the way down the stairs into the playroom. I walked straight toward the one with the potty-mouth. She was worried, and she squinted at the  tattler.

“Honey, where did you hear that word?” I whispered.

She told me, and I bowed my head. I was relived that it wasn’t from me (because I don’t have a perfect record), but I was sad that she’d heard it at all. It would be so great to live in a bubble!

“Well, hmmm,” I said slowly, “I’m glad that that came out! I had no idea it was in there.”

“You mean…I’m not in trouble?” she asked with a curious face.

“No, you’re not in trouble! Not this time. It’s not your fault that that word was inside your heart. It’s not your fault that it got there. If ugly stuff is inside us, it will come out when we’re mad. If it hadn’t come out of your mouth, it would have just grown and grown and caused more and more damage to your thinking. But now, we can deal with it. We can talk about it! And we can ask God to heal your thinking so it doesn’t bother you in secret or come out of your mouth again. When the bad stuff comes out, that’s good! We don’t want it to stay inside.”

She smiled; me too.

I don’t want to raise children with good mouths; I want to raise children with clean hearts. I just need Him to remind me sometimes.

Luke 12:1-3 (KJV)
In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Matthew 12:33-35 (KJV)
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

This story was almost a late addition chapter in my new book, but I decided to leave it short and blog it instead. If it blesses you, please consider buying the book. Other topics handled include:

  • Why do I have to obey?
  • What is sin?
  • Why is it wrong to whine?

          and

  • What happens when we die?

Have you read “Little Children. Big God.”? Have you had a conversation with your children that has pointed either them, or you, toward our Maker? Have you blogged about it? Comment, or e-mail, and I’ll include your link below!

 December 24, 2013  Mommyhood 1 Response »
May 092013
 

I have written since we last met. It’s just not publishable yet. There are posts piling high in my mind and in my drafts folder. My grandfather is dying, I recently met up with my favorite group of girlfriends, and I have quite a bit to say about single parenting. I still have a lot to say about marriage, too, though I’ve unfairly lost the right to offer those admonitions (or at least it feels that way).

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I’m hearing the usual chatter from wives. Many of them expect their husbands to do something big (pay attention, husbands!), and at least 50% of them will be disappointed at the close of the day. I really don’t understand that. After all, it’s “Mother’s Day,” not “Wives’ Day”. Don’t Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries offer enough manipulation? I’m sure my sweet children will color beautiful construction paper cards, but the ones I receive on Mother’s Day won’t mean more than the ones I received today….or yesterday…or the day before that. Why do we insist on measuring love by how much obligatory attention we receive on days dictated by a calendar that some man made? It doesn’t make sense to me.

I think we’ve invented holidays to make up for our lack of time and thoughtfulness throughout the year. The guilt over our selfishness rises and rises until we alleviate it on days set aside for such a purpose. If I’m a good mom (and I think I do okay) my kiddos might one day decide to spend their hard earned money on me, or call me out of the blue, or write me a note, or take me to lunch. And I hope they’ll think of me on many random days throughout the year. If they don’t, what good is the one day they feel they have to?

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As a single mom of little ones, I work hard. This week alone I’ve wiped more pee off of toilet seats, sopped up more flooded bathroom floors, graded more papers, picked up more mysterious scraps of paper trash, cooked more meals, de-gunked more stickiness, given more baths, scrubbed more dishes, clipped more nails, changed more sheets, refereed more fights, and kissed more boo boos than I care to count. Well, I don’t mind kissing boo boos. But I have said “boo boo” more than I’d like to. Motherhood is a selfless pile of sacrifice with rewards that are sometimes buried under too much laundry to be readily found. If I do it well, if I run a good race, my children will someday rise up and call me blessed. Maybe they’ll even do that on Mother’s Day. But if they decide to remember me on April 3rd or September 17th, I’m okay with that, too. Until then, I’ll do my best to set a good example by honoring the ones who have gone before me–the mothers who after years of service are finally seeing the fullness of their reward (or at least, they certainly deserve to). I hope they feel loved all year long.

{To the best Mom, Grandma, and Mother-in-law in the whole wide world!}

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 May 9, 2013  Mommyhood 15 Responses »
Dec 292012
 

I’m sittin’ here with a cup of lukewarm coffee. Actually, it’s hot now because I got up to zap it in the microwave. When it was given to me, though, it was lukewarm. When it was given to me, a joy bubbled from the depths of my being and I knew I had to share it with you.

About an hour ago, the kids and I were sitting around watching my laptop through the t.v. streaming our favorite Sabbath preacher. That might be a lazy way to have “church,” but it’s something below zero outside–and I don’t want to know how big that something is. This was the state of my windows, from the inside, this afternoon…

…which is why I reheated my coffee.

As we sat there, and the preacher spoke on our relationship with Jesus and how everything we do should be done out of a deep desire to please Him, my youngest daughter slipped from her spot and sneaked into the kitchen. My reflex action was to address her sneakiness, but the words caught in my throat. I coughed, and I turned to eye the rustling behind me, but I couldn’t see my daughter as she crouched behind the counter. Again, I intended to rebuke her. Again, I choked on the words.

I heard the tinkling of ceramic and the clang of metal, and I turned to look a third time. I watched as a chubby little hand attached to a tiny arm slipped my favorite coffee carafe back onto the counter. She tried to do so silently. She was almost successful. I couldn’t see past her elbow cause she was still crouching on the floor. I worried she was hittin’ the java until I noticed that my favorite mug was missing, too.

I turned my head back to the t.v. as she slowly, stealthily broke cover and headed toward the microwave. Out of the corner of my tearing eye, I watched as she tried to find the right buttons in the dark. I covered my mouth to hide elated giggles as the microwave beeped like crazy. She was able to warm the coffee about twenty seconds before opening the door in frustration and removing a barely warmed mug.

She carried it over to me quietly, not announcing her presence until she was standing directly before me–holding her offering in outstretched arms. The secrecy was important to her, obeying my wishes in the absence of an order. My children already know what I like, and coffee’s at the top of the list. She wasn’t appeasing me after a bad day or earning my love or my favor, she just wanted me to know that she loves me. She just wanted me to know that she knows me. I scooped her up and I thanked her. As I eyed the trail of little spills and tasted the lukewarm coffee, I nodded along to the words of my Father as He whispered, “Just like that. I want to be loved just like that.”

Now I think I’ll zap the coffee one more time as I open the Book that shares His heart and find out more about what He loves.

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 December 29, 2012  Christianity, Mommyhood 1 Response »
Oct 262012
 

I’ve waited a full month to write this story. I’ve told it, I tell it and tell it and I will keep on telling it forever, I’m sure. I knew I should bask for a few weeks, walk in quiet victory for awhile, before sharing it with the world, though. Now, to tell it accurately, I have to back up about nine years.

Once Papa Bear and I were married, we almost immediately began talking about children. I didn’t know I would want them so quickly, but watching that skinny Marine long for the fullness of family was the most endearing thing in the world. As I began to daydream about babies and children, I discovered something absolutely amazing about myself: I was the most incredible mother in the world!

Can anyone relate to that?

I wasn’t judgmental. I rarely, if ever, saw someone parenting contrary to my dreamed up methods and thought, “Oh, I will never let my kids act like that.” I just sat in quiet expectation and waited for my newly planted dreams to become a reality. I might as well admit that these dreams began to wilt about thirty-seconds after conception, though. I spent the first twelve of those thirty-six weeks in bed while my husband lived on Ramen and other such bachelor foods. To move meant to vomit uncontrollably, and to vomit meant to die–or to wish I would.

At twenty-weeks, doctors would learn what I’d known for awhile. The cause of my hyperemesis gravidarum was a pair of wrestling, trouble making girls. I knew then that God was giving me the gift of daughters. I know now that He was also holding out two precious children, handing them to me ever so lovingly and saying, “Here, hurry up and fail. I’ll be here when you finally realize you can’t do this.”

On my list of pre-pregnant musts and “to-dos” was a very strict no-yelling rule. I broke that one about twelve weeks into parenting in a sleep-deprived, colic-induced panic. I’m not sure I’ve ever admitted that to anyone. I yelled at my twelve week old infants! Once I had four (just thirteen months later), yelling–struggling not to yell–became a weekly battleground. I would not yell. I was not a yeller. I was not was not was not that mom!

But if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…

I was quickly becoming the one thing I had determined never to be.

Over the course of the past six years, I’ve talked about my tone with friends and mentors and pastors. I’ve pleaded for prayer and told them how desperately I desired to be the honey-speeched mother who led her children through encouraging whispers. They’ve prayed over me, advised me, comforted me. But when I’ve woken to find the results of a midnight raid or found my favorite face wash used as Barbie’s bubble bath…I’ve still yelled. I’ve yelled (lost it, blown-up) and apologized, yelled and apologized. I’ve repented through tears. And I’ve gone to bed, on so many nights, feeling like the world’s biggest failure–at the very least, the world’s worst mom.

A month and a few days ago, after my regular bi-monthly Bible study where we’re taught all things parenting and marriage, a sweet friend and I sat up late and talked. We talked until three in the morning. We were both struggling, first and foremost, with the same issue in our parenting; we lamented our lack of success and then both agreed to pray continually for each other.

So many things can be said between eleven p.m. and three a.m., but I remember mourning one thing specifically, “I know God can deliver me from this curse of yelling, but I just wish He’d done it while my kids were too young to ever remember a yelling mom.” We both agreed on that point. We both sighed.

When I finally crawled into bed that night, it was close to four a.m. I felt certain I had ruined my Wednesday before it really started, and I mumbled half a prayer before falling asleep mid-breath. I woke up at seven with the same hair color, the same stretch marks, and the same ten extra pounds as the day before. I wasn’t taller or shorter. But before I opened my eyes I saw a picture in my mind. It was of a simple glass jar, and scrawled on the front in black Sharpie was one word: “Mean!”

I was as happy as a pig on Hanukkah. I knew God was showing me something important! I sat up in bed and asked Him about what I had just seen, and then I ran to the living room to greet my children and to tell them about our new plan.

I stuffed about twenty tickets into a large brown envelope, and I wrote the following on the front:

If I yell at you, put a ticket in the jar.

If I receive ten tickets in four days, I owe you an “I’m sorry” party.

If I receive zero tickets in four days, we’ll have a victory party!

I’ll empty the jar every fourth day.

I explained the plan to the kids, and they were all excited to help. Everyone was rooting for a victory party, and we threw our very first one only four days later. Two weeks and no tickets later, I sat in tears in my bathroom and talked with God about what had shifted. What had happened? It was then that He revealed to me the day He’d chosen to give me our simple, vastly ineloquent no-yelling plan. Some people call it the Day of Atonement. It’s also called Yom Kippur. From now on, I’ll call it the day I stopped yelling–the day I stopped trying to stop yelling–the day God stepped in and took over. It’s now the day I stopped apologizing to my kids for something I couldn’t change and instead let them battle with me. If think you’ve known joy, just wait until your six year old zooms through the living room, eyes your jar, and elates, “Mom, it’s still empty!! We’re beating the Devil!!” If you think your children respect you because you’ve done your best to hide your sin and struggles, just wait till you’re washed in the respect that comes after laying bare your flesh and allowing them to witness your victory.

When you come to my house, you’re welcome to take a peek in the “Mean!” jar. It’s right out for all to see. Right now, there are two tickets in there. I earned one while I was trying to take a shower in the middle of the day and the other one while I was trying to pay a bill via an automated system. I’m so excited I get to empty the jar tomorrow morning! I’m a human being, and that’s OK–or at least, it’s been paid for. He knows all about my failure. He knows all about what I can’t do without following step for step in His plan. When He gave me my wonderful children, God winked at me and said, “Here, fail.” For it is only in my failure that I learn, and it is only in my weakness that I fall broken into the arms of my Savior.

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 October 26, 2012  Christianity, Mommyhood 8 Responses »
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