"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Mother's Job Is Never Done

I shared this letter as a recommended post in the last My Mommy Minute post.  I was so happy I came across it and really enjoyed it.  In fact, I sent the link to my sister as soon as I finished and said "I plan to share this in a MMM but thought it was good and wanted to share right now."  I liked it.  I really did. 

But there was a part of it that I have been thinking about.  I thought of it when I shared it and now ten days later it is still floating in my brain so I'm going to jot some of my thoughts down. 

I loved how the author said that after a baby we will be different.  We will.  No doubt.  And all those ways she said we would be different I could relate to and agree with....except one.

She says:
 "You will learn to love fiercely and wildly without expectations, and for the first time in your whole life, your heart will default to selflessness—a part of you that always existed but was buried deep down inside—waiting for this moment, this change, this baby, this occasion to rise."
I know it's safe to say I'm not the only one that struggles with this.  Just because I experienced the miracle of childbirth both in my womb and through adoption, my heart doesn't always default to selflessness. 
Now,  know I'm not being nit picky with this.  And I am not trying to pick her post apart.  I'm trying to dig deeper and look at my heart and what I can do about what I have noticed.
I love my children. LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  But I also love myself a lot too much.
If there is one thing I have learned about motherhood it is sacrifice.  As a mom, we now have someone completely dependent upon us and who may need us at all hours of the night. And that is a high privilege.
I chose to have my children, both through birth and adoption.  I know children are a blessing. Yet laying my life down for them isn't always top on my list.  Of course I would say it is, and overall, yes it does unfold that way.  But I'm talking in those mundane moments.  Those middle of the night moments.  Those hot and sweaty hundred degree summer moments.  Those you just want some peace and quiet moments. Those moments.
I don't always want to get up at 2:30am to nurse my baby. 
I don't like to get up from the dinner table to get a cup of water.
I don't enjoy when I must stop making dinner to referee a sibling squabble.
I don't want to get out the crafts because I will have a mess to clean.
I'm tempted to overlook a sinful disobedience because I just don't feel like dealing with it. again.

When it is bedtime (or naptime) I like to do our routine and then it's done. Four kids in bed and now a couple hours to myself.  But when I huff my breath or roll of my eyes when I hear "Mommy....I need you" coming through the monitor, it shows my heart.

And all glory to God, that I can say that it's not like this 100% of the time.  But it is still some of the time.  And that, is too much of the time.

So how can we mamas handle this?  What does the Word of God say about this?

I am not perfect.  I am still a sinner in need of grace.  Daily.  I am being sanctified and maybe when my kids are all grown I will finally be selfless....but I doubt it.

Though I am not sinless, I must remember that I am a new creation. I have the Holy Spirit living in me and by His grace and power, I can choose to honor Him. In our human nature, we are selfish.  To be selfless and giving of ourselves is supernatural.  But as believers, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." (Eph 1:3-4)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Cor 5:17)

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, through the knowledge of him who called to us his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." (2 Peter 1:3)

We must escape the belief that is in the world because of the sinful desire of selfishness.  We do not "deserve" time to have to ourselves.  (So many thoughts on this, but I will refrain for now or this will get too long! And no, I'm not talking about extremes here!!) Just because I put hours on the clock of being a mommy doesn't mean I "earned" some time to check out of life and zone out on facebook. If I worked hard over preparing dinner but my children ask me to read them a story afterward, I need to escape the thinking that I don't need to lay down my life any more for them that day. Being a mom is now part of us.  Our identity is in Christ, but it is part of who we are.  It requires all of us all the time.

Our lives are not about us. Or even about our children.  It is about Him.

"and he died for all, that those who love might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for their sake and was raised." (2 Cor 5:15)

Our hearts wander and we forget that we are here to serve God.  Every fiber of our being is made for His glory. We get too focused on ourselves and our pleasure and start taking stock of how much we have given to our children and how much we haven't gotten in return. It is only because of Him that we have life and that we are entrusted with the lives of our children.

I'm not saying it is selfish to want a shower alone.  Or a chance to be able to paint your nails. Or look at your choice of social media. Or have a conversation with a friend. Or have quiet time in the Word. It's not selfish to not want my child to crawl all over me while I try to eat breakfast. But my reaction can be sinful and selfish. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

It's about the heart. Let's focus on putting on selflessness by sacrificing and loving as Jesus did.
Though I cannot take the heavy sigh or the harsh tone I blurted out at my child, I can repent and ask their forgiveness and by God's grace and His work in our lives we will be made more into His likeness. And it will slowly be put off and rear its ugly head less and less. 

Maybe selflessness looks like this.  The putting aside our agendas and wants to serve our children.  To see them not as interruptions, but instead to have them come along side us.  One load of laundry may be all that was accomplished on my to do list because my three year old helped fold.  The silverware may be in the drawer upside down and backward because my two year old emptied the dishwasher.  When my one year old brings me a pair of her shoes to put on her again-because she loves them so-I will take the time to do it.  And when my teething baby needs extra cuddles and nursing that day, I will put aside the things I thought needed to be done and planned to do.  (please don't neglect your homes! That isn't what I'm saying!!) Stop and be present.  That is often what selflessness can look like as we serve our children.  And when we are present, we will find joy.  These are the moments that we will remember when we look back at raising our children. And what God intended for us to get done that day will get done.

Pray for joy.  Pray for generosity and sensitive conscience. Pray for a sacrificial heart that would find joy in laying down our lives and preferences for our children.  It is easy to think "well I'm the mom, so I get to have it my way..." But is that what is most glorifying to God? Is there anything that could even come close to the sacrifice that was made for us?
"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." (Phil 2:3-8)

Pray as Jonathon Edwards used to pray: that God would "stamp eternity on my eyeballs."

Gloria Furman writes in her book practical application for mothers from Psalm 119:
 "I want to hope in God when my kids wake me up before my alarm.  I want to love God's word all day when I'm entrenched in the mundane work around my house.  I want to meditate on God's promises and praise him and remember him when I'm up with the baby at midnight and at 3am (and 10pm, 2am, and 5am during growth spurts).  According to Psalm 119, there is no time of the day or night when God's word is not relevant to our lives.  Even as we're more preoccupied with getting school lunches made and outfits chosen for family pictures, God's word can raise our gaze to the horizon of eternity." (page 54)
"I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law." (vs 55)
"At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules." (vs 62)
"Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day." (vs 97)
"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words." (vs 147)
"My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise." (vs 148)

I came across another great GirlTalk blog post that referenced a book that I have read (and may I also add that he is a pastor in my church's association, past speaker at our church's conference and also lives in Holland, MI where I went to college....so I was very excited to see this reference from someone I have actually met!)

         "In his book, Womanly Dominion, Mr. Chanski brings us encouragement right where we need it:
“There she sits exhausted on the edge of her bed, her face in her hands, wondering, “Where’s the glory in this?”
She needs something more empowering to keep her going.
She needs to gain and maintain the deep conviction of the glory, honor, and nobility of selfless service. This she finds at the foot of the cross, looking up to the One who earned for Himself “the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9), by “emptying Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (2:7), humbling “Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8). There she beholds her Savior who mopped up the damning vomit of her own sin with the precious sponge of His perfect life and atoning death. The love of Christ constrains and compels her to press on (2 Corinthians 5:14). The Spirit of Christ empowers her” (pp. 120-121, emphasis mine)."

Ladies, the glory is in the worship.  The nobility is in our sacrifice.  The honor is in the praise we bring our Savior. Our mothering is our act of worship. When we choose to see the million tasks our children require of us each day as opportunities to worship, we will find joy there. When we gaze our eyes upon the cross we can love.  So when you find yourself, as I sometimes do, lacking joy or feeling mundane and growing weary, take heart.  Refresh your mind with God's Word and remember that those little ordinary tasks that blend in day after day are meaningful to Him.  And He is the only one who sees your heart and the attitude we have while doing them. Work unto Him. To Him be the glory.

"We love only because he first loved us". (1 John 4:19)

And we must remember, His mercies are new every morning.  Every hour.  Every moment. Because we won't always worship.  We will whine.  We will fail.  But we will hide ourselves in the One who gives us rest and who's power is made perfect in our weakness.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I will hope in him." (Lam 3:22-24)

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9)

Jesus paid it all.  We are righteous in Christ and we are forgiven of sin.  Of our selfishness. We are forgiven and free.  Free to love and free to lay down our lives.  Free to let love reign and run this race to the finish line.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:21)

Project 52: August 17-23

Sunday we flew home from Michigan! Raelynn was looking at my pictures on my phone during the flight and wanted to take a few "silly faces" of mommy. I happened to be reading a book while colt was asleep in the ergo!

Monday night it rained, so Tuesday we woke up to a few puddles and slightly cooler temps. We live on a cal-de-sac of sorts so we went out riding bikes (got me SO excited for winter to come!!) and went on a search for some puddles.

It's like they've never seen puddles before.  Oh, wait--they haven't!

this one will always find a way to take it to the next level

pretty sure Elliana is gargling the water here.  Rain water is clean, right? ;)
It was fun.  Fun to see their joy.  Fun to put my hands and feet in the water and make prints on the cement.  Fun to laugh and jump along with them.  Later they found mud and I was about to tell them to stay out and keep clean and blah blah blah.  But hey, the water washes it all off, right?!
silly kids.  love when I catch them having fun together:)

This big boy started on finger foods this week!!
LOVES food!!

Was playing peek-a-boo around the dresser while I nursed Colt.  I love capturing her 'real' smiles...

Elliana....when you don't know where she is, just look near the shoes! She is always putting on other people's shoes

I was using my phone to show Elliana her pigtails after I finished doing them.  Her face was priceless!

Grocery shopping with my crew. Enjoying our free Subway cookie with our coupon from the Diamondbacks game.  The twins wanted to sit at the table this week with Raelynn.....so mama, with Colt in ergo on my chest lifts them out of the cart just for 1/3 of a cookie then back in the cart we go.  Never a dull moment with us:)


No Friday Swim and Din this week at Grandma and Tank's house, but we did swim on Saturday at our friend's new pool! Elliana is so brave jumping off the board!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Project 52: August 11-16

This entire week was spent in Michigan.  These are just my phone pictures...
Sunday was spent driving to Midland for church then to Fairgrove to visit Great Papa.  We stopped at the house I grew up at just long enough to change into our bathing suits, pick green peppers, and feed the fish.
Sunday Snapshot:
helping Papa pick veggies from his garden.

Feeding the fish! What a beautiful backyard, right?!
Back in Ludington:
Children's Museum
Declan and Isaiah
We had a lot of campfires! (or as Raelynn said "watching the fire")
We went on boat rides
picking fresh Michigan blueberries!
a tea party!
I painted Raelynn's nails.  Then she wanted to paint mine.  Why not? :) Best pedicure I've ever had.
Mimi and Papa with the babies

One last picture!!
Our camper:
We had Declan sleep in the back little bedroom, Elliana on the couch that folded to a bed, and Colt in the pack n play.  Raelynn slept at Mimi and Papa's camper, which she thought was special! It was such an awesome time with a lot of memories made.  Camping with three toddlers and a baby may sound a little crazy, but there wasn't any points that we thought it was a bad idea:)  Such a great time!



Project 52: August 3-10

Sunday Snapshot:
This boy moved from his crib to a "big boy bed" on Sunday.  He was so excited!
This week we said good bye to Kacia for a few months.   She is going to spend time in the Philippines as a nanny for a little boy.  The little boy's parents run Glory Reborn in Cebu City.  Though we will miss her SO much, we are so excited for her to see another part of the world, serve others, and learn more about how great our God is.  She will have a lot of opportunities to serve others and minister to them as she can be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth.  We are able to text and have done facetime with her, so it's good we can keep in touch! Kacia is a treasure to our family!

During quiet time this week I had told the twins they could have quiet time in Declan's room together...this is what they did:)

Thursday birght and EARLY we headed to the airport for our 6am flight to Michigan!

looking at the planes as they wait
Let's just say this flight went MUCH better for Brent than the last time he flew with Elliana:)  We didn't expect the kids to sleep, which they didn't.  They didn't watch the movie as well as we thought they would though either.  But I did look over at one point and saw this...so it proves the flight wasn't too bad if he could close his eyes, right? 
And I got a taste of what it was like for Brent to fly with Elliana home from Ethiopia...except she couldn't sit up or support her head very much. And they didn't let him keep her in the ergo.  So I felt his pain as I had Colt in the ergo a lot of the flight and when I didn't I could at least have him sit up and grab at toys.  And he can support himself on his legs so he stood up.  And even with all that it was a lot of work to fly with him on my lap!
We were in Ludington Michigan for 10 days.  These are the pictures just from my phone.  I have many more I will want to post...but first I should probably get my California trip pictures up! HA
Our home for 10 days:)


I was able to visit my best friend from college, who just had a baby!
 We left Raelynn with Mimi and Papa because we didn't have enough room to take all of us in one car.  At one point I looked in the backseat and saw this.....
While we were gone for the day, Raelynn went fishing with Papa
They were fishing when we returned so we stopped and said Hi.  And Papa wanted to show Declan the worms!

Project 52: July 27-August 2

Sunday Snapshot:
We drove down to Casa Grande after church to visit Grandma Helen and Grandpa David.
Who doesn't want to eat in a jungle?
Sunday night we were playing outside and the three bigs were playing so well on this play set.  Raelynn wanted to eat on it like they were in the jungle...so we did just that!

This week was Vacation Bible School at church!
These kids are great.  They are mine, so I'm a little biased, but I am just so blessed.  These moments remind me of that:)  They do such a good job of holding hands to walk places so we can all walk together safe and sound.

This is blurry because I had to snap quick because I was afraid he'd fall out!
Laundry day is always exciting around here...
They all love being pulled around in here! Gives mama some exercise too:)

Where one is the other is sure to follow....

I was in the kitchen prepping dinner and I heard giggles...these two were at the landing on the stairs having a drink together.  One would fall to their bottom then the other would copy.  One would stand up and the other would copy.  Repeated again and again!

Daddy is such a servant for his family.  He decided it would be a good night to go get the Rug Doctor and clean the carpets.  We have crossed over the year marker for living in our house and we never had a chance to do it before moving in.  So it was time:)  He did it while the kids were sleeping! NONE of them woke up, can you believe that?! It is LOUD!
This girl so happy that she buckled herself in completely! Big moment when you are a three year old and miss independent.
We celebrated our five year wedding anniversary on August 1! We were able to get away to a very nice resort in Scottsdale for a few days.  We are so thankful that Grandma and Tank could watch ALL four of the kids for us!
We went to Jesterz Improv (which is also where we went on our first date:) and if you take a pic and post it on IG or FB, you get a free soda or water! :)
We left Thursday night after Brent got home from work. Thursday we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Flemings. It was pretty special to go to a place that kept calling us Mr. and Mrs. Frazey. They had emailed us a $25 gift card because we are signed up for their savings program, so we were able to use that.  It was definitely a treat! Friday we slept in and realized how long it had been since we just woke up and stayed in bed awake just resting.  Now it's either get up to a crying child or an alarm clock:)  We purchased a groupon for Studio Movie Grill and went there on Friday afternoon.  Friday evening we went back to Gilbert for the VBS presentation at church.  Saturday we hung out at the pool all day and went to eat at the restaurant located at the resort.  After we tried several places to go and just could not decide what to do.  We ended up at Zipp's to play darts.  It was such a fun weekend away just the two of us! But definitely missed our four littles, too.

The Scottsdale Plaza Resort-we literally had the two pools and huge spa (on left in picture) ALL to ourselves! Who else would want to vacation in Arizona in the summer?!
Friday Swim and Din
photo courtesy of Grandma, stolen by me off facebook:)