Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, May 23, 2014

Finding Love In the Quiet

Today my husband took the big 4 to ride bikes in the church parking lot.  They were away for a good 3 hours or so.  Aside from my 21 month old, Jeremiah, I was alone in the house and even though he didn't want to nap, he was so easy and compliant; playing with his "car-ees." I was so grateful for this time; so much needed. I felt spoiled by it. I felt like I deserved it.  Like life was on hold until this moment when I could finally breathe and listen and hear absolutely nothing..or, almost nothing.. 

It was a gift.

I took a long bath. I think I sat in there for almost an hour and read a book my mama gave me a few days ago.  Jeremiah came in to stand beside the tub and jabber away and run his cars along the ledge. Once in awhile, he'd drop one in and have me retrieve it, a quiet giggle and sparkle in his eye as he pointed and said "car!"  Then, "dank doo, Mama," and back to vroom-vrooming them along the porcelain.

After I got out of the tub, I put on a comfy flowing skirt and short-sleeve shirt and sat on my exercise ball as I continued to read the book and simultaneously play with my son when he wanted my attention.  A gentle breeze floated in and out of the open windows and sliding glass door, calming my normally frazzled mind.

I realized that I had been experiencing slightly more intense Braxton Hicks most of the day, and I started to think about this baby.  I never really have the time or the energy to focus on her.  It's funny how life is.  How when you have baby after baby and the demands of the daily grind encircle you and create a sort of "survival" mode and tunnel vision, you don't ponder much about the coming months or the coming baby tucked inside your very pregnant belly.  Between homeschooling and chores and trying to keep on top of everything, while battling a constant state of anxiety and some dark moments of depression, as well as the usual busy life of a regular family of 7-almost-8, it just doesn't leave a lot of space to focus and process the next stage, the new dynamic, the task of making room for my heart to grow ever bigger.

So I sat there, gently rolling back and forth on my ball, thinking about this baby who will be here in less time than I really understand.  I think about her in her small fragility, not so much floating around inside me as she once did, but stretching and pushing and moving to find room for her rapidly-growing limbs.  I think about her eyes and if she'll have blue like 4 of my children or brown like my current middle child and her daddy.  I think about the birth and how I am frightened and at the same time, excited.

I think about the what-ifs and the never-wills and all the lessons I will re-learn and learn anew with this baby.  And I realize how utterly tired I really am.  How exhausted my body and my brain are.  How for the last 10+ years I have been either pregnant or nursing and how this baby will continue my streak of life-giving capabilities, and I'm both honored and humbled by the very idea.  I think about all the negativity I have and will receive for having such a big family in today's "two-at-most-a-boy-and-a-girl-are-perfect" world.  And I think how in the bigger picture, it really doesn't matter.

I think about my c-section scar; my battle scar from my very first birth.  And how far I've come from that naive and scared 22 year old's view of life.  I think about the stretch marks that grace my belly, and how I have a love-hate relationship with them, and with my extra baby weight.  I think about these things - little moments I remember from my past as a new mother, snippets of all the times I failed over and over, memories of joys I found in each newborn babe - all of it mingled and intertwined into one long stretch of motherhood where giving birth and surviving the first year were really not the horrors I thought them to be at the time..  and I breathe deeply in, I sigh, and I realize.... THIS is what life is about.  I AM living.  I'm holding on, traveling the parenting tunnel, taking my children along by their hands as they take me along by my heart. 

I received a text from my husband telling me he was on his way. I geared up for the noise and chaos that would ensue when the door opened and they all rumbled inside with the breeze and the spring sun still warm on their skin.  I've been having issues lately with noise and my nerves and I knew it wouldn't be pleasant to have their noise return.  But I also knew that those hours I just had to myself were indeed a gift - but were not THE gift.  The gift was my family, coming home to me after a few hours of time to themselves, filling my home once more with their laughter, scent and yes, even their chaos.  It was having them rub and love up on my belly, talking to their baby sister inside, and then just as quickly flitting off again.  It was the snuggling my almost-5 year old is so good at, and the easy way my older son settles in to alone mode to play with his Angry Birds for a time.  It was that familiar and comforting atmosphere of the past 10 years of life enveloping our home, regardless of the difficulties or the negative. 

It was pure, unadulterated Love.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

And So..What Would Jesus Do?????

MAJOR fail today.

The cliche "what would Jesus do?" is actually seriously a good thought to have before you speak or do anything, especially in a difficult/hurtful situation.  Jesus was always loving.  He was a "turn the other cheek" kinda guy. Hello.....crucifixion!   I can't even imagine having all these terrible things said about me, physical and verbal abuse and spit flying in my face, rejection from other people and STILL be able to show love.  I've tried. It's really really difficult.  Especially the type of deep love Jesus showed. I mean, there is NO deeper love than to die in such a horrible way for other people.  And yet, Jesus did it.  He took all the insults and the hurt and the sin and he covered His body in it and hung on a cross in what the world looked upon as "shame."

And yet, here I am, with my life so drastically different than about 2 years ago where I was venturing toward a deeper understanding of Christian love, finding myself facing the opposite direction of where I was headed.  I have taken a detour.  Since the event that changed me, drew me into darkness, made me all but forget my call to be Christian and loving and think at all times, "what would Jesus do," I have failed time and time again.  I made progress in my recovery and healing and found myself drawing closer to the Lord in general, but that Christian love was still so elusive at times.  I am still so raw and broken, more-so than I truly realized, and am incapable of caring very much (in the moment) if I just completely fail in my quest and my call to be loving, and do what Jesus would.  He asks us to follow Him. It doesn't just mean follow Him in our physical footsteps, but with our hearts and our actions - to truly do what He does.

Everyone is a sinner.  I know this.  I am a big fat sinner. I NEED Christ in my life because of this.  I am convicted of my faults and failings and try all the time to do better.  But with certain people, some days- I'm not going to lie- I just don't care.  Today is one of those days.  I just didn't care.  I just didn't care if I said mean things, even if they were rooted in truthful events. I just didn't care if I was unloving and unkind and hurt people with my words.  I just couldn't muster up anything but the numbness I fall into sometimes toward my actions, and the anger I allow to seep out.  When I am weak, I fail.  Today I was very very weak.  Weaker than I've felt in some time.  I felt like a mama bear, because it was about someone hurting my child, and the "wild" in me came out. 

And, dear precious Lord, forgive me, I still don't care. I mean, I have now come to the point of feeling bad that I couldn't do what Jesus would....But I don't find myself feeling so poorly about it that I am devastated.  Is this a result of all the damage the person has done to me?  I don't know.  It sorta scares me.  I've always cared before when I've been unloving to someone.  When the conviction comes, I am always devastated.  Because I want to do better. I'm always wanting to do exactly what I should. I want so badly to be a better person, and to always recognize my need to try harder.  I try to be gentle with myself, but at the same time, give myself the sternness Jesus would if He was standing right here, love intertwined as He would say "go and sin no more."   This time....this time I don't want to do it again.  But I find myself feeling not so bad that I did it at all.  I mean, I do feel bad, but maybe not as bad as I should..  I don't want to apologize.  I've always wanted to apologize before.

Please pray for me, friends. I really desperately need it.