I signed up to share a devotion at my MOPs group and as I thought and prayed about what I wanted to share, it left me with lots of questions
How do I encourage mothers of preschoolers?
What have I learned from my own experiences as a mother that I can share?
What do I even have to offer?
How God is stealing my identity….
Ephesians 2:1, 4, 9&10 reads “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together in Christ-by grace you have been saved. Not as result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
I know what I’m not. I’m not consistently organized or consistent at planning. I’m not a pioneer woman. I don’t can, quilt, or make cloth diapers for my baby or myself. Trying to get to the store with a list and coupons on the first trip has yet to happen, let alone remembering that I even brought the list or the coupons while at the store. I don’t have my freezer stocked with ready-to-eat meals made from scratch just waiting for a friend to have a baby so I can make more. I come up so short compared to all the amazing women that make it look simple.
I’m incredibly impulsive and lived my childhood in a daydream and spent my high school and college years making reckless decisions that looking back probably could have killed me.
The truth is I’m not one of those women that can say “all I ever wanted was to be a wife and a mother” I’ve known what I wanted for my life since I was 4 and there was not much room in that plan for a husband or children. The little bit of making planned out decisions was my best effort at getting me to that goal, but it wasn’t much because I really thought it would just happen, you know destiny!
So all I can really talk about is how surrendering to God’s plan for my life has been the greatest thing I could have done and while its still hard to think that I have dreamed for myself and it will probably never be in my cards, I’m learning to be okay with it.
Because I’m impulsive and a reckless dreamer, it’s not hard for me to trust that God has a plan, because destiny and providence make it easy to sum up why something did or didn’t happen. Actually coming to terms with living in the mundane day to day reality of life with God’s plan is a little harder.
Because I thought God knew better then to give kids to someone like me, I didn’t plan or read any books or dream about what my kids would be like. So holding my baby daughter for the first time was when I realized that I didn’t have what it takes to be a mother and I can really pinpoint as the beginning of the journey of being part of God‘s plan, despite my disqualifications as “the perfect mother“.
I did not want a girl, I begged God to let me have a boy, I didn’t like a lot of things that came with this gender and I knew that I didn’t have the bows or the dresses or the disposition at that time for a daughter. But God gave me a girl. I refused to put her in pink, her first word was pink and everything had to be pink from then on. God used my little baby, Truth, to teach me that being feminine and girly doesn’t mean you are weak. God used my first child to teach me to trust that God designs women for amazing things in a world that I had skewed as being catered for men because of some negative influences in my own childhood. Then another daughter came along. I really struggled with that awareness. My marriage was in a painful place and I hated the idea of being a carbon copy of my own mother, single with two little girls. So I, not very gracefully, began dealing with my ideals on marriage and motherhood and God used my baby girl Jacky to cool my temper. I had seen bullying in its darkest form and was determined to never be a victim, but what happened was I became that monster and I held my family in the clutches of my bitterness and God slowly poured his kindness into me and I had to come to terms with the fact that I was on my way to being the very same alcoholic abusive person that had wrecked my childhood.
I can’t even imagine who else could have shaped me so rapidly as my two baby girls. Being a mother makes you see who you truly are, your strengths, your beauty, and your weaknesses and your ugliness and I’m so grateful for a God who chose just the right time for me to have those kids to begin the journey.
So five years went by and surprisingly, miraculously we didn’t get pregnant. My husband is just as spontaneous as I am, so we’ve never actually planned a pregnancy, we pretty much lived on a wing and a prayer. I knew I wanted more and was 99.99% sure that our next baby would be the little boy I still hoped for. I remember waking up the morning of our ultra-sound thinking “Crap! It could actually be a girl!” That baby was the first time I had actually done a lot of pre-planning, I actually put together a nursery and had an official baby shower and all that. That little boy was a schedule baby, he nursed at the same time everyday, had naps at the same time everyday. It was great to actually be able to maintain my regular routines with some minor adjustments. I thought “Wow boys are so much easier as babies then girls” until he started walking, then I had to learn patience and deep-breathing techniques. So what did my little Luke teach me? That my identity is not wrapped up in the behavior of my kids. You see, I really thought that people could just look at how well mannered my girls were, how well they behaved and know that I was a good Christian mother. God used that boy to teach me that kids are kids and their actions aren‘t always a reflection on whether the parents are doing something right or wrong. Suddenly I became very thankful that God allowed 5 years for me to grow the necessary character changes I needed to handle a rambunctious bundle of testosterone that is my son.
Then we were done with kids, I felt complete, no looking back. I felt like I had everything anyone could want, a stronger marriage, three amazing kids, a house with an attached garage, a dog, the fence, blah, blah, blah…so I began to dream again of what I wanted for me and set my mind to do what I thought needed to be done for my family. I was going back to school and I was going to have the life I wanted for my children. Then I got pregnant, it happened so against my planning that my body completely rearranged its schedule for that baby to be possible. And I was in denial until the second trimester. I was dumbfounded. What was God thinking? Plus how was I going to be able to handle two boys? I would be that mom, the one with grey hair by the time my boys were kindergartners. Was I ever going to be able to just be me, to do what I wanted, when and how I wanted?
Asher brought me to my most desperate need for God as a mother. I really, really saw what I was not capable of doing and I had to allow other people to see me at my worst. I had to accept the help offered, even if it wasn’t “good enough” for me. I had to accept the fact that my life was either going to be lived in the will of God, as I so admittedly told Him I wanted or it was going to be lived for my desires and to prove myself good enough and that would only leave me exhausted, angry and hateful of myself and everyone else at the end of the day.
Asher is tender-hearted and nurturing and I began to see my husband in a new way. What I saw as an annoying tendencies are really sweet actions that comes from a tenderness I wasn’t accustomed to see until I saw it reflected in the personality of Asher.
It has been a steady stream of me recognizing what I’ve put my identity in and slowly surrendering those areas to God. it’s a slow, steady process of recognizing that maybe my way, as right as it seems to me, may not be the way God uses everyone else.
As women it’s so easy to look around and think that because we can’t do things as effortlessly as another might, we…I tend to think that I need to just try harder, rearrange everything, but really God just wants us to admit that we aren’t enough and we need him to give us what we need to do it all.
Thank God, that at the end of the day when I am spent and I’m snuggled under a blanket on the couch ready to fall asleep watching tv and the dishes are all over the kitchen, the front room is trashed, the laundry backed up…still and the kid’s bathroom probably hasn’t been flushed all day, that my Creator still cherishes me and still includes me in his great plan to bring glory to himself.