Taking the Time

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This is only about my fourth or fifth post in to blogging, and I’m afraid that I’m about to sound like a broken record. As a mother of three and a first-born child, I’ve been known to lean towards the bossy side (I call it strong leadership tendencies), and repeat myself. So if this post sounds like something you read here, just know that you’ve been warned. It’s something I do often.

But I digress.  Since coming back from a whirlwind family vacation full of Christmasing, a winter wedding, and Sir Mix A Lot’s hit song (don’t ask), I’ve been mulling over my resolutions and the change I would love to see take place in my life this year. I’ve made a list and am on my way to my usual plan-making and goal-setting. I’m thinking of my one word for the year (thanks, Anna, for the idea) and am trying to figure out how to make a homeschooling schedule that works better for our family. But in the midst of this, I took some time to pause, pray, and reflect, and I realized that I needed to slooow down a bit. For all of my goal-planning and lists, I’m actually a simple person; I can realistically only focus on a couple of things at a time. I multi-task because I’m a mother and I have to; if it were up to me, I would probably reach one goal at a time, and slowly at that. (Changed a diaper? Check. Made supper when I really wanted to order take out? Check and a gold star). When I sat a while and listened to what He said, I felt that for the month of January, I needed to prioritize only one thing: His presence. Sitting and listening. No list of demands or prayer requests or pleading; just taking the time to come before the Lord, just me, and without an agenda.

With my husband finishing college in May (which guarantees huge changes for our family), what I really want to do is freak out and nag God’s ear off with “Could you please just tell me what we’re doing already?!”’s.  I have a list of mothering improvements I should be working at, ranging from being more patient when certain children spill their drinks on the hour every hour to accepting the fact that yes, I DO have to feed them supper every night. But not this month. This month it’s not about me. Instead, I’m going to shut up and listen. Wait. Worship. Just say, “What’s on Your mind today, Father?” and see what He says. That simple.

I originally started doing something like this sometime last summer, and at first it felt somewhat tedious. It was hard to pull myself away from my limited Mommytime to lock myself in my room and sit on the floor. But the more time I spent with Him, removed from the noises of this world – TV, Facebook, whatever—the easier it was to come into His presence. And the more I came into His presence, the more I realized that it is a gift, a treasure, to spend time with the One who loves me more than any other. His fellowship is so sweet, and His beauty is unmatched. There is nothing like it.

God never called us to make a choice between His presence and being a good mother. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Yes, our lives are busy, and yes, it’s true that we don’t always get 15 minutes to ourselves to sit with Bible and notebook in hand. That’s why I’m not focusing on that. I’m focusing on His presence; just sitting and waiting on God. Some days it might only be 5 minutes, but I’m not going to fill those 5 minutes with my own self-improvement requests or demands for answers to life’s mysteries.  I’m coming quietly, humbly, gratefully. I’m coming to wait, to worship, to look into the face of the One I love.

And, hey! For the record, time with God can be awkward sometimes. (Or, maybe it’s just me.) Can I be honest? Sometimes I’ve taken a minute in the bathroom, with the door locked, to check in and say, “Father, I need You, and I want you to know that I love You.” You know, the bathroom, the place with the toilet? Yeah, there. One time, my children woke up earlier than usual and caught me in the middle of a worship sesh with my IPod on. I’d been pouring out my heart in worship, tears streaming down my face, and was interrupted by childish applause and giggles from two little girls who thought I was randomly singing to myself. Super awkward. But, you know what? It’s not about what I look like or sound like or where I have to snag a few minutes with God.  It’s just about being with Him. It’s taking the time. It’s choosing to worship Him because He’s worthy, and not because He’s accommodating.

So, I hope you’ll join me, Moms. Let’s aside the healthy eating and gym memberships till February, and join me on the stinky carpet. Besides, I still have some leftover Christmas cookies sitting on my table, and I’d hate for them to go to waste.

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Blogs, Bikes, and Scar Tissue

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Fearlessly mothering is such a broad topic to blog about.  I mean, there are so many different issues related to mothering – what exactly am I talking about? What are we afraid of? I know we all have horror stories about midnight puke fests and the Dirty Diaper Smelled Around the World, but is that what fearlessly mothering is all about? Not freaking out in the face of toddler excrement?

As I prayed about my next topic, I felt like I needed to offer some sort of disclaimer. You see, in all honesty, this blog is a way I record the healing God is bringing in my own life concerning mothering and my identity in Him. When my firstborn daughter was born over seven years ago, I was overjoyed and excited, but I was also I unsure and insecure.  I’d had a miscarriage previously, and in some ways I felt cheated of the sweet and simple innocence first-time mothers seemed to carry. I brought my own life experiences and pain into mothering, as we all do, but I didn’t really know how to sort through it all. God has brought a lot of healing into my life since then – especially lately.  I feel this blog is a way of sharing what He’s done and continues to do. It’s so freeing that I feel to hold back this lovey goodness would prevent others from experiencing the same freedom. So I’m going to poke and prod and stumble and try to find a way with each rambling post to communicate encouragement, freedom, joy and love. And maybe some humor. But mostly the other stuff.

That being said, I’m going for broke here and am getting weird, deep and personal in hopefully 500 words or less (yeah, right). So here goes.

When I was 12 years old, I loved to ride my bike everywhere. On one journey, I decided to race through a huge rain puddle and ended up crashing my bike and taking a huge chunk out of my right knee. The wound was mortifying to my pre-pubescent self, and I was convinced I would never get married because the scar was so ugly and disgusting. (Overreaction much?) Needless to say, that experience literally left a mark on me. Other life experiences tend to leave scars, too, whether hugely noticeable or not. Not all of them are “I was abandoned by my parents and forced to sell drugs when I was 13” magnitude. There are the “people-you-tried-fitting-in-with-in high-school-but-didn’t” scars, or the “parents-you-could-never-please” scars.  The “I’ve-never-felt-truly-beautiful” scars, and “I-trusted-someone-I-shouldn’t-have” scars. The “I-can-never-live-up-to-this-certain-standard” scars (hello, mothers everywhere!). We try to jump up after the fall and brush ourselves off, acting like nothing has happened, but a mark has been left. We make a mental reminder to not get into that situation again, because though the initial pain may fade, the scar remains.

We try to dress up the scars. We put things on, and we pick things up to cover them. We hide them with makeup and beautiful clothes. We pick up things like degrees, accolades, or even ministries to keep ourselves busy and occupied.

Before you know it, our arms are so full of stuff that we don’t have any room to hold on to any thing else! These beautiful mother-arms that were created to hold, nurture, and comfort are struggling to simply to maintain the heavy load. Our little ones want in, but that requires us to drop something. And honestly, we’ve been holding on to these things for so long, we’re afraid of what will happen if we truly let go.

Because if we let go, we see the markings that didn’t fade. We study the lines. We relive hurt and anger. We become uncomfortable in our own skin. In this vulnerable moment, we realize we’ve allowed this scar, this Thing, to define us, so we cover them up once again and try to mother and nurture with scar tissue.

But guess what, Dearest Mom? You are not your scars.

Before you were ever a mother, you were a daughter. You are a daughter, and you are loved beyond measure –literally, you can’t measure it or humanly grasp its depth—by your Father. He doesn’t see scars. He sees beauty, purpose … redemption.

Dearest Mom, you are not your scars.

You are beautiful. You are treasured. You are loved. Before you had any scars, He took on fatal ones so that yours could heal. And because He did, you don’t have to cover your scars anymore.

The truth about scars is that we all have them, but we don’t have to let them define us. You are not your scars.

Remember that sweet, stinky-carpet-sticky-alabaster-box place of surrender we chatted about?  Bring your scars there. Put down the things your hold, and uncover every nasty, gross, even pretentious scar you have. Feel arms of love embrace and heal them. God doesn’t need fancy words or a weekend seminar. As I walk through this personally, I am amazed at how eager God is to bring restoration. The moment surrender leaves my lips, He sweeps in with a huge Daddy God bear hug. God is so amazingly redemptive that He turns each scar from repulsive to redemptive; from tragedy to testimony. As you surrender, He will release the forlorn and restore you to Fearless.

Be,not Do

I meant to publish a post in this blog a while ago, but as of yet hadn’t worked up the courage to do it. There is something a bit scary and permanent about words in print, and to be perfectly honest, I am a bit afraid of feedback. However, in class on Friday, I really felt the Lord speak to my heart on a particular subject, and I want to share the encouragement I’ve received. My hope is that this humble entry will encourage my fellow mothers as we raise future world changers.

Friday we had a guest speaker in school. Keith is a great drummer who has taught many students, my husband included, but I have never heard him teach. Friday morning Keith’s topic was “Flowing in the Anointing.” Considering the fact that he was talking to a bunch of Worship and Technical Arts majors at a Christian Bible School, naturally his topic concerned leading worship and how we need the Holy Spirit to do so. However, as he began to speak and share scripture after scripture, the Lord began to speak to my heart about flowing in the anointing and how it relates to mothering. The following is just a little excerpt from his teachings.  I am going to try to be painstakingly honest in the following discourse, because 1) The Lord has impressed on my heart that I need to be more vulnerable with other mothers and not act like I constantly “have it together” (yikes!); and 2) I feel (I hope!) I must not be the only one who struggles from time to time with insecurities and inadequacy in mothering.

Mothering –and doing it well—is something I question myself about often. Am I doing it right? Am I good enough? What if I’m too tough? Too soft? Does E know her ABC’s yet? Does she need to?  Is it bad that she just ate half a container of play dough? There are days when I feel like I am confidently walking in the calling God gave me, and there are days when I wake up and I wonder if I am truly the best mother God could have picked for these three.  There are things in my own childhood that I don’t want repeated in theirs, and sometimes ‘not repeating’ is at the forefront of my mind rather than simply enjoying who they are. This can get compounded by fabulous social network posts of friends who share all of the amazing things they are doing with their children – baking cookies, homeschooling, ABC’s, working on a cure for cancer…. and before you know it, I have unknowingly—yet voluntarily—locked myself up in a comparison-based, “I’m not good enough” box. I want to make sure to point out that I don’t discredit or secretly dislike these Mommy Moment posts, I really don’t! I myself post them, too.  And I would much, much rather read about my friends’ amazing motherly experiences than to hear that their families are experiencing rough times or misfortune. However, on days that I feel insecure, through no fault of their own, they kindle a fire that is already burning.

Anyway, back to class Friday. Keith began speaking on flowing in the anointing. This is a topic that probably isn’t very foreign to someone with a Pentecostal background, but in case that isn’t you, to put it simply, the anointing of God is when the Holy Spirit empowers you to do a certain task. It’s not scary or weird, and you don’t have to speak in tongues or heal people or anything crazy in order to be anointed. The Bible says that as Christians, we all have the Holy Spirit living inside of us (1 Corinthians 6:19; John 14:17).  I am not writing this to get into specific hermeneutics or scripture study (I have Keith’s notes if you want that), but to simply express what I feel God spoke to my heart.  I will let Keith’s notes to the talking (again, these are straight from the notes he shared with us at class last Friday):

What is the anointing of God?

Luke 4:18 “’The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”  -NLT 

The anointing of God upon ones live expresses the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit. To empower means to give power or authority; to authorize; to enable to permit one to do a legal act or work. When one is empowered, they are commissioned as a qualified agent to do the work or legal act. (see Acts 1:8) When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon one, they are now able to act in a manner far superior than their natural ability. There is a capacity of divine power that is given to that person by the Spirit of God to do a supernatural act of God. When God anoints one, they are able to operate in Gods’ divine nature of power, wisdom, creativity, courage, revelation, prophetic inspiration, knowledge, skill, authority and many other great acts of God. God anoints us with His Holy Spirit so that we can do an act or a work for the glory of His holy name. The anointing of the Holy Spirit on our lives indicates that God is with us. 

When I heard and read these words in light of being a mother, God began to reveal to me through His Word that I am called and I am chosen to be my children’s mother. There is nothing that I can or could have done to earn that right. They are a gift of God, through no act of my own. There is no way I could have dreamt up Z’s exuberance, or E’s sweet smile and snuggles, or J’s grunts and giggles. I don’t need to worry or fret over what I am doing or not doing to be a good mother when I have God’s anointing to simply be their mother. He will provide the specifics. And He will give me the grace and strength to love and train them, because the calling and the privilege is from Him alone. So many times I strive to ‘do’ or to perform, and the Lord showed me in these moments that I am simply called to ‘be.’ When I rest in Him and simply accept His love, His strength, His provision, His anointing to be my children’s mother, the worry and stress of constantly trying to do the right thing lifts.

Dear mothers, I simply want to encourage you with these words as I was encouraged. You are loved. You are called. You are anointed. Motherhood is not a task or duty, or simply the facilitated means by which children grow into adults. It is a calling. You are called. You are chosen.  God lovingly, carefully, deliberately chose you. On the days you feel less than good enough, simply rest in your Father and know that He called you to ‘be’ and not to ‘do.’ Let the love He fills you with spill over into their lives like a big, warm, messy cup of cocoa. He will work out the ‘doing’ part as we learn to daily simply be and live in Christ.