The Brokeness of Motherhood

As a little girl, playing mommy was never on my agenda. I was too busy looking for clues to solve the latest back yard mystery like my hero Harriet the Spy, or teaching myself to draw, or reading my set of encyclopedias. For real. I was a solver and a thinker not a coddler. I also kept very much to myself, never letting anyone too close and certainly never letting myself be broken open by another. As a young adult I was usually the onlooker as my friends squeaked, squawked, and swooned over all the tiny humans. I was not totally opposed to claiming this role for myself, it just wasn’t what I lived for. It wasn’t yet me. It wasn’t my desire.

And now, here I am preparing to be a mom for the third time. Third. Three. One, two, three kids in 4 years. I know it happens all the time, but me? Really…?? Now?? Whaaaa?!?!

But then there’s that whole thing about our desires, what gets us out of bed in the morning, what keeps us going. Faith has this way of morphing them into the unexpected. Morphing us into the unexpected. It turns out, when your daily prayer sounds something like – Lord let Your will be done in my life… your old desires kind of go out the window. I am learning that while this is terrifying, it is not a super terrible thing to loosen the grip. To have your desires swept from your hands. Because when those desires catch the current of the nearest breeze, God is there leading them to fertile soil. When left to the doings of God – desires don’t actually die. Like lucky seedlings they defy the odds, break open, grow, blossom and become something new. We become something new. Something more beautiful than we could have imagined. More beautiful than our own human limitations could have ever dreamt up.

Not to say that what will become is perfectly pretty, or even sane. After all, God does have a sense of humor. Or so they say. But I believe He also wants us to taste life while we are here on earth. Really and truly experience all of it. And in order to do that we must enter into the mess, the struggle, let ourselves go and be broken open.

And really is it not always the brokenness of life the stuff that makes us stronger? Builds character? Makes us that much more grateful for the good?

I find myself craving comfort these days, but above that wanting depth and meaning and purpose. I want my life to matter, and if I must die to myself to be taken over by these little creatures, then all the more. Because beneath all of my shallow desires, my flaws, the obstacles I face; deep down I want to be like the flower that grows through the concrete. The one that rises still. Head held high and face to the sun. Somehow graciously accepting these strange desires and unfamiliar surroundings. Acknowledging that I might have thought things would be different but maybe this particular calling is for a higher purpose. A purpose I may never know if I was truly created for, but one that is most certainly creating me.

Now that… that is worth living for. So go ahead – be brave, allow yourselves to be broken, let your desires go, grab a glass of good wine, sit back and watch them grow.

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34: 1– 4)

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The Withered Fig Tree

While reading the scriptures this morning I came across the passage of the withered fig tree. Or so I thought it would be about said tree. I hesitantly read on, thinking I would see a reflection of my flaws. Because let’s be honest, sometimes I can relate to a withered, fruitless, Charlie Brown tree – dry, brittle, alone, useless, hopeless. I swallowed my pride and braced myself for some hard honesty. But instead, to my surprise the reading was about faith and prayer, and it was the perfect hope for my fragile heart.

Mark 11: 20-24

Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours…”

“…all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” What a promise! I know that we all pray for things that we inevitably do not receive. And that is truly part of the mystery of our faith. But the truth is that so many prayers are answered. So many doors are opened to the faithful everyday. To see it, Jesus says we must have faith that is strong enough to move mountains. 

As I was reflecting on this, I looked up to see my son happily playing with his baseball and I thought – more than anything, I want that faith and I want to pass it on to my kids. And then it hit me, they have it right now. I need to learn from them. Their gratitude for life. Their joy in the little things. Their belief that their Father will always be there for them. I have been too clouded with the worries of life to let my heart be truly open. I have been too controlling to let any sort of faith take over. I just need to be still. Let the stirring calm. Let it be as it is. Trust that my mountains will move. And I must learn to keep my eyes fixed on what is above – because there lies the only source of water for these dry roots.

The struggle is real.

“It is good for us sometimes to have troubles and adversities, for they cause us to look inward and recognize that we too are exiles, whose hopes should not be centered on anything in this world.” Book 1, Chapter 12, The Imitation of Christ

Last night I heard a question that struck a chord. It was simple, yet profound. “What things in life are you holding on to that are keeping you from God?” My first thought was – what am I not holding on to? But really when I dig further – it’s my avoidance of struggle.

I think most of us can relate. Our society today is so good at the dangling carrot trick. We guiltily and blindly walk towards the all too familiar message persuading us to “keep up” in order to gain happiness. Or if we would just do what they say, we could finally taste freedom. Or if we would only just abandon our values and conform, we would be so accepted and loved. It is all so appealing, and really just an arm’s length away. Like if we could just… take ooone mooore… step… just… a… litttttle… fuuuuurther…

But at what cost are we letting these worldly pressures control us? How long will it last? All of this striving. How long can we actually stand the inauthenticity? It is overwhelming. Too much. We can not sustain the notion that life can be easy if we just reach a certain status. Even the things that claim to make life less challenging, are challenging. Take marriage for example. We are given the illusion that it will be a fairytale. And then… we all know how that goes. In my own marriage just when we seem to overcome something, we are on to the next. For us six years ago, we were met square in the face with our personality differences and expectations. Five years ago it was our committment to each other. Three years ago it was trust. A year ago, balance. Now, something completely different but equally hard. It has always been something. Yet even though I know that it will always be something it still feels every time like (as dramatic as this may sound) a real life tragedy. Why? Because it doesn’t look like the fairytale I hoped, and therefore it must be the opposite. Because of that damn carrot. Because the carrot is so hypnotizing and makes my struggles seem unnecessary; making me feel like I am doing it all wrong and not trying hard enough.

The world always manages to distract us from the deeper issues. It feels as though society wants us not to grow and mature, but to always be chasing and striving for the carrot. But thank God for leading us away from the worldly answers and straight to the wisdom that says – this isn’t all there is. Life is not meant to be a rat race. We are meant to struggle and at the same time we are meant to have faith and believe that we can climb the steep mountains. And even though we may not have wealth and comfort, or even happiness most days, it is quite alright. Because what we do get is grace. And strength, and courage, and perseverance… the really good stuff. The stuff that refines us and molds our souls into the material made for our ultimate goal when we finally leave this earth.

My hope is that I will learn to accept my struggles, not as a hinderance, but as a teacher. As a path towards God. I pray that they pull me deeper instead of living on the surface. Because I believe a shallow faith and a superficial life – that is the true tragedy.

Boasting in my weaknesses

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Story. Of. My. Life!
At least in this current chapter this story line rings true. Nothing like having a baby to bring your weaknesses right to the surface. Since Audrey was born ten weeks ago, I have learned more about myself than I have like… ever. It is almost too much to bear at times. I have been praying my heart out for God to fix this and fix that and I keep finding myself disappointed at his lack of an answer. Paul wrote this verse when God refused to take the thorn from his side that made him uncomfortable. I feel his pain. I’m learning though, just as Paul learned that in my weaknesses I am made strong. If I could control everything about Audrey that I wanted to control, what need would I have for God? Right now I feel desperate for His grace and I sure do let him know it! I forget that this total dependence on God is a strength. I forget because I am always in control and I am told that to be a strong woman, I must control. Woman power right? Wrong! I can not do it all and I can not hold it all together. There is so much out of my control and so what? Maybe it is better this way. In fact I know it is better this way. So, while God continues to hold His mighty hand on my forehead while I fight and push against Him, I will remember this scripture.

I am strong in my weaknesses because I have allowed God control.

I am strong simply because I am weak.

My weaknesses are my strengths.

Amen.

365 Days of Marriage

It has been one whole year since Blake and I stood on the alter and recited our vows. One whole year on this road called marriage. In the space of that time, we have learned so many things. Things like what toilet paper is the better buy because it lasts the longest, how to make the perfect spaghetti (still working on that one!), that time spent together really is precious and sacred because there really isn’t much of it in this busy life, and that the word sorry when spoken is the key to happiness. As I was reflecting on our year together, I became excited about the years to come. Knowing that I will be spending the remainder of my earthly days with my best friend brings me so much peace. If this year is a reflection of how the rest of our lives will look, then pour me a glass of wine and lets celebrate! I know the road ahead will have storms and struggles, and this year has not been without its share of those. But I also know the road ahead will be full of laughter and flowers and pretty things because how can one live without those? We have both been graced with a very special gift. A gift that is humbling and strengthening and crippling all at the same time. We have done nothing to earn it and probably don’t deserve it, but we feel extremely blessed to have it. It gives us the strength and the passion to live our lives better than we could on our own and to stand up for what we believe in. It brings us together in a way that I believe nothing can tear us apart. It has been my dream, my wish, my hope for as long as I can remember to fall in love and grow very old with my forever person. How ironic it was to have dinner seated next to a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary just as we were celebrating our 1st. I can only pray that God was giving us a gift. A foreshadowing into our future. Letting us know that we will make it that long too…

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…happy anniversary my love.

A Time to Plant

Spring has officially sprung! New things are growing in my yard and in my life. Lent has been a wonderful journey for me thus far. Digging my hands deep into the soil today, I reflected on how much growth I have recently encountered. Sacrifices made, good causes stood up for, battles fought and won in my own little life. How beautiful the seasons are, always promising us sunshine at the end of dark and cold nights. Today, I feel full. Full of gratitude. Because no matter what happens, goodness is always greater.

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“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance… A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, 8

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Living the Question

I’ve recently stumbled into a state of being. A somber, contemplative, sad, thoughtful state. I hesitate to call it depression. It’s something different. A soul stirring.

“Is it possible, I asked myself, that I’m being summoned from some deep and holy place within? Am I being asked to enter a new passage in the spiritual life – the journey from false self to true self? Am I being asked to dismantle old masks and patterns and unfold a deeper, more authentic self – the one God created me to be? Am I being compelled to disturb my inner universe in quest of the undiscovered being who clamors from within?

Unfortunately, there has been little emphasis on this summons within Christian circles. When it comes, we don’t understand that we’re being thrust into personal transformation, into the task of birthing an “I” that is not yet. We write it off as just another predicament or plight – perhaps the result of burnout or our dissatisfaction with life.

I believe, however, that in such a summons we’re actually being presented with a spiritual developmental task. We’re being asked to unfold a deeper self – what we might call the life of Christ within us.”

– When the Heart Waits. Sue Monk Kidd.

I think that’s it. I am in the process of ‘birthing an I that is not yet’. My soul needs changing. It needs transformation. It needs to die to itself in order to become more. To become better. To live fully.

I now enter the cocoon… I now begin to live the question once more.