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One Small Spark

"If my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at it's flame." (A.W. Tozer)


On the day you were born…

On the day you were born I checked in to the hospital for my scheduled induction.  The nurses were expecting me.  My chart had been tagged because it was guaranteed that you would come fast and easy.  Pitocin was started around 8 and you were to arrive by noon.  The doctor came in special just for your delivery, but he didn’t mind because you were going to come fast and easy because Iwas already 4 centimeters dilated.  Your brother had come after one half hour of pushing.  Your 9 lb, 8 ounce sister came after a couple of pushes and the ever eager Anna was caught by the nurse when she didn’t heed my warnings about doing that one practice push. You were going to be easy.  It didn’t matter what you threw at me, we had done this 3 times before.  We had experienced colic, “being on the spectrum”, chronic ear infections, reflux, allergies.  We were ready for you.

On the day you were born you broke all the rules. Noon came and left and you still weren’t here.  You seemed to be in no hurry to arrive.  In fact you didn’t arrive until nearly 4:00 pm; well past the time we had scheduled you to come.  By the time I started to push the epidural had worn off, but that was no big deal because I was certain I was only going to have to push a few times.  Only I pushed and pushed and eventually your head got caught up and refused to budge.  I have always prided myself on being the Mom who is pleasant in labor, but this time I wasn’t pleasant.  I screamed, I whined, I eventually refused to push.  It wasn’t until days later that I asked your Daddy why they brought out the oxygen mask.  Your Daddy had to point out that I claimed I couldn’t breath. Everything about your birth was unglamorous and not what I’d planned for.  They refilled the epidural with a stronger med.  It had no affect.  The next med was so strong I had no control from the waist down, but once the pain was under control you arrived with one or two pushes.  I was shaking uncontrollably when they placed you on my chest.  With each of your sibling I had quickly made an attempt to nurse, but with you I had no strength.  With every other child I reminded your Daddy to take a picture of us together.  With you it never crossed my mind.  So Buddy, this is the closest  thing I have to a picture of you and I on that day.  They laid you on my chest and we cried and sobbed together.  I stroked your cheek and spoke words of comfort and you calmed at the sound of my voice.  We both just lied there exhausted.  And it was good enough, because you were finally “with me”


The only picture of you and me at the hospital… That is my hand.


Once Daddy got to hold and snuggle you he went off to get the other kiddos; leaving just you, me and the nurses.  They bathed you and then rolled us to our recovery room on a gurney because I still couldn’t sit up.  It was nothing like I had expected.  I don’t remember how long it took, but I eventually attempted to nurse you and you refused.  Your brother and sisters came to visit with Daddy and then it was just us again for the rest of the night.  For 25 hours straight you refused to nurse and I pumped milk into a spoon and dripped it in your mouth.  My mind was overwhelmed with concern.  I couldn’t imagine what would keep you from nursing. Sometime in the middle of the night you began to gag and choke.  You had swallowed so much amniotic fluid that you literally felt full.  The night nurse showed me how to suction it out as it came up.  I did the only thing I knew to do and removed all your clothes and laid you across my chest and prayed.  I couldn’t figure out how to feed you, but I could keep you warm and close until you decided to eat.  I wish I could say that after 24 hours that journey was complete, but you were my first little guy that required a lactation consultant.  The next few weeks of our life involved scales, pumps, bottles and jaundice tests.  And when those were over you started to reflux.  Those weeks were long, but we kept you close and we got through them.  They were full of questions and concerns which was not quite what I had expected the 4th time around.

These memories are fresh on my mind today.  We just finished up a day of doctor’s appointments and weight checks.  Once more, you refuse to nurse and I have no real explanation why.  The last week has been filled with stress and worry and while I have no doubt you will be fine, the week has been long; just like before.  Only now when you cry and refuse to eat, you push me away.  And my heart breaks a little, because I recognize that your life will be filled with moments that I don’t know the answers and in your frustration you push.

I wish I had eloquent words for you, Asher, but I don’t.  There is something about a child’s struggles that brings forth all the inadequacies and all the clumsiness of a parent.  On the day you finally read this I just want you to know that while I may not have the answers; I am absolutely committed to lying in the mess with you until we find our way out.   There are easy babies out there…  I’ve met a few, but the only one I really want is you.  We may be clumsy and trip a long a bit in our journey, but you are mine and that is more than enough.



Two wanderers living on a carrot…

“Where are we going today Mommy?”  “Mommy, Today we are going to go to the park…  And we are going to play in the sprinklers…  And have a picnic…  Look!  I packed our lunch”.  And she pulls out a carrot and a water bottle.  Once again, Anna is ready to go.  Her antics both amuse and frustrate me.  I find clean laundry removed from drawers and food packed in discarded grocery bags because she is going camping.   In Anna’s mind there is always a new place to be.


Anna guiding us via “GPS”.

I don’t know where this wanderlust came from.  It’s a bit of a change from when she was two and we were on vacation.  At the end of each day’s adventures we would pull up to the little cottage we were staying at and she would yell: “I want to go home now!” and then burst in to tears. Somewhere between now and then Anna has been struck by the wanderlust spirit and the thought of staying home to do laundry is beyond demoralizing to her little adventurer spirit.

In many ways she is the physical representation of what so often goes on in my own Spirit.  I’ve been two year old Anna…  I’ve grieved for the past.  For what was familiar and “home”.  I’ve compared friendships and church bodies.  I’ve wanted to go back to my childhood and relive moments I felt could have been better.  At some point though I moved past the grieving and in to the planning…  Now this mind is always in the future…  When the kids are older…  When we go on vacation…  When God finally does this, changes that…  My list goes on and on.  I ignore my discontent with where He has placed me at any given moment by immediately moving forward to the future.  And a moment later I am grieving how quickly time is passing and the fast growth of my babies.  My heart is restless and constantly churning.

I plan…  I scheme… In my mind, I pack my bags.  I am always preparing for the next step, because surely this isn’t “it”.  I know the promises God gave me and this doesn’t measure up.  We’ve been waiting so long…

I’m my own version of three year old Anna. At times I find myself so annoyed by this little being that is so very much like me.  Her room is overflowing with toys.  Her bed is soft and warm.  The backyard is safely fenced in so she can access her swingset, sandbox and multitudes of other outdoor amusements at any time, but she still wants more.  She has everything she needs for that moment and yet it’s never quite enough.

I’m 38 years old and yet at times I have the spiritual maturity of a three year old; packing up my bags with a carrot and a sippy cup full of water and telling God it’s time to set out somewhere new.  And He gently stops me again because He knows I’m not ready for the journey quite yet.  I think my lunch is huge and I’m ready to go.  He is wise enough to know there is so much more I need to pack before we move on.

Two and a half years ago God blessed us with a house to call “home”.  We moved from a small three bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house with a fenced in backyard.  It was a “dream home” for us in so many ways.  It was out of our league budget wise, but God worked in some awesome ways for us and gave us a home that is perfect for our family.  And we loved it.  We moved in and painted and praised Him again and again for his faithfulness.


Where us “wandering ones” sleep at night…

And time wore on.  We started to notice the lack of shade, since there were no trees…  We thought it would be nice to have some strawberry and raspberrry plants..   We really needed some mulch under those rose bushes…  One thing has always stopped us from moving forward.  The house is a rental and why would we invest in a rental?  So for two and a half years we have “half lived here” because someday we might be moving on.

God has been gently pulling and honestly sometimes flat out ripping at that part of my heart that is always moving on without Him. And I wrestle with him all the time.  I was having an all out spiritual tantrum when my mom sent me Jeremiah 29:11-13 to read: “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”  And my heart resisted.  I think the actual words my heart were used were: “Yada, Yada, Yada.  Heard that before.”  Fortunately, somewhere in there a slightly more mature version of myself jumped in and decided to try a little harder to listen; so I read the whole chapter and came to Jeremiah 29:4-7: “ This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  I started to get the message.  I’ve been living most of my life with a “renter’s spirit”, never fully setting down roots because there might be something better.

Two days later we were offered strawberry starts.  Just a couple days later we fell upon some free raspberry starts.  As John and I planted I was fully aware of the fact that God was showing me the physical representation the spiritual lesson he was teaching.  It’s time for my heart to stop wandering and plant down roots.   Physically we’ve laid down mulch and planted a shade tree, the lilac bush I’ve always dreamed of and an apple tree.  I can’t be certain if we will be the ones to enjoy it’s fruit someday, but either way we’ve left some fruit and shade for someone.


Already seeing signs of fruit!!!

Spiritually I’m letting God put down his roots and plant His call for today in my heart.  It’s a painful process.  My soil is rocky, hard and cracked.  Sometimes a pick ax is the only way to get through it, but I’m realizing it’s the only way to go. If you never plant down roots you never get to see the fruit.  And no one can survive on a carrot and water for very long anyways.

On that Day I wasn’t ready to be a mother…

It was 7:00 am this Wednesday.  John was out of town and the baby had been teething for days.  The kitchen was somewhat clean but the clean laundry was spread across the living room floor and if I’m being truthful it was spread across my bedroom floor as well.  In fact, the clean laundry and the dirty laundry in my bedroom was beginning to cohabitate and it was becoming unclear who was who.  I woke up to the sound of thumping.  My little guy was awake and beginning his all too familiar morning warning of kicking his feet in the crib.  I had limited time to get to him before his kicking turned to crying.  I pushed past the two little stowaways that had snuck themselves in to my bed and all but taken over; which of course awakened them.  It was time to awaken the nine year old and persuade him to move quickly enough to make it to school on time.

I was motivating the nine year old to move in the general direction of the shower when the teething baby began to cry and made it clear that today was going to be another long day, the six year old began to give me a long dissertation on something I wasn’t all that concerned about and the three year old began to make her morning demands.  And my thought was: “Good Lord, I am just not ready yet to be a mother today…”.

I love my kids.  They make me laugh with their hysterical ideas.  They make me cry sheer tears of joy at the privilege of being able to mother them, but in reality so many moments of motherhood are hard and downright draining.  They ask for more then I have to give and they have no regard for the fact that Mommy needs just a few moments to get her act together.  I find myself frustrated with myself.  I should be more patient, more loving.  I should wake up each day ready to serve them some delicious baked oatmeal, rather than impatiently waiting for them to make their five minute decision over Raisin Bran or toast with honey.  I don’t have the patience for one more fight over the red or green chair when I really need to let the dog out, fold the laundry, nurse your brother, change a diaper, get your brother out of the shower, manage to get four kids in the car and drop off your brother so the teachers don’t think I’m incompetent, but alas one of you climbed back in to bed and fell asleep so we might just be a few minutes late…

And then I think about Him…  The source of everything…  And He reminds me of how He lived his life.  I picture Him in the garden; on his knees; pleading with His Father because he knew what the morning would bring.  He knew that they would come and they would take him and lead him to his Death; and He knew he didn’t have the strength to follow through in His human flesh.  He was fully God and sometimes I forget that He was also fully human.

I know He came to die for me.  I know He came to rescue me from my sins, but sometimes I also forget that He came to show me how to live.  He knew the mornings, the days and the nights would be long.  He knew there would be moments that my flesh would cry out at one more demand that was placed upon it.  He knew that these little people would demand, fight, whine and chip away at my weakness time and time again.  And so he laid himself out in a garden and he prayed desperately.  He prayed desperately so his Spirit would persevere over what his flesh would fail to do on his own.  Because He knew I would fail time and time again.  That I would let my flesh get in the way and that I would yell.  That I would ignore the important words of a six year old because I selfishly wanted a moment of peace for myself.  That I would be impatient…  And I would act entitled.  At that at the end of the day my list of sins, failures and lost battles with my flesh would be by far too long and the only thing that would be left is His grace.  So he prayed that He would have the strength to pay the incredible price that I cost Him.  And He prayed to show me the way to find the strength to let the ones I love crucify my flesh yet again.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  I know my children will celebrate me and my husband will honor me, because God has blessed me with an amazing gift of grace in my family.  And I find myself on my knees, remembering the one who covered my brokenness and redeems my mistakes.  Finding the need to spend some time in the garden so my spirit also has the strength to conquer my flesh…


On letting go…

Dear Josiah,

I sent you off to school today…  It was not an ordinary day.  It was the day thousands of American parent’s debated the “safety” of that move.  Your dad and I have spoken to you about the Shootings.  You seem blissfully unconcerned.  Your mind is still so innocent. I’m certain it sounds like some strange story or television show to you.  

The adults in your life however are not so innocent.  We wrestle, and we grapple for answers.  And in our wrestling there are so many things to be blamed…  We blame the lack of gun control, we blame the lack of guns…  We simply blame.  Because part of grieving for us adults seems to be finding someone to blame.

And among Christian circles we blame the lack of God in schools.  I have been told that the lack of school led prayer and the lack of posted Ten Commandments has led to this moral decay.  I have a different take on that issue.  I believe the lack of Christian light in the schools has led us here.  

Your dad and I thought long and hard about what your “schooling” would look like.  And while there may be times we choose to pull one of you out of the public school system to meet your own personal needs, we realized we wanted to raise kid’s who brought light into the darkness.  So much time has been spent by Christians “fighting the darkness” around them that we’ve almost viewed the world we were sent to save as the enemy.  We declare the moral decay of our world to be the fault of the government, the atheists, etc.  I suspect it is the fault of the Christians themselves.

Josiah, one of the lessons I want you to learn is this…  The world is not your enemy.  The world is the one you were sent to love.  Judgment of the world around you and Accusatory Social Media posts will get you no where.  If your immediate world seems to only be getting darker, close your eyes tightly, get on your knees and inspect your own heart.  Because if the world around us isn’t ignited with His light, perhaps it’s us who have the problem.

So, we are doing our best to teach you His Word and His heart for the world around you.  I am praying that you know God well and represent Him.  Because I maintain the fact that each time you and every Christian walks in that school, God is indeed, very present.

I wish that this meant I could promise you your world would be safe.  That you will never be abused or lose some of that innocence and naivety I would so dearly love you to keep, but that is not possible.  Because as much as God gave you as a gift to me, I am continuously aware that he sent you to a lost world as well.  And my entire role as your mother is to raise you to spread the flavor of Christ throughout the world around you.  

There are days I wrestle with this decision.  Days I want to keep you at home, so you can avoid one more hurt and I can avoid the wondering of how well the lessons you have learned at home will be remembered at school…  And on those days I remember this…  That God himself sent His only Son into a world that was dark, and lost, and Godless.  Because He loved that world and found it was worth the rescuing.  And if God himself could remove his Son from perfection to reach that world, that must have some impact on how I raise my own son.

I am praying, and teaching and fighting so that you would indeed be “the salt of the earth”.  And then I release you.  Because the world doesn’t need new laws.  It needs more salt.

 Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

An “Accidental Romance”.

My first romance began in kindergarten. I will spare you the sordid details but just know that they included an afro, a strawberry shortcake purse and a public display of affection that may have been involved in the reason I nearly flunked kindergarten. The joys of sweet love in the 80’s.

My 2nd romance began at Age eleven and is still going strong today. And no his name is not John. I am that kind of woman… 😉 Unlike “Afro Boy” who quickly forgot me after I was transferred to a new school this “romantic encounter” began with a pursuit by my beloved at age 3 and was sealed at an altar at age 11. I speak of my relationship with Christ. Which will be odd to many of you but I truly see my relationship with Christ as the greatest romance of all and I more than happy to explain it to those who ask.

It was around age 3 that my mom first took us to church and that God first began to plant truth in my young heart. And it was not long after that that we stopped attending church. But, God still pursued me. Somehow my young heart received enough knowledge to know that sin was separating me from Christ. I would pick up my Bible and begin at Genesis, listen to any Christian radio stations and pray a desperate prayer somewhere along these lines: “God I know you can’t take bad people to heaven. And I know I do bad things. If there is any way you can let me come to heaven even though I’m bad please do.” Fortunately, the lover of my soul already had a plan in place for capturing my heart.

I was 10 years old. The youngest of two. We were on the way to a friend’s house when my little voice peeped up from the back seat: “Mom, I want a little brother”. My mother laughingly informed me that she was done having kids. Two weeks later, I had the “last laugh”. My new baby brother would be joining us soon. I guess you could say it was an “accident”. We all preferred a surprise because a surprise is something you never expected but couldn’t imagine having lived without. At any route that “surprise” awakened my mother’s heart and it was back to church we went.

I was eleven years old. God had pursued my heart. He’d made it clear that he had paid the price of all my “badness” and indeed I was welcome not only to join him in heaven, but in a relationship with him. I met him at an altar at a baptist camp where he claimed me as his own and I vowed to spend my life living to glorify and serve him. It was the beginning of my first real romance and He will forever be my first love.

Of course, if you are reading this you are interested in my “accidental romance” so let me tell you about John. I was 21, never had a date, never been kissed (besides Afro Boy of course), sigh… And 21 came and passed with still no date. But, we must talk about that year because it’s the year God spoke to my heart yet again. It was the year he told me I was called to be a Pastor’s wife.

And the years passed… 21, 22 and 23. Still never been kissed. I attended weddings, listened to dating issues and listened to unwarranted advice on pursuing men. There was concern… Concern that I had never been on a date, concern that I did not go out of my way to be friendly to men, concern that my ovaries would dry up and I would never grant my mother grandchildren. And each time God told me to be still and to live the way he convicted me to live.

I believed that God had created me for a very specific purpose and in that he created a very specific man. While, I am in no way opposed to the normal world of dating, God kept restraining me. It was painful at times. And I was normal. I saw handsome Godly men, I dreamed about romantic dates or even just being pursued by the right man. I held babies and I cried as I wondered if I would ever have one to call my own. I was only 23 but it seemed like God’s plan for me was taking an incredibly long time to unfold.

At the time I lived in the “Mecca” of Godly christian men, many of them were training for ministry; it was seemingly the right place to be. And then God laid down the clincher. He asked me to move two and a half hours away to Wisconsin where I had sworn I had never seen a Godly man in my 19 long years living there. But, twelve years earlier I had vowed to follow God so off to Wisconsin I went…

And this is where I leave you, in hopes it will make you come again soon… 😉


The condition of my “lot”…

It’s one of those days… the laundry which was nearly caught up is overflowing out of the laundry room, the kid’s bed which had clean sheets yesterday are stripped once more, ” and there is an overall “odor” permeating the house.

I’ve spent my day cleaning up messes we ignored over the weekend, tossing in laundry and searching for that “smell” which I suspect is probably somewhere at the bottom of the laundry pile…  Meanwhile the girls have been babysat  by “The Monkey” which leaves me with a strong sense of “Mommy guilt” and surely makes for squabbling preschoolers.  Somewhere in between my desperate housecleaning spree Sarah came to me in anguish.  Her sister, the “Annanator”, had stolen one of her toys which is a continual ongoing saga these days.  Sarah has been in the midst of a particularly “whiny” phase this past weekend and my patience with both of the girls has been running thin.

So, my drama queen came to me wanting justice because the “dispenser of all injustice” had taken her toy that she had left on the couch.  How exactly does one explain to  a 4 year old that a one year old does not understand that she was “coming back for that”?  I impatiently explained, which led to a further eruption…  Sarah left the room with much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”.  And then… more screams from both girls.  And a justice seeking Sarah is back screaming at my feet. 

There are appropriate ways of responding to such things but this Mommy had no more appropriateness left in her at that moment.  I angrily sent her to her room.  It was the “wrong” thing to do but at that moment it was also the “safe” thing to do.  Ten minutes later, I had gathered myself enough to calmly deal with Sarah.  Only to find out that Anna had bit her finger… Hard…  So hard that it actually did qualify for a Hello Kitty band aid.  And the Mommy guilt bites down just a little harder.

And I wonder about myself.  How can I not be more patient?  How do I not have the right words to say?  Why can I not keep the house clean, find that smell, be more organized, remember to make that dentist appointment, be a better example of a Godly Woman as a Pastor’s wife….

And after I find myself wholly wanting I move onto others…  If the kid’s would pick up after themselves, if I had more help around the house, if there wasn’t so much expected of me…  And I realized today that I do this every couple of months or so.  This angst.  Where everything and everyone comes up sorely lacking and I am on a mission to change it all.  And then once again I find my balance again and realize I’m just not good at being “perfect”  and that my life, my home, my family and my world never will be this side of heaven.

So, I doubt it will go away; this constant striving for perfection.  Because, in all reality I was created for perfection and I’m just waiting for that day to be fulfilled.  The hope of every believer is the promise of someday dwelling in the perfect abundance of heaven.  Today, however, I am resting on the fulness of this promise:  Psalm 16:5  Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;  you have made my lot secure.

I’m not certain I will ever get my earthly “lot” fully under control, but I am thanking Him for his unending mercy in being my sustaining portion and cup until the day I receive the “heavenly lot” He has already secured for me.

Take hope Mommies, I hear it’s clean up there. 😉


Our new house has a 6 foot privacy fenced backyard. We refer to it as the outdoor playpen. The world cannot see or touch my children but I know exactly where they are. I love it because my kitchen window and living room patio door overlooks the backyard. I can some of my household chores done and still keep a close eye on the kiddos. And the kids love it.  Hours are spent in the sandbox or chasing each other around the backyard. I’ve noticed a trend though:it mainly exists in my Anna. John and I determined yesterday that she is the closest thing I have to a “Mini-Me”.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Anna, let me describe her personality to you.  She is ferociously independent. You must watch that child!  Doors must be secured, because “untethered”, she is completely unafraid to leave with or without you.  At the park, there is not a dangerous “school aged play structure” that child will not attempt to climb.  She simply “does not need you” until she is hurt, tired or hungry. She does, however, love her adults; be it her parents or one of the many adult friends she has deemed her own.  She does not need you, but she will always welcome your company.  And, I have learned one thing regarding Anna’s time in the outdoor playpen: if you are wanting to step outside to check on her, yet you still want to finish the dishes, do so stealthily…  because Anna loves her adults.  And she loves to “whee”.

“Whee”, in case you are wondering, is Anna’s word for swing and she can do it for hours.  Yesterday, I stepped out to check on her for just a moment and she noticed.  Joyously she ran to her swing.  “Whee Mommy”.  And in case you haven’t encountered a blonde haired, hazel eyed, chunky legged, short wearing toddler lately, let me tell you… it’s powerful stuff.  There is absolutely no way to resist a toddler that is filled with hope that her Mommy has come out to “Whee”.

So we did.  We “wheed” (is that a word?) and then we “wheed” some more.  And the big kids came and joined us.  And we all “wheed” together. And as we “wheed” I thought about my own Mommy.

My poor Mommy, she raised me…  Little Miss Independent.  I was a good kid.  I don’t think my behavior caused her too much pain.  But, my independence did.   I don’t recall asking many questions growing up.  I asked them upon occasion and like any loving Mom she answered them. She guided me and directed me.  She taught me to be kind, gentle, unselfish, giving, to have a strong work ethic.  She taught me to “For goodness sake!  Stop hitting my sister”.  No matter how very irritating she could be. 😉  My husband greatly appreciates that I learned that lesson…  She facilitated my introduction to my Heavenly Father, she prayed, she cried, she hoped and she dreamed for me.  And I appreciated it all.  But, I was independent.  First in my “fenced in playground” and then in the great big world.

I turned eighteen.  Shortly after I moved a few blocks away.  I turned  19.  I moved 2 and a half hours away.  I turned 24 and God led me to move 15 minutes away…  Because, God loves my Mommy.  Oh, and John was there just waiting to sweep me off my feet.  I got married.  I moved 15 hours away.  I had a baby.  I stayed 15 hours away.  The baby turned 18 months.  I moved 8 hours away.  And Grandma got to have more time with her grand kids.  Then we had 2 more kids.  And then we moved 3 days away…  And I don’t see my Mom very often anymore.

I don’t “need” my Mommy; I’m independent like that.  I think she wishes I did more sometimes.  But, life’s circumstances have insured the fact that I stay independent. I do, however, “want” my Mommy.  I want my Mommy for all the “whees” in life.  I want to move Oregon just a little closer to Wisconsin so she can join in on all the whee’s with me…

I want to show her how when the sun comes out and the clouds roll away that you can actually see the snow capped mountain peak from our front yard if you stand on just the right corner.  I want to ride off with her to the beach and show her how Josiah loves to jump the waves and Sarah and Anna cover themselves in sand.  I want her to see how Anna talks better than most two and a half year olds I know, Sarah draws pictures all day long and comes up with the most creative stories and Josiah spends his days sketching up new inventions in his sketchbook.

I want her to understand just how dramatic Sarah is!  How ornery Anna is and how infuriating Josiah’s slow moving nature can be.  I want her to see just how much they love the puppy, just how kind and thoughtful they can be and just how much they’ve grown and learned.

There’s times it would be nice to have her close because I “need her”.  Like the days when the kiddos are driving me crazy and I really just want a 2 hour break because I know if she was free she’d come.  Or on the days when I have a raging headache I know she’d make us dinner because my mom is kind and sacrificial. But, I don’t want her for my needs.  I want her for the “whees”.

I don’t remember every detail of my childhood.  I’ve never been good at that.  But, I remember my Mom packing us up in the car and taking us someplace, anywhere at all.  Whatever struck her fancy at the moment.  And all the time the conversation went like this: “Where are we going Mom?”

“I don’t know.  Bananas!  You want to come along?” 

I absolutely do.  Mom, I’m anxiously awaiting the day God brings you into my backyard so we all can “Whee”.   But until then I hope these pictures bring a little “whee” into your day.

Love you.

I’m a rotten mother…. (And you are too.)

I love reading blogs. I particularly enjoy reading parenting blogs. I enjoy collecting ideas from other parents, watching their kiddos grow and realizing that someone else is caught up in this mind blowing journey we call parenting.

I have however, found that there is one type of blog that I have great difficulty reading. You know the one… It’s the one where the Mommy is always involved in some mind stimulating, creativity growing activity with her little ones. Her house is always spotless. Her kiddo’s teeth were thoroughly brushed this morning and there is not a piece of dirty laundry on the floor. And just in case you wonder how she did it all there are blog entries to let you know how you too can become the wonder parent. These are followed by streams of comments by fellow readers letting the mother know what an amazing mother and wife they are… How lucky their children are to have them… And that when said reader grows up they want to be just like the heroic blogger. And it makes me sick… Because I am a sinner… Because I am jealous… Because I am a rotten mom… And because she is too..

Please don’t get me wrong, I am all about encouragement. I love to encourage others. And I pray that I encourage them deeply. I have friends who have encouraged me in my parenting and it has been life breathing. Because sometimes I am a good Mommy. In fact, sometimes I am a great mommy and it’s great to know I occasionally hit the mark. But most of the time I’m kind of a rotten mom. Let me explain…

Before I got married I spent hours dreaming up the perfect wife that I would be. The house would be spotless and amazingly decorated. Dinner would be one culinary delight after another. I would be a patient and tender-hearted wife, great at conversation and selfless in my actions. But, I quickly found out how selfish I am. Marriage was costly. Besides my relationship with Christ, nothing had ever cost me so much. I already take advantage of my perfect Heavenly Father’s grace more often than I care to admit. And unlike Christ my wonderful husband was not always selfless and perfect in every way. Which I easily translated into an excuse to not be selfless… Now, in some moments I am an amazing wife, or maybe just an okay wife. But in many I am just plain rotten.

Parenting has looked much the same for me. I dreamed of having children. I wrote them letters before I was even married. I watched parents and planned how I would never yell like them, talk to my child like that, respond in anger like they did… I would always speak words of love, allow them to make creative, but appropriate messes in my household and feed them 3 square meals a day at my spotless kitchen table…

Enter reality… Josiah was born a beautiful blue-eyed boy. His blood sugar was a bit low upon birth so they took him and fed him some sugar-water to get his levels up. He didn’t establish proper nursing patterns. The hour I left the hospital the lactation consultant stopped by for a visit. She informed me that his nursing was completely ineffective and that basically I would be starving him if he continued to nurse in that fashion. And then she left. A sobbing mom was left in the place of the “perfect mommy”. We took Josiah home. John placed his hands on Josiah and prayed that he would nurse appropriately and the issue was immediately resolved. And suddenly through God’s power I was enough for my son.

Josiah preferred 4:30 am for his bedtime. Somehow I never suspected a baby could do that. Eventually he got his bedtime down to a normal hour, but by then both of his parents were exhausted and Daddy was working very full time hours. Josiah decided napping was an unnecessary activity. In fact, he decided that he would much prefer that Mommy pace the hallways with a strange swaying step and pat his bottom at the same time. For hours on end… One day Mommy realized that her patting was a bit more aggressive than it ought to be… I laid Josiah down in his crib and called a friend desperate for help. That kind and wonderful friend took me out to lunch after she arranged for two other friends to watch Josiah for me. Josiah fell asleep on the chest of a dear friend. And I felt inadequate because it was not my own. But my child’s needs were met. Because God placed people in my life who knew how to live out his grace.

Sarah was colicky. She screamed at the top of her lungs for hours on end. When she finally did fall asleep it was only in Mommy’s arms. John helped all the time, but her screams still kept me awake and frazzled everyone’s nerves. After a few weeks of this Mommy became crazed and overwhelmed. A kind friend offered to take her overnight. I dropped her off for the night and sobbed all the way home. I felt woefully inadequate as a mother. I wanted to be “super mom” but sometimes even “super mom” needs a couple of hours sleep. And that night God’s portion came through a sacrificial friend. By the way… Sarah learned to sleep in her crib that night.

Sarah’s birth brought our beautiful baby girl… And mild postpartum depression. I loved my children… I resented my children… I was grateful for my husband… I resented his “freedom”… I swore each day I’d be patient, kind, gentle. And every single day I failed. And while I recovered from postpartum depression and was blessed once more with the birth of sweet little Anna; as a mom of three children I still find myself being the mom I don’t want to be more often than not.

I’ve become a perfect illustration of Paul’s word in Romans 7:14-24: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Paul summed it up in a nutshell. I am an utter and complete failure as a parent. I do the things I do not want to do… I am a sinner. I am inconsistent. But I am a parent saved by grace. And parenting is one of the toughest journeys I have ever walked. In fact I am quite certain is a journey that can only be walked on your knees. It is my choice how I walk it… I can look for reassurance from others, my spouse and children that indeed I am adequate or make these words from Lamentations a clear reminder of how desperately I need to cling to the one who makes me adequate…

Lamentations 3:21-29: and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.

So I assure you… I am a rotten mother. You are too. But God is our portion and He is more than adequate.


Josiah loves music of any sort. Anytime he sees a piano or keyboard he can’t resist “playing it”. When I sing to him, he sings along. When he hears it he dances.

It’s his dancing that gets me. He’s completely uninhibited. He spins in circles, stomps his feet up and down and waves his arms. All the while he looks up at me and smiles with delight when he realizes I’m watching him and enjoying his dance. He’s even more delighted if the whole family dances along.

He’s not a very good dancer, after all he is only one. He says very few words, so his singing is unintelligible. When he chooses to express himself in any way musically it’s completely undignified. And it’s so entirely delightful. I always think this is how God created him to be. Completely free, completely unconcerned with his appearance and completely delighting in the ability God has given him to sing, dance and celebrate.

I want to worship God in the same manner that Josiah delights in music. I want to dance before him, completely unaware of what a bad dancer I really am. I want to sing in a fashion that may be completely undignified but is a sheer expression of the delight I have in him and in who He has made me to be. I simply want to look up at my Father and say “Look at me, I’m dancing, I know you must love it!”

What we saw in the light…

Today I am weary, tired.  The tears well up, I force them back.  I’m afraid if I let them go I will wind up being a crumpled mess on the ground.  It’s one of those moments when you know just a few tears won’t do.  That processing through your emotions is going to take time.  And time is one of the many things you just don’t have in abundance.

We are blessed.  I try to focus on that.  We gave up a position to seek God’s will.  We have been without guaranteed income for one and a half months now.  At times we have had temporary income, but even in those times our income was less than half of what we are used to.  There was no savings to fall back on.  We are blessed with the ability to see God’s faithfulness in a unique way.  We should be a statistic now.  Unable to pay our bills, unable to provide a home for our children.  Instead we are caught up in God’s grace through the hands of his community.  If I were to begin to recount the times God has provided and the signs of his faithfulness I would have to write a small book.  We have been embraced by a couple who somehow understands the crazy situation we have placed ourselves in. They have graciously opened their home to us.  They have encouraged us, prayed for us, loved our children.  For that I am eternally grateful.

I realize how fortunate we are. I am so grateful for a community who has caught us up in their arms and carried us. Yet I am tired. Tired of being dependent, tired of saying thank you, tired of not having a home of my own. Tired of watching God use others to provide for our children. And tired of wondering about our future. Tired of the endless crucifying of my pride. Tired of being the blessed, instead of the blessing. I am tired of the fear. Tired of fighting the desire to fix our situation and wondering how God is going to provide for our family. Wanting to shout from the rooftops that we would gladly provide for our family if God would just make a way. And I have discovered that all the naps in the world just don’t take that weariness away.

Along with that tiredness comes some anger. God called us here, why hasn’t He resolved this yet? Great, he provided for today, but what about tomorrow? Wrong thoughts? Perhaps… But I am grateful that I serve the same God that David served. And David was a master at tantrum throwing.

I don’t have resolution to those feelings today. I just have the knowledge that I need to hold on tight for one more day. And then the next… We live in a small home; four adults and three children crammed into a 3 bedroom ranch. At times the restroom just isn’t available. There is a back up plan though. It’s the unheated, unfinished bathroom in the basement. The bathroom where the lights have for some unexplained reason stopped working. So my routine has become this: open the door, take a quick look around as the light from the nearby room filters in and because I am paranoid, I check for mice, bugs, etc. Locate the toilet paper, close the door and proceed to accomplish my purpose for being there. Because this bathroom is in the basement it is completely dark. I have to have faith that things have remained as they were just a moment before.

I feel like I’m in that dark room spiritually. God said “Do this. I’m faithful. Now go!” I had no idea how dark the room really was. I had no idea how much this situation would assault my security, my identity, the privacy of my marriage and home life. And yet God speaks. Quietly. “I haven’t moved. I’m right where you saw me when you were in the light. Trust me.” I want to demand that He turns on the light already. After all He is capable. And maybe He would. And maybe I would miss out on the lessons that He indeed is faithful. That He is still near in the darkness. That he has not yet forsaken us. That we have not yet begged for bread. That because He loves me so intensely, that because He wants me so wholly for himself He is completely willing to “destroy” every part of me that stands in the way of that. And that really is one of the greatest gifts He has ever given me.