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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.

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Undignified

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.

But you promised!

How many of us remember making that plaintive statement to our parents as children.  Lest they forget the dessert, toy, activity they “promised” we were sure to remind them.  It was powerful.  They had said they would do it.  We had justified claim.  Any good parent would try to fulfill their word.

I am a bit focused on promises today.  Our family is waiting for the fulfillment of one of God’s promises.  We are patiently holding him to his word.  Not in the complaining, whiny way I did as a child.  Just patiently waiting before him stating: “Lord you promised.  You told us we were called.  You assured us you would meet all our needs.”   Now we are waiting for the fulfillment of his word.  Because we know his word is good.   There have been moments in this journey where we have been frustrated.  In fact, there have been moments I have railed at God with everything in me.  But, at this moment there is just peace.  And anticipation.

Yesterday, a friend reminded me of one of the last times I held God to his promises.  That particular promise was regarding our son Josiah Ephraim.  Josiah is our “surprise” seminary baby.  The one we weren’t going to have, because that was just plain irresponsible.  The one God snuck through the cracks.   Because God’s plans our better than our own.  And we’ve been delighted in his plan ever since.
Upon praying for a name, John came back to me with the name Josiah Ephriam.  I was fine with Josiah, but Ephraim?  Poor kid!  Until I prayed and realized the full implications of the name.  Ephraim, son of Joseph.  Ephraim, who was born into slavery and still richly provided for.  Ephraim, who’s name means doubly fruitful.  Suddenly I realized God was promising he would provide for our seminary baby.  In spite of our yearly income of $25,000…  In New York…

And he did!  It was amazing to see.  Clothes, furniture, baby gear.  There was not a thing that Josiah wanted for.  And then Josiah was 9 months old and suddenly decided he could wean himself.  And then the stockpile of formula ran out.  And then the bank account ran dry.  And then the last diaper was put on and the last bottle of formula was given.  And I tucked Josiah Ephraim into bed for the night and proceeded to scold God.  I cried, I ranted, I raved.  “You promised!  You promised you would take care of him.  What am I supposed to do when he wakes up?”   I was angry!  Finally I gave in and went to bed.

Morning came and with it a phone call from a good friend.  She was sorry to call so early, but God had told her she needed to buy us something immediately.  She had $50.00 to spend.  What was it that we needed?  I could elaborate on this further, but I think God’s faithfulness stands alone.  He keeps his promises.  We can hold him to them.  He seems a little late at times, but He always comes through.  Right when He’s accomplished a deeper work in his children.

So, I’m holding him to his promises.  Trusting that his “delay” is for our own good.  And that the day we get to “open” his promise is going to be so much better than Christmas morning.

It occurs to me that our temporary tests of patience here on earth are really just practice.  When we learn to trust God for cans of formula, diapers, jobs, healing, etc we become more aware that He will fill his eternal promises as well.  Sure, new jobs are great!  But, imagine what it’s like to finally see His face.

Look it’s Jesus…

I was wasting a bit too much time on Facebook this am, while Sarah watched some of the Christian kid’s shows on tv. Suddenly I heard her little voice say “There’s Jesus”. I looked up to see a cartoon with talking bugs. First I thought we should probably up our discipleship efforts, and then I thought; “Really, how deep is that! She sees the character of Jesus in those “God fearing” bugs. We are awesome parents! Such spiritual depth in a two year old!!” While I was patting myself on the back the story of David and Goliath was told. At which point Sarah pointed to Goliath and said once more: “Look there’s Jesus.” Guess we do have some work to do…

Which made me think… The best example of the character of Jesus Sarah really has is her parents. Each and every day I am teaching her the character of God. Someday she will grow and mature and realize how faulty of a picture that really is. But for today she sees Jesus. In both my good moments and bad. I’m praying I’ll be more of a David and less of a Goliath… Because who really wants to entrust their heart to a Goliath.

Jumping…

Dear Friends,

If you are receiving this letter, we count you as one of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Four years ago God brought John, Josiah and I to a small town in rural Ohio, called Fredericktown.  It was a somewhat strange experience as we went from dwelling in Nyack, NY where things moved at a fast clip, to parking our car next to an Amish buggy at the WalMart parking lot.  This wasn’t where we expected to land, we felt we would fare better in a more urban setting.  But our plans were left behind as God made it clear that this was where He was calling us.

God did his work as we grieved the loss of Starbucks and a local mall.  In four years time, we fell deeply in love with the people of New Life Community Church.  He took us down paths we didn’t expect.  For one thing our hearts became entwined with an incredible group of youth, after we had clearly proclaimed that John was “NOT called to be a youth pastor”.  In four years we became friends with the most amazing group of people.  We laughed, and cried, joked and prayed, and experienced the presence and the working of the Lord together.  We served in ministry, but honestly, we received more than we could ever give from our family at New Life.

Four years and two additional children later, God has called our time to a close here.  Our hearts are anxiously anticipating the disclosing of God’s plan for us.  At the same time we are grieving the loss of those who have loved us and our children so deeply.  Our time here has been a gift of fellowship, breaking and growth that we will forever cherish.

Nearly 3 months ago we welcomed our 3rd child, Anna Joy into the world.  6 weeks prior, to that John arrived home for the evening.  God had been speaking some things to our hearts regarding our time coming to a close here, for the past several months.  On that evening we had a rather heart wrenching conversation with each other regarding our ministry here at New Life.  Overwhelmed, I took my then very pregnant self for a walk to try to process what God was doing.  I made it about half a block, turned around, looked at John and said “We’re done here, aren’t we?”  As much as we both wanted to fight it, we knew the answer was “yes”.

We spent a couple of weeks in prayer.  During that time there was much prayer and wrestling with the Lord and each day it became clearer that we would be in deep disobedience to try to continue on with our ministry here at New Life.

And, even as I am writing this I think, “Who does this?!”  What kind of crazy people up and resign from a position just a few short weeks before they bring their 3rd child into the world?  Crazy or not, five days after the birth of Anna, John stood before our New Life family to inform them our time there was coming to a close.

As of September 1, we entered into a time in our lives that John is referring to as being “suspended”.  We are currently still dwelling in Fredericktown, Ohio.  Our son has started the year at preschool, just like any other.  We are tending to our children’s needs, enjoying time with our friends, going about the business of daily living.  Just one major difference… My husband no longer goes to work.  John calls it being suspended.  It’s relying on God, completely, without knowing where on earth He is taking us.  I, as always, am a bit more dramatic… I refer to it as jumping without a parachute.

John’s resume is out to a few different districts, but at this time we have no leads.  The church has blessed us, by continuing to pay John’s salary until the beginning of November.  We are enjoying this precious time together as a family.  Daily, God speaks to us: “Just wait.  Be patient.  Soon.”  We are reassured that we are walking in his perfect plan for us.  But, we are also human, with human needs, and three small humans entrusted to our care.   And as amazingly, brilliant as our 3 children are, we do not think we can count on them to take on gainful employment anytime soon.  So while we are receiving God’s gift of rest for our family, the ground is getting closer, we have no parachute and we are still just trusting that He will catch us right before we touch down.

In short, we are asking for your prayers.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Simply that you would come boldy before the throne on our behalf, as the Lord leads you. We feel that at this time God is calling John to a position of Senior Ministry in a smaller church.

Please pray that God grants us favor.  We’ve run into some roadblocks, regarding “our youthfulness”.  Which is somewhat humorous to me, as 3 children tend to make you feel a “little less youthful”.  I have suggested to John that he may be wise to allow me to put salt and pepper highlights in his hair.  So far he is ignoring my “wise” suggestion.  I am hoping time at home with me and the children will cause him to gray a bit more quickly!  All joking aside, we do understand that we are still young in ministry.  We are trusting that as we daily appear before the Lord with humble hearts and place ourselves under the wise guidance of those more mature, He will lead and grow us.

I think often of how Saul was called into ministry in Acts 9.  The Lord granted Ananias a vision regarding the calling of Saul.  Ananias definitely had his doubts regarding Saul!  I am praying that God would do this on my husband’s behalf.  I have spent 8 years living with my husband.  As much as he is not perfect, his character cannot be called into question.  His age, however can.  I am praying that the Holy Spirit goes before us and prepares the hearts of the right congregation.  Would you please join me?

Shortly after God began speaking to us regarding John’s resignation, he gave John a “picture” of Jesus standing before a door.  Jesus stood before the door, beckoned John, walked through, turned around and smiled.  I don’t have a clear picture of where we are headed.  I do have a clear picture that God is leading us though.  I am madly in love with Christ , we have proven him faithful time and time again.  I look forward to sharing with you what door he opens for us this time.  Soon….

Fully relying,

Robin Eger.

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