An Every Day Dance of Grace

(Originally published here)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 pretty much sums up the mantra that replays in my head all day long as I mother my littles.

All my life I have wanted to be a mama and while I consider it a huge blessing and a dream come true – it is also a heavy responsibility. It means I am a teacher, every moment of every day.

If you are a mom, or if you are going to be a mom, God is trusting you to steward human souls. Souls that He made (Genesis 1:26-27; Jeremiah 1:5) and loves and has a purpose for, the purpose is for His glory.

He doesn’t give them to complete us. He doesn’t give them to make us happy. He doesn’t give them just to sanctify us. He doesn’t give them to us to idolize them. Sure those things feel like they happen but human beings are His and not ours. He made them and loves them more than we do.

We are stewards of their souls for a certain amount of time, and it is a responsibility and privilege I take so seriously. If I believe scripture, then I believe when it says in Romans, that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed on all men, for all have sinned (Romans 5).

He gave us Christ, whom by His obedience we are considered righteous (Romans 5). I am considered righteous because of Christ, and that is a truth I will never fully grasp, and so I learn alongside my children when we read God’s word and let it soak in.

This reality, this good news now affects everything about the way I parent. It keeps my eyes focused on the treasure of who Christ is and what He has done. As a mama with a messy past, I know this truth so well. What He did for me and the fact that I get to be with Him… It is the breath that fills my lungs. It heals my deepest hurts and shame. It pushes me forward in love. It leaves me longing for eternity. I’m not a mom that walks around calling my kids sinners all day. I do, however, teach them what sin is and what virtue is. I help them recognize the conscience that God created in them.

They don’t understand sin yet; they are four and two, but I hope they never remember a day that if their sin was revealed or confronted, it wasn’t met with immediate grace, forgiveness, and love. I lavish them in that because that’s what He does for me. I want to give them a taste of that. But, I get distracted easily. I’m prone to wander. (Lord, do I feel that on a daily basis.) Prone to leave the God I love… for unimportant worldly mindsets and things, even with regards to parenting.

Because I am cursed with being a Type A perfectionist (just kidding about the cursed part… I am fearfully and wonderfully made) the way I try and care for my children often is tiring to me, and it’s my fault. I want them to keep sleep schedules, eat the healthiest food, and have toys and books to develop their brains and bodies correctly according to all the recommendations. I want their birthday parties to be themed and their outfits to match. I want their rooms to look like they could be featured in a Pottery Barn magazine. The list goes on.

It’s hard to remember the greatest purpose of child rearing when you are trying to tackle the mundane day-to-day living. However, I am thankful that He has given me the wisdom to see how fleeting time is.

I only have a certain amount of time with these little souls, and I have no idea how long that time will be. The reality is that it could be five more hours, five more days, 5 more weeks, 5 more months, five more years or God-willing, my children will outlive me. For however long I get to mother these people I want to be able to say I gave it my all. That I tried to be like Him, show Him, teach Him – in every moment of every day that I was with them.

Because someday He is coming back and they will hear Him because they know His voice. His word has been there since they were babies. The Spirit of Christ has used me to write it there. When I rose, when I sat, when I walked by the way, when we laid down. I don’t believe motherhood is the highest calling on earth and I don’t like to hear Christians say it. It’s just not true. It IS an incredible responsibility, though, and I desire for both faithfulness and fruitfulness as I run this race of motherhood that Christ has laid in front of me. Do I think that if I do it “perfectly” they will be saved? You know my mind wanders there sometimes! But I know it isn’t true. I’ll be diligent to do my part of proclaiming the gospel, and teaching them faithfully and trust God to faithfully do what He does, the redeeming and the renewing.

So if we are teachers, every moment of every day, what is it that we are teaching? His word MUST be in our hearts if we are to impress it on theirs. Saturate your mind with it – whatever that looks like for you. You will grow weary in many ways as a parent and let things go at the time; that’s fine. Don’t grow wearing in teaching the word, mamas. Don’t grow weary in proclaiming the good news of the gospel to these little souls. Because in teaching them the story of scripture, whether Genesis, Ruth, Psalms or John, we are teaching them Christ (Luke 24:27).

I do want my children to rise and call me blessed someday, but more than that though I want to worship our Creator together for eternity and that can only happen through what Paul calls the “power of God to save” in Romans 1, the gospel. I want to see Haddon and Verity, beautiful creations of His, surrounded by His glory, and overcome with His Majesty. Eternity. That is what keeps my eyes focused on Christ as a mama.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

A Few Recommended Resources

30!

 

I turned 30 yesterday. I don’t actually feel different from last week but I have been reflecting on the grace filled life the Lord has given me. I decided to write these 30 reflections out to be able to remember what I thought about various subjects (in no particular order) at this point in life someday. Maybe the 30 years its taken me to learn some of these things (and I’m still learning them) will help you learn something in the 3 minutes it takes to read this. Enjoy!
The Past: I think the past definitely shapes, molds, affects you but it doesn’t define you.

Marriage: I think that marriage is the most sanctifying and beautiful gift. Allowing someone to see you day in and day out in all sorts of situations is the most humbling thing and I will be forever grateful all my days. Even if Micah never decides to like cleaning.

Margin: I think there needs to be some in life to just let life happen without it being written in your planner.

Motherhood: I think that God is incredibly generous in letting me have these children. I don’t think its the highest calling as some Christians life to say but I think its absolutely amazing and that if the Lord has given you little people to steward for shooting off into the world you better make it your priority. Also, dont idolize it. Cheers to balancing that!

Working Out: I think I should and I like the results when I do. It makes me happy, keeps me healthy, and gives me a “me thing.”

Eating: I think that unless I have an extreme allergy I will enjoy all things in moderation and when I feel like it but that mostly my diet should fuel me not be a feast to my eyeballs.

On Scripture: I think I should desire this more than I do but I also know it’s real and living and has the power to do truly miraculous things like lead people to their realization for the Lord.

On Friendships: I think I’ve had some amazing friends from each season of life.

On Commitment: I think people struggle with this and that grace should be allowed but people should still commit when able.

On Church: I think if  you find a bible believing/living/teaching/preaching church with intentional community you should be a part of that family and see your need for it.

On Discipleship: I think you should always want to grow in holiness. I think meeting with someone regularly to grow in knowledge of Him is one of the best ways to spend your time.

On Relationships: I think they are messy and beautiful and you should always try to make them more beautiful and less messy.

On Finances: I think I shouldn’t have spent so much money when I made bank as a waitress. I also think God gave me a great counterpart who helps me see money in a different light and we balance each other well. I think you should get out of debt as fast as you can within reason. I think you should be generous.

On Scripture: It is alive and living. It will convict you and lead you to repentance and grace.

On Believing: It is not enough to believe. If I don’t see my need for Christ I am still lost and will never be found until I am found in Him. I believed my whole life. When I saw my need for Him my entire life changed.

On Hospitality: I think opening up your home to be a safe place for people to ask questions, learn, and enjoy life is one of the best ways to use what you’ve been given. I have had amazing examples of this.

On Communication: I think that this is hard and that people have so many unspoken expectations. I think you should strive for good communication and be willing to work through it nicely when it sucks.

On Work: I think the Lord made us to work and its a really good thing to do so. I think people often get obsessed with it and do it for the wrong reasons and to make something of themselves though or to have luxurious lives. I think we have elevated ourselves as fame seekers and money and in doing so we have elevated work higher than it needs to be often at the expense of others.

On Control: I think we want it. We want it so bad we will do weird things to have it. All it takes is a couple situations out of our control to realize it was never ours to begin with.

On Taking Pictures: I will never regret the amount of pictures I take. It helps me remember with one glance things my mind would soon likely forget.

On Understanding: I think this is really more on being humble. Which I think we should be.

On Prayer: I think I need to talk to God a lot more. If I ever saw the amount of time I spent scrolling versus the amount of time I spend on my knees I would probably have to run over my phone.

On Social Media: I think its amazing to be able to connect with people and for that I’m grateful but I think its changed the way people think and function not necessarily for the better.

On Death: I think its inevitable and I cant wait for the day it doesn’t exist but I am thankful the Lord is long-suffering and waiting on others to come to Him.

On the Government: I think people need to chill. The President isn’t God and the country’s rules aren’t God’s laws. He will reign on this world again someday but today He lets it go astray for His purposes to be fulfilled.

On Love: I think we should love one another I think we should treat each other with gentleness and respect. I don’t think we all have to agree on how that is done and what it looks like.

On Pushing Yourself: I think I should always find a way to push myself. I’m not talking about the rat race of life, I’m saying always be growing in an area.

On Forgiveness: I think it should always be done. Always. No matter what it looks life afterward – work it into life. You’ll be less bitter and there will be less conflict. We apologize often and say “I forgive you” constantly in this house. In a world of imperfect people you will have this opportunity often.

On Living Hope: I think I can view any aspect of life with the lens of something more, His Kingdom and I’m thankful I’ve learned that now rather than later.

Self-Reflection: I think self reflection is important but don’t gaze there too long. Gaze on the one that made us.

(These are on the more serious side… another post needs to be done on the physical things about turning 30. For example, how you cant drink coffee past 1 pm or you will be up all night, you cant have more than 2 drinks or you will suffer the next day, you will get chin hairs).

Part 3: Things I Learned while Training

I left off with this mini series talking about what I used to train for this race.

Today I will talk about things I learned or that happened.

  • I lost a toenail – so gross… I had some pain underneath a toe for a couple days before I (of course) googled it. I saw that it could be a blister and how to take care of it. So, I did. It popped and oozed just fine (ew) but I eventually lost the toenail. It’s grown back fine after many months!
  • My IT band started giving me issues two weeks before the race if I ran over 3 miles – this was one of the most unpleasant surprises. I dont know why it happened… I think I should have changed shoes earlier and should have stretched more. I popped a tylenol for the race, rubbed some DoTerra deep blue on it, and wore an IT band thing. It ended up being fine through the race.
  • Only wear clothes you are absolutely comfortable in – my sister in law said that when she would do her long training runs on the weekend she always wore the same outfit so that the race had no surprises. Not only did I not do this but I wore a tutu on race day lol. I think I will stick to her tip if there is a next time – which I am still not sure about haha
  • I did not lose any weight
  • Running in the heat is the worst – be sure to hydrate!!

 

Verity’s 1st Birthday Party!

Verity turned 1 on November 30th! We had a party a couple days before.

I had a lot of fun planning this sweet Pat the Bunny party.

Enjoy the storytelling of it through pictures:

Part 2: What I Used to Train for 13.1

I left off with this mini series talking about why I would want to run a half marathon in the first place.

Now I will tell you what I used to help accomplish this goal.

Please keep in mind that everybody and every body is different, you may not need quite as much as I did and you may need more!

  1. Hal Higdon Plan – I loved this plan and thought it was really easy to follow as far as endurance goes. What didn’t end up working out is the cross-training days… I barely was able to get a run in on the scheduled days because of other life duties. I don’t think that it negatively affected me to not have done those workouts, however, I wonder if I could have done even better with that training too.
  2. This water bottle/carrier thing. Seriously amazing and worth the $28. I hate things touching me. Ever since I had kids I am all for being comfortable. Which means I did not want a waist band full of water bottles – seriously, that sounds terrible to me. I found this in a running magazine and ordered it that day. It could hold enough water that I didn’t have to stop and go throughout my runs but also hydrated me enough. Plus, that little pocket for fuel was perfect!
  3. Fuel – Because I was nursing I made sure I was not expending too many calories without replenishing. A typical eating pattern for me was: drink coffee & eat a banana and toast with peanut butter, drink an Arbonne protein shake when I got back, and eat these little things if I ran anything over three miles. Also, as a nursing mama I made sure to eat fennel, brewer’s yeast, drink Mother’s Milk tea, etc. I didnt want my personal goal getting in the way of feeding V.
  4. Blogs of other runners – Especially if you don’t have a big community of runners around you. Read about other people working out and going through the same things. I found this more helpful and not really a comparison thing. I liked this one a lot because she also has two small kids (she has since quit blogging but there is a lot already on her blog that is helpful).
  5. Fitbit – I had gotten one of these for my birthday and didnt really use it until I started training. It was mostly helpful just to see what time it was and cool to see how much I was burning (remember, I was trying to replenish those calories!) and how many steps really happen while running!
  6. iPhone/carrier – I listened to so many sermons, podcasts, songs, etc. I would have been bored out of my mind without this
  7. IT Band –  this one I actually didn’t use until the day of the race. That will come in Part 3 (Things I Learned)
  8. Encouragement/Support from Family and Friends. Seriously, without this one I couldn’t have done it…I ran it with one of my bests so that was always great for accountability, excitement, and the spur to do it in the first place. Had babies watched by Micah and sometimes friends and families (no I did not want to train with a double stroller, thanks anyway), a girlfriend bought me my running shoes after I had Verity, two sweeties sent me little things for the race like a flower and shoe charm. Honestly, it just was awesome to have people supporting this endevour. So if you were one of them, thank you!

12 Months.

12months

Excuse the blurry iphone picture but she wasnt having it this morning… Ill update later.

Verity Belle,

I seriously can’t find the right words for your one year post.

I am just so grateful to God to be your mama for a whole year!

Some developmental things you are up to:

  • You almost never crawl anymore, sometimes you even semi-run
  • You can sign a couple things like more and all done
  • You wave but only if we say “night night” not “bye bye” lol
  • You mostly say “Dadeee” – in the exact same way we taught you to say it… You can say mama, brah (brother), nana (banana), hi, uh-oh, and you certainly try at other things but that’s really whats recognizable
  • You still nurse but it’s so little that I think it’s mostly comfort and routine over nourishment – although I don’t mind giving you a vitamin shot through it! I thought we would stop at a year but I’m just kind of letting you lead… you don’t ask for it that often anyway now that you eat like a champ
  • You understand and respond to “no” a lot better this month and you even listen to it sometimes!
  • You love to clap your hands and dance!
  • You blow on things when I tell you they are hot
  • You weren’t interested in books for the longest time and it made me so sad because the rest of us love books! Now you scurry and get them and bring them to us making the b sound! We are so excited to see this

I loved this age with Haddon and I think I am going to love it with you too!

Really, everything you do makes me excited because it continues to show me God’s grace. That we almost didn’t have you but we have for this whole year. That with 7 minutes of CPR when you were born it wouldn’t be abnormal if you couldn’t do all or a lot of these things. You do though. You continue to grow and develop beautifully and that brings me a lot joy. You’re also the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I know I’m biased but I can say that because you look just like your daddy.

I pray you would love Christ someday Verity. I pray that you would love Him early. I pray that He would bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, that He would lift up His countenance to you and give you peace. His peace. I pray He would save your life the way He already did physically.

I rest as a mama knowing that it isn’t my job to make you love Him but to point you to Him.

You and your life lead me to a greater worship of Him my dear.

Verity Belle, I hope you spend your whole life declaring his beautiful (belle) truth (verity) to this pain-filled and longing world.

 

From life’s first cry… till final breath… Jesus commands your destiny

11 Months.

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How will you be one in just one short month!?

Time goes way too quickly.

This past month was a little interesting.

We all caught colds and I realized that I still have some anxiety and fear to deal with when it comes to you and your health. When I heard you start coughing, daddy and I looked at each other and then looked at you. It hits him too but he is a lot stronger than me. He prayed for you (and me) before he left for work and basically said out loud that we know you will have something worse happen to you in your life than just a cold. He isn’t a negative Nancy or trying to speak poor things over you… it’s true. All of us, every person on earth will face more issues than a cold. It was a reminder though, that you arent mine and that anything could happen to you at any time and that would crush me. I hold you with open hands though my little love knowing that the Lord would hold me if that happened. I smother you in kisses in reality, if I can catch you that is…

because you are on the move. all.the.time.

You continued to learn balance and gain strength in those legs and get very proud of yourself when you walk.

You are the fastest crawler imaginable, especially when you make a bee line for the stairs. One time I found you at the top of the stairs shaking keys (the only reason I knew you had escaped). Another time we could hear you laughing (that’s right, you laugh because you know we will chase you).

You are VERY expressive and opinionated – aka dont like to be told no, have things taken away from you, etc.

You love to hold silverware.

You want your own cup.

You imitate almost everything.

(I picked this picture because it is the best representation of you this month… lol)

I love you wild girl.

Part 1: Why I Signed Up for a Half-Marathon

At one point this summer Shelby told me about a half-marathon she was considering. At this race we would get to wear tutus, tiaras, and get bubbly at the end! I enthusiastically said that we should totally do it and then signed up for it that night and sent her my confirmation asking if she had.

Even though the title is hints that this is supposed to be the post where I explain why… I really don’t know why I wanted to accomplish 13.1 miles while still breastfeeding a baby. I’ve spent some time pondering it though… I think I wanted to achieve a measurable goal. Not that I cared to achieve it in a certain time, or in a certain way, but I wanted to say I had finished it, I ran the race. Of course, I wanted pictures for proof😉

So much of what I do on a daily basis gets undone or I rarely see results to even know if I am doing a good job.

With running… I could have my app, my fitbit, my body, etc all telling me I was doing it!

It became my “me” time this spring and summer after a cold and mean winter last year cooped up inside and in hospitals.

Running truly gives me those endorphins and high that only weirdos talk about. I will forreal tell Micah that I haven’t gotten high in a while if I haven’t been able to run. I love it.

I didn’t always love it. In fact, I only had a handful of running experiences prior to the race:

  • I ran track for a season, I ran sprints with a team (not alone and as fast as possible then its done) – this was in middle school.
  • I weight-lifted for a year or two and we had to run around the track to warm up – this was in high school.
  • I went on a cruise so we ran for like a month leading up to it, my BFF and I wanted to look good in our bathing suits – this was in college.
  • I gained 50 lbs during my pregnancy with Haddon. My sister signed us up for a family turkey trot (5k) the following November – postpartum in 2012.

It was that last one that I decided I really liked running. Not only did I feel great but I saw results. I was hooked. From then on Micah and I would run together most the time. I have fond memories of bundling Haddon up in the dark as a baby and letting him fall asleep in the stroller as Micah and I ran around the neighborhood.

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baby Haddon all cozy and ready to roll

I ran throughout my pregnancy with Verity and while it was more of a real trot towards the end, I did it! I was really proud of myself. I had big plans to keep it up as soon as I got the okay from my midwife. But like I said, last winter sucked.

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Hey there, Verity!

So to me, running and postpartum are closely connected.

After much consideration, in retrospect, I think I signed up for a half-marathon because I wanted to see goals and I wanted to endure.

This might sound so silly… but Haddon’s birth was the longest/craziest event my body had ever been through (he was sunny side up) and when I found out Verity was sunny side up too…well, to be honest, I didnt want to endure that again – I opted for meds. While I truly dont think there is anything wrong with that and to each their own, I think it left me wanting to test my body again… and so, I did.

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(to be continued)

10 Months.

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You are a little over 10 months as I write this because we have been busy bees this month, you especially!

You give kisses.

You belly laugh when someone pretends you have stinky feet (but actually, most of the time they are in fact, stinky).

You high pitch squeal when you see your brother and you are wanting to see him.

You have two bottom teeth growing taller by the day.

Your brother and dad call you juicer… it’s the weirdest but funniest thing.

You give me kisses – big, open mouth, slobbery ones.

You took your first steps and they were toward me! Then this past weekend you took fourteen in a row.

You love drinking water – really I think you just like having your own cup a whole lot.

You eat like a champ – pretty much anything I put in front of you.

You like to read Pat the Bunny – my way of prepping you for your first birthday theme😉

You are starting to be able to follow direction but that doesn’t mean you always do……..

You point at everything and I just think it’s the cutest – one time in kid’s church, you and your brother were pointing at each other and smiling from across the room. I think I melted.

I just finished my first 1/2 marathon and someday you will understand why that was so important to me.

You make all sorts of faces and I cant wait until you talk and you tell us what they mean.

Actually, I can wait… you are growing up so fast and I cant believe how long the days are sometimes but the years truly are so short.

Mommy loves you baby girl.

9 Months.

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My girl….

You’ve been with us on the outside as long as you were on the inside, and I wont lie, that makes me a crying mess right now.

I am so thankful, more than I ever knew to be before you were born.

Every day is such a gift sweet thing, you are such a gift to this family.

You make me so stinkin happy. Your personality and disposition is the biggest blessing to us.

Sometimes I cant believe we almost didn’t get to know you… and what we would have missed… I’m just so thankful to God for you.

You are growing and developing so wonderfully and that thrills me too.

When we left the NICU, we asked if anything was “wrong” with you from being without oxygen for so long and if there was anything we needed to be aware of long term. They said you had passed all your NICU tests and to just watch for your developmental milestones and that you would probably have an asterisk by your name until middle school to watch for learning disabilities.

So far you are passing all your milestones with flying colors (another thing that makes me sappy). Every time you do something new, experience something for the first time, etc it’s a reminder to me of God’s grace and my unreservedness. Almost losing you seriously changed me in the best way possible.

So, what you are up to…

Every since you got the grasping/pinching thing down you eat all on your own. We give you pouches occasionally for convenience but otherwise you completely lead the way and feed yourself anything that we give you (which is pretty much everything).

You pull on everything. You can stand for a couple seconds on your own.

You love your brother a lot.

Your daddy too… you have started to get excited when he comes home from work.

You love to touch other people but are kind of funny with your own space.

You are obsessed with your baby dolls, I have a couple so that we always have one accessible and you seriously squeal and laugh at them. If anyone tries to take one out of your hand you pull hard haha

You can say mumm mumm mumm but don’t do it all the time. In fact, you can make a couple sounds that sort of sound like words but you definitely take more in than you try to say.

You sleep through the night and usually take two naps a day. You are like clock work and at 8pm you turn into a grump if you are not getting ready for bed.

We never even had to sleep train you – you cried for like 2 minutes the first time we “tried” to train you. Every now and then you give a little protest but it’s nothing crazy and it never lasts for long.

You are learning the word no and I wouldn’t say you always listen to it… but you seem to be very teachable, which is something we pray for with you kids.

You make the most hilarious face when you don’t like something… you just open your mouth and make funny eyes, every now and then you make a whining noise and purse your lips too.

You rarely cry. If you do there is definitely a reason.

It’s hard to read to you… you are so active. I hope you will love books like the rest of the family though!

You are a tall little thing and I have no idea where you get that from but I should have known since you did give me stretch marks and your brother didn’t… I forgive you. I also still haven’t lost all the weight I gained with you and Ive been running over 25 miles a week – so I am assuming I just need the extra pounds for you to continue nursing. Which you are a champ at by the way.

As of today, (which is 4 days past your 9 month mark) your first tooth broke the skin!

I love you little girl and I cant wait to see what this month brings!