Monday, January 11, 2016

It Matters

I have been a mom for less than six months. Not long. So I don’t claim to have any sage advice or wisdom to impart, but God plopped something in my lap today that I feel most compelled to share.

If you have small children and you are anything like me, then perhaps there have been moments when you question if what you are doing day in and day out really matters. Maybe you wonder if your kids are watching you and actually learning anything from you, or if all of the teaching and modeling you do all day is just pointless. Allow me to reassure you. What you are doing matters, and your kids are learning more from you than you realize.

This morning was tough. We had been riding the high of a truly beautiful weekend with my dad in town and then a gathering of friends and family for Bradley’s dedication. Bradley had a wonderful time playing with his grandfather and namesake. And then he was the center of attention at his dedication yesterday (at least until he fell asleep). We had a wonderful time. But as we sometimes experience after a big weekend, Bradley was a little agitated today.

It started out in the kitchen when we got home from the grocery store. I was unloading everything, which he doesn’t like because I am not able to be completely focused on him. So he began opening all of the drawers in our kitchen and pulling everything out. Dishes, tupperware, baking pans. All of it. And then he started throwing them across the kitchen and screaming. As he is doing this, I am trying to figure out how to install the child locks on our kitchen cabinets and drawers. Apparently, my lack of engineering degree is a major obstacle now that I have a toddler. Between the screaming and the epically failed lock assembly (not to mention my raging third trimester hormones), I am rapidly approaching the edge of the cliff.

Right around this time, my darling husband facetimes us from work just to say hi.

Well, wasn’t he in for a surprise!

Baby shrieking. Wife near tears.

As he almost always can, he talks me of the ledge and promises to figure out the child locks tonight while I am at Bible study.

During our conversation, I start B’s lunch. The sight and smell of food ignite a frenzy.

At this point, all I want is to get the food on the table so he can eat and I can put him down for his nap and then go cry in my closet.

I get him into his chair and get our plates on the table. I set his in front of him and say, “Here you go.”

My child {mere moments before screaming his head off} stops, looks at his plate, looks at me and holds out his hand for me to take and say the blessing before he will even touch his food. I am stopped in my tracks.

Mother of the year over here was ready for forgo the blessing today to get him to fill his mouth with food to stop the screaming.

We have been modeling holding hands to pray for a while now. We put his plate on the table, but out of his reach, and usually he gets so frustrated with food so close that it’s a battle to get through the prayer. But today, he stopped me with his plate right in front of him to bless our food. Now, I know he does not fully understand what we are doing when we pray before we eat, but he knows that there is something our family does at the table before we touch our food.

So I stopped and prayed for us and for our food. I thanked God for my son. And that is something I was so ready to miss in the midst of my frustration.

Today I was reminded that I am the primary example of God’s love and grace in the life of my son, that if I do not model Christ for him, then I am not loving him the best I can. I was reminded that toddlers are hard, and that I cannot parent one without Jesus. I was reminded that the small things I do in front of Bradley can have a huge impact on the man he ultimately becomes.

So maybe you are frustrated today, or maybe you will be tomorrow, and you will be tempted to skip those little things because they don’t seem to matter anyway. They matter. You matter. It matters.

With love,

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year, New Goals, Lots of New

Oh my stars. The end of the year completely got away from me. I have so many things I want to share just swirling around in my head, and I always have the very best intentions to sit down and write, but I am just so darn tired. No more! In 2016, my goal is to write at least once a week. You’ll notice we made it all the way to Thursday before I sat down to write this week, so perhaps my goal is a bit lofty, but I’m going for it.

I’m working on a post about Bradley’s first Christmas home (it was awesome, by the way), but I want to focus on the year ahead today.

So much has changed since January 2015. Last year, we were still riding the high form receiving our referral phone call and hearing that we were FINALLY parents. We were working through final paperwork and starting to dream about meeting our boy. It was a time full of joyous anticipation and aching longing to have him home.

January of this year comes with its own brand new set of circumstances and emotions. Being Bradley’s mom has rocked my world. I love him so deeply, and at least once a day I find myself staring at him in COMPLETE AND UTTER DISBELIEF. He is here. He lives in my house. Within all of that, I have been stretched to the very limits of my being. God is using this boy to refine me in ways I did not know existed. Parenting a child from a hard place has been more difficult, draining, rewarding (basically more everything) than I ever imagined possible.

And then we have little Miss Asher joining us in less than three months time. Ummm...what? That reality is dawning fast and hard. Her life has humbled me beyond words. God has gifted us beyond what we could have imagined, in a way that we were so certain would never happen for us. That I get to carry her into this world... Well, that is something for which I do not have words. We are so excited to meet and know this little girl. At the same time, as I watch Bradley grow and change and weave into our family, I find myself wondering what will happen when she is born. It scares me. I want to be a good mom to both of them, and I am painfully aware of how not equipped I am for that.

In those moments, God reminds me that my lack of ability is precisely why I find myself in this situation. Where I am weak, He is strong. It is my prayer and hope that God will be glorified through my weakness and inabilities. That His strength and goodness will be magnified. Adam and I always say that we want our life to point back to Christ, and I am excited to see how God helps us do this in the next chapter.

In a rather vulnerable conversation with some dear friends of mine this week, I shared some of my struggles with being a new mom, places I feel like I fall short time and again. And one of my VERY wise friends shared a thought that has been bouncing around in my brain since she said it. God knew I would fall short and fail in all of these different ways, and He gave me Bradley anyway. He made me Bradley’s mom anyway. What an incredible thought. I just love that. It helps me to know that I can rest and find my strength in Christ, my identity in Christ.

So that is my big prayer heading into 2016. That I would return to the Lord in a fresh way. That I would go to Him first in all things.

There is a LOT coming our way to test me in this. And that does make me nervous. But I am ready to see the Lord move yet again in my life and in my heart. I used to joke that if we ever completed our adoption from Ethiopia, I couldn’t imagine what would occupy my mind all day, every day. I guess now I know.

With love,
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