Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When You Think You Know

I was nervous. Panicked, really. It wasn't so much about homeschooling four kids. It was homeschooling that one.

The busy one. The physical one. The larger and louder than life one. The one who has outlasted me over and over again when we lock horns over discipline issues. He doesn't back down. He's untamable. Cross him and his tantrums pass like a tsunami over the entire day, a shadow over the whole family. Goodness. Homeschooling that one? Scared me.

But I made a mistake. When I sat down to plan homeschooling my boisterous boy, I only considered the difficulties. The hard spaces and rough edges. I focused on my fears and missed out on how fabulous it could be.

And oh, but that boy surprised me. The one I thought I'd need to put in school this fall? He's leading the pack. When I think about why, I'm amazed I missed it.

Yes he's loud and brash and strong and mighty. But he's also one of my gentlest souls. Sweet snuggler. I remember that the way to reach him has never been to match him pitch for pitch but to bring it down to a soft, safe place and open arms wide.

Homeschooling has been that. In the morning, he sits quietly with his work, pushing ahead and doing lesson after lesson until I have to tell him to stop. He fits perfectly on my lap when I teach him to read and he hasn't complained, not once, about wanting to do something else. He's lapping up my attention and I wonder if it's so much that it's changing something in him - or changing something in me. How I see him, changing.

You think you raise them. But sometimes? They raise you.

When you think you know? You might have no idea.

My Jonah taught me that.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

All Glory



Today was a near perfect day. The kind of day you leave behind and think, wow - that really just couldn't have gone any better. The kind of day you hold up as a benchmark and measure other days against. The kind of day that you blog about, or share perfect pictures of on facebook, giddy with the perfection of it all.

It was a golden day where home life felt peaceful, homeschool felt feasible, happiness attainable. My list was completed and I even added a few fun things just because. I delighted in my children, something that truthfully doesn't happen every day. One of those days. The kind that crop up every once in a while just when you think you're losing your touch to remind you of why you do what you do.

A day where contentment was easy and gratitude effortless.  A day where happiness was as plentiful as sunshine and everything felt right. A pretty rare sort of day for me, to be completely honest.

I was thinking about contentment while prepping dinner and watching my kids (and a few spares) run around outside. I've always thought contentment is something I have down. Material "stuff" isn't a big draw for me. I'm drawn to little happinesses like baking in the fall and rocking babies to sleep. Being content with fewer and smaller things isn't a struggle, and so I can think that being satisfied is not a battle I'm fighting. I may think that, but I'd be wrong.

Contentment isn't just being happy with what you are given.  Contentment is trusting that, even if you don't understand why everything is falling apart, that what God is doing in your life is for His glory. It doesn't always feel nice, or easy. Sometimes it's dark and wretched and hard. Sometimes you wonder if you'll give right out, broken in two, irreparable. That's where the trust comes in.

This is where contentment draws a hard line for me to cross. Not by living life small and simple, but living life trusting. Trusting that what He has for me today is where I'm meant to be. Not just on the golden happy days, but on the bleak ones, too. The days where the very thing required of me is the very last thing I'd prefer to be doing.

Contentment is the daily exercise of accepting the work He has for you today, no matter what it is. Satisfied in living by trust, offering up everything. The tough, the bleak, the broken and the beautiful. Living each day knowing He can use it all for His glory and our good.

I can content my heart with that.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Mama Transitions #MindfulMotheringMondays

I'm laying on the couch, book in hand, nose in book. On my side, with Rosie tucked in the crook my body makes, her legs draped over mine. In one hand she clutches an ever-present baby doll. With the other she carefully traces the shape of my lips, her eyes watching as she makes her way around and around Mommy's mouth. It's Saturday and we're just nursing in the way we do these days.

She's eighteen months now. It seems hardly possible that my baby is picking up new words by the dozen each day and is growing into such a little sassy personality. My big kids, too, keep growing and changing. Every one of us seems to be in transition. I feel that gnawing feeling that I say this all of the time, and I know it's because I do. I keep waiting for that day when we just are just as we are, but the more I live and watch seasons and people grow and change, the more I realize that life is transition. And I'm not sure that ever truly stops.

The girls are sprawled on the living room floor, making cards "just because" for every person they can think of. Neighbors and cousins and friends and family, all carefully spelled out on colored construction paper trimmed with hearts and a well practiced "I love you" on each and every one.

The boys are out back, all three with a neighbor kid thrown in for good measure on a chilly fall day, tossing around a few footballs they found in the garage. Transition, transition. Jonah's first year of "real" school. Ben in middle school and Peter seeming every day more like a kid and less like my chubby baby.

Transition, no matter how lovely to behold, comes with it a certain ache. Change and time and endless adaptation to the new - it can rub your heart right raw. Mamas start out in that first confusing moment of pain and exhilaration and it seems like a paradox. How can something so difficult and scary and painful be the absolute apex of joy? We regard for the first time a mottled and squished squawking speck of humanity and feel it - fierce love, anguish, pride, fear. And we think that, by and by, it will change. Get easier somehow. Slow down to a steady and predictable daily pace. But it never really does. All of mothering is a mirror of those first moments. Pain side by side with joy. Fear and grief nestled gently with hope and faith. Desperate to succeed, fear of falling. Blinding, astounding, terrifying love.

We're human so we can get bogged down grasping at moments, trying to tug them close and keep them from slipping out of our hands. But the only way to hold them, even for a little while, is to live in them with gratitude. Knowing this day comes just once and loving it for what it is. My nursing relationship with this last little has an expiration date. Those boys out back won't always come in the kitchen door all loud and muddy every Saturday evening. The people my girls love will continue to grow and expand to include people we don't even know yet. This is only the beginning.

Some days are harder and we rush right through, ready to just be done with whatever it is we are facing. Not all moments feel like treasure. Not every day is one for the memory books. Not every day presents itself as once-in-a-lifetime. Life is hard and I would never stand here and say "just count your blessings!" because goodness, I know difficulties. I know that platitudes such as those don't mean much to a friend who's baby is in the NICU while she waits on the floor below, waiting for answers and aching to hold him. They fall flat to a Mama who goes home empty handed from the hospital with nothing but grief.

The thing is, the hard stuff in life doesn't make the good stuff less of a blessing. If anything, it showcases the magnitude of the graces that we are given. Her eyes on my face. My big girls humming echoing through the house. His 3 year old cheeks brilliantly red on a Fall afternoon. We can't keep the moments but we can acknowledge the miracles when we see them and live fully and presently in the time we have.

There's an ache to the change. But I can hold the ache together with joy and look across the years seeing just how He led us from day one. Through each change, over each mountain, guiding us gently home.

{It's Mindful Mothering Mondays, a day to take a deep breath and write out your mothering journey, whatever form it takes. A day to link up for encouragement from others who are in this same phase of life. A day of writing out the trials and triumphs and what you're learning right where you are, right now.

You might post recent struggles or thoughts. Maybe just a picture or a quote. Or maybe you'll just come here and read the links that others post. Whatever form your participation takes, this is a day for you.
We are all in this, together. Together, we can encourage and build one another up, be honest with our shortcomings and strengthened by community to keep fighting the good fight.

I chose Mondays because what Mama doesn't need a little encouragement on a Monday?

I hope you'll meet with me! Here's what to do ~

Link up your post below in the comments. Remember to put the link to the exact post you want to link, and not just your blog url. Include in your post a link back here so others who want to join in can find us! And visit some other Mamas who have linked up.

Post the community graphic within your post, so people who are reading your Mindful Mothering post can come back here and find the rest of us! You can use the hashtag #MindfulMotheringMondays on Twitter and Instagram to connect further.

Invite the writers of your favorite blogs to join in!

Share this meme with others on facebook and twitter. This community is for all moms, and the more that participate, the more we will be able to enjoy!!}

Grab the graphic here:


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