A Mother’s Day Reflection

Recently I was thinking about all the things I’ve done in the past and all the things I would like to do in the future. I asked my husband if all of my accomplishments really mattered after all. Were they having an impact on my life now? And in the midst of it all I wondered how to describe myself just as me, separate from my roles in other people’s lives.

As I sit outside soaking in the evening sun glimmering on the ripples of the lake, savoring the light breeze as it plays with the leaves and carries butterflies toward our flowers, and listening to my children shriek with delight while they swing and play, I conclude that my identity is not entirely lost. I continue to find delight in absorbing the outdoors or getting lost in a good book. I still prefer tea over coffee and try to sneak in a bite of chocolate in the late afternoon. I love the thrill of an amazing find while thrifting and am convinced that dragonflies are truly fairy steeds. And I’m starting to see these idiosyncrasies popping up in the little people around me.

I smile as the children and I create detailed imaginings about the fairy world; when we go on walks someone is always commenting on the beautiful flowers we pass or listening for birdcalls. Books are forever being hid under bedcovers for late night reading and the letter-writing tradition is being received with pen-eager fingers. It leads me to believe that the past helped shape who I am presently and bits of me are being imprinted in the hearts and minds of my children. And all the while, their raising is shaping who I will be tomorrow.

I suppose that’s what it means to be a mother: a continual giving and receiving of all we hold most dear.

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Irena Sendler: Mother to the Children of the Holocaust

I have had this book for years but it was a timely read for our current crisis. The pages in this book are filled with gripping accounts of great tragedy, unspeakable evil committed intentionally, and immense bravery enacted out of great love for fellow humans.
Irena Sendler was a tiny lady with unshakable conviction about doing what was right. When asked if she felt fear as she rescued over 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto she said she was afraid; but she also knew that a worse fate than getting caught would be to live knowing she ignored her conscience.
But heroism is not without a price and Irena’s life bears the scars of that high cost: physically and emotionally. The same is true for the young lives she rescued. Their lives continued but not without great sorrow.
For a perspective-altering look at history and heroism, this book is the one to read.
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The Cross and Corona

During this season of being still, being advised to stay home and learning what is essential, I’ve wondered where the Cross comes into the picture. I’ve pondered what the best approach is: faith or preparedness; concern or nonchalance; soul-searching, finger-pointing, or conspiracy-theorizing. What does Christ desire of me? Does a heavenly focus change earthly circumstances?

It’s very easy to need to know the latest headline or to become consumed with buying extra while you can and then worrying if you forgot something. There’s the fear that causes doors to be shut and distances kept. But then I read my Bible and am reminded that His truths never change. There is still gospel seed to be sown; there are still people to love; and God is still faithful to provide.

This morning I walked outside for a bit of fresh, cool air. It was a stressful morning of slow moving, cranky kids and mountains of laundry. The sky was overcast and I felt ragged before the day had even started. I was also aware of the Cross and wanting that to mold my perspective today. The thought came to me that in this meta narrative of Time, God’s sovereignty works on a universal scale as well as in intricately personal ways. And overall the gospel stands supreme.

Just as in times of crises hundreds of years ago, God guided and moved and changed the structure of civilization to achieve His will and He is doing the same today. He also sanctifies His people in the midst of all of it. He calls us to pray, to read more of His word, to remember the overlooked, to rejoice in Him always, to be grateful and to think more highly of others than ourselves (especially the ones within our walls). Those things remain the same, virus or no virus.

Personally, my sanctification involves:

  • An increased time of devotions and training our children to do the same.
  • Seeing afresh that my children are amazing individuals and I want to really get to know them.
  • Appreciating the opportunity to be resourceful and creative.
  • Delighting in an open schedule with no pressing obligations outside the home.
  • Practicing patience, patience, and a little more patience.
  • Respecting historical figures SO much more because of all they endured.
  • Being willing to be selfless when I most want to be selfish.
  • Recognizing that my husband is his own person with a set amount of time God has entrusted to him. It is not correct of me to dictate or judge how he spends his time; it is between him and God. I am excited to see how God shapes him during this season.

In conclusion, I don’t know how or why all of this is happening or when it will all conclude. I don’t know what God is planning for the Church or even for individuals outside of my home. But I do know that being surrendered to His purposes is the safest and most peaceful place to be in the storm.

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Books that Shaped Me (part 3)

And now here I am: married with 5 young children, homeschooling and seeking to make our home a place that welcomes the presence of Jesus. There is never enough time in the day to read all I want, write all I want, communicate all I want… books often have to compete with my phone for a place in my hands. But I am trying to read something besides my screen every day. Here are a few of the impacting titles I have read over the past few years.

This book transformed my view of pregnancy and birth. Prior to reading this all of the “what to expect when…” apps and articles shaped my perspective. And then I read this book and understood the power God has designed within our bodies to create, sustain and deliver life. I also learned how mothers need to take ownership of that power and use it during their birth journeys.
It is is easy to become dulled by the monotony of ordinary days but this book gently prompted to look at the memories being made and the routines being developed as the blessings that they are and as opportunities to worship.
This title dovetails nicely with the one above it. In this book the author guides mothers to turn daily chores and routines into holy moments of communion with Jesus.
Somehow I learned more about myself while reading this book about the mother-son relationship. I do believe that this book has had the greatest impact on my parenting than any other parenting book I have read. It has prompted me to ask God to change me in ways I had not previously considered.
Life is so much richer with faithful friends but it’s easy to lose sight of that when life gets busy. I appreciated how this book brought me back to seeing good friends as necessities rather than luxuries.

And there you have some of the most transformative books in my library. There are MANY more but these are a good start. Read them and share your thoughts with me!

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Books that Shaped Me (Part 2)

I did a vast amount of reading in my college years between class work, assignments, and personal reading. I found I gravitated towards fiction as a way to relax and recharge. My social life was limited in those busy years of schooling and work so the characters added unique dimension to my life. Here are 5 favorites from those years:

This husband and wife author team write fabulous historical fiction. All of their World War and Jerusalem series expand and deepen the reader’s love for and knowledge of pivotal eras in history.
Francine Rivers knows how to make history leap from the page and connect with the soul. This series occurs in the era of the early Church during a time of immense persecution. It forces the reader to question the relevancy of one’s faith in Jesus: is it worth dying for? Is life worth living without faith?
This is the first in an incredible trilogy written about the Christian history of our nation. They did extensive research to uncover little known facts about how the Christian religion is woven deep within the fabric of our country. They awoke a deep pride and patriotism within my heart.
I read this book for a class assignment and wrote a detailed review of it. I know little of this faith leader prior to reading his book and was moved by his conviction and transformation. To wrestle with God and leave behind timeless insights of faith is a humbling legacy.
College has a way of causing one to question everything one thought one knew. This was a timely reading for that season of my life. It helped me remember the beauty of my design as God’s final masterpiece and to understand that much of who I am as a woman is wired deep within my soul.

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I Know A Little Fellow

I know a little fellow who has the best belly chuckles and most subtle of grins. He adores long hugs and rushes into them head first when he is upset.

I know a little fellow who runs with shoulders back and tummy leading the way. He falls down but doesn’t stop. He calmly climbs 8-foot ladders as if they were merely the kitchen step stool (making Mama’s heart stop) and he whips the kitchen stool around the house as if it were his fifth limb.

I know a little fellow who can speak a paragraph of thoughts with just a handful of words. He seeks to make Mama proud by identifying a large object as “haavy” and then grunting and groaning as he carries it as far as he can. He adores Cookie Monster and enjoys making his family laugh by growling out “Cookie! Nom nom nom!” It’s even funnier when he has a cookie to eat!

I know a little fellow who adores being a big brother and will go to great lengths to entertain Baby Simeon. When he gets Simeon to laugh they share belly laughs together. He also doesn’t want Shaka to go hungry and consistently sneaks food to his golden retriever pal at every meal. Of all of our children he loves animals the most and scours every book we own for every horse picture, then promptly comes and shows it to me.

I know a little fellow who turns two today. His was my first home birth and I remember how anxious and excited I felt. I was 41 weeks and 5 days and was despairing that he would surely graduate high school in utero. Well, he was born before then but his IQ and growth rate seem to indicate that he might graduate college in high school instead.

Happiest of second birthdays to you, Shilo Boy! You are vital to making our family who it is and we praise Jesus for giving you to us. May you always choose meekness over force, joy over anger, and gratitude over selfishness.

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Books That Shaped Me (Part 1)

Books and writing are partners in value to me. When asked how I prefer to spend moments all to myself I can rarely choose between reading a book or writing in some form or fashion. And when it comes to reading I am ever torn between selecting a favorite title to read once more or making an introduction with a new friend. To recognize those wonderful reads that have been tools in the hand of my Maker for forming my worldview, character and personality, I am going to do a blog series highlighting those books that have left their mark on me. I will begin with those from my childhood and early adolescence. Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list.

When I think of compassion, this book comes to mind and tears come to my eyes. A lonely stray dog befriends a crippled chicken and the two help each other as they adapt to the challenges of life. But the story is more than that. Read it to discover it’s depth.
How could this not be on my list! I recently read the entire series again and loved it even more. Anne is my friend! I often think of how she would embrace the challenges of life, including the sandpaper people, and be better for doing so. I want to be a mom like her too! I want my children to count her amongst their closest circle of friends!
Mildred Keith and Elsie Dinsmore were both book series that I enjoyed reading with my mom while we ironed. I preferred Mildred because she was less saintly than Elsie, but both girls encouraged a love for family and service to others. It was also a fresh exposure to a different era in our culture.
I don’t think childhood is quite complete until one has read this series. We are reading them now with our children and I find myself being impacted by the parents, while as a childhood I was fascinated with the sisters’ experiences. They faced hardship with joy and were content in the simple life. Life was good even if they lived on dirt floors and ate the same things for every meal. Children need family and stability to feel secure and happy.
This is definitely a book for the adolescent more than the child. I have read it numerous times since the first time I picked it up and have even taught it in discipleship groups for youth girls. The protagonist is an honest young woman who seeks to live a godly life while very much battling her tendency towards selfishness. It’s a beautiful look at a young heart in the throes of sanctification. The diction is from a century ago so it’s interesting in that regard as well.

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Thoughts After my Birthday

How is it possible for a single day to carry such definition? Perhaps for some of my readership your birthdays are just another day; for me they are a time of reflection and evaluation. Though there are few specific birthdays that I remember with clarity, each one has carried significance for me within its year.

This year’s birthday is not unique in that regard. A handful of years from now I will probably not remember what I ate on my 35th birthday nor what gifts I received, yet it was special just the same. Landing on a Monday, it still carried a touch of the Monday blues; laundry was done and the kitchen cleaned. Babies needed changing and hungry tummys demanded feeding; sibling squabbles were mediated and toddler mishaps tended to. A younger me would have fallen into that gaping hole of self-pity, frustrated that I wasn’t able to have breakfast in bed or a day free of chores. However, my birthday self recognized that this time with my children was a gift in itself and the selfless efforts of my husband to celebrate me were indeed the sacrifices of a tired, but loving heart. I cherish them and all of the kind words sent my way yesterday.

I was gifted some time to sit and reflectively journal and I think that the greatest area of growth in my personal development is in the understanding that life is a series of experiences. Even the most painful hardships are great opportunities to experience deeper levels of life. One never knows how today’s joys or mishaps will impact our steps and word tomorrow. In addition, I have also been making more efforts to live according to my priorities, whether that is in turning worries into prayers or being selective in the expenditure of my time.

And to conclude on a light-hearted note, I think I would describe my newly 35-year old self as someone who prefers tea over coffee, wants more time in books but hasn’t figured out how to avoid the need for screen time, craves sunny breezes, loves a successful day of garage sales or thrifting, and delights in a well- planned schedule.

What thoughts do you have on your birthday?

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The Yoke

This yoke of life is heavy,

The burden presses down.

In every step I’m weary,

Tears my only sound.

Marriages in crisis,

Babies ill too young.

Familiar disappearing,

Farewells remain too long.

The needs outweigh my energy,

Time slips through my hands.

I long to pour out joyfully,

But sorrow is in command.

Dear Jesus take this heavy yoke,

It weighs too much for me.

Please transform all that’s broke,

Into gentleness and humility.

Help me walk in step with you,

Not far ahead or way behind, only side-by-side.

Sustain me daily with all that’s true

And in your strength may I rely.

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Mother & Son: The Respect Effect

In this masterpiece of nonfiction, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs introduces a transformative perspective on the mother-son relationship. He sheds light on the challenge mothers have to show their sons (of any age) respect when we are hardwired to love. Mothers assume that all their sons need is love, while the man within their son craves respect. By simply adjusting our verbiage when addressing our sons we can revolutionize our relationships with these special young men in our lives. In addition, reading this book can strengthen our understanding of ourselves and our interactions with our husbands. Dr. Eggerichs is gentle when shining light on maternal weaknesses, honest in explaining what the male psyche needs, and uplifting with the changes that are easily within reach.

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