A Surrendered Mom

I follow a lot of exercise accounts. I love to exercise. I love moving. Exercise isn’t about making myself a “happy mom” or a “fit mom”, it’s a way of surrendering myself because I know that I am human.

While I do thoroughly enjoy exercise, that’s not why I prioritize it. I prioritize it because I know my body has limitations. I know exercising has health benefits that I want as I grow older.

Many of us want to say we make time for things (like exercise) so our kids will see a “happy mom”. I would argue what our kids need to see most is a surrendered mom.

The thing is, happiness comes and goes. Do we give our kids less of a mom in the moments we don’t feel happy? Do the children of the single moms or moms with no family around deserve a “less than” mom because she hasn’t found her time to make herself happy?

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to take care of yourself, even as a mom, maybe especially. But we can’t look for those weekends or hours to fill us enough to be a good mom.

A surrendered mom knows life will change daily, some times hourly. A surrendered mom can still find joy in a day, even though she ends that day in tears. A surrendered mom can give her kid 10 more minutes (even when it’s the last thing she wants to do) because she knows her kids won’t keep. These are characteristics kids need to see. They need to see a mom who can be long suffering, selfless, and dependable in middle of the hard days. They’ll have hard days, probably seasons, too.

If we are to “fill our cup” in order to “mom well” we must draw from a source that never runs dry.

We can mourn and be comforted like the Psalmist in Psalm 42 who said “Why are you cast down, oh my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation”.

The Big Picture

I love fall. I love October, but I was awake until 2 a.m. this past week praying and crying. This was also the month that #3’s sister was born. The month we drove up to Wisconsin 2 times within a few days. The month we met that brown eyed beauty then said good bye. I realized this past week that I’ve held a lot of bitterness about this situation.

$55,000. That’s how much we spent within two years for 2 adoptions. (Don’t come telling me how crazy we are. I see y’all with your Razors and boats and that’s not our thing). It wouldn’t have been possible without allllll the people that donated and bought from our fundraisers.

During the month of October this all comes to surface and is often in the forefront of my mind. This past week, however; I had some clarity given to me.

  • We adopted #3 not wanting a 4th child after her.
    -We received a call when she was 6 months old that she had a full biological sibling on the way. We knew how rare it was for adopted children to have an opportunity to end up with full biological siblings. (We were secretly hoping it would be a boy).
    -Went up to bring baby girl home with us.
    -Left Wisconsin empty handed and heavy hearted.
    -Realized we did want to add a fourth to our family after going through that. (Once the heartbreak lessened).
    -Started foster care (I think $55,000 is our limit on adoption expenses).
    -Got to love on (and still do) the sweetest, little love who needed extra attention at the beginning of his life that we were able to give him
    -Added the 4th child.

All of these steps (and years) happened because there would be a boy (yay!) born on August 2nd, 2019 who would join our family forever. If we never pursued #3’s sister we wouldn’t have wanted a 4th.

Don’t forget that just because you can’t always see God’s plan doesn’t mean there isn’t one. He sees the entire picture whereas we see only what’s in front of us.

Thorn Bearers

I think I’m a person who is pretty real with herself. In high school, a girl who didn’t like me tried telling everyone I had kankles.

A friend came up and told me, utterly appalled at the sentiment. I looked at her and said “but I do”. (Thanks family genes).

But y’all, I’m not here for this adult acne. I can’t even tell you the amount of products I’ve tried or the amount of complaints my significant other has had to listen to. (Sorry hubs)

This morning while helping the kids get ready for school, one child said “I’m not pretty”. I responded “what’s not pretty?” The child responded “my face.” (Now I know we all have our moments of insecurities so I know this isn’t abnormal).

While I was talking to my kid, I found me preaching to myself.
“Beauty is so much more than what’s on the outside.”
“You’re beautiful because God saw you just as you are and decided it was perfect.”
“YES, you ARE beautiful!” (I know you parents hear me).

While I was reading 2 Corinthians this morning, Paul was talking about his thorn in the flesh. How he was grateful for it because it caused him to depend on God more. The conversation with my little one this morning came back to me. My conversations with Tyler came back to me. We are all “thorn bearers” in one way or another.

We aren’t perfect and never will be. Some days we don’t feel beautiful. But we can still give thanks for these insecurities if they cause us to look towards God.

If everything were perfect at all times in our lives, we wouldn’t be looking towards Heaven. We wouldn’t be looking for anything outside this world. And it’s the outside source (God) that can sustain us through the hardships and insecurities. Some day, we may even count them as blessings.

Last week, I stumbled upon a printout from a church Ladies Ministry meeting. It was dated in the year 2016. I had only been doing the Ladies Ministry at church for a short period of time then.

I grew to be discouraged because we are now in the year 2021 and I don’t feel like I am any more adept at teaching the Bible that I was in 2016. Agreeing to do the Ladies Ministry in my church wasn’t an easy decision for me. I love to learn. I love to read. I love to grow in knowledge of God. I also feel a great pressure at relaying the word of God inaccurately. I used to have to sit down after the monthly meetings to catch my breath because my heart would be beating so intensely in my chest.

I did agree to do it (after much prayer), not because I felt overly qualified and not because I was suddenly comfortable with the idea. I agreed because I want to use my life to be spent for God. I think we make a mistake to think we are only called to situations by God if we experience “peace” or are comfortable in our calling.

I read back on some of the notes and lessons of the past and think “Man, that person sounds like she knows what she’s talking about”. Which is a huge conflict in my mind because I remember how inadequate I felt at that time. I also know how inadequate I felt last month as we began monthly lessons after a year off due to Covid.

I thought by 2021, I would feel less encumbered with the idea of leading a small group of women with God’s Word. I think discouragement was the wrong response because James 3:1 says “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness”.

Now I don’t think this is a statement aimed at discouraging the idea of wanting to spread the word of God. I do, however; believe this is a command to be careful what proceeds out of your mouth (or fingers) when you are in a position to give Godly wisdom to others. Advice without Godly wisdom can actually do more harm than good.

Upon further reflection, I think I am exactly where I’m supposed to be 5 years in. If I grow too confident in my own abilities, it will become easier for me to attempt to do life and teaching without God. I think my feels of inadequacy are my pathway to dependence on God. That’s exactly where he wants me.

James 4:6 reminds me that God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. May I always remember I need His grace and my weakness is actually my blessing.

Taking the Form of a Servant

My 10 year old has recently asked me to read along with him through the Harry Potter books. He asked because he knows I read regularly and I haven’t ever read this series. To be honest, Harry Potter has never interested me (😮 I know). I am excited however to read them now, because I love Tripp (and at this age I’m holding on to any moment he wants to spend time with me).

I always think that Christians are called to favor everyone except themselves. Philippians 2:3 actually tells us to “count others more significant than yourselves”. We’re told to look to the interests of others. It’s easy for me to want to do this with Tripp because I love him. But I am pretty sure that is not limited to only those I love.

I know in the past, there have been people that have felt wronged by Christians. I know people have met Christians they think are hypocritical, judgmental, etc. They wouldn’t have felt that way if they had been treated the way referred to in Philippians 2.

On the reverse of that, I see a thing coming to light that says “since we were wronged, we’ll do whatever we want and rewrite the rules of Christianity”. If you love God, you should want to spend time with Him (just like your kids). When you spend time with Him by reading His word, you learn how God wants us to live.

Even in this, we don’t focus on ourselves but on God. Why? We imitate the only, true example of self-sacrifice. The only who “didn’t count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant”.

That’s Life and I Can’t Deny It

When we first moved to our house, the hubs wanted to cut down all the trees and bushes surrounding our creek and pond. I convinced him otherwise, because how would my bird friends come to visit me if they had no where to stay? (Yes, I’m 80).

This morning I was feeling overwhelmed so I went out to feel the sun peeking behind the clouds and watch the different birds flying between all the branches. Then I was struck by the dirt mound to my left.

Last week we had to bury our cat, Ashley. She was hit by a car in front of our house. (I’m going to have a rant about driving the speed limit and actually stopping when you hit an animal another time). We buried her before the kids got home from school, but our girls were hysterical nonetheless.

There are a few moments of the kids crying that are burned into my mind: them crying and saying goodbye to K’s little sister (when we attempted to adopt her), my oldest son crying on the first day of school (because it takes a lot to get him emotional), and how sad my girls were when we told them about Ashley.

I want to protect them from every pain possible. But I know that it is impossible. I also believe there is pain with purpose. I told the girls to mourn Ashley. I told T and C the same when we said goodbye to K’s sister. It is good that they learn to love things and people without conditions.

I think it’s realizing this chasm in life that you start to understand it, even just a little bit. There are and will be beautiful moments throughout your life, but there will also be pain. Let them change you and cause you to grow.

Occasionally sit in the remembrance of it. Knowing it’s all a part of your story, and it can all work for good.

Not Everyone Is Going To Like You

I think one of the most dangerous mindsets is the one that thinks everyone has to approve or agree of all your life choices. Your value shouldn’t come from what I think of you. My value or justification of my choices shouldn’t come from you. I’ve always said at the end of the day if you have peace with your truth (however you judge that) and yourself, that’s all that matters.

Personal story: When we started the adoption process for our first adoption, we specified race on our paperwork. Not because of us, but because I was worried about the adopted child being loved differently from others around us. I literally lost sleep over it because I didn’t have peace about it. I would stay up late and search through the Bible (my gauge of truth). I couldn’t find any truth to justify it, even if others didn’t agree. So we changed it.

Many people didn’t understand our wanting to adopt in the first place. Some family members were downright upset that we started the foster process after. (Not all, many were supportive). But I had one person literally say, “are you kidding me?” to my face. We’re they uncomfortable conversations? Yep. Was I upset? Yep.

But at the end of the day I knew I wouldn’t have peace if I didn’t live the Truth. Not everyone is going to like everything you do. Not everyone likes everything I do. It’s just not feasible in life. But I also don’t have to agree with your every choice to like you. If you feel the need to tear down those who oppose you, you are no better than them.

If you know what you’re doing is right, you don’t need justification from others. If you feel you need others to tell you that you’re right in order to believe it, maybe you need to examine why.

I’m a Christian and I am Happy in 2021

There is a place for Christian mourning with the state of affairs in the US today. It is sad to see the hypocrisy, hatred, and lack of looking to something outside ourselves. We, rightly, should mourn the moments of heartbreak we may feel day to day.

What a Christian should not do, is worry about the situation. When we question the times we are living in, we question the sovereignty of God. We know that only He knows what tomorrow holds. That was true 100 years ago, and that is true now. The hymn comes to mind “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand”. Only God controls tomorrow, even in 2021. He is not shrieking in surprise every time something happens. None of it surprises him.

We should not be full of worry or pessimism because we know this isn’t where our story ends! This world was never what we were living for any way. Absolutely every thing in this world will cease to exist some day. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. –Romans 8:13

God’s Word is relevant today. There is no situation in life, even today, that His Word is not applicable to. We must also be careful to not romanticize the past. From the beginning, there has been sin. I always joke that I think the world is horrible, then I read the Old Testament. We need to not shrink back in fear, but stand firm because we are the ones that have an unchanging, joyful future promised to us.

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”. Romans 8: 37

I Can’t Protect Them From It All

I am 10 years or so in to parenting. I have spent most of my years trying to protect them from anything that will hinder their true personality or cause unnecessary pain. I have recently realized that their are going to be outside circumstances that will inevitably effect their growing into their own person, regardless of how much I want to stop it.

My 8 year old daughter has began changing a lot of things we thought were “part of who she is” of late. She has always loved sparkles, pink, frills, and anything girly. In the past few months, this has become a complete about face. She wants a completely new wardrobe of nothing girly. She wants to cut her hair shorter; whereas before she’s always loved her long, blonde locks.

I know she is also my child who wants to fit in with those around her. I am 98% certain that the change in appearance is linked to the fact that she doesn’t see many other friends into the girly things she was into. I can’t even tell you the number of times I have asked her why the change, her responses always being “I just don’t like it anymore”.

On the other side of that, I know my kids don’t care about a lot of things their friends do, and for that I feel to blame. Because of the makeup of our family, we have experienced more loss and heartbreak than most. Etched into my memory is my 4 and 6 year olds crying as we said goodbye to our almost adopted baby girl. I can see a clear image in my mind of us walking out of the State Foster Care Visitation building as we said goodbye to the little man we loved on for several months.

Now, don’t get me wrong-the brokenness that comes with fostering and adoption is minuscule compared to the beauty that has come from it in our family. We have 2 beautiful babies who are thriving in our home. We are able to, daily show our kids that looks and appearance alone do not make a family. We are able to show how easy it can be to be grafted in, what it means to “be adopted as sons”.

I want to protect them from everything, but I also know this life was given its thorns and thistles for a reason. Every area of this life is marked with sin and unrest. So in the meantime, I will be here for my kids, knowing none of our lives (including theirs) will be perfect or without suffering. Together we will look forward to a time where all things will be made new. One day we won’t be crying over good byes. There will be a time we don’t live to please anyone but the only One who matters. This is our hope.

Break Pride to Pieces

This past weekend, I had a moment of dread when I thought I had been doing something wrong to my daughter’s hair the past 5 years. For those that don’t know, child #3 is adopted and is a different race than me. I’ve spent hours and hours reading, watching, practicing, and talking with others in order to better learn how to do her hair.

I initially learned how to do it because I do not ever want my daughter to feel like she HAS to go outside the home to have her needs taken care of. Yes, it will look better when it’s done at a salon as she gets older. Mine looks better when I go to a salon as well. So, it’s never bothered me that some day we may end up at the salon.

The other night revealed a less desirable trait in me as well. The first thing I felt when I thought I was wrong, was embarrassment. Embarrassment because I was worried what people would think if they found out I had been doing her hair wrong? Would it confirm the idea that multi-racial families are just too complicated? Would people think I’m not the best fit mom for my girl?

After this brief moment of doubt, I was reminded that I felt embarrassed because I had put too much pride in myself and my own abilities. Pride has no place in the heart of a believer, when placed in anything other than God. Can I have pride during my lifetime? Absolutely-but I put my pride in the right context when I realize any and every ability I have is given to me by God.

I’ve been reading a Puritan prayer a week from the book The Valley of the Vision by Arthur Bennett. My prayer this week is called “The Great God”. There is a section that goes like this: “Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness, Implant in me true lowliness of spirit,… break me, then bind me up;…Thus will my heart be a prepared dwelling for my God;”. To annihilate means to utterly destroy. To implant means to establish. We should ask God for the grace to utterly destroy every shred of our own self-righteousness. (Because we cannot do it on our own). We should then constantly ask for lowliness of spirit to be established in us. (Because it’s not easy to not feel full of ourselves).

I get that the Christian life is often a topsy-turvy, upside down kind of life. What we are told to do often doesn’t make sense to the masses. But remember there is freedom in learning to die to self and live for God-in all aspects of life.

What reinforces this belief? The fact that when I realized doing my daughter’s hair correctly or incorrectly is not about me. It’s about her, because I want it to be done correctly. It’s mostly about God though, because in all areas of my life I want to glorify Him. There are times that only way we can glorify Him is correcting our mistakes and trying to do different. We try to do different by reminding our selves of the truths of the only person who truly can bind and heal our hearts.

I mean that as this story relates to where my mind goes when I do make a mistake, and how I handle the mistake. Long story short-I reached out to a friend who told me I was doing it correctly. I didn’t have anything I did need to correct. If I did, guess what? I would have corrected it next time and life would still continue.

If I wouldn’t have been focused on self, I wouldn’t have questioned whether or not I was the right mom for my girl, because I know God has given me this child on purpose. I don’t have to care about what others think of my mothering, because only one opinion truly matters. I wouldn’t focus on the difficulties of multi-racial families because I would recall the truth that no life is without difficulties.

Moments like this are bound to reappear all throughout life. Thankfully God’s truths are still here and they apply to all facets of life, even hair.