7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 7 – Legacy of Love

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 7 – Legacy of Love

Day 7 – Legacy of Love

If we’re going to pass anything along to our children, let’s give them a legacy of love. All of our previous prayers help build exactly that. Our actions and words are incredibly powerful. But our prayers will transform their lives.

Let’s create a home of love—love for Jesus, for each other and for others. I want my kids to always feel comfortable walking through these doors and sprawling on the sofa, even when they’re grown. While they’re little, I want our home to be a place of loving security and fun. As they get older, I want them to know that they will always belong here, and and that their hearts will always be safe here. I want them to feel validated, heard and understood. I desperately desire to keep open communication with them through thick and thin. I want them to know, that I am always, always on their team.

You are doing an incredible job! You are making a difference, even when you feel like what you’re doing is unimportant or overlooked. I see you, momma. We’re in this thing together. And remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so fill your own heart too.

Jesus, 

Help us to be mommas of love. Pierce the deepest parts of our hearts so that every area is transformed by the power of Your love. Show us how to be more like You, because You are the only perfect love. May we pass a legacy of love to our children, and may they always know my love for them…and above all, YOUR love for them! Thank you for the sweet little hearts in my care. In Your name, Amen!

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 78:4

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. Deuteronomy 6:5-7

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 4 – Unwavering Faith

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 4 – Unwavering Faith

 

Day 4 – Unwavering Faith

We will do anything for our children, won’t we? Even the quietest momma has the potential to become an angry momma bear when the situation arises. When they’re babies, we childproof our homes to keep them physically safe. As they get a little older, we can try to bubblewrap them (Not literally, of course. That would be weird. Hilarious, but weird), but we know we can’t keep them from scraping their knees, or running into walls, or breaking bones. Our desire to keep them safe goes deeper than worrying about scraped and bruised knees. One day, our little ones will walk out into the world. They will go off to school, college, get their own apartment, move across the country…or even across the world. We won’t always know exactly where they’re at or be able to guard over them. If you’re like me, even the idea of them experiencing heartbreak, or trials, or pain, or devastation, rips my heart out. But the beauty of Jesus is that He will always see them, know exactly where they’re at, be in every detail of every situation in their lives…and He cares for and loves them so much that He died for them. We may wish we could absorb pain for our kids, but Jesus actually did. That doesn’t mean they’ll experience a pain-free life, but it does mean that they will have the greatest Comforter and Protector by their sides.

When trials come, when heartbreak happens, when sadness and grief enters into my children’s lives (and all of that will happen), I want them to be able to navigate through it with Jesus. I desperately desire for their faith be anchored so deeply inside of their hearts, that leaning into Jesus comes as naturally as breathing. We can’t create faith for them. We can’t make them trust Jesus. But we can do 3 things. And these things will change everything:

  • Model unwavering (not perfect) faith in our own lives
  • Teach them Scripture
  • Pray, pray, pray

Merciful God,

I know You love my kids more than my own human heart can. Jesus, pursue them. Grab a hold of their hearts and strengthen their faith. May my own faith and relationship with You be authentic and real, and pour over into the lives of my children. Holy Spirit, show me specific ways to nurture their faith and continually point their hearts to You. I ask that You cover them, go before them, and show them Your love in tangible ways. Even while they are very young, speak to them. Build their faith, Lord, so that they never let go of You. Instead of using all my energy worrying, remind me that You have secured them. Instead of viewing my kids as something to keep safe, help me to see them as arrows to be released into the world. Give me wisdom on how to parent them in this way. In Your name, Amen.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 2 – A Love for Jesus

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 2 – A Love for Jesus

Our world holds a fluid definition of love. It’s constantly shifting, changed by circumstances, and dependent on a feeling. In a world that displays a thousands examples of what love isn’t, we fiercely desire for our children to know the One who is Love. We want them to love Jesus with every fiber of their being—to hold tightly to eternal things, loosely handle temporary things, and to have the discernment to know the difference. We want their love for Jesus to be their anchor so that when the waves come, they remain steady. Even greater than our own desire for our children to know Jesus, is Jesus’ desire for our kids to know Him! His eternal love for them far exceeds our love for them! Pretty incredible, isn’t it? I can’t imagine a love for my babies that is fiercer than my own. And yet, the love of God is deeper, stronger, fuller. It stretches before creation and will extend unchanged through eternity. He is madly in love with them. He died for them. He will pursue them.

Jesus,

Help me instill a love for You inside my children’s hearts. Help me to model a passion for You. And when I mess up, help me to be an example of the power of your forgiveness and grace. May my good days and my bad days reflect Your love for them. Show me ways to nurture and encourage their relationships with You, without trying to control or perfect it. May my words and actions help build a foundation that only You can build upon. Thank you for loving my children even more than I do. In Your name, Amen.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 1 – Sibling Bonds

7 Prayers of a Joyfully Exhausted Momma: Day 1 – Sibling Bonds

Day 1 – Sibling Bonds

The bond between siblings is a powerful one. Oh sure, there are wrestling matches on the sofa, and arguments over whose turn it is to use the coveted blue sippy cup…and attempts to duct tape your sister to the wall to see if it actually works (or so I’ve heard.)  But beneath the healthy quarrels and natural arguments, there’s an intertwining of heartstrings—a deepness that only siblings share. Some days that intertwining may seem tight. Some days it may seem loose. Other days it may seem completely undone. But despite whether or not our kids “get along” everyday, we want that bond and connection to put down deep roots. We want our kids to grow into adults that love, respect, encourage and protect one another. We want kids that are always on the same team—Team Family.

Dear Jesus,

You are a God who ties hearts together and strengthens relationships. I pray that my children’s love for one another would continue to mature as the years go on; that they would be able to rely on, confide in and encourage one another like only a sibling can. No matter how different their personalities are, Jesus, I pray that their love and bond always draws them closer to You and to each other. Give me wisdom as a momma on how to nurture these bonds and create a tight-knit home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3

When New Becomes the Normal

When New Becomes the Normal

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This particular feeling of transition is familiar to me. The waiting game. The anticipation. The dreaming and preparing and eagerness and anxiety. The constantly being on edge, while trying to distract myself and not think about how I’m constantly on edge. It’s e x h a u s t i n g .

Oh yes, I know this feeling well. It’s a mixture of heartache as well as over-the-moon excitement. A haze of surrealness that we are in the last days of being a household of 4—transitioning to a household of 5.

I felt this right before each of my daughters were born too—this strange place of savoring every moment of how life currently is while impatiently awaiting what will become our family’s new normal.

I can’t remember life before my youngest daughter. It is like she has always been here. And I surely can’t remember life before my oldest daughter. I am convinced life started the day she born and it is the life that I have always wanted to live.

However, these were not my sentiments right before they were each born. During the days leading up to their births it was more of an, “OH. MAN. How the heck am I going to do this? I barely have my act together right now. Like, barely. And I’m supposed to add another human life into the mix!? This is not going to be pretty.”

But sure enough, after a little bit of time (and tears and small victories and slowly conquering the learning curve) I moved from the scary newness to a more confident rhythm of life. Trust me, we still had those days. We still have those days. I don’t think the frequency decreased. I think maybe I just figured out how to handle them better. I’m not sure. Either way, I’ll take it.

And soon…it was normal. Life with a baby was normal. Then life with 2 kids was normal. And now, with faith that that truth will continue, I know life with 3 kids will become my new normal. And eventually, the details of life before our son will become foggy. Because he will be the perfect puzzle piece that our family was missing.

As I was drying my girls’ hair this morning, (there really is nothing like the smell of fresh babies right out of the bath) one was swaying back and forth singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the top of her lungs—the other one was playing a music game on my phone. And as I ran my fingers through their hair, I held my breath a little. My lungs captured that air so very tightly. And I didn’t want to exhale. Because I loved that moment. And I love our family dynamic right now. I love my full days with my 2 little best friends. And even though those full days can be hard and wearing full days, I love them just the same.

But eventually I had to let out that precious breath and when it did my heart exploded with these words…

You are losing nothing and gaining so much. The joy of life is going about to be multiplied. Life will look different, but it will be better.

I am settled into that place—that place of absorbing the right-now as well as the soon-will-be. And I am thankful for both, because both make me a mom.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

A Love Note to the New Momma Who Just Gave Birth

A Love Note to the New Momma Who Just Gave Birth

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Dear New Momma,

You did it, momma. You created a little piece of perfection—carrying and growing and nurturing that life for 9 months.

You persevered through morning sickness, swollen body parts that you didn’t even know could swell and Hulk-like mood swings—becoming a sacred vessel of holy life.

Then the day your heart pitter-pattered in anticipation for finally arrived…birth day.

All of heaven paused. And in one glorious moment, the child that listened to your heartbeat from the inside, now laid on your chest to feel it’s beat from the outside. And your soul was completely captured by the most beautiful being you’ve ever seen. You memorized every inch of that baby—counting fingers and toes—eager to claim responsibility for various facial features. You thought you would physically melt into a puddle on the floor from all the emotions that took over your body…and it was then that you realized what unconditional love truly was.

Maybe you were able to come home right away. Or maybe you weren’t able to come home immediately. Maybe your hospital stay was longer than what your heart felt like it could endure—just wanting everything to be ok and normal. Having to wait stabbed at your heart. The sting wasn’t for yourself, but for this new little piece of yourself breathing in your arms. And your first supernatural act of momma strength—a new selflessness and fierceness—carried you both through. And you did it. You made it. And now you’re home…

Welcome to your new normal.

At first, you will worry about whether your baby is peeing and pooping regularly, eating well, swaddled correctly, a comfortable temperature…and you know…breathing. Even the smallest of details will worry you. You are, after all, responsible for keeping an entire other person alive now. That’s not exactly a job for the faint of heart.

Don’t feel silly about worrying. Or stressing out. Or melting down in moments of I-Have-No-Idea-What-I’m-Doing. Don’t panic when all the tips and advice you’ve been given don’t help you like you thought they would. Remember, all the information and guidelines you read in those articles and books are just that…guidelines. And maybe the perfect way that your mom or your Aunt Sue or your best friend did something, isn’t going to be perfect for you. And that is more than ok.

Every human being is different. Every baby is different. All of your previous ideas and convictions and set-in-stone plans will most likely be reevaluated, readjusted or completely thrown out the window at some point. Pacifier or no pacifier? Cloth diapers or disposable diapers? Breastfeeding or formula? Ibuprofen or no ibuprofen? Yes, be knowledgable, but listen to your momma intuition. Figure out what works for you both and then go with it.

The best advice I ever got as a new, overwhelmed, sleep-deprived momma was, “Your daughter isn’t going to go off to college with a pacifier. She will be potty trained, she will be eating on her own and she will be sleeping through the night. So just do whatever works for you both right now.” The realization that choosing cloth diapers or disposable diapers wasn’t an life-altering decision, really freed me. And from that day forward, I’ve really tried to carry that “do what works for you both” mindset.

Some days you’ll flow in the new rhythm of your new life and you’ll look around and think, “Oh my goodness, I’m doing this thing.” And then other days, that rhythm will feel more like abrupt, robotic movements as you just try to survive. Both are normal.

You’ll have a tiring day and a sleepless night that blends into another tiring day and night—becoming one, unending rotation around the sun. Because momma’s don’t get to clock out at 5pm and babies don’t always sleep at night. You will stare straight at that baby monitor at 3am and pray in the name of Jesus’ that that child will just go.to.sleep.

It will get better.

Nap when you can. Cry when you need to. Eat cookies when you want. Even when you can barely keep your eyes open, go sit outside in the sunshine or stroll the neighborhood. It does help. Give the baby to daddy and go sit in the closet with some chocolate and your Bible and just…be. Ask for help when you need it. You’ll still be exhausted, that’s just motherhood. But you won’t feel so alone and maybe, just maybe, you can sneak in a nap or a shower.

There will be times you and your husband will feel like you’re not only on different pages but in totally different books…and in different libraries. And there will be moments you will want to kick him, ironically enough, in his baby maker. Don’t do it. (For one, there may come a day in the far, far future that you want more babies. So it’s a good idea to keep everything in proper working order.) Keep talking to each other and remember he’s new at this whole parenthood thing too. Ask for grace. Give grace. Keep stealing moments alone with him even if it’s for 5 minutes.

Know that you can’t do it all on your own. You weren’t meant to. That doesn’t point to any kind of inadequacy. No, not at all. You are a wellspring of beauty and life that pours out in many directions. Wife. Mother. Friend. Woman. So take care of yourself. If you want to be a good momma to your baby, then be good to his/her momma. Love her well. Give her grace and find some time just for her.

You are on one of the most incredible rides of your life. There’s hard stuff, sure. But what life changing adventure is easy? You will learn things about yourself that you wouldn’t otherwise know. That is a gift even on the days it doesn’t feel like one. Motherhood refines you, sharpens you, grows you. You will be an all around better person because of your baby. His/her heart will forever grip yours. And vice versa. Your love for them will be fiercer than anything you’ve ever known.

In your desire to keep them safe from harm and heartache, learn to trust Jesus more. Let Him show you His heart and character in deep, profound ways. As you worry, know that He loves them even more than you do. (Can you even imagine that?) And He knew the exact mom that your baby needed…and it is you. You are equipped with everything you need to love that child well and point him/her to Him.

You did it, momma. And you’re doing it.

And remember you’re not alone—we’re in this momma journey together.

Love, The momma standing next to you

To the Momma I Overheard Talking to Her Son

To the Momma I Overheard Talking to Her Son

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I saw you holding your little boy’s hand as you briskly walked into the store. How old is he? Maybe 4? You both looked like winter pros as you braved the cold weather and harsh wind bundled in thick jackets, scarves, gloves and boots.

My girls left the house with coats and boots and gloves too.

But my 1 year old refused to keep her boots on. And only 70% of their other winter apparel could be accounted for before we even got out of the car.

So my littlest one was just wrapped in a fluffy blanket like a pink burrito.

Motherhood is all about improvising and going with the flow, don’t you think? I do. So I counted the burrito wrapped baby as a total win. But just so you know, my mom-experience appreciated how put together you both were. Not one element of your assemble resembled a food item. Impressive.

You stopped at the end of our aisle and said something to your son. I was slowly browsing towards your direction in search of a cutting board and knives. (I love to cook and make amazing dinners every night. Just kidding, I hate cooking and they were for my chef of a husband.)

I noticed you take both of your son’s hands abruptly and bend down right in front of him, getting right on his level. You leaned in and literally couldn’t get any closer to his face. His eyes immediately honed into you and his attention was all yours. I couldn’t hear what you were saying, but I assumed by his short little nods and your very intentional tone that he was being reprimanded. So I looked away and tried to give you both privacy and space. Well, as much privacy and space as possible in a crowded store during the height of the Christmas season.

I scanned the shelf trying to decide which cutting board was the prettiest—because I’m sure esthetics is the most important feature of a cutting board and I wasn’t going to let my husband down. (You’re welcome, babe.) As I spotted the one, I took a couple steps forward and bent down to grab it. As I reached out, I could hear you. Very clearly. And what you were saying brought me to tears.

You were right in his face. You even gave your son’s hands a few shakes. “I am so incredibly proud of you. Do you know that? You are amazing and that was just awesome. Man, I’m proud of you!”

He was staring at you, shaking his head. Absorbing it all.

I was absorbing it all.

Right there in the middle of the retail chaos and the hustle and bustle, among all the speeding carts full of “stuff” that won’t last and “things” that just don’t matter—you were giving your son the most beautiful gifts. Things that will last. Things that do matter.

Affirmation. Appreciation. You were giving love.

And your son wasn’t the only one that walked away from that conversation with a fuller heart. I did too.

Oh, momma. In a world that can feel so cold, so harsh, your words warmed my very soul.

You truly are changing your part of the world.

Keep speaking words of life to him. Keep telling him how amazing he is. Keep telling him how proud you are of him. Keep taking the time to stop in the middle of life’s chaos to show him how appreciated and loved he is. You’re affecting him. And you’re affecting those of us lucky enough to be standing in your same aisle.

You’ve challenged me to stay focused and chase what matters. To stop in this moment and find what is right and beautiful and good—and openly acknowledge it. And I am forever grateful to you.

Merry Christmas, fellow momma. Stay warm. And stay you.

Adoption

Adoption

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“Every adoption starts with loss. There’s so much gain, so much good that happens through adoption…but every story always starts with loss.”

Her words pierced my heart and for the rest of the night, they echoed in my mind.

My dear friend works at an adoption agency. As someone who wants to adopt in the future, I try to absorb any information and insight she shares about the details and process of adopting.

Before I started learning more about the reality of adopting, I suppose the pretty, uncontaminated scenario I had laid out in my head went something like this:

My husband and I decide it’s time to expand our family through adoption. The birth-parents of the child are unable to take care of him/her, so there my husband and I are, waiting with arms wide open to welcome him/her into our family. The child feels loved, safe and taken care. The transition is beautiful and wonderful. And we all live happily ever after.

But I’ve learned that that is almost never the case.

Some of the children come from an environment that was destructive before they were even born. Some have never heard, “I love you.” Some have experienced neglect and pain that no child should even be aware of.

Far too many of these little ones are broken, hurt, scared. It is on the rarest of occasions that details and circumstances line up perfectly and an adoption is quickly tied up with a sweet, little bow. And oh, how wonderful those stories are. But really, even those stories begin with loss.

These precious children aren’t just looking for someone to tuck them into to bed every night or coach their little league team. They are desperate for someone to dive into the messiness & brokenness of their lives; to enter into their pain and carry the burden with them. Someone to walk alongside them in their journey of healing and restoration. They need someone to fiercely love them and not only allow them into their family, but be willing to have their own lives changed forever.

Before anything is ever gained, there is loss. Before any healing takes place, there is pain. Before restoration takes place, there is brokenness.

Doesn’t that paint such a vibrant picture of our own need for adoption by God?

Every single one of us is broken, desperate for a Savior who is willing to dive into our messiness and brokenness and love us fiercely. A Savior who willingly put on flesh and walked down dirt roads. A Savior who entered into our pain and died the most horrendous death for us, so that we may be healed, restored, adopted. How’s that for fierce love?

I think it would absurd for an prospective adoptive parent to require the child to resolve his/her own physical and emotional wounds before adoption can take place…or expect the children’s life to instantly be restored the moment the child walks into their new home. It’s a process. It takes time, patience, love.

The Lord wants us exactly where we’re at. No matter what our life looks like, he wants to adopt us the way we are.

“Every adoption starts with loss.”

Bring your loss to Jesus. It’s not too big. It’s not to vast. Bring your brokenness, pain and emptiness. Allow him to transform your loss into wholeness like only he can.

Because after all, “…there is so much gain, so much good that happens through adoption.”

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1-2