The Christmas song that used to annoy me {Mary did you know}

With two kids' birthdays just around the corner, I've been reflecting on their lives. Where they currently are, and the hopes I have for their futures. I think a lot of moms do this because I've noticed a trend on my social media pages. Many of us post a picture of our little one with a Happy Birthday message not only about how great our kid is, but also acknowledging  all the things that encompass motherhood. For example, some of us say, "to the one who made me a mom" or "my life is so much better with you in it" and " you've taught me so much".  Because welcoming a baby into your life changes your whole world, and I've been thinking about that this holiday season.

You know that Christmas song, "Mary did you know?" It used to really annoy me, it goes on a little too long and gets a little too whiny for me. Since becoming a mom, I can actually appreciate the words in the song.   If Mary were to know all the things Jesus was sent to fulfill, would she have agreed to be His mother? 

 

I wonder what she saw in him as they both lay there, recovering from birth. I wonder if she imagined all the things his life could hold as she counted his ten wrinkly toes.  I bet her dreams for that tiny bundle, who smelled so sweet, never matched up to how his life actually went. I wonder if at times when he was growing, she stood there completely perplexed by him. He would have been so different from every other child. Never giving her a reason to discipline him, never talking back or acting out. Would her proud post on Instagram have been a picture of Jesus teaching in the temple?   #hesonlytwelve #sayshesaboutHisFathersbusiness 

 

Somewhere in the back of her mind did a mother's intuition cause her to be just a little unsettled? At what point in life did she begin to realize that her son, the Messiah, was nothing like the images she had in her head. The ones of the promised King. After all, in Jewish mindset, this King was coming to vindicate. I imagine that to them, vindication did not look like a battered body, hanging on a cross.  

 

It almost seems like a cruel joke. Mary mothers a truly perfect child only to watch him grow up and be hated, mocked, judged, tormented, beaten and eventually brutalized until death. All right before her eyes. And for what? She must have wondered for what? Because Mary didn't know, she didn't know the ending. 

 

Do you ever feel like Mary? Confused by Jesus and His ways? Does it ever feel like life is going the exact opposite of how you imagined? Are you having to walk through situations or maybe watch as others, who are close to you, go through tough stuff. Are there things in your life that bring grief and pain?

 

I've got em, those issues, those questions that are sometimes asked in disbelief. Everybody does. But here's the difference between Mary and us.  We know the ending to the story. Yes, this life is hard, and often it's different than what we expected.  But this story, which is filled with holy mystery, and is not always easy to comprehend. This story did not start in a manger and end in unmet expectations on a cross.  Those weren't the final chapters. It was just the beginning.

 

So when Mary had her baby, he didn’t just change her world. He rocked the entire earth. He  reached out toward the outcasts rather than looking away.  He loved the unlovable. He fixed what was broken. He healed what was diseased. He redeemed us by conquering sin and death. 

 

His name is Jesus!

 And because His story ends in triumph, ours does too.   

 

 

A bittersweet pang

Yesterday, I took all three kids for a walk after school.  We've had Sawyer home for nine days and I hadn't taken all three of them out together.  I certainly had not taken them out with Marge.  She is like an amazingly high maintenance fourth child.  One that requires a walk every day or she goes bonkers.  We have had a lot of rain which means not a lot of walks.  It was inevitable, I was either going to lose my mind or just bite the bullet and do it.  So, we headed to a park where Marge can run off of her leash and expel her boundless energy.

 

The walk was going okay, but then Sawyer didn’t want to be in his BOBA on my back anymore.  I let him down which decreased our speed.  Next, Charlie decided that his walking stick would be better used as a “whack your older brother in the head stick.”  And then chaos ensued.   All three were crying.  I kissed the head of one, took the stick from the other and tried to soothe the third.  Marge had gotten twenty-five minutes of running, that was enough!  I half dragged Charlie towards our car since he was throwing a fit about the stick, and as we rounded the curve, we all stopped a little short.  There in the parking lot and spilling over into the entrance of the park were souped up trucks, a large party bus and tons of teens dressed for prom.  My first thought included a four-letter word. 

 

I took a deep breath, got Marge on her leash and we all started walking toward the mass of tuxes and sparkles.  We walked past the group of kids and I felt a bittersweet pang.  I stepped outside myself and wondered how did I get here?  How did my Friday night outing become dragging three kids for a walk with the promise of pizza afterwards?  When did I become the mom?!?  I guess what they say it true, blink and ten years( give or take a few) have passed.  I can hardly remember what it was like to be carefree. 

 

 

When I was younger, I babysat all the time and it always amazed me how grateful the parents were when I would bathe the kids, put the dishes away and make sure the house was picked up before they got home.  The moms used to say that it was so nice to come home to a clean house. I didn’t get all the hype.  Driving home I would think about having a family someday and how I wanted a bunch of kids because taking care of kids was easy.  Then I would get home, lay down in my bed, and enjoy hours of uniterrupted sleep.   So naive and ignorant.

 

Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done. The shift lasts twenty-four hours, all three hundred and sixty-five days of the year.  Some days I wonder what I was thinking, picking this.  But I did pick it.  Eight years ago we decided to try for a baby and thirteen months later we were given the gift of Greyson.  Then five years later, after fighting tooth and nail, we were given the gift of Charlie.  And just three weeks ago and in really  unexpected ways, we were given the gift of Sawyer.  All three are true gifts, not really mine, but given to me to steward.  It’s a humbling thought.  One I don’t always remember to be grateful about.

 

There are days when I forget to let the seven-year-old be seven by telling another “hilarious” fart joke, quoting sports facts and asking me to watch just one more trick.  I forget that the three-year-old is just three.  The things he gets so worked up about are relative to his stage of life, his little hands are capable and strong but only so big and still require a lot of guidance.  The baby, so sweet but constantly taking apart drawers, emptying contents of cupboards or whatever else he can get his pudgy hands on.  I forget that he is learning, discovering his world by touch.  All I can think about some days is how many hours until bedtime.  When will I get a few minutes of quite and reminiscing, as I did the other night at the park, about being young and free? 

 

But that young and free was just a season, a gift of youth.  And this too is just a season.  These days, which are filled with messes and tears, but also giggles and silliness.  Just a season.  I am certain that in reflecting on my life today and thinking, "Wasn't I just the one getting ready for prom not too long ago?"  That in a flash, I will think back to these current days with fondness and also a bittersweet pang.  My oldest had some questions about the teenagers dressed up and I told him that in a few short years when he was in high school, he would get to go to prom.  And oh my goodness, he will.  How can that be? 

 

So this season of constantly being needed, of lack of sleep, of stepping on legos and trying to keep my patience but also one of open mouth, slobbery baby kisses, being given dandelion bouquets and reading bedtime stories to soapy-scented little bodies.  This exhausting season is a gift.  Today especially,  I am incredibly grateful to the One who gives me these gifts.  For His faithful love and care for me so that I can love and care for mine. 

 

This mom gig is not always so pretty, but it is beautiful.

Whatever season of motherhood you're in:  Happy Mothers Day!

The vacation I nearly missed

We went on vacation a few weeks ago. I recently heard about an article titled the difference between a vacation and trip once you become parents.  I guess I should say, we went on a trip last week. If you have kids, you understand this. 

After packing, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, packing some more, running back to store for forgotten items from the first trip, putting clean sheets on beds for when you get home, baking treats, cleaning out the fridge, getting your mail, trash and flowers taken care of while your away and then running back to the store one last time you're ready to go. Exhausted but ready.

Then you get to where your going and if you're like me, a little psychotic, you reclean the entire cottage you are staying in. Which  includes changing the current shower curtains with the new ones you bought on your third trip to the store because nobody wants to shower in others soap scum (yes, I actually do that). All the while your very sweet sister-in-law just sorta stares at you and since we are close she does mention that thinking to buy extra shower curtains "is a little over the top".

 Then you order pizza, make a fire and by 10pm you're telling your kids in that fake sugary, sweet voice to really please go to bed, now, like right now! You don't want to lose it because it is vacation after all. Then you stay up super late learning a new card game that you think you mostly understand, but clearly not at all since you lose terribly the first time and finally you go to bed.

I woke up the the next morning tired but I had a moment where I decided that I was just going to have a fun trip, err vacation with my kids. It's easy to get a little overwhelmed on vacation with kids. Everyone is sleeping in different beds, you are together all the time and in our case we rented a cottage with my brother and his family. We had nine people together, in a cottage, for a week. And unfortunatly we are unaccostumed to slowing down. The pace in which we live is rapid. We get what we want, when we want it and we don't like to wait. Most anything can be figured out by swiping a few times on our phones.

At home I have responsibilites and I find myself often saying "just a minute" , "not right now"  or "mom is busy". I wanted my kids to see a difference, to intentionally make a memory for them, to say yes.  I'm glad I did.  I could have missed so many things.

We built sandcastles

We hiked the dunes

We swam until we resembled prunes

We stayed up too late and ate too much food

We boated

We sat around a campfire telling stories

We slowed down...      And it was good. Not perfect, not completely without some issues, not always happy but good none the less. 

 

I wonder how many other things we miss by not slowing down. Do we miss Him speaking to us about the person in front of us at the grocery store because we are anxiously waiting our turn at the checkout? Do we miss moments to share a kind word or reinforce Jesus to our kids amongst our everyday activities because the laundry is not folded? Do we miss moments of reconnecting with our spouse because once the kids are down, the to do list is long. Do we miss quiet time with Him because of what is recorded on our DVR?  

What is this life about anyway, being busy? Are we so filled to the brim with activity that our souls struggle to calm down?

 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God...”
— Psalm 46:10

Easier to read than to do but it's not a suggestion, it's a command. 

 During our week away I witnessed delighted smiles and silly behaivor. I learned a little more about my kids and how they handle new environments. I actually won more than one round of the card game. I read two books, which for me is a true vacatoin. I took mental photos of my boys as they enjoyed themselves. I breathed in the beauty of His creation and I wondered if I was "still" more often what else I might not miss. 

Learning to Talk with God

I wish I knew who I heard this from so I could quote them properly but once I heard someone say:

If you want to learn how to talk to God, read the Psalms

If you want to learn how to talk/deal with people, read Proverbs

I love that! I also love reading Psalms and should probably be more proficient in reading Proverbs. I completely agree with the above quote, I think the Psalms lends such peace as well as freedom in our prayers. It could be compared to the App Store slogan:

 

Feeling Depressed?  There is a Psalm for that.

Feeling Angry?  There is a Psalm for that.

Feeling mystified over God?  There is a Psalm for that.

Feeling overwhelmed at God’s Goodness?  There is a Psalm for that.

Feeling forgotten, amazed at His creation or thankful?  Yep, there is a Psalm for that. 

 

David (the other writers too) is so raw in the Psalm’s you can see right where his heart and head are at, you see his feelings, fears and love. I like them because you see that God is able and even encourages a very honest prayer life. David understands the sovereignty of the Lord but still has doubts about where God is in moments of hardship, he questions His plans. He reminds God of His promises to the generations and David tells himself to keep on praising. Did you know that “Oh my soul” is translated to mean “I tell myself”? 

The Psalms are so rich! I think not only does the Psalm’s teach us about how to talk to God but it teaches us how God responds to us, how he calms our souls, how he corrects us and that we need to fear to Him. It is an important book of the Bible, one I like Considering.

 

Psalm 100 is well known but one of my favorites:

Shout Joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord with gladness; 

Come before Him with joyful singing.

Know that the Lord Himself is God;

It is He who has made us, not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter his Gates with thanksgiving And His courts His praise.

Give thanks to him, bless His name.

For the Lord is good;

His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

 

AMEN - so be it!