A couple of weeks ago I was cooking supper when I looked out the window to see if my husband was home yet, when I realized the sun was still shining at five o’clock. I was so happy I texted my group text girls to tell them. The days had been getting longer, but I had failed to notice it until that moment.
I was reminded of that this morning when I took this picture of my oldest son and his 2 year-old sister.
Four years ago, when I had just a 1 year old and an infant, I could not imagine this day. I was surviving moment by moment, day by day, praying my oldest didn’t hurt his brother (again) or destroy the house (again) while I fed his baby brother. I have a Facebook album dedicated to the disasters my boys created in those early years of chaos – flour and sugar poured all over my kitchen, foods smeared, bookshelves completely emptied. Repeatedly. Walls scribbled on. Repeatedly. In those moments, I couldn’t see a day in my future when I would not have a daily shenanigan to share. But here we are. Now I have a 5 year old that can pick up the baby when she’s crawling toward the fireplace, fix bagels and milk, and read to his sister. I have a 4 year old that can feed the animals, entertain himself with Legos for an hour, and play outside without running to the road every single time. (He still can’t resist a mud puddle, even in 30 degree temperatures. lol) My boys no longer empty every drawer of clothes in their bedroom. (However, their little sister does it for them at every opportunity. Ha!) Those 2 under 2 may still be occasionally creating chaos and making messes at 5 and 4, but they’re also big enough to clean up those messes. 😊 Oh what a difference a few years makes.
Take heart mamas of littles. The seasons change slowly, but one day you will look up from your work, and the sun will be shining at five o’clock.
Having three young children is a joy, but it is also difficult. Add to that them being very close in age, moving to a new town, downsizing your home (by about 250 sq. ft.), losing almost all your family help and babysitters to distance, and a husband working 50-80 hours each week, and you have a recipe for a very stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed mama. I almost became that mother. I let The Enemy tear me down. For months. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was very, very ugly. I had prayed for this opportunity for my family for years, but the answer God handed us didn’t look anything like the answer I thought we would get. This answer was hard, uncomfortable, and for a long time, lonely. And to be transparent, it still is those things some days.
But, late one night I was standing in the kitchen washing a huge pile of dishes for probably the 4th time that day, staring out the window at the plain little house behind ours with tears streaming down my face. I was wishing I was looking at a rice field with a single tree standing in the distance – my kitchen window view for the past 20 years. I remembered a book I had once read about a mother in a similar tiny home with lots of littles. Basically, she found herself crying over some chore at midnight and started singing praises to God, so I did the same.
“Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name…”
I reminded myself, happy or sad, smooth sailing or difficult trials, God is still worthy of praise and obviously my whining and pity party wasn’t going to help anything. Even through my tears, I recognized my blessings and His worthiness.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
The next morning I felt better than I had in months. I suddenly realized Satan wasn’t winning anymore, but he had been. As long as he kept me feeling lonely and overwhelmed, he was silencing me. I wasn’t telling anyone about the awesome blessings God had given me in my children and how He had taken care of us and blessed our entire family. Rejoicing comes in the morning… when that bright light breaks through the horizon and highlights all those shadows you were staring at in the darkness. Then you see what was making those shadows. Miles separated my husband and I for years, but He made our marriage strong. Then he brought us back together on this new journey. He answered my prayers that our firstborn would have a wonderful bond with my husband, despite the time spent apart. My second son will never remember Daddy not being home all week, and for that I am grateful. Lincoln still asks if Daddy is coming home nearly every day, and it breaks my heart…but that’s a shadow of the amazing bond they share.
There will always be hard days. After all, being Mama to lots of littles isn’t for sissies. 🙂 However, now a few lines from the song Trading My Sorrows always comes to mind when I’m feeling frustrated at washing dishes for the 4th time in the same day, or my ears are ringing from the sound of the dryer echoing off the tile in the kitchen all day, and when I’m really just having a pity party because I don’t have a yard where I can send the rowdy boys out to play.
…I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord…
Singing to my Lord reminds me that every step of my day is a step in which I can worship Him, even if it is through scrubbing dishes or teaching my cooped up wild ones how to do jumping jacks to burn off some energy*. It’s not about me. It’s about me laying down my own discomforts and selfish desires and saying “Yes Lord, I’ll do this now for my family and meet their needs,” or “Yes Lord, I won’t complain. I will be thankful for this situation because I’m truly blessed to be seeing my husband every day.” I’m not alone. He’s by my side. He does care. That’s why I am here. I will look past those shadows to the blessings. And I will continue to tell the world of those blessings.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:11-12)
God answers our prayers, but not always how we want. They’re still answers though, and that is worth rejoicing over. Maybe even more so than when we get the answers we do want. Those surprises show that we serve an amazing God that sees all and knows all, and chooses to give us what we need instead of what we want, and certainly not what we deserve.
*Am I the only linewife that can’t type energy without accidentally typing Entergy first? :-p
“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” – Psalm 66:16
He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done. -Proverbs 19:17
I love the way God speaks to me – so direct – because He knows that’s what it takes for me to be certain that it’s His voice and not my own mind making things up for my selfish desires. However, I still sometimes hear that little voice and stop to think too long before doing what I’m told. I begin to over-analyze, afraid to do the wrong thing. (Yes, when I put that in writing it sounds stupid to me too.) Sometimes it causes me to miss the opportunity. Don’t do that. When God puts it on your heart to do something, do it. This week I was reminded why I need to just listen to His voice and act, not question it.
A few weeks ago I read the above verse in Proverbs. I have read the entire book of Proverbs many times, but on that day, this was the verse that stood out to me. I was a bit confused, as I knew God was trying to get me to see something in it, but I had no idea what. I read it several times. Finally, when my kids came back in the room needing something, so I got up and went about my day.
Later that day, when scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post from a friend, that a neighbor was in need. God said, “Help them.” I stumbled over the idea, But I would need to check with my husband… “Do it. You can talk to him before it’s finalized. He will not say no to helping someone else.” Ok, Lord. I feel a little crazy…
But of course, afterward I was so happy that God had given us that opportunity to help someone else. This week when I was given the opportunity to help that family again, I jumped in without a second thought.
Today while my kids were napping, I finally drug the bills off the fridge and called to check on the status of a couple of Sylvia’s hospital bills. We’ve been going back and forth with the hospital and insurance for six months. Apparently when the hospital first billed our insurance company, some of the paperwork was incomplete, so it had to be refiled. Then of course we moved, things got lost in the mail, and it’s just been a big mess. So, I called the hospital today to check one more time, to see if they had gotten another response from our insurance company.
I gave the woman on the other end of the phone our account number and waited for her to pull up our information.
“Ok, what can I help you with ma’am?”
“I was just wondering if our insurance has paid anything yet or if y’all had even heard back from them?”
“Yes ma’am, they paid everything. You have a zero balance.”
I just sat there for a minute, hoping I hadn’t misheard. I thanked her, twice, and hung up. I got down in the floor, next to my 6 month old baby girl, held her little hand and put my face in the carpet praising Him. You see, that wasn’t just a bill from an office visit or two. That was Sylvia-Kate’s week-long hospital stay, three days of which were spent in the NICU. Even after insurance paid, we were expecting four digits before the decimal point. In that second I heard His voice reminding me that I had been listened and been obedient….
I’m not sure why God chose to give us this blessing, but I’m so very thankful.
I’m also not sure why I’m sharing all of this, except that every time I read Psalm 30:11-12 and Psalm 66:16, I am convicted and reminded that I need to not just praise Him with my heart, but praise Him with my words, and, “tell you what he has done for me.”
A few weeks ago I read this post by Beth B., over at Perspective of Love . Immediately I knew what my word for the year was – JOY. I didn’t even have to think about it. That was the word God had laid on my heart for two weeks prior to reading that post. Last year was not the easiest year for me. I was working a lot of weekends, chasing two kids under the age of two during the week (that had opposite nap schedules until a month ago), and I was utterly exhausted for months at a time. I honestly feel that I didn’t stop and see the JOY in my days enough though. God has given me lots of blessings to enJOY.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation,” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philippians 2:14-15
Even worse, I didn’t often take the time to share with others the JOY of having God in my life and the ways that I have been blessed.
Just today I made a rare phone call to see about getting my car serviced for a recall on the headlights. I say rare because if I can’t text you, I’m probably not going to call you. This has nothing to do with an aversion to talking on the phone and everything to do with my children screaming hysterically and climbing on me the moment I’m connected to another individual on the telephone. (Maybe that happens all the time, and I only realize it when I’m trying to make/take a phone call?) The man that I was speaking with could obviously hear my children in the background, and he asked how old they were. When I answered (1 and 2) his quick reply was the one I so commonly hear, “Oh…bless your heart!” While I have talked to many mothers that are offended by this response, I always laugh. I find it humorous that so many people think I’m doing something extraordinary by raising two young boys. Yes, it is difficult, but two under two definitely has advantages too. I’ll have to post those for you sometime. 🙂 Anyway, when I got off the phone with him I realized I should have told him, “No, bless your heart!” There I was, barefoot, hair in a ponytail, lying on my couch in the middle of the day, with two laughing toddlers climbing all over me. That poor man was sitting behind a desk somewhere across town, waiting on 5:00 to roll around. Thirty minutes later, my oldest son was down for his afternoon nap and I was standing in their bedroom, swaying back and forth to the music from the kitchen radio with my youngest in my arms. JOY.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9