Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The inside of my nose smells weird. I notice it for the 23rd time today. I have a cold, so hopefully it’s nothing permanent.

Nothing in particular kept me up so late, just lots of little things. A phone call, some light reading, some thinking, some heavier reading and contemplating. And now, as I’m ready to close my eyes, it is clear that the time for sleep has not yet come. My little boy, Mr. Enthusiastic, has decided now is a good time to play. Out of the norm, I am harboring the thought of making an appearance. Maybe just a case of a misplaced paci.

I make my way to his room, my heartbeat quickening at the thought of late night cuddles. Anyone who has ever been woken from a deep sleep by a babe knows it is much more enjoyable to already be awake when these times come.

He perks up as the light from the hall sweeps across his mattress. He sits back and just looks at me, like he was expecting me to come all along. As if we had planned to meet under these exact circumstances. I spot the elusive paci, gather a few more nearby, and I pull my sweet, nocturnal boy into my arms. We head to the rocker and make it a date.

So many thoughts swim across my ever-shifting mind. Maybe this was a bad idea? This will surely encourage a night-waking habit.

But as I feel his weight settle in, the rhythm holding us close, I know this could never be a bad idea.

My thoughts continue to wander. I’m chewing on a story from the book of John. I want it to sink deeper. I want to see Jesus more clearly. What do I need? Can Jesus really be all I need?

I think back on the day. There were some unsettling incidents. Words spoken that caught me off guard. Words that led me to one thought. In my heart of hearts, I just want to be a perfect mother. I want my children to balk at the thought of not being loved through and through, each and every bit. I want them to know what it is to be looked square in the face and be completely understood. I want them to not think twice about the unending well of support that follows them step by step, because they’ve never had to wonder if it’s really there.  I want to listen, I want to say the right things, I want to watch the world unfurl before them. But I want it to unfurl in a way that doesn’t hurt. In a way that shields them from the brokenness.

I find myself cringing inwardly at the potential of what could lay ahead. How can we know what the next breath will bring?

I don’t know if I have ever given this desire full recognition in my mind. I want to be a perfect mother. As soon as I thought it, that uneasy feeling crept into my chest. It is not possible. I am nothing but imperfect. How could I possibly hope to attain such a goal? Me, myself, and I - we will mess it all up.

My heart was already breaking imagining the havoc I would wreak in the lives of my children. The confusion I would offer them. The inconsistencies. The inaccurate picture of the Savior I so desperately need.

Just as I was sinking, another thought came. The one I have thought so many times in so many other contexts, but perhaps never before in this unuttered desire.


I cannot be a perfect mother. We are coming up on three years’ worth of proof. I cannot. BUT. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. No, not perfection. No. But, redeemed mothering? The kind of mothering that knows what it is to fail and be forgiven, to be more broken and desperate than I knew possible? The kind of mothering that remembers the One who makes me whole, who mends and loves and covers over?  Now we are getting somewhere.

When my sons gasped their first breaths, when they were placed into my waiting arms, it was already all broken. Nothing has changed since their first days in this world. I brought them forth into a place that is full of darkness and misunderstanding. A place that will hurt them and make them afraid. With both of them, as I carried them with me, I worried. Maybe this isn’t the right thing to do. This world is too much; maybe the good can’t outweigh the bad.

The thing that keeps my feet moving forward is precisely that nothing has changed since their first days in this world. Yes there is evil and suffering and doubt. BUT. Christ is already victorious. This place is not what it was meant to be, but we are heading in the right direction. Each day passing is one day closer to a home where nothing hurts anymore. Where hearts can’t break and tears can’t fall. The deep well of loss is filled with overwhelming love and peace.

My children were not given a perfect mother. Far from it. Grace upon grace, they were given a mother that knows what it is to be redeemed. A mother that knows how to hope. One that will fail and will say that she’s sorry. One that knows if there is anything good, it is from Jesus.

Did you know that I have yelled at my kids? I have done the thing where you’re so stinking frustrated that you grab your kid’s arm way too hard for the sake of putting them in their place. I have been lazy and selfish. I have been immature and unhelpful. I have ignored a two-year-old’s pressing questions and gritted my teeth at an 11-month-old spitter. Things I never, ever thought I would do. I am terrified of the ways I will damage my children if this is my success rate three years in.

But I am learning. Oh, am I learning. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. To quote an old friend of mine, “At the end of my rope, God’s rope just begins…”

I feel my baby boy’s fingers toying with his satin blanket. He is still, he is calm. He is breathing sleepy, in and out. His head nestles in just below my chin and I know this was not a mistake. I could not have stopped myself from bringing his sweet face into this world any more than I could have stopped myself from walking down that hall for these snuggles instead of tossing and turning, waiting for sleep to find me.

I brought our date to an end with a kiss goodnight. As I padded back to bed with hopes of warmer feet, I knew that I still had a long way to go. Too much that is still too muddled. It needs to sink down deeper, into a place where it can’t get away. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, forever. He uses the Unexpecteds, the Imperfects, the Broken.

I don’t know what lies ahead. If I let myself meander into speculation I want to run away and hide, try to stop it in its tracks. I don’t need to know. I don’t want to know. What I need is Jesus. More of Him, less of me. In His strength, I will be the best redeemed mother I can be.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Have you seen my ball?


I'm Asher. And I am SO excited! My mama says that I am Mr. Enthusiastic. And a Drama Queen. I say I can't help it. Because - LOOK!

Have you seen my ball? They don't get any better than this! It is green and foamy and perfect for..


Mama keeps trying to hide my ball. She says it is old and gross and she doesn't want me to eat green foam. She just doesn't understand. And I can't help but think she's not that serious, because she really isn't doing a very good job hiding it. I just keep finding it.

I'm sneaky like that.

(Pictures taken in early March)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Picnic

A day in February, right at the end. The trees were still bare. The ground was wet, muddy, begging for sun.

I had one thing in common with that ground. I was begging for sun. For warm. For outside.

So, we had a picnic.

Aed didn't really understand what was happening. His mood swung from so excited at the prospect of eating outside, to so distraught that the food was going into bags and containers rather than to the table. Eventually we stepped out into the winter-warming sun and his excitement for fresh air quelled his fears.

We climbed up into the tree house on the swing set, spread out our blanket, and had our picnic.

It was a change of pace, a new adventure for tiny feet. 

And, the best part? From then on, any food he saw that was in a plastic container was called 'Picnic' by my eldest. ('You want some Picnic?')

Sunday, May 13, 2012

One down, 18,930 to go

Things to do, that is. I suppose I don’t really have that many things to do in the next couple months, but it sure feels like it.

The blog has been quiet for a number of reasons, one of which is my decision to run a half marathon. After Asher was born, I decided I wanted to run the Edinburgh half that takes place in May each year. I began running about a month after his birth, and stopped roughly 10 weeks later when we ran into some nursing problems.

When we firmly decided that we were moving back to Indiana, the Edinburgh half became the Indy Mini, which also takes place in May. I was hesitant to commit because it was a long way off, and I knew there was a lot of potential for failure given the uncertain nature of our lives. Nonetheless, a week or two after we arrived I registered for the race.

I started running again in January, after a few sedentary months filled with hopes of prolonging Asher’s stint as a breastfed baby. It didn’t take long to notice a nagging pain in my shins. I hoped against hope that it wasn’t shin splints. I’d never had them before and didn’t know how to handle them. The pain got worse and worse until it was constant and severe, running or not.

I made several attempts at helping my poor shins; I even took two weeks off to let them rest. But as soon as it seemed things were getting better, a few runs in we’d be right back where we started. This went on for weeks and I can’t remember the last time I felt so frustrated! I was running in good shoes, stretching, icing, doing everything I could and nothing nothing nothing helped.

Thankfully there was a light at the end of that seemingly never-ending tunnel. I started emailing with a running shop about what I was experiencing. I eventually gave in and went to have my running evaluated. The last thing I wanted to do was fork over more money for new shoes, but the desperation got the better of me.. I wanted to cross the finish line, darn it!

The nicest man watched me jiggle my way back and forth across his running shop while I prayed that I wouldn’t seem too out of breath for such a short run, and that he would only look at my feet. I felt like an unworthy intruder in a world of fitness excellence. I listened as he recommended products to prevent chafing and socks to prevent blisters. My amateur status may as well have been stamped on my forehead as my eyes widened at the price tags for running attire, my imagination was captured by shoes with toes, my gaze flitted over an endless supply of ‘fuel’ for runners I never knew existed.

That nice man never once made me feel silly as he told me that the shoes I had were without a doubt my problem. That they were perfectly wrong for my feet. He pulled out a box holding a pair of shoes that could have easily been mistaken for two golden tickets. I put almost 30 miles on those shoes in the first week I owned them; each cushioned step was like salve to my aching legs.

A week or two later, I realized I had been running without pain and hadn’t even stopped to really relish in that change. You can bet I lifted that moment with a grateful heart.

I plodded along, training as best I could, giving thanks all the way for the willingness of my husband and parents to keep my precious babes. I wrestled with guilt as the runs got longer and took more logistical planning. I drank every drop of ‘Don’t worry about it!’ and encouragement from my cheering squad. I fought off burnout in the last few weeks as other pressures built and my attention was needed elsewhere. I let questions like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘What purpose does this serve in my life today?’ be drowned out by the music that handed me the answers to those questions, by the feeling of adding one more mile to my tally.

The race?

It was great. It was hot and long, fun and not so fun. It was lonely and crowded. It was an accomplishment, and I could not be more thankful for that memory. But the meat? The best part? The part that was really challenging? It was all the days before that race. The expected, the unexpected. It was the journey from start to finish.  

That was the journey where I learned I could go one more mile. That was where I realized that I didn’t want to give up. It was those days that I felt the blessing of the Lord as the perfect song danced into my ears to carry me through when I was overwhelmed, when the last three miles felt impossible. It was the run that almost turned into a breakdown that turned into a prayer walk. It was again and again seeing my need for Jesus. Being forced to acknowledge that I am not strong enough. I am not. I can push and push and push, but the load is always heavier. There is too much that is too far out of my hands. Without Jesus, without trust, I am defeated every time.

The placement of this race in my life was perfect. If I had known what lay ahead, the many unexpecteds and sudden changes in our lives, when I clicked that ‘Register’ button, I never would have done it. If I had a grasp on how far 13.1 miles really was, no way. If I had felt the humiliation, the inadequacy, the feeble hope beforehand; if the Lord had clued me in to the depth of the challenge I was hanging over my own head, I would have nonchalantly walked away, hoping it didn’t fall on anyone. But I didn’t know. And I raced, one day – one step – at a time.

My struggles were far more insignificant than those of others I ran with on race day. But you know? It doesn’t really matter how insignificant they might seem to someone else. They are real and they are shaping my heart. Without them I would have nothing to ruminate, nothing to make me squirm. Nothing to soften me and remind me that there is really only one place I want to be. And that is right in step with my Savior.