Between a Rock and an Ocean

Between a Rock and an Ocean

I love the ocean; not so much being in the water because I cannot see my feet and that creeps me out, but I love watching the ocean. The ocean has a rhythm about it that I find incredibly peaceful. For all of its power and vastness it is not without limits or containment, and maybe that is why I love it so. For all of its steadiness and potential uncertainty, there is a greater force that holds it together, that keeps it in control, that’s power and vastness is unimaginably greater than the ocean’s reflection of it.

Our family has been in an ocean season; not the nice watching the ocean season, but the exhausting season of trying to stay afloat in the water season. Wave after wave of illnesses, challenging circumstances, and trying relationships have left me feeling worn out, soaking wet and water logged. My eyes have felt the sting of salty tears as I rock my little one to an elusive sleep. His little body rocked by a ragged, painful cough as drainage chokes his airways and causes him to vomit. His cries hoarse and broken, as though shards of glass line his throat. I have clinched my fists in anger as exhaustion weighs heavy in my bones, the air in my home hangs thick and stale, and my own immune system wages a losing battle. I have raged at God; a God who is supposed to love my kid more than I do, who could heal him, us, and yet has not. A God who has moved me from the home, community, and city that I so loved to a new and lonely place. Cognitively, I am fully aware that there are those around us whose loss, illness, and stormy circumstances greatly exceed our own and I should be thankful rather than filled with complaint. Emotionally, I am just desperate for a break in the waves. If I could just catch my breath. If I could just sleep…If I could just…

In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus opens by sharing the parable of the sower and then explaining it further on in the chapter to His disciples. He explains that the seed sown on rocky soil is like the one who receives the Word with great joy, but “they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while, then, when tribulation, or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. (v17)” Jesus goes on to share other parables before closing out His day of ministry. His disciples take Jesus into a boat, “just as he was” and head to the other side of the lake. While Jesus is asleep, a storm arises that threatens to sink their boat. The disciples awake Him and ask Him if He even cares that they are about to die. Jesus gets up, calms the stormy seas with a word from His mouth, and then turns to His disciples in a loving rebuke: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

The disciples just had a rocky soil moment that gives me a lot of hope for my own faith. They were not sure of who Jesus was entirely, nor did they know who they were in Him and to Him entirely, and in the face of stormy waves they had no root of faith to ground them. They took Jesus into the boat with them “just as He was” but when He did not operate or act as they felt He should, they questioned His character, power and loving care for Him. They only allowed Him to be who He was to the extent that He lived up to their expectations.

If I am to let Jesus into my life “just as He is” then I have to let Him be God as He sees fit. I have to plunge my roots deep down into the fertile truth of His word. I have to trust His character and care for me even when He does not operate in the ways I want Him to or feel He should. I have to trust that He knows how to be God far better than I ever could, because He sees the end from the beginning and holds all things together. I have to trust that His priorities, His goals for my life, for the lives of my loved ones, are far better than my own; when they do not align, I have to be quick to submit mine under His. I have to trust that, while He does not cause the storms in my life, neither does He waste them from accomplishing Kingdom goals in my heart.

May we bring all of the raw honesty and emotion before His throne of grace this week, and then let Him be God.

-a

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Monster Mom & the Toddler Tantrum

Monster Mom & the Toddler Tantrum

It turns out that one crazy week really became a near month of crazy in our house. Fire ants, a wasp sting, a couple teeth popping through, some blow out diapers, epic tantrums and some episodic vomiting culminated into an all-out hunger strike this past week that nearly landed us in the hospital for hydration. To top it all off, my son said his first curse word.  [You can judge, but it was a multi-word phrase used in proper context with expression so I am going to file it away as impressive and watch my own vocabulary from here on out.]

I will admit that the toddler has not been the only one throwing a tantrum or two lately. I am sure that I have snapped a few times recently. Not many people know this, but I am the reason they coined the term “hangry.” When hangry meets tired meets “that time of the month” the atmosphere changes around our home. Dark clouds gather as an eerie silence strengthens the level of tension. You know, like those moments in a suspenseful movie where you know something is about to jump out at you so you mute the TV as though that is going to help you not pee yourself a little? Anyone? Anyways, this is the scene my husband would describe if he thought I would not kill him for it, but he is much too smart for that.

I hit a new low though this morning. The impromptu nursing session from 1-1:30am was greeted with a little grace because my naïve momma heart believed I would at least get to sleep in until around 8am. I must have let my guard down as I walked into his nursery. As though he sensed my excitement over an extra three hours of sleep (yes, you read that right), he made sure we did not waste a perfectly decent Saturday morning sleeping. 4:40am came with one bright eyed, bushy tailed, and hangry offspring.

That is right. Four freaking forty in the morning.

Somewhere around 7am, after his second breakfast and right before I put his little butt down for a “nap”, I lost it right along with him. He was making that whining/crying/screaming noise, mildly resembling a wounded goat, while pulling back and forth at the baby gate (poor guy did not realize the presence of that gate was largely contributing to his survival in that moment); his ears deaf to words like “No”, “Stop”, and “Hush”.  The smart aleck that resides in my brain decided to pop in with a poorly timed “He is so your son” right before I blew.

Samuel Grey! There are other people in this home! You are NOT the only person in this home with NEEDS, son! CUT IT OUT NOW!

A nanosecond of stunned silence was quickly filled with a louder goat-met-a-beagle-and-had-a-baby noise. I turned to him, a minefield of blueberries and half eaten bites of pancake that had been thrown like confetti at second breakfast and a baby gate between us, and beheld my little monster. Curly blond hair askew, blue eyes puffy and filled with crocodile tears, belly poking out from behind his stained monkey pajama top, and tiny fingers curled tightly around the rails of the baby gate. I think this is the part where all of my frustration was supposed to dissipate, but it did not…that happened after a nap and another snack. This is the part where his sheer adorableness kept the dreaded “monster mom” at bay…saved by monkey pajamas and chubby cheeks.

Motherhood is ruining me in the most frustrating, sanctifying and beautiful of ways. I want to meet my toddler in moments like this morning and dig my heels in because I am tired, I am hungry, and I no longer have the luxury of peeing in private anymore. Rather than modeling healthy self-care, communicating boundaries, and acting in selfless love, I join him right on that low road of emotive explosion and prideful persistence.

I confess this in an altogether TMI post because it is far too easy for me to compare my own behind the scenes bloopers to the highlight reels of other mothers.  In moments like this morning, when I have shown off all of my ugly bits, it is easy to be swept away in a current of shame and believe lies about who I am as a human, woman, wife and mother. Perhaps I am not alone. I do not write this to say we should glory in our tantrums, but I do believe moments like this morning can serve us as we try to raise our kiddos after God’s heart.

Sam needs to know that it is okay to have behind the scenes moments. He needs to see the genuine nature of what it means to follow Christ, ugly bits included. He needs to see why we need the Gospel and how the Gospel is changing us and the ways we interact in our relationships. He needs to hear from a mommy well-acquainted with an authentic apology so that he will be equipped when the time comes for him to extend one. He needs to learn how to live in community, serve the needs of others in all humility and joy, all while maintaining healthy boundaries that promote altruistic love and compassion.

Our children do not need a perfect mother. Our spouses, friends, families and communities do not need us to be perfect; they need to see the presence of Jesus in the midst of our imperfection.

-a