The Inner Struggles of a Mom

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

My son gashed his chin at the park a few weeks ago. It’s not something I intended to write about, but it really left an impression on me. Considering all the blood and how deep the cut was, I think I responded fairly well. My son was a real trooper, too. He cried on the way to the hospital, as is to be expected from a three-year-old, but he quickly calmed down as I continued to reassure him that I was taking him to the emergency room so that he could get better. He even managed to take a nap in my arms as we sat in the waiting room.

Three hours later, after a lot of waiting and a bit of medical care, my son’s chin was finally stitched up, and we headed to the nearest drive thru to pick up a late lunch before heading home. Liam was soon back to his happy, rambunctious self as we ravenously scarfed down our food. It was as if he had already forgotten about the incident. Life was far from normal for me, however. Apart from the stress of trying to keep Liam’s stitches dry and clean that week and keeping him from picking at them or injuring himself any further, my mind was brewing with unwanted thoughts.

That day, I was freshly reminded that I cannot always protect my son. I wasn’t able to protect him at eleven months when he had to be admitted to the hospital for two nights for a disease my husband and I had never even heard about. I couldn’t protect him subsequently at his follow up appointment two weeks later, where the doctor determined that his health had been affected by the illness and he would have to be put on medication indefinitely. I couldn’t protect him eight months later when he slipped on a step at the zoo and had to get stitches for the first time, and I couldn’t protect him this last time when he tripped over his own feet just a few feet from my side.

As much as I try, I am unable to shield my son from much of the harm that comes from living in a fallen world, and this most recent incident was a vivid and painful reminder to me of just that. I am incapable of completely keeping him safe, and I always will be. But the thought that I wrestle with more as I think about all of this is knowing that God can keep him from harm, but He doesn’t always choose to do so. Liam will continue to experience sickness, pain, and sorrow in different seasons of his life, just like everyone else, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

My faith does not falter as I consider these things, however, nor do I doubt God’s character. I have learned long ago to view my circumstances through the lens of God’s goodness rather than the other way around, and He has helped me to see Him at work in the different hardships I have faced thus far. I simply write this to confess that I’m struggling to reconcile myself to the fact that my family’s story may not turn out the way I want it to. We may experience greater suffering, sorrow, and loss than we have ever known, and there’s no way for us to undo whatever hardships we may face.

The most meaningful truth that I keep coming back to, however, is knowing that God did not spare His own Son for me. He gave Him over to a painful and gruesome death on a cross so that I might choose Jesus and have an eternity awaiting me with Him. And if God loved me so much to give His Son for me, then I can trust that He will not abandon me in my darkest moments and worst sufferings. He intimately knows my heart and all its emotions, and whatever may come, He will strengthen, comfort, and sustain me. He will completely see me through this life on earth until He sees me Home, where pain and sorrow will be no more.

I’m also comforted in knowing that God did not spare His own Son for Liam to give him a chance to believe in Him and be saved if he so chooses (and I fervently pray that he does).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

God loves Liam more than JJ and I ever could, and it would do me good to really meditate upon that fact and to find freedom in God’s great love for him. I can’t keep my son from harm, and God may not always shield him from all harm either, but I know that God can minister to Liam in his pain, just as He has done for JJ and me over and over again. He can comfort him, give him peace, and outpour His love upon Him in ways unlike anyone else. And those moments, in turn, can become the stepping stones that God uses to build faith in Liam and a deeper understanding of who He is.

Ultimately, I know that I must choose not to dwell on the possible hardships that this life may bring. The Bible admonishes us to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), so I will seek to turn my thoughts to those things. But for every new stitch, sickness, or sorrow that may come our way, I want to keep remembering that God did not spare His own Son because of His immense love for us, and He is ready to outpour His love, kindness, compassion, and comfort upon my family and me. We just have to keep seeing our circumstances through the lens of His goodness. We just have to keep believing that He will carry us through this life until He carries us home.

My Mom’s Hands

The quilts and cross-stitch that my mom made for my family and me.


She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.”

Proverbs 31:13

My mom will be turning seventy in a few days, and I have found myself thinking about her a lot as a result and all that she has accomplished throughout the years. When I think of my mom, I can’t help but think of her hands. They have been the driving force behind many of her achievements.

I think of the endless hours those hands played the piano when my siblings and I were young. She began taking lessons as a little girl and went on to earn a Master’s degree in music by her mid-twenties due to her giftedness and love for the instrument. Although she was primarily a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling us five children during our elementary school years, she also made a side income through her musical ability–both through piano lessons that she offered in our home and as the pianist at the congregation we attended.

Some of my most special memories involve my mom’s hands moving across the keyboard of the upright, black Yamaha that graced our living room when we were growing up. My younger brother and I used to dance and frolic around the living room when we were little while my mother practiced her songs. As I grew older, my sisters and I would gather around her to sing songs as she played the piano and sang along, often resulting in raucous laughter at our failed attempts to harmonize or because of the humorous lyrics of a song. Our home was filled with music, and each of us children have been blessed with differing degrees of musical ability thanks to her.

If my mom wasn’t playing the piano, then often times she could be found quilting or cross-stitching. She started quilting before I was born, and I can easily think of fourteen quilts that she has made throughout my lifetime. My siblings and I have owned a number of these quilts, and we have been very grateful for her willingness to bless us with such special gifts.

To this day, JJ and I use the latest quilt that she made me over five years ago when I was single. We use it during the warmer months since it’s a lighter blanket, turning it horizontally to cover the width of our bed. Liam also uses a baby blanket that my mom designed and created for him over two years ago. Additionally, one of her cross-stitches hangs on the wall by our front door. It’s an Irish blessing that she made five more times after completing the original once since my siblings and I wanted one so badly. I’m glad she was up to the task. Years ago, she told me that she prayed for me as she made my cross-stitch, as she did for my siblings when she made theirs. It makes the Irish blessing that much more special.

She continues to quilt and cross-stitch to this day, and my parents’ home is filled with the work of her hands in beautiful, vivid colors because of it. Each masterpiece is a testimony of her patience, perseverance, and skill. The pieces that each of us children have received from her are also a tangible expression of her love for us, which I’m so grateful to have since my mom and I live far apart.

Another big part of our life growing up was the baked goods my mom made with her hands. She baked challah every Friday for our evening dinner, then she often used the leftover bread to make French toast the following morning. She also made a variety of breads and muffins during the fall and winter, and we also enjoyed her occasional homemade cinnamon rolls and birthday cakes and Thanksgiving pumpkin cream pie. As we got older, my mom taught us how to bake as well, and most of us still enjoy that skill today.

Of course, my mom used her hands for more basic things also. They were used to clean, cook, and care for us children as we were growing up. They have also been used to turn the pages of the numerous books she has enjoyed overs the years, and even more importantly, to flip the pages of her Bible as she has read and memorized Scripture each morning. More symbolically, they have been used in constant prayer. She has been a beautiful example of righteous living to my siblings and me over the years.

Although the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 reminds me of my mom in general, I especially think of the verse mentioned above when I think of my mom because of her readiness to work with her hands in different ways.

I’m so thankful for the godliness, giftedness, and kindness that they have expressed throughout the years and the blessing they have been to me and others in the process. Although I do not possess the same talents as my mother, I pray that I can leave the same kind of legacy that she is leaving the five of us. I pray that my hands will be an expression of kindness and godliness to my family and others, and I pray that the gifts God has given me will leave a legacy for my son and future generations. I’m so thankful for the example that my mom has been to me all these years, and I pray that God will give her many more years so that I can keep learning from her.

Building Towers

October proved to be a busy month. On top of family responsibilities, I tried to keep up with this blog and continue my attempts to help my younger brother write a book (you can read a brief idea about that here: https://anticipatingadventure.com/2020/01/21/remembering/). I also worked on creating an award-worthy recipe for a Christmas cookie contest I entered online and wrote an essay in hopes of having it published in a magazine for moms.

In the midst of the busyness, my toddler son started to ask me to play with him more, and I have complied. With COVID-19 restrictions and no siblings of his own, I feel sorry for him. I’m the only playmate he has most times, so I’m trying to actively engage in the moments when he asks me to play.

Liam is especially fond of building trains with his Duplo Legos, and although I can enjoy this activity to a certain degree, we always face some contention when we play with them together. Liam wants to build tall towers for each train car, and when I suggest to him that we create a better foundation first, he gets upset with me.

“No! No! No!” he exclaims as he snatches the Legos out of my hands and then rebuilds according to his liking. Inevitably, the teetering train cars come tumbling down at some point, and Liam is left feeling upset. It’s the frustrating pattern we follow each time we play, no matter how much I try to reason with him in order to avoid the train’s demise.

After a few days of following this routine, I could sense God teaching me a greater lesson through it, and I began to feel convicted by my own hypocrisy. While I was urging Liam to build a better foundation, I had been ignoring my own. My quiet times had become shorter and were getting pushed later into the day, even to the extent that I skipped a few a couple of times. In my own attempts to build something impressive out of my life, I had neglected my own foundation, and the fruits of my labor were now threatening to come crashing down like my son’s Lego trains. It brought the following Bible verse to mind:

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain.”

Psalms 127:1

Looking back on the month of October, I can see that I spent a good chunk of it laboring in vain. I didn’t tend to my foundation by spending time with God in the first hours of the morning, nor did I seek out His wisdom or guidance in how or what to “build” each day. Instead, I began the projects of October with my own agenda in mind.

I couldn’t help but think about the Tower of Babel as described in Genesis 11 when I considered all of this. The people set out to build a tower that would reach to the heavens in hopes of making a name for themselves. They wanted to seek their own glory and thought this tower would do the trick. God thwarted their plans, however, and the tower was left unfinished. He would not share His glory with another.

Much like the people from the Tower of Babel, I find myself seeking my own glory all too often, attempting to build tall towers of my own. It’s a struggle that I have to fight against daily, especially when it comes to writing. God has been gracious to me, however, in that He allows me to experience writer’s block quite a bit. I’m beginning to see it as a gift from Him because it’s the exact thing I have needed to recognize when my motives have become self-centered, and it’s precisely what makes me repent and ask God to help me write for His glory.

Nonetheless, I believe that I could avoid this pattern more if I were to earnestly begin my day in God’s Word and surrender my desires, thoughts, plans, and dreams to Him each morning. After all, any of my labor towards any of these things is only in vain if God is not in it, and He has not placed me or any of us on this earth to fulfill our own purposes.

God created us to glorify Him, and He has prepared good works in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), so we need to seek His face each day so that He can build up His kingdom through our lives. Because, unless He builds the house, all other labor is in vain. It is nothing more than teetering Lego train cars without a foundation set in Him.

Te Va a Amar Jesús

I no longer sing lullabies to my son before I put him to bed, and although I’m happy to have one less thing to do in our nightly routine, I’m also a little sad to have stopped. I would still be singing them, in fact, if it weren’t for Liam. He started complaining about the songs sometime this summer, and they seemed to become more of a hindrance than a help in getting him to bed, so they’re tucked away in my mind for now to perhaps reintroduce them to him some other day.

Two of the three songs that I used to sing to him were lullabies I composed. The first one, Te Va a Amar Jesús, came about in early November of 2018 after I began telling my baby boy that Mommy loved him but that Jesus loved him more. After several weeks of telling him this, God gave me this song. It is perhaps the simplest song I have ever composed because the music and lyrics were so evidently God’s doing. He put them in my mind all at once, like a beautiful gift.

The following day, I composed an English version of this song and a couple of word variations, and I began singing it to Liam each night. It was a part of our daily routine for over nineteen months.

I have recorded and shared this song with others before, but I decided to record it again recently. I wanted to post it here as a keepsake but also to give more parents a chance to hear it and sing it to their children, if they so choose.

After recording this song again, I noticed that I was halfway out of the frame most of the time. I also recognize that I do not have a stellar voice. It cracked at one point, and I’m sure my enunciation could have been better. Nonetheless, I’m sticking to this version, because the real impact of this song will not be in how I looked or sounded while making this recording. It will be in parents singing it to their children and the truth of its words taking root into their young hearts. So if you have young children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or know any other person that you think might enjoy this, please feel free to share it and/or sing it to them. I hope it is a blessing to both you and them. May it ground us more firmly in the truth, that Jesus truly does love us more.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16
Lyrics/Letra
Te va a amar Jesús (2x)
Aún más que tus padres (tíos, primos, tía, maestros, gato, etc.) te ama/aman
[Mas que tus ______________ (hermanos, hermanas, amigos, etc.) te aman]
Te va a amar Jesús
Te ama tanto Jesús (2x)
Que con su sangre te ha comprado
Te ama tanto Jesús
Jesus will love you more (2x)
He’ll love you even more than your parents (siblings, cousins, grandma, grandpa, etc.) do/does
[He’ll love you more than your brother and sister (grandma and grandpa, etc.) do]
Jesus will love you more
Jesus loves you so much (2x)
So much that He gave His own blood to redeem you
Yes, Jesus loves you so much

Rock Collections

Liam and I sometimes play a game on our morning walks, unbeknownst to him. We generally play it when he takes rocks from his “rock collection” with us. When this happens, I try to leave as many rocks as I can alongside the pathway where Liam got them in the first place. Liam, on the contrary, tries to take even more rocks home with us. The winner is determined by how many rocks return with us in the end.

This game probably sounds simple, but I have discovered over time that it requires skill and an element of sneakiness if I am to have any success. In order to dispose of the rocks, I must do so without getting caught. Liam makes a big fuss about it otherwise (Apparently, he is already a sore loser! Haha!). He, on the other hand, gets to collects all the rocks he wants right under my nose! I honestly don’t have much choice in the matter unless I want to deal with an upset toddler. Thus, we play the game, and I try my best to be stealthy as we play.

So far, I have won a few games, but Liam has won quite a few too. I’m not too concerned by my losses, however. I know that I will have the final victory when all is said and done. It might take months or even years before this happens, but I will win in the end and claim the title of champion once and for all. It is only a matter of time.

Recently on one of our walks, I was thinking about how easy it is to still have collections as adults, and although they may seem more sophisticated than a pile of rocks, they can be equally as burdensome.

Anxiety. Worry. Fear. Insecurity. Guilt. Shame.

These are just a few that come to mind, but a person’s collection is certainly not limited to them. There are a number of things we can collect over time, and we don’t even need a walk around the park to find them. Life in general is enough to make these collections possible. Fortunately, God offers a solution to these burdens. It all comes down to casting our cares on Him.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

And similarly, in the New Testament:

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (Italics mine)

1 Peter 5:6-8

I don’t remember talking to my parents much about my problems growing up. I’m sure I did from time to time, but I was the middle of five children, and with all the busyness of living within a big family, there wasn’t a lot of time for one-on-one moments with them.

I had a great best friend, however. We met when we were eight years old, and as we got to know each other better over the following months and years, she learned to recognize when something was wrong with me.

Although my natural tendency was to want to hide my problems or push them aside, she wouldn’t let me. She was very insistent that I tell her what was upsetting me each time an issue arose. It took a lot of patience and persistence on her part, but eventually I would tell her what was bothering me.

Over the years, it got easier to tell her what was on my mind. She had proven to me time and again that I could trust her with my problems. She was willing to listen, and she was kind and understanding toward me whenever I told her what was wrong.

When I think of casting my burdens on the LORD, I am reminded of how well my friend listened to me and cared for me in those times. What really amazes me, however, is to recognize that the kindness, compassion, and care she showed me is just a tiny fraction of the kindness, care, and compassion that God has for you and me.

He longs for us to bring our concerns to Him. He already knows them in the first place. He’s completely aware of all the items we are carrying around in our adult version of a rock collection, and when we bring each piece to Him, He can help us to deal with each issue and ultimately be set free.

Although the world, our enemy, and our own sinful flesh would cause us to try to collect more burdens over time, let’s remember that we have a very real Ally that is willing and ready for us to cast our burdens on Him. We don’t have to add to our collections anymore. We can, in fact, dispose of them, and we don’t even have to be sneaky about it! No matter how long it may take to deal with our issues, and no matter how often they may arise, we can take heart in the fact that, in Christ, we will have the final victory when all is said and done. In the end, we will truly see that we have won because we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). But while we wait for that day when we will never know any burden again, let’s continue to cast the ones we have on God. Let’s get rid of some rocks today.

Follow Up Questions:

Do you have a friend like the one I described? If so, what makes it easy to share your problems with that person? How are those traits a glimpse of who God is and how He cares for us? Let’s pray that God would help us to recognize all the more how willing He is to listen to us and that we would be quicker to bring our problems to Him.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Liam woke up before 6 a.m. for a good chunk of the summer, and it was rough! The first week was especially brutal. I felt groggy most days and had to go to bed early out of sheer exhaustion.

With new nap problems on top of this, I didn’t have any time to myself. I didn’t write at all that first week, and I couldn’t find the opportunity to relax and unwind at the end of the day either.

A few weeks into our new “routine”, as I was battling my strong-willed boy to get his socks and shoes on so that we could go outside before it got too hot out, I found myself telling him how I didn’t need him to have a bad attitude. As it was, he woke me up too early again, and I was still irritated about it, so he better behave!

Not even a minute later, a familiar phrase came to mind.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

It comes from the following passage in Scripture:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

I immediately felt convicted. But to be quite honest, I felt slightly annoyed too. The truth is, I didn’t want to be convicted. I had already sacrificed so much for my son. Did I have to sacrifice my sleep and have a good attitude about it too?

I called my mom to talk about these issues, and as I expressed my frustration to her, she lent me a sympathetic ear and promised to pray. She also stated something she has told me before—that she believes God would use motherhood to refine me.

I’ll admit it’s not something I’ve wanted to hear. Being refined through parenting is painful! Fortunately, a friend and I have been reading through a book about motherhood for several months now, and one of the chapters in particular has helped me to see the process of refinement in a different light. It has caused me to recognize that I was seeing refinement through motherhood as a punishment when I needed to see it as a promise of better things to come.

In all reality, we must be refined if we are to be ready for greater ministry opportunities, responsibilities, or positions of influence in the future.

Just as a baby has to grow into childhood and then adulthood to enjoy certain activities and opportunities, we also must grow to enjoy and experience all that God has in store for us, and a lot of that growth will take place through refinement. Because of that, we need to see this process as a blessing and gift as we look forward to what God may have in store for us as a result.

I can’t say that I became an expert on graciously accepting the way God was refining me this summer, but I did learn a few things about how to keep no record of wrongs in the process. They are as follows:

Confess your feelings of resentment as they arise.

It was so helpful for me to do this. As I confessed my sinful attitude to God and asked Him to change me, He did. I wasn’t all the sudden the gracious, godly woman I wanted to be, but I was on the right track, so I kept confessing and asking God to work in me.

Set boundaries.

Keeping no record of wrongs doesn’t mean we accept any sort of beahvior or action from others. All relationships need boundaries in order to be healthy and thrive. Even relationships with toddlers.

After that first week of waking up between 5:30 a.m. to 5:45 a.m., I bought Liam an alarm clock that my friend (the one I’m reading the book with) recommended. It looks like a traffic light and is set to red during the child’s bedtime. It then turns green at the time that the child can get out of bed the next morning.

Although this alarm clock hasn’t kept Liam from waking me up, he’s making progress. Now he takes me back to his room for us to both lie down until the light turns green. It’s a huge improvement in my mind, and I also have to admit that I kind of love watching Liam get so excited over the light turning green each morning. It never gets old!

Learn to see the process of refinement as a blessing and gift.

I have a ways to go before humbly accepting the trials and hardships of life and truly seeing the process of refinement as a blessing and gift, but I want to get there. It’s something I need to pray for—that God will shift my perspective to see the goodness of such a “gift” as He prepares me for better things to come.

The best thing to come, of course, is becoming more like Jesus in the process. May He really help me (and us) to believe and long for that! Nothing else can compare to such a promise.

Liam is no longer waking up before 6 a.m., and I haven’t been struggling with resentment as much as a result. I’m sure it will someday rear its ugly head again, however, and I want to be ready to deal with it when it does. I’ll continue to pray that God shifts my perspective regarding refinement and that He’ll help me to love my family and others a little more like He does.

Ultimately, resentment and other wrong attitudes do me no good. So may God help me to choose forgiveness and kindness instead as I continue to learn what it means to keep no record of wrongs. And in the midst of these hard life lessons, may I choose to really believe that refinement is a blessing and gift that always comes with a promise—that the best is yet to come!

Sweeping Up Pine Cones

I was probably on Facebook when it happened. I confess I have been escaping to it far too often nowadays. I finished looking at the image on my screen, then I set my phone down and turned around to investigate the mysterious rustling noise that was following the pitter patter of my toddler’s footsteps.

I already knew he had a plastic bag by the sound of things. I headed toward the living room, fully prepared to tear it out of his hands and withstand the temper tantrum that would likely ensue. What I wasn’t accounting for was the cluster of pine cones strewn across the tile floor as I made my way towards my son. I had forgotten about the pine cones altogether up until that moment. A friend of mine had given them to me months ago when she learned I was making a wreath. Since I finished the wreath before she could give them to me, however, I stuck the bag in a desk drawer to save for another day—a Christmassy, craft-making sort of day. Unfortunately, Liam had other ideas.

I let out a slow, audible sigh as the familiar feeling of hopelessness perched on my shoulders and pressed down on me. I already felt exhausted by current news events. An added chore left me feeling overwhelmed. The one true glimmer of hope at the moment was that Liam was due for a nap, so I got him down and grabbed a broom, all the while trying to muster up some energy for the task at hand.

After picking up the pine cones, I swept up the remaining pieces. As unhappy as I was about the additional chore that day, I was grateful for the decision it caused me to make, which was this: I’m not going to feel bad for having a hard time keeping up with the housework. At least, I’m going to try not to feel bad about it anymore.

The pine cone incident was the vivid reminder I needed for what I already knew—that my cute little boy is sabotaging my housekeeping efforts. He does so by making a number of messes daily. He also does so by slowing down any progress I make towards a clean home, squirming his way in between me and the kitchen counters when I’m trying to clean them or whining to be held when I’m in the middle of vacuuming. And let’s not even mention the countless number of times he asks for another snack when I’m trying to wash the dishes or sweep the kitchen floor! It’s no wonder household chores can be so daunting!

I’ve read enough to know that I’m just supposed to say by now that I’ll embrace the mess because my kid won’t be young forever, and memories made with him are far more important.

I certainly want to make memories with him and am, but I can’t bring myself to embrace the mess. Instead, I find myself thinking of how productive I was before I had a child. Although JJ doesn’t seem to mind that our loveseat has currently become a permanent spot for the latest load of clean laundry or that the sink nearly always has dirty dishes in it, I find myself reminding him of my past glory years as well, the years when I accomplished so much! He nods, unsure of what to say, and I silently wonder what became of the woman I once was.

Recently, I have realized how unfair it has been to compare myself to the woman I once was. No one would promote a woman to a new role within her company and give her new responsibilities only to expect her to do her former full-time job along with the new one. In essence, this is the expectation I have placed on myself.  Granted, I can’t just promote myself out of the tasks of cleaning and cooking now that I’m a mom. They have followed me into this new role and are a part of it for me. Nonetheless, I can’t assume I should be able to continue at the same pace I did before having a child when the responsibilities, distractions, and obstacles are greater now than they ever were before. This is something I need to keep in mind when I feel a sense of self-disappointment rising up within me. I also need to show myself grace. Perhaps I don’t have to embrace the mess, but I can be a little more accepting of it and patient with myself as I recognize the challenges I face at this stage of motherhood.

Something else I have recognized is that I do a lot more than I give myself credit for. I’m sure this is true of most moms. At the end of the day, it’s easy to look at our list of chores (or simply the laundry-laden love seat, in my case) and to recognize what we didn’t accomplish. But we fail to remember all the tiny chores we did throughout the day—the yogurt we cleaned off the table and chairs after breakfast, the couch cushions we put back on the sofa several times after our little munchkins kept using them as a trampoline, and the water we wiped off the floor when our toddler insisted on drinking from an open cup. These are all such simple tasks, and yet the house would be a complete disaster if we chose to ignore them.

 Then, of course, there are the tasks we do throughout the day that aren’t a part of the housework but are very much a chore—a chore caused by our children. Some of the more interesting ones involve fishing forks out of the trash, or, worse yet, toys out of the toilet. Or maybe it’s picking out food from a child’s hair. Or the minute task of re-rolling the toilet paper onto its tube. We’ve probably done a lot more than we realize (or can even remember) when the day comes to an end.

As we head to bed and see all the tasks that we didn’t finish on our way, let’s remember our own moments of sweeping up pine cones. Our days are full of them. As such, let’s give ourselves grace over a messy home and accomplishing less of what’s on our to-do list, because we’re accomplishing more than we even realize.

Furthermore, let’s also recognize what all we have become in our role as mothers. We are not a shadow of the women we once were. We have become more than what we realize, and we are acquiring new skills all the time on this journey of motherhood.

What new skills have you acquired as a mom?

Although my son is only two, I can already think of a small (albeit silly) list of abilities that I have mastered. I have become proficient in the fine art of cutting grapes into quarters, for instance. Moreover, I’ve become such a good tickler that I believe Liam would rate me a ten out of ten if he knew how to count.

The interesting thing about motherhood is that, just as we master one skill, it’s time to lay it aside and figure out how to master a new one. Our roles as mothers are dynamic, always changing and requiring something new as our children change and grow. But we adapt to those changes. We become what our children need us to be.

Nonetheless, we often fail to see the wonder of our role as mothers. The mundane and monotonous moments of life tell us a different story. But they don’t have to be the voice we listen to.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things we could do for ourselves in this season of life is to ask God what He thinks of us in our role as moms. How does He specifically view you and me? And what does He want us to know about ourselves as we continue to take care of our children?

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Although we may not be getting any gifts from our children this year and perhaps have low expectations for the day, God can make it special for us. Whatever He reveals to us, in fact, could be the very best gift Mother’s Day gift that we could ever receive.

May God Grant You Sleep, My Child

Lyrics:
May God grant you sleep, my child
As you lie down in bed
May He remind you
He’s there right beside you
He’ll watch over you as you rest
He’s always near you
To comfort and shield you
May He grant you peace as you rest

Que Dios te guarde en paz
Al acostarte ya
Y que descanses en El tu refugio
El siempre contigo esta
El te protege y El te consuela
Descansa en toda su paz

I composed this song in December and started singing it to my son every night shortly after that. Little did I know how comforting it would be to me a few short months later. Liam is still too young to understand that we are facing a worldwide pandemic and that the widespread effects of this illness have reached every nook and cranny of society. I am thankful for that.

This song is for those parents whose children go to bed at night feeling afraid and anxious of an unknown future.

We have a Father who holds us in His hands and will never let go. Let’s rest in that tonight.

The Meaning Behind the Ornaments

The latest, still as a work in progress.

The year my husband JJ and I got married, I bought an ornament of two lovebirds painted on wood that depicted our first Christmas together as a married couple. The next year, a friend of mine made an ornament for me that said “Baby on the Way” since JJ and I were expecting. I also found an ornament that year portraying a pregnant woman, so I bought it. The following year, I bought an ornament which stated “Baby’s First Christmas” for our first Christmas with our son.

After so many Christmases of buying ornaments to represent each year, I can’t help but want to continue this tradition for years to come.

This year I wanted to buy an ornament in the shape of a heart but couldn’t find one, so I decided to make one instead. I have yet to finish it, but it’s a simple wooden heart that I painted red and will attach twine to so that I can hang it up. I’ll write the year on one side, and I’ll include the following verse on one side as well:

     “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalms 73:26

As I have mentioned in past posts, this year has been hard. Our son became ill toward the end of January and had to be admitted to the hospital for a couple of nights. Fortunately, he received treatment to counteract his illness and recovered quickly, but his health was affected nonetheless. As a result, he had to take medication daily and have follow up appointments with a specialist.

We have been very fortunate because Liam has lived a pretty normal life this year despite all of this. JJ and I have had to make some significant alterations in our activities, however, to ensure that Liam stays as healthy as he possibly can (if he were to come down with the flu while on his medicine, he could become seriously ill).

The biggest change of this year has been my attendance of a group for mothers with preschoolers and to church.

I had to stop attending the mothers of preschoolers group altogether because the group I was attending could not accommodate my son and me in our new set of circumstances. It was painful to have to leave that group since I had found so much support and encouragement in it as a new mom with a young child, but at the same time I saw how intentional God was in causing me to leave, so I have had to trust that He has a good purpose for it and that He has not been withholding goodness from me in taking that group away from me.

As far as church is concerned, JJ and I stopped attending for awhile. We would listen online as a couple, but it was hard to fully focus since Liam would be playing noisily beside us. By May, JJ and I agreed to start taking turns watching Liam every week so that the other could go to church.

In June, the flu season finally ended. Since my desire to go to church as a family was growing, I suggested to JJ that we pray about it. There was a measles outbreak by July, however, and since our son had not yet received his MMR vaccine (he would not be eligible to receive it until 11 months after the treatment he received at the hospital), going to church together as a family was no longer an option.

Needless to say, it has been a somewhat isolating year for me. There have been times when I have had to stay home for days on end so that I don’t expose Liam to germs. With no family in town and a husband who works long hours, this has made those days especially difficult. It has been easy to feel lonely and forgotten at different times throughout this year.

There have also been days of wondering why everything had to work out the way it was. Liam’s health seemed like a big knot that I couldn’t untie. The more I tried to “fix” things, the more I saw how God had ordained these events in our lives. Our circumstances and the complexity of them were just too precise for me to believe they were a coincidence. As much as I hated that at times and just wished that God would change things, I found a great amount of comfort in recognizing that God was in control of the situation and that He would bring us through it. This time in our lives was not in vain.

Last Wednesday, JJ and I took Liam to another doctor appointment. It was the first time this year in which I didn’t feel weepy the entire week before the appointment. I was kind of surprised by this but figured I was just getting used to our new reality. I imagined the results would be the same as Liam’s past appointments, but I was wrong. They were not the same.

Liam got sick when he was only 11 months old, and now 11 months later, we were hearing different results than what we had been told for the last 11 months. Liam was healed! God had healed him!

As soon as the doctor stepped out of the room, we hugged as a family and JJ kissed me and then Liam. Tears of joy were streaming down my face that afternoon, and it’s a moment I hope to never forget.

The doctor still wants Liam to continue taking his medicine as a precaution until his next (and perhaps final) appointment, so we will still need to take measures to protect Liam’s health for the time being. Nonetheless, God has brought us through the darkest moments of this ordeal, and we have hope for the future.

I am still unsure as to why these events were part of God’s plans for us this year. I can only imagine that the answers will unfold with time. I can say, however, that I believe more fully in God’s faithfulness today than I did a year ago. And I take less for granted than I did before as well.

Whatever God’s purposes have been for this past year, I pray I have learned and will continue to learn the things that God wants to teach me through it. God has given us such a beautiful Christmas gift this year in allowing us to see Liam restored to health. I know, however, that the lessons learned and the ways He has wanted to mature me this past year through these events are meant to be gifts as well, and I want to receive all the gifts God has in store for me.

The Three Trees

Photo by Roberto Nickson from Pexels

Liam and I recently worked on a craft project. My sister had given me two wooden blocks a long time ago, so I pulled them out and plopped  Liam up at the table with some non-toxic, green and red paint so that we could make some Christmas signs.

While Liam happily painted everything in sight (including his face), I was completely caught up in my own project, oblivious to the mess happening just to the side of me.

I started by painting my block green and had planned to paint “Merry Christmas” in red. Instead, I found myself using more of the green to make Christmas trees.

It didn’t take long to finish the project, and as I stared down at the three trees on my wood block, I couldn’t help but think of a children’s story I had read years earlier about three trees.

The full story is worth the read (and you can find it here:  https://bible.org/illustration/story-three-trees), but here’s a summary as well:

There were three young trees that had big dreams for when they grew up. One wanted to be made into a treasure chest to hold great treasure. Another wanted to be a big and powerful boat to take great kings across the sea. And the third simply wanted to stay put and grow tall, pointing up to heaven and reminding people of God.

The trees grew up and the first tree was chopped down and taken to a carpenter. But instead of becoming a treasure chest, she was transformed into a feeding box for animals, covered in dust and full of hay. But one day a couple came and laid their baby in this manger, and the tree knew in that moment that she was holding the greatest treasure of all.

The second tree got excited when he was taken to a shipyard. But instead of being made into a strong ship, he was converted into a small sailing boat. But one day, when the boat was caught in a bad storm, one of the weary travelers in the boat caused the storm to cease, and the boat then knew that he was carrying the King of kings.

The third tree felt confused when she was made into wooden beams and left in a lumberyard. After much time had passed, she was yanked out of the lumberyard and marched in front of a jeering crowd. A man was then nailed to her, and she felt even uglier and colder than before. But on the third day, the earth rejoiced, and she somehow knew that that man had changed everything and that ultimately people would think of God when they thought of her, which was better than any other dream.

Thinking about this story that day made me think about how much I could relate to the trees. Ever since I was a little girl, I had dreamed about becoming a wife and mother and how great it would be. But just as the second tree did not become the boat he thought he would be, I am not the mom (or wife) I thought I’d be. I have been the small sailboat who isn’t so sure she can handle the big storms of life.

In all honesty, I have faced disappointment in this role just like each tree did in theirs. I feel disappointed with myself in so many ways. I feel it when I think of how little time I’ve spent planning Liam’s meals for the day or when I let him watch another T.V. show because he’s whining and I’m busy getting lunch ready. I also feel disappointed by how messy the house generally is and how hard it is for me to keep up with chores. I feel disappointed by how unproductive I am as well when it seems like staying home should allow me to be all the more productive.

Not only am I disappointed by my own faults but also by my circumstances at times. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom to Liam and enjoy so many moments with him throughout the day (I can almost hear him giggling right now as I write this and think of all our tickle wars). Nonetheless, it’s hard to accept how monotonous and mundane life is right now, and how meaningless it feels.

But I know I don’t have to live in that disappointment. I know I can live my life in a meaningful way. The beauty of the story of the three trees is that, although they didn’t become what they had wanted to, their dreams were nonetheless fulfilled in different ways, and their lives had become meaningful because Jesus had been a part of them.

Although motherhood is proving to be a very different journey than what I had anticipated, I recognize today that something greater than my dreams is fulfilled in it and it is more meaningful than what I could have ever imagined it to be when I allow Jesus to be a part of it. And that, my friend, is better than any other dream.