Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Not Enough for This

Guess what! 

Yep, it's true.  We have a little one on the way!        

Announcing Baby #3 feels so very different from announcing 1 and 2.  I suppose that's because my emotions surrounding this pregnancy have been markedly different.  Don't misunderstand, I'm thrilled. Really truly thrilled.  But I'm also experiencing a healthy dose of fear.   

With the first baby, I was filled with dillusions of baby bliss and then sucker punched with the reality of having a human life utterly dependent on clueless me.  With baby #2, I was still dillusional, thinking, "I've done this already, so surely this time will be easier."  Wrong.  It was harder.  So this time around I have no hopes of an easy baby.  I'm expecting reality.  That's where the fear comes in.  Three kids in four and a half years??  Oh, yeah, and throw in the trans-global moves in there too.  Am I nuts?  I fear this will push me beyond the limits of myself, that the waves will overwhelm me, each day a drowning of it own.  How's that for optimistic?     

Pride whispers tauntingly in my ear, “Others have done it. Aren't you as strong as they are?”

I want to shout back, “But I'm NOT AS STRONG AS I NEED TO BE.” I know myself. I know my weakness. I know the fear and the funks that grab hold of me. And I know...I am not enough for this.

When I breathe out that truth I can almost hear the lie deflating.  For so long I've believed the lie that I am able.  It's failed me again and again.  Yet somehow I always pick it up and tuck it back deep inside.  I commit to that which I believe I'm capable of, and when I start to flounder, I chant to myself, "I can do this.  I can do this." 

Perhaps for the first time in my life I know already.  I CANNOT.  I am not enough for this.  To mother these three.  To live out this life of ours. 

"At last, you know" I hear Him breathe into me.  Pause and wait.  And then His truth pours in.

Clinging to the outer skin of my weak flesh, my ableness, I will fall, drowning in the swirling waters, gasping desperately for breaths of peace and contentment.

Clinging to the inner core of my Spirit, the One who resides in me and has already made me complete, already given me everything I need, I will breathe life.  Bear life.  Mother this life.

Only in You, Lord.  Only ever in You.   

In the letting go of my ableness, in this space of brokeness and surrender, I can find the yoke that is easy, the burden that is light.  Mine is hard and heavy.  Why have I clung to mine and resisted this trade? 

There is joy all around.  Gifts, abudant and full, bursting forth in this messed up, gorgeous world.

Gift - that with one simple, beautiful act this life came to be.  Who am I to be deemed with such power?  

Gift - that I am home to one whose days are ordained, whose life is set apart, whose essence is fearfully and wonderfully being knit together by the Knitter's needles. 

Gift - that I heard the music of a newly beating heart.  That I saw tiny hands waving out, "I am here.  I am me.  I am coming.  And I will forever change you."

So, here's my announcement:   I'm pregnant!  A third little life is being bestowed into mine.  I'm an incapable, not-enough mother who is flinging wide the doors of my surrendered heart to welcome this life into joyfilled existence.  Expected arrival: late August.           


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meet the Piecaken

We have a dessert dilema in our home.  Aaron likes cake.  I like pie.  Aaron believes it's a birthday abomination to blow out candles on a pie, since birthdays were clearly intended for white cake and white icing.  Bleh.  If you're going to go with cake, at least make it chocolate!  

We have each been shamelessly trying to coerce our children into liking our preference. Ellie is clearly on my chocolaty side, smart girl.  The pie vs. cake thing is still a toss up. Until the day we saw the piecaken (also spelled "picaken").  It's been a recent internet phenomenon started on pinterest and made popular by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.  When Aaron saw it, he said, "THIS is the solution to our problem!"  And thus I knew a piecaken was in my future.  

So basically you impregnate a cake with a pie.  You take any pie and any cake (the options are endless).  I chose the triple berry pie to go with, what else?  Triple chocolate cake. Here's my piecaken story.  

Step 1:  Make a pie
Strawberry, raspberry, blueberry.  Trifecta.  Also a big hit for my berry lovin' girl. 

Step 2:  Bake the pie
Don't leave out this step, or you will have an ooey gooey mess on your hands.

Step 3:  Make cake batter
I used a cake mix. Cringe.  I still don't have a chocolate cake recipe I'm in love with (please share if you do).  And I'm in America where cake mixes are cheap, and for goodness sakes, I just made a pie from scratch.  

Step 4:  Impregnate cake with pie  
Get a spring form pan, put a layer of cake batter in it, then take your perfectly good pie perfection, hold your breath, and plop it in the cake batter.  Take a minute to cry.  Then pour more cake batter on top.  Then bake it.  For a really long time.  


Step 5:  Frost it
This step may or may not have involved me making hot fudge with coconut milk (YUM!) for the chocolate frosting and then dumping half of the hot fudge on myself and my kitchen floor.  Wish it wasn't so.  Thankfully the other half was all I needed to make the frosting.    


Step 6:  STOP
If you know what's good for you, you will at this point, stop and eat this sucker.  If you are, however, slightly insane and have a four-year-old daughter's birthday coming, proceed to the next step.

Step 7:  Fondant it!
Make your own marshmallow fondant and spend hours doing something like this.  


Step 8:  Let your kid thoroughly enjoy each step of the process
The reason I started the tradition of crazy fondant cakes for my kids' birthdays is that Ellie gets super excited about them.  And I've found making edible art strangely satisfying.  It helped that upon completion of the piecaken, Ellie declared, "Oh, Mommy, I am so pleased with this cake!"  So pleased?  Who says that?  

Step 9:  Totally lose your mind, pack up your piecaken, and transport it on a five-hour car trip
Like I said, if you're smart, you will stop at step 6.  

Step 10:  Finally, blow out the candles and enjoy!      


Happy 4th Birthday, my sweet girl!  

Step 11:  Go Work Out 
Yeah, I have yet to complete this step....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Letter To My Son After I Let Him Fall on His Face

Oh Son,

Time freezes frame by frame. We're stepping out the door, you riding your little toddler train. Your nose is running, always running. I step back inside to grab you some tissue, the thought flitting through my mind, “I shouldn't leave him.” But I did. Just for an instant. I come back and see you sister's face, panic plastered on. Her hands cover her ears, her tell tale sign of fear. A hand clenches round my heart. And then I look toward those two steps. I see your feet in the air, your face in the cement. The hand wrenches my heart tight. I bend low, my spirit lower, and scoop you up. I lift and turn to see your pain, blood running down.

“Oh, God. Oh, God” the prayer, the plea escapes my lips. To turn back time. Your screams pierce my gut. My mind sees your little train start to roll toward the steps, you not knowing how to stop. And where is Mom, the stopper of disaster? She was not there, and the guilt shatters me through.

I pick a piece of your tooth from your bloody chin. Let it not be so. Oh, to take your pain, to make it all mine. My tears flow free.

It's two days later now. Doctor and dentist consulted, you're going to be fine. I'm not so sure about me. Your front teeth are too tender to bite down, but you're learning to manage. You're a tough little man. You're already back on your train, daring adventurer not to be daunted.

Your scabs are healing. But there's that chipped tooth, nothing to be done. There to remind me of how I failed you. 

Maybe you'll read this one day, and I think I'm being a bit dramatic.  (That's a comforting thought.)  And perhaps this is all a bit dramatic, but in the moment there's nothing non-dramatic about a bloody screaming child.  These are my true mother feelings welling up within.  And this letter is my way to deal with it.     

In this morning's waking moments, you buried your head in my neck, your heart against mine, your hand so gently rubbing my shoulder. There you rested content, so full of trust and grace, at home in my arms. My heart overflowing with gratitude and breaking with unworthiness.

For I know I will fail you again in this life, and I cannot bear the thought. For not all of life's mistakes are made on baby teeth. But please, please know my heart for you.   

And may your beautiful heart always flow with such grace and love.  It may not matter to you now, but I want to always ask for your forgiveness when I fail you.  So Son, please forgive me for letting you fall on your face. 

Gratefully unworthy for a gift such as you,


***Any thoughts on failing our children?***

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Practices of Mothering

When I first heard about the Practices of Parenting Carnival, I thought, "Hmm, great idea.  But I won't be contibuting."  It was one of those mothering days when survival is the goal, and having anything extra to offer, much less advice about parenting (as in I know what I'm doing, so let me tell you), just isn't in the realm of possibility.

But today is a new day.  While I still don't know what I'm doing, there are a few precious pillars of motherhood that I have come to cling to that I wish someone had told me earlier on in my journey.  So in an effort to maybe save someone out there some of the tears I shed and the hair I pulled out (figuratively), here are four of my own practices of mothering that have helped me to survive and enjoy motherhood. 

Build Your Tribe
We're not meant to mother alone.  Period.  I think sometimes in our effort to be all the women, independent, throwin' our hands up and whatnot, we decieve ourselves into thinking that we can figure this mothering thing out on our own.  Asking for help is to admit we're one of those women that got gyped when it came to the natural wiring of womanhood that just instinctively knows how to handle babies.  But anyone that has gone down this road of independence knows how miserable it is.

Pinned Image
Source: via Danielle on Pinterest

So we must build a tribe.  If you're like me, you have this picture of your ideal support network, bosom friends all hungry to eat the meat of life together, all within walking distance, all with the same parenting styles.  Right?  And if, like me, you don't have that, you get all woe is me. Building your tribe may mean redefining your tribe.

My life is very transitory, full of hellos and goodbyes, too many goodbyes. Sniff.  And my hardest motherhood seasons coincide with my lonely seasons.  I've learned that instead of pining away for my ideal tribe, I've got to redefine it.  Open myself up to what is available, no matter how less than ideal it is.  And I've got to remember that community is worth the effort.  Worth the two hour bus and taxi trip across the city to meet with other moms.  Worth cleaning the house and fixing the meal to have the new friends over.  Worth being totally vulnerable and inviting myself into a group.

My ideal tribe also doesn't involve cyber friends.  I prefer the real life ones I can hug.  But the blogger community that I have immersed myself in has been food for my soul.  Amazing women like Sarah Bessey, Laura Parker, Jamie Wright, and Ann Voskamp wouldn't know me if they saw me on the street, but daily they open their lives and let me in.  I laugh and cry with them through their days and am inspired to grow and encouraged to know...I am not alone.

Find Your Style
Maybe you're early on in your journey and you've started parenting a certain way, not even realizing it's a style.  It's just what everyone around you is doing and so that must be how to parent.  But it feels like you're stuffing your foot into a shoe that doesn't fit.  There is no magical glass slipper where you and your babies are happy ever always, but maybe you need to find a new shoe.  There are other ways to parent, styles that may fit your personality and the weave of your soul in a much better way.  So throw off that darn shoe and try something else.  When I did that, my husband, my baby and I all took a collective sigh of relief.
Pinned Image
Source:  via Ria Runkee on Pinterest

Have a Nook
In every home we've had (and there have been many), I've had what I call my "nook," a place that is slightly, sometimes very slightly away from the chaos of the rest of the house, a place where I escape to feed and rest my soul.  I may have to dodge hanging laundry or climb over bikes and scooters to get to my nook, I may have to shamelessly pop in a Veggie Tales and/or bounce the baby's bouncy chair with one foot while in my nook, but regardless, I find time to be in my nook.  Because without it I shrivel.  With it my kids get a mom who is more in love with my Father and ready to mother that love into them.     

Rest Your Soul
When the first baby arrived, the luxury of a "day off" each week became about as realistic as a full night's sleep.  We eventually worked our way into shifts on the weekends that provided each of us with something of a break.  When another kid popped out and there were now two humans demanding our constant care, we sort of gave up trying to have time off in an effort to keep everyone fed, clothed and not screaming while attempting to meet all our other obligations.  But as parents, as a couple, and as individuals my husband and I began to wither.

But then we had some very wise people speak into our lives, and remind us that God created our bodies and our souls with an innate need for rythmns of rest.  To thrive as a family, we had to find this rythmn.  We chose a day to disengage from our to-do list, to pull out leftovers and paper plates, to put in an extra Veggie Tales, to take a nap, to find that which is life-giving for us as individuals and as a family.   We know we have freedom from the law, but sometimes in throwing out the practices of the law, we throw out the heart of the law.  Sabbaath rest was meant for your heart and mine.  It just got so shackled and distorted with legalism that we threw the whole idea out.  For me that phrase "life-giving" was invigorating.  It wasn't about making a list of all the things we wouldn't do in order to Sabbath rest.  It was about finding what gives us life.    Weekly rest has breathed vitality into our weary bones.  No matter how hard it seems to make weekly rest happen, it's harder to live without it.  Mamas, we all know how desperately our souls are longing for rest.  We've got to stop saying it isn't possible and make it happen.          

Pinned Image
                                                  Source: via Danielle on Pinterest

So there you have it.  My four practices.  Without these, well, I don't even want to imagine.... With these practices I'm finding my way and most days even rejoicing in the ride.

Here's to you and your own beautiful walk in this soul-forming, heart-wrenching, joy of motherhood.


What do you do to survive and enjoy parenting?  Do tell.