When you think you can’t do this anymore

I scratch out these words with fingers trembling –

With this deep ache to get real and raw and vulnerable but just not knowing how.

I. Am. Afraid.

Weeks into the new year and I’m already shaking, slipping, shattered.

Maybe it’s the aching realization that I’m just not cut out for this anymore.

When You Don't Know if You Can Do This Anymore

Some boy just about burst my eardrum this morning when asked to clean his room.

Two girls fussed loud over who would get to set the table.

Some girl hit her sister upside the head for pouring juice (for the love).

And, yeah, this mama may or may not have squirted toothpaste all over the bickering coming from the bathroom. (And I wonder where these daughters of mine get all their senseless drama.)

For the truth is we all just keep falling around here – getting all busted and banged up.

And it terrifies me.

can't do this anymore

when you think you can't do it anymore

I lie in bed wondering if I’ll ever be enough, or if I’ll ever get it right, or if anyone will ever really understand me.

How could these broken pieces of me ever be enough to be the mom of this blue-eyed beauty with rosy cheeks and crusty-ness all down her face? To be enough to be the mama of all these awesome, loud, beautiful, crazy kids (and the dreamer of adopting even more)? To be enough to be this wife, to write these words, to hold these friendships, to disciple these women?

I’ll never be enough.

And how in the blazes could I ever get it right, when not only do I keep floundering, but a lot of the time I can’t figure out what right even is!?

There are articles praising this parenting technique and another criticizing it painstakingly. There are those insistent on the evils of vaccinations and others who are insistent on the evils of not vaccinating. There are concerns about plastic containers and too much sugar and what kinds of diapers to use and breast vs. bottle and helicopter parenting and schooling choices and if moms should work or stay at home and I could go on and on and on. There are voices adamant about saying this, doing this, being this – and voices advocating against those very same things.

So I try to do the best I can and finally make my choice – only to get home and read the top twelve reasons why that was not the right decision.

It’s mind boggling and confusing and enough to make my heart spin.

I’ll never get it all right.

And how can I possibly encourage you (sweet mamas and readers and friends and women) when I’m so ridiculously worried about what y’all think of me with my arms all flailing? Or in whatever I happen to be wearing? Or if maybe, just maybe, I happen to be gliding peacefully?

Because us women too often have a way of twisting words and judging hastily and cowering in offended corners and measuring ourselves against the world surrounding. If they do something better than us, we either raise them up high from which they can only fall, or we get our axes to swinging and chopping.

But I can assure you that my life is filled to the top with crazy beautiful and lots of horribly messy. And letting you peek inside is sometimes just really hard and scary.

So I measure, and I doubt, and I get too self-conscious.

It’s this fear that I didn’t even recognize that’s crept in and left me frozen and thinking I. JUST. CAN’T. DO. THIS. ANYMORE.

sledding kids

falling

But it’s when I’ve fallen frozen and flat on my face – that all I can do is shift my gaze up.

And the whole world spins like this movie where the camera does one of those wide sweeps around, and finally you get to see glorious understanding.

Because the truth is when I stop fixing my eyes on myself and instead fall on my face before Him, that’s when I can truly see – there in all the melting tears and snot dripping down.

It’s not about if I’m enough! For the truth is that I will never be enough, but the one true God is always enough.

And the power of God working in me will forever be enough – more than enough – to take that shaky step forward, to make that phone call, to wake with that babe, to ask forgiveness, to speak truth, to write those words, to have joy in the drama, to share my heart, to cover my sins, to smile when he comes home from days in a row working…

For this role, for this job, for this season – at 2am with the preschooler who can’t sleep, at 7:30am when there’s already bickering loud, at 5pm when the house is just crazy.

And it’s okay if we come with weakness and trembling, if we don’t know what we’re doing, and though we try, we just keep failing.

Jesus didn’t come to save those who have it all together.

Praise God! For there’s not one of us that’s perfect – we’re just all in the process of being perfected.

And, sure, there may be thousands doing it better, more gracefully.

But all of us with thawing hearts know it’s not about us anyways. It’s only ever all about Him –

Him and His promises.

Him and His faithfulness, goodness, and truth.

Him and His sweet grace in and around and through everything.

When You Can't Do This Anymore

God’s chipping away at these frozen parts of me. It’s painful and raw and yet so beautiful – even if I may still be shaking.

To Moms Everywhere – what you need to hear this Christmas

To you moms everywhere, at Christmas –

I see you sweet mama with hair in a messy bun and icing on your cheek as you stand in last year’s Christmas pajamas clattering out bowls as cereal gets dumped to overflowing – feeling this crazy concoction of being amazingly blessed and fiercely terrified right at this moment.

You, the mother of that little one whose feet came plodding in at dawn’s early light with tears streaming down because her tummy hurt, or she had a bad dream, or her pajamas were all twisted, or her brother smiled at her, or the night before you wouldn’t let her eat the toxic ice she was licking off the parking lot.

ice

winter fun

on the ice

You, the mother of a newborn who was up at all hours of the night to nurse or rock or walk circles or rip off layers of bedding in a panic searching for that babe amidst the downy covers only to find him swaddled all safe in his bassinet sleeping soundly for those fifteen minutes between feedings.

You, the mama who’s spent hours on knees over one who was sick or one who can’t seem to make friends or one sitting behind slammed doors or one who didn’t make it home in time for curfew. Again.

You, the mom wiping off crumbs and glitter-covered hands and picking up broken-heart pieces and scrubbing smelly toilets and gunky floors and re-folding laundry that got dumped again and finding lost mittens and paying endless bills and vacuuming pine-needles and chauffeuring to appointments and packing the lunches and pushing that gigantic mini-van of a cart at the grocery store and thanking God that Amazon Prime has two-day shipping.

You, the mom with gifts all wrapped and a gorgeous tree not toppling over. And you, the mom who cringes at all things artsy.

You, the mom who is lonely, misunderstood, frazzled, empty.

You, in whatever stage of motherhood you find yourself in – with one kid or twenty, with diapers or drivers, at home or working, next door or across oceans. You, with the weight of eternity on your shoulders.

You.

falling on ice

winter joys

I want to speak to the secret places of your heart and let you to know that what you are doing has great significance.

This pouring out of self. This shaping of souls.

Giving of time and energy and smiles and tears and prayers and bravery and love – all tied together in a regular day of motherhood. Mixed with piles of dishes and counters covered in crumbs and sloshy hats, coats, mittens, socks, boots… thrown all over and arguments needing refereeing and deadlines to meet and a husband to love and semi-nutritious meals made out of leftovers and dirty diapers to be changed and finishing those last minute gifts for the teachers and trying hard to not fall too far behind on the advent reading – all to begin again when the sun comes up in the morning, or at 4am when that little one comes knocking.

And maybe you won’t hear it anywhere else, but I want you to know that through the big and the oh so tiny – your thoughtful, beautifully unique, passionate love is tilting hearts toward Jesus.

winter

winter time

And it may not look awe-inspiring. And everyone else may seem to do it better.

But don’t believe the lies that the mom next door – because she’s always smiling and bakes organic goodies for all the neighbors and has a beautifully decorated house with a nativity that does not include one lopsided-glued-back-together baby Jesus (ahem) – has it all together. Because she’s probably staring out the window wondering how you do what you do when she’s not sure how to make it through till tomorrow. And I promise she’s not doing it all either.

Oh, I know you’ve messed up. I mess up every day too. Maybe you’ve spoken too harshly or given in to the whines. Maybe you’ve been too strict or too lenient or too stifling or too inattentive. Maybe you’ve had that tantrum on the floor right next to your three-year old or teenaged daughter.

Or maybe it’s been one of those days that are just plain hard, and although you wouldn’t trade anything for this life as a mom, the only thing stopping you from fleeing from the mess of it all is that your husband hid the keys in this blustery weather – that, and you are just so beautifully stubborn.

But let me remind you that Jesus did not come to those who were good enough and had it all together, but to those who needed him – the broken, the sick, the lonely, the lost, the sinners.

The beauty comes, dear mama, when you call to God with all your blunders and bruises and scars still tender to the touch. As you lean on Him as you get back up again and again and again, allowing God to work mightily through your weakness. And as you pour out those little acts of love that you think go unseen, but have great importance.

winter goodness

But maybe you can’t see it – this love all sparkling. Because in the monotony, chaos, and stunningly small, it can be easy to miss the grace flowing.

In the drippy noses wiped.
In the good morning hugs.
In the bundling everyone up to go outside for all of three minutes.
In the kissing feverish heads.
In the waiting at the bus stop.
In the scrounging for pennies to buy that one small present.
In the baking Christmas cookies with frosting and sprinkles because you know it’s their favorite.
In the making of those same cookies without gluten, eggs, soy or dairy.
In the cleaning up of hot-chocolate spills.
In the help putting away toys.
In the band aids put on invisible owies and ice upon little heads.
In the stools pushed up against counters to help.
In the books countless times read.
In the getting up in the middle of the night because the baby will not sleep.
In the staying up past midnight to soothe a heart break.
In the pillows thrown in piles to make a fort on the floor.
In the believing in your child when all else have given up.
In the praying that reaches over phone lines and across continents.
In the working for hours far away or right there in your home.
In the waiting ten minutes or ten hours to sweep or return that call, just so you can listen.
In the taking their hand and guiding them in how to write their name.
In the showing them and tenderly training them in how to behave.
In the tears shared and smiles given.
In the pictures hanging on the fridge.
In the Bible stories, and maybe even advent readings, and the tucking into bed.
In the love notes squeezed under pillows and into hearts forever.

Maybe it’s in the whispered words, “I’m sorry.”
The way you humbly show you need Jesus too.
And maybe it’s the words that say, “I love you, and I’m blessed to be your mama, and though it is hard and messy, I would always choose you!”

it's winter

You, mama on the other side of the screen,

Right where you are at,

Going through blessings or heartaches or just plain monotonous days of happy, sad, whining, giggling, demands, and struggles –

As you delight in your children – tenderly, affectionately, passionately loving –

You are a valued tool in the hands of God

Tilting whole worlds to the good news of Jesus.

And you can see them, this glistening of love all sparkling –

Lighting up the street and all through the darkness.

When the World is a Mess at Christmas

when the world is a mess at Christmas

Ten days before Christmas and it gets to feeling like the whole wide world is crumbling all around you. Squabbles over red cups drown out the songs of a Savior. And the tones of the bell ringers ring muffled by anger rising in the streets. And although it seems quite trivial, I never did print […]

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What I Want You to Know on Your 11th Birthday

what I want you to know on your birthday

I don’t know where in this crazy world those eleven years of giggles and laundry and pigtails and snuggles and reading stories together and nighttime prayers have gone. But somehow you sweet beauties that made me a mama will blow out your eleven birthday candles tonight. And though my heart is about to burst with […]

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When Grieving for My First Baby

When Grieving for My First Baby

A dozen years since that day I crumpled to the floor. Tears streaked all blotchy and lungs gasped fighting for one more stale breath. Twelve years. But the semblance of having a baby ripped right out from the inside still leaves its ache. It was the first time in our marriage that we had to […]

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Our 2nd & 4th Grade Curriculum – one of my best homeschooling decisions yet

2nd-and-4th-graders.jpg

Every once in a while I can feel it amidst the days and weeks and months of late night hours spent agonizing and praying my heart out over every little detail of schooling at home. There’s this glimmer of unmistakable hope and joy and this flashing neon sign saying maybe I am doing something right […]

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Our 5th Grade Curriculum (Resurrection to Reformation) – and what we think so far

Heart-of-Dakota-Resurrection-to-Reformation.jpg

We’re in our sixth year of schooling at home. And it’s so much like other motherhood feats. There’s having everyone in the house all day long with piles of books stacked high in the way of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and little ones under foot while attempting a Science experiment. There’s an English book that […]

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Anyone else wish time would slow down a bit? (School Pictures 2015-2016)

favorite-school-picture-2015.jpg

Sometimes you don’t know where you’ve been until you turn around and marvel at the moments turned days and years behind you. At how half a dozen kids in just as many years would grow in a blink. At how the reading about history while nursing a babe and the tears and furrowed brow over […]

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Colossians – Bible Studies & Family Bible Times for the whole family

Colossians - Bible Studies and Family Bible Times

A summer’s worth of days spent in these words scratched out centuries ago, and I know my heart won’t ever be the same. It was this awe-filled glory found in moments carved out and tucked in between picnics and pillow forts and that mountain of laundry. And though the pages in my Bible have turned, […]

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The Day She Turned Six!

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I’m not sure where in this crazy world those half a dozen years of giggles and snuggles and sweet love have gone. But somehow this happened – the day you woke up and one hand was no longer enough to show the entirety of your little girl years. And you were all big smiles and […]

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