"I find myself wondering again and again what it would be like actually to live every moment of one's life with an awareness of God..." D. Allen

May 17, 2012

Living in the Now: Mom's Heart, Part 2

Celebrating motherhood, I'm excited to share some perspective from my own mom.  She is a super hero rock star in her own right, and gave me the best mother's day gift this year by compiling a few stories and advice. Read more about her background here. Part 2 gives you a glimpse of our average--but most meaningful--practical, daily moments. Her real life experience blesses me, and I hope encourages you.  I'll let her tell you the story herself:

Some super practical, totally true favorite moments we spent with Mom.
We are on a journey together, whether young or grown, dealing with the truth of our hearts. Our hearts are the wellspring of life. God desires our hearts to be devoted to Him. Loving isn’t all about us, but is all about others and the Lord. He gives us the greatest joy in this process.
I believe that caring for children, nurturing them to adulthood, is a precious journey. Some seasons are full of trials, others are more smooth sailing. I’ve learned to grasp the joy in a moment. I can be impulsive, spontaneous. If the day was pretty and I could we’d grab an opportunity. If it was cold and cloudy, we’d grab another. Many times, it depended on my mood (sorry kids). 

Each year in the fall, after a hard freeze, the trees really let go of their leaves. On the first windy, sunny, cool day after, we’d grab the cast iron skillet, some bacon and potatoes, and head to make a fire in the back yard. I’d send some kids to search for wild onions while getting a fire going with others. Then we’d lay in the yard on our backs, watching the leaves fall, while smelling our feast cooking. Sometimes we’d talk, other times, just peaceful quiet. (as the boys got older…we had more ‘interesting’ times around the fire, but that is another story)

We’d go to the library often. Then come home with our stacks of treasures, I mean books. We’d sit in the living room around the woodstove, with everybody content to be in their own world.  

Other times, we’d read chapter books together around that woodstove, drinking hot tea from the kettle on top. It gave me time to rest and feed an infant while snuggling with my older kids. If we didn’t have a fire, we’d light a candle. Fidgety children would draw pictures or fall asleep. It was peaceful, and we enjoyed a lot of stories together (I do like a good story).

A blessing in disguise, we didn’t have very good reception on our TV, so we watched other things a lot…sitting on the front porch watching a storm roll in, huddling around a closet watching a litter of kittens being born, watching baby chicks scurry to see who can get the grasshopper first (one of our favorite things to watch!), fireflies, the flame of a fire, all very peaceful and better than any TV show, in my opinion.

We’d head out for walks together on foot, or taking turns on our patient pony. That led to some good conversation, or comfortable quiet together. We’d camp on our property (lots easier than going away!), play board games, look through old photos and home videos, and play lots and lots of games.

We’d head to the lake to swim. Swimming is one of my favorite things, so I’d drag the kids along whether they liked it or not. We’d catch all kinds of living critters, ride in the canoe, and bring junk food for picnics.

Sometimes we’d just get the urge to make a big batch of pudding for supper…skip the main dish and go straight for the desert. And every Sunday evening we were home, we’d make lots of popcorn for supper.  

Things I wish I had done: Listen to their hearts more, draw them out, ask questions about what they were thinking, what they loved, etc. Spend purposeful time with one child on a regular basis. Cherished one child.

Somewhere in there, some of the kids grew up, finished their education, and are on their own now. They know my failures well. Thankfully, they don’t expect me to be perfect. 

We need to share our failures with them, to be vulnerable and human. Help model before them what is real, not what is in the magazines or TV shows. Real humanity, real sin, a real need for forgiveness. When we mess up, admit it and apologize, learn from each other’s mistakes, humility and forgiveness. They learn from our example, not our perceived perfection. Laugh, play, work, cherish.

In the picture of reality of our home, there was bickering, dirt, messes, chaos, endless dirty laundry, a never ending to do list, strife. But more than that, the laughter, family, friends, working and playing together, a bottomless amount of love, loyalty, forgiveness, balances it very well. It is on this journey of life that God does His work in our hearts. I’ve learned to be real, to give myself permission to be human (with my gifts and shortcomings), to stand with someone who is struggling, have people stand by me, to choose to see God’s many blessings, and enjoy them. To teach my children about deeper things of the heart. It is because of our humanity that Christ died for us.

The most important thing to me is to show my children that God loves us as we are, He redeems us. The striving can cease. We don’t have to get cleaned up before coming to him. We don’t have to ‘be’ anything else but who He has made us to be. I want to teach my children that to love the Lord isn’t to be perfect, but to follow Him.

 I believe that we need to know that we can fail and be loved. I think our children need to know this too. That their value isn’t what they ‘do,’ it is in who they are, who God has created them to be. Part of our jobs as mothers is to help them discover who that is, asking questions, and cultivating their gifts. Choosing to love when it is tough. My children have loved me and continue to love me when I am unlovable. 

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