Last year, while outside playing with Clara, she was looking down being very curious but she reached up for my hand – she never looked up to see if it was going to be there she just reached up and took it. For her it was an automatic, that I was there and that my hand, her safety and security would be there. And, of course as a mother, I was right there with my hand dangling ready to catch her or to just hold her.
Later that night as I put her to bed and realized how much this little person depended on me but never questioned my presence, never worried that I would be there for her, and continually reached for me – it made me think of my relationship with God. Do I really believe that He is standing next to me with His hand out, just waiting on my little hand to grasp His? Did I really believe that He cared about my small problems, the equivalent of Clara’s scraped knee, or nearly imaginary boo-boo? At the time I don’t know that I did. I think more than a year ago –I would have said that God has so much on His plate, people are in so much more hurt than me, that whatever I was dealing with was like a skinned knee –yes it hurts right now but it will be fine.
I think part of the hurt I am experiencing is God trying to teach me that He is My Father. That he has been there all this time with His hand outstretched just waiting on me to grasp it. Waiting on me to bring my skinned knee and not shrug it off as a small hurt. My child doesn’t, she wants kisses and love for every little bump or scratch. I have always known God – but partly reserved Him for the bigger stuff. Shrugging Him off as too busy to really care about my day-to-day needs.
But this year to get through each day, to keep it on the rails as I have said a time or two, I need Him every day with the big and the little with the depression, anxiety, insecurity, loneliness, heartache, worry, etc. He wants me to know that He cares about everything I am going through and not to minimize my situation just because it isn’t as big or as scary as someone else’s. Just as we can’t compare our homes or our children –we can’t compare our struggles. What I am facing, is big to me, just as what someone else is facing.
So on days when things seem too much – I pray the childlike prayers that Clara has taught me.
Lord, thank you for this day and help me serve you today.
God our Father, We give thanks, for our many blessings Amen
Be with me through this night, please keep me in your gracious sight, watch over me while I sleep, please give me rest and perfect peace. Amen
Our prayers don’t have to be eloquent or elaborate to catch His attention. They only have to be sincere, given with an open heart and with an outstretched hand to our Father. He is waiting.
Many of you moms may have been listening to your local christian radio station this week. Many of you may have even heard the same discussion about parenting and marriage priorities that I heard. When the discussion first came on air I have to admit my mind was hundreds of miles away with issues of what would be for supper that night and exactly when I was going to find time to do the artwork I needed to be doing. As the questions were posed on the show one grabbed my attention and made me sit up a little straighter thinking that I wished someone had suggested that to me when my children were young. That being said I thought I'd like to share it with you.
The question was, "If you could give one very helpful piece of advice to young couples who are currently raising children what would it be?" The guy being interviewed responded with this idea:
Teach your children that although you and your spouse love each other very much, marriage is not always easy. It has to be worked at every day. At night, it is the child's job to go to bed when bedtime arrives without complaint or stall. The reason that is so important is because that's your time to do the daily work on our marriage. In order to keep your marriage strong you have to talk and cuddle and just be together uninterrupted. If little darlings constantly get out of bed and whine and interrupt you, your work goes undone. You want your family to remain strong and because of that desire there needs to be an understanding. If they interrupt that important time you need for marriage work, they will be held accountable. The amount of time they took from your marriage will be spent with them in their room (or something similar) the following day. I know that sounds harsh but mom and dad's relationship is just that important and we shouldn't allow it to be pushed aside. Tell them that if you can have this time every night (and there will be exceptions of course), you promise they will love the parents that mommy and daddy are even more. You will be more rested, more patient, and more loving to each other... just what a family should be.
These words are paraphrased somewhat as I was actually driving when it came on so I couldn't write verbatim. However, you get the idea. Marriage IS hard. We do need to work on it daily. Our children need to be fully aware of this fact. Of course, when your children are really small they won't be able to grasp the concept but don't underestimate their ability to grasp the concept of cause and effect when they are approaching 2 years of age. They will understand that mom and dad are serious about their "work". They will understand when mom supports dad and dad supports mom in this time being theirs. They will also understand and appreciate it as they see mom and dad smiling at each other, holding hands, and happily walking through life together as a loving couple. A loving couple makes a loving family. I think this suggestion could have made life so much easier and more relaxed when our three were little. As a "empty nester" my advice would be that it is definitely worth a try!
Walking the road with you,
My whole life I have been an “I can do it myself person” I don’t need ….. (Need to me has always been a 4 letter word) Maybe it's because I was a single career women or lived by myself for 11 before marriage. But through the last almost 7 years of marriage –I have gotten better at it. I still don’t like the word NEED.
Recently on a trip to Chicago, a friend had recommended I read the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown (which is amazing and I highly recommend it) Much of the beginning is about being vulnerable and opening up and asking others for help. I distinctly remember –thinking yeah well not me – I can manage just fine on my own.
Also not well thought out for this trip was that I was still nursing Sam Henry and would be gone from him for almost 3 full days. For some insane reason, I decided I needed the break and the rest and took NO and I am mean NO, breastfeeding supplies. Not one pump, not one bottle, not a nursing bra –nothing. I packed like I could just pretend for 3 full days that my body wasn’t continually making milk for a 20 lb. baby -like my body would just forget to make milk!
By the first break from the conference, after I had last fed the fat baby almost 24 hours before, I realized I was in big trouble. Not just -I might leak through my shirt and be embarrassed trouble but a - I am going to be in serious pain –not make it through –starting to run fever trouble. Let me be clear. I am not a total idiot. I usually can make it through a day or even longer without pumping or feeding with nary a twinge. I am not a big milk machine.
I firmly believe God was testing me- so you don’t think you need anyone, you think you can manage this all on your own, well, let’s see about that. Also to complicate matters, I was in Chicago with no transportation besides a timed bus route to my hotel and back to Willow Creek. And I wasn’t in downtown Chicago where I could pop out and find a CVS. The campus of Willow Creek is in a suburb and sits back several miles from the main drag.
At that break, I sat on this beautiful stone edge of a fountain while everyone milled around and made phone calls and I tried not to cry (crying, while I have done a lot lately, is also something on my list that I am not a fan of). I looked around at all the wonderful staff standing about waiting to be helpful and literally felt God push me off that ledge toward a wonderful woman named Karen. I started off saying, "I am a nursing mama..." and before I could say more she ushered me into this beautiful room with soft rockers and dim lighting and told me I could use it as much as I needed.
Here is where I broke down and confessed my stupidity – "Yes, I am nursing mama and I didn’t bring a thing and I don’t know how to go anywhere and I don’t know what to do next". Karen with a bright welcoming smile asked, “What do you need?” I muttered, "I guess a ride to a store". She asked again, “No what supplies do you need?” As I told her what I thought I would need to get by for the few days.. hand pump, bottles, Advil, etc... She hugged me hard and said, "I will text you when I return". I went back to my conference AMAZED. She helped me with not one eye roll, not an ounce of condemnation, no "well that was dumb planning on your part", no "let me call you a cab", just a simple “What do you need?”
Less than an hour later, I returned to that beautifully appointed nursing mother’s room with a tidy gift bag with a hand pump, bottle, Advil and water. She wouldn’t even let me pay her. I have never been so grateful for another person’s kindness in my whole life. Her actions completely changed my entire trip.
In telling that story to a friend when I got back –still in amazement of her actions, her kindness and her gift- my friend said, “You would have done the same thing. Why were you so scared to ask?” She is right. When we are called upon as women we step up, we are there for each other, we drop what we are doing and we do all we can to fix the situation. If I had been in Karen’s shoes, yes, I would have run to the store and helped a girl out. Why then, did it take everything inside of me to ask?
Why is that? Why are we so hesitate to be vulnerable and admit we (GASP) NEED help? Help for that one time we were let down, for that one time we were vulnerable and were hurt… it is going to happen. No, I am not advocating crying on everyone’s shoulder in the coffee shop but it’s time we are REAL with each other.
There is a new song I love that says (and I am paraphrasing), Things aren’t fine and I am not okay... Sometimes we need to find that one women or mama or friend that instead of saying “I am fine” (with that fake empty smile) we know we can say, "I am not okay, but here is one thing you can help me with that can make it better..."
Try it this week – I hope it makes a difference
Nancy Lee Zimpleman
Mom 2 Mom
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