When I Give Advice. . .

I have six kids.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, people ask me for mothering advice.

Advice.  I bristle at that word. As if I know your family better than you do.

Yet I am willing to share where we’ve been, what we’ve learned, and how we’ve failed or succeeded along the way.

You are just the right mother for your children.  They are the just right children for you.

I’m still knee-deep in laundry and playdates and diapers and driving lessons.  I don’t have all the answers.  But I am willing to encourage you, right where you are, with the children God has put in your life.

With anything I share, I want to emphasize that God made you the mother of your children.  You are just the right mother for the little ones God has entrusted to you.  They are the just right children for you.  No one can love and know your children like you do.

I hope that you are surrounded by people who are encouraging and supportive.  I want to be part of that chorus of encouragement in the middle of the nitty-gritty challenges and joys.

Yet the end of the day, God put your children in your family as part of His plan.   You love her and will nurture them.  Somehow in His infinite goodness, even when you make mistakes (and even sin against them!), He is using that as your children grow in to the people God created them to be.

When I give advice, please hear it as from a friend who wants to encourage you, and trusts you are you make decisions for your family.

Transitions, Undone

Spring is always a whirlwind for families. It’s already late summer and getting closer to the fall ritual of kids returning to school.

This year our second son graduated high school and we are just weeks away from him leaving for college. He’s ready. I think I am.

But something feels like it has been left undone over these past few months of transition.

What am I going to do? Part of me wants to hold him tight, engage deeply, soak up each last moment.

His summer plans have taken him overseas, and my summer plans have involved travel and home repairs and medical appointments.

I stay in touch with him via messenger. I follow his friends who post pics on Instagram. I try to do the bits and pieces of college paperwork that remain.

But it is so little. So distant. So electronic.

No real hugs. No making coffee for him and talking about both the minutiae of our days and the big plans we have.

What I can do is pray. I trust our sovereign God. I trust that this is His timing for T—— to take the next step.

I remember my mom telling me years ago that the most important work of parenting is done on our knees. I believe this is true. Sometimes I even act like I believe it is true.

The best book I’ve read on parenting is The Praying Life, by Paul Miller  (aff). It has nothing in it about child development or connecting with your teens. Instead, he writes of the importance of prayer and how to make praying a practical part of our parenting.

I struggle with this. I struggle with transitions in life.

I am trusting God to keep us connected.

For thus says the LORD:

“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.

“As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

“You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.”

  • Isaiah 66:12-1419

Comfort

 

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins
with His precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.

He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.

Therefore, by His Holy Spirit
He also assures me of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for Him.

 

Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1

 

 

I am finding great comfort in the promises of God, especially as they are expressed in the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Our boys’ best friends’ mom died yesterday.  I know she would  have said will full confidence,

I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.

I don’t doubt that she was ready to see Jesus, even if not ready to leave her family.

But, I’m not ready.  Not ready to help my sons mourn.  Not ready to watch them walk alongside their grieving friends.  Not ready to consider my own mortality and leaving my kids behind.

 

​Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

  • John Calvin

At The Seaside

 

When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.

My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up
Till it could come no more.

  • Robert Lewis Stevenson

Ask For Help – #MomHack

Monday #MomHack… Ask for help.

Ask for help from your spouse, your kids, your extended family, your friends, and your church.

We don’t have to go it alone.  We are designed to live within families, within communities.

Asking for help sometimes means hiring a housekeeper, asking another parent to drive your kids places, asking older kids to pitch in more. (Asking them to pitch in more, even when they already do a lot?)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)  While the context points to this primarily as bearing one another’s burdens of sin and temptation, I don’t think it is a stretch to apply it to bearing one another’s burdens of living in a mixed up, fallen world.  Life is hard.  It is harder when we are alone. 

Sometimes shame keeps us from asking for help.  We feel like we need to have it all together so that we can help others.  Or, sometimes we feel like we have to prove that we don’t “need” the help before we ask for help.  That was how I felt, especially when my older kids were little.  That I had to prove that I could keep up with kids, homeschooling, housekeeping, errands — all of it — before I had “earned” the right to ask for help.   What kind of twisted thinking is that?

It was hard for me to ask for help.  It was hard for me to hire a housekeeper, when I could finally afford one.  I felt like I didn’t deserve the help.  I still struggle — as if I have to prove I wasn’t dumb for having all these kids and choosing motherhood as my primary career path when it really is challenging for me.

When I ask for and graciously receive help from others, I’ve found others are more willing to ask me to help them.  I’m willing to give of my time and energy to other moms — eager, even.  Yet, because I’ve been humbled enough to ask for help, it feels like others are willing to ask me to help them.

This builds community.  This builds our relationships.  This is good.

Ask for help.

That’s my #MomHack this Monday. What about you?

When Morning Gilds the Sky

One of the things I love about St. Andrew’s Kirk in Nassau is that the bulletin and liturgy are posted online early in the week.  I like to create a playlist to introduce the weekly hymns to the little ones. This is one way we prepare for worship. When the music is familiar, the little ones pay more attention — even if they can’t sing all the words.

Today my heart rejoiced as we sang one of my favorite hymns. “When Morning Gilds the Sky” was originally written in German in the 1800s by an unknown author, and was translated into English by Edward Caswell.

 


 

When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer
To Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

To Thee, my God above,
I cry with glowing love,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The fairest graces spring
In hearts that ever sing,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When sleep her balm denies,
My silent spirit sighs,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evil thoughts molest,
With this I shield my breast,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day,
When from the heart we say,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear,
When this sweet chant they hear,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine,
My canticle divine,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this th’ eternal song
Through all the ages long,
May Jesus Christ be praised!