More than these.

IMG_1798Give her of the fruit of her hands… Proverbs 31:31

I thought I’d get a chance to watch TV last night. At least that was my plan. And in truth, I relish those precious moments at night. I savor sweet moments of quietude when the whole household is asleep. Not a soul stirring. Not even a mouse. No, it’s just me. My time to veg out. And read a book. Or perhaps watch a mindless sitcom. Life on pause as I catch my breath. Yes. As a busy mom, I long for moments of respite. They usually come at night. And despite what looked to be a promising evening of solitude, my plan was thwarted early on.

My son was in bed just after 9:00 pm. I read a chapter of Levi’s book, said a prayer over his head, turned on the fan and lava lamp for white noise and comfort, and gave him a peck on the cheek. And then, out the door I went. A bag of 220 calorie popcorn beckoned me. I eagerly split the cellophane and punched in one minute fifty seconds on the microwave. And in the ensuing minutes, I went to the potty, fed my cat and checked our doors to make sure we were secure. And then, after the beep, beep, beep, I sat down to a steaming bag of bliss and my eyes became glued to Law & Order. Finally, I rested. The breath I’d been holding came out. I exhaled. And an hour of me time stretched out before me…

By 9:20, I was completely engrossed in SVU and popped corn. However, within minutes a rustling from my son’s room vied for my attention. Yes, sure enough Levi was up by 9:25. He said he couldn’t sleep. After I vehemently told him to go back to bed no less than four times, I employed more threatening measures. My voice escalated as I asked, “Should I go get Daddy?” All to no avail, though, because Levi simply wouldn’t budge. His size three’s firmly cemented to the center of my living room. Finally, he told me the truth. My son was scared. His tears were real. Still holding tightly to my plan, though, I tried to up Levi’s comfort level. I placed a red t-shirt over his lamp in order to create warm glow and hurried back to the couch. Alas, extra light didn’t work.

By 9:30, my son cried out… Mama, will you please come lay with me. And so, my evening plans slipped through tightly clenched fists. And I did the only thing I knew to do. I turned off my program and threw out the popcorn bag. Instead of indulging in me time, I rose to the occasion and fulfilled my duty. As mom, nurturing and comforting fall to me. So I unfurled curled fingers and lay my hand over my son’s trembling body. There I went to sleep. Holding my son.

… do you love Me more than these? John 21:15

The words of Jesus came to me as I roused from sleep this morning. Do you love Me more than these? He posed His question to Peter, but He inquired the same of me just before daylight. Do you love Me more than these? Instantly, I thought of my children. It’s because of what my son said. As we lay in bed last night he said my life would be easier without him. Because he’s too much trouble. And he echoed his insecurity this morning just before boarding the bus… Your dream is coming true, Daddy’s going to work and I’m going to school. What???? Let me repeat that. WHAT???????

Before you think too harshly, let me explain. My son and I had words yesterday. More than once. And I was stern. He got in trouble. And this was on his mind last night. Nevertheless, his remarks make me sad today. I am his mother and yet somehow I’ve conveyed to my child I want other stuff more than him. Like preferring to snuggle up with popcorn and the couch instead of with him. I believe this is what Jesus wanted me to take note of this morning. Being alone a few minutes at night, or food, or TV are things I want. And come morning, it’s sleep I crave. The sleep that holds me. And I cling tightly to all these. I love these me things. But Jesus says, “Do you love Me more than these?” I have to say yes. Sure I choose Jesus over popcorn. But the real question before me today is, what about my kids? Do I choose them over popcorn, too?

After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!” John 21:19

I dreamt about my hand last night. It was wrinkled and looked so old with my shiny ring upon it. It caused me to stir. And before drifting back off, I thought of how they’ve changed thousands of diapers. And how they’ve wiped little noses countless times. I thought of all the meals and games and projects and baths and sports and washing I’ve done. I thought about this season of my life and what it really means to be mom. Because it means sacrifice. It means laying down my wants and desires in order to put the little ones first. That’s what momdom looks like. It means loving my children more than these whatever these may be.

IMG_1797 It means toenails with polish all gummed up and eaten away by lake water because you don’t always have time to tend to your own toes.

IMG_1800 It means cracked, dry heels imbedded with the black from your Teva sandals. Because showers are faster than baths. And you just don’t have time to slough off or loofah unsightly feet.

IMG_1799 It means legs covered with bruises because you’re usually moving one hundred miles an hour.

IMG_1802 And it means you usually look like this. Because you’re doing well just to get the shower in.

This is my life. It’s where I’ve spent the past nine years. In the land of momdom. And oh, how hard it is to continually lay down my life and my wants. It’s a constant struggle for me to put my desires last. To put others first. Because I can become possessive of what I consider to be mine. Like alone time at night. And a mindless show. And a bag of popped corn. Because sometimes I just want to put me first. If only for a little while. Like say an hour… But Jesus says otherwise. He said, “Follow Me!” And so that’s what I try to do.

Yes, I did my best to comfort my boy last night. I told him my life would be empty without him. That him and Annabelle and Daddy mean the world to me. That I wouldn’t trade anything for them. And I meant what I said. I really did. Shortly thereafter, Levi drifted off.

The thought that comes to me today, though, is that last night was more than me taking care of my son. And only in looking back can I see what really took place. See, there was transformation. Because as my hand rested upon Levi’s waist, it began to take on the appearance of Jesus’ own scarred one. Because I crucified my wants. In a sense, I laid down my life as I put my son first. And all I did was turn off the TV. I chose Levi over the alone time I so desired. And you know, this is exactly what Jesus wants me to do. In this season of my life, it’s how I can follow Him. It’s how I show Him my love. Because truth is – in the land of momdom – when you love your little ones more than these, you’re really loving Him, too.

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Baby Girl

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Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8

My children. How often I see a picture of God and me through their little faces. With Levi. And most recently, with Annabelle. Look at her… drooling and happy in her rolls. This chunky little girl has been fed and fed well. For she loves to eat. Quite different than Levi, who abhorred eating new things. With him, the table was a battleground. I can’t even describe the fit he threw when I tried to get a peanut butter and jelly down his throat at the age of two. But Annabelle, well, she’s another story. See, she’s so interested in food. She watches us intently when we feed ourselves. And whatever is put to her mouth, she’ll taste it. Even if it’s a salty olive, she’ll savor the flavor. I can almost hear her, “Oh, mama, this is good.”

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or lack compassion for the child of her womb?
Even if these forget,
yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

From the very beginning, Annabelle wanted to be at my breast. Our second night, she spent two or three hours at my chest suckling. Finally, I called the nurse for Annabelle outlasted me. I feared I’d fall asleep. I was told about “cluster feeding,” which was a new term to me. Perhaps because Levi didn’t. Cluster feeding. It was a time for Annabelle to spend hours on my chest… one, to stimulate milk production. But really, it was more about her feeling secure. She’d just exited her home… my womb. And her new surroundings were dark. And cold. She wanted to be where she could feel my warmth… where she could experience my heartbeat. She simply wanted to be close to me.

For us, the cluster feed went on for the first two or three weeks of her life. Me exhausted. She happy only if she were on me. If I tried to lay her down, her cries followed. Quickly, I’d pick her up. I’d hold her tight once more. And she’d quiet.

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Over time, as her appetite increased, she grew rapidly. The still infant that she was became a moving, writhing being. And what I noticed about feeding time was her hands. For as soon as she began to move them, they began to get in her way. She’d put them up to my chest only to interfere with her suckling. Sometimes, I just had to hold them tight so she could feed without interruption. But finally, after getting enough milk, she’d look up at me with a contented look.

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Yes, it’s true, Annabelle was a healthy eater. She still is. Food brings her such comfort. “Oh, Mama, is it good.” And in her extended feeding sessions, those cluster feeds, I see a picture of me. More particularly, it’s a depiction of God & me. And what took place a few years back.

See, I came home in the fall of 2010. And truth is, I thought I knew everything about anything. Honestly. I was a big know it all. No one could tell me anything. They just couldn’t. See, I knew it all already. But something happened in the fall of 2011 that caused me to look back over my life. And as I did, I began to consume voluminous amounts of God’s word. I mean for hours at a time. There were times I had to pull myself away to get to the tasks of my day. All I wanted to do was sit there. Feeding on God’s word. The more I consumed, the more I wanted. Basically, I was cluster feeding. No different from Annabelle in the early days of her infancy. Just as she wanted to feel my warmth, I wanted to feel His. I wanted to lay my head against His chest and experience His heartbeat. Simply, I wanted to be close to Him. And in truth, I just didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Only in hindsight can I see it. Me suckling at the breast of God. Me not being able to get enough. Me crying out when I was pulled away. Cluster feeding. “Oh, mama, is it good!”

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

You know, I recently went through a home overhaul. And my husband lovingly termed our home as a big playhouse. The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, he called it. That’s because of all the colors. Red, orange and yellow. Blue, green and turquoise. Just about every color of the rainbow can be found as I gaze about me. I told him it was fitting. Because of Annabelle. We’ll have a toddler before we know it and she’ll love the bright colors. Funny thing is, after the project was over and I was putting everything back in its place, Annabelle’s car seat caught my eye. And there I saw it. The inspiration for my house makeover was right there in her seat. All those colors. Red and orange and yellow and green and so on…

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Today, I have to laugh at this. See, I said the colors on our walls were fitting for Annabelle. But now, I have to say they’re just as fitting for me. God’s giant toddler. I walk around on shaky legs. I’m just now finding my footing… in Him. I stumble and fall more times than I can count. It’s all right there in front of my eyes. Me and Annabelle, a picture of God & me.

You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. Psalm 139:5

Just over three years ago, my life began to change dramatically. It was a time of stillness. I lay at God’s chest. As He held me in His arms, I savored the milk He offered. I drank it like my life depended on it. Oh, there were times my hands got in the way. For I became busy… the flow of milk interrupted.  But He held my arms tight until I could drink once more. And I gulped and slurped and took in as much as I could. Like Annabelle, it would run out of the sides of my mouth. My milk sliding down her chin… God’s word eking out of me. For three years now, I’ve been cluster feeding.

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These are recent photos of Annabelle. She’s just shy of 6 months and already over 20 pounds. As I said, she’s a healthy eater. Look at those rolls. Look at that chubby baby. Oh, how my heart melts every time I look at her. Again, a picture of God & Me. For He looks at me the same… and oh, how His heart melts when He sees my rolls. He knows I’ve been eating. A lot. Feasting on His word. And I’m growing… just like Annabelle. His baby girl.

Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Hebrews 5:13-14

You know, Annabelle’s been teething. And cutting teeth, well, it can be a little painful. But see, the time’s coming. She’ll soon be ready for something more substantial. Solids. And she’ll need her teeth to tear into something a bit more meaty. And once more, I see me. For these past few years have been painful at times. But now I know why… I’ve been cutting teeth, too. I’ve been feasting on milk but the time is coming… I’ll need my big girl teeth in order to tear into something meatier. See, like Annabelle, I’m growing up.

You know, it’s through my children. Their little faces provide a picture of God & me. For I’ve discovered their lives tell my own story. And right now, I’m like Annabelle. Fat and happy in my rolls. This chunky girl has been fed and fed well. For I love to eat. See, I’m so interested in food. In His food. And whatever He puts to my mouth, I taste it. I savor the flavor. And I bet He can hear me when my insides cry out, “Oh, mama, this is good!”

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