An Open Letter to My Pregnant Sister

I am the person least qualified to write a devotional for my sister, and she knows it because she heard me sound pretty exasperated with my girls the other day on the phone. However, because I love her the most, and am in these same trenches, I’ll just share what is valuable to me in this challenge and struggle called parenting.

There are people who say, “I was crazy to have children!” or “What was I thinking?” or “How did I get into this?” But, the truth is, you didn’t. You were led. Even the most diligent family planner was also chosen. God got you into this, and HE decided that you and your husband would now glorify Him best as parents, here at your current age. There was no, “how did I get into this?” about it. This was predestined from the beginning of time. You are going to be pregnant with your specific child through the hot summer months of the year 2014.

So before we go any further, this isn’t a congratulatory devotional on “Good job, sis,” it’s an “awed and on my knees” type of letter to you. God decided that YOU would best glorify Him as a parent and that it would be in your best interest too. This is humbling. This is grand. This is greater than us.

It’s important to mention this because quickly I forget. It’s back to “Good job, RJ” and “What did you plan for this child, RJ?” and “What are your thoughts for this child, RJ?” and RJ, RJ, RJ!

And really, parenting isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about our methods or styles or how soon they were potty-trained or what curriculum we use or how they behave in public. Even their sin isn’t about us. They’re responsible for it. It’s easy to look at that brand new baby and think their life revolves around you. We so often accuse babies of thinking everyone’s life revolves around them, but we mothers are guilty of the same thing with that child. In reality, they’re in your home for a short period of time, and then they’re off doing what God has planned for them. God has designed YOUR child specifically for this world, for the future years following 2014, for the life that they’ll live then and the relationship He’ll have with them.

And I get so caught up in the relationship they have with ME. I get so caught up in how they’re going to fulfill my life and satisfy me and bring me joy. And when they don’t do it – and oh! They don’t do it often! Then I’m bitter and upset and unsatisfied and angry.

Because it IS a battle. Parenting might just end up being the hardest thing you ever do. It will definitely be your hardest job. Do you know why? Because, unlike your husband, you didn’t pick a child ahead of time with a personality you enjoy and a maturity you can count on. Unlike your best friends, you didn’t choose a child that makes you laugh, loves to talk deeply about spiritual things with you, and is fun to be with. You may end up with someone you don’t understand whatsoever and is nothing like you. For sure, you will end up with a depraved sinner who, at first – and for who knows how long – wants nothing to do with your God. And that’s HARD. It’s hard to be around immature unbelievers 24/7. It’s not something I had ever done before or was ever truly prepared to do.

But that human being who you love so much but who can be so hard to live with and understand… Their life isn’t about you or your home – not really. God decided that THIS baby needed to be born because they were going to glorify Him. With their sins, with their successes, with their relationship with Him or without – although we sincerely pray that they are a powerful lover of God! Sure, you brought them into the world, but even the science of that would not have succeeded without God deciding, in His sovereign pleasure, that your baby, your specifically unique baby, was going to bring Him glory. Was going to bring good to you and your husband. Your hardships with this child, as well as your joy with this child, God decided is GOOD.

So yes, you have a responsibility. But even your responsibility is not really to this child in the end. It’s still about your relationship with God. And that frees you from the burden of failure or comparing yourself to others or worry, fear, and doubt. Even your parenting, breastfeeding schedules, homeschooling, and diaper changing are to further your relationship with God. When changing the 7th poopy diaper in a day becomes about you and your rights and the burden it is on you, it is instantly not about God any more. So no, it’s not “How dare you, my child, go against me and my plans for you” as I so often think and even say. Instead, it’s “Do you understand that you’ve hurt God who loves you and died for you? Do you understand the plan He has for you? Do you understand how to surrender your life to Him and turn away from sin? Can I tell you about how your repeated disobedience today has taught me more about my own inadequacy with God and how forgiven I am?”

I think a child brings you more joy than you thought possible, but also more hard work. Yet we hold the promise of knowing that we were specifically chosen for this task, as if God placed a sparkling crown that says “Mother” right on your head. So whyImage do we get bogged down with the results? Why do we fear what other mothers say? Why do we take personally how these little personalities that God created – we sure didn’t choose anything! – respond? I don’t know. If you figure it out, let me know. All I can tell is, it comes about when my own idols come to the surface – and you will discover you’re much more of a sinner than you thought! But how gracious of God to purify you even more – to make the ruby red of your heart shine with pure intensity and have no specks or planks in it! When I take my eyes off of that sparkly crown, off of God’s face above it that is reflected in its shiny surface: the crown that is my relationship with Him and the tasks He has given me, not the plans and ideas I have for myself and my kids, all mayhem in my soul begins.

I will never stop loving you, and I’ll never stop loving this child. Even before the baby has been born, I chose to love them wholeheartedly, because they is of my blood! And because this child is yours.

It’s the same with our Lord. Whether you feel like you’re a bad mother or a good one, the fact is, you’re a sinful one. And He will never stop loving you. Before you were born, He chose to love you and die for you because you have been washed in His blood. And because you are His.

I know, someday, you will finally, physically receive an imperishable crown and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Because that’s what you are: a servant. And you will understand how much of a servant you can be made to be in the next coming years! Fight the GOOD fight that glorifies God. We’re all here for you. We can’t wait to have you running alongside of us! I love you, sister.

Love Instantly and Forever

I’ve only been at this mom business twenty months. 

Well, twenty plus nine months because I was the pregnant woman who already felt like a parent.  I got a gender and a name to the pounding feet inside of me as soon as the technology would permit it.  I planned for and prepared for that precious first girl and felt motherly from the moment the maroon line appeared on the test saying I had a new life within me.

And then little girl number two came along seventeen months later.  Within three months of baby Rosalie’s birth, we moved. 

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind and I’d love to blame my moods, irritation, and lack of an imagination on the 5:45 AM wake up calls from a hungry hippo-of-a-baby who has more rolls than Pillsbury and really shouldn’t need to get up that early to add to them, should she?  I want to say I’ve been a tiresome, boring, and frustrated mother because I have to clear a path through boxes and have piles with mementos dating back to the 1980s that needed to be sorted – and… Did you put that in the hall closet, honey?  I have to get at that every day!  Why on earth are we saving the Mountain Dew bottles from your college days again?

Regardless of what I blame it on, this really isn’t the mother I wanted to be.  The mother who stands in the toy area of Ikea while her toddler plays, staring vacantly at her and leaning tiredly and heavily on the shopping cart trying to avoid looking at the baby’s face in the carrier – knowing she’s going to campaign for a diaper change if eye contact is made.
I haven’t been at this mother business for long, but I’ve already forgotten some of the things I planned on doing. 

The person I planned on being.

The memories I wanted to make.

Wishing the moving to be done, wishing the Terrible… One-and-a-Halfs? to be over, wishing any of this time away is something I never do.  Ever. 

And yet, I sure live like it some times.

I’m not finding a lot of things funny these days.  I’m picking too many battles and not being forgiving for the ones I do duke out, even if I win.  I’ve almost forgotten how to crack a joke or play like a kid.  And believe me – playing is something I’ve always done well, and promised myself I would continue to do!

Because I woke up one morning, the sound of children in the daycare next to my apartment crying their heads off reminding me that I chose to keep my adorable and impressionable girls with me all day for a reason, I realized I’d simply been forgetting all of the things I wanted to be, do, and never do.

So I wrote this list.  It’s on the back of my bedroom door so I have to see it every morning before I leave my room.  It’s called “Things to Never Forget”:

♥   Spend time with the Lord every day

♥   Read the Bible to them – practice verses

♥   Sing at least one hymn a day

♥   Pray with them all throughout the day

♥   Laugh, and don’t sweat the small stuff

♥   Never get angry

♥   Play pretend – be the mom that gets into the McDonald’s playground

♥   Write in each of their journals

♥   Everyone needs some fresh air and exercise

♥   Greet Brad at the door with a smile, hug, and a kiss

♥   Be goofy and get a little crazy with all of them!

♥   Love and forgive instantly and forever

And, with the jolt like a shock collar that I gave that sleepy memory of mine, in an act of Instant Love, I decided we were going to put the wings on to unpack today.