the fresh start

Do you smell it? It’s soon-to-be fall in the Pacific Northwest. (which is my absolute favorite).

Summer is ending, fall is coming.

This year, I was ready for summer to end. We traveled all over this year. Camping in Cle Elum, trips to Grammy and Papa’s new mini-farm, trips to grandma and damnpa’s in Mukilteo, trips to the mountains, a trip to GG’s in Montesano, a transmission blowing in our minivan, a purchase of a NEW to us creeper van, road trip to Oregon twice…yes, we were busy and I am so ready for routine and normalcy. These good things must come to an end. And I’m ready. Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.27.22 PM

I’ve already spent my $10 and bought myself a combo candle pack: apple cider, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. It smells heavenly. Everytime my hubby walks in the back door, he tells me it’s just not fair that the house can smell so good and yet there’s nothing in the oven. I smile.

“Exactly,” I say, “Exactly”.

I’ve already bought my pumpkin spice latte. (Sidenote: Dear Starbucks, you’ve lost a customer! $4.08 for a tall! Nope, not anymore).

3/4 kids started school last week. Oren is now officially a first grader. He told me until he turned 7 he couldn’t be. So, he was actually a kindergartner for the first six days of school. I let him roll with that belief, why not? It’s just so cute.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.27.00 PMMy girls started their first days of preschool, which leaves Judah and me to wander the mornings doing as we please.

For me, fall brings a new sense of “freshness”.

I don’t know about you, but I like fresh. I like clean sheets, a freshly made bed, and the knowledge that second chances and newness create life in my soul. Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.26.47 PM

As you know from my previous post, Cole and I are in this place of ending what has been and are gearing up for a new adventure. And, right now i’m in the “in-between”, but I’m ready or maybe I should say, “I’m getting ready”.

Like the purchase of new school supplies, backpacks, candles, and lattes, my heart says bring on the change, the fall, the fresh. And, yet in order to bring on the change and the color and the adventure, I realize that like the leaves that will fall from the trees part of me has to change too. So, friends here I go.

Heart evaluation, soul adaptation.Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.26.15 PM

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2

So, dear Jesus: Let what needs to change, change and what needs to stay, stay. Form me, make me, and create in me who and what you need to-to do your work. I know you are good and worthy. You have my best interest in heart and you want me mature.

Amen.

once upon a time at burger king and the out-takes.

43chambers14So, if you’ve ever wondered…occasionally, yes occasionally, we have bad days. Usually, they come on the heels of a great day.

4 kids dressed in somewhat decent only borderline homeless looking (or hipster looking)clothing. check.

4 kids with food crammed in their bellies and no one complaining of being hungry. check.

4 kids with socks and shoes or sandals or socks with sandals (Reminder: we are in the Pacific Northwest). check.

4 kids loaded in our new 1987 creeper van (yes, we call it this). check.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.45.32 PM Then we proceed to the dentist.

We all walk in, check in, sit down. And, we still haven’t had a temper tantrum, a whiny child or a canation (whatever this is–I’m not sure. I just know that it can be good or bad and I’m living in a toddler world, we speak on their terms).

The boys come back completely cavity free–hallelujah.

All 4 kids in the van. Celebration!

Don’t squeal too loud people will stare.

Me to them, “Oh my gosh you guys, you did it. We all did it. We were on our best behavior and we had such a great morning! Let’s go to Burger King for lunch and to play on the indoor toys since its such a hot day”. Squeals of delight.

And then we arrived, Burger King the holy grail of all things for my kiddos.

This is where it all starts to go downhill.

We unload and go potty. All of us.

We play for 20 or so minutes, eat lunch. And know what happens? My youngest pees his pants in the tunnel at the top of the playground. #facepalm

I’m outnumbered. simply outnumbered.

So, the extra pants were left in the creeper, the pee is still at the top of the tubes (and I have a very natural fear of heights), and I can’t leave 4 kids alone in Burger King  or the real creepers will creep. Hear what I’m saying?

We’ve been here for 45 min. Plenty long. It’s officially nap-time. Brilliant idea: let’s go home. 2chambers14

We proceed with fully fit throwing planking toddlers. They have figured out that if they all do it at the same time, I do not have enough arms or gusto to carry them all. But, we manage to get to the front door.

Oren looks at me and with sheer dread as he looks at the expanse of parking lot like its a giant lake of alligators, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Mom, I’m just a kid. I’m not sure how we’re going to get across this thing with them”.

Me, “Me either, buddy, me either”.

But, we buckle down. We half drag-half demand some level of cooperation and reach our vehicle.

They plank again. on.the.ground. between me and the car next to me.

As I’m unlocking my car and opening the door, some lady in her cute little car either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice the kids on the ground next to her vehicle and begins backing up. Like, going to run over my kids, backing up. I’m waving my hands trying to get her attention, while at the same time moving 3 little plankers to the front of my vehicle and literally holding them in an upright position.

She drives away.

No one is injured, and I return to opening the door and attempting to get planking children into the car.

They bolt. Yes, two of my children bolt around the front of the car. Oren chases them. I finish pushing the one child in my arms into the car and head around the back.

23chambers14My 2 runners, a chasing Oren, and a box truck are about the meet up in the middle and I’m too far away to do anything.

Picture this: A fiery 3 yr old redhead screaming in the creeper van screaming bloody murder for Burger King toys.

And me a fiery much older redhead screaming outside the creeper van, “STOP STOP STOP, EVERYBODY STOP!”

The box truck barrels through. And, I can no longer see my kids. They’ve disappeared.

I’m running towards where they should be. A woman who may have only seen the last 2 min (not the full 20 min of attempting to “control” my kids) yells from the door of Burger King in a very judgey tone, “You need to watch your kids better.” ….if looks could kill……..but, I have 3 missing kids and ain’t nobody got time for that…..

I walk around a large car to see 2 kids on the ground with an older brother on top, fighting to keep them there, he says, “Mom, I saw the truck and I had to save them. I tackled them for you”.

I’ve never been so proud, scared, frantic, and angry all at once. I wrangle, wrestle, and bribe them to the van.

I’m now sobbing in my front seat, “I’m never doing this again, I’m never doing this again. I hate burger king”.

Why am I sharing this? This is my confession to the world: my life is far from perfect, these moments are the norm. I am not capable to be the BEST mom all the time. I don’t have it figured out. I am so far removed from the term perfect. Life is sometimes just chaos. And, yet in the midst of all the chaos, I have an anchor, a calming overpowering awareness that Jesus was orchestrating all of it. That my kids ended up safe.41chambers14

And why after days like these, I am fully aware of my need for him. If it were up to me, I’d be done, thrown in the towel, and having already been crazy.

In situations like this, I’m more aware of my selfishness, my need for control and my desire to do things on my terms and how Jesus requires me to be present away from my needs, give up all control and do things on his terms. I see myself as these rowdy toddlers throwing full on planking fits, and I’m so thankful for the Father’s patience with me. Sometimes, the out-takes in our life reveals our very need for reliance on Him.

And, the silence is broken.

10256808_10152081530924077_8288180258620374096_nToday has gone fantastic by all forms of measurement from this mom.

I spent the morning cleaning. The 3 inches of cheerios, grapes, mac n cheese, lost lego pieces, scraps of shredded paper (I have a hamster for a daughter, I swear) were all swept up with pure delight and determination. The dishes were loaded and my sinks were bare.

I had a 10 am coffee date with a GREAT friend. We chatted about being a mom, hopes, dreams, visions and about how to love our kids well. She encouraged me and uplifted me in so many ways. (Because being a mom is hard, yo. And finding a friend who loves Jesus and gets my chaos is.so.very.valuable).

My kids have been fed lunch and I should earn a gold medal in toddler nap time.

And yet, my husband sends me a text, “How’s your day?”

“Today is great! The kids have behaved well, coffee date was a success. Kids are all napping and the house is really really clean compared to normal”. delete. delete. delete.

Sigh. the truth.

“In theory, it’s going well..kids are sleeping, I’m working on business stuff right now, the house is really clean compared to normal. And yet….There’s this deep sense of urgency in my spirit. I’m at any moment going to start to cry. Today, I’m just really aware of God’s plan, vision, and future church for us and it’s both overwhelmingly beautiful and unabashadly scary. And I’m so ready, and I’m so fear-filled. It’s all colliding in me at this very moment.”

So, I guess putting that out in written form, has me sobbing. Uncontrollable sobbing. Like every episode of Parenthood, sobbing.

And, there’s a collision in my soul and a chaos of beauty surrounding me.

So my prayer is taken from someone else-because I’m not sure what else to pray:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine10307365_10152205384765846_4157575803973430674_n

And my husband responds, “I hear you. It’s weighing on me too. I have a nervous/excited/dread going on. I’m ready though. SO ready. Thanks for sharing with me”

And, I’m still. so.very.still. for a moment.

I take a deep Spirit-filled breath of thanks, relinquishing of fear, and a foundation of hope…

And, I blog for the first time in close to a year, because God is working and moving..

He has been working all along, but the all pieces, and the chaos, and the analyzing places of my heart, mind and soul are finally being freed to groan, feel, lament and praise.

And, I ask for prayers, for thousands of prayers. Prayers that we can move into this unknown, prayers that our fears wouldn’t be debilitating, prayers that our trust would be in Him, and that we would move out of the way to reunite with God in his vision for us.

 

 

my thoughts on messy things.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 12.40.10 PMIn the last few years, I’ve learned that people will always let me down, always. Real Relationships are hard, messy and at some point the other person will hurt me.

I used to think “if they hurt me, their loss” and move on.

But, the reality of that–it gets pretty lonely. Again, EVERYONE you are in REAL relationships with will hurt you at some point.
and the truth is, at some point, I too will hurt them.

So what’s my other option? Forgive so that I may also receive forgiveness. It’s really that easy, and that hard.

Gal 6:1 says, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG)

I’ve expected perfection from others while being substantially less than perfect.

I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful that others showed me grace when I had none. I’m learning that offering grace isn’t just about forgiving so that I can have forgiveness–but that Christ can use my forgiving spirit to heal my own heart and to keep it soft-and alive.

I’ve chosen the lonely isolated road. And it hurt, and there was no repair.
Now, I’m choosing the vulnerable real messy road. And it hurts (and it’s sometimes awkward), but there is healing beyond what I’ve ever imagined. I’m watching other people grow, develop and change because I am staying for the messy when common sense says “leave”.

There is a gentle breeze of magical Christ movement in my midst-and I’m sad I missed out on it for so long.

Non-Pinterest Christmas

561628_10151832417414077_938436229_nI LOVE Christmas.

I love the music. the tree. the food.

But, my favorite thing is to sit in the dark with only the lights shimmering and read.

I love Christmas so much-that I have about 75,000 things pinned to my pinterest account. I’m absolutely positive they’ll continue to sit in my “Winter Wonderland” folder, but they’re pretty and I like thinking that maybe when I have a lot of time (puh-lease) I may actually get to do one, just one.

We’re a week into the holiday season, and we JUST bought our tree. It’s sitting in our living room completely bare, but we’ve got a tree. I’m WAY ahead of my usual holiday schedule, I’ve actually purchased a total of 1 gift so far. Small victories, people, small victories.

For me AND I’m sure it is for you as well-Christmas can be exhausting. I’m kind of dreading it with eager anticipation, if that’s even possible.

Despite my families lack of holiday effort, this week we did have our first advent activity. Cole and I were realistic (this is more him than me–I had about 2500 pinned advent activities), WE (I mean he) said, “let’s plan for once a week and make it600332_10151832418094077_877174732_n as fun and short for our kids this year.

We had our minds set on reading Luke 2:12 “Don’t be Afraid! I’m here to tell you with great joy: a savior has been born in Bethlehem. You find him in a manger wrapped in snuggly warm clothes” (The Chambers Chaos version) Then, we were to sing “Away in a Manger” together as a family. And, pull out the Little People Nativity Set great grandpa had sent us.

Sounds easy and fun, right? Let me just share how this whole endeavor ended up.

With little antsy pants kiddos, we immediately scrapped the “scripture reading”, for a more hands on approach. Little baby white (my daughter has named everything her favorite color-and baby white is also wearing a white jumpsuit) was wrapped up quickly in a kitchen towel. My husband, in his speaking to toddler voice, says,”See, it little Baby Jesus wrapped up in snuggly clothes”.

They got it! They all began passing around Baby White and saying, “oooooooo, Baby Jesus wearing snuggly clothes”.

It was precious.

1461206_10151827054874077_1385558072_nThen, Cole and I, although we do have some musical capabilities, led a very off-key “Away in a Manager”. It was quickly led astray by a 6 yr old who didn’t full know the song or the tune. We tried, oh how we tried to stay on beat. But realistically, musically, it was a mess.  A

After our first, “Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed”, Cadence began to cry (we were that bad), Addie began to giggle hysterically (we were truly that bad) and Judah intermittently cried and said with a little lisp, “Shhhhhhhhh”.

Can’t. make. this. up.

Despite tears, being “sh”ushed, we made it through all 3 verses and choruses.

Out came that Nativity scene and out came the bloodshed. It was all “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!” up in the Chambers home. (My husband will be so pleased that I inserted a Braveheart quote).

I mean, in all my history of little nativity scenes, the angel is the most coveted piece. WRONG.

In our house, it’s the donkey and Mary.

So, after breaking up World War III, we sent the kids to bed. And collapsed onto the couch.1459210_10151827054879077_2139371829_n

Sounds exhausting right? The truth is–it was the least exhausting thing we’ve done. Hear me out here: It was real, it was raw, and it didn’t rely on our skills musically, parentally, or any sort of gifting we’ve been given.

As we sat in full recovery mode Cole and I came to one conclusion: “That was a mess. But, it was so refreshing. What is we stopped doing x, y, and z and just did this? What if the whole month of December looked like this?”

I think sometimes we create “pinterest” worthy ideas of what Christmas should look like-and it’s really exhausting attempting it. From their spot, the ornaments and decor is removed, and we internally sigh, so grateful that it’s over.

But, when we take away the glitter, the busy, and we allow the real raw exposure of mess is when we find rest and worship, true worship.

Our women’s group, At The Well, get’s its name because the well has historically been a gathering place for women. Also, because there was a single woman who came exhausted and empty on her own life. For the record–her life didn’t look like pinterest, so I know we would’ve been really great friends, in fact, she might’ve been my best friend.

But, she came to gather her water at a time of day where women didn’t gather, a time that implied she wasn’t welcome there. Jesus said two things to her. First, he said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst-not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” A few moments later he said, “It’s who you are and the way you live that counts before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is looking out for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself-Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

1456126_10151837274614077_1917054583_nJesus already knew what I learned this week. HE wants what you have-an empty vessel ready to be filled and to be refreshed by worshipping Him. He wants your Christmas to be merry and bright-but not because you added more “stuff” or you used enough gold glitter on your wooden block reindeer outline-but because you came before him offering absolutely nothing-but your worship, true worship.

I know my Christmas story is cute and funny-but what I want you to know I that my really empty truly exhausting moments were. not. pleasant. OR cute. In fact, they were long and hard. My marriage almost imploded, my dreams for my family lost in one hospital visit, Spiritual giants in my life letting me down leading me to question my faith. Those places weren’t beautiful-they were empty and painful.

But you know what else they were?

1468742_10151832418539077_1349242510_nThey were the moments in my life where Jesus was the most present. Where HE and not I came in and became my source. Looking back, that’s where my faith took root and grew exponentially. They were moments where I had nothing to offer-I was empty, I NEEDED Jesus.

Last week during church service for Advent, we talked about God being a God for rock-bottom people. I’m so thankful for that–because I’m a rock-bottom person.

I’ll say it again: I’m a rock-bottom person. And, yet, the beautiful thing about Christmas is that Jesus came in the humblest way to free ME-to allow me to worship.

I am now FREE, to spend my days and my life empty so He can fill me.

It’s okay to be a rock-bottom person, it really is. I challenge you this holiday season to be rock-bottom, to lay everything down, to come broken and be at the well with Jesus. Let Him fill you up.

Don’t let your skills, pinterest, or a hallmark card define what Christmas should be.

Isaiah 40:28-30 says,

God doesn’t come and go.

God lasts.

He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.

And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their primes stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

1454590_10151837275074077_1703579249_nThey spread their wings and soar like eagles, The run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

What if we stopped doing x, y, and z and just did this? What if our December looked. just.like.this?

The Lonely Heart

IMG_5388Life, sometimes, is a consuming fire. Torn between the constant decisions, deadlines, toddlers needing to go “big gerl potty”, misbehavior addressed, the timer beeping, prioritizing relationships (unfortunately), and it just keeps going. Too many decisions, too many people needing me.

I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed, overworked, and despite being surrounded by people; frankly, I feel alone. Not because I am alone, or because people haven’t been there. But, mostly because even when I’m with people my brain is working at the next to-do list or daunting task that needs completion. I haven’t been able to turn it off.

Feeling alone is never a good thing.

It’s where icky thoughts and doubt creep in. It’s where sin gains momentum.

In the quiet places of my soul this morning, despite the children running around me and lonely aches, I heard a still small voice saying to me, “Loneliness is caused by lack of focus”

And I was reminded of a Father’s prayer for his son:

“And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.” 1 Chronicles 29:14-19 (MSG)

And it became my prayer,

Dear Jesus,

Image

Give me an uncluttered and focused heart that I may obey your commands, live by your directions and counsel and to carry on and worship you with the whole me, not a distracted lonely me. Amen.

And, I’m praying it for you today, that you to would find focus, to focus on the one important thing, that your loneliness would be soothed by the balm of the Most High. That you, like me, despite the noise in your life would as Jesus says, ““Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift fromyou to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” Matt 6:6 (MSG)

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the Artistry

Mommy Mayhem

For info on the Mommy Mayhem Series click here.

By Lacey Pires

For as long as I can remember my heart’s desire was always to be a stay at home mom. I was the 12 year old walking around with someone else’s toddler on my hip. I’ve never had any desire to further my education or to have a career. I knew that my life would be my children. Over time, I painted this beautiful picture of what my life as a Mother would look like.

010And then, when I was suddenly and unexpectedly pregnant all of those plans and dreams seemed to shatter. My husband was in school full time and I knew that we would not be able to provide for our daughter unless I went back to work.

My first three months with Rayne felt like a beautiful (and exhausting) dream. Everything in my world felt so complete. And then, my maternity leave ended. I had an amazing support system in my husband and in-laws, but my heart was still sad and bitter.

My work life intensified. I was promoted which meant more responsibility and more time away from my family. My 8 hour days stretched into 12 or 13 hour days. The more success I found at work the more guilt I felt at home. I ran myself into the ground trying to spend enough time with Rayne, clean, cook, try to sneak in a few minutes with my husband, fall into bed exhausted and then start all over again.

As two years passed, I missed precious milestones. Her first time crawling, her first steps, and her first words. With every passing day, the guilt and pain grew heavier and heavier. I felt as if my life’s purpose was sitting in my hands and yet slipping through my fingers all at the same time. I was failing her. I was not the Mom I imagined I would be.

One day during an emotional meltdown (there were many) I cried to my husband (for the 100th time) that all I wanted was to stay home with my daughter. I felt like I wasn’t living out my purpose and it was tearing me to pieces. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. He finally said to me “Lacey, it’s not realistic for you to be a stay at home mom. You’ve been holding on to this idea that just can’t happen Pires-3Editedand if you don’t let go and accept it than it will continue to poison you.” WHAT? How could he say such a thing? Give up my heart? My soul? My purpose?

And then I heard the Lord whisper, “Aren’t I your heart, your soul, your purpose?” GULP. I hesitantly whispered a “yes.” “Isn’t Rayne really mine? Don’t you trust me with her?” GULP! “Let go, Lacey. My plan is better.”

It took several similar conversations before I had a breaking moment of surrender. I cried out all of the bitterness that was weighing down my heart. I asked the Lord to help me embrace this season of my life instead of merely surviving it. And for the first time since my daughter’s birth, I felt an enormous wave of peace flood over me.

My whole view of myself changed that day. Suddenly, I wasn’t a bad Mom or a failing Mom. I didn’t have to live up to an expectation that I had placed on myself at 12 years old. I could simply be Rayne’s mommy – without restrictions on what that meant. I had a blank canvas.

I still struggle with leaving my daughter. I still feel pain when I miss a milestone or when my husband texts me because the first words out of my daughter’s mouth in the morning are “Oh no…Mama at work.”

However, I also recognize that I have grown in leaps and bounds. I have been stretched and I have faced fears and insecurities that I did not realize I could overcome. And (GULP) it’s made me a much better Mother to my daughter. There were so many things that I needed (and still need) to learn and overcome in order to be the Mom that Rayne needs me to be.

Now I give myself permission to be happy as a full time working Mom. I give myself permission to enjoy every moment with my daughter and then kiss her and walk out the door for work. God knew I would have to be a working Mom from the beginning. He chose to gift me with Rayne when he did. And he has re-made me in ways that only he could in the midst of it.

I clung to my paintbrush believing that I could paint the most beautiful picture. But, I forgot that I serve the greatest artist of all. I encourage you to let go of your paintbrush and let the true artist paint you a masterpiece. It may not look like you wanted it to, but I guarantee it will hold more beauty and depth than anything you can create yourself.

Pires-21I’m Lacey. I am continually learning about myself. I serve an amazing God whose loving forgiveness has forever changed me. I am the mommy of a very feisty 2 1/2 yr old. I am married to the love of my life who is my constant support and my very best friend. I am a supervisor at a fast paced medical clinic. I absolutely love to bake and my pipe dream would be to someday own my own bakery. I love to write and blog as well. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell!

Mommy Mayhem: Finding Grace and Growing Up

Mommy Mayhem


Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life! (See Posts 1234, here)

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.34 AMAs beautiful, wonderful, and exciting as it can be, being a mom is hard. Really hard (as you mothers already know).  As in, why wasn’t anyone brave enough to be real with me about just how incredibly hard it is to be a mother, especially of very little ones?

I thought I was prepared to be a mother, and quite confident that I was going to make a pretty darn good one, thank you very much. I considered myself a fairly steady personality, patient, creative, with years of nannying experience to help me out. Ha. When our beautiful daughter was born, although life was very different from what I expected and things were hard, I knew I was going to be ok.

Even in the midst of doubting my ability to be a mom, I knew deep down I could do this, I was cut out for this, and I loved being a mother. There were many moments of joy, watching my little girl play and learn and grow.

When our son came along, it was quite the surprise. We had definitely wanted another baby but hadn’t expected to have our children 14 mos apart! I kept hearing helpful motherly advice that littles so close together are really hard in the beginning but then it gets way easier as they get older. I suppose I’m just at the beginning because….it’s still really hard.

I mean, yes, it’s been challenging trying to figure out how to care for a home and manage to get everyone fed and clothed and semi-clean, while clambering over mountains of laundry, and digging your way through piles of dishes. But I’ve been learning, and each fear is conquered one at a time. Giving them both meals at the same time. Taking them both on outings by myself. Giving them both a bath at the same time. Some days I do okay, other days I feel like a failure.

While things things have been hard. The hardest part of mothering has been….me. They say motherhood changes you, and that is as true as true comes, but what happens when you don’t realize how hard you’re fighting the change, even while loving being a mom?

What do you do when the change is an emotional roller coaster, transforming you into someone you don’t recognize, someone short-tempered and critical, frustrated and ungentle, easily angered….without grace?

Suddenly, I found myself with my beautiful baby boy, all light and smiles no matter what was going on around him, and I was being rough and harsh for no other reason than I was frustrated. It frightened me, so much so, that I found myself in tears more often than not. What if my children remember me this way, this joy-less, irritated, angry person?

One day, after curled in the fetal position under my covers as my children were finally, if briefly, asleep, I called my sister in desperation. Wise, gracious, gentle, she herself had fought her way through post-partem depression so severe that she had reconsidered having more children. She put words to what I could not. “You feel like…you’re drowning.” But how could I, me, possibly have post-partem depression? Six months after my little guy was born? I was the least likely person I could think of, and yet, it was true.

It’s hard to mother the way you long to when you don’t know if you’re still…you.

I would find myself trying to put my sweet little man to bed, and he was telling me his needs the only way he knew how – crying and crying and crying – and anger would spring up in my heart so suddenly it nearly took my breath away. More than once, I had to slowly set him down and step back, breathing a desperate prayer for God to free me from the anger that had no place in my heart or home.

How was I to teach my beautiful son how to be gentle if I offered noScreen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.44 AM gentleness? How would he ever learn about grace, the overwhelming all-consuming grace that our heavenly Father holds out unreservedly to us, if I never gave freely of it? I felt so ashamed. Yet, I’m so thankful that God in His wisdom saw fit to make me a mother –not just so that I could help my children grow up, but so that He could help me to grow up.

I used to love working with ceramics in high school – it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. As we were working with the clay, little by little it would dry out and harden, even if we tried to keep it wet and soft enough to be pliable. If a piece of work wasn’t forming right and becoming too hard, we had to break it down, crush it completely, and throw it into a big bin full of ruined projects and water…a sloppy, mucky mess. After a few days at the bottom of the bin, the clay began to soften again, and could be scooped out, the water worked and kneaded out of it, and once again it was soft, pliable, willing clay.

The challenges of motherhood have allowed me to see that I’ve been that piece that hardened before it could be fully made, dried out by my own apathy and busyness, made unyielding by my pride and need to be in control. The only way for me to be made into Christ’s likeness is to be completely unmade out of mine. And here I am, at the bottom of the muck bin, a broken version of myself, but I am being remade. One day at a time, one failure at a time, one humbling moment at a time.

In that remaking, the prayer of my heart is that God would fill me to overflowing with His astounding, undeserved grace so that I can pour out grace to my children.

I am not the mother I want to be. I don’t know how. But, I was made by a great and loving Father who desires the best for me and my family, who created this role of motherhood, and formed me with my children in mind. He is faithful to answer our cries, to give wisdom when we ask, and to change us when we cannot change ourselves, to teach us how to mother our children, to grow us up.

We need Him as mothers, desperately.

I suppose there are a few lucky ones out there who figured that out early on and perhaps have had a smoother journey into motherhood, but for the more stubborn ones of us, He loves us enough to let us journey down into the dark pit of self so that we can realize the empty road we’ve taken alone, and find that we cannot accomplish our calling as mothers this way. Then we find ourselves on our knees, finally, crushed and broken and a mess of tears and sweatpants and leftover Cheerios, and our need for Him is finally, truly known. It is acute. It is devastating. It is freeing. It is the only thing that can unmake us so that we can be made again into the mothers He alone has called us to be. And He kneels down next to us, His own precious children, with outstretched loving arms and grace-filled eyes, waiting for us to finally run to Him instead of away.

The truth of it is, when you get down to the core of things, being a mother is a high, hard, beautiful calling. The truth is we are only human; our efforts alone will always fall short, but we serve a big God full of grace with whom all thing -all things- ARE possible!

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.12.09 AMIn all my free time (haha), I’ve been reading a book by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. If you are a mom, and life is hard and you don’t have it all figured out like you’ve convinced your fellow playgroup moms you do, you need to read this book.

This season of my life has challenged me to fall at the feet of the One who loves my children even more than I do, who loves me even at my worst moments, who is faithful to change me and remake me. In one of the first chapters, Sarah Mae says, “My kids don’t need to see a supermama. They need to see a mama who needs a Super God”, and later adds that “godly parenting is fueled by God’s grace, not my efforts.” This has resounded over and over in my mind and heart – I am only human, and my efforts alone will always fall short, but I serve a big God full of grace with whom all things – all things – are possible. Part of the gift of this book is the encouragement that we do not have to do this high, hard calling of motherhood alone. God meant for us to travel this journey with other moms, being real and teaching and learning and edifying one another for His glory and for the sake of our families. It has reminded me again of all of the beauty of motherhood, made more exquisite as He grows not only our children, but us as well, and He gives grace abundantly to those who ask.

About the author:

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.11.52 AMHeidi is 28 years old and lives in Stanwood, WA with her wonderful husband Isaac and their two beautiful children, Jolie & Gideon. She’s a stay-at-home mom who gives piano lessons during naptime, loves music and late-night singing with her husband, and enjoying God’s magnificent creation outdoors. She grew up as a missionary kid to the Marshall Islands in Micronesia and in Laos, next to Thailand, before moving with her family to CO and then adventuring out to the great Pacific Northwest to study music in college. Isaac & Heidi met at Northwest University, and have now been married for 5 wonderful years.

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the One Thing It Takes

Mommy Mayhem

 Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life! (See Posts 1, 2, 3, 4 here)

By Nicole Zinn

I sat with my grieving, ever-so-long-time friend. Her son, for whom I had watched her struggle and agonize over the years, had just been diagnosed with Aspergers’ Syndrome – in the days when they called it that, before those diagnoses all became ASD. She knew my life, my family. At the moment, she specifically knew of my son, my precious Tillman, with cerebral palsy, autism, borderline mental impairment. She knew also of the source of my strength, my gracious Lord Jesus – a Lord she did not yet share. She looked up at me with eyes full of pain and said those words that haunt the heart of every mother – “I just hope that I have what it takes.” And I sat quiet, loving her intensely – “Oh, my friend.” Deep breath. “You don’t. You don’t have what it takes. And I don’t have what it takes. Let me tell you Who does.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.23.22 PM Permit me to introduce myself and my family. My name is Nicole and this summer I will celebrate 15 years of marriage to Brian, the man whom I have battled, undermined, neglected – who has loved me unspeakably well, anyway, and without whom I don’t know who I would be. Our oldest child is also the newest to our family – 15 year old Amber, who joined us three years ago in her own season of grief. Eleven year old Tillman is next, whom you have already met – followed 40 minutes later by his twin sister Celeste. And rounding out our family in all kinds of crazy ways are twin ten year old brothers, Andrew and Caleb. Yes, you read that right. Five kids. Two sets of twins. I’ve been known to say that Brian and I got as far as deciding we were ready to have ONE child – and that is as much of the planning as God has ever had us participate in. Let me tell you – I do not have what it takes.

A number of years ago, in a winter of particular discontent, with four babies at my feet, I mounted a war of expectations against my husband. Now… I am a warrior to be reckoned with, and ever-so-strong though he is, I ensured that he could not win. My siege-works were mounted against his defenses, and there would be no quarter for him.

But… the Lord, he is a warrior, the Lord Almighty is his name. His breath lays bare the foundations of the earth – and this is what he breathed to me, quiet and terrible at once: “The wise woman, Nicole, the wise woman builds her house. But with her own hands, her own hands, Nicole, the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1) My selfishness! Laid bare. My self-righteousness! Laid bare. My petty, grasping, unloving, ungrateful, desperate, wounded, bleeding, weary heart… laid bare.

And I knew in that moment what I share now with you. I am both of those women. I am the wise woman who loves and plans and prays and labors for my family as an expert builder… And I am the woman who systematically sets out to tear down everything that I love most, with my own strong hands, cynical blow by cynical blow. Truth? The truth is that Destroyer, that one who tears down, is my nature. Left alone, that is where I will go every. single. time. Listen to the gale that roars from my lips as I hurry my children to their schedule – and tear at their character at the same time. Watch the flames that burn from my eyes as I char those bridges painstakingly Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.23.31 PMbuilt. Hear the blades that whistle toward my husband – and then cry out with me – Who will rescue me from this body of death?!??

That great church-builder, Paul, had the same question. He wrestled with his own dual identity, his own one who tears down nature. And he had one answer… Jesus. Paul tells us that the mind, or the thinking, of his nature brought death, but Jesus transformed his mind, transformed his thinking, so that he brought life and peace. (Romans 7-8)

Life and peace… The Lord, he is a warrior, the Lord Almighty is his name, laying bare that nature of death in us… so that we can end our wars, and be those who bring life and peace. So that we can end our tearing down, and be those who build up.

But, how (I have asked… and you might as well), how can my thinking be transformed? Many seem to place their faith in Jesus and do not live this building-up life. How, how does Jesus do this in me?

In the fall of 2003, years after committing my life to Christ, years after setting out in faltering pursuit of time with God in his Word and in prayer, with a son and daughter barely two years old, two six month old baby boys, and constant medical appointments for our Tillman… In that fall of 2003, my husband and I took a step. We took our faltering, back and forth, up and down, private devotional lives and moved them into community. We committed with a group of like-minded pursuers to meet weekly over the course of nine months for discussion of an in-depth Bible study done daily. Accountable now to the group, challenged to continue to encounter God in season and out of season, we built habits (Real habits! Steady habits!) of drawing away to sit at the feet of Jesus and be shaped by his words. Habits of actively allowing him to transform our thinking.

Nearly ten years later, we are still there – now, with our children.

(Did you catch that season that our children were in? Please don’t tell me you need to wait for an easier season of life!)

Do you know what happens over time when you build habits of drawing away to sit at Jesus’ feet in time of prayer and Bible study?

Jesus said it best (as usual!): “I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:47-49)

In Matthew, Jesus calls that person wise. A wise person has let Jesus transform their thinking.

By God’s grace, Paul thinking was transformed and Jesus gave him what it took to build a church. By God’s grace, my thinking is transformed and Jesus gives me what it takes to build a family.

We have known floodwaters. There are parts of our story that would make your heart sick and your body weary, just as there have been those kinds of parts to your story. I have no doubt that there will be more. But our house stands firm. It is well built on solid rock, being built up more and more all the time. Sometimes I start to tear it down again, but habits of time with Jesus once again transform my thinking, and I pick back up those tools and begin to rebuild.

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 9.23.40 PMLet me say to you now, “Oh, friend.” Deep breath. “You don’t have what it takes. And I don’t have what it takes. Let me tell you Who does.”

Whatever it takes… find a friend to help you, a community group. Ruthlessly comb through your schedule. Mercilessly discipline yourself. Whatever it takes. Get wisdom. Get transformed thinking. Get time at the feet of Jesus.

Mommy Mayhem: Finding the Joy

Mommy Mayhem

Mommy Mayhem is a blog series leading up to Mother’s Day 2013 meant to encourage and bless women as we experience the good and bad chaos that comes with being a mom.  This series has many guest blogs from women in many walks of life: stay at home moms, working moms, moms with grown children, and moms with young children. My request in this is that my readers use  the comment section to bless woman with encouragement and blessings. These woman aren’t professional writers, they are just like you (and me) women simply sharing their journey! If you like, feel free to share and bless other Mom’s experiencing the mayhem of life!

By me (Ashley the official Chambers Chaos Blogger)

SO, me and Jesus, we had a chat. It went something like this,

“I’m just tired Lord, stinkin’ tired.

My kids are acting terriible, I lost my temper about 60 times today. I feel like I just can’t do this–I will ruin my kids.Why did you give me Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.06.42 PMso many so close together. I am a terrible frazzled mother. This isn’t fair.

And frankly, Lord (You know, because adding Lord–makes my complaints righteous), doing dishes twice a day sucks, and I’m 4 loads behind in laundry. The kids haven’t bathed in 4 days, and I just don’t want to do this. Obviously, Lord (again-righteousness), being a stay at home mom was a terrible idea.

I also failed miserable at ministering to those ladies this week–I didn’t exactly teach them anything good. In fact, I lost my temper with my children in front of some of them. You definately picked the WRONG person.

And also Lord, my husband and I are just not getting along. We just keep arguing and I just want peace, but I’m too tired to try to talk nicely. I’m too frazzled to attempt peace, why can’t he just understand that? I’m just resigning.

And Jesus (gotta switch it up), I know that you want me to do those things with a grateful heart and serve you by serving them, but I just can’t want to. I am done–there’s nothing left. NOTHING.

So take it Lord take it all. Give me peace and give me strength and give me something–because what you gave me isn’t working. Amen”

The Holy Spirit wasn’t silent for long.

In fact, God sometimes speaks boldly through me parenting Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.05.19 PMmy children.

This week my 5 yr old (and, I suppose, I’d earn the adult version) of “Mostest Complaints”as Oren would say.

In a 25 minute time frame while getting ready for a trip to the zoo, he complained about having to wear “hard pants” (btw, these are jeans. Soft pants = sweats or elastic waist pants), a short sleeved shirt, socks, socks with shoes, sandals with no socks, sweatshirt, wearing underwear, not wearing underwear because they were too small, too big, too itchy, too irritating…etc etc etc etc.

(“Official pity party–now taking membership applications. Inquire within.” Should read the sign that hung on my door this week.)

I told Oren, “you know, there are kids all over the world who don’t have clothes. They have one shirt and pray for shoes. If you can’t stop complaining and praise Jesus for what you have then I’m sending all your clothes to those kids”.

Now, please hear me, I usually don’t take this approach.

My son, bless his heart, started crying that there were kids that didn’t have clothes. (bad choice momma). But more so he cried, “But mom I’ll be naked. So maybe I’ll wear these and then we can send something else”.

I told him that he needed to make peace with his clothing and be thankful. So we prayed. (And, I suppose now were sending some stuff overseas–which isn’t a problem, but now I definately have to follow through!)

Then a still small bold (maybe slightly irritating) voice said, “I think maybe you have the same problem-be thankful, Ash, be thankful. My blessings abound in your life–look for those”

gulp.

But, Jesus wasn’t done speaking to this issue in my heart.Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.06.06 PM

During small group on Sunday morning, we were reading Galatians chapter 4:

Paul criticizes the church in Galatia, by basically saying, “Stop stop stop! You are adding to the gospel more things than are necessary. The people you are listening to, their voices are wrong. Listen to me. The things in your past enslaved you, but you are free from them. Don’t go there again.”

In verse 15, Paul questions them saying, “Where is your joy? You’ve lost it. You used to care for things equally as hard…but you did it with exponential desire and care. You had joy.” (PS these are from the Ashley paraphrase–not at all scholarly)

gulp….

 Focus on worshipping me,  serving me, and all those things will happen because you do them for me. Find joy in them because they are all blessings. 

Lord, I am sorry.

I am loved. I am known. I am adopted, wanted, cherished. I have heaven as my resource, Jesus as my strength, and the Spirit as my guide. So.there’s.always.that.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 8.06.28 PMAnd it’s more than enough. So let my “thankfuls” fall from my lips–let me make peace with my difficult situations and let my life be glory-filled.