Before I Was a Mom

From the archives. 

photo credit

Before I was a mom, a clean home seemed reasonable.

Before I was a mom, I thought there was only one right method for most mommy dilemmas.

Before I was a mom, I didn’t realize that closing the bathroom door is a universal cue for children to need you.

Before I was a mom, I thought I had mastered patience.

Before I was a mom, a “quick errand” really was quick.

Before I was a mom, I didn’t appreciate my own mom nearly enough.

Before I was a mom, the phrase “sleeping like a baby” made sense.

Before I was a mom, I didn’t realize that sometimes all the parenting advice will fail and only prayer will work.

Before I was a mom, I thought my parents exaggerated when they said “enjoy every moment, because before you know it your kids will be grown.” Now, I believe it.

Before I was a mom, I never thought I could read Dr. Seuss so many times without losing my sanity.

Before I was a mom, I didn’t know that getting three children to nap simultaneously deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

Before I was a mom, I didn’t realize how much more precious chubby, sticky fingers are than a mountain of diamonds.  

Wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day to my own dear mother and mother-in-law and the many wonderful women who have embraced the high calling of motherhood.

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityProverbs 31, & Finer Things Friday

I Am a Sinner. I Am a Saint

(A post inspired by Lent and an empty Pinterest “about” box.) 

Today marks the first day of Lent. Until a few years ago, I thought Lent was a Catholic excuse to eat more fish.

What is Lent really? Lent is the period of forty days leading up to Easter, when many members of the Church remember Christ as our suffering Messiah. It is an integral part of the Church Calendar, which has been used for centuries to point Christians to Christ, in all His glory.

Like many things, the Church Calendar has been abused. Some have turned it into an excuse to sin because, well, “we’ll repent at Lent.” Just because some have distorted the meaning, doesn’t negate the beauty it can bring to the Christian walk.

As a fallen sinner, it is so easy for me to want to focus on just one part of God. To worship just His goodness or just His justice. To “worship the babe in the manger, but forsake the Christ of the cross.”

The Church Calendar exalts Christ in His many different manifestations: human Man, suffering Messiah, risen King.

Yes, it is common to “give up something for Lent.” But “giving up something” is not the point. Making sacrifices serves as a potent reminder, but the purpose of Lent is to point us to Christ, who gave up everything for us.

 photo credit

What on earth does this have to do with my “About” box on Pinterest?

I just set up a Pinterest account (send me your usermame, I’d love to follow you!) and sat staring at the empty “about” box.

I am a wife, a mother, a blogger. But what really defines who I am? Two conflicting terms kept floating through my mind: sinner and saint.

I am a sinner

My first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned. I followed their footsteps, choosing forbidden fruit instead of faithfulness. Sin stains my heart. Self-love motivates even my best actions. 

Idolatry entwines my heart in its ugly grasp. I turn from my Maker to things of this earth.

Yet, the Creator of this world, whom angels and seraphim and cherubim and all of nature worships, came down and shed His blood to wash me clean. He sacrificed everything, even fellowship with God the Father, to redeem me.

I am a saint, washed in the blood of Christ

Because of His atoning blood, I am washed clean.

I am a saint.

The words sound so lofty. Saint? That brings up images of great heroes of the faith. Of men and women who changed the world.

But Christ’s blood has washed me clean. His sacrifice atoned for me. Now the Father sees me through Christ, a saint.

Whether we observe Lent or not, may we worship the suffering Messiah, who took sinners like us and renamed us saints through His precious blood.

Linked up at Women Living Well, Proverbs 31 Thursdays &  Finer Things Friday

Love Seeks Not Her Own

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner: red and pink hearts decorate the stores, roses are on sale and restaurants are booked.

The History of Valentine’s Day

Little is known about St. Valentine, whose “saint day” was transformed into the day of romantic love. There were several martyrs names Valentine in the early church.

One priest named Valentine was caught performing marriage ceremonies for Christians. Since serving Christians was a crime, but Emperor Claudius II was so fascinated with Valentine that he pardoned him. That is, until Valentine tried to convert the Emperor. That infuriated the Emperor who condemned St. Valentine to death.

Centuries later, Chaucer popularized the belief that halfway through the second month, on February 14th, the birds come out to mate. St. Valentine’s Day was transformed into a day of romantic love.

Love birds

 photo credit

Romantic love is a glorious thing. God blessed Adam and Eve in the garden and gave to mankind the secretness and sacredness of marriage.

But all too often romantic love is degraded into lust and self-love taints even our love for family, friends or neighbors.

Biblical love is so different than the world’s cheap substitute! Several lovely bloggers have anticipated the arrival of Valentine’s Day with a series on Biblical Love (based on 1 Corinthians 13).

Kasey’s beautiful post, Love “does not seek her own” keeps ringing in my mind.

Love does not seek her own.

Love does what is best for others, with no though to how it will personally benefit.

A cursory look at my own heart reveals self-love and self-serving tainting even good actions:

  • Did I take my daughter to the bathroom because I didn’t want her to wake me up later OR because she is beyond thrilled when she wakes up dry?
  • Did I start dinner early so that my husband could enjoy a warm meal when he arrived home OR just to cross it off my list of things to do?
  • Did I wrote a post because I think it will help me gain readers OR because I hope it encourages and blesses those who read it?

My love fails.

But, as Kasey said, “the indescribable love of God didn’t leave me to wallow in my wretchedness.” God’s Love points us back to Himself. To true selfless Love: giving His own self freely on the cross, to save sinners like me.

With the arrival of Valentine’s Day, my prayer is that God’s love will work in my heart so that, like St. Valentine, I do not seek my own: whether that means preaching to a cruel Emperor or washing the dishes cheerfully again and again and again.

Further reading on the origins of Valentine’s Day:

The Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Valentine’s Day
Wikipedia: St Valentine’s Day (since, of course, everything on Wikipedia can be believed)

Linked up at GratituesdayDomestically Divine TuesdaysTitus 2sdaysTeach Me Tuesdays

Eternal God. Mortal Man.

Happy New Year, dear friends!

Our family is back home after a lovely Christmas holiday with a new-to-me working laptop in tow! Hurrah! [And many thanks to my generous brother!]

Another year has ended. Can you believe it? Another chapter in the quick progression of time has closed.

As I look back on 2011, God’s grace and goodness to our family are repeatedly evident: Josh finished law school, passed the bar and started a year-long judicial clerkship. A precious little blessing joined our family and I got to quit my online job and “just” be mom.

Looking forward to 2012, I know that God’s hand will continue to write each of our stories.

It could be brimming with sorrow or bursting with joy. None of us know. But standing at the brink of the year, the future is an adventure shrouded in mystery.

I do know this year holds change for our family. Joshua’s job ends in August and we don’t know what he’ll do next. Part of me is excited as we wait to see how the future unfolds.

Part of me is impatient to know. To know where we will be a year from now. What state we will live in. What job Josh will have. What home we’ll live in.

photo by Sias van Schalkwyk

The New Year’s sermon, from Psalm 90, “the prayer of Moses, the man of God,” reminded me again to put these small changes in their proper light.

Psalm 90 was most likely written near the end of Moses’ life, as he and the children of Israel wandered in the desert.

What were the children of Israel doing? Waiting to die. Except for Caleb and Joshua, all the adults had to die before their children could enter the promised land.

The psalm breathes with the fleeting nature of life. Man is “like a dream” and “like grass” that withers.

There in the desert, the mothers and fathers couldn’t build lovely homes to leave as an inheritance for their children or work hard so they “could enjoy a nice retirement.”

Yet the psalm is full of hope and life. The Lord was their “dwelling place in all generations.”

Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the cares of this world, with home and work and just plain old stuff.

As we begin 2012, may Moses’ prayer become our prayer too:

12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!”

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas dear readers! Wishing you and yours a worshipful, peaceful day! May Jesus, who came to redeem us from the deadness of our spiritual winter and bring us into His life, fill your day with His blessing!

My laptop broke on Thursday so I’ll be taking a blogging break until it gets fixed.