8 Ways Mothers are Courageous

We moms don’t think of ourselves as courageous.

When you wake up in the morning, you can guess how the day will go. The toddler will demand breakfast. The kindergartener will dress himself in something strange. You will make all breakfasts and lunches within 30 minutes of your day and make the mad dash that is getting everyone out the door. You do your best to not ignore your husband as you tend to the children and the thought might cross your mind — what do I need today? — before you shove it aside to keep up with the clock.

The day continues in this manner (feed the dog, throw laundry in the wash, put away the dishes, wash dirty dishes (again), etc. etc.) until oldest children come home, dinner gets made, husband comes home, the desperate pleas to  the children to go to bed begin, and you are finally able to collapse in bed only to begin again 7 hours later.

There are times when the day feels hectic, tiresome, plain.

Rarely heroic.

Definitely not brave.

And yet as God is calling me to be courageous this year I wonder, can motherhood be courageous?

Webster‘s defines courage simply as

the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

Contemplating courage, I look around at the mamas in the world and I see them persevering through the troubles of our fallen state within the world.

I see you, mamas, learning how to be mothers in the face of dangerous health complications, mental distress, and daily trials. You are courageous.

I see you, mama, nursing your child, supplementing with formula, trying to figure out why he or she is not gaining weight. You are courageous.

I see you, mommy, running to your child who just fell from the slide across the playground. You are courageous.

I see you, mama, walking your screaming child all hours of the night. You are courageous.

I see you, mommy, sending your child off to school with his special needs and unique behaviors. You are courageous.

I see you, mom, setting aside all of the work, the chores, the tasks in order to listen carefully to the thoughts and dreams of your child as you tuck her in at night.

you are courageous

Yes, you mama. Every day you prove that you are able to do the difficult. The dangerous.

You give of yourself without a second thought.

You provide daily needs to a child who might turn against you as a teen.

You love without abandon in a world of death.

Can motherhood be courageous? Yes, mama. Yes it can. And yes, mama. Yes, you are.

Motherhood is courageous. Motherhood is the ability to do something that you know is difficult and, at times, dangerous. Every day we mamas are courageous. It’s time for us to start acknowledging it, claiming it, living in it. And when we feel we are not, cannot, will not be courageous, we look to the One who is in us, who supplies it all, and find that courage is right there in Him, in us all along.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – Jesus (John 16:33)

be strong and courageous mini


In case you’re wondering about the website in my graphic, The Toothless Grin will be moving with me to http://www.LeahDEverson.com very soon!!

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What I am Fearing the Most (and my lifeline)

He approaches the steep blue slide with excitement and gusto. The same slide that we went down together a few weeks ago only to have him cling to me and cry out in fear as we dropped to the bottom. I have never seen Ben go down a slide by himself, let alone this massive one. “Are you going to go down it?”

“Yes!” His answer is definitive and with confidence he takes his place at the top.

I grab my phone and snap a picture.

This is courage.

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Now it’s my turn. I am sitting at the top of my own slide. The slide I dread: Change. Inching forward, preparing for the drop, my heart races, my palms sweat, and I wonder: Is this a good idea?

Two weeks ago I finished working at Scum of the Earth Church because we are preparing to move to Minnesota. The move I prayed for, cried for, ached for is coming. I think of being with our sisters and brothers, our parents and grandparents, our friends once again and my soul is thrilled. But I think of all that we will leave behind and I am scared.

What if this is a bad decision?

Instead of seeking employment right away, I have decided to pursue writing and speaking as a ministry. A new website is in the works (www.LeahDEverson.com – oh my word, really?!) and I continue working on my first book proposal. I have invested time, energy, and money into developing this gift I’m told I have. But fear tingles in my fingers and sinks into my gut as I sit down to write. I worry about rejection. Failure. Ridicule.

What if I’m not good enough?

Driving to church on Sunday, Jack burst into tears. “I don’t want to move to Minnesota. I don’t want to be away from Finn.” My heart breaks for him as I think of all of the friends who themselves have moved away and now he is the one saying the big goodbye.

Are we crazy to make this change?

Are we going to be ok?

Am I going to be ok?

Before the anxiety hit, before the reality of the move set in, I prayed over the year asking God, “What do you have for me this year? Change is coming. And it’s bigger than I can even realize. What do you want this time to look like for me?”

One word: Courage.

Webster’s defines courage as: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

Yes. Fear. The fear that creeps into my soul, squeezes my heart cold as I will myself to courage. Be courageous! But how?

Desperate, I pull out my Bible and find the only verse I can think of that uses the word.

“Be strong and courageous.” The phrase is repeated three times in Joshua 1 as God’s people prepare to enter the promised the land. They too face change, uncertainty, risk, and most definitely fear. In order to reinforce his call, God tells them over and over again, “Be strong and courageous.” Why? “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

As He states over and over and over again in the Bible, God promises his people here, “I will be with you.”

God will be with you

God will be with you in the pain. He will be with you in the uncertainty. He will be with you in the loss of the job, the late night colic, the death of a loved one, and the move of a lifetime. In those fears and anxieties you think you can never face down, He repeats these words “Be strong and courageous… for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I cling to them like a lifeline.

The past two weeks I have been struggling to write these words – or anything at all – because fear has gripped me. Fear of failure. Fear of missed calling. Fear of rejection, shame. I have reached out to others for prayer all the while feeling that my fears are right. I am not cut out for this. My dreams are fantasies. My sense of calling is a lie. But in the midst of my doubt, I have sensed a steadiness growing in my soul. “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. For I am with you.”

I cannot write alone. I cannot move “home” alone. I cannot parent alone, be a faithful spouse alone, or even clean the house alone. Every step of the way I am dependent on the One who gave Himself for me. Thank God He has promised to be with me.

And so, trusting God’s faithful love – and firm grip around my soul – I lean forward… to drop down the slide.

(More coming soon.)

be strong and courageous

5 Ways I’m Staying Positive in this Nasty Cold/Flu Season

Here we are again. A new year, a new cold/flu season.

We mamas take the extra time needed to be sure hands are washed, doorknobs are wiped, clothes are scrubbed, sink handles are cleaned, and yet we still all get it. The terrible, horrible, sniffling, sneezing, hacking, wheezing, feverish, achy, itching, stomach turning, no good, very bad, sick. Confined to our beds, couches, and gliders, we try to get the rest we need to get better, all while caring for the needs of our little ones so that they can get better.

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The last 24 hours I have been ready to throw in the towel. Ready to gripe and grumble and feel sorry for myself. “I can’t hold any of the new babies at church. I can’t sleep at night, because I can’t breathe. I’m sure I’ll get the stomach flu the boys had and I’m just waiting for it to hit.”

Whine. Whine. Whine.

I don’t really like being with me, today.

But I’m fighting the whiner in me in order to choose joy. To choose peace. To choose contentment. Instead of seeking sympathy (“oh poor you!”), I want to seek the good in my circumstances. Because the truth is, in the grand scheme of things, I will get better. In a week or two or three, my nose will be clear, my kids will sleep through the night, I won’t be dependent on Nyquil, I will be ok. Until then, I am doing these things:

1. I am enjoying my Christmas tree that is still up because I haven’t had the energy to take it down. The sparkling lights remind me to hope; that there is beauty all around me.

2. I am appreciating the work of my husband who has done several loads of laundry, taken care of meals and the kids, and has stepped up to care for me when I need it. It has not been easy on him to see me struggling to get out of bed and he continues on. I know I don’t tell him enough how much I appreciate his work. So, I’m bragging on him to you. Maybe it’ll get back to him.

3. I am snuggling with my 3 year old who has been extra cuddly these days. Even though his fretful, endless, “Mommy, I want you” grates on my nerves, I choose to stop, sit, and hold him. I know he needs to be comforted as I need to be comforted. So, we cling to each other. Sniffling and tired.

4. I am learning new skills, like how to effectively rinse out my nasal passages or hock a loogie. TMI? Sorry.

5. I am accepting that these days are not “normal” (if that even exists). I am growing in my ability to bend a little, go with the flow, roll with punches, and practice those other clichés that go against my nature. Yesterday I dealt with a major blow out, broken dishes, and our puppy’s allergic reaction to a bug bite. I took deep breathes, noted that this is just another day, that these things need my attention more than my writing or the laundry, and believed I could get through it. I did not yell (this is a big deal, I don’t know how much more shocked I could be that I did not yell when the dishes fell or the poop ruined a one of my throw pillows). I did not feel like the world was going to end. I just knew that yesterday was horrible. And that it would end. It did.

All in all, I am feeling better. Not because my body is better, but because my  heart is full. I am choosing to not let this thing get me down, but to seek out goodness in it. I am changing into a mama who accepts her needs, limitations, and weaknesses in order to be strong. 

Has your family been sniffling, too? How do you cope with the sickness and fatigue during this season?

I’m Giving Up the Normal Life

Jennifer Garner is my new hero. On the Ellen show, she faced rumors concerning her “baby bump” with confidence, poise, and style. Smiling triumphantly, she said,

I do [have a bump]… I am not pregnant. I have had three kids and there is a bump. From now on ladies I will have a bump. And it will be my baby bump. And let’s all just settle in and get used to it. It’s not going anywhere.  I have a bump; it’s name is Violet, Sam, Sera…

(you’ve gotta watch it)  

As I considered the whole New Year’s Resolution thing over the past couple of weeks, I realized a couple of things. Not only did I realize why I would not follow through with my resolution to keep the house clean, but I realized that with many of my ideas I was seeking to become something I’m not: childless.

Topping my list were:

  • Keep a clean house
  • Get rid of baby bump
  • Be more structured and productive with my time
  • Get more sleep

… basically, have the things I had before children. Rewind the clock and become the person I was 7 years ago before my skin stretched, my eyes sagged, and my mind got fuzzy.

But in a moment of peace – while stroking my son’s boyish hair and touching his delicate fingers, after one of his all out blood-curling, screaming, horrendous tantrums – I started wondering, do I really want to take back the last 7 years?

Am I so interested in erasing evidence of my pregnancy, my child rearing, my family that I would dedicate a year to those things?

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Is what I really need to return to a “normal” life (because that’s how I often think of life pre-children, normal)?

Or can I settle into the life that is? Accepting that I cannot function at the same energy levels I had pre-pregnancy. That now my time and brain are roughly divided between my two littles, my husband, and my pursuits. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for extra things such as working out or cleaning more hours of the week.

Can I finally settle into the reality that I am a mommy? That I am a mommy blogger. That that I cannot expect to have hours of uninterrupted time to myself. That  I will not be a marathon runner, a master crafter, or a foodie-chef. I will not always have the house as clean as I did before Jack was born, and that’s ok. No. That’s fantastic.

Mommy

I will drop everything when my kids bonk their heads playing power rangers.

I will kiss the invisible boo boo on the middle finger that is extended towards my face and giggle incessantly inside.

I will wake up for sickness, bad dreams, nighttime snuggles, and everything in between.

I will tend to my needs within the needs of everyone else. I will take the time I need, but I won’t expect more than I can have.

I will accept these limitations.

I will be content.

After all, I have a baby bump. And its name is Jack and Ben. It’s not going anywhere. So, let’s all settle in and get used to it.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 

-Psalm 127:3

Been There… (a story)

Taken in Minneapolis, *before* the following incident...

Taken in Minneapolis, *before* the following incident…

We traveled last week and if you’ve ever traveled with a potty-training-toddler, you’ve probably experienced (or feared!) what happened to us.

After an uneventful flight, we were waiting for our luggage at DIA while Ben and Jack ran around exerting all of their pent up, over-tired energy when suddenly Ben stopped and his knees slackened while a look of panic crossed his face.

“Poop!” he cried.

Frantically, I picked him up and ran to the nearest bathroom only to discover we were too late. He had pooped alright. And as I pulled down his pull up, it escaped onto his shorts, his legs… And all of my frustration of traveling and being alone in this stall in those circumstances came pouring out…

“Oh my gosh! Oh no! You already did it! Oh, it’s on your shorts… And legs! And I don’t have any wipes… Stand still!”

I quickly called my husband on my cell phone to have him bring the extra clothes to the bathroom door. But the mess?!

“Do you need any help? Can I get you some paper towels? I’ve been exactly where you are.”

It was the voice of my airport angel, calling from the next stall. The Minnesota Nice in me almost rejected this woman’s offer (can you believe it?!), but swallowing my pride I said, “That would be awesome. THANK YOU.” Moments later, a handful of wet towels followed by a handful of dry were passed over the stall door.

After slopping up the mess (those brown paper towels don’t crinkle very well, you know what I mean?), I carried my bare-bottomed-boy out to my husband and received the greetings from another mama, “I’ve been there!”

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Mommy-hood Moments

That moment when you realize the dishes in the sink are from 6 days ago.

That moment when, while changing a messy diaper, you notice your baby’s “what the heck?” expression while simultaneously noting a bit of poop on his upper lip.

That moment when you realize you have been absent mindedly receiving from the baby tiny pieces of food, dirt, paper, etc. from the basement rug for several minutes and now have quite the collection. –!!! (time to roomba)

That moment when you find a clump of hair mixed in with the toys.

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That moment when your active baby lets you snuggle for one more moment.

That moment when you discover your son dried his soapy, wet play dough off with your husbands towel turning it neon yellow.

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That moment when you hear your husband, preschooler and baby all laughing at the same time.

That moment when you can’t figure out why you’re feeling weird and realize you’re menstruating for the first time in two years.

That moment when you remember there’s no such thing as perfect or simple when it comes to motherhood and feel freedom, love, and grace just when you need it most.