Well, here comes one of those introspective, honest, and a bit vulnerable posts. Been waiting to write this one, but life with Littles and my three kids don't leave much time to actually sit down and write more than a few complete sentences without completely depleting brain cells! (Though I wouldn't change this life for the world!).
Something about changing seasons and especially fall leave me in a reflective mode. It tends to remind me of how quickly time passes, has me looking back, evaluating the here and now, and gazing ahead to the future. Something about everything changing from green to beautiful colors...and then eventually falling to the ground and looking barren. Something about the hot weather, turning to crisp amazing fall weather...and then to the bitter cold. (Something about watching the snowflakes fall most of this day in October has really had me in a introspective mood. Even though it's far too warm to stick and it's really just flurries, the reminder of what is to come.....argh!)
Lately I've been thinking about how my own parenting has evolved and changed through the seasons.
Maybe it's been the realization of how rapidly time is flying by.
Maybe it's been the conversations with so many friends and family members talking about their own seasons of life, struggles and victories. How many of them are also changing their own perspectives and impacting their families in great ways.
Maybe it's been that we are entering new seasons in our own lives.
It's partly been multiple discussions about grace and talking about what we want for our own families (as in what values matter most, memories we want them to have, and hopes we have for our children).
It's partly been how much heart and soul I pour into every little child that comes into our home for care. Whether it's just as a back up when a regular sitter isn't available, for a temporary season while families are navigating difficult seasons, or whether it's the ones that are here on a regular basis. Investing in them so deeply has caused me to reflect and pull inward. I NEVER want to see a little one JUST as a paycheck, even for one single day. The day that happens...the day that I don't feel like I'm offering a ministry of my heart....my door will be locked. Guaranteed.
It's partly looking ahead to the adventure that we are preparing for and seeking God's provision for in regards to where we see our entire family serving on another continent in the next year or two. (Lord, please don't let it be any longer than that!! PLEASE!).
It's partly looking back to how much of an impact being part of Jill Savage's book launch team for "No More Perfect Moms" had on my heart and looking forward with anticipation in the months ahead as the second book in the series (No More Perfect Kids...co-authored with Dr. Kathy Koch who writes AMAZING books about parenting) is in the works. Preparing my heart to be ready to participate again has left me "thinking" and reflecting.
I look back and just see mountains of regrets. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not wallowing in pity or sinking in conviction. I'm just honestly looking back.
I see the things I do with my many "littles" and the mom I am now....and look at the mom I was so many years ago. I'm different, but in a much better way.
Part of the change comes from unchangeable circumstances.
For a couple of years, I was clinically depressed. I was in the early years of Lupus that was seldom under control. I didn't like who I became while taking the meds to control the symptoms. When I didn't take the meds, I couldn't function physically as a mother. I had very little support outside of my husband since we live hundreds of miles from family and we often moved before developing friendships. Those days were insanely difficult and no one really knew the depth outside our doors. Financially we greatly struggled, either from circumstances out of our control or from our own stupid mistakes or sinful actions (yes, I said that.....I do believe it's sinful when you are spending money outside the will of God on things you don't need when you've been convicted of it and continue to do so). Life WAS hard.....
So much could have been different...IF...
I weren't so uptight.
So full of pride. SO full of pride. That needs repeating.
I had reached out for help OR accepted help when offered instead of claiming I had it under control.
I had looked to Him FIRST instead of LAST.
I had embraced GRACE more often. Either accepting it or offering it.
Looked to God to fill in the "holes" in my heart instead of expecting my husband or children to fill those up.
Really embraced each season of life and understood that what I did mattered instead of listening to the lies of the world that motherhood wasn't "enough".
Let go of my self-imposed expectations and lowered the unattainable bar I had set.
Just lived in that one day.....instead of wasting so much worrying about the next day or regretting the previous one.
If I had not let bitterness, frustrations, lack of forgiveness, jealousy, etc... take root.
I'm far from perfect. I'm far from the woman I want to be. Yet, I'm reminded I'm not who I was and God is far from finished with my yet.
I am happy that our home overflows with joy. I am happy that God is at work in EVERY single one of us and the results are more visible every day.
I AM thankful that I am getting a chance to do things with the Littles in our home. They (ours AND the Littles) exhaust me AND bring me to the brink of losing my sanity. YET.... I've never been happier and full of zest. I've never been more relaxed and a "yes" mom (that goes back to Jill's book). I'm learning by default how to balance things better and what things to let go. I'm getting a second chance at doing the fun things I wish I had done more of years ago with me. We create a mess EVERY single day---but the memories are worth it. Yes, I do feel regrets that I didn't say yes to the mess more often or yes to more spontaneity, BUT I am still here doing it with my kids today. They are going to have memories of a home that was full of love and fun....even if it did take me a few years longer than I wish to get in that way of living life.
I am thankful that through many years of home education that I learned there is a difference in homeschooling and doing school-at-home and that by not following a specific set of "rules"---we've been able to embrace learning, thrive, and grow together.
I am thankful that we are seeing the fruits of a marriage truly rooted in Christ. Not just in words, but in action. Thankful that a marriage that was at rock bottom has been restored beyond what either of us imagined. God reached in and saved us. Literally.
I may not know exactly what God is doing in our lives or how He is going to provide the way for the desires we have in our hearts to be in Africa....but I know that HE IS AT WORK. He is shaping us and so much of the "hard" part of our lives has driven us to this point by preparing us for what He wants us to do. We've seen the broken restored. We've been at the bottom when we've had no choice but to reach up and rely on Him. All in preparation. All so we can be molded, changed, and equipped. All to learn more of Him and let go of more of ourselves.
I look back and have regrets, but they don't destroy me like they once did. They just serve as a reminder (though sometimes painfully just as all scars do) that you live, you learn, and you adapt. Change where you need to. Never let go of things that matter---even if everyone else in the world seems to be. Dream big. Look to Him. Learn from the past, but don't let it rob you of today's joy and blessings. Even if today is hard (which many times it is), hold steadfast to His hand and keep your eyes and heart focused on Him.
Most of all I'm learning to just relax and be who He designed me to be----and I do like who she is becoming! Even if it's a painful journey along the way or if it keeps taking longer than I want it do because there are so many layers needing to be stripped away! Even if I have to learn some lessons over and over because I didn't get it the first time!