Great Expectations and Dirty Shoes

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I was four. Big, fuzzy blonde hair and some pretty huge glasses. Frustrated because I didn’t want to wear my new shoes. We were just going to take a walk up to my grandma’s house. Which was seriously like 20 steps away from where we lived. The sun was shining, it was beautiful. No rain. No dirt roads. Pavement, mind you. But tears came down my face as I refused to wear these new shoes for fear of getting the bottoms dirty.

Yes, it seems ridiculous, right? And it was.

The bottoms are supposed to get dirty. But I wanted to keep them looking perfectly clean and new. Which is totally not the purpose for shoes.

Those of you who know me probably aren’t surprised. I have been a person who likes things orderly, clean and shall we say…perfect? I just feel better that way. And I know it’s carried over in the area of how I mother and carry out my role in our home.

When I was pregnant with my first I dreamed of my mother retiring from work and her and I going to the pool with my toddler someday. Lounging by the pool, eating Popsicle’s and just enjoying life. I really thought everyday in the summer I would go to the pool as a stay at home mom. Ha! I didn’t understand laundry, making meals, nap time, fussy times or even how much life would change. How getting out the door in thirty minutes was something to be proud of.

And as time has gone by and I have have been blessed with more children, I have had to realize I cannot be perfect or have have things in my life be perfect. My energy, time and ability isn’t there. And I’m learning that life’s not meant to be perfect anyways.

Overdue library books, kids wearing mismatched socks because with all that I have I cannot figure out what’s happened to the other. I try to be good with our budget. I read all these blogs about saving money, using coupons, not eating out. Going to garage sales, cutting your hair at home, making your own baby wipes. And all of that is good. I sure admire any of you that do these things. I even do some of these things. But not all of these things. Because I can’t.

I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit that my great expectations of how I should mother or what I should be doing often can steal my joy. I have these cute little people who love and adore me. They don’t care what I look like, how perfectly the budget is balanced, whether the laundry is put away, whether there’s an inch of dust on the T.V. And believe me, there usually is.

They love me and are ready to explore life. To learn, to play, to laugh.

And sometimes I go to bed at night, my husband I can tell has already fallen asleep. And I just want to wake him up as I think over my day. I want him to hear my thoughts.

“Honey. They are growing up. They are growing up! I don’t want to miss it. I want to take it all in. I forgot to tell you child number one did this new thing today. Did you see how child number two is so tall all of a sudden?”

The tears come and I realize how fast the days are going. And I decide tomorrow I will do better. Tomorrow I will take it all in and not worry about trying to make my home perfect, my children perfect, my life perfect.

I realize I’m trying to feel secure in doing it all right. It feels good when the house is in order. It feels good when the kids are clean. It feels good when things seem right. But my hope can’t be in when things are in order. My hope needs to be in Him.

And then in the quiet of the night, I turn to Him. My Father. And I tell Him the wife and mother I want to be. I tell Him I’m sorry I haven’t got it all figured out. I ask Him for wisdom and for help.

And then peace comes over me. Because my view of perfect isn’t what He’s concerned about. He has asked me to love Him with all of my heart. He has asked me to love others like I love myself.

He hasn’t told me to keep up with all the dishes. He hasn’t told me to not veer off my cleaning schedule. He hasn’t told me to read five chapters a day from the Bible to my kids.

Because He’s not like that.

His love…unconditional.

Perfection…in His Son, not me.

His love for my family…so much greater than mine.

I can trust Him. With all of it.

What if I do all this and they turn from Jesus? What if I spend my life showing them the way and they don’t want You? I want them to love You, Lord more than anything. Am I doing this right?

But again I feel His comfort. My job is to teach them about His love for them. His great, great love. I will plant the seeds, but God will make them grow.

His grace will cover over me. Where I can’t be what they need. He will be enough for them. His grace is enough for me and His grace is enough for you, dear mother.

In our day where we have so many resources at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming. What society tells us makes a successful, perfect family.

But we don’t need Google. We don’t need Pinterest. As we chart our course through life and give our best and all for Him, we have the manual that gives life, hope and freedom. It is the Word of God. my sisters. His Word. His Truth. None of the other stuff really matters.

If you see me around town and see some of my perfectionist tendencies, you can know I’m aware and am working on it. But I’m thankful for the grace that even covers the areas I haven’t figured out yet.

Today we were able to enjoy for the first time Spring like temperatures. So we got outside, of course. The baby was able to feel the earth under her feet for the first time, walking around all on her own. And there was a great desire to play in the wet dirt. To feel the earth between the little baby fingers. And I decided yes. We have time to touch the soil and get messy. We have time to explore and not keep our clothes perfectly clean. Because that’s not the purpose of life, anyways. What fun do you have if your shoes never get dirty. Go ahead, sweet baby. Take it in and enjoy. You get the bottoms dirty and even the tops. Have fun, sweet baby. It’s all going to be ok. Smile, take in the air. See the birds because this is life. This is the good stuff. All will be ok.

 

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Lies I Refuse To Live By

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I think we all do it.

In fact, I know I’m not the first person to write about it.

But I believe it needs to be addressed.

For me and for you.

You know, you see her at the store. She has her kids with her as do you. You stop to chat, exchange the happenings in your life.

And then…

You start to analyze.

“She sends her kids to private school. How do they afford that?”

Not only that, but her kids were dressed pretty nice, outfits that looked crisp and clean.  In her cart…you guessed it. All organic. Even the salt.

She went on to say how well her oldest was doing in basketball.

And you think to yourself, “My kid doesn’t even know how to play basketball.”

And you feel maybe ashamed as the baby has food on her shirt and the older children don’t look like they remembered to brush their hair.

And this friend has more kids than you have fingers. How does she do it and keep it together. You ‘only’ have three…

Or maybe you see your friend at the store and you think, “My does she look run down. Could she not even put a little bit of foundation on, tidy up her hair just a smidgen?”

And her kids…they are SO loud. She must not discipline them very well. I would feel so embarrassed. I’m glad that’s not me. And one always seems to be with grandma. She doesn’t even have to do it on her own very much.

But you know. Sometimes those thoughts can run through our minds.

We judge ourselves and we judge others.

We start to grade the kind of job we do as moms. We look to others as to whether we got this thing down or if we are sadly falling behind.

I will be transparent here. I have done this. I can do this if I allow myself. I will rate my current standing as a mom based on what other people are doing.

And you know what? To think that we are doing it right or wrong based on what another family is doing is wrong.

My husband often tells me it must be hard as I don’t get a yearly evaluation.

And he’s right. He meets with his boss at least once a year. He’s shown what improvements to make, what areas to grow in and what he needs to work on. But he’s also shown what he is doing right. The areas he has grown from the last year. And it’s good. It’s good to have that talk with the boss and be real.

But we moms. I would say our ‘job’ is more important than any occupation we could be hired for. We have lives entrusted into our care. Little souls that look to us for guidance, love, understanding, encouragement and care.  The future of the world is literally in our hands.

And so we go, day by day taking care of them. As babies, we fed them every two or three hours night and day providing nourishment for their little bodies. We changed their diapers, washed their clothes, rocked and rocked away the belly aches and comforted them through teething.

We bandage scrapes, make countless meals and snacks, plan birthday parties, take them to events, read them books.

We wipe away tears, we lovingly discipline them when they fall short, we point them towards truth. We do the best we can to help them understand life as they know it, whatever age and stage they may be at.

And we really give it our all. We make mistakes, but we do our best. Because we love them more than we ever thought we could.

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Some home school, some send their child to public school, some to private. Some eat organic and cook meals at home while others order out a lot or pop in a frozen pizza. Some kids are in every sport available while others haven’t played even one. Some have top of the line clothing while others use what friends and family have passed along to them. Some moms work and some moms stay at home. It’s easy to form conclusions about each other and ourselves.

But that’s not our job.

Our job is to ask God what He wants for our family.

He is the one who knows us best.

He knows our situation.

He knows our family.

He knows our children.

He knows the plans for our lives.

We don’t have to look like the people next door. We don’t have to do life like them. We only need to do and live as God has lovingly and kindly shown us for our own family.

Isn’t this refreshing, this great truth?

We only need to please the Creator of the Universe. Only Him. Not our aunts, moms, cousins, friends, or sisters. And there’s no reason we even need to explain or defend why we do what we do, because we don’t have to please people.

It’s really rather simple.

Why don’t we just go to God? Ask God what He wants for our family?

What is His vision for the way He calls us to live?

We have a great promise that if we come and ask Him for wisdom, He will show us (James 1:5).

This, my friends is the great truth! The truth that sets us free!

We as mothers can walk boldly and confidently each day as we raise our families if we only ask our God and then live it out.

And how refreshing it can be when we meet with mothers to genuinely listen to them and the update of their family and not take any other thoughts into consideration?

Instead we can be happy for them when things are happy. We can ask them if we can pray for them in any way and genuinely look in their eyes with love and care. We can be sad with them when they go through struggles. We can just be a friend and care, whatever they are going through.

This mom thing we do isn’t for the weak. It’s a high and holy calling. But if you have children, God has given you the ability to do it.

And we don’t get yearly evaluations. But even better, we can have daily conversations with our Father and ask Him His plans for our family. We can share our hearts. One to one and really lay it out there. We can seek forgiveness for our shortcomings but we can walk away knowing that Jesus lives inside of us. What great power within us who we believe. We can carry the great task before us in faith, joy and confidence because He is the one we aim to please.

So the next time you talk to another mom and ask how she is, why not listen without thinking about the kind of mom she is. Or the kind of mom you are. Listen, really listen to her. Encourage her. Love her, even pray for her. We need each other and I believe if we come alongside even if we do things differently, we can make the journey a little bit easier.

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Written by Jaimie

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