Dear Daughter, Let’s Talk about Abortion

Dear Daughter,

Let’s talk about abortion.

abortion

Abortion, by definition is:

The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

A medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus.

 

It’s a hot topic right now.  Honestly, it’s a hot topic for me everyday, all day, any day for reasons you will know and for some you may never be privy to, because they are not my stories to tell.  But, because of the election coming up this year, it’s a point that many are talking about, and not for reasons I am happy to report.

You see, dear daughter, our nation is currently in a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, and we, as a people, are walking around in a gray fog.  Nothing is simple.  Everyone is afraid to speak up.  Well, if you’re conservative, anyway, because they’ll call you names.  They’ll make you look like a restrictive, unloving, terrible person. (John 15:18, Mark 13:13) Your life and words hold a mirror to their issues, and they don’t dare go any deeper than the surface of life.  They aren’t ugly, they’re “free”.  They’re not under the influence of selfishness and evil; they’re liberated.  Are they?  Are they free?  Is an addict on a high, free?  Sadly, no.  They are bound, because their freedom is false, but it’s too difficult to be sober…to feel…to be broken…to deal… So they lie and live in a fantasy.  Such is the state of our culture.  They lie to themselves to get through without breaking down.  The blood on our hands looks less offensive when you’re already wearing rose-colored glasses.

You see, dear daughter, the stuff below the surface hurts.  It’s downright overwhelming at times, and it’ll make you think way too hard.  It’ll keep you up at night.  It’ll make you cry in the shower.  It will haunt you while you sip your coffee.  It will seem so much bigger than anything you could ever change.

Who wants to think about rape and incest when they can think about lattes and play groups?  Who wants to read about itty bitty babies being stuck with needles and how it has been proven that they try to flee in a womb that was created to first and foremost protect its creation?  We’ve got shopping to do, errands to run, friends to call, and nails to get done.  We don’t have time for thinking so much it hurts and praying so much it impedes on our comfortable lifestyle.

To them, it’s uncomfortable, maybe even morbid, to attribute humanity to a “fetus” whose limbs are ripped apart and whose brains are suctioned away.  God forbid we be a morbid people.  That would make for such a depressing life, right?  So we sweep it away and just make it simple.  Don’t sweep it, honey.  They need you not to turn away.

You’ll hear:

It’s not a baby…

It’s an effect of something evil…

It’s an inconvenience…

It’s going to suffer anyway…

It’s not wanted…

It doesn’t matter…

But it does, baby.  It matters so much.  They matter so much.  They are me, you, your sisters, your classmates, your children.  They matter.  They matter.  They matter.  I get caught up, uttering it like a prayer bleeding from my heart.

Sweet daughter, it does matter.  It is real.  It isn’t an effect – it’s a person.  If God is in control, who are we to determine who lives and dies? If we are waiting for convenience, we will surely wait forever. Someone out there wants it desperately. It does matter.  It does.

I read a headline today calling one of the conservative front-runners horrible names because he was quoted telling rape victims to “suck it up”.  He’s being told to “go to hell”; he has undoubtedly ticked some people off.  He’s insensitive?  He’s ignorant?  He’s cruel?  Do they even realize the names that they are calling him…the attributes they are giving him are laughable in the fact that they are for the dismembering of infants?  They are discounted as worthy, simply because of their origin.

Dear daughter, I hate to even think the thoughts, but I was recently challenged by someone we love on my stance.  “What if your child…”  And I answered the clearest that I have ever answered anything in my life.  I know it was the Holy Spirit in me.  So, here is what I said to them and what I have to say to you, my sweet angel.

Those who believe abortion is okay under certain circumstances have a deeper issue.

It could be fear, anxiety, shame, anger, selfishness, resentment, unbelief, embarrassment, hatred…

The baby is not the problem – the issue is.

What if we saw rape and incest as evil, but a child as redemption?

What if we told the doctors to save?  To do their jobs and their best and try to save both lives?  

What if we rejected the bad report and believed for a miracle? And if the miracle didn’t come, we leaned on Grace and loved anyway?

What if we gave a family the gift of a child if we weren’t ready or able to do it ourselves?

What if we changed?  What if?

We don’t want the headache.  If we outlaw abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother…  It won’t fix the problem.  It will most-likely turn us into a nation of liars.

It won’t fix the fear.  It won’t fix the shame.  It won’t fix the rebellion.

But Jesus and taking that courageous step into motherhood can.

Before I brought a child into this world, I stood in the shower with an active babe kicking wildly in my belly.  I was at the end of the road, and delivery was near.  I had just read an article on Facebook about a woman who had tragically lost her life during childbirth.  It engulfed me in thick fear, daughter.  Suddenly, I saw my child as a danger.  It could kill me.  This could be it.  The enemy had managed to make my own beloved a threat.  The tears rolled fast down my cheeks that night, and I begged my husband to “save me.”  If it came down to a choice, “choose me.”  “Of course,” he said.  “We can make another baby; I can’t make another you.”  A fear and response that I’m sure many have expressed.  Oh, but it was a mistake, dear one.  For, there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another. (John 15:13)  My fear and doubt took my belly, swollen with promise, and villainized it.

The moment I knew my child outside of my womb, everything changed.

The veil was torn, and I saw the intended depth of my humanity.  It was so much bigger and deeper than me.  My motherhood went below the surface that day and became my purpose.  I would lay my life down for you a thousand times.  No question.  My husband can find a new wife, but the world only gets one you, and you would be worth that sacrifice.  Those mothers don’t know.  They are me in the shower, being swallowed up by fear.  Their husbands are those fathers choosing the one they love over the one they didn’t know they’d love more than life itself.  They don’t know, daughter.  They don’t know.

You can be a voice of change in the darkness, dear one.  You can tell the world about redemption and hope and faith and love.  You can make them think.  You can make them uncomfortable, but aware of a better way.  You can invite any who will listen to go deeper and beyond the surface of this life.  You can stand with the victimized and violated and show them the truth of God’s love and bigger plan.  You can be the friend that pushes fear aside and tells your peers that a baby is not the enemy to their bright futures.  Choose the hard road, the narrow one, my child.  Choose to stand up for the weak and the forgotten.  Choose to love the unloved and the neglected.  Honor their lives with your tears in the shower and your prayers late at night.  I think that the angels rejoice over you when you do.  They sing over the infants playing at the feet of Jesus.  They say, “You are loved!  You aren’t forgotten, and your life matters to them, precious child!”

And if, in the sad and terrible chance that we ever face these scenarios that they speak of, we will walk that road together.  I would cry, pray, and hold you.  I would hail you as a hero, and honor your bravery and love.  And together, we would kiss the face of the most beautiful baby that ever lived, because he/she would be part of you

Abortion is not the answer, baby.  With it comes a whole host of new heartache.

For now, dear daughter, I will do my best to raise you up beneath the shadow of the Most-High God.  I will raise you up to be a mighty woman of God, who prays and believes that anything is possible – even the ability for our God to make beauty from ashes.  I will raise you to hope for better things, to pray for the lost and shallow, to believe for a lifetime of witnessing the miraculous.  That’s what I will do, and it is my prayer that you and your generation will not carry the weight of the sins of mine.  Believe in life, dear daughter, and protect it.

xoxo,

Mommy

Psalm 8:2

Psalm 8:2

If you, or someone you know has experienced abortion, and you are looking for something to help heal your heart, free you from guilt or shame, please consider the book, “I’ll Hold You in Heaven,” by Jack Hayford (aff. link).

I’ll Sing Over You

One of my precious ones is in Kindergarten now.  The oldest of four, she is my darling, my angel, my sensitive child.  She is goofy and kind.  She, like me is always running late, because she’d rather draw a picture or make a snow angel in the carpet than get dressed and brush her hair in the morning.  She loves to read and asks me a million questions a day.  Her memory is absolutely incredible.  She can still recall things that happened to her when she was just two years old.  She understands how things work after you’ve explained it just once, and she can re-explain those same things to her little sister in “little sister terms”.  She’s a natural teacher.  She’s patient and truthful.  She’s a helper.  We joke that she’s a genius, but in all honesty, we mean it.  She is my defender no matter what.  When her dad is tickling me, she’ll come to my rescue every time.  I adore her.

So, it’ll come as no surprise when I tell you that Kindergarten is breaking my heart, although you probably would never guess why.

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This treasure of mine, this little gem of a girl has entered into the world of relationships, and even in Kindergarten little ones can carry sharp tongues and haughty eyes.

This beautiful soul…our wide-eyed darling…with her golden locks and dimpled chin…comes home with a little less sparkle some days.

She told me that my hair was ugly today, Mom.

They said I couldn’t tell the teacher or they wouldn’t be my friend.

He didn’t want to be my partner in gym class.

I’m not naive.  I know that no matter where our babies go to school, they are going to encounter other little souls that have the potential to hurt a heart.  I watch as even my oldest two daughters hurt one another’s hearts here at home too.  It just feels a bit different when the stings aren’t coming from a sibling.  You can’t be there to guard their hearts and minds from unkindness that they’ll face in the classroom, on the playground, at the lunch table.  It’s just not possible.

It’s life.

When they head off to college, they may have that professor that decides to humiliate them for running late.  They may have a boss that makes them feel incompetent.  They may even choose friends throughout their lifetime that disrespect them.  I can’t be there with my sword and shield.

As I’ve been struggling with this commonsense truth over the past two weeks, I’ve let it cause me so much worry for her.  We just want to fix things as parents, right?  We do our best to talk about the Golden Rule and model good character ourselves.  We ask all of the questions that we think will say to their little souls, “Mommy cares about your day.”  We even give them permission to defend themselves and walk them through scenarios…”If so-n-so says something mean, you…{insert your best advice here}.”

We try and fret and prep and pray, but as I sat here tonight coincidentally reading another mom’s post on Kindergarten bullying, I felt my spirit dwelling on Zephaniah 3:17.

It was as if the Lord was saying to my weary and worried mama-heart…“Sing over her.”

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

I can’t navigate these tough waters for her.  I can’t shelter her continuously.  I don’t have any way of stopping her from experiencing less-than-ideal relationships in her life, but I can sing over her.

When she is here, I can sing prayers of a mother’s love over her heart.  I can teach her the Truth of the Living Word that says she is worthy of love, she is holy and set apart for God, and He delights in her no matter what.  I can whisper in her ear each morning that the beauty of her heart is more precious than anything else and that she is clothed in righteousness.  I can remind her that she is the child of the King of Kings and that makes her Heaven’s princess. I can assure her that no hairstyle or outfit or talent will ever buy her wisdom and grace, and her character is where true beauty resides.  I can show her that acts of kindness and choosing words carefully matter more than being right or feeling comfortable.  I can be a warm shoulder on the days that a peer has given her a cold one.  I can catch her tears and tell her that I love her.  I can sing over her songs of hope and joy and promises.

I can sing over her.

And when a word comes against her tender heart, I can believe that she won’t hear it, because she’s too busy listening to my song.

singover

 

More posts like this:

Sanctuary

The Girl Who Saves Me

For the Overwhelmed Mom of Multiples

Dear Baby

Bedtime Lessons that Change Everything

 

 

Sanctuary

Tonight, as I folded a little laundry and listened to the last of my husband’s stories from the day, the movie The Help played in the background.  I love that movie.  I think it’s on the top of my short list of “movies I could watch any day any time.”  After my husband said his “good night” and headed to bed, I found myself glued to the movie’s end.  I’ve seen it many times, but it still grips me as tightly as the first time.

You is kind.

You is smart.

You is important.

I could never get tired of that scene.  It is so moving.  Tonight, it tugged my heartstrings in a completely new way.  A way that whispered, “Sanctuary.”

Sanctuary…

Yes.

I found myself coming to the realization that if I looked back on my day with my dear daughters, my quote would read something more like…

You is cruel.

You is annoying.

Go away.

Seriously.

I replayed the events of the day.  The majority of moments were good – better than most lately.  But there were a few segments of our day that made the “terrible moments” highlight reel.  The bickering.  The nonstop running in circles.  The cruelty passing from one sister to another.  The ugly monster rising up in me, yelling until my vocal chords hurt, only to cup my face in my hands in regret immediately after.  What am I saying to these children?

I have been crumbling the sanctuary.  Some days, emotionally and spiritually it feels more like a war zone, with my daughters going about their day beneath shame-shrouds that I have put there – lies that I am writing on their foreheads and their hearts with my cruel words back at them.

What is wrong with yoooou?!

I shout in exhausted exasperation when one sister hits another.

Wrong with her?  Nothing is wrong with her.  They are being children.  Learning boundaries.  Pushing boundaries.  Pretending boundaries don’t exist in the name of childish fun and freedom.  That is going to happen in a plethora of ways over the course of their young lives.  It’s about time I start parenting them based upon who they are and not how they are being.

They are kind.  They need guidance.

They are smart.  They need encouragement.

They are important.  They need attention.

They are holy.  They need sanctuary.

They have their whole lives to encounter unkind souls, impatient people…

Not here.

Not with me.

I am their sanctuary.

I see them – walking into their classroom wearing that dark shame-shroud that says,

I’m cruel.  I’m annoying.  I’m tolerated.  I’m unlovable.

I wonder how miserably far that will take them in life, and I am undone, because that’s not how I truly see them at all.

That’s not who they are.  That’s not even how they are “being,” yet I find ways throughout my day to wrap them in those suggestions.

No longer.

No more.

As I dig deeper into Rachel Macy’s Stafford’s new book, Hands Free Life, and her wisdom chisels away at my mind-clutter, I feel like the light bulbs are slowly coming on one by one.  It’s as if Holy Spirit himself is walking slowly through the “house” of my heart and mind and illuminating the dark places.  Sometimes it’s a beaming light that startles me awake.  Sometimes, it’s the peaceful glow of candlelight, a gentle reminder to make a change.  Listening to my grandmother’s good-bye to my grandfather, candlelight.  Realizing what I am doing to the spirits of my daughters, startling beam.

Life has the potential to be harsh enough.  We can be kind here.

Life is rushed the minute we walk out the front door.  We can be peaceful and deliberate here.

Life is brutally honest, even kicking you while you’re down at times.  We can establish the truth in love here.  Grace can abound here.

Tomorrow, when my daughters return from school and we’re back at home, just “being” and going about our day, the word sanctuary will be written on my forehead and heart, and I’ll start erasing the words I’ve written on theirs.  I’ll pull off the heavy shrouds and replace them with the godly covering that speaks worth and value based solely on, not what they do, but, who they are.

Kind.

Smart.

Important.

Holy.

sanctuary

 

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are mine alone, and any commission gained from products in this post is solely provided by Amazon.  Here at Klover House, I take sincere pride in exposing my readers to products, authors, and companies that I support 100%, and I promote from a place of personal experience only.  Thanks for supporting us through the use of any links found on our blog! xo, Kristi)

 

More posts from Klover House:

Living “Hands Free”

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Dear Baby (published in “New Life Within”)

dearbaby

Before…You Were His.

his

Living “Hands Free” – Happy Launch Day!

June 30th of this year is a night I’ll remember so fondly for the rest of my life.

My husband and I were doing what we usually do after the kids surrender to bedtime – sitting next to one another on the couch, watching TV, checking e-mails, answering texts, etc… basically, finally catching up with the rest of the world after a long day of meeting the needs of others…

That’s when I opened a message that dropped my jaw to the floor.  I couldn’t help but beam like a little girl on Christmas morning as I read it aloud to my hubby.  Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times Best-selling author of “Hands Free Mama” had written to me.  ME.  I couldn’t believe my eyes or the opportunity she was extending to me with such humble sweetness.

Her latest book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More was being officially released in September, today in fact, and she was asking if I would be interested in reading it prior to the launch date.

Not only is that an incredible honor in itself, but, friends, I have TWO books on my nightstand.  Just two.  And they have been there for over a year.  They are special to me.  I love them, which is why they aren’t on a shelf in our dining room or still in a box in our basement.  Two.

The Holy Bible and Hands Free Mama.

That’s it.

handsfree2

I joke that one’s my “life handbook” and the other is my “mama handbook,” but I’m really not joking.  Hands Free Mama changed my life.  The Hands Free Revolution posts on Facebook changed my life, my parenting, my perspectives.  When I read whatever Rachel Macy Stafford writes, it’s as if for those few moments, all of my chaos stands still and I bask in the glow of what could be, of what should be.  I feel the warmth that comes with the realization of how God wants me to mother cover my heart like a reassuring hug that says,

“You can do this.  You can do this well, and you can do this beautifully.”

So, of course I didn’t hesitate for even a moment before replying with a emphatic “Yes!”

And on August 3rd, the most beautiful gifts arrived in the mail – the book, Hands Free Life, a bracelet that I wear proudly every day, and a frame containing a copy of the most beautifully written “House Rules” I have ever read.  The box was so full of heart, so full of life, and so full of hope.

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And that’s what it is giving me every time I pick it up – a big dose of heart, life, and hope.

live hands free

Since reading, I have been trying with intention to disconnect a little more each day from whatever it is that fills my mind, day, and even life with clutter.  We live in a world in which we face a distraction almost non-stop.  This book has given me practical ways to recognize that and to actually do something about it.

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That’s part of the reason why this post is being written at 10 PM on “Launch Day” – I have been living all day.  I have been living all month!  It has been freeing and it has also been quite revealing.  My family needs me.  Your family needs you.  Your people need you.  Spouses, friends, children, co-workers, the bank teller, the cashier at Hobby Lobby, the mom next to you in the aisle at Target…   They need you.  They need you to notice, to be present, to be aware, to engage, to connect.

As Rachel Macy Stafford so perfectly phrased it, I had been suffering for far too long from a “connection-starved soul.”

Are you starving?

You don’t have to be.

Are your people starving?

They don’t have to be either.

Don’t be intimidated.  It’s possible.  It’s not too late.  You can breathe again.  You live again.  You can finally give yourself permission to let go of the anger and pressure that may be overwhelming you, suffocating you from the inside and robbing you of the chance to enjoy life’s “sacred moments,” to put down the To-Do lists long enough to hold your loved one’s hand or call a connection-starved friend.

Will you join me in living this beautiful life “hands free”?  Can you share with me your journey?  How your world is shifting too, thanks to the abundant “Daily Declarations” and “Habit Builders”?

I’ll be posting more about my own journey as I am reading this incredible and wise book, and I’ll let you in on how I am putting what I am learning into practice in my own life.

handsfree4

 

Because I am so passionate about her message and believe in it 100%, I am going to send one of my readers a copy of the book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More.  

This post isn’t sponsored by anyone, and I haven’t been asked to give anything away; this is just me, Kristi, an overwhelmed mom, a tired spouse, a desperate daughter of God, who, possibly like you, wants to live and love fully, and is just wanting the same chance for you.  Please share this opportunity with others that you may know who would benefit from this great book and enter yourself below.

And, Rachel Macy Stafford, if you read this, let me just say for the umpteenth time…THANK YOU!  Thank you for sharing your heart, your wisdom, and your story with us.  We needed you and your voice.  This book matters.  Your message matters.  You are changing lives, shifting atmospheres, and shepherding the hearts of many women (and men) around the world.  For that, and especially because I am one of them, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

Blessings!

xo,

Kristi

GIVEAWAY LINK:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

UPDATE: HANDS FREE LIFE is #1 in Inspiration, Family, Relationships, and Women’s Studies on Amazon!

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are mine alone, and any commission gained from products in this post is solely provided by Amazon. The Giveaway above is coming from the wallet of our dear #mrkloverhouse, who loves me so well and appreciates my love language of gift-giving.  Here at Klover House, I take sincere pride in exposing my readers to products, authors, and companies that I support 100%, and I promote from a place of personal experience only.  Thanks for supporting us through the use of any links found on our blog! xo, Kristi)

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More posts from Klover House…

 

 

 

Parenting: Meet Your Mother, The Human.

Yesterday, like so many other days lately, was a really hard day as a parent.  Somedays, I feel like such a failure at mothering my children.  The emotional highs and lows are almost too much to bear day-in and day-out, and I’m not the only one that has them – my daughters seem to be mini emotional rollercoasters too.  At this stage in the game, the household is intense, and some days (like yesterday), I just crack under the pressure.  I crack and I shatter, and they get a good hard look at their mother, the human.

human

Some days, after hours of the kids melting down, tattling, arguing, hitting, screaming, bickering, and ignoring the very sound of my tired voice, this mama just breaks down.  We can only take so much sometimes, and it’s on those days that I let my girls see my humanity – my brokenness, and here’s why…

 

I hope that they remember more than the uglies.

My girls need to remember me, in all of my complexity.  I know, myself, that I have very few memories of my own mother showing a variety of emotions.  I clearly remember when she’d had enough and lost her cool, and I remember a few specific times in which she was crying for reasons beyond my childish understanding.

I want my daughters to remember my brokenness as much as my laughter, because one day, they too will be wives and mothers dealing with the highs and lows of the mundane.  I want them to know that emotions are real, and okay, and not to be suffocated.  I want them to remember that their mom did more than yell.  She laughed, she cried, she praised and she sighed…she was human.

 

I hope that they observe that their choices affect others.

Even if that “other” is their own mama.  We were reading the story Cinderella: Kindness and Courage (aff. link), and as I was reading the words on the page, they were sounding familiar to both me and my girls…

They made her do all of the chores.

Who does all of the chores?  Mama.  Not because I want to, or because I don’t require help from them, because I do.  Little ones are expected to pull their weight around here in little ways – bring mommy your dirty dishes, throw your own trash away, clean up your toys, put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket, hang your coat and place your shoes in the closet…  Little stuff.  I don’t think I’m being a terribly mean parent by giving them responsibilities.  They choose, however, more often than not, to ignore me.  Yes, there are consequences, and yes, they oblige under pressure, but they don’t willingly offer to lend a hand when the task at hand doesn’t involve “testing” cookie dough or stirring cake batter.

So we had a brief chat after that line.

Cinderella’s family makes her do all of the chores.  They don’t help her out.  Who does all of the chores at your house?  Mommy?  Right.  The book said that that was cruel of them.  Do you think her step-family is being cruel?  Do you think it is cruel to ignore mommy when mommy asks for your help?  Do you think that if they helped Cinderella more and maybe took care of themselves sometimes that Cinderella would be thankful?

It’s important that my girls grow up with the understanding that their mom is not a doormat.  Yes, I serve them and serve them with love, but they need to appreciate being served or else they will grow to expect it.  When a service is no longer perceived as an act of love but rather as an obligation on my part and an entitlement on theirs, we are headed for trouble when they step into the real world.

 

I hope that they learn that others’ feelings matter.

A few weeks ago, I really angered my four year old.  I forget now what I said or did that made her so angry, but I think I put one of her favorite toys on top of the refrigerator for naughty behavior.  She was stomping her way down the stairs towards me, looked me right in the eyes and said,

I don’t like you, Mommy.  You are the worstest mommy ever!

And she meant it with all of her little heart, which broke mine.  It was the first time she had ever said those kind of words to me, and they hit me hard.  Little baby darts that stung her mama’s heart.  As I directed her to “Time Out”, a few tears streamed down my cheeks.  She locked eyes with me as I sunk to her level.

I know that you are angry with me for taking your toy away.  It is your consequence for naughty behavior.  You hurt my heart with your mean words.  I love you very much.  I love you too much to let you make bad choices.  Do you know that I love you?  Good.

And then, I hugged her tightly.  She didn’t escape her “Time Out”, but I didn’t want to let that moment pass unaddressed.  Otherwise, her harsh words could become commonplace, next time directed at her sisters or a friend…  I want her to remember my tears and think twice before uttering cruel words again.

 

I hope they see me modeling unconditional love and forgiveness.

In every situation, they need to see and feel the effects of my love for them.  As their parent, my love is unconditional.  I need to use these times of weakness to emphasize that truth.  Sometimes, it’s not easy.  Sometimes, I flat out want to take a break from being “mommy”.  You know that saying, “I love you, but I really don’t like you right now”? If their constant fighting pushes me to tears, I need to let that be evident (within reason).  Sometimes, moms cry.  Guess what?

Mommy is a person, just like you, with thoughts and feelings, even frustrations.  What do you do when someone hurts your feelings?  How does it make you feel when your sister shouts at you?  Does it upset you when you ask her nicely to help you with something, and she says ‘No!’ and walks away?  It does?  Well, I feel the same way.  And even when I am angry or frustrated with your choices, I still love you.  I forgive you for your naughty behaviors and love you always.  Do you know who else loves you that way?  Jesus.

 

I hope that they see me relying on and learning from Jesus.

In teachable moments, I use my brokenness to share with them the love of the Father, our need for Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds.

After our really hard morning/afternoon yesterday, both of the Bigs were enduring “Quiet Time” in tears.  I won’t go into great detail, but they are required to have a “QT” every day, and all they must do is remain on their bed for one teeny hour either sleeping or reading.  That’s it.  Well, a rowdy, frustrating morning rolled right into an even more frustrating “QT”, and neither child was giving in without a fight.  I let my humanity leak (too much) and yelled at them both, vowing to take away their most precious belongings for the rest of the day.  When they saw that I wasn’t budging and my inner monster had reared its ugly head, they tearfully retreated and laid in their beds just sobbing their little hearts out.  It was just a cumulation of the entire day’s frustrations boiling over within each of us.  I thought, “We can’t keep doing this.  They need to know what my intentions are here.”  So I sat down with the oldest one first.

Ava, all I want to do each day is wake up, make you and your sisters a good breakfast, and enjoy our time together.  I want to read you stories, watch movies with you, play with you in the playroom, run around outside with you, help you make things and watch you paint and draw…  I want to have fun with you and your sisters.

All I need from you is for you to listen to me.  Obey when you are told to clean up your toys.  Then, I will have more time to play with you.  Be kind to your sisters, so that they will want to play with you.  Take your “Quiet Time” without fussing, so that it’s short and you’re up in time to enjoy the rest of your day.  You are still growing, and your body needs good rest.

I don’t want to spend my day yelling at you and putting you in “Time Out” for things.  I want to enjoy you and laugh with you and play with you.  It hurts my heart to yell at you.  I am working on that.  I don’t want to yell so much.  Can we both do better?

And then, I repeated my conversation with Isla, stroking her face and wiping her tears.  She fell asleep in my arms, and while I knew this process was painful for them and ugly for me, I found some reassurance in knowing that all three of us were learning and growing through it.

Today, I’ll try to do things better than I did yesterday.  I may actually do worse, but I’m still trying and learning, and I want them to know that.  I want them to grow up seeing that.  I want them to watch me change before their very eyes into the mother, wife, and woman that God created me to be.

Mommy is human, just like me, and she messes up and makes mistakes.  She gets back up when the day knocks her down, and she asks for forgiveness and gives it too.  She loves me even when I’m making bad choices and her arms are always ready to embrace me, even when I’m disobedient.  She expects good behaviors, because she knows that I am good.  She prays for more patience and kindness, and she leans on Jesus for strength and grace.  I know Mommy has Jesus in her heart, because I can see Him working on her.  He’s changing her and helping her to be the best mommy I know.  I’m glad that she wants to be more like Jesus.  I want to be more like Him too.

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Memories over Milestones

My precious Miri is 10 weeks old today.  As I sat looking at her the other night, trying to coax her into a smile, I found myself already wondering when she’d start to giggle.  She waved her little hands around and when they met mine, they paused, and I thought, “Did she try to touch me on purpose?  I wonder when she will reach for my face.  Is this a milestone that I should record?”

Suddenly, I was thinking of Ava, our five year old.  She’s so grown up, so well-spoken, so…not a baby anymore.  My heart felt a little broken at the realization that I spend (and had already spent) too much precious time thinking about the “what’s next” and sacrificing the “now”.

Ava begins Kindergarten in the fall, and Isla will be going to preschool for the first time.  Our home will be different.  I will be missing two little people throughout the day.  My home will be a lot quieter.  Our lazy Tuesdays and Thursdays will no longer be just that.  Instead, we will be in the car for most of the morning and our schedule will never be as free as it is now.  We will long for summer days just to have the blessed time that I have been taking for granted.

When will this one walk?  We have to get that one potty-trained.  She’ll be eating rice cereal next month, so maybe I should start stocking up now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they stayed in their own beds all night…

I catch myself thinking about such things often.  Too often.  I need, we need, to soak up the now.  I need to sit and listen to Isla’s conversations, because all too soon, her little accents and quirks will have faded, and she’ll be as well-spoken as her sister.  I need to relish in Ava’s nose-kisses and the way she wants to be touching me in some way at all times, because she’s growing more and more independent every day, and maybe tomorrow will be the day she decides she’s “too big” for that stuff.  I need to hold Miri on my chest, and feel her weightiness that’s comprised of nothing but squishy baby rolls, because those rolls melt faster than any mama wants them to.  I need to enjoy the way her feathery, little mohawk tickles my chin when I hold her, because, if she’s anything like her sisters, it’ll be down to her shoulders faster than I can blink, and I’ll be trying to convince her to let me brush it.  I need to chase Eden around the house in her disastrous potty-training nakedness, and tickle her belly and pinch her bum cheeks, because this hilarious, albeit messy, stage won’t last long, and she’ll be taking herself to the bathroom like my big girls do.

I just need to live in the now.  It’s one of those things that you tell yourself, and that others will remind you to do…”Enjoy them.”  And you think, “Yeah, yeah.  I know”, but then, you get caught up in preparing for everything else that’s coming.  And before you know it, another day has ended.  Another day will have gone by without you savoring the moments.  We’re too worried about the schedules, and the checklists, and the milestones, and we’re sacrificing the memories.  I don’t care to dwell on the future as much from here on out.  We’ll work towards what we need to work towards for the children to be healthy, safe, and on-track developmentally, but I’m tired of using my mental space as a to-do list when it should simply be used in being present.

Will you join me in being present today?  Stop thinking about summer vacation or school in the fall.  Stop wondering when baby will sit-up when you just need to be enjoying her newness.  Stop getting frustrated if your potty-training tot just “isn’t getting it”.  Instead, savor the sight of ornery little tushies running wild and making messes with the toilet paper.  Sit and record every expression.  Write their quotes on the tablet of your heart.  Play a game or build a puzzle and take a moment to touch their hand and take in how soft they are.  Even at five, my sweet girl still has darling, pudgy, dimpled fingers.  I need to pay attention to those details before they are gone, and I have a house full of little women and not little ones.  Read a story and smell their hair.  They all have their own, sweet smell beneath that maple syrup…  Enjoy them, right now, mama.  I appreciate you reading this, but close up your laptop, put down your phone for a few, forget about those mile markers, and go make a memory. xoxoxo

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Respect for the “Solo” Mama and 5 Things that Keep This One Sane…

I must say… I have such a new level of respect for the “solo” mama.  I’m not going to go as far as to say “single”, because I know you can be married and still spend the majority of your time parenting alone.  And by “alone”, you know what I mean, right?  Like, physically the only adult in the picture, hands-on.

My husband has been traveling more this year than I ever thought he would.  The weeks are long, and the nights are longer.  With three little ones under the age of five and being almost six months pregnant, I am well out of steam by 10am Monday morning.  That makes for a looong week when the hubs is off daddy-duty, friends.

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I thank God for my mom popping in a couple of times here and there on those weeks to drop something off for our business (Eden Gray Clothing) or to bring lunch or dinner on a whim.  She babysits full-time for my brother, so I can’t steal her away for long, but if it weren’t for her little visits, I would surely unravel by Friday.

This last trip of his, I found myself thinking a lot about single moms and military mamas or wives of other men that spend more than the tolerable time (for a wife) at the workplace – doctors, fellow travelers, etc.  some of us women spend a lot of time parenting alone, and it’s hard!

My hat goes off to you, mamas!  God bless you with a visitor, a nap, a phone call from a friend, a surprise meal…
God bless you with sanity!

And on that note…here are some things that I have gotten into the habit of doing to keep my sanity with these little, needy, beautiful, dear souls entrusted to me when the days are extra long and tiring…

1 – Say “I love you.” A lot.  Especially when you want to throw them outside but can’t (because it’s raining or freezing or dark… haha).
My husband has called me in total frustration in the past, “Where are you?!  How much longer?!  Are you almost home?!  I can’t take any more of this!  You were made for this!  God gave you more patience than me!”,  and the list goes on.  Ever get those same calls or texts while you were simply making a grocery run?  haha  Yep.  Made for this.  Well, maybe that’s it, because I’d like to believe that I am “made for” this mothering thing, but I admit that I lose my cool with the kids just like Dad does.  I get tired and frustrated too.  The whining…the tattling…the constant requests…it can be like nails on a chalkboard at times, but… I still adore them, and telling them out loud does something to my soul.  It resets my nerves and gets my focus back on track.

I first noticed it when my second was a newborn.  I remember she was up, miserable, crying incessantly one night.  I had a bad cold, and she was nearly brand-new.  It was late, like 3am, and I wanted so badly to just lay her down in her crib, shut the door and go to bed.  I didn’t.  Instead, I remember standing in our living room, holding her unhappy self in my arms and just saying over and over, “I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”  I’d kiss her forehead and say it, and you know what, it’s when I feel the least “together” that the “I love you” wants to flow out of me the most.  It has become my grounding mechanism.  Whispering “I love you” to your child when aggravated is like a soothing force over a weary mind.

2 – Touch them.
Now, not in the spanking sense that you may want to gravitate towards when they are acting up, but rather, get down on one knee if you can, and touch their arm, their hands, their face…  make a connection with your eyes and your hands.

I just used this method today.  My child was acting up badly.  She shoved her little sister right in front of me and was sent immediately to “time out”.  “Time out” was going poorly too.  She was standing on the chair, jumping out of the chair, touching things on the table beside her that she wasn’t allowed to be touching, sticking her tongue out.  She was acting rotten to put it plainly.  All of that bought her extra time of course, which was explained to her over her 11 minute stay in isolation (normally 5, because she’s just seven weeks shy of her 5th birthday).

My frustrated self wanted to scream, wanted to demand that she go and take a nap… but, I also could realize that she was acting this way for a few possible reasons:  she’s tired after school and refuses to fall asleep for naptime after lunch, she was up several times throughout the night and went to bed later than usual, she was feeling unhappy/grumpy about something that happened at school, and she was arguing with her sister (who was still trying to mock her from the other room)…  So, after her ‘time out’, I called her sister over, dropped to my knees and took them both by the hand.

My physical touch helped to hold their undivided attention.  I didn’t have to squeeze or hold them in place, I just held their hands and told them to listen to my words and look at my eyes.  I kept my expectations brief and simple:

“Mommy has to finish some work, and I have to clean up the house.  I need you to play quietly (because the baby was sleeping) and nicely together, or you will have to go to your bedroom.  No fighting.  No yelling.  No walking or jumping on the couch.  Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

That was over an hour ago, and I haven’t had to yell at them or break up one argument since.  A soft but firm tone and a gentle touch that says, “I love you, but I mean business” seems to go far most of the time.

3 – Keep the house straightened up.
I know – you want to smack me, right?  Yeah.  I get it.  I can’t stand cleaning up this house every day.  I think of how much simpler it was when we were selling our last home and 85% of our belongings were boxed up and out-of-sight.  Life was so less cluttered and so was my mind!  Now, these little tornadoes are just that…tornadoes.  All.day.long.

I am tempted to just let it go…let it be.  After all, you can only do so much, right?  Especially when you are the only parent at home for an extended time, but I have learned the hard way that when I “let it go”, I pay with my sanity.  The mountain on the kitchen island…the random piles of laundry…the dishes calling my name…the sea of crumbs on the floor…  they take my anxiety level from bad to oh-my-gosh-help-me-get-out-of-this-nightmare-worse.  Seriously.  When you are tired and stressed, the last thing you need is to also feel like you are living in an episode of “Hoarders”.

So, I adopted the motto:  A clean home is a calm home.

I fail at keeping the place looking top-notch, and I never accomplish as much as I wish that I could, but I force myself to clean something before carting myself off to the couch or the bed.  I may not tackle every area, but generally tidying up the house each evening does wonders for my soul come morning.

4 – Read to them
Nothing calms my nerves more than sitting down on the couch with my favorite blondies snuggled beside me and a book in my lap.  When they are super tired (and I am super tired), they will happily sit at my side for an hour at times.  Just sit there.  No fussing, no whining, no fighting.  A few times, I have gotten lucky and our story time has led to a late afternoon movie and a couch nap!  Seriously though, if your babes are tired, but fight sleep like mine, have a story time with them and enjoy the chance to sit quietly together while they calm down and you recharge.

5 – Play with them / get silly   
My kids just want my attention (don’t all kids want that from their parents 24/7?).

When I am flying solo or having a lousy day, sometimes, I just stop whatever it is that I am doing and play with them.  A lot of their play time is with one another.  I try to play, but they leave me in their dust!  (I am pregnant, remember? lol) But even if my body could keep up, often my imagination can’t!  I have noticed that on the rough days, just being there – on the floor, in the same room – they will calm down, and everyone (especially me) starts to smile a little more. It resets the mood of the day.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I am about to lose my mind, if I actually let my grumpy guard down and succumb to the madness – SING a song that they love in a goofy voice, act out the scene of a favorite movie, talk to them with an English accent, anything remotely goofy… my mood improves immediately.  Life gets better immediately!  Yes, the mess is still surrounding me.  Yes, dinner is still needing to be prepared.  Yes, the garbage still needs taken out.  But, I am soooo much calmer and ready to tackle my tasks and mother appropriately when the “reset” button is hit.  Bringing out my inner “fun mom” helps tremendously.

So those are a few of the ways that I maintain my sanity as an overworked, overtired, pregnant mama of little people.  How about you?  What are your go-to methods / sanity-saving practices?  I would love to hear about them!

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Update: Since writing this article, we have added to our crew! Our fourth daughter was born in 2015, and, while my husband has a new job that requires less travel, I feel the need to reread this post and follow my advice daily! Four kiddos, six and under, is exhausting!

Remember, keep your love on, keep your perspective in check, drop the perfection, and just breathe.

You’ve got this, Mama. I know you do. xoxo

kloverhouse

Choose Joy

All day every day, we’re making choices about how to feel, and how to convey those emotions in a healthy way to our family…our friends…our co-workers…strangers at the grocery store…  Is it just me, or is it so hard some days to choose joy?

 

I have so many things that I want to write about – I’m living all ‘Young House Love‘ up in here…and I’m hoarding so many pictures of food on our camera, that I’m constantly seeing the message, ‘memory card full’…BUT this topic is heavy on my heart tonight and takes precedence over tasty meals and home projects.

 

Sometimes, I realize though, it’s not just about choosing.
I owe them. 
Who?
My kids.
I owe them JOY.
I realized the other night while gazing at their sweet faces, that I am dealing them a side dish of misery with every day lately.  I serve them up a hearty dose of resentment, discontentment, frustration.  It’s not right, and it’s not fair.
It has nothing to do with them either!
My girls don’t know that my scowl is because I can’t get the mini blind to stay up or the toilet to flush…they don’t ‘get’ that I’m groaning because BOTH the washer and dryer are broken and I threw away a moldy shirt for the 3rd time in two weeks…  They can’t translate heavy eyelids and sarcasm into exhaustion.  They just see an unhappy mommy.
They don’t deserve that.  No matter what.
They absorb everything.  They see what’s literally there in front of them.  They see smiles or frowns.  They hear groans or laughter.  They watch me pace and wring my hands or lift them in joyful praise…
These days are forming their perspectives.  Like a river that carves stone over the course of hundreds of years…my  outpouring of whatever emotions are carving a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of my children.
Who is Mommy?
I’m not proud of who I’ve been in front of my kids some days.  Most days.
Who is Mommy?
I want them to say, ‘She is JOY.’
I, like you, only get one go at this.  They are only little once.  They only get one childhood, and while I’m not arguing that we can’t have our bad days or our moments…I’m proposing that we make a serious effort to show them joy.
Car breaks down…
In a rut with your spouse…
Bad day at work…
Serious case of road-rage…
Woke up on the wrong side of the bed…
Screwed up dinner…
Opened an unfriendly e-mail…
Found out someone you love has cancer…
Insert your heartbreak or frustration here…
I have a choice in every moment – unnecessary transparency or intentional joy.
Let’s choose JOY.
I opened up facebook the very next morning after confessing these thoughts to my husband and saw this post immediately.  I was so blessed by it, and I believe you will be also.  Give your family the GIFT of a happy mommy.  I love that she talks about happiness being cultivated, not faked.  We can do this, and we, and our families, will be so blessed because of it.  Carry on, sweet mama.  Choose JOY today.
They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)
Joy

 

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