Join the Conversation of Hope, Miscarriage Mom…

April 15th stopped being referred to as “Tax Day” for me a long time ago.  That date forever changed once my doctor assigned it to my second child as the much-anticipated due date.  In the heat of August 2010, ultrasound photos in-hand, I started to envision the child I carried in my tummy and the happy future that was sure to come with this surprise baby.  Just days after seeing my little one in the womb, I was forced to say an abrupt and heart-breaking good-bye.  Every hope and dream I had been carrying came to a crashing halt.  I’d never felt such a hurt in my heart.  I’d never been faced with such an agony that literally pulls at the pit of your being.  It was an experience that changed me, deeply.  My eyes lost their innocent sparkle that night.  My heart became tainted with worries I never knew I could carry.  Miscarriage can wreck a woman, friends.  I was wrecked that lonely weekend in late August – mind, body and spirit.  But, thankfully, that wasn’t the end of my story.  It was only the first chapter.  The healing that came in the months and years to follow is why I am who I am today, and why I can say with joy and boldness that my child is still very much a part of me, our family, and my life.

When I opened up about my experience on this blog, it also opened many doors to speak with close friends about their own.  During an impromptu play date with two of my close friends, who are also bloggers, we just started talking about our miscarriages over coffee cake.  The kids played and we chatted away…sharing our stories…our challenges…the surprise and disappointment we felt at the lack of resources available to moms like us.  It was then that we decided to change that, together.  This project has been a long-time coming, so I am thrilled to announce that we have finally released our e-book, “Blessings Through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom.” You can find it by clicking here.  Betsy Moore of BMooreHealthy, Becky Mansfield of Your Modern Family, and I have set out to create a resource for other moms who have experienced loss through miscarriage.  Whether you are experiencing one now or had one many years ago, this book was created with you in mind.

blessings 3d

This book is extra special, because it has been written in the form of conversations. Picture the three of us sitting in front of a group of moms, sharing our stories, crying, hugging each other and finding ways to move forward side-by-side. We pray that this book helps other moms find peace through all the sadness and grief attached to miscarriage. And we’re not the only moms sharing our stories in this book.  Many other mothers have so graciously offered up their testimonies of loss and hope as well.  I found myself in awe of the strength of these warrior-mamas.  Each of our stories is so unique, but there are also many common threads that will forever knit our hearts together.  I am so full of joy to finally share this book with you. You can find it here:

miscarriage link

IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL FIND:

Totally Blindsided: Receiving the News

Finding a Lifeline: Longing for Support

The Warrior Within: Finding Strength in Fragile Moments

The Ripple Effect: Learning to Lean On and Love Through

Next Steps: Moving Forward in Hope and Health

Blessings through Raindrops: Finding Meaning and Choosing to Celebrate Life

From the Other Side: A Spouse’s Perspective

Additional Resources

Our Hope for You

A Shared Experience: Stories from Other Miscarriage Moms

And so much more…

At the end of each chapter, you will also find a question/questions or reflection point(s).  We thought it necessary to, not just talk at you, but, let you have your voice be heard as well – even if it’s only your own eyes that will ever read the responses.  We have found that both writing and talking about our loss has added to our healing, and sometimes, it’s been through the gentle leading of a friend or mentor during conversation that has prompted some of our most valuable revelations.  And, because we know that often times you just need to hold a book of this nature in your hands and write your thoughts all over its pages, we are eager to offer a paperback edition in the very near future.

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If you have any questions about the book, or if you are having difficulty downloading it, feel free to send Betsy, Becky and I an e-mail to miscarriagebook@gmail.com, or contact me directly at kloverhouseblog@gmail.com. From the bottom of our hearts, we hope and pray that this book helps you find an anchor of peace while going through one of the most challenging times in your life.  

Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You are never, ever alone. Welcome to the fiercest, most accepting club we know; it’s an honor to walk this road with you.   

xo,

Kristi

FIND ADDITIONAL MISCARRIAGE-RELATED POSTS ON KLOVER HOUSE HERE:

I Think It’s Time

Celebrating our Heaven Baby

A Pregnancy Ritual and a Very Intimate Detail about EJ

I Chose Truth

Babies and Banana Bread

It is Good -Three Words that Give a Mother Hope

It is good.

Those three, simple words have changed the way I will look at my children forever.

But I’ll get to that in a minute.

it is good

As you may or may not know, I have four, small children, ages six and under.  This past week with my little ones was especially rough.  Their dad wasn’t out of town… No one was sick, believe it or not…  No one had a bad day at school…  They had absolutely no solid reason for the kind of behaviors I was seeing consistently – back-talk, naughty faces, physical altercations between siblings, screaming, throwing things, and the mother of all meltdowns.

Tuesday was the day that took home the prize for “The Day I Thought I Wasn’t Going to Make It as a Mother.”

You know the kind – your husband calls to let you know that he’s on his way home for work, and you kind of hate him, because he spent his day around civilized people, being only responsible for himself, probably enjoying trips to the bathroom ALONE… kind of makes you want to hurl insults or at least growl come 5 PM.  It was that kind of day.

It started with the “dreaded car nap.”  Don’t you loathe those?  They are awful.  Unless your destination is over an hour away, frankly, they are the devil.  Your kids fall asleep 20 minutes into your 40 minute drive, and even though you wake them with kindness and delicacy, they behave as though they are mercilessly being ripped limb from limb or being forced to sit on hot coals.  They scream.  They hit.  They look at you with the stinkiest of stink-eyes.  The “car nap” is, like I said, the devil.

My very loved, almost three-year-old, is the bless-ed child that decided I deserved the devil for disrupting her slumber as we arrived at her sister’s weekly violin lesson.  There’s a great, little coffee shop beneath the music room and so, being the understanding mom that I am… ah-hem… I decided to treat the girls to hot chocolates before going up to the lesson.  The four of us sit together in the waiting room and read stories while Isla has her lesson, so a spontaneous treat should have been appreciated.  Read: It should have bought me some sanity.  Infer:  It did not.

We had five minutes to spare.  Let’s just say, we were ten minutes late (so the craziness lasted for 15 very unpleasant minutes), and I wanted to crawl into a hole and give up on all-things-motherhood.  My strong-willed child screamed for those 15 minutes s.t.r.a.i.g.h.t.  There was no breathing.  There was very little standing, and there was zero control on my end.  ZERO.  It was horrendous.  I struggled to talk to the barista, who was literally ten inches away.  A stranger commented that I “need an assistant or something.” Or something…he was probably thinking dog leashes and tequila.  And I ended up helping the only employee mop the floor after the strong-willed child covered the floor with her just-paid-for-beverage.  Car nap = devil.  All the while, I have my oldest two parading from chair to chair, acting like they own the joint, and a 26 lb. baby on my hip.  My head was spinning, my arm was burning, and I may have shed a tear or two.

Driving home an hour later, I thought, “There’s something wrong here.  That whole thing just wasn’t normal.  I am a terrible parent.  I am completely failing her.  I am ruining them.  These kids are spoiled.  These kids are out of control.  Where did I go off-track.  Is this entitlement or madness?  How can I fix this?  How can I fix them?  I should probably read Dr. Dobson’s book on the strong-willed child. Maybe I need professional help?  Maybe there’s some kind of behavioral therapist that can help me?  Maybe I should find a babysitter for Tuesday afternoons?  I’m never showing my face in that coffee shop again…”

I tell you this long story, because I need to express how desperate I felt.  I felt hopeless.  I felt like a failure.  And I was convinced that my children were doomed.

I asked Google some of the questions above – not gonna lie, and then I went to bed, defeated.

The next morning, I read this beautiful and timely post, by a new friend and fantastic writer, Laura, of The Military Wife and Mom, and it ministered so deeply to the wounds in my mama-heart.  It gave me that hope back that I had lost the day before.

And then, the most wonderful thing happened.  I heard that familiar voice – God.

God said…it is good.

And everything changed.

I had heard that phrase from Him before.  I pulled out my Bible and started at the beginning, literally.  It was a story that I had read many, many times.  But this morning, it wasn’t just a story – it was a message.  For me and now, maybe for you.

Excerpts taken from Genesis Chapter 1, The Creation of the World (emphasis mine):

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters… And it was so.  And God called the expanse sky.  And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.”  And it was so… And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…” And God saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image… And God blessed them… And it was so.  And God saw everything he had made , and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

It got me thinking.  It was almost if God was saying, “See?  The creation takes time.  It’s good, even in its incompleteness…”

Incomplete but good.

God is able, was able, to wave His hand over the deep and say, “Come forth,” and be done.  The lights, the waters, the land, the living creatures, the man… He could’ve have done it all in one, mighty blow.  He’s God, after all.  But He didn’t.  He established in the first set of words entrusted to us the gift of process…  The grace in progress…  The anticipation of good things to come.  What a treasure.

Even the hardest stages are just that – stages.  Things may seem to be stuck on the “third day” a little longer than I’d like – there may be more darkness than I’m comfortable with, but they are in progress.  We, are in progress.  The tantrums will become less frequent.  Their neediness will begin to fade.  I will miss their smallness despite the hard moments that evidently come with it.  God didn’t grow bitter and resent the process, why should we?  If the Creator himself finds satisfaction in the parts that will eventually lead to the goal, we can too.  Each piece of the puzzle is beautiful in itself and lends to the fullness of the final picture.  Our kids…our day-to-day lives…might look a little like the boring parts of the outside border right now, and we’re longing for the more interesting pieces that seem to hold more depth…more importance…more substance, but it is this part of the journey that holds the rest together, firmly.  Keep building those little souls.  Keep building your life, one mundane moment at a time.  It is good.

Where we are right now…is good.  We’ll get there – wherever “there” may be.  For me, “there” looks less like Tuesday.  We’ll get to another stage.  Until then, it is good.  They are good.

 

xoxo,

Kristi

 

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.

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(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”)

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Before…You Were His.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
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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…

 

 

 

Before…You Were His

Sitting there in the heat, watching our kids participate in the closing show at a local VBS, and she turns around.  There’s a new babe on her lap and a husband standing near us in the background.  He’s still in his dress clothes, likely from his long day in an office somewhere.  He’s doing the same thing that my husband is doing day-in and day-out, earning a living to support a family that he loves.  Maybe she stays at home like I do, or maybe they picked up their kids at daycare or grandma’s house and scurried to make it to a VBS with a 6PM start, because investing in their little one’s faith and friendships is worth the evening hustle.  She gives him a simple glance and a nod.  He seems to know it well, because without hesitation, he quickly grabs what she needs from the stroller and walks it to her.  She turns back around, tending to her infant, and he returns to his spot in the back.  Although she’s in the midst of mothering, I catch a glimpse of her youth and beauty, and it hits me.

Before…she was his.

Before the diapers and the late night feedings…

Before the stretch marks and tired legs…

Before the sippy cup laden cupboards and Cheerio covered floors…

Before the car seats and strollers and bibs and pacifiers…

Before living in sweats and smelling like spit-up…

She was his.

Date nights and perfume…

Long hugs and real kisses…

Dancing and movies…

Fancy resturants and long phone calls…

Weekend getaways and inside jokes…

Before these babes.  Before she was Mommy, she was simply his.

And I glanced at my own mister, standing in the background, relaxing his weight against a swing while our toddler ran amuk nearby, and I couldn’t help but remember being just his too once.  It made me smile one of those joyful smiles that you really have no control over.  The kind that just happen, because you are that happy in the moment.

I spend my days being Mommy.  I live and breathe motherhood.  There’s no escaping it, especially if you long to do it well.  I wouldn’t trade my days, hours, minutes, moments of mothering for anything else in the world.  I embrace being completely wrapped up in it, but I forgot in the process how to be his too.

I forgot what it was like to put him first, to be just me, a girl in love with the best kind of man.  I forgot that he’s the reason that this whole thing evolved into a beautiful family in the first place.  My love for him and his for me…

And all that thinking in those brief moments brought that silly, giddy smile to my face…

And I made up my mind to be his again.  

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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.

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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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The Girl Who Saves Me

Isla Rae.

My precious girl just turned four on Monday.

I look at pictures from just one year ago, and I am beside myself.  I can’t believe how the baby face has melted away and a little lady is emerging.

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The gap between her two front teeth that once was so prominent, has closed so gradually, that I feel like I never even noticed it waving goodbye.  Her blonde locks have taken off, cascading down her little back, catching up quickly to her big sister’s.  I can’t believe she’s four.isla95

 

Four.

Four years ago, I endured the most painful delivery of all my four.  She took her sweet time making an arrival, so I decided to speed her along.  I found out the disastrous way that Pitocin and “natural birth” don’t mix.  Alongside wishing I had wisely avoided the incredible added pain, I have always felt as though I hijacked her birthday and have regretted rushing her every day since.

Isla2That’s Isla, though.  Teaching me patience and keeping me in check.  Since before Day 1, she’s been my chisel-child.  The one who is shaping me continuously.  

Be more patient, Mama.  Trust me, Mama.  I’m good, Mama.  I can do this on my own.  

I’ll dress myself, Mama.  I don’t need your help, Mama…

She’s this little, independent, mysterious soul, and I am her constant observer.

She’s been fierce from the start.  I wrote about our challenges when I was pregnant with her – the hemorrhage that loomed over her little body like a rain cloud.  It didn’t bother her, though.  She’s not easily affected by outside circumstances.  She’s steady and stable.  Fetus, infant, toddler, child…it didn’t matter…she’s always been my calm, cool, and collected child.  I admire those attributes in her, and I have this feeling that they will still describe her well as a young woman one day.

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But what sets Isla apart the most for me as her mama, and what I think of everytime I think of her birth, her existence…she saved me.  She saves me.

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After we lost EJ, Isla saved me and my mama-heart.  I fought hard for her.  Fought the darkness that invaded my soul.  Fought the raincloud that loomed over her and the fear that came with it.  Fought the 41st week of pregnancy, the intense summer heat, the ankles that were the size of He-Man’s thighs, and the Pitocin.  Fought and fought and fought and won.  We won.  She saved me and we won.  I won the greatest gift when God gave me Isla. I was already the blessed mother of Ava and EJ, but with Isla came the gift of hope.  She’s my “Sunshine”, my “Bright and Shining One”.

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All of my babies are so amazing and breath-taking in their own unique ways.  This is Isla’s specialty.  She saves her mama.  On days that I want to yell and throw my own tantrums, she speaks to me in her adult tones, and she may as well be holding up a mirror, because instantly, she saves me from my ridiculousness.

I look at her and I get lost in her dark eyes.  They pierce my soul, reminding me of the depth of God and His goodness, and she saves me yet again from any petty distractions I’m facing.

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She climbs up next to me while I am “working” and adds her two cents to my vlogs and asks me about what I am working on, and she saves me from any loneliness that has crept into my morning as a SAH/WAHM.  In a silly kind of way, she’s like my little co-worker at times.

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She randomly (and frequently) talks about Baby EJ.  It completely confounds us.  It’s as if she somehow knows that she is EJ’s womb-buddy.  They were conceived just three months apart.  Although I’ve written about EJ as a daughter, she is convinced EJ is her brother and she talks about “him” as though he is a very real part of her daily life.  It amazes me.  When she talks about EJ, she saves me from any heartache, because I am instantly reminded of this beautiful family that God is allowing me to build during my time here.

I’m humbled daily – by a four year old.

I’m changed daily – by a four year old.

I’m moved daily – by a four year old.

I’m challenged daily – by a four year old.

I am so thankful for our sweet Isla Rae.  She’s beautiful through and through.  She’s our little painter and chocoholic.  She can house a dozen donuts or chocolate chip pancakes in a single sitting.  She is all muscle, though.  Even when she was a baby, she was a teeny little muscle.  She can stand on the knuckles of her feet in an amazing and totally unnatural way.  lol

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She can sass with the best of them and she loves being in the kitchen.  She’s got the most beautiful hands and nails I have ever seen.  No joke.  She’s a Rockstar and one tough cookie.  Dental work…doctor appointments…ER visits…she doesn’t even whimper.  She loves her sisters so deeply.  I can count on her to always be caring for someone.  All day, every day…she’s taking care of her sisters.

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She will ask me if I like her outfit, hairdo, shoes, because she’s destined to be a fashion blogger. 😉  She loves having her nails painted and is a natural dancer.

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She wants to learn to play the violin and loves to swim.  A cup of hot chocolate, a Hershey Kiss, a cookie… it doesn’t matter if we’re picking Ava up at school or if she’s returning home from a Daddy-daughter date, she is NEVER empty-handed when it comes to her big sister.  Ava is tops in her book and Isla is always thinking of little ways to bless her.

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Her mealtime prayers are especially long and almost always include a wish list of some kind along with a plea for the “people that don’t have any aw-fer-ring”.  Her heart makes mine melt.  Every.single.day.

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Happy Birthday, sweet Isla Rae.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for refining me.  I thank God for you, precious girl.  You bring such strength and beauty to my world. xoxo

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Dear Daughter, I Enjoy You.


Dear Daughter, I Enjoy You.

As I was slowly making the descent from upstairs, I allowed the exhaustion to wash over me, mentally, physically, emotionally. Out of nowhere, a thought hit me, and I knew immediately that it was one worth paying attention too.

“How tiring these kids are.”
“These days are long. They are hard.”

And it hit me.

The faces I made throughout the day. The sneers. The snorts. The sighs…

And a voice asked me a simple question…

“What if you could look at yourself that way? You wouldn’t be your own friend. You would lose a friend over such behavior.  And yet, you treat your own flesh and blood…your baby in such a way.”

I have gone as far as to roll over in the bed in the morning and growl angry words like, “You are being sooo annoying right now, child.”  All they want is breakfast.  All I want is more sleep.

Seriously.

I did that.

And it started to sink in how I was hurting little hearts everyday. I am hurting little hearts. With my words. With my actions. With my eye rolls and sighs…

But those things aren’t  real. They aren’t reality. Reality is, I am simply exhausted and poorly behaved. Reality is that my children are…children. They are silly. They are wild.  They require a lot of energy.  They are beautiful. They are loved.

I like them.

I admire and adore them.

I enjoy them.

I need to remember their smallness. My eyes…my words…my touch…my moods…are their world. For 90% of their day, I am their world.

So here’s my pep talk to myself:

Get it together, girl. Straighten up, sister. You have got to use that heart and that head of your’s and wipe that nasty exhaustion off of your face. Wipe it off on purpose.  Don’t let it ruin the tenderness in your smile. Don’t give it ground. Step up your game. You are their mama. God put you over these girls like a guardian angel. One they can touch and hear and smell and look to for love and guidance. Put on your wings today, mama, because they require a whole lot of protection. And sometimes, you have to make a choice to shelter them from even yourself. Lay that bitterness of a messy house down. Cast that resentment of a sleepless night aside. Forgive those early-risers, knowing that they are just excited to start a new day. Pray for a little of that to rub off on you too… You are the mama and you enjoy them. Time to start living like it…

Dear Daughter,


Forgive me. I don’t mean to be so hard on you. I want to see you sparkle from sun-up to sun-down. You are smart, funny, vivacious, and inspiring. Your giggles are darling and your smile is so pure. You are brave and adventurous and I wish I could have more of that in my own weary bones. You are special and gifted. The Lord made you well. There is no one else like you, and no one else has my heart on a string like you do. I’d give all I have away in a moment and still be satisfied knowing that I am your mama and you are mine. I’m sorry for letting my bad mood discolor our days together. You won’t know this, but I need a reminder. Your sweet, soft cheeks are going to help me through the hard days. They were the first bits of you that I cherished. I kissed and caressed them from day one. I kissed them so gently, hoping that you could sense your precious worth when we couldn’t yet share words. I still sweep my hand along them towards your little chin to this day as a way to send you a quick love letter. So, that will be my reminder to myself to keep my word to you. To protect you from my tired looks and grumpy words. When I see them, touch them, smooch them…I will remember your smallness and my bigness, and I will behave as a mama should – with patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, love, joy, peace, gentleness and self-control. Sounds familiar, huh? Yeah, those Fruits of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22-23} that mama holds you accountable to…well, I’m going to start being those things too. You deserve that from me. I love you, Daughter. I so deeply love you.

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