late night musings

We’ve had a challenging week around here. We’ve been having to help one of our girls in particular work through some big feelings and behavioral issues, and Atticus has had an ear infection, the primary symptom of which is that he has been awake for multiple hours in the middle of the night for something like 4 of the last 6 nights – I’ve lost count! In short, we’re pretty exhausted.

And in that exhaustion, I can be tempted to let discouragement creep in. I want to feel like what I do matters. And yet, since dropping down to (very) part-time work after Miranda was born, I am no longer central to the workings of my company. Since Matt stepped down from being an elder at our church as we brought Madeleine CaiQun home, I am not a key part of women’s ministry or really any other ministry at our church. As the girls became school-aged and Atticus joined our family, I am no longer as involved on campus or in our local art community or really with other relationships in general. I’m not really in any leadership role anywhere. There are no awards coming in. There is not a flurry of recognition of my great accomplishments. And that can be discouraging.

However, I’ve had a significant amount of time for contemplation as I’ve rocked my baby boy through those middle of the night wakeful hours this past week. And as I sat praying one night, I was reminded of Philippians 2:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I so quickly forget what really matters. I have a tendency to see truly important ministry as that which stands in front of a crowd of people and is widely recognized. I forget that Jesus is the God-man who turns all measures of success on their heads. It was not the rulers and authorities of Jesus’s day with whom He spent most of His time – it was simple fishermen. In His sermon on the mount, He lauds not the self-important but the meek and tells us to hunger and thirst, not for power and success and recognition, but for righteousness.

God lays out a path for each of us, and the path to which He has currently called me includes a fair amount of time focused around menial tasks – dishes, laundry, and diapers. It includes many middle of the night hours spent focusing not on my own comfort but on just rocking, slowly moving back and forth, back and forth, comforting my sick baby and gradually lulling him back to sleep. It includes the relentless pursuit of precious children who don’t always act kindly or appropriately. There’s not much recognition in that – and yet it’s good.

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I serve a God who did not focus on the position to which He was entitled as Lord of the universe but instead chose to humble Himself in becoming human – and in so doing, to offer redemption to all of humanity. If He can humble Himself in that way, surely I can humble myself in sacrificing some sleep to comfort a baby who needs his mama and in sometimes looking foolish as I parent children who, from time to time, disobey my directions.

I’ll probably continue not to receive great recognition or honor for any of this. And yet, as one of my favorite musicians, Sara Groves, writes, “I live and I breathe for an audience of One.” If I’m spending my time doing the work God has placed before me, humble though it may be, I want to see that as success.

Summer Goals – 2015 Edition

While my girls continue to insist that it is not truly summer until we hit its official start later this month, Matt is done with his semester, we have finished our homeschooling school year, and the temperature is regularly surpassing 90 degrees, so we’re going to go ahead and act like it’s summer 🙂 To that end, I’ve been thinking about how we can best spend these summer months, and I’ve come up with some goals for us. In no particular order, they are –

1. Work with the girls on moving toward learning how to swim.

Miranda is 5 and Madeleine CaiQun 4, and I’ve done approximately nothing to help them learn how to swim before this summer. I think swimming is a valuable life skill to have, though, so this summer, we joined a pool, the girls are enrolled in swimming lessons, and hopefully we’ll be making some progress toward swimming!

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2. Be consistent in working with the girls to develop self-control, kind words, and gentle hands.

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory 🙂 These are growth areas for us, and while I can’t force hearts to change, I can be consistent in encouraging good behavior and addressing issues that arise.

3. Work through 4-6 weeks of school curriculum.

I’ll share more about our plans for Miranda’s kindergarten and Madeleine CaiQun’s pre-k school year soon, but for now, I’ll just say that I think year-round schooling works best for our family at this stage, and I’d love for us to get a solid start in our curriculum for this upcoming year before the fall actually arrives!

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4. Get set for a mobile baby – and some days, 2 mobile babies! 

One reason for us to cover some ground with school this summer is that we’re going to be watching a friend’s baby two days a week starting in the fall, and obviously 2 babies require more care than 1! I’d like to have a better idea of what our school days are going to entail and be able to plan accordingly. Beyond school, though, we’ll need to make some changes to the set-up of our house, doing some child-proofing, etc.

5. Organize the playroom.

A few weeks ago I did some de-cluttering of the playroom and a bit of re-organization, but I’d really like to get it set up more fully and organized in such a way that is conducive to mobile babies!

6. Blog!

I really enjoy writing and blogging, and I’d love to be more consistent in writing this summer. I have some ideas for some posts I want to share with you all, and feel free to let me know if there are topics you’d like me to cover here!

7. Read more, in particular the parenting books I ordered this spring.

Another of my loves is reading, and with 3 little ones for whom to care and a multitude of tasks to accomplish, it’s easy to push it off to the side. I think it’s important, though, for me to expose myself to ideas outside of myself. Right now I’m finding it really encouraging and helpful to study parenting and learn more about strategies I can employ in shepherding my kiddos. I have a small stack of books I ordered this spring about parenting, and I’d like to make my way through them during the summer.

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8. Make it a priority to have fun. Say yes to things like walks, time at the park, and time at the pool.

We are doing some school and trying to keep some semblance of structure to our days, but I still want to enjoy and facilitate our kids enjoying this summer. I want to take advantage of nice weather, when it appears, and get outside and have fun.

9. Enjoy Atticus.

Our little guy is so incredibly adorable and sweet. I’m such a task-oriented person by nature that it can be easy for me to take advantage of the times when he is content to accomplish something from my “to do” list, but I also want to make sure I take time to snuggle with him, tickle him, smile and coo at him, and just enjoy the little person he is.

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10. Write in each child’s journal at least once.

From before our kids were born or joined our family, I’ve maintained a journal for each in which I write letters to them. I know that I won’t always remember each little thing they do that makes me smile or how I’ve thought about them at different times, and I want them to have a record of those things. I want them to know how much I’ve loved for and cared for them throughout their entire lives, how precious each one is to me. It’s hard to set aside the time to write, though, so my goal is to write to each child at least once this summer.

11. Finish writing and sending thank you notes to people who blessed us around the time of Atticus’s birth.

I’m generally pretty awful at writing thank you notes (as evidenced by the fact that Atticus is now 6 months old and I have still not sent out these thank you notes!). I truly believe it’s important to thank people who have taken time out of their lives to bless us, though, so I want to finish writing these and get them out to people.

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12. Go on at least 2 dates per month with Matt.

Matt and I just recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary 🙂 I think the first year after adding a child – whether through birth or adoption – is always challenging for a marriage, and we want to be intentional about sustaining our relationship.

13. Replenish our savings.

We’ve had several significant expenditures recently that have depleted our savings beyond the level we like to have it, so we’d like to earn and set aside some funds this summer to replenish that fund.

14. Build a more consistent prayer life.

This is something I consistently find myself struggling with. I find that parenting has driven me to prayer like nothing else, but I still am not sure when to set aside a specific time (or times) to pray, and I find myself often, in the moment, responding before praying, and I’d like that order to be reversed! Moms of littles, any suggestions??

 

This feels like a pretty ambitious list, but I’m hoping we can get a good amount of it accomplished before the summer is through!