Big Families, Children, Christianity, Daughters, Faith, Follow Jesus, The Act of Motherhood

Life has Been Rozie


Dear Little Island Girl with Big Dreams,

When I first heard the saying, “The days are long, but the years are short,” I felt a little lump in my throat. It was a reminder that there would be an end to my daily mommying to you, my first baby.

Well, that day has come.

Today we reach that fork in the road and the years don’t only feel short, they feel condensed into this weird blackhole of life called “the past.” As I think about this, God whispers something comforting in my ear that seems almost a faint foreshadowing of the words we all want to hear someday in Heaven: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I look at how far you’ve come and know that God has done an amazing work already in you and I am honored to have played even a little part in that.

As a mom, I fell short more often that I would have liked. I didn’t do everything right. I apologized often for my shortcomings and I’ve learned that it takes an infinite amount of grace to live more Christ-like each day.

The days and months and years went by, and as you grew into a young lady, something miraculous happened right before my eyes. You started to reflect Christ too. You offered me grace and comfort when I felt exhausted and weak. You gave me hugs when I needed them yet didn’t even know it. You held my hand in church when I needed a hand.

I cannot even put in words how thankful I am that God gave me the kind of mommy-heart that felt called to put Him at the center–albeit in my clunky-I-don’t-really-know-what-I’m-doing-Jesus-take-the-wheel kinda way. He showed Himself through my motherhood experience.  He is kindness. He is grace. He is honor. He is just. He is faithful. He is love.

Therein lies my hope for you today. I want you to know that as you start this amazing college journey of learning, discovery, and growth, you will soar and you will dip. You will smile and you will cry. You will be happy and sometimes you will feel lonely. Yes, sometimes you will even fail–but He will not. Today, I leave you in good hands–the best hands actually. You are in God’s.

Tonight we will celebrate a communion service together and end with cheers and words of encouragement, with hugs and kisses and more hugs. Then I will turn around and walk away leaving a piece of my heart in a college dorm half way around the world and I will lean on our awesome God and trust that His plan for you is greater than mine, and it’s going to be amazing!

I love you Rozie. Sing to the Lord!

Love,

Mom

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Big Families, Children, Christianity, Daughters, Faith, Follow Jesus, Guam, Prayer, Ranting & Raving About Island Living, The Act of Motherhood

A Labor of Love

If you know me, you may have heard of how my second daughter practically came out running and hasn’t stopped since, or how I was induced with my fourth, sent my husband to get the other kids from school while I waited to have even one labor pain and proceeded to give birth, all within a fifteen minute span! I’ve told my stories many times over. I’m referring to the retelling of the “labor day” stories. We all do it–rehash the blow by blow of each experience with new moms, old moms, moms-to-be (albeit with small omissions to save them from sheer panic).

I know when I tell about the birth of each of my five kids, I get quite animated. Arms flail, voice quickens, eyes widen, volume escalates–and then the sigh of relief. Done. Some long and exhausting. Others short and, well, exhausting. I had all natural labors and deliveries which is quite the norm here on Guam because local women supposedly have “easier births.” Pshhhh! But I, like most women, enjoy telling the stories mostly because it is a Herculean accomplishment that is in the past.

Now that my oldest daughter is on the brink of her sixteenth birthday and my youngest is almost eight, I find myself reminiscing about those years bringing new lives into the world. (It doesn’t help that I’m also listening to soothing French cafe-type music that just brings tears to my eyes anyway).

Kids3 Kids2

If you’ve raised a child for any amount of time, you know one fact for sure. “Labor” doesn’t end once that little bundle of blessing arrives in the world. We labor every day to take care of our babies. We labor to provide for them, to keep them healthy and relatively clean. We labor to teach them and guide them. Along the way we also make many mistakes and we labor to become better moms. We tweak things. We figure things out. We watch others. Some of us pray and lean on God’s grace.

No, we don’t get constant applause and thank yous. We don’t get a 15% tip on the table after we’ve cleared it for the 6,402nd time. We don’t get a stellar review on our annual performance report. We don’t even get paid leave! In this season of my life; however, I’ve come to the realization that I spent more time than I should have on looking at the “don’ts” of motherhood.

I am profoundly grateful for the “dos” these days. I do get to see these young people develop into creative, young individuals. I do get to share in their dreams and hopes. I do appreciate the many lessons I’ve learned through the tough times that inevitably come with raising five kids with very different personalities. Most especially, I do get to experience a little bit of what Jesus did when He walked the earth. Agape love. Given but not always reciprocated. The truest “labor of love.” And this has drawn me so much closer to the Lord. How could I not be thankful for that?

Happy Labor Day fellow Mamas! Go ahead, rehash those stories that are such a part of our motherhood story. And let God be a part of your Labor Day because He made the biggest, sacrificial labor of all and continues to pour out all we need to refresh and be ready to labor on in our roles as mamas. Be Blessable!

Christianity, Faith, Follow Jesus, Prayer

Is the Resurrection in the Closet with the Easter Baskets?

Quote from Crazy Love
Quote from Crazy Love

Resurrection Day or Easter Sunday is done. Pretty baskets have been placed back on high shelves in closets, colorful translucent grass with bits of candy wrappers and shards of ‘real egg’ have been tossed in the trash, and fluffy bunnies are placed on little beds to collect dust for the rest of the year.

But what about Him? What have we done with Him? You know–with Jesus? Did we put our even-momentary thoughts of Jesus in a cupboard somewhere to be retrieved at Christmas time? Did we pray a prayer of thanksgiving for His sacrifice and then tuck the resurrection away as if it isn’t important enough to have a profound effect on the other 364 days of the year?

This week’s Ladies’ Study at church was in Chapter 5 of Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. The chapter is entitled “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God” and in it, Chan asks us to really contemplate Matthew 16:24-25 where Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” I’m thinking that at some point in our lives, we might have read this and thought, “Naaahhhh! He can’t seriously mean to follow Him all the time! What about I take a break on Friday nights so I can go out drinking? Or what about that Sunday when church just seems less important than the bar-b-que at the beach? Is He serious?”

I know I thought this way for a very long time. In fact, most passages I read in the bible initially, I read with my own filtering lense. I decided what I liked and what I didn’t and that was that. There was no humility in that posture. I was the weed standing tall in the field telling God Himself what I “think” He’s saying. So today, He has shown me a very different perspective on those verses in Matthew.

When Jesus tells us to “take up your cross,” we might ask ourselves, what is MY cross? No, I highly doubt it is your nagging mother-in-law or jealous boyfriend. How do we figure out what our cross is? Well, we know of one infamous cross. The one that Jesus was crucified on. It was an object. It was a place of sacrifice. It was “seemingly” a final destination. It was memorable. It had purpose.

So when we take up our cross, it may mean focusing on our destination, which is eternal, in a memorable, sacrificial, purposeful way. The cross was a burden. If you are a follower of Jesus and have heard Him speak to you in the many ways that He does, you are probably keenly aware of the burdens He places on your heart. There lies “purpose.” And by following Him, we are to carry out His purpose with all of the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, love and patience that He graces us with. That is hard stuff. That’s why it’s a burden.

It’s a burden to “deny myself” because, for me anyway, that means to set aside the big and lofty goals that I have and accept His bigger and loftier goals. “Deny myself” means to come to God with every decision, every split in the road, every conflict, every victory and share it with Him and walk in obedience when He guides my steps with His wisdom. So what about that last part? “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” The key seems to be the words “for my sake.” Our Heavenly Father would never ask us to give up anything for no purpose. He asks us to trade in our mediocre desires for His awesome plans. In that, we find our true, authentic life. The one we were meant to live.

After Jesus’ resurrection, the world would change dramatically. A handful of apostles would be the impetus to spread the gospel all over the world. And here it is. In my hands and in my heart today. Maybe even in yours. And if it isn’t, He invites us all to come to Him so you too could share in the knowledge of the Father through His son. I am grateful that Peter and Andrew traded in their plans to catch a lot of fish and followed Jesus’ plan. I am grateful that Matthew gave up all of the money he’d make as a tax collector and followed Jesus’ plan. Despite many rough moments, they and the other apostles, took up their crosses and here we are 2,000 years later, learning from them, about this Messiah they knew as Jesus Christ.

Easter bunnies are cute. Cadbury eggs are WOW! Sharing a lovely brunch with family is sweet. But let’s not put the truth of the Resurrection in a container to be saved for another year. Let’s wake up each new day giving thanks and renewing our sense of awe for what He has done and what He continues to do in our lives. Let’s not offer Him our leftovers but our whole selves as living sacrifices. That does require more than “minimal commitment,” and not all will say “Yes” to Him. Matthew 7:14 says, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” I pray you find it.