the women i pray for

I have a list. It's a list of names. Other mothers that I pray for.

I update my list every month, or as the need arises. New names get added, other names move to different categories.

My list has categories.

Pregnant women, that's one category.

But not just pregnant women. Women pregnant for the first time. Women pregnant for the seventh time. Women who continue to work and run errands and exercise as if nothing has changed, and women who spend 9 months curled up on their couches and vomiting into their toilets. Women who wanted to be pregnant, desired it, dreamed of it, prayed for it for months, sometimes years. And woman for whom a new life is an unexpected shock, joy is clouded by fear and stress, another mouth to feed, another body to cloth. Grace and peace and good health, O Lord.

The babies keep coming, the months tick by, and the names in this category come and go.

Then there are women who want to be pregnant, but aren't. Women who long to hold a baby of their own for the first time, and women who's babies are grown, and long for one more. Please God, just one more. Women who are in and out of doctors appointments, trying different diets, supplements, and medications, and each month brings another disappointment.

This category, unfortunately, doesn't change as much.

There are other categories besides these: working moms and stay at home moms. Moms who's husbands travel a lot, or are in school, like mine, and do a lot of solo parenting, and single moms who bear the weight of parenting alone. There are moms finishing school, moms attempting to home school. There are moms sitting with their children in doctors offices and therapy appointments, turning their worlds upside down for a child with special needs or health complications. And there are moms suffering through their own poor health, each day they rise above it and care for their families. Lord, hear our prayer.

There is a category for when the unthinkable happens; mothers holding their children's hands in hospital rooms. feeling the helplessness that comes with watching a child suffer. Lord, show us your mercy and love. And there are mothers saying goodbye to their children and entrusting them to the arms of Jesus. And grant us your salvation.

When I look at my list of names I am reminded that I am not in this motherhood thing all by myself. I am reminded that when I have hard day, or week, someone else is too, and I can offer my own trials up for them. I am reminded that there are other women praying for me.

When I look at my list of names I am reminded that motherhood comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and that there is no room for me cast judgments or comparisons. Because it's hard. This motherhood thing is really hard, and we are all trying our best for our families.

When I look at my list of names, I am reminded that what every mother needs and deserves is compassion, understanding, a listening ear, and a praying heart.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love

what i can do

It's been a tough week.

Trixie, who in the first couple weeks of her life gave us the impression that she was an easy baby who slept at night and would take naps in the bassinet during the day, has followed in the footsteps of her brother in being a demanding baby. Although it's a different kind of demanding. Instead of needing to nurse nonstop (which was Johnny's MO, leaving me totally touched out) Trixie will not fall asleep nursing and needs to be bounced to sleep. Sometimes for a very long time. Upside: it's impossible for me to just be a lump on the couch all day long, I'm forced to get a little exercise with all that bouncing.  Downside: I have to bounce a baby to sleep multiple times a day.

She's also been waking up at 4:00 am like clock work for the last week, not fussy, not hungry, just wide awake with no intention of going to sleep again. Not cool Trixie, not cool.  Especially since by the time we get her back down it's usually only an hour until Alex's 6:30 alarm for school goes off.

But I guess that's why they invented coffee.

School is really ramping up for Alex now. Four weeks from today the semester will be over, but getting to that point is not going to be pretty. I didn't think he could spend any more time studying than he already has been, but, I was wrong. He just needs to be studying all the time, which puts me on solo parenting duty all the time.  Really the work of caring for two children is not that bad, it just gets lonely. I miss the company of grown-ups. Especially my favorite grown-up.

Then to add to the already stressful and sleep deprived state of things, Johnny got sick this week.  He actually is very sweet when he gets sick, he just likes to sit and cuddle.  But now that I have two babies and only one lap, it makes it hard to give both kiddos the snuggles they need and deserve. Also, both of my kids pooped through their pj's today. We are all (including me) on our second outfit for today. I'm pretty used to dealing with poop by now, but that.....that was a lot of poop.

So this is where I'm at right now. A lot of wiping butts and keeping people fed, the radio or group texts as my only window to the outside.  My tendency is to feel bad for myself, and think that life is not fair. I find myself becoming envious of people who get to put on make-up every morning and drop their kids off at day care and then go work with other adults. It sounds so glamorous (as the smell of dirty diapers still lingers in my nostrils.) My life is so hard. being stuck here, in my home. with my children, it's so hard.

Then I saw this link, to a buzzfeed of all things, on Facebook and it broke my heart, shattered my self centeredness, and gave me an entirely new perspective on my situation as a stay-at-home mom.

I get to spend an entire day safe in my own home, while other parents are taking their kids and fleeing their homes and everything familiar. Literally carrying their kids across countries.

I ate my lunch today with both of my kids in my lap, while other parents are scavenging the country side trying to put a meal together.

I got to lay down in my baby's bed with him last night and watch him fall asleep on his pillow, while other parents offer their laps as pillows on make shift beds of cardboard or concrete.

I can't even image.

When I was in high school and college I was so passionate about serving the under-served. But motherhood has made any kind of service, missions, or outreach almost impossible. I struggle to even remember the sufferings of those less fortunate in light of my own "problems".

Why can I not be more mindful? I know there's not a lot I can do but being mindful, being prayerful, that's something I can do. Offering up the stresses I face today as a parent for parents who are trying to care for their children in crisis situations is something I can do.  Every dirty diaper and poop explosion, I offer for them. Every toddler tantrum and sleepless night with a new born, I offer for them. Feelings of loneliness when my husband is at school or studying, I offer for them.

Jesus, be their comfort, peace and protection, and hold them in your Scared Heart, even as they hold dearly to their own children.


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On Rising Early

An excellent wife who can find?...
She rises while it is still night.
Proverbs 31:10, 15


I have moments of realization in motherhood.

Like when I realized why my own mother would never deliver our clean laundry to our rooms, but rather make us come collect it from the neat piles on her bed.

Or why my mom would declare at 8:00 pm that "the kitchen was closed" and we weren't allowed to dirty any more dishes. 

Or why my own friends would cut our coffee dates short and herd their kids home for nap time as if their lives depended on it.

I never understood why generations of mothers would choose to steal out of bed before the rest of their families, even before the sun itself had risen, when they could stay beneath the covers for a few more moments of sleep. 

But now I understand. It's because starting the day with a toddler who had soaked through his pajamas and sheets is no way to start the day. Just like starting the day with a mad race to get everyone dressed and fed doesn't make for a peaceful mindset. And wrestling a baby, kicking and screaming, to change a dirty diaper first thing in the morning just sets me up for the grumpies. 

Today I got up before anyone else. I'm not sure how it happened. I was lying awake in bed and I knew  I wasn't going to fall back asleep, so I got up. I turned off the baby monitor so my husband wouldn't hear our two year old stirring. I put on my slippers and robe. I went down stairs and made a cup of pour-over. And then I sat in silence with the Word of God. 

Uninterrupted. Silence.

I inhaled and exhaled, I contemplated, I prayed, and I listened. And thirty minutes later when my son woke up I didn't groan and try to tune him out. I wasn't annoyed by his existence. I was ready, and even happy to great him. He sat in my lap and started to make the sign of the cross, as we have taught him to do, and as he does so often throughout the day. And I thought, this is truly the way to start the day. 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit....


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