Struggling to Surrender

I’ve been working on this post for awhile, sure that God is wanting me to share this, but not quite knowing exactly what to communicate. I realized this morning as I was rereading my drafts, that maybe the reason I haven’t been ready to share it yet is because I’m not on the other side. I haven’t figured out the neat and tidy solution. I’m not sharing an inspiring “what I’ve learned” lesson. But this is where I’m at, and maybe some of us can encourage each other in this struggle together.

Surrendering control is not my strong suit. That probably does not come as a surprise to most of you, especially those who know me well. I like to know exactly what is going to happen, plan what is going to happen, and have a thorough check-list prepared to ensure that it happens with all details accounted for. (Bonus points if it’s color coded).

But in life, as we know, things do not always go as we plan or imagine. Young adult me was sure that after marriage I would work for a few years and then have babies. I would stay home while I raised my always obedient children in a peaceful environment that cultivated each child to be their very best.

As I write this, my 21-month-old is on the back porch, sitting in her Little Tikes car wearing only a diaper and shoving a donut in her mouth, which I’m pretty sure has been licked by at least one dog. So, the reality is, obviously, slightly different. I’m a full-time working mom and I’ve had to let go of control of a lot of things. For four days a week, eight hours a day, other adults are loving on my kids–teaching them, singing to them, and hugging them if they’re sad. I don’t see every milestone or know everything that has happened in their days and that is sometimes a hard truth to swallow.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love my reality and all of its messiness. I am so grateful for where God has called me. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am where He wants me to be. I love that my girls see me pursuing God’s purpose in my life. I love the daily challenge to increase my leadership capacity and reach families for Christ. And I have had this conversation – this argument – with God many times, and always hear the same answer. You are where you need to be. Trust me. Most days, I’m good with that.

Then, I hear phrases like these:

“You work full time and have kids? I don’t know how you do it! ”

“That’s so great she’s staying home with her kids. That’s the best thing for them.”

“They grow so fast. You’ll never get this time back.”

My heart sinks. I spiral into my head and start doubting all of the choices and decisions we have made about our family. Should I be staying home with our kids? Am I robbing them of a childhood they deserve? Are they suffering without having access to me 24/7? Are they deprived of love? Are they not getting enough one-on-one attention? Do they doubt how much I love them? Did they even eat any vegetables this week?

Just like that, I take back the burden.

God has been challenging me on this a lot lately. I have laid this burden, this guilt about not being at home, at His feet a hundred times. Each time I revisit something that God has so clearly given me an answer on, I’m essentially saying, “I don’t trust you.” Each time I give it any mental or emotional space, or spend any time worrying or plotting to change the situation, I’m saying, “I think I could do a better job of this than you.”

But, why would I want to put my trust in someone who thinks like I do? God has an eternal perspective and a never-ending, reckless love for me, my kids, and my family. He knows what He’s doing! I love these verses from Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

Like I said, I don’t have the answer. I just know that I’m choosing to surrender daily. I am holding my life, my girls, and our family with open hands. I’m asking God to do his Holy work here, and resisting the urge to control with every type-A bone in my body. Who’s with me?

Chats with Charlee – Part 2

Another little listen into our family..

Convo #1

Charlee: Do you remember when I was at Ms. Shelly’s house and she made me sleep in my crib?

Me: You mean when you were a baby?

Charlee: Yes, in the olden days.

Convo #2

As I’m getting dressed for work…

Charlee: You look like a man.

I change shirts.

Charlee: Now you look like a human.

Convo #3

C: Who’s coming to my Christmas show?

M: Grammy & Poppy and Grandma & Grandpa Alan

C: Oh great, all my customers.

 

And a few more one-liners for your enjoyment!

#1

In school we learned we shouldn’t talk to strangers. That’s why I don’t talk to turtles.

#2

Remember the time we went to Grandma’s house and we clinked our glasses and had chicken parade lunch?

(Eventually we realized this was in reference to Thanksgiving!)

#3

What’s dilly bread?

(After we have been saying our meal-time prayer for months — “daily bread.”)

 

 

A Letter to My Five-Year-Old

My sweet Charlee girl,

I cannot believe that you are five. It seems just yesterday that we brought you home in newborn clothes that you were absolutely swimming in. I feel like I was just doing the rock/swing/bounce/shush dance of new mothers, pacing the halls and begging you to sleep. Surely it was only a day ago that you were army crawling around the house, and then taking wobbly steps into my arms.

In the midst of sleepless nights, endless nursing sessions, countless diaper changes, and exhausting toddler tantrums, I blinked, and here we are. Now you are a little girl. You sit next to me on the bar stool at the counter (your feet still swing above the ground), and ask me for a cup of “warm tea”. You tell me about your friends at school, and how you’re going to be a “rock star at church” when you grow up.

My sweet girl, you want to go everywhere with me, dress like me, act like me, talk like me, and oh boy! that’s a lot of pressure. I hope that I don’t let you down too often. And when I do? I pray that I apologize to you quickly, and point you to Jesus as your true role model.

You want to marry daddy, and have told me that I just need to share him with you. You have told us multiple times that you are going to live in our house when you grow up. You hold your little hand up and tap each finger as you name all of the people who will live in our house — Mommy, Daddy, Charlee, Evie, and Charlee’s two girl babies.

You are so imaginative and creative. You sit for hours at your desk and paint, draw, cut, paste, color, tape, and use any other office supply you can get your hands on. (We have to hide the scotch tape from you!) Then, you present each proudly to us to be displayed on the wall or the fridge. You dance around the house and belt out songs of your own creation, and tell us when it is the appropriate time to clap.

You are a sweet big sister and friend. When Evie is upset, you rub her back and sing to her. You go find her lovey, or blanket, or paci, to try and make her feel better. You read books to her, share your favorite toys, and try to teach her to do what you are doing. You draw pictures and write notes for your friends, and are always asking to invite someone to come play with you.

You have such a sensitive, caring heart. You think deeply about everything you are told, and remember details of events that even I have forgotten. You get so invested in books and movies, and cover your ears (eyes still open) when you are worried about a character. You are intense and intelligent, and I know that God has huge plans for you, my little one.

Charlee, on your 5th birthday, I have two simple prayers for you:

I pray that you always know that you are loved, no matter what. Mommy, Daddy, Evie, your grandparents, your friends, your church family, and above all, your Heavenly Father, love you. That love doesn’t hinge on anything. We love you because you are you.

I pray that you learn that God has created you for an adventure. He did not make you the way you are by accident. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and He has big plans for you! I can tell you this: a life spent following Christ is never boring!

I love you, Charlee Jo, and I am so thankful for all you bring to our family.

Love,

Mommy