Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Motherhood and the Gospel, according to Mary

I believe in this picture, the reason I don't have earrings on, is because 30 minutes after I had been at this event, I realized I only had 1 on. I fed Harper in the restroom where milk covered one side of my dress because I knew a stick on bra would be appropriate while nursing (fail). After I fed her, I looked in the mirror only to see the pattern of my undergarment showing through the dress. Could I be any more of a mess? Welcome to motherhood, Mary.

Motherhood, it’s indescribable, but here goes my description. There are days when I can’t believe this is actually my life, because I’m so overwhelmed with joy… then there are days when I cry (with Harper Lee) because I just want to sleep in peace (or take a shower). The past 7 months have been a learning experience. The rest of our lives, will continue to be a learning experience. Just when I feel like I have her figured out, she changes.

 Harper Lee has been very attached to me, will not take a bottle, nor will she sleep well. Last week, I found myself being very negative about motherhood. Harper would not stop crying (because I tried to force her on a schedule and she was never full). For the past 7 months, she has “cried-it-out” for every nap and bedtime. Do you know how mentally frustrating that was for me to listen to my baby cry for 20 minutes before she finally gave up and went to sleep? One of my many meltdowns was last week. Wednesday morning, I went to Mrs. Mary Gresham’s (my sewing mentor!) to make a dress. I put Harper in her pack-n-play (knowing she was tired), and she cried for a solid 30 minutes. Needless to say, I got overwhelmed, picked her up and started to head home. Mrs. Mary Gresham, who’s a nurse, and Cindy Boyett, college friend, saw I was struggling to keep it together. Mrs. MG asked me, “So, what time does she eat lunch? What time did she eat breakfast?” I just stood there. After 7 months of trying, I still had her on no set schedule.

My pediatrician is not very good, and she told me to feed Harper baby food twice a day when I think she’s hungry. That did not work. Of course, I’m still nursing her every 2 hours, but I was clueless. I’d look up schedules of 7 month old babies online and try to make Harper fit to one. That was also a bad idea. Anyway, after I broke down at Mrs. MG’s, she reminded me this is my child. I have to do what’s best for her and me… to not listen to everyone telling me she’s spoiled. It’s a good thing she wants to be with me all the time. After that chat, I put Harper in her carseat and headed home. She fell asleep before we could get out of the driveway. Little girl was so exhausted from crying. I got to my house (maybe 5 minutes away) and just wept in the carport. I didn’t want to move Harper, because I was scared she would wake up. I needed a short break and if that short break called for sitting in the car with her asleep, I was fine with that. I finally got the nerve to move her inside to her bed. She went straight to sleep… and slept for 2.5 hours!

I just remember feeling so much guilt on that day. I felt as if I had been starving her for the past 7 months. I wasn’t cut out for this whole motherhood thing. I wanted to get a paying job. Babies thrive on a schedule and HLS was on no set schedule. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I couldn’t remember the last time I blow-dried my hair. My hair was falling out. My gums are not healthy. I wasn’t getting any sleep. I would eat whatever was around the house, because I didn’t have energy to think of a meal plan for Daniel and me. Poor guy. I’m sure he just wants a good meal every now and then. It’s been Hamburger Helper or pizza since she’s been born… ok, with a few good meals in-between… because someone from church, family or friends supplied them J With ALL of that (pity party) to say, I have changed my attitude.
Hurricane Harper

When people ask about Harper and how she’s doing my response is, “She’s so good, but sometimes really hard.” I feel like I’m always downing my life or her. She really is the best thing in the whole wide world, but I would always throw myself a pity party. I would talk about the big responsibility, she won’t take a bottle, so I haven’t been able to leave her with someone, she’s often fussy, she doesn’t sleep well, and on and on and on. What I fail to mention is, the sweet times we have in the morning, the laughs that warm our hearts (which make me think she has asthma, ha!), the smiles she gives Daniel and me, the juicy kisses all day, the way she does beg for me, the security she has when I’m holding her, the way she and Daniel play on the bed every night, hilarious bath times, the fact that she has not been sick a day in her life, how thankful I am I’m home with her and not in corporate America, our walks in the park, a healthy baby! My goodness, I could go on and on and on about how thankful I am! Why can’t I find joy in that??

A couple of weeks ago, friends came over to hang out. Brett and Tyler Jeter stayed a while after and asked about Harper and how we were doing. I replied with my usual, “She’s great, but I’m just so tired. We have no time to read, and when we do get a free 30 minutes, we just want to sit down and talk. And, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a great parent since I’m home all day with her. If I do read, it’s usually my parenting book.” Brett could see how stressed I was and reminded me I could not do it on my own. I needed to ask God to help me. Everyday. Every second of everyday. We need the Lord’s help. THAT, my friends, was so refreshing. The good news is, we can come to Him in filthy rags, exhausted, not bathed in 3 days, hair in a mess, tears pouring down, and He’s there with open arms saying, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Why do I feel like I can do it on my own? Pride. Why can’t I ask for help? Pride. She’s my child. I can do it. Why is asking for help from the Lord so hard for me? It’s probably a little awkward and humbling. HE WANTS us to ask for help! I firmly believe being a stay-at-home mom is harder than your job. If I don’t have the Lord’s help, I am slowly weakening myself. 

"Hmm... a foot."

We, as Christians, do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) Now to answer my question above of, “Why can’t I find joy in that?” talking about how awesome my little girl is… I CAN find joy! A lady reminded me (in line at JoAnn’s craft store… she could probably look at how exhausted I was) that this only lasts for a short time. Harper Lee will only be a baby once. ENJOY IT. If she won’t eat from anyone else, ENJOY IT. EMBRACE IT. She wants to be with you. That completely changed my attitude. She was right. Harper girl will only be small for a short period of time. We, as humans, will only be on this Earth for a short period of time. She’s only small once. This is where selflessness comes into the picture, and also a beautiful comparison with the gospel. I love this statement by Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart, “The gospel enables you and your children to face the worst in yourselves—your sin, your badness and your weakness—and still find hope, because grace is powerful.” We are God’s children. We frustrate Him, we do the opposite of what He has taught us, we cry, we’re hungry, we’re in need. Our loving/jealous God never gets frustrated with us. He finds joy, because we run to Him. He overflows with mercy, grace and love (Exodus 34:6). We should remember to have childlike faith (Matthew 18:2-4) for we are also children. How thankful am I that God does not send his wrath on me! 

She is so busy! Crawling and pulling up on everything!

He is disciplining me daily and entrusting me with His little girl, Harper Lee Sims. Since Wednesday of last week, I have felt so refreshed. I find joy in sweet little Miss Harper when she cries. She has gone to bed without crying almost every time. I am more relaxed and letting her fall into a schedule rather than making her a schedule. With the Lord’s help, I can be the mom she needs me to be. Through Him, I can enjoy and care for her.

7 months (September 2, 2012)

As Christians, we are to glorify the Lord in all we do and ENJOY Him forever. The familiar first question of the Shorter Catechism is,

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Of course, we are also called to suffer for the gospel, but bask in His mercy forever. We are to ENJOY him. He will change our hearts. He will help us. Like I was doing with Harper (being selfish), I wanted my own time. I wanted to have a break, we also do that to Christ. I have this vision of Harper and God pleading saying, “JUST ENJOY ME! Be still and enjoy me.” (Psalm 46:10) On that note, I am also reminded of Matthew 10:37 (second part) “…anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” We are to first love Jesus Christ. As a mother, that’s a daily battle for me. I am often times guilty of putting her down for a nap, then picking up clothes, doing the laundry, dishes, sewing, etc. I need to be still and enjoy the Lord’s presence. I am such a Mary (compared to Martha who was washing Jesus’ feet-- My sweet husband made that comparison one day when I was running around cleaning up, and he was reading his Bible. I couldn’t understand how he could just sit there while I was cleaning up. I need to be still. So thankful for a God fearing husband.) With all of that to say, there is forgiveness. The Lord wants us to run to him when we’re weary. I write this not to let you in my private life, but to give encouragement to other moms. You’re not alone! We all have a beautiful gift from God, but sometimes we will fail as parents. It’s okay. God has given us this responsibility, because he KNOWS we can handle it. Take the stress off and ENJOY your children… and ENJOY the Lord… forever.

One of our many trips to the park

Ezekiel 36 expresses well the fullness of the gospel, (verse 25) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. The grace of forgiveness is found in the gospel. (26) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. The grace of eternal change is found in the gospel. (27) And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. The grace of empowerment to live is found in the gospel. (Tedd Tripp in Shepherding a Child’s Heart)

Matthew 10:42
If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

To cap off my meltdown week, Daniel, Harper Lee and I had a great time in Starkville this past weekend! It could’ve have been better. 
Stopped by my old place of employment, Starkville Manor. I have missed this place so much!

Mr. Charles

Dinner at The Veranda

my little bulldog :)



Those dang cowbells were way too loud!


Go State!

Cutest bulldog ever!

Harper Lee's friends

Auburn folk :)

She got sticker attacked. I was ok with it.
Tired girl! (Btw, this NEVER happens! She was so tired.)

(GOT TO GO. We turned our internet off a few months ago, so I'm at the library trying to type as fast as I can. I left Daniel and Harper home alone, and I'm surprised he hasn't called me yet. As a matter of fact, I might stay until he does call. Ahhh... a free 30 minutes to myself...)

Thanks for stopping by, even if this was a diluted version of the Gospel :( I'm learning. Everyday.