I wait for bedtime for so many reasons.
To rest, sit down, to breathe but most importantly to meet with Jesus and reflect, refresh and restore my soul.
Sweatpants and honesty required.
Come sit with me momma.

September 21, 2015

Successful Baby's First Daycare Dropoff 101

Four babies in, this first day of daycare drop off will be a breeze. Let me show you my ways.
I'll kiss her on the head, wave bye bye and walk out in my heels with a smile.
I'm a pro by now. I'm an expert. I can do this. She will be fine. I will be fine.
I keep telling myself this. 
Over and over. 
And over again.

I'm LYING!!!
I'm a mess inside.
A jumbled mess.

Sorry to disappoint, I have no clue how to make it through the first daycare drop off without ugly crying. Snot and tears and makeup running down your face cry. It ain't pretty. Just prepare your heart and wait to put on makeup until you get to work. 

The entire night before Karis' first day of daycare I just would not let myself get emotional because I knew the damn would burst. I could feel the pressure of it building up. I was all business to attempt to keep things together. 
Each step I got closer to leaving the house, I felt that lump in my throat. 
That lump that is one second away from losing it. I knew each moment was pure gold.
Nursing her that morning my gut hurt a little.
Kissing her chunky toes at diaper change time. 
Looking in her big, brown doe eyes.
Putting her in her car seat.
Bringing her into daycare. Smiling at each other. 
I took her out of her seat and handed her over. 
This babe that grew in me almost ten months and has been attached for the last six. 
This tiny, sweet smelling, chunky thigh girl. 
I kissed her on the head and walked out. 
I looked back one last time and those big, brown doe eyes looked at me.
They clearly said, "mom, why are you leaving me?"
I smiled and quickly left before the damn broke.
Deep breathe. She will be fine. She will be fine.
Maybe I'll turn the radio on to distract myself.
Mistake. My song came on the moment I turned on the dial.
Ugly cry.
Ugly cry just spewed out.

I disappointed her. I left her. I'm a terrible mother. I'm going to scar her for life. I'm damaging our relationship. My baby needs me and no one is as good as me for her. What if she's scared? What if the person watching her doesn't pat her butt just so? What if they don't hold her right or sing her favorite song? What if I'm failing as her mother?
It is not easy on your first or your fourth baby. Day one is hard, day 12 is too and so is day 89. The first few weeks of transition are hard for both of you. It gets easier but their is still a tender bruise where you left your babe. An ache each time you look at their picture while you are at your desk. An ache each time you think about how that morning you forgot to give them a hug or maybe didn't get enough time holding them. An ache. A tenderness. 

Whether you are working because it's a financial requirement like me or because your work is something you truly love and it benefits your soul and others to work. We are raising these little arrows to go out and impact the world. Each time we separate from them we are both learning to trust God more. We are learning how to be our own self again. They are learning to become their own self too. The moment the umbilical cord is cut we are both learning how to live a little tiny bit further apart and it's sad. Sad. Ugly cry sad. But it is the crucible of parenting. So go ahead and ugly cry momma. Allow that ache while you grin at their photo on your desk to spur you on to becoming your best self in Christ. Motherhood ain't pretty some days and your gonna ugly cry. Just know Jesus is right next to you friend. You are a good mom. You are.

Honestly with love,
Rachel xoxo

September 2, 2015

Raising Arrows

"Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them."
Psalm 127:3-5

The very moment I knew I was pregnant I could physically feel overflowing joy. Overflowing. After so many years of tears and empty arms I thought there was something I did wrong to deserve my infertility. I didn't. It just wasn't my time yet. The waiting made the gift ever the sweeter tasting. Each of my four children have a miracle story and are a blessing from God, a blessing I do not deserve. Not for anything I did right or wrong. Gifts.

Carrying, birthing, and raising these four sweet souls has made me a warrior. The hardest thing I've ever done is parent. My body fought for them. My spirit breathes life from God into them. Every battle I fight for them from the birthing room to the rocking chair to the playground to the dinner table is done with love from the depths of me. Dig down deep love that's hard and dirty and requires grit and determination on so many days. 

I fight against myself, against my selfishness to give more of myself to them when I'm tired and weary.
I fight to keep Jesus the wellspring of our lives.
I fight to love when I don't want to. 
I fight to teach and show them the very love of God in word and deed.
I fight to keep the junk of this world from diluting, poisoning, and tainting the hearts of my kids every day.

Paul and I are warriors. You parents are warriors.

Jude, Levi, Ethan and Karis are the four arrows in our full quiver.
We are sharpening them, strengthening them, and carving them into arrows that one day we will release into the world to pierce the darkness with the brilliant love of Christ. We fight the evil of this world in part by helping raise arrows. We are purposefully sharpening them, discipling them, and loving them to model Jesus. He has a direct path for them once they are finely sharpened.

Paul and I got these tattoos as a visual reminder that we are warriors for Christ, fighting the difficult battle of raising arrows with the love of Christ in their hearts. A reminder to be like Jesus, to model Him in every action and word. A reminder to keep fighting to softly mold with love the hearts of our kids and in so doing becoming more like Jesus ourselves. When we are annoyed, exhausted, angry, or frustrated- a visual of why a God gave us our sweet, little gifts. A greater purpose. Won't you raise arrows with us?

Honestly with love,

Tattoos by Kyle Oxford//kyleoxford@gmail.com

August 18, 2015

Love Anyway

"Ugh, Dad, we have to say it again?"
Each of my three little boys mutter this each school morning from the back of our crumb laden mini van. My husband, ever so sweetly, shuttles them to day care or school every single morning while I bring the baby to work. God bless him. The morning commute is nuts with three loud tinies in tow. Nuts!!
You know what he did? He took it as a chance to open up my blue eyed boys world to Jesus in their every day, walking around life. Oh how I love that man. 
He says to them, "okay boys- what does the Jesus creed say?" and they at first, roll their eyes, but eventually glady say, 
"Love God with all your heart and love others as you love yourself." Similar to how Luke 10:27 says it and how the Shema in Deuteronomy 6 tells more of the story. 
Wow. Two simple truths. Love God, love people. 
What a perfect thing to focus on each and every day. For kids and grown ups.
When a boy snatches a toy, hits, or is being selfish we say "what does the Jesus creed say?" 
I should ask myself this question more often too. 

You know what though? It ain't easy lovin other people is it? Not easy at all.
Other people disappoint. They are selfish. 
They flake out. They speak hurtful things. 
They don't call, text or visit when you are in the hospital.
They make plans to hang out only to have something better to do at the last minute.
They hurt you. They disappoint you. They forget about you.
They cut you off in traffic. They talk about you behind your back.
They get mad. They are disrespectful. They don't tell the full truth.
They don't share toys. They push you on the playground. You get it.
They are human. So are you.

That 'love other people as you love yourself' part is hard. Hard.
Especially when you have these expectations for how other people should act. How they should love.
You can't control them though can you? You can only control how you react. 
I choose to react in love. Love anyway. Sure, at first I may be disappointed they chose not to love me. But I want to love others as I love myself. It's sort of this cycle that draws us closer to Jesus. Love God and love imperfect people like yourself. It restores us to live in grace. To forgive. To grow. To love. God more. A God who loved us, imperfect people, and died on the cross for us despite how hard it must be to love us.

I want to bring them a meal after they just went through the groans of labor with a tiny babe.
I want to offer a word of encouragement when they seem to be having a hard time.
I want to send them a text or call them when they are sick or hurt or have lost someone.
I want to let them skip in line when they have a crying baby.
I want to ask them about themselves and truly listen.
I want to be quiet and listen to my son throwing a tantrum.
I want these things for others because I want them for myself. 
I want to be a glimmer of Jesus when I'm sure lots of other people have flaked out on them during a tough time. I won't be perfect at it, in fact will mess up often and so will you, so don't expect everyone else to love you as Jesus does. Forgive and move on. Just love them anyway.

Focus on loving your Holy Father above all else. He is perfect love. From that, loving others as you love yourself will flow out of your heart naturally. An overflow. Overflow of compassion, of concern, of genuine love. Even that whiny toddler having a meltdown in Target. Even that baby who is crying to nurse for the third time tonight. Even your husband who snores while you are exhausted. 

You know what Jesus said next, He said "do this and you will live." Live
Live abundantly, joyfully, and brightly. Like you are dancing kind of living. 
Love God, love people.
Love God, love people.

Honestly with love,

July 29, 2015

Back to Yourself After Baby

You just had a baby 5 months ago. You back to yourself yet?  

No. Heck no. 

So why does everyone expect this?  

Maternity leave is over. Lose that weight, go back to work, do all the laundry and dishes while you nurse that babe every two hours on the treadmill with siblings hanging off you. Come on- get back to it girl. 

New motherhood should be a much gentler, calmer transition don't you think?

Surrounded in grace, support and peacefulness. It should be slow and calm. 

I want to reject society's pull for me to jump back into my old self when I'm not the same. 

The transition to life with a new baby is joyfully traumatic--like driving in a new place, in a new car, with no directions and you have a crying baby in the car. You are both learning the road, adjusting mirrors, getting to know each other and how to make it through the day without crashing. In my case, I also have three loud tinies farting and throwing fits in the back seat.  It is physically exhausting, mentally draining, hormonally challenging, and anxiety ridden all wrapped up in beauty the first year or so after a baby is born. Most days I am just surviving the day. I know it's just a season. I know I won't be so very tired, weary, stressed and overwhelmed soon. I know.  

Until then, you and I are here. 

Until then, bask in the glory of those lovey eyes and chunky thighs that require every moment of your attention.

Until then, encourage the mommas of not just newborns. 

Give them a pass on calling you, going out past dark, or having the energy to be a great friend.  I give you a pass momma. I give you grace.

I know you want to call, you want to go, you think about your friends all the time. You want to be back to your old walking around without a baby on your hip, milk leaking, or the sound of crying. You want just 3 minutes alone in silence. I know.

Take care of yourself.  Hang out with Jesus and let Him restore your weary heart tonight. It is messy but you are growing into a beautiful momma. Just beautiful. It is a slow, gentle process refinement.  Don't let others blind expectations of you overwhelm you. You are not failing. The beginning is just a time where you feel like you are because this love is so new and bright and all-consuming. The schedules are unending. You cannot be everything to everyone all the time. It's okay to say no to others when you are overwhelmed. Be gentle on yourself momma. Grace upon grace. You just had a baby 5 or 9 or 15 months ago. The truth is, you and I will never be the same. I'm okay with that. 

Until then, whisper Jesus.

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Number 6:24-26 A Priestly Blessing

Honestly with love,