When I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I find myself in a season that is a breeding ground for shame. Just being an adult is hard enough in this world of social media and high standards. Then when you add in parenting, marriage, family, friends, ministry, missions, and all of the other hundreds of little things that I’m supposed to do on a daily basis like feed the tiny humans and make sure everyone has clean clothes…well let’s just say I can never get it all done. I hate that I can never get it all done. I feel shame about the fact that I can’t get it all done. I am also ashamed that I have anxiety, crippling anxiety, about all of these things. I feel shame that I am not enough, and I feel shame in the way I deal with not being enough. That is where I began the year and my meditation time with this verse. 

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

If this is true, then I cannot live in shame any longer. If the grace of Jesus is really enough for me, then I have to let go of how many mistakes I made today. If His grace is really sufficient, I have to quit beating myself up about letting my kids watch tv or eat hot dogs or go to daycare or whatever other mom guilt is thrown my way. I have to let go of the fact that I missed opportunities to fix or help or speak truth. I have to let go of the fact that I could have loved better, could have spoken better, could have acted better, could have been braver, or stronger, or wiser. I have to let go of the fact that I am not a perfect friend or mentor or daughter or sister. I have to let go of the fact that I could have said something different, had more patience, been a better mom. I have to let go of the fact that I cannot do it all. I have to let go of the fact that I still get anxious. I have to let go of the fact that I made mistakes, will keep making mistakes, and will probably hurt someone’s feelings or disappoint them. In shaming myself, I am saying that His grace is not enough for me. In covering myself with self-hatred thoughts and words, I am saying that I am above the grace of Jesus. By drowning myself in shame, I am saying, your death, it doesn’t cover me. It doesn’t count for me. Is that what I want? NO! 

So LET IT GO! Let the shame go. Let His grace be sufficient. 

“For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

When I admit and embrace that I am not enough…I mean really embrace and accept that I cannot, will not, and should not be perfect…When I let myself find freedom in the grace of Jesus and fully live knowing that I am imperfect…When I breathe in and out with the knowledge that I am broken in weakness…Then and only then, will the power of Christ be made perfect. As long as I keep trying to be strong all on my own, Christ’s power will have no room in me. There is no place for the Spirit to fill me if I keep pretending like I can do it all on my own. If I keep trying to be everything to everybody, then I will just keep ending the day in a ball on the floor full of anxiety and brokenness. BUT if I can embrace my imperfections and allow myself the freedom to be forgiven and accepted with all of my faults and weakness and shortcomings – not just sometimes but each moment – then the power really comes. Then the power of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, it is perfected in me.

The Bible is full of stories of God using a broken person, group, or place that the world defines as weak, in order to bring power into the world. That is not by accident. God has proven over and over that He is most powerful when us humans step back, accept that we are weak and allow Him to really show off. It is possible for God’s power to be shown in me no matter what, but it is only perfected when I admit and embrace that I can never be enough on my own. 

Now this does not give us license to sin or make excuses for immoral behavior. Christ was able to admit his weakness, let the power of God fill him, and still remain sinless. Sin and weakness are not synonyms. 

“Therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

So, I must then take it a step further. Not only should I just be weak and accept it, I need to boast about it. I need to shout that I am a screw up. I make mistakes. I need to own it. I need to quit pretending that I have it all together or even that I should have it all together. I need to own this hot mess that I am. Instead of getting embarrassed by my inadequacies,  I need to let go of these crippling expectations and allow Christ to dwell in me. Again, this does not mean that I get a pass to sin but instead that I now can focus on progress over perfection. I have to admit, out loud, that I do not have it all together. Quit the pretending. For him to really fill me with the Spirit, I need to acknowledge without fear that I am struggling on my own and in need of help. This whole life, adulting, parenting thing…It’s all hard. Only when I embrace my weakness, embrace my anxiety, embrace my imperfection, then the power, the spirit of Christ will dwell in me. It will come in, grow roots and start living inside of me. When that power lives inside of me, it starts to seep out into everything I do. But I have to remain humble in knowing that I alone am weak, and that is ok.

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I don’t have to be happy that bad things are happening. I’m still allowed to have bad days. I’m allowed to get angry and be frustrated. I’m allowed to beg for another way, just like Jesus did in the garden before dying on the cross. This verse is not saying that God makes the bad things happen for you to be filled with power. It is saying that even though you will go through all kinds of hardships, you can be content knowing that Jesus is hurting with you. This world is broken. It is fallen. Jesus is not going to take away all the distress from your life. I truly believe that a good father shouldn’t and can’t move every difficulty out of the way for His children. But a good father does sit and listen and stroke our hair and cry with us in the insults and pain. He walks with us, gives us wisdom, gives us strength, and gives us POWER! He doesn’t need the bad things in order to give us power. He does however use the weakness, insults, distress, persecution, and difficulties to redeem the brokenness inside of us and bring forth power. He redeems it by filling us in those moments of weakness. He fills us with His spirit so that we are overflowing with the strength and power of Christ. He surrounds us with the church, the body, and our community to strengthen us and help us put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. We can be content and at peace with our weaknesses because Christ is enough. We don’t have to be enough. Life is full of BOTH hardship and life-giving moments. It is full of both insults and encouragement. It is full of both distress and laughter. It is full of both people that tear you down and powerful community that can fill you up. It is full of both difficulties and wonder. I am both weak and strong at the same time. That is the way life is meant to be lived. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Again, I don’t have to rejoice in the fact that the bad is happening BUT you can rejoice that in that moment or season of darkness, in this roller coaster of life, God IS YOUR STRENGTH! Christ is POWER. 

Christ died to wash away our sin and guilt and shame, but he was also RISEN from the grave to show and fill us with POWER. Even in our darkest days, know that Sunday is coming. May we walk in that power today. 

Thoughts on being a stay at home mom

I have never had just one baby so I don’t know what it’s like to be a stay at home mom with just one child but life with 3 babies is very busy yet monotonous at the same time. I absolutely love that I am able to stay home this year and know 100% that this was the right decision for our family. I love that I get to see the their firsts (roll, crawl, walk, etc.),  and I love that I get so many sweet snuggles and get to know these little ones so well. I know what makes them smile and which toy is their favorite today (it changes everyday). I know the last time they pooped which is sometimes a rarity in our house. I know which foods they are currently liking, and I know exactly how much of their bottles (or lack of bottle as we transition to sippy cups) they take at each feed. I know their schedule so well that I could do it in my sleep, and some days I do. I love that I get to see their different little personalities come alive during the day. I know that Oliver will smile for pretty much anything and wants to be around people. I know that Shepherd may be the smartest because he is usually the first to learn every new thing, but he is also the most sensitive and needs to be held and calmed down the most. I know exactly how to calm each baby down. I know that Lucy is so independent but also needs special attention. She is so calm and quiet that she is often last and could be easily looked over if I give the boys all the attention that they demand each day so I have to be super intentional to give Lucy cuddles and kisses just because. If I wait till she asks for them, she may never get them but she secretly longs for them. I know that I have to watch out for the boys because Lucy will tackle them out of love, but sometimes it really hurts them. So I have to make sure the boys are safe and that Lucy knows it’s ok to play but not to push. I know each of their cries and usually what the cries mean. I know Oliver’s bored cry, Shepherd’s scared cry, and Lucy’s fix this cry. I know all of their hungry cries and their sleepy cries. I know things about them that Derek doesn’t simply because I spend so much more time with them. I know that if I had one baby then it would be easier to see the details in the shorter spans of time with just 1, but with 3, I love that in my full days with them I get to take my time learning about each one individually. If I had 1 baby, then those different cries and personality traits could be heard/seen in the evenings or mornings or weekends, but with 3 babies, that’s at least 9 different cries! I love that I know these details. I love that they sleep and eat amazingly well in a large part because I am at home with them and keep them on this super specific schedule that day care may not be able to do since keeping 3 kids on the exact same schedule is tricky. Feeding 3 babies at once is not usually on a day care workers resume. haha I know which order they need to eat and be put to sleep to make sure that the schedule is smooth and easy for the day. I love that they haven’t been sick much in this first year (knock on wood) because they aren’t exposed to as many germs. The list goes on…

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BUT man I miss working. I miss adult interaction. I miss using my math brain and teacher skills. I miss how every day is so different in teaching and every class is different. I miss the immediate gratification of knowing I just taught a really good lesson. I miss getting to eat lunch with my teacher friends, or really just getting to eat lunch. I miss teaching with Derek. I miss the retreat and school trips. I miss stretching my brain and writing a really good test ( I know…nerd alert). I miss being asked for advice and getting to know my students beyond just how they are at math. I miss talking to them about Jesus and life. I have wanted to be a mom since I was little, but I have also wanted to be a math teacher since 8th grade. I never changed my major or changed my mind. I have seriously always wanted to teach high school math. Teaching to me was a passion and calling and something that brings me a lot of purpose. Being a mom also gives me purpose and joy, but I feel like I had one of my arms cut off. Or maybe part of my brain. I know a lot of it is the lack of sleep talking, and I know that I do still have opportunities to stretch my brain. With three babies though, I am very busy all day moving them from one thing to the next. We rotate like stations to different areas of the house about every 15-30 minutes. We read books in the chair, play with dolls by the rocking chair, race cars around the kitchen island, look out the doggy door, play by the wagon and front window, play in their pretend kitchen, play in the cage with blocks, play with magnets on the fridge, etc. Then about every couple hours we go to the high chairs to eat. And now just once a day they go to their cribs for naps. I am constantly making sure that when they all 3 crawl (or walk) in different directions that they don’t hurt themselves. haha It is a wonderful circus, and I really do enjoy it. It’s not that its hard. In fact, it’s really not bad which people find hard to believe. The hardest part is that I literally do the same thing over and over again and the monotony makes my brain feel like its rotting away some days. I do things to help myself like listening to the news and reading intellectual books. I make Derek have discussions with me at night about anything we can thing of. I text and call former students and love that I still have a ministry with them and get to stay really connected with their lives. But I usually get to do these things in quick 5 minute bursts in between wiping spit up and changing a poopy diaper.

Maybe it’s the lack of nap time lately speaking. I had to wake up at 5am to write this, because in the last few days once they get up I’m on duty until Derek gets home from work. Nonstop. I’m lucky if I get to pee kind of nonstop. Staying at home is hard. It’s a sacrifice, and I am so thankful that I can financially do this. I really am incredibly blessed to watch my babies grow. After infertility we didn’t know if we would ever have babies in our house and we probably won’t ever have them in our house again. So I am soaking up the baby stage but staying at home all day everyday is really harder than I thought it would be. I really do miss my classroom, ministry, math, the creativity of teaching, and good deep intellectually stimulating conversations.

That said, its also really hard on Derek to not be at home. He is constantly sad about missing something and just misses the kids. He asks for videos and pictures all day because he leaves right as they are waking up and comes home right as they are winding down for the night and not near as happy and playful. He misses a lot. Just like I feel as though I am missing an arm because I am not teaching, Derek feels like he is constantly missing an arm because he isn’t with the kids all day. I know that if I was teaching right now that I would feel the same way. Having multiple passions and loving your job makes this whole parenting thing even more tricky. It’s hard to want to be in 2 places at the same time. It brings up a lot of feelings of guilt and makes it hard to be present. I feel guilty that I don’t find all of my fulfillment in this wonderful world of babies that I have longed for and fought for over the past few years. Derek feels guilty that he is missing so many things with the kids. And if we switched rolls we would still feel guilty.

Learning to deal with the guilt and pressure to make the most out of this season that I find myself in is hard, but rewarding. I’m finding peace in things like my morning cup of tea before the babies get up and our evenings together just me and Derek when the kids go to sleep. I find rest in the short breaks in the day when no one is crying and one or all 3 of the babies come and crawl into my lap for a snuggle. I find joy in watching all 3 learn to play together and interact with me. I find comfort in how well adjusted they have become and the way they love me and others. I find intellectual stimulation in this blog and in talking to former students and friends. Thank you for reading this and for being a support to me this year. This blog has provided a wonderful outlet for me to process my emotions but also to just use my brain. I’m grateful when readers ask me questions or further the discussion because it really does bring some adult intellectual interaction to my day that I so desperately need.

So, today on Ash Wednesday, as I look into this season of Lent and what it means to sacrifice and to be left wanting and waiting for more to come. I am reminded that life and motherhood and staying at home and going to work and just the sacrifices that life demands, well they are all worth it. But it takes intentionality to really believe that truth. It takes discipline and more sacrifice to find the time to sit with Jesus and be still so that He can lavish His truth over you. I invite you to walk through this season of Lent with me. Maybe it’s time to give up a luxury to find time to process guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Maybe it’s time to find fulfillment and purpose in something bigger than even family and work. I know this is true for me. Every morning this week I have written out this phrase: “I am safe. I am loved. May your presence go with me and give me rest.” I pray the same over you today. May you find safety and love not in the fulfillment of work or family but in knowing that Jesus will give you rest.