1 Samuel 7:12, "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
I recently crossed a milestone in my life: I now have a 5th grader, 3rd grader and Kindergartener. Which means, I no longer have a preschooler at home with me. Would you believe me if I told you, it really does fly by?
I vividly remember my husband and I eagerly preparing for the arrival of our first kiddo. We prayed, we organized, we planned, we celebrated and we dreamt. All those that had gone before me, even the strangers at the store, would reach out to stroke my growing belly, and tell me to “enjoy every moment, because they will fly by.” Within four years we were blessed with three little ones. My days were quickly filled with tending to their every need. I kissed their "boo-boos,” addressed their fears, stoked their creativity, re-assured their uncertain hearts, established order, shaped their character, and nourished their bodies with meal after meal. And most nights, I fell into bed exhausted from my days’ work. Enjoy every moment? I definitely don’t enjoy every moment. Time will fly by? Most of my days drag on.
As I’ve inched my way out of those little years, I have learned four key lessons.
My husband once drove a sporty car with a turbo engine that required 91 octane fuel. It wouldn’t tear up the car immediately if he fueled it with a different octane, but over time, if it regularly received the wrong fuel, the car wouldn’t perform to it’s fullest potential.
Just like that car, what we let fuel us matters. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that the best fuel is knowing, believing and resting in my identity in Christ over all else. When I allow approval of others, achievement, and status to fuel me, I eventually was left exhausted, disappointed and not functioning at my fullest potential. When I embraced my identity in Christ, I walked in peace and confidence.
In a world that likes to be noticed, it’s growing more difficult to be content with the moments that aren’t “facebook-worthy.” When I swept the floors for the umpteenth time that day to prevent the crumbs from being carried all over the house on little feet. When I paused from folding Mt. Laundry to kneel down, make eye contact with my kiddo and model for him how to rightly ask for a turn with the toy his sibling is using. When I comforted my toddler through the thunderstorm that caused her to tremor in terror. When I woke at an ungodly hour just to have uninterrupted time in the Word, to get my heart and mind in the right place. When I poured out my soul in a journal, praying over my husband, my children, and my ministry, when I could have been sleeping instead. These moments, although the world didn't see, God saw as a form of worship.
Frankly, I’ve longed for more than mothering can offer. Sigh. Those longings are often followed with guilt, "There are so many people in this world that long for children and here I am longing for something different? But I’ve learned that guilt doesn't serve anyone, including myself. Instead, I have learned to dig into the longings and then relinquish them to the Lord, trusting that if they are of Him, He will bring them to fruition in His timing. In the mean time, I focused on remembering that I was raising the next generation of leaders in a world that is growing further away from Biblical truth. I have a future teacher, president, lawyer, coach, nurse, doctor, pastor or counselor on my hands and I pray that they will carry on to the next generation the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before I started my freshman year at Texas A&M, I went to Fish Camp. Fish camp is for freshman and it’s where you learn all the Aggie things. It lays the foundation for what is to come in your future as an Aggie. The preschool years are like Fish Camp; they are the training ground for all that will come in the future. Don’t wish away these moments, eagerly ushering in the next stage; for in the looking forward, you will miss what can be learned now that will prepare all of you for the future. When they are frustrated at the age of three because they want to “do it by myself,” yet they cannot, the groundwork is being laid for how to handle life's frustrations in the future.
The words from many wise older women ring in my ears today, “The days are seemingly long, but you’ll see, the years will fly by.” I get it now, it feels like I blinked my eyes, only to open them at the threshold of the next stage of motherhood. Before I move forward, I pause to lay down a stone and say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” I pray that these four lessons will help you in this journey of motherhood.