After the Hallelujahs

When my Ramblin’ Man  and I first got married –back in the day! — I don’t remember being very anxious about anything.  Those were the days when I pulled frozen meat out of the freezer in the morning, left it on the counter, of all places, and cooked it up for supper several hours later.  Yes …I did that and by some miraculous intervention, we lived to tell the story!

I used Clorox by the gallons to clean just about everything,  had no clue about the possible harmful effects of microwave use,  knew nothing of what the presence of or lack of BPA in plastic meant, or had any concern whatsoever with what has become a current all-time-fear-obsession  …rust! {don’t laugh!}

I had a somewhat fairy-tale, romantic idea about life …married the man I loved and easily got pregnant with our first child.  Life was good.

My early married blissful thinking continued and  I didn’t really have a fear of pregnancy or giving birth since I came from a long line of fantastic “birthing women”. My mom and sister had successfully given birth to a combined total of 13 children — all  normal deliveries — no miscarriages, surgeries or serious complications that I know of.

But now it was my turn …

After we hit the 2 weeks overdue point and my blood pressure started rising with the tide,  our beautiful  9 lb, 4 oz little boy was ready to come  but the delivery would need some help  …surgery …C-section {Cesarean delivery} …not in my fairy-tale plans.

While being a mama was one of the most wonderful things I had ever experienced in my entire life, recovering from a C-section while my hormones were trying desperately to find  equilibrium,  left me with a feeling that I had somehow failed  womanhood with my surgically induced  birthing process.  At this point I found myself  in the throes of   postpartum depression …and not the “you’ll-get-over-this-in-2-weeks” kind! Mine would last for months!  Not only was this not in the fairy-tale plan but since it was not as openly talked about or understood at that time, feeling alone in the suffering became a reality for me.

Trying to be “normal” again with the labor and delivery of our second baby ended in yet another C-section and two more would follow to round out the four in all.

By this time, my body was not as happy to accommodate the process and the complications of surgery and excessive blood loss made for some scary moments.  There was the ecstatic joy in holding that little baby in my arms while feeling the extreme vulnerability of life being held together…mixing  in waterfalls of emotions.

I found myself feeling very alone  in the hospital that day and asking God …”Why? Why is this happening to me?”

And He softly spoke into my heart …

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings…”

…and the Word  was revealed right in the middle of my story.

I had heard many teach about the “power of His resurrection” and I loved that! The power that raised Jesus from the dead is paramount to the Christian life –the Hallelujah of that Easter Resurrection morning we just celebrated last Sunday.  But somehow I had often stopped at the first part of that verse  and not given much thought or attention to the last half.  I’m not sure if it was a matter of feeling uncomfortable with the idea of suffering or  if this was not as popular to embrace but that “fellowship of His suffering” wasn’t something I think I wanted.  The power of His resurrection  definitely sounded better to me!

I was experiencing something that felt very powerful for sure, but not of the resurrecting kind;  yet as soon as the Holy Spirit spoke this into my heart, I immediately felt an intimacy with the Savior that I had never felt before as He allowed me to participate in the fellowship of His sufferings!   I began to weep as my heart understood the depths of this sharing. I felt closer to Jesus …closer to His pain …a part of our suffering mingled together.    Somewhere I was beginning to understand,  as the Amplified Bible explains, that “knowing Him” has to do with “experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely.” (Philippians 3:10 AMP)

In this verse, Paul ironically shares the Resurrection first — then the fellowship of His suffering.  It seems backwards. Didn’t we go through “Good Friday” first — THEN the Resurrection?  Haven’t we already remembered the suffering so we can  hurry up and  move on to the party?

But this is what I call, “The post-Hallelujahs” …after the celebrations of triumph and the glory of the Resurrection and Easter are over …this  quiet, intimacy of  sharing in the suffering with our Savior –Jesus Christ.

There is often an attempt to avoid this part at all cost.  Even Jesus said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me…” and yet this had to be.  There was no way around it.  “Not my will, but Thine be done.”  (Luke 22:42 KJV)

And how could there be  fellowship in suffering? How could that bring intimacy and a deeper knowing?  How could suffering make me “more thoroughly acquainted” with Jesus?  And if this is the way, might there be a more scenic  route …avoiding busy highways, traffic jams and accidents?  I mean, do I really want this kind of fellowship?

And it seems the only way to truly knowing is  a cutting through the walls of pride and self-sufficiency to bring true life into the world of my existence…a birthing of a deeper relationship …a friendship forged in the pain and the scars that can truly say, “I know you and I understand what you’re going through. I feel your pain.  It is my own as well.”

What I Would Say to a New Mom On Mother’s Day

Motherhood. Will. Change. Your. Life. Forever!

Our daughter, Carrye Burr, with her son, Luke Emmanuel
Our daughter, Carrye Burr, with her son, Luke Emmanuel
Photo credit: Rachel Martin

Read all the parenting books you can get your hands on but read your child as if there are no other books written on the subject.

Study their unique blueprint and personality.

It took “you and him” to make this “him or her”.  Remember  that … and celebrate the unique one who came from the unique two.

It always feels safer to have the baby “inside” but the birthing process is the beginning of the letting go .  You have to let go in order for them to come out alive and well and …really live !

Make much of each day and let each day make much of you.  Every day is another day of growing and learning and experiencing the wonder of  this child.  Learn with your child.  Share in the wonder and amazement of everyday life !

Sing to your child …even if it’s silly and off-key.  They love your voice …it’s music to their ears.   My sister-in-law, Mary Jane,  sang Jesus to her little baby girl, Anna,  while nursing and rocking her.  Twenty-something years later that same little girl would sing that song word for word, not even  remembering how she knew the song — and it would bring peace into her anxious heart as she rushed to her mom’s side as she lay in the hospital bed– uncertain of what the future held.  Sing Jesus to your baby!  He’ll be there when you can’t !    (Thanks Mary Jane Waters and Anna Lyles for sharing that story !)

Stare long and hard at this little miracle of life in your arms. I know it’s hard to believe, but they don’t go to kindergarten making those same faces they made at birth.  They change daily !

Enjoy the 2 a.m. feeding!  It’s probably the only time you and the baby will get a chance to be alone and quiet together — uninterrupted .  Let it be a time to pray and bless this child you’ve been given.

I know you can’t imagine this little bundle buckling up and driving at age 18 but it will happen.  Enjoy each day.  Don’t wish any one of them away.  Today is making an imprint on that 18-year-old more than you can imagine.

You’re going to mess up — but you’re the best mom this child will ever know.  There’s grace for all that’s in between.

You make mistakes …they will too.  Give them as much grace  as you want given to you.

Find out what’s at the heart of their tears or screaming or bad behavior before launching into a reaction or response.  It might be that they’re afraid or anxious.  (I might know this from personal experience 🙂

Let them paint and be creative and make things.  It will probably be messy but they’ll remember that you let them create more than they’ll remember  the clean house you kept.  You don’t want them to think growing up means putting away the paint brushes and crayons do you !!!

Our granddaughter, Charlotte who loves to paint and be creative !
Our granddaughter, Charlotte who loves to paint and be creative !

Children are like cakes …”made from scratch” — not a box.  Don’t put them in one.

Acknowledge their hurts and boo-boos …it’s the biggest hurt they know.

Our Jenny with her daughter, Haddie ! (Our son, Roger III’s wife and baby girl)

You won’t spoil your children by holding them.  They need to feel your hugs and the security of your love.  As you hold them, you’re filling their emotional tank — as my mom used to say  — so they are full and confident to walk out in this life.

Ignore a lot but focus on what really matters.

They learn more by watching you than by hearing you talk. Making sure those two  things match up  is learning at the highest level !

Always, always love others and reach out to those in need.  Your child needs to be a part of  something beyond himself.   Birth is never too early to start !

Pray with your baby from the beginning — It will become the spoken,  household language.

Let your day flow with the Holy Spirit — snack often on the Word of God — leave it out on the table for easy snacking access.  My Mom, mother of 7 children, had very little “block time” for herself but she taught me the beauty of “snacking on the Word of God” throughout the day by leaving an open Bible on the dining room table — reading small portions as she passed by …on her way to the laundry room !

Read the Bible out loud to your children.  You’ll both get something out of it.

Have Bible verses all around your house — in frames, on the chalkboard, on refrigerators, in bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.  The more you have it out, the more it gets in .

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)

Abide in your Heavenly Father’s presence throughout the day …you’ll learn a lot about how to love your little one from the way He loves you!

Music!  Music !  Let it be a part of everything.  It just makes the home  a happier place all the way around !

Get eye level with your child — see what they see !  You’ll gain a new perspective on their world.

Our Carrye and Charlotte running around being silly 😉
Photo credit: Samantha Burr

Stop to pick flowers and clovers and dandelions !  Dance ! Be silly!  Laugh a LOT!

Frustrations usually come from blocked goals.  Be realistic.  Block time may be a thing of the past …learn to divide your “to-do” list in smaller segments of 15 minute time slots.  You’ll be much happier and less frustrated.

Expectations are a killjoy !  Expect nothing .  Appreciate everything !  Always find something to be thankful for in every situation.

Your family is always your first ministry!  By loving that little one into God’s family, you’ll ultimate reach many others for Christ.  Doing that backwards can make for a lot of chaos in the home.

Being “with” your children is one of the best gifts you can give them.  Don’t sacrifice that time for other luxuries …your family is the luxury !  When you feel like you “want it all” , remember…you already have it all !

Don’t forget your husband during all the baby/child rearing days.  A loving, healthy relationship in Mom and Dad will  be the model they’ll carry into their own marriage relationship one day.  Make it real ! Make it honest!  Let your children see that you love and respect each other .

Say “I’m sorry”, “I blew it”, “Will you forgive me!”  That will make more of an impact on them than you can ever imagine.

You’ll always need tissues …and baby wipes !  😉

You’ll never, ever stop being a Mom …

You’re not alone …

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV)

To my children and their children …

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”  Deuteronomy 7:9

The kids who call me “Mom” — Roger III, Rachel, Ben and Carrye

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children”Psalm 103:17

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

3 John 1:4 (NIV)

And to my Mom …

Thanks Mom …you taught me well ! I realize you never stop needing your mom !  I still need you to hold me and tell me it’s going to be okay …