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Carmen @ Life Blessons Christian Blog and Commentary



(I've been writing monthly updates to my daughter, Claire, documenting all the changes that come with the passing weeks. You can catch up on past letters here.)

Dear Claire,

I was just thinking about those first two letters (here and here) that I wrote to you, Claire, and I wanted to add something.

Yes, those early days were rough and tough and trying. But lest you (or anyone else) gets the idea that I blame you for them, I want to assure you that I do not.

When I was pregnant with you (even before I ever got pregnant with you, in fact), I prayed that having you would sanctify me. I prayed that raising a child would chisel out the hard parts of my heart that would otherwise remain hidden, that it would draw out the rotten parts and bring healing and holiness to the deepest recesses of my soul. I so wanted that that when I drew up my Goals for Motherhood (which you can read about here), I included:

"Let motherhood sanctify me and submit myself to its purification process."

In fact, that was the goal that was at the very tip-top of that list.

And so it must be recognized that God took me up wholly and more than I’d ever anticipated on that prayer. I truly believe that those (these?) hard days are actually from Him. Not as punishment (because I was a difficult baby, too, Claire!), but really, truly as a gift.

I can say that now that I’ve walked through them and finally found some reprieve. I can say that now that life is feeling easier, now that we’ve made it out of that stretch of days-on-end crying bouts.

But I think that’s how life is sometimes. You can’t appreciate the beauty in the hardship until you’ve walked (or trudged or limped) through it and can see the edge of the shore gleaming in the distance. The shore of Hope. Then you look back on all the adversity still fresh in your wake and, only then, can see the silver linings that glimmered and glinted all along.

And so as I look back over those times in the not-so-distant past, I can see God working in them. Teaching me to deny myself and really start to learn what self-sacrifice looks like. To deny man’s supposed knowledge and look to him for wisdom. To let loose my grip on control and better learn to roll with the punches and make the best of them. And how to accomplish an absurd amount of things while nursing.

So I have seen my heart melted—toward you, toward life, toward God. I have seen myself learn to trust God more when life gets hard, to trust that he allowed me these hard times because he knows I can handle them, that I can press and hold on and make it to that distant shore with my faith intact, refined. And he has allowed them because he knows they’re worth it.

And that is what I’m most excited about, Claire. To see where you end up. Where this journey takes you. To see you grow and flourish and become that woman that God created you to be. And that he called me to help usher into this world. I promise you I will do my best. And when that fails, God will—as he already has—fill in the gaps and carry us both through.

Love,
Mom

Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."

Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.


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When I announced the birth of my daughter, I mentioned that being a mother is a lot harder than I'd anticipated. I knew it would involve less sleep and lots of diaper changes. Those were the practical things that I knew came with the territory. But what I didn't expect was to feel so unprepared and lost at how to mother this daughter of mine. I'd read so many books and listened to so many other moms share their stories and tips and tricks, that I felt really confident going into this motherhood thing.

Then, my daughter was born and all those tips and tricks and instructions proved useless. Obviously, my daughter hadn't heard about them and how they're supposed to get her sleeping and eating like clockwork, settled down in seconds, and contentedly cooing in her crib.

For the first couple of weeks, I fought to follow all those rules. I fought to try to get her to fall asleep on her own, to stay asleep without a "prop," to nurse full meals, and to have "awake" time. I fought because that's what every professional said to do if you want your baby to develop healthy sleep habits and fit into a nice routine.

It sounds so lovely, to have a baby sleeping through the night and who can fall asleep on her own. Wouldn't that be so nice, so convenient? Absolutely, which is why I fought for it.

But with the fighting came frustrations and feeling like a failure. Because it wasn't working for my baby. They made it sound so easy, but for us, it wasn't. Already I can tell she is a sensitive soul with a tender heart. She craves being held and kissed and fawned over. She craves to know she is loved; don't we all? And so as I fought to get her to follow the rules, she fought back against them with buckets and buckets of tears.

At some point, when too many tears were shed on both our accounts, my husband reminded me that all those professionals might have good ideas but their ideas are not gospel. The Bible does not tell us to put our babies down drowsy and shush them to sleep or else. It does not instruct us about when to wake the babes up and when to make them eat. It doesn't tell us that we should make them sleep here or there or let them cry for a certain amount of time.

No, the Bible's instruction on raising children is sweet in its simplicity. It tells us to love our children, to sacrifice for them, to teach them about the Lord, to model the ways of Jesus to them, to discipline them as they grow, to instruct them in the way they should go. Those are the priorities we ought to strive for in our parenting.

And then one night, as I stayed up with my baby, lulling her to sleep the only way I knew how—by nursing—I felt the Lord whisper to me: Surrender. Surrender these rules and instructions to Him, to her. Look at her and who she is. She is a real person with real emotions and real needs. She isn't simply a piece of wood to be whittled into submission.

She has a heart to care for and tend to. A heart that God has entrusted to me and my husband to love and guide and protect. I cannot afford to neglect that, because that heart can someday change the world and surely will bring glory to God. In the end, isn't that all that really, truly matters?

With that—with a single word and a single reminder to surrender—I felt a new sense of peace take hold in my parenting. I free to mother her as I like: To listen to her rather than to a stranger. To listen to God rather than to a man.

We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. Romans 15:1

Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."

Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.


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This past weekend, a bunch of women from our church threw us a baby shower and one of my favorite elements of it was that at the end, they took turns praying for me, my husband, our baby and the new journey ahead for us all, as well as writing me notes of encouragement, advice and prayers as I embark on motherhood.

As the dawn of motherhood is nearly at hand, there was one particular verse that a friend shared that has touched my heart deeply and that I am treasuring as I get ready for all the unknowns ahead:

"She did what she could...." Mark 14:8 (This is in the context of the women of Bethany anointing Jesus' head with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. Everyone else around the table rebuked her for her actions, but Jesus commended her effort. Because she did what she could.)

Even now, I must remember this encouragment that as long as I'm doing what I can to follow the Lord and seek him and (in the coming days or weeks) raise my child up for His glory and learn the self-sacrfice of motherhood, then Jesus sees that and let's it be enough.

He is kind and merciful to fill in the cracks for us, for me, for my child, so that where my enough falls short, he makes up the difference and commends it. He sees through the mistakes and the lacking and makes my earnest effort enough.

I believe that during those sleepless nights and trying tantrums, those five words will be a balm to my soul, providing the hope and reassurance I need to keep on going, doing what I can, and trusting God to do the rest.

Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."

Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.


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