Friday, May 11, 2012

Stepping In

Step. It seems like such an odd word to describe a familial relationship.  Step-mother.  Step-daughter.  And then there's the whole Cinderella tale to give it a negative vibe.  The word brings a cold and removed feeling with it.  It is aggressive somehow, menacing, mean. 

But there is nothing cold, removed, menacing or mean about the woman who stepped into my life, stepped into that role of mother. 

There wasn't a clandestine night, with surprise consequences.  No, she went in, eyes wide open, to three children.  Three children who would later end up on her doorstep, bags in hand, broken, hurting teens in desperate need of mothering when she herself had hands full with three new babies and a husband at work on an ocean far away.  Now she was mother to six.  Six who desperately needed mothering.

I always knew that it was rough for her.  But with age comes understanding.  And with my own children came even greater understanding.  I understand why the one time she went through the effort to ready us all to leave the house together each week was to go to the house of God.  Why she clung close and desperately tight to Him.  How else can one mother?  How else can one mother six?

She stepped in.  She stepped in to countless messy hard places, broken hearts, marriage, birth, sickness.  She rejoiced with us, she cried with us, she broke with us, she loved us.  She stepped in, again and again.  She is mother now to seven.  Yet just two came from her womb.

She is a mother hen who has gathered her chicks from afar.  She mothered us.  She raised us.  She chose us.  

Step, from the Old English, steop-, with connotations of "loss," in combinations like steopcild "orphan," related to astiepan, bestiepan "to bereave, to deprive of parents or children," from Proto-Germanic, steupa- "bereft". *

I am not bereft.  I am not bereaved or deprived.  I am not, because I have a mother.  I have a mother, who stepped in... 

My mother hen, with 5 of her chicks and 2 grand-chicks.

*From the Online Etymology Dictionary

This post is part of...

1000 Moms Project

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gratitude Isn't Always Pretty

Mothers Day.  It's one of those days.  A day all polished up to gleam in the sunshine.  But what if your mother isn't polished?  What if she is full of grime? What if thinking of her brings pain and heaviness instead of thankful polished words fit for the prettiness of the day?

It hurts.  It hurts having a mother who is broken and dirty.  It hurts having a mother who hurts.

I have walked down dark roads.  Dark roads that she led me to.  Dark roads someone led her to.  Dark roads that showed me her pain. By God's grace alone, today I do not walk those same roads.  Yet still, my mother does.

Luke 4 

17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him (Jesus). 
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
     to set at liberty those who are oppressed

Deep in my heart I have a little bag.  It holds a handful of small gems.  Moments that I hold close.  They shine pretty in the sunlight.  A mother who turns music loud and we dance.  A mother who buys a new dress and we eat prawns on the water and she celebrates me, another year older.  A mother who cooks good food and teaches us to eat well.  A mother who can be so silly and fun and laughsThese are my treasures. 

Yet so often, that laughter turned, turned right round into sharp arrows that pierce a soul.  Wounds causing wounds.  How much did it hurt her to raise me?  How many scabs were ripped clean off, pain oozing from the deep as she labored over me.

She does not laugh now.  She sits, deep in pain, far away, alone.  She lashes out at anyone who comes near.  She curls around her pain.  It holds her captive.

I pray.  I pray God's good grace will reach her.  I pray God's good grace will set her free from her prison of pain.  I pray that she will laugh and dance again.  I know God's healing balm of grace.  I pray that she will know it too...

Ephesians 3

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 1I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!    


This post is part of...

1000 Moms Project

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Six Years

Every child is an artist. 
The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up. 
~ Pablo Picasso

Life happens right? And it's a grand scale that it happens on. It's scary. And hard. So hard. So hard that it can squeeze the life out of you for a while sometimes. 

Today, after six long years, I picked up my paintbrushes again. And the weird part is, it almost happened without my noticing that it had happened at all.

Almost six years ago I had my second baby. Right after that we moved across the state, from one "fixer-upper" into another "fixer-upper". Oh, and we didn't know a single soul in our new town. Shortly after we arrived I dropped into a very long, dark, and difficult battle with depression. I was rescued and released from that pit after about two years. Right after that, and by right I mean like within 2 months of starting to come up, our two year old was diagnosed with Leukemia. We spent 2-1/2 years fighting that beast. And now, it's been nearly a year since life went "back to normal". Needless to say, I am not the same woman I was six years ago.

I've thought about painting many times. I've been encouraged to do it repeatedly by my husband and a few others. I've even gone so far as to wonder if it was ever meant to happen again. Maybe my calling was elsewhere. Maybe I'd just "grown up" and my grown up life didn't include it. Maybe it wasn't really important.

At one time I defined part of my identity from being an artist. It was a way for me to show society that I had something to offer other than "just being a mom". Yuck. I hate typing that out. What a bunch of garbage that is. Shaping new humans for this world is perhaps the most important job there is. But what I was really exposing there, was a fear of man. Ouch. I worried more about what other people thought of me than of what God thought of me. Honestly, far too often I still do. By the grace of God I am overcoming it bit by bit. I believe God needed to show me that before he would let me use the gift he's given me.

This week I read an article titled 'The Holy Spirit and the Arts'. It's quite a thought provoking read if you have the time. It's been simmering in me all week. The biggest message it spoke to me was that God values art. God values artists. In fact, amazingly, the first person he ever sent the Holy Spirit to was an artist! Think about that for a moment... it wasn't a prophet or a priest or a king... it was an artist! That tells us how highly God values art.

I have devalued God's opinion of art. And on many levels I believe I have devalued the gifts God has given me as an artist. I have shelved that part of me as something I enjoyed, a purely selfish pursuit. I thought there were other ways that God was calling me to serve him that were more useful, practical. Ouch, that one stings a little. You see, I have a pattern of choosing the most "rational" choice over what I feel called to do. If I don't see a clear path, I go another way. Clearly I have not fully learned that lesson yet.

There are so many gifts that God gives each of us. There are so many things I enjoy doing and even excell at doing. The hard part is listening to his voice and following the way he is calling each of us to use our specific gifts. I still don't understand clearly how God is calling me to use this gift. But I have learned that he gave it to me, and I must use it. It's not my job to know how it will be used. But it is my responsibility to hone my skills, listen to his voice, and follow when he calls. 

So the brushes and paper are dusted off, the ever important metal straight edge has been found, and I even found my old sketch book buried under a pile of books. I don't know how it will fit into my crazy busy life. It seems impossible. I always thought I would have time to paint again when my kids went to school... then God called me to homeschool them! But I did manage to set up a little spot in a quiet corner of the house and hide myself away alone for a few hours today to work. And so, it is a new beginning...