Monday, April 05, 2010

Mama Monday

I am so excited to bring to you a special and dear friend as Mama Monday today. Elise is the amazing writer of the blog A Path Made Straight
Surely, you must have read her....
A precious soul..
A beautiful inspiration to mamas..
I even had the privilege of meeting her! (here.)
Ladies, I bring you:
What is the greatest thing about being a mom? Oh, my. I am hard pressed to think of the GREATEST thing... but one of the aspects of motherhood I really appreciate is the accountability! It is completely one-sided, because my children don't (so far!) point out my errors (so is that accountability, then?)... but because of fruit I see in my children, I am daily convicted and motivated to build my own character, to tackle problem areas, to be on my face before God because I am a living, breathing example to them. It refines me wonderfully at the same time, so yes, it is a great thing.

(A close second would be the super vocabulary- have you ever noticed how many times a day you have to define words for your children? In terms they will understand? What a wonderful exercise for the mind of a mama!)

What is the hardest thing about being a mom? It probably goes hand-in-hand with the first part of my last answer: being the thermostat of the household. Having this handful of beautiful little eyes watching my behavior, mimicking it whether they try to or not. Knowing this is overwhelming, difficult, impossible to master... again, that's when I find myself flat on my face before God. Grace.

What are your favorite blogs/websites? My favorites are those which can be read within a couple of minutes; beautiful, simple words that are food for thought for my day, that don't make me feel pressured to leave a comment, where I don't feel burdened by someone else's idea of perfection...
So I'll share just a few of my almost-daily reads (although there are many others I try to visit as often as I can (Flourishing Mother ohsoverymuch included!):

A Holy Experience (one of my very first friends in the blog world five years ago- and she becomes more beautiful every single day. Inside and out. So many of our family traditions are inspired by her words...)

Pilgrim's Inn (Sarah Clarkson, a poet, a wordsmith; thoughts pour from her fingertips so effortlessly, and I am bolstered, encouraged every time I visit. Always walk away wondering, Now, why didn't I think of that?)

Elisabeth Elliot's Daily Devotional (Oh, what a way to start my every day!)

How do you find balance in your life? Do you mean, how do I try to find balance in my life? :) Well, I can't remember where I read this (and if anyone knows, do remind me!), but it had to do with a teeter totter, and how it is never really still when both sides are in the air; balance is a continuous motion, achieved (or attempted) by balancing both ends of the seesaw equally. I like to think of my days in this way; striving to keep unnecessary "weight" off of my plate- thinking, Am I struggling too hard to keep everything in the air? Am I about to come crashing to the ground because I'm cramming and holding too much on my lap? The mental image of mops and emails and homemade bread and organic garden plants flying off of the falling teeter totter makes me giggle, and the lightness I feel when I step back and reassess my "list" after the burden has been lifted helps me to move forward... or back up into the air. It's a constant, daily focus, this trying to find and keep balance in our lives, yes? But it is such a comfort to look across the seesaw and into His eyes, remembering He's balancing the other end.

What is one word that describes you? I really could not think of a good word- wondering, a personality quirk? A spiritual one? One describing my looks? So I asked my husband! :) He said that I'm Intentional. He said that in everything I do, whether it is as a wife, or in my relationship with the Lord, in my mothering, homemaking, relating, cooking... I am intentional. I love that!

(Somehow, I don't think he was trying to capture my intentionality in this picture he snapped of me on his cell phone- we were at our favorite date location- Barnes and Noble! He was sneaky and took four different pictures in five minutes- my husband also thinks I'm beautiful. And I love that, too!)

Favorite color? Pink. :)

What are your hobbies/interests? Laughing. Writing. Hiking the beautiful, mountainous trails of Utah with my family. Cooking. Creating atmosphere. (Candles and cookie-laden tea trays during schoolwork. Lanterns and music during dinner. And always, always, piles of laundry and dirty dishes for an equalizer. I'm a completely and utterly human mama. :)

What couldn't you live without? After Jesus, of course? Then my husband. Yes. Well, books! I really couldn't. Whether I'm racing Corban to the encyclopedias to look up a beaver lodge and see what evidence there is to prove a thoughtful and creative God, or stepping over little ones to get to my cookbook cupboard for a new recipe for our monthly menu, or collapsing into bed and reaching for some end-of-the-day inspiration, I need books. I suppose I could live without them, but what would the alternative be? The Internet? Nothing? Egads. No, thank you. (The older and mustier the book, the better, in my opinion. Oh, gladly.)

What helps you through tough days? Three things:

First of all, stepping away. My bedroom is the best place for me. Door shut for even just a moment, knees to the bedside (an archaic gesture, perhaps, but it physically weakens my resolve to "stand on my own two feet"), and a quiet, sometimes tearful, prayer for help. Even if it's just a few moments - sixty seconds - it is enough. While I'm in there, I might toss an item or two off of my seesaw.

Second, laughter. Whether astonished, exasperated, or truly happy, laughter captures my thoughts and refocuses them. It's a physical release, a distraction from the worry, a reminder of what is truly important. So I try to actively look for sources of laughter. Fortunately, in my case, I do not have to look far; I have four hilarious, exuberant children, and a husband who is milk-coming-out-your-nose funny! (And I'm pretty klutzy. So, (unless it is a certain time of the month) I can laugh uproariously at myself, too. Picture my foot getting stuck in a Tupperware container while I'm making dinner!)

Yes, my girl likes to do this WHILE I'm cooking! See? Just laugh!

And third, music.

Music from the stereo. I keep a file on the stereo that holds Coulter and Hymns, and the action of hitting "play" never fails to breathe peace.

Music from a son, called to practice his piano. (The practice songs are still simple and short; however music of any kind, but especially from the fingertips of my little men, ministers to my heart.)

Music from my lips, or my children's. Even if it's saying "Yes" to singing a Psalm for a little lady who is heading to the basement for the colored pencils and is frightened of the dark. Sung loudly "so I can hear, Mama!", I am hard-pressed to scowl and sigh my way through this comforting act.

When I am afraid I will trust in You,
I will trust in You,
I will trust in You.
When I am afraid I will trust in You;
in God whose word I praise.

What has the Lord been speaking to you lately? Discerning Distraction. I am learning that what may seem like a distraction is just a wrench He's thrown down to cause me to turn and go His way... I've become quite adept at picking up the wrench and holding it to the sky- 'Scuse me, did You drop this? It's in my way! And He has kindly thrown it back down and gently whispered, I want it there. Turn. Not everything is just a "distraction"... I'm trying to be more discerning in those moments, not getting aggravated, but looking closer at where I was heading. Is it my path, or His?

What do you like best about yourself? A listening ear comes immediately to mind. Many of my relationships have been forged in the fires of confession, when one needs to talk, spill, agonize... and I have found that simply listening is such an encouragement. I am thankful for the kind of personality that is rather timid, so never wanting to say the wrong thing, I listen long before I speak.

If you could encourage a young mother, what would you say? This is the most important job in the world! But it is also the hardest. So cry, question, worry, wonder... but let it all lead you to the throne of grace. He will gladly join you in this yoke and shoulder the bulk of the burden Himself. Never, ever try to carry it alone! (I am no longer a "young" mother, but I most assuredly still need to hear these words. Daily.)

What is one book you would recommend to read (besides the Bible)? One? One? Well. Let Me Be a Woman, by Elisabeth Elliot. I return to this one again and again and again. Short and so very sweet. Motivating. Convicting. It's a classic that should be in the hands of every woman.

Thank you Elise!! I will treasure these words, as I am sure will many others!! Don't forget to stop by Elise's beautiful place and say "hello"!


The Homemaker said...

I've known Elise since she was a pre-teen! It's so fun to read the review and see who she is in the Lord now as well... it is so beautiful!
She is inspirational! Thanks for sharing!

Stacey said...

Oh Elise. I have been blessed to be blogging friends with her since we both began blogging about 5 years ago. She is a delight and an inspiration to me.

Thank you for sharing - I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview.

tonia said...

elise, your place is one of my favorites on the internet. absolutely beautiful, honest, intentional writing. i've never come away from your place without being blessed and encouraged. you are precious!

(btw, give those kids a couple more years and they will point out your errors! there's nothing more humbling than existing in the same space with teenagers! *smile*)

Stacy said...

What a delightful interview, Andrea... with beautiful Elise!

Elise... how fun to get a peek into your thoughts through this Mama Monday post. YAY!

Love to both of you...

Sandi said...

So enjoy Elise's place.

So nice to get to know her just a little bit more

Linda said...

This has been a bright spot in my day Andrea. I have loved reading Elise's blog for some time now. You asked all the best questions, and it was a joy to read her wise, gentle answers.
Thank you so much!

Wendy said...

Love her! Thanks for sharing!