Monday, August 23, 2010

Mama Monday

Today's Mama Monday is a well known mother in the blogosphere.
Surely, you must have read her at some point.
I have read her posts many-a-time, tears streaming down my face.
She writes words of beauty that seem to simply flow from her heart to her fingers,and onto her blog:

She knows mama's hearts.




Ladies, I am honored to bring you Ann Voskamp:

Greatest thing about being a mom—
Love.

What would have ever taught me love like laying a vulnerable, curled human being into my arms and saying, "Here. Tend my lambs." I had known romantic love. But until that moment, I had never known primal, startling electrifying love. A love that would strip back everything, lay me bare and ashamed before myself and God, a love that would show me how little I knew about selfless, realest love.

Joy and pain are different arteries of but the same heart pumping love through our lives and these children have parented me into truest love. The kind that holds her tongue and dies to self and laughs out loud and rocks and rocks and rocks and listens to crazy boy dreams while washing the dishes and picks up the strewn shoes without saying a word and makes another meal and says yes to the glorious mess and holds on tight while letting go. Without a doubt, the six greatest days of my life were the days my skin gave way to the new skin of these half dozen.

The greatest of these really is love and they show me how everyday.

Hardest thing about being a mom—

That I am the mom. That I fail. That I'm in this skin with all of this sin and I can't snap my fingers and become the mom I want to be. The hardest thing about being a mom is that I am me and I get it wrong and the days I holler about having to pick up the strewn shoes and I do the day miserable and I am selfish and what I know in my head, may still leave my heart woefully impotent. I'm discovering that all my failures are a failure to love and that wounds these six that I love wildly.

Sometimes forgiving yourself is the hardest thing of all.

Isn't grace always the most beautiful thing? I never stop clinging to it. And I never get over it.

Favorite blogs/websites—

studyinbrown.com
writersalmanac.com
desiringgod.org


How do you find balance in your life—

Ah... can this be found? Or do we live in this teetering, tottering, perpetual state of seeking balance?
This is me --- seeking balance.

Intentionally, daily, actively fixing my eyes on Jesus, fixes everything. I reorient to what is eternal (not the mud in the mudroom) and I see what really matters (the priorities of things unseen.)

Living a life of prayer -- something I am very much still learning --- balances this fleeting life with all that is real reality and therein is balance. Because when we let go of our work to stop and pray, to hold on to God, we begin to see that we are but a vapor, our work not so important, and we die to the idol of self. And in the stopping to pray the hours, we exalt Him to His rightful place and give Him glory --- and everything again finds its rightful place.

I think this seeking of balance is why God asks us to pray without ceasing.

In that, there is equilibrium.

One word that describes you—

Seeker.

I am an insatiable seeker. Seeking for answers, seeking the right questions to find the right answers. Seeking for beauty and joy and more of Jesus. Seeking at why I stumble and why I fall and how to do it different tomorrow. Seeking the child wonder and the holy moment.


Favorite color--
Black.

It's simple. It goes with everything. It's an understated, quiet color. It reminds me of the simplicity of the Mennonites and Amish in our farming community here and it reflects my appreciation for all things Shaker.

It's the perfect backdrop for quilts of color, bouquets of flowers, kid's paintings... and the vibrancy of life, the shades of God.

And muted shades of green. Apparently God made the earth these hues of green because it is most calmest to the human eye. So the walls of our home are all these shades of very muted, quiet, earthy greens.

In terms of clothes -- yes, black: it simply makes things very simple. And that's me: plain Ann without the "e."

Hobbies/interests---

I guess I am a reader and I write and I snap a shutter. These are my hobbies.
But I am working at cultivating this abiding interest in laughing, letting go, laying back and enjoying. I'd like that to be what my children would say are my hobbies. I must keep remembering this.

I couldn't live without—

Keeping Company with Jesus.

The Farmer.

Gravel Roads and cornfields. (I tried living without them -- two years of university in metropolitan Toronto. Agoraphobia and anxiety just about killed me. Yep -- I need country and big open spaces.)

A camera and a pen. It's a real handicap -- I need a lens and ink to have seeing eyes, to discover what I think and feel, to understand the warp and bend of my life and the Hands holding it all.

And I am learning to live without babies. And this is hard. The very hardest.


What helps me through tough days---


I literally could not live without prayer. Without a means of communicating with Jesus... I would not be.

I have tough days. That are only tough days because my flesh is weak. I get overwhelmed and discouraged. I grow anxious and negative. I have to thrash for joy, wrestle God down and heave it out: "I won't let go until I can see how You've blessed me."

And talking aloud to Jesus, praying on the hour, retreating to a prayer bench or a peace retreat --- He is life to me in the very realest, most literal, of ways.

I need Jesus. Not only for eternal life. But, in the most literal sense, for this life. He resurrects me every day.


What the Lord has been speaking to you about lately—

He's been whispering it gently, to meditate on Him, and I am trying to slow and listen:

"Daughter... I manifest myself to you and I am here with you, the present, hidden God and if you pray for blessed eyes, you can see Me in this moment. Think on Me."

God has been talking to me about seeing Him in all things and meditating on Him in all the moments.

I can't stop thinking about this: "In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name." (Mal. 3:16)

Do always think about His name? Meditate upon Him, remember Him? God's writing a book of those who always think about Him --- and that is the only book writing that matters. My mind's thinking of something always, the things it loves --- am I thinking on Jesus?


What do you like best about yourself—

Ah. This. Ask me what I don't like about myself and let me wax on!

What I like best?

Perhaps... well, I don't know that I like it best because it too can be detrimental, but as a farmer's daughter, I was raised to work hard and this I can do. And do. Sometimes you need take your most difficult quality and make it into your strength, yes?


One book you would recommend to read--(besides the Bible)

John Bailie's Diary of Private Prayer

(Link: A Diary of Private Prayer)

If I could encourage a mother, I would say--

Pluck Feathers for Your Nest.

Just Guide Gently.

And Just for Today:
Live The Mother's 10 Point Manifesto for Joy

Thank you Ann! What a gift your words are today and every day to me personally and to all your readers.
Thank you for sharing the deep places of your heart with us.

9 comments:

Stacy said...

*happy sigh*

I just love Ann. :)

Ann~
Thank you for your words that minister to me so often. I so appreciate your transparency and how often you point to the Father.

(((love to you)))

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Interestingly enough, you (and Ann) were the inpiration for my post today, lol, with your "goodbye to summer" pics.

I enjoy reading her so much. She has a grace that is unmatched. God has gifted her ability to pen what most of us can only groan inwardly...

Natalie said...

Andrea,
You know how I love Ann's blog and how I turn up the beautiful music and read her words with tears streaming down my face, too :)

Ann,
Thank you for your blog. Your words so often reach our from the screen to touch my heart. Knowing that a woman who so loves Jesus struggles with some of the same weakness as little old me, inspires me to keep walking and seeking Him. Thank you for your sharing your gift- and for your honesty and willingness to be real and vulnerable with us!

Kristen @ Moms Sharpening Moms said...

Sweet Ann, you always make this Mama's heart beat strongly and purposefully. What a tool you are for Him. Thank you.

And Andrea...so wonderful to meet you!

deb said...

Andrea...it has been so long since I have been here.
Blessed to have this nudge to return.

and to share Ann with us...
that is a priceless gift. Thank you.

Ann ~ you know I love you... I am a better everything because of you. Thank yo so much for a little more bio , a little more personal.

emma said...

Beautiful words, Ann. Always a breath of fresh air and a reminder to just simply go back to Jesus. Thank you.

Kat @ Inspired To Action said...

Wow. Ann even does INTERVIEWS poetically. Thanks so much for sharing this, Andrea!

Laura said...

Such wisdom you share here, Ann. I love seeing this tiny glimpse of your heart. Thank you, sister-friend--from one mama to another.

Debbie said...

I just recently "found" Ann's blog and have enjoyed it, tears streaming down my face at times also. Andrea, thanks for your encouraging words to Moms also. I am a mom of 5, and I sure do appreciate the words of wisdom and encouragement.