Monday, May 02, 2011

Mama Monday

<span class=
violet and i
<span class=
Today's Mama Monday is the absolutely beautiful Megan of the absolutely beautiful blog Contented Sparrow. If you do not know about Megan's blog, then right after you'd better click on over because you are in for a treat. But a warning: you *will* get lost in her colorful, thoughtful, and inspiring documentation of her home life. And let's not even get started on her home and garden set on Flickr.. I could get caught up in there for days, ignoring my children and all that.;) Also check out her home school set. Happy, happy!!

Describe your family--We're a cozy, laid-back yet kooky family of five living and learning and growing together in Michigan by His grace alone. My best-friend, teacher husband and I have been married for 14 years and we're blessed to be the parents of Eli, 9, Oliver, almost 8, and Lucy 4-1/2. We're farmers at heart in suburbia, carving out a purposefully-slow, quiet life in the midst of the loud.
<span class=
glorious firstborn gaze
Greatest thing about being a mom—Oh, Andrea, I could never say just one thing. Squishy baby thighs with pinch able rolls, seeing what my husband must have been like as a child, one that can always make me laugh, their quick forgiveness, firstborn's spontaneous "I love you so much, Mommy", learning right alongside them, wet curls on her neck, dirty boy fingernails, him up a tree, serving them, worshiping together, glimpsing God's creative hand in their uniqueness, sleepy morning hugs, glee in their faces, introducing them to the wonder of Christ, on and endlessly on.

Hardest thing about being a mom— Sigh...that would have to be me. In short, sin and fear. My failings and flailings and painfully seeing those mirrored in my kids. Realizing how close to the surface selfishness and impatience are in my life. Fighting the fear that I'm not stewarding well the gifts that they are. Worrying I'm going to screw them up! Getting it through my thick skull that God loves them more than I do and that they are always in His hands. So, the hardest thing(s) also turn out to be gift because they keep me on my knees, desperately relying on God. Breathing His grace in and out.
<span class=
Favorite blogs/websites—

Around 4 years ago, naive about what a blog even was, I "stumbled" upon A Holy Experience and I was immediately enthralled with the words and life of this Spirit-led poet/woman. I've made no secret of my admiration and respect of Ann, whom I'm now beyond blessed to call friend. She mentors me in the ways of Christ-following. She's my if-I-only-have-five-minutes-online read. And, if not for Ann, I would never have been given the gifts of you, {Andrea}, and {Tonia} and {Aimee} and {Anna} and {Elise} and {Elizabeth} and {Susan}. Susan's words are ones I return to again and again whenever my homeschooling anchor has come loose and I need it battened down. Yes, there are many more beautiful women who write words that I enjoy reading but just too many to list here.

I will say that crafty inspiration comes from Ashley Ann, etsy, flickr, pinterest, One Pretty Thing, and too many more to list. Often my screen is opening solely to fill our home with worship music from Pandora. And if I start listing my go-to Bible teaching sites, we'll be in for a long, loongg list. I'll just mention Desiring God, Revive Our Hearts, Walk in the Word/Harvest Bible Chapel, Mars Hill (Seattle).....eeks, I must stop!!

Holy Experience (Ann)
Study in Brown (Tonia)
Living Learning and Loving Simply (Aimee)
Pleasant View Schoolhouse (Anna)
A Path Made Straight (Elise)
Real Learning: Elizabeth Foss
High Desert Home (Susan)
Ashley Ann Photography
Pinterest: Megan
One Pretty Thing
Desiring God
Revive our Hearts
James MacDonald
Mars Hill Church

How do you find balance in your life—

For me, taking to heart and putting into action the fact that God created me with needs that require filling is something I have to be proactive about. My default is doing. There's always something to be cleaned, folded, fed, taught, weeded, etc. But when I'm feeling depleted and am intentional about "filling my bucket" as my Lucy would say, there's a marked change in my attitude. Besides, of course, dedicated quiet time with God, reading, praying and listening, I'm completely refreshed by time out with my husband, also solitude, fellowship with friends, creative interests, fresh air, nature, exercise, counting His gifts with my camera. Intentionality in this area makes me a better Mama! "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~Matthew 11:28-30

I've always loved what Elizabeth Foss has written about balance in her children's lives...great advice for us, too!
As much as I am able, every day, I will ensure that my child will: * Live the Liturgy * Experience loveliness * Breathe deeply: Fresh air and exercise * Serve others * Listen to, contemplate, and exchange ideas. * Develop expressive skills. * Practice logical reasoning. Math. * Receive focused attention and affection

And, finally, I ADORE what Susan has to say about daily balance here.

<span class=
One word that describes you— Or two? Colorfully curious.
<span class=
I will always eat--cookie dough, always + forever
<span class=
Favorite color--Oh, it's ever changing. Right now, turquoise with citrus for the home. Charcoal and yellow for me.
Hobbies/interests---Being outside and soaking in His creation with the family, capturing bits of beauty with my camera, digging in the dirt, fleshing out head ideas with my hands which could involve a thread and a needle, or a paintbrush, or a hammer and nail, or pencil and paper, researching-learning-living a curious life.
<span class=
<span class=
I couldn't live without—Grace. Prayer. His living words, the Holy Spirit's whispers. My family. And, things I literally could live without but wouldn't want to....sunshine, blue skies, and fresh air!!! Flip-flops. Coffee. Worship music to put my praise to words. A camera. Chocolate. It would be truly hard to live without some way to connect with distant friends and family.
<span class=
What helps me through tough days---Remembering, Lamentations 3:22-23,
"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
What the Lord has been speaking to you about lately—So many different things. Hmmm, I guess the most prevalent thing would be how He's been pouring His love over me, whispering it in my ears. Using people's words to teach me things about His grace and acceptance that have never really and truly sunk in before. I need not strive! I'm not condemned! Yes, I fail but His love for me never does. We're ALL a mess but He's already done the clean-up work. "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 doesn't say that we have to jump through 10 hoops and THEN approach the Throne, then He'll accept me...NO, Christ was that hoop for us, that doorway! Ya-hoo!
<span class=
What do you like best about yourself—{cringe} Why is it that cringing is my natural reaction to that question....why so many of us women are hard-pressed to find an answer for it? I guess talents and gifts and leanings and personality traits are the best parts of me because they're just what God had planned for me! Creativity? From Him. Aptitudes and abilities? From Him. And I am thankful that by His grace, He's shown me the great value in living out 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Deuteronomy 6:6,7 (I could add verse upon verse upon verse) and a life of curiosity and a willingness to learn.

If I could encourage a young mother, I would say--
I am NO fount of wisdom but I guess it would be to cherish your children. Every moment. When they cuddle and have that baby smell. When they're nursing and drowsily gazing up at you. When they're screaming and needing you. When they're testing and gaining independence. Don't wish their babyhood away. Or any season or stage way for that matter. It's fleeting! Truly know that.
Also, one more tidbit for a first-time, exhausted mom...
Baby keeping you up all hours of the night? Look at it this way, think of all the time you get to share, grasp the privilege it is to nurture that baby's need and strengthen your bond, and, remember that those tired nights (and days) will be a foggy memory someday. I promise! I was utterly exhausted with my firstborn who didn't sleep through the night until almost a year. My blood would boil and I would cry right along with him in the wee hours. But by the time my third child arrived, I was so much more laid back and relaxed knowing how short babyhood really was, I actually looked forward to cuddling her in the night. Seriously. Aww, I can just feel her in my arms now...sniff.

One book you would recommend to read--(besides the Bible)
One, seriously, one? (I know, I know.)Ann Voskamp's 'One Thousand Gifts' would be my obvious answer but that doesn't count because you've all read that, right?
A book that's a friend to me is my dog-eared and falling apart copy of 'A Diary of Private Prayer' by John Baillie.
And, umm, I can't resist mentioning a few authors that, in particular, have influenced me in my role as wife and mom, OK? Great, thanks!
I've been blessed by Sally Clarkson, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Turansky and Miller, Elizabeth Elliot, and many others that I'm certainly forgetting!

Thank you Megan!!!!!


tonia said...

Thank you Megan, for sharing your gorgeous, kaleidoscope heart this morning. Your friendship is pure joy.

I love what you have to say about waking with's so true. Every single moment, every one, is something to enter mindfully and experience fully. They will grow right out of your arms so quickly and you won't get to love them that way ever again.

So, thank you for encouraging mommmas in the real things!

Love you, dear girl. Wishing you a turquoise and daffodil day.

Stacy said...

Loved this, Megan.
(and all the accompanying photos: so vivid and colorful.)

I loved what you said about grace and acceptance-- YES! and about babyhood, too... finally I came to that same realization: to stop fighting the whole sleep thing and just accept it: she wasn't going to sleep just then, she needed my arms and love and nurturing... and to see that time as precious.

Blessings to you, Megan, for sharing here. (And you, too, Andrea!)

Christine said...

Thank you Andrea for introducing us to Megan! Megan, thanks for sharing your heart and nuggets of truth. I look forward to reading and discovering more about you on your blog. :)

Aimee said...

what tonia said. all of it :) love your God-honoring, Jesus-loving heart...your passion for Him spurs me on to greater love and good deeds here in my home. Your love of color and antiques and slow living is always inspiring and makes me happy :) I can't wait to make myself a lovely cold drink this afternoon and head out to my porch rocker and read this all over again!!!

amy in peru said...

your words, pictures, and word pictures all make me indescribably happy :)

thank you.

amy outta peru {temporarily}