“I got you Mama!” Elle often says when I pick her up.
She says it all the time, and as usual she said “I got you” every time I picked her up last night. It was somewhat cool, so I decided it would be nice to get out with Elle and try to clear my head. I’ve been listening to all the podcasts from Christy Nockles when I have spare moments, and while we walked the episode featuring Ellie Holcomb played as we enjoyed some fresh air. We looked for birdies as Ellie Holcomb’s melodic yet scratchy voice weaved a narrative as we stretched our legs. I listened with a hungry heart as she told a story of a pivotal moment in her life with Jesus.
She was a new mom, her daughter just three months old, as they set off on another tour. God was calling her to write. Her response: “It’s not a good time God.” Overwhelmed and in a total mess, she told God that she was not ok and this was stupid. I resonated with the season she described in my bones. What she said next was exactly what I needed to hear. “Yes, I’ve called you to be Emmylou’s mama, but she is mine. And I’m going to take really good care of her.” He told her as she cried. “And yes, I’ve given you these calls but FIRST you are my daughter. And you are mine. And I’m going to take really good care of you.”
It was a blast of wind in my tired sails. Affirmation, like sudden rainstorm falling on ground plagued by drought. Love, like a door bursting open, illuminating a dim room.
We made the final steps up to our back gate and I pulled Elle up from the stroller. My heart still racing, but not from physical exertion.
“I got you Mama!” she said as she hugged my tight on the way up to the door.
In reality, I have got her – not the other way around. I’m the one holding her up, arms full with Beary, paci, usually groceries or a guitar and both our bags of necessities. I’ve got it all and she’s not going anywhere. And yet, she hugs me tight and says “I got you” with no fear of falling. I hold her so often, she doesn’t really know any different. I always “got her.” This time was no different, until I reached the last step…
And just like that, another wave of grace hit my soul’s shore: “I got you daughter. You’re mine. I’m going to take really good care of you.”
His voice was so gentle and clear. And just like that my sweet girl’s funny little phrase took on a whole new meaning. He has me. I’m not going anywhere. In that moment I just needed the reminder of His overwhelming love, and the fact that I’m His…and not only His, but His precious daughter. His love holds me up. It’s so constant that I often forget He’s even holding me. In my naivety I think I’m the one holding onto Him. I’m clinging on like my life depends on it. But there is no need for anxiety. I got you. I’m not going to fall. He has me. He carries me. He holds me up in His love. It’s a truth scattered all over scripture.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been borne by Me from before your birth, carried from the womb; Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will carry you. I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:3-4)
“And in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.'” (Deuteronomy 1:31)
“In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9)
“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
“Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd, and carry them forever.” (Psalm 28:9)
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” (Psalm 91:1-16)
He’s saying: I got you. Trust me. You’re mine. And I’m going to take really good care of you – no matter what happens I am with you.
So, You’ve got me Lord. And I got you. You carry me. You carry Elle. We are both in your arms, under Your care and my soul can rest against Your strong, loving heart – no matter what happens.
I got you.
Beautiful shot by Kaylie B. Poplin
“I see women believing and repeating the lie that motherhood is the highest calling for all women. Did you know that’s nowhere in the Bible? The only reference to a chief call on anyone’s life is found in Matthew 6:33: Seek first the Father’s kingdom and His righteousness. We watch as that lie discourages those who are unable to be mothers and immobilizes those who love their children and still feel called to serve in other contexts.” – Wild & Free
I read these words from the book, Wild & Free a few months ago and it really confirmed in my heart what I have been feeling when I hear people say “Motherhood is God’s greatest calling.” I understand where they are coming from, truly. I do believe it is an incredible gift and great responsibility that should be taken seriously and given great care, purpose and passion. What an honor to raise little ones for Jesus! What a blessing to help shape little lives to pursue their God-given callings! Still, I have been wrestling with the passages from the sermon on the mount, and other “hard teachings” of Jesus and I cannot make peace with the phrase. Shockingly, even in Provers 31 doesn’t infer anything remotely similar. It spends most of the chapter talking about the woman’s character, endeavors, and the many other things she does and not about her motherhood. The only time it mentions children is in verse 28, “her children rise up and call her blessed.” The 3 mentions of her household are as follows: “she provides food for her household…she is not afraid of snow for her household…she looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” And this is the greatest praise of a godly woman! The fact that she raised children is a fleeting detail at the end of the chapter. Of course, the importance of the role is not to be downplayed at all. Certainly, I know it is a huge undertaking, something the requires immense energy, love and patience. However, I can’t get away from the feeling that maybe, just maybe we have idolized motherhood in the church and put it on a pedestal where it doesn’t quite belong.
Titus 2:3-4 talks about what older women should teach the young: “(Older women) are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Obviously, the responsibilities we have to our homes is important. If we don’t take these things seriously, we are showing that we don’t take God’s word seriously. If we have the privilege to have children (because scripture teaches they are blessings), then how we raise them is vastly important. We are furthering the Kingdom by being a witness with how we love and serve our families. But what Jesus calls EVERY disciple to do doesn’t stop here.
Jesus says in Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” He desires to be above all other loves. When He bids us to Him, I cannot say “but Jesus, you called me to be a mother!” I cannot respond with, “that doesn’t apply to me because I’m raising babies.” His cross comes first. And you know what? The cross isn’t pretty and what He has called us to bear may not be kid friendly! It may take me outside of my home into someplace less than safe. The call may require me to have someone other than myself see to Elle’s needs because I am ministering to others more needy. It may even require me to spend less time with her and more time with others. It may invade our space, our lives, our comfort and “what is best” for the kids. What if the Jesus asks us to have a homeless person live with us? What if I’m supposed to stop and witness when it’s nap time and I really need to go home? What if the Cross means having people in our home for Bible study on one of our two family nights? Maybe the call of Christ disrupts the ideal of motherhood?
Christ revealed the purpose for each and every individual who will follow Him and bear His cross at the end of Matthew: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:18-20) There is no motherhood clause. There is no distinction between man and woman. The call is to go and make disciples. I simply cannot see that when Jesus said to go and make disciples, that my main call is to disciple my children – or even to disciple them until their grown, and then I’m free to disciple others. I’m no scholar, but I think the point is to make as many disciples as you can. There is no, “first your children, then others” I can find in what Jesus requires of His followers. From what I read, it is Him above all else. Period. No exceptions. No excuses. Even in Proverbs 31, it says that “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” She obviously was not just concerned with the needs of her family.
In all honesty, I have used my sweet girl as an excuse in not following the call of Christ to the utmost. My eyes have been so opened to all the ways I am NOT obeying the commands of Christ. I have used the excuse of “doing what is best” for her because making disciples feels uncomfortable for me. Because in reality, “motherhood is God’s greatest calling” is not in scripture. His call is the greatest calling. Motherhood falls under the Lordship of Christ, just as everything else in our lives does. Serving our families and creating a Christ-centered home is an opportunity to serve Jesus, not the all in all of a woman. Jesus says not to simply love those who love you (although the love of my toddler is debatable sometimes!) but to love those who hate you! His call expects that you will be persecuted for truly following Him! He says to give to everyone who begs of you. He requires that anyone who will follow Him takes up his own cross and follows Him, without looking back. That certainly doesn’t sound like the idolized version of motherhood I grew up with, but instead much, much more. It sounds incredibly hard, on top of motherhood being hard enough as it is! But this is the call of Christ, the highest calling.
My utmost desire is not just to be a godly mama, it is to be a Christlike Disciple of Jesus – whatever that entails. In thinking that motherhood is my highest calling, I run the danger of putting Elle on a pedestal and creating a world where I live and breathe for my performance as a mother for this wonderful gift. She is certainly a gift! Motherhood is truly a blessing. But it is not the utmost call of my life. Seeking Jesus and HIS Kingdom is. I have seen the over-emphasis on motherhood become such an ever so subtle lie that it’s ok to be consumed with what is going on in my home and not so much about the world around me. What if the Cross calls me to put my family second in order to bring someone else to Jesus? Is that not vastly important as well? If I am obedient to follow the call of Christ I WILL be investing in my home because my priorities will be right, and my children will grow up understanding that following Jesus is something that requires ALL. I desperately want my girl to know that following Christ is the most beautiful path for her life too, not just to be a mom, or anything else the worlds deems important, but Jesus Christ alone and the way of His Cross. When I stand before my Savior in Heaven I don’t want the summation of my life’s work for Kingdom to be within the walls of my own home, even the church. I pray it starts there, but extends far beyond those walls to reach the unreached, the ones no one else will care for, the hurt, lonely, poor and needy – because that is what Jesus did.
No, I really don’t think motherhood is God’s highest calling. I believe it’s just a part of the call He has for every mother who will take up her cross and follow Him…
This girl…I tell ya, she is the best thing. This stage she is in has been so fun. I guess this is an Elle update since I haven’t done one in a while!
We have made it out of a trying stage that lasted a few months…it hit right about the time my sister was getting married in March. (Yeah, perfect timing there kiddo!) She grew up overnight in February, jumped out of her crib, started understanding/ talking a lot more, wanting to ONLY feed herself, etc…We did it all, including potty training. I knew it was early to start when we did early April, but honestly I was afraid that if I didn’t it would be so hard later. You know, strong willed child and all. She’s headstrong, and I love it. Still, that doesn’t mean certain things are easy for her to learn. So we went for it and I felt like I lost my sanity a few times (ok, maybe a million!) but after a month she stopped having many accidents at all and I can say we are officially trained…except most #2…that is a different beast. It was a few months of lots of choices for Elle. Example: You can get a spanking (sad voice) or you can obey Mama (excited, happy voice)! She was getting so big and testing all her limits. But we tried to stay consistent and we did make it through…even if both of us were barely hanging on by the end of the day. The new big girl bed was a success, but getting her to actually stay in it…that is a whole different story. Gone were the blissful days of 2 hour naps 2x per day! (Ah! The glory days!) Now it is always a struggle, but the Spring was especially bad as we transitioned from 2 naps to 1. It wasn’t pretty. So much learning for such a little miss! Of course all of this happened in my busiest season, but it taught me a lot. I was constantly exhausted, but I learned how to lean on Christ’s strength in a way I never had before. It was sweet, and trying.
Elle-isms from the Spring:
- “I see ____ ” whatever was exciting at the moment, i.e. ball, room, bed, Beary, etc.
- “Pretty!” about just about everything
- “Uh oh!” and purposely drop something
- Counting: “one, two, nine!”
- “Night night” for milk
- “No, no, no, no, no!” at the top of her lungs
- “Noooooonaaaaaaa!!!!” when she’s looking for our dog Luna
- Chanting “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” when we pull up to church
- “Go fast mama!” in the car…not sure where that came from! ha!
Favorite Things/ Memories:
- Chalk everything
- Running everywhere…all the time…and never wants me to grab her.
- Coloring in her books…and on my furniture, the hardwoods were a big favorite
- Looking for the birdies every morning…”I see birdies!”
- Climbing on everything and saying “SOOOOO BIIIIIG!”
- Playing the harmonica all the time and booty dancing
- Starting to play Hide-n-Seek, covering her face in plain sight
- Throwing a fit because she can’t have ALL the balloons at Publix…every. single. time…
- Learning how to buckle herself in her car seat
- Flower walks
- Singing on stage during band practice
- Stealing my smoothies
- Little Einsteins and Winnie the Pooh…always and forever.
This Summer…oh this Summer! I have my sweet Elle back! Now that we crossed the potty training chasm and got past a lot of the sassiness, I end most days with sanity intact. Maybe it’s something about OFFICIAL twin big girl bed that magically transformed her. She wakes up super early now (cue alarm at 6am) but overall she is a much happier little lady. Toddlers and their emotions, right? I think she had an almost 2 year old crisis. I LOVE THIS STAGE! She understands so much and loves learning. We explore a bit more every day. She spouts off new sentences and surprises me all the time with things she says. We’re still VERY VERY busy with her, but she’s such a fun little person. We still have our limp noodle on the floor tantrums, but she gets over them much more quickly these days. We color lots of circles, make pictures of Daddy, race, make diner together, sing lots of songs, and generally have fun in our days together. She LOVES for Jonathan to sing The Itty Bittsy Spider and tickle her. We may have to put her back in bed 1000000 trillion times at night because she has to lay on the floor behind her door, looking out, incase she misses something…but we love our adventurous, affectionate, curious and vivacious little Eleanora Rose. She lights up our days.
Elle-isms from the Summer:
- “I hiding mama!” and “I go Mama” (Where’d I go mama?)
- “How ’bout…..NO!” this one has to be the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard! Ha!
- “Beary (super high pitch excited voice) LOOK! My crown!!!” Her reaction when I made her a pipe cleaner crown! Ha!
- “Moon…ARE YOU?” (said in her little sing-song voice) she loves the moon and looks for it every night
- “No, not yet” when I tell her to do something
- “Oh no! Beary (or whatever she wants)!” said when she wants something and doesn’t have it
- “Nope!” and “Yeah, I did!”
- “How ’bout that house? No, not that. How ’bout THAT house? No, not that one.” when we play our game of looking for our house.
- Counting from 1-10! (I’m so proud! Ha!)
- “Spin! Dance! One, two, SPIN!!!” kiddo has moves!
- “How ’bout some-fing BLUE?” when we are playing eye spy
- “Mama, play show!” when she wants to watch Pooh or Little Einsteins
- “I sleepy mama” or “Beary sleepy” “Mama sleepy” – lol at that one!
- Trying to “sing” along with songs…it’s the cutest!
- “Yay bath!!!” or “Yay pool!!!” we love water
- “Mama….poop…oh no!” this one is obviously my favorite…
- “Ready, set, GO!” and then runs away
- “Play house mama”
- “CHESES PLEASE!” said while pulling on the fridge, crying…
- “Excited!!” when anything excites her…even undies
- “I tee-tee big potty!” peeing on the big potty
- “See mama, I big!” cue tears on this one!
- “See mama, cute undies, RED undies!” all her undies are cute…and she loves to pick them out
- “Color CIRCLE! Color DADDY! Color GREEN!” or whatever she’s coloring
- “I read…Pooh, Tiger, Piggy, Owl…etc…” when she “reads” her books
- “I obey mama, ohtay.”
- LAST but NOT least, “I love you Mama, Daddy!”
Favorite Things/ Memories:
- The park, swinging, sliding by herself…doing all the things by herself
- She refuses to eat a lot more now, so we tell her “Ok Elle, you need to eat your chicken and then you can have broccoli!” Cue her shoving fistfuls of chicken in her face…haha!
- “Bouncing” on everything…oops!
- She loves taking care of her friends…putting them to bed when they’re sleeping, giving them breakfast, reading them books, etc…it’s adorable!
- She likes to pick out her shoes…and goes for the same pair every time, at least I like them! She can even put them on all by herself! We’re also opinionated about bows…
- She likes to help me pick out my clothes too, and gets offended when I don’t comply with her suggestions! Ha!
- Bubbles are still huge, so is our new kite!
- She stil loves picking every flower she sees
- Still steals my jewelry and exclaims, “Oh pretty!” when I find her and she knows she’s in trouble
- She pretends a lot more now and comes up to me with a tea cup or whatever she has “made” for me to eat…”Mmm! yum yum Mama!”
- She likes to greet our cars and house…in Charleston we saw a Ford F150 like Jonathan’s and she exclaimed, “Look, Daddy car here! Hi Daddy car!” and whenever we leave my SUV she says, “Bye Mama car! Hi house!”
- She loves to boss Luna around, “Luna, ‘mere. Luna, sit! Luna, sleep! Luna eat!” and the list goes on…
- Every morning she wakes up early and comes in our room or the living room where I am, groggy-eyed, carrying paci, Beary, her blanket and another friend or two and says “Hi Mama!” in the most cheerful voice. It’s hard to be upset about how early it is when she does that.
- “Mama, hug! Mama, kiss!” she loves hugging and it’s my favorite.
- Sometimes I find her in her basket of toys when she’s supposed to be napping. She usually exclaims, “Oh no!” like it just happened by accident or something…ha!
With Elle being such a rambunctious almost-2-year old, I decided to make sure we get plenty of fun Summer activities in this year. This time last Summer, she was just learning to walk so we mostly stuck to the park and our own yard. This year…wow, how things change! I’m running out of things to occupy her busy little self! I remember Summers being the best thing in the world growing up, and I want to have a blast this Summer with my little lady! I’d love to know what is on your Summer list so I can add some more adventures!
- Make new flavors of homemade popsicles every week – so far Chick-fil-A lemonade with strawberries is our fave.
Visit the Landmark Park playground
- Pick flowers everyday…this is kind of already a tradition anyway!
Make a sandbox
- Play in the kiddie pool as much as possible
- Start a garden
- Go to the library once a week
- Make a big blanket fort in the yard
- Learn shapes with chalk on the driveway
- Play in the sprinkler
- Have a “sleepover” in the living room in her tent
- Build/ decorate a cardboard box car
- Fix my bike and go on bike rides!
- Go to the Zoo
- Learn to fly a kite
- Go to a kiddie move matinee
- Find and catch some fireflies
- Make crowns out of pipe cleaners
- Play at Shipwreck Island water park
- Ride the carousel at the mall
- Make bead necklaces
It’s going to be a grand Summer!
There are really too many photos to post of our life lately. So here’s them all in one go! Life has changed so much since Christmas. Eleanora is such an independent little lady these days. We started potty training this week (she’s doing much better than I anticipated!) and talking up a storm these days. We count, one…two…nine…and talk about colors all the time. “HIIII BLLUUUUEEE ROOOOOM!” is a recent favorite. We pick flowers every day, play play-dough and blow bubbles all the live-long day. She’s either the sweetest thing in the world or really, well, not sweet. She loves shouting “NO” at the top of her lungs as a response to everything. (We’re working on it.) The fact that she lets me braid her beautiful curly locks almost makes up for all the harder times. Ha! Every morning, she toddles into our room super early and says “hi mama!” and it’s the sweetest thing ever. When I check on her before bed I often find her lying in the middle of her floor surrounded by her toys, having fallen asleep in mid-play – when all seemed quiet, because apparently she just can’t miss out on any fun. Ha! When she wakes up, her first response is often to put her hand on her head and say “bow?” So girly. I know I’m to blame for that, but I kind of don’t mind! She’s started “singing” along to songs. And overall loves to be large and in charge. She’ll “pull” us up from whatever we are doing to lead us around the house and point to things. We make friends everywhere we go. Vivacious. Sassy. Vocal. Friendly. Enthusiastic. Explorative. Passionate. I love seeing these things develop. She’s QUITE the handful these days, but I love that she’s so passionate about everything. It’s a battle being consistent with behavior (you know, like not hitting me in the face or doing the exact opposite of what mama says) but I’m so thankful for the privilege of being the one who helps mold her into her own little person. She’s a precious gift. Every night I breathe a deep, deep sigh of relief when I put her to bed, because I am that exhausted, but I miss her right after I shut her door. That seems to be motherhood. It could be the worst day full of tantrums and fussiness, but when the days is done I wouldn’t trade a single second.
Doing the working-traveling-writing-ministry-mama thing is no joke. I feel like I’m living very raw these days. My heart is pulled so many different ways that it feels exposed and out in the open. But at the same time every single second was lived with purpose. It’s all for ONE goal – more glory for Christ. I find it crazy that that more everything and motherhood can coexist in my current reality, but it does. That is my path. And I wouldn’t trade any aspect. I’m tired, spent and have given all 100% and more, almost always waking up tired, and yet strangely invigorated. I KNOW this is my calling for this season – all of it, all the crazy. It’s too much for me to handle on my own, and that is the point. I need daily, minute by minute, breath by breath kind of grace like I’ve never needed before. I won’t lie and say I don’t (almost daily) ask God how all the pieces are going to work out, how it’s all going to be done, and how I’m going to keep the plates spinning. It’s then that I find the truest rest, as nuts as that sounds, in the smack-dab middle of all the spinning, going, doing, mothering, writing, working, investing, and whatever else. This is the best, most beautiful journey and I’m so thankful it’s hard. I’m so glad Elle is so busy and full of life. I’m so blessed we are at church so much. I’m so thankful I have so many sweet friendships. I’m so elated that I have more than enough work that I LOVE. I’m so honored to have the chance to WRITE worship songs. I’m so ecstatic I get to invest in people. I’m so overjoyed that I’ve been given hard things to walk through, so that I may know a deeper grace and see God more clearly. I’m so glad for it all. When I get my perspective right, I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet for what God has entrusted to me. How humbling! What an honor! The girl I was 6 years ago longed for these things, albeit even though they look different than my dreams then. Heavy things. Full plates. Busy seasons. They are blessings. In every season I have a reason to sing; I have a reason to worship.