Friday, March 30, 2012


Lately, I've been learning a lot. There's no way that I could put it all into words, and even if it was possible, I'm not sure that I would write about it on here. It's finally starting to hit me that I'm an adult. And maybe I will start to act like one. On paper, I'm an adult. I've finished college, gotten married, taught children, paid bills, traveled the world, had a baby, cleaned my house, took my vitamins. But there's lots of immaturity laced through me and the process of refining is painful. It's the act of ripping out that which is dishonorable and replacing it with that which honors Him. It leaves me mangled, hurting, and above all, hopeful.

Being a wife hurts. Being a mom hurts. It strikes where I am most vulnerable, most sensitive, most sinful. It attacks my pride, my self-worth, my motivation. It asks the tough questions, and leaves me with answers that I don't like. The answer is that I am undeserving of any good thing, because I am selfish, judgmental, prideful, and impatient (among other things). It brings me to my knees day in and day out.

What I'm learning is, I can't do it on my own. I really need a rescuer. The more I am confronted by my imperfections, the more I see how desperately I am in need of mercy. The more I am thankful for acceptance and unconditional love. In the midst of unworthiness, should I despair? No! I should not become discouraged by depravity, but I should rejoice because of grace. In this unbreakable promise, I can live freely. When I 'fail', it is only to my own standards, or the lies of this world. Of course, because of this grace, I should WANT to live by a higher standard. I should want to act towards others in a way that pleases Him. It is not because I have to out of obligation or payment. It is because of thankfulness and love.

I guess these are old lessons I've had to learn many times before, just applied in new ways. Being a mom is hard, and I often feel pressure to be a certain type of mom. If not a 'type', at least to be a 'good' mom. But what is a good mom? What do I think a good mom looks like? Does a good mom cook organically, clean daily, never turn the TV on? Does a good mom have supper cooked from scratch every evening, the dishes washed before dessert is served? Does a good mom find all the 'right' activities for their kids and make sure reading is emphasized in their daily schedule? Does a good mom wake up with a smile? Does a good mom remember to eat her lunch everyday? Do her children behave perfectly?

When does she find time to hang out with her friends, watch a movie, clip her nails, exercise, buy toilet paper?

Not that any of these things are bad, but do they equate godly mothering? I read this blog post a little while ago and it really encouraged me. I've been reading this blog for six-ish years, and as I've read the writer's thoughts, so true and relevant, I really wanted to emulate her mindset. It's so encouraging, as a young mom, to be able to read words like these. There are other posts that she's written over the years that have had the same level of impact in my life. I should try to find those particular posts again; but really, I recommend her blog in its entirety. I've re-read this particular entry several times this week. I recommend it to anyone who is a mom, or will one day be a mom. It is very insightful. Here are some of my personal reflections stemming from that post:

I used to think that I had to choose between teaching and being a mom. I wanted to do both, but knew that in our current situation, it would be impossible for me. It was a difficult decision, and if not for an equally difficult year, I never would have been able to step down from teaching as happily as I did. I admit that I fell in love with being a mom. How could I not? It is a slippery slope. Soon, I was placing the same expectations I had on myself as a teacher, onto being a mom. When I was a teacher, I wanted to be a good one. I marked fulfillment on whether or not I was achieving success as a teacher. This could be done in a number of ways, and that's natural--because it was a job. Being a mom is more than a job.

First of all, it's 24/7.'re dealing with the formation of little lives. It is easy to get confused between wanting the best for your child, with wanting to be the best at raising your child. My success was in teaching, and I wanted it to be in mothering. But really, my success is in Him. And that's the bottom line. Wanting to have perfectly behaved, beautiful, talented, smart kids...that's a desire of the flesh. Of course, I want the best for Willow, but placing pressure on her to BE the best, for my benefit (to feel successful at what I have 'chosen' to do). As Willow grows up, I don't want to teach her that appearances are everything by enforcing perfect behavior. Especially in public--what does it matter what other people think? It is my tendency (as a type A personality), and so I want to acknowledge that legalistic parenting is destructive when taken to its natural conclusions.

But most importantly, I want to remember that even though Willow brings so much joy (and challenges!) to my life, she is not here for me. I catch myself thinking that all the time! She is such a sweet heart, so much fun, and I like spending time with her everyday. She makes my heart glad, I rejoice in this gift of time that I have with her. But she isn't here for me. Each day she needs me less and less, and one day she won't need me at all. I want to let go of her in a healthy way and not cling her like she is mine. She isn't mine to cling to. It is our human tendency to possess, but it is our calling to surrender. We moms are like the rich man, who could not relinquish his treasure. It is easier for a camel to walk through an eye of a needle.

What do I mean, then, when I say I want the best for her? I want her to love her Maker at an early age. I want her to never know the sorrow of a wayward path. I don't want her to fear man. I desperately want her to be in the center of His plan for her life. I want her to follow His voice. Not mine.

She isn't here to bring ME happiness, or a feeling of success. She isn't here to bring me personal fulfillment, and I want to release her from that sort of pressure. Even though I might find happiness in taking care of her, and we might experience moments of success, it isn't the point. My ultimate job is to form a genuine relationship with Him, and to demonstrate His love to this precious little girl as best I can. I need to live for him first and foremost. This is the hardest part for me! How to be in a vital relationship, consistently and faithfully, when life demands every ounce of energy and leaves me feeling like a failure--or at least like a tub of ice cream would taste lovely. How to aspire to a vibrant walk, when all I think about is taking a nap?

I'm guilty of coming off as a child-worshiper, because I write a lot about Willow on here and post gobs of pictures. Partly, it's because we're far from family and many of our friends--so I want to help them stay connected. I don't want to give an inaccurate picture of my heart, however. I love Willow. I want the best for her. She isn't my career. She isn't the marker of my success. And ultimately, she isn't here for me. She is here for Him.

In the meantime, I will love her just the way she is. I will accept her, always. And I will probably always take pictures of her, and post them on here, as long as she will let me. :)

Here is what the Little Women tickets look like. Very exciting!

It's been a while since I've posted pictures of our home. This is what our guest room looks like right now. Although, it might look a bit different after this weekend.

Living in China has taught me a few things about making a home:
-be thrifty (except, there's no thrift stores, just markets). See my cheap-o version of a vanity? Haha. The curtains I had made at a market, as well. This room was decorated on a dime, basically.
-be sparse. We aren't living in China forever, so don't bog yourself down with possessions. Every item you purchase is something you'll end up having to sell or throw away someday. I'm guilty of buying too much, as it is.
-be unattached. Nothing really belongs to you. Not your furniture (it's the landlords, usually), not your apartment (your landlord could sell it or want to change the contract, and that usually means moving), and not ANYTHING really. I love our apartment now, but I constantly remind myself that it isn't 'mine', and I never know how long I will get to live in this place. Really, this is the mindset we should have no matter where we live. You can't take it with you. It's not really your home. Store your treasure where moth and rust don't destroy. Where landlords don't own the furniture. Where contracts don't expire.

The wardrobe on the left is where I hang my clothes. Our wardrobes don't fit in our bedroom (they can't get through the hallway). I have a little project in mind, however. I don't know why I didn't do this before! I'm going to move Adam's wardrobe where that little hutch is. Then I'll move the hutch back into the living room. I'm going to take some fabric and line the inside of the glass panels with it, to 'hide' the contents from view. I also need to fix the bottom cabinet door (whoops!). This is where we store all our medicine cabinet items and toiletries/linens. Our home is in serious need of storage, like most apartments here. Hopefully, with this move of furniture, our home will make a little more sense (Adam's clothes wont be in the living room anymore, which is a point of marital tension. lol), and we will have room for a toy box. I'll keep you posted on this change. We'll see if it works.

What a weird post! I was all over the place! I've been a blogging freak this month. I need to go to bed. My head is pounding, and I'm sure Willow will wake up at least twice tonight. She just refuses to sleep through the night! It's exhausting business, but I just remind myself that 'this too shall pass'. I'll remember these nights fondly. Someday soon, I hope. Adam will be staying up all night, his second lock-in of the semester. Which means tomorrow will be interesting (I need to work, he needs to sleep, Willow needs caring)--and tonight will be long with just me to tend to the sleepless babe. Good night moon!


  1. Wow! You have such wisdom, Julie! I pray I have the same mindset when I have my chidlren... They are not mine they are HIS! Praise God for that wisdom and challenge!

    1. I can't claim any credit for any wisdom you might see. But I hope that whatever good you see, whatever speaks to your heart, can be used for His glory as you prepare to be a mommy! Love you!