Missing more than life….by Rachel Stafford

My four-year-old recently graduated from preschool. She stood on the stage in her light blue cap and gown and sang songs about growing up and going to kindergarten.  I will admit I cried, but there was something more … something very painful that I had never allowed myself to fully acknowledge until I saw my sweet baby standing on that stage.

As she stood there beaming her beautiful smile, waving and looking directly into my eyes, I felt the urge to fall to my knees.  Thank God I wasn’t sitting at her high school graduation looking at a child I did not know.  Thank God I had not cruised through eighteen years of her life blindly unaware of everything I was missing.  Thank God I had been given a second chance.  Because I had come frighteningly close to missing it all.

You see, I lost two years with my daughter. It was not because of a personal tragedy, an illness, or because I was incapacitated.  No, tragically my two-year absence was of my own doing.  This is not one of my shining moments as a mother, but I share it in the effort that one person reads this and says, “That is me. I am on the verge of losing something sacred that I will never get back.”  This is my story …

When my younger daughter was two-years-old, her older sister went to kindergarten. I had spent the previous five years as a stay-at-home mom moving to several new cities in a short time period, focusing solely on my babies and my family.  So when my older child went to kindergarten and my younger child was no longer a “baby,” I dove into volunteer activities that stimulated my mind, allowed for use of my God-given talents, and engaged me in conversations with other adults … activities I had been desperately missing.  With each successful event I chaired, I felt validated. I discovered an identity other than “Mom.” I was filling a five-year void.  But I took it too far.

And while I was doing good for so many, my family got lost … particularly my two-year-old daughter with strawberry blonde hair who smiles with her whole entire face and sings like an angel.  She is so good, so content, and so “easy,” that she allowed me to shuffle her around to one meeting after another. She patiently tolerated unending workdays with non-stop phone calls, emails, and text messaging.  My child didn’t complain; she never once made mention of the completely distracted and overly occupied lady she called, “Mama.”

My sweet two-year-old just went right along with my overscheduled life, not knowing she was missing the heart, the focus, and the company of her mom.  She had no idea she was being given the leftovers, the worthless scraps of her stretched-too-thin mother.

I had a nagging feeling about how much I was doing outside the home, but I justified my bursting-at-the-seams calendar by arguing that my involvement was desperately needed. I completely denied the fact that these activities were sabotaging my life, my health, my happiness, and my well-being.

And then finally in July 2010, my Breakdown-Breakthrough moment occurred when I finally admitted the painfully honest answer to the question people continually asked me.  “How do you do it all, Rachel?”  With tears streaming down my face, I forced myself to acknowledge that in order to “Do It All,” I missed out on life.  I missed the laughing, playing, memory making parts of life.  You know, the parts of life that really matter.

And with indescribable pain and regret, I realized my two-year-old daughter was the greatest victim of my admired ability to “Do It All.”  In that painfully honest breakthrough moment, I vowed things would change. I vowed I would change.  I started by burning my to-do list.  I made a conscious effort to slow down for a designated time period every single day.  And I began using the word NO when requests of extracurricular duties arose.  But above all, I made it a priority to know my younger daughter, the one I came tragically close to not knowing at all.  And nothing pleases me more than to introduce you to my amazing daughter, Avery…

I know …

She is ticklish right under her chin, in that tender spot beneath her little round face that still holds a soft layer of cushion.  Her upper left tooth is a little crooked from sucking her thumb since she was two days old.  When she laughs too hard she gets the hiccups, which manages to make her laugh even harder.

I know …

She gets this dreamy look on her angelic face when she hears stories about herself as a baby.  She says “meed” instead of “need,” and I can’t bear the thought that someday soon she will pronounce it correctly.  She refers to dandelions as “wishing flowers” and makes the same exact wish every time she blows on one: “I hope I can live in Disney World.”

I know …

She generously offers to help me make muffins and cookies, and then magically disappears after she licks the beater.  She can’t quite get the two-finger F chord on her tiny ukulele but the C sounds like pure heaven.  She listens intently to songs on the radio and looks quite disappointed when she has to inform me of things like, “Katy Perry doesn’t really have a very good voice, Mama.”

I know …

She is an excellent salad maker except for the fact that she eats all the red peppers before they make it into the bowl.  She forms her hands into little balls when she runs.  She gets overly excited when pouring her own milk into a glass.

I know …

She loves to entertain a crowd … the bigger the better.  She voluntarily asks to take a nap when she is tired.  She loves the distinct flavors found in hummus and sushi rolls, but claims toothpaste is “too spicy.”

And I know …

She somehow smells like gumdrops when she first wakes up (even though she refused to use the “spicy” toothpaste).  She sings made up songs and somehow makes them sound like the most beautiful melodies.  She can actually make my heart stop when she wraps her arms around my neck and whispers, “You’re my best friend, Mama.” This list contains a mere fraction of what I have come to know about my beautiful curly-haired girl in the past year.  It is only a fraction of what I will come to know about her in the years to come.

And when my radiant, eighteen-year-old daughter stands proudly at her high school graduation, I can say, “That’s my daughter Avery; I know her. I know every good and precious and miraculous thing about her.”  And I will be grateful for the poignant lesson I received before it was too late, these ten words forever etched upon my heart:

When you live life distracted, you miss more than life. 

Hands Free Mama 2011, 2012 ©

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If you enjoyed Rachel’s post, you can follow this “Hands Free Mama” and her revolutionary approach to letting go and living life by clicking “like” on “The Hands Free Revolution” on Facebook or through her blog at www.handsfreemama.com.

 

 

The way things are….in the eyes of Kate Bosch

Kate is my sister-in-law but more importantly, a faithful friend.  She is the wife to Ethan and the Mom to my wonderful nephews Hendrix, Milo and Wylder.  She has such a gift with words and there’s not a moment that goes by that I don’t learn something from her  and what God is doing in and through her life.  I hope you are challenged by her words like I am!

I wish I could say that I dealt with chaos well. It’s just not me. I can go with the flow- when that flow is slow, calm, relaxed and directed. But, when the flow is crazy and going in fifty different directions I just can’t “go with it”. I mean the word “flow” doesn’t even sound like it should be chaotic. Doesn’t it sound more peaceful, like a river? Anyway, me and chaos are not a good mix. So, needless to say, with an almost 3 year old and TWO five month olds– I have been doing a lot of growing. Annnd a lot of pulling out my hair and throwing laundry.

I have beat myself up often for not being more ‘free’ in the way I do life. I often feel like a drag for needing to know details and for being such a ridiculous planner. Especially with people who are so carefree! I’ve tried to go through my days, weeks, months without planning them first and I just feel completely lost. Like a chicken with it’s head cut off.
But God is so good and He recently gave me this word:
“My child, don’t lose sight of good planning and insight. Hang on to them, for they fill you with life and bring you honor and respect. They keep you safe on your way and keep your feet from stumbling. You can lie down without fear and enjoy pleasant dreams. You need not be afraid of disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.” Proverbs 3: 21-26
I love this. God gave me a little pat on the back with that one. I may be a good planner, but let’s face it– my plans are not always perfect. Thank God that He is right there as my security to keep me going! He won’t let me get caught in a trap. Because His plans are always perfect and my prayer is that mine are somewhat in line with His!
As a wife and mother, I feel like I need to have a plan. A plan for each day: one-on-one time with each of my kids, time with God, something fun and usually outside for Hendrix, regular naps for the babies, DINNER quality time with Ethan and maybe a little me time. Now, I don’t always hit all of those things, but on the days that I have a plan– everyone in my family is happier. And my head is still connected to my body. yay!
I have realized that this life is not mine. I am humbled daily by the great need my children and my husband have for me. Everyday I need to wake up with a plan. A plan to be who, where and what I am needed to be for these men God has blessed me with.
I can do that. God made me a planner, after all. – Kate

Jennifer Hall: A woman’s guide to Biblical financial management!

Jennifer grew up in Martinsville, Indiana and accepted Christ at the age of 6 in a revival service at Highland Creek Baptist Church. After graduating from high school, she headed to Indiana University, Bloomington and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business from the Kelley School of Business. She worked in the financial services and insurance industry for over nine years, most recently as the Senior Group Underwriter for MPlan.  She currently works as the financial secretary/bookkeeper at Northside Baptist Church in Indianapolis.

Jennifer has a passion for stewardship and Biblical money management and frequently speaks on the topic at women’s ministry events. She is also actively involved as a consultant with Build for the Future, a capital funding program sponsored by the State Convention of Baptist in Indiana. Jennifer takes tremendous joy helping to create a spiritual climate that leads members of a church to give at sacrificial levels so that building needs can be met.

She and her husband David have two children, Vivian and Benjamin. Jennifer is active in the Worship and Arts ministry at Northside, enjoys singing on the praise team and in the choir, as well as being part of a women’s trio named Relinquish. In her free time she enjoys singing, running and spending time with her husband, family and friends.

She’ll be speaking to us about how God owns everything and we are His money manager.  This will be a very practical week at m2m that you won’t want to miss!

Captivating…the woman you truly are!

It is with great honor we welcome the very talented, very passionate Melissa Hanley to Mom2Mom this week as our speaker. Melissa is not only one of the co-founders of our Batesville Mom2Mom group, she is also the beautiful wife of Patrick and loving mother of Madison, Jackson, and Mason Hanley. They have been involved in church planting and ministry their entire married life, and Melissa her whole life.
When they moved to Batesville last year, they came with a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty can’t be found on a map, but we all know where it’s at. It can be a very lonely place, especially when you are new in town, and don’t have a lot of friends. But God, being God, and by that, being the all merciful and gracious king he is,allowed their lives to intersect with several like minded individuals, which ignited several friendships to appear almost seemingly overnight.
The first conversation I ever had with Melissa, I was drawn to her…something more than we were both moms who shared the same interests, hobbies, and hometown. There was something more.. Something just sucked me right in. If you know her, you know exactly what I am talking about.There is something about her that you just don’t find in a person that often. She genuinely wants and longs to know more about you. Her spirit is genuine. Her heart, compassionate. Her mind, inquisitive. The 3 must have ingredients for ” good friend” soup. There is just a quality that exists in her heart and the way she interacts with people that makes you trust her immediately.
The first night we had dinner together as couples, she wanted to know our story. Our love story. How it was that our little family came about. I have since, had several dinners with her and other couples and watched as she has weaseled some pretty amazing, sometimes shockingly embarrasing and desperate love stories out of unprepared couples.
Be with us this Thursday, April 5, as Melissa shares her love story, the captivating love story of the one who first loved her and loved her enough to give her the ultimate gift of love.
All I can say is, I hope you have been doing some aerobic excercises and would advise you to wear a good sports bra…..your heart is definitely going in for a workout this week!!!!  – Shannon McBeath