Too Heavy to Bear

When it comes to weigh-ins, some days just tip the scale more than others. Yesterday seemed heavy. Do you ever have days like that? Days when you catch your breath just in time to have it knocked from your lungs again? For me, it’s not even always about my own “stuff”. Sometimes other people’s “stuff” gives me a hard reality check and brings me to my knees. I find myself wondering about grace in these moments.

Is there grace for even THIS? Is it enough?!

I know the answer. I know the truth. Still, sometimes I want to ask Him just to hear it again, afresh. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

Perfect power.

That’s what He has. Weakness? We’ve got it. BOY do we have it:

  • Lost jobs.
  • Unborn babies resting in heaven before they even lay in the arms of their waiting mommas and daddies.
  • Heartbreaking loss of loved ones.
  • Nervous anticipation of test results, meeting outcomes, interviews.
  • Broken families, hurting children.
  • Cancer.
  • Alzheimer’s.
  • Illness.
  • Dreams deferred.
  • Failure.

The list goes on and on.  The good news is –

So does the GRACE.

The world will tell you

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

“You are strong enough.”

Don’t believe it, friend. You feel weak and defeated because you are not strong enough. You are weary and worn, and you can’t bear to take another step. You can’t handle this. I can’t handle this.

So when you do take another step (even though you can’t), and when you do take another breath (even though your chest heaves a thousand pounds of weight to bring the air in), and when you do stand (in spite of your exhaustion),

just remember –

this is GRACE.

Jesus NEVER tells us that we can walk through this life without pain. He doesn’t promise not to give us anything we can’t handle. He doesn’t promise us prosperity or earthly wealth. He doesn’t say it won’t be hard. In fact, He assures us it will be. And then He invites us to rest…not to stop working – not to stop trudging through the “field” of pain, but to labor alongside THE ONE who can bear the weight we cannot bear.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden (weighed down), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11: 28-29, emphasis added)

Today, I am praying for weary and hurting friends. I am remembering that the weight is more than they (or I) can bear, and I am praying they will find rest for their souls.

GRACE and rest, my soul-weary friends.

Our Momma

Sarah and I called mom today and shared a 3-way call to give her a gift “together”. Thankfully technology allows us to connect in so many ways to help ease the ache of the distance. Her voice broke as she tried to express a Mother’s Day wish to us and tell us what great mommas she thinks we are. I think I probably speak for both of us when I say that hearing a compliment like that from her, carries greater weight than hearing it from anyone else, except maybe my own children. It’s like having an expert in your field tell you what a great job you’re doing in your work. There’s nothing quite like it! ❤

As I held my 11 year old in a long hug tonight, I told him how much I love him. We went back and forth trying to love each other more, and finally I played the only card I could to win: “I loved you before you loved me.”

“What?!” he questioned, immediately defending his unborn self for not loving me first. I told him no matter how many infinities he adds on, I still started loving him first, so I win. 🙂  I smiled as I thought about how the kids have no memory of when they started loving me. They just grew into it. I, however, loved them from the moment I knew they existed (and I loved the idea of them even before that).

In the same way, I have no memory of when I realized how great Mom was. I just needed her and depended on her from the beginning, and I can’t recall a single moment when she let me down. I feel like I’ve loved her forever, but even so, I know she loved me first.

She has cheered us on, taught us, corrected us, been an example for us, nurtured us, encouraged us, and the list goes on and on. Here are some fun memories that come to mind:

  • She helped me figure out how to write that RIDICULOUS number 5 that brought me to tears. I still see a fat man with a hat. 🙂
  • She led me to the Lord as we knelt beside her bed and looked at God’s Word together so I could understand His plan of salvation.
  • She took care of me when I had my first bike crash and thought that maybe I needed to give up.
  • She worked HARD and studied HARD to get through nursing school when we were little and even though we didn’t understand the sacrifice then, we were able to look back and really “get it”.
  • She helped us with spelling words and language homework.
  • She refused to give me the bad news that I couldn’t carry a tune to save my life (as a child). Thank goodness she had the wisdom to know that it was more important that I sing joyfully. Had she seen things differently, I may have missed a talent and passion that has shaped my life.
  • She chased us through the house with a fly swatter (and I’m pretty sure there were no flies involved.) 😉
  • She stood up for us when we needed a defender.
  • She modeled honesty, integrity, grace, and beauty as a mom, a wife, and a career woman.
  • She could hold and sooth anyone’s baby, any time, and she loved every moment of it.
  • She encouraged my passion for writing from my first poem in fifth grade.
  • She watched more plays, dances, and performances from us than anyone and somehow managed to seem interested in each one.
  • She eagerly attended each concert, game, meet, performance, and banquet because she would NOT miss an opportunity to support us in whatever we were doing.
  • She cried when we messed up, and when we got hurt, and when we left home, and we knew it was just love dripping from her eyes.
  • She told Dad not to say ANYthing to me when they both saw how PERFECT my “friend” Jeremy was for me. She knew me well enough to know that I might get all weird and let go of the best gift of my life if they brought it up too soon. I’d like to think I was more reasonable than that, but mom probably knows best. 🙂
  • She zipped prom dresses and wedding gowns, decorated ceremonies and receptions, and was present for (nearly) each baby’s birth (except L who chose THAT moment to be the only moment in his life when he moved quickly.)
  • She answers calls that begin with “Hi Dr. Grammy…” and anxiously waits to see what kind of medical advice we’re seeking for ourselves or her dear grandbabies.
  • She welcomed our first foster children into her arms and home in such a warm way that no one could have known they hadn’t been there all along.
  • She worked hard throughout our lives to build memories we could cherish. It’s not her fault that our minds held on to things like how “cows have tails”, and how rough our ride was in the back of the blue truck as she attempted to learn to drive a manual. 🙂  Because of her we know that doing jumping jacks in a night gown is a bad idea and that it is possible to get knocked out cold when holding a tree limb that someone is cutting.

She is one of those people who truly grows more beautiful with each passing year. She is a classy, graceful, godly Momma and we are so thankful to call her ours! Though the life lessons and gifts we’ve received from mom are really too numerous to count, her character is pretty well summed up with this passage from the end of Proverbs 31. Thank you, Mom, for being this kind of leader for us:

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many daughters have done well,

But you excel them all.”

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

vs. 28-30


Heart-strings for my Sister-mom

Happy Mother’s Day, my friend. For the past two years, you have weighed heavy on my heart on this day, and I suspect you will continue to for the duration of my life. You see, your role in my life is unlike any other. Your impact to my motherhood is unmatched.

Ours is an unlikely friendship. We came together in difficult circumstances with lots of “firsts” for both of us. On the surface, it seems that our differences far outweigh our similarities, but there is one thing we share that unites us through it all, and it tips the scale so dramatically that we become more the same than different. It is them. They are the wildflowers that bring beauty to our common ground. They are the heartbeat of our sisterhood: our babies.

She was your first daughter. She’s my first daughter, too. Her sweetness captures us both, and that precious smile fills us with happiness. She is love – growing in grace, understanding, and beauty every day.  He was your first son – a potent introduction to the other world – the world of boys that used to be all I knew. He is my fourth, and a beautiful fireball of passion and energy. His eyes melt our hearts, and neither of us can hold back a smile when we hear his laughter. He is joy – bubbling with talent, and wowing us with intelligence.

They are just “littles” now – still innocent and unaware of the way their young lives have been altered. They may not fully remember you, but I do. I know your love for them. I’ve seen your tears, and heard your muffled cries that accompany the heartache of not holding them in your arms. I’ve heard your generously-given praise for my role as their momma, and my ears still ring with the sweetness of You’re giving them exactly what I wish I could  – the precious heart-salve-words that only you could give. I love you for giving life to these beautiful children and for desiring a better way for them. I made a promise to you, and I know you hold it close to your heart: I will make sure they always know of your love for them, and I will always honor you in the way I speak to them about you.

You are their first-momma, and I am their forever-momma; what a complex partnership we have. Not only am I their forever-momma, I am also the self-appointed keeper of their memories. The importance of this presses into my heart with such weight that I lose my breath. I want to build a hope-filled future for them, but I don’t want to rob them of their past simply because they can’t remember for themselves. I want our children to experience such a beautifully honest adoption that they never bear the weight or feel the pain of the loss like we have. It may be a hopeless battle, but I will give it my all. They already lost you in one regard. My heart breaks to think of them losing the strings that tie them to their starting place in this word. I collect pictures, letters, stories, memories…anything I can give them to hold on to. I imagine these strings running from your family to ours like a graceful instrument on which they can play songs of love and come to see the divine orchestration of their lives: all of the parts of them, in harmony.

I often wonder if you and I will ever sit together again – if we’ll ever share a hug or a conversation over a warm meal. I wonder if you will return to our lives in some fashion. I wonder if you’ll call again or if you’ll write. I know sometimes it hurts you to even think about those things, so I try to focus on having compassion for you and lifting you in prayer every day. The reality is, even if we never shared those things again, there is one thing we will share forever: our motherhood.

I pray our tangled heart strings will someday play the music of that bond so beautifully that the children we share cannot help but dance to its rhythm.