How to Write Books with Babies In Your Lap (Giveaway)

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

You don’t.

You don’t write books with babies in your lap, you don’t even check your email because four boys are honking your nose and pulling at your hair and coffee spills all over the overdue bills on your desk and you wonder again, why you said Yes.

Why you said you’d take in your friend’s two children when she called saying she couldn’t do it anymore, she couldn’t be a mom anymore. And rather than see that one-year-old and three-year-old go into the foster system you said you’d take them in, in addition to your six-month-old and his two-year-old brother.

Because some things are more important than sleep. Or a hot cup of coffee. Or that novel you’ve just been contracted to write because of course, you finally got a contract right after you took the boys in. Because God cares more about the least of these and he’ll reward you for it, too.

But it doesn’t feel like a reward. Especially when one of the boys forgets to lock the gate behind him and your six month old tumbles down the stairs in his walker and you grab him, weeping, you run with him to the office and close the door and hold your baby close to you and sob to God, I can’t do this.

Rock your baby and sobbing, and then somehow, God reminds you that you can. And you rise, open the door, turn on some music for the boys in the living room and they run dancing around the coffee table.

The story only gets written because you hire a nanny–a Dutch girl from your hamlet who makes homemade pasta noodles and laughs with all of her upper body and brings crafts to do with the boys. She brings her keyboard and songs fill the insides of your walls and she makes you mugs of tea and you call her Angel.

But even as the characters begin to form on the screen in your Word document, even as the plot thickens and you try to avoid those excessive adverbs and cliche descriptions, you hear the boys laughing outside the office door.

And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they’re no longer climbing all over you, they’re climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren’t the greatest story your life is writing?

These four boys whose noses and legs never stop running, who never get enough stories at bedtime, who always want more songs and more snuggles and more glasses of milk and more of you.

boys in the corn

All you’ve ever wanted is to be a published author and now you have the chance and you can’t help thinking, this isn’t what life is about.

It’s incredible to be able to make up stories but it’s even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child’s mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. “Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge,” he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.

Catherine Wallace writes, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Yes, I write books, but I don’t make a living from them. I make a living from being a mother and a wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story: the Dutch-German man I fell in love with back in Bible School, the one who converts his car to run off vegetable oil, who cans his own salsa and snowboards mountains. Who hikes up his pajama pants and dances for me in the middle of the living room, who throws his boys on the bed and eats their tummies, who downloads Parenthood for me and goes geocaching with me and kisses me like he means it.

And the two Filipino boys who now only visit us once a month because they’re back with their mama, and she thanks me every week for saving her life last year, and my biological sons–the ones I wasn’t supposed to be able to have–who make me feel famous every time I enter a room. Who squish my cheeks together in their dimpled hands and say, “I lah you Mama.”

This, friends–this is the story worth telling. The one we’re in.

novel ad

I am honored to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces--which releases this month–today to you friends… it’s about a woman like me, named Clara, who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved.

From the back cover: “It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.”

If you want to win one of two copies, just leave a comment below and we’ll choose two winners within the week. Otherwise, you can download a free chapter and purchase the novel HERE.

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

Do I Love My Kids More Than I Love Jesus?

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

A tiny casket lowered into the sullen dirt and the sky, swollen with grief.

The parents stood to the side, watching their baby girl being buried in a box and my scarf was soaked with tears. I kept stealing glances at my friend, wondering how she was still standing. Wondering how to comfort her, because there is no comfort any human can offer for the loss of a child.

I still have their daughter’s picture on my fridge and I tear up when I look at her delicate face, this baby born with a rare genetic disease to a couple that tried eight years for a child.

“If it has to be something, give me cancer or let me lose my house but please don’t take my kids,” I pray at night. “Please God, don’t make me go through that–”

Getting pregnant was hard for us too. We were told we would probably never have children because of my anorexia, and then a pastor prayed over us on national television for a son within the year–and we conceived a son within the year. And now we have two boys.

But I’ve also lost two babies, while they were in the womb, and it’s near-wrecked me. Those miscarriages bore stillborn faith and for awhile it was all I could do to just keep going.

I didn’t know, before having kids, the agony of giving birth to your heart and not being able to protect it.

via ILinca Vânău

via ILinca Vânău

The excruciating pain of sending your vulnerable little heart–with his puppy-dog backpack–into a world full of sin.

And the truth is? I don’t know if I love Jesus more than I love my children.

I don’t know if I love Jesus enough to say, “Anything Lord–whatever your plan is, whatever it is you want to use my children for, whatever your will is for this family–please do it.”

I’ve heard of parents giving God the glory when their children die and I want to be that person and yet–I also believe in grief, because what is the resurrection without death? And what is praise without sorrow? Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

Some things in life are just really, really hard. And we’re not supposed to be able to comprehend the pain of losing our children–it’s supposed to be heart-wrenching, because otherwise God sacrificing his own son wouldn’t mean much.

I recently returned from Uganda and Rwanda, where I met women who’d lost multiple children, and I met children who’d lost their mothers and fathers, and death was a reality for everyone there.

But God was a greater reality.

He rose off the face of every person I met, he rose triumphant and joyful, he rose with the promise of an eternity filled with life.

Jesus says to love him more than we love our sons and daughters.

Jesus says a lot of hard things and I’m a sinner saved by grace and it’s all I can do some days to repent. But I want to want to love him more than anything in this world. I want God to be a greater reality for me than death.

via Irena Selaković

via Irena Selaković

And I know that I don’t serve a heartless savior. When I commit my children to him in prayer while seated at the scratched wooden kitchen table, my sons watching Thomas the Train in the background, I don’t commit them to just anyone. I commit them to their Maker.

And when I pray that Jesus would be glorified both in my family’s living and dying, I know God weeps–not only out of joy for the surrender of our hearts, but out of pain–knowing how hard it is to give up a child.

“I just wish I could be there to show her around heaven,” my friend said to me following the funeral of her baby girl, her eyes blurry with tears. “It’s such a big place–I just worry she’ll get lost.”

Oh friends, these mother hearts–they’re meant to ache with the thought of loss.

But this earth, is but a glance, and then, we have forever to spend with Christ and our children. Hallelujah.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

novel ad

The Best Things About Bringing up Daughters

The Very Best Thing About Bringing Up Daughters

The call for help came in the middle of the day.

This dear, young mom was clearly in a tough circumstance and needed some help. A small break at the very least. I recognized the desperate tone and told her I’d be over as soon as I could.

But what about all her children? Her four young ones, plus a little baby? Who could stay with them on such short notice while she and I went out to talk it through?

I approached one of our daughters and briefly explained the situation.  She caught on right away and began filling her backpack with fun toys, a princess crown, and party whistles. In a few short minutes she was packed and ready to go.

The children shyly gathered around her when we first arrived, having never been left with a stranger before. They began sharing their names and ages. Then their favorite colors and favorite foods. Then they began pointing over to the park . . . .

My friend and I quietly slipped out and enjoyed a lovely, long afternoon over a cup of tea. Tearful and healing. Returned smiling and hopeful.

It was nearly dark by the time we got back. We found my daughter playing a board game with her children while the baby slept sweetly in her arms.

I had one of those moments. You know, the kind. When you wonder how that could have happened. Wasn’t it just yesterday that this young woman before you was sleeping sweetly in your very own arms?

Some of the Very Best Things About Bringing Up Daughters

Extend your ministry. Together the two (or more) of you can do so much more than you could on your own. Our girls have helped with making meals, childcare, virtual assistance, event-planning, and so much more. It’s like a mini-women’s ministry coming right from your very own home.

Keep you young. Let’s face it, I’d probably be old and frumpy if it wasn’t for them. They keep me updated on what’s happening in the modern world. They keep me from embarrassing myself too badly with behind-the-times technology, clothing, and expressions. And they make me laugh!

Offer wonderful insights. Their fresh eyes and tender hearts often see things that we might have otherwise missed. I increasingly appreciate their sensitive insight and new perspective when faced with a problem or challenging situation.

Become a huge help. Our daughters can even downright spoil us. I’m blessed to have girls who prepare many of the meals each week. One daughter is my tech-assistant and another edits my writing. We all work on the laundry.  Basically, I’d be lost without them. :)

Grow into good friends. This, of course, is the very best part. Who do I go to when I have exciting news? My girls. If I’m sad or upset? My girls. If I’m looking for fun or someone to talk to? My girls.  A daughter can become one of your closest friends.

A mother’s relationship with her daughter is not always easy – I can readily attest to that. Not always simple or straightforward. But it’s a relationship well worth cultivating and cherishing.

Enjoy her, mama. The joys far outweigh the tears. Raising these girls is a beautiful gift from God.

*What are some of your favorite things about your daughter(s)? Challenges you’re facing, or questions? 

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

Join her for this NEW series: Raising Heavenly-Minded, Down-to-Earth Kids

How a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Change the World

I saw them walk into the church one Sunday, all five of them, the boys in their long pants and button-up shirts and the girls in their dresses, heads ducked low. They’d just lost their mother to a brain aneurism and I swore I’d never complain about another dirty diaper.

And then the next day my eldest son dumped the potty on the floor, a full potty, and my foster boys were fighting and my youngest fell down the stairs and got a black eye.

How a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Change the World

I gathered him up and ran to the office and sat on the floor and cried, rocking my baby back and forth wondering why God had asked me to be a mom, this girl who’d been told she wouldn’t be able to have children, this girl who had never wanted children—had only ever wanted to be famous. To be known, because of some deep unloved holes in her heart.

Sometimes I escape to the back deck and listen to the silence, to the way the snow falls—softly, uninhibited—smelling the laundry through the chute and wishing for the same kind of significance I felt as a single person. Or even as a newly married person. The ability—and time—to do something profound because I didn’t have four little boys on my lap.

And then I turn and see their tiny faces pressed against the glass of the back door, their foreheads wrinkled and my baby’s lip beginning to tremble and I know without a doubt I’m famous. Despite the spit-up on my shirt, I matter in a huge way. This mothering, matters.

And not only that, but motherhood is revolutionary. It changes the world.

We live in a culture that insists mothers deserve spa-days and hot cups of coffee and time to remember that they are women—and to an extent, I agree. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter whose mother never had time to herself, who was always serving, and she was exhausted and sad. I swore I’d never become a mother because it ruins you, it wrecks you–and in many ways, it does.

Sleeping lady

But in the same way that Jesus says a seed cannot produce fruit unless it falls to the ground and dies, we as mothers cannot produce fruit in our children (or in the world) unless we too die to ourselves.

I’ve been reading a radical little book lately called Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. In it she says,

“You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body… Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of giving your body to another.”

Maybe we don’t get dressed until three in the afternoon, and suppers some days are Delissio pizzas or Chinese take-out. Maybe nine loads of laundry sit piled on our dryer, the floor is perpetually sticky and something brown sits pooled in the back of the fridge.

It’s okay.

Because being a perfect housewife is not the same as being a revolutionary mom. Being a revolutionary mother means taking time each day to snuggle with your children. To read them the same story over and over, to kneel down and look them in the eyes and tell them they mean the world to you. To pray with them and take flowers and meals with them to the lonely and teach them how to fly a kite.

There will be bad days. We are only human but even on those, take your children’s hands and say, “I’m so sorry—Mommy messed up. Can you forgive me?” And this too, changes the world, because your children learn how to say sorry. How to ask for forgiveness. And how to give it.

A mother’s sacrifice is her child’s reward. They will not remember how clean your floors. They will remember how you took time to sound out the words in their Winnie the Pooh book, or how you stretched out your arms and said, “I love you.”

Mother's hand
And this, friends?

This changing of the world?

It makes children of us all.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...