Tag Archive | heaven

Is This The Good Life? Why You Should Enjoy (But Not Too Much) Having Little Ones

045 I was really not a good new mom.

A friend of mine had her first baby in the hospital room next to me, the day after I had my first baby. It was fun. And also, a little weird…we watched her contractions intensify on the hospital monitor system as she was in labor! We experienced a lot of “firsts” together, obviously.

I remember seeing her when the boys were a few weeks old. She was so happy. I just remember her gushing and “ooo”-ing, smiling away these sleepless nights that are “just for a season.”

A season?!?!? If we survive it!!! I thought she was a) crazy and b) awesome.

Even the second time around, when Ty, my second-born, was fresh and new from the hospital, I didn’t get it. He was doing all those awful things newborns do…falling asleep eating, never eating at the right times, just wanting to be carried all day long, being completely adorable and alert ONLY at 2:30 am, etc., etc.

My mom came over one afternoon to help. I was in my haven’t-brushed-my-teeth, wearing-my-pajamas-and-it’s-almost-dinner, sleepless and incoherent new mommy stupor stage. (Please tell me someone else has that stage.)

Anyway, my mom looked really cute. Her makeup was done, she’d just had a haircut, and she was wearing a trendy new outfit. I asked what she was all dressed up for.

“Oh, Dad and I are just going to grab a bite to eat tonight, that’s all.”

I remember shaking my head and saying with half smile, “Must be nice, living the good life…”

I will never forget how she looked – not at me, but around the room. At my kids. At the mess.

“No, Jessie. This is living the good life.” And she smiled, like she was remembering something wonderful.

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I get it, Mom.

I get it.

I’m so, so sorry that it has taken me 1,312 days of motherhood (and a few rounds of counseling, and multiple breakdowns, and infinite episodes of Netflix reruns to deal with my stress level)…

But I get it – I’m living the good life.

I know I have a horrible track record of making things around here sound like some sort of a domestic purgatory (here, and here, and here, and, oh you get the point.) But really, motherhood is so wonderful I can’t even put it into words without sort of choking up.

  • Ty tells me, “You’re beautiful, Mommy.” (He always tells Daddy he’s “a stud,” if that gives you any hints where he’s learned it.)
  • He asks to sing Jesus Loves Me, he gives us kisses, and his toes are so perfectly chubby. And is there anything more wonderful than rocking a cuddly little one to sleep?
  • Sam is three, and brilliant. No, really. He gets so excited about oatmeal and science experiments and throwing a football and doing it “all! by! MY! SELF!…”
  • He thanks me for making him delicious meals. He doesn’t even care that he can’t eat cheese or pizza or goldfish and all his meals are different.
  • He thinks I’m the smartest, most athletic, most creative and funny mom he could ever have.

All these things look so generic on paper, but you know that if you are the mommy, they’re wonderful.

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I get a catch in my throat thinking about days where my little ones aren’t bumbling around under my feet, when they aren’t calling for me when they’re hurt, when they make their own meals and tie their own shoes and (sob) have their own families.

This isn’t the end, though. You know me…there’s always a lesson. Lessons are my way of making me feel better about everything I don’t like or can’t understand. That’s healthy, right?

Lesson one is a story.

Once when I was a little girl (ten or so), I was trying to fall asleep, thinking about the things you think about when you’re trying to fall asleep, when I realized something. I had figured out how to make an air conditioner! Excitedly, I sprinted out of bed to tell my mom what I’d discovered.

Mom! Guess what! I know how they make an air conditioner! If you take two of those things that you cool off cookies on, and you smush up some ice cubes in between them, and then hold that in front of a little fan, then it’s like an air conditioner! Isn’t that amazing, Mom??!

I remember thinking it so odd that Mom (who was sitting there alone, reading a magazine, drinking some tea) looked…almost…tired? Could it be tired? That was weird.

But she listened. She smiled. She was impressed.

I laugh so hard at that story right now. I know exactly what she felt like, drinking her tea and putting her feet up for the first time all day, listening to someone re-invent an air conditioner. I hope she had a good, happy laugh when I went scampering back to bed.

Yesterday, Sam called me up to show me he’d made his laundry basket like a car. Today, he had turned his underwear inside out.

I hope that I was excited as my mom learning about air conditioners.

I hope that Sam knows I think these days are wonderful.

See here’s the thing about motherhood. It’s not wonderful like your wedding day, or Ruth’s Chris with your husband, or laying on a towel on the beach in June.

It’s messier than that.

It pokes its cute snotty-faced smile out when you’re not fully awake yet at 5:46 am, or trying to untangle a slinky, or scraping toothpaste off your ratty college yoga pants, or in the middle of making pizza dough, or paying your cable bill.

So the trick about it is to see those moments and enjoy when they come.

Because here’s the second lesson… It doesn’t last. I am just so, so sad here that this stage will be over so soon. Maybe for you it is almost over, or it is over. Maybe you’re not yet a mom, or won’t ever be one.

The answer is the same for us all. {And forgive me for going philosophical for a second…}

This isn’t our home. There’s more than what’s real right now.

And again, I quote C.S. Lewis, that wise old bachelor from half a world and half a century ago.

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling…of that something which you were born desiring, and which…night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ ” {C.S. Lewis: The Problem of Pain}

I am grateful that I don’t have to cling desperately to the things I love – being a mom, my wonderful family…I’m grateful that all these things I think I was made for become real and forever in heaven, and never grow old.

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines…”

~C.S. Lewis (Til We Have Faces)

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worry, and heaven, and C.S. Lewis

There are things that become incredibly relevant when you are a mom, things that didn’t mean as much before. Printable coupons. The flu season. Whether or not your husband will be home EXACTLY in time for dinner. And other sorts of things like that.
Also, C.S. Lewis. I have mentioned this before, but quite a few times I have found myself remembering a quote, and baffling that he was a middle aged mostly-bachelor who lived almost a century ago. Because, he knows me.

Like this quote: “There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven, but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

That first part, about not being quite as holy as we think we should – now that rings true here in momland. See I used to be quite holy, back in college. I had daily, sacred quiet times, in which I prayed for all of the lost, and nearly all of fruits of the spirit (not just patience). I journaled; I sung (with my eyes closed, mind you) at worship night; I discussed. Oh, how I discussed. Heaven, in its official self, was near.

These days are a little different. Actually I have quite a complex about that holy Jessica of long ago. She has been replaced with someone who gets annoyed easily, who says her prayers mostly in bed, with warm covers on (you can see where this is going), and…I think I know where my Bible is, but a journal??? Forget it.

Which makes me wonder, comparitively, if I will be knocking on heaven’s door one day and somehow have forgotten my verses, and theologies, and…feel out of place.

I hope Mr. Lewis is right, then, that the inklings of heaven are still right here with me even if books and Bible studies have been replaced by dishes and diapers. And if I look at my heart, I think he is right.

Behind all of the vitamins and check-ups and seat-belt-buckling and baby-gate-installing and sneaking of vegetables into things, is the hope that nothing bad will ever, ever happen to my family. Heaven. Everytime I worry about my own health, it’s just because I want to live forever with the ones I love. Heaven. Everytime my heart breaks for yet another family with sick kids, heaven. Everytime I’m hungry, and tired, and need strength for another day, heaven. Everytime I’m struck with how perfect my children are, and somehow hugging them tight is not enough – I want the moment to last forever…heaven. Everytime I’m lonely. Everytime I’m worried. Everytime I hurt. Heaven.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
– C.S. Lewis

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Sam on heaven

It’s hard for me to think about this conversation without getting emotional. Truly, it’s kind of comical, but also on the wrong week of the month, gets the tear ducts moving if you feel me. I tried really hard to remember how it went and even took some notes during…which was a little tricky, as I was driving. Here is the gyst.

Sam: Mom, this is song is Jesus a sigh-a.”
me: Yeah, it says Jesus is the Messiah.”
Sam: Mom what’s sigh-a?
me: Well, it means that Jesus loves us very much and he’s going to take us to heaven one day. (Yes, I know I oversimplified. Give me a break, people. Had to take some theological liberties here; he’s two.)
Sam: Where’s heaven, Mom?
me: Um, it’s…very far away. It’s a really fun place where we will be with Jesus forever, a really long time.
Sam: And God too?
me: Yes, God too.
Sam: Mom, drive there.
me: Well…you can’t drive there. God will take us there when he wants to.
Sam: Is heaven that building, mom?
me: No. It’s really far away.
Sam: Will we take the sidewalk?
me: Not really the sidewalk. We’ll go with God. It’s a great place. We won’t get sick, or be scared, or get boo-boos or anything. And it won’t rain. (It was raining. Sam and I hate the rain. If you want rain in your heaven, then omit this part.)
Sam: Is heaven over there?
me: No, it’s, um, heaven isn’t really near here.

long pause. Brief conversation about why Sam’s shoes are wet on the bottom, and how Ty ate a leaf recently.

Sam: Mom will there be shoes in heaven?
me: (pause.) Do you want to wear shoes? (No.) Then, no. No shoes.
Sam: Is there goin be toys?
me: Yes, lots and lots of toys.
Sam: And me and Jesus will play with toys!

About at this point we were home. I debated prolonging the trip to see if he’d ask any more questions. But I think the moment was over. what a hoot! 🙂

more on death.

I’m not a freak, I promise. I can’t help it that I’ve been gifted.
It’s kind of like my sister. She has a gift. Tell her that you just found out you’re pregnant, and she can tell you within thirty seconds your due date. My gift is kind of like that, only not at all. You see, if you give ME fifteen minutes, I’ll tell you everything and anything that could possibly go wrong in your little old life. Beautiful, isn’t it?
So here we are, with another death post. But it gets better, trust me.
You see, it dawned on me the other day. I’m going to die. Why do I fight it? So I immediately did what I always do when I am determined to conquer something by ration, reason, or force. I research, and I organize. I wish it were sexier, that I were one of those people who conquer their devils by running fifteen miles, or hiking a mountain, or even concocting something new in the kitchen. No, for me it’s always been: read everything you can on a subject, and then make color-coded index cards and a spreadsheet to give some poor soul a presentation on something they never wanted to know.
And thus it was with death. And where, persay, do I go if I want to learn about death, and slay the dragons of fear thereof? The Bible, of course – that’s where I went. The whole thing, actually. Well, okay, I skipped the Old Testament for purposes of time. But I started with Matthew determined to write down every single reference to eternity, dying, or heaven. Cure it with research, right? (I do realize that this whole post is casting a rather unflattering self-image, but in my determination to be honest, and – more importantly, helpful – on I go. 🙂
Well I have to be honest, the first couple books were a little more bleak than I had hoped. I felt like from an initial skimming that I had been called “a brood of vipers” one too many times. I wasn’t quite feeling the hope. Until John.
The Gospel of John is my new. favorite. book. Did you know there are over 31 references to eternal life, just in the FIRST HALF of the book? It’s always Jesus talking, and according to John he mentions the word “LIFE” about every time he ends a miracle, or story, or lesson. It’s incredible, if you’re looking. Man, I felt better reading those. And incredibly, not so much with “eyes on heaven” that I wasn’t any earthly good. On the contrary, I can tell you that I sliced the dinner sweet potatoes with a new enjoyment, attention, and joy. It’s odd, but true.
The big question, though, is, does my new knowledge cure me from those awful death fears? Well…those who saw me dash all of the sofa cushions in the pantry to escape the impending “tornado” that occurred, or was predicted to occur, three hours later, might probably assume no. But it’s a start. I thought I might share a little of my hope, but you should really go read the whole book. This is just one verse, the first that really hit me. It’s familiar, but I can tell you it had new meaning for this little researcher, scared to death of death.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
🙂

Finally, I watched it

Confession. I have not actually read any of The Lord of the Rings. Additionally, until recently, whenever I watched any of the movies, I fell asleep. People are horrifed at this, me being a literature teacher and all. And I’m not proud of it. I just can’t help it. As soon as I read the words “troll” or “goblin,” or “middle earth,” something happens inside of me and I check out. I am well aware that this tendency exempts me from a large amount of the world’s beautiful literature, but I can’t help it.

Usually my husband shares this predisposition against fantasy-land, but he has been nagging me for years to watch The Lord of the Rings. Which I didn’t understand, until now.

There are bookstores written about these stories, and I’m not going to attempt to add to the discussion after one skeptical viewing of the movies. But I do get it now…and one thing in particular stood out to me.

They are not scared to die. Not at all. They’re not even scared of pain. In fact, they run to it. You watch it and just baffle. At least I do. I’m trying my darndest to prevent, avoid, predict, and flee every hardship my mind conceives. But to these characters, struggles, death, and pain are – not merely accepted – but chased after.

There’s one scene where Gandoff is encouraging a little dwarf, Pippin, before the big battle. The dwarf is more like me, gulping at the battle, grimacing at death. He says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.” Gandoff responds: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey-rain curtain of this world rolls past, and then we’ll see it.” Pippin: “What? See what?” Gandoff: “White shores, and beyond. A far green country with a swift sunrise.” Pippin: “Well that isn’t quite so bad.” Gandoff: “No, it isn’t.”

There’s one verse I’ve been thinking a lot about. I like to think Tolkien thought about it too:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Heb. 2:14-15)