Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reality: One mom's dark place

The past nine months of my life have been the hardest to date.

To go into all the details would be too time-consuming and quite irrelevant to the point of what I am sharing today.  The point is that Satan has been attacking me hard.  Now, I don't know that he is attacking me any harder than any other Christian mother, but this isn't a contest.

I don't need to share the details of my particular burdens for you to just know, because most moms will know.
You know because he has attacked you, too.
He has burdened your conscience.
He has sent life events to drown you.
He has taken births of blessings and turned them into the darkest moments of your lives.
He has looked at your repentance and told you it isn't enough.
He has seen what makes you angry, and he uses it against you.
He has led you into temptation.
He has encouraged you when you start to question why God would do these things to you.

My dark place is ever-going at the moment.  Nine months and going strong.  A constant battle to just choose to try again the next day, with the knowledge that another day of crushing blows is probably coming.  I tend to be a positive person, which actually makes this so much stranger for me.  I still tend toward positive thinking, and yet I can't seem to get that pesky Satan to stop crushing my spirit. He is good at it, because he has tons of practice.  I am sure he is well practiced on you, too, my friend.

Sometimes as a pastor's wife, I say Satan is that much worse, because let's be honest, there is a bullseye on your family's back when your husband faithfully preaches the Law and Gospel to souls.
And then, getting pastoral care from the man who knows your every fault can be intimidating.  I sinfully shun it at times.
But today my pastor husband came home with the letter below.
Thanks be to God for faithful shepherds to soothe a sinner's heart.

I share it here for my own benefit, as I will be able to read it in moments when I need it.
I share it here for your benefit, as you can fill it in with your children and be reminded of Christ's work through you.
I will be honest, though.  It doesn't mean your life will be better.  Satan will keep attacking you.  Life will continue to be hard.  But in that, know that I am praying for you, all Christian mothers, that you may be filled with joy in your blessings, given comfort in your repentance of sins, and strengthened to stand firm against the darts of Satan (while knowing they were already thrown at and destroyed by Jesus for you).

To my wife, the mother of our children:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! (Psalm 126:5)

The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward. (Proverbs 11:18)

It is so very easy to grow weary in doing good, especially because we think we don’t see results.  We too often sow and desire to reap in an hour, a day, or a week.  However, Scripture uses these terms wisely and for our encouragement.  We are called to be patient like a farmer.  As seeds take time to sprout, so the good that we sow to those around often takes time to give testimony.  Sometimes, we won’t see them at all, but that doesn’t make God unfaithful to His Word.

Meanwhile, the devil calls us to impatience and weariness.  He magnifies our sins and judges us harshly.  He weighs us down with despair and unbelief that God could use such a sinner as I to bless others.  While it is indeed a work of the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin, it is the work of the devil for us to be convinced that God wants to stop there.  We grow in love of others by growing in the knowledge and peace that He first loved us.  We begin to understand what it means that Jesus died for our sins by becoming increasingly aware of how many sins we actually commit in thought, word, and deed.  It seems ironic, but is true, that we are made holy by becoming more sensitive to the depth, not the shallowness, of the accusations of the holy Ten Commands. 

Jesus doesn’t want you to grow weary and become burdened so that you stay weary and burdened.  He calls you to come to Him for rest – true rest of conscience and peace with God and man.  He is gentle with you.  Learn from Him.  He has borne the yoke of your sin and then gives you His yoke – love one another as I have loved you. 

I desire for you to begin to see the love that Christ has shown to our children through you.  Through Him, you have sowed (sometimes in tears!), and in Him there has been true, visible results – a wonderful reaping.  Consider only some of the results shown since your 2015 birthday:


Solomon has completed a second year of attending Classical Conversations (and he is only 5 years old!).  He has learned countless (!) songs by heart that have taught and will continue to teach him about God’s gracious hand in history, science, math, and language.  This, his second year, was his first year without you in the room.  He showed respect and love for his teacher – who adores him.  He learned, listened, gave speeches (often without much preparation…let’s be honest!), and showed kindness all on his own. Because you gave him this opportunity to be a student by himself, you also learned that he sometimes sins against his teacher and classmates even when that teacher isn’t his mother and his classmate isn’t his brother.

Solomon has grown in both attitude and aptitude in reading, writing, and math.  He completed his 100th reading lesson with you.  Can you reflect on the aptitude and attitude of lesson 1 and begin to see that God is faithful to His promises – you sowed in tears and now are reaping with joy, though I’m not discounting that you continue to sow in tears at times!  His desire to read grows stronger every month.  He asks about signs on the road, on walks and parks, and on titles of books. 

He expresses himself better, is more self-controlled, sleeps better, gets dressed quicker, is able to handle small chores, entertains himself longer, and has grown in playing with his brother.  He applies knowledge learned in school, library books read by you, from random play, and watching Daniel Tiger to real life situations.

Most importantly, he has repented of his sins countless times and received absolution both from God and from others.  He prays on his own, knows more of the Bible, has memorized more hymns, more parts of the liturgy, and now freely asks very difficult questions about his God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 


Henry has completed his first year of Classical Conversations.  He has learned countless (!) songs by heart that have taught and will continue to teach him about God’s gracious hand in history, science, math, and language.  He was introduced to public speaking (at the age of 4!) and at times showed amazing aptitude in it (remember the Christmas program at church?).  Can you begin to see that God is faithful to his promises that those who sow in tears will reap in joy?  He grew in friendship and playing with others.

He was given the greatest gift he never asked for when God gave him another new baby sister.  He loves, laughs, and cares for her so intently partly because he models your love, laughter, and care.  He applies knowledge learned in school, library books read by you, from random play, and watching Daniel Tiger to real life situations.

He is an amazing builder of Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys – all new from Christmas 2015.  He speaks clearer, counts better, recognizes and creates patterns, knows much of the alphabet and their phonetic sounds and can actually read some whole sentences!  He sleeps better, falls asleep on his own easier, gets dressed on his own, and continues to learn to control his crazy emotions that God gave him through you and me. 

Most importantly, he has repented of his sins countless times and received absolution both from God and from others.  He prays for others, knows more of the Bible, has memorized more hymns, and more parts of the liturgy.


Dorothea has recently exploded in her ability to express herself.  She has an immense vocabulary and realizes that because she is loved by mom and dad, she can speak freely about everything.  She has learned so much simply by being present in situations where teaching, reading, and singing has occurred.  She has learned countless (!) songs by heart that have taught and will continue to teach her about God’s gracious hand in history, science, math, and language.

She now consistently plays by herself and with others.  She has begun to learn what she loves and has been encouraged to grow in that (“Mommy, can I color?”).  She sleeps in a big girl bed, shares a bedroom with her baby sister, and actually sleeps very well.  She wears 3T clothes that were gathered and organized by you (Thank God for the gift of clothes from others and for the countless hours spent by you organizing all of our children’s clothes!).  She eats incredibly well without much complaint. 

Most importantly, she has repented of her sins countless times and received absolution both from God and from others.  She prays, blesses, knows more of the Bible, has memorized more hymns, and more parts of the liturgy.


One year ago, Josephine was still being created and formed by her Heavenly Father in your womb.  Josephine has been birthed and also been given the gift of new birth by Water and the Spirit.

She now crawls, laughs, eats solid food, shows love and is receptive of love.  She expects comfort because she has received so much comfort.  She now sleeps in a crib and sleeps relatively well (says I in ignorance!)

Before the age of 1, our little Josephine has heard in her ears and soul countless confessions of sin from her father, mother, and siblings and countless absolutions from God and to each other.  She has heard so many prayers, so many blessings, so much of the Word of God, so many hymns, and so many parts of the liturgy.  She sings, she folds her hands, and she crosses herself.


So, God is faithful to His promises.  You have sown in doing good and because of His grace, you can begin to see the good reaping.  Don’t grow weary.  Keep commending yourself and children to God with the patience of a farmer.  You have received rewards here in time and are promised even greater rewards in eternity.

There is still more love to grow in.  Your faith and hope constantly need to be strengthened by the healing Words and Sacrament of our Savior.  The holy Ten Commands will continually be calling for us to fulfill them, so take heart in this, one of your fathers in the faith – “All God’s commandments are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven” (St. Augustine).

Your husband

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reality: A letter to my daughters and daughters-in-law

If a day comes that my daughters or my daughters-in-law are blessed with children, this is the letter I will give them.

My dearest daughters and daughters-in-law,

Everyone has an opinion about your life.  Many will decide to tell you about their opinions through light-hearted jokes or hard-hearted stabs.  Both can seem like arrows to your soul at times.  The weight is heavy as a mom of young children.  You carry with you the guilt of every mistake you will make...and you will make them.  I made them with you, my daughters, everyday.  I made them with my sons, your husbands, everyday.  The world and your own consciences will tell you all the things you do wrong and some things they think you do wrong.  You don't cherish every moment.  You discipline in anger.  You want nothing more in the world than to be alone for an hour and sometimes you despise your children for not allowing you that time.  You don't feed them homemade food for every meal. You don't always want to take them to church.  You feed them too often.  You let them cry too long. You don't do enough.  You do too much.  You have too many kids.  You, my daughters and daughters-in-law, will be judged by the world and by yourself.  The world will tell you being a mom is not enough.  You are smart and educated.  You could be doing so much more.  Your heart will believe these comments sometimes, because there is truth to them.  You are smart.  You are educated.  And you will want to bolt out of your mom role.  It will happen.  And worse, when it happens, you will feel like you can't express those feelings because everyone out in the world was waiting for this moment - the moment when you finally woke up and realized they were right all along... You have too many kids.  You want more than this life.  You can't let yourself say the reality of a hard life with kids because everyone out there seems to hate kids.  How can you, who loves children and the blessings of them, honestly say that sometimes you just want to run away?  The burden is heavy.  You will fail more times than you ever care to tell the world.  You will hurt the ones who love you most and they will hurt you.

But my dearest daughters and daughters-in-law, should you be blessed to have a life like mine, let me tell you want I want to remember for the moment that this pain hits you -

I want to say I understand.  You can be honest with me,and you can be honest with your Jesus.  Because it does not matter what anyone's opinion is about your life.  God gave you this life.  In His infinite mercy and knowledge, He chose you as the mother of these children.  He will fill your heart at times with such great joy that you feel you may burst.  The love He gives you for your children is enormous. But when that joy and that love seems to be seeping out of all the cracks caused by the daily chaos, constant touching, endless needs, and constant interruptions, know that He will restore it, my dears.  He will restore your joy and love.  Everyday is hard - particularly between the hours of six in the morning until six in the morning the next day.  I mean, I get it.  When people make well-meaning comments about your "full hands" or when they seem to stab you with a dagger of hatred about the kids being "all yours?!?!," know that every person, even that person stabbing you, is fighting a different battle in their life.  Do your best to respond in kindness, because their cross is no lighter or heavier than yours.  Maybe your kindness will be a pebble in their shoe to remind them of that one woman who had lots of kids and still seemed joyful.

But more importantly, my dears, when you DON'T respond with kindness (and there will be times you won't), know that your Jesus bore that sin, too.  You don't live a life full of laws from God to keep you perfect.  You don't live a life to earn your way to heaven.  You live a life full of forgiveness that sets you free.  Free to love your children.  Free to love your husbands.  Free to love your neighbors.  Free to love yourself.  The freedom provided from the cross of Christ is the only cure for the crosses you bear in this life.   You will never be enough, but Christ's cross will always be enough.

My dearest daughters, by birth and by marriage, know that I may forget this time in my life by the time you get there.  God will have re-filled my joy and sealed my mom-of-littles cracks.  There will be new cracks, of which I don't know anything about now.  So, be kind to me, too, and help bring back some of these memories so that I may help you bear the burdens in joy.  Find this letter and gently say, "Mom, remember when..."  I will probably smile and say something ridiculous like, "Oh, I miss those times.  Cherish every moment."  Have mercy on my aging soul as I remember a time when I felt fully needed.  I may not always feel that way, and I am certain I will miss that part...someday.