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Soak it Up

Soak it Up

Soggy sand oozed between the ten little piggies of my son’s toes. A ragged edge of transparent water, clear and cold rippled toward where we stood. Justin screamed a delightful two-year-old mix of happy-scared. I scooped him up against me, his knees bent into my stomach. I watched the water foam up around my ankles, held his little person above the water, his high-pitched screams of delight were drowned by the immense voice of the sea. Then I plopped his feet back into the receding wave. Transparent water vanished into the sand. Justin, mesmerized, watched his toes wiggle and dig into the disappearing wetness.

I looked out to the horizon of blue on blue. A long shore on either side embraced the ocean as it came and went. The spectacular view poured into my spirit like life giving drink into cracked earth. I soaked in the moment, Justin’s little hand stayed firmly in mine while my inward being talked with God, a communion filled with desperation. Thirsty, like unquenchable sand, I felt soul dry. Mommy-worn.

Justin tilted his head back to look up at me. I smiled down at him, full and empty tugged together. The instance, place, and snapshot filed in my mind under the emotion of never-want-to-forget-it satisfaction. I drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Sometimes being a mommy was like the ocean that disappeared into sand. Vast and unmeasurable, mommy-hood was never completely accomplished or satiated. Its demands drained, yet its beauty abounded. I wanted confidence, “You’ve got this.” But mothering was often a murky insecurity of, “I don’t know how to do this.” I wanted to thrive, but sometimes I struggled just to survive.

There is a little word in the Psalms that pops up repeatedly, and although not connected with parenting, it’s applicable. “Selah” was probably a musical directive. It invites the reader to “pause and think of that,” kind of like, “soak it in.”

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah” (Psalm 46:7).

If your plate is piled with mommy expectations, if perfection is always one runny nose away, let me grant permission to knock down some of the assumptions of maternal fantasy and soak in a bit of the pleasure.

  1. Lighten up. Admit when you’ve made mistakes. Expect them. Perfection is a gift children can live without, and one you can’t give. So, mark that one off.
  2. Jesus rested, so can you. Take away the power-nap guilt. Put your feet up now and then. Read a story. Inhale a coffee. A rested body is a much better conduit for love, and oh so much more patient.
  3. Be still. Jesus spent time with His Father. Embrace His Shepherding. Revel in His presence. Renew your soul. Learn to love His Word and pour it into your soul. That time is never wasted. It brings strength to every area.
  4. Choose marriage. Children will strengthen marriage and they will shake a marriage. Give your marriage priority and make it fun. A solid marriage is one of the best gifts you can give your children and it doesn’t happen without intention.
  5. Laugh as a family. Make opportunities to be silly. Capture your child’s delight in the lens of the moment, and play together. Get in the sand, take pictures, and eat cookie dough.

We miss so much in the flippancy and frenzy with which we juggle life. The confining borders of our expectations and achievements can rob us from the very thing we are called to do.

It’s easy to lose Jesus in the work of mothering for Him.

In the past, as I’ve read the Psalms, I’ve looked past that little word “Selah.” I’ve not considered it much more than a comma. But recently it’s become a good reminder to stop a bit and think about what I’ve read, so that the words seep into the cracks of my soul. Consider the concept as you sit before Jesus and as you care for your family. Because mommy-ing requires pouring-in.

Pause and enjoy little arms around your neck. Pause and inhale the perfume, the sweet (or not so sweet) smell of that little person. Soak in wet kisses and wilted dandelions. Delight in the little hand that slips so familiarly into yours.

Pause and savor the stage of life you are in, for it will slip through the sands of time like water on the beach.

Today, take a deep breath and soak it in. – Selah.

By: Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. She and her husband raised four children in Italy and Germany, where they were missionaries with Avant. Their children are all married and they have twelve grandchildren. Visit her blog, When the House is Quiet, at sylviaschroeder.com.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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