There have been times in my life where I couldn't see outside of my current circumstances.  Some days it is the struggle to feel worthy, heard and enough.  Other battles have overlapped many chapters and seasons along the way.  Our crew of four keeps me on my toes with so many ages, stages, personalities, victories and battles in these day-to-day trenches of motherhood, homeschooling and life.  This place we are in feels like treading water with rest, calm and smoother seas just out of reach.  The tiny years are precious and priceless, utterly exhausting and unbelievably passing by in a blink.  As I settle in late each night after tucking the last of my babes into bed, I look back at my day and mull over all the places and moments I wish I would have done so much better

We have been wading through these little years for over a decade now, and sometimes it is hard to see much farther than the daily work of maintaining, growing, teaching, building up and pouring into each heart in my home.  I wonder if the hard, heavy season of parenting that we are so deep in will ever feel lighter.  Then I turn around to find my oldest growing up right before me, and I gain some perspective.  With his twelfth birthday just around the corner, he is at that little bit older, next step up stage where gears are turning, independence is taking shape, and great conversations live alongside thoughtful acts, hard work, helpful gestures and bigger picture moments.  I sit back and take him in, knowing that the person he is becoming is less of a reflection of my own capabilities as his mama, and so much more a picture of the capabilities of a good and gracious God that fills the gaps where I come up short.  These glimpses of the man God is growing this guy into serve as a reminder that our years together under one roof are now fewer than the years I have spent with him so far.  I am beginning to see that the things that seem so challenging won't always be so hard (and the easy things might not always seem so simple as my little people grow up).  So very grateful for this sweet big kid stage in the midst of all the rest, knowing full well that Year 9, Year 6 and Year 3 of his younger siblings are fleeting.  Through trials and triumphs these little years are just for a season, and these little people I've been given certainly don't keep.   

Lord, give me perspective for this season.  Clear my tired eyes to see each of my little people the way YOU see them.  Equip me with the patience, grace, wisdom and rest to sustain me in this journey of parenting.  Turn my worry into trust, my self-doubt into wisdom and my weary heart into thankfulness overflowing.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,
YOU WERE RIGHT.  When I would stay up so many nights as a little girl worrying about all the hard, terrifying parts of life, you told me it was going to be ok. You were right.  Hard things have come and are sure to come again, but God has us, and it IS going to be ok.  When you fought so hard and advocated for my life when I couldn't in those deep, dark days of struggling throughout my high school years, you said it would get easier and the cares of the "now" wouldn't always hold such weight in the "later."  You said if I could just hold on, the "later" is where it gets really good and it will be so worth it.  You were right then, too.  And when you'd say, "Just you wait, Marisa Kay--your turn will come" every time I rolled my eyes, spouted awful words, slammed my door and pushed all your buttons beyond the limits, you were right again.  Motherhood is infinitely harder and more exhausting than I ever expected.  When you told me that the love you have for your babies tops all things in this world, and you would stop at nothing to make sure they were safe and ok and taken care of no matter what--you were so right, mom.  Motherhood is more beautiful, fulfilling and sacred than I ever thought possible.  For your girls you scrambled and stretched thin, sacrificed and endured, slept SO little and loved SO much.  On days like today when I find myself on the frazzled end of a meltdown that preceded/necessitated this "Under the Bed No Rest Protest Turned Nap," I can hear your words: "Deep breaths, Mis. You can do this. It's going to be ok. If you just hold on, it's going to be so worth it."


Motherhood isn't glamorous.  Some days, it is hard to recall the time in my life before my legs didn't have a five o'clock shadow or I managed to use the bathroom without an audience.  A time before the contents of my purse consisted of Band-Aids, spare diapers, stray Lego pieces and granola bars.  I have replaced my perfume with baby wipes (because a good baby wipe will clean up just about anything).  I've traded in my favorite shade of lipstick for a surplus of concealer to cover up those dark circles and pesky forehead wrinkles I've acquired from perfecting "The Look" over the past 7 years of motherhood.  You know, the one you give in the grocery store when your kind, sweet, precious child enters meltdown mode over a cookie, complete with arms a-flailing and mid-screech feet stomp that draws in glances from aisles away--that look.  Vague and distant are the days when I started out my morning with a nice hot shower and nothing stuck to me.  Let's face it--dried on drool and breast milk is never sexy.  Keepin' it real, folks.

We were at an event a few weeks ago when I overheard my husband talking to someone about what he does for a living.  When they asked him what it is that I do, he explained that I stay home with our three little boys.  "I've got the easy job," I heard him say.  "My day is like an 8 hour vacation compared to what my wife does all day."  Made my day.  My Adam, he just blesses me.  Being home with my little people is one of the things I thank God (and my hard-working hubby) for each and every day

It is all I could think about growing up, being a mama.  This is huge for me.  And while it has its challenges, its heartbreaks, its discouragements, motherhood also has gifted me with some of the sweetest victories, rewards and JOY on this Earth.   I believe that I am living out an ENORMOUS part of my purpose raising these precious babes.  I feel like I am right where I'm suppose to be--especially in this season when my sons are small and soaking up the world around them.  I want to make sure that the things they are soaking up are good for their developing characters and growing souls.

What I do everyday is certainly not much to some, but to me it is everything.

This past Mother's Day, Adam kissed my hand as we left our church parking lot.  Peeking back in the rear view mirror at our 3 little men he said, "Hey boys, when you meet a princess you kiss her hand."  I smiled as my husband demonstrated love to our boys.  My happy little love bubble burst just a moment later when Mason piped up (without skipping a beat) and said, "She's not a princess--she's just a boring mommy."  Ouch.  That one stung.  Then before we could even open our mouths to respond, Noah added his two cents, "Yeah, and she doesn't even have a job."  Sucker punch right to the stomach.  I half expected baby Emmitt to add "And she's fat, too!" from his car seat, just for good measure.  My. Heart. Sunk.  Tears stung my eyes as I tried to digest the honest, unfiltered, call-it-as-they-see-it perspective that flowed so freely from my little boys.  For the rest of the drive home, Adam spoke and Noah and Mason listened.  He asked the boys how clean, fresh clothes magically return to their dresser drawers, or how breakfast, lunch and dinner appear on their plates each day.  He asked them who fixes up their boo boo's, holds them when they are sad, drives them to school and back home again when the day is through, reads them stories, searches high and low for lost toys and missing loveys. They hadn't meant any harm or hurt feelings by what they said, and they felt pretty bad about it once Daddy explained to them how much weight their words could carry.  To Mason, being just a mommy (as opposed to some sort of flying, crime-fighting superhero) did seem pretty boring.  I guess stain annihilation doesn't count as a super power.  To Noah, our day-to-day doesn't seem like much of a job, especially since I don't head off to the office every morning and return each evening like Daddy does.  They are children and they were just speaking what made sense to them.   

I am no wonder woman.  Not by a L-O-N-G shot.  I wish that I could mother my boys with the same fervor and excitement as a new mama, but with the know-how and wisdom of a seasoned one.  I fall short daily.  My kitchen table is currently camouflaged with remnants of this morning's breakfast, junk mail, random projects in progress, and homework papers adorned with smiley face stickers.  The floors in my boys' rooms are peppered with tiny Lego pieces, the bathrooms could use a good scrub, my mountain of laundry is calling my name.  I stay up way too late, drink far too many cups of coffee and prioritize poorly sometimes.  If you drop by unannounced at any given time during the day, you'll likely find us in our pj's with toys and books and mismatched socks strewn about the living room floor. 


The OCD in me does not want to let go of having things just so all the time.  I don't function well in a mess.  There came a point after our middle little arrived, and then again when our third son made his debut, that I had to do some surrendering.  I'm still trying to find balance between tidiness, sanity, quality time with my sons, my hubby and my Lord, and a bit of time to take care of me.  My precious downtime when little ones are snoozing could be spent sweeping the floors or folding another load of laundry, but jotting down a few words here and doing some head and heart housekeeping feels important, too.  So while my house could be neater and my hair fixed a little more often, I know that this is only a season (one that is speeding by), and there will be a time for all of that later.  And I'm ok with that.


"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."

  -Charles R. Swindoll


One of the things that fills me up is taking pictures of my family.  My heart swells at the chance to catch super special moments, candid belly laughs and big [and little] firsts on camera.  My hope from the beginning was that my boys would look back many years from now and be grateful that they have snapshots of their childhood.  I was anxious to have pictures that would help us both remember what made them tick, what made them excited and what filled them up as they grew.  

Here's the thing, though: my little boys miss out on having their mama be a PART of those memories, rather than just standing by with her trusty Canon ready to capture as they experience it all.  It makes them sad, which in turn, makes this mama's heart hurt, too. 

Behind the camera is right there in my comfort zone, so as Adam says, "Hop on in this shot!" I usually come back with, "Well, I didn't really do my hair today . . ." or "I don't have any make-up on" or "Catch me when I'm 5-10 pounds down--I don't want to remember me like THIS."  As I was wading through the piles of pictures on my computer one night, my heart sank at the idea of my boys looking back at all of these pictures--these memories--and thinking,


 As much as I love documenting the everyday stuff, most days my little men are SO over mom taking yet another picture.  The saddest part?  I lost count of the times I reached for my camera and thought, "Well, this would make a really sweet blog post."   Often times, behind the scenes, those smiles from my little men came with much too much pleading and prompting from this mama.  Kind of sucked the fun right out of whatever we were doing in the first place.  

I am on year three of writing and posting to my little space here, and I'm embarrassed to admit that for a while, I lost sight of why I was taking pictures and sharing stories in the first place.   When other women's families, homes and photos are at your fingertips, it's easy to spend more time reading about (and comparing to) other people's lives than being present in your own.  I am certainly guilty of giving in to the tug on my attention and the allure of the "really cool photo/post op."  But my children . . . well, they deserve SO much better from their mama.   


After taking a look at where I was placing my attention, joy and time, I ended up taking a little impromptu writing and photo fast.  I jotted down precious moments and quotes that I wanted to be sure to remember, and grabbed my camera on some of the big days (like Noah and Mason's first day of school, harvest time for our little garden and my hubby's 10 year high school reunion), but I made sure that when I picked up my camera, my intentions were in order.  And while I didn't photograph every little thing, I think I got a more focused shot of the bigger picture.