What the Cross Means to a Tired Mama

 

What the Cross Means to a Tired Mama | Faith and Composition

There are piles of laundry to be washed and folded, and sticky spots are scattered upon the kitchen floor. The baby tugs at me as the older two call my name from another room. I’m juggling dinner preparations and stepping over discarded crayons. This life as mom is all-consuming. The needs can seem overwhelming, the tasks countless, the work relentless. And the pressure to do it all, to be everything to everyone can be a heavy weight indeed.

There is so much doing, being, striving. And the result of it all can often be deferred hope, intangible peace, elusive rest. It feels that way for me sometimes. Maybe it feels that way for you now. It certainly felt that way for a ragamuffin group of first-century people following a man named Jesus.

Because they believed He was the Messiah. They trusted Him to bring rest, rescue, redemption. He rode into Jerusalem and the people shouted: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9)

They laid their cloaks on the ground in a spontaneous processional as their future king entered the city. He who would be their promised Messiah.

What the Cross Means to a Tired Mama | Faith and Composition
But then Friday … Jesus is seized from the Garden of Gethsemane, given an unfair trial and condemned to death by crucifixion. Peter, the one Jesus named “the rock”, betrays his Savior not once, not twice, but three times. The rooster crows.

Jesus is mocked, beaten, nailed to a cross and hung between two thieves atop a hill known as the skull. At noon, darkness shrouds the land, and three hours later, Jesus cries out: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?.” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ) (Matthew 27:46). 

He gives up his spirit. The earth shakes. The curtain rips in two. Hearts are shattered. Death seems victorious. And the hope of rescue and redemption hangs nailed to a Roman cross.

Joseph of Arimathea wraps Jesus in linen and places him in a tomb cut from a cave. A large rock is rolled in front of the entrance; Roman soldiers seal the tomb and post a guard.

Terrified, Jesus’ followers scatter. They don’t know what’s coming.

The sun sets, day two dawns, then day three. Women walk to the tomb with spices in hand. They have heavy, despaired hearts and a task to do. Sadness has eclipsed worship; despair has conquered hope; death appears to have triumphed over life.

But then an earthquake shakes the ground beneath their feet and an angel appears with a message so ripe with the promise of redemption that it’s nearly unbelievable: “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6 NIV)

And suddenly these women who were on their way to Jesus’ tomb to perform a grave task find their work miraculously intercepted by unfathomable grace.

What the Cross Means to a Tired Mama | Faith and Composition
As they rush back to tell the other disciples, they meet the resurrected Christ, fall to their feet and worship him (Matthew 28:8-9). Because that’s what an encounter with the resurrected Jesus does. It replaces work with worship. There’s no more doing, no more being, no more striving, there is simply fall-on-your-face worship.

For tired mamas, for exhausted parents, for everyone … the cross gives us the undeserved gift of grace and asks nothing in return. Strivings cease and redemption bursts forth in its place. There is no working for salvation, no trying hard to earn it, no striving for eternity. There is instead the simple act of receiving the gift of grace and worship that arises from the depths of a grateful, rescued heart.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So this Sunday, when there is church to visit, children to tend, dinner to prepare, eggs to hide, remember that the thing that matters most has already been accomplished. The lamb was crucified, blood was spent, God’s wrath is satisfied, the law is justified.

Death couldn’t keep him, and the grave couldn’t hold him. It is finished! He has risen, He lives, and there is nothing you or I must do to add to the finality of that sacrifice. We simply receive the gift of grace and worship out of a heart that overflows with gratitude.

That’s the good news of the cross for you, and that’s the good news of the cross for me. It’s good news today; it’s good news on Easter; it’s good news for all time. Grace. All is grace. 

 

Faith and Composition

The photos in this post were taken a few years ago when we visited a monastery during a trip to Maine. For a free Easter printable celebrating the resurrection, click here!

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All content on F&C is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted.

A Newborn Shoot with the G Family

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I recently had the opportunity to photograph a newborn session for sweet friends of ours, and ya’ll, I cannot express how precious this little one is! He just may have given me a touch of baby fever. I’m still somewhat amazed that people trust me to capture their sacred family moments, but I’m so thankful that they do! The opportunity to see art through the lens and communicate that vision to families is such a blessing. I adored the results of this shoot and wanted to share a little sneak peek with you. Enjoy!

A Lifestyle Newborn Shoot | Faith and Composition

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When Grace Trumps Guilt

When Grace Trumps Guilt | Faith and Composition

It had been a taxing evening. My husband was out of town, and the older kids had both decided to throw near-simultaneous tantrums. The baby was running a fever, and my throat was on fire. Everyone needed me to meet their needs, but I could hardly meet my own. I felt awful, and I desperately needed a hot cup of tea and a long night’s rest. Unfortunately, neither was going to happen anytime in the near future.

I finally got the baby to sleep and then walked out to the living room to find the boy and girl jumping up and down asking for a snack. Their recent tantrums a thing of the past, they were quite exuberant, and they were using none-too-soft voices. I knew they risked waking the little one. “Shh!” I pleaded. “Please don’t wake your sister!”

As if on cue, she cried out. In frustration and out of sheer exhaustion I turned to my son: “Why were you so loud?” I snapped. “Now I need to put her down again. I’d really like to spend some time with you, but I can’t because I need to tend her now.”

His face sank, hope deflated, tears spilled. “I’m sorry Mama,” he said. “I want you to spend time with me.”

As his words tumbled out, the reality of the situation and the sharp, reactionary nature of my response became painfully clear. Guilt and shame welled up through that sore throat of mine, and I struggled to push it down.

I leaned into him, bent down, cupped his face and said, “I am so sorry!”

He melted into me. Little boy arms that hang long and slim wrapped around my waist. He squeezed my neck tight, and instant forgiveness flooded over me. There was no condemnation, there weren’t any expectations; it was just pure grace poured out from a six-year-old boy to his tired mama.

When Grace Trumps Guilt | Faith and Composition
As moms, it’s easy to lose our cool and say words with a harsh tone. The days can drag on tedious and tiring, the kids’ needs seem relentless, our significance feels small. We pour ourselves out without a moment to fill up, and suddenly we find ourselves responding to something the kids said or did out of sheer exhaustion or frustration.

And then that guilt and shame … it rears it’s ugly head and whispers into our weakness: you’re not enough, you messed up again, you raised your voice, broke their heart, you’re failing at motherhood. The emotions are real, heavy, ugly.

Maybe you’ve been there; maybe you find yourself there today.

Because these kids … they bless us and stretch us in ways we couldn’t have ever imagined, and that stretching can pull us thin, wear us down threadbare. Limits are tested, words spoken, patience expired. And days like that can leave us with the weight of mom guilt hanging heavy around our shoulders.

Guilt that shames, condemns, enslaves.

That’s where I found myself that night, swimming in a big pool of Mama shame.

But then my boy. 

My boy accepted my apology with open arms, and then he took those arms and embraced me. Right there on the kitchen floor unbeknownst to him, he gave me a very tangible object lesson. And it’s this: Grace trumps guilt. It ALWAYS will if you let it.

I know that. I knew it then, but sometimes when guilt is thick, we need to be reminded of that beautiful truth. And there’s nothing better to serve as a reminder than the forgiving, all consuming hug of a six-year-old boy.

Because sometimes our children are the tangible expression of God’s grace to us at just the moment we need it most. Forgiveness, acceptance, open arms.

Here’s what I know … Grace will always trump guilt, if you let it. It will stamp out shame, and it will spring forth from the tiniest seed in the most remote and barren of places. But we must be willing to receive it. Had I turned away from my son’s expression of grace that evening, it would have fallen flat on the kitchen floor. Instead I received it, and hearts softened, a relationship strengthened, bitterness dissipated.

Grace trumped guilt. It did for me, and it will for you if you’ll simply receive it. If Mama guilt hangs heavy, if shame is pressing down, please know that the gift of grace waits for you from the stretched-wide arms of Jesus. Overwhelming grace, consuming grace, I-don’t-deserve-it grace … it’s yours for the taking. Receive it. Because grace always triumphs.

Faith and Composition

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All content on F&C is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. 

 

 

Why We Won’t be Giving Our Kids an Easter Basket

Why We Won't be Giving Our Kids an Easter Basket

This post originally appeared on March 29, 2013.

I originally began this post as a compilation of ideas for candy-alternative Easter baskets. We really try to avoid consuming too much sugar (especially the processed kind), so I had assembled a list of basket-filling options that included things like bubbles, flower seeds, gardening tools, JellyCat stuffed bunnies, stickers and more. I even ran into a few stores yesterday seeking some ideas. But as I began to think a little bit more about the trinkets with which I could fill my kiddos’ baskets, I balked. Not because they weren’t suitable ideas, but because I suddenly realized that my kids don’t need an Easter basket filled with stuff.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure and before you start thinking that I’ve deprived my little ones of some magical childhood experience that surrounds this particular holiday, let me just say that there is an Easter basket en route to each of them from my parents. And I’m pretty sure my husband’s parents have procured an assortment of Easter-related items for each kid. I have no doubt that those items will be met with much excitement, and we welcome those gifts. However, I’ve decided that my husband and I will not be giving our kids a filled-to-the-brim basket this year, and here’s why:

Easter celebrates the most important event in human history. It’s about the cross and the nail-scarred hands, the empty tomb and the words, “He is not here, He has risen.” I don’t want the commercialization of the holiday to overshadow its eternal significance.

With that being said, however, I know the focus can remain on Christ even in the midst of candy-filled eggs and stuffed bunnies. I’d like to think we’ve done it in the past, and I’m sure some of you manage it in quite admirable ways. But the second reason we’re not giving our kids an Easter basket this year is because my kids already have so much stuff. I don’t want a holiday to be the catalyst for bringing more unnecessary things into our lives and into our home … things that will be played with for a few minutes and then discarded later only to end up being shuffled from toy bin to toy bin before eventually landing in the garage sale pile.

We live in an overly commercialized society that heralds the accumulation of things. But with this accumulation comes the need to manage and maintain it all. And frankly, I’m tired of managing it all. I want to spend my time loving my children, enjoying companionship with my husband and sharing adventures with them all. I want to be attached to people, not things. And I want the same for my children. So while my decision to not give my kids an Easter basket this year may seem silly to some, I think it’s a small step in the right direction.

So on Easter Sunday, we’ll head off to church to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. And when we return home, we’ll feast in the dining room with cloth napkins and talk through the message of the cross and the empty tomb once again with our little ones. Then we’ll head outside and do a small egg hunt, where the kids will find hard-boiled eggs that we dyed using natural dyes and plastic eggs filled with coins for their banks or small notes tucked inside. We’ll focus on Christ, His sacrifice for us, and on one another. And after the kids go to bed and my husband and I are starting to wind down, I’ll be thankful that I won’t have to find a place to store all those stuffed bunnies and Easter-themed trinkets.

Now it’s your turn. How do you keep the focus on the message at Easter? And how do you manage the accumulation of things that seem to accompany each American holiday?

Faith and Composition

For a free Easter printable celebrating the resurrection, click here!

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Birthday Reflections – A Mother’s Thoughts on the First Six Years

A mother's thoughts on the first six years | Faith and Composition

Our firstborn recently turned six, and I find myself wondering how the time has passed so quickly. Six years old already? I swear it’s not possible. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that he was toddling around at my feet, using hummus as fingerpaint, pulling out a mess of toys, taunting the dogs? Will the next six years fly by as quickly? The math is startling but simple; a mere six years after that and he’s 18. A lump creeps into my throat, and there’s a knot in my stomach as the realization sinks in heavy.

We celebrated his birthday just a few weeks ago, this boy for whom I labored 27 hours. That little 9-pound baby was nestled so tightly inside I thought for sure they’d have to wheel me out of the labor and delivery room and right into the OR to get him out. But by the grace of God and a patient midwife, I brought him forth … 27 hours of anguish, 12 days past his due date. But the waiting was worth it. Waiting for a child is always worth it.

Exhausted and suffering from a severe case of chills, I barely remember the first hour of his life. My husband cut the cord and held him. Once I was able, they placed his swaddled frame into my arms. Black eyelashes rested on perfect cheeks, concealing deep brown eyes. His head was topped with a mass of dark hair, and he was gorgeous. My heart swelled beyond a capacity I’d ever experienced before, and I knew I would never be the same.

He was my son, and by his simple act of being he made me a mom. And in that moment, the beautiful mystery of love coming to us in the form of a swaddled infant washed over me.

Later we were told that the other nurses had come to peek in on him because they had heard he was so beautiful. He was, and he is. Today he’s handsome as ever, but the most beautiful part of our firstborn is his tender, gracious heart.

A mother's thoughts on the first six years | Faith and Composition

Yes, this just-turned-six-year-old boy is as rowdy as they come with a wild masculinity that hungers for adventure. And sometimes his energy depletes me. His constant motion, his inquisitive mind, his natural intuition, his curious tendencies … his fiercely adventurous spirit is a force of nature indeed. But he also possesses a tender heart that can slay me. This dear boy is wild and brave, kind-hearted and gracious, gentle and humble. That God would choose me to be his mother is a privilege that defies description. I never knew I possessed such capacity to love until I met him.

The first miracle of new life is life itself, and the second is what that new life does to a mom: turns her inside out so that her heart is walking around outside her body wearing skin. I couldn’t have anticipated the intensity of that second miracle. But once they placed his bundled body in my arms, I was never the same.

And the truth is, he continues to change me for the good. This son extends forgiveness, exercises compassion, lives adventurously, loves extravagantly. As the firstborn, I sometimes expect too much of him, but he rises to the occasion without a complaint. Oh that I would open my eyes to watch and learn from his child-like servant’s heart!

I am harder on him at times than I should be, and for that I am so sorry. I grieve when I expect too much of him; and yet he is quick to forgive. He has a longing to be seen, accepted, validated … I pray that I would love him without reserve, affirm his worth, validate his spirit. But more than anything, I pray that I would point him to the rock that is higher than I.

Six years lie behind us … six years of parenting this boy, and yet so much lies ahead! What an immense privilege, what an overwhelming gift! This task of raising children to know the Lord intimately, to seek Him wholeheartedly, to serve Him selflessly is astounding in its importance and all-consuming in its requirements. And yet, God promises that His grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in weakness. Oh how I pray His power would overwhelm my weakness! For were I to fail at nearly everything else, but succeed in reflecting Christ to my children, then I will have succeeded indeed!

Happy 6th birthday, my dearest boy … words could never express the depth to which I love you!

Faith and Composition

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