Monthly Archives: March 2014

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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A Free Printable and the Fine Art Print Giveaway Winners

Spirit Lead Me ... free printable | Faith and Composition

This week has flown by in a blur so far. We’ve been a bit hectic, and I failed to post on Monday. But I’ve had Oceans by Hillsong on repeat, and it’s helped to steady my spirit a bit. Such powerful lyrics and vocals! And because the words have been perpetually planted in my mind, I designed a little printable to display on the fridge or in a frame. Click here to download yours. You can print the file as a 9 x 12 or smaller. If you like the print, I’d be thrilled if you would share! And please remember that printables are free for personal use only.

And now … the winners of the Emily Jeffords fine art print giveaways are Jen T. and Ashley, I will be e mailing both of you, so watch your inbox! Congratulations! If you did not win, Emily’s fine art prints are available here. They’re affordable and extraordinarily beautiful. Emily also does custom commissioned pieces, and I’ve already told her that I will be contacting her for a commissioned piece in the future. If you’re interested in an original landscape or a commissioned piece, check out Emily’s work here.

That’s all for today, friends! Blessings to each of you!

Faith and Composition

To receive more encouraging posts like this, follow F&C on BlogLovin’ or enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!”

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

A Changed Perspective {Finding the Blessing in the Mess}

A Changed Perspective, Finding the Blessing in the Mess | Faith and Composition

I herd the kids into the car and rush off to the boy’s school. Perpetually late, I can’t ever seem to get him there on time, not when the girl has a breakdown before leaving because her toes have worn holes in her sparkle shoes or the baby requires a third outfit change in 10 minutes because she’s wearing her breakfast yogurt. She’s smeared a little bit atop her head too, but that will have to wait. I collect her hair into a tiny top knot and wrap a band around the little bun to keep it in place, yogurt and all.

After I drop the boy off, the girls and I grab a quick breakfast before gymnastics. The girl somersaults and practices her bear crawl across the beam, and then we head to the grocery store. The baby is at the age where she’s intent on asserting her independence. She fusses in the cart and refuses my attempts at baby wearing, so I decide to try to let her walk. Commandeering a cart with one hand, directing the baby with the other and instructing the girl with verbal cues, we make our way through the aisles. Just five minutes later, the baby trips and hits her chin. She wails … for 15.minutes.straight until I finally guide all three of us into a corner with a chair and sit down to nurse the little one. Eventually she sleeps, and I gingerly attempt to wrangle her into the carrier without waking her. We gather the rest of our groceries, and with one hand holding the baby’s sleeping head and the other reaching into the cart, I unload the groceries at the check-out with awkward dexterity and the slightest bit of anxiety. People stand behind me in line, and I silently wonder why no one offers to help.

We pick up the boy and head home. Nearly there I see flashing lights pulling behind me, and I look down to see that I’m exceeding the speed limit. It’s just par for the course, I suppose. We finally arrive home, and I walk in to find that the dogs have destroyed their dog bed, and remnants of polyfill litter the floor. The hubbie has a business dinner, so he won’t be home till late. It’s just me, three kids, two dogs, sacks of groceries to unload and polyfill to tidy. I feel like pulling the covers over my head.

This was my Thursday, friends. It could have been your Thursday too, or perhaps your Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday, hopefully sans the speeding ticket. Even if your scenarios are different, you likely have similar challenges … kids that demand more than you have to give, circumstances that leave you exhausted and anxious, jobs to tend that you’ve barely the energy to muster.

I turned on a show for the older two then took the baby into our room. Deep breaths … Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. Repeat. Shoulders relaxed, the anxiety lessened.

I rested beside her, and her breathing steadied. Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. Repeat. And as she succumbed to sleep I snapped a pic of she and I because there are two women (here and here) who are encouraging mamas to embrace the camera, and I think it’s a wonderful thing … archiving moments with our children that actually show us in the shot.

A Changed Perspective, Finding the Blessing in the Mess | Faith and Composition

And then when I glanced at the images, a slight miracle occurred. I realized with startling clarity that despite the circumstances of my day, God had planted beauty all around me. The older two in the other room, the baby sleeping beside me, the husband blessed with a job that provides … the blessings in my life are rich and plentiful. I’d been so focused on the trivialities of my day, and my bitter heart badly needed a change in perspective.

We all have circumstances that test our resolve and stretch our patience. Moments that make us crawl into the closet and cry. Sometimes those tears are the tangible expression of an aching heart. But sometimes a proper perspective regarding those circumstances can help transform them from an albatross into an opportunity to see blessings disguised in the ordinary.

I’m not negating the hard stuff. The hard, humbling stuff is there. I’ve written about it at length, and there are times when it’s just too thick to see beyond. But sometimes if we simply change our perspective, pray that God would open our eyes, we’ll see beauty arising out of the everyday mess. Seek and ye shall find. Seek truth, seek beauty, seek a perspective that sees the blessing in the midst of the mess. The eyelashes resting on the cheeks of the baby who was just squalling five minutes ago, the laughter that echoes through a trail of toys, the provision of food that requires a sink full of dirty dishes … everyday blessings often concealed by the monotony of the mundane.

So today, I want to challenge you to seek a change in perspective. When little demands require your time and attention, when challenges seek to steal your joy, when anxiety threatens to usurp your peace, choose to focus on the gifts God has given you. For a grateful heart uproots bitterness.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

 

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My Mom (when she didn’t realize she was teaching)

My mom and I at my wedding. Photo by Perry Aslyn Photography.

My mom and I at my wedding, 2006. Photo by Perry Aslyn Photography.

My mother turned 61 on the 17th … a St. Patty’s baby. Raised on a Kansas farm, an educator by trade, a Mother to three and a Nana to six, she’s taught me a thing or two about living well and loving without reserve. And while she’s been intentional in many areas of my life, it’s the little lessons I’ve learned when she didn’t even know she was teaching that have probably impacted me the most. These are lessons learned that I’ve accumulated not from her focused teaching, but simply from being in relationship with my mom. These are observations about the small things that really matter; this is an attitude that I hope to pass onto my children as well.

Truth be told, these are insights she may not even realize she’s inspired. So in honor of her birthday, here are ten life lessons I’ve learned from my mom when she didn’t realize she was teaching.

1) You will make mistakes; life is full of them. Learn from those mistakes and seek God’s grace when you fall short. Forgiveness flows from the foot of the cross in overwhelming abundance, and you are never too far gone to be out of His reach.

2) You will be tempted to hide your mistakes from your children. And while it’s prudent to protect them from some things, don’t hide behind a mask of perfection. Your children don’t want a perfect mom, they want a forgiving, grace-giving, second-chance mom.

3) Live authentically. Perfection is an illusion, and the efforts to achieve it only result in bondage. Take the mask off, and invite people into your mess; this transparency gives others the freedom to lay their masks aside as well.

4) Immerse yourself in the Word, and let your kids see. I vividly remember coming out to the living room early one morning to find my mom reading the Word. That quiet scene spoke volumes to my little heart. Give your kids the gift of seeing you revere the Word of God.

5) Whether the day is rough and the demands are hard, or the cares are light and the going is easy … smile. A smile deflates hardship, and it may be just the simple encouragement someone else needs. As for those smile lines that etch into your skin, don’t despise them; they tell stories of laughter and life well lived.

6) When emotions are too thick for words, when you are moved in a way that defies description, cry. And don’t feel ashamed by your tears. For as Washington Irving said: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”

7) Hospitality is more about the heart than the home. You don’t need a perfectly appointed house, a gourmet meal, a well-dressed table. True hospitality is the simple act of inviting someone in and making them feel welcome. A cup of coffee and ears to listen are some of the best tools of hospitality.

8) Never underestimate the power of storytelling. Your own life experiences are stories that could impact and inspire others. Tell stories; tell them to others and relay them to your kids before they fall asleep. For their is magic and wonder in the simple act of storytelling.

9) Dig in the dirt. Plant flowers, garden, pull weeds; it’s not so much about the what as it is about the why. Because sometimes the simple act of getting your hands in the soil is just the catharsis your heart needs.

10) Pick wild flowers. Sometimes when a little hand tugs at yours because sunflowers are growing in a field, you just need to stop and pick the flowers.

Thank you doesn’t say enough, Mom. I love you!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway by the lovely and talented Emily Jeffords! You have until Sunday, March 23. Enter here!

 

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

A Giveaway with Artist Emily Jeffords

A Giveaway with Artist Emily Jeffords | Faith and Composition
I first “met” artist Emily Jeffords via Instagram. I don’t remember how I initially found her photo feed, but once I did, I was hooked. Emily is a South Carolina-based artist and designer who creates whimsical fine-art paintings that stir the soul. She’s also one of the creative co-founders of the beautiful publication, Trouvé. Her custom landscapes feature soothing palettes and an enchanting aesthetic that feel a bit like a much-needed exhale. Much of her work is centered around the theme of finding peace and beauty. Study her creations, and you’ll catch yourself getting swept away by the brush strokes, captivated by the emotion of it all. In addition to her stunning artwork, Emily is a wife and mom to two sweet little girls; she also boasts an authentically endearing personality and a love for good coffee. She’s the kind of soul with whom I’d love to linger over a latte, and it’s easy to see why she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite artists!

A Giveaway with Artist Emily Jeffords | Faith and Composition

A Giveaway with Artist Emily Jeffords | Faith and Composition

Truly, Emily is a creative professional you don’t want to forget. And today, I am beyond thrilled to announce that she has partnered with Faith&Composition for a special little giveaway. Emily is graciously offering TWO lucky F&C readers the chance to win one 5×7 fine art print each. The fine art reproductions are printed on high-quality canvas that evoke the look and feel of the original. These prints have a rich, inviting, textural quality. I literally gasped when I saw the level of detail displayed in each piece. Should you win, this will become a piece of artwork that you’ll adore for years to come.

A Giveaway with Artist Emily Jeffords | Faith and Composition

A Giveaway with Artist Emily Jeffords | Faith and Composition

TO ENTER:

This giveaway is now closed. The winners are announced here.

Simply follow this blog (you can follow by submitting your e mail address and clicking “I Want to Follow F&C” on the sidebar at the right; or follow on BlogLovin); then hop over to Emily’s etsy page and come back here to leave a comment telling me which print is your favorite. 

For extra entries, you can 1) follow Faith&Composition on Instagram, 2) like F&C on FB, 3) follow Emily on Instagram, 4) follow Emily on Twitter AND 5) share the contest to your own social media accounts. For each separate entry, be sure to come back here and leave a separate comment!

The lucky winners will be selected from the comments via Random.org, so each separate entry needs a separate comment. The contest will close at midnight on Sunday, March 23. The winner will be announced on Monday, March 24.  

And if you don’t win, hop over to Emily’s etsy shop to reserve a fine art print of your choosing. A portion of the proceeds from her reproduction sales benefit the Williamsburg Church, a community-focused church in Williamsburg, NY. Good luck, dear friends!

Faith and Composition

To receive more encouraging posts like this, follow F&C on BlogLovin’ or enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!”

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