I have followed Ervina’s story for several years now. Her heart for the Lord through an incredible journey of sadness and loss is beautiful. You know when you look up to someone but are afraid when you meet in person it actually won’t be the same?
Well, I stepped onto the front porch and the door swung open with such genuine welcome I felt right at home. She softly talked to Eleanor, with fresh flowers on the side stand as the afternoon light filled the room. It was wonderful to watch and I was reassured she is as lovely a soul and I hoped. Enjoy Ervina’s Story of Motherhood.
We live in the southern woods of Lancaster County, tucked away on a hill where the rising sun shines in my kitchen windows each morning and waking up to my two messy-haired, hungry kiddos starts my day. “Homemaker” is that funny little word that gets written on the space when I am asked about my occupation. I get to stay at home and be a mama, and it’s a life I truly love. Before I got married, I was passionate about urban girls’ ministry, traveling the globe and spending time in other countries on a variety of mission bases. I’m not currently involved in any of those things but they’ve greatly shaped my perspective and I want to filter that perspective down to my children and share with them what I’ve learned, make them aware of life outside our own four walls and help them get excited about serving and loving people and opportunities bigger than themselves.
My husband Kenny and I both come from families of six kids — big and busy and never, ever lonely — and this has probably influenced our desire to also have a big family. We’re going on five years of marriage and have had three babies in the last three years. It sounds crazy — it IS crazy — but it is my joy to be a mama three times over. We experienced devastating, life-altering loss when our firstborn, Little Kenny, was a week past his due date when I went into labor and the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. My husband and I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and found it to be the darkest place of our lives, but at the same time it made Jesus the nearest and dearest Presence of our lives. To bury a child is one of the most excruciating pains I think one can bear in this life, and I wondered sometimes how I could breathe, let alone keep living, but we were truly carried and sustained by the Lord and by the beautiful community of family and friends around us who were the hands of feet of Christ, who cried with us when we cried and weren’t scared to be around a grieving mommy and daddy.
And then, a year and a month later, Jesus gave us Harrison Jude; and another twenty months later, Eleanor Kate; both bursting into our world with all the joy and delight you can possibly imagine and healing bits and pieces of our hearts that we thought would never come together again. God is so faithful to restore and redeem what the enemy has stolen. As a mother, I’ve had to learn early on that we do not have control of our children. We do not control the outcome of a pregnancy, a labor, or a lifetime of investment into precious lives. This realization can be fear-filled, or it can be what drives us to Christ where we surrender and trust His sovereignty, His goodness, His faithfulness, His ability to turn even the most despairing situations into good.
My second-born son Harrison is almost two and he loves to read. Even before he could walk, he would follow me around the house with a book, begging me to sit down and read with him. Sometimes I’m tempted to hide his favorites because didn’t we just read that six times already today? But I’m so glad a love of books is one trait he inherited from his mama — all the rest are his daddy, pure and simple. He can imitate a long list of animals, distinguish an elk from a buck, and will be happy as a lark as long as he’s outside tramping around in the grass and dirt. He teaches me to slow down and notice the cows standing in the field, the worms crawling on the pavement, the animal painted on the side of the u-haul, the moon shining through his side of the car window on a late night drive home, the bug clinging to the curtain, the sun prisms casting little rainbows all over our bedroom wall at a certain time of the morning, the excitement of lighting a candle, a dandelion he picked from a rest area on a road trip, the way his new shoes sound when he walks in them… such a variety of ordinary little things that would get missed unless I stopped to notice.
I love that motherhood reveals little lessons like this; that it requires me to pay attention and to care about the things he’s noticing and learning about. My children have a lifetime of learning ahead of them, which can seem as overwhelming as is thrilling sometimes, and I want to cultivate that culture and learn alongside of them the whole way.
The biggest thing that I’m realizing lately is that I cannot do motherhood on my own strength. I can’t be a good enough wife and mom. I can’t love and discipline and teach perfectly. I need Jesus just as much as my children do. When I have to ask forgiveness from my one year old for being impatient and frustrated, or when I rock my restless baby to sleep for the third time in one night, or when both of them are crying and hungry at the exact same time and we’re late for an appointment and I haven’t even washed my face or done my hair or had my coffee and quiet time yet, or when I don’t have enough arms or legs or supermom skills to go around, it reminds me how dependent I am on the Lord.
It’s not a bad weakness; it’s actually a wonderful awareness. And when I am willing to admit my failure and inadequancy and lean — really lean — on His strength and the promise that He’ll give me everything I need, it makes all the difference.