The Never-Ending Cycle

photo(1)I sighed as I placed yet another load into the washing machine.

I’ve long given up on trying to figure out how three people, one being a child, are able to produce so much laundry.

It’s like the song that never ends. One load in; one out, almost daily.

Separating. Folding. Putting away. Over and over again.

As I stood at the white machine this morning, removing clothes one by one from the hamper to place them in for their weekly washing, I remembered to be grateful for the tasks that do not end.

For one day, they will.

One day, little people will grow up.  And taking their laundry with them, there will be less clothing in the wash than there was before.  I’ll long for the days of grass-stained denim and sweaty Little League shirts and chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup dripped across faded shirts that are worn over and over again despite a drawer full of new ones because of how loved that one shirt is.

I think about those that are single and how, perhaps, they dream as they do their laundry to one day have another to do such a meaningful task for.  For in the dreariness of redundancy, there is beauty in serving others.

In just a few short months, I’ll add to my load–both literally and figuratively–with spit-up onesies and other let’s not mention it right now types of stains and I know there are women out there longing to see these things in their machines.  For their never-ending cycles are far worse than mine–each month to want the one thing they are not getting.

There are many other “never-endings” in my life, but I want to be the woman who relishes in the goodness and security that they provide than to grow bitter that they do not cease.

And so I put one more load in.  The hamper stays empty for all of twelve seconds before the socks I told him to make sure weren’t left on the floor finally get picked up and put in their proper destination. Right after the load is done.

Yes, the security of those white socks always await me.

And I am happy.

I am blessed.

May may be over, but let’s still celebrate.

How did June creep up on me so quickly!?  Well, it did.  And though May is over, we’re going to keep on celebrating motherhood as I finish posting up a few blog entries from dear friends.  Let’s pray I get them all up before Father’s Day!

Today’s guest post comes from one of my favorite women–my first pastor’s wife.  Christina was a great friend, confidant, and mentor to me as not only a new Christian but as a new wife and mother.  She amazed me with her calm demeanor though she carried the weight of ministry alongside her husband and, wait for it, five children.  At the time, I didn’t know families that big existed anymore! I’m excited to share her encouraging words with you.  Thanks, Christina!

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Grace_wordleI purposely have not read the other blog entries because I didn’t want to put expectations on myself for what this needs to be. I also hoped that if I repeat what anyone else has said it will be from God, an exclamation point of sorts. I’m looking forward to catching up on the previous entries!

This kind of sums up “Motherhood” for me: expectations.

Expectations: what are mine of myself, my husband’s expectations of me, my children’s expectations, my church’s, and God’s expectations of me? That’s heavy.

I have 5 children. The oldest is 23 and the youngest just had her 11th birthday. My oldest, Jessica, and youngest, Julia, are girls. There are three boys in between – Jonathon, Joshua and Josiah. I love the newborn – 2 years stage. I had birth and breastfeeding down pat. There may be people who adopt 5 kids at once or in a short period of time or the few families on TV that have multiples. I can’t imagine going from no children to 5 or having one and then birthing 4 at once making an automatic family of 5. Phew! In my average case, it was one at a time. Managing those ages and stages have to be lived one day at a time but also lived with the future in mind.

My struggle with expectations has brought me to a place of casting aside all others and asking God, “What do YOU expect?” His reply is what we all long for: “Love me.” Encapsulated in that is also “Let me love you and love others through you.” Don’t you love HUGS? Maybe there are the few that have difficulties with touch and resist the intimacy of a hug, but overall I think we generally love HUGS. What I like most about it is that when you give one, you almost always get one back.  As I focus on being aware of His Presence throughout my day, loving God and receiving His love for me, then loving my family and “doing” all the mom-things for them become an expression of love and not just an expectation of duty to perform.

My expectations of myself, by the way, are usually an unrealistic conglomeration of all the ‘best mom’ attributes of all my friends, acquaintances and maybe even TV moms, Martha Stewart and Food Network stars, all wrapped up into what I think is who I should be. As I surrender that and focus on Jesus and pleasing Him, I find that I can navigate around all the other expectations.

“Focus” is the word for me this year. Haphazard living doesn’t yield a fruitful life. In the stages of nursing babies and toddlers, I had to have structure but bend with the unexpected. During the school years, structure is forced upon me and there is a rhythm to the weeks. With a large family, I have had years with kids in 3 different schools. “Life happens” and in the chaos, I have often lived by the urgent with my only focus on survival. However, I can look back and know that through it all, I have and continue to live with a focus – pleasing God. And He smiles on me and on you, too.

To wrap it up, in this newest stage of parenting (letting children grow up and go away), there is one HUGE thing I learned: “new level, new lie” or some say “new level, new devil”. What do I mean? Well when my oldest was graduating high school, I thought “I’ve finally learned how to do this thing called life.” I was confident in my relationship with God and aware of the destructiveness of the enemy of our souls. What took me by surprise was that the enemy came from a different angle, found a weak spot and took on a new lie. When my oldest got engaged, I began to think, “She doesn’t need me anymore. Her husband’s family is better for her than we are.” I started to agree with those and other negative thoughts and for 3 weeks or so I was being tormented.

Then it hit me, “THESE WERE LIES FROM THE PIT”.

It was like a veil was removed and I saw where these thoughts we coming from. I immediately repented and began to cut off the plans and schemes of the enemy in prayer.  God is faithful and my relationship with my daughter is close and strong.

I could have filled this blog with scriptures and believe me, I have many favorites. I love this definition of the GRACE of God – His ability to do in and through me what I could never do in my own strength. That’s Motherhood.

Christina Dzindzio (aka Mom, Chrissy, Sis, Mrs. D, pastor’s wife)
I’m married to a man of God – Timothy Dzindzio. We both graduated from Zion Bible Institute in 1987 and have been married 26 years.  Our journey: we have served as youth pastors for over a decade, Senior Pastors in Pelham Bay, Bronx, NY for 7 years, Master’s Commission director in NJ, lived in Louisiana for 3 years and currently pastoring in Rhode Island. 

*Picture {via}

Celebrate Motherhood: A Guest Post from Aileen Torres

I apologize for the delay in getting posts out to you.  It’s been a hard month, and while I would love to catch you up on all that has been going on in my life I’m pushing forward with our scheduled posts for this month.  May’s not over, after all!

Today’s guest post comes from one of my best friends, Aileen Torres.  Aileen was the one mother I approached that I did not have “niche” for.  I just knew I wanted her to share, because whatever she wrote would be insightful.  I am humbled by her honestly and transparency in what she submitted. Motherhood is not always rainbows and butterflies (Thank you, Maroon 5 for that song lyric.) and it’s important that we share our truths with one another–even the hard and brutal ones.

Thank you for sharing, A.  You are a gem in my life.

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womanToday [the day this was written] happens to be my mother’s birthday. For some this will be a mad dash to the phone to be the first to wish mom an exceptional day, but not so for me. It’s not because my mom is deceased. It is because, in many ways, she never really lived. Let me explain.

My mother is a deeply broken woman and because of it my two sisters and I have struggled to connect with her. To clarify, my hesitance is not due to anger or bitterness. I honestly do not know her. I even question if she knows herself. This makes me deeply sad.

Without going into all the sordid details, my mother suffered horrific abuse. Yes, think of the worst case scenario and I promise you she fits it. She was damaged and in many ways still is. Don’t get me wrong, she kept house, we were clean and the lady can cook her tail off, but she was not emotionally available to us. Her trauma caused her to never let us in and we felt it. Boy did we feel it.

In fact it took a group confessional of sorts for us three sisters to realize that we struggle to not only connect with our mother but consequently to also connect with our daughters. Initially I felt relieved that I wasn’t alone but shortly thereafter I felt a crushing pain. My truth was validated and it hurt. Boy did it hurt.

I honestly love my daughters and I am better for having them in my life on so many levels. There is nothing I would not do for them. However, it would be a lot easier for me to shield them from a bullet than to sit down and have a face to face conversation with them. Like my mom, and many families of abuse, abuse is cyclical and I too was a victim. Something in me died as well. If there is anything my mother and I connect with it is this horrible and unspoken commonality.

There are so many areas of my life where God has acted supremely. I have been delivered and set free from so many strongholds many of which were shattered the day I called upon the name of the Lord. However, because of my mom’s brokenness coupled with my brokenness, what should be organic and natural is more of a daily intentional, cognitive, effort to go before the throne of grace and ask my Father to enable me to love my girls the way He wants me to love them and according to their individual needs and unique design. And to be honest, I’m OK with that. If going before God every day is what is required, then going before God every day is what it will be.

Two things I know. I love my mom and wish it could be so much more. I love my girls and trust God that it will be so much more.

I know I was asked to write an encouraging post to all the moms out there and although my words may seem a little heavy to some there may be a few out there who can identify with what I write and find great comfort in my journey.

One of the most liberating feelings is to be truthful and honest about what you feel. Truth is the basis of our faith and the beauty in all this is that my ugly truth combined with His truth makes for an exceptional and exhilarating journey with Him and with others.

*Picture {via}

Celebrate Motherhood: A Guest Post from Christan Causey

supermomSo, here’s the deal. This motherhood thing is not for the weak. We know that, and we all agree. I regularly swing on a pendulum of feelings…one minute I feel as though I’m on top of the motherhood world, the next I am swimming in a sea of mistakes, failures, and weariness.

Supermom…is there such a thing?

I wrote a blog months ago before my third little one was born (entitled, “When I Leave the Room”). I felt compelled to share parts of that blog, along with some additional recently developed thoughts.

Our days are riddled with statuses, articles, blogs, and more that try to tell us who to be as mothers. What is best for our children? What will make them the most healthy and successful as they grow? If you are anything like me , you regularly become overwhelmed with the need to be supermom.

And, what really does supermom look like? I don’t know that I have figured it out. But, through social media and the internet, the information with which we are inundated tries to convince us of their perception and understanding of supermom. We are desperately grasping at every trend – seeking to know how to be “the best mom we can be.”

Stay at home? Work from home? Eat healthy! Be green! Crafts, crafts and more crafts! 10 perfect discipline tools! Follow these 5 steps to make your kids genius’ before they enter kindergarten! Extracurricular activities are a must for the successful child. How to raise a happy child. 7 Signs your child loves you. And so much more!

I mean, really, these are just a few headlines. Slap “failure” on my forehead and take my children away. How can I be a supermom when there are some days that the last thing I am worried about is if my child is happy? Rather, it’s trying to keep myself from either locking them or myself in the closet. (Of course, I would never do either.) And let’s forget the eating healthy and going green, I hate to cook and love to take full advantage of my child’s love for Sonic.

Did you know that you can search “mother’s guilt” online, and come up with millions of results? Why? Because it is actually a common condition. We mothers are so hard on ourselves.

Imperfection and failure have often been my friends as I raise my three sweet children under 5yrs old. I nodded vigorously, I am sure along with thousands of other moms, when I saw the movie, “Mom’s Night out”. The main character battles these feelings of “not enough”. Yep, understand that.

I’m sorry if I got your hopes up, but despite my blog title, I do not know the perfect path to becoming a supermom. BUT, I am learning a few things. God has and continues to reveal truth to me in regards to this idea of supermom. These truths continue to bring peace, joy, and a much needed confidence to my journey of motherhood. Most of all, He is pulling me away from our society’s worldview of supermom. I have become very choosy about the magazines, articles, posts and more that I read or allow to penetrate my heart.

Here are the things I have learned, and am still learning…

Measure Yourself Against God’s Word

Proverbs 31 is a familiar passage of scripture that we use in reference to motherhood. But let’s read it closely; this Godly woman had many qualities. She worked outside of the home (GASP), she also worked inside of the home (GASP, really you can do both and still be a good mom?), she was filled with joy, strength, confidence, wisdom, intelligence and more. She was responsible and dependable. She was a woman chasing after God. She not only provided for her household, but she watched over the household.

Let me point out it says nothing about specifics…what she did to arrive at those results. Just simply that how she lived her life resulted in these qualities. I believe that God shows each of us individually what our “specifics” are and how we AS AN INDIVIDUAL can reach the result of the above qualities. And I also believe that it will come through God’s guidance, wisdom and His Word. NOT societies opinions…including those of your family and friends.

Love God, Be Healthy, and Take Care of Yourself

As a person of faith, I am confident about at least one thing that causes us to be supermom in our children’s eyes. That we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. And that we do whatever is necessary to be healthy and balanced in our soul, mind, spirit and body (1 Thess 5:23). If we do these two things, I believe God will give us wisdom and strength to be the supermom HE has called us to be.

I recently ended a year long journey in counseling. And what began as a journey for grief recovery (for the loss of my mom and dad) has now turned into a healing of the depths of my soul. A need of healing that I could never have understood or known if God had not used his Holy Spirit to pair me with someone that professionally knew how to weave through the cobwebs of my soul. I asked God at the beginning to search my heart and show me what needed to be “made new”. Boy, did he.

There were many discoveries made. Amongst them was my need for perfection, my battle with mother’s guilt, and my major unrealistic self-imposed expectations. I also learned and accepted that my mom failed me in many ways, just the same as I have already failed, and will continue to fail my children. However, because of God’s grace these discoveries were game changers for me. I received the tools I needed to apply truth and operate in that truth, rather than operating in lies and unrealistic expectations. And hopefully, I will do my part to be balanced and healthy – so my children receive what I believe is the best mom. Only you and God know what you need to do to be healthy, but whatever it is, I encourage you to fight for health in all areas of your life.

Finally, take time to give yourself what you need to be rejuvenated and refreshed. Pamper yourself, celebrate the victories, and do things regularly just for you. Things that will bring you energy and life. For me, it is time alone, time for creativity, and time for working in ministry. Again, everyone is different, but discover what it is for you and fight for it.

Live in Grace

Give yourself grace. Receive God’s sweet grace. Move in and through it. In grace, you will find strength and joy to rise above failures, weariness, and uncertainty. Abandon self-imposed expectations, and clothe yourself in His grace. Know that you are “His beautiful work, created to do good things” (paraphrased from Ephes. 2:10). And each day as you simply love your children, you are doing great and beautiful work. Remember that “His grace is all you need, for His power works best in our weakness”. (2 Cor. 12:9)

I have included a video to the song, “When I Leave the Room” by Natalie Grant. I love it. It’s my heart. I have made already thousands of mistakes, but “when I leave the room” I leave my babies with Jesus and I do my best.

My mom made a million mistakes with me (I am sure yours did too), some small and some big. But one thing I can say about her is that “when she left that bedroom and entered eternity” she left me with a love and knowledge of a Heavenly Father that would carry me through. I remember sitting there with her the day she passed “fingers intertwined” – my heart crying out in pain. Yet, knowing she was leaving me with the faith I would need to continue on. She did the main things right, and I hope my children can say the same thing about me.

You can read more about Christan’s story and who she is by clicking here. She would love to hear about your ups and downs as a mom, and how God is giving you grace to not just survive – but THRIVE! Visit her blog at www.gracefindsme.com.

Email subscribers, click here: “When I Leave the Room” by Natalie Grant

*Picture via

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Christan is my best friend’s sister, but to me I consider her a friend as well!  I approached Christan because she is the mom to three very young children and I wanted to know what that was like.  (Hint, not easy!)  Her faith encourages me and I pray her words and blog will encourage you too.  Thanks for sharing, Christan!

Celebrate Motherhood Series: A Guest Post from Sarah Cooney

sarah copyChild of God (Galatians 3:26). Sister in Christ (Matthew 12:50). Heir of God (Romans 8:17). Co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). Servant of God (2 Corinthians 6:4). Slave of God (Romans 6:22).

Each identity has indescribable value, honor and equal importance and prestige.

Those are some of the names I go by since the Lord saved me 7 years ago. The list of names I’ve been called has only grown since then. Other names I’m especially fond of being called these past years have been that of bride, wife, mother, mama, mommy, and ‘Moommmmm!’ (for when my 2-year old daughter impatiently tries to get my attention).

All these names and identities make my heart swell with joy and thankfulness, but I would be dishonest if I said this was true 24/7 and 365 days a year.

Before I write any further, please allow me to provide a disclosure that I am no fountain of wisdom. Having only been in the mission field on foreign soil less than a year, I have struggled more than I have strived. I have failed in my attitude of heart and obedience to Christ more times than I can count in all areas, parenting no exception.

Despite all that I’ve been taught and all that I’ve learned, transition and adjustment in a foreign country and culture had been difficult for me. I spent my first couple of months initially blaming the external factors in my life for the struggles I was facing.

Praise be to God, our merciful Father and Savior, did not see it fitting to allow me to remain in such blatant ignorance and sin. He mercifully opened my eyes, and drew my heart to truth and repentance.

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25 NKJV

And that has been an echoing theme in my journey of motherhood and all aspects of my life. Going over and over before the throne in neediness and repentance over my sinful heart and attitude about being a wife, a mother, a sister, and an employer now in a third-world country no less.

Raising a child in a different culture, environment and even climate has been challenging and sacrificial to say the least. Challenging because there is a lack of conveniences here that are so readily available in the United States. There is little to no support system at first, no friends, no family to help. Life is also unpredictable, you never know exactly when to wash and dry your clothes because it is completely dependent on weather. And it is sacrificial because being on the mission field has meant missing Grammie, Mimi, Poppop, Aunts, Uncles, holidays and birthdays together.

However, the Lord has also afforded us many privileges while we have been here in South East Asia and one of which happens to be that my physical responsibilities have been greatly eased. I have a wonderful house helper who comes to help me with chores and cooking on weekdays. We can afford to send our little girl to a Christian play-group with other children her age (though the occasional outbreak of hoof and mouth is no picnic!). Getting help to fix things around the house doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and we get to eat fresh organic produce daily at a fraction of what it costs in America.

So why do I struggle, you ask? It is my heart. My stubborn, fleshly heart, which the Lord has shown me these past months refuses to submit to being called one name in particular.

Slave. Slave of God, slave to Christ.

No rights. No demands. No entitlements. Just duty.

You know your heart is twisted in some sinful way when the word of God offends you. The passage on the undeserving slave in Luke 17:7-10 did that to me. I was offended. How could Jesus say such an inconsiderate thing? Doesn’t he know how tired and exhausted that slave would be after a long day of toiling in the field? How could he say that it is only the slave’s duty?!

I am so thankful to be saved. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit doesn’t leave me to my pride and ignorance. In time and after pondering over that text over and over again, referring to commentaries, and discussing with my ladies’ group, all while asking myself what that meant to me as a wife and mother, it finally hit me.

We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.”

I have no rights, and no entitlements.

When I wake in the morning to serve my family until I lay my head on my pillow at night (sometimes multiple times at night), I have no rights. No entitlements. When my daughter has a febrile seizure one night and pneumonia the rest of the week in the midst of my terrible morning sickness, I don’t get to indulge in hour long breaks thinking “I deserve this.” I need to come to completely embrace that my real rest and reward sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and that is more than I could ever imagine.

As a friend of mine pointed out to me this morning, a slave waits on his/her master continually. Even when there seems to be breaks, she is on alert, knowing that she would be called to duty at any time. When my girl is taking her nap and I’m sitting enjoying some quiet time, I know I still have to be “on call” in case she walks out with a wet diaper or her dry cough keeps waking her. Nevermind the fact that in the midst of writing this post, I have been interrupted more times than I can count.

The doule [feminine form of the Greek word for slave] knows that any break or rest she gets is a blessing and a privilege in this life and it’s called grace. Glorious grace!

My offended heart so quickly forgot that though I am a slave, I am a slave to Christ. The Christ. I was purchased and now am owned by Jesus whose blood redeemed me from oppressive slavery to sin and the law. The same Christ who preached  “take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your selves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” in Matthew 11:28-30. The same Christ who Himself descended from Heaven, made himself to become nothing, becoming a slave, coming to serve and not be served, modeling to us what it means to perfectly submit to the wishes of his Master.

This Jesus is the good, kind, and loving master. He doesn’t abuse his power but instead showers us with privileges beyond our own selfish expectations in the midst of our duty.

Murray J. Harris comments profoundly, “It is Christ’s voluntary role as God’s doulos [bond-servant] that prevents the Christian’s slavery from being a distasteful experience and makes it a privilege and honour.”

Much like being a mom, right?

I want to end my thoughts with the words by someone else more experienced and wise on the topic of motherhood and entitlements. Lisa-Jo Baker in her recent blog post this Mother’s Day, writes:

Entitlement believes that we know best, deserve the best, and resents the rest who don’t deliver.

Entitlement takes the sacrifice of motherhood and spins it in dizzying, disorienting circles.

Motherhood bends. Entitlement demands.
Motherhood serves. Entitlement stomps its foot.
Motherhood delights. Entitlement keeps lists.
Motherhood laughs. Entitlement whines.
Motherhood celebrates. Entitlement sulks.
Motherhood forgets itself in favor of remembering her dimple, his fastest mile, their mouths all ringed around with chocolate.

Entitlement tastes bitterness in every bite of a day that doesn’t go as planned.

And that is my prayer. I pray that as I celebrate the freedom, honor, privileges and joy I have in being a child and heir of God, sister and co-heir with Christ, I will mother my children and serve my husband with the humility and Christ-like duty of a servant and slave of God. Because that is what I’ve been called to and it is a privilege to do.

“I am a good-for-nothing slave, but O’ how marvelous is my Master!”

Sarah is a wife to a wonderful missionary husband, Kevin, and grateful mother to Adalia and a baby boy due in October. As a family, they are currently immersed in language and culture acquisition on an island in South East Asia with the goal of serving remote unreached people groups. Their chronicles as a family can be followed at their blog The Cooney Tribe. They are commissioned by To Every Tribe and New Hyde Park Baptist Church in Long Island, New York. 

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Note from Lis: I approached Sarah because not only is she a mom to a young child and pregnant with her second, but she is doing this journey while serving as a missionary in a foreign country!  Her posts on Facebook are always so encouraging to me and I really wanted to tap into where she drew her strength from as I could not imagine how difficult it is to walk this road when you leave everything you know behind.  Thank you for sharing, Sarah.  You blessed me greatly!