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}

4th grade.

Dear Fourth Grade,

We are three weeks and two days into our relationship, and I feel we’ve now reached the point where I can be honest about how I felt when you finally came around.

I was scared of you.

Actually, I should just go ahead and be completely honest and say I’m still quite apprehensive.

You see, it wasn’t so much the additional homework, reports, and studying for quizzes and tests that frightened me.  No, third grade gave me a good dose of reality when it came to all those things and how no one tells you in those fancy parenting books that you actually will repeat each grade level multiplied by however many children you have.

It’s the memory of how much fourth grade began to change me and thus it makes me want to stick my baby big boy back in a stroller and go back to a time when I had complete control over your comings and goings.

I remember vividly my second grade end-of-year gift.  (You know, because I had a mom who did that sort of stuff.)  It was a gold-colored chrome doll cradle and I cannot tell you enough the delight in brought me for hours upon hours that summer.  It’s one in which I practiced mothering quite hard, surely realizing–perhaps unintentionally–how one day learning those instincts to protect and nurture my baby dolls would actually be of resource one day.

And third grade, the following year, resembled the innocence of a little girl being gifted a doll’s cradle.  Third grade was still about who got the latest Barbie, believing the tooth fairy really did put that money under your pillow, and all the other tales naive little 8 & 9-year-olds may still believe.

But then came the last day of third grade.  And I was gifted a Nintendo.  Which in today’s world does not seem out of place, but in that moment…there was a shift that took place.  The little girl who just one year before craved dolls, now was blossoming–for better or for worse–into a pre-teen who wanted what was popular and current in the culture.  She wanted what her friends had.

Baby dolls were strewn aside in favor of compact discs and posters on the walls of her room of the latest boy band craze.

In 4th grade, I began noticing boys noticing me.  I liked it.  I even wrote a poem about a boy for a school assignment.  I started talking on the phone, not doing my work, and generally acting the fool.  Not all at once.  But that 4th grade girl became the 5th grade girl, the 6th grade girl, the junior high/high school girl who all of a sudden was thrown into a world where she was growing up way too fast.

I long for the innocence of that sweet summer day when my only care was for a Cabbage Patch Doll I laid to sleep.

The year between 3rd and 4th grade changed me so much and I just don’t want you to do that to my amazing little boy.

I know I cannot protect him entirely from being exposed to what this world has to offer.  I know I must do my part to counter it with the truth of what God does.  And yet, I try.  I encourage the train track building and box car races because they are keeping him young.  But I dread the day those are traded in for more mature accessories.  I love the growing up. I dread the growing up.  It is the great paradox of motherhood.

So, fourth grade, you’ve been good so far.  But I know the changes are not noticed in the day-to-day happenings.  It’s in a day in the future that is coming when I’ll look back and see how different things are.  How different he is.  And I’ll miss this time.

So please don’t taint my baby boy, fourth grade.  He’s got a sweet innocence to him and so much faith still in this world and while I know it cannot last forever, I’d like some more time.

And I am grateful for chances to sit down and do fourth grade all over again with him.  I pray I will help him navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and not allow him to make the same the mistakes I did by focusing on what was not good for me instead of being the best version of myself.

And one last request, fourth grade.  If you could ease up on the math difficulty, I’d really appreciate it.  You’re making me feel a little bit dumb.

Love,

This Fourth Grade Mom

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This could have been its own separate post, but it felt fitting to tuck this photo and memory into this entry as documentation of what this school year has been about.  I went into this school year with a new attitude: to not worry so much about the expectations of the school.  Rather, we would have a homeschool-type of environment while we were…home.  I say I dislike and don’t agree with homework at this age level but then I place so much stress and importance on it and it stresses my son out.  It’s not fair to do that.  The weight of the world does not need to be on his shoulders at age 9-and-a-half.  Sure, we do our best to get assignments done.  But if there comes a night where it doesn’t happen?  Oh, well.

We’re working on being neat.  But it does not need to be to my standard of perfection.

We are trying to stay organized. But it can be his way, not mine.

This photo was a moment in time I wish to cherish forever of the reminder of how sweet it can be when we just relax, breathe, and let go.

Sitting in our living room next to an open window with the most amazing breeze doing our work.  Me, the mom, just sitting there for support.

As much as I love all types of music, classical has always been way down there on the list. But now?  Now, I put it on as we are doing our work; softly in the background its melodies sooth and bring peace and calmness into the atmosphere.  I highly recommend it.

My calmness affects him greatly.  I see it now, and wish I had gotten to this point so much sooner.  I’m learning to not take things so seriously, yet balancing it with the goal of teaching responsibility and self-reliance.  My attitude is different and it has brought peace.  He had matured so much just a few short weeks.  I’m amazed at how different, but how much better, things are this year so far.

I looked across the table at this amazing little being I get to help raise.  And I had to document that moment.

Let’s see what the balance of this school year looks like. 🙂

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