Here I Raise My Ebenezer

memorial stones for our three arrows
We've had three positive pregnancy tests in the last 8 years, and I cried over every one. Maybe every woman does. Our hormones are confused, and pregnancy is some pretty major news to receive from a pee-soaked stick.

I've already shared a little on the circumstances surrounding our first pregnancy. That Clear Blue "Pregnant" announcement sent me into a confused laugh-cry in the stall of the girls' dorm bathroom.

Two years later, after our wedding, college graduations, and a salary, we decided maybe it was time to start trying for that second baby. So that news shouldn't have been too much of a shock. Except that the pee proved positive on the same day we got news of a job loss. Hello, tears. It was supposed to be different this time.

Almost three years later, we went back and forth on the family planning discussion. Tight finances and stress over the two kids we already had made having another seem a little careless and irresponsible. I came around to calling it quits on our baby-havin' days and got our third positive that same month. Tears were familiar by this point as Psalm 127 became my new mantra that we were blessed to have our hands full of kids.

I share this because right there is where the seeds of our family were planted. Psalm 127:4 says that children of ones youth "are like arrows in the hands of a warrior." I've always pictured that to be a brave and heroic analogy. Until recently. I noticed the similarities in the rash, impulsive warrior-like way we've jumped into this whole parenthood thing. And the ways it plays out on a daily basis.

Last week I had just such a warrior-like "day" with the kids. Whenever I talk about these after they happen, I can't help but notice my own whinyness and petty complaints. Let's chalk it up to warrior-like parenting in my youth. Some days feel like a war-zone, and I'm not talking about the state of my house.

I can't fully describe the behavior now because it all sounds so trivial. It involved screaming fits and hearing "mommy, mommy, mommy!" literally at least 100 times with the best whine-cry one could muster. The kids all-out fighting in the back seat--hitting, pulling hair, biting, using toys as weapons. Hearing "I don't like you" and "I'm going to punch you" and literal screams our whole way into The Y for swimming lessons. Giving instructions 10 times and still doing it myself because obviously I was losing that day.

The list continues, but those aren't even the issue now. The kids have moved on and it's as if that day never happened for them.

However, that day, like many others, I was a struggling wounded warrior. Phrases like "worst day ever" and "I really don't know if I'll survive" and "I'm not cut out for this" and "I simply can't go on like this" and "I'm seriously about to break/explode" swirled in my head.

Of course, I attempted to counter them with positives and truth. "Trina, stop being over-dramatic. You are going to survive. Just get through the next few moments, you'll feel better." Then something else would happen and it would all start over. My back tensed up, I'd find myself holding my breath, and I prayed we'd all survive.

Later that day, we dropped the kids off at our friend's so we could go on a date. I could still hear "mommy" ringing in my ears. I told Daniel about how several times all I could think was how I wish I could go back to 20-year-old Trina and tell her to not become a mother, that she'd be terrible at it, and her kids would drive her 50 shades of insane, and yell mean things at her, and she should just pursue a career and travel.

It's funny when I look back on it now. But when I shared that confession with Daniel, I broke down because I wanted to take it all back. The tears over positive pregnancy tests, the years at home, the sacrificed sanity. And while I knew I didn't really want to take it all back, there's a piece of me in that moment that did and that broke my heart. For me and for them.

At one point earlier that day, Ian's timeout was over so I asked why he was there. He just screamed "mommy" fast and whiny saying he wanted to tell me something. I said no, we'd finish timeout then he could tell me. He threw another big fit about it, so I walked away. After a while of this, I zoned out and gave up. He was in the hall, still throwing a fit about wanting to tell me something. I gave in and said fine, forget about the timeout, just tell me. He calmed way down, and in a clear voice told me he saw a caterpillar when he was playing at school.

That was it. All he wanted to tell me. He saw a caterpillar and wanted to share that moment with me.

So many things thundered together in that moment. The little rainbow breaks God sends in even the worst days. The patience and calmer approach I need from Him to sustain me when the kids stress me out. The tag-teaming or coming-at-me-all-at-once with the whining and crying and fighting and mommying that makes winning these battles seem impossible.

This parenting in my youth is like an on-edge warrior armed with nothing but a quiver full of spastic arrows and the belief this is all somehow a heritage and reward from the Lord.

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

And so it is in the Kingdom Life. Because it's not about having it good here. It's about the hereafter and what better reward than for my lifework to be a commissioning to train up these little Kingdom Citizens.

That evening, with the mommy-ringing slowly quieting in my ears, I raised my ebenezer. A memorial stone for one day in the future when I'll inevitably forget all of this. I'll have distorted memories of motherhood in my 20s and roll my eyes at my own petty complaints. I'll lean over to other young warrior moms in stores and say naive things like, "Enjoy this! It goes so fast!"

Part of me holds onto the hope that I will forget. That my reward would be the sweet gift of selective amnesia where I hold onto the precious moments and forget the war of it all.

Mostly, though, I don't want to forget. Because forgetting would mean neglecting the ways God has led. Downplaying His call for me, the reward He's given, and the battles we've won in Him. No, I don't want to ever forget until He erases it at His coming.

So "here I raise my ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come." Ebenezer. Stone of Help. Like when Samuel marked the place where God thundered to help them win a battle. Samuel said, "This marks the place where God helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12)

Or when Joshua told the people to carry a stone from the river they just crossed on dry ground so they'd "have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, 'What are these stones to you?'" they'd tell about how God led by His power and say, "These stones are a permanent memorial." (Joshua 4:4-7)

As that day, and others like it (ah hem, today), runs through my head, I pause to raise my ebenezer. A memorial stone, or three, to remember all the ways God has led and continues to lead in our lives. Especially in this warrior-like arrow-filled place called motherhood.

A reminder, one day when the kids are gone and I'm not entwined in their every need, that I was once a warrior with my hands and life and breath overtaken with these three arrows. And by God's grace I'm accepting the heritage and reward of it all--embracing it even, and making it through each battle with Him.

I made a re-commitment that night to God and to this thing we started in our youth and continue for the rest of our lives. My resolve to not send messages back to 20-year-old Trina, but instead be the warrior God sees in me for them. Brave, courageous, maybe a little rash and reckless. But not reckless in the things that matter. Sending those arrows to meet their enemies at the gate. Living courageously with faith in God--loving Him and His people. And training our arrows to live the same.

I'm all in. For these kids. For living this life without regrets. For living with the passion and drive and focus of a God-called warrior. For God and for these arrows awarded as our heritage.


also read:
new? start here...
courageous at home
dear moms: i'm sorry
our wedding story, shame-free