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Just a Stage of Life Story

My body was very warm on this near freezing Pacific Northwest wintry morning. Quickly and cautiously, I slammed the minivan's trunk door shut, as many wrong movement would result in starting over again ...opening the door and completely rearranging the over flowing trunk of groceries so nothing would topple out of the car. My 4-month old baby was starving and my 1-year old son's nap was overdue. I knew their crying was just the beginning; their volume and irritability levels would escalate very soon. Although two of my four kids in the grocery cart were happy, the other two had my adrenaline at full throttle putting me in a panic rush to get home. I knew I was pushing it by making this one last stop to the grocery store this day, but the thought of packing everyone up in the car again for one more trip made it worth the risk. All morning, I raced against the clock by bee-lining to this week's essentials, mindful at all times of my four sitting time bombs. I carried my now screaming one year old out of the cart into the car to change his more than full diaper, and mindful of my baby who was now also crying hysterically, barely pausing for breaths. Just at that moment, an understanding grandmother-type women came over in a leisurely manner and smiled as she offered me some well-meaning "big picture" advice -- which happened to be the third time I heard it that morning -- "They grow up so quickly, enjoy them while you can!" I knew it was just a stage of life.

I was routinely stopped by kind and sociable strangers on our errands. I would get questions from "Are you running a preschool?" to "Are they all from the same father?" Our oldest was four and the other three were in diapers, they were all spaced 18 months apart (by God) from each other. Because of this arrangement, I had been sleep-deprived soon after I was welcomed into parenthood. There was never a dull moment on the home front. A sample moment, just a stage of life, might look like this: While I finally sat down to feed the baby his bottle, one child who was being potty trained wouldn't quite make it to the bathroom, while another child would need comforting having just thrown up all over himself and his surroundings. To add to our busyness, after our second child was born, I was diagnosed with a serious illness that took me in and out of different hospitals and clinics. And, right about the same time, my husband took a leave from his job to go to seminary and we moved five times in the less than three years.

Children are special gifts from God. Sometimes it seems difficult to enjoy God's gifts in the midst of all that life has dealt us. One night, I came across a Bible passage that brought me to tears. It was Isaiah 40:11 (NIV), and it says,

"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young."

This picture was beautiful. I took the last part of the verse as a special message of love for me, a young mother. Because I was emotionally worn out and broken, I could feel God's comfort and affirmation filling each crevice of my soul.

God will embrace us in His Loving arms and supply strength and wisdom if we as Him for it, in any stage in life, whether busy or quiet. He gently and lovingly tends to our needs, and provides necessary stamina and grace so we can fulfill our God-appointed responsibilities and priorities. Psalms 23:2,3 states He leads His sheep beside green pastures and quiet waters, and restores our souls. He wants us to be replenished, not having to give to others "scrapings out of a near empty cup". We can love our children to a greater degree, whether they are physically nearby or not, if our own cups are replenished regularly.

Frequently, I would carry one crying baby to the living room, while two others cried in the background, so I could look out the window, take some deep breaths, and then go back to being a mom. It felt like I was coming up for air, no words would form from my heart or my mouth, but I hoped that God knew and would carry me through five minutes at a time.

Every stage in life presents different challenges, some may seem humanly impossible to resolve or take on. We are not meant to meet these challenges alone. I believe these are special opportunities to draw us closer to God, so we can experience His Mercies that are new every morning for us, depend on His strength and wisdom to get through these hardships successfully, and ultimately give Him the glory.

Now, my kids are ages 4 to 8, life is still full, but they are all out of diapers and I'm all caught up with my sleep. I realize now that those years of early parenting -- feeling completely exhausted physically -- is a stage of life that passes. Since the kids are so close in age, they are built-in playmates for each other and keep each other entertained and occupied. Praise God that He is in divine control!

I thank God for continuing to draw me to that window many times a day, as He breathes new life into me. He is the only one who can give -- perfect wisdom in decisions and setting daily priorities, and unconditional love and renewed passion for my daily tasks -- so I can enjoy what He has given me, while I can.

This Just a Stage of Life story
was written by Debbie Wolf.

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