The Artist’s Daughter {Book Review}

Spring 2013 007

Having to take some downtime at the end of this pregnancy has allowed me to finish reading Alexandra Kuykendall’s memoir, The Artist’s Daughter. It’s our new theme book for the upcoming 2013-2014 MOPS year.

I must admit, at first I wasn’t sure what to do with this book. Most of our MOPS theme books are non-fiction pieces that you can underline to your hearts content until the book is in tatters. They are full of treasured quotes and ideas to use for the upcoming year’s theme. But this…well, this book was a memoir. I started pen in hand and quickly found that this wasn’t going to be an underline-every-other-page style book. Instead it turned out to be a tapestry of stories. Mini vignettes that I read quickly, devouring each and eager to read the next.

When I finished it in two days time I sat and pondered. How do I use this book for our MOPS group?

Then it struck me. Life stories. We each have one. Alexandra’s was fascinating for sure, but that was not my life story. That being said, it made me hunger for other women’s stories…other mothers stories.  And I realized that even if this was not my story, I related to much of it. Snippets of seasons of life stood out for me as a mother. I could relate to her post-postpartum depression and not being able to hold her baby right away. I could relate to her judging and feeling judged by other moms. I could relate to her unrealistic expectations as a mother and how God humbly dealt with her in each of those flawed areas.

That’s what this Beautiful Mess theme is all about. We are a mess! Our lives as mothers are tangled up in the mundane messes of everyday life. Fingerprints on windows. Sinks full of dishes. Markers on walls. Toys littering floors. Junk piles on counters and desks. Brimming closets full of too much stuff. We, as moms, battle the daily mess in a very tangible way. But our souls…oh our souls. They are a mess too. Bad habits springing up like weeds trying to choke out the work God is doing in us.

This is where our stories reach hearts. As we talk about our very unique and different paths, we will share common threads of hope with one another. We will relate and rally and pick ourselves up again. We will not give in but instead revel in how our own beautiful mess is being shaped by The One who can turn it into His masterpiece.

This year’s MOPS will not be a neat series of topics in outline form but, instead, threads webbing out in all directions, connecting with one another. I’m excited to see where the year takes us as mothers and as growing disciples of Christ. I think Alexandra’s memoir is the perfect segue from last year’s MOPS theme: Plunge! Last year we explored on how to dig deeper, be more authentic, embrace vulnerability. Well, there is nothing more vulnerable and authentic than our own personal story and sharing that with someone else.

Thank you, Alexandra, for stepping out bravely and speaking words of truth even when they’re not so pretty! Thank you for being vulnerable and authentic with us, your dear readers.

{For those of you who don’t know, MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers and is a wonderful Christian support group for moms during those hardest transition years into motherhood. I would encourage any mother who has never checked it out to find a group in your area. Not only will you get connected to other moms in your own community – and how important is that when you feel like you haven’t had an adult conversation in forever! – but you will also reap the benefits of activities and speakers set up just for you specific to your season of life. Please click the MOPS button on my sidebar to find out more about this wonderful organization and find a MOPS group in your local area.}

For more on Alexandra Kuykendall, visit her blog and facebook page!

And in a moment of my own authentic vulnerability, while I was typing this post here is the beautiful mess my littles were making in the dining room with my bigs sitting right beside them obliviously playing DS games. So much for No Chore Day!

Ivy's Birthday 065

Ivy's Birthday 066

Green Pastures {and the gift of waiting}

Spring 2013 015

I’m laying here in bed trying desperately to rest. This 7th pregnancy has been hard, sure, but I figured I was one tough mom and could push my way through it like all the rest. I have a household to run, homeschool to finish, a garden that needs put in. I’m only extra tired because of the other six precious I am mothering.

Besides I am already the mom who lives the slow life, right? I just gave a Mops talk on it. I practice it. My family is not involved in too many activities. I am a “free range” mamma who gives her kids lots of time to just be a kid and use imaginations and allows play to grow brains and hearts. I make room for lots of white space in my life so that it can naturally be filled with those I most love to be with.

But I heard it this past week. He whispered to me through His word…

s l o w      d o w n

We’ve all heard it…Psalm 23. Yet one part I had to re-read about 10 times.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

I couldn’t shake these words, especially the word “make”.  Why not offer us green pastures? Why does He make me lie down? I think of sheep and their wondering ways. I think of my littles and forcing them to take naps that they need. And I think of my own stubbornness as a mother. Always working, never resting. Equating my activity with measurable productivity. Hadn’t I just warned other moms about making this same mistake?

Spring 2013 004

Spring 2013 003

So, of course, I totally took that same day to lay aside chores and to-do lists and sit in the newly green spring grass with my kids as they played. Right? Wrong. I did think about it as I pushed a reel-mower (our electric motor is on the fritz) and desperately tried to get this beautiful green jungle cut before the rain came in. I thought about nature sketching with my kids and sitting and reading while they played. It did sound nice but I still had things to do before this baby gets here.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

As I went two days later to my 37 week doctor appointment, these words were still swirling in my head. Then I got the news. My blood pressure is up. WAY up. My swelling is abnormal and that is why my fingers feel like they are arthritic. Before I knew it I was having blood drawn and having to collect urine samples for 24 hours and am now on bed rest.

No more chores.

No more walking.

No more gardening.

No more doing.

Only sitting or laying with feet elevated unless I have to use the restroom or eat.

Only waiting.

Waiting to see if this little one inside of me needs to be pulled out right away before catastrophe hits or waiting and resting to make it to that 39th week of induction.

I’ve been given the gift of rest and it feels like torture. I am living that verse right now yet everything in me is still shouting, “But, but, but…”

I am so glad my Heavenly Father makes me rest and gives me Sabbath. He knows that resting is the most “productive” activity I can do right now. So this mother’s day I will desperately try and listen to His wise voice. And when I fail I will remember that my strength is in Him, not in myself and I will lean.



Happy Mother’s Day!