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Tattered Tapestries: Weaving Trust Through the Chaos

[Reprinted from Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting by L.R.Knost. Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and StagesWhispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood; and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline by L.R.Knost also available on Amazon and through other major retailers.]

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

~~~~~~~

baby mommy handsThe old preacher’s slightly shaky voice and once-hearty arthritic hands spoke of life and experience and hard-won wisdom as he held up a dusty tapestry with the back facing us. The tangle of threads that seemed to go nowhere and the snarl of multicolored knots gave no hint of the picture on the other side. “This is what we see,” he said. Then he turned the tapestry around to display the intricate, painstakingly crafted, exquisite picture on the front side. “And this is what God is doing.” He looked around the room, a kind and gentle understanding in his age-dimmed gaze. “Faith is trusting that your Father’s hands are carefully weaving a beautiful life’s story, even when all you can see is chaos.”

I remember this story often when life feels overwhelming, when big things like layoffs and sicknesses hit, and when small things like cranky toddlers, piles of laundry, and broken refrigerators annoy. What feels to me like an endless cycle of dishes and diapers, punctuated by the odd disaster, must look like brilliant threads of golden perseverance, scarlet sacrifice, and soft blue-grey shades of faith, all woven tenderly into my life’s tapestry by my Father’s skillful hands.

I imagine life feels this way to my children, as well. They may not see the picture I am trying to weave as I teach and guide and nourish and encourage them to grow into the beautiful humans they were created to be.

They may not understand why they’re gently redirected when they try to crawl up the stairs or why bugs don’t make a good afternoon snack. They may not be able to fathom why their new dragonfly ‘pet’ can’t live in the house or why they can’t hide in “the best hiding place EVER” in a hot car on a steamy Florida afternoon. They may not be entirely thrilled with the agreement on no laptops in their rooms or no cell phone in their tween years, and they may not fully get why the mall is not a safe hangout spot and why periodic texts to check in when out with friends are part of our family dynamic in their teen years.

As my children grow old enough to participate in the decision making, though, we share our thoughts about these things, discuss them together, and come up with mutually agreed upon boundaries. While these things may seem like meaningless threads or even unnecessary knots and tangles in their lives, the trust that we share helps them to accept and cooperate with what they may not fully understand, knowing that I have a purpose for each of these things even if they can’t see it.

It is that trust, that faith in my motives, my wisdom, my love, that makes gentle parenting possible. I don’t have to ‘lay down the law’ or enforce ‘rules’ with punishments or ‘control’ my children with threats or intimidation because they know that I have their best interests at heart and that I will always, always listen to their concerns, even if I can’t change things or give them what they want.

I start building that trust from the moment my children are born and continue building it throughout their childhood. I respond quickly, consistently, and with empathy to their cries or whines or troubles whether they are eight days, eight years, or eighteen years old. I meet their needs as fully as I am able, whether those needs are a clean diaper, a full belly, a listening ear, or a warm hug. I try to always respond gently and thoughtfully to their behaviors, whether they are having a meltdown, whining, tattling, questioning, or even challenging me.

And, perhaps most importantly, I’m honest about my own imperfections. I’m willing to apologize when I make one of my many human parenting mistakes, and I don’t expect perfection from my equally human children.

Motherhood is very simple to me. It’s a gift to me, but it’s not about me. I’m the one who chose to bring these little people into the world, so the pervading belief in our modern culture that somehow they have the responsibility to fit into my life, and work around my schedule, and not disrupt my pursuits completely mystifies me. They aren’t interlopers; they are guests, invited guests. And how do we treat our guests? Do we ignore their needs or make incomprehensible demands on them or ridicule, name-call, and hit them when they misstep? Of course not. We welcome our guests with special dinners, make accommodations for their needs, and forgive their lack of knowledge of our ways. And our children deserve no less. In fact, they deserve much more.

In our home, when our newest little invited guests arrive, they are welcomed with open arms that are always available, day or night. They are provided nature’s best provision for their nutritional needs. And they are gently guided by example and lovingly encouraged to become a part of a healthy family dynamic. In short, when I invite these little people into my life, it stops being my life, and it becomes our lives.

Parenthood is, very simply, a beautiful sacrifice that mothers and fathers willingly and lovingly live for their Jesus the Gentle Parent final front coverchildren, day after day, night after night, as a reflection of the sacrifice Jesus made for his children on the Cross. Parenthood is a lovely, lively retelling of the Cross played out in the arms of mamas and daddies, again and again and again.

Consider the young mother who gives up night after night of sleep to soothe her little one’s cries, or the middle aged man who still gets up before dawn each day to provide for his family, or the elderly parents who give up the peace of their golden years to welcome the child of their youth back into their home when life hits hard. This laying down of self, this giving up of comforts and rights and dreams, these are losses, sacrifices, even hardships, but they are lovely, beautiful beyond belief. Their loveliness lies in the soft warmth of a sleepy baby with a full belly and a trusting heart. Their beauty lies in the joyful chaos of a messy, noisy, welcoming family to come home to each night. Their beauty lies in the spark of hope in the tear-filled eyes of a weary adult whose life has turned dark, but who finds that home is still a safe refuge.

My children, all six of them, are precious gifts straight from God’s heart to my home. I have had other precious gifts, babies whom God gave for a time to fill my womb, but who weren’t meant to fill my arms, and one He gave to fill my arms for a just a moment in time, but who wasn’t meant to stay. My stillborn son, Sammy’s, birthday is in just a few weeks. While he’s always in my heart, as his birthday approaches my heart tightens in my chest a bit more each day until the ache becomes almost unbearable, and then finally the day comes and goes and I can breathe again.

These times always make me wonder how tragedy must look from Heaven’s side. I wonder about my Sammy, and I wonder about my other lost babies, gone before they even had birthdays. What colors did they add to my story? What eternal beauty did they bring that would have made my tapestry incomplete if they had not come and gone, so heartbreakingly briefly, into my life? While I feel holes in my heart, one for each much-wanted child, and an aching cavern of loss for my Sammy, would my life have been complete without them?

I can’t answer these questions. I won’t even try. But I imagine that is where faith stretches its silken blue-grey threads across my story like the fragile gossamer wings of a butterfly. Each one of them brought with them the unique knowledge of how breathtakingly exquisite every living, breathing child is and how priceless and fragile and brief life itself can be. I do not take this knowledge lightly. I have learned to treasure the moments of life with my children. I’ve learned that it’s not about me; it’s about us. And I’ve learned that sacrifice lights up the dark places in the world, making it a more beautiful place for all of us to live.

Life is messy. No one has all the answers, at least not earth-side. But we can all trust that this sometimes bewildering, sometimes joyful, sometimes flat-out painful chaos called life has meaning and purpose and beauty beyond the scope of human sight. And as we carefully and gently weave the strands of our children’s days into a beautiful childhood, we can trust that our Father is thoughtfully and tenderly doing the same for us.

“Now we see through a glass darkly; then we shall see clearly, face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Related posts:

Fear Doesn’t Lead to Faith: Becoming Your Child’s Safe Place

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

The Problem with Punishment

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Bridge Over Troubled Waters~Parenting a ‘Problem’ Child

200 Ways to Bless Your Children with a Happy Childhood

Breastfeeding: Manna from God

Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.


A September to Remember: Too Beautiful for Earth~Heaven’s Newest Angel Baby

As I wrap up ~A September to Remember~ with such a grateful heart to all my friends who shared their ‘vintage treasures’ with me, I’ve chosen a final few posts to share as a lead in to October’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Here is a touching post from Theresa at NurturingtheNaturalMama. Be aware that loss is discussed. Be blessed, mamas.
 

Some say they are too beautiful for this Earth, others say they are so special God hand picks them as his Angels… however you phrase it, Heaven has it’s newest Angel Baby… mine. 

 

The Doctor said I had been “struck by lightening twice”- I have now conceived twice while on the pill. And I get it, with so many women who struggle with infertility out there, how is it that someone like me conceives TWICE on the pill? I have no idea. First time I can chalk it up to perhaps imperfect compliance, this time-  I have no explanation. Nonetheless, it happened.

So just as anyone who thought they were being “safe” that finds out they’re pregnant would do, I freaked. I had a complete and utter panic attack. I have a nine month old, I’m still on medication for PPD (the label for which says it can cause birth defects), I’ve been taking the pill, and drinking alcohol! EEK! So I go to the Doctor, who draws some blood… assures me I’m probably early enough where it won’t matter… and talks me down of my stress-cliff. I go home more self assured and semi- ready to try and explain this to my husband.

Needless to say, by the next day the thoughts have sunk in and we’re ready to dig in our heels and make our growing family fit into our tiny apartment, and even spent well into the night before chatting about names and the other idle chit chat that goes along with the beginning stages of pregnancy.

That’s when we got the call.

I would need my bloodwork rechecked the following day at my OBGYN’s office. When my OB called, the conversation started with “I am so sorry…”

What?! You’re sorry about what???….

My HCG levels had dropped, and I was told if I hadn’t already, I was having a miscarriage.

“This is not a viable pregnancy.”  What does that even mean? Simple translation: Your baby is dead. Now I get it, to some this seems dramatic- especially for someone who was probably only 6- 8 weeks pregnant. But my baby’s heart was beating. My baby was alive, and is now dead. 

The few family members we had told have attempted to console us with the ever popular “something just wasn’t right”, or “your body just wasn’t ready”, or “everything happens for a reason”- and while I can appreciate all of that, it still means my baby is gone.  And what makes me feel the worst, is that s/he was so tiny at such an early gestation…. I get a lump in my throat even just THINKING about typing this… that s/he probably got…. gulp….. flushed down the toilet.

I, for all intents and purposes, could have flushed my baby down the toilet.

This devastates me most of all.

But the biggest lesson I have learned from all of this, is that miscarriage is such a silent and lonely struggle. You don’t tell anyone because you don’t want people to think you’re just seeking pity, but then everyone around you is going on with their daily lives, talking about the night out with friend A, or their trip to the bar with friend B, and you were just told your baby is dead. And no one ever knew your baby even existed.

How do you get support? Who do you talk to? You’re certainly not going to go around asking ‘hey, have you had a miscarriage? I just did and I’m not sure what to do next’.

I have at least found the following links which have either brought some peace/support to me, or I feel could help others:

My Forever Child: Memorial Jewelry

We Were Gonna Have a Baby, but we Had an Angel Instead

Bethany’s Baby from Bethany’s blog

And I have found much needed solace in my husband, and in our Church. And tonight, as I rocked my baby A to sleep, I held her a little tighter, kissed her forehead a bit longer, drew in a deeper breath of her warm baby smell, waited for her own breathing to even, and then laid her down and watched…. and then did what I haven’t done in … well, I think my whole life… I prayed. I prayed to whoever this God is, that my other babies stay safe. And that I wanted to thank Him SO much for the blessings I DO have in my life. My two existing, healthy, happy babies… my wonderful husband.. my beautiful step daughter… my family…. my friends…

and then I asked Him, pretty please, if He could just take tonight, to rock my baby to sleep…

 

Thanks for Theresa for sharing, and don’t forget to check out her site at NurturingtheNaturalMama!

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.


Wishes Week 2011~Wrapping it up & putting a bow on top!

  

Thank you to all of my awesome guests this week for Wishes Week 2011! You gave me a very special birthday gift I will never forget by sharing your wishes with me. Here’s a ((hug)) for each one of you! And now, the ‘wrap up’~

 

 Glimpses My opening contribution to Wishes Week 2011~Glimpses of hope and healing

 

 

 

 

Meanderings by Rosemary Jones Gritty urban prose by one of my favorite writers…powerful!

 

 

My Parenting Wish: Through A Child’s Eyes  A beautifully intimate look at compassionate parenting by The Hippie Housewife. Love this!

 

 

Birth Wishes Thank you to Becoming Crunchy for this powerful and heartfelt look at birthing options and empowering women…awesome!!!

 

I wish that I were the Mother that I play at the grocery store.  Here is a quirky look at the realities of mommyhood by Jessica, author of Parenting Wild Things!

 

 

“What I Wish Every Mother Knew About Babies and Sleep” This wins the prize for most viewed post of the week from Adventures in Mommyhood over at Instinctual Mamas. This is a passionate, informative, and convicting article on meeting babies’ needs gently. Beautiful!

 

 

Mommy Wishes From one Mommy’s heart to yours~Mommy Wishes by The Mom: Informed

 

 

 

When God says ‘No’ ~ Wishes Week 2011 

~My closing post for Wishes Week~

 

 

Thank you to everyone who joined me for Wishes Week 2011! Your comments and ‘presence’ (lol) were much appreciated!

L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.


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