I love how a simple connection with someone can push you headlong into something deeper without even asking your permission.
Like, at a birthday party, how a random question and your off-the cuff answer can simultaneously surprise you and force you to accept the bittersweet truth that you are not the person you once were.
We were deep in conversation about the mother of all topics: scrapbooking.
Six years ago, I had reached my peak as a digital scrapper. I had the latest software and people paid me to teach them how to make beautiful books out of all their precious memories. Some very trusting people asked me to make books for them. I loved every single part of it.
“Are you still scrapbooking?” she asked me.
The simple answer to her simple questions is: No, I haven’t touched any of it in at least two years; the more complicated question she didn’t ask is: “Why not?” That’s the question I asked myself on the way home.
I’m slow to process, and I always think of what I want to say days after the conversation. But this is how I’d answer that question today:
I am not the mom I used to be.
Scrapbooking, in so many ways, helped give me the courage to tell my story. In the same way that teaching fifth graders gave me confidence to lead women of all ages, scrapbooking has been foundational to my calling.
That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but I am a firm believer that God uses anything and everything for our good. And scrapbooking was so very good for me.
The journaling aspect helped me sift through the many parts of a story and decide how those parts fit together. Scanning thousands of images on my computer gave me perspective.
I found it both thrilling and challenging to choose just one word to describe a moment. (I still do!) Then I’d usually explain it all down to the letter in about 100-200 words in a teeny tiny text box, just because.
I met so many good friends and mentors through this hobby of mine. I can’t deny how it prepared me to begin a blog nearly seven years ago. God seemed ok with me doing my thing on that blog for a spell, but I’ll never forget the day He gently reminded me that it was His.
All of it.
The story I thought I owned—yeah, that’s His. My time, my life—even my fears and failures—all of it belongs to Him.
So, here I am… so much has changed, and yet so much hasn’t.
I’m still writing, taking my lead from Him. I’m still doing my best to connect with others using what He gave me. I’m still struggling with the reality of a daily surrender. I still question, and I still doubt.
So, what’s different? I’m more ok with this thing not being about me.
That casual conversation at the birthday party with that precious girl who knew me way back made me realize something huge: I was scared back then.
I would have never in a million years admitted that to you privately or even out loud at all, but I was terrified I’d get it wrong.
Overcompensation fed my fear that I was never enough.
Between my perfectionist, approval-seeking nature and my belief that infertility had disqualified me and made me late to motherhood somehow, I tackled every single challenge, every moment, every part of being a mom with such intensity that it exhausts me to even reminisce about that girl.
Oh, I still struggle. I’d never want to paint a picture that I have arrived or I have it all together, because I don’t. Just ask the people who really know me. Ask the ones living under my roof.
I think I’ve just come to accept myself… flaws and all. I’m good with here, and I’m good with now, and I’m good with the way God continues to change my heart. Because however broken I am, I’m also His.
In the past five years, more than anything, I’ve come to understand more of God’s grace—what it is and how badly I need it. I’ve learned how important it is for my kids to hear me say, “I’m sorry.”
His grace covers my mother fears, my mother failures, and my whole entire mother-load.
No, I’m not scrapbooking anymore, but I’m still sharing my life, my story. I’m still committed to my people. I’m still learning about God’s grace. But my desire to measure my mothering has lost its appeal.
Scrapbooking is a beautiful and meaningful hobby, and not everyone suffers from the same kind of striving that I do, so this is just me being honest… about my struggle.
Scrapbooks were my go-to tool to measure my kids—their growth, their development, their lives. It was my tangible measuring stick of me as a mom.
I’m done chasing some unrealistic poster-expectations of motherhood. These days, I’m clinging to God’s immeasurable grace. Let’s just say, heaps of grace, or as my son says, “pant-loads”! (Borrowed respectfully from his favorite book, Dragons Love Tacos…)
This third child of mine will one day realize that while her brother and sister have a book with almost 100 pages for every year of their life up to age four, the journal I kept on her nightstand as a newborn has dates that lapse over a year.
But, I hope all my children experience the effects grace has had on my mothering… that they feel the warmth and ease of grace’s touch and see the courage it takes this momma to accept grace as she clings to Christ.
Grace gives me the courage to be the mom God says I am.
God is still working all this out in me, and He’ll continue to the day I see Him face to face. I pray Jesus never stops rescuing me from myself. Five years from now, I can only hope that my heart will hold even less of me and so much more of Him.