But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... Eph. 2:13-14

Tuesday, November 28

Asking Forgiveness from an Almost-2-Year-Old

I’m going to try to be very candid with you in this moment.

Parenting two toddlers is not easy work for a sinner like me. It occurred to me tonight that maybe there’s a reason they call it “the terrible twos”, and I realized that we are days away from diving into another year of two (which basically means we’re in it, since so far my kids don’t wait to act their age).

These lives are precious and beautiful and amazing. I have two little humans running around learning how to process a million new things every day. Today they might feel sad about something that they never noticed before in their lives, and have no idea why. Tomorrow they will discover that they can get what they want by force if their opponent is small enough, and have no remorse whatsoever if they leave the other child in tears.

There are days that I feel so on top of this. I connect with my kids. I explain things so well. I discipline lovingly and consistently. I parent like my Heavenly Father parents me.
Okay... actually no. I don’t think I’ve had a single set of 24 hours where that has been the case in my entire 3 years of parenting. I have maybe afternoons or mornings or (most rarely) evenings like that, but I’m not sure I can claim to have whole days like that.

And today, for absolute certain, was not like that.

Because he wouldn’t LISTEN, and he wouldn’t OBEY even once, and nothing I said or did no matter how sweet or angry seemed to make ANY impression on him whatsoever!!!! grrrr

There once were some sheep
Safe on the farm
But one little lamb got loose.
The shepherd went out
And carried him home.
And that little lamb... was you.

And I love you today.
I love you tomorrow.
I love you as deep as the sea.
I love you in joy.
And I love you in sorrow.
You can always come home to me.

Singing to the kids tonight, I was pummeled by some serious conviction. I started out thinking how sad I was that some days my kids just seem determined to do anything but be happy, safe, and respond to my love.

But when I got to this line, I realized that I did not go out into the wilderness to find the heart of my son today. I stood on my back porch screaming out his name and demanding that he come home to me. I did not parent him like my Heavenly Father has parented me. I did not forgive his small debt when I have been forgiven so much more.

Of course he needed training, correction, and discipline. But not from the heart that dealt it out.

I broke down crying as I finished the chorus, and in the dark William asked, “Mommy... get spanking?” And I told him that yes, God had given me a spanking on my heart because I had sinned. And I told my precious children that I had sinned by getting angry at them. That I had done just what I try to teach them not to do by reacting out of anger instead of calming myself down and communicating. I asked them to forgive me, and prayed with them.

And I was scared. Because even though I remember quite clearly that some of the strongest positive impressions growing up for me were when my parents apologized and I got to see first hand what that looked like, it’s hard asking a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old for forgiveness, and hoping that they will still understand that you’re in charge.

God was merciful, though. It was a beautiful moment. They’re so young, but tonight I think they understood more than I ever would have given them credit for.

As a shepherdess of little souls I have so much to learn from the Good Shepherd.

But the good news is that He is more patient with His sheep and more kind to His children than I have ever been. This is holy work, and my High Priest will not leave me unattended in it. Christ is the Lord! Oh praise His Name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Monday, October 30

When your status gets out of control and you remember why you have a blog:

You know something that really encourages me? The fact that troubles in life prepare you for troubles in the future. Seems kind of silly to me. 

But tonight, as I tucked in my Fever Princess and felt that her little body is definitely warmer than normal, and turned on the humidifier for the third night in a row for Prince Respiratory, I realized that the calm I was expressing to them wasn’t masking a deep dread like it has so many times in the past. After almost 3 years of learning how to battle crazy fevers, and almost 2 years of learning how to use a humidifier, I have a slight idea of what to expect from sickness, and a much more definite idea of where the “okay now you can start feeling nervous” line is.

That is a real encouragement to me, because 1. I feel like I’m learning as a mother, which is always good, and 2. I can see how those sleepless nights have not been wasted.
One of my favorite characteristics of my Lord is that He never wastes anything. He makes everything beautiful in its time, and ALL things work together for good for His children.
My life has been good (especially compared to many), but there have been some very rough seasons. Moments like tonight are a sweet reassurance. Like my Father saying, “Yes, you can trust Me for a good ending. See how I have already programmed your brain to use what is bad and hard for good? How much more do you think I’ve prepared the whole universe to use the bad for good?”
And how much more so, since my bad experiences help me in other bad experiences, but in the end every bad experience will be used for a time when bad ceases to exist?!

Also, on a totally different note, how weird is it that my kids’ bodies fight the same virus/bacteria in completely different, yet consistent ways? Mary ALWAYS gets a fever (and it usually gets pretty high), and William ALWAYS gets a cough or heavy congestion. Mary will have a tiny bit of a cough, and William a tiny fever, but invariably they have their favorites and stick to them. So weird, but kind of convenient, I guess?

Saturday, June 17

St. Louis Wishlist

This is silly, but here we go!

We're going to be visiting St. Louis for a short time soon (YAY!!!), and I keep forgetting to write down the things I want to do while we're there. So I thought, hey, why not just make a public list of every wish that comes to mind?

Like I said, silly.

In no particular order, with no expectation of doing most of them:

• Go to the Zoo
• Eat toasted ravioli
• Hike at Pickle Springs
• See Wonder Woman with Mom and have that Wonder Woman ice cream from Coldstone
• Get a brownie from Pint-Sized Bakery
• See the Arch/Renovated Riverfront
• Go to the Drive-In
• Visit Little Mexico on Cherokee Street to see what it feels like to visit now
• Go Contra Dancing a the Monday Club
• See a show at The Muny
• Roast hotdogs and make s'mores with loved ones
• Go to a Cardinal's baseball game
• Get St. Louis merch, because we're tourists now!
• Get some Pappy's BBQ

Thursday, June 16

Blueberry Muffins

My kitchen has been clean for going on three days straight. I'm pretty sure that means I've nailed this stay-at-home mom thing. Just ignore that mountain of laundry that needs to be folded (at least it's clean!), and every other room in the house for that matter.

Illustration of William dropping Cheerios
The euphoria brought on by having a clean kitchen (which pretty much consists of following my 6-month-old with a broom as he scoots around in the walker scattering half-eaten cheerios like he's a sower planting a cheerio field) gave me this crazy notion that my 18-month-old daughter and I should make some blueberry muffins (because that is way more fun than folding laundry). We were recently given a little apron her size, and that has turned into some fun "mommy's helper" times, such as "rinsing" dishes and putting all of the dirty laundry into a hamper (also known as a box, because all of our laundry baskets are full of clean clothes at the moment).

It was great! Slow, tedious, and full of floury messes and rescuing of little feet from Brother's walker, but it really was fun for both of us.
So much fun that I thought, "Hey, I should take pictures and blog about this, like one of those super cool mommy blogger people."

Our "healthy" blueberry muffins took 20 minutes to bake, which gave us enough time to wash the dishes (creating a huge puddle of water) and get very crabby and tired.


Also, every time I pick up a camera I remember what a lousy photographer I am when Billy isn't around. It's a lot like math was back in the day. Going over the lesson with Mom always made sense, but when faced with the problems on my own my brain would scream and run away.

So the sun stopped shining perfectly through the windows in those 20 minutes.
William grew more and more tired, and began ramming into everyone's feet as he whined.
Mary began to grow tired, and REALLY wanted one of those muffins.
And I considered googling iso and aperture, but decided to just go with whatever because nap time was crashing down on us way too quickly.

In the end, we were all worn out, and the pictures are meh. Billy could probably work his magic with them in Lightroom (and I'm sure I'll get a good lesson when he gets home). I'm sharing them anyway. If nothing else, they're 10,000 times better than the pictures I took before I became a Jackson. And hey, we had fun! It's just a fun that we didn't really capture for the rest of the world very well.

Mommy Bloggers, I salute you!
I don't know how you do it, but you're amazing.

Sarah Jackson

p.s. The muffins taste good, but have that weird, "healthy" consistency. I bet about 1/4 of it stuck to the wrapper, so they're a good snack if you're watching your calories. Both kids highly approved.

Illustration of sower stolen from here: https://fulcrumexpress.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/sower.jpg?

Thursday, July 23

Public Service Announcement for Talking to Pregnant Ladies

Goodness gracious! I knew I hadn't posted on this blog in forever, but I didn't realize it at had actually been forever! If by any chance someone reads this who doesn't know me personally, let me catch you up: a year and nine months ago I married the man of my dreams, 8 months ago I had the most beautiful little girl you can imagine, and 20 weeks ago I conceived a new little one whose gender we don't yet know!
It's because of this newest addition that I'm writing this post.

I waited until I was halfway through the pregnancy intentionally. I'm hoping that enough time has passed that no one will be offended or hurt. I feel like it needs to be said, but only to help people, not condemn them. This is not directed at anyone in particular.
Okay, here we go:

When you find out that a woman is pregnant, be positive!
It is in no way helpful to:

1. Tell her how hard life is going to be.
2. Warn her about the worst parts of her impending doom (known by positive people as Motherhood)
 - This is ESPECIALLY true if this is not her first pregnancy.
3. Express worry for her.
4. Make sure she's aware of how babies are conceived.

All of these things were said to me at least twice. And all of them were said by people who I know love me very much! I love them, too, which is why I'm writing this post. People say offensive things and are annoying all the time. That's life, get over it. But I don't want my loved ones accidentally hurting others without realizing it, so here we are.

I want to explain how each of these things can easily be understood by a pregnant lady. Of course this isn't what you meant to say (if it is, SHAME ON YOU!), but it can really sound like it sometimes.

Numbers 1-3:

Your life is over. Even though your first child isn't even walking yet, you obviously have no idea what life with a newborn is like! I think that your husband is doing a terrible job husband-ing. Your life is going to be TERRIBLE, and obviously you're too dumb to realize that, because you went and got pregnant. How irresponsible.
Summed up: If I didn't believe that having an abortion would make you a murderer, I would totally suggest it right now.

"Whoa!" you might be thinking, "A little drastic there, Sarah! Hormonal much?"
Yeah, it is drastic. But seriously, what are you accomplishing by painting a bleak picture of an expectant mother's future? You are saying "This baby is wrong. This baby is trouble. This baby shouldn't be here." I have seriously come away from conversations with the impression that if that person believed that abortion was okay I would have been pressured to have one. That is a bad impression to make, my friends!

Number 4:

Is your husband taking advantage of you in your stupidity? Isn't there anything better you could be doing?

People. I'm 25. I have a bachelor's degree in English (have you ever read classic literature?). My mom is a nurse. I know how babies are made. Just because I wasn't actively trying to get pregnant doesn't mean I didn't know full well that I might. No one thinks your joke is funny.

I know you're only responding out of care for me, and I love you. My hope is that next time you're talking to a pregnant lady you consider how what you are saying might sound.
Ask yourself: Is this actually going to help anything? Is this really any of my business?

If you firmly believe that a woman would be irresponsible to have another child, be rude BEFORE a child is conceived. And yes, if you're neither her doctor nor her husband, it's pretty much always rude to give your unasked-for opinion.

I hope this is a help to you! Rule of thumb: If you wouldn't want the child to know that you said it about them, don't say it.

Have a fantastic day!