Guest Blog Post by Rachel Gerber, author of Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting, Herald Press, March, 2014.
Rachel and her two oldest sons. Photo by Jen Shenk Photography, Goshen, Ind.)
Being the mother of three boys (in a five year span) is always interesting. I write this with a huge smile on my face and … heartburn. It is always a balancing act; holding things loose enough to let curious boys have imaginative fun without them getting too out of hand, having things broken, messy, or hurt.
Any way you slice it, growing little ones is busy. As I was playing soccer with my oldest, Owen, followed by a quick round of indoor hockey, it struck me at how active my kids are. Arts and crafts, anyone ?
Sure, raising children is a gift. It is a delightful combination of wonder and awe to see the miracle of life grow and become a little unique person right before your very eyes. Yet it is also exhausting and demanding—physically straining, emotionally pulling, and mentally draining. And chronic sleep deprivation due to multiple nighttime nursings, toddler bed-wetting, and five-year-old nightmares doesn’t help matters. But probably the most difficult thing about parenthood, is that
people rarely talk about how tough it really is.
I never intended on writing a book about parenting. Yet, when the invitation came from MennoMedia to expand my blog and consider writing a book, I knew, like most sermons, that the words I’d write would speak loudest in my own heart. As a young parent, I needed to hear a voice reassuring me that the managed chaos of these days—the toil and strain is real and normal—but that hope and joy can accompany. For I learned that as I opened my eyes and took in the life before me—in all its crazy and hectic, beautiful and rugged glory—I saw that it was this way because I. have. three. boys.
Of course. Such grace.
Hence the story, Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting, was born. It was birthed out of my own experiences at my own frail awakening to this realization of the sacred work that parenting is. For as I love, care for, and feed my little monkeys, I am really loving and serving the One that created them.
Holy work, indeed.
Yet this book also transcends the sphere of parenthood. Parent or not, it is so easy to go through life half-awake. We get up, we go to work, we read the newspaper—often on autopilot. As we live in this stupor, what gifts are we missing along the way? What does it mean to embrace the given moment? To take in the wonder of the morning sun glistening off the snow covered branch—a symbol of God’s glory all around?
In many ways, this book wrote me, reminding me again and again of how the presence of God comes in life. And in turn, I share these stories with you, because it is so easy to forget. I forget the blessings that permeate my life and am often blinded by the work, the monotony, the exhaustion, the pull. Yes, I share these stories with the world so that we can together be reminded that God never leaves. God never abandons. God always provides. God always blesses—awakening us repeatedly to see that our ordinary lives are really extraordinary journeys full of miraculous surprises.
Rachel’s middle son. Photo by Jen Shenk Photography, Goshen, Ind.)
All other photos, except book cover, supplied by Gerber family.
To purchase Ordinary Miracles (nice mother’s day gift) check here.
Rachel S. Gerber, is the Mennonite Church USA Denominational Minister of Youth and Young Adults, author of Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting, and blogger at www.everything-belongs, where she reflects on the spirituality of parenting. Rachel lives in Bloomington, Ind. with her husband of fifteen years, Shawn, and three little boys: Owen, Connor, and Zach.