Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Mother's Day -- and A Mother's Day

Swiftly approaching is the internationally heralded Mother's Day, and that is the theme at HSB this week.

I have to say, it's a day that holds a gamut of emotions for me. I'm blessed to still have a mother with whom to celebrate, and I am blessed to have four children who celebrate with me. But those blessings come mingled with memories that are heart-wrenching; and I know I'm not alone in that. For that reason, I have decided to take a two-pronged approach with this post. First, we will explore the significance of hard blessings, like Mother's Day for some -- and then we'll take a creative approach to a mother's day.

The reality that a "blessing" is not always something we would choose for ourselves is a lesson God has been driving home in my life for years now. I guess I'm a slow learner because He continues to bless me with hard gifts -- gifts that I'd prefer not to receive. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I confess that I'd often like the cup to pass from me.

That was certainly the case on many a Mother's Day in the early years of marriage. The gift of infertility made my heart ache and sometimes break. I'm sure some of you can relate to the God-given yearning to birth a babe, and the anguish that accompanies His refusal to give that gift.

When I did finally receive the gift of motherhood, it was bittersweet. Adoption is such a wonderful blessing -- but it, too, is a hard gift. It is always accompanied by loss -- for all members of the adoption triad, no matter how open and inclusive an adoption might be. (And ours are wonderfully and blessedly open!) Adoptive families lose a part of themselves in their unborn babies; birth families lose a part of themselves in the relinquishment of their children; and children lose a part of themselves in being relinquished, even when it is the best plan for them. So, a Mother's Day never passes that I don't think of those who long to be mothers -- those who are mothers without their children, for whatever reason -- and children who yearn for their mothers, no matter how they may have lost them.

But I am not writing to dwell on sad thoughts! What I want to focus on is the fact that these hard gifts truly are blessings! Ann Voskamp has certainly been re-teaching me that with her blog, Holy Experience, and her book, One Thousand Gifts. And just yesterday God drove the lesson home with this song by Laura Story:

"What if trials in this life are Your mercies in disguise?"

"What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?"

Blessings, I believe, are things that draw us closer to God -- and is that not what these hard gifts do? Given the proper perspective, can we not say that they do serve a real purpose in our lives -- a purpose that enables us to share in Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection? And as Laura says,

"The pain reminds us that this is not our home."

Our earthly suffering is but a flash of light in the context of eternity. In our heavenly home, there will be no more sorrow, no more pain . . . If we remember that, can we not accept any gift God gives?

And what better way to record God's gifts than with a mother's day book? (How's that for a transition?!?!? ;) You may have gathered by now that I've been learning a lot from Ann Voskamp, and it was she who introduced me to the concept of a visual home journal. Simply put, it is a journal in which a mother -- or the whole clan if they'd like -- documents family life. Intrigued by the idea, I followed the links of inspiration Ann provided -- and embarked on making my own!

I started with an old book that my DH had actually cut pages from years ago for a display he'd made. I wanted something that would hold 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper -- and that's what I came upon in our collection. (Please don't tell me if it's a priceless collector's item ;)

I wanted to use pre-punched paper if I could, and we had some yellow on hand -- so yellow it was:

I removed the book's pages, then marked the holes to be punched using the paper's holes as a guide.

My trusty Cropodile punched the holes in the book covers, as well as some of the pages from the book, which I wanted to incorporate into our journal.

I reinforced the holes in the book cover with eyelets because that's what we have -- though larger grommets might have been better. After I bound everything with individual binder rings, I stamped and wrote on the cover page of the book/journal.

I didn't think about the fact that the ink would bleed through -- oops!

I thought it would be cool to keep some of the pictures and text from the original book interpsersed between the pages I created.

The next stage was to find magazine pictures that appealed -- and of course I had help with that :) DD9 pulled out her new glitter glue (thank you, Aunt Judy!:) and she and DS4 went to town decorating the pictures they cut from the magazines.

We're still nowhere near finished creating our visual journal. In fact,  it will be a perpetual work in progress as we add sections and decorate and doodle and document our family life. One section I created was a book section -- books we've read and enjoyed, books we've lent out, and books on our wish lists.

Of course, there are built in spaces for counting our blessings, too!

 I'd like to incorporate our family calendar into the book, as well as sections for documenting kid quips, medical records (who was sick when, and with what), grocery lists, menu ideas, and a place to put all those stray pieces of paper that we need to keep, but never know where to put.

And there we have -- a visual journal to document a mother's day! Have you ever used one? What tips or ideas do you have to offer? Do you  have another creative way to document your family's life -- to count the hard blessings, as well as the great gifts?


  1. That's a really great post. First off I love the book you made, that's a really cool idea and way to make a journal. And, your words about Mother's Day ring true to me. Mother's Day can be a bittersweet holiday for many, for different reasons. My own mother died and for the past 22 Mother's Days I have felt mixed emotions about it. Having children has helped, but I still try to honour my own mom on Mother's Day.

    Thanks for sharing. :D Happy Mother's Day to you.

  2. Thanks, Sara :) What do you do to honour your mom on Mother's Day all these years later? It sounds like such a wonderful idea.

  3. Hey Paula,
    This year we are planting some Iris plants in our garden. They were my mom's favourite and we had them in our backyard growing up. I was at the grocery store and they had pots of iris plants, so that's what I decided to do this year.
    Sara :D

  4. What a great idea, Sara! I love how you're linking memories of the past with memory-making in the present! Your own garden will reflect your mother's garden of your youth -- I love it!


Sincere responses . . .

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