This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Parenting and ‘Ordinary Miracles’

Newsflash: Parenting is not easy. This news comes as a surprise to no one who has participated in the hard work of raising children. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably keep saying it: no one could have described to me just how much my life would change post-child. Sometimes I think back on myself during pregnancy — blissfully snapping “belfies” (belly selfies), sorting clothes, prepping a nursery, and writing out a birth plan — and utterly unaware of how my life was going to flip upside down.

9857No one can describe to you the ways that deep love, chaos, frustration and worry can all co-mingle into a crazy emotional cocktail in those first days and weeks (and maybe even years?!) after your child springs the womb or is adopted into your family or just walks into your home. And frankly, I’m the mother of only one tiny human. I have no idea how those miraculous parents who tote around multiples do it.

This is one of the many reasons I love Rachel Springer Gerber’s new book, Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting. In this book, she totally normalizes the crazy. She shares openly and honestly about the chaos that is parenting three boys. She talks about long days, and even longer sleepless nights. (As I’ve been sitting down to write this post, my 18-month old daughter has awoken twice after going to bed, in need of comfort and snuggle time.) Gerber does not pretend for one minute that motherhood is not hard, hard work.

But she also acknowledges that it’s a beautiful mess, that often in the midst of the most crazy moments, God — often through your children — can smack you in the face with such great love. With — as Gerber says — the miraculous couched in the ordinary.

Throughout the book, Gerber weaves in passages from Luke 24 — the story that follows the disciples on the Road to Emmaus as they encounter Jesus. She acknowledges the ways that sometimes we are so “in the thick of it” that we fail to see God/Jesus/the miraculous in our midst.

Perhaps the most poignant meditation or reminders for me were that God seeks us in the midst of any chaos and that we are beautiful and enough, just as we are. Perhaps it’s just simply the reminder that I’m not alone. That God and a whole broad community of struggling parents journey alongside me, through the mundane highs and lows of each and every day.

Gerber writes:

This is exactly why I am ever so grateful for the moments that God breaks into my ordinary and breathes grace over me. For in moments like this, when the Spirit opens my eyes, it instantly reorients, restores and renews. It reminds me that life is good and that children are such gifts. Yes, they are busy and messy — but it is because they capture the zest of life and explore the world with curiosity.

I pray for God to forgive me, for I am so slow of heart. I pray that God will keep surprising me in these ordinary moments of the holy work I do, so I can get up and put one foot in front of another and do it again. Today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

Gerber has given us a book that invites us to sniff out the holy in the midst of the ordinary. A book that challenges us to choose gratitude. To choose to remember and name our blessings. To celebrate the miraculous gift that is this parenting journey, even when our floors are unswept, toys litter the floor and sleep is hard to come by.

Hannah Heinzekehr lives, works and writes from Newton, Kan. She holds a master’s in theology and community development from Claremont School of Theology. This post originally appeared on her blog, The Femonite, where she explores the intersections of Mennonite identity, theology and feminism.

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