Chaotic Blessings

My three-year-old, newly christened with basic words, likes to exercise his larynx in the minivan. “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” is his usual workout of choice. When I respond, Reed hems and haws, searching around for something to show me. Usually, he points at something random outside the window. I say, “Yes, I see! That’s a tree.” Two seconds later, it starts again.

The six-month-old baby is either cooing (very loudly) to his blue elephant hanging on the car seat handle, or is crying because he lost his paci and hasn’t found the dexterity to reinsert it. He faces backwards, just out of my reach when I’m in the passenger seat, rendering me useless to solve the relatively simple problem. So our ears, seasoned in the sounds of early childhood, blocks it out. We know he’s fine for the moment, even if it is a bit headache-inducing.

Amongst it all, my five-year-old is trying to tell me about her day from the far back. Sometimes she wants to tell me what letter she learned to write in cursive today, or that the word for gray in Spanish sounds like the slimy stuff on the skillet after cooking bacon. Quite often, she’s displaying her rock collection, acquired during recess and now brimming in her backpack’s side pockets. Whatever it is, she wants to tell me, in detail and with gusto.

The minutes go by, and the volume doesn’t diminish. Then Kyle and I find a supernatural second of silence, so one of us starts with, “So I got an email today–,” wherein we are quickly interrupted with, “Hey, there’s Chuck-E-Cheese! They’re a proud sponsor of PBS!” or “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!”, or, simply a “Waaaaaaah!”

This is usually the part of the show when Kyle presses an imaginary button on the dashboard, signaling the soundproof window to rise between the driver and the passengers.

There are days when I. must. pray. to. not. lose. my. head during all this chaos. And there are days when Kyle and I look at each other, smiling wide-eyed and in disbelief, that the insane noise is really ours for the keeping. On both kinds of days, I’m genuinely shivering with disbelief that God’s blessings have poured out to me so extravagantly in these three little bodies.

These children. These. They’re given to me to raise.

The God of the universe sees me fit to raise them. They’re messy and loud and nerve-wracking (and did I say loud?), and yet they’re so unbelievably precious.

These minivan moments, the ones that rattle the windows with cacophony, are mine for the stewarding. Will I curse my lot, no longer neat and tidy, or will I fall on my knees in worship that the perfect God has given imperfect me three little imperfect people to raise in to the next generation?

I have a choice. And it’s not always easy, but I consciously choose to praise Him. The noise level rises, the stickiness remains, and haven’t I put away this train set eighteen-hundred times? Yes. And I will probably do it for the eighteen-hundred-and-first time tomorrow.

But God puts up with my ridiculousness. I can put up with theirs, because He loves them — and so do I, doggonit.

“Though the playroom does not stay clean and there are no bath toys back in the bucket, though the diaper fails and the backseat produces no silence, though there are no Lego in the right container and no faces without stickiness, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” -Habakkuk 3:17-19, edited

What’s chaotic in your life right now? What unpredictability has God blessed you with?

Written by Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom

  • Lisa H

    I am happy to say that right now I feel calm not chaos! WOW, I can’t believe I said this! I’ve lived chaos for the past 4 years non stop!
    Ex-husband moved back in to ‘rekindle’ what was lost
    6 months later discovered it was still lost
    6 months later I started talking to a woman at church for advice/help
    1 year later started counseling with my him–lasted 6 sessions
    1 year later told him to move out this wasn’t working, one person couldn’t do it
    put the house on the market-it didnt sell
    1 year later (now); I’ve completed 8 months of weekly counseling, been medicated to help the depression/anxiety-its working :)
    putting house back on the market–pray for a sale please!
    just rescued a maltipoo from a family that no longer wanted him–LOVE HIM!
    Having fun with my kids and now the dog for the first time in a very long time!!!
    In all of this found out who God really is and that no matter what he loves me!

    Priceless—I wouldn’t change any of it–I just wouldnt want to go through any of it again though

    “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” Philippians 1:6

    • Heather Gemmen Wilson

      Wow. How amazing that you are able to see God at work through your crisis! Praise the Lord!

  • Ida Mundell

    I LOVE this! Thank you so much for sharing. What a pleasant reminder to really enjoy my sticky, loud, sometimes obnoxious :-) children today!

    Have a lovely weekend!


  • Emily C

    Amen! Thanks for the reminder!

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  • kendal

    wonderful! one time my older (who is now 15) told me he had magic marker on his shoe (mark mark, shoe) he would say things until i answered. i decided to see how many times he would tell me. 37. i think he only stopped because i stopped the car! but i’ve learned to give thanks at all the stages. now, it’s fewer questions and more guitar and drums….and in a few short years. we.will.have.silence. and i am positive that i will have to learn to give thanks for that.

  • Linda

    What a touching post. How well I remember those days. Bless you as you navigate your way through them! I will share your post with young mothers I know. And oh— I LOVE the paraphrase from Habakkuk!


  • Patricia

    Beautiful post!! And one that I oh-so-needed- to read this morning!!! I’m in the middle of reading “One Thousand Gifts…” trying to give thanks for it all…including the “Mommy! ONLY mommy!” wake-up calls! ;)

  • thesavingmom(jessica)

    What an absolutely encouraging fantastic post! My husband has been really busy this week and my almost one year old is teething so it has been a chaotic week for me. While reading this post I could feel the energy flooding back into me. It amazes me how the noise and touching can really do a number on your nerves, but when you remember what a gift these blessings are then suddenly you can smile…even laugh maybe. Thank you for reminding me. ~Jessica

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m so glad it was an encouragement, Jessica! I’m in the thick of parenting a teether, too, so I know right where you are. :) The years are short but the days are long, eh?

  • Debbie Putman

    As I read your story, tears welled as I thought back to when my girls were small. There were many days I didn’t choose to praise God, but let myself be irritated. But you are so right tochoose praise and contentment as much as possible.

    Your children are indeed precious gifts. When your children are grown, as mine are, you will look back at those moments that now seem to go on forever and realize how quickly they sped by.

    I am fortunate that God blessed me with daughters that are also friends who I enjoy time with now, but I still look back on those times when they were shouting with joy at the ability to say new words or share their day without holding back and know that will never happen again.

    17 months ago, my oldest daughter, Kimberly Joy, was taken home
    to be with Jesus. She was 32.

    Now memories are all I will ever have and I cherish every one. She was always loud, messy, sticky, and a huge interruption–even as an adult. She was never easy, but she was always fun and I encourage all of you mommies who grow weary and frustrated to treasure these times. Someday you will look back at them with a smile and be glad you remember who your children were then.

    • Heather Gemmen Wilson

      So sorry for your loss, Debbie. I cannot imagine…

    • Jessic Cazares

      Thank you for sharing Debbie.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks for your words, Debbie. I can’t even pretend to imagine what that must be like. But your comment encourages me to look at my children with the eternal perspective you must be reminded of daily. Thank you for that.

  • Wanda

    This post made me smile! I remember those days…just like they were yesterday!
    I had 3 under 4 and life was hectic! There were many days we were still in pj’s at 3 in the afternoon! :(
    I would feel so defeated when that happened. It was just busy! I wasn’t laying around watching tv…..I was nursing, making a meal, changing a diaper, wiping a booty, rocking a baby….holding a hurt child–REPEAT all day long!
    Now…my oldest is away at college, middle is a senior and the baby a sophomore in HS.
    I miss those chaotic baby days!
    They really went by too fast!

  • Jenni Saake “InfertilityMom”

    Love the whole post, but especially the paraphrase of Habakkuk 3. I love that and think I need to spend some time with God putting it in today’s language for several areas of my life, not just parenting. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

    (Editing note: You currently have it referenced as Habakkuk 1.)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks for the heads up! It’s corrected.

  • yvonne

    When our children were young, I too was young, too young to truly appreciate them, too young and too self-centered to see them as blessings. Thankfully, Jesus moved into my heart and opened my eyes to the three beautiful gifts He gave us. Those early years were gone. I have often lamented over those lost years, wishing that I would have loved our gifts from Him instead of resenting them, like it was “their fault I lost my youth”.
    Our three blessings, now grown up and with hearts full of Jesus and His forgiveness towards me had blessings of their own. I am now a young grandma of 8 blessings. I was given the most precious gift, the gift of “do-over”, if you will.
    He is allowing me to co-parent these little ones as three of them live with us, two girls and a boy, exactly like the “first” blessings. He is also allowing me to sit daily other grand-blessings and I love them the way they are meant to be loved, love that can only come from the Father. A love I could only find through Jesus!

  • SherylC

    A wonderful post! I have shared it on facebook. The edited verses from Habakkuk have indeed been a source of comfort for me through out the years. My children are grown and grandchildren have arrived. I can fully sympathize with Liza H who posted. I thought I was reading my own story when I read hers!…but she may have come through it a year or two quicker than I did!! I totally agree with : I wouldn’t change any of it–I just wouldn’t want to go through any of it again though. Keep trusting on Jesus and he will see you through. and restore the lost years.
    Tsh, keep writing! you are touching many lives!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks for your encouragement, Sheryl!

  • Emily

    Just put my very loud ones to bed. And. it’s. quiet. For now! They are such blessings, even in the chaos. Thanks for this post.

    And I love that verse from Habakkuk. Put that one to memory about 2 years ago and have recalled it on many hard mommy days since!

  • Living the Balanced Life

    Ahh, Tsh! It has been a long time since I had the kind of chaos you have, but you did a good job of taking me back! I love your paraphrase of the scripture and will keep this one in mind no matter what my chaos is!
    Good to meet you this week!
    When good enough is, good enough

  • Amelia

    I’ve often wondered how many car accidents have occurred because of frazzled moms trying to reach behind them for something, or just dealing with the chaos in the car. I know I’ve been too close too many times! We’ve decided our GPS is another toddler in the car. She interrupts our conversations just as well as the kids! Great post, loved your edited Scripture too! Thanks for sharing.

    • Katie @ Imperfect People

      Yea people joke about “women drivers” but they have no idea the battle we are fighting in the car! LOL

  • Katie @ Imperfect People

    I especially love the “perfect God has given imperfect me three little imperfect people to raise” Beautiful post! And the song of every mother with young children including me!

    • Jenni Saake “InfertilityMom”

      Katie, thanks for dropping by my blog. So nice to “meet” you. :)

  • Patti

    I know exactly how you feel. Mine are older…but the chatter never ends. Sometimes I can’t hear myself thinK! But like you I am oh so thankful that God put these amazing little people in my care! LOVE this blog post!
    Patti =)

  • Mimi

    Let me tell you about some amazing minivan moments yet to come. These are the times when you’ll really be able to talk to one of your kids about tough stuff. You’re not face to face, there’s space, etc. My teenage daughters would talk about things in the minivan they probably never would have if we were just at the house. My 11yo son the other day started telling me about a girl he thinks likes him. The nice part about these conversations in our favor is that when we hear that a girl might like our 11yo son, they can’t see our entire facial reaction! LOL These minivan conversations do change as they get older.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Fascinating! I can’t yet imagine, but I’m sure those days will be here faster than I know. :)

  • Heather Gemmen Wilson

    Now that my kids are teenagers and young adults, I remember those chaotic days fondly. How I would love for them to climb into my lap again, to convince me to go out sledding with them, to beg me to read one more picture book…. It reminds me to enjoy the moments now too. My 15 yo daughter recently accessorized my cell phone with “jewels” (stickers), our tools keep going missing, I run out food constantly. But I have to remind myself I’m going to miss these days too, so I enjoy them while I can. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Beth

    I’m hard-pressed to find an area of my life that isn’t chaotic right now! A little peace would be nice, so I’m going to grab it when I can find it and hang on for dear life!

    This is a great post, Tsh, and where many of are right now. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Lisa @ WellGrounded Life

    Tsh, TSH! Wow. And thank you for this amazing article- amazing message. Tears are just falling down as this mama is reading and feeling “heard” in my life too!

    Not too long ago I was reflecting, struggling, praying, standing in awe and wonder, ect ect over exactly what you described in this article (and how hard HARD it is at times to love the CHILD while disobedient/disrespectful choices are being made) and I began to write in my prayer journal this:

    And this is how HE loves me….
    When I am at my worst, He pours grace over me.
    When my actions repulse, He draws even closer to me.
    When I slam the door in defiance, He stands at the door and knocks.
    How great is His love.

    And I was reminded, really just pierced, with what it really looks like to love unconditionally. Oh how far I have to go- but the hope and light of that calling is too beautiful and true to ignore :)

    Just thanking you from another mama in the trenches. :)


  • Lisa @ WellGrounded Life

    p.s I know you weren’t talking exactly about disobedience…just the cacophony and messiness of raising little ones…but it occurred to me that perhaps the feelings we experience in the face of it all are really very similar…

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you, Lisa, for your encouragement here! I’m happy to be in the trenches alongside you, friend.

  • Alisa

    Wow, I so needed to read this today. I am skipping church this morning just so I can have some peace and quiet after a very rough night with my almost 3 year old. My heart was definitely not in the right place though and this has helped give me some perspective. Thank you Tsh for sharing and thank you God for the reminder!!

  • charis

    this is great… a lot like my life being a mom of 4 boys 6 and under! i love it and yet there are moments of sheer chaos! God is so good and gives the grace to not only survive but thrive in the middle. like so many have already said – this is what memories are made of!

  • Deidra

    Blessed with chaos…
    I like that idea.

  • Minnesotamom

    Haha! Look at you, making new scripture. Great post, Tsh! A reminder to us all that our children are, indeed, gifts.

  • Sara

    Thanks for the encouraging word Tsh. I chuckled at the imaginery button on the dash board. My husband and I do this same thing in our van. :)

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  • Clare

    Thanks so much for your words Tsh. Just what I needed to hear today :)

  • Hannah@ A Quiet Spot

    Oh, I totally relate. What is it about kids and cars especially? Then try adding in a couple friends. Sometimes the only way I can not be driving off the road is to sedate them intravenously with an audiobook. :-)
    And just wait until the neighborhood kids start pouring in to your house! The chaos intensifies. My husband and I have to remind ourselves that this is our mission field, not the burden of proximity.

  • Amanda K

    Thanks for reminding me to enjoy my chaotic blessings. I’ve noticed that the times that I am most likely not to enjoy the chaos of kids, activities, house etc is when I am emotionally troubled or distracted with other things. As a result, keeping up with my daily devotions and prayer time with the Lord and organising myself and my spiritual life is vital.

  • Kathy M

    Great post! Thanks!

  • Angie

    I could’ve written this post!

    I read the part aloud to my husband about the imaginary button that separates driver from passengers in the van. My husband does the very same thing! He always talks about what a fortune he’d make if he could invent something like that. I told him he better get on it before your hubby beats him to it! :)

    Oh, I remind myself all the time that one day I’ll miss it. I’m grateful for those ahead of me who say it goes by fast!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Kyle (my husband) would love to invent that button! Maybe they can go in to business together… ;)

  • Melanie

    I really needed to read this today – thank you so much ! I will think of your words when it’s “Minivan time” (with a 5- and 3-year old and a seven week old baby) in just about four hours :o)

  • Jen

    This post is making me cry because I am in the thick of this and I only have one–a one-year-old. Since his birth, everyone’s been telling me “enjoy him” and I SO wanted to! I’ve tried so hard to enjoy him, but this year has been awful. He’s just a very intense baby. I wonder when life will ever be good again. It’s not that there are NO blessed moments, but they are outnumbered by the fussing, crying, screaming, can’t-ever-satisfy-him moments 10 to 1. I have prayed for joy, I have asked advice from other mothers, I have tried to change my attitude, I remind myself he is healthy and I am blessed to have him, but it doesn’t seem to get better. Your gratitude and joy is so beautiful. I will keep trying to see the world the way you do…

    • Rebekah

      Jen, I understand and I wish I could give you a hug! I felt this same way about my daughter … but things have gotten better. When she was an infant, she seemed to HATE being a baby. She cried and fussed and did not respond to rocking or cuddling or baby-wearing or any of the other things that people suggested to me. Everyone kept telling me how blessed I was and how happy I must be. I would blankly smile and nod at them and then go home and cry. It was rough.

      Discipline can be difficult to navigate when you have a one year old, but one thing I learned was to discern when my daughter truly needed my attention and when she was just throwing a tantrum to get her way. In that circumstance, nothing I did ever made her happy. I am not a childcare expert and opinions on appropriate discipline vary widely, but in my opinion it’s not unreasonable to put a tantruming one year old in a safe place (crib, play yard), close the door and let them run the tantrum out. Certainly you don’t want to let them scream for too long, but this strategy also allows you a few minutes to breath deep and re-enter the fray when you’ve been able to collect yourself a bit. The truth is that some children enter “the terrible twos” long before they turn two. My husband has encouraged me in this, since it is against my personality to enforce firm boundaries with anyone, including my child. :) Try to remind yourself that YOUR sanity is VERY IMPORTANT! If you are not feeling supported emotionally, you can’t be the mom you want to be.

      Don’t be afraid to admit you that you’re overwhelmed. If you can, arrange childcare for a couple of hours and don’t feel guilty about taking a break to get coffee or something. Maintaining a positive attitude is very important, but so is owning up to your emotional limits. Don’t be afraid to BE FIRM with some boundaries and hang in there!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh Jen, if you only you could see my attitude when I had only my first-born when she was about the same age as yours. I honestly didn’t like being a parent at first, and I didn’t want to admit that out loud. It seemed like everyone else just loved motherhood from the get-go but me. I remember one night, during one of my daughter’s scream fests, thinking, “My life is over. I’ll never do anything but cater to this girl’s needs again.” I also remember wondering how on earth people have more than one child.

      Fast forward two years, and I was diagnosed with depression. After talking with a professional, we both agreed that we could look back and say that I probably struggled with a mild form of post-partum depression from that long ago, and it was just mild enough for me to take care of the surface symptoms. For two years, I quietly pushed my feelings of frustration down, assuming I just needed to get over myself, or become more spiritually mature. Well, hindsight being 20/20, I wish I was more honest with myself from the beginning and talked to somebody. Even just sharing my real struggles with a girlfriend over coffee would have lessened my frustration ten-fold, I believe.

      I’m not saying you have PPD… But I do want you to know your feelings are very normal and that you’re not alone, and that my thoughts from my post are not how I’ve always felt in my short tenure as a parent so far. It’s okay to be frustrated when things are difficult. You’re definitely not alone.

      I’ll pray for you, Jen. Peace to you. :)

      • Jen

        Rebekah and Tsh, thank you so much for these loving replies. It’s funny, I NEVER comment on blogs but this post filled me with so much longing that I had to. These thoughtful responses mean a great deal to me.

        What both of you said is spot on. You are both describing thoughts I have had repeatedly! It is so good to know I’m not alone. Coincidentally, I actually did go talk to a doctor yesterday about the possibility of PPD. She also mentioned to me the need to set consistent limits with my son and recognize when he was having a tantrum. So it’s comforting to hear those things echoed from you and feel maybe I’m on the right track. I’m glad to hear there is hope. :-) THANK YOU.

  • Rebekah

    This is exactly how I feel and I only have one 2 year old to manage! Sometimes I long for one – just one – adult conversation between the time my husband walks out the door in the morning and when he walks back in at night. The constant, unrelenting demands of a toddler for attention and the need for consistent discipline and patience on my part can be exhausting. At the end of the day, all the grand plans for things I was going to do as soon as she goes to bed are ususally scraped in favor of flopping on the couch and trying to scrape together the last remaining shreds of my sanity. But then I go in to turn off her light and tuck her in and seeing her sleeping so soundly and sweetly, with one arm curled around Elmo makes me feel like it’s all worth it after all.

    Thanks for your enouragement and the reminder that we are truly blessed with the priviledge of guiding these little ones through the adventure of life.

  • Joyce

    I cried reading through this. It was such a terrible morning in the midst of a challenging season of life (pregnant, winter, major renovations overtaking the home, wildly energetic toddler with no place to unfurl her energy!!). I felt at my wits end and reading your words and the scripture passage spoke volumes! I cried and then picked up my daughter and hugged her and cried some more.
    Thanks! This isn’t the first time that your words have been a source of encouragement and inspiration as I run a home and raise my family.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Joyce! And for the reminder to go hug my children, too. :)

  • Sarah

    hat’s chaotic in your life right now? What unpredictability has God blessed you with?

    Oh Tsh! Thank you, thank you, thank you! With a 1-week-old, 20-month-old, 3-year-old, and two almost-5-year-olds (not to mention a husband that will be going straight from paternity leave to a 7-day/week, 12-hours/day schedule), things have been feeling chaotic. And I have been nervous about being left to my own devices when the hubby goes back to work…
    But I *want* to CHOOSE with you to praise Him who sees me fit to steward these blessings!!

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  • kelley

    I am blessed with the loudest little girls. on. the. planet. I am serious…these chicas (2 and 3) have got some pipes! And they SCREAM for joy when we go to the grocery store (like they’re on a roller coaster), to the point that EVERYONE looks to see if they are being held against their will. My girls both live life and feel and express to the fullest. And I love it. I’m an older (42), adoptive mom and my girls are such an incredible gift…I too am humbled that God chose my husband and I to be their parents. I am amazed at the decibels they reach, however. :)

    Thank you so much for your precious post. I often wonder if other couples are able to complete conversations as we oft are not. I know this is a season that I will grieve the loss of and I try to be grateful each and every day. Thank you for spurring me on. We love this kookiness so much that we are praying about when to expand our family again…gotta hurry–43 is on it’s way!

  • natalie

    WOW I really want one of those noise-proof window buttons in my SUV!

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