Monday, June 3, 2013
It’s a daily occurrence where I have to just stop and stare at my children.
Sometimes they’re just super cute.
Of course, we have our ugly moments too. But I try to really take in these precious little snapshots of who they are right now. As a mom I want to live in the moment—to embrace the now rather than wish it away for a future stage. And it’s especially fun when they take joy in experiencing the moment as well.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how my own attitude and behavior is key to this dream coming true. A while back I spent a few months camped out in Proverbs 31, intent upon truly learning from this example of a woman worth far more than precious jewels. I determined to glean attributes from her that could be applied to my daily dish-washing, nose-wiping, diaper-changing, patience-testing days. And the verse that has been repeating itself in my mind lately comes from the conclusion of this woman’s description.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28.
Know what’s so special about the meaning of the word blessed in this verse? My Bible’s commentary explained, “Blessed… that is, one who enjoys happy circumstances and from whom joy radiates to others.” Her children call her happy and radiating joy. They see that she is happy with her life and respond about it.
It would be easy to say that she was the model woman, so of course her children would say that about her. But she wasn’t just handed that title; she worked hard for it. All of the hard work she did—her dependability, attention to detail, relationships built—culminating in her role as a wife of noble character brought her joy. A genuine and real joy that was visible to those closest to her: her family. She didn’t make them feel guilty about all she did for them. She didn’t complain about her work load and begrudge them for it. Instead, she found joy in her circumstances.
It made me think about my responsibilities—both in caring for my home and caring for my children. If I were to do the work I need to do, to the extent I should do it, would I have a joyful spirit about it? Is my grumbling because I know I should and could be doing better at taking responsibility for my home, actions and attitude? How often do I reflect a joyful spirit over managing my household? When I talk with friends, do I reflect joy in serving my family? As my children get older, will they call me blessed, or happy about my circumstances?
We can have really good days and we can have really bad days in my home. It seems that one of the only constants is that, at some point, my three year old will have an emotional melt down (and some days, that point happens every hour… half hour… five minutes). And as awful and exhausting and exasperating as those melt downs may be, they are not what ruin the day. It is my response that is the deciding factor. If I join him in the pity party of the century—resenting his behavior, dwelling on unaccomplished plans, admitting defeat and betraying my age by straight up pouting—happiness cannot be present in our home. But if I remember that I am the adult, I am called by God to this great position of motherhood, and God will equip me for my ministry (2 Corinthians 3:4-6), then my day is changed. My children will arise and call me blessed.
Being happy in my circumstances doesn’t mean that they are ideal. It doesn’t mean that I have achieved all that I can in motherhood. And my children certainly aren’t perfect. We all lose it sometimes. But in the end, I can take responsibility for myself. I can oversee the affairs of my household and do it with a joyful spirit. Because what greater reward will there be for my hard work than to have my children arise and call me blessed?
Monday, April 29, 2013
Galatians 6:2 became a reality for me. It’s simple and short: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. One loved one has dealt with false accusation and misrepresentation while another has been desperate to make some sense of his puzzled mind. A friend is in a season of deep grief as loved ones passed away within weeks of each other. A usual rock in my life has needed my strength and support as frightening moments overwhelmed her. A friend from college is facing a devastating diagnosis for her son. I see people deeply grieved by broken relationships. I’ve stood next to them, whether they knew it or not, shouldering some of their burdens. Lifted them in prayer. Ached deep within me for their pain. Longed to be a source of encouragement. Simply felt heavy hearted for them.
While I feel a great sense of contentment for where God has me, these twelve months have whittled away at some of the day to day happiness that used to mark my life. I delight in my children while wishing I could set the world straight on a few things. I laugh at a funny moment with my husband while also feeling my heart plead with God to give others wisdom in making life and death decisions. I share pictures of the fun changes I’m making around my home and then read a devastating Facebook status.
These twelve months have also brought an awareness of God’s sovereignty and power, His peace and comfort, and the joy that comes with bearing one another’s burdens. In Him I take refuge. His righteousness rescues and delivers those I love (Psalm 71:1, 2). Even though I’ve seen troubles—many of them bitter, He will restore my life and will comfort me once more (Psalm 71:20, 21). He is always with me, guiding me with His counsel (Psalm 73:23, 24). And through this awareness, I’ve felt some of the weariness lifting. As though a season of lament is warming into one of new life and hope.
Tonight a friend posted a song that I have had playing on repeat for the past hour. As my tears well up once more, the words wash over me, reminding me that those I love have not been forsaken. He is constant. He is only good. He is sovereign. He is a faithful God and we belong to Him.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
In the house I grew up in my parents had a beautiful, large, fenced in front patio. My dad is a lover of plants and growing them, and my mom has a green thumb with flowers so the brick patio was surrounded by beds, boxes and pots full of a colorful array of flowers. Summer evenings were beautiful out there with our mild Oregon weather and breezes coming over the coast range. So let’s imagine we’re sitting in the wicker furniture my mom had carefully arranged out there, holding glasses of iced tea, and have some kindred spirit conversation about what my heart has been learning.
I’ve been on a bit of a journey over the past year and a half—learning more about myself, my role as a wife/mom/Christian/friend/crafter and ultimately coming to a place of contentment. In November of 2011 I stepped down from my job as Children’s Ministries Director at our church to be a full time stay at home mom. My new title was the role I had longed for, dreamed of since childhood and stepped into willingly. However, I still found myself in a grieving period as I saw one stage of my life come to a close. I think grief in any life-stage transition is to be expected. After a few months of spending a lot of time cuddling with my son, watching a whole lot of TV and slowly regaining my energy (only to then get pregnant and lose it all over again), it was time to figure out who I was.
I’ve found that I’m a terrible house keeper, but if I develop a routine I can maintain a tidy kitchen. My son and I spend a lot of time together, but we connect more through morning cuddles than we do through playing together with toys. I love time with friends, but most days I’d actually rather spend time at home with my kids. I love sewing and crafting, but unless I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed, I don’t really make the time for it. And even though it isn’t true, I convince myself that my husband thinks I’m falling short in my duties as a stay at home mom.
While all of the above statements were true of me when I worked as well, how I see myself, and accept that self, is changing. One of my former volunteers sat next to me in church on Sunday and at one point said, “I think you’re a quieter person than I thought you were.” Her words have been rolling around my mind since then and I think she’s right. While I’m still just as talkative as ever and don’t mind being in front of groups or adding to the life of the party, my pace of life is quieter, and as a result, so is my heart. I know that I am in the role I am called to and I find myself content with that fact.
Being content with where I am in life doesn’t mean that I need to just accept my flaws and ignore the areas in need of growth. Instead it’s meaning that I allow the peace of Christ to rule my heart (Colossians 3:15). It’s knowing that I can’t overcome my failings or act in spite of them on my own—my adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3:4). And being content means remembering that He has searched me and He knows me. When I am steady and consistent in my quiet times, shining His light to those I meet and marveling at His glory at every turn—He’s with me. But He’s also with me when I am at my lowest—screaming at the dog, tripping through my toy-littered living room and trying to dig the least filthy sippy cup out of my dirty dish filled sink, as my dusty Bible asks for my attention. He made me. He has searched me. He knows me—the deepest part me that even my husband and mom don’t see. He knows the struggles, the fears, the hurts, and the guilt that plague my mind. And through all of that, He wants to pour out His love on me. And so I rest in that fact. I rest my heart. I rest my mind. I rest my spirit. I rest my weary body. I rest. And when I find myself with that unsettled, discontented, tired and worn feeling once again, I plead: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24. And He will be faithful to mend, heal, convict, strengthen, challenge, and ultimately, bring peace. And when that peace comes, so does the contentment.
(As a side note to those of you who feel like this place of peace and contentment is impossible for you to reach, take a moment to listen to THIS song and follow along with the lyrics. I have felt this way so many times (even in recent days and weeks) that it brings tears to my eyes. There is hope. Redemption does win.)
Friday, March 15, 2013
I imagined rocking her in the chair. Changing her on the dresser. Turning on the lamp at 3 am before feeding her. Laying her in the crib and her smiling at the mobile. I couldn’t wait for her to love the room as much as I did.
My favorite element in her room has become the birds that hang over her dresser. She wasn’t very old when she first noticed them. And since then, every time I lay her on the changing pad, she instantly looks for them. She smiles at them, talks to them, and her eyes light up when my head bumping them makes them dance. While I know these birds are adorable and I loved them from the start, they have become my favorite because she delights in them.
The other day at the moms’ group I attended, my pastor’s wife talked about how much detail I had put into creating Reese’s nursery and how I did it with the intention of my baby girl loving her space. She compared it to how God has created such a beautiful world around us and He delights in our enjoyment of it. I’ve always seen how creation reflects His glory and marveled at the beauty of it. But I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to ponder the care he put into creating it for me or how much joy it must bring Him when I delight in it.
How precious that the Creator of the Universe—the One who spoke all of creation into being—not only displayed His power and reflected His glory through it, but also made it for my enjoyment. Oh how much bigger I want to smile, greater I want to marvel and more I want to praise Him for it.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Clearly, I haven’t written here in quite a while. I haven’t been lacking inspiration. There have been so many times where I’ve thought through an entire post, organized the words in my mind, and then talked myself out of actually writing and posting them. I felt like I lacked the authority to share my thoughts. Or the consistency in my own Bible study to speak about it. Or… oh how confidence can lack.
Today I went to a mom’s group at a church in my town. I visited there almost a year ago when my mom was invited to speak, and intended to go regularly—I wanted to get to know moms in my area since all my friends live in a town a half hour away. But then morning sickness made things difficult, followed by summer, followed by having the morning-sickness-causing baby, followed by ______. But today I had motivation: my senior pastor’s wife was the guest speaker. And I adore her. How could I miss it?
Her topic was on having self esteem as moms and teaching our children to have good self esteem. There were so many beautiful points she made, and I want to write about them because I don’t want to forget them. And hey, maybe someone out there in blogland would find the words precious as well.
She shared about how we as women and moms can so easily get caught up in a cycle of guilt, fear and condemnation. We have thoughts we wish we didn’t, say words we wish we could take back, and allow ourselves to hear the message that we are less than God created us to be. As a mom of four young children she found her time in the Word so limited—five minutes here and there—but those minutes were precious and God used them greatly. But she could guarantee that if she spent that five minutes there would be attacking thoughts that she should have spent more. And if she happened to get an hour while at a retreat, she’d be attacked with the thought of why not two hours?
I could relate. I have had to drastically change my approach to my quiet times since having my children. I feel guilty for not pouring out praises and thoughts to the Lord over page after page in my prayer journal. I look critically at the fact that the length of scripture I read through each day is so brief. I ignore the way God uses that brief time to still teach me, convict me, challenge me, encourage me. And when I miss a day, that guilt paralyzes my ability to open my Bible the next day.
But then, today, I was told that God does not condemn me for that missed or limited time. He desires relationship with me. He delights in the time we spend together. He wants me to want to come to Him. The condemnation I feel does not come from Him. He is a loving, compassionate Father who desires time with His child. He wants our time to be motivated by desire to learn, not guilt over falling short.
Going into this morning I didn’t even realize how much I struggle with condemnation. Guilt and fear—sure, those are easy to see in my life. Condemnation? I would have thought that I too easily excuse my problems to struggle with that. But oh how much deeper the issue runs! I try to battle the condemnation all on my own by making up excuses and justifications rather than letting God speak to my weary soul. I am now remembering that He has searched me and He knows me. When I am steady and consistent in my quiet times, shining His light to those I meet and marveling at His glory at every turn—He’s with me. But He’s also with me when I am at my lowest—screaming at the dog, tripping over my toy-littered living room and trying to dig the least filthy sippy cup out of my dirty dish filled sink, as my dusty Bible asks for my attention. He made me. He has searched me and He knows me—the deepest part me that even my husband and mom don’t see. He knows the struggles, the fears, the hurts, and the guilt that plague my mind. And through all of that, He wants to pour out His love on me.
I’m going to daily use His Word to fight back against the condemnation and stop letting it paralyze my time with Him, what I achieve in my home and what I share here on the blog. I’m going to dwell on Psalm 139:23-34 because it represents how I need to define myself and my time. I’m going to write it in places throughout my home and keep it at the forefront of my mind: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.