Monday, April 23, 2012

Fibular Hemimeila - Children are an heritage of the Lord!

God has been, as of late, sending me a lot of mothering messages.  Isn't is good of Him to think of me?

Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. -Psalm 40:5

 How much more my thoughts should be toward Him --and not toward meaninglessness.  

When I graduated from college, I graduated with more than a bachelor's degree in English; I also obtained my degree in "Liberal Studies."  My "Liberal Studies" degree was quite influential, as I had learned that many of my small town, "Sunday school" ideas were simply outdated and the result of ignorance and a secluded mountain life.  My new degree had taught me to believe, among other things, that I was an independent woman who had the right to work outside the home and to not do so, especially after having obtained the "real" degree in English, would be quite absurd and certainly a waste of  four long years of work.  Though I still clung to the Bible, I learned to do so with a bit of animosity toward writers such as Paul who would, for example, suggest that I was to submit to my husband or be mindful of my place in the church.

Fast forward a mere two years, when this cotton haired little bundle was placed in my arms, and no degree could prepare me for the transformation that was to come to my life.  All the worldly philosophy about career and ambition simply faded and was quickly replaced with an overpowering instinct to love and to nurture.

Are you teaching your girls to be wives and a mothers?  Are you teaching them that there is no greater joy?  Are you teaching them that they do not have to "do it all"?  Are you teaching them that mothering is ALL, is enough, is stimulating, is challenging, is exhausting, is the greatest gift God will ever give them?  Are you teaching them to pray, when it doesn't feel like "enough," for God to give them strength, resolution, perseverance?

No, I'm not idolizing motherhood to the point of making it worthy of worship, but it is worthy of RESPECT.

When Josh was born, all 4lbs and 15oz of him, I planned to return to work after 12 weeks, but my heart couldn't bear it.  Eighteen month later, with depleted finances, my heart still couldn't bear it, and I trudged on to my first teaching position quite torn to say the least. What I hope to teach Emily is that if God grants her the privilege of motherhood, (and I do acknowledge that God's plan for every women doesn't include being a wife or mother) then prepare in advance by saving instead of spending, budgeting instead of living beyond her means.  Give her children what they need most:  their mother.

Now, before I get hate mail from all the working mothers out there, I speak quite hypocritically because I am one of those working mothers.  I have often wondered why things have turned out as they have ---why our financial situation has not afforded me the ability to stay home.  Questioning such things most often leaves me feeling as if I have somehow failed or missed a right path somewhere, yet God's plans prevail --and I have been so blessed to be a teacher.  One hundred and eighty days at school equals one hundred and eighty-five days at home --and that gives me peace.  Is it God's plan for all women to stay at home with their children?  I don't know.  I don't pretend to know God's plan for anyone's life. I do think that Chip Ingram said it best when he said that if a woman can keep God first, take care of her husband and her children and home, then she should work as little or as much as she wants. Of course there are always circumstances:  single moms, husbands who either can't or won't work, financial burdens ... the list seems unending. Our culture, in fact, seems intent on keeping women from their children.  Our culture entices us with the lie that we should give our children nicer things than we had growing up.  I can't think of a nicer thing that I had than my mom waiting for me every day when I got off of the bus.  In fact, it made her sad to recall that when she did go to work, when I was a teenager, I'd look for her car when the bus rounded the corner, hoping that she hadn't been called into the hospital (she was a nurse).  Her presence meant so much to me that even at sixteen, I still wanted her home.

What happened to June Cleaver?  What happened to moms cooking dinner and picking up toys?  What happened to children hitting baseballs in the yard and playing tag until dark?  As a society, we've decided that we want more --bigger, better --more education, more electronics, more activities.  And what we've collectively settled for is less.  Less time at home, less time with family, less time for God.  It has satan written all over it.  You've convinced us, as you so cleverly did Eve, that we can't be content with all of the "fruit" that we have --we need just one more "tree" to be happy.  Those outdated notions of wife and mother --they don't bring happiness.  You've convinced us, in fact, that such menial positions degrade us.  And we've fallen for it --and our children --and our society --are falling because of it. 

What's a woman to do, then?  Remain ignorant and uneducated and hope for a godly husband to show up on a white horse?  Nah, that's not the point.  I will encourage Emily to learn --to work in her studies as unto the Lord.  But, I pray each night, too, that God send her a man who loves Him and her (and hopefully her mom!) and that she be able to recognize him, not by the car that he drives, but by the God that he serves shining from the life song that he sings.

As a woman, I want to hear the voice of God, to yield to His instruction, to stop falling for lies and deception.  I also want, as Jesus did, to enjoy the ones I love.  I have spent too much time feeling guilty for situations that I cannot change and too little time looking for God's grace in all things.  Today, my baby girl is with my momma --who means so much to me.  She gets to enjoy morning kisses, library school, and McDonald's lunches, and I get to enjoy evening hugs, bath times, and bedtime stories.  Some days I am jealous, but most days, I am grateful.  Grateful that God saw fit for her to retire before Emily starts kindergarten next year and early enough in her diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension that she can still push her on backyard swings and curl her hair with pink sponge rollers.  Oh, we don't know the plan like He does --we don't know what's best.  We can only seek Him and trust Him --and Praise Him -- whether we are at home with newborn babies, making the most of school day afternoons with little ones growing too big too fast, or getting ready to watch little cotton haired bundles make their way to high school in only a few short months.  We can only pray that He help us in our mothering, that He fill our children with His spirit, that He be glorified by their lives --and by ours!

 Ephesians 5:15-17:  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Funny things --uncanny thing --God things happen every day. 
Today, after blogging, I read this on "My Utmost for His Highest":

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might . . .” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Isn't it nice that He's still thinking of me? Oh, He makes me cry! and smile at the same time!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spirit Walk

 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.-Gal. 5:25

I've been asked to speak at a women's retreat at my church, and at first I sought God as to what He would have me teach.  What He has pressed upon me, however, is not the what but the who --who I should be as a teacher, as His child, as His earthly example.

Sometimes, I get caught ... caught in the world's idea of "ideal."  I'm striving hard to lose those last 10 pounds and striving hard to pay off debt so that I can go back into debt to renovate my house.  Vanity.  Isn't it?  What is it that I hope to achieve with these goals?  Who is it that I'll be when they're achieved?  I'll be more accepted by a world that rejects my Savior ... and that really hurts to type.

A couple of weeks ago, during Spring Break at my school, I walked early in the morning at a local park (you know to achieve the 10 pound goal), and as I walked, I began to pray.  With a husband, three kids, and a full time job teaching, plus the all time consuming, albeit entertaining, Little League, life is so busy.  Not busy with sinful things, but busy with things that distract from the one GOOD thing (need I remind you of Mary and Martha?).  Prayer sometimes ends up at the bottom of a pile of good intentions --first thing in the morning --or after the kids are in the bed --having fallen through the cracks of tiredness and selfishness.  This morning, however, it was just me and my Savior --and the few men on the clean-up crew working on the debris from a day or two of heavy rain.  As I walked, pouring out my brokenness and confusion, my failings and my fears, I began to cry, sob actually.  Sobbing soon lead to praising, as the result of true repentance always does.  I can only imagine the thoughts of the clean-up crew, probably thinking I was so out of shape that I was wiping sweat from my face and raising my arms to increase my oxygen level. Not the most flattering image I admit. 

God is so good.  As I continued to walk, I started laughing at the realization of something quite profound:  this Spirit Walk --this broken, sobbing, hand lifted mess --was all that I had to be to meet His approval.  At that moment I had achieved something:  I was "ideal."  Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't perfect, I was just YIELDED.  And I want to be every day.

Why do we have yield signs?  So that we don't plow into oncoming traffic, believing that we have the right of way.  When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we avoid as much destruction in our lives as we do when we yield to the tractor trailer barreling down the interstate.  I want to learn to give Him the right of way, to slow down to that still, soft voice --to really hear Him and to really obey.

I want my definition of ideal beauty to match His:
1.  I want to put Him first.  I want Him to have the first fruits of my time and my energy, my worship and my obedience.
2.  I want to honor my husband.  I want to honor him with my words and my actions, with the way that I dress and speak, with the way that I prioritize my time. 
3.  I want to efface myself --to get out of the way so that others see Jesus before they see me.  This means that I cannot wear things that draw attention to myself, to my body in a way that isn't glorifying to my God.  It doesn't mean that I can't be feminine or attractive, but it does mean that I have to be subtle and modest.  I do not want to be a stumbling block to another woman's husband --and ladies please don't be a stumbling block to mine!  I want my words to be glorying and not full or gossip or slander or anything that isn't for the edification of another (Eph 4:29).
4.  I want to mother my children.  I want to shower them with love and affection and REAL attention and TIME.  I want to teach them every day, in every way, about their Heavenly Father, about unconditional love, and about respect and obedience, and laughter and beauty.
5.  Oh the list could go on and on ... I want to please Him ... to hear Him say, "Well done."  I want to be a useful vessel, a clay pot worthy of the sacrifice with which I have been bought. And when I fail, I want to HANG on to GRACE, to weep at the unjustness of the One who died for such a one as I.

Will you Spirit Walk with me?  
Will you pray that each day, I fight sleepiness and selfishness and worldliness