Thursday, April 30, 2015

5 Things Young Women Need

So many messages bombard women today. It starts when they are young and only increases as they are confronted with movies, billboards, magazine covers, and secular culture. The few pop songs I have heard lately have grossly offended me as a woman.

So what do young women need to know? What do they need to do? Surely we don't have to buy into the pop culture of immodesty, immorality, laziness, and self-centeredness. 

It's always better to go to the Bible than to the world when we are searching for truth. Let's look at just five things that young women (or people of all ages!) need.  

1. To pursue a strong relationship with Jesus. The only way to walk in confidence is to walk in obedience to God (Proverbs 14:26). As a believer in Christ, you can know the truth about yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14); you are chosen and royal (1 Pet. 2:9); you are God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10). 

When you know the truth about yourself you are freed from the lies that your worth is determined by your appearance. When you know the truth about yourself you are freed from the need for the approval of men. (Pro. 29:25). When you know the truth about yourself you can encourage other women. You are not in competition with them. 

2. To know the truth about your appearance. Your body is the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). God inhabits you at salvation. God made you in your mother's womb (Psalm 139:15). The Bible plainly states that "beauty is vain." What is most important about a woman is her spirit or who she really is. "A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

3. To understand your place in eternity. God made each of us for an eternal work. We were made for His glory and He formed us. He made each one of us personally (Isaiah 43:7). We are each called to surrender our bodies in service to God. (Romans 12:10) Life is simply not about us. 

4. To pursue skills. We are capable creatures and God has a work for each of us to do. Learn to DO things. Don't be content to be a ditz. It's not attractive and it devalues you. Learn to balance your budget, change the oil, make some bread, cook dinner, dress for an interview, entertain children for a few hours, deliver a presentation. There is really no excuse to not learn; you can find almost anything on the internet. (See Exodus 31:1-6. God gives His people skills to use to serve Him.)

5. To get to work. Go to that work that God has given you (1 Corinthians 10:31). If you are in school, learn as much as you can. Be the best student that you can be. If you're working, learn the skills you need for your job and do them with excellence. If you are single, married, or dating, pursue Jesus. You will not receive the validation you need from a boyfriend or spouse. Be the wife your husband needs. Encourage your boyfriend to serve Jesus. 

There is so much more to being a woman than our physical appearance, our relationship status, our salary, or our social position. We have a place of influence that we can use to spread the Gospel in our own neighborhood and around the world. Use it! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In Your Darkest Moments

Five years ago today Micah had a metabolic crisis. We woke up to a cold-to-the-touch, impossible-to-rouse five day old. We ended the day in the waiting room of a children's hospital an hour away. I have so many memories of that day that I avoid thinking about most of the time. But today I consider them all. Here's the one that sticks out the most.  (The picture is Micah in the local emergency room before he was flown to a children's hospital.)

The hallway was cold and empty. At the end I could see the swinging double doors that led to the neonatal intensive care unit. The fluorescent lights illuminated the not-quite-clean floor and the noise faded away. I realized that we were going to lose Micah. He was going to die from this. Whatever it was he had was going to kill him. With shallow breaths I made a statement in my heart that shaped everything that happened afterwards.

I told God that He could have my baby. 

Of course it wasn't up to me but I did have a choice in how to respond to what His plan was. I told God that I didn't know how I would make it- I would have to have His help- but Micah was His.

Later that night in a tiny room I continued reading the next Psalm. I read Psalm 139. If you haven't ever read it go read it. And think about what I just told you while you read it. 

God understands all about me (v. 1-4). God goes with me (v. 5-10). And of course there's the famous verses about God creating us in the womb (v. 13-16).

But what stuck with me were the verses in between. Verses 11 and 12 say, "If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." 

That was darkness for me. It was covering me, pulling me under with questions and fears and an unknown future. But God said that even that night could be light- was light- to Him. To God the night shines as the day does. 

God was not in heaven wringing His hands saying, "Oh, what have I done? How am I going to fix this?" He was calm, in control, moving steadily with His plan. He could see just as clearly in that fierce-to-me darkness as He could on my brightest day. He was not blinded by the situation. 

This is the God we serve. In Isaiah chapter four, a dark situation has just been described. Take a few minutes and read chapters 2-4. Did you see what it said about God in those trying times? "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious," (Isaiah 4:2). God's character is unchanging through our trials. Though His plan be a path we don't want to take God has not changed (Hebrews 13:8).

I don't know where you are in life. I don't know if you are rejoicing in triumphs or if you are in despair as life falls apart around you. Whether it's sickness, death, relationship troubles, troubling questions about faith, or some other unwelcome surprise, you can rest on the fact that God has not changed. He is still with you. He still loves you

We see in the people in the Bible that life can hold great difficulties. Look at Joseph, Job, Jeremiah, Esther. Look at Mary. Yes, we picture her as the woman picked out of the history of the Jewish nation to bear the Messiah but think of her life on earth. She was scorned, her reputation taken away. She lived to see her Son die on a cross. That was not an easy life. But we do have a promise to take with us. "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

-In darkness our hope is Jesus. 
"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." Micah 7:8

-In despair He is our song. 
"Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindess in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

-In tears He is our strength. 
"In the day when I cried thou answerest me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3

I don't know what your story is. I don't know what the end of it will be in this life. But I do know that God promises that He is at work in our lives until the end (Psalm 138:8, Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4). Take hold of that in your dark hour. Cling to Jesus for He will never leave you. 

"Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:10

Thursday, April 23, 2015

6 Ways to Help a Family with a Baby in the NICU

{Micah is five today. It's been five years since his birth and his diagnosis and his NICU stay. It's something I would never choose to relive yet it's shocking that it's been so long. And it seems like lately I've had friend after friend with a baby in the hospital. You probably have too.}

The strangest sensation of the NICU was the knowledge that outside those walls the world was going on like normal. Unaware, uncaring that my heart was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. That my heart was barely beating because I was holding my breath in case it helped. That my heart was breathing out prayers incoherent to other people. 

While I was watching monitors other moms were putting children down for naps or going grocery shopping. People were romping around parks, watching movies, and commuting to work while I was wondering which direction life was going to go. It's an eerie feeling. 

But other people can reach you there, giving strength in what can only be weakness. Bolstering your faith with their prayers, encouraging your heart with their generosity, feeding your body with the work of their hands. 

There are things you can do to help a family in the NICU- because if the baby is there, the family is all there in one way or another. 

1. Pray. Pray specifically. Pray often. Pray for the parents. Let the family know you are praying. And then do it. Don't just say it and then forget. Do it. 

2. Offer assistance. Offer to care for older children. Offer to do laundry, drop off food, sit with the baby at the hospital. Offer to clean the house, shuttle other children to appointments, offer to sit and listen. 

3. Send money. NICU's are expensive. The sicker your baby is the more expensive it is. The expenses pile up quickly. The parents may need to stay at a hotel near the hospital or get care for their older children. They're going to need to eat. They are going to need to buy gas. (One of the neatest things we received was a gift card to the cafeteria at the hospital.)

4. Ask questions. Ask how the baby is. Ask how the mama is. Ask how the daddy is. Then listen without judgment and repeat steps one and two. 

5. Encourage the parents to take care of themselves. I remember struggling to choke down a few bites when Micah in the NICU. But a sick mama and a sick baby helps no one. They need to eat, sleep, and shower. Maybe even stand outside in the sunlight for five minutes. 

6. Keep up with events via Caring Bridge or a blog. Text, fb message, or email the family but don't expect a response. It will mean a lot to know that you asked even if they don't have the time or resources to respond promptly. 

Having a sick baby is a road that no one expects to walk. But we can all go alongside someone that's traveling it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hearty Counsel

A couple of weeks ago I was having a discussion with some ladies about our walks with God and how often we read our Bibles. Thankfully that is something that has been a habit for me for at least 15 years. I was regularly reading my Bible even before I trusted Christ as my Savior when I was 15. And I'm so glad. I want to read it and read it and read it and soak it up. I want it to become part of me. I want it to come out in the way I talk and think about the world and act (in private and before others). 

A few weeks ago I read Proverbs 27 and verse nine talked about being full of hearty counsel. The verse says, "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel." 

I want to be a person full of hearty counsel. Sure I want to be able to use small talk effectively. I want people to feel at ease in my presence. But I also want to go deeper. I don't want to go through life just barely skimming the surface of what's important. 

Women aren't often known for hearty counsel. Instead we develop a reputation for deceit and gossip and slander. We talk about others and cut people down. We are either blunt and rude or we only say nice things, even if they aren't true. Let's not be that kind of lady. 

Hearty counsel has to be grounded in the Bible. My own opinions are not hearty counsel. The world's viewpoint is not hearty counsel. But Jesus' words? That's hearty counsel. And we seem to be forgetting them more and more often. 

Hearty counsel tells the truth in love even if it hurts (Eph. 4:15). Hearty counsel says the pointed things about life when it would be easier to be quiet. Hearty counsels says "When you have time for facebook and not reading the Bible it shows that you care more about facebook than Jesus." That's love because it forces someone to look at what they are doing and maybe change. Anything less than truth does not encourage change. It says, "Oh, it's ok." when starting to read their Bible regularly could transform their lives. That's not love. Friends don't omit the truth. 

Hearty counsel respects the depth of other's burdens, regardless of how big or small they seem. Fourth-graders have burdens. Often they seem very small and laughable to adults but they are very serious to their elementary school hearts. I want to respect that. I want to respect that in the grown lady that is disturbed by something that seems so infantile and I really want to say, "Get over it!" That wouldn't respect her burden. 

We need to offer this hearty counsel to ourselves. To replace the lies we tell ourselves with the truth of God's Word. To give ourselves grace for our burdens even if we think they are small.  We need to tell ourselves the hard things instead of making excuses. 

We should seek this hearty counsel. It's easy to find people who will tell you what you want to hear. But you need friends to tell you the truth. Who do you listen to? Do they know the Bible? Do their lives line with up with Word? Be picky who you take advice from. 

I don't want to be the woman who says just nice things; I want to speak the truth. I want to speak it compassionately. I want to speak it boldly. So I must know the truth. I want the truth to be what comes from my heart and my mouth in all situations. So I need to read the truth. Study the truth. Learn the truth. 

How are you putting truth into your life today?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Advice to High School Students

It always amazes me when people say "high school years are the best years of your life." What on earth did they do after they graduated? Life is much better as an adult. But here's my words to high school students because we all gotta be one. 

-High school is just the beginning. It's ok if people don't like you, you don't fit in, or you don't even like yourself. Learn as much as you can. Befriend the new people and the outcasts. Let the teachers help you. Ignore the drama. 

-Take the opportunities that arise. Join that art club. Study a foreign language. Do that internship your senior year. Join the orchestra. Work during the summer. Play sports. You can't do it all but pick a few and stick with them. 

-Don't heed the call of the "cool crowd." They will only take you down. The cool crowd isn't interested in following Jesus. They will take you places you don't want to go and you will leave behind important parts of yourself to be accepted by them. It's not worth it. 

-God's will is happening now. It's easy to think that the mysterious will of God only applies once you're an adult. That's not true. God's will is obeying today. Are you obeying what you know the Bible says today? Then you are doing God's will. You don't have to do weird, mystical things to prove you love God. Just obey. 

-Give grace. You will be surrounded by people who either don't believe like you do or don't believe at all. Let your shine shine and keep your judgments to yourself. Of course stand by your convictions and say it with grace when it's needed. Our Pastor always says that immature Christian go around telling other people their convictions; let them see it in your life. 

-Your body? It's a temple, a tool. Your body isn't for showing off and it doesn't define who you are. Use it; don't abuse it, and don't worship it. (Oh, and put some clothes on it while you're at it.)

-Consider your future wisely. You are hurtling toward it at a speed you can't imagine. College, relationships, interests will all come together and make choices for you if you aren't careful. Find a Christian (I recommend your pastor) who loves you and seek counsel.

-Read. Skip the video games and the internet. Grow your mind; don't waste your time. Do your homework while you're at it too. 

-Love your family. They may not be what you wanted; they may not even be good for you. But love them. You don't have to walk their path to accept that God placed you there in their midst. Respect your parents; encourage your siblings. 

-Work. It's not a bad word. Learning how to work and to love work will benefit your life over and over as you get older. You will get jobs and keep them. You will receive excellent recommendations when it's time to move on. You will accomplish things with your life that laziness would deprive you of. 

-Learn as much as you can. You never know when or how you will use it. What seems unnecessary right now may become a turning point in the future. If someone is willing to teach you a skill, learn it. 

I enjoyed high school but you couldn't pay me enough money to go back. The life ahead of you is much better than what you see now. Use where you are for what you will do later. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

6 Ways I Help My Family Thrive

I recently started a Twitter account for the blog (@delighting_days). I have to admit that I love a love/hate relationship with Twitter like I do with Facebook. But since I'm tweeting for the church I wanted a little more room to play around with whatever it is you're supposed to do on Twitter. I would like to do social media well, both for the blog and for church. But you know what? It's far from being my most important work. 

This family work that happens in our home outside the scope of notice- no likes or favorites or shares- depends on me. Of course my husband is important but I'm the one that's here. I have been given a special charge for loving these people and this home. (Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 31:27)

How can my family thrive under my care? I don't want them to just "get by." I don't want to only provide the bare necessities for life. I want them to bloom in this home: to develop and grow. I want this place to be more than a hotel would be. Here are a few ways I try to accomplish this. 

1. I must flourish in Jesus myself. If I don't put something in I have nothing to give out. I must have a growing relationship with God myself that I am feeding and developing every day. It is the only way to success. (Joshua 1:8) If I want to show God's love for my family I must know God's love for me. I must live in it. (See Ephesians 3:14-21: I need to be filled with God so that godly things overflow from me.)

2. They must know they are important. I must choose them. Choose them before the television, before friends, before this blog. I want them to know that I love them. I want my husband to know I'm his number one fan. I want my kids to know that they are treasures from God and I delight in them. People don't thrive where they don't think they matter. 

3. They must know they belong. We are all a little weird. I want our home to be a belonging place. Their place. I want to welcome my husband home. I want to make our home a place that reflects him and where he feels comfortable. I want it to be his favorite place. I want to fill it with their projects and loves and interests even if it makes a non-magazine home. I want them to have a spot in our family and to accept one another. 

4. I must have the right attitude, not a "well, I have to do this" attitude. I don't want them to think that I'm always slaving away to care for them. It's work but it's priceless work. Everyone works and we get to choose who we work for and how we do it. I want to work enthusiastically, sacrificially. I choose to put my lifework into this family. I could go get a job but that's not what we want for our family now.  

5. My words and my tone matter. What do I tell these precious people? Do I build up my husband? Do I look him in the eye when he talks? Do I speak life-giving words about him? Do I care enough about my children to correct them properly? To speak kindly? Do I affirm the way God made them? Proverbs 16:23 is a great starting place for this topic. I can't just babble out anything I think. 

6. I need to recognize each member as an individual. We are all different and need different things. I need to meet them where they are and not where I would like for them to be. I don't want any of these men to feel like I'm not proud of how God made them. Or that they need to be someone else. I want them to grow in confidence in who God made them to be and what He wants them to do. Not in what everyone else is doing. 

I want to do everything I can for my family and pray that God does the rest. The fact that so much of it is beyond me does not release me from the responsibility of what's in my grasp. 

How do you help your family thrive? 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Real Life Pretending

When I was little I was always pretending. I was Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. I was a pirate on a ship at sea. I was fighting off the bad guys that attacked the fort. Always the heroine of course, because who pretends to be the bum on the couch who only plays video games?  No one wants the uninteresting life until they realize how much work an interesting life requires. There are many struggles because the struggles make the story. 

An interesting life involves a lot of learning and sometimes in the least desirable way. An interesting life is uncomfortable. You can't just coast through on what you already know how to do or sit in an easy place emotionally. You will constantly be pushed and pulled out of your comfort zones. You'll carry emotions that you would rather not and you'll learn to keep working while you figure it out instead of putting life on hold until everything is right again. 

Pretending isn't gone once you're an adult. There are bad kinds of pretending. The "pretending I have it all together." No one does. The "pretending I'm in control of my life and what happens." Even you know you're not. Pretending can show up in a bad way that keeps us from being authentic and real and genuine. When we are inauthentic we lose credibility. Instead of someone looking at our lives and seeing the work and the effort and the ache of living they see an unrelatable pretense and it turns them off. We can't teach them anything we should be learning. We can't encourage them where they are. We can't even direct them to other people who can. We have no influence in pretense.

Pretending can be a very good skill to keep cultivating once you are grown. Our words speak life or death into our own lives. What we say becomes part of our reality. That sounds spooky, doesn't it? It works like this: what we say is what we think about. What we think about becomes part of who we are. What do you say to yourself every day? Do you complain about the work your children require? Do you continually sigh that your children will never learn and the effort to teach them might be a waste of time? Do you tell yourself that your life and your work doesn't matter, like you know more than God? If you tell yourself those things you need to try pretending. 

Use pretending to your advantage. If you've never tried this, you're going to write me off as crazy. Don't. Try it for a week and see what happens. And know that the more you do it the better you get and the more it helps you. 

This works for big things that are true even though we don't always see them. And it works for little things that just aren't true even if we believe they are.

Pretend you got enough sleep. (All the mamas laughed!) This means you don't whine about how little you slept. You don't stop and think, "Oh, if only I were sleeping more" or "I can't do that until I'm sleeping more." No, think about what you would do if you were getting enough sleep and then do that. Of course take the practical measures to get more sleep. Grab a nap when the kids are napping. But quit handicapping your thought process. Pretend. 

Pretend that you are a professional writer/artist/musician/whatever you love. How would that change how you approached the work? Would you get up early and write before the kids got up if you were a professional? Would you make time to practice if you were a professional? Would you change how you thought about yourself and your art if you were a professional? You can even take this a step farther in determining how to act. "If I were the best mom that God would have me be, how would I act?" "If I were glorifying God with my words, what would I say here?" It can change your life. 

Pretend that you are doing important work and that lives are depending on you. (Oh wait, you really are!) Pressure isn't always a bad thing. If I'm being operated on, I want my doctor to feel pressure to do his best and do it right. I should feel pressure to lean into God's strength and wisdom to work with this family. I should feel pressure to learn time management so that I can do the things God has called me to do. (Not everything; just God's work for me.)

Pretend that you matter. Because you do. God created you on purpose with a purpose. Don't speak death words about your life not mattering and no one seeing you and how you only have 15 Twitter followers. Don't worry about that. Realize your life is important if you are glorifying God with it. Do your best work. 

What about you? Do you pretend in order to teach yourself truth? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Survey 2015 Observations

You all were so kind with your open-ended responses! I wanted to sit down and chat about some of the things you told me and asked me. But since that's not possible I do want to answer some of your questions and mention a few things that surprised me. 

Some random observations: 

1. I was surprised at how many men read the blog. I never considered you in my target readership (sorry!). I haven't decided if this will change content or not but I'm leaning toward no.
2. Marriage topics are one of your favorites! Who knew? This is one I don't write about a lot. That will change. 
3. A lot of you don't use social media. Also a surprise. And if you do and don't follow me you'll get a more "inside" glimpse at life from it. Twitter and Instagram- @delighting_days
4. It was also interesting to guess at a few surveys that came from, I think, people I know in real life. Some were obvious (dear husband whose questions I'm not even going to answer since they regarded dinner) and some were just good guesses from the answers as a whole. Yes, I know that ruins the point of an anonymous survey. 
5. You were pretty equally split between people who had only been reading a few months and people who had been reading for several years. 

On to the questions: (the rest I'll answer in separate posts)

Q. When did you discover you could draw and paint so well? 
A. (I told my husband this was going to give me a big head.) I've been drawing and painting since I was little. Most of the things I'm "good at" and enjoy doing I've been doing in some form my whole life. This is one of those skills that gets shelved and then brought back to the table depending on my life season. I think it's one that will have it's time once my children are older. I'm just trying to sharpen my skills a little now. 

Q. Has being such a creative cook always come so easy for you?
A. Background on why I can cook first: my mom has taught me to cook since I was very young. I think that accounts for most of this. Cooking doesn't scare me because I know the basics. That's why I'm comfortable playing around with what I'm doing. I have a general idea of flavors that will taste good together and how to combine different ingredients. But I think if you don't know the basics you can't move beyond that. 

Q. What Bible do you use? 
A. King James Version

Q. Do you like staying in a college town, or would you have rather moved on after Cumberland? 
A. I like the people. I get attached to people and they make the life for me. I do enjoy being able to raise our boys "in the country" but I wouldn't be opposed to living somewhere bigger. Let's face it, there's nothing in Williamsburg. Or at least an hour in any direction.

Q. How do you handle practical, but beautiful modesty on a daily basis? Resources, styles, building a wardrobe as a SAHM, etc. 
A. Thanks for the compliment. Two things to give you a better idea of how I do clothes. It's hard for me to find clothes that fit; I'm too tall for most clothes with the length I'm comfortable with wearing. And I rewear a lot. I have friends and know of people who try not to wear the same thing in a year. That is not me. I find an outfit that works and I wear it to death. And this answer got really long so I'm going to do an entirely separate post on this to answer your question more fully. I'll try to even take some pictures. 

Thanks for participating in the survey and thanks for showing up to read! If you have any other questions or thoughts please share them in the comments or use the Contact Me form. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Our Present Mission Field

It's easy to glamorize anything you aren't doing presently while the work before you seems routine and dull.  We would all like to say we would go as missionaries if God called us. If we were on the mission field we would deal with the uncomfortable, the disruptions, the rude questions, the heat or the cold. We would love the unlovable, open our homes to strangers, preach Jesus in the streets. We would sacrifice sleep and our own desires. We would hold back the rude comments and the complaining. We say we would do those things if we were on the mission field. 

Who says we're not? 

Why isn't this place before us a mission field? Are we supposed to represent Christ any less here? Here in our homes, at our jobs? Here in America or where ever you are? Are we supposed to hold our lives of less worth because we don't have a title? Because we aren't in "full-time Christian service?" Does that make us only part-time Christians? 

I would say that I would calmly love the unlovable but how do I respond to my children when they are acting in unlovely ways? Do I act in a way that represents Christ or a way that satisfies my flesh and keeps me awake at night? 

I say that I would deal with the disruptions and the waiting but how do I act when my my schedule is interrupted or I have to wait at the doctor's office? How do I act when I've gotten my three children out and am then told we'll have to come back another time? Do I represent Christ less in that instance than I would if I were in Asia? 

Do people in other countries need to see Christ more than our neighbors do? 

I'm in no way discounting foreign missions. A good chunk of our monthly income goes to supporting foreign missions. But what's our excuse? Those of us who haven't gone. Are we giving ourselves a blank check that our place doesn't matter? Our testimony doesn't matter? That our families aren't worth the work that strangers would be? 

If it's about the name, give yourself one. Call yourself "resident mother missionary" or whatever you need to to make yourself see the work in light of eternity. 

My work is right here in rural Kentucky. This work with no title, no salary, no temporal compensation is just as important as serving in Africa. Why? Because this is where God has put me. How you are doing your work is much more important than where you are doing it. If you do it the right way God will put you where He wants you to be. 

If you won't love the unlovable in your home, you won't love the unlovable in Argentina. If you won't speak gracious words when people are rude and insulting in Wal-Mart, you won't do it in the market in the Middle East. If you won't give your time to the service of cleaning toilets and grocery shopping and changing diapers with running water, refrigerators, and diaper pails, you won't do it with brown-outs and trips to crowded markets. 

If you can't do it here, where the work and life is filled with conveniences, how can you do it somewhere where it's harder? Don't flatter yourself. You'd still be the same person if you were transported to another country and given the title "missionary." You'd still lose your temper and get frustrated with your kids. You'd still roll your eyes at your husband. You'd still stiffen up at the preaching instead of responding with a soft heart. 

Be it here. Tell yourself that you're a missionary because you are. Represent Christ where you are now and you'll represent Christ wherever you are. 
Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as though you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love them. C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Where Motherhood Intersects with Creativity

(This, shockingly, is not going to be a post about being creative with your mothering and how you can draw your children into enjoying the things that you love. All of that is true though and you can find plenty of it through google.)

I have three little boys. -Newsflash in case you haven't been reading here long.-  Little kids require a lot of work. Not overly complicated work but very busy work. It's easy to think sometimes that if I didn't have to wipe noses, change diapers, read books, and buckle shoes so often then I could be more creative or get more work done. What a harsh attitude to have toward my children and to this calling that's been put before me. (And if you have kids God put it before you too!)

 This family is my first work. Outside of my relationship with Jesus these people inside the walls of this house are the most important. They should get my best. Then, as seasons change and time allows, there is room for other things. Time to help others and serve the needy. Time to pursue a passion, sharpen a skill, and use those abilities to help others. Life is certainly not just about "mine" because I realize that God sees all of these as "His" and therefore they matter to me. But when it comes to my attitude toward my little loves and things I love to do, the little loves have to win. (And yes, there is typically time to do both.)

It's a matter of the heart. Our heart shows up in our priorities and how we live. Do I put more effort into planning my social media and blog posts than I do into planning for my boys education? Education about God and preschool work and habit training and skills developing. Do I guard my time to write more than I do my marriage? Do I spend more time squeezing in making art than I spend at the feet of Jesus?  

Do I believe God wants me to write? Yes, I do. Does it really matter if I post on the blog this week? In the light of maintaining consistency, sure. But in the light of eternity probably not if I'm neglecting my first work. When I look at what really matters, I see people. I see my husband and our children. I see our families and friends. I see our church and the people there. I see the people I come across every day. I even see the people who read this blog. That's why I do the work, whatever it is. I want to point others to Jesus, whether it's my husband or it's you. 

The work of the home is little noticed. But it is essential. People need a place. People require food.  I want to do these things well. Our home matters. It influences many more than just the few that live here because it shapes all of us and how we impact others. The laundry, the cleaning, the food prep, the discipline- it's real work that matters even if it doesn't come with a paycheck, promotions, or retirement. 

I'm not just marking time through motherhood until I can do something else. Twiddling my thumbs, sighing, and rolling my eyes as I care for these little people thinking it's all a waste. I'm not running from the hard- and sometimes it is hard. I'm not looking for easier work- calling from God or not, it's still work. This- these little people, the supper table, the nightly prayers with the husband- this is the work that will mark eternity. It will settle into the grain of our marriage and the people our children are becoming. Don't view motherhood as the enemy. It is a battleground, yes, but with ourselves. It is the Potter's wheel where He rubs off our rough areas. It's our learning center, where we learn about God, ourselves, and how to relate to others. Motherhood doesn't keep you from what you want to do. It makes you who you want to be. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reader Survey 2015

So I write and jabber here about twice a week (and occasionally more over the years) and you so graciously show up to read it. It's about time I gave you a chance to talk, don't you think?

Please take this ten-question survey so I can better understand you! Thanks bunches! (And no, it's not an April Fool's joke.)

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