April 2, 2014
(Thoughts from our mom’s group readings and discussions)
Motherhood is funny in some ways. I’ve found that it simultaneously expands my heart and shrinks it. It opens my perspective in some ways and shuts it in others. At least, left to myself it does. And as I continue through motherhood, I need to remember God’s generous heart and gospel love — not only to my child or my family but for others still, too.
In our mom’s group at church, we’ve been reading through Ed Welch’s book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest. It’s been a nourishing, convicting read in this season. This past week, we read about God’s generosity toward us, even while we distrust Him and hoard and claw for things for ourselves. Ed Welch reminded us that we don’t have to live with a tight fist or I-need-to-watch-out-for-me-and-mine-because-no-one-else-will mentality because God deals generously with us. Not that He gives us everything we want but He offers something — or rather Someone — better: Jesus. The better Manna.
His plan is to liberate us from our defensive, hoarding, tight-fisted, miserly ways, and to teach us that when we have been given the kingdom — the kingdom! — stinginess is unnatural and unbecoming. We might prefer a different strategy, but if God is molding us to be chips off the old block, His strategy makes sense. It is exactly what we need, because need is to be what we were intended to be — to be like Him.
(Welch, pp. 133-134)
When we operate from that truth, we can open our hearts and our hands to others.
What does that have to do with motherhood? In obvious ways, it makes me sacrificial toward my kiddo. But as Ian grows, I see my heart shrivel in other ways. Rather than becoming selfish for my child and hoarding for him, gospel love requires and enables me to open my heart to love and desire the best for other children, too.
I’ve found my selfishness manifest in wanting my kid to have the best and be the best. But this isn’t gospel generosity. Yes, I am primarily a steward of my own child, but God opens our hearts to steward our money, time, possessions, and gifts for others, too. Sometimes maybe even at the expense of my child! I realize there’s a danger in swinging too far to the other side and neglecting my child in so-called ministry and service acts, but of course I don’t mean this. I mean that He calls us to stop being so shrivel-hearted that we never taste the joys and sorrows of others. To stop being so myopic that we never rejoice in the successes of another child and feel their heartaches and failures, too.
I feel like motherhood is one area where it’s easy to justify selfishness on my child’s behalf. “At least it’s not for me!” I think.
Oh, but isn’t it? As I begin to view my child as an extension of myself and tie my successes and failures in with them (even my reputation as I think my child reflects on my parenting or my character), isn’t selfish mothering really just plain selfishness?
For me, it certainly is. And may God cut off sin’s tentacle here, too. Because only He can enable me to open my heart in any season. To look beyond “me and mine.” To see others. To love them. To pray for them. To give to them. To even think of them! Even that is so hard sometimes as I pace circles around me and mine only.
He gave His only begotten son for us. He adopted us into His family. He opened his heart and gave lavishly to those who weren’t naturally His — namely, us. So as part of His family, I now do this because it reflect my Father’s generous heart. And His heart is for all children, not just mine! I realize that’s obvious, but I guess I don’t always operate on the obvious.
And I can do this in little ways. I can think of someone other than my own kid when I’m out shopping. I can help another child “win.” I can sometimes sacrifice nap schedules and choose to serve another rather than my child’s sleep and the clock. Rather than hoarding my child’s time (as he grows older), I can release him for ministry. Maybe one day I can release him for mission work that will take him far away from home (not easy!). I can rather give of me and mine for the betterment of others. By God’s grace. Because this points beyond the natural to a supernatural love.
It points away from me and mine; it points to God and His. Which is infinitely better. For all of us.
God, open this selfish mother’s heart. That my heart and hands would stretch beyond my little world and see Your kingdom’s priorities in this world. Give me a heart that advocates children other than my own. Give me a heart that declares, “All is Yours! All is for You!”
March 22, 2014
Currently reading through The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, and the Home by Carolyn McCulley and Nora Shank. I’ve been following Carolyn McCulley’s articles and interviews on this topic for a year now, and I was really looking forward to her book release. Turns out JE knows me better than I imagined, because the book came in the mail before I even had a chance to order it! He heard about it and had it delivered to our home.
And … I promised JE I wouldn’t launch out on any crazy work ventures until I finished reading through this book. Haha. It’s giving me opportunity to reevaluate my priorities in this season of life and pray about what my “work” is to look like — in the home, toward my family, and other endeavors — all as unto the Lord. That last part is trickier than I would have thought, and culture has informed my views of work and success more than I thought. I wrestled with “ambition” in the past. What ambition should look like for a believer and specifically for a believing woman (here, here, here). Mostly generalities, and more questions than answers. But with some understanding for my life as a single and then as a wife with no children.
But it’s time for a fresh application. More on this to come.
On a completely different note, we discovered that Ian already inherited something from me.
That ugly cry.
Some people look really pretty while crying. Sorrow still looks attractive on them, if that makes sense. They can talk through their tears — some can even sing. I don’t cry very often, but when I do, my face contorts and the well of pent-up emotion erupts all over my face. JE says it’s a face of absolute pain and misery. And nothing comes out but accompanying ugly sounds.
Ian has the same ugly cry, where his face contorts into a mixture of several emotions mixed into one look and sound of anguish.
Haha, sorry baby boy. If you ever have a sister, I hope she cries prettier than we do …
March 18, 2014
Last part of the 30 day challenge series
10 things? I can’t think of 10 things. I can only think of a hundred (which will probably end up sounding incredibly cheesy and morbid) or just one. So I’ll stick with the one, the same one John Newton declared toward the end of his life:
That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.
That’ll suffice. ♥
I imagine the end of my life looking kind of like this. Bruised, disheveled, like one who just came out of a fight (the good fight, I hope). Except I’ll be happy. And not in trouble. :] By God’s grace.
Part of the 30 day challenge series
The original question was, What are your hopes and dreams for your future? But I think I covered a lot of this in Day 22′s prompt, so I’m going to tweak this question a little and describe some of my hopes and dreams for your future or your future sibling(s)’.
I’m excited to get to know each of you: to discover your unique personalities, temperaments, styles, gifts, weaknesses, and callings. As of now, I have no desire to impose any specific educational or vocational goals on any of you. I would love for each of you to use your gifts and skills in whatever honorable field.
No matter what each of you puts your hand to do, I pray it would be for God’s glory and gospel. And that it wouldn’t be love of mere service that compels each of you but love of God Himself. You can do this in secular work, too. It doesn’t have to be limited to what is normally categorized as God’s work. But I do hope at least one of you would be a long-term missionary, Bible translator, or pastor with a heart for the nations. ;]
I hope none of you are too rich or too poor, in the spirit of Proverbs 30:8-9, “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
I hope you and your sibling(s) are best friends. That you are generous with one another. That you are always for each other.
I pray there is no stored bitterness against either appa or me for our sins or mistakes that have come at your cost. Ian, first-born sons sometimes have the roughest relationships with their parents, particularly their dads. I hope you love Jesus, embrace His gospel, and understand that we aren’t perfect. I hope you and your sibling(s) understand that we are under grace, too. I pray for humble unity in our family and for love that covers a multitude of sins.
Of course kids-in-law and grandkids would be fun much later down the road. Oh, for the legacy of faith that started two generations above mine to reach that far. By God’s grace. For of course it isn’t legacy that saves people.
I hope each of you has great sense of humor, able to laugh at yourselves and laughing at the right things. Why? Because laughing at yourself requires humility, and laughing at the right things requires discernment and the right taste. I hope you never laugh at sin. I hope you never laugh at injustice. I hope you never laugh at the belittlement of God or others.
It’s tempting to want to raise Pharisees though, I’ll admit. Especially when I feel like so many are watching you and measuring me by how I raise you. I don’t want you or any of my kids to become “something for us to prove” as your parents. At least for a season I’ve given up “career” to raise you and devote to our family. I don’t want you to become my “career” or for your worldly success to become my new compensation. We have nothing to prove. We are stewards. You belong to God. Salvation is His to give. I think I’ll need to honestly remind myself of this over and over again. I don’t just want a well behaved kid. I want a kid to whom Jesus is sweet — no, sweetest.
I can probably think of more, but appa just got home. Dinner time!
March 16, 2014
Random post from time to time about what Ian ate. Not that I’m encouraging this kind of diet, but I’m not omnipresent and he gets into things before I can stop him sometimes.
So I’m making a list to show him later:
The past few weeks, Ian has eaten labels, price tags, stickers, and the corners of holiday greeting cards. And by “eat” I mean chew and either successful or unsuccessful attempts to swallow.
A few days ago, he ate the first half-page of his daddy’s Bible. Good thing it wasn’t actual Scripture. He almost succeeded in swallowing it, but I fished it out in time.
Today, I fell asleep on the couch in his room, and he grabbed the little tupperware of coconut oil that I use for him sometimes … and he ate it all. Licked it clean. Maybe 2.5 tablespoons of it. I woke up to a greasy-faced little boy. No wonder he was so quiet. And I only slept for a few minutes. I googled whether this would be an issue, and they said it’s good for him. Good for his skin, too. So I fed him his lunch as usual and left the oil on his face.
March 16, 2014
Part of the 30 day challenge series
Hard to pick just one, but the one that comes to mind right now is that he’s trustworthy. If he says he’ll be there, he’ll be there — at least as far as it depends on him. If says he’ll do it, he’ll do it. He feels things deeply, too, and he has his off days like anyone else; but he’s a man of principle. He isn’t generally volatile, capricious, or moody. He doesn’t run after his every emotion and give license to each of them. He keeps secrets. He’s steady. He’s faithful.
But don’t get me wrong. He isn’t bland! His trustworthiness is dynamic, creative, and thoughtful. It’s affectionate. It’s warm. It’s manly.
Ian, see those rainbow dots? It’s a meter. If it goes all the way right and hits red, that means you’re really crying your eyes out. And appa holding you so tenderly? He’s done this for you many times the past 10 months of your life, whether he was tired or having the kind of day when it might’ve been nice for him to be in your position. ;]
March 15, 2014
Part of the 30 day challenge series
To be honest, my first reaction to this question was to list all the things I don’t like about my body. Even 10 months after giving birth to you, I can name a thing or two that I wish was firmer or tighter. :] Not to mention new skin sensitivities and what-nots. You know, vain things that only a vain woman would really care about (like your umma!). But I’m learning to view my body differently now. Yes, to value inner and outer beauty in their rightful places — the former as chief and the latter as subject — but to also view my outer person as an instrument of love and service.
So from a real, every day point of view, my answer is … my hands.
With them I lift you, wipe your caboose and nose, wash an ever-growing pile of dishes, clean an ever-growing pile of laundry, cook our meals, open books and flip pages, write and type, demonstrate things for you, stroke your cheek, pat your back, play piano for you sometimes, and fish things out of your mouth (labels, stickers, small pieces of everything). Life would be much more difficult without my working hands. I’m sure we’d find a way around it (like those without hands do), but I’m grateful for my two hands. They aren’t the most beautiful things, but they are so useful in serving those whom I love. Like you!