A reminder.

June 3, 2015

God help me keep these reminders ever at the forefront of my mind as I navigate this season with a toddler and a newborn:

  • They are little boys, not robots.
  • If I become lazy in motherhood and am content to parent for convenience sake, then I will find myself content to raise Pharisees rather than godly men.
  • If I want the right behavior more than I want the right heart, I will be content to be harsh and not gentle in my tone and method.
  • My highest aim is to glorify God (regardless of outcome!), to raise men who love Jesus, and to adorn the gospel as I live with them … my highest aim is not to maximize my own sleep or comfort … or to raise quiet, good sleepers.  (So silly but trust me, I forget this!)
  • Discipline is for the Lord’s purposes, not my own.  I discipline their hearts away from wickedness … not to get my way in my time.
  • They’re little boys.  May I lead them, teach them, raise them with love.
  • May my heart be wide open, my service sacrificial, my tongue kind.
  • Let me steadfastly love JE, cheerfully submit to and help his leadership, and remember to take care of him in the little ways, too.
  • Little boys will make messes.  Making a mess is not a sin. :]
  • And as JE used to always say when Ian was first born, “They’re only this little once.”
  • Let me remember to give thanks in everything, in every season.  A grumbling and complaining spirit will go on grumbling and complaining even as God gives tremendous blessings, like these two little lives.

God help me, that my mothering would be a blessing to my husband and children, not a curse.

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“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” (Tim Keller)

Praise.  God.  I am sinful and flawed, but loved and accepted.  Because of Jesus.

Let me press these simple, profound truths to my heart every day.  Let me press them against the hearts of my husband and children.  In my many roles, let me be a woman of one Message.

Tiger kisses.

November 25, 2014

Just now, I was playing with Ian and pretending to be a tiger looking to eat him.  He laughed as he ran away here and there around the room, looking for somewhere to go.  Deciding there was nowhere better to go, he ran to me with his mouth open, stooping over to kiss my tiger mouth.  I just had to laugh and squeeze him.

Whooooo.

November 4, 2014

(Written on Saturday)

Brushing the dust off this blog.  It’s been a while.

I can hear JE and Ian romping around upstairs.  Ian is laughing and declaring, “Noooo,” in turn.  Saturday mornings at home are sweet.  Ian is most content when we’re both home.  Maybe his 1.5 year old heart grasps the fact that we are most complete when appa is home, too.  Or maybe he senses my quieted heart when appa‘s home.

Since marriage and Ian’s birth, I’ve become more … private?  Less heart-spilling on this blog to a wide, unknown audience and a deepening devotion to my little family, our church, and wherever our home’s branches reach.  I’m not great at wearing many hats and juggling many things at the same time, so with changed, sometimes-overwhelming new priorities, my tree has been stripped bare of all but a few branches.  Even those few things are hard to do well, but I’m learning and each day is a clean slate.

Life is less dramatic, less heartbreaking, less agonizing in this season, and it’s … different.  College and the single life felt like going through one fire after another, but my new “home” is actually a place of peace.  And rest.  Sin is here, too, in rampant measure, but I’m trying to learn to love and cherish God in the quiet, unremarkable duties of everyday life.  It’s easier for me to trust Him in moments of crisis than these moments that require a more steady faith — moment after moment determining I’d rather have Jesus than selfish melancholy, a hasty remark, a quick temper, or rebellious ingratitude.

And I’ve only recently begun to have any kind of regular rhythm in reading Scripture and prayer since Ian was born.  Whenever my routine is interrupted, it takes me sooo loooong to establish a new normal.  Where is God in this change?  How does my new role not undermine my eternal one?  How do I devote my heart’s affections to God when I’m so singly focused on adapting to the new thing in my life?  But His patience is unwearied.  Such a tender love.

In another 6 months or so, my hands will be full with an added stewardship, another precious gift, another little one to love and raise in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.”  I hope it’ll take me less time in the afterbirth to locate my life’s anchor and to operate out of that single spot … because a wife and mama whose heart and emotions are tossed here and there causes big waves in a little family.  But a wife and mama well-anchored in Christ holds much of her home steady with her … and speaks to the stability and beauty of her Rock.

Moments for reflection are more scarce than they used to be.  But my greatest prayer is that I would adorn the gospel in everything, particularly my marriage and motherhood — that my husband’s service to Christ wouldn’t be hindered, that my children would treasure Jesus, and that the world may taste the gospel in our home and friendship.

To make much of Jesus, this is all.

… Now to remember that once I stop typing. ;]

Generous motherhood.

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!”

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!

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!