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Posts Tagged ‘Mother’

A baby … a newborn baby … with ten fingers, and ten toes …images-8

When the doctor hands a newborn to the exhausted mom, she counts …

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 , 9 … 10 …  t  e  n, complete.

It is as though there is some primal need to count and confirm the existence of all appendages, all phalanges.

When it comes to giving birth, and becoming a mom (I cannot adequately speak for what it is to become a dad) primal is the best word to describe the experience. There is nothing like becoming a mom to make a woman realize what it is to want to save every child everywhere in the world. Newscasts of missing children, sick children, violated children stir a primal response from us that was just not as strong, not as emotion-filled before the moment when we knew, instinctively, that we were a mom.

Sometimes I think that God, in His all-knowing wisdom and understanding of we human creatures, chose to send His son to us, born of a woman, so as to draw we females to Him and to ensure that we would feel, and understand, and KNOW that hope, and peace and redemption was for us too.

Finally, after years of women experiencing a devalued existence, they were not only offered forgiveness and atonement for sin, but it was also provided through the womb of a woman, granting the opportunity to be part of the deliverance of His people. There was a oneness with the Father God, sharing in His love and pride of His own son, as well as the sorrow and separation that the crucifixion delivered.

How many of us, as women, have seen the images of Mary on cards, in nativity sets, or in stained glass windows or how many of us have heard or read the Christmas story, causing us to wonder, as Mary did, about all that had been told to her, all that was happening, and what was to come.

I believe that God was making a point, for all the world to see, of just how valuable we daughters of Eve are to Him.

“Love came down, at Christmas …
Love be yours and love be mine …”

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graphic-1-150x215I have said in the past that I so respect the job of at home mom (The Most Important Job In The World).

The guest post I am offering today comes from a writer who I have just started to follow. Her ‘about’ page says of herself:

Australian. In America. Sister. Friend. Daughter. Wife. Mother. Writer. Teacher. Pastor. Artist. Traveler. Coffee-lover. GF DF SF Foodie. Inept but happy homemaker.”

Today, in her post Oikouros: Keeper Of The Home, the author touched my heart, and brought back the memories of being that tired mom of preschoolers..

If you are reading today, and you are feeling that fatigue, that sense of being under appreciated in today’s society, please accept this as my verbal encouragement and support.

“It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s not that I want anything to change. It’s just that this is a different life than I expected.

It’s noon and so far I have sorted two loads of clean laundry, tidied rooms, done dishes, changed a pee diaper, changed a poop diaper, vacuumed, made breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, put in more laundry, tended to a crying pox-covered child, disciplined the non-poxed one, hovered over the poxed one to get her to pick up her toys, processed medical paperwork, worked on our August budget, angrily picked up my husband’s socks and assorted other abandoned clothes of his, turned a blind eye to the bathrooms that have needed cleaning for far too long, worked out a meal plan for the week using only what we have on hand because this month’s budget is $500 short, researched MRSA because the doctor’s office called with positive culture results from the pox (“We are running additional tests”), and felt frustrated at every turn.  Mad, even.  Except I’m too tired to maintain being mad.

Today I feel like a tattered remnant of myself.  This is the weirdest job I’ve ever had. And it’s not a job. It’s what I am: mother of small children.

Mothers of small children are a people group unto themselves.  This season of motherhood shapes a female human in very specific ways.  And regardless of occupational circumstances, whether she be full-time at-home or full-time work-and-home, mothers of small children are stretched thin.

Oh so thin.

A few years ago my friend, who at the time was pregnant with their first-born, said she was worried that she’d feel stuck at home after baby was born.  My response, as a mother of one toddler, had been so confident: “The answer is easy. If you feel that way, let’s get in the car and go somewhere fun!”

Nothing wrong with positive thinking. Right?  But today I’m feeling so deeply what my friend had feared.  It’s as she described: stuck. Stuck at home. Stuck in my heart. Stuck in a rut. Stuck in the hamster wheel of day after day sameness.  Like I’m living in my own version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” I’m desperate to find a way out of this loop.  Today the thinly stretched me is asking:  Am I living in the fullness of God’s creation of me?

Today I felt led to Titus 2.  And by “led” I mean… it came to mind and it made me angry.  And I see His familiar presence in the stirring of my heart.  The Holy Spirit is taking me to a passage to mentor me.  He whispered, “keeper of the home” to my heart to get my attention.  And, as He knew I would, my reaction was to rise up and revolt.  Those words, “keeper of the home,” feel like a cage.  Like a punishment.  Like I’ve been benched from real life.  And put in a place of bland resignation.  Yes, Holy Spirit, you have my attention.

Ok friends, please… hear me.  Of course I know the call of our Faith is to sacrifice.  Yes, there is a beautiful blessing in laying down our gifts, skills, education, passions, and dreams before the cross of Jesus.  There is a much-needed dying to self in our walk with Yahweh.  Yes. And amen.

But I have a hiccup in my heart.  And, thank God, it’s not my job to sanctify myself.  It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to transform me.  And today He’s exposing a fear and a feeling of rebellion in my heart:  I feel pressed into a cookie-cutter that demands I become a laundry-loving, seasonal-décor-using, smiling-always, sweet as sugar, house-cleaning aficionado.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I have a friend who fits that description.  She’s great.  But what brings her joy, brings me depression.  Sure, I hear you.  It could be that she simply has a better attitude and heart than I do.  And that I just need to fix my attitude.  Yes, I agree.  But I can’t do that on my own.  Or rather, I refuse to do that on my own.  Because a few weeks ago I taught about the temptation to be the source of our own solutions (Luke 4:1-4.)  And I do not want to make my own bread.  And so, I’m glad the Holy Spirit is drawing me to Titus today.  As we work through this together, He will change me and I will be changed.

Older women likewise are to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord, not malicious gossips nor drunkards (enslaved to much wine) but models of goodness. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble. By looking at them, the younger women will know to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined), to love their husbands, to love their children, to be virtuous (sensible, self-controlled), pure, keepers of the home, good-natured (kindhearted), being subject (adapting and subordinating themselves) to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed, discredited, dishonored). Likewise urge the young men to… (Titus 2:3-6a NAS, AMP, NLT, ESV, MSG)

There is a LOT of amazing stuff in this passage.  So many good and wise words.  We could sit in this passage for weeks… or possibly our whole lives.  This is a good path: walking out these things with the power of the Holy Spirit.

But today I’m solely captivated by the words that are irritating my heart: “Keepers of the home.”  These words seem so different from the others in the list.  A seemingly highly practical item in a list of quests of ministry and heart.  Or is it?

Oikouros is the Greek word translated to the phrase “keeper of the home.”  The definition given by the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon are:
1. caring for the house, working at home

2. the (watch or) keeper of the house
3. keeping at home and taking care of household affairs
4. a domestic

Yes, as I expected.  “At home.”  “A domestic.” “Household affairs.” But there is something else in that list.  “The (watch or) keeper of the house.”  The watch?  What?

The root words that form Oikouros are “Oikos” and “Ouros.”  And in these root words my heart has felt the whisper reminder of God’s vision for my season as a mother of little ones.

Ouros: A guard, Be “ware”
– Guard: to protect, to shield, to watch over, to maintain control over, to determine and supervise entry and exit to.

– Be “ware”: to watch, be wary, be aware, be wise.

Oikos: a house, home, a palace, the house of God, the tabernacle, a dwelling place, a human body, one’s settled abode, a household, all the persons forming one family, the family of God, the Christian Church.

As I read these words today, I felt my vision adjust.  Like a chiropractor for my heart.  And things clicked back to a good and right place.  Stepping back from my tree, and now able to see the forest again.

My call as keeper of our home as very little to do with laundry and housework and all the required mundane details.  Yet, I have allowed them to become a tyrant in my life.  I have let them consume my energy.  I have let them become a god.  Because there is always so much of that stuff to do!  But “keeping my home” is NOT keeping my home clean, or keeping my home tidy, or keeping my home orderly, or keeping my kids orderly, or keeping my family clean and “appropriate.”  Or whatever oppressive ideal I inflict on myself.  Or the enemy tricks me with.

My call as keeper of our home is about being a watcher.  A guard.  A defender of these people of this household.  A defender of the entryway to our family.  A shield.  A wise overseer.  For all of these things I would be utterly dependent on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  I would have to empty myself and be full of His Truth.  Sacrifice my fears and weaknesses and self-sufficiency. And throw myself on Him for direction, strength, and wisdom.

Regardless of a mother of small children’s unique circumstances, God has invited her to be the spiritual, emotional, and relational Keeper of the home.  This role isn’t affected by her passions or abilities for housework.  Or her occupation.  Or culinary skills.  Or time for Pinterest.  This role isn’t defined by culture, or generation, or clever marketing.  This role is given to us from Yahweh.  It’s an invitation from Him to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  To become more like Him, our King and Guard.

Keeper of the home is an invitation to rise above the concerns of our days and to step into a role that transcends all the culturally defined gender-roles of a woman.  Getting to be a Keeper of the home is a position of high honor and deep service.  It’s a place of prayer, of wisdom, of life with Him.

How could we ever have made it about clean carpets, meal planning, and having our households in order?  Oh God.  What a ditch we have fallen in.  Restore to me Your beautiful design for womanhood.  Lift my eyes up from the temporal and keep me fixed on the eternal.

Today I am a Keeper of the home for my man and our two small children.  But I am sensing a much wider concept that stretches into my lifelong womanhood.  The word Oikos also means the family of God, the Christian Church.  I feel the Holy Spirit rekindling my heart for my role as a woman in His Kingdom: a Keeper of His household.  A watcher, a guard, a shield, a defender, a minister to, a servant of His household: the Church.  For His family: the Body of Christ.  To stand for her.  To cover her.  To shield her.

As a mother of young children, I’ve been struggling to find my place to serve and invest in our church.  I’ve felt frustrated about my lack of time, and lack of energy.  I’ve felt torn between my passions for ministry and my passions for my family.  Today I feel like my heart has been stitched back together.  Of course I have some more praying and meditating on the Word to do, but I can see a beautiful hope growing in my heart.  Just as a mother’s role as Keeper is unaltered by her unique circumstances, a woman’s role as Keeper in God’s family is unaltered by her unique circumstances… like time and energy constraints when you’re a mother of small children. ;-)

Keeper of the home is a role that happens amidst life.  It’s a role that unfolds in each moment of life.  It is like the others in that list in Titus 2.  A quest of ministry and heart.”

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Sweet 16

Today our youngest daughter turns sixteen … wow!

She was a child we never thought we would have, having suffered four miscarriages after her sister. When I was pregnant with her, we understood what it is to pray without ceasing, praying that God would allow us to hold her, to wonder at her form.

And He did.

When she was born with a blue lifeless body, we both thought we had a new road of grief to walk.

What we did not know was how very independent this child was, or would be. When she finally took her first breath, she cried, and didn’t stop for two years! I remember thinking, in those really stressful, late night sessions of crying, “God I love her, but could you please give me a chance to like her.”

And He did.

When most children become more of a challenge as the terrible 2’s roll around, our fiery redhead became a joy. Just in time too, as we were surprised to be expecting again (be careful what you pray for)!

Although that independent streak is still very, very present, she has become a young lady who I truly do like.

Each of our children are unique, and with each I have a unique relationship.

Cris at Nokomis

With Cris, the relationship is all about laughing and giggling. We share a love of silly sitcoms, McDonalds fries (you have to know that started in utero), walking and beauty in nature. We also share a struggle to keep focused, a desire for order, and the phrase, “I changed my mind.”

Cris adds humor unwittingly to most dinner conversations, and we wonder if perhaps redheads are the true blonds. Although that is changing, and wit is becoming a strength for her.

She spent our recent Spring Break whipping our butts each night over Dutch Blitz … something her brother may never get over.

She and her sister share ‘snugs-n-nugs’…  giving the two of them something to share in together.

She is the child who seems to me to have the most equal amount of characteristics of both her dad, and myself. It is always a scary thing to look at the beautiful child who you created, and see the same weaknesses staring back at you. Of course she also possess strengths too … often they are within those same weaknesses. I am thankful that she got so many strengths from your dad!

Cris, I still hope you dance.

I hope your carefree spirit will never die, or worse, that it will be smothered out by reason and maturity.

I hope that you always see good within people who are suffering from their own poor choices, those people need someone like you in their lives to show that the mercy and grace of God.

I hope that you always show interest in people much older than you … I know that you love to love them, that you love to learn from them, that you ache for the loneliness that can be part of their days … they need you to be the warm smile, the genuine hug of affection for the God who wants to bring them comfort.

I hope that you continue to have many friends, of different genders, ages, cultures and faiths … continue to love the daughters of Eve and the sons of Adam …

 

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31525266111735619_mN9c2Kr4_bI have been pondering the question, “who am I?”

As I have been pondering and researching that question I have kept returning to the same response …

Before I get to that response, let me expose myself to you first (my kids would now place their hands over their eyes and say “TMI Mom” (too much information).

As I see myself, I see one word …

f   a   i   l   u   r   e

As a wife, I am a failure.
I love my husband, but truly I do not always like him. I do not put his needs first (unless he has done something to meet my own before that). I do not love him unconditionally. I do not save my best for him. He usually gets all the frustrations of my day dumped onto his shoulders (and the residual anger and frustration).

As the wife of my husband who is a pastor, I am a failure.
I do not even try to ‘work along side of him in his role. I do not sit with him in church. I do not spend my every spare minute leading Bible studies, teaching Sunday School or visiting the sick. I do not initiate connecting with people from church on a weekly, or even regular basis. I do not even play the piano!

As a mom, I am a failure.
When our three kids were born, I had such grand intentions. I whispered promises that I have broken over and over again. I have not stepped in when they have needed me to. I have ‘wigged out’ at and on them, like a wild woman. I have not tucked them in, with stories and prayers every night of their existence. I have not helped them with homework on a daily basis (in this I am a really big failure, because that is what I get paid to do at school!). Heck, there is a science fair coming up, and I have not done much other than edit my son’s paper. I have even told them, “no, I do not want to hug you right now.”

In my job, I am a failure.
I do not use my time well. I do not show up to classes prepared. I stand in the hallways and chat, when my students are in class. I do not always follow directions from my supervisors. I have even been known to leave early. I do not always like my students, my co-workers, my supervisors, my school.

As a friend, I am a failure.
I do not always make time for my friends. I do not always return their calls, emails, texts, messages quickly. I do not always remember their birthdays. I do not always listen actively to them.

As a child of God, I am a failure.
He, who I say is the most important part of my life, does not always get my attention … at all.

But …

Because I am a child of God, who I am is a reflection, not of what I see in a mirror, but who I am when His light is reflected through me.

Like the image at the top of the page, I am like that elderly woman. I am weighted down by the reality of living in this sin-filled body, in this sin-filled world. My body, my mind, my heart are aging towards their natural end … death. But, like that lady in that image, who I am is being reflected, not as I think I am, but as the beloved of the King.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Who do you think you are? In the light of your heavenly Father, you are

B   E   L   O   V   E   D

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So, I went to church on Sunday (that is pretty normal), and I got heck from someone!

Let me set the scene. This particular Sunday, those involved in the various areas of Christian education (kids club teachers, small group leaders, etc) were being prayed for. Those people were asked to stand, to show the congregation who was being prayed for. Then, the leader asked anyone who is a teacher in a school to stand, as well. After that, more people stood, and then they prayed.

It was then that I got a bruising elbow to my ribcage. My daughter, sitting beside me, then whispers, “you are a teacher, why didn’t you stand up?” To which I answered, “honey, I am not a teacher, and you need to consider a future in football!” “Mom, you teach people every day, you are a teacher, and you should be standing.”

What is a teacher? Dictionaries will tell you a teacher is someone who teaches, or a person who educates students. I guess, by those definitions I am a teacher, but that is not my ‘title’, officially, or in my heart.

My title is Educational Assistant, and it is a role I love. But, I have to be honest, what I am paid to do is not as important as what I feel called to do. For me, whether teaching my daughter to paint furniture, or teaching “Lifeskills” to a student at school, I am called to do it with the heart of a mother. It is from that calling that I do pretty much everything else.

Years ago, when I was pregnant with our eldest daughter, I was also working in a home for disabled adults. There were up to five living in this home, and as an employee I was responsible for everything from personal care, to making meals, to housecleaning, to planning and taking them to social events. My title was Residential Care Aide. I loved my job, and the people I cared for.

Then I had my baby girl.

When I returned to work, six months later, everything was different. All of a sudden, those five residents had become the sons and daughter of someone. It felt as though my eyes were opened to seeing them in a new way, as new creations. Even though most of them had no contact with their families, even though most had given their children over to the care of the province, they were the adult children of someone.

I would go to work after having had a snuggle with my daughter, breathing in her baby scent, and see a man in his fifties, not as the stinky, non verbal, man that I had known before my giving birth, but a man who one day was snuggled by his mother, who too had enjoyed his baby scent.

Or, I would leave home after having cleaned up the over-turned plant that my daughter pushed over from the curiosity of toddler-hood, and see the young woman, not with just mischief in her eyes, but wonder for how things work.

The people who I assisted with life did not change one bit, in the six months I was gone from work, but I had. I had become a mother. I had truly labored her into the world, and as she was being born into this world, I was being born as a new creation, a mother.

Ever since that day, I have been changed. I cannot turn off my title as mother. I cannot take a vacation or decide to quit. I cannot trade it in for a new title. And every other title I might have (Educational Assistant or Teacher) pales in comparison. But, in being a mother, my ability to fulfill those other roles is enlightened, improved and fulfilled with more purpose than I ever could have imagined.

I might never stand when teachers are asked to stand, but ask for mothers to get to their feet, and I’m the first one up!

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There is a verse from 1 Corinthians 13 that has been (partially) marinating in my brain cells this week, and it has nothing, and everything, to do with love (as 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “Love Chapter” of the Bible).

The verse that I have been pondering (and taking out of context) is verse 12; “now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete.”

I found myself thinking of my mom, back when I was a single adult (barely an adult, since hubby stole me away so young 😉 ), and she was … about the age that I am now. I found myself trying to remember what I was like as a young adult, and what she was like as a VERY YOUNG woman (remember, I was remembering her when she was the age that I am now).

Then out of the blue the verse above came to mind, and I thought of our relationship back then.

My mom and I had a great relationship when I was a child, and even when I tortured her through my teen years. Many times when my friends came over, they were as eager to sit and chat with her, as with me. My mom had a fantastic gift for listening, and what more could a teenage girl want than to have an adult actually listen to them when they speak?!

I also remember the post high school years, and how there was more distance between us. I remember that I started to notice flaws in mom. I started to watch her more, and I started to see that she did not do things as I might have thought the ‘right way’ to do them. It was in this stage that I no longer agreed with all that she said.

This was the stage of me growing away from my mom. It is normal, it is predictable and it is good. It is a stage where a young adult begins to become more independent of their parents, in actions and in thoughts.

I also now know that it must have been hellish for her. To go from such closeness to growing distance must have eaten at her mother heart.

“Now we see (like) a blurred image in a mirror …”

I remember that stage of life. I remember the independence that I was feeling. I remember how very eager I was to grow away from my parents. I remember feeling wise and worldly.

What I know now, that I did not know then was that I was seeing the life before me as a blurred image in a mirror. As clear as life and the future seemed to me then, now I know, looking back, that what I saw was often not reality. I saw things as I wanted to see them.

I was living in the idealism of youth. Now idealism is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, I wish that I could get some of that idealism of youth back in my mind and heart, but idealism is often not seeing things as they are, but as we wish to see them … it is blurred reality.

I judged my mom, based on my blurred vision. I guess it is a common happening in most young adults lives, with their parents, but now I “see very clearly” how blurred that vision was, way back then. I can not say that “my knowledge is incomplete” quite yet, but I am now at the stage of life of seeing my mom as a whole, not just the parts that I thought I understood as a young adult.

I now understand that some of my mother’s actions and inaction, things she said, and refrained from saying, were responses to the decisions she had been making since she was a young adult herself. I now see that she did the best with what life had thrown at her, and with the consequences (good and bad) of her young adult decisions, when her vision was still blurred.

I do look forward to the day when “my knowledge is incomplete.”

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Today our ‘kids,’ who are not, will go home to their parents, who are, for the summer.

It has been just over ten months since the brother and sister pair moved into our home, our family, our hearts. Even after all that time, I struggle to ‘name’ our relationship.

Hubby and I house them, feed them, drive them here and there. We assist them with homework, with filling out forms, and with understanding life. We sign permission forms and make appointments. We assign chores to them, and speak to them in our firm parent voices. We applaud their successes, we hug them and hear their tales of woe. We attend their school events and sports games. We host their friends, and take them shopping.

But, we are not their parents.

We are a homestay family.

I really struggle to know what our relationship should be called. I really struggle to know how to be a parenting, non-parent.

As a woman who is a mom, I believe they need a daily mom to care for them. I do not just mean to care for their basic physical needs, like food, and shelter. I mean to care for their hearts, their souls and their minds. I believe they need a middle aged woman to say good morning to them, to drive them to school, to scold them when they take too long to get ready in the morning, to ask how their English test was, to watch them play basketball, and drive them to the mall (and shake in my boots as they enter the mall without an adult with them). I believe they need someone to sit on the sofa and watch a movie with, and one to applaud their piano playing, and their math award, and their homemade sushi, and someone to tell them to clean their room. I believe they need a pat on the back, that unimpressed mother ‘look’, and someone to pray with when life just sucks.

Today, as my two children, who are not, head across the world to their mother, who is, I will bid them adieu. In french, a dieu, meaning ‘to God’, commonly translated, I command you to God.

It is in that word, adieu, that I get an understanding of parenting that goes far beyond just my role as a homestay mom. In that one word, I am reminded that whoever God places in our care, whether they be our biological, adopted or ‘borrowed’ children, we are required, and our children benefit most from our giving them back to God.

And, whatever I am to them, and they to me, today my mother heart will bid them a dieu.

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