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Posts Tagged ‘Purpose’

Purpose


With our youngest graduating from high school in five months, I have been perseverating about my own purpose or calling.

I remember well, as a teenager, being asked what I wanted to do when I graduated. I also remember my immediate thoughts to be of being a wife and mom, followed by lying and giving more ‘driven’ responses of professional goals.

Years later I discovered that I was pregnant … my life’s dreams were coming true … until, at about seventeen weeks, it’s heart stopped beating.

Twenty-one months later our ten and a half pound daughter was born. I was happy and challenged more than I ever imagined mothering to be.

The next seven years were filled with four more pregnancy losses, the birth of a daughter (who cried for two years) and the birth of our son.

My pursuit to hold the professional title of mom, was earned through PhD-like blood, sweat and tears. I awoke each day ready to go to work at my practise of mothering and homemaking.

As they headed off to school in succession, I realized it was time for a new, or more specifically, another vocation. What to do, when one grows up? became a regular question for me to ask. 

So, I went back to school … to work as an Educational Assistant. I have had the privilege of going to work, with a contented heart, for almost fourteen years, learning daily from the students I have the honour of working with.

Now … now, as my favourite three are moving into their adult lives, I see an opportunity for me to, once again, ask “what will I do when I grow up?

So I have looked at different jobs, courses and schools. I am still looking.

To this point, the only thing that keeps resurfacing, the only message I keep encountering that resonates with me is that relationships matter.

I am not sure that this message is for me, in terms of my vocational pursuits in the years to come, or in terms of me as an individual, in my life.

When I came across the words of Mother Teresa,

“we have been created in order
to love and to be loved”

I realized that, in considering what I want to do, I must first start with who I am.

Still no answers, yet all the answers are wrapped up in that core awareness that we are to love and to be loved. From that statement a stewardship of and to humanity is known.

 

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I just realized that I had not written a post for today, so today’s post is a repost from 2012. As I re-read this one, I agree with ii’s words still …

Last weekend someone asked me “why do you blog?” It was such an easy question to answer, because the one reason I blog is complete and utter selfishness, I blog for me.

After about ten months of writing everything from the insane to the serious, averaging about five posts a week, writing has become something that I rely on, that I need to do, that helps me to keep in balance.

Although there is great jesting in my house about my desire for Oprah to discover me, really, I write for me. This little corner of the cyber world is where I connect with God, where I process my hurts, where I share my celebrations, and where I just get it all out. For me, itsawonderfilledlife is my hairdresser, my bartender, my shrink. And, you who read are the flies on the wall.

Writing has allowed me to have a voice, my voice. In this venue I am still daughter, and mother, and wife, and friend, and pastor’s wife and special ed. assistant, but I am mostly just me. I am just a woman, speeding down the superhighway of aging, who loves her God, her kids and her hubby, trying to make ends meet, experiencing great successes, and dark failures. And this is the forum that I have used to help myself find reason for it all.

When I chose itsawonderfilledlife as my blog title, I did so with pshychology in my mind. I am one who looks for a reason for every event that occurs. I look for wonder, like others might look for chocolate (okay, I look for that on a daily basis too), or luck, or a break. For me, when I can see wonder in my day, I can see purpose for living. For me, a little bit of wonder can make my experiences of living purpose-filled, and in focusing on wonder, I do not spiral down into the dank world of negative thinking.

Recently I was feeling a bit bummed that my stats were lower for a particular week. I pondered different ways that I could bolster them, but that takes time. Then I re-read a couple from that week, and felt good with what I had written, and felt good as I remembered the pleasure that writing them provided. It was then that I remembered, I am doing this for me. So, I forgot about feeling bummed, and felt the pleasure of communing with my God, my thoughts and the computer keyboard. That is why I write this blog, and it’s good enough reason for me 😉 .

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There is nothing like summer break for actually enjoying, revelling in the mundane things of life.

I enjoy doing laundry, even returning to my childhood, hanging my clothes out on a line to air dry. Dusting is an art form. Cleaning toilets becomes a humble expression of love. Clearing unneeded items from closets a cleansing. Getting groceries an expression of love and care for my family.

Maybe it is because there are less demands, there is less to do, little of the “big things” in the back of our minds.

Joan Chittister said:

“The ‘mundane’ is certainly dull, I agree, and may even limit us — not only our perceptions but even the breadth of our questions. At the same time, there is something very freeing, very humanizing about the mundane. Doing dishes and buying vegetables get us back in touch with ourselves, give us time to smell the earth of our lives, give us time just to be. We will go on long after the big ideas fade and the profession ends. The question is, Will there be anything in me then? Will there be a me in me? It all depends on how I deal with the mundane.”

I believe that the greatest adventures in our lives are not found in our jobs, our education, our accomplishments. Our greatest adventures are found in opening our eyes each morning, ready to live fully, whatever may come.

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In the Waiting

I am not a good waiter,

and by waiter, I mean someone who (has to) wait.

I think that many people are not good waiters. I especially think that today, Black Friday.

Black Friday, the day that follows American Thanksgiving, is a day of reckless shopping, spending and individualism. It is the human behavioral evidence that we do not see benefit from waiting. Ironically, Black Friday falls just two days before the next holy season, on the church calendar, that of Advent.

Advent means coming, and when something is coming, someone is waiting.

Advent is about remembering the waiting for the arrival of the Messiah (as a babe) and the waiting we do now for his second arrival. He is coming again and that coming is Advent.

To know someone or something is coming is a far more exciting waiting than any other. For in this waiting is the promise that our waiting is not in vain. What we must always remember is that there is purpose, there is the attainment of skills and strength, and humility that will make us ready for the day that the promise is fulfilled.

As we walk through this Advent season, let’s try to prepare for the promise of Christ, just as we do in the gifts and food and parties of the other side of this holiday.

When we are in the waiting, ask the question,

What will you teach me through this, God?

The Bible is full of waiting for something to come. It is also full of promises that the waiting would not be in vain.

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Recently, as hubby was cleaning up after dinner, I was griping to him about a frustration or two in my day. I think I may have done this too much lately.

He then said, “don’t take this personally (ya right … saying that only encourages me to take it personally), but I think we are both in a state of discontent right now. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might be good to look for the reason for our discontent.” For whatever reason, I did not reply, I only pondered his words. And then pondered them some more.

As much as I pondered, and as much as I tried to look at the reasons for discontent in our life (lives), there was only one consistent line of thinking that came to mind, “who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

The quote comes out of the story of Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman, chosen by the king of Persia to be his queen. It was through this position that she was able to secure the safety of the Jews throughout this Persian kingdom. It was through her understanding, that perhaps God had placed her in the position she was in for this very purpose, that encouraged her to do what was right.

But, why the discontent? Why did that verse keep recycling through my thoughts, for hours after? It is not as though, like Esther, our decisions could affect the physical lives of ourselves and those around us. It is not as though our decisions affect anyone, right?

Wrong!

That verse that has been recycling through my thoughts has reminded me of a very important reality … we do not live independently, but in community with others. We may like to think (perhaps out of a false sense of humility, or a very real sense of arrogance) that others lives are not affected by our choices, but we are not islands. We live in community, we live with others, we depend on others. In turn, others depend on us.

Maybe that is what Esther heard and understood, as her uncle Mordechai reminded her of her current circumstances (not ones she had sought or chose). He also reminded her that there was perhaps a purpose in her position, and therefore, a purpose-giver (without directly saying so).

That giver of purpose is the the Creator of our souls (our very beings), the Creator of all that is around us, the same God of Esther.

It is He who directs our paths, and it is He who creates us with and for purpose. Even our discontent is not without purpose (maybe even our griping). But, we must not sit in our discontent, we must seek it’s purpose, it’s role in the circumstances we are currently living.

Maybe hubby was right (oh boy … I can hear him snickering as he is printing and framing those words … I will never be able to live with him now), maybe we need to look for the reason or purpose for our discontent.

Maybe, we (each of us) have come to this position, this place, for such a time as this.

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I sat there looking at the four types/styles of leaders on the paper, and wondered which I might be, but with each passing moment I was more and more confused. It seemed to me that I was about half of one, and half another.

For whatever reason, it really irritated me that I could not definitively figure out which type or style I was. I was looking for black and white within a mind consumed with grey.

Finally it came to me, the following day, while I was still obsessing about my split personality. My split personality is due to being a people pleaser.

As anyone else who shares this innate need to please other people can attest to, we do all that we can to make other people notice and be happy with us and our efforts. We will even do and be who we are not, in order to attain the affirmation and positive attention of others. After years of ‘becoming’ what and who we may not be, we can end up struggling to see who we really are … who God created us to be.

Now don’t go thinking I am depicting myself (or other people pleasers) as martyrs or victims of the expectations of others. For most who seek to please others, they do it because that is what they have been taught, or it is something that feeds them. For some it is even a means of control and power, providing opportunity to manipulate or create a positive image of themselves.

Whatever the case, our gifts and our abilities can be modified by the behavior of becoming something … someone else.

This is seen so often in volunteer organizations. A need is expressed, and someone jumps to meet the need, not because it is within their unique talents (or even interest) but because they do not wish to disappoint or see the need unmet. Often this results in not having the best person doing the job. It can also result in the one doing the job being too busy to fulfill a task that they are best suited for, because they (we) are too busy filling positions to make others happy.

As I looked at the leadership qualities for each of types of leader I read, “good with paperwork” on one and “not good with paperwork” on another.
Would I choose to do paperwork?
NO.
Could I do paperwork?
Yes.
Would I choose to do paperwork if it pleased someone?
Yes.
Should I choose to do paperwork BECAUSE it pleases someone?
NO!

This could put us on a mission, to find out who we really are, not for the sake of pleasing others, but for the sake of pleasing the God who has given us a purpose and a future.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily,
as for the Lord
rather than men.”
Colossians 3:23

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord.
“plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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The words of the title of this entry bring anyone, old like me, back to 1984.

Start watching at about 0:54 …

Oh, Mr. Miyagi, the great martial arts teacher, and Daniel, the bullied young teen boy. When Daniel gets royally beaten up, and he is fading into ‘La La Land’, he sees Mr.Miyagi take on the whole gang of guys who beat the stuffing out of him, and win! Now, Mr. Miyagi is a pretty inconspicuous karate master, as his day job is that of a humble maintenance man / gardener. And, he’s old! We’re talking gray hair (well, what hair he has left is gray), and he’s short (but there is not a bit of a Napoleon complex here).

I think that Mr. Miyagi is one of my first role models in working with students who struggle in school. The lesson I learned from him is that learning does not have to be direct. For him (and yes, I do realize ‘it was just a movie’, but I like to gleen whatever good I can from as many sources as I can find in life) teaching karate did not necessarily mean teaching karate through ‘doing’ karate, but through life’s day to day ‘stuff’ (lets face it though, he did get his cars waxed, fence painted, etc.).

For me, to teach a lesson to the students I work with, does not necessarily mean sitting a student at a desk with paper and pencil. As a matter of fact, that would probably be the least successful way to teach them. The (high school) students I get to hang with know they are not going to be a Math or English whiz. But, frequently, what they do believe is that they are dumb, stupid, and sometimes even useless.

It is, I believe, my job to convince them that school is something ‘ya just gotta get through, so lets get it done, and move on’ (they hear that one almost daily from me), and that their failures in school classrooms DO NOT indicate what their future will be. Each of the students I get to work with have a gift, and we need to search until we find it, and figure out how to use it, when they get out of this small microcosm of life, called school.

So, I get to take my students out of school (I swear they hear the Hallelujah chorus in their heads as we are driving away), and place them in work experience jobs. They have worked in grocery stores, warehouses, plant nurseries and stores. Presently we are taking on, not jobs but service projects. And, in the coming weeks they will go to the home of an elderly lady to wash windows, mow lawns, and anything else that could make her life easier. And, at the same time, they will be doing work that has meaning, has real benefit … gives them purpose!

Along with training, and exposure to different fields of work, it is the sense of purpose, the sense of place in this world that I most strive for, for them.

Sometimes what is student learns is far more than what the teacher teaches … and, sometimes that was the hope of the teacher in the first place.

So, back to work guys … “look eye, always look eye … come back tomorrow!”

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I have something to admit …

please don’t read this wrong,

please don’t read into this,

just be patient,

and I’ll explain it fully …

So, here is my admission …

I do not wish for my kids to get married.

(did I just hear music from the movie Psycho?)

Now, here is the explanation …

I am happily married,

I am glad that I married,

I am committed to my marriage,

but I do not believe that one has to be married to be

happy,

joyful,

fulfilled,

or live a life with purpose.

Purpose comes from the one who gave us breath,

gave us life.

And anything that comes after Him

is simply EXTRA icing on the cake of life.

I hope for the ‘princesses’ (and prince) in our home to hold on to the encouragement of the letter below :

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Now, all that said, I do dream that if they marry, one day, it might be to someone who is already dreaming of them.

(music from Psycho yet again)

This guest post is a video (below), and it is directed towards females, though, I hope the same of my son, and for my son. I hope that if my three marry, they would marry someone who has been loving them, anticipating their entry into his or her life from before they met. To love from the position of knowing that God is the Lord of perfect timings, and IF marriage is something in their future lives, that the primary qualifier is a mutual trust in God.

And, if marriage is not in their future, that their future can still be perfect, because every moment, of every day, is still in the hands of God.

 

 

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Why-We-Do-What-We-Do

Why do we do what we do?

for others to notice?

for God to be glorified?

for our own self interests?

When Jesus came, and walked on this rotating globe, he came with a purpose”

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

The Law … you know the Torah, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). This Law, containing 613 commandments, was the Israelite’s guide for how to live and remain in favor with God. And The Prophets … so many of them in the Old Testament. “The English word prophet comes from a Greek word meaning advocate” (Wikipedia). These Biblical prophets were given messages to share, and tasks to do, on behalf of (advocating for) the One true God.

His purpose was to not simply obey the Law, but to be our living example of the perfection that obeying the Law was aimed at working towards (an impossible task for we mere mortals).

So, according to Jesus, what is our purpose?

Just before He states His purpose, He declares of his disciples (of whom we who follow Christ are):

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

We are to be a light on a hill …

so our purpose is to …

reflect?

And what are we reflecting?

Our Father in heaven.

Really, those verses in Matthew can be summed up later in Matthew (7:12):

“so in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Ah, the Golden Rule … those are words to live by.

Why do we do what we do?

To reflect …

our Father in heaven,

and in doing so we live out the Law, the Prophets, and the love of Jesus Christ.

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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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