Friday, September 24, 2010

A tough day

Today started out sadly.  A good friend knocked on my door to say goodbye.  We sat in the living room while she nursed her sweet little guy, the children wowed her with their little nothings, we found a moment to reflect.  And I blessed her, and I cried, and then she was gone.

They are off to an easier place to live, with more land, lower housing prices, and greater opportunities for work; a place where family is just a few blocks away and having a mother stay home with her children is not a financial sacrifice.

This evening finished off with a bon voyage party for another good friend.  We played in the park, ate delicious food brought from various homes, talked about the weather, listened to the children laugh, and then we hugged goodbye.  And then they will be gone.

Again, they go to a place where jobs are plentiful, housing is cheaper, and family is close.  Where friends stay home in mass, and so see each other often, and children can be given space to grow.  I blessed her, and disheartened, walked away.

In between, I brought my sweet little dog with us to run errands so she wouldn't be home without us, and someone yelled at me for leaving her in the car for a moment.  They called the police, they called security, they called the SPCA.  No one came to honor their requests, but they were angry, and they felt I need to know their anger. It was a neighborhood known to be unfriendly, and it is the neighborhood I must often shop in, as it is so close.

The tough little boys who make up our soccer league mocked my son because his ball was purple, and he said it hurt his feelings to hear this greivance.  And I felt greived.

The city was a hostile place for me today.  And I wondered why we chose to live in it.

Some days, it is hard to live in the city.  Today was particularly so.

Why do we?  Why are our children raised in an urban hub, with constant noise of traffic, with throngs of people occupying every space?  Why do we live in a place that often sees friends move on to quieter lands with better economies?  It can be so very lonely, and so very pressed with people.

"The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force." -Matthew 11:12

My husband and I don't live here by accident.

We live here on purpose.

There is a desire in our hearts to see Jesus known in this city, for people here to be ushered into his lifegiving presence, to have meaning restored to their lives, to let them walk away from rebellion and submit to the greatest King, our Lord. We have felt this call on our lives, and we have tried to live faithfully to it.

The devil seeks to destroy life, and he particularly rankles at those who are life givers.  My family, my heart, my vision for why we are here, are prime targets for his deadly arrows.

So when sad days come, when the temptation is to join the great exodus, when the hostility of the city is pressing in on me, I must redouble my commitment.  Christ's heart for those in the city must become my mantle piece.  The fervor and zeal that brought me here in the first place, must be front and center in my heart.  And from there I can resist the arrows of the enemy.

From there I can rejoice that my children are seeing parents who have a deep sense of mission and purpose to their lives.  They can see how struggles do not define us, but refine us.  And in the future, they can choose to do the same.

May the days that are hard, that are sad times, that include the difficulty of existing in this yet redeemed world be yours to grab a hold of the kingdom of God ever tighter, with all of your volition charged for the task.  And may your children be inspired by the faith they find in their home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


"While reading Louisa May Alcott's book Little Men to the children during lunch, my daughter insightfully comments on the character Daisy.

"Mom"she says "this must have been at the time when children were allowed to be young."

"Tell me more about that sweetheart."

"Well, Daisy is 12 and she can still play with dolls and her Aunt likes to read her stories.  It is not like today, where every one is in such a hurry to grow the children up, and want them to talk about the news and worry about adult things." she quips.

My heart broke listening to her insight that the window is so short for childhood.

And it is getting shorter.

Have you noticed the pressure placed on our children in today's fast paced society?

Children are expected at a very young age to understand complex adult situations, politics, world concerns, and national crises.  They are entertained with media of disturbing images, coquettish relational dynamics, and child characters burdened by the world on their shoulders.  Children are dressed as little adults, and not exactly modestly clad. They are abandoned to peer groups while expected to negotiate those relations bereft of adult guidance and direction.

Free play is often removed because of the anxiety for children to excel at younger and younger ages.  The average 3-6 year old has scant few hours in the day to dig a hole, climb a tree, sit in a swing, sing, dance in circles, build with blocks, day dream on a couch, dress up as their favorite book character, or roll around in the grass.

The average 7-12 year old has no time for such childish pursuits.

What is the solution?  What can we do about this?  How can we reverse these trends in our own families?

It is very complicated.  And yet, we can start with something simple.  A dose of patience.

Seems simple, but as I try it myself, I find it very challenging.

If we could meditate on the fact that our children very soon will be older.  If we can just believe that there will come the day for that life stage.  Then, we can rest in that knowledge.

If we can realize, they will never again be children, that the innocence of their age will quickly pass, we will become advocates of an unhurried childhood.  We can engage this life stage with a focus vigilance against anything that would seek to destroy it.

We can slow down, and let them be children.

Then, when they are older, when they are ready, they can jump into the adult stage with joy.  Having fully realized their childhood, they can become adults unimpeded and with gusto. Having waited for the season of friendships, world pursuits and adult problems, they will find themselves anxious to get started on their maturing.

Can you try with  me to slow down and give your children the childhood they so long for?  Can we, together, find patience and trust in God's timing to guide your way?

May we all be able to see, when we look back on our children's first years, a childhood.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When became a man, I put childish ways behind me" -1 Corinthians 13:11

Monday, September 20, 2010

Little Moments

There are great moments in our lives.  The moment we begin to realize we are independent from others, free to make our own choices.  The moment we experience what desperate sinners we are, and in that same glance, how overpoweringly Jesus' gift to us is with his unconditional love.  The moment we hold our lovers' hand, walking down the aisle, into a future of companionship and mission. The moment we first hold our precious child in our arms, still warm from the womb, and cradle them near our breasts, and just cry and cry with gratitude that God would deem us worthy of raising up a little life.

And then, there is the rest of our lives.

The moments we don't count, or court, or notice are the ones that really make up our days.  They are the ones, that in the end, really matter.

And I find, it is in the later not the former, that I must live out my spiritual development.

Can I submit to God when he asks me to put down my book and watch my son build his newest block creation?  Can I sacrifice time of talking with a friend to listen to my daughter's thoughts on why her dolls should be arranged in the manner they are?  Can I patiently let the children help me stir the food on the stove, carefully rinse and cut the vegetables, and describe to them the step by step process of what we are making?  Will I spend my afternoon reading aloud or micro-cleaning the floors?  Can I find the courage to face the hard work of walking the children through yet another sibling squabble?

The submission, the patience, the courage, the diligence, the listening, are all part of the call of being a mother.  Yet, each time these moments arrive, there is a small choice.  Should I rush ahead with my busy schedule or slow down and be the mother in each of those little moments.

It matters.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit.  There is such a dependency on Him as a counselor, guide, and encourager in those moments for me.  Often my prayer is, "Sharpen my character here, Lord.  Guide me to thy way everlasting and not my way - ever exasperating.  Help me to see You in this moment.  Give me grace to let my four year old measure the 1/4 teaspoon of salt with out growing peevish about how much winds up on the floor."

When I do remember to pray, and when I do listen to His guidance and not my own, I often find those moments become easier, and well, down right fun!  I can feel my shoulders relaxing, can hear myself laughing, and the sight of my four children noticing the change is - priceless.

So, here is to more moments of spiritual depth.  And as the great moments come in life, my character with its spiritual depth intact, will be so much more able to enjoy them.

And I encourage you as well, fellow travels on the road of life.  Take the moments, the little insignificant ones.  Allow God to shape you into his form in those times, and you will add up, to someone great!

And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Romans 5:4

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Today is my weekly count my blessing day.  Here are some things that make me extremely thankful.

I am thankful for my washer, dryer, and press iron.

    Where would I be without the ability to wash, dry, and press so simply?  Just imagine boiling the water, scrubbing on the board, and hanging out to dry all of our shirts, pants, skirts, napkins, tablecloths, towels, sheets, and assundries.  Starting the fire up, warming the iron, and starching out the clothes.  All, with children underfoot.  What amazing additions to life are my automated cleaning tools!

I am thankful for my husband.

     Husbands are such a precious gift. Once you have one, there are so many little conversations daily, so many tiny ways of serving and building up needed to maintain said husband.  There are times I have to look above the moment and remember all of my own flaws in order to redirect my perspective toward him.

     When I stop to consider this amazing love of a man, my husband, this sweet gift of a man, who loves me, who listens to me,  who comes home to me, who picks up our children and wrestles them, plays with them, teaches them to use power tools.  I am so very very thankful for him.

     Poor hubbie, he might have gotten my first fruits of thanks.  Somehow, his delicious presence in our home is one I often must stop and be thankful for, how can such beautiful people be overlooked so easily?

Thanks be to God he is my dear one.  He is here, despite all the ways I often don't add up a wife worthy of praise.  I am so very grateful for him!

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. - 1 Chronicles 29:13