Thursday, September 30, 2010


Sometimes it is depressing, how poor of a cook I am.  I will plan a meal, and not get the right groceries, buy the groceries and let them go bad in the fridge, cut the veggies and then burn them, put the meat to the pan only to have it come out under cooked.  It is embarrassing, and true.  My dear family can recount  the meals through which they have suffered.

For starters, as I child, I was not given the opportunity to help prepare every dinner or shown how a meal magically makes it to the table (home or restaurant or take out).

A tragedy really, as people do need to eat: 3 times a day.  And I have lots of little people in my house who are counting on me to make that happen.

Another area where I really lacked skills, was in child rearing. I was in love with my little ones the moment they were handed to me, especially if you define love as protective; these babies were not going to get hurt or lack under my watch.

But the actual needs of the child were beyond me: the need to be changed when wet, bathed when dirty, teeth brushed twice a day, hair combed into beautiful plaits.  I soon discovered that when babies cry, they needed to be held, comforted, rocked.  As two of my four developed colic, it meant they need to be held constantly, continuously patted, always moved about.

Also imperative was the need to give boundaries. It was imperative for me to to follow up on those boundaries.  I could not let my child cross a boundary with out an immediate consequence.

If they whined, I had to tell them to cheerfully voice their request.  If they asked after being told no, I had to tell them no was not to be questioned.  If they hit, I had to hold the brandishing arm and shush the angry spirit.  If they were headed to the ground to thrash their bodies about in protest, my firm hand had to be there to guide their bodies upward and their faces to mine.  If they took without asking, I had to remind them no deed goes unnoticed.

It was enough to push a patient person to the brink, and I was not a patient person - by any stretch of the imagination.

I think if there had been any way around it, I would have gone there.  But there was no way around it.

We had no family in town to help, no cheerful mentor mom to pop over with guidance, no money to pay a babysitter, no extra income to hire help, and my husband was a full time student and a full time employee.  Yep, I was stuck with the job of feeding and raising the children; it was up to me.

So, like many a good woman of yore, I cried out to God.

"Oh, woe is me, Lord. [interject whiny voice here] I am a stranger in a strange land and these children need a mother but I am sorely poised for the task. [convincing Him this is not possible for me]  Show me the way out of this mess Lord [and here I show him the obvious solution], give me a friend, a mentor mom, or rain down the money so I can hire help.  Just have my husband come home and do it for me,[see, four easy steps] oh Lord, hear me now![notice the helpful biblical tone]"

Needless to say, God's was pretty much mute on the subject.  And it took me a few years to fully understand why.

As it turns out (and you, my dear reader, have already probably noted) I was asking God and man to do my work for me.  And though our Lord is the Lord of the Sabbath, he also made 6 days of work, and saw it as good.

There are different types of work.  I find the most important work is often not attached to a salary.

So, I had to get to work.  I had to get off my pity party to do it; and I had so enjoyed my little pity party.

Here I was, pressed with no choice but to avail.  I had to cook 3 healthy meals a day and these children had to be raised, and raised well.

It was then that God began to show me that every journey begins with a foot step, every plant starts as a seed, and that life could not be rushed into being.

So began my dailies.

I had to daily ask the Lord for help, then daily stand on my own two feet, then daily walk into the bathroom with cheer, while I daily brushed 4 sets of teeth and bathed 4 sets of bodies.  Next, I daily boiled a pot of water, while I daily added whole grain oatmeal, and then daily handed out bowls to be set at the table. I daily watched over behaviors and attitudes, as I daily read the Bible aloud, and daily help the children draw.  I  daily read a quality book aloud, then daily set the children up for puzzle time, while I daily sat and had my quiet time.

Though my rhythm varies during the week, and development changes in the children's capacities calls for adjustments, this has become the way I approach cooking and child rearing.  Surprisingly, it works.

It is a slow, disciplined way to bring about great, exciting results.

My patience has increased as I see life as a set of dailies.  My cooking has improved to the point that 3 out of 4 meals turn out edible!   My children have become quite enjoyable to one another and to me. And, I really like my work.  I wake up with something purposeful to put my hand to, that of improving my life and the lives of husband and children.

It has given me a sense of joy that my pity parties never did.

What are your dailies?  Where can you begin to work today?

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psalms 126:5

Monday, September 27, 2010


Walking on the beach one day, it became apparent that no matter where I went, my daughter did as well.  When I ran toward the waves, giggling with delight, so did she.

When I walked slowly and talked of the beauty before us, she slowed down to experience it with me.  She never ran ahead, only waited to see where I would go, and then she walked confidently after me.

It struck me then, I had a little disciple on my hands, and she was following me without even thinking there might be another way.

It is hard to think ill of ourselves, in the deepest sense.

If you ask us, we might mention feeling too small for a big task or insignificant in the eyes of others or ashamed of our own shortcomings and sin.  But, if you were to catch us on an average day and investigate how we are moving forward, usually we are permissive with ourselves and have excuses for our negative thoughts, emotions, and actions.

God planned it well to give us these little imitators whose daily living tell the real story.

Little ducks, learn to walk, swim, and eat by following their mother everywhere and imitating her ways; so too our children are built to bond with their mother, follow her everywhere, and imitate her ways.  And this is the rub: our ways are not always as exemplary as they could be.

So what is a mother to do? 

We must become worthy of imitation.

We must find God, as Saint Augustine spoke, by seeking him within.

Evaluate values: are we concerned with the things of the soul or with outward signs of importance?  Revisit free time: are we occupying ourselves with things that build up or things that tear down; are we balancing rest and work, over working, or just zoning out through life? Look upon manner: are we gentle and hopeful of speech, or harsh and despairing, are we jovial or cynical, merry or mocking?  Think upon method: are we seeking always to serve or seeking to be served, do we ask ourselves “how can I help” or “who is here to help me”, do we deny ourselves or force our way? Do we live intentionally after God or do we only pretend to be after Him?

The areas of my life that were all about me, or allowable without children, were no longer going to be enough.  I was raising little ones to follow in my footsteps.

It is not enough to say I am sorry for my imperfections, but repentance must be firmly resolved as well.  It is not enough to pray for my sins to be gone, I must be willing to be humbled in my view of myself to truly eradicate them.  It is not enough to note what is wrong; I must be willing to change.

Sometimes I have to ask for for help, go to a trusted counselor, and walk through the problem areas in my life and hear how growth is possible.  Sometimes I have to be really honest with myself, how I am making excuses, thinking thoughts of self-centeredness, allowing emotional indulgences that lead to a sentimental life, or wishing for a life in which I am not willing to do the hard work.  And much of the time, when I have fully dedicated myself to Him, the grace of God fills up the holes without much effort from me.  This always amazes me, and leaves me so thankful for God’s mercy.

In what ways do you need to reevaluate your life?  What parts of yourself are you seeing reflected in your children’s poor attitudes and troubling tendencies?  Where might you need to center yourself on  Jesus ways and be so in your home and to your family? 

Know that there is grace, and even as you bravely confess the truths of your life, God rushes in.  He is a gentle guide toward all things good and right and true; his beauty can be yours also.  Know that as you imitate and walk in his ways, you bless your children with a mom who is worthy of imitation.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” –Ephesians 5:1, 2