Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Defining Me

We often see young girls in their teens and describe them as 'trying to figure out who they are.' They are 'testing the waters' of life and discovering who they are apart from Mom or Dad or peers. This hits a lot of girls in their college years as well. As I was thinking about it the other day, I realized that we as women never truly come to a conclusion. We are always seeking to find who we truly are! As a young woman we are seeking to know what kind of woman we will become in life, in marriage what kind of wife, in motherhood what kind of parent...it continues on our whole lives. Who am I?

The mirror does not define me. You may not look like the air-brushed model on the cover of Vogue. You most likely do not even look like you did ten years ago. You most likely don't weigh what you did ten years ago either! And everyone knows that I have a different hairstyle, and color, to fit the season! I have learned, however, that I haven't changed. The girl in the mirror has, but who I am, truly am, is still the same. I'm me. And I am more than an image.

My home does not define me. Ok, you know it is all the rave to post and pin all your greatest triumphs. We all have a "wall" full of great ideas we will never do. We invision our living rooms in the latest colors with antiqued furniture, fragrant blooming flowering plants, handsewn curtains to compliment, and all our fancy handmade wall hangings. In reality, we have Grandma's hand-me down sofa, paint chipped wall that don't match our furniture, walls plastered with photos of our kids, and toys all over the room. We freak when people come over and we haven't had time to shove stuff in closets and vacuum once over! Why? Another lie. Our homes are meant to be places of refuge and loving memories, not a display of your value as a woman.

My activities do not define me. President of this club or that? Soccer coach? 4-H project leader? It leaves me hopping from one place to another, feeling overwhelmed, drained and not as good as I think it sounds. I want others to see what I do for the community and my family, because that is another way I seek to define me. The truth? Anybody can do it. I am not a list of accomplishments.

My husband does not define me. Ok, now we are getting deep. I learned early on in marriage that husbands often make choices the wives would not make. They say things we would not say and share things we would rather not share. They may have friends with those we don't get along with. And sometimes they fail. Their failure is not our failure. I also found that when he talked about hunting and motors that I listened with love, but not interest. Likewise, as I rattled off about my latest novel or some cultural tidbit I had learned while studying, I could see him fade away. It isn't that we don't love one another. It is that we are created differently, to function differently, and blend together beautifully. I must be my own person, not the person I believe he wants me to be, and then I will find that he loves me just as I am!

My children do not define me. This is probably the hardest one to swallow. You know that I spend 99% of my time on them? 90% of my photos in the album of myself are with them? That is what got me thinking on this whole thing to start with. Who am I when I am done raising them?  I spend so much of my time trying to raise my children in the best way possible. Then that moment strikes - they do something childish! As our kids grow, they begin to make friends on their own. They begin to make their own choices and have their own likes and dislikes. They become their own little person. While I had a hand in it, ultimately they will grow to be who God has designed them to be. All the running around and cleaning and disciplining and laundry and schooling and all the things we do as mothers are out of love for them. And then they will leave. As much as we believe, who we are does not hinge on our children. They are a part of our lives that we cherish and adore and pour ourselves into, but each of us has a unique way of mothering and it should not be judged or compared by any other mother. We are not defined in that way!

So, now that I have stripped away  in essence every part of who I believe that I am, then I am left wondering, how do I define me?

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -- Ephesians 2:10

I am a beautiful masterpiece of God. I have been uniquely made with gifts and talents, passions and preferences, quirks and character. He made me who I am so that I could do all those other things - the good works - which He planned for me to do from the beginning. The type of mother, wife, community leader, home-keeper and person that I am from inside to out is all from the outflow of the woman that God created me to be. In my uniqueness I will not be (and should not try to be!) like any other woman. I am me. I am a masterpiece. My Creator defines me.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

You Are Just Right

I don't know about you, but I constantly battle with feeling not good enough for my family. I want to be more. I want to be better. I want to be that mom that my kids remember from their childhood and smile about. Or want to be like me, to follow my lead.

My mom was not perfect. Not even close. And in many ways she did a much better job than I do. What is ironic is that it isn't those mess-ups or those super-mom accomplishments that I look back on so fondly. I remember mostly her character. I remember never feeling unloved. I remember her giving her all for us all the time. I remember the fun times we shared playing board games, camping, or doing family holiday traditions. I remember when she would make treasure hunts for me while she cleaned the house. I remember her making some of my favorite foods, and her teaching me to make them too. And most of the "bad" things I remember, I recall them being my fault. My mom is my hero. She is my best friends still. She is the type of mom that I strive to be. She was just right for me.

You are just right for your child, for your husband, for your family. I am just right for mine. See, God in his infinite wisdom has molded you and gifted you to be everything that they need! You will mess up. You will succeed. You will have "failure mom" days and you will have "Super-mom" days. But what you do in between and through both of those, the character you display, the love you express, that is what your kids will look back on with a smile; that is who your kids will want to grow up to be like.

Think about what you want them to see, day in and day out, high and low, in a mom...then be that mom. You are just right for the job.

Monday, February 10, 2014

It's All in the Name

        Do you know the meaning of your name?  Mine means “victorious one.”  When my son was born, we chose his middle name, Judah, specifically because it meant, “praise.”  In the Old Testament it was extremely important the meaning of one’s name.  Many places we see God changing the name of an individual to fit who they were to become or what role they were to play in His story. 

            Do you remember Sarah from the Bible, Abraham's wife? Well, Sarah’s name meant Princess.  This is significant because GOD CHOSE this name for her.  Why did he name her Princess?  To let us know that as His daughters, we are Princesses, no matter who we are.  Galatians 4:7 tells us, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir,” and 1 John 3:2 says, “now we are children of God.”  If we are children of God, the King of kings, then we too are royalty!

            In His book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer lays out what Sarah’s life demonstrates, “In this world, royal children have to undergo extra training and discipline which other children escape, in order to fit them for their high destiny.  It is the same with the children of the King of kings…It is no part of justifying faith to lose sight of the fact that God, the King, wants his royal children to live lives worthy of their paternity and position.” (222-223). 

            How often do you feel like your life is full of hardships and trials?  Or just the mundane, day after day routine?  Just remember, you are in training!  God is building in you the character that it takes to be a princess!  You need to see the world around you from God’s eyes.  You need to seize every opportunity given you to grow and learn, and to impact the lives of others.  You need to learn to live up to your “paternity and position.” 

            I love what William Wallace says to the princess in BRAVEHEART, “One day you will be a Queen and you must open your eyes.”  My dearest sister in Christ, one day YOU will be a Queen, the heiress of the kingdom of the King of kings, and YOU MUST OPEN YOUR EYES!  There is a world out there that does not want to see you succeed.  There is an enemy waiting to capture you in his evil schemes.  And there are lost children out there needing the touch of their healing Father that only YOU, His daughter, can bring them.  You MUST be aware of these things.  You are a princess, the daughter of a King, now live like one.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Guilt of a Dreamer

My "dream list" includes spending time on every continent, gliding down the Amazon River to spend days lost in the treacherous jungles, translating the Bible for a people who have never held the Gospel in their hands before, packing up and leaving all of my troubles and struggles behind, growing old with my husband on a beach watching the sunset, and looking like Nicole Kidman when I am her age!

Those are just a few of the things I would love to do with my life. I find, however, that when I begin to dream these, or even less harmful dreams like a romantic get-away, a new outfit, or remodeling my bathroom, I begin to feel guilty.
As moms, I believe we become too accustomed to being the "nobody" of the house. Sure, we all encourage our obsessive behavior by telling each other that our homes cannot function without us...but in the process we lose who we are. It becomes a joke and laughing matter because we are lost as to what to do about it.  Our kids' and our husband's well-being come before our own. They get clothes before we do. School supplies come before our novel reading list. Their food tastes take precedence over our own. How they choose to spend free time becomes what we do. Their schedules become our schedules. We push ourselves out of fear of becoming that mom who neglects her children and puts herself and her selfish desires before that of the care of her family. We will not be that woman!

After time of living with this mind-set, we can lose sight of who we are - our passions, our dreams, our simple pleasures. When we begin to dream, our logic screams at us, "what about the kids!? How would that affect them?! That's selfish!" And then we feel guilty for ever dreaming at all.

I am writing this today because I think this is wrong. I think that God has created us with adventure and dreams in our hearts! I believe that we should be willing to take a look and see what else is out there, what more life can have in store for us! Give a little more room for yourself sometimes. You spend all of your time and extra money on your children - get yourself a gift sometimes! Plan a night out for yourself or you and your spouse! Don't be afraid to be a woman with her own dreams and desires. This doesn't necessarily mean packing up and heading out to some remote island (though it might!) but it may include breaking the unhealthy walls of the rooms we have built ourselves into. What we might find is that our marriages are strengthened because we return to being the woman our husbands married. We may make our children proud of our accomplishments and give them inspiration to reach their own goals and dreams. You may find fulfillment and pleasure in your life that you had given up hope of ever having.

Dream big!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm That Little Girl

I have been so frustrated this whole week. My Princess has entered into a stage where she moves slower than a sloth to do anything and absolutely nothing can motivate her to accomplish the things she needs to in a day - getting ready in the morning, caring for pets, doing her school work. The lost privileges and consequences have no effect. She simply doesn't care and doesn't understand why she should. I want to pull my hair out in exasperation at trying to get her to realize that she is missing out on so much good stuff in life by draaaaaaaagggging out the work!

Flashback. There was once another little girl just like this - me. I clearly remember being about eight years old, standing on a giant rock in the middle of my grandmother's garden, performing a song at the top of my lungs with the world as my audience. I was free! It was fun! Problem? I was supposed to be weeding the garden. My grandmother had told me that if I pulled the weeds from her flowerbed she would pay me and also take me to the movies that evening. I remember her coming out of the house time and time again to urge me to get the work done...to hurry...to stay focused and motivated. I never understood until now.

I am still that little girl. It has occurred to me that we are all like this in our spiritual walks. God is constantly urging us to do more, make more of ourselves. Our response? We would rather waste time on things that don't matter, wallow in irrelevance and get sidetracked by everything else around us! Chores, status, finances, jobs, relationshipsgossip, possessions...the list could go on and on. God doesn't encourage us to push these things aside and focus on His Kingdom because He is just a big meanie! He does it because he knows that if we focus on what is truly important, if we work hard and get "things" done, then there will be rewards! Life will be more exciting and fulfilling! 

Stop dragging your feet and get busy! You've got a life to live!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

You Will Never Be Good Enough

Yep, you read that right. You will never be good enough. Now hold on before you click to some other link that is more upbeat and cheery. This really is a pep-talk!

I have always been that girl that has to do everything right. I actually get very upset if I don't accomplish what I wanted to. It was great when I was younger going through school. It got me good grades. It kept me from making stupid decisions (most of the time). You get the picture. However, as a mom, it has not been a great quality to have. Of course we should always strive to do our best, but my problem was that if I didn't have all the items on my to-do list checked off, if my house wasn't up to "par," if my kids were having "one of those days," even if I were sick and didn't get my ducks in a row...I felt like I had failed. I was a failure as a mom. I was a failure as a wife. I was just a failure.

Well, in a way, the Bible says that is true. Let's explore:

Isaiah 64:6 says, "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;"

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

We can never be good enough! There are never enough good things that we can do to make all of our mistakes "ok." We can never serve enough or give enough to pay the price for our wrong choices. That is why God sent His Son.

This isn't a bad thing! It's grace! It is freeing! What this tells me is that I can stop striving! I can stop trying to be perfect. I can stop trying to be the perfect mom. I will never be. I can stop trying to be the perfect wife. I will never be. But, that doesn't make me a failure. It makes me beautiful. Yes, because Jesus blood has cleansed me and I am now in right relationship with God. With His Spirit in me, guiding me and sanctifying me, I am perfect. The way that I am now seen is not based on what I have accomplished, but on what He has accomplished for me. I can live a life without the burden of checking things off the list and focus on loving others and sharing this message of grace with everyone that I can.

Now, that is a pep-talk!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

After a Time of Absence...

I know that it has been a long time since I have written a blog post...there's good reason! This past summer our family was blessed with a new home. It is a gorgeous old home from 1901, which I love! It has come, however, with the additional package of needing lots of TLC! So, between moving a family with young children, trying to maintain a "semi-normal" lifestyle of work and play, and starting another school year (in a new place!), and being married to the youth pastor (speaks for itself, right?), I haven't had much time for the extras. Along the way, however, I have learned many heart lessons, overcome many frustrations, gotten in too deep into projects and have come out with lots that I would love to share with you. So I decided to pick up my technological pen and paper and begin to write once again...

a time to tear down and a time to build...(Ecclesiastes 3:3)
This old barn is on the property where we have moved. As cool as it is, it is completely unstable and the insurance companies have all but demanded that it come down.  So today we decided to begin the painstaking process of tearing it apart (saving wood and lumber for this and that). Included in this process however, was the task of building a temporary shelter for our sheep, who are due to lamb next week! Using the materials we were tearing off of the old barn, we were at the same time using them to build, and setting aside other pieces to build in the future!

As I began thinking about this process, I realized that this is exactly what God does with our lives. It certainly sums up what He has done with my life this past 6 months! We often come to a point in our lives when we know it is time to tear down. There are things that just gotta go. I find it difficult when I am at this point to determine which things need to be "torn down." It is a task of prioritizing and can also be painful when you finally figure out which things need to go.

Once we have made it through this time of tearing down, God then begins to use those pieces of our broken lives to build again. Whether it is leaving a home to start anew in another home, getting a new job, terminating unhealthy relationships and building new ones, tearing down walls and buildings to make new, sturdier ones, (the list goes on and on and on!)...we then begin to build again.

So what I have learned that I would like to pass on to you today is this, do not be afraid to "tear down" because it is only then that you can build again. And our God is notorious for rebuilding things much better than they were before!