Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Can I get an AMEN? :)

I just see no reason to write my own blog posts when great articles keep coming along my path! :) This article was emailed to me at the beginning of the month...but I only read it yesterday...and I couldn't help but think how perfectly timed it was with Challies post from yesterday.

Not sure exactly what God has used to bring about all these great articles on motherhood from godly men and women over this past month...but, if it has anything to do with the fact that May hold's the holiday of "Mother's Day"...then I vote for Mother's Day to be celebrated every month! My heart needs as many of these encouragements as possible! (Thanks, Sumiko, for sending this to me!)


You Do Not Belong To Your Children, You Belong To Christ

A superficial reading of the title may cause some to think I have become anti-motherhood. That is the furthest thing from the truth. I am the mother of five living children and one dead child whom I believe is with Jesus, by the grace of God. I am NOT anti-motherhood, I am for Christ-centered motherhood! It is because I have lived at the two extremes of neglecting family, and making family my idol, that I can say some of the hard things I’m going to say. God willing with a gracious spirit speaking the truth in love.

First, let’s see what the Scripture says about who we belong to:
“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, YOU ARE MINE
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, YOUR SAVIOR
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I LOVE YOU
I, I am the Lord,
and beside me THERE IS NO SAVIOR.
–Isaiah 43: 1,3,4,11
If you are a Christian, you belong to Jesus Christ and no one else.

A friend and I were talking some weeks back and we both mentioned that we were a bit tired of these little aphorisms that seem to make the rounds in conservative Christian circles, whether on Facebook, blogs, books or in the local church. The latest goes something like this: “don’t worry so much about cleaning your home, make sure you are playing with your children.” There are others of course, most of them have to do with telling a mom to accept or forgive herself for not doing something else so THAT she can put more time in with the kids. It’s a good thing to try to remedy imbalances, but these sayings ALWAYS seem to tilt toward children. So for all the warnings NOT to become child-centered, or to have child-centered homes, we end up advising parents in ways that in actuality produce a certain child-centeredness.

Let’s be realistic for a minute: Motherhood is a big job. Our American attitudes toward “working smarter instead of working harder,” “play with your kids and don’t worry about the laundry,” will not help mothers understand their calling and tackle it with gospel eyes. For all the abortions in our culture, American secular families are very child-centered. Whether it’s buying their kids the newest learning game, extra-curricular activities, or even secular homeschooling (yes, it definitely exists), many many secular parents have their lives wrapped up in their children. I believe a little bit of this child-worship has crept into the Christian culture and we think it’s more palatable because we  have baptized it with certain Christian activities, or we’ve labeled it with “family-integration,” or given it some other Christian bent.

I have never read or heard anyone say:
“Read your Bible and spend time in prayer with the Lord; don’t worry if you send the kids to play in their room,” or
“Let the kids play outside by themselves; meditate on God’s mercy and pray in a quiet house for a while,” or even
“Clean your bathrooms; don’t worry about putting on a movie for your children.” or…. you get the point.


Why am I saying all this? It is not because I don’t think mothers should play with their children. In all honesty, it is because I have not seen a proper Christ-centered focus in the Christian community when it comes to motherhood. We’re so wrapped up with encouraging mothers to love their children and delight in them (which we should do appropriately) that we neglect THE WOMAN’S SOUL. Ladies you have eternal souls, you belong to Jesus, not to your children. Make your lives revolve around Christ, not your children. I believe you will find that when we focus on Christ, our parenting will harmonize around him. You will be able to love and serve your children better.

To repeat what I recently said on a friend’s blog: To the young mom, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pursuing your relationship with Christ Jesus with passion and rigor. Out of this will flow all things. It’s okay to read blogs, articles and books that give schooling and parenting advice, but if that is your diet, you are headed for disaster. Feed on Christ, let that be your main food. It’s okay to read those other things, but in small quantities or they will become your rule of law and your eyes will be taken off of Christ. I can write pages on this, but I won’t.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breath of Fresh Air

I just read one of my most favorite posts of the year so far!

Why?

Because, whether I like it or not, I have been prone to "Competitive Mothering". I didn't know it had a name :)...but I think Challies labeled it well. And, truthfully, I didn't even see it as a competition...I just saw myself as always falling short.

I read a book years ago on "Having The Healthiest Kids in the Neighborhood" and, while it was a great book, thus began a journey of "guilt" over all the processed food, red dye 40, and high fructose corn syrup that my kids were consuming.

I read blogs on homeschooling and the fun that the kids were having...the field trips, the arts and crafts, the special projects...and I felt guilty over the hum-drum that most of our school days consisted of.

I read articles that said that our children should go off to school having had a well-balanced breakfast with lots of protein. And I worked extra hard to make extra yummy breakfasts forgetting that almost every morning of my school years I had a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice...and I STILL had a great day! :)

I could keep going...but I think you get the point!

And, that is why Tim Challies article "Competitive Mothering" was such a breath of fresh air to my often weary mother's soul! Thank you Tim!


We are quite the competitive bunch, we humans, and really, given the opportunity, there isn’t much that we won’t or can’t turn into some kind of a competition. I don’t know if this is innate in our humanity or something bequeathed to us in the Fall into sin, but what is certain is its certainty—we just plain love to compete with one another. Or maybe it’s better to say that we hate to compete, but we do it anyway.

One of the greatest, most common, and most bloodthirsty contemporary competitions is motherhood. Yes, motherhood. It may be that motherhood has always been competitive, but the Internet in general, and social media in particular, have widened the field. You are no longer competing against only neighbors and sisters-in-law and fellow church members, but the professional moms, the ones who are reinventing motherhood. It’s always a losing battle.

Today you open up Facebook or blogs and you see daily updates from the moms who lead the way, who set the standards. They keep the house spotless every day, even while homeschooling six kids. They never miss a day of devotions and love every minute of working their way through Jonathan Edwards and John Owen. They go thrifting and put together a magazine-worthy home on a budget of very nearly nothing. They dress beautifully or eclectically or whatever their style is, without spending any money. Their husbands are that perfect combination of handsome and harmless, good-looking but not demanding. Their children are mischievous but not rebellious, they make funny messes in the home, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a hug and a few homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Of course these moms also chart and photograph every one of their triumphs. Julian says it well:
And whatever you do, if you are a good mom, you must make sure you get it all on camera so you can post the pictures on Facebook and the ideas on Pinterest to let everyone know you’re keeping up. Plus, you should probably earn some income (at the very least, open an Etsy shop) to prove you’re not inferior to the women around you who hold down jobs.
Most moms consider themselves to be in the little leagues, just barely learning the rules of the game, but through the Internet they’re now directly comparing themselves to the big leaguers. Not surprisingly, they find themselves falling woefully short.

The fact is, mother is more competitive than it has ever been. No longer do you just need to raise your children and care for your home and help your husband, but you also need to do it publicly, to display your triumphs for all the world to see. Perhaps worst of all, you need to watch others do it better than you. Every day you will see evidence of your own shortcomings.

As if that isn’t already bad enough, so many women appear to have a near-infinite capacity for carrying guilt. I don’t know of any challenge or opportunity or responsibility—however you want to classify motherhood—that lends itself more readily to guilt. Many mothers live in guilt from the day they first become pregnant (“I can’t believe I drank coffee! I need to take more vitamins!”) to the day they die (“So many opportunities missed!”). Husbands feel great freedom to chip away at a wife’s confidence and so, too, do children. “Why don’t you spend more time with the kids? If you really loved me, you’d let me…”

Is there a solution? Is there a way out? Of course there is. Instead of boasting in your strengths as a mother, or wanting to be able to boast in your strengths as a mother, why not boast in your weakness? Only when you accept your weakness, your insufficiency, will that competition and guilt begin to melt away. Gloria Furman says it well:
You and I may never be nominated for the fictitious Mother of the Year award. The proverbial trophy case will remain dusty and empty. But nonetheless we should boast all the more gladly of our weaknesses and need for God’s grace so that Christ’s power will rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Glorying in God is a truer and better award than the adulation of others. Considering God’s    potential to deliver all the grace he promises us in Christ is a truer and better estimation of the potential of 2012. So let’s start a new year rejoicing in God’s work of making us a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Grounded in the objective truth of the gospel, of what Christ has done for guilt-laden, competition-losing mothers, this provides true hope and freedom. It comes not by a mother’s own accomplishments but by what Christ has already accomplished. It levels the field, it destroys the competition, it brings glory to the ultimate Victor.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gotta love a Sunday afternoon....

While the kids told jokes to Great Grammy (and made her laugh so hard I wish I had video with my picture!)....
....others caught up on their zzzzz's!:)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facebook


Yesterday, I entered the world of Facebook. As my sister-in-law teasingly said, "Welcome to 2012". :)

Truth is, there have been a few reasons why I have not been an active part of Facebook:

1) I struggle with the sin of people pleasing....and to open up my life to that many more people who I may let down by not emailing or responding to in a timely matter, etc...just overwhelmed me a bit.

2)My life can overwhelm me a bit. :) My six children are precious gifts, but they require a lot of emotional, spiritual, and physical energy....and the fight against my own flesh...to daily die to self...is a raging battle. I didn't want Facebook to distract me more than I already am.

3)Our church family has always been so important to us. I have always wanted to be available to those specific people and the needs in their lives.  I wasn't sure how to "be all here" as Elizabeth Elliot once said, and still be in many other places all over the US (and Canada!) at the same time.

4)I am easily distracted. One minute, I am looking for a recipe on-line and the next I am returning an email and forgetting all about getting dinner ready. Not good....and Facebook felt like a vortex that would suck me in, take hours of my life, and spit me out on a pile of unwashed laundry, a kitchen full of dirty dishes, and a husband who wondered what happened to his wife!:)

Guess what?

All those things are still realities. All those things could still happen if I am not careful, intentional, and purposeful. In fact, I have a feeling all those things WILL happen at one time or another because I can't get rid of my sinful flesh no matter how much I would like to.

But it's worth the "risk".

Why?

Because there are only two things that will last forever....the souls of men and the Word of God....and Facebook, at it's best, is all about connecting with those souls. And every connection with others is an opportunity to exalt Christ and build each other up through the Word of God. And that is not a waste, it's an investment...an eternal investment.

I'm in!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Two Became One


Saturday in Seattle: The sun was shining, flowers were blooming...and my brother Paul was getting married!

It was a wonderful weekend! There were so many logistics that come with getting married in the city...and God was so gracious to allow the hard work and planning of others to produce a truly seamless weekend!

So many things to thank the Lord for....here are a few highlights:

-all siblings and family together (including my Grandpa and Grammy Parker)

-getting to meet Sarah's family and her sweet friends that flew in from all over the USA

-AMAZING B-B-Q ribs at the rehearsal dinner :)

-safe travel for all involved

-my brother's community room that we used for family meals while we were there

-sunshine and warm weather!!!!!!

-a great transit system (though, our family must have been quite the spectacle taking the bus back from the wedding....6 kids in Seattle is enough to turn heads, as it is. Six kids and their parents all decked out in wedding attire and carrying bouquets of flowers...that will definitely do it!)

-laughter

-seeing my brother Paul kiss his new bride for the VERY FIRST TIME!

-gorgeous bouquets

-seeing my brother's church family in action...all the ways they served...from pictures, to video, to desserts, to set up and take down. It was beautiful to see their love for Jesus and each other!

-great attitudes from my kiddos

-a precious husband

-a God-exalting ceremony...full of His Word, songs of worship, laughter, and tears of joy

-Mother's Day with both my mom and my Grammy

And that just names a few!:)

Prayerfully, I will have more pictures to post soon...but the memories will last either way!

On Sunday, we went to church at Downtown Cornerstone Church (where both of my brothers and their brides attend and serve at) and had a precious morning of worship and the Word. One of the songs we sang, to me, summed up the festivities of Saturday in light of the greatest wedding of all to take place one day! Take a minute to listen:


 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

16 years ago today...

16 years ago today, I went on a date that would change my life forever...because I went on a date with Bryan.

I didn't know that night that I had "found the one whom my soul loves" (Song of Solomon 3:4) but it didn't take me long to realize what an amazing, godly man he was and to start praying that, one day, God would make him my husband (and I have a diary to prove it!:)).

16 years ago today started an adventure...an adventure I couldn't fully begin to grasp then, am so thankful for now, and pray that it will continue as far as the eye can see.

16 years ago, I would often feel like my heart was going to leap out of my chest at just the sight of Bryan. Somewhere along the way, it really did "leap out of my chest" and Bryan has held it tenderly and with sweet patience and care ever since.

16 years ago today, there was a smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. Those butterflies have since settled...but, if you look, you'll see that my smile as grown even bigger!:)