I am sometimes appalled at the reactions and comments my family gets when we're out at a store or some such place..."Three boys??!!! God bless you! You've got your hands full! Are they all yours? They're so close in age! You stay at home with them??!! I don't know how you do it!...I'd never bring my kid to the store, let alone 3 kids! Why aren't you in school, little boy??!!! I was so glad when my kid went to kindergarten...they're some else's responsibility then! You homeschool???!!!! Gasp...choke!" And so the commentary goes...of course, most is not said in admiration, but in disbelief that we actually got ourselves in this predicament. (I will say a note of thanks to all those thoughtful people who lend a helping hand, kind word or sincere smile remembering the joys of their own children).
We are not in any predicament whatsoever. We chose to have our children when we had them. I will be the first to admit that life hasn't always been easy and I have second guessed myself many times, sometimes over and over on a daily basis. Some days are crazy and I'm a wreck. When I'm in a store and someone is misbehaving, I do wish I had a nanny. When I'm so aggravated that I yell or send everyone to their rooms. When I think we've got some discipline issue solved and it rears it's ugly head again. But the awesome thing is that God is working in my life! The past two years have really challenged me...my relationship with Christ, my desires for doing what glorifies Him and bring honor to His name, my partnership with Mike, my mothering, my expectations of myself, my children and others, my attitudes, my priorities, my friendships, my sense of entitlement, my emotions - especially being angry or frustrated and overwhelmed and so on.
I am reading an awesome book, The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity, that lays out so succinctly what I am finding to be true in my life. This book is speaking volumes to me and is allowing me to really put into words how I feel God is directing me. Among other things, especially dear friends with whom I can share my heart, this book is helping to put a voice to all that is churning and changing inside of me. I feel like Sally Clarkson wrote this book just for me alone. I've been underlining things that I find helpful...I almost need to underline the whole book!
The following are quotes from the book. You'd have to read it yourself to see the entire picture, but these statements are so important I'm quoting them here...and it helps me to share what is really going on in my heart!
Disclaimer: Lest any one who reads this feels I am judging you for your decisions, please don't mistake my enthusiasm and fervor...What you decide for your life is between you and God...but maybe there are some things you might choose to chew on...
-"How we choose to focus our priorities and time in light of our children's lives will have great consequences not only for their individual futures but for the future of our society as well...someone needs to take responsibility for their nurture, protection, nourishment, intellectual development, manners, recreation, personal needs, and spiritual development. Someone needs to commit time and energy into staying close to them as they grow, encouraging and correcting and teaching." pg 43
-"Because children are not considered important enough to occupy the lion's share of a mother's time, childcare quickly becomes a growth industry...The responsibility of instilling morality, conscience, intellect, emotional stability, and spiritual understanding is relegated to day care, teachers and schools, the media (especially television), and peers...Once children lose their value in a culture, so does the work of bringing them into this world and tending them once they are here...Instead of being revered, respected, and supported by society, mothering is devalued...the minority of mothers who choose to devote their lives to the nurturing of a godly heritage by focusing on their home as the center of life find themselves unsupported and unaffirmed by a culture that does not value their contribution. The hard, daily, repetitive work...is perceived as menial labor instead of the stuff from which godliness is built." pg 34-35
-"How could I put all of me into my time at home if I was always thinking about a future time when I could escape the routine tasks of motherhood?...the two conflicted drives of my heart stood out in stark contrast - my commitment to motherhood versus my lurking desire to have life my own way...I began to see my children's care and nurture as God's best will for my life during my season as a mother...I needed to treat each day as sacred...all of the "important stuff" I was longing to do had far less eternal significance than what I was involved in doing. If I didn't commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart would always be somewhere else." pg 44-45
-"How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to him? We yield our personal rights into his hands. We give up our time and expectations to him - and also our fears and worries about how we will manage. We trust him to take care of us and our family. We will let him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams. And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that he will be faithful to honor our commitment to him." pg 54
-"It's the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts [for Christ]. If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant's heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life." pg 63
-"Not only had [Jesus] told them that whoever wanted to be first must be a servant of all, but he had also shown them personally what servant leadership was all about...He reached the minds, hearts, and lives of his disciples not just by telling them what to do but by serving them in love - an example that contrasts starkly to the common view of what leadership is all about...modeling loving service to our children gives them something to emulate in their own lives...this does not mean we will ask nothing of our children or do everything for them. It doesn't mean we won't tell them what is right. It certainly doesn't mean we won't discipline them or require proper behavior from them. Jesus, after all, asked a lot of his disciples. He ultimately asked them to be willing to die for his cause! It is important to remember, though, that they first saw him give up his life for them. And that, I believe, is the model that he intends us mothers to follow...I often must sacrifice my own needs and desires for the purpose of giving my children what they need and modeling for them the depths of Christ's love...making this choice ahead of time means I will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment...Jesus was able to choose sacrifice and servanthood because of his deep love - and because he was looking to eternity!...I was called to give up my rights simply out of my love for Jesus." pg 65-67,69
-"...the Lord convicted me that the future was not where real life began. Each day was God's perfect will for me. There would be no wasted years of "just taking care of the needs of my young children." On the contrary, these years would be among the most important in my life." pg 68
-"Attitude...makes all the difference when it comes to serving our children. Serving with joy in the midst of messes and difficulty can only be done when we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are joyful and see each minute with our children as an opportunity to worship God through our service of him, our children sense our joy and feel secure and happy...my children didn't need me to be on top of all my chores or even to be perfect in taking care of all their needs. What they needed was for me to be content and patient with life. They needed me, as a mature Christian, to walk by faith that God was in control, allowing his Spirit, to give me peace and joy in the midst of life's inevitable ups and downs...my service to God is not just in what I do, but in what I choose to believe in my heart and how I learn to live out those beliefs through my attitudes and words and actions in my day-to-day life." pg 72-73
I'm only about half way through the book...but there's so much to digest all ready. I can almost guarantee I'll have more quotes to share with you in the future.
The next time you see me, instead of feeling sorry for me or giving me a puppy dog smile that I'm out again doing errands with ALL my children, celebrate with me...that I am responding to the Holy Spirit's tug on my heart, that God is working in my heart to love him more deeply and serve him more consistently, that God has given me three boys (with hopes for more??!!!), that God has placed several Godly women in my life that inspire, challenge, encourage, and share the same vision for our families (you know who you are and I love you!), that I have the privilege to "get my hands dirty" every day with my boys, that I am their school teacher, that my boys are learning brothers are the best friends you can ever have, that I am growing into the woman, wife and mother that God has called me to be...that God is giving me an undivided heart.
If you are interested, check out my links to the right for Sally Clarkson's blog "Whole Hearted Mom Sally" and the link to her family's ministry "Whole Heart Ministries."