Thursday, May 22, 2014

Did I accomplish anything today?

A friend recently said to me, "I'm doing what I've always wanted to do. I'm staying home to raise my children. But at the end of the day, I look around and wonder what I have accomplished. I can't see much that I have done."

 I remember being at home when my children,Taylor and Caleb, were younger. I had wonderful goals and plans, amazing curriculum, lovely vision and dreams I wanted them to catch. But then we had to eat breakfast, make beds, and clean the kitchen. Then I actually had to break out those great books and read them to my kids. Then I had to break up a fight in my Jesus-blessed household. After that would come the complaints of too much work and "I can't write all of that!" There was the time of convincing one of my children that memorizing the multiplication tables was useful. So many distractions, interruptions, and battles. By noon everyday I was wiped out and still had the housework, laundry, cooking and preparation for children's choir. At the end of  day my question was the same as my friend's, "What have I accomplished?"

 The reason it didn't look like I accomplished anything was that no one could see what I was doing. Oh, they could see paragraphs written and math problems solved, but the real work I set out to do every day was invisible. It was an inside job. I might catch a glimpse now and then, but I had to trust that God was doing the real work in their souls. I wasn't merely implanting multiplication tables and reading Robinson Crusoe though I was doing those things...I was training my children in faith.

I didn't do it perfectly. I could fill many blogs with the mistakes made along the way: like trying too hard to make everybody happy and everything fair and even. That never worked! Even those are part of the story and part of the lesson. I am growing in my walk with Him. I stumble, but God picks me up again.

Taylor and Caleb did get to see me living out the idea of Deuteronomy 6:4-7, the verses where God tells the children of Israel how to teach their children about Him. We were talking about God, His commands, and His ways when we sat at home or walked along the road, when we lay down and when we got up.

My children became like their teacher in many ways, good and bad.The encouraging part is the growing is not over. Even after they leave the nest, those childhood lessons still shape their souls. I can trust Jesus to give grace and fill in what they need that I didn't give.  No one learns all of life's lessons by age 18. They may stumble, they may fail, but my God won't leave them there. He chooses to wait on prodigal sons and search for lost sheep. His is a love that doesn't let go.

Hang in there, Moms, you are cooperating with the Father in forming priceless things that cannot be seen; you are shaping hearts. Just like you can't see that heart, you can't yet see the power of your influence. All the things you are trying to teach your child, all those lofty goals you set, all those dreams you want them to see and catch; these things happen in between. In between the laundry and the meal, there is perseverance. In between the sports and the algebra, there is encouragement. In between the friends and the loneliness, there is hope. And in between the failures and the hurts, there is the grace and tender mercies of the Father. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Better, Faster, Stronger than Before

Growing up I loved to watch "The Six Million Dollar Man". The gist of the story is this: When Steve Austin is severely injured in aircraft crash, he is rebuilt with bionic implants that cost six million dollars.Steve can run at 60 mph and has zoom vision capabilities as well as super strong arms. He is, as the intro to the show said, " better, faster, and stronger than before". What was broken in Steve was used to create a greater man.

Now, I have had my own day dreams of being physically remade. Mostly  that involves desiring to look younger and more beautiful. It is vain and I am human, right? Proverbs promises me this though: charm is deceitful and beauty fades, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. As much as beauty as appreciated, it is fearing the Lord that is to be honored. The word "fear" is not quaking and hiding, but a trusting and leaning into the Almighty. It is recognizing Him for who He is and being in awe of Him, His magnificence, His power. Learning to trust and fear the Lord is a lifetime journey. But like the six million dollar man, it begins with being broken.

 I wonder if our brokenness can lead us to a place of greater soundness, wholeness, and joy? Can God really do that? Because if He can, then He can defeat evil. If even the bad, wrong, terrible sins that have hurt us could be turned into stories of hope, beauty, and restoration, then our lives can be made glorious. We have nothing to fear. We can shine like stars in the universe holding out the hope of real life and change in Jesus. We can know that even though we are hard-pressed, we won't be destroyed.

Like Steve Austin, I am remade-- not with bionic implants, but with suffering. I become better at depending on God, at knowing He is able to meet my needs as I watch Him provide. I become faster at recognizing when I am believing lies while looking for my satisfaction elsewhere. And I become stronger through awareness of my weaknesses. I learn to depend on His grace and I find hope that does not disappoint.

Romans 5:3-5 ..We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.