Thursday, July 26, 2012

Something Special

This summer has been a struggle as I seek to discern the voice of God on some big decisions.  Meanwhile there has been turmoil in my heart and in my family regarding the upcoming adjustments fast approaching.  Emotions are close to the surface, and I wonder, "What will our new normal be like?" Or the real question, "How do we as parents establish a new normal for our kids remaining at home after our nest has been shaken in half with college?"

I don't have all the answers, but I do know it will help tremendously if I am available to be mom.  Many of the decisions I have been mulling over regard my involvement within my local church.   Receiving the Word but never contributing, never giving to the body of Christ in the use of our spiritual gifts results in a stagnant life.  But on the flip side of that concept, a person can do too much.  I must remember the wisdom of Solomon, "to everything there is a season," and David's comments about life reminding us that a "tree yields its fruit in season." (Eccles. 3:1; Psa. 1:3)  I think God is asking me to lay aside some of my outside ministry to fulfill my primary calling of wife and mom.

Inside each of us is a longing to be part of something special, to make a difference and to have a niche or calling we are carrying out.  But wait.  As 'just' a wife and mom sometimes I don't feel like it is all that special.  Sometimes I believe the lie that I need to be a teacher, a writer, a retreat speaker etc. to be making a difference. 

I'm reminded of a scene from the movie, Independence Day.   A husband and wife who have been separated for many years end up working closely together on a 'save the earth from certain annihilation' rescue project.  In an alone moment the ex wife tells her former husband that she never stopped loving him but just wanted to be part of something special, as in her dream career.  He then delivers the punch line, "Oh, but I was part of something special."  

God has given me a husband and four children.  Some days I wonder if I am really the right wife or mom for these individuals, but I do know that I am part of something special, an intact traditional family.  It is a rare commodity in our culture.  I'm trying to accept that laying aside some of the ministries I've been involved in is okay.  In fact it is crucial in order to maintain what is best, the precious lives of those in my family. 

This summer it has been such a treat for me to be part of a women's Bible study.  I'm normally the one teaching a Bible study, preparing lessons, keeping the conversation on topic, etc.  But I've fallen in love with these ladies as we've shared our heart over the weeks.  I wish I could continue in the fall but well, there's that homeschool thing that must take priority.  And there are some high school and middle school girls who have stolen my heart.  I hope to return to them. 

But one thing Priscilla Shirer speaks of in her study, He Speaks To Me, is on being a servant, even if it means my discomfort.  I've really been searching my soul about my obedience.  Is it conditional?   I'll serve you God if its what I want to do or makes me look good, but I really don't want to serve if it means doing the laundry and especially not if it means training my children to work because, groan, it's so much work!  I'd rather do it myself.  Am I willing to do what God asks no matter how I feel about it?  Or do my emotions rule my life? 

When I do not surrender in obedience I am not letting "the peace of Christ rule in my heart." (Col. 3:15)  Instead I invite unrest.   I must go in the direction God leads no matter what others think, for only in obedience to God will I know His peace.  Sigh.  Glorious rest. 

I am part of something special, for God deems the family of highest value.  How can I ever think keeping a home is trivial?  While writing this my younger children are in the kitchen making play doh for a project.  I think I will go see how they are coming along.  And my husband?  Well, he has a birthday next week, along with his twin.  I can't forget him . . . or her.  Hmmmm, as much as I dislike shopping, especially for men, I'm thinking I need to hit the stores for that special gift.  And my mind is concocting a dinner that might suit his fancy.  Enough talk, time to live the walk. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Broken Vase

Why is it that always when my heart is heavy I feel so much closer to Jesus?  Maybe because I reach the point of honesty, not rote prayers, but real soul cries to my Rock of refuge.  This week I've been filled up with the presence of Jesus who has met me in sweet communion, revealing Himself in such personal ways, but at the same time, my heart is weighed down.

My husband and oldest daughter have been away on a missions trip and so it is me with my youngest two holding down the fort.  Summer is my happy child, never sad, always lighthearted, delighted with being funny, making others smile.  But when we sat at lunch yesterday her mouth quivered and her eyes hung low.  I knew something was wrong.  She said, "The house is empty, too quiet."  And then the real clincher, "I miss Heather."  And I thought, "Oh Jesus, if she is this despondent when Heather is gone for only a week, what are we going to do when she goes to college this fall?"  I cannot bear this sadness.  My heart aches to see my Summer girl so despondent. 

Ivy's been begging me to play battleship with her, so yesterday we finally did.  It was supposed to be fun, building relationship, bonding.  Instead it turned into tears, anger, and bitterness.  Total defeat, and I'm not talking about the game.  Her Dad is not here to mend things over, heal the hurt, fix the wound.

My heart is weighed down with many things other things as well, paying for college and getting Heather there and at the same time starting Ivy in public school.  And now I have dental issues, a root canal next week, and I ask God, "Why now?"

I've been trying to paint the trim on the outside of the house before my husband gets back, surprise him with a finished project, and I'm chicken to extent the ladder to the highest heights to reach the top rafters.  Whatever happened to my 'no fear of heights'?   And after working all day, reaching, stretching, and straining, today I lack energy and wonder, "Whatever happened to my strength of youth?"

I have a reason for sharing all these things with you.  It was only as Mary's alabaster jar was broken at the feet of Jesus that all in the room were impacted by the fragrance of the perfume within.  If I clam up tight and never share my heart, then this vase is never broken, only a cold ornament sitting on the shelf and your life will never be blessed by mine. 

But mostly I share this because God has heard my heart cry.  As I've been writing a Bible study on the book of Ruth I've come to the place where Ruth returns to Naomi with the news of a closer relative.  Legally, she cannot marry Boaz, the one she loves.  Boaz has filled Ruth's shawl with grain, His provision and protection, and as Ruth carries that grain home she feels the weight and I cannot help but see the symbolism in her burden of grain.  Her heart is full, filled to the brim in sweet communion with her true love, but at the same time heavy, the weight of reality bearing down on her with each step forward.

Ruth arrives home and pours out the grain and her heart to Naomi whose response is, "Wait...for the man will not rest until the matter is settled today."  (Ruth 3:18)  And God tells me, "Cease striving, and know that I am God."  (Psa. 46:10)  Today I unload my burden on Him and sink into His wings, surrendering all these cares into His hands, for He will attend to every detail.  He notices even the sparrow who falls to the ground, how much more the apple of His eye, those who are His own.  I need only rest.  Trust . . . such an easy cliche' word, but oh so hard. 

Jesus, I lean not on my own understanding, but hard into You.  Soothe our hearts.  Open my tightly clenched hand and carry our burdens. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Knee High

Knee high by the fourth of July, that's farmer's rule for corn to yield a harvest before the season is over.  The corn I planted way back when is well beyond knee high, more like waist high and I'm excited about that.  Funny how watching a plant grow, started from seed, can bring so much pleasure.  A miracle really. 

So often when I plant a seed I want to wake up the next morning and see immediate results.  But every day is an investment in the goal.  Faithfulness is a humble virtue, so often overlooked, left behind in the limelight of qualities which seem more noble. 

I read a poem in high school which had great impact on me.  I've looked for it since and could not find it, even forgotten about it over the years, but occasionally the Spirit reminds me of its message.  You can imagine my thrill when I ran across that very poem in my recent reading of Charles Swindoll's book entitled Living Above The Level of Mediocrity. (Excellent read by the way) The poem is written by Ruth Harms Calkin and states:

"I Wonder"
You know, Lord, how I serve You
with great emotional fervor in the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for You at a Women's Club.
You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.
But how would I react, I wonder,
if You pointed to a basin of water
and asked me to wash the calloused feet
of a bent and wrinkled old woman
day after day, month after month,
in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew?

How eager we are to serve if its on stage, or in important places 'that matter' such as teaching adults or the excitement of VBS.  Where are we when it comes to week by week faithfulness in a classroom of children or day by day laundry or meals?   Those faithful are willing to "water and weed," on a regular basis, seeing no immediate fruit and no honor from others. 

Today there will be no fireworks in the back yard and no sparkles or gun powder from a city show.  Normally my family watches from the roof of our house, so we are indeed disappointed.  It is quiet, like any normal day, yet in our hearts the spirit of America remains alive and we remember the sacrifice, faithfulness, and determination by which those gone before have gained us our freedoms.  But even this moment there are heroes all around us, heroes none of us know about, but God sees.  And we experience the results of their faithfulness. 

I have to wonder, am I being faithful in the calling God has placed on my life, especially in the little things?  Because I want to reap a harvest someday, a harvest of character, of righteousness, and of impact on the lives of others toward the kingdom of God.  The investment I make today where no one sees or knows does matter.  Knee high by the fourth of July, yes, that's what I'm aiming for, so when these children (and myself) face summer's hottest trial, we may rise above it.