Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Current Thoughts on Motherhood

I woke up this morning thinking about Mother's Day, no specifics, just an awareness. I got on Facebook and post after post after post of people telling their mothers how wonderful they are and how they learned everything they know from their wonderful mothers.

I love my mother and sometimes I miss her dreadfully. When I miss her, it is always with the disclaimer: *but not the person she was when she died, but who she was when I was young*. My mother died of mental illness. Reader's Digest asked people to submit a 6 word tribute to their mother. Mine?

Good intentions. Mental illness. Mercy. Missed.

She did the best she could. There is grace for the rest.

It took me a few minutes of reflection to be able to put my mother to rest again. I remembered something a faithful friend said to me a few years ago. He listened to my mother-fears and pointed out that my children have a very different childhood than my own. This is so beautifully true. The poverty, mental illnesses, divorce, anger, etc are far removed from my children. I, on the other hand, am still close enough to smell it and hear it. This leads to my fear.

I sat on the side of my bed this morning and thought of my kids still sleeping soundly in their beds. I thought about their lives and their growing knowledge of the Cross. They see sin and sorrow, death and pain, but they have a different filter than I did.

When I entered high school, it had become childish and a "waste of my potential" to want to be a wife and mother. In 11th grade, my school offered a job fair and we had to declare "what we wanted to be when we grew up". Motherhood and marriage wasn't on the list. I had to choose something else. I chose physical therapy or teaching, but deep in my heart, I just wanted to be a homemaker. I kept it quiet though, on the down low. I'm a people pleaser.

I have a friend I knew when I was in high school. She knew everything about me. Recently, after a divorce and a death, we stood in the cemetery and cried together. She had many regrets. As we stood weeping together, she looked at me and said, "Please tell me you don't take your life for granted. You have everything you ever wanted. That is so rare, Crissy. Be thankful and don't take it for granted. Promise me." I promised.

This morning, I stood in my hallway and listened to my kids' silence and kept that promise. Mother's Day is not about celebrating my mother but forgiving her and knowing that she tried. Mother's Day is remembering to savor the fact that I have everything I ever wanted and more. I should get my husband and children gifts on this day, not the other way around.

I asked my kids to complete the six word tribute. Here are their results.

Wise. Loving. Strong. Excited. Funny. Ridiculous.

She's a loving but annoying mother. (haha Ty.)

Loving. Sarcastic. Smart. Pretty. Crazy. Creative.

There aren't words to describe her.

She's got a really great personality. (yes, Maggie was being funny)

Then I asked them, "What is the one sentence that I say the most?"

I love you.

Be quiet! Your dad is sleeping.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Jeremiah 1:7

We had the most amazing prayer time tonight at church. Every other week, we meet in the evening to eat together and pray. We pray first. Tonight Rick asked Ty to open. I could tell it made him a little uncomfortable but I think he's used to it. Rick, and all the other men at the church, don't treat him as if he's just a kid or a "youth". They treat him like a fellow member, a peer of sorts. They involve him in conversations and let him have input. Most of the time he sits and listens. He plays with the other boys, the ones closer to his age. He plays with the little ones. Jack (age 4) especially adores him.

Two years ago, Ty prayed every night for God to bring a boy his age to Springville church. We prayed with him. I saw how much he missed his friends from Moody. I saw him grow more and more disheartened. Then I saw him give up. One year ago, Ty hated Springville. He was angry with God.

I saw something amazing happen though. I saw my son become part of a church. Not part of a youth group or part of a Bible study for people his age, but part of a church - as a whole. It took some time, a detox in a way. He was so accustomed to being consigned to his peers that he didn't realize he was part of a bigger body.

Tonight, Ty prayed not just the one time to open, but a total of three times. Maggie prayed. Gracie prayed. Three of the other kids prayed as well. Ty's prayer was not for people his own age, as he used to pray, but for "other Christians" who didn't have what he has. Who didn't have a church family... those were his words, a "church family that will love them."

I can recount a similar series of events for Maggie.

A couple of months ago my teenagers sat at the kitchen table and tearfully expressed gratitude. They love being part of a whole. There is something to be said for not having a traditional youth group. There is such a benefit in my teenaged daughter sitting in women's Bible study and learning, from watching and listening, how to be a godly woman. There is such benefit in my teenaged son working side by side with godly men who teach him, not just how to install siding, but how to live out the gospel.

I see so many youth who depend solely on their peers for spiritual support, who go to churches with sketchy theology just because they have good programs for kids their age. I promise, I am not anti-youth group. I think Stokes does a great job. But I think sometimes we, as communing adults, take it too far. We allow the presence of a paid youth worker to relieve us of the privilege of coming along side younger believers and investing in their lives.

Maybe I'm just expressing my own experiences. Maybe God has just been particularly gracious to my church planting children. Maybe we can have it both ways, I don't know. What I do know is that my children are growing and flourishing and really happy. Happier than I've ever seen them. They're not more comfortable. In fact, they feel more pain in the form of compassion and sorrow. They are, however, content and more aware of their place in a whole, as opposed to seeking their own pleasure.

Teaching our youth to have a kingdom mindset and heart for the lost requires them to know their place in the Kingdom. It requires them to know the rest of the body. What good is it to teach them how to resist peer pressure if they're not given a greater affection? What benefit is it to teach them how to relate to others if they're never around people who are different than themselves (in age, experience and struggle)? My children are part of the Body of Christ. They needed to know that. They need their covenant aunts, uncles, grandparents, and yes, peers. They need time together with people their own age, but they also need all of us.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Calm the Heck Down!

School is almost over for the year and I find myself evaluating and assessing. I've posted two posts today on the homeschool blog. In thinking back over my adult life, I realized I'm a lot more settled and patient about things than I used to be. I remember when the thoughts of a schedule made me feel hopeless.

I don't know why I was in such a hurry. I couldn't be bothered to let the kids agonize over a project; I wanted to take over and help them. Meaning, I would do it for them. Why?!? I look back now and wonder at myself. Why couldn't I let them spend an hour writing out a letter? What was the big deal? It offended my sense of efficiency, I think. I'm all about doing things in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort. I still am, I suppose. Now, I realize that there's just NO rush. So the task takes me extra time, big deal. I'm not headed off to something better.

When I was younger, I was all about things having meaning and significance. Maggie stacking all her blocks just so before bedtime interfered. That was meaningless. Purposeless. Without point. She should be rushing through that and getting on with things. I yelled at my kids when they were little because they took way to long to get things done. They walked when they should run. They stopped to organize bugs when we were LATE! Hurry up! My children didn't conform.

I see myself still doing those things, but I am much more mindful of them now. I've learned to let go of the things that really, really don't matter. If they want to spend three hours cleaning a room that should only take ten minutes, why get mad about it? If I give them a time frame (you have to be done with showers by 8:30) and they don't follow the time frame, they just don't get to do it. I don't have to take it as a personal attack; they just aren't allowed to shower. If they want to sleep late, they won't make me late, they'll just have to get in the van without breakfast.

One big thing I've noticed about myself also, I manage my time much better than I used to. I remember thinking it shouldn't take me that long to get FOUR kids out the door and into the van. Really?!? What was I thinking? It takes twice as long. ... but that's inefficient, my idol cried! Whatever. Give up. Quit fighting it. It takes twice as long. And laundry is twice (or four to the fifth power) as much. And sleep is interrupted. And dinner happens every. single. night.

Why did I rage against reality? Why did my life, the life I had chosen, offend me so much? Why was I so selfish? I wish I could have known then what I know now: the life God gave me has significance, eternal significance. The green beans, dirty toilets, graded papers, power bills, and vacations have eternal significance and meaning. They do because God says they do. My life, my small little life, has eternal meaning. That makes me smile and take a breath.