Saturday, January 28, 2006
There is a verse that's been popping into my mind a lot lately. I was thinking that it may be my "verse of the week" but it's feeling more like the "verse of my life" right now. Paul wrote it to the Galations, in the context of reaping and sowing. He told them that "he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life". He then gave this exhortation: "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Lately I've needed to be reminded of this pretty often.
I guess I've been feeling pretty weary. It seems that I can tell Peregrine the same thing four hundred times and he still doesn't get it. I make a meal, only to get the dishes done and find that somebody wants a snack and it's time to start on the next meal. I sweep the floor and immediately it's strewn with pine needles and crumbs. It seems that the dirty laundry baskets are full before the clean clothes are even put away. I finally get both kids down for a rest and the doorbell rings and wakes up Alethea. I wash faces, change diapers, clean toilets, and they all get dirty again.
Life is relentless. Waves crash against the shore day after day; sometimes they are gentle and other times they are wild. The tides go in and out but still the waves come. That is kind of what life is like, anyone's life I suppose, but especially the life of a Mom. It's easy to grow weary, to wish that the waves would stop for a bit and that just for a moment there could be complete stillness and rest.
I need to hear the words of Saint Paul often, and especially in the context in which he wrote them. Serving my family is an opportunity each day for me to sow to the Spirit. When I serve my husband and children with joy and love and selflessness then I know that I will someday reap the rewards of that. Paul wrote in the next verse "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." As we have opportunity. As Moms, there is no lack of opportunity for us to do good. We have in our homes several people to whom we can do good. Maybe my boy only needs to hear me say something in a patient and loving way one more time before he "gets" it. Maybe he'll never get it. I don't know. But I do know that the promises of God are sure, and in that I can find rest.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Sometimes I get little reminders of just how fragile life is. It stirs up so many conflicting emotions: at polar ends of the spectrum are fear and gratitude. Fear for all the what-ifs that swirl through my mind like a blizzard, and a deep sense of thankfulness for the precious lives we've been given. It is my children that I feel this most often with. It begun when I was only about 9 weeks pregnant with Peregrine. I was having some spotting and spoke with a midwife about it. I left her office in tears, certain that my child, not yet known but already loved, was going to pass into the arms of Jesus and skip mine altogether. I realized at that point that each day I had with him was a gift from God. Though he was given to me to carry all those months and now to love and teach and nurture, in a sense he is really no more mine than the birds of the air. At that point God gave me peace, and I realized that life is a gift from Him and it is in His hands.
As Peregrine has grown, he has had a few injuries. None of them have been "major", but to a Mama, any hurt that my boy experiences is painful. Just last night he came running out from his room, screaming. I picked him up and was horrified to see blood coming out of his mouth. After a minute we figured out that he had had a metal tube in his mouth and had run into the wall, causing the end of the tube to gouge the roof of his mouth. All at once I felt immense relief and thankfulness that he was okay, while at the same time all of those thoughts tumbled in to my mind, like "What if that had been his eye?
I have experienced this with Erik too. After having cancer three years ago, we are both a little more nervous about things that don't seem "quite right". A few times he has gone in to his specialist, but not before several days of me tossing wildly between peace and all of the other thoughts that go through my mind- like thinking he's going to die, and wondering how I will manage to raise my children on my own. Getting a good report from the doctor is always such a huge relief, realizing again that life is given to us by the moment and that the ones we love are only on loan from our Father. I am always so thankful for my husband, but going through these times makes me realize all the more just how wonderful it is to get to share my life with him.
Alethea seems to bring up different thoughts and feelings, along the same lines, but somehow more intense because she's so tiny, so vulnerable, so feminine. She is completely unable to do anything for herself. We thank the Lord that she has never been injured and has hardly even been sick. But how quickly my mind whirls off into the land of "what-ifs" and I need to be brought back to the reality of today and the grace that we are given moment by moment.
And that's really the part that I need to remember, that yes, life is a gift from God: every moment of every day with the ones we love is a precious gift from His hand. There is no guarantee of how long we will have them in this life, but He has promised to always be with us, to be a very present help in time of need, and to dispense His grace upon us moment by moment, in keeping with our need. His faithfulness is great and His mercies are new every morning. I need to take my fears to Jesus and exchange them for His peace, turn my worries into prayers, and let Him fill my heart with gratitude and grace.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Four years ago today Erik and I committed to spend the rest of our lives loving one another. Although it feels like we're just getting started, a lot has happened in this time: We've moved twice, had two children, Erik has undergone surgery and radiation treatment for cancer, we've travelled to Canada and to Europe, and Erik has changed jobs. I think that a few of those qualify for some of the most stressful things that people can go through. There have been moments of stress, but the years have been marked with peace and joy and the blessing of the Lord. I can't imagine not sharing my life with Erik; he challenges and encourages me, he makes me laugh and he completes me. God certainly knew what He was doing when He brought us together. (Duh!) What a joy and blessing to be "heirs together of the grace of life".
Monday, January 09, 2006
Several months ago I met someone who has inspired me, perhaps more than anyone else, to be the kind of woman that God wants me to be. Spending time with her has made me examine who I am in the light of who I want to be. I fall terribly short, but I am encouraged to grow in grace and in the kind of beauty that the women of old clothed themselves with. (That is, a gentle and quiet spirit.) I want to put on love and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life. I want to be a better wife, treating my husband with honor and respect, greeting him with joy and laughter. I want to be a better Mama; patient, wise, and kind. Being with her makes me want to be more feminine, in my manner of speech, my actions, and the way I dress.
The one who has brought such lofty aspirations to the forefront of my mind doesn't inspire me by her example, but by her potential. She is my own little daughter, Alethea Poppy Joy, only nine months along in her life. She is full of curiosity, energy, and smiles. When I look at her and think about the kind of woman I want to raise her to be, I realize that I need to embody the qualities I hope to teach her. Elizabeth Prentice said "My children, my darling precious children. What I want them to become, I must become myself." While I know this to be true with my son as well, I feel it in a different way with Alethea. She will learn more from my example than from my words.
Everywhere I look I see women. The ones that get the attention tend to be the high powered, go-get-'em, independent, attractive ones. They are not admired for their character; in many of them I think you'd be hard pressed to find anything admirable there. The world would shape my daughter, starting at a very young age, into the very opposite thing than what I desire for her. Little girls soon become enamored of the "Disney Princess" and are force-fed the dream of being pretty, getting their way, getting their Prince, and living happily ever after. They sport it on shirts that say things like "Spoiled Rotten" and "It's all about me" and a few years down the road the slogans change to things like "Go ahead, ask me out" and "Your boyfriend wants me." Since when is self-absorption a trait that needs to be encouraged?
If I'm going to counter the messages that the world is sending my daughter, I need to be aware of what they are and be very intentional about setting in front of her a higher goal. I need to show her what it means to be a woman of character, a woman of God. As followers of Christ we are citizens of a different Kingdom, and we are called out from this world. Our goals, our actions, our dress, should be dictated by our love for Christ.
I want to raise a daughter who will become a strong woman; strong enough to withstand the pressure of society, confident in her identity as a daughter of the King. I hope that she will have a gentle and quiet manner, that she will be full of joy and love, and that she will extend her hand to the poor and needy. Words like prudence, chastity, and meekness are mocked as old-fashioned and unliberated, but let them be said of her. I pray that she will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and that her standard will be none other than Christ Himself. May she be clothed in humility and grace, her life spent not on vain temporal pursuits, but in service of God and others. May her beauty radiate from the life of Christ within her.
These are lofty goals. I write them in prayer; both for Alethea and for myself. I am not the woman I have described above, not the woman I hope that she will be someday. But what I want her to become I must become myself. As the Apostle Paul wrote "Not that I have already attained, or that I am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me." This is the hope of my life, that I may become the woman God has made me to be, the wife, the mother, the friend. That I may be transformed into the image of Christ, and as I love those around me, as He loves through me, that they may be transformed as well. Alethea is my inspiration, but Jesus is my only hope.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Of all the gifts that any of us got this Christmas, I think our favorite is one that was given to Peregrine by his Nana and Papa. There's a lot that I could say about it- it's simple, inexpensive, doesn't require batteries, and is great for all ages. It's educational and he can enjoy it alone or with others. There's no possible way for him to be possessive about it and Alethea can't choke on it. (Big bonus there!) It's a gift that changes all the time, has elements of suspense and drama, and will be still be good a long time from now.
Have you guessed yet? It's s bird feeder! Just a simple wire basket with a block of suet that fits inside. We hung it up outside the dining room window and have been having so much fun watching our feathered friends come and go. It took them a few days to find it but since then we've had a steady stream of visitors flocking around to get their treats. Peregrine exclaimed with great excitement a few mornings ago "Mama! Some birds have discovered our feeder!" We talk about the different colors and sizes and are trying to learn the names of some of them. I'm pretty ignorant about birds so am happily learning right along with him. There was a beautiful pair of larger birds a few days ago; we took pictures and when Erik got home he identified them for us as Flicker Woodpeckers. Now Peregrine talks about "the Flickers" like they're his long lost friends. I told him how glad the birds were to get some food in this cold weather and he yelled "You're welcome" in their general direction.
And I think that's one of my favorite things about this gift: it's not just for Peregrine. It may be a small thing, but he's seeing that there is joy in giving to others and in considering the needs of someone other than himself. He's delighted to see the birds visiting his feeder and takes pleasure in watching the flurry of wings surrounding it. He's pleased that they are happy to find their food. I pray that this will grow in him, and in me, and that we will truly learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Our plans to homeschool our kids have leaked and Erik is already getting flak about it at work. We're still a few years away from "school" but there's no question of sending our kids off to be educated by other people. One of the biggest "concerns" that people seem to have is that our poor children won't be socialized or that they will end up as misfits, sticking out in society like sore thumbs. I see this as slightly humorous, since that's actually part of the reason we want to teach them at home. Somehow I don't think that putting my kids in a room with twenty or thirty other immature selfish children and one or two adults is the sort of social environment that will do them any good. And as far as them being misfits? I don't really see that as a bad thing. As I sat at a red light today I watched a group of high school students walk across the street. The girls seem to be wearing less clothing all the time, even though it's January, and of course the boys can't keep their hands off them. That is, the boys who don't have headphones on. Great social skills. If the lack of customer service and general unfriendliness at stores is any indication of how kids learn to relate to people, then I think my kids stand a decent chance of faring as well at home. Maybe even better.
If not fitting in to society means that my girls will dress modestly and learn to conduct themselves accordingly, then so be it. If my boys never become doctors or lawyers, but only God-loving, hard working family men, then we will have succeeded. Along with the three R's I hope and pray that my children will learn respect, responsibility, and charity. I will teach them to sew and cook and garden and keep a home. Erik will teach them to build and fix. If they never quite feel like they belong in this world, then thanks be to God. So I'm prepared to take some flak for our decision to teach our kids at home: we need more sore thumbs around here.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
"Old" is such a matter of perspective. When I was little I thought that my grandparents seemed really old, but not my parents. Now that my parents are the age that my grandparents were then, my perception of old is quite different. And as I keep getting older, I have begun to think that old is more a state of mind than an age. Some older people seem young because they are still living life to whatever extent they can; others seem like they've resigned themselves to death.
I turned 30 this last year, and I keep wondering when I'm supposed to feel "grown up". I'm not sure what I thought it was supposed to feel like, but I haven't quite gotten there yet. Sure, I'm married and a Mama to two children, but some days I feel like I'm just playing house. I still make meals, but now they're real; the babies I dress and feed are real live wiggling, laughing, playing children. Maybe I feel young because I play toddler games and read stories all the time, because my constant companions are only three and nine months old. Then again, Three is old enough to say things like "Mom, I need to pull all the white hairs out of your head!" Umm, no, that would take way too long and it would hurt Mama. Are all my grey hairs really that noticeable? Three also said to Erik the other day "Daddy, you have so many lines on your forehead." That's my boy, always the one to notice if something isn't quite the way he thinks it should be.
Hopefully, along with the white hairs, I'm gaining some wisdom as the years go by. My Dad loves to quote that verse about a grey head being a crown of wisdom, and I think I'll hold on to that one too. Some day I'll have long white braids to wrap up around my head like a crown, and I'll weave daisies into them. And that grown up feeling? I hope it never comes.