A Mommies Devotional

(I wrote this for my friend’s (third baby) baby shower and thought it might be encouraging to someone else too. I was encouraged to think through these this and get into my Bible even if in the end a lot of the Bible didn’t get into this devotional! :P)

A woman was writing on her blog about the last several years of refining fire in her life…that is, motherhood… and I thought, “oh, isn’t that the truth!” Refining fire, motherhood, yup!  But then I got to thinking about worship sessions where we sing the song “refiner’s fire” – the condensed lyrics are:

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy

Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
Ready to do Your will

We want to be cleansed from our sin and set apart for the Lord. We want to be holy. We want to be as precious as gold.

But when I sing that song I’m thinking of something exciting…the mission field, the hard hearts of my un-churched friends, my neighbors. Something new, something exciting, and something that makes a difference today. Yea!

What I’m not thinking of is another poopy diaper, my toddler wailing because he wanted yogurt, NOT applesauce or the baby waking me up all through the night. I’m certainly not thinking of yet another day at home with my children, dinner to plan, laundry to do or the pile of dishes that’s never quite finished.

And yet, if we’re seeking a life that will be transformed into the image of Christ, it is exactly our life as mothers that will achieve our transformation. God is blessing you with another child who will enrich your life with moments of great joy…and moments of great frustration…and pretty much every emotion in between. And as you seek to raise that child in the Lord the Lord will be refining you. I was reading a devotional that said, “as your child clings to your legs you will be clinging to the Lord’s legs” and thought that was a great picture of how mothering works. From that same devotional (Blessed is the Mother who Clings” by Mary E. Hamrick) I thought she did a great job illustrating how as we follow the Lord and are refined by him our children come along and learn from us. She says,

“Blessed is the child whose mom’s delight is in the law of the Lord”, for the child will learn to enjoy reading and studying God’s Word.

“Blessed is the child whose mom puts her trust in the Lord”, for the child will learn that the Lord is trustworthy and faithful.

“Blessed is the child whose mom’s sins are forgiven”, for he will learn about God’s grace and mercy. 

“Blessed is the child whose mom’s steps are ordered by the Lord”, for the child will learn to yield their life and direction to the Lord’s guidance. 

“Blessed is the child whose mom perseveres”, for the child will learn to press on through tough situations and lessons, never giving up.

As you add another life to your family there will be beautiful moments and hard moments both, but my encouragement to you, when you are in the trenches of daily life with three children, is that God is working in your life – in each circumstance, each diaper, each smiling child and each child that is driving you crazy. God is using it all to transform you into the image of His Son.

Your children truly will grow up and be blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) to have you as their mother because you are blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) to have God as your Refiner.

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Thinking About My Past Life

I was standing at our deep freezer yesterday several months ago repackaging my discounted meat finds and thinking about my past life. Past life you say? Yes…that life I lived 15-20 years ago. The life I had in high school and the first part of my 20’s. I think we all have a past life. For pre-teens it is childhood. For teenagers it is the pre-teen & childhood years. And after high school it’s pretty much whatever season of life you look back on and reminisce (for better or worse) about.

Now why, you may ask, did freezing meat trigger a long and thoughtful reminiscing session? Well I’ll tell you. I was standing in my kitchen, which at most times is a lovely and inviting space. The counters are usually clear of dishes and wiped down, the pots and pans are all put away and nicely displayed. The food is in the fridge and all is as it should be. Not so that day! I had the fruits and veggies from my shopping trip four days prior (!) still sitting in the grocery bags on the floor. Every inch of counter space was covered in dirty dishes, some actively growing new mold. The pots and pans shelving unit was an unorganized and overflowing disaster. And I’m standing there freezing meats so that I can fit the produce in the fridge…the meats I should have frozen four days ago.

Messy stove area.

And what got me about it all was that it was ok. No, it’s wasn’t ok to have such a disastrous mess on my hands. But I was ok emotionally with the mess. At this point in life I can look at the mess and see it as a project to complete, a task to accomplish and get working on accomplishing it. Not so in my past life.

In my past life I would have looked at the mess and seen it as yet another proof that I was a wretched person who didn’t deserve anything anything in life, including life. I would have never gotten started cleaning it until I knew I could clean the entire mess, rearrange the pots & pans shelf, put all the groceries away and probably clean the fridge out in the process. But unless you have no other responsibilities that’s a pretty unattainable goal…thus circling back to the idea that my life is not of any value. I would say to myself, “You are so worthless! You can’t even keep your kitchen clean. Why are you even alive. You can’t do anything right, why do you even try.” And on and on and on. And the sad thing was I believed it. And those thoughts touched every single piece of my life. I was paralyzed from making decisions because I knew I’d just fail at them. I tried controlling as much as I could in my life because maybe those things could prove I had some value. But trying to control things is like trying to hold on to sand…not going to happen.

So standing at my freezer, kitchen a mess, produce on the floor, pots and pans scattered, I thought about all this. And I breathed a prayer of thanks that my life is not that life anymore. I am still tempted to think that way. If I’m really tired and hungry it sometimes comes out. But overall I know the truth and believe it with all my being. My messy kitchen (messy house, failure as a gardener, etc…) does not mean that I am a failure at life. It means there is still room for growth – and that’s ok. I can stand in my kitchen and break the tasks into smaller achievable chunks and then get to work on the first task. I can think about how next time I can do something different to not let it get so out of hand. I can be thankful I have a home to live in, food to eat and dishes to wash. I can live a normal life and not fight myself at every turn. I can desire to live.

I used to think my past life was unique. Certainly I must be the only one who knew they should never have been born because they were obviously such a failure at everything they touched (and I chuckle as I write that, even feeling the scar of those years). But it wasn’t unique. It’s actually a pretty common thread I’ve heard since the Lord helped me find healing. It’s something a lot of people keep inside. I don’t think I ever spoke such negative words outloud except when complimented. The compliment could never be accepted and I would try to argue against it.  And I know now that is SUCH an annoying response! But I didn’t know that then. I believed the compliment was a lie said to make me feel better about being worthless. Crazy, huh!

The words of Psalm 139 were a piece of my truth journey. Here is part of the Psalm…

You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.

Our lives are spent balancing who we were in the past with who we hope to be. I love the quote that says “Far from what I once was but not yet what I’m going to be.” So now my messy kitchen just means the kitchen is a mess, nothing more and nothing less. I can hope that in the future I learn the secret of keeping it clean and will work toward that. In the meantime I smile and breathe a prayer of thanks for the life I have today.

The stove is cleared!

Thoughts on What is Really Important

I read quite a few blogs each day but few have touched me as this one did. A family is visiting their sponsored child and other children who are sponsored. They visited a family in a “mud walled, thatched roofed home” where the father had come to know Jesus through physical healing of paralysis through a fall at work, though the full healing took a year. Asking the family what challenges they faced brought to light the fact that the roof leaked because it is thatch.The two children have big dreams of becoming a bank manager & computer engineer even though their current life is surrounded by poverty.

Now we just purchased a home and the roof, though old, doesn’t leak. Nor do any other parts of the home. My husband, though injured, is still able to work some. My children, though they may not attend the “best” schools in the country when they are older will likely be able to join whatever trade they desire without having to also overcome abject poverty.

If I were the family in the story and asked what my prayer request was my response would be: a) new roof b) food each day c) good schooling for my children and so on along these lines.

Well this family was asked what their prayer request was. Here’s the summary from the blog: We asked the father what we could pray for. He, without hesitation said, “Spiritual growth. We must grow in our relationship with Jesus. After that, God will take care of the rest of things like the roof and other needs.

Ouch! Oy. Sigh. How is it that the poor father in a struggling third world country can come up with the better answer without hesitation? Why am I, the child of this first world country, in the face of certain hardship, focused first on the worldly things, not on the spiritual? Why do I spend more time wondering how to make ends meet than cultivating a deeper relationship with the One who will meet those needs? Why are all my prayer requests for tangible things rather than the intangible?

Even as I write this I discover that a necessary bill we would now be struggling to pay will be three times as much this month. So how shall I respond? Should I throw my hands up in despair? Shall I just worry myself into the ground? Or should I say, with that father, “pray that I will grow in my relationship with Jesus?” Well, I think it’s obvious there is a right answer here. But for me, not an easy one.

Here’s the link to the original post: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World from JonesBones5

An Assortment

I like the idea of having some guidelines around keeping the house clean. Eventually I’d like to have a household binder where my favorite cleaning guidelines & tips are kept. Right now though I want to put a few of these ideas into action and get them to be habits instead of nice ideas.

10 Rules & 10 Tips for the Kitchen @ Time Warp Wife – this has been revolutionizing my kitchen work. The idea of doing dishes every time there are at least 10 and the idea of filling the sink while cooking – why didn’t I think of that!

3 Steps to Ease Your Way into Truly Natural Personal Products @ Simple Organic

There are few large issues that move me as much as human slavery. Portland was a hub for this; now the I-75 corridor running from Florida to Michigan. No matter where you live, someone is being sold against their will. National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11th

I am thankful to have a good marriage but I know many who are struggling. This article speaks volumes I think.You Never Marry the Right Person @ Relevant Magazine

And a fun one: this shows how data can be manipulated to serve the interests of whoever holds the data. I first saw something like this in my statistics class in college and it’s been in the back of my mind since. Also fun for a chuckle. Correlation or Causation @ Bloomberg Businessweek

Most years I am eager for the new year to arrive so I can decide which goals I want to set. For whatever reason, this year I have no desire to set any goals. Maybe the daily goal of unpacking the house and preparing for the baby are enough. 🙂 But when I read this blog about setting goals a month at a time something clicked. I feel like I have enough wiggle room to set a monthly goal, or even to set one goal, get that into practice for several weeks, then think about another. We’ll see how it goes! Rethinking Resolutions: Setting Goals One Month at a Time @ Frugal Living NW

There’s been lots of talk about SOPA but I find I really don’t know what it is. Thought this was a good explanation link. What is SOPA, and How Will It Affect You? @ Wise Bread

Returning to Life

After an extended hiatus I am ready to return to this little blog. It was March when I last posted, and oh my, the changes in our life since then! Here is is the highlight reel:

  • Moved across the country.
  • Lived in transitional housing shared w/my parents (w/transitional possessions, and a toddler) for six months.
  • Expecting our second child in six weeks.
  • Purchased a home.

I think those events separately would be plenty, one at a time, each year. Put all together is an interesting, challenging, depressing, exciting roller coaster of the past nine months.

Our new home base is very different from our old. Overall we don’t like the change but feel it was the right decision in the long run. I won’t go into that more, but anyone who has left the Pacific Northwest (or anywhere they loved) will know how we feel. No matter how nice the change is, if you loved what came first the change is hard.

Now that we are mostly unpacked and getting settled again I am finding myself wanting to revisit my original passions – homemaking, natural things, finances and really whatever else strikes my fancy. With the new baby coming soon I may not post a lot, but I’ll be updating a bit from time to time until we get settled in our new routines.

Finds around the blog-o-sphere, 3-11-11

Live Coverage of Japan Earthquake @ Reuters: for up to date coverage, articles, video and photos

Seven Layer Casserole @ Mennonite Girls Can Cook: this looks yummy, and though I’m not a fan of tomato soup I think I’ll give it a try.

Depression Isn’t a Bad Word @ Beautiful Calling: It is a rare (unheard of?) person who can make it through this life without battling dark clouds at some point. I find it comforting to read others experiences and try to tuck an idea away or two for the next time the clouds return to my life.

How to Adapt a Recipe to Make it Healthier @ Heavenly Homemakers: This is fascinating! I have quite a bit of coconut oil in my cupboard and wish to use it. Happy for these ideas!

Buying Books on a Budget @ Thrifty NW Mom: So I’m not really interested in buying books, but I am interested in selling lots of them! I think I could reverse the idea and sell instead of buy.

Make a Difference With Your Savings @ Frugal Living NW: Giving is a huge part of healthy finances. This sounds like a good place to give.

Finding Hope @ JonesBones5: Some of the blogs I read are personal blogs from out there in the world. The lady that writes this blog is in Africa right now.

Nourishment to the Soul @ Time-Warp Wife: Today she is talking about submission to our husbands in a godly way. I find encouragement in that.

Make the Goal the Process, Not the Results @ The Simple Dollar: Trent says, “I succeed at goals where the goal itself is a process toward some further end. I fail when the goal is merely that further end.”

The 50-30-20 Budget @ MSN Money: Now, I categorically disagree with their categories. 😀 But I agree with the idea and think the little mini-tool is great. Dealing with finances in terms of percentage is growing on me as one of the best ways to look at things. They offer the categories as 50% of your income for needs, 30% of your income for wants and 20% of your income for savings. 30% for wants! Wow! Oh the things I could buy if I spent 30% (or even 2%) of my income on wants! These categories do not include giving which is very important. If I could I would keep their percentages and just change the “what for’s”- 50% for living off of, 30% savings, 20% giving. Or 20% savings and 30% giving.

Saving vs Debt Reduction @ Get Rich Slowly: This is one of their ask-the-reader features.

22 Ways to Fight Rising Food Prices @ MSNBC: Beyond Budgeting posted this on their facebook page; I love looking at ways to save more money in my grocery budget!