Dear Mom, is it, that somedays your job seems insignificant? Somedays do you question your journey? Do you wonder if any of it matters? Let me tell you mama; it matters. It all matters. You are significant and what you are doing; THIS IS SIGNIFICANT.
“The enemy wants to convince you to leave your assignment because it is insignificant.” I recently heard such a statement and I took pause. You see I had begun to believe the lie that the mundane tasks of motherhood weren’t as important as I had once believed. I started to feel envious of those that were adventuring overseas, adopting another child, fostering and diving in to full-time ministry.
What I forgot was that I had been given an assignment to make disciples, just like my friends that were jetting off to foreign lands, gaining university degrees to serve the least of these, and opening their homes to orphans and widows. And then I heard someone say, “Plan to do something so big for God that without Him you would fail.” I was feeling defeated, but I had lost my focus.
Being a mom; this is a big gig and this was what I had always wanted. What I didn’t know, was how big this was going to be. I had prayed for blessing, for a miracle and now here I was in the pouring rain of “blessing,” but instead of dancing in the rain, I was running from it. The enemy had tried to convince me that I was just a mom; that what I was doing wasn’t really making a difference. My patience was thin. Most jobs around our house came with dread and frustration.
So my friends, if you are like me, feeling like maybe your call to motherhood is less than significant. Let me tell you, that is a lie! We aren’t only parenting we are discipling, and we have been called, “for such a time as this.” It is time for us to stop running from the rain and start dancing in it, so we can launch these little world changers off into the great unknown. Heidi St. John says this, in her new Becoming MomStrong; “We need to surrender ourselves to what God wants us to do. We need to be willing to do what He says is best, not what our flesh wants or what the world says we should do… My greatest accomplishment as a mom may not be something I do-but someone I raise.”
In her book, Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith Heidi St. John says, “The journey we are on is designed to help us trust God in ways we don’t expect and can’t foresee.” There are times on this journey where we will feel less than. The pull is real. It’s not until we are in the moments of complete surrender deep in the trenches of motherhood, that we can see that “God’s purpose is good.” Perhaps our biggest calling is motherhood, and without the Lord I know I would fail at it most everyday.
I just finished watching Minimalism. If you haven’t seen it on Netflix, I would recommend that you check it out. There are so many areas in our lives it seems, that we live with excess. So I’ve cleaned my closet, we’ve donated toys and clothes and I’ve hauled bags of garbage out of our space.
Over the holidays I made the announcement for everyone to brace themselves, because we were getting our eating habits back on track. I thought I would hear moans and groans, but instead I heard whoops and hollers. You see, we had been down this road before. We all know the many benefits to eating better.
So with the cupboard purged and meals planned, I started re-reading 7, by Jen Hatmaker. Jen “felt trapped in a machine of excess.” so she, along with some friends and her family decided to give up seven areas of excess in their lives. Over the course of seven months, she gave up things like food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste and stress. It seemed that what Jen was saying touched my heart and I’ve felt compelled to try this same experiment. So I presented the concept to my husband and the kids. “How would you guys feel if we fasted from some specific foods for a few weeks?” I asked. At this point the whole gang is onboard.
Jen reduced her diet down to 7 items for the month. They included: whole wheat bread, avocados, spinach, eggs, chicken breasts, sweet potatoes and apples. Because of such a restrictive diet Jen’s kids weren’t part of this experiment. I want to be able to embrace this culture of living with less with our kids and so our diet will be much less restrictive.
We have decided to give up sugar and processed food for one month. This means no sweetened yogurt, no fruit juices, no desserts of any sort, no sugary drinks. We won’t eat any chips, fried food or pre-packaged snacks. For one month, we will say no to the food that is excessive. We’ll say, no thank you, to food that doesn’t nourish our bodies. As I’ve read 7, and watched the Minimalist, I’ve realized that there are so many areas in our life that are out of control, but by taking small steps towards a much larger problem, we will slowly be able to transform our bodies, our minds and our souls.
As we go through this month of fasting or living without some of the excess I will blog about it. I’m going to let you know about the highs and lows. I’ll keep you posted about how my kids are doing and what we learn along the way. I’d also love it if some of you chose to come along. Message me here or on FB to let me know if you want to be part of this experiment.
Some of you may think I’m crazy, to even try such an experiment. But I want to be a good crazy, a content crazy. I want my kids to stop asking for more, in order to find the next great thing. I want my focus to be on people and relationships, not on where we are going for dinner. So we’ll begin here. After a few posts on eating whole foods, I feel like our diet is a good place to start.
As in previous days, I have included the link to 2 of the books I am working through right now.
It was on our hearts to add to our family through adoption. I believed that the calling was scriptural and part of God’s plan for our lives. I would tell people that the heart of our Father is adoption and we wanted to live that out. It has been in the last month, a difficult month, that I have begun to grasp spiritual adoption. I don’t think I was able to understand the heart of adoption until I experienced it first hand. Now that I am in the trenches, I can say our reason for adopting is different now, than when we started.
It had been a pleasant morning. Nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone had been fed breakfast and we were beginning the process of getting set for the day. Beds were being made, hair and teeth were being brushed and everything was normal, even the piece of railroad track that came sailing across the kitchen was normal. I calmly asked the little man to please pick up his toys and he screamed, “NOOOO.” I took him by the hand and walked him to the piece of train track and asked him to pick it up. Instead of picking it up he hit me. We left the toy on the floor and went to sit together in time-out.
Most times he is happy to take a time out, and quickly says sorry, goes and picks up his toy and our day can resume. However, this wouldn’t be the case on this day. Instead he threw himself into the wall and proceeded to kick at me. When I sat beside him, and calmly told him that I would stay with him until we figured out how to touch and talk kindly again, he again yelled at me and tried to bite me as this was all he had left. I was holding his hands in his lap and his toes were tucked between my legs. “What is wrong?” I asked him as I pulled him into my arms. I single tear rolled down my cheek and my heart broke into pieces. I felt as though I had done nothing to deserve this treatment and yet I had become his punching bag…literally! There was this very real emotion flowing out of this little boy and there was nothing I could do but hold him. He continued to thrash and struggle in my arms, and I rocked and sang to him as I could see small glimpses of hurt, anger and frustration, brim to the surface of our wee man.
It was in that moment that I had a clear picture of what our adoption into God’s family looks like. I realized in that moment that adoption is costly. Adoption has had more than a financial cost, there is an emotional, physical and time cost. For God to adopt us into his family, there was also cost. He offered his son, Jesus Christ as that sacrifice. Romans 5:6-8 (NIV), “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
As I am reminded of this gift of eternal life, that I did nothing to deserve, I see myself in the arms of our Father, kicking and screaming, completely undone and irrational because I don’t like the situation that God has put me in. Sometimes I’m questioning if his plans for my life really are best? In that moment, I hold my adopted son that much more tightly and ask for forgiveness from my Father, because I know, in a sense I have behaved like this wee one in my arms, towards a Heavenly Father that has adopted me into his family. He has paid the ultimate price to have me spend eternity with him, and yet some days I lash out and choose to walk a path separated from God. I get angry and frustrated that God redirects my plans and sometimes I just really want things to work out my way and when they don’t, I kick and scream.
My heart grieves. I have invested so much time, energy and patience into this little life and this is the response I get. It stings. And then again I am faced with the reminder of the way my life stings the heart of my Father. He has been there for me; investing time, energy and patience and I still flail around like a raving lunatic sometimes.
Galatians 4:4-5,7 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption of sons, (and daughters). So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” We come to the foot of the cross with nothing. There is no part of us that is righteous or worthy of being a child of God, but if we accept the gift of his son Jesus Christ then we are welcomed into God’s family. We don’t have to do anything! He loves us, even when we kick and scream.
Our little boy came with nothing. There was nothing he could have done or should have done for us to love him. Our adoption has been beautiful, amazing, hard and challenging and yet there is this unending amount of love that flows out of my heart for him. It is in the moments of anger, and grief, and in the moments that he pushes me away, that I love him harder and more compassionately. I feel sad, because I know that I can’t force him to love me back, but I can let him know that I am a safe place for him to fall. I desire for him to know how loved he is by us, but more than that, I desire for him to know just how much God loves him and wants him to be part of His family.
I don’t think I will ever fully grasp just how wide and deep the Father’s love is for me, but there have been beautiful moments over the last few months where I catch a small glimpse of His unconditional love.
Recital season is upon us and for a family with three daughters that have all decided to dance, I suspect our recital season only getting busier over the next few years. I often hoped to have a daughter that loved the stage. And now here I sit, after spending a week at the auditorium, thinking about what dance has meant for our girls.
When she was just a wee sprite of two years old she started her first creative moment and tap class one day a week, not because she talked of dancing but because I thought it was just so cute to have her all dolled up in tights and tutus. Lo and behold she loved it. It seemed that she would listen attentively to the teacher and “practice” her dance moves most days in the living room.
She learned how to point and flex her feet and make somewhat organized tapping sounds with her toes. She has never pushed to be in the spotlight but she has consistently proven to us her love of dance year after year. The stage has been her happy place and she always loved getting hair done tightly into braids and buns.
Her love of dance led her two younger sisters to the dance studio. They would press their little faces up to the glass window and watch the older girls work on routines while their big sister rocked and rolled and hitchie – cooed her way across the dance floor in the classroom next door.
We are eight years in, and we have seen our eldest grow into a beautiful young lady and when she takes to the floor, my heart bursts with pride.
The next in line has gained so much confidence this year and she beamed as she kicked off her year end recital with an amazing tap performance.
Our youngest made her debut this year in the “big kid” recital, as she fondly calls it. She had nothing but excitement to be dancing on the same stage in the same recital as her big sisters.
The reality is that I never forced them to love dance, they grew to love it. What we have forced them to do, is work at it with all their heart. It has always been our focus, as a family, that if you commit to something, you work at it. If you aren’t willing to work at, or you think you are “good enough” you need to step aside and let those that have more determination have a shot. Our
girls kids may not be front and centre in every performance, but they have grown and improved with each year.
You see, more than anything I have seen how dance has shaped their character, or perhaps allowed their character to grow. Our oldest has taken her practice very seriously and for that I am thankful. I love seeing her diligence and work ethic pay off in her exams and performances.
Our middlest is fierce and very competitive. She is focused and determined to improve her skills so she might have a chance to be on the company team some day.
The littlest dancer loves the spotlight at home and beams from ear to ear as she poses and skips across the stage. I’m not certain if she will choose dance like her sisters have, but for now it is our hope that she develops character traits that make her a good friend, and a joyful and attentive student.
I have been singing the Leann Womack song, ” I HOPE YOU DANCE” all week. It is a song, I wish for all of my kids. I guess I feel that dance has given all three girls a launching point to do what’s not always easy. It is my prayer, that each one of them will always choose to take risks and never, ever give up on their dreams; that they will live with abundant faith and that they will dance their way thru life and not sit on the sidelines watching others enjoy the ride.
I have a coffee mug that reminds me of friendship that I hold onto tightly. It reminds me of some funny moments around campfires. It reminds me of late night dips in the pool. It reminds me of scrubbing kitchen floors on our hands and knees. It reminds me of a quick little vacation to the states every once in awhile. It reminds me of meals being delivered to my door when I brought our babies home. But more than that it reminds me of conversations that I have had with my friends, that can go from laughter to tears in the blink of an eye. It reminds me of sitting knee to knee in my living room praying for spiritual, physical and emotional healing. It reminds me of the effort that has to happened to make a friendship work. I have learned so much in the last year and am still learning to take time really getting to know people.
I keep coming back to the life of Joseph as I often do, when I face trials in my life. You see Joseph had people, because he was born into a family that cared for him and watched over him, and then they sold him. They sent him into a life of suffering and loneliness. Joseph had people around him but they weren’t his people. And then 20 or so years later, when Joseph meets up with his family again, he tells them not to worry that God sent him ahead so that his people could be cared for! Oh my, is that really how I would have responded to people that had sold me into slavery? Not only that, but he tells them to go and get their families and come back, and that he would take care of them. This, does not make sense in our culture. But the reality is that we all are definitely imperfect and people are going to hurt us.
I’ve begun to see and to learn that we need to choose our people, and allow them to choose us and then run an imperfect race with them all. Our people need to know that we won’t give up on them. Sometimes we will let them down and sometimes they will let us down, but we need to give each other a break, extend grace and keep running.
I have felt the tug this year to intentionally pursue my friendships and relationships. The thing though, with friendship, is I’m not ready to spend time on small talk anymore. I want to have conversations, that expose truth, hurt and joy. I want to go deep and learn about what really makes people tick and in so doing, learn more about myself. I want to be vulnerable and allow God to use me, and my relationships for growth.
In the past I set standards of what it would take to be in my life and the reality is I may have been missing out on great relationships because of this standard. I need to evaluate who needs me in their life and also who I need in mine. Nothing is boring and nothing is simple, but I need to stop separating myself from imperfect people, because I am one of them.
Who is willing to get messy, live with grace and surround yourself with imperfect people? We are all imperfect. I think that our aches, wounds and suffering were meant for other people’s healing. I’d like to challenge you to move past small talk, roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Every soul you look at is made in the image of God, so let’s search our hearts together, because as we give, we grow.