So, the past two days and last night have been a mix of the good, the hard, the beauty, and the ugly of parenting. We have ranged from excitement over paying a significant amount of debt off and getting to buy us all some new shoes to the frustration with kiddos who need constant discipling with every store we visit (and the frustration with ourselves, who feel like after 10 1/2 years we should possibly be doing this better). We have enjoyed the beauty of the snow, our cozy home, and the smiles of our “fabulous five,” and we have battled and walked through the ugly of sinful hearts, sinful attitudes, sinful actions (both by children and parents) and a restless, mysterious baby girl who is uncomfortable and possibly achey, though we can’t pinpoint the source. We have made meals, cleaned up after meals, made memories, cleaned up after mistakes. Specifically, we have broken pizza stones, cleaned up puppy accidents, battled it out with a strong-willed, sometimes just flat out rude, 4 year old, played in the snow, made hot chocolate , started crafts, left crafts undone, sat in the bathroom with the hot shower on so Baby Girl can get the benefits of a “steam,” talked about our actions as parents and the actions of those we parent, discussed Jesus and His life and Jesus and our life, loved on each other, consoled each other, corrected each other, taught each other…
Yes days have been full, but recently…they have felt less than…ideal.
I didn’t really come into marriage and parenthood with “ideals.” Mainly because I had planned on being a single missionary and that path was where my ideals laid. So, I didn’t have a clue as to how to love another human being..my husband…my children…anyone…I was truly so selfish! I had plans for just me and God and that was the extent of my little world. I rarely looked up to see others; I had never been one to sit and dream up ideas of how I could bless others. No, it was really just all about me being alone with God. (Yeah, I think I can see how delaying foreign missionary work was a good idea on God’s part.) What I cringe about now is that so much of that selfishness is still so much a part of me. Almost 18 years of Christianity, 11 years of marriage, 10 years of parenthood, and 7 1/2 years of ministering here, and my world is still relatively small. My dreams are larger than my realities; my ideals are still in books and movies and intentions. I have completed very little (my laundry piles and bathrooms would attest), though I have intended much. I have many passions and interests but most of them lay waiting for me like that stack of started crafts on my kitchen table. This is not the woman I wanted to be…
When I was in 11th grade and went to the Ukraine to pass out Bibles and fellowship with local Believers, I felt I was walking in the path of my passion. I was actually doing something; I had dreamed of this and was living it. I have told Nathan how, recently, I have been mourning what I did not have…like dreams and ideals for marriage and parenthood. I had plans for just me and God but not me and God and others. Thankfully, “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the LORD directs His steps.” He knew my heart and desires, and He knew what was needed to eventually get me there.
I have a friend who started a new Writing curriculum with her son and daughter. They are not in the same grade, the girl a bit older, but she started them on the same book because she knew they both needed a firm foundation before they could carry on at different levels. It may start out boring for the girl, and she may surpass her brother in future books, but this starting with the “little” (even if it is a review for her) will only serve to strengthen the “more” that’s ahead. I guess I kind of see God doing that in me; though, I hate it’s taken me so long to get it. I wish that for 18 years I wasn’t still on “spiritual milk” with some of this stuff; I hate to think what I’ve forfeited for the glory of His Kingdom and Name because of my lack of trust and faith and action. I have shed tears over this reality in the past two weeks. BUT, I have this husband who is very intent upon not letting me dwell in areas that aren’t helpful or beneficial.
He reminds me of God’s presence and grace in those 18 years; He reminds me we can do nothing to change even the past five minutes. He is Paul, telling me to set my eyes on what’s ahead, forget what is behind, take hold of the forgiveness and new day with its many mercies, and run for the prize. Don’t allow the Enemy to steal, kill, and destroy this day just because he may have had a hold on the former days, and then he reminds me of all the ways the Enemy did not have his way with the former days. “Greater is He in me than he in the world.”
So, though I prefer running ahead for the bigger and seemingly better, I will stay right here and work on the foundation…even if some of it’s a review (which apparently I could use). I will learn to love and live like Jesus. (Do you realize He served (!) His disciples…who were like His children. Do you realize that maybe in order to show our husband and children a true reflection of Christ, we should be willingly and joyfully doing the same. Do you realize that almost every time Jesus tried to get away by Himself to be with the Father (“alone time”), He would have crowds find Him, need Him, want Him, and He would willingly, joyfully, and compassionately turn and be with them because being present with people is showing them the Truth of God…He is always present with us. Do you realize Jesus never thought of others as an inconvenience or an interruption but as a person to love. I don’t know that I’ve ever realized that more than I do now.)
13 If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith
so that I can move mountains
but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
5 does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends…
I Corinthians 13 HCSV