Saturday, December 20, 2008


I had the opportunity to go to a baby shower last weekend for one of my college friends. I hadn't seen most of the girls since the last baby shower two years ago. My crazy fun roommate was even there from San Diego.

Most of my friends didn't start having kids as early as I did or have as many. So it seems I'm a few years ahead of them in this journey. It was a really good reminder to me of the mission of mommy-hood. They are all in that stage of infant and toddlers running you weary all day. Their sentiments all echoed the same frustrations: You long for a shower, hope to leave the house, feel the need to provide constructive things for them to do, make play dates and actually play with them.

I remember how miserable some of my days were when we had 3 kids in diapers and lived in a little trailer house. I felt as if my life had somehow come to a screeching halt. All I did was change diapers, do dishes (yeah - no dishwasher), do laundry, make food, clean up messes and change diapers. People would tell me how they have such fond memories of those years and just wait until they are teenagers. I always figured at least teenagers leave sometimes!

Now that we have 3 kids in school it seems like I am past that stage. But when I got home I realized I am NOT past that stage. I guess I forgot on the two hour drive that I still have a toddler and preschooler at home. This week I have been literally running frantically between them. Maren wants to sit on the toilet and have me sing to her, she takes off her poopy diapers, she dumps all the stuff out of the pantry and opens some Christmas presents. Annie wants to watch a movie, have a piece of gum, have a story read to her, help me in the kitchen and so on.

I think why it feels different now is the perspective that comes from seeing how fast that time really does go. After getting through it three other times I can laugh more when things go wrong. I'm more laid back about schedule, outings and wearing clothes. I don't try to make things perfect. If they dump out all the flour it can be cleaned up. If they want me to play or be held or read to, I can put my other stuff on hold. It's still frustrating, but it's just not the end of the world.

I've learned that these precious little ones are ours for a short time.

When we go to school or get a job we learn to be outcome based people. What's the result? Where's the profit? It just doesn't happen like that in mothering. At the end of the day we won't necessarily feel like we've accomplished anything. That's hard to accept, especially if a year ago you were getting your masters and working at a challenging and satisfying career.

Teaching kids to love and live like Jesus takes time and relationship. That's what we are building day by day. I'm starting to see a few of the outcomes with my older kids. We have spiritual conversations. I see them being loving to their friends or helping me without being asked. There's a long way to go but now that I have a taste of the results of my painstaking effort, it makes all the little stuff a lot more manageable.

I want to encourage you, especially during this Christmas season, to forget all the hustle and bustle and enjoy the little ones God has given you. After all the whole story of Christmas is about relationship: God sent Jesus to earth so we could have a relationship with Him.

Take time to make cookies together, watch a Christmas special, and play in the snow. When I take time to step out of my "outcome based" mentality, I can truly find the joy in being a Mommy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Go Deep

We are knee deep in snow now after a good old Minnesota snow storm. But that's not the kind of deep I've been thinking about.

There are those times in life where you just feel ragged, on the edge and as one of my friends deftly described it "raw". A few weeks ago, dealing with a screaming 18 month old all day and night was leaving me ragged. Not enough sleep, too much to do, bills to pay all pile up to make me feel numb.

Then there are the friends going through hard times ( I talked to at least 10 people that were laid off last week alone), ministry stresses and trials. I can wake up in the morning and have a hard time finding the strength to pour a bowl of cereal. I sometimes wonder what the point is. All the time and energy we pour into ministry and people continue to walk away from church and turn their backs on Christ. It seems like I should be able to find a verse in the Bible that says "Put Christ first and life will be easy".

I picked up a book we've had on our shelf for a long time called "Reaching for the Invisible God" by Philip Yancey. It's really feeding that part of me that wonders about faith and if it's worth it. One of the stories he tells is about his pastor when he lived in Chicago named Bill Leslie. He felt like he had reached a place of Spiritual emptiness. He went on a weekend retreat and talked to his spiritual director, a nun.

"He expected her to offer soothing words about what a sacrificial, unselfish person he was, or perhaps recommend a sabbatical. Instead she said, 'Bill there's only one thing to do if your reservoir runs dry. You've got to go deeper.' He returned from that retreat convinced that his faith depended less on his outer journey of life and ministry than on his inner journey toward spiritual depth." (page 73)

Really? My faith might depend less on what I do and more on the journey towards Christ! What a shock. I've always thought I had good faith. That I would dutifully do all that God asks of me and He in turn would make everything good and comfortable.

But as I've found myself running dry at times in my life of faith, the choice is to either give up and stumble through or go deep and seek after God. A few weeks ago as some crises broke out in our ministry I was driven to work on my Bible study. I knew that I was in over my head and that the only way I could get through was to be with Him. And yet it did not make things easy. It's still messy and I still struggled with some things that directly related.

As I raise my children each day, I want to go beyond carting them to things, helping with homework and feeding them food. I want to disciple them so they can learn to go deep. Not that it is going to make everything easy. Actually it will probably mean a more difficult road in a lot of ways. If we truly want to follow Christ, there will be things we won't buy, shows we won't watch and places we won't go. There will be challenges and struggles along the way.

So I'm going to learn to go deeper. I want to know Him more intimately by studying the Bible, praying desperately, and seeking, not what I can do, but what He can and who He is.

2 Corinthians 5:7
We live by faith, not by sight.

Ephesians 6:16
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.