Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hearts of Stone

Tonight, as my family and I were out for an evening of dinner and errands, we wandered into a video game store. My attention was immediately caught by a young couple shopping with their son, who appeared to be about three or four years old. The mother was showing this little boy various video games and asking him which one he wanted. The father came and got him and then told him he had an important question to ask him and to pay attention. He said, “If I buy you your own Xbox, so you won’t have to stop playing your games when Daddy wants to play, would you like that?” I confess, at this point, I moved closer while pretending to peruse the shelves, just so I could hear the rest of the conversation. The little boy jumped up and down in excitement, and then began whining because he wanted to play the store demo model. The mother ran over with two video games in hand, and asked her husband which version of “Resident Evil” they should purchase for the little boy.

Now I was certain I could hear something else…the sound of my heart breaking for this little boy. His parents were buying him his own video game system so he could play in one room, while his father played in another. They were also purchasing him a video game, rated “M” for “Mature” (although my 9-year-old questioned whether a truly mature person would play this game!). This game is classified as a “survival horror, third-person shooter” game, involving multiple weapons, evil spirits and significant gore. In case you didn’t catch it, let me reiterate…this little boy was three or four years old. He should be watching Veggie Tales while sitting on his daddy’s lap, not blowing people to bits on his own videogame system while his daddy plays his own games in another room. I couldn’t help but wonder how long it will take before the innocence in this handsome little boy’s eyes is completely gone.

How does this happen? Did his parents wake up one day and decide that these were appropriate games for their son to play? I don’t believe so. Instead, I think that they probably grew up playing such games themselves, being sold a bill of goods by the world that we live in which told them that this is appropriate fare for childhood consumption. Games, books, movies, and other forms of entertainment have steadily grown worse and we have become numb to the effects they are having on our society and on our children. Like the proverbial frog who never noticed that the pot of water was steadily growing hotter until it was too late, we have slowly become so jaded that we think nothing of buying a three-year-old an incredibly violent game or of feeding our teenagers a steady diet of sex, violence and foul language via the TV, video games and popular music and books. And then we wonder why our society has no respect for life, as is evidenced by the number of abortions performed annually in our country and the laws slowly being passed to support assisted suicide. We wonder how tragedies such as Columbine can happen, why our kids are bullied at school, or how children can be beaten to death by their siblings while play-acting games such as “Mortal Kombat” (for those of you outside of Colorado, this happened here recently).

Over the past few years, my husband and I have become ever more concerned about the degree of our own jadedness. We’ve discovered movies that we enjoyed as children now seem immoral and profanity-laden. We’ve discovered that books that we used to love now seem unacceptable. What concerns us most, however, is what we might be missing. As God reveals more and more things to us that we never before recognized as being opposed to His will for us, we wonder what things we have stubbornly or ignorantly missed. As He teaches us more and more how to raise children who are wholeheartedly devoted to Him, we learn to beseech Him for eyes like His to evaluate the choices that we make for our children. We learn to not just accept something because “everyone else does it” or because it “seems okay”. We learn to make decisions that are often unpopular, sometimes with our children, and even sometimes with other Christians. We learn to pray fervently for wisdom, strength and discernment in all of our choices, and to not make decisions by default…and we pray for God to remove our tarnished hearts and restore us to purity. For God promises us: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

I pray for that little boy, that God will protect his heart. I pray for his parents, that God will show them the error of their ways before it is too late for him. I pray, too, for all of us, that God will open our eyes so that when we see such things as we saw tonight, we will not walk away feeling self-righteous, but will examine our own hearts and our own degree of corruption, and that we will be broken before Him and will ask for His forgiveness and purification. May God remove our hearts of stone…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Gift of Praise

When was the last time your child gave you a gift? Was it Mother’s Day, your birthday or just a day that he colored you a picture and gave it to you “just because”? Did you love that gift because it was expensive, or because it was exactly what you wanted, or just because he gave it to you to show you his love? Sometimes the best gifts our children give us are “best” because of the love expressed, not because of their monetary value or intrinsic usefulness. One of the best gifts my oldest daughter ever gave me was for Mother’s Day last year. She bought a bright pink basket with a lid, and filled that basket with notes full of love and encouragement. The notes expressed her love for me and her appreciation of the sacrifices I have made in order to homeschool her. She may not know this, but I turn to that precious basket often…on days when I need to feel valued, on days that are frustrating or discouraging, and on days that I just need to know that I am loved and appreciated. It is water when my soul is thirsting and comfort when my heart is weary.

We all need praise. Marriages die for lack of praise. Children wither for lack of praise. Even our Father in heaven desires praise from His children. When was the last time you gave your children the gift of your praise? Sometimes we mothers can be so diligent about correcting our children’s faults and misbehaviors, and yet fail to offer them praise when they do something right. How many times has your child brought you a beautiful picture that they colored especially for you and instead of noticing the vibrant colors and creative drawing, you instead bemoan the marker all over their hands or new white T-shirt? Have you ever seen that little face fall as they receive your criticism instead of your sought-after praise? How about the child who “helps” you by attempting to fix breakfast or “clean” something and instead of receiving your gratitude, she receives a heartfelt sigh at the mess left in the kitchen or bathroom? Sometimes their little hearts work ahead of their abilities, leaving chaos in their wake instead of true helpfulness, yet don’t they still deserve our appreciation for their efforts?

After all, think about the messes we bring to God, longing for His approval. “But I meant well,” we say beseechingly, and He receives us lovingly, in spite of the damage we have wrought. The few paltry gifts we bring to the Ruler of the Universe pale in comparison to what He has done for us, yet He delights in us and in the gift of our praise. No matter what we have done, or haven’t done, for that matter, He welcomes us, taking us in His loving arms and giving us more than we could ever deserve. I love the picture painted in Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Picture a father, swinging his child up into his arms, throwing back his head in laughter as he delights in this little child of his heart. Picture a mother, rocking her child in her arms, singing softly as she soothes this child whom she adores. This is how God feels about you and me…wow. If the God of the Universe can feel this way about me, then surely I can demonstrate some of this powerful love and praise to my children, even when they’ve left a mess in the bathroom or spilled their juice for the tenth time on my freshly mopped floor. Humbling, isn’t it?

So, how about giving your children the gift of your praise today? Instead of watching their little faces fall, watch them light up in delight as your loving words soothe their hurts and fill their hearts with joy. And then sit down together and praise your Heavenly Father, who delights in both of you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bless You, Mom

One of the greatest blessings God bestowed on me came in the form of a petite, quiet, gentle-spirited woman. She never held any high-powered job, although she is extremely intelligent. She was never rich in material possessions and never sought after fame or fortune. She was content to “feather her nest” and make a wonderful home for her loving husband and two sometimes appreciative children. She lovingly cooked our meals, sewed us lovely clothes, and played dolls and baseball and board games without complaint. She kept her house tidy and organized and drove us to baseball games and play practices, youth groups and music lessons. She submissively served her husband and packed our household and moved us cross-country more than once, even when it was not what she wanted. She took care of us when we were sick (which in my case, was a lot!), dried our tears and shared our laughter. Our friends wanted to play at our house because she was so welcoming. They wanted to eat at our house because she was such a good cook. Most of all, they just wanted to be included in her circle of loving…and she always complied, even if she was tired, or had a headache, or just wanted to be alone.

Without her, I don’t know who I would be. She inspired me to respect and desire the role of motherhood. She taught me to love my Heavenly Father and desire to serve Him first. She taught me what a quiet and gentle spirit looks like in real life. She gently countered the worldly influence telling me that I needed to attain some great career, not stay at home and mother children. She showed me all I ever needed to know about grace and beauty and contentment. She taught me how to listen, really listen, with my heart as well as my ears. She taught me to love words and reading and writing, and encouraged my first efforts at expressing myself through the written word.

She showed me I was important by the way she dropped everything when I arrived home from school and allowed me to tell her the most insignificant details of my day over a snack. She gave me confidence by listening with her full attention. She taught me the value of touch as she lovingly stroked my hair as I lay with my head in her lap after a rough day. She demonstrated the necessity of spending quiet time with God as I watched her with her Bible open on her lap and a cup of tea on the table by her spot on the couch.

Everything I needed to know, I learned not at the hands of my kindergarten teacher, but by the side of my precious mother. Her sacrifices, her patience, her tenderness all communicated to me that I was loved, I was important, and that my choices mattered. In the process of growing up, I may have wanted to be a doctor, a veterinarian and a singer, but deep down I knew I really only wanted to be one thing when I grew up…I wanted to be just like my mother.

I pray that someday, my children will look on me with the love and respect I hold for my mother, even though I don’t deserve it. I pray that somehow, through the grace of God, they will learn from me what it means to be unconditionally loved and accepted, and that my daughters will grow up desiring this most divine calling of motherhood.

I’m humbly grateful that I had a mother of such “noble character” and this Mother’s Day, I “rise up and bless her” (Proverbs 31:10, 28). Happy Mother’s Day, Mom…I will always love you.