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!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's Time for a Vacation!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about vacations. Maybe it’s the cold, gloomy weather or the long stretch until spring arrives. Maybe it’s that I’m looking at my children growing up before my eyes and wondering how many more family trips we’ll manage before our oldest flies out of the nest. Possibly it’s the incredible Christmas gift given to me by my awesome husband, who sorted, edited, printed and placed into beautiful albums ten years of family photos, which included many pictures of fun family trips. Whatever the reason, vacation is on my brain. I’m longing for sand, palm trees and sunshine and time away from the hectic freeway that we call life in the Metzger household.

Vacations are something that I hold very dear. I grew up with a father who placed paramount importance on taking his family to different places to enjoy time together “away from it all”. While we did not have a great deal of money, somehow he always managed to make it happen for us. Our trips weren’t always glamorous, but they were definitely memorable. They usually involved a road trip, a cabin and lots of time spent playing games, swimming and exploring new places. I remember trips to places such as Hard Labor Creek, Georgia (my favorite, believe it or not!); Branson, Missouri; DisneyWorld; Cape Cod; Yellowstone National Park; and many places up and down the East Coast (during the 3 years we lived in Connecticut). We saw historical monuments, beautiful scenery and man-made theme parks. Often we went with dear friends; sometimes it was just the four of us. The one thing that these trips all had in common was this: uninterrupted togetherness. We played together, laughed together, ate together and explored together. These times are some of my most treasured memories of my childhood and the end result of these trips (whether to places near or far) was a family closeness that I now know was far from ordinary.

When my husband and I first started a family, one of the things we agreed upon early on was that we wanted to make vacations a priority. It was worth sacrificing other things to make sure that we made these family times happen and happen as often as possible. We’ve taken our children to places such as California, Florida, Arizona, and even Hawaii (which definitely required the saving of our pennies!) and once or twice even “vacationed at home” when money was tight. It thrills my heart to hear my children relate stories of our various trips, usually predicated by “Remember when…?” While sitting at lunch with my kids the other day, we began the game of “remember when?” They reminisced about trips to Legoland and Disneyland, climbing rocks in Arches National Park, sunny afternoons on the beaches of Kauai, and even the not-so-wonderful-but-definitely-memorable trip to California that ended up with Noah in the hospital with a severe asthma attack. They laughed and told story after story and I felt my heart swell with mixed emotions. It brought me so much joy to hear their special memories and so much sadness to feel the end of such times drawing near. I made sure to impart the hope that they would continue such traditions with their own children someday.

What makes these times so special? Is it the location, or the lodging, or even the amount of money spent? I don’t think so. While we’ve been blessed to take some pretty nice trips with our kids, I know that what really counts here is the uninterrupted family time. It is so wonderful to be away from the ringing telephone, the demanding schedules and the constant distraction from what is important. To have an entire block of time where your only commitment is to spend time enjoying each other is a slice of heaven (well, most of the time anyway!). Conversations are held that might not happen at home. Silliness and laughter occur and siblings discover the joy of playing with each other and with Mom and Dad. Kids are given undivided attention and love, which they all crave so desperately. Dad is able to disconnect from work worries and just play. Mom can leave behind the mountains of laundry and household tasks that demand her attention at home. In our overscheduled and hectic lives, family vacations may not be a luxury, but a necessity. It seems we’ve forgotten how to enjoy each other. My son recently overheard a conversation in a store where one woman said to another, “How can you stand to take a vacation with your family every year? That would be terrible!” The other woman replied, “Yeah, it’s really hard, but we live through it.” How sad is it that we view family vacation as something to “live through” instead of enjoy?

In our house, vacations are long-anticipated and oft-remembered. I pray that when my children are grown and have families of their own that they will make family vacations a priority, too. The benefits of this time together will far outweigh the sacrifices necessary to make a vacation possible. It isn’t about money…it’s about time. So now, please excuse me…I think I’ll go work on planning our next vacation.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Simple, But Profound

I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions. There have been many years that I have vowed to lose weight, exercise more, or get up earlier, and by the end of January, I have already failed at those resolutions. This year, however, I have one resolution that I feel that God has given me to work on. It’s simple, but profound. A few months ago, I was struck by a verse in I Thessalonians 5:20-21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” As I pondered this verse, I thought about what that meant in my everyday life. It means I should carefully think about everything that I do, and everything that I choose to bring into my home to see if it meets God’s standards. If it does, then I should hold on tightly. If it doesn’t, I should flee from that thing. So what is my simple but profound resolution? It can be summed up in one word: THINK.

I have lately been convicted that what ails us most as Christians and as Christian families is that we fail to think…we just aimlessly follow whatever the world throws at us and never pause to consider the impact those choices might have on our families or on others around us. The latest movie craze? We’re there, buying tickets with everyone else, no matter what the topic. After all, the effects are great, the stars are unbelievable and everybody else is watching, so why not? The hottest books? We’re pre-ordering with the best of them, anxiously awaiting a story to draw us in and help us to escape the real world for a few hours. The latest fashions? We let our daughters wear them without concern for how the boys are viewing them and treating them as a result. In fact, maybe we’re even wearing them ourselves, whether or not they are modest…after all, they make us look good, right? How about the latest video game? Okay, so it’s rated “T” or “M” for violence and gore, but it’s not real, right? It won’t hurt that little boy who is watching over your shoulder, will it?

I recently had someone ask me in deep anguish over a hurt inflicted by the choices of other Christians, “Are Christians just lemmings who don’t think things through?” This echoed in my brain and my heart over the next few days as I wrestled with her question. I desperately don’t want this to be true in my own life. I want to grab hold of that verse in I Thessalonians and be able to say that I used wisdom and discernment instead of blindly following the world over the cliff of destruction. Even more, I want to know that I made wise choices where my children are concerned, and that I didn’t lead THEM into a life of sin and bad choices. So my goal for this next year is this: I want to think carefully about what we choose to participate in, whether it is movies or books or video games, how we dress or how we talk or even how we treat other people. I don’t want to just “follow the crowd” but instead I want to follow my Lord. I want to listen carefully to his voice and choose the paths that will lead my children to purity and peace.

Over the last few years, God has slowly brought us to a place where we have realized that some of our choices needed to change. We no longer watch many movies that we would have watched a few years ago. We have cleaned books out of our bookshelves, realizing that they are inappropriate reading material for Christians and a bad example for our children. We guard our family time much more carefully and are very purposeful about spiritually training our children. We watch little to no television in our house and refuse to have cable because of the vast amount of ungodly and inappropriate matter offered up for viewing even to young children. We have tried to replace worldly movies and shows with more wholesome viewing matter, especially movies that have a message that we can discuss with our children. We have tried to discuss worldview a great deal with our children, so they are aware that everything they read or watch has a worldview and an influence on their thinking. We use the newspaper to help them recognize hidden agendas and worldviews that are opposed to a biblical worldview.

Have we arrived? Unfortunately, no…we have a long way to go. I’m certain God has only begun to make us aware of the things we need to change. But the more we ask for His wisdom and discernment, the more He provides and the more our eyes are opened. It isn’t easy, by any means, for our family’s choices have sometimes made us unpopular or misunderstood and have even been viewed as judgmental. It’s sometimes hard to give up books or movies that I previously loved, and to admit that maybe I was deceived. It’s difficult to look back and feel ashamed of choices that I made, knowing that they may have had an impact on my children, or on others around me. But when we humbly repent and ask God to change us, He does. And the fruit of an undivided heart is beautiful indeed.

I don’t write this blog to condemn anyone reading it or to point fingers at anyone and make them feel guilty. My only intent is to share what God has placed on my heart this year and to hope to inspire you to join with me in my new resolve: to THINK before I accept anything into my heart or my home. Is it something that is wholesome and good? Then let’s grab hold with both hands and never let go. Is it harmful, or even just questionable? Then let’s turn our backs and refuse to take part. Just imagine the impact we could have on our children, our homes and our world if we just took this seriously…it’s simple, but profound.

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:23

“To live as though we had all the same values as the world would betray [Jesus]” –John Piper

Friday, January 15, 2010

Worldview Everywhere

The following blog was written by my ten-year-old daughter, Lexi...

Recently, I was watching a movie called, “Barbie and the Three Musketeers.” It’s all about how these four girls want to be musketeers. Everyone doubts they can do it. They believe they can because they think females have just as much power as males. However, the Bible says that men should be the head of the household. In the movie, there’s a plot to kill the prince. In the end, they’re out on the roof battling. The prince has no weapons when being attacked. Just then, the girl comes out and finishes off the bad guy. She defends the prince, who is just standing there, completely defenseless.

Many girls out there are watching this movie thinking they can dominate. SO many girls grow up and get married, still thinking they can take control. This could lead to a relationship when both husband and wife are controlling. I’m afraid to say that there is worldview everywhere. These movies are meant for younger girls. Most of these young girls are quite impressionable. I’m not saying all movies are bad, I’m just saying be careful. There can be worldview anywhere, even where you least expect it.