Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chalkboard Matters

What if we, as mamas, really believed that not just what we do, but WHO WE ARE, matters to our little ones?!  You see, I'm asking myself this question first.  I have to. Because for entirely too long I've been a mama convinced, almost daily, that I just don't quite make the grade.  That I just don't quite fit the bill.  That I'm just not quite....good enough.  And why?  Well...because of what I do or don't do....well enough. 

We can be so unforgiving of ourselves, can't we?  We can lavish grace upon women we've only recently met, seeing fully the good work that God is doing in forming His masterpiece of them.  We can give grace to our children, husband, sisters, brothers, friends, and neighbors...knowing that God isn't finished with them yet!  But then we look so harshly in the mirror and point the finger at every wrong she has done...or left undone.  We can feel such a hopeless cause.  We look around.  We compare.  And we realize we will never do it well enough to warrant any kind of "her children arise and call her blessed" praise*.   

But what if we gave a measure of grace to the face in the mirror?  What if we saw her potential, despite her struggles?  What if we allowed ourselves to believe that even when we don't perform perfectly (per our unfair standards), we are still made perfectly in the image of God*?  What if we allowed ourselves to see the difference we are already making in the lives of those entrusted to us?

I had such a glimpse recently and I'm only just now swallowing it and realizing that the glimpse is God's gift to me. He's allowing me to see that my labor is not in vain*.  He is showing me, ever so gently, that even though I do my very fair share of messing up with my words or actions, or lack thereof...who I am matters!  Who He made me to be is enough to impart grace and love to my children. 

I pray with my children regularly. We pray daily before school, always have.  We pray before meals and at bedtime.  We pray when someone we know is sick; when an ambulance sirens by; when someone has a bad dream; when something doesn't work; when circumstances seem overwhelming; or to give simple thanks. It's just how I live with my children.  I depend on God through prayer.

Recently I had a glimpse that it matters--that it is making a difference.  This past Sunday had some low points.  My husband and I had a disagreement right before I left to grocery shop (something I detest doing on a Sunday, but was necessary due to being snowbound and having a baby with pinkeye all week).  When I got home I felt drained:  inconsiderate Sunday shoppers, no lunch, cold coffee, headache...just drained!  My husband gave me a hug (there was forgiveness on both ends) but I just had a good little cry.  My sensitive seven year old was concerned. She asked Ron what was wrong with me. I didn't want to divulge all of my emotions.  Ron said "maybe just give mommy a hug." She did. But she really wanted to know the why's and what's.  She kept asking and then she said "well maybe if we know, we can pray about it." My heart melts just remembering this. Now I do not take credit, but I do have a part to play in my little one responding this way.  And not because of what I've done! But just because of who He made me to be:  a mama who depends on prayer. 

Last week I wrote about my favorite belated Christmas gift:  an entire chalkboard door!  (I still love it!)
 Well, mama's girls wanted a chalkboard space in their room too.  Why not?!  So we rearranged the furniture and picked the ideal spot to paint the chalkboard.  Those little girls were thrilled.  Yesterday I was picking up some things in their room (an endless chore) and I glanced at their chalkboard drawings.
 My five year old drew like a five year old....and it's precious.

But when I paused to read what my Ella wrote, my heart was so encouraged.  "I love Jesus". "God is good and I am loved".  " God created everyone and everything".
Did she arrive at this alone?  No.  Am I to be praised for her writing such encouraging truths?  No.  But is any of this partly a result of who I am as her mama?  You bet! God gets the credit and all the glory.  But He has helped me live out these truths in front of my children. They are watching. And they are listening. And it matters. Who I am matters.  And when I fail so miserably, day after day after day, who He has made me to be still matters.

Please be encouraged sweet mama!  When you glance at that face in the mirror, don't glare and remind her of how she falls so short of her own harsh expectations.  Instead gaze into the face of God that you see in who she is becoming!  He is not done with her yet.  He who began a good work is faithful to complete it*.  And even when you huff too heavily over homework hurdles, and bark too brashly over bedtime battles, and sulk too seriously over sibling squabbles, remember that you are not only what you do or don't do.  You are also loved. You are also the workmanship of God Almighty*.  He sees you.  He knows you.  And He says that who He is making you to be, matters.  He picked you to nurture, raise, and love these little ones.  He has a perfect purpose.  Be encouraged, sweet mama!

*Proverbs 31:28; Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 2:10

*I am having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Write It Down

So it's the New Year, and that's what I'll write about, as many others have also.  I do think that there is significance in the calendar turning pages to a new year.  I do think God honors a new year.  I would go so far as to say that I think the new year was His idea first.  A new year is refreshing.  And not because it is chock-full of resolutions, but because it is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start least in some respects.  

I gave up New Year's Resolutions a few years ago.  What I have done instead, over the past few years, is choose a particular bible verse or passage as my focus for the year.  Usually the scripture is closely related to something that has been on my heart in approaching the new year.  Sometimes I feel it is directly given to me by God.  Either way, I love this focus so much more than the typical resolutions I have previously chosen.  I might also have some personal goals, family goals, or plans for the coming year.  That is all well and good.  Overall, choosing a biblical scripture or passage to make my primary focus for the new year has been particularly helpful to me.  

My heart has been moved on many specific levels and in much greater intensity toward prayer over the last year, in particular.  There are many different types of prayer and ways to approach prayer and I do not claim to be an expert on this, nor am I attempting to write a dissertation on prayer, so I won't delve very specifically.  I will only say that God impresses upon my heart more and more each day, how important prayer should be in my life and in my home.  I don't take it lightly--this privilege to commune with God-- and if I say I will pray for a friend or family member, I won't rest until I do.  That being said, one of my primary focuses for this new year is prayer.

Hand in hand with that is: trusting fully in God, letting peace reign in my heart and mind, and remaining in an active position of giving thanks.  Again, no expert.  Many days I fail miserably at all of these.  And most days, I fail in at least one of these areas.  But God never stops reminding me that this is what He wants of me.  So, the scripture that rests well in my heart for this new year is 
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7 
I also believe it is important to write down the visions and goals God has for us and for our family.  There really is something significant that happens when we record vision in words.  It helps to look at what has been written and remind ourselves of a particular focus, on good days and bad.  

I received the best Christmas present several days after Christmas.  I have an ongoing list of things I would love to have for my home.  Some feel like dreams and others are completely possible, when the budget allows.  I have wanted a chalkboard forever!  We have this old, untrimmed door that serves as a pass way between our kitchen and what we call the "backroom" that leads to our laundry room.  This backroom was built very poorly, and surely won't remain as is; but for the time being, it's there....and I'm glad there is a door so I don't have to look at it.  I've wanted a chalkboard for that door, on which to write chores and encouraging notes, quotes, or scriptures.  I have not been able to find just the right one.  My husband had the kids with him at Lowe's and I asked him to look for a chalkboard.  Nope, he couldn't find one there but he did one better(although I'd never have imagined how much I love it):  he bought chalkboard paint!  I know, I know, it's been around for years.  I just never thought I'd like it.  I love it!  We painted the entire door.  And no, it's still not trimmed, and it still leads to a room I don't love, but this is a place my eye absolutely loves to wander!  And it is the perfect spot for my verse of 2015.  

So, Happy New Year.  And even if and when it is not so happy, don't neglect writing down what you feel is most important for the coming year.  And please don't neglect reading and reminding yourself of what God has for you and your family.  I believe He has good plans for us; the Bible tells us so!  May 2015 be a year of love, peace, hope, generosity, service, fulfillment, commitment, health, and joy!

I'm having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth