Mothering…Through the Seasons…Eyes on God & His on Me

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I married later in life.  Mother’s Day was always about my Mom.  Then we had children – a daughter, a son, and a second son who came home to us from across the globe.  So grateful for a gentle and encouraging mom.  And I can number other mothers in my life who God used to guide me through seasons of growing up which did not come instinctually to me…from the earliest years of our children’s lives right into the present and the strange and wonderful days of “parenting” adults.

Every season…every single one…has its unique joys and struggles.  When our children were in their school years, we were in the Middle East managing a cultural exchange program for American students.  The dilemma for some of those who were married was how to be immersed in the culture as well as properly caring for the needs of their little ones.  Language learning to proficiency became a daily scourge in the lives of these young mothers.  In anticipation that they would return to the Middle East later to some job when their children were older, they were hopeful that they could learn the language then…in that sometime later reality.

Truth be told, I was living that reality with children a bit older.  The challenges were still there, and tackling language every day was still a stretching experience in the midst of family and work life and the responsibilities and distractions.

Mothering is an extraordinary opportunity, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss it in the throes of work-life or perceived expectations of others.  Wisdom came to me through other mothers – women who somehow were able to mother “in the present” and balance the rest of life within that.  It was hard for me to succeed in this, but it was a daily quest, and sometimes I got it right.

One great piece of advice (there were lots of those; this is one) was to remember my goal wasn’t to be “the best mom I could possibly be” (which was heavy with my own and others’ expectations) but to be “the mom God wanted me to be”.  This latter goal always had me yoked with God Himself and was full of grace.  Amazing.   Wherever you are in this journey of mothering, go with God.  He will help you focus on His purposes – for you, your family, and the world.

If you have no children or your children are far from you, I hope you can find joy in the children near to you.  We can learn a lot from each other.

I leave you with @debsfaves – sweet finds online that went up this week for Mother’s Day.  And, I also leave you with two old worship songs of Twila Paris’ – they were already somewhat old when I had little ones, but they nourished my heart, alone in that kitchen, (my newborn finally asleep)…just God & me & Twila.  And my arms go up…in praise…without thinking of anything else…but the Lover of my soul.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa-7jtvi7J4 – Salute to Moms – Mighty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whahbpRd18w – Surprised by Motherhood

http://www.djiboutijones.com/2014/05/the-grossness-of-motherhood/

http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2014/05/10/about-mothers-day-aka-holidays-out-of-control/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRNFf3ykQvM – The Warrior is a Child with lyrics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=essnbl7pbAk – lyrics video for Do I Trust You?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pzu-jWpcdw – live performance with Warrior and Do I Trust You?

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3 Faces of Temptation – Out of the Desert

2005 March -- Trip to Desert 459Tempted

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. – 1 John 2:16

Jesus was tempted but he did not yield.  The stakes were huge.  In that 40-day desert experience (Matthew 4:1-11),  he was confronted by the three torments of the human soul – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  In the heat of the desert, Jesus forged his resolve to wholly obey his Father.  It’s in the wilderness that a Savior is revealed.

So when I’m tempted, what does that look like?

The lust of the flesh temptation too often comes to me in the form of food – lots of it and often.  I could list foods like a young single woman could list the things she wants in a husband.  A love affair with food is a pretty shallow experience.  These days you can get away with calling yourself a foodie provided you’re rail-thin.  For me, that has never worked out.  There are other lusts of the flesh I struggle with like wanting time to be my own…wanting to be able to while away the hours on my own interests, or hitting the snooze alarm umpteen times, or just dozing in front of rerun after rerun.  It’s tempting to satisfy my flesh, but there’s no purpose in that…nothing lasting.  I’m thankful that Jesus didn’t turn the rocks into bread, even though he was genuinely, earnestly hungry.  In a manner of moments, once he held off Satan’s tempting, angels ministered to his needs.  God is also right there with me in the tempting…I can choose a  better path.

The lust of the eyes temptation, for me, focuses on what I’d like but don’t have – like money to travel the world over.  It’s wanting what I perceive others have – like closer friendships…or a maintenance-free thinner body…or a family that wants to hang out all the time.  It isn’t really all about me, but the lust of the eyes seems to call to the stuff that I think I deserve…should have…whatever.  Such an insatiable thing, self!  Jesus didn’t believe Satan when he tempted Jesus to just bow down to him and all on earth would be his.  There’s wisdom in that for us.  Having all the things or relationships I want, and the focus be on me, will only cause more hunger….more…more…more…  When we bow down to self, it’s vain worship, and we are never satisfied.

The pride of life temptation is thinking of ourselves as higher than we are.  Eve believed the Serpent (Genesis 3:1-5) when he told her she would not die if she ate the fruit forbidden to her by God.  In fact, Satan told her she would become like God.  Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself down to his death, and watch the angels come to his rescue.  Jesus was quick to tell Satan not to tempt God.  When our ambition or even our desire to want to be useful to God tempts us to despise our current situation, this is pride of life.  God is sovereign and He will work in us in whatever our station is at the time.  In the Kingdom of Heaven there are no second-rate assignments, no step-children.

We are going to be tempted…but we don’t have to yield…unless we yield to God instead, where there is true satisfaction of whatever longing we may have.  He is enough.

What temptations take you into the desert?  How does God bring you out?

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My Mom…and the Writing She Inspired

Debbie, Mom, & Dad

My Mom died, and it wasn’t even 5 minutes until we had questions that only she could answer.  It’s over a decade since she died, and I miss her every day.  What I also miss is all the knowing she had…all the history, the memories, the funny and sad stories.  She lived an incredible life, triumphant through extreme poverty, resilient after failure and loss, tenacious in making a home for us all.  She was a lioness with cubs.  Sometimes we come too late to the realization that the generations before had great insight.  I learned so much from my Mom, but could have learned more.  Now, my memories of her, and the stories she told, and the wisdom she imparted are a precious treasure to me.  You will hear her voice in mine.

Mom was born at the time of the Great Depression.  She was excruciatingly poor growing up.  Yet, she pushed through her circumstances.  I want to write about her.  And I want to write about so many things…God, people, culture, beauty, family, lessons learned and lessons still to be learned.

All my adult life, people have told me “You should write a book.”  Maybe because of our travels, or maybe because of something else…I’m not really quite sure.  It’s my Mom who should have written, but she would never.  She wouldn’t think she had anything to say that should be memorialized in print.  I am of a different generation.  I am writing…because of her…and for me…and hopefully for another generation.  We’ll see.

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