Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just a Mommy

It's a story familiar to many of us closer to 40 than 20. With gray hair , wrinkles, and a few age spots, age brings clarity. Quite often nowadays, I find myself slapping my forehead in disgust thinking, "What was I thinking?" To understand the reason for my dismay, I must take you back to another time. I was 12 years old, young, focused, and filled with ideals of being a strong, independent, modern woman. Being raised in what seemed like a "greenhouse" of strong women, the role was easy to embrace. Family. Career. I naively believed I could have it all, do it all, be it ALL.

Then it happened. My cousin, Minniette, who seems to know me better than I know myself, made a wager. She proposed that by the ripe "old" age of 28, I would be a homeaker. Sadly, I remember those words filling me with outrage at the time. So, I took that bet, confident that her dollar was mine while I imagined smugly rubbing her nose in my victory. After all, there was NO way I was going to be "just a mommy". I was on my way and I had things to accomplish. A path to plow. A world to change. My greatest desire was to fiercely pursue the impossible dream of the modern day woman.

Little did I know how right my cousin truly was about my heart. It took a few more years, but turning 28 certainly changed the course of my life. For it was then that God graced me with our son, Jack. He is the first of our three gifts from heaven. Suddenly, with his birth, my priorities shifted. And over the next few years, I began to realize that somebody had sold me an empty dream of materialism and achievement that closely resembled beach front property in the Mojave Desert. Suddenly, the moment I became Jack's mother, I began to rethink the desires of my heart.

Now, I am not suggesting that woman have only a place in the home. Each of us was born with a set of gifts designed for God's purpose and plan for our lives. I am emphatically stating, however, that THIS woman belongs at home. The LORD gave me a heart that longs to care for and protect those whom I fiercely love. Responsible, sensible, and careful, I was the self-appointed guardian of my younger brother and cousins whether they needed it or not. God made my ears sensitive to tones of voice and my eyes keen to body language in order to infer feelings. As I came to truly know my heart, I came to a startling conclusion. I was born to be a caretaker. It seems my cousin saw that better than I even as we were children. And I humbly acknowledge, that I now owe my cousin a big thank you. (And a dollar!)

Today, my sense of identity is firmly rooted in being the heart of our home. At long last, I have stepped out of the full-time workforce as an educator and into the home. Instead of grading papers, writing lesson plans, and attending meetings, my days are now filled with clipping coupons, dropping kids at school, and managing the many responsibilities of our home. There is no earthly recognition, but there is great glory in watching my loved ones flourish, being a steward of all that God has given me. Instead of finding my worth in my performance at work, I am content to be "just a mommy" while I model the love of Christ to my family.

Now, don't be fooled. Life as a full-time wife and mother is not a life for the faint of heart. Our pace is still quick and bedtime is still relished at the Arbuckle home. However, there is a sweetness that has gripped our little house as never before. I believe it is because I am finally walking in my gifts, taking my place in God's kingdom as a wife, mother, and servant of my King. I am, in fact, who I was created to be and in that I find my sleep to be sweet. It took me a long time to swallow my pride and take my place in this world. It isn't grand or filled with accolades, praise, or glory. I won't be winning any awards this side of heaven. But I have peace. I have joy. And I know what it is to be truly happy in the LORD. It's a lesson I pray will stay rooted in my heart as I raise up children to take their place in this world.

They say with age comes wisdom. I find that a refreshing truth in my life. Time has definitely changed my vision of what my legacy will be in this world. With continous prayer, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, I found the courage to step off the road to nowhere and find the path to contentment. And I have learned some important lessons about who I am and what I want to be. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is that true wisdom comes from following God. After all, our Heavenly Father promises that "I will instruct you and teach in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

I pray that God will give each of my kids eyes to see their gifts and talents and grant them the courage to follow their God-given dreams. I hope they are wiser than I was in finding their way in life. And more than any accomplishment, "I have no greater desire than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4) Today, life has come full circle as my son is turning 12 years old in February. Many days I hear my son and two daughters dreaming of what they will "be" when they grow up. A ballerina. A chef. A marine biologist. A musician. And in the words of my youngest blessing Sofie, "A mommy...just a mommy".

Heavenly Father,
We know that each of us is made in your image and are created for a purpose in your kingdom. Too often, we allow the world to define our existence when we were made solely for you LORD. Help us to discover our gifts and talents and use them for your glory whatever they may be. We wish to see you lifted up as we serve you in this life.

Reflection: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life Moves Pretty Fast...

Key Verse: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.---Romans 15:5-6 NIV

One of my favorite movies is Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you grew up in the 80's like me, you probably recall the wisdom of our young hero Ferris as he addressed his audience..."Life Moves Pretty Fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!" Indeed, life seems to be spinning faster these days. Some mornings, I fear we are moving so frantically, the earth may spin right off its axis. It seems a sense of urgency has gripped our world as never before, and in its wake we sometimes feel the necessity to be innovative in our communication methods.

Twitter. Facebook. Texting. No doubt, our modes of communication are changing radically. I confess, up until recently, I was a self-proclaimed Facebook junkie. It was exciting to reconnect with long lost "friends", convenient to keep up with current acquaintances, and fun to entertain my "peeps" online. However, life isn't just about entertainment and convenience. Life is far more complicated, and tends to get messy. Therefore, our relationships with fellow believers must be deeper than a Facebook update or a "tweet" on Twitter.

Communication is a priority in God's Kingdom. God has used angels, prophets, the Bible,and His one and only Son to communicate His desires for His children. Likewise, it must be a priority for God's people to "communicate the hope that is in us" (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) Effective communication begins with time alone with God. It is imperative as God's children that we learn to sit at His feet and quietly listen each day. As we read His word and meditate on His truth, our minds are renewed and our hearts transformed to be more like Christ. It is only then that we are truly ready to engage a lost and confused world. For it is in communion with our Heavenly Father that we train our heart to encourage and endure.

Likewise, we are challenged to make time to meet with our sisters in Christ face to face. After all, communication is more than words and emoticons. Expressions and tones can be lost in the translation of a text message, leaving us confused about the motives and actions of our loved ones. Without the clarity of open communication, we are likely to be deceived into making assumptions that damage a relationship unnecessarily. In short, we must allow ourselves to be available to those whom God has placed in our circle of influence. God has placed a number of folks in our midst today. Some are there so that they might be influenced. And some are placed there to be an influence. Either way, influence is greatly marginalized when we limit our interactions to social networking.

Today, let's commit to talk more...really talk. Accountability and honesty must remain in a free transaction between active participants if we are to truly continue to grow in Christ. We must commit to make ourselves vulnerable with trusted sisters in Christ, who can speak truth with love into our lives when the time is deemed necessary. Otherwise, we are likely to be deceived by our enemy who "prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) Let us never become so busy that we forget to check on a friend. And I pray we never become so distracted that we fail to speak loving truth into our friendships. As our methods of communication evolve, we are challenged in this fast-paced world to speak wisely, not in haste but in love. Let's not miss the chance to minister with words of truth and love.

Heavenly Father,
We praise you for you are never to busy for your children. You are always present and you never grow weary of hearing our cries. We confess that we are sometimes distracted by insignificant cares as they drag us away from the relationships you have placed in our midst. Help us to make our relationships a priority by taking time to talk each day. Give us words of loving accountability to encourage one another and give us endurance in these hectic days. We praise you and thank you for the dear friends you have brought into our lives. Help us to connect in real ways that bring you glory, that we might shine for you in this dark and lonely world.

Reflection: How might you connect with a friend in a way that brings unity and encouragement to the body of Christ?