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?

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