Sometimes I forget to spit out the seeds…

Archive for June, 2014

Children are the Best Medicine

There’s a lot of darkness in this world.  Depression.  Illness.  Lack.  Anxiety.  Crime.  Loss.  Sorrow.  Sometimes it all comes at once, closing in on us.  We reach out in desperation for something to hold on to, to keep us from swirling away in that darkness.  I reach out to Jesus.

I reach out for comfort and clarity.  The comfort usually comes immediately, as soon as I say His name, because I know He is there.  But clarity.  That one can evade my grasp indefinitely.  And the harder I strive for it, the more elusive it becomes.  I think Jesus wants us to have clarity, for sure.  He wants us to step forward in life with confidence in His plan.  But He also wants us to trust Him.  If we had the whole picture, we’d have to push really hard against the temptation to let that trust shift to ourselves.  So He only gives us a glimpse.

Instead of trusting “the plan,” I’m forced to simply trust in Him.  Trust in what I know for sure.  That He created me in His image.  That He loves me more than I can grasp.  That He wants only good for me.  That I am righteous through His sacrifice.  As I circle around, clinging to those truths and waiting for what comes next, I’m still in the midst of my hectic life, keeping it together for the sake of my family.

It occurred to me, the other day, that the Lord has orchestrated my life for such a time as this.  He has given me the medicine I need to bring back my joy, and then bring it back again and again when I lose it.  He has given me children.

I am in a somewhat unique position.  While I do not have a baby right now, nor do I have any adult children, I’ve got pretty much everything in between.  The joy in parenting is different for each stage of childhood, and right now, I feel like I’ve got it all!  God has blessed me with eight amazing little (and not-so-little) people.  Not just for a lifetime; not just for eternity; but for this day.   I want to bring you an ode to my children….the tools through which God is the “lifter of my head.”

Fourteen-year-old boy.  It is surreal and almost giddy to see him, so tall, strong, and handsome.  I see that when he gently roughhouses with his tiniest sister, he’s not just avoiding his school work….he actually enjoys it.  He rolls his eyes and runs away when his sisters try to tackle him, but I can see that it pleases him, and he lets them catch him.  We are still working on respect, but he is getting it.  He’s working hard.  He’s still a kid, and would rather be playing, but when we call on him to help out, he does it diligently and with 100% effort.  Joy number one.

Thirteen-year-old boy.  He recently offered a greeting and a goodbye to family members, unsolicited, and unprompted.  That is huge for this boy.  My heart swells to see him engaging in conversations, looking others in the face, and smiling when he does it.  With a memory like a steel trap and a voracious appetite for reading anything and everything, I can see that God has equipped him to overcome those blind spots in his mind.  While his stories and his LEGO creations are intricate, he finds pleasure in simple things, and the whole world knows when he is amused.  Joy number two.

Eleven-year-old boy.  I see him seeking out the little boys at church, letting them hang on and pummel him.  He begs for a baby brother;  but while he is waiting for God to give him that, he embraces his role as big brother to five sisters.  In school, he struggles only against his desire for perfection.  Learning comes easily to him, and I am glad.  He loves to hear, “I love you,” and always says it back.  He might even let me hug him.  Joy number three.

Nine-year-old girl.  This beauty is a fascinating blend of her father’s athleticism and her mother’s introverted mind.  His singing voice, my book addiction.  Her insanely thick hair gives me vain pride, and her nurturing attitude makes me smile.  She still climbs into my short lap, with her long legs, for a snuggle.  On the brink of adolescence, tears come more easily to her now; and while I know that the coming years may be filled with emotional upheaval, I’m excited for what we’ll get to share.  Joy number four.

Seven-year-old girl.  I see her big smile – teeth overcrowding her little mouth – and freckled nose, and can’t help but smile back.  Her laugh is at times a guffaw, and so contagious.  She’s usually included in the “big kid” activities, but she’ll also take the lead with the younger kids, engaging them in a tea party or block-building marathon.  When doing chores, she does more than is required of her, without complaining.  Her servant heart is emerging.  Joy number five.

Six-year-old girl.  We call her “Brutus.”  Since she was a baby, she has come at life with a great force and boundless energy, sometimes trampling those in her way.   She stubbornly refuses help when she’s reading, often books that are beyond her ability, and just makes up words when she is stumped.  The results are pretty hilarious.  She is fearless, and thinks she can do it all.  Even her rascally escapades exude creativity and ingenuity.  Joy number six.

Four-year-old girl.  Her fake-looking eyelashes are ridiculously beautiful on a child, and her eyes captivate me.  Four is a fun age, filled with curiosity, drama, and rapid learning.  She speaks with a bit of a lisp.  She admires the older boys in her life….brothers, cousins, and friends of theirs.  They can usually tolerate her hanging on their arm or putting their name in a song, because she is so adorable.  I think she forgot how to walk, because she seems to leap or skip wherever she goes.  Joy number seven.

Three-year-old girl.  She will be three in one week, but it seems like she’s already been three for months.  I’m not one to rush through life’s stages, but she has been a very articulate two-year-old.  We crack up daily at her observations and explanations of  life.  Her snuggles lift my spirit immediately.  If you’ve never had a toddler bury their face in your neck while patting your back as you embrace, I highly recommend it.  Even her fake tantrums (“fake” because she’s not really upset), with her arms folded and an exaggerated pout on her face, fill my heart to the brim.  Joy number eight.

I could write for days about both the trials and the joys of motherhood.  But the Lord has brought these joyful moments to the forefront for me….like one of those trippy hidden pictures that were all the rage in the ’90’s.  You’re looking at a crazy, swirling, confusing, and frustrating mess.  Then all of a sudden, you see it.  The picture seems to magically rise to the surface.  And I realize……children are the best medicine.

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That’s Not My Calling

Once in a while, I hear homeschooling referred to as a “calling.”  It perplexes me.  I’ve never, ever thought of it that way.  I’m always a bit intrigued as to why someone would see it that way, when to me, it’s just one of a thousand parenting decisions I’ve had to make along the way.  So I looked it up.

Calling.  Vocation, profession, or trade.  (dictionary.com)  By that definition, I suppose homeschooling could be a calling.  It’s definitely a vocation, i.e., a job.  I’m teaching my children for several hours per day, plus grading, planning, testing, shopping, etc.

A strong impulse or inclination.  (dictionary.com)  Yes, it fits here, too.  I always knew I would homeschool my children.  I received a good education through public school up until high school.  I chose to switch to homeschooling for both academic and social reasons.  The familial benefits were not a factor initially, but definitely became apparent after the fact.  So yes, I would say I had a strong inclination toward homeschooling my own children.

But these are both secular definitions.  “I was called to ….” takes on a whole new depth of meaning when spoken by a Christian.  It’s more spiritual in nature.  “Calling” becomes Christianese…..one of those words that potentially confuses and turns off unbelievers and Christians alike.  So what does this special version of “calling” mean?

Calling.  The God-appointed vocation of a Christian. (Wikipedia Glossary of Christianity)  This definition implies that God spoke to you, through one of the many ways that He does, and put forth a special request on your life.  Something specific to your gifts and talents and passions.

Some would still say, even by this hyper-spiritualized definition, that homeschooling is a calling.  I disagree; and here’s why.

If you are a parent, it is your responsibility to train and educate your child.  That is biblical, moral, and logical.  All parents must decide how they will go about that.  They may choose to send their children to a public or private school to be educated.  Responsible parents who choose those options will still be involved by getting to know the teachers, helping with homework, and familiarizing themselves with the curriculum being used.  (Side note:  In public school, I had mostly decent teachers, a few amazing ones, and a couple of duds.  Don’t settle for a dud!)

Other parents will choose to educate their children themselves, taking on the full responsibility.  Some will do this for their child’s entire academic career, and others will utilize public or private schools at some point.  In any case, we are each responsible for the education of our children.

I did not choose homeschooling for my children because I felt called by God to do it.  I chose it because I felt it was the most favorable of educational choices.  I had to make a decision about how to educate my children, and I made it.  Other parents view the same options and decide that sending their child to school is the most favorable choice.  Are they “called” to do this?  I think most would say they simply made a choice.

This post is not about homeschooling, though.

Who cares if we label something a “calling” or not?  Does it matter how we categorize our decisions?  In contemplating this, I tried to think of what my calling in life is.  I don’t mean my purpose….I know that my purpose in life is to love God and to love others.  I don’t mean my job…..my job is to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children, raising them by the grace of God to adulthood.  I honestly have never had the experience of a spiritual calling to any specific choice, ministry, or vocation.  What if I had waited for it?

If I’d waited to be “called” to have children.

If I’d waited to be “called” to homeschool.

If I’d waited, as a non-crafty and very shy mama,  to be “called” to plan and teach crafts to fellow moms in my MOPS group.

If I’d waited to be “called” to serve in children’s ministry at my church.

If I’d waited to be “called” to use my writing to glorify my God.

The bottom line is that if I’d waited to be supernaturally “called,” I would have missed out.  I’d have missed out on so much blessing, so much grace, so much learning, and so much joy.

I’m not trying to minimize the impact of a true “being called” experience.  I know many who have had these specific moments in their lives.  But I don’t believe that all of God’s work comes about in this way.  It often comes more quietly, in the seemingly unremarkable decisions we have to make.  It comes in the service we give out of a sense of obligation, which then blesses us like we never expected.  It comes through the natural progression of God’s plan for life, and marriage, and families.

I encourage you to not miss out on God’s best for you by saying, “that’s not my calling.”