Archive for Biblical Defense

Don’t Despise the Small Things

Photo Credit: Mindy Rainey Creative

Photo Credit: Mindy Rainey Creative

Last month, in studying Zechariah, I was struck by 4:10, “whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice,” referring to the less-ostentatious temple that the returned exiles were building to replace Solomon’s temple.  We’re told that the old men cried at how underwhelming it seemed compared to the first one, but God reminded His people that He was the source of glory in a temple of any size.  I think 21st century mothers are just as likely as the ancient Jews to forget that God doesn’t care about the size or prestige of the task he sets us to do–and that He gives joy in little tasks as well as big ones.

What “small things” are we tempted despise today?  Children, first of all, in their maddening, needy, life-changing array.  Having four children in a short time has forced me to die to myself, daily.  Since breaking my foot this summer, I’ve developed an aversion to having small children crawling all over me.  Naturally, my two youngest girl’s cuddle needs have gone through the roof this fall.  I’d gotten used to accepting the broken plates, the perpetually messy living room, the early morning wake-ups, and wiping vomit out of carseats.  They went with the territory of parenthood.  Now I’m having to make the conscious decision, dozens of times a day, not to shove away wiggly little girls whose fight for the best spot on my lap may indeed end up with someone crashing into my still-tender foot.  I didn’t realize I had an anger problem until I had children, and I didn’t realize how often I yelled until I’ve had contractors working in my house for hours every day, overhearing everything I say to my children and the tone of voice I use to say it.  While I am a “kid person” who nannied and taught grade school before having my own, I can understand how even ones’ own precious children can irritate you.  This fall and winter, two friends have spent long, tough times in the hospital with children–one for major, years-long health reasons, and the other as the result of a vicious dog attack that may leave her paralyzed.  There’s nothing like praying constantly for these little girls to remind me to be grateful for the health and safety and existence of mine!  If you find yourself despising your children, spend some time talking to or praying for a parent with sick or hurting kiddos.  It will put everything into perspective.

What else do we despise?  The simple acts of childcare–diaper changing, reading aloud with a couple children on my lap and a couple more leaning over to see the pictures, fixing sandwiches to order (I do not cater to my kids’ every whim, but I do let them pick their lunch from the available options), being there to praise the artist’s new picture, to redress the dolly, to brush out the doll’s or toddler’s hair for the dozenth time in a day, listening to a little girl’s glee over the game she was playing with her big sister, finding the right station on Pandora so my aspiring ballerina can put on an unrehearsed and monotonous show, kissing the preschooler’s hand after the neighbor boy accidentally hit it with his light saber and assuring her that she’s not really a bad guy, wiping up runny noses, pulling the two year old out of the living room melee to make her sit and try to use the potty, helping the big kids learn the next verse to the song they liked so much at church, deciphering what they’re trying to tell me as I brush their teeth, finding the ever-important blankies in their upstairs hiding place so that everyone downstairs can go to sleep comfortably–they filled my day, and yet I told my husband when he came in from work that “I had gotten nothing done today.”  Sure, lots is still unpacked, and I haven’t hung any pictures on the walls, but to say that I accomplished nothing today is to despise the extremely worthwhile work of mothering I did all day.  My pastor preached yesterday on how joy is something we have to resolve to fight for.  I resolve to take joy in caring for my children this year.

Of course, we can often feel oppressed from outside sources, too.  I’m the only SAHM in our new neighborhood, and it feels that my vocation of motherhood is more insignificant and despised than ever.  Two new moms with whom I’m very close have decided to leave their babies behind while they continue on with not-financially-necessary careers.  When friends I thought were like-minded reject my positions on childhood and motherhood, it’s demoralizing.  If you, too, are feeling worn down and discouraged, you are not the only one.  I found great encouragement last week in a phone date with an old friend.  If you don’t have anyone to talk to, email me your info, and I’ll call you!  I hope that you, dear readers, who share our commitment to being everything to the little someones God put in our lives, will know that Anna and Bethany and I are rooting for you.  You are not alone, and while the rest of us may not see your work, remember that God does, and whatever you are doing to the least of these you are doing to Him.

May your 2016 be filled with joy in the precious “small things” of your life.

Posted in Biblical Defense, Home Life, Importance of Mothers | 1 Comment

Identity and Motherhood, Part 2

Identity and Motherhood series

The place where I most frequently hear the word “identity” in discussions with moms is in discussing their work. Usually, the comment is something along the lines of this:

I love my kids, but I love my job too. If I quit work to stay home with my kids, I would lose my identity.

As Christian women, we should never think that our identity is tied up with our job, whether it is outside the home or in it. As Emily mentioned Monday, we are adopted children of God the Father. That’s our identity. Thinking about it Biblically, “who we are, deep-down-inside,” is actually a pretty ugly picture. Deep down, we’re all sinners who have broken the law of God. There is nothing about who we really are that is redeeming, or something we would want to talk about.

The primary identity that the Bible is concerned with is whether you are in Christ or apart from Christ. In Galatians 3, Paul tell us that in Christ,

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And in Ephesians 2, we read,

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

If the Bible is not concerned with identity the way we think of it today, what exactly should we be concerned with? Ephesians 2 continues a few sentences later with this:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

We should be concerned with the work God has given us to do. We have been created for good works.

What does that mean for moms? If you have children, the work that you have to do is there. The amount of physical and emotional attention that children need could keep us busy 24 hours a day. We do not need to go looking for good works–they will come and find us. We’ve spent a lot of time here talking about the need for mothers to stay home with their children, instead of letting somebody else raise them. This is part of the good work. I wish my babies had been born with a card that read, “I am your good work for the next eighteen years.”

Do moms have outside interests? Absolutely. Do they have skills and talents that they could be using well in the working world? Absolutely. But is there any work that is better or more important than your children? Absolutely not.

As moms, we should never talk about losing our identity to raise our children. Our identity is secure. What we should talk about is letting go of our dream jobs to stay home with our children, and the process of sanctification that that works within our souls.

Posted in Biblical Defense, Philosophy of Motherhood | 1 Comment

Identity and Motherhood, Part 1

Identity and Motherhood seriesIt’s been quite the summer at our house.  I broke a bone in my foot (on a toy!) at the end of June, re-broke it two weeks later, and have been out of commission now for six weeks and counting. As a homemaker who derives great satisfaction from doing my job well, it has been so humbling to let go of pretty much all of that job description.  Grocery shopping?  Taken over by friends and husband.  Cleaning?  My kids have done their best, but I’ve had to call in professionals twice.  Menu planning and cooking?  We’re eating whatever my friends from church bring us.  Laundry?  My husband and son are trying to keep up.  Running my kids to swimming lessons, sports camps, and any other activities?  I’ve hired babysitters multiple times a week to do the driving for me.  Gracious hostessing?  We’ve had house guests three times who all basically ended up waiting on me.  As I told my husband one day in a fit of tears, I feel like this piece of dead weight in the family, unable to push through the pain and get my normal work done because even bearing weight on my foot would prolong, if not restart, the healing process.

How timely this all was to me.  Because this week, Anna and I are starting a blog series on identity, womanhood, and motherhood.  This spring, as we explored reasons moms go back to work, we skipped the most common one we hear, something along the lines of work providing an identity and meaning in their lives that they didn’t have staying home with their kids.  I don’t think I fully wrapped my mind around this reasoning until everything I do in my life was stripped away to “just” being with my kids.  I can’t cook, clean, organize, or exercise, so as I sit on the couch for yet another week, I’m really having to look at who I am aside from what I do.  With the amount of yelling I’ve been doing this summer, I’m not the biggest fan of myself at the moment.  My competence at homemaking and the more-active aspects of mothering tended to overshadow my innate selfishness.  Is this impatient mother who I really am?

Thank God that the most important part of my identity has nothing to do with my actions.  I’m a daughter of the King, saved by grace through faith, the wages of my sin paid in full by the free gift of Christ’s blood shed for me.  The discipline of scripture memory 15 years ago with Anna and our college accountability group is still bearing fruit in my life as the verses we memorized come to mind just when I need them.  Here are a few more descriptions that remind me of who I am in Christ:

Those things are true of me, whether I’m spending the day on the couch or whether I’m checking off my long list of homemaking tasks.  And they’re true for any Christian woman, earning a paycheck or working quietly in her home, lauded by the world or criticized for “wasting her IQ” on her children, feeling super productive or totally unfruitful.

Posted in Biblical Defense, Philosophy of Motherhood | 2 Comments

Let the Children Come

teeLast week I promised to talk more about Jesus’ attitude about children.

First of all, Jesus came to earth as a helpless baby; He grew for 9 months in a poor girls’ womb and was born at an inconvenient time for His earthly family.  The Incarnation should provoke many responses in us, not the least of which should be awe for the dignity of the lowliest newborn baby.  Jesus spit up, soiled diapers, needed to be fed and rocked and potty trained.  If it was noble for Mary to do this, how is it ignoble for you and I to do the same things?

Jesus always interacted with children in patience and love.  We see in the gospels that Jesus doesn’t have to be physically present with someone to heal them, yet when Jairus asks Him to heal his daughter, He follows him to his house, takes the little girl by the hand, and speaks to her to heal her saying, “Talitha cumi,” which means, Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (Mark 5:41)  I love the sweet intimacy of this story.

When the disciples argue about who among them is the greatest (in Mark 9), He says,

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”  (Mark 9:35-37)

The most familiar passage to most of us, of course, is in Mark 10:13-16:

And they were bringing children to Him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.

Did you know that this is the only passage in the gospels where Jesus is said to be indignant?  That’s food for thought, isn’t it!  Jesus hugged kids, blessed them, touched them, and said His kingdom belonged to such as them.  In a culture where children were often seen as possessions, little better than slaves, Jesus was indignant when His followers hindered the children from coming to sit on His lap.  His words and actions proclaim that, in the words of the old Sunday School song, “they are precious in His sight./ Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Our society is in many ways child-centric, but in other ways, we don’t value kids any more than first century Jews and Romans.  We’ll run our kids to a million activities every night of the week so that all will admire our dedication to our kids’ dreams (and their talent, which obviously reflects well on us).  We don’t allow them to get bored (because we fear that sitting around the house all day would be boring for us).  We work longer hours to make a little more money, which we insist gives our kids more opportunities, more toys, more fancy vacations, never stopping to consider that maybe they’d enjoy us joining them to play with the legos they already have more than getting the fancy new lego set.  We say that we’re devoted to our children, but our timecards tell a different story.  We come home late, feed our children a late dinner, put them to bed late, and rouse them at the crack of dawn to be on time for daycare and work.

How often are we willing to put our adult agenda aside to just cuddle a little child on our lap, as Jesus did?  What in the world do we think is more important in life than leading our children to Him?  What are we doing in our lives that could hinder them in that?  Jesus knew that His time on earth was short–just three years of public ministry.  Instead of maximizing His political impact by initiating urban ministry and focusing on the rich and powerful, He is recorded time and time again as leaving the crowds to minister to the poor, blind, crippled, outcasts, racially unclean, worthless, and children. God’s economy is upside-down from ours.  Service to the least of these is service to Him.  As mothers, our time with our little ones is also short.  What a privilege we have to follow Christ’s example as servant leaders!  Let’s strive to emulate Him in our interactions with the little children He has put in our lives.

And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Posted in Biblical Defense, Having It All, Philosophy of Motherhood | 2 Comments
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