Friday, March 6, 2015

The Hidden Years

   We got ready to leave for our trip and I made the decision not to take the laptop.  Not really a decision made out of respect for my family but more along the lines of..  we are already packing for six people and that's one more thing to keep up with.  So I committed to four days of disconnection.  Other than posting photos on instagram from my hubby's phone for my mom and sister to see, I was disconnected..  no blog, no email no social media..  just me and my little family.
  Although vacations can be hard for Mom's with small kids, even the hardest parts are relaxing.  I spent four days without cooking a meal, making a bed, or cleaning up any big messes.  We watched television while we ate , and didn't spend long on hair and makeup.  For the most part, I spent watching.  This really caught my heart.

   The first picture was taken when we went to Gatlinburg in 2013.  The next was this trip.  How, in the whole world..  did that boy go from that...  to that, in such a short amount of time?  I watched Hudson intently, because it just surprised me SO much how much he had grown up..  how fast he had grown up, in such a short amount of time.  I remember that last trip, we walked around the Titanic and he whined because he didn't want to be there.  This time he intently looked at the exhibits.  Last time he was horrified of the pool and stayed in the kiddie pool.  This time, he put his arm floats on and swam by himself for most of the time.  Last time, Hudson was the difficult one, lol..  this time, his brother was!

   I can't believe how much they change, in such a short amount of time..

Not even two years has gone by....  but they have changed...

So fast...

    Awhile back, I wrote a post by Sarah Mae called The Hidden Years...  and at that time it resonated in my heart, but not like it did this weekend.  She talked about 10 years, and how fast it passes by...

   In 10 years..  Lacey will be 23.  Callie will be 18.  Hudson, 16.  Sawyer, 11.  In 10 years, in the blink of an eye.  They will be big kids, and I'll be 41.  

   What I noticed this week was profound.  I noticed that if you blink...  they change.
   I noticed that time goes by so fast, and that they change from day to day.  
   I noticed that when I focused my energy on myself and my thoughts, feelings, frustrations, etc...  that the frustration poured out over my family, and in essence, could make or break us.  
  I noticed that I had spent more time writing 'about' parenting, home schooling, etc...  than I had focusing on it.  
   Ouch.  That one hurt.  
   I suppose to those readers I had, on the outside it looked pretty good, like I had it all together.  The thing is, that's where my heart was.  Not in my life, but in sharing my life.  I was consumed in what it looked like on the outside, what I had to offer the world and broadcast to others so much, that although I had a lot of head knowledge about what was going on, my heart wasn't in it.  My heart was focused intently on me and my own personal endeavors, not on my children.  
   My whole family.
   Guys, I have learned SOOO much about parenting.  I have read so many good books, connected with so many great bloggers, and I've been blessed abundantly in my endeavors on blogging.  Yet, at the same time, although I've read a lot, what I've had to say has taken a lot out of me.  Not that I don't enjoy blogging and still intend to do so!  BUT- I want to do so on a much smaller scale.  No more linky parties or advertising..  just, sharing.  Here with the followers and friends and small communities I'm a part of.  I want to share this with you, because I can't say it better than Sally Clarkson said it..  

Toddlers resist and we gently train them over and over again. Siblings quarrel and we teach them the ways of love, forgiveness, patience, kind words. Then there are the teen years when young adults strain to become independent and mamas have to choose to be long-suffering and pursue in love.

Year after weary year, we teach them about God’s ways, His love. We subdue our homes again and again to make them a haven for life–filled with color, beauty, interest, traditions, even as God created the Garden, gave His children instruction through the Law, provided them with a land, gaven them food and protection against an army.

We labor day after day, month upon month, seeking Him to give more wisdom, renewed strength when we feel to weary to keep going. But somehow, His spirit shapes us as we shape a generation for His glory. And we are able to take one more step of obedience and pour out His unconditional love and wisdom to children who are not always aware of our sacrifice, until they are older. Yet, the seeking to give wisdom, excellence and holiness to our children builds our own souls, one day, one moment at a time. Our holiness matures and our hearts become flavored with His beauty, graciousness through each act of our own obedience given in the quiet and seclusion of our own home.

Often, we think that no one sees us, no one notices. How could it matter if we are invisible?

But, God is watching. God is building an invisible heritage that will indeed outlast our lives.

God painted the picture of patience, waiting, faithfulness through all of our years colorfully through the stories of so many in scripture:

Joseph had a dream of leading his brothers where they bowed down to him. But the training grounds of his becoming the head over all of Egypt was hard labor for a land owner, where he was accused wrongly of adultery. Then 10 more years being faithful in prison.

David was anointed to become the king of all Israel, but did not become king over both kingdoms for around 20 years of wondering in the wilderness, running away in battle after battle.

Abraham was called the Father of all Israel and promised countless generations would come from his own son, but had to wait until he was old before He became a Father of a son, who would make him the Father of the Nation Israel.

Paul was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus, but he was secluded away for 15 years before he had a public ministry.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was called and then lived faithfully for many, many years, only to watch her son be crucified, but then resurrected.

When I was asked to speak in China, a number of years ago, because Mission of Motherhood had been translated into the two Chinese languages, I gladly accepted. Picturing speaking in a small underground church of some sort, I prepared messages to speak to a small group of faithful believers. However, the first place I was taken by my Chinese hosts was to an auditorium of 500, packed to the gills, at the University of Beijing.

As I looked around, I realized that all of my Chinese cohorts on stage had graduated from either Harvard or MIT. In fear, I pondered in my heart, “What am I doing here? Do they know I am just an ordinary person, a mom who has homeschooled, raised her children as best I could for His glory, and cared for my children in my home for the past 26 years.”

God whispered into my heart. “I was building your message and integrity and conviction in the hidden places of your home while you raised your children. Your integrity was built in the hidden years. Now, you are qualified to speak on family, the importance of motherhood, building character, because your messages were built before me when no one else saw, but I was there.”

“I planned China before you even became a mom.”

“China needs someone to tell them how to value families, children, the shaping of morality, the foundations of wisdom and greatness that must be built one day at a time. Who better to train them than a mother who has raised her family on faith, Biblical wisdom and love. You are qualified because I have called you and you obeyed, by raising your children faithfully when it seemed no one was watching.”

My messages and life-conviction and wisdom was built in the hidden years.

And so, who you are, the choices of faith and faithfulness you make,when no one is looking, is a picture of your integrity.

The choices of faith and love in the midst of the whirlwind of life, is shaping your story, moment by moment, day by day. Never despise the day of small things because it is the shaping of your life story that will be told for generations to come.

The value of the hidden years is priceless. Now, this moment, is the day of your potential glory, if you practice being faithful and worship Him through each tiny service of loving and raising your precious ones for the sake of His glory.

May God give you the grace to see His fingerprints in your life, the shadow of His presence in every minute of your eternal work in your home. For today is the day you are writing your story, that your children will read for many years to come.

   As I prayed about this, I began to realize that was what God was trying to teach me all along.  He wasn't interested for one second about how my life looked on the outside.  He didn't care what all of my other Mommy friends thought about what my life was.  All the struggles I have had with social networking, with blogging, it was all the same.  It somehow took root in my people pleasing nature, and twisted my life around it so I would be all consumed with what our lives looked like, to the point that I lost touch with what it was really like.  

   It was a significant time for my husband and I both.  For awhile now, we have felt the need to force ourselves into the ministry.  This is what he was ordained to do, God called him to preach, and he hasn't done so in months.  It's draining.  It seemed worthless for a preacher not to preach, to spend time day in and day out at a secular job, while all around us we saw preachers preaching, doing what God called them to do!  We were frustrated, and blamed it on our past.  Perhaps our past kept us from serving, and that's what we needed to change.  Leaving, running away.  It was frustrating however, because nothing felt right.  Nowhere we wanted to run too really grabbed our hearts, nowhere seemed 'right', it wasn't God..  it was us.  Perhaps God will call him to preach somewhere next week, but then again, it could be years from now.  He could be using him as his waiting time at this point.  He could be using this time in his life solely to shape the lives of our children, as he is with me.  I don't know what God has in mind...  but I'm tired of trying to force him to make a quick decision and force it on us.  I'm willing to wait, be still, and be thankful.  This is a blessing, this part of our lives.. its beautiful, its fruitful, and its something I'm so excited about living.  
  Today I got a text from my husband.  It said, simply...  "Love you today.  I am refreshed and ready to serve in this season of my life."  It made me smile, it made my heart smile..  and just blessed me and made me ready for this season as well.
   These years may be hidden.  Nobody may even know I exist anymore..  but that's okay.  Because these years will shape not only me, but a generation of four people.  Four people who will have four spouses.  Four people who will have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  This work can shape and touch the lives of SO many people.  So for me to think that this season of my life is insignificant is a lie.  It is SO significant.  It it my legacy.  Its the most important thing I will ever do in my life, and God has given me an opportunity to do it to my fullest, and I'm SO thankful for that!  
I want to teach and influence and encourage moms one day, but I don’t just want to relate with them, I want to have something of substance to offer them that will help them practically. I want to be a woman of integrity who will speak from the experience of a mom who did the hard work of bringing up her children with intention and faithfulness.

I just don’t want to compromise.

There are so many voices out there that will give permission to compromise in motherhood, and it is alluring and it sounds really good, but I can’t. I am all in to go after my children’s hearts and their behavior. I want to love them practically; I want them to have me available. -Sarah Mae

  I often have to remind myself that the internet and social media is a fairly new medium.  Facebook has only been around about eleven years, blogging about 20..  so I must ask myself..  how much does this generation know of how their media habits will affect their children?  Never before have we raised a children in a world of social media on steroids. The babies who have grown up on facebook aren't adults, and I must wonder how awkward that must be for them?  Several people out there have done it right, but they didn't navigate a connected world.  It was okay to be hidden, because..  well- everybody was!  Now in this world, we must compete to remain hidden, to allow our hearts to rest securely...  its a battle, and one I'm willing to fight...  because 10 years goes by so fast, and they grow up in the blink of an eye!