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Sometimes, there is pain in surrendering your life to Jesus…but after the pain in surrender comes the joy in surrender. When you give it all to Him, and obey His whisper, you’ll experience His Joy!
There is a way to have a healthy relationship with your past…your future…and your present! The purpose of your past is to look back and find the fingerprint of God. The purpose of your future is to trust God…He’s been to your future…and it’s GOOD! The purpose of the present is to wring the joy out of it…find the joy in each moment…THIS is the day the Lord has made!
Last week I read an article in the Huffington Post that deeply troubled me. You can read the article here “Grown and Flown” written by Lisa Endlich Heffernan.
Truthfully, in retrospect, what troubled me about Lisa’s article was the fact that she has chosen to live in a place of long-term regret. I believe that as a healthy woman, it is important that when one looks back over one’s life what is most easily and vibrantly seen are those things that stir up gratitude and thankfulness. And so my heart breaks for Lisa and for the sadness that fills her soul simply because she chose to stay at home with her children.
I know that the conflicting opinions between stay at home moms and working moms create a volatile issue among women today and truly it is not in my heart to make anyone feel guilty over their parenting choices. I chose to stay home and I am glad that I did. The sacrifice that my husband and I made financially still impacts our lives during our empty nest years and I turned down many prestigious and exciting career opportunities. But if I had it to do over, I would do it again. And again and again and again.
However, I am also wise enough to know that not many women are able to stay at home all day every day while their children are growing up.
My heart breaks for single moms who would love to stay home but can’t.
My heart breaks for women whose husbands are underemployed or have lost their jobs and so these women must leave their children under the care of others for 40 or more hours a week.
My heart aches for young widows who must provide food on the table, medical insurance and the monthly mortgage payments alone.
Unfortunately, we live in a two-income world and in order for a family to have any financial latitude or stability at all, many women are forced to work outside the home.
I know all of these things … and this is what I want to say from the heart of a mother whose children are now healthy adults pursuing with passion and focus the dreams that are within their magnificent hearts.
Spend as much time with your children as you can. If you must work outside the home, then give up other things that would take you away from quality and quantity of time with your children. Rather than going to the gym 5 nights a week … go during your lunch hour so that the evening hours are times of reading books, playing games and snuggling. Rather than going to Weight-Watchers, book club and making coffee dates with friends, have people in your home and make it a family night.
Always remember that love to a child is spelled T-I-M-E.
If at all possible, during the pre-school years, work only part-time or not at all. Habits are developed, character is set, self-esteem is created and home values are established during the important pre-school years. No one will do the job that you, the mother, will do. No one can take your place … not a daycare … not a nanny … and not even a wonderful grandmother. Do not underestimate the importance of a leisurely morning of homemade pancakes, followed by an hour of reading books and snuggling on the couch and then time spent together making messy crafts and singing silly songs. These years will never come again so wring the joy and purpose out of each one.
If you must work due to extenuating circumstances, don’t spend one day in guilt but joyfully give everything you have and everything you are to your children when you are together. Make every week-end a time of celebration and love. This does not necessarily mean spending wads of money. Your meaningful and delightful time together can include making cookies, going for walks, doing crafts, reading books, going to the library, planting a summer garden, blowing bubbles, making snow angels, counting the stars and a thousand other activities that just say, “We’re together!”
Re-evaluate your spending habits and financial goals to see if you can lessen the hours spent away from home. If you are working in order to go to Disney World, buy a boat or live in the lap of luxury … think again. Your kids want you more than they want designer clothes, $1,000 birthday parties or colossal Christmases. They want you.
When you are together, try to lay aside the computer, your phone, the iPad and anything else that makes your child feel unimportant in your life. Focus on your child’s dear face, their precious and creative words, the inflection in their sweet voices and the heart they are offering to you, their mom. Today’s e-mail, twitter and Facebook posts are rubbish in comparison to the soul of your growing child.
Whether you work 40 hours a week at a prestigious job, 20 hours a week at a mediocre job or stay at home all day long, know that the gift of parenting is unequalled in importance or in prestige. Remind yourself that your career does not equal self esteem, your income does not define your importance and the demands of a boss are not nearly as important as birthday parties, ball games and ballet recitals. Make choices based upon long-term investment in your family rather than the short-term clamor of today. When you are with your children during those precious hours, whether long or short, give them your whole heart and attention.
Parenting is not easy but it is worth it! When my children were small, I used to love to mow the grass. I would beg Craig, my husband, to let me mow our acre yard every week from April – November. He would stay inside with the children and I would sweat with delight as I pushed our lawn mower through the weeds and grass that filled our yard. I have figured out in these latter years, that the reason I loved mowing the lawn so much is because I saw immediate results. I could look behind me and see exactly where I had been and the difference that my sweat and woman-power had made. Parenting is not like that. As a mother, you sweat, push, walk, pull, talk, encourage, scold, exhort and rarely see an immediate result. However, in the long haul of parenting, you are making a difference.
You are today raising the ones who will change history tomorrow.
You are raising the dreamers, the doers, and the doctors of the next generation. You are raising presidents, authors, pastors, thinkers, mothers and worship leaders. You are raising men and women who will live on in history because of your impact.
You are fixing the mistakes of our generation by raising the next with honor and integrity.
You are splashing a dark and ruined world with the miraculous legacy fashioned by a stable home and of parents who were engaged in the lives of those whom they treasured the most.
Whether you work 40 hours a week or have been given the delightful opportunity to be a stay at home mom, value the lives of those whom you have created by an act of love. Their lives will never develop well without you and you will never become the person you were meant to be without them.
Many people create a “Bucket List”…a list of fun things to do before they leave this earth. I want to encourage you to write a “Destiny List”! There are things that God wants YOU to do, at this time in history, that cannot be done by anyone else…
Do you feel like you are constantly trying to keep up with your daily “to do” list? Are you feeling stressed out? Listen to Carol’s latest video blog as she shares a classic Bible story and helps us understand how to get “the good part” out of our day…
That was the name of my first book … “The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart”.
What a profoundly safe title for a book that truly was geared toward comforting, yet in a gentle way challenging, the heart of grown-up girls! It just made me feel all fuzzy inside. Secure.
However, it was after writing my first book that I discovered that I am not a safe Christian. I am a peaceful Christian but I do not dally in the mundane world of “safe”.
I am not talking about my salvation … my salvation is safe. Immovable. Eternal. Solid. Irrevocable.
I am talking about the way I live out my life in Christ. I don’t want safe. I want what Paul had.
Shipwrecks because of passionately desiring to make hell smaller and heaven bigger.
Jail cells because no one can keep me quiet when it comes to Christ.
Beatings because of a passionate resistance to the mediocrity and sin of a heathen culture.
Because that is who I am. I am a Christian who defies her circumstances with the joy of His presence.
I am not rebellious but I am defiant.
When it comes to the Gospel, I am humbly obedient and daily ache for more of Him. My heart bows lovingly and longingly at everything that He is and every Word that He speaks.
However … when it comes to fulfilling the call of God on my life and ultimately dealing with the culture … it is then that this formerly fuzzy girl becomes fierce.
There are some days when you actually might feel that an appropriate description of how I live my life would be more accurately described as violent. And, if you do use “violent” to describe me, I would consider it a high compliment.
These are the words that Jesus spoke to His culture while He was living on planet earth, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” – Matthew 11:12
Every generation needs a John the Baptist … a Daniel … an Esther or a Paul. Every generation is crying out for men and women who are not silenced by the culture or by the call of mediocrity. Every generation of believers is defined by their willingness to be defiant. To be fierce. Even … to be violent.
I will not lay down or burn out. I will not cave in nor will I compromise. I am fiercely determined to fulfill the call of God upon my life at this time in history. Fiercely. Defiantly. Violently.
I will not cross my finish line rusty but I will cross that line bruised, sweaty and violently victorious!
One of my friends says that she is so dangerous to the domain of darkness that her face is on a wanted poster in hell. I want to live like that!
Now … let’s talk about you.
If you were to write a book, what would it’s title be?
Because you are writing a book with your life. The book of your life may never be published by a traditional publishing company … but the story of your life is read every day by the people with whom you come in contact. What kind of story have you written?
Will the story of your life be a passionate response to the cause of Christ? Or will it be a vanilla and lazy retelling of the life stories of thousands of others who chose safe rather than fierce?
If someone were to use an adjective to describe your life, what would that word be?
I want to live so violently that hell shakes with terror every time my feet hit the floor in the morning.
I want to live with a reckless abandon for the sake of the Call. The One Call. The Only Call.
I will be fiercely faithful and defiantly joyful as I serve my God at this time in history.
My call is to convince you that you, too, are called to live a life of extraordinary significance and violent choices.
If you are raising a child at this time in history … then raise a champion!
If you are working in the marketplace … then make it a mission field!
If you have free time on your hands … then enter the battlefield of intercession!
If you have abundance … then give generously and without reserve so that others may know your Savior!
There is no excuse for not giving all that you have and all that you are so that others may know Him. It is why we live.
I live for a violent and fierce demonstration of His power and His glory being manifest through my life in even ordinary days.
And now, my friend … let me ask you this …
Why do you live?