Carlson Update – Sept. ’17 edition

I have never mailed a Christmas letter, which is maybe a #Momfail, but family updates at random intervals as they come to mind has been more my style…well, we will see, maybe this will be the year?! lol Here are a few updates for those of you who may be interested, and for my own memory-keeping. ❤

IMG_4417

Nels just celebrated his 35th birthday in Colorado while we were enjoying time away on our family vacation. ‘Vacation’ with 4 children, one of whom refuses to sleep away from home, is a sort of relative word, but it was refreshing to have a change of scenery and a week of time together. A highlight for all of us was a moose sighting in Rocky Mountain National Park! Nels also enjoyed taking the kids trout fishing and going hiking and visiting various mountain towns. He is in his third year at First Southern Baptist Church, being ‘Associate Pastor of Miscellaneous’ (Worship & Youth). As we looked back on his 34th year and its themes and events, we decided this was the “Year of the Pyrenees” as earlier this year Nels traded in some firearms for our two big, beautiful Great Pyrenees pups (that is true love).

Kaya, the leader of our sweet pack of kiddos, is 7 years old and in 2nd grade. She is a model student who has made our entry into homeschooling smoother than I could have hoped. Kaya (usually) loves sharing a room with baby sister Aspen, and she takes such great care of her, as “Mommy’s Right Hand.” Kaya is a reader, a nurturing soul, a music and worship-lover, a wild and free outdoorsy girl, and an outgoing, sweet friend to many. She’s excitedly preparing to accompany me to Guatemala next summer for a mission trip to a children’s home and so Spanish has been what she’s most excited about in school this year.

IMG_4487

Hudson will turn 6 next week. He has a special place in all of our hearts as the firstborn son and big brother – he is just adored by his siblings and parents. This is Hudson’s first “real” year of school, Kindergarten, and he has been so eager to learn to read, but math is what he looks forward to most each day. Hudson leaves a paper trail as he is always drawing – usually dragons, sometimes wild animals, and often sweet notes and scenes. We call him our “little scientist” and “little professor” because he has great attention for detail and is quite spacey at times as well. Hudson has really grown in the last year in his role as big brother and leader, caring tenderly for Aspen and helping his brother Ezra too.

Ezra – “I’m 4 years old and I already listen to God and Jesus and even my mom and dad!” Ezra randomly told me this as he was climbing into the car the other day. It made my heart so happy. All of our kids have been incredibly verbal (surprise, surprise), but especially little Ez. He constantly overflows with big, emotional, grandious statements, and often bursts out in spontaneous praise or prayer. His “faith like a child” has been a blessing to me. He loves somersaults, great shows of strength (!), building forts, playing with blocks and cars, and he always wants to watch a movie – and has a special knack for remembering lines and songs from his favorite movies. Our sweet towhead toddler is growing into such a fun boy.

IMG_4464

Aspen Raye (21 mo.) is our wild, cuddly, sparkly, sweet blue-eyed girl. She wants to do everything the “big kids” do, except for when it comes to eating everything on her plate and adhering to bedtime. In the last month she has started saying so many recognizable words that one of our new hobbies is being the first person to discover she has added something else to her vocabulary. She is one of the biggest challenges and the most wonderful joy of our days! She loves sitting on the kitchen counter and keeping me company while I’m working. She is such a sweet buddy, and I treasure her baby-companionship.

I have been stretched and enriched through the rigors of homeschooling 2nd grade and Kindergarten, with two little ones along too. I am loving running our home, though many days it looks like it is running me. 😉 My heart is longing for and missing my many friends back home and around the world, but God is helping me to put down roots and build friendships and community here in Hutchinson as well. I am learning more and more always about how to live well and whole-heartedly before the Lord. There are no easy days, but they are full and fruitful, and for that I am thankful.

I would love to hear updates from you and your family, sweet friends! ❤ What are you eager for this fall?

With love,

Jordan

Advertisements

To My Friends (Who Are High School SENIORS)

Happy Senior year 🙂

 

nicolas-barbier-garreau-286018

Photo by Nicolas Barbier Garreau on Unsplash

Adulthood feels good doesn’t it? Or, “almost adulthood” – if you prefer. It suits you.

I hope you’re excited, as you set out on a new adventure of finishing the course set before you and taking on new things. It’s okay if it’s bittersweet too – that means you’ve had a childhood to treasure. But as you walk with Jesus, each new challenge in life is a chance to know Him more and to grow in faith.

My senior year was just over 10 years ago! It feels like I am in a special place in my life, to look back on it – just being far enough from it to see it from a distance, like a hill not-too-far away, but still with many miles traversed. I’m far enough away that the hardships and the hurts have lost their sting, the stresses of senior year don’t raise my blood pressure, and the world has turned and for me, it’s changed profoundly. And I want to tell you what I see from here, looking back.

My senior year (and the year before/after) was mostly fun and games. Exciting “last” everything, special privileges as the oldest class in school, college visits and late nights considering various – and sometimes daunting – life plans, and spending so much time doing ridiculous things with some of my favorite people. The big looming question – “What’s next for you?” was asked hundreds of times by sweet friends and family…but even more in my own heart and mind. And I didn’t know. I couldn’t see very far ahead – certainly I never would’ve seen where I am now, or known to ask God for it.

But that’s the thing. You don’t have to see. You just walk with Jesus and take the next step.

Doors will close in your face, doors that you thought surely were the will of God for you! And it’s okay. It doesn’t necessarily mean you screwed up, or that you’re on the wrong path. Walk in faith, listening to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Read the Word of God! You may not have a transcendent moment when you suddenly know exactly what you were created to do. Some people have that moment, and if you do, that is beautiful. But for some of us, that vision comes in slowly (Habakkuk 2:3), you wait for it with patience and faith, and God gently leads you in the way you should go. Keep close and godly friends, and don’t run away from them if they call you out.

Maybe it’s stressful for you. Perhaps your parents are super vested in where you go to college, who you room with, what important thing you make of your life, or what lucrative career you’re heading towards. Maybe you are. Maybe all the options before you – options of how your life could go – are simply dizzying in all the variety and your lack of clear purpose. But let me tell you one thing that matters more than any of it –

Would you gain the whole world, but lose your soul?

In all of your considerations of what path to take, of what to do with your senior year and beyond, don’t rush your soul care. You can do the most menial job in the world, but if your soul is intact, is alive to God and others, you will have something much more precious than anything you can earn in this world.

Tend your soul. And then your plans, housing arrangements, jobs, degrees, families.

I have few regrets from my high school experience and early college. But the ones I do have are grievous to me, and they all have the same theme – there were times when I was unloving to the people in my life.

I haven’t really thought twice about the classes I should or shouldn’t have taken.

I haven’t been too affected by the embarrassing things I did/said (or at least they’ve faded somewhat!).

I still don’t care about what I wore to my graduation, and I hardly ever think of my GPA or ACT.

I have a million sweet memories, and I cherish them, and have let almost everything else go…

But I hate the memories of how I hurt people in my life.

I’d like to say, “Oh I was 17! What else are you going to do?!”

But if I could go back? There are just a few things I would change…and they all have to do with loving better.

I wish I was more loving to my mom. Senior years are hard on mamas.

I wish I was gentler with the people I was disappointed in, or hurt by, or needing space from.

I wish I had spent more time with my younger siblings, letting them know they mattered to me.

I wish I had treated people with more respect.

I wish I had thought more about how my actions would impact other people and their hearts.

I wish I had never drawn someone in, only to discard them when they weren’t useful to me any longer.

You’re not just “on the brink” of real life. You’re living it now. It matters now, and how you treat the people around you matters now, and it may even matter to you 10 years from now, for better or worse, like it matters to me. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

In 10 years you may have a class reunion. I hope you’ll be excited to see those people, to genuinely care about them, and how they are. To sense perhaps, whether their soul is vibrant and well.

I hope they’ll remember you as that loving, kind, patient, gentle classmate, who softened the hard world for them for just a bit.

And whatever you do with your “one wild and precious life,” do it with all your heart, for the glory of God. May His peace be yours, always.

Tend your soul, dear one.

❤ Jordan

Prayers for My Son

A few prayer- thoughts I wrote for Hudson yesterday after some date/errands together:

I pray that you will be troubled by injustice.

That you will have hope enough to work toward justice for the weak and hurting.

I pray that you will believe in your art, your creative ideas, and that you will pour yourself into them, as they might just open the eyes of someone to the wonder we know and love.

I pray that you’ll keep your silliness for a long, long time.

That your joy will run deep, flowing through even the driest times in your life.

I pray that you will learn to TREASURE the word of God, as his loving, good gift to you – as the pure, undefiled, blinding-light-Truth of heaven.

I pray that when you discover wickedness in your mind and heart, you’ll be disgusted, but you won’t try to hide. I pray you’ll face it, and ruthlessly expel every shadow of darkness, in Jesus’ name.

I pray that your eyes will always sparkle, illumined with mischief and love and new ideas.

You are my first born son. My heart’s joy and anxiety and thrill and tremble. May God protect you all of your days, and may you walk with him with peace inexplicable.

The Death of My Dream; the Birth of My Calling

For many people (including myself just less than a decade ago!), the birth of a child can be the death of a dream.

Having a new, small person in the world who is almost entirely dependent upon you for their well-being can certainly be a complicating ‘life factor’. Research is truly just beginning to show what seasoned mothers and grandmothers have known for generations (even if they haven’t been telling you): children need their mothers, and not just in infancy.

baby 1

Photo by Jenna Norman on Unsplash

This is no moderate inconvenience – becoming a mother is in many ways a radical redefinition of life, right down to your body chemistry. It’s an irreversible alteration, and for the Christ-following woman, it is also an enormous spiritual responsibility, and one that most just try to ‘squeeze in’ to their already full and overflowing lives.

I was married at 20, and gave birth to my first child exactly 9 months and 2 days later. When she gasped her first breath my heart ached for the beauty of our moment. I was shocked when we received her social security card in the mail. They sent this to us? They think we are responsible enough for this? As if ‘they’ had any say in the matter: the Lord had entrusted to us a gift.

I was delighted with my new little ‘accessory’ – this charming, darling little girl who would add a little sparkle to our life that would otherwise remain mostly the same – right? Her sweet birdie lips and apple cheeks thrilled us; but we were already happy and fulfilled, on a path toward ministry, chaplaincy, missions work, writing. Motherhood didn’t seem to quite ‘fit,’ but modern women can have it all – right?

As I began to live ‘normally’ again, I found that everything that had been normal to me was completely at odds with caring for my child in the way I began to realize that God was calling me to. When I wanted to ‘get my body back’ and work out the way I always had, my milk supply would dry up. When I packed our schedule full of activities and ministry while leaving no time for walks and baby’s nap and unstructured ‘face time’ hours, I had a profoundly fussy baby and a vague dissatisfaction and anxiety in my heart.

We had our second child not long after the first arrived, and while I was thrilled to celebrate my son, still I balked against the ‘new normal’ that God was calling me to, that I didn’t quite understand yet. I had my first serious season of post-partum depression, in part I believe, because I was racing back to normal, and not allowing myself or my baby to bond, rest, recover, enjoy. I ‘didn’t have time for sleepless nights’ and felt overwhelmed by a clingy baby who interrupted my life. How I wish I had known to slow, slow, slow down. If I could go back I wouldn’t push sleep schedules on him, I wouldn’t resent his need to be near. I would hold him and breathe deeper, and take more walks outside. God is a loving Father of redemption and restoration, and he turns the hearts of the children back to their parents, but it is a heart breaking thing to do wrong to your own beloved.

My son has been such a gift to me, and the more time I spend with him, the more the Lord speaks to me through him. Once we were out on a hike as a family when he was just shy of two. We were far from the city and it’s sights and sounds – but he suddenly stood up straight, with wide and bright eyes, and said “Train, mama!” His ear was so trained to the sounds of his favorite thing – trains – that he could hear it even faintly and from afar off. Instantly I was convicted that that was the way I wanted to hear from God – to be so trained and intent on hearing from him that I heard the faintest whisper in the distance if it was from that voice I loved.

Through this time it began to dawn on me that my children, my home and husband, were not just additional responsibilities on a very full plate. Perhaps, instead of being another responsibility, another fulfilling work – they were the work that God was calling me to.

At first that felt too small and quiet, like it wasn’t enough. Being ‘only’ a stay-at-home wife and mom felt confining, or maybe like a waste of an education and some of my unique ministry hopes and dreams. I grew up not wondering if I would go to college, but where? I wanted to do ‘big things’ – and I felt unsure about this new life path and if it could live up to the hype of my hopes.

But God in His great mercy began revealing to me what a crucial work it was, and what a beautiful thing it could be to devote my life to serving my family. Instead of wrestling to have it all and truly leading a fractured life, I could perhaps joyfully pour every ounce of energy, creativity, skill and talent that God gave me into being a mother and homemaker. This was incredibly freeing, as I suddenly felt relieved of the stressful Tetris-like game of trying to force the pieces of my life to fit. As I laid certain things down, I did feel the weight of others’ disappointments – even those that weren’t voiced (family, friends, professors – anyone that I suspected might be disappointed by my choices), but increasingly there was a deep conviction, shared with my husband, that God was the one to please, and I was seeing more clearly in His Word exactly what a Christian family could be.

I read in Titus 2 about the priorities for young women in the church, and how living rightly was actually adorning the Gospel of God. I felt the spiritual importance of raising my children up in a godly way, and was repeatedly drawn to the instruction of Deuteronomy 6. While I could perhaps keep trying to force my outside aspirations to work with the family God had given me, I began to feel like for me it would be extremely proud to think that I could accomplish all the lofty things God had challenged me with in his Word in just my ‘after-hours’ time. I thought I was called to many things, but here were God-given children right in front of me, with straight-forward instruction from the Bible about my life.

Through godly Christian writers and teachers like Sally Clarkson, I began to catch an enticing glimpse of what our home life could be: “Every day in each inch of space, each rhythm of time, each practice of love, we have the chance to join God in coming home, in living so that we make a home of this broken and beautiful world all over again. Love is enfleshed in the meals we make, the rooms we fill, the spaces in which we live and breathe and have our being.”

bump

At the same time, my picture of homemaking and motherhood was growing and changing. Suddenly the Proverbs 31 woman and her diverse interests and skill sets were a thrilling picture to me. Maybe I could garden and teach my children about the goodness of God and His provision? Maybe I could learn more about natural health, or how to hand-make some of our household items? As our family continued to grow, I was inspired by all the areas that I could learn and grow in – budgeting, baking, home maintenance and décor, early childhood development, philosophy of education, etc. And most importantly, I had a deep and growing conviction that if I was to teach my children to know God, I needed to know him so much better! I could hardly keep up with all the things I wanted to read and I started making big efforts toward becoming the woman I knew I needed to be to serve my family and the Lord with excellence.

As I share these things it is with a bit of hesitance, lest anyone view this testimony as another weapon thrust into the never-ending and vicious so-called “mommy-wars”…but I hope instead to be one voice, suggesting – Dear Christian women! Have it all! But have exactly the Lord’s best for you and your family! Pour yourself into what is highest, what matters most for eternity. Consider with fresh, honest eyes what a deep-dive into biblical womanhood, motherhood may look like for you. Sometimes the very highest good, in God’s upside-down economy, looks on the outside like something rather pedestrian. But don’t concern yourself with whether a certain lifestyle will be gratifying – trust God and look to His word rather than society or your peers for inspiration in how to live a godly life. Hold your dreams loosely, and trust God to use your life and to walk with you in each step.

This truth is unpopular, but you are limited. By design, by the grace of God, you are finite in every way. The enemy of souls entices us to kick against the design of our souls and bodies, in a futile attempt to have and to be “it all”. In her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren writes, “Resisting limits isn’t new for the human race. From the very beginning we’ve had an animosity toward finitude and boundaries. In their rebellion, Adam and Eve wanted to be “like God.””

But God uses us, in humility, in our ordained limitations, and he blesses the work of our hands.

mother 1

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

A dear mentor and friend has often said to me, “There is no quality time apart from quantity time.” I have been a mother for nearly 8 years and every good fruit from our life and home has been the result of much quiet, steady, patient investment. And still I get too busy, I botch things all up, I fail in my motherhood and homemaking efforts. Worse, I lose sight of the purpose behind all the hard work. But the Lord gives so much grace, and allows me to keep pouring my heart and soul into ‘professional motherhood’. It is so rich, rewarding, and profoundly fulfilling. I am seeing, as G.K. Chesterton wrote, that “the business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the body and soul of humanity.”

One day my preschool-age daughter got up from her nap, all eagerness and joy, and asked me “What beautiful thing are we going to make today?!” I loved that she viewed our homemaking projects as our attempt at making the world a bit more beautiful. That is how I see the work of home – doing what we can to make our lives, our home, and in one small way – the world – a bit more beautiful.

The Holy Spirit’s peace continues to confirm to me even in the challenging days that this work matters, and these eternal souls that I care for are precious to him.

Sometimes the death of a dream means the birth of a better one.

As I laid down my dreams, reluctantly at first and later with increasing intention and resolve, I was given a new vision and a new calling – one more eternally beautiful than what I could dream up – a life I was made for. By the grace of God, I have found my place of deepest loving impact and influence, and a calling in which I can grow daily to be more like Christ.

Ezra1

But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean.

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it.

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness” – G.K. Chesterton.

12 WAYS YOUR PHONE IS CHANGING YOU: A Review

12w-cover

If there is a must-read book for our day, this may be it. We all know that our smartphones, our constant connections and our social media interactions have revolutionized our lives, but most of us have not taken the time to thoroughly understand what all that means for us.

Reinke comes from an interesting perspective, being something of a technology-lover whose job is essentially made possible by the immense benefits of the digital age, and yet he also approaches the smartphone with profound Biblical wisdom and loads of research. Reinke doesn’t shy away from technology – rather, he views it as a good gift from God, to be wielded wisely by Christians. He is a delight to read, and makes the time spent in these pages edifying and enjoyable.

The book opens with a quote from the Apostle Paul, “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything….”All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” That alone is an amazing prism for viewing our online lives through.

After an introduction titled “A Little Theology of Technology” there are 12 chapters that explore various aspects of technology’s influence in our lives – each an important, life-shaping issue. From ignoring our flesh and blood, addiction to distraction, growing comfortable in secret vices, to getting lonely and losing our literacy – the thoughtful believer will find much to consider and a lot of material for self-assessment here. The conclusion, “Living Smartphone Smart” includes more thoughtful, practical questions for considering ditching your phone OR practices to bring health and moderation into your relationship it.

luke-porter-203637

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash

Here are a couple of excerpts that I loved (emphasis mine):

…my wife turned to me and said, “Compulsive social-media habits are a bad trade: your present moment in exchange for an endless series of someone else’s past moments.” She’s right about the cost. Our social-media lives can stop our own living. Or, as Andy Crouch says, our smartphone addiction leads to creational blindness. It is only in the absence of constant digital flattery that we can feel small and less significant, more human, liberated to encounter the world we are called to love. We inevitably grow blind to creation’s wonders when our attention is fixed on our attempt to craft the next scene in our “incessant biography.” Instead, says Crouch, “All true, lasting creativity comes from deep, risky engagement with the fullness of creation.” So “get out in the glorious, terrifying creation and let it move you and break your heart. Then you’ll have something to offer in the dim mirror that is ‘social media’ – and in the full, real world that demands the engagement of all our heart, mind, soul and strength.” Yes, step away from screens, and let the glories of creation wash you…but don’t stop there. Climb the summits of Scripture, too. Let God’s Word pierce your intentions and cut down into your truest motives, and let yourself be convicted, broken, and remade – which is the feeling of standing in the breathtaking presence of God.

Even our digital words should point others Godward. “Idle words” cannot do this, so Jesus tells us that “every careless word” should be put off. We must do away with words that destroy…Perhaps C.S. Lewis’s most prophetic word to the digital age takes up this theme. “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses,” he wrote, not elevating man as gods, as the Serpent did with his lie, but as gods and goddesses in their glorified state in the new creation…it also remains true that every day we are leading each other in one of two directions: (1) toward Christ and an eternal beauty that will one day take our breath away or (2) toward rejection of Christ and an eternally distorted ugliness and soul decay…”…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

I urge you to read and consider this book carefully, maybe even once a year, as I trust that you will find it profoundly beneficial, as I did. Parents would do well to read this before equipping their children with iPads or iPhones.

If you want to master your device, rather than be mastered by it, this is a book for you!

Have you read this, or are you planning to? Tell me about it!! ❤

Impossibility and Laughter

 

Lately I’ve been reading some Frederick Buechner, and have particularly enjoyed (and been boggled by) Telling the Truth: Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale. One of Buechner’s illustrations as the good news of God’s redemption as comedy is the ancient story of Abraham and Sarah.

Abraham had been promised descendants, numerous as the stars. Only there was a problem – he and his wife had been unable to conceive, and they were getting up in years. For Abraham, over 100, and Sarah in her 90s, there seemed to be no “conceivable” way that they would be able to have a biological child of their own.

And yet, the angel of the LORD appears to them, to inform them of the child they will have at that time the following year. It’s so insane, so crazy and beautiful and they can’t help it – Sarah bursts with laughter. I imagine Sarah, old and wrinkly, but still shining with something of her unique and notable beauty, trying to bite her lip and choke down the response, but the joy and impossibility and ridiculousness of it all causes a bubbling up from deep within and she bursts out, giggling timidly at first, and finally outright belly-laughing, trying not to pee.

Buechner writes, “They laughed because they knew only a fool would believe that a woman with one foot in the grave was going to have her other foot in the maternity ward. They laughed because God expected them to believe it anyway. They laughed because God seemed to believe it. They laughed because they half believed it themselves. They laughed because laughing felt better than crying. They laughed because if by some crazy chance it just happened to come true, they would really have something laugh about, and in the meanwhile it helped keep them going. Faith is ‘the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,’ says the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1). Faith is laughter at the promise of a child called Laughter.”

God enters into the mirth of this hilarity and adds to it again with his incredible sense of humor – telling Sarah to name her baby Isaac, meaning laughter. And of course he is faithful and true, and Abraham became the father of the innumerable people of God.

What is impossible with man, is so,so incredibly within the realm of God’s possibilities. The most outlandish dreams are modest propositions to our universe-inventing Divine Father – who seems to also love a laugh, who makes the impossible, reality.

Lately I have felt a huge temptation to anxiety with the big tasks on my plate – who am I? How can I? Why is God allowing me to be responsible for running this household, serving my husband, raising and homeschooling my children, chasing ministry dreams? All these things are scary-big to me. I don’t feel remotely equipped to handle it all, and truly I can’t produce the results that I am praying for. When the mental lists of things I need to do catch up with me I start to feel the vice grip of anxiety on my heart, I turn it over to the Lord, offering him all these things in prayer.

But through the story of Sarah and Abraham in the Scripture, I have felt the draw to go a step further, and laugh over the craziness of it. The sheer ridiculousness of God accomplishing the impossible, through inadequate, little me. The cosmic joke is this: somehow God uses inconsequential, broken human beings, and then does beautiful, impossible and world-changing things through them. My anxious thoughts and my burdened heart can’t accomplish any good thing – only God can.

I am free to laugh, bust a gut, smile to my heart’s content. Isn’t it wonderful? Hilarious?! It’s his calling on my life, it’s his to accomplish, and I put my faith in him, and choose to laugh without fear of the future.

Musings on Playdates & Titus 2

One evening when my husband had to work late, I tucked the kids in for bed, cleaned up the house, and decided to crawl into bed early to do some reading. My heart was heavy and I knew I needed some Scripture to meditate on, and I was also looking forward to reading “Heaven at Home” by Ginger Plowman.

Our day had been sort of long and hard. A play date that I had hoped would be an encouragement to the kids and myself left an unpleasant, wafting discouragement in my spirit. The women and children there were hospitable and friendly enough, but I left feeling very flat. From the tone of conversation, I gathered that to these women, children were too incredibly burdensome and ah! What a hassle (with said “hassle” in earshot, playing innocently). Husbands? They really just don’t understand. Pregnancy? Ugh, never doing that again. Then there’s the “advice” – you know, the “you’ll never sleep again” or “you think thats bad?” comments from experienced, embittered women. Such cynical tips are a far cry from the glimmer of hope and encouragement that young women need.

Usually after spending time with other women I am so happy. But this time I came home deflated. Wondering.. was I just tired? Had I been boring company? Why did I feel this way? And then I realized…

When we act and speak as if loving our husbands and children is anything less than beautiful and honorable and worthy of respect, we fail our sisters in the Lord, and we risk dishonoring the word of God. I was failed that day, and I probably failed others since I did not recognize what was happening and turn the tide of conversation. (Lord help me next time!)…

It was refreshing that evening to read again from Titus 2: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Sisters, let’s encourage other women to love their imperfect husbands and their sometimes-unruly-children! To work at home! Not grumbling over household chores, but preparing their home to be a wonderful haven of rest and joy for their family. Our culture is enslaved to luxury, even if we would never “stoop” to drunkenness, but as believing women, we ought to esteem and embrace, rather than despise, work in the home. And let’s speak life to that new mom in the dregs of post-partum hardship; she may need kind words from you so that in her exhaustion she can share kind words with her husband.

We all have hard days. Expressing our struggles is one thing. But let us not be malicious, or teach through our words and attitudes that “what is good” in life is independence, freedom from family responsibility, or interesting and stimulating career opportunities. Instead let’s encourage one another to be sensible (in finances, goals, attire, and every aspect of homemaking), pure, kind, loving. This calling is clear and from the Lord. Even our attitudes are teaching the women around us.

❤ jc