Monday, October 27, 2008

Just an Ordinary Day


Today's Topic:

Arise and Shine: Being an Exceptional Mother in the Midst of the Ordinary


Today's Hostess:
Lisa at A Second Generation of Homeschooling

Lisa has this to share about homeschool mothers, but any mother I know, homeschooling or not, can relate:

"Homeschool mothers can most assuredly relate to the feelings that come from drudgery. The days are long and tedious. The success that comes of the toil sometimes goes unseen for months, maybe even years. Our lives seem downright plain and ordinary. Our work goes unnoticed. Our existence remains unobserved. Life can become commonplace. Where do we go from here? How can we keep going from day to day?"

She asks us the following questions:
1. What daily tasks seem mundane or monotonous to you?
2. How can we change our outlook when completing these tasks?
3. What impact do these tasks have on our husband and children? How does it make a difference in their lives?
4. Is it okay to focus on earthly recognition when completing these tasks for our loved ones, or is receiving an eternal reward sufficient? Which does Jesus think is more important? Shouldn’t that be our focus, as well?

Today I'm keeping it simple. There are a lot of "mundane tasks" that need to be done around here, and my blogging time needs to be short.

I want to share briefly about recognition and motives in our daily lives because God has done a work in me this year in this area.

I have the privilege of getting to stay at home with my kids. I have since I was pregnant with the first. I always knew I wanted to stay at home once I had children. I also pictured myself very involved and active in church, ministry and volunteer work.

And that's what I set out to do. I volunteered for local ministries, completed additional certification classes, became involved in Bible studies, moms groups and hosting ministries at our home. I started an at-home business with my sister.

I kept busy.

And then in January, something changed. The best way I can describe it was I had a constant lack of peace. I always felt overwhelemed, underaccomplished and scattered. I didn't feel I was being an attentive wife, an involved mom or a productive volunteer. My household duties felt like burdens and a day where I didn't load my kids into the car for one reason or another was hard to come by.

The light bulb moment was when I got sick and was thankful that I had an "excuse" to stay at home and enjoy my family. At that moment, I knew my priorities had been turned upside down.

As I began to make changes and learned to refuse different opportunities, I was surprised by the backlash. God really used that time to prune out the things that didn't bear fruit, including church activities and friendships. I was criticized, belittled and accused because I made a choice to spend the majority of my time in my home, taking care of my family, instead of in service to others. I was even told I was not in God's will because the most important thing to Him was that I go outside of my home to bring people to the Lord and that I was a example of selfishness to my children.

It's been a year of pruning and loss. But I feel lighter, because I'm not carrying around more than God designed for me. The mundane chores and household responsibilities are not overwhelming anymore. There is satisfaction in having the time to do them well. Overall I feel closer to God, more at peace and balanced as a family.

I received this story in an email today and thought you might like to read it. I wish I knew who to give the credit to, but it was one of those anonymous forwards. True story or not, it really speaks to the heart of a mother.

"Invisible Mother"

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she's goooooooone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.

It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

Blessings,

6 comments:

Elizabeth said...

That was a great post. It says what I've felt also so well. Something I couldn't really put to words. I'm proud of your decision and see God blessing you and your family so much because of it! Good job, Mama! : )

Joyfull said...

Thank you for sharing how the Lord worked in your life. Sometimes it takes His pruning to bring the flowers of peace and contentment into our lives. Loved the story you shared. What a blessing!

Homesteader in Training said...

What a wonderful wonderful post. I quit over volunteering years ago and basically I am home with my family and I LOVE it. Nothing pressing on me or stressing me out. I'm just able to be the best wife and mother I can be. Yeah! And yes I do get the comments every now and again but they don't get to me any more. I think secretly they are just jealous. They want what we have. Keep being a light.
Blessings,
Kim

Ashley said...

Rebecca,

What an inspirational post! I loved the story you included and it is so true.

Each and every day women are building cathedrals in their homes. Even if no one else sees it, God sees it!

Thank you for sharing at the well!

-Ashley

Daniel's Mom said...

Thank you for sharing! :) I have a new outlook on it all. I really was blessed by your post.

Thank you for your encouragement! Not bragging on myself,but I have sacrificed a lot for Daniel and he's only 9 months. My husband sometimes feels bad for me b/c I have and still do sacrifice so much,but I'll continue to do so. I'm blessed beyond measure and that's what counts.

Patti said...

I was able to get your blog opened up by Integrity, so here I am. I love this post. Your story so mirrors my own...except, of course, you were/are much wiser. It took you far less time to do what God was prodding you to do than it did me. It took me about 12 years!! But now that I know that it's okay to love being home and ministering from and through my home, I have the joy and peace I had lost.

I want to share with you what I wrote in a journal back in 1995 (I found this journal a few years ago, and based on what I had written, God was trying to speak to me, but I just didn't get it). AT the point of this journal writing, I was about a year and a half into my church busyness.

"I am not rested physically, mentally, or spiritually. I am totally exhausted and horribly unhappy. I am miserable. All I really want to do is stay home and play with my children, but I can't do that---it's a waste of time. And I have so many more important things to do. But, oh, how I wish I could."

Did you catch that, Rebecca. I wrote that it was a waste of time to play with my children, that I had more important things to do. And what were those important things? They were all related to church ministry. I had "Kingdom work" to do. Since when is raising children in the Lord NOT Kingdom work? since when is ministering to the heart of your child NOT Kingdom work?"

Just like you, I had the lack of peace and joy. I knew something was wrong. I just didn't know what. I was conditioned by my church to think that I wasn't doing anything for God if I wasn't doing it in the church programs. Sadly, that message is paramount in our churches today. We're told to minister to others and to lead others to the Lord, but in the process, we often fail to train and disciple and minister to the very ones he gave us to reach in the first place.

I rejoice with you that you recognized God's voice and that you have peace in your life now. Praise God!! And those voices that tell you that you are being selfish and unproductive as a Christian, just refuse to listen to them. The joy of the Lord within you is all the "proof" you need that you are right where he wants you to be.

Sorry this is a rambling comment. I am just passionate about this message. I grieve that there was never an older woman who said these things to me, so I am determined to be that older women to others younger than myself.

Blessings,
Patti