Motherhood & Family

My Soil

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(from Instagram)

“Can we check on our garden?” I give them the go ahead and they run to fill their cans in the bathroom, watering the kitchen tiles on their way out. They return with strawberries, cilantro, and news of promising zucchini flowers and sunflower stems.

I leave most outdoor activities to Jeff, but I think writing, for me, is what gardening is to him. When I arrange and tend to words and thoughts, I feel I’m doing good work, even if only as an amateur in my backyard. The fact that my work yields handfuls of fruit at a time is okay with me. I enjoy it and am thankful it can be beneficial to others in some measure.

It’s hard though to find energy and time. And a few months ago, I found myself growing impatient at the demands of home and family because I wanted to write more. It occurred to me then that I was in danger of resenting the very soil God wanted me to write out of.

It’s tempting to imagine we’d accomplish more— for God even— if not for the circumstances we’ve been placed in. It’s easy to believe we’d bear more fruit if only. If only the kids weren’t so needy. If only the people I discipled more mature. If only my parents more reasonable. If only schoolwork easier. If only my health were better.

But beloved, Divine Love has ordained for you this season and place to offer worship and obedience you could not offer in any other time or place. And as you abide in Christ, he promises the fruit you bear this season will last (John 15:16).

If it were up to me, I’d probably choose to bear fruit in a climate-controlled, sterile greenhouse. Here I’d serve, live, love, and write without hindrance. But I am bound to my own time and place, affected by the weather and surrounded by dirt. This is the soil I have been placed in to work out my salvation— the vocation of motherhood, the heartache of ministry, the needs of souls, life circumscribed by my limited body.

Here, I have been called to bear the fruit of the Spirit, to serve, to be made more like Jesus. Here, in this season, in this space, with gardening children and slippery kitchen floors.

Motherhood & Family

Wisdom To Number Our Days

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(from Instagram)

My heart has been feeling achy these days. Having a newborn has made me realize how our years with her siblings have flown by. It also reminds me how little time they all have left here with us.

Like a dream. Like grass that grows and withers. This is how the psalmist describes our years on earth (Ps.90). So in light of our fleetingness, he asks God to teach us to number our days. This, he writes, is how we gain wisdom.

I have seen lately how my parenting is often downright foolish. I am irritable instead of grateful for the moments God grants me with my children. I respond to them with harshness instead of commending Christ. I waive opportunities to build our relationship in the name of busyness. And when I do these things, I am forgetting that my years, and our years together, are numbered.

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom- Ps. 90:12.— I need this divine, day-numbering wisdom so badly.

I need this wisdom to look through my children’s behavior and aim to win their hearts. To discipline with their 13, 18, and 30 year-old future selves in mind.

I need this wisdom to build them up with words of grace and not just give orders. To remember the significance of the years between us is growing smaller by the day. One they will one be my peers and hopefully friends.

I need this wisdom to seize every opportunity to make much of Christ. To put down what I’m doing when possible and help my children see the goodness of God while I still can.

I need this wisdom to enjoy my time with them. To stop and thank God for the fleeting, sweet craziness of life with 3 young children and an infant.

Parents, truly, our days may be long, but our years are short. Let’s look to number them rightly — these exhausting, sweet, bitter, good, frustrating days— that God may grant us hearts of wisdom.

Motherhood & Family

Greater Is He

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(from Instagram)

I felt the fall last night, the pain of childbearing. In the beating my body has taken in birthing and caring for a newborn. In the toil of raising sinful children. In my own hard-heartedness.

***

I’m sick of dealing with sin.

I think that to myself after refereeing another bedtime squabble. Nothing new, but it’s the mundanity of the self-centeredness that gets to me, that pervasive inward curvature of sin. I think about what it would be like to raise children in a pre-Genesis 3 world. I’m tired and mad and tired.

I retreat from their room when the Spirit speaks: Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). A cheery voice calls from across the hall, “Mom, can we pray together?” It is a divine invitation.

I‘m still angry, but what am I going to do? Say, “No!“? So I reenter. First, anything you’re thankful for? Then, more accusatory than I‘m proud of, anything you need to say sorry for?

Their confessions catch me unguarded and convict me. They share specific moments from the day I hadn’t noticed. They give humble insights on their weaknesses. They apologize and forgive. My heart softens. We talk about friendship and family and seeing each other’s sin. I’m asked for verses that will help with a particular struggle with the flesh. We talk about Christ’s forgiveness and the Spirit’s help.

Then we pray.

I pray the gospel over us, over me. It is sheer grace I am able to do so. God himself turned the tide; he spoke, he invited, he softened.

All in spite of me, my sin, and the fall.

***

“Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood, it’s hard to do the right thing,” she says.

Me too, baby. But, praise be to God— greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

Motherhood & Family

Garden, Not Museum

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(Reposted from Instagram)

“Mama! I make dinosaur!”

I’ve been learning that caring for a home is less like curating a museum and more like tending a garden.

Gardeners can’t set and forget. They don’t expect their plots to stay weed-free after an afternoon of work. Their space is not sterile or pristine. But in the tangle of stems, leaves, and roots comes a harvest.

In the home, there’s also always more to do. Laundry and organizing and spilled milk and homework and hungry children and fussy babies. This can be so frustrating when we’re doing the same thing day in and day out. And especially so when little people seem to follow us around undoing what we’ve done.

But from this soil God brings a harvest. Of loved children. Of fun and laughter. Of mom learning patience. Of all of us learning forgiveness. Of helpful big sisters graciously cleaning up blue dinosaurs.

Of grace.

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. (Proverbs 14:4)

Church & Ministry, Motherhood & Family

Fridge Photos, Missions, and Your Children

(Reposted from Instagram)

Today my daughter spoke about our friends in Zambia. Before her presentation, I sent a message to let our friends know they were about to be introduced to a group of children in Staten Island. And I thought about how grateful I am for them. Not just for the amazing work they do, but what it means for our kids to know them.

As a mom, I want my children to have a global perspective on life and faith. I want them to know there are better dreams than the Asian standard of security and the American idol of self-fulfillment. I want them to know that following Christ is not about self-preservation, but being freed to die to self that others may live. But it’s one thing to talk about all this, and a whole other thing to have them see what it looks like in the flesh. Which is why I thank God for our many dear friends overseas who are living in faithful obedience to his call.

I grew up with missionary families passing through our home, their pictures on our fridge. Even now if my mom catches you looking at the photos in her kitchen, she’ll seize the opportunity to tell you what these men and women are doing around the world. My parents never publicized their giving, nor did they treat it as a matter of legalistic duty. Supporting global missions— in prayer, with finances, through hospitality— was just a normal, joyful part of Christian life.

I wonder if my parents knew that my vision of Christianity was being formed in crucial ways. That I was learning that if even I didn’t go overseas, I ought to leverage my life for the sake of those who have yet to know Christ’s name. That I was being given a chance to see missionaries not as legends, but real people making real sacrifices enduring real suffering because the gospel is precious and people are worth it. I wonder if they realized the biggest beneficiaries of their generosity were being raised under their roof.

My sweet girl said today, “You can raise money for the missionaries… you can pray for the missionaries…” Yes, it will be grace to them. But it will also be grace to you and your children.

P.S. Choshen Farm, we love you and are so, so grateful for your friendship, example, and ministry.

P.P.S. Friends, check them out.