Friday, April 27, 2018

Dear Sweet Daughter

Dear Sweet Daughter,

You married my son several years ago and you two are such a good combination together.  Now you have become a mom as well.  I know it has been tough the last few weeks with all of the unexpected things that have transpired, as well as the lack of sleep, and the betrayal of your own body as you recover from the arduous process of childbirth.

I wanted to tell you welcome to motherhood. It is the secret club that once one has been initiated causes a complete paradigm shift.  There are certainly biological changes but I think the real change is when a mom looks at that helpless little one and considers her own life as inferior to the care  and nurture of the one in her charge.  I believe it is called laying down your life or perhaps becoming a living sacrifice.   I read once that to be a mother is to forever wear your heart on the outside of  your body.

 Many will tell you that your career will fulfill you.  A career is only means to take care of yourself and your family.  Hopefully, it will also serve others in society, but being a mom is a high and holy calling.  The saying that "the one who rocks the cradle, rules the world" is true.  Mom, you have quite the opportunity and dare I say privilege to do just that.  She will probably spend more waking hours with you than anyone else in the universe for the first 15 + years of her life.  Your words, your touch, your protection and your insight will be her guiding star.  She will want you and her daddy more than any others.

I wanted to share some of the things that ministered to me as a young woman.  The first one is from Titus.  I wrote this out and carried it around in the back pocket of my blue jeans for a really long time until it became frayed and worn.

... urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (NIV)

The idea that we must be taught to love our husbands may not be such a  foreign idea to many women but to have to be taught to love our children seems somehow unnatural.  I can't tell you how many times though that the words about being self controlled or pure or kind or busy or even subject to the oversight of my own husband gave me real guidance in what it meant to actually love my child and my husband.  It provoked me to "keep on" even when I was tired or distraught or even hormonal.  It  prevented me from taking the wrong action many times.  We are all sinful and frail.  Many times those words cut like a knife into me.  The knife didn't harm, it was for the surgery of my soul to bring about health and life.  Many days will be hard, but remember a good night's sleep and little perspective is a gift that God gives us.  His mercies are always new every single morning.

Another verse that I kept on the refrigerator for years was

 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

I read that verse hundreds of times.  It did a work in my heart and mind.  It made me desperate to not be a foolish woman and bring about the destruction of the best gifts I had ever been given.  I wanted to build up my house.  I wanted to bring security, peace, stability and comfort to those in my charge.  By nature I have a sharp tongue and can be irritatingly unkind if provoked.  I still have to battle those enemies so that I do not tear down my own house even after all of these years.  Because of our fallen nature, we all have our own special enemies that we must keep under control lest they break out and destroy our homes.  I made many mistakes and I sinned against my family on many occasions but I can still look back and see the restraining work of God in my life.

Years ago we went to a little store front church.  I picked up a pamphlet on motherhood  written by the famous Elisabeth Eliot. I wonder sometimes if that was the main reason that we attended that little church.  It had a huge impact on me. I found a link to it the other day and I hope that it is ministers to you as well.

Never let anyone degrade your calling to be a mother.  Those days that your pants don't fit or you haven't had the energy to put on makeup will come.  Don't compare yourself to a college girl who has had two hours to groom herself and has never made a baby in her womb. You may not always feel beautiful on the outside but let me tell you God will be doing a work of beauty on the inside and your husband will see it.  His eyes are the only eyes that matter.  Motherhood is a hugely important trust given to you by God and He will not leave you or forsake you in it.  The Holy Spirit will guide you and give you the insight that you need.

 I appreciate you.  I look forward to seeing how God works in your life  as you mother Baby Girl.  I want you to succeed in every way possible.  I am cheering you on sweet lady.

With much love,

Your Mother by Choice

Thursday, March 29, 2018

On This Night...

What it was like on this night?

When the sun eased from the sky in the cool of day. 
The table set with preparations of a slaughtered lamb.
The King, His glory cloaked in humanity
offering broken bread and poured out wine.

Those at the table were there to remember. 
But You came with expectation 
Your face set like flint.

The hardest night lay before you, anticipated from all eternity.

What was it like on this night?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Weekend Wit 21

We often care more about what people think than caring about people.

   There is no secret formula for success, but solely the grace of God.

All I have to do today is make a little bit of progress.

The reason marriage is under siege is because it is such an incredibly valuable commodity. An intact healthy marriage helps to produce stable children and an unbeatable support system. We are easily tricked into thinking that it is just too hard or too painful.

The one who loves nature always has a free show.

If I could harness the clever persistence of a squirrel and the enthusiasm of a dog, I would  be able to conquer the world.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Everyone Needs a Good Daddy

Spring time is showing up in my neck of the woods.  Years ago when I was still a girl living in rural North Carolina, spring signaled the time of the year that Daddy started the garden.  He would go out to the old shed that housed his ancient Allis Chalmers tractor that he had inherited from his own dad.  The tractor didn't have an electrical starter so Daddy put the hand crank into the slot in the front of the tractor and turned it over repeatedly  until the tractor jolted back into life.  It always seemed to be a minor miracle when it finally started running.

It was an awful lot of work to just get the fields ready to plant and it wasn't done in a day.   Daddy would come home from the cotton mill after the first shift was over and eat supper.  He would then go out to work in the field until dusk.  Daddy never ever complained about it.  He just did it.  He knew that was how we were going to make it.  As long as we had land, Daddy knew he could feed us.

When Daddy went out in the field to plow he wore an old straw hat to keep the sun off his head,  men's khaki work pants and an old cotton shirt with a frayed collar and sleeves.   Daddy never walked or talked fast but he always got things accomplished.  It seems that old tractor fit his personality.  The tractor wasn't attired in the new or shiny anymore either.  It was  just slow and consistent just like he was.

In the spring he would attach his large disk cultivator to the Allis Chalmers and  steer that slow moving tractor down to the field and begin slicing into the fallow ground.  Around the cultivator went cutting deeply into the red clay and turning the dirt over in big chunks. The ground released a musty wholesome smell that I still crave,  it was the aroma of life.

He often started cultivating in the early spring before the weather turned hot.  The air would be warm but still have a cool undercurrent.  He steered around the lone persimmon tree that grew in the lower field creating a circular pattern. The tractor chugged along and the thick growing tall dark cedars stood watch at the back of the field while birds and rabbits played in the brown and green grasses that grew in the meadow.  The brambly woods, the tall uncut grasses and the sky seemed to form an enormous backdrop against that one man and the sweat of his brow.

 After he cultivated the field, he would change implements.  This time he hooked the disk harrow to the tractor.  The harrow had several rows of smaller rusty looking disks that sliced the soil into smaller clods.  It made a distinctive clanging sound as it bounced across the cultivated field.    Finally, he went back with the row plow and cut rows so that he could begin planting.

Every time he changed the implements was an opportunity for something to go wrong.    He would bring the tractor out of the field and drive it up by the barn.  It was just him, his perseverance and a race against the sun to get his work accomplished.  My sisters and I would often hang about as he worked.  It never seemed to get on his nerves.  I am not sure he even realized we were there.

Daddy's dogged perseverance was not evident to most people.  He didn't stand out as a man's man or even as a go-getter but he stayed in the race day after day.  He never gave up even when the odds seemed to be against him.  He didn't have a lot of education.  He never had a high paying job but he showed tremendous character in how he stayed the course. Mama and Daddy paid their house and property off in fourteen years.  They might carry a balance at the doctors or the drug store but they always were careful to pay off the small debts they did incur. With my grandma living with us, there were seven mouths to feed.  Daddy was the only one who was gainfully employed.  In my mind, what my parents did was amazingly incredible.

Daddy didn't have time for television. He didn't go to movies.  He didn't keep up with sports.  He didn't have time to drink, gamble, smoke or time for any other vice. He never visited a foreign country and he seldom went on vacation.  Daddy worked, he visited family with a fervor and he went to church almost every time the doors were open.  He signed up to be a husband and a father and that is what he did.  In an age where we don't think fathers are important, I know that is plain hogwash.  I had one and our culture would be a whole lot better if we had more men like my daddy.

My sister Gail and Daddy... He lived to be almost 96 years.  My sister took loving care of him as he got to
the place in life where he couldn't live alone anymore.