..."popsicles on the porch"...what a great afternoon treat and our favorite way to spend time together! These are simple and precious moments! Princess #1 and Princess #2 along with Little Man #1 and #2 are my inspiration for most of these writings.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's Your Definition of Success?

What is your typical stereotype of being a stay-at-home-mom? The above photo pretty much summed up mine.

Over the years, I have met many women who knew from the start that they wanted to stay at home full time. Their dream was simply to be a wife and mother. I remember meeting some of these gals back in college and thinking to myself, “If that’s all you want to do, then why are you here?  Seriously, why are you wasting your money…or worse, your parents money.

I just didn’t get it. If I’m being real, my honest thoughts were, “man, what a waste of time, talent and money.”

There was something in me that just wanted “more.” I guess if I’m real honest, I had a lot of the world in me that simply did not esteem the stay-at-home-mom. My pride made me believe that I had more “ambition, more drive.” I had more to offer than changing diapers, wiping snotty noses and being a full time maid.

However, after the birth of my second child, God really began challenging my heart to use my time and the gifts that “He” gave me to better serve the members of my own family; to give them my focused attention…not just my leftovers.

That’s such a strong word, but in my story, it’s the truth. My attention, my heart was divided. I wanted to give 100% of myself as a mom and 100% of myself to my work. I wanted to offer the best of "me" in both worlds.
 How is that even possible? The math just doesn't add up.

Scripture says, "you cannot serve two masters." (Matthew 6:24). 

I know many might not agree and would simply assume it's just a matter of prioritizing and balancing. 
I know because I fed myself that same lie for years. 

But inevitably, one will make a choice. 

Matthew 6:24 goes on to say... “Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” 

Sadly, in our culture today, we are all too willing to lay our families down on the altar of our success, egos, pride, greed and all of the STUFF we think we need...you name it!

As I felt God stirring my heart to stay home, I even began rationalizing the work I was doing.  Not only did I LOVE my job, but I was involved in ministry. How could that be a bad thing…right? Why would He ask me to give that up? It seemed like a God thing to me.

However, when we begin to put "every" area of our life underneath the complete authority of scripture, God has a way of really shaking things up! This is where I have been in the last several years concerning my work outside of the home and my family. He's really been shaking my world, my ideals, and etc....

In each season of my Journey, be it a student, a new bride, a new mom, a servant in God's Kingdom, and now a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooler, God continues to whisper to my heart one simple question... "Melanie, what is your definition of success?"

And just when I think I'm there, another season of life causes me to dig deeper and another layer of my heart is peeled back, exposing my sin and beckoning me into deeper waters. And again, another whisper...."Melanie, what's your definition of success, where are your affections?

As hard as it was to let go of a job that I absolutely loved, it was the best decision for my family. God has reconfirmed that over and over again. However, making this decision didn’t come without sacrifice. We had to learn to live on a tighter budget and fight the “me” mentality of bigger, better, more. 

It’s not always comfortable and I might not have all the cute home d├ęcor I want or all the clothes and shoes my heart desires.  However, as I keep my eyes on the “bigger picture,” I am able to live with a kingdom perspective and keep Him in view in all things.

In the grand scheme of things, the time we have with our children is so short. The seasons in your life will come and go. Right now is the season for me to be at home. How long you ask? I don’t know. But, I know when I step back and look at the bigger picture, this season of my life will be a blip, a moment (God willing) when compared to the rest of my life.

James 4:14 says it like this...
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
I’m am learning to stop living in the tomorrow and to seize the blessings right here before me. 

Today is the day! 

God has burned this reality in my heart and has given me such a passion and a vision for my home and family. I want to seize every opportunity I have with them to influence them and teach them to know, love and obey God.

I know many are not as fortunate to be able to stay home, particularly single parents. If you are a single parent, know that God has not forgotten about you and is first and foremost faithful and able to meet all of your needs. 

We all have different stories. God knows your story and will give you the strength to meet the demands for each season of your journey as you seek and call upon him.  For others, maybe your story is like mine. My question for you would be one I asked myself….what are you chasing? What is your definition of success? Are you fighting the bigger, better more mentality? Here is an interesting article I found online. It's worth the read!  

Today, my definition and worth in life is not defined by the position I have, the number of zeros on my paycheck or the title I hold. While great for my ego they did nothing for my soul.
I am not saying that one that has these things cannot love God. I am simply sharing my story and how God peeled back the layers of my heart to help me see my deepest desires. At the root of it all was a heart that believed I was not really anything until I had achieved all the things above. When in reality, I am everything in my maker’s eyes. So, much so that he sent His only son to die for me. 

I cared about making a name for myself and let’s face it, I desired the esteem that comes with those things. When in reality, I bare the name of my heavenly father, a daughter of the King who calls me His beloved and is preparing a place for me. I’m already royalty and it is His name I want to esteem and proclaim!

As I filter every season, every opportunity, every decision in light of scripture, my perspective has been challenged, sharpened and redefined.

Darrel Billups said, "The greatest danger in life is to succeed at things that do not matter."

How about you, what are the things you are succeeding at? And do they matter? 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fighting the Me Mentality...(It's not about me continued)

Remember the words to that good ol' MJ song,

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror, 
I'm asking him to change his ways,"

I wonder how often we really do this? It's so easy to point out the sin in others, but rarely do we like to hold the mirror up to ourselves. All too often we make excuses.  We expect others to change, but rarely do we want to do the work to produce change in our own hearts, in our own lives.

So, this is what God has been doing in my heart. It is here, being a mother that I am learning to fight the "me" mentality.  It’s not about me! Whether you’re a mom to four or one, being a mom is about selflessness...plain and simple.

There are many times I would rather be _________, or can't wait until he/she is __________, or I'm just plain exhausted from the demands of the day and ready for the kiddos to get in bed, so that I can have my "me" time. 

Ahhh...."me" time! Doesn't that sound so good?

Sometimes, especially towards the end of the day, "me" time just won't get here fast enough.  Wanting and needing a "me" time is not all together a bad thing. There are definitely times when one needs to recharge and I am thankful that I have a wonderful husband that supports me in this way, so that I can offer my best. 

However, there are other times when I need to stop and ask myself the hard questions. 
Why are you rushing through bed time? Was that tone really necessary? Am I expecting too much of my kids? Did I have fun and did I enjoy my kiddos today? 

So, this is where I've been...learning how to balance and at other times how to fight the "me" monster.  It's a daily fight. Being a mom, continually exposes my sin, my "me" centeredness and continually challenges me to lay down my rights, my wants in order to better serve my family.

Dr. Voddie Baucham, a pastor and theologian defines love as “an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object..”  It’s an act of the will to lay down your rights, your time and your dreams in order to serve those whom God has entrusted to your care.

As I reflect upon this, I am reminded of a book Tim and I read early on in our marriage called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. The whole premise was about what if God designed marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy; to expose our sin and draw us closer to Himself.  I see that same picture here as I relate to my children. What if God is using motherhood as the setting by which he exposes my sin and draws me closer to himself? 

I believe God is using this season of my life and how I relate to my children and husband as a mirror to expose my sin and draw me closer to Him, so that He can reflect his beauty to others! The biggest “others” being my children and husband! 

Psalm 139: 13-16 says....
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

My children and the way they are wired is not by accident. God designed them with a unique set of wirings and giftings.  It was no accident that He gave them to me to shepherd. 

And what if....just WHAT IF...He created them that way and divinely entrusted them to us not only for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to Him, but also to work out sin in our own lives!

God is using my children and the "way He created them" to grow and stretch me! 

When disobedient issues come up or I find myself consumed with those "I would rather be______  or I can't wait until_______ ," moments, I know there is a "me" battle raging within my heart. It is here that God is drawing me to Himself and helping me to grow in patience, selflessness, serving others, perseverance, grace, self control, and etc…

It is in these times that God really shows me where my heart and/or my thinking needs a "God-shift."  My prayers are now “Lord, what do you desire to teach ME through this and how can I best instruct my child

Please, change ME!

Through the awesome and challenging path of motherhood, I am realizing more and more the truth of Colossians 3:3 
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

I need Him and am dependent upon Him to help me be the mother and wife He created me to be. This job is too huge and so much is at stake, but the rewards are ETERNAL! Who would have thought that such an unassuming role like being a mom could be the place for such Kingdom impact. But then again, He did use a carpenter to accomplish His redemptive plan for the whole world! 

What if God is using you and your role as a wife and mother...your season at home...your season homeschooling...your season of _________ as the setting by which he exposes your sin and draws you closer to Himself!