Saturday, December 30, 2006

Encouragement for My Cousin

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young--
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

Psalm 84:1-3

Dear Lauren,

It was such a delight Christmas day to spend time with you. Your new baby is so sweet. As you told me how hard it has been, having three very young children . . . how very overwhelmed you feel, it brought back memories of what that was like. I was fortunate that mine were spaced a little farther apart, but at the same time, it was still exhausting. One of my dear friends has told me that as our children grow we go from a stage of physical exhaustion to more of a mental/emotional exhaustion. With my oldest nearing his teen years, I can already see how true this bit of wisdom is. What will I do? I still have kids in the physically exhausting phase too! But this is not about me; I was reminded of a piece of wisdom I gleaned early on when my children were small, and I wanted to share it with you.

I read the above verse in a book that I loved when my children were smaller. It seemed then that no matter how hard I tried, "quiet time" never was. Not only did it very rarely happen, but even when it did it seemed someone always got up early, was sick, or decided not to sleep at night. The very thing I most needed to survive--God's quiet, strengthening presence--seemed to constantly evade me. Didn't He want to be with me? Why couldn't He just make them sleep?

In the book Meditations for Mothers by Elisa Morgan I read this:

The psalmist envies the birds who nest daily in the temple and therefore enjoy a daily presence in God's dwelling . . . . Mothers are among today's faint of heart who long for time with God.

This book is about taking a tip from the swallow in the psalm. She
built her nest in a place near God's altar. She lived where God lived. We
moms who long for God don't have to go somewhere special to find him. We can
speend time with God
when we build a nest near him and then enjoy everyday moments in it with him.

Lauren, what I have learned is that to survive these years, when you most need God's infusion of patience and sacrificial love, you needn't have lots of regular time away from the kids with him. Instead, build your home life around Him. There have been many days (so many!) that I missed my personal quiet time, but because the kids and I were in a habit of reading together from His Word, I was fed as I fed them. As I prayed with them, I drew close to Him and they learned to pray from me. I have learned how to better disciple someone through discipling my children as we lived life together.

That's not to say you should give up on your personal time with Him, just don't get discouraged or frustrated when it frequently doesn't happen. He can make you aware of His presence, teach you, and allow you to enjoy His company in lots of ways if you make Him part of your daily routines with the kids. Sing praise music as you feed and rock the baby. Read Bible stories in the morning to the little ones (read directly from the Bible--you'll be amazed how much they can get!). Memorize verses or a catechism or confession with them. (We used the Westminster Confession of Faith-Children's version.) Play LOTS of music as you go through your day and pray about everything from the quarrelling they are doing to the boo-boo they just got. Explain to them what you are doing when you meet someone else's needs, and as they get older, let them help come up with ways to care for others in need.

You are in a wonderful place to witness, disciple, and draw close to God. When I think of working outside my home, it is the freedom to spend time with Him at my whim that most makes me want to stay home. Although you feel completely inadequate for this job of mothering, please know that it is in this very weakness that the Lord's strength shines through. Remember that "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11) He cares very much for your work as wife and mommy, and wants you to do a great job with these little children He has given you. Beyond what you are able to do physically or otherwise, He will personally teach, lead, love, correct, and nurture them.

Take heart my cousin! I have watched Him faithfully keep all His promises to me. He has given me a hard life, but it has been an amazing life too! I know that He will do the same for you. You know that I am here anytime you need me, even if you just need a cheerleader. I love you!


1 comment:

Crystal said...

Thank you SO much for these words. I know they were meant for your cousin, but they came as such an encouragement to me today. Thanks for posting it.