Bible Study/Prayer Closet

COMING HOME

Coming home.  It's what I find myself needing to do. I wonder if it might apply to you, too?

A strange thought, isn't it?  I mean, considering that you’ve never really left the house.  Every day you’re there to make breakfast and clean up breakfast and then lunch and dinner.  And of course, don’t forget snack time.  Then there's always the laundry and lessons and bills, and well, all of the other everythings

Life is not a correspondence course and all those life things can’t be done from afar.  I'm doing them all right here, in these walls.

So how did I get so far away?

 We all know some version of the hopeful motivational expression, “Every journey begins with a single step.”  That’s how it happens.  A step at a time over time, and there you go, and there you are. You wind up in that place: where the house is not home, but merely a place where chores pile up because we're organizing the field trips for the co-ops or the fundraisers for uniforms; the place where we look sadly at the spot on the couch where we'd held and snuggled our babies, now disguised as Mt. Washmore; the spot where we just know the closets (all of them!) could be featured on Extreme Makeover--Cram Your Stuff Edition. 

It’s become that bizarre place where the kiddos are eating cereal out of coffee cups in the van because you're all out delivering a wonderful homemade meal to your daughter’s soccer coach’s cousin’s sister-in-law who just had toe surgery but you didn’t have time to make enough for your own family or wash any dishes in the meantime.

I step over huge cracks in the old, broken-in floor to kiss hubby goodnight, only to close the door with him on the other side, heading off to do ... something.  Keeping busy, occupied with anything to quiet our thoughts and minds, to divert our eyes from the worn places where we work so hard at living.  So much work, but where is the reward?  Getting up to do it all over again only feels like a booby prize, but we still do it.  And we do it because we love our families, and that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? 

But this thing we do called homemaking?  It is so much more than that.  It's what we're called to do... We were blessed to be given these people that fill the boundaries of our walls and hearts. They are not just a task, they are our reward:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.  Psalm 127:3-4

 As mothers, we are given the stewardship of people--eternal souls, who will have eternal significance.  And we are given that stewardship by the only One who loves them more than we do.  We honor Him by serving them.  We can repair the foundations, we can scale the mountain and we can make our house back into a home with a single word in a single breath.

Yes.

Yes, yes, a thousand times, YES!

“Yes!” to my home, that will bring love and courage and belonging to my children and my husband and the guests that I will be honored to bless here. 

“Yes!” to pancakes and crispy bacon for dinner, and to lessons on washing and drying and folding (and putting away!) set to the soundtrack of the stories of our days. 

“Yes!” to those I have been given the honor and charge of training up in the way that they should go

“Yes!” to preparing and keeping my home and rejecting the bread of idleness, “Yes!” to rising in the dark to prepare food for my family. “Yes!” to the Proverb that shows me that I am honoring my King by blessing my family.  

Your "Yes" is a life-giving word that, with beautiful irony, also contains a "No."

“No” to anything that encourages me to be too busy to hear my children tell me their stories, or to teach them to seek the Lord, or to train them up in the way that they should go, or to serve those that need it, or to make memories and to love truth and beauty and justice.  “No” to anything that encourages me to be too busy to be the helpmeet, confidant, best friend, and partner that I promised my husband I would be.  

No is a hard word, but it's so worth it.  "No" means a sacrifice for so many of us... "No" to doing those things that make us feel accomplished and vibrant.  After all, who will organize that Valentine party with all of the perfect little homemade valentines and iced sugar cookies if not us?!

 But I know that no one needs you more than they do, mama, and they are at home.

Discipleship always, always starts at home.

If we seek our reward in what is eternal, what is in His plan for us as wives and mothers, we can be radiant with the light that is His and find our worth from His appointments.  He gives us all we need to meet our precious charges in the rooms of home. 

Homecoming.jpg

 Will you come home with the yes and the no?

 It’s not always easy, and sometimes the road to home looks too grown over, maybe there are some dark places, and maybe the way is hard to find.  But it’s there.  Every journey starts with a single step, right?  Maybe that first step is cookies and snuggles under the covers for story time, or a drive together with a sing along to their music, or just a date to the coffee shop to talk.

The possibilities are endless, really.

So, what will your “Yes!” be?  Today, mine is cookies.

And, if you wondered about the cookies, thanks to Misty, you'll some right HERE , and I hear they are perfectly puffy!  

 

Many Blessings,

 Jamie

If you need help in Coming Home, we highly recommend the new book by Sally Clarkson-- The LifeGiving Home.  You can buy it here on Amazon, or enter to win a copy here at our facebook page!

 

What happened when I put my "YES" on the table, and how it got there in the first place.

About a year and a half ago, at the end of a stressful home school year, I felt the Lord whisper in my heart to "S L O W   D   O   W    N......"

What? Me? I can't do that! I am busy! I have responsibilities! I thrive on the going and the doing.

"But, you are worn out. You are weary. Come to Me."

I felt the impression on my heart that the time is short, this precious time with my people at home. And maybe, I had been forgetting many of the reasons I had kept them home in the first place. I always had these visions of cuddling on the couch while reading great literature, and having beautifully behaved children who always loved doing their copywork. Reality check. We never had the *time* to ponder over those read alouds, when we had co ops to go to, papers to write, math curriculum to complete, and me freaking out that they were not learning enough. I was bone tired of it, too. I was not filling their souls with Scripture like I desired to. And that made me feel like a failure.

So, a change was made. We pulled out of our co op that had been our everything for 6 years. we backed out of every obligation that wasn't a necessity. I tucked away the History and Science books, and bought everyone Bible journals. We started to focus on reading Scripture together. Our morning Bible times included all 6 of my kids together, ages 15 and down, and while at first I thought that would be difficult, it turned out to be more than I could have imagined. We got to experience the child-like faith of the little ones, alongside the growing understanding of the older ones. We learned from each other. We grew in faith together as a family.

We did not do as much formal "schooling" that year. And, I gradually learned to let go of the guilt of that.  I realized I had been putting too much emphasis on what "man" says my kids should be learning, and not near enough importance on what God says they should be learning.  I had these little eternal souls right here for me to pour into, and it was time to do just that.

So much fruit came from this year of quiet togetherness. My oldest four all decided it was time to follow the Lord in believer's baptism. What joy to my momma heart!

And, during this time, I heard the Lord urge me to Missions work. Me. Work that would change my life. Work that would set me on a different course of ministry.(You can read about my trip to India on the Missions page of this blog.) I do not know if I would have heard that call unless I had learned that year to quiet myself and listen to Him. I do not know if I would have said "yes" to that call before. And when you say "YES" to the Lord, I can guarantee you that things are going to change! He rewards the steps of obedience that you take, even if you take them in disbelief and weakness.

When I heard the phrase "leaving my "YES" on the table for God", I realized that is how I want to live my life.  I want Him to know that when He has a job for me, I will do it! And guess what started to happen? He started making me feel like a cannon ready to shoot! He opened the doors of opportunity to minister in incredible new ways. My calendar started filling up again, but this time I was not exhausted! I was learning that when I truly rely on HIS STRENGTH, He gives it. Maybe His strength was what I had been lacking for awhile.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY. They will walk and NOT BE FAINT.

 

Then I started pondering what it is like when my own children have an attitude of "YES" towards ME. How much more I am willing to trust them with when they have a posture of obedience and willingness. I know I will ask them to take on larger tasks, and reward them upon completion. I think of how I am more willing to help them with their tasks, when they have that submissiveness. I think our Heavenly parent must feel the same.

If you feel Him calling you to action, listen. Search the Scriptures to verify it is from Him. Your "YES" is important.  

 

 

Those Days...

 We have a long running joke in our family. “What? These kids want to eat again? I just fed them yesterday!” It never fails, between a full grown man, three growing boys and one active cheerleader, someone always thinks they are near starvation. My guys are not only bottomless pits, they are rather scheduled on how often they want to eat. A few minutes past noon and my oldest is already questioning if it is ‘fend for yourself’ day. I feel like I spend quite a large portion of my time in the kitchen preparing, cooking, and cleaning up.

  Not exactly how I planned this whole motherhood deal to go down.

 Recently I had one of those days. You know about ‘those’ days, right? The days when you are just over and done. No one appreciates all your work and you are just finished trying so hard when no one cares. Those days. Honestly I was just phoning it in at that point. Looking around I found the easiest things to cook which included that blue box of mac’n’cheese.

 Everyone made their plates and headed to the den. ( I don’t know why they were eating there, it certainly had nothing to do with the huge pile of clean laundry strewn across the dining room table.) I started fixing my plate when my six year old came running back into the kitchen. He almost tackled me in his excitement to give me one of those big bear hugs that happen less often as they all get older. “Thank you Mama!! You made my favorite mac’n’cheese!” I stood there speechless as he ran back to the den.

 Listen Y’all, I was brought to my knees by a box of noodles and powdered cheese. I’m going to be brutally honest here. How often are we going to get the SuperMom title for something so simple? Not often and it gets harder the older they get. My baby was sure I had made this wondrous thing as a special treat just for him.

Just for him.

Just for Him.

 

Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Other translations offer this as

work heartily

work with your whole being

work from your soul

do it enthusiastically

 

 I need to remember how to find the joy in the day to day. This motherhood deal includes quite a bit of the day to day grind that wears down on me when I’m not looking. I think it is a continual process, at least for me. Some days I rock at doing things wholeheartedly. Other days, well lets just keep in mind that I’m a work in progress. My prayer for you is that you are able to find the sweetness and joy in the day to day. Don’t let it wear you down Mama!

With much laughter and love,

Valerie

 

 

Bone Dry

It’s 4 AM.  My 2 year old toddles into my bedroom whimpering slightly.  “Mommy, my ear is hurting,” he says. He has a fever, and I sigh. After some ear-numbing drops, a dose of ibuprofen, and a few snuggles, he’s feeling well enough to go back to bed.  And I trip back to my bed as well.

It’s been a rough season of sickness in our family.  Our family vacation in October was cut short by a baby with a stomach bug. The week of Thanksgiving was completely hijacked by another stomach virus that hit nearly everyone in our family.  And, now it’s just past Christmas.  We’ve traded a cold, accompanied by a nasty cough, between the members of our family for over a week, and it’s developed into ear infections in two of my five children.

And I’m tired. Physically tired.

I don’t think I’ve had a full night’s sleep in a month after getting up with children who are ill and uncomfortable at night.

It has also been a season of paring in my life.  Dear friends have moved away recently, either physically or emotionally.  Some dear loved ones have suddenly passed away in the past few months. My children have heart issues that must be handled so carefully yet swiftly.

And I’m tired.  Emotionally tired.

And I’m spiritually tired too.  Taking time away from church to stay home with little ones who are sick. Neglecting personal devotions and bible studies to take care of my babies as well as trying to catch up with the never-ending tasks of housekeeping, homeschooling, and motherhood in general. It all takes its toll on my spiritual health.  And I despair in my tiredness.

Trying to catch up with a friend, I make a quick glance at Facebook to see that someone has posted a picture on her page.  Its caption says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Take care of yourself first.”  I give a mad cackle of laughter seeing that since I’ve been bone dry since sometime in November.  But, as the day goes on, I ruminate on what I read. 

via Stock Images

via Stock Images

This particular day ends in tears.  There are just too many people and things pulling at me. I cry out to God, that I can’t do this anymore alone. And, very gently, he reminds me that I’ve never been alone in any of these times (Isaiah 41:10).  He reminds me that he is rest (Matthew 11:28), and that, if I look, I’ll find him right there with me. (Jeremiah 29:13) Where he’s always been. 

I finally realized that God had really and truly been with me, even though I was exhausted.  I thought I was dry, but it was God who refilled my cup each and every time.  Now, each morning, instead of dreading the day before me, I thank God for his new mercies every morning, and I pray for him to fill my cup one more time.

Artwork by Chris Wright via Verses Project     s ource

Artwork by Chris Wright via Verses Project    source

Hugs and blessings, Charlotte