Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

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Yet, I will praise Him

June 12, 2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines.
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock would be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

YET (emphasis mine) I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

This basically sums up the first year of motherhood for me. Yes… there have been thousands of joys every day and I love watching Kavin grow. I would not exchange the divine privilege of being home with him with anything in the world, YET… it has not been easy. From his possible death the first month of life, to transitioning to full-time motherhood… there have been many days I didn’t know if I could do it.

However, it has been in my weakness that Christ REALLY has made me stronger.  He has taken my broken, crippled feet… and given me hinds feet.  Although I am still in process, I am amazed at how far His grace has brought me in just one year’s time.

I also look around at the trials I see going on: famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, disease… and I too can see in these that followers of Christ or not, we ALL go through trials of various kinds.

It seems to me that we, as the church at large, do not talk about the Christian life as one of toilsome perseverance as we pitch a rose-colored Gospel to would-be followers of Christ, but following Christ does not keep us exempt from hard times. From the pages of Scripture in the verses of Habakkuk, I can see it all clearly…

Life sucks sometimes, yet even in all the mud and mire, the Lord is our strength… and THROUGH it all (not around it all) He will make our legs like hinds feet so when calamity strikes again, we will be able to rise above it and leap from the mountain top of joy, to the mountaintop of promise.

I imagine myself writing poetry like the passage in Habakkuk. As I look at current world events, my poem may look something like this:

Though the economy may fail
And children die from starvation
Though houses wash away
And marriages dissolve
Though countries rage war over greed
And the poor remain in need

YET… I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

Jesus promises us trouble… and victory. There is no victory without adversity.  The Gospel is summed up in this… that He DIED (adversity) and ROSE (victory) from the dead!  So too will we in Christ Jesus.

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Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

June 6, 2011

Objects in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

I drove home from church and glanced in the rear view mirror to see if Kavin fell asleep in the car seat.  The warning “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” popped in my head.  Something so routine prompted a reflection.

When Kavin struggled for life the days after his birth, doctors would not tell us how long he would stay in the hospital; or when we would know if he would survive; if his lung would ever develop; if he had brain damage from the lack of oxygen.  So many questions and no answers.

A month is not a long time in the scheme of things, but when every moment, every breath is weighed with the unknowns of life, of time, of hope… not knowing how long the trial will last makes the longevity of it seem more perilous.

Yet, had I known from the beginning that he would be there a month, maybe I would have missed seeing God as clearly as I did… because I wouldn’t have needed Him as desperately.  The thing is, we never know how long a trial will last.  We don’t know what life is like on the other side of a hard season.  Is it a small wasteland or years of wandering through the wilderness?  Will we die in the wilderness or enter the promise land?

I am reminded, however, that the God who created the world and my very life, sees all that is ahead and is with me now.  He knows the boundaries of the various trials we travel through and sustains us in the moment.

I also see now that in the moment of peril, I quickly enter into jittery impatience, wanting to push through to get the hard part over with.  In that determination, I sometimes throw a proverbial temper tantrum and then laugh at myself when I realize that the closure of the difficult time was closer than it appeared.

Instead of an object, my imagination thinks:  seasons in the mirror are closer than they appear.  Life is in seasons.  Some are treacherous, some relaxing, but one thing we can be sure of, one season leads to the next.  As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV) Let us not get so caught up in the difficulty, that we miss making the most of the moment.  There is always something we can do to shine our light to others… even when we sit in a dark cave ourselves.

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Holiday Traveling Tale

December 15, 2010

Flying home alone with Kavin this week, who is eight months old now, caused a bit of anxiety.  Jason and I joked about it on the way to Pennsylvania.

“Before I was a dad I used to see a baby on the plane and think, ‘Oh great!  I will never be able to sleep now.'” He commented as we stood in line to get on the plane.  “Now we are the ones people are looking at saying, ‘Oh great!  There is a baby on the plane.”  We laughed.  Inside my mind I hoped for kind fellow travelers.

Kavin did great on the way there.  So, as I stood in line for the flight home, this time on my own, I prayed for kind travelers once again.  Thank God for His provision.  A lady and her mother befreinded me in line. They loaded first, due to the mother requiring extra assistance.  When I stepped onto the plane, I saw my new friend sitting in a seat behind her mother, “Here.  These two seats are for you,” She said as she rose and handed me my cup of coffee she carried onto the plane for me.

The flight going out of Pittsburgh was delayed, so I needed to make a mad dash to the next gate once we arrived in Vegas.  With Kavin hanging on my chest, a rolling carry-on, another bag full of blankets and snacks, and his diaper bag, I tried my best to scoop everything up and not hold back the line.  “Here.  Let me help you,” Bonnie, the grandmother whom sat in my row, said as she grabbed my bag of blankets and snacks.

Bonnie needed to make her flight too, but took the time to walk me to my gate and get me on the flight.  “Wow, Lord.  Thanks!”  I said as I walked down the ramp and loaded onto the booked plane from Veags to L.A.  I could only find one window seat… the last seat in the back of the plane.

The flight attendants assisted me to load my bags.  Sole, a beautiful blue-eyed Puerto Rican young woman with long brown hair, perfect french tip nails, and sporting a Luis Vitton hand bag sat next to me.  “You and I will get very close this short flight,” I joked with her as I explained that I will be breast feeding Kavin for most of the trip.

Shortly into the flight Sole began to tell me about her boyfriend she was on the way to visit in Los Angeles.  As we shared our stories a bit, she continued to open up, and I found myself counseling this younger woman about life, love, and hard decisions.  The Spirit began to prod me with something to say, but in my mind it sounded judgemental and harsh.  So, as I listened to her, I wrestled back and forth with the Lord, “Do You really want me to say that?”  I asked over and over.  Finally I conceded.

“Sole, can I say something?  It may sound harsh, but I think you need to hear it.” I asked.

“Sure.”  She said as she genuinly turn her countenance in interest to my insight.

“Bottom line is, I think you are focusing on the wrong things in your life.  You are confused and frustrated and hurting because you have made yourself and your happiness the priority and not your relationship with Jesus.  The Word says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.’  NOT delight in your desires and God will give you whatever you want.  If you focus on seeking Jesus, everything will fall into place.”

Whew.  Did I just say that to a stranger?  I waited for her response.  She lifted her hand as if holding a hammer and slammed it down onto an imaginary nail.  “You nailed it on the head.” She said.  “I needed to hear that.”

This morning I too am wrestling with foggy perception and frustrated with lack of clarity.  I hear my voice speaking truth into Sole’s life and realize once again that truth is universal.  All I need to do is seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto me.  The focus is Jesus.

Currently I am reading the book of Ephesians.  Paul writes, “by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.”  Today, my revelation that I am writing in brief is this:  Always be willing to speak the truth into someone’s life; accept the kindness of strangers when there is a need; and recognize God’s hand in it all.

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The Light

November 13, 2010

Kavin stares at lights. They attract him in a way nothing else does. He is mesmerized.

This week our family visited the Griffith Park Observatory. I too stare at the incredible lights and displays of God’s masterpieces in the sky. Then I gaze below at the city, seemingly twinkling with decorative displays of color.

This attraction to light reminds me of Scripture. In John Chapter One, Jesus is identified as the light that shines in the darkness. In Chapter Nine, Jesus refers to Himself as the light of the world while He was in the world. However, now that Jesus is in Heaven, Paul describes believers as lights of the world. Jesus Himself in Matthew nine says, “You are the light of the world.”

As I watch Kavin stare at the lit lamp in our living room, I wonder… what kind of light do I shine with my life? Is it dim? Bright? Am I reflecting the glory of the Lord or am I saying I follow, but allowing myself to be infiltrated by the darkness of the culture in which I live?

I want to SHINE and reflect Christ so that the world may know Him because of what He has done in me.

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The Joy of Children

July 31, 2010

Yesterday I got a call from an old friend, a co-worker at a performing arts center I helped manage in college. He said, “I don’t know the details about Kavin, but I look forward to catching up.” Details. Whew! So many details.

How do I explain all we have been through the past four months? From exhilarated expectation… to a difficult, but peaceful labor… to cesarian surgery… to Kavin being whisked away, not being able to hold him for weeks… to “worst case scenarios”… to surrendering him to the Lord to take home if He chose… to his surgery… to his suffering through healing… to his breathing on his own… to his coming HOME!

There is no way to summarize the lessons, the joys, the pain, the peace, the hope, the goodness of the Lord. I have learned to not waste time asking “why?” But to praise Him for the grace He gave us, the strength to endure.

As I held Kavin yesterday, I imagined the Lord’s arm holding back what could have been, only allowing us to experience a portion of the pain, the sickness, the trial. Some may ask, “how could God allow you to go through that?” The same reason He allowed Jesus to be tempted… to prepare Him for the life ahead. The same reason He allowed Jesus to suffer… for the sake of righteousness. The same reason He allows all things to happen… so it can be seen that God causes all things to work for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Kavin brings me such incredible joy. He started laughing a deep belly laugh this week. Just out of the blue he will think something I say or do is hilarious. Oh! How I treasure his laughs!

The amazing thing is, I would go through it again and again. All the pain. All the waiting. All the petitioning. For I treasure so much more deeply the gift of his life than I think I would otherwise. I treasure so much more deeply the privilege of motherhood than I think I would otherwise.

Children, indeed are a joy… and a gift from the Lord!  Kavin is as healthy as I imagine any 4 month old too be. And this, too, is a blessing from the Lord.

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Suffering and Pain leads us to Life

July 24, 2010

In the quiet moments of my soul my thoughts reflect upon the suffering so bountiful in this world.  I still question in absolute trust why the Lord allows such pain and sorrow.  My spirit quivers at the thought that the Lord is restraining the boundaries of sin and death.  I thank the Lord for His grace in my life.  If He did not restrain evil, I would be consumed.

This week He brings to mind some truths from scripture and the world that begin to help me understand the way of the universe in this season of life and death comingling.

First He instructs me from Christ’s own sufferings.  His death was necessary to bring about redemption.  Suffering proceeded victory. The pain lasted a day, but joy came three days later.

Then I think of creation itself.  In this imperfect world, affected by the fall of man in the garden, pain and/or death precede new life.  Seeds must die to bear a new crop; mothers must experience pangs to birth new life; the darkness of night leads the way to the light of day.

Another example comes from Jesus’ teachings to His disciples.  He uses the cycle of death and life in nature to illustrate what must happen in our own bodies to experience eternal life that He offers. John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Paul also uses death and life to teach us about Christian living.  Romans 8:13 “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

From these thoughts I ascertain that physical death comes before spiritual life.  I am to put to death the deeds of the sinful flesh to live by the Holy Spirit.  I also see that I must die to myself in order to live for Christ.  The battle to destroy sin and death comes before the victory dance.  Tribulations and trials are here and will continue to come before Christ’s return in glory (Mark 13).  Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  Praise the Lord that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37)!

I simmer in with these thoughts as I watch Kavin nap in his pack ‘n play.  I almost forget the pain of childbirth as I watch the glory of this little life dreaming away.  Yet, I do not forget the suffering of his time in the hospital.  I do not forget the pain I felt in my heart not being able to hold him, watching him squirm in discomfort from the needles and tubes.  I do not forget petitioning the Lord on my knees in the bathroom at the Ronald MacDonald house late into the night, “Lord, please spare the son of Your handmaiden!”  I do not forget the Lord telling me to “offer Kavin to Me.  Lay him on the alter of sacrifice.”  I still do not understand why.  Why the Lord allowed our family to experience such pain. But I know that through the pain, through dying to my unbelief and clinging to Christ, through sacrificing my understanding to trust in Him… God brought about new life.  New life in Kavin’s physical body, yes, but even further, a new depth of spiritual life in me as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.  His rod and His staff comforted me.

Suffering leads to life, to fruitfulness, to new birth.  I don’t understand why, but I just know it does.  I wish there were another way, but Jesus even Himself asked the Lord, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)  May we all be strengthened to endure the evil of this present age, knowing that we look forward to His blessed hope.

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Servant of All

July 10, 2010

Servant of All

Mark 9:35… If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.

A friend visited with me yesterday and asked, “how do you like motherhood?”  My natural response is to reply with my overall feeling.  “Motherhood is the most amazing adventure yet. I love being a mommy.”  Of course this is true.  I don’t lie when I respond this way, but it is not the whole truth.  This motherhood transition is difficult, scary, and most humbling in addition to wonderful and exciting.

Jason and I visited Huntington Gardens this week.  A friend of mine gave us a year membership for my birthday.  I absolutely love going there.  One moment I am in the middle of the jungle, and a few minutes worth of a walk and I am in a garden in Japan.  Those who know me even slightly know my love to travel and my appreciation of nature.  For the few hours I am at the gardens, both appetites are satisfied.

This week as we walked through the dessert garden, my mind wandered to an overview of my life.  As a baby I spent my days in day care in someone’s home with other kids.  When I did things well, I received praise.  When I did something wrong, correction.  As a young person, I studied in school.  As I did well, I received praise; as I made mistakes, correction.  Then summer time mom and dad sent me to day camp.  Good behavior brought prizes, bad behavior punishment.  On and on all throughout my whole life in different forms I enjoyed gratification from positive acknowledgement of my achievements and efforts and also appreciated corrections and teachings along the way.

Motherhood, however, provides no such accolades or corrections.  I stand unsure from day to day if I am doing a “good job.” My private sacrifice of time, energy, and creativity is not acknowledged with a good grade, time off, or bonus pay.  Unlike school or the workplace, my service is unending and the job is seen as the “lesser things” of this world, things that servants are hired to do.  Cook, clean, shop, and care for the little ones.  Yet loving my husband, caring for our child, and taking care of the home takes more out of me than any high stress job I performed for pay.

I miss work.  I miss the team.  I miss the pats on the back for a job well done.  I miss learning from others.  I even miss making mistakes and being corrected.  The life of motherhood is much like a servant.  If I do my job well, no one notices.  If I don’t do my job well, it is plain to see.

As I transition into this high calling of low recognition I really struggle with pride.  Why does something so menial, take so much of me?  Well, because as I turn to the pages of Scripture, I learn that although the world sees child rearing as mindless, motherhood is anything but menial.  Motherhood is honored and praised.  God knows how much it takes to manage a home, love a husband, and raise godly children.  That is why the Proverbs 31 woman is seen as a woman to be praised for devoting herself to such a life.  In Titus Chapter Two older women are encouraged to teach younger women to love their husbands, love their children, and among other things, to be a worker in the home.  These things are seen as honorable, not menial.

This morning as I read Mark chapter nine, I related to the disciples as they discussed who among them was the greatest.  It is my tendency to desire to be great and to compare my greatness with others.  That is one of the many reasons this season of private ministry in the quietness of the home is such a humbling transition.  There is no one to see my greatness in the simpleness of changing dirty diapers and washing dishes.

In this passage Jesus tells the disciples, “if anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”  Jesus Himself was servant of all as He laid down His life to ransom us from Hell.

After this comment, Jesus explains further in Mark 9:36-37.  Jesus uses a child to illustrate greatness, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

As a mother, I have received my son from the Lord, in His name… and by doing so, by taking him in and raising him for the Lord, I am receiving God Himself.

I shared some of my struggles with the facelessness of motherhood to a friend of mine.  She told me about an illustration she heard from a Woman of Faith conference.  Motherhood, she said, is much like building cathedrals.  We see these beautiful works of art, detailed with the utmost care, the workmen giving their lives and all their creative energy to make a house for God.  Yet they are not remembered, only their work is displayed.  So too, as we love our husbands, serve our children and manage our homes, we may never be noticed for the workmanship and the effort, but we will have created a house for the Lord, for all to see, and the glory will all be His.