Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reality check...

I've been reading a wonderful book on motherhood lately but instead of encouraging me, I have to admit that it sometimes makes me feel downright inadequate. I find that I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the author. I know her intent is to inspire, but it seems sort of unrealistic at times. I am not bashing this book or its author. I just wish that in the midst of all the wonderful scenarios she has painted of her idyllic home life, she had thrown in a touch of "reality" (ie something that would make me feel better about my less-than-ideal home). So, here are my true confessions...

  • When my children whine and have bad attitudes, I don't treat them to candlelit teas in my boudoir. I usually say something inspiring like "stop whining, you're going to drive me crazy."  
  • We don't spend Sunday afternoons reading stories and having tea and delectable treats. I don't bake. We take naps, watch a movie and have leftovers of some kind. 
  • My children have never been to an art museum, an opera, performed in a professional acting company or toured the United States (let alone Europe). 
  • When my kids turn 15, they will not be treated to a trip to another country to celebrate. 
  • They most likely will never have a picnic in a secret grotto in Vienna. 
  • Sometimes I have PMS and act like it.

I don't think I'll ever write a book on motherhood because my life will never be perfect. But I'm ok with that. However, I'll bet if I could pick out all the wonderful moments from my mothering journey thus far, I could write a book that would make me look pretty good too.

Reality is messy. Imperfection is a fact of life in the Slattery household. Just this morning I had to deal with both vomit and spiders. Neither are my favorite, and no one writes books about these things. I certainly wouldn't buy it if somebody did. But it's reality.

And, you know what? In the midst of vomit and spiders and whatever else today throws at me, there's still no place I'd rather be than home with my kids. It's my calling and God gives me grace every day to follow His plan for my life.

So maybe I'll never serve high tea on bone china in my dining room, but that isn't who I am. I am glad that there are people out there who have that gift. I've been on the receiving end of beautiful hospitality and it blesses and refreshes.

This morning, I served my sick daughter tea in the Mickey Mouse mug we bought on our honeymoon. My tea was made with no less love. I am making a pot of homemade chicken soup. The flowers on her bedside table were picked (and crushed) by an adoring toddler. My son made her a homemade get well card. She is listening to my ipod and I'm quite certain it's Switchfoot or Superchick that is playing right now, not Mozart or Bach, but her music is no less beautiful.

Right now, she knows that she is loved and cherished and isn't that what really matters?

My kids may not have been to the opera or the Louvre in Paris, but I have an art gallery in my school room of all my kids' best art projects. I think it's the most beautiful room in my home. We may not ever tour the country with a professional acting troupe, but we have performed many impromptu plays and responsive dances right in my family room. Our home is their stage. It is safe and comfortable and fun.

What I'm really trying to say is, the reality of motherhood is not all wine (or tea) and roses, but it IS worth every moment. I have learned and grown from my mistakes. My children have learned that I am not perfect and have extended me much grace and forgiveness. I have rejoiced when things went smoothly and cried when they didn't. To know that I am training up another generation of Godly children is the greatest privilege I have. Spending several hours once a week discussing this book with wonderful, like-minded women has been refreshing and encouraging because they've shared that none of them are perfect either.

Sometimes it's just a paper plate kind of day at my house, but that doesn't mean that my journey of motherhood is any less beautiful or worthy. Neither is yours. I don't need to measure up to anyone's standards. I just need to be fully me, fearfully and wonderfully made by my God.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A subtle shift...

I've been on auto pilot. I've been sailing through days without my heart and mind fully engaged. This morning, as I was reading from Hebrews I got another wonderful, gentle reminder from God that he wants my full attention.

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, 
so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1

I am so thankful that God had me pause and truly reflect and meditate on this verse. I got so caught up in my own "stuff" that I didn't even realize that I had drifted until this morning. I once saw one of those little church signs that said "If God seems far away, who moved?" I could make a million and one excuses, but the truth is that other things were given my careful attention and my relationship with God drifted from the center.

I am amazed at how subtle it was.  It didn't happen all at once, it was a slow and frighteningly easy parting. I was praying, but it was more like "Thank you, God, for the (fill in the blank)..."  my mouth was telling God that I was thankful, but my heart barely paused to reflect on God's goodness and mercy. I was praying for others with my full attention but I had devoted little time to praying for things in my own life. I hadn't really examined my own heart's condition. The "weeds" that I was starting to see in my life didn't just suddenly appear out of nowhere. I neglected the careful tending of my own thought and prayer life. From my own experience, I know full well it is easiest to pull out weeds when they are still small. They are easier to remove before their roots have fully developed. The author of Hebrews warns us to pay careful attention because it is so easy to become complacent, to drift.

I looked up the definition of the word drift, and it completely described how I've been feeling lately. To drift means to be carried along by currents or wind or by the force of circumstances. Happiness depends on my circumstances, and frankly, I haven't been terribly happy lately. Joy comes from a connection with Jesus and is completely beyond our circumstances. I had mindlessly drifted from my Father and lost my Joy. Drift means to wander aimlessly. Since I really hadn't sought God's true direction for my life, I was just wandering from task to task. My focus was missing and my sense of purpose, gone. Finally, drift means to deviate from a set course. 

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

I'm so glad that God so lovingly pointed me back in the right direction. I had drifted, but God called me back before I was in danger. He isn't waiting for us to fail, he's gently calling us back to a true relationship with him. When we allow him to direct our steps we stop the drift and can be fully restored to his care.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Heavenly music...

Nothing touches my heart like music. I've heard music that brought me to tears, made me fall to my knees, made me dance with joy, and filled me with peace. I try to fill our home with music of all kinds so that my children will at least be able to appreciate good music.

As I was reading my Bible last week, God brought my attention to Zephaniah 3:17 and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.
The LORD your God is in your midst.
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)

I've heard some good music in my life, I've even had the privilege of hearing some great music, but my heart was touched deeply by the thought of the God of the universe "singing" over me. I make God sing? Me? 

Then I allowed my imagination to run wild with what God's song would sound like... I realized that everything I've ever heard on earth, no matter how beautiful, would fall short of the beauty of God's song. I was moved to tears by my inability to grasp even a note of God's music, by the unimaginable beauty and absolute perfection of that song.

I've been blown away before imagining the singing that will happen around God's throne in Heaven, but I had never really meditated on this particular verse before. It has blessed me immensely. I've felt God's presence, I've also been quieted by his love in the midst of anxiety and pain, but I never realized that God exults over me (and YOU!) with singing. I encourage you to listen to your favorite song, one that touches you deeply, and then try to imagine what God's song (just for you!) will be like...