Thursday, March 28, 2013

At any cost

I was cleaning the kitchen yesterday, which meant I was listening to a talk online. I've found that listening to sermons and speeches is my favorite way to get cleaning done. I almost look forward to a chance to mop the kitchen floor now (so much so, in fact, that the new floor has been mopped a total of errrrr .... one time .... since my husband installed it).

Anyway, the speaker was Elisabeth Elliot. I enjoyed her talk about Sulking (although I'm glad my husband wasn't around to give pointed looks) and continued to listen to a different talk.

In this talk, she referenced Betty Stam. I first heard about Betty Stam from my grandmother. I can't remember the connection, but I think it was that my grandfather knew either Betty or her husband, John.

When Betty was ten, she wrote the following poem:

"I cannot live like Jesus,
Example though He be,
For He was strong and selfless,
And I am tied to me.
I cannot live like Jesus;
My soul is never free.
My will is strong and stubborn;
My love is weak and wee.
But I have asked my Jesus to live His life in me.

"I cannot look like Jesus.
More beautiful is He
In soul and eye and stature
Than sunrise on the sea.
Behold His warm, His tangible, His dear humanity.
Behold His white perfection of purest deity.
Yet Jesus Christ has promised that we like Him shall be."

Ten years old!!

And then, when she was eighteen, she wrote the following prayer:

"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt. Work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."

John and Betty Stam were young missionaries to China in the 1930's. They were beheaded. John was 27; Betty was 28.

Their newborn daughter, Helen, was rescued by a Chinese pastor and later raised by relatives.

And here I am, pushing the broom haphazardly, thinking how this is my son's job and not mine. I'm roughly shoving the washcloth across the table (daughter's job) and figuring my husband wasn't here to hear the talk about sulking, so there is no one to mock me about acting the martyr.

Only that's just it. I'm only acting the martyr. "At any cost"?

What cost is being exacted on me? The cost of a few minutes straightening the kitchen, listening to an enjoyable teacher, while my perfectly capable children are working hard (and, admittedly, weepingly) at their schoolwork? The cost of having a chance (which I squandered) of cheerfully demonstrating love (I John 3:16: "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers")?

At any cost?

The cost of seeing my husband die? The cost of having my baby taken away from me? The cost of seeing a stranger die for the life of my daughter? The cost of not knowing my child's future? The cost of my own life?

What about the cost of not being thanked? The cost of watching children gag on the mushrooms (again)? The cost of being so exhausted I cannot stay awake for the 41,839th rerun of "Seinfeld"? The cost of not ever being able to read more than 1/2 a page of my book without being interrupted? The cost of washing clothes I know were only thrown into the hamper because their owner was too lazy to fold them neatly in the drawer? The cost of stickers stuck to the floor? The cost of eleventeen temporary "tic-tac-toos" plastered to the arms and bellies of most of my children? The cost of hearing the twenty-fifth retelling of a superhero dream that I can't and don't want to follow?

The cost of smiling even when my proud self wants to argue that the smile is hypocritical? The cost of having my feet stepped on by baby feet every day for eleven+ years? The cost of not sighing when the child with the wet PJ's insists on climbing into MY side of the bed? The cost of letting my husband enjoy his sleep in the early morning, even when mine has been ended by [insert name of any child living here]?

I won't pretend it's easy. This life, even apart from actual terrorists and murderers, is not easy. But it's not the dishes and the laundry and the schoolbooks that complicate things.

It's my own heart.

It's that "I am tied to me."

It's that I don't take hold of the fullness that is life in Christ. I choose the filth and the self-pity and the wretchedness. Sure, I have been lavished upon with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus and have been adopted through Jesus Christ and have redemption through his blood (Eph. 1).

But I forget that. I choose to forget that. At least every day, I choose to forget the good and cling to the bad. Just call me an Israelite, and take me back to the luscious land of slavery.

Like David, I must say,

"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my salvation and my God" (Ps. 43:5).

And with John Stam:

"Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit's glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid -- of that?

"Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Savior's face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid -- of that?

"Afraid? Of what?
A flash -- a crash -- a pierced heart;
Darkness -- Light -- O Heaven's art?
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?

"Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not -- 
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? -- of that?"

Only it's not the death I seem to be afraid of ... it's real LIFE.

And that's what I'm pondering this morning.

Friday, March 22, 2013


(My response to this very honest question on the MOMYS forum: "How do you know when you've reached your limit?" She was speaking of number of children. And boy, do I know limits):

ONE was my limit. Seriously.

I don't have nine (well, ten counting the one kicking me from the inside) because I am strong.

I have ten because I am exceedingly weak and exceedingly fertile.

I am *not* of the mindset that everyone should have as many children as physically possible. I do believe that God is the Author of all life and has given us means to enjoy a break from pregnancy, should our current condition warrant it.

I think there is much support biblically for the idea that how we parent is far more important than how many we parent.

That being said, I know the swamped feeling. I know the "I can't DO THIS!!!" feeling. I know the guilt of fleeting intense desires to just have things back for an instant the way they were, pre-children.

And I know the well-worn path back to the cross. I know the Savior.

I know that each day, whether I feel capable or not, whether I have things in place or not, whether I *like* my children that day or only love them, whether I've slept, whether I'm prepared, whether I'm sick, whether I'm upbeat, whether I'm downtrodden, whether I'm up for the fight...

It's always Him. It's always Him. It's always Him.

There are days (moments?) where I am so aware of the gift that this mothering journey is. There are times when my cup overflows and I can barely breathe for what a blessing my life is. There are times when my menus are planned, the schoolwork is done, the floor is vacuumed, and the sun is shining.

But there are mostly times when my menus are nonexistent, the schoolwork is scattered and stained with hot tears, the floor is ... somewhere, and the sun only glares.

And in that mess, I am every bit as blessed as in the calm. I don't FEEL it. I feel frazzled and climbed on and stressed and fat and DONE.

And that's when I have to remember to stop looking at the mess. Stop looking at myself. Look up. Look at Him. Because it's always, always Him. We are never in control, even when we feel it. We are never capable, even when it seems that way.

Only He is. And He never fails. He never grows weary. He never lets us slip from His hand.

So when I feel like I've reached my limit? Really, it's just a glimpse of reality. "Lord, I see that I am so weak. You are so strong. Your grace is made perfect in my weakness. Please, please, please help me believe that. Help my children see that. Less of me, more of You."

And that's the long view I take. Take heart. He has no limit.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Home Sweet Home

I've neglected this online spot of late. It's not a sign that nothing has been going on; instead, it's a sign that much has been going on. Nothing monumental worthy of notifying the world, but plenty of good ol' fashioned "can't-catch-my-breath-much-less-these-toddlers-due-to-all-the-living-we're-doing." Do you know what I mean? It's the cycle of meals and cleaning up meals and making the next meal and cleaning that up to make the next meal. And the cycle of doing laundry so you have something to wear so I have something to wash so you have something to wear so I have something to wash.

 Only it's become much less burdensome lately. Maybe some of it is happy second trimester hormones. Maybe some of it is growing content as I grow older. Maybe some of it is my children growing older and more helpful. And mostly lots of it is a husband who rearranges our entire downstairs and makes this house finally feel...right. A husband who installs a new kitchen floor (vinyl plank flooring...a distressed barnyard grey...I LOVE it, and thank you so much for the suggestion, Jenny!), and installs it twice (oops, it came up on the first side of the room, let's take it apart and do it again). It's a floor so nice we installed it twice!

That room that we never could use well? The one that ended up being the catch-all for school books and craft projects and ugly furniture? A new-to-us sofa and loveseat, and a new-to-anyone set of slipcovers tailored by my husband with about 80 upholstery tacks, and it's suddenly a very functional, entirely enjoyable Family Room.

The room off the kitchen? The one that used to be our TV room with not enough seating for our family? A new-to-us set of matched Ethan Allen chairs and some furniture rearranging, and it's now our music/work/conversation room (we've yet to agree on a name: I like "Living Room"; he argues that that is interchangeable with "Family Room" and likes "School Room" but I say that's confusing because we used to call the other room that...).

The bonus of having the piano right off the kitchen is that I am much more aware of how much time children are actually spent *practicing* and how much time is spent *playing...around*. Much to their chagrin, the time spent practicing has dramatically increased (and, I most happily add, so has their ability).

It just feels...right. We've lived here almost three years. Finally I've gotten around to making the boys lined curtains (I have only one window to go...woo-hoo!). The girls finally have curtains (store bought...thank you Blue Light Special).

Every night I walk through this house, and I feel this deep sense of contentment and satisfaction. It all just feels so very ... us ... now.

It makes the meals and the laundry and the rhythm of the days so much more bearable, enjoyable even.

Sigh...18 inches of Not Spring

A new dozen to join The Remnant from our first dozen
It's good to be home.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Protected by Copyscape Duplicate Content Detection Tool