As they pulled out of the driveway I took to cleaning- the house, car, dog, carport. I wrapped every Christmas present. I addressed 100 Christmas cards. And while I did all this mundane, practically methodical work, I had good, quiet, thinking time. I have read these words lately, and felt comforted by them:
"...This is the true ministry of motherhood- to usher my children into the living presence of God, to nurture in them a heart for Jesus and the Great Commission he has called each of us to fulfill."
Right now, as always, with three children of various ages, we are hitting milestones. The little one is reading, wanting to "look perfect", asking theological questions, and trying to discover how to follow Jesus. The middle one is struggling with his own little battles- why do kids find it more easy to be friends with his brother, why are his teeth coming in crooked, is he smart enough, is he good enough. And our oldest, even though a pre-teen, seems to be sailing the smoothest just now. He is always asking questions- especially theological ones- but he seems to be extremely content with himself and the world around him. (We should enjoy this stage, as I am sure it is short-lived.) They are all very happy, in general. But when I really stop and listen (or for the introvert, when I really stop and ASK), I hear and see their struggles. And I know as long as they wear flesh the struggles will be there and I pray they will share them with me!
I am trying to take each day-with all of its trials, profound joys, and ceaseless questions from the little ones- and do and find good and beauty and truth (mainly by redirecting them towards Jesus). We went to my niece's 9th birthday party on Sunday and I was struck by what a difference four years makes- the difference in her and Lydie's ages. Certainly still innocent, my niece is a tender-hearted, darling girl. But she has grown up so much in these few years. I am feeling the urgency to prepare myself in more practical ways. I am trying to mentally articulate my definition of femininity and what I want for my girl between now and age 18 when she is her own woman. It is challenging and exciting. I am praying for other Moms of little girls to come along side me and walk this road (even if it is a mental one right now) with me. I know God will provide those ladies.
I firmly believe reading and following Jesus' words in the Bible plus a commitment to giving lots of time and affection are the two best ways to raise girls OR boys. I catch myself praying for His words and reminding myself to hug, hold, pat, and cuddle. And these two small reminders bridge most of the gaps made by our sins around here. While I know that too much information can lead to robotic, anxiety-filled parenting, I am also open to some creative ideas and helpful reminders. SO, I decided to order some new books. I am going to read Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl, Passport to Purity (for Andy to use with Jackson), and Family-Driven Faith (this has been on my book list for years...maybe half a decade!).
The Passport to Purity kit was recommended by a friend and looks very interesting. It is actually a cd/workbook set for a weekend getaway to be used with pre-teens. The author recommends using it specifically during the summer between 5th and 6th grade. Andy is not a workbook kind of guy. But at least he can use it as a tool with Jack. We plan to take each of our kids on a trip-location determined by their interests- for a weekend for the round two "birds and the bees" talk with the parent of the same gender. I think a fun weekend will be in order for both boy AND Dad after that talk! Even though this time in a child's life is a little dreaded (or dreadFUL!), I am hopeful that it can be really good. My friend who is one year ahead in parenting reminded me that if you like your child, enjoy who he is becoming, this pre-teen stage is really exciting. What an encouragement, and I believe she is right.
I also ordered one more book from my favorite author of parenting books- Sally Clarkson. I love The Ministry of Motherhood, The Mission of Motherhood, and Educating the Whole-Hearted Child. I highly recommend each one of them and have been deeply shaped by each one! So I ordered her devotion book for Moms called Seasons of a Mother's Heart. (Am I subconsciously trying to pacify myself with books because I am dreading the winter months!?!)
I hope and pray that the few friends who read my little words here, along with anyone else who has stumbled by, will be truly blessed by this beautiful Christmas season. I pray you (and I) will find quiet, peaceful moments of worship and wonder as we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world! May we enjoy the overflowing days and count each one a blessing! May we remember to redirect our longings (and those of our children) towards Christ!
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."
I Peter 1:13