Navigating our current culture the last couple of weeks has been almost unbearable as a woman who has spent most of her adult life ministering to, studying, observing, and fighting for women. The unbearable part for me has been watching the assault women are launching on each other. The lines have certainly been drawn. There are millions of women hurting, angry, and scared about where our country might be going….and there are millions of women who are thrilled. Verbal grenades are being thrown back and forth, leaving relationship casualties in their path. I have never seen so much carelessness with words – so much lack of concern about who may be hurt – so much assumption that surely everyone must agree with one’s opinion – so much apathy towards those that may disagree. My main concern is really with the church and the seemingly collective desire to demand behavior modification from those who do not yet love Jesus in order to make the world a nicer place to live in for those who do. This, my friends, is not the gospel.
Tomorrow you will be leaving my nest forever. We’ve had a trial run. You came back. But this time is for good. You are building your own nest for you and your bride. In twenty-four days, you will pledge your life and love to Anna forever, and a new family legacy will begin.
We told you tonight, in the middle of another one of our long talks, that it is hard to send you off with so little. We wish that we could bless you monetarily in ways that we cannot. But as we send you off with the stockpile of hand-me-down furniture and dishes we’ve been saving for you, there are several things on my mind.
It is true that you were our guinea pig. You have the privilege of being our first born. We have tested all of our parenting practices on you. Sometimes we failed. You will leave here not knowing everything you need to know. We know that there are so many things that we probably haven’t taught you. Some things we just haven’t thought about teaching. Some we didn’t know how. Some things you weren’t interested in learning, and we didn’t force it.
But there are a few things we hope you leave home having unshakeable confidence in:
Pre-teen years are hard. Brains are re-wiring. The appeal of toys is going away, but the ability to go wherever and do whatever has not yet arrived. Every year, as we enter summer, we do a massive room cleaning with the boys. This year, our twelve year old decided he was ready to sell all the Nerf guns. Sigh. I’ve watched his hobbies become increasingly more screen dependent, so I began to encourage finding a hobby.
What about fishing?
What about building stuff with wood?
You could read more!
I hate to read.
Like most of you, I’ve spent most of this week cleaning up after Christmas! It’s like a puzzle. Cleaning out old things, finding places to put the new, rearranging furniture, washing countless piles of bedding and towels, taking down the tree… You get the picture.
It got me to thinking. When you read the Christmas story, it ends with Mary and Joseph moving back to Nazareth with little Jesus, after they had fled to Egypt. Next verse: “…when He was twelve years old…”
Several times a year our church hosts what is called Discipleshift, where churches from all over the nation bring their leaders to learn about relational discipleship. As a staff, we take turns hosting tables at lunch time for our guests. Attendees choose tables based on areas of ministry, if they are interested in knowing more about how we do ministry in that area. Today was my turn to host the women’s ministry table, and Vicki came to sit with us.
I asked Vicki to tell me about her church in Malawi, and the stories that began to come out of her were remarkable.
Vicki shared with me how she and her husband were both from Zambia. She had been a travel agent, and her husband a tour guide. They were leaders in their local church and getting their five children through school. But God began to stir in her husband’s heart. One day he told Vicki, “God wants us to go minister in Malawi.” Vicki asked how they would support themselves, and he said, “God will provide.”
Tucked in the Christmas story is perhaps one of the best outlines I’ve ever seen for women to follow in encouraging each other.
Elizabeth was old, she had been infertile her whole life, and was the wife of a priest. Six months before Mary is told she is carrying the son of God, Elizabeth’s husband is also greeted by an angel who informs him that his old, barren wife will have a son – a son whose life mission will be to prepare the way for the son of God.
There are so many applications in this story, that I find it very difficult to stay on track. We could talk about Zechariah, and his unbelief. We could talk about Elizabeth’s support of her husband. We could talk about the symbolism of Zechariah’s role, and the prayers they offered…but I’m going to focus on another aspect.
Right after Christmas, the transmission went out on our van. We’ve had this van for about eight years. It was 12 years old, and had over 200K on it. It had served us well, and it was more expensive to repair than it was worth. We elected not to repair it, and just get by with one car for awhile.
People would often ask what we were looking for, and really we weren’t looking.
It seems that things are happening really fast right now. I’ve had a few reality checks this week with all that is accumulating on my “plate.” For three years I’ve sat wondering what God had in store, and if His plan would really happen….or if it was His plan at all, for how could His plan NOT happen.
I’ve felt useless, bored, unfulfilled, and frustrated.
As I’ve met with some other women and discussed projects and plans, I’ve found myself saying, “Well, I didn’t really finish that because I didn’t know if it would ever be used.”
And now I’m asking myself the questions….
We’ve had a bit of a reality check around here the last few days.
On Friday, a stranger tried to pick up one of my children from the elementary school.
Yesterday, there was a bomb threat and evacuation at my son’s high school.
Some would say, “That’s why we home school.”
But God hasn’t told me to home school. In fact, He’s told me NOT to home school. I know it surprises some that you can have your kids exactly where He wants them and scary things can still happen. But this is the real world…..where scary things happen even when you are right where you belong.
In the end, my sons were both safe. The schools were caring and followed protocol.
It was still about more emotion than one mama bear can handle in a week, though.
That is where the reality check came in.
Who do my kids belong to?
Do I really believe He’s big enough to care for them?
Do I really believe He’s got them covered?
Do I really believe that God has a plan for their life, and I can trust Him with it?
Easier said than done sometimes. I’m sure the mama in Yakima whose eleven year old boy was hit and killed on the same day my eleven year old boy escaped kidnapping, is asking herself lots of hard questions that I can’t answer. I’m sure the mama of the young man in our church who was killed on a motorcycle this weekend is asking God lots of hard questions that I can’t answer.
Our power only goes so far.
I could call the news station and tell them something was happening, but I couldn’t force them to produce news.
I could stand outside the fence at school and stare at my son, but I couldn’t remove him from lock-down.
I could file a police report regarding the mysterious driver, but I couldn’t capture him.
Mamas have to ask themselves hard questions sometimes.
What does it really mean to release your children to the Lord? What does it mean to trust Him?
….and then when you think you truly have it down – there’s a pop quiz!