Building My Home.

A few days ago, my husband and I got into a heated argument. The type of argument that probably hasn't happened in over a year. The boiling point argument.

Out of his frustration, my husband said, "I'm tired of hearing you yell at our girls." His words struck deep and hurt- not because they weren't true, but because they were all too true. I had had to apologize to my girls for my raised voice one too many times over the course of the day. While the apology was a good start in the right direction- an apology meant nothing if I didn't change my course of action.

With tears in my eyes, I ran to our room, overwhelmed, convicted, ashamed. It'd be easy to blame my actions on the situation- I was pregnant, exhausted, overwhelmed by all that needed to be unloaded and put away. Laundry was already piling up, and groceries needed to be bought. Add to that the fact that our vacation, Christmas, and time as a family was coming to a close. Then add on the simple fact that I have two very busy toddlers, and it's enough excuses to "justify" my frustrations.

However, the circumstances never justify the behavior- the culmination of those frustrations- as a woman who is called to be set apart.

As I was studying my Bible today, I knew I needed to focus on my anger. So I turned to Proverbs. The first place I turned was Proverbs 25:24.

"It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman."

Knife to the heart. I have been that contentious- vexed, heated, impatient, frustrated- woman.

Out of fear, conviction, and desperation, I turned to find a way to remedy my contentious condition. So I turned to Proverbs 14:1.

"A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands."

I spend my days building our home to be a place of rest and refuge through the work of my hands, words, and actions, yet many days I am also the one demolishing it through those same hands, words, and actions. After coming to the realization that the building up of my home is dependent on the choice I make to be a wise woman, I wrote these words as a reminder.

I have the power to build up or destroy. I have the power to bring joy or cause fear. I have the power to encourage or tear down. I have the power to nurture or react. I have the power to pray or walk blindly. I have the power to answer gently or speak sharply. I have the power to redirect and train or destructively discipline. I have the power to set the tone or pace in frustration. I have the power to teach or reverse. I have the power to laugh abundantly or scowl from impatience. I have the power to be present and active or distracted and missed. I have the power to be wise or contentious.

May my words, actions, priorities, choices, direction, and love be that of a wise woman- building my home. How can I build my home today?

 

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A Mother Becoming

Today, you are mama-to-be. At the start of your journey. Your body will be stretched. Your heart will ache for the one you have yet to hold. And just when you think you can't bear it anymore. Your body will bring forth life. Beautiful, sacred, life.

And you, will be her mama. Through those first years, you, mama, will be the source of everything she needs. Your body has done the work of growing her. Now it is the sacrifice of your heart and soul to nurture her. Your body will admit defeat. Long nights turn into early mornings. Exhaustion overwhelms, and you'll long to feel like you again... yet, mama, you continue to give and pour into that sacred life day after day. 

Towards the end of the first year, she will look to you and say "Mama", your favorite name, her word for everything... because to her You Are Everything.

As she transitions from baby to little girl, your name changes again. Mama means everything, yet she is growing more independent everyday. She can eat by herself, put on her own clothes, and has even mastered potty-training. Soon, she'll be walking the halls of school alone. Simply waving before she enters those doors, as you look on longing for your home to be full again. She needs less of you physically. 

And so, she calls you mommy. Mommy brings comfort. Mommy cares. Mommy is always there. In the midst of her independence she will fall and fail. She will get bruised and cry out for help- Mommy. This is where you nurture, comfort, and encourage her soul. You are a gardener, and she, your rose. The truths and love you speak now she believes and carries her whole life. And from those words, she will bloom. Mommy. Mommy cares. Mommy loves. Mommy is always there.

Eventually, your name will change again. A child too preoccupied with growing up, friends, and extracurriculars, will be too old for her everything mama and too independent for her caring mommy. 

So she'll shorten your name to mom. Perhaps shortening your role in her life. Or maybe, your shortened name will be a reminder of the short time you have left before she goes. 
There will be arguments. You'll wonder if she's retained or even cares about the things you've poured into her. You'll start to believe you don't matter anymore. But don't fret. 

Mom simply means home. Mom means a single constant in an adolescent's world of chaos. Mom gives refreshment and life to her child overwhelmed with this stage of life. Mom means there is always someone to go back to. 

This season is a season of battles, your heart will feel torn, your spirit almost crushed... but don't look beyond the battles. For in the midst of the battles, mom is the reminder of everything that young warrior longs to be. Stand tall, Mom. Keep refining, Mom. She will come home, Mom.

In what seems like a flash, there you will sit. Your shining silver hairs will gleam in the sun, a vision of the brilliant crown awaiting you in glory. Your name longer, much like the life you've lived. Your days simple. Your home awaiting the next visit. And your heart longing for the mama, mommy, and mom you were yesterday. 

You won't hear your name as often as you used to, and many of your updates come by phone. But you will sit waiting, longing to hear your child's voice again. And when she calls, she'll say, "Hello Mother!" Mother- meaning faithful, wise, grace-filled, kind, love.

On this journey of motherhood, your task has been much more than raising children. Your greatest task has been to personify these words... always pointing back to Jesus.

You brought forth life, and gave her your everything. - Mama

You nurtured hearts, planting seeds of the gospel. In the midst of comforting you introduced the Great Comforter. -Mommy

You stood tall, unrelenting, unwavering, a constant home. In the midst of battle after battle, you revealed Unconditional Love. - Mom

And there you will you sit. Your simple days will be spent praying and reading. Faithful. Wise. The legacy you'll leave behind will be stamped with the gospel at every twist and turn. And your children will called you blessed. - Mother

They Aren't Mine.

Two nights ago I laid in bed, tears streaming down my face, thinking about my girls sleeping soundly in the room across the hall, my heart pounding through all my fears. I had just seen photos of the children lost in Syria, and read the story of a little boy's last moments with his mama. So, I got up, snuck into their room, got on my knees, grabbed my sweet Star's hand, and wept as I prayed over my girls. While I sat in the quietness of their room, the Lord reminded me of words spoken to me just a few weeks ago- "They aren't yours." Typically His gentle reminders bring a calm to my overwhelmed soul. But in this moment, these words only brought more tears to my eyes. "They aren't yours", is the most terrifying phrase that's ever been spoken to me. Yet, I cannot deny it's truth. They aren't mine.

As I wept on my knees, terrified, I was also reminded of who spoke them to me. A woman who sang hymns over her first born child as she breathed her last breaths. Her first moments as a mother brought truth to the words- "they aren't yours." She wasn't even able to make it through her first day of motherhood without surrendering her control over to the Father, trusting His plan to be perfect, even if it meant she would leave the hospital empty-handed. Yet, even after facing the death of her daughter, she not only sought to have more children, but she also raised them with the same declaration- they aren't mine. And for my entire life, my mom has lived these words out in faith.

Most days, it's easy for me to quote the verses that bring comfort- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart", "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord", "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." When I look at my girls, I see a curly headed daughter who is in every way my spirit. She embodies so much of my soul, and brings such life to it. Then I look over and I see my baby-blue-eyed heart. A heart that is filled with immense joy and love for all people. When it comes to them, it's a little bit harder to say I love the Lord with all of my heart and soul. It's a little bit harder to say I trust Him completely. It's a little bit harder to say that I know His plans will give us a hope and a future, even if it means I don't get to hold onto these hands forever. The little feet that pitter-patter around our home, and the sweet hands that fit so perfectly into mine are the hardest things I have ever had to surrender. But the words are true- they aren't mine.

So on the days when my fear outweighs my surrender, I must always return to the cross. At the cross, I am reminded that my Heavenly Father willingly sacrificed His son. The Lord knows full well the weight of surrendering a child, and He understands my fears in the midst of all the suffering and evil. But He also cannot accomplish His great plan, a plan that goes far beyond our time here on earth, through me or through them if I am unwilling to surrender my girls over to Him.

I do not know what His plans hold, and I cannot keep our home safe from every evil of this world. But I choose to speak these words over my children everyday-

 

They aren't mine.

When my fears drown out my faith- they aren't mine.

When the flood of evil threatens our shelter of peace- they aren't mine.

When sickness or injury steals- they aren't mine.

When it's hard to surrender- they aren't mine.

They are Yours.

Because they are Yours, I do not have to fear the unknown.

Because they are Yours, I am assured that while evil may invade, You are our fortress.

Because they are Yours, I know that when the strength of their body or mind is stolen, their souls are held in the palm of Your hand.

Because they are Yours, may your perfect will be done.

For they aren't mine. They are Yours.