Friday, February 19, 2010

What Now?

I've been a mom for 29 years. At that time in my life, I KNEW that was what I was supposed to do. Being a mom was my calling, my ministry, my life. The experiences of labor and delivery ... breastfeeding and diapers ... first tooth and first steps ... potty training ... play dates and kindergarten ... athletics ... driving cars ... dating ... missed curfews ... rebellion ... high school graduation -- all seem to be highlighted in my mind with my four children. I was a mom. This was just what I do. It was my life. And it was a life that I loved and cherished, that I enjoyed. Seriously, how can someone fall desperately in love with all four of her children?! But, I did.

Being a mom changed my life in so many ways. I truly learned to put someone before myself. I learned that being patient was a day-to-day lesson that I needed to constantly relearn. Other lessons I learned:
* Crayon marking on flat-paint walls don't come off without taking off paint.
* Speaking disrespectfully to your children produces children that speak disrespectfully to you.
* Children watch constantly. As a mom, I need to set the example in my home.
* Hide the vaseline from the kids or it will be on doorknobs, in hair, and on walls.
But above all, God taught me how to parent through His Word and His example, and I saw that even the best parents made mistakes and had imperfect children.

In 2010, my kids have all either married, graduated from college, or moved away from home. Now what?! For the first time in my life, I feel a little unsure. My identity was so wrapped up in my children. I'm a mom, for Pete's sake!! I never really looked ahead to when my job would basically be over. No longer am I in the "game" with my kids, but I'm on the sidelines as an observer. Hmmmm. It's not really what I had anticipated. And to be honest, it's definitely not what I would choose. I miss the days of baseball in the living room with imaginary bases ... of popping Barbie's head back on and being the hero ... of kissing away boo-boos ... of rocking sleeping babies.

This has been one of those topics that God and I discuss often as my children and I continue to grow older. Well, actually, it's more like my whining and crying until God gets my attention, and then the discussing can begin. God basically just listens to me, and occasionally He'll remind me of something. Some of the things that God has shared with me?

1) He's told me that being a mom was what I "did", not who I am. Instead, my identity is to be found in Him.
2) My job as a "coach" in my children's lives is basically over. I AM an observer at this point (unless they ask me for some guidance and advice, and how I love it when they do!). At this point, God is the coach, and I am on the sidelines. My job requirement at this point is to pray, pray, pray!! That's one job that will never quit.
3) My children were never mine in the first place. God gave them to me -- they were on "loan". My job was to teach them, train them, love them, and prepare them to enter the world without me. They need to stand on their own -- without me -- and lean on Christ. If they're doing that, then my job was one that was well done.
4) I have my wonderful husband. After all of these years of babies, toddlers, and teens, he still loves me and continues to enjoy being with me. I find that I love him more and more as the years go by. My "mom hat" might be on the shelf, but my "wife hat" still fits!

Even though I still sometimes question, "Now what?!", I know that God continues to have a plan for my life. I have to remember that I'm not just a wife ... or a mom ... those are both things that I DO, not WHO I AM. I'm Christ's and He's given me the privilege of ministering as a wife and a mother. Once again, it's just another day of Finding Me In Him.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Incredible SONshine!!

I am a firm believer that for every physical thing on earth, there is a spiritual counterpart. For example, just like we need food for our physical bodies to thrive and survive, we need spiritual food for our spiritual bodies to grow. Or, like athletes in a contest work hard to succeed, so do we spiritual athletes need to continue to work out as well through prayer and Scripture reading so that we'll succeed spiritually. Basically, I believe that there's a lesson in most anything. And I'm so grateful that God teaches in pictures and simple things, because I very definitely have a simple mind that needs to keep things as basic as possible.

The most recent lesson I've learned was in regard to the weather. Here in Oklahoma, we've had abundant snowfall ... gray, dreary days ... fog ... days and days without the sunshine. Personally, I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, a disorder with the following characteristics: a craving for carbohydrates (finally! an excuse!! Pass the chocolate, please!), loss of energy, and oversleeping -- to name a few. As I'd talk to my fellow Oklahomans, I realized I wasn't the only person with these particular symptoms. Seems like everyone I know has been hungry for a little bit of spring weather. Warmth, sunshine, blue skies ... ah!! We crave it! We also all seemed to agree that yes, we've been touched with S.A.D. The treatment? Getting sunlight ... lots and LOTS of sunlight. Well, when there has been little to no sunlight for a month, that's a little on the difficult side. We'd wait, and watch ... listen to the weather reports ... discuss what sunlight used to feel like "back in the day". But today ... oh, wonderful today!! The sun not only peeked out from behind the clouds, it appeared in all of its blazing glory -- heating up the earth, melting what little snow we've had left behind, and basically brightening up the faces of all of the winter-weary Okies. Walk down the street and you can be greeted by people who shout out, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" Kids are playing in their front yards ... clerks in the grocery store greet customers cheerfully when they walk in ... and life here in Oklahoma is wonderful!

So, I was thanking my very gracious God for the wonderful gift of His sunshine today. How often I've taken it for granted, but how grateful I am today for this very precious gift!! And, He once again started working on my very simple mind with His pictures and correlations between the physical and the spiritual. God reminded me that as much as I crave the SUN, so my soul craves the SON. The "physical me" needs sunshine to survive ... to thrive ... to bring joy to my inner being. The "spiritual me" needs Jesus so I don't wither up and die ... so that I have hope ... so that I have a future. If I go for any length of time without Jesus, my soul begins to live in the darkness without the Son. And just like I grow depressed without sunlight, so many things happen in my life when my focus isn't on Christ. I become self-centered ... I wallow in self-pity ... I grow angry ... I lose hope. As much as I want to live my life centered in the sunshine, even more I want my life to be grounded in the Son. For me, there IS no other way to live.

So, a big thank-you goes out to the Father for His faithfulness in teaching me yet another lesson through His physical world ... just one more time of Finding Me In Him ...