They got a little more than they bargained for when they put the sign out.
“Kids Eat Free Monday Nights”
One of the few local restaurants in the Lexington area, where we had been camping and staying in our aunt and uncle’s farmhouse, watched (in horror, possibly?) as we filed six children into the restaurant. We had just gotten settled, when a family with TEN kids filed in and found their seats.
We parents smiled, knowing smiles, and then started a little bit of small talk.
During a break in conversation, our family paused to pray over our food, and then the ice was broken.
We immediately started talking about the Lord and our different spheres of work (they work with Young Life in the Shanendoah Valley). And what started in an all-you-can-eat-buffet-that-our-families-were-putting-out-of-business evolved into a friendship. Afterwards they came over to the farmhouse for the kids to play and the parents to fellowship, followed by an invitation to see all the animals at their house the following night (can we say, FREE petting zoo???). Free food+big families+common love for the Lord= immediate friendship.
At a season in life when six kids seems so overwhelming, getting to talk to the mom was like gulps of oxygen when one is drowning. I picked her brain and tried to soak up as much wisdom as possible…observing their home, the helpfulness of their kids, their spirit of unity and peace with one another. Don’t get me wrong, their life is not perfect, as juggling homeschooling, the needs of ten children, and a son who has a severe brain disorder which requires frequent trips to specialists and therapies, probably makes her feel as if she is drowning at times as well.
We chatted about what I had been doing earlier in the day and I shared with her about the book I have been working on for the past (nearly) two years.
“Oh wow. Thats awesome.” she says.
The husband piped in,
“Honey, I bet she keeps a blog, too.”
They exchanged a glance at each other and I started prying.
What followed was the best piece of “advice” that she could have given…although she wasn’t intending to advise, or lecture, but simply share her heart about the wrestling with this generation of mothers who raise kids, homeschool, blog and run businesses all at the same time.
“Do you keep a blog?” I asked.
“No….I have this thing with blogs. I used to read them but I ended up getting so discouraged because everyone was homeschooling a bunch of kids, making organic meals, sprouting grains, or running these successful business from home, and I would just get so down on myself. I got tired of living my life comparing myself to others that seemed so productive. Also, sometimes it seemed like just a platform to get glory, or the praise of men. I just decided to stop looking at them and focus right here on my home.”
“We didn’t even have a cell phone for a long time,” she continued. “.. much less a smart phone…which I think can be so distracting from what is right in front of you. You probably think I’m just out here in the country stuck in the last century, but this is what works for our family and it helps me focus on the people and tasks that God has given me right here.”
Oh conviction set in. Not condemnation. But Holy Spirit conviction.
Maybe this was the start of the answer to my desperate cry for JOY again.
The faithful seeds she has planted in the unseen, disconnected-from-intense-cyberworld family are growing and bearing fruit. Her home was so orderly, her ten kids incredibly helpful, her teen girls incredibly artistic and musical, her small children cooperative. Her son is about to go off and join the army, a “tree of righteousness” in a world where solid young men like him are needed.
All of her kids were kind and helpful toward mine while we visited…picking up instruments and playing so that all the kids could dance, helping them do coloring time, showing off the many different animals they have, being patient with the loud craziness exuberance of my little flock.
The next morning as I sat on the front porch of the farmhouse, stealing time with the Lord before the children arose, I read this proverb.
“A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” Prov. 17:24
I reflected on how frazzled I feel constantly. I reflected on how my desires for my home life and how the reality of it is far different. I reflected on my conversation with Melissa the night before. It was like the Holy Spirit was confirming it with His Word this morning.
A discerning wife keeps wisdom ALWAYS before her. the wisdom of the Word of God. The wisdom of what older wiser women counsel us in. But the foolish wife allows her eyes and focus to wander to the ends of the earth through blog surfing, Facebook obsession, and instagram addictions.
How can one be fully engaged in the life that the God of the universe has entrusted to you, if our eyes are constantly wandering?
No wonder my children are frazzled.
Their mother is.
No wonder my children are so easily distracted.
Their mother is.
No wonder my children complain, and bicker, and fight each other.
Their mother has been complaining, and bickering and fighting the God who has given me THIS MOMENT, and THIS SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES, and THIS CAPACITY. Always wanting more, or different, or more productive, or more orderly, or more well behaved….just like those “other” moms, is my set of boxing gloves that I use to fight my Creator.
What if I stopped the fighting, and started submitting.
What if I stopped the wandering, and started keeping wisdom in view.
What if my eyes, my gaze settled fully on the tasks before me: the never ending workload of running a home with six children scampering around. the never ending need for shepherding and discipling hearts through the tussles of childhood. the never ending training that is required for children to learn how to care for themselves and others.
And what if those eyes took in this task, and declared,
“I don’t have what it takes to do this well. But I know the God of order, the God of love, the God of enduring faithfulness that DOES have what it takes. I yield my body and my life, and my eyes and my focus to be faithful HERE. And I will plant the seed of my life into the dark ground of running this home, and pouring into these kids and I will trust the Lord of the Harvest, to bring the growth, bring the increase, and bring the Harvest.”
Then, these wandering eyes
might keep into view
found in a life of
complete dependence upon God’s word to guide, and the Spirit of God to empower.
Snippets of our full life