Monday, October 27, 2008

Arise and Shine: Being an Exceptional Mother in the Midst of the Ordinary
I'm so glad to see you At the Well this morning! Kim, over at A Second Generation of Homeschooling, is hosting this week's visit. She chose a great topic.

That sounds like some tall order to fill, but it's an excellent call to arms. Especially if you're a mother with children still at home.

Our nest is empty now. When I got married at the age of 20, I got a package deal. My husband had custody of his 6 year old daughter. We met when she was 5, and I fell in love with her from the moment she said, "My name is Kristyn. My daddy's had a million wrecks."
It seems like a lifetime ago. My bonus daughter just turned 24 years old. She is married and has a home of her own and 2 precious sons, ages 3 weeks and 14 months.

I look back on those years of mothering this precious child and wonder, did I mother her as Christ wanted me to mother her? For she needed a mother. She was desperate for a mother-figure. She had a mother who made some pretty bad choices, leaving Steve to raise her with the help of his parents when Kristyn was 3. By the time she was 6, she needed more than a grandmother and an occasional mother in her life. She needed consistency. A port in the storm. An anchor. (I need to be quick to say that her mother has grown up and is a great mother now. Although she only got her every other weekend consistently starting when Kristyn was about 8, through the years she has married and had other children. She is an excellent mother to them and to Kristyn, and a woman of God. I am proud to call her friend.)
Lisa asked some questions that I will have to reach back in the recesses of my memory to find the answer to.
What daily tasks seem mundane or monotonous to you?
Cooking dinner and cleaning. It could seem like such a vicious cycle!

How can we change our outlook when completing these tasks?
I found that praying while I did it helped, as did singing and involving Kristyn and Steve in helping me do it. Kristyn loved to play a game where I would say, "You get the ingredients, I'll cook it." She'd come up with some pretty fun stuff and it was fun to chit-chat while she saw what I'd come up with. Since I worked outside the home, as Kristyn got older, she was really able to help me with the cleaning of the house. After she finished homework, she'd have a few chores she had to do, and it made my job at home much easier. I have always said that I have no regrets in life, but if I had one do-over, it would be to quit work the day we got married and stay at home, learning to live on one income so I could be there for them and not have a divided heart, working both outside the home and in it.

What impact do these tasks have on our husband and children? How does it make a difference in their lives?
Nourishment and having a tidy home make for a nice enviornment to live in. It was always easy for them to feel full and healthy, and for Kristyn to have been able to invite people into our home without worrying what the house might look like.

Is it okay to focus on earthly recognition when completing these tasks for our loved ones, or is receiving an eternal reward sufficient? Which does Jesus think is more important? Shouldn’t that be our focus, as well?
While receiving an eternal reward is what we do get and is more than sufficient, in my opinion, a little earthly recognition is encouraging. Earthly recognition should not be our primary goal, though.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." ~ Philippians 3:12-17

One year, I didn't get a Mother's Day card and nothing was mentioned. Before church that morning, I called Tabitha and asked if she wanted to see Kristyn. On our way over there, we stopped and I let her pick out a card for her mom and some clothes. We dropped Kristyn off at Tabitha's, headed for church, and I never prompted him or berated him for forgetting. While I never mentioned it, inwardly I crumbled. Then I stewed. Was I not deserving of this "trophy"? Did he not view me as a true mother, since I had no fruit of my own womb? Didn't he notice that his daughter was clothed and fed and her homework done and that she could read and....and....wait. Was I doing all this for recognition for some card and perhaps a dinner out? Oh, ouch!

When we got back home, saw Kristyn playing in the yard. What?!? Her mother brought her back home before we even got out of church. (Luckily, Steve's parents were home. At the time we lived on their land in a mobile home behind their house.)

I went in, cooked our own dinner, washed our own dishes, and looked at my family - my family. Earthly recognition is overrated. I had my Mother's Day present laughing in the den with her Daddy while they watched some goofy movie. My husband did realize a few weeks later that he hadn't gotten me anything for Mother's Day. In his defense, Mother's Day falls around our anniversary and his birthday. It's hectic. but he hasn't forgotten since. I think he made it up to me by taking me out to dinner. And he hasn't forgotten since. In fact, sometimes it comes early, hah hah!

As I said before, earthly recognition is encouraging, but it's overrated. Our Father rewards us daily through the privelege of experiencing the joy of watching over our husbands and children in love each day.


LauraLee Shaw said...

Oh wow, what a testimony. I love your last section especially. What a Godly example you are...I'm not sure I could've made it through that mother's day without a meltdown. Yo uhave ministered to me today.

Joyfull said...

You certainly handled that Mother's Day with grace, I also would have had a meltdown! Thank you for being a godly example to many. It is always a joy to visit here and I always leave encouraged. Blessings to you!

Betsy Markman said...

Ah, you answered the questions! :) Good answers, too. I enjoyed your insights.

june said...

Meltdown, that is what I would have had. You are so strong and

God bless,


Patti said...

I found your blog through a comment you left on Kim's (Homesteader's Heart). I am returning to blogging after a year's absence.

I wanted to respond to the part about earthly recognition, and I'm going to say pretty much what I said on Kim's post. I spent years of my life seeking earthly recognition, through DOZENS of church ministries, all to the neglect of my home. Sweet smiles and hugs and a happy husband weren't enough for me. I wanted the praise of EVERYONE. I wanted everyone to see just how hard I worked. I wanted them to see how "spiritual" I was. I wanted them to think they couldn't do it without me. And so, I pretty much abandoned my home duties in order to do TONS of ministries in my church. I was a mom with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and yet I was doing about 6 ministries at one time, feeding my family boxed food in the process and never cleaning my house (as the dust piled up, so did the allergies), rarely reading or playing with my sweet children, not getting fresh air with walks anymore, and on and on. My husband used to have to nearly beg for me to get laundry done. This went on for years, until the Lord finally showed me that I don't need the applause of man, that "I love you, Mom. You're the best. Dinner was great." means far more than the fleeting praise of my church leaders. (I am so passionate about this message that I wrote an article for Above Rubies about 2 years ago, sharing my story)

Sorry I've been rambling. Perhaps I ought to link up and write my own post about this topic.

I hope you have a lovely day,

Homesteader in Training said...

Wonderful post my friend. You have a very gracious heart that like most of ours has gotten more and more gracious as the years have gone by.
Hugs to you.

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...

"As I said before, earthly recognition is encouraging, but it's overrated. Our Father rewards us daily through the privelege of experiencing the joy of watching over our husbands and children in love each day" AMEN!!!!!

Great inspiration, wisdom, and advice, Laurie!


I am taking a break from "At the Well" during election, but love to read others' great insight!

Blessings, friend!

MJ said...

You are an amazing woman. Strong and full of grace.

God Bless You!

Earthmommy said...

I loved this post! I too fall into the trap of wanting Earthly recognition, but the truth is that it is God's recognition we need to seek. ALso, on the mundane tasks subject, I find that reminding myself that I am serving my family in a loving way and serving the Lord by serving them makes things like laundry and dishes seem less mundane and more special.

Thanks for entering my giveaway.

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

As a child who came from a divorced home and knows now the sacrifices of my 'bonus' mom, I can't tell you how much this post speaks volumes to me. Saying your mother's day present was the giggle of your child and that was enough and you were about the business of just loving her, oh, wow!

What a treasure you are and what a great example of strength and inner character.

Many times my 'bonus' mom helped me to make my Mom a card while I never thought to make her one ~ I know those times must have hurt her but she never said a word. She just loved me.

We are very close today ~ her love and acceptance and strength has carried me through many a hard time in my life. I'm a better person because God gave her to me. And I'm so thankful for her. God bless you for selfless love!

Blessings to you today!!

Peggy said...

Blessings Laurie Ann...I usually do not visit on Titus 2 At the Well but I could not pass up this one! Once more you touch the core of my heart!
I even loved your empty nest and that sure is an amazing concept...the photo was great & inspirational!

I loved your honest answers to these questions! I so can relate having raised two children of my husband's niece. I always was respecting her as their mother that truly loved them but just couldn't manage being a single mom very well. I would get mother's day cards for her and not receiving any myself. My husband never was much of a card person or remember occasions like birthdays, anniversary, holidays, Mother's Day! Eventually my kid's got it from me giving to their mom & especially my daughter would make me a card when no one would take them to get me one. I still carry one from her in my Bible here. So I know the pains you share & the joys

Our Heavenly Father knows how our hearts long to have children and He always finds a way to allow us the privilege of experiencing "LIFE"!
I do believe that you mothered her as Christ wanted for He puts any child into our arms for a short time, to instill all we can of Jesus. And then He gives them wings!

Denise said...

Such a lovely testimony my friend, I love you.

Daniel's Mom said...

Amen! This was very encouraging Laurie Ann! Thank you for being a wonderful example not only to your family,but to me.

june said...

My son is 41, and I can say he is very good about remembering my b'day and Mothers Day.

Reading your blog brought back so many memories. I am so glad they are not lost in heaven and we will be rewarded for all the good things we have done.

Denise said...

Beautiful and truthful........ I lost a husband from seeking the Applause of man......... he never came home...... I have grown in the Lord these 25 years....... My praise comes from the smile of my Father God...... it is all sufficient.

Rebecca said...

"Our Father rewards us daily through the privelege of experiencing the joy of watching over our husbands and children in love each day." This is so, so true. Thanks for the reminder.

Cheryl said...

Laurie Ann,

I have no doubt about what a great Mom and Grandmommy you are. These children are so blessed to have you.