Thursday, August 7

How It All Began: Adventures in Motherhood, Part I

To bring you up to speed on our lives: This week, my youngest started kindergarten, and the other two started in 2nd and 4th grade. This week, my mom left after a two-week stay here where she did all my dishes and laundry. (Thanks, Mom!) This week, my husband went on a week-long backpacking trip to Colorado while I stayed home to get the kiddos off to school.  (Thanks, dear!)

We're also in the middle of buying a house and becoming foster parents. Like, right now. One life event never seems to be enough in our family, we prefer juggling two or three simultaneously.

But, I digress. Lately all these changes have caused me to think about defining moments in my life, moments that clearly outlined the path I knew I wanted to take.

9 1/2 years ago, I felt like my life should look like this all the time:

  • Regal, intellectual husband who "abounded in the work of the Lord" as the senior pastor of our small church in a rural town
  • Modestly clad, doting wife who spent hours each week at church helping said pastor-husband to abound while maintaining a meticulously clean house, cooking 3 meals a day from scratch, taking care of an infant, and entertaining guests daily, always with a smile on her face 
  • And finally, our beloved firstborn Linsey Ruth, love child of the abounding individuals mentioned above, who would supernaturally enhance the abounding work of the ministry rather than distract from it. 
(And, of course, the picture wouldn't be complete without a wooden cross in the background)

Yeah.. that was my psychosis in a nutshell.

My husband quickly came to loathe those days our beloved firstborn and I came to church to help him abound in ministry, which I couldn't understand. So I often worked on church duties at home, which was fine, but I found myself increasingly impatient with this infant who daily soiled multiple outfits, wanted to eat constantly in the daytime, and also woke me up several times each night. On top of it all, my regal husband would come home from a hard day at work, and I was so flustered with the baby and all the "ministry" I was doing that often, the house would be in disarray and dinner a far-off dream. This was not what I had envisioned at all, and I was frustrated. (So was he.)

I remember washing Linsey's fourth or fifth dirty outfit of that particular day in the laundry room sink and crying, "God, don't you know I could do so much more for you if I didn't have to spend so much time on all this trivial work?!"

Some say they hear God speak to them. While I've never known that to be true for me, this event was as close as I believe I'll ever come to that happening. It was like I felt His hand on my shoulder, and in my heart I heard the words, "Liz, you've got it all wrong. THIS is what I have for you right now, at this season of your life. I want you to take care of your family - when you make dinner and wash the clothes and get up in the middle of the night to nurture your tiny baby, I want you to do those things for Me. They are what's most important."

That moment began to define motherhood for me. Realizing my family was my greatest ministry took away some of the competition between church and house work. I began to sing songs about being a servant while doing the laundry. I hung a prayer list above my kitchen sink on a clip so I could pray as I was cleaning up.  I scrubbed the floors to a shine, for the Lord.

But most importantly, I began to delight in being a mom. Oh, I liked it before, but now I was able to play with my baby and hold her and not feel like I should be doing anything else - because nothing was more important than being the best mom I could be.. for the Lord, and for my family. 

As our family has grown, so has the chaos, and that moment continues to define motherhood for me. My family is my first priority. This helps me say no to activities I could do that would needlessly take me out an extra night or two each week. It helps me relax and have fun with my girls even when there are things I "should" be doing around the house. When they want me to create masterpieces with them out of play doh, or watch them twirl like a ballerina, I try my best to either stop what I'm doing, enlist their help, or wrap up quickly so we can create memories together. It motivates me to get up after I finally sit down at night and tuck them in, so I can pray with them and listen to what's on their hearts. My family is the most important ministry God will ever give me, and I am determined to serve them - and Him - well.
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