Tuesday, July 13, 2010

glo·ri·ous (adj) 1. beautiful in a way that inspires wonder or joy

The context for this blog post is that it is currently 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon… showering may or may not be on the agenda today, I just consumed Sunday’s (wilted) lettuce-and-onion salad because the house is too messy everywhere to create another mess just to feed myself, Ellie is having continued reactions to milk which culminated in an urgent trip to the doctor yesterday around dinnertime to rule out something called a ‘super-infection’ in her diaper area, Robbie has a stomach bug, both kids have diarrhea and bums so raw they scream at the sight of a wipe or the Desitin tub - yes, we have a tub of it - and Rob is out late tonight for a work function (are you a young mom? Did your heart just start to race too!? Haha!).

The Spirit is alive and well. I can testify to this fact simply because my heart has been pricked so many times in the last several weeks I think I might start bleeding out if He keeps it up.

I have been contemplating what life in Christ is supposed to look like, for my family and for me as an individual. The more I think about it, read about it in Scripture, observe it in those I know, and dream about what it COULD look like in my own little, growing family, the more I am sure of this.

It involves slowing down. It involves simplifying. It requires a willingness to do the hard work of pursuing only what is most important and what promises to satisfy. It calls me to be honest about shedding that which is unnecessary and a hindrance.

I have been mentally mapping out what I want life to look like. Not which rug I’d love to have for the family room or the perfect drapes for our bedroom. I’m talking about what I want to be looking back on when I’m on my deathbed and pondering how I spent the time I was given to bring God glory and share His incredibly hope-and-grace-filled gospel. Who knows when the comforter of that deathbed is going to be pulled back, inviting each of us in? So I’m getting to work now.

I have decided a few things. I want our home to be a place of refuge, where God’s Holy Spirit is always present and moving and welcome. I want my marriage to be a testament to the fact that God uses ordinary people to display His glory by allowing them to experience His love, respond to one another with humility, intentionally offer grace, pursue marital faithfulness, and be partners in serving God and others. And I want my kids to come to know the God of the Bible and fall in love with Him to the point that they give Him every aspect of their lives.

I also want to be personally ready at any time to answer the call God might have on our lives. I want to be able to hear His voice and recognize it.

After I laid my sick babes down for their naps a little while ago, I picked my way through the minefield of toys otherwise known as the family room and sought refuge in my backyard with my pathetic little lunch. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and invited God into my day and the mess I keep seeming to make out of things. I was putting a (small) stake in the ground with my decision to be quiet and value what little opportunities I have for solitude, even if they come in the form of lunch on the deck. I am beginning to learn that it’s a poor choice (for me) to forfeit time alone with a God who wants to spend time with me, and exchange those precious sacred moments for frantic attempts to clean up the exterior of my life (take a shower, pick up toys, etc.). I’m not saying that those things shouldn’t happen, but what I am saying is that for me, those things must take a backseat when God calls me into solitude and I’m finally able to hear Him.

It’s time to start actually following Him when He calls me. Even if it’s just into the backyard for a talk (for starters).

Mostly it means that my heart and mind need to be trained on Him every moment of the day. But practically, it has also meant adjusting a few more things in our lives. We’re keeping the TV turned off, with the exception of a few sporting events and the occasional children’s show that aids in my ability to cook dinner. We are thisclose to canceling cable. I’m very mindful of what the kids are hearing and seeing (and thus, absorbing) every day, and we try to make Bible reading and related activities (acting out a story) a priority. We pray together and we teach Robbie how to pray. I’m beginning to explain to him that we want to offer praise and worship to God, and why, and how to do it. We are teaching him how to encourage others and how to show appreciation (with those words). Mostly, I’m evaluating what I model to both kids by my example, and I’m feeling convicted at every turn.

Play dates are no longer a daily occurrence. We are not rushing anywhere if we can help it. We are taking our time to enjoy the summer together, to learn how to play nicely with our sibling, to appreciate all that God has given us simply within our family and our home, and to seek Him above all else.

And like today, little miracles are happening all around us. I discover God waiting for me on my back deck, of all places. I hear Robbie singing along to “Here I Am To Worship” in the car. I recognize my own children’s daily emotional and spiritual needs and key in on what is required of me to meet them. I am more aware of the ways I could be serving my husband and offering him the love and respect he deserves from me. I enjoy thoughtfully preparing (mostly) nutritious meals for the family God has given to me to care for, body and soul. I am discovering that there is an opportunity to worship God in everything we do throughout the day, from eating to playing to making financial decisions to where my mind runs when it’s idle. How I respond. The things I make plans around. The things I put my hope and trust in. Who I put my hope and trust in. I am so aware of how little I have been worshipping God lately.

I’m adjusting to how counter cultural this attempt is, even in Wheaton, Illinois. There’s no blending into our cultural landscape if we are pursuing Christ with everything we have. And so we return to inviting God into the moments of our days that make up our lives, and pray that He is glorified in us.


Abby said...

You're pretty impressive, Ashley. Your post has been a prick--no, a stab--to my heart as well. I want all that; I really do. I need to be proactive about it like you just described. Thank you for taking the time to type it out for us to read! <3

Mama Martin said...

Your honesty in the midst of the Wheaton bubble that traps people and doesn't want to let go of them is very refreshing. I desire the same things for my family, and it's hard when the culture/environment around us is saying you should fill your life with a bunch of park dist. classes, playdates, vacations, home improvements, self improvements, latest trend-following ways. It gets old. it gets draining. It's not what God wants for us and yet is so hard to ignore unless you block it out somehow and focus on the important things in life that God puts before you. It's good to hear that someone else wants that kind of clarity in the midst of it all though, very encouraging. Thanks for your honesty and for this post. : )

brianandcourt said...

I am thankful for your insight. Each time you write, I find myself encouraged, not only to pursue God's calling in my own life, but also encouraged that He is stirring the hearts of so many young mothers I know (scattered across the US), and it gives me great hope for our children.

I was first pricked, as you say, about a year and a half ago. But that's another story. The point is, thank you for sharing what God is doing in you and in your family.


designHER Momma said...

counter cultural is awesome. It's the only way I will live. It's been good to us.