Thursday, June 25, 2015

Back to the Beginning

The things that swirl around in my head.  Some make it here, but these days most never do.  There just isn't time.  Or they just don't seem that important.  Or maybe I lose clarity between thoughts and words.  But this one thing is real.  It's been a struggle.  Maybe you're with me.  Maybe you're not.  Maybe you know someone who is.

As my friends, far and near, post awesome pictures of fun activities, vacations, and even their daily happenings, it causes me to view my world differently.  It's not that I'm mad or sad or jealous (well, maybe that creeps in a little sometimes - ha), but it skews my view.

It reminds me of how different my life is now.  How different it is from what I'd planned as a young adult.  Before I knew the truth.

While others are deciding which movie to watch, where they will go out to eat, whether they will drive or fly to their vacay destination, my decisions look a little different.

Do we really need groceries today?
Is it worth leaving home at 5 a.m. to buy groceries alone?
Will I wash darks or whites?
Will it be a two or ten-load day?
Will I have time to get that clean laundry off the table?
Do I bother putting pants on the toddler?
How much can I get done before they all wake up?
Where's my weekly menu?
Did I make a menu?
Frozen chicken strips or fish sticks?
Does the sprinkler or pool constitute a bath?
Can the return phone calls wait till nap time?
Do I hide the tape here or there? (yeah, you know it!)
What's the best educational screen time option?

And when I compare these seemingly less-than-earth-shattering decisions to others, it does something to me.  Something I don't like.  It makes me feel less than.  Under-qualified.  Isolated.  Different.  

After all, the majority of moms my age are free to meet for lunch, have meaningful conversation, read a good book (oh, I do miss that!), have a flower garden, or plan a day trip.  They certainly aren't making bottles, cutting up food, wiping bottoms, packing a diaper bag, trying to squeeze in a play date or warning their big kids' friends about the crowd that is their family.

This was such a struggle for me...until I realized I was seeing it all wrong.  It's not right for me to compare.  This is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing right now.  It's even what I've wanted to do ever since my eyes were opened to the truth.

I've never considered myself the mom that is all that, nor did I need to be.  There was that one time when I had three kids and took them to that fast food joint with the play area and the giant clown, and the two-year-old slipped on the wet floor, running his teeth through his lip, while the one-year-old sat in the high chair and the nine-year-old tried to enjoy his meal.  It took two of us to gather them up and get to the ER.  It's not like I'm qualified to parent a dozen kids!  I could write a book on my parenting failures...but that wouldn't be the right thing to do.

Because 14 years ago I was changed.  In 2001 the King of Kings captured my heart and brought me to repentance, forever changing my heart, continually drawing me to Himself and giving me the Power to see the world differently... and to seek different things.

In 2003, when I was still weaning off of spiritual milk,  my eyes were opened to a horrible truth I couldn't ignore or wish away.  The truth that, although I thought my family was complete and although I wasn't in the running for Mother of the Year, there are children all over the world who have nothing. They lack everything.  Family.  Food.  Shelter.  Clean water. Clothing.  HOPE. 

And since I had fully surrendered my heart and my life, giving up my right to all that is solely for myself (which is a daily battle), I knew that armed with the knowledge that there are children who need a family, I could not sit idly by, simply wishing them well.

If you say, "See, we did not know this," does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?
Proverbs 24:12

See, I can't know the right thing to do and choose to NOT do the right thing.  My eyes were opened, my heart was fresh, and my hands were ready.  I asked for this.  I said yes to this.  This doesn't make me a better mom or a more holy follower.  It makes me full.  And content.  And joyful.  And different. 

See, I get it now.  When the Lord plucks us out of the miry pit, He doesn't intend for us to keep going back to wallow in it!  He doesn't intend for us to live it in drudgery, and He doesn't intend for each of our journeys to look the same.  In fact, they should look different!  Not only different from before our eyes were opened, but different from one another.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
1 Cor 12:12

We are thriving in joy in different ways, but all for one Kingdom.  

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Prov 16:9

So my life looks different from other moms my age.  Maybe yours does too?  I would come to grips with it one moment and love it, and the next I would find myself clawing my way back to the pit.  Living in the pit is not fair to my family, this big, beautiful family the Lord has entrusted to me.  My mood was somber, my tone was harsh, my words weren't always life-giving.  I can't pinpoint the moment that my self-seeking, pitiful first-world-tainted vision became clear, but when it did, it changed everything!

The Lord broke my heart and gave me a dream bigger than myself.  He has been faithful to keep His promises, but what am I doing with them?  He has blessed me with three children from a once feared barren womb and has plucked nine from impoverished circumstances, entrusting each to my care.  He has entrusted me to love, nurture, discipline and shape them.  Without Him it is an impossible task, but with Him it is a privilege.  It is not okay for me to simply give them better than they had; it is right for me to give them the best that I have.

I had to look far beyond myself to realize it.  I had to go back to the beginning, 14 years ago, to understand where I am today.  

Maybe you're with me, struggling to find the joy in the daily-ness that is your life.  Or maybe your struggle is that you know your life should look different,'t.  I'm not talking about adoption; I'm talking about surrender.

I'm not pointing fingers at you for taking a vacation or shopping for fun.  I may even live vicariously through you!  I will stop comparing our lives.  I will continue to search my own heart to discover whether I've given my all and I'm basking in the joy of a life that looks different.  


Kolton Johnson said...

I was the one with the busted lip and tooth!

Kolton Johnson said...

I was the one with the busted lip and tooth!

MamaV said...

Your list of decisions looks a lot like mine... I am thankful for the grace of God 'cause I sure wouldn't have chosen my life on my own.

Laurel said...

Oh how I miss the house full of little ones. I miss the high chairs and diaper bags (and seeing the grandkids once a month or so just doesn't replace having a house full of littles 24/7).

I have time now . . . but no idea what the Lord wants me to do with it. After 24 years of homeschooling, my youngest are now gone all day every day. Oh how I miss teaching them.

Even though my youngest are in school, I still don't live a life like my peers (whom all have empty nests and full bank accounts). I have 4 teens still at home, and a very limited budget. I don't have lunch dates or shopping trips. I don't have European vacations or Caribbean Cruises to plan (as my peers do).

I read your blog with envy . . . of the JOY that your family has. We used to have that joy . . . we used to be "the family with all of the kids". I struggle daily to know who I am, what my purpose is, what God's plan for me is now that most of my kids are grown and gone (most living across the country or across the world from us).

You are so very BLESSED! Don't forget it!

Jennie said...

Truly appreciate your honesty. Your writing is a huge blessing. Your family is incredible - love reading about the children - all of them - especially when they pitch in during corn harvest time.

Living on a farm is a dream of ours and so we vicariously live through your writing come harvest time!

Connie J said...

That's right, Kolton! You've given me lots of trips to the ER, son :)
Love you!

Connie J said...

MamaV, Oh, His grace! I'm so thankful as well!!!

Connie J said...

Laurel, I hear your heart, sweet friend! I just sent you an email, sister! Don't forget that you are an encouragement and a teacher to so many of us!

Connie J said...

Jennie, thank you for your encouragement! Hopefully I can keep up the posting during harvest. You have encouraged me to do so :) Blessings to you!

Hope Rising Farm said...

Connie....your words are my words....I have struggled a lot in the past month with this very thing and see God continually taking away all the mama things I love....when I get into the self pity thing it looks bad. I have wrestled with this and know I am where I belong and trust the Lord knows best for me in ALL things....we prepare to being home our newest treasures, I am asking him to prepare my heart for the things he wants me to do...when we focus on him everything else fades away! Thank you for such sweet encouragement and also letting me know I am not alone!

Bonny said...

I honestly couldn't do what you do. No way. Not ever.

Judy Deaton said...

Needed this today. THanks for your words of wisdom. Blessings on your harvest :) May God give you a bountiful harvest, keep everyone safe, sane, and not too weary! Pressing on...... :)

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