Teachers, Pastors, Missionaries and Stay At Home Moms
I respect these people because they care about other people and live their lives showing that, often with personal sacrifice.
Here are four beautiful reasons why I am motivated to write this blog. Taken on Easter morning, with the "Easter tree" we made and decorated together.
I was thinking about maybe homeschooling my first two girls... up until the second two girls (the twins) arrived. Then I felt overwhelmed, so I visited a couple kindergartens to decide which school to send Blaze to. Watching kindergarten teachers in action always leaves me a little breathless. How they can keep the attention of 25 children for 5 to 6 hours a day and make learning fun so that my daughter comes home and says "I love school!", absolutely amazes me. Being an elementary teacher requires creativity, patience, boundless energy, and a love for children. I enjoy teaching the occasional Sunday School class at my church, but even just one hour a week can quickly burn my energy and creativity out.
Everyone has an opinon on what their pastor should be doing, shouldn't be doing, what he should be saying or shouldn't be saying, how he could say it better, and why doesn't he teach more/visit more/help more/counsel more and so forth. He has one of the toughest jobs out there. He has to live an example to his flock and practice what he preaches; he has to constantly provide spiritual and emotional support to other people when many times this is what he needs himself; he often has to confront people about thorny issues; and oh yes, his wife and kids have to be perfect, too. I truly respect any man that willingly takes on this kind of challenge because he loves the Lord and wants to lead other people to learn about Lord and love Him more too.
This includes anyone with a heart for the poor, the sick, and orphaned. See my blog about Ann Judson of Burma for why I am amazed and humbled by a true missionary spirit that emodies these verses:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Stay At Home Moms
I often jokingly call my part-time job my "vacation", but I'm not really joking. It does feel like a vacation to get away from the constant chatter, clutter, questions, requests, and fighting that also happen to go along with all the fun of having four small children. Granted, I have a particularly cushy job (for which I am very thankful) - good pay, flexible hours, creatively challenging without being stressful, doing something I love. But even if my job weren't so pleasant, I still think it would be easier than being a stay at home mom. I've noticed from reading some of my friends' blogs that most of their posts are about their kids. Very few of mine are. I love my kids, and I'm very proud of them. I try to be a good mom, but I wish I were more naturally focused on my kids rather than on reading or writing or work or pondering deep questions of life. Or that while I was doing these things I was better at involving my kids.
I do love to read to them, and we always (all five of us) pile on my bed or Blaze's bed every night to read for at least 10 or 15 minutes (if they pick the book) or much longer (if I get to pick the book). My kids also know that while requests for "candy", "play dates", or "I want to go to the pool" are often denied or delayed, they can almost always coax me into reading them a book. I also love to hug and kiss and hold my kids (and tickle them, and plant loud raspberries on them). But... to actually play with them? To take time to actively teach them? This is a real stretch for me. Just helping Blaze with her homework can make me feel half-crazy some nights, like I need to run off to a Coal Creek Coffee House afterwards and debrief myself with a good book or some quality time with my laptop.
My own mother was very career-oriented (she still is, in fact), and always worked full-time, but other than being bored by some of my after-school daycares, I never felt like I suffered from not having a stay-at-home mom. She was very loving and interested in whatever I was doing, though not very involved. So it's easy for me to say, well I turned out okay... but then again, I was also an only child!
So anyway, the point of all this is that I am a long way away from being one of those people I respect the most, but I think it is possible (with prayer, and priorization) to push myself to be more of a teacher, pastor and missionary to my kids, or in other words, a more of a stay-at-home mother. I don't want to have any regrets 10 years from now, because I was too busy pursuing my own interests to build strong relationships and traditions with my girls. I was so proud of the project we did together during Easter week, decorating an "Easter tree" with various symbols from the last week of Jesus' earthly life (the whole week leading up to Easter, including Ressurrection Sunday itself, is an important tradition I want to build for our family). I had some wonderful conversations with Blaze and Dreamer during and after that week because of the things we did together and what I was teaching them about Jesus. But that was almost a month ago now, and what have I done since then?
Well, I confess, here is what I've been doing since then... not so proud this time to report my writing progress. I've worked through some major edits on the Valley, all the way to chapter 15 now (this time last month I was still stuck on chapter 3). Some motivation for this came from another lady in my writer's group who is editing her fantasy book right now too so we are exchanging chapters and critiquing each other's work. The motivation of having another person involved has been great, but I have to be careful it doesn't throw me too much off balance, with regards to family and work. (My parents are back in town now too, after a three month hiatus in Hilton Head).
I also have to be so careful not to let other things crowd out my time with the Lord. Especially since our financial situation is still critical, and stress for B. and I is a lot higher because of that. It is so easy to let fear take hold, making us forget that the Lord is in control, and He is our Provider. I am so thankful for my Bible read-through goal this year, and Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge. Reading the Bible daily and practicing those verses has really helped me keep fear at bay. I recorded all of this year's memory verses so far on my hand-held recorder, so when I go for walks in the morning I can practice them. Here are the verses I'm working on in Psalm 34 from April 15-30 and May 1-15.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him
He saved him out of all his troubles.