Life Reflections

It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It

As a stay-at-home-mom, my daily tasks usually entail some combination of the following:

  • Cook and clean up breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Dress/bathe/feed/play with/diaper/potty train children as needed
  • Do the dishes
  • Wash and fold the clothes
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Vaccuum the floors
  • Bake a batch of cookies, if I find the time
  • Volunteer at school or church, when I can

I know I’m blessed to even have the option of staying home while my kids are young. If I were to turn back the clock, I would choose it all over again. However, it did feel strange to give up the life I had before. Back then, there were educational accomplishments, professional associations, career plans, and hopes of impacting the lives of people beyond my own four walls.

Like many women of my generation, I have been influenced by the culture to believe that education and career are more admirable than having children or working in the home. As a result, in my present season, I sometimes feel that I am wasting my life. “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies, and had teas…” – isn’t that what Hillary Clinton had said?

I did stay home, I suppose. And bake cookies. And yes…occasionally, there is tea.

As my days stretch into weeks, months, and years, I feel burdened by a sense of futility. Am I stuck in the mud? Are my wheels spinning? Am I accomplishing anything, in all of my doing?

Thankfully, the scriptures are clear on how God tests the quality of our works. And His measuring stick is different than ours. He does not care for the letters behind our names, the diplomas on our walls, the numbers on our paycheques, or the titles on our doors (as if He had a need for our heroism). Our contributions to His Kingdom are not directly correlated to worldly achievements.

Furthermore, God does not gauge His opinions of us based on the testimonials of our clients, customers, or even those we minister to. Rather, He sees the things we do when nobody is watching. He values the acts of service and years of dedication, that may not be applauded, awarded, or noticed by anyone else.

God’s concern is less about what we do, than it is about the state of our hearts. He sees the true motives behind our actions. Are we serving our own ego? Or do we truly love Him, and the people He has placed in our lives? The smallest, humblest tasks, done in genuine love, are like gold and silver and costly stones to Him. The most difficult, impressive feats, however – when done from a place of self-aggrandizement – will burn up like straw.

“If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

“I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills…If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” Psalm 50:9,11

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21

“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2

And this is why, if I neglect the innocent needs of my children to strive for worldly importance, the carpet is swept from beneath my feet. Why my efforts to ‘do more’ and ‘be better’ are thwarted again and again. Why I find myself hidden away, behind the walls of my kitchen, where peering eyes are not upon me and the simple works that I do can flow from a place of purity – unadulterated by my lust for the accolades of people.

My obscurity, I see, is an act of grace. My insignificance, a blessing. Because the Lord does not wish for my works to burn up like hay or straw.

I believe the Lord wants me to be ok with never receiving any glory in this life. Sometimes this feels like a tough one to swallow. However, with time, I have grown to see the incredible freedom of this mindset: as if, like a sledgehammer, He has broken the wall I’ve thrashed against a thousand times. He has released me from the clutches of an idol I’ve been slave to for years, without even knowing it: the idol of my own prominence and worldly success.

Whether I stay home or go, or bake cookies or not, or complete a great project or finally finish that round of Monopoly with my son – if the Lord is in it, it matters. If I’m loving Him and loving people, it has eternal value. To serve my own glory is to worship a fickle master. To serve His glory, however, is to bear fruit that will stand the test of fire.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17

About my blog

Update: I Have Another Blog!

First off, I don’t have any intentions of abandoning Little Moment Meditations. I will still be posting here at least once a month, in one of the following categories: Life Reflections, Scripture Pictures, and Poetry. However, I also have a vision for a different kind of blog: everyday, practical content from my life as a mom. Therefore, I have started a second blog, entitled “The Manitoba Mom Blog.”

I have been posting on Mondays and Fridays. On Mondays, I share an idea or tool such as a recipe or printable. On Fridays, I talk about something relevant to life as a mom. So far, on Fridays, I’ve posted about: feelings and self-awareness; housecleaning; playing with your kids; and what summer means for moms.

Perhaps the internet already has enough of these “mom blogs”? Nevertheless, since I blog for enjoyment, I will write it anyway. It is significantly more fun to blog with engagement from readers, though. So I invite you to check out The Manitoba Mom Blog if you think it is something you may be interested in. And otherwise, I’ll see you back here with my next post on Little Moment Meditations!

Click here to help my new blog get a start! Thank you for your support!

Talk soon!

Lisa

Poetry

He Thought

He thought that maybe, he would keep sheep

I understand

The lure of this dream

Imagine them, peacefully dotting the fields

Image by Hermann Schmider from Pixabay

Potatoes in soil

And plants in dirt

Creases by eyes

Knees that hurt

The mind of a dreamer

Creative spark

Sacrifice

A Father’s heart

He hasn’t had everything

Not that anyone would know

This because his hands are open

Forgetting to blame, and letting go

I still wish that he could keep sheep

He says it’s ok

I know why he can’t

While giving away, so others could keep

The fields have grown

The years have passed

The value weighed

One hand or the other

The choices made

My sister, my brother,

And I, and Mom

More special than sheep

(Though not as peaceful)

But look at how they dot the fields

Life Reflections

When Your Calling is Right in Front of You

“Whatever your hand finds to do…” he quoted, and gave me a knowing look.  Settling into his chair, he ran a hand over his thinning hair, and took a few deep breaths – pausing for a moment from one of the busy tasks that he was always so willing to do.

He was middle-aged, had three or four kids, and worked where I did – at a day program where we supported adults with intellectual disabilities.  We shared a faith, though we rarely spoke openly about it. 

“But, oh…” he smiled, lifting his eyebrows, and nodding his head affirmatively, “I do get weary.”

I imagine his job was modestly paid, and he mentioned, on occasion, a second job that he also had.  However, he never complained about the work, or the pay, or his lot in life.  He never lamented that he should have taken a different path – that, somehow, it might have been better.  Rather, he was cheerful, pleasant, and enjoyable to be around.  He treated our vulnerable clientele with respect.  He really was embracing the command of Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

Philippians 2:14-16

The example that he set stopped me in my tracks, because my quest for a “calling” in life had become a little convoluted.  MY calling is about me…no?  My giftings, my abilities, my success, my fulfillment.  No?

NO!! 

This is not a biblical perspective.  It is a worldly one, and it stems from discontent, selfishness, and pride.  I do not see where the Bible teaches us to seek our primary satisfaction from a role that we have in this life.  Rather, it is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that:

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” 

Luke 9:23b-25

And in Ecclesiastes, the book from which my co-worker gained his inspiration, the writer sets forth a peculiar juxtaposition concerning work.  It is futile and aggravating.  It is enjoyable and satisfying.  Both facets are embraced.  And the key that makes everything tick is contentment – trusting God with the lot that you have been assigned.

“What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?  All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest.  This too is meaningless.

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” 

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun – all your meaningless days.  For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 9:9

I believe that few of us are able to achieve the accepting mindset that the writer of Ecclesiastes eventually discovered. It is a tall order, especially since the ‘lot’ that you have been assigned may not seem particularly fair. Perhaps you trained and prepared for years, hoping for a particular job, only for it to be given away to someone else. Perhaps you did reach the goal and get the job, but now it is not measuring up to your hopeful expectations. Or, perhaps you have suffered setback after setback in your life, over which you had no control, and if only your circumstances would have been different…who knows what you might have achieved?

“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”

Ecclesiastes 9:11

“Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed – and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors – and they have no comforter.”

Ecclesiastes 4:2
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

It’s true. Crosses aren’t fair. Jesus knows that better than anyone!

However, I believe we are moving in the right direction when we recognize that:

1. Like Jesus’ work on the cross, our labours reach beyond this life to bear fruit that we may not presently see:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

2. Our lives are a unique and valuable part of the Father’s plan:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Jeremiah 29:11

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 139:13

3. God uses frustrating and unfortunate circumstances to grow our character:

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Romans 5:3-4

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Hebrews 12:11

4. The Creator of all things is more capable than we are of handing out the assignments:

“A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

Proverbs 20:24

5. Our hearts’ motives are of greater value to the Lord than the worldly importance of the tasks we complete:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

1 Samuel 16:7

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing goals, getting an education, bettering yourself, or trying for a career that will exercise good stewardship of your God-given gifts. But if you are like me, you may begin reaching for more of these things when your work becomes difficult and frustrating – just to ease the pain and stay fulfilled. The scriptures tell us that human eyes are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). This can be as true with regards to your purpose/calling/work as it is with anything else.

However, the best way to replenish yourself, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, is to spend regular time with the Lord. As you prayerfully consider your calling, he may reveal to you that you have not missed the mark, after all. That you are exactly where you need to be. Maybe, it’s time to “take up your cross daily” and “do it with all your might.” Perhaps, you are very much on the right track.

“…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1b-3

What are your thoughts on having a calling or purpose in life? Do you know what you are called to in your current season? Is it difficult, or fulfilling, or both? I would love to hear your perspective in the comments section below.

Scripture Pictures

The Motherly Warrior

“When God creates Eve, he calls her an ezer kenegdo.”

“The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.”

From “God is our Ezer,” by Ransomed Heart Ministries (accessed April 27, 2019)
https://www.ransomedheart.com/daily-reading/god-our-ezer

Image by Jeff Balbalosa from Pixabay

Inspired by Proverbs 31:10-31

The Motherly Warrior plays a pivotal role.  Her faithfulness to daily tasks strengthens those who dwell within her walls.  The enemy lies to her:  “Your job is empty and unfulfilling.  Embarrassing, even.  It makes no difference to anyone.  You should leave and do something worthwhile, something more worthy of your intelligence.”  But, the reason he attacks her, is that each day she spends serving her family, she is sharpening them like arrows.  They will leave the home equipped to wage war on the kingdom of darkness.  Without her, they would suffer injuries, remain wounded, and become weakened and vulnerable – no longer a threat.  If the enemy can take her down, he may soon take them all.

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

The Motherly Warrior girds her home with fervent prayers.  She calls on the One who commands the angels, and He hears her every word.  She observes the dark adversaries, that others may not see.  She calls them into the light and renders them disarmed.  She spreads wings around her loved ones, covering them in prayers – whispered over the washing of dishes, the folding of laundry, the chopping of carrots.  They will have want for nothing.  She sees to the things the Lord has placed in her hands, and pleads before the throne for what only He can accomplish.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Though she trembles at night, the fears of the Motherly Warrior will only draw her nearer to the Great Commander.  He will hold her burdens and reassure her of His strength, so that she may rest.  When she awakens, she is filled with energy, purpose, and creativity.  She will diversify her knowledge and abilities, turning profit as the Lord permits.  She does not seek glory or achievements for herself, but serves her family’s well-being, and the advancement of the Kingdom.

The Motherly Warrior is filled with joy, and beauty, and her family will rest when she is there.  They will increase in hope, as she shares with them the wine the Lord has entrusted to her.  She lends her ears, and He whispers to her jewels that she will amass in great storehouses, to be distributed to those who are in need.

Image by Sherilyn Hawley from Pixabay

The Motherly Warrior sees beyond the appeal of shallow and vain pursuits.  Because the Lord has given her His eyes, she will grasp and uproot from her life anything that endangers or distracts from her great assignment.

Where she steps, opponents will flee, because the Commander goes with her and strengthens her arms.  The Motherly Warrior is empowered by the Lord, because she dwells beside Him all her days.  The Motherly Warrior will not fall, because He has chosen her to arm His soldiers for war.  The Motherly Warrior is satisfied, because she is held securely by the hand of God, who loves her.

“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.”

Philippians 3:12


Need more Mommy encouragement? Check out some of my other posts:

Scripture Pictures

Ones Such as Her

(Adapted from John 8:1-11)

I never really knew.  I guess I just never really knew.  (I probably still don’t.) 

What it would have been like to be her – her darkest, most secret sins laid bare for the world to see.  They may as well have stripped her clothes, or splayed her ribs open.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“They made her stand before the group…”

John 8:3b

“ ‘In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.’ ”

John 8:5a

Whatever would happen, it couldn’t be worse than this heaviness.  As if her heart had turned to lead.  The nausea.  Unable to raise her head, she stares at the dirt.

“End it now.  Just end it.”

The hateful voices asserting their disgust swell to a roar, deafening her ears, until they meld to a muffle of noise.  As she stands there, she embraces a numbness that distances herself from them.  She continues to stare into the grains of dirt.  She will be one with the ground.  Soon.

Startling her daze, a finger crosses her line of vision.  Someone is before her, writing in the dirt.  She shifts her gaze up and sideways, just enough to view Him.  Her eyebrows twitch, and her head does a small shake, before dropping again.

“Come on.  Let’s get this over with al-”

Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Interrupting her thought and cutting the din in her ears, His voice is suddenly booming.  He is standing now, in front of her.  Looking up quickly, she sees His straightened back.  His feet are planted, His arms set apart slightly from His sides.  He appears immovable.  The demands and taunts of the crowd grow quieter, like a fading wind.

Her breath catches.  Her heart beats heavily upon her chest.  Her eyes are still on His back, and the sounds of her accusers have dissipated.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14-15

Releasing them from His piercing gaze, He stoops to the earth again.  It doesn’t look like He plans to leave.

The crowd, however, shifts uneasily on their feet.  They glance around at each other.  A few of them walk off, slowly.  Some shake their heads, or frown.  One looks at her and remembers something.  His eyes become windows, for a moment.  Exhaling, he turns and slumps away, looking down.

As she watches in shock, the weakened crowd retreats, one by one.  With the exit of each person, her incredulity grows.  The Man is still writing with His finger in the dirt that she had expected to, by now, be soaked with her blood.  She pants heavily, and notices a smile playing quietly upon the corners of His mouth.  Without moving His head, He eyes the bystanders who are left.  Disarmed, they slink reluctantly away, glancing back over their shoulders, as if searching for a way to regain their footing.

It is silent for a moment as Jesus stops writing and leans back on His heels, watching them depart.  When He stands and turns to face her, His smile is fully grown.  Softly, now, He speaks to her:

“Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  Liquid gathers in his lower eyelids.

Her heart still pounding, she glances beyond His shoulder.  Seeing only a smattering of dents in the ground where they had once stood, she stutters hurriedly,

“N-n-no-one, sir.”  Her voice is hoarse, but within her, the exhilaration of hope rises.  Like a point of light, expanding, and overtaking.

Unexpectedly and gruffly, a laugh bursts from her mouth.  When she draws her breath in again, it becomes a sob.

“Then neither do I condemn you.”  Still smiling, He drops His eyes to her feet and lays a hand on the back of her arm.  Stepping to her closely, she feels His breath on her ear.

“Go now.  And leave your life of sin.”

About my blog

Back in the Saddle – My (Super Slow) Blogging Plan

Image by cmmckeehen from Pixabay

Hello to anyone who has not given up on viewing my blog! It has been a long break (5 months to be exact). I’m happy to say that I am ready to begin again; however, it will be slow. I plan to publish a post once per month and would like to keep that going for about a year.

Most of my upcoming posts are already written. Many are in a similar style as my previous ones – reflections on my life (in particular, the things that wrench my gut) from a biblical/spiritual perspective. A couple of them will be what I will call ‘Scripture Pictures’ – my words, inspired by a passage from the Bible. The first of these will be published next week, in time for Easter.

I’ve struggled a lot with whether or not to continue blogging, and have arrived at the following conclusions:

  • My blogging schedule needs to be slower so I do not rob time away from my family.
  • I will not always get it right, and that is to be expected, because if God only allowed people to do things perfectly NOTHING WOULD EVER GET DONE.
  • I find blogging very satisfying and healing for myself, and others may be blessed by it as well if God decides to use my blog in that way. This is all ok, so long as I don’t get caught up in the numbers or become overly concerned with what others think of me.

With all of that said, I look forward to posting next week, as I mentioned, in time for Easter. And the month after that, in time for Mother’s Day. And so on. There are many things heavy on my heart that I have been longing to share (imperfectly, of course) with those people who may want to hear them.

And in the meantime, I am also a reader. My list of favorite blogs continues to grow, so I’ll see many of you on your blogs as well. I look forward to connecting in this way.

Blessings…and see you next week!