BAM Family

BAM Family

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Holy Desire and Motherhood Colide: A story of how God answered my unspoken prayers

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of doing “something big” for God. I would write that book; I would travel the world; I would speak before thousands at seminars; I would become the mentor that would impart godly wisdom. I was ready to soar for God’s glory.

Fifteen years later, married with four young sons, I sometimes feel that I am grounded, both physically and spiritually.

My aspirations are much less grandiose (and self-glorifying) now, but my desire to serve the Lord is still deep. Yet I often feel frustrated that my heart wants to offer so much more than the reality of my life allows me to give. After all, husband, home, and children take up most of my daily effort and energy.


I know I'm not alone. As I listen to my friends and read in the blogging world, I know that many women feel as I do. While I recognize my God-given roles as a wife and the mother of four young boys, I still have the ache to do something more.

Shouldn't I just be content with the ministry of my family?  What do we do when our desires to serve God are harnessed by the responsibilities of domestic life and motherhood?

I often don't even know how to pray about this desire. So I don't.

But God knew it anyways.

Unexpectedly, my old college roommate contacted me: “Let’s get together for coffee! I have something that I want to talk to you about.

During Silas' naptime, we sat at my kitchen table and Sabrena told me about her MFA thesis, “The Lucky Ones” project: a set of three graphic novels, a la comic book style, to address human trafficking of American girls in the USA. The project, focused on education and prevention, was unique and inspiring. I was so excited for her.

But then, she asked me a surprising question.

“Would you consider being my writer for this project?”

I felt a shocking holiness in her question, almost like God was saying, "I see you. I know you can't go overseas, or travel the country, or work for a non-profit, or do midnight counseling sessions in jail cells...but this. You can do this. I know your heart. I haven't forgotten about you." 

That was two years ago. Since then, I have learned about the sobering, wretched reality of the human trafficking sex trade. I've written two stories for her project, and our team is hoping to do a third story in the future.
The Lucky Ones team: Me, Sabrena, and Mike (our illustrator)
It has been the most challenging project I have ever done. In fact, after writing two stories, I feel my psyche resisting, because plunging my mind and heart into this type of story telling once again is soul shocking, like jumping into the deep end of a freezing swimming pool and getting the wind knocked out of you as you struggle to keep your head above water.

During the research and writing process, my husband has shaken his head out of concern for me, saying, "I can tell you're researching again. You're in a dark place."

The project has been difficult, but it has also been Good. Sabrena is about to defend her thesis. "The Lucky Ones" is a beautiful, powerful project that I pray will bring education and prevention to many, many people.

I got to be a small part of "something big."

So what is the point of this story? I guess it's this: God has not forgotten you.

This opportunity opened my eyes to the unique and unexpected ways that God can fulfill my desires to serve him (Psalm 37:4), even when, in my life as a busy mom of young children, it seemed impossible.
As mothers, we often feel like our duty is to constantly meet the needs of others. There is holiness in this act of selflessness. Yet God cares about our needs as well.

He also cares about our desires.

 As Jen Pollock Michel writes in her book Teach us to Want, “we discover that our desires are given by God—not in the sense of granted, but more in the sense of confided.”

I'm becoming more brave in telling God my desires these days. But, in reality, he already knows them, and he wants to give me so many Good Gifts. 

In wrestling with my own frustration of balancing my personal wants and trusting God for his timing, I have quietly learned that God has not forgotten about my youthful desires to serve him. The first act of service is trust. As Michel writes, “Holy trust believes that whatever God chooses to give is enough.”

And God does give. The only thing left to do is say "yes" to these unexpected, surprising opportunities to serve, small as they may seem, in this season of limitations.

________________________________

Want to learn more about "The Lucky Ones" Project? Click here! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Meng Menu


Sunday: Crispy pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli w/ cheese
Monday: Pulled pork, chips, apples
Tuesday: Chicken, Broccoli, and rice casserole
Wednesday: Fried catfish, potato wedges, salad
Thursday: Ham and cheese roll up, salad
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Sloppy joes, baked beans, carrots 

Sunday: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, green beans
Monday: Grilled pork chops, parmesan rice, peas
Tuesday: Pork fried rice w/ veggies, eggrolls
Wednesday: Turkey spinach meatballs, pasta and sauce, garlic rolls
Thursday: Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, apples
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Asian chicken thighs, rice, green beans

I feel like my life has been all out of whack for the past 2-3 weeks. We had spring break, then an unexpected week trip to Florida for a family funeral. We just got back last Tuesday evening and then my brother came to stay for the weekend. Whew! Busy and fun but I am ready for some sense of normalcy. 

Menu planning helps me return to "normal" (whatever that is!). As much mental effort and energy planning and shopping for two weeks takes, I am so relieved to have a plan in place for our dinner plans for the next two weeks. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Planting Seeds

I am terrible at growing plants. I have killed every plant I have ever tried to nurture.

I mean, I KILLED A CACTUS, ya'll. True story.

I am a terrible plant mother. I am a better real mother. I mean, the jury is still out...but to date, all my kids are still alive. ;)
I think a lot about being a good mother, not just in the clothes/food/exercise/school/sleep departments but in raising my boys to be good men, men that love others and love God.

I want them to know God and follow Jesus when they're ready. So I take them to church, and we fold our hands before meals, and talk about how Jesus lived and loved, died and rose again.

Most of the time, I feel like they aren't listening, like somehow my "preaching," and praying, and showing The Way isn't reaching their hearts.

But I keep trying.

Like for Easter this year, I decided to try Something New. I had high hopes for Something New, like the Something New would result in this special moment in my sons' spiritual education and relationship with God.

This is how it went:

Our church put together a contemplative walk for Easter Week. A couple from our church invited families to walk the trails in their woods marked with 14 stops, each with a chair for sitting, thinking, praying, and reading selected scripture from the last hours of Christ, ending with his death and burial. The story, of course, would be finished on Easter Sunday. Our pastor put together booklets with the scripture and invited people to come walk the trail.

Since my boys really are not huge fans of sitting still (or traditional church stuff), I though, "Wow! This could be great! It is really active. We can read the Bible! This is gonna be good."

So on Good Friday, I loaded up all 4 of my little guys in the car: two 7 year olds, a 2 year old and a 3 month old.

The boys were ready to RUN! The pastor greeted us when we got there and tried to explain the walk  as I squished the baby into the front carrier, kept one hand on Silas, and kept telling Micah and Benji to WAIT FOR ME! THANKS FOR THE PAMPHLET! K' BYE!

And we were off!

We made our first stop. The boys fought over who would sit in the chair while I quickly scanned the scripture passage (wow! This is really long...ok! Paraphrase! Paraphrase!) Whoops! Ok, we're off to stop #2!

And speaking of #2....before we were even 10 minutes in the woods, I hear this phrase from my 7 year old:

"Mom. I gotta go."
"Honey! Pee or poop?" Please be pee...!
"Poop."

Gah! NOOO! This is the child who coined the frantic phrase "IT'S COMING CLOSER!!!"

I thought we were going to have to squat by a tree while other church members passed us by, contemplating their Good Friday in silent prayer. Don't mind us! Just a little pooping going on here! But...a miracle happened.

"Don't worry. I can hold it."

After asking "Are you sure?" six times, we continued our walk.

Or run, I should say. The boys were going FAST. We kept catching and passing people on the trail.  "Ok, boys." I reminded them. "People are thinking about Jesus and praying. Let's....ok! Listen! Let's BE QUIET!!!"

We got to stop 6....and it started to rain. Oh....great.
It was just sprinkling. BUT I was alone in the woods with four children and we had 8 stops left to go.

"Uhh...I think we should go back, boys. It's rain--"

"No, Mom! No! It's ok! Let's go!

So we went. I kept going, the rain-spattered scripture pamphlet in one hand, and a yellow race car and snack cup full of goldfish--compliments of Silas--in the other hand.

Despite the rain, it was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk.
There was a stream.
There were trees.
There were rocks.
There were big splashes.
There was dirt.
And sticks.
And sword fighting....all while I struggled to read them Bible verses about how Jesus prayed in the garden, was kissed and betrayed, then beaten and mocked, taken to the cross.

"Listen." I urged. "Let's listen!"


It started to rain a bit harder. The boys found a big rock and threw it in a mud puddle. SPLESCH! It made a great noise.

This is hopeless. They aren't hearing anything I'm saying.

Silas kept falling down. Eli was slobbering all over the wrap because he wanted to nurse.

The boys kept running. "Woo hoo! This is the best day EVER!"

I was struggling to keep up. Why did I wear skinny jeans and nude flats for a walk in the woods? What is wrong with me?!

It was really raining now. Silas was crying because he fell down...again.

"Ok, boys. Ok. Alright...here. Last stop! 'And they...um..they laid him in a tomb.' That's like a cave where they put people when they die. A man named Joseph gave the tomb to Jesus...ok...and we're off again!"

We made it back to the car. The pastor asked, "How was it?"

I laughed a little bit. "Well, it was a little--DON'T GET MUD ON THE SEATS--it was a little crazy. I am not sure how much they heard. But they seemed to enjoy it."

He smiled. "Well, you're planting seeds."

And I smiled back and nodded. And then I dashed to put all those little boys in the car because it was REALLY raining by this time.

Planting seeds. There must be a reason Jesus used that metaphor in his parables. Planting is dirty work, and pretty boring. There's a lot of waiting, and hoping, and wondering if anything is going to come up.

There is nothing super-spiritual about the act of planting a seed.  Just poke a hole, push the seed in, cover it up, brush the dirt off on your skinny jeans, and hope for the best.

I turned on the windshield wipers and backed out of the drive way. I glanced at the clock: we walked for almost an hour.

"That was awesome, Mom!"
"Yeah. This is my favorite day."

I decided to gamble a question: "Do you guys remember anything we talked about while we walked?"

"Uh...about how Jesus died on the cross?"
"Yes! That's right! Anything else?"
"Yeah, he healed that guy's ear that got cut off with the sword! Right?"
"Yes! Right!"
"And he wore a crown of sticks on his head."
"Thorns...!"
"Yeah, thorns. And then he went in the cave. And then he rose from the dead!"
"Anything else?"
"Uh...no. That's all."

I smiled. That's all.

It wasn't some big spiritual breakthrough or deep conversations or special prayers or warm fuzzies. There was dirt and rocks, sticks and slow-down, crying and falling, yellow cars and goldfish, shushing and slobbering, poop-scares and rain. There was so much...Human.

And that's what He came for.

That's all.

Planting seeds...it's enough.

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