Saturday, August 20, 2016

Butterfly Plans - Dinner #71

   My Charlotte Baby turns a year old, tomorrow, and I am SO very excited about “all things butterfly”, right now!  Brandon and I came across a darling butterfly onesie for her to wear at her party, and then Auntie Ashley bought her an adorable butterfly costume to go along with it – complete with wings and a wand. SMILE! The older girls and I made finger-painted butterflies to hang off the pretty white railing in the kitchen . . . I have bulletin-board-style “books” on the wall, representing each of the classics I’ve posed her with, as she’s grown a month older . . . You’d think she was our first!  But EACH baby is special in our home!  When I look back, we never would have decided on our own to have two babies just 15 months apart, but God had better plans – beautiful plans – “Butterfly Plans” . . . Charlotte Allison has filled our home with such sunshine!  Such sunshine we would have missed if we had “planned” our babies, rather than being BLESSED by them! 
     I know I amuse the masses, when a 4’10” woman walks through the grocery store, pushing 2 carts, completely loaded down with 4 children and 2-weeks-worth of food and diapers.  I realize there are many who think we “ended up” with this many babies, because we were “trying” for a boy . . . Or, perhaps, because we are somehow uneducated regarding birth control . . .  A sweet friend recently commented to me that she didn’t realize I’d gone as far as “Advanced Mathematics” in high school . . . There’s a lot that people don’t know about me when they see me with my Little Crew . . . My Magna Cum Laude honors in college, the unpublished poems and works of historical fiction on my shelf, the detailed scrapbooks I designed in my teens and early 20s . . . Right now, I’m “Mommy” more hours of the day than any other role.  But I haven’t “lost my identity” . . . I know that one day, some activities will return to my life again.  And so much of who I am and what I enjoy IS being used, even during this stage of life – just in different ways than they were before.  It is the same way with you!  Somewhere down the line, you learned how to keep on going, even on very few hours of sleep.  You acquired skills that help you document your home schooling, organize everything from toys to socks, and plan weekly meals for your family.  You can decorate for a birthday party or host a holiday celebration.  There are so many personal touches that make your house a home.  You are WHO GOD MADE YOU TO BE! Having a family doesn’t change that! 
     But the devil likes to make us feel lost, overwhelmed, and uncertain of who we really are.  He feeds us the world’s philosophy that children are a burden, and that having “too many” makes our life meaningless and leaves us miserable.   Does it feel wonderful to put on a fancy dress and to have time for bobby pins, once in a while? Of course it does!  Do you sometimes feel as though you’re getting a breath of fresh air, when you put on make-up and remember you have a pair of heels that actually MATCHES the dress you’re wearing?!  Absolutely!  But you haven’t “lost yourself” in this realm of motherhood!  I promise you!  You are someone incredibly special and important – to your husband, to your children, and to your Savior!  Seeing the dishes filling the sink and overflowing onto the countertops may bring you to tears, tonight, but you are a DAUGHTER OF THE KING!  “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ  . . .” (Romans 8:17).  You are UNIQUE!  Yes, YOU!  The precious Mama who changed 10 diapers, today, and scrubbed the kitchen floor with your bare hands . . . YOU are unique!  You are PRECIOUS and PRICELESS! “For ye are bought with a price . . .” (I Corinthians 6:20) A price so high, we cannot even fathom it – the very SON OF GOD GAVE HIS LIFE FOR YOU! 
     Do not be downcast and discouraged!  Do not wonder if this “journey of motherhood” is for you!  It IS!  If God has made you a mother, then it is His PLAN for you!  His PERFECT plan!  And no amount of dirty dishes is going to keep Him from using you in a very special way . . . “ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)  It is a PROMISE!  Don’t give up hope!  Things may seem dreary and bleak, but God has given you your talents for a reason, Dear Mama! God has made you WHO YOU ARE for a reason!  No talent is a “waste” . . . No life is a “waste” . . .
     Yes, there were days, last year, when I wondered if any part of the “real me” still existed . . . When I felt like motherhood was “closing in” on me . . . It was a bit overwhelming when we found out we were expecting Charlotte, just 7 months after our Cheyenne was born!  But how VERY grateful I am that, “ . . . my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)!  What smiles and joy she has brought us!  How delightful and precious she is!  How MUCH I have ENJOYED my role as mother, this fourth time around!  And what would our lives have been like without her?!  How plain might my kitchen be through this month of August, were it not for a certain Baby’s “Butterfly Party”?!  God had better plans – beautiful plans – “Butterfly Plans” . . . And amid the laundry, the dust, and the mess, God has “Butterfly Plans” in store, for you, too, Sweet Sister in Christ! Please don’t let your calling as “Mama” become something bitter or sour!  Hold onto the joy that is found in our Savior! Hold onto the beauty of the life God has given to you! Trust HIM with your future! And remember that YOU are SPECIAL to GOD!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Running Away - Dinner #70

     What were the days like, when it was just you and your husband? Can you remember?  Do you feel extremely close and “connected” with your husband, right now? When was the last time you truly felt like singing the words of Song of Solomon, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine . . .” (Song of Solomon 6:2)?

     A few days ago, I posted the following “status” on Facebook:

Brandon and I were apart from each other, the majority of our dating and engagement years . . . Our first baby was born just one day after our 1st. wedding anniversary . . . We've had four baby girls in the past five years . . . Our story is beautiful, but very different than most! How grateful I am to the Lord for a loving husband who always seeks to safeguard our relationship, and make time for US! Home from our 6-Year-Anniversary second Honeymoon at Crystal Coast's Atlantic Beach . . . We had an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL time, and made so many special memories, just the two of us! Photos to come . . .” 
     And when I DID go through all the photos, I wanted to cry . . . And cry some more . . . How could just 3 days and 2 nights away with the Love of My Life be so incredibly special?!
     I can hear some of you ladies saying right now, “I’m jealous!” and “You have 4 little ones – 2 of which are still in diapers – How can YOU afford to go on a mini vacation?!” I think the far better question is “How can we afford NOT to?!”  When Satan wants more than anything to wreck godly marriages and destroy that symbol of the love that Christ has for His church, how can we NEGLECT the building of that special relationship with our spouse?!
     Priscila Shirer, the main actress in the recent Christian film “War Room”, wrote a book on prayer for ladies, in which she said of Satan, “He wants you miserable and exhausted and joyless and undone.  He wants that picture of the gospel – that one you call your marriage and your family – he wants it tarnished. Ripped up. Smeared in the mud of failure . . . As much as the Father loves and embodies unity, your enemy loves and embodies division. Wherever discord is present, he’s never too far away.”  Do we ever really realize how SERIOUS this all is?  I have personally known far too many Christian couples who have separated or divorced . . . I have heard far too many couples tell me that they went, literally, DECADES, without having a night away from their children, during their early years of marriage . . . God WANTS you to have a strong relationship with your spouse!  He is The One Who lovingly DESIGNED marriage!  And I truly believe He honors our desire to “run away” with our spouse – and He provides!  Just as He provides for every single baby that enters your family, He can provide what you need to strengthen your marriage, as well! 
     The truth of the matter is, when you have children, that “alone time” ISN’T something that is “in the budget”! It NEVER is!  And in all honesty, we returned from our vacation to menus of baked beans, quinoa, and tortillas with cheese! LOL!  Why? Because this was something that my husband had on his heart to do FOR US!  And we NEEDED it! And it was WONDERFUL! And you know what? The baked beans and quinoa mean far fewer dishes, for me, now that I’m back in the world of potty-training! LOL! I mean it! God has taken care of everything, and we have been BLESSED!
     Really, it is my husband who should be writing this blog post.  Ever since our first baby came along, it has been his vision for us that we get away – at least once a year – for at least one night.  I think sometimes we forget how VITAL it is to SPEND TIME with our husbands!  Not time where the children are vying for our attention, or getting out of bed every ten minutes asking for “more water” or “another hug” . . . Time AWAY!  When was the last time you RAN AWAY with the Man of Your Dreams?  “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10)  No children, no food to prepare, no dishes . . . Just THE TWO OF YOU . . .
     This could easily become a “how to” article, involving tips on saving money, finding willing babysitters, or praying for maternal peace when it comes time to pull out of the driveway . . . But I don’t wish for it to become that.  Rather, I hope this will be like a letter, URGING you to safeguard the relationship you have with your husband! 
     I recently read a short post, where a mother with 9 children ended up being slammed in the comments section, below it, because of her remark that she didn’t think she could live without her children being around her.  It is a BALANCE.  We LOVE our children – without a doubt – most of the hours of our day (and sometimes even our night) revolve around them!  We OUGHT to find joy in the “ministry of motherhood” the Lord has given to us!  We OUGHT to feel a sadness over the thought of ever losing them or leaving them behind!  But we also need to be alright with RUNNING AWAY! Not because our daily “Mommy Life” is “horrible”, but because we want our MARRIAGE to be BEAUTIFUL! Because we mustn’t pray that our marriage will be blessed, and then leave it to fend for itself! I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
     You won’t find an example in the Bible of a couple getting away by themselves for a date night, I’m afraid . . . but the principles of STRENGTHENING YOUR MARRIAGE are there!  In Deuteronomy 24:5, God instructs the newlywed husbands that they must not even “go out to war” or be “charged with any business” for the whole first year of their marriage! – Why? Because marriage is a BUILDING PROCESS!  And it IS IMPORTANT TO GOD! Marriage is a symbol of Christ’s relationship with the church . . . Ephesians 5:23-25 “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .”  If it is vital that we spend time alone with God, isn’t it also vital that we spend time alone with our spouse? Ephesians 4:27 declares, “Neither give place to the devil.”  Don’t give the devil any room to destroy your homes or your marriages, Ladies!  It isn’t easy to “run away” . . . there’s “pinching pennies”, and cooking ahead, and cleaning, and packing – but it is EVER SO WORTH IT!  Don’t wait until your children are grown, merely HOPING your marriage makes it through the grueling days of child-rearing!  Your husband NEEDS YOU! And YOU NEED HIM!  Be willing to RUN AWAY!