Confession: I'm rather intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman. I mean, who wouldn't be? She rises early and stays up late, she is strong and works with her own hands to provide for her family, she goes the distance to prepare their food, she thinks ahead and is prepared. She's strong, honorable, wise, kind, charitable...and the list goes on and on. But perhaps nothing intimidates me more than the 28th verse:
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." Proverbs 31:28It's not even all the "stuff" she did but what her husband and children had to say at the end of it all! Those that knew her best, those that lived with her day in and day out - once they were grown they called her blessed and praised her.
Here's our most recent family picture:
Not bad, huh? Everyone's smiling, looking in the direction of the camera, which really is a miracle in itself. Now here's what our family actually looks like on a day to day basis:
Believe it or not, I'm not standing in the middle of a cotton field, clothes nicely coordinated with smiles on all of our faces. We're in the middle of a beautiful, yet a little (sometimes a lot) messy house. I don't have on any make-up, my hair is clipped up on top of my head. I have one daughter running around in her leotard constantly flipping and jumping. My other daughter has my lipstick smeared all over her face and wearing every piece of jewelry I own. My son is in some mess and no matter what time of day it is, his shoes are on so he can be ready to run and create the next mess! Maybe one of us is smiling, but chances are there's also one of us crying, one of us screaming, one of us laughing, and one of us trying to block it all out!
And let me tell you in the middle of all this chaos, my children aren't calling me holy or sacred! In fact, all I'm getting are calls of "Mom, I need you!" or "Mom, look what Cooper is in now!" But it's my response to those calls, the everyday moments that will determine the end result. Nothing would be worse than to get to the end of this chaos and realize I missed the good part! When this chapter of our life has ended and these little munchkins are ready to go out on their own, what will they and my husband have to say about me? When Curt and I are sitting on the front porch reflecting on this time in the trenches- what will be the end result?
Did I pour everything I had into our family? Did I send Curt off to work feeling prepared for the day? Did he look forward to coming home in the afternoon because that was his place of rest? Did I pour all the love I could into my children so that they show compassion to others? Did I prepare them to be the spouse that their future husband/wife needs? Did I prepare them to be the parents they should be to my grandchildren?
If we as Christians plan on being Christ's hand and feet to anyone on this earth - then it should begin in our own home and families. I have no doubt that my greatest mission field is my own home. God entrusted these little people and this wonderful man to me. And as we all know, with great privilege comes great responsibility. Yes, it's a FULL time job. No, it's NOT an easy one. But it is a worthwhile one. In these everyday moments I am building lives and affecting eternity!
So when we're at the breakfast table and someone spills milk, may I realize it's God providing me a way to teach mercy.
When I'm trying to finish my to-do list for the day and I feel someone poke me with a book wanting to sit down and read, may I show them that people are more important than any to-do list.
When I really just want to check Facebook one more time, may I look into those faces that really matter.
When I'm folding my umpteenth load of laundry for the week, may I pause and thank God for the ones that wear them.
When I've tried teaching how to tie a shoe 6 different ways, may I try one more time!
When I do lose my control may I have the humbleness to ask for forgiveness-because yes, it will happen and they need to see that too.
When I don't see things eye to eye with my husband and want to "put him in his place" may I remember that we are one so whatever place I put him in that's where I'll be too!
When I'm too tired at the end of the day to make bath time fun, may I suck it up and break out the bath paints!
Satan wants my family and he would like nothing more than to distract me from what really matters. To throw up little things to take away from my time with them or to use something trivial to separate me from the peace of God. There's only one way that the Proverbs 31 woman was able to accomplish so much and only one way I will be able to as well - by staying at the feet of Jesus, soaking in all I can from him to pour out into the lives of others, beginning right in front of me.
Nope - My husband's not singing my praises and my children aren't calling me blessed - yet. But our family is a work in progress and I have no doubt that if I keep at it diligently they will! I hope that at the end of this mission both my husband and children say, much liked the Proverbs 31 family did:
"I knew her better than anyone else. I saw her through the good, the bad, and the ugly. And through it all she gave me all she had. She made life fun! She comforted me and was always a soft place to land. She taught me to believe even when it didn't seem possible. She gave me grace even when I didn't deserve it. She loved me like Jesus."Then, they will take that love, grace, peace, and joy and pass it on to the next generation. All those cuddles in the middle of the night, cleaned up messes, calmness when I wanted to just scream and being fun when I just wanted to sleep, will outlast just these small moments and span into an eternity.
This week as we go through our day to day rituals, let's not overlook those God has entrusted in our care. Let's open our eyes to our mission field before us and serve them with our whole hearts! Let it begin at home and let it begin with me.