“I would define ‘hidden art’ as the art found in the ordinary areas of everyday life. Each person has, I believe, some talent which is unfulfilled in some hidden area of his being – a talent which could be expressed and developed.”
By Edith Schaeffer
“The Hidden Art of Homemaking”
One morning, as I was sweeping my kitchen floor, I was wondering why I was wasting my time cleaning up messes that would just be recreated again within mere minutes. This was "back in the day" when the loudest women's voices all around me were claiming that if I didn't have a "career" where I would be recognized for all of my accomplishments, I would die a completely "unfulfilled" woman. That, really, I could do anything a man could do, and probably even better, if I just had the chance. And it was my responsibility to seize that opportunity, search for it and demand it, if I was ever to be a valued member of the human race.
But what about sweeping the kitchen floor? And what about washing the laundry for all of these people in my family who depended on me to take care of such "unimportant" matters as cooking and cleaning? So, of course I carried on, and I finished sweeping the floor, and doing the dishes, and changing the diapers, and rocking the sick babies, and going to the library, and reading with the toddlers, and going to the park with the pre-schoolers, and taking the older children to music lessons and sports practices. How in the world was I EVER going to do something "important" if all of my time was invested in this "home maker" business?
Then, another day, I happened to come across the writing of Edith Schaeffer, and it completely changed my perspective on life. I had read some of the books by her husband, Francis Schaeffer, including "How Should We Then Live," in which Dr. Schaeffer gives historical examples of how our choices, as a people and as a nation, have presented us with the ultimate question for every human being: how should we live, in light of the cultural and historical realities of our times? And in the midst of such philosophical ponderings, I still had to face MY reality of diapers, screaming babies, and naughty toddlers. How to bridge the gap between what seemed to be a message about what I "ought" to be doing, and what, in reality, I actually "was" doing.
Mrs. Schaeffer, in her own practical and yet deeply philosophical approach, enabled me to see that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to be doing for that day, for that time in my life. That my choices in my home everyday, would make a difference for eternity. And the most significant aspect of this revelation, to me, was the truth that I can, and I do, use all of my creativity, all of my energy, all of my God-given gifts within the context of caring for my home and family.
Even in the seemingly "ordinary" moments of life, my choices to focus my ministry first, but not necessarily exclusively, on my home and family DOES make a difference in the history of humanity. Because if, within the setting of my home, God can use me to touch one life . . . one child . . . . one friend . . . . one neighbor, that is truly His work. I am honored to have received the ministry of "home making," and just like your ministry may not be what someone else has been called to do, I do not need to compare my ministry to someone else's. So wherever you are, whatever you are doing, God wants us all to pursue that "hidden art" that resides within each of our hearts, and create our "art" to His honor and glory.
"The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer was first published in 1972, but it is still available through Amazon.
Thank you for stopping by today! Please leave a link to your In Other Words blog post so we can visit you, and then take a minute to visit the other participants to read their perspective on this quote about the "hidden art" that is in the heart and life of every woman, including you!
If you are a mom, you will sooner or later have to let go of some of your dreams. That's just the way it is, but that's OK. When we are young moms, and our babies are bouncing and giggling, we just know that all of our tomorrows will be as bright as our babies smiles. And then as a bit of time goes by, we become exhausted from chasing toddlers around, trying to keep them alive and our homes from being destroyed. If we are also trying to work from home, which many of us are these days, we walk a fine line between "being there" for our little ones, and "being there" for our clients. It's truly a juggling act, but as moms, we are perfectly capable of spinning several plates at the same time and keeping most of them from crashing and smashing on the ground.
Then one day, all of a sudden, our babies are "big kids," learning about nouns and verbs, multiplication tables and geometry, the names of the planets and how to dissect a frog. Amazing! Whose kids are these, anyway? The last time I looked they were still toddling around, reaching for Mama and crying "Up, up, up, pease!" The first baby tooth falls out and where is that Tooth Fairy when you need him? Her? I guess the Tooth Fairy ran out of money and will have to reschedule for tomorrow night . . . . or next week, since mommy and daddy are both out of work and the mortgage is late. And hopefully the Tooth Fairy shows up before that grown-up tooth comes in or somehow the magic of childhood will be shattered.
From those moments of delightful silliness that characterizes our kids ("Mom, I just made up a new Chicken Dance!" . . . . really that JUST happened right here in my little home office) - to those frightening times when we are praying that they are safe, out there somewhere, somehow we begin to realize that we can't protect them forever. And that is a traumatic moment for every mom. That's just the way we are. Our nurturing instincts continually compell us to shield and protect our babies, but eventually we have to let go. Just a little bit. And give them some space. Even when it breaks our hearts.
And it is in those moments of anxiety that if we can just quiet our hearts and listen to the voice of God, He will remind us that He loves our babies so much more than we ever could. Which is hard for us to believe, but it is true. When we are fearful and uncertain; because sometimes children grow up and do things and go places that make us wonder where our REAL children have been hidden - because we think THIS certainly can't be MY child! - and we are confused, we must remember that He is still in control. He hears our prayers, He knows our hearts, and He truly loves them so much more than we can imagine. Let them go. At least a little bit, and trust our Heavenly Father to keep them.
In those moments we may only be able to pray, "Father, that she would just live through this," but that is enough. Can you let go a little bit? Can I let go a little bit? Faith and trust can be so difficult sometimes, but there are times when we have no choice, because they will go whether we "let" them or not. God will take good care of them. I know, trust me on this one!
This truth gives me hope. We frequently see images of the "Christian Celebrities" who have been gifted with amazing abilities as speakers, teachers, musicians, authors . . . . and then there are the rest of us. I celebrate the gifts of those who have been blessed with talents that bring God's grace to the hearts of "ordinary Christians." But I've also wondered why some of us have those opportunities, while most of us walk through life in the shadows, quietly doing what God has put before us to do. What makes the difference? But, really, there is no difference.
I remember days when my older children were small and I found myself feeling worthless, as if my daily tasks were making no difference in the world. In the midst of hearing sermons preached about the amazing experiences of those who were called to the mission field, listening to eloquent speakers and teachers at seminars and conferences, and reading the words of brilliant writers . . . . how could I contribute anything? After all, most of my days were taken up with changing diapers, cuddling and reading with toddlers, helping with homework, losing sleep watching over the bed of a feverish child, driving one, two, three, four of them to music lessons, sports practices and games, running the PTA and Friends of the Library . . . . absolutely nothing compared to all of the "famous" voices and faces all around me.
But I've never been called to the mission field in a foreign country. I've never been able to contribute any musical talents to our local congregation. I've not yet written a book that has made me famous. I have done a bit of public speaking and teaching, but certainly nothing that would qualify me for "celebrity" status. And so for several years I felt as if I had nothing to offer. But here I am, now. Still not famous, still just an ordinary mama, making my way through every day. Still helping with homework, attending soccer practice and games, rushing my daughter to the ER to have the gash over her eyebrow stitched up (and still losing sleep watching over her all night long while she slept soundly beside me), still trying to figure out how to help a 9 year old understand multiplication and a teach a 7 year old how to read "Green Eggs and Ham." I still find myself wondering what it all means.
Isn't there SOMETHING that I can do that will make a difference in the world? But then I remember, as God's gentle voice reminds me that He DID bless us with the opportunity to travel to China, twice, to bring our daughters home. He has honored this mother's prayers for her children, as they have grown-up and they are still alive ;o) and they are all successful in their own lives. No, not all my prayers were answered. My marriage of 25 years was not healed; the brokenness of that tragedy will remain to my last days of life on this earth. No, not all of my children understand (even after almost 15 years), and no, I have never been able to give back to my church and community any of the more "visible" gifts.
But I remain hopeful that God's Word is true . . . . that if I just offer Him all that I am and all that I have (even if it isn't very much!), that He is pleased and will use my life to bring glory to Himself. Really . . . . what more can I ask for? And if that is all that ever comes of my life, then that is enough.Please visit Jennifer at "Scraps and Snippets" to read her thoughts on this quote and you will also find links to the other IOW participants for this week. Share your thoughts on your blog and leave your link there so we can come and visit you. And remember . . . . if YOU are just an ordinary mama, it's OK! ;o) God is using you in ways you may never know.
Do you ever think about your mama's voice? We all have images of what that might mean . . . .for some of us the memory of Mama's Voice brings back visions of our childhood. It might bring memories of Mama fixing supper and calling us in from our backyard adventures. For others the suggestion of Mama's Voice perhaps recalls times of singing lullabies in a rocking chair, or being on the receiving end of a willow switch pulled hastily from the nearest tree. In those moments of Mama's Terror, she probably said some things that sounded pretty dramatic: "Don't you EVER go by the lake again, young lady, or I'll . . . . . " whatever the rest of the threat might have been. Hard to remember, because all the while the ranting and raving of Terrified Mama was resounding off the trees and houses in the neighborhood, that willow switch was stinging one little girl's tiny hiney all the way home. Guess I remember Mama's Voice THAT day.
Or maybe your Mama's Voice still invades your daily routine, with voice messages on your phone reminding you to take Maddie to the dr. because she has a runny nose, and be sure to check Hunter's shoes because they seemed a bit too small on Tuesday. For some of us, Mama's Voice is a distant memory, haunting our moments of silence, as we realize that we never really even knew our Mama. I'll bet that happens to lots of us. And then, when we are the Mama, do we ever wonder what our children remember about our voice, our words, our presence in their lives?
Of course, most mamas try their best to be a Good Mama . . . . and most of us are. But then, there are those times when we stumble and fall somewhere along the way. Then what? Then there is God's grace. Of course, if you have never, ever lost your patience with your children, or ever uttered a single word in fear, anxiety, exhaustion, or anger, then none of this matters. But Mama's Voice is a powerful presence in everyone's life, and if we can reflect back on how we responded to our Mama's Voice, it might help us to redeem the time that we have with our own children. Our Drama Diva frequently says, "Mama, I like your Happy Voice." Well, that's a good thing, but sometimes this lil' darlin' needs to hear Mama's Stern Voice . . . especially when she is being a bit bossy with her sister.
As I think of my Mama's Voice, and how I no longer have the opportunity hear her speaking to me, I wonder if I listened to what she was REALLY saying or if I just let her words kind of fall unceremoniously to the ground. And she knew it, I'm sure. And as I think of my voice as the Mama, I know that my words have not always been what my children needed to hear, but that's one of the good things about Mama's Voice . . . . we can speak words of forgiveness, and we can ask forgiveness, and we should do it before it is too late. Mama's Voice won't be around forever.
"A sentence from Psalm 101 has been both challenging and convicting for me: 'I will walk in my house with blameless heart' (Psalm 101:2, NIV). When God speaks to me about being more loving, this verse reminds me to make application in my family first -- and then to others. It forces me to ask, 'Am I more spiritual, more loving, or more fun somewhere else? Who gets my best -- my family or others?"
~Jean Fleming from "A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision and Character for the Christian Mother"
This is a question that I have pondered over the years, and quite honestly, I have agonized over this idea of whether or not I am "fun" with my family. It is not uncommon in my weekly IOW posts to take a bit different approach to the given quote for our consideration. And this week I guess will be no different. But before I share my thoughts on this particular quote, let me explain some of the reasons that I don't always see things the way many regular Christian girls do. ;o) I trust you will understand why I sometimes seem to come to our weekly task from "around the corner," or from a different slant than you will probably hear in your average Christian conversation.
Some of you know that I spent many, many years trying to figure out why MY home, MY family, MY marriage just didn't quite "measure up" to what I was observing around me in my church family. And so, when life in my little world was topsy-turvy and completely confusing, I assumed that it was because I was doing something I shouldn't be doing . . . . or not doing something that I should have been doing . . . . or I wasn't "nice" enough to my children, or I wasn't "fun" enough to keep up with the incessant demand in our home for "excitement," "adventure," and an every-increasing expectation that life should be "fun."
So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed . . . . for many, many years . . . . asking God to change me, to make me a "good" mommy, a better wife, a happier Christian. But no matter how much I prayed, or how much I determined to be "more spiritual, more loving, or more fun," I just never could quite reach that elusive goal. Every day, every week, every month, every year I struggled to understand how I could be so incapable of "getting it right." And every time I would hear one more sermon about how the mother is responsible for setting the "tone" in the home; she (apparently alone) is responsible to create a loving, nurturing, spiritual, happy home where her family is cheerfully growing in God's grace . . . . I would sink into an even deeper abyss of hopelessness.
Maybe it was because I didn't spend enough time in my daily devotions. Maybe it was because I had gained a few pounds from giving birth to four beautiful babies. Maybe it was because I believed that we should do things together as a family, and that idea was really annoying to those people who were my family at the time. Maybe it was because I worked so hard to be there for my children when they got home from school, to sit down and read with them, and then help them with their homework. My biggest failure in those days, however, was that I was continually pleading with my family to have dinner together, all at the same time, all at the same table. And I even expected that we should try to eat healthy foods, and treat each other with respect.
After years of being humiliated and criticized for trying to incorporate into our lives many of the principles that were being taught from the pulpit, from women's seminars, from Christian books, and from Christian radio programs . . . . . I just gave up. I quit. Because I couldn't understand why, in this family, all of those things that were being taught as "good" where condemned as preventing my family from having "fun." And of course, I failed. Miserably. Because after years of this, I really wasn't fun, or loving, or spiritual. I was broken and angry.
I recall one day, standing in my kitchen with a broom in hand (as I attempted to clean my house, which was also deemed "not fun" so I guess I had better just do it myself, and not EVER dare to ask for help), I was listening to a well-known Christian radio broadcast on the little radio I kept on the kitchen counter. When I heard the woman who was being interviewed claim that "a woman who does not create an atmosphere of joy, happiness, spirituality, and loving kindness in her home, really does not love her family and she does not love the Lord." I was done. The end. I collapsed in the middle of the kitchen and wept, begging God to tell me how I had failed so miserably. How could one woman, who so desperately wanted to honor God and raise her children to love the Lord, could be such a worthless example of Christian womanhood? What? What? What do you want me to do? I begged God to just show me what ELSE I could do. And the answer was silence.
Because, I discovered later, there was no way that I could overcome the powerful influence that had convinced my children that mommies are supposed to be "nice" and "fun" and NEVER, EVER address their children's behavior. A good mommy is just supposed to smile and say "Isn't that nice" ;o) no matter what her children or husband say or do to her. I learned that lesson very well! And for years, the silent smiles of pretense hid the growing rage that burned within my heart. Until, one day, it was just over. It was just over.
Now I know that not only must a mother be spiritual, loving, and kind, it is simply not possible for a mother to be "fun" at all cost. I am not my children's best friend, I am their mother. And sometimes that means being the boss, making decisions that may not be popular, and teaching my children to do the right thing. Even when they don't want to. That is the life lesson that all of this taught me: just do the right thing. Even if no one around you recognizes it, appreciates it, or even if they try to destroy you because of it. Do the right thing.
Now, when I am seeking God's guidance, I know that He will lead me if I just do the next thing in front of me. Step by step He will show me the path, and in the absence of a dysfunctional environment I have discovered that it is not that difficult to be spiritual, loving, and yes, even "fun." Because I am now free to be what a truly "good" mommy ought to be . . . . the mother of my children, not the convenient place to dump the guilt and blame for everything that isn't "perfect" in the world. I have learned that all the "junk" in the world is not because I wasn't "fun" enough. It is a result of sin, and every one of us needs to deal with the sin in our lives through the grace of God and by seeking His forgiveness.
So . . . . I've revealed a great deal about my own life in this post. That is because of another lesson I've learned while stumbling through the fires of failure: Talking about the problem is NOT the problem - THE PROBLEM is the problem. And if we never talk about it, we can never sort it out and solve it. But now you perhaps have a better idea of why my posts tend to push the edges a bit. I hope you do not take offense, and I apologize if you do, but trust me on this one . . . . pretense and silence never fix anything. In my life now, I am safe and loved, and free to be the kind of mommy that I always wanted to be. God is truly good!
Please visit our hostess this week, Loni at Writing Canvas, where you will find links to the other IOW participants for this week. Then, leave your link so we can visit you!
Because of my job as editor of Ruby for Women, I am frequently out and about in cyber space, cruising around the mommy blogs, looking for intriguing writing, ideas, and personalities. And I frequently find them! There are SO many amazing women out here who write from the heart, who share honestly and even boldly, telling their stories and sharing their wisdom. One thing that remains constant, however, is an ongoing version of the "Mommy Wars." Now, if you are younger that 35, or maybe even 40, you probably don't remember the early days of the "Mommy Wars."
Perhaps these little spats have been going on throughout all of history . . . although I wouldn't be surprised if women of long ago really didn't have the time or energy to worry about whether she measured up to the neighbor lady. For many centuries of world history, women have been so consumed with survival, for themselves and their families, that they frequently had to figure out how to get through a day without dying. And they didn't always succeed at that. But in more modern history, we have the time, energy, education, and permission to consider things such as: "Am I a good enough mom if I can't provide my children with the latest designer clothing?" or what about the mamas who worry about having to choose between working away from home (and consequently having their children in day care) or having enough money to keep a roof over the heads of family members?
And of course a HUGE issue among mommies is the topic of education. Of course, we all want the very best for our children. That's the way God made mamas - and so we struggle to figure it all out. And sometimes we get it right and sometimes we discover that we THOUGHT we were doing the right thing, only to find out years later that, unfortunately, we made a mistake about something. It's definitely a good thing that there is God's grace, or we would all be in a pretty bad situation.
But the question that really haunts me, and has for many years, is why we seem to bring all of this guilt into our lives and into the lives of others. I'm sure we don't really mean to drag all this load of guilt around with us . . . . and I would have a hard time believing that anyone would intentionally drop that heavy load right on top of another mommy's (probably already) broken heart. But it does happen. And now that I am a "vintage mama," I have the advantage of being able to look behind me with a little different perspective than when I was right in the middle of being a young mom, trying to "get it right."
Now, as an older mom with young children again, I've discovered a couple of things that I wish I had know back when I was struggling with trying to "measure up" to all the other "perfect" mamas I encountered all around me. If you are interested in this conversation, Sarah Mae has started a discussion here where you can share your thoughts on this subject. But for whatever it is worth, here are some things that I have learned from being a mama, from watching my children grow up, and now being a mama again:
1. You aren't perfect, so don't pretend. I'm not perfect, and pretending for all those years almost destroyed me.
2. Mamas make mistakes. The sooner you accept that truth, and teach it to your children, the healthier you all will be.
3. God forgives. The sooner you accept that truth, and teach it to your children, the healthier you all will be.
4. Guilt will break you. It will break your heart, it will break your spirit, and it will eventually destroy your health.
5. If we could be perfect, God would not have needed to send His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. He could have just told us to figure it out for ourselves, and then He could have done something else for all of eternity.
6. We ARE perfect, however, through the grace and forgiveness of God. The difference is that we are perfect positionally, not existentially. All that means is that in the physical, material world where we live right now, our human experience will defy all efforts to "get it right" all of the time . . . but that does not negate the reality of our position in Christ as being perfected because of His sacrifice.
7. If children are allowed to grow up believing that they are "special" (which of course they ARE!) without learning the correlating truth that everyone else is special, TOO, they will be deceived into thinking that everything in their life SHOULD be perfect . . . . . and if someone else (usually mommy) does not MAKE it perfect, then we can blame mommy for all of the bad things that happen in life.
8. As mamas, we are given the privilege and opportunity to train our children, protect them, and give them the "tools" that they need to be safe and successful in life. It is NOT our job to make them "like" us - if my four year old is "mad" at me because I tell him he cannot climb onto the roof and run around naked . . . . he'll get over it. But he might not get over a two-story fall into the rose bushes.
9. Your gifts are different from someone else's gifts. If you are a home schooling mom who runs a home business while writing the next best-selling Christian novel, sings and plays piano every Sunday and writes music that moves the congregation to tears, has a perfectly tidy home and garden, and sews a gorgeous wardrobe for all of your 12 children . . . . . that is a good thing. But most of us are just regular moms, struggling to keep clean clothes on those little bodies and nutritious food in their mouths. All the rest is just . . . . well, the rest.
10. Finally, get over it. My mistakes and failures are NOT the main event. My failures not that important in the big scheme of history. I mess up every day . . . . I forgot to mail a birthday card to my son-in-law, I haven't bought a Mother's Day gift for Grandma yet, my kids ate Cheerios for supper last night, the flower gardens need to be weeded, and I STILL need to get the garden planted. If I get to it at all, this year. Fortunately I remembered to buy toilet paper before it ran out, and I did manage to mow the lawn. I'm normal, and so are you. Normal does not equal perfect. Write THAT on the back of your hand!
The bad news is that you aren't perfect, and neither am I. But the very Good News is that we don't have to be. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, our every day mistakes, our failures and shortcomings. Own it, admit it, confess it, and get over it. God has. And if there are other people in your life who aren't ready to "get over it," well, I'm sad for them and I pray for them and I love them . . . but I'm done hauling around this great big load of guilt. So, I promise, I won't ever dump it on you. But, on the other hand, if you try to hand me a load of guilt, I'll just turn around and walk away. Because I believe that when God forgives, I'm not exactly the right person to question His gift.
Mommy wars . . . . why do we do this to each other and to ourselves? If you are striving to honor God in your daily life, and honest and sincere in seeking His wisdom and guidance, you will be doing EXACTLY what you should be doing today. And tomorrow. Don't let false guilt suck the soul right out of you.
As the warmer weather arrives, of course the kids want to play outside. That's just normal, and it actually is a bit of a relief when they can go out in the yard and play on the swing set or explore in the wooded area just behind our house. The other day the girls were tumbling around in the living room, giggling and tickling each other, and occasionally getting a bit annoyed with one another. So I said, "Hey, how about going outside to play?"
I thought that made a lot of sense since it was a really beautiful afternoon. So, off they went, wearing their new "feet flops" (as Gracie has always called them), to the back yard. Five minutes later they were back inside. "What's up with that?" I asked, just a bit distracted with the other tasks I was trying to accomplish that day. "There's nothing to do out there!" they declared. Really? "Well, how about going out THERE and do what you were doing in HERE?" I asked. "You know, the running and yelling, tumbling and falling down, giggling and teasing, and generally being loud and boisterous." They both looked at me like I had lost my mind. Perhaps I have, but at least I'm happy ;o) That idea just didn't seem to compute in their little brains. So I told them to go back outside and figure it out.
They did, and I was able to think one thought from beginning to end . . . but that was about all! As they were outside playing, it suddenly occurred to me that life is much different now from when I was raising my older children. Back then, I didn't worry so much about them playing in the yard or visiting their neighborhood friends. They walked to the elementary school that was just around the corner, and they rode their bikes around the block.
It could be that I'm just more protective now than I was back then, but I don't think so. Even out here in the country where we have wonderful neighbors, there is still the fear of looking out my office window to keep an eye on my children, only to discover that they are nowhere to be seen. That is terrifying to a mother's heart. And when you hear on the nightly news of so many child abductions, kidnappings, murders, and rapes, I just think I can't be too careful when it comes to my babies. Just two weeks ago a 14 year old girl was brutally abducted and murdered right here in our little farm community. As it turned out, it was her 17 year old boyfriend, and he was arrested right away . . . . so at least we know that this was not some random act of violence. But it was still horrible. As I think about our family's homeland security plans and precautions, I am saddened to think that childhood is not the carefree time that it could be. Maybe it never was . . . . but I'm definitely more aware of the many dangers that are out there in this big world and feel the need to be ever vigilant in protecting these little ones. Keep them close to your heart, and ever in sight - at least for another day or two.
“I turn to wisdom not my own
For every battle You have known.
My confidence will rest in You;
Your love endures; Your ways are good.
When I am weary with the cost,
I see the triumph of the cross;
So in its shadow I shall run
Till He completes the work begun.”
~ When Trials Come
by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Do you ever feel so exhausted that you wonder how you are ever going to keep putting one foot in front of the other? The pathway seems so dark and rough, and the journey seems so long . . . . what you really want to do is just lay down and take a nap. Well, sometimes that might be just what the dr. ordered. But there are other times when you are weary, completely worn out, and you want to give up, but if you just take one more step, and then another, one at a time, eventually you will realize that you are beginning to see the light. You know, the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel," but in this case it is NOT a train coming straight at you! This Light is the gift of God's love, mercy, and grace shining brightly in the distance of our journey. He is there, just waiting for you to take that next step.
When we lived in Colorado, there were several tunnels that we would drive through when we went down the mountain to Denver, and there was a really LONG tunnel we had to drive through if we decided to go up, over the top of the mountain to our west. That one was kind of scary, for me because I can be kind of claustrophobic. The shorter ones didn't bother me because I could see the other end when we entered. But that long one . . . . there were several turns (not exactly switchbacks, but winding) making it impossible to see how far it was until we got to the other end and the relief of seeing the sky again. I remember thinking, "What would happen if there was a crash in here and a fire or explosion?" Well, I guess I could figure out what would happen if there was an explosion . . . . but what if there was a crash, or what if part of the "roof" of the tunnel fell in? And I couldn't get out?
That actually felt more frightening to me than the thought of a crash. If I couldn't get out of the enclosed space, and it was dark, and my babies were terrified - what would I do? I have no clue, and fortunately I never had to figure it out. At least, not yet. But it reminded me of all the times that we are in that "dark place' of fear and uncertainty. When we are completely exhausted from doing all that we know to do, all that we believe God would have us do, or even when we are weary from going the wrong way through the tunnel of life. . . . what can we do? Give up. That's one option.
But probably not a very good one, because if you ever hope to get out the other side of that tunnel, you really do just have to keep moving. It is kind of like riding a bike. When a kid is just learning to ride a bike, it is a tricky balancing act to keep the bike moving and not tip over. But the truth is that a bike is much easier to steer, and get it to go in the right direction (such as away from running head-long into a tree) if it is moving. We have to keep moving, BUT we also have to keep our eyes on the goal. We have to stay focused on the Source of our strength that will enable us to "just keep moving."
We've been taking the girls roller skating, and they are really doing great. But Annie still tends to turn that left foot in, tip it down (which helps her stop, and that's a good thing!), and then she ends up tripping herself when she tries to move her other foot forward. Now I know that is because of her CP, which only affects her left side, but it is rather frustrating to her when the other kids are beginning to cruise around the skating rink without holding on to the side rail. So the other day, we worked on that annoying little problem.
I took her by the arm, and walking along side of her, I kept saying, "Chin up! Look straight ahead! Keep moving! One foot in front of the other! Don't tip that left foot down!" I know, I am a rather naggy, persistent mother, but I guess that's her lot in life ;o) And we would go down the practice lane, from the trash can to the end of the railing, and then turn around and go back. "Chin up! Shoulders back! Keep moving! Look down there! One foot in front of the other!"
Occasionally she would trip both of us, or smoosh my foot, or lean too far back and her skates would go whoosh! out from under her and down she would go. Eventually, I started stepping away from her, and walk backwards with my hands out to her but not touching her. She would reach out her hands towards me, and I kept saying, "Look at me! Keep your eyes right on Mama!" Before long, she was skating all by herself, tentatively and timidly to be sure, with that left hand reaching out for me. Occasionally that left foot would still drop and turn in, and she would wobble back and forth for a second, but she was beginning to correct her balance when she started to tip over. We can't wait to go back to the skating rink on Saturday afternoon!
That's how life is sometimes . . . . I just have to keep my eyes focused straight ahead, on the Cross, and know that I am never alone. He is always there reminding me to keep my chin up, keep moving and put one foot in front of the other. Every day I am getting better at keeping my balance and maneuvering those obstacles that might tip me over. Just like Annie is going to be amazing at roller skating! Just keep moving, and you'll be just fine, even though you might be in a dark place right now . . . . it is the shadow of the Cross.
Please visit Jennifer at "Scraps and Snippets" to find the links to the other "In Other Words" participants this week. Then, leave a comment and a link back to you blog so we can read your perspective on this week's quote.