Roles

Wife. Mother. Teacher. Christian. Human.

The perfect wife would have spent more time with my husband today. But my son needed a bath and needed attention, and my role as a mother made that difficult.

The perfect mother would have read books to her son instead of watching TV with him. But my husband and I are enjoying a show together and my role as a wife made that difficult.

The perfect teacher would have evaluated last year’s lessons for ways to make them better instead of copying and pasting previous year’s lessons. But again, my son needed me and my role as a mother (and a wife) took over that instead.

The perfect Christian would have read more scripture today. But when I read scripture on my phone while nursing, I feel guilty that I’m not studying Charles’ little features and making eye contact with him instead.

The perfect human (or put another way, person) would have read some of my book for fun, because I need to have these hobbies to feel like an individual, and not just a robot fulfilling other duties. But all these other roles made that difficult.

 

I find myself feeling guilty no matter how I spend my time, because something is always there still waiting to be done. I know that I can’t be “perfect” in any of these areas, let alone all of them, but I still can’t help but want to do better. I’m working on altering my expectations and giving myself grace, but I needed to say these things because I need my son and my students and my God and my husband and myself to know that I’m trying, and that I’m doing the best that I can right now. 

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6 weeks old and the books of Esther and Daniel

Because my son turns 6 weeks old today, and because I’ve finished another 2 books of Scripture, I am writing. These things would be better off written about separately, but due to the nature of life as a mother of an infant, I probably only have time for 1 post! So here goes…

Being a mother…

  • is still overwhelming many days
  • is still surreal to me (I often feel like I’m babysitting or that this will end soon. But I know in my head that this is the new normal!)
  • is still exhausting, though I think I’m handling the nights better (most days) than I used to.
  • is exciting. Our son is so adorable (everyone says so)! And as he is awake more during the day, I’m starting to see hints of his personality. I love telling people things I know about him that others wouldn’t. Like the fact that he likes to sleep with his hands by his face, or the fact that he hates a wet diaper but doesn’t get bothered much by dirty diapers, or the fact that he tends to stop crying when you hold him sitting upright in your lap. I love that I know these things about him that others don’t. That makes me feel like a parent.
  • gives me lots of time to read on my phone while I’m nursing…which leads me to my latest notes on scripture reading

Observations from reading the books of Esther and Daniel

  • I just started reading scripture again, after taking a month off after Charles was born. I could have read scripture during this time, but I didn’t prioritize it. I’m not proud of this fact, but it’s the truth.
  • I know that emotionally I desperately need to be grounded in the Word and in Truth during this crazy season of life, and in all seasons really.
  • Reading Esther was an easy way to jump back in…it was the next book in the Read Scripture app that I’m using but it’s also a book I’m very familiar with. I’ve read it and studied it numerous times.
  • Esther is unique because it doesn’t mention God, but that makes it more like “real life,” I think. In my day to day encounters, I often speak about being “blessed” or “thankful” or I say things like, “There must be a reason for this,” or “It will all work out.” All of these phrases point to our Lord and his reality in our daily lives, even when we don’t say “blessed by God” or “God must have a reason for this.” It’s implied. I should probably speak more clearly in everyday life about God’s role in it, but many times we don’t. Still, our words and thoughts should point to Him. And we should strive to see the ways that he’s working in our lives even when it isn’t obvious.
  • Esther is brave! I love that about her character. I also love how obedient and loyal she seems to Mordecai, her relative.
  • Daniel is half-easy and half-difficult to read. The first half is filled with stories I know–Daniel and the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the fiery furnace, etc. The second half is a lot of dreams and visions of the kings and Daniel that I find really challenging. If I have time and motivation, I’d like to look more into these chapters to try to understand them better. For now, I know that Daniel was listening to the Lord and the Lord blessed him for his faithfulness.
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Being a Mom

I prayed for this child. I still do! But oh, how I prayed for this child before he was born. And now? Sometimes I think I was crazy for wanting to do this.

Being a mom is so hard. My reasons:

  1. My job hasn’t stopped–I haven’t been able to step away from it for more than half an hour or so since I started having consistent contractions at 3:30 am on June 20th.
  2. People want to help, but sometimes being around people throws off the tiny bit of routine we’re trying to establish. Or people want to help but don’t know how to do that, and teaching them isn’t always worth the time.
  3. Breastfeeding. This child wants food, needs food, and I am that food. He doesn’t want food just at certain predictable times (every 3 hours, for example). He wants food when he’s hungry (like all of us!) which could mean 4 mini-meals in 3 hours, or could mean a blessed 4 hour stretch where he sleeps and isn’t hungry!! And breastfeeding also means that I am constantly wondering if he is eating enough because I can’t see how much he is taking in!
  4. Related to #3–because I am constantly feeding the cute child, I rarely think about feeding myself! Supper time is my least favorite time lately. 5 o’clock rolls around and the thought that I don’t have anything prepared or any meat thawed to use for cooking is so frustrating to me. And the thought of eating out is frustrating, too, because of the financial cost and the stress of taking the always-hungry child out to a public place.
  5. Sleep. Sometimes I go days without feeling tired, but I still wish I had more sleep. I can’t help but keep track of the hours of sleep I get each night–sometimes in 1 hour chunks and occasionally in 3 hour stretches. Getting up at night and then falling back to sleep has never bothered me, but getting up, feeding and diapering Charles, rocking and swaddling him, and then trying to get him to fall asleep for what could be hours in the middle of the night does bother me.

Being a mom is so hard, but it is also getting easier. How I know this?

  1. The first time I gave Charles a bath, or gave him his vitamin D drops, or changed his diaper–I did it with 2 other people and it was still messy. Now I do this regularly by myself and don’t think twice about it.
  2. Going out of the house–I was so stressed about going anywhere and figuring out where I could change diapers and breastfeed comfortably, whether or not he would start crying and bother others, etc. during those first 2 weeks. Now I have taken him out and about many times by myself or with others and my confidence is increasing daily.
  3. I can enjoy his awake times more now. At first, I just wanted him to always sleep so that I could also sleep, or eat, or shower, or do any number of other things. But now I am starting to enjoy the times when he is awake and alert and we can have tummy time or play together.

 

Just some thoughts on this stage of life….

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Saturate

Our church community is going through a training for 8 weeks this summer, and it involves daily “assignments” of reading, praying, answering questions, and more. Why do I say this? Because it means that this is taking up my time instead of the Bible Project’s ReadScripture app. I went through May 16th (the end of Micah, and through Psalm 131), and now I’ve decided that rather than rush through this and rush through the Saturate training, I will focus on Saturate until it is through and until baby arrives, then later in the summer I hope to resume the scripture reading.

So what am I learning in the Saturate training? The first week was all about the Gospel, and the fact that the essence of the gospel is about us having been saved, our continual saving, and the fact that we will be saved. Some Christians I know would argue that we have been saved, and that is it. There is no ongoing sanctification or future saving, but the more we dig into scripture the more it seems that salvation is all 3 of these things.

This second week of Saturate has been about discipleship–discipling individuals, discipling in community, and discipling on mission. As much as I think I know about discipleship as a concept, I found myself praying earnestly yesterday for a picture from God of what these different forms of discipleship look like in my life! I think I knew what they looked like 5 years ago in college, but now I’m not so sure.

What does it look like to speak truth into my husband’s life?

How do I use my role as a mom to be a disciple? Or does being a new mom keep me from discipling somehow?

How can I be a disciple on mission in my workplace, both with my students and with fellow teachers?

How does our Gospel Community (small group) disciple each other and others?

Does discipling in a missional way look like Nathan, I, or both of us traveling elsewhere? Or is our calling to just be missional where we are right now?

…just my thoughts on this latest biblical study…

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Jonah and Micah

Jonah: My take-aways…

  1. God’s plan cannot be ignored.
  2. God’s compassion is something we should love. Jonah loves God’s compassion on him, when he praises God for allowing him to live after being swallowed by the big fish. But Jonah isn’t so happy when God shows compassion on Ninevah. Are we okay with God loving our enemies? One commentator said that Jonah likely viewed the Ninevites the way we view the Nazis. Again I say–are we okay with God showing compassion on our enemies? This makes me think of the death penalty. We want justice, but can we forgive our enemies? Can we be okay with giving life to those who have taken lives and done atrocities? I think that we MUST be okay with giving life, because God can show compassion on the worst of the worst, so I must do so, too.

Micah: My take-aways…

  1. God desperately wants his people, his family (Israel) to remember his good deeds and live a righteous life. Like a parent desiring goodness for their child, God desires good for his people. (see Micah 6 below)

“My people, what have I done to you?
    How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
    and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
    also Aaron and Miriam.
My people, remember
    what Balak king of Moab plotted
    and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
    that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”

2. God’s people (us!) really do want to please the Lord. (see Micah 6 below)

With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

3. So what’s the problem? It seems like God and man want the same things, but our sinful human nature gets in the way. We take our wealth for granted and oppress the poor, we ignore those who need our help, we establish unjust societies/governments, and we just plain mess up…because of our iniquity, and because God is so holy, there is a gap. Justice must be served. Praise the LORD that he has a plan of salvation that involves a man, God’s son, being born of a woman in Bethlehem and taking on the sin of man for us, so that we can be restored to right relationship with God through Him.

4. God is good! He demands justice, but he also forgives and delights to show mercy.  (see Micah 7 below)

Who is a God like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
    and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
    in days long ago.

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Joel and Amos

Joel: I feel like this book can be best summarized in Chapter 2, verse 12-13:

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

“Even now”—when you have turned away from God

“Rend your heart and not your garments”–don’t just tear your sackcloth and cry big, fake tears. Change your heart attitude. Return to the LORD.

“He is gracious and compassionate”–If you will return to him, he will show compassion on you. There is hope.

Amos: I can’t remember ever reading this book, except the 1 time in middle school when I read through the whole bible cover to cover over the course of a few years. It’s another picture of God’s disappointment and anger at Israel for their wickedness, for their disregard for God’s law, and for their idolatry. However, it doesn’t end with God’s anger. It ends with a beautiful picture of how, despite Israel’s wickedness, God would again restore his kingdom, through the line of David (hint: Jesus), and there will be rebuilding and everlasting stability “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them” (Amos 9:15).

A friend posted a commentary on how Hosea and Amos both approach the same topic a little differently. Both men are sharing God’s’s messages to the people of the Northern Kingdom after Israel was divided in 2 but before the Assyrian conquest in 722 BC. Hosea focuses on how Israel broke their covenant (like a marriage vow) with God, and Amos focuses on how Israel has turned away from righteousness and as a result there is no justice in society, particularly for the poor.  Here’s a piece of the commentary that I couldn’t get enough of:

God’s disdain of Israel’s injustice and hypocrisy is seen in chapter 5. Amos 5:4 says, “Seek me and live; but do not seek me at Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal.” He’s telling them to renounce their idolatry. Don’t go to Bethel, don’t go to those idolatrous temples. Then, in verses 10-13, he explains the sorts of things that happen in society when you do worship false gods: people who stick up for the poor are ignored or hated. The poor have heavy rent imposed on them. The wealthy keep getting wealthier, but they’re annexing the land of the poor. The poor are turned aside at the city gate. Society gets really bad when you don’t live faithfully for the one true God.
But in Amos 5:14, God gives the better way, “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live.” This is a cool pairing with the beginning command in 5:4. Initially, God said “seek me” as a means of rejecting idolatry. But in 5:14 it’s “seek good and not evil” as a means of rejecting idolatry. The play on words is meant to show you that right worship of the God of the covenant will result in justice being done in the city gate, while idolatry will result in neglect of the poor. So, for Amos, to seek God is to seek the good of others and to turn your back on God (in idolatry) is to live at the expense of others. Your worship of God, or lack thereof, will necessarily reflect itself in how you treat the poor, the oppressed, and the needy.

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Hosea

A short book, but a beautiful one in the portrait it paints of God.

Hosea 3:1 “Love her (your wife) as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods”

Hosea 11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim (Jacob/Israel) to walk, taking them by the arms, but they did not realize it was I who healed them…I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them…”

Next to this passage in Hosea 11, I had written from years ago the word “Abba,” which I was always told best translated to “Daddy,” an affectionate term for a father. It’s true–this passage is showing us our daddy and his loving care for us. Most of Hosea talks about Israel’s sin and the way they’ve strayed from the LORD, but that makes these short passages about God’s love for a sinful people even more powerful! I’m not trying to ignore God’s disappointment with the unfaithfulness of Israel, because without that disappointment the love would mean so much less. But the love is what stands out as significant, the love is what stands out as the key to who the Lord is.

I’ve always known Hosea to be a book about a prophet who marries a prostitute and sticks by her side despite her unfaithfulness, showing how God stays by his people despite their unfaithfulness. It is about this, but it’s also about God’s role as parent to a disobedient child. Hmm. Maybe more meaningful now as a wife and (almost) mother than it was years ago when I last read the book.

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