Monday, February 18, 2013

these kids are killing me!

One year ago, my husband was on a missions trip to Togo, leaving me with a 2 year old and a newborn! Shortly after he arrived home I wrote the following on something the Lord taught me while Tim was gone. The Lord has used this to challenge and encourage me many times in the past year. I wanted to share it with you today and I hope it will encourage you as well:

Six weeks after I gave birth to Norah, Tim led a mission trip to Africa for 17 days! 

As the days and weeks crept closer for him to leave, my panic grew at being left with the two kids (including a newborn) all by myself. The day he left, I drove the three of us to my in laws house for a few days. On the way, the kids fell asleep, and I was able to have some time alone with the Lord! I told the Lord,

 It’s just you and me, God!  I don’t know what the next 17 days hold, but you do. And I am placing my rest in you! 

And in that quiet moment, I chose to rest in him and place my trust in his watch care and sovereignty and protection over us! I knew it would be a time of growth for me as I handled life alone and knew that my dependence on the Lord would grow, in areas that I would normally depend on Tim first.

There were many chances for me to exercise that trust in his absence:
I had to take Titus to the ER the first day because of a bad case of hives.
I had some confusion with our finances, which caused me some stress since I usually don’t handle them.
And I potty trained my 2 year old while nursing a 6 week old (thanks mom for the help!)

But the Lord sustained me (and I’m so grateful for our parents who stepped up to help me out during that time).
But there’s still no one that can replace your spouse and your kids’ dad.

While Tim was gone, life seemed to be tilted on its side, nothing seemed quite right with our family separated. I would get up every morning, go through the motions of taking care of the kids through the day, and go to bed at night completely exhausted, only to get up multiple times with the baby.
Then in the morning I would get up and do it all over again. I fell into a survival mode. Life had become about getting us all through the 2 ½ weeks until Daddy was home and all would be right again.

But God had lessons for me to learn, and this time away from Tim proved to the place He wanted me to learn them.

One particular day, I was struggling and wondering if I was ever going to survive, specifically that time apart, but also motherhood in general. I remember feeling incredibly panicked in that moment and thinking, 

This is going to kill me! I think I’m going to die!  I feel my life being sucked out of me! Will I ever make it through this? 

That night, Tim sent me an email and encouraged me to read 2 Corinthians 4, the passage of Scripture he would be preaching in Africa, and one that had been some good food for his soul. Little did I know how perfectly it would answer my melodramatic questions!

I grabbed my Kindle, settled down under the covers and read the words my heart needed to hear that were felt down into my soul.

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak. 14 We know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and present us with you. 15 Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.
16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (HCSB)

What I came to understand was that I was dying. My life was being sucked out of me and my body was slowly being destroyed daily. 

But what I was encouraged by as I read verse by verse and let the power of the Word wash over me, was that although my physical body is being destroyed, my inner self is being renewed! We know that because of the curse, our bodies physically are dying. They are wearing out! As we watch our physical bodies decay and feel the curse at work, we have the hope that no matter how difficult life is, our inner person (the part of us that really matters and lasts forever) is being renewed day by day!

What a hope to have that this life is not all there is! The struggled of this life is just for a moment! What’s done in this life does matter, but it’s for such a short time that we’re called to be faithful. And it is such a reminder to evaluate what around me has eternal value, because those are the things I should be focusing my energies on! All the stuff that I can get sucked into or desire isn’t worth my energy in the end. 

What matters most is the investment I’m making into my kids’ lives.
It matters eternally how I live my life before the Lord.
It matters how I serve and love my husband.
And my attitude toward the role that the Lord has given me as a full time mom, wife and home manager matters eternally.

Immediate gratification of time to do as I please, getting more sleep, having nicer things or living in more comfort are the things that are “seen”, not having eternal significance… If I’m blessed with those, great! I’m thankful for God’s graciousness. That doesn’t mean I don’t pray for them according to God’s will. But they don’t consume my energies and thoughts. 

What is unseen is developing my relationship with the Lord, raising my children to godliness, serving my family selflessly, growing in my character, loving those around me, and taking care of my responsibilities. 

What is unseen may be the future salvation of my children when I make praying and spiritual conversations a priority above keeping them "busy" so I can have a moment of quiet. 

It might mean falling deeper in love with Tim because I spent time with him sacrificially, rather than using my evening time spending it for myself.

It may also mean that I spend my few short moments in the afternoons with the Lord rather than choosing to spend them doing less important things.

I must keep my focus on the things that have eternal value, rather than letting myself get bogged down in the day to day momentary struggles that are temporary and not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s also an encouragement to know that all these struggles I endure in this life as I trust and follow the Lord will be worth it in the end, when I finally see that “absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (vs 17)- say that out loud, I love how it sounds rolling off my tongue!

Trust God with your life! Focus on the eternal, on the bigger picture and be faithful to what He’s called you to right now! It’s just temporary! As you die daily, be encouraged that the inner, immaterial, eternal part of you is becoming more and more alive all the time!

I still have days that I think “These kids are killing me!” and I feel the life draining out of me as I pour my energies out. But this is the hope and encouragement that I daily hold on to. And I hope you do too as you follow the Lord wherever He’s placed you!

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