Picking My Attitude Up Off The Floor

Picture this:

A cold, miserable Monday. It’s raining, possibly sleeting.

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I’m not too old to jump in puddles, right?

The kids are bouncing around after school, climbing all over each other as a substitute for the swing set that is too wet to climb on.

If the toddler isn’t whining, he is destroying something. (Seriously, if there were toddler Olympics and one of the sports was “who can cause the most destruction in 1 minute”, he would win it!)

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Whole jar of rosemary. All. Over. The. Floor.

I tried three times to start washing dishes, but I didn’t even get to the point of running the water.

What did I do next?

You have one life line left. Would you like to phone a friend?

Yeah, I called my husband, in a kind of panicked state (but without the energy) to ask when he would be home.

Sometimes I get to this point where I just don’t even bother trying any more. I feel defeated.

And at that point, I really just want the 2D version of my husband (the one who didn’t just spend a whole day at work, doesn’t have his own feelings and needs, and only exists when he is around me…) to walk in the door and rescue me. Just walk in the door, (metaphorically) whip the kids into line and magically make the mess disappear.

And I kind of just sit down, pop the TV on for the kids and scroll through the internet until he comes home and works the Daddy magic.

Today I started to do that – I had already plonked my butt on a kitchen stool – but then I thought to myself, I am a grown woman. I might not be able to turn the whole day around, but I certainly don’t need to sit on my butt doing nothing, waiting to be rescued…

So I got up off the stool and started picking things up. Yes, the house is still a mess. No, the dishes still didn’t get done. But I did something.

And as I walked around the house clearing up the small messes, putting the bin liners back in and wiping down the benches, I cleared away the mess in my heart.

I wiped away all the why is this house so messy and the why can’t the kids just play nicely for five minutes.

I cleaned up the stinking piles of no one appreciates what I do.

I scrubbed at the mysteriously sticky my husband has it so much easier than me.

And I had to get out the bleach to deal with the toxic heap of God, I deserve better than this.

 

And when my 3D husband walked in the front door, and our eyes locked across the work-in-progress living room, I smiled at him. (And he smiled back at me *blush*)

I’m not talking about plastering on some fake smile.

No, that smile was the real smile of a real woman who did the real heart-work of turning to God instead of wallowing in self-pity and despair. It was not the desperate, grasping glare of a damsel in distress, trapped in a tower of dirty dishes waiting for her 2D knight in a business shirt to rescue her.

(Goodness knows, we’ve been there before! But that season has passed…)

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File under “F” for “Feline Dictator”

This is just one day, but honestly there are many days that end like this. The chaos of tired little bodies, and a whole day’s worth of mess and a Mummy who is counting down until bedtime…
And although my growth as a Christian woman has not been linear, it’s certainly evident to me that God is working in my heart, making me quicker to renounce complaining and embrace rejoicing.

Sometimes we look at the Proverbs 31 woman and think about how unattainable and impossible that standard is. But the thing is, she didn’t get there overnight!

I hope that in 20 years’ time, when I face different but equally stressful and exhausting situations, I will be able to look back on days like this as God’s training ground, where he has been working with me to make me a better woman.

 

The Joyless Martyr

What’s the difference between a martyr and a Christ-like servant? What’s the difference between service that God rewards and service that He rejects?

I’ve been thinking this over a lot lately as I find my physical limitations being tested and consistently coming up short against my desires and my duties.

Times when I look at a floor covered with toys, rubbish and goodness knows what else, and I really want to just whizz around and pick it all up, but I know that I will pay for it with a sore back and hips.

Times when I just want to be close to my husband, but we’re always a beach-ball or a backache apart.

Times when I think of that friend I really need to call and ask how she’s going, but if I don’t go nap RIGHT THEN, I probably won’t get to at all. And if I don’t nap, my kids will probably end up watching TV for 3 hours and eating vegemite sandwiches for dinner.

Times when I was up all through the night because a little person needed water, and the baby was jumping on my bladder and the smoke alarm JUST NEEDED TO CHECK IT STILL WORKED (it does), and then the kids wake up early, and they need to be dressed and have breakfast made, and how I feel about it is irrelevant. So even though my body is screaming “you need to sleep!” I get up and get on with it.

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I think there are two struggles with legalism.

There are people who struggle with believing that they are saved by how well they can follow God’s rules, so they set up rules around the Rules like little fences, so they don’t even have to worry about not “making it”.

Other people struggle with legalism by trying to define the rules so narrowly that they weasel their way out of following them most of the time – coming up with reasons they don’t apply or redefining what they mean until there’s nothing left to obey.

I struggle with the former. I want to know what the rules are so that I can stick to them. Check them off my list. Done.

And so when I encounter times like this where I can see, on the one hand, the “right” thing to do and yet, on the other hand, feel completely, physically incapable of doing it, it gets me really down.

I end up either pushing through and doing it anyway, feeling really sorry for myself and slightly angry at all the people I imagine should have “rescued” me. Or I don’t do that thing, and then feel completely wracked with guilt – because what are physical limitations when I serve an all-powerful God, right? Oh, me of little faith!

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I’ve been reading through Philippians lately in my quiet time, and I always find this book so rich in so many ways. But the one passage I am consistently drawn back to each time is Philippians 2:5-11:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Let’s see, what should I do… serve others? Check. Humble myself? Check. Obedience? Check.

 

But what does Paul actually say? Is this really a check list of things the Christian should do?

He actually says, “have this mind among yourselves”. Mind. Mindset. Attitude.

That’s the hard part for me. I can force myself to push through (some) physical limitations, but I can’t (won’t?) force a good attitude.

I remember so many times my husband has tried to call me out on an attitude problem, and my response has been, “Just tell me what you want me to do” or “Just tell me what I should say/how I should say it”.

Outwardly, it sounds like the godly thing to ask. I’m just trying to be obedient, right? I’m trying to do the right thing here! Just tell me what it is!

But this completely misses the point (and drives my husband crazy).

The point is that our attitude is the same as Jesus’s. The point is that we serve whole-heartedly. The point is that we are giving and doing out of the joy that overflows from our hearts.

And I think that answers my original question:

What’s the difference between a martyr and a Christ-like servant?

Real, Christ-loving, Spirit-fed joy.

This is my goal, that I can serve the Lord and others with joy, pouring myself out as I imitate Christ. But that I will not be weighed down by the burden of “can’t”. That I will seek the Lord for wisdom as to when I “should” or “should not”.

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I wanted to finish with a quote from a book I’ve been reading, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem and the Joys of Motherhood, by Rachel Jankovic. Honestly, it’s hard to share just one quote – I’ve been highlighting every second page or so, it is just exactly what I need to hear right now. (Go read it!)

When you find yourself getting stuck in a needing mentality, you will look for ways to give. And you won’t look for ways to give just because you have to, and it is a terrible Christian duty. It is our duty, but when we faithfully obey as unto the Lord, we are given great joy, great satisfaction, and great fulfillment in the task. When you empty yourself for others, God fills you up. But not so that you can suddenly retire with your little packet of joy. God gives to us that we may give. We give, He gives us more, with which to give more.

Amen to that.

Blogging and Life Updates

Hi Friends,

I have more posts in the works that will be published soon, but in the meantime, I just wanted to call your attention to two new features on my blog…

 

Stuff I Write

The first is a new tab on my menu bar at the top of the page – Published Articles.

Some of you already know this, but BK (that’s Before Kids) I studied Journalism at uni. For many good reasons (like marriage, ministry and kids), I’ve not yet worked in this field. But for the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to “get my foot in the door” in small, manageable ways.

Blogging is part of this – continuing the practice of writing is really important for keeping up writing skills.

Doing some freelance work has been another part of it.

And last year I joined the MOPS Australia writing team as a volunteer staff member, which means I get to write promotional articles about MOPS as well as contributing to the blog. So that’s the kind of thing you will find on my Published Articles page, if you’re interested.

 

Stuff I Make

The second new feature is actually a new craft blog – Make it in the Margins. (You can also find a link over in the right hand column.)

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The other aspect of my involvement with MOPS at the moment is that I am the new Craft Coordinator at my local group.

The blog is going to be a fairly low key way of cataloguing all the crafts we do at MOPS, as well as some of the crafty things I do at home. I say “low key” because, with the new baby on it’s way, I don’t want to overcommit myself to a new big thing. My goal is to post each MOPS craft at the very least, because organising these crafts is something I’m going to be doing anyway.

I’m particularly hoping this will be useful to other MOPS craft coordinators, but many of the crafts will be things you could easily do on your own. So if you are craftily-inclined, pop on over and have a look!

 

Getting Real

At this point, some of you may be wondering why someone who writes so much about the value of being a stay at home Mum, being a good helper to my husband, home-making, etc seems to now be taking on many things that are, well, not those things…

Well, the first thing to clarify is that I’m actually not taking on much more. I’ve already been writing and I’ve already been creating things in my spare time. It’s just that I am now publicly cataloguing those efforts.

But here’s the more important thing…

I think I am a rather, shall we say, unambitious person. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’ve written before about how I would be content to live a life of “faithfulness in the small things”. As long as I am serving Jesus, I know what I do is incredibly valuable.

I think I would happily be a stay at home wife for the rest of our lives, faithfully serving the family and (hopefully) getting really good at it! I think that is an incredibly noble thing for women to do.

But my husband has always said that he would like me to go back to (or just “to”?) work once all our kids are in school. And lately, we have contemplated whether that would be sooner (for various reasons).

He has enough ambition for the both of us, and then some left over! He is a passionate dreamer and a visionary, and I think I have been standing next to him for long enough that my branches have dried out and I’m starting to catch his fire.

Being a stay at home mum was always my dream growing up, and here I am, living that dream! And I’d love for my husband to have the chance to live his one day too.

When the time comes for me to go back to work, I would happily scrub toilets or stack shelves or answer phones if that’s what I need to do. I mean, I practically have a degree in scrubbing toilets at this point ;).

But we both think it would be really amazing if I could somehow make a career out of writing. That’s what I’m passionate about and what I really enjoy doing.

And that’s the bigger story behind these new features on the blog. This is me taking a step in faith, starting to lay the foundation for perhaps being paid to write one day. Thanks for listening 🙂