Freedom to enjoy life, and monkey around a little bit.

Jessie Wilcox Smith  one of my favorite artists of children! Go make yourself a treat and monkey around a bit!Galatians 5:1 "It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery." (especially stand firm in your ideals before God without letting someone else's yoke slip around your neck unnecessarily.)

Today, I am going away for two whole days. A long time friend of mine, (a young man we have known since he was 15), works at a 5 Star Hotel and has arranged a beautiful, cozy, delightful place for me to escape for 2 days, so I can just spend time praying, reading, sleeping, eating and dreaming--pondering and planning for the season of life that is ahead. I feel like a little girl in a toy shop--I am so excited and anticipating this very rare time!

But I wanted to leave a few thoughts about starting the year out with freedom and joy--the freedom that comes from deciding to like who God has made me, understanding that it is enough and accepting my limitations. Dancing with my Father was about cultivating joy--choosing celebration and light and learning to dance to the rhythms He has already set in motion if I only hear His voice and see the beauty He has planted in my pathway. So I leave you a little bit of grace from my past posts and hope you will live in this freedom today and every day this year.

"And the work of righteousness will be peace and the service of righteousness quietness and confidence forever." Isaiah 32: 17

I have seen some books and articles going around that suggest that moms don't really need a break from their children if they are mature and have really accepted the mantle as a godly mother--and that it is possible to be around them all the time without going crazy.
"A real committed mom never needs to get away from her children." or other such statements that create law and subjective standards for moms.
One such silly rule  I read when I was young that about did me in, was that "Mature Christian women always kept the insides of their drawers straight and orderly." Really? That is when I threw this book to the Good Will pile, and I should probably thrown it away. Just never found that verse in scripture--thank the Lord.
Now, I love my children and I am very committed to family, and I hope I don't step on anyone's toes, but it is statements like this that put lots of burden and law on women and make them feel guilty unnecessarily. This is a very long term calling and I think all women need the encouragement of other women at times without having to feel guilty for leaving their children, or for having failed or for making different choices. And God crafted different personalities so that women could express different attributes of God and His strengths.

I have come to really question truths like the ones above because they come across as universal and sound wise, but in the end, I have to say, "Is this law? Is it an unshakeable truth that applies to all moms at all times?" Or is it possible that there is grace for each mom to conduct her own symphony, so to speak, with her family, circumstances and children in mind. "It is for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore, keep standing firm that you may not be subject to a yoke of slavery."

I wrote a chapter in Seasons of a Mother's Heart about legalism imposed upon us by others that produces burdens God never intended us to carry. I find it interesting that God purposely left many areas in scripture very vague. No lists about just how to discipline a child, how long to spank, at what age, and for how long, for instance. Or no rule book about what a mom should cook if she was really bringing health to her family or what exact music was acceptable and what music would indeed lead a child astray. Or what it really looks like to submit to a husband-(they are all different and have different preferences!)
Not ever a verse that says, "Every mother should stay with her children all the time every hour or else they are not spiritual and their children will go astray." Or, or, or. There is so much in scripture about living by faith, trusting God and Paul and Jesus were so very clear about not having the heart of a Pharisee and putting heavy loads on people.

Now, I find that we are to use wisdom principles and have quiet times and grow in maturity and of course, I  came to the conclusion that if I wanted to pass on my life and beliefs and vision to my children, I needed to be the one who invested time in them and won their hearts, out of the integrity of my heart.

But, seeing my children do well in life and love the Lord and us and continue growing is not as a result of a list of rules that I followed, but as a result of following the Lord, praying, obeying Him and seeking His wisdom and then living by faith and watching His grace. God is in charge and will work in and through the personality and circumstances of my life uniquely, If I walk it with Him.

There are so many wonderful teachers and speakers who have such a good heart and love the Lord and want to encourage. But the bottom line is the word of God is to be our ideal and not just "wisdom" from others that is extra-Biblical and not scripture--and I find God to be a better task master than most humans I have ever known.

I find that so many young moms lacked good families and they want to "do it right" with their own children, and so they are willing to believe anything in print or that they heard a speaker say and then put themselves under great burdens, in the name of Christian ideals. And so these pathways lead to disappointment with self and with your own children because they will never ever measure up to someone else's standard or measure.   Then, these sweet moms,  eventually find themselves wanting to give up ideals because they are very depressed or overwhelmed and unable to serve this impossible master. There is no grace and peace in legalism and a rules based life.I find that the longer I walk with the Lord, the more freedom I feel to be who I am. I don't have to live by anyone else's laws. Clay and I just have to answer to God and scripture,  not to an arbitrary list of someone else's standards. I think that living overseas and traveling a lot has helped in this area a little. Every culture I see and each national that I meet has a different tradition of worshiping God and a different set of circumstances to deal with coming from a different culture in applying the word of God. When I meet people from all over the world, I realize that God is so much bigger and beyond my own box. And yet, he allows all of us, from so many different points of view, to enter into His rest and redemption and forgiveness because of His wonderful, gracious love.

My real desire in writing this article, though, is to give moms permission to be themselves. There is no "one right way". Each of you has a different puzzle to solve--different children's personalities, husbands and even a different personality yourself. Some of you are introverts and some extroverts. Some trained and educated in high spiritual values and some coming at it for the first time.

But the bottom line is, that as a wise woman, you need to figure out how you can best make it in the long run--loving God and loving your family, and finding ways to do this so that your own spirit is filled with life and joy.

You are just exactly the right person, the one who God picked to shepherd these children in ways that no one else could. So live in that freedom today and enjoy your own unique family culture. This is the day the Lord has made--rejoice in the moments and be glad.