The past few days have been so meaningful to me as a mother. When I look back on my life as a young mom, I realize that I had such hopes and ideals, but no experience in raising children and had to rely totally on faith and wisdom that I gained from following the Lord.
I desired to write some of thoughts quickly before I am off to an Easter performance of my girls at church tonight. I want so to encourage those of you who are in the trenches. Your labor of love as a mother matters so much.
Before I went to Boston, I had been reading the new version that Clay just completed of Educating the Whole Hearted Child. It will be 384 pages, filled with gleanings from our family life over the past 28 years. For me, it was a sort of nostalgic review of my years as a mother. This book has reminded me that our lives were so very intentional, not happenstance, but built on foundations of wisdom that the Lord opened up to us in scripture and through our times of pondering His ways for us as a family.
Yet, it was also built on faith and obedience in following what He was writing on our hearts.
Boston, on top of this, was a pinnacle for me as a mother. That giving up my life, my time, my hours and love was not only a sacrifice of love for Him, but was ultimately so very fulfilling. But seeing Joel thrive amongst his peers, his friends in his house, his church friends and at work, was so affirming to me personally, to know that my labor of love was not in vain.
How could I have known when I was rocking my sweet baby asleep, what potential lay in his soul? How could I have known that greatness and integrity was resting inside his very being, in this tiny baby when he was born?
And yet, I knew that God would have me be a steward of his life--to do my best to train his soul to embrace godly character. I read constantly to him to challenge his mind. I exposed him to great artists and musicians. Stories of heroes and brave scenarios from the Bible filled every morning as we all sat squished together on a couch to read of the lives of people who had invested meaningfully in history, by the giving of their lives to God's kingdom purposes.
"I wonder what work God has created you for?" was a mantra. "God has a work for you to do in this world. He uses normal people who have willing hearts to bring Himself glory. All it takes is a willing heart, faith and hard work."
Some sweet friends were talking to me this week about how I cultivated these visions in Sarah as an author; Joel as a composer, Nathan as an actor and writer in Hollywood, and Joy as a young aspiring idealist. And how they have held fast to their faith.
It was years and years and years of hard work, day in day out, holding fast to my ideals, teaching about my Jesus; correcting, loving, talking, training, educating and then doing it over and over again.
It was seeking to look not at my own inadequacies, but asking God to be present and to work according to His strength and ways and depending on Him to fill in the cracks.
Discouragement, a normal part. Loneliness, a regular companion. Being overwhelmed and not feeling like I could go on, a common occurrence.
Yet, God led me to these ideals and I knew that to give up on my ideals would be to give up on God's calling on my life. And so love for Him, and sheer obedience led to a life of faithfulness. Not perfection, but faithfulness and stepping out in faith again and again.
Greatness of soul is wrought through many years of battling for the souls of our children and holding fast to ideals no matter what and no matter who criticizes.
It is not about the right curriculum, it is about basing life on God and His truth and then seeking it daily in all of the moments and celebrating this life together.
And so, being at that place of reaping is so very deeply satisfying. God was listening. God was at work. We were not perfect, but like Jacob, we held on and said, "I will not let go until you bless me."
Consequently, I can't even begin to describe what it was like last night to hear my son, Joel's, music performed by professionals in a concert hall in Boston. I had never heard his pieces. I saw a professional pianist, one skilled from many years of playing professionally, was shaking as he approached the piano to play Joel's piece. It was quite complex and very difficult to play and had 3 movements. The complexity and variation and harmonies and mood-filled innuendos and rich, colorful passages were honestly beyond my imagination. How could my child, my first son, my gentle, hard-working son have come out with such amazing music? I was literally amazed.
One of the professors who was in the crowd, cried out after one of the pieces, "Who wrote this piece? I think he should stand up!"
Joel quietly and humbly stood a little and waved his hand to the audience and all around cheered, yelled and clapped and sent out "Bravos!" It was an amazing moment to him, who was most surprised.
It was quite a compelling moment for me as a mother and will be etched in my mind.
Later the two profs were talking to Joel and exhorted him to stand up to the gifts and talent he had been given and to understand that people delighted in knowing about the artists who created such compositions, not just in listening to the music.
And all of this began, when a tiny little baby was placed into my arms and God said, "He is a gift from me. Teach him truth, love, righteousness, hard work, skill and teach him of me. It is a great work I have called you to accomplish."
And so living long enough, I have seen the faithfulness of God. May I depend on Him for the next 25 years and imagine in the power of His Holy spirit was He would have me follow Him into.
My heart is filled with praise and gratitude, that by His mercy and miraculous ways, He kept me going, kept me in His hands, kept working even when I could not see the end.
Joel and some of his friends on stage after the concert. Blessings and blessings of His grace to you, Joel. I love you!