Today, I will be sending Sarah off to Oxford where she and Joy will both be studying this year. Joy is in a semester program from Biola University, and had to achieve a high grade point to attend there. It was through lots and lots of hard work that she was able to make it. Sarah will be in a longer program and she had to procure admission as a full time student through a very complicated application process. Both girls learned to work hard as a part of our normal family life and this and God's grace has forwarded their opportunities.
As a young mama, I never dreamed my girls would be able to get into Oxford, let alone have the academic excellence to flourish there. But I see over and over again how God took my fish and loaves and made it enough--He was faithful beyond my expectations to answer prayer and to work beyond my own capability.His strength perfected in my weakness.
But, I have to say, that having sweet, grown adult children who are my best friends, who are standing on my shoulders in life and accomplishment, is a very sweet and worthwhile fruit that tastes so very sweet to my heart and soul.
I never finished all of the educational goals I had with my children, not even one year. We had too many ear infections, moves, break down of washing machines, you know the story! I wasn't as patient as I thought I should be, and I was tempted so many times to give up ideals. But then would have one more quiet time, and pray one more day and God would whisper in my ear, "Keep going, Keep trusting, keep building one day, one brick at a time. This is holy work that will have eternal results." Most of the great or wonderful results we eventually see in the lives of our children, as they embrace God's call on their lives, were built in thousands of mundane moments--pick up your dish, you may not talk to your brother that way--how do you say that more kindly? Go back to bed and mama will tuck you in! Sure, I will stay up and listen to you one more time! Let's read our Bible story today and talk about it."
I was sooo very sincere and devoted and kept going, one day after another as well as I knew how. Many days were weary ones and at all stages along the way, I found challenges. But I felt that the Holy Spirit would fill in the cracks and that if I obeyed His call, He would make my work more than the sum of all of my efforts, because I had trusted Him to raise my children through me.
Yet, what had captivated my imagination to be able to commit myself to this work, was that God has placed precious human beings into my hands with the call to shape their souls with the values of Jesus and His kingdom, to be a steward of their minds and expose them to the best writers, artists, musicians and classical stories, and to train them to love, serve and relate the love of God to those He brought into their lives.
When the imagination of a woman is captured by the thought that God has called her to build a whole, spiritually and emotionally healthy family, a history, a legacy of believers who will have an impact for godliness in the world, she will have a work to pursue, a vision to inspire her soul, that will last for a lifetime. If you say you are a committed Christian, then you have to obey God in His design and call on your life as a mama. It is not a choice, it is a stewardship.
But when you follow God and seek to live out your story in faithfulness to His vision, you can trust Him to complete your work and rest in His ability to give grace. He gave me grace upon grace, little by little-and He is the one who faithfully provides the strength for each day.
A wise woman knows that to build a house for God that will last generations, she must have a detailed plan. Proverbs tells us that the foolish woman does not build, but tears down her home.When a woman does not understand or have a long range idea of what she is supposed to build, there is no opportunity to build foundations that will hold the souls and lives of her children for generations to come--and so there is very little of a long term heritage or home that will be built.
A woman can build a large, long lasting legacy of a home--that is, generations beyond her that will understand the message of loving and serving God, building moral character, learning a work ethic, learning to love well, etc. The grand estate of influence, will obviously take much more work and planning, many more years to accomplish, but will accommodate literally thousands of people for generations. It just depends on the scope of her vision.
This house building will require hours and hours of blood sweat and tears. To be built well, it requires a detailed and artistic plan, and the plan will need to be reworked and adjusted and corrected along the way. Simply put, the building of grand estate of righteousness will require her whole life and diligence and sacrifice for all of her days. And yet, so many just want it to be simple or over because they never knew or understood the scope and requirements.
Consequently, the foolish woman tears down her own home, not intentionally, but often, because she is not building, shaping the hearts and lives of her children--and so culture will naturally step in and shape the hearts, minds and souls of her children because she was absent or passive, but not intentional. Most women do not mean to leave a legacy of broken children with scars of anger, lack of training and purpose. But I meet adults all the time who carry scars and wounds from their childhood into adulthood because their parents never planned to leave a legacy of health and strength. But they never knew how to build and were not willing to do what it took to build, because they were side swiped by the storm of it all. And honestly many children grow into broken adults because their parents were passive and gave their children over to the voices and temptations of culture.
But, let us understand, the foolish women tears down her opportunity to build, and will be held accountable by God, for what she built as he entrusted precious, eternal human beings into her hands, to shape for His kingdom and to learn His love and ways.
The problem with motherhood and the need for women to build godly estates of godly leaders in their homes, through multiple children that a woman will invest her life into, is that most women had no training, preparation or education of what it would take or how much it would cost them. Most just got married with the hope that someone would love them and take care of them and provide security and affirmation, and then babies came, and overwhelmed them. They had never been trained for the job, never seen it modeled when they grew up, never had a vision for how powerful a house (family) for God could be or how much work it would take.
So, life came along and so did the babies, and overwhelmed and sweet women who have never had the opportunity to build a vision with a plan, find themselves up to their eyeballs in details and duties and the caring of babies without the support or input, accountability or help from experienced women who have built godly legacies. The greatest job in the world, that will indeed influence what our nation becomes, as the children of now become the legacy of adults for the next generation--and yet, no time or effort has been invested to educate or prepare these precious and significant leaders, moms, how to do it. And our churches ignore this important, Biblical call, and it just fades into nothingness in the priority the focus of woman's ministries in our generation. Satan would love nothing more than for us to minimize the importance of deeply investing our time and lives into the minds, hearts, souls and training of our children, because he knows they are essential to bringing the kingdom of God to bear in their generation.
For most moms, it is like facing a tornado and storms of life or a battlefield for souls, with no skills, preparation or resources or protection or help--the tornado of the present demands and the battles just takes over.
I have also observed that sweet mamas want an immediate fix for this moment right now, the present emergencies of life, instead of understanding that this is a very long term project and much care must be given to the broad range of building.
Planning must not be based on the emergency and immediate need, in the midst of a crisis, but on the long term building and work and endurance until the project is completed.
Planning is the key to what will be built and planning requires thought and time.
Today, this week, step aside from life and check what you are building.
Simplify your plan,
create the essentials, the rhythms that need to be established to get the work done,
cut out the unnecessary expenditures of time and energy and money that are not necessary to the overall building and
be sure to plan in rest and refreshment every week along the way.
If you understand and embrace the idea that God has created each mom to leave a legacy of righteousness, that each mama has been given her children as a work of her faith and worship, and that the training and discipline of children will shape her life and heart more into the image of Christ, then she will have the supernatural stamina and strength to keep going, as she keeps her vision and plan fresh and as the grid through which she sees life.
Take some time this week to sit alone and breathe. Write down what your long term vision is for your family. What do you want the end results to be? How are you building character? What do you need to do to get training or help? What would help you endure longer? Plan it into your days in a very specific way.
May God bless your planning and vision, for without a plan, nothing great can be built.