This day, I didn't feel like I could face the demands of my toddling crew one more minute. Hearing them screaming, running, "I'll get to mama first," was sweet enough but at this moment, I didn't think I had one more ounce of strength to meet them as they pounced on me. And so I stayed sitting on the floor behind my couch in my bedroom where they were not tall enough to peer over to see my head. I had been sitting, pondering life with a big cloud hovering at the moment they ran into my room. Oddly, amazingly, they did not find me or even look beyond the couch that hid me. At first it was a fun achievement to me, then it became a refuge for me, away from the demands for just a few quiet minutes.
"God," I asked, "I am stuck in this impossible situation, living with my mother-in-law, in the middle of flatland Texas, amidst critters and bugs, no salary, no friends, no support systems and this is not what I dreamed our life would become. Please show me that you are still there, that somehow I am not invisible."
It was in this very place that Whole Heart Ministries was born. Our future would allow us to write 20+ books, host conferences for tens of thousands of women, work internationally, raise 4 godly kids, but at this particular moment, I could not see into the future. I could not see anything of significance happening at all.
God seemed to whisper to my heart, ... "This is the place I want you to worship Me. Being faithful in these circumstances is where you will find the glory of My favor. This is exactly where I want you. This time of testing will be the making of your faith, the humbling of your heart, the shaping of your character, the writing of your story.
You can choose to waste this time with a bad attitude, to leave this situation, or to waste your days in ungratefulness and complaints. And then your life will continue moving through darkness and dim hallways.
You have a choice to make: if you trust Me and live faithfully in this juncture, I will make this a place of favor and honor for you. But if you look for a way out and disqualify yourself from the blessings and favor I had planned to give you, you will find yourself in the midst of a prolonged wilderness."
And one day at a time, God helped me to take one step forward, to put my issues into His hands, to live forward by faith into what He was doing, what I was becoming. And now, as I look back, I am beyond amazed at what He has accomplished on our behalf through His generous faithfulness. How important it was, I can see now, that I learned to own my life right where I was, to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
This month we'll celebrate Mother's Day, just in case you've missed the giant signs in the grocery store, commercials on the radio and television, and posters at the mall! I hope you all are gifted with a massage, or a maid, or dozens of roses. But since that's probably not practical, perhaps we should wish for sticky fingers and lots of laundry to wash, which is more likely! With my own children scattered off to their own lives of study and service, I'm a bit sentimental for the good old days of washing lots of sticky fingers.
My publisher, Tyndale, is offering a special on the ebook version of the book from which the quote above was taken: Own Your Life. From May 1-14, it's available for only $2.99 <--click to order! This particular book means so much to me, as I believe it's imperative for all of us to make a choice; not to be miserable in our own difficult situations (we all have them!) or fearful as we look at the world, full of so much we cannot control. Instead, we must look to God in hope, and determine to make the most of the puzzle and time He has given to us. This book is not just for mothers, but for all who want to be helped, inspired, challenged to own their lives and to move forward to a life filled with the beauty, love, grace and blessing of God's favor.
But in light of motherhood, we recognize that there are so many parts of a mama's day which can come to feel very mundane and tiresome. Laundry, making meals, general cleaning up--no one gets too excited to tackle these jobs day after day! But if these activities make up so much of our lives, perhaps they're in need of reframing. Maybe you'd enjoy laundry more if you hung it out on the line (at least some of it, or just on the perfectly sunny sort of days!) Turning on fun music and singing along has made many a meal cleanup a fun family time in the Clarkson home, rather than something to be dreaded. Just adding rhythms to our days so everyone knew what to expect when was reassuring to many of my children. This day is the very shaping of history and laying the foundation for greatness in the souls dwelling in my home. But seeing it for what potential it really has right now, is so important.
Of course, there is so much more to life. Having laundry to fold means my family has clothes, and dirty dishes mean we've shared another meal together! I can be reminded to be thankful as I set myself to these tasks, too. Having a long range vision, remembering the goal of our lives--to honor God and love Him, to share Him with others and accomplish the purposes He has set us here to accomplish--this helps me not feel too stuck in a rut, but rather appreciate that it's the little things done well that make up a life.