August 29, 2014

Is Being “Just a Mommy” Enough?

I struggle with this.

I struggle letting myself be “just a mommy.”

It’s a pride thing. It’s a desire to be able to tell people that, “Oh, no, I don’t just ‘stay home’ all day.”

But discouragement has a way of creeping in at all the wrong times:

“Oh, so you don’t work then?”

“Are you going to look for work?”

“What do you do with your time?”

“You could be benefitting twenty kids instead of staying at home with only one.”

First of all: What?!!!

Is this an assumed thing now? That mommy has a baby, stays home for 6-12 weeks, finds someone else to take care of the baby, and then goes back to work so they can contribute to society? Is that all I am? An un-used degree?!

(And I promise, I am not trying to start a mommy war between stay-at-homes and careers.  This is not the thought that “if you are a working mommy, you must not love your children.”)

Second of all: What?!!!

I never wonder what other stay-at-home-moms do with “all of their time.” But for some reason, I can’t seem to shake the thought that I'm just a stay-at-home-mom.

Like I said, it’s a pride thing.

I tend to answer with a quick, “Well, I stay home, but I also volunteer part-time with the school we worked at in Guatemala.” Or, “that volunteer work goes through September, and then I will have to find something else to do with ‘all my time.’” Basically, “I’m not just a mommy. I do more than clean the house, cook meals, and watch my kid all day."

But will I? Do I have to find something to do that the world classifies as “work”?

Since when was my worth, my value, my contribution to the world connected to working outside of my home? Why do I think that in order to be important, I have to be busy?

It’s true, I do have downtime during my day, especially now that Jocelyn is getting a little older and a little more independent. But that's just like every other job. (Except I’m not getting paid.)

And it’s true, I strongly believe a mother’s beacon of Christ’s light should shine outside of her own walls and beyond her own children to the neighbors.

But.

I must never take this task for granted.

I must never be ungrateful for this little human being that God has entrusted me with.

I must never compare this gift of motherhood to locked shackles that keep me from the traveling, teaching, and playing that sometimes I wish I could be doing instead.

Because my big baby needs me, her big mother.


She needs me to be there, consistently, to love and nurture her.

She needs me to do those completely monotonous and repetitive things that help her learn and grow.

She needs me, now more than ever in this chaotic, absolutely broken and messed-up world, to be teaching her right from wrong, truth from lie, Christ from Deceiver.


And that means, as I have been seeing and hearing from many wise women lately (***cough, cough, Amber***), choosing not what seems good and sounds great on a resume, but is best for her, for me, for our family, and hopefully is spread in ways to our neighbors around us too.


Because my worth, my contribution to the world is not wrapped up in having a “real” job, just as it's not wrapped up in being “just a mom” either.

It’s using my life in whatever tasks, glorious and inglorious as they may be, to bring glory to Christ.

So I’m learning, slowly.

Learning to choose not what seems “good,” but what is actually “best.” (Check out this really great devotional on the topic!)

Learning to appreciate this precious gift that is now walking (!!!) right in front of me.


Learning at times, to say “no" to opportunities, even when it stings a little.

Learning to soak up this toddler time that is already passing by way too quickly.


Learning to be okay with a little downtime to maybe read, write, create, or heaven forbid, to pray!

Because that’s where God has me right now.

I’ll end with something I shared before, but something I believe to be worth sharing again: Words from a wise friend talking about motherhood in light of eternity. It’s so important!

“I need to pour everything I got into raising them to follow the Lord. I need to be diligent to drive rebellion from their hearts, because rebellion towards me as a toddler could grow to become rebellion towards God as a teenager. God has entrusted these kids to me and expects me to raise them with more passion than anything else in my life right now because it is only a small window that children are so moldable.

Of course the decision comes down to their own hearts, but I believe I'll need to prepare them for the not ‘lukewarm Believer’ days. In a day where the culture is so loud and enticing, I need to start them from these toddler years to love God and never turn from His truth, even when others may call them hateful or intolerant for doing so.

Because nothing else matters. Our lives are just a small dot on a line that stretches out into eternity. Life is not about this life we see. That's so hard for people, myself included to remember. This small dot will come and go, even if it is full of trial and persecution or whatever else. It is a passing thing and then we will live forever with Jesus. This world has nothing to offer me.”

Yes, this task of being "just a mommy" is enough.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

August 19, 2014

You’re Not Here By Chance

Nothing is a coincidence.

It’s not a coincidence that while unpacking some of the first boxes in our new apartment, I found this: A painting I bought in Uganda about 4 years ago.


“Just Think:
You’re not here by chance
But by God choosing.
His hand formed you and made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else –
You are one of a kind.
You lack nothing that His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you to be here
At this time in history
to fulfill His purpose for this generation.”
- quote by Roy Lessin
-painting by Edrine Angelo

I know it’s not a coincidence, because now more than ever I needed to hear those words:

“You’re not here by chance.”

Now, when we are starting over. New city, new home, new job, new people. Now, when we are figuring everything out – where to buy groceries, how to choose insurance, where to get the oil changed, which bank to use, where to go to the doctor. Now, when we also miss the city, the job, the home, the people, and the simplicity we left behind in Guatemala.

Nothing is a coincidence. You’re not here by chance.

Because when people ask us, “how is the transition going?,” I know they mean well, and they care. But I often hold my tongue and give the quick and polite and socially expected “it’s good” answer. I’m afraid I might make people feel uncomfortable if I said,

“Well, one time I literally curled up on the bedroom floor and sobbed into the carpet strands.”

or,

“It’s going fine. We are taking one stage of grief at a time.”

or,

“I am tired. Exhausted. Burned out of all emotion. I can’t feel my heart anymore.”

or my personal favorite,

“Sometimes I think about burning down Costco.”

(A metaphor? Or a lesson in not using sticky plastic hooks to hang pictures and decorations.)

But Lord Jesus, open my eyes.

Help me see that none of this is a coincidence. Help me remember that our amazing, powerful, awesome God is not a God of coincidences. That while it’s okay to feel: to be angry, to be sad, to be hurt, I need to remember that God’s hand is in every area of our lives, guiding us to where He wants us to go, shaping us into the people He wants us to be.

So today, and hopefully every day, I strive to see life in that light. I choose to cherish our past, but I also choose to allow myself to embrace our present. I choose to be present, to accept our new circumstances, our new home, with joy. And hope.

Nothing is a coincidence. We’re not here by chance.

It’s not a coincidence that my cousin emailed to see if we wanted a ton of kitchen stuff before she donated it all. And that those boxes crossed everything off my kitchen wish list besides silverware. And it’s not a coincidence that my grandma called a few weeks later asking if we happened to need any silverware because she had an extra set at home.


It’s not a coincidence that with the generous time and support of different family and friends, we are settled into our lovely new apartment (which I am in love with), with a couch to sit on, a table to eat at, a vehicle to drive, and even some satellite TV. (Welcome back to the first world, Broekhuis family?)


It’s not a coincidence that our neighbor left us a Jimmy John’s gift certificate on our door to welcome us to the neighborhood. And just to be awesome.


It’s not a coincidence that our first night here, there was loud music blaring and fireworks crackling late outside our window. A wonderful reminder of our Guatemala neighborhood.


It’s not a coincidence that we were able to spend a lot of time this summer with lots of people we love, and after we moved, already enjoy a barbecue with old friends who became new neighbors.


I could go on and on.

But it’s not a coincidence. God is providing for us, paving the way for us, taking care of us in so many little and big ways.

We are not here by chance. 

And you are not here by chance. 

Work, relationships, circumstances, joys, trials, stages of life – none of it is a coincidence. None of it is by chance. Where you have been, and where you are, and where God is bringing you to is not a coincidence.

So I pray for my eyes and ears to be open to see God in my daily life, to hear His shouts of “I LOVE YOU!” in the details I often overlook.

So again, just think:

You’re not here by chance
But by God choosing.
His hand formed you and made you the person you are.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

He compares you to no one else –
You are one of a kind.

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.

You lack nothing that His grace can’t give you.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

He has allowed you to be here
At this time in history
to fulfill His purpose for this generation.”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.



God’s handy work and His timing are never a coincidence. You’re not here by chance.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra