Wednesday, May 31, 2006

About that article

Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts about the article in this post. I promised you my thoughts, so here they are.

I have only recently begun to accept that my main ministry is to my family. I have always known that I wanted to stay home with any children that we were blessed to have, but seeing that as my ministry wasn't a natural thought process for me. I have learned so much in the last few months from Ann at Holy Experience and Laura at Here and Now. Ann wrote recently (May 17) that "Waves lap…wind brushes by…trees rustle and dance and wave. All of Earth sings Your praises. In rhythmic, daily constancy. Without end. Quotidian praises to You. Quotidian: occurring or returning daily. Over and over and over again. Like the work I do: cooking meals, baking bread, hanging laundry, changing diapers, sweeping dirt. Quotidian work. Like the endless waves lapping on the shore, quietly lilting its song of adoration, so we dance our quotidian dance of praise: dishes and dusting, laundry and… liturgy."

I have struggled with these new roles I find myself in. Deciding that cleaning and laundry and changing diapers is my ministry has not been easy. I love my husband and I love my son, but this list of things I do not love. Sacrifice. Worship. Quotidian work. Again, Ann encourages me with her words: "I frame this cleaning as my monastic beauty, my daily wrestle, to create, in imperfect ways, a world for these loved ones... like You created so perfectly for humanity when the world began...."

It's not easy, this ministry of mine. But I have learned to find the utter joy in it. I struggle daily with my attitude, but am learning to think of everything I do around this house for my family as worshiping my Father. He has graced me and blessed me with this family; my thanks to Him comes in the form of laundry and dishes and dusting and diapers. It blesses my family and it blesses me.
Recently I was made to feel guilty for not volunteering to participate in our church's VBS coming up in a couple of weeks. I've been begged on more than one occasion to teach that week. I never had a good feeling about it, and I put off giving an answer. I had been mulling over some things in my head and didn't want to give an answer until I was sure my guilty feelings were not just from a desire to be anywhere else that week but at the church building. Finally, I was prepared. Again, I was begged to please come and help. I know they need help, and I desperately wanted to answer that plea with a resounding, "Yes, I'll come save you and teach those precious children at VBS!" But, I just couldn't. Why? Because my son would suffer. VBS is from 9-12 for 5 days in a row. That is naptime and lunchtime for my little sweetie. One day wouldn't hurt him, but 5 days in a row of a messed-up schedule would be torture. My main ministry is to my family; everything else comes second to them.

What I first read the journal, I wasn't sure what to think. I don't agree with all the points, but am thankful to have read it and considered my ministry opportunities here at home.

I do participate in ministries at church, go to Bible study weekly away from home, and occasionally need to get out of the house or spend some time alone. I don't think these things are bad or sinful. In fact, it's a good time for some "daddy time" with Caleb without me trying to tell him how to do everything the "right" way. The vast majority of my time, though, is spent with and for my family. My attitude about everything is really what matters. If I fulfill my ministry at home begrudingly and desire more and more opportunities to be away from home, I am not heeding God's call on my life. My attitude toward serving my husband and my son are of utmost importance. God is glorified when I serve my family humbly with love. I'm still learning how to do this. Every day.

Updated to add: This turned out much longer than I expected! Thanks for reading it if you made it all the way through!


Heather Smith said...

Great thoughts! You shouldn't do anything unless God leads you to it! Had He wanted you to teach Bible School, He would have let you know! And believe me, a mom's ministry is one that can't be topped! My mom's life did the most to shape everything I've become.

Dave & Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jenn. As always, I am encouraged and blessed to hear what the Lord is doing in and through you. Thanks for sharing humbly (as usual!). And by the way, you can write a long post anytime you want -- of course it will be read all the way through! :-)

I really appreciated Ann's thoughts, and I am glad to think of doing dishes and laundry and all that other "wifey" stuff as praise and worship to God, the same way the waves lap the shore every day. I had never thought of it quite like that! Nature sings the same songs over and over, and that is praise to Him, just like our daily chores around the house that we repeat over and over... and over.

Jennifer said...

Hi AggieJenn from another Aggie Jen! I had to click your link on WFMW and check you out.

I'm glad I did. This article is interesting. I loved your closing thoughts on it. I feel that's where I am--wanting to be involved in Bible studies and church ministry and doing so, and even feeling that God is calling me to a writing ministry (the blog will have to do for now), but I do try to make all decisions under submission to my husband and with my children's best interest in mind. The main ministry I serve in has many women who say no because of "their children," but I also know that Jesus taught several times about forsaking all for Him. No, we can't forsake diaper changing and raising our children, because that is our role, but maybe we get up earlier in the morning to be sure we can have our time with Him, prepare for ministry or whatever.

I think that so many of the "Titus women" of our day do forsake the duties listed in scripture, so I know of at least one of the "celebrities" that she mentioned who does teach young women to submit to and love their husbands and children. . . . Maybe our forum is larger because of our media age, but women are still teaching and instructing women as we "should."

jettybetty said...

I am catching up--I missed your post on the 22nd--so I just went back and read the articles you linked.

I totally agree that changing diapers, washing dishes, even scrubbing toilets can be worship to God. I was a stay at home mom for 16 years--and I loved it.

I suppose my experiences were different from the lady that wrote
that article--because I always felt supported in my decision--I believed my family was my #1 ministry--and didn't feel led to any other ministry.

The quote I have written in the front of my Bible from Beth Moore years ago is "Now success in ministry will make up for failure at home." I totally agree with that.

I would encourage any mom that has children at home that possibly can to stay at home with them--it's not always easy--but I don't think you will ever regret doing it.

BTW--I really enjoy Laura and Ann, too!

Laura said...

I really appreciated your link to that journal in your original post and I appreciate you too! I've really enjoyed both your blogs and get great encouragement from both as well! And most of my thoughts aren't that original - I steal a lot from Ann, JettyBetter and a few more - great, wise women of God!!

aggiejenn said...

UPDATE: I talked to JettyBetty and that quote is supposed to read "NO success in ministry will make up for failure at home." Now that's something I can get behind!!

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