Sunday, May 12, 2013

Motherhood Thus Far

So today marks my very first Mother's Day since giving birth just three months ago. It has been a whirlwind of a journey to say the least. Just a week ago, I celebrated my 24th birthday, which began with a 6:00 a.m. wake up call from the little one. I quickly learned that birthdays as a mother are significantly different from prior birthdays. Birthdays, and all other days, are now characterized by constant selflessness and care for another. Though there are many things that I have gleaned from these past few months, five things stand out that I would like to mention on this Mother's Day.

I am currently sitting by an open window, enjoying the quiet of an apartment occupied only by myself and a sleeping baby. Chance is at work, while I stay home and care for our sweet Hudson. But soon, the quiet will be broken by a waking child who needs his mother. While I might want to continue writing or reading or simply enjoying a quiet afternoon, I will have to put those desires aside, because I am needed by another. The very first and most obvious thing that I have begun to learn, in motherhood, is selflessness. It--caring for the needs of another over your own needs--is a beautiful picture of how Jesus cares for His own. He put aside his glory, and humbled himself to the point of death, for people who rejected and despised him. He became sin for people who did not thank him for doing so, but who were his enemies. As I embrace the opportunities to care for Hudson on a daily basis, I am identifying with my Savior who put the needs of others above his own. 

Secondly, I have learned that motherhood is not always glamorous. But despite the lack of glitz, I am learning to have joy apart from my circumstances. I recognize the incredible blessing that having a child is; Hudson is a wonderful baby, and I do not cease to give God thanks for him each day. But life is not always exciting when you have an infant. In fact, some days seem rather boring and uneventful. However, because I know Christ as my Lord, my purpose and identity are not derived from my circumstances! Therefore, I can be joyful and happy, even in the midst of boring, mundane, and seemingly uneventful days.

Third, I have learned to give thanks in all circumstances. God has seen fit to bless Chance and I with a tremendous gift (and responsibility) in giving us Hudson. He has given us this child for a time, and the honor of being his parents. It is only natural that we should, in return, thank the Giver of all good gifts, who is God above. After all, "no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11) Even when I haven't slept much the night before, or cannot figure out why my son is crying, I am called to give thanks to God. For God is good and his steadfast love endures forever, therefore I give him thanks (Ps. 118:1).

Fourth, through sleep-deprived nights and exhausting days, I have learned dependency on the Lord. God is the source of all strength, and so when I am feeling spent, I must ask God to give me the strength that he alone can supply. In the first 4 weeks of Hudson's life (outside the womb), there were nights when I would walk the halls for hours in order to get Hudson to go to sleep. Thankfully, those days are over, but being a mom can be very tiring on a day-to-day basis. When my spirit is discouraged and I feel as though I am at the end of my rope, God has been faithful to prove himself dependable. He is always there in my time of need. 

Lastly, in the past three and a half months, one of the most significant lessons I have learned has been the power and necessity of prayer. Prayer has been one area of the Christian life that I have been studying recently, and through my study I am convinced that prayer is both necessary for us as Christians and powerful in getting through to God. Jesus commands us to prayer, and God promises that he hears us. Prayer is essential in the life of the Christian, because prayer is communion with God. I have cried out to God many times since becoming a mother--for wisdom, for help, for sleep, etc. I have also been more devoted and desirous of prayer since Hudson was born. I know that God desires to commune with me, and the place in which I feel his presence most  is in the time I devote to prayer. God has been faithfully answering my petitions and encouraging me in my prayer life. I am so thankful for the perseverance that he is giving him to continue on in that pursuit. 

I am sure that through the journey of motherhood, I will keep learning for the rest of my life. I am grateful for all God has taught me thus far and look forward to the lessons I still have to learn. 

**written earlier this afternoon**

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Strength Training for the Christian

As the wife of a seminary student, I am often listening to mini-lectures on the canonization of Scripture, inerrancy, and textual criticism (etc., etc.) In the past I have listened with passivity because I am not well-acquainted with these subjects; after all, I am just a seminary wife. But recently, I have become convicted (most likely through the prayers and encouragement of my dear seminarian-husband) that learning, specifically through reading, is vital to the Christian. Let me give you a parallel to help put this into perspective. 

I write often on this blog about exercise, specifically running. I love it! I devote valuable time to it because I both enjoy it and consider it beneficial. But one aspect of running that I don't so much enjoy is strength training. Strength training, for me, isn't fun. But it yields a great benefit! Fact: it makes you stronger (hence the name). I run faster and can go father when I have devoted time to going to the gym and lifting weights to build the muscles I use when I run. Strength training is also part of injury-prevention. When a runner or athlete has strong muscles, they are less likely to be hurt in their sport. Well, reading is like that for the Christian. For those of us who aren't avid readers, picking up an extra book and spending time actually reading it, can be a difficult task. I just finished a book called "Taking Hold of God" edited by Joel Beeke and Brian G. Najapfour, on Puritan and Reformed perspectives on prayer. I admit that when Chance told me about the book he had just checked out for me from the library, I was a little less than excited. It was not exactly the book I had had in mind to read on the subject of prayer. Boy was I wrong! It was a fantastic read that has challenged and encouraged me in the discipline, study, and practice of prayer. Had I not undertaken to trust my husband's judgment and read this book, I would not now be benefiting from what I have learned. 

To be sure, learning is a process that continues through our entire lifetime. God chose, in his wisdom, to inspire a book to be read so that the man (or woman) of God would be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17). We would do well to press on in our learning through the discipline of reading and reap the rewards that await us. So just as athletes need strong muscles to perform to the best of their abilities, so we as Christians need strong spiritual muscles that are built as we exercise our minds through reading. 

Reading is also the Christian's defense against injury, because with knowledge there is power. Reading and learning from what we read, prevents us from incurring any injuries to our patterns of thinking. Paul told Timothy, "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather, train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." I conclude from this passage that training one's mind to protect against error (or "injury") is even more important than training one's body. Certainly, our experiences shape the way we think about issues in life; from them we gain wisdom and the benefit of having been through certain circumstances ourselves. But how much more equipped could we be as Christians to face the world, if we took the time and energy to actually know the ins and outs of our faith. 

To conclude, I believe one of the greatest hindrances to devoting time to reading is busyness. "I'm too busy" is a phrase that I both use and hear too often. While I understand that every individual has a different schedule to keep to, we are all responsible utilize our time wisely. Perhaps we could all re-evaluate our levels of busyness to see if there really isn't time to devote to reading, for the glory of God. I am sure that we could all find time to read that book that we've meant to finish for months, if we checked Facebook less often, and took fewer Instragram photos. If you truly are desiring to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, take the time to read a book; I promise, you won't regret it.