The winter months have swiftly passed time, in our household there has been no time for any wintertime blues or boredom. The last several weeks have consisted of teething toddler tantrums, helping 'Hanna' hands, Wayne's work woes turned into Worship, and Mommy trying to make the most of all the moments.
This little boy has us running, laughing, frustrated, hugging, and everything else all at once it seems. He's so full of curiosity and antics. Teething antics that is. Four molars are coming at once and preceding has been much screaming, headbanging, fever and clinging onto mommy. It's testing for all of us in the house but I try to remind myself that God promises to not give us more than we can handle. Despite the fact that I feel like I'm losing brain cells quickly some hours, the next hours may bring hugs, happiness and peace. I'm thankful that almost always each trying day ends with a good, relaxing sleep and the best smiles and hugs any mom would want to wake up to the next morning.
I've had several topics on the go this year in my reading/listening/blogging studies. In church we are studying the chapter of Nehemiah, and it just captures my attention so far more than any chapter ever has. The topic of being a builder for God, a builder who is driven to fix the broken places, has inspired me to think daily about what breaks my heart, what job does God have for me as a builder, in what place can I have a part in building up? It would've seemed to me that to qualify as a builder for God, I should be out on the mission field in another country, volunteer regularly at a homeless shelter, or be more involved in areas where God's work take places. While God has called many people to be builders in these areas I search for what he has called me to do. I found my answer in reading through a chapter of our Study book "What's It Like Being Married to Me?" by Linda Dillow. An excerpt jumped out at me as follows
'Did you know God says a wife is a builder? "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands" Prov.14:1'
My work has started already as a builder. Am I building properly, because it's scary to think that I can easily tear down my home with my own foolish ways. Easily done if I'm a nagging, complaining wife or a bitter,unthankful mother. It takes wisdom, God's wisdom. Nehemiah sought this out by praying, planning, pursuing and praising. (I'm stealing our Pastor's use of alliteration here). In my book I discovered this quote that parallels Nehemiah:
'There are four steps to accomplishment: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed Positively. Pursue Persistently'
I can Plan by making choices about what's really important to me, like making sure my husband never ends up on the back burner and creating a home of gratitude. I can Prepare by praying,; I feel so much more equipped to handle my day if I have started it with Holy conversation. If I give my complaints and brokenness to Him; He is the only one who can bring me relief.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Ps. 46:1.
I can Proceed by being positive. By changing my attitude!If I want to build a house of Gratitude, I must cultivate a thankful spirit. This is where my third source come in. I follow the blog of Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience. She is the author of 'A Thousand Gifts'. She challenges her readers to give Thanks, seek Grace and find Joy each day, in all that is around us. Her words are such a testimony to me, for I so easily fall prey to ingratitude and negative thinking. I've dared to count to a Thousand Gifts in my journals, and though it doesn't always come easily, I find that is seeps into my everyday thinking. These verses drive me to proceed:
"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors ME, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." (Ps. 50:23)
"Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble;i will deliver you and you will honor me." (Ps.50:14-15)
"It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, o Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night." (Ps. 92:1-2)
I want Thankfulness to become our language in our home.
The fourth step I can take is to Pursue with persistence. Persistence is the hard part, on my own I'm much more prone to give in. In my notes on Nehemiah I wrote that 'a builder relies on God's hand, with reference to Ps.127:1 which reads: 'Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.' Last night Wayne and I talked about going through difficulties and this quote popped into my head 'If God calls me to it, He Will bring me through it.' Our strength to carry on in building will come from Him, sometimes it may take making tough decisions, taking a break to regain strength, facing outside opposition to bring out the best in us or being called to be part of a team of builders as Nehemiah was. Building my home certainly isn't a one man show, I have very key teammate in my husband. My team mate, my leader. We are in this building project together but this is where it can quickly veer off course as found in our marriage study book. The HOME is my building project, not my HUSBAND. God didn't put us together to have us focus on changing each other but work together through acceptance, communication, understanding and appreciation of one another that God may bring about the change in us. As the wife team member, I have a divine calling to be a 'suitable helper' (Gen.2:18) to my man. A responsibility to respect and reverence the man who has been called to love me sacrificially. We have very important roles to play in the Marriage building project. Christ's perspective on being in a team is "I came not to be served but to serve" (Matt 20:28, paraphrased). We receive instruction on building attitude in 1 Thess.5:11: ''Encourage one another and build up one another". We have had to put this teamwork attitude into action a lot over the past several months through relationship difficulties, continuous truck repairs, and parenting struggles. I have seen the rewards already as God as called us right back to the beginning to start laying a more solid foundation in him. As I write this my mind goes back to the song that Hanna often sings of the 'wise man building his house upon the Rock' and I'm reassured that despite the opposition we will stand firm in the end. This building project will never be completely finished as we are continuously building up here on earth only to someday take part in the greatest building project ever with the Ultimate teammate, our Highest Helper, Jesus.
These thoughts have been brewing for a long time as God as shown me the connection between Sunday morning services on the builder Nehemiah, my job description as a builder through our Ladies Study and giving Thanks and receiving Joy through the motivation of Ann. As I pull knowledge from the sources of books and Bible around me I just can't help but feel excitement and renewed purpose for what I'm called to do each day. To take my hammer and nail, and fasten my life upon Christ.