Little Ones – Valuable Ministry

“One thing missing when I began staying home with my children was the affirmation that the work I was doing was  good, or even valuable.”

My friend Cathy Fowler said this yesterday and I remember clearly (even though it was almost 40 years ago) that I felt the same way.

Our first child was born on the last day of school, the third year of my teaching career. Unless you have taught young children, you may not know the special way kindergarteners have of making you feel that you are special, loved, and just generally amazing!

  • “Mrs. Woody, you are SO pretty!” (this when I had gained 50, yes, 50 lbs. in pregnancy)
  • “Mrs. Woody, I want to be just like you when I grow up.”
  • “Mrs. Woody, you are so good at drawing!” (I had drawn a generic looking flower labeling the parts of a plant)
  • “Mrs. Woody, I like your shoes!” ( red Earth shoes, this was 1977)

I could go on and on….

Cathy and I agreed that being new mothers, alone most of the day with an infant who did NOT give us much affirmation, was a real adjustment.

Both of us were thrilled to be mothers.

At the same time, we did miss the social interaction and professional feedback.

A new baby does not appreciate our shoes, how good we are with numbers, how organized or creative we are, or anything else about us at first. (except for those two essential body parts, oh, and arms for holding)

Yet that time with small children is of utmost importance.

We often hear young women who stay at home with their children say things like, “I’m just a mom.” “I just stay home with my kids .”

Using the word “just” seems to minimize the value of the most important responsibility you will ever have. As women of God we desire to serve Him first and foremost. Sometimes we think that ministry is a ministry to “others”, like children in an orphanage in South America.

Are children in a foreign country more valuable in God’s eyes that those children right here where we are?

No, once He blesses us with children, God has entrusted us with those He loves with an everlasting love and He wants us to be faithful in our service as mothers.
If we ever doubt the absolute importance of our ministry as mothers we must read Matthew 19:14.

Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

If our Lord thought that children were so important, shouldn’t we?

In Matthew 18:2-4 we read

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

I love this next part – it blessed me so much when my children were little – verse 5 ”

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

Amazing!  Every time I welcome my child into my arms, snotty nose and all, I am welcoming Jesus!

Being a mother to your children is the GREATEST job you can have at this time in your life. It is more important than working on Capitol Hill, as an RN, teaching special needs children, or any other career.

May you embrace God’s calling for you at this time in your life and may He give you strength, wisdom, patience, and most of all – His Love.

God Bless You!

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My Father’s Daughter

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“I’ve walked with God my whole life, I’m ready to go be with Him.”

These were the words my father spoke when the oncologist asked Dad if he knew what he was facing.

Three days later, my father passed on into the presence of the Lord. It seemed to go so fast for us, his loved ones. Dad died on February 10th and at Christmas, just two months before, he had been his vigorous self. He was turning wooden bowls, playing ping-pong, checking his plants in the hallway sunroom.

He was 91.

Dad walked with God.

I miss him most when I walk around our yard now. His handiwork is everywhere. The calla lilies Dad planted are blooming in their pure white glory. The butterfly weeds he started from seeds have spread and are full of orange tipped butterflies, just like the blooms.

“Gayle, you have to come see this.”

“Dad, you’ve got to come see THIS!”

“We must go get your Mother.”

These were the conversations we would have beginning in spring and continuing until a hard frost. We would walk around the yard, weed, deadhead, and glory in the beauty and handiwork of God’s creation.

Dad and Mom would count the number of different kinds of flowers in bloom at one time. He so enjoyed the variety and unique qualities of the various species.

I miss Dad.

Yet, I am left with wonderful memories and so many beautiful plants.

My father also left me with His greatest influence on my life – his love for his Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Dad quietly, yet openly, lived as a Christian.

He loved God.

He loved his family.

He loved others.

He loved God’s creation and was a steward of all living things.

As I tend the flowers, I am reminded of the lessons Dad taught me about life –  botanic life, and more importantly, life everlasting.

I am my father’s daughter and I am so blessed that Dad led me to follow Jesus, just as he did.

May we leave this same legacy for our children and grandchildren.

Final Exams, Testing

BEST way to learn....

BEST way to learn….

It is that time of year.

Oh, how well I remember trying to cram my brain full of as much information as I could before a test. I was NOT like my older brother who studied all semester and enjoyed testing. It was a chance for him to see just how much he had learned – and it was always a LOT. He gathered information and retained it piece by piece like sponge.

Waiting until right before the test was not a good strategy. I know! I would always get painfully stiff necks – a result of the stress I denied I was in. I always went to class – that should be an advantage, shouldn’t it?

Actually learning something is not the same as being in the room when information is shared or lessons taught. Some of us learn best by doing something. I am that way. That is probably the main reason I gravitated toward art and eventually majored in visual arts. Those classes involved making things, creating.

Our children and grandchildren learn in different ways. Of our four children, two were very good at taking tests, the other two did fine, yet the test results did not usually reflect their ability or knowledge in that particular subject. Our child who struggled the most with testing ended up with outstanding grades in college earning a degree in a difficult major, being inducted into an honor society in that major.

We must make sure that we do NOT judge our children by their test results. Intellectually, we know that a test is only one measure or knowledge or ability, and often an incomplete measure at that.

As Christians, we also know that God is desiring “fruit” to be produced, not stellar test grades. Good grades may result as the evidence of some fruit –

  • fruit of faithfulness – studying on a regular basis
  • fruit of self-control – finishing assignments before playing
  • fruit of patience – a willingness to work through hard problems or assignments, not giving up
  • fruit of love – comes from a love of learning
  • fruit of joy – the sense of accomplishment from doing YOUR best

James 1:11-12 says

11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

What remains of value in our lives are not the test results and achievements. What remains is the fruit that God produces in our lives through His Holy Spirit.

As our children and grandchildren face testing or competitions of any kind, we must help them face these challenges with a Godly perspective. We must be sure that we focus on what matters most.