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!

Got Milk?

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Our new granddaughter is now 3 months old. She is starting to respond to her surroundings, especially her family.

Those first smiles make it all worth it, don’t they?

SO PRECIOUS!

She doesn’t cry much, which is a HUGE blessing since her 4 older brothers need a lot on supervision right now. They are at the “let me see what happens if I do this….” stage.

You will remember this stage if your children are older now because you found yourself saying things like:

  • What were you thinking?  … they weren’t thinking
  • Why did you do that?         ….there often is no reason
  • I can’t believe you did that! ….they can’t either
  • What is the matter with you?…they are children

Does God ever throw up His divine hands in exasperation? Knowing that His eye is on me… I’m sure He does.

But He never gives up!  Praise God!

Neither should we.

Back to our new granddaughter – she does let it be known when she is hungry. She is also quickly satisfied when she receives her mother’s milk. Babies are designed to crave the very things they need for healthy growth and development.

Peter has some words of instruction for us as we grow as Christians –

1 Peter 2: 1-3 (NLT)

2 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

We are encouraged to “cry out” for the nourishment we need from the Lord.

Notice that it says – “we must crave pure spiritual milk” so that we can grow into a full experience of salvation. It is an ongoing process.

I am also struck by the phrase “now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

It is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. Kind speech is the best way for us to reflect God’s kindness as we interact with our children, grandchildren, and each other.

Our challenge is to drink in that pure spiritual milk ….and let kindness pour out.

All Alone

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A loud cry of distress came from the bedroom where our daughter had just put her twin sons, aged three, to bed. They were staying with us for the weekend and the boys were pretty worn out from playing outside.

She opened the door, quietly entered the bedroom and realized that, in spite of some significantly loud crying, one twin was already asleep.

“What is wrong?” she asked between his sobs.

“I’m all alone!” he wailed.

“No, you are not. Amos is right here in bed with you,” his mom replied.

“He’s all alone, too!” came the answer.

Needless to say, we laughed about this situation and the irony of the little guy feeling alone with his brother next to him in the same bed.

Yet aren’t we guilty of the same response at times? We may be facing a difficult time in our marriage, with our children, or in the congregation where we fellowship. People are all around us, even in the same room, yet we feel all alone.

Mothers of new babies often feel this sense of isolation. This can be especially true if the new mom is staying home with the baby after having a job where there was social interaction on a daily basis.

I remember moving to Kentucky so that Phil could start seminary when our first child was just 3 months old. I was alone in a new community where I didn’t know anyone – with a baby who didn’t communicate verbally. Three months earlier I had been teaching kindergarten with 23 students who loved me and often told me so.

Now I was all alone

…with a baby.

I remember thinking about the best time to go to the laundrymat. When would I have the greatest chance to meet other moms of young children?

I was so lonely.

I wasn’t alone, though. My Heavenly Father was with me. I was so focused on my feelings of isolation that I did not recognize His presence. Just as Tyler did not feel the comfort of his brother’s presence, I did not sense that God was right with me in that new location.

Psalm 16:10-11 (NIV)

10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

God’s promise to us in Psalm 16 is that God will not abandon us – leave us alone. Verse 11 assures us that in God’s presense is FULLNESS of JOY!

When I feel alone, isolated, or think that I am “the only one who….” I must recognize that God is with me – I am NOT alone.

Our challenge as daughters of our Heavenly Father is to recognize God’s presence even when we don’t feel it. When we open ourselves to sensing that God is with us every moment of every day – that will become our reality.

God has not moved.

He is still on the throne.

He will never leave us all alone.

A New Creation

During this past two months we have been blessed with two new creations! One little boy, Caleb Benjamin,  and in just this past two weeks, a little girl, Adella Kathleen. I have flown to Washington State to be with this precious little girl and her three brothers.  One of the joys of Nanahood!

I’ve noticed that one of the first things we do when a new baby is born is compare that child to a family member. “Who does she look like?” “He has his daddy’s smile!” The comparisons seem never-ending , and in fact they are.

I am 60 years old. People STILL tell me how much I look like my mother! It started as soon as I was born – so I am told  – (unlike our son, I don’t remember my actual birth – he claims he does) and continues, to this day. Once in my life someone told me I looked like my father. I politely asked this individual if they had ever met my mother – they had not.

As soon as our first daughter was born, Phil called my mother and announced “Now there are three of you.” Bless their hearts, two of our daughters live with the stigma of favoring their mother in appearance. A friend of mine asked my mother one day if any of our daughters reminded her of me. Without hesitation she replied “Oh, no. They are much prettier than Gayle ever was.” (Some of you are feeling horror at this moment – don’t  – Mother was right)

The fact remains that it is in our nature to compare children and their appearance to relatives we feel they favor, sometimes even ancient ancestors. “Great-great Uncle Reuben had ears just like those!”  These innocent little babies are tagged from the start. Yet to be fair there are certainly family characteristics that are in our DNA . My parents moved near us following  7 years of living in Taiwan. After hearing my mother speak,  people in stores and businesses would ask her if she knew Gayle Woody – our voices sound that similar.

I love the verses in  2 Corinthians 5:17-20  – New Living Translation (NLT)

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Just as each baby born is a new creation with a unique DNA, when we become Christians, we become new creations as well. “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

We look at these new-born children and think of the great potential each has. Our heavenly Father looks at us and does the same thing! What a blessing to know God as Father. As loving parents, we make every effort possible to help our children to reach their full potential. God does that with us well. God has given us the Holy Spirit to equip us to be His hands and feet wherever we are. Just as our family has hopes and dreams for Caleb and Adella, God has those hopes and dreams for us who are His children. We are so blessed to be part of God’s family.