The Hidden Beauty of Repetition

Here is my original contribution to Morning by Morning’s Gospel and the Arts series:

Monotony can be depressing. There are times when I have to put on my cap of duty and just get the bathroom cleaned. Or times when I’m tired of taking my boys to the same places to play over and over again. Sometimes it feels like I just planned my meals yesterday and now I already have to think about what we’ll eat this week, and then actually shop for it all, again. I try not to think about the monotony of repetition when I get up with my three children during the week: get up, change the baby, make my bed, dress myself, put the toddler on the potty, get the boys dressed and beds made, go downstairs to make breakfast for us all, finally I make my cup of coffee, and back upstairs to start our school time. Repeat. Repeat again.

Repetition can be comforting at times, but also boring. I spend the majority of my time taking care of my family and my home. Care-taking and homemaking are repetitive tasks. I just fed the baby, and two hours later, I repeat. I just told my boys to stop fighting and fifteen minutes later I’m saying it again. I begin the evening’s meal preparation, even though I just put away dishes from our previous meal. Everyday is fundamentally the same. Homemaking can be dry and dull, but what if it’s really meant to be full of life and creative expression?

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Missional Motherhood Study: Weeks 5 & 6

Today was the last day of my moms group and I thought I would cover our discussion from weeks 5 and 6. Two weeks ago we mainly talked about the “thousands of little deaths to self” we do as moms everyday. This idea is drawn from 2 Corinthians 4:11:

“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

We also discussed the idea that evangelism is a mom’s work, but the giving of faith is Gods. There is freedom in knowing that it isn’t all up to us to save our children. We do have a great influence on them, and God uses us in mighty ways in our children’s lives, but only God can make blind eyes see and awaken a sleeping heart.

In today’s group we talked a lot about homemaking and the difference between making our homes an idol and making them a place to display the gospel to others (in our family and outside our family). Gloria says, “Titus 2 is not about how Christian women need to be domestic goddesses; it’s about how Christian women point people to God.” We manage our homes, in our own unique ways, to love and serve and give freely to others. Gloria speaks to this as well, “Homemaking is a strategic everyday ministry designed by God to adorn his gospel in this age….We don’t manage our homes because our homes are our hope. We manage our homes because Christ is our hope.” 

We ended the discussion today with the assurance that God will fulfill his mission in the world and in his Church, because he tells us so in his Word, and has made it evident through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and by giving us the Holy Spirit. He designed us and equips us for missional motherhood to our own children and other disciples. It is his work.

 

Where Dreams Go To Live

When I grow up I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a ballerina. I want to be a firefighter. You would hear many of these aspirations from a classroom of second graders in response to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s the cliche question to ask innocent little children before reality crashes down on them. Maybe it’s the question we still ask ourselves once we have grown up. Then reality gives us a cold reminder. We aren’t really where we imagined we would be or doing what we always wanted to do. Our dreams are fading or have already died.

How Dreams Work

I don’t think many women grew up having dreams of doing 3 loads of laundry every day, scrubbing toilets every week, doing dishes 5 times a day, planning and cooking 3 meals a day, all while little ones cling to their legs whining. If you did have dreams of being a homemaker and mom I’m sure they were more of the fluffy variety. The perfect scenario every time with never a moment of impatience, loneliness, discontentment or frustration. As little girls playing house we never understood the realistic side of those pretend moments.

But don’t most dreams work like that? Aren’t they usually fantasies? Maybe occasionally they find themselves making an appearance in the world of reality, but most times they are unrealistic expectations. We don’t know that though until we try to execute the fantasy, and realize it’s not measuring up to what was in our minds. When dreams are in the form of unrealistic expectations then they breed discontentment with the realistic outcome.

This is when dreams die. Not only are we in an occupation that society turns up its nose at, but we don’t get a bonus or trophy for what we do. We are only recognized by society one day a year in May, and the rest of the year we aren’t as important or liberated as career women.

Dreams Before Motherhood

Maybe before you became a wife and mom you had dreams of traveling the world, starting your own business, being an artist, or being that driven career woman in the workforce. It’s possible to eventually fulfill your dreams while being a wife and mother (and it’s definitely acceptable.) The issue is when reality and dreams collide. Can you realistically do it all now? Can it wait? Can it be expressed in a different way you hadn’t thought about? But the most important thing to realize is dreams can easily become idols; they can rob us of what is most valuable.

You see as wives and mothers we have the unique privilege to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Sometimes we can fulfill our dreams and sometimes we have to lay them down (maybe just for a season or maybe permanently.) We know it was hard for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to choose the Father’s will and sacrifice himself on the cross. He made the right choice because he was perfect, but his humanity was clearly displayed as he wrestled with what was before him. He ends with, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

He calls us to do the same. Sacrifice is a glorious and beautiful thing to Jesus, but not to our society. Sacrifice is tough, because it is death to ourselves and to our desires and personal fulfillment, but it always results in life and joy.

Joy and Life in Shattered Dreams

There was joy and life at the end of the road for Jesus. Joy found in fulfillment in others (us sinners he died for), life after being raised on the third day, and he was even exalted to the Father’s right hand.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2.

We should look to Jesus as the perfect example and enabler of laying down our lives for our families. This is the greatest and most fulfilling dream that Christ calls us to. He also calls us to dream about the place he is preparing for us in heaven. Perhaps the Bible doesn’t tell us everything about heaven, because we are supposed to dream about it here on Earth.

So many of our dreams are restricted when bound to this world and don’t compare to the glory of heaven; beholding the face of God, and being in His presence forever. Our dreams for ourselves on Earth are so finite, they are like stepping in a puddle when the whole rain cloud is waiting to burst open. We can’t dream any bigger than what awaits us in heaven. This is what Christ laid down his life for; he sacrificed himself for this. This is the ultimate joy before us. This is where our dreams go to live.

Home is Your Canvas: An Edith Schaeffer Book Review

{This blog post contains affiliate links.}

Maybe you’ve heard of the tortured artist. A frustrated and alienated character (also, real-life person) who feels like no one gets him or his art.  Edith Schaeffer, in her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking addresses this type of person. The book is aimed towards women in the home, but at times also men.

Before you run and hide for cover at the word homemaking, know that Schaeffer is not trying to add another ball for you to juggle in life, but opening our eyes to the importance of beauty and order. Schaeffer shows us that homemaking is not drudgery, but a blank canvas for us to express ourselves. Art doesn’t just have to be framed paintings hanging on our walls; it can be a colorfully arranged plate of food for dinner, fresh and thoughtfully arrayed flowers on a table, or a well designed book case display.

The Little Things Matter

Why should these little things matter to us around our homes? Schaeffer says it plain and simple: because we are Christians. She presents the case that we are creative, because we are made in the image of the Creator God. God is the originator of all art forms. So, Christians should be the prime advocates of art, creativity, and beauty.

“The Christian should have more vividly expressed creativity in his daily life, and have more creative freedom, as well as the possibility of a continuing development in creative activities.”

“But, not forgetting the above, then what I call ‘Hidden Art’ should be more important to one who knows and admits that he is made in God’s image, than to those who do not.”

Everyday Details

Schaeffer refers to hidden art, not in the way of a career or profession, but as the everyday details of one’s life. We should use our hidden art in our homes everyday as a way to enrich other people’s lives, and represent the beauty found in Christ. Each chapter in Schaeffer’s book explores different art forms and how we can express them in our homes; it’s a way to give ourselves (the tortured artist) an outlet, but also a way to enrich our families and guests.

“A Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing the Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there.”

“If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation.”

You don’t have to be a married woman to read this book, heck, you don’t even have to be a woman. You just need to be someone who has some kind of living space in which to exercise your art. Whatever you call home…that is your canvas!