Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I've often dreamt of being a mother. And by often, I mean I have since I was a kid. I was 12 years old the first time I saw a pregnant woman and thought "oh my gosh, I can't wait until that's me." I know. Weird. :) I hope and pray (while resting in HIS sovereignty) that I will one day be able to experience that. I believe it is one of the highest and most honorable callings and to be desired by all women. But something He has revealed to me the past few years is that I am, in fact, partaking in that role in a small way.


When I signed on to nanny for the Muller's, I never thought I would be with them going on 4 years... I never thought I would put so much love, emotion, time, energy, and passion into my job. I never thought I could love children that weren't related to me, the way that I love these three children. Matt and Erica have often called me the "third parent." And, as different as that may be for some people, it's true. I know each of the little idiosyncrasies that make up each child. Sweet Maddie is so gentle and composed, but I can read every single emotion that crosses her face. I know when something has hurt her feelings or when something brings her joy. I can read Crazy Caiti's every nonverbal cue. I can tell when she's about to get into mischief and when she's about to tackle you with a bear hug. I know what every single cry of Jake's means. I know when he's frustrated, when hes pretending to be a "disaur" (dinosaur), when he's hungry, when he's trying to explain something and no one understands.

I love watching Maddie play the "big sister" role with the two younger ones. I love watching how deeply she cares and how her motherly instincts are already forming. I love watching Caiti play by herself. She's a self-entertainer. Give her princess dolls and a castle, and she'll sit in the same place for an hour, playing each role with different voices and scenarios. I love watching Jake try to do the things his big sisters do. He'll continually fall, or trip, or run into things...and every 10 seconds he will look to me for affirmation, for help, for support, for encouragement... I often stand and stare, amazed at the amount of love in my heart, and amazed that the same picture can make me cry, day after day.

I know their needs. I know their favorite foods, their least favorite foods. I can tell when they're about to vomit, so with my quick moves I always catch it in my hands (disgusting) before it splashes on the ground. I can read if naps are going to be good that day or bad. I know the type of hugs they need; whether it be "lets sit on the couch and snuggle without saying anything for 10 minutes" or the "let me squish you with a bear hug and throw you in the air to make you giggle." I know how to make them so happy they don't know what to do...with the simple things, like picking out caiti's favorite princess pajamas. Without fail, she'll grab them, look at me, and hug me, whispering in my ear "i love you bekah. thank you thank you. you're the best nanny ever." And you know what? Those words never get old. Ever.

When I discipline them, it really does hurt me more. My parents used to always say..."now, this hurts me more than it hurts you." They were right. I never understood that until now. I don't find joy in seeing the big crocodile tears drip down their faces when they've gotten in trouble. I don't like hearing the wails from their bedrooms when they've lost a privledge. I don't like seeing their faces turn bright red as they try to pridefully keep their pain and frustration concealed. I don't like it.

I get the incredble opportunity to not only live Jesus in front of Maddie, Caiti, and Jacob, but to share Him. Raising children is a serious and honorable responsibility...it's huge. All throughout Scripture we see the important of raising a child in the Word, training your children, living Jesus to your children, etc etc. For these kids, that has become a huge part of my role. There are days I cower under it and the responsibility shakes me. I have to daily give it to the Lord and in His love, discipline, and mercy, He continually reminds me it is NOT about me, but Him. I am doing NOTHING, but He is simply choosing me for an instrument of His glory. It's so humbling. We read the Bible together, we pray, we discuss what lyrics of songs mean, we talk about His creation, we dance to praise songs, we sing Veggie Tales at the top of our lungs, we talk about who Jesus is and what He did, we talk about our sin and how He's greater...the topic of Jesus has become a vital one in my relationship with them. Maddie (almost 6) profess to know Jesus, and every day, I pray it's true. She loves talking about Him, and will bring Him up in the most random of conversations. I beg and plead and cry out to the Lord that it's true. Caiti is almost 4 and she's beginning to get it. She talks about Jesus being "hammered to the tree so we don't have to die that way." She talks about being excited to "play with Jesus" one day in heaven. Her face lights up with joy when she talks about Jesus taking away pain and tears. She loves that when we die, we don't "stay dead" but Jesus "makes us alive with Him FOREVER." Maddie places her hands on her chest when she speaks of the love she feels for Jesus for dying for our sins. I can't tell you how many days have gone by where I have wept for these kids, for this family, for their salvation, and over my own sin when I have fallen short.

I "get" it when parents confess their falling short to their kids. I have disciplined out of anger, and I've had to apologize for that. I've missed countless opportunities to practice patience, and I've had to confess that to the Lord. I've gotten upset over "spilled milk" when I could have used that opportunity to show grace. I've misplaced blame, I've raised my voice, I've forgotten promises...I have messed up. I've messed up, and I've humbly had to go before the Lord, begging that He not only forgive me, but that He give these young children grace to forgive me and not hold bitterness against me. I pray they would see Jesus grace given to ME with my failures, so they would more and more understand the beauty and depth of the gospel.

I cling to Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." I cling to it, yet I fear it...

Because, at the end of the day, these aren't my kids. Maybe I do see them and love on them 11 hours a day, almost 50 hours a week, but when 6pm rolls around, I'm out the door. I'm off to my life away from work. I don't see what happens in the evenings and on the weekends. As much of an influence that I have on them, they aren't my kids. We are not blood related, and we never will be. Their last name will always be Muller, and it will never be Nicewander or anything else.

It's bittersweet. Sometimes I'll sit and wonder what my relationship will be with them in 5 years, in 10 years, in 20 years. Will Maddie still be bringing Jesus into every scenario as she crosses her highschool graduation stage? Will Caiti still play her "Jesus songs" and dance around the room when shes a sophomore in college? Will Jake ever understand and hear the gospel as his sisters have? Will they tell their own children about Jesus?

I sit here and cry, because I don't know. Only He does. I pray...I beg...that the seeds that have been plated will sprout into huge beautiful trees for Christ. I pray against them being snatched by the enemy, I pray against the thorns choking them, I pray against them never taking root...

And I pray, that one day, I will be able to do this with my own children. I love these three kids so deeply, I can't imagine the feeling of holding my child in my arms, seconds after birth...I can't imagine my sons chubby arms circling my arms and saying "luh yo" (love you) like Jake does. I can't imagine having my daughter look at me in admiration and say "I hope I'm like you when I grow up" like Maddie does, or whispering "you're the best mommy ever"...I can't imagine, and I do hope and pray that if Jesus does bless me with children, I will take that responsibility seriously. I pray I will support my husband and with him, raise our children in truth, in Christ. I pray for humility and teachability as I confess sin and pursue godly parenthood. I pray I would take the lessons I've learned with this job, and put them into practice. I pray I would be eternally driven, knowing that each of those little bodies are not just bodies, but souls...souls that happen to take form in a body. I pray Christ would daily be on the tip of my tongue. I pray even now, for the salvation of my children.

So. That is the life of a nanny. If I tagged you in this, it's because I believe you "get" it. Please, sisters, don't be discouraged! Our work, although often taken for granted and looked upon as "in vain", often overlooked, often unthanked, often forgotten... it is for the Kingdom. We do what we do because Christ is better, because His truth and His opinion superceed all. We do what we do, because we have been given a treasure, and would we not bury that treasure and buy the entire field?? (Matthew 13:44) So, let's share this treature. Isaiah 55:8-11 - His words will not return void!

And for all you mom's and dad's out there - thank you. Thank you for your hard work, prayers, tears, long hours, long days, long nights, heartaches, for all the little things you do that is never acknowledged or thanked- thank you for sacrificing yourself, your time, your sleep, your energy, your own desires...to raise these little souls to love Jesus. Thank you for giving much of yourself. Thank you for being obedient. Your gift and reward awaits you and it is imperishable and beautiful and everlasting. I thank you and love you for what you do.

And for my own momma and daddy. Every good thing I have learned on raising children, I have learned from you two. I have learned from you, because you obeyed and learned from the greatest Father. You have raised me to love and fear Jesus. You have raised me to love the Word and to love Truth. You had me memorizing Scripture at 2 years of age, you had me singing hymns at the top of my lungs, you prayed with me before and after discipline, you loved me because Jesus loved you, you showed mercy when I deserved judgment, you showed love when I deserved wrath, you taught me theology through catechism as a little child, you had me serving my siblings... You were patient with my shortcomings, and you praised and encouraged when I succeeded. You showed me what a godly mother and father looked like -

momma: I aspire to be the wife and mom you are. To be half of what you are...when someone says I look or act like you, it is the greatest compliment. The way you have loved and sacrified for your family is something beautiful, so beautiful. I love you.
daddy: I pray for a husband and father like you have been. You have set the bar high, and I am thankful for that...I know what a man after God's own heart looks like, and it's you. You have led our family so well, daddy. I love you.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

prayer

I think prayer is something every single believer will admit they struggle with, in one way or another. Throughout Scripture, prayer is talked about...the Psalms are full of prayers, the gospels give us examples of prayers. We even see Jesus - in all His preeminence and reign, pray to His Father. Prayer MUST be important if we see the Holy Triune, the King of Kings, bowing in prayer.

Last night in home group we talked about prayer...Psalm 4 (evening prayer) and Psalm 5 (morning prayer). In Biblical times, that was a day: morning and evening - even in the creation account. So thats how the psalmist (David) takes it in these two psalms.

Because of cultural christianity our ideas are tainted on prayer. esp in regards to the "asking for things" - we (generalization) see Jesus as this genie in a bottle. We make it about us. We are often the preeminence, the subject, in our prayers - whether its asking for things or arguing against God (like with Habakkuk or Job- who were quickly put in their place)

If you look at these psalms, it puts it in a beautiful perspective. It is when we're laying in our beds at night that our minds sift through everything. whether we're struggling in our minds with sin, or replaying things that went on that day, battling anger, fighting tempation, feeling regret, guilty, exhaustin...those "dark nights of the soul" - and in Psalm 4 you see David praise God for who HE IS and for who we are IN HIM. So even when he brings up himself or wallows in that self pity or whatever, he turns it back to God and who God is and who God says that He is (because of who God is!) - "The LORD has set apart the godly for Himself..." (vs3) -GOD DOES IT. He goes on this rant about the evil i n the world, his enemies, etc...and david boasts in the fulfillment of God ("You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound" vs 7) - bc agriculture was wealth...and he ends with vs 8 "In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for YOU ALONE, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." So david is finishing with this 'it's you God...because of who You are. because of who I am in YOU - because You say thats whose I am...I will have peace. (and having "peace" then is SO different than now...) david brings everything acknowledgement back to Christ and His soveriengty. His reign. His "allknowingness"

Then Psalm 5. This morning psalm...this is when David petitions to the Lord. He is asking for things based on WHO GOD IS. His prayers aren't about himself or focused on himself...he is not the subject. God is. He is asking for things because of WHO GOD IS and who God declares we are through Him and because of Him.

i think we - as believers - lean one way or the other here. We're great at asking for things...we're really great at believing God wants to give us good gifts...wants to bless us...wants us to see the joy that He offers, to know the "came to give us life and give it abundantly" (john 10:10)...but we forget to pray for these things based on who He is. based on HIM BEING ENOUGH. Based on His rule and reign. So...praying for a spouse. praying for children. praying for salvation. are we praying for these things because God says that He is good? are we praying for these things in light of His control? in light of His command to "be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, make your requests be made known..." phil 4. we're not guarantteed our 'yes" answers, but we are guaranteed His peace that passes all understanding!

we also tend to lean the other direciton - praising God for who He is and who we are in Him. and struggling with asking for things. this is where i often fall short. i know who Jesus is. i praise Him. i love who He has made me to be in Him...but I fear coming to Him and asking Him for things. i fear idolatry will be made known. I fear getting His answeres. I struggle with that - He GIVES GOOD GIFTS. I forget sometimes that He loves me so deeply He loves seeing me joyful - IF ITS DIRECTED BACK TO HIM! joy that ends in temporal pleasures (a good job, marriage, children, friendships, a nice home, etc..) is no joy at all. its temporal happiness that WILL FADE and WILL FAIL. but joy that is directed back to Jesus and His gifts (i PRAISE YOU OH LORD, for you have done great things...) it HAS to be about Him. it cant be about us. it just cant.


when my hg leader was talking last night I was just praying that I would learn the power of prayer. like elijah praying for rain and God answering...then prayig it would stop, and God answering. and elijah was a normal dude, like us! and when were told that the prayer of the righteous man avails much...or 'you do not get because you do not ask " (James) man...its so awesome.

theres that quote from tim keller that goes something like "God gives us what we would have asked for if we knew what He knew" or something like. our knowledge is so limited...on EVERYTHING. i think we dont realize how limited...in calvinistic teachings or in the beautiful simplicity of grace...to praying salvation over our unborn children to praying boldly over healing. but if we knew what God did. if we had that unlimited perfect knowledge...we would know how to pray and what to pray for. dunno if that makes sense. its such a beautiful truth though.

i think whats so beautiful about all of this is...it causes complete dependency and reliance on Jesus. His "track record" is flawless....everyone elses, everything else...failing miserably. He has promised to be faithful and HE IS. always. forever. nothing changes that fact. and nothing changes the fact that I am His. forever. and nothing and no one can snatch me out of His hands (john 10). and nothing and no one can separate me from His love. (romans 8)

Friday, February 4, 2011

serenity.

I spent most of the morning and afternoon alone today. It's funny how I savor those moments the older I get. Reading, thinking, resting, sipping coffee. The quietness and the stillness of the day have been peaceful, beautiful, blissful... I've definitely been that native Texan who has been grinning like an idiot all day, on cloud 9. The snow, the sights, the brightness of the winter sky, the purity...it overwhelms me and fills me with joy.

I took a long scenic walk this afternoon. Here I am, living in Dallas Texas...and behind me is this Narnia winter wonderland. I stood there, tears filling my eyes and my heart about the burst. All I could think of is... "what must heaven be like..."? If this sight overwhelms me to the core, how overwhelmed will I be when I dance the streets of gold?? When I finally see Jesus face to face? It was incredible walking amidst that beauty...surrounded by the purity of the freshly fallen snow, with snow still falling. It was quiet and still. I could have stood there for hours just taking it in.

I'm so thankful He gives us these reminders...of His love for us. Of the redemption, reconciliation, and purity found in Him. Of the glimpses of eternity....






Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon!" Amen. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
Revelation 22:21