Sister to Sister: Not a Minimalist

I will never be a minimalist. In fact, I am a bit ashamed to say I think I am a maximist. ( Since “maximalist” has a political meaning, I made that word up.) It might not be right, but it’s true. So many people have blessed our family through the years with friendship and comfort and then tokens of those sweet relationships…and I am an avowed sentimentalist. I can’t part with anything that was my mother’s. I have a thimble that my grandmother gave to me when I was a little girl. She said it came over on the boat with my ancestors. My grandchildren are wearing the same clothes that my children wore. I even have a very hard time throwing away a dish when it breaks, if it was made by one of my children in a pottery class or given to me for Christmas by my father. 

But lately, I’ve been trying to make myself part with clutter. I’ve been making a conscious effort to trample a bit on the sentimental side of me and “see” what I can throw away. I give myself all those reasons: If you haven’t used it in three years, then…or…Do you want your kids to have to sort through all of this one day?…or…You know, you can remember the day he took his first steps out in the yard without keeping the stick he picked up off the ground. I know…I need this exercise, so, as I put the Christmas stuff away and put the “regular” stuff back out, I tried to put a little less “decor” back out and a little more in the trash. 

And I saw this book that had been lying on a desk in the study. “I’m going to get rid of that,” I thought. “That book always makes me sad, anyway.” It’s one of those journals that mothers fill out for posterity, telling children all about  how they grew up, how they met the children’s daddy, favorite toys and prices of things in the good old days. Our little family had given it to my mom for Mother’s Day during the year that she passed away, so she didn’t even have enough time left to fill it out. So I picked it up to put it in a give-away place…or at least to try. 

But I looked inside and saw our note to her. I saw the four-year-old and eight-year-old signatures of my kids. Then the note from my father when he gave the book back, along with a couple more notes that he’d sent through the years since her passing. The first one I read said this:

Cindy, 

If crying is wrong  for an old man, I’m sorry, but that is exactly what happened when I  came across this book given to Johnnia in her last year here. The pictures are Johnnia’s type thing. She didn’t have a chance to write diary things in it. 

The message of love from you, Glenn, and the children touched me. I thought of how obedient you were over the years and how miserable you would always be if you slipped a little and disobeyed her in a moment of weakness and how eager you were to rectify it quickly. You and (your mother) are influencing me every day of my life. Not unrelated to this is the Duncan-Smith bunch (her family)…fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins…but of the good qualities of all, you got a double dose. 

Then there was another note, written following one of our big family holiday visits to his house:

…The sound of feet stomping…the sound of young voices (and old)…the sound of the bounce of the basketball…the sound of and sight of roller skating…the sound of the ultra-young to the older ones in offering thanks for the food, etc…the sound and sight of the splashing of the pool, in the summer…the much work done here when y’all come (allowing me to sit around). All of this is summed up in one word: LOVE. Cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, maybe a grandparent here and there. 

The sights and sounds described herein, at times have likely been annoyances, but to me, they have become music to my ears…Keep up (your mother’s) traditions. Love…

PS…the part I miss most on these occasions is her voice and joy.

Then next, I noticed a letter of encouragement written to my daughter, Hannah, from her grandfather during her teen years. Among other things it said:

“You have not, in any way, let us down…you are of sterling quality and good for the church and the family…Keep on doing what you’re doing and living like you’re living. I love you…You’re my tweetie!

Funny how I thought I could just throw that book away. Funny how words can re-appear and resonate with encouragement on days when you need it most. Funny how one of the people who’s had the most profound influence on me could make me believe that I could influence him! Funny how someone long gone to glory can still influence so many so deeply. Dad’s little notes made me want to encourage people more…especially in writing. I have friends, especially one (Carol), who do it constantly. But I need to be better at written encouragement. 

I didn’t throw the book away. Instead, I think I’ll write in it’s beautiful pages and pass it on down. Maybe when Hannah is a grandmother or when Caleb is a grandfather, one of them will think about throwing it away on another day. Maybe they can be minimalists. But I doubt it. 

Sister to Sister: Figuring Out Godliness–The Exciting Conclusion =)

Are You Up to the Challenge?

 

11270664_10152744265201384_2434744574414167591_oNevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

Scholars have had varying views about what “she will be saved in childbearing” means.  Some believe that it means women are saved because it was a woman who gave birth to the Messiah. They reason that it was through that miraculous “childbearing” in Bethlehem, that we are all saved. Of course there’s a sense in which that’s true, but I believe the passage more directly applies to the practical roles of Christian women. Let me explain.

Throughout New Testament writings there is an obvious emphasis on the role of Christian women in the home. There is great wisdom in this emphasis. Can you imagine how large our churches would be today if every Christian mother since the day of Pentecost had successfully raised her children to be faithful to the Lord? It staggers the imagination!

I believe the Holy Spirit in verses 11-14 teaches what women cannot do in service to the Lord. I believe in verse 15, He gives us the flip side of the coin. I believe He is teaching women what we can best do if we want to build the church. We can bear children and raise them to be faithful, full of love, holy and self-controlled.  I believe He is teaching us that when we, as Christian women, do this most important of all women’s jobs successfully, we will necessarily be mothers who are walking in a saved condition.  Children can grow up and learn faith from other sources besides Mom. But if they do learn faith from Mom—a faith that calls them to be set apart from the world; holy—then Mom necessarily had to have a strong faith to transfer. If the Mom was privileged to teach them to love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, strength, and minds, then that says a lot about the fervor of Mom’s love.  If they got a self control from Mom that’s big enough to keep them from that roaring lion who seeks to devour them, then Mom had to have a serious spiritual focus. Simply put, if I am the one who gives my children a faith that will take them to heaven, I must be on the road to heaven myself.

The devil is busy. The world is enticing. The culture is challenging. But my place is here. My time is now. Whether I am the woman striving to be godly on the inside and out, or the man who is trying to grow into the spiritual leader of a righteous home, God can use me when I examine his Word, find my role and fill it. But I must also look for others who are finding their life’s direction in the same great Book. I must look to these people for my influences, my encouragement, and my best friends. It is from this circle that I will one day find my spouse. Husbands can be great leaders when they choose women who are true to their profession of godliness. Women, likewise, find their greatest potential filled when they are willing to be molded into God’s women, even when it means going against the grain of a culture of feminism. May we help each other be submissive to His will as we find our places in the body of Christ.