2008 at 2:47 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Phew! Moving is an all-consuming, full-time project: Collecting boxes, packing boxes, dismantling furniture, removing wall hangings, patching, sanding, and painting the holes left by those wall hangings, sorting through everything – deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, collecting and packing more boxes, holding yard sales, cleaning…
And that was only the moving out part.
Saturday was the big move and now that my stuff is in the new house I need to start the whole process over again—albeit sort of in reverse: Cleaning, unpacking and getting rid of boxes, putting furniture back together, hanging pictures on the walls (and of course making new holes in the wall), creating a place for everything…
In the midst of all this packing and unpacking I’ve found myself thinking, “When I get through this move, then I can get back to more important things.”
This is not the first time I’ve succumbed to such faulty thinking. Throughout my career as a homemaker I’ve been tempted to look past the duties of the day to the more “important,” “significant,” or “exciting” work of tomorrow.
“When the baby sleeps through the night, then I can begin to…” “When the children are a little older I’ll have more time to….” “When this sports season is over than I can turn my attention to….” “If they ever graduate from high school, then I can finally….”
But there are no holding patterns in God’s kingdom. As homemakers, we are not simply circling the skies of life, waiting for God from His control tower to call us to real kingdom work. No, we’re doing that important work today. As Dorothy Patterson observes: “preparation and care of the family shelter are important enough for God himself to assign that responsibility” (e.g. Titus 2:3-5, Pr. 31).
If God himself has assigned me the task of caring for my home, then I don’t want to half-heartedly perform the duties of today, reserving my best efforts for “tomorrow.” Rather, I want to follow the advice of missionary Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God.” I want to unpack boxes and scrub my new bathtub and run errands for the new home and take my son to the soccer scrimmage for the glory of the One who saved me and who, by His grace, called me to this wonderful work.
2008 at 2:33 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Tomorrow the moving truck comes to take our things to the new house (CJ and I will be staying here until renovations are completed on our room). In Feminine Appeal, in my chapter on “The Honor of Working at Home” I reflected upon the memories of living in this home and being a homemaker. These thoughts seem especially appropriate to post today.
“The Best Job in the World”
When I reflect upon my past twenty-nine years as a homemaker, a virtual collage of memories floods my mind: Family Night every Monday. Reading with my husband by the fire. Tucking my children into bed at night with a song and a prayer. Waking them up for a surprise “pajama ride” to Dunkin Donuts. Reading Little House on the Prairie to my daughters or Paddington Bear to my little boy.
Counseling a newlywed couple through their first disagreement. Evenings of fellowship, food, and laughter with friends. Throwing a baby shower for my unsaved neighbor. Extending hospitality to overnight guests. Praying with other women in my living room.
Long talks with C.J. over a cup of coffee. Enjoying sweet forgiveness after resolving a family conflict. Extended family dinnertime conversations. Sharing with our children the good news of Jesus Christ.
And I’ll never forget this memory: I was standing at my kitchen sink, washing the breakfast
dishes when Chad entered the room. Only four years old at the time, he began running in little-boy circles in front of the refrigerator. He was singing a song he’d made up, and it went like this: “You’re the best mommy in the whole world! You’re the best mommy in the whole world!”
Though his song had only this one refrain, he continued singing for a full five minutes. I stood there with the dirty dishes, watching my son and thinking. I have the BEST JOB in the whole world!
2008 at 1:53 pm | by Janelle Bradshaw
Our home was always full of laughter. My dad inherited a quick wit and hilarious sense of humor from his dad. He taught us to laugh—laugh at ourselves and laugh along with each other. To this day, whenever we get together, our conversation quickly turns humorous, and we often laugh until we can’t breathe.
While the trip down memory lane over the last few days has brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face, it has also brought that familiar laughter. I laugh when I remember the time my Mom was out of town and Nicole and I impetuously sold all of our bedroom furniture at my aunt’s yard sale. It has taken Mom ten years to laugh about that one.
I laugh when I think about my dad attempting repair jobs around the house while carrying on a running conversation with his tools. Not so funny to Dad, but hilarious for the rest of us to listen in as he blamed the leak on his faulty wrench.
We all can’t help but laugh when we recall how Mike came over to the house weekend after weekend to “hang out with Chad.” He wasn’t fooling anyone, not even Chad.
Oh, and let’s not forget the time a certain sister left the top on the hamster cage open, and four baby hamsters spent several weeks roaming the basement.
Laughter practically sent me into labor the other day while I was watching my brother mow the lawn. He ran into a few technical difficulties (which were all the fault of the lawn mower, of course) and, well, you had to be there.
We all laugh when we remember Nicole and Kristin’s poodle perms, my lime green baseball hat and Chad’s endless collection of soccer cleats.
In all this laughter, we learned humility. My dad led by example as he always laughed the loudest when the joke was on him. But whenever we did something silly (or can I say stupid?) he taught us to laugh rather than withdraw in pride. While it took the sons-in-law some time to adjust to our family culture, they now lead the way in pursuing humility through laughter.
Although I’m sad to leave this house where we have known endless hours of laughter, I’m glad that when we move, my dad will be around to teach his granddaughters the same lessons of humor and humility.
2008 at 5:52 pm | by Kristin Chesemore
My parents are busy packing to move out of their home. The boxes are piling up and the pictures are coming down from the walls. Actually, it’s still strange for me to think this way, but legally it is my home now and they are renting back from me.
A story is ending and a story is beginning. The door is closing on my life as a daughter in this home and opening to a new role as wife and mother in this home.
I still remember riding with my dad in the big moving truck from our old home in Silver Spring, MD to our brand new home in Gaithersburg. I was eight years old. And as I walk into each room of my new (for the second time) home, so many wonderful memories come to mind….
Mom waking us up each morning with a special song.
Dad leading in morning devotions at the breakfast table.
Birthday celebrations with the “You are Special Today” plate.
Reading and talking long after dinner was finished.
Watching the Redskins with Dad on Sunday afternoon.
Sleepovers with friends.
The surprise graduation party Mom threw for Nicole and me.
The night Brian asked my dad if he could court me.
Trying on my wedding dress in the bedroom.
Rolling my luggage down the hall on my wedding day as I prepared to leave home (for what I thought was the last time!).
And, while almost all of the memories are fond ones, I also remember arguing with my sister in the bathroom each morning over who got to use the hairdryer first! (Love ya, Nic!)
My oldest son Andrew is eight years old—the same age I was when I first rode to this home in the big truck with my dad. He’s going to share the same room with his brothers (yep, bunk beds and a trundle!) that I shared with my sisters. In fact, I’ve found myself planning to arrange our furniture much the same way it was when I first lived here twenty-two years ago. God-willing, I hope Brian and I can make as many wonderful memories for our children as my parents did with us.
Most of all, I pray God will give us grace to carry on the legacy of a loving, joyful, gospel-centered, kingdom-minded, home for His glory.
2008 at 2:22 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
Each time I’ve visited Mom’s house recently, it looks different than the time before. Another room sits bare. The living room is stacked higher with more Dole fruit boxes, appropriately labeled.
The house has undergone a lot of changes over the years. In fact, although my parents lived in the same house for twenty-two years, our house never stayed the same. Mom’s daily effort was to make it more beautiful, comfortable, welcoming, and useful.
We aren’t a terribly sentimental family when it comes to stuff. My parents never spent too much time living in the past—there is so much to do in the present! So our home wasn’t about preserving memories so much as making more.
The peach bedroom I once shared with my two sisters (bunk beds and a trundle—but Janelle would always sleep with one of us!) eventually became Janelle’s bright red room. It was Janelle and Mike’s when they lived there the first time and now it is Chad’s (sometimes messy one) for a few more days.
The living room where as little girls we sat on the couch and read Grandma’s Attic books with Mom and slept under the Christmas tree became the dining room that could sit all the sons-in-law and grandkids.
The kitchen table where Dad read us many a dinnertime story is long gone. Actually, it was our first kitchen table. A lot of my parent’s old furniture was (and is) in our house now.
The spare bedroom in the basement used to be Dad’s office. But it has also been home to Josh Harris, Brian and Kristin, Mike and Janelle, Steve and me (when I was recovering from surgery), then Mike and Janelle again, and now Dad and Mom are using it for the last few weeks.
The kitchen got a much-needed remodeling after I moved out. I still can’t find the drinking glasses.
Amid all these changes, and even with boxes piled high, that house still feels like home for one reason: Mom is there. In fact, when I stop to think about the house I grew up in, that is what I remember most—not the wall color or the knick knacks or the furniture, but how Mom’s love of beauty, her devotion to her husband and children, her work ethic, her pursuit of cleanliness and order, her peace and joy, her constant presence permeated the entire house. I can relate to a little boy who, when asked, “Where is your home?” replied, “Where mother is.”
So if you were to ask me if I am sad about my parents moving out of the house I grew up in, I’d say, not at all. Home is just moving down the street. It is, and always will be, where Mom is.
2008 at 2:48 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Nicole was nine, Kristin eight, and Janelle four when we first moved into our home on a cold February day in 1986. Chad wasn’t even born yet. Today, a sunny one in June, twenty-two years later, I’m boxing up (and sometimes throwing out) two decades worth of memories.
Of the more than 8000 days I spent in this home, there were a few dramatic ones: the day I announced to CJ that “surprise, you’re going to be a father again!” or the day Kristin fainted and we had to call the ambulance, or when Mike serenaded Janelle outside her window at 6am, or when Nicole returned from the hospital after life-saving surgery.
But most of my days looked pretty much the same.
I got out of bed each morning so that I could do everything I did the day before. I washed the dishes so they could be dirtied again. I ironed the clothes so they could be worn and wrinkled again I wiped noses so they could run again. I picked up toys so they could be played with again. I mopped the floor so mud could be tracked on it again. I cooked meals so that I could go to the grocery store again. I made beds so they could be slept in again.
Some days I wondered: if I do all I do, only to have it undone, am I really doing anything?
Today, as I pack up my home in June of 2008, I can see the answer more clearly than I did in February 1986. Each of my daughters is married to a wonderful, godly man, Chad will be a sophomore in high school this fall, and we’ll welcome our seventh grandchild at the end of August.
I realize that all of the mundane, repetitive days were actually full of significant, enduring work. A home was being built. A family was being knit together. Four souls were being shaped for eternity.
This home has spawned three more homes where the same tedious yet momentous work goes on day in and day out. And God willing, many more homes will one day be built, day by day, so “that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9).
We finished writing our most recent book, Shopping for Time, about a week before Tori was born last year. Ironically, we ran out of time to include questions for group discussion and personal application in the printed addition.
But thanks to the family life team at Covenant Life Church, headed by our esteemed brother-in-law, Brian Chesemore (affectionately known as “Pastor B” to the fam), we can now make questions available to you.
These questions were written to assist women who lead a small group discussion with the book; however, they could be useful for two women reading the book together, or even someone studying on her own. We hope they will help you consider how to make the best use of your time.
Our summer craziness is in full swing. A few updates of our “goings on”:
House Yesterday, my parents and Mike and I gained official possession of our new house. Also known as the “horsey-lion house.” Caly gave the house this name after one of our first times seeing the house when she spotted a rocking horse and a stuffed lion in one of the children’s rooms. Daddy and Mommy got Caly her own horsey and lion to welcome her on her first day in her new home. We are still a week away from our official move as we will be having some work done on the house over the next few days.
Packing That pretty much describes things right now. We pack and we pack and we pack a little more. The boxes are piling up and every day when Mike comes home from work and looks around, he tells mom and me that we will need a bigger moving truck.
Strawberries Even in the midst of a move, we couldn’t resist a little strawberry picking. Caly and I ventured out to the fields this morning with our friends and had a blast eating—I mean picking—strawberries. But now it’s back to packing again.
Summer Celebration This Monday, Summer Celebration is coming to CLC. Yeah! Mike is so excited and keeping super busy planning for the fun. If you have kiddos from ages 6 to 10 and live locally than there is still time to sign up. Just head to the CLC website for details.
That’s all for now, I need to get back to packing. Catch y’all tomorrow!
I have to confess that for a brief moment I was discouraged by last week’s summer ideas.
Don’t get me wrong…your ideas were amazing; and over the weekend I excitedly compiled a list of all the things I wanted to do with my kids this summer. I began to imagine all the fun memories we’d make, the goals we’d accomplish, the ministry opportunities we’d seize. I was going to be organized, intentional and fun. Thanks to you, we were going to have an incredible summer.
But then, reality sank in: I’m moving in a couple of weeks. As much as I’d like to, there’s no way I can have ministry Thursdays or do activities for every letter of the alphabet. I have boxes to pack!
For a few minutes all these great ideas felt like a burden—just so many reminders of what I was not doing for my kids this summer.
Maybe some of you feel the same way. You too are moving, or you are pregnant, or are in a trial or an unusually busy season. Summer isn’t going to be all you’d like it to be.
What helped me was to remember the truth that God has ordained my summer circumstances. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6). Instead of sinfully comparing myself to the rest of you creative people, I need to receive God’s plans for my summer with gratitude. (And I am so grateful for God’s provision of a house!)
So I asked myself, what are some simple ideas that would serve my family this summer?
God graciously used many of your ideas to help me formulate a plan. I’ve got four simple goals for my kids: Scripture reading/memory, household chores, school and reading. At my “morning meeting” with the boys today I gave them each an index card with their responsibilities. They’ve had so much fun checking them off as they go along.
And simple activities? Today we made red and green jello. Of course I’m going to get some mallets so they can smash fruit loops on sidewalk. Water painting on the driveway and squirting soap bubbles in the air will also fit the simple theme.
The rest of your ideas won’t go to waste: watch out, Summer 2009!
After dinner on a recent date night, my husband and I wandered into a Barnes and Noble—not an uncommon leisure activity for the two of us. I flipped through a book on the new release table and came across a ten-year reading plan at the back of the book. Hmmm…that’s a good idea, I thought. I’m always reading—commentaries, books on women’s issues, doctrine and the Christian life, and even the occasional history or classic novel—but I want to have a long-term plan to make sure I’m reading the most valuable spiritual classics.
So on our way out, I asked CJ (whose appetite for devouring books ever inspires me!) to give me a reading plan for what he considered the most important spiritual books to read in my lifetime.
Though I’ve read parts of almost all of these books, I’ve not benefited as I know I will if I read them from cover to cover. So, I’m going to line these books up on my shelf and start reading. Let’s see…..eight books, at one per year; I should be finished by 2016. God willing, I’ll finish these books and ask CJ for another reading list.
A final word on summer, from John Piper: “Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel.”
The danger with all our summertime ideas (even the more ‘spiritual’ ones) is that we would enjoy or pursue them to the neglect of God himself.
“Flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched” warns Piper. “At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer and neglect the Word, but then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.”
The solution to a shallow summer? “If then you have been raised up with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2, RSV).
Remember that, “Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is preeminent in all things (Col. 1:18), including vacations, picnics, softball, long walks, and cookouts [and square foot gardens, pinnebrød, and popsicle trees].”
Or, said another way: “The summer sun is a mere pointer to the sun that will be: the glory of God. Summer is for seeing and showing that.” Heavenly Father, may we not be guilty of “Christless leisure” but may we “see” and “show” your glory in all we do this summer. Amen.
This list of helpful summer schedule ideas concludes our week of summertime tips. Thanks to all of you who participated. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for these ideas—many of which will make for great summertime memories for years to come. Our winner today is Elizabeth who has a commendable ministry focus to her family’s schedule.
I have four children ranging in age from 8-12 and I actually just finished up making our summer schedule. Our household tends to run much smoother when there is a “plan”. I wanted to incorporate some fun ideas and still have some structure to the summer.
One of my favorite things that we are planning on doing is having a “ministry day” (ours happens to be Thursday). On that day we (the kids and I) will use that day to find a family, or person in which we can minister to. Ideas would be….babysitting a new mom’s other children, baking cookies for an elderly couple or person and visiting with them for a bit, yard work for someone ill, making a meal (having the kids involved) for a needed family….etc. I think it is so important that we teach our children the importance of ministering inside our local church. It gives them opportunities to step outside themselves and give of themselves…a servants heart!
Another idea that I have incorporated is on Tues. and Thurs. mornings I will have them email a missionary. My husband will set up an email account specifically for that reason and they will get to email them and let them know how we are praying and then also get to hear from them in return and be able to “visualize” the ministry there. Thankfully, our church has a list on their website of all our missionaries and their email addresses so they have made it easy for us in that respect. We are also going to use the prayer cards that we have and put them in a flip over (on the stand type) picture album. We will pray for one at dinner each day and flip to the next one.