Measure Your Life by How Well You Have Loved

Measure Your Life by How Well You Have Loved

I have been reading Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. Both of the quotes in this poster are from that book.

This book is amazingly full of wisdom and encouragement. The topics she covers run the gamut of Christian living and relationship skills. It all boils down to love. In every situation and in every area of life, the answer is knowing that you’re loved and taken care of by the Creator of the universe and loving those that He has placed in your life so that your joy is full and you feel the fulfillment of living out the purpose that He made you for.

As long as we keep loving and remembering that we are loved, we will experience the joy and peace that the whole world is looking for.

Let’s keep living this in our lives and spreading the message to others.

It’s what we’re here for.

No Perfect Mamas Allowed

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Have you seen Moms Night Out? It’s hilarious. I made my husband take me to see it in the theater. He was amazed at how good it was. He prefers action/adventure movies, but I have scored quite a few victories lately with the movies I’ve picked, and he is looking at me with new admiration for my movie-choosing abilities.

But, anyway, back to Moms Night Out…

The story is about a Mommy who is discontent and dissatisfied with her life. She loves her life of being a stay-at-home mom raising her children, but she feels like she is not doing it very well. She feels like something is missing. She is also a Mommy blogger. That doesn’t seem to be going very well, either. She doesn’t have very many followers. She struggles to write a single post.

Her life doesn’t feel very significant. She doesn’t feel like she really has anything to say. Her house is a mess. Her children are running wild, making more messes. She is tired. But she feels like she has no right to be tired, because she isn’t doing enough to keep her house and children tidy, so why is she so tired? It’s all out of control. Her life is out of control and not the way she wants it to be.

She thinks she just needs a break. Her husband thinks she does, too, so he helps her arrange a night out with two friends, who are also moms.

While the moms are away, pandemonium breaks out in their homes. Pandemonium also breaks out in their planned night of fun and relaxation away from kids and the pressures of home.

The whole movie is full of PANDEMONIUM! Which makes it hilarious.

But there is a serious side that I can relate to only too well.

I have felt very ill-equipped for this housewife thing. Early on in my journey as a stay-at-home mom, I realized that I quit teaching and most of my outside activities, like singing in church and teaching Sunday School, which made me feel pretty successful and accomplished, and I felt like I was good at, to become a homemaker/mother/full-time teacher to my own kids, none of which I was very good at.

Especially the homemaker part. I don’t like to clean. I don’t like to cook. I don’t even like to eat that much, so it’s hard for me to think of what to make for dinner. All I really want to do is read and learn and talk about what I’m learning. Or just be by myself and think about what I’m learning.

None of this is conducive to being a good housewife, homemaker, mother, or even a full-time teacher!

So, basically, I quit what I was good at – to do what I’m not good at. And nobody even pays me or grades me or rewards me for all of the time and effort I’m putting in. I don’t even get a pat on the back or a “good job” or “thank you, Mommy” or “thank you, Honey”. Boy, do I feel unappreciated. I feel so insignificant. I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything important. And I feel like I’m doing a terrible job at the only thing I’m supposed to be doing right now.

Sally Clarkson talks about this problem in her book Own Your Life. She felt the same way when she started out as a mother. She had never been around children much and saw herself as a professional woman. She found herself pregnant at 42, raising 3 children already, feeling clueless about motherhood and overwhelmed by the needs of her children and family.

I know God has called me to stay home with my children and raise them. I know He has called me to homeschool them.

So why am I not doing a better job at it? Why is it so hard? Why do I try to find anything else to do besides spend one-on-one time with my children?

I used to earn good grades, and that made studying worth it. Then I made a paycheck, and that made teaching worth it. And I had kids in a structured environment who adored me and obeyed me, and then they went home.

Now I have to cook, clean, organize, schedule, plan, clean, cook, tidy up, organize, try to think up ideas for dinner, go grocery shopping, do things for other people all the time, be interrupted from what I really want to do to do something for somebody else, wash dishes, cook, do laundry, go grocery shopping, clean up other people’s messes – and not get paid for any of it!

Boy, do I feel insignificant, unappreciated, and many times downright invisible.

At the same time, I feel very fulfilled, blessed and full of purpose. I feel like I have learned something, like I am doing something right, and I want to share it with others.

Do I have multiple personalities? Am I schizophrenic?

I don’t think so.

Along the way, I have learned some things. The Lord showed me that He is very pleased by all the little things I do for my children, and that they are very important and significant. Even mundane things like changing diapers, giving baths, dressing them, feeding them, cleaning up their messes – all of the things we have to do as moms.

He spoke this to me personally, so that I would know it in my heart, not just my head.

He also told me that He delights in me. Again, He spoke this to me personally, so that I would know it was for me, not just a general statement for all mankind.

He has never reprimanded me for my messy house. He has never seemed disappointed in me when I finally return to Him in prayer after an absence of days or weeks or months. He has always just been happy to hear from me again, happy to have me back and lets me know that there is no condemnation from Him, just patient waiting for my return.

He doesn’t expect me to do more than I am capable of. He knows that I am just dust. He knows that I am selfish. He knows that I feel like I’m not as good as other moms at just about everything that is expected of moms.

But He doesn’t care about any of that. He delights in me. He spoke that to my heart one night in the year 2003. And since then, He has spoken it to me again many times through other people and in many different ways.

So I am convinced now that if the Creator of the Universe delights in me, I must be okay.

I don’t have to be good at anything. I just have to be his daughter and love Him. That’s all He wants from me. Because He loves me, I want to know Him and love Him. And I trust Him, and I obey Him. It’s that simple. It’s about being, not doing. I’m being His daughter. He made me so He could love me. I find this to be very profound. I don’t have to earn His love – in fact, I can’t. Nobody can. He set it up so that He gives us everything. All He wants from us is our love and faith.

The life that we live each day flows from this. Knowing His love for us and growing in our love and faith in Him.

In the words of the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about. 🙂

ownyourlifebook not perfect

In her book, Own Your Life, Sally Clarkson calls this “owning your life”. Each of us has our own cup. God has given each of us our own life, and we need to accept it as it is and make the best of it. Which means that we really make it the best it can be. We do whatever it takes to live the best life we can and become the best version of “me” that we can be.

Circumstances change. Trials come and go. Things stay messy and chaotic, since circumstances change and trials come and go.

I am still not perfect. But I can see some improvement. I have learned a few things.

The things I have learned have helped me to stop comparing myself to others, to stop expecting too much from myself and others, and to focus on the things that matter most – the eternal things. The things that make life worth living.

Relationships.

Enjoying life.

Loving my family well.

Fulfilling my calling of motherhood, being a loving wife, and discipling the ones He has given me.

Pouring out my life for them in my imperfect way with my imperfect love that I can’t even feel at times.

This will not make me famous or popular or rich.

But I know a secret.

I’m making my Daddy proud. He dances over me. He sings over me. He delights in me.

And that’s all that matters.

Bringing in the New Year Douglas Style

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Owning my life means “living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love,” according to Sally Clarkson.

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She wrote this book Own Your Life to help moms develop a vision for living a life of purpose by finding out what God’s purpose is for their life, accepting whatever that purpose or calling is and carrying it out in a joyful, intentional, life-giving way.

 

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This large family of mine is a big part of God’s purpose for my life. Being a wife and mother is a big role to fulfill. I can only do it well as I rely on God’s guidance and strength. Doing it well includes being joyful and loving and gentle as I carry out my responsibilities. That is where I need the most supernatural help.

 

Speaking of responsibilities – this son, Morgan Keith, will now be taking modeling and acting classes. We took him to an audition and he was called back because they saw potential in him. I will do my best to help him fulfill his dreams and purpose for which God made and equipped him.

 

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This son, Patrick, just made his first sale. I have been doing the best I can to help him further his new career and develop the gifts that God has given him.

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This son, Shawn, was just offered his first full-time job, which he accepted, and he loves!!! I am committed to supporting him in whatever way I can so that he can continue to do a great job in this place of employment and any other endeavors that he undertakes.

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Another part of owning my life is creating a beautiful home for my family. The atmosphere is important. The sights and sounds and aromas of home will stay with my children forever. I will be intentional about creating a lovely place, with a peaceful, happy atmosphere so that my children will have fond memories and feel secure and content and have warm thoughts and feelings about home and family.

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IMG_20141215_074128Part of creating memories is keeping traditions for the holidays. We like to have a beautiful Christmas tree, a beautiful mantel including our favorite  manger scene and stockings that can be stuffed to overflowing!

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IMG_20150110_115954The biggest part of our role as parents is to make sure that our children know about God and know Him for themselves. Gary is reading the Christmas story from the Bible (on his phone!) before we open stockings or presents or anything on Christmas morning.

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We are teaching our children patience as they wait for their siblings to get up and wait to open presents. This is Emma waiting patiently. She was the first one up, and she had to wait for several hours before she got to open presents.

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Good things come to those who wait!IMG_20150110_115840

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We postponed our Christmas until Jan. 10. There were many reasons for this. One of them was that Shawn wanted time to get gifts for everybody this year. He really enjoyed buying gifts for all of us, and he said giving was his favorite part of Christmas this year. Here he is holding up his favorite gift, the One New Man Bible.IMG_20150110_121936

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Abby liked the pink camo backpack that her big brother gave her.IMG_20150110_122130

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And Morgan was happy with the grooming kit that he received from Shawn.

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Kelsey is holding and wearing her gifts.IMG_20150110_164039

Kelsey USED her gifts to make the German Chocolate cake, the Confetti cake and the Strawberry cake.

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Each of the FIVE birthday celebrants chose a different kind of cake, so we had FIVE different cakes!

Another part of making life fun and celebrating the gifts, talents, and uniqueness of each child is celebrating and encouraging their creativity. And Fiona is FULL of creativity. She made up a story about this little doggy, Boo. The story involves a Good Plan and an Evil Plan that Boo has to choose between. Fiona drew them on two pieces of paper. I found the papers and asked what they were about and then took pictures of it to encourage and validate Fiona’s creativity.IMG_20150109_171455

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Without any prompting from me, the kids made birthday cards for each other. Here Garrett is making a card for Morgan.IMG_20150109_163623

IMG_20150109_171420Fiona made a card for each person whose birthday we were celebrating. This called for lots of drawing! She finds out each person’s favorite animal and draws it for them. She just turned 11 years old. On this day, Jan. 10th!

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This was something I found in the play room one day right before Christmas, so I took a picture of it. When the kids see me take a picture of something they did, they know I think it’s very clever and special, and they feel encouraged to keep using their creativity.

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Having five birthdays within the first two weeks of January is – – A LOT to celebrate. So I decided we should add Christmas to the mix and really have a BIG, BIG PARTY. So we did. We had Christmas in the morning and the BIG Birthday party that same evening.


Anna didn’t seem to want her picture taken.IMG_20150110_164929

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Ha! Got her!IMG_20150110_164047

Emma had chosen a Confetti cake.

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We sang Happy Birthday to her first and she blew out her candles.

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Then we sang Happy Birthday to GarrettIMG_20150110_164318

And he blew out his candles. He had the German Chocolate cake.

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Then we sang Happy Birthday to Fiona, and she blew out her candles. Fiona had our famous Hot Fudge Pudding cake.

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Then we sang Happy Birthday to Morgan, and he blew out his candles. He had a lemon cake.

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And last, but certainly not least, Shawn blew out the candles on his Strawberry cake.

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And I did not bake nary a cake!

 

Kelsey baked three of them, Katie made one and Anna made one. I just relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere, the fellowship, the love and the fruits of their labor.

 

Which I guess you might say is the fruits of my labor.

 

The fruits of “living with deep intention, bold faith and generous love”.

I linked this post at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up

And at A Wise Woman Builds Her House Link-Up