“But… This isn’t what I imagined!”

When I was a little girl – a very little girl – I loved playing with dolls. My sister and I would set up our bedroom, dress our dolls in their prettiest dresses or comfiest pajamas, and play at being ‘Mother.’ Both of us were almost always at the point where we had been married for two years and had ‘birthed’ our ‘daughters’ on the same day – or, at least, in the same week. We played at changing diapers, feeding, and rocking our children to sleep. We went shopping and made dinner. And, if you asked us, we were each about twenty-years-old.

Fast-forward six or seven years. My sister and I still played at being Mother sometimes, but another of our games we called “Orphanage.” (No, we weren’t very original! You should have heard a few of the names we gave our stuffed animals!) Often, my role in this game, was to go to an ‘orphanage.’ (Read; as many dolls as we could pull together in one place.) I would go in and end up decided to adopt every one. My sister was the overly delighted or not-so-delighted, as the case may be, orphanage owner. Sometimes, I was ‘married’ and, other times, I was engaged. And the age of this new parent? Sometimes I was seventeen (a favorite age of mine) and sometimes I was about twenty.

Fast-forward a bit more. At about seventeen, in real time, I had begun to dream more seriously about publishing, at least, one book. One of my dreams showed me polishing and preparing my manuscript, while caring for my husband’s house and rejoicing over my new baby. I pictured myself anywhere from nineteen to twenty-three.

Fast-forward once more to current time, to compare my dreams of being a very young wife and mother, to reality.

In less than one short hour, I will be twenty-five. I’m neither married nor have any prospect of being so, at this point. Consequently, I don’t have any children either. I am an author. At twenty-five, I can claim four published books to my name, with many more in progress. That part of the dream came true. The rest hasn’t.

My point?

Do you know how much I have wanted to react? To ask God, why? To say, “LORD, what I wanted most, all of my life, was to be a young wife and mother. I wanted to be an author, but that was secondary. Couldn’t you see that? Why didn’t you grant it?”

Now, twenty-five isn’t exactly ancient, I know. Just twenty-four feels like it sometimes, but it’s really not. The trouble is, all of my life, I had dreamed that, by the time I reached tomorrow, I would be married with, at least, one child. And I won’t be. Not unless that were to happen in the next 38min. And I seriously doubt it.

And I’ve wanted to ask why? Or rather demand why. I’ve wanted to be upset, because I didn’t get what I wanted.

But… There’s something I had forgotten. Or, if I didn’t really forget, I temporarily put it out of mind.

God is sovereign. God is in control. He is on the throne and He knows what He is doing.

I tend to remember very well that He can do anything, but I tend to forget that He has his reasons for doing what He does.

He let me have those dreams, I don’t know why. But He has a purpose for them. And, yes, I would trade being an author, trade each of my published works, to be a wife and mother, any day. But He knows what He’s doing. He is God and I am not.

I, on the other hand, am called to be content. (1 Timothy 6:6, Hebrews 13:5) And to rejoice. (Philippians 3:1, Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16)

If I am content and rejoicing in the LORD, even in trials, (James 1:2-4) will I question my LORD? Add to that, the call to give thanks. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I am far from perfect at any of these. In fact, I’m really talking to myself here. I am, with much prayer, however, working on it.

Do I still dream? No, not really like I used to. Do I still hope that dreams of yesterday may still be realized, just at a later time period than I imagined? Yes, quite.

The clock is ticking. Midnight is coming. I hope and pray that my year as a twenty-five-year-old is marked by contentment, trust in the LORD, join in Him, and service in His name. I can’t do it by myself – God help me remember that. I’m so thankful that I don’t even have to!

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

 

To the KING be all the glory!

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~You can do it! Keep trying!

I’ve said these word a lot lately. A certain sweet girl kept telling me that she couldn’t conquer while she struggled with reading.

“I can’t do it,” she would say in a defeated tone, setting down her work and letting her shoulders droop.

“Yes, you can do it,” I answered. “I know you can do it. Keep trying!”

She tends to listen, try again, go for awhile, say she can’t, listen to me again, try again – over and over. She is making progress and that is wonderful to watch.

One of the lovely, yet difficult things I’ve discovered about children, is that whatever you preach to them, seems to come back to get you before long. Like the day that I had them practicing gratefulness, then found myself being served my least favorite food for supper.

But that’s another post.

As I said, my continual refrain of late has been to tell them that they can do things, when they want to quit. Nothing really impossible. Just things that require a little more work than they might feel like they can give it. I’ve said it to several children, but especially one, countless times over the last several weeks. As many times as I’ve said it, I should have expected to be tested on it. I didn’t even consider it.

Not until those children decided they wanted to get me up on a bicycle.

I never did learn to ride nor had I ever even owned a bicycle. I tried for about ten minutes when I was eleven, fell off twice, and never tried again. I had few opportunities, yes, but I didn’t take advantage of the ones I had. Honestly, I didn’t want to get hurt or, worse, fail.

The Marr children have been learning to ride lately and they decided that they want me to learn too. I demurred for awhile, but I had told them about my short trial at eleven. They decided that I should learn now. Then, the same sweet girl who struggles with reading, asked, “Don’t you think you can do it, Rebekah? You should try. I think you can!”

What could I say to that? The bicycle still intimidated me, but how could I use that as a sufficient excuse?

So, I went outside, and got up on the bicycle.

Goodness, were those children excited! My stomach dropped when I looked down at the wheels and handlebars. I tried to steady the bike – and failed. Rosy held it steady, while I pedaled. She held on until I got going, then let me on my own.

I had to restart myself about six times in a quarter of an hour or so. I kept going though, not doing too horribly… until I slammed into a post and went flying through the air, before crashing to the ground. Lesson done for the day.

While tempted to quite altogether, the next afternoon, listening to the begging and cheering of my young teachers, I climbed onto the bicycle again. This time, Lizzie held the bike steady.

By the third day of practice, Lizzie could let go entirely, and I could, with some difficulty, get myself going. Today, no one helped me at all, besides begging me to ride and cheering me on. They take great joy in watching me learn to ride.

Hopefully, I’m learning more than how to ride a bicycle. Not only has this been a good reminder to be willing to practice what I preach, it’s also a good personal reminder, that a little extra hard work and perseverance despite difficulties will eventually be rewarded, be with the ability to read anything or ride a bicycle. In the long run, taking an entire minute to sound out a word or putting up with bruises for a few days when you fall off the bike will be rewarded if you keep going in spite of them.

To the KING be all the glory!

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~The Reality of Fantasy…

imageI’m staying with the Marr family again. I’ve been here for three weeks now. Over that, actually. This is my fourth visit in two years. When I first came, there were six little ones and, as of last week, there are now eight Marr youngsters, ages eleven and under.

I always dreamed of being a part of a large family with many siblings close in age. Even as a little girl, I used to imagine I had many more siblings than I did. As I got older, that dream translated to a hoped for future, where I might get to be the mother of large brood of children close in age. Here, I get to see first hand what that dream would look like. I get to see the sibling interaction, the parental interaction, and, when Mama resting after Baby came and Daddy is at work, I get a taste of what it’s like to be in charge of a bunch of little people.

It takes a lot of work to run a house and direct seven children throughout the day. Work of all kinds. Physical work as I make meals, wash laundry, sweep floors, rock a tired child, chase a curious one, bake bread, or clean the kitchen. Mental work as I answer questions about the identity of Andy’s newest lizard pet, Rosy’s school assignment, tell Lizzie a story from my childhood, or explain to Gracie what I think a Scripture verse means. Emotional work as circumstances arise and I find the need to correct or reprove wrong behavior, as I try to continue answering questions even after the subject (in my opinion) has gone beyond beating a dead horse, as I struggle to know exactly how to explain what I believe about something and why, or when, no matter what I do, Philip just can’t seem to help crying unless I’m either holding him or I’m right within his view because he doesn’t feel well and doesn’t know what to do with himself. It takes all kinds of work, in no particular order, throughout the day. Every day.

It wears you out. I go to my room at night, collapse into bed, and fall asleep earlier than I think I should need to. Or I imagine things that I’ll accomplish after supper is over, only to decide that sitting down to read or write is, at least, productive in its way and I can sit while I do it.

The work doesn’t quite ever end. It will keep going much longer than I’ll ever have energy for.

You can plan, but better not plan too strictly. Children can manage to cause approximately sixty distractions, of various kinds and demands, every hour. Which means, that project that I expected to take ten minutes, might take more like an hour and a half. Just getting a cup of coffee or tea made might end up taking all morning.

The last thing I’ve learned though? I love it.

I love these children and I love the experience. Yes, I get exhausted. Yes, I’ve come to a point once or twice where crying seemed preferable to chasing down the baby or trying to get the floor swept or the next meal ready. But I wouldn’t trade the days I get to spend here for almost anything. I love hearing about Andy’s newest discovery, seeing Bekah’s eyes light up when I ask her to help me with a project, getting running hugs from Philip, talking about random things with Rosy, making Ruthie smile, explaining things to Gracie, laughing with Lizzie, or cuddling Susannah. I love singing with them, showing them how to do new things, or reading the Bible while we all try to crowd as many of us as possible onto one couch. I love their cheers of joy over such simple things like when I promise to grill their sandwiches for lunch or tell them the next popsicle flavor I want to try or pull out the next episode of Jonathan Park to listen to. I love watching them work and play and laugh and live together.

Oh, it’s not perfect. That fantasy of childhood and early adulthood has lost some of its rose colored hue. It’s a lot of work and children aren’t perfect. And I’m not even a parent here. I’m more like an older sister. I don’t do all the work, obviously, since their parents do a lot. I’m just a helper. I’m not perfect either. The fantasy now has more of the harsh lines and sharp corners of reality showing, but somehow that just makes it sweeter.

Do I still dream about a family of children some day? The other day, someone commented about me helping out here, and followed it up by asking me how many children I hoped for some day. My answer came rather quickly. Fourteen.

Now, I have no idea what the LORD plans, but, yes, that is still my dream. Even with all the work and weariness and everything else that comes with it. And I know it’s more of everything when you’re the parent. It’s long term and more intense. I know that. I still pray that I’ll get to experience it one day with a family of my own. That someday, my fantasy will become a reality, if it’s His will.

To the KING be all the glory!

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~On My Knees – A Song

My sister Bethany and I recorded one of my songs, On My Knees, about a week ago. I wrote this song back in 2009, when our family as well as a few others that we knew, were going through a rough time. I got the inspiration from Isaiah 41:10, which I used as the chorus of the song. Mum says this is one of her favorites out of all the ones that I’ve written, and I have written quite a few now! I pray it can be a blessing to others who hear it.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

To the KING be all the glory!

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~Immersion

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As an author, I try to often be studying my craft, so that I can strive to be the best writer possible. Sometimes this means spending hours in thought over certain aspects or principles that I am trying to implement or comprehend. At other times, it means reading what others have to say about writing or studying what others did right or wrong in their own works by picking them apart while I read them. (Have I mentioned lately the genius of Mr. Dickens, the fascination of Mr. Tolkien, or the charm of Agatha Christie??)

As I study these things, trying to push myself to greater excellence, I find that I analyze more and more. I can’t just watch a film or read a book without measuring character arcs, critiquing the storyline, and judging the motives behind the character’s actions.

The more I immerse myself in the knowledge of story excellence, the less willing I am to just accept any ol’ storyline unquestioned and the more likely I am to measure every tale by a standard of quality, to see how it measures up.

When I was considering this, it dawned on me. This isn’t merely true of writing. This principle applies to far, far more.

It’s good to recognize poor story-telling and weak protagonists. I plan to continuing working on that. Still, what happens if I apply the same principle to higher, more important things?

When I immerse myself in the Word of God, reading my Bible and talking to the LORD, my spiritual radar goes up, just like my story excellence radar. I begin to more easily recognize those things which are contrary to the nature of the LORD and His law, both in my own life and in the world around me, as well as in the many worlds of fiction that I may enter.

On a related note, problems can arise, if I enjoy the written studies over those of God’s Word. If I prefer to read about character arcs instead of memorizing Scripture. When I decide to puzzle out the best way to structure scenes, instead of talking to the LORD.

One is my natural bent. The other includes war. I need no invite to study writing; I gravitate toward it with no difficulty. My Bible, however, can easily be ignored if I listen to my flesh; the flesh that invents a dozen excuses for why I had better “wait until later.” Yet, when I immerse myself in the Scriptures, draw near to God by talking to Him and listening to His voice, then I’m not only more spiritually aware, I am far more at peace and fulfilled.

My prayer is that, while struggling to perfect my craft, I will never loose sight of what should be my true priority; focusing on the LORD and increasing my knowledge of Him. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

Knowledge of writing excellence is worth nothing, if not used to glorify the LORD. If used properly, it can be a mighty tool. If wrongly, it can be little better than a distraction.

No matter what our work is, be it writing, engineering, musical composition, singing, architecture, or the every day duties of the house, let us continue to study our craft, tempered with more liberal amounts of study in God’s Word and time spent with the LORD. That way we can, prayerfully, glorify the LORD by doing our best in all things, while remembering Who to put first.

To the KING be all the glory!

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