Category Archives: Family
Valentine’s Day isn’t just about flowers and chocolates. It’s about the giver understanding the receiver’s heart and the receiver understanding the giver’s heart. What may appear to be an “unromantic” gift to an outside observer could, in fact, be a sincere expression of the deepest love.
For those of you who gave or received Valentine’s gifts, don’t worry; I’m not going all Scrooge on Valentine’s Day. I’ve had some very romantic ones. But there is more to love than just meeting society’s expectations one day out of the year.
My husband didn’t get me flowers or chocolates for Valentine’s Day this year; he got me an ankle brace. He didn’t get flowers because, even though I adore flowers, my allergies were acting up and the flowers would have exacerbated my already compromised immune system. He didn’t get me chocolate because he knew I was trying to lose weight for health reasons and chocolate would sabotage my struggling efforts. His love found expression in the ankle brace. Lightweight, discrete and comfortable. Two weeks ago I severely sprained my ankle for the second time in as many months. My dear husband knew that hobbling around in an air cast not only drew unwanted attention, but wreaked havoc with my high-strung ADD personality. His unusual gift gave me freedom and comfort.
But you could have gotten that yourself, some may say. The point is I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to get out in the cold and wet and struggle through Walmart in an air cast. I merely shed my limitations and gained my mobility again to race at breakneck speed through my already busy day, thanks to the thoughtful and timely intervention of my husband.
Plus, when I got home the kitchen was clean and the laundry folded and put away. If cooking is the way to a man’s heart, a clean house is the way to a woman’s. Coming home to a clean house is better than a pedicure!
During teacher in service this year, we participated in an unusual activity designed to make us more aware of our students needs. During the course of the simulation, I had to role play the part of a stay-at-home mother.
Unfortunately the simulation did not describe me as a “stay-at-home” mother; it designated me as “unemployed.”
Unemployed. A mother who chooses to stay at home with her children is now considered “unemployed?” When did our culture become so materialistic that we must force mothers to abandon their roles as homemakers to become wage earners?
I grew up in a family where Mom had to work to make ends meet. My dad couldn’t work due to health reasons, so Mom had to put food on the table. Fortunately, she didn’t have to be at work until 8:30 and was home by 4:30ish every day since she worked at the courthouse. She was able to make sure we were up and ready for school and got home pretty much shortly after we did. Minimal “latchkey” kid syndrome. Still, many of the things associated with moms being at home were missing—no tray of fresh baked cookies every day waiting on us with a glass of milk after school, no being there for every program/activity we participated in during school hours, etc.
However, the biggest issue overlooked by feminists and women’s movement proponents were that moms who worked outside the home didn’t have any help with work in the home. You see the movers and the shakers who insisted that the only way to be empowered as a woman was to work outside the home didn’t take into consideration that all the work done inside the home would be done by the mother, as well. And she didn’t have time or energy because she was working outside the home.
We still deal with this issue. Mothers forced to work in the public to make ends meet, or achieve a sense of fulfillment, or to still the niggling voices of belittlement still find themselves trying to juggle both the workplace and home chores, so we find ourselves with fractured families and exhausted, stressed, guilt-ridden mothers.
I’m not saying women can’t find fulfillment in the workplace, but we should never denigrate those courageous women who choose to stay home and be a full time wife and mother. They are the hardest workers, who receive no monetary reimbursement for their work, no overtime, no sick leave, and no vacation. Any mother can tell you she works harder, longer hours, and multitasks at a variety of “vocations” that make her irreplaceable.
Don’t call her “unemployed.”
For the past several weeks, my husband and I have been struggling with the crushing burden of the usual life issues: health insurance companies that won’t pay on claims, medical debt, worry over college tuition, broken down cars, and the thousand and one little things like buying groceries that seem to overwhelm and suck the life force right out of us.
We’ve wallowed in misery and self pity and had fear gnawing at our souls about how are we going to live and get by and when do we start breathing again without wondering if we can pay the next bill.
A simple song posted by our son on Facebook completely changed my perspective and made me realize anew what truly matters.
Last year our little country church built a new sanctuary to replace the termite ridden almost 100-year-old frame building. Before the building was complete, my family gathered in the structure and spent some time just singing hymns acapella. Sounds weird, I know, but throughout the years our family has enjoyed doing weird things to bond—like board games, listening to Prairie Home Companion on long road trips, watching video games together, etc. So spending 30 or so minutes just singing familiar hymns in the almost completed sanctuary was great family time.
Who knew a year later, when our son posted the recording of one of those songs along with our church building on his Facebook page it would encourage his parents so much? But it did. I mentioned to my husband that the song exemplified our life, our purpose, and our ministry. It could very well have been our family motto, “Little is much when God is in it.”
Listening to the song as our family’s voices blended together in harmony and beauty made me realize that all those things I worried and fretted over really didn’t matter in the long run. What is truly important is the love our family has for each other, the encouragement and support we give each other, and our faith in an eternal God who watches over and cares for us.
Having faith doesn’t mean life will be easy or that we will never experience hardship and trouble. It does mean that we have something to hold on to when the world is crumbling beneath our feet. Keeping my focus on the eternal doesn’t negate what I must deal with in the present, but it does provide a peace that “passes all understanding,” and a grace to deal with life with inexplicable strength and wisdom.
Faith in Christ is the foundation for life. There will always be storms, and tempests, winds and waves, destruction and pestilence. How we endure those situations depends on our foundation. The simple song—and the priceless gift my son gave in recording it—reminded me that I have a sure foundation and that life can never, ever defeat the One who holds me in His hands.