What Are You Known For?

A few nights ago, as I tucked my almost 7 year old daughter into bed, she engaged her usual stall tactic as I headed to her bedroom door.  She has a knack for asking deep questions at bedtime, although come to think of it, I’m not sure it’s as much a stall tactic as just her natural inclination.  Anyway, she stops me in my tracks with the question “Mom, what are you known for?”

Now, my sweet girl did not know that this is just the question I’ve been struggling with again lately.  You see, I really hate to admit it because I KNOW, comparisons are bad and unnecessary and a sucking black vortex into discontent, but I do fall into the comparison trap much more than I would like.  I find that social media can be a snare for me when I find myself in that place, especially Ye Olde Facebook.  I love to read blogs, and typically the ones I read are by women that encourage me in my faith in Christ and inspire me to step out on faith and change my perspective in a variety of ways. Yet those same women that encourage me on one blog earlier in the week can often be the same women I compare myself to later in the week.  A series of photos or status updates by people on Facebook that I am friends/acquaintances with can send me into a vulnerable flurry of doubts if I’m already feeling down, discouraged, frustrated, or just having an “off” day.

So this leads back to the question “What are you known for?”  I had been struggling because I was buying the lie our culture tells, both purposefully and accidentally at times, that being a mom isn’t enough.  That I need to be a mom AND have a career, that I need to be a mom AND an athlete, that I need to be a mom AND be recognized for whatever else pops into my head at the moment.  And ironically, when I’m not stressed or discouraged (and even sometimes when I am), I’m one of the first people to remind other women that being a mom is a calling.  For real- A CALLING.  I think we as moms often find ourselves downplaying the importance of what we do because we share the motherhood status with so many other women.  At least, I’ve found myself in that place.  There is truth that it is hard to feel something is special when it is common. But you know?  While motherhood may be a common, everyday role, it is also exciting, extraordinary, and yes, special.  Because not one of us, not one, parents exactly the same way, with exactly the same kids, in exactly the same circumstances.  God absolutely positively chose me to be the mother to my children, fitting us together to complete part of His puzzle.  Another mom would not fit in the exact way needed.  And if you are a mom reading this, He chose you in the same way.  Ironically, I feel entirely fulfilled in being a stay-at-home-mom who happens to also homeschool my children.  At least, I feel fulfilled until I let myself buy into that terrible lie that I shouldn’t be, that I should want more.

When my daughter asked the question, the first thing that popped into my head and out of my mouth was “I suppose I’m known for being your mom.”  She asked “What else?”, so I added that I enjoy writing and since I had something I had written published, that that could qualify (not that many beyond those close to me know that, but anyway).  But as I turned to head out of her room, I realized I was answering the question wrong.  I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want to be known for something sometimes.  Yet ultimately, I want to be known as a follower of Jesus.  I want HIM to be known.  And I want whatever gifts He has given me to glorify Him, not just serve as a well-liked status update or a chance to bask in a brief moment of glory.  And I took a minute more to tell her that.  Because if she can get that idea down now, on the cusp of turning 7, then her focus will be less on herself and more on Him- something her mama is working on.

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Stirring up and settling in…

God has been working on me.  A lot.  I could almost stop this post right there.  (Ha, some of you would probably like that!).  Anyway,  I have been blogging off and on about our adventure in listing our house for sale and our subsequent discovery of a beautiful, run-down and worn-out pre-foreclosure that my heart has been longing for ever since I laid eyes on it.  And, therein has been the problem.  I think my heart started longing for it a bit too much.

When we listed our house, it was entirely on a whim.  I have a crazy habit of scrolling through realtor.com to look at what is out there, especially as I have been bitten by the DIY/decorating bug in the past couple of years.  We noticed that there were some homes that were larger than ours for the same amount of money (or a little bit less) thanks to the sadly booming short sale/foreclosure market.  Will and I did put some prayer into it and felt like we should just give it a shot and see what God does- a couple of days later we talked with the agent whom we worked with on selling our last home and voila!, we had entered MLS territory.

What started as an informal adventure grew into an ache and desire to somehow acquire this home that Will and I both felt was like our dream home.  It wasn’t normally what I would have pictured for myself, and it needs an incredible amount of work, but the potential is enormous and the location would be perfect for our family.  Since it is located in a neighborhood across the street from our church, we would often go by and pray over the house and for whomever is meant to live there, be it us or another family. I had it planned out in my mind’s eye- the front and back yards, the beautiful front room with the two bay windows, a room for homeschooling…knowing how attached I was becoming to the house, I also began praying that God would help me keep my desires in check and remove them altogether if need be.

All that to say– one day, six and a half months into the process of having our home listed, I was outside pushing my 1 1/2 year old in the swing under our big, beautiful old oak tree in the backyard.  My 3 1/2 year old was sitting on the bench swinging her legs and waiting for her turn.  I drank in the moment with all five of my senses and felt contentment wash over me.  I felt something lift inside, and knew then and there that God has answered my prayer.  Not in the way I wanted, but in the way I needed.  While I still love the house that we had been praying over and I would still love to live there, my overwhelming desire for it is gone.

It’s ironic, because before we started this process, I was reading Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life– I even wrote a post on it here.  There was an anecdote he shared that has stuck with me, and I remember thinking about it after we listed our house and vowing to keep it in mind.  It was the story of a farmer who decided to put his farm up for sale.  After he wrote out the ad describing his property, he sat for a moment, realizing that he already had everything he was looking for.

When we bought our current home, we were aware that it wasn’t in the middle of town. We knew that sometimes the 20 minutes down I-40 to get to town would feel inconvenient and longer than it really is, especially with two young children.  And we knew that there were things we would someday want to change about the house- like adding on a sunroom or screened porch, adding on more square footage for our bedroom and bathroom, and so forth.  But, we also knew we loved our lot- it is surrounded by old oak trees, other hardwoods, a very nice size, not too close to neighbors, and our house is situated on a small, pretty hill.  We can easily see the stars and it is quiet enough that I can hear the orchestra of a myriad of creatures at night.  It is a small neighborhood with just one street that ends with a cul-de-sac.  The house is quite pretty, isn’t cookie-cutter, and is certainly large enough for our needs, especially with our current family of 4, and will be large enough whenever we grow to five (God-willing).

So yes, it is still for sale, for another month or so.  But I’ve settled into it in a whole new way, and more importantly, this process has helped me settle into God’s will in a whole new way as well.  It’s been painful at times, but He’s using it for good.