One Saturday, as GraceAnna and I were on our way to a women’s conference where I had been asked to teach on forgiveness, I was having trouble forgiving someone. As we drove, tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was trying to stop them and I was thinking ~ how can I teach?
See, I didn’t want to leave my home that day. All five of my children were home ~ even my big boys who had been away at college ~ it was Fall Break for both of them and I was leaving. How stupid could I be for accepting the invitation to teach at a women’s conference on the same weekend both my boys would be home?
When I accepted the invitation, I didn’t know the boys’ fall break would fall on the same weekend. I should have known. I should have figured. But I didn’t know. I didn’t figure. I was angry with me for not knowing. I was angry with me for not figuring. And I was having trouble forgiving me. I was beating myself up.
A few years ago, God began to open my eyes as He showed me how selfish I was. I was focusing solely on my own home, my own husband and my own children even when I knew I should extend my boundaries a little. Carl and some godly women in our church told me that it was time. Carl told me that I should allow God to stretch me beyond the walls of my home and the walls of nursery and children’s classes at church. He told me that I should teach women, too. I wanted God to use me, yes, but I was scared. Women can be a funny bunch. They evaluate and criticize. They might say, “Who is she to be teaching us?” See, when you love children, they love you, period. Even when you tell them the truth.
So there I was off to Savannah on that Saturday to speak to a group of women.
Just before I left, I saw Jordan in the laundry room. He looked so handsome in his camouflage ~ Carl and our boys had been hunting that morning. He looked at me and asked, “Where are you going?” I reminded him about the women’s conference and apologized for leaving. I told him I’d be back about 2:30. He said, “Mom, I’ll be praying for you.”
His words echoed in my heart as GraceAnna and I headed to the conference. My own daughter told me that she was looking forward to hearing me teach. I was encouraged by their words but it did not erase the homesick feeling in my heart.
As I apologized again the next day, Jordan told me that I beat myself up too much. He told me that I take too much to heart. I guess he’s right. God has used him greatly in my life.
I looked at him. Then I told him that I only had one major regret in raising him. He knew the regret because he has seen me cry over it. When he was a little boy, I kept him in a Mother’s Day Out program when he begged me to let him out early. He so wanted to be with me.
I still remember, in living color, the last day when he cried as I was leaving him. He was crying his eyes out. He was only three and a half years old. The teachers assured me that he would be fine. I drove away but my heart was heavy. I must have traveled about 10 miles when a question loomed in my head, “What is it that I have to do today that Jordan can’t come with me?”
The next thing I knew, I was turning the car around and I was heading back to the church. When I arrived, my little Jordan was still crying.
My heart broke, but when he saw me, his face lit up. He struggled to get out of the teacher’s grasp and he ran to me with his arms outstretched. It was clear that he wanted no one but me. I was his favorite girl, not the teachers.
I scooped him up and as he wrapped his arms around my neck, he exclaimed, “You came back, you came back, you came back.” My hair absorbed the tears on his face. He couldn’t believe I had come back.
Those earlier days, I hadn’t heard his cries ~ all I had heard were the cries of the world. “I deserved a break ~ in fact, I deserved more than a break, I deserved a big chunk of time away from my children every week, in fact, I needed it to be a good mother. The lines I heard were these, ‘This is good for him, he’ll get used to it. And blah, blah, blah’”
I didn’t need it and he didn’t get used to it. But for weeks before that one morning, I didn’t hear the cries of my son. Oh I heard them but I didn’t listen.
I still cannot write about it or talk about it without crying. God used the cries of my son to speak to me. He still does.
I have come to realize that although I didn’t hear the cries of my son, God did. Just like He did thousands of years before when He heard the cries of another boy, another son. It was the time when Abraham had sent Hagar and her son away. She was wandering in a desert and she was desperate, she thought her son would die, and her only wish was that she wouldn’t have to see him die. Her son cried ~
And God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand; for I will make a great nation of him.”
Jordan now tells me, “Mom, don’t beat yourself up over that. It was good for me.” His words have played over and over in my heart ~ not so much because of what he said, but because of how he said it. It was not so much the words I heard but the compassion in his voice.
Jordan, my baby, my second-born. I miss him so much.
Yes, he left home this year. Went to college. He was here for Fall Break, then left again. I made cookies. I hugged him hard in his truck. So hard, he said, “Mom, my jaw . . .”
And now I ponder. I treasure. I wonder.
I’ve been doing that a long time. So much of me is so much of Jordan.
Jordan came along almost two years after his older brother. I remember I was so thrilled when I learned that God had begun weaving another baby together in my womb. The first was a miracle, now a second? I was humbled at the goodness of God.
My mind raced back to my wedding night. Carl and I got down on our knees by the bed as we committed our life and marriage to Him. We asked Him not to give us children if we would not be faithful to raise them in the way of righteousness as Proverbs 22 teaches. We asked God that if He did indeed bless our lives with children that they would grow to trust Him early in life, that they would love Him with all their hearts and that He would keep us from being stumbling blocks before them.
Little did I know then what the years would bring.
See, three weeks before my wedding, I was rushed to the hospital where the doctor found a medical problem that had the potential to make me barren, especially if we “put off” having children the way, as he said, “most newly married couples are advised.”
He didn’t know that Carl and I both wanted God to control that area, along with all the other areas of our lives. The doctor said, “Good, because you don’t need to wait ~ that is ~ if you want children.”
If I want children? I couldn’t imagine NOT wanting children. As a little girl, I had three great loves: Lucky, our dog ~ she looked great in doll clothes; kittens ~ they constantly filled my lap; and dolls ~ I longed for dolls..
As a little girl, I had imagined many children. And my many children came to life in the form of dolls I wished for every Christmas. When I was growing up, Christmas was the only time my brothers, sister and I got new toys. So Christmas was BIG in my mind and I cherished, loved, and took care of each new doll I received. Every year I pined over the baby pages in the Sears or Penny’s Wish Books. Dolls filled my mind and my longings. And I couldn’t wait to see the little face, comb the hair, hold the precious little thing in my arms and take the baby everywhere.
After their “births” on Christmas Eve, for that’s when Santa delivered them, I would wake up early ~ sometimes 1, 2, 3 a.m., just to run into the living room and see all the stuff.
All the stuff, yes, but the only thing I really cared about was the baby. Had the baby arrived safely? After months of longing for a baby doll, my heart was overjoyed to finally see and hold the dolls that I had only seen in pictures.
It’s funny, but as I write these words, I am reminded that God delivered my first real baby on Christmas Eve. Funny, yes ~ but really it is fitting. Makes me wonder about all the details God weaves into His master plan.
Well, I took my dolls everywhere. After I did, my mom noticed how I needed a bag to carry all the stuff babies need. See, I not only carried the dolls, but I carried the clothes, the bottles, the baby toys, the bibs. I set up the high chair, the crib, the bath all over the house and sometimes the car. One day, and it wasn’t even Christmas, my mom gave one of her nurses’ bags to me. It was black with two handles and a flop-over top. It had pockets on the front. I thought it was beautiful.
I had seen her carry around syringes, bandages, and all sorts of medical supplies. I knew her nurses’ bag was incredibly important to her and now she was giving it to me. She was giving it to me for NO REASON ~ it wasn’t even my birthday. She gave it to me because my dolls were important to her. And the reason my dolls were important to her is because I was important to her.
I was thrilled with that bag. I had my babies and I had a bag. What more did I need? Grown-ups sometimes asked me, “Why do you bring your dolls everywhere? Why don’t you leave them at home? Aren’t you tired of lugging them around all the time?”
I didn’t understand the questions. I loved my babies. They seemed like a part of me. Why wouldn’t I bring them everywhere? What was it that I had to do that I couldn’t bring them with me?
Years passed. I grew.
I did begin leaving my dolls . . . and one day I left home. Went to college. Didn’t think about my dolls much any more. In fact, to admit that I had been a doll-lover, that my favorite childhood game had been “playing house,” that I had an imaginary husband who was “off at war” (there had to be a reason in the ‘60’s why he wasn’t there), that I really wanted to one day marry a good man, have babies and keep house ~ to admit all those things was not cool. In fact, it was sissy. And I wonder now, since when was being sissy a bad thing for a girl?
Well, I couldn’t deny it ~ all those things were true of me. And even though it would have been much more cool to say I had been a tomboy, I couldn’t say it. Oh, I like to play outside ~ still do. I played house outside. I took my dolls outside, I mothered kittens outside, I ran outside, I climbed trees (obviously outside), rode our pony, played football with my brothers (always with a doll in the stroller on the sidelines), built forts in the woods. But I was not a tomboy. But neither was I a bona fide sissy. I was a girl and it didn’t seem to me that I should be ashamed of being a girl and liking ‘girl-things.’
Well, I finished college, got my degree and somewhere, sometime along the way, I decided I really didn’t want to get married, at least not anytime soon. It wasn’t cool. In fact, it could be oppressive.
A thought emerged in my head. Marriage and children could hinder my own career goals of journalism and public health. I should put off marriage and children, perhaps never get married, never have children.
That sometime along the way happened before my senior year. As I grew more in love with the Lord, my career goals shifted. No longer was I pursuing a journalism or public health career, I was now pursuing a missionary career; a Christian career.
A funny thing happened ~ the more I pursued full-time Christian goals, the more it seemed that the “lesser” thing would be to get married, bear children, and keep house. Oh, it was OK for those women who were not intelligent, didn’t have clear goals, or were not highly educated. But for Christian women who were incredibly gifted ~ they shouldn’t be “tied down” to a man, children, or a home.
The message was clear. Those women whose lives really counted for God were those who were single for God, or childless for God. After all, didn’t Scripture teach singleness? And didn’t Scripture teach that single women care about the things of the Lord while married women care about the things of the world?
Well, I cared about the things of God. So just before my senior year at UNC, I said a tearful goodbye to a boy I always thought I’d marry. I then rearranged classes to fit in Russian language, Russian history, and ministry training to begin preparation for the mission field.
As I think on it now, I can see that I did not fully understand the teaching of 1 Corinthians 7. I didn’t understand the whole counsel of God concerning biblical womanhood or marriage or God’s plans. I was emerging into somewhat of a Christian feminist. I wouldn’t have used those words but that is exactly the direction I was headed.
God had other plans, however. He revived His heart within me. Although I didn’t know it, He was directing me one step at a time. He was moving the wrong man for me out of the way to bring in the right man. My pursuing missions allowed me to drop a relationship that had engulfed me.
Then another young man entered the scene. His name was Carl Broggi and he decided he wanted to marry me. To my surprise, I said yes. I didn’t really understand it. But I said yes. God turned my plans upside down. I was married in less than 9 months, had my first baby 18 months after my marriage.
I think about that now.
I ponder. I wonder.
And now I look at my five “hindrances” to the “careers” I could have had. And oh how I treasure the goodness of God. Singleness was not His plan for me although for some, that is His plan. Childlessness was not His plan for me although for some, that is His plan. The important thing is to pursue God with passion, to understand God’s Word concerning marriage, singleness, and children.
For me it’s now 21 years and 5 children later. Five children who open my eyes to God Who is beyond my wildest imagination. Two children already, so quickly, so “away.” Talking only on the phone. Seeing them every so often. Boys who used to climb in my bed in the middle of the night. Boys who used to grab me for bike rides, to build living room forts, to play outside, to come see their backyard campgrounds.
My girl, now sweet 16 who is putting aside her dolls already.
My 13-year-old son, taller than me now but he used to rub his blankie in the “good spot,” look around the corner at bedtime and say, “Rock, rock, Mommy?”
My 8-year-old son, now discussing Osama bin Laden, picking up pecans and selling them for his own little “business.” He’s my only child who still climbs in bed with me in the middle of the night.
Hmmm. I used to call my younger three “the little ones.” Even they are not so little.
You know, in the midst of living in a generation filled with unsettling world events like bombs dropping in Afghanistan, terrorism, and great uncertainty of the future ~ there is something incredibly refreshing in simple obedience to God . . . in doing a load of laundry, in watering plants, in teaching 2nd and 3rd graders great songs of the faith, in picking up pecans in the front yard, in cleaning a bathroom, in painting the faces of children at a pumpkin patch, in telling my husband I love him and I’m so honored to be his wife, in teaching number sentences and parts of speech to my little boy, in making cookies, in watching my girl love a rejected puppy, in hearing a grown son say, “Mom, I love you,” across the miles.
I can’t necessarily manage the world, but I can manage my own home. And in managing my own home, I have influence that is far reaching. Oh God, help me to see the value of every single moment.
I think on these things. My son Jordan has grown into a real man whom I respect. And I think Jordan is right. I beat myself up too much. I take too much to heart. But it was during this time of beating myself up and taking too much to heart that I think I really did get a glimpse of how Hagar must have felt after God heard her boy crying. The Scripture records: Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.
God was about to open my eyes and show me a well of water. See, I was cleaning out stuff and I found something ~ (one of the great things about not being as organized as I’d like to be is that I tend to be surprised when I clean out stuff.)
God opened my eyes to see a well. He filled my thirsty heart through the words of a letter I found penned by my boy, Jordan, some time ago. This is part of what it said:
Dear Mom,. . . Also, I just want you to know that everything that you do for me doesn’t go unnoticed. I thank God all the time for a mother who cares about me and isn’t just into her own “agenda.”Thanks for being such a great mom. I love you, Jordan
Thousands of years ago, in another generation, God used a woman’s son to show her a piece of His heart ~ God showed her a well that she had not seen before; and she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. This same God, in my generation, used my own son to show me a piece of His heart.
Reading Jordan’s letter, I cried my eyes out. I remembered the little face of a little boy many years ago who cried his eyes out simply because he wanted his mama to come back. Those years ago, I had come back. All these years, the pain of leaving him had crowded out the joy of coming back ~ now God was saying to me that though I hadn’t heard Jordan’s cries, He had. And He had caused me to go back. What was the matter with me? Why hadn’t I seen that?
I had come back. Suddenly, the regret was diminished in my mind. I had come back.
I smile, I ponder, I wonder, I cry. And I treasure his words in my heart, “Mom, don’t beat yourself up over that. It was good for me.” So, I stopped beating myself up. I forgave me. Not just for that day in Savannah but for that day so long ago when he was three. He is a good son. He will be a fine husband, a fine father, a great leader in his generation.
There is tremendous satisfaction in seeing the roots go deep. In passing on a faith. A real faith that is lived openly ~ with lots of failures. Honestly ~ with lots of confessions and apologies. And from the heart ~ even with a mom who takes too much to heart.
There is an old song that goes something like this . . . “You light up my life, you give me hope to carry on.” Hmmm. Yes, many years ago I was the one lighting up his little boy days and now, he lights up my old mama days.
So here I am at the end of another letter. What can I say? I can’t imagine life without God. He is so utterly good and He uses my children to remind me of the prayer of Moses recorded in Psalm 90. I’ve taken his prayer and made it personal.
A Prayer of Moses the Man of God.Lord, You have been my dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born, Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.3 You really do turn man back into dust, And You say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. 6 In the morning it flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away.7 For I have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath I have been dismayed. 8 You have placed my iniquities before You, My secret sins in the light of Your presence.9 For all my days have declined in Your fury; I will finish my years like a sigh. 10 As for the days of my life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet the years of my life are but labor and sorrow; For soon it will be gone and I will fly away.11 Who understands the power of Your anger, And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?12 So teach me to number my days, That I may present to You a heart of wisdom. 13 Do return, O Lord; how long will it be? And be sorry for me, Your servant.14 O satisfy me in the morning with Your lovingkindness, That I may sing for joy and be glad all my days. 15 Make me glad according to the days You have afflicted me, And the years I have seen evil.16 Let Your work appear to me, Your servant, And Your majesty to my children: Jeremy, Jordan, GraceAnna, Grant, Jameson and their children.17 And let the favor of the Lord my God be upon me; And do confirm for me the work of my hands; Yes, confirm the work of my hands.
No, I don’t know what the future holds but God has told me that life on this earth fades quickly. I am to present to Him a heart of wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t come from this world; it comes from God. So in these uncertain days, I do know that while God gives me life I am to arise, lift up my children, and take them by the hand and let God be their dwelling place in their generation.
Article from The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood