Thursday, October 24, 2013

On Callings, Vocations, and Jobs


I qualify as a work-at-home mom this week: I took on an editing job.  The pay seems outlandish, although the workload is more than I had anticipated.  It's good to get my hands dirty and have a project that will have a clear end (read: not laundry or dishes or crabby children that are constantly undoing my hard work!), and it reminded me of something I read recently:

There is a lot of confusion over what is sometimes called a vocation.  Usually when people speak of their vocation, they meant their job.  When I use the word vocation, I have in mind the older usage, which used to be known as a “calling.”  I distinguish between a person’s job and his calling.  Put differently, I distinguish between his occupation and his vocation.  A job is work that someone does to earn a living.  It’s what puts food on the table.  A calling is very different in most cases.  A calling is the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace.  There are a few people who are fortunate enough to find a job that is also their calling.  Teachers and preachers are paid to do the most important thing they can do, and for which they would be most difficult to replace. 
--Ron Paul,
The School Revolution, pg. 43

Job vs. calling.  Where on the spectrum do you fall?

As my mind is occupied with my editing work, I don't have many other thoughts on the subject--so give me yours!  What is your calling?  Do you know?  Is it different from your job, and does that matter?

Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your take!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Catching up with my daughters

Shortly after baby was born, I had this daydream: it was Pookie's wedding reception, my turn to give a speech.  I stood up, opened a little book, and read a passage about some heartwarming thing that had happened when she was two (since, in real-time, it had just happened).  Then I read something from her teen years, and something about her fiance.  Then I explained to my beautiful, teary-eyed, bride-daughter that I had been writing her a long letter her whole life, and here it was, in book form, on her wedding day.

So, I opened a document and started.  I recorded funny things, (hopefully) wise things, encouraging things her father did for her, special visits with friends or family--anything that came to mind.  I did the same for baby.

And happened.  It's been ages, but I'm ready to start writing in their letters again, and I'd like to share what I wrote as a re-introduction:

Dear Pookie and Scrunch,

Your letters have gone untouched for far too long.  It has been a very difficult season in our house: at 3, Pookie has been terribly willful; as a baby, Scrunch has been a poor sleeper and colicky.  Both seem to finally be getting better, and I feel like there is a light at the other end of the tunnel.

I don’t write any of this to make you feel bad; in fact, I hope you’ll get quite the opposite from this.  You see, I feel immense guilt for letting the little things slip by unrecorded, like the other day when Scrunch grabbed my prosthetic lotion and automatically lifted her own left foot.  Or how Pookie watches E.T. and all but enters the television.  Or how, increasingly, I find your sweet little heads bent together—either giggling or fighting over toys.

One day, when (if) you are mothers of your own little ones, guilt will assault you.  You will get behind.  You will not accomplish everything you wish you could (or even all the things you should be doing, in some seasons).

And life will go on, and God will still be good.

Let me encourage you, dear ones, that your babies will still need you and love you and look up to you, despite your imperfections and shortcomings. 

Hopefully, as you are grown and reading this, you will think, “That’s easy for her to say; Mom had it all together and did everything.”  Did you chuckle just now?  Truly, I hope that you had that kind of childhood, that kind of happiness where I was your security blanket, your party captain, your 5-star chef, your dearest companion. 

I really hope and pray that’s so…but it might not be.  Right now it looks like a long shot: it’s 3PM and I’m in my pajamas.  Our tiny apartment is a mess even though I felt like I spent all morning cleaning.  You girls wipe me out most days—you need constant physical contact and mental attention and I just wants five minutes without little hands or mouths on me.

So, all that to say…you’re going to be in this place someday.  Weighed down by the responsibility of your children, brought low by whatever deficiencies you see in yourself.  Just remember that Mama was there once, too (probably more than once), and that we survived it.  Together.

There will be hard mothering days, baby girls.  On those days, do these three things:

1.       Read the words on this page and let them help lift you up.
2.       Go to Jesus.  He will lift you up.
3.       Call me.  There’s strength in numbers when taking any path, especially when one party has already been there before.
Okay, enough playing catch up; I promise we’ll get back to the everyday observances that this love letter is made up of.  Like your current food phases: Pookie is a total yogurt snob (nothing but Chobani passes her lips) and Scrunch has taken a shine to sardines—but if they aren’t Chicken of the Sea, she will know, and throw them on the floor.

I love you girls, even in the hard.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Twitteratue :: October 2013

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy hosts a monthly link-up for sharing casual, tweet-sized book reviews.

It seems I haven't got through much, which is odd, because I feel like I've been reading quite often.  I struggle with checking out too many books at once--anybody out there relate?

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
by Michael Pollan

Not my favorite by Pollan: some parts really sang, others got bogged down in so much evolutionary speculation that I just got bored.  Though I was very much inspired to jump back into bread baking; I'm starting a sourdough starter today!

Hannah Coulter
by Wendell Berry

I finally got around to a Wendell Berry novel--and it did not disappoint!  An elderly widow looks back over her life as a farmer's wife.  Absolutely lovely prose.  Made me ache for country living worse than I already do.
The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System
by Ron Paul

I love this man.  His education approach is heavier on internet use than I think our homeschool will be, but his focus on basics, self-teaching, and leadership line right up with my thinking.  This is definitely a book I plan to purchase and have on hand for reference--and a reminder of why homeschooling is worth the hassle.

So, only three books finished this month; it's still three books I hadn't read otherwise.  Want a peek at what I've got going now?

So, what have you been reading lately? {and catch more mini-reviews over at Modern Mrs. Darcy}

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Jesus Infomercial

I've been thinking about the video testimony I posted on this blog two years ago.  At the time I felt great conviction to share it, but recently I've been re-thinking it.  See, that video reads like a how-to manual, when my testimony of life in Christ should be more like an infomercial.

(except not) {via}

Not full of cheesy gimmicks and four easy payments of $19.95, but it should showcase the benefits I have received through following Jesus.

So, here goes my Jesus testimony infomercial...

1.  I have peace despite worry.  I'm a worrier.  But God is bigger than any trouble I have.  I don't remember this enough, but it's there just the same.

2.  I have a handle on my temper.  I could hide behind "it's the Irish in me," but honestly, I'm just bad at expressing frustration.  I can't pinpoint how this changed exactly, but I've noticed over several years of studying Jesus, I don't have the outbursts or sulking that I used to.

3.  I have instructions for dealing with people.  Arguing with your spouse?  Remember that the wife is to respect her husband and that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church--humbleness and selflessness required by both parties (Ephesians 5:22-23).  Wronged by someone else?  Go to them privately, then with a few others if things cannot be worked out, then try to work it out before the church, and if that doesn't work...well, then you've done the best you can and are free from responsibility (Matthew 18:15-17).  And like it...

4.  I can forgive.  I'm a grudge-holder...or at least I used to be.  I am not perfect and have taken up the phrase "serial forgiver," because sometimes my mind will go back and get all riled up about something that's finished and forgiven.  Anger and resentment seep into their old haunts in my heart.  So, I forgive.  Again.  It's hard, sometimes really hard.  But far less work (and far more pleasant) than holding a grudge.

5.  I have hope.  On the bad days.  On the unbearable days.  On the days when the whole world groans at some new horror or tragedy, I have a hope that one day this too shall pass.  That whatever does not glorify will one day be chaff sifted away.  That I will stand before my Lord and that will be enough.

6.  I have purpose.  Love God, love your neighbor.  Tell people about Jesus.  It plays out differently for everyone, but this, in the end, is our purpose, and who doesn't like to know what they're doing?

A great Savior at a great price.  I'm sold!

Friday, October 4, 2013

On faith and obedience {and the laundromat}

I read an article (that for the life of me I can't find now) a while back about a man looking at a table full of pictures, pictures of kids waiting to be sponsored through Compassion.  Instead of taking time to weigh his options, to pray, to ponder, he just grabbed a photo.

His point was this: Instead of over-spiritualizing every decision, sometimes we just have to do the next obedient thing in front of us.  All of those children needed a sponsor; any choice was the right one.

When we look at Jesus' life and ministry, we see that over and over and over again.  Yes, He took many opportunities--surely more than are recorded in Scripture--to pray alone, but as He went about His day?  Jesus did the next right thing.

Blind man intersecting His path?  Help the guy see.

Crazy man screaming and carrying on because of demons?  Send them into some pigs.

Lady has had her period for twelve. years. straight?  Stop and tell her her faith has made her well.

Just do the next right thing.

And that little nugget came in handy during our bedbug scare earlier this year.  No, in fact, we did not have bedbugs (praise God!).  But we did have gnats and I read too much online about dust mites and...

Well, to be perfectly frank, I probably became paranoid.  I itched all over all the time.  I complained of invisible bugs crawling on me.  I claimed I had bug bites where I really only had dry skin (Professor and the kids had no itching or bites of any kind).

I was in panic attack mode.

So I informed Professor that I would be taking All The Laundry to the laundromat, washing it all in hot water, drying it all in commercial dryers until it wasn't much more than lint, and spending the rest of the month's grocery money on this venture.

Poor Professor.  He told me to do what I thought I had to do, so off I went, head spinning with fear and pockets jangling with quarters.

And can I just say that after hours of washing and drying All The Laundry Of Our Household, facing down the folding of said laundry with frayed nerves and little sleep?  I nearly came undone.

Do the next right thing.

I folded.  I sang hymns.  I didn't feel any better for singing, but I felt more obedient; in that moment, that was enough.

And later?  Later when I was in bed and All The Laundry was done and Professor was beside me breathing deep?

Then came the joy.  The gratitude that my bed was not infested with bed bugs and that even if it were, God would still be God (but, again, no bugs, no bugs, no bugs!!!).  The pleasure of tired muscles, of falling asleep easily.  The peace of trusting.

Sing God's praise out of obedience and joy will follow. 

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.  Here's lookin' at you, kid.
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