Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Anatomy of a Mama's Wrinkles

Wrinkles are a sign of age, right? A trophy to some, saying, "Look what I've been through! Years and years of it, and I'm still here!" I think most wrinkles are beautiful, like on the paper thin skin next to an old woman's eyes, or the back of a hand that has worked hard every day of its life.

But so far, the only wrinkles in my life are to be navigated, and they are mostly seen as annoyances, "hiccups" in my day. A stumble in my mothering, a failure in my parenting.

I rise early. Perhaps not as early as some, but 6:30 a.m. in my home still carries the dark of the night with it, deep breathing from my children's rooms, and a whiffling snore from the bed as I leave my husband behind. It is my quiet time, and more and more I find myself waking before the alarm goes off, my mind clear, my spirit anxious to hear.

I light the lantern at the kitchen table, so as not to brighten the house too early and wake my lightest sleeper, Corban. With my face turned towards the warm flame, I talk with the Lord, laying before Him my family, friends (many of you!) and begging his grace upon my day. Then I spread my Bible open before me, searching the pages for inspiration. For food that will fill the hours ahead.

This morning I concluded my reading of Isaiah. (Miriam, since we spoke of it, I have been reading this daily; how I long to yield and be good fruit!) And when I finished, I continued my feast with precious words from a magazine called Above Rubies. (If you don't receive this, you would be delighted to! From motherhood to nutrition, etiquette, loving your husband, scouring the Word, poetry, adoption, mission work... it is full of priceless wisdom.)

I was struck by an article entitled, "Gnitnerap: Parenting Backwards", and the author (Carey Keavey) spoke of raising our children as if reading a really good biography. Only we, as parents, should look ahead to a happy ending and work our way back to the first page, NOW. She went on to define our examples to our children, digging deep into topics such as Character Examples (Do we expect honesty of our children, only to promise something and go back on it? Now our integrity is at stake!) and Priority Example (minute by minute sacrifices).

I was so blessed by these words this morning. Daily, I am mindful of my role, and how it is a constantly growing, shifting place to be, this motherhood. And I was reminded of words that I read long ago, that sharpened me in my role. I somehow let the habit of reading them taper off, but I would like to begin again.

(Grab your Bibles, ladies!)

Commands for Fathers and Mothers from the Word:

· Availability – morning, noon, and night (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

· Involvement – interacting, discussing, thinking and processing life together (Ephesians 6:4)

· Teaching – the Scriptures, a biblical world-view (Psalm 78:5-6, Deuteronomy 4:10, Ephesians 6:4)

· Training – helping a child develop skills and discover his strengths (Proverbs 22:6)

· Discipline – teaching the fear of the Lord, drawing the line consistently, lovingly, firmly (Ephesians 6:4, Hebrews 12:5-11, Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15-17)

· Nurture – providing an environment of constant verbal support, freedom to fail, acceptance, affection, unconditional love (Titus 2:4, 2 Timothy 1:7, Ephesians 4:29-32, 5:1-2, Galatians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:8-9)

· Modeling with Integrity – living what you say, being a model by which a child can learn by “catching” the essence of godly living (Deuteronomy 4:9, 15, 23; Proverbs 10:9, 11:3; Psalm 37:18, 37).

(Found here, in a moment of frustration that ended with the words "Christian Mother" being entered into my search engine - more than a year ago!)

Isn't it great to have a compass? Because as long as there are children and dirt in the world, there will be wrinkles to navigate.

Life gets fuzzy. Some days, there is a flurry of cheerio dust that clouds my eyes. And on other days, life is quiet, settled, but I still cannot hear Him. Searching the Word becomes difficult, and I find myself flipping through the thin pages, traveling back and forth too quickly for any seed to fall on my soil.

But armed with my commands as a mama and the Word it comes from, I hope to find my days separating into layers as I strip down to the essence of my role. It's early, though, and while I do not look forward to the failures (as I gloss over a command in my haste to be *right*, and thus bring those wrinkles into my day) it is the wringing of motherhood that begins to drain me of the "unimportant importants", and the sharpening of the iron follows.

And so I am being wrung. I'll let you know if the wrinkles come out. But personally, I don't think an ending is quite as happy without them, do you?

(I couldn't resist!)

24 fellow travelers shared:

Anonymous said...

I so thankful that God's Word contains these directives to parents! Thanks for sharing this list of them here and thanks for your warm, encouraging posts.

Kelly said...

Wonderful post--full of vulnerability and insight. I really loved the list for parents! Copied it down and stuck it in my Bible for reflection.

Christine said...

I love how you write- straight from your heart, and mine! I've been noticing my wrinkles lately- the physical ones- and try to appreciate those. But the daily life-living wrinkles, those I can do without! I love your list of words and scriptures, I'll be copying that and keeping it with my bible for my morning quite times! Love you, friend!

Me said...

Do you know where I am worst as a Mom? Availability. I am home with my girls all day and I get extremely irritable with the constant interruptions as I try to attend to all the needs. And I am very cranky about it.

I am not proud of it at all.

Thank you for the reminder.

The description of the early morning before the alarm rings and the light and not wanting to disturb the light sleeper sound familiar. :)

The photo is adorable!

Cindi said...

Oh such an inspirational post. Thank you for giving me such bright thoughts for today!

Tracy said...

Thank you. True words of wisdom.

Andrea said...

"it is the wringing of motherhood that begins to drain me of the "unimportant importants", and the sharpening of the iron follows."

Yes. I am learning this daily. And thankful for the compass to help me navigate.
I love the "List". I will definitely be printing it out, putting it above my kitchen sink with various verses and your *own* list I have scribbled "Feed. Love. Lead." :)

I love Above Rubies. That is where I got my blog name from one of Nancy's tape studies.

Randi said...

I love this list and will be copying it down! Availability--why do I so often feel that is voluntary, based on my schedule? Not so. When we rise, when we walk, when we lie down. This is a good reminder for me!

That picture is hilarious!

Stacy said...

I am also printing out this list. Thank you for sharing it, sweet Elise. I sure am thankful for you and your words here at A Path Made Straight. I love coming over to a fresh entry from you! :)


Chris said...

This was my first time here. It is nice to meet you. Like so many others before me, I am copying the list as well.


Munchkin Land said...

Thank you, Elisa, thank you! That is an incredible list and one that I'll refer back to often! I'm just know getting back into reading a daily devotional and I can already tell a difference. Again, I appreciate your insight and wisdom.

The Preacher's Wife said...

This was so wonderfully inspiring and convicting all at the same time...so, I'll also be copying 'THE LIST'. :)

Grafted Branch said...

I loved this post! From beginning to end...and especially the picture; it made me smile -- big. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post it was very thought provoking. The picture is priceless. :) Now, I must attend to a crying toddler (availability in practice).

Lundie said...

Thank you for the list! I have printed it for my study tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to it.

Miriam said...


I love that thought of keeping a happy ending in mind. And I have often thought, too, that the joy of restoration - working out wrinkles in life - is (and will be) greater than that of having things perfect from the start (although that sure does sound enviable some days!). I'm so thankful that God promises those good endings for those who seek Him and trust Him in repentance!

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow" ~Is. 55:12,13

Beautiful Isaiah. I'm still working my way through. I love your descpription of your early morning times - tempts me to trade in my late evening quiet times for the same. :)

And thank you for sharing the scripture list... will be checking those out.

Debi said...

Great post as always, Elise....and I love the picture...From a physical standpoint I'm beginning to feel like I look like both the baby and the dog...a little chubby and wrinkled!! :)

bluemountainmama said...

i love the analogy of wrinkles, elise....

i, also, will be printing these verses out to turn to over and over. i've been sludging through the pentateuch and am almost done with Deuteronomy, but it's nice to stray and have a set of pertinent and guiding verses like these to incorporate in my reading as i continue on with the old testament.

i love the imagery of you rising early and reading the word over the light of a lantern....
my son is the early bird in our household, usually 6-6:30, so i can't quite get myself to get up before him.

thanks, as always, for the lovely, inspiring words....that gentle nudge as you put forth the example of your life in such a humble, loving way.....

Beverly said...

I'm so glad I read this, Elise! I, like a lot of the women who read this, will be copying this for futher meditation. I have heard of the Above Rubies magazine, but haven't subscribed. It sounds like something that I would love to read.

Thank you for your example, rising early to pray and meditate. I have trouble in this area ... the rising early part.

I can see why you couldn't resist that wonderful picture ;-)

Beka said...

Wonderful words, Elise, as always.

I love morning quiet times, as well, although I often struggle with the "early" part! I sit in our front bedroom, the guest room, the room that would be the baby's room if God were to bless us with a child. On my knees, I lay out my requests before Him, and I search the pages of His word. I often feel I cannot hear His voice, and I cry out all the more for Him to come and meet with me there.

Thank you again for your very encouraging words, my friend!

henryteachers said...

What an amazing writer you are! Isn't it wonderful to have those early moments before the children arise to ponder and gain insights from the scriptures. I find when I do, life's wrinkles aren't as difficult to get through. This morning, after reading your post, I felt inspired to do this and had a wonderful experience. Thanks for your words of wisdom.
Mindy :)

dani-hermit-be-gone said...

Elise, what a joy to discover you! I found you at bluemountainmama's site. I just made a post about babies and then to find this! I sure hope God has chosen for me to be a mommy someday! Thanks for your encouraging words sister.

kevin said...

Just a day or two ago we were talking about being like Jesus. Your practice of rising early (while I sleep...) is VERY Jesus-like. "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (Mark 1:35) You're a wonderful example to many mothers, and to me, your husband!

Maxine said...

Elise, this is an absolutely wonderful post! What a ministry the Lord is giving you to mothers, here in Blogland. I have learned about the wrinkles!:) Keep up the good work--rising early and spending that precious time with the Lord. Oh that picture! It's priceless!!

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