He Gently Leads
*I wrote this for a blog a couple of years ago, and posted it on our Facebook, but I needed to put it here on our blog, as well. I hope it is an encouragement to you. Even though a couple of years have gone by, my life is still just as full, busy, and chaotic.
I sighed as I stepped over crumbs, sticky spots, and a lone fork on my kitchen floor and walked into the living room. My 2 year old, Lana, was happily bouncing on all the couch cushions that she had taken off the couch. I gasped in horror. In the five minutes it had taken me to reheat leftovers, she had completely destroyed the entire room. She had found a hat, and put it under our refrigerator dispenser door. Filling it with ice, she then ran into the living room and threw it with glee into the air. It landed in every nook and cranny of the room. She had found an old folder of papers, and had happily thrown that into the mix as well. Pens, crayons, and every toy she owned filled any spot that didn't have ice. As I frantically tried to scoop up the ice before it melted all over the carpet, I heard the oven timer go off. "Mom!" one of my children yelled, "The chicken is boiling over the pot!" My hands full of ice, I ran back into the kitchen. I threw the ice into the overflowing sink of dirty dishes, and turned down the heat on the chicken. As I was wiping up the water from the pan, the phone rang. My eldest handed me my phone. I looked at the i.d. and panicked. Oh, no! It was a lady from church, whom I had meant to text and encourage earlier in the week, but my life had gotten busy. (I also teach piano lessons nine hours a week, after homeschooling all day.) I never had made the call. I motioned for the children to be quiet, and I ran into my room to talk to her. I scooped a pile of laundry out of the way to sit on my unmade bed, and tried to be the encourager to her that I needed to be. As I hung up the phone, my spirit sighed.
Has your spirit ever sighed? It's more than a normal sigh. It's when, deep inside of you, your soul is thirsty, anxious, and tired; and it sighs. Thoughts began to run through my head. I was such a failure. I was a failure as a homeschool mom, a homemaker, a pastor's wife. I homeschool five of my six children. Two are in high school, one in 7th grade, 4th, and 1st grade. The entire 6 hrs a day I am homeschooling, I am pulled in fifty million directions. I am constantly helping someone with something, grading papers, tests, starting videos, pausing videos, (three of them do Abeka video school) keeping the 2 yr old from killing herself or destroying the house, and keeping peace in the home. Forget about cleaning, laundry, or even showering! As long as I get up at 6, before the children, and have my coffee and Bible reading, I can keep it all under control. Barely. But if I have a day where they are up before me, or I don't get to my reading until the evening, the devil starts putting thoughts into my head. "You are worthless. Pathetic. So many women can do this better than you. Just give up." I imagine God, up in heaven, looking down at me with his arms crossed, glaring as he shakes his head. I thought back to my husband's ordination. I still remember the old preacher, whom I greatly respect and admire, stopping mid-sentence as he gave the charge to my husband. He stopped, looked at me, crooked his long finger right at me and said, "You have a big job, too. You have to keep the home nice, so that whenever he wants to have visitors over, it's nice and clean!" I fail often at that! Sure, my children do chores every day, and the house is decent every night when we go to bed, but please don't stop by in the middle of our school day!
When I was younger, and I imagined having children, it was always a scene of tranquility. Classical music would be playing in the background as my children, wearing starched, clean, and hand sewn clothes, floated around the house. They would talk calmly, politely, and lovingly to each other. They would share with each other and obey my every command. My husband would get home from a long day at church, and I would greet him with a smile and a hug, dressed June Cleaver style, pearls and all. "Dinner is ready!" I would tell him as I glided to the table with the succulent roast and potatoes. He would smile lovingly at me and say, "Wow, what a wife! I am the luckiest man alive!" as he kissed me on my perfectly made up cheek. We would then sit down to a beautifully set table, complete with flowers, silver, and candles.
Well, let's just say that having six children in 12 years didn't quite turn out like my little fantasy! Life in the McMurtry home is a little messy, (okay, maybe very messy!) very loud, and always chaotic.
When your soul sighs, like mine did that day, and the devil pours doubt into your head, what do you do? Well, for me, I try to get my perspective right. Where did I get this idea that God is in heaven with his arms crossed, waiting for me to mess up? Many times in the Bible, he is referred to as our Shepherd. When I think of a shepherd, I think of someone lovingly guiding his sheep, watching over them, keeping them out of harms way. One of my absolute favorite verses is Isaiah 40:11. It states, ''He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.'' God understands! He knows that sometimes us women just need to be led gently, especially if we are in the midst of this child rearing thing! Another passage that has really spoken to me since having children is Psalms 127: 2- 5. '' It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.'' How many times have I sat up late at night, worrying about finances, or the zillion pairs of shoes my children seem to go through, or how I am ruining my son's chance at becoming president someday by not having him take calculus, or how the church is going to crumble because I don't text my church ladies every week and have regular ladies' activities? How silly! Or, as the Bible states, how vain, how empty!
After a particularly trying day last week, I sat down after getting the kitchen cleaned for the billionth time that day. The kids were in bed, and the house was kind of picked up. (At least there wasn't ice on the floor!) I sat across from my husband in exhaustion. "Okay, " I asked him, "What do I give up? Being a homeschool mom, a pastor's wife, or cleaning the house? Take your pick." He just kind of laughed, and without missing a beat, said, "You are doing great at all three of them." I looked at him in shock as I gazed over my dusty house, my sticky floors, and my smudged windows. But then I thought about the time when my 2 yr old threw her pudgy arms around my neck and kissed me, my 1st grader figured something out in school, and my 11 yr old sewed me something special all by herself. I thought of my almost 15 yr old, and how I was so happy with the man he was turning out to be, and the sweet smile of my 9 yr old. I thought about the way my 14 yr old makes me laugh. I thought about my strong husband, and how he loves me unconditionally, and I thought about the sweet people in my church family. My spirit sighed again, but this time it was a deep sigh of contentment. It's time for us ladies to stop being so hard on ourselves. We need to stop imagining God glaring down at us from heaven just because we burn the dinner, or because our house is a little messy. That night, instead of imagining God glaring down at me, I imagined him smiling at me with love. I pictured Jesus gently leading me, his arm wrapped around my shoulder, pulling me into his side. "You are enough, Cassandra, because you are mine." I fell asleep knowing that I was enough that day. I am enough. And so are you.