For such a time as this…

First up, thanks so much for all of your suggestions/advice on what I should wear to the wedding. Especially those of you who took the time to send me links. Y’all are nice! I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

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A few months back, I attended an event featuring a panel of “powerful” Christian women. I use the quotation marks because, of course, nobody is truly powerful but God, but these women are definitely influential in the Christian spheres in which they move.

And while I was  impressed with their accomplishments and their talents, I left feeling a bit let down by their philosophies of work and motherhood.

Each woman on the panel is both a mom and an entrepreneur. Great! Me too! Definitely nothing wrong with that. I don’t choose to monetize this blog (did you know that? I don’t know if that will always be the case, but I make very, very little money as a blogger…by choice), but I do teach exercise classes and  have my art print business, Paint and Prose, with my friend/business partner, Lindsay, and I am really grateful to have outlets that also provide some income for my family.

As a Biblical point of reference, the Proverbs 31 woman buys fields, “makes linen garments and sells them,” (she’d be a hit on Etsy!) and “perceives that her merchandise is profitable.” She “does not eat the bread of idleness.” In other words, she’s  the ultimate worker bee. Much more so than I am (SO not a fan of getting up “while it is still night;” yikes!).

But the emphasis in that passage is not on the name she made for herself. Or on the amount of money she raked in. Or on how many books she wrote about her impeccable housekeeping skills. Or on how many people followed her on Instagram (I have to think that, had she had access to social media, she probably wouldn’t have spent much time on it).

No, it’s on the way she cares for her family and her community. She brings good, honor, and security to her husband (vs. 11-12, 23), she feeds and clothes her children well (vs. 15, 21), and she provides for the poor and needy (vs. 20).

Now, obviously, this woman is a prototype–an example to strive for. AND she had servants (aka: her versions of washing machines and microwaves). But, even though I know I’ll never be as perfectly efficient and compassionate and loving and balanced as she’s described to be, I can still learn so much from her diligence and priorities.

In contrast, while I left in awe of these modern day women’s accomplishments, I felt unsettled by their priorities.

To a group of (mostly) young women with little kids and big dreams, one of their most notable pieces of advice was not to despise your children’s younger years because: “pretty soon, they’ll be at school, and you’ll have time to do what you really love…unless you home school. In which case, you chose that.”

I think my mouth fell open a little bit at that phrase. NOT because I was offended. I know full well that home schooling is not for everyone and that, by choosing it, I willfully forfeit a certain amount of freedom. I happily own that choice.

No, I was struck by the implication that a child’s impressionable, formative, baby years are something of a holding pattern until his/her mama can be released to fulfill her “true calling” of __________ (maker, writer, teacher, business owner…whatever).

I couldn’t help but feel that, amidst plenty of other good advice, they’d gotten that part backwards.

Not that I was too surprised, since the emphasis on “following your dreams” and the importance of “me time” and self-care before care of others is one that reigns supreme  on pretty much any form of media that I encounter lately.

Don’t get me wrong. I get why the baby years feel a little–forgive me–pointless. After all, they won’t even remember most of what we do.

And the neediness! Oy! They can’t even wipe their own poopy bottoms or runny noses, for the love. Anything “productive” we accomplish is punctuated by numerous, oftentimes odorous, interruptions and will probably be accompanied by tiny, sticky hands wrapped fast around our legs.

And yet. Studies show that, by age 5, a child’s personality, character, and feelings of security and worth have already been cemented to a very large extent. So, apparently, they were paying attention to our care of them–for better or for worse–even if they can’t remember the particulars of it.

And I know, deep in my bones, that no words I write, no art I create, no money I earn, no societal contributions I make, no amount of #girlboss cred that I achieve could ever trump the significance of the impact that I have as the primary influencer of the little humans that have been entrusted to me. Up to age 5 and beyond.

Which is why I bought this cuff in Canada at a cute little shop in Squamish.

for such a time as this

It’s a paraphrase of Esther 4:14, which says: “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

In Esther’s case, these words came from her cousin, Mordecai, who was encouraging her to entreat the king to spare her people from eminent destruction.

Heavy.

Important.

Significant.

But I can’t help but think that a series of smaller, less portentous choices were what brought Esther to that momentous brink. The choice to go to the palace to audition for the role of queen. The choice to humble herself under the care of the chief eunuch and let him direct her entire beauty regimen. The choice to not be a diva. The choice to continue to listen to her cousin’s godly advice, even though she was now queen.

I read that phrase, and it wasn’t images of the book I hope to someday write (nope, still haven’t found the time) that popped into my head.

Instead, I pictured one of the twins having a meltdown in her car seat–something that has been an almost daily reality for over a year–and I thought, “I need this cuff.”

What if, instead of despising the mundanity of motherhood or merely gritting my teeth until I can do something that “actually matters,” I viewed each seemingly insignificant moment of child-training as the “moment for which I was created.” The moment that is shaping me into the kind of woman that I hope to someday be. The moment that is allowing me to be a little bit more like Jesus.

(I’m not very good at this, y’all. Why else do you think I need to wear it on my wrist?)

sunday

{Sporting my cuff and posing with my humans in the sweltering Texas heat}

Which, after all, is the ultimate point, right? Well, that and teaching my children to do likewise. Anything else that I create or contribute pales in comparison to the legacy of faith that I leave behind with my family and–as we serve them and share the gospel–our greater community.

It’s not a very glamorous calling. At least not on the surface. There is nothing glamorous about “the first shall be last” or “take up your cross daily and follow me.”

But last I checked, I am not called to be glamorous. I am called to be godly.

And that is infinitely better.

P.S. Two caveats: 1) I have framed this post as a response to the things that mothers often can’t wait to escape FROM, but the truth is that, glamorous or not, I love spending time with my children. I may not always cherish or enjoy every single snot and tantrum-filled moment, but the fact remains that they (along with my husband) are my favorite humans on the planet, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything–not only because I know that they are my calling, but because they’re just rad, and I like them a whole lot. And 2) I know that not everyone who reads my blog is a mother, and I don’t want you to feel that this post is marginalizing your giftings and callings in the Lord. If you are not a mom, I would encourage you to consider even the most “insignificant” aspects of your calling to be “the moment for which you were created,” even if no one else ever recognizes the worth of it.

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36 thoughts on “For such a time as this…

  1. Catching up on blogs today and am so thankful to have caught this post. As a young woman who aspires to be a stay at home wife and momma someday and homeschool, you pack so much truth and encouragement. I’m sure you get this a lot, but I count you as a “mentor” as your writing is real and honest posts that are laced with joy and grace. You have high standards and speak hard truths. Keep it up!

  2. I had cancer when my son was in junior high. My odds weren’t great. It gave me a whole new attitude about motherhood. Those everyday hum-drum, have-to-dos became, “I get to pack his lunch” and “I get to wash his clothes”. Sometimes, it takes realizing that we might not be here forever to understand what a privilege it is to take care of our children. (And 11 years later I’m still enjoying my son! But he does his own laundry and lunch packing now.)

  3. Um, YES. YES. YES. YES. YESSSSSS.
    As a former teacher who has chosen to stay at home (and become a foster Mom), this post spoke straight to my heart in the midst of all the other conflicting advice I hear on the daily basis from other outlets. From being asked how I get “me-time” on the daily to reading about how we are not all cut out to be SAHM Mom’s…it gets confusing. Sure, we are not all cut out to be SAHM’s, but I think so many people underestimate the fact that most of us are CALLED to it, even if it’s not “pursuing our dreams”. Perhaps we need to reevaluate and ask God to redirect our dreams.
    I’m currently loving the quote by C.S. Lewis “Children are not a distraction from the most important gift, they are the most important gift”

  4. Great post & I agree wholeheartedly.
    Those early years are intrinsically important. We have two foster children (as well as our own bio). One of the foster children is four years old & the other is two. How I wish I had them earlier. The four year old has had terrible parenting for four years & there is so much to work on now with him. He has bad behavior layered on bad behavior on bad behavior & had he had diligent parenting from the start (or even from his first foster home placement at just a few months of age) then we would not be facing this huge upward climb that we are. In contrast his younger sibling came at one year old & is already feeling like part of the family. She is very trainable & while we still have to deal with some behaviors that came from the first year & a half of poor parenting, it is no where near as difficult or as daunting. I wish everyone knew how important even just cuddling & loving their babies are. If only they knew how important just quietly correcting (& disciplining) them in those early years are & how important spending quality time & modelling correct behaviors to them are. So many of society’s issues would not exist if mothers could truly realize how very important their role as a mothers is!
    Again – great post & well done for posting what is so opposite to what the world tells you is normal!

  5. I love reading your blog so much because of your positive outlook on life. Lately it seems like you hear lots of mom feed off of each other negatively online about the mundane that you mentioned above. One complains about something and another jumps in and complains too. Thanks for helping others with your wonderful perspectives. I agree with you whole heartedly!!!

  6. Ha! I just realized you didn’t ask about my shoes. You asked about my necklace. I honestly do not remember where I got it, but I got it probably close to 10 years ago, so that wouldn’t help anyway. :-)

  7. First I love your dress and necklace care to share where you got them? I agree with you I think the older your kids get the more you realize how important the early years are to everyone in the family. I try not to wish the time away anymore.

  8. Thank you! Not a mom, but know I must have many moments in life that I was created for…and God will use it to make more like Jesus…to be more gracious – more grace filled.

  9. Thanks for this post, Abbie! I needed to be reminded of this today, to be shifted out of my tunnel vision and be reminded that what I’m doing right now is the most important thing for me to be doing. Having kids isn’t a hobby but a vocation; I want to spend this short time I have well!

  10. I have so many random comments with this.
    First – it’s so well written and true to your beliefs. I admire the strength in your conviction and your confidence in knowing who you are.
    Second – I am a working mom of one and I love every minute with my little and my love. I often feel guilty that I don’t stay home with him but the truth is I think I can be both. I can be a great mom and a great career person. I go to the gym at 5am so that when I am not working I am 100% with my munchkin. I don’t do unnecessary things (like shop, social media etc) while he is awake. My most important job(s) is a wife and mother. But I am also a pretty great executive. I would argue that my career in some ways makes me a better mom (not better than anyone else – just better than perhaps I would have been without). My job gives me a feeling of confidence and ability and control and accomplishment – I am aware these are not qualities to strive for and maybe not what I should be after as a Christian Mom. But I do know that after a day of succeeding in at work, I am more patient with 2 year old tantrums and play harder, remind more often about kindness and say longer prayers at night.
    Curious if you believe that women can do both well?
    Third – I love the way your littles lean into your oldest. The body lauguage is amazing and heartwarming.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for such a thoughtful and respectful response.

      In response to your questions: I do believe that a woman can work outside the home and be a good mom as well as a good ________ (fill in blank with profession).

      I have no doubt that you’re a good executive. I was a good Spanish teacher for 6 years, two of which I spent juggling part time teaching with being a mama to my first two when they were very little.
      My point in writing this post is not that moms can’t be great at a job. They definitely can. That Proverbs 31 woman is a whiz at business and sewing…time management…all of it. I have no doubt that she could have run an entire company effortlessly. Neither do I deny that there is a whole lot of satisfaction to be reaped from a job well done outside the home.

      HOWEVER, the rub for me comes from sheer mathematics. Everybody only gets 24 hours in a day (duh). If your child is a good sleeper, he will likely spend 10-11 of those hours sleeping. As a point of reference, my kids go to bed around 8:30 and wake up (on average) at 7. So, if my kids wake up at 7, and I have to be at work at 9 and get them to daycare or school by 8, then the 1ish hours that I have with them in the morning is spent hustling like MAD to get out the door on time. (I know from my experience as a part time teacher). And if I get off of work at 5, then I have to drive across town to pick my kids up, which means that, if I’m lucky, I’ll get home by 5:45. Then, I have to rustle up some dinner and feed it to them. Even when I prep dinner ahead of time (which is usually), I can’t get it on the table in under 20 minutes, so by now, we’re past 6 PM, and we haven’t even eaten. By the time we do eat and clear the table, it’s close to 7. Which means bath time, story time, play time…for an hour. And then bedtime. With that math, I have spent 1-2 hours max of focused time with my child in an average day. Maybe I was super patient and focused and pretty much the best mom in the entire world for those two hours. But it was still less than 10% off the time in a full day.

      And I have a conviction that, as their mom, it is my job to be the primary influencer of my children’s hearts, learning, and growth. No one is more invested in doing it well than I am. Because, no matter how much someone loves working with kids, they simply will not ever get as jazzed about *my* baby as I will. :) So! If I believe that I am to be my children’s primary caretaker, and I believe that this means a majority-of-my-day time commitment, then I cannot make the math of working full time outside of the home work for me.

      Will it mean that I have to sacrifice certain categories of self-fulfillment and all levels of professional recognition? (Assuming I don’t work at all). Yes. And I know that that is so, so hard. I definitely enjoyed the kudos that came from people finding out (and being impressed) that I was a foreign language teacher and from watching my students succeed. It was gratifying and self-confirming. I believe that our need for that kind of recognition is a God-inspired one, except that, instead of finding it in others’ praise or how much more in control we feel because projects don’t throw tantrums (ha!), we are meant, as Christians, to fill it with *his* approval and the joy of laying down our lives in service to those we love. Totally counter-cultural and against what gratifies our flesh? For sure. Totally worth it? Absolutely. (And, interestingly enough, totally capable of changing the things our hearts desire and what brings us fulfillment…speaking from personal experience).

      I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this really famous quote from the martyred missionary, Jim Eliot, but I love it so much as it relates to motherhood: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I don’t know too many people who value what I do as a profession, and that’s toooootally okay. Hard as it may be, I can give that up for the knowledge of the eternal impact I’m making on my children’s lives.

      I’m sorry for writing a book. I don’t know if this was the answer you wanted or were expecting, but I hope you hear my heart in it, which is not to condemn you but to (hopefully) provide food for thought. I really appreciate your asking such open questions and being willing to read my answers.

      1. I enjoyed your “book” and am often amazed that on some platforms different opinions cause crazy lady arguments. I’m so glad this isn’t one of them.
        I agree with your core beliefs. My family will always come first. Realistically, financially, being a stay at home mom would not be an option for us. I’m blessed to be in a career that I work from home as needed. I love my job and I think that helps me find peace in what I know isn’t an option for us.
        I won’t say that staying home was ever my original intention or dream but I will say that After 3 years of trying to conceive I thought leaving him with a baby sitter would kill me. It broke my heart. And created a desire to be home with him. Nothing prepared me for the love of my child like the love of my child (I don’t know if that makes sense??)
        I think in this season of my life – for me – it has to be about being present and intentional with all of my time. I don’t get “me” time and frankly I’m stinking up the joint on hubby & me time (hint hint…. Write a post on easy at home dates…please!) but I work at making the time I do have at home with my little guy intentional and purposeful. Is it the same as 24/7….NO!!! I wish it was. But for those that can’t do it (and those that choose not to) I do pray that doing both can still raise up children who are faithful and loving and hardworking creatures who grow to be amazing believers of God…and their mamas who didn’t do it all.
        While our ways of doing this life are different we have a lot in common. We love our babies, our husbands, fashion and diy, we love to workout, strive to be better followers of the Lord and girl… WE ARE TIRED!
        God Bless

      2. She placed one (1) question mark in her rather lengthy paragraph. You wrote: In response to your questions: & also: I really appreciate your asking such open questions. She didn’t!

        1. I’m not sure if a discussion of syntax/semantics changes much here, but I do know that I wrote a very long response to her one question, so I think we’re good! :)

  11. Yes yes yes! I don’t think you can find anywhere in scripture where raising children is a second best occupation. As women we are called to bring/nurture life. If God’s calling us to do it how can any other passions be trumping that? Good words in a not so popular time to say them. Bless you!

  12. Dear Abbie,

    thank you for your post. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and although I am neither a mother (I hope to be someday), neither religious, I thoroughly enjoy your posts that have their base in the Bible and/or Jesus.

    You see, I’m a liberal. I don’t believe that God created Earth and the universe and I don’t believe that Jesus was a real person, who was the son of God and was crucified and died for our sins (I just wasn’t raised that way and now that I’m an adult both of those things seem unlikely to me). But I DO believe that the idea of someone like Jesus (whether it is true or not – I respect the beliefs of people who believe it to be true) and the lessons, given forth by the Bible, are absolutely incredible. In my opinion, the Bible should be the basic guide for all people to live by, no matter what their faith is. It is the ultimate guide to being a genuinely good person and to being a good human being.

    That is why I love your posts in which you cite the Bible. Thank you for your post, it was something I needed to hear. I’m sure it was something all of us needed to hear – the point you set is (at least in my opinion) something we tend to forget, although we really shouldn’t. We should cherish every moment, because time goes by too fast.

    I look forward to reading your future posts.

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while even though I am in the grandmother years. I attended a Bible study a couple of years ago with a group of young mothers, and left every week feeling so sad because very few of them seemed to be enjoying the time with their little ones. They longed for affirmation and validation for their every day responsibilities. I commented one week about how I loved being a stay-at-home mom and that my children’s hugs were reward enough. One mom said she could not stand her kids constant touching.

    I came to the conclusion that because I never had a rewarding, fulfilling job before motherhood, I had no frame of reference for what they were missing in their every day lives. They all had a “life” before children. Oh, how I wish I could convince young mothers of the value of the investment in their children’s lives. And I consider my homeschooling days the best of my life.

    I wrote a book this year, fulfilling a desire that had been burning in my heart for a long time. Sure, I had hoped to have accomplished that goal a decade ago–but I would have had to take a break from mothering. And I did not want to sacrifice even a moment. I know if I had written that book a decade ago, it would have been very different. And it was definitely meant for “such a time as this.”

    Keep encouraging others, Abbie, to find the big in the little.

    And thank you for not monetizing. I know you may have to one day, and I won’t hold it against you, but I have stopped reading so many blogs because they just don’t feel personal any more. Just like with the evolution of motherhood, the goal of most bloggers has switched from personal relationship to a sales pitch.

  14. This is just what I needed to read today! I quit my job to stay home and be momma to my little boy – knowing it’s what God called me to do. However, it now seems that he will be our only child and I feel like I’m wasting my time being a stay-at-home mom to “just” one kid. It’s made me question if this is really what I’m supposed to be doing. But God knows and these years are not wasted in His eyes.

  15. We don’t only store our treasures in heaven. We store them in our children. Thats a bank you don’t want to be stingy with.

  16. The very idea that the work is done once they go off to school is offensive. They will need you so much more after starting school. Mamas of public s hook children have to combat the unchristian influences they encounter on a daily basis. I’m mean good grief they start teaching evolution in kindergarten!! Then there is all this transgender garbage going on by middle and high school. I could go on and on. We raised three and helping to raise 2 g daughters. I would spend all summer getting them back to totally Christian attitudes and back then there was no choice to home school. Mamas rule the world just very few recognize it

  17. Oh Abbie. You have me nearly in tears. Yes. This. This is it. Every word you’ve written is every word that has been going through my head recently. Motherhood is such a tough calling. But it is a calling 100%, through the good times and rough. I don’t know if there is anything as sanctifying as motherhood.

    Just today as I was at VBS talking with the other moms who are leading out this year, I couldn’t help but feel downhearted knowing that I couldn’t help out as much as I wanted to this year (I AM doing the short puppet skit for the opening program each morning) because I have a just turned 1 year old that takes up much of my time. And arms. :) And I’ll be honest, I wanted some of the praise the other moms are getting for all of the work they’re doing to help out this year. A very fleeting thought passed through my head of “maybe next year, or the year after, he’ll be bigger and I’ll be able to do something that matters.” But my little guy does matter and whether or not I get recognition for helping out once a year at VBS does not.

    So thank you for this from the bottom of my (learning to be humble) heart.

  18. Excellent! As a homeschool Mama of 5 littles, I genuinely appreciate all encouragement to persevere, endure patiently, and work as unto the Lord. This IS the race I desperately want to finish well!! Blessings to you!!

  19. I completely agree! It almost drives me crazy when I hear moms talk about how happy they are their kids are in preschool or how dreaded they are summer is here. I know being a mom is exhausting most of the time but if you are not ready for that they why have kids in the first place?! Our society is just so messed up right now and the biggest contribution I have is to raise my kids to be an adult who will not conform to what society calls normal. And all the “self care” talk…don’t get it. It’s a new selfish norm that I will never be a part of. Putting others first is why we are here. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your bracelet! I wonder if I can find one on etsy…
    Thanks for this great blog :)

  20. Abbie, This post was much needed today. Thank you for your words of encouragement and for reminding me that each moment as a mama is precious and important, just as it is precious and important for our children. These challenging times are not something to get through, but to embrace.

I love comments so much I'd actually consider making them my seventh kid if I could. Seriously. Love. And I read every single one and will do my darndest to respond, especially if you have a question. So, yeah. Comment away! I'm listening!