Gazing Upward


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It’s been a week since my youngest of four kids started kindergarten, and I’ve found myself a bit sentimental and nostalgic.  A quiet house can do that to you.  So I spent some time reading old blog posts to revisit the season of life when my kids were home all day long.  I reasoned that reminders of terrible twos and temper tantrums would make me especially grateful for the hours of silence and freedom I now have to myself.

When I stumbled upon the post below from 2010, I not only melted when I saw the baby faces of Carter and Grace, I also felt encouraged by the reminders to embrace the daily grind. Even with my freed-up schedule, I can still get grumpy with the mundane rituals, especially when they become maddening with carpool delays, rushed dinner prep, endless chores, and bedtime-routines-gone-askew.   No matter our age or the season of life we’re in, the daily repetition of ordinary tasks can drain our joy, if we let it.

But I love what author Richard Foster writes: “If we fail to sanctify the ordinary, we will be leaving God out of a large part of who we are and what we do.” For the mom struggling to hold onto her sense of purpose as she labors to get through the day, I especially hope the truths and insights below will be sweet to your soul.

P.S. I’ve quickly adjusted to the calm and quiet hours by myself, and they’re glorious! No more tears from this momma!

May 3, 2010
(This was a few weeks after we adopted and brought home Grace from China.)

On our flight home from China, I told Scott I was craving normalcy and routine. After weeks of anticipation (and anxiety) before our trip, and a long 17-day adventure across the world and back, I was ready to become a family of four and embrace the daily grind. Simple tasks like laundry, driving Carter to Mother’s Day Out, and grocery shopping seemed refreshingly simple.

It didn’t take very long after arriving home before I began dreading the chore of folding clean clothes. And resenting the number of times I have to scrub our kitchen table and booster seats in one day. And feeling drained trying to create new ideas for fun and entertainment for two toddlers.

Words of Wisdom

The other day, I suddenly recalled a series of devotions I read in one of my seminary classes. I pulled out Devotional Classics edited by Richard J. Foster, and found the highlighted wise words penned by Kathleen Norris. Here are some tidbits I’ve pulled from her portion in the book:

  • “And it always seems that just when daily life seems most unbearable, stretching out before me like a prison sentence, when I seem most dead inside, reduced to mindlessness, bitter tears or both, that what is inmost breaks forth, and I realize that what had seemed ‘dead time’ was actually a period of gestation. It is a quotidian mystery that dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation.”
  • “The contemplative in me recognizes the sacred potential in the mundane task.”
  • “Repetition is both as ordinary and necessary as bread, and the very stuff of ecstasy.”

God gives us work to do. And whether it’s at home, in an office, or even on the mission field, the work often involves repetition. Sometimes He’s inviting us to play. Other times, the mindlessness of the task frees us to worship Him in the midst of our busyness. There are moments in the day when I long for leisure time that is all to myself. Freedom to curl up and read a book. Or catch up on blogs. Or watch Tivo’d episodes of my favorite shows. And then I am reminded that motherhood is my job right now. That’s not to make it sound technical. Being a mother, and staying home with my kids, is a joy and fulfilled dream. But there are duties that come with the package…changing diapers, disciplining, cleaning up toys, preparing food for hungry mouths. Not to mention the sacrifice of self-denial. You can’t always sleep, eat, or play when you want to.

When you want to escape from your responsibilities and mundane tasks for something more exciting or fulfilling, remind yourself that this work is just as important. When you feel like you must be missing your calling, that you can’t possibly be impacting the world for Christ while scrubbing dishes in the kitchen sink, let His Word remind you that He created this assignment just for you! Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

As I reread the thoughts of Kathleen Norris, I was encouraged to embrace the mundane this week and find Him in those moments. In this season of my life, God has called me to be a stay-at-home mom of two toddlers. The days can be long. The work can be exhausting. The chores can seem endless. The time not my own. But when surrendered to Him, the rewards can be big. We don’t have to search in a church service, in a Bible study, through a praise song, or at a big spiritual retreat to find Him. He can be found in every simple and common thing we do.

**If you have particular habits or ways you find God in the mundane, please share in the comments!  I’d love to hear and try your ideas!

Copyright: tomertu / 123RF Stock Photo

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