Sunday, January 24, 2010

Developing a Vision for Your Life

As promised in my last post, today I would like to take a brief look at the idea of vision. Just as it is difficult to reach a destination if we don't know where we are going, we are unlikely to achieve our goals in life unless we clearly identify those aspirations. Later I will discuss more specific details applicable to mothers and homemakers, but first, let us start with an overall vision for ourselves and the kind of life we want to live.

If the Lord took me home to heaven tomorrow, what would I want people to say about me? It may sound strange, but writing out, or at least thinking out, my memorial speech helps me envision the kind of person I want to be. Do I want my children to grow up and remember that when they were little, Mom yelled a lot? Or that she was too busy to help them? Or that she was always on the computer, and seemed irritated when interrupted? Of course not. I pray that my children will see their mother as a kind, gentle, and hardworking servant of the Lord. I want them to remember hugs and words of encouragement and being taught to work hard with a cheerful attitude. Fixing the vision of that kind of mother in my mind helps me to choose words, actions, and attitudes that befit such a character. When my children complain about their breakfast, refuse to do their chores, or fight over who gets to wear the green bib, I can choose to let my flesh take control and react with anger or irritation, or, by God's grace, I can react with patience and love. When I step back for a moment and listen to myself, or imagine what I would look like to others, it is easy to know whether or not I am honoring God by acting like a Godly mother.

Likewise, I try to consider what I would like my husband to say about me to his friends or coworkers. In my ideal world, my husband boasts, "My wife is beautiful inside and out. I don't know how she manages to teach and train our children, keep our home neat and ready for guests, make nutritious meals for all of us, and still look amazing. I hope our daughters grow up to be just like her." Of course, in my ideal world, I am actually able to do all these things! In the real world I may (and consistently do) fall short, but having the vision of the wife, mother, and person I want to be helps me to achieve my goals.

So where does this vision come from? How do we determine exactly which traits and characterisics to strive for? While specific roles and personalities vary greatly, we Christians ought to have the same end goal: to be like Christ. Every day, we are called to pursue Christ-likeness by fixing our eyes on Him in order that God might conform us to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29). Other Christians, from mentors and pastors to heroes of the Bible, can provide inspiration for us, but it is Christ Himself from whence our vision ultimately comes.

The writer of the hymn "Be Thou My Vision" had it right: My Vision, my Wisdom, my Best Thought, is Christ. In order to develop a clear vision for my life and the person God created me to be, I must have a clear vision of who Christ is - a vision that is found by reading and studying His Word. In reading, I learn that Jesus lived a life of holiness, prayerfulness, humility, patience, compassion, goodness, and other such fruits, and He desires that same kind of life for me. As 1 John 2:6 succinctly states, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

As I look ahead at 2010, at what I hope to accomplish and how I hope to grow in grace and knowledge, I am humbled to see how my most lofty human aspirations pale in comparison to the plan God has for me. Diet and exercise resolutions may be forgotten by February, but our resolve to follow Christ is a life-long journey. This year, this day, and every day, I urge you to join me in fixing our eyes on Christ. Let us prayfully allow Him to direct our steps, asking Him to give us a clear vision of His good, pleasing, and perfect will for our lives.

My Goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
'Tis His to lead me there - not mine,but His—
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.
~ Frederick Brook

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Sense of Sight

Something ironic happened in the middle of our homeschool unit on the five senses: We lost our senses.

No, we didn't actually go crazy (though a certain five year old's whining was enough to drive anyone crazy!). Actually, we just got sick. Donny started with cold symptoms and complaining that his mouth hurt when he swallowed. Then his ear hurt. And his eye was full of crusty goop. I took him in to the doctor on Friday in time to find out that he had an ear infection (not a surprise given the symptoms), conjunctivitis (also not a surprise), and strep throat! And although he never displayed any symptoms, Hayden also had the telltale white bumps of strep, so now they are both enjoying a twice-daily sip of bubble gum Amoxicilin to clear up the many infections.

Since his ear has been infected, Donny has been having some trouble hearing (especially when I am giving him instructions...suspicious, isn't it?). Like anyone with a cold, his sense of smell is diminished as well. When we did a smelling activity ("Close your eyes and guess what Mumma is holding under your nose!"), his stuffiness impaired his olfactory abilities. As for the sense of sight, I am the one who suffered the greatest impairment. I woke up on Saturday morning with one eye crusted shut: apparently, despite my careful handwashing, I had contracted Donny's conjunctivitis.

The treatment was easy enough: the doctor called in some prescription antibiotic eye drops for me. I was instructed, by doctor, nurse, and the prescription label, not to wear contact lenses. For most contacts wearers, it might not be a big deal to put on glasses for a few days. But since I hate wearing glasses, I have not bothered to own a pair for the past ten years. I managed high school, college, driving, marriage, giving birth (including surgically), and being up in the middle of the night with fussy babies and sick toddlers, all without the use of glasses, but recently I have been thinking that it might be wise to invest in a pair, and now I am convinced that it would be beneficial. Without my contacts, I can't see!

It's nothing like being in total darkness, of course, but I tend to say that I am blind without my contacts in. I can clearly see less than a foot in front of my face; anything beyond that is blurry. Normally, inserting contacts is the first thing I do in the morning, and removing them is the last thing I do at night, so to spend two entire days without my visual aids was certainly a different point of view. I am so thankful that my dear husband was home to help me! Not only was I unable to drive to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription; I couldn't watch TV, use the computer, or even read without holding the book right in front of my face, or see whatever the boys were trying to show me, or exchange smiles with my baby girl from across the room. Even something as simple as glancing at the clock to check the time was impossible.

When I finally reinserted my contacts after two blurry days, it was amazing how sharp and clear everything was! In spite of the inconvenience, this case of pinkeye gave me a deeper appreciation for my sense of sight (and for the technology that allows me to have sight when my natural eyes fail!). And all of this got me thinking about sight, and vision, and how the words apply to so much more than just that which is right in front of our eyes. Next time I blog, I plan to share some thoughts on having a vision for our lives, which is fitting as we start a new year. Until then, rejoice with me that you are able to read this blog because God has blessed you with the gift of sight!

Ears that hear and eyes that see— the LORD has made them both.

Proverbs 20:12