It's no secret that I'm not a HUGE fan of ladies' meetings or conferences - at least, not the type of meetings I imagine they are. I've never been a girly-girl, rarely been excited to sit around whispering hushed secrets of laundry stain removal (obviously), time management (obviously) or sharing "prayer requests" while other women nod knowingly. Raised eyebrows optional.
Of course, the few times I've actually gone to a church retreat or conference or seminar, it was about 300% better than I expected.
A big part of me hungers for a woman to speak God's Word in a practical, deep, knowing way - without the trappings of "we women" and "you know how it is, ladies." Because I'm just a believer, hungry for God and His Word, true Christian fellowship, adult conversation about things that really matter, and I happen to be a woman.
And maybe other women really love those trappings, and I'm just the odd one (no surprises if that is the case) and I know God uses it, because He can and does use anyone at any time to accomplish HIS purposes. And lately, He has been using that phrase, that I heard at a women's conference, to be my mantra.
This work that He has me doing is not easy. It's not the hardest thing anyone has ever done - don't get me wrong. My friend Heather is now in Heaven, and the struggle of her journey these last few months doesn't even compare to my daily life. And, my daily life isn't even that different from what people and families have done for generations, with varying degrees of uniqueness and difficulty. It's not a comparison game, this work, our struggles.
I do know that is that it is the hardest thing I've ever done, and I do struggle with what God wants me to do. I pray, I worry, I wonder. I cry out for wisdom, I wallow in failures, I choose joy and I choose self-pity. I change diapers, I nurse a baby, I home school a crazy kindergartener, I corral and/or occupy a busy three year old, I make a lot of mistakes, I learn much of grace - and at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. In a very, very good way.
I would love to say that I love every minute, but I don't. I don't love the sibling spats, I don't love watching my beautiful children's eyes darken in defiance, and I don't love my reactions. I don't love sin, I don't love watching people I love suffer, I don't love wondering if I'm really getting to the heart of the matters at hand, and I DON'T love knowing that it's a process and I'll never really know the answer to 93% of my questions until the answer is no longer relevant.
However, there is a lot that I do love. I do love those hilarious quotables, the giggle fests, the made up stories, the hugs for no reason at all, the "I love you mommy" whispers, the slow, milk-drunk grin of the baby, the lightbulb moments, the good news, the supportive arm of a loving spouse, the excellent (albeit endless) questions, and so, I'm doing more than surviving.
Sometimes God lets me step back, and look, and see this tiny part of what He has already done, and it is awesome. It's this strange and wonderful painting of darks and lights. It's uniquely ugly and uniquely bright. It's something I could never have dreamed up. It's breathtaking.
I have to seize this calling, this thing He has created me to do, and I have to cling to Him, to lean on Him heavily. He wants me to trust, to let go of my own ideas, the desire for things I can't know or control, and grasp this, grasp Him. It is then that I thrive.
"14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?" (1 Cor 2:14-16, niv)