The nest is tiny and delicately woven. The materials are simple and humble—field grass. It sits on the nature shelf in our dining room, a perfect little cup that once held the cream-and-speckled promise of life.
Even now, it holds a promise.
“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.” (Psalm 84:3)
We squish our way along a muddy track through the woods—the girls and I. We’re looking in the trees for flashes of colour and trills of song. Signs of spring though it’s early yet. We spy some black-capped chickadees and some large, loud crows. Winter birds. Still, they are more interesting than the sparrows that frequent our yard at home.
We barely notice the sparrows anymore. They are common and nondescript.
There are no birds of note to be found anywhere quite yet, I think to myself. I’m not interested in crows and sparrows.
But God is.
When we return home again, I spy the little grass nest on the dining room shelf, a gift from a friend. And it reminds me just how much He loves the sparrow. Psalm 84:3 is a promise for the year and for my lifetime.
Because even the overlooked and insignificant are seen and welcome in the most holy of places—the place where heaven meets earth.
Because I’m invited to make my home at the altar too, close to the Father’s heart—yes, even me, a common sparrow.
Because His Presence is life and I want our lives to be infused with His. He also wants our lives to be infused with His. My heart and my desire is to raise my little ones in His shadow, and He makes room for me there.
He desires to be with us. It’s a beautiful truth that changes everything. We don’t have to chase Him. He’s not playing hard to get. We don’t have to try to be anything other than who He has created us to be.
We’re invited to simply come and dwell with Him.
When I see this tiny grass nest, I am reminded. The little brown bird trilling its song is seen by the Father. It is heard. It is loved.
“Older women … are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:3-5, NIV)
I feel it acutely. There’s my mom, of course. She is an amazing, godly woman who is filled with the kind of wisdom that can only come from the years behind her. I’m lucky to have her. But other than that? There isn’t too much interaction between generations, much of the time.
Sometimes, I wonder if the lack of older mentors is the reason my generation—the generation of young parents—seems so lost. There are parenting books, of course. Online home management courses. Sermons and podcasts.
But few pour into us on a personal level.
We discuss it amongst each other—how to love our husbands, raise our children and manage our homes.
How to be self-controlled.
But there is something to be said for the wisdom that comes from long-life experience. Yes, we glean from those alongside us in the trenches, but we also desperately need those who have already fought our same battles and won.
(Or even lost. Because every scar tells a story.)
Last night, I drove 30 minutes down dark country roads to a complete stranger’s house. A friend had invited me. I parked on the street and stumbled up the driveway in the inky blackness, towards windows spilling warm light.
The woman who owned the house welcomed me graciously. Although her children are grown, she opens her home on a regular basis to younger homeschooling moms. Her heart—her beautiful heart—is to pour into the next generation.
Women from all over came—some drove longer distances than I did. She put out carafes of coffee, tea and dainty, floral cups. We packed into her living room to pray and learn together.
And she explained to each new, shy face how the Lord has called her to provide support, encouragement, and to live out Titus 2:3-5.
The Church needs people like this.
Older women, we need you.
We don’t always know how to say it, but we need you to open your lives to us. To open your homes to us. To offer advice. To come alongside us and tell us that we’ll make it through the hard days. To smile with us on the joy-filled days. To teach us what it means to be good wives and mothers.
You see, there’s a lot at stake.
Our families, yes. But according to Titus 2:5, how we manage our families and homes also affects people’s perception of the Word of God.
According to Titus 2:5, the gospel is at stake.
You, who are on the other side, have so much to offer.
It was a full-blown tantrum. A messy outburst replete with yelling and tears.
I don’t act like a two-year old often, but when I do, I do it well.
I had been talking to my husband about homeschooling—about character, of all things. “I’m just not a good enough mom to do this!” I wailed. “How am I supposed to raise children who love Jesus when I make so many mistakes? I’m not the one for this job. We should send the kids back to Christian school as soon as we can.”
I had attended the first day of a local homeschooling conference and had come home feeling completely overwhelmed. The tears flowed and, with them, the accusations.
“Why can’t I be like the other homeschooling moms in the church—who have it all together? What craziness made me think that I could ever do this?”
Then, in the middle of the storm inside, I remembered. There is an enemy of our souls who wants to attack us where we are weakest. He wants to fill us with doubt. If he can convince us that we’ll fail, we will simply give up, and we will never see the purposes of God fulfilled in our lives or in the lives of our children.
I stopped short and turned to my husband. “I’m so sorry. I need to pray.” As he and I spent the next few minutes taking authority over every lie and speaking the truth of God’s Word into our situation, a peace began to settle over my spirit. Still, I couldn’t completely shake the question: Do I have what it takes?
The next day was the second day of our local homeschooling conference. Lord, speak to me today, my heart cried. I need deep-down reassurance. I need truth.
From the very first session, the Lord’s voice was loud and clear. The speaker, Louise House, was an older woman, a seasoned homeschooler with a curriculum distribution company—someone with years of wisdom to offer.
“Since Adam, there has never been another you,” she told us. “Your family is a rare jewel. God has ordained and given you the children that you have. He has placed you as their parents. It is not a mistake that He has brought you together as a family.”
I fought back tears. Oh how desperately I needed this reminder! When God knit my girls together in my womb, He knew what He was doing. He gave those children to me because He knew that I had something to offer those girls that no one else in all of history could offer!
And then this: “God doesn’t look for people who have it all together. He called Noah to build a boat when Noah had never even seen a boat. If God calls you, He will make a way for you.”
Later that afternoon, Jonathan Lewis, editor of Home School Enrichment magazine, spoke about raising world-changers. “There are people we can’t reach that our children can reach,” he said. “Our children are arrows. We don’t launch an arrow into battle before it’s equipped, but once it has been prepared, we launch it. And when we shoot it out, it reaches places we can’t reach. Our children will go out and bring about God’s purposes in their own time and place.”
I’ve heard similar wording before—a word given to me many years ago, before I had even met the amazing man who I would one day wed: “You are a bow. … God is taking His time to prepare you. Someday, God will bring along the right guy and he will be a bow right next to you. And together, you will shoot people into the bulls-eye of the purposes of God for their lives.”
I had asked the Lord to speak to me, and there was no doubt that He was speaking, reminding me of my calling—my destiny. Life gets messy and I make mistakes. Lots of them. But walking shoulder to shoulder with my husband and raising our girls? I was born for this.
It’s so easy, as parents and as homeschoolers, to focus on all the ways that we fail our children every day. After all, there are many. But God has called us to this and He will enable us to grow, mature and succeed. As Louise House put it, “God knows what we need, how we can endure, and how to grow us to be more like Him. There is nothing beyond Him.”
Never have I been so encouraged.
When we walk in the will of the Lord and according to His Word, there is only one possible outcome, and that is to accomplish all that He has called us to do. You see, the question is not, “Do I have what it takes?” The question is, “Does He have what it takes?”
My chin rests on the crown of her head as she snuggles deep into my lap. She never used to be a snuggler, not even as a newborn. She would cry if you cradled her; she wanted to be upright and looking around. But now her lanky frame is curled up awkwardly in my arms and I treasure this moment.
“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor,” she says.
“That’s great! If you want to become a doctor, you can become one.” It’s true. This one’s as smart as a whip. “You’d be a very good doctor.”
She’s a little girl with big dreams. It brings back memories.
“When I was little, I wanted to be a writer and a teacher,” I tell her.
“But now you can’t do those things,” she replies matter-of-factly. “You have kids.”
Funny. I used to feel that way. Like somehow, I had to sacrifice my hopes, my dreams—my whole life—on the altar of motherhood.
I was wrong.
“Being a mommy doesn’t mean that I can’t do those things.” I need her to understand this. “Right now, I’m doing those things. All of them. I write every day. I teach you girls. But being a mommy is my favourite thing of all.”
She looks up at me and then wriggles in a little closer. “Being a kid with a mommy is my favourite thing of all.”
It’s moments like these ones that make it all worth it.
It seems strange now that there used to be this thing under the surface—my constant sense of failure—a roiling, bubbling volcano that would manifest itself in the ugliest of ways. Resentment. Everyone felt it. My oldest child had frequent tantrums. My middle child would quietly suck her thumb and twirl her hair into knots. My husband, who was in school full time, bore the burden of the home and was stressed to the max. And marriage was rocky.
But then, there was that moment—the moment in which my perspective changed completely. (If you missed that story, I shared it here.)
It has been almost a year since the big change, and the difference in our home is marked. My oldest has stopped throwing tantrums entirely. My middle child now only twirls her hair occasionally. My husband is much more relaxed and constantly tells me how much he appreciates the things that are done around the house. And as for our marriage, the truth is, I’m kind of crushing on him big time these days.
Even on the hard days, the peace that has flooded our home is incredible.
My daughter took me into the backyard today to show me the buds on the trees. As we were about to go back inside, we spotted a tiny snowdrop emerging from a bed of last year’s dead leaves. Although it looked fragile, it is strong enough to withstand the blustery spring winds and freezing April nights. My daughter smiled wide as we bent low and examined the bloom. It was beautiful.
I saw myself in that small white flower. A miraculous life emerging, bringing beauty into my family, into my home. I’m strong because the life that flows through my veins is strong—Christ’s beauty in me.
A friend once told me that, as a mom, you set the atmosphere of your home. I think she’s right. If there is unrest in you, you will bring unrest into your home. But if you are at peace, you will bring peace into your home.
Of course, there will always be circumstances—and other people’s attitudes and actions—that are out of your control. And you’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them.
But even in chaos, you bring beauty because Christ in you is beautiful.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity…” (Proverbs 31:25).
That, right there, is what motherhood is all about.