"Do Hard Things"

I've been thinking.  And I just realized that much of this thinking is coming around to a theme.  It's about parenting.  And perspective.  And power.

And I'm afraid if I don't stop and let thoughts pour from my fingers and find a place, these words will get lost in the folds of the laundry and never come back to me in quite the same way.

From almost as young as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor.  Well...at first, it was a nurse's uniform I wore to career day at school.  But that interest and passion soon steered me towards looking through the garbage-bag full of college brochures that came in the mail my senior year....trying to decide where to go for pre-med.  It was an agonizing summer.  I had been studying music all my life.  And I didn't want to abandon my music.  But I wanted to add medicine to it.  Long story short, I decided against a university where I could do music and pre-med and instead chose GBS.  Definitely a God thing.  Met amazing husband (who had changed his law school plans to enter the ministerial department.)  Realized that I had a passion for lots of other things.  And above all....I learned to worship during those years.

Fastforward eight years and four babies later....

So now - what am I about?  The medicine bug isn't gone from my blood.  My love for music lives on through my little group of private students. I dabble in some (extremely) amateur photography.   But mostly, these days, I take care of little ones.  Cook. Clean.  Do laundry. Change diapers.  Repeat.  Give spankings. Do dishes.  Repeat.   Practice spelling words.  Feed baby. Repeat.

And I love it.  With all my heart.  But sometimes that pre-college girl returns....sitting on the floor by the fireplace in my room.  Poreing over university brocures: the world open and alive and waiting and mine.  I look, I dream, I scheme.  And then always -- like the power of instinct driving a salmon to its beginning waters -- reality brings me back to my place and my passion for home.

But lately,  my thoughts are funneling into that reality a fresh hope-filled anticipation for my children.  As seems to be God's pattern, when there is a lesson to be learned for this distracted blonde, He sends it through several different forms.  Microphones.  Books.  Friends.  And I look back and realize that there has been a message coming to me from all directions.

Lucy Swindoll - "Irrepressible Hope"
I recently listened to Lucy Swindoll speak.  She is, of course, sister to Chuck Swindoll.  (President of large seminary, recipient many  honorary doctorates and multipleawards, head of Insight for Living...on and on).  And Lucy has touched millions herself through her speaking and writing and spirit.  And as she spoke, the quiet and colorful theme - sort of a gold cord - that ran through her speaking, was the rich training and passion for life that both of their parents gave them.  Never met those parents, never heard anything great about them.  But the children they have produced have literally touched the world with their passion for God and the commitment of their gifts and their spirits to Him.

Ben Carson - "Gifted Hands"
I've been watching the Ben Carson story.  He is a famous and talented Christian surgeon who came from a difficult childhood.  His mother pushed and prodded and believed in him.  She encouraged him to be exceptional.  And she made him read.

Harris Twins - "Rebolution"
I've also been listening to the Harris twins (brothers to Joshua Harris) speak about the summer that started  the "Rebolution" in their lives.  They were bored teenagers.  Their father walked in with a huge stack of substantive books and gave them a summer reading assignment that changed their world.  They went on to write a book called "Do Hard Things."  This book challenges teenagers to rise above the ordinary, to do the hard things that are required to be something for God.  I am struck by their answer to the question of why they actually read all those books their dad suggested.  It was so simple, so obvious.  He was the dad.  He had created and nurtured an authority and a relationship with those handsome teenage boys that was respected and responded to. 

Zac Sunderland - "Around the World"
Zac is a teenage boy who sailed alone around the world at age 16/17.  I mean think about it.  How many 16-year-olds do you know that you'd trust making a trip to the next state, much less sailing alone for a year around the world.  Alone.  There had to be some serious training and investment and deposits made into that boy's person to create a young man strong enough to endure the journey of a year - alone.  Just think about the discipline involved in learning the sailing sport well enough to navigate such a trip.  Think of the hours spent sailing with his father.  Who, by the way, broke into tears and pointed heavenward as he explained that they would not be a family without Jesus.

The evangelist encouraged us during revival to discover our "kingdom assignments" and to invest into them.  I was feeling guilty, after my fourth child was born within 8 years of marriage, about not doing a better job of reaching out to my neighbors (one of whom terrifies me).  And believe me, I am a believer in reaching your neighbors.  But I got to thinking about this:  What if I had a plan in which you could embark that would give you the tools and opportunity to thoroughly evangelize, disciple, train and mentor 4-6 (give or take) people for the first 18 years of their lives!  These individuals would be entrusted to you as generally blank slates.  You would then be given the challenge and opportunity to fill them with the knowledge and understanding of what it means to serve and worship the One True and Living God with all of their being for all of their days.  It doesn't involve knocking on doors or riding busses.  But the hours are grueling.  The process painful.  Not to mention tedious.  And there is no guarantee that they will leave as Worshipers when they turn 18. But the odds are in your favor. And you would not be alone, of course. 

So right now -in this season of my life - this is my kingdom assignment.  It's not like I didn't know if before, it is just coming to me with new freshness.  New excitement.  New possibilites and hope and responsibility and energy and intensity.

Which one of my children's hands might heal and soothe the hurting as they carry a gentle and Godly Spirit into a hospital? 
Which one might become a worshipper in another land?  Or Shepherd a flock?
Which one might  - oh I don't know - write books or study stars or sail around the world or raise a large, godly family?

The only hope of lofty thoughts is the diligence of practical discipline. 

That's where the rubber meets the road.
                  The bow meets the violin. 
                               The paddle meets the bottom. 
                                         The broom meets the floor.

We will never do great things if we don't first dream them.
We will never do great things if we don't first do hard things.

So when my 7-yr-old cries during her math homework...."Do Hard Things."
When my 5-yr-old cries or whines during violin practice....."Do Hard Things."
When my 3-yr-old would rather dance than do chores...."Do Hard Things."

I am challenged to play harder. To laugh with them more.  To sing songs.  To assign more chores.  To take more walks.    To be tougher and more gentle.  To work on myself.  To offer them classic books and clean videos.  To expect more.  To think big thoughts and to talk great talks.
See, fellow Mommies....I suspect we're more important than we feel today. 

                                                         And I think that's exciting.

(And now I drag myself away from the lofty thoughts to the diligent discipline of  - I kid you not - about 10 loads of laundry waiting to be folded. I think we must be the laundriest family in the entire universe.)


Carrie said…
Wow. How I can relate to exactly what you're saying. Wow.
Tracy said…
Our youngest son Isaiah has special needs. He has to attend a special needs public kindergarten program to get the therapy that he needs.He cannot attend Sunday School because they are not equipped to deal with his issues. It has come to my attention in a powerful way over the past few weeks that anything he learns about God is going to come directly from this home...from me.... and from Larry the cucumber. :) More than ever before I am aware that that we cannot rely on Christian school and church to teach our children. These are tools to help build on a foundation that we lay right here at home.
Stephanie said…
What an important message! I think that many of us who are "driven" individuals, find it difficult to value the mundane (laundry, housekeeping, etc.). It is a beautiful thing to finally realize that by making this huge investment called mommyhood, we are giving roots and wings to some of the dreams we may never actually be able to fulfill on our own.
Marianne Brown said…
Sarah, Once again, thank you! All mommies need to once and awhile catch a glimpse of the big picture. We're so caught up in dealing with all the little details that at times we lose sight of the goal toward which we are striving to reach. I had "big" dreams too...though I'm not sure but what they were much smaller than where I find God has placed me at this point in my life. Thanks again for the reminder.
Raylin said…
Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you.
Ronda said…
What an AWESOME post...I am going to come back and read it again when I have a few extra Mommy moments...:)
Thanks so much for sharing such beautiful thoughts, Sarah! God gave you so many wonderful gifts(One, being the gift of writing beautiful words and thoughts)...what a challenge to share them with your own darling kids. I know that you are a GREAT Mom. Loved all of the "examples" of people that were challenged/loved by their parents!
"A" said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jody J said…
This post excites me. Thanks!
Valorie said…
Love this, Sarah. You speak for so many of us!
Juwah said…
Thanks so much for this post. What a great reminder and a great inspiration to keep doing the hard things. The future depends on it.
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