Though many don't agree with the large number of children that Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar have or think they are too ultra-conservative, I like them. Though I admit to not agreeing 100% with their views, I can't deny that you are hard pressed to find a more loving, more God-centered family in today's society. I had ordered the book mostly because I wanted to read more about how she structures her day and how she instills such a strong faith in her children. Truth be told: I also wanted to know how on earth she can have such a sweet disposition with that many children. My goodness! She always seems to answer with such praise and a soft voice.
I'm not quite that way, yet I long to be more so! Just last night, I reached my limit over some issues and ran away. LITERALLY! I dropped what I was in the middle of doing (cooking dinner) and literally put my shoes on, grabbed my keys and purse and walked out the door. It was one of "those" days that I just couldn't handle another single second without exploding and causing damage to my children's or husband's emotions. Nothing really was THE thing that pushed me over the edge. It was just one of those days. I think many of you moms (especially stay at home and homeschool moms) understand. No matter how much we value and love our family, cherish them and devote EVERYTHING.....we just reach the limit. In that moment, I had two choices: say or do something that would be hard to erase or just walk away and cool down. I chose the later. Maybe it wasn't the right way to handle my frustration or maybe it was.
Last night as I read her book, so many things popped out about the way I want to raise our family. LOTS of practical tips. Here is the thing: NONE of them were quick answers. Every tactic she offers requires commitment and consistency. An excellent book. Looking for ways to really make scripture come alive and be fun? It's in the book. Want to have that "soft" voice she is famous for? It's in the book. Need homeschooling advice on structure? It's in the book. Want ways to commit to debt free living in practical situations? It's in the book. Want to know how to raise children with manners and mission-mindedness? It's in the book.
I was really surprised to find out that her house wasn't spotless. I had that misconception from the years we watched the show (this is one show we miss from no longer having regular or cable TV). She tried that for so long and finally gave up. She made this statement and I am finding such freedom in it. "If you're coming to see US, come anytime. If you're coming to see the HOUSE, please give us two week's notice." I'm struggling with finding that balance. I'm a perfectionist and have trouble feeling comfortable when ours is in less than 100% company ready shape. I'm not winning as much at that battle as I need and I'm learning more daily about finding the balance between perfection and acceptance.
Though they have more children than I can dream of having, I identify with their family. I love what they stand for. I love her heart as a mother. I love the way their children are independent, well mannered, intelligent and using their God-given talents. They are EACH uniquely different. Despite the fact that they may seem old-fashioned, they are on the right track in my opinion. Critics say they've never had to struggle with real life and heartache. Read the book. You'll find that is absolutely not the truth.
Perhaps the biggest encouragement I found in the entire book is the main point I wanted to share. It's a poem that touched me so deeply. It's very easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed when your "just" a stay at home mother. I won't get into all of that. Anyone that knows me or reads my blog very often, knows where my heart is on that issue. Even though I believe it is without a doubt a ministry and calling, it IS discouraging. Some people can quickly harm you with their words. Even family---the ones that you feel like should be the last to hurt you. Satan is the author of lies and when we aren't careful our hearts can begin to listen. For those of you that are feeling some of that same discouragement, let me leave you with this beautiful poem that Michelle shared by Roy Lessin. Though I have several plagues in our home that display his words, I had never heard this one. It touched me so deeply. Hope it encourages your heart as well.
A woman fretted over the usefulness of her life.
She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother.
She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference.
At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated.
"Is it worth it?" she often wondered. "Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?"
It was during one of these moments of questioning she heard the still, small voice of her Heavenly Father speak to her heart.
"You are a wife and mother because that is what I called you to be.
Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye, but I notice.
Most of what you give is done without remuneration.
But I AM YOUR REWARD.
Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support.
Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know.
I bless him through your service and honor him through your love.
Your children are precious to me.
Even more precious than they are to you.
I have entrusted them to your care to raise for Me.
What you invest in them is an offering to Me.
You may never be in the public spotlight, but your obedience shines as a bright light for Me.
Continue on. Remember you are my servant.
Do all to please me."
Absolutely changes everything when you read that. Doubts fade away. That overwhelming exhaustion finds a boost of energy. Uncertainty finds stability. Lack of focus suddenly finds perspective and priorities.