It's been a long and wonderful summer for us here at the Neals. I love my front porch, I love the more relaxed mood, and I love projects in the summer. So between my projects and my porch there have been no posts since June! :)
These posts are a walk down memory lane for me. I am doing them at the request of my husband. He felt it would be good for me to meditate on all the wonderful blessings the Lord has given us. He's right--it is good to remember the kindness, patience and goodness of the Lord as my Shepherd, my Teacher, and my Friend. (and so much more)
In my last post I told how the Lord gave us our second child-Alicia. What lessons He had for me in two little girls. They looked different and their personalities were different. Niki started talking in phrases at 15 months. Alicia took her time in talking, but was pulling up in her crib early on. She walked first, and her motor skills were advanced. My mother had often told me not to expect the same thing from my second child as my first one, but now I was learning firsthand how different two children could be.
Alicia's curious nature was always there. She was always discovering something new. Niki, on the other hand, would be walking behind me asking hundreds of adult-type questions. I was absolutely enthralled with being the mother of two unique little girls.
At this time I had been growing spiritually and began reading biographies of great Christians. As a little girl my mother often read us stories of great Christians. I remember Hudson Taylor, Johanna Veenstra, Mary Slessor and Nate Saint as some of the heroes that we had as children. The sweet memories of these stories motivated me to start reading on my own.
I began to realize how important a prayer life was, how important reading my Bible daily was. Part of it was because I had become a woman and the other part was realizing how important being a mother was.
We lived in a small gray house that the church owned that sat in a lot adjacent to the church. What sweet memories I have there! I was learning the art of being a homemaker. The floors were old grey tile, but I polished them with Future wax to make them shine. I spent time looking at cookbooks so I could have a hot meal waiting for my husband when he got home from work. I enjoyed decorating with items that had been given to me.
I rehearsed in my mind things that my grandmother and mother had said while we were just chatting that now made sense. My grandma had told me to always make sure my beds were made, my dishes done and my living room was tidy. That way if company came I wouldn't be ashamed of my house.
So what was the wonderful work in this time of my life? Well, the Lord was just beginning the lesson of contentment in my life. (And I had to repeat this grade for several years!)
I had been given the gift of parents who had their value system straight. Possessions had no hold on them. My mother had told me she remembered reading a biography of Isobel Kuhn who said to always hold your possessions on an open hand to the Lord and to "never curl up your fingers on them."
My parents were in full-time ministry most of their adult lives and they always had to pinch the pennies. But you never sensed they resented it or felt they'd missed something. They had found something bigger than having the right car, or the right house, or even the right clothes. They had found how to have food and raiment and be very content.
Now we were living life on a tight budget with two little girls that needed clothes, doctor visits and food on the table. I had a choice to make--resent it and fight it or learn what my parents had learned. That lesson was how to depend on God and be thankful for what He provided. I began to pray specifically for things like winter coats, shoes and grocery money for the week.
At the same time I was so very happy. I had a husband who loved me, made me feel cherished, found joy in being the breadwinner and caring for his little family. Our marriage was a happy one. We had two healthy little girls. I found that I could get more joy out of bathing a baby, or sitting under a shade tree and watching them play then in going shopping. I got more joy out of fixing a new recipe than having a new outfit. I found out that sitting on the porch with my husband after the girls had gone to bed and listening to the night sounds gave me more joy than going on the town for a night.
Although I didn't realize it this wasn't just my personality--it was a gift from the Lord. I also didn't realize that this is the by-product that comes with carrying out your life in agreement with how the Lord designed the home and family. When we do it His way it produces a deep contentment and joy in our hearts.
How thankful I am now for the parents, the grandparents, the church and the husband God had so graciously given me. All these had played a part in my being able to live in a tiny house with a tiny budget with very used furniture and hand-me-down clothes feeling like I was one of the richest women that ever lived!
Today I look back with such gratefulness for all the wonderful blessings in my life that I took for granted then. How I thank the Lord for the memories of the smallest beginnings in my life of I Timothy 6:6--"But godliness with contentment is great gain."