The best way to be reminded to show kindness to others is to remember how much kindness you have been shown. It becomes much easier to forgive when you remember how God has forgiven you. (Also, sorry for the background noise. Lucius was playing his LeapFrog behind me!)
Rafael is taking the girls out to a father-daughter dance tonight. Whoever their future husbands are, they will have some big shoes to fill! Rafa models to them how to expect to be treated by future men in their life by the loving and gentle way he is with me. He is diligent in reminding them what true love looks like and how worthy they are of it.
We are praying for you, future bonus sons. We love you and we are looking forward to meeting you (not for awhile though!). Here are some practical scriptures I pray for the children who will be my sons-in-law someday:
I pray that he will confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord. (Romans 10:9)
I pray that he would be a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)
I pray that his childhood and young adulthood would be filled with teachers who will equip him for the work of ministry and building up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
I pray that he honors his parents, that he will enjoy a long life. (Ephesians 6:3)
I pray that his parents (or other godly adults in his life) are training him up in the way he should go and that he would never depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
I pray that his heart is good soil, and that he hears God’s word, retains it, and persevere. I pray that satan would not snatch God’s word from his heart. Lord, don’t let the worries, riches, or pleasures of this live choke Your word and make it unfruitful in his life. Let Your roots go deep, so he can stand firm in the times of testing. (Luke 8:11-15)
I pray that he is a child of God in a wicked and depraved generation, and that he shines like a star in the universe as he hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:16)
In a lot of circles, hospitality is thought of as a gift for women. I don’t have a very good memory, but I don’t think I can remember one man in any of my previous small groups saying that he has the gift of hospitality. If I asked my dad’s generation if they
We have a friend who extends hospitality as part of his ministry, shared this article to teach us about hospitality, and I found it so interesting. So often, I think of hospitality as just having people over. I think that entertaining my friends is enough to be considered as a hospitable person. But the Bible says differently. Matthew 5:47 “And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Another verse, Romans 12:2, has always been an encouraging verse to me. Verse three gets overlooked, but it shouldn’t. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” But what does it mean to really show hospitality?
When Rafael found out that many people who visit the U.S. never see the inside of an American’s home, he was surprised and personally convicted to change that. One of his Mexican co-workers was coming to the U.S. to visit headquarters last week, so Rafael checked in with me and took the opportunity to invite him over.
And let’s be honest. Three kids, job, homeschooling…I often don’t feel gifted in hospitality either. The day to day is often enough to fill my minutes. Completely. But if I make excuses that they are all filled, when do I have room to invite someone else in?
We have a standing goal of having people over 3 times per month on Saturdays for brunch. But hospitality has been at the top of my mind. So when Rafael asked if we could have a guest over in the middle of the week, I was convicted. I simply said, “Of course.” Pot roast was a perfect meal. I was able to teach and take the girls to gymnastics as usual, while the meal for our guest was becoming perfection. I came home and prepped the table, and we were ready.
So I want to encourage you in pot roast hospitality. Put in a meal that looks fancy, but is actually quite easy. Work in into your life and among the appointments you already have. Open your doors to people who show up in the peripheral edges of your work or your every day life. Have dinner and let God work.
I have heard a lot of home-based moms talk about the “lonely season” of motherhood. I want to start by saying I understand where that comes from. When we live in a culture that marginalizes families and downgrades mothering, it is easy to feel alone. We start to ask ourselves, “What do I do all day? Is it worth it? Why do I do it? Would a day to day job be better?” I think every mom has a moment (or many) when they are all alone and question themselves, “Am I really cut out for this?”
When I want to answer that question, I look back to my time in the corporate world. I loved working at Target. I really did. I worked with awesome, smart, funny and interesting people. I was also good at it. I was promoted on a regular basis. I was happy with my pay. I had the chance to work on things that were really exciting. Somewhere, in the back of the closet in a big plastic tub of stuff I call keepsakes, I have an award plaque signed by the then-CEO for my contributions to a big project.
But those times I stayed at work late, the times I stressed out over getting something done, well…you know what? I don’t remember what those things were now. I can guarantee the leaders that I was working for don’t remember it now either. The director I worked for six years ago does not go to bed at night thinking, “Lord, I’m so thankful that Sarah finished that big report I needed for a 10 minute meeting with a senior vice president back in 2009. She spent so much time on it and I know she worked as hard as she could on it. What a blessing. I am so thankful for her contributions.”
In very stark contrast, when my three year old goes to bed at night, I prompt her to tell God what she is thankful for. Almost every night, she immediately says, “I am thankful for MOMMY!” When people ask my five year old if she is in school, she proudly tells them, “Yes! I am in kindergarten. I have the best teacher.” You guys, she is talking about me. ME! No accomplishment in any career setting could ever bless my heart like that. My one year old asks for “ups ups” about 1,589,293 times per day and yes, my arms get tired. But I am the one that gets to see his big smile when he gets so proud of himself for communicating what he wanted as I pick him up and squeeze. These are the bright spots, affirming each step God has purposed for us has been worth it. Any moments of loneliness or lack of recognition or questions about my mothering ability vanish.
I know it is not always bright. About a year ago, I probably was in the most lonely situation of my life. It was our first rainy season (aka winter) in Seattle after living here about six months. My kids were 4, 2, and 5 months. My husband was still pretty new in his job and working long-ish hours, although thankfully I didn’t have it nearly as bad as some of the Amazon widows I have heard about. My block had no other young kids and all moms who worked outside of the home. All my family and close friends live 1,700 miles away. My mother in law was recovering from surgeries and needed some extra help at home. We were starting to get involved with our church, but were still in the “dating” phase of relationships.
Here is what I discovered. Mothering loneliness – is it a season? Maybe. But does it matter? No. My loneliness is temporary and fixable. The work I am doing as a mother is immeasurably more valuable than a fleeting feeling. The discipleship that I am so blessed to do day in and day out has eternal rewards. Did you catch that? Eternal.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
When that temporary feeling of loneliness crept up, I didn’t let it overtake me. I could not. I held onto the promises of God and kept driving forward for the benefit of my little ones. And God was faithful. So faithful. He answered our prayers for a house near our church. Once we moved, acquaintances became close friendships with the help of proximity. It is so much easier to walk three kids one block to the park than to pack them all up in car seats and get them in and out of the car! He lead us to service opportunities at church and authentic community to share our time with.
If you are in what you would describe as a season of loneliness, do not give up. Focus on what matters (doing good) and you will reap of harvest of blessing from that. Mothering can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.
We are so excited about 2017. Last year was a year of growth in our family. Our last child moved through the infant stage and we are looking forward to what life is like with a toddler, preschooler and kindergartner. Rafa surpassed a year in his new role, beat the average Amazon tenure of 14 months, and is looking forward to upcoming challenges. We moved to a house we will be in for awhile, settled down, and building our life within a fantastic community. We will reach SEVEN years of marriage and are growing strong together and in ministry. God is so very good.
Since Rafael and I came together in the corporate world, it only makes sense that our new year’s planning would have a corporate feel. Instead of resolutions, which seem frail and fickle, we have a roadmap. Mine is linear, wordy and ordered, of course; Rafa’s is a diagram, leading to relationships and overall destinations. But even though one of us loves a plan and the other loves a picture, we are ending up at the same place. We have a map in the center of our roadmaps to mark progress, plans and victories. Rafa will take his results to his accountability group each week.
I have updated my home binder to reflect my plans and assist me in achieving them. My home management binder is a tool I created very early in our marriage (with the help of an awesome accountability partner! Hi if you’re reading this!!). There are 12 sections in my binder. They have changed as we have moved five times in our seven years of marriage, added three kids, etc., but the overall direction is the same.
The front of my binder has a question to myself. You know the saying, “show me a man’s checkbook and I’ll tell you his values?” Well I think that applies to how we steward one of our greatest gifts, time, as well. I challenged myself – if someone were looking at my schedule and how I spent each hour of the day, would their analysis reflect the values I hold? Approximately six years ago, I wrote:
What am I about?
Being a wife
What did I do today to achieve in these areas?
I might word it differently now (achieve? Maybe “make progress”) and I would definitely have things to add (but since being a wife started it all, I will extent that sentiment into mothering as well). I leave it because the question remains the same. Does the way I am spending time reflect these priorities?
My home management binder has daily/weekly/monthly chore schedules, events, pantry lists, a place for those pesky manuals you don’t know what else to do with… But the greatest thing is the weekly meal planner and recipes. I have written about meal planning before, but it’s always great to update it with new favorites and reflect changing tastes. My binder is updated for 2017 and I look forward to NOT spending time figuring out meals, recipes and shopping lists!
So bring it on, 2017. The Sorianos are ready for you!