I learned so much from my African mama friends in Malawi. Their dedication to their families (no matter the sacrifice) was humbling to me. They had real reasons to worry for their children, but had faith that God would always provide, and He always did. Every time I began to complain about my lack of sleep, feeling under appreciated, or over worked, I would quickly feel sick with guilt the moment I saw an African woman. I will probably never know what it is like to physically pour myself out for my children.
Beyond learning about sacrifice, I also learned about contentment. I visited homes that had no kitchen, no bathroom and one bed inside one bedroom for four people. These moms had no dishwashers or bottle warmers, no potty seats with a matching book, no swings or bouncy seats and definitely nothing with the name "Fisher Price" across it. Were they missing out? Were their children unhappy? No, not at all. In fact, their children smiled, laughed and played together more than most kids I know here in the States. Were the mother's lives a little harder?? SURE! The comforts and conveniences offered to us through TARGET and Babies R Us were unknown to them. They got creative or they made without.
I remember one day showing my friend Christina one of those compact sponges from Trader Joes that "grows" when you add water to it. She thought it was a miracle and shouted "America has thought of EVERYTHING!". It was hilarious but also eye opening. We live in a place where we can have almost everything we want, and it will make our lives easier.
I did a Beth Moore bible study last year. She's not my favorite, but it was a good study and I took one big thing away from it that I hope never to forget: We live in a modern day Babylon. We can have whatever we want and can do whatever we want. Compared to the rest of the world, we are spoiled with options. We live in a culture that breeds consumerism. Every holiday is clouded by it, even Easter! Parenting books and magazines convince us that we need the stuff in order to do things right, to keep our children healthy and safe. There is no escaping it, but there is resisting it. Beth Moore would say "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should!".
I believe that as a Christian wife and mother living in such a culture, it is my responsibility to pray for wisdom. I need to pray for strength to resist all the things that promise to make my life easier and happier as a mother. I don't want to be driven by fear and indulge in all the monitors, medicines and protectors. We don't NEED that stuff, we just need to teach our children and be attentive mothers. I want to be like the wife of noble character in Proverbs 31.
Proverbs 31-The wife of noble character
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
She is hospitable and merciful. She probably would need to make sacrifices in order to help the poor and needy, maybe passing by an item in the market and providing a meal instead. I would add to what Beth Moore says about not giving in, though. I don't think we are evil for wanting things for our children. The wife of noble character works hard and cares for her family. Verse 21 says that she clothes her household in scarlet and she herself is clothed in fine linen and purple. She is providing nice things for her family, the best that she can. My mama friends in Malawi did the same. I want to be able to discern between a need and a want. We can live without all the stuff and still be great mothers and teachers, maybe even better!
Preparing for baby number two is not quite as stressful as getting ready for the first. With my first, I wanted to be ready for anything-spills, spit ups, fevers, rashes, growth spurts, seasonal changes, or anything that might be uncomfortable for my baby or myself either during or after the pregnancy. Not only did I want to be ready, but I wanted to be in style! Wow-it's embarrassing to look back. Thankfully, God knows me and protected me from indulging by making me spend my first year as a mother in Malawi. I could only send a few boxes and bring a little with me. He graciously hindered me from having all that I wanted and I learned so much from it.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love design. I love shopping and I love coordinating outfits on little boys. If it weren't for the grace of God, I would be no where near having a noble character as a wife and mother. But God loves me and is showing me (child by child) that I have all I need in His son. I can do without, and in most cases, our family will be happier for it. I am praying for all you new moms out there (mostly in Seattle, yay!!!).
"Be sober minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
1 Peter 5:8
Let's not give in to the devil. Let's be awake and watchful looking out for him and the opportunities he brings us to be foolish with our time and resources. We could give in all day long, but that doesn't mean we should.