Motherhood: a parent’s workspace.

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In my work, I am not confined to a small cuticle, nor is my work completed in a spacious, finely decorated office. I have a very large workspace though, that spans even down the block at the park and a mile away at the market. My workspace is the place where I create ideas, care for issues, finish deadlines, troubleshoot problems, rearrange supplies, file items, organize expenditures, make calls, have tough, disciplinary conversations with those under me, clean up every kind of mess left by the less equipped, and climb a ton of different ladders to fulfill my many types of assignments. My workspace is also where I live. I work from home, without complaint. I work overtime, without monetary return. I work to present myself well everyday even after all of my late nights. I fill shoes that hurt, often. I handle situations that are uncomfortable and demeaning, often. I wonder everyday if I will make a difference.

I am a parent.

My lifestyle has to be closed off to outsiders sometimes. My friends tell me I am too caught up in my work. Sometimes it feels like an addiction. I can’t get enough of the time I spend investing in my career path. I pour my whole self into my job, caring deeply for the cause I am a part of. I quietly watch for the potential attributes of those under me and aim to bring out their best qualities. It will be decades before, if ever, they realize what my actions will provide for them. I aim to create situations where those in my care will be best served. I create those situations with their best in mind, not mine, no matter what I read in the news. I sacrifice what I think they should be, for what they were inherently intended to be.

I am a parent.

I aim to please my manager. To be available for him, for whatever projects he needs completed. I present myself to him with confidence and poise, while understanding that I still need his guidance and leadership most of the time. I am ready and at his disposal, even with all of the tasks I am presented with. I am sure to work diligently under his direction, fulfilling my assignments and participating with my team well. Some days he is quick to affirm me, just to remind me that I am doing well. Somedays, he hones in on a lacking skill and challenges me to be better tomorrow.

I am a parent.

I didn’t choose this job, in fact, it was handed to me. The job itself needed me, was created for me, my title named because of me. Whether or not my job gets accomplished is not dependent on my performance. I am my career & those under me are effected by my daily choices, whether or not I preform them well. I carry the burden of multiple livelihoods and the future that follows. I bare the weight of generations of people, both my sins and triumphs passed down through them.

I am a parent.

I care for the helpless, feed the hungry, clothe the cold. It’s nice to know I am making a difference in the little things, even if they are just little things. I offer myself, for another, every moment of everyday. Everything I have is poured out and at the end of my day, as my head hits the pillow, though my mind is planning tomorrow and my ear listening for the slightest whimper, I still find myself thankful.  Even through exhaustion, unproductive moments, and dreams put on hold, I am fulfilled in my job. I have never felt this kind of fullness with any other job. I have also never felt this kind of sacrifice with any other job.

So no, I don’t have a normal “job”. I don’t clock in and out and I don’t wear all of the nice pant suits. I don’t fight corporate giants and I don’t get a normal paycheck deposited into my account. I don’t drive a nice car, but I’m also not in debt for it. I don’t feel the need to present myself as a perfect specimen of human production and exponential growth and I have no need to impress anyone. We live simply and we have a few nice things. Our office space is filled with love and hugs, but there is also stress and discipline at times.

I don’t look like I have it together, because, well, I don’t. But that’s okay, because the life that I live, my family and I, spend it together.

I am a parent & I like it that way.

 

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unloved: the life of Leah | the deal with mandrakes.

This post is apart of my 31 days of writing challenge where I am zooming in on the life of Leah. How she was unloved & hated, but God saw her. How she was jealous & fearful, but God honored her. We can learn a lot from Leah, so won’t you join me? To stay updated, please follow my facebook page here. To read the biblical account of Leah’s life, see Genesis 29 & on.

If you’ve missed previous posts, click here.

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If you read Genesis 30:14-31, you’ll find an interesting story that reveals to us a few things about the dynamic in the home of Leah and Rachel.

First, I did a little research on mandrakes and what I found was interesting. They are a plant surrounded by folklore and mystical implications. Josephus, a biblical era scholar wrote this about mandrakes,

“A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear.”

The plant is not poisonous, but it is a narcotic and hallucinogen. In biblical times, this drug was considered pagan and is even still used today in witchcraft cults, such as Wicca and Odinism. It’s most common wives tale is that it increases fertility.

(source)

So, I have to ask: what was Reuben, the son of Jacob, son of Abraham, called by the Lord God, doing bringing his barren mother a stack of pagan-associated roots to help her infertility? Reuben is most likely a boy at this point, maybe seven or eight. He probably had friends who were not Jewish and told him about the mandrakes increasing a mother’s childbearing. Perhaps he wanted another little brother. I wonder if he uprooted them like Josephus said and was willing to sacrifice his puppy dog for them. He obviously saw the rivalry between his moms and wanted to give Leah a head start on childbearing, even though she had beat Rachel 4-0 at this point. Maybe he just thought its blooms were pretty and knew nothing about the folklore surrounding them.

Either way, Rachel did know about the folklore surrounding them and endeavored to snatch them up as soon as she found out Reuben had them. We will call this the first ever recorded drug deal.

In chapter 31 of Genesis, Jacob is ready to leave and cleave. He wants to take his family and move away from Laban. He tries to reason with Laban, but he can’t and therefore flees in the middle of the night with his wives and children. Laban catches up with them and one (of many) things he yells at Jacob for is stealing some of his household gods. And so Laban begins to search through everyone’s things. Interestingly enough, he starts with Jacob (he’d trust his daughters before his son-in-law), then Leah’s tent (his least favorite daughter), then to Rachel’s tent (the favored one). Laban finds nothing, but guess who hid them the whole time!? Rachel. AND guess who lied about “the way of a woman” being upon her (code for menstrual cycle), while she sat on her precious little idols? Rachel.

This makes me question if Rachel ever really loved Jacob or longed for the Messiah like he did.

Earlier, when Rachel demands that Leah give her the fertility roots, since Leah was still ahead in childbearing, Leah uses this to her benefit. She asks for a night with her husband. (note: How sad for Leah! That she had to barter for the affection and attention of her man!) Rachel must have held some kind of authority as head wife for Leah to have to bargain. Or it was simply the fact that Jacob preferred Rachel. At this point, because of Leah’s happy, healthy uterus, Rachel was probably doing all she could to keep Leah from bearing more children. Well, Rachel’s trade backfired, because we see that Leah became pregnant that night, and twice more after that.

The mandrakes were dangerous for Rachel, but not in the way that the myths project. She was looking to worldly things to fill her and bring her honor. We see however, that Rachel didn’t conceive until she got on her knees and asked her Heavenly Father for a son, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son . . . and she called his name, Joseph.” (Genesis 30:22-24)

This shows us that God doesn’t take sides and that He doesn’t hold our past sin against us. He worked in both Leah and Rachel’s lives despite their failures and their hidden idols.

And He can work in yours, too!

p.s. to read more on the mandrake click here.

 Watch, everyday, for 31 days in the month of October, as we get into the story of Leah and walk with her as her feet trod aside a God who saw her.

note: I am doing my best to get the word out to everyone who could benefit from the Unloved series | a peek into the life of Leah, but I need your help! Please share away on your social media(s) of choice below, tell your friends, and don’t be afraid to join in the conversation in the comments below. xo!

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I am linking up at The Nesting Place’s 31 day writing challenge: inspiration & faith.

unloved: the life of Leah | God saw her.

This post is apart of my 31 days of writing challenge where I am zooming in on the life of Leah. How she was unloved & hated, but God saw her. How she was jealous & fearful, but God honored her. We can learn a lot from Leah, so won’t you join me? To stay updated, please follow my facebook page here. To read the biblical account of Leah’s life, see Genesis 29 & on.

To view previous posts, click here.

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“When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb.” Genesis 29:31

The Lord saw that Leah was hated.

Our God, friends, is a compassionate God. Leah was hated, resented, and not loved very well. Her earthly needs went by the wayside and real prejudices were built up against her.  One thing we learn about our Father in Leah’s story is that He is in the intricacies, the details, and the emotions. He sees us, even when we are missing the things that we desire, to be known and loved. In Leah’s heart of hearts, as a new, hopeful bride, all she wanted was that loving high that should follow every honeymoon, and then a solid marriage based on friendship that could easily be cultivated into intimacy. All this little girl wanted was for the desires that God placed in her heart, to be filled. In the end, she did not get any of it, no affection, no love, no lavishing, and God saw her. We need to remember this, that even when we face trials and hardship, rejection and prejudices, our God does not simply turn His face away, but He watches us, every single flicker of pain that crosses our faces, knowing that one day, He will use it for our good. Do not misunderstand me, God does not wish any harm or hardship on His children, but He is wise enough to know when to step in and when to allow the world to remind us of it’s temporal existence.

He opened her womb.

 There is definitely a lot of fuel being added to the idea of a prosperity gospel these days. The movement is huge, and while it fails in one crucial point, it’s important to keep a balanced idea of who God is. The Prosperity Gospel is defined by Wikipedia as “Prosperity theology is a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth.” What is the biggest thing that is fatally wrong with this idea (although I could make lists and list) is the quality that it projects on God. He is not a genie-in-a-bottle who reacts based upon cause and reaction. In fact, God is much more involved in our lives than this idea portrays of giving and getting. Possibly one scripture where this doctrine gets the idea of give-and-receive prosperity is from Malachi 3:10 where God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” But we have taken this idea and turned it into “What can I get from God?” instead of, humbly and correctly realizing our place in this huge story by saying, “God, I give you all to do with what you please with.” In our pride, we diminish God’s name to a controlled substance.

Sometimes God’s plans for us include financial gain. But sometimes, in Leah’s case, financial gain would not have touched her deepest desires. God, in His sovereignty, along with His incredible idea of childbearing, knew that we women fall in love with our children. Whether or not our love is displayed exactly as we would have it, or whether it is lost somewhere in the curfews and the spankings and the worry, the drive behind any mother’s actions ultimately leads back to the fact that mothers are inherently crazy about their kids and above all else, desire the best for them. God knew that even if He could not cause Jacob to love his wife, He could bless Leah’s life with a new type of love. Leah experienced a motherly love that went beyond wedding bells and disappointed expectations, into a love that surpasses all realms of existence and will follow us into eternity. The love that a parent has for their children is not a choice, but a sustained reality. God wanted Leah to understand the undying love a Father had for his daughter, so He gave her seven little gifts that would remind her everyday of just how strong that love was.

Leah’s life was defined by the love her Father had for her, who loved her enough to see her and give her the blessings of children. Watch, everyday, for 31 days, as we get into her story and walk with her as her feet trod aside a God who saw her.

note: I am doing my best to get the word out to everyone who could benefit from the Unloved series | a peek into the life of Leah, but I need your help! Please share away on your social media(s) of choice below, tell your friends, and don’t be afraid to join in the conversation in the comments below. xo!

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Want to stay updated? Let me count the ways:

one. visit and like my Facebook page.
two. follow me on Twitter: @JASparrowblog.
three. request me on Instagram: @mrslilahhiggins
four. join my circles at Google+by clicking here.
five. leave a comment below.

Want to leave feedback? Join in on the conversation by commenting at the bottom of this post!

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

I am linking up at The Nesting Place’s 31 day writing challenge: inspiration & faith.

I am linking up at Proverbs & Pacifiers – Babies & Beyond.

Motherhood: 4 crucial things to teach our kids about our government.

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Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

I have never had a lot of opinions about the government or how America is run. I see the corruption, the laziness, the greed, but I have always chosen to either ignore it or feel complacent towards it. In light of recent events, I feel the need to share some ideas in teaching our children as we live in an age where we constantly endure frustrating government issues. As a mommy of a little man who will soon be out in the world, I have been pondering what my actions and opinions and thoughts are around him and I am becoming more and more in tune with how those things will one day effect his decision making and his influence in the world. Regardless of the endless malarky that makes up the whole that was once a powerful country, I want our children to be equipped with a healthy and holy perspective on all things, including government and politics.

| I want my kids to follow God, above all others |

This is a simple, but crucially important commandment from God himself. “You shall love the Lord your God will all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind.” (Matthew 22:34-39) Period, no but’s. This is the end all be all of a Christ followers existence. To love God.

How do we do that? By loving others.  “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

How do we love? With grace, like we give ourselves, like Jesus gave us.

This means that regardless of what the law of the country says, I am to love God and others regardless. It leaves no room for hate, slander, or malice towards someone of a differing (even sinfully) opinion from me and it also means that if the government wants to stop me from loving, that God’s law supersedes government.

I want our kids to understand that God is sovereign. Over. Everything.

| I want my kids to winsomely engage their culture |

This is a phrase our church has adopted into its mission statement, to winsomely engage, and I can’t get it out of my head.  The thought of engaging is a threatening thought in and of itself in an area of the world where people live miles from one another. This idea to winsomely engage is even more so.  The idea of “in the world, not of it” doesn’t mean we must keep ourselves a tier above the rest, but it means we are to get in, get our hands dirty, and strive to introduce hearts to the only One who can transform them, while understanding our identity in Christ. This is not an easy idea and I am uncomfortable with the idea that to teach my kids to live in such a way means that my fingernails will have to get grime under them too.

If my friend down the street wants an abortion because she had unwedded sex and is still in high school, me voting to have some congressman change the laws about its legality isn’t going to change anything in that little girl’s life. If I want to really cause change in her life a pile of fresh baked cookies and a chug of iced tea is going to be more help than casting a ballot. That is the harder choice. It’s easy to be high and mighty and judge her for her actions, what is hard is to admit that you are just as guilty and that there is hope for both of you.  That little mama needs someone to love her, not to tell her that she is wrong. She needs someone to introduce her and that new little life to the saving God who ordained them, not a bible-beating Christian who is bent on the false hope of legislating morality.

I want our kids to live a life that reveals that mercy triumphs over judgment. Every. Time.

| I want my kids to respect authorities |

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” (Romans 13}

As you can deduce, the authorities that God put in charge in the times of Paul were not God-fearing, nor safe, nor completely wise men. Regardless of a person’s beliefs or actions or decisions, I want our kids to learn to respect those who are placed in charge of them, regardless of their morals or ideals, because God, in His sovereignty, has appointed them for their position. I want our kids to understand that while we may not agree, we are to be careful to never slander them or wish them ill. I want them to understand that their leaders, as ill-intentioned and unintelligent as they may be, are responsible to God for their actions while we are held in the mighty palm of God no matter what.

I want our kids to realize that God isn’t surprised. Ever.

| I want my kids to be authentic & unafraid |

We are all broken, and no one needs to tell us that. But we, ourselves, must acknowledge our brokenness in the light of the goodness of God, so that we can accept the grace of God. In light of our inadequacy, we can learn to be authentic in our relationships, acknowledging our need for Christ and embracing our humility in spreading His words. Because of this authenticity, we do not have to conform to earthly laws that directly violate God’s laws. But we also have freedom within the law of our governments because anything, outside of sinful action, is permissible through Christ’s shed blood.

In the same way that a wife can win over her husband with her grace and quiet words, we have the opportunity to influence our authorities and peers with our quiet submission and grace towards them. This can only happen through the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the realization that God is sovereign and in control of all things. This, in the end, removes the need for fear in our lives, our government, and our relationships.

I want our kids to understand that while they will still face trials, Jesus has. Overcome. Our. World.

When I die, I want to leave behind grace-filled, authentic, Jesus-dependent children that will not fear the world, but will fully engage in it, knowing where their identities lie and holding tight to the eternal hope in one day spending eternity with God.

Engage with me? What are some things that I’ve forgotten that we should leave with our children? What are some ways we can teach our children these ideals?

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Motherhood: when they outgrow us.

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As I folded his newly handed-down shirts and tucked away his grown-out-of onesies, I hid the tears that threatened to make my fears known.

A mother’s fear is not a mere or simple fear for harm or a fleeting fear for pain that her child may feel, but rather, a mother’s fear is a fear of the troubles that accompany a life that is lived to it’s fullest. Mothers, who of their own rights have been through many trials of the world, who have felt the pain of simply existing, who have held the hurt, yearned for the lost, worried for the living, rejoicing with the dying, and pleaded for the wounded; mother’s who know what many pains their child will encounter; those mother’s are not mother’s who fear futile things, but rather we are mother’s who understand the eternal blessings found in living out a broken, transparent, uncomfortable, limitless life.

We fret over, not the fleetingness of a skinned knee nor the sadness of a lost toy, but rather, we understand that these items are simply the stepping stones to a beautifully tragic story of sin and redemption for our lost and weary children, all in the Name of Christ Jesus. We understand that our prayers for our children’s growth and sanctified lives is a prayer for their persecution and death to self as well. We feel that pain. We understand the ties that bind our children to us will be ripped out and sewn together time and time again.

A mother knows from the moment she bears a life, that the life will break her heart.

A mother like that understands her calling to raise the child, not own the child, under the Lord’s commands. To raise him to confront sin issues in his heart, to raise her to acknowledge her weaknesses, but also embrace her strengths, to raise them to speak up to those in need, to teach them to care for the broken, because they. are. broken. too.

At times, the fear of living that a child will endure steals a mother’s breath from her chest.

Those barely-worn feety sleepers in that box in the closet don’t simply mean that our little one’s legs have outgrown them, a mother’s heart knows, deep down, that those sturdy legs will walk into sin very soon. A mama knows that even though those shoulders grew too wide for that shirt, they will very soon support a family, build a legacy, carry the burden of another, fear for death, thirst for more that just a series of our world’s masks, and nothing she does can stop it, or even help with the burden.

A mother knows that those tiny socks that won’t stretch high enough will soon step into the feet of their Savior, onto a dusty, blood-soaked road, filled like snow drifts on either side, holding all of the wonders of sin turned to hopelessness turned to death and, finally, gloriously-and the reason we mother’s do what we do- our children will walk with Christ into a grace-soaked, glory-ladened, redemption; or a life lived to it’s fullest.

That is the kind of fear a mother fears for her child.

So, hug a mama for me; for she folds a lot of outgrown clothing.

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Introducing Adelaide Collins Eckerdt!

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Mimi & Preston – I am so happy I had the honor to be a part of Adie’s birth! Thanks for letting me capture your special time. I love you both & look up to you both so very much. I can’t wait to play with your little lady, Ace!

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it’s a park day! {& Fletcher is 6 months old!}

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© copyright Zackary & Lilah Higgins

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