Hey, you guys! My daughter Amanda shot a text to me this morning with this blog in her Timehop and we both smiled as we reread it, remembering when. Maybe somebody could use the encouragement five years later. So much love to all of you!
June 21st, 2011
Last week I was looking through the drawers of an old desk in our den that has become a catch-all of sorts through the years. Maybe you have one of those, too. It’s where you stick everything you really want to keep but have no time to file. I was searching for a picture of our house the year we bought it so that I could work it into a decoupage of our many years here. Ultimately, I found the picture elsewhere but I stumbled on a treasure while rummaging around in that drawer that sent me into a tailspin of memories.
First, the back-story because I bet some of you can relate.
I well remember being in the throes of family life and wondering from season to season whether or not we’d even make it. Or, if we made it, would we be glad we did?? Life is hard as it is. It’s even harder when two people have as many problems as we did. Both Keith and I brought heaps of issues into our marriage. Some we fell victim to. Some we inherited. Some we created. Some we earned through our own sinfulness and stubbornness. Some we passed right on to our beloved children, God forgive us. Like many of you, the odds were stacked against us and I knew – I’m saying I absolutely KNEW – that Jesus was the only way we were going to make it. Furthermore, He was not likely to do it without us.
The quandary was how we were going to head a certain direction if my man didn’t necessarily want to take the lead. What happens, sisters, when you (who are moms) feel strongly that your children need to be led a certain strong (Biblical) direction but you do not want to usurp your husband? And he’s not feeling so led? Even as I pose that question, I know full well that our simple blog format is not big enough to come up with crystal-clear, no-fail answers to those loaded questions. Yet, it’s part of our family story and a part my man does not mind me sharing. He’s never been much for bull. Or pretense, if you like that word better. Keith walked the aisle as a public profession of faith and was baptized right before we got engaged and, as clearly as I knew, that’s all that mattered. That might explain the timing. Grin. It was real. But it was also a prerequisite.
My man is a believer in Jesus Christ. He bears fruit of the Holy Spirit’s activity. He has often prayed over me and over our family with a power that left me bug-eyed and bereft of natural explanation. But he has still been very much his own man with his own idea of how he wanted to practice his faith. He was a maverick. He’s still a maverick. The harder you push him, the slower he goes. He sets his own pace or he walks alone. He is also God’s chosen man for me…and my chosen man before God. I cannot imagine my life without the likes of Ivan Keith Moore.
Rewind 15 or so years to those days when we had young adolescents under our roof who not only needed human direction (which both parents gave), they needed divine intervention. So did their parents, and in the worst way.
I did lots of reading in those days just like I do now. I’d read about how many godly homes practiced what they called a “family altar time.” They prayed together on a regular basis and maybe the parents even led in a family devotion. We didn’t do anything like that except when we were in a full-on crisis. (I am so thankful that we did it then, needless to say. I don’t want to be harder on us than our history really calls for.) We did a little more moderate version of “the family that prays together stays together.” Keith and I prayed at mealtime with our kids and, then, on numerous other occasions when something called for an extra measure of attention. I guess one of the most spiritual things we did along the way was simply ask for forgiveness when we were idiots to them or in front of them.
I’d long-since been practicing a morning quiet time and certainly prayed for my family members then but I knew that the greater victory in our family was somehow going to involve all of us…some how, on some level. I’d learned through the years that guilt-tripping your husband into spiritual leadership wasn’t going to bear much fruit or last over the long haul. And let me just go ahead and say the embarrassingly obvious. Would the man ever have done it consistently like I thought it should be done???? Could he have lived up to whatever expectation I had? I assure you, this man got more than he bargained for when he married. He had not signed up for all of this.
So, what was a woman to do?
I was stuck on the whole family altar thing. I’d convinced myself that it was the key. (I’m not saying it was. I’m just saying that I believed to the bone that it was.) “Family altar” was the buzz phrase of all the families that seemed to be doing it right. (It’s interesting how spiritual terms have fads, isn’t it?) So I figured out how we could have an adaptable experience without Keith being forced to take charge of it or me taking authority over him in the eyes of my children (or, as importantly, in his own eyes).
I got an idea.
I set up a little altar area on the hearth in our den. It had a journal for recording any prayer requests that members of our family wanted to share. It was solid gold to me. Sometimes they’d write “unspoken” and you know what that does to a nosy mother. What they didn’t realize is that, most of the time, Mom had already figured out that “unspoken” request. I also set out an age-appropriate devotional book on the hearth.Here is a picture of our makeshift “family altar.” The only reason I have this picture is because our dogs loved to lay on the cushion that I’d set out. We used to say they were having their quiet times.
I also got up earlier than the rest of the household in the morning and chose a verse for that day for our family. Most often I’d select it from my own time with God but sometimes circumstances dictated the choice. I’d write the Scripture with a Sharpie on an index card then lay it out on the altar. Everybody in our family was invited to kneel at that altar one at a time when they first got up in the morning. (Well, OK, only Keith was really “invited.” The girls were strongly urged. As their mother, I could full well take that authority over them.) After they read the verse, they were asked to sign the index card.
So, this is what I found the other day in that old desk drawer: Scripture card after Scripture card after Scripture card after Scripture card.
Some of them were signed by all four of us:
It was okay to be a little silly and even throw in an occasional nickname. Keith alone knows why he tagged Amanda as “Rooter” when she was a little kid. Most of our nicknames have morphed into much weirder tags in recent years.
A number of times Keith opted out and that had to be fine, too.We weren’t his boss.
On occasion, it would just be two of us:
Or another two of us:
Sometimes I’d add a little extra encouragement because it would break my heart wide-open with love to see those young teenage girls taking their turns at that altar in their jammies.
One girl obviously didn’t get to see that encouragement that morning.Laughing. I love them both so much.
It was a very imperfect shot at the whole thing. In fact, I can’t convey strongly enough that I hope you’ll receive this only as a simple short story in the lives of God and a family of four Moores. It’s not meant to be an example of a discipline you should take up. It was too messy to turn into a science. It’s just what worked for a season for us. We still made it on the grace of God alone.
I glance back over my shoulder at those turbulent years and recall a home bulging with hormones and woes, fears and foes, maybe too many yeses and not enough nos. Like every woman, I wish I could cut and paste our family story into all that sparkles and nothing that stinks. Like most women, there are a few things I wish I could blot out. Maybe more than most women, I have some sizable regrets. But, that day last week when I went looking for a photograph in that old desk drawer, I found a whole handful of our family life, held it close to my heart, and remembered.
Deuteronomy 4:23 “Be careful not to forget…”
1 Chronicles 16:12 “Remember the wonders He has done…”
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