Sharing in Comfort

II Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”

I was thinking about my last post, where I shared about some difficult, needy days during my last pregnancy. God has special purposes behind those shadowy times. We are more aware of our dependence on Him. We also learn how it feels to need comfort. I caught a glimpse of what it’s like to feel helpless to do all the things I’d normally be able to do. As a result, my eyes were more open to the needs of others–other morning-sick moms, elderly friends who just can’t keep up with their houses and yards the way they’d like to. I determined to meet more needs through little services and words of encouragement from Scripture. And in so doing, I’m ministering God’s comfort to others! (To think, He lets ME do that!)

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Titus 2 Empty Nesters

Nancy over at Femina has a great post directed toward Empty Nest Homemakers. She urges mothers whose children have all grown and left home to consider serving in their churches rather than automatically opting for a job to fill all that extra time. From my beneficiary seat, I’d just like to give an “amen” to that idea!

A few years ago I had an infant and another baby on the way, and I was terribly morning sick. I remember lying on the floor, crying, and thinking, “Who can I call to help me?” I really didn’t have anyone. All my family was far away, and the norm in my church at that time was that once your children went to school, you worked. Then, as a mother of two young children, there were times when I longed to accompany my husband on a few business trips, but, again, finding someone who would be available to watch my children overnight was tough with the other ladies’ schedules being so full with work. During difficult times, I longed for an older woman who could take me under her wing and help me navigate the wide world of motherhood and marriage. Shortly before we moved, one lady tearfully told me that she would’ve liked to have spent more time with me, but that life was too busy.

Our current church has a bit of a different dynamic. Many of our older ladies are working, but there are a number of women who have given themselves to serve others, especially us young mothers. Some of these ladies aren’t empty nesters, but their children are in school, and these mothers are using their free time for one-on-one discipleship, group Bible studies, visits to the elderly, meals for those who need encouragement, etc. Just the other night a man in our church testified that a few of these ladies had visited his ailing mother during her last months and had been instrumental in her understanding the gospel. I smiled, and my heart was warmed as I thought of how many people those dear ladies are impacting for eternity as they minister love and compassion and bear others’ burdens. I know they’ve been a blessing to this young mama, who never lacks for a helping hand or a godly word of encouragement.

Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 7:20 pm  Comments (2)  

The Best Seat in the House

When we bought our first home a couple years ago, there were many things I loved about it—the open floor plan, that extra bathroom, the big back yard. And I was especially happy to have my own kitchen peninsula and its accompanying stools. To some women, having a kitchen peninsula is no big deal. To some it just provides extra counter space to deposit junk. Or maybe it’s just a good place to feed the kids their cereal in the morning. But to me, having a kitchen peninsula with stools is a special blessing from God. As I sat on one of my very own kitchen stools for the first time, filled with joy at owning our own home, I thought about the stools I had sat on during my teenage years, and I wondered how God might use mine for a similar purpose.

There were two different young mothers who took me under their wings when I was in high school. Terrie and Susan were best friends, and they and their husbands helped with the youth group at my church. They saw potential in me, for some reason, and each of them invited me over often. I vividly remember sitting on a kitchen stool, opposite one of my mentors, while we cut out cookies, formed yeast rolls, or made homemade noodles. And always, we spent the time talking about how things were going for me at home and at school and how I could better handle my problems. I don’t know what it was about sitting on a kitchen stool that enabled me to open up and talk. I was terribly shy and preferred to listen rather than talk when I was a teenager. Maybe the fact that our hands were busy with other things and our eyes were diverted to the tasks in front of us made me feel more comfortable opening up. Maybe the fact that we weren’t sitting down purposefully to have a conversation about me made me feel more comfortable, too. The conversation sprang up naturally as we did other things together.

I learned a lot during my teen years by spending much of my free time on a kitchen stool. Not only did I learn how to make fantastic cinnamon rolls, the secrets to a great piecrust, and lots of other cooking skills, but I also learned how to handle my teenage crises in a biblical way. By watching my mentors in their everyday lives, I also learned how to submit to and love a husband, discipline children properly, interact kindly with people on the telephone, show friendliness to neighbors, and a plethora of other things. I never did an official Bible study with either Susan or Terrie, but I learned much about how to apply the Bible to my life by watching those godly women.

Now, as a wife and mother, I still use the wisdom I gained during my teen years from Terrie and Susan. And, since I know how crucial their friendships were to me during my most impressionable years, I want the Lord to use me in the same way, to mentor teenage girls.

The Lord has already been putting my kitchen stools to good use since we bought our home. My husband is a professor at a Christian college, so we get to know a lot of teenage girls. I’ve had a few of them over to my house on different occasions. One time, a couple of girls came over to make brownies for their dates to a school concert. This time I sat on a stool and greased the pan while the two girls mixed the ingredients together. I wasn’t surprised when one of them piped up, out of the blue, “There’s a guy in my class who I think likes me, but I don’t like him. What do you think I should do, Mrs. Forrest?” We also have two “campus daughters,” and one of them has, on multiple occasions, sat on one of my kitchen stools, nervously pulling her fingers over and over a strand of her hair while pouring out a dramatic tale of woe and asking for advice on how to handle the crisis at hand. I love helping these girls by sharing with them the wisdom I’ve gained only because I was once just like them, and because I had some great mentors who shared the Bible with me at their age.

My kitchen stools have been used as a tool to minister to people other than teenage girls, as well. My 17-year old brother, whom I don’t see often, came to visit us during Christmas break last year. As I put together a chicken enchilada casserole, Jason plopped onto one of the stools opposite me, tipped it back precariously on its two hind legs while holding onto the counter with his fingertips, and started talking. He shared some struggles with me, and I was able to give him some sisterly advice. While I put the casserole into the oven, my back was turned away from him. I wiped away the tear that threatened to spill out, and I thanked God for giving me a comfortable place in my home for my brother and me to have a good talk.

I’ve noticed, too, that whenever my dad comes to visit, he finds a parking space on one of my kitchen stools (whenever he’s not holding or playing with his grandkids, that is!). He occupies his spot with a mug of coffee and a crossword puzzle in front of him. We have great talks while I tinker around in the kitchen.

I live hundreds of miles away from Terrie and Susan now, but my husband, children, and I still make visits a couple times a year. I’ve found that I’m still not too old to need an occasional visit to one of their kitchen stools myself. Just last summer, Terrie and I were making homemade egg rolls. Terrie stuffed and wrapped the wontons while I supervised the electric frying vat. We’ve both come to expect that these cooking sessions are really chances for us to talk, and I’m not timid at all anymore. As I dropped another egg roll into the vat I asked, “Terrie, how did you deal with your children when they…” The egg rolls were done all too soon and our hungry husbands and children were upon us. The stool time talks sometimes just aren’t long enough.

I’m so thankful the Lord provided us with a house that had everything we needed, plus a kitchen peninsula and stools. A kitchen stool isn’t the most beautiful of chairs, and it isn’t the most comfortable either. But in many ways, I think my kitchen stools are the best seats in the house.

Titus 2:4-5 “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 3:23 pm  Comments (1)