The End of Not Me

by Bailey on March 15, 2011 in Servanthood

I think I should keep tabs on all the sacrifices big sisters have to make. At the top of the list would be never eating my own bag of popcorn—never. In all my sixteen years, I have had only one uninhibited indulgence in popcorn, when I tagged along with my friend to the movie theater and bought my own carton. The shock was so overwhelming that I felt sick afterward. (It might have had something to do with buying a medium instead of a small, but that doesn’t build my argument.) The whole process of making popcorn—the rustling plastic, the popping kernels, the microwave beep—is an open invitation for little siblings to snitch handfuls at a time.

I’ve tried. I’d sneak into the kitchen and pop a bag, and if any hungry-looking sibling came in following his nose, I’d put my foot down and say, “This time it’s all mine.”

“But Bailey,” the three-year-old would reason, “I just want some.”

Being cute should be criminal. He gets away with a bowl full of my popcorn every single time.

Popcorn isn’t the only violated holy ground. I can’t sit down and read St. Augustine’s Confessions without this adorable little curlytop crawling into my lap and grinning at me. Then she places The Poky Little Puppy in my hands and squeals. Even slightly older cuties steal my reading time. Just a couple hours ago one interrupted me to cut an apple. Again.  (Whoever invents a kid-friendly apple slicer—my deepest thanks.)

A couple years ago, when my grandmamma was over visiting, my baby brother desired apple juice—a daily task that includes researching whether he’s reached his quota for the day or is, indeed, due for another sugar boost. He desired, as I said, apple juice, and quite frankly, “Bailey, I want apple juice” right when I’m sitting down is not welcome. But company was over, so I grumbled half-heartedly and said something about how I always have to get him apple juice, how inconvenienced I was, how much I longed for a professional apple juice pourer. Compared to other outbursts of frustration, this was tame.

Yet my grandmamma pointed out, “Bailey, remember that you’re a servant.”

Me? You. A servant.

That’s what I am. That’s the radical expression of the radical grace I’ve been shown—a slave to Christ, a handmaid to His will. And my domain is my home. This is something I’ve been trying to pound into my head, my heart, my life: There is never a task that is “not mine.” There is never an excuse to say, “That’s not my job.” There is never a minute of my life that is completely my own. Why? If I am surrendered, than I am all Christ’s—and interruptions become divine calling.

It’s so easy to get caught up in entitlement: “I’ve already made supper and done my chores and picked up the toys for good measure—now it’s rest time.” That or rigid servanthood: “Once all the checks on my list are in place, I’m done. Freedom!”

But no. That baby sister crawling on my lap—God guided her there and is now saying, “Here is your life. Here is your calling. Read to her. Love her. Hold her close.” Those interruptions during school? Those interfering hands in the mixing bowl? Those little lives tagging along after my friends and me? That is my life. That is my calling.

That means we don’t get a chance to scream out, “I hate this! I shouldn’t have to do this! This isn’t my job!” Not once. Not ever. Not me.

Freelance servanthood means seeing what needs to be done and doing it—even if it’s as simple as starting a load of laundry (though by rights my sister should be doing it) or emptying the dishwasher for my brother (though I’m already making dinner and holding a bib fashion show and cleaning up the kitchen). It’s not about me. It’s not about “my job.”

My job? It’s whatever falls into my lap—literally or figuratively. Now about that poky puppy.

Bailey @ Big House in the Little Woods

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Bailey

Bailey is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler in love with anything literary or theological. The second oldest of nine children, she finds joy in romping with her younger siblings, scribbling in her ever-expanding notebook and trying her hand at the home arts.

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{ 42 comments }

Tara March 15, 2011

Not sure how child friendly – but makes the job quicker!

Tara March 15, 2011
Amy @ Gospel Homemaking March 15, 2011

Excellent post! You have challenged my own heart attitudes that creep in so easily. Lately, I’ve found myself desperately wishing for a vacation. Alone. But as I look at the destruction around the world, I’ve been convicted about my grumbling heart attitude. Praise God for my healthy kiddos who create piles of laundry, my kitchen full of food that dirties up the dishes, and my safe house that always needs cleaning.

I think I’m going to print off your article so I can have it close at hand today. I’m sure I’ll need to be reminded of the blessings of being a servant (very) soon!

Michelle R March 15, 2011

I have one of these special, precious young ladies in my house right now. Yesterday, her little sister wet the bed during nap time. Without a single mention, Big Sister gave her a bath, brushed and braided her hair, and changed the sheets on her bed. WOW! 🙂

By God’s grace, I only hope that this marks a sign that she will become the wonderful woman of God I can see as I read the lines of this post. God’s blessings to you, Bailey!

Now, I need to go hug my oldest daughter… 😀

Amy March 15, 2011

WOW!! Such wisdom!! Very powerful and very well-written!! I just read it to myself, then read it with my 9-y.o. daughter (my oldest)… a good reminder for both of us that we are called to serve… even if we don’t always want to. So, we are praying for our hearts to be changed and be more willing to be servants rather than to serve only as we desire to serve!! Thank you for sharing this!!

Kara March 15, 2011

There is an 8+ year gap between our oldest and youngest daughters…
I’m going to print and share with our oldest…
She has a heart to serve and so far doesn’t get too frustrated with be a constant helper (she’s only 10), but this was encouraging to me…thinking that someday she may really understand that in serving her siblings, she’s really serving the Lord.
Thanks Bailey.

Bethany Grace March 15, 2011

Does this mean that I have every good excuse to annoy you now? 😉

I had the same experience last night with supper. I rang the bell five times and no one came to eat (Daniel stated he wasn’t hungry, and Chase was cutting hair – you were upstairs…) So I ate cold supper with Caroline and she didn’t eat any. – – I felt like quitting.

Thanks for the post! *love you!*

– – Bethany

Eowyn March 15, 2011

Thank you for this post. I am also an oldest sibling (of eight). I have struggled with this all my life and I like to think I am getting better at it but at other times I am not so sure.

Alexxus K. H. March 15, 2011

Thank you for this post – I am the oldest of 4 siblings (and one on the way), and sometimes my job being a good “sisi” sometimes can wear me out – LOL – and I wish I wasn’t the oldest sister!But then again, I wouldn’t trade those kisses from my nearly three year old whom I wanted so much for nearly 7 years. I had three younger brothers, and dressing my naive little brothers in princess dresses and making them play Barbies with me wasn’t that fufilling. God blessed me with her! Anyway, back to my point. I also wouldn’t trade the smile from my beloved “Mommy” (yes, I’m 13 1\2 and still call my mother “Mommy”) whenever I’ve helped her out with the laundry, or watching my nearly three year old sister, while she is tired and trying to relax. When I reflect like this, I would never trade my role as “Sisi” for the world! =)

Michelle in OK March 15, 2011

I ~love~ the term “freelance servanthood.” What a great reminder to all of us. Thanks for writing this.

Arabah Joy March 15, 2011

Bailey, this is a wonderful, convicting post. Hold on to this perspective, and continue being an example to old and young alike.

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in SPEECH, CONDUCT, LOVE, FAITH, and PURITY, show yourself an example of those who believe.” I Tim4:12

God bless you.

Jennifer March 15, 2011

Wow,I am a homemaker and I have four little ones .Even as a grown woman who has chosen to have these children,I still have my moments of ,Why me? why can’t I have my own mini bag of chips ,popcorn,beverage, etc.Or why can’t I have five minutes to myself just every once in a while.
Your post just slapped me in the face,In a good way,with a Um oh yea ….that is why I am here.To be with these little ones to love and mentor and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the lord.Thank you so much for your insight.It gave me a renewed perspective.

Christy March 15, 2011

What a beautiful post – very wonderfully written – as the oldest girl of 9 and mother of 8 living I don’t know when I have had my own popcorn!!

Rebecca March 15, 2011

Just fantastic! Dying to self is a daily battle for me.
If you have time sometime in the future would you consider sharing your thoughts on how to develop that spirit in younger siblings or your children without asserting your own rights? I struggle with how to achieve that.
I want them to learn to exercise servanthood and thoughtfulness for others, too. A large part of that is seeing it modeled on a daily, or even hourly, basis, but what do I say or do (if anything) when they are exhibiting a selfish spirit towards me or one of their older siblings who keeps “giving in” to their demands and desires? There’s a reason the youngest child is often spoiled, and I’d like to prevent that spirit of entitlement that often marks younger children in a family.

Sheri March 15, 2011

WOW! I love this!

Jamie March 15, 2011

I love this post. It’s a great reminder to us as moms, as well as older siblings! Thank you for sharing, and challenging us all to remember what real servanthood looks like!

Jenny March 15, 2011

This is so timely for me as, when I get stressed I start to resent all the little jobs around the home that I do. I so struggle to keep a servant’s heart but I am working on it one day at a time.

I am trying to stop my work life impacting on my home life and vice versa. It isn’t my family’s fault if I have deadlines!

I love this post though as it is so helpful and just speaks to my heart today!

Thank you!

anon March 15, 2011

I think that this is bautifully written, and certainly God will bless this young lady for her serving heart.

But I have a huge problem with it. This post would be beautiful if written by a mother, but it wasn’t- it was written by a 16 year old girl, who has never (yet) chosen to have children of her own. Yet she is taught to believe (by the parents who benefit from the teaching) that it is her “calling” to “play mommy” to her younger siblings.

Yes, I believe in family. I beleive strongly in family. But I don’t believe for a second that my younger children are in any way shape or form the responsibility of my older children. My oldest is expected to help, to read to her younger siblings, and yes, sometimes to get up and pour apple juice. But I can’t imagine her ever writing a post like the one above, because she is still a child, (at 15 she might cringe to hear me say that but it’s true), and I respect her time, her space, and her childhood, and I don’t expect her to raise my children for me.

Joyful Heart March 15, 2011

Wow, that is so true! Thank you so much for writing this encouraging article. I am the oldest of 8 (with one on the way), and this was a timely reminder that “my” time is not my own, and that yes, I am a servant (gulp)!

Now I need an attitude change, to be willing to be one 🙂

Devende March 15, 2011

Baily,
Thank you so much! I needed this today. And frankly so did my eldest daughter (only six years old) I find I complain or grumble often that on the rare occasion that I sit down I am needed. Today I woke up and prayed that I wouldn’t grumble anymore. low and behold! your article. Thank you for this and thanks to Raising homemakers for helping shine light into my world.

Jenn March 15, 2011

What a great reminder to me as a mom, what my daily attitude should be like, and what I hope to instill in my daughter. Thanks for the encouragement and reproof.

Bailey March 15, 2011

Rebecca — Because I’m not a mother, I don’t feel qualified to write a whole post on the subject, but I have closely observed my mother and how she handles my siblings. Mainly, she teaches them to wait and respect her time, while making it perfectly clear that she is happy to help when available. If she is holding some deep theological conversation with me, she makes sure we are done talking before turning to the little one pulling at her skirt.

What my mother is trying to accomplish in us is independence backed by encouragement. She’s happy to help, but she expects a good hard try first. When we cannot do something, she walks us through it, using that as an opportunity to teach us independence. Case in point: I was studying chemistry in the kitchen, and Daniel Franklyn wanted a sandwich for lunch (which was not on the menu). Instead of getting up and making it for him, I encouraged him to get out all the fixings and try to make his own. It was largely successful – he got his sandwich and I got my fill of the Ideal Gas Law. Tada! I think that sort of attention is what younger children need – an encouraging, believing, available and yet challenging love that doesn’t spoil. Perhaps I should teach my younger brother how to cut an apple with that apple-slicer Tara linked to. There’s an idea. 🙂

Mrs. Parunak March 15, 2011

This is so great! As a mommy of littles, I often feel just the same way. Thanks for the encouragement.

Ashley Schnarr March 16, 2011

Excellent Post! What a great example and reminder for me. It’s so easy to think only of my wants and needs and to forget to think about other’s and how I can serve them. Thanks for posting this!

Gabe March 16, 2011

Great post! It is a wonderful reminder to me, and I think I’ll have my oldest two kids (10 and 9) read it too!

Lisa March 16, 2011

I am Bailey’s mother. I want to make it perfectly clear to the anonymous commenter above that there is but one mother in our house, and it’s me. I, along with my husband, am responsible before God for the upbringing of our children, and I am in no way passing that responsibility and expectation along to Bailey or any of my older children.

We are raising and homeschooling nine children. In the normal economy of a large family, all children who are capable of helping are expected to contribute to the good of the family by completing various chores and helping younger children as needed. Even my 7 year-old can pour the toddler a cup of juice or tie the shoelaces of his little brother, and I would expect him to do so cheerfully! As a Christian family, we desire to teach our children the virtues of selflessness, kindness, compassion, and a servant’s heart. Believe me, there are endless opportunities for practicing the cultivation of these traits right here in our home, even (if not especially!) for me as the mother. The home is a wonderful place for Christian character training.

Although my older children quite naturally have more responsibilities in our home (and I do try to be senstive not to overburden them), I can assure you that they have plenty of opportunities to dream, to think, to create, to play, to have friends. At the same time, they would be ill-prepared for real life (be it homemaking, motherhood, or otherwise) if allowed to indulge in a completely self-centered, responsibility-free childhood even into to their teen years.

What you’re reading from Bailey is a young lady’s very candid, transparent thoughts and struggles as she develops spiritually into a handmaiden of the Lord, surrendered to His will. Her station in life right now is in the home as a daughter, a big sister, a homeschool student, church pianist and children’s helper, public school kindergarten volunteer, a writer, and friend to many. If, within ANY of those realms, God is working in and through her to die to self and serve others with love, joy, and compassion, I say God bless her! “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4) I’m proud of you, Bailey!

Anon March 16, 2011

I have no idea about how a large family works except the Duggars on TV. Having chores is good. Chores are helping in cleaning, cooking, taking the trash out, emptying the dishwasher etc. But the buddy system like the Duggars where sisters like Jana have been given responsibility it seems from a young age of seeing that their sibling is fed, changed, teeth brushed and who knows changing how many diapers for what seems like years and practically raising their mother’s children when she is churning out child after child is what gives large families a bad rep. ‘Die unto self’ does not mean being a surrogate mother to your siblings. And I say this with conscious knowledge that I do not know the lives of each large family. I feel sorry for these girls and hope what Lisa says is true and she truly is giving her older daughters time to be children and not raising her children for her.

Anonymous 2 March 17, 2011

I must confess that I agree with Anonymous.

Baily did write a beautiful piece and I would have written something similar as a 16 year old who like Baily, cared for, loved and took care of my younger siblings. Because so much responsibility for raising my younger siblings fell on my shoulders as a child and teenager I chose my own path in the world, with a professional career rather than as the stay at home wife and mother like my parents wished (and still wish) me to be. Motherhood was something I no longer desired once I left their home to venture out on my own 15 years ago.

As a result of my career I’ve been able to touch the lives of people who weren’t raised by a family as kind and loving as mine and in a way that I wouldn’t be able to do if I was a stay at home wife and mother.

I read this raising homemakers blog not because I agree with it (in fact quite the opposite) but because I am fascinated by it. I feel like your daughters could do so much good for society if given the chance to blossom and look beyond the walls of their homes. The world needs righteous and valiant women to bring their goodness into it.

Or are you scared that the world will take the righteousness from them?

I have a successful career, a wonderful husband, an immaculate house, dinner on the table every night, and I am expecting my first child. I am a good homemaker, family comes before my career, but I’m happy to have a career and influence lives outside of the home. I hope that the Christians who comment on this blog don’t judge me for this, just as I don’t judge you for being wives and mothers, the most important career of all.

Your daughters are amazing, my only hope is that they are given their wings and encouraged to fly.

Samantha March 17, 2011

Bailey,
I too am sixteen and the oldest of six. Thank you so much for this reminder of what kind of attitude I am supposed to have as a handmaiden of Christ! I loved the candid-way you wrote it! Definately needed that and to know that I’m not alone. 🙂
God bless!

Carrie March 18, 2011

Thank you so much for the reminder that the interruptions throughout my day are God appointments. They shouldn’t by annoyances or irritations, but opportunities to love and serve my family.

Alexxus K. H. March 18, 2011

Anonymous 2 – I can let you know, being a teen daughter in a large family, with a stay-at-home mom, I have never been pressured to “only stay at home” and “only prepare to be a wife and mother” or that “college is for professional women; not stay-at-home girls like you”. In fact quite the opposite. While I still wish to one day be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom and wife, I will be graduating early in two years, and plan to get a college degree in an English major (because, like Bailey up there, I am a grammar snob. I can sit and be reading, and suddenly find a sentence I can diagram, and do it. LOL!) and if the Lord wills, teach younger children in a public school for a few years until I have my own children. Once we move away from the small town nearly an hour away from everything, and more into the outskirts of the DFW area, my mom and I plan to begin to volunteer at a Crisis Pregnancy Center, because I was a baby concieved outside of marriage. You can still be a stay-at-home daughter and bless others in the world around you by blogging (as Bailey is doing), writing books (I am currently finishing my first novel in high hopes of getting it published), volunteering, being an active member of the church and youth group (making sure your influencing others, I might say) and there are many many more ways, some of which, like you chose, to go and have a professional career (I see in no way, a need to judge you for something so silly. How unchristian like would that be?). Now, before I press ‘submit’, I should add that I know it is not always like this with daughters. I know many are wrongfully pressured into “homemaking being the only way” and is not a gentle, “Hey, this is something you could do when your older, if you feel the Lord calls you to it”. I don’t know if I have expressed myself well or not, but let’s hope I come across in the way I mean too. I hope I have helped. =)

Allison Y. March 18, 2011

Anonymous 1, may I gently advise you to look more carefully at how the Duggars’ family really works before criticizing them in that way? I don’t know everything about them, but I do know that Mr. and Mrs. Duggar are very much involved in each child’s life, and rearing isn’t left to the older sisters. Neither does Michelle ignore all her other children, concentrating on “churning out more” (I found that unkind).

I am the third oldest of ten children. I think my family and many like it are much like the Duggars, except on a smaller scale, and in a large way I believe that I understand much of what goes on in their lives better than an only child or one of a small family does, although I can’t say that for certain of course. It is obvious to me that Mrs. Duggar is the only acting mother in the house.

Bailey March 18, 2011

Thank you, Alexxus. You expressed your position beautifully. We have similar interests, sister…grammar geek and teacher-wannabe. 🙂

Anon, I am sorry you see manipulation in the joy and happiness of this one girl totally in love with her life. I can assure you that everything my mother said is true. I am my own person. I choose to give it up for Christ.

I’m happy with that choice.

Thank you, ladies, for all your kind words! You encourage me so much to practice what I preach. *HUGS*

Justine March 18, 2011

I too, am sixteen and the oldest sister (of 10). Helping out with younger siblings isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. I love being home. The people in my family are the people I love, the ones I want to spend most of my time with. I do enjoy going out with friends sometimes, and I do have a once a week job outside the home. However, I think I’d rather be home. This is what I was created for.
Thanks for posting this, Bailey!

Alexxus K. H. March 18, 2011

Bailey, so happy to write that…..I didn’t want anybody to misinterpet lives of a large family….although, like I expressed, I know there are many parents who take advantage of the older girls in their home…..luckily, that is not the case with me, or as I can see, you either.
I checked out your blog, Bailey, and I am absoloutley HOOKED! I’ve read almost every post all the way from June 2010 to now. I find your posts intriguing and hilarious. When I read your ‘Me’, I felt like we had so much in common. I hadn’t been able to comment on your post, for some odd reason, it won’t allow me, so I was going to post something on here. I would love to get to know you….if you’d like, email me @ aspiringchristianauthorsunite@hotmail.com, and there I can transfer you to my personal email (I don’t want to post it on the internet) 😉

Katie March 20, 2011

I find it interesting that Bailey has been so open and honest, and God-glorifying with her post…and yet, those who are choosing to be so disagreeable and unkind are “hiding” behind the anonymous name. I guess it’s always easier to attack others when we are able to remain unseen/unknown.

Also, in response to Anonymous 2 who said – “I feel like your daughters could do so much good for society if given the chance to blossom and look beyond the walls of their homes. The world needs righteous and valiant women to bring their goodness into it.”
-Is not staying home to raise, care for, teach, and love our children doing good for the world/society? What if your own mother had worked outside of the home all day every day, and not spent the time she spent to raise you and teach you and love you……would you be the woman you are today? Making the same impact you are today? It is unwise to discount the impact of a mother who stays home to care for her family, as a waste of a “righteous woman.” I believe that a woman who stays home to care for her family (in response to God’s calling on her life, and with a desire to glorify Him), is “doing much good for her society” and “bringing goodness into the world” by the work she is doing in her home, and by what she is able to teach and instill in her children before sending them out into the world – so that they too may life lives that glorify God, and impact the world for Christ!

Allisom Y. March 21, 2011

To the second part, Katie, I say amen and amen. There would BE no Godly women to blossom and look beyond the walls of their homes had not some chosen to blossom and look inside the walls of their homes. Living a pure and Christ-centered life, so set apart and brightly shining that others want to know what you have, is the true calling of a woman. That may mean working inside your home – I believe that is the best way – or it may mean working outside. It depends on many things, so I’m not going to find fault with you for actively seeking to show God’s love to those outside (although I think showing it constantly and calmly in my own circle is what it is best to do).

As to your first point, I must say that it is a point. However, I know some people don’t like to put even names publicly on the Internet, and I for one am not going to assume anything. I also thought both anonymous commenters disagreed graciously – at least for the most part. Just my two cents.

Allison Y. March 21, 2011

On another note, my name is AllisoN, not Allisom. *dies of embarrassment*

Kara March 22, 2011

Bailey, your post really encouraged me. I wholeheartedly agree with you, that we as older siblings should help, and encourage the younger brothers/sisters.

I love you! *HUGS*

Meah Jessup March 26, 2011

yes your post is really encouraging to all older sisters and I can tell you that while experiencing it my self.. I’m the oldest of 6 and 2 and 3 oldest are boys.
meah,

Zac from Sian's buzz March 26, 2011

Excelent! I have to remind myself of the same things… Thanks for the encouragement!

Emily June 13, 2011

Bailey, I recently discovered your blog and this website. I’m working on reading everything you’ve ever posted, although that might take a few more hours. 😛 As a fifteen-year-old writer and blogger who feels just as strongly about several issues and is struggling to choose her stance on others, you are definitely an inspiration!
I wasn’t actually planning to post, but after reading several comments, I just thought I’d mention something as a sort of ‘add-on’ to Anonymous and Anonymous 2’s comments. My mother is very much like Anonymous 2 – not in that she helped raise younger siblings, since she had only one sister with a 2 year age difference – but in the fact that she went to college, earned her degree, and entered the workfield. She got married to a man she met in college and, after a few years, they had their first child: me! Only a few months later, she was unexpectedly pregnant with my brother. After his birth, she quit working to become a stay-at-home mother.
I must add a few more details before I share my thoughts: I have a total of three younger siblings, which seems like a large family generally but seems small in light of the Duggars or Bailey’s family. I had no responsibility towards my younger siblings, and few responsibilities regarding the home or my parents, until a few years ago. My mom has homeschooled all of us off and on, but only a few years ago did she and dad decide to start homeschooling all of us, at once, until graduation, no questions. Then I started helping out more, making meals, sharing messages, holding the fort, etc. I did not have the same responsibilities as Bailey, with my siblings being closer in age than hers, but I still was depended on a lot.
Now, my thoughts: I agree entirely with Bailey. There’s no better or more eloquent way for me to say this, than simply to share her blog post: http://bighouseinthelittlewoodsblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/legend-of-sister-slave.html
And yet, reading Anonymous 2’s post, I must add a few more words of my own: no, stay-at-home moms and homemakers do not always push or pressure their daughters into the lifestyle they have chosen. It is up to each woman individually to search the Scriptures, pray about it, and decide for herself what she believes regarding women’s roles in the family and society. It is also up to each individual to search out and follow God’s will for his or her life. Simply because Bailey and I – and the dozens of other girls who have commented here – are not yet ready to be married, to have children, to follow through on our choice, does not make that choice void. Simply because we are teenagers, does not mean we are incapable of deciding our future and beliefs or that we are pressured into being homemakers and stay-at-home wives and mothers someday.
In fact, as my last word, I might add that, if I were to say I were pressured, it would be to go to college – to find a career, make a life for myself – when that is, in reality, not what I believe God’s plan for my life would be.

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