A Chat with Mentor Linda Buxa
Linda and I have been trying to link up for this interview for months now - haha! She moved, I moved, her pictures were stranded on a computer she couldn't get access to, I was gone for the weekend and unable to get access to the interview from the hotel we were at... BUT to no avail - here is Linda's story and I am so looking forward to meeting her soon. (yes! in public and not online!)
Tell us more about yourself, Linda. What is a regular day like for you?
I have no regular day. My husband just retired from the Coast Guard. In our last tour, he worked 90 miles from our house. He was a part-time super-commuter and a part-time geographic bachelor. He stayed in the Bay Area many nights during the week & came home in the middle of the week and on weekends. This meant I was a part-time single parent. Usually I would drop the three kiddos off at school, work out, then do freelance writing or take care of the house or work at the kids' school or coach volleyball or drive to games and activities or help out friends who needed it.
My new life, the one we've been creating, is that my husband will now be home every night. He'll take the kids to school. I've taken a part-time job with Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, doing much of their writing. I am also a weekly blogger for Time of Grace. We bought a beautiful home on 11.7 acres, so we have weeds to pull and chickens to feed and eggs to gather.
Though my schedule changes every day (and, admittedly, I struggle with routines so I love having every day be something different), a regular day meant the kids bickered, I nagged, and my kitchen counter had a pile of mail & to-do lists. It also had the kids playing together, tons of laughter, and a general recognition of just how much God has blessed us.
First - jealous of those chickens!
Second - I love reading your spoken writing.
How would you describe your unique role as a woman?
I'm not sure I'm going to answer this question the right way. My whole life I've been told I'm unique. I talk a lot, laugh loudly, and often speak so quickly I tend to regret opening my mouth. I used to struggle with how I was supposed to use the gifts God gave me because I can be pretty outspoken. Now that I'm a bit more mature & learning how to soften my rough edges, I realize I can use my polite outspokenness to serve women who feel they don't have a voice. God has put me in a position to also explore the Bible with women by being a Bible study leader and women's retreat speaker. I also feel comfortable talking to my home church's leaders, working with them to bring women closer to Jesus.
I'm thankful that God surrounded me with men who saw my gifts and encouraged me to use them. Pastor Jeske at St. Marcus asked me to start an after-school youth ministry program. Jeb Schaefer and Gary Baumler (editors for Northwestern Lutheran/Forward in Christ) saw my gifts and let me run with them. My husband absolutely values me and is always praising me, both privately and publicly.
Now that I'm blogging for Time of Grace, I have been blessed with a much larger opportunity to reach people, to help them feel connected, to share struggles and joys, and then hopefully lead them to a home church where they can become active in God's kingdom.
What bible passage is your favorite?
It changes. My default answer is
Lately, though, as my family has been in a major life change and struggling with some roadblocks, we keep praying about what path God wants us to take. Too many times we ask "What does God want?" then I realize the answer is in
No matter what our circumstance, God tells us what his will is.
Who was your strongest Christian mentor?
In my youth, my "adopted" grandma—Grandma Merten—always said, "if the good Lord wills" and shared the joy of Jesus with me just by loving me. In college, my professor—Mary Heins—demonstrated how you laugh and teach and encourage and love the Lord, all while raising a family. Throughout my adult life, as we've moved with the Coast Guard, it's been a number of people: my Baptist friends who were quick to hold hands and pray out loud (something I didn't grow up doing, but is a grand blessing); a lovely woman in her 70s, who had a deep faith, was also a military spouse and could just tell me with her eyes that she knew what I was going through; a good friend, who was an atheist until adulthood, shared her wisdom, life experience, and parenting knowledge. I can't pick one because God used pieces of all of them to guide me.
Love that last line, Linda.
Anything specific from Titus 2:3-5, our blog's mission, that you'd like to comment on?
Busy at home has changed for me. Back in the day when I had 3 kids ages 3 1/2 and under, I was physically busy. I was exhausted and cried often. Now, it can mean that I am busy with my family playing games with them or taking them places or making sure they are set for school or working from home. I recognize that in each season of life, this passage's meaning will change.
I think the line that jumps out the most for me is "so that no one will malign the word of God.” However you have set up your life (working for pay, working not for pay, how much you get involved or how little) be kind, so no one will malign the word of God. Let others see your life, your comfort, your peace, and be drawn to what sets you apart (makes your henhouse HOLY).
Amen! Our holiness can only be attributed to Christ's grace and His action within us.
What advice do you have for us to encourage our husbands in their faith and roles?
First—lower the bar. Every book (or magazine article or Pinterest thingy) out there is telling you how to create this perfect marriage. It doesn't exist. Every marriage is unique, not cookie cutter. So stop wishing for what we don't have. Instead delight in how God brought you together to be a team.
Then we can work on the next part...
Second—raise the bar. Take your unique relationship and build on it. Hand your husband the devotion book and ask him to read to the family, encourage him to go to the men's Bible study or to hang out with Christian friends, pray at bedtime (or if you're like me, dinner time or on a walk works better because I'm too tired at night) Growth in faith isn't the same in the beginning of your marriage as it is in the crazy sleepless baby days, as it is in the sweet spot (where I am now: kids aren't yet teens, but they are old enough to do the laundry). And I can't speak to high school days because we aren't there yet. But realize that you'll have good & bad days and he will too. Keep your eyes focused on the long term goal of being that lovely elderly couple who still holds hands in church.
What do you feel is a threat to a woman's faithfulness in her home?
For me it's Facebook. When I want adult conversation I find myself drawn to the people there...people from my past and my present who make me feel smart, witty, and beautiful. I often lose time with the people in my house because I am thinking of my next status update.
Moving this summer was good for me. We didn't have internet connectivity for almost a whole month. I focused on my family and found joy in that.
Maybe we can all "fast" with internet—take a day where you do no social media. Or set aside a "fasting" time of day. Or .... I'm open to ideas because I know I struggle with it now that I have wireless again.
Oh, yes... I hear ya. Our bible study fasted from Facebook/online one week and we'd text each other encouragements throughout the day. Amazing how easily technology can distract us from the needful things of the day and the ONE Thing Needful too.
Can you share an event in your life that was difficult that God strengthened you through?
Not so much an event as a time when I had to learn something...
In the very beginning of my marriage, which was a great time, it was also a learning experience. I had been super involved in serving Jesus before I was married. I was in a Christian contemporary band, I was running an afterschool ministry, I worked at the WELS administration building, I did a trip to Antigua with Builders for Christ. Then I got married, and moved to an island in Alaska. There I couldn't be that involved. That's when I realized that my identity had been in what I did, not who I was. I had to learn that I had value simply because I was God's precious daughter, not because I did stuff for him. It was a hard lesson. Apparently I was a slow learner because I had to keep reminding myself of that for the next 8 years as I was busy raising little ones and not necessarily being "active."
Is there a moment that you saw God's hand so clearly guiding you that you would like to share?
This isn't from my marriage or family, but back in my single days. I had a job and was making enough to live on. I was asked to teach a COM 101 class at WLC. I thought that the extra cash from that semester would be amazing. What happened over the next four months was funny, in a "only God could have thought this out" kind of way. Each of those four months, I ended up having an unexpected expense—a car repair, new bed, etc.—that was pretty much the amount of my paycheck. God provided before I even knew I needed it.
After your big move, what's next for you?
God closed every door, except the one that led us to this spot in Wisconsin. So I know we are supposed to be here. I'm just not sure what the future holds yet. We just had a house blessings where we asked God to let our home be a shelter for the defenseless, a refuge for the weary, and offer a foretaste of what our heavenly home will be like. How God is going to accomplish this is still a mystery. We are slowly meeting people who are gracious and kind. Yet at the same time, this new community still doesn't feel quite like home.I know that it will take at least one year to make the kind of friends at our new church who are more than acquaintances. So, honestly, I'm buckling in for that stretch where our new home isn't really home yet, where we miss the close friends from our last home, where we are navigating our way through new relationships and new locations as we find new ways to serve.
Yes, another grocery store to learn and another community to make family.
I am excited to see how God uses you (and your beautiful family!) to continue His work.
Oh what wise words you have shared with us today. I'm taking a lot of what you said to heart and I'm sure our readers as well. Rejoicing in you!
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and women’s retreat speaker. Her voice is also heard regularly through her writing and blogging for Time of Grace Ministry. She is married to Greg, and they live in Wisconsin with their three active children, one mischievous puppy, two sneaky kittens, and nine tolerant chickens. The sign in her kitchen sums it up: You call it chaos; we call it family.