Motherhood Does Not Negate Your Other God-Given Roles

Peter is teaching a series to our teen youth group about loving others well by working well. He presented an interesting concept about life vocations that I immediately thought would benefit moms of little ones. He was warning the teens not to be all consumed by their future paid vocation because we are called to wear many hats in this life.

And, of course, for moms, it’s easy to be all consumed and defined by motherhood.

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Motherhood is a noble calling, to be sure. Teaching moms to love their children well is part of the mandatory Titus 2 “curriculum.” But I wonder if we’ve become child-centered to a fault. Yes, if you have kids, motherhood is where you’ll put a lot of effort. That’s good, but it can also be bad if it trumps all other relationships–like if we are more a mom than we are a wife, for instance.

We are all multi-vocational.

I am not just a mother. I am also a daughter, a wife, a sister, a friend, a neighbor, an employee, a church member, a citizen of this country.

We shouldn’t define ourselves by one role.

We get all weird when we define ourself by one role. It’s like we find our security there, but that’s not healthy.

Peter gave his example to our teens: The workaholic husband.

God’s not going to say to him, “You did such a great job building your career that I don’t care that you weren’t a good father.” A husband who climbs the corporate ladder and neglects his family is neglecting God given responsibilities.

Likewise, a pastor who cares well for his church but neglects his wife and kids is not going to get a pass because his ministry was spectacular. When church life overtakes everything else, something is amiss.

And young mother who is so wrapped up in her children to the neglect of her husband, parents, siblings or church family is not loving her neighbors well. God appoints our “borders.” He puts us in families and churches and neighborhoods for a purpose. We can’t neglect those roles.

Remember, our roles have limits, meaning they stop somewhere to give way to other roles.

Don’t let one calling in life rob you of other callings.

If we aren’t careful, we can make idols of our children. They can morph into becoming the center of our world, instead of the welcome addition and blessing that they are.

Don’t get me wrong, you should love your kids! But if you can’t even go away with your husband over night because you can’t bear to leave the kids, that’s out of whack. If you won’t leave the kids to go to lunch with a friend, you’re missing out on friendships that you should cherish…not to mention some good food. If you don’t even give a thought to your husband during the day, so that he receives your “left-overs” because you’ve solely invested in the kids all day, that’s out of balance.

Balancing life is always tricky, no doubt about it. But we’ll value our other relationships rightly when we realize that God has given us these roles to play, and has given us these people to love for a reason.

Don’t neglect other roles because you are a mom. It’s not healthy for you, it’s not loving your neighbors well, and it’s abdicating a God given sphere of influence that you’re responsible to steward well. Motherhood doesn’t negate our other God-given roles.

Pray for wisdom, jot down your roles and see if you’ve neglected any major vocations in your life. Then, start planning ways to adjust if need be.

Invest in a friendship by going out for lunch or stopping by for coffee, visit a shut in, say hello to your neighbor, visit a grandparent, love your husband well.

Does one vocation tend to consume and define you? What can you do to adjust and nurture all the relationships God’s ordained in your life? Let me know what you’re planning. :)

 

 

 

We Censor Our Kids’ Books {And my trick for making it easy.}

We censor our kids’ reading and viewing materials. There, I said it.

Yesterday I wrote about giving Matt a book to read in High School that contains some foul language. We don’t typically read books with foul language in them because we become what we think about and our hearts become callous over time when exposed to junk. In short, “We don’t trust the flesh,” as Peter would say.

Awesome Artwork: Jeannette Woitzik

Awesome Artwork: Jeannette Woitzik

We filter bad language from movies using a TV Guardian. We don’t allow movies that have vulgar scenes or sexual content. We’re not voyeurs over here and we believe in keeping your clothes on. We draw clothes on scantily clad women in our text books or encyclopedias. We have also been known to rip out unwholesome ads from magazines. If it comes into our home, we want it safe for our kids spiritual growth. Feel bad for my kids? Think they’re overly sheltered? Believe me, we see and hear enough just being out and about in the world. Enough to know sin’s effects, and enough to know that I don’t want it in my house any more than I’d want to bring snakes inside to expose the kids to them. I just want to be able to relax and grow in our home in healthy ways.

Anywho–after yesterdays post, someone asked HOW on earth do you keep up with teens who are reading so many books? And how do you monitor bad language, etc.

It’s a good question. Bad language is one aspect. Bad morals, faulty world views, and stories that don’t resolve with a Christian worldview can be tricky.

Ask yourself: Does the story put the child into a situation where there is really no right and no wrong answer. In other words, is the tale so sordid that the right thing to do is still wrong?

Sigh. In a time of moral relativism and a post-modern culture that believes that there is no truth, it’s a hard maze to navigate.

Bad language is the easy part, folks. Want to know a little trick?

Use Amazon’s book search feature. Find the book you want, and search inside. You can type the verboten word you’re looking for into the search bar and it will show you all the places it shows up in the book, including page number. Then, unleash the black permanent marker. :)

There you go. :)

Is foul language a deal breaker for you when it comes to reading and movies? How do you deal with it?

Weekend Superlatives 2/28

Sharing some of my favorites. The stuff I like almost as much as cupcakes. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Books I’m loving now:

Sidenote: One of the wonderful perks of homeschooling high schoolers is that you can assign them great books, and some of the greatest minds on various subjects become their teachers. I’ve assigned The Power of Habit to Matthew for schoolwork. I felt it was that insightful.  Matt is also currently reading Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy by Thomas Sowell (one of the most brilliant economists and thinkers of our time!), The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Children’s Blizzard, and Tozer’s The Pursuit of God (free on Kindle today, by the way. You can also sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime which gives you free shipping and access to hundreds of free movies and a kindle lending library. This could help take the sting out of the long winter. lol)

WWW Superlatives:

Favorite Products. Items we use daily around here.

 Ninja Express Chop  The girls make smoothies with this gadget every morning! It’s easy to use and cleans up quickly. 

Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet After visiting Marbles: The Brain Store with Holly and Hope and having to pry these tables out of their hands so we could leave, I bought them each one for Christmas. It’s used every day for handwriting, doodling and drawing. I love that it’s not an electronic device or video game and they love it anyway.

Newsy Stuff:

I’ve taken the plunge into freelance writing and have submitted several articles for publication to webzines around the web. My first submission was accepted. Yay. It gave me the courage to write more. Also, this month I was hired to do some part time graphic design/Virtual Assistant stuff for a bigger blogger. The Lord always provides and has opened up these doors for me to work at home. We’re chipping away at two college bills and we’re thankful for all of the extra work we can get!

And, I may or may not have bought another web address. It’s a project that I’ve had on my heart for a long time and something that will help younger moms. I’m praying for God’s direction and timing, and for the right women to partner with as I begin. I want Him to lead and bless it. More on that later. :)

Your turn! What are you reading? What blog posts did you love from around the web? Have a great weekend!

*Post contains Affiliate Links at no cost to you. 

 

We Are All Followers

Whatever we find our delight in

and believe will make up happy,

we’ll pursue and follow.

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We’re all following something or someone. We follow this person on Pinterest or that person on Twitter. We spend time finding out what they like and think.

We follow what our heart desires. We follow what we are devoted to. We chase what we believe will satisfy our deepest needs.

In fact, we’re always pursuing something. It might be a self-image, respect, admiration or power. For others it’s wealth, health, education or fame. Others only want power or empowerment. Others relaxation, entertainment or escape.

Are you a thirsty soul? What are you pursuing?

The Psalmist, David, was a thirsty soul. But instead of pursuing the temporal, he pursued the Eternal God. His soul thirsted for God. (Psalm 63:1)

He followed hard after God. (Psalm 63:8)

Not just a passive follow. A hard follow. David was scared he might miss something. He wanted to make sure he was close with God, so he’d not miss out on communion and fellowship. He didn’t want to allow any distance between him and the One his soul loved. David knew that he’d only be satisfied by God, and God alone.

Roy Hession in We Would See Jesus explains how we were created to adore God:

“The story of man began when God, who is complete in Himself and therefore could have no needs, deliberately chose, it would seem, to be incomplete without creatures of His own creating. “Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). It was for this purpose and no other – that of existing for the pleasure of God – that man was brought into being. He was intended to be the delight of God and the object of His affection. On man’s side, the basis of that original relationship was that it was completely God-centred. Man knew that he had only been created to delight God, and his only concern was to respond to the Divine affection, to live for Him, and to do His will. It was his joy continually to submit his will and desires to those of his Creator, and in nothing to be independent of Him. As he thus lived in submission to God, every need in man’s nature was satisfied by God.”

 

Until we return again to our original intent, we’ll never be satisfied.

A woman who is not satisfied in Christ alone will never be satisfied with anything else either.

What do you “follow hard” after?

What are you spending your time, money, talents, and energy pursuing? Are you looking for fulfillment in the perfect marital status, a certain style home, a particular friendship, a dream job, a hobby, your ministry, children, lifestyle choices, and even religiosity?

If you didn’t answer “The One True God” to the above question, then you’re chasing small-g gods who can never satisfy, and will always leave you disappointed and unfulfilled. This is why so many leave the church. They thought God would be a vehicle to bring them to their desired end, their small g-god. But our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God’s not accustomed to giving us trifles to adore when He alone is worthy of praise and adoration. In fact, in His goodness, He’ll strip any idols out of our hands no matter how painful. He knows what’s best for us and won’t let His children settle for scraps when there is a good, holy and loving God to be had.

Let’s pray for souls that thirst, first and foremost, for God alone. Let’s put away worthless things, empty thoughts, vain desires, selfish motives and sinful appetites that hinder us from seeking the True God who alone satisfies.

Small Changes That Are Already Paying Off

The other day I told you all my thoughts about Money Saving Moms Book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life and how much I enjoyed it.  (See my review of it here)

I really like to make time in my schedule for people. I think the house, the cleaning, the work that goes into a home is all for a purpose: so you can love people well.

lemon

Although we do have people over quite often and hospitality is one of my main ministries, I’d still like to do more.

Crystal suggested doing tasks in 15 minute chunks and this has done two things for me: made me concentrate on the task at hand, and motivated me to work faster.

This week, in fifteen minutes chunks, I:

  • cleaned/organized a kitchen cabinet a day, most particularly, my spice cabinet.
  • walked one mile a day with Leslie Sansone. (I just love her! You can watch her videos free on YouTube.)
  • wrote notes of encouragement or a thank you cards
  • decluttered a zone in my home
  • called a friend
  • started dinner by thawing meat, prepping veggies
  • washed a window
  • dusted a room
  • wrote a blog post
  • planned for next week

Being more efficient with my housework and personal care gives me more time and energy to do the fun things in life with the people I love.

Have you read Say Goodbye to Survival Mode? What was the most helpful tip you learned? How do you mainline your cleaning routine? What motivates you to get things done so you can get to the really important stuff: people?

In Praise of the Small Town Pastor

In the scheme of things, you’re unknown. You don’t have a Social Media following, a blog, a cable network or conference named after you.

You’re a small town pastor.

bible-podium

You’re the one who welcomed us with smiles to Sunday School.

You’re the one who arrived early, not to study, but to turn on lights and heat, to set up chairs, to scrape ice from slippery walkways and a million-and-one little tasks that needed to be done before the congregation ever arrived.

You’re the one who spent countless evenings discipling our parents so they could teach us.

You’re not a popular conference speaker. I haven’t seen you on any soft-focused, glossy brochures, or flashy websites. You’re the one who never wore an earpiece or had a flashy stage. You pastored before the days of high-tech broadcasting, and you rarely traveled beyond the church walls.

You’re not a well known author, though you wrote thousands of sermons in your lifetime. Your sermons, though unread and unpublished, were read by all as you lived them out in front of us. Not perfectly, but humbly.

You’re the one whose reach is not measured in Facebook or Twitter followers. Your reach was actual not virtual. Hands on, authentic, real. You influenced the lives around you because you cared enough to show up. You answered the phone when we had questions, visited our sickbed when we were hospitalized, sat with us as loved ones died.

You’re not the guy driving around in the nicest car in the neighborhood or wearing the flashy clothes. You sacrificed money for the Lord and for a congregation that is often times uninterested, worldly, critical and disloyal.

You’re the guy who listened to hours and hours of phone calls and did one on one counseling. Your “thanks” was often that people ignored your counsel or just left the church without a word. Or if there was a word, too often it was a drive-by verbal-shooting of all your shortcomings. Awesome.

You’re often over-worked, over-looked, under-paid and under-appreciated.

As far as celebrity Christianity goes, you never made a splash. But you were there for the people around you. You showed up and ministered to us. You loved us enough to tell us the truth, encourage us and point us to Christ. What more could we ask for?

And even if you never receive accolades here on earth, you were content to serve the One who called you. Your reward will be great in heaven, faithful, no-name, small town pastor. Because all of the behind the scenes work WAS seen by the One who matters and your name, in love, was graven in His Hands and on His heart. And your influence has left deep impressions graven on my heart, and now my own children, and someday, by God’s grace, on my children’s children.

Thank you!

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

Crystal from Money Saving Mom graciously sent me a copy of her latest book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life.

I was so excited to get right into it……… but I had a busy weekend, and then a busy week. I decided that I would finish it over the next weekend, but I waited…then procrastinated. Yeah. Awesome.

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Here I am, all ready to read it, how many weeks ago? Tick, tick, tick….

Turns out, I should have read earlier.

Crystal talks about her own experience with being so busy and trying to do so many things that she was sinking, emotionally and physically. In her friendly style, she explains what she was doing wrong and what she did to reverse it.

You totally feel like you are sitting with her over coffee and getting some expert one-on-one advice. She gives you clear cut boundaries, girls, and permission to say NO to things that are good but that are sucking the life out of the things that are best.

This book is totally worth your money if you are:

  • overwhelmed with life and feel like you are sinking,
  • busy but not actually productive,
  • lacking clear cut goals,
  • lacking motivation to achieve your goals,
  • overwhelmed by unrealistic goals
  • in need of advice for achieving long term goals in bite-sized chunks
  • chronically exhausted and running yourself ragged
  • or just plain want to know how Money Saving Mom turned her blogging business into a full time income for her family.

Thanks to Crystal, I have a solid strategy to achieve some goals that I had written off as “someday” goals: Someday when the kids are gone, or someday when I have a little more time. I realized that I had put some of my own goals on the back burner and used my kids as a convenient excuse for my poor lack of planning.

Well, I’ve begun chipping away at my goals to write a book, lose weight, daily exercise, organize the closets, and other ideals using Crystals easy methods. :)

You’ll really enjoy Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life. It’s like a life seminar for under $15 bucks. :)

*The Fine Print-y Stuff: I received this book free to review. All opinions are mine. I only promote items that I have actually enjoyed myself. This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. This costs you nothing, but when you purchase through Amazon, I get a small kickback for referring you to them. Thanks for supporting this blog.

 

Three Traits of A Spirit-Controlled Wife

Every woman wants her home to be a haven, a little heaven on earth.

Exhibit A: Pinterest.

But statistics tell us that more than half of Christian homes end in divorce. How does this happen?

I’m studying Ephesians with our Teen Youth Group and learning about a Spirit filled life. The Christian home should be different than a secular home, because it should be controlled by the Holy Spirit. When one person in the marriage is controlled by something else, the foundations begin to crumble.

spirit filled

The command “be filled with the Holy Spirit” simply means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It’s an ongoing allowing of the Holy Spirit to control you.

And as we know all too well, we can be controlled by many things. Here are a few instances in Scripture that we can probably relate to:

  • Anger- “”They were filled with wrath” Luke 4:28 means controlled by wrath. They were acting out of their ruling desire which was wrath.
  • Envy-”The Jews were filled with envy” Acts 13;45 so their controlling emotion was envy and that made them oppose the ministry of Paul and Barnabus.
  • Jealousy- “They were filled with jealousy and talked abusively” against Paul. Acts 13: 45
  • Wickedness- “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.” Romans 1:29

You get the picture. What fills you controls you.

The Christian couple is to be controlled by the Spirit of God.

I’m going to state the obvious here but owning a Bible does you no good if you don’t read it. And owning a Bible that you read and don’t plan to obey is doing you more harm than good. We read God’s word for direction and for our “marching orders.” We are under the Lordship of Christ and He’s now running our lives since we’ve been redeemed by His Son’s precious blood, right?

I want to give you three simple by-products, traits of a spirit controlled woman.  When you see them, you’ll realize how desperately we need to be in the Word of God!

1. A Spirit-Controlled Woman is Joyful. (Eph. 5:19) This kind of joy does not rise and fall with good experiences or bad experiences. It’s not dependent on external circumstances, but stems from a confidence that God is in control and that is enough for her, in good or in bad. It’s a steady, abiding joy.

Some women are like thermometers and others like thermostats.

Thermometer women rise and fall with their circumstances. They’re either really up or really down, really hot or really cold. They react and are “controlled” by environment. They have no stability of their own.

Thermostat women create the spiritual climate around her no matter how cold the temperatures may be. She knows that the temperature is “set” by her Maker, and no matter what way the dial turns, hot or cold,  she is confident that He’ll always determine what is best. She changes the climate instead of being controlled by it.

It’s such a horrible testimony to be a grouchy Christian. It just is. Nobody will get close to you if you are a bear one week and on cloud nine the next. Moodiness is a huge hinderance to Christian fellowship and mutual edification. A younger woman came to me for advice once and as I listened I asked her why she did not ask her own pastor’s wife for advice, which seemed to me the natural place to start. She replied, “She’s fighting her own demons right now. I don’t know. She just seems so miserable all the time, I didn’t want to bother her.”

Um, this is not good. And you know that we’ve ALL been this moody, grouchy woman once or twice and it isn’t invisible to others. We want to be windows of help and hope to our younger sisters in Christ, not the person they run away from! May it never be that our sour attitude turns off a younger sister from going to the church for help! Our lives have been changed and we are now constrained by the love of Christ! Remind your heart and face! Smile and be genuinely happy–your name is written in the Book of Life!

Paul tells us how he remains joyful, even in prison: “I have learned that in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.” Phil 4:11. Happy with what God ordains. That about sums it up.

be filled spirit

2. A Spirit Controlled Woman is Thankful (Eph. 5:20)

A thankful heart knows that whatever she gets it is a gift from God. It was undeserved. Whatever she has, it is enough and good. She’s content.

Unthankfulness and it’s twin sister discontentment begins when I think that the world owes me something more.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thes. 5:18

Whatever you are unhappy about right now, confess your sin of ungreatfulness and begin thanking God for it.

  • If it’s something unpleasant, then God will use it ultimately for your good.
  • If it’s something unplanned, then God had a different course for you today.
  • If it’s something unbearable, God’s grace will prove sufficient. The word gratitude comes from the same root word as grace!
  • It it’s a trial, it is producing patience and refining you. Be glad.
  • If it’s evil against you, God means it for your good.

3. The Spirit Controlled Woman is Submissive. (Eph. 5:21-33)

I know we all hate this word, man and woman alike. But God’s woman is submissive to her own husband and to those in the church. Whether or not your husband is doing his part on the “mutual submission” thing is not your main concern. We need to focus on our responsibility.

Jesus taught his disciples not to throw their weight around and “lord” over other people. He taught them by example that the greatest leader is the one who serves.

The Pharisees had it all backwards of course. They loved to build up their own authority and made sure others were in subjection to them. But God’s woman does things differently.

You are never in worse company than when you refuse to submit to your husband (except in the instance of sin, of course) and others.

Exhibit B: Satan. He was created, but instead of worshipping with thanksgiving, he craved worship and pursued it–it was his reining god.

Diotrophes insisted on being the big boss in the church. He was controlled by pride and loved the “preeminence” which only belongs to Jesus Christ. He loved to call the shots, be seen and heard, and was extremely controlling. He loved to be “in the know”(a.k.a…busybody). He caused division to the point where he rejected any other church member who accepted John! If you’re HIS friend, you won’t be mine! If you talk to him, I won’t talk to you!( 3 John vs 9,10) He had a celebrity mentality instead of a servant’s heart. He used the church and the church people to feed and promote his own selfish cravings.

The list of people who wouldn’t submit to each other is long in the Bible. Miriam and Aaron tried to control Moses. Jacob manipulated Esau, a trait he learned from his manipulating mother, Rachel. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Fallen man loves to rule and hates to submit.

Although it’s hard to submit to anyone, it’s completely natural when we are controlled by God’s spirit.

In fact, when you are in the middle of a family battle, or a church battle, it’s usually because one person has an authority problem. They either are wielding their perceived authority or fighting to overtake the God-ordained authority. Submission can be a struggle, especially when it involves someone close to you, but God’s glory is at stake.

Q: What does the state of your joy, your thankfulness and your submission tell the watching world about your great God? Is it speaking well of the gospel or making people want to look elsewhere for answers to life? Will you agree to let the Spirit control you today? Hand over the reins of your life in trust and dependence? It’s hard at first, but the “fruit” or results of a Spirit-ruled life is  sweet! Gal. 5: 22,23!

For further study, here’s a great article from GTY. 

*I tried to find photo credits for these pics. If you are the image creators, please let me know so I can attribute proper credit and provide a link back.

 

 

Your Parenting Struggles Are Opportunities to Choose

Frustrations and disappointments have a way of taking on a life of their own and overwhelming us. They distort our perspective and can even cause despair or depression.

Take being a mom, for example.

It never dawned on me before I had my first child that I wouldn’t have a clue about seemingly simple mommy tasks.

Enter Rebekah, my first born.

I quickly realized that I had no idea:

  • How sick I would be in pregnancy. I mean sick. Constant vomiting. Like in and out of the hospital for dehydration sick. Like drink sips of Coke if I even want to get out of this bed sick.
  • How to breast feed a baby. I love, love my babies and still do, but breast feeding was just miserable for me–all five times. I know, it’s horrible to say, but it’s true. I’ve never been so sick or uncomfortable in my life. AND yes, I had LLL help.
  • How to establish a sleep/wake cycle. Don’t they just sleep at night?
  • How to discipline a child. Need an adjective? Clueless. That was me. I had no idea how hard this aspect of training would be. Like full-time job hard.
  • How to communicate in marriage about parenting. Peter and I had two different communicating styles (artist/accountant) We loved each other but had many frustrating discussions! We were also on two different pages when it came to parenting. We had to figure out how we were going to raise these kids.

Looking back, these little thing, these road bumps and discouragements, were not the end of the world, but instead were opportunities for me to grow in grace. They were opportunities to choose. Would I trust or worry? Would I freak out or pray? Parenting is sanctifying work. God wants to conform us into the image of His Son through these hardships, but we have to agree to the work.

And, younger mom, disappointments are not without purpose. A God-ordained purpose.

They should make you look up and ask yourself Where is Jesus in all of this? He’s here, in our everyday stuff. In fact, He has allowed these little things to shape you. He’s using today to mold you. Your decisions today make you the person you’ll be tomorrow. Will you respond with humility and trust, or with  anger and self-reliance?

One lesson I’ve learned in the past 10 years is that trust does not just happen. You have to do some ugly work. You must confront worry and fear and call it what it is: unbelief and doubt in God’s supremacy.

A fitful, worrisome 20-something woman becomes a fretful, anxious 30-something if she doesn’t change course. She must submit her emotions and mind to the clear teaching and truths of God’s word.

Joanna Weaver in Having a Mary Spirit says it this way:

“We have a choice. We always have a choice. Either we can trust the Spirit’s leading, or we can insist on going our own way. But let me tell you, only one choice leads to life. The other marks a gradual descent toward spiritual death, for no one can refuse God’s will and prosper.”

Trusting God will draw you closer to Him each time you trust. Step by step, laying down your rights one decision at a time. Fear and insolence may raise up it’s ugly head, but you put it under the Lordship of Christ and tell it no. You are walking in the Spirit and abiding in His word.

Each instance of trust and obedience to God and His word helps loosen the self-made chains of bondage. Each expression of “Yes, Lord–You run my life!”, each act of brokenness before the One who made you yields more of the peaceable fruit of righteousness. It changes us. It’s when we hang on to the Vine we really live. Apart from the Vine is death, dryness, futility,because we know that apart from Him we can do absolutely nothing but fail and fall.

So, where are you a failure right now?

Can I just encourage you to see your failure as an entrance for the grace of God? A catalyst God uses to draw you into deeper dependence on Him and to open the floodgates of blessing in your life? Limitations help you to cling to Christ.

It’s sink or swim. And the scary part is that you get to choose your “savior.”

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You can choose the floatation devices of this world if you want. They’re fun, bright and readily available. They’re inexpensive and they have popular characters emblazoned on them. Everyone at the pool is using them.

But blow up toys were never meant to be used as life preservers. They even came with that that warning. They last for about a week before losing air and buoyancy.

If you are a Christian, God is not going to let you exist for long on your toy float. He’s not accustomed to giving us toys that are unsafe and unsteady. He knows that they are ultimately patch-jobs, and He is the Ultimate Life Preserver that you need.

Trust is something that comes hard for us. We say we trust God but our actions betray our words. A trusting heart is one at rest and motherhood was a catalyst for so many fears that peace was constantly elusive to me.

In my tired, frustrated, anxious mind, I had little room for trust. I had to get this thing right. I only had one shot at these kids. I have to train them in the way they should go. I, I, I.

I sometimes forgot that these kids were souls that God loved more than I ever could. He could use me, yes, but this was never about me. On my good days, my thought process was His Word will not return void. He is able to make all grace abound to me. He is my Shepherd, and my kids Shepherd today and every day and He’ll lead us! He is able to do all that He promised to do. Him, Him, Him. I should have clung to my Life Preserver and dropped the toys.

Raising kids is about God’s glory.

It is. Every work we do is for His glory. We can do years of motherhood for the wrong reasons and many of us have. We mother out of fear instead of faith. We mother to get approval from others and other twisted reasons.

I have this quote from a Thabiti Anyabwile sermon written in my Bible as a reminder when I find my motives for life falling short of God’s glory. Read it slowly, because it’s a good one:

To care more about anything less than the supreme glory and honor of God is in itself cosmic treason. It is to abandon God’s own agenda for Himself, namely, to be glorified among the nations, and to choose some lesser ends than what God Himself has appointed.

Disappointments and trials are ministry opportunities.

2 Corinthians 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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.

For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, or our affliction…

we were burdened excessively so that we despaired even of life, indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivereth us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.

God will use your trial so that you can help someone else. And that is a beautiful thing. God doesn’t waste your pain and frustration, but remakes it into something useful and helpful.

Are you feeling like a failure today in some area? Where are you going for help? Can you find an older Christian mom who can help you navigate the waters a little more clearly while you are feeling discouraged? What can you do today to make sure you’re clinging to the right savior? Tell me, if you want, in the comments. I’ll be sure to reply. :)

 

A Post I Can’t Even Believe I’m Writing

This is quite literally the post I never would have envisioned myself writing, let alone contemplating.

I’m actually contemplating the issue of pants on women.

The whole issue of women wearing pants was a women’s liberation issue that was being fought in the 1960′s–BEFORE I was even born. Mary Tyler Moore first donned them on public television in the 1960′s and women everywhere followed suit. The church, being behind the world by 10 or so years, began addressing this around the time I was in middle school.

One of my fav shows and MTM is totally adorable!

One of my fav shows and MTM is totally adorable!

Before I begin, let me say, Peter and I have had many discussions about this, and we’ve come from two different schools of thought.

I grew up running around the cranberry bogs wearing shorts and pants. I then entered a Christian school in 4th grade that forbade pants on women. They sang songs (for real) about how 1 Corinthians 11 commands that women should have long hair and not wear pants. I complied because I had to, but our family was most definitely known as the “worldly” family because we were (a) not from THAT church and (2) went to a church that allowed pants on women. Don’t feel badly for me! I was actually a self-righteous rebel at the time and enjoyed being the one who was “persecuted” for not having the same beliefs. I looked down at the methods and beliefs of these poor people, all caught up in their legalistic ways.

And then I married Peter and realized that he had stronger beliefs along this line than I had imagined. He believed that pants were not sinful but that skirts honored the male/female “distinctiveness” designed in scripture.

He asked that I wear skirts out of the house and I took fits.

He tried to explain his views, but I hardly listened and instead did a lot of talking. We argued, and I wish I could tell you that I was a submissive wife back then. (I recall sitting on the bed and literally refusing to leave the house in winter in a skirt, poor guy, making him late.)

In time, when I realized that it was important to him, I did submit but in a self-righteous way. I assumed that since he was the “weaker brother” it was like my “cross” to submit to this area out of love. Yeah. I was awesome like that. Anyway, I really loved him and I reasoned that this was a small matter that I could bend on until he finally saw the light. Over time, this issue disappeared, and, as you know, me and my four daughters wear pants.

And then this. This fashion show in London of men.

 

Getty Images

Getty Images

And I re-live all the arguments for and against distinctiveness that Peter has made to me, and ask myself if my son asked to dress like these men, what would I say? What would be my reasons?

And I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but it forces me to revisit this issue again. Because in good conscience, I need to know if I’ve been consumed by the norms of the culture, and whether my choices show the holiness of God and His firstness in my life.

I’m praying for wisdom on this one, ladies, because this one has blind-sided me.

Any thoughts?