Tag Archive for motherhood

A Word About Enforcing Obedience

The human heart pulses with the desire for self-rule.

Every fiber of our natural being is bent toward autonomy and self-sovereignty. We don’t naturally want to bow to the Lordship of Christ, and even after we’ve trusted Christ, our old selfish nature fights against God’s new standard for us: submission to Him.

Truthfully, the flesh hates to submit to anyone. We get really uppity when our will is crossed or people question us. I don’t like it when Peter questions why I keep the water bottles in this drawer or why I don’t crush my boxes before I put them into the trash bin. When he tells me that I should use this curriculum instead of that one {the one that I researched for a gazillion hours and where were you again during that process??} I can feel that old self, that defensive self, rising up claiming its right to rule the world, and I have to force it back down under the rule of Christ.

 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

The rubber meets the road in the oddest places and over the smallest issues sometimes, doesn’t it? Water bottles, recycling, and curriculum?

Even in small matters, God’s will must super-cede our whims and wishes. God wills that I submit to others in areas of preference, and He wills that I submit to my gentle husband.

And unless we choose to bow to God’s will in the small, insignificant moments, taking drastic measures to cut out selfishness and self-seeking– measures that include repentance and turning from the wrong way into the path of obedience,

and unless the grace of God shines in and prompts us towards a serious pursuit of humility,

we’re going to fumble and fight our way through this life, hurting people, sacrificing relationships on the alter of our own ego, burning bridges, cutting off those who cross us, and elbowing our way to our perceived top.

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So every morning, my job is to de-throne Sarah and re-throne Christ to His rightful place, as Master and Lord. This is seriously hard business.

SO, where am I going with this?

Well, I often talk to frustrated mothers who are dealing with disobedient children, and they can’t seem to see that their sweet child is struggling with the same old temptation we all face: the submission issue. The child wants what the child wants. End of story.

And honestly, the mother is not dealing with this situation well. They’ve gotten into a battle of the wills and the child is driving her crazy and she resents all the TIME it takes to parent this out-of-control child. She’s frustrated, so she takes action. Nobody will accuse her of being a passive mom. She’s armed with Ephesians 6:1 and she uses it like a boss. She sets out to enforce first time obedience and nobody better cross her. She uses threats or promises to control the child’s behavior. She begins to expect outward compliance. She uses punishments and rewards to get a desired behavior. Her moods are all over the place. She snaps in an effort to control. She yells.

Obedience has become the end-all and she’s ruled by that desire.  And this is where it all goes terribly wrong.

To be clear, the desire for kids to obey is a good desire, but it’s not the ultimate goal and it’s abusive to use ungodly methods to get your child there.

In fact, dear mom, more important than your child obeying you is YOU OBEYING CHRIST. Your authority only comes from Him and He has put you in this place to represent Him.

You are His ambassador and your authority has boundaries. You can’t rule any old way you’d like to. You’ll answer to God for your treatment of His kids.

Your authority must be reflective. It MUST reflect Christ. It should bring the child face to face with the Father’s character. It should hold the child’s hand and say, “I’m dealing with you this way because this is how God is.” “God says we all must obey His word, and this behavior is not in His will for you. We can’t bite and hit and hurt others. We must be kind.”

So when mom is not under the authority of Christ and is ruling like a CRAZY–

You are portraying a false image of Christ to your child and undermining all that you are setting out to do. You’re marring the image of Christ and portraying Him as a moody, silent, manipulative, angry, frustrated, or exasperated taskmaster. And you’re harming your child’s soul. (hardening it as well.)

I know parenting is hard. I know it is. But we make it harder when we don’t submit to God’s will for our life  because we’re locked and loaded on one aspect of our kid’s life. 

There’s a lot about training kids online, but if we would just submit ourselves to Christ, our authority issues won’t become central. No, showing your child Christ becomes central.

If you’ve asked your kids to obey for all the wrong reasons, or if your heart’s motivation was all wrong–GO AND TELL THEM and ask them to forgive you. Tell them that you have an authority problem–a problem as old as Eve– and you’ve used that authority in ways that displeases and misrepresents God. Tell them that yelling, manipulating, and the silent treatment are all just adult selfishness and sin.

And tell them that you are working on trying to be a mother that obeys God just as much as they are working to try to obey you, for Christ’s sake.  Tell them that we are all under the authority of the Word of God and none of us can live the way we want.

Then repent of your wrong reasons for enforcing discipline in the home and remember that your number one job as mothers is to teach our kids to glorify and honor God’s Word and to point them to God by reflecting His nature.

Life is simpler when we follow Christ first. Only then can we lead our kids to Christ.

 

 

A Little Encouragement For When Life Isn’t What You Expected

Some people like surprises and some don’t. I like good surprises like flowers or a card, but I don’t generally like surprises, especially when it comes to “life.” I like to know the ground rules. I like to know what I can expect, and of course, life isn’t like that at all. We don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

So when life unfolds differently than we expected, we can be thrown for a loop. We can begin to fear and become discontent.

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Over the years I’ve learned that being in control is NOT something we get to be. God is in control. So, the secret to being content is to know your God and to really believe His Word.

I know this sounds simple, like Christianity Lite 101, but as I’ve talked to women and have experienced my own fears and reactions to life, I see that this is often hard stuff. Knowing words and head knowledge does not always translate into actual belief. And we see this by our expectations and our reactions.

Oh, those expectations! We hold on to them don’t we? And they can really do a number on us if we don’t let them go!

We expect things to go smoothly. We don’t expect trials. We hate suffering. We get mad when we’re treated like a servant.

Our expectations are deflated when real life sets in.

  • We want a perfectly understanding husband.
  • We want kids who have the wisdom of parents so that we don’t have to spend so much time and energy parenting.
  • We want a home that is self-cleaning.
  • We expect people to be kind and considerate and get mad or even when they aren’t.

We get frustrated with the bumps and set-backs that come with inefficiency, sinful interaction, messes, and timetables that don’t run smoothly.

It’s in these times that we have to ask, “What is the truth about my God right now?” and “Do I really believe the Scripture?”

If you are an idealist like I am, you are easily annoyed by the seeming contradictions of this life. You know how things should be, and you’re irritated when they’re not that way. This can be good, when it leads to helping those who are unjustly treated, but it can also be a curse, when you have ideals about what your own life should look like and be, and you disappoint yourself.

These are the grounding truths you need to meditate on when life is disappointing:

I am a most beloved daughter of the God of Heaven.

I’ve signed up to be His servant and to do His will because I believe He is God of the Universe and in control, and I trust Him.

Did you skip over the servant part when you read that sentence? If so, let me encourage you to let that sink in and take root in your spirit. Those who follow Jesus Christ are here to do His will. Servants.

So, yeah…

A few questions about servant hood.

  • Do I get really upset and mad when I’m treated like a servant?
  • When my husband leaves his socks on the ground, do I have the mindset of a servant?
  • When my toddler presses play doh into the rug, do I see myself as a servant?
  • When I am in ministry, “serving others” do I get ruffled when I am treated as a servant?
  • When God brings the “needy” to me, do I get exasperated that there are always people who need my help?

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I’m thinking that our irritability and impatience show that we don’t really have a servant’s mindset but a master’s mindset.

A master wants his will obeyed. He expects things to be his way. He wants others to respect him and honor him. He doesn’t want to be crossed EVER.

So, recognizing our servant status and thinking in terms of picking up a towel and basin for the sake of others will help us accept the will of our Master.

Because, isn’t that what a servant does–the the will of his master? He expects things to be the master’s way. He expects that people will see him as little and sends all “respect” and “glory” to his master. He doesn’t expect anything but to serve.

We’d all verbally affirm that we’d like to be like Jesus, so let’s look at Philippians 2, to see our example:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

If we want to live as Jesus lived, it involves extreme humility.

Humility means dying to self.

Moms, do we really have the mind of Christ? Would your kids say that you are humble? Are we putting others first for the sake of the gospel instead of acting like our kids are distractions and hindrances from the grander duties of life?

Wives, do we have a “mind of our own” or the mind of Christ? Do our interactions with our husband show humility? Do we consider his needs? Help him? Pride ends (and contention) where humility begins, doesn’t it?

Ministry wives, do we get our knickers in a knot when people exclude us, talk badly about us, expect the unreasonable from us, and use us? Do our reactions reveal a servant’s mindset or a master’s mindset? Would the last congregant who hurt you say you reacted with humility?

Another way we can be like Jesus is to value God’s will over our own:

““Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Jesus, the man, was submissive to God’s laws. He treasured the law. He never crossed God’s law. We also need to value, treasure, and obey God’s Word. This is not legalism, or bondage. God’s Words and ways bring freedom and life. They’re our guidebook for living.

When you are disappointed in your situation,

or you feel that you’re not getting your fair share,

I’d encourage you to take another look into Scripture.

It’s clarifying. It’s hopeful. It reorients your expectations. It fills you with gratitude and hope and most importantly,

it points you to the Savior and shows you once again what it means to live a Christian life. You’ll see the suffering Christ. You’ll see the merciful Lord. You’ll see the Sovereign One. You’ll see the satisfaction He offers to those who are destitute and thirsty. You’ll see that the suffering is only temporary, and that God is good eternally.

You are loved, dear friend. What verse encourages you to think God’s way during times of trials? What do you to put those things in the forefront of your mind? I’d love for you to share in the comments or on FB.

Have a great weekend, friends!

 

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A Blog About Nothing In Particular

A blog about nothing in particular?

It’s come to my attention that my little blog is not easily classified. When people ask me what I write about, I don’t really know what to tell them. Just this past week a lady asked me, “I hear you have a blog. What do you write about?”

“Well, you know, whatever I’m learning or interested in. Kinda about life… Err…” {crickets}

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When I read about social media growth strategies and “growing your brand” by surrounding yourself with people who are writing and talking about similar things, I realize that my my little blog is kinda in no-man’s land.

How do you market a blog with no clear focus? {“Market” would imply a “business model” which I don’t have. HA.}

Who are my people–my “tribe”? Moms? Wives? Ministry Wives? Home schoolers? Artists? Christians? Foster parents? Really, I’m kinda all over the place.

This week I was re-reading Kisses from Katie and she helped me realize why I’ve never been able to quite nail this down.

She says, “Today I am living the desires of my heart and I cannot imagine being happier; I cannot imagine living any other life than the one that unfolds before me day by day. But believe me, I am by no means living my plan…I am watching God work, and as I delight myself in the Lord by doing what He asks of me and saying yes to the needs He places in front of me, He is changing the desires of my heart and aligning them with the desires of His heart.” Kisses from Katie.

I write about life and the way it unfolds and what I am learning and I’m not sure you can map that out ahead of time. At least, I can’t.

This is not the same as being directionless, although it feels that way. I do recognize common themes here: grace, God’s sovereignty, God’s goodness, and love. Oh, and coffee. 😉

I’ve never been one to make big plans for my life. It’s not that I’m directionless or have no goals, or that I’m lazy. I’m always busy, but I’ve learned to be okay with whatever God wants. I guess you’d call that “following.” This blog is about following God on a daily basis in the everyday moments.

I’m still floored when people show up to read here. (6K of you? WHAT??)

But I think that people show up because maybe their life is similar. Maybe your days are a bit unpredictable with kids or school. Maybe you can relate with the mundane jobs that need to be done by “someone.” Maybe you fight to choose joy in the midst of it, like me. Maybe you want can relate to the cooking, cleaning, laundry, decorating posts. Or maybe you just like to read what God is teaching me every day. Maybe you have dry spells when you don’t desire God like you should and it’s comforting to know that other people struggle with that as well.

Maybe you, like me, are just trying to follow God with whatever He gives you today. Trying to steward your moments well, depending on Him for the outcomes. Maybe you’re handing him your 5 small loaves and 2 fishes in faith and you’re hoping He’ll see your desire to give and serve and use it to feed someone else.

If you feel a little directionless like I do sometimes, or if you’ve been sidelined from your plans by kids or health or circumstances, that’s not always a bad thing. In all these things, God is leading you and your life is unfolding according to His plan.  It’s really an adventure. Every day you wake up and ask, “Lord, what today? Who will you send me? What can I for you? Who can I love for your glory?”

Some days we don’t recognize it as much. On the down days it looks very much like nursing sick kids to health or training and retraining toddlers. Sometimes our mission looks like serving nutritious meals to a husband or cheering up the people who reside in your own walls.

I am in good company. My mom, one of the women I admire most, taught me by her example to pray for whatever God has for the day and then trust Him to lead you.

It’s all holy work when God is in it. God is the focus. It’s all for Him. Our job is to follow and be faithful.

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Lessons You Learn by Becoming A Mother

Motherhood has a way of teaching us surprising lessons.

It challenges pre-conceived notions about life.

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Motherhood is both wonderful and exhausting, exciting and mundane.

The emotions of motherhood, the highs and lows and the rate they change, cannot be tallied or tracked on paper. How can someone I love so much frustrate me this much!? How can I be worried so much about someone who has a total mass of less than 25 lbs!?  I’m not being dramatic. The love a mother has for her children cannot be exaggerated. Still, even the most observant mothers need to experience certain things in order to fully understand.

For instance, if you thought that a normal bedtime was 7 p.m., you’d be wrong. That’s apparently THE VERY HOUR when children become scared, hungry, interested in books, and downright thirsty. Oh, then they need to use the bathroom.

If you thought 7 a.m. was the normal time to “rise and shine”, you’re wrong again. The ideal time to rise is based on the first rays of light coming through the window. Room darkening shades are a TOTAL waste of money.

If you thought that toddler’s tantrums were based on reality or reason, I don’t even know what to tell you, except you need to spend more time with kids. Tantrums, as it turns out, are based on perception of extreme mistreatment and injustice like the wrong colored sippy cup being administered, the wrong drink IN the sippy cup, the wrong character on the cup, or the wrong person handing them the cup.

Tantrums can be triggered by the desire to NOT wear a jacket, the mention of going to the store, not being allowed to buy candy once inside said store, being buckled into a car seat, or simply the urge to go outside right.at.this.very.moment even though it’s only 5 a.m.

Watching a tantrum is like watching a writhing, shrieking, sobbing contortionist performing his final act.

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Children will embarrass you. They’ll point out people’s worst features –in front of them– at loud decibels– whilst pointing. Subtlety is not a strength.

You learn that toddlers’ appetites are unpredictable. They refuse to eat one day, causing you to panic and take temperatures. “You have to eat, or you’ll get sick! Wait, are you sick!?” 

Oh, and food tastes change dramatically as well. On Monday they love carrots, and the next day, NEWSFLASH, all that has changed and they are willing to DEFY THE WORLD in order to not have to eat them at dinner time.

As they grow, the lessons are less obvious and take more time to learn.

You’ll learn the delicate balance of letting go during those tricky years between 11-18 when normal things become slightly embarrassing like kissing them in front of their friends, wiping their face in front of their friends, and reminding them of the family rules in front of their friends.

You learn that sometimes they really need to talk to their mother and sometimes they don’t. You learn to be perceptive to these times so you don’t miss them.

You learn that sometimes you need to let them fail in order to learn the lessons that will help them become responsible adults. And when they do fail, your mom-heart breaks as much as theirs. Conversely, when they succeed, your heart bursts with pride and excitement.

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You learn that Time has a way of showing up and declaring “The End” to the childhood phase all together.

As they leave, you’ll learn that they take pieces of your heart with them out the door on their journey.

As they leave, you’ll look back fondly on the days when the scuffle of feety pajamas on the wooden floor broke the 5 a.m. morning silence. (You might not even mind recalling the sound of tantrums.)

You realize that time was precious and memories were made in the midst of what seemed like the mundane whirl of family chaos: running to lessons, buttoning jackets, combing hair, family meal time, working on homework, games in the yard, snuggling to watch a movie, or family pizza night.

Moms, the “ordinary days” were actually an extraordinary gift from God.

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Motherhood is a gift, every stage of it.

I’m so thankful for that gift, and for my children, who taught me so much and still teach me every day!

Grace for the Mom Who Isn’t Enough

Wipe the counters. Empty the trash. Vacuum the rug. Make the coffee. Wash the cups. Fill the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher. Change the laundry. Pick up Cheerios. Pick up Legos. Swiffer the floor. Change the diaper. Answer the phone. Fill the sippy cup. Check the mail. Write the check. Fold the laundry. Brush the teeth. Feed the cat.

Dizzying, this mother-life. Constant. Always moving, never seemingly making progress.

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Nothing will hit you with the stark reality that you are not enough like motherhood will. You quickly realize that you don’t have enough of anything–energy, time, organizational skills, wit, wisdom, patience, or maternal instinct– to parent these kids like you dreamed you would.

Our suspicions seem to be confirmed when we check social media and notice that our friend’s kids are wearing matching outfits and hairbows and they’re all “off” to ballet lessons. You notice your smiling friend seems to have the Kate Middleton blowout, and she’s clutching her coffee in neatly-manicured-hands.

And with every click, we are measuring ourselves and mentally keeping track of our deficiencies.

Click. Oh, she’s on a missions trip with her kids! Wow.

Click. Oh wow, they’re on vacation at that beautiful resort.

Click. What a sweet husband she has. He’s always sending her flowers and wisking her off for dinner. 

Click. Look at how amazing her decorating is. That house looks like it should be in a magazine!

Click. Oh, look at her surrounded by all her friends. They always have so much fun. I wish I had just one close friend like that.

Doesn’t social media feed the notion that everyone’s enough but you?

I had a day like this recently. I was going on day three of barely any sleep because my little guy was suddenly crying at night and needed to be rocked. I was also fighting sickness.

I pulled myself out of bed earlier than normal because my to-do list was long, poured myself an extra-large cup of coffee, plopped down on the couch and admitted to God, “Well, here I am. Completely overwhelmed before the day even begins, exhausted, moody, and ridiculous, but here for whatever I can get today.”

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I’ll admit to you right now that my flesh hates to come to God. I hate to admit that I’m needy. I feel like a beggar and who wants that? I want to be like my friends in the pictures who have it all together! But I’ve learned that my feelings are rarely truth. God tells us to come. He implores us to come! Because he wants to satisfy. He tells us to come with nothing in hand and be filled.

I love this paraphrase/commentary of Matt. 11:28-30

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Bleary eyed and half-heartedly I read:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God’s power made perfect in the midst of my weakness.

Yes, please. That’s what I need.

When I agree with the Bible and admit that self-dependence is NOT a Christian virtue, nor the trait of a Spirit controlled woman, I can embrace these truths when I am depleted that give me hope:

I am never left to fend for myself and I am not parenting these kids alone.

God gives me exactly what I need in the moment. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want/lack.” He takes care of every one of my needs.

I do not need to conjure up the strength to do this thing right. I have God’s strength to cover my weakness.

God promises grace for today. I don’t need to worry about the tomorrows, because God doesn’t dole out grace for all.of.the.things I could ever worry about tomorrow. He deals in today.

No matter what I feel, God called me to parent these kids. This wasn’t a freak lottery. God is sovereign and in His wisdom, you are “it”, dear mother! Yes, you have inadequacies like we all do. Yes, you’ll struggle with issues your friends may seem to conquer with ease. But God does not call you to do something that He doesn’t equip you to do. While parenting is hard, we are not left comfortless. We have the Holy Spirit to cheer and guide our daily work.

My life doesn’t have to look like my friend’s life. God called me to this. He ordained my place and time. He wants me to rejoice and live it out!

Could it be that weakness is a gift? On those days when we are most aware of our own frailty and feel like a failure before we begin,

on the days when we are most vulnerable, is it then in those moments that Christ can work in us and through us in visible ways by the power of His might?

And isn’t it when we are the frailest that we’re also hyper-aware of His work in us and through us and we’re most prone to thank Him and give Him the glory?

So instead of beating yourself up for having limitations or for lacking ability, let’s give thanks for anything that causes us to press in to God and to rest in His sufficiency.

What is lacking in your life? Could it be that God will use that deficiency to keep you close to Him? Praise Him for it and rest in Him.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2015 {AKA Seasons Change}

I’d like to pretend I’ve put a great deal of time into planning for 2016. Although I do have a few goals for 2016, the truth is that I am in a season of adjustment and some days I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. It’s not because I am running myself ragged or that I am just so incredibly busy that I can’t keep up. It’s more like I’m in a season that I didn’t expect.

Many of you know that I’m caring for a toddler boy right now. We are absolutely in love with him, but, as with all foster care, there are so many unknowns that it can be exhausting and overwhelming. I’ve told my closest friends this, and I guess it’s common in fostering, but I worry more about this little guy than I ever did with my own children. Everything’s fluid, nothing set in stone.

12390965_10153233382060785_5542351305404369267_nThere’s a great deal of unsettle-ness that comes with the fostering territory and I don’t even know if I could explain it if I try. You try to make things “feel” permanent when you know they aren’t. You make every effort to assimilate them into your family and make them feel attached, when you know that it could all change at any moment. Sometimes it feels fraudulent and like a big social experiment. You worry that it will end in hurt for this little guy and it breaks your heart.

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On a day-to-day basis, I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is love this little one the best I can. God ordained for Him to be here and what God ordains is always good. I can’t worry about tomorrow even though I find myself daily fighting with the “what ifs” that pop into my mind. We’re all better off for having had this little boy in our life, if only for a season.

I’ve learned several lessons in the last 8 months, all totally unexpected ones.

  1. Acceptance. Most of them include the concept of accepting God’s will when it feels awkward or unstable. Submitting to God’s plan when I wonder if it will ultimately end up hurting my children’s hearts.
  2. Surrender. I think we confuse commitment to God with surrender and they are two totally different animals. I can commit to what I want: the ministries, the priorities, the activities. Commitment puts me in the driver’s seat. Surrender is completely letting go of my own ideals and plans and accepting the path God has laid out for me. It puts God in the driver’s seat.
  3. Time. You never know how God will rearrange your life, so spending time in God’s Word in BULK when you can is an imperative. For the last 8 or so years, I’ve had the luxury of lots of time in the Word. I could sit at my leisure and study because my kids were older and more self-governed. During these years, I went through 2 Journaling Bibles, studied numerous books of the Bible in-depth, took detailed notes that I can return to during this season. I can see now that God was “growing me” and driving down “roots” for the stability I’d need for this season.
  4. Love and do good–no strings attached. It’s easy to love those who love us back, and harder to love those who are unkind or rude, yet God’s love benefits the just and the unjust. Fostering has taught me an aspect of God’s love that I needed to learn again: selfless love. Love that gives time and sacrifices energy for the benefit of another who might never remember you at all. Love that desperately wants to keep the child but prays earnestly for the recovery of the child’s bio-mom at the same time.
  5. Serving. I’ve said this before but serving God doesn’t always look the way you think it will and that’s what’s so exciting about the Christian life. Hospitality and “kitchen table counseling” continue to be the ministries God ordains for me mostly. For those of you who are serving God by caring for toddlers or the elderly and wonder if your service is small compared to what others are doing, ask yourself this question: “If Jesus walked into my home today, would I:
    1. offer him a drink?
    2. cook a meal for Him?
    3. serve Him a snack?
    4. care for Him if He were sick?
    5. comfort Him if He were discouraged?
    6. wash His laundry and press His shirts?

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

Any service, however menial or insignificant, done with a mind toward’s God is like doing it for Him. This mindset changes you!

Next month on the blog I’ll be referencing a book that will help you study the Bible for yourself:  How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word by Kay Arthur. It’s so important that you learn to study God’s word on your own. I know that sounds cliché, but from what I see, most people rely on second-hand knowledge to learn. They read a passage and then “study” the Bible by pouring over the ideas of Matthew Henry or John MacArthur or John Piper. This is not the same as studying the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good commentary and appreciate all of the wonderful study aids we have at our disposal, but not if they become a crutch so that you don’t have to do the slow, hard, work of studying the Bible for yourself. Anyway, we’ll talk about that more next month.

For now, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned this year? How has God changed you? Share in the comments.

Purpose for the Sidelined Mom

Nobody wants to live a sidelined life, especially young mothers who are full of energy and dreams. We want to make a difference and live with purpose, but frankly, life with little kids feels like being left out of the game all together.

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The rest of the world seems to be tackling life, moving ahead, and making progress, and we are very much stuck in the house. In fact, we haven’t made it out of the house in three days.

Do you ever wonder,

Lord, when am I actually going to do something of meaning for you? When will my life count? I’m home with these kids all day, every day. Everything I do is undone within 24 hours and nothing seems to last. I dreamed of serving others in your name. I long to share your mercy with others. I’m itching to encourage someone with your great love today.

I thought all these things when my kids were young. Especially on the bad days. You know the ones. On those days, I felt like I had missed my boat somewhere, somehow.

Those are exactly the times when my faith was tested. I wondered if God remembered me. Did He hear my prayer? Does He think that I am only qualified to wipe noses and break up toddler fights? (Which can be pretty scary, sometimes.)  I wondered if He realized all the lovely things I wanted to do for Him….if I wasn’t stuck in this house.

And then, one day, in the midst of my pity-party, God pulled back my blinders and showed me that He HAD in fact, answered my prayers. What I called “stuck”, God called “serving Him.” I wanted to go somewhere exciting to serve, but the Lord set up my base of ministry in my home. 

Perhaps you’re discouraged today. You thought that God would lead you to some exciting foreign mission, or to tend the sick in His name, or lead a Bible study, or to mentor women, or to have a ministry of encouraging hurting people, or feeding the poor. You thought you’d have this amazing calling.

From where you sit {looking over the mounds of laundry and your toy strewn living room} life is pretty mundane, and you’re discontent, wondering if this is all there is for you. You fear God’s passed you by somehow and that everyone else is doing the important work.

BUT, what if God has answered your prayer and you just don’t know it yet. Consider this:

What if God’s special mission for you is to be the one to encourage your own husband in your own home? Imagine how wonderful it would be to have him come home to a smile and a hug, a warm meal, and a “you’re important to me” look that lets him know you care?

What if God sent you to cook for those little faces right in front of you?  To give them a cup of cold water, in Jesus name?

What if God put you there to nurse sick kids in kindness in the middle of the night? To dry their tears when they are having nightmares? Someone has to do it.

What if God sent you teach your own children the Bible? Your teaching will impact generations for Christ, including your own grandchildren. That’s a pretty big assignment. Did you talk to your kids about God today? Are you pouring your life into teaching them first? Perhaps you could start there.

What if God sent you to encourage anyone who entered your home with the wonderful message of mercy and forgiveness that you’ve received? Imagine the impact a heart full of gratitude and a mouth that spills forth praise and thanksgiving could make on a discouraged younger mom, mailman, or neighbor?

Perhaps the biggest ministry impact we can have is right here, in these four walls.

Now, I know you’re doing many of these things, because women get things done. But, we all know that we can serve willingly or grudgingly. Sometimes, we’re going through the motions but our joy is all gone.

Let me encourage you to do what you’re doing for Jesus sake, and the joy will return. 

“Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The location of your ministry doesn’t make it big, the Author of your ministry makes it big.

And if you are at home with little ones all day, praise God for such a ministry! Give them your best. Be the best example you can be. Show them how much Jesus loves them by being His hands and feet.

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That perspective changes everything, doesn’t it? :)

This, I can do Lord, for You!

10 Important Lessons Christian Moms Need to Teach Their Kids

Ever get bogged down and completely overwhelmed at the monumental task of parenting? There are thousands of lessons to teach your little one, all lessons you hope will stick! Best scenario, all of your instruction will be internalized one day and become more than just head knowledge; hopefully it becomes wisdom. Parenting is one of the greatest blessings of my life, and also one of my most daunting task. I want to do this thing right. I know God will use my small efforts and bless them. So here are a few of the important lessons we taught our kids when they were young. We didn’t sit them down and lecture them, we just incorporated them into our everyday talk.

That said, here are 10 critical lessons to teach your child.

10 lessons

1. God is God and what He says is “reality.” I don’t care if the whole world is disagreeing with or questioning God. You either place your trust in man or God. I’ll go with God. After all, He made us and knows how to fix us. The created must assume the Creator knows best.

2. “Good works” start at home. Who you are at home is who you are. When you do good to the people of your own home, you are training your character.

3. Selfishness brings misery. It always has. Demanding your own way, promoting your own agenda, walking over people, going over people’s heads, hurting others with a careless tongue all ultimately bring you misery. Sin always has that effect.

4. Faithfulness counts. When you say you’ll do something, be faithful to do it. There’s nothing worse than someone who promises you the world, and then doesn’t come through. Weigh your words. If you have good intentions, but fail to deliver, you are still seen as unfaithful. If you can’t be true to your word, don’t give it.

5. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t tell me what you’re all about, show me. Words, in this twitter-verse, are extremely cheap and meaningless. But someone who lives out what they believe is invaluable.

6. With faithfulness comes responsibility. This is true in all spheres of life. When you are faithful to do little tasks, God will give you bigger responsibility. Want God to expand your ministry? Be faithful to the little things at home first, and watch Him move on your behalf.

7. You can only be useful to Christ when you see yourself as a servant. A will-full, defiant, self-directed, disobedient servant is of no use to anyone. A servant does what the Master bids, and isn’t worried about what jobs He’s doling out to other servant.

8. The humility in your heart directly corresponds to your reliance on Christ. The more dependent, the more humility. The more self-assertive, self-reliant, self-dependent, the more pride.

9. If it isn’t helpful, loving, or kind, don’t say it. Words should edify and build up, not break. Even loving correction is intended to restore, not destroy. Angry people and their words destroy themselves, their own reputation, ministry and friendships. Once you say something, the scars are there forever, so choose your words wisely. People judge you by what you say. Your words reveal your heart condition at that moment, your judgement, your wisdom.

10. Jesus needs to be enough. If Jesus is not enough for you, you’ll try to find fulfillment in people, positions or projects. You’ll spend your life filling the void seeking entertainment, recognition, respect, power, status, youthfulness, a certain image, thrills, in thing etc. In short, you’ll never be happy or content.

“Jacob’s wife Rachel was never a very happy person. She wasn’t a very productive woman either. She spent the majority of her life seeking the things she wanted at any cost and at the expense of other people. God never satisfied Rachel, which is precisely why nothing else satisfied her either.” Lydia Brownback

What would you add? What life lessons would you advise young mothers to make sure they teach their kids?

A Little Secret for Moms

The beautiful Gerber baby!

This is a post dedicated to mothers of young children–babies and toddlers, to be precise.

I have a little secret to tell you…

Being a mother is hard. It is the hardest job you will ever do.

Babies don’t come with manuals. Sometimes the “maternal instinct” that you hear about is slow to kick in.

Sometimes you can’t differentiate between their cries. Sometimes breastfeeding is a nightmare. Sometimes you can’t get them to nap, to try new foods, to stop taking tantrums, to stop hitting or pulling hair, or to potty train. The list could go on!

It is easy to enter despair mode.

Here are five suggestions to keep you from loosing your mind:

1. Keep your eyes open for a Mom who is doing it right in your opinion and ask for help! Most older mothers are happy to empathize with and encourage a younger mom who wants to do things “right”, but lacks the self confidence or know– how. The time spent with another mom can only encourage you and sharpen your parenting skills!
2. Evaluate your goals. Your kids will not be perfect! Children are not “self-parenting” and this is why God gave kids parents. :)

Kids will throw tantrums and will need your intervention. Kids will bite and pull hair and need to be told “No!”  It is easy to think “We just went over that!! Why isn’t this kid getting this?’”

Instead, think “Assembly Line Parenting”, and expect to do the same thing over.and.over.and.over again in order to cement principles and teach. :)

3. Do not live for your child. Your child is a wonderful addition to your world, but should never be the epicenter of it. Make time out with friends, and plan for dates with Dad. If you can’t get out, nap time should be your time of solitude. Time alone with your thoughts in quietness is essential to evaluate where you are going and how you will get there.

4. Don’t neglect your Bible reading and prayer time. Even if it is ever so short, something is better than nothing. Can you spare three to five minutes? Get a devotional for busy mothers and take care of your soul.
5. Don’t seek security in methods. Each child is so different. Be consistent, seek God’s word and humbly ask for help!  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” “If any of you lack wisdom, let Him ask of God, who giveth liberally…”  God will give you the grace to do the job He has called you to do!!

Older mothers, what advice would you add to this list?

Mothering for the Kingdom

Peter was teaching on witnessing to our teen group. He mentioned that someday we will be accountable to have witnessed to those who are closest to us. God puts us in a circle of influence and He wants us to be witnesses there first. Door to door witnessing is okay, but in the scheme of eternity, we are responsible first for those we have relationships with- that we actually know and rub shoulders with on a daily basis.

Fast forward :  As I am driving along in silence, where I do some of my best thinking, my mind races and thoughts formulate and I realize yet again that the same concept is true of Motherhood.

I am most responsible for those in my direct circle of influence: My kids and husband. My home.


Nobody else can feed my family three meals a day. I am responsible for that job. The Lord sees whether  I do it for Him or not.

Nobody else can care for my home and guard it against ungodly influences. My job again. Again, the Lord sees all.

Nobody else will answer for the things that MY kids were taught. That is my job.

The list could go on and on.

While my kids are young and in my care, this needs to be my first priority. And it is soooo hard. We think  it’s not important, because all around the messages are the exact opposite.

I am told that in order to be fulfilled, I need to buy certain clothes, cars, and live in a suburban part of the city. And in order to do all of those things, you need money…lots of it.

Last time I checked the front of Glamour Magazine, I am pretty sure the cover was not about being a house wife.

Nobody appears on Oprah to tell how they scrimped and saved on groceries so that they could stay home and wash sticky hands. again. and. again.

Changing diapers and cutting up food into bit sized pieces just doesn’t make the big screen. It isn’t glamourous enough.

So, in this area I need God’s grace yet again, in order to renew my mind. To think the thoughts He thinks. To agree with His estimation.

He tells me to keep my home. To teach my children. To love my husband. To entertain- even strangers. And to do it for Him and so that the gospel will look attractive.

Someday, God will reward me, and other moms who “Mothered for the Kingdom.” Even if this whole world thinks I am a failure, isn’t it nice to know that God sees and rewards in the end?