Mom guilt is a real thing y'all. Probably every Mom has suffered from it for at least a minute or two. A lot of us struggle with it a lot more than that and it often goes deeper than guilt.
We have a deep fear of failure in the whole motherhood thing. With Pinterest perfect Moms and #momsofig all around us, at all times, it's hard to escape this fear of failing. We're all pretty sure that everybody else has it together better than we do and we're just hot mess express, failing our kids, our family, our friends, ourselves, and God.
And we say a lot of things to and about ourselves that are actually lies straight from Satan.
Yes, I'm serious. Just listen in on this conversation that we've all had with ourselves.
We say: "I'm afraid I'll just mess up my kids."
"I don't know how to raise Christian kids."
"I am scared to teach my children about Jesus, because I'm afraid I'll get it wrong."
"How will I manage the teen years? I'm not cut out for this!"
God has the final word and He says: "He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young." -Isaiah 40:11
God knows you. He knows you're frail and flighty and unsure. He knows you have a tendency to follow others instead of Him. He knows this tendency sometimes paralyzes you, because you're so afraid you'll head the wrong way. He knows this about you because He is the Good Shepherd and He has made it His job to care for you. He is here to lead you in the right path and to guide you to the safe places. He is here to show you how to parent.
Tune into His heart and you'll hear Him saying "go this way. This is the path I have chosen for you. This is how to handle this situation with your child."
And do you know what else? He promises to take care of your child too. God is so much bigger than you, and your mistakes don't stop Him from working in your child's life. God is the only One Who can redeem your child, so take that load off your shoulders and give it to Him. And then simply follow where He leads you in your parenting, even if it's away from the crowd. Behind the Good Shepherd - this is your safe spot as a Mom.
It's time to stop focusing on what we're scared or incapable of, and start celebrating what God can do.
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There are so many lies that we as moms buy into and repeat to ourselves. They often sound legit, and maybe even humble or holy! But these lies are holding us back from living the lives that Jesus has called us to, and it's time to shine the spotlight on them, repent of them and start walking in the truth!
I'm excited to introduce the #wesayHesays series, in which we will examine many things we say to or about ourselves and then face them with the truth from God's Word. So, let's get started on the path to freedom!
We say: "I am too exhausted to be a good mom."
"Parenting wears me out. I need a vacation from my kids."
"I'm always running on empty. I just have nothing left to give."
God says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
God also promises to renew our strength and lift us up, up above our day-to-day struggles, causing us to soar with the effortless ease and energy of an eagle. (Isaiah 40)
Tiredness effects the body but exhaustion reaches into our heart. It is normal to be tired, because moms have a never ending cycle of work to do. But we do not need to give into exhaustion. This is not God's best for us. After all, He tells us to bring Him our weariness and promises to exchange it for His rest.
It is not God's design for moms to live in a constant state of exhaustion, unable to care for our families properly and running completely on fumes and cold coffee. We do not need to give into this lifestyle.
The key to leaving exhaustion behind is to come to Jesus. Sit with Him. Tell him about your weariness and show Him your to-do list, the expectations you put on yourself and the things others think you should be doing. I'm not saying you shouldn't take the time to take care of yourself in a reasonable way. Get the sleep you can, eat well, don't do all the things, etc. But self-care for an exhausted heart goes way beyond that.
Put your planner and pens in the hands of Jesus and let Him rewrite it, cross things out and make Himself your daily focus. Bask in His presence, ask for His guidance and then walk in it. You will find yourself refreshed and restful. When this lifestyle becomes a habit, you will find that your exhaustion has been replaced with a heart at rest. Your body may still feel tired, but your heart will live energized.
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Every so often, a certain status seems to trend on facebook, particularly from the accounts of pro-life Christians.
"If you're pregnant and don't want your baby, I'll adopt it," many of us proclaim, hoping that, by some miracle, a pregnant woman somewhere will stork-drop her baby in our arms.
If you have ever shared this, I'm not writing this to make you feel like an awful person, because I'm sure you're not and I completely understand your heart behind this status. But I do want to gently challenge you on this mindset, so I'm going to pull this phrase apart and look at it from a different perspective.
The very first words of this sentence make an assumption, and lumps all women considering an abortion into one stereotype.
"If you don't want your baby..."
What if she does want her baby, but she also wants...
her boyfriend to stay with her,
to finish school and follow a life-long dream.
to just go back to life like it was before she saw those two pink lines?
What if she knows her parents would kick her out of their home, if they found out she was pregnant? What if she knows the church would take away her ministry position? What if she wants her baby very, very much, but is absolutely terrified of a hundred repercussions we've never even thought about?
If you're willing to adopt her baby, are you also willing to stand with her as she tells the baby's daddy she will choose life, even if it means he leaves her and she will face life as a single Mom? Will you be there when she faces criticism from her family, her friends, even her church?
Choosing life is always worth it, but it may seem impossible to a scared and lonely young girl. We need to choose to honor her, so she can choose to honor the life of her baby.
What about when she's going through week after week of morning sickness? Getting up every morning to go to school or work, but spending 15 minutes dry-heaving by the toilet because she's too sick to eat anything to throw up. Would you be willing to invite her into your home so you can be there for her in these moments?
Or what about when she feels her baby kick for the first time and breaks into agonizing sobs because a thrill of love courses through her body and she knows she can't keep this precious little life that only she can feel.
Or what if she decides, in that moment, that she will do whatever it takes to raise her baby - will you still love her and support her through her pregnancy? Will you still support her financially? Would you love her so much that you'd throw her a baby shower and help her get a job and a home? Are you willing to put yourself and your feelings on the back burner, so a family can stay together? Or is it a secretly all about getting a baby?
I say this without any condemnation, because I've been there. I have prayed fervently that a Mommy would sign the papers that would make her daughter ours. But I know that Jesus calls us to a higher path.
A path of pure love, with no room for selfishness.
Will you be there for her when she's screaming through contractions and weeping in between them, because delivery means the end of her physical journey of motherhood? Will you sit with her through the next couple days, while her postpartum hormones rage, her milk comes in with no baby to nurse and she wavers between choosing you to parent her child and parenting her baby herself?
Choosing adoption is one of the biggest decision a mommy will ever make, and she has to do it when she is scared and facing the unknown, while her hormones are wreaking havoc on her emotions and even her ability to make clear decisions.
She needs love, support and a friend to walk beside her every step of the way, no matter what her final decision may be. And if she chooses you to adopt her child, she is part of your family for the rest of your life. How this looks will be different in every situation, but you are bound to love her and respect her, always, no matter if you continue to have physical contact with her or not.
What we need to be saying is,
"If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, I'm here for you, in whatever way possible. Message me - you will be safe with me."
And then we need to put a precious expectant Mommy first. Ahead of our own feelings and our desire for a romantic adoption story.
It is not always possible to be this hands-on in loving an expectant Mommy who chooses you to adopt her child, and I'm not saying that you're not fit to adopt if you don't ask an expectant mom to move in with you. What I'm saying is, adoption is about so much more than getting a baby. And we need to be willing to open our hearts and homes in whatever way Jesus calls us to. And always, always be willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And to love others like He does.
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It had been a rough morning. My emotions were raging and the kids found many things were not to their liking as we progressed through the day. Tempers flared and words were tight, clipped and harsh.
Something needed to give.
I picked up my two-year-old and sat down on my piano bench, cuddling her on my lap as I played Jesus Loves Me. Her favorite song. Pretty soon she was lisping the words along with piano keys. My oldest came down the steps, singing her heart out. Pretty soon my middle child joined her, their voices blending in beautiful, discordant notes.
"Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so."
And I knew it was true.
I may not be a concert pianist like I once dreamed I would be, but my audience of three was more precious to me than any grand hall full of people ever could have been.
God gave me a gift when He gave me a heart for music. Every time He beckoned me to praise Him with my piano, He was giving me something precious.
The ability to minister to my own children.
You see, mommy, God has filled our beings with many gifts, to be used for a glorious purpose. Not gifts meant to be displayed to the world or bring us renown. He gave us the gifts we need to calm our children's hearts, the gifts we need to speak life to them, to show them delight, art and beauty in the world.
Think for a moment. What is something that you love to do - something that you feel you're good at?
The world would tell you to take that talent and use it to earn yourself fame and popularity. We buy into that mindset so quickly, and use our gifts and talents to build businesses, social media followings or even simple popularity among our peers.
I know this because I've done it, more times that I care to think of.
I can tell you right now that it leads to competition and discontent.
What if we used our gifts and talents to minister rather than gain?
To minister first of all to our family, behind closed doors, away from social media and unseen by our peers.
What if we used our creativity to bring delight to the lonely and less-than-popular crowd.
What if we used our gifts and talents like Jesus did?
Without personal agenda.
For the good of others.
Particularly for our husbands and children.
I think (know) we would find a rest and a peace in that like we didn't know could be found. When we use our gifts to bless the lowliest around us, we will be using them in the way God intended us to use them.
After all, Jesus tells us that "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me." (Matthew 25:40 NIV)
We can know that when we use our talents to entertain, delight and minister to our children, Jesus is also in our audience, delighted to see us using the gifts He has given.
Will He lead you to bigger audiences? Possibly. But as we surrender our gifts to His will, we will find that the striving and the hustle cease and we can rest in the simple beauty of creativity.
A gift from our Creator.
And those closest to us will be pointed to Jesus through that gift.
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It’s easy to skim over 1 Corinthians 13 because we have heard it so many times. We read it on signs and mugs and hear it preached over the pulpit. Sometimes, I like to think of what it would sound like if Paul were speaking directly to moms sitting in my living room. Not because Scripture ever gets stale and needs to be rewritten, but because sometimes my attitude needs an adjustment. And so if I were face to face with Paul, and he had time to expound a little, I think 1 Corinthians 13 might have sounded a little bit like this:
Even if I have been divinely gifted to speak every language known to mankind so that I might preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation, but don’t have love, I might as well be screaming “bla bla bla” into everyone’s ear while pounding on a drum. And even if God gifted me with the ability to speak the language of heavenly beings, so that I could praise Him with the same words as those who surround His throne, but I have no love in my heart or loving actions for the people He has placed in my life, I might as well be jamming out with my headphones and a loud set of cymbals. It would mean absolutely nothing to anyone around me.
God could give me the ability to tell the world what the future holds. He could gift me with wisdom and knowledge beyond my years so that thousands would line up to hear me speak, but if I don’t love my family with His perfect love, I might as well be the most unknown person in the world. Because my work counts for nothing if it is not done in love.
If I have the greatest faith ever seen, so that I can literally move Mount Everest into any ocean I choose, but do not have divine love, I am absolutely nothing. I could give every one of my possessions away and even offer up my life for another and yet, if I do it out of a selfish drive for a good reputation, and not because of the love of Jesus, it will not do me one bit of good. After all, it was love that beckoned Jesus to the cross, not a search for popularity.
True love, the love Jesus pours into a mother’s heart, will patiently serve throughout long hours that turn into days, weeks, months and years, completely unnoticed and unseen by anyone the world thinks important. God’s love is kind, even when the days are long and nothing goes right. God’s love enables me to speak gently to my child when I’d rather scream at what they just did. Love does not long for the things that others have because it has learned to be content in the sweet gifts God has already given. Love brings contentment.
God-given love does not put itself on parade. It doesn’t parent for the good opinion of those who may be watching, but rather for the glory of God and the good of our children, even in the most difficult and trying of moments. Love from God does not seek glory from others so that it can exult in itself.
True love is polite and considerate of those around it, including children. It teaches children how to treat others through example rather than by repeating the same words over and over again. True love in a mother’s heart will cause her to seek the good of her family above her own comforts. It means saying “no” to excessive self-care and “me-time.”
A heart of love will give patience to a mom right in the middle of severe provocation, like when your child pitches a fit at Wal-Mart or spills your morning coffee on your lap before you’ve had one sip. A mind that is controlled by Divine Love will not jump to evil conclusions and will always look for the best in every family member and friend.
You may have been wounded, but if you give yourself over to Jesus and accept His love, you will never rejoice to see bad things happen to those who have hurt you or made your life miserable. Truth is what will make you happy, and as you are filled with love, you will be able to see truth clearly in all situations.
A love-filled heart willingly bears the burdens of life, knowing each one was handpicked by the Creator of Love itself. A mom who has a heart of love has hope because she knows that as much as she loves her child, Jesus loves him more and that hope makes all things possible. She will endure heartache, ridicule and postponements to her most cherished longings because she trusts in the perfect love of her Savior.
Love can never ever fail. It will always triumph, no matter the circumstances. I may prophecy or speak many languages, even celestial ones, but one day that will end. I may be full of knowledge and even wisdom, but one day it too will vanish, like clouds after a storm. Our knowledge and our prophecies will never be perfect because we are only human, but perfect love will last forever, even after knowledge and prophesying are gone and the world is no more.
There was a time when, as a child, I said, did and thought childish things. My understanding was incomplete, and I didn’t even know it. But as I grew older and more mature, I began to see and understand life and reality more completely and clearly. And my spiritual life is no different. I feel like I know so much more than I did about following Jesus and using my gifts for His glory, but the growth of a spiritual heart never stops. I actually know only a small part of what there is to know, no matter what spiritual gifts God has given me. But a day is coming when I shall see everything clearly, and then I will know myself as Jesus, the One who created me, knows me now. Then I will understand exactly why He gave me the gifts He did.
Until then, I know that faith, hope and love will last forever, and I should earnestly pursue all three, but above all, I should desire perfect love.
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I am on a journey to know Jesus better, and be the wife, mommy and friend that God created me to be, all within the walls of my own little home. <3