A Fruit-Bearing Formula for Moms [day 15: remain]

Motherhood is soul-wrenching and energy-draining, but it is simultaneously joy-inspiring and life-giving. We moms dream big dreams for our children, and we want them to have all the best things of the world and none of the hurt. We want them to invite Christ into their life the moment they reach any semblance of maturity. We feel so much pressure to be perfect. At the heart of it all is one thing — for me anyways. We want our work to matter. Not because we want to be appreciated or respected — though that might be nice! — but that we want the seeds we sow to take deep root in our children’s lives. We want all our mistakes to fall away, covered by the blood of Jesus. But we want those stinking seeds we put everything we had into planting to do something!

Sleepless nights, stomachs tied up in knots, and tears shed behind locked bathroom doors. Dealing with developing children is heart work and heart work is hard work. We want to train our children “in the way they should go” so when they grow up they will continue in that way (Proverbs 22:6). We till the ground and we plant seeds. God gives the increase, bearing fruit in our children’s lives. We want to see it remain.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16-17).

The formula for achieving this desirable result is presented in the rest of the chapter, and it is surprisingly simple. 

1. Abide in the love of Christ
2. Love others
3. Ask for fruit according to His will

 

Abide

We delight ourselves in Christ, and He gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) The desires of our heart are not the fruit, however. The desires of our heart are the big dreams He changes to match His own. We begin to dream according to His will. We begin to beg that the Lord would do the heart work and relieve us from the pressure of perfect performance. Dependent on Him, we draw closer to Him. Sure of our standing with Him, we are free to love our children with mama bear abandon.

Love

I love this article which points out that our children are our neighbors. We are to be kind and loving even when our children fall short of our expectations of them. Even when their dreams are small and short-sighted in comparison to what we believe the Lord would want for them. We are to love them like Jesus loves them — sin, snot and all.

Ask

Abiding in Christ, desires aligned with His, we beg for the fruit only He can bring forth in our children’s lives. He wants to accomplish good work in their hearts. He wishes that our heart work would remain. He desires to grant us the desires of our hearts. Ultimately, He will work His will for our good and His glory though it may not match our picturesque plan or fantastical fantasy. We can be sure His ways are true though this may be beyond our comprehension this side of heaven.

Remain

In this heart work, we can remember that we moms are truly never alone. Our Father is there on the sleepless nights, when our stomachs are tied up, and when we lock ourselves in the bathroom. He has promised to never leave or forsake us even in these soul-wrenching, life-draining days. So, we celebrate small. We hang on to those joy-inspiring, life-giving moments, and we cling to Jesus. Because, not only will He give us fruit that remains, but He will also sustain us for the heart work of raising children so we also may remain. These precious children need us.

What do you think of this formula?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Tales of A Trying Mom [day 14: try]

“I’m trying my best, you guys! Give mommy a break!” I’m not so proud to say I’ve uttered these words in sheer exasperation at my kids who were more than likely begging for their third snack before 8 a.m. at the time. I think I get more exercise running around the house in the morning than I do in my 20-minute cardio bursts!

At my best, I’m just trying to be a good mom — my definition of which changes daily, setting a standard I can never catch up with. At my worst, I am just trying to make it to bedtime when I can catch my breath and turn something on the TV I can actually wrap my head around. It is exhausting evaluating my efforts. What would be “good enough?”

I feel the pressure of big dreams for my kids. It is compounded by news articles stating preferable bedtimes and screentime limits lest my children’s brains melt — or worse! On top of just keeping them clothed and attitudes in check, I have to worry about whether they snatched something out of the cupboard containing high-fructose corn syrup. At every perceived failure I think, “I’m a bad mom.”

Is that true? Is it lovely and good? Is it something profitable for me to dwell upon (Philippians 4:8)? Or does it just make me hold up on the couch behind a pillow barrier and throw Cheetos across the room to my kids while I wallow in my inadequacy? Thinking I’m a bad mom does not make me a better mom. Shame is a lousy agent of change.

When I celebrate small, I see myself for what I am — a trying mom. I’m flawed and imperfect, but I am endued with power from on High. I have the Holy Spirit living and working inside of me, and I am wholly loved and accepted just as I am. When I celebrate small, I praise God for His mercy when I try and fail, and I praise Him for His grace to allow me to see any fruit from my labor. I am grateful for the desire He puts within me to glorify God in motherhood and to train my children to love and live for Him.

When I truly drop the ball, I first go to my heavenly Father for forgiveness and then to my children. I’ll tell them how I love them and dream the biggest dreams for them. I’ll point out God’s kindness to me in allowing me to be their mother despite all my imperfections. And I’ll assure them we can confidently put our trust in Jesus because He never will fail us. I’ll look into their wet eyes which are probably royally confused at this point and tell them I will never be a perfect mom, but I will always be a trying mom. As long as I’m trying to point them to Jesus and magnify Him in my life, that will be good enough.

Does your evaluation of your role as a mother need to change?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

How I Invite Him in for the Good of my Kids [day 13: invite]

Five Minute Friday: INVITE

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I have befriended a woman in my neighborhood who has a daughter just a year older than Jo. Naturally, I want to get together with my friend so I bring her along to spend time with her “friend”– I use the term loosely in this case. The problem is, for whatever reason, she just has little to no interest in being friends with this little lady. She’s sweet as can be but they just haven’t hit it off. We keep getting together, and every time the girls giggle a little more and sit a little closer. We are getting there.

In some ways, I want to force my daughter into a relationship with Jesus, too. I want so badly for her to trust Christ and surrender her life to Him. But she’s still young and lacking understanding. I can’t invite Jesus into her heart — that’s something only she can do — but I can invite Him into our lives. I invite him to our table where we break bread and talk about our days. I can invite him on our walks when the words of our hearts seem to flow out more naturally. I invite Him to the foot of the bed where we read books and pray in His name each night before bed. I invite Him into crinkled covers when she slides next to me in the morning as I read my Bible.

I can’t make her know Him, but I can help her know about Him. As I invite Him into our daily lives, I give her opportunity to crack open the door of her heart just a little bit more. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for each opportunity He gives to talk about His goodness, to lean on Him as a family during hardship, and to thank Him for the big and little ways He shows up in our days.

I trust that a relationship that arises naturally out of a true appreciation of who He is and what He has done for her will be real and rooted. Truly, it is not something a mother can force on a child. I’m still going to keep trying in the case of our neighborhood friend though.

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How can you invite Jesus into your daily life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

The Hardest and Best Words a Mom Can Say [day 12: write]

I would be lying if I said that I’ve kept up with memories and scrapbooks as my kids have gotten older. I didn’t finish the baby book I started with my first and didn’t even pretend to try after my second was born. I did, however, scrape some Shutterfly coupons and a bit of cash together to make photo books for both the birth-weeks and the first months of my babies’ lives. In these books, I spilled love over the pages to my children. Photos of an exhausted, swollen post-birth mommy are scattered throughout. I cringe at the sight of them, but I hope when my babies sit with these photos they just see the joy on my face to finally hold my precious babies.

On the last pages of these photo books, I wrote letters to them. They were overly lofty and sentimental, but I couldn’t help but dream big for the tiny bundles I held in my arms. There’s something about a newborn baby that inspires hope in the hearts of all that are privileged to look upon. As I gazed into their eyes and breathed in that non-duplicatable newborn smell, I prayed over them. I asked God to help me be the mom they needed and to allow them to do big things for Him. I even asked Him to start preparing a mate for them to serve the Lord alongside — crazy I know! I wrote these prayers into their photo books, and I’ve read them aloud many times since.

I love reading these over again just to remind myself to hope and dream and beg God to use their lives for His glory. I love watching their little faces light up, delighted that mommy’s heart overflowed in words this way when they were waking me up all hours of the night. It’s good for me to remember that my dreams for them had nothing to do with the ease of potty training or straight A report cards or proficiency in sports or art. It had everything to do with teaching them to love Jesus and surrender their lives to Him.

But first– mommy has to surrender their lives to Him. That is the hard part. But why should it be? He is nothing if He is not trustworthy. And I trust Him with every other area of my life. It’s just too much pressure; I want them to turn out great! I want them to achieve my dreams for them — and that’s where I go wrong. My dreams.  I would never say, “My will be done” with my lips, but what does my life say to Him? What does it say to Him when I lie awake at night wondering how I can fix the things that are hurting them? Or when I want to keep them at home and away from the things that are confusing about life in a foreign country? It says, “My will be done.”

I’m mom, and I love these kids fiercely, but they are not mine. They were graciously gifted to me by a loving Father. They are mine for a time, and I am painfully aware that that time is fleeting and my influence is limited. When I celebrate small, I see surrender as the starting line. I know He dreams bigger and better dreams for my children than I ever could. He knows them better than I ever will and works from the inside out to accomplish His will in their lives. If I truly want them to be fully His, I must fully surrender them as mine. I have to place them into His hands, trusting that His will supersedes my best-laid plans. With open hands that ache at the letting go, I allow Him to take the lead in their lives. I say, “Thy will be done.”

 

Do you need to surrender your children to the Lord?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

4 Things to Remember in the Trenches of Motherhood [Day 11: remember]

My mother-in-law keeps a small notebook with her around the holidays to help her remember what she needs to pick up and for whom. She’s got 4 kids and 6 grandbabies in 4 countries — it’s complicated! She calls this pad of paper her “brain.” Since I am maybe the most forgetful person I know, I’ve been pondering my need to keep a small notebook with me at all times for all purposes. It’s the mom life, I suppose. Kids just do something to our brains. I keep seeing that ad for what babies do to a mom’s muscles resembling a smashed egg. They do that and more to our mental capacity — it’s cracked, scrambled, and fried!

My big dreams become a blur in the distance as my mind becomes tired and taxed by the chaos each day can bring. There is always a laundry list of things to remember and more things to do — yet they never seem to get done. Kids in the mix seem to further complicate matters me from getting done x, y, or z I think needs to be accomplished today or the world will stop spinning. Then they bring sickness, learning issues, general misbehavior, and at least 14 lbs of legos and dump them into my lap. Overwhelm isn’t even a strong enough word for these moments. Sometimes, childhood can seem like a pit we’ll never climb out of — but that’s not true. We are always on the up and up, inching towards adulthood and more independence for all. In these little years — which we not so lovingly refer to as the trenches at times — there are a few things we moms need to remember.

Remember Who Gave Them to You

God made you their mama. YOU. He knows what your weaknesses are. He wants you to depend on Him as you seek to glorify Him in motherhood. He desires that you would purposefully praise out of a place of peace only He provides. None of our junk scares or surprises Him. When we acknowledge our weaknesses and fall upon His grace, we give Him room to work miracles in the everyday messes of life with kids. God knows I put my phone in the fridge the other day, and He still trusts me with children. That in and of itself is a miracle!

Remember What You Love about Them

It’s not snot and temper tantrums, that’s for sure. Go back to that hospital bed where you marveled at their eyelashes and the peculiar way their toes curled. Take out your summer snapshots of tangled hair over wild eyes and the soundtrack of the laugh you’d stand on your head to hear when they were small. It’s all still there. It may be covered by the snot and tantrums, but it’s there. Squish, tickle, play and pray it out again.

Remember Who Loves them More

It has always comforted me to think that God loves my babies more than I do because it seems almost impossible. But God has a way of making the impossible possible, and I know it rings no more true than in the case of His care for my children. When my worries finally fall away and I drift into a state of slumber, He watches them. When they board the bus that delivers them to school, He goes with them. And when I can’t see into their heart to glimpse the root of behavior, he does. PS, mama — he sees your heart, too, and He loves you more than you’ll ever know.

Remember to Celebrate Small

There are a million moments between milestones. We can dismiss them as nothing more than ways to pass the time or we can see them as opportunities to invest in the lives our children. We can nudge them towards the Savior and watch with joyous anticipation of the day He swoops them right up into His arms. Each day, we can praise Him for the softening of their hearts and increase in understanding. They’re becoming who they will be today — even amidst snot and tantrums (I’m told they grow out of that). They are learning, they are growing, and they are giving us thousands of reasons to praise their Maker if we choose to celebrate small — snot and all.

What do you need to remember most as your raise your children?

Talk to me in the comment section below!