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!

 

 

It Doesn’t Always Feel Natural to Nurture [Day 10: listen]

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mooooom!” This is the soundtrack of my life it seems. I remember when I was young hearing my mom say she wished she could change her name. I never understood that joke until it leaped out of my own mouth. “Just-a-minute” and “go play” seem to always be on my lips. The world pulls my heart away from motherhood and makes me feel like I’m not measuring up to what it means to be a modern woman in a million different ways.

The big dreams of motherhood can certainly feel far away. I often think way down the road to graduations and wedding days, but there are thousands of days between then and now. And right now, there’s an almost 6-year-old who desperately needs to know why you can see the moon this morning.

What I fail to realize when she seems to do nothing but chatter is that she’s listening, too. And she’s watching. She’s learning from me. She’s finding her way in this world, and she needs my help to navigate it all. Though most of it seems of no importance to me, it appears they are life and death to her.

I think we moms tend to forget that this is what we wanted — to be needed and to nurture. Perhaps we just didn’t expect to be on call for these jobs all. the. time. We forget, too, that we were created to do this. Perhaps we can’t see past our inadequacies to sense this may be true.

My daughter doesn’t know I don’t feel completely prepared — she just knows she needs me. She has a million questions, and I’m her most trusted resource. My daughter needs me to help her find her way to graduation and her wedding day. Baby girl is in a hurry, too! Just the other day, she was crying in a taxi asking me why God won’t tell her who she’s going to marry right now. Someone tell this girl she’s only 5!

Yes, this is what I wanted. It’s wrapped up in tears and drama, and maybe I wasn’t expecting that. Even when I wish I wasn’t, I am needed. I am called out of my self to nurture. Though I was created to do this, it doesn’t always feel natural to nurture. It’s in these moments I see my own desperate need for God’s grace in my life. Yes, I was created to do this — but not without help.

I wonder if Timothy’s mom had these days where she wanted to change her name. Did the future preacher ever get under her skin or inspire after-bed-time sobs on her pillow? We don’t get a glimpse into those days because all the Bible tells us is that Timothy was a great, godly man and it was much thanks to his mama and grand-mama and their unfeigned faith.

If it is my prayer to raise world-changers, I have to be present in their worlds today. I listen and lead and, above all, I pray. I give them over to the God who has the power to change them as I do the work on the ground of molding little hearts. To do that, I have to have real faith like Timothy’s mama. I have to believe God is who He says He is and that He will show up in their lives and mine as we figure this whole thing out together. When I realize the significance of this title I’ve taken, I don’t want to change my name anymore.

 

How do you feel about your title today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

8 Ways I Can Safeguard My Marriage [Day 8: safe]

I’m not a doomsday prepper by any stretch of the imagination. I am more of a “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” type of person. It’s something I wish I could be better about, and I was reminded of this just last week. The biggest Hindu festival hit here in Nepal, and even though I knew all the shops would close, I started the weekend with an empty fridge. Facepalm.

It cost me a lot of unnecessary stress wandering around trying to find ingredients I needed for a pot-luck fellowship. I even had to send my husband on a wild-goose-chase in search of anything I could take to preserve my reputation as someone who never showed up empty-handed. Well, guess who showed up empty-handed.

I’m not a doomsday prepper when it comes to fruits and veggies, apparently, but some might say I am a doomsday prepper in my marriage. I want 50 years and a lifetime of memories and ministry behind us one day — I’ve shared this with you already. However, when I celebrate small, I realize today is a gift from God which must be properly stewarded. I see that He is working on this otherwise insignificant day in my marriage, and I am resolved to honor His work by putting in some of my own.

The best way I can honor the gift of marriage the Lord has entrusted to me is to safeguard it in every way I can. Each and every day. I don’t prepare for the doomsday; I pray it never comes. But I am wise to consider how I may protect the most precious relationship in my life (next to that with my heavenly Father).

The Bible teaches that Satan is like a lion looking for a prey to pounce on.  When I lose my focus on celebrating small and honoring God in each day of my marriage, I expose a vulnerable underbelly just impossible to pass up for a ravenous beast. If I forget about these big dreams of ours — the biggest being for my marriage to reflect the love of Christ for His church — I am tantalizing to the Tempter.  My marriage is where Satan can hit me hard, and he knows it.

8 Ways I Can Safeguard My Marriage

I safeguard my marriage when I…

  1. Nurture my own walk with the Lord
  2. Refrain from keeping secrets from my husband
  3. Choose not to pursue friendships with the opposite sex
  4. Speak positively of him privately and publicly
  5. Share my heart with my husband even when –especially when — it is hard
  6. Keep my heart from things that spark a negative attitude towards my husband
  7. Make intimacy a priority in my marriage
  8. Pray for my husband

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:11-13).

I don’t want to find myself empty-handed one day in my marriage. I want to thrive within a life-giving, God-honoring marriage for all the days He gives us to live together. I choose to celebrate small each day, praising God for the work He is doing in all the little ways he does it. I honor it all by making daily decisions to safeguard my marriage.

How do you safeguard your marriage?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

Small Beginnings and Broken Parts [Day 6: story]

Five Minute Friday: STORY

00:00

Our story started small. He would save me three minutes of walking by driving me from the high-school to the elementary school where I would get my ride home. We talked and laughed and tried not to be awkward, but there was always something special between us which grew slowly but steadily. Struggles and temptations threatened the friendship forged through a time of great personal change and growth. Though it all seemed small and even a little silly — I was 15! — it’s actually a testimony of God’s grace in our lives.

In our 8 years of marriage, we’ve had three babies — one who left us much too soon — traveled all over the US and moved across the world together. We’ve had struggles and temptations of different sorts, but God has been faithful. A dear friend reminded me, recently that no one is immune to sin and struggle. Each day of peace and each victory in our marriage comes by God’s grace alone. I praise God that he has re-written a painful story for this particular friend by mending her broken marriage. It is such a powerful reminder to me that God writes our story. When we celebrate small, we praise God for his steady hand in our marriage when trials and temptations rock the boat. We accept our fault when our story takes a turn in the wrong direction, but we beg for and bask in His saving power that doesn’t stop at sinful souls.

05:00 (free- write over but can’t stop now!)

When I can’t even grasp at what He must be up to, I trust that the author of salvation is doing what He does best — acting redemptively on my behalf, saving me from myself as I try to follow and honor Him in my marriage. I reflect on the small beginnings, and I have cause to celebrate — he brought two silly, confused teens through the turmoils of high-school and a long-distance relationship, matured them together in Christ, and set them out in service to Him. Truly, a beautiful story that is just beginning.

I don’t know the story of your marriage. You may be wading through a dull chapter or one you just wish would end already. But I do know that God is at work, and there is good to be read between the lines if only in the character of Christ alone. I pray that He will give you strength to continue walking in the story He has for you, and I ask that He will give you the happily ever after you’ve always dreamed of. It is with a grateful heart I share my story and that of my friend with you now — proof that small beginnings and broken parts can be used for our good and God’s glory. May we praise Him for the whole story.

 

How do you see God’s hand in your small beginnings and broken parts?

Talk to me in the comment section below!