Self control-Audra's pick
This one Fruit of the Spirit can apply to so many of life’s circumstances. Whether deciding to eat “too much” candy or not, or whether or not to hit your sister, this character trait is useful. It doesn’t come easy in any situation. Not for mom, dad, or child. But, the more you apply it, the better you will be at learning to exhibit other traits as well.
Self -Discipline & Patience - Laura's pick
It's quite funny that these are the two characteristic traits that we focus on with our two children, because these are the hardest for me, their mom!
Macy - Self Discipline: She is ten years old and strives to do her best at whatever she tries. Many things have come rather easy for her and because of that, she thinks she should be able to pick up anything new and be the best. She gets completely frustrated when it doesn't happen. We are having to teach her that she has to create self-discipline in all areas of life, but when she really wants to excel in something, she must do the things required to get to that point.
Jude - Patience: He will be four in August, so I realize that not having patience comes with his age too, but there are ways he can be learning even now! We are teaching him that it's not all about him! He tends to turn on his whiny voice and a few tears when he doesn't get his way. Well, when that happens, he is learning that he really won't get what he wants. He has to ask us without tears or whining. Sometimes we will send him to his room until he can come back and ask us in the right way. He will walk into his room and immediately walk right back out and say, "I'm happy now!" and proceed to tell us what he needs! LOL
Kindness - Rebecca's pick
When we considered all the character traits that my husband and I want to consciously grow and develop in our children, there were many that jumped off the page. To narrow our focus, we zoomed in on each child and highlighted the traits that we want to continuously affirm and also the ones we need to focus more diligently on. Each child’s list is completely different! But, one trait that we unanimously agree is a priority in our home is KINDNESS.
Kindness in word and action is highlighted each and every day. We recognize words and acts of kindness with a high-five, a “Well Done,” a hug, or another affirmative gesture. In times where kindness is not shown, we push pause on life and discuss the deeper heart issue that the unkind behavior is revealing.
Faithfulness - Tammy's pick
As the years pass, the character traits we have cultivated in our kiddos have ebbed and flowed, but the one that stands out to me is faithfulness. Why? Because God has been so faithful to me. It stuns me how He hasn't dropped me or turned His back on me because of Jesus's shed blood on the cross. Therefore, despite my wandering heart, I strive to be faithful.
We also encourage this in our children. We have such mottos as: If you start something, finish it. If you said you'd do something, do it. If the going gets hard, press in. Be reliable. Be dependable. Be faithful to God, to yourself, to your tasks, and to others. In an unfaithful world, be faithful.
Christ-likeness- Pastor Kevin Carson
Trait: the desire to be God's kind of boy or girl. The goal is to teach our children their purpose in life is to be like Jesus, which is God's kind of boy or girl. We look for object lessons to use to emphasize both purpose and honoring God.
Two examples: we use a carpenter's pencil to emphasize its creator making the pencil with a specific purpose which is similar to God, and we regularly point their attention to sunsets & sunrises which declare the glory of God. If you look for them, there are many opportunities to help your children embrace God's purpose for life.
As a special treat for Father's Day, we are featuring our second male guest blogger! I have known Kevin Carson my entire life. His father was the pastor of the church (the one with the holy saltines) that I wrote about in my salvation story. I have always thought of Kevin's entire family as salt-of-the-earth type of people - so authentic, so humble, and so Christlike. While I knew him as a kid, he is now a pastor, professor, counselor, author, and speaker. And today, he is writing as a father on a subject that has touched the lives of so many of our readers. May his story fill your burdened heart with great hope.
Today is my sweet baby’s nineteenth birthday. Kayla lived for one short month. We had hoped to enjoy her for our lifetime, but in God’s plan her days were so few in number. Her impact though has far outweighed her days. In some ways it seems like yesterday and like we were kids when we had her; in other ways, it seems like an eternity ago. Although some of the feelings change, the hurt and the loss never go away. Oh to sing to her again just one more time, to hold her, to caress her head, to read to her, to tell her how pretty she is, to say, “I love you.” This many years later, it still makes me cry.
There are so many parents like me and like us. When your child dies, your world changes. Things are never the same again. Something inside of you constitutionally is different. It’s a club no parent wanted to be part of – those who have lost a child. Yes, there’s laughter. Yes, there are good days. Yes, life goes on. But don’t confuse living and going on with life as if there is no pain, no hurt, or no loss.
Then in the midst of life, we remember that the Bible is for life. The Bible teaches that God’s plan for each of Christ’s followers is to change into His image, to become like Christ. Additionally, the Bible itself is for life change. God gives us His Word in order for us to change in the power of the Spirit to become more like Christ. Therefore, the Bible’s verses are to be applied to life’s circumstances.
As a grieving father with my sweet girl’s grieving mother, my challenge is to apply the Bible to our daughter’s death as well. There are many passages I could consider (and maybe someday will), but two specifically stand out to me as I consider 19 years and counting.
Challenging Passage #1: James 1:2
James was written to fellow Christians who were in deep persecution. People are dying. They are running for their lives. They are disappointed Christ has not come back to earth yet like He promised. It is a rough time. In the midst of this incredibly rough time, our Pastor James, Jesus’ brother, writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
What? How in the world are they – how in the world are we – how in the world are you supposed to count it all joy when you undergo trials of every sort? Does he include when your baby dies?
Over the years this verse has challenged me and helped me. In the midst of the simplest trials or in the throes of life’s greatest trials, the truth of this verse does not change. That’s what makes it so challenging.
How is it possible to count it all joy when you go through this kind of trial?
Let me help you first by considering two key words and then pointing to the greater context. The first key word is “count.” Here, Pastor James is using an accounting term. In other words, when you put pencil and paper to this problem, the answer to this real-life math equation is joy. As you consider the overall picture of God’s plan in this, ultimately we recognize that this fits in the positive category of joy.
So then, what’s “joy?” Joy here is a state of being, not an emotion. Joy does not mean that you just paste a smile on and pretend that nothing happened or that everything is ok. Joy is not feeling happy. Here joy refers to a deep-seated contentment in God’s plan even in the midst of pain, heartache, and pressure. It is a thankful trust in God’s character and plan.
The context highlights God’s plan. James writes further, “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4). This trial or tough circumstance, in this case the death of our baby, as we go through the circumstance and its aftermath, is meant to produce spiritual maturity and growth. The trial helps give me pieces of my character that were formerly missing.
This is the reason why the math equation works. You and I can have joy – even in the midst of deep sadness – because we know that God even uses life’s hardest events to help grow our faith, our character, and our spiritual maturity. We trust God and His plan even in the middle of heartache because He will use this for His glory and our good. Joy – this deep-seated contentment – can rule me even when my heart aches and even in the center of this sadness.
Challenging Passage #2: Philippians 4:11
The passage in James leads me to another challenging passage by a different author in Philippians. Paul writes, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11).
How is it possible to be content with the death of a child?
First, it is only possible by the strength Christ provides. Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). It is impossible to be content and to count it joy as you go through this life circumstance without the power of the Christ working in you. We do not have enough strength or ability to be content on our own. We must turn toward Christ and the strength He provides. We must depend upon Him, call out to Him, and desperately turn to Him for help.
Paul continues, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil 4:12). Paul does not deny the realities of suffering. The Bible does not pretend that everything is fine. The text does not say to live in a pretend world. It is even in the midst of deep suffering that we can turn to Christ who allows us to be content with God’s plan.
In the Midst of the Pain
Does this mean that the pain goes away? Do these passages suggest that I put on a happy face and pretend that everything is fine? Do I just pretend for the glory of God?
No. No. No. No.
What these passages do mean is that even in the heart of significant trouble – like our baby dying – we can trust God’s character and plan. In the middle of this circumstance, we can recognize God is using even our hurts, our tears, and heartache for His glory as we grow into Christlikeness. As days turn into years, we learn to focus on God and trust His character even as we visit a gravesite, celebrate birthdays in heaven, and miss all the opportunities of watching a baby grow up into a beautiful young lady.
For sake of space I will not rehearse all the ways that God has grown me through this trial. As today marks another birthday of our sweet little girl, I can say that God continues to grow me. I recognize I’m not the man I was back then. And with sadness I also accept the fact that possibly I would have never grown, never been humble enough, or never have paid attention to aspects of my character that have changed because of her short life and untimely death.
Can I be content in Christ? Can I consider it joy? Yes and yes. Does it mean that this day isn’t filled with hurt, tears, and a true recognition of loss? Oh no. It is. Real loss. Real tears. Real hurt. But as I type through tear-filled eyes, there is still contentment that God knows, God cares, God provides, and God continues to grow me through the trial.
In addition, I also know that the promises of heaven and eternity are sweet promises. We wait in anticipation.
Kevin Carson is the Pastor of the Sonrise Baptist Church in Ozark, Missouri. In addition to his pastoral ministry, he serves as the department chair of biblical counseling at the Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. He also serves as a counselor at Sonrise Biblical Counseling Ministry, is ACBC Certified, IABC Certified, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, author, and is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats and seminars. He and his wife, Kelly, have four children.
You can follow him on Twitter at @pastorkevinc, on Facebook, and his blog.
Eating Tide Pods, leaving class to march for #enough, and gaming into the night are just a few indicators that this current generation is restless. Granted, each generation has its own cauldron of woes, including my own. Ha! But I've been in much thought and prayer for this current generation, the one I birthed my terrific three into.
So what exactly is it to be restless? Is it bad to be restless? One definition for restless is "Anxious and bored." But it also means "not satisfied and wanting change." The difference between "anxious and bored" and "not satisfied and wanting change" boils down to what we believe is the answer to the question, "Why am I here?"
When we believe
- we are here by chance and
- life is all about me
we can easily drift into boredom and anxiety.
Such a mindset causes the answer to "Why am I here?" to vacillate with each passing trend.
But when we believe
- we were created intentionally for this time and place by our Creator.
- God wove a purpose and a plan into our DNA
we are not satisfied with the status quo and want change.
This mindset knows the answer to "Why am I here?" is found in believing Ephesians 2:10.
"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Think with me of the heroes of the faith. We think of them as cute little Sunday school stories, but these were real people just like you and me! They had hopes and dreams as well as fears and doubts. But their actions showed they were confident in their "Why am I here?"
Such examples like:
Noah - While others lived a debauched existence, he skillfully and faithfully built an ark. He knew why he was here.
David - While others quivered and wrung their hands, he charged toward the God-mocking giant, Goliath and defeated him! He knew why he was here.
Daniel - While others gluttonously partook of the king's sumptuous food, he ate fruits and vegetables and was found to be 10x smarter than those around him. He knew why he was here.
Mary - While others whispered and speculated, she washed Jesus's feet with her tears. Jesus's feet! Can you imagine! She knew why she was here.
and the list goes on and on.
They were restless but channeled that restlessness for their good and for the glory of the Lord. Why?
They knew the answer to "Why am I here?" To fulfill their part of God's amazing plan.
We too should be relentlessly restless for God's kingdom and so should our kiddos.
Think of water, it can be life-giving and good when channeled and functional, like a river or a water hose. But when a river breaches its banks or a water hose cracks and busts, chaos erupts. So it is with restlessness.
As believers, restlessness channeled by anything other than God's will is chaos.
But what if Christian parents were as intentional as the #enough movement to inspire an awakening in our kids?
What if we pointed them to THE answer to "Why am I here?"
What if we helped channel our kids restlessness for something bigger than themselves?
The sleeping giant called the church would wake up! Wow! Revival would break out! Yes! I believe anxiety and depression and suicide and school shootings would decrease all because our kids - the light of the world - chose to live securely in knowing the answer to one of life's most troubling questions, "Why am I here?"
Next week, I'll share some of the ways my man and myself are intentionally pointing our kiddos to the answer to "Why am I here?" In the meantime, how about you? Do you know why you are here? Do you wake up satisfied knowing you are here for a reason and a purpose. Look again at Ephesians 2:10. Ask the Lord to increase your faith and to shine the light as to "Why am I here?"
"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Glorious…hard…rewarding…exhausting! The list of adjectives is endless when I think of this adventure called parenting. But mostly, awe rises to the top of my list. I am in awe of the 180 switch the Lord birthed in my mothering. Gone are the days of joyless parenting. In it's place, joy has watered the desert places and created something beautiful - a joy-filled mother. Only God can do that!
As I pondered my transformation, a "tricks of the trade" list began to emerge. There is no rhyme or reason to the order, just tricks that have made this mommying job a whole lot more enjoyable.
1. Playing in my Strengths
It's easy to fall into the comparison game when it comes to talented moms: this one is athletic, this one is artsy, this one can spin a tale, etc. etc. etc. Early on, I learned that I enjoyed motherhood best when I stop trying to be like other moms and embrace my own uniqueness. I love books and games and the great outdoors. So that's the way I'm intentional with my kiddos. When we have downtime, we pull out a game or a puzzle or walk/bike/hike in the great outdoors. Gone is the guilt that I don't play dolls or trucks or ball like other mommies. In its place, contentment has filled my heart knowing that I mommy well just by playing in my strengths.
2. Have Favorites
My “Terrific Three” consist of a girl, a boy, and another girl. Just like God does not have favorites (Romans 2:11), I strive not to either (1 Timothy 5:21). I've assigned labels to my Terrific Three and regularly call them by it. I have a "favorite oldest girl," "a favorite boy," and "a favorite youngest girl." They’re all my favorites in their unique way and don’t need to fight for my favor.
When our kiddos hit the tween years, we knew we needed to keep the airwaves open. We happened to be eating Oreo McFlurries when one of them shared something close to their heart. Born was the code phrase "Oreo McFlurry" for times when our children wanted to share something with us but were fearful of our response or the impending consequence. Now when they approach us and say, “Oreo McFlurry.” we prayerfully brace ourselves (ha) for what they're about to say while calmly listening without.saying.a.word. It’s a safe-zone, and they honestly haven’t abused it.
4. Apologize with No Strings Attached
It is easy to excuse my angry response by pointing to my child's wrong action which prompted my anger. This causes my apology to fall on un-listening ears, especially the older they have become. Instead, I have taught myself to focus on what I did wrong and ask for forgiveness. Not only does this show them that parents can make mistakes, but that it's important to apologize for them!
5. Calm in the Storm
If child A was "on my good side" but child B was not and had gotten into trouble, I caught myself disciplining them differently. I would irrationally lash out or be harsh and impatient with the not "on my good side" child B. I began to purposely visualize how I would lovingly discipline child A if they were the one who had just gotten into trouble. Then, I would pray that the Spirit would help me disciple child B with the same gentle heart. This practice alone was revolutionary for my parenting!
6. Laugh at Yourself
Last summer, we had just finished floating a local river, and I wanted to get one more group picture. As I was gesturing for the group to move over, I was side-stepping on the rocky beach. My toe caught under a rock causing me to trip and in s. l. o. w. motion I splatted on the rocks in full view of everyone! Quite embarrassing and painful! But as I collected myself, I just laughed and laughed at the spectacle I made. This released the group to laugh with me and recount my performance. I could’ve been mad and nursed my pride and ruined a glorious day together. Instead, I chose to laugh and make a fabulously funny family memory.
7. Text and Drive
If I “need” to message someone while I’m driving, I ask my kiddos to serve as my scribe. I dictate my message to them as they type it into my phone. They then read it to me before pushing send. This trick serves three purposes:
1. I’m safe and not looking at my phone as I drive.
2. It teaches them how to communicate effectively and (hopefully) kindly via text messaging.
3. It serves as an example of when they’re -gulp!- driving on their own.
8. From Darkness to Light
One of the hardest prayers I pray for my children is that any sin they are hiding would come to light. It’s quite breath-taking what the Spirit reveals, and they’re always like, “What!? How did you know?!” ha, ha! But I much rather deal with childish heart issues while they’re under my roof than them having to wade through their childhood junk as an adult.
9. Momma Timeout
If I feel my mommy tank quickly depleting itself of joy, I take a momma timeout. I may take a hot bath, take a walk outside, or sit in my room by myself praying and calming down. This trick allows me to rejuvenate and relieves my kiddos from being the recipients of my less than lovely attitude.
10. Bedtime Bonding
Most nights, I choose to sit on each child’s bed and connect. It can be as short as 5 minutes finding out about their favorite thing of the day, or it can stretch into a lengthy discussion about a life issue they're working thru in their heart and mind. We then end our time with prayer and a kiss on the cheek. Hopefully, they are left going to sleep with a heart a little lighter because I chose to invest the gift of time into them. It is always worth the time and effort to give up a bit of "me time" at the end of my day to get a little more of them.
Looking over this list just fills my heart with awe. God has truly filled and continues to fill my parenting gaps. But that shouldn’t surprise me, for He parents me so well as my Heavenly Father, the giver of every good thing. James 1:17
How about you? What are some of your favorite parenting tricks of the trade? Or perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed in this great adventure of parenting. Pray Matthew 7:7 and purpose to implement one or two of my tricks. Trust me, if I can do this mommying thing joyfully anyone can! Through Christ’s power, you can mommy joyfully as well! Philippians 4:13, my friend!
I remember when my first baby was about two weeks old. I had been thrust into this terrifying world of trying desperately to keep a tiny human being alive. I fell into bed at night, exhausted, but I woke up at every slight noise coming from my fragile little charge. I constantly worried that she couldn’t breathe or that she was in some kind of distress that I was too ignorant to recognize. Night and day were all one big blur of feedings and diaper changes and rocking and swaying and bouncing, with no real clue what I was doing.
Yet, even in those days of my body and mind being completely invaded by this pint-sized little soul, I remember I turned to my mother one day, my eyes half closed, my shirt covered in spit up, and said, Being a mother suits me to a T. I honestly felt like I had been wandering through life up until that point, just waiting for God’s big purpose for my life to fall into my lap. I decided it was motherhood.
It’s easy to see how I could think so. After all, the soul-deep love that God puts in a mother’s heart is powerful. It is consuming in a way that we didn’t understand was possible before we were already eaten up with it. It can overshadow a lot of things in life, especially in the early years. Motherhood is hard. It’s all at once beautiful and devastating in a million different ways. It brings things out in us that we didn’t know were there, both good and bad. And, it teaches us so much about God’s love for us.
A few days ago, I was in the dollar store, searching for cool prizes for our Wednesday night program at church. I was alone, as I often am these days, getting lots of things accomplished while all three of my kids were at school. It’s a new phase for me, and I’m still learning how to deal with the quiet. Suddenly, from across the store I heard the happy voice of a baby. He had obviously just learned his first word or two, and his mother was playing peek-a-boo with him. I could hear the sheer delight in his mother’s voice as she said again and again, Where’s mama? Every time she dropped her hands and revealed the sweet face that her baby knows and loves, he squealed, Mama! as if he had just won the world’s greatest prize. And right there in the middle of the toy aisle, surrounded by plastic snakes and miniature harmonicas, I felt my heart bust wide open at those sweet sounds that felt so familiar. I understood the absolute thrill that the young mother was getting in the dollar store on an ordinary Tuesday, when her baby showed in the way that only babies can, that he adores her to no end. And it broke my heart into a million pieces.
That’s not my life anymore.
Those days are gone. I don’t have babies. Adelade has traded in sippy cups for lip gloss. Sawyer, pacifiers for braces. Emerald gave up her blankie for a backpack. If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s how quickly phases of life come and go.
The thing about hindsight is that it tends to gloss over the realities of past experiences. It doesn’t remind you about the long nights sitting up with a sick baby, frantic over a too-high temperature. It doesn’t recall how much time it took you to accomplish anything at all while a little one was clinging to you all day and night. It doesn’t bring up the fact that you felt frustrated over your lack of social life, your lack of sleep, your lack of time with your husband, your lack of personal space. No, that precious hindsight only brings to mind the sweetest moments, the epiphanies about how wonderful motherhood is, the secret, sweet times that only you remember, like peek-a-boo in the dollar store on an otherwise hectic, unproductive weekday. This rosy memory-vision is one reason that grandmothers are so quick to approach a frazzled young mother in the grocery store to tell her to appreciate every moment.
I wanted to go over to speak to the young mother, too. I wanted to say to her, somehow, that I understand the soul-crushing love that she feels for her child. I wanted her to know that the moment she was having there was as familiar to me as the little country road that leads to my childhood home. I wanted to tell her that the thrill of hearing that tiny voice holler Mama will feel just a fresh and real to her twenty years from now. I wanted her to know that she doesn’t have to dread and fear the growing up of her precious little boy because motherhood is NOT the purpose of her life. It is an indescribable blessing. It is the source of endless joy. It is one way that God shows us how much we need Him, and it is one way that we learn to lay our lives down for someone else.
But, what we call motherhood–training and raising and caring for children–is fleeting, just like everything else. It doesn’t last forever, this phase of life. Children grow and they change and you grow and you change, and then they begin a new life out in this great big world. If, as I once believed, motherhood is the reason God made me, then what use am I when this phase of life is over?
It doesn’t mean that our hearts won’t still creak and crack and melt just a little when we remember what we once had. It doesn’t mean that what we’re doing here, in the wilds of motherhood, doesn’t have eternal significance. But, God’s purposes are big. Much bigger than we can imagine. The purpose of our lives is to glorify Him in all that we do, whether we are mothers or not. Whether we are in the thick of chasing toddlers everywhere or simply remembering those days, a little misty-eyed. God’s purposes don’t have dates of expiration. They don’t apply to only one section of our lives. And they certainly aren’t wrapped up solely in the too-short phases of mothering children.
I wanted to tell her all of these things, but I knew it was too much. Instead, I just walked past and smiled at her baby. The sweet young mother watched me, and when our eyes met, I nodded. She nodded back, and then I walked out the door, my hands empty, heart filled with the truth of God’s goodness in all the phases of life.
"No, I don't want children!" I declared to my shocked newlywed husband. Even though I had played with dolls and pretended to be a mommy as a young child, time had drastically changed my wanting a quiver full of children to wanting zilch, zero, none.
Time and counseling (ha) were followed by one, then two babies. Yet, as a new mommy, the days and many nights were painfully long. I lived for nap-time and bedtime just trying to sanely make it thru each day with little ones needing my. every. waking. second.
I loved the title of “Mommy” but I didn’t love being a mommy.
Looking back, I discerned that I had bought into the lies the evil one had whispered into my heart. These lies, while different from Eve’s, were just as deadly:
- children are a hindrance,
- they’ll keep me from climbing the job ladder,
- they’ll steal my life, etc. etc. etc.
These lies were sucking the joy out of my mommying.
I came to a crossroads during my third (surprise!) pregnancy. God showed me I was just surviving rather than thriving as a Momma. I realized it was essential to flush out the lies, and fill myself with the truth. I would have to reinvent myself and there was no better place, then in God’s life-giving Word.
“He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.” Psalm 113:9
“A joyful mother.” Webster’s dictionary defines joyful as: merry, glad, and showing joy. Ha! That didn’t describe me except at bedtime!
I was sleep-walking through one of the most amazing blessings God grants women: motherhood. This sleeper was tired of pushing the snooze button. It was time to wake up!
1. Choose Joyful Motherhood
“Rejoice in the Lord, always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
Even on the hard days, I chose to rejoice (be glad, be well, thrive) in the blessings of motherhood. My children needed me
2. Mimic Joyful Motherhood
Secondly, I looked around at those who were joyfully mothering. Proverbs 31:26 was my criteria, “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Countless women were mommying well. So, I intentionally:
Takeaway: To thrive as a joyful mother, I changed my perception by watching, listening, and mimicking other joyful mothers.
3. Exemplify Joyful Motherhood.
I had to train my brain to fully immerse myself into each season my kiddos walked through.
- Thoroughly Enjoy - I found myself longing for different seasons, therefore I made myself choose to revel in my kiddos current season of life. I reminded myself on the hard days, “The days may be long but the years are truly short. Choose joy, Tammy!”
- Be Thankful - “In everything give thanks” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. I remember crossing the floor from my bedroom to theirs for the tenth time one night, schooling myself, “Be thankful, Tammy. You are blessed to be their momma and to have to walk across this floor for the tenth time to tend to their needs.”
- Be Intentional - “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 This is my appointed time to be a momma. Therefore I told myself, “Be intentional, Tammy. Pour into them while there’s time. Put down your phone, look into their eyes, and just listen. The day is coming when they won’t be under your roof.”
Takeaway: To thrive as a joyful mother, I needed to “pay attention to my thoughts and purposefully focus my mind to lead to a great transformation!” (SOYB p. 67)
4. Champion Joyful Motherhood
Lastly, I now feel the call to champion joyful motherhood. Society bullies us to believe that the best mommies dress their kiddos in the latest trends, put them in the most activities, and take them on the best trips. But that’s just not true!
The world’s mommying standard is always changing, thoroughly exhausting, and a completely unattainable pursuit for mothering.
Rather, our hearts should allow the life-giving beauty of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 31:10-31, & 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 be our mommying standard.
We need to believe:
My 180 = Joyful Motherhood
God, in all His kindness, has transformed me into a joyful mother. Are there hard days? Absolutely! But I now see those hard days as bumps, rather than roadblocks.
I now strive to laugh with and enjoy the little and the big with my kiddos. In a blink of an eye, they will be driving off to the new adventure of adulthood, and all I’ll be left with are fading memories. By faith, may those memories be warm and full of contentment, because I chose to believe that I was given one of the greatest titles this side of glory, Momma, and I lived out that title joyfully.
How about you? If you're blessed with physical children (or grandchildren, or nieces/nephews), would they describe you as joyful? If not, what changes can you make to become more joy filled during this season of life? Who around you exemplifies joyful mothering? If you are joyfully living out this season of life, who can you come alongside and mentor? A sweet momma is out there longing for you to reach out to her and breath life into her. Do it, my friend! You both will be blessed.
“Divide and Conquer”...it’s a phrase I have heard so many people use and I am guilty of using it myself. Here recently though, these three words have really pierced my heart and brought me great conviction.
Divide means to separate or be separated into parts; and Conquer means to overcome and take control.
I mainly hear this phrase used in the context of the home. Multiple kids, multiple activities and Mom and Dad must “divide and conquer” to get everything done. So, we are separating from each other to take control of a situation.
Now hear me out, I know there are times when this has to happen because our family has to do it, too. But I do think that it can be detrimental to a marriage and the home if it becomes the norm.
Most families would say that they want to set their kids up for success in life. So, we look to sports, academics, clubs, etc. We feel if we don’t have them involved from a young age, they won’t be able to keep up and will ultimately not succeed. I am so guilty of this!
You know what the Lord has been showing me? In homes where Mom and Dad are present, if we are not making the Lord priority and if our kids are not seeing us spending time together and putting Christ first, then we are not setting them up for success either. I want our daughter to seek a husband that will love her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). I want our son to seek a wife that is worth far more than rubies, that brings him good and not harm (Proverbs 31: 10-11). I would say we ALL would pray that for our kids. But, are we modeling that in front of them? We have to set the example.
Psalm 127 tells us that a family without God can never experience the spiritual bond God brings to relationships. We must make Him priority and let Him build up our home and our children.
If we are showing our kids that passing each other in the hallway or coming and going through the door is “marriage”, then it's possible that is what they will take into their own marriage. If you read on to Psalm 128 it tell us that God is the true head of the home.
Y’all, it’s hard! Society tells us that we have to pack our calendars and work, work, work to be successful in life. When God’s Word tells us that we need to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30)! Imagine what life would look like if we took time to just be still, enjoy God’s creation and laugh with the people He has entrusted to us! I know we would be happier people, because I am happier when that happens! Just last night we enjoyed a beautiful night at home and there were toys and balls thrown all over the yard...it was the most beautiful sight!
I teach a high school girl's small group and just last week I asked them to tell me a story about a special time they remember with their mom or dad. EVERY story was about one-on-one time spent together. I am convinced that is what this generation craves!
So, how can we put this into practice?
Just to be real and honest, writing this just made me nauseous, because this is a struggle for us. We have an almost seven year age gap between children, so the overlap in activities hasn’t started happening that often yet. We still have our priorities in other ways that we must stick to.
I am learning right along with you all!! But, at the end of the day, I want a thriving marriage and I want our kids to have a front row seat to what only God can do through two imperfect, sinful people. When our kids are grown, I doubt they are going to remember all of the busyness, but I bet they we will remember a home filled with the love of Jesus!
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!