I learned something that blew my mind a little bit, can I share it with you? I’ll have to show my nerdy side a little bit but I think is worth it!
It’s all started with a homeschool podcast on joy. It turns out that word the New Testament used for joy is chara and the word they used for grace is charis. They have the same root. I love languages, but this was news to me! Why does this excite me so?
Because friends, the only place to find joy is at rest inside of God’s grace. In places of grief or happiness, seasons of rest or busy, no matter what we think or feel - joy is possible through it all. It’s not something we determine to have or work at, it’s a natural result of God’s grace in our lives.
The trick is, although God pours out his grace in abundance, we don’t always open our hands to receive it. We know he covers us, but then we go and try to answer 10,000 “moms,” homeschool through a pandemic, conquer mount st(inky) clothes and teach a toddler not to throw his sippy cup all in our own strength.
When I was a child, the holidays were always a difficult time. The brokenness and grief that was present year-round seemed to be magnified. And the older I get, the more loss and trial I see around this time when we’re supposed to be celebrating. (This week I remembered the one year deathiversary of a father, and then lost a baby, our first dog and my grandmother.) But whether you find this post around Christmastime or not, I wanted to share some practical helps to get you through from someone who has been there.
You're up to your ears in laundry and you didn't sleep last night because your toddler had an ear ache. The dishes are piling up and you ran out of dishwasher soap. The dog won't stay away from the chickens and you really don't have time to doctor the sick kitten.
But you long for something more. You feel called to ministry, yet you know you can't fit another thing on your plate. The desire won't go away and you long to feel like you're making a difference in the Kingdom.
You sigh as you cook another meal and think "someday. This season of motherhood isn't made for ministry anyway. God's going to pass me over until the kids are grown and flown."
And, in some ways, you're right. Raising your kids is your most important ministry at the moment. But that doesn't mean you need to lay your other gifts and passions aside. Neither does it mean you need to get a nanny so you can go into full-time ministry.
You blow your temper again and this time you're ready to give up. You can't change. You've read every self-help book and blog you can find, but your temper cannot be changed.
The tears of despair roll down your cheeks, because this is not the kind of mom you want your kids to remember. You feel the hope draining out of your body and, just like many other moms in your shoes, you begin to tell yourself lies.
Do you ever feel done in, exhausted and ready for a retreat?
Jesus's disciples knew how that felt. One time, fairly early in His ministry, He sent them out to all the surrounding cities, telling them to not even take provisions for themselves. They were to preach, heal and cast out demons.
When they came back, their faith was stretched, their eyes were opened to the power of God and they were worn out.
Jesus had compassion on them and took them out in the middle of nowhere so they could rest.
But it was not to be - Jesus could not be hidden and throngs of people followed them. So Jesus preached & healed.
And then all the people were hungry.
Now the Son of God could've asked for manna from Heaven or created a banquet in the wilderness. But He didn't.
He turned to the disciples.
"You feed them," He said.
“Give what you have decided in your heart to give.”
What powerful words from Paul in 2 Corinthians that my husband and I took to heart in our early days of parenting.
We loved being parents and loved pouring into our children as well as their friends. “The more the merrier” was our motto when it came to having our daughters’ friends at our house. We wanted those kids at our house. That way we knew what they are watching, doing, eating, drinking and who they were hanging out with.
It wasn’t a conspiracy or a plot to be the cool parents, but rather a calling that we felt when we became parents. It was like 2 Corinthians 9:7 became our north-star verse: Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And that giving included lots of gatherings.
Pouring our lives into our children and their friends by being Christian witnesses is the most important thing in this world – showing them Jesus; being the hands and feet of Christ.
And so we began that journey years ago. As most young couples, we didn’t have much extra money, so we looked for ways to do fun things that didn’t cost a lot. We wanted to be the gathering house and by being the gathering house, we knew we would have to spend money on snacks and other things.
We found 2 Corinthians 2:6 was a promise that God kept for us. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
We figured out ways to sacrifice spending on other things so that we could use funds to provide a safe place for kids to gather.
When our girls were younger, we would have parties for about any occasion we could think of: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, summer, back-to-school, Halloween and Christmas. Our snacks usually included homemade cut-out cookies and Kool-Aid® drinks. We would play games like drop the clothes pin in a jar, Duck-Duck- Goose or tag in the front yard. We had a swimming pool that was always a summer favorite activity. And we did crafts. So many crafts!
"I'm just a mom." "I just stay at home with the kids." These phrases seem to be programmed into the heart of every mom.
Or, if you're a working mom, you may identify yourself with your chosen profession first, and let the kids tag in after introductions are made.
We have let motherhood become side-lined. It's become a hobby of sorts. We amuse ourselves by dressing them in cute clothes and displaying their creative play on Instagram. But we don't attach very much importance to the title of "mom."
And why should we? They're only going to be with us for 18 years and then we'll be free to pursue our life purpose, right? Right?
Oh we love our kids. We'd give our lives up for them. We make sacrifices to drive them to soccer practice and ballet, and help them with homework in the evenings. But life is busy and full, and we soon start to run on auto-pilot.
A quick kiss on the cheek before they run up to tuck themselves in.
Absent minded answers as we navigate through traffic and calculate how much time we have to get our grocery shopping done after we drop them off at ballet.
Parenting, motherhood, has become the thing we do because it needs to be done.
And you know, motherhood is hard.
Sometimes being a mom is overwhelming.
When they say "a mother's work is never done," they're not making up some kind of joke. We talk a lot about how hard and exhausting motherhood is, and there's so much truth to it.
Moms are tired, because they are super-vigilant.
Moms don't hear very many (unprompted) "Thank you's."
Stay-at-home Moms don't get very much credit from the world.
Some Moms get very little support from friends, family, or even their husbands.
A Mom house is often cluttered with toys, laundry and dishes. Freezer meal boxes might lay out on the counter all day.
Some days it feels like if we don't tune out the chaos and run on auto-pilot, we may have a mental break down.
I get it.
We believe we have a right to be tired. A right for a break. A right to scream for our own space. A reason to elevate temporal things above our children.
But mama friend, hear this:
When we put more importance on the work of the world than on the holy calling of motherhood, we have been deceived.
Motherhood is not a job we have been given to gratify ourselves or impress others. We are not moms so we can be our children's personal slaves. We haven't even been called to motherhood solely to point our children to Jesus.
We've been called to motherhood because it is the best place we can glorify Jesus.
He choose this place of motherhood for you before the foundations of the earth were laid. He has known you and your children by name since the beginning of time.
He tells us, "If you give a cup of cold water in My name, you are doing it for Me." (Matthew 10:42)
How many sippies do you fill a day? How many water jugs do you lug to the soccer field? Each one is a gift to Jesus.
We are serving Jesus every minute we care for our children. You can't get a more important job than that! And suddenly we feel our perspective shifting.
I would dare to say that even as we wash little toddler hands or rub lotion on soft baby skin, we are committing an act as holy as Mary, when she anointed our Savior's feet with oil and washed them with her tears.
This is our sacred job. Raising our kids is not a job, but a holy calling. A special privilege to wash the feet of Jesus every day.
I read a blog once (I can't remember where) about a woman who, when frustrated with her children, would fill the sink up and wash their feet, to remind herself Who she was serving and what posture her heart should be.
Let us spend our life seeking to serve Jesus, not escape from the exhaustion of motherhood.
You are so much more than "just a mom."
You are a woman with an anointing on your life.
You are a mama with a holy calling.
Walk it with strength, courage, and love.
I’m going to take a wild guess that my children aren’t the only ones with a bad habit every day. Or two. Or seven. So I’m going to share some of the practical ways I’ve found to weed them out. Spoiler alert: I’m a flower farmer and weeds rarely disappear the first time you pluck them. This isn’t a quick fix mama.
But take heart, Stefani posted an amazing blog post here about God’s escape from the frustrations of parenting when you feel like you’re constantly correcting your kids. If you haven’t read it - I encourage you to click here and give it a quick read!
Which brings me to my disclaimers. The first is that this will require faithfulness. This isn’t self produced or muscled up from your own strength. It’s a blessed, fruitful consistency that grows out of relying on our Heavenly Father. My second disclaimer is simply that I don’t claim any of this wisdom as my own. I’ve struggled bunches with lack of discipline in myself which has trickled down to my children. In my research, I’ve found the bulk of my inspiration from scripture and the writings of Charlotte Mason and C.S. Lewis among others. So I’m right there with you mama!
Know your “why”:
Teaching our children things such as manners, kindness and obedience are big jobs for the long haul. If we don’t keep sight of our reason for this task, Satan’s attempts to foil our plans will be all too successful.
First there are Biblical reasons we should take this job seriously. God asks us to work mightily for Him in all we do. (Col 3:23) We have the responsibility to be good stewards as parents to train our children. (Prov 13:24b) And we sincerely hope that our children will exhibit these things as Spiritual fruit stemming from a walk with the Lord. (Gal 5:22-23)
Additionally, God has unique purposes for each of our families. The ways he has gifted & called each family will and should add more beautiful purpose to our mission as moms. (Be sure to checkout our printable and get your “why” written down!)
On the other hand, If our why has unrighteous motivation, the habit likewise will be unwholesome when it comes down to it. When looking at my own life I can relate to this quote from Charlotte Mason: “... “given, on the other hand, a mother whose final question is, ‘What will people say? what will people think? how will it look?’ and the children grow up with habits of seeming, and not of being; they are content to appear well-dressed, well-mannered, and well-intentioned to outsiders, with very little effort after beauty, order, and goodness at home, and in each other’s eyes.”
What: breaking down the concept of habits.
Every time we think or act a certain way, it’s as if we flex a muscle in our brain. Each time we do that same thing, the “muscle” gets stronger. A habit is a very strong neural pathway. Each time we repeat the action it gets easier to do. We can be super grateful for habits. They’re what allow us to do most of our daily functions with very little effort or thought. Imagine how exhausted we’d be if we had to put the same effort towards walking and eating that we did when we were infants!
Hey mama. Do you ever feel like you tell your kids the same thing 1,000 times a day? No? It's just me? Ha!
It's truly one of the most frustrating things of motherhood. "How many times have I told you to pick up your clothes?"
"You don't have to be told to fix your bed. You know you're supposed to do that every morning!"
"Would you stop teasing your sister?!?"
Can't you just feel the tension rising? I feel a need for chocolate just typing those phrases out. Ha!
I don't need to tell you this isn't God's plan for motherhood. But you also need to know that there is no need to drown in condemnation and exasperation. That is also not God's plan for you, and He always provides a way of escape for His children.
Worship is a key component of prayer. We talked about creating a vibrant prayer life last week, and we've got to discuss the power of worship in tandem with our prayer life.
The Lord’s prayer begins with worship.
“Our Father in Heaven, may Your name be kept holy” (Matthew 6:9 NLT). We know that God’s throne is always surrounded with worshipers saying “holy, holy, holy.” (Isaiah 6:3 & Revelations 4:8)
Worship is a central theme in the Bible and is often included in any communication with God. Just read any three Psalms, and you’ll probably find worship in at least one, if not all of them.
Worship is, simply put, “the expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” (source) It’s like the love language of words of affirmation. We know God is wonderful, kind, merciful, omniscient, holy, and powerful, the Creator, our Savior, and perfect in all His ways. So we just speak it. That is worship. Worship is not a special mood at church, or a type of music or only appropriate for a group setting.
We can worship in the shower, when we're fearful in the night, at the grocery store, and when we’re tucking our children in for the night. Worship is probably the biggest part of a vibrant prayer life that there is. When we worship so much happens.
Our hearts change.
God is glorified.
Peace and joy fill us.
The devil becomes powerless before worship.
Worship is a weapon.
Brian Johnson says “When we worship, we pull armies from other realms into battle.” Worship is so powerful.
But how? How does a Mom cultivate a heart of worship when life is overwhelmed with dirty laundry, full sinks, and tired days? Wiping up my spilled coffee does not inspire my heart to worship. Disciplining my 2 year old does not make a song well up within me. Throwing 13 mismatched socks into the sock bin does not make think of praising God.
Worship can be hard in the everyday schedule of life. So often, my weary Mom heart only manages to cry out a prayer for wisdom, without stopping to worship God for being the Giver of wisdom. I tend to wait for a peaceful moment to worship, but the fact is, worship brings peace.
A worshipful Mom is a peaceful Mom.
If we wait to worship until we feel like worshiping, worship will become a Sunday morning activity, rather than an attitude of our souls. We must learn to worship in spite of ourselves and circumstances, not only because of them.
So, how? Last week, as we talked about creating a vibrant prayer life, our task was to simply pray and pray for a heart that loves to pray. We talked about action steps to take and triggers that help us build habits. Now, let’s take that a step farther.
Plan a time for worship. Start your day with worship, and then continue it throughout the day. You could even write out your worship schedule each night and follow it the next day. Does that sound weird? Hear me out.
Write down the times you want to worship in sharpie or a bright color and everything else you need to do in pencil. Then, no matter what, make sure the worship happens. At the end of the day, even if your house is a mess and you didn’t meet all your goals, your heart will be more peaceful, because you centered your day on the greatness of Jesus, rather than the imperfections of life. Do this every single day for a week, and you will find yourself longing for worship.
I know this makes it feel like a religious act, but there are times when we need to lead our heart and actions in our Christianity. When we take the first steps in obedience, we will see God work on our behalf. He didn't part the Jordan River until the priests stepped into the water.
Here’s a sample schedule:
Add your daily tasks in between these acts of worship. Center your day on the goodness of God, and you will begin to feel the goodness of God. You will find this to be a giant step towards a vibrant prayer life and your walk with Jesus will be SO enriched!
Roots by Warrior Hearted Mom is a series written to help us turn our focus back to the basics of our Christianity, so we can grow a strong foundation for our children.
"Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:7 NLT)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.