“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!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.