“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)
I have always fought against the idea of making prayer into a habit. I've reasoned that, if prayer is such a tedious task, than there must be something wrong in my relationship with Christ. And yet, by my very reasoning, I have made prayer a task, rather than a relationship.
I know I'm not alone in this reasoning. I took several polls on social media and the overwhelming amount of voters admitted to not being happy with their prayer life. In fact, in one Facebook group, 40 Christian moms said they wished they had a better prayer life and 0 said they were happy with their prayer life.
Prayer is our main form of communication with God. If we aren't praying, we aren't communicating with Christ. How can we grow in a relationship if we aren't talking? How quickly would your relationship with your husband go downhill, if you only talked with him while you were on the go? Or if you only talked with him when you needed something?
Motherhood is a labor of love.
We all know that, right? From the first moment we discovered we were pregnant, or the first time we met our child through adoption, we learned a different kind of love.
But some days...
Some days the love is as strong as ever, but the sparkles seem to have faded. The rose-colored lenses (ok Instagram filters) have been removed, and real life hits.
And we wish they would just learn to fix their bed already. Or that they'd put their toys in the toy box, and not behind it. And why do they have to whine about washing the dishes every single night. Are you feeling these bold words? Yelling them in your head?
I so often forget that my kids are kids. Not tiny adults with fully developed minds.
At this writing, we have just celebrated Mother’s Day. I loved seeing all the ways women were honored all over social media. Some women got breakfast in bed or a special lunch, or both! Most women got at least a card or a phone call and some of us got beautiful gifts and thoughtful scribbly drawings. There were written tributes everywhere and abundant ravings for the importance of mothers in church on Sunday.
Now, Father’s Day is coming up. (If you had forgotten consider this your friendly reminder!) Churches and newspapers all around the world will provide acronyms and three point sermons regarding ways for father’s to be the very best dad possible. They'll be encouraged to be strong leaders, with the perfect balance of gentleness and authority, mercy and justice. Not only that, but they’ll be reminded that their relationship with their kids can only be as good as their relationship with their children’s mom.
Do you see the contrast? Many dads will receive gifts and cards of thanks, but the overarching tone of Father’s Day seems to be: here is the high bar you should seek to attain. Why are the two holidays different in this way? In preparation for this Father’s Day, I’d like to take some time to really ponder why Father’s are worth honoring.
One of the implications of this difference in attitudes towards each holiday is that (since we know that Mother’s aren’t ACTUALLY perfect, despite what the Hallmark card says) there is abundant grace for moms, but not so much for dads. By overlooking her short-comings, but prodding him to improve on his, we are rending concepts that in actuality must coexist to reflect God’s design.
So I’d like to start by reminding us that yes, there is infinite grace for all of our shortcomings. Just as there is great value in seeing Christ’s example and other scriptural wisdom and following after them wholeheartedly. I want you to know that I do believe in the value of teaching men how to become ever more capable to fulfill their calling. I also believe in giving abundant grace while the Spirit makes us new. I just feel like we as women mostly get the latter and men kind of get the short end of the stick each spring. As we move forward, let’s take these inseparable concepts and think of fatherhood with a more cohesive set of lenses.
The Weight Of Authority In Fatherhood
As women and mothers, many of our responsibilities are very tangible. In many homes, mom is primarily responsible for much of the household duties. This looks different in every home and can be very dependent on whether mom works, whether or not there are two parents in the household and so many other factors.
Our responsibilities could be cooking and cleaning, working and/or educating children, or maybe keeping the lawn or garden looking pristine. No matter what it looks like for each unique family, it’s common for a woman’s responsibilities to be self-evident. It’s easy to see if they are completed and with what level of care. It’s also therefore a lot easier to be grateful for them. I know not everything is quite as simple and visible. Sometimes mom is home with the children during the day and her efforts to love and discipline her children go largely unnoticed. Unless of course our kiddos misbehave in public of course! (I’m right there with you, mama!)
Let’s take a moment and think about the cultural and Biblical expectations for a Father. Colossians and Ephesians have similar instructions to Fathers, asking them not to provoke their children, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. As husbands, men are expected to make important decisions, be financially responsible, lead their families spiritually and maintain a healthy walk with Christ. I feel like I need to take a breather just typing that out!
Think about it this way. If you don’t do the laundry, within a few days or more people will notice. They’ll come to you looking for clean underwear and complaining of having nothing to wear. (Although I don’t know about yours, but my daughters sometime feel that way even if everything is clean.) Since this responsibility is so tangible (and never-ending right?!) it’s easy to see that you need to kick it into high gear and get it done, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal if your kids wear dirty jeans for a day.
Compare this with most of dad’s roles. It might work similar with mowing the lawn or filling the car up with gas. But what about making life decisions such as whether or not to move? How does it work out with his efforts at spiritual leadership? It usually takes a lot longer (and a lot more risk) to find our whether he made the right call. Will you pause a moment and consider the weight of these things?
Ladies, our jobs have great eternal value. They do. Both in and out of our home, we have been called to do precious things for God’s kingdom. But the bottom line is, a husband and father’s role has added responsibility. A teacher I enjoy recently reminded me of this when speaking on submission. It’s easy to focus on the difficulty of submitting, especially if we believe the leader in our life is wrong. But as women, we don’t often taste the pressure that comes with that authority. You may know how it feels to lead a team, a ministry or a business venture. But unless you’re a single mom, we don’t feel the burden of taking the lead on issues with eternal weight for the people we care about more than anything in the world. Business and ministries can have do-overs. Father’s only get one life to live well.
Making it practical...
Like I said in the beginning. This is a two way street. We all need grace and growth. So this Father’s Day, what can we do differently? Here are a few ideas to start - we’d love to hear yours in the comments!
In the week before or after Father’s Day, take time to pursue your husband’s (or father’s) heart. Many men hesitate to reveal how they’re feeling. Take time to chat and enjoy the conversation. Take time to really listen. Sometime when life is really busy, this alone is such a gift! If time and talk allow, ask him how he’s really doing. Depending on your relationship with him and his with Jesus, you might ask him what God’s been teaching him or how you can pray for him. Maybe, with humility and grace in each hand, you could ask if there’s one thing you could work on or do better to help him.
Say thank you. A real, true, positive thank you. If it’s hard to think of positive things about the man in your life, ask God to help you see through different eyes. Avoid the temptation to blow sunshine and say things that have very little value. One pointed, meaningful word is worth hundreds of shallow ones.
Have some fun! Take him to do something he loves! If you have little ones, maybe add in a gift certificate or home made coupon for him to do that thing alone sometime. For instance, my husband loves to fish. So naturally, he loves to take us fishing with him. Except what he’s really doing when he fishes with the family along, is rowing the boat, untangling fly lines, tying knots, teaching our children how to tie knots, netting fish, calming frustrated casters, and I think you get the picture. I don’t think Father’s Day would be the same without us, but there’s also nothing like a quiet day on the river.
How do you restore your soul, Mama? How do you refresh your spirit and find the energy to keep on going, day after day?
Is it self-care? Soul-care? Do you feel like you need to find child-care before you can get the rest you so desperately need?
This may be the most practical post on WHM yet, but I feel it's desperately needed by moms today. Self-Care seems to be preached from the rooftops and beautifully pictured every time you open your phone. But what is it, even? And is it actually that important?
I'm going to jump right in and tell you that I don't like self-care. I don't even agree with it. The very name puts a catch in my spirit. Since when are Christians supposed to focus on self? And while taking a shower, wearing clean clothes and combing my hair every day makes me feel good, aren't those the same habits we're tying to teach our kids now? So shouldn't we have them pretty well figured out by now?
I know...I know there's seasons where it's hard to survive, and a shower feels like an oasis in a desert. But there's this unhealthy drive to pamper ourselves as moms and the results usually don't last longer than the actual event anyway.
We don't need more self-care. We need soul-care.
What is it that refreshes your soul and fills your heart with the Living Water that transformed the life of the Samaritan woman at the well? (John 4)
And what are you doing to make it happen?
My heart has been in turmoil the last week. My mind has been racing. I've felt unsettled.
There is so much upheaval. There is so much unrest. Racism, anger, name-calling, and destruction have taken over every news outlet and social media feed. It is demanded that we pick a side.
Law Enforcement or people of color?
White or Black?
If we question the riots, we're racist. If we feel anger at Law Enforcement, we're anti-America. There is this imaginary line drawn in the sand, and we're not allowed to straddle it. We must chose a side.
As a former EMS worker, I have seen the good cops. I've watched them deal with the unthinkable with a quiet courage and I applaud them.
As the mother of a bi-racial child, my heart cries out for justice and mercy. I cringe at the conversations going on around me.
Must I pick a side? And, if I do, how will it effect my children? How will it effect the future of reconciliation? Because the future of racism is being molded right now, in our hearts and in our homes. The way we raise our children now will dictate the kind of world they live in.
Which forces us to answer the question, "What can be done?"
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.