Truth telling for Moms

I’m a mom who daily lives under a rock of guilt and failure.

I haven’t given my six-year-old siblings to play with.

 I haven’t worked hard enough (or at all) today on his developmental skills.

 He’s spending too much time in front of electronics.

 I could do this all day.

 

I don’t know if it’s because Jesse has Autism and is an only child that I put this added pressure on myself, or if all moms do this. I suspect we each have our areas we struggle in, the lies we tell ourselves. When I stop the merry-go-round of all the ways I’m failing as a mom, God is gracious to help me fight with truth.

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The truth is, my son operates differently than other kids and so his activities and interests will look different as well. The truth is, I’m doing a great job as his mom, but I’m not perfect either. God knows this. The Lord didn’t wait until I had my act together before He gave me a son. It is in the process of raising him that I am sanctified!

The truth is, I am already “enough” as a mom, wife, friend and woman because Christ is enough and He lives in me. Condemnation has no place here. When I remember this, I breathe easier again, my shoulders begin to relax and I get to enjoy my son instead of focusing on all the ways I don’t measure up.

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If I stay hunkered down in guilt, I can’t clearly see the amazing blessings right in front of me. God holds out this wonderful gift and I reject not only the gifts of freedom and joy, but God Himself when I’m wrapped up in my own shortcomings.

Mom life is hard, but the truth is He gave you and me specific children, with distinct personalities and skills, to love, nourish, and raise for His glory. We get to teach them about the Lord who is our life.

             Our kids are gifts to enjoy, little lessons to learn from, means of sanctification. Preach this truth to yourself today when you feel like waving the white flag. God gives us the privilege and responsibility to care for the least of these, right in our own tribe.

It first starts with us loving Him as our ultimate treasure. That’s the place where we parent well and do anything well. Our relationship and growing love for the Lord will overflow on whatever else we put our hands to do today. We learn that even when we mess up or they do, there is grace and forgiveness extended vertically and horizontally. We start to live the message of the cross and that is the truth we need to tell ourselves everyday.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

 

Missional Summertime

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This summer is already the best one yet as a mom who is now turning the corner to having a “big kid”. It is also the hardest, by far. His five-year-old curiosity and energy level daily leaves toys littered on every surface in the house. The floors stay dirty and the laundry list of things to do besides the actual laundry is high. I just have one child, but he always seems to be right under me – like in the kitchen, while I’m making dinner – when kids have the ability to multiply themselves to be everywhere at once.

In the school year there is more time to myself, so the summer schedule is taking some adjustment. But I love it. My little guy and I get to set our own itinerary (aside from naps, those are still essential) and we step out the door exploring our own backyard, neighborhood, and hometown. Days are filled with lingering at the local botanical garden, swimming at the Y, visiting the playground and trips to our library, which has an awesome children’s section.

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It’s a balance of playing with him, getting regular housework done (or attempting to), and still trying to maintain my sanity, staying human. Jesse is learning to entertain himself more, which is huge. But because he is an only child I want to make sure we have time together. In a lot of ways at this stage I am his main friend/playmate. It won’t always be like this so it takes effort to be cognizant, soaking it in.

Yes some days are super hard. I’m exhausted, he’s tired, it’s too hot outside and patience wears thin as whining rises high. Yes, on those days I just want to go be by myself in a room with some great air conditioning.

But that isn’t the whole story.

Other days, sometimes in the same day, are magical moments – pure childhood fun.

We take walks; he holds my hand. We set up the plastic pins to bowl in the kitchen alley, followed by eruptions of cheer. He cools off in the sprinkler, enjoying it for the first time this year and I sit back watching him marvel over the simple things.

Growing up I took those summers for granted, thinking I’d have them always. There is something unique about this season for a child. It is a time of transition, growing up, learning by play.

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Moms, the struggle is real and I’m not minimizing that, but I know I too often suck the joy out of each day with my complaining. We set the tone for our homes and if the kids see us short-tempered and even resentful, they’ll get the message.

Summertime is actually harder than the rest of the year, but its priceless time too. You and I have the opportunity to pour into their sponge-like minds and impressionable young hearts. Parents have the classroom 24/7 right now. What do you want them to learn from you in these few short months? What will they take away from this summer?

I’m finding that the reason this season is challenging stems from learning to daily die to self. Moms feel like they are constantly giving of themselves – making breakfast, picking up toys so we don’t break our necks, grocery shopping, sharpening our parenting skills, trying to make wise decisions on the fly.

I know you want to honor the Lord in how you raise your kids. I know you want them to love Jesus like you do. I know you hope your little ones (or maybe not so little anymore) will love God’s Word. And all of this begins with our example. The responsibility feels heavy, but also freeing as we live into the identity Christ gave us. Motherhood is our ministry; our families are the people we serve. Do they see Jesus in us? This summer, you have that time.

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All women, whether you have children of your own or not, have the joy of missional motherhood:

“Every Christian woman is called to the spiritual motherhood of making disciples of all nations.”

-Gloria Furman

We have a great opportunity during the summer months, when life is slower, and pockets of time are free. I hope you don’t get caught in a rut like I have recently of hurrying these next few weeks along. I don’t want to just meet my son’s outward needs of food and clothing, or just marking time. I want to get to his heart too. But you and I can’t do this alone. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask Him to provide strength each day. The most important thing we can teach the children in our care is to show them Jesus.

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Gloria Furman, author of Missional Motherhood, writes, “Jesus invites women to missional motherhood to follow His pattern, to trust His promises, and to nurture others by the power He provides.” The best sermon we can preach is the one lived out at home. There are a little over a dozen summers you have with your kids before they lose that valuable freedom. Use it well and enjoy the very good gift of childhood summers.

 

Grace upon grace,

April

 

the thief of joy

139015530   A couple of years ago I signed up for a casual one-time painting class where I was going to have a masterpiece by the time it was over. That was the sales pitch anyway. Three hours later, as other women snapped pictures of themselves with their artwork, giddy and content from unleashing their inner Van Gogh, I thought mine looked more like an abstract Picasso picture. Clearly a three-year-old year could have painted mine. I just didn’t like how it turned out. The hilarious part was I kept attending these painting classes over and over again determined to find my creative side. I can only compare it to hitting one’s head against a brick wall, expecting a different result other than getting a huge goose egg and a deficit in my bank account.

This is supposed to be relaxing, I thought. Instead my perfectionist side starts to emerge and I get tense. I partly blame being left-handed. Every time I tried to paint my hand would drag through the fresh strokes leaving smudges, with a side of frustration. My downfall came when I looked at the other paintings during the class. Some women totally ignored the instructor’s elementary-style teaching and free handed the entire thing. They would finish way ahead of the class and their painting was something for others to “ooh” and “ahh” at. I was dumbfounded.

After six or seven attempts I finally resigned, accepting the fact that I am not very artistic. I could have probably enjoyed the painting classes regardless of my skill level. The problem arose when I began comparing my artwork to someone else’s. I got in my head and put added pressure on myself because my piece was not as pretty as hers. Looking back I see how ridiculous this was. I robbed myself of a lot of fun, if only I had kept my eyes on my own paper and chilled out.

Blogger, author and speaker Jen Hatmaker encourages women in her latest book For the Love to do just that: chill out, quit striving for perfection in every area of life and for the love, quit competing with each other! She says, “We have the lost the ability to declare a job well-done. We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy” (5). The modern woman is expected to spin 8,000 plates at once without breaking a sweat and when we fail (because it happens), we look over at our neighbor seemingly knocking it out of the park with everything she puts her mind to and it is destructive.

Comparison is a dangerous game. Sometimes I do it almost automatically because in my flesh there is a desire to be superior, better than, and important. If I am not guarding my mind and hiding myself in Christ, then I forget my identity in Him. I cannot be at rest or secure in who I am, a daughter of the King, when I secretly compete. Comparing myself to another only leads to envy and discontentment. A stubborn, bitter root will start to grow if not quickly uprooted. I begin to believe I have nothing to offer because someone else does it better than me. The truth is that my value is not determined by another, or even by my own standards. Jesus demonstrated my worth when He died on the cross in my place.

It is easy to get caught up in using the measuring stick against one another. He is a better Christian than me; She is more successful because she has a career outside the home; I am a better mom because I stay at home. The list can go on and on and around in circles. What essentially happens is that we step on others going up the ladder as we to try to make ourselves little gods. We start setting value on others as more or less than us, instead of seeing each other as the work of our Creator.

But when I celebrate my gifts, abilities, and smallness the way God intended, I am turning my heart to worship the One who made me. I can practice a grateful heart and have joy. Weeding out the haves and have not’s in my life also allows me to better connect with others if I am not comparing ourselves. There is room to breathe in accepting and praising God for not only the specifics in how He fashioned me, but in how He knitted others together as well. How boring would it be if all of our paintings looked EXACTLY the same? If we all had the same gifts we could not serve one another and function like the body of Christ either. Emily P. Freeman wisely puts it this way: “The answer is not to convince others of our worth. The answer is to accept the invitation of Jesus to be like little children and come to him […] He invites us not to stoop to become less than what we are, but to finally take on the truest shape of ourselves: a small and dependent child of God” (p.142, Simply Tuesday).

The work of my hands or contribution in society does not judge my worth because my identity in Jesus Christ is already enough. I can bravely just be who He created me to be and live and serve with purpose. When I feel that temptation to validate myself to another, I can trust that I am enough to the Lord because He is enough in me. And when I encounter someone who is susceptible to the same sin of comparison as me, I can remember Freeman’s admonition, “More compassion, less comparison”.

Grace upon grace,

April