Motherhood, in Life and Ministry

motherhoodlifeministryThere were days when my boys were young that I was just tired and wanted to run away. I didn’t want to even hear the word “mommy”. I didn’t want to be a mother. In fact, I was one of those girls who grew up saying I’d never have children. I often wondered what God was thinking when He allowed me to be a mother. I would grow weary of doing for my children without appreciation or notice.

Then God, in His faithfulness and gentle ways would cause my heart to look upon those precious faces and my heart would remember truth. The truth that His did call me to be a mother. He placed these precious, loud, curious, rough and tumble boys into my arms with a heavenly purpose in mind. Yes God desires us mothers to raise them for Him, to teach them the word and show them the love of the Father but children also teach us.

They teach us to be a mother. They show us the Father and help us to understand His love, patience, mercy and grace. So often we, as mothers, get so caught up in trying to do and be what we think a good mother would do and be that we forget the lessons that God is trying to teach us through our raising children.

In those moments that I wanted to run, give up and give in I learned to run to God. I learned that it was in His strength I could go another day. It was because of Him and what He was doing in my heart that I would learn to keep on fighting for my children. After all if I wasn’t teaching them, loving them, holding them, praying with and for them who would? No one. I was the one God called. I would be the one who would lead them.

Over seven years ago when I led me into women’s ministry I found these same emotions arising. I would become weary of being a spiritual mother. I would become frustrated in the fighting for “children” who seemed to not care. Day after day I would fight battles within and outside that threatened to rendered me useless. My enemies, were my flesh, Satan, the world and the very ones I was trying to minister to. The lies, betrayals, gossip and criticism at times brought great bouts of  discouragement. I wanted to quit, run away and give up.

But God has called me, and so, just like when I felt this way raising my boys, I learned to once again run to Him. God, once again being faithful, reminded me that it’s not about me, or how I am feeling. It’s about them, what’s best for them, what they need. It’s about  who they need me to be – who God expects me to be. I was reminded that I have a God who empowers me to do that which He has called me to do. He called me to be a mother. This my dear friends is a blessing – a high calling. And I had learned that God will enable me to rise above my flesh and do what He has called me to do.

So today God continues to call me into “Mothering”. As I look back I can see how all the lessons beforehand led up to this role as a” mother”. The women God brings to me today are broken, many know nothing of God let alone what it means to be loved by a mother. God is calling me to mother His lost children. Children who do not know Him or know very little about Him. These women, these young girls need to see and experience what being a mother really is about. They need to hear the truth, not only about being a mother but about their heavenly Father. They need to know they are heard, seen and understood. They need mothers who have not only “been there” but who are real and honest about the struggles, and heartache of mothering.

This journey has only begun and I stand with great anticipation to see all that God will do. I am thrilled to serve God in this way. I am humbled that He has chosen me to help Him save these girls and their unborn babies. Working in a pregnancy center will bring new, hard challenges I know and I fully realize that there will be day that I will not  “feel” like fighting for them. I will grow weary and feel  like giving up.

And yet, I have learned who to run to and I will rise in confidence of who Christ says I am and believe the truth of what I KNOW – not what I feel or the lies that the enemy would have me believe – I will stand on the truth of who Christ is and the truth of what His word says.

I will think like a mother, sacrifice like a mother, love like a mother. I will fight like a mother! I will fight with God to help save a generation that does not know Him.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com by greyerbaby

3 Ways to Help Create an Eternal View in our Children

Ambro, published on 02 November 2011<br />Stock Photo - image ID: 10063272Anytime we look back over our life we often see so much clearer. There are many things I wish I would have done, or not done, as a mother. I wish I would have seen then what I see now as the most important seed to plant in their young hearts. I don’t suppose I did it all wrong, they both are serving the Lord and following Him. But I can’t help but wonder if I could have done a better job cultivating eternity in their hearts. Could I have done better teaching them to live with an eternal perception? Could I have done more to help them live a life pursing eternal rewards instead of the worldly rewards?

Here are a few things that I believe give our children a better start to living with an eternal perspective. These are things I have done, seen modeled and wish I would have done better.

The first two things I see come from Duet 11:18-20 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul ; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall teach them to your sons,talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,”

1. Make time for God. This does not mean take them to church every Sunday or make sure they attend Sunday School, Awana, VBS, and have family devotions, although all of these things are good and valuable. But the problem comes when we separate “religious” training and our everyday life. If all that we do is the above without including God in the everyday moments of life then we begin a pattern of separating the sacred and the secular.

God should be spoke of daily, not in a forced way but in a way that is natural. A parent should look for ways to point their children to God in the everyday ordinary ways. Look for teachable moments. Look for opportunities to teach your children about God’s character and His truth.

For example, during the summer my granddaughter and I were outside when she spotted a bunny. She was so excited and began chasing it. She said to me after she realized she wasn’t going to catch it, “Nana I wish I could catch him and take care of him, he is so cute and cuddly!” My response to her was, “Isn’t it wonderful that God created something so cute and cuddly! God will take care of him because God cares for all the animals he created.” From there she began to ask questions about God and wanted to know others things He created. It was a small thing, and yet it planted truth in her little heart and opened up a conversation about the Creator God.

2. Make time for family. This is so important. Today in the pursuit of the “American Dream” we have lost the importance of the family unit. Quality and quantity time has been replaced with mom and dad pursuing their careers, and children pursuing sports, dance, music and the next top video game.

Today more than ever I believe the family is being sacrificed. Family no longer spend much time together. They are busy running to sport games, dance recitals, karate, and so much more that there just isn’t time for the family to sit together at meal time. Our family tried to spend several meals a week eating together around the table. I still cherish those meal times. It was there that we had wonderful conversations, laughed until we hurt and yes we even had some of out biggest arguments. But the point is we were talking, sharing and together.

Another way to build the family up is “unplugging”. Take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and go for a hike, a picnic , go to the beach or camping for the weekend. As a family we loved all these things and our boys still speak of them with fond memories. Our boys didn’t have cell phones until they were about sixteen and driving, but even then it was before texting and the ability to get online with your phone. Today I think in order to help with the unplugging I would lock all phones in the car or maybe only carry one in case of emergency. (just a thought)

Be willing to make sacrifices for the family. What I mean is in light of every decision you make as husband and wife make sure you are putting the family first. I remember on one occasion when my husband had the opportunity to take a better paying job, it would have meant a lot more money and more opportunity for moving up. We talked and prayed about it for quite some time. Are boys were older and so we talked to them about it too. I remember one of them saying something about if we have more money they could have more things. THINGS. That wasn’t what we wanted for our children.

My husband ended up not pursuing the job for one reason, the family. This job would mean more traveling and more hours. Instead of being away from the family 40-50 hrs a week it would be 60-70 hrs. They let him know up front that those kind of hours would be expected. He wasn’t willing to sacrifice his family. As a result of that decision when it was our son’s senior year he was able to attend every home and away basketball game. He was also able to be there for every soccer game for our other sons senior year. My husband was able to be an involved father even during those moments that they might not care if dad was there or not.

3. Make time for others. John 13:34 reminds us that we are to “ love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  Galatians 5:13b says “…but through love serve one another.” We had an advantage in teaching our children to serve others since they grew up next to their grandparents. Even when they were quite young they would be over there helping in the garden, cleaning up the yard and collecting eggs from the chickens. As they grew there help increased to chopping wood, mowing, getting snakes out of the house and many other needed chores. They loved helping their Pop-Pop and rarely was it something they were “made to do”. The advantage of this was them learning to serve.

There were other ways we tried to help instill this principle also, like serving in shelters, helping with Angel Tree, mission trips, and serving a summer camp. I remember our youngest son desiring to serve at a youth camp for inner city kids the summer after his senior year of High School. We weren’t thrilled with the idea due to the fact that there would be little to no money saved for college, but we allowed him to go and it was life changing for him. He also had the opportunity when he was 15 to go to Japan on a trip to teach soccer and share Christ, it was another life changing trip. These opportunities should be encouraged even when we as parents may feel they should be pursuing a job or other things. It’s in service to others that our children learn the joy of serving the Lord and making sacrifices to do so.

As I said above, we didn’t do these things perfectly. I wish we would have spent more time in all three areas. I wish we wouldn’t have “bought” into the worlds views when it came to what was important to spend our time on. Our boys were involved in school and outside activities but God, family and others always were most important. We weren’t willing to make sacrifices in these areas, which included our children not being able to play in town sport leagues because they would have to play on Sunday.

Yes I know, I can hear the arguments now! But you know what? Our boys still played school sports in High School, and one even got offered a scholarship to play in college. (Unfortunately he blew his knee out his senior year and the scholarship offer was taken back.)

I am sure there is so much more to this topic of creating an eternal view in the hearts of our children, but I think these three things are a good start.

Season, Reason or Lifetime Friends?

Recently I posted this picture on Facebook.friends The private comments I received were quite interesting. Since then I have thought a lot about friendship, friendships that last a lifetime. This is what I am processing…

When I think of my circle of friends I always find myself looking the example I see in the relationships Jesus had while on earth.

He had the multitudes whom he definitely had influence over as He traveled from place to place. He had His followers, those that would often follow Him from town to town to hear Him. There were His twelve, then His three, and some even narrow it down to His one.

I have those who are on the peripheral, those that know me to say hello or who may know my name and face but our relationship doesn’t go beyond that. They know me because we attend the same church, or they have sat in on one of my workshops.

Friends for particular season and reasons: Then there are those who know me because we have spent time with one another over a mutual project, ministry or for a particular crisis or event. We know each other a bit deeper but often it can still be a bit of a surface relationship for once the reason of the relationship is done we have very little contact.

I think along this same line is friendships that develop during certain seasons of our life. For example when my boys were of preschool age I attended a Bible study with other moms where we spent much time together encouraging one another. If it had not be for some of those mothers I don’t know what I would have done. But as we each began making different life choices about how to school our children or what church we would attend and become involved in I found those relationship fell by the wayside.

Even though I have not seen some of these season or reason friends for a long time I still consider them friends. When we run into one another on the street we hug, catch up and encourage one another with a smile. We will even connect from time to time on face book, following along as their lives change and grow.  And if they had a need, a prayer request, I’d like to think I’d be there for them just as they would be for me.

Lifetime friends: Then there are lifetime friends. These friends have been through practically every season with you. They have stood by your side through the good, bad and ugly. These friends often can begin as season/reason friends but they grow to be much more. Two of my lifetime friends came out of the young moms Bible Study, our friendship grew to depths beyond the time in study. Our commonality was more than the season/reason relationship.

Lifetime friendships develop out of a mutual connection of the heart. Just because I have known someone for more than 7 years doesn’t mean we are lifetime friends. A lifetime friend is one to whom your heart is connected. Neither time nor distance can separate you. You have cried over prodigal children, and hard seasons of marriage. You have cried with each other during times of suffering, bearing one another’s burdens, confessed sin and allowed them inside your heart and life.

We may not see eye to eye on everything, and there may be times of hurt feelings, but the relationship is far more important to us than a disagreement. We will talk it out with grace, love and forgiveness.

I do not know about you but my group of lifetime friends is small. In fact I can count them on one hand.  I have known these women anywhere between 7 to 25 years. But it is more than just knowing them for a long time, it is about our level of consistent, intentional involvement in one another’s lives.

So what is my point? I suppose bottom line is that just because you have known someone for more than 7 years it doesn’t mean we are “lifetime” friends. On the other hand we will always be friends. We will always be friends because of the moments we shared, the impact that was made, the season we walked. But lifetime friends go beyond that. They go to a deeper level of the heart and soul and they stay connected throughout the various seasons of life regardless of whether or not you still live in close proximity.

So what do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Seasons of Change

 

seasonsChange. It’s apart of life. Change comes whether we desire it or not. There are times we long for it, and yet other times we beg for things to stay the same.

Change can bring heartache, but it can also bring joy.

As I reflect over the last 50 plus years I recount all the seasons of change in my life.

There have been times of Spring when my life seemed to be a time of awakening. A sense of newness. Freshness. I love spring when things that once seemed dead begin to come to life again.

Times of Summer when there was much joy, sunshine and laughter. A time of soaking in all the blessing in my life. The blessings of creating memories with family and friends.

Then there have been times things seemed to begin to die. In the dying I could see such beautiful colors of my life. I think the seasons of autumn are times of great change. Hard changes. Beautiful changes. Those changes that need to be in order to grow.

Nothing though is as hard as the seasons in my life that were dead, cold and bitter. Winter is always the hardest. With very little sunshine, warmth or visible signs of life. These are the times I have felt I would just die. Times when it seemed I was forgotten, alone and left for dead inside.

But what I didn’t know during much of the time spent in winter is that inside, deep inside, everything was growing, changing and preparing to break forth into something new. Something beautiful.

The seasons of our lives come and go. Each one brings changes. As I look back I realize I have survived many changes. I have endured many seasons.

As I sit before the Lord today and reflect over my life I am fully aware that change is coming. Again. The beauty of it is that every season before hand has prepared me for the season I am about to enter. God never takes us through a change without preparing us before hand.

I feel it, God is working and the season is about to change. I wonder, what season we are about to enter? I wonder where we are going? What is God doing?

I have been living through winter and unlike the seasons of the earth life seasons do not always follow a certain order. So I don’t know what season is coming but it matters not, for as I look back I KNOW, that God is always there working in me, changing me, molding me, refining me to be more like Him.

What about you? Think back over the seasons of your life. Do you see God in each of them? Do you see the changes He created? Can you rejoice in each season of change? Even the winters?

Our God is good in all things. He is good to us, His children. When we look for the blessings in each season we also find great joy.

You Are Not Alone

Each path in motherhood life has it’s ups and downs. We journey through mountains, over deserts, along the ocean and through open fields. We journey through the darkest nights, rain storms, sunshine, fog, and seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Regardless of where we find ourselves in the journey we are often unsure of the next step. We have not come this way before. Each road is new, it’s different, and does not always look just like the path others have walked. Sometimes we feel so alone. Its seems no one else is with us on the path. We have lost sight of those who are ahead or those who are walking behind. And we wonder, “does anyone understand?”

A young bride is fearful and unsure how to be a good wife. She looks around and so many seem to have it together. The marriages of her friends seems…dare she think it? “Perfect?” Yet she feels hers is falling apart. She feels afraid and alone.

A young mom hasn’t been able to leave her home for weeks. She doesn’t understand how all her friends are able to attend Bible Studies, get together for lunch and stay sane. She is overwhelmed with motherhood. She feels as if she is walking this journey alone.

A mother of a prodigal is desperate for understanding, but she feels as if she is being judged. She spends her day crying and praying. Her heart is breaking. Does anyone see?

A mother says goodbye to her last child and wonders, “what now?” As she looks around it seems that others along this path know where they are going. They are pursuing careers, going back to school for degrees, they are DOING something. She wonders to herself how did they know what to do? She feels alone.

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All of us have found, or will find, ourselves in one of the above scenarios. Some may find that they are in more than one. I have walked them all. I have found that each path there has been one constant, regardless of how we feel we are never alone. Our God walks with us through each stage. With each step we take He is preparing us for the next pathway of our journey.

We must remember that it may LOOK or FEEL like we are alone but others are with us. There are other women on the same path. We only need to look, speak out and be willing to be transparent. Be willing to share your story, as you do you will find other women who have felt the same. They have walked a similar path.

To often the enemy preys on our mind during these times of aloneness and whispers lies. He convinces us that no one would understand, and that other’s lives are perfect. He tells us we  are alone in our struggle. He wants to keep us alone and silent.

But we must speak out. We must speak truth. Once we begin sharing our struggles along the journey we WILL find that other’s are struggling too. We WILL find that we are not alone, other women are just like us.

So dear one, where ever you find yourself today I pray that you know you do not have to walk alone. I would love to hear your story. I pray you will allow me to walk with you.

This is Life. This is Marriage.

We took our wedding vows and made a promise to live together until death does us part.

No one told us how hard it would be those first couple of years. It was the little things that caused frustrations. Like laundry on the floor, who slept on what side of the bed, what kind of toothpaste  would we use. Whose house would we go for the holidays. Everything seemed to cause a struggle. It was a struggle for two individuals becoming one.

ID-10033333.jpgIt takes time for a young man to gain confidence and take the lead. It takes time to become a man.

It takes time for a woman to grow and realize the role God places her in. She will grow to come along side and be a helpmate to her husband.

It goes against our flesh, it goes against what the world tells us about marriage. The only hope is that God must be allowed to work in our hearts. In our marriage.

There are many years filled with love, laughter and tears. Learning to understand one another, to love one another. There were sorrows and disappointments shared. Deep struggles that caused growth in both of us.

There were children, moving, losses, death, and decisions to be made. All allowed by the grace of God to mold and shape us.

This was life, it was our life. It is still life.

Marriage is an amazing life shared with one who loves deeply, sacrificially and unconditionally. Dates planned, intimate talks, holding hands or just sitting in silence knowing we are not alone. Sharing our future, hopes, dreams, desires, and our fears.

Oh, and those moments when you look into one another’s eyes and know just how loved you are. You see your beauty in the way they look at you. You feel safe in their embrace and you know the depth of their commitment to you.

This is life, this is marriage. Both are filled with love, joy, pain and sorrow.

We made a promise on the day of our wedding, but we have grown to a place where we realize that marriage is more than a promise, it’s a covenant. A solemn binding agreement between parties, made by blood, and not breakable. God is the sovereign administrator of this covenant.

A covenant means that you become one flesh, its death to independent living. You will put your partners needs before your own. If someone hurts your spouse they hurt you for you have truly grown to be one.

A covenant means that you will stand and fight for as long as it takes to defeat the enemy. You’ve got one another’s back. It means that you will be there for one another no matter how hard the road is. You are in it for the long haul. There is no giving up when it gets hard and messy. There is no divorce – it’s not even in your vocabulary and certainly never mentioned.

When recently asked how we have managed to come to almost 30 years I simply said,“we made a covenant, and a covenant is more than a promise. A covenant can not be broken. We are committed to making it work. We choose to love one another even in those moments when it’s hard.”

Marriage does not come with an easy button, it takes work, sacrifice, steadfast commitment and prayer. It also takes those around you to build a community of faith and support. We allow others int our lives to help keep us accountable. We allow them to speak truth into our marriage.

It means allowing God to rule over your marriage and be obedient to do what you know is right. It means that you WILL be there for one another no matter what. You will always choose to stay and work it out instead of leave and give up.

Marriage is more than the worlds definition of a promise which is so easily broken– it’s a covenant.

 
Photo courtesy from  photostock,  at www.freedigitalphotos.net

A Reminder For The “Older Women”

She sat across from me, tears streaming down her face as she shared her story with me. A story of brokenness and pain. She was a young Christian mom of two precious babies, married to a godly man and yet there was a deep sadness about her. Her sadness allowed me to see into her heart, a heart that loved God, desired to be the woman God created her to be.

WomenTalkingI did not know her before this day and yet her story was all too familiar. It was a story I had heard far too often. It was my story. You see she had gone to others for help, but the advice had all been pretty much the same. “You need to renew your mind.” “You are believing lies. You need to think on truth.”

Before she went any further I took her hand in mine, looked her in the eyes and said, “Oh sweet girl you are wondering what are the lies and what is truth.” With tears pouring down once again she choked out the word, “yes.” Squeezing her hand I let her know I understood. I too had been there. I can still be there at times.

I don’t know if I will ever see this young mom again but my advice to her is the advice I wish I would have received as a twenty something young mom and wife. It wasn’t until my forties that someone finally took the time and invested in my life in order to help me understand the lies I was believing. Lies that I had heard my whole life that sounded like truth. Destructive words that had gone so deep into my heart that they had taken root and grown strong. These are the kind of lies that need help to see. We need others to help us expose them, to destroy them and then to replace them with truth.

There are two things I shared with her that day. There are two things she needs to know and we, as older women, need to remember.

The first thing I shared is that she needs to be able recognize what lies she believes about God, about herself and about her circumstances. She needs those in her life that she can trust to tell her when her thoughts are based on lies. She needs  to be willing to open up and share her thoughts in a safe place.

The second thing I told her is that she must read and study the word of God. His word is truth and the only way to really know truth is to know it for yourself. It’s not a practice that you do occasionally or haphazardly but a discipline that we pursue and seek after. Truth comes when we know and understand the character of God.

But what does this look like in the everyday?

In my life I have a couple of friends I can trust enough that I can call them and say, “Hey this is what is going through my head right now. Am I believing a lie? If I am what is the truth?” These sisters consider it a privilege to walk along with me, there is no judgment. They don’t make me feel stupid, instead they just love me and speak truth. They will take me to the word of God. They have helped me replace lies with truth. They have walked with me through it enough times that today as my knowledge of truth grows it becomes easier to recognize the lies. Lies become easy to spot when we know truth.

I left this young lady with two devotional type Bible Studies to consider doing in her quiet time. Both are written by Kay Arthur called Lord, I Want to Know You and Lord, Heal My Hurts. The first one is a study on the character of God, the second is a study on Jehovah Rapha, our Healer God. Both studies help you dig into the Bible and learn truth for yourself.

A few reminders to those who are leaders, mentors, or the “older women”.

 Do not just assume that they know what lies they believe.  Sometimes it requires getting involved in the messy part of life in order to help see and know the lies they believe loving their husbands and children. We need to walk with them and help them to see the lies and then show them what truth is.

Be patient with the one who is trying to see the lies she believes. Some lies are so ingrained that she may forget and will need constant reminding until she believes truth. Give them the same grace and love that you have received from Christ.

Finally, please, please stop telling them that they just need to “renew their minds” or “take captive their thoughts.” Yes, this is truth. It is what they need to do. Most likely they have heard it over and over . But what they really need is someone to love them enough to show them. They need those women in their life that will walk with them in love and truth.

We, as older women, who pour our lives into the younger generation, need to remember that not everyone understands or sees the lies behind what they are thinking or feeling. How will they know they need to replace it with truth if they don’t even know it’s a lie? So let us love them enough to walk  and talk with them instead of just talking to them.

 

 

For further reading …