Missional Motherhood Study: Week 3

I was recently traveling with my family, so my moms group met this past Wednesday instead of Monday. Only two ladies were present, but we spent a long time talking about Gloria’s take on seasonal obsessive disorder (which is not a real disorder) and comparing it to our lives. In Jesus’ day the Jews were ‘obsessing’ about their season of oppressive Roman rule and they expected the Messiah to deliver them. But while the Jews were looking for someone to deliver them from their temporary situation, they were overlooking their greater need for eternal deliverance. In much the same way, we as moms can obsess over the season of parenting we are in with our children and pine for a different season.

I know lately I’ve been pining for a season when my boys are more independent from me. I can day dream about having more freedom, especially with my two year old who clings to me day and night. And yet my eyes are set on the temporal circumstances of my life when they should ultimately be set on hope in Christ and his return. Gloria reminds us that we are all in the larger season of life, which is wrought with hardship. In every season we find ourselves in, and in all of this tumultuous life, Christ is the anchor for our souls. What a solid truth to hold fast to as a mom called to daily nurturing of little bodies and souls.

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When Does Mommy Get to Rest?

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The words barely roll off my tongue as I bend down to hear my three-year-old son whisper in my ear, “Mama, I want a snack.”

My hands feel around diapers, wipes, and extra clothing items in my bag and then grab onto a small packet of crackers. I tear open the packet and hand it to my son as I resume singing.

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

I glance down to see my son huddled over his blue sneakers, tugging at the yellow laces that have come untied. As I continue to sing one of my favorite hymns, I plop my son down on a chair to retie his shoes.

This is a typical Sunday morning service for young moms — worship as a mother. We sing praise with our mouths to God, while worshiping by tearing open cracker packets and tying loose laces. It’s Sunday, a Sabbath day for many, a day to rest, take it easy, be refreshed, and prepare for another week of schedules, appointments, and work. And yet my hands are busy at work all day. How can I enjoy rest when caring and nurturing is a round-the-clock job?

Read the rest at Desiring God >>

Missional Motherhood Study: Week 2

Today we had our second mom’s meet-up to discus session 2 of Gloria Furman’s missional motherhood. In this video Gloria gave us a sweeping synopsis of the gospel story intertwined throughout the entire Bible. She presents us with the “big story” of scripture and asks us how it fits into our smaller stories of everyday mothering.

The biggest takeaway from our discussion today was the promise of hope we have in Christ. His death, burial, and resurrection gives us a present and future hope in him alone. We see hope in Adam naming Eve “the mother of all living“, the hope of rescue and redemption in the Old Testament as every story points to Jesus, and then the fulfillment of hope in the New Testament and beyond. This hope is not grounded in ourselves and our efforts or the performance of our children; it is grounded in the hope of Christ’s resurrection. Even if our day does not go as planned, we know that ultimately all things will go well (and as planned) for God’s children in the end.

Leave me a comment with your thoughts after you watch the video.

Missional Motherhood Study: Week 1

I just finished the first video by Gloria Furman in her 6 week bible study series. It’s a sweetly short video, which you can find here. Yesterday I had a few local mom friends over (we each live within a few blocks from each other) and we went over the discussion questions from the workbook. We grasped onto Gloria’s statement about being more than “just a mom”. And we also talked about how the spiritual warfare of mothering can include believing that lie ourselves. We need to remind ourselves that what we do, no matter how small, has meaning and purpose. We are living with a mission to make disciples of Christ. This happens not just in the words we speak, and the kind of life we live, but in the way we care physically for our children and those in our churches and communities.

Takeaway points from our personal discussion included:

  • Valuing motherhood has more to do with the internal than the external. We can value motherhood and believe we are more than “just a mom” whether we stay home full time, work from home, or work outside of the home in any capacity.  
  • Satan seeks to destroy life in our homes, which can manifest itself in many ways, especially in telling us lies about our mothering. 
  • We all need rest and peace from mommy guilt. Whatever choices we’ve made for schooling, feeding, diapering, daily routine, and discipline should not feel like a burden of guilt and condemnation. Jesus has a better yoke for us, one in which we are humbly dependent on him for our lives and those of our children. This is how we find peace. 

Leave me a comment after you watch the video and let me know your thoughts. 

Missional Motherhood Online Bible Study

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The Lifway Women blog, in partnership with The Gospel Coalition, is hosting an online fall bible study featuring Gloria Furman’s Missional Motherhood. The study begins September 29th. If you sign up here you’ll get a free teaching video every week for six weeks and you can use the bible study workbook by yourself, in a group, or just comment right on the Lifeway Women bible study posts.

Once I begin the study I’ll be publishing a response post every week pertaining to the video and workbook questions. Comment below if you plan to join me.

missional-motherhood

The Daily Work of the Spirit

Growing up in the church I was familiar with ministry nights. I also grew up experiencing the full gamut of Christian conferences and retreats. These events included extended times of prayer and worship accompanied by serene guitar strums and low lighting. Sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit felt as effortless as the melodies falling softly on my ears. These felt like special times when God would reveal himself to me in my stillness, and the Spirit would convict me of sin and help me set my sights on Christ.

These organized events can be refreshing and beneficial, but I’ve realized I should be seeking ministry from the Holy Spirit at all times. The Spirit’s ministry doesn’t have to be still, quiet, peaceful, and at a scheduled time. The Holy Spirit works in the mundane everyday moments of life — the nitty-gritty daily grind.

Read the rest at Desiring God >>

Glorifying God with Autism

By: Teresa Chen

In the summer of 2012 we welcomed our first child. We didn’t realize that he was behind most kids developmentally and struggled to meet many of his milestones. He received a diagnosis of autism at age three this past summer. Some signs seemed to point towards this direction but we were never quite sure.

“He’s quirky,” one of his therapists would say, “but I don’t think he’s autistic.” Also, because autism is a spectrum, there are many different experiences of it and children with the diagnosis don’t always look the same. I’ve wrestled with this diagnosis in the past. On one hand, he has many things about him that are “normal”. On the other hand, he’s struggled socially than most other kids. As we have walked down this path with our son, here are some things that God has shown us.

1. It’s completely ok to say it’s not ok.

Raising an autistic child is a form of real suffering, and it’s ok to say it’s hard. 1 Peter 1 says we have living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and yet are grieved by various trials. Life is not what it should be, and yet we hope in something better for all eternity.

Our son’s inflexibility and outbursts are a real part of our daily lives and are emotionally draining at times. During those times I’ve found freedom in admitting, “This is really hard!” without feeling guilty that it IS hard. As Christians, our lives are lived sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor 6:10). This sorrow helps us cling to Christ in our weakness, and that is a true gift.

2. A diagnosis is a tool, not an identity.

The word autism is a scary word in today’s world. It certainly was to us. Over time, we’ve realized that this diagnosis is both helpful and unhelpful. While it highlights that our child is different than others, it also has opened up doors to therapies and schools that have served our son a lot. Also, it helps those meeting our son for the first time to be more understanding and patient with him.

His diagnosis doesn’t change who he is, but is merely a tool that describes aspects of who he is. Autism doesn’t have the final say in who our son is, because Scripture paints a fuller story of his identity. In the world’s terms, a diagnosis traps him into saying, “I am autistic.” He instead can say, “I have autistic tendencies, but I am a son, an image bearer, of my Creator and King.”

3. God is not limited by autism.

As we prayed for God to provide children, God heard our cries and provided our son for us. He is the exact son that we were supposed to have. God didn’t make a mistake in giving him to us.

While it would be great if he could catch up with his peers, Scripture tells us that there is a greater “human-ness” than achieving academic or social success; being truly human is glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Our son is included in this calling. Our biggest desire for him is that he knows God and lives for Him in the context of who God made him to be. Faithfulness to God may look different for him than us, but we are called to raise him and guide him in figuring out what that looks like.

Recently, God graciously gave me a picture of how the Gospel includes people with autism. Another family’s teenage autistic son sat two rows in front of me at church and took part in communion. He was included in the kingdom of God and was remembering what his Savior had done! I was reminded that God isn’t limited by autism in His ability to save. I can look up from weakness and dream big for my son because his God is so big.

4We must all make room in our lives for people with disabilities. 

Raising our son has challenged me to make room in my life for other people who are different or hard to love. I am thankful for those who have been compassionate and welcoming to him, and have been humbled in my pride to want to love others like I would want people to love him.

Many times I just want to be comfortable and to be around people who are like me. However, true unity in Christ includes diversity in age, race, culture, socio-economic status, and physical and mental abilities. Through Christ we are united to His church, which transcends all boundaries and unifies us. We must make room for diversity in our lives and in the church, including those who are relationally difficult, because the Gospel is for such as these.

3 Gospel Truths to Teach My Sons About the City

I live in the hometown of the Fresh Prince of Belair: West Philadelphia. But unlike Will Smith, I wasn’t born and raised here. Yet like Will Smith, the playground IS where I spend most of my days — mainly because I have two little boys. Many young married couples leave the inner city when they start a family, but we did not.

Most parents are rightly concerned with sheltering their children. (Even though we need to be wary of over-sheltering.) But growing up in the city my sons will be exposed to things on a regular basis that a child living in the suburbs might never encounter. I view this as a positive thing and a tool I can use in my mothering. I’m determined to show my sons the Gospel in our city living. Here is how:

1.) Diversity

Our row home is between a halfway house and a convent. To my left the street numbers get higher and go deeper into West Philly. When I push the double stroller with my shining white children to this side of the neighborhood, we are the white dots amidst a dark sea of black faces. If I push my double stroller to the right of our row home the street numbers get lower and the face coloring changes. On this side of my neighborhood is a large Muslim population, complete with a mosque. Walking this way it’s not uncommon to see women shrouded in black fabric — even at times only revealing their eyes. There are many Indian and Asian eateries on this side, representing those cultural populations as well. Around the corner from my house is a Spanish owned “corner store” where my 3 year old dances to salsa music.

As I walk further down this side of my neighborhood it turns into University City. This part of West Philadelphia is more affluent, since it is the home of Drexel University and the Ivy League UPenn. In this area of the intellectual elite there are rows of sororities and fraternities. University City is also home to many hippies and hipsters, many of whom frequent our local Co-op — the place where I can’t determine the gender of the individual bagging my groceries.

We live in a small area of racial, religious, cultural, sub-cultural, and economic diversity. What can I possibly teach my sons about the Gospel here? Namely, that the Gospel is not just for American middle to upper class white people. The Gospel is no longer restricted to one ethnic community (the Jews), but through Christ’s death and resurrection it’s available to a wide range of people (the Gentiles). Heaven will be a co-mingling of races and cultures. The Gospel makes no room for racism or partiality to economic status; before the cross the ground is leveled for us all. Through Christ’s atoning blood the barrier between us all is broken, because when we are at peace with God we can be at peace with others.

As I walk my sons on either side of our neighborhood I can teach them about the Gospel: how God loves to redeem a diverse group of people to himself. He desires that none should perish, not even the androgynous person bagging our groceries who can receive a new identity in Christ.

2.) Comfort

The city can make people uncomfortable. Who hasn’t experienced a struggling conscience when passing by a smelly man in dirt-smudged baggy clothes holding a cardboard sign asking for money? The subway can be a place of strong discomfort when you’re packed in tightly in the heat of summer — holding on with one arm up. We try not to look each other in the eyes too closely, because God forbid we have to say hello.

When I first moved here I was uncomfortable with parallel parking, laundry mats, and the plethora of one way streets. My first year of city living was paid for in parking tickets. I had no idea what all the parking signs meant. Where do I pay for my parking spot? How long can my car sit in this space until I see that white paper on my windshield?

Sometimes my boys and I walk by people who scream at each other or a car zooms past blaring rap music laced with obscenities. Often times we run into the crazy man from the halfway house who mumbles under his breath as he shuffles by on the sidewalk. Talk about feeling uncomfortable.

And yet the Gospel is never about personal comfort. Jesus left his heavenly comforts to make a home in uncomfortable surroundings. His entrance into this world began cramped inside a womb, and he was laid in a wooden manger among the filth and foul odors of barnyard animals. We can tell Jesus felt uncomfortable in the Garden of Gethsemane as he wrestled with the most uncomfortable decision of all: dying on a Roman crucifix. And yet Jesus put all his comfort aside to literally take up his cross and die. I can remind my children of these truths on our next subway ride, because we must also be like Jesus and sometimes sacrifice comfort for the sake of the Gospel.

3.) Safety

Many women ask me if I feel safe here. Our family asks why we don’t move to the suburbs with our boys. At our previous residency our next door neighbor had a break in — encountering the robber face to face. Our current home was previously inhabited by a sexual predator who stole the house from its rightful owners. The bank put the house up for sale when the man was arrested and charged with fifty felonies. Recently a young woman was murdered in her apartment a few blocks from us, and there was a shooting on our Pastor’s street.

My family and I are never truly safe, and yet we are ultimately safe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The stories I see on the news show me that no matter the place of residency none of us are safe from physical harm or death. But we can be confident that in Christ our souls are eternally safe. Though we turn on our security system every night, I can teach my sons about the true security found in the Gospel. If they believe by faith in Christ crucified and risen from the dead they will be saved from the reign of their sin and the flames of hell.

By raising my children in the city I can teach them that the Gospel shines brightly in diversity, it is no respecter of personal comforts, and that our ultimate safety is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is good news to share on either side of the neighborhood.

The Hidden Ministry of Motherhood

In between “Mama, I want a snack” and baby squeals, with fists pounding on the high chair, I check my numbers online. How many views today on the blog? Did anyone comment on my Facebook post? Any new bloggers out there click the like button? Does anyone read this stuff besides my parents?

These thoughts seem innocent, but I know at times they come from a heart desiring notice and recognition for myself. I’m often baffled by this strong desire to be known and be seen. Maybe it’s because the role I play as a mom is a hidden one. My main ministry is confined to four walls. I don’t get a paycheck, time off, a promotion, or a raise like my husband. I don’t always get immediate results from my efforts, unless you want to count a shiny toilet and children clothed and fed as an accomplishment (trust me, it is).

This is not to say moms can’t work outside the home in various measures and get a paycheck somewhere, but the main role God calls us to as wives and mothers is our home and family. God made women to bear and nurture life and men to provide for and protect the lives of women and children. The heart disposition in these matters manifests itself in where our priorities lie.

The calling God places on women often seems like a hidden role compared to the men around us. And yet we are still equal before God in dignity and value…

Read more at desiringGod.org >>

Beautiful Interruptions

I have a blog post today over at Literary Mama. It’s about balancing my pursuit of writing — while being a stay at home mom — and how motherhood has impacted my writing in positive ways. Since I was young I felt the Lord calling me to write; I knew it was a gift he had given me to practice and use for his glory.

I went through a stage in my writing where I was lazy and didn’t want to write, but yet desired fame and recognition from it. God has used motherhood to mature me as a writer. It has been the perfect tool in God’s hands to humble me, and make me see that my writing is ultimately about him: for his glory and fame. I also now have a God-given delight in the process of writing, which I don’t believe I had prior to motherhood. I’m learning to take delight in my craft as God’s gift, while also making it about my ultimate delight in the giver of the gift.

Check out the post >>

The Worth of a Calling: Confessions of a Pastor’s Kid

By Janelle Garret

In Church culture there tends to be this idea that pastors and missionaries are the real heroes; giving their lives away for others and earning their crowns to cast at Christ’s feet. And while it is true that these vocations are holy, the Bible is clear that ANY work we have been called by God to do is holy, if it is done unto Him.

I grew up as a pastor’s kid (well, I still am a pastor’s kid actually), so I’ve seen the ins and outs of how a pastor can be given deferential treatment, treated with contempt, placed as a spectacle, or expected to be perfect; and when he fails everyone is disappointed. And the same would hold true with missionaries. The problem isn’t only that no human being should be idolized or held to unrealistic expectations, but it’s also the idea that certain callings from God are somehow more special or important than others. After all, Paul fixed tents, Peter fished, and Jesus was a carpenter before he started full time ministry. Were these jobs somehow less holy than when they were preaching full time?

Jeremiah 29:11 promises that the plans God has for us are to bless us. He doesn’t say some plans are better than others, or some plans are extra blessed. These plans are to give us a hope and future.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.”

It doesn’t say only certain jobs are for the Lord, nor does it say that some jobs serve the Lord better.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

The verse says commit whatever you do to the Lord, it does not specify a certain area of ministry for the commitment to be successful.

So why am I harping on this? Because I need the constant reminder that as a stay at home mom, my work is noble. Every time I wipe a runny nose, kiss away a tear, answer the 500th question of the day, feed a crying baby, vacuum a dirty floor, or make another meal, if I’m doing it for the Lord it will be blessed and successful, and it will be leading me to a future of hope. It is easy for me to lose sight of the true and noble calling that motherhood is when I’m faced with the mundane everyday. My father won’t be more blessed than me because his calling is somehow better than mine. My friends who are missionaries won’t somehow be better off in eternity than me.

This truth is not just for me, but for everyone who is working a job that they’ve been called to do. The lowly jobs of this culture, whether it’s simple tent making or carpentry, can be used as an opportunity to point to the one who infuses us with the grace and ability to be able to get the job done. We can’t do it perfectly, but we can point to the only one who ever perfectly accomplished what he set out to do. The road to Calvary meant he would die, yet for us it meant that our redemption would be fully and perfectly accomplished. That’s something worth telling my kids about. And it makes every mundane minute of my day worth something.


Floridian Janelle Garret spends every mundane minute with her little boys Silas (21 months) and Gideon (3 months). Before her job as a stay at home mom, she was a nurse for four years. She received her nursing degree from Adventist Health University.  In addition to being a stay at home mom, Janelle also teaches writing, science, and Bible at a homeschool co-op. She blogs regularly at her home church: Redeemer Church at Lake Nona. 

God’s Math for Good Mothering

Math is not my forte. As an English major in college I tried to get out of as many math credits as possible. It wasn’t always the concepts that frustrated me; it was the process. All the long complicated steps it took to solve one problem overwhelmed me.

I have one big math problem taking over my life right now, namely, potty training my two-year-old. I just want the problem solved, and don’t want to deal with the process. It’s hard to navigate all the failures, setbacks, and change. Yet, potty training is just a taste of the larger process of the Christian life. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says,

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I believe parenthood is one of the good works God has prepared for me to walk in. And yet, not all of my days feel all that good.

I get angry at my oldest son when he disobeys. I’m annoyed when the baby interrupts my morning cup of coffee. I fight to not view my children as inconveniences in my life. In summary, I am not the perfect parent. But I know one who is.

Read the rest of this post at DesiringGod.org >> 

Book Review of Mom Enough

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Are you mom enough? The title from a Time magazine cover above an image of a woman breastfeeding her 4 year old son. This was more fuel added to the already flaming mommy wars. The book, Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope, poses a different question: is God God enough?

This compilation of Desiring God blog posts written by eight different women answers these questions by saying moms are not enough, but God is enough. Tony Reinke says in the Editor’s Preface,

The aim of Mom Enough is not to boost a mother’s self-sufficiency, but to build her fearlessness as she finds her sufficiency outside of herself.”

Topics that are covered include biblical perspectives on the mommy wars, femininity, treasuring Christ, dependent parenting, anxiety, and the calling and mission of motherhood.

Each post is 2-4 pages of the nitty gritty issues from mothers desiring to live out what they are writing. It’s real, relatable, and refreshing. In the mundane and chaos of the everyday it’s great to pick up this slim book and be greatly encouraged. It definitely revived me throughout the day, challenged my outlook on certain areas in motherhood, and gave me fresh hope and vision to live for Jesus in my home.

Some of my favorite posts are Rachel Jankovic’s, “Motherhood is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank),” “Mommy Wars are Spiritual Wars,” by Carolyn McCulley, and “The Amazing Calling of Motherhood,” by Trillia Newbell. I’ll close with some of my favorite quotes from each post:

The modern mom doesn’t always like to be identified as a mother…First and foremost, we are united to Christ…But this doesn’t mean we must deny the significance of being a mother…We don’t need to shed our titles as moms, we leverage our titles for what they mean for the glory of Christ.” — Trillia Newbell

Your daily life may consist of dozens of repetitive tasks that feel mundane and irrelevant. This is absolutely not true! You are engaged in spiritual warfare. By bearing and nurturing life, you are reflecting the life-giving characteristics of our holy God. Made in his image, you are reflecting him when you care for the lives he has created.” — Carolyn McCulley

You represent everything that out culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another — and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.”  — Rachel Jankovic

3 Things I Can Learn From a 2 Year Old

I can be a child sometimes. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good when I have the childlike faith Jesus talks about in the gospels, but bad when I’m throwing an adult temper tantrum. Our children are a tool God uses to show us who we are and who he is. We are meant to instruct our children, but often times our children are teaching us. What on earth could I learn from a little person whose life experience equals two years? Here are just a few:

1.) I Am Finite

My son’s world is very small right now. His favorite people are mama, daddy, baby, and his grandparents. His knowledge of the world consists of home, church, the library, and the park. So far, the only pain life has inflicted on him has been scraped knees and a busted lip.

He tries to enter the adult world by eavesdropping on me and my husband’s conversations and then attempting to engage us about it. “What happened, mama?” is a recurring question throughout my day. He just wants to be involved; be in the know. Yet, he is limited in knowledge, experience, and understanding. This limitation is one reason hearing ‘no’ can be frustrating for a child.

As an adult I am finite and limited compared to God. I can’t grasp the “no’s” and the “why’s?” of life. I am still learning and growing in my understanding of God’s creation and God’s Word. My limitations should cause me to cry out, “Abba, Father! Help!” My loving father is infinite in wisdom and understanding and his power is limitless.

2.) I Try to be in Control

My son might be frustrated by the answer ‘no’, but he certainly loves the opportunity to say ‘no’ himself. When it’s time to go upstairs and get dressed, “no.” When it’s time for bed, “no.” When it’s time to eat dinner, “no.” A finite and limited little person trying to excise his will and take over the whole operation is an interesting concept.

My husband and I have better understanding at our disposal and we know what’s best for our son. We know he needs food, rest, and clothes. Our son thinks it’s a good idea to wrest control out of our fingertips, just like we try to do to God. Yet, God has an elevated view of our lives in light of all earthly and eternal history. Isn’t he qualified for the job?

We try to hold him hostage as we make our heist. We think there is freedom outside the boundary lines, but don’t realize freedom is found inside. It’s better to surrender to a traffic ticket than risk jail time, and it’s better to obey a traffic light than risk a deadly car crash. The Lord’s discipline and instruction is meant for our safety and protection; he knows without them we would be in bondage, or worse, dead. The good news is that God is always the one in control, we just deceive ourselves by thinking we control our little world.

3.) I Filter Life Through My Needs and Desires

My son is very big compared to his little world. So, his needs and desires come in high demand. He doesn’t stop and think how his actions and attitudes affect our home, he just surfs the waves of his current mood. His mind hasn’t learned to venture out into the world of others, because he is so preoccupied with his own.

This is a tough one for me, because my main occupation right now consists of round the clock service. I have to constantly place myself outside of my little world to sympathize with and meet the needs and desires of others. It’s hard to serve others in joy when I am consumed with myself. The time I get to fulfill my desires is always easier to enjoy.

I am like a child in many ways and God knows this. He knows I am finite and limited, I feebly try to control my own life, and I have a hard time thinking less about myself. Yet, knowing I am like a child is exactly what leads me to the possession of eternal life. Jesus has told us if we want to have eternal life we must have faith like a small child (Matthew 18:3.)

A child can have faith in a parent who loves them, guides them, and nurtures them. The source and object of our faith is secure and trustworthy. Once I humble myself as a small child I can rest in my savior’s lap, because he too once humbled himself in childish form.