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

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The Seesaw of the Christian Sub-Culture

A seesaw can never be equally balanced on its own. You either go up or down in relation to the weight on the other end. The only way for a seesaw to stay balanced is for a person to hold one end and sustain the full weight. Likewise, the Christian subculture is on a constant seesaw. We go high on one end and then realize we can’t get down. Sometimes we plummet to the bottom to realize we are stuck. Now how do we get back up?

Whether it’s the dating world, roles in marriage, how-to parenting articles, views of sin and grace, or entertainment choices, it’s hard for Christians to keep things in balance. Facebook feeds put this seesaw effect on full display with an all-in or out approach to current issues facing the world and the Church.

Lots of Sin Talk

I grew up in a church where sin was talked about a lot. Repenting of sin and seeking help and change are vitally important to the Christian life. God commands us to be holy as he is holy. Paul talks about not continuing in sin just because we are saved by grace (Romans 6:1-4.) Jesus spared an adulterous woman from punishment who, by the law, deserved to be stoned. Jesus didn’t condemn her, but he did tell her to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11.)

The problem with making just sin the central focus of our Christianity is being stuck at the bottom of the seesaw. We end up seeing no way up. All the confrontation and change seeking can wear you down after awhile. There ends up being no hope and no seeming way of escape. This hyper focus on our sin can lead to legalism, doubt, depression, and just plain unloving thoughts and attitudes toward others.

So, how can we get some leverage here? Well, we don’t want to put too hard a weight on the other side either, then we’ll be up too high with no way down.

The Other Side of the Seesaw

I’ve seen another camp of Christians overcompensate for this strong view of sin by only talking about the love of Jesus in a way that is too permissive of real sin. This camp of followers tend to view Jesus as their boyfriend, their feel-good therapist, or an anti-depressant pill. Talking about Jesus’ love and grace without confronting sin is their happy mirage that makes them feel good about themselves. This can lend itself to licentiousness, apathy, and lethargy in our real and biblically defended battle against sin.

Finding the Balance

How can we stay in balance then? It seems like an impossible feat. It’s possible when we look to the one who holds the seesaw and makes it level for us. Jesus lives the balance; he declared perfect balance at the cross. There was perfect justice by taking our place as the sacrifice for sin needed to satisfy the holy wrath of God. God hates our sin and loves his holiness. No place tells us we are a great sinner better than the cross. This was the ultimate confrontation.

Yet, justice was balanced by perfect grace, love, and mercy. We didn’t deserve what Jesus did, which makes his costly grace that much more amazing. We were not worth the sacrifice, but God sacrificed his son because he is the worthy one. Worthy of all praise and devotion for displaying the perfect balance towards us. God showed anger and wrath against our sin, but didn’t kill us for it as needed, instead he threw the blame on himself out of love and mercy to afford us his grace.

We Need Both Sides

We can’t fully appreciate and understand God’s love apart from his wrath against sin. Likewise, we can’t fully hate and fight our sin until we see the power of God’s costly grace at work in us. Gazing at the beautifully worthy grace of Christ in the midst of our sinful unworthiness is what should spur us onto a life of godliness. He loves us in spite of our sin, because his wrath has been satisfied through Christ’s death. His kindness at the cross leads us to a life of repentance and faith.

Focus in Balance

We find ourselves out of balance when we focus on ourselves too much. We can hang low on the seesaw and get bogged down with looking at our sin, but we are still self-focused at the top when we use God’s love as a way to gratify ourselves. We make the cross about us when it is really about God. The cross is the focal point of God’s revelation of himself to us. We gain a proper understanding of ourselves when we understand who God is at the foot of the cross. Our eyes need to be focused on the one holding the seesaw for us. We need to ask him for help when we get out of balance. Because of the cross he can give us the sustaining help we need to fight sin in light of his grace and love for us. God is perfectly balanced in all of his attributes, let’s avail him of help to do the same.

Weak, Needy, and Perfect

Motherhood is the mirror reflecting my neediness. From my firstborn son’s cries after an hour and a half of me pushing in labor to postpartum depression and sleepless nights, and now to juggling an inquisitive non-stop talking 2 year old with his crawling 8 month old little brother, is the most needy for the Lord’s grace I’ve ever felt.

I wasn’t prepared with my first son to experience the constant stripping away of my selfishness and freedoms. My life was wrapped around the little finger of my not so sleepy baby. Dying to myself was like trying to bend wood. Would it break? It did, and it was a glorious thing. Because in the breaking I realized I was weak and needed to draw near to my savior.

In Desperate Need

Now my firstborn son is almost 3 and he is still showing me how weak and needy I am. He craves knowledge, so much so that his questions are on repeat all day and night. Even when my husband gets home I’m still the soundboard my son mainly uses for his questions and talking.

Lately, when I tell my son to wait before I can do something for him his request will be made known over and over again until it’s fulfilled. Of course, when he does this he won’t take into account when mommy is busy, tired, or overheated and exhausted from pushing him in a double stroller 12 blocks after story time at the library. If only my toddler were more sensitive to my needs. But he’s not, and it’s not his fault.

I wish I could say I always respond to my son with a sweet and sunny disposition, but I don’t. Left in my own strength I can raise my voice, get irritated and snap at him, and just plain lose patience. This grieves me, because I love my son. I always thought a mother’s love for her child was the strongest love there is, but it’s not, because it’s tainted with sin. It’s not enough. But Christ’s love is enough for both me and my son. It’s stronger than my natural mother’s love and stronger than my sin. I desperately need Christ’s love to cover my daily sin and I need to ask for help to love like Christ.

The Perfection in My Imperfection

Christ’s love shines brightest when I realize my love is weak. Weakness and neediness in motherhood is absolutely perfect, because his power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9.) God uses me best when I realize I’m imperfect and need his perfection. God also gets the most glory in this situation, because I am left with no reason to boast in anything.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says,

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

I am the one who is foolish, weak, low, and despised. Yet, I am chosen. God, through Christ, has set his affections on me and can give me the strength to daily love my son like Christ loves me.

‘Me Time’ Interrupted

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1:30 PM. Both of my boys take a 2 hour nap. Glory glory hallelujah’s echo through my mind as I prepare my pour-over coffee in solitude with a book ready in hand. This is my ‘me time’ as other cyber moms call it. A few hours without poopy diapers, constant questions and demands, playing blocks, and singing the ABC’s for the 100th time. I absolutely love all of those things (sometimes), but loving them doesn’t stop me from basking in my peaceful reverie. Until something changes.

Once I hear the baby cry for the second time or the toddler come out of his room, woken up prematurely, then I really love my ‘me time.’  Gratefulness turns to greediness. “Can’t I ever get a break around here?” is a question I’ve asked myself many times in my head. Sometimes it’s like my own personal mini raincloud appears over me and I grumble and complain to myself. The constant interruptions can get tiring. I only have a small window of time to look at my iPad, read a few pages in my book, or even write this blog post in one sitting. I’m like Gollum and this time is my precious.

Making a Mess with our Sin

We need a little time to ourselves (especially moms.) Those little breaks we get can be the fuel we need to keep going. So, in and of itself ‘me time’ is good, but the problem lies in our evil little hearts. We tend to soil good things, like spilling red pasta sauce on a white shirt. ‘Me time’ can become an idol. It can become a demanding god we must serve and bow down to everyday, thereby taking the place of the one true God. When ‘me time’ expresses itself in greediness, selfishness, and pride then we’ve put time to ourselves on a pedestal.

Doing our Job with Joy

I’m guilty of this. I selfishly don’t want to be interrupted by a crying baby. I pridefully demand my right to have time to myself, and I become greedy over how and when I want to spend my time. Basically, I become an old curmudgeon. I forget being a mom is my number one job, but I really forget that it should also be a joy.

That’s my problem; without Christ’s help I lack joy in the mundanity of motherhood. In the book, Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope (Affiliate Link), two ladies capture this sentiment well:

Christine Hoover says,

“The everyday question asks not just about my duties, but also about my attitude. Will I joyfully pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of my children?”

Gloria Furman says,

“By God’s grace, I can resist the temptation to treat my children as interruptions to my will for my life. Instead, God enables me to treat my children as precious gifts he is using to shape me into his image according to his will for my life.” 

Motherhood should not be a pattern of grin and bear it situations, but motherhood should be marked by joy and delight in God’s little gifts to us. Little gifts who love to interrupt us.

4 Ways to not be Busy

Part 4 of the Christian Thinking series. 

I am woman.

I am invincible. 

I am tired. 

A saying borrowed from a 1970’s song succinctly states a dilemma still facing today’s women. The feminist movement has always told us we are strong and powerful and can do anything we set our minds to do. Then why are we so exhausted? We throw around the phrase, “I’m busy,” like a boomerang. It feels like we are playing a broken record on repeat trying to get the same things done every day, but it doesn’t end; and does anything really get done?

This is the mentality of our western culture — a hurried frenzied mess. We pop stress like pain pills. If you aren’t running like mad through this labyrinth of busyness like everyone else then you are boring or lazy, right? This way of thinking is so wrong, but it’s such a strong cultural pressure pushing on us that it’s hard not to give in.

As women we think we can never do enough. If we choose to stay home with our kids then we feel like we should make up for not having another job title by staying super busy around the house. Whether a working mom, stay at home mom, or a single career woman, there is always pressure out there to do more than we are already doing. How should we think through this false cultural way of thinking and replace it with a Christian way of thinking?

1.) You can’t do it all

It’s hard to admit it. It’s humbling to realize we are actually weak people in desperate need of strength from God. I’ve been realizing this lately. I’ve always struggled with self-sufficiency and pride. When my husband goes out of town or works late a few nights in a row I think I can handle everything on my own. A toddler, a baby, and a house to take care of can’t be that hard, right? Then when I try to do too much with him gone I become burnt out, stressed, and exhausted. I realize I actually need a lot of help.

We aren’t mean’t to do everything on our own. God gave us a support system through his church body and our own family unit. Ask for help more often from your husband, friends, family, and most importantly God. Just admitting you can’t do it all is the starting line that frees you to run the race. God says he gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. So, humble yourself, ask God for help more often, and he will pour his grace on you.

2.) You can’t please everyone

The only one we need to please is God. Ask yourself, with the season I’m in right now what is God calling me to do? What would please him? It should be a very simple answer.

For example, with the season of life I’m in right now my calling is to serve my husband and children. Right now, for me this looks like staying home and taking care of our children, our house, and preparing food for us. It’s ok if I want to add a few other activities to my plate that I enjoy or need to do, but my top priority and main focus are my husband and children and taking care of our home. If anything else infringes on that priority then I need to evaluate my options and say no to some things.

Nancy Leigh Demoss says,

“Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God’s prioritites for each season of life.”

3.) Be intentional

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said,

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

Why is it barren? Because being busy just for the sake of being busy lacks purpose and focus.

God redeemed us to give us purpose. Our purpose on this earth is to know him more, make him known to others, and to bring him glory in whatever lot he gives us at the moment. This is the purpose of every true Christian man and woman. God’s Word gives us guidelines for other ways we have purpose in this life and how we can please him. His Word can help us be intentional, because it speaks to every season of life.

Jesus is a true example of intentionality. He came to this earth as a man with one purpose, one focus, one intent, and that was to bring salvation to mankind. He was always about doing his father’s will. Every miracle and every teaching in his earthly ministry had one focal point, and that was the fulfillment of the Gospel through himself. The miracles and teachings were just tools he used to achieve his one mission.

After 33 years of ministry, Jesus was able to say,

“I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.” John 17:4

His one purpose on earth was fulfilled. It was finished. What work has God given you to do right now? You can go to bed with an unfinished to do list if you finished the work God had for you for the day.

4.) Rest

Among the agenda of Jesus’ ministry he always went off alone to pray and think. We can’t do the work God has for us without rest. At the top of the list is spiritual rest. We have to make time to study and meditate on God’s Word and pray often.

Also, make time to exercise other forms of rest. Nap. Just sit, think, and read. Do something creative with your hands. Take a walk. Learn to be ok with being alone with yourself and with God. Learn to be still and quiet.

If the season you are in right now does not lend time for more specific areas of rest then just focus on spiritual rest.

Much of the barren busyness in our culture is an unconscious tactic to fill the empty void inside us. This is not how it should be for us as Christians. We are already fulfilled in Christ, we don’t need an endless amount of appointments and activities to make us feel important or worth something. We have only one life on this earth, let’s not waste it being busy.

Part 5 >>