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 >>

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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. 

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.

The One Parenting Tip we all Need

My Facebook feed has articles of top ten lists, methods, and practices of parents I’ve never met before. These methods and practices can be helpful, but as a parent I’ve realized there is one bottom line: I’m a sinner in need of grace.

It seems God invented parenthood to show us how much we are sinners in need of grace. All parents have this in common. This is where comparisons stop and the playing field is leveled.

How I’m Like a Two Year Old

Recently, the Lord reminded me of this simple truth as my sin was laid bare in front of a 2 1/2 year old. My husband and I have been attempting to train our toddler son to not throw fits when he doesn’t get what he wants. We have been telling him it is anger. In the midst of dealing with my son’s anger on an almost daily basis the Lord has made this a training tool for me as well.

You see, I’m angry too. I might not show it the same way as my son by hitting, screaming, and throwing, but my heart is angry. I’m angry about dealing with a tantruming toddler. I’m feeling worn down and discontent.

During one of these angry fits my son was throwing around plastic Easter eggs, because I needed to check on something cooking in the kitchen. In turn, I got angry and impatient. In that moment I saw myself as a reflection of my son. We’re in the same boat here; sinners in need of God’s grace. So, I gathered my son into my arms and hugged him.

I told him, “Mommy gets angry too and I’m sorry. You know who can help us not be angry? Jesus.”

My son told me he was sorry. Then I told him I loved him and we needed to love like Jesus loves us.

When I am Weak He is Strong

I’m seeing how weak I really am, but confident that His strength is made perfect in weakness. I can run to my Father and ask for help to love like him. My heavenly Father does not grow weary of me, and when I sin he is not impatient or unloving; because of Christ he loves me and does not deal with me in anger. But I never love as perfectly as he loves me. Yet, He will answer when I call. He knows I need more than the love of a mother. I need the love of Christ.

The love of Christ absorbs sin and returns love. He loves unconditionally. He is the Great Shepard who lays down his life for the flock. He does this regardless of how we behave. His love does not change, because He does not change. When I throw tantrums His love embraces me and says, “I know you’re a sinner in need of grace.”

Quiver of Blessing

“Whew, just looking at all of your children makes me tired.”

“Are you finished having children?”

“Were any of them an accident?”

My sister has 6 children ages 2-13. She is no stranger to wide-eyed staring and awkward (sometimes rude) questions and remarks. Her 4 year old might be throwing a fit in Target and she’s guaranteed glances, but even if all 6 offspring are calm the staring is inevitable. Most people can’t understand why she would have more than 2 children. It’s societal sterilization.

Recently, the staring and awkward remarks have spilled into discrimination. My sister and her family are not welcome at their local hair salon, because customers complained about her children. They made no major disturbances, except the disturbance of being children. Another family with only one child is still welcome at the salon.

Anti-Family Culture

Discrimination has been a hot topic for awhile now. Whether it’s racial, gender, age, or even sexual orientation, people are being discriminated against. But one group is missing from this list of discriminated folk: mothers. Maybe in some cases discrimination is too strong a word, sometimes it’s just a lack of public support and encouragement. Most times it’s a public disdain for children.

Children are not welcome at restaurants, they aren’t welcome on airplanes, and any type of adult gathering, unless they don’t talk and don’t move. If they talk and move too much, we as parents will get the stare down. Of course we want to be considerate of others and teach our children about social behavior in public settings. Even in the midst of doing these things, children are not perfect, they are still learning; just like us. Societal grace for parents and children is in want of supply.

Jesus Loves Children

This unwelcoming attitude is opposite of Jesus. Luke 18:15-17 says,

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'”

For the disciples, children were not welcome to see Jesus. The disciples treated the children as a hindrance, hence Jesus says, ‘do not hinder them.’ Jesus does not ogle children, he welcomes them with open arms. He even uses them as an example. Jesus dishes up some humility to counteract his disciples arrogance.

Jesus was basically saying, ” If you want to be my disciple, then learn a thing or two from these children. Learn humility and faith; the complete trust a child has in his parent.”  To enter the kingdom of God this is what we must do today; humble ourselves as children and put our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Children are a Blessing

Much of our society’s disdain for children stems from the wrong perspective. If we aren’t careful as mothers we can fall prey to this mindset as well. If we aren’t fighting to view our children as a blessing, then we will eventually grow to disdain them. Our culture tells us children rob us of ‘me time’ or time alone as a couple. Children ruin our bodies, we can’t go anywhere or do anything, we’re limited, restricted, inconvenienced, trapped!

Yet, the Bible says we are blessed.

“Behold, children are a heritage from The Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” – Psalm 127:3-5

Yes, children ruin our bodies, we don’t have as much time to ourselves or time with our spouse, and yes, we might not be able to do everything we did before we had them, but we need to fill our quivers with much blessing. This season of parenthood is only one part of our entire lives, and then our children grow up. Children are not an inconvenience if we view them as a blessing. They make our lives so much fuller.

As married couples we grow in love for each other in ways that only parenthood can nurture. We even grow in our relationship with Christ. Children can teach us many things about ourselves; they can help us grow in character. These are just a few of the many blessings children bring.

Blessings can be Hard

Children don’t seem like a blessing sometimes, because it is hard to deny ourselves and put someone else first. Our sin gets in the way of viewing children as a blessing. Lately, I’ve been having these inner pity parties for myself, and thinking about all the things I could do if I had more alone time;  thinking how nice it would be to have a cup of coffee without a 16 month old climbing on me and demanding my attention. I quickly realized I was being discontent and making ‘me time’ more important than it was.

Nothing is wrong with having ‘me time’, but it is always easier to chose and want that than it is to deny ourselves. It’s easier to listen to the culture that tells us we are worth it, and deserve to pamper ourselves. All moms need a break for sure, but if we live for those breaks we will be discontent and forget how many blessings we have at home.

So now, I drink my coffee while reading and playing with my son. I’m very blessed to have him, and embrace these coffee moments as such. My sister once sent me a picture of all 6 of her children sitting around their large kitchen table. She said, “Look at all my blessings.” If only all the public gawkers knew what they were missing.

Heaven is Our Bucket List

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven.  Not because I’ve experienced any recent loss, but just from thinking about writing. It’s been over a month since my last post (a combination of the holidays and lack of motivation), and it made me wish I had more time to write. This catapulted into thoughts like, “Will I ever write more than this?” Will I write a book someday?” “Or just get published somewhere a little more noteworthy?”

Before I descended into despair, a new thought sprouted up and choked out the others.  The thought of heaven.  My thoughts were grounded too much on this Earth.  I was believing this life was my only chance at…well, life. My death isn’t the end for me or for my writing. I’ll have all of eternity to focus in on my craft. Maybe I’ll even be better at it in some ways? I’m sure being without sin has its perks.

Heaven and Motherhood

Thinking about heaven has not only affected the way I think about writing, but the way I think about motherhood. There is so much of eternity wrapped up in rearing children. One of the most frustrating things about being a parent is working hard and not always getting immediate results or rounds of applause. We might see some fruit from our parenting labors in this lifetime, but many we won’t know or see until heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Every sacrifice for our children, every teaching moment, every loving word and action, every time we grow in character through parenting is an eternal thing. We’re building an unseen eternal kingdom in our homes. It’s much more glorious than snotty noses and poopy diapers. We might not hear shouts of approval and rounds of applause now for every mundane task we do, but in heaven we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.

Dream About Heaven

It’s important to dream about heaven. To dream about what we will do and accomplish there. Every dream and aspiration can be met in heaven if we can’t do it on Earth. Who needs a bucket list with this kind of guarantee?

Heaven is hope for the weary mom. It’s the ultimate comfort, because every trial and disappointment we face points to something better. It should make us groan and long for heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:1-2 says, “For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.”

Every negative thing we feel or know on this Earth turns into a positive in heaven.  Every hardship is a blessing if it makes us long for heaven. Are you discouraged by your lack of progress in the Christian faith? Groan and long for heaven. Where you will be fully perfected in the way God already sees you through Christ. Do you feel distant from God? Does he seem silent? Groan and long for heaven where you will never feel this way again. You will finally see his face and feel his presence forever.

Heaven is for the sinner saved by grace, it’s for the mom who is Queen of the mundane, and it’s for the artist who needs more time and opportunity than this life can offer.

Close to the Heart of Christ

When I was younger I wanted to be a missionary. I had idealistic dreams of living somewhat rustically, learning a new language, and being in a far off land sharing and living the Gospel everyday. I went on three short-term mission trips, read many books on missions and missionaries, and went to hear missionary’s speak. Overseas missions work still has a place in my heart, but the Lord rerouted my life and kept whispering in my ear along the way.

Every time I picked up a brochure about overseas missions work I felt a gentle nudge of no from the Lord. I didn’t understand, but I listened. He kept showing me hints of His plan for me instead. The hints pointed in the direction of being in the ministry, but not in the way I imagined it. My part would be a supportive role; a hidden role at times. The Lord pointed me in the direction of marriage, but I was afraid of my gifts being squelched. I guess I liked the limelight more than I thought. Maybe I wanted a little more recognition.

No luck there. I finally met someone and the Lord smashed all my preconceived ideas of marriage and invited me to follow him, my Shepherd, into the uncharted territory of love and commitment. I put up a decent fight, but God is a much better fighter than I; he always wins. He wins, because he loves me and knows what’s best for me…I just needed to believe it.

My Unseen Ministry Opportunity

I married this ‘someone’ and realized this was my ministry: to support and help my husband in his already established ministry. His business is also a ministry by spreading the Gospel through art and music. We even went on a music tour/missions trip together last summer to Poland. This summer he will be going with a few other men to tour Europe on an outreach.

My ministry has also expanded to motherhood. I’m on the greatest mission field in my home as my husband and I start a family. I have the greatest influence on my son (and future children.) I’m not just my son’s mother. I’m his teacher, counselor, trainer, and evangelist. I have the opportunity to share Jesus with my son every day for the rest of his life. I get a unique opportunity to mold a human life. Right now it’s just nursing, diapers, and naps, but soon he will understand more and I can slowly teach and share with him. I am still living the Gospel every day.

I was naive to think my only way of living and sharing the Gospel was overseas. Every day I lay down my life for my son by changing another poopy diaper. Jesus washed his disciples feet, I wash my son’s bottom; both an act of humility and servant hood. By putting my son first I’m showing him and others that Jesus put others first by dying on the cross. He did not think of his own convenience or comfort and neither should I. Every day I deny myself these two things, I’m pointing to something much greater than I.

Mother Missionary

Make no mistake motherhood is a mission field. It is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard to think of others first and it’s hard to have almost the same routine everyday, scrub the same toilet every week (or more), wash the same dishes every day, do the same laundry every day, and the list goes on. My ministry is as hard and rigorous as training to be an overseas missionary. It’s hard, because it’s refining and character building for me. It’s hard to not always get recognition or a medal for what I do, but that’s part of my ministry as a wife and mom. I’m serving behind the scenes to make others great. This lifestyle is as close to the heart of Christ as one can get.