How God is Glorified in the Failures of Motherhood

When I look back on my parenting I know I’ll have regrets, mainly, because I know I’m not perfect. After all, I’m always learning and changing. God is still forming Christ in me, so I’m still a work in progress. But how does knowing these things change my parenting now? I have a five-year-old, three-year-old, and an infant on the way. I haven’t traveled too far in this parenting business, but I’m already acquainted with my failures as a mom. I often thoughtfully ponder the question, “How can I fail for the glory of God and use it in my parenting?”

Read the three points at Servants of Grace >>

 

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If You Want to Live Truly, Learn to Die Daily

All year round the thorn of the gorse bush has been hardening and sharpening. Even in spring, the thorn does not soften or fall off. But at last, about halfway up, two brown furry balls emerge. They are small at first, but then they fully break out of last year’s thorn to flower into a ray of sunshine. The hardness gives way to a delicate beauty. The death of the thorn splits open to produce a blossoming resurrection of life. Death and resurrection.

We find the same pattern in our own lives.

I noticed this death-and-resurrection pattern when I became a mother. I had a traumatic birth experience, my full-term baby had to be admitted to the NICU, and he wouldn’t nurse. I battled through the difficult nursing experience I had with him for two weeks, was just about to give up, and then it worked out. When we got home from the hospital he would cry all night, and not go back to sleep, even when he was just fed. I would usually cry with him.

When evening time would come, feelings of dread would make my stomach sick because I knew what night would bring. On top of this, my body was trying to adjust to this new transition. My hormones launched me into depression. I would cry a lot for no reason, and I felt a constant loneliness and then guilt on top of it all for feeling like this when I had a new baby.

This was supposed to be a joyful time. But I felt like I was dying.

Read the rest at Desiring God >>

Parenting Perfection and What our Kids Need Most

Many mommy blogs and parenting articles are about what we can do (or should do) for our children. We read articles, blog posts, and books about making our kids more grateful, ways to show them more grace, ways to better train and discipline, and even ways we can better feed them. We want to be better mothers who do good works for our family. This is a good desire, and one we have evidence for from biblical principles and commands.

But many of these mommy blog posts miss our children’s greatest need. They need a greater good work than we can offer them; a good work of the heart that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Read the rest at ERLC >>

The Identity Beneath Your Identities

I was strongly rooted in my singleness. I was content in that season. I had grown up in the same city for thirteen years with many friendships built along the way.  I was a leader among the youth and singles in my church. But then I married my husband, which meant moving out of my parents house for the first time and leaving the rest of my family and friends to move out of state. When I moved from Orlando to Philadelphia I didn’t know anybody unless they were friends of my husband, and everybody knew me as his wife. I had also just graduated college and couldn’t find a good job in my new city. I experienced a multitude of quick transitions at once, and I had an identity crisis. I didn’t know what to do with my life except clean our one-bedroom apartment, wash and dry our clothes at the laundromat, grocery shop, and attempt cooking. Growing into a wife away from home was lonely.

When I did finally find a job I was pregnant two months after I started. I stayed home after our first son was born, and just when I was getting comfortable with the new me, my identity changed again. I had a traumatic birth experience and a battle with baby blues my first month home with my newborn. On top of that I was adjusting to the constant demands of a nursing baby who kept me up at night. I was being stripped of my independence, learning about true sacrifice and the strength of a selfless life.

My identity changed when I moved and became a wife and then a mom…

Read the rest at For the Church >>

Missional Motherhood Study: Week 4

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This last Monday in group we mainly talked about Gloria’s take on mothering being a ministry of the priesthood. She references the Old Testament priesthood. The old sacrificial system involved one man, the High Priest, entering the Most Holy Place once a year to make atonement for the people’s sins (and is own) using animal sacrifices. This was the basis for the old covenant God made with his people. It was the provision God enabled so his people could draw near to him in a limited way. But this old way of sacrifice was also a foreshadowing of God’s ultimate plan to make final atonement for his people through the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He instituted a better covenant and his sacrifice was more effective. Since Jesus was a perfect High Priest he could sacrifice himself, and his death would be sufficient for all eternity.

It is on this basis that now we each have direct and unlimited access to God through our great High Priest Jesus. And because of this we are all priests ourselves:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – 1 Peter 2:9

Now God calls each of us a priest; he qualifies us for the priesthood through Christ’s priesthood. This is where Gloria brings our everyday mothering into perspective as an act of the priesthood we are apart of. In her book, Gloria connects the incense offered by the priest in the tabernacle to the prayers of a mother being a fragrant offering to the Lord. We go before God on behalf of our children to offer up our incense of prayers. God has had mercy on our children by providing a priest in the next room offering up prayers for them. Mothering is part of our priesthood.

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 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 >>

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.

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.