How Can I Emulate The Life Of Jesus In My Season Of Motherhood?

It was a cool fall afternoon. A precious friend had taken time out of her busy schedule to stop by for a visit. It was a refreshing break from our daily responsibilities to relax, drink coffee, and talk.

She is the mother of 3 children, ages 7 and under. I listened as she honestly shared about the challenges she faces in her season of motherhood. As the conversation continued, we began to evaluate the popular message that many are adopting as their philosophy of motherhood.

Sadly, the popular message tells us that moms need to:
    • Follow their dreams
    • That there is more to life than this
    • That life should be an adventure

My friend shared how she once whole heartily followed this popular message and that it actually affected how she viewed her children, “Gina,” she said, “when I had that perspective on mothering, I was frustrated and discontent. I yelled at my children all the time, because I resented them. I was encouraged to hear her share how God is changing her attitude towards her children. Yes. Being a mom is still hard for her, but she has a new perspective. God is changing her and giving her a fresh and different motivation for serving her children.

Like any other season, the season of mothering small children is temporary. And if we spend that short amount of time being pulled in multiple directions, we will miss out on the few moments that God intended for us to be there to live the gospel and nurture our relationships with our children. No matter the season of life you may find yourself in, your calling is the same. God’s Word tells us that we should observe and emulate the life of Jesus

  1. He was compassionate. Matthew 9:36 
  2. He was focused. He had a mission and didn’t get sidetracked.
  3. He was a servant. Mark 10:45 
  4. He was kind and selfless.
  5. He was submissive to His Father’s will when He came to earth knowing he would eventually be sacrificed on the cross. He knew that dying on the cross was the only payment His Father could accept for our salvation. Matthew 26:39
  6. He was obedient to the Father’s will. Hebrews 5:8; Hebrews 4:15. 
  7. He was intimate with His followers, spent time with them, taught them, and helped them focus on what was eternal.
  8. He was intimate with His Heavenly Father. He prayed to Him regularly, listened, obeyed, and cared about God’s reputation.

Sacrifice. Losing our own lives for the life of another.  Finding fulfillment in Him alone and being conformed to His image. Imitating Jesus. That is how Biblical motherhood should look. And if we are faithful to our calling in the early years, God works in us a depth and a closeness to Him that will be used to carry us through the seasons yet to come, and bring the most glory to Him.

If you have the privilege of being a mom, your calling is to put certain things on hold (like careers, or giftings) or scale way back TEMPORARILY, in order to invest in the mission field of home and children. This life is not an “adventure”, but should be a daily, living sacrifice. We don’t need to “find ourselves”, but to find God in our daily living. Death to self is what we are called to, even death to some of our own desires for a season, in order for God to accomplish what He wants to in our lives and the lives of our children.

ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:
    1. Can I take the philosophy of motherhood that I am living, hold it up next to the example of how Christ lived his life, and find they look the same?
    2. Is the philosophy I am living consistent with what the scriptures tell me my life should look like in light of the gospel?

I Love You and I Like You!

There is a person in my life who can make me laugh more than anyone else I know – that person is my son. He has always had a wonderful sense of humor. He lives life outside of the box, is comfortable in his own skin, and refuses to conform to what others say he should be. I love that about him. I don’t  have to wonder where he stands on anything because he tells it like it is.

Sadly, there was a time when I didn’t see any of these God given qualities for what they were. I listened to well meaning voices that told me how a young boy should act, look, and talk. Many of the little boys around him were dressed “just so”, sat still in church, and were told they were foolish when they joked around. Being a young mom who desired that my son learn to honor God, I listened to those around me and began my mission of trying to make my son behave the way others said he should. Sadly, in my quest of trying to trying to conform my son to what I thought was best, I began to stifle the unique gifts that he been given.

Through a number of circumstances God graciously opened my eyes to my own foolishness and helped me to see the young man he had lovingly created my son to be. He helped me understand that my precious son was in a process of growth and that the attitude of  his heart was what most important – not his performance.

 “A joyful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

I am so grateful that God changed the way I viewed my son and how He taught me to accept him for how he has been “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Caleb’s personality is an amazing gift and has brought so much life into our home. God has enabled me to walk along side him in his process of growth and guide him rather than having to constantly correct him.

Some might see his untucked shirt, that he likes to joke around, that he does not fit a particular mold, and they may think  that he doesn’t measure up to what they think the standard should be. But that doesn’t matter to me anymore. I see the person God has made him to be, have seen so much growth, and can truly celebrate who he is.

Yes, he has some foolishness in his heart. We all do!  But he is not characterized by being foolish. He is a very submissive and  tender young man. If I could do it over again, I would choose to seek God and His wisdom on how to relate to my son, rather than listenting to people and their opinions. I would have gotten to know my son for who he is and not tried to hold him up to a standard that someone decided was right. I am so thankful that God opened my eyes, changed ME, and that my son and I have a good relationship now. Caleb has helped me to loosen up, not take everything so seriously, and has added a fun dimension to our family. He has also helped me to learn how to be comfortable being who God made ME to be.

It’s important that we get to know our children as individuals and encourage them to be who God made them to be. It’s one of the best gifts we will ever give them. I am so grateful that God brought me to my senses before it was too late. He is so merciful!

6 Ways to Encourage Your Children to be Who God Made Them to Be

  1. Regularly bring to their attention that God has made them with amazing gifts and abilities.
  2. Tell them that the gifts and abilities they have been given can be used for God’s glory. (Even a wonderful sense of humor!)
  3. Strive to point out evidence of God’s grace in their lives and tell them when you see God working in them.
  4. If you sense it is time to bring something to their attention that they need to work on, make sure they understand that we are all in a process of growth and that we are in this together. We don’t want to leave them discouraged or feeling overwhelmed.
  5. Accept them for who they are, for how God has made them, and be sure to communicate that to them. (Ask for forgiveness when you fail to do this.)
  6. AND…Tell them that you love them and you like them!

Will Complementing Your Children Make Them Prideful?

She was a tall, thin woman in her mid 20’s. Her dark eyes were complimented by her long, dark, naturally curly hair that spilled loosely around her shoulders. I was sitting next to her mother when the young woman arrived to pick up her toddler. She hesitantly walked over to where we were. The two women exchanged a brief, strained conversation, after which the young woman called for her son to join her and quickly left. They never made eye contact. “Your daughter is beautiful!”  I exclaimed to the young woman’s mother. “Oh, really?” she answered, “Her father and I made it a point to never tell her she was beautiful. We didn’t want her to become prideful. We feel it’s wrong to compliment our children or tell them they are beautiful.”

I was stunned!

I knew their story.  They had created a very strict, rules oriented home. From a very young age the young woman was not given much encouragement or affirmation unless it was related to how she was supposed to act, think, or feel according to the Bible. She graduated from high school, got a job, and began attracting the kind of attention and  affirmation that she had never received at home. She married a man her parents did not approve of, after becoming pregnant with her son, and she now lived with the cloud of her parent’s disapproval hanging over her head.

The young woman’s mother – now a grandmother – had done what she thought was right. But I left that conversation feeling very sad, resolving not to follow in her footsteps. My children were very young at the time and I couldn’t imagine NOT encouraging them in any way possible!

Did not complementing her children really keep them from becoming prideful? I don’t think so. In fact, I would venture to say that it did the opposite. Not acknowledging the young woman’s physical beauty resulted in her failure to see that beauty from God’s perspective: as a gift. What could this well meaning mom have done differently? Would a different approach have  guaranteed her daughter’s better life choices? There’s no way of knowing. But this sad story did cause me to evaluate how we might approach encouragement and praise within our family.

4 Ways to Praise Your Children to the Glory of God

  1. As parents, we are called to be humble, authentic believers who live out the gospel before our children. It is our calling to nurture, instruct, guide, and love; to point out God’s goodness and the truth about who and what they are (the good and the bad), and to share the gospel with them.
  2. We can help our kids learn how to deal with the pride that is already in their hearts  (Proverbs 22:15 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”; Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners; Genesis 8:21 declares, “…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”) and how to handle the lies of our culture that might feed into the pride that is present in all of our hearts from birth. Teaching our children how to fight the fight, and letting them know that their parents are fighting the fight as well, will help equip them to see things from God’s perspective.
  3. God has created every single aspect of our being to be used to bring Him glory. We are made in His image, which means we are a reflection of Him physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually, and in our gifts and abilities. All of these facets reveal God’s goodness and are gifts from His hand. They can cause us to focus on Him with a grateful heart, if we see them from His perspective.
  4. We gift affirmation to our children because God has made them beautifully and uniquely. The act of pointing out these aspects of our children can be used to glorify God for his good works. I’m not talking about flattery or “building self-esteem,”  nor do I mean feeding the prideful desire for human praise. I am talking about praising the work that God has done and is doing in another person. Praising people to the glory of God.

I wonder if that precious young woman would have made different choices if she had been encouraged and affirmed as she was growing up. If she had learned how to handle the attention she would receive outside of the four walls of her home and church, learned that she was created in the image of God, and that her beauty and abilities were a reflection of HIS image, maybe things would have been different. I don’t know. But ignoring the fact that she was beautiful didn’t make her beauty non-existent!  All it did was make her feel like she wasn’t anything special, instead of equipping her to point others to God.

I can think of nothing better than pointing my children to God and His goodness, or expressing gratitude for how God has made them and what He is doing in them. It enables them to see God’s great work, but also helps them to see Him as the source of every good gift. I am looking for every opportunity I can to encourage my children in this way, so that they are refreshed and so that God receives the glory He deserves.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Tell your children that they are  beautiful – inside and out! Tell them so that they will know it full well!

Ahhhh! Triumph!

The setting is a quiet waiting room. Sitting in a hard plastic chair, I patiently wait for my turn to be seen by the doctor. Listening intently for my name to be called, I am surrounded by people who are reading magazines, watching the news, or staring at thier phones. Suddenly an elderly woman, her white hair pulled back in a bun, enters the room. Her thick European accent abruptly breaks the silence. “Have you seen my glasses?” she asks. She is a woman on a mission! Everyone quietly accommodates her as she slowly makes her way around the room, stopping at every seat to bend over and look under the chair.

After completing her thorough search, she turns around and slowly hobbles to the receptionist’s desk, “Have you seen my glasses?” she asks “No. I’m so sorry.” replies the receptionist. Suddenly a voice emerges, “Are these your glasses?” A young man who works at the front desk holds up a pair of sunglasses. The woman eagerly walks over, grabs the glasses, looks at them intently and says, “You found them!”

Then she lifts them over her head and exclaims, “AHHHH! TRIUMPH!!!”

As I watched this scenario unfold, I knew that I would write about it. I love the ordinary drama of life and how God uses it to remind, teach, and challenge me, enlarging my heart for others and for Himself.

That precious elderly woman, with her white hair and a thick European accent, captivated me. She completely drew me into her personal crisis. I don’t know about the other people in the room, but when she found those glasses I wanted to stand up and applaud! I wanted to rejoice with her!  They had been lost. Now they were found. Her day had been made.

The waiting room of prayer…

On a daily basis we pray for our children. We pray that God would captivate their heart and that they will one day be totally yielded to Him.  We pray for those who are lost. We pray for the victims and the fighters. We pray that God would draw them to Himself and that He would relentlessly pursue them until they are found.

Like the woman in Luke 15:8-19, after losing one of  her ten silver coins, lit her lantern and didn’t stop looking until she found the lost treasure. The Shepherd in Matthew 18:12-14 who left his 99 sheep to search for and rescue the one precious lost lamb. And the elderly woman in the doctor’s office waiting room who rejoiced after finding her lost sunglasses. I pray that God will  not stop pursuing them. I pray that the lost would be found.

Loss.  Searching . Rejoicing.

As we pray and quietly wait, remembering that God is always at work even when we can’t see it, we are completely captivated and drawn in. God  gives us a heart, a mother’s heart, for these precious people He has called us to raise. We anticipate the day when we will see them fully His. And when it happens we will celebrate! We will join the Father – and other rejoicing families –  and we will applaud!

Then we will lift our hands over our head in worship and we will all exclaim, “AHHHH! TRIUMPH!!!