Sunday, October 19, 2014

Heavenly Mothers Seek Peace-Day 19

Psalm 34:14 KJV
[14] Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

In Christ we have peace with God, so our eternal state is secure, but sometimes our life still feels frantic. With several children in my family, the noise level alone can make it hard to feel peaceful. Music playing, dishes clanking together as they are loaded and boys making any number of strange noises with their mouths, or an elbow and an underarm, all contribute to a home that often feels anything but peaceful.

Sometimes as mothers we purchase false peace for ourselves by putting our children in front of a movie or video game. This might be fine on occasion but when it becomes a habit, several problems occur. 

The first problem is that when children never interact with adults, the adults don't have the opportunity to direct and teach the children. If you as a mom don't push through the boredom with your children and teach them how to be happy without media, then their development on many levels will be hindered, basic civility and a work ethic being just a couple affected areas.

Another big problem with over reliance on media is that our standards for what to watch decline the more we watch. What might have shocked us when we first turned on the TV soon becomes commonplace, and our children end up learning bad behavior that they will act on the next time the TV is off.


Sometimes though, we just reallly need a break; from managing children, from picking up toys, from the endless round of laundry.

This is when leaving home is a good idea. Sometimes it might be by yourself while the children are with a safe caregiver. However, leaving home for a few hours or a day with your children is a wonderful way to seek peace and build relationship, especially if you go somewhere outside. A playground, a lake or a nature center are all lovely places to unwind as a family. Children are rarely bored when they have some water to splash in or rocks to climb, and their joy, the fresh air and the chance to breath are God's gifts of peace to a tired and weary mother.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heavenly Homes are Full of Joy-Day 18



"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore." Psalm 16:11

I have to admit, joy is not the first emotion I feel right now. Yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of my goat crying. Heading outside, I noticed that her mate was nowhere to be seen. I gathered my boys to go look for him and what they saw was the gruesome sight of my buck; legless, ripped apart and very much dead. 



This little goat was given to me by my sister and in an effort to not let the coyotes come back for the pregnant momma goat, several of my children and I spent the night on our trampoline, scooted strategically near the goat pasture. This settled down the momma goat, but I spent a sleepless night, listening for the sound of coyotes and sliding into an ever tighter heap of children in the middle of the trampoline. 

So the emotion I feel right now is mostly mind numbing exhaustion, mixed with a bit of worry about what to do with the goat tonight.

How do we stay joyful in the midst of exhaustion? My son is an inspiration to me in this area. He is nearly always happy and even tempered, but it is no mystery to me how he stays this way. His spare time is nearly always spent worshipping God. Whether he is playing along to worship music on his cajon, playing the guitar or streaming music, he has been graced with an understanding of where to find joy.



I hope I can learn from him and I pray that God gives me the same heavenly hunger for finding joy in Him. When I am tired and struggling for joy, I try to find it in a myriad of less fulfilling ways. Organizing a closet, checking FB or eating some chocolate are often my natural, if generally unfulfilling, responses. 

However, deep joy will not be found in any of these mostly harmless pursuits. If we want to be full of the joy that will sustain us through trying times, the best way to find it is to go directly to God through worship and His word.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit is Love-Day 17

��1 Corinthians 13:4-8 KJV
[4] Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, [5] Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; [6] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; [7] Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [8] Charity never faileth: …

These verses are a lovely description of true love, agape love which comes through dwelling in the Holy Spirit. It can't be faked and if you want it, you must abide in Him. 



What does this agape love look like? It is patient, even when your children are all crying and the noise is overwhelming. It suffers long through sleepless nights and soiled sheets. 

It helps us be kind when we are tired and frustrated. It isn't jealous of mothers who get to sleep all night or who have housecleaners (guilty of jealousy on this one!). 

"Love doesn't boast". It doesn't have a bumper sticker that says, "My homeschooler is smarter than your honor student" (Moms Night Out funniness).

"Love does not behave unseemly"(does running to my room and slamming the door fit in that category? Guilty again).

"Love doesn't seek it's own, isn't easily provoked, thinks no evil." I think that means that we believe the best about people and are not drawn into arguments.


"Love doesn't rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth."
 When something bad is happening, even to people we don't like, the right response is sorrow and when people discover truth, we get excited for them.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." When everything in our life is difficult or seems to be going wrong, we cling to the truth that God loves us and has good plans for us. We keep hoping in His word, knowing that "He who endures to the end will be saved".

The love of God never fails, and I pray that you would be so full of His love that you would be equipped to love your family with that same enduring love.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Heavenly Homes Are Led By The Spirit

                         
"But if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law." Galatians 5:18

For most of my early years as a mother I did not really understand the gospel. I did not understand that when I receive Christ as my Savior, I put on his righteousness. In theory, I knew that it is through grace we are saved, but in practice I still thought that I needed to do everything right to show that I was a Christian. My verse for our homeschool was, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16. I did not realize that the light I was supposed to shine, was the light of the Holy Spirit living inside of me.

Although my motives were good, this pressure to perform was felt by my children. My mistaken view of the gospel also distorted my view about my own behavior. When I did well, I was proud and looked down on others who weren't performing up to par, and when I failed I was overcome with despair.


When I finally realized that my life was hid in Christ, and that my old man was crucified with Him, I had a radical shift in my thinking. Suddenly, the pressure to perform was lifted,  and I am now free to love God and others. No person can judge me because Jesus was judged in my place, and since I was given the perfection of Christ, despite my unworthiness, I am free to offer mercy to others, including my children, because God has shown me mercy.

Does this mean that I start living like a pagan? "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:2) When we realize all that God has done for us, our response is love and when we are in love, we want to please our lover. It isn't that we live in fear, but we live in love, and our love dictates our behavior.


How has this changed my parenting? Now, instead of living by a set of rules, many of them extra biblical, we seek to be led by the Holy Spirit. This isn't some mystical waiting for guidance, but rather, the more we spend time worshipping God and loving Him, the more our thoughts and desires align with His. God might lead me to do something that looks strange (imagine what people thought of John the baptist) or he might lead me to do something that is very normal (think Jesus, hanging out with the tax collectors). His direction will never contradict His written word, and those who are led by Him have access to all the joy and peace we need to parent the children that He gives us.

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Heavenly Homes are Honest


"…His truth endureth to all generations."
Although we have rarely had TV reception or cable in our twenty-four years of marriage, when my children were younger we watched a lot more movies. It was easy back then to put the children to bed and watch a movie that might not be quite appropriate for them. I am not talking about "adult" movies here, just movies that had adult themes or language. 

    

As our children grew, we found this didn't work so well. If a movie wasn't appropriate for my 12 year old to watch, it probably wasn't appropriate for me either. Wanting to be fair to them, it no longer worked to simply put them to bed, and yet we didn't want to pollute their young minds and spirits with language or behavior that they had not yet been exposed to. As our children grew, it became more and more important to not have a double standard about media and so we came to a point where we rarely watch movies at all, finding few movies worth spending the time on (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Mom's Night Out are two recent exceptions).

For our family, truth is very important. Both the truth of God being proclaimed in our home, and honest living between each member of the family. If I as the mother am teaching my children one code of honor and then living a different one, I am not a credible witness. If I tell my children not to have sex outside of marriage, but I put them to bed early so I can watch a romantic movie where that behavior is the norm, I am not really living what I am preaching. I may not be engaging in the behavior myself, but if I am entertained by it, then I am somewhat culpable. If I try to teach them to have decent table manners and then we as a family are entertained by a bunch of vulgarians, I am probably not being a credible witness to civility.

    

Children are very smart. If they hear us telling them to be honest and to trust God, but they see us living  contrary to what we are teaching, they will become hardened to our words. Parenting is the most amazing opportunity for personal growth because our children are so attentive to what message our lives display. I want the message of my life to be excitement about God, excitement about loving the people that He places in my life, and honesty in my relationships. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to sink truth into our spirit, the less attracted we will be to dishonest pleasures. and a peaceful home will be the result of our honest lives.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heavenly Mothers are Merciful- Day 14




"For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting…" Psalm 100:5

It is one of my most shameful memories as a mother. I had been trying to potty train my daughter, using some potty training in a day garbage and the stuff we were learning through Growing Kids God's Way. I was tired of the numerous accidents and this time, when my little three year old failed to reach the potty in time, I became angry. I ripped off the soiled undies, wiped her up and then sat her down hard while I went to go clean up the mess. I dealt with the mistake of a small child with harshness and anger, instead of with gentleness and grace. 

Why was I so annoyed? You see, between Growing Kids God's Way, and my neighbor telling me about her own child's potty training successes, I was feeling inadequate and insecure. My child was not successful with potty training and she was often not appearing to get my instructions at all. I had no training in child development and was under the mistaken impression that all children gain milestones at the same time. My insecurity made this misunderstanding even uglier, as I began to grow impatient with my child for her delays. 


I tell this story with a huge amount of sadness. I wish I had been more merciful. I wish I hadn't seen parenting as some kind of contest and had realized that my children were all individuals. I wish Growing Kids God's Way hadn't been the only parenting instruction that I was aware of at the time. I was trying to create an identity for myself through my children, instead of realizing that my identity is fixed in Christ. You see, when we accept Christ as our Savior, our old self dies, we live a new life in Christ. (Galatians 2:20)


This means that we don't have to worry any more about what people think of us. We don't have to parent out of fear of other people's opinions. We can be free to show the love and mercy of God, and make disciplinary decisions through this filter of love and mercy, instead of making decisions based on what other people will think about us.

The mercy of God sometimes involves redirecting us, or stopping us from doing something harmful. It even sometimes involves painful consequences for our actions, but it never involves anger and it is never motivated by pride or insecurity.


This is the mercy that our children need. Mercy that patiently directs, faithfully disciples and lovingly nurtures. 

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Heavenly Mothers Speak Blessings- Day 13


 "Be thankful unto him, and bless his name."
Psalm 100:4

It is so easy when we are discouraged and overwhelmed to start lying. I have done it myself. When we were living in Mexico and dealing with children having seizures and our household running out of water and routine surgeries turning life threatening, there were a few moments when some real whoppers about how God felt about me and how I felt about life slipped right out of my mouth.


During this difficult time I had to immerse myself in the word of God so that I could speak the truth about my situation. The book, Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss was hugely helpful to me during this time. 
                                                         
                                                            Lies Women Believe


As I began to meditate on what scripture said about my situation, I began to realize that my circumstances are not an indicator of how God feels about me. His word says, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God," (Romans 8:39, paraphrased). The truth about how God feels about us, according to Nancy Leigh DeMoss is that, "God's love for us is infinite and unconditional, we don't have to perform to earn his love and He always has our best interests at heart.



So how does believing that God loves us apply to mothering? Often, how we feel about God affects how we show love to our children. When we know that we are loved and accepted by God, we are free to love and encourage our children. We are no longer embarrassed when they do wrong, but neither are we so focused on our own pain that we neglect to train them in what is right. 

As we become more and more immersed in the love of God, we are free to love and encourage our children, to bless them with our words, even as we use our words to praise God for all that He has done for us. Our words can build up or tear down, our words can express thankfulness or ingratitude. What do you want your words to do?
21 
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit."
Proverbs 18:21(NKJV)

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