It’s Mother’s Day Weekend and because it was also one of my kiddos birthdays this week too, I’ve certainly been thinking a lot about parenting and the colossal role I have as ‘mother’!
Before any flight takes off, the flight attendants request that in case of a decrease in oxygen in the cabin, you must put your mask on first before assisting others (because God knows we aren’t going to be helping anybody if we can’t breathe)! Much in the same way is the truth of how that applies to motherhood and realizing the importance of that request-- taking time for you! Not selfishly, but as one of the leaders of your home to be constantly “putting your oxygen mask on first” – meaning personally getting right before the Lord, and asking Him continuously for wholeness, strength, healing, perseverance and wisdom. How can we, as mothers, help or guide anyone if we aren’t getting ourselves right first? For me, getting alone time in the morning with the Lord and my 45-minute walks everyday are crucial and the key to my existence (ha!)! Not only do I get to work out my stress through activity, but I also get to spend time listening to my favorite worship music or podcasts! Taking time daily to have an introspective look at my heart, my priorities, my hurts, my shortcomings and laying them all at the foot of the cross is my time of healing—it’s my “oxygen.” Because mothering isn’t a one-time transaction, I am in daily need from the Lord for help and assistance in raising my kiddos. It is the biggest responsibility of my life and I can't do anything good for them if I first don't heal and deal with myself and with my issues. Joy, love and trust in a home are grown by healthy parents and from nourished moms and dads who pour in the time to build that firm foundation! Mothering is truly one of the highest callings and I don’t want to screw up what God has entrusted to me.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t have it all together as a mom. I certainly don’t have all the answers and am daily expressing the need for guidance, discernment and grace. I try the best I can at being a mom and honestly most of the time I'm a hot mess! Thankfully, I’ve realized I’m not alone and I’m constantly encouraged by stories of families I read about throughout the Bible that didn’t have it all together either. It’s like God is repeatedly saying, “grace, not perfection” and that “it’s ok to be not ok.” It’s ok to not be flawless because that’s not the objective. God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). He fills in the gaps. He rights our wrongs. God uses stories of families with brokenness, dysfunction, struggles and derailed lives to encourage us and to demonstrate His might, power and glory within these situations! There is a reason for these Biblical models (I’m looking at you Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Saul, David, and Solomon to name a few)! Seeing these Biblical examples played out gives me great hope for God’s redemptive and restorative plans for my family’s life and my children’s lives; despite me and in spite of my failings as a mother. It is so beautiful to see our God repeatedly make beauty out of ashes. It’s never too late to bring Him your ashes, “His mercies are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Tomorrow we get to wake up and try again. There is grace upon grace for parenting!
Being a mom is one of life’s grandest joys and inconceivable blessings! It is the most wonderful, hardest, fun, most daunting, joy-filled, intimidating, delightful, overwhelming and blissful job ever. It is every single emotion wrapped into one. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. In my short 6-year stent of being a mother, I've learned to let go, release the need to control, enjoy them and embrace the circus at our house! No one could have ever prepared me for how much I would love my children and how much FUN this would be, but I’ve learned how much grace I need while doing it and equally how much it helps to surround my family with Godly people who will encourage you, share Scripture with you, help you, pray for you and build you up, not tear you down. Thankfully, Ellis and I have learned first hand the power behind the Body of Christ when it surrounds you and your family. We are so thankful for the wisdom and support from both sides of our family—it really does “take a village,” as they say!
Ellis and I’s desire is to have a home where we are walking out the forgiveness and grace we have been shown from above. We don’t want to be quick to forget the grace God has shown us. We don’t want to receive it and then withhold it from one another or selectively dispense it. No, we want grateful, soft and merciful hearts. We want to lead by example by showing our children what true forgiveness and genuine reconciliation really looks like and what it means to do it both inside our home with one another and outside our home within friendships. We want our children to see that we, too, can own our flaws, say we’re sorry, and ask for forgiveness face-to-face to make it right again. It’s important to us that our kids know we are flawed and imperfect—that we all are, but grace, not perfection, is the goal. Besides, I think our kids want us to be authentic and genuine with them. I am a flawed person, a mere human, raising children and I will, of course, fail and disappoint. I don’t and won’t ever have all the parenting answers (not sure you ever graduate to that status), so I am clinging to the cross every step of the way—that is the safest place for me to be as their momma. Just as Jesus gives me true life, I want to be a life-giver to my children. I want to pour into them just like my heavenly Father does to me! I want to encourage them, build them up, pray for them, lift them up, and pour into them! I want to make them feel not only loved, but valued, safe, secure and for our home to be a refuge for them. I want to raise our kids in a home where we celebrate and encourage the differences between us – because I don’t want them to be a mini version of me (how scary!). I want them to be the unique, gifted, “wonderfully made”, one-of-a-kind person that God created them to be with their own magnificent and glorious callings and purposes! My job is to shepherd their little hearts, cover them in prayer and to be a good steward over these treasures. Thank the Lord I have the most incredible partner, leader, friend, God-fearing, gracious, prayer centered, and loyal man in Ellis to do this with. Praise God we serve a Heavenly Father who is wiser than I, who created my children and who always wants the absolute best for my kids too.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
As a busy working momma, I realized through a very painful season that my family must come first or else everything starts to unravel! I’ve learned first hand that Jesus is the only source of real life and when you aren’t close with Him you are distancing yourself from “true life” and from “life abundant." I’ve done it wrong many times, but I know now that when my priorities are in line and my family comes second to God (before work, before friends, etc.), everything else falls in to place. Then and only then do I feel like my time is mercifully multiplied and joy is even more abundant. Ellis and I covet time alone in our busy and full lives and try now to protect our family’s time alone with just the five of us. It’s sacred time being together and spending more time with the five of us than we do with other people. It is not lost on me just how fast time is flying by and I do not want to miss a thing.
But truth be told, there isn’t anything in the world quite like parenting that will make you have more constant worry or apprehension (or at least for me!)! I find great comfort in Isaiah 26:3 “You keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” May I be a woman who keeps her eyes fixed on Jesus; knowing that doubt, worry, anxiety and fear is not from the Lord. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7) Proverbs 31 says that a woman of God “is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear at the future. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised!”
Psalms 89:19 is one of my favorites and it says that God will “energize His warrior!” Well as a mom, this is sometimes what I need more than anything – energy! God has entrusted me to be a mother, made me to be a “warrior” to raise this next generation and His word tells us that He will “energize” us! As a mom, I sure am weary and drained often, so let’s come and ask boldly for a double portion of this verse!
Over the years, I have felt very strongly about learning how to specifically pray for my kids! Beth Moore has an amazing list of verses to pray over your children that I have adopted into my own prayer life. I hope you find some encouragement in how to cover your children and family in prayer too! (Below are just a few of the ones that really resonate with me personally and that have become part of covering my children -- to read the entire list click here).
Lord, ignite my children to love you with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Grant them hearts to love others as much as they love themselves. (Mark 12:30-31)
Lord, I pray that all of my children shall be taught by You and great shall be the peace of my children. (Isaiah 54:13)
Lord, You are for my children and not against them. (Romans 8:31) Make them more than conquerors through You who love them. (Romans 8:37)
Lord, hem my children in. You are behind them and You are in front of them. Hold them tightly in Your hand. (Psalm 139:5)
Lord, You will fulfill Your purposes for my children. Your steadfast love endures forever. You will not forsake the work of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)
Lord, make my children strong and courageous. Cause them not to be driven by fear or dismay. Be outrageously obvious in Your presence with them wherever they may go. (Joshua 1:9)
Lord, my children cannot exceed the bounds of where Your Spirit is willing to go. They cannot flee from Your presence. Whether they ascend to the heights or sink to the depths, they are in Your hands. Be the light in their darkness. (Psalm 139:7-11)
Lord, stir up kindness and tenderheartedness in my children. Cause them to be forgiving people as they have been forgiven. (Ephesians 4:32)
When my children walk in the midst of trouble, Lord, preserve their lives. Stretch out Your hand against the wrath of their enemies, and deliver them with Your right hand. (Psalm 138:7)
Cause my children to know the truth and the truth will set them free. (John 8:32)
God, You are able to make all grace abound to my children, so that in all things at all times and in all ways, they may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Lord, activate the mind of Christ in my children. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Lord, when my children are weak, cause the power of Christ to rest upon them. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Lord, foster trust in my children toward You and move them by Your Spirit to pour out their hearts to You because You are a refuge for them. (Psalm 62:8)
Grant my children the privilege to know You as the Lord, the compassionate and gracious One who is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6)
Lord, even if my children wander far away and squander what You’ve entrusted to them, draw them home, act on Your great compassion, run to them, embrace and kiss them, and welcome them home. (Luke 15:13, 20)
May my children know You as the eternal God who is their refuge, and that underneath them are your everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
As I constantly pray to God for help and direction with my kiddos, my number one prayer is always, use me Lord to show them YOU!
Mothering—it’s the hardest job in the world. I hope you get to love on, give thanks for, bless and encourage the moms around you this weekend!
I hope you guys have a happy and amazing Mother’s Day,