Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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2 Questions That Will Change the Way You Mother

I don’t know about you, but even though I am home with my children all day, I sometimes get so busy with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and basic physical care that I forget to come up for air and connect with my kids the way I should.

Lately I have tried to ask myself two questions at the end of the day.

“How have I fed my children’s souls today?”

Did I pray with them?  Did we read a Bible story?  Did we have a spiritually meaningful conversation?  Better yet, were these things sprinkled through my day as a lifestyle of discipleship?  It’s not about a checklist.  Every day will look different.  But was I intentional in some way about nurturing their spiritual lives?

“How have I reached my children’s hearts today?”

Have I connected with each of them in a way that makes them feel loved and strengthens our bond?  Did I give enough hugs and snuggles?  Did I take time to listen to them?  Did I say “yes” to their requests for a game or a tea party?  Did I speak gently and with understanding?  Did I discipline with grace, mercy, and kindness?  Did we read together?  Did I laugh with them?

Again, each day will look different.  But I don’t want the days to slip away with so many mundane activities that I neglect my relationship with my children, and their relationship with God.

Asking these questions has been good self-accountability.  Day by day it may not seem like much, but it adds up to a years of little connections that build a solid foundation.

What is one thing you do to feed your child’s soul or win their hearts?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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Learn to Love Getting Older

As my birthday approaches in a few days, I remember that I love getting older—really.

I even have a “Naturally Gray” Pinterest board.

I think youth is overrated. 

Way overrated.

I don’t really like the person I was 10 or 15 years ago.

Not to say there’s not still plenty of room for growth now—there is.  I look back at the fearful, judgmental, immature, socially inept girl that was me and I thank God that he didn’t leave me stuck in that state.  My body might have been better but my soul was a mess.

My dream has always been to be a wise older woman.  Every year I grow a little closer to that goal.

What I didn’t count on is that growing wiser means regular attendance at the school of hard knocks.

Years ago when I set about to grow, I realized this truth: Growth means pain.

When you have a lot of dead wood that needs to be lopped off by pruner’s shears, just look forward to some pretty cutting circumstances.

That knowledge helped carry me through tough times though.  Even now when I’m going through difficulty I sometimes whisper to myself, “Growth means pain.”

There are a couple parenting-related things in particular that have been bitterly hard.  I begged God for years to remove them from my life.  They stayed.  I got mad.

(It’s OK, read Psalms, David got mad at God too.  He said something along the lines of “Just shoot me now!”  So raw, honest feelings are OK with God.  Really.)

I was pretty mad for a few years.

Then I realized something.

Those brutal, painful circumstances had forced me to grow in grace as a mom.

In fact, they revolutionized the way I mother. 

Not only that, but without that particular grueling situation, it’s unlikely that I would have grown in that area at all.  It took something dramatic to unseat me from my ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior.

The situation was hard, still is in a lot of ways.  It involved other people.  I’m not saying God caused the pain.  But he sure as heck used it.

Another year older, another year wiser.

God is slowly changing the circumstance that has been so hard, but mostly he is still changing me.

He’s making a new, improved version.

Seriously?  I wouldn’t trade all the youth in the world for that.

Why do you like or dislike growing older?  How have you  matured with age?

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking:

On Your Heart

Soli Deo Gloria

Heart +Home Gathering

Titus 2sday


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Mentor Monday: Mrs. Ferre

“My training to serve God began in the school of prayer, which is the strongest power on earth. 

As my mind wanders back into my childhood days, and memories unfold as pages in a book, I remember how Mama brought us eight children up on prayer.  She served it both as a full-course meal and snacks in between.  There was no escaping from this order.  It was the only contact between heaven and earth, so when one wanted to commune with God, one must pray…

Mama was impatient in her praying.  She was never willing to wait for things, but expected an immediate answer…

To Mama, prayer came as easy as breathing.  Even if she knew people termed her prayer method strange and naïve, it never seemed to bother her.  She kept on praying that the cake she had placed in the oven would not fall and that the food would stretch a long way because there were so many to feed at the table. 

And there was the long line of people who depended on her help and came to ask her to take their problems to God for them.  Those people surely believe that God would answer them through Mama.  They felt that in some strange way she was “in” with God and that He would grant her what He would refuse them.  So prayers would be sent out for a quick sale of their house, for a husband to be kinder to his wife, and children to recover from their colds. 

I often heard her prayers and saw the people coming, and I never remember one who went away disappointed.  Things did change when Mama talked with God.”

~Mama’s Way by Thyra Ferre Bjorn

The example of Thyra’s mother influenced her children to follow God.  Mama’s Way is a little book about prayer that tells about the fruit that was borne in her life because of her mother’s example.

It challenged me to set a better example to my children in the area of prayer.

Do you pray in front of your children?  How do you set an example that will inspire them spiritually?

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Linking to Better Mom Mondays

On My Heart

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!  Also, look for my e-book, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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Mentor Monday: Sally Clarkson

From Sally Clarkson’s wonderful book, The Mission of Motherhood:

It may well be that our children are not academically gifted, athletically brilliant, or socially inclined.  It may be that our marriage is conflicted or broken and cannot provide the stability we might wish for.  Our finances might be in a mess, or our income may be insufficient to provide the material possessions our children want.  Or perhaps we feel that we don’t have a supermom personality and have a hard time just holding together normal life.

If we focus on intellect, social status, or wealth, it’s almost certain that we will eventually feel we don’t quite measure up.  How comforting, it is, then, to realize that the goals God has called us to as parents are accomplishable.

Any parent in any station of life has the ability to reach his or her child’s heart for Christ and his purposes.  All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack.  The Lord would have us know that he is the one ultimately in charge of our children.  He will use our willingness and our efforts, then fill in the gaps of our inadequacies, to prepare their hearts for what he has in mind.

Every Monday I quote or have a guest post from a veteran mom.  Although I have never met Sally, her writing is a continual encouragement to me.  She has raised four children who love Jesus and their family.  Read Sally’s blog here!

Past Mentor Mondays:

Unconditional Love: Edith Schaeffer

Raising Your Children With Honesty and Good Communciation: Guest post by Debbie Wilson

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

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3 Ways for a Mom to be Mentored

 

Training is available for just about any career in America, from burger flipper to top executive.  But many of us are thrown into our most important job, mothering, without any guidance at all—and when we want it, it can be hard to find.

Maybe you live far from family.  Or your relationship with your mother is tense.  Or she’s no longer living.  Or you are a Christian and she’s not.  Do you sometimes feel like you are walking alone?  How do you find women who can advise you on this amazing, exhilarating, crazy, hard, even (at times) painful path of motherhood?

Remember What Your Mom Did Right

My husband and I agreed when we married that our goal was to take the best things our parents did and build on them to make something even better.  (I hope my kids do the same, for the record.)  Your relationship with your mom may not be perfect, but focus on what she did right and emulate those good things.  If she really didn’t do anything right, use it as reverse mentoring: consider her an example of how not to be and determine to break the pattern and change your family tree.

Look to God, the Best Parent 

Read the Bible and notice: How does God parent us?   How can you apply those principles to the way you raise your babies?  The older I get, the more I notice the grace God extends to me.  I ask myself how I can extend that grace to my kids.  What does the Bible say specifically about parenting?  Learn from the best!

Seek Out Moms You Admire

Maybe you notice a wise older woman who has done a great job with her kids.  Or someone closer to your age who seems to know what she is doing.  In our culture, there is a shortage of those women the Apostle Paul mentions in Titus 2 who should teach us young chickadees how to love our husbands and children, but we can still cultivate relationships with women who are willing to tell us what they know.  It doesn’t have to be a formal mentoring relationship, just seek these women out, befriend them, and ask them questions!  Be assertive!  I’m so thankful for those women in my life who are willing to put up with my questions and share their wisdom!

What about you?  Do you find it easy or hard to find mom mentors?  How do you find ways to be mentored?  


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 8: Love Jesus. Love People.

Getting the kitchen in order for practical purposes is all well and good, but it lacks heart without the why.

My goal is to live my life by two principles: Love Jesus.  Love people.

So how does this work out in the kitchen?

Because I love Jesus, I obey him.  And while I believe that there are many valid configurations of God’s role for women, as I listen to God, I know that right now mine is to be a stay at home mom to 5 small children.  This is the sphere where I am able to glorify him in the mundane and humdrum.  Washing the dishes doesn’t feel very spiritual sometimes, but only if my mind creates a false separation between the sacred and the secular, instead of remembering that God is Creator and as such is Sovereign over all of life.  Not only that, but he has given all good gifts for us to enjoy on our earthly sojourn—beauty, flavors, memories, relationships.  My pleasure in his good gifts brings him pleasure in return.  I can glorify him and love him and worship him through the womanly gifts he has given me to make a house a home.  The hours I spend in cooking and washing up don’t have to be restricted by my own thoughts.  My kitchen can become a sanctuary of prayer and service.

And loving people? Obviously I love my husband through food.  And at this time in my life, I get to pour into my little ones.  This is not just discipling their souls, but also filling their hungry bellies with nourishing foods that will help them grow into the healthiest people they can be.  It’s nurturing their hearts with beauty and sweet memories so that they grow emotionally whole.  It’s showing love by preparing their favorite foods, some of God’s wonderful gifts.

In addition, through the kitchen I get to show hospitality to those God puts in my life—friends, neighbors, and sometimes strangers.  Even the simplest meal prepared in their honor says, “You are important to us.  Eat with us and tell us your story.”  Doesn’t service and listening open hearts?

God is not separated from daily life. If we ask him to be, he’s there (as Brother Lawrence said in his Christian classic The Practice of the Presence of God) among the pots and pans, not only our Savior but our ever-present Friend.   All of life, we remember, flames with God…


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Wisdom from Sally Clarkson and Reb Bradley

For those of you who are not interested in 31 days of kitchen stuff I hope to share encouraging links this month as well.  Here are two I particularly enjoyed recently.

Grace Based Does Not Imply Leniency or Passivity by Sally Clarkson (I will be honest, I use a mix of parenting “methods,” hopefully the Spirit led method :), so I don’t think I fall under any label–but my heart is that if I err to err on the side of grace rather than legalism and formula.  Sally makes some great and encouraging points.)

Homeschool Blind Spots by Reb Bradley.  A homeschooling veteran dad, Reb Bradley, talks about pitfalls that too many homeschooling families make.  Wisdom from one who has been there.


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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love

We’ve all heard, I suppose, that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And traditionally it was. These days it’s more likely to be the place where we pour a bowl of cereal or zap a premade meal in the microwave.

But for those of us with a few kids who want to feed our families healthfully or have special dietary needs, the kitchen becomes a place where we spend a LOT of time. So why shouldn’t it be the heart of the home, the best place in the house, the place where people are drawn to hang out and where we love to cook? We’re going to spend many hours there each day anyway; why not make it a place of blessing, abundance, and beauty? The place where conversations happen and memories are made?

I’m joining The Nester and her friends for 31 days of posting. Each participant chooses her own topic. Mine is 31 Days to a Kitchen You Love. This comes at a perfect time for me, since I had already planned to revamp my kitchen while spending almost nothing. A remodel would be nice, but until then I want to make the best of the kitchen I have, even if it’s not perfect. Truly, I have a great kitchen in size and shape. Before baby was born I did quite a bit of organizing, but in the ensuing chaos of learning to live with 5 small children, it’s quickly fallen into disarray. Over the next month I’m looking forward to doing some small thing each day to make it work better, and to make it a prettier and more fun place to be. And each day (fingers crossed), I’ll write a bit about it.

After all, the journey I haltingly chronicle on my sporadic little blog is what I learn about being a better mom, and that includes even the “have to,” mundane parts of life like tidying the pantry. But it’s much more than that. I want to become a better and more organized cook, I want to learn more how to nourish my family well, and how to nurture and disciple them in the small, daily bits of life, even while we’re cooking supper or washing dishes. The kitchen can be a place of disorder and drudgery, or it can be a sanctuary of worship as we practice God’s presence in the everyday and ordinary. I love the way Ann Voskamp says it…Because all of life flames with God…

Will you join me?

Day 2: Window Treatments

Day 3: Cleaning up the Window, plus Chicken Spinach Salad w/Honey Lime Dressing Recipe

Day 4: Countertops, Inspiration via Nigella Lawson, and a thought about kids in the kitchen

Days 5 and 6: Hey friends, I haven’t forgotten about 31 days. The past couple have been insane, but there is so much going on in my mind and heart that I want to share asap! I had to download the wordpress ap just so I could write this update since I can’t even get to the computer…hopefully tomorrow! Ironic that just when the thoughts begin to flow, I am hindered! Bear with me please!

Day 7~Just trying to breathe today, I shared a couple lovely kitchen links!

Day 8: Love Jesus.  Love People. 

Day 9: Oops!

Day 10: Make Nontoxic Cleaners

I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at my attempt at 31 days, so I’m going to delete my button from the link-up.  I’m glad I did it but my posts have been sub par.  What I’ve learned through this is that I don’t have time to blog daily no matter how much I want to, and I’d rather have quality poss less often than obligatory posts every day.  Thanks for reading!


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Grace Based Parenting, Chapter by Chapter

Virginia Knowles of Come, Weary Moms is going through the book Grace Based Parenting chapter by chapter and writing her thoughts.

I remember when I first heard about this book and my knee-jerk reaction was that grace-based parenting must mean boundary-less, permissive parenting devoid of rules or expectations of obedience. Coming from my default position of parenting that focused highly on behavior (under the guise of “training”), which was actually more about winning and controlling than discipleship, I made a lot of assumptions about a way of raising children that included the word “grace.” I’m nothing if not stubborn, and it took me many years to realize that my way, the way of the “child-training experts” I had followed most of my life, created adversarial relationships with my children alongside superficial obedience, and that this formula-based method didn’t begin to address the unique challenges of some of my kids (despite the condescending assurances of the experts that the challenges were entirely my fault).

And to tell you the truth, that’s still where I am in a lot of ways. I’m not writing as someone who has perfectly obedient children or who has figured this parenting thing out. I admit humbly that I’m no model mom (although it might look that way on days when things are going extra well). Thanks to our unique circumstances, I find that the training, teaching, and discipleship aspects of parenting are an immense challenge, more like walking through deep sand every day than running with confidence down a neatly paved path! This part of being a mom is a million times harder than I anticipated, especially once I realized I couldn’t “formula” my way to a model Christian home.

You see, these are the influences that shaped my view of parenting my whole life. Parenting was simple in this paradigm. If you train and discipline your kids properly and consistently, they will be godly and well-behaved. Poorly behaved children are the result of bad parenting, no exceptions. Well, a child with profound, visible special needs might get a pass, but that was about it.

So imagine my surprise when the formulas didn’t work. To say I was disillusioned is an understatement.

Formulas work often enough that they can be convincing. A couple of my children would be poster children for a formula method. If I leaned on that method, I’d really have no reason to depend on the Spirit or my relationship with them, because a few episodes of consistent discipline and they would conform to my wishes for years, if not for life. They’re just made that way. In fact, I have to be careful that I don’t create situations where they feel responsible to keep me happy, to make up for any misbehavior of their siblings by being “extra good”, or to become smug little Pharisees, thanks to their pleasant, pleaser personalities.

I feel like I’m rambling, but I say all this to point out why I eventually bought Grace Based Parenting. Learning to parent by God’s grace, as he parents us, led by the Spirit instead of behaviorist “experts” is a constant journey of mind-renewal. I daily have to let God change my thinking, the way I interact with my little ones, the way I teach and train them. I am learning to communicate and build real relationships with them. I say this humbly. I mess up daily. I hope I get it right eventually, at least right enough to not make a total disaster of everything. If I do it will be only God, not me.

Does this mean a rejection of “child training” or discipline? Not at all. What these elements look like and how they play out in our family is something I’m constantly learning and growing in. Meanwhile, I look to God, accept his grace over my past and present failures as a mom, and seek with all my heart to extend that same grace to my little ones.

Please join me as I enjoy Virginia’s thoughts and read along, adding my own. Thoughts on Chapter One to come soon.

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