Sep 30

Motherhood and the Great Commission

2013 at 2:13 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Gospel | Fun & Encouragement | Photography | Motherhood

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20

When we think about the Great Commission, we automatically think evangelism, missions, reaching the nations, etc. And rightly so. But we often forget the tail end of Jesus’ words to his apostles just before the ascension. We forget about the obedience part.

The end result of the preaching of the glorious gospel to all the nations is individual Christians observing all that God has commanded. The Great Commission doesn’t end with baptism, but with obedience.

This means that as mothers, when we teach our children to obey, we are doing Great Commission work. It doesn’t always feel “great” when we are disciplining our two-year-old for a tantrum or instructing our ten-year-old to be respectful. But our Savior has commissioned this work. We are fulfilling his call as we seek to raise disciples of Jesus Christ.

We must ground all our teaching of obedience in the gospel, and we must root our own hearts there too as we remember that only God can regenerate our child’s heart. But when we remember the significance of our Great Commission calling, it will transform how we discipline and instruct our children.

So this Monday, let’s lift our eyes above the difficulties of motherhood for a moment and remember: Teaching our children to obey is a great work, commissioned by a great Savior. And let’s rest and rejoice in the Great Commission promise: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20).

Sep 25

Q&A: Patient vs. Permissive Parenting

2013 at 1:25 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Motherhood | Parenting Young Children | Q&A

Hi all—sorry for the brief hiatus from posting. We were traveling and unexpectedly found ourselves without Internet access. Home now and ready to resume our regularly scheduled posts with a new Q&A. Have a great Wednesday!

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A few weeks ago, in a Facebook comment on our post answering the question “How Do You Stay Patient with Young Children?” Michelle asked a great follow-up:

“I sometimes have a hard time discerning between patience and permissiveness. It seems that some days I’m feeling ‘patient’ and so I don’t pick on certain issues as much, so is it patience or permissiveness?”

I threw this question out to Mom and here are a few of her thoughts:

This is an insightful question, Michelle, because we as parents often confuse godly patience with sinful permissiveness. But the two are not the same.

Patient parenting means we are “slow to anger” in the face of provocation or disobedience from our children (Ex. 34:6, James 1:19). It does not mean we don’t bring appropriate discipline, but that we discipline in love.

As Jerry Bridges explains, patience “seeks the ultimate good of [our child] rather than the immediate satisfaction of our own aroused emotions.”

Permissive parenting often masquerades as patience, but has different motives underlying it. Sinfully permissive parenting is often based on our emotions—whether or not we feel like correcting our children’s sin or whether or not we want to deal with this right now—rather than a commitment to teach our children to submit to our loving authority for their good and God’s glory.

In fact, permissiveness in parenting can be an abdication of our God-given, lovingly exercised authority. Permissive parenting may unintentionally put the kids in charge, which is the opposite of what God has ordained.

In short, permissive parenting is often about how we feel or what we want; patient parenting is about what would please God and help our children to grow in Christ-like character.

For example, it is not patient to instruct our children to do something but then give in to them when they beg off. It’s permissive.

It is not being patient to tell our children not to do something, and then fail to follow through or merely repeat our instructions when they ignore our commands or whine or argue. It’s permissive.

It is not patient parenting to look the other way when our children sin or to neglect to train them to overcome patterns of sin. It’s permissive

It is not being patient to satisfy our child’s every desire and give into his every demand, even if it feels patient because it requires sacrifice on our part. It’s permissive.

Ironically, sometimes the easiest way to tell if we have slipped into permissive parenting is if we are tempted to be impatient. I remember that when I used to get impatient with my children it was usually a sign that I had been growing lax and permissive in my parenting. Because I wasn’t faithful to give clear commands and bring appropriate and loving discipline when they disobeyed, my children’s behavior would grow more unruly and I would respond more impatiently.

Permissive parenting is one of the easiest traps for us to fall into as a mom. Sadly, I can recall many times when I was more permissive than patient in my parenting. But our Heavenly Father is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and patience toward us. He does not ignore our sins of laziness and impatience, but rather he sent his Son to pay for them at the cross. And the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts, training us to obey God’s Word and grow in Christ-like patience toward our children.

So how does God help us to avoid becoming permissive and impatient in our parenting?

We’ll tackle that question in our next post.

Sep 16

Simply Does It

2013 at 1:00 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management | Motherhood

As I talked to other moms this week, at church or my sons’ baseball practices, we were all feeling a little tired and overwhelmed by the busyness of another school year. For me, when things get busy, I always return to my mom’s advice (hopefully sooner rather than later for the sake of my family!): Seek God and keep it simple. A few years ago Kristin described how this counsel carried her through an exhausting time with three small boys. ~Nicole

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I’m tired and I need more rest. But when? How? These were my questions as family and friends recently sought to counsel me through this exhausting season with three energetic boys.

A typical day begins early and goes non-stop until nap time. My kid’s nap time, that is. While my little ones are resting and recharging their batteries, I am usually trying to bring order back to the house, do laundry—you know, start something and finish it without interruption. Then it’s a whirlwind of dinner prep, dishes cleanup, and jammies on. Usually there’s a meeting, or home projects to tackle, and before you know it, it’s time to do the same thing all over again. Except, I still haven’t recovered from the day before.

For me and every other exhausted mom, we must find our rest and our strength in Christ. One of our pastors wives, Nancy Loftness, reminded me of 1 Peter 4:11, “Whoever serves, [should do so] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” I MUST consistently seek God for joy and stamina to serve my family another day. There is no other way to bring glory to God as a mother.

However, my mom, sisters, and faithful friends have also been helping me take practical steps to alleviate my tremendous tiredness. In a word, simplify. Get strategic and get creative about eliminating needless work. Make rest a priority so I’m better able to serve my husband and my little men.

Over lunch the other day, Mom, Nicole, Janelle and I brainstormed about my daily schedule. We talked through the trouble points and they threw out all kinds of ideas such as buying prepackaged food for my boy’s lunches, getting help with babysitting, and developing a plan for staying on top of laundry.

This brainstorming session has made a significant difference in my life of late, and I want to encourage other moms to try it as well. Gather a couple of friends and fellow-moms together for a strategy session (make it a fun night out!), or ask several “older” women for ideas. Examine every aspect of your day and figure out how you can simplify your life and schedule. The practical changes that serve you best will probably be different than for me. However, by minimizing your workload where possible, you’ll find reserves of strength to serve your family, and more peace along the way.

Simplifying my life has provided me with much-needed rest. It has also required a healthy dose of humility, an honest admission that I’m not “Super Mom.” I’m just an ordinary woman seeking to serve with the strength that God provides—in whatever way it comes. May God be glorified!

Sep 11

When Your Day Doesn’t Go As Planned

2013 at 12:10 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Time Management

In case some of you need this reminder as much as I do today, here’s one of Mom’s very first posts on our blog. ~Nicole

I wanted to get up early, but C.J. encouraged me to stay in bed a little longer. I had been up quite late the night before. He thought I needed a little more sleep.

By the time I arose, the demands of the day came rushing at me in rapid succession. There was breakfast to fix. Conversations to have. The unexpected phone call. Family members to shuttle from point A to point B. One interruption after another.

It was 10:00 a.m. and I still hadn’t taken a shower, much less made progress on my to-do list. I was struggling. This wasn’t the way my morning was supposed to go. I wasn’t completing the tasks I thought were most important. Peace and joy had vanished.

Then I recalled this perspective-altering thought from C.S. Lewis:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.”

It is hard to remember. But what a difference it made when I called to mind this biblical truth.All these interruptions—they weren’t interruptions after all. They were “sovereign deliveries.” These “unpleasant things” were God’s perfect plan for my day.

Contemplating this bit of wisdom brought a smile to my face. And from that moment on, I met each subsequent “interruption” with joy. The shower could wait.

My prayer is that, next time, God will help me to remember this truth. Because Mr. Lewis was right. It’s easy to forget.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Sep 9

The Answer to End All Questions

2013 at 1:50 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Spiritual Growth | Gospel | Motherhood | Adoption

My son Jude asks lots of questions. As I understand it, this is common for children who have been adopted when they are older, and I totally get it. New country. New language. New parents. I would ask a lot of questions too.

I am eager to answer Jude’s questions about his new world—as best I can anyway. Occasionally he stumps me with questions about how stuff works (“I haven’t a clue, Jude, ask your Dad!”) or like the other day when he asked me why people put up “yucky” Halloween decorations: “Honestly, Jude, that’s a great question, son, but I have never been able to understand that myself!”

As much as we want to satisfy Jude’s curiosity about his new life, we are also trying to teach him that he can trust us, his parents, to faithfully meet his needs. So sometimes, when he asks the same question over and over again, or asks about insignificant details he’ll find out in a few minutes anyway, I’ll provide the answer my parents often gave to me: “You’ll see.”

“Mommy what’s for dinner?”

“You’ll see.”

“Mommy, what store are we going to next?”

“You’ll see.”

“Mommy, how many more minutes until break time?”

“You’ll see.”

We have worked really hard to be consistent and predictable in our parenting; so while imperfect for sure, Jude knows by now that we will always feed him dinner, we will always come home after going out, and we will (almost) always take a break from school in the mid-morning.

But as I seek to teach Jude that he can trust us, I have begun to see, sadly, how little I sometimes trust my Savior. Jude’s incessant questioning is understandable for an eight-year-old boy nine months into a new life, but so often I ply my Heavenly Father with anxious questions, having nothing like Jude’s excuse.

“What are you doing next, Lord?”

“Where are you taking me?”

“When will this be over?”

I don’t just ask these questions once. I ask them over and over and over. And more often than not, God replies with the same answer I give Jude: “You’ll see.”

To be honest, I don’t always like that answer any more than Jude does. And yet when I grumble about God’s response, I fail to see the massive mercy behind it. “You’ll see” is a promise! A glorious promise, secured for me at the cross! I will see! Because I have been adopted into God’s family, through the atoning death of Jesus Christ on my behalf, I will one day see God.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2 ESV).

I may not see everything today, but I see the Father’s love. And I have this confident and sure expectation that one day I will see Him as He is. And I will be like Him. Because of adoption, I see. And because of adoption, I will see. Oh joy!

So Jude, my son, I pray that one day you will see the love of the Father and rejoice in His answer to all your questions: “You’ll see!”

~from the archives