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The girls asked me to close out our little series on gospel-centered mothering. I thought it might be helpful to share three areas my mom has encouraged us to use as kind of a “quick check” on our mothering in between more significant times of evaluation and planning. Gospel-centered mothering certainly involves more than these three things, but not less.
Our children are bombarded with words all day, every day: from friends, siblings, teachers, coaches, and media. As parents we must not only guard and approve those who can speak words into our children’s lives, we need to make sure they are getting a large dose of God’s Word each day.
Just as we evaluate and adjust our children’s food diet, we should often evaluate and make adjustments to their “gospel diet.” Each day are they getting a heaping helping of Scripture?
Many of the gospel words our children receive will come from our mouths, but we should also use as many resources as possible, especially those available through our local church.
Our prayer is that 2 Timothy 3:15—which John Piper preached from at our church this past Sunday—can be said of all our children: “…how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
“Love is the grand secret to effective training” said J.C. Ryle and he couldn’t be more right. This is why we talk often here at girltalk about making memories with your children and why it is so important to lavish them with affection and encouragement. Your training in obedience and respect, and your teaching of God’s Word will be effective in proportion to your expressions of love for your children.
No doubt we’ll return to the topic of mothering some time soon, but in the meantime, you can download a pdf of this series to review and apply. May God give us much grace as we seek to preach the gospel to our children. I know he is eager to answer this prayer.
Happy Birthday big girl!
Growing up, my sisters and I always wanted a big brother. You know, to defend us against bullies and for other equally important reasons. Well, it just so happens that I inherited two such big brothers when Nicole and Kristin married Steve and Brian. They have never had to defend my honor against bullies but they have come in handy over the years.
And one such time happened last Sunday night when Steve pulled a blender full of orange yumminess out of the refrigerator and gave me a taste. Score one new recipe! Steve has been making homemade Orange Julius and it is easy and delicious. I now have a blender full (or at least it was full last night) sitting in my fridge. And you should have a blender-full in your fridge too.
Steve’s Orange Julius Recipe:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla
12 ice cubes
Blend until ice cubes are gone
Stephanie’s has a two-year-old whom she loves to pieces, but who whines a lot. Ashley has five children at home under the age of nine. Both wrote to ask “how do you stay patient with young children?”
I can certainly relate. Impatience is a common temptation for us as moms. So, as I always do, I asked my exceptionally patient mom (she raised me after all!), and wrote down a few of her suggestions. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few things she’s passed on to me that I have found most helpful:
Recently my husband and I realized that we were most tempted to be impatient when we had to get our four children out the door. Identifying this temptation-point helped, not only so we could prepare our hearts to be more self-controlled and patient, but also so we could streamline our process and get an earlier start. Less temptation for everyone. Less impatience from Mom and Dad.
More often then not, when I find myself growing impatient with my children, it is because I have not been clear about the rules or boundaries. They are simply following my lead. So why am I getting impatient with them? My impatience is often a clue that I have slacked off in one area or another. It is time to get back to basics and train or instruct ahead of time and then be consistent to bring appropriate consequences. Being consistent helps me guard against impatience.
This one is for me. I am always repeating my own stupid mistakes. But Janelle is the opposite. She’s a fast learner. For example, a little while ago her two-year-old Hudson became obsessed with balloons. He would throw a fit when he saw a balloon in the store. He would even start screaming in his car seat when they drove past balloons outside! Once she realized this, Janelle made strategic decisions to avoid balloons where possible. She took alternative routes home and avoided certain sections of the store, unless she was prepared to buy a balloon. Point is, if you know your toddler is going to throw a fit in aisle three, if possible, don’t go to aisle three for a while. Wait until your consistent training at home makes it possible for you to go to the store without a meltdown. Do whatever you can to avoid walking into situations you know will be tempting for you and your child.
I read a great post on this by someone, somewhere, and now I can’t find it. The upshot was that when we cultivate a heart of gratefulness to God for the precious gift of our children, it counteracts the impatience in our heart. So if we find our impatience is rising, how’s our gratefulness? Let’s thank God for the amazing gift of our children and it will be much easier to be patient.
There is something about going to God in prayer that reminds us just how patient our heavenly Father is with us. This produces humility in our hearts, which in turn, produces patience toward our children. And we need God’s help. So let’s pray. He is eager to help us to model His patience toward our children.
We were very blessed to have John Piper preach at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville yesterday. He said at the outset that he was really pumped about this message because of his love for God’s Word. And it truly was a powerful sermon in which he gave us six reasons to believe the Bible from 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
Reason number 1: “The kinds of persons who taught you the truth are a very significant warrant for why you believe what you believe…Part of Timothy’s reasoning for why he should stay in the truth is the character of his mother and his grandmother.”
Watch below or listen online to hear all six reasons to “continue in what you have learned.”
My mom read this to me and now I get to read it to her.
Dr. Michael Haykin has written a beautiful little book entitled The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers. The book concludes with a profound letter from Helmuth von Moltke to his wife, Freya von Moltke, written from a Nazi prison where he was awaiting execution for his efforts to oppose the brutality of the Third Reich:
January 11, 1945
“And now my dear, I come to you, I have not included you in my list because you, my dear, stand in a totally different position from all others. You are not one of God’s agents to make me what I am, rather you are myself. You are my thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Without this chapter no human being is truly human. Without you I would have accepted love…But without you, my dear, I would not have ‘had’ love. I should not think of saying that I love you; that would be quite false. Rather you are the one part of me, which would be lacking if I was alone…It is only in our union—you and I—that we form a complete human being…And that is why, my dear, I am quite certain that you will never lose me on this earth—no, not for a moment. And this fact it was given us to symbolize finally through our common participation in the Holy Communion, that celebration which was my last.”
Helmuth von Moltke was hanged in prison on January 23, 1945.
Dr. Haykin writes:
“This letter to Freya, one of sixteen hundred that Moltke wrote to her during the course of their love and marriage, presents a strong picture of the oneness of Christian marriage and how, in the words of the Song of Solomon, ‘many waters cannot quench love’ for it is stronger than death (Song 8:7, ESV).”
I am one spoiled daughter!
“I feel like such a failure. I’m a horrible mom and a terrible wife. I’m exhausted, depressed, and overwhelmed.”
Sound like a mom you know? How would you counsel this woman? What gospel-centered words would you give her? Maybe you are that mom. As your soul’s counselor, how do you apply the gospel?
So often, in our sincere desire to be gospel-centered, we skip over a biblical diagnosis and assume we know what the problem is.
“You’re caught in the performance trap,” we tell the discouraged mom. “You just need to remember that God’s approval isn’t based on your performance. He loves you, in spite of all your failures. He doesn’t expect you to do it all or be a perfect wife or mom. You just need to rest in God’s grace.”
True, to a point.
But Scripture trains us to be more careful counselors, to apply the varied grace of God appropriately to various mothering discouragements:
“[A]dmonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thes. 5:14).
In other words, gospel-centered counsel looks different for different counselees.
“Discouraged Mom” may, in fact, be experiencing genuine conviction for anger or impatience or some other area of sin in her mothering. She may need an exhortation to repent and encouragement in the grace of God available to help her to grow (1 John 1:9).
Or a mom may be discouraged because she is comparing herself to other moms or cultural expectations of motherhood. She may need to hear our Savior’s words, “What is that to you, you follow me?” (John. 21:22)
Maybe a mom is looking to her children’s performance as the measurement of her mothering success. She may need to be reminded of her call is just to be faithful, and to trust God with the fruit. Her children’s sin isn’t the final measurement of her motherhood (Gal. 6:9).
Often a discouraged mom is an exhausted mom. She needs a good night sleep and an hour in God’s Word.
I could go on, but point is, gospel-centered counseling doesn’t make a blank check out to grace and hand it over to a discouraged mom. We must be diligent to discern the specific gospel-truth that applies to a particular discouraged mom in her unique situation.
So whether we’re counseling a friend or our own soul, let’s be wise, gospel-centered counselors.
This is a book for pastors, which is why I wanted to tell you about it. I’m not sure if the author meant it to encourage ordinary moms like you and me, but it certainly does.
“In Jesus, we do not do away with possessing an ambition for great things” writes Dr. Eswine, “Rather we learn in him to make sure that the greatness we strive for is the kind that he values.”
Sensing Jesus doesn’t merely teach us why we should value the ordinary and mundane, it awakens an appreciation for the humility and honor of our humanity in Christ.
And while this truth is important for pastors, it is also significant for our ministry as mothers. For we live in a culture that disdains and devalues all that is mundane, ordinary, and obscure about our calling to raise the next generation to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ.
One of the reasons I love this book is because Dr. Eswine describes in beautiful prose a godly manner of life that I have seen in my mother and grandmother:
Contentment and gratitude for God’s gifts—family, community, food, a loved and loving home, laughter.
Courage and conviction to live by the Word of God alone, day in and day out, whether in difficulty or obscurity.
Commitment to one man and ones own children for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Humility that doesn’t strive for glory apart from faithfully following the Savior.
There is a weightiness and a wealth in this legacy of ordinary faithfulness; and like fireflies in a Mason jar, Sensing Jesus captures this glory in the ordinary for us to marvel at and emulate:
“Therefore, those of you searching for something larger, faster, and more significant, who feel that if you could just be somewhere else doing something else as somebody else, then your life would really matter—Jesus has come to confound you… He may call you to courageously prize what is overlooked and mundane among those whose cravings for the next and the now might cause them to soon overlook you…”
So my fellow “overlooked” moms, let’s come to the only “Remembered One” because “being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world. Living humanly within his remembrance is enough.”