motherhood

When Contentment is a Struggle

Contentment is something I struggle with. I’m blessed to have a loving husband, a home that’s not huge or fancy but that is perfect for my family, three great children, plenty to eat, the ability to work from home, and so many other things! Yet, I seem to have trouble being content with what I have. It’s so easy to instead focus on what I don’t have.

contentment

I don’t have enough money to go on expensive vacations every year.

I don’t have lots of new clothes and pretty jewelry.

I don’t have the ability to keep my house clean and organized without a struggle.

I don’t have time to do everything that needs to be done each day.

I don’t have a perfect life, perfect children, or a perfect marriage.

But when I stop and think about it, God has given me so many blessings that I don’t deserve! Even though these things may not seem like much sometimes, I know there are people who don’t have these things and who would love to enjoy them like I do. People who would be thankful for these things and not take them for granted like I often do.

I do have a husband who loves our children and who loves me very much. He works hard to take care of us. He spends time with us.

I do have the ability to “tag along” on my husband’s work trips now and then. Even though he has to work on these trips, we still have travel time and evenings together.

I do have all the clothing I need. It may not be new or fancy, but I never have to worry about whether or not I’m able to clothe myself or my family.

I do have a home that I love. It’s not huge or fancy, but it has plenty of room. It has a walk-in pantry that I adore, a separate utility room—which is something I’ve always wanted, and it even has a good bit of closet space.

I do have children who love their dad and me, and we love them! We don’t always get along perfectly, but we do get along well, and I’m blessed that we have close relationships. I know many parents who would love to be in the same situation.

When Contentment is a Struggle

Yet my greatest struggle with contentment has to do with my 22-year-old daughter who is severely autistic. Since she was diagnosed at about age 3, I’ve prayed for God to heal her. So far that hasn’t happened. I know God could heal her if He chose to. But He hasn’t. It’s often hard to understand why God has chosen to allow her remain autistic instead of healing her. I don’t understand it.

But one thing I’ve learned over these 22 years is that God’s plan is better than mine. Even when I disagree with His plan. Even when I’m not sure what His plan is. Even when I wish MY plan was HIS plan.

So Many Good Things

I can look back and see so many good things that have happened in my life as a result of my daughter’s autism.

We attend our church because a friend who has an autistic son invited us. She knew we would be welcome and that our autistic child would be welcome—even though there were other area churches that didn’t welcome us.

I’ve been able to encourage so many moms of autistic children simply because I really do understand what they’re going through! I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard other moms say things like, “I’m so happy to have finally found someone who really understands what I go through on a daily basis!” Because I really do understand.

I’ve learned to appreciate every little milestone that my daughter reaches. I’ve learned to treasure every bit of progress she makes. I’ve learned to be happy for little things that most parents take for granted.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful respite care worker who has become a friend. She takes loving care of my daughter for a few hours each day so I can work and go to the gym or to appointments. And my friend is blessed to have a flexible job that she enjoys.

No, I wouldn’t choose for my daughter to be autistic. But I’m learning to focus on the blessings I have and to pay less attention to the things I’d like to change. I’m learning to trust God’s plan more and my own plan less. I’m learning to be content knowing that God knows what’s best for my family and for me.

I’m learning to be content.

Finding Purpose Amidst Diapers

After spending a decade babysitting other people’s children, I couldn’t wait to jump head first into Motherhood. I had a rose-colored dream of the days I would spend raising my own children and the kind of mother I would be.

Motherhood turned out to be a lot more chaotic, messy, and draining than I ever imagined. Many days feel much more like survival than fulfilling a great purpose.

purpose

Motherhood truly is one of life’s greatest callings. Raising children who love Jesus impacts not only your own child but also future generations. However, in the middle of diapers, meals, messes, and chores it’s so easy to feel like an unimportant maid rather than a woman with a purpose.

When you are feeling adrift in the chaos of motherhood, how do you find your purpose amidst the day-to-day tasks? A few suggestions:

  1. Own the now. Give yourself credit for what you are doing right now, even when life is chaotic. What are you teaching your children about Jesus by nurturing and caring for them every day? Brushing hair with a tender hand shows the big picture of God’s tender care. Setting boundaries and sticking to them teaches your children about God’s guidance and loving discipline. When you stop to think about it, I bet you’ll realize you have more impact already than you ever realized.
  2. Make a list of your NOW purpose(s). Take several days to pray and think about your purpose during your current life stage. Give yourself credit for the things you are already doing. Make a plan for the ones you aren’t. Look at your list and find the “low hanging fruit”- the easiest thing you aren’t currently doing – on that list. Make a plan and begin fulfilling that purpose. After checking that one off the list, continue choosing and planning to add more of those goals into your life.
  3. Make a list of what you think might be your future purpose. Maybe you have a heart for caring for the elderly or want to write a book for new mothers. Often narrowing down those future purposes is the easy part, the hard part is feeling inadequate because your current stage of life doesn’t allow you to throw yourself at those purposes. Put this list behind your NOW Purpose list and try to mostly let it go for a season.
  4. Prepare for the future while remembering that at this moment your NOW is most important, even if it feels less than the purpose you hope for in the future. God has you where you are right now, even if it’s drowning in diapers, for a reason. He is preparing you for the future purposes He has for you while you are fulfilling the NOW purposes He has for you. Your children aren’t the only ones being equipped for their future purposes during this busy motherhood season. Spend what extra time you do have in the Word learning more and more. Practice those skills you will need for those future goals. Do the small things now that will prepare you for the bigger things later.

Most of all remember that your NOW purpose is actually fulfilling a much greater future purpose, as you equip your children to one day fulfill their own purposes! Think of the huge impact your children will have on the world because you poured into them day after day after day.

You Need Not Leave the Shire to Find Adventure

When I think of purpose, as I am sure is the case with many others, I think of accomplishments. As in, I am supposed to accomplish a particular goal in my life and live in that “purpose” joyfully and intentionally throughout my life. I looked it up, and “purpose” is: “the reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists.” It appears that I was on track with my initial line of thinking. So, what exactly does this look like in the Christian life?

purpose

Does living purposefully for Christ mean martyrdom? What about the likes of George Whitfield, or Billy Graham? Does it mean one has to be an evangelist? Does it mean being involved in something bigger than yourself, like William Wilberforce (abolitionist), or James Dobson (Focus on the Family)? How about artists like Steve Green and Rich Mullins whose lyrics and impact still resound in the culture?

What exactly does living a life with purpose mean?

Do I need to find an artistic outlet? If so, I’m out of luck. I have no “talent,” unless of course they are handing out awards for consistently admonishing my children to “Wake up!” “Clean-up!” “Eat it or Starve;” or for being an “Uber Mom” and/or “Doing School in Your Jammies.”   Let the record show that I would not even be nominated for any of these which brought me to the place of questioning my purpose in the first place. It could be my midlife crisis or menopause or both.  I will need to have a long talk with Jesus when I arrive, how could he schedule my children coming into puberty at the same time I am getting rid of my hormones? Seriously Lord!! If that hasn’t tested my character I don’t know what will; another blog for another day! I’m not very good at what I “have” to do, let alone actually finding a purpose.

In the course of my grassroots activities, I’ve had the opportunity of sharing my personal testimony in intimate settings on a few occasions; and I’ve been told that I should share it more often. I am so uncomfortable with that idea that I (literally) get nauseated thinking about it. I much more prefer the intimacy of connecting with another human one-on-one, than connecting with a podium. I am so keenly aware of what God saved me from and what He brought me to, that I don’t want to continuously relive it – let alone do so in public. I have come to conclude that I am doing exactly what God wants and needs me to do at this very moment, at home…in The Shire, knowing that at any given moment Gandalf the Grey may make an appearance and tell me that I must go on an adventure.  

Return to mediocre

Speaking of the Shire, in our home the children sometimes call me Mrs. Bilbo. If you’ve ever read The Hobbit, you will know that Bilbo Baggins was (short and) happy with his “mediocre life.” He was not interested in any adventures; and even when he reluctantly went on his adventure, he was eager to return to The Shire to his mediocre life. I can relate. I, like Bilbo, love my so-called mediocre life, but there are days that the accomplishments of others get to me. Not in the sense of I want to do what they are doing, rather in the “I wonder if I should be doing something more important with my life.”  Define important, say the voices in my head…  The Lord always has a way of quieting those voices and reminding me that I am being used right where I am.

Recently we were given the opportunity to serve grandma, who came to stay with us in the aftermath of hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico. When it was time for her to return home, I not only cried, I “ugly-cried.” I was so thankful for our time together. Our family was at the right place, at the right time. We were humbled, He was glorified, as it should be.

As I think back, some really great adventures have taken place in our home – we’ve experienced several foreign cultures by hosting exchange students from around the world; we’ve helped other family and friends transition through periods of their lives; we have had friends vacation to the Nation’s Capital and stay with us. Great conversations into the early morning hours were had, and we’ve cried and laughed at life with friends, all from the comfort of our couch.

So, the bigger question becomes, are we leaving ourselves available for the adventure He wants to take us on? His purpose in our lives looks uniquely different in each of us, and we may not need to go far to find it…we may not even have to leave our living room.

Whatever we purpose ourselves to do, even (or especially) the so-called mediocre and boring, if not done to bring Glory to God, then it’s all in vain. Which may very well mean that throngs of people will not know your name; nor will people clamor to take selfies with you when you’re in public. But those acts of recognition are meaningless compared to the recognition you can have when you stand before The Throne and Christ the King recognizes you as His own.

Remember, it’s not about YOU, it’s about HIM! And…not all adventure requires a passport.

Sisters are for Encouraging

We have a lot of sisters at our house. Four to be exact. And that is just the right amount to produce a lot of fun sister activity. Unfortunately, it also produces a lot of not-so-fun sister activities; fighting, tattling, bossing, comparing, complaining, telling someone how to do it the ‘right way’…my list could go on and on and on. How easy it is to lose sight of our purpose as sisters.

purpose

When it happens over and over and over again…I get tired! It hurts me to see them hurting each other’s feelings. It makes me sad how they treat each other.

The girls know what I’m going to say before I even say it. I’ve said it over and over. I repeat it daily. Sometimes hourly.

“Sisters are for encouraging”

Sisters are not for:

  • …fighting with.
  • …tattling on.
  • …bossing around…Mom is the boss.
  • …comparing with. Life will NOT be fair. Everyone is better at something.
  • …complaining about.
  • …telling you how to do it their way.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Our true purpose

Encourage one another. Build each other up.

That is the purpose of a sister.

Let’s go a step further. I’m talking about earthly sisters here. Those blood sisters. Yet, as I repeat this sentence over to my girls I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “what about your sisters in faith?”

How should we treat our sisters in Christ?  What is the purpose for that kind of a sister?

The answer is astoundingly the same.

Sisters are for encouraging.

We don’t need to fight with a sister of Jesus.

Do everything without complaining and arguing Philippians 2:14

We don’t need to run and tattle when a sister is doing something we don’t approve of!

And make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands.
1 Thessalonians 4:11

We don’t need to boss a sister in Christ around.

They have the Holy Spirit to prod and guide into what they should be doing. We are NOT their boss.

When the spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  John 16:13

Sisters are NOT for comparing with.

OUCH. Life is not fair. Really, we wouldn’t want it to be. Our talents are not the same as our sisters. Our calling is not the same as that of ANYONE else. So we must not compare with our sisters.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others.

Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.

But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Sisters are not for complaining about. Or complaining to, for that matter.

Do everything without complaining and arguing Philippians 2:14

Sisters are not there for telling you how to do something… Exactly their own way. Again, that is the Holy’ Spirit’s job.

Jesus said in John 16:12-15 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Sisters are for encouraging.

Whether we are blood sisters or sisters in Christ. We must not try to take over the Holy Spirit’s job. Or boss them around like a lord over them. No, friends, let’s encourage one another and build each other up!

This is the purpose of a sister: encouragement.

Friends, let’s go be encouragers!!  

When Can I Start Doing IMPORTANT Things?

Several years ago, I remember pondering my purpose as I was standing in the middle of our living room with a stunned look on my face. I was holding a crying toddler who had painful molars breaking through her gums. My feet were surrounded by toys that had been dumped (for the fifth time that day) onto the floor. The couch was filled with unfolded laundry, and I was staring into the kitchen where one of my sons had just accidentally knocked a glass jar of honey onto the tile floor…true story!

purpose

Let me tell you that my purpose in life was not in the forefront of my mind at that moment. I could not see past where I was right then, and frankly, it did not feel important or worthwhile. After all, how can cleaning up sticky, broken glass and disciplining a child who didn’t obey my instruction to not dump out toys be significant?

I know…being a mom is a wonderful blessing. But those moments made that hard to believe.

Have you ever felt that way? Well, let me tell you something you already know but probably need to hear again: They won’t always be this little. They will grow up. And when they do, you will see that this work was not for nothing. It was worthy and beautiful!

Interestingly, as quickly as your children enter your household, that is how fast they will move out as adults. We had four children within 6 years. Those were busy times, indeed. But within another short 6-year period, they all graduated from high school and moved on to do other things.

My husband and I were stunned at how our dinner table dynamics changed so rapidly. What happened to the sweet, lovely mayhem? I caught myself with those thoughts. Was it really always lovely and sweet? It is interesting that I only remembered it that way…

So was I doing something important during those days of raising and teaching our children? Yes!

Was it easy? NO.

A Wonderful Purpose

Was it indeed a wonderful purpose – a blessing given to me by God? Absolutely.

You see, raising children is the BEST purpose we as moms can have. It is an opportunity to train and pour into little minds and hearts. It is a mission field in itself. We are stewards of these little humans God entrusted to us. We are charged with the critical job of loving them, modeling for them how to love their Lord, and preparing them for what God has ahead in their lives.

This brings glory to God. It is a precious and worthy purpose. And I know that it’s not always a beautiful process, but anything worthwhile will involve less-than-glamorous work.

In John chapter 5, Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches the Father prunes and trims so we may bear fruit. Then he says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

When do we start bearing real fruit? When do we do IMPORTANT things and fulfill our purpose?

Sweet mama, it is right now where you are. It is wiping the tears from your little one. It is washing the dishes and keeping the home. It is reciting spelling words. In doing this, you are living for the purpose for which he saved you. He prunes and tends you as a vine so the fruit you bear will richly blossom and grow.

What an awesome (and IMPORTANT) purpose!

God’s Purposes or Ours?

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.Proverbs 19:21

In my early years as a mother, I was often overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility combined with the unpredictability of babies and toddlers. Nothing in my academic or professional life had prepared me for this challenge!

purpose

I tried to control the chaos by creating systems of planning, goal setting, and time management. That’s a rather grandiose way to describe my early hand-scrawled lists taped to the wall above our kitchen table so I could try to keep track of everything. I found so much satisfaction in accomplishment that I sometimes wrote down tasks I had already completed just for the pleasure of crossing them off the list!

Over the years my system became more elaborate, with carefully categorized daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and life plans. I developed a home study course for sharing it and began speaking about how to get things done. It was thrilling to discover that my system worked well for other people too.

But a system isn’t enough.

Lists, charts, and schedules can be wonderful tools to help us be good stewards of our time and our lives. But I’ve learned that while plans are good servants, they can be terrible masters. We can become so focused on checking tasks off our lists that we run roughshod over the people around us. Our plans can even become idols. Successful planning can create pride, arrogance, and an illusion that we really are in control . . . but we’re not. Our days and hours are ultimately in God’s hands, not ours.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. — Proverbs 16:9

So should we just throw planning out the window? Not at all. The important thing is our heart attitude—our willingness to trust God’s providence and lean on His guidance . . . even when life doesn’t follow our plans. How we handle interruptions is a good way to gauge this.

We must pray for discernment to know how to respond to each situation. Sometimes the appropriate response is to ignore an interruption and continue the task at hand. At other times, an interruption is a signal to be sensitive to God’s timing and to recognize an opportunity to serve someone who really needs us. C. S. Lewis said, “What one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day.” This realization has softened and enriched my overachiever approach to planning.

English nun Janet Erskine Stuart’s attitude provides a wonderful reminder of how God’s providence applies to interruptions. Her assistant’s explanation convicts and encourages me, and I hope it will do the same for you:

She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will, and working out His own designs. Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings, or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and gracefully ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it. (Maud Monahan, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart, 93)

A Mom’s Purpose

What is the purpose of a mom? Sometimes we moms feel like all we do is cook, wash dishes, do laundry, and pick up after our families! We don’t always see our value. It can be hard to feel valuable and worthy of God’s love when we feel like we never really accomplish anything! After all, once we get today’s laundry done and meals prepared, it’s right there waiting to be done again the next day!

purpose

But think about what we moms really do all day. Sure we cook and clean, but we also guide our children, love our husbands, encourage our friends, and set the tone for our homes and all who live in them.

Who do our children look to for comfort when they hurt themselves? Who do they want to tuck them in bed or take care of them when they’re sick?

Who do our husbands ask when they’re not sure how to make important decisions? Who do they lean on when they’re stressed or facing difficulty at work?

Yes, being a mom means so many things! In fact, we don’t have a single purpose. We have lots of them! We serve as nurses, counselors, chauffeurs, seamstresses, disciplinarians, chefs, housekeepers, and so much more!

It also means being the ones our children look to for comfort and love and assurance. The one our husbands look to for support and security.

It might mean being a businesswoman or teacher or doctor or writer.

It might mean homeschooling or driving your children to school each day.

It could mean taking care of an elderly parent or sick child.

But no matter what we moms do each day—no matter whether we have “outside jobs” or not—no matter whether our children are grown or still live at home—we will always be moms. Our children will always be our children—even when they’re grown and have children of their own.

Being a mom means hurting when our children or our husbands hurt. It means loving our families so much that our hearts (almost!) can’t hold all the love. It means working until we’re so tired we can hardly stand up. It means kissing bruises and bandaging scrapes. It means making endless amounts of macaroni and cheese. It means reading the same bedtime story so many times that we have it memorized. It means making our children wear jackets because we’re cold. It means helping with homework and praying we got it right. It means watching our children grow up and leave home. It means changing roles as our children grow up and give us grandchildren.

One thing that never changes is the purpose of a mom. A mom sets the tone for her house. She teaches her family to love and to serve as she loves and serves them. She shows God’s love to her friends and family.

A mom’s purpose is to be a blessing to her family and to be blessed by them. It’s building relationships with her husband and her children. It’s caring and being cared for. It’s loving more than you thought possible. It’s understanding just a little about how much God loves each of us even though it’s hard to imagine a love deeper than the one we feel for our children. It’s a gift from God. It’s the best thing about me.

Fulfilling Your Purpose the Wrong Way

Oh, yes!  There is a wrong way to fulfill our purpose.  I’ve been there. Maybe you have. As we look in the Bible, we see some of our fellow brothers and sisters have too.

purpose

Two Biblical examples of fulfilling our purpose the wrong way immediately pop to mind.  Praise God for showing us we are not the only ones that struggle with this. This is part of the dangling fruit that Satan holds in front of us. He tries to make us think our purpose is something other than it is, or that we know the best way to fulfill it. Sadly, sometimes we fall for Satan’s delusions. But praise be to God and his amazing forgiveness, which is weaved throughout our journey.

Before we dig into the Bible stories, let’s dig into our stories.

I want you to take a few moments and think about what most concerns you about your purpose.

  1. What about your purpose concerns you?
  2. Why does it concern you?
  3. Dig a little deeper…answer the above why question, with another “Why?”
  4. Have you arrived at the root of the issue or do you still need to ask yourself “Why” a few more times?

Maybe, as you answered the first question, the answer dealt with not knowing your purpose, getting it wrong, missing the opportunity, not knowing if you are doing it right, etc.   There could be lots of answers here but more often than not, if we drill down far enough we hit the true vein of what concerns us most.  We are afraid. Afraid of (you fill in the blank). This fear is actually a lack of trust in God that can cause us to fulfill our purpose in the wrong way.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

King Saul

King Saul, handpicked by God himself to be the first King of Israel, was afraid of what would happen if Samuel didn’t arrive on time to make the sacrifice before they went into battle. So Saul took matters into his own hands and performed the sacrifice himself (1 Samuel 13). His purpose was to lead God’s people. Not only was he supposed to lead them into battle physically, but spiritually as well.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:10-18

Saul had his physical armor on but he was not holding his shield of faith very well. Instead of being able to extinguish the flaming arrows of fear that the evil one was throwing, Saul allowed the arrows to ignite his fear. His fear then convinced him step out of his position/purpose and into Samuel’s position. In not trusting that God could take care of the battle, even if his men did run away, Saul committed a foolish thing.

“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.  But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
1 Samuel 3:13-14

Moses

The fear of doing it wrong can paralyzes us, if we let it. It paralyzed Moses, after he started out fulfilling his purpose the wrong way.

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.
Exodus 2:11-15

Side Note

Did you catch that? Moses looked around to make sure no one would see the sin he was about to commit. He was not being led by God in this moment but by his anger. We can only hypothesize here but could it have been possible that Moses knew he was put into the Pharaoh’s household to help the Jews?  His mother may have guided him in this thought. And if he did know, maybe he started taking action into his own hands instead of waiting for God to tell him now is the time. We know for sure that Moses’ murderous anger does not fulfill God’s purpose and we know he knew that too by the fact that he glanced around to make sure no one was watching.

One of the lessons that we can take from this event is that when we are working outside of God’s law, we cannot fulfill God’s purpose the way He intended it to be fulfilled. God can redeem us from our mistakes, and give us other opportunities to fulfill our purpose of glorifying Him in every situation. We know this to be true because He did it for Moses.

We need to guard our hearts and test our thoughts and our actions to make sure they are in line with God’s ways instead of our own.

Paralyzing Fear

Like Moses,  we may take a step back from our purpose, in fear that we are going to mess up or make things worse than we already have made them. Oh how Satan would love for us to do this. But what Satan means for bad, God can turn around and use.

Satan may have thought he had quieted Abraham’s desire to fulfill his purpose by keeping him out of Egypt for so long, but God used the time to train Abraham. His training led him to be more reliant on God and less reliant on himself.

Fear & Fulfilling

Fear, my dear sisters, will keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose the right way and there is nothing outside of God that we should fear. So next time fear starts to knock on your door, remember to not engage it. Run from the fear to God and trust that He knows more than we can imagine and His plan is a good one. Then, you will not have to worry about fulfilling your purpose the wrong way.

But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Hebrews 10:39

Good Instructions for Good Purposes

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8

purpose

It’s time to go to the grocery store again. How can these little people eat food so fast?! You scan the cupboards and fridge, writing down what you need to make the meals for the coming week.

Armed with a plan, you round up your small herd of children, the diaper bag, the sippy cups, your purse, the coupons, toys for the baby, the stroller for the oldest to push, food rations, and emergency flare, and proceed to count the kids as you load them into the van. 

You are a woman on a mission! Groceries must happen, because, wouldn’t you know it, the family eats every day. Sometimes three times! And you are the preparer of the food. So you smile, pop in an audiobook to count the trip as school, and mentally go over the store so you can get in and out as quickly as possible. 

As you roll into the parking lot and prepare for the Grand Unloading, it hits you: You forgot the grocery list!

The camera zooms in on your face and for a brief moment you are frozen in time. Then you wail and collapse to the floor in despair. Outwardly, of course, you take a deep breath and brave it anyway. 

In the end, you survive. You leave the store with groceries. However, it felt more like wandering in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights and you’re pretty sure cocoa puffs weren’t on the list.  

Purpose. 

Our purpose is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others well. For us moms part of that is to teach our kids to know and love the Lord, pointing ourselves and our children to Him in all things. Our instructions on how to carry out our purposes are found in God’s Word. 

Far too often we’re stumbling along the aisles without really looking to God’s Word for guidance on how to go about this business of living and parenting for Him. Ladies, when we do that, we might as well walk into the grocery store without a list! (I know, right? The horror.)

But we, dear women, are blessed to have God’s instructions right at the tip of our fingers. 

How to teach our children about Jesus?

How to deal with our own mom anger?

How to have a godly marriage?

How to raise boys of honor?

How to sit at the feet of Jesus?

God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives gives us the guidance and instructions we need to pursue the purposes we have been given. But the wonderful news? Ultimately, it is God Himself who fulfills His good purposes for us. We have the privilege of being a part of that journey, and can trust Him with the rest.

Can I encourage you (and myself) to know our instructions and our Instructor well? Be in God’s Word! I know it’s hard. Sometimes there are seasons where creative Bible reading and prayer time are needed. But we can do it if we make it a priority.

Make the effort to hide God’s Word in your heart. Read up and find out what it says about a certain topic, and ask God for the eyes to see and the heart to understand what He wants you to do.

The more we know the scriptures the more we know our instructions for the purposes we have been called to. It may not look like a grocery list, but it will sure keep us from wandering the aisles of the Christian life!

Lord, please help us to look to You and Your Word when we deal with struggles and uncertainty. Help us to run to scripture for guidance instead of wandering life’s situations without it. In our parenting especially, Lord, teach us to look to You for instruction, and trust that You will bring about Your good purposes in our lives and the lives of our children. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

When No One Claps For You

Every day we notice all the little things our people do. We encourage our spouses. We cheer for our little people. Every day we hope that what we do has deep and lasting meaning to those we love. 

We notice.

We clap.

We cheer. 

hope

Yet as moms, what about us? Do we still need a word of encouragement? Do we need someone to clap for us? 

Being a mom is hard work! It’s tempting to lose hope that what we do is of any significance. 

We make it on time to appointments. We carry in all four library bags. We pay the late fees. We call the insurance company. We pay the bills. We pack the lunches. We make supper, well, if cereal is considered supper; we made it. We pick up the milk. We pick up the coats off the floor, again.

And as we tuck the kids into bed with kisses and go out to the finally quiet kitchen, does anyone notice? 

Maybe our children said a thank you throughout the day…maybe not. 

Maybe our husbands notice the house was picked up…maybe he had a rough day and didn’t notice. Maybe a parent stopped in and gave us a compliment…maybe we don’t have parents close. 

There just might be a chance that no one noticed and no one clapped for us moms today. Let’s face it…it just might happen. 

I’m just going to say it out loud… I NEED someone to notice me. 

I need someone to cheer me on! Yet many times, clapping just doesn’t come. 

Searching for clapping 

When I need encouragement, I find myself with one of these two reactions… 

  • I go to others and search for their attention. 
  • I go to God for His Truth. 

When I go to others, I generally go looking for something to do. Something to do, so that when I am done, people will notice and clap. 

I sign up to be on that one extra committee. People pass out compliments to people on committees. 

I look for reactions from social media, I post something on Facebook to get attention. Perhaps I’ll be sure to use only the most awesome pictures on Instagram.

I may even use a combination of social media and things I do…hello, Pinterest. Anyone can find the cutest idea on Pinterest and use it at the big event. This would considered a two-for-one clap. 😉 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a great way to keep up with friends. Instagram is an awesome way to see what is up in someone else’s life. And Pinterest is, well…inspiring to say the least. It can help us create memories and happy smiles. Neither is wrong. That is NOT my point here. 

My point is: I can not go to these places to get love, affirmation, or ‘clapping’. 

 

Why? Why not?  

Let me tell you why. This attention and this clapping… it lasts for just one minute. 

Then, I have to hop on the next committee and get some more “atta girls”. I have to find the next awesome thing to post or the next gorgeous centerpiece to find and create from Pinterest. 

It only lasts a minute. Maybe a day. Maybe a week if I’m lucky. Yet, it never fills me up for long. Believe me, I know! I may have tried it a time or two! 

Let’s be honest though. Sometimes this crazy hopping from one thing to the next is really at my family’s great expense. 

Take hope!

Friends, I’ve found another option: God! 

God doesn’t need us to be on any committees. God doesn’t care how many pixels our Instagram picture is. He doesn’t care how many likes we get on Facebook. God sees our heart! He can give us the confidence we need to go on.

Wait, there’s more! God, He is truthful. We may forget, but sometimes those voices out there don’t always tell us the truth. God is truthful. He may tell us we need to change something or that we need to get rid of some sin in our life. He may be giving us a “Standing Ovation”. He tells us the truth. We can take His kind words to heart. 

He sees all the little things we do in love. Those little things we do for our children. Those things no one else seems to notice. He sees when we set aside the book are reading to be with our husband. He sees when we do the laundry even when we would rather just rest. He sees us clear off the kitchen counter for the fourth time today. 

hope

The God who sees it all is always available. We can run to Him for a word of affirmation. He is our Hope. Our significance is found in Him. He is always ready to give us a pat on the back. He notices and cares about us. Even if no one else is clapping. 

What do you do when no one claps for you? What do you do when no one notices all you have done? Where do you go to find someone to clap for you? Run to the Father, friends, and know that you’re loved.