My first six years of motherhood I lived pulled tight like a tug-of-war rope. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home that taught me the Bible, the Gospel, or the way to follow Jesus. I also didn’t know how to make home. How do I manage to keep a house clean? And how do I raise a child to know Jesus—and eat their broccoli? I really wanted to rock it, but I never was enough.
So I pulled out checklists, tugged on self-sufficiency, and clung tightly to a perfect mom image—and I fell in the mud of depression, anger, and failure.
But then God took the rope.
Do you ever play tug-of-war with measuring up? Striving to do enough so you can be enough?
Oh, sweet mama. There is a better way for living and the Book of Galatians shows us.
Photo Thanks To Unsplash
I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s. I love making cards with the kids and reminding people I love them—I hate the expectations of needing to do something. Kind of feels fake if it’s expected.
And then there’s the question, what is love? If it were up to marketing, love must come with roses and diamonds—or breakfast in bed—or kissing on the beach at sunset. Then come kids and the love picture shifts. Love now looks like pictures of mom and dad kissing in a field while kids go crazy.
Whatever picture of love we grasp for, the gifts it offers don’t last. Like a dozen roses, they seem sweet for a moment, but just wither and are thrown out with the weekly trash.
But God has something greater for us, ladies. God has a gift for you this Valentine’s. It’s not wrapped in foil. It doesn’t melt in our mouth. But, oh, it’s the sweetest gift of love—and it’s yours this Valentine’s. Listen below.
My thoughts trapped me in a dark pit. When I attempted to climb the slippery walls, of “just try harder,” I’d fall back down, more bruised and depressed. God’s love grew dim.
Just try harder. Keep your house clean—serve your husband—teach your kids—be creative—cook healthy—serve the poor—volunteer—start a business—get in shape—be like that other mom. Just try harder.
And as the weeks lagged on, I felt more miserable, constantly failing to measure up — and I no longer felt loved by God.
I labeled myself: unlovable.
Although I believed in the Gospel, I added my list of qualifications on top of grace.
The same thing happened to the Galatians in Paul’s day. So, what can we learn from the Galatians?
How can we experience God’s love?
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
We had $68 left in our bank account and two months to go before school loans kicked in for our last year of seminary. We diligently searched for summer jobs and prayed for God to give us a gig. We needed His provision.
What can we do when the provision of God seems empty?
Photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash
We’ve been in our house since October—and our belongings haven’t arrived. Two months of no answers, no date for delivery, and no bed for the boys or a kitchen blender.
I thank God we have enough to buy necessities, but every day I wonder, will we ever see our things? Will Jason get back all his books (and notes) from seminary? Will I see all the handmade gifts my kids have made since they were born? How about the child rocker handed down in our family from one generation to the next?
At this point, I’m not sure. My heart grieves these treasures—and then God reminds me of something.
This week we Decked the Halls. Twinkle lights strung on the Christmas tree, stockings hung by the fire, Frank Sinatra holiday tunes, and energized boys running laps around the kitchen.
In all the holiday fun, I decided to take some berry branches I grabbed at the craft store and make a small, simple wreath to hang on a coat hook by our front door.
Not so simple.
These cloth-covered wire thingy-ma-bobs kept popping out of place as I shoved and twisted. Ugh. Why did they make them so hard to bend?
As I twisted and formed the wired branches, God whispered some wisdom.
Photo by Anita Austvika on Unsplash
“Mom, who do you love more?” My sons ask, both looking up with their precious faces and competing hearts.
Inwardly I think, “Depends on who’s obeying better.”
Did I just write that?
Outwardly I reply, “I love both of you equally. Both of you have my whole heart.”
They run off to play and I run into pondering God’s love as I brown meat for tacos.
- Does God love me more when I obey?…
- Does God love me less when I’m foolish?….
- Does God love me more when I rock housecleaning and Bible study?…
- Does He love me less when the floors are sticky and I was too tired to read?
- Does the measure of God’s love fluctuate like the feelings of love we have toward our kids?
Does God love us the same ALL the time?
photo thanks to unsplash
As soon as the sun slivers through my blinds, I’m serving needs—picking up the babbling toddler, packing a PB&J for my preschooler, and writing my mental list for Target. And that’s just the first ten minutes.
It’s no wonder some days I feel more poured out than poured in. On such a day, I sat down to pray, closed my eyes, and silently started, “Lord, I worship You. What do You need me to do?”
God’s response surprised me. (more…)
This weekend I walked in the damp Pennsylvania woods while the wind rustled the branches and the leaves surrendered drops of captive rainwater. Tink, shh, woo, tink. Maple, dogwood, oak, and beach, all letting go of their holdings, adding to the colorful canvas on the floor of the woods. I drew near to God who created these trees as I stared in silence.
More than 25 years ago I wandered these woods—lost and searching, not knowing what my heart ached and grasped for. The golden hues of the Maple tree whispered something of majesty and I wondered, “Does God exist? And if He does, I want to know Him.”
Looking back over more than two decades of following Jesus, I see times when I simply just lived. Rushing from one “important” thing to the next—barely breathing, let alone wondering at the hue of the golden maple—or leaning in to recognize God’s whisper through the rustling of the leaves.
Are you rushing this Fall? Here is one simple thing we can do to draw closer to God.
My Instagram feed splashes images of quick quotes and inspirational verses intended to remind me of living for Jesus. But this week they seemed to skim my soul rather than refresh it. There is something deeper needed for powerful living than quick tips— the same thing is needed for powerful parenting.
What do we need for powerful parenting?