For a moment, I stopped. I thought about a picture I have on my desk. It’s a couple years old and contains my four kids, all together, on stair steps. I love it; it makes me smile.
I realized in that moment that it was the only plaque I ever needed. It represented my life’s true accomplishment: four beautiful children who grace my life with love and laughter (...okay, and sometimes a little aggravation too).
So much pressure to perform rests on us, as woman, whether your job is at home or in an office. But with my children, I can be myself, and they love me, warts and all. That’s the kind of comfort and security not even the best job can bring, and the reward for a shared, selfless, life that only mothers know.
The smell of a newborn, the giggle of a toddler, the imagination of a tween and the fun that teenagers bring… after they consume every ounce of food in the pantry. I can painlessly imagine my life as a mediocre employee, with no awards to speak of, but I perish the thought of a life without children. All that zaniness and all that tenderness-- I just could not live without.
Today, let’s remember to appreciate all that there is in motherhood, and celebrate every moment. Whether you are the mother of one, or many-- we all have only eighteen short years to enjoy the ride. While the awards and accolades we receive at work won’t benefit anyone outside our job, the reward of raising kids in the loving admonition of the Lord will not only bless us and our children, but others as well. The awards are limitless and eternal.
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)
Father, Help me to remember that no matter how mundane this day is and the tasks within, that you are shaping my children through me. Help me to take that job seriously and embrace its call. Help me to revel in the goodness and shun the things that marginalize the importance of this job. Today, I will remember that you are my reward and the good things you bring into my life are all of the things I really need.
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By: Emily Goss
When I was in college, I took a creative writing class. We were given the assignment of writing a piece called, “Who are You?”
“Well, that’s not vague at all,” I thought. I was secretly cringing because we would have to share our writing with the whole class.
I began writing, and it was much more complicated than I thought. I started listing all of my “roles:” daughter, sister, friend, student, and oh yeah, Christian. When it came time to share, I found myself feeling so self conscious and exposed, telling this class of strangers who I was. My list seemed to fall short. I was missing an essential element.
Fast forward ten years and not much has changed. The struggle with identity is real.
Everywhere you turn, questions of “Who are you?” stare you in the face. Profiles and “about me” bios on social media seem to have me scratching my head. Please sum up who you are in 140 characters or less…
Who do you say you are? Who do you believe you are?
In recent years, the temptation has been for me to define myself as “Mom.” The role of a mom is most definitely all consuming and we are called “mom” some one hundred million times a day. “Mom” is who I am to three sweet blessings.
However, I have to be careful not to let that become my sole identity. Just think about it this way, if a mom is who I am, then what happens when I’m an empty nester and I don’t have all of the “mom” responsibilities any more? Do I lose my identity?
Being a mom is something that I do and a calling I cherish, but it does not define me.
The same can be true for the title of “wife.” If I define myself as wife and find my identity in that title, what happens if the unthinkable happens, and I lose my husband? Then I lose who I am.
Our identity has to be built on something stronger than a title we possess. It must be built on a person. And that person is Jesus Christ.
My dad used to tell me before I would go out as a teenager, “Remember whose you are.” He wasn’t referring to me being his daughter, he was emphasizing the importance of me remembering who I belong to. I am a daughter of the Most High God. If I can remember whose I am, I will remember WHO I am.
I am a daughter of the King. “He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:5
I am a new creation in Him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am righteous and holy. “And put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24
When I see who I am in Christ, why would I want to take on a worldly title as my identity? He is so much more!
Lets make sure we cherish our calling as moms but are careful not to confuse it with our identity. Say it with me, “A mom is what I do and who I am to my kids, but it does not ultimately define me; only Jesus can do that.”
Word of the Day:
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
Jesus, Thank you for the high calling of motherhood. Forgive me for placing too much weight at times on my role as a mom. Forgive me for making that my identity. Change my mindset to how you see me, God. May I not look to the world to tell me who I am when I already know whose I am. Thank you that I am a daughter of the King. Amen.
By: Kandice Adams
The thought of raising kids was so much easier in my dreams. I remember being pregnant and having their lives all mapped out for them. They would be perfect kids, who lived in a perfectly clean house. They would always eat healthy; they would have perfect friends, who would be great influences, and they would always be great students. Everything would be… perfect.
When they were born, we went about our perfect plan to carry out their lives, and you could say that we were a bit insane. We ensured that the house was as “sterile” as possible which meant no animals of any sort were allowed, and visitors were hand-checked at the door. When our children became toddlers, we placed them in private daycares to make sure they had an early jump on their education.
As they grew up, our perfect plans for their lives were challenged. They ate healthy and they had great friends and were great students, but more often, real life happened, and my carefully laid out plans for their lives were changed by the circumstances that we encountered. Raising my kids forced me to realize that I had attempted to fashion their lives on the mountaintop like so often we attempt to do in our spiritual lives.
On the mountaintop everything is pristine, and living in a perpetual state of worship is easy because the circumstances are ideal and life is grand. During those times, it feels like heaven is touching earth and nothing can stem the flowing joy… but there is no challenge to catalyze growth.
The valley is where real life happens; where friends aren’t always perfect; where situations are sometimes bleak, and plans go awry; therein lies the opportunity for spiritual growth.
While we enjoy the mountaintop because of the lack of challenge, He provides those experiences to prepare us for the valley, to prepare us for when situations arise and life happens. Spiritual growth does not occur amid mountaintop experiences, but instead it thrives in the sometimes mundane and often uncomfortable perpetual rhythm of life.
By pointing to Christ, we teach our children that the goal is not to have the perfect life, where there are no bumps or bruises, or disappointments or fears; but our aim is the excellent life where, though we fall, we get back up; though we are crushed on every side, we are not destroyed. By pointing to Christ, we teach our children to live and thrive between the mountaintops, in the depths of the valley because it is there that our relationship in Christ is strengthened. It is there that spiritual growth occurs.
Friends, though it is difficult as a parent to not dream of the perfection that lives on the mountaintop, we must lead our children down the side of the slope, because Jesus left the mountain, to walk in the valley beside us. It is in the reflection of Christ that we must live our lives and guide the lives of our children. The true test of our spiritual lives is in exhibiting the power of Christ as we walk in the valley.
Word of the Day:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4)
Father, I need your guidance today. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to make my children’s lives the perfect mountaintop experience that I forget that you have created us for a life of excellence in the valley. Please infuse in me the wisdom to walk before my children and show Christ to them in every step along the way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
By: Katie Gibson
Several months ago my daughter entered the adventurous and tumultuous stage known as “toddlerhood.” She’s abso-freakin-lutely as adorable as can be… most of the time. Then other times there are molars and boo-boos, frustration, boredom and everything in between.
It’s on those occasions that I’ve learned one thing that brightens her countenance, dries her tears and makes her forget her “troubles” (dear me).
There’s a framed photo, perched on top of our television stand, a family picture that includes her very favorite person...
No, not me— “Daa-Daa.”
Bethany is a Daddy’s girl through and through. If the phone rings, “Daa-daa! Daa-daaaaa!” If someone walks through the door, “Daa-daa!"
I can’t blame her. I’m head-over-heels for him too.
But Bethany can’t see that photo from her low vantage point… not without being lifted. Oh, but when I pull her into my arms and lift her close to the cherished snapshot, her entire being is overcome with joy by the mere sight of Daa-Daa.
Like my girl, I’ve been known to have a few rough days of my own (hard to believe, I know.)
And there I sit, in a pile of pity— disheartened by life, debilitated by depression. Frozen in space and time and seemingly unable to move forward with the hopes, the dreams, the life God has laid out before me.
And you know what I’ve learned? I may be 30, but sometimes I just need a friend who can lift me up as well.
No, not literally. Bless you. That’s certainly not happening.
Instead, I need someone to lift me up, metaphorically, to see the smiling face of Father God. I need someone to remind me of His constant love and care. I need someone to pray with me, to encourage me, and to point me to His strong arms.
In the past, I thought I could do life on my own, but over the years I’ve learned that I cannot. I’m so thankful that, thanks to the Lord’s wisdom, I am now surrounded by some amazing friends of faith who both challenge and encourage me in my daily walk.
Sister, we need each other. Don’t fall into the lie that you can do life alone. Instead, begin to surround yourself with Jesus-loving friends who will lift you up when you’re having a bad day and can’t see the Father’s face in your life.
Do you know a sister who is in need of lifting today? Pick up the phone, write a card or send a message. Pray for her and consider ways you can help her to see the Father’s goodness, and bring a smile back to her face.
Dear friend, are you the one who needs lifting today? God is there, He cares, and He loves you immeasurably. Don’t let fear seclude you. Reach out to a friend and be honest about where you are. Allow yourself to be lifted.
We can’t do life alone. God designed us for community. Let’s reach out today and live out the responsibility we have to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And as we lift others to see the goodness of the Father, we might just find ourselves lifted too.
Word of the Day:
Two are better than one…if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Father, Forgive me for believing the lie that I can do life alone. I pray that you will help me to discover what it means to live in true community. Give me wisdom to surround myself with friends who will encourage me, and show me how to love them like you do. Thank you for your beautiful design of community. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
By: Kim Crowe
The role of being a stay-at-home mom is often overwhelming. With a kitchen to clean; laundry to wash, fold and put away; and dinner to cook, on top of making sure your kids are fed, safe, and happy; it's no wonder at the end of the day, we are exhausted!
With all of those items on the to-do list, I often forget the one thing that is more important than all of that housework.
God has placed in my care a little human being who will one day be grown and out from under our constant care and supervision. How am I using my time to prepare him?
Life skills are important. After all, our kids can't be grown adults and expect us to cook and clean and make responsible decisions for them. One day they will leave the nest and they need to know how to take care of themselves.
But even greater than the gifts of a clean house or life skills-- there is a legacy of faith and trust in God.
What an amazing gift we can give to our kids-- greater than anything else we could ever teach or give to them because salvation through Jesus is eternal.
It won't break like that toy that was given at Christmas.
It cannot be lost like the blanket or stuffed animal that was left behind.
It cannot be wasted or squandered like money or gift cards.
It is an everlasting hope and relationship with our creator!
The good news is that we were never designed to do it alone. God has called us all as believers to support the people around us, walking shoulder to shoulder, praying for one another and helping each other. We must stay connected with other like-minded Christians in a gospel-preaching, bible-believing church where we and our children can learn about God and grow in our faith.
But it cannot be the church alone that teaches our children. It's starts in the home. It starts with God's word.
"So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19
God has called us to teach our kids about Him all the time-- not just Sundays or Wednesdays, but every moment of every day.
Teaching our kids about Jesus is so important. The world will teach our children to believe in themselves and be the masters of their own lives, while we know that faith in God and surrender to His will is the only way to real and fulfilling life.
And so, God has set this most important task before us. Let’s keep this amazing gift at the forefront of our minds and our eyes on God’s guidance. He shows us what to do and gives us grace to walk in His plan.
Word of the Day:
So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)
Heavenly Father thank you entrusting my child(ren)___(your child(ren)'s name)__ into my care. Help me to remember that your gift of salvation is greater than anything else that I could offer them. Give me grace to teach my children about you. All the while, give me a heart that burns with passion to know you more and more. In Jesus’ Name Amen.