“Not long ago I spoke to a group of Christian women about the importance of keeping prayer and time with God a high priority, even if that means that we must get less sleep or skip certain social and leisure activities to do so. Many responded enthusiastically to this reminder, but some balked. One woman remarked, ‘Sometimes we just need to let go of these “unrealistic spiritual expectations” and take a nap!’
Many Christian today have this attitude. anytime someone starts talking about having tireless spiritual passion and pursuing Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we are tempted to reason, Oh, that’s completely unrealistic. No one can be that passionate about Christ at all times. If we try, we’ll only end up putting unhealthy pressure upon ourselves and getting exhausted. It can’t be done.
…In a culture that promotes busyness and self-indulgence, many of us have adopted a lackadaisical mind-set toward our relationship with Christ. few of us possess any lasting spiritual passion. And we don’t pursue it, because we don’t think it is possible to find it.
In Romans 12:11 Paul said, ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord’ )(NIV), I have often read that verse and wondered, How is it possible to never lose my zeal for God and to always keep my spiritual fervor? Certainly it is possible, or God would not have put it in the Bible.
When I think of set-apart Christian women who have live out this command, I remember the lives of many heroic women…whose example of relentless, unwavering spiritual passion never ceases to amaze and inspire me…When I study the lives of these women who pursed Jesus Christ amid some of the greatest difficulties and trials imaginable, I realize I have no excuse for spiritual slothfulness.
…It is only when we choose to live by the ‘too busy not to pray’ principle that we will experience a thriving walk with Christ and, thus, a life that really works.”
-Leslie Ludy, “The Set Apart Woman”
“Motherhood is not just a job, it is an identity. More importantly, it is an identity that begins and ends with giving. ” -Rachel Jankovic
I just recently finished the book “Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood” by Rachel Jankovic and let me tell you it is a MUST read for any mom! It was such an encouragement and exactly what I needed after a challenging week.
This is Rachel’s second book and the thing I love about her books is not only are they small (about 120 pages) but she is real in them. She talks about the struggles that she has and practical ways to be the mom that God wants you to be.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the book (I have many and you’ll probably see them from time to time on the here ;))…
“The hardest part about this is that we have trained ourselves to be people who think in snapshots. We look at a photo of a dreamy home-and extrapolate a while dreamy life from that one picture. We see calm, clean, simple. We see life without trouble, without endless piles of shoes by the door. We imagine that everything that happens there is calm, clean, and simple. We want that for ourselves-a life that could be summed up in one little picture of happiness.
The problem with pictures is that they have no direction. They have no goals. There are no obstacles in that life of a photograph. And that is the reason that are so appealing. We look at them and yearn for life with no growth, a life of arrival. He made us to need to eat all the time. He made us to need to sleep at regular and long intervals. He made us to need to breathe constantly.
You never look at a picture of a beautiful living room and picture yourself in it sleep-deprived with a bad headache and needing to go to the bathroom. You do not envision that Cape Cod getaway as the place the whole family would get the stomach flu.
Oftentimes mothers want this for this real lives. We always want everything to look as if we have arrived, all the time. That is like focusing entirely on the victory moment. Like a football player who never trains, but only practices his touchdown dance. Like a woman who sets beautiful tables for a living, but never feeds anyone. Real life is messy because it is going somewhere. Things constantly need to be done because people are constantly growing. Repetition should not be discouraging to us, it should be challenging.
When we buy into this kind of idealism, we start seeing things as failures that are anything but. Practice drills are not a waste of time. Having another chance to work on things is not a sign of failure. Having room to improve is not something to be sad about, it is something that should encourage and inspire us. God keeps giving me this to do, because this is what He wants me doing. If this is what He want me doing, then I will do it with my whole being. He gave me this work; I will not back away from it and say it isn’t important. I will not sit on the sidelines of this drill and fuss about it. …
Christian woman who seek to honor God as they work through the mundane, repetitive tasks that are given to them will be used for bigger things. We will not be mothers of little children forever. Lord willing, our work will grow with out children. Our challenges will change. Be a faithful student. God is not training you for no reason. Practice. Practice. Practice. But practice with thanksgiving. Practice with joy. Practice with gratitude. Practice with hope.
Our lives do not culminate in a moment. We should not be hoping for one great photo shoot, because that is not what God is doing with us. Our lives are story-they are interwoven with the next generation in a way that is impossible for us to understand…
Why do you rejoice in making dinner again? Because God rejoices in your doing it cheerfully, and doing it well. Why can you rejoice in cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, running the errands, ]making the beds? Because God delights in a willing and eager student.
Cheerfully embracing the mundane work in your life. diving into the challenges, working harder than you would think was possible at the little. at the trivial, at the boring-theses are all ways to say, “Use me Lord; I am your servant.”
If you’re looking for a smaller book on motherhood that is full of truth and encouraging, this is the book for you!
The Lord has been making it clear to me the past few days that I need to kick the time wasters that I have in my life to the curb. That I can’t do all He’s called me to do if I have so many things distracting me from it.
How many times am I busy texting when my little one comes up to me needing attention and I brush them aside with a nod and “oh really? You should go finish playing that”, so that I can finish my text? How many times am I on the phone when some type of discipline problem comes up that I should take care of, but don’t want to stop talking so I brush it aside with a stern face and “Don’t do that again”? How many times do I just want something mindless to look at so I spend time looking something up on the internet or looking aimlessly through pinterest, when all of a sudden I’ve wasted an hour with nothing to show for it?
There are so many other examples of time wasters such as these that keep me from investing my full self in the calling that the Lord has given me. While their not bad things in and of themselves, they are things that I can spend too much time focused on and become distracted from the things that truly matter.
So I’m marking down this day that the time waster’s MUST go…
Surfing the internet mindlessly time wasting apps movies (other than the occasional one with my husband or kids) texting without purpose calls longer than 30 minutes while my little ones are up…
My focus MUST be clear! I can’t be distracted by these things that keep me from doing my calling. There are so many who need to know the Lord…so many who need help…my own children and husband, especially, need me to pour into them wholehearted and with FULL attention.
I don’t want to waste my life and look back with regret. I want to live with intention. On a mission. Passionate. Whole-hearted. Bold. Loving. Reaching out. Helping. Holding and loving my little ones. Falling more in love with my husband by pouring into our marriage.
But I MUST be single focused to do that. I MUST come up with a plan, otherwise I’ll just keep wishing and nothing will change.
I WANT so badly to have that strong, passionate, burning, radical, fully surrendered relationship with the Lord.
But that means things MUST change. Goals MUST be set. Plans MUST be made. And distractions done away with.
I know I will NEVER look back and say, “I really wish I had spent more time on pintrest or surfing the internet…”
But I WILL look back and say, “I really wish I had spent more time pouring my FULL attention into my kids”
…”I really wish that I had spent more time finding way to bless my husband…”
…”I really wish I had spent more time studying my Bible, journaling, and reading books that challenged and encouraged me…”
…”I really wish I had spent more time becoming a prayer warrior…a intercessor for people, most importantly for my family…”
…”I really wish I had reached out beyond myself to other…”
I don’t want to look back at “I wishes” when I have no excuses to not make them “I will’s“
This morning the Lord pressed on me the question, “Am I really as patient as I may think?” I played over the morning in my head and had to admit I hadn’t been very patient with my kids. Then another question arose, how can I expect my kids to be patient if I’m not displaying it for them to see? How can I tell them to do something and act a certain way, when I’m not doing it? I think back to times that I’m short with my kids because I’m overwhelmed by something, but isn’t that why my 2 year old throws a fit too because she is overwhelmed and instead starts screaming and throwing a fit? What example am I if I don’t show her with my own life how to handle things the right way? I could talk til I’m blue in the face but this is another instances where actions speak much louder than words.
I watch my kids mimic conversations I have on the phone or phases that I use…just the other day one of my girls turned to her sister and didn’t like something she did and said, “I’ve told you over and over again not to do that. Go to your bed. I’ve told you over and over again and you are not listening to me.” While it was very funny (I did correct and tell her she is not allowed to talk to her sister that way ;)), it showed me how much they are listening and how everything I do and say is watched and then done. Even down to how I say “Oh gravy”, what do my girls say? You got it “Oh gravy” (which is super cute! :))!
The quiet nudges in my heart this morning from the Lord made me realize how I have not been being patient with a joyful attitude and that my patience’s with my precious little ones wasn’t were it needs to be. It’s an area now that I see even more I need to work on, again not only for myself but for my kids to see. In order to be the woman after God’s own heart, patience’s is a big attribute I need to display. I thought about these verses as I thought about what the Bible says about it,
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:3-5
“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” Col. 1:22
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” 1 Tim. 6:11
Again not only is patience’s an action but its an attitude. It’s something that you do with joy! When I’m in the middle of doing something and all 3 of my kids are crying and asking me questions, with JOY and PATIENCES I’m to handle the situation instead of my natural responds. When my daughter is having a bad attitude and then starts throwing a huge temper tantrum, I need to respond to her with JOY and PATIENCES. I could give example after example but I’m sure in your own mind you’ve already thought of ones that relate to you.
This quote sums it up for me…Let’s remember that we won’t always have our children with us and what memories do we want to leave them with.
“…The world has a very muddled perception of “self”. The think and tell us to think that we are all little separate entities who might need to go off somewhere to get to know “ourselves”, or that a mother needs to get back to her corporate job to be herself again. Marriages break up because people don’t know who they are anymore. They need to find themselves.
But the Christian view of self is very different. and you need to make sure that it is the one you have. We are like characters in a story. Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered. Who you are is where you are. When you are married, your essential self is married. As the story grows, so does your character. Your children change you into a different person. if you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don’t recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out-look at the people who made you what you are-your husband and your children…if you want to know yourself, concentrate on them.
Those women who try to find themselves by stripping away the “others” will find that they are a very broken thing. This will lead them to resent the people who they think made them that way. She may say, “I used to be so energetic, but all these people take, take, take from me and now I have no time to just be me!” And the world gathers around and comforts her and says she needs some time to follow her dreams.
But the Christian woman needs to see, “I used to be so boring! Now my character has some depth, some people to love, some hardships to bear. Now I have some materials to work with.” A Christian’s woman view is always forward and never back….As married Christian women, our identity is in our husbands. We are their helpmeets. Our calling is people-oriented. It follows that you cannot know what your calling is until you know who your calling is. Until you are married, you are not tied to a specific person. Marriage reorients you entirely. Children do even more. Then it is your calling to help your husband by raising these little people. People, people everywhere and no time for yourself. But remember that this your calling. It belongs to you. They belong to you.
If you want some quality “Me time”, make a date with your husband. Do something special with your children. These people are you. Your identiy is suppose to be intertwined-that is the way God wrote the story, and it is the way He intends us to read it.”
-Rachel Jankovic, “Loving the Little Years”
I don’t know about for you, but this week in my house has been a challenging one. My oldest has a bad cold, my 6 month old is teething and my middle little girl is acting out because I’ve been so distracted with the two other ones. It’s so easy in times like these, when things are overwhelming and you just want a mental “break”, to zone out for a bit in front of a movie or Pinterest or FaceBook.
But today in the busyness with the kids, I felt the Lord challenging and asking me once again: Am I mentally and physically, all there for my family? Where am I running to renew my strength? A movie? Zoning out into pinterest? Texting a friend and tell them about my crazy day? Or am I running to the Lord for strength. Running to Him with the worries of the day and for peace when everything around me is chaotic. When all 3 little ones are crying for me at the same time, am I quick to become frustrated or quick to ask the Lord for patience and strength to handle it all? When I’m exhausted from not sleeping the night before, am I looking at the internet or a movie to be a “break” or am I looking to the Scriptures to renew my focus?
The world yells at us to have “me time” and pulls at us to spend that time doing things that aren’t going to truly fulfill or help us. Does that mean a movie, spending time on the internet or texting a friend are bad? No, not at all! But it is when we are looking to use those things to mentally check out. Or when we are stressed and overwhelmed and we’re running to those things first, instead of running to the Lord for strength and peace.
The Lord reminded me of Psalms 119:114 today,
Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in Thy word.
The Lord is our Hiding Place, our refuge, our strength and our shield to protect us. So when things are crazy around us, overwhelming situations coming up, and when we are weak; let us draw near to the Father and hide in His strength and love. Let us hope in His words and draw our focus back to Him.
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint ” Isaiah 40:29-31
As I’m sitting here on my couch drinking my chamomile tea, I’m thinking about the pressures we as women put on ourselves to be a perfect wife and mom.
For me, I envision that my house must be spotlessly clean, my closets neatly organized, my children always clean and well behaved playing together nicely, my baby perfectly content all the time, a gourmet meal every night set on a perfectly decorated table, and my appearance at the end of the day all clean and fresh.
So when reality strikes and the house WAS clean before I started making dinner and my cabin fever kids destroyed it in less than 5 minutes, The meat didn’t thaw out in time so we’re having fish sticks for dinner. The baby is teething so he has spent the day crying and wanting to be held. And I was clean and smelling good this morning when I took a shower, but since then my little one has spit up on me more times that I can count.
Now don’t get me wrong, having a good meal, clean house, well behaved kids and looking nice when my husband comes home aren’t bad thing at all! I believe we should strive for these things every day! But my problem was that I was putting my value of being a good mom and wife in these superficial things. Maybe you can relate? This pressure on being a “perfect” mom and wife, that when you fall short by something so small as dinner being a little late, you mentally beat myself up.
Then there is the comparing…how many times have you compared yourself with another woman to “rate” yourself good or bad for how your doing? I know I have. I’ve found myself comparing myself with other moms and wives who seem to have everything together. And fell into the trap of thinking that my “rating” of being a good mom is if I breastfeed for a year, if I do cloth diapers instead of disposable, if I have super smart kids, if my kids never argue and are always well-behaved, etc. And that I’m a good wife if I make a delicious meal, have a spotlessly clean house, and my husband doesn’t have to lift a finger, as I have everything under control. But the Lord has been showing me quite a lot this past few weeks, that I’ve had it all completely WRONG in my focuses!
He showed me how I have been basing my worth in all of these superficial things and when they don’t happen that I mentally tear myself down and think I am a terrible mom and wife. The biggest problem with everything was that I was trying to do all these things, which in and of themselves aren’t bad, but I was doing them in my OWN strength and looking to make MYSELF look like the perfect wife and mother. Instead of looking to the Lord for HIS strength to run my house smoothly and HIS approval and to find my worth. Let me give you an example…
My little guy by the time he was a few weeks old, was on the right track. He slept great, only waking up once in the middle of the night, was the best one to breastfeed out of all my 3 little ones and was by far my easiest baby. From my past two kids as well, I probably had a little pride in the fact that I had my kids on a schedule and sleeping through the night at an early age. But when he hit 4 months old everything went downhill with the dreaded 4 month regression…then 5 month regression. He started not sleeping at all at night and then started not nursing as well either. What did I do? I started mentally beating myself up as I rated myself on how good of a mom I was because of how my baby slept and ate. I kept questioning myself and wondering what I was doing wrong? I mean, I must be a bad mom and doing something wrong because I can’t get my baby to sleep or eat good!
Then one night I had finally hit my end and was so exhausted at a lost for what to do. And while I was talking to my husband telling him that I must be doing something wrong and that I’m such a bad mom because I can’t keep everything running smoothly right now. He said, “Erin, he’s a baby. A unique baby. No matter what you may read on the internet, every baby is different. You have to stop stressing over it and questioning yourself. You’re a great mom and him not sleeping is not a reflection of you. He’s a baby.”
It was like a wake up call to me! The Lord used him saying that to truly open my eyes that evening to how much I base my worth and value as a wife/mom on things so superficial like how well my baby slept/ate. He whispered to my heart how I needed to stop stressing over things like that and put them in His hands. And trust that the Lord would equip me with what I needed for the day and wisdom when I come to things with my little ones, as I kept my focus on Him.
Another example is that when I know we have people coming over and I will start rushing around trying to clean everything. And my husband is always reminding me that everything doesn’t have to be perfectly clean when people come over. And I’ve always quick to say that it’s a reflection of me and how well I keep our house. While that is true in some ways probably, the Lord again showed me how I’m looking for people for my value and identity and looking to what others think of me more than the Lord. Again having a clean house when people come over isn’t at all a bad thing (I’m sure people appreciate that! Lol), but it was my motivation in having that clean house, so I could look like a great housewife. It brings to mind this verse,
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
I share all this with you all this because I think it’s such a problem for us women. This unrealistic expectation we have on ourselves to always have everything perfect and we can’t. And us looking to other people to find our approval or to out do each other as moms/wives. We have to let go and let the Lord guide our days. We have to stop stressing over the baby not sleeping and realize that it’s not going to be forever that they’re not going to sleep but to snuggle and enjoy our little one because they grow too fast.
I think about what I want my kids to remember me as when they are older…how mom always kept a perfectly cleaned house and did this or that…or that mom invested in the small things, took time to enjoy them and made things fun and enjoyable. I don’t want to be a frazzled overtired and overworked mom, I want to enjoy my kids and this beautiful season that we are in right now. I want to show my girls what a woman of God truly looks like, so that they can walk in that as well. I want my husband to have confidence that his wife has everything under control at home and that I’m fully looking to the Lord for my strength.
If everything doesn’t get done on my to-do list, who cares. Instead I’ve been asking myself these questions at the end of the day: how did I redeem my time today? How did I make the most of the time with my kids and husband? How did I honor the Lord with my attitude throughout the day? These are the things that truly matter.
So let’s stop putting our value on superficial things and instead put our value in who God says we are and how we are walking out our calling that He has given us. That is what truly matters and is going to make a difference more than the most organized and clean house ever could.
“…being a good mother doesn’t mean being perfect. It means becoming dependent upon the only One whole is. Whenever I lean fully and completely on Jesus Christ, He faithfully points me to His perfect pattern for motherhood, one situation at a time.”
-Leslie Ludy, “Set Apart Motherhood”