Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Biblical Motherhood Part 1

I've had it on my heart since I became a mother.

There's no instruction manual and every child is different.

I wanted the Word and nothing but the Word.

And as I searched I came across a lot of well intention-ed books, written by Christians, but not necessarily based entirely on scripture.

Eight years have passed since I became a mother and I am still just as desperate now to know what on earth to do in so many situations that I find myself in with these treasures of mine on a daily basis, as I was back then when my first little one threw himself on the floor that first time.

As I've searched and asked the Lord over the years, there are a few specific scriptures that talk about mothering, but really I've discovered that this mothering gig is just a constant seeking of His face. There are principles all throughout the Word that are necessary for training up our kids. But the details of these principals are going to look a bit different in each of our homes.

There's a part of mothering that leaves me feeling at a loss. And we're not meant to stay there, but to know and believe with all our hearts that our God is faithful to give us all that we need, right when we need it. There is no five-step plan. There's just the promise that Jesus is enough and that when we seek Him, He will tell us what needs doing in each moment of each day.

Once we can surrender to the fact that there is no five-step plan, then we need to be willing to actually do what his Word says. Because the truth is, training up treasures is work... in fact, it's hard-heart work. It takes time, it takes prayer, it takes patience & repetition, it takes surrender to our own wills, to our own desires, it takes humility and the ability to continuously remember that we have an audience of One, Christ alone is the only one that we need to please as we mother our children.

With that said, I thought to post the notes from the Biblical Motherhood Study that my friend Ghena and I did this past month here in the farmhouse.

My precious friend Ghena has 9 amazing treasures. We've spent hours together working through this study and I am confident that our learning has only just begun. I've learned so much from the way this amazing woman mothers. I've learned from our conversations, but I've learned even more, simply from watching the way she lives her life.

I must confess that this class was another area in my life where I know the Lord has asked me to leave comfort for courage. I'm terrified of speaking in front of others. But even more than that, I'm terrified that I might misrepresent the Lord, that I might say the wrong thing. My prayer for this study was not to come up with the perfect plan for all mothers. The truth is that my friend Ghena and I are just as much in the thick of this mothering thing as any other mother. There is nothing special about us except Christ in us. Our desire for the entire study is to lead us all further into the Word. I often find myself going back to James 1,

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it saysAnyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."

I have been in love with this verse for a long time because the truth is that the Word of God gives us absolutely EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). I think for myself, it has often been the last place that I go. Mainly because it's a lot easier to go to a book with a ten-step plan than it is to wait on the Lord, and search the Word daily, and believe that He really will tell us how to love on these kids in such a way that our hearts and theirs, will be continually changed for His glory. 

May these notes encourage Mama hearts and bring us Mamas further and further into the "perfect law that gives life." :)

Here it goes... Week 1

This is not a perfect course on motherhood.

There will be no five step plans here to tell you how to solve all the issues that you come across as you raise up these treasures of yours. We are in no way “experts” on the subject of motherhood, in fact we are merely walking alongside each of you. We’re in this mothering journey together.

Our hope is that this course will spark in you a desire to seek your Savior more and more each moment of each day, that it will encourage your heart as you discover the great purpose and privilege of raising up souls for the glory of God, and that you will be inspired by the vast amount of wisdom, help, purpose and hope that His precious Word has to offer in such a season as this.

This 4-week study is not about Ghena and Kacy and their mothering skills… It’s about Jesus and all that He can and will do in and through us as Mama’s, as we diligently seek His face and have the boldness to believe that He WILL indeed do what He says He will do in us and through us as we all grow up together in HIM.

With that being said, what better place to start than to discover
            1. The purpose of mothering...

If someone asked you, “What’s the ultimate goal of motherhood”, what would you say?

Mothering can be so many things. It’s a call to discipleship, sacrifice, and training. It’s a continual opportunity to love, nurture, and serve. It sanctifies us, and brings us closer to our Jesus if we let it. It’s a daily act of worship. But what’s the main, main thing? When we wake up in the morning what drives us to be intentional for His glory, with all the little people running around our home?

Isaiah 61:3 … talks about planting “oaks of righteousness for the display of His splendor.” Could that be it? Could our main goal as mothers be to raise them up in such a way that they might display His splendor to the world?

Do you believe that you are truly called to be a mother (second to being a wife)? Do you find joy in this calling? And how does this calling make you feel? What is your emotional response to this call? Begrudging? Overwhelming? Fulfilling? Joyful? We need to be honest with ourselves here. It's important to identify this because once we know how we really feel about mothering, if we feel something that is not in sync with how the Lord wants us to view mothering, we can confess it, and be able to move forward in the joy that the Lord wants to give us in our mothering.

2.       2The way we see our children…

How do we see our children? I mean really see them?
How should we see them?

If we don’t see them as individual souls created to live for eternity, then what lies might we be believing?
Are we believing that they were created for our convenience? Are we believing that someone else could do a better job? That mothering really isn’t our thing and that we aren’t really good at it?

Or are we believing the truth that mothering is an act of worship? 

If you have a child, then you have been called to motherhood.

And if you are indeed called to motherhood, are you living joyfully in that gift?

Do the choices in your life reflect that… in terms of your time, your schedule, your sleep, your activities.
Do you trust that Jesus will give you all that you need? Because if you don’t believe that, then the door is wide open for Satan to tell you the lie that Jesus isn’t enough, and that surely the woman who does crafts with your kids, or has a degree in child psychology, or whatever it is for you, can care for you kids way better than you can. And when we believe that, we start to believe the lie that we need to hand our kids over to someone else, or something else (like TV). Then we start to run the other way instead of pressing in… It can seem easier to throw our hands up in defeat, than to trust that Jesus will help us with each child and each situation, each moment of each day.

And when we think like this, then our children become our enemies and not our allies because we’re making choices out of feelings of inadequacy, instead of out of what Jesus has said he would do for us…  Jesus IS our everything! And He WILL give us every last detail that we need to raise up these treasures for His glory.
He picked you sweet Mamas! He picked you to be the one and only Mama to your children. Sure , there may be other people who can entertain your children in a more fun way than you can, but there is not another person on the planet that can know and pour into their little souls the way that you can. The Lord has enabled YOU to know you kids in a way that no one else can. He picked you. He picked you. And I guarantee you that our Jesus doesn’t make mistakes.

3.       3. The privilege of these mothering days?

Our ultimate goal as Mamas goes deep and lasts for ETERNITY… yes, eternity. Thus our goal as Mamas needs to be purposeful. We need to pour into the hearts of our children, and not simply be meeting their daily needs. We are certainly called to feed them, cloth them, educate them. But our time, our thoughts, our prayers have one consistent, powerful, and eternal purpose…

One author said, “Mothers are in the business of reconciliation… nurturing the reconciliation of their child’s soul to God.” That’s it sweet Mamas. We have these precious treasures under our roof for one grand reason, that they might know and love their Jesus in such a way that they would live their lives fully for His glory. Our goal is not to have well-behaved children. It’s not to teach them good manners, or to turn them into pro athletes. It’s not to get them into the best college or to turn them into rocket scientists. It’s to lead them to their Jesus, through our example and through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and theirs. We need to always be thinking upon the long-term...we’re in this for eternity.

(That’s why I love the verse about raising up “oaks of righteousness.” An oak tree takes nearly 150 years to come into its full fruition. Its growth is SLOW. But in the end, its beauty is magnificent. Motherhood is a lifetime calling. It’s multigenerational. It doesn’t just stop when our kids turn 18. We will spend years pouring His sweet Word into their hearts. We will walk with them, train them, love on them the way that He loves on them, our whole life through.)

 So how does He love? I know you’ve probably read it a thousand times, but let’s go to 1 Corinthians 13 and think about it simply in terms of mothering.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

The Message says it this way…

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”

It’s a tall order. In fact, it’s impossible without the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And the good news is that the only way we’re going to get there is through His work in and through us as we walk forward in Him. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Soak that up sweet sisters! It’s HIM at work in us that will mold us into the kind of Mamas we want to be. Do we need to participate? Absolutely. But the ultimate soul work that needs doing in our lives and our children’s lives, comes straight from the Maker of all things beautiful and good! I love that! That one truth alone has changed my mothering drastically over the years. And on the days where I’m convinced that I will never be the kind of Mama to these kids that I want to be, I go back to this verse, this promise, and I claim it all day long… “Yes, INDEED, He is at work in me and HE ALONE is faithful to complete what He has started. HE WILL COMPLETE it. He WILL, He IS. Here and now, He is at work, sanctifying me and making me more like Himself. Therefore I ALWAYS have hope, even on the not so good days! J

I also want to point out here that our ultimate goal shouldn’t be to control our children. If we understand this truth it will affect so many aspects of our parenting, including the way we discipline. We’ll talk more about this in the weeks to come. But for now, we can soak of these words from Ann Voscamp, “Parenting isn’t about controlling our kids, it’s about letting God control us. Parenting isn’t about controlling our kids, it’s about laying our lives right down.” When our hearts come to know this, I mean really really know this, we can’t help but be changed.

4.       4. The truth that Jesus is the only one who can save.

Our sins are not enough to destroy our kids, and our strengths are not enough to save our kids. Did you hear that? The Lord is able to captivate our kids, despite our greatest sin. AND even if we do our very best to do everything perfectly, it will never be our efforts that actually save our kids… it is solely the work of the Lord in their lives.

5.       5. The immense joy of giving ourselves away.

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read the chapter on love from a most glorious little book by Helen Rosevere, called Living Holiness. You might be wondering what on earth this chapter has to do with mothering? She talked about Christ’s love in a way that compelled me to want to love more like Him. And I’ve found that so many of the questions she posed in the chapter are ones worth pondering as I raise up these treasures to know their Jesus. Like I mentioned earlier, what the Lord asks of us as mothers and what the world asks of as mothers, are two totally different things. On page 104, Helen says it this way,

The sadness of today’s prevalent attitude in so many situations_ ‘what do I get out of it’_ is in stark contrast to the attitude of love stirred by the Holy Spirit in a believers heart_’what can I give to help in this situation?’

‘God so loved the world that He GAVE’… no end, no time limit, no measure, no calculation. His giving could only be called a reckless abandonment of love. Do I love Him in like measure, and am I willing to show it by a similar reckless abandonment? Even though others might call the giving up of my rights to my own selfish ambitions, sacrifice, do I believe that it is in fact only privilege?”

And there it is… As we pour our everything into these precious souls, do we indeed believe it to be PRIVILEGE?

She goes on to ask…

Am I willing to give up time, or sleep, or career…” or plug in whatever it is that the Lord has or is asking you to give up in your own home, in your own circumstance, with your own kids?... Are you willing to do this “Just because (you) love (your) Savior?” And isn’t that the drive behind it all, that we do all that we do because we LOVE OUR SAVIOR? We can’t mother to please man. If we do, we will miss out on the joy of it all. We have an audience of one. That’s it ladies, just one.

Love, as an expression of holiness, will stir such ‘giving’ in our lives.” His kingdom is an upside down one. Our world says watch out for self. Our God says, give all of ourselves. Who are we going to live like? Are we going to give our lives to the honored task of raising up oaks of righteousness for His glory, joyfully, knowing that He is more than able to help us give in such a way that will bring great glory to His eternal kingdom? Do we believe that His ways truly are better than the world’s ways? Are we willing to walk with Him, even if the journey isn’t nearly as picturesque as we would have liked or hoped for? (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Do we truly believe that His plans are better than our plans? (Jeremiah 29:11)

His is an upside-down Kingdom… Just check out the be-attitudes in Mathew 5.
              6.The High privilege of living like our Jesus.

One of our greatest tools in motherhood comes from the least likely of places… from a heart of humility.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”.   Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7

As Mamas we are called to great things. The Lord has blessed us with the highest privilege. And with such a high calling comes our deep, deep need for Jesus.

7.       The gift of His Word…

Remembering that we will only mother, as well as we know our Father, we need to be enthralled with His Word. The Lord wants to pour His very self into our lives. He is trustworthy and there is NOTHING that He can’t do for us as we learn to mother for His glory.
I did not grow up in a Christian home, My parents became Christians in my teenage years. So when I first became a mother I was desperate for guidance. And as I searched the scriptures, I was looking for verses that would be specific to mothering. And there are indeed a nice handful of them. But over the years I’ve realized that so much of the Word, although it does not talk specifically about mothers, can easily be applied to motherhood. For example, one of my absolute favorites comes from Colossians 3…  

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Honestly, what Mama doesn’t want to be clothed in compassion? Kindness? Humility? Gentleness? Or patience? Colossians 3 doesn’t specifically talk about mothering. But it’s a very specific way to pray the Father’s heart into our lives, into our homes, and into our relationships with our children. WE have memorized this verse as a family. When I feel on edge, I start whispering these words to myself. When a child is struggling with their tone of voice or an unkind attitude towards a sibling, I simply ask them, “what do you want to be clothed in?” And they have learned to list these qualities.

His Word is powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12). In His Word is everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2Timothy 3:15-17)

If we want to do anything in life well… if we want to mother well… We need always to start in the Word. We cannot go to the world. Oprah, Dr. Phil, and even the well intentioned opinions of many “Christian” authors, cannot be our end all. If the person we are seeking council from is not giving council from a correct understanding and firm foundation in the scriptures then we must take their advice with a grain of salt. The Lord’s ways are the best ways, hands down. I didn’t say they were easy, they are simply best. J
Let’s soak up the following verses and discover how they might specifically bless our mothering…

Colossians 1:9-12
1 Thessalonians  5:16-18
Ephesians 4:29-32
Ephesians 2:14
Galatians 1:10
Galatians 2:20
Colossians 4:17
Isaiah 26:3
Ephesians 3:18-21
1 Corinthians 13
James 1:19-25

And there are sooo many more.

Has there been a specific verse that has blessed you or challenged you along the way in your own mothering journey?

8.       Final thoughts

To sum it all up, we have one main goal as Mamas… Reconciliation… leading our kids into a lifelong love relationship with their Jesus. Our goal encompasses so many things. It defines our purpose and theirs; to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It is our sweet calling to live our own lives as examples of Christ alive and well in our own hearts, towards our children. We have the privilege of loving with full abandonment, serving with great joy, forgiving freely, worshiping Him with every dish washed, every diaper changed, every conversation had, every hug given, every meal made, all the time spent on our knees, time spent in intentional/loving correction for the purpose of restoration, selfless handing over of our time, and the joy of giving it all that they might know HIM. (“I have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in truth!” 3 John 1:4)

We are blessed woman to have the privilege of being called Mamas. Let us run the race and persevere with great joy on towards the eternal gift of being with our Savior forever. J

9.       Practical living…

1.       Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight into what lies you believe and where they creep in to your thought process and your interactions with your kids.
2.       Articulate gratefulness for your calling, even when you don’t feel it.
3.       If you trust that the Lord is enough, then you trust that His Word is enough. So go to the WORD. Go there yourself. Don’t just count on what others have said, but go there yourself. {“These are not just idle words for you, they are your very life.” Deuteronomy 32:47}  You cannot not survive, better yet thrive, without the word of God. You need His words to live well.
4.       Be THANKFUL.
5.       Remember that you will only mother as well as you know your Father. So get in the Word, often, and with anticipation that He WILL indeed pour His heart into your heart, as you seek to know Him more and more.
6.       Pray. Never cease to be in conversation with your Jesus. He loves to listen and He has a lot of life-giving stuff to say. J
7.       The truth is the truth, no matter how we feel. I don’t always feel loving, selfless, wise or adequate. But His Word says that I am all these things and more with the help of the Holy Spirit always at work in my life. Rest in the truth, and not in what you feel.

Ann Voscamp's Blog

Living Holiness by Helen Rosevere

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