Angry Dad or Loving Father

Angry Dad or Loving Father

Your view of God will determine what type of parent you are.

For those who view God as an angry tyrant & judge visiting wrathful vengeance on all who cross him, you will mirror that image. Your parenting will be demanding & unmerciful. You will be self-righteous because you believe yourself to measure up to God’s laws...

On the days that you’re a “good parent” (i.e. you make a delicious breakfast with fruit, organic cage-free eggs, whole grain sprouted wheat toast, send them joyfully to school, do their laundry with a song in your heart, help them with homework without once raising your voice, & send them to bed after a full 30 minutes of family worship), you’ll find confidence & wonder why your kids are not doing what they should. Your impatience for their sin will smother them. You’ll think about how you do what you are supposed to do, so why can’t they? You’ll expect God to save your kids. You’ll operate under a covenant of works…

...On the days that you don’t measure up & you’re a “bad parent” (i.e. you yell at them to eat cereal, you make them walk home because you don’t want to drive the 5 minutes to get them, & when you try to do homework, you end up yelling at them & sending them to bed early), you’ll be depressed & think God made a mistake in even giving you kids. You’ll feel guilty for your sin & you’ll make your kids feel guilty for theirs. Depression & pessimism will characterize your relationship with your kids.

...If you believe God to be merciful, patient & steadfast you’ll enjoy a peace.

You’ll be aware that you & your children are sinners, but that Jesus is a friend of sinners. You’ll be able to freely confess your sin to your children, you won’t feel like you’re letting them win because you had to admit to wrong. You’ll see, with hope, how God is strong enough to even use your sin to make his grace look glorious. You’ll know that his unconditional love is for you on the days that you’re a bad parent & the days that you’re a good parent. You’ll not be surprised at your children’s sin because you’ll believe the truth that Paul proclaimed, ‘Christ came for sinners, which I am the worst.


A Mother’s Hope

A Mother’s Hope

Those first few months when my son was a newborn were hard. I slept between feedings during the night. I followed the night time cycle mothers know all too well: feed, sleep an hour or two, and feed again. Repeat.

In the morning, I’d calculate in my mind how many total hours of sleep I got from the interrupted sleep I caught in between feedings. ‘Six. That’s not bad. You can make it on six,’ I’d tell myself. Despite my pep talk, I couldn’t make it. I was exhausted.

Over time, I became obsessed with sleep. It was an elusive thing that always moved farther out of my reach. I strategized ways to get more. But even when I did lie down to sleep, the slightest noise would awaken me. Sometimes no matter how tired I was, I couldn’t fall asleep. I told myself, ‘If only I got a solid eight hours. I’d be a happier person. I’d be a better mom.’

You could say I worshipped sleep.

What? Worship sleep? You might think it’s impossible to worship something we need, something that is good for us. In truth, even good things become idols when we turn to them to give us life and hope.

...For moms, the best way to determine if something is an idol is to look at how we handle the daily stresses and pressures of motherhood. Because, to be honest, motherhood is hard and filled with hard and challenging days. There are always interrupted plans, sick children, temper tantrums, overwhelming chaos, and bone-weary days.

...But our God is faithful. He promised to send a Savior and he did. We need to steep our hearts in the Word of God, reading and rereading what God did for us by sending his Son to redeem us from sin. If God rescued us from our worst fear—eternal separation from him—how can he not also deliver us from our current fears?

...Moms, we do need help and hope. Motherhood is challenging and sometimes downright hard. But our help and hope are not found in a change of circumstances, in a pint of ice cream, or in a new parenting method. Our hope is found in Christ, in who he is and what he has done for us. He is our help and our source of life.

Jesus, Our Anchor in Suffering

Jesus, Our Anchor in Suffering

“I don’t think it was postpartum depression—not quite, anyway. But does the ‘diagnosis’ matter in the midst of the fog?

All of life seemed bleak. Doing simple household tasks required robot-like determination. I cried every time my husband left for work. I dreaded nights. I was sleep-deprived, as every new mom is, and yet, night-time seemed like my enemy. The darkness was oppressive. 

Even when I could point to nothing in particular, I felt a heaviness in my spirit. What discouraged me most was the effect this cloud had on my relationship with God. I felt numb. Reading scripture was a chore, and prayer only highlighted how distant I felt from God. I wondered if I’d ever recover my joy in Christ.

As believers, we all face times when faith is no more than getting up one more time, taking one more step, resisting the urge to give up in this moment. We can’t see God working behind the cloud of despair, depression, or doubt. It’s in these times we need an anchor. 

An anchor is valuable is because it stays firm continuously.

The book of Hebrews presents Christ as our anchor. We have a High Priest who fully understands us. Draw near to him because he understands your pain and offers you mercy and grace in your time of need. He can relate to your struggles. He’s also praying for us without pause, and his prayers flow from his heart of understanding. 

Our perfect, eternal High Priest is the anchor which will never fail. He is totally reliable, eternally trustworthy, and perfectly strong. 

Are you currently in a storm? In the midst of postpartum depression, morning sickness, a scary medical diagnosis, or shepherding a rebellious child, you have an anchor. Even if you feel you can do nothing else, cling to Jesus. And believe that he is clinging to you. His grip will not fail.

The storms on the sea of life will come. Now is the time to anchor our hearts to these truths.”

R|M Gift-Giving Guide 2018

R|M Gift-Giving Guide 2018

During Advent, we pause to reflect on the greatest gift ever given: Jesus. Some of us celebrate with candle lighting or special readings. Others serve in new places or send gifts abroad to unknown recipients. Many sing songs, decorate their homes, or partake in old family traditions. There are many ways to focus our hearts’ attention and to celebrate the birth of our Savior. And for many of us, that also includes giving one another gifts.

God is the ultimate gift-giver. He gave us his most beloved Son, so that those who trust in him could be reconciled to God and live in eternal joy. He has lavished us with love! So when we grab a cup of hot chocolate, plop next to a warm fire, and write out our gifts list, we can reflect his image as gift-givers. He takes delight in giving good gifts to us, which is why we find delight in giving the perfect gift for those we love.

We’ve gathered some of our favorite gift ideas below to help you start planning your lists. There are gifts for your mom, sister-in-law, and best friend; for your husband, nephew, and the new baby; and for people in your community, like pastors, teachers, delivery drivers, and neighbors. It isn’t the amount of money spent or the number of gifts purchased that matters. Instead, it’s an opportunity to be intentional, sharing the gospel as we reflect God’s love by joyfully giving to one another.

The Slow Fruit of the Adoption Process

The Slow Fruit of the Adoption Process

“My good-natured and ravenous son rolls out of bed each morning chanting, ‘I want oatmeal!’ Within a minute or two, I have his bowl of morning oatmeal ready. He takes the bowl in his chubby hands and says, ‘Thank you, Mommy!’

This early morning interaction is both a sweet, steady gift and a jarring deviation from other elements of my life.

My husband and I began the adoption process when our oatmeal aficionado was barely one, when all he could shriek upon waking was ‘OHMA!’ Now his third birthday has come and gone. Now his sentences have a subject and a verb. Now he’s not a baby, nor is his older sister. There’s no baby in this house, just the distinct feeling that someone is missing.

Growing a family through adoption is not the stuff of microwaves and morning oatmeal. There are no buttons I can push, no clock that counts down the time, no quick satisfaction. Instead, there’s paperwork, and there’s waiting.

The waiting feels volatile and fruitless.

...Ultimately waiting is a crucial element for God-ordained growth. Waiting is not a forgotten, fruitless place but an intentional, ordered place to which God draws us, that we might remember him and practice our faith. It’s not a lifeless place but a place of life underground. In the waiting, below the surface, seeds are undone and roots are nourished. One day there will be fruit, but for now, there is vital work, work that cannot be microwaved.

In the seemly out-of-control waiting of the adoption process, though our hearts yearn for instant satisfaction, we must remember that God isn’t a God of instant oatmeal but the Creator of precious fruit. We must take one faithful step after the other, keeping our eyes on him like the Israelites followed the pillar of fire in the dark wilderness nights. We must be patient, knowing the true work is done underground where we can’t see, soaking up every drop of the rains that come to nourish the dry soil. We must establish our hearts by resting in who God has shown himself to be in scripture: steadfast, kind, and in control.”

Hope for the Worries of Tomorrow

Hope for the Worries of Tomorrow

“I’m pretty good at imagining possible outcomes. If I could clock overtime for the number of hours I’ve laid awake at night thinking through plans, hopes, & concerns for the coming days, I’d be an incredibly wealthy woman! The waste of it, however, is tremendous.

It doesn’t matter how prepared I am. Something can always go wrong. It doesn’t matter how worried I am. A solution may come in the morning. It doesn’t matter how afraid I am. The bad news may never materialize. It doesn’t matter how excited I am. Plans can change in a heartbeat.

James warns his readers about wasting too much of today’s energy & opportunity on schemes to control the future. He writes, ‘Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such & such a town & spend a year there & trade & make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.’

As moms, we experience these shifts in plans all the time. Your plans to achieve a master’s degree are derailed when the pregnancy test shows a plus sign. You’re about to head out the door when a diaper explosion rocks the baby carrier. The birthday party guests are due to arrive any minute when your toddler spikes a high fever & pulls at both ears. All the kids are having great fun until your child breaks an arm. 

We can imagine, plan, & scheme all we want to; nevertheless, tomorrow’s interruptions & delays will often override the best-laid plans.

...Even though it’s okay to think ahead & make plans, our worry shouldn’t outpace today’s circumstances. Jesus doesn’t encourage us by taking away our troubles. He doesn’t smooth out life’s journey so that we never experience any inconveniences or fears or struggles. 

He reminds us that he already knows what’s around the corner: more trouble. Until this life ends, trouble will always spring up to greet us. We can’t control the struggles we will encounter, but we can rest in the one who carries us through the messes of life. 

Our great King promises to walk with us and to help us.”

The Joyful Discomfort of Motherhood

The Joyful Discomfort of Motherhood

We all crave comfort. Comfort food, comfort zones, comfy clothes, comfortable jobs. Our decisions are often motivated by a desire to mitigate distress, discomfort, or inconvenience. Being comfortable isn’t always a bad thing. It can be one way God demonstrates his grace to people.

The privilege of Christian motherhood has challenged my notions of comfortable living in full force.

It’s uncomfortable as our bodies are broken for the sake of another’s welfare through pregnancy, delivery, feeding, & sleeplessness. It’s not easy consistently training up our children in the way they should go through fights over food & school work, tantrums & unwise choices. It’s humbling to tell our young ones about the mighty deeds of God & then display gospel-kindness when faced with their rebellion. 

Yet we pray, forbear, & show mercy because God, in Christ, forgave us. There’s no ease on this battleground because it’s a 24/7 job. 

...This role is rife with opportunities to image what God is like in his self-sacrificing, nurturing, & life-sustaining attributes. In God’s supreme design, mothers were made to image him in unique ways to our families, in our churches, at work, in the community, to ‘the authorities & the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’ (Eph. 6:12)

This sometimes-uncomfortable work of mothering draws our attention to our need for the great shepherd’s comfort. Only his rod & staff can give us a lasting sense of safety in hard places. 

Just like we wean our children from milk to solid food, the God of all comfort weans us from a taste for only physical comfort to delight in the divine comfort of his everlasting presence. Knowledge of his presence drives us to joyfully live an uncomfortable life for God’s glory. As we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, we share in his comfort too.

Dear sisters, when tempted to begrudge the costly & uncomfortable work of mothering, let’s remember Jesus went before us. His joyful obedience in hard things accomplished our redemption & adoption & will result in our resurrection one glorious day.

Gospel Thinking: How Do We Decide Our Family Traditions?

Gospel Thinking: How Do We Decide Our Family Traditions?

Maybe it's crafting cute Thanksgiving turkeys with your kids, opening envelopes on your Advent calendar, or making pancakes for birthday mornings—all families have traditions. They range from the simple to the elaborate, the every-so-often to the every-year, the super meaningful to the silly.

Sometimes traditions bring us joy. They help us reorient our hearts toward what we value most, offer us pause in the midst of life's hustle and bustle, and provide consistent signposts to think of God's faithfulness. And sometimes, they're just plain fun.

Other times, traditions cause pressure and guilt. We’re upset when we abandon the Advent calendar, annoyed we forgot to pull out books on time, or frustrated there are now turkeys glued to our tables.

Thankfully, traditions don't earn our good standing before God, measure how well we "did" the holiday season, or guarantee our kids will love Jesus. Instead, traditions are another area the gospel gives us freedom to decide what's best (and most fruitful) for our families. We can light the weekly candle for Advent, or not. We can have an Easter party, or not. We can start a tradition, or stop one.

As long as we’re living by faith in the completed work of Christ, and striving to love others well, we each have freedom for how traditions play out in our own homes.

At R|M, we want to equip you to apply the gospel to every aspect of life by being “gospel thinkers.” Because the gospel changes everything—even our traditions.

So to help you kick off this holiday season with biblical understanding, @emschumacher is explaining how to take what scripture teaches about traditions and apply it to our lives. Think of it as a tool for filtering what traditions you might want to start (or stop) in your own home. Wondering what to do with Santa? How you should engage in Halloween? If the “tooth fairy” should visit? We hope this resource helps you consider how to engage in these (and many other) traditions.

We even added discussion questions so you can talk with your spouse, podcast club, or friends at the playground. (And it has a handy printable!)

But Mommy, Why?

But Mommy, Why?

“We’ve all been there. We’ve all given our children instructions, they’ve asked why, and we’ve responded with neither grace nor eloquence, ‘Because I said so!’

We’re tired, exasperated, and in search of a quick fix.

But if time paused and we were given a moment to really think about the answer to their question of why, what would we come up with? Why do we want them to do what we’ve asked them to do? What are the motives behind our commands? What’s driving us?

In the Bible, Paul answers the question why over and over. In every letter he wrote to the early churches, he didn’t merely give them instructions for godly living and say, “Because I said so!” He gave them—and us—a foundation, a motivation, a robust reason for doing what God asks us to do.

When we read Colossians, we can almost hear Paul’s words getting faster and faster, culminating in a crescendo of praise. And then he says, ‘Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.’

The praise comes first, then the pivot, and then the instruction for godly living. This order is crucial.

First, we understand the nature and character of our God. We remember his goodness and kindness to us. We recall how he gave himself over to us. We acknowledge that we were in darkness before him and he brought us into the kingdom of light. We say out loud that he’s a gift we do not deserve.

Then, after those rehearsals and proclamations, we set out to obey our good God. It’s from a heart full of remembrance and praise, which is how we received Christ Jesus the Lord, that we walk in him.

First we remember the gospel, and then we walk in it.

Christian parenting is discipleship. As Christian moms, we want our homes, our language, our actions, our thoughts to be distinctly Christian. So our answer to why must have the substance of our Savior.

May they  bear the aroma of Christ.

It was his grace that saved us. May it also be his grace that propels us. God’s grace is the answer to why.”

When We Need the Service of Others

When We Need the Service of Others

At 24 weeks pregnant, the doctor put me on strict bed rest. I couldn’t go to the grocery store or cook with what we already had. I couldn’t pick up my little girl when she cried. I couldn’t walk to the mailbox. I couldn’t sweep up spilled Cheerios. I couldn’t make the bed.

To get anything else done meant others had to do it for me. To protect the baby meant the same. I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to lay around. But the life of our family’s newest addition relied on it.

Most of us look at our church and ask how we can physically serve. We want to be involved. We want to do meaningful work. But sometimes moms need to receive service too.

Because God didn’t purpose us to bear our burdens alone. We can’t look at the church and say, ‘I have no need of you.’ It’s true that having Christ, the all-sufficient one, proves enough for us. He makes our life complete. Yet God designed Christian community in the context of the local church. 

He links arms and feet and eyes—individual members who need each other to make up the whole body.

When we need others to serve us, we see the strength of Christ working in and through the ones who faithfully do it. When we accept help, it allows others to serve God, by serving us, and exemplify Christ who willingly laid down his life for his brethren.

Our current circumstance may inhibit us from serving the church in all the ways we desire. We may find it hard to see past the endless cycle of bed rest and labor and all that accompanies raising our precious children, but one day God will put an end to our difficulties. 

He will glorify us with his Son and cause us to worship him with pure hearts and new bodies.

A God Who Serves Mothers

A God Who Serves Mothers

Motherhood puts my people-pleasing-talents to the test. It’s hard to be a people-pleaser who can’t keep up the pace.

For one thing, I have two little children who’ve taken to heart the words of the old song: ‘Make all my wants and wishes known.’ There’s no way one tired mama can (or should) fulfill all their wants and wishes. And yet, I end each day feeling the weight of not being enough for them.

But now a new guilt steals over me. God gets my leftovers again, and my spiritual life feels like one more demand I can’t satisfy, one more person wanting a piece of me. I’m not sure how to find the desire and the joy of spending time with him.

In tears I express my frustrations to my husband. He reminds me that while the kids and the house and bills and unreturned phone calls all feel like they’re screaming for a piece of me, God is different. God has no void in himself he needs me to fill. God loves me and is my strong support and help.

In John 13, on the evening of his betrayal, Jesus’ disciples winced as Jesus gathered the supplies of the lowliest slave and began washing grown men’s feet.

And just like Peter, I too balk at the idea that I would sit still at a low, wooden table and let Jesus serve me food and drink, and then wash my feet.

The truth that God is ‘not served by human hands’ is a hard pill for this approval-craving-junkie to swallow.

And yet, relief floods my soul. This gospel is really true: there’s a place I can go to drink, to eat, to lean, to rest. There’s a strong, able, saving God who is not needy. He shows his strength to any needy mother who leans, trusts, and rests in him for help.

It’s a glorious thing to curl up on the couch at night and lean into the bosom of one who doesn’t demand a piece of me, doesn’t have a void that he needs for me to fill, doesn’t have a need for me to supply.

It’s upside-down. It’s revolutionary. This isn’t a God with lack who needs me to give my life for him. This is a God who gave his life for me.