We’re raising children in a world of influencers and opinion-sharers. We can’t change our kids’ hearts or control what they do, but we can show them the beauty and hope of the gospel.
Yesterday, my husband said, ‘You’re going to be a good mom.’
I was making up bunk beds with the new bedding I’d agonized over for weeks. ‘Can dots be gender-neutral?’ ‘What if they’re scared of jungle animals?’ ‘Do girls like blue?’ He knew I needed to hear it.
I’m a soon-to-be foster mom who’s admittedly unfit for the task. I can count the number of diaper changes I’ve completed on one hand. I’m too young to parent a teenager. I’m not good at pretending or diffusing tantrums. I know nothing about the trauma. I don’t usually say the right thing.
I’m unprepared and unqualified, but the Lord called me anyway.
God called Jeremiah to be one of the great prophets, faithfully serving for forty years in the face of great persecution in a society that lived in complete moral failure. Jeremiah almost said, ‘No.’
He really was just a boy with no resume to support this appointment to prophet. He faced a nation overcome by apostasy—a calling that included great physical abuse and imprisonment. Jeremiah was a boy unprepared and unqualified for the task, but the Lord called him anyway.
God promised that he would give Jeremiah the words to speak, and he would be with him as his deliverer when the nation of Israel turned against him. He was a man who spoke with the words of God.
We sometimes forget we’re living every day with the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us. While the rest of the world tries to face marriage, careers, social injustice, and motherhood on their own, believers are filled with the spirit of the living God. We’re not enough, but our God is more than enough.
Motherhood is a huge calling, in whatever way you face it. Whether you’re navigating the teenage years, struggling in pregnancy, filling out state-mandated paperwork, or in the weeds of waiting, the Lord goes before you to help you accomplish the tasks to which he appoints you.
Even when you feel unprepared and unfit, even when you are unprepared and unfit, the Spirit of God can use you to accomplish his good plans.
“I looked at my husband across the couch and heard myself say, ‘I’m tired of blowing it, of sinning the same way over and over again with our kids. Can’t I trade this in for another sin or something?!’
Ever since I can remember, I’ve fallen into what some have called the ‘performance trap,’ setting standards for what it means to be a good friend, a good student, a good wife, a good mom, even a good Christian.
But having young kids exposed my sin again and again. It felt impossible to ‘perform’ in this role, to hit the benchmark I had in my head of what a good, Christian mom should look like. I’d hold it together for awhile, but eventually I’d totally blow it. Feeling terrible, I’d apologize profusely to the kids and try to make it up to them. Then, I’d pull up my proverbial bootstraps and determine to do better next time. But, inevitably, I’d blow it again. And the cycle of sin and shame and ‘trying harder’ would repeat.
Sometimes, when I felt really frustrated and defeated, I wanted to give up and declare: “This is just part of my personality, and parenting is so hard!”
But this is not the gospel!
In his mercy, God repeatedly brought me to a point of desperation. God helped me realize that no amount of staring at my sin, or beating myself up, or ‘trying harder; would ever help me hit that standard.
God taught me to fix my eyes on Christ, who already fixed his eyes on me in love.
In Christ, we meet God’s standard.
In Christ, we’re free from the condemning power of sin.
In Christ, we’re free from the enslaving power of sin.
In Christ, we still struggle with the presence of sin.
In Christ, we never outgrow the gospel.
Our journeys in motherhood aren’t over. Though we’re growing, we’ll still blow it. But we can ask our kids for forgiveness and point them not to a perfect mom, but to a perfect Savior.
We can walk in the good work of motherhood in an attitude of worship, resting, and rejoicing in the undeserved friendship of Jesus and point our children to the same.”
The most effective parents I know are those who communicate a vision to their kids—those who say, ‘This is who we are. This is who we follow. And this is where we’re going.’
These are parents who take into account the unique giftings, talents, and challenges within their family and work together toward God’s purpose for their family.
In Matthew 28, Jesus gives his disciples one last important charge before he went back to heaven: ‘Make disciples.’
Now, sometimes we read this charge with overseas missionaries in mind—they have gone out into all the world and are making disciples in other lands. But did you know that as a parent, you also have a wide-open mission field right in your own home?
Although the reality of faithfully and daily discipling our kids can be hard, discipleship is simply helping our children see what their faith in Jesus means in the day-to-day.
When we craft a family vision, we’re asking our kids to take this journey of discipleship along with us.
We tell them who we are and where we’re going as a family.
We teach our kids the characteristics of the Christian life that we value most.
We help them see that living a life of following Jesus is the most fulfilling and exciting way to live.
How do we begin to figure out a vision for our family?
One of the challenges of being a mom is that most days are spent doing things that don’t feel important. The tasks you accomplish are quickly undone—laundry, dishes, picking up toys. Whether your days are spent primarily in an office or at home (or in an office at home), every mom understands that motherhood can seem a bit like shoveling snow off your driveway during a snowstorm, and it often doesn’t feel like ministry.
So what is ministry, exactly?
One way to think about ministry is a person or agency through which image-bearing and disciple-making are accomplished within particular spaces.
In Genesis, we read that God planted a garden called Eden, and he placed Adam in the garden to work it and keep it. Adam and Eve were not commanded to work and keep the whole world; they were to work and keep the garden in which God had placed them.
If I could go back and give myself a pep talk while in the midst of raising babies, I would clap my hands and say with great enthusiasm, ‘You are doing real ministry right now! Real ministry is not only ahead of you when you do a podcast or complete an in-depth line-by-line Bible study on the Minor Prophets. I know it feels like a lot of wiping, but you are bearing God’s image and raising children to bear his image. You are promoting life and doing good work in the space God ordained for you. And it matters.’
So embrace the wiping. Embrace the chaos and the endless laundry. Don’t just embrace it, enjoy it.
Instead of lamenting the unwanted limitations that accompany being a mom of young children, focus on the hugs and the way their eyes light up when you pick them up from school. Sing the song for them again today, and read the same book tonight.
You have been given meaningful work to do. The God of creation has given you the ministry of bearing his image, making disciples, and tending your garden.
“It was one of my first ventures out into society as a new mama. We were visiting the home of some new friends & he started crying a little bit. Then, it got louder & I excused myself to the other room as I attempted to quiet him.
I tried bouncing him. I tried singing lullabies. I tried feeding him & changing his diaper. Still he continued to wail.
All my visions of motherhood were crashing down hard as I tasted my own failure to soothe this real-life baby.
Fast forward a few weeks. I’m listening to scripture on audio as I fold laundry. One short phrase rings out strong. It’s the second part of Colossians 3:11, which says, ‘But Christ is all & in all.’
That is, he is everything, everywhere, for every moment. He provides the meaning & purpose & beauty—not just for some days or some people—but for all & for everything, even this moment as I fold my laundry, even that moment when my child is crying and crying, even when I am crying myself.
Jesus is the beginning, middle & end of my story & your story & everyone else’s story.
We live in a world where relationships tend to be defined by divisions & distinctions. This is the reality of my heart—that I look on others & instinctively measure myself as either inadequate or superior in comparison.
But there is something bigger than all our differences, bigger than all the measurements & status. Christ is bigger. He is all.
When we look at ourselves & at others, we look for Christ, in & through all our differences. We are no longer worrying what others think of us or racing to prove ourselves, to peg ourselves as inferior or superior to another mama. Rather, we clothe ourselves in humility.
We’re on a treasure hunt of sorts, looking for Christ, searching to delight in His glory in those around us & his grace in our own weaknesses. We’re living out this identity as a people holy & dearly loved, freed to bear with each other & forgive each other & live in peace as one body.
Because Christ is all & is in all, we can live in sweet peace & experience genuine love.”
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Mom friends—you’re doing it. You’re fulfilling the work of ministry God has planned for you! He’s given you a wonderful gift in your children, and though the days feel long and nights, even longer, this is precisely where he wants you. Right here with your kids.
You’re exactly where you should be.
We can’t foresee all that will happen, but we can anticipate our hearts—our struggles, anxieties, and fears—and proactively preach God’s Word to ourselves.
When you struggle with feeling depleted from lack of sleep, remember that God’s grace is sufficient for each moment, that he will give you what you need with every breath you take.
When you struggle with choosing motherhood over other things, remember that for everything there is a season, perfectly planned by God for the advance of his purposes in the world.
When you struggle with a sense of purpose in the routine, remember that motherhood is a calling from God, an important work of faith and labor of love that images Jesus Christ.
When you struggle with guilt over time in God’s word, know that the basis of your salvation isn’t dependent on this, but on Christ.
You and I can embrace our need for an all-sufficient, perfectly wise Lord and Savior in this unique season of motherhood.
We can praise God for a new grasp of what it means to cling to him—because we know that when we are weak, he is strong.
Have you ever considered how your identity was shaped?
Our identities are who we are at our core. The things that often define us can be connected to our family’s achievements, or possibly our own abilities, the things we’ve accomplished or even failed at.
If you’re anything like me, you take pride in your roles.
I grew up in the church as a preacher’s kid, I was a cheerleader for most of my life, a sorority girl in college, & after graduation, I soon became a wife. After marriage, we unexpectedly struggled with infertility, experienced failed adoptions, then—by the grace of God—became pregnant with twins, & I finally became a mama. Oh, the pride!
Unfortunately, when my marriage shattered, so did my self-esteem.
I became a single mama in 2015 & I was lost, broken, hurting & fearful of how life was going to turn out. I desperately needed the Lord & needed him to redefine who I was, my life, & mend my heart.
Christ constantly challenged the root of people’s identities, but also graciously & freely gave newness to those who believed in him. These pictures of unconditional acceptance, grace, & love caused me to see myself the way he does; in spite of my circumstances or what other people may think of me.
2 Cor. 5:17 tells us, ‘If we are in Christ, we are new creatures and made new.’ Paul is talking about our identities—who we are. Those old labels & attachments rooted in anything besides the work of the Lord will pass away.
As single mamas, it is easy to wear that label & deal with the empowering or negative connotations of it. Although we are doing a two person job alone most days of the week, we have to remember where our true identity lies. Raising our babies alone is what we do, it is not who we are.
Christ was never concerned with job titles & status; he surrounded himself with tax collectors, the sick, prostitutes, & known sinners. He knew who they were & he used their lives for his glory. He came to have a life altering interaction with us that would change what & how we do all things forever.
Out of those truths of who we are, what we do is done differently.
When reading about Paul in the New Testament what comes to mind? A gifted missionary perhaps? Paul wrote letters to various churches, traveled from city to city, to the Jew and to the Gentile, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ!
As encouraging as this is, I can’t help but wonder what I have in common with Paul.
From the Chick-fil-A drive through to daycare pickups, from dirty diapers to spilled Cheerios, from grocery store trips to dance recitals, the life of a mama with kids seems very different from his.
Yet just like Paul, we have been given the same mission.
Simply put, evangelism is sharing the gospel or the good news of Jesus Christ. It can seem intimidating not knowing where to start or having the right words to say, but when Jesus gave us the great commission, he ended it with a powerful reminder as we seek to obey this command.
He reminds us that he will be with us always.
The first thing we can do is to pray that God would press onto our hearts people who he wants us to witness to.
Think about those who are around you that may not know who Jesus is. Prayer shows our dependency on God to give us opportunities to share the truth about him with those people whose hearts he has already been working in. We, the messengers, just need to be ready to share.
The second thing we can do is practice.
As often as I could, I started sharing the gospel with my one-year-old son who would, at worst, ignore me and, at best, clap at my feeble attempts. Reciting the full gospel out loud to my child gave me the opportunity to practice what I would say in a way that sounded natural.
We can allow an embarrassing moment to keep us from experiencing a powerful promise that follows after our obedience, or we can continue to press forward—placing one foot of faith in front of the other.
We’re not alone in this. As we begin to share our faith with others and teach them to know and follow Christ, we will actively see God working in our lives and in the lives of others.”
How do you react when something doesn’t go your way?
I’ve noticed that even when I’m on cloud nine after a mountaintop experience—whether a conference, retreat, or vacation—all it takes is some small annoyance and a fountain of complaints begin spewing from my mouth.
How quickly our fickle hearts are exposed by our words.
In Exodus 16 the Israelites had just come from a mountaintop experience. After wandering in the wilderness for three days without any water, God led them to the desert resort of Elim.
But just after they left Elim they entered the wilderness of Sin. Complaints poured from their mouths as their stomachs rumbled with hunger. They quickly focused their whining on the two men who were leading them, Moses and Aaron. Moses rebukes the Israelites because their complaints against him and his brother are ultimately against God.
Sometimes we do the same sort of thing, don’t we?
We need to remember the One who is sovereign over every interruption and unsavory circumstance in our lives. When we grumble, we’re really telling God that we know better, that our plan should win out.
He is not unaware of your child’s temper tantrums or your overbearing relative or your tight budget. Instead, he’s using these trials to shape us and cause us to rely on His all-sufficient grace. He’s working in our lives for our good and his glory.
So the next time you’re tempted to open your mouth in complaint, pray for the Lord to put a guard over your mouth and keep you from making the same mistake as the Israelites. Instead, ask him to fill your heart and mouth with gratitude, to bring glory to the Lord over all.
Every mother wants a strong relationship with their daughter. Or at least, I think they do. I actually don’t know for certain since I’m not a mother. I’m a daughter who just graduated from her teens last year.
As I look back on my teen years, I loved hanging out with mom. I loved learning from her. I even took her correction pretty well because she exposed my sin truthfully yet tenderly. I loved praying with her, baking with her, going on adventures with her, and reading books with her. What’s more: I still do.
So what’s so special about my mom?
It actually isn’t anything particularly special at all. It’s merely two things: she prioritized her relationship with her kids and she relied on the grace of God.
As I consider my teen years, I’m mindful of five things my mom did to build this relationship with me: she started young, she prayed for and with me, she risked vulnerability, she learned with me, and she had fun with me.
I wish you could meet my mom. She’d say she’s far from a spiritual giant and that raising godly kids wasn’t about her.
‘It just took intentionality,’ she’d tell you. ‘But most of all, the grace of God.’
For both my mom and you, there is gospel grace to meet you at every turn. No mom is ‘mom enough.’
Every mom needs infinite grace to forgive her sins, to work through her mistakes, and to point her and her kids to Jesus.
Remember: he is the savior of your family, not you.
The RM Team loves seeing questions roll in whenever we’re prepping for an “Ask Us Anything” podcast episode with Laura and Emily. Unfortunately, we can’t answer every question submitted to us—there’s not enough time and we don’t know or haven’t experienced everything! However, we have a treasure trove of resources and information in our show archives, blog archives, and old show notes. We’ve rallied up a collection links to help answer some of the most asked questions we receive below...