Danielle Herbert works as a project manager for a business-consulting firm that manages government contracts in the D.C. area. She and her husband, Aaron, have two little boys, around three and 11 months.
I yelled at my daughter the other day. Not a gentle ‘Don’t do that, honey,’ kind of correction, but an angry, ‘What on earth were you thinking?’ reaction.
She, in turn, yelled at her two year old brother for making her do it, and pretty quickly there was a lot of frustration going around for a little bit of spilled sparkling water. A simple misstep halted my child’s creative idea on a nice day, and there we were, yelling at each other as if the offense merited some sort of punishment.
After we cleaned up, I thought about how quickly that moment went from fun to frenzied. Rather than parenting my children with the patience and instruction they need, I responded to a common sibling squabble like I was one of the siblings.
If a mama speaks out of the overflow of her heart, my overflow had been speaking loud and clear, pointing to the fact that I wasn’t guarding the sources filling my heart-well.
The problem is really simple: it’s me. My heart is. My misplaced worship is. The idolatry of my time and performance is. And the way I feed these things by comparing myself to other mothers, that’s the problem.
And the way I’ve sought to fill my life with the things God tells us will not satisfy—these are the barrier between me and the mom that I want to be. As I’ve escaped to worldly influences, I’ve robbed my soul of the fellowship with my Savior that it needs, and I’ve seen firsthand the difference between the overflow of a heart filled with treasure and a heart filled with idols.
Motherhood is one way God makes his goodness tangible, and I am learning each day that to be the mom I want to be, to experience that goodness, I have to begin with a posture of humility; which is sometimes as simple as the choice between one of the many temporary comforts fighting for my affection, and repentance. Simple, pure, childlike repentance of my sin. Because we’re all in need of saving from the thing that keeps us from God and from one another.
But the best news for all of us is that grace is already there.
"Although we’ve had the same food expectations for all of our kids, their tastes and preferences vary wildly. Not long ago, we jokingly nicknamed our twins, “farm-to-table” and our oldest son, “Mickey” (in reference to his love of the McDonald’s cheeseburger). It was all fun and games … for awhile.
After a couple of weeks it started affecting their behavior and excitement about different foods. Like when our firstborn pushed away his broccoli—not because he simply didn’t like it—but because he was “Mickey.”
This goes to show that what we call ourselves has power.
We don’t think of ourselves neutrally, but instead, we see ourselves through the lens of, 'Mary, the angry mom,' or 'Julie, the messy person,' or 'Kayla, the A-type overachiever.' The more we repeat these and believe these labels, the more we live up to them.
The power of personal identity is one of main reasons why God spends so much of the Bible telling us who we were created to be, who we are apart from him, and who we are in Christ. These foundational truths are the dot from which all the lines of our life flow.
In Genesis, he tells us that we are image bearers, created as males and females, equal in worth but still distinct. As image bearers, we deserve dignity, respect, love, and life.
But in Genesis, we also see that Adam and Eve sin. As sinners, we deserve guilt, condemnation, separation from God, and ultimately death. It feels normal for most of us (especially once we’ve heard and believed the gospel) to be horrified and ashamed about this sinful aspect of our identity.
If God left us like this—image bearers enslaved to sin—the narrative of our lives would be irredeemable.
But he intervenes by sending his son, Jesus, to purchase us at an unimaginably high price so that we could part with our old identity and be raised with him, identified with Christ. Our new identity—in Christ—means that we are redeemed image bearers.
From the basis of our new identity in Christ, we love well, we look out for the interests of others, we forgive, we submit, and we pursue peace.
God tells us who we are in Christ, not because we have arrived today, but because we will arrive when we meet Christ. The more we believe that—remembering our identity in Christ today—the more we can cast off lies and walk in the way we’ll walk for eternity.
So, the next time you hear someone mention your identity in Christ, let it be a reminder that you are a new creation in Christ, which is definitely a label worth remembering."
We all know that motherhood is so much more than social media showcases. It’s more than the bursts of laughter captured in a well-lit scene, houses that are never messy, walls that are never sticky, and hot steaming coffee that magically appears in bed next to a sleeping babe.
Some of the most genuine frames of motherhood are those you cannot capture. I’m talking about the early morning wake-up to hold up your daughter’s hair as she battles a stomach bug. Or the Holy Spirit-given fruit of patience budding in you as you break up sibling rivalry for the fifth time this week.
Social media is not wrong in and of itself, but for many, it may be the water needed to grow seeds of comparison, discontent, and envy. Today alone you probably learned where Sarah just traveled, and what an awesome mom Jane is for feeding her child steel cut oats and kale daily. With every scroll and every click we are depositing some knowledge into our brains, and what fills our minds will direct our thought life and actions.
Sometimes we just need that simple reminder that true joy doesn’t exist apart from Jesus.
The bottom line is this: forego the fairytale picture of mom-ing so many project through the screen, because this will not sustain you in the trenches of motherhood. If we want to mom well, we need to know Christ well, because it is He who has the power to transform us, our homes, and one another.
We’ve never had more resources available to us than we do right now. There are books, online articles, printed magazines, podcasts, videos, and music coming at us from every direction. As a woman eager to learn more about God’s word, it can be exhilarating to have easy access to so many teachers and influencers.
These resources can be extremely helpful and can encourage a busy mom when her hands are full of little children and dirty dishes. It’s a joy to turn on a favorite podcast, or sneak in a quick devotional reading in the school pick-up line. Our modern age of information provides lots of great opportunities for spiritual growth and reflection. But however nice and helpful the resources may be, they aren’t the same as studying the Bible itself. We still need first-hand knowledge of the eternal word of God so we can know him more fully and be sustained as we serve him in this world. Without even realizing it, we often just “take people’s word for it” when it comes to understanding God's nature, character and plans. But if we don't know what he actually says, how can we be sure that the podcasts, online sermons, devotional books, and Christian books we consume are actually giving us truth?
These questions and concerns are why we need to prioritize Bible study and learn God’s word for ourselves...
Are you stressed, parched, overwhelmed, and in need of direction in your life? Do you long to know God more, and understand his love for you? Would you like to see more growth as you battle sins and minister to those in your sphere of influence? Are you confused about God’s plan for your life and how to have purpose in all you do? Could you use help in learning to train your children in the ways of the Lord? Do you wish you could hear God’s voice speaking to you? Well, the good news is, God has spoken, and you have access to his words.
Even when we recognize that the Bible is the ultimate resource for all of eternity, we can still feel overwhelmed opening a book originally written in foreign languages, more than three thousand years ago. Something so full of metaphors and detailed imagery (that seemingly doesn’t relate to a mom in the twenty-first century) can be difficult to apply, and honestly, sometimes we don’t “feel” any different right away. Questions about scripture passages take time and study to answer, and not every passage has simple, direct application to our daily lives.
Those early years of mothering, they just didn’t fit me quite right.
Ya know, like how you feel when you try on one of those rompers and you just keep tugging and twisting it, hoping to get it to lay just right.
Something about a newborn felt odd, and unknown to me. My body seemed foreign, my routines were in the diaper genie. I wasn’t sure what had changed in me, or what was to remain the same.
That little babe on my chest, at times, didn’t fit quite right.
This is how motherhood felt for a couple years. I would look at my reflection in the metaphorical mirror and tug and twist this awkward new title of mom. The struggle, was very real.
In an attempt to silence the fear of failing as a mom, I overcompensated with tight and rigid schedules and extreme expectations. That control birthed other bad habits and misconceptions—like that mothering was something at which to win.
Today I'm reminded of how far I am from being a good mother, a good friend, a good wife / sister / daughter / church member / volunteer – a good anything! I feel split in two, like I live in the in-between. I want to do better, oh how I long to do better. But the needs keep coming at me and I fail over and over again. I just can't seem to get it together.
At times, it can feel pretty bleak. Why can I not live out what I know, I know? If I have Christ, why do I sometimes feel lost? If I know his promises are true, why do I act like they don't exist?
In high school and college I spent a lot of time in scripture, but as I started working, got married and had really little littles, I wasn't spending a lot of time in the Bible. I hunted and pecked here and there, did a few inductive Bible Studies – my time and depth ebbed and flowed depending on what I was involved in and who was holding me accountable.
And with the lack of time, I felt some of my passion for God dry up. If you asked me, I would have told you I wanted a more passionate relationship with the Lord, but I'd tell you that for one reason or another I was just kinda going through a dry spell. And if I were honest with you – if I were honest with myself – I would have told you that I believed God was the distant one, not me.
With four young children, a moment of quiet or predictable consistency is hard to come by. Even with my best efforts to be organized and intentional, it’s still difficult to stay engaged in regular bible study, to disciple women, to fellowship regularly with other believers, or to serve in ways that pull me out of my home. The desire is there, but so are the dirty diapers, the naptime routines, the laundry piles, and the mundane things that keep our family going.
All the distractions, setbacks, and challenges occasionally leave me wondering if theological growth just isn’t possible for a woman in the season of young children. I’ve wondered if I should just shrug at my inconsistent quiet times, and parched prayer life. I’ve contemplated sitting out of the women’s bible study or leaving our calendar free of hospitable meals because it’s just too hard.
So for every mom of little ones who is longing to see her relationship with God as bigger than the elusive “quiet time”, this list is for you.
When it comes to "quiet time" with God, I often want the ideal.
I want the whole house to be silent so I can have a long string of uninterrupted thoughts. I want my coffee fresh and hot. I want to sit in my favorite chair with a snuggly blanket. I want my journal with a special pen & a well-marked bible. I tend to think that if all these criteria are met, THEN I will have a full & fruitful relationship with God.