Intentional Motherhood

Toothpaste and Sanctification

Toothpaste and Sanctification

Christ didn’t suffer on the cross so we could just survive motherhood. Rather, he defeated death so we could live as righteous ones. As we choose to serve our families with joy and out of love for God, we are transformed by grace into Christ-likeness—yes, through car pick up lines, nighttime wake ups, and toothpaste spills.

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.

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.”