The Gardening Of Motherhood

kids

When Dave and I were in our second home I was so excited about the possibilities of the cute little flowerbed that was already set up out front.  The only bummer was I knew NOTHING about gardening.  There were a few established bushes and some greens, but I wanted pretty flowers.  So that fall I was clearing out the flowerbed unsupervised.  I was throwing out rocks, bark chips, and trash from this neglected little area.  I came across these ball-shaped roots that were all tangled together in the soil.  There were many of them and they were all over the place.  I figured if I was going to plant anything pretty in there, these needed to go.  So I proceeded to pull them out and dispose of them so that I could have nice prepared soil ready for my pretty flowers.  I was so proud of all my hard work!  Well, if you know anything about gardening then you probably figured it out.  I had ended up pulling out all the tulip & Daffodil bulbs that the previous home owner had so sweetly planted.  If I had only known what kind of purpose, planning and intent went into this little flowerbed, I could have enjoyed the beautiful bounty of gorgeous flowers when spring came.

In Mark chapter four you hear the popular parable of the Sower.  It is such a common and well-known parable among believers.  The sower who sowed his seeds.  He went out to sow seeds and at first, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up.  Then other seeds fell on rocky ground without much soil, they immediately showed signs of new life and sprang up but they were not rooted deep in rich soil and after time withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns and those thorns choked out any life that would produce fruit.  But then the others fell into good rich soil and produced not just an abundant harvest, but produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
{Mark 4:3-8}

I’ve heard many sermons that have been taught on this parable in light of evangelism or witnessing, but never have I thought about it in light of child rearing until recently.  A few weeks back, my Mama heart was weary and tired and God brought this scripture to life.  For days I couldn’t stop thinking about how as mothers or as parents we should be intentionally cultivating the soil of our home in preparation of sowing seeds of scripture and the gospel into our children’s hearts & lives.  As you look down further in Mark 4:14 “the sower sows the Word” John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Mamas, THIS is our calling!!! To be gardeners in our home, sowers of the word, sowing the scripture & good news of the gospel into these little hearts that are in our care.  Remember what Deuteronomy 11 says about teaching our little’s?

Deuteronomy 11:19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

I can’t help but continue to think on the soil in Mark 3.  What kind of soil are we cultivating in our homes?  There are things that need to be cleared from the soil of our home. Things that will only suck life out of our crops. There is already so much tending that needs to be done, why would we start out with soil that isn’t ready to produce life?   Is our soil full of Rocks?  Do harsh tones and lack of self-control abound? Or is it full of weeds?  Life suckers that don’t nourish the souls & only want to take life?  If left unattended they will only result in temporary life or no life at all.

As we tend to our gardens with intention & care, we ought to be taking time to lovingly remove each rock as well as each weed as they come up.  It gives us such GREAT opportunities to then plant seeds of truth into our children’s little hearts so that it may grow and bring forth life in abundance!  Lord KNOWS there will always be rocks & weeds but a lot of times we have neglected to prepare the soil. As uncomfortable as it may be to remove those things, it is necessary for growth!  Psalm 119:11 says “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  Only the Holy Spirit and His word can penetrate and change a heart.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” {Jer. 17:9}

I was so convicted as I saw that the sowers seed seemed to be all over the place.  It was thrown on the path, it fell on rocks, some among thorns, and then some on good soil.  As a mother we must be intentional about every seed we plant in our children’s hearts.  We can’t lazily toss the seeds of truth here and there, or in the wind hoping that they land on the good rich soil and produce an incredible harvest.  I know I have had days that I have halfheartedly tended and nurtured their hearts.  Not really being intentional or (gasp) ignore it all together.  With repentance, my prayer is that God would clearly reveal the weeds and that by His strength I can learn to be thankful for them and to continue to plant all for His glory and with an eternal purpose daily!

 Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

It is true however that we do reap what we sow,
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  {2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ESV}

Are we freely giving of our time to nourish, teach & train our little ones?  Are you giving time but giving it reluctantly and in a sour spirit?  Or are you too busy to even take the time to garden?  Lord knows I have, and it’s still a battle at times.  It is so easy for our comforts or ideals to become these little idols that our hearts long to hold onto.  God provides ample opportunities for us parents to give generously & cheerfully.  The giving of our time, intentionally investing and sowing little seeds for eternity. Those who sow generously will also reap bountifully, we will bear fruit for God’s kingdom.  Remember in Galatians 6:7 we are reminded: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, forwhatever one sows, that will he also reap.”

I can tell you that there are days you wonder if you are even making a difference or if it is even worth it?  Ps. 126:5 says “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”  As a Mama there are LOTS of tears on this journey….theirs as well as yours!  But when we reap our abundant harvest we will reap with shouts of JOY, even if it’s not the kind of flowers you thought you planted!!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!

Don’t be discourage or be tempted to quit gardening all together because you don’t have a green thumb!  Or like me, you were pulling out what you thought were weeds in your soil only to learn that they were actually beautiful flowers waiting to sprout in the spring.  We have HOPE!  Our hope is in the perfect gardener Christ Jesus!  A holy God came down to earth to be born of a man and dwelt among us PERFECTLY, He lived the perfect life we cannot live and then died and bore our shame & died the perfect death.  All for what? So that when God looks at us He sees His SON (not the imperfect mama who yelled at her kids again) and says that it is in Him whom He is well pleased for our sake! PRAISE the LORD!

I’m sooooo thankful it is truly finished and not contingent on my abilities in my own strength. Because let me tell you friend…I fail.  Often.  So very thankful for His perfect righteousness, His unfailing love & Infinite grace.  We can endure through Christ.  Though we won’t parent perfectly & we may miss opportunities to sow a seed of truth or whatever it may be, He is alive and working out His perfect rescue plan.  Continue to be steadfast & intentional my friend.  We are so blessed to even share a part in this journey.  You have been given the children God ordained for you, and you are the parents God has perfectly ordained for them.  Love them well…teach them well.


Mercy & Truth

The email read “The summer is almost at an end and you still haven’t come over for a visit yet.”  I sat there half tempted to send it to the trash bin.  This neighbor woman I randomly met on a walk one day a few months back wants to connect again.  It wasn’t like we really had a lot in common, plus I have four little ones and it is so difficult to have a good heart to heart when I’m being called on between potty trips, drinks, disciplining, etc.

A week later I found myself in a two story house that was painted BRIGHT ORANGE only about a quarter mile from our home, we were sipping on coffee.  Her fifteen year old son was on the floor building a “bad guy” castle out of over sized legos that were clearly from his own childhood with my two oldest boys.  My 20 month old daughter kept climbing in and out of the huge washing machine box turned fort in the joining living room & my 6 month old napped upstairs.

She was passionately talking about her beliefs, her 25 year arranged marriage from this religion, her five children, and how the “true” messiah Rev. Moon had just passed away the week before.  I could see in my neighbor’s eyes the sorrow she felt from this great loss.  She continued “If he truly was the messiah then we will know in time, but if not then I guess it was just something we chose to believe in for all of these years.”  My throat swelled up and there was a knot in the pit of my stomach….for ALL these years!?  These two verses came to mind.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “ …Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…”

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menby which we must be saved.”

I knew that God had brought her into my life for a reason.  How many stay at home Christian Mom’s who live in the middle of nowhere with the nearest store being 30 minutes away get the opportunity to minister to not only one who is lost, but one who is so entrenched in a cult who’s main leader,/god/messiah had just died?!  “Oh Lord, help me!” I prayed.

I’d LOVE to tell you that I was super courageous and bold and shared the most amazing gift that anyone could receive.  But truth be told, I was so scared and distracted….or maybe just scared.  I have this amazing news, news that could change her life forever.  The news that this perfect man/God came and took our imperfectness and sin and paid the price for us.  That His atonement for our sin happened on the cross so that whoever believes on Him can HAVE eternal life!!!  But it didn’t come…I felt like a failure.

I went home and stewed over my response for days.  Praying and asking God “Why didn’t I just lay it out there?  Was it because of my fear?”  In God’s good and gracious way he reminded me of how His son Jesus evangelized when he was on this earth.  Now, there were times that He just said “follow me!” and they did!  But He was also relational & showed mercy to the sinners.  He spent time with the sinners & just loved on the unlovable.

The Lord showed me that I need to just show her mercy, to love her as Christ loves us.  It is the Holy Spirit who draws the sinner in his perfect time. 

John 6:44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:65 “And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Well, what does that look like in my season of life?   I have four kids, three under three and I just started homeschooling my oldest in kindergarten.  I don’t have to time for this…do I?

  Mercy:  compassionate or kindly forbearance shown; an act of kindness. 

Just be kind?  Show compassion?  I can do that.  Have her over for coffee, make her a special treat, give her a call or shoot her a kind and thoughtful email.  I CAN show the love of Christ even in the trenches of Motherhood and in time there will be an opportunity to proclaim my Savior & His amazing gift and plant a seed that only God can grow.

I love how Jerram Barrs put it in Learning Evangelism from Jesus:

“giving ourselves to the task of showing mercy to the needy is uncomfortable.  Trying to be genuinely merciful tends to reveal the selfishness and sinfulness of our hearts.  Mercy disrupts our lives; but this again is what the law is all about—an uncomfortable turning upside-down of our lives (think of the parable of the Good Samaritan).  However, just as with the actions of the Good Samaritan, living a life of mercy does start to produce true beauty, and we begin, in some small way, to look like Jesus.  Mercy is full of good fruits and is deeply attractive to the unbeliever around us.”

  My prayer is that the Holy Spirit draws her and she sees a need for mercy & forgiveness.  It is amazing when and how God chooses to work.  Who can you show mercy to today and share the love of Jesus with?  You might be surprised at where God works & how He works.  It may not look as you would have thought, but take it and run with it.  Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  You never know by what means the Lord may draw one of His children to Him.  YOU may be the instrument He uses.  Don’t get distracted by the daily grind that you miss out on what God is doing! 

Hos. 6:6 “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice”


Peace, Coffee & Dry Socks

“Mom, he hit me!!”  The phone rings and I let it go to voicemail.  As I finish changing the two youngest ones diapers I’m thinking about how I need to get the baby a bottle and also prep lunch.  I then head toward the older boys room to find out what is going on.  I walk down the hall and find myself wading through a huge puddle of water from an abandoned Sippy cup, my socks are soaked… the baby cries.  I stop defeated and ready to hold up my surrender flag.  It seems like all I can think about is how badly I desire for it to be peaceful.  I just want peace!  I want to be untroubled & content.  I want to be free from distractions and annoyances.   I want there to be no noise or quarreling, just peace.  I would give anything for just five minutes to myself to sit down with my feet up (in dry socks might I add), sip on my coffee and enjoy a book without any noise.  Don’t I DESERVE that!?

I walk into the boys room as I raise my voice “how many times have I told you not to hit your brother!?!!?”  UGH!  And there you have it folks…the ugly truth, the way I dealt with the kids just revealed exactly where my worship was.  At that very moment I was idolizing and worshipping the “peace & quiet” that I longed for and I definitely wasn’t trying to be a peacemaker (Matt 5:9) or even show the love of Christ to my children. (1 John 4:7-8)

It is in times like these that God is so gracious to reveal to me and convict me of these fleshly idols that I have put before Him…my King.   Exodus 20:3 says “You shall have no other gods before me.”  As a Christian, our worship of the one true God is the only acceptable belief and practice, anything other is sin.  Here I am with my idols of peace, rest, coffee, dry socks and leisure activity thinking that I deserve them and I want them more than anything.  I was even willing to break fellowship with my children over it…with my God.  My heart hurts.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8: 5-6 ESV)

 During my quiet time the Lord brought me this verse in Romans.  Now obviously I was setting my mind on (or worshipping in my case) the earthly things that I thought would bring me joy and pleasure.  They may have been in the form of peace, coffee and dry socks for this stay at home Mama but they were STILL the things of the flesh that I was idolizing.  According to Romans, that way of thinking only leads to death but here is the promise though!!!  (I love this part ;)  To set our minds on the things of the spirit is life and PEACE that only God can give!  Thank you Jesus!

 Peace?  Life & PEACE!?!?!  That is exactly what I was after, but how do I set my mind on the things of the spirit and get them off of my Idols?  Ephesians tells us as Christians to put off our old self, because it is corrupt through deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of our mind.  (Eph 4:22-23

 My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would do a great work in me in this area specifically.  That by hiding His living word in my heart, I might not sin against Him.  That He will renew my mind and that I will have an eternal perspective.  That even in the diaper changes, the training of my children, and the wading through over turned sippy cups I may do it ALL to Gods glory.  I think only then as I continue to repent and lay it down at His feet each moment of each day will I TRULY have life and the everlasting PEACE that I long for in my King.  I pray that I will be able to extend the love and true PEACE of Christ to my children and my family as Christ has done for me.  For my joy will not be found in my ideas idols of peace, coffee and dry socks but only in my Jesus and the infinite grace that He gives.

Blessings,

Janell


Purest of Milk

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I was a month or so postpartum with our third son and fourth precious child.  I was up three to four times a night nursing him on top of nursing every two and a half to three hours during the day.  Good grief, how often does this little guy need to eat?  In those early weeks I seriously felt like all I did was nurse him, burp him, change him, nap, repeat…  Now granted, it was like that with every newborn baby, but somehow I forgot so quickly.  As they grow, I adjust their feeding schedules and push their feedings out to make it more “comfortable” for me and my schedule.

One morning after his early feeding I came across this verse in my 1 Peter study.

 “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
(1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV)

Oh how this resonated with me, especially at this VERY moment when all I seemed to be doing these days was quenching my newborns thirst for milk, and VERY frequently might I add.  I could hardly get in another chore, responsibility, or project let alone eat a meal myself before It was time to feed him again.

In this verse God is telling us that WE should be longing for the pure spiritual milk (Gods Word, verses, scripture) as a newborn longs for his Mothers milk that we may grow! 

So, there I sat convicted.  How could I think that I was doing “enough” by just reading a few verses in the morning.  What I was truly doing was STARVING!  My newborn was getting milk about 8-9 times in a twenty four hour period.  I was MAYBE eating the “pure spiritual milk” once a day…at most!  Now let me just say, I know and you know that there are weeks, even MONTHS that we go with out the word.  Heart breaking.  Would you EVER let your newborn go without milk like that?  God doesn’t want His child to go with out either.

So where does that put us?  Do we push out our “feedings” of the purest of milk or limit them because it keeps us comfortable & gives us more time for other things?  It is stunting our growth in Christ if we are.  We truly should be eating  His Bread and drinking from the Living Waters as often as we can.  Think, pray, meditate….and chew!  Be nourished & quenched spiritually. 

When a Mother nurses her babe, those intimate moments together create such an incredible bond.  Have you tasted the pure spiritual milk of Christ?  Do you LONG for the purest of milk?  Have you bonded to our Lord like a Mother with her newborn? That ache of emptiness and that cry can only be filled by our King.  I beg you to taste…that the Lord is GOOD! 

Janell


Struck down, but not destroyed!

Where do you find yourself today friend? Amidst trials? Adversity? Are you in the trenches of life?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9 ESV)

I am in the trenches of Motherhood. Diaper bombs, late nights, sippy cups, whiney kids, and sticky fingers. There are days that Most days I feel afflicted, crushed, perplexed and driven to despair…persecuted, forsaken & struck down. How can I keep up with three kids in diapers? How can I effectively train my five-year old & teach him truth? When will the terrible two’s be over? I just don’t have enough energy or strength to get through…

It’s mucky, it’s hard, and it’s down right NASTY as times…and that is JUST where He wants me. Weak, tired, and at the end of myself to finally see that I am NOT destroyed and that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us!!!

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV)

Paul continues to show us that God triumphs amid our human weaknesses, which in turn reflects the principle of Christ’s crucifixion. Christ died for our human weakness which is a result of sin, and He TRIUMPHED!!! Thank you Jesus! So if God was able to overcome the whole worlds sin and triumph, then His grace TRULY is SUFFICIENT!!! His power is PERFECTED in our weakness! Did you see that? That Christs POWER rests on US for His sake. And THEN I can be CONTENT with weakness, insults, hardship, persecution & calamities. (Easier said then done…contentment. But just lay it down as Jesus feet every time you are tempted.)

So, I know that my “hardships or calamities” may be nothing compared to a Father who has lost his child, a Mother who has broken fellowship with her sister, or a daughter who has been abused. But I am SO THANKFUL that Gods promises for believers can carry us through, no matter how BIG or small our trials are.

So whatever trench you find yourself in this season of life, may you rest & trust in this promise that the surpassing power belongs to God, BUT that the POWER of Christ may rest upon US! So go boast in your weakness & to God be the glory, for when we are weak…He is STRONG!

Janell


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