Older Women, Help!

NaramoreTitus 2:3-5 exhorts older women to teach the younger women to, among other things, love their husbands, love their children, and be workers at home. As a younger mom, you may wonder why you need that encouragement from older moms. I can think of several reasons:

  1. You will receive absolutely no encouragement from the world in your calling as a mother and homemaker. To the contrary, you will be ridiculed and made to feel like your calling is a waste of your education, talents, and abilities. Maggie, a young mom-friend of mine, was asked by her high school guidance counselor what she wanted to do with her life. Maggie declared, “I want to be a mom.” The counselor replied, “That’s not good enough. You have to pick something else.” That is the perspective of the world in which we live. You need the encouragement of older moms to be reminded that your calling is worthy of your life’s focus and is an instrumental and strategic position of influence.
  2. Older women have a “been there, done that” perspective that younger moms need. We’re past the labor-intensive part of motherhood and can give you hope and an “it’s all worth it” perspective. Scripture tells us that a woman forgets the pain of childbirth for the joy of a child once it is born. (I have to be honest, though, and tell you that I did remember James’ dramatic birth for quite some time.) I can truthfully say that I can’t even remember the hardships of early motherhood now for the joy of my grown children. They are just vague memories. It was all worth it.
  3. If you have small children, you are in the midst of a very demanding season of life. It’s easy to think that your current status will be the reality for the rest of your life. To borrow the title of a book, motherhood is a “long obedience in the same direction.” God chose to make human babies very needy. They are unlike baby sharks (which are self-sufficient at birth) or giraffe babies (which start walking two minutes after birth.) Our babies are totally dependent on us for survival and are needy of our time and attention for a number of years—all part of God’s design. In the midst of that long obedience, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. You need encouragement and support as you walk through this season of life.
  4. Where there is no vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). That means they lose hope and want to give up. Young moms need envisioned older moms—women who are convinced of the value and worth of motherhood and homemaking—to give value and worth to the work of their hands. God-vision helps you see past the loads of laundry and dishes, sleepless nights, bone-weary exhaustion, and feelings of being overwhelmed. God-vision convinces you that all your work is instrumental in the plans and purposes of God. You are helping rebuild the foundational building block of society and the church—the family. You are part of God’s MO in the earth by raising up godly seed who will affect the seven mountains of influence in society and generations to come.

Your sacrifice and steadfastness is precious in the sight of God, dear mom. Keep going. You are doing a good job!

Lisa

P.S. Rachel Naramore and her three adorable children are featured in today’s photo. Rachel and her husband Brandon are pastors at Rock of Roseville church in Roseville, California, where Rachel has used Not Just a Mom in various small groups to encourage moms. Her favorite blog of mine so far is “Holiness or Happiness?” where I briefly shared vulnerably about our marriage struggles. One of the greatest gifts we, as the older generation, can give the next generation, is honesty about our failures and weaknesses. That honesty frees those who come behind us to acknowledge their own failures and struggles. Be blessed, Brandon and Rachel!

 

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If Children are a Blessing, Why is Motherhood so Hard?

Oh babes“I don’t think I really realized how hard those first few months of motherhood were until now. People told me over and over, ‘It gets so much easier.’ But I never believed anyone in my hormonal, sleep-deprived state when I had a constantly crying and colicky baby who wanted to be held every second of the day. So, I’m here to tell whoever needs to hear it that it does indeed get so much easier (even though she still wakes up 3+ times a night!) It may not seem like it, but one day you’ll wake up and realize, ‘Ah ha! This is what people mean when they say kids are the best thing ever.’ I finally get it.” (My daughter Julie made this Facebook post when her baby–their first–was ten months old.)

Another mom responded to one of my blogs with similar feelings about the challenges of motherhood: “I am so extremely tired from all that goes into staying home with my four little girls (ages 6, 4, 2, and 6 months.) Thank you for sharing the ‘why’s’ and a larger perspective than the ‘here and now’ of being with them. This is definitely a long-term investment with an unknowable return.”

Raising children is definitely plain old hard work. In my 35 years of motherhood, I have made 38,000 meals; done at least 10,000 loads of laundry; driven kids to more than 10,000 lessons, games, practices, and youth group meetings; changed diapers over 30,000 times (we were one of the last hold-outs on cloth diapers); and have had well over 4,000 nights of disrupted sleep due to crying babies or middle-of-the-night diabetic blood-sugar checks. That does not count the frequent feelings I have had of inadequacy, exhaustion, failure, and being overwhelmed that every mother feels at times.

How can children be a blessing in light of those facts? If they are truly a blessing, shouldn’t this “motherhood thing” be fun and easy? How can God say children are a gift and reward when they are so much work?  Why aren’t human babies like baby sharks which are self-sustainable at birth? Or at least like giraffe babies who walk within two minutes of birth?

We don’t understand God’s ways. He, the wise and good Creator, designed babies. He could have designed them to be totally self-sufficient at birth—able to feed and clothe themselves, get around by themselves, not needy of anything. Instead, He made them totally dependent on us for everything–I mean everything! And we spend hours a day nursing our babies. How confining and limiting! What was God thinking?

Maybe it’s His way of telling us that giving ourselves to the care of our children is His good and perfect will–in spite of the hard work. This phrase comes to mind: It is hard to kick against the goads. This Greek proverb was familiar to anyone who made a living in agriculture. An ox goad was a stick with a pointed piece of iron on its tip used to prod oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the animal to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the animal would rebel by kicking out at the prick, resulting in the prick being driven even further into its flesh. In essence, the more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered.

Nothing good comes easy. Every great accomplishment takes huge amounts of time, work, energy, and attention. Talk to any great politician, musician, or athlete—they all paid a huge price for success. Being good mothers and raising whole children requires nothing less. Maybe it’s time we quit “kicking against the goads” and start yielding to God’s perfect design. Embrace the hard work required in raising children.

View nursing as a good reminder of what is important in life. Before the advent of formula and bottles, nursing guaranteed that a mother stay close by her baby–again, God’s design. The hours we spend nursing our infants sow a multitude of valuable things into their little spirits that translate into their knowledge of God. They learn that ever-present mom is always there to meet their needs–just as God is present. Psalm 22:9 tells us that we learn to trust when upon our mother’s breast. Trust is one of the key stages of development that contributes to us becoming whole people who can in turn become world-changers.

As I have mentioned before, God uses all the hard work and sacrifice of raising children to deal with our flesh and conform us more to His image. Surrender. It’s in that place of sweet surrender that we find God’s peace and joy.

Lisa

P.S. Pictured above is my grandson Leon Paul Engelhardt when he was only a few days old–the epitome of a newborn’s helplessness. He is now an active, inquisitive seven-year-old boy who is out to change the world. All the hard work David and Bethany are putting into raising him will be well worth the effort!

 

 

 

 

What About Me?

Dofelmier FamilyIn all my talk about the value and worth of motherhood and homemaking, you may be asking, “What about me? What about my dreams and desires? What about my education and calling? Am I not wasting my talents and abilities by being just a stay-at-home mom? Isn’t there something more important I could be doing with my life?” Those are good questions—ones I want to address today.

There is so much we can do right from our homes as exemplified by the Proverbs 31 woman. She was one busy woman! In addition to meeting the needs of her family, she bought real estate, planted a vineyard, and had a belt business. That means she worked outside the home—right? No, not necessarily. Nowhere does it say she left home to do these things. She could possibly be a great example of a home-based entrepreneur.

Her life can intimidate us, though, unless we realize that nowhere does it say she lived out the accomplishments of Proverbs 31 simultaneously. Speaking from my own experience, I did not have it in me to administrate our ministry when our children were young–my hands were more than full. But as my children grew, I took on more and more of the administration, operating in my natural gifting. Now I’m a full-blown administrator– which I love!

Here’s a partial list of dreams and callings women can fulfill from home: run a hair salon; teach piano; have a framing business; do medical billing; tutor students in your area of expertise; administrate the family business; sell real estate; run an Etsy shop; do professional photography; run a catering business; have a graphic design business; record a worship album; write books; help with a political campaign; run ministries at church. It’s a lie of the enemy that you have to waste your abilities and talents if you are a mom and homemaker.

I do have to issue a warning here, though. In the midst of eight children at home, I wrote two books and helped Jim write two books. In the process of writing one book, I set aside three hours a day in which to get the work done. I set up shop in the dining room so I was available and not sequestered away. However, when I completed the book, my kids gave a sigh of relief. Even though I was home, my focus had definitely shifted for three months, and I had not been fully present. Life had not felt normal in our household, and a lot of things were neglected. When we take on new activities or responsibilities, we need to be careful that they are not distracting us from our primary calling.

Understanding the seasons of life can be so helpful. Remembering that our children will not be small forever can give us needed perspective. Embrace the gift of fertility when you have it. Enjoy the season of raising your children. Most of us get to enjoy our children at home for a brief 18 years. I know that seems like an eternity when you are in the midst of the demanding years of raising infants and toddlers. But it won’t be long until your children are gone, and you will have lots of time to pursue other dreams and callings.

The Proverbs 31 woman “did it all.” She did it in such a way, though, that in the end, her children and husband rose up and praised her. Apparently, they did not resent her or feel neglected as she pursued her dreams. Maybe it was the understanding of seasons that allowed her to do it all in the right way.

Enjoy the season you are in!

Lisa

P.S. Mother of three boys, Erin Dofelmier is featured in today’s photo with her husband Ryan and one of their sons. Erin exemplifies today’s blog. She felt led to pursue her dream of law school after she and Ryan married. However, once Henry, their first child, was born, she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving him. She chose to lay down the law-world so she wouldn’t miss out on the chance of raising her children and enjoying the special moments–like the one pictured above! By choosing to forgo a lawyer’s lucrative salary, they are living on one paycheck and staying in her parent’s cottage instead of owning a big house.  She is reveling in being a mom, though, and trusts that God will put all the puzzle pieces of her life together in the end. We honor you, Erin!

 

 

 

Where We Sow, There We Will Reap

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Margot James Watson

In viewing lots of “talking heads” on mom and dad’s television, I’ve noticed that a lot of these influencers-of-public-opinion are women. Because of my strong bent toward motherhood, I always wonder about these women’s personal lives. Let me share with you what I discovered as I did a little exploring.

Megyn Kelly, a prominent news and political commentator who hosts The Kelly Files on the Fox News Channel, was honored as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2014.  Wow! I’d say she’s a poster-child for the empowerment-of-women movement. However, we often fail to look below the surface at the price paid for such achievements. At age 43 she has three small children with her second husband. When asked how she balanced her nightly show with raising her kids, she responded with this: “Having a very supportive husband helps a lot.” Another key? A nanny. “I couldn’t do it without a nanny, and that’s the truth.”

Following are quotes from an article posted on several online sites: Unfortunately, Megyn’s first marriage failed. Her first husband remembers the priest who married them expressing concerns about their relationship. Her husband was a doctor and she, at the time, was a high-powered lawyer. When the priest told her that it was going to be important for her to take care of her husband and home, she replied, “What about him taking care of me?” Her husband is quoted as saying, “I wanted a wife and she wanted a wife—we both needed someone to cook for us, clean for us, and support us.”

Ouch! Those comments make me sad. Society has convinced women that motherhood and homemaking are second-class callings not worthy of their lives, time, and attention. Being a “help-meet” to our husbands is viewed as a demeaning calling from which we need to break free. Our daughters are taught that the most important goal is to pursue their own dreams and callings—even at the expense of husband and children. I am not trying to bad-mouth Megyn Kelly (I pray she will choose a path she will not regret in the end.) but her life can serve as a reality- check as we make life decisions based on a Biblical perspective.

The Bible teaches us about the principle of sowing and reaping. It is well understood that we reap what we sow. What we often forget is that we also reap where we sow. If we sow into our careers, we will undoubtedly reap there—as exemplified by Megyn’s life. Unfortunately, she is dependent on someone else doing a major part of the raising of her children. On her deathbed I doubt she will wish she had won another major award or made even more career advancements. I suspect she will wish she had been more present in the lives of her children. If we want to reap on the home-front, we need to make that the primary place in which we sow.

It is interesting that the woman’s husband in Proverbs 31 received his praise in the city gates—in the public arena. What was the source of her praise? It came from her husband and children. Two different spheres of influence, but two equally important callings. Obviously, she had been present, had faithfully met their needs, and had chosen to sow her life into her home and family.

I share these things to encourage you, dear mother. When you choose to lay down your life to care for your children and support your husband—no matter what the world says—you are doing very important work. Your name may not make the list of the 100 most important people in the world, but I have a strong feeling it will be very high on the list of very important people in heaven.

Your calling is valuable and important! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Lisa

PS: Today’s picture features Margot James Watson, our 7th grandchild, as she celebrated her first birthday with her best bud Wally (a.k.a. Sir Walter Watson.) Lee and Julie, our third oldest daughter, are her awesome parents.I had to post this picture, because I can’t stop smiling every time I see it!  Since they live in Charleston, South Carolina, and we don’t get to see them very often, Julie posted a picture-a-day of Margot during her first year of life so I (and her other grandmothers) could enjoy her on a daily basis. Margot is very fertile ground into which Julie is faithfully sowing her life.

 

 

 

Gender War vs. Original Design

The Boisture FamilyThere is a gender-war raging—a movement to do away with any distinctions between the sexes. The appearance of gender-neutral restrooms, gender-neutral toy aisles, even going so far as a gender-neutral Bible, exhibit this. Being a “he” or a “she” is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I guess that will be the end of “gender-revealing parties” for pregnant women. We will be giving birth to a “person” instead of a boy or girl.

Some women seem to be mad that God made them women. They want to be like men in every respect. However, in order to accept the world’s mantra of equality between the sexes, we have to ignore part of our original design. What is our God-given design as women?

God made man—men and women—in His image. Together we display His complete image in the earth. But we are different. Women are God-designed to bear and nurture children—a gift that was not given to men. In order to pursue the roles of men, we have to shut off or severely limit that gift. In the creation story, God declared, “Good!” over everything He made. That means He declared, “Good!” over His design of women, including our ability to give birth. The enemy has convinced us that that gift is bad and led us to believe that it is a liability and curse instead of a blessing. Feminists hate this “biology is destiny” theory and have done everything they can to distance themselves from this reality in their quest to seek equality with men.

Not only does the design of our physical bodies point to childbearing as part of our calling as women, but certain portions of Scripture also affirm the calling of motherhood and homemaking. Eve, the first prototype of a woman, was called the “mother of all the living.” In the book of Genesis, our original designs were cursed at the fall: men in their work and women in childbearing. Adam was called to “keep the garden” and young widows were exhorted to “keep house”—both high callings. The Proverbs 31 woman “looked well to the ways of her household.” Older women were exhorted to teach the younger women, to among other things, love their husbands and children and to be “workers at home.”

The callings of both men and women are valuable and needed. Work “out there” is no more important than work at home. In fact, when work at home is neglected, the ramifications for society are devastating. In convincing women to abandon their primary focus of children and family, the enemy has succeeded in creating a huge void that is threatening to destroy the very fabric of society. Our calling as “keepers of the home” is a critical role in the health and well-being of the church and nation. We need to reject the lies of the enemy that say our job is a second-class calling. God has entrusted the health of the very building block of society into our hands. It is a very high calling.

Reject the lies of culture that degrade your role as a mother and homemaker. Fully give yourself to your original God-given design as a woman. Embrace fertility as a gift instead of a curse. Understand that as a keeper of the home you have been given a crucial role in the success of the church and our nation. Believe that children are a gift and reward—not a hindrance and stumbling block to your fulfillment and dreams. When you embrace the gift of children and motherhood, you are cooperating with God’s plans and MO in the earth. You are positioning yourself to influence history, the Kingdom of God, and the world in a way no one else can.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you are wasting your life. You are a world-changer!

Lisa

PS: Today’s picture features Jason and Callie Boisture and their beautiful daughters from Tacoma, Washington. Callie responded to my “Holiness or Happiness?” blog with this:

Thank you for another encouraging post! In a world full of the opposite sentiments, mothers need to hear a voice speaking out about losing one’s life to find it. Nowhere in my Bible does it talk about the path of self-centered living being the path to peace and Christ-likeness. Nor does it say that “having it all” equals fulfillment. Keep posting. I’m reading and re-reading regularly!

 

 

 

 

Holiness or Happiness?

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The Hardebeck Family

I’m reading a great book by Gary Thomas entitled Sacred Marriage: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? Some people have fairly blissful marriages with little conflict. That has not been the case for us. Jim and I are as different as night and day. And I didn’t even know I was selfish until we got married. Because my parents never dealt with my strong will, Jim got the lovely job of dealing with it. That made the first years of our marriage challenging. Despite our differences, though, God called us together for His kingdom purposes, and He has used our marriage to refine and purify us over these past 37 years.

Bearing and raising children have accomplished the same goal in my life. They have dealt with my selfishness and self-centeredness in a way nothing else could have done. As hard as that has been, I can say it has been the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I always say that my younger children have a much more Jesus-like mother than my older children did when they were younger. Not that I am perfect, but I bear the image of Jesus more now than I did 34 years ago when I started mothering. That has happened through learning to sacrifice my time, energy, sleep, priorities, and desires. All those things have brought death to my flesh, but life to my spirit. Scripture tells us that Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. Suffering (loss, sacrifice, sickness, etc.) has worked the purposes of God in my life. Difficult as it has been, I am thankful for it now.

Women shall be saved through the bearing of children (1 Timothy 2:15). One commentary I read said that saved here means sanctified. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus. That process is never easy. But it is so good. Scripture also tells us that the pain of childbirth is quickly forgotten when the joy of the child arrives. I can honestly tell you that all the hardships of early motherhood are just a vague memory now in light of the joy I have over my grown children. All the sleeplessness, exhaustion, feelings of being over-whelmed, and being stretched to the limit were worth it. Nothing compares to the end-fruit of my years of labor.

Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it (Matthew 16:25). By losing my life in the raising of my children, I have found it. I have discovered what is truly important in life. One side benefit is that because I learned to lay down my life for my children, I am now more easily able to lay it down for my elderly parents. I admit that the first six months they lived in our in-law apartment were challenging as I had to take on a whole new set of responsibilities. But once again, in laying down my life to care for someone else, I have discovered what is truly important in life.

Dear moms, all the hardships you are experiencing in the raising of your children are worth it—in your life and in theirs. You are doing what is truly important. May you know new grace each day to die to self and allow His life to grow within you.

Much love,

Lisa

PS—The above photo is of Galadriel Hardebeck, her husband Ben, and their beautiful children. She commented on my last blog-post with these words: Lisa, I loved this post! I recently went to Minnesota for a few days and my oldest (8) was crying, saying she was going to miss me. She said, “I just like knowing you’re in the kitchen.” I had to laugh because that’s what I needed a vacation from! But it meant a lot to know that as she’s getting more independent and doesn’t constantly “need” me, she just likes knowing I’m there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Choose Quantity Time Any Day: The Power of Your Presence, Part 2

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Carrie & Family

“I’ve just been home with the kids all day. What good is that?” These are frequent thoughts of a stay-at-home mom. Let me share some stories that give value to the importance of our presence with our children. I will start by sharing Jana’s story in greater detail:

I was a stay-at-home wife before I was ever a stay-at-home mom. Homemaking was always appealing to me. Cooking, making gifts, volunteering—they were things my heart longed for.  Maybe that’s because my mom had always been a stay-at-home mom for me.

When my kids were in 5th and 9th grade, I got the opportunity to make my hobby into a career, and I took it. For the first time ever, I was working full-time outside my home. My hours were from noon to 10pm six days a week. Initially, it was exciting to have a new identity and a highly visible job.

After a little less than a year, however, I started noticing the toll on my family. My peace and joy were compromised, my husband and kids were lonely, my son’s grades were slipping, and my daughter stopped playing. I never wanted my day-off to end. Unfortunately, my boss wanted even more and more of my time.

After a year-and-a-half, I resigned and came back home to my better job. The change in my kids was astounding: my son’s grades climbed back to A’s; my daughter started singing while she played and began reading again; my husband relaxed and was able to spend dad-time with the kids; my daughter started to understand her math; and my son started making friends at school. At one point, Garett said to me, “I just like knowing you’re here. It’s not that I need you to do stuff for me, I just like that you’re home.”  Jana

I love that testimony! We so underestimate the power of our presence in our children’s lives even as they grow older. One of my favorite parts of being a stay-at-home mom is being present for special spontaneous moments with my children. I’m dedicated to being as fully present for my last child (James is 17) as I was for my older children. I love when he says, “Mom, come see this new video I just made.” I’m so glad I am here to share his world. I also loved my special moment with Maggie (20) last week as she shared with me the joy of her new job at church and some relational challenges she was experiencing. Those moments probably wouldn’t happen if I was gone all day and depended on “quality time” to connect with my children. I’ll choose “quantity time” any day.

I’ll close with a testimony from Carrie, pictured above with her husband Art and their six children. She shares two priceless moments—she calls them “Jesus-moments”— experienced in their first two weeks of homeschooling:

This morning everyone woke up early and was fighting. Even I was grouchy and short-tempered. As I begrudgingly did everyone’s hair, Katelynn began singing, “Bless the Lord, oh, my soul…” We all joined in. Within minutes our moods changed, and our day has been great. Another precious moment: Hannah literally had a panic attack while starting her math. She started crying about how she hated math. I first prayed for her and then had her stand up and shake off all the hurts and fears she had felt in pubic school. I communicated to her that we are going to learn together at her pace and that she will have time to finish her work. We laughed, and I told her my goal was for her to like math. It has only been a few days since that incident, but it is like I have a different child. She is now soaring!

Enjoy those precious “Jesus-moments” with your children, knowing that your presence makes a huge difference in their lives.

Lisa

They Call Me Mom

Today I am sharing a thought-provoking guest-blog by Rona Allen (mother of six)—one of my young-mom heroes.

Sean & Rona
The Allen Family

I must hear it 80 times a day: “Mama.” “Hey, Mom.” “Mommy!”

What should we do today, Mom?
I’m thirsty, Mom.
Hey, Mom, I need help.
Mom, watch me do tricks on the trampoline.
Can we have pizza for dinner, Mom?
Mama, the baby’s crying.
I want to sleep in your bed, Mommy.

They freely come to me with needs, wants, demands, tears, and giggles. There are times, though, when I can’t handle one more request. They yell, “Mom!” but I hear, “Excuse me adult person who gave birth to me: I am going to suck the life out of you and have you serve me until you’re blue in the face and can’t breath anymore.” But they sum it up nicely with just one word: mom.

Then there are the times when I gladly say, “Yes!” to my three-year-old’s request to sleep with me, we giggle together in bed, and I hold her close to the womb where she lived within me for nine months. I try to imagine what it will be like when she is 18 and wonder if we will lay laughing with each other then. Her blue eyes will be the same, but those sweet chubby cheeks will be gone. There will come a day when the 80 times will dwindle to 50, then to 30, then 10, and then none at all. Our children will be grown up and out from these four walls, and, “Mom!” will be heard only in my memories.

Being a mom is hands-down the hardest thing I have ever done and will ever do. And yet, somehow, it is the most important thing I have ever done and will ever be. Did you catch that? There’s the doing and the being. I’m good at doing a lot of things and working hard around here, but often times my children don’t need me to work hard and do lots of things. Yes, they need clean underwear and a dinner to eat, but they also need me to be their mom. What does that mean?

One time our four-year-old was having a hard morning, getting frustrated at all the buttons on her clothing. Then she got hit accidentally in the head by her sister, which sent her into a greater downward spiral. I kept trying to get her to stop crying, but she just wanted to cry. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to hear it, so I told her to stop crying and get ready to leave the house with the rest of us. Sean gently said, “Why don’t you just hold her? I seem to know someone else in this room who usually feels better after a good cry.” I relented and held her. As her tears slowly ended, she pulled her face off my shoulder, looked quietly into my eyes, and said, “Thanks, mom.

In thinking about the role of moms, God led me to the story of the crucifixion. I was surprised to see that some of Jesus’ final words were spent acknowledging His mom. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:25-27). Jesus saw his mother—where? There! She was there. Mary came to support Him and be near Him—actively participating in the moment at hand through her very presence. It was as though He looked down at her and said, “Thank you for always being there for me just as you are right now. I see you, mother. I see that you are there. This has meant the world to me.” The whole world was sharing in this moment between them. He could have had this conversation behind closed doors since He was well aware of His timely death. Yet He wanted their relationship to be displayed and to make known that her presence was important to Him.

It’s noticeable to God that you are there with your children. He sees you there—even when no one else does. An older father of eight children (Lisa’s husband) encouraged me with a life-changing one-liner: “Even on your worst day, Rona, at least you are there.”

You are there in the kitchen handing out drinks. You are at the changing table throwing away dirty diapers and kissing belly buttons. You stand by the trampoline and cheer on the masses. You listen to the cries of a discouraged heart. You bandage up the bleeding and drive the broken to the hospital. You feed the mouths that hunger for more. You are there in the night to calm the nerves from bad dreams. You find the missing toy for it’s teary-eyed owner. And you hold their faces close as they lay in your bed.

Being there makes a difference. “When he saw his mother there…” Let that be said of us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

May you be encouraged!

Lisa

 

PS: Here is the link to Rona’s site if you want to read this blog in its entirety: http://lilygirl.com/they-call-me-mom/#sthash.KUNZUyeE.dpbs

Eight Kids! What were we thinking?

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Anderson Family

With eight children we have experienced it all: a used condom swinging out a pickup widow as it passed our 15-passenger van; the “environmental glares;” and the inevitable question, “Are all those children yours?” Today I will share truth that led us to have the family we have—truth that has not only changed my life, but has also changed the world.

It’s easy to think I am a natural lover of children by the fact that we have eight kids. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I had no natural love for children at all. We thought pretty much the way the world thinks about children until I stumbled on a book by Mary Pride entitled The Way Home. God used her book to challenge our thinking about the issue. We began to see that the world’s view of children is diametrically opposed to God’s view.

The world says children are a financial burden and a hindrance to our personal dreams and desires. Population control experts and environmentalists say they are a source of a lot of the world’s problems. Their answer is to severely limit the number of children we have. Multiple nations have bought that lie. The result? Many are now on the brink of financial ruin due to the fact that there are fewer workers, fewer consumers, and not enough young people to care for the aging population. Realizing their mistake, some nations are now encouraging (even paying!) parents to have more children.

What does God say about children? Psalm 127 unequivocally says they are a gift, reward, and blessing. It also says a man with a lot of kids is a blessed man. Proverbs 14:28 states that a ruler with a large population (lots of children) is similarly blessed. And as I stated in my first blog-post, children are one of God’s modus operandi—His means of building and growing His kingdom in the earth. So often in Scripture, God’s answer to the world was a baby. Some of the main stories we read in the Bible center around the birth of a future leader: Moses, Samuel, Samson, Joseph, John the Baptist, and Jesus. There was great warfare surrounding these births—barren mothers or murder edicts issued on their very lives—that required God’s intervention. Hmmm…maybe Satan knows something we don’t know about the worth and significance of our children and wants their existence stamped out at any cost!

How has God’s truth about children impacted us? For one, we decided to receive the entire blessing He wanted to pour out on our lives. For others, it has meant being open to more children than they originally planned on having. Knowing children are a blessing and gift from God has helped soften and give meaning to all the hard work involved in raising them. Also, instead of eagerly looking forward to being empty nesters, we feel totally blessed that we have a senior in high school still at home with us.

Our attitude about our children is very evident to those around us. Beth, an old friend, recently made the following Facebook post. It is easy to see that she views her children as a blessing—quite a contrast to the, “Hallelujah, we’re empty nesters!” mentality:

Today is the fist day in 31 years Bill and I have not had kids at home.  We marvel at the joy, love, music, laughter, tears, blessings, and normal family chaos our five children (including two sets of twins!) brought into our lives. I sincerely can’t believe how fast it went. Now they are all on their own paths. Yes, I know they sometimes come back for a spell—which will always be a welcomed stay—but today marks a very significant, new chapter in our lives. #gratitudeforthejourney #gonnamissthenoise

How is the world a different place because we believed this truth? If we had stopped at four children, Molly, Rachel, Maggie and James would have not been born. I can’t imagine life without them! We would have known loss, and the world would have known loss. Each one of them is a world-changer!

Mom, the children you have been given are a gift, reward, and blessing from Him. Receive them as such!

Lisa

PS: For more on this topic, you can order my book Are All Those Children Yours? on our website at www.lifeline-ministries.org

PS again!: Merry Christmas!

The Power of Your Presence, Part 1

The world’s current message is that women can “do it all”—succeed with both a career and family. Even in the church world, that idea is promoted. I recently perused the website of a popular Christian women’s program. The only motherhood article I noticed addressed the issue of how to transition from the workplace world each day to home and family at night—endorsing the do-it-all mentality.

What is best for our children and families? Let me share some examples that might help shed some light on the issue.

Jana is a mother from our church with two teenage children. She had always been a stay-at-home mom until she and her husband decided to help run a karate school. This demanded that she work from noon until 10:00 p.m. six days a week. Life at home was no longer normal, and it wasn’t long before they started to see changes in their son and daughter. Those changes became so pronounced that she decided her job was not worth the toll it was taking on her children. She gladly quit her job and returned home, deciding her children’s wellbeing was not worth the extra income. Everyone is much happier now. Most people think teenage children are fine with mom in a full-time job. Jana’s family proved otherwise. (I’m going to share her testimony in greater detail in another blog.)

Jennifer recently made the decision to quit her job and focus on her marriage and family. Previously a single mother, she had no choice but to work during that season of life. Now she is happily remarried. Unfortunately, her boss was expecting her to work longer and longer hours. That, and a comment from her oldest daughter, caused her to re-evaluate her priorities. Her daughter, a freshman in high school, had just made the dance team. Due to her work schedule, Jennifer was unable to attend a big performance of her daughter’s team. When she apologized for not being there, her daughter responded, “That’s okay, mom. I’m used to it. That is just my life.” Her comment pierced Jennifer’s heart. She realized her daughters are growing up very quickly, and she wants to be there for them. I assured her that even though things might be tight financially because of her decision, God honors those kinds of decisions and will be faithful to them.

In John 14: 3 Jesus told us, I go and prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also. What a great picture of motherhood! Jesus didn’t go to prepare a special place for us and then leave a note on the counter saying, “I hope you enjoy your stay. See you later!” No! Heaven is special because we get to be with Him! Over and over again in Scripture, God tells His people, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you.” That constant presence is a special aspect of God’s nature I believe we are called to carry and display as women and mothers. Our presence plays a huge part in raising whole children whose needs have been met.

Dear moms, on the days you feel unproductive and unimportant, know this: your presence alone is ministering to your children. It affirms they are important and a top priority in your life. Your presence makes them feel safe and secure.

A life with no regrets is one of my greatest desires. I have absolutely no regrets for all the years I have spent with my children. It’s one of the best things I have ever done.

Many blessings to you on your journey of motherhood!

Lisa