The One in Which We Admit It’s Possible to Be a Worse-r Mom

mistyjennieruth

Ruth and I having lunch with another sweet friend, Jennie Nelson, this summer

A long, long time ago (or so it seems), I was introduced to a sweet girl named Ruth Schwenk. We met over a steaming pot of English tea, around a lovely little table thoughtfully set with candles and an artfully draped scarf, in Sally Clarkson’s hotel room at the Allume conference.

New to blogging, Ruth was just in the process of designing a website she wanted to call, “The Better Mom.” Her idea was to inspire moms to become better mothers, and her plan was to do that through offering inspiration and encouragement, advice and helpful tips from a group of writers who would work individually and together. This website has blossomed into just such a place! We can learn so much from one another.

The truth is, no one has cornered the market on one perfect way to raise children. I can’t imagine anyone thinking they had–especially not anyone who had more than one! This site was built on that very premise: that gathering the wisdom of many different women from different walks of life, who all center their mothering and indeed, their lives on the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the best ways we all can grow–that we all can work toward becoming better moms.

However, there’s one thing I think we need to admit: if it’s possible to be a better mom, it’s also possible to be a worse-r mom. 

It’s not popular to define “better” and “worse” these days. In the name of America’s newest ultimate virtue, tolerance, we tend to pat one another on the back over everything … Oh, yeah; I yell at my kids a lot, too. We had Frooty Loops for breakfast again, too. My kids took a run through the sprinkler instead of a bath last night, too. Everyone was sent to bed early at my house, too. The television babysits for me, too. 

Let me just say first of all that those things happen in these four walls occasionally! No one has perfect days every day. Some days (weeks? months?) are just like that–without Frooty Loops and the sprinkler and a bit of TV, we wouldn’t have made it through, right?

Here’s the problem: what if we keep patting each other on the back and okaying all the not-great things so much that we’ve forgotten that there is any such thing as better??? What if we pat our ideals right into oblivion by telling each other how “okay” we are?

Playing with butterfly

I don’t need condemnation, and neither do you. But I also don’t need everyone around me telling me I’m okay if the truth is that I’m really not.

We all want to be better moms, right?

If I am not regularly available to my child, to share his wonder, hurts, joys, and discoveries, that’s worse.

If I’m yelling at my kids on a daily basis, that’s worse.

If I never make breakfast … or lunch … or dinner … that’s worse.

If my children never invite anyone over because my home is in a constant state of disarray … that’s worse.

If I don’t make an effort to bring beauty into their lives so they can see the incredible glory of God and His creation and wonder at it … that’s worse.

If my children aren’t being told they are loved … that’s worse.

If I tell friends/family members negative things about my children to gain sympathy or because I’m jealous of my child … that’s worse.

If my children live in fear of a slap, an insult, a threat … that’s worse.

If I’ve given my children no vision for the call of God on their lives, that’s worse.

If I never read a bedtime story; if the TV is more available to my child than I am; if I’m not making an effort to train my children in righteousness; if I’m not growing in my own spiritual life … that’s worse.

Before anyone gets all uptight over this short list: please note I’m not saying you’re a terrible mother or that you should throw in the towel and give up if any of these things apply to you. Instead, I’m asking us all to face reality and the fact that these things are worse than their opposites, and that if we truly want to be better moms, we’re going to have to admit them and begin working toward change. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the universe tends toward disorder. That law holds within our homes and hearts, too. Without concentrated energy toward becoming better moms–time in Scripture, time in prayer, time with older, wiser women who can tell us the truth and inspire us toward better things–we’ve no choice but to become worse-r ones.

And that’s not acceptable. No one wants to look back on their children’s growing-up years and see nothing but regret after regret.

So let’s drop the “I’m okay, you’re okay” stuff, shall we? At least long enough to tell each other the truth: that we mamas are all desperate for Jesus, and there are areas in which what we really need is CHANGE. He is willing and able to do the work necessary if we’ll only admit our failures and our needa.

What’s the area you most need God’s grace in today, mama? I’d love to join you in prayer! (Mine is impatience, by the way–and I would so appreciate your prayers, too!)

 Blessings, Misty Krasawski

Catch the Foxes

Little-fox-looking-eyes-green-grass-trees_-_West_Virginia_-_ForestWander

photo credit

 

Exercising is not my favorite thing to do.

That’s why, when my sweet new neighbor asked if I might like to walk with her in the mornings a few times a week, I was quick to say yes. Accountability plus chatting time? Winning idea if you ask me. We meet between our homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and walk either the neighborhood or a local park, solving most of the world’s problems along with a few of our own along the way. It’s been a great time of companionship as we share prayer needs and life stories, as well as a few giggles!

Last week as we rounded the last curve of our walk, I had to stop suddenly. “It’s a sharp one,” I explained as I bent to remove my shoe. A twig of some kind had worked its way in and was poking me with each step, demanding to be attended to. My friend laughed and said, “That’s funny, isn’t it? It’s like a lot of things in life. You can ignore the small irritations, the little pebbles–if they’re tiny and don’t bother you too much, you sortof ignore them and figure you can always take care of them later. It’s the sharp ones that demand you take care of them right away.”

We laughed at our shared tendency to turn every detail of life into a lesson of some sort–typical homeschooling moms, perhaps? But I’ve thought about her comment off and on all week.

It’s true, isn’t it? There are many negative issues in our lives that we can just ignore, planning to get to them later. That roll of the eyes, the tendency to leave clothes on the bathroom floor; a couple of plates in the sink, that funny noise the engine is making.

Catch the foxes for us,

The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,

While our vineyards are in blossom.”    Song of Solomon 2:15

Because most of us are fairly removed from vineyard-tending culture, the concept of foxes ruining them is a bit outside our understanding. Do foxes care about fruit? I know foxes are trouble in a henhouse, but wouldn’t have thought they were much into muscadine!

Apparently they do eat grapes–specifically very young fruit. They also dig holes which would damage the roots of vines. Since this scripture is found in the Song of Solomon we know the main thing the little foxes are in danger of ruining is *love*. Love of all types, I believe; between ourselves and the Lord, our marriage relationship, within our families, and of course that of church and our communities.

How often do we allow small irritants to remain until they a) work themselves into a more sensitive spot or b) turn to the sharper side? Have you ever had something in your shoe, decide to keep on walking and get it later, and that tiny pebble slowwwwwwllly manages to make its way to a spot that actually HURTS your foot? Or the little twig turns in your sock until the pointy part is sticking the right (wrong!) direction?

I do it all the time. And I’ve also allowed math homework to pile up unchecked until the mistake being made was deeply ingrained; smiled and remained silent when a friend said something that bothered me but pulled that statement out later in order to look at it from a zillion angles until I was really annoyed, and allowed misunderstandings to fester because I was too busy to get to the root of what had really happened.

Little foxes will ruin a vineyard just like a pebble in the wrong spot can ruin a walk. 

So how do we “catch” them? First I suppose we must be sensitive enough to notice them in the first place. Then we must determine to do something about them right away! If a small fox can make a little mess, bigger ones can only cause more damage. The fruit of our lives comes from our vineyard–Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He told us that we have been called to “bear much fruit.” So lets watch out, shall we? Let’s catch the little foxes before our crop is destroyed.

Let’s catch and correct the beginnings of negative attitudes and behaviors–in ourselves and our children! Let’s study God’s word so we know when something is “off” within our own lives–so we can recognize the foxes! Let’s let others into our lives whom we trust and can point out little red noses when they see them.

Consider sitting down with the Lord and making a list. What are some foxes that might be prowling around your vineyard–your home, your family, your church, your community? What does He want you to do in order to catch them?

 

We Must Believe that He Is, AND …

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“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Most of us know that it’s required that we believe that God is. We’ve heard and believed the story: that man was created in God’s image, tempted by the devil, and believed his lies rather than God’s truth. We know that means he was thereby separated from God, dead spiritually, unable to be in right relationship with his Creator. Not willing to lose relationship with mankind, the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a virgin, live a sinless, grace-filled, healing, miracle-working, perfectly obedient life. His Son then offered that life on a cross, where He died, was buried, and rose again three days later offering His blood as a sacrifice to cover and pay for the sin of every individual who would ask for that covering. His Spirit has come to indwell us, to seal us for heaven, to enable us to work the works Jesus did and to transform us back into His image.

We believe God is.

But how often do we remind ourselves of the rest of this verse?

We want to please Him. But pleasing Him is impossible without faith. Because believing He is? It’s not quite enough. In order to persevere … in order to pick up those cheerios, tie those shoes, to read a bedtime story one more time … to wait up for the late-returning teen, to check the math paper, to diligently discipline the one who’s neglected the chores yet again … to keep believing for that husband, to try to stretch the penny just one more inch, and to do it all not with fingers clenched and teeth bared but with joy? It won’t happen without faith.

Faith that He sees.

Faith that He knows.

Faith that He cares what you’re going through; what you’re facing; what you’re withstanding; what you’re waiting on.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

If we can’t see them, it’s because they haven’t happened yet. And if you look over all of that chapter of Hebrews, you’ll note: not one of the heroes of faith received all they were hoping for. Which is why, perhaps, they are heroes of faith.

Believing He is? It’s not enough.

If He is … and He isn’t for you? If He is … but He doesn’t see? If He is … but He doesn’t care?

You won’t hang on, mama. Culture will blow you way too hard for that.

Grasp this, today … deep, deep in your heart: He is. AND He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

He will reward your labor. He will respond to your cries. He rewards the ones who seek. Not the ones who do everything perfectly; not the ones who have all their theology in neat boxes; not the ones who know enough to write books on parenting; not the ones with the most promotions at work or the most adulation at church.

He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Let’s put ourselves in that category, shall we? Let’s pray. Let’s read His word. Let’s go without a meal once in awhile and fellowship and have times of silence. And let’s ask Him to help us believe; to help our unbelief; to fill us with faith that He is our Rewarder. Because that kind of faith? That’s the kind that fills us with joy even as we wait. We need a long-range vision willing to trust that God Himself will be our reward–since it’s Him we are seeking, it’s Him we’re ultimately after, and He is more than willing to let Himself be found. What greater reward could there be?

Blessings,
Misty, Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood

A Letter From Your Father …

Quodlibet, Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts

Quodlibet, Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts

My Dear, Beautiful Daughter,

Today is Father’s Day. I know there’s a lot for you to do, and this isn’t a day you usually think much about yourself. But in all of today’s busy-ness , there were some things on My heart that I wanted you to know.

I see you. I see you patiently tying the shoes for what seems the fourteenth time in an hour, picking stray macaroni and cheese bits out of the carpet, washing yet another load of laundry. I see you struggling, too often alone and too often unnoticed and unthanked. I see your heart wilting a little when you feel unsupported, and I know you think you fail way too many times.

You need to know how much I love you. I am with you every moment and I do not miss any of those sacrifices you make for your children and family and for the people around you. I see them all. I am so proud of who you are. While perfection feels so far out of your daily, practical reach, I see that perfection already in your life because of my Son. There is nothing you could do today to make Me love you one bit more than I already do. Your efforts make Me smile and they are not in vain!

You know how your heart feels like it could burst when you sneak into the children’s rooms at night and catch a glimpse of those long lashes on rosy cheeks — the way you jump at their every cry for help — that surge of pride you felt at every new step, every accomplishment, every bit of progress as your little and big ones learn new things? All of those feelings originated in My own great heart. And I feel every bit of that same love and glory and pride as I watch your own progress.

I am cheering you on. I will never, ever fail you; I will never, ever leave you; and I will never, ever give up on you.

You are a diadem of beauty in my hand. I am perfecting everything that concerns you. I am the Author and Finisher of your faith.  And I am waiting to refresh you at every step, to strengthen you at every turn, to carry you whenever necessary.

And on this Father’s Day I want you to know that I am proud to be your

~Daddy

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