The Day I Became THAT Mom

mother

Many of my friends are 10 years younger than me with no church background.

I worked with Young Life for five years and these kids now have kids and recently, I piled my boys into a van with a gift bag and handmade cards and we drove two hours to the city for one of the kids’ birthdays.

And it was there, surrounded by toddlers in Toms’ shoes and seven-year-olds in high-tops and low-riding jeans that I realized I’d become one of THOSE moms.

Yup.

I was the mom with the kids who wore matching knitted sweaters that said “Jesus loves (followed by their name).”

Granted, I hadn’t chosen those sweaters for them to wear that day. Goodness, I’d tried to find them the “coolest” second-hand clothes we had but they’d INSISTED on wearing their matching knitted sweaters–to my chagrin. “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” I kept whispering to myself as I begged God not to let my precious boys be beaten up.

Every time I asked Aiden if he was getting too hot and wanted me to take his sweater off, he sweetly said, “No thank you.”

I was also the mom who brought homemade-bread sandwiches and homemade cookies and who listened to Wee Sing Bible songs with the boys in our dented mini-van on the way to the party.

But it was there, in the backyard surrounded by my hip, gangster friends with their brand-name clothes and their top-end phones, that I realized–children equalize us.

Even as I ran with Kasher through the throng of parents claiming he “had to poo and now they were all laughing because they got it. Every kid has to “poo”, and NOW.

We were all cautioning our kids–in their high tops and matching sweaters–not to climb too high on the tree house and not to eat too much sugar and kissing them when they fell down and bumped their heads. We were all groaning as we talked about things like time-outs and punishments and defiance and tattling and by the end of the day, we weren’t different social classes or different religions or different ages. We were all moms and dads trying desperately not to mess up the future generation.

At one point, my friend–the one whose boys I watched for a year while she became strong again, the one whose kid was having a birthday party–she touched my back and looked into my eyes and said, “Thank you–for coming. It means so much to me.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the appearance of things.

It’s so easy for me to get embarrassed by things like matching knitted sweaters. Yeah, I was the reverend’s daughter who begged God to make me cool. I would douse myself in Exclamation! perfume and spend all of my allowance on Thrifty’s jeans and Roots sweaters.

But then one day I found myself driving a mini-van singing Wee Sing Bible Songs with my four and three year old.

Deep down, I don’t want my kids to ever be cool. I want them to be kind.

I don’t want them to have to have the “new” things. I want them to give their things away.

I don’t want them to EVER stop wearing sweaters that say Jesus loves them… well, okay, I do, because I really don’t want them to be beat up… but I don’t EVER want them to be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the POWER of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.

And I don’t ever want to stop being THAT mom–but the key is? To be THAT mom who goes to THOSE parties. The ones where people who don’t know Jesus are. Because we are lights, friends. And how BRIGHT our light when it shines in the darkness.

Blessings today,

Emily

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Teaching Our Children to Be a Delight

Teaching Our Children to be a Delight

Every morning I kiss the blonde stubble on his cheek and send him off for the day, to spend seven hours out of my sight in that huge public school of his.Then I get dressed and put all my school supplies in a bag. Inhaling a quick lunch, I head for the Christian high school for the afternoon, where I welcome into my Spanish classroom the young faces that belong to a few dozen other mommas out there.

And all of us moms want to know one thing –that our kid is a delight to have in class.

So I thought I would write to you, as a fellow mom who has worked to raise an honorable man and also as a teacher, to tell you what kinds of qualities I appreciate in those students I enjoy every day.

  1. A pushed-in chair. It’s not a small act of service when a student tidies up after himself and makes things pleasant for the next student who will come to that same spot.
  2. A thank-you. Most students race for the door when the bell rings, but I have a few who say, Thank you, Mrs. Fitzwater, as they leave the room. They show gratitude for my teaching and appreciation for me as a person, even if it’s just because their momma taught them to.
  3. A cheerful work ethic. It’s so nice when students receive an assignment and get to work on it without griping and moaning. All of the students end up doing the same work, but only some of them do it cheerfully.
  4. A readiness to help. We had this food day in class, which was super fun and equally messy. I asked if someone would empty the garbage, and immediately there were a few guys out of their seats and taking care of it. I wanted to give them A’s for the quarter just for chivalry.
  5. A kindness of speech. Our culture is full of sharp phrases used jokingly, like Shut up, and I hate you, and I’m gonna kill you. Students who speak with gentleness and kindness are refreshing to everyone.

This list of mine is an encouragement for us moms, to keep plodding along in all the tedious micro-teaching we do every day, like asking a kid to push in his chair at the table, and the next meal asking him to push in his chair at the table, and the next meal asking him to push in his chair at the table. Insisting on a thank you for every glass of milk and juice and water poured. Saying, How could you say that kindly? to every sibling squabble. Requiring a child’s help around the house and refusing to allow work to be done with a sour attitude.

It is wearying work to teach a child to be a pleasant adult.

But imagine attending your child’s teacher’s conference one day and hearing the teacher say, I enjoy your child.

Let’s not grow weary in the daily work of shaping our child’s character.

Blessings,

Christy

A Holy Encounter in the Middle of the Night

a holy encounter in the middle of the night

Motherhood is something I have longed for my entire life.

Motherhood is also proving to be far more challenging than I could have ever imagined…and far more rewarding, of course. Yet the most surprising thing is the way in which it is difficult.

Yes, you’re sleep deprived. Yes, you’re covered in bodily fluids and more. Yes, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting.

But the most paramount of surprises in regards to motherhood is this:

Motherhood sheds such stark light upon my own faults. Shortcomings. Selfishness.

History has proven that on many a night spent rocking a sick baby, as a battle has raged deep within me.

I’m tired. I just wish she would sleep so I could sleep. I’m so sick of puke and poo and laundry.

But not this night.

This night, I hold his fevered body against mine and listen to the ragged breathing.

I stroke his soft hair, noting how the silkiness of a babe is gone and the thickness of a wee boy has come.

His head nestles under my chin and my breathing falls in time with his. His breathing, so shallow and strained.

Heat radiates as I rub his small back up and down, up and down, up and down.

No, this night there is no pleading with the Almighty for the sweet release of sleep. No counting the minutes until my head finds the pillow.

This night, I cherish. My heart full nigh to bursting with the gratitude of being in this place; being his mother. Full of awe and wonder that so precious a thing could be entrusted to me. Overflowing with love and compassion for the little man splayed across my chest; and for his precious sisters sprawled, limbs akimbo in their beds.

This night it is not hard. This night the veil of self that so often blinds and distorts Truth is pulled aside and the glory and wonder that is this calling of Motherhood stands bright and stark and clear.

And this night, I embrace it with thanks to God for His good and gracious gift.

Have you ever had a moment like this, when the hard suddenly doesn’t seem so hard, rather a blessing miracle? Or are you in the middle of a night in your mothering right now? How can we pray for you?

Praying for you today,

Jen Deibel

5 Tips for Raising Up a Courageous Young Man

5 Tips for Raising Up a Courageous Young Man

It seemed to be all settled with just one phonecall.

He called to tell us that he probably wasn’t going to make it home this summer. Instead he’d be heading to Paris and attending a language-immersion school.

Oh, okay.

Our son was in his second year at a college back east and there’s no denying that we’d miss him. A lot.

But if this was what he was set on doing? What he believed God would have him do?

Then our blessing went with him.

Although I couldn’t help but ask just a few questions before he took off . . . .  

Do you know anyone?

Nope.

Can you speak the language?

Nope.

Have you ever been there before?

Nope.

(Well, at least no one could ever accuse him of being overly verbose. )

“I want to be a light for Christ on a dark hill.” That’s what he said over the phone.

I didn’t know if I should say anything, but it seemed a fairly brave thing to do. To venture into a part of the world that he knew nothing about.  To a place where he didn’t even know the language.

It took some courage.

And as this young man still has three younger brothers left at home, it made me stop and think on what kinds of things a mom can do to help raise up a brave young man.

Because this world could use a few courageous Christian men.

5 Tips for Raising Up A Courageous Young Man


5 Tips for Raising Up a Courageous SonAlways consider him as a young man in the making.

Even when he is still quite small, consider your influence in forming his manhood. I had a friend who commended her 3-year-old who patiently waited while she and I finished up a conversation. She quietly affirmed him, “You’re patient and I like that in a man.” How powerful for a little boy to hear those words from the woman in his life! She was already addressing him as a man in the making.

Teach him to reach for the heights, but have a heart for the lowly.

We want our boys to conquer mountains, to reach for the stars and so he needs to hear our enthusiastic shouts of “I know you can do it!”. Yet he also needs to listen to our quiet reminders, “Look out for her; she can’t walk like you or me.” or “He’s smaller than you. Be sure and help him out.” A good man is mindful of those who need special care.

Don’t pick him up if he falls. Stand by him until he gets back up.

It’s difficult to resist our mothering impulses to rush out when our boy falters, to help him up and comfort him. But to put it bluntly, this does not make for men. As he grows older, the greater gift is to help him find his own strength in Christ, rather than depend on mama’s.

Direct him toward daddy as his hero.

Mama will always have a special place in his heart, but his eyes should be directed toward Daddy (or another older, godly man if dad is not part of the picture). Throughout the day, I might say to one of the boys, “Now, Son, what would your dad think about that?” Or “Your dad is a good one to talk over such things.” Even if I could answer the question, if I wanted to.

Leave no doubt you’re his biggest fan.

Boys generally try to act tough. He doesn’t always show that he’s scared or unsure on the inside. So never leave the slightest doubt you are cheering wholeheartedly from the sidelines as he ventures out into this world. He needs to hear more “Go, Son, go!” than he might let on. (And here: 12 Lessons I Want Our Son to Learn Before He Turns 12)

The Lord bless you, dear mom, to have both the grit and grace to raise up your son into a courageous young man!

We could sure use a few such men in this world.

Lisa Jacobson,  Club31Women

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