7 Small Ways a Faithful Mother Can Make a Big Difference

7 Small Ways a Faithful Mother Can Make a Big Difference

I want to make a difference.

You might not think a stay-at-home, work-at-home, mom like me would be aware of what is happening out there, but I am.

I can see far too clearly the world falling apart and feel much too deeply the relationships crumbling around me – and it nearly breaks my heart.

No, my head is definitely not buried in the sand. We can all read the headlines. Nor do we have far to travel to find heartache or hopelessness.

But this home-centered mom wants to do something about it . . and you?

I want to raise a family who loves the Lord and who will be a light to an ever-darkening world, a family who will offer hope to the aching and the anguished.

So how can one faithful mother make a big difference?

1. Fill our home with joy and laughter.
As the mom, we get to set the tone for the home, so begin the day with a loving smile and a cheerful greeting. And if you don’t “feel” like it? That’s okay, just fake it! Then keep right on smiling until the warmth becomes genuine and shines down over your entire family.

2. Offer grace freely.
Mistakes, mess-ups, mix-ups – it’s all part of being a family. Let them know that you can overlook their faults and you love ‘em like crazy anyway. Don’t be devastated, or even surprised, when your people let you down. Consider the abundant grace showered down over you and me and then offer the same to their tender hearts. They need it at least as much as we do!

3. Share meals together daily.
If our lives are so busy that we don’t have a moment to dine and discuss around the table together, then we are dangerously too busy. While it doesn’t always seem worth the trouble to gather everyone for this daily event, it does add up over time and one of the greatest investments you can make for your family.

4. Be willing to take a strong stand.
It’s a fact: we moms get less grief if we say “yes” than when we say “no”. But, if your spirit is troubling you then don’t compromise for the sake of peace – it’s simply not worth it. Stay true to what you believe is right and stick to your guns. We have to be more concerned about our children’s character than their temporary “happiness.”

5. Take the time to talk it through.
Talking things through takes a gargantuan amount of TIME. Sometimes this means discussing issues late into the night (especially if you have teens!).  No such thing as a shortcut to this critical process – unless it’s sweeping it under the rug which only results in distant, painful relationships. So what are a few bleary nights compared to close, loving relationships?

6.   Ask forgiveness – and grant it fully
If someone sins or hurts another family member in any way, he – or me!- should be swift to humbly seek forgiveness.  And the response should be as quick and wholehearted as the request made.  Don’t let any bit of relational garbage linger to rot and decay! Keep all your hearts clean and bright.

7.   Celebrate the uniqueness of each child
Enjoy each child’s special qualities and embrace every unique individual. Teach your children to appreciate one another’s differences too. Don’t allow anyone to despise or belittle a brother or sister because they happen to have their own giftings, their own particular style, and their own way of doing things. (For more ways:  32 Tips I’d Like toPass on to Moms with Younger Children.)

Although I don’t always feel much like a world-changer, like it matters all that much, this mom would like to think I’m making a world of difference.

And you’re making a big difference too.

Because we mothers can impact more lives than we ever thought possible through our sometimes simple, often hidden, but meaningful ministry at home.

Cheering for you!

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

The Hidden Years of Being a Stay-At-Home Mom (Giveaway!)

hidden years

We were in a garden of peonies, bursting pink and rose and ivory on dozens of bushes and the air smelled like my grandmother’s perfume. I was leaning over the blossoms even as my three-year-old fingered their soft petals and my mother in law, standing there, pointed to a blossom that hadn’t opened yet. Rolled tight into a pink ball, and tiny ants crawling across its surface.

“Peonies can’t open without the ants,” my mother in law said. “See how they’re moving across the surface of the blossom? They’re opening it so that it can bloom.”

I just stared as these tiny ants, who appeared to be doing nothing, worked the miracle of unfolding one of earth’s most extravagant flowers.

And it reminded me of us, as mothers, working tirelessly each day so that one day, our children might blossom.

As mothers we live largely in the hidden years, in the years of the unfolded bloom. We spend hours doing tiny, mundane things like wiping noses and bottoms and tables and chairs and cupboards and floors, and getting on our hands and knees to look into the eyes of a child and disciplining and comforting, potty training and bathtub-scrubbing, mountains of laundry-folding and us, on the couch, crying into a mug of coffee because today of all days, the kids refuse to nap.

hidden years2

And then we walk wearily down the stairs and pick those little ones up and rock them and read them the same stories, over and over, until it’s time to make supper.

And that’s when we realize we’re still in our pajamas.

Life, for a mom, is largely ordinary and unseen and we wonder if anyone cares or if any of this counts towards anything at all?

But God sees. And there is nothing that delights him more than love done in secret.

We live in a world that says it doesn’t matter if no one witnesses it—that unless it’s recorded on YouTube or tweeted or made into a status, or posted on a blog, it doesn’t count.

But we also live in a world that is disillusioned by fame and hungry for unannounced sacrifice.  

I listened to a talk, recently, by a former atheist who now speaks about the life of Christ and all of the years the Bible doesn’t talk about—the “hidden years” she calls them, leading up to his ministry.

God didn’t love Jesus just because of the way he served him in public.

He loved him because of the way he served him in private.

love done in secret

For all of the ways he served his Father in the quiet of the thirty years prior to his ministry. All of the little, ordinary choices he made as a carpenter—the ant crawling across the bloom of the flower, believing one day its work would be honored, but content until then to keep working at what it has been called to do.

As mothers we have been called to serve our husbands and children. To do those small, unseen things that don’t get a lot of praise or exclamation, that leave us some days weeping into our coffee for the longing to be noticed.

But oh, how your Father notices.

And may you hear, as Jesus did, when he emerged from the water prior to starting any kind of ministry, God’s voice declaring proudly from heaven, “This is my daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”

Even as the peony unfolds.

268386_Wierenga_WB

 

It’s my birthday today friends, and to celebrate, I’m giving away a signed copy of my memoir, #AtlasGirl, as well as a beautiful piece of art (see below) by my friend Dee Kasberger (Red Letter Words) over at my blog today. Just click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter!

she knew she was worth

Also, Atlas Girl winners from last month include: Mary-Margaret Brown,  Erin Yeung, Melinda Elam and Debi Schuhow. Bless you! e.

 

Chosen: The call only YOU can answer

Dirt Road with Maple Trees in Winter at Sunrise, Fluffy Clouds

Chosen.

The very word breathes purpose and security.

How different from the please-let-the-earth-swallow-me feeling we knew in elementary school when we were snubbed by the cool kids, in college when the cute guy asked our roommate out, or yesterday when the woman who has it all together got the position we secretly wanted.

How many days do we live defeated? Like unlucky leftovers. Like we could never compare to “them,” to “her,” to the chosen ones.

But that’s not reality. It’s a lie.

The truth is, you are chosen. I am chosen.

We’re chosen to be daughters of the King. Will we accept the invitation to be in relationship with Him?

And then, will we accept the calling for which we’ve been chosen?

“You have not chosen me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain…” John 15:16

I wonder… do we forget that we’re each chosen for a position that only we can fill?

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

I think of sisters in Christ embracing unique, bittersweet paths…

  • One is chosen to serve across the world. Called to live the cross-cultural life that twists, confuses, wearies, and yet overflows.
  • Another is chosen to be the faithful wife of a difficult husband, finding grace in the cracks of the brokenness.
  • One is chosen to endure chronic pain, cancer, and sleepless nights where Jesus shows up like most of us have never known.
  • Yet another is chosen to open her hands and heart as baby after baby miscarries and sees Jesus before seeing Mommy.

Sometimes our callings fill us with wonder, like Mary when she understood she carried the Son of God inside her. We spill over with joy for the privilege of being chosen.

And then the days come when our role is the last thing on earth we want. Mary knew about those days of darkness and earthquakes and death too.

For what have you been chosen?

Do you realize it’s a calling, not a curse?

You and only you are entrusted with this burden, this dream, this joy, this pain. Jesus knows it’s the only calling to adequately show you His sufficiency. It aligns perfectly with your strengths and weaknesses.

The hurt and the beauty are both necessary to create the passion that only you will have.

Embrace it. Every part of it. None of it is for nothing.

The One who created you, formed you in your mother’s womb, was crucified and rose again to redeem you, who empowers you each and every moment… He knows what He’s doing.

And He called you to walk this path. This broken road that leads to Heaven.

He knows you, He loves you, and He chooses you.

Where are you right now? Embracing the call God chose for you? Fighting it? Doubting it? Let me know below… I’d love to pray for you.

Blessings,

Jennifer

From Hider to Reveler

SONY DSC“You take His breath away.” Years later, those words still echo around in my head. It was my Fall Retreat and I was a college freshman with CRU. I remember that at that moment I was intently studying the wood grain on the dusty, camp floor so as not to cry. The speaker was teaching from the book of Romans… and his words started me on a journey that has changed everything.

“You take His breath away.” It was a concept that had never occurred to me before. Never once had it crossed my mind that Almighty God might delight in me. That because I was clothed in Christ, He looked upon me with adoration. Wow. It was unreal to me. Too good to be true.

Up to that point, mine was a life of scrambling, people pleasing, earning favor, hiding my messes, and hoping that what I might have to offer would be good enough. I had my resume of achievements and my sorority and my good girl status and all of that. For pity’s sake, I was a college student who tithed. Certainly that was pretty impressive, wasn’t it?

Oh yes, I had been working hard to impress God…. (Well, except for that brief lapse in high school of course. But, in typical Shannon-fashion, I had pretty much swept that whole thing under the rug as soon as I could. Hidden it away in the place where I kept my failures.)

That’s what I had learned to do. My early church days were laced with instructions about how to live: “do this” and “don’t do that”, “listen to this music, not that music”, “God will be happy if you do this” and all of that. To be honest, that was fine with me because it suited my oldest child personality. I could do achievement. I was comfortable with it. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not all that was happening. I knew that Jesus was truly changing my family. I was 10-years-old when my parents decided to follow Him. I saw the transformation. Sensed it in the very fiber of our home where I would find my Dad’s Bible beside his arm chair nearly every morning. Experienced it in the way my Mom tried to shepherd my tween heart. There was no question He was changing us. I gave my own life to Him shortly after they did and am sure it was a genuine fledgling faith.

But, in all those years in that little church on the edge of town I never once remember hearing that God delighted in me. Maybe I just wasn’t listening or maybe they never told me. I’m not sure. But I know I had no concept for it. No sense that  my worth and significance were all wrapped up in what Jesus had ALREADY done for me. That nothing I did added to or subtracted from my status as HIS. His daughter. Period. And He wanted it that way.

Could it really be that He didn’t just love me through gritted teeth… as One secretly disappointed in His choice to adopt me? Really? He actually delighted in me?

I still can’t get over this reality. This grace that pursues me and loves me – not because I deserve it but exactly because I don’t. He is relentless about it too. It has opened a floodgate of emotion and tenderness in me that I can’t shut down. And pushed me into a kind of vulnerability that still terrifies me. Left to my own tendancies, I’d much rather hide and scheme. I totally “get” Jacob (the Poser) of ancient Israel.

It’s been more than 20 years since that Fall Retreat. During my college years I couldn’t get enough of it… devouring books of the Bible and soaking in Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.

But, I’ll be honest, I still wrestle in the deepest places of my heart with the concept. The people-pleasing, scrambling Hider still fights for her place in my life. Some days it exhausts me. Some days she’ll come out and spew condemnation to my kids. Or heap stress on my shoulders, affecting the whole tone of our home.

So, please don’t stop telling me about how I’m wrapped up in Jesus. And how that makes me so beautiful that it takes God’s breath away.

It seems downright risky to preach grace like that. To push people toward freedom instead of controlling them with law. But, it’s what I have devoted myself to. It’s the reason I ministered on the college campus for 15 years. It’s what I most want my children to catch. And, it’s the reason I blog, teach women’s Bible studies and am willing to drive hours away to teach at a retreat on the weekend. It’s the reason God is not a compartment in my life but the be-all and end-all and everything in between. Because being lavished with grace upon grace will do that to you.

Most days, I feel like a kid caught in a downpour. The kind of torrent that makes it hard to catch your breath. I want to revel in that overwhelming torrent of grace.

Little by little I do go there – transformed from Hider to Reveler. And, THAT, takes His breath away.

Grace and peace,

@In a Mirror Dimly

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