Yep. It’s true. The phase I thought would NEVER end is finally over. I no longer have to peel my son’s little fingers from my arms and hand him kicking and screaming to the poor baby-sitter. I no longer have to try to hold in the tears as I walk away listening to him scream for me. Matter of fact…I can hardly get him to answer his phone…let alone visit. He will occasionally reply to a text message. So, I think I can confidently say he has this separation thing beat!
Moms, I want to give you a good dose of encouragement today, especially those of you going through a tough time. I am still raising a couple great boys, but I have launched one already (no, he didn’t land too far away). Raising my firstborn was not an easy task (really, the firstborn is just a lot of trial and error…lots of error). However, the experience has given me a good sense of orientation on the brevity of our position. In English, I’ve been there, done that and it goes fast.
Now it may not feel fast for you, especially if you are in a difficult period of parenting (dealing with colic, potty training, bullying, teenage rebelliousness). As moms we can easily become consumed with the struggles we are going through with our children. It affects every area of our lives and weighs on our hearts. I sometimes wish I could go back and give my younger self a hug and tell me that everything will be okay. Ever feel that way?
Well today, I have something even BETTER for you. I have words written to you (yes, you) from God. The very God who designed you and your child plus knows your situation and every situation coming up (yes, there will be more). His words are better than any I could ever think up - words that will lift up your chin to stare Hope in the face.
Now, understand that the Bible is chock full of encouragement for anyone going through a difficult time. Today, I have chosen just a few for you to hold onto.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear, what can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13: 5b-6. This is one of my go-to scriptures for ALL of life. God’s promise of his presence is everything to me. If God is with me nothing can knock me down (Rom. 8:31). Check the Bible out and see the numerous times God kills fear and doubt by promising his presence (Great Commission ring a bell? Matt. 28:20). I often feel all on my own when I am struggling, this verse reminds me that not only is God with me, he is my help! Excuse me? The Master of the Universe is the one who comes to my aid when I am in need? That is some of the best news of my lifetime, seriously. You could also easily switch out your current situation with the word “man” in this verse. “I will not fear, what can (sickness, tantrums, disabilities, a grumpy teen) do to me?”
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. – James 4:14b. I LOVE this verse, especially during hard times. Why? Because it is a sharp reminder that this life is fleeting. Keep yourself straight on your priorities. What we do here matters and carries great weight into eternity (i.e. – you must know Jesus and serve him!) but don’t get bogged down with each passing phase. It is the biblical way of saying, “This too shall pass (really, really fast)!” No, that is not an actual verse from the Bible.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18. I saved one of the best for last. Take it from Paul, who knows what suffering is. If he can call his physical beatings light and momentary you can certainly claim the same for your sleepless nights with a chronically sick baby. Look to the eternal, trust that God is using what is painful and causing suffering in your life for good. No, you don’t understand it all and you can’t see the beauty yet – but that is great exercise for your faith! A trust-building, high intensity workout! The glory is coming, keep sweating.
Make sure God is who you cling to whenever you are struggling, whether with children or something else. His words alone contain power and hope, not tips from friends, the internet, or me. I dare you to grab a Bible and test this out.
And hey, Ladies…if you see Wyatt out there please remind him to call his mom once in a while. That would be great, thanks!
“Why is being a mom so hard? Could use a little prayer...” This is a portion of a text sent to me from a friend a couple weeks ago. It may sound strange, but I felt blessed to receive it. I wasn’t happy she was struggling, my heart hurt for her and I certainly prayed, but I was happy she had reached out.
My friend knew she was up against something that she could not battle on her own; she realized her need and asked me to come alongside her and talk to God. What a beautiful thing to do with a fellow sister in faith.
I want you to think about this from both sides today. I want to encourage you to reach out to others for help and I want you to reach out to help others, even before they ask for it. Are you doing either of these well? As Paul says in Galatians 6:2, we need to, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
First, asking for help. When we reach out for help from others (whether by phone, text, email, or in person) we are making it plain that we cannot do this life on our own. Unless you are Wonder Woman (and you are NOT no matter how many times you see the movie) you really do need help “doing life”. We were created with a specially designed need for God. We were not created to be independent, that is fictional and don’t believe any self-help book or blog that tells you otherwise. Jesus was serious when he said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
If in doubt, ask these questions: Can you make your heart beat? Can you make your toddler (or teenager) listen to reason? Can you change your husband’s habits? I didn’t think so. You NEED God. So get over thinking you’ve got everything covered, you aren’t fooling anyone. Reach out for help when you need it. Allow a sister to join you as you go before the Lord in prayer.
Here is the cool part that we often miss: admitting your need brings glory to God! God designed us to depend on him, depending on him brings him glory as it points to him as being the only source of all good things (James 1:17). Display your full trust in God by asking for prayer. Know that when you reach out for help you are not reaching out for a human hand but for God’s hand. He is the one you need assistance from.
Let’s go to the flip side now. How often do you reach out to others, offering prayer for their needs? Do you realize that everyone around you is struggling with something? Everyone. Most could give you a long list. Once again, there are no perfect people (even if they act like they are). God uses need to push us toward him. It is a graceful thing and opens up great opportunities for us to love one another. Be the one who approaches others to ask how you can be praying for them.
This also brings God glory as he uses his children as instruments of kindness and love. We do this not because we are so nice, but because our God is so wonderful and we know he has exactly what every person needs.
Ladies, I challenge you to do this today. Reach out and offer prayer to someone God places on your heart. And then really pray for them. If you need prayer today, no matter what it is for, I encourage you to reach out and ask others to pray for you. Allow a fellow sister to be a part of this blessing of going before the Father.
I told you last week to be quiet. I encouraged you to listen more and talk less. This was for the purpose of loving others and receiving biblical counsel. That may have brought about the thought, “If I am listening, then someone is speaking, we can’t always be quiet.” You are absolutely right, you are not called to a life of silence. So, women, now I am telling you to speak up! If you do not speak, you will be utterly disobedient to the call of sharing the gospel and bringing glory to God. The key is to know when to speak and when to listen.
Once again, let’s look at James 1:19, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” As you read here, listening is our “go to” position, our default behavior. However, we are still called to speak, yet it is not something we rush to do. We speak after thought and biblical contemplation.
I want you to take notice of those around you the next time you go to church. Observe their behavior, how they speak and what they have to say. My guess is you will find many of the wisest believers say very little. Why is this? They have gained wisdom from long and careful study of God’s word. This causes them to live out verses like James 1:19. When these people speak, you find yourself listening to what they have to say. They have weighed their words and found them worthy to be spoken. I’m sure you can think of a few of these people right now.
This is not a hard and fast rule for quiet people, however those with deep wisdom are often not the loudest in the group. Solomon recognized this trait, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28 (see also Proverbs 10:19, 18:2, and 29:20)
So how do we know when to speak? I’ll give you three helpful guidelines to follow today. Understand, I am not saying I have this all figured out. God is working on me as he is you.
One: Is what you are going to say biblical? You may think this only applies to speaking at church or in bible studies, but you would be wrong. God’s Word is the standard for everything - for life, for behavior and for the words we say. Is what you are going to say in line with the teachings of scripture? If so, good. If not, don’t say it. Think of it this way, if Jesus was in the room, would you still say these words?
Two: What is the purpose of your words (the heart motive)? Is your goal in speaking unselfish or is pride at the root? For example, you are about to tell your husband something - will the words build him up or build you up? Your goal must always be to honor the gospel. Does this seem too lofty when all you want to say is, “Please take out the trash.”? If the gospel is to be the center of our lives and homes we have to keep it utmost, even (or especially) in our words. And yes, tone matters.
Three: Even if the words are biblical and encouraging, should you speak them? This is a tough one. We Christians have a lot of good stuff to say…but it doesn’t all need to be said. Especially not all at once. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for many reasons and this is one of them. Discernment matters. There are times I don’t want to speak up but the Spirit tells me I have to, there are other times I have something great to say and the Spirit tells me to keep quiet. Learn to heed and trust the Holy Spirit given to you as a gift to sanctify you. This comes through time and maturity in Christ and his Word. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,” Proverbs 12:27a.
Ladies, I know this sounds hard. Do I really expect you to think about these three points every time you speak? Yes, actually I do. God’s standards are perfection, how can I point you (or myself) toward anything less? I want speaking biblically to become your natural habit. Another great reason to praise God for what Jesus has done and the gift of the Holy Spirit to make growth toward this goal possible!
Finally, we are always called to speak the gospel. This is an area where we certainly need to speak up! Share Jesus with others. If we believe it in our hearts it will come out of our mouths. “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak,” 2 Corinthians 4:13. Let Christ be on your lips and allow him to command your tongues. Trust him to do this and practice discernment in speaking today.
Be quiet. Just listen. Quit talking so much. Hear what those around you are saying. My advice today is simple, Ladies, we need to do a better job at listening. Instead of filling the air with our own voice (often full of instructions and demands) we need to sit and hear what those around us have to say. There are two areas in life I want to draw your attention to today. First, the importance of listening to those we love. I was reminded of this recently when with my two younger boys.
We were walking a trail at a state park and it was beautiful. I had a lot I wanted to say: “Let’s take this path, look at those wildflowers, we should play a game later, let’s cook over the fire tonight…” and on and on. I took a big breath to start my discourse… then God shut my mouth. He caused me to pause and listen instead. My boys were already talking to each other, discussing their futures. Peyton plans to be a famous author (he has no doubts). Troy (the business minded one) was figuring out ways he could make money and then invest in his brother’s plan, helping him to get published. What a golden moment to hear and I nearly ruined it with my own verbal agenda.
God gave me a gentle reminder of my need to listen more often than I talk. Some days I feel like a non-stop cascade of advice and commands. Disguising it as “help”. We women fall easily into that trap of justifying why we need to run our mouths so often. When you get down to it, it is a pride and control issue (aka sin). God tells us through James, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” 1:19. Are you hearing God’s voice in this verse? Listen to it, there is a wealth of wisdom found here. Time to heed it.
I encourage you to pause and listen to your children, to your husband and to your friends. Don’t spend time with people just to get your needs met or for your own purposes. Love those around you by caring about what they have to say. Listen to their lives. Great relationship building happens when someone feels “heard” by another. Try it.
The second area I want to draw your attention to is listening to counsel. “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20. There are some women who are very difficult to counsel because they will not stop talking. There is a time for expressing what you are struggling with, but there is also time to be quiet and receive the guidance requested. It should be a gentle back and forth of giving and receiving. I want to love you well and equip you to serve the Lord with all of your heart, please allow me (or whoever is providing good, biblical counsel) to do that by pausing to receive it. We will both be blessed for it.
Ladies, please practice listening more often than you speak. Keep James 1:19 in mind and try to live it out, being quick to hear and slow to speak. I think you will be surprised by the fruit gained. Above all, listen to God’s voice found in his written word. Without it, we have nothing good to say anyway.