Okay, so I am currently on a diet. I started it, let’s see…around 1992. I should be nearly invisible by now, I know, but nursing school, marriage and 3 kids need to be taken into account. As well as 25 years of holidays and birthdays. I probably should just be happy with my current weight considering all that, right? (Joking aside and truth be told it isn’t about my size, it is the idolization of food in my life. I’m on a quest to stop bowing to my stomach and seeking consolation in calories [see Phil. 3:19 and 1 Cor. 10:31]).
It was brought to my attention that when I diet, it affects the whole family. I don’t cook as often and I don’t buy as much food (flee temptation!). I also don’t bake if I can help it (don’t mix up and eat temptation raw, that should be in the Bible too). My 12 year old, Peyton, takes notice of all of this. He is where I got the title. For the first few weeks of my diet, he would proclaim to anyone who would listen, “Mom is on a diet, so ALL of us are STARVING!” He wanted everyone to know he was suffering and I was responsible.
Peyton has lightened up a little on the complaints (Easter candy helped), but it made me realize the influence we moms have on our homes. Do the “little” things we do really affect the family that much? The clear and decisive answer is YES! But I think you already knew that. How many of us have tried to take a night off of cooking and suddenly everyone is irritable and confused (You didn’t make dinner? What are we supposed to eat?!?). When we are having a bad day and get grumpy, how long is it before everyone in the house is grumpy and having a bad day? Yes, we wives and moms have great, influential power over our families. But…we need to be very careful with that “power”.
Ladies, this blog today is not about food or dieting. It is actually about starving. Some of you are starving yourselves and in effect starving your families too. How do I know this? Well, I have been talking to some of you. And I have observed some of you. And I have been listening to many of you. And I have seen the Facebook posts. Some of you are emaciated and your family is suffering. They may not shout, “Mom isn’t reading her Bible, so all of us are starving for encouragement, grace and love!” But they are expressing it one way or another if you are paying attention.
When we skip (or skimp) on reading our Bible there will be effects. God tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt.4:4) and “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63). God’s Word is the Source of life, that makes it essential for living.
Separating yourself from the living waters of God will cause you to dry up and produce thorns, these thorns will pierce those around you. It is difficult and painful to love a thorn bush. Don’t make your husband and children try to do that. Stop the insanity of denying yourself what you most deeply need. Exercise your faith and dive in. Let your soul be refreshed and replenished with God’s Word. Begin to produce fruit that will bless those around you.
Read Psalm 19:7-8, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;”. In just a few consecutive lines we get a glimpse of the value of reading God’s Word - it revives, makes wise, brings joy to the heart and enlightens our eyes! This is what we need in our homes.
Stop the starving. Love those around you well by reaching for scripture throughout your day. Just like oxygen on an airplane, put yours on first so that you can then help the ones you love. Act like God’s word is your lifeline and like you can’t survive without it…because you can’t. I have not met a single person on earth who is too busy to read the Bible and you won’t be the first. No excuses.
The best thing you can do to help your man, encourage your child, love a screaming baby, fold laundry with joy, discipline with wisdom, or fill a house with grace is to read God’s Word daily. It is only God’s Word that can accomplish these ordinary, yet divine purposes in our lives. If mom has joy in her heart and praise for God on her lips, her husband and children will be blessed by it. Her home will be a sanctuary and a place of peace and God will be glorified.
Women, we have a huge issue in our homes that we need to get serious about dealing with. Like a hot -pink, fat elephant it sits in our house disturbing our marriages and our children. It steals the peace we desire within our walls and within our souls. We can deny it in public, but at home it is right there staring at us in the face, making everyone uncomfortable. Time to talk about the elephant in the room…and then kick it out.
Our issue is anger. Too many of us are angry women with short fuses and long memories. We spend a lot of our time frustrated and hear ourselves yelling way. too. much. Society has become accustomed to this lifestyle. We have kitchen gadgets that clean our microwaves that we humorously call “Angry Mama”. We joke about being a “Momster” when we get mad at our kids. I hear myself saying, “You better stop, you don’t want to see mom angry!” As if their actions are responsible for how I behave. Do we really have reason to be so upset?
Knowing I planned to write this blog, I’ve been paying attention to all the things that make me angry throughout an average day. Oh...my…I have so much to be angry about. From lying tongues to broken promises to deaf ears to hurtful words - the obstacles stack up so high it seems too huge to conquer!
This is often where our first mistake is made. We women think that if we can fix the problem (usually a person) we won’t have to be angry anymore. If I can just get my kids to hang up their wet towels instead of throwing them on the floor I won’t have to yell and remind them 36 times. Does this really work? No, not at all. Fact is, as long as we live there will be an abundance of things to be angry about. We need to quit looking at ways to fix this from the outside when we know full well it is an internal issue.
Let’s start taking our anger seriously and admit that it is wrong… okay let’s say it…it’s a SIN. We know it is wrong because we feel it. We women don’t want to be angry! We hate the feeling it brings - during the rage and most certainly after. We see the affects it has on those around us. How many of you still remember the anger of a parent that was directed at you? The intense flare of emotion often has a searing effect on those it is directed at. Sin always hurts period.
Not all anger is sin, be sure you hear me on that, there is righteous anger. We are not talking about that today and most of what we experience as women in our homes does not fall under that category, even if we think it does. It is most likely ugly, self-righteousness.
These are the (fairly well known) verses God led me to this week (okay, so I didn’t just “happen” upon them, God smacked me with these verses as I read them to my boys), found in James 1:19-21, “Know this, my beloved brothers [and sisters]: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Being told to be “slow to anger” is enough of a direct command for us to stop, but God graciously gives us the reasoning too - anger “does not produce the righteousness of God”. It does not make us more holy, it does not sanctify us, it does not make us more like Jesus. Anger is included under the categories of filth and wickedness that we should “put away”. What should we do then? “Receive with meekness the implanted word”. What word is that? The word that is “able to save” our souls – only God’s words save, specifically Jesus who is God’s word incarnate. This word is “implanted” in us because it is part of who we are, we are God’s, he is in us.
Simply put, we need to turn from anger and humbly focus on God’s word that is within us. When God’s word is abundant in our hearts and lives there is no place for anger. Grace and mercy abound as well as patience and self-control. I like the sound of a heart like that! It is then that we begin to produce the righteousness of God that we desire. These blessings (the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us) overflow onto those around us. Talk about a turnaround in the condition of your home!
I won’t deny it, this will be difficult work. Yet it is what God call us to, so he will provide the strength to do it as we trust in him and the power of his word. Therefore consume it daily with meekness, it will transform your heart and your home.
Oh, the days of young motherhood. If I had to choose words to describe it a few would be: smiles, messes, sleep-deprived, fat rolls, sticky and joyful. I’m sure you can think of many of your own. Oh yeah, one more: hard. Being the mother of young children (newborn to pre-school) is hard work. The demands of your time and energy are overwhelming. Add to this the fact that mothering young children usually coincides with young marriages. This makes the perfect, intense and pressurized medium for great growth or explosive combustion. Often both.
The picture I am familiar with is a young woman desiring to have a happy marriage, raise children well, and honor God at the same time. You have worked hard and looked forward to this stage of life and are finally there, married with children. Things appear to be on track and working out as planned. So why is it so difficult? Why aren’t you happy more often? Why isn’t this easier and more enjoyable?
Excellent questions and ones I have lived through myself and have counseled others on. Many are struggling along, trying to keep their heads above water. Being more successful at it at times and taking a dunking the next. Welcome to motherhood, trial by fire…but not fire without purpose. Being a mother is a beautiful role designed and assigned by God. That alone should be humbling, but beauty doesn’t equal ease. Internal and forever soul-beauty is hard work, keep reading.
Here is what is very important to remember: you are learning valuable lessons that will stay with you for eternity during these specific years. The two utmost lessons are these: 1.) Trust God in all things and 2.) All things are about God, not about you. You may think you know these facts already, but Momma, you don’t until you have been through the paces of motherhood.
I call the early years of motherhood the “Crucible of Young Motherhood”. A crucible is a container that holds metals that are melted or subjected to very high temperatures for a purpose. It is a good mental picture for those in this stage of womanhood. The intensity of having young children and a young marriage causes the “heat of life” to turn up. But again, not without purpose. Just like melting metal in a crucible is so that the impurities can be drawn off and then the pure metal can be poured into a mold, so is young motherhood a crucible for burning away the sin of the old self and a time of shaping and perfecting the new creation that you are called to be in Christ. It is prime time for heart-work to be done.
“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” Proverbs 17:3
You may not see wiping noses, faces and bottoms as work toward spiritual growth, but it is. It is some of the best spiritual work that can be done! This is where trusting God is a must. You have to trust that he has called you to this work and that he is using this work to produce lasting fruit in your life (patience, love, kindness, peace, joy, self-control, faithfulness). It can feel like slow, tedious and even trivial progress, but the results are none of these things. The godly shaping of a woman through motherhood is one of the most fantastic processes ever to be ordained by God. If you doubt this, talk to some women who have lived it. Trust that God is doing work in you even when you don’t feel it.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4a
You also must remember on a daily basis (often an hourly basis) that everything is about God and not you. Keep your focus Godward. You wipe the sticky counters off for the hundredth time today because you are serving God through serving your family. You rock a screaming baby with ear infections because God has placed this baby in your hands and told you to raise them for him. You hug and serve a grumpy husband who is being unkind because God calls you to be like his son Jesus who submitted to the Father and died for sinners. It is all about God, the sooner you get this, the more spiritual growth you can experience.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things.” Romans 11:36
A final yet vital word of advice: be in the Bible daily. Even if it is a single verse that you read in the morning and think on all day. Understand you can’t live without it. Staying in the Word during this time of your life is essential and will set the tone for years to come for spiritual discipline.
Ladies, the beauty of motherhood comes in the midst of the messes, sleepless nights and fat rolls. You will get glimpses of it now and then while in the crucible, but the true witness of the blooming comes when you are more removed from the heat. You will begin to see yourself take shape as you more closely reflect the beauty of your Savior. Trust him in all things, knowing all things are about him, even young motherhood.
Most days my house is pretty neat and tidy. It may not be the most stylish or well decorated, but it is often clean and organized. There are times when the house is so crazy neat that I almost feel bad about it when people come over; as if I might appear a little too perfect. I have even purposefully left dirty dishes out to make people feel better (yeah, that kind of crazy). However…
…today is not that day…nor have I seen one of those days in quite some time.
Currently, my vacuum has been standing in the front entry of my house ALL week because I plan to vacuum “soon”; the dust bunny colonies are beginning to organize themselves into cities. I just started the dryer again to hopefully take the wrinkles out of clothes that I washed and dried three days ago. The counter in my bathroom is turning strange colors of orange and green, it has been on my “to do” list for 12 days straight… it remains unchecked…and today's not looking good either. I’m having trouble remembering when the boys had a bath last…they may soon turn strange colors too, let’s not talk about how they smell. Has anyone fed the dog recently? Has anyone seen the dog?
So there you have it, a peak into my glamorous lifestyle. You know what I have to say about all this?
Big deal, that’s life. Get over it.
God doesn’t love me less because my house is a mess and my kids are dirty. Clutter is not a punishment for some lacking in spiritual discipline. I’m not being outwardly punished for missing my “quiet time” with God this morning. Matter of fact I had a great time in prayer and Bible reading this morning, and yesterday too.
Being a Christian does not equate to having things all together. There are days when we are messy on the outside yet are well prioritized on the inside because we are attending to what matters. There are also times when we are perfectly well-to-do looking on the outside when our insides are a mess. Faking a peace that is not there. I know which I would prefer, how about you?
When we are obedient to God there is no guarantee of life being neat and tidy either on the inside or the outside. We still live in the same world we did before we became Christians. God changes us, not our surroundings. There are no special angels that guard against dust accumulation, give fashion advice, or remind the boys to shower (as cool as all of that would be!). However, there are golden promises from God that will hold us together through it all and make this life truly worth the living, messy times and all. Here are just a few precious nuggets:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There is hope that abounds beyond this temporal world and we find that in Christ alone. He is the one who holds us securely in his loving hands, never to be snatched away by the enemy or the literal messes he may throw at us (John 10:28, one of my personal favorite promises). So the house may fall to shambles for a time, but my soul never will. That is true peace.
I guess I should wrap things up now, that dryer buzzer went off ages ago and the dog has turned up…he looks hungry. So, ladies, I want to encourage you today, no matter how things look on the outside, if you are in Christ, you are okay. In fact, you are beautiful, dust bunnies and all.
My two boys have been sick this week with the stomach flu. This nasty bug is making the circuit fast, so maybe you have been dealing with some of the same things I have. In the middle of switching out puke buckets it can be hard to remember to still praise God, so I made myself try to brainstorm some blessings I have experienced out of this. Here are a few that I have come up with:
God is amazing, there is ALWAYS grace to be found in every situation. After meditating on these blessings I found myself happy my kids had been sick…what an odd statement…but not untrue. God desires us to look to him in all circumstances and to praise him for managing our daily divine assignments. Yes, divine and ordered by God no matter how mundane (or messy) they seem.
This experience brings two verses to mind. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” from 1 John 3:1(NIV) and “For from his [Jesus’] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16. When you are adopted as a child of God his love is lavished upon you and his grace stacked high. All from the abundance found in Jesus! This is not an occasional sprinkling like from a little squirt gun but like a continual flowing from a wide open fire hydrant. Live joyously in this current, knowing that all things coming at you flow first through the loving hands of God himself.
My boys only had the flu and not cancer or a debilitating illness. Yet, this is where thanksgiving in all circumstances starts (1 Thessalonians 5:18), in the small, ordinary occurrences of life. When larger and more difficult moments come, you are practiced in trusting God and are able to worship him in the midst of it. If it doesn’t happen in daily life, it won’t happen when life’s true trials come.
Ladies, what has God brought you to today...this week...this year? Stop to find his grace in the middle of it. Where do you see good coming from it, how about spiritual growth or a training up of your soul? Still finding that hard? Then look at Jesus and think on the love he had for you that drove him to the cross and how he broke death so that our eternity can be forever sweet and glorious with him. Everything pales when staring into the face of Jesus Christ.
Let’s praise him today no matter what you are going through. Find his love lavished and his grace stacked high at all times for those who love him.
If I told you I sing praise songs about how awesome my boys are or that I get down on my knees each night and bow down to them, would think I had lost it? I sure hope so. Yet we have become a society that does just that in a variety of other ways, not as obvious but just as destructive to you and to them.
There is a message I keep seeing being shared on Facebook about a parent’s love for their children. It says that everything the parent does is for their child and that he or she is what life is all about. What a load of trash! If you live for your child what a superficial, unsatisfying life you lead.
Are we to sacrifice for our children? Yes. Are we to love and nurture our children to the best of our ability? Of course. But never worship them. God has a special name for this, maybe you have heard it before, it’s called idol worship and he was pretty serious about it even from the beginning. Does commandment #1 ring a bell, as in, “You shall have no other god before me.”? Exodus 20:3
When we orient our lives around our children we put them in a place where only God should go. Is God okay with these little cuties taking his place on the throne of your heart? Get real. Keep yourself in check, even sincere Christ followers often fall prey to this mentality. It may be the most socially acceptable and even applauded sin in modern society.
Here is what God’s word has to say about a depraved group that he was done with, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25
When we place our children higher than we ought (pedestal, stage or soapbox) or serve them as if their desires are our commands, we have bought the lie and dishonored God. We begin to move our life’s spotlight off of our Savior and onto a small creature who has no power (except for the imagined power we attribute to him or her). The exchange in the verse above has taken place. It is absurd and disturbing, like saying, “No, thank you Potter, I don’t need you, I will take this little lump of clay and worship it instead.”
What a disservice we do to our children in this. In our vain attempts to love them by praise and bending to their whims we distort their thoughts of God and cause them to become confused in their identity. We train them up to be glory-thieves, claiming the attention due the Almighty. No wonder we often raise selfish, prideful adults who think they have the power to determine who God is for themselves.
We need to love our children enough to not praise them. My goodness cheer for them in sports and drama, encourage them in working hard, tell them Good job! when they excel. BUT give the praise to the God that grants them these gifts and created them to thrive as they do. Make your children know that it is God working through them to display his greatness and that there is nothing better than being a conduit of God’s power. Teach them to look heavenward and not inward for strength and wisdom.
We as parents serve the purpose of being a human arrow for our children, always pointing up to our Creator and praising him. Seeing in each other the attributes the Potter has especially designed for each of us, but remembering to rejoice in the greatness of the Potter and not the clay. In a home that does this there is happiness and many reasons to celebrate.
Ladies, the next time you look at your child, see the evidence of an awesome and praise-worthy Creator. Know that the life of your son or daughter was created for the glory of God alone and there is no better purpose.
If you read Part One from last week, you know that God has called us, as mothers, to guard the hearts of our children. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) God has specifically assigned to us the young hearts under our care. It was written out before we were ever born (see Ps. 139).
I told you to think of yourself as a gatekeeper to the heart of your child. Is this an easy calling? Not in the slightest.
Everything and everyone is vying for the affections of our children. It is a real-life raging war and you are in the middle of it. Remember - strategically placed there by God himself for this reason. That is why we need to take it so seriously. We will be held accountable for how well we perform this duty we have been called to, so we need to go at it with our whole hearts and minds engaged.
Guarding hearts affects every area of your child’s life. Our senses are bombarded constantly with outside influences; we feel this as adults, how much more is this true for our children? We cannot stay ignorant of the spiritual battle taking place around us. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Your children live in this time of present darkness, right in the midst of a world where Satan reigns and evil runs rampant. If you don’t protect them (as God has commanded) who will?
Be vigilant about who your children are with (adults and other children) especially when you are not with them. Be fully aware of what you allow their eyes to see and ears to hear; remembering that there is no such thing as “neutral” in this world. God is clear about this “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30. If it is from the world it is not good for your children. No neutrality!
This may (should) cause you to rethink many things such as: television (what do you watch or is it beneficial in any way, does it glorify God?), music (God wired us to love music for good reason, but it is also highly influential and has powerful abilities to manipulate our affections) , media of any kind, video games, where they attend school (the world reigns in schools and you are not there to be a gatekeeper, be sure you fully trust those who fill their hearts up for 7-8 hours every day), sleepovers, how you celebrate holidays (be mindful of what are you celebrating), what friends they hang around with, the list goes on. There is so much competition.
Start early and don’t give up when they turn 5 and go to school OR 13 and don’t want to hang around you anymore OR 16 when they begin to have a social life outside the home. These are some of the most important times to remain engaged. Stay vigilant, lovingly vigilant.
Am I telling you to “shelter” your children? Well, duh, yes! Why do people often think sheltering our children is a bad thing? It is our job; anything that causes you not to shelter your child is from the Enemy. Quit allowing him to bend your ear.
Protection and smothering are two different things, exposing children to evil is not the answer for building them up to withstand it. The goal is not increased tolerance. The goal is a heart kept as undefiled by the world as possible until the child is responsible for guarding their own heart.
The only way to train a heart to stand up to evil is to train them with the only weapon capable of defeating it, the Word of God. Teach them how to wield the Sword.
Do not think we are stealing control over our children away from God. Quite the opposite. When you become engaged in this battle like you should, you quickly realize that you have no control. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) You have to rely completely on the one who created those young hearts. God alone can fully guard their hearts. That is the foremost goal we must always keep in mind, we want our children to learn to give their heart over to God. He alone protects hearts because he, as their Creator, is the rightful owner and Lord over them.
Mother, be that active gatekeeper to the hearts of your young children. Train them with the Sword of the Word of God. Teach them how to protect their own hearts by following God’s ways designed for their protection. Show them how to keep their heart soft and ready for God’s directions and how to not harden it against him. Lean on God daily for his guidance in this, he is faithful in giving wisdom to those who ask for it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Mothers, take a stand and take hold of your calling. Lovingly and vigilantly guard the hearts of your children!
This is a great responsibility, Mom, and yes… it is on your shoulders. Your husband’s as well (or the child’s father), but today I am talking to YOU.
Last week I wrote on loving your children by teaching them who love. That must be first and foremost, teach your children about God’s love for them and his salvation offered through his son Jesus Christ. Today and next week, I am writing on the significant task God has assigned to you as a parent of keeping your child’s heart “unstained from the world.” See James 1:27.
Solomon was a man blessed by God with great wisdom; his wisdom was far superior to that of any before him or any after him. In Proverbs Chapter 4, he is entreating his sons to listen and be attentive as he shares his counsel with them for their benefit. His desire is for them to gain wisdom and to “walk the path of the righteous” (v. 18).
Toward the end of the chapter in verse 23, he sums up his guidance in one sentence, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV)
Much of what we are instructed to do as Christians can be boiled down to guarding our heart or keeping our hearts pure for the honoring of God. The heart is the core of who someone is, the area from which flows feelings, decisions, and attachments. It puts on display who we really are; our actions flow forth from our heart.
The ESV translates the Hebrew this way “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We are to protect our hearts with all vigilance, a strong word indeed.
What does this have to do with raising Children? Everything! Have you ever thought about why God assigned these children to YOU? He has given them to you as a heritage, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalms 127:3) He has ordained that YOU be the one responsible for caring for them; teaching them about him, and guarding their hearts while they are young. This is on your shoulders until they are old enough to guard their own hearts.
This is big stuff and a huge responsibility! I don’t say this to overwhelm you, but to make you understand the seriousness of what God has called you to for these fleeting years.
How do you guard your child’s heart? Proverbs 4 goes on in verses 24 -27: Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (ESV)
These are good directions on how to keep your heart pure and how to train your child to do the same. Put simply: speak carefully and honestly, do not deceive; your eyes need to be forward on Christ (whom you live for); you need to wisely choose your path and where your feet go; staying persistent in your pursuit of Christlikeness; and finally, stay away from evil.
When relating this to how you guard the heart of your children think of it this way. You are the gatekeeper of their heart. You are the one to decide who or what is granted access to the heart of your child. What their heart is filled with is largely up to you. You don’t want to allow anything in that may cause harm to them or their potential relationship with Christ. This sounds simple…. it isn’t.
It is a raging war and you are in the middle of it. Placed there by God himself. How well are you doing at fighting for the purity of your child’s heart? How have you prepared yourself to know what is good and what is evil?
Continue to read next week as we address some very practical ways in which we need to be guarding the hearts of our children.
Do I really need to say more? It seems quite self-explanatory to me. In our constant pursuit for perfection (or at least as close as we can get) how often do we stop and think what we are really striving for?
We think it would be awesome to be perfect; preferably in as many areas as possible. We want to be Wonder Woman, or Super Mom if you prefer the name, same thing.
We want to have a well decorated home, that is well kept and always clean. Same with the kids, hubby and certainly ourselves - well decorated and clean. Physically beautiful and fit? You bet. Wonder Woman so obviously is. And haven’t you ever envied her ability to fly? Wow, I sure have! That has to make life easier.
But if I had to guess, being Wonder Woman is probably pretty lonely. Who could measure up to all that? What would you talk about? You probably wouldn’t want to invite her to your home to meet your husband.
So why do we find ourselves wishing to be like her? Wanting to be found fantastic and amazing in every way? Oh, how our hearts deceive us so easily. Sinful desires creep in and lead us to into discontent with the blessings God has lovingly assigned to us.
It is truly a heart issue. We begin to worry more about what others think of us or even what we think of ourselves over and above what God thinks of us. We forget we are playing for an audience of one and we begin to act out dramatically for an imagined audience in our heads who have no sway over our value or identity.
The Bible tells us that we are vessels for him. “For we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 1 Corinthians 4:7. This treasure is disclosed in the verse prior, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
We are called to let the light of the treasure of Christ shine through our weaknesses, the thin spots in the clay. Often the parts we don’t like on display.
How could we show that the treasure (what is truly valuable) belongs to God and not to us if we were Wonder Woman or Super Mom? We would get the credit when the hurting and dying world looks our way, trying to figure out just how we do it all. We would be thieves, stealing glory due to God.
The beauty and display of Jesus comes from weak vessels displaying greatness that could only come from someone greater. This is why God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Amen to that. We should actually boast in our weakness, ladies, not our strengths.
As I think about my closest friends and imagine them next to Wonder Woman, I have to laugh. They don’t compare either, and I love it that way! Praise God, he has been lovingly creative with us. Our lives of imperfection can speak volumes of the grace of Jesus Christ and how he alone makes us wonderful and super.
We were not created to be like Wonder Woman or the fictitious Super Mom, we were created to have a need for a savior. Our lives and even our bodies were created exactly the way they are in order to produce the most glory for God possible in our lives. This is what true beauty is all about, reflecting the beauty of Christ. I enCOURAGE you to look for it in those around you, your sisters in Christ. Look for it in yourself.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.” Only a woman could read this often overlooked verse and find great joy in it. It is found in awesome chapter 14 of Proverbs and God brought it to my attention this week just when I needed it.
Who wants a clean manger? Well, honestly I do. Or I think I do. I sure spend a lot of time and energy trying to get one. I clean my house multiple times a week, often multiple times a day just trying to keep it “presentable” whatever that really means. I can easily get caught up in the futile frustrations of it all…
BUT...(you could feel that coming, right?)…is it really futile? If I didn’t have oxen, my manger would always be clean. If God hadn’t blessed (yes, I said blessed) me with a husband and children, I would be able to sit back and enjoy a clean home all day, every day. But let’s be real, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I sometimes imagine I would. I would miss my cattle very quickly and desire a full and messy manger again with all of my heart.
This verse provided me with a quick shot of proper perspective from my Loving Father. Ladies don’t fret about a messy home. Yes, we need to care for it and keep it comfortable, but we know it will be just a matter of time (usually about 10 minutes in my house) before it is messy again.
If the manger in Bethlehem all those years ago would have been clean and empty, Jesus wouldn’t have had a safe place to lay his head while Mary recovered and could hold him in her arms (not to mention we would be without one of the most awesome Christmas songs EVER). It was all in God’s perfect plan.
God uses our messy homes for his purposes too. We may feel that it is wasted time and of no “real eternal value”, but get real! Remember, God uses EVERYTHING in our lives to shape our hearts as he desires them to be. Through caring for messy oxen, we learn patience, how to serve with a right heart, how to honor God in all we do, how to love others, perseverance, and tenacity. Also how to train our children, delegate, and manage a home. Recall that, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” Luke 16:10.
We may call it housework, but God calls it all heartwork.
If you are single and feel as if your manger is just too clean… time to mess it up. Seriously. Invite others in to minister to and serve. Find ways to bless the hearts of others in the name of Jesus as God transforms your own.
The second half of this verse goes like this, “but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Where there are oxen, the harvest is plentiful, in our hearts and in theirs. You may at times feel like your family members really are farm animals, but these “animals” are assigned to you to accomplish in your heart exactly what your All-Knowing Father knows you need most. Trust God, the fruit will come and it is promised to be ABUNDANT if you follow him.
Welcome to the glorious process of sanctification, Ladies! I enCOURAGE you to thank God for your messy mangers and the oxen he has entrusted to your care for your good and his glory today.