For Moms: Live Forward!

How is this going to affect our relationship?
Have I hurt him so deeply that . . .
Ohh, I regret my tone of voice!
I wish I could undo . . .

I wrestled through thoughts like these countless times over the years of raising our children, beginning when they were toddlers and through the teen years. I wish I could say that I never wrestled again after that, but I have. Why? I’ve let words or behavior that I regret hold me captive. Worry seeps in, as do thoughts of negative possibilities.

Honestly, I don’t think that these types of experiences blanket our days. Rather, if we take time to remember, simple precious moments over countless hours will flood our memory—precious smiles and giggles, watching a child play or experience something for the first time, bedtimes, their excitement as they share a story or accomplishment, hugging our child or being hugged by them, that look that lets us see their love or gratitude, our phone calls . . .

So, why is it that painful memories haunt us or flare up whenever something goes sideways regarding a child? And why do those questions and worries seem to crowd out the greater evidences of sweet times?

God yearns for you and me to grasp His view—of us, of how He wants us to live in relationship with Him, of our role as moms.

He appointed us to be moms, when he wrote our days in His book before we were born. (Psalm 139) Nothing we say or do is a surprise to Him. He knows our history, our current life, and the state of our heart. His view of our effort is tender, loving, and abounding in grace—not critical, disappointed, and questioning why He made us mothers. Do you wrestle with believing this? The strategy to end the wrestling is a growing intimacy with Jesus Christ. Learn, for yourself, the truth about His view of you. God sees you and me as the person He knows we will become, as we partner with Him to love and raise our children.

We are disciples of Christ, which means we are lifelong learners of how to follow Him. One way we learn is through being a mom, and some of our practice will be hard.

Leave the past.  Only, leave it in the hands of our Almighty God.

Invite God to help you learn all that He wants you to learn from it. If a memory concerns or burdens you, unload it to God. Jesus died for all our brokenness. Lay it at the foot of his cross. Seek, receive, and embrace His forgiveness. Invite Him to restore your heart, your child’s heart, and your relationship. He will.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavishes on us.” (Ephesians 1.7–8a)

Live forward.  Only, live forward in the path lovingly prepared for you by our Sovereign Father.

Mark the many beautiful moments of being a mom. Mark your growth, your child’s growth, your relationship’s growth. Mark change. Mark redemption. And thank God.

On the larger canvas of life, each season blends into the next. Each brush stroke has purpose, for the child and for us. Memories of hard experiences slowly fade, even heal, as God’s love covers all. The image that God has been painting all along reveals breathtaking beauty.

What To Do With Our Hopes

“Can we talk to God about our pets?”  His soft-spoken question and curious eyes exposed that his understanding of prayer was broadening in the moment, as our little group learned about talking to God. The other 1st and 2nd graders listened, as he added, “My fish is sick.”

“Yes, you can! And we’ll also pray together for your fish in a minute.”

HOPE.

This precious little boy hopes his fish will get well. Even better, now he knows he can talk to God, about what he hopes for. Before, his hope was only a thought.

Do you have any hopes that are only thoughts—or maybe, only wishful-thinking conversations with friends?

We hope . . . it doesn’t rain during our event that’s going to be outdoors . . . she believes we’ve forgiven her . . . he realizes the consequence if he disobeys . . . she knows how much God loves her . . . we handle a situation the right way.

“…we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4.10)

Throughout a day and many a night, I have wrestled, stressed, cried, feared about a hope I have. Hope is hardest when the focus of our hope is a person, a relationship, ourself, or a circumstance. We watch—the person, the relationship, the circumstance. We watch for what we want. Possible outcomes—founded on evidences we collect by sight and experiences—flood our mind, and our thoughts often swirl into a torrent of negative feelings and outcomes.

When I take these ‘hope-thoughts’ to God, my soul rests. In the handoff, my focus shifts to God and He fills those places in me with His peace.

At the same time, hope can be hard even when God is our focus, because we have to learn to trust Him. You and I have lived a lot of life relying on people, circumstances, and our self. We have to practice trusting God to learn to trust God. . . just like we practice reading to learn to read.

As we practice placing our ‘hope-thoughts’ in God’s hands over and over again, we open our heart to try on trust. The focus of our hope becomes God.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.  (Ps 146.5)

God sees and attends our heart according to his view of our genuine need. He pours grace so that His love, healing, and strength inspire us look to Him, listen to Him, and loosen our grip on the object of our hope—that He becomes our HOPE, our TRUST.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17.7–8)

. . . Whether my new little friend’s fish gets better or not (let’s pray it does), he engaged with God and God heard him. Their relationship grew because this is what God does. He gives growth–to our knowledge and understanding, our faith, our relationship, as we engage with Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)

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Also, I want you to know…

Becoming A Peaceful Mom is only $9.00 on Amazon!   Here’s the link:  https://amzn.to/2Kxmi8Y.

The price returns to $15 on July 1.

I’ve had so much fun over the last year speaking and sharing the book, and it’s fun to hear the many ways you all have shared it!  (Thank you!)  Want to hear a few of them? … Birthdays … Welcoming moms to your church … Moms of teens … New moms … Moms having another baby… Moms of moms 🙂  Older moms mentoring younger moms … Small group studies!

Sooo… maybe grab a few copies and have FUN blessing some women around you.

When We Encourage Our Child

img_0042My children never said, “Mom, I need you to encourage me.” In fact, there were times when I did encourage a child, and he would say, “You’re just saying that because you’re my mom.” Well, I was saying it because I’m his mom. And I meant every word.

“I have sent him to you for this very purpose . . .  that he may encourage your hearts.” (Colossians 4.8) The apostle Paul sent messengers to believers in various towns to encourage them to press on in their walk with Jesus.

Encouragement during a challenging circumstance—or an ordinary day—builds a hope-filled perspective. Encouragement sticks. We remember encouragement, even when we struggle to receive it when it’s given.

When someone speaks or even writes encouragement to me, it’s as though fresh air rushes into my lungs. Some days I yearn for encouragement. Other days it’s not until I receive it that I realize how deeply I needed it. This is true for our children—Some days they yearn for encouragement, concerning the many things we are teaching them. When   such words meet their ears, God’s love touches a place in their needy heart. What a sweet privilege God gives us.

img_0043God intends for us to be a significant vessel of encouragement to our child—to speak words of life and hope. When we encourage a child, we help her. We give her courage and inspiration to consider, to try, to persevere.

God, show me / teach me how to encourage my child. God knows our strengths and weaknesses. When we humbly depend on him, he meets our weakness with his strength. His love is our source of encouragement. When we seek his love and lived loved by him, authentic words of encouragement will flow from our heart.

Your picture is so cool! .
I love the way you came inside the first time I called you!
You studied so hard. I’m proud of your effort.
I’m so glad you decided not to go, just because everyone was going.
I admire you for . . .

dsc01369The hardest time to encourage our child is when tension exists between us. Too often in times like these, our words reflect our heart’s struggle—hurt, fear, disappointment, discouragement, or anger. It’s especially in these seasons that words of encouragement are so important. A child knows when he disappoints us. He needs to know he is loved, just as we know that no matter what God loves us.

Dear God,
Thank you for the privilege to be your vessel of encouragement to my child. Help me speak words of life, hope, courage, and inspiration every day. Amen.