Guest post by Kelly Finstrom & craft by Elizabeth Patton
Galatians 5:16-17,22 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with one another, so that you are not to do whatever you want…. But the fruit of the spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.”
Teaching and Living Out the Fruit of the Spirit at Home
We all as moms experience these traits off and on, generally when our children are behaving at their best. But what happens when they are NOT behaving like we have trained them to do? What happens when WE as moms stop behaving as the Lord has so clearly trained us to? Our flesh all too often stands in the way of the Spirit’s work.
Romans 8:5,6 ” Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is LIFE.”
Walking by the Spirit
When controlled by the Holy Spirit we die to ourselves but are given life!
Bearing fruit is completely unattainable by our own strength or our children’s. It is only through the Spirit’s work inside of us that we will be able to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to our families. It starts with us.
Think about what fruits of the Spirit are or have been taught well in your home. Which fruits are you or your children most struggling with?
The Bible is clear. Walk by the Spirit. Hold fast to God’s Word.
How can we practically do this? Focus on one fruit at a time.
Is kindness a struggle for you or your child? Find specific verses relating to kindness and pray for that fruit to grow over the course of a year or for however long it takes to take root.
You may ask, “What if my child doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ yet?” Is it possible for these fruits to be developed in their lives? What a relief that God’s control far outweighs our own. He will ultimately work in your child’s heart, but we as parents can train responses to life. Even unbelievers can benefit from the principles in Scripture.
Fruit of the Spirit Craft
You might also try this fun craft to help your kids learn these or incorporate one for a real fruit at breakfast or snack.
Love could be a red apple,
Joy could be a “smiling” banana,
Peace a pineapple,
Gentleness grapes and so on- whatever your kids will eat!
Here is a craft that your family might do to keep these in the forefront of your minds:
Make a construction paper tree- mine is about 18 inches tall but it can be as big or small as you want. You can even just draw a tree on a dry erase board OR your chalkboard OR hang them on a string. Then fold a piece of colored paper in half and make a fruit shaped “card”. This can be lots of different fruit or just one type for the whole tree. We used apples! On the outside I wrote a Fruit of the Spirit and on the inside I found a Bible verse that talked more about that Fruit. I tried to pick shorter verses for my young kids.
The kids got into it by helping trace the apples and cutting them out. We also ended up with a banana and a watermelon.
We spend time regularly working on pointing out and memorizing these verses as a family which are in a really visible place in our home so they can easily be part of the conversations we have on a daily basis.
This is a topic that is hashed out regularly on blogs and sermons alike. I do not know that I have anything further to add to the conversation, but my hope is that someone reads this and knows that without a doubt – they are enough.
The Earthly Battle We All Face
Whether or not you are a believer in Christ, we are plagued by the human condition. An irony that while we are made in the image of God and created so intentionally, we also fail so deeply on a regular basis in all sorts of ways. Paul says,
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” – Romans 7:15.
Sometimes Christians say we are “living in the flesh” if we are struggling with an aspect of our lives that does not jive with what Christ has asked of us. That often leads to conviction and then sanctification. I want to be clear here that the guilt I am referring to with this post is not the conviction that comes with God’s molding of our souls, but I’m referring to the guilt that is brought upon by lies from the enemy that creep into our thoughts. Earthly guilt is a spiritual battle we all face.
I want to tell you now, no matter who you are or where you are at in life that you are enough for God. He loves you. God may ask hard things of us, but His love never fails. Think about that again. His. Love. Never. Fails.
Overcoming Crippling Guilt
Speaking as a mom, (because, well, that’s something I understand right now LOL ) we often get bogged down in the daily failures. The things we miss, the shoes we forgot to send for gym class, the mountain of laundry and chores that have not been finished, the discipline that didn’t happen because you were tired or the anger you had when you finally lost your temper… (that’s a whole other post). I know that the guilt that cripples me is the guilt that comes from me seeking my worth in things of this world, or other humans -even tiny ones. You can’t find satisfaction from your failures or the admiration you seek from your kids, other moms, even your husband or your parents.
These things we often feel guilty from do not hinge on eternity. I’m not dismissing the feelings, but I want other women out there to have an eternal perspective on their days. Fellow moms- you are the mom he gave to your kids, you are one he placed in their lives.
Colossians 3-2-5 says: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
What can you do each day to set your mind on the things above?
I’m not trying to add more guilt here, but I am wanting us all to look at our days with a little more eternal perspective.
What things are we consumed with that are not Godly and are causing us guilt from comparison?
Are we elevating the importance of something worldly and allowing it to overwhelm our day in a way that takes away from the good things?
Are we seeking contentment in God or what the someone thinks because your youngest’s hair didn’t get brushed that well?
Are we striving for the wrong kind of perfection? If so, that should not be our source of satisfaction or our achievement.
I want to leave you with 2 verses to combat any feelings of inadequacy in your day or in your life:
Hebrews 13:21 says,
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 says,
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Do not get bogged down in the guilt of comparison or from earthly standards. You are Enough. God has created You for the time and place you exist in this world. Cling to the Truth and to the knowledge of Christ and His word.
“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” -Ecclesiastes 11:5 ESV
Temptation to Minimize the Truth
I was trying to look up articles or blogs about the importance of being a pro-life Christian to post on social media today in lieu of writing out something that had already been said well. To my dismay, I found more that instead tried justify abortion and death. I went down a googling rabbit hole of reading and it has honestly left me deeply discouraged this afternoon.
As believers, we should be informed by Truth in our lives. I fear that many of us are more concerned with popularizing our faith by minimizing the Truth. I am plagued by this temptation regularly.
I was reminded of Romans 1 at Church this Sunday. That passage is convicting for everyone but it also reminds me that sometimes under the mantra of Christian love, or for fear of offending, we actually forget to tell people the Truth, which is the whole reason for Love in the first place.
How much are we shortchanging precious souls by being ashamed of the gospel or glazing over the Truth about who God is and how to serve him?
Jesus Calls Us to Abundant Life
Jesus ate with sinners and he loved the “unlovable” but he required of them a change. He did not have them continue to wallow in sin, he brought them up to Life so they could have Life abundantly.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
– Jesus, John 10:10
He commanded to us to sin no more and to live in the Truth because it sets you free. John is the book of Christ’s love but He asks us to follow him. To give up this world and live for Christ, not to walk in darkness.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
Jesus was and is attractive to sinners because He deeply and authentically loves us, we are all created in the image of God and made intentionally. However, he also provided a way out, a way to live differently. A way to no longer be a slave to the sin and evil of this world but to live with a purpose and with joy.
In “Christian-ese ” we call this process of living more and more like Christ “Sanctification.” What that really means is that God has the power to change hearts and lives so radically that we are no longer recognizable to the world as we were before. He calls us to be greater than we are, greater than how we exist separate from God.
Truly, the way we live, the way we vote, the way we speak and the way we serve should be informed by Truth and we need to consider what it looks like to not conform to the world or the culture and to not be ashamed of God’s word and what is commands.
In the spirit of speaking the Truth, abortion ends a human life which is inherently valuable. It also hurts the mother both inside and out. The argument that so-called pro-lifers don’t deeply and genuinely care about the well-being of both of those souls is deeply untrue.
Jesus loves them both.
We love them both.
We would to do well to remember the Truth about God’s love, for everyone, and stand for that which is so deeply important… human souls.
When I read this article, I was a new stay at home mom and I felt alone.
Alone and burdened; inadequate and overwhelmed. The struggle surrounding the self-created isolation was real. I don’t know if the author of the article is a Christian, but the longing for a daily fellowship or cohesive community rang true to my soul.
And then I remembered I had that available to me in spades.
At least I should…within the body of Christ; fellow believers and fellow moms in all stages and situations raising their children to love the Lord. Truly, this is the fellowship we crave isn’t it?!
Psalm 133:1-3 (ESV) says:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
How good it is when we dwell in unity, it is like precious oil on the head.
My heart swells when I read those verses and think about my relationships with other Christians, most especially my “mommy friends”. Sadly, our culture and society has pitted us “mommies” against one another for various reasons and “atrocities” we commit in our life choices. Stay at home moms vs. working moms, moms of one vs. moms of twelve, moms of _______ vs. the world.
We all struggle.
Whether we work full time, stay at home or anything else in between, I believe we all continue struggle with feeling alone in our choice, like a lone warrior on a quest for well-adjusted children. The pride that often rears its ugly head in motherhood sometimes fosters a defensive or competitive spirit even in the most subtle of ways, or even insecurity because we are guilty of not giving each other grace. It’s even harder to give ourselves grace. Then we feel discontentment.
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV) says: 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
All of our lives look as unique as the people Christ created us to be even before we were knit together in our own mother’s womb. As women of God, we should have an abundance of grace for other moms. We are called to love one another and many times, that looks like grace. It is so much easier to have grace for others when our heart is right with the Lord.
Sometimes it’s hard though…
sometimes we are angry about our own situation, or at the very least disillusioned as to what life or motherhood was supposed to look or feel like. Sometimes we feel displaced or overwhelmed, inadequate, or just plain exhausted. Sometimes it seems easier to run away. During these is when we need to remember Galatians 6:2 (ESV):
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Everyone struggles with contentment.
I am convinced that every mother, no matter what her situation, struggles with contentment in her “version” of motherhood. For me, I struggled with it the most after I had my first child. I found myself in a situation where I wanted to stay home but couldn’t (which hurt), but at the same time I struggled with loving my career and knowing that God had called me to do certain things outside the home. Then after my twins, I struggled with a calling to stay home with my kids in this season. I have been completely double minded, living on opposite spectrums of “my heart’s desire” searching for how to follow Christ’s will for my life. It seemed endless. Truly, the double mindedness of our own human hearts is at the center of the “mommy wars”.
You know what finally helped me find contentment and grace?
That community I mentioned. The body of Christ. Sisters in faith who listened, who mentored and who pointed me to God’s Word. A community of believers who challenged me in my double minded thinking, but also challenged me to understand that God’s will in an individual’s life is ultimately between that person and their Father.
I want to encourage women who feel isolated or discontent, or struggle with grace, to find a fellow believer in Christ as a prayer partner to hold you accountable for spending time in the Word and seeking Christ. I encourage you to be intentional in finding a mentor, an older sister in Christ who lives out Titus 2 and will teach you. These women can dwell with you in unity, they can bear your burdens and give you grace all while pointing you toward Christ and being a godly mom.
The important things to do.
That’s the most important thing: that we are purposing to grow in our relationship with Christ and disciple our children. Christian women in every stage of life and in every situation are striving toward that same chief end.
I pray that you find community, even here, and for you to know that you are not alone and that other women know exactly how you feel. Have grace on other moms, don’t let your pride, discontentment or defensiveness in your own life cause you to break fellowship with sisters in Christ or keep you from having a blessed friendship.
Finally, go have that glass of wine with a fellow sister or two. Or tea, or coffee. Or chocolate. Just build a deep community of faith in Christ, have grace for one another and be content in your season of life.
Romans 8:28 (ESV): And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.
Have you ever struggled with being discontent with your life ? What helped you overcome that feeling?
A mentor I deeply respect once told me, “Busyness is not a spiritual gift.”
This sage piece of wisdom has resurfaced in my mind more frequently as my family grows. To some degree, life is just busy! It is busy in all sorts of ways, and honestly, we are busy in some way or another in every season of our lives.
How many times have you answered, “Oh, we’ve just been busy!” when someone has asked how you’ve been doing lately? Is that what we should accept as the norm for our families?
As we face a spring and summer full of extra busyness with graduations, trips, weddings, family events, block parties, and holidays, I want to encourage you to consider a couple tips.
Tips to Un-crazy a Busy Summer
1. Don’t let a busy summer and routine change keep you from reading your Bible and spending time with God. As we see with Martha in Luke 10, Martha was anxious and troubled with all her preparations but Jesus wanted her to sit and listen to the “good portion” like her sister Mary. Guys, if I’m like anyone in the Bible, it’s Martha. Don’t be like Martha and me, spend extra time with the Lord.
2. If you have kids, try not to over-extend your kiddos for the sake of attending something. Sometimes, certain family gatherings scheduled smack in the middle of nap time just aren’t going to work. That’s OK.
3. Be intentional about days of rest. My family recently went through a four-day event binge which ended on a Sunday evening. My husband and I realized we never got a day of rest together as a family. There’s a reason God built that in…and even Jesus encouraged his disciples to rest in Mark 6:31. Anyway, that’s not a schedule we plan to replicate any time in the near future.
4. If you’ve committed to “bringing something” find three easy crowd-pleaser recipes for rotation. Easy and delicious is the key. One of my favorites is below. It’s fresh, healthy, and so easy.
In the end, there are some things we need to do and some things we don’t. Setting boundaries for yourself and your family through your decisions on calendar commitments can make all the difference.