I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
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?
How many of us grew up with the kitchen etiquette: No dirty butter knives in the jam jar! Use a spoon!
Maybe you are laughing at the absurdity of trying to convince four kids and a husband to follow such etiquette, as you survey a breakfast table laden with glaciers of peanut butter, jelly and Cheerios, lakes of milk, juice, and coffee, and in the distance, slopes of dishes the size of Kilimanjaro threatening eruption… You are grateful to not have one more spoon to wash!
It’s not that it’s a bad rule. The jelly thinks it’s a great rule. But how many of these rules do we hold so tightly to, to the extent of interfering with our joy?
The enemy, often successfully, uses too many things to rob our joy.
It’s time we make a couple of new pacts for Grace’s sake:
NOTHING Blocks Out the Joy of the Lord.
“Neither death nor life, angels nor demons, fears for today nor worries about tomorrow…can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38, NLT) Since nothing can separate us from God’s love, that in itself should be enough to keep us filled up with His joy!
GRACE Flows Freely Through Me.
“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has freely poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” (Ephesians 1:6) Extending that grace we’ve accepted from God to those around us will in turn add another drop of joy in our heart.
The list of replaceable things:
Those fancy dishes from that one fancy store that you secretly use when no one else is home because naturally, no one else can be trusted.
That cute vase knocked over by a house guest (wasn’t it a garage sale find anyway?)
The DIY project it took 6 months to complete between sick kids, school projects, birthday cakes, broken things requiring immediate attention and priority repair…
The list of forgivable things:
An excited voice waking the baby
Trash day forgotten, again
Oh, those dishes–is there no one who will automatically rescue the mound without solicitation?!
Toast crumbs in the butter dish
Gloppy remnants of butter in the jar of jam
We can choose to focus on “all the things” that irritate us and allow dissension or we can swing our thoughts in the direction of the graceful, compassionate peacemaker and emanate His character.
— BEFORE WE CAN SWING, WE NEED TO CLEAN! —
How can we change the focus of our thoughts?
Stress, worries, annoyances: these all gluttonously consume much-needed valuable space in our precious heart, emotion & memory vaults. Think about how a vault locks it’s valuables tightly inside, so that without a key, code, or thief, there’s no way in or out. Praise God, there’s a key (to the Kingdom, Christ Jesus), and a code (the Word of God), to protect us and to help us stand strong against Satan the thief! Satan wants nothing more than to break into your heart vault, steal your precious joy, deceive you into forgetting you have God’s Grace, and fill your mind with frustration, bitterness, loneliness, and misery. We have to clean out our vaults and seal them with the things of God.
The list of things that can be removed:
Fretting over mud on the floor
Nagging to lower the toilet seat
Harsh disciplining for an accidental spill
All the other things going through your mind right now
What if we choose to do a clean sweep of the unessential annoyances & worries from within our precious selves, and decide to be un-offend-able (unable to be offended).
Think of the space in our hearts and brains that would be suddenly empty, free, and clear! Like a freshly cleaned out pantry, ready to be restocked. I don’t know about you, but I could use all the extra shelf space I can get–in the pantry and the brain!
Once we get all that sticky stress, anxiety, nagging, fretting, micro-managing, control-freaking, OCD-ing, perfecting and pet-peeving thrown out, we’ve got SO MUCH EMPTY space to fill!
I guarantee by switching our focus to things of real & lasting importance, it will:
1) put us in a better mood–which leads to people who actually want to be around us! (So they weren’t avoiding me because I forgot to wear deodorant?!)
2) gives us energy–no workout session or green grass drink necessary this time (though I am an advocate of all things healthy!) and
3) makes room in our “pantry-vault” to think about lots of other cool stuff.
The list of things to keep safe:
So, think instead on these things. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is …
Truth – God IS good, His mercies are everlasting (Psalm 100:5, KJV)
Honor – God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7); He looks past the person to the position (child of God).
Right – God will always do what is right. Not opinion vs opinion, His justice triumphs over that which is morally wrong (Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 32:4)
Lovely – How lovely is your dwelling place! (Psalm 84); How lovely are the works of His hands – flowers, butterflies, a hug between siblings, a smile.
Commendable – All that Jesus went through for our sake; It is commendable if someone endures the pain of unjust suffering because they are mindful of God (1 Peter 2:19)
Virtuous – He gives wisdom to all who ask; Be strong and courageous; Display modesty and self-control; She who has clean hands and a pure heart will stand in the Lord’s Holy Place (Psalm 24:3)
Praiseworthy – Why am I discouraged? I will put my hope in God…Yet I will praise Him (Psalm 43:5); Though the house is a wreck…yet I will praise Him. Though there’s yet another toddler mess to clean up, I will praise God for this creative child, and praise the creation made with those tiny hands!
The list of things that summarize:
Clean out all the things from within you that are robbing joy and keeping you from receiving and extending grace. Swing your thoughts to the things of real and lasting importance. May God’s grace and the joy of the Lord fill you. May you share the never-ending bounty of grace with all the people in your life.
I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
In a Christian marriage there is a goal to put God first, but I’ll be honest–my husband and I didn’t really know what that meant when we got married. We knew we wanted to honor God in our life together and be part of a church family, but we really didn’t know the extent we’d be called to put God first.
At the beginning of our marriage we were consumed with personal needs. We’d read all kinds of marriage books talking about needs and love languages and respect, and while we tried hard to please each other, we got upset when we didn’t feel the same effort in response. Now, the lessons in those books are great–but we didn’t have the right mindset. We needed a mindset of grace if we were ever going to really put God first in our lives. Thankfully, over the last couple of years we’ve learned more about how to live a grace-filled marriage and it’s made such a wonderful impact on our life together.
Here is the new foundational truth for our marriage:
Our relationship with God is more important than our relationship with each other. This is how we truly put God first in our lives and in our family.
Now, you might not like the way that sounds but hear me out—
Supporting each other on your individual walks with God is the most important thing you can do for your marriage.
When your spiritual life becomes top priority you think differently. Your mission in life is no longer about your happiness on earth but your eternity with God–and this affects your marriage in a good way! When you are focusing on your eternal destination more than your current one you will be a better spouse. How do I know this? Well, focusing on my eternal destination means that I’m striving to be like Christ, and who can love my husband better than Christ? My best love for my husband will be fruit from my relationship with Christ.
“Every marriage goes through moments of anger and temporary failures. But you must determine your goal. What matters most: winning arguments or resembling Christ?” – Francis Chan (You and Me Forever)
I don’t know about you, but I want my life to resemble Christ. That’s way more important to me than making sure my needs and love languages are met. I’m not saying love languages and meeting needs are bad–they can be a very good thing when you are putting your desire to please Christ above your desire to please yourself. Then you will use those methods as God intended–as a way to serve your spouse.
Now, as wonderful as all that sounds we still have a little problem.
Are you still with me? My husband and I have a very tricky enemy working against us and he can use those needs and love languages as a stumbling block. Sometimes our spouses don’t meet our needs and don’t speak our love language and then what?? How will we respond?
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The devil is looking to devour me. The devil is looking to devour my husband.
When a spouse messes up (no matter how insignificantly), you can bet your bottom dollar that Satan is on the hunt for victory. He’s watching how we will respond. This is why we need to lavish our marriages with grace.
Why? For us it’s simple.
Because the devil will NOT gain victory in our household.
No, he will not get an ounce.
Christ gets all the power, all the glory, and all the victories in our house.
So what do we do when the devil is prowling at our door? How do we let Christ get the glory in our home? Well first, we stay on our guard and know who our enemy is! It’s really easy for me to feel brokenhearted when things aren’t going my way. In return, I can act pretty ungodly, treating my poor husband like he is my enemy. I know that my husband has triggers too, times when the devil is crawling at his feet. There are going to be misunderstandings and times when we mess up and end up hurting each other.
However, Satan is our enemy in these times. It’s not my husband. It’s not me. Knowing that Satan is the enemy makes it easier to extend grace to each other because we know that we are each on the pursuit of holiness. We want to encourage each other on this process, not get in the way. We want Christ to come first in our marriage. This means that we want to be like Christ and we want to show Christ’s love to be fruitful in our marriage. We want God to take the victory, and he does! God takes the victory every time we set our personal needs aside and extend loving grace in His name!
Live a grace-filled marriage.
When you and your spouse find yourself at odds, offer grace. Once you extend grace, you can then demand the enemy leave your home. If you’ve seen the movie War Room, then you remember that powerful scene where Elizabeth Jordan literally yells at Satan to get out of her house–she even yells him out of her front lawn! There is something to be said for verbally voicing Satan to leave. It shows we really mean it and we want him to hear it! Also, then you should pray.
We can’t fight the enemy on our own. We need God’s help. So get down on your knees -together or alone. Beg God to fight the enemy out of your life and your household.
Let God do all the fighting in your marriage.
“God will fight for you; you need only to be still.”- Exodus 14:14
Let God claim the victory in your grace-filled marriage.
Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
My great-grandmother was apparently quite a personality–warm, vivacious, talkative, and outgoing. Her name was Grace. And while I didn’t know her, her presence and influence lingers, even to my generation. I was listening to my great-aunt the other day say that Grace gave her some advice a long time ago that’s still true today: to do one good thing for someone else every day.
And what a beautiful goal that is! I fear that too often my troubles seem so overwhelming and distressing because that is where I am setting my eyes upon. When I step back and serve someone else, it often leaves me more grateful, more appreciative, and more aware of how abundantly blessed I am.
It might seem exhausting. Do something for someone else? I already can’t keep up with what I am responsible for! Surely, God can’t expect that of me.
And yet, doesn’t he?
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
I want my son to have the heart of a servant when he grows up. I want him to have a heart that sighs with compassion for those in need. And in order for that to happen, he needs to see a life of servanthood in me first.
An Act of Service, Whether Large or Small
So when I am tired, I still can make time to help a friend. When I feel grumpy, I still need to find a smile. When I just want to lie on the couch, I can spare just a few moments.
Because sometimes we equate service with building houses in the Amazon jungle. We think service must be organized and with people and fundraisers and all-out efforts. And while that can be service, it’s not all that service can be.
Service can also be a text to ask how your sick friend is. Service can be a card sent to a shut-in, with a picture your child drew for her. Service can be making a double batch of dinner and taking the other half to a widow or a young mom. Service can be asking a lonely person over for a cup of morning coffee. Service can be listening to that elderly lady repeat her stories from her youth because her mind is slipping and that is the only thing she can hold on to now. Service can be dropping off a friend’s favorite drink at the office where she works. Service can be watching another mom’s kids because you see she needs that break.
You see, service doesn’t have to be flashy or take up lots of time. Often, quiet, thoughtful ways produce the most meaningful service. In love that seeps throughout your life until suddenly one day, you realize that it’s not something you’re working on but now a habit, ingrained in your daily routine.
I’m not there yet…but I’d like to be. Until then, I look at the “Grace”s in my life and learn from their example of what servanthood really is.
“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?
But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?
How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”
The Barren Land of Grief
The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.
Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.
“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”
We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.
For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.
When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.
For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.
Finding Comfort in Jesus
In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.
“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”
Sir Thomas Browne
Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.
A New Perspective
The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.
“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”