Motherhood as a Ministry

matthew 16

 

I am reading a rich book alongside Scripture. It is geared towards home education, but mostly what I’m drinking deep from this book is the hard truth regarding discipleship of my children. I will be doing a series of blog posts to share with you what I’ve gained from this book and how it has nestled into my heart concerning my role in biblical parenting.

These are my personal thoughts from reading “Educating The WholeHearted Child” by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.”  John 12: 24-26

This verse appoints to us the necessity it is to account for the cost of ministry, given that we have acknowledged our role in ministering to our children. Although they’re discussing home education, I couldn’t help but dwell on the great ministry I have to my children. We have chosen for me to be a stay at home parent since my oldest son (5 year old now March 2016) was 6 months old. After the first month, my husband noticed a gigantic shift in my countenance. He asked if I was doing alright. I told him I was going to pray for definition, but that I didn’t FEEL alright. We were able to talk through my newest disposition and nailed down than my downtrodden appearance was negligence. Of myself. I quickly learned to discern when I needed time to refresh and recharge, but also learned that wasn’t going to be a consistent reality. I learned to find those opportunities even in the presence of my children because my calling was to model Christ to them and He wasn’t about self. In a culture that is screaming at us “you deserve _____” or “be true to yourself”, parenting in a biblical effort means we understand Jeremiah 17:9 “the heart is deceitful above all things”. We can lean into our heart or feelings when discipling and disciplining children. Those two will lie to us and steal the future healthiness and wellness of our children.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will rewards each person according to what he has done.”  Matthew 16:24-27

There is a cost to parenting with Christ in mind and goal. We make decisions and sacrifices with great prayer and focus in order to lead our children to the mind of Christ.

In our decisions, consistency and commitment are among the most important.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation wile the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14: 28-33

It’s a desperate moment when our children’s hearts are bent against Christ because they are caught in a battle of the spirit and flesh. That desperate moment when we waiver whether we are going to swiftly address their heart issue or if we’re going to let is slide because it’s the hard work. The hard work of being committed to biblical discipline and discipleship is what will produce the children we (as parents of young children) see in the teens and their parents relationships that we hunger after for our families in a few years. We watch our mentors and friends with high school and college children who have healthy relationships with positive life choices and love Christ and desire that for our families. It takes the hard work of ministering to our children, making sacrifices, and being committed.

 

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finding my stride::my momma “aha” moment

i’ve been told so many wise statements since becoming a mother. perhaps my favorite “remember, they’re sinners in need of discipleship & training”. i know it’s hard to think of our precious littles as sinners, but it’s absolutely true, isn’t it? aren’t we sinners? so it’s perfectly logical to realize our small children, who have yet to understand the saving grace of Jesus, are sinners. they will always be with sin, but the great logic needing to seep into our soul of parenting, is that while we pray and pursue salvation on their behalf, they don’t have it right now. it is our accountability and stewardship of their hearts to teach and train them repentance and relationship.

so i’ve been told this. my heart knows this. my brain processes this on a daily basis while i’m home with them. but there are breaks in my understanding of this that crash into the reality of frustration, disappointment, and anger. frustration when i feel so spent with their disobedience that i am ready to punt for the day and let all chaos ensue in order to have a break. the disappointment i feel when we’re in a public place and they lose all semblance of the endless hours we’ve worked on obedience and manners. the anger i feel when they are rude and disrespectful with fits of rage, tantrums, and screaming at me.

as i reflect on the day, i see one word that is a common thread through my description. feel. that is 100% the descriptive word i used. how am i any more mature, grace-bound, or live giving that my 2 and 4 year old if my operation of parenting is fueled by my feelings?

it’s all so messy. my house. my head. my heart. it thrashes, swirls, and explodes like a tornado. one evening last week, my husband (with great provision of the Lord) found the eye of the tornado with me on our bed. somehow everything seemed tragically calm (enough) for us to lay down on our bed and talk. he was laying the opposite direction and our eyes remained in engaged for an amount of time that was cumulatively much longer than the moments we steal here or there while passing and even while trying to parent when we’re at home together as a family.

back to the eye. he said “it’s not personal, you know”. to which i responded exactly like my 4 year old or a teen “i know!” i really did know this. and i really am confident that i believe it and do not act out of feeling personally assaulted by my children. my 4 year old tells me pretty frequently “bad momma!” or “yucky momma!” or “mean momma!” and has fits of screaming at me when he’s in disagreement, with, well, anything. he’s 4. my husband has chimed in on that very powerfully and i usually receive a heart felt apology within minutes and a bonus explanation of what a bad momma really is (because in the mind of 4 year old we need a definition of the opposite if we’re going to be operating out of definitions.) my husband mostly agreed that i don’t take it personally.

most of my distress is born out of my great desire for them to “just get it”. the number of broken spoons, migraines, and missed fun is too high to count and it breaks my heart for them sometimes. when my husband comes home and takes over (which is another shift for him…i’m not starting an argument about child rearing being a job, but let’s face reality–he’s been at work all day earning a living and now the work of parenting and husbanding is just as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually filled with work). so watching him discipline and address them give me a huge release. i then watch these little boys fear their discipline. i watch them repeat the offenses over and over. it breaks my heart. just get it. please!

and then. they get it. magic number ___ spanking, conversation, consequence unleashes the lesson and understanding. don’t worry, offense number ___ is lurking so we move onto something else just as rigorous. but they got it with the last one! hope to continue and remain CONSISTENT.

remember that eye of the tornado we found? my husband spoke life-giving, mother affirming, inspiring truth to me. he listened. he heard. he doted. and finally, i looked up and said “they don’t know any better”. AHA. i know, that is not profound. but it let me off the hook. it let my little boys off the hook.

it let me off the hook of the frustration, disappointment, and anger. in the grand scheme of the consistency with which we parent, they DO know better. but with every small battle we endure through the day, they are…..here it is……the eye of the tornado where my husband spoke directly to my soul……..they are testing. i know, i’ve been been told that one a million times before. i cannot explain to you whey i immediately FELT relieved.

they don’t know any better (for each and every offense). they’re testing. and do you know who they’re testing the MOST? me. the stay at home mom they occasionally tune out so that all they hear is “wha wha wha”

to top off my aha moment. we were eating dinner with the boys one night and i gave my 4 year old a few directives that he unashamedly rejected, denied, and did the opposite. my husband was in and out because we were at his office. i redirected the 4 year old with fewer directives and a promise of discipline if he didn’t obey. he handled it well and moved on. all of a sudden my husband walks in and my child says “momma, just quit going on and on and on”. my husband snapped into gear quickly and handled that disrespectful address as well as his attitude and intonation.

as we were sitting on our bed in the eye of the tornado, i told my husband about an understanding i gained while reading SEVERAL books about raising boys. it was never directly stated, but from all of our incredible opportunities to counsel, and even from my own husband, i understand very vividly and clearly that men are hard wired to loathe nagging. i mean scripture is VERY specific about what it’s like to live with a nagging women. why would i be surprised that my little boys don’t appreciate it either? (for the record, i was not nagging in the moment he decided to be dramatic!) but my husband grinned from ear to ear. he said “that’s why you are such a wonderful wife and mother,” he went on “that you can know your little boys will tune you out and test you harder with the approach and nagging says you care more about their hearts in the long run than you do immediate satisfaction for yourself”. i really do. yes, we can be heard saying “you obey momma/dadda!” but there is great relationship backing up that command. they can both tell you about how much we want them to be good men, (and they will say like dadda…which i only dream they are as incredible as my husband) we want them to be honest men, and we want them to fear the Lord with great reverence and respect. they’re learning to obey us, to believe us when we set up a consequence, and to trust us when lay out an expectation means they are gaining tangible understandings of what it is to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds.

i’m finding my stride in understanding discipleship and discipline in time with my children learning obedience. it’s a long haul. i’m thankful for a husband who leads me through conversation, understanding, and an effort to help me take practical steps to continue loving him and our children in a biblical, God-honoring fashion. there’s no formula. what works for our family won’t work for others. no one can tell me how or what to do with my children because God entrusted them to me. i take suggestions, prayers, and advice on a regular basis, but it’s me who they were entrusted to for shepherding.

what has been a recent “aha” moment for you? a moment where a truth you have known for a while just sunk in so deep it became part of you?