Mothers: The Civilizers of Nations, the Cultivators of Cultures & The Winners

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Most of you who know me, know that I love international ministry and have been seeking to start Women’s small groups, Bible studies all over the world, and how much I love missions for having had the opportunity to be involved overseas as a young woman. Angela and I have partnered in some ideas of how to reach more women in more countries with some of these Biblical messages in their own countries. For one, when you buy a book here in the US, we will donate one book for free to our translator’s groups in their own countries, all over the world. I am so excited about the ministry vision that God has given Angela and me to train leaders of other countries to start women’s Bible studies and to lead in their own countries.

But we are hoping to have some special training times for women in other parts of the world. I would love to see the Lord open doors for me to do some intensive leader’s training in different countries. But Angela and I also have a more practical dream for next summer. Read about our vision HERE!

And now for a special Motherhood message! 

 

Carl Larrson

Mother’s: The Civilizers of Our Nation

civ·i·lize
1.    to create a high level of culture
2.    to teach somebody to behave in a more socially, morally and culturally acceptable way
Enlighten, cultivate, improve, advance, subdue in terms of a people or nation.

“The home is the fountain of civilization. The value and character and appetites of a people are greatly determined by the reading, training and cultivating of moral and spiritual appetites in the home.

Mothers, you are the divinely-appointed teachers and guides of your children; and any attempt to free yourselves of this duty is in direct opposition to the will of God. If you neglect them, the consequences are swift and sure. …, Spend most of your time with your children. Sleep near them, attend and dress and wash them; let them eat with their mother and father; be their companion and friend in all things and at all times.”

From Golden Thoughts on Mother, Home, and Heaven: From Poetic and Prose Literature
of All Ages and All Lands
. Copyright 1878-1880

The above quotations were gleaned from a wonderful book that a friend gave to me at our Dallas conference. The words written over a hundred years ago are still very powerful today. This, in a culture where the imagination of the importance of mothers to the overall well-being of soul of the next generation has been lost. How affirming it is to see that truth of past generations still applies to us today.

Often, I find that in the absence of a clear enough vision for their children and homes, mothers replace conviction and vision with lots of activities and distractions for their children. This hyper-activity and rushing around to an endless list of expensive lessons and experiences and the buying of the newest expensive curriculum and technological options make moms feel like they are accomplishing something. However, when the home-life of children is rich with excellent, classic literature, passionate Biblical devotions, rousing dinner-table discussions around sumptuous, tasty meals, lots of love and affection given and household chores attended to—and a child will become committed to all that is good and excellent and develop a moral and compassionate soul for all the divinely important values.

From the beginning of time, God created the home to be a place sufficient to nurture genius, excellence, graciousness and grand civility. But the key factor is nothing that can be purchased or owned. The accomplishment of this grand life is found only in the soul of a mother, through the power of the Holy Spirit, personally mentoring her children.

It is a personal relationship with a real person whose soul is alive in which the deepest imprints of life are given. The secrets and deep emotions shared during the goodnight hours in which a the soul of a child is tender and open; the comfort of warm, home-made food shared in the early evening as ideas are shared and discussed and prayers and devotions given; the laughter, stories, advice given in the midst of washing dishes together or sharing of a meal; the heroic and riveting  stories read aloud and shared together that establish common patterns of morality, values and  dreams in the comfort of the blazing hearth, mugs of steaming hot chocolate and squishing against each other on a den couch are those heavenly things which are food to the soul and nourishment to the mind and conscience of a child fully awake to all that is important in life.

There is no computer, television, software or text book that can pass on such passion, love and motivation.

It is indeed the personal touch of a mother’s heart that creates grand civility, deep affection, care and commitment to the foundations of a family. When the invisible strings of a mother’s heart are tied to the heart of her children through loving sacrifice and nurture, the stability and foundations of a nation become secure and stable. A mother, living well in her God-ordained role, is of great beauty and inestimable value to the future history of any generation. Her impact is irreplaceable and necessary to the spiritual formation of children who will be the future adults of the next generation. Fun, comfort, humor, graciousness, spiritual passion, compassion for the lost, hospitality, chores, meals, training, life-giving words, hours and hours of listening and playing and praying and reading—all are parts of the mosaic which go into the process of soul development.

Moms, God is calling us to a work that is quite important–He will give us the strength and supply us with wisdom one day at a time. He will listen to our prayers. But most of all, we have to be willing to bend over backwards to meet needs and to encourage and to figure out a new game plan, because we are His guard in a fallen, tempting world; we are His hands and words of comfort and wisdom; and we are His voice to tell our children that we love them and believe in them, even in the midst of their immaturity. May He give grace to each of you today! Happy Mother’s Day!

Thanks so all of my wonderful friends for helping our first week of launching our new book a great week. Love to you all! Have a lovely weekend with your loved ones!

Here are the winners:

The e-conference winners are:
Alia Regier
Bonita Penner
Trista Shah
And the audio book winner is:
Annette Blanch
The Winners of our new book, You Are Loved
Giveaway
Entry #50423Debora J.
Entry #26220Shelley B.
Entry #22995Ashelyn D.
Entry #66748Lavinia M.
Entry #22751Christina V.
Entry #28285Jannell N.
Entry #23227Cheryl O.
Entry #1001Natalie W.
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Entry #76527Trisha
Entry #59203Marietta T.
Entry #45737Betsy H.
Entry #58610Brooke M.
Entry #11319Mary S.
Entry #44822Andrea M.
Entry #74613brittany g.
Entry #3029Jennifer L.
Entry #39435Ashley R.
Entry #37905Sara D.
Entry #5452Heather D.
Entry #11376Kim V.
Entry #3681Jennie C.
Entry #36678Alyssa Z.
Entry #36681Sarah A.
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Entry #4806Heather ‘.
Entry #15418Holly K.
Entry #12874Holly W.
Entry #43987Terri B.
 

Christmas is Coming–I’m having fun gathering presents for all my peeps!

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As each year rolls around to summer, I begin my hunt for suitable presents for my friends and loved ones to tell show just a tiny gesture of how I appreciate and love them–and for something that fits their personality and preferences. Our family considers that a part of our Christmas tradition is letting our closest friends and family how thankful we are for them–this is our friend affirming time.

And so we make giving love and appreciation to those we love a gesture. I love small gifts the best because we focus on a stocking full of surprises for our sweet ones in our home.  My girls always get some sort of jewelry in their stockings.

Dayspring is one place I know I can find meaningful, Christ-centered ideas and just order from my home!

Jesus calling

This year, a friend gave me the book Jesus Calling and often I read it once a day to be encouraged by the heart of God’s heart and love. I found this journal of hers and am pondering getting it for Joy as the girls also ask for a journal each year.

lord bless this home

I have scripture and sayings and photos all over my house. Love messages on the walls that I think/hope go into the kids’ minds and hearts.

 

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Also, of course, I love to give gifts to my kids that speak to them of the messages I am telling them on a daily basis. And I found these on sale!

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This countdown calendar is adorable.  It can be used for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter to bring an element of fun and joy to the anticipation of these holidays.

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Every child loves to hear a parent’s voice reading a special story.  This recordable storybook enables a parent to record his/her voice which the child can then listen to over and over and over.

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Do you have any letters on your walls yet?  This is a popular and simple way to decorate a wall or mantle.

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This set of letters spells out “Redeemed,” a reminder we each need every day!

Do you need an inexpensive gift?  This mug has a heartfelt message and would be a lovely, yet thrifty gift.

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Just a few of the little treasures I am considering for my special peeps this year. I have enjoyed having a place to order that actually has some of the messages I love!

What special gifts and traditions do you turn to this time of year?  What do your grown children tell you were their most special holiday memories?

These Few Sheep

These Few Sheep

In the midst of raising little ones, a mother may find herself at odds with the future. Often, dreams and gifts are shelved in preference of little people with constant needs.

Conflict ensues between the privileged nature of motherhood and the long pause in what was a productive, somewhat predictable life.

How does a mother measure success?

Some say life is made up of defining moments. A typical Sunday revealed itself as one of those moments for me. While the speaker expounded on the life of David, I did not expect to be singled out by the Lord. No one around me suspected the arresting that took place that Sunday morning – of my mind, will and emotions – held captive by a thought which transformed into a desire to take the Lord at His word – at home.

Mothers of young children can feel overlooked in the church setting. From the pulpit we hear of mission trips, service opportunities, small groups, worship bands and all sorts of public endeavors. But with a van full of car seats and nap times looming – I was in no place to serve in public. I knew it – but needed affirmation from above.

The speaker described in vivid detail the life of David. Not David the king, but David the shepherd. As the sermon unfolded – time stood still for me. I felt all alone – in a good way – personalizing the story.

David’s brothers mocked him for having such a small job – tending to his ‘few sheep’. They were fighting the big battles, had the upfront positions and represented little brother to the world. David had no voice for public ears. His thoughts were relegated to the mound of sheep off the beaten path of real life and no one expected more of him.

But David sought the Lord in his isolation. He used the years of serving and protecting his ‘few sheep’ as an opportunity to know God. He did have a voice – and an audience of ONE. On the backside of a mountain David learned to pray – not in the, ‘I’m asking for things’ kind of praying but in the, ‘Lord, I want to know your more ‘ fashion. He turned his thoughts into songs (Psalms) which soothed the sheep and brought heaven to earth.

David fought off lions and bears – archenemies poised to steal, kill and destroy his flock. His sheep knew his voice and he knew their limitations.

While David was being faithful in the little – God was training his hands for war and capturing the shepherd’s heart for His own. Culture would eventually be shaped and history rearranged by the actions of this unassuming sheep herder.

I remember the Sunday service, like it was yesterday. I left church with my pile of notes – and mulled over the facts, chewing on the hard truths of God’s ways.

Little becomes much – Up is down – The backside of the mountain is in the presence of the King.

My eyes were opened to the possibilities. What if?

What if I embraced this role of mom/shepherd tending to my ‘few sheep’ with everything I had? What if I learned to know God during these busy, quiet years? What if  I was all right with being misrepresented without a voice?

Fast forward a decade, or two, and this shepherd/mom is in a whole, new place. The little lambs are strapping men and lovely ladies. Some days I long for the season when life was simple, kids were little and God was so near.

I’m  thankful for a church leader who ministered the word of God in a timely fashion – fitly spoken for my hungry heart in need of a defining moment.

Young mom – use these tender days to watch over your little ones. Learn the dynamics of spiritual warfare by protecting them and get to know your God while in the quiet place on the backside of the world.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

On Creating Sacred Space

anjou (1)

There are some places that make me feel fully awake to the wonder of this life.

As an adult I have lived in three different countries and the Pacific Islands. I’ve settled into eleven different homes in my thirteen years of marriage.  (Really. Eleven!) After all the moves, all the starting over and after being the “new girl” again and again, I’ve come to to long for places that are familiar, places that anchor me in time and space and that nurture a sense of safety and stability. I’ve come to long for home  in the deepest parts of my heart with an ache I can only just begin to describe with words.

When our family moved from Germany to the United States, my husband and I found ourselves back in our hometown, rather penniless and rather tired… and right in the middle of the dry season. The caramel yellow of the hills and the constant dust seemed to echo a fatigue that matched our own. We had lived in a 12th century hunting castle in Bavaria, steeped in the rich community of a missionary base, and I found myself often longing for the green of the hills that surrounded our small village there. I craved  the food  shared at community tables and the quiet of the country. Among the strip malls and billboards of the western United States, I found myself desiring the aesthetic of  old architecture: churches and buildings lovingly updated and restored through the centuries- looking forward, but not quite letting go of the past. My oldest was just two years old at the time and in my days of caring for her and entrenched in the tasks of setting up a new home that I wasn’t very fond of, I sensed a growing discontent with my surroundings, with relationships, and with our pauper circumstances. Life felt so bland and gray, a little hopeless.

My daughter and I had visited all the libraries, parks, pools and riverbanks I could remember from my own childhood and on a lark, I decided to do a bit of exploring.  I was on a quest, really, willing myself to find something that would stir excitement. With money set aside for a treat, we found ourselves at a small French bakery I’d enjoyed visiting in high school. Appropriately named The Anjou, for its location nestled in the heart of a beautiful pear orchard, the scene was idyllic!  The bakery had transformed an old barn into a haven, with a front porch lavished in flower pots and the sweet smell of fruit ripening in the orchard to engulf our senses.  I was captivated by the simple beauty as we savored butter croissants and patted the head of the resident old lab, Fritz.

At that very moment, something awakened in my heart. I became aware of the lime green patio furniture and the contrast it brought out in the grooves of the old slab floor. My baby girl’s dimpled hands seemed softer than ever as she held on to me, and her laughter was infectious as she played with the dog that was bigger than she was. The sun in our eyes lit up that space and I drank in every single drop. I felt at home, not in memory or association, but in sentimental feeling, in the connection that was knit between the beauty of this bakery and my own personality. This physical place had an unspoken ability to nourish my soul and fill it with beauty and light at a time when everything else felt as dry as the hills. Just being there felt right, and for the first time in weeks, I saw my life through a lens of beauty and hope, instead of dust.

Creating a home is a lot like this. We labour as women to create spaces where our family and friends can gather; we set tables and wash clothes, we arrange pictures on the walls and plant gardens, and often, we can become so overwhelmed with the tasks of this call and this work. Creating space for our families to dwell and a home that they long for though, is really about the knitting of hearts, the celebration of personalities expressed, and the truth of God’s presence in our midst.  The beauty of a colorful scarf draped over a chair, the arrangement of a bouquet, or the placement of a single candle at the dinner table can awaken those we love to really see with new eyes. Every day, we offer in our homes a chance for our children to literally glimpse heaven in the presence of small sparks of beauty.

Your home might feel mostly like dust right now. Your circumstances may be dry, your prospects gray and you may wonder how to even begin going about making a home where nurture abounds. I’ve been there. I know that dry place.

But today? Mama, you can take heart and rest because the wonder of it all is Our God does this. He takes dust and breathes life. Not a life that is hollow or gray, but a life that is full. His beauty gives this glimpse of sweet truth to our souls. Truth of God’s presence,  that he alone satisfies, and this brings hope beyond measure. Beauty somehow reaches in and pulls out that sense of longing, the desire for home that can tug at our core, and reminds us that we can know that we belong, truly, at home and at rest with the One who is Beautiful.

  Is there someone in your life who is living in a dry place that can be nourished by beauty and hospitality in your heart and home? How have you seen beauty transform your sense of what is true and Who God is?

***The 24 hours of the .99 on Amazon is now over, but as an almost full length book, I think you will enjoy it and be blessed at the normal price of $4.99! We were so happy that we were able to do a 24 hour deal for so many of you. Thanks for making the launch such a wonderful blessing to us, who work on the blog and books just for you! You were amazing!
vision

Hands to the Plow, Eyes Full of Wonder

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Today’s post is written by Mom Heart writer, Katy Rose. 

A very thoughtful friend sent me a small print of The Angelus she found in an antique store, which now sits framed on my night stand.

The original meaning behind this painting is debated, but when I lie down at night and rise in the morning I’m reminded of an exhortation I heard from a pastor a while ago. As we faithfully fulfill our everyday duties and are able to recognize God in the “mundane,” we mirror the vision that the pastor cast when he said,

“Hands to the plow, eyes full of wonder.”

When I see the peasant farmers bowing in prayer over their crops, I’m reminded to work at whatever the Lord places in my day with diligence and perseverance, no matter how trivial or insignificant it may seem. Hands to the plow.

And at the same time, I’m instructed to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord, praying always to know him more fully, to understand his character and feel his magnificent, life-changing love, to glimpse his glory in the way he uses the small and humble to accomplish his work.  I can trust Him. Eyes full of wonder.

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Elisabeth Elliot writes in Keep a Quiet Heart about the everyday “drudgery” of motherhood. She reminds us to cast our burdens upon the Lord, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  She shares about seeing this principle in practice during her visit to the Dohnavur Fellowship in India, the orphanage founded by Amy Carmichael.  She says, “Day after day, year in and year out, Indian women (most of them single) care for little children . . . They don’t go anywhere. They have none of our usual forms of amusement and diversion.  They work with extremely primitive equipment – there is no running water, for example, no stoves but wood-burning ones, no washing machines.  In one building I saw the text: 

‘There they dwelt with the King for His work.’ ”

And the same can be true for us. We have the choice to go about our daily work begrudgingly, or to instead work for Him. Grateful hearts fixed on Him: our hands to the plow, but our eyes looking towards Him, full of wonder.

(First image source)

Katy Rose, an artist at heart, is married to her high-school prom date and mama to two smiley and non-stop little boys. A life-long journaler, her blogging adventures began in 2005 while documenting life as a newlywed in Maui, continued as she settled down in New York City for several years, and then took a new turn with babies arriving and a relocation to Oklahoma for her husband’s legal education. While living in NYC, she was employed as a project manager by a foundation that worked with domestic violence victims, and spent some time outside of work serving pregnant women short on resources and support. She and her husband also work to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking. Katy is passionate about adoption, mercy, and her family, as well as cooking, chocolate, coffee, creating, all things European, and would never pass up a real-life, inspirational story.

Marriage and motherhood have been major tools for refinement. She’s currently clinging to God’s promise that his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in her weakness. You can find her writing at her blog: Embrace and Let Go

 

The Discipleship & Discipline Webinar

Over 1,000 moms joined us on the Discipleship & Discipline Webinar! If you weren’t able to attend the live course, now you can get it on-demand. If you would like to get access to the Webinar, simply click here. It was so much fun, and we are so excited to share this with you.

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