Good Job, Mama

Pregnant Mama with little boy

I watched my kids weave through the pumpkins, enjoying the sun on my face and the brisk autumn air. From the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a mama, belly ready to burst, buying pumpkins with her little one. He was near 3 years old and a cute little button of energy. I observed as she maneuvered around pumpkins with her pumpkin-sized belly, hand holding her sweet, lively boy.

He asked for something, she told him no, and two seconds later he was on the ground flailing in the dirt, letting her know *exactly* what he thought.

I saw the exasperated look in her face, the desperation, the exhaustion, the overwhelmed feelings sweep over her. 

And, quick as that, the Lord whispered to me, “Joy, go over there and put your hand on her shoulder. Whisper to her, tell her she is a great mom, encourage her heart right now.

My immediate response came just a fast, “Lord, she and everyone else here will think I’m nuts! This is America! You don’t just walk over to someone stranger and put your hand on their shoulder!”

He urged me gently again, “She needs your encouragement right now. Go ahead and put your hand on her shoulder and tell her she’s a great mom.

So I did. I swallowed my embarrassment and my pride and walked over. Face hot and palms sweaty, I put my hand on the dear mama’s shoulder. I quietly whispered, “You are doing such a great job. Hang in there, mama. We have all been there. You are doing a great job.”

She looked up at me, startled, and then grateful. She offered a tear-filled, “Thank you“, and we shared some tears and a smile and the knowing bond of motherhood.

No matter our differences, we all share those desperate mama moments when we need a hand on our shoulder telling us everything will be okay, don’t we?!

Who do you know that could use a hand on their shoulder, an encouraging word spoken, a smile? Are you like me, you don’t want to appear foolish, so you hold back? Here is my challenge…. just do it!!

Are you like the mama at the pumpkin patch? Do you need encouragement today?

Leave a comment and let us put our hand on your shoulder, pray for you, and bless you.

Now, let me whisper to you, “YOU are doing such a great job. Hang in there, mama. We have all been there. YOU are doing a great job. Good job, Mama.

Blessings,

Joy GraceFullMama

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Google Hangout, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4,6:00 PACIFIC,  7:00 PM MOUNTAIN, 8:00 CENTRAL, 9:00 EASTERN.–for all mamas who want to be encouraged! sign up HERE

Is Your Lens Properly Focused? Mine Wasn’t.

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It hit me hard in the middle of the first session of two-day parenting seminar at church.

To some degree, it had nothing to do with child rearing.  But it had everything to do with me and how I think about myself as a parent, as a mom.

Our pastor was pointing us to the Scriptures and encouraging us to minister to our children, reminding us of our call to disciple them through instruction, discipline, and relationship.  I think being reminded of all of the good we can do in our children’s lives might be what caused the Spirit to prick my heart at that moment with this thought:

I process my life through the lens of failure.  I have trouble seeing the good and focus only on what I’m not doing or can’t do.

Like a camera with an improperly focused lens, my perspective was blurring what should have been in crisp focus and drawing my eye to what belonged in the fuzzy background.

As I wrote down this observation about myself at the bottom of my notes, a weight was lifted.  It was as if the Lord said to me, “You do not have to look at your life this way.”  And, friend, I say to you: You don’t have to either!

Here are a few reasons why:

The Gospel Defines You:  When you believed in your heart and confessed with your lips that Jesus is Lord, you received a new identity.  You belong (every bit of you!) to God the Father.  You are His child.  The Bible tells us that our sins are forgiven.  Sure, you probably have in immense number of weaknesses and a hearty list of ways you blew it in only the last 24 hours, but in Christ you are a new creation!  We confess our sins, we remind ourselves we belong to the Lord, we receive His forgiveness, and we move forward joyfully in faith.  Phew!

You are Gifted:  The Spirit lives in you and has gifted you in a unique way to contribute to the body of Christ, including the little part of it that lives in your home.  Don’t be shy about finding out what that is and using it liberally in your church and under your own roof.  I repeat, the Spirit lives in you;  honor Him by processing life through and with Him, rather than focusing always and only on what you can’t or don’t do.

You are “Just Right”:  You have a unique life during which you have had experiences and training that make you who you are as a person and a mom.  I think that’s pretty stinkin’ cool!  You may be a crafter extraordinaire.  If you are, craft it up with your kids.  Share with them what makes your heart sing.  Or, you may be useless in all things domestic but love the great outdoors.  So, stop feeling bad that you’re not doing life with your kids someone else’s way, and do it your way.  THAT’s the way the Lord would have you do it.  After all, He did give your kids to you!  And I have strong feeling that there are some wonderful things happening in your home simply because of who you are as mama to your little ones.  (Don’t believe me?  Ask an outsider for their perspective!)

Moving from feeling like a failure to mothering in freedom requires refocusing the lens through which we see ourselves, making sure it lines up with what the Bible says about who God is and who we are.  These words from an article at howstuffworks.com say it well:  Camera focus depends on light passing through the camera lens at the proper angle to produce a clear image.*  Let’s kick the dark lens of failure to the curb, open our hearts, and let The Light shine in so we have a clear and right perspective!

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

Photo Credit

*http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/camera1.htm

These Few Sheep

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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.

How to Speak the Vision of God’s Best Into the Lives of our Children

Gwynedd Wales Conway Castle

Gwynedd Wales Conway Castle

 

Do you ever have days, as a mom, that you feel like you’re surrounded inside high castle walls with no route of escape? And harder still, maybe instead of the “enemy” being locked on the outside of those thick walls, they are trapped in there with you?

Now we all know in our hearts that our kids are the furthest thing from our enemies, BUT there are days when our heads pound with what we are confronted with…when all we seem to face is opposition and battle! And we can feel imprisoned – totally unsure of how to deal with the attitudes and behaviors that are literally staring us in the face.

Sixteen years of mothering – five kids later – I’d have to say I’ve juggled more than a little defiance and insubordination within my castle walls, and there is something I have come to realize…God calls us, as moms, to step up on the castle walls and look beyond what we see right in front of us.

In fact, I believe He desires to fill us with vision for what lies ahead in their futures and not just observe what is right before us with our little warriors.

Let me explain: when I feel surrounded by the discouragement of conduct that flies in the face of what I desire to see pouring out of my children, I have learned to call upon a principle that I find in God’s Word. It says in Romans 4:17 that, “He calls things that ARE NOT as though THEY WERE.”  Think about that in relation to our own castles…

If we were to call out what we know God desires for our children, instead of just criticizing what we are faced with, it changes our whole approach!

Maybe you already do this on a regular basis, or maybe you tried it for a few weeks and didn’t see change – I will say it is a job, this role of mothering. And the results we want to be instantly rewarded with may be a few years down the road, BUT the years inside my castle walls have given me vision to see beyond the fights and I want to encourage you to NOT GIVE UP.

Our little castle dwellers will test every button that God has built into us, and some days we will be sure the castle walls are going to cave in for all the tremors they are enduring. Our children do need to be lovingly disciplined and issues addressed, but don’t stop there! Take hope and keep calling things (miserable attitudes, frightening behaviors, angry words) that are not as though they were (loving attitudes, patient behaviors, kind words)!  When we do this we can hold hands with God to help draw out all the good that He has in their futures.

 Will you share the beauty you see in your children with us below in the comments? Let’s celebrate together the work we know God is doing in their lives.

***Thank you for making this launch week so much fun! The winners of this week’s many Rafflecopter Giveaways will be announced on the blog next week! Stay tuned!

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!

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“The wisdom and guidance in this read is yet another of Sally’s wonderful admonitions on how to raise a family with grace and love. There are many practical applications, suggestions, hints and admonitions to guide the mother daily in the things that truly matter. You will be encouraged to drop formulas behind and to embrace what God has for you and your family and will inspire you to have a vision for the many things God has prepared for you.”

Amazon Review

You can get the book here.

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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