Filling Your Soul With Love and Grace Divine

Claude Monet, Woman in the Garden

 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

I have received thousands of responses to my blogs on child discipline lately. I see how many sweet ones there are who truly want to do the best and be the best for their children. But before I do one more post on child discipline, I just felt I wanted to tell you how very precious you are and how much your own personal life matters.

I awakened this morning with you on my heart. I know there must be many precious moms out there who are reading these articles and are feeling inadequate or guilty or condemned–or just worn out!  I have been praying for you all morning.

Motherhood is very precious to the Lord. As a matter of fact, the more I mothered, the more I came to understand Him, His love, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, His patience. Motherhood is not an easy journey. I kept feeling that I needed to have more children so I could do it right at least once!

And yet motherhood is a long journey, a hard and challenging journey, that will require much endurance with grace, much forgiveness, much patience and just a whole lot of energy expended.

You are truly important to God in the midst of it all. He sees you and cares for your dreams and desires. And so I wanted to write a little post just for you.

When I had my first baby, I had never even changed a diaper. I did not know how to hold a baby. I was unprepared for the task. I also did not know how selfish and self-absorbed I was. And I have to admit that over the years, there were many times when I did not feel loving or feel like a good mother or even feel like I wanted to *be* a mother. I was always committed to my children and always committed to loving them, because I knew God wanted me to. But I did not always like them and sometimes that made me feel guilty.

I just put one foot in front of the other because I thought that is what God wanted me to do.

So if you feel that you are not a “natural” mother, or you enjoy doing things outside your home, or you have other ambitions, please do not condemn yourself. I felt all of those feelings and had to learn how to balance the different pulls on my life. But God has loved me and led me through it all.

I know that there are so many of you precious ones with deep scars. Perhaps you came from an angry family, where you were criticized or rejected. Or maybe you were ignored and you still wish someone would notice you and love you deep inside in those places that only you can feel.

Many of you made some bad choices morally that have deeply injured your own heart. Or you have a passive and indifferent or mean and abusive husband.

You are not defined by any of these things–not by what people have said to you, not by your flaws (we all have them), and not by your past failures or present difficulties. God loves you so very much. God is with you. God is your champion.

We read that when He looked out on the multitudes, He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus sees our needs. He loves us. He cares for how each of you feel deep in your heart.

You are so very precious to God. He is on your side. He will be your warrior God in all the battles in your home. He will help you and defend you and pour out His unconditional love on you. He is the source of your strength and joy. Nothing can separate you from His love. Romans 8

There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

The only way we can truly make it in this life productively is to tend to the garden of our own souls. The only way you can be a loving mother or friend is to have your soul filled with the deep, unchanging, unconditional love of God.

I love the picture above. I picture my soul as a garden that must be tended and cultivated and watered. If my own soul is healthy, then all who draw from my soul, will receive true nurture and strength. However, I do not know of any great women who have not been very intentional about cultivating and building themselves into godly women. They invested purposefully to become who they are.

A wise woman builds her house, but it starts with a plan!

You may find criticism from the world. But in Christ, you will find love, deep, abiding, unconditional love and all that you need for your task. But you must choose to invest your time wisely.

So what are some ways to fill your own soul so that you may have strength and love to give?

1. Surround yourself with good and godly friends.

I once heard a speaker say that he will do anything to put himself in the company of people who make Him want to love God more, who make Him want to be a better person–who inspire Him. But that he would avoid all of those who spread poison or gossip or discouragement as much as possible.

I have a friend, Phyllis, who I know will always point me to God. Just being with her is like being in the presence of the Lord’s encouragement, because she walks with Him and points me to him. Gwen is such a friend, and Deb, Shelley, Lynn, Beth and Sarah and Joy, ……….I gather these friends over the years and invest in them because they invest in me.

Find those friends, challenge a friend to be a prayer partner, to study a book together, to meet with you on a regular basis.

2. Spend time every day with the Lord. Find books, resources, people who can help you with this. (Go though the Psalms and circle or underline every promise or character quality of God. Read one chapter of John or Matthew a day and write down one lesson you have learned. Read through Philippians and note all the ways Paul tells us to follow Jesus.)

3.  Clean out your soul on a regular basis–get rid of the rubbish that has kept you from experiencing God’s love. (If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us from our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) Don’t hang on to bitterness or condemnation–it will poison you. I have a friend, Sarah Mae, who is dear to me as though she were a daughter. She has recently published an ebook called Core Lies, that she is offering for free. We must rid our hearts from lies that would keep us from experiencing the generous love of God.

4. Surround yourself with books, blogs, people who feed your mind on truth, who draw you to become a better self.  There are many, many women in my life who do that to me. But I wanted to point you to three of my favorites.

I love these women because they have chosen to have integrity in their lives when no one was looking. They have invested thousands of hours in the presence of God. They have chosen to love and serve Him, to always turn in the direction of faith. I know they are not perfect, but they hold fast to a Faithful God who carries them. They are also seasoned women who have chosen to faithfully love and serve their children, and husbands, even amidst challenging times. They have weathered life and from that weathering, have garnered stories of His faithfulness. Feed on their life-giving words. I do so love these women.

Brenda Nuland– a mother of two grown children, who cultivates life, beauty, goodness and faithfulness in her home.Brenda always encourages me, feeds my soul and gives me loyal friendship.

Elizabeth Foss–a sweet mother of 9 children, whose devotion to God, gentle mothering of her children, and great thoughts always challenge me. She is humble and loyal as a friend and has learned to persevere with grace.

Ann Voskamp-an artist with words and photography, who deeply cherishes her precious Lord and wants to sing his messages into the lives of those in her pathway. Her gentle, humble words are always filled with grace that she found from walking closely with Him.

5. Spend time in nature–his workshop. When I see the artistry of God, and rest in the glory of the canopy of His beauty, I find great peace. Creation was made for us. He designed the stars for us to understand His vastness–His strength and ability to be bigger than us, to show us His power. He designed color, flowers, mountains, waterfalls, snow, rain, to show us His design. When I invest time in His works of art, I am inspired to reflect His art and beauty in my home as a picture of His reality in an otherwise dark world. Creation nurtures my soul when I take time to observe it.

6. Restore, relax, recreate. Young moms need a break.(and old moms and moms of teens, and……..) They need sleep. Sometimes grumpiness or depression goes away with just a couple of good nights of sleep or time away with a friend. Moms need to have a friend who understands them and still loves them! They need to laugh and lighten up. Cultivate times of breaks in your life, times of just getting away. Don’t always be serious–it is exhausting.

Our bodies need a sabbath rest. I take my tea time every day with a candle, book or magazine. I collect videos and movies and series of stories that delight my soul. I surround myself with music everywhere–at home, in the car, at dinner, when I am in a plane. I love rhythms and movement. I make time for cherished friends. I make fun for myself with my children so that we can just laugh and play and store up humor–everyone needs a break. (Read my daughter, Sarah’s blog post from a couple of days ago–Christians need to learn how to lighten up and have fun.)

These precious ones are not just public figures to me, but in the privacy of friendship, offer such grace, humility, love and always make me want to love Him more.

This blog is way too long, but the point is, you are important. Your emotional, spiritual and physical health matters to God. If you cherish your soul and become a good steward of your needs, you will be stronger for your journey of life and more ready to meet its demands. But you are the one who must plan how to endure with grace and beauty. You must create a plan that best suits your puzzle of life. Grace and beauty and peace in the midst of it all.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Queenie says

    Thank you Sally for all your insights through your books and blog posts! May God continue to bless you and your family – always refreshing to read your thoughts and encourages me on my mission on motherhood.

  2. says

    Thank you! I am one of those mom who invests and invests and feels so guilty about resting. Recently we have implemented a sabbath resting day on Sunday’s after church thanks to your inspiration at the Dallas Mom Heart conference. We spend time together reading living books of virtue, make homemade scones, listen to Joel’s CD and ask penetrating questions. I love this day of rest. Thank you! I am in the process of civilizing my home and my children are loving e very moment. I come every year (past 3 years) to the mom heart conference and am inspired, each year I am in a different place spiritually and mentally and my children too are in different places. I love the weekend away, my retreat with God for another powerful year of being mom and cultivating a home of joy and loveliness centered around Christ who bring me to daily, moment by moment grace to turn ugliness into beauty. Thank you for your devotion to us, mom’s today desperately need your encouragement and wisdom.

    Melissa

  3. says

    Sally, thank you so much for your encouragement! This morning, I read Psalm 30, and one verse that really stood out to me was “By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong.” It is so freeing, so empowering, so sweet to my soul to know that the Lord looks on me with favor, and your post today further reminds me of that. I pray that the Lord speaks the same word to many, many moms through you today!
    Thank you for your prayers and words of grace for us moms!

  4. says

    Thank you for your heart felt ministry to us busy moms. Parenting has been at my heart for 16 years, and I know my it is my calling, although I struggle daily. I am wondering if you have posted or have further info on the discipleship that you do with your kids as they are in those last stages before they leave the nest. Many Blessings to you.

  5. Charise says

    Sally, thank you for being that voice of encouragement to our souls. Thank you for splashing us with God’s deep ocean of love and for being YOU! Love you!

  6. says

    Just what I need, when I need it–and why do I always feel inspired after reading your words o pick up my bible and find more beauty and truth there? Because He is speaking through you. Thank you.

  7. Lynda says

    Dearest Sally, Thank you so much for taking the time to put this post together. You are loved and appreciated!

  8. says

    Sally,
    When you said,”Don’t always be so serious – it is exhausting”. Yes, yes,yes I have to remind myself of this. Having fun is OK, not only OK, but important. Thank you so much for these words of love. I too read Ann & Elizabeth’s blog and am reading Ann’s book for the second time. They are very encouraging to me and help me seek out the word for answers. I believe that is an important qualification for a mentor,do they turn you toward Him, if not move on. I also know that time in God’s creation revitalizes my soul. Have you ever looked really close at a daisy? All I can say is WOW. He is in everything! Oh how my soul rejoices! You are so precious. Thank you for giving of yourself.
    Jocelyn

  9. Shannon C says

    So print worthy! Thanks for your sharing your wisdom, Sally and thank for praying for us!!

    Blessings,
    Shannon C

  10. Amanda says

    Thank you for saying the things God has called you to say! You have no idea how encouraging and life giving your words are. My soul desperately needs this! THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

  11. says

    Sally, I always love your posts, but these last several have been SO good! Your life-giving words are sure to touch so many women’s hearts. My own wise mother instituted a daily rest time for me and my siblings when I was growing up, and today all three of us still seek out a time every day just to be still. Now my children have a quiet hour with books or notebooks or whatever, and I wonder if it will help them grow up knowing how to find rest in each day. It’s a much-needed message that we all need a space of quiet and peace and beauty in our day!! Thank you, as always, for speaking clearly and bravely and with so much grace and blessing. You are always a bright spot in my day!

    p.s. I’m re-reading Clay’s book (Heartfelt D.) with pen AND highlighter–so many nuggets of wisdom in there! Please tell him thank you from me :)

  12. Paula says

    thank you for this very touching blog this morning. I feel like a poor mom. I have 7 children and my husband just keeps getting better all the time. but, i cannot focus and nuture my family. I was thinking about paring down the blogs i get and staying off FB today. I live in my inbox. I am everything you described. And oh, how GOD is showing that my kids need me. Even now as i type my kids are yelling mom and i am irritated, frustrated and annoyed that they are whining and fighting and i just want to run from the responsiblity. But, i am not willing to run anymore and want to make serious life changes to do that. Pray for me. Better run …thank you so much for the beautiful thoughts and prayers. Paula

  13. Jessica says

    I think this post is really good and I have really enjoyed your last posts. You give a lot of great tips and encouragment. I will add though that I see so many ladies around putting so much time and effort into their “girlfriends” over their husband and children. The moms will leave their children home with their husband who has had a long day at work to go be w girl friends for book clubs and so on. There is a season for everything and when a mom has a lot of young children she should not leave them with a husband at night very often while she is out w girlfriends or at meeting when the husband has had a full day already. We are to treat out husbands as we would God and take care of them as we would God if God was sitting in our house and not our husband. So it really all needs to be in balance. Where our husbands and children are out top priority day in and day out and then a few special friends that are not requiring a lot out of us. Our husbands and children should be our very closest best friends. When our children are grown and out of the home we will have much more time but when our children are home and we are homeschooling plus building deep relationships and so forth there is just not much extra time in the day when we are doing all we are suppose to be doing at home. It goes for the computer too – we moms must really limit how much time we are on the computer so we are giving our time where it is so needed in the home to our family…I only read 4-5 blogs and that is not even daily. We have to be so guarded of our time and really give it where it is important – to the Lord, our husbands and children. I know many ladies at church that have house full of children – and they rarely keep up with many outside of church or having whole families over – they just do not have the extra time as they are so busy loving their husband, being best friends w their husbands and schooling the kids and building those relationships plus just having fun w their family – life is short and our time w our family is short while they are growing up so to make the very most of it is the goal….but to have other whole families over for fellowship here and there – but not make friends for the wives a lone w big priority or friends for the children a big priotority as we God gave them siblings here to be best friends with. However as they get older if God brings a special friend into their lives to do pure things together w here and there that is fine but for the most part to do things as a family.
    I really loved your post on 1st time obedience. It was very good and so very true.

  14. Wendy Banman says

    Sally,

    Just last night I told my husband that frankly there are times when my mind screams just let it all go away. I am committed in my heart to my children & to loving them, but the journey is not an easy one. Thank you so much for the timely words of encouragement & for your prayers. We are hoping to plant our first ever garden this year & as I plan our garden, I will also put on a paper a plan to tend the “garden of my soul” as you so eloquently put it.

    God Bless You!
    Wendy

  15. Suzanne says

    Hi Sally,

    This blog post came at just the right time. My husband and I have decided that I should quit my part- time job (working third shift) to stay at home full-time with our children. The joy that is filling my soul is indescribable! We do need to cultivate rest for our bodies and I know this is why I have been so exhausted as a wife and mother. Our faith story is beginning as we trust in His plan for our family. Thank you for your prayers and encouraging words.

    In Him,
    Suzanne

  16. Darla says

    Let me add my thanks & appreciation for these last posts!! You are encouraging us and guiding us to our Heavenly Father I for one need it! Keep it coming Sally it’s working on me in so many ways

  17. Nuria says

    I wish I could drink this candle tea with you and have a good laughf, unfortunatly I feel so left in my own, thanks god I have my baby to stand for although I wish I could have time to talk to nice and inspiring people like you.

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