The Remarkable Women of the Bible ~ Chapter 7 ~ Jochebed

Image

Remarkable Mother ~ Remarkable Woman of Faith

Chapter 7 of the Remarkable Women of the Bible And Their Message For Your Life Today by Elizabeth George begins with the story of Jochebed.

Times were tough for Jochebed and her family.  We go through many trials in our life, but Jochebed, a woman who feared God, had the one of the worst nightmares of any mother.  Pharaoh of ancient Egypt saw that the Hebrews were multiplying greatly and feared that they would consider a revolt.  (Genesis 1:7-10) Pharaoh gave the midwives an order to kill any boy that was born of the Hebrew women and let the female infants live.  (Exodus 1:15-16) Imagine the horror Jochebed faced when approaching her delivery date. She remained faithful through all of the frightening circumstances and was placed in the hall of fame for her faith in the Almighty. She hid her son Moses for three and one-half months when Pharaoh’s edict was sent to throw the young newborns into the Nile River.  (Hebrews 11:23) We can glean faith from a woman of God who faced her trial with confidence and trust in God.

“Jochebed shows you how to hold up your frightening, seemingly impossible situations to your Father in heaven.  Worry ends when faith begins…and that faith ends when worry begins. So make a decision to face your trials with courage fueled by faith.  Make a decision to refuse to fear and to instead place your trust in God.  Declare with David, ‘Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.’”  (Psalm 56:3) pg 78

Perhaps Jochebed had so great a faith in God because she would have been taught by her parents of the promise to Abraham, how God had miraculously blessed Abraham with a son in his old age and had been with him and performed miracles throughout his life. God gave the promises of a great nation to Abraham because He knew he would command his children and his household after him that they would teach his children and his children’s children the way of God.

Genesis 18:17-19 Yahweh said, “Will I hide from Abraham what I do, seeing that Abraham has surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?” 

Genesis 18:19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him.”

How important is our faith in the rearing of our children in the way of the Lord?  Ask yourself this question, ‘Does my son or daughter know more about human men with supernatural powers than the God of the Bible?  Someday, there will be another persecution, and they will need the faith of Jochebed and the faith of many of those who have gone before us who were taught the way of God diligently.  Our children are the heritage of the Lord and are chosen by God to be kings and priests if they also follow in our footsteps, if we set the right example of  loving the Lord with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our minds.

After Jochebed could no longer conceal her son at three months, she made a boat (ark) with reeds and placed tar inside to keep the dangerous waters of the Nile from drowning her little one.  Sound familiar?

Exodus 2:3 “When she could no longer hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him, and coated it with tar and with pitch. She put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.”

Image

Was Noah saved by an “ark” that was pitched with tar?

Genesis 6:14 “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.”

Again, did she recall the miracle of God saving Noah and his family because she heard from her parents of the great flood that encompassed the earth?  This may shed a little more light on why Jochebed had such faith, being taught and teaching her family the statutes and judgments of God.  God commanded the Israelites to remember to teach their sons and sons’ son in the way of God.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one:  and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  These words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Again we see David expounding this command:

Psalms 78:4-7 “We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of Yahweh, his strength, and his wondrous works that he has done.  For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know, even the children who should be born; who should arise and tell their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

Time With Mother

Another point to consider is that she was allowed to spend time with Moses by the daughter of the Pharaoh.  The first bond and closeness of the mother and her offspring is so very important.  No daycare can give your child the closeness and love that a real mother can.

Did Jochebed speak of God and live out her faith as she nursed Moses?

“If you are a mother, grandmother, or aunt, God’s high calling for you is to devote yourself and your time to those children during the first few years of their lives.  God has given you the important role of teaching His little ones, of informing them about Him, of nurturing them up for Him, of giving Him a godly man or woman to use for His great purposes, and Jochebed shows us how” pg 79

Are we aware of the special purpose of our children’s future?  Our children are holy because we are holy, set apart, they may be princes and princesses of God.  The princes and princesses  of the world today receive a special education. They are tutored for a role that they will perform one day.  Do we spend time with our children and make them aware that they have a special role to play in God’s plan for mankind?  Their potential, in God’s eyes, is far beyond what superheroes can ever achieve.  None of them ever became a king or queen and/or a priest to guide this untoward world into an age of peace and harmony. Our children are the future, and they need to know this in order to prepare themselves for their calling.

During the Feast of Tabernacles is a great time to celebrate their importance to God, that is they are our future.  They will be the leaders along with us guiding the world in the millennium.

Moses knew that God, by his hand, would deliver the children of Israel. (Acts 7:25) How did Moses come to that conclusion?  Did his mother inform him that he was to become the leader of a great nation from birth? It’s a curious question.  Moses understood the love that his mother had for him even as He grew in Pharaoh’s house.  I’m certain that his mother informed him of this while she nursed him.  He had a special bond with his mother just as all nursing infants have.  Three years of closeness with our own children are priceless.

“Just a few years! Do you know that 50 percent of a child’s character and personality development takes place by age three and 75 percent by age five?  The first years of a child’s life are critical years for input and training.  Jochebed was one of God’s faithful mothers who devoted her time those first critical years to train her son in the ways of the Lord.  Indeed, the only time that she had with her little boy were those few years.  If you’re a mom, please take seriously your calling as a mother.  Just a few years of time devoted to God’s little ones make a world of difference!” Pg  80.

I believe that all of the years of a child’s life are important years, and that their training should all be in light of the glory of God, not evolution, not learning the ways of the world, but the ways of God.

Let’s let Jochebed’s  life be an example of the faith of a remarkable servant of God and also a remarkable mother who brought up all three of her children in the way of the Lord:

Aaron, her first born became Israel’s first high priest, marking the beginning of the Aaronic priesthood (Exodus 30:30)

Her daughter Miriam was  a gifted poet and musician who led the Israelite women in a victory song after God delivered them from the Pharaoh’s army , (Exodus 15:20) and with her brother was intimately involved in God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt oppression.

Moses, a small baby that Jochebed gave to pharaoh’s daughter in order to save his life (Exodus 2:10), was used by God to lead His people out of Egypt and to communicate to them His fundamental commands for life (Exodus 4:11-12; 24:3). Pgs 82-84

Image

Image


Image

How much importance should we place upon the career of motherhood when it is used for God’s glory?  There is no comparison.

Jochebed was the first person in Scripture to have a name compounded with Jah, or Jehovah.  Jochebed means “glory of Jehovah,” Jehovah is her glory,” or Jehovah is our glory.”  Pg 79

Will we, as daughters of the most High, bring glory to God by following the example of the faith and love of Jochebed? She gives us the example.  Let’s follow in her footsteps of faith, and God will give us a new name at His return.  What name will that be? Will it be for God’s glory?

Revelation 3:12 Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God.”

Chapter 1 ~ Eve, Remarkable Creation

Chapter 2 ~ Sarah, Remarkable Faith

Chapter 3 ~ Sarah, Advanced Steps in Faith

Chapter 4 ~ Sarah, Rewards of Faith

Chapter 5 ~ Rebekah, Ready, Willing, and Able

Chapter 6 ~ Rebekah, Tests of Faith

To learn the wonderful purpose of our life on earth and the promise of a time of great peace on the earth, please see our booklet What is Your Destiny.

Advertisements

“The Remarkable Women of the Bible” Book Study Chapter 1

The Remarkable Women of the Bible

“Eve – Remarkable Creation”

What first comes to your mind when you think on the creation of Eve? Does rebellion, deception, and an overall feeling of contempt for her because of her choice when it came to her disobedience to God’s command to not take to herself the fruit of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil? I know it happens at times to me when I think of her. Her name brings to mind man’s contempt for God’s authority.  Yet, Eve was just as human as you and I.  Adam and Eve were created flesh and blood. In Romans 8:7, it speaks of the flesh that is not subject to the law of God; and neither indeed was she.

“Because the carnal (fleshly) mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

~ Romans 8:7

Adam and Eve were carnal.  They were made of flesh and blood, and so are we.

After Eve Ate The Apple

Would we have done any better? We scoff a bit at that question, but when I think about my temptations in life, sugar cravings, etc. it’s not so hard for me to fathom the pull she must have felt; after all, all of the trees were beautiful to the eye and had fruit to be desired and this one was also desired to make one wise, and it was situated conveniently right in the center of the garden. Also, she had the added trial of Satan right there egging her on. God knew the draw that Satan could possibly have on them.  That is why during God’s soon coming 1,000-year millennial reign, Satan will be bound; God knows the sway Satan has over us; and He willingly pardons our sins if we truly repent.

We do not know if Adam and Eve repented, but God had mercy, killing animals and using the skins to cover their nakedness (Revelation 3:17), which I believe to be their sin. Fig leaves would not do. It takes blood to cover sins. I believe this was a picture of Christ eventually coming to the earth and shedding His blood, reconciling men back to their God. But God  stated in the Old Testament that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin, only a promise of a better sacrifice, Jesus Christ could. (Hebrews 9:23-2).  Then, you might ask, why were they thrown out of the garden?  Simply put, without Christ’s sacrificial blood, the power of death wouldn’t have been defeated and there could be no eternal life. So, the tree of Life was made inaccessible to them.

Adam and Eve Cast Out Of The Garden

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

~ Genesis 3:15

According to the book The Remarkable Women of the Bible,in chapter 1 Eve was remarkable in the “firsts” in her role as the first woman to ever to walk the face of the planet.  She was the first person created to be a man’s perfect help-meet, the first wife, the first mother, etc. Only together could Adam have been complete, in the image of God, and not until both of them were created that God said His creation was VERY good! Notice in God’s word, all the creation days preceding this were proclaimed good, but on the day that Adam and Eve were created, it was “Very good!”

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.”

~ Genesis 1:27

Eve Created From Adam's Rib

You as a woman are a unique creation.

“Accept your femininity — There’s no need to feel inferior, second-class or second-rate.  No, woman was God’s last, most beautiful creation.  It was only after God presented women that He proclaimed His creation was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Adam and Eve were alike, yet they were different from one another.  One was female (Genesis 1:27), yet together as well as individually they reflected God’s image and His glory!” pg 12

You can also reflect God’s glory when:

~ You give life through your physical efforts to care for others.

~ You share spiritual life by telling others about Jesus Christ and God the Father

~ You are the life of your home, bringing the sparkle of laughter and joy to other people.

~ You pass physical life on to your children.

~You can also help your children have the opportunity to come into God’s family by the gospel of Jesus Christ. pg 14

Women's Kindness And Caring

Not only was she the first in the many roles as stated above, including being given the name “Eve – the mother of ALL living,” she was the first to suffer loss, her son (Abel) murdered, first to have her son taken away from her (Cain).  Yet, there was hope, for unto her was given the first evangelistic vision, the coming Savior from the lineage of her womb. A Savior would be born into the world,  paving the way to reconciliation for all mankind. Indeed, she was remarkable!

~ First Lessons in Faith ~

Loss tears at the heart, and Eve certainly suffered many losses.  Just look at the list.  She had lost:

~ her perfect relationship with God (Genesis 3:8)

~ the bliss of sinless marriage (Genesis 3:12)

~ her lack of acquaintance with evil (Genesis 3:22)

~ her ideal home in the Garden of Eden

~ her son Abel

~ her son Cain (gone to a place of refuge) pg 16

Cain Slays Abel His Brother

Yet even through all the loss, the goodness of God shown through.  We can always hope in God! “Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, ‘For God has appointed another seed for me.” (Genesis 4:25)

The gift of Seth whose name means “appointed” surely refilled Eve’s empty heart and her equally empty barrel of hope.  Appointed by God, her Seth would not only bring hope to her sore heart, but he would be the one from whom God’s Son would come bringing bountiful and eternal hope to all mankind (See Luke 3:38) pg 16

Eve also was the mother of the first man, whose blood God considered righteous.  Was he one of the first prophets? The Bible does not say, but it does say in Matthew 23:

“Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.”

“That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”

~ Matthew 23:34-35

Serving Elderly

~ Eve’s Message For Your Life Today ~

How do you handle your heartbreaking losses?  Rather than plunge into depression, discouragement, or hopelessness, place your God-given faith and confidence in these hope-filled realities:

God’s Faithfulness: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

God’s Promises:  One of the over 8,000 promises in the Bible assures you that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13)

God’s Goodness:  Your lack of hope can never negate God’s goodness.  (Psalms 30:5) For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Proverbs 30:5)

Just as Adam was a reflection of God’s glory, Eve was as well, in His image created He them.  We can be a reflection of God’s glory as God transforms our minds into His spiritual reflection:

Resolve never to make a habit of criticizing or downgrading yourself but instead

Rejoice in your worth in God and your likeness to Him

 Rejoice that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

Resolve to seek a deeper relationship with God and to

Rejoice that He is near to all who call upon Him (Psalm 145:18)

Resolve to walk by faith paths.  You may not understand and to

Rejoice in the promise of His nearness as He directs your way.

Resolve to live each day as a child of God through His son, Jesus Christ and to be a reflection of His glory, and

Rejoice that, as one of God’s chosen, your name is written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)!

Resolve to spend time communing with God on a daily basis through prayer and the study of His word, and

Rejoice in the strength that He gives, for each day and the hope that He offers for all your tomorrows!

Resolve to reflect His glory and, dear one,

Rejoice in His love. pg 18-19

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

Chapter 2 – March 26

S.A.D. ~ Let There Be Light!

Discouraged Woman

I hear these comments especially during this time of year…“What’s wrong with me? The things that normally make me happy aren’t.  I feel more anxious and can’t enjoy the things I used to.  I also feel that all my energy is drained, and the little things that I could stand all the sudden are giant catastrophes in my mind.” Are you feeling this way and just can’t seem to find the lift you need during these cold winter months? “Without the long days of sunlight, our bodies can succumb to what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)” 1

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D)?

“Seasonal affective disorder seems to develop from inadequate bright light during the winter months. Researchers have found that bright light changes the chemicals in the brain. Exactly how this occurs and the details of its effects are being studied. “*2

There are different ways in which we can combat this seasonal mood disorder, which can be easily found by researching through web pages, the most researched is that of outdoor sunlight.  Today, however, I want to talk about another S.A.D. which can be just as debilitating, even more so.

Spiritual Affective Disorder (S.A.D)

This disorder is the most debilitating of the two for it can occur all year, not just in the long dark days of fall and winter, but also throughout the summer and spring months.  Although this is not a physical condition, its remedy also can be found in rays of sunlight, but in a spiritual sense.  It can also cause these very same symptoms.  I know. I often catch myself not getting enough spiritual sunlight throughout the year, and it can cause depression, hopelessness, moodiness, and low energy levels.

The lack of Bible study time, prayer, meditation is a lack of sunlight, pure spiritual sunlight.  These are the remedies God gives us to battle the daily blues, give us renewed energy, and helps us fight the onslaught of negativism that the world throws at us each and every day.  It’s not only the sorrows of the world that can get us down. Satan, who is the prince of the power of the air, the father of lies, who inhabits darkness will try to hurl negativism at us at every turn. (Ephesians 2:2, John 8:44) He convinces us (lies) that what we really need is to combat this disease is to go watch more of our favorite television shows, get more involved in sports, spend more time on social media networks….. more and more and more to the point that we squeeze out the time we so desperately need with our God, the true source of sunlight.

Do you also believe Satan’s lies? I do more often than I’d like to.  I have to shake myself out of that deceptive thinking and just “Do It!” Make more one-on-one prayer time, make myself read more of God’s word, listen to more sermons, print out verses and paste them throughout the house to remind myself of God’s promises.  It works!  Why? Because the cure is the same as the physical S.A.D., more pure sunlight. We must, however, make the choice, and we DO have a choice, unlike what Satan would have us believe.

What does God say in His word about Light?

1 John 1:5 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Psalms 119:105 Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet

Reading God’s word or listening to it is a source of light:

Psalms 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Meditation on his word during the night as David did brought light into his nights.

Psalms 63:6 “When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”

What kind of light does God say to put into our minds to cause us to find a cure for our troubled minds?

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Philippians 4:8 Whatsoever Is True

The Bible, the source of light is 1) true, 2) just, 3) pure, 4) good.

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

 James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

 Psalms 12:6 “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Therefore, let us remember when the long days of winter seems to cause us to become disheartened, troubled, anxious, and feeling devoid of spiritual energy, the cure is the same…plenty of Light!  One day, there will be no need of light, for God will be its Light!

Revelation 21:23 “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof.”

In conclusion, let’s all take in the Light that God so freely gives to us when we’re feeling the effects of lack of sunlight in these cold, dark days of winter (S.A.D.)…..for that matter all our lives!

Let there be Light!

Sunshine

1 Mayo Clinic Staff

2 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

Yes, there is a devil, and he is the prince of the power of the air.  Read more about our adversary here “Is There Really A Devil?”

Is There Really A Devil?

Your Comment Are Important To Me!

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 12: The Faithful Mother

Concluding the last chapter in my daughter’s book study on “The Mission of Motherhood” from Where My Treasure Is.

Mission of Motherhood

“Welcome to our last book discussion of The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity!

Thank you so much for joining me these last several months, whether you have kept up with the reading schedule, or whether you are still on Chapter 3 or whether you never had the opportunity to purchase the book but stopped by here to visit and share your thoughts on my posts.

I hope that you have been encouraged and inspired as we’ve taken a peek into one woman’s life who is passionate about the mission of motherhood. It’s easy to read about something, but an entirely different matter to implement it though, isn’t it? I’ve been inspired many times in my life by a great book or blog article or message, but have watched that inspiration fizzle quickly as soon as I turn back to deal with the more mundane aspects of my life. I sometimes struggle to keep a brightly burning vision in front of me when little ones are pulling at my legs or asking me for help with math problems or interrupting every other thought with shouts and roars and animal noises and piano scales and joyful exclamations and arguing and tears.

What’s a mom to do?

How can we make that leap from the daily grind to the worthy ideals that we hear about? Is is possible to be successful and faithful in motherhood, or is that only for those A-type, put-together ”supermoms”?

In this final chapter of the book, Sally shares with us four things that have helped her (in addition to God’s grace) to be faithful in her journey of motherhood.

An Inspiring Vision

Do you balk at the idea of vision? Having a vision is nice and all, but for now I’m just trying to get through. If you feel this way, let me encourage you that seeking out a vision is a most worthwhile use of your time. In order to be faithful, we need to know where we’re headed. We need to identify our goals and occasionally check back to see if we’re still heading in the direction of those goals.

Our vision gives us the ideal we pursue.

It defines the decisions we make, the priorities we keep. (p. 224)

Do you possess in your mind a well-defined picture of what God has designed the family to be? Sally shared her picture with us in this chapter…

tillamook

Though cultural storms attack violently each day, a solid Christian home can be a protective fortress, a haven of peace for all who live there. Those inside its walls are protected, nurtured, and nourished in body, heart, mind and soul. Such homes need a director, guardian, and caretaker, which is what God had in mind when He designed the role of mother.

Homes that are being established and protected by the mothers who have a clear vision of their God-designed role can bring refuge and life and hope to a generation of children who need to grow strong in order to be able to battle the storms they will one day face. (p. 225)

A Persevering Faith

Although a strong vision is essential to a successful mom, it isn’t always enough to keep us going through the hard times. We need a deep, unwavering commitment to stay the course. We need perseverance.

The task of stewarding children’s lives is not a short-term process. There is no quick list of rules that can be followed in one short year that will ensure success. The mission of motherhood requires grit. It requires perseverance. And that often means years of repetitious and mundane tasks, years of repeating yourself, years of wondering whether anything you do or say makes a difference. (p. 226)

We must choose to believe that God Himself will eventually reward our choices and efforts to raise a godly heritage for His glory. It is for Him and His purposed that we must endure, trusting that He who promised is faithful. Being godly parents is no guarantee that our children will choose to respond to all that we have taught them. Yet trusting God’s timing, submitting to His design, and obeying His Word are always the right biblical choices for us to make. (p. 227)

In the video that accompanies this chapter, Sally talks about how we can’t always rely on our feelings to tell us whether something is noble, or true, or good. Because sometimes motherhood doesn’t feel good. Sometimes it feels like just a big waste of time.

However, if we continue to obey God in training and teaching our children in love, and our feelings will usually follow.

A Tenacious Trust

Have you ever felt like this?

I’m making a wreck of this child. I’m failing as a parent. What if my child never outgrows this selfishness? Why am I spending all this time on something that may make no difference at all?

I know that I have!

In those times, I’ve found only one thing to be truly effective – To keep trusting the Master and Lord of my life. He shows us the ways to love, to serve, to discipline, to teach – if we will only trust in His methods.

The Lord would encourage me to trust Him, to wait on Him and give Him time to work, to hold on to His promises, to not compromise my convictions, and most important, to persist in my love and my prayers for the little ones He entrusted to my care. (p. 228)

A Little Perspective

Even with a vision in my heart, a persevering spirit and a strong trust in my heavenly Father, I can still benefit from taking a step back to gain perspective. I truly believe that there is nothing like being a stay at home mom with little children to create tunnel vision! Sally gives us some things to consider as we try to keep the proper perspective on our mothering as the days fly by…

  • Keep a sense of humor- One of the things that I’ve most had to learn since becoming a mom is how to laugh at my shortcomings and how to find humor in everyday situations. My husband has been a great help to me as I learn to laugh when less-than-ideal things happen throughout the day (which is quite often when you have young children!)
  • Enlist allies – Although sometimes it seems near impossible sometimes for me to carve out any time for spending time with other women, I am always glad that I did. Just sharing our days with one another, even if we don’t have any solutions to offer, helps me to realize that life isn’t that bad, and that there are certain things that all moms struggle with.
  • Seek advice of older women – I see a tendency for young moms today (myself included) to want to figure everything out for ourselves. We meticulously research every tiny decision regarding our babies, even though we may have an older, experience woman in our life who is willing to offer ideas. We may dismiss the advice of others thinking that the older generation just doesn’t understand how things are these days. We might be wise to have a humble attitude and take into consideration what a more experienced person is willing to share with us.
  • Look out for our basic needs – One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a mom has been to carve out some kind of respite for myself, whether it is physical, mental or spiritual. I shared the lessons I’ve learned in this post written earlier this year: Oh yeah… I’m still a person!

It Is For The Children’s Sake That We Give Our Lives

I’m so proud of each of you for investing the time to seriously consider this noble task to which you have been called. May God be with you as you continue on your journey!

“We are protecting future generations that they might be strong for the battle of life.
We are the real, in-the-flesh, tangible picture of God’s loving hands,
strong arms of protection, and encouraging words of hope to our children.”

Oct 30 064

Additional Resources to Encourage You In Your Mission of Motherhood

Mothering Monday series (My blog articles specifically for moms!)

The Mission of Motherhood Book Club posts

Sally Clarkson’s Mission of Motherhood videos

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe Book Club posts

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

Our lives are important to God and He has a plan for each and everyone of us, to become literal sons and daughters in His family.  He gives us of His very own spirit, so we can be grow up with His characteristics, one being that of self-control.

To find out more of God’s purpose for you, please send for our booklet“What is Your Destiny?” or click below to read it in a pdf format.

What is Your Destiny?

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 11: The Ministering Mother

Continuing with my daughter’s book study on “The Mission of Motherhood” from Where My Treasure Is.

Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkston

“Welcome back to our book discussion of The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for EternityWe are nearing the end of this jam-packed book. I hope that you have been inspired  over the last several months to take seriously your very important role as mother. This week’s topic is one that has been on my mind a lot lately, so I’m excited to share my thoughts and hear yours as well. Let’s get started with Chapter 11…

serving others

One of the fundamental messages of the Bible is that all of us who belong to Christ are expected to extend His love to and to meet the needs of other believers and those in our community. We have a stewardship responsibility for which we will have to answer to God someday, giving account of the ways we have served him by reaching out in love to others. (p. 201)

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink;
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
naked, and you clothed Me;
I was sick, and you visited Me;
I was in prison, and you came to Me…

Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine,
even the least of them, you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:34-36, 40

The scriptures above weighed heavily on my mind throughout the years of young motherhood. Up until very recently, I was nagged by the feeling that I wasn’t doing “enough”. I wanted to serve others outside of my own home so badly, but I felt somewhat constrained living out in the country with a brood of young ones.

I began to wonder, “Is there any way for me to make a difference in the world?”. Of course, I believe that mothers already have the awesome opportunity to make a difference in the world by raising God-fearing children.

But I always wanted to do more. I’ve always had heart for serving others, which was strongly impressed upon me by my own mom. Since first becoming a mother myself, I’ve had a strong desire to provide a model for serving to my own children. Over the years, I stored up ideas in my head of ways my little family would serve our community – volunteering at homeless shelters, putting on charity concerts, making visits to local nursing homes, participating in an adopt-a-highway program, etc. The problem is that when you show up to volunteer with 5 kids (10 and under) people generally assume that you will contribute more disturbance and trouble than actual hard work.

After several years of mostly fruitless attempts on my own part to come up with service projects, I decided to stop worrying so much about it and try a different tactic – putting it into God’s hands. I prayed for Him to show me where He wanted me to use my “hands and feet” rather than where thought I should use them. I purposed to keep my eyes and ears open for the opportunities that I hoped He would send.

And they came!

I found that they were not always grand, Facebook-worthy acts of service, however.

Sometimes, I when I heard of a need, I thought to myself, But that doesn’t really work into our schedule this week or That person? She is kind of grouchy though, God. She probably won’t even thank us for our service! I had to ask myself if I had actually been serious when I asked God for those service opportunities! I came to the conclusion that I’d better respond to them to the best of my ability since I had asked for them in the first place.

An amazing thing happened. The more I responded, the more opportunities He sent my way.

Service to others in need is an essential part of training and instructing our children in order to cultivate in them a loving and obedient heart. Serving others is a way to live out what the Bible would have us believe in our hearts. It puts feet to the message of the gospel. (p. 200)

In this week’s chapter, Sally reminds us that service isn’t just for the “professionals”. After all, Jesus chose common, ordinary men to do the work of God’s kingdom:

Spiritual qualifications in the mind of Christ are not determined by the degrees a person has earned at a university or a professional resume but by the anointing of His Spirit and by a willingness to serve in obedience to God’s commands. (p. 203)

As God brought to my attention small opportunities in which my children and I could serve from right where we are, I’ve learned an important lesson.

Service doesn’t always fit into tidy packages.
Being an effective worker for Christ means that we are “ready responders”.

Teaching and training my children to reach out in service isn’t all about the cool service projects I can come up with. Rather, it’s helping them to be quick respond to the needs of the people around us. And in order for us to respond, we need to be aware.

Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:35-36

Sally says:

This passage tells me that children must learn to see people as Jesus did and feel as He felt. Instead of seeing the multitude and seeing them with disdain and scorn – or as an overwhelming drain on His time – Jesus felt compassion for them. He saw the crowds as they really were. He saw their need for leadership, protection, healing, and nurture, and He responded by reaching out to them in love and by doing what He could. This is the way we need to teach our children to serve. They need to see as Jesus saw and then reach out to others in compassion, as He did. (p. 206)

So, while grand ideas for service projects are wonderful, too, let’s be careful to not discount the small, ordinary ways that we can serve as a family each and every day.

Sharing our faith is often as simple as loving others
and gently showing them the source of our love, the Lord Jesus.

(p. 208)

A few ideas…

The ways in which we can reach out to our community are so wonderfully varied. There are so many needs just waiting to be filled by ready responders. I offer below some of the ways I’ve found that my children and I can serve right where we are with the ages we have in our home at this time. As they grow, the sphere and scope of our service will no doubt change, but I hope that our hearts will continue to be the same “ready responders”!

IMG_0740

Make freezer meals in advance – While we’re doing our regular cooking, we can make extra, smaller portions and package them away in the freezer. That way, when we hear about someone in need, I can quickly pull something out for them and my children can make a card of encouragement to tuck in with the meal.

Visit someone who is lonely – In a society that is flooded with social media, it seems unthinkable that anyone could actually be lonely, but there are actually people who are not connected by technology and consequently, feel very out of touch with the rest of the world. For someone to actually step away from their busy schedule to make a visit can be a wonderful blessing to those people.

Be available – I’ve found that a simple way to serve is to not fill my schedule so chock full that I am not available if a friend needs to talk. People’s problems rarely come on a convenient time schedule. Being willing to get together on short notice to talk to a discouraged friend is a very simple way to serve.

Grow in hospitality – One of my goals for 2013 was to develop a heart for hospitality. Hospitality is more than just “entertaining”. It involves much more than well-orchestrated party plans and Pinterest-worthy decorations. It involves opening our home to people who are lonely or never get invited anywhere, not just our friends and family. It is a wonderful time to teach our children how to anticipate the needs of others and to fill those needs – offering to carry something in for the guests, taking their coats, offering them something to drink, thinking of interesting questions to ask guests, finding out what the visiting children like to play and doing what they want to do, etc.

Give so they can give – Giving children an allowance of some kind can help them be more sensitive to the needs of people around them. We’ve found that when our children are given some money of their own, their eyes and ears are more open to people and ministries that they can support. We have been sponsoring a child through Compassion International for several years now, which has made a big impact on our children. They hear about needs during church announcements or about needs of local charities and ask for a shopping trip to buy some small things to contribute.

Teach children to work – Training children to work in the home has blessings that are more far-reaching than a clean house! I’ve found that because my children have been taught to work hard at home, they can actually be a blessing to others. When we have been presented with opportunities to help clean someone’s home or do other physical work, my children are capable to vacuum, dust, do dishes, clean bathrooms and organize because they’re accustomed to it at home. When we visit others’ homes, they are comfortable helping out in the kitchen. We try to help clean up before we leave someone’s home.

Eyes Wide Open – I encourage my children to keep our eyes open wherever we go to see if we can spot an unfilled need. One simple thing that I always have my children do is pick up the trash at the playground we’re at for the day. Oftentimes, the small playgrounds we visit have been visited by local teenagers the night before. Dan and I invite our children to join us for a quick pick-up before we leave the park so that the next person can enjoy it more. It’s not as fancy as an adopt-a-highway program (we don’t get our name on a sign!) but it is just as effective at training the heart of a ready responder. Our next venture is to make up a few of these blessing bags to keep in our van for our winter travels.

the unnoticed

Now it’s your turn!

I’d love to hear about some of the ways – big or small – that you and your children have found to serve those around you. As always, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too!

Our last book discussion will be next Monday, January 13, 2014, when we will be discussion Chapter 12: The Faithful Mother.

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

Our lives are important to God and He has a plan for each and everyone of us, to become literal sons and daughters in His family.  He gives us of His very own spirit, so we can be grow up with His characteristics, one being that of self-control.

To find out more of God’s purpose for you, please send for our booklet“What is Your Destiny?” or click below to read it in a pdf format.

What is Your Destiny?

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 9: Keeper of the Domain

I’m sorry. I seem to have forgotten the preceding chapter with so much activity during the month of December. 😉 So here is Chapter 9 of my daughter’s Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkston book study:

Keeper Of The Doman

I’d like you to think about the most memorable home you’ve ever set foot in – a home in which you felt welcome and comfortable. {Do you have one in mind yet?}

Do you remember what stood out to you the most about the home?

Was it a brightly burning candle welcoming you in out of the dark? The wonderful smells from the kitchen?

Perhaps it was something more personal, like a welcoming smile and hug, or a warm drink waiting for you as you stamped the snow off your boots.

No matter what it was that made you feel welcome, your hostess no doubt made an intentional choice to make you feel that way, and that choice took a certain level of commitment on her part.

However, being a “keeper of the domain” goes beyond merely being a good hostess:

It is a commitment of the heart, mind and soul to the task of subduing (making productive) a very specific part of the earth – the domain of the home. It involves teaching minds and nurturing hearts and shaping souls, in addition to getting the rugs vacuumed and dinner on the table! (p. 163)

When you and I make a commitment to be “keepers of our domains”, we can be sure that it will make a huge difference in the lives of our families.

The task of building our homes into places of beauty and life that will feed the hearts, souls, and minds of our children is the most comprehensive task to which God has called us as mother. We are called to quite literally be “home makers” – to plan and shape a home environment that provides our families with both a safe resting place and a launching pad for everything they do in the world. (p. 161)

If we want to be successful in our commitment, we need to have vision. Do you feel as though you have a vision for your domain? I’m not really sure that I thought much about mine before reading this chapter. Here is Sally’s vision:

Sally Clarkston Quote

What I think it so awesome is that it really doesn’t matter one bit what type of domain we are the keepers of. Whether we live on a sprawling horse ranch or small 2-bedroom apartment in the city, each type of home, with a little work and planning, can become an environment of beauty, warmth and comfort. Each of us can work toward creating a nurturing environment in whatever type of home we have.

 

Iliana served up a smile along with the shortbread cookies she made for our tea yesterday

In this chapter, Sally shares several ways she has tried to achieve this in her own home. They include things like

  • Arranging furniture in way that is conducive to your family gathering for conversation
  • Acquiring the largest table you can to welcome guests into the home
  • Carving out personal space for each member of the family, even if it’s just one shelf in each child’s room for their own treasures
  • Personalizing your home with things that reflect your values, tastes and preferences
  • She shares many more ideas for creating a nurturing enviroment in part 2 of her video for this chapter

It’s important for us to remember, however, that no matter how creative or skilled we are, that the ultimate key to success in creating a nurturing environment is you – the mom!

Although our physical surroundings can make a big difference, what my children and husband need the most from me is not a perfect home or perfect training or a perfectly spiritual role model or a wife without faults – but a mother and wife who is committed to doing whatever it takes to love them and make a home for them.

My attitude is ultimately what makes our house a peaceful haven.

 

The remainder of chapter 9 focuses on practical ideas for helping us keep “a {somewhat} organized home”.

Effective home management is an important part of making a home into a nurturing environment.

Coming up with a plan for subduing the messy details of our domain is essential to maintaining a peaceful atmosphere, teaching children to take care of themselves, and simply keeping the work from overwhelming everyone. (p. 167)

I love how Sally shared her view that home management is first and foremost a stress-reduction system to make life easier and more peaceful for the family – not something we do to live up to some external value system!

It’s easy to get discouraged or covetous when we look over the fence and see another mom with a “perfect” home management system. While it’s great to get ideas from other people if we’re struggling in this area, we need to keep in mind that there is a wide variety of personalities and preferences in the world. What’s important is that we find the combination of routines and systems that suit our lifestyle and then follow through with it!

"She looks well to the ways of her household." ~ Proverbs 31:27

The jam-packed chapter ends with this encouragement~

No matter how much effort and work we put into subduing the domain of the home, chances are, most of it will go unappreciated. Children who live in a stable, well-managed home tend to take that stability for granted. Yet children who have such a “shepherd” in their homes to oversee, provide for, direct, and protect the life of the home will benefit profoundly.

The strong and secure future we help to build for our children is laid by the hundreds of small deeds we do every day as we serve faithfully in our homes. Yet, the great value of our service will be felt for generations to come and throughout eternity.

Now it’s your turn!

Please share one of the things you most enjoy doing as part of your role as keeper of the domain!

{Of course, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too.}

I’m thankful for each and every one of you who are reading and studying along with me. I pray for you individually and hope that you are finding encouragement and inspiration from our study week to week.

We will continue our study next Monday, December 23rd, with Chapter 10: The Creative Mother

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.

Be sure to check out Sally’s videos for this chapter if you feel like you are not naturally good at being a keeper of your domain. She is so encouraging! (Videos: Part 1Part 2)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mission of Motherhood

P.S. I love to write about topics relating to keeping the home! Here are a few posts I’ve written in years past that you may want to save to read later on:

Adding Warmth and Light

Sacrifice in the Mundane

The Comforts of Home

Winter Days on the Farm

Mothering Monday: Guarding Our Time

Taming the Beast of Housework

Chores for Children

I Love Comments

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 10: The Creative Mother

Winter Ice Beauty
Continuing with my daughter’s book study on “The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkston” from Where My Treasure Is at WordPress…..

Yesterday morning, we awoke to a ice-laden wonderland. As I shuffled into the warmly lit living room and gazed out upon the perfect stillness of the crystalline world, the first word that escaped my lips was  ”Woooooow!”

Each of my children, in turn, gasped as they descended the stairs for breakfast and saw the branches bending down heavy on the deck.

Winter Ice Beauty

We spent a long while enjoying our breakfast and discussing the amazing view. Abigail begged for a delay in the morning chores so that she and Iliana could rush outside and capture it before it all melted away.

A bit later, bundled up tight, the two of them slipped off and away through the crunchy land of wonder, breathing little clouds and breathing in the beauty…

Winter Ice Beauty

“Beauty is not just something frivolous;
it is essential to the foundation of our lives.”

In this week’s chapter, Sally shares that one of the best ways that we can appeal to the yearnings for beauty and wonder that God has already placed in our children’s hearts is to expose them to the many facets of God’s artistry as expressed in what He made.

Our children are not just brains that need to be developed academically or trained to think right thoughts. Our children were designed by God to receive pleasure through their senses, their hearts, and their minds, because of all the wonderful things He made for us to enjoy – and also to come to know their Creator through the works of His hands. (p. 182)

To me, introducing our children to God by way of His creation is one of the most joyful parts of mothering!

It is also one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

Winter Ice Beauty

However, helping my children to enjoy and appreciate God’s handiwork in its many varieties requires a choice.

In the modern world that we live in, it is so easy to substitute virtual reality for actual reality – so very easy. We convince ourselves that a quality nature show is as just as good as going outside. That a sensory table filled with a gooey (and sanitary) substances is equivalent to actually playing in the rain and mud. That a virtual pet is just as fun as touching a real, live animal. But by making these “easier” choices, we often don’t realize all that we are choosing to give up. The farther we move from nature the more out of touch we can get with God’s power and reality.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

~ Psalm 8: 3-4 ~

Many children are rarely exposed to the natural elements that were meant to daily confront our soul with the greatness of God. What can be done for these children? Well, there are many great ideas in this chapter of ways to incorporate God’s creation into everyday life. I don’t want to repeat all of her ideas here, but I will share a few of mine that I’ve incorporated into my children’s lives…

1. Experiencing God’s creation through our senses

Eating in Season 
A Simple Summer Supper
Tea with jam and bread
Adding Warmth and Light

2. Experiencing God’s creation through words and ideas

Education is a Life

3. Experiencing God’s creation through the natural world

Our family’s nature studies on:
Winter
Birds
Reptiles
Amphibians
Trees
Human Body

Education in Our Home Series: Science

A New View (a spring walk)
Winter Walk
Winter Morning
The wonder of it

Three Things To Give Kids Every Day This Summer

 Any encounter with God’s outdoors can make a difference. Over the long haul, the more time our children spend in natural settings, both wild and tame, the more deeply they will realize the magnificent message of Jeremiah 32:17:

“Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee!” (p. 188)

Winter Ice Beauty

Filling our homes

Another way that we can help to keep our children’s minds focused on God’s creativity is the way in which we arrange our home environment.

Sally says:

From the time they were very small, I have filled our home with items that appealed to their senses and fed their understanding of God’s beauty and their appreciation of human creativity. (p. 188)

Every woman’s ideas will be different (that’s the beauty of the creative mother!) ~ but each of us can find ways to fill our homes with beauty and inspiration no matter the size of our budget.

In my home, I always try to have fresh flowers on the table throughout the growing season. When the flowers are gone, I decorate with ivy , pinecones and other things we can find around the property. I seek out oversized art books of beautiful paintings for my children to browse through. I intentionally fill our home library with books about God’s creation so that my children can study deeper into the things they find outside.

As a completely NON arts and crafts-type person, it’s been encouraging for me to realize over the past few years that being creative in God’s image encompasses a wide range of activities – from storytelling to house construction to baking to music to crafts to problem solving!

All of the beautiful things that we can fill our homes with to look at, touch, smell and taste were created by God for us to experience so that we could enjoy life more fully. However, He did not intend for these things to bring us fulfillment in and of themselves, but to point beyond the things to the Artist Himself –  to affirm His magnificence, His power and His kindness and generosity in making our lives so full.

He gave us a richly created world to help us know Him better!

Encouraging a creative response

We must remember that being made in God’s image means we are like Him – each of us – including our children! If He is creative, then we also have that potential – all of us!

We can encourage our children’s responses to God’s creation by filling our home with tools and materials for their own creative endeavors. Boxes of art supplies – stickers, paints, crayons, colored pencils, stencils and lots of scrap paper, dress-up clothes from the thrift store, how-to books on drawing, crafts and other hobbies, garden tools and seeds – the list is almost endless! If we are on a budget, a little creativity on our part will make it possible to acquire tools for our children – books from the library, art supplies from garage sales, buying secondhand tools.

An important part of fostering creativity in our children is to model it ourselves in everyday life. We can make small choices everyday to involve our children in what it is that we enjoy doing, whether it’s baking, gardening, photography, web design or any other creative endeavor. One of the things I’ve enjoyed teaching my children to do is to create handmade cards.

When our children practice creating, they begin understanding the Creator God, who is the original Artist!

Winter Ice Beauty

Does it all sound too simple?

Go outside

Bring it inside

Practice creativity

After reading this chapter, did you feel like saying…

OK, Sally, that’s all well and good for you and your {perfect} family, but we live in the REAL WORLD here, not out in Grizzly Adams-Little House on the Prairie-Treehugger Land! My kids are more interested in Minecraft than monarch butterflies, Angry Birds than awesome sunsets, Instagram than an interesting walk in the woods and Big Time Rush than rushing outside to play!

The kind of life you’re talking about is just not reality anymore.

Winter Ice Beauty

Regardless of our family’s lifestyle choices, we all need to ask ourselves this question…

Has God’s magnificence changed over time?

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

~ Psalm 19:1 ~

Does His creation give Him any less glory in our modern, technological age? Has the creativity of the top developers at Apple® finally surpassed His old, worn-out wonders? Have Hollywood’s CGI technicians found a way to outshine the breathtaking view of the heavens at night?

In the book of Job, God takes to answering Job’s questions with questions of His own – questions all about the things He has created.

Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who set its measurements, since you know?…

Or who enclosed the sea with doors,
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
when I made a cloud its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band?

Have you entered the treasury of snow,
or have you seen the treasury of hail?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion oer the earth?

Job 38: 2-5, 8-9, 22, 33

We and our children need Job’s message, today as much as ever before. There is something about the direct experience of God’s natural world that tends to put our human doubts and questions into perspective. (p. 186)

When we invite our children to explore and marvel in God’s creation alongside us,
we learn that His perspective and wisdom and purposes
are vastly different from our human, limited viewpoint.

 Winter Ice Beauty

A lifelong habit

One of my main goals of mothering is to touch my children’s hearts with the overwhelming wonder of God’s presence.

But it will not happen overnight.

Cultivating an appreciation of God’s creation and the “in his image” creativity of our families is a lifelong habit. It takes years to develop and it is built by the ways we choose to live each day. (p. 195)

As mothers, we have an awesome opportunity to draw our children closer to God. We can make small choices in how our young children spend their days. We can invite our teens to take a walk with us or plan a family trip to an exciting new place, full of God’s creation. Any small thing that we can do to get out into God’s creation or bring it into our homes will be worthwhile and have a lasting impact in the lives of our children!

A big thank you to Abigail (my granddaughter) who braved the cold and took all of the photographs in this post!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mission of Motherhood

Now it’s your turn!

Let’s discuss some different ways we can bring our children into contact with God’s magnificent creation! What does your family enjoy doing that involves nature?

As always, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too!

Our next discussion will be in two weeks, on January 6, 2014, when we will be discussion Chapter 11: The Ministering Mother.

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.

Share this:

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 8: Gardener of Souls

Mission of Motherhood


Continuing with my daughter’s book study on Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkston:

“I’m so glad that you’ve joined me today. Let’s get started!

Our study this week builds upon last week’s topic of being a “Strong Friend” to our children. Once we have formed close relationships with our children, we then have the opportunity to positively influence their lives. We can do this in either intentional or unintentional ways. In this chapter, Sally gives us some areas to think about if we want to be intentional in cultivating our “garden of children”.

Cultivating Our Garden of Children

I love Sally’s analogy of mother as cultivator.

Children do not accidentally become mature adults of strong character, great faith, gracious relational skills, effective leadership qualities, and sharp intellects. God’s design includes the presence of a hands-on gardener, a mother, to tend and cultivate their hearts, souls, minds and relationships. As a garden cannot flourish without a gardener, neither can a child reach his or her potential without someone committed to careful cultivation. Just as a garden without a gardener will eventually go to seed and be covered over with weeds and debris, a child whose growth is unsupervised or left to chance will likely grow wild and undisciplined or stunted and unfruitful.

Seeing myself as a gardener is helpful to me as I think of my mission as a mother. After all, I want more for my children than just getting them to adulthood. I want them to thrive. I want them to grow up confident and civilized. I want them prepared to live as abundantly as possible. In order for that to happen, I need to do a little intentional “gardening”. (p. 142)

Mission of Motherhood

Truly, each child we are blessed with in our family is unique with God-given personality traits, strengths and weaknesses. We don’t choose those things, but it is our privilege to work with what is there and help bring it to its potential.

Cultivating our children’s lives should never stem from pretentiousness. We shouldn’t try to “make” them into something that WE want them to be so that we can show them off. Instead, we should, to the best of our ability, equip our children to interact well with others and make a difference in the world once they leave our homes.

Here are four areas for us to consider as we think about cultivating our children’s lives:

Cultivating Real Skills

Helping our children to develop skills that will serve them the rest of their lives has always seemed important to [Clay and me]. Having observed people in many different settings, we realized that those who felt competent in at least one or two areas seemed to have an edge in life. The confidence they gained from knowing what to do in one area carried over into other areas, including the ability to reach out and serve others. Having observed this, we were determined to give our children this kind of confidence by providing sufficient instruction and practice for them to perform certain tasks well. (p. 143)

Like Sally and her husband, Dan and I try to incorporate real skills into the daily activity of our home. For our family, this was one of two primary reasons we pursued living on acreage in the country. Living on a farm provides many “built-in” opportunities for learning skills together. We have seen our children grow in confidence as they learn to many things from stacking firewood to making salsa to feeding baby animals to tending sick livestock.

Mission of Motherhood

Dan teaches Abigail how to make salsa

What the skills are isn’t really all that significant and will vary from family to family. After all, not everyone lives on a farm! 🙂 Skills can be practical things like knowing how to balance a bank account, mow the lawn, bake bread or organize a home or things like taking photographs, playing a musical instrument or knitting blankets.

The common denominator in all of the above skills is that they are useful for real life or useful to serve others. This is a subtle, but yet an important distinction to consider when we are choosing activities for our children. Are the skills that we invest most of our family’s time, money and energy into ones that our children can use later in life?

Helping With Chores

Jonathan learns how to stack firewood properly

There are several very significant things that are accomplished when we make learning skills a priority in our homes:

Providing our children with real skills not only expands their interests and gives them confidence, but it also provides them with constructive ways to use their free time. Teaching skills (or learning them together!) has the added advantage of teaching them how to learn. that is, when we help our children acquire special skills, we are also preparing them mentally for acquiring additional skills on their own. As a bonus, developing skills together helps solidify family relationships. (p. 143)

Cultivating Appropriate Life Experiences

Exposing children to many different life experiences – within the context of family relationships and parental teaching – is essential to broadening their understanding, their interests, and their compassion. If we want to train our children to help bring God’s kingdom into the world, we need to prepare them by letting them come along with us as we reach out to others. (p. 146)

Secular education prides itself on providing these types of experiences to children. They promote “tolerance” of every belief and try to enrich children’s lives with stories and videos about different cultures. The difference between these types of artificially constructed experiences and actual life experiences that you share with your children is this – when you are the one providing these experiences, you can pass on your view about the world and how you can show hands-on just how you hope your children will respond to the people in it.

Part of cultivating our children’s life experience is helping them to understand that not everyone lives the same way that we do. Exposing children to different cultures, living conditions, worldviews and opinions should be done in a careful way, but it should definitely not be neglected.

Taking children different places to meet different types of people does not have to be expensive. While some families have been blessed financially and can afford long trips, others can only stay near home. But once your eyes are open to local and inexpensive opportunities, you will be amazed at the things you can find right in your own neighborhood to help your children grow in their understanding of the world. Some ideas include visiting your local historical museum, serving as volunteers at a local nursing home, visiting a local (free) nature center, attending local school productions of plays and musicals or being involved in 4-H.

4H Fair

Visiting our local science museum and reading about the evolution of the mastadon

I often talk to other parents who take this point to an extreme, though. They are very concerned about providing their children with “quality life experiences”, such as expensive trips, inclusion in all the “right” clubs/groups, summer camp, sleepovers, a jam-packed activity schedule, etc. But sometimes these pursuits can be to the detriment of family unity or push aside other important things like Biblical training. Offering life experience does not necessarily equate to helping out children check items off their ”bucket lists” – rather, it is a way of living life in which we keep our eyes open to the things and people around us and learn how to fully interact with life!

New Experiences

After reading many books about boats, my children were excited to try a rowboat for the first time and learn about working with or against a current.

Cultivating Manners and Graciousness

Sally says:

I am convinced that mothers have a lot to do with the manners of their children. And yes, I am really talking about yet another set of real-life skills. No child I know is naturally polite and thankful and prone to take the initiative. No child instinctively knows what to do in a social setting. And yet a child who doesn’t know how to act with others will suffer socially the rest of his or her life! Job interviews, professional interactions, marriage and family relationships, and friendships are all enhanced by politeness and graciousness or suffer because of thoughtlessness or rudeness.

Cultivating our children’s manners and gracious attitudes not only makes them more pleasant to live with, but it also helps give our children a platform of confidence on which to build their future lives. (p. 149)

There are many ways to train our children in graciousness, and most of them are very small things – writing a thank you note after receiving a gift, welcoming visitors into our home with a smile and an offer to carry their things inside, volunteering to hold someone’s baby when you can tell they need a break – even just smiling and looking at people’s faces when they’re speaking!

This is one of the areas of raising children that is very easy to overlook, but also very easy to incorporate into their training – if we ourselves have a servant’s heart. {Related posts: Teaching Respect for the ElderlyRaising Children Who Serve}

Serving The Elderly

My children making new friends with some of the elderly brethren in a new church area.

Cultivating Appetites for Excellence

Is exposing our children to ”the finest” art, music and literature really necessary for them to have fulfilling lives? You may argue that it is not…and you may be right.

However…

Making an intentional effort to come alongside our children and help them to develop tastes and appetites that are edifying, uplifting and God-honoring is a worthy use of our time, because there is so much mediajunk out there waiting to be consumed. I think that sometimes parents let children decide for themselves at too young an age what is appropriate and what isn’t, stating that a young child’s “personal preference” must be taken into account. But how do young children know what is high quality unless they are exposed to it? How do their minds learn to stretch and grow unless they are challenged beyond what “everyone” is listening to?

You may think of “the arts” as either high-browed and stuffy or something that requires large amounts of money to participate in. This is simply not true. There are ways to help develop children’s appetites for “good things” that are neither expensive or pretentious.

Music:

Many towns and cities offer free outdoor concerts in the summer that showcase a wide variety of music. Local high school concerts are usually free. If you are blessed to live near a university, you have access to many amazing free concerts! Our local civic orchestra offers special concerts for students at a steeply discounted price.

A few members of our local homeschool group attended this concert last month. (Photo courtesy of Diana W.)

Art:

Local art shows or craft fairs are usually free to attend and can give children the inspiration to get involved in art. Again, local community colleges and universities often have student work on display for free. Large-format art books can be borrowed from the library, displayed at home and enjoyed – all for free!

Literature:

Helping children develop a love of great literature does not need to cost anything except time. It takes times to research good books and it takes time to read to our children. Building a home library of quality books does not need to cost a great deal of money, either, but it can make an enormous difference in our children’s lives.

But what if you did not grow up with a wide range of experiences yourself and don’t know what is actually “good”? Well, you could look on the bright side and realize how blessed you are to have the opportunity to learn right along with your children and share in the excitement of new things!

Sally says:

As we practice nurturing their minds, the natural result is that our own tastes are refined as well. Exploring the worlds of literature, art, and music with my children – and doing the research to discover what to explore with them – has certainly broadened my education in these areas, and I have relished the chance to learn along with them. (p. 153)

I was raised in a very musical family. However, I had less exposure to art, poetry and great literature, so I’ve had to learn about these things along with my children. It has been an exciting journey! I’ve shared some of our beginning discoveries as we’ve delved into these areas in these blog posts: musicartpoetryand literature. They may give you some ideas to get started with as well!

Remember…

The way you tend your children’s lives will depend on your particular interests, skills, and convictions – as well as on the needs and personalities of each child. The overall benefit of your intentional “gardening” is that your children will blossom in mind, heart and soul because you took the time not only to love and protect them but to cultivate their skills, experiences, relationships and appetites.

Rose

“Blessed are the children whose mothers garden in the soil of their souls. The fruit they bear will not only serve them in the future, but a whole generation will be beautified and enriched!” – Sally Clarkson

Now it’s your turn!

I’d love to hear about something that you and your husband have chosen to cultivate in your children – a skill that you are teachingan experience that you’ve intentionally carved out for them or a habit in manners that you are working on. You are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too.

Thank you for being here today! We will continue our study next Monday, December 16th, with Chapter 9: Keeper of the Domain.

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.


Related

“The Mission of Motherhood” Discussion Group Kick-off!
In “Mission of Motherhood Book Club”

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 5: The Discipling Mother
In “Mission of Motherhood Book Club”

Mothering Monday: You’re a barometer! (Plus, a new book club)
In “Mother Life”

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

Children and Encouragement

Encouraging Child

  “I once read a popular child-training book that warned readers not to affirm their children too much, lest they come to depend on the affirmation.  The author also cautioned that verbal encouragement is essentially flattery and could cause children to be vain.  I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now!” 1

I agree. Unfortunately this is the norm in our society. There are many on this women’s page that have grown up without encouragement from their moms and/or dads.  In fact, many grew up in dysfunctional families, their cup void of this vitally important element, encouragement.  Satan certainly has had his hands in the destruction of our families throughout Western culture, destroying personal time we would have had to stop our busyness and become familiar with our children so that we can see their good qualities and make it known to them as often as we can. It takes thought and effort, but it’s well worth the sacrifice.

If we don’t make the effort, our children can suffer from discouragement to the point of not believing they are lovable.  There’s a delicate balance between discipline and encouragement;  but oftentimes the encouragement is lacking. As they grow up, they can come to feel that their Father in heaven doesn’t love them unconditionally, and that they can never do enough to earn His approval.  How can we teach our children God is an encouraging God and that He has unconditional love for them?

God offers a solution to our dilemma.  He has given us His words of life, the story of who He is. He encouraged others, and asked that we follow in His footsteps. There is much to say about His love for us.  Christ was a very encouraging Teacher; and the Bible says that “If we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.”

John 6:46 “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father.”

John 14:9 “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”

“Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He constantly used words of encouragement to affirm those around Him.  “I’ve never seen such great faith in all of Israel” to a Roman solider…  “A man in whom there is no guile!” to reach the heart of Nathaniel.  “Mary has chosen the good part!” to the friend who put aside her duties in order to sit at His feet to listen to Him.” 1

Encouragement gives us all the motivation to be the best we can be, to keep going, to try to live up to what God has planned for us, to live happy, whole lives. Think about it.  As a wife, we certainly long for our husband’s appreciation.  Don’t we all thrive in that kind of environment?

That is not to say that we must praise our children indiscriminately, however.  It has to be true, based on careful observation of a child’s strengths and efforts.  Christ gives us an example of His heart of encouragement in Revelation chapter 3 in His letter to the churches when giving correction.  He always searches for the good in the churches before he gives correction.

“Even gentle words of correction if balanced with affirmation of a child’s potential and efforts, can be encouraging but thoughtless criticism merely stings a child’s soul.” 1

“I really appreciate you helping me today! I don’t know what I would do without my strong boy!” “What a great job you did on making the table beautiful! God has made you so artistic!” “Thank you for caring so much for your brother by sharing your toys with him!” “Thank you for being so nice asking to help mommy…..” This list is endless.  Create opportunities so that you can appreciate and express your thankfulness.

I know I have to stop throughout the day, even though my kids are grown and left home, and remember that they still need encouragement too.  If you feel discouraged, the best way to overcome that feeling is to show appreciation and encourage someone else. An added bonus, it’s a surefire remedy for being overly critical, a character trait we all strive to overcome. If we continue to remind ourselves to do this, it will become second nature. Try tacking notes throughout your home or wherever you are most of the day for gentle reminders. If you work outside the home, try  leaving encouraging notes on the kitchen table where your children will see them first thing in the morning. My husband was great with this when my children were growing up.  Many of them still have his notes collected from their childhood years. Start with your children today and watch your children blossom.

Let’s, therefore, take the time to season our words today with appreciation and encouragement, so that we can be the nurturer that God designed us to be.

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments

* 1 “Mission of Motherhood” by Sally Clarkston

My daughter has begun a book study on the above book.  You can join in on the discussion through the chapters by visiting Mission of Motherhood Book Study.  We’d love to hear from you!  Keep up the good work ladies! Love to you all!

What is Your Destiny is a great booklet to describe God’s love for you, that you can become His very child in His family.  A book of great encouragement!

What is Your Destiny

Published in: on December 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Mission of Motherhood ~ Chapter 7: Strong Friend

Mission of Motherhood

Welcome back to my daughter’s book study post on chapter 7 of “The  Mission of Motherhood.” by Sally Clarkston. 🙂

“How am I supposed to do it, Dan?

I gave my husband a pleading look as I stood near the stove top, browning yet another skillet of ground beef for the freezer meals I was preparing.

Please tell me how I can find joy in my work today!

I had been gazing dismally at the hours of the day that stretched out before me that would involve large amounts of cooking, mountains of laundry, grocery shopping, giving piano lessons to 3 children and other menial tasks. I just wanted to go back to bed.

It would be different if the work I was doing was actually accomplishing something, I went on. But every single thing on my ”to-do” list today is something that I’m going to have to do again. I will wash all of these same clothes next weekend. These meals that I’m making will be consumed and I will have to cook more of them. I will drive to the same grocery store and push the same cart and buy the same groceries again and again. My work is not like creating a beautiful quilt or an orchestral symphony – something that has a finite ending and that can be admired and appreciated. It never ends!

He looked at me for a minute and smiled.

The children are your quilt!

The work that you are doing with them will last much longer than any old quilt. You are teaching them things that they can pass on to their children and their children beyond. A quilt can’t do that!

I let his words sink in during the long hours of the day.

As I worked my way through the day, I made an extra effort to smile at the children when our paths crossed. We had a few tasks to do together, such as folding the laundry, but for most of the day, they were thoroughly engrossed in something in our landing upstairs, out of my view. When I returned from grocery shopping in the late afternoon, they were beside themselves with excitement to show me the “houses” they had made.

I really had no idea what they had been up to all day, but as I rounded the corner of the foyer and looked up, I got the idea real quick.

Whatever it was, it was going to be an ENORMOUS mess!

I had a split second to make a decision.

Would I be a friend and share in my children’s excitement? Or would I trample on it?

Wow! You sure worked hard on your houses! I can’t wait to see inside them!

The various houses boasted different amenities – a root cellar, a baby’s nursery, a nice sitting room, roomy bookshelves. Many homes had their own sources of light (from a nightlight or flashlight) and most of them had a cozy bed.

But every single little “house” had one thing in common – a smiling, excited face inviting me in for a visit. Each child was proud of the hard work they put into “building” their houses and they were so pleased that I took the time to admire them (even Emma!)

Later on that evening, after the mess town had been cleaned up and put away (by the children), I thought back to my own childhood and all the forts and houses my siblings and I built. I know how stressed out I would have been if my mom had constantly sighed and griped about the messes we were making or if she was resentful about our child-likeness and messy creativity.

Even though taking a few minutes to admire my children’s blanket houses seemed insignificant to my adult sensibilities, I could tell that it really made each of my children feel loved. What a tiny thing!

But the tiny things add up, and over the years, our friendship will be the fruit of the time that we’ve invested in each other.

In Chapter 7 of The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for EternitySally Clarkson discusses five relationship principles that she has found to be vital in forming close bonds with her children. She says:

As a mother, I have the ability to provide the love, acceptance and attention my children need to grow up secure and able to develop mature relationships. I also have the opportunity to model mature love, commitment, forgiveness, accountability, grace and encouragement for my children. The home is an ideal environment in which children can experience the growth of a mature relationship where give-and-take are learned in the context of real life. And this ideally includes an understanding of the true power of God’s love. (p. 124)

{I have shared my thoughts on 4 of the 5 principles in previous posts, so I will share those links below, along with a quote from each section of the book.}

Relationship Principle #1: Time and Availability

“It’s important to realize that spending time with kids means so much more than just getting the parenting job done. Sometimes it’s easy for busy parents to forget this. We become so focused on training our children, correcting them, teaching them responsibility, and providing them with enriching activities that we forget how important it is just to be around them.

Helping our children build godly character is indeed essential and requires years of diligence. [However], people grow close not through monitoring one another’s behavior but by working together, playing together, talking together, celebrating together, weeping together.

Relationships develop when people are there for each other – and that’s as true for parents and children as it is for anyone else.” (p. 126)

My post: Individual Time with our Children

Relationship Principle #2: Acceptance and Unconditional Love

“In building meaningful relationships with my children, I must learn to accept unconditionally the person God made each of them to be – even with personality traits that differ from mine or that make me uncomfortable. I need to accept the “warts” and irritating characteristics that may ever change. I have to love my children with a mature commitment that reaches past my feelings for them, which can change from circumstance to circumstance.

It is this basic acceptance tha provides children with the opportunity to mature.” (p. 128-9)

My post: Advocate or Adversary?

Relationship Principle #3: Affirmation and Encouragement

“Encouragement gives all of us the impetus to keep going, to keep trying to live up to our ideals. As we accept and encourage our children, we will teach them to be encouraging in their own relationships. Children who are constantly criticized will tend to be negative and critical in their relationships with others. When children feel appreciated and encouraged, they become encouragers themselves, sources of life and hope in an often discouraging world.” (p. 133)

My post: The Gift of Encouraging Words

Relationship Principle #4: Grace

“All of us are sinful and will blow our own standards and God’s again and again and again. Because of this sinful nature, we also have a sense of our own inadequacy – and an intense need to be loved and forgiven and trusted despite it all. This kind of unmerited favor is available to all of us from our heavenly Father. But children also desperately need this from their parents.

Obviously it’s important to hold our children to high standards. They need structure and discipline in their lives. But they also need grace for their failures, just as you and I need grace. If we are consistent in guiding our children in the right direction, and extend grace to them to be immature on the way to maturity, then we will have the best chance of maintaining both our standards and a close relationship with our children. (p. 134)

Relationship Principle #5: Relationship Training

“We need to consciously train [our children] in the skills and attitudes that will enable them to sustain positive relationships.

A person can only experience true intimacy when his heart has been deepened and exercised in real love and commitment. Consequently, an important part of deeply loving our children is training them to deeply love themselves and others. We train them by helping them to confront their own sin and selfishness and to replace these attitudes with patient and generous love. This provides them with something to give in a meaningful relationship and seals their ability to be the best they can be.” (p. 135)

My (guest mentor’s) post: Raising Children Who Serve

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now it’s your turn!

Would you care to share one way in which you intentionally invested in your relationship with one of your children this past week? As always, you are also welcome to share a favorite quote or your answer to one of the study questions from this week’s chapter, too. :)

Thank you for being here today! We will continue our study next Monday, December 9th, with Chapter 8: Gardener of Souls.

To view all posts in this book study, click HERE.

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments